This week

By Vita Forest

Barangaroo, Sydney


This week I have been

WRITING

  • lots more of my novel – I am on a roll!
  • Creep

FALLING over and skinning my knee.  Ironic as I had just written about a character doing something quite similar.

READING

  • The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis with my class.  We particularly focused on the description of Lucy’s first visit to Narnia…

REHEARSING our performance group ready for the big combined schools show on in a couple of weeks

WATCHING

  • Riviera on SBS
  • early morning lorrikeets visiting the bottle brush trees outside my window as I write.

MAKING my kids cook one meal each this week (Max – ramen, Lucy – fish and veggies).  Making sure they have some life skills.

Barangaroo – this week I drew rocks


SKETCHING at Barangaroo – it even rained a bit!  (We are a very intrepid bunch of sketchers).

The different textures of Barangaroo


MEETING with Sui-Sui for a bit of lunch, sharing of books and an intense conversation

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This week

By Vita Forest

Reflections at Rushcutters Bay

This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales 10: in which Christabel is charmed by a singing stone

READING

  • The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo which spurred a bit of

TIDYING

Yachts at Rushcutters Bay

LAUGHING when one of my students won a “look alike” competition with a Poo emoji soft toy…

FINISHING a very busy Term 3 at school

SKETCHING a fantastically gnarled tree at Rushcutter’s Bay on a summery Saturday


GIVING myself permission to laze in bed and sleep in rather than doing a yoga class

PLANNING some holiday expeditions and catchups

PICNICKING near the Lane Cove River with my parents and my sister Briony

And here’s that tree again!

This week

By Vita Forest
This week I have been

From Harold Reid Reserve, Middle Cove – right in the middle of Sydney!


WRITING 

READING Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith

WATCHING the Dance Academy movie with Lucy 

VISITING the Harold Reid Lookout in Middle Cove with Lucy for a picnic and a bush walk and

Looking across to Castlecrag


EATING a baguette, cheese, dips and veggies 

ENJOYING some warm spring weather

On top of the ridge at Harold Reid Reserve


BEING surprised by a homemade cake from some of my students baked on a play date 

PLANNING out my week and 

DOING my chores through the weeknights so I had a lovely chore-free weekend 

HOPING to keep up this new habit in the future 

Spring wildflowers seen on our bushwalk

This week

By Vita Forest 

View from Middle Head, Mosman


This week I have been

REWRITING parts of one of my novels

READING The Good People by Hannah Kent

WATCHING my class perform our play at assembly (it all went very well and they enjoyed having an audience reacting to the humour).

GOING to one of my Bookclubs to discuss The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

CELEBRATING Saskia’s birthday on a rock overlooking Sydney Harbour with Saskia, Vastra and Rowdy the dog while

Towards North Head from Middle Head


EATING chocolate cake and

DRINKING tea from a trusty thermos then

WALKING along the ridge at Middle Head, Mosman

Beautiful angophora trees


TRYING a thirty minute decluttering frenzy!

This week

By Vita Forest

Auburn Botanical Gardens


This week I have been

WRITING  

READING The Piper’s Son by Melinda Marchetta (I just love this book)

EATING Gyoza dumplings when

VISITING Auburn Botanical Gardens for Hanami and some


SKETCHING of the cherry blossoms and other lovely things 

CELEBRATING Betty’s upcoming nuptials with a Girls Night In complete with drag queen 

LEARNING how to use a hammer drill (sorry neighbours)

PRACTISING our class play to be performed next week

FIXING props damaged in said practice 

Selfies with cherry blossoms

Hanami in Auburn

By Vita Forest

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On a Saturday full of wind and bluster, we journeyed out to the Auburn Botanical Gardens for the Cherry Blossom Festival.  On Friday the winds had been so strong that powerlines had been blown down, a fence at the local tennis club toppled, and at sport, the kids had thrown their hats in the air to see how far they would fly before they landed.

I feared the blossoms would have been blasted from the branches, scattered like pink confetti over a suburb or two, but when we arrived, we could see them, still firmly clinging to the trees.

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We went by train, my daughter Lucy and her friend Bianca, and a bunch of sketchers, backpacks full of paper and pencils and paint and ideas.  We talked expeditions past and future, we made plans, we swapped stories.

When we arrived at the garden, the wind was blowing and the pink flags were flying.  Pink was the colour of the day – pink blossoms, pink flags, some pink hair, even the volunteers wore fluoro pink vests instead of the more usual yellow.

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Even the volunteers were in pink.

I was remembering my last trip to the gardens a couple of years ago with a busload of Year 1 children – here is where we did origami, here is where we took a photo – on a bridge over the water – and not one child got wet.  Here is where Marvin barrelled across the stepping stones without knocking anyone over.

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We had learned about Hanami – the festival celebrating the viewing of the cherry blossoms and here we were experiencing it ourselves in Sydney.  It is all about being in the right place at the right time – the trees only bloom for two weeks or so, blink and you’ll miss it.  In Japan they give updates on the progress of the blossoms on the nightly news (“buds opening”, “flowers starting to appear” etc) and even display weather maps charting the display of colour.  It is about being in the moment, that ephemeral moment when the blossoms open and world turns pink.  Strange then to see so many visitors at Auburn with their selfie-sticks and iPhones – as if they will only see it all later after they have posted it on Instagram.  I was not immune to capturing the moment myself – look at all these photos…

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An abundance of selfie-sticks

We walked over an arched bridge and watched as a volunteer sprinkled bread from a bucket.  The water was full of the open mouths of carp fighting for what the geese didn’t get first.  We strolled along the cherry blossom avenue noting the way the sun shone through the blossoms and a few happy bees trundling over the flowers.

The sketchers peeled off, finding places by the lake, by a zig-zag bridge, near the moon gate, so close to a cherry tree she could hold a twigful of it to study and draw and protect from the wind.  The wind!  The wind that followed us around the lake, climbing the rocky steps to a lookout, ruffling the undulating hedges that resembled the sinuous body of a dragon, splaying the fringing needles of a conifer into star bursts.

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There be dragons…

I sat on a hill, a little removed from the cherry blossoms and watched the world go by with my sketchbook.  I noticed the way the wind sent the bundles of pine needles flicking and sparkling.  I noticed how the magnolia flowers swayed majestically on their strong vertical branches, I noticed a sweet looking toddler with two fountaining pig-tales stumbling about the slope, under the careful eye of her father.

I drew trees and saw how the base of each pine tree was set in a tiny pool of mulch.  I drew a line of cherry blossoms, noticing how the trunks were gnarled and twisted before the tips of the branches thinned and reached skyward.  I drew mounds of grass, thickly planted and arranged in tight, round clumps.

And then I drew people – people with their selfie sticks, people with their iPhones, occasionally people just chilling under the trees, seeing life in real time with their own eyes.  It was the perfect time to be in the moment to feel the wind and the sunshine, watch the flocks of birds wheel over the lake, hear the throb of the Taiko drums in another part of the garden.

So much in “the zone” was I, I did not see Lucy and Bianca sneak up behind me, was not aware of them until Lucy leapt at me, causing an unplanned scribble on my page.  They danced on the hillside behind me, did walkovers, stole snacks from my backpack.  They had visited the tiny zoo and had seen a peacock, an albino wallaby, an emu, but not the wombat.  The wombats were hiding away in their cosy burrow out of the light and the wind.  When the girls had eaten all the snacks, they were off again.  Off to catch the sumo wrestling just about to start in another part of the garden.  Later they explained the rules to me and demonstrated the hand motions of the winners and the bowing etiquette before a match started.

We regrouped and shared our sketches; pages of blossoms and lakes and bridges and trees.  And after a lunch of gyoza dumplings by the lake, our little visit to Japan in Sydney was over.  It’s fun being a tourist in your own town.

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This week

By Vita Forest

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Picnic lunch atop Du Faurs Rocks at Mt Wilson, Blue Mountains

This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales 9: in which Christabel learns a disturbing fact about whales

READING

  • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
  • The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith

WATCHING Big Little Lies

VISITING the Blue Mountains with Vastra and Saskia where we did some

WALKING to

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Magical pool at the base of Minehaha Falls, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

  • Minnehaha Falls in Katoomba
  • around the clifftops of Leura
  • around the shops of Leura…

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  • around Mt Wilson through shady ferns and by bright wattle blooming amongst blackened trees

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Cathedral of Ferns, Mt Wilson, Blue Mountains

LISTENING to

  • Whipbirds and
  • Bell birds and
  • Crimson Rosellas and
  • screeching cockatoos breaking the monumental stillness of the silence at Du Faurs Rocks, Mt Wilson

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Oh and saw this currawong at Du Faurs Rocks, Mt Wilson

PICNICKING

  • on a clifftop in Leura
  • on a clifftop at Du Faurs Rocks at Mt Wilson

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RELAXING in the winter sunshine with a cuppa and our books