Category Archives: all things artistic

art, music & other inspiring stuff!

Sculpture in the Vineyards

“Trust me,” I said. “When have I ever given you a bum steer with accommodation?”

“Well there was the night we landed in Damascus at two in the morning … No sheets, no blankets, no lock on the door.”

I conceded that one. It was a shocker. In fairness though, it was the wrong hotel. We found the right one the next day, but not after a lot of nervous giggling and very little sleep. Would that we could wind back time.


But this was different.

Yes, it wasn’t your typical motel. In actual fact The Vine Valley Inn is an old hotel, right in the main street of Cessnock but it has been converted with love and an artistic eye and a funkiness that I couldn’t resist.

“It’s on top of a bloody pet shop,”

“Trust me,” I said.

vine valley inn

And the moment we walked in he was hooked too, chatting away to Simon the owner and enjoying the crazy mix of art and kitsch.

vine valley inn simon and steve

vine valley inn cassock

In the space of a week we’d gone from 35 degrees in Delhi, to six inches of snow in Duckmaloi (in mid October!), to the main street of Cessnock to deliver a sculpture to Sculpture in the Vineyards, an annual sculpture competition and exhibition held at four different vineyards in the beautiful Wollombi Valley about two hours north of Sydney.

Sculpture in the Vineyards 2014

Our friend (and artist) Harrie Fasher, has been encouraging Steve to start putting his work out there so he was very chuffed to be accepted into this year’s exhibition. His piece is on display at the Stonehurst Cellar Door. Thanks Haz x


And I was very chuffed to be able to tag along with camera in hand, especially when I laid eyes on the Stonehurst cellar doors!

Stonehurst Cellar Door

Suddenly India didn’t feel so far away …

Stonehurst Cellar Door

Stonehurst Cellar Door

It’s a really big deal making the leap towards making art, putting yourself out there, opening your work up to criticism.

This week he launched a website: and a Facebook page – with a little help of course ;)

Steve and The Australia Policy

The Australia Policy

And today is his birthday. Happy to you my clever boy. mwah x


Let’s create the ultimate children’s book library … what would be in yours?

Last night I read Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince for the first time.

Some of my friends are in shock that I hadn’t read it before.

I have to say, today, my world feels a little different. A little gentler. A little more peaceful. A little more focused on what really is important. What a gift Saint-Exupery left for the world to enjoy.


It got me thinking. If I was to compile a list of my favourite all time must read children’s books, that is, if I was to create the perfect children’s book library – for my future grandchildren or for those adults who would like to think that if the little prince showed us his Drawing Number One, we would instantly see that it was a boa constrictor digesting an elephant and not a hat – what gems would have to be included.

The Little Prince boa constrictor drawings

From our little family’s experience I would include these …

Madeline. This was my big sister’s copy. I think it dates back to about 1957 and when we had our own Madeleine, Jude sent it our way and it became an obvious favourite. As a child I loved the visuals as much as the story.


A little group of us in 5th class (we would have been about 9 or 10) fell upon Tove Jansson’s series of Moomin books in the school library. Her drawings and stories are pure whimsy at their best. Moomin Summer Madness is still one of my all time favourites.

Moomin Summer Madness

Anything by Alison Lester. Her illustrations and imagination and memories of her own childhood growing up near the beach are gorgeous. I’m thinking Magic Beach, Imagine and The Journey Home in particular.

Alison Lester

Having grown up on the coast and having lived inland for years I can taste the salt water when I read Tim Winton’s Blueback. It’s everything I love about Tim Winton … utterly evocative of the wild Western Australian coastline. A beautiful wordsmith.

“Abel Jackson was ten years old and could never remember a time when found not dive. His mother said he was a diver before he was born; he floated and swam in the warm ocean inside her for nine months so maybe it came naturally.

He had lived by the sea in Longboat Bay his whole life.

Every day was special.

But it all became much more precious the day he first shook hands with old Blueback.” 

Tim Winton's Blueback

And for a little hilarity if you have someone in the family who loves to read out loud with funny voices try Beware of the Storybook Wolves and Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? from awarding winning children’s author, Lauren Child. We’ve had lots of fun with these over the years. Littlies love them.

Lauren Child

They’re the ones that stick in my mind.

Please, add your own to the list. I’d love to know why they’re special to you too.

In the meantime I’m off to tend to my little planet :)



If you washed up on my beach …

little hand made boat

… carrying a heavy load of blue …

a boatload of blue

I would try my best to fill your heart with yellow.

jonquils wrapped in old net

I would offer you a glass of gold dust but would understand if you said no.

cup of yellow

We would have fresh golden eggs delivered by a broken bumble bee who, despite having had a rotten time in Beeland, has managed not to lose his smile.

egg and broken bumble bee cup

I would buy you lemon tarts from Legall’s and next time, just as I am about to take their picture, I would try very hard not to smash them on the floor (that’s the tarts, not the Legalls). Luckily the five second rule applies so let’s just smile and eat them anyway. ooo lah.

LeGall lemon tart

The floor is covered in icing sugar and the air is filled with the scent of wintersweet.

And some of those we love – are struggling.

Carrying boatloads of blue.

This is just a reminder that if you ever need a beach to wash up on … well you know ours is always open … and swimwear is optional ;)

Take care my loves. Look after you and yours. I wish I could turn that boat around and send you a boatload of yellow. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a cup of wintersweet.

winter sweet

And let’s share something a little stronger some time soon. xxxx

Speaking of spreading a little sunshine I just want to send a special thank you to Millie Brown, a very talented Aussie photographer based in France, between Nice and Monaco. Millie blogs at Travel Notecards and last week, after I’d sent a little no-pressure note through, she linked up with Steve’s sister who was traveling in the neighbourhood and gave her a three day insider’s introduction to the Cote d’Azur. There are times when I question what I’m doing with the blog and there are times when it makes my heart smile and this was one of them. Thankyou Millie. If you’re ever in Bathurst … (don’t laugh – you never know!)

If you enjoyed this post I’ve handpicked a couple more for you …

One leaf wanders …

Base notes of garlic …

Don’t judge a garden from your kitchen window …


And if you haven’t discovered Nick Cave’s latest album Push the Sky Away … oh my … I’ve been flogging it for days (thanks Tank). Mermaids I think is my favourite track. The neighbours must be sick to death of it :)