This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

READING The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito

WRITING Saluting Saga

WATCHING Billy Elliot with Lucy


  • Wendy’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay for some sketching
  • Sawmillers Reserve, North Sydney for Sculpture at Sawmillers

    MAKING cat costumes for Lucy’s play

    HOLDING Smartie Maths Day at school (so much learning, so much fun, so much chocolate).


    • the end of Term 3
    • winning a Poetry prize as one of my alter-egos!

    SMILING at some chickens at a water-front property at Blues Point, pecking the grass on a tiny spit of land surrounded by the harbour.


    Saluting Saga

    By Vita Forest

    Recently while sick, I binge-watched The Bridge, the intense Scandi-Noir TV series.  It starts with an intriguing set up: after a brief blackout, a body is found on the Øresund Bridge connecting Malmö and Copenhagen.  The body has been placed at exactly the half-way point, thereby ensuring that the resulting murder investigation will be a joint Danish and Swedish affair.

    From the Danish police, comes homicide detective Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia), who teams up with his Swedish counterpart Saga Norén (Sofia Helin).  Martin, a bear of a man, is warm and gregarious, going home to a lively house with his third wife and a brood of children (including his taciturn teenage son August, from his first marriage).  Saga is his opposite – prickly, blunt, somewhere on the Asperger spectrum, and one of the most memorable characters you are likely to meet.  She is a workaholic, living alone and indulging in sex so casual, there is no small talk, let alone flirting.  And when it is over, she would much rather examine gruesome autopsy photos than stop for a cuddle.  Her long blonde hair is undermined by her “uniform” of leather pants, a long brown coat, boots and a series of bruise-coloured t-shirts, many of which she changes into in the middle of the office in front of her colleagues (after sniffing her armpits and discovering she is a bit whiffy).  These two make an excellent “odd couple” where Martin’s charm complements Saga’s intellect and focus, as they hunt for a calculating serial killer.

    The story builds slowly with seemingly unrelated characters steadily introduced.  We become fascinated with them long before they are clicked into the puzzle of the plot.  There are no “minor” characters – each person is beautifully drawn and acted, witness the range of police colleagues with their very individual appearances, quirks and mannerisms.

    This Scandinavia is a cold bleak place.  The colours are bleached out, it sometimes feels like you are watching a black and white film, where even red traffic lights are muted pink rather than scarlet.  Most of the action takes place under artificial light, at night, or in a grey leaf-less drear.  Occasionally it may snow, but it is never Christmas.

    The series is beautifully filmed with the camera observing the characters through obscuring layers – behind the glass of a window, in the background behind a crowd of people, partially hidden behind a doorway.  People communicate through barriers.  The architectural settings are clinical and stark or grungy and feral.  This, combining with the unsettling soundtrack, creates a sense of disquiet and menace.

    Despite the grimness, there is humour and humanity.  These are people working hard to protect others, despite their individual flaws.  The human interactions provide warmth and hope, particularly the partnership of Saga and Martin. The finale is heartbreaking, but it is well worth spending some time in Saga’s world.


    Channel surfing

    By Vita Forest

    After a stressful few months, a couple of weeks back, I succumbed to the flu.  It hit me hard, with a whole week off work, two trips to the doctor, and not much else apart from dozing in bed, watching the box and solving a few Pocket Codeword puzzles (have you tried them?  They are addictive).  On the Monday I was also joined by Lucy, on the Friday, by Max.

    On Monday, Lucy worked her way through episode after episode of The Adventures of Merlin Series 1.  I drifted in and out of consciousness, vaguely aware of the latest threats to Camelot, Arthur calling Merlin “an idiot”, handsome knights clattering over cobblestones on striking French steeds, and that this was at the stage in the story where Morgana had not yet crossed over to the dark side.

    Over the week, I worked my way through The Bridge on DVD, that fantastic Scandi-noir series from Sweden and Denmark.  Not while the kids were with me of course.  Max had picked up the DVD and remarked that soon he would be old enough to watch things with MA-15 ratings.  Oh joy.  He has shocked his aunt with his intricate knowledge of the workings of Westeros “and how about that Red Wedding hey?  Episode 9 is always really good…” A very well-executed deception.  (Well we do talk about things here, and I had used the Wildlings for inspiration for  some costumes I had been designing at the time).

    Both my children enjoy the current crop of shows on finding houses, preferably in foreign climes, or building structures with very small floor plans.  “Yeah, coz you need a three car garage when there are only two drivers in the family”… “it’s tiny, what did he expect?  That’s why it’s called a tiny house!”… “I liked that one with the hand-knitted hammock…”

    And one night as I forced some dinner down, I watched in horror an awful show where a bunch of grasping young women with too-much makeup, too-short skirts and too-high heels, where vetted by a raucous threesome, who spoke about them as if they were not there (“I hate your dress” “you stand funny, kind of sideways” “your teeth are awful, get them fixed”), before they were thrown in the way of two thirty-something rich dudes, whose only saving grace seemed to be their large bank accounts.  “Why did you watch it?” Max asked me as I recounted the foul dealings to him as what I hoped was a cautionary tale, “I don’t know,” I answered, “It came on and I just couldn’t believe these people were real.”  But they were real and in a world with The Bachelor (another show I simply detest) I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Max was sick on the Friday too, and after briefly checking out a young couple searching for a home in The Netherlands, he went to the cupboard and found My Neighbour Totoro and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Ah joy indeed!  My parents popped in briefly with homemade lamb and barley soup and we slurped it down as we watched these delights, receiving nourishment in a number of different forms.

    This week

    By Vita Forest


    This week I have been

    WRITING Justify


    • Greene on Capri by Shirley Hazzard
    • Tell the truth, Shame the devil by Melina Marchetta (well the last two days anyway – don’t normally buy “just released” books but it is MM).

    RESTING due to being absolutely floored by the flu.

    VISITING the doctor. Twice.

    LOOKING after my sick children too.

    WATCHING The Bridge (Swedish/Danish version) on DVD (not with the kids).

    CUDDLING up with the kitty cat gals.

    SOLVING puzzles in my Codewords book.

    SLEEPING a lot

    This week

    By Vita Forest


    Vaucluse House

    This week I have been

    • READING The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and another book which I will not mention as it not one I would recommend.
    • VISITING Vaucluse House with my class – how lovely!
    • WATCHING some Nordic Noir in the form of The Bridge on SBS.  Very creepy.
    • SWELTERING in Sydney’s February heat.
    • CELEBRATING my sister Briony’s birthday with the family.
    • SWIMMING at both Collaroy and Balmoral on Sunday – how refreshing!