Thursday, 30 August 2007

the market new & old wares

What came first, as the old saying goes, the chicken or the egg? I've always loved decorating and interiors. I remember restoring an old low boy when I was in my late teens, the whole works: sanding it back, re-varnishing, adding new handles and lining the drawers with wallpaper. Now I write about interiors via Real Living and am constantly being inspired by beautiful images and homes from around the world. And I'm also on the lookout for great pieces and projects for my place. So I guess the egg came first with me - I've always loved decorating. And I love fittings and furnishings with character - kind of like a good book. One of my favourite shops is The Market in Jacques Avenue, Bondi. It's got such an odd assortment of pieces and is wonderfully ecclectic: you never quite know what you're going to find. Like the typewriter in the last picture. I might just have to rush off and buy that this weekend. A manually typed manuscript: that's something I could get excited about.

Photos courtesy of Keziah Gray (Real Living's stylist).

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

a room of one's own

Virginia Woolf famously wrote that women should have a room of their own. So here is my room - well, one corner of it. (And, yes D, I have kind of taken it over.) This is where I write my novel, and stare out the window watching birds nibble at the bottle brush tree. The desk is in the "Caper" room - you'll know what I'm talking about if you've got the latest issue of Real Living, which features my flat. The October issue also has the Sydney/Melbourne travel diary I wrote recently.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

writers' rooms

Writing is such a solitary profession that it's always fascinating to get any sort of insight into the process. Learning about how writers work - from 7am to lunchtime, for example, or by longhand - is something I devour. I think it's because I still, after all these years, haven't settled on a routine that works well for me. Generally, I try to get up at 5.30am and run or walk then write from 6.30am to 7.45am and then get ready for work. At the moment I'm experimenting with writing on the bus. My success rate is a bit hit and miss, though. I also love seeing images of writers' rooms. The photo above is from a feature posted on The Guardian website. This room belongs to Colm Toibin, who wrote The Master - a fiction novel based on the life of Henry James. (I've just recently read the short but enjoyable Daisy Miller.) There are so many rooms to see in this feature and I love that this room has books from floor to ceiling. It's quite austere, too, which is obviously conducive towards focussing on the task at hand. There's a bit of a debate whether a writer should have their desk facing towards or away from a window. Mine is towards, which probably provides too many distractions and explains why I'm such a slow writer. Will try to post a photo of my writing room soon.

Photo courtesy of The Guardian.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

the last king of scotland

Saw two films recently and they couldn't be any different despite both being Oscar winners this year. The first film was The Last King Of Scotland - a truly amazing film. I had been reluctant to see it at first: I knew it was going to be good (as in interesting, thought-provoking) but I thought it might a bit dry, something I had to be in the mood to watch. I was wrong: it was compelling from start to finish and wasn't as heavy as I expected. Forest Whitaker's portrayal of Idi Amin was not only completely believable but shaded with many levels of characteristion, even making him funny and likeable (well, despots are usually colourful characters otherwise they'd never get in power in the first place). Then a few days later I watched Dreamgirls. Now I have to admit that I'm a bit of a Supremes fan. I love Motown music (especially when cleaning - sad but true). The songs were crap - and this is supposed to be a Motown-inspired movie!!!! And the so-called Oscar-winning performance was hammy. Sure, it was always going to be a light movie but it could have been so much better. Don't bother watching it.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

we need to talk about kevin

Okay, so this post is almost two weeks late but I didn’t want to let it pass. I’ve been in a book club for a year or so now (I’m sure that’s not a surprise) and we meet about every two months. We used to meet every six weeks but everyone was struggling to get through life and reading. The latest book was chosen a while back and it was interesting to hear peoples’ responses. Most of all, I was surprised to my reaction to the book. I had been looking forward to reading it for a few years. And I have to admit that I’m a bit of a sucker for awards (same goes for medals on wine bottles). We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005. I really struggled to get through the first 200 pages of the book. I found the narrator grating and miserable: she complained about everything. I also found the style of her “letters” (as I believed them to be) unnecessarily verbose. But as the book club evening approached (and I was running out of time to finish), the story became more engaging. Unfortunately, I didn’t complete it in time and so heard about the gruesome end in the general discussion. But the following day I returned to the book and was much more satisfied with the last 100 pages than the first half. Would I recommend it? I’m not quite sure. But I’d definitely say if you do start it, to persevere.

Monday, 13 August 2007

sunny spring sunday

The trip to Hayman Island obviously had a profound effect on me as I got in a bikini yesterday with the intention of sunbathing on Bronte Beach. For those of you not in Sydney let me qualify this – yesterday was a beautiful spring day (about 22 degrees or so) but it was hardly sunbathing weather. And I should further qualify this by saying that I hardly ever go to the beach. In fact, this was the first time I have been on the sand in Bronte for many, many years. Yes, something has come over me. Before I know it I’ll be joining the crowds down to Bondi Beach this summer (this coming from the girl who still hasn’t actually been in the water at Bondi in three years despite living only a seven minute walk away). Also, notice the new flip flops/thongs (depending on your provenance) – they were a Hayman Island purchase. Another first: the joys of charging to your room. I’ve never done that before and it was a dangerous combination. Oh, the bikini was from the resort, too. Now, really got to get focused back on the city life.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

hayman island

I’m not quite sure what’s going on at the moment, but it’s as if some tectonic shift has happened. For years I’ve been the dutiful employee packing my lunch for work in the morning, putting my head down and typing as fast as my fingers will fly. All of a sudden I’m hardly at my desk and spending more sleeping hours in fancy hotel rooms than I’ve ever done before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but I’m a little fearful that another movement of the plates will occur and I’ll slip and get a bruised bottom!
So where was I working last weekend? Hayman Island. Nice work if you can get it. Seriously, though, getting a taste of five-star luxury was in the name of research for
Real Living magazine. And having visited this world-class resort, I have to say that everyone should try the high life just once in their lifetime. It might be for a honeymoon, anniversary or retirement treat, but it’s got to be done.
Still, the highlight of the trip remains that initial flight into the Whitsundays and thinking, “This place is so spectacular – I can’t believe I haven’t been here before and that it’s only two hours north of Sydney. How can I say that I’ve travelled the world when I haven’t seen this!”
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