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.

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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

This week I have been

WRITING Through the wardrobe

READING Thomas Appleby Convict Boy by Jackie French (getting ready for next year’s history topic).

SAYING farewell to students and teachers and other staff who are leaving the school.

CLEANING the classroom

WATCHING the excellent Year 6 musical

PERFORMING a surprise teachers Christmas dance for the students (we felt like rockstars!)

SEEING some old pals at our Christmas party

SKETCHING a witch’s house at Annandale

EATING fish and chips at Balmoral Beach with Vastra then seeing a movie

PUTTING up the Christmas decorations at last

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales 11: a sky full of stars

READING The Girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making by Catherynne M. Valente

PLAYING Muggle Quidditch at school after

MAKING broomsticks out of newspapers and masking tape (but no one completed their homework and learned how to fly…)

VISITING The Finders Keepers Market at Barangaroo with the whole family

ATTENDING the Year 6 Farewell

FEELING rather exhausted

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

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An unknown land…

READING

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • The Girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making by Catherynne M. Valente

WRITING Layers

PAINTING

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Galleons and sea creatures encountered on the voyage to the unknown land…

  • my galleons and sea monsters and antique-style map at school.  Our Year 4 classes made maps, ships, sea creatures, storm clouds etc and wrote short narratives about them.  Then they made common craft style videos of their voyagers adventures to the ‘unknown lands’ using their maps and paintings.  What a fantastic day of creativity!
  • my sketch from the Tramsheds at Harold Park (see Layers)

LISTENING to Melina Marchetta talking about Looking for Alibrandi as we were

DRIVING to Manly through heavy traffic on a Sunday afternoon.

GOING for our first swim of the season at Shelly Beach, Manly (it was mighty bracing to start with, but then merely refreshing).  We were not the only ones there…

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On the non-peaceful side of the headland at Shelly Beach. Look at all those people on the sand!!

WATCHING a crazy plan doing aerobatics over the water at Manly as we floated about.

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On the peaceful side of the headland at Shelly Beach, looking north.