seals, ghost towns, cows, kangaroos & trolls

first sight


I celebrated my 46th birthday last week.  Oh my goodness – 46 seems to be a lot of years and as I made our bed that morning, I felt a little worried that I was probably half way through my life and there is still so much I need to do and share.

Made me think of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development … I remember laughing when I studied the Generativity vs. Stagnation stage, thinking “oh I’ll never feel fretful that I’m running out of my precious time and that I might not have used it as wisely as I could!” Ah the confidence of youth! And yet here I am, fretting away.

Perhaps it is important to feel a little worried – it will provide me with that extra push to make the most of what I have, find plenty to enjoy, seek opportunities to share and give to my community … and realise that even if I may not be here to stand in the shade of a beautiful avenue of strong tall oaks, someone else will be utterly delighted that I used my time and energy so well.

But back to the birthday … it was celebrated with adventure!  As you know, I do love turning down the road less travelled and there was an old gold mining village I was especially excited to explore, so off we set.

First north to Narooma – we wanted to show Julian the bar and rock wall – such wonderful views of the striking rocky coastline and exquisitely coloured ocean.  And there were seals!  We were all excited about seeing one gliding through the water … then, as we rounded a corner, there were so many more lazing about on the sunwarmed rocks.

Such wonderful animals – so utterly unconcerned with us – even with Julian who continued to clamber further and further down the rocks to get the best photo.  So sleek.  So shiny.  So totally absorbed in their own comfort.  Must be a good life.

posing seal




beautiful rocks

Then, after a quick lunch, we headed into the mountains to find Nerrigundah – a 19th century gold mining village that different sources claim had a population from 1200 to 7000 – named after the local Aboriginal word for “where edible berries grow”.

History says there were hotels and boarding houses, a post office and police station, a foundry, churches, even a Joss House for the many Chinese workers, and by the 1920s the little town was well known for its tennis team and marvellous dance hall – apparently the condition of its wooden floor was unparalleled.  I was sure it was going to be a marvellous adventure.

It’s most remembered now for it’s association with a marauding gang of bushrangers who attacked the town one afternoon in April 1866, knowing that the police commander was away and the remaining trooper unwell in bed with cholera.

However, that trooper – Miles O’Grady – was a brave soul and he leapt from his sickbed and took on those bushrangers.  Trooper O’Grady was shot and killed – as were some bushrangers – the ringleaders later captured and hanged in Sydney. But the people of Nerrigundah and the government of NSW were so grateful for his service they erected a memorial to him in the village centre which still stands today.

road to not much

Alas, this memorial is pretty much all that still stands in what was once a busy and well populated valley.  We drove through the rural hinterland of Bodalla,  up a steep and windy mountain range, then onto a rough and rocky track and back down through a heavily forested and even more diabolical series of sharp corners and steep drops.  The first route we took was closed because of a washed out bridge.  So back up and back down we went until we finally found Nerrigundah.

According to the GPS, the whole area was a neat grid of named roads – in reality most of these roads have long been eroded away by long grass and trees and we only spotted one street sign.  There were a couple of much more recently built private homes – including a fabulous permaculture establishment – a small wooden house which photos suggest was once the post office and a church that I daresay will have fallen off its stumps and rotted away to nothing before the decade is out … and of course the memorial.  But everything else was gone.

It was quite eerie.  We were so close to the serene coast with its numerous small towns and thriving farming communities, but down in this valley – completely still and hot, with smothering humidity and the whirring of insects, it was as if we had stumbled into a different world.  One where we were lost and cut off from all that we knew.

Reminded me of that book a few years back – about a young couple that married, then set off west to find the promised land and build their homestead and they walked for weeks, suffered terrible hardships for many years, and after all that the woman discovers her husband had walked her in circles and they were only over the mountain from her family.  Did you read that book?  It infuriated me!

Well that’s what Nerrigundah felt like  :-) and for the historian in me, it was so disappointing to find there was so little left of what once was.

Julian reckons it’s the termites.  We have FEROCIOUS termites here in Australia and he could see holes in the ground where building stumps and fence posts had been and guesses that as the gold dried up and people moved on, the termites just munched their way through everything.

drove all the way

mum and noag

abandoned church


rock sculpture

We headed back east – back through the loveliest farm I have ever seen.  Oh how I dream that our little farm will one day look like this.

Their fences were immaculate (I am obsessed with fencing), they had a proper old style Australian windmill (they are SOOOOO expensive), rows and rows of beautifully aligned deciduous trees – and not just one species but prettily arranged so that smaller trees with different coloured and shaped leaves made patterns amongst the tall stately ones.

I mean, check out that rose twined wooden gate.  That kind of prettiness is just unheard of on a working Australian farm!  I was swooning :-)
we can only drem

beautiful trees

rosy fence

shady cows

nice fences

Their cows were pretty nice too – I’d like some of them as well!  It refired our imaginations and made us plan even more for our little Wombat Hill!

oh the trees

Then, because Nerrigundah had been a bit of a fizzer, we decided to check out another village whose name tickled Noah’s and my fancy – Potato Point.


wild sea


Truly gorgeous coastline but not much else at Potato Point.  Oh except for the kangaroos – there were wonderful kangaroos that were so tame they just sat there and watched us.
troll bridge

Oh and there was a troll bridge!  So funny – made us all laugh – first time we’ve ever seen a troll bridge in real life.  Noah had a wonderful book when he was little “The Toll Bridge Troll” that we loved reading – the artwork is so lovely and the ending such a delight.

I feel sorry for the troll.  She’s lived under the bridge for so long that she’s angry, bitter and judgemental.  There’s so much beauty and joy to be found in the world that lies above her – a world filled with good and generosity and so many opportunities to seek happiness and share in delight.

Even better, it’s filled with a huge rainbow of people who make a point of looking for this goodness and celebrating the adventures that lay before all of them.

But all the troll can see is the ugliness that in fact oozes out of her own pores.   She is blinded by her own spiteful choices and her shrill, vicious voice tries so hard to drown out the happiness of those who cross her path.   But it never will.  It never ever has and it never ever will.  We folks who choose life and love will keep dancing across that bridge for ever more.

Good will always win out over ugliness and hate. The troll is doomed to squat there in the stinky mud, missing out on the sun and the fresh breeze and the laughter of those who are making the most of life – and more importantly, making sure that they contribute to the lives of those around them in a generous and positive way.

And secretly she knows, this troll  – in the wee small hours of the morning – that she is the one who behaves so badly, and it is her life that is lacking, not those that she screams at.

Yep, the troll is the one that has it tough.  Poor troll.  And this bridge was very low and noisy – the troll must have a permanent and painful crick in her neck, her ears ringing from all that cheerful noise above her.
and another

Finally it was home to birthday cake – mum made my favourite Nigella Lawson cake – Chocolate Gingerbread with Lemon Icing.  And I had found these dear little candle holders when we were packing – which I had bought at an opshop so many years ago and never ever used because I could never ever find them.  Well now they live in a little Bonne Maman jar on the pantry shelf waiting for our celebrations.

sweet little holders

birthday cake

It was a lovely, adventurous birthday indeed.  With my lovely Julian, delightful Noah and dear Mum by my side.

Oh 46 – you’re not so bad after all.


the night max wore his wolf suit …

big hairy feet sneaky eyes

Whatever is hiding amongst the oleander?  Oh! It’s a Wild Thing!

wild thing

Julian’s Wild Thing!  I gave it to him for his 22nd birthday – the first birthday we celebrated together. He had a copy of Where the Wild Things Are when I met him – sitting there amongst the computer programming tomes and science fiction novels.  It was his favouritest book as a little boy.  I knew it from my childhood as well – but I must confess, I had been scared of it.  So when I spied this fabulously fierce little fellow at the University Bookstore, I just knew upon whose bookshelf it would feel right at home.

closeup of wild thing

A few years later, one of my wee cousins, Alastair, came for a sleepover.  He stomped up the stairs to our flat, pleased as punch to be so grown up as to have a sleepover all by himself, and whilst his mum and I had a cup of tea, he had a little explore.  After peering into our bedroom, he ran straight back over to his mum and whispered tremulously in her ear “Mum!  There’s a Wild Thing in there!”  It was so sweet/funny – and formal introductions had to be made before Alastair could be convinced it was indeed safe to stay.

cards scattered wild thing cheating

Wild Things have been a firm favourite in Bootville ever since.  Julian’s copy of the book became very battered as it was read over and over and over to Abby – by the time she was 3, both she and I could recite the whole book off by heart!  We made a copy of the audio book, borrowed from the library, and that was played on Abby’s little tape recorder until it literally wore out.  And there’s been many games of Wild Rumpus enjoyed at the kitchen table – always accompanied by lots of shrieks and the frantic slapping down of cards.

with abby reading

When the film version came out a few years back, just before we left for Melbourne, Abby took along 5 of her lovely friends from primary school to see it for her birthday.  Oh how we all loved it.  I do think Spike Jonze did a brilliant job – no, it wasn’t an immaculate translation of the book, frame by frame, but as an interpretation it was outstanding.  Exquisitely and imaginatively filmed with such a real and touching story.  As for the soundtrack – oh I went out and bought a copy the very next day.  We used to drive around Brisbane with all the windows down, the breeze rushing in at our faces, singing along to the second track at the top of our lungs.  Even now, I only need to slip it on and that beautifully haunting, childlike music transports me.

favourite on the chair

Needless to say, when I visited Spotlight a few days before Julian’s birthday this year, and there were bolts of Wild Things fabric lined up at the counter … well, all previous birthday present plans went out the window and I made him a Wild Things quilt instead.

binding red and orange arm

I bought the red, yellow, lilac, purple and black contrasting plains at the same time, went home, sliced them up into squares with thin black strips for borders, then spent a whole afternoon puzzling over just how it was supposed to go together.  I finally settled upon this layout a) because I felt it was the most striking whilst allowing Maurice Sendak’s beautiful illustrations to shine, and b) ’cause it reminded me of strips of film – a film of the Wild Thing playing through our lives in all its incarnations.  Then I had to take Abby back to the shop with me to choose the perfect green for the border – an adventure set deep in the forest.  I have a tendency to choose very olivey greens – none of which looked right – thankfully, she knew just the appley green it needed.

I pieced it frantically over the weekend before his birthday and had it a-l-m-o-s-t quilted in time for the birthday breakfast.  Backed with a beautiful vintage blanket and quilted with my scribbly-wibbly lines.  And the binding – Julian’s idea – he wanted something with all the colours in it.

blanket looking down

The birthday boy loved it!  For the first few weeks, it graced our bed.  There is something very endearing about coming to bed late, after knitting into the wee hours, or working on an essay, to find my husband, snuggled up under his Wild Things quilt.  Especially since Julian doesn’t have any mementos from his childhood.

on the fence post touseldBut now that the cooler weather is here, he’s brought it out into the living room where he sits with it warmly tucked around his lap each eve (we’re having our second winter without heating – saved a fortune last year!).  

I adore that our quilts are shared and loved and dragged around the house, out into the car, on picnics, taken on school camps, piled up on sleepovers, squished up into balls, spread out onto the grass, cuddled into by doggles, and quietly retreated under when an afternoon nap is needed.

As for a Wild Things quilt – well it’s sure to stand the test of time.

loveliness found ~ 9/52

~ my mummy coming to visit – with an icebox full of pouring cream! ~

~ the soda stream – Julian’s Christmas present – adored by the whole family
– soda water on tap is just the best ~

~ following Alicia’s advice to try this technique – and loving it so much
we’re on to our third loaf for the week ~

~ a new to us, gorgeous vintage chess set … enticing us to plonk down
at the kitchen table and share yet another game ~

~ knitting, knitting and more knitting – yum! yum! yum!
hoping to reach the owls by the end of the week ~

~ the sweetest daughter – sharing her time and talents ~

~ family … learning / fun / exploring / teaching
… the perfect back garden Sunday ~

~ my wonky – but fabulously fun! – first attempt ~

~ her extraordinary, first time marvel – oh my! ~

~ another birthday – 43! – and the candles are no longer lit because of
the huge chunk of long, streaked-with-grey hair that caught fire
whilst the birthday girl (moron) leaned across the birthday wreath
to blow out her candles – ahem! – age would appear to be dulling her brain ~

p.s. there are no photos of the fiery spectacle – Abby and Mum were too busy gasping with horror whilst Julian was grabbing the dog quilt with which to smother me.  I, however, upon seeing the flames out of the corner of my eye, simply clapped my hands over and over the flames, putting most of them out, whilst turning to the sink where I doused the remaining singed bits in water … the stinky burnt mess fell into the sink and Abby trimmed up the remaining hair with the dressmaking scissors.
An almost fitting end to the week.


loveliness found

~ the little girls discovered the thrill of making their own music ~

~ Jules celebrated his birthday … with cherry cocktails and a kitchen supper ~

~ a quilt design was tinkered with, fabrics were foraged from the stash (there’s a newly thrifted lampshade needing dressing), and an ever-so-sweet layer cake arrived ~

~ the ancient hills hoist clothesline fell down – completely rusted – one of us cheered, the other (being she who hangs out the bedding) pursed her lips ~

~ the big girlie devoted her afternoon to helping the little girlies with their maths’ project – the kitchen was buzzing with excitement and creativity ~

~ in return, the big girlie and her grateful mama spent the following hot and steamy afternoon savouring gelati and soaking up the air conditioning of our local Readings ~

~ Heidi grew and grew and grew  …  a wee felted heart was stitched for her and slipped inside for extra love ~

~ summer’s last Sunday barbeque was relished …

~ as was the return of tablecloth week! (one week off, as per Julian’s preference;
one week on, as per Lily’s preference ;-) ~

~ a favourite magazine was enjoyed after dinner
– two pages per watering can refill ~

~ & I felt so lucky to be watering the herbs and spinach by moonlight,
or I’d have completely missed this beautiful sight ~

What loveliness did you find this week?  Share your delights in the comments or leave us a link so that we may follow the path to your place :-)