Today was a funny ol’ day of swimming in the river, spontaneous road trips, accidental Winter Festival going.
All of it was gorgeous.
Today was a funny ol’ day of swimming in the river, spontaneous road trips, accidental Winter Festival going.
All of it was gorgeous.
Moving back to the country has coincided with really enjoying taking photos again, so I’ve been throwing my Leica in my bag whenever I leave the house, just in case something catches my eye.
Today it was the farmers markets in Orange, one of my favourite weekend adventures.
I’m sure living in the area you could find most of the produce whenever you wanted, but there’s something fun about the stalls and the smell of all the fresh food and coffee.
Over the Easter long weekend we went to Wee Waa for the long-awaited wedding of Alex and Mary. If you have the Internet, you probably heard about it, I know I had several people contact me to say their entire social media was being clogged with the freshest of content.
Alex and Mary are one of those couples everyone knows, one of those couples everyone knows are going to get married, one of those couples you refer to almost in one word: alexandmary. Alex and Mary have had you and ten other people over for an impromptu roast dinner, or drinks around a fire pit and after a while you realise you can trace the beginnings of most of your friendships to their backyard.
Alex and Mary are the people you’ll travel 600kms for, to a town of less than 2,000 people, just to see them get married.
We traveled with Josh and Annie. I met Josh in Alex’s backyard several years ago and made a complete fool of myself. Suffice to say, I’m not the person who should give pep talks to newly single men. It amazes me Josh still speaks to me, and Josh wasn’t even the man in question, just an innocent bystander to my well-intended motivational talk.
Months later, I found myself sitting next to Josh at a work training course and we hit it off. Eventually I poached him to work for my department, or at least convinced him to allow himself to be poached and then spent the next six months playing practical jokes on him, which mostly involved creating collages of him stealing over-sized office goods, which I then emailed to people. I’ve also spent more time than I care to admit trying to convince him that I am serious about marrying his father just so I can be his stepmother.
Annie is Josh’s girlfriend and she looks like a 1940s Hollywood bombshell, and I love her because she worries about stuff like whether she put too much hip hop on the travel mix (never!) and pretends (or at least I think she pretends) that her last name is Broccoli. Also, she raps. At weddings. Bless her heart.
We headed off early on the Friday and I immediately knew we’d chosen excellent road trip buddies, mostly because I couldn’t see them for the mountain of snacks they had packed and because they were as enthusiastic as I was for McDonald’s breakfast. A road trip isn’t a road trip unless you spend half of it regretting getting the hotcakes because your hands are stuck to the wheel with maple syrup.
It’s a long drive to Wee Waa from Sydney, about six-and-a-half hours, but we had an invaluable resource at our fingertips: Facebook chat. Alex had thoughtfully set up a couple of group chats, meaning everyone travelling that day could share information, like: Singleton is great if you like having to hold public toilet doors shut with your foot, or police are targeting people who stay in the overtaking lane too long, or our contribution: definitely stop in Murrurundi because Cafe Telegraph is serving baked Camembert with figs and there are horses to feed carrots to!
I love horses. I love how big their heads are. When you hug a horse, you’re basically just hugging a giant head.
At this point we were about half way and I’ll admit it: I was feeling smug. The Facebook chat was going crazy with talk of hours-long traffic jams before the Pacific Highway turnoff and people still stuck in Sydney. Sure, they’d had more sleep than us the night before, but here we were, sitting under the willows, the back of the trip already broken.
I shouldn’t have thought it, let alone said it. But I did: “I’m really glad we left early! It’s been such a great trip for us!”.
In a few hundred kilometres, I’d regret cursing our little caravan …
A few weeks ago I planned a few days in Orange at the farm, with the idea of catching up in some much needed sleep. Then we decided to move, so instead I decided to spend the time at the farm writing a job application.
It’s almost a shame, the weather has been incredible, perfect for sitting outdoors with a book (and some bourbon).
I did manage to spend some time wandering around with my Leica.
It’s no great secret that I have a love-hate relationship with Sydney and sometimes I just need some space from it, so I can tolerate it on my return.
We’ve been breaking up and making up for almost 10 years and I’ve started plotting ways to leave, for good. I’m sorry Sydney, it’s you, not me.
On Sunday and Monday, B and I both had time off work, which almost never happens two days in a row anymore, so we decided to go to the Blue Mountains for the night.
The Blue Mountains is one of the many places we’re considering moving at some point. It has the advantage of being within a commutable distance from Sydney, as well as being somewhere you can see the stars (which is actually on our “must have ” list for future moves).
We stayed in an amazing Airbnb place B found. I love that Airbnb is competitive price-wise with motels, but allows the luxury of a much more informed choice and far nicer accommodation. Gone are the days of hideous matching art works over twin beds, which are clad in doonas patterned to hide all manner of stains.
We stayed at a place in Katoomba called Little Burrendong, which was a studio built over a garage in a lovely backyard. The space was so well thought out and furnished perfectly. Were I not a collector of books and the owner of a small fur family, I could easily live somewhere like this.
I really like Katoomba. It’s a little far to commute from to Sydney every day, but I would move us here in a split second if we worked from home, or only part-time in Sydney. It’s big enough that it has everything you could want, but there’s so much space, and it’s so quiet at night and the bush is stunning.
The next day we stopped in on some of the other villages on our way home, so we could get a bit of an idea about what they’re like.
Breakfast was at Wentworth Falls.
Then we spent an hour or so in Springwood, just wandering.
I was sad to get home, luckily there were three furry faces waiting there, happy to see us and have cuddles.
I moved out of home almost 15 years ago and never in that time, until this house, had I owned a matching set of bedside tables.
I could never find anything I loved, or that I could afford. They’re deceptively expensive pieces of furniture to own.
Bedside tables were on our “must have” list when we moved, a list that shrank and shrank as the cost of moving grew and grew. We decided to keep our old couches and my increasingly unattractive bookcase for a little while longer, but I couldn’t give up on my dream of having a bedside table to call my own.
We found Hemnes tables we liked at Ikea.
A Study in Bedside Tables #8: Master bedroom, Earlwood
I spent about six months looking for a yellow lampshade for a lamp I had in our previous house. I wanted yellow to set off particular tones in a large framed photograph I own.
I finally found a table lamp at Freedom that had the shade I wanted; however, the electrics in the lamp I wanted to fit it to blew, and in our new place the photo no longer hangs anywhere needing lamplight so I’m using it as a reading lamp. I don’t mind it, but the owners painted all the trimmings in the house green, so it does mean the bedroom has a particular Australiana kitsch factor now, which I don’t love.
I have a framed cross-stitch of the title of an Atmosphere album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, which my younger sister made for me.
The ‘Hustle’ card comes from Mi Goals, and I’m going to frame it and put it in the office eventually, as motivation for study next year.
Also featured is a manuscript I am reading for a friend, my RETROSUPERFUTURE reading glasses and a handmade fountain pen, gifted to me my the talented Mr Evan Beaver!
Up the back is a foam bust of Einstein. He has a peg at the back that opens and closes his mouth. Normally his mouth is stuffed full with sheets of medication so I don’t forget to take them.
A Study in Bedside Tables #9: Master bedroom, Earlwood
B’s bedside table is pretty much all Apple gear, silver and black. While I tend to read books, B reads e-books and comics on his iPad, which we also occasionally use to watch episodes of Futurama in bed.
‘How to Train a Superdog’ is a recent addition to our library, because our super dog sometimes acts up a little. Barry reads it and tells me interesting facts.
One thing I particularly love about the tables is the top drawer has a half-length sliding shelf.
Handy for those frequently used items!
Speaking of super dogs, here is our frequent bedroom guest. We keep saying we’re going to stop letting her on the bed, but it is super cute in the mornings when she’s first let inside to cop 12 kilos of frantically excited corgi.
We love her!
One of my favourite things to photograph during my travels are the bedside tables in various places I stay. Bedside tables can tell you a lot about where you are, both physically and mentally.
This is a collection from 2011 and 2012.
A Study in Bedside Tables #1: Holiday Inn Express, Seattle.
This was probably three weeks into a four week road trip. Every overseas holiday ends with a pile of small change you always insist you will spend before you leave and never do. Instead you leave the coins in your wallet, handing them out as gifts or frustrating baristas by trying to use them as legal currency once home.
A Study in Bedside Tables #2: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 1.
My first thought revisiting this photo is that I don’t change much. I am wearing both silver rings pictured today, and although the phone has changed, I would definitely still use a Buzz Osborne picture as my wallpaper. I am still getting through that exact bottle of melatonin and the CD at the back of the photo is the Puscifer album, Conditions Of My Parole, which I still listen to at least once a week.
A Study in Bedside Tables #3: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 2.
The Hilton was the only accommodation we stayed in which did not provide free wi-fi, hence the books, cough syrup, Black Russian and melatonin. I spent a few hours that day in Powell’s Books, which is the largest independent bookstore in the world. I was reading mostly essays in 2011 and was lucky enough to pick up collections edited by two of my favourite guys.
A Study in Bedside Tables #4: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 3.
At least on the third night I was mixing wine and cough syrup, not spirits … right? The cough syrup stemmed from an incident in Las Vegas, which having not smoked in about five years, I found myself in a city where you can, and everybody does, smoke inside. While I managed to refrain from partaking, my body reacted as though I had a three pack a day habit: I had a constant cough and bleeding noses most mornings of the trip. Remember: smoking is cool.
The sunglasses were bought at a vintage shop in Portland called Magpie. I have a sunglasses addiction and had two other pairs with me on the trip, yet I still maintain these are the best sunglasses I’ve owned and it was worth the excess.
A Study in Bedside Tables #5: Shilo Inn, Medford
*snort* As any travel mate I have ever had will tell you, I am obsessed with having the ability to wash my own clothes. While everyone else would race ahead to find out if the hotel had wi-fi, I would be anxiously sweating until I could confirm I could do a cold wash. I guess having the washing liquid on my bedside table was reassuring.
A Study in Bedside Tables #6: The Historic Mayfair, Los Angeles
Had we not almost stayed in a crack den in Seattle, this would’ve been the worst hotel of the trip, easily. There’s nothing like spending your last night in a hotel which has taken obvious measures to prevent the self harm it provokes in even the more hardened traveller.
Baby food. What can I say? It started in Whole Foods, Salt Lake City, where I decided that baby food was the perfect travel snack: small, healthy (?), tasty. Every time I popped the lid on one of these bad boys, I was roundly mocked by my cohorts.
A Study in Bedside Tables #7: Cottage on the Inlet, Porirua
A year later, a different country and there’s that little green bottle again. I love melatonin. Another memento of the earlier US trip is the giant skull ring, which I bought from a shop called Loved to Death in Haight-Ashbury.
The reading material is fairly standard fare. I have read every issue of Vanity Fair for a decade now, I love Bellow and Nabokov in that order.
This morning I was reading the specs for the Lumix DMC-GX7 because I’ve wanted a Lumix for a while: a camera that takes incredible photos but isn’t as heavy or require as much gear as my DSLR. Then I remembered two things: my debts and my rule about not buying new tech before I’ve pushed my current gear as far as I can and I’ve barely scratched the surface of my Canon’s capabilities.
I think I probably will go down the Lumix route eventually, especially for travel, but in the mean time I can scratch the itch by putting down my iPhone and picking up my Canon. As best I can tell, the last time I really used it was 2012, and the amount I’ve forgotten since then is shocking.
Bare with me while I remember how to do this and how much I used to love it.
Ever since Anna got back from America, we’ve both been on a mission to rearrange the house, probably fuelled by the toxic levels of corn syrup we have flowing through our veins at any given moment, post Candy Corn et al binge.
I’ve been focussing on my bedroom. I’ve been in my current house for almost two years and still had boxes stacked in a corner, unpacked. It’s the effect of having moved at least 17 times in 31 years. Sometimes unpacking seems pointless, but I am happy and I like where I live and I should make an effort so I’ve shifted things around and moved in a TV cabinet and ruthlessly culled my clothes to donate somewhere.
I also bought a stupidly sweet caramel and vanilla candle, so last night I lit it and framed some of my favourite photos from America. I want to surround myself with the memories, because it’s still a road trip I think about almost every day even though so much has changed.
I miss you, Arizona. You are vast and lonely and warm.