This week

By Vita Forest

Barangaroo, Sydney

This week I have been


  • lots more of my novel – I am on a roll!
  • Creep

FALLING over and skinning my knee.  Ironic as I had just written about a character doing something quite similar.


  • The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis with my class.  We particularly focused on the description of Lucy’s first visit to Narnia…

REHEARSING our performance group ready for the big combined schools show on in a couple of weeks


  • Riviera on SBS
  • early morning lorrikeets visiting the bottle brush trees outside my window as I write.

MAKING my kids cook one meal each this week (Max – ramen, Lucy – fish and veggies).  Making sure they have some life skills.

Barangaroo – this week I drew rocks

SKETCHING at Barangaroo – it even rained a bit!  (We are a very intrepid bunch of sketchers).

The different textures of Barangaroo

MEETING with Sui-Sui for a bit of lunch, sharing of books and an intense conversation



By Vita Forest

I’ve been thinking about Harvey Weinstein.

I’ve been thinking about Donald Trump.

And Noa Jansma from Holland who snaps a selfie with every man that wolf whistles, or cat calls, or propositions her with, “I know what I would do with you baby” “wehee horny girl” “hmmm you wanna kiss?” (She asks permission for the photo, they don’t ask permission to appraise her).  See Dear Catcallers It’s not a compliment (on Instagram)

And thinking about Jane Gilmore “fixing” media reports of male violence against women on #FixedIt  (“A woman is dead.  A man is accused of killing her.  Police allege domestic violence” – not – “Man accused of running over woman at strip club parking lot”.  He’s not a “thwarted lover” he’s a “violent man”).

And this week, in the next suburb, a woman lay dead outside a high-rise building.  Another victim of domestic violence.  Her attacker was known to police.

And I think about my own children and the kids in my class and hope that we’re raising a generation that will not accept the entitlement of bullies, that know they do not always have to keep a secret, that know the right way to treat women – to treat everyone.  That know what consensual means, that don’t abuse their power, that stand up for themselves and others, that treat everyone with respect.

This week

By Vita Forest

From Wendy’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay

This week I have been

WRITING chapter after chapter of my novel, but nothing for the blog.  Sorry.  I am trying something new where I set a timer and work and work work until the alarm goes off.  It’s really working!


  • Shipwrecks, Sailors and Sixty Thousand Years by Jackie French (in preparation for next term).
  • The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal

PAPERING two huge boards in two classrooms with medieval-style maps of Australia and its surrounds, ready for  Term 4.

From Clarke Park, Lavender Bay

VISITING Lavender Bay with Betty and Diana, then again to do some sketching from a slightly different angle.


CATCHING up with two cousins from two different sides of the family on the same day!  Wow!

CELEBRATING my nephew’s third birthday (pirate theme).


Berry’s Bay, Waverton

  • around Ball’s Head, Waverton
  • around Curl Curl to try and spot some of the whales that have been passing by Sydney and eventually

On the headland near North Curl Curl

SPOTTING some spray shooting up out of the water off North Curl Curl

This week

By Vita Forest

View across to the city from Taronga Zoo

This week I have been

WRITING I want my life to be just like a…

READING The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (again – how fantastic is this book?)

WATCHING the High School Musicals (see above)

WALKING from Thirroul to Coalcliff with my kids and sister Briony

Walking the iconic Sea Cliff bridge near Coal Cliff

VISITING Taronga Zoo with my sisters and kids and seeing the new baby elephant

ATTENDING a lecture at The Australian Museum by photographer Jess Bray and seeing the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition 

SKETCHING at Hickson Road (mighty windy – another spot of extreme sketching) and

DISCOVERING how wonky a lot of those wharf buildings really are

PICNICKING at Castelcrag with Lucy and thinking that Harold Reid Reserve looked kinda like Mt Fuji  from our angle, don’t you think?

SEEING flannel flowers on the way down to the picnic spot.

I want my life to be just like a…

By Vita Forest

These school holidays we have had a movie marathon.  A movie marathon of the High School Musical movies.  Night after night, we watch as Troy and Gabriela and all the gang meet and smile and sing and dance and learn and grow and iron out their misunderstandings.  The songs get slicker, the dancing more intricate, the special effects increasingly elaborate.

There are shows within shows, there are parts where they are singing but are not singing, not dancing.  Chad sings a song called “I don’t dance” even as he sings and dances.  He is not one of those kind of kids.  They live in a world of rules and expectations where to break them is to disappoint and confuse.  The pressure of their friends and their families to conform to ideas of who they should be is almost soul destroying.

And I see the bright-eyed natural kid with a bit of blond in his hair in the first film, shining on the screen, appealing, likeable.  And I know that as the years go on, he and Gabriela will kiss for real.  Will fall in love for real.  And fall out of it.  And part.  And move on.  My phone tells me he will have issues with drugs and alcohol and violence.  But he hasn’t had a drink for four years now.

So that’s good.

And Gabriela, so full of hope, so wholesome, will nearly not make it to the third film for a mistake, for trusting the wrong people to keep those photos private, intimate, for their eyes only.

And that Rocket Man, so droll, so light, so silly – will terrorize his ex in years to come, until she fears for her life and her sanity.

And they all look so young.  And my kids were so young when we first cuddled on the couch, watching their adventures.  Back then, they were not yet at school, let alone high school.  Let alone old enough to know whether it was all just a dream after all.

This time, we pull apart some of the threads, some of the themes, speak about some of the lessons.  Friends can be mean, friends can be so selfish that they don’t want you to succeed.  (Luckily these ones on the screen realise their mistake and all is forgiven).  Dads can be kind of dumb, trying to relive their own younger years, trying to be part of the gang when they should be adults, when they should let their kids find their own way, have their own plans.  If you’re not careful you can be pushed and pulled and moulded into shapes you don’t want to make.  You can lose yourself trying to please others.  There will always be unfairness – always the Sharpays with their own rules, their money and their far-reaching grasp that can fix the system in their favour.  It’s funny how she gets her own car spot, her own assistant, her own lunch tray complete with pink flowers in a vase.  Until it’s not.

We noticed the homages to other movies, other stories – boy and girl from two different worlds like in Romeo and Juliet, the staff stealing the limelight at the talent show like in Dirty Dancing, Troy dancing out his frustrations like in Footloose, even Troy being seduced to want a different life like in, I kid you not, Great Expectations.  My kids now notice that Ryan is probably gay, that all the adults are pretty stupid, but not so dangerously stupid as in A Series of Unfortunate Events, but that it’s still up to the kids to set the world right.  We talk about how some of these lines have entered our own lexicon (What time is it?  Always – Summer time! 16, 16, 16 more minutes running out of time… and so it goes).

We dug out these old DVDs after Max heard a girl at school, all of fifteen, saying how much she loved them.  Indeed, they were worth revisiting, worth a trip down memory lane.  These films, like that other gem Strictly Ballroom give you an instant lift, an instant pick you up.

We all need one of those sometimes.












This week

By Vita Forest

Reflections at Rushcutters Bay

This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales 10: in which Christabel is charmed by a singing stone


  • The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo which spurred a bit of


Yachts at Rushcutters Bay

LAUGHING when one of my students won a “look alike” competition with a Poo emoji soft toy…

FINISHING a very busy Term 3 at school

SKETCHING a fantastically gnarled tree at Rushcutter’s Bay on a summery Saturday

GIVING myself permission to laze in bed and sleep in rather than doing a yoga class

PLANNING some holiday expeditions and catchups

PICNICKING near the Lane Cove River with my parents and my sister Briony

And here’s that tree again!

Mobile Tales 10: in which Christabel is charmed by a singing stone

By  Vita Forest

Like the reliable sailor she was, Christabel kept a close watch on all the goings-on in her part of the ocean from her post on the Good Ship Possession anchored in the ceiling.

On this particular day, she peered through her spy glass over the starboard side of the galleon and trained the instrument down into the ocean.  She was following the progress of a large grey stone travelling from a continental shelf in The Lounge Room to its new resting place on the murky floor of The Tabletop.  The stone was about the size of a block of parmesan cheese with rounded edges and a growth of silver barnacles on its upper side.  It sat solidly on the ocean floor, sending ripples over the surface of The Tabletop.

She was not the only one whose interest had been piqued by this stone.  The great white whale had followed the procession of the stone and had leapt up onto the The Tabletop to inspect the new arrival.  The stone was sniffed and nuzzled and found to be quite satisfactory.  It lay there, sturdily on the ocean floor, settling into the sand.

The light was shining in from the northern windows and sending drifting shafts down to the deep part of the ocean.  It was afternoon.  The whale lost interest in the stone and leap from The Tabletop again to gaze out the window at the World Beyond and enjoy the warmth of the sun’s caress on her soft white skin.  Christabel did the same – lost interest in the stone that is, there was no point looking at a stone when one could look at a whale.

But suddenly, the attention of both Christabel and the whale was drawn back to the stone by a most surprising occurrence.  The stone starting singing.  Christabel stood for a moment in amazement, listening to the notes of a – what was it?  surely a piano? which drifted up, spiralling on the eddies of the water until it seemed to wash over the bow of the Good Ship Possession itself.  Christabel not only heard it but felt it too.

It was quite extraordinary.

She closed the spy glass and it put it back in its holder and held onto the wooden side of the ship with both paws.

Yes!  It was true – she could feel the singing.  Christabel closed her eyes and felt the reverberations travel into her paws, up her legs, all the way to her scalp.  How the fur stood up on the back of her neck!  How the notes danced off the end of her tail!  She stood for a few moments, listening and feeling.  Feeling and listening.  The deep resonance of the low notes.  The sharp percussive spike of a high one.  She was being washed over in sound.

Eventually, when her whole body had been loosened and calmed with all the cricks and the aches and the pains erased, Christabel opened her eyes again and took a deep breath.  The piano music continued to sing up from the stone, filling the water, filling the air, filling the galleon.  In her peaceful state, she took out her spyglass once more and trained it down onto the stone.  The white whale was entwined about it, its eyes closed in a state of bliss as the waves of sound fell over its spine.

How marvellous, thought Christabel.  How mysterious.

And she closed up her spyglass and lay down on the deck of the galleon and listened and felt the music soar up through the water, through the creaking wooden boards of the galleon and into her very bones.