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


    You’ve got to throw in some new horizons …

    A not unfamiliar race to the departure gate in Sydney. My fault. Last minute frantic banking. Not a good start.

    An easy 10 hour flight.

    Dropping through the clouds the whole landscape became a sea of Rosalie Gascoigne assemblages. Watery patinated panels of dirty browns and greens, muted turquoise, soft mauves and pinks. Pinks! Camera bag in the overhead. Blink. Snap. Blink. Snap. Commit it to memory. The colours!! The shapes. The meandering channels of water breaking the geometry.

    You can’t keep painting the same landscape, telling the same story.

    You’ve got to throw in some new horizons.

    fields of rosalie gascoigne

    The fuggy moist warmth wraps its arms around you on arrival.

    The chaos of the streets.

    The chaos of colour.

    Oh colour how I have missed you.

    Trains and a taxi to our little hotel on the river. A blind dog barks at our arrival. We are walking through the grounds of a temple. No signage. Dark. Edgy. We have done this to the kids before “What the?” Finally a marker. A clue. An alley.

    Loy La Long.

    Enter The White Room. Smaller than it looked online but spotlessly clean with glossy white wooden floors and welcoming crisp white sheets. A secret door in our loft leads to a verandah overlooking the river, the main artery of the city.


    Towering Sheritans and Hiltons in the distance.

    view from the loylalong hotel

    But I wonder … can you feel the warm breeze on your face you high risers? Can you smell the spices? Can you hear the tinkle of wooden chimes, the river lapping against the shore? The cacophony of boats plying their many and varied trades along the river?

    We are resting with our heads on the chest of Chinatown.

    We are in Bangkok.

    And I can feel her heartbeat.


    This chic little hotel caught my eye the moment I saw their website. It’s so clever. The owner, C, is an ex-copywriter, a young guy who worked for Ogilvy and Mather for 15 years till the day he saw a FOR LEASE sign from the water taxi on his way to work. In a matter of days the deal was done. The leap was made. It’s important to leap every now and then. One of my nieces is stag leaping her way around South America. No fear. I like it.

    loy la long hotel details

    loylalong hotel lounge


    “HE was leaning against the pole of the water taxi, shaded by the canopy but already damp from the morning’s heat. Staring out at nothing in particular, the ramshackle shanties tenuously clinging to life on the water’s edge, the light glaring off the turquoise blue glass of the Sheriton and Hilton in the distance.

    Same same. Every morning.

    But then something caught his eye.

    Amidst the dark rotting timbers, a woman in a white dinner shirt, early 50s maybe, sitting quietly in a shadowy corner of a little hidden hotel. Watching the cacophony of boats plying their trades along the river. She was watching but not watching. She was there but not there. The water taxi sped past. She was gone but he could still see her face. A once beautiful face now written with sadness.”




    “SHE had woken at first light, the sonorous roll of engines on the river a sign that the city was waking up. The family was still asleep so she tiptoed her way over the glossy wooden floors, collected up her camera and watercolours and stepped up to the dark timber deck that all but touched the river.

    A golden hour of light but she did not take up her camera and her sketchbook remained closed.

    She was lost in her own thoughts and a wave of missingness washed over her.

    Thinking about what was and what is.

    Thinking about where she now fits if she fits at all. 

    Staring at the river boats passing left and right she had a fleeting sense that someone was watching her from the water taxi but the figures were blurred – her glasses forgotten in the room – another sharp reminder of her vulnerability.

    She knew she should feel happy. This might be a last family holiday together. Children growing up.

    But there was a knot of sadness in her that she was struggling to understand and untangle.  

    Thinking of what is and what might be.

    Her shoulders dropped, her gaze lowered to the slow brown river below, the water taxi rounded a corner and the river, for a moment, was quiet. 



    We had a mixed up kind of day yesterday which is often the way as you land in a new country and find your feet, not only as a foreigner, but as a family. It takes a few days to peel off the plastic and get used to each other again.

    Two weeks ago I discovered my dormant Graves disease had returned with a vengeance and as much as I would love to follow Carla Coulson’s example and tackle it naturally, I’ve opted for meds as the trip was looming. Still not feeling quite myself. A little foggy and disconnected.


    street food and shopping

    A street masseuse latched on to me in Kho Sahn Road last night, told me I should come back tomorrow and he’d fuck me good, all the time working my neck, working his story. His grand finale was to tilt my head back and blow?/suck? into my nose (I think). Wham! Bam! WTF?! Have felt a little violated ever since as if he’s breathed some of his seedy spirit into me. Gag. Bill Nighy spasm.

    Despite his inviting offer we took our leave and had dinner at Hemlock, recommended by C. Great call. The meal was special. Particularly the starter, Miang Kham. A mixture of freshly grated coconut browned and roasted, peanuts, dried shrimps, finely diced ginger, lime, Thai green chilli and French shallots – all placed on an individual leaf, topped with a spoonful of sweet sauce, wrapped up tight and popped in the mouth. A sensational mixture of flavours.

    miang kham at Hemlock Bangkok








    she said to herself.





    reclining buddha Bangkok


    There are fish jumping at my feet in front of the hotel’s verandah as I write.


    A mattress is floating past.


    Welcome to Asia my friends.


    Sweet crazy dreams.




      Halcyon days

      If you could

      would you have halcyon days roll on forever …

      halycon days

      If they were here and now

      would you surrender to their warmth?

      Cast off the boat

      and float.

      Face up in the turquoise.

      Not a single thought of returning to shore.

      halcyon days 2

      The magic is in the fleeting.

      The fading.

      The rose wash of missingness that time adds to the canvas.

      That bright burst of what was.

      halcyon skies

      And the gentle melancholy


      left wondering …


      will it ever be again?

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          Hi I’m Margaret. I live in Australia.
          I sprinkle creative magic onto businesses
          over at red moon creative.
          When I'm not there, I'm here and now, doing my own creative happy dance – primarily to avoid housework and other
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