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


  • Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

WRITING Not even the beginning

MAKING a Harry Potter trivia game with Lucy (feel free to submit question ideas if you like!)

WALKING with Saskia after the rain.

SKETCHING my balcony garden as my sketch club was cancelled due to the rain.

ATTENDING a meeting about the combined schools concert my school is involved in later in the year.

BRAINSTORMING lots of ideas for stories, choreography and costumes for our item.

TRYING another tack with my 4th grade class for poetry writing (providing them with a starting word for each line) and 

DISCOVERING they were poets!

REMEMBERING how when she was in Year 1, one of my current students poo-pooed one of my suggestions for a song to sing at assembly because it was “a kids’ song”!  They could see the humour in that comment now.

This week

By Vita Forest

Sunday sunrise at Curl Curl

This week I have been


  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit


  • At Bombo
  • Programs for school including one on Poetry incorporating David Chapelle’s short film of Sergei Poluntin dancing to Take me to Church by Hozier.  I am excited!

EXPERIENCING Sydney’s extreme weather this week – storms and heavy rain on Tuesday, crazy-high temperatures on Friday and Saturday.

VISITING the water to cool off on the weekend… Murray Rose/Redleaf Pool in Woollahra and Curl Curl Beach.

WALKING AND TALKING with Saskia at Curl Curl after a swim.

BUMPING into an old student and family at Curl Curl (it was all happening at Curl Curl…)

MISSING outdoor sketching due to the extreme temperatures.


  • time to relax.
  • time for yoga.

Saturday morning at Refleaf pool, Woollahra





    This week

    By Vita Forest

    Lotus pond at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney

    This week I have been

    READING Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling 

    WRITING Neptune’s Son

    GETTING to know my new Year 4 class!

    TRYING to sleep in very hot humid weather

    VISITING the Royal Botanical Gardens to do some sketching

    COVERING lots of school books for Max and Lucy

    HEARING all about their first week at school (Lucy’s first week of high school)

    A Lotus flower

    This week

    By Vita Forest

    Gardens at Vaucluse House (can you spot the bird?)

    This week I have been


    • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah 
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
    • Policy documents for school

    WRITING Distracted

    MOVING classrooms and

    PREPARING for the new school year


    • The White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale for Vile Bodies
    • Vaucluse House for some barefoot, lounging about under a tree kind of sketching 


    • The Shawshank Redemption and The Princess Bride with my kids
    • Lion with Briony and friend 

    DISCUSSING with my kids why Australia Day is hurtful/offensive to parts of our population 

    BUYING school shoes for Lucy for her first year at high school…

    MAKING a week’s supply of Jamie Oliver’s Black Rice pudding with mango, lime, passionfruit and coconut. Mmm

    Plant stand at Vaucluse House

    This week

    By Vita Forest


    This week I have been

    VISITING Kiama for a holiday with a rotating cast of characters – Max, Lucy, Fleur, Betty and Briony.


    • from Gerringong to Kiama with Fleur, Lucy and Max (Lucy, Max and I did most of it barefoot too…)

    • into the strange world of Bombo Headland with Briony – massive waves smashing against the rock columns, very dramatic!

      SWIMMING in the beautiful waters of Kiama’s beaches and rock pools

      SEEING the Kiama blowhole “goin’ off!”

      SKETCHING at the same time as my sketch pals – they in Sydney, I sitting in the seabreeze looking back at the pines around the Kiama showground.

      WRITING Southerly Buster

      GETTING lots of inspiration for future posts


      • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (How wonderful to visit the world of J.K. Rowling again and this is one of my favourites!!  I was not the only one enjoying J.K. Rowling – there was also Fleur reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Lucy reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban too – a very Hogwarts kind of time)
      • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

      GENERALLY relaxing

      This week

      By Vita Forest

      Christmas Day at Manly

      This week I have been

      FINISHING school for the year!

      MOVING classrooms

      SORTING through a lot of stuff and chucking some of it out.



      • The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit (the first of her books I’ve read.  Beautiful!  I am hungry for more).
      • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (compelling but manipulative.  Left me with a nasty taste in my mouth).
      • The Forgotten Affairs of Youth by Alexander McCall Smith (always lovely to spend time in the company of Isabel Dalhousie).

      RESTING after feeling shattered at the end of Term 4.

      TAKING various Harry Potter quizzes at the behest of Lucy.

      SWIMMING in the ocean on Christmas day with Vastra and the kids.

      LYING on a picnic rug under a Frangipani tree with my nephew for a “little rest” before all the kids got wet in the paddling pool at our family Christmas lunch.

      PLAYING Speed and Bananagrams with Max as we watched a documentary on Queen.


      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.

      This week

      By Vita Forest

      This week I have been

      READING Possession by A. S. Byatt 

      WRITING  Suburban Pool Tales

      SPARTYING (that is enjoying Diana’s spa with its disco lights).

      CATCHING UP with some lovely old high school friends (check out the view from the appartment!)

      HOUSE and CAT-SITTING for Diana “up north” (half an hour from home).

      CLEANING up a lot of dust after my apartment floor was jack-hammered and repaired…

      CHOREOGRAPHING a dance extravaganza for Year 2 to perform to “Surfin USA” (with the assistance of Lucy).

      WATCHING most of the Harry Potter movies with the kids… (We like number 3 and number 8 best).

      On listening

      By Vita Forest



      Lately, I’ve been thinking about listening.  It’s wonderful to read to yourself and flick back and forth in a story, rereading, flashing back, controlling the pace.  But there is something lovely about being read to.  About having the opportunity to listen.

      School has started again, with a new school year, and a new set of little people to teach.  This time of the year is exhausting and a trifle stressful for all concerned.  The kids are getting to know me, I am getting to know them, and we are all getting to know the new 2016 “things”.   So it’s nice to take some time out to listen to a story.  There is something immediately calming about pulling out a book and reading it aloud.  Last year, some of my major fidgetters and fretters would crawl closer, hug their knees and become quiet and calm, soothed by Harry Potter’s latest adventures, or by their desire to hear just how Matilda was going to outwit Miss Trunchbull.  This year, we have started with Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which immediately got their attention with its promise of bears, wolves and wild cats…

      While working on the good ship Possession in the holidays, I reminded my own children about how, when they were quite small, I used to read them one of A.S. Byatt’s fairy tales included in that novel.  I reminded them of summer holidays lying three across in a tent and how I read The Glass Coffin to them again and again and again.  Their eyes wide and their bodies still, as they listened to the story of the little tailor, who ventured into a dark forest and met an unusual household who offered him a magical gift.

      You have chosen not with prudence, but with daring.  The key is the key to an adventure, if you will go in search of it.”

      Lucy pulled out the book and curled up in a corner, now able to read the words herself that before she had only listened to.  (Max remembered the story without needing a refresher – he is older, after all).  Now Lucy reads to me.  As I cook, or sip my tea after dinner.  It is luxurious to be read to, to not always have to do the reading.

      And in the holidays, I was reading (to myself) Anthony Doer’s All the light we cannot see where a brother and sister in an orphanage in Germany are enthralled by voices on the radio, and stopping to listen to Radio National while I worked on my boat building, and everything intersected and made meaning.  I listened alone while the kids were at their Dad’s, but I was not alone because the voice on the radio was company, was an intimate presence in my ear.  A soothing presence, like the French gentleman’s radio programs, flying through the air, all the way to a tiny attic in Germany.

      I remember hearing about a couple who read books aloud to each other.  Sharing entire novels, taking turns listening and reading.  A way of spending time together, connecting. And I remember too, my lovely friend Mardi, who created an organisation in the U.S. to encourage adults to read to children.  She was invited to speak about her project to the inmates of a prison and was concerned about what she could possibly say to those people with whom she had little in common.  But she ended up sharing with them that reading to someone else was a way of bonding, of showing that you care, of connecting.  These incarcerated men got that, and looked forward to reading to their own children as a way of building a relationship.

      And last weekend, my kids and I came across a series of radio stories as we drove to the beach and spent some time discovering the joys of a quirky tale read by a fabulous actor interspersed with sound effects.  When Max was a newborn, I discovered Margaret Throsby‘s interviews on Classic FM, listening in to conversations with artists, writers, scientists and educators, in my sleep-deprived, house-bound new-mother state. A few years later, Max and Lucy and I stayed in the car long after we had reached our destination, until her interview with Monty Roberts the horse whisperer ended.  So enthralled were we.

      It’s a primal thing, listening to a good story.  Have you listened to anything wonderful lately?