This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

READING

  • The Novel Habits of Happiness By Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles By Hiro Arikawa

WRITING Power Play

WATCHING Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (wow!)

DODGING the raindrops on a quick walk at Kiama where we are

HOLIDAYING at the beach and

LOOKING forward to better weather ahead

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This week (or so)

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

WRITING Holiday at home

READING

  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

SWIMMING in the waters of Balmoral Beach

SKETCHING at the Art Gallery of NSW on day too wet to sit outside

WATCHING many, many episodes of The Bureau (C’est formidable!)

MAKING Jules Clancy’s chocolate and pecan tart (spectacular)

MEETING Sui-Sui and Alessandro  for a long lunch full of good company, good food, good chatting and cat-patting!

PERCOLATING lots of ideas for writing, teaching and general creative endeavours in the year to come.

This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

WRITING Thinking about Balmoral

READING

  • Spinster by Kate Bolick
  • The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

BINGE WATCHING

  • Game of Thrones season 7 (wow!)
  • The Bureau (also wow!)

SWIMMING at Balmoral Beach

SNORKELLING at Shelly Beach Manly – saw a blue grouper and four stingrays and a whole lotta fish

SKETCHING at the Royal Botanical Gardens and enjoying the wildflower meadow along with the butterflies and bees

CELEBRATING the new year – Happy 2018 everyone!

Thinking about Balmoral

By Vita Forest

It’s the summer holidays and that means lots of time spent swimming in salt water.  One of my favourite haunts is Balmoral Beach, a place with so many layers of memory washing over it.

There’s the lemon scent I catch as I walk down the street where I usually park the car, from who knows what plant – it’s not a lemon tree.  This street with the sign at the entrance to the driveway of a block of apartments “Don’t even think about parking here” which causes equal parts outrage and laughter.  The flats, with the garage that at one time had its door raised to reveal a private gym, and another time, another year, a stall of random items for sale including a couple of Margaret Atwood books.  One day I bought The Blind Assassin.  The next day I bought Alias Grace.  A street I walk along and wonder, which house would I live in?  If I could?  Or would I choose that low-maintenance apartment with its shady verandah looking out over the beach?

There’s The Baths.  Years ago, we used to have our initial swimming carnival for high school there (before moving onto to the more serious North Sydney Olympic pool for the finals).  It was a fun day out, with those who wanted to participating in the races, diving off the floating blocks into the often choppy water, while those who didn’t, sunbaking on the slatted wooden jetty or splashing about in the shallows near the sand.  In recent years, Max and Lucy have floated there on giant doughnuts or blow up boats or snorkelled under the jetty looking for fish and crabs and the rumours of seahorses living in the waving kelp.  In recent years I have returned here to swim, simplifying my routine by swimming without goggles or a cap.  Perhaps that is why I don’t do Freestyle anymore – too much water gets in my ears.  Instead I keep my head out – all the better to see where I am going and to pause every now and then to look up at the bush on the headland or the clouds floating in the blue sky.

Further south, there are large fig trees that grow on the grass behind the sand.  Some of them are like pavilions with branches extending over the beach itself.  It was under one of these that I used to sit with Lucy as a baby, her body lying between my legs, her feet kicking into the air as she gazed up at the twinkling brightness of the sun through the fig leaves.  It was here that her feet were first dipped into salt water, tiny toes flaring up at its coldness.  It was here I rocked the pram covered with a muslin cloth, groggy with lack of sleep, and watched Max play on the pirate ship in the playground.

Heading north, there’s the island attached to the promenade by an arched concrete bridge.  It was here we drank cheap champagne on one of our last days of high school.  It was here I have stopped with innumerable friends on innumerable walks up and down the beach in summer and winter, sunshine and rain.  It was here a month or so ago, I sat on a rock and drew a fig tree growing out of a crevasse between two boulders of sandstone, its roots clutching and wrapping around the rocks.  It was on that occasion that I saw the young bride and groom, she in a backless white gown that showed off the tattoos on her tanned shoulders.

It’s to this place I have come in summer, either early or late, to avoid the harshness of the midday sun.  And so I never see Freya, who I work with, who only goes there at the hottest time of the day.  She is young and invincible and lies in the sun to get a tan, something I never do.  Me in my long-sleeved rashie seeing if I can still swim a kilometre.

I can.

 

This week (or so)

By Vita  Forest

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This week (or so) I have been

READING Death comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

WRITING and EDITING my novel!

VISITING

  • the city to see the Christmas lights

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  • Manly for some sketching
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Ferry ride to Manly

  • The Goods Line, the UTS Building by Frank Gehry and the Central Park Precinct  (- the kids and I gave my parents a little tour of the area).

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SWIMMING

  • at Cremorne Point and Balmoral Beach

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Tourists at Cremorne Point

SKETCHING at

  • Manly
  • Cremorne
  • The Botanical Gardens

MAKING White Rocky Road (mmm mmm!)

ENJOYING being on holidays!

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!

READING

  • 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).

WALKING

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.