some like it hot

The Elwood balcony harvest was not abundant. Rosemary and basil flourished in the hot weather and assiduous watering and are still hanging in there as the weather cools, although basil is looking slightly peaky. Thyme is on our side, and has made some kind of amazing rallying from death move and is looking good. Alas, life was not kind to the lettuce and the aubergine. The aubergine was afflicted with two kinds of fly: green and white and pyrethrum came too late. The flowers which held so much promise are no more. And as for the lettuce … a couple of good salads and then something ate the rest of my crop. And by something, I don’t mean an insect. I mean something with teeth. Decimated overnight. I’m thinking possum. 



But the chilli plant. That tenacious star of a chilli plant has borne many fruit and spiced up many dish with its fresh kick of heat, better than any store-bought version. At the risk of sounding like a proud parent or one of those people who refer to their pets as fur children, I am very impressed with my little chilli plant. And, alarming as it may well be to take portrait shots of a fruit, well, it really does glow with a light all its own. 

It’s not only me who gives perhaps just a bit too much power to this tiny seeded claw.

“Chili, spice of red Thursday, which is the day of reckoning. Day which invites us to pick up the sack of our existence and shake it inside out. Day of suicide, day of murder.”
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices

Just saying.


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fromage

Cheese in a warehouse. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Well, I’ll admit, it’d be a strange kind of dream that featured an old warehouse in Collingwood and a vast array of cheese, but nonetheless,  for a cheese-lover, it was, indeed, a dream come true.

I have now been to several eatwithme events in Melbourne. In fact, I have just nervously posted my own event and I am waiting to judge myself and my popularity and in fact, my sense of self and my place in the world on whether people want to come along, but I digress… There have been many occasions where the lovely people from eatwithme have created events to bring others together over food. I have to say, cheese is the winner at the end of the day. Tell people to bring cheese and wine and they come in their droves.

Sunday afternoon in a very quiet street in Collingwood, cheesiness abounded. There were a lot of French cheeses, some Italian, a fair representation of Australian cheeses, to my shame, no New Zealand samples and a particularly delicious Welsh blue. Creamy, hard, tangy, pungent. Audible gasps of cheese-eating pleasure.

Délicieux!

12 apostles

Sometimes I can understand why people like to think that teachers have an easy time. All those holidays. Short days. School camps in amazing places. And, as a French teacher, trips to France. I want to add a but to all those things, as teachers do. However, now is not the time, considering I am now on holiday and a week ago I got to spend three days in an incredible part of Victoria.

The Great Ocean Road is an Australian heritage listed stretch of road which runs for 243 kilometres between Torquay and Warrnambool. The road was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932, and is the world’s largest war memorial; dedicated to casualties of World War I.

Of greatest tourist appeal are the limestone stacks dubbed the Twelve Apostles in 1922. The formations were originally known as the Sow and Piglets but it was believed the Twelve Apostles had more of a ring to it, despite there only ever being nine stacks.

 This stretch of coastline is also known as the Shipwreck Coast. There are approximately 638 known shipwrecks along Victoria’s coast,although only around 240 of them have been discovered. The Historic Shipwreck Trail along the Shipwreck Coast and the Discovery Coast shows some of the sites where gales, human error and, in some cases, foul play caused these vessels to be wrecked.

 Loch Ard Gorge is the site of possible one of the more cinematic and romantic shipwrecks. The Loch Ard was wrecked at Mutton Bird island after months at sea from England. The only two survivors of the wreck were Eva Carmichael, who survived by clinging to a spar for five hours, and Thomas (Tom) R. Pearce, an apprentice who clung to the overturned hull of a lifeboat. Tom Pearce came ashore first, then heard Eva’s shouts and went back into the ocean to rescue her.


A magnificent stand of wind towers dots the coastline near Port Fairy. The Codrington Wind Farm was the first, and at the time of construction, largest wind farm in Victoria. The 34 towers, like sentinels of the coastline, generate 54 GWH annually.

They are an impressive sight and, like much in life, beautiful and mesmerising from a distance, slightly more overwhelming and noisy up close.

due diligence

“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” William Kingdon Clifford, 19th Century British mathematician and philosopher.

Free thought. Not being constrained by dogma, be that religious, traditional or general social and political authority. The idea that opinions should only be formed based on scientific evidence and logical principles, and not on blind faith or rules which had been set up and adhered to without question and no longer had any place, if ever they did have. The so-called freethinkers who emerged in the sixteenth century were those who opposed the dogma of the church. This opposition to unflinching paradigms saw an embracing of humanism, human rights, tolerance of others and their viewpoints and would evolve into racial and gender equality.

I had some unformulated, possibly contradictory and yet pressing thoughts when I saw the sticker on the lampost.

Can we ever really have free thought? Can we really form ideas that are not influenced by our cultural milieu, our upbringing, our education, the weight of those that have gone before us? I understand that the free part means that we have been given the green light to do so. To question the validity of opinions, hold them up to the light of logic, make them pass the evidence test. But free is a bold claim, and, if everything has to be looked at askance and made to jump through hoops and tick all the boxes before we will believe it, is that really free? Because what about gut instinct, intuition versus over-thinking? Sometimes we know something, just because we know. Is that whimsical nonsense? Or could there be dogma, free thought and intuition as three different stickers to be stuck on the telegraph pole?

music week

In a completely un-premeditated and in-my-own-private-universe sort of way, the first week of March has become music week for me. Tonight…and I was going to be all coy about this because I know there are music snobs amongst you and then I thought, no, these guys are clever and I am just going to embrace my eclectic music taste…I went to Paul Kelly and Neil Finn at The Palais.

To be honest, I didn’t really know a lot about Paul Kelly before I saw his documentary, Stories of Me, last year. The stories were fascinating and, caught up in the wave of documentary intensity, I bought a ticket to tonight’s concert.

Crowded House, for all the muddied Australian versus New Zealand ownership, are completely land of the long white cloud for me. Summer music. For some reason. Neil Finn was perhaps trying too hard to do some Flight of the Conchords repartee in between songs, but it was kind of endearing and there were a lot of old favourites on the playlist. I liked it.

first days of autumn in elwood

While Summer held on tenaciously, Autumn had nevertheless showed up in the streets of Elwood, bringing with it that indescribable chill behind the warmth, that slight sense of loss and whimsical desire to embrace the colour and cosiness of the new season with a reticence to let go of the old.

We don’t need to let go of the old to walk forward. The heat and saltiness and freedom of Summer will come with us into Autumn. We might not remember it as well during Winter but when Spring rolls around with its promises and reawakening, we will fall into the embrace of Summer as though we had never parted.

a crooked man walked a crooked mile

As prolific as he is poetic, Nick Cave is a legend. His music, a soundtrack to different parts of my life. There he was in person, as energetic and articulate as ever. With the Bad Seeds, members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and a small choir from Gardenvale Primary School, he sang for two hours swinging between frenetic, violent songs to those filled with emotional intensity where the strength and beauty of his voice was palpable.

A sold out concert in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in the Kings Domain in Melbourne means thousands of people. And, as the sky went from blue and cloudless to dusky pink with the lights of the city as a backdrop, the thousands were as one.