Holiday watchlist

By Vita Forest

Last week on holildays in Kiama, we took some DVDs to watch each night.  Here is what we chose…  A bit of nostalgia, a bit of fun, a few classics…  All recommended!

  • The Hundred Foot Journey (2014 ) Lasse Hallstrom’s feel-good film about what happens when a family of Indian immigrants buys a run-down restaurant across the road from a Michelin-star winning restaurant in a picturesque French village.  Rivalry, racism, love and food!
  • The Goonies (1985) A bunch of kids set out on an adventure in a last ditch attempt to save their town from unscrupulous developers.  Treasure maps, pirates, legends, and lots of screaming.  Features some familiar faces from the 1980s.
  • Rosalie Blum (2015) – An alligator, a peeing thief, and a dog masquerading as a lion… all appear in this French film about three lonely people whose lives intersect in unexpected, hilarious and heart-warming ways.
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – a thirteen year old boy who’s a ‘real bad egg’ and a surly loner  go on the run from the authorities in the New Zealand bush.  Taika Waititi’s classic.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – an animated film directed by Hayao Miyazaki and based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones.  As always from Studio Ghibli, it features superb animation, complex characters who are never truly good or evil and mouth-watering scenes of food.
  • Strictly Ballroom (1992) – Baz Luhrman and his team’s first film and my favourite of all of them!  The battle between the new and the old set in the world of ballroom dancing – and featuring some familiar Sydney locations.  A magic  blend of music, humour and visual delights.  The perfect pick me up when you’re feeling down.
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – the classic Hollywood musical set in the 1920s with fabulous songs, dancing and a winning story.  Just heaven!

We also picked up a couple of other titles while browsing op shops etc.  These were

  • The Sound of Music
  • The Matrix

What have you been watching?

From the balcony

By Vita Forest

In the early morning

There are joggers and cyclists

Dark silhouettes against the pearly sky

And the band of bootcampers

Swinging bells and balls

As they squat and straighten

On the soft green grass

 

I sit sipping tea

As they walk beneath the balcony

We’ve come to show you their hair,

the mother says to the white-haired neighbour watching the sea

And the girls turn obligingly to show

the twisted plaits

That start at their temples

And ring their skulls

Like crowns

 

The father in the singlet shepherds his kids across the carpark

She, riding a tiny white horse

Rolling on plastic wheels that grind on the asphalt

He, a blue grown-up scooter that

glides smooth with every press of his foot

while a car waits and lets them pass

engine idling

 

The black-clad teenager pulls in below

beneath the long flickering fingers of the pine

Sits a moment

Not yet time to start his shift

At the restaurant across the way

Just time enough to listen to one more song

As the engine ticks and cools

 

A Sydney Christmas

By Vita Forest

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  This is how I spent the day…

  • Woke to a chorus of brightly coloured lorrikeets outside my window.
  • Polished and tinkered and tested new synonyms for my novel’s logline and synopsis (the hardest 300 words I have written).
  • Swam my first kilometre of the summer at Balmoral Beach.
  • Enjoyed the coolness of the water as the weather heated up.
  • Watched children testing out their new Christmas presents – surfboards, balls, blow-up rings under a clear blue summer sky.
  • Cut up fragrant mint and parsley leaves for a salad.
  • Spoke to my children, off in Tasmania with their father.
  • Drove my parents to my sister Molly’s house for a family Christmas where I was
  • Greeted by a young Jedi brandishing his new light sabre.
  • Drank champagne and lashings of cold water to stay cool.
  • Sat under a ceiling fan and ate cold meats, cheese, dips, bruschetta, crackers, crusty bread, olives and lots of different salads (a fab cold Christmas lunch on such a hot day).
  • Wore silly hats after pulling Christmas crackers.
  • Watched my niece and nephew squealing and hurling themselves down their new blow-up waterslide and paddling pool that just fits into their little inner-city backyard.
  • Read books about dinosaurs with the young Jedi.
  • Promised my niece some holiday sketching outings.
  • Discussed possible names for the new bubbas about to arrive in the family.
  • Chatted to my sister as we cleaned up the kitchen.
  • Opened presents brought to us by the Christmas elves (my niece and nephew).
  • Arrived home feeling pooped.
  • Lay on the couch and binged on Das Boot on SBS On Demand (recommended).

The acorn

By Vita Forest

On that first day

In the gardens of the Imperial Palace

(In the part that you can visit

If you are ordinary

And not royal)

Lucy found an acorn on the pathway

Gleaming in the rain

We looked around but could not see

Totoro

Perhaps he was atop one of the lush leafy trees

That dripped rain onto the soft grass

and the beds of thickly-planted iris

Perhaps he still had his wide black umbrella

And did not need our smaller paler shelters

Translucent as raindrops

This week

By Vita Forest

Castle Cove

This week I have been

WRITING a short story, some poems, a Maths program and a bit of my novel

READING up on Japan

WATCHING a Harry Potter marathon with Lucy

Towards Castle Cove from the Harold Reid Foreshore Track, Middle Cove

EXPLORING part of Willoughby on a few sections of the Round Willoughby Walk with Lucy.  We managed 19km! and

Castlecrag

TESTING to see if some borrowed hiking shoes will do the job (they will)

Middle Cove

CLIMBING the equivalent of 110 stories as we marched up and down headlands, cliffs and hills on many many stairs and

Castlecrag from Middle Cove

ADMIRING many lovely views and

Can you see the wrecks in the bay?

SPOTTING the wrecks of old boats in Salt Pan Creek and

A lyrebird! Right there!

SEEING lots of birds – wrens, magpies, lorrikeets and other parrots and even a  lyrebird in suburban Sydney and

NOTICING many many plants – ferns, wattle and other native plants in flower

ATTENDING

  • a Poetry Workshop
  • a Weaving with Weeds Workshop with Briony and making a basket out of green waste

VISITING the Maritime Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition with my parents and children

CHOREOGRAPHING a class item for next term

RIDING my bike

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

WRITING

DISCUSSING our writing and having a good laugh with my Writers’ Circle pals

READING

  • Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

CATCHING up with all sorts of friends during the school holidays – lovely to see you all!

SKETCHING at Carriageworks and enjoying the warmth of the winter sunshine

DOING a whole bunch of ‘Life Admin’ chores

VISITING

  • Manly with Briony
  • Carriageworks, Redfern

INDULGING in a few mornings of sleeping in

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

WRITING school reports!

READING

  • Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
  • A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

VISITING Culburra  for the long weekend with Sui-Sui and Alessandro where we went

EXPLORING Nowra and touring beautiful old Meroogal

STOPPING for a drink at the fabulous Steampunk Dog and Monocle in downtown Nowra

COOKING up a storm at the beach house in Culburra

MOTORING up to Gerringong for a burger and chips and

MEETING up with Betty and Bob  who had the same idea!

EXPLORING

  • Crookhaven Head
  • Callala Beach
  • Currarong

STOPPING into lovely Kiama on the way home and seeing dolphins, a stingray and a rainbow.

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

READING The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (but only a little bit because I have been)

WRITING

VISITING

  • The Grounds of the City with Max and Lucy (Steampunk meets Fantastic Beasts Oh and the food was delicious!)
  • The Anzac Bridge on Anzac Day (Lucy and I (and Max and Briony for a bit) walked from St Leonards to Rozelle following part of the route of The 7 Bridges walk with a few adjustments.
  • lovely work colleagues and ex-colleagues.
  • Gelateria Gondola for the most sensational choc-orange gelato…

WATCHING

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society with Betty (very lovely).
  • Sami in Paradise at Belvoir St Theatre (it’s been a while since I’ve seen something from this fantastic company – absolutely brilliant!)

ATTENDING an Open Mic Night with my Writers’ Circle group (we all read from our novels) and Sui-Sui and Alessandro.  Very inspiring!

SEWING costumes

GETTING ready to return to school tomorrow…

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

READING The Amber Spyglass  by Philip Pullman (I cannot recommend this trilogy enough!)

WRITING, WRITING, WRITING

VISITING

  • Op shops for costumes for our performance group
  • School
  • That lady and her unicorn at the AGNSW
  • Middle Cove for some spectacular views
  • The Coal Loader at Waverton for some

SKETCHING twice in one week!

MAKING costumes for our performance group

ATTENDING my new Writers Circle (getting lots of great ideas and encouragement).

PICNICKING by the harbour with Lucy and Max.

GETTING a bit of rest.

Lapping

By Vita Forest

I was swimming back and forth across the pool.  The pool edged in rocks and shells and soft green moss.  I was swimming with my head above the water, legs moving like a frog below.  I was feeling the wind on my face, and remembering how yesterday, the high seas had sent waves over the sides of the pool, pushing me away from the rock wall.  How I laughed with a stranger as our bodies were swept back by the cold effervescent water that poured in from the sea.  But today, the seas have calmed, have dropped back down to a more civilised level.  The Surf Beach is open again, red and gold flags fluttering in the breeze, the whole bay no longer churning with white water.

I had swum in the surf with my kids, the waves still looking mighty big as they came roaring towards us.  But the bay was not completely awash with white water.  And the flags were out, and the lifesavers.  So it seemed alright.  But now I was back at the pool on the headland, stately stroking onwards in a kind of moving meditation.  Above me, a pelican arced overhead like a kite, doing its own kind of laps, floating back and forth over the meandering edge of the black rock headland, wings outstretched, held up there between the sun and the sea.

There were a few of us crossing forwards and backwards along the far side of the pool.  For exercise, for fitness, or was it a remnant of body memory from when we were kids?  When swimming meant racing or squad training, counting the laps, watching the clock, pushing your body until it felt like it would explode.  I have mellowed since then, but I still feel the need to swim up and down.  Now I do it at lower speeds with my head out of the water so my ears don’t ache and I can look at the scenery as I go.

There were others in the pool who had obviously never been competitive swimmers, whose eyes didn’t automatically divide the water with invisible lines, straight and narrow.  They splashed and floated across the pool, or hovered in pairs chatting by the rocky outcrops or leapt in right where I was about to swim.  I could see the look of frustration on the face of a fellow lapper, but really, who was right?  Why did we think that swimming should be done this way and not that?  And we were on holidays after all.  Did it really matter if we had to detour around the woman lounging on the blow-up bed holding herself in place with a hand cupped over a bulge of black rock?  If speed and straightness was really what you were after, you could always go to the chlorinated indoor pool up the hill, with its lanes marked out with rows of black tiles and by rigid ropes strung tight between hooks at either end of its fifty metres.

But I prefer this pool with its unruly edges, its uneven rock floor and the occasional fish that floats beneath our feet, causing the boy with the goggles to shriek excitedly, “Two fish! Really big ones!”  I prefer my fingers to stroke the green moss softening the jagged rocks on the pool’s edges, where you can stop and look out at the sea and perhaps catch a glimpse of a crab sidling along, emerging and submerging beneath the water.

When I climbed up the metal ladder and balanced my way across the concrete path, back to my towel, I heard a small girl announcing to her mother as she held up a shell, “Look!  He’s still inside his egg.  Look!  He’s still there!”  And they peered into the heart of the small rounded shell she had pulled from the rock pool at her feet, and I pulled on my hat and my clothes and walked up the hill and saw that pelican, still cruising back and forth along the rocky coastline below me.