This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

WRITING

READING

  • When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
  • The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

VISITING Balmoral Beach for some sketching on a beautiful sunny winter’s morning.

WATCHING The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 – OMG!!!!

HAVING a very interesting discussion at Writers’ Circle about how we each write and edit and generally fit writing into life.

DOING a whole bunch of yoga.

SEEING our performance through fresh eyes at the dress rehearsal in front of the whole school (it went well – phew!)

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This week

By Vita Forest

Balmoral Beach

This week I have been

READING Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman

STARTING our dance group rehearsals and

SEEING

  • ideas we had only talked about come to life
  • a discarded electric fan by the side of the road with its blades turning as the wind blew through at just the right angle
  • the elderly Chinese couple in the leafy park in Chatswood who bring me joy each sunny morning as they move in perfect synchronicity balancing their tennis balls on their tennis rackets and almost dancing as they practise tai-chi on the dew-covered grass
  • a mynah bird fly into my classroom!  We both panicked for a few minutes before I managed to open a window and encourage it to fly free.  Phew!

WRITING my novel (including trying a new opening)

HELPING Saskia get her house ready for it’s first open house day (three of us working like crazy on Saturday morning and it ended up looking amazing with five minutes to spare before the potential buyers arrived…)

MEETING with  a like-minded neighbour and

CONVINCING some others that fixing the garden really would be a great idea

SWIMMING at Balmoral Beach before the rain returned…

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

READING The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

WATCHING a preview of Love, Simon with Lucy

FINISHING a writing course and thinking about joining a local writers circle…

SKETCHING in The Rocks and

WANDERING the markets and laneways

SWIMMING at Balmoral Beach with Lucy (she even did some laps with me)

SNORKELLING at Shelly Beach (fabulous fish again!) and

SHARING my snorkel and mask with Lucy… think I need to get my kids their own! They keep hogging mine!

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

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

WRITING school reports!

READING

  • The Wonderling by Mira Bartok
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (loving it so far!)

MEETING Vastra and Saskia for dinner at a favourite restaurant


SITTING  barefoot on a rock on the island at Balmoral Beach


and SKETCHING a fig tree growing out of a cliff and


NOTICING a bride and groom, the groom long-haired in a caramel-coloured suit, the bride wearing a dress in strapless white, conventional until she turned  around to display her bare back – covered with tightly-etched tattoos! and


WALKING along the sand and

WONDERING how warm the water was and

FINDING out.


 

This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

READING The Circle by Dave Eggers (hope to have it finished before Book club…)

DISCUSSING with my kids how radicchio sounds to them like a spell from Harry Potter, try it – Radicchio!

FINDING out that our dance group got through the auditions and into the big interschool performance to be held later this year.

WATCHING some Olympic finals with the whole school – deafening cheers!

GETTING the carpet in at last. The kids love it “It’s like walking in a meadow of soft grass.”

VISITING Balmoral Beach with my Dad, sister Briony and kids Max and Lucy on a sunny winter’s afternoon.

SPENDING some time hanging out with the kids and the cats,  luxuriating on the velvety soft carpet, while looking out at the blooming camellia tree, as the sunshine streamed in.