On a Cloudy Day

I’m looking for the sunshine on cloudy days.

2012: My 'health and fitness' resolutions

I’m not sure if it’s the first time I heard of new year’s resolutions, but I’m pretty sure it was the first time I made one. It was a hot evening; in country Victoria they almost always are. There was a pool and a trampoline and it was one of those parties where there were heaps of kids my brother and I had never met before. It didn’t matter because at that age things were pretty simple: new kids equalled new friends, if only for a few hours. Boys in one free-range mob, girls in another.

As midnight approached some of these new girls and I snuck into the kitchen to help ourselves to second and third bowls of pavlova. Our hands were adorned with Cheezel rings. We ‘pigged out’ because tomorrow we were all ‘going on a diet’.

I was maybe ten or eleven. Of course we didn’t ‘go on a diet’, we didn’t know how. But we already knew somehow that it was what we should be doing.

As an adult my new year’s resolutions have had a depressing constancy. Under the influence of every ‘New Year, New You!’ magazine article I could get my hands on, they’ve gone something like:

  1. Lose 10 kilos.
  2. Join a gym and hope the financial outlay will guilt me into attending. Ignore the fact that I hate the gym.
  3. Don’t eat carbs/fat/anything at all after 4pm/6pm/8pm/whatever arbitrary time I’ve recently come across on a weight loss, sorry, ‘lifestyle’ blog.
  4. Lose 10 kilos.
  5. Feel bad if not losing at least one kilogram a week because sheesh, I don’t want to be on a diet forever.
  6. Lose 10 kilos.

    This is all kinda personal but I need to say out loud that living like that is bullshit. Feeling like you are valued according to the size and shape of your body is bullshit. Magazines and gyms and weight loss companies getting rich by feeding us insecurities is bullshit. It takes a lot of work to undo a lifetime of programming on this stuff but it’s worth sticking at. This year my resolutions are different:

    1. For the first time in living memory, I won’t buy Who Magazine’s ‘Half Their Size!’ special and spend days rereading it (in secret of course) comparing my body to those pictured inside.
    2. I will continue to practice yoga because it makes me feel strong and calm.
    3. I will delete interminably boring ‘lifestyle’ blogs—in which women (always women) log their eating, drinking and exercise several times a day, in scrupulous detail—from my reader.
    4. I will ride my bike because it is ridiculously fun and gives me a sense of freedom.
    5. For now, this is enough.


Get out of town: Katoomba

We took the train from Central (Sydney). A two hour ride and kind of a world away, it was a trip down memory lane for Joseph and I was glad to share it.

I gather Katoomba has always been a holiday town, so as well as some utterly gorgeous art deco buildings there are a number of big rambly old resort places with grand gardens and names like The Carrington. I could just imagine croquet in the afternoon, drinks on the patio at five and dancing into the night. The nearest comparisons I can think of are Kellerman’s in Dirty Dancing (oh stop, you love it too) or the chalet at Mount Buffalo (sadly closed at the moment) only there’s not one, there’s a town full. My favourite was the seen-better-days Clarendon in its neon glory:


Fortified by a $15 bottle of red between us an an excellent pumpkin and lentil pie, we wandered away from the main drag, past the wonderfully-named Cat Defence op shop, and with all due respect to the Three Sisters (we didn’t make it out there) found some real treasures off the beaten track:




Sure, it was cold and it drizzled all day, but somehow up there in the mountains winter made sense.


Winter idyll, 1984ish

My brother and I look to be having a lovely time here, don’t we? This is one of my favourite photos ever.



Signs of life

A garden is a great pleasure, and I actually think winter is a lovely time for gardening. Sure, there are no glossy tomatoes or eager basil plants offering up daily harvest, but it’s nice to spend time preparing, tending and waiting. Plus, there’s plenty of rain.

In late autumn I spent an afternoon planting bulbs. The clever little things must have noticed the days slowly lengthening, because yesterday I was wandering around the garden and found myself buoyed by these signs of life:

IMG_0988 Hyacinths! Absolutely my favourite bulbs; their fragrance is divine and I love the way they just burst from the earth (or potting mix, as the case may be).

IMG_0994 Here come a couple of cheeky daffodils.

IMG_0995 Not bulbs, but aren’t these pretty blooms on the primulas and snapdragons?

IMG_0996 This pot of ranunculus (my second-favourite bulbs, if those spidery pod things count!) and sweet peas is going to be gorgeous.

IMG_0997 Um. Things aren’t going so well for my winter vegetables. Turns out the chickens like broccoli and cauliflower rather a lot. Oh well.



Since the arrival of the chickens, and their droppings, I’ve been thinking rather a lot about gumboots. Galoshes. Wellingtons. In fact, I have become positively fixated on the Hunter boots currently in a shop window nearby my office. Oh, they’re lovely.

I haven’t owned a pair in years, and perhaps this is one of the reasons I’ve turned against winter so. I have only happy memories of these practical, unfashionable boots and the winter days that required their service.

In primary school we were allowed to wear our gumboots to and from school, changing into slippers for the classroom. It was BRILLIANT (and certainly made for a quick transition to important after school activities).


Gumboots also got me through weekends of camping, rockpooling, mushrooming and even tobogganing with toasty dry toes.


Happily, I never was surprised by spiders scurrying out of one of my boots at the beginning of winter, though friends' horror stories kept me on my guard.

I NEED the Hunters. Right?


Souper! Cauliflower Cheese.

The cauliflower is truly a winter champion! There are so many nice things you can do with it, but my discovery this winter has been cauliflower soup.

The one I’ve been making is ridiculously easy, basically a gussied up version of Stephanie’s (which she in turn attributes to her friend ‘Muff’). Today I sauteed a leek in olive oil, then once that was looking soft I threw in a whole, roughly chopped, cauliflower and four cups of (vegetarian) chicken stock. I cooked it until the cauliflower was soft, maybe half an hour. Then, Stephanie’s secret ingredient: a small teaspoon of Vegemite (no really you should try it!) I blended it with the stick mixer and, finally, stirred through a splash of milk and a loose handful of grated tasty cheese.

Served with some fresh pepper, a sprinkle of parsley and some crumbled blue cheese on top:


Because we woke late, and so breakfasted late, we ate this weekend lunch late enough for me to have a big glass of wine alongside. Joseph had a porter. Yum.