I hope they never repaint this wall in Five Ways
Hot sultry nights work in the Inner East of Sydney. Even though most of the terrace houses have been done up now- there’s still a bit of ramshackle charm; some peeling paint behind the wrought iron balconies, a few palms in the backyards. The growth spurt that often happens in February means that vines get out of control, and the air is fragrant with frangipani, especially in the tropical rain.
old apartment in Darlinghurst
at Chester White
Buffalo Dining Club and Chester White, two relatively new bar/restaurants both designed by Diane Fernandes are an exercise in how to create an atmosphere that best reflects the area – wonderful vintage style signage, peeling paint textures and exposed brick, casual light fittings with clean modern lines.
an incongruous picket fence
barista at Chester White
looking out to Kings Cross
pickles on fireplace
wonderful use of a mirror to enhance a space
upstairs at Buffalo Dining Club
I think the key to living in Sydney is to seek out the spots where there is a connection to water. And there is so much of it, such choice.
The surf beaches are proven classics, but the harbour contains secrets- little beaches and coves nestled in parks. They feel less commercial, less about signs and shops – calmer. The occasional glimpses of the Harbour Bridge the only reminder you are in a city.
looking back at Nielson from the headland
one of the textures of Sydney- rough hewn sandstone
Nielson Park is one of the most magical. It could be the setting for a performance of “A Midsummer’s Nights Dream”– the audience following the actors round through the park, up the sandstone stairs, onto the moonlit beach. There’s light and dark here- beauty and strangeness.
a peak of the Harbour Bridge
like from a Cambodian temple
The kiosk is from 1915 and is of the style with the bulky title of Queen Anne Federation. I prefer to think of it as “Story book” architecture- it has a quaintness and whimsy that could accommodate talking rabbits… Only recently I realised there was a tunnel from the beach to some sunken dressing rooms, built in the same era.
dreamy … the Nielson Park Kiosk
posts of the shark net
The old name for Nielson was ‘Shark Beach’- and there is a shark net that contains the swimming area. More darkness in the prettiness.
the barrier between sharks and humans
During the weekends it gets very crowded- groups having BBQs, games on the beach – full of life going on. But it is at dusk and dawn that Neilson slips back into its ethereal magic – just waiting for the night curtain to rise…
Happy Christmas – Peace & Joy.
The kangaroos add a wild element to the atmosphere of the old schoolmasters house. They usually congregate just over the back fence at the end of day, a mob of about fifty. Eating the grass, peaceably. Often a couple of young bucks boxing. Mothers with their joeys. It’s a complete world & society.
They are compelling to watch. Not sure where else in the world – perhaps in Africa, you would get such large wild animals this close to a small village. It can feel like being in a zoo enclosure with a wrap around view. They are strange and unusual creatures – completely unlike other animals. The tiny little arms. The small joey heads poking out of their mothers’ pouches. The boing boing movement so fast and powerful. And yet somehow the final result is wonderful – they are creatures of grace, not comedy.
A recent theory holds that human beings are herd animals. A herd being defined as more than five. In an era of relatively fewer family groups of this number, perhaps this is one reason why it’s fascinating and somehow satisfying to watch a herd of animals interact.
Out on a walk you can surprise a few in the bush. There’s a low humph humphing sound I’ve come to associate with them. There is interaction – basically an intense stare and forward rotating ears, often accompanied by a total freeze of posture. Suddenly, like a schoolyard game, there is a whole field of kangaroo statues. The inspiration for concrete garden ornaments becomes clear.
When they’re not there, absent to some other kangaroo grazing land- I miss them. They turn the sunset landscape into a magical world. Creatures from the Dreaming.
Making some garlands for my house out of silver foil; slowly, listening to fascinating Conversations podcasts. Always with craft I find that in the act of occupying the hands, the mind opens up and is extremely receptive to story telling & entering different worlds.
Rustic bench at the English Cottages
distant blue hills
On a break – a visit to some friends; Bill & Genevieve who run the Hill End Press. They live and work in the historic English Cottages and there is something a little other worldly about this collections of small buildings, studio and garden. A bit Alice in Wonderland. The photos should really have the soft light of dusk heading to twilight, not the burning midday sun.
home of the Hill End Press
riot of red roses
Roses run wild here, as tall as the buildings, almost covering them. A reminder that the red rose is a classic not a cliche. Away from the corny single plastic wrapped rose of supper clubs it is a strong and beautiful thing- I want to plant more in my garden.
Genevieve’s garden has an English bent but is also inspired by the plantings of Piet Oudolf with unexpected combinations like dark fennel with heritage irises. Her evergreen shrubs are clipped into sculptural rounded balls. It’s overgrown and charming with winding paths opening onto a green field with a yellow boat in the distance under the trees. If you drifted off to sleep here under the rose bushes, you could well be awakened by a late & impatient white rabbit…
The haze from the bush fires in the air. The land is burning in the Blue Mountains over 2 hours away and the disaster is present on the news and in the air. Close yet far.
Meanwhile I pick the beautiful roses from the garden – life goes on.
smoky haze on the track
the naturalist desk covered in flowers
There are four different types gathered now on the naturalist desk:soft pink roses foraged from a country lane & from the old schoolmasters garden – rosa rugosa, a rambling rose & a lovely golden pink one. All beauties; the scent, the colours unlike anything you can purchase from a city florists.
So beautiful to have around the house, brightening dark corners. A feeling of abundance. Now I get interested in what to do next. How to dry them, make pot potpourrie, sachets, rosewater. At a Lifeline book sale in the nearby country town, I find a book which holds the secrets…
Irises & roses
Spring in the garden of the old schoolmasters house. Many surprises have pushed their way up through the hard clay ground. Buds and blossoms and small unripened fruit are everywhere. The earth seems to be telling of the potential of the seasons to come.
blue buttons on the path
the echium has landed
Not even two years ago I planted an echium called “Cobalt Towers” , from a tiny little pot- a plant you could fit into the palm of your hand. Last year it got huge and shot up a beautiful blue spire the bees loved. This year it has gone further…. there are now close to fifty spires, and it is higher still. There is a strong life force emanating from it- the constant sound of bees, little shy birds hovering and drinking its nectar.
looking up to the gravel garden
It’s such a beautiful process to bring in cut flowers from the garden. The combinations of flowers dictated by the seasons. They always seem to have a random lusciousness. A reward for all those many hours spent weeding and watering…
blossoms in the bedroom
at Cafe Hernandez
Recently on Pinterest I started a board called Cafes to Linger In
. I look for pictures of relaxed, informal spaces. Ones that are welcoming and cosy. Places to unwind, have some time out. A communal space apart from work and home.
a corner in Cafe Hernandez
the distinctive red awning of Cafe Hernandez
Spending a morning in Elizabeth Bay I come across a few cafes to linger in: old favourites and new discoveries. Cafe Hernandez is one of the original bohemian cafes of Sydney. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week, the chances are high you will see a taxi driver taking coffee here. The atmosphere is European with the original oil paintings, the piano in the corner & the copper coffee roasting machine out the back. If there was a pictorial map of Kings Cross, Cafe Hernandez would be featured on it. Meeting there always has the feeling of a rendezvous.
Coffee Tea and Me
Further up in Potts Point there’s the cute as a button Coffee Tea and Me- so tiny, yet so welcoming with its timber cladding & patterned yellow curtains spilling onto the ground. It has a couple of stools made from stacks of magazines and a cushion where you can watch all the sailors streaming down the hill to the naval base. Just round the corner is Gypsy Espresso, one of the best simple lunch spots in Sydney.
at the Bird and Bear Boathouse
Down on the water on the marina in Elizabeth Bay park is the Bird and Bear Boathouse cafe. First time here, and there’s a freshness to it. A place I’d bring visitors to Sydney straight off the plane, so they could have jetlagged lunch among the boats – looking out to the little islands on the harbour and adjusting to the brighter light. When waterfront cafes work – they can make you feel like you’re on holidays…
my art wall
This week making a spice rack, inspired by a magnificent magnetic one I’d seen in the kitchen of Indira Naidoo of the blog The Saucy Onion
. Not your standard, vaguely 80′s looking pine spice rack, Indira’s creation was a magnetic whiteboard with adorned with little round tins of various spices. Her installation claimed an important role for spices in the kitchen: suddenly they were front and centre, the colourful pots like art supplies to be played with.
star anise, bay leaves & cloves
So off to recreate it; firstly the magnetic tins in packs of three found at Ikea. The sheet of metal harder- not something you can find in an ordinary hardware store, it became a trip to a specialist metal cutter, sourcing an off cut of the right dimensions. Perhaps the smallest sale this company had ever made. The final touch a dymo labeller from an office supply company- for washable plastic printed labels.
flannel flowers in season
After it has been attached to the wall with strong double sided tape, the pots snapped on – the fragrant scent of the spices lingers in the air & the kitchen seems changed. Although primarily a practical measure, the spice rack brings a sense of fun and potential. It holds the promise of luscious spice filled meals. I love design that celebrate the ordinary rituals of daily life – beautiful utilitarianism.
the finished spice rack