Archive for December, 2009

29 December, 2009

So this is the new decade…

The food has been eaten, the wine has been drunk, the Ferrero Rochers inhaled, the presents opened. As the tinsel and carols recede into the distance and the Christmas tree suddenly looks inappropriate and forlorn, the New Year shuffles into view, champagne in hand, top hat rakishly askew, his ebony cane tucked under his arm, his monocled eye winking, his coattails and black and white wingtips gleaming in the spotlight.

Time to update my Filofax and wonder with mild bemusement as to where the last year fled.

It’s been a year of big changes and (if I can betray my vocation) of strategic positioning for the long-term. And (fingers crossed) it looks to have paid off so far. The real world and its challenges beckon in 2010 and I’m looking forward to meeting both with relish, grace and not a little aplomb!

Happy New Year!

Some pics from the weekend’s feasting.

28 December, 2009

On Tea

27 December, 2009

A Spring Wedding

One fine spring day, in an old Victorian manor situated in one of Melbourne’s genteel suburbs, a cousin of mine confounded family and a goodly portion of his friends’ expectations of eternal bachelorhod by tying the knot. There was food and frocks, flowers and plenty of family… and stunning interiors to wander about in.

The kebaya, a traditional Malay style of dress.

The bridal suite.

After canapés and drinks, after three courses of roast pork belly, steak and créme brulée, after a piece each of the two different wedding cakes, after the coffee and tea, last – but not least – came these beautiful little chocolates.  Needless to say, there was a lot of chocolate-admiring and very little chocolate-tasting.

Olly gathers treasure!  (rose petals)

A lace window shade.

23 December, 2009

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Except it’s not really. In this topsy-turvy upside down land of Oz, it’s a blazing 37 degrees celsius outside. In the blue, blue, cornflower blue sky, the merciless sun is beating down. The leaves stir in the breeze, which is not refreshing or cool, but hot, blowing in as it is from somewhere up north. Australia’s desert centre, perhaps. An occasional magpie caws tiredly in the heat.  When you step outside, careful not to let in the somnolent blowflies buzzing by the door, ready to zip into the air-conditioned coolness of your home at any given chance, you walk smack bang into a hefty, solid wall of superheated air.  And the mail, retrieved from the letterbox, is warm in your hand.

Melbourne’s weather had fooled me into thinking I was on one long, idyllic summer holiday – one which, I admit, was unlikely to happen in England (apart from the sizzling August and September of 2003). Friends in England sent through wonderful pictures of snowy London and public transport thrown into chaos. One wrote, complaining about being stuck in Paris because of Eurostar problems and worrying that he wouldn’t be able to get back to London in time to leave for Cuba (my heart bleeds, Josh)… now that’s a Yule lead up I can relate too!

But two days ago, I woke up with a start. It was Christmas, despite the heat and sun! And it had sneakily crept up on me! Time to get stuck into some mince pies! Time to join the frantic hordes thronging the shopping centres and share in the spirit of rampant consumerism! (Note: joining the throng in this season takes some time – you’ve got to find parking first!).

Then, it was present-wrapping time. Which I’ve always enjoyed. This year, it was helped along by a cuppa, a mince pie and liberal lashings of Phil Spector and Elvis Presley’s Christmas albums, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas (Is You), Bing Crosby’s Here Comes Santa Claus and El Vez’s rockin’ version of Feliz Navidad. It’s Noel and if you’re not embracing the cheese – inappropriate exterior house lighting, tinsel, loud wintry-themed knitted reindeer jumpers etc. – you’re just not embracing the festive spirit.

Thankfully, the Australian weather means we can avoid the ridiculous jumper and there are always the more sombre warblings of Sufjan Steven’s Christmas album, Tom Waits’ Christmas Card from a Hooker from Minneapolis, Low’s rather magnificent Just Like Christmas and the Walkmen’s No Christmas While I’m Talking to balance the kitsch.

And so I wish you a lovely Christmas with friends and family, whether you’ll be cosying up by the fireplace, or enjoying the sunshine outside.

I’m off for a swim.

20 December, 2009

Je m’appelle N.

She’s fourteen, she’s from Hanoi and she shoots these magical, nostalgic, melancholy photos, redolent of humid, tropical rainy days, Wong Kar Wai’s Days of Being Wild and the smell of fresh papaya.

See her photostream here.

17 December, 2009

Sunday Girl

Sundays are for gardens. And for traipsing down garden paths. And tea (in this case, organic chai; I occasionally stray into right-on, hipster territory). And yummy things to eat (a Chinese sesame-sprinkled doughnut and a home-made Greek almond crescent this time). And sunshine. And reading (Françoise Gilot’s account of her Life with Picasso). And revelling in the cool green grass beneath one’s feet.

10 December, 2009

(It is Time for) Stormy Weather

A Londoner learns to live with moisture, or the prospect of it, constantly.  If it isn’t rain falling all at once in a downpour, accompanied by gusty winds that leave broken umbrellas strewn across the streets of the city, it is a mist of fine droplets, seeming to hang in the air, coating your outerwear in successive layers as you go about your business, until you realise, suddenly, that you are drenched.  Umbrellas provide no protection against this wet mist which is, as I like to say, capable of penetrating to your socks.

Melbourne weather is not as crafty.  The grey clouds blow in.  It rains.  It squalls.  You get wet.  The grey clouds drift on.  Shafts of sunlight break through. And the ducks come out to play.

The ducks take flight…

…and swim away.

7 December, 2009

My dearest Finchy!

My first attempt at a pop-up card was for a friend’s thirtieth birthday.  And it was criminally delayed in execution, posting and receipt.  Still, I was banking on the doe-eyed, long-lashed mammoth (thanks, Belle & Boo!) to smooth things over.  As it was, it was the fawn which made her go ‘awwww!’.

Thanks, Finchy, and happy belated birthday again!

3 December, 2009

‘dignified but flippant’

Which is how Allen Lane‘s secretary described a certain Antarctic-dwelling flightless bird, adding that it would be an appropriate name for a company.

And so an iconic brand was born.

Penguin’s unwavering commitment to book design has deliciously manifested itself in the hardback clothbound releases of classics by Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and others. Designed by the fabulously named Coralie Bickford-Smith, these books dazzle, sparkle and enchant with their Arts and Craft and Art Nouveau references, candy-like colours and shimmering motifs.

Well, they did me, anyway.

Beautifying bookshops everywhere and, if Santa is kind, my own bookshelf very soon!

Photos of book spines courtesy of inpenguin.

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