Thursday, 21 February 2008

Weekend in the country

Pass through the NSW town of Gloucester, (stopping for provisions at Perenti Cafe), take a very sharp turn off the Bucketts Way, cross the river, and wind up the driveway to one of my favourite places on earth. Set in green rolling hills, my dear friends Jenny and Phil, and their Border Collie, Flute, have made the perfect lifestyle change from manic Sydney to the peace of the countryside. Not always so green, and recently in the grip of a long drought, the past weeks have seen a lot of rain across eastern Australia, and it is a joy to see brimming dams, green pastures and glossy horses and cattle.

Fran and I drove up from Sydney to spend a few days doing what seems to be the most natural thing when in Jenny & Phil's company. Sitting on the wide verandah, taking in the views from all directions, laughing, talking, doing crosswords, eating fabulous food from Jenny's stunning country kitchen, (see the homemade bread with the smoked trout), drinking good wine and spirits, more talking and laughing... I'm sure you get the picture.

The property has cattle on agistment, horses and foals in the next door paddock, and a flock of free range Isa Brown chooks, egg suppliers to the family, and beloved by Flute, who believes her mission in life is to keep them in sight in case they need to be rounded up. That is what Border Collies do best - rounding up.

Jenny, Fran and I took Flute for a walk up the hill behind the house and every direction was a picture postcard view. We were very excited to find some swan plants growing in the paddock, excited because these are the food plant of the wanderer or monarch butterfly, and there were actually caterpillars feeding on the bushes. The swan plant is a noxious weed
so not popular with farmers.

Many years ago I made Jenny and Phil this laced-in guest book and I always enjoy writing in it and reading all the comments made by other very happy visitors.

To live by the beach at Coogee as I do, and to be able to get away to the countryside now and then, seems to me to be to leading something like a charmed life. To have such wonderful friends is one of life's greatest gifts.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

I've been tagged

Yes, I've been tagged by Celia . The tag rules as I understand them are:
1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
2 Post the rules on your blog.
3. Post 7 facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

Seven facts about me:
1. I'm an Australian with a Viennese mother but to my sorrow I never learnt to speak German.
2. I live close to Coogee beach but have also lived in western New South Wales on the black soil plains.
3. I started out as a preschool teacher but then worked for 25 years in the Research Library of the Australian Museum and became impassioned about rare natural history books, natural history illustration, book binding and artist's books.
4. I've travelled a bit (but not as much as I'd like) to Tuvalu and Fiji in the South Pacific, the US, Vienna, Prague & Budapest, and to New Zealand (more times than I can count).
5. I love dogs. And I'm fascinated by wolves, coyotes, dingoes...
6. My family and friends are more important to me than I can say.
7. I have two great kids, a beautiful daughter-in-law and the most wonderful little grand daughter, Sophia, here wearing all her Christmas finery at once.

I've tagged these people whose blogs I read daily. (I didn't tag quirkyartist because she was tagged a few days ago.) There are many others I also read but 7 is the limit so I had to stop. I hope you don't mind being tagged. Until this week I'd never heard of tagging (in relation to blogs) so here I go. Please have a look at these great blogs.

1. Amanda Watson-Will, an Australian installation artist, ceramicist and book artist.
2. Judy Carpenter, a US fibre artist and quilt maker, and owner of Barker, a very handsome poodle.
3. Rhonda, from Canada, a prolific book maker and book artist.
4. Gail Stiffe, an Australian paper and book artist. Gail runs the Women's Art Register.
5. BookGirl is a US book artist and marketing professional.
6. Mary Lee is a US book artist and arts manager.
7. Beth Lee is a US calligrapher and book artist.