Hello, hotties. How are you faring? It’s a bit much, isn’t it? I’m talking about the weather, obviously. Ooof, it’s been HOT! Heatwave records seem to be tumbling all over Australia. Every night the weather map looks like a band of molten lava across the country.

I’ve been thinking of changing the name of this blog to Slow, Wilted, Sweaty. Honestly, I’ve been as limp as an old lettuce. The bedroom’s been too hot to sleep in, so I’ve camped in the lounge room and spent lots of time looking at photos of snow in Sweden and wishing I was there instead of here. 42 degrees Celsius is no-one’s favourite temperature, unless you’re some kind of lizard.

Talking of which, I had to turn the water off to get some plumbing done. The mains tap is down a pipe underneath the courtyard, and when I peered down into it I saw little eggs, lots of them. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw many wriggly things too. Baby skinks! I had to relocate them to turn off the tap. Have you ever tried catching baby skinks with a spoon and getting them to travel up a pipe? Luckily it was such a hot day that no-one was around to ask me what I was doing: “Oh, you know, just encouraging skinks to take the spoon escalator up to ground level.”

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When I was a child and lived in England, there was a heatwave one summer which now seems mild by Australian standards. I think the temperature went over 30 for a while. But the most amazing thing happened: ladybirds took over the country. Really, they did. There was a ladybird plague. They were everywhere. I wondered whether it was my childhood memory inflating the numbers or whether there really was a plague, so I looked it up. The BBC says that insect boffins estimated the number at 23.65 billion! Nope, that’s not a typo. You can read about it here.

I’ve been thinking about why we like ladybirds but hate cockroaches. It’s to do with the shape and the spots, isn’t it? Ladybirds are rounded and cute and pretty. They’re cartoon‑like. We like their bright colours and patterns. They cheer us up.

To escape the heat this week, I went to the National Gallery to look at Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room, which is like being surrounded by a giant ladybird. It’s a patterned room in hot yellow, with black dots. In the middle is a mirrored box reflecting the walls and ceiling back at you. It’s fun and disconcerting at the same time because it plays tricks with your brain.


When you walk up the steps and peer through a little window in the mirrored box, you see the most wonderful thing: bright yellow pumpkins with black spots reflected to infinity.


Kids and adults alike were queuing to see these gorgeous, quirky pumpkins. As soon as I’d had my turn at looking through the little window, I wanted to go straight back to do it again. It’s truly delightful. It’s called The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens and it’s been bought by the gallery, which hopefully means it’s on display permanently. After I’d seen it, the 42-degree day outside seemed pale by comparison.

Weather gods be thanked, it’s cooler today and predicted to be that way for the rest of the week. We’ll all have a chance to catch up on sleep and get our energy back. I can stop looking at pictures of Sweden. I hope the cool change has made it to your house too. But even if you don’t need an air-conditioned art gallery to escape to, go and see the ladybird pumpkins!