I thought I’d strike gold, but I found something better …

The wattle is out.

It can mean only one thing.

It must be late August.

The quintessential Australian sign that winter is nearly over.

A riot of delicate yellow fluff …

A promise of sunny days to come …

I wanted to capture it for you ….

but by the time I’d finished work …

I’d missed that beautiful late afternoon light

I’d missed the yellows ….

…but I found you some blues.

Have a lovely week.

And stay tuned for I have some surprises in store 🙂

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… in which she discovers the gentle art of random weaving and decides that she’s not quite the basket case she thought she was.

It has been a long time since I’ve had that lovely feeling of being lost in the moment…

Completely absorbed in a simple pleasure

… facing only the simplest of choices

… sitting quietly

… engrossed in the gentle art of making something.

But that’s exactly what I was lucky enough to do this week at a random weaving workshop with south coast artist Harriet Goodall.

Throughout the preceeding week the boys (and various friends – yes you know who you are) had been teasing me relentlessly about my forthcoming basket weaving workshop.

There had been plenty of snickers.

Well you can snicker all you like my lovelies…

because what I knew and you didn’t, is that Harriet Goodall is not your average
basket weaver.

I knew a little bit about her through mutual friends who put together this video for Country Style magazine and when I heard that Sophie Hansen at Mandagery Creek Venison had snagged her to do a workshop, I jumped at the opportunity.

What I didn’t realise, is that Sophie has this fabulous background as a magazine editor and now showcases local producers in her own blog Local is Lovely. She is also a beautiful cook and spent the day – ever so quietly in the background – preparing lots of deliciousness for us all to enjoy.

So it was a good recipe for a great day.

Good host, good food, good company, in a pretty location surrounded
by snow covered hills.

But back to our weaving ….

What I love about Harriet’s work is its organic nature.

It’s relaxed and loose.

And in a world full of mass produced plastic and rubbish, the idea of learning how to take pieces of nature and craft them into something functional is very appealing.

And sure enough, as promised, within a few short hours we had all produced our own unique baskets from bits of flotsam on the floor.

I had this vague idea that I might create a woven fairy castle to hide somewhere
in the garden …

A fairy castle with its own deck.

I’m not quite sure what I ended up with.

But I had the most beautiful day, lost in the moment, creating it

… and I think the fairies will still approve.

When her here and now is our here and now

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that our daughter Maddy had been in India on a university textiles tour. Her experience was so special I’ve asked her permission to share some of her photos. So if you’d like to join me …. step this way …

UTS (the University of Technology in Sydney) took 10 second year fashion students
to Delhi for three weeks to see first hand the incredible skills of local artisans.
They experimented with block printing …

and dyeing techniques …

but it was the embroidery that really blew Maddy away.

And it’s easy to see why.

So beautiful.

So exquisite.

Detailed beyond belief.

Every stitch made my hand.

Maybe Madz has a bit of story teller inside her because this was the
embroidery that she chose to focus on.

It’s called Sujani and every work has its own narrative.

It describes all the simple things that make up a day to day life.

A here and now of the very highest order I’d say.

There was time out to do some shopping … how could you take 10 girls away and not!

And some exploring.

An opportunity to see the wonders of India…

And experience first hand its pressing environmental issues.

It’s a bittersweet moment to watch your little girl step out on her own.

It’s what you want.

But you can’t help but want to protect her too.

For us it’s always been a high priority to try and get the kids out into the wider world,
to encourage them to travel at every opportunity.

To realise that they are part of something much bigger…

This time round, it was lovely sitting on the sideline watching her start her own journey.

Who knows where it will take her but one thing was certain.

She was in the best of hands.

Thankyou so much for everything you shared with our girls.

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Happy Hands Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation reviving Indian arts, crafts and culture. The People’s Project is an art studio-cum-residency where rural artists challenge and explore various theories of creativity.

You can buy Happy Hands products online here.

Or follow them on facebook here.

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All photos: Madeleine Hogan 2012

Two old things in a junk shop and a story from Malta

Steve and I have been together for quite a while now and throughout the years, apart from our shared and tragic passion for Survivor, there is another big element in our lives which gives us enormous pleasure.

Second hand junk shops and auctions.

Oh sorry Steve. Did you think I was going to say something else?

It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, if we spy a dusty, overcrowded
treasure house of junk, it’s just a given that we’ll dive in and take a look.

Happily losing ourselves in the moment, searching for our own specific treasures.

Until I hear “Marg Marg Marg!” and the moment’s broken and I’m dragged off
to look at some piece of crap really interesting stuff that Steve has found.

One day I sent him on a mission to buy a cheap second hand microwave from an auction.

He came home with an antique divers helmet.

Only it turned out it wasn’t antique. It was Copper Art. ahhh that still makes me laugh.

More often than not we come out empty handed.

It’s more about the pleasure of looking …

and imagining ….

and admiring old things that were made by hand and made to last.

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Old things that have had a good life … but have still got plenty of life left in them.

A bit like ourselves really.

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Apparently Aaron at Bathurst Mart has been asked to sell this statue of Joseph many times over the years but he told me this lovely story this morning of why he’s hung on to it. He was a little boy in Malta when the Germans were bombing it and his father placed a statue of Joseph on the roof of their home and prayed to it every day to keep them safe.

He has a picture of their house standing tall while everything around it was flattened.

His mum said it was luck.

His dad said it was Joseph.

So just to play it safe, Aaron has his own Joseph looking down from high above his office.

It’s a bit hard to tell whether it’s working 😉

Anyway this was a rambling way to say that one of the nice ways to spend a wintery Saturday morning in Bathurst is to go poking around the many antique and second hand shops we have in town. If you spot a couple of nice old things, make sure you say hello.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever come home with from a second hand store?
One of my favourites is a vintage, French enamelled enema pitcher which I now use to keep all my kitchen implements in  🙂

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Thanks Aaron for letting me wander with the camera this morning. Bathurst Mart is located on the Vale Road (the road to Goulburn) just on the outskirts of town.

We’re up and happening on Pinterest.

I’m still getting my head around the whole social media thing and my jury is still out on it, but for those of you who are into Pinterest, I thought I’d let you know that I’ve set up a site that showcases a lot of the photos that have appeared so far on the blog.

I’m actually really impressed with the Pinterest interface – it’s beautiful to use.

If it is your thing and you’d like to take a look: just click here.

What’s your take on social media?  Do you reckon it’s all it’s cracked up to be?

Marg

It wouldn’t be a farmers market without the farmers. Thanks for coming!

On the 4th Saturday of every month, Bathurst hosts a farmers market in the
grounds of our historic showground.

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I take my hat off to the producers who turn up each month, especially in the depths of winter because the showground is so so so so cold!

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The pavilions were built in the late 1800s

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and while the architecture is superb

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I don’t think they had any notion about passive solar design

back in 1896.

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It is the perfect setting for the markets though

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How can anyone resist these

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or these?

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It’s lovely to turn up and see what’s on offer each month.

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I so admire the fact that people take such pride in what they do

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and that they are rewarded for their efforts.

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I love running into my beautiful colourful friends

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and talking to people who care about the world we live in and the food we eat

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It’s also the perfect excuse to put on your pinkest shoes and wear that pussy cat bag you’ve been itching to wear…

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and to buy the best damned olive oil this side of Liguria.

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Everything is so fresh

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and enticing

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and made with love.

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Until today I’d never really looked closely at the old paintings that decorate the interior walls in the showground pavilions. Does anyone know anything of their history?

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I particularly like the one of the apple pickers behind our new friend Con up top.

I think it might actually snow this weekend. I have nothing to back that up except we’ve just braved the sideline of the rugby field to watch Darcy play and scuttled home to get warm. It’s a snuggle-down-in-front-of-the-heater kind of weekend me thinks. Stay cosy x

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Thanks to all the producers who kindly let me take photos this morning (some of which were duds I’m sorry), including Con & Rose, Stoney Creek Wildflowers, Linda’s Chilli Relish, Ploughman’s Hill Olive Oil (love your work!), Castlereagh Seed Savers, Saltbird Flavoured Salt, Cabonne Country Honey, our local vignerons and Milnes of Mudgee. I wish I could include everyone who makes the effort to come to Bathurst every month but on behalf of the community – thank you.

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.

sigh…

Fast forward three years.

2010.

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 🙂

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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