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!
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.
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 States, 1964). ( Chrysler Imperial (Hybrid Tea, Lammerts, 1952) × Charles 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!
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!