The Joys and Benefits of Open Water Swimming

Last year my husband spent every Sunday morning of the entire winter swimming in the sea. He estimated that water temperature got as low as 8C. Apart from three weeks when we visited Vietnam, and one weekend when we were away at the snow, he went for a swim in the sea.

I’ll be frank, I thought he was mad. While I lolled about in my pjs with my hot cup of tea, he’d change into his boardies and head into the water (with only a swimming cap for warmth). He’d return half an hour or so later, with purple lips and a shiver that only a hot shower would calm. But his eyes would be sparkling and you could see he was electric with adrenalin.

Then one day in October 2017 I read a really interesting article on The Conversation on the benefits of swimming in sea water. You can read it here if you’re interested.  Something turned in my brain after reading that article. [Read more…]

A Gentle Return: Taking Stock for January

Helloooo! (waves). I’ve missed you.

It’s been months since I’ve blogged but am feeling the creative draw, and feel like I want to get back to writing a bit more regularly. So forgive my absence, hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me (if you want to, that is).

Lots has happened, and not so much at the same time, which is probably why it’s a good idea to come back with a ‘Taking Stock’ post, created by Pip Lincoln from Meet Me at Mikes. [Read more…]

A Visit To Montsalvat

The Great Hall of Montsalvat

I’ve been pondering this blog post and almost putting it off because if I’m going to write a blog post about Montsalvat, I’ll need to include some history of the place, right? So that means I’ll need to do a bit of research, some fact checking. And then I started dreading writing the post because suddenly it loomed like a chore.

So I decided that I’m not going to let it be a chore. I’ll just show you some photos, and you’ll see for yourself. And may be those photos will pique your interest, and you’ll want to do a little bit of research on this gorgeous place yourself. Or even better, go and experience it for yourself.

Montsalvat is a beautiful artists colony located in the picturesque outer suburb of Eltham, which is 20km north-east of Melbourne’s CBD. Established in 1934 by Justus Jorgensen, it a collection of historical buildings inspired by a French provincial village – and indeed it feels like stepping into just that.

Last Sunday was the annual Montsalvat Arts Festival. Knowing what was already there, I was keen to go back. My sister got married at Montsalvat, and it is the location of one of my first dates with my husband 💞. It’s such a romantic place and has a beautiful history; you feel like you should be waltzing around in a flowing white dress with a flower crown on your head (or something…).

Just one of the sculptures dotted around the grounds

It’s hard to be in the space and not be inspired. It is a place where art is made, taught and exhibited. It is teeming with art, both modern and traditional. Painters, sculptors, glass blowers, guitar makers, jewellery makers and many more creatives have enjoyed the creative inspiration afforded by Montsalvat.

The sun shone, the flamenco band played, the champagne was sipped as we whiled away the afternoon in a bubble of Sunday joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Things Aren’t Quite Right: 2017, I’m Talking To You

There’s nothing quite like a change of seasons to help lift a mood. One of the reasons I love living in Melbourne is because the seasons are so pronounced. Even though the calendar says we are now officially in Spring, winter has not yet departed. I can feel the transition though; the days are getting longer, the mornings are brighter and even on those bitter frosty mornings, spring daffs and crocuses continue to show themselves.

The other day an image of “120 Days till Christmas” came into my Facebook feed. It startled me. That Christmas will be here before we know it, and 2017 will be gone. I’m not one to wish things away, but 2017 definitely hasn’t panned out how I’d imagined it would. 

[Read more…]

The Therapy of Baking and Why It Can Be Helpful to Not Be a Minimalist

 

Sometimes bad things happen. Things that you think only happen to other people. When you hear the stories you gasp and say ‘how awful, how terrible for them’. And then you move on. Until one day it is you being told the terrible news that something bad has happened.

Your brain goes in to a dream like trance – I think the official term is shock. I remember when I got the call from my sister to say that my Mum may not survive and if I wanted to see her one last time I would need to come to the hospital immediately. In the time between leaving for the hospital and trying to contact my husband I took to sweeping the floor.

There is comfort to be found in the domestic, in the mundane, when big bad things happen that your brain can’t quite process.  Busying one’s hands while one’s mind tries to swim through the reality of shock is oddly soothing.

Today I made one of my favourite cakes – the Bill Granger vanilla buttermilk cake. I made it to take away for the weekend to share with our extended family. I mixed up the ingredients in my Mum’s metal mixing bowl – it would be called vintage now. I sifted the flour using my Gran’s sifter. I remember using it as a child at her place in the country. There was always a cake at Gran’s house.

As my mind was reeling over the bad news we received the night before, I found solace in holding the bowl that my Mum had held and mixed, just as I was. And holding the strong metal handle on the sifter I thought of my Gran, and I thought of all the bad news they would have heard over the years; the deaths, the sicknesses, the losses… the sorrow, the sadness.

 

And now it was me. Holding their things. Being propped up by both of them. The scrape of the sifting handle being turned to sprinkle flour into the creamed butter and sugar. The clink of of the wooden spoon on the metal bowl as I stirred the in eggs, and I thought about both of them and their strength of character and their will to keep going, their mettle. To keep going, to not drown in the shock of bad news or from the sorrow of loss, or the fear of what will come next.

Often I curse myself for holding on to things, to stuff; for being so sentimental. Cursing the clutter and often wishing I could be as clinical as Marie Kondo. If it doesn’t spark joy – it goes.

But today I was thinking ‘thank goodness for my sentimentality’. Whatever those mundane domestic objects were imbued with over the years served as a crutch for me today. Their stoic utilitarianism brought the strength of my Mum and my Gran to life. The act of beating, stirring, and mixing was a salve to my troubled thoughts. To the chaos of shock, to that feeling of not being able to catch my breath.

Who knew baking a cake could be so therapeutic?