IMG_3701

Hello, m’dears! It’s the holidays! Yippee! I hope you’re having a relaxing time, wherever you are. I went on a sneaky pre-Christmas break! How good is that? Unplanned beach trips are up there on my list of best things ever. A friend and I house-sat in beautiful Austinmer for a couple of days, two minutes walk from the beach.

Every day we flip-flopped down to the sea pool. The water was still cold, so we did the walking in slowly while clenching your teeth manoeuvre, followed by the ARGH! of the shoulders going under, followed by the “oh, it’s actually lovely” comment. Some days the tide was exhilaratingly high and the waves crashed across the pool, lifting and dumping us and almost dragging us out. I found I couldn’t stop grinning, which is not my usual expression when facing possible drowning, but it was unexpectedly blissful.

IMG_3726

Christmas Eve featured another beach, Seven Mile, in the pretty Shoalhaven. It was grey and cool and the wind was up, but we had a bracing family walk before the turkey/ham/puddin’ fest began.

And now here we are: New Year’s Eve. I’m going on another quick trip to the coast later this week, so I’m quite content to stay home tonight and take stock. You could call it a quiet night in, but the boys three doors down are already drunk, so it’s not going to be that quiet! Anyway, here’s my taking stock list.

Reading: Re-reading Tim Winton’s The Riders. It’s my absolute favourite of his books, only just beating That Eye, The Sky. But if I had to choose one of them to take to a desert island, I couldn’t; I’d have to take both. I started re-reading it with the intention of looking closely at how he does it, how he makes the prose sing, but in an instant I forgot all about that and got lost in the story all over again.

I’m also reading (well, gawping at the pictures mainly) this book:

IMG_3688

Isn’t it beautiful? My fuzzy photo doesn’t do it justice.

Getting to the end of: Yoga teacher training! Two years down the track, I’ve finally logged enough hours to get the qualification, once I finish…er…10 assignments. But the end is in sight. I’ve just started looking at chandra namaskar, otherwise known as salute to the moon. It’s been a turning point for me, as I find so many yoga classes focus on salute to the sun and (say it quietly) I don’t like it! It’s too fast and sweaty and makes me feel a bit panicky, whereas the salute to the moon sequences are so much slower and calmer and inward focused. Just what we middle-aged-prone-to-stress folk need. So that’s what my classes will be built around. Hurrah!

Joining: A gym!

IMG_3702

No, that’s not it. But some wag obviously uses Austinmer headland as a gym. And why not? My gym isn’t big or particularly fancy, but it does have a pink, sparkly chandelier in the changing room, which is a welcome distraction from the pink, sweaty reflection in the mirror. I joined not as a New Year’s resolution but because I missed treadmills. I know! Seriously weird! But, try as I might, I just don’t enjoy outdoor running and I missed the happy trance that treadmills give, so back to the gym we go.

Listening to: Possums and parrots eat all the plums on the plum trees. I managed to pick one colanderful. That’s all they left me. All day I hear “Ting, chortle, THUD” as the parrots eat the plums and drop them on the shed roof. Then for a couple of hours each night I hear what sounds like an old man wheezing right outside my window but is actually the possum eating the plums that the parrots haven’t eaten yet. Yes, I should have netted the trees, but I couldn’t because I don’t have a ladder.

Buying: A ladder! Now I can do things like net fruit trees and change light bulbs and get into the roof space that I threw things into when I moved in and haven’t been into since. The only way is up, baby!

img_3758-e1514714737847.jpg

Enrolling in: A creative writing bootcamp. I’ve got a stack of old scribblings which need to be whipped into shape, and I’m looking forward to learning a lot.

Saying goodbye to: A couple of relationships, one of which changed suddenly a few months ago, leaving a huge gap and making me very sad, but now I’m going to let go and wish them well.

Surprising myself: By thinking about overseas travel. If you’d asked me a year ago, when I was still living out of a suitcase and doing a mad intercity commute, whether I’d like to go overseas again I’d have said, “Not in a million years.” Now I’m thinking, “House swap. Berlin. How can I do that? When can I do that?” It probably won’t be this year, but the seed has been planted and I’m gonna keep watering it.

Baking: Olive oil cake. “Cake, so soon after Christmas?!” I hear you exclaim. Yes. So many cakes, so little time. It’s very light and plain and rather delicious. The recipe is from this book: Food Swings, by Jessica Seinfeld. It’s a lovely book and she’s super nice, so I urge you to borrow it from the library or buy it. I’m not going to put the recipe up. Everything in the book is simple and tasty and just what you feel like cooking. I’m really enjoying it.

IMG_3773

See that white blob next to the cakey? It’s skyr. Icelandic yoghurt, made in Australia, available at my local supermarket in Canberra. What an amazing world we live in! I went to Iceland for a too short visit a few years ago and one of the things I loved about it was the Icelandic sense of humour. On the Icelandair menu they have skyr and they tell you to eat it with a fork to use up some time. They also have porridge as a menu item.

Apart from cake, dolmades and salad are my food of choice at the moment. I’d like to say it’s home-grown salad, as I planted a lot of leafy greens, but see possum above. So now I’m eating store-boughten salad. And while we’re on the subject of dolmades…

Discovering: This record in a friend’s record collection:

IMG_3656

I apologise for yet another fuzzy photo, but aren’t those shiny trousers something?! I really wanted some like that when I was a pre-teen, which was about the time that bouzouki disco was popular. So here, for your summer listening pleasure, is the Bouzouki Disco Band. I guarantee this will stay in your head all summer. Thanks for reading this far. It’s been a long post. Happy New Year!