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Number 33: Read more

I knew I wanted to try and get back to reading this year. I used to devour books during my teenage years (and before that) and continued to read mountains of books through my BA degree (Journalism and English Literature). Which might be reason why I stopped reading? So what a better way to start again than with The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I vividly remember when I first read The Handmaid’s Tale, so was really keen to read the sequel, which Margeret Atwood released 35 later!

And it did not disappoint. I am sure by now most people with have read it themselves, but nonetheless I won’t give anything away. It’s wonderfully narrated by three different women, one of them being Aunt Lydia. It gives the reader a great overview of her backstory, maybe helping to explain why she is as cold and calculating as she is made out to be in both books.

The story picks up a few years after what happened during the Handmaid’s Tale, and it feels like it’s giving us explanations for some of the stories that were left open there.

I really enjoyed delving back into Atwood’s style of writing, I have always enjoyed it. She can draw me into the story and she makes me deserate to find out what happens next.

If you haven’t read it, I urge you to pick it up and read it!

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Hike 3/40: Evans Crown Track

Oh this one was fun! We had come to Bathurst to explore the region before school goes back next week, and it was so worth it! There are so many tracks and trails around here, but the Evans Crown Track, about 40 minutes drive from Bathurst close to Tarana, really intrigued us. From down below it looked majestic!

Can you make out the massive stone boulders and rocks?
Sure looks good for climbing too!
A 2.3 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels.

The way up was quite steep, lots of steps, we stopped counting at one point. But it’s so worth it. We saw so many butterflies and even a kangaroo hopped past us as we made our way up to the top.

And there was some incredibly fauna too….sooo pretty.

At the top the options are endless! So many paths, in fact there are no clear paths when you are at the top, but there are many ways to explore. We could have spent all day there!

Standing on top of the mountain was pretty special!

As we were on our way back down I insisted that I could climb a particularly large rock for a view of the other side of the valley… I did make it up the rock with some help, but unfortunately quite badly hurt my knee. Which meant that I had to hobble down the steps, down the mountain and was in quite a lot of pain. I am hoping that a few days rest will make it all better!

Not my finest hour…but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

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1/40 Beaches: Coogee Beach

I wasn’t sure if I was cheating adding Coogee Beach, as I didn’t actually make it onto the beach on Sunday, as it was insanely busy. But it’s my list and I can complete it however I like! ­čÖé And I have previously been on Coogee Beach, so it still counts!

And instead of stepping onto the beach my friend and I walked along the path and cliffs, where there were fewer people. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

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35 on my List: Plant Roses

I have always had a deep love for roses, particularly fragrant English style roses. It might be because my mum had planted one incredibly full and fragrant rose when I was growing up. Or maybe it stems from my 4 years at boarding school in the Hampshire countryside in England, where the rose garden had a plethora of beautiful and intensely perfumed roses. It doesn’t really matter, I knew that once I owned my own house I would want to plant some roses.

I am fortunate that I have a wonderful mother-in-law who is often a keen supporter and sometimes the instigator in my schemes. When she came down to the Southern Highlands with me in November, we hatched a plan to find some roses.

Front garden with my four roses…just planted.

We must have smelled over 30 roses together… My friend Kylie had asked her mother, who is an avid rose gardener, for some advice on some fragrant varieties. Out of her suggestions the only one I managed to find was Mr. Lincoln.

From Wagner’s Rose Nursery: “Mr Lincoln is one of the most sought after red rose varieties, this tough and reliable plant features large full cupped blooms (26 to 40 petals) in dark red that fade to a dark purple hue, has dark green leathery foliage and thrives in warm climates. Mr Lincoln is a tall rose, planted at the rear of a rose bed it will reward with many large blooms of dark red on long stems and a strong fragrance, blooms in flushes throughout the season. Can be used for cut flower or garden. Dark red Hybrid Tea.

Bred by Swim & Weeks (United┬áStates, 1964). (┬áChrysler Imperial (Hybrid Tea, Lammerts, 1952)┬á├Ś┬áCharles Mallerin (Hybrid Tea, Meilland, before 1947))

Introduced by Unknown (Australia) in 1965 as ‘Mister Lincoln’. – Fragrance: Strong. – Height: to 90 to 200cm – Width: 60cm.”

It was the strongest bush I purchased and has thrived in my front garden, despite being planted out on a rather hot day. It’s given me several huge and beautifully perfumed flowers already and I am sure it will give me many more.

I picked the Jude the Obscure variety as it’s got a beautiful peachy colour and an impressive fragrance.

From Wagner’s Rose Nursery: “Jude the Obscure with its tones of mid apricot yellow on the inside fading out to pale yellow on the outside, this is a free-flowering rose bearing very large incurved, cup-shaped flowers. It is known for its extremely strong fragrance showing a delicious fruity note reminiscent of guava and sweet white wine. A medium shrub, it is hardy and disease resistant and has excellent repeat flowering.

Fragrance: Strong fruity notes. – Height: to 150 cm or can be grown as a climber.”

The initial buds and flowers had some bugs in them, you will notice the little holes on the edge of the petals. After cutting off the buds that seemed to have these bugs in them, the rose has thrived and I can see a few buds coming up.

I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a white rose, so picked the Pope John Paul II. Not only for hits pure whiteness, but also it’s intense aroma.

From Wagner’s Rose Nursery: “With large, luminous pure white blooms, Pope John Paul II has received plaudits for its vigorous growth, disease resistance and form, and honours of one of the world”s most beloved leaders. Some consider it to be one of the most fragrant roses of all time, and would surely be enjoyed in the Vatican gardens.

Fragrance: Strong fresh citrus. – Height: to 150cm.”

That white rose is just stunning! It’s absolutely perfect and smells divine!

The final rose I picked was an English Rose. It’s a smaller one and I wasn’t sure it would survive the heat, but the last few days it’s gifted me the most incredibly flowers!

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Hike 2/40: Fitzroy Falls West Rim Track to The Grotto

I am so pleased to get another walk in so quickly. This time even my two boys came along! This is a track I had previously walked with my mother-in-law and enjoyed it so much that I knew I wanted to walk it again. It’s not a loop, but rather a there and back track. We could have taken the fire track back but my son was keen to go back the same way as he enjoyed the different stairs.

A stunning part of our country, especially when the weather plays its part. It was a little bit too busy for my liking. I had previously been here during the week, whereas we visited today, on a Saturday. Nonetheless, still very enjoyable. Even my five-year old managed to walk the approximately 3kms.

The Falls were pretty spectacular, especially as it has been raining a fair bit in the Southern Highlands. The best bit about this hike for me was the fact that my family joined me this time. While it meant we walked for a shorter distance, it was nice to share it with them.

The main reason for chosing this track was the promise of The Grotto! Both my boys were very keen to splash in the water there. Not entirely allowed I am sure, but we were very careful!

I am keen to make the next hike a long one!

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Hike 1/40: Engadine to Heathcote Loop

During the last year I have discovered some great bushwalks and hikes in this beautiful country I call home. So, I knew that walking/hiking needed to feature on my ‘list of 40 things‘. And I am not one to hang about, and despite having pretty bad muscle aches in my legs after doing an at home exercise program the day before, I met up with my mother-in-law on Sunday and we walked the Engadine to Heathcote Loop.

We walked the big loop, for about 2hrs and then both got really hungry and had some lunch. I use the AllTrails app to make sure we don’t get lost. It was drizzling a bit when we started, but that wasn’t going to stop us. It actually made for a wonderful, refreshing walk with lots of beautiful and fresh flora.

It’s an easy track, I think it’s used as a mountain biking track as well. Throughout it has little mounds that would make for great jumps on a bike. We had to cross the creek twice, which was flowing well after the recent rain. We tried to find some stepping stones, but in the end stepped through the water as we were not worried about getting our feet wet.

We found a wonderful spot where the huge rocks looked like they may have shifted over time almost like tectonic plates, which enabled the river to run around them…pooling at the bottom. A great swimming hole if ever there was one. Both my mother-in-law and I agreed that my eldest would love to jump into the water there.

All in all, a great first hike for this year! And I have felt recharged all week…need to find the next spot for this weekend!

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Number 36 on my list: Drive-in Movie

Those that know me will know that I am a fan of lists… And this monster list for my 40th year is now different. I am working my way through it at a pretty fast speed (and yes I know some items I may have gotten a headstart with). But Number 36 on the list: Drive-in Movie was completed on Sunday evening (3rd January 2021).

Lucky girl that I am, my good friends and their kids decided to join us too… It was such fun! We saw The Croods: A New Age. A kids film, but very watchable and enjoyable for the entire family. And while watching the movie I did ask myself… why had I never been to a Drive-in before this?

How lucky we are to be able to do this! And another thing ticked off my list!

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Lucky No. 16 on my list (Buy and Own Art)

I am amazed at how many people loved my list from my post yesterday. Who know it would speak to you all. Thank you for your comments across my social media. I love it. I will endeavour to share with you how I am going.

One of the items on my list I am incredibly excited about was Number 16. Buying and owning art. Especially since I have already found the most incredible series of 5 pieces of art in my friend Thomas Buchich’s gallery in Berrima, in the Southern Highlands: WhiteWall Art Projects.

Thomas rotates an incredible selection of pieces from artists from across Australia and the rest of the world, and he also exhibits some of his stunning pieces. I particularly like any of his blue sculptures. Check out some of his work on his Instagram!

I visited in November and was in awe when I came across Judith Nangala Crispin’s work. According the the Financial Review, she’s: ‘The Artist that turns Roadkill into fine Art’.

I couldn’t walk past these incredible prints. Four birds and a lizard: roadkill. This is Judith’s description of the process: “Five panels of Lumachrome glass prints, chemigram, cliche-verre. Landscape and sky: cliche-verre and lumen from beached jellyfish, echidna spines, shed python skin, spiders, garnia seeds, twigs, rainforest ochres, oil paint, vegemite, petals and crystals made from copper chloride and acid with a current run through it – with roadkill southern boobook owl, roadkill masked lapwing, roadkill eastern water dragon, roadkill purple swamp hen, roadkill rainbow lorikeet on fibre paper. Exposure times of between 29 and 41 hours under acetate and perspex in humid conditions. Summer light and rain light.”

And all five of them are breakthtaking and the look absolutely fabulous in our stairwell.

Check out my Instagram highlights for some videos of these beauties up on my wall.

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My Exciting Year of 40 Things

It’s been quiet in my little corner here. And it’s not because I haven’t had anything to say. I felt it was necessary to take a break and let the last year work itself out.

That is all about to change. This year I am dedicating myself to a list of 40 things, in honour of turning the big 40. It’s exciting, I’m excited!

1. Take part in a rally driving session
2. Practice my violin
3. Make and donate items to charity
4. Proper rock climbing – with regular practice sessions
5. 40 different hikes/walks in NSW (or further afield if possible). STARTED: Hike 1 and Hike 2.
6. Hunter Valley wine tour
7. Canyoning
8. Obtain a boat licence
9. Trip to New Zealand (if possible)
10. Weekly photo of the boys. STARTED: Week 1.
11. Daily photo for the entire year. ONGOING.
12. Write or blog every day. ONGOING
13. Teach a craft class
14. No new clothes all year
15. Regular outings as a family. STARTED: here.
16. Buy and own art: Done! See post about it here.
17. Use up my extensive yarn stash
18. Only buy yarn for specific commissioned projects
19. Visit 40 beaches, STARTED: Coogee Beach.
20. Roadtrip to the Outback
21. Beibehaltungsgenehmigung – Aussie Citizenship
22. Weekend away with Megan & Bettina
23. Memory quilts for the boys
24. Move every day for 30-60 mins. STARTED…FitBit reinstated…
25. Monthly video calls with family and friends
26. Refresh Italian (penpal)
27. Practice and improve my swimming ability
28. 1 day a week without my phone (entire year). ONGOING
29. Sign up to do my ‘Master of Handknitting’
30. Write 40 letters throughout the year
31. Cocktail making course
32. Stand Up Paddle boarding
33. Read more – aim for 10 books during the year. STARTED: The Testaments by Margeret Atwood
34. Random acts of kindness
35. Plant roses: Done! See post about it here.
36. Drive in Movie: Done! See post about it here.
37. Roadtrip without destination
38. Regular German practice with the boys
39. Campervan holiday
40. 4 days away on my own