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… in which she sneaks away with a dozen oysters and goes in search of a happy ending

Foreword note:  No pictures this week. You’ll thank me in a minute.

Scene 1:  A cold wintery morning in Bathurst. Husband is sad. Could be the winter blues or because he’s got a wife who’s gone blogging mad. We don’t know. He’s just sad. He leaves for work. Gives his wife a sad little grin goodbye and heads off to the farm. Tragic.

Scene 2:  Wife starts pacing the house. Can’t settle to anything. Washes up. Checks her workload. Nothing that can’t wait till tomorrow. Decides to take the day off.

Scene 3:  Wife races in and out of shops buying prosecco, oysters, fresh bread and sweets from the patisserie. Hurriedly stuffs the back of the car full of doonas and pillows. Drives to the farm, music blaring.

Scene 4:  Wife arrives at the farm. Sneaks past husband to the top of the hill. Rings him on mobile.
Wife: “Where are you?”
Husband: “In the hay shed paddock.”
Wife: “Well I’m up in that protected little spot on the top of the hill. Want to join me?”

Scene 5:  Cut to shot of husband flying at breakneck speed across bumpy paddock on tiny ancient tractor.

Scene 6:  Dissolve to shots of clouds and trees swaying in the breeze.

Scene 7:  Cut to shot of husband and wife’s children reading this post, holding their hands to their heads in a shoot-me-now-gun-like pose.

Scene 8:  Two happy souls, snuggled under doonas, talking (really talking) and cloud watching for the first time in years.

Which all leads me to ask this question…

When is the last time you truly surprised someone, let alone surprised yourself?

Try it soon.

Trust me.

I’m feeding you pearls lol.

Postcript:  Back in town later that night we went to a fundraiser for a friend. Steve was asked to draw the raffle. He pulled out a ticket. No takers. Checked his own pocket. It was his! First prize – a dozen bottles of lovely local wine. Huzzahhh!

Pulled out a second ticket. No takers. Checked his pocket. It was his … again!

He was so embarrassed he put it back in and handed the bag to someone else 🙂

The moral of the story:  If you’re looking for a happy ending maybe you’ve got to rewrite the script!

Have a great week x

A tale of friendship that keeps getting lost but keeps getting found

I am elated tonight.

I will tell you why in a moment but before I get to that I need to give you a little background.

As a young 23 year old, I traveled through Europe largely on my own for a few months. At the very tail end of it I headed to Istanbul and was befriended by a young female medical student. I can’t even remember how we met but she took me under her wing, showed me her city, introduced me to her friends and took me to places that I would never have found including a beautiful last hurrah of a day swimming on the Princes Islands.

That night, after a day of salt water and sun, reluctant to let the day end, we stayed on for dinner and she read my future in the remains of a Turkish coffee. In darkness we caught the last ferry back from the islands to Eminonou, the main ferry port of Istanbul, and to this day that ferry ride is etched in my memory and I say to every one I know who goes to Istanbul “If you do nothing else, have dinner on the Asian side and catch a night time ferry back to the old city.” (I’m feeding you pearls here)

If you’re lucky you’ll hear a call to prayer.

A tanker, a wall of darkness on its way to the Black Sea, might slip past you in the night.

But always, that skyline of minarets will be waiting for you and it is truly one of the most beautiful sights in the world.

So that was 1985.

A few postcards in ensuing years.  Then a gap. A very long gap.

Until we made the decision to take the kids overseas in 2007 and visit Turkey.

So I dug out my old address book. And hit Google. And I found my old friend, now a doctor in Adana in the far south of Turkey. But do you think I could find an email address! So I did the next best thing. I sent her boss an email. And explained my story, and said I don’t know if I’ve even got the right girl but would you pass this message on to her.

So she gets a call from her boss. You have to come and see me.

“I’m busy. Can’t it wait?”

“No you will want to hear this.”

So she wanders over and he starts telling her the story … “Once upon a time there was this young Australian girl who met a young Turkish girl….” and well, you know the rest.  So great happiness and disbelief all round at re-finding one another after nearly 20 years!

A month or two later we arrive in Turkey and for one reason or another we miss each other. It just doesn’t work out.


Fast forward three years.


Our daughter Maddy is in Europe, traveling for a few months after finishing high school.

We decide to meet her. In Damascus. (If you want to see a different Syria to the one currently on the night time news you might be interested to read this or this.) But back then, in November 2010 we had the most surprising and joyous two weeks in Syria, eventually tearing ourselves away to head north from Latakia on the coast into Turkey, to Antakya.

To meet my friend.

But emails had gone awry and once again our plans went wrong.

But we made up for it in Adana.

After 25 years there we were, face to face, on her doorstep, welcomed into her home with the most sincere generosity, so typical of middle eastern/Turkish customs.

And she spoilt us. Big time!

As did her brother when we arrived in Istanbul a couple of days later.

And seeing this is going on for ever and you’re probably asleep, I might as well mention that the Haydarpaşa Railway Station (below) had a massive fire four days after we visited it. It’s still standing but the interior was gutted. It’s the main terminal in Istanbul on the Asian side. A stunning building.

After our visit I sent a little package of things from Australia and never heard a word. We had a momentary unsuccessful crossing on skype a few months ago before we lost the connection but other than that … nothing.

And then this niggling feeling started to creep in. After all those years had I been a bit of a disappointment? Was I not what she expected? Did she hate me because I put her cats on the verandah because they kept sitting on my face while I was trying to sleep?

I wasn’t obsessing about it (maybe I was when I read this back) but you know the sorts of thoughts I’m talking about…

Then tonight. There she is on facebook. And then on skype. Well kind of on skype. She can hear and see me but I can’t hear and see her. So I’m sitting here talking and chuckling away to myself while she’s madly sending written replies and questions on facebook. Communication tools obviously aren’t our thing.

The point is, suddenly ALL of those weird feelings and worries washed away. Because there had been emails sent and never received. And that sense of connection was still there and so very real.

And that is why I am elated tonight.

Because I have an old friend in Turkey who’s door and heart is still open.

As is mine if she ever makes it to Australia.

So Gulşah this is for you.

I’ll send you an email and hope that it gets through so that you can enjoy this long, silly celebration of a lost and found friendship.

Our love to you and your family.

I’m so glad I sent that letter to your boss 🙂

And you know what else? Everything you read in that coffee cup came true 🙂


I’d like to take credit for the photos above of the Süleymaniye Mosque but I think
Maddy actually took them.  Actually I think she took most of these. Good job hon x

… a tale of a little lemon tree and has my husband been taking the piss?

It’s been a little while between posts but the last week has been full on.

Between school holidays, son being sick, moving daughter in Sydney, getting her on a plane to India, a busy week of work and now husband in a heap with son’s lurgy, there’s not been a lot of time for anything, let alone creativity.

Added to that, we’re in the depths of a cold Bathurst winter and if you offered me a destination there and now – I’d probably jump at it. Especially if it’s warm and sunny and there are no sick sons or husbands.

But listen, I need your advice…

About a little lemon tree.

Have you ever seen The World’s Fastest Indian? Anthony Hopkins plays New Zullunder Bert Munro who drives his neighbours insane with a variety of misdemeanours including taking a daily pee on his lemon tree – in full view of their kitchen window.

Well I suspect my husband has been taking a leaf out of Bert’s book.

I don’t know whether he’s just taking the piss (explanation here for overseas friends)

but here is my dilemma.

I am now faced with a bumper crop of eight lemons.

Beautiful … yellow … ever so juicy lemons.

Perhaps the juiciest lemons we’ve ever grown.

Just the sort of lemons that would go ever so nicely in an icy gin and tonic.

By God they’re really yellow aren’t they.

I’m at an impasse.

There is only one thing for it.  I shall put on my best hostess voice and …
“Perhaps … I … can ….offer you one?”

Bathurst and a gentle tale of two cycling tragics

Steve and I are not part of the Bathurst lycra brigade. I’ll say that up front. But today we decided to don our helmets and go for a bike ride. Get away from the computer, get out of the house, get out of town.  A little journey into the countryside…

And where else would two eager cyclists go but to our local distillery!

So we pedalled and we walked … and we pedalled … and we walked … and we walked and laughed and pedalled some more … and after 5 kilometres of huffing and puffing we arrived weak and weary and ready for a shot (or 5) of fortification.

Now I don’t know whether it was from watching the rather dishy Ewan McGregor in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen during the week but there was something rather lovely
about being greeted by fellow Scot and resident distiller Ian Glen.

It might have been the first wee nip of finger lime infused vodka or the second wee nip
of dry gin infused with five Australian native botanicals (finger lime, lemon myrtle, river mint, wattle seed and iron bark)…but let’s just say we had a lovely warm glow.

As did everything around us.

Of course it could have been the recent rush of oxygen too.

And when I say wee nips, I do mean wee. I wouldn’t like you to think that Ian was plying us with alcohol but we did enjoy the wild lime limoncello, and the apple schnapps and the grappa, oh and the choca-mocha cream liqueur.

The lovely thing about all Ian and Bev’s products is that they’re sourced from local suppliers and I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me four years to visit this extraordinary addition to our town.

And I’m even more embarrassed by the astonishing lack of fitness we displayed today, especially on the long journey home, all five kilometres of it.

Even the sheep were embarrassed 🙂

Stone Pine Distillery is literally five minutes drive from the centre of Bathurst – considerably longer if you are unfit and on a bike.



Is it wrong to have two butchers? The confession.

Because I do. I’ve got two favourite butchers in Bathurst so I need to play this one ve-ry carefully. The last thing I want to do is upset one. Both my butchers are old school butchers, you know the ones who have little corner shops that have been there for ever. They’re a dwindling breed and I’d be devastated if my guys closed up shop.

So I drive out of my way to support them. And this is why. I needed some lamb shanks…and as Butch is my lamb and beef guy as opposed to Jim who’s m’ pork and osso bucco man, I head to Butch’s. And this is why I love Butch. Because I come home with this…

and this…

And as I’m standing at my bench, making my soup, looking at all this beautiful luscious redness beside me I’m thinking… I have to share this. So this is for you xx

Can I also point out that neither Butch nor Jim look anything like the “Personal Butcher” above. If anyone has one of those I could be tempted to defect. Nah…I’m just messing with you boys.

Butch: South Bathurst Butcher, Cnr Rocket & Havannah Streets, Bathurst
Jim: Little Acres, Cnr Lambert & Stewart Streets, Bathurst.