This week

By Vita Forest

Snorkellers and Surfers near The Bower, Manly


This week I have been

READING

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

WRITING

  • Reverberations
  • Teaching programs for Term 2
  • Lots of chapters of my novel… revisions and new ones based on Sui-Sui’s suggestions and some new ideas I’ve had.

VISITING

  • School for some planning..
  • Homebush Aquatic Centre with Lucy.
  • The Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour, for some more sketching (and some experiments with some lovely black ink…)
  • Shelly Beach, Manly, for some snorkeling where we were lucky enough to be

SEEING

Two Gropers, a Crimson banded wrasse, lots of schools of different fish and lots of jellyfish.  Another gorgeous autumn day in Sydney.

Junior snorkellers, near The Bower, Manly


WATCHING Dead Poets Society

The Chinese Gardens of Friendship, Sydney


This week

By Vita Forest

Clifftop walk at South Curl Curl


This week I have been

WRITING

READING About Grace by Anthony Doerr (Man oh man, I nearly stopped reading and skim-read the last part.  The main character really irritated me…)

VISITING

  • a cafe by the river with some teaching buddies.
  • the Northern Beaches for a walk and then a swim in the pool at South Curl Curl.  I enjoyed it, the kids not so much…

North Curl Curl

  • the harbour for a picnic afternoon tea with Lucy.
  • Lane Cove River Park for a walk with Briony and my parents.
  • Barangaroo for some sketching and where I was

LISTENING to Alice Chance’s Aurora Eora in The Cutaway – a sublime soundtrack which turned the empty space into a cathedral.

Barangaroo


WATCHING Hidden Figures with my friend Diana.

This week

By Vita Forest

Spit to Manly walk, Sydney


This week I have been 

WRITING She should be

READING the lovely poems of Misuko Kaneko (Are you n Echo?)


GETTING back to the gym after missing it for about 10 days (all those parent teacher interviews…) My mental and physical health is much improved.

HOSTING Bookclub and 

EATING slow cooker pulled pork (mmm mmm).


PLANNING programs and units of work for next term.

FINISHING Term 1

SKETCHING again after all the rain, at the truly delightful Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour.


CATCHING up with Fleur and having a cuppa and a laugh.

WALKING the iconic Spit to Manly walk with Vastra and Saskia then

SWIMMING at Shelly Beach at Manly – a weekend can’t get much better than that!

This week

By Vita Forest

Where does the sea end and the pool begin? South Curl Curl


This week I have been

READING

  • Eric by Shaun Tan to my class at school (how lovely!)
  • A structural report by Sui-Sui on an old novel I wrote – she has taken the time to really analyze it and come up with suggestions to rework it into something better – Thanks wonderful lady!  You will make a great editor some day!

WRITING Mobile Tales 6: A rainbow of reading (Further adventures of Christabel La Mouse)

WATCHING

  • A Strategic Plan at the Griffin Theatre Company (another intense night of theatre)
  • Please like me Season 3 (I particularly enjoyed the scene where Arnold practises coming out to his own Dad by singing Sia’s Chandelier to Josh’s Dad – just gorgeous!)

VISITING

  • Observatory Hill for a spot of sketching
  • Curl Curl for a wild swim in the rock pool and a cliff top walk with Saskia and Rowdy.

    CATCHING UP with lots of lovely people including Sui-Sui, Saskia and Vastra.

    REALIZING that Saskia’s, Vastra’s and my child-free weekends coincide… what adventures lie in store…

    This week

    By Vita Forest


    This week I have been

    WRITING A stroll at twilight

    READING two “old” books 

    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (an actual old book – an old classic and this edition itself over one hundred years old, with very thin pages inside a  stiff, maroon hardcover, the pages sewn together and with black and white illustrations of key moments appearing at intervals through the text.  Something I really like about this book is its size and weight – you can easily hold it in one hand, perhaps as you take a walk, as Elizabeth Bennet liked to do).
    • Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (enjoying the content and even the look of this book -it’s a pretend “old” book, looking as if it were made in the 18th century, complete with rough-edged, thick pages and coming encased in a parchment-coloured hardback cover complete with title in what looks like gold leaf. I am also admiring the chapter descriptions such as this one for “Chapter 1  – on the Origins of Revolution, Both National & Musical, with Reference to Opening Numbers & White House Raps” love it!)

    DESIGNING costumes for our performance group 

    SKETCHING inside at the Museum of Contemporary Art as the rain continued to come down


    SEEING one of my old students visiting there too

    LOOKING after Max, home from school on Friday after a miserable night during which he was sick about 9 times in 6 hours… Needless to say we both spent much of that day sleeping.

    DRIVING Lucy all over Sydney for social engagements…

    WATCHING Sherlock Season 3 (he’s alive!)

    A stroll at twilight

    By Vita Forest


    Tonight we took a walk.  Lucy and I strolled down the road at twilight with Max click-edy clacking away and back on his skateboard.  We soon turned off the main road and headed up the hill through the quieter streets.  Max scooted ahead until it was flat and swerved along a car-less road.  Our suburb is full of walking tracks and pathways between apartment blocks and we followed him down one such track into the cool damp shade within.  There were brush turkeys scratching about between some trees, but they soon dashed out of the way when the sound of the rolling wheels grinding over concrete alerted them to Max’s presence.   I was suddenly aware of the gradients of the path, the hills, the jutting cracks in the footpath.  Having a fourteen year old on a skateboard will do that to you.

    We walked through another track to a park hidden between an apartment block.  Someone had personalised the pathway to their door with ferns and potted palms and a few pink Impatients for colour.  Further on we glanced up at “the hoarder’s house” a balcony we had noticed on another visit, I don’t know what the inside of the apartment is like, but the balcony is overflowing with “useful items” – a microwave oven, an ironing board, piles of chairs and more chairs, a rusting electric fan, a folded banana lounge and boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff.  Makes me feel ill just thinking about it.  Max was pleased with the deserted day care centre area that backed onto the park and was “available to the public” at this after hours hour.  There were gentle slopes, steep inclines and different levels to roar across.  I inspected the rocky course for the water pump and the tiny veggie garden with its neat row of brightly coloured watering cans.  Max and Lucy peeled off their shoes and pulled themselves up to the top of the climbing frame, laying back and looking up at the fading blue of the sky.  Max relaxed into the ropes but Lucy kept a firm grip on the edge.  I lay back on a convenient chair and looked up at the sunset.

    Later, Lucy and I inspected the “house” – a part of the park with the outline of a building mapped out with some low walls, some empty window frames and a welcoming wooden door frame.  Inside the “rooms” there are tables, chairs (some moveable) and even a wooden chaise longue.  Every table is decorated with brightly coloured pottery and doily inserts.  It’s very homey.

    While waiting for Max to reappear from one of his skating jaunts, Lucy and I were calming watching a couple of brush turkeys pecking around in the damp earth of the park.  Suddenly another, crazier one appeared.  It dashed across the lawn to one of its friends, then proceeded to chase it up into a tree.  Lucy and I watched as they branch-hopped, jump-flew their way up the tree then we scattered as the chas-ee took flight (very badly) and heaved across over our heads before landing on the grass and running off again.  They are not the most graceful flyers.

    We walked past the oval, past the grunting footy players on the astro-turf, and turned for home as the light dimmed.  The clouds were chiaroscuro mountains in pink, orange and dazzling gold.  The world smelled fresh and alive after all the rain and our clattering heads had calmed.

    Walking does that to you.

    Not even the beginning

    By Vita Forest

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    “You mean this isn’t even part of the walk?” face sweaty, voice grim.

    “That’s right.”

    I walked on.  We would not turn back, not now, no way.

    But now it was THE walk, not a walk from the station, not the walk down the hill but THE walk.  See – the dreaming poles marked it.  It was not the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end but it was the beginning.  There was mutinous muttering from Max and Lucy, Fleur whispered she could take them back.  But no!  We were going to do this walk and we were going to enjoy it…

    The kids took off their shoes to wade through the water at Werri Lagoon and did not put them on again on the other side.  They stalked on grimly in barefeet.  And I thought why not? And pulled my shoes off again too.  The grass was soft and buoyant and the wind from the sea felt good on my bare skin.  We stepped along up the hill, away from the beach, away from the shrieks of the swimmers and the drone of the cars and into the silence.

    The complaints stopped as we climbed the bare grassy slopes that hid the town and the road.  The kids fell silent and felt the breeze, saw the blue water sinking back from the black rocks, saw the green hills rising away into the distance along the coast and the wildflowers buzzing with butterflies and crickets.  All you could hear was the booming breath of the sea, rising and falling and the hundreds of birds hidden in the undergrowth.

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    “Is this The Shire?” they asked, but we didn’t come across any hobbits.


    Further on, pelicans flapped by lazily in formation, so close you could hear the air against their wings.  I stopped and stared up at the hill rising to the west and even though it was “just grass” every blade was alive in the wind, not a solid monolithic mound but a writhing, dancing collection of stems, each one clutching a fist full of rattling, plump seeds.

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    Later we went off the track into a stand of remnant rainforest – the rainforest that used to run all the way down to the sea.  We sat enclosed in the shady room fretted with tree trunks and ate fruit.  I climbed down deeper and found a circular cairn built around the sinuous roots of a tree that was totally enclosed by the scrubby foliage around it.  Cradled inside it like a snow dome.  Someone else had visited too.

    I had promised them cows and we saw some, staring and edgy at Max’s frenzied hooting.  We were disturbed to see an anxious calf on the wrong side of the fence.  We wondered how it had got out and how it would get back?  Barbed wire was strung tight across the top of the fence and the gate we eventually passed was locked.  There was also wild fennel, identified by rubbing its lacy leaves between finger and thumb and inhaling deeply.  Aniseed.


    We peeled eggs under a tree at lunchtime and looked back across the path heading south.  And after lunch we came to the stile, THE stile and I told them the story of how, years ago, I had looked at this stile, every day, every time we came down to the beach, the stile in the distance on the headland, near the dry stone walls.  How I’d watch walkers climb over it and hike along the headland, coming from who knew where?  How I stood rooted on the sand, small children at my feet.  Them.  And I had wondered – what had those people seen?  Where had they come from?  With their backpacks on their backs, while I watched, anchored to the beach.  Now I knew.  They were us.  Ten years later but there we were, walking out of the wild.  Walking north along the track.  It was us all that time.

    We stopped again at Easts Beach, Lucy tumbling and dancing on the sand and falling into the splits.  Max watching critically and remarking, “When she laughs, her bum shakes.”

    And it did.

    Max and Lucy swam in the surf (Neptune’s son). I made do with a paddle and Fleur with a siesta under the tight shade of a juvenile pine.

    Walking on, I watched a bare-chested man saunter past the “No dogs on the beach” sign carrying two black Chihuahuas, one tucked under each armpit.  He carried them into the water where they bobbed serenely, safe in his arms.

    img_1696

    Can you see the Chihuahuas?

    I guess they were never on the beach.

    At the end we found we were all sunburnt despite hats, sunglasses and slathered sunscreen.  There were red stripes where we had been absentminded with the lotion.  And my toes… well they appreciated the cool dip at sundown in the rock pool at Blow Hole Point.

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    And Fleur said that she doesn’t know if she would do it again.

    But she’s glad she did it once.