30 April 2009


Daffodil Painting Daffodils

The daffodils had the most amazing lines on them.

26 April 2009

Things You Might See at the Seaside


Bournemouth is two hours from London by train and it felt like another world. A world mostly populated by teenagers and grannies. A world with a brightly shining sun - yes, it was raining in London when we left.

Bournemouth Beach, Bournemouth
Beach Huts, Bournemouth 99 Flake, Bournemouth

Things we saw in Bournemouth:

* Icecream trucks selling Flake 99s (soft serve icecream - see photo of Lauchlin above)
* Clans of grannies playing Bingo in a real proper bingo hall
* Teenagers drinking and forming relationships
* Young teenaged boys smoking *special* cigarettes
* Teenaged girls getting into the ocean and screaming with the cold
* Rowdy huddles of men wearing identical stag night tshirts and playing minigolf
* Most people wearing tshirts while I shivered away in my coat, jumper and thermal top

Honestly, I was glad to come back to London and leave the teenagers to their awkward experimentation. Bournemouth was beautiful though - the space seems bigger when you look off a clifftop and see nothing but blue.

The Great Australian Beer...?

Fosters, Bournemouth

We had a pint of Foster's in Bournemouth, since it was Anzac Day back in Australia. The strange thing being that I don't know anyone back home who drinks the stuff. It's everywhere here! How has that happened?
The beer itself was labelled "super chilled" and was served... COLD. It was pretty good actually on a sunny spring evening.

25 April 2009

If You Were Here Now

An old friend from Tassie visited me yesterday. Walking through the red front door he said it felt like deja vu because he'd seen photos before.

I love having people visit because it makes things seem less two-dimensional... you know, you go from seeing photos to seeing all the ugly bits but it's a more real experience. You can look around corners and into cupboards.

If you were here now, you'd find me in the kitchen boiling eggs for a picnic lunch tomorrow. You'd smell something incredibly garlicky, that would be the risotto I'm making to use up the remains of last night's bottle of wine. How many cloves? Oh... maybe six.

(Excuse me while I stir the rice).

My friend left a thank you note anchored down by a jar of vegemite. Great style!

If you were here now, you'd find me stirring the risotto and I'd probably ask what you were having for dinner.

23 April 2009

Colour, Shape

Waterlily House, Kew Gardens

These are a few photos I took in Kew Gardens on the weekend. The colours, shapes and textures were amazing. It was all like a catalogue, you know, I'll take it in that deep purple, that inky black and that scale pattern thank you.

Carp, Kew Gardens Deep Purple, Kew Gardens
Pebble-type Succulent, Kew Gardens Waterlillies, Kew Gardens

21 April 2009

Oh Great and Mysterious Crema Plant (and Piranha)

Excellent Hot Chocolate, Lantana Cafe, LondonThe Crema Orchid, Kew Gardens
Hot chocolate, Lantana; Orchid leaf, Kew

It was the most beautiful weekend. I spent Saturday lazing around in this great little Aussie cafe called Lantana with Olly & Frank & Andrew, then on Sunday spent the entire day in the gigantic Kew Gardens with Ken & Karina examining the plants... and the piranha. Did you know there's a piranha at Kew Gardens? Apparently it can bite off 3cm of flesh in one bite. And they like to flock together in schools of up to a MILLION. Chomp chomp chomp.

18 April 2009

Making Plans


Lauch and I are going to Edinburgh! It will be more camping (hello, budget holidays), on the weekend of my birthday, somewhere near Ben Lomond but not Loch Ness. So I'm guessing we won't be seeing the Loch Ness Monster...

14 April 2009

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

I was sure Wales was going to be a grey, rainy place where I felt the cold seep through to my bones.

It wasn't.

View from Mt Snowdon
The view from Mt Snowdon

Lauchlin and I sweated our way up Mt Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. In hazy sunshine I stared down at rolling green hills and turquoise lakes. The sea lay somewhere in the distance.

Ram at Foot of Mt Snowdon, Wales Going up Mt Snowdon

In fact, the sea was closer than I had expected - we managed to drive to the beach in 20 minutes from the base of Mt Snowdon. Apparently you can see Ireland from this beach on a clear day.

Panorama, Wales

On Easter morning we woke up to find more clear blue skies. Tromping through a small forest to the top of Mynyth Mawr (pronounced Minith More), a little man with a smooth bald head overtook us. I made a cheerful comment about the weather and he called back "It's always like this in Wales," as he zoomed up the hill.

View from Mynyth Mawr, Wales
The view from Mynyth Mawr

From the top of Mynyth Mawr we could see yesterday's beach - but not Ireland.

Near Mynyth Mawr, Wales Halfway up Mynyth Mawr, Wales

Several kilometres later, Lauch and I ended up in a pub with a nice refreshing pint of er... warm ale. It wasn't literally heated, it just wasn't ice cold. We decided to ride the steam train back to our campsite.

Welsh Ale View from the Steam Train, Wales
Steam Train, Wales Campsite, Wales

Our tent was located in the campgrounds of luxury. Free hot showers! Sinks to do our washing up in. And the sound of a real waterfall to fall asleep to. Lauch and I left Wales with sore calves, surprisingly rosy cheeks and the feeling of optimism that a full weekend of sunshine inspires.

12 April 2009

Happy Easter!


By the time you read this I will be in Wales, attempting to understand a bit of Welsh and hiking up mountains in Snowdonia. Happy Easter! I hope your long weekend is filled with joy and adventure.

9 April 2009

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral
Inside Canterbury Cathedral

Columns stretching high
flagstones smooth from the feet of
pilgrims of Becket.

The Black Prince, Canterbury Cathedral
The Black Prince's Feet

Memory-heavy air
hushed voices, tales of murder
spirits lurking near.

Ceiling and Columns, Canterbury Cathedral
Columns inside Canterbury Cathedral

Outside, the sunlight
flickers, ghosts disappear and
more tourists arrive.

7 April 2009

In Progress: Portraits

Watercolour Painting Noa Noa Catalogue Spring 2009
My painting; Noa Noa catalogue

I'm interested in painting faces at the moment, as well as mucking around with how to use the watercolour paints. I like the layers you can get with the watercolours and sectioning parts off into different pieces of colour.

Watercolour Painting
From Lucian Freud's painting of Francis Bacon

The one above is my favourite.

I'm actually looking for some photographs to paint from... I'm after photos where the faces aren't too white, where there are some good sections of light and shadow. I would love it if you would email/send me a photo for me to paint. My painting probably won't look much like you but it will look interesting!

6 April 2009


There is no question about it. I went to Stockholm because of the artist and illustrator Camilla Engman. I was intrigued by the colours in her photos and I wanted to see the world as she saw it, a little bit.

Hornsgatspuckeln, Stockholm, Sweden

I saw the light the way she sees it. Somehow different from English light, Swedish light is tinted blue, different shades of ice. I loved certain colours in particular: blue-greys and rosehip red and washed-out yellows like grasses waving next to lakes.

Bay, Vaxholm Boat, Vaxholm
Old Fishermens' Houses, Vaxholm Rosehips, Vaxholm

I came away with a long, slow memory of cosy afternoons spent in cafes drinking from giant mugs. Walking through dark, rainsoaked streets arm in arm with Lauchlin, holding a too-small umbrella between us. And wishing to return to this place where the colours of winter are somehow beautiful.

The colours of a place soaked in water and the changing seasons.

Lauch in a Cafe in Vaxholm Stadshuset, Stockholm
Sunken Boat, Vaxholm Double Chocolate Cake, Vaxholm

*Note: I wrote this back in October 2008... it was Autumn.

4 April 2009

Short Beds for Shakespeare

Nash's House, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Nash House - a property owned by Shakespeare

According to vicious rumour, Shakespeare may not even have written his plays. Apparently, there are no draft copies of any of Shakespeare's work. Word has it that he was a canny businessman and outsourced the writing work to somebody else. There is, of course, no evidence that anyone else has written the plays either but it is an interesting concept. NotShakespeare.

Ken, Karina, Lauch and I went to visit NotShakespeare's birthplace and place of death in Stratford-Upon-Avon. In case you are like me and have wondered why the English name their towns -on-something, the Avon is the river that runs through Stratford. Therefore, Stratford-Upon-Avon.

We had cream tea (that is, scones with jam, clotted cream and a big pot of tea) and wandered through quiet streets full of fake reproduction Tudor buildings that Shakespeare and his various relatives have lived in. There is Shakespeare's birthplace, his wife's house, his daughter's house and his mother's house.

Street in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Reconstructed Tudor buildings in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Inside the house where Shakespeare was born is a very short bed with very large cushions. Why the short beds? In Shakespeare's time, people believed that they needed to sleep sitting up. Only dead people were laid out and that was how they let God take their soul. So just in case God thought you were dead and took your soul, you had to sleep sitting up all the time. I wonder if anyone ever slid sideways in their sleep.

Ken & Karina, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Ken and Karina

The prettiest house was Anne Hathaway's cottage, which has a thatched roof. It was a mile or so out of the town and across the road from it was a babbling brook surrounded by wild primroses and bluebells and little white flowers like stars with ducks that had shiny green feathers on their heads. It was straight out of an Enid Blyton book. After that we went to look at a castle that is 900 years old. Days like this I feel like I've found the real England. But not the real Shakespeare.

2 April 2009


It was perfect red with a cute little tail. Lauch cut them into fancy shapes and put them in a salad for dinner tonight.

1 April 2009

Back Down the Rabbit Hole

I went back to Oxford because I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something magical about the place. Was it the sand-coloured College buildings? Those doorways? Or just the fact that we visited on a sunny day? I half expected it to become a dingy ugly place on second visit.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford Porter's Bell, Oxford

Nope, Oxford still had a certain charm about it, despite the weird weather conditions we had - little showers of hail all afternoon, bouncing off my umbrella, then back to golden sunshine.

Building Number, Morden College, Oxford King Edward St, Oxford

It might be the air of secrecy that lurks about the place. So many colleges and Uni students with their minds full of dreams. So many alleyways and locked doors leading to mysterious rooms. You can hear the odd stream of piano music escaping, a conversation here or there echoing through stairwells or cloisters.

Inside the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford Statues, Oxford
Cloisters, New College, Oxford Alleyway, Oxford

To add to Oxford's charm, we found some fantastic places to eat. We had high tea at the Grand Cafe, which served cream teas on tiered cake stands. For dinner we ate in this Chinese restaurant that was all dark wooden tables, filled with steam from the kitchen and the scent of chilli and rice. It was incredibly atmospheric and the food was great. We stumbled back on the train buzzing from so many cups of Chinese tea and half wishing we'd lived in Oxford for a while.

Lauch, Grand Cafe, Oxford Cream Tea, Grand Cafe, Oxford