Thursday, 20 September 2007


This is a very grown-up book, and it turns out I don't read a lot of those. I read a lot of kids books, and hight-brow big-L Literature, but not a lot of contemporary fiction intelligently discussing normal adult issues.

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver is constructed in a kind of Sliding Doors way whereby early on the in book the main character Irina, chooses whether to leave her husband for another man. The chapters then alternate between the continuing story of either scenario. A la Sliding Doors, it all comes back together at the end.

I'm still a bit undecided about this one. For the first while I was really disinterested in it - just didn't care. To start with it's all very grown up, and I am apparently not quite there yet. Also, I don't have a lot of sympathy for cheaters, and so I wasn't interested in what happened in one story. And the other story, well, it's only really interesting as a comparison, at first at least. Who wants to read about a woman who stays with her husband? Not exactly a riveting plotline.

But I stuck with it, and after a while I found it interesting. Eventually I developed a rapport with the characters, and there's a lot of metaphysical questions that are dealt with: 'is there one person for everybody, or do you have to simply make a choice and live with it?', 'will things work out a particular way no matter what you choose?', 'is it more important to choose someone you fancy like mad, or someone you can grow old with?' etc etc.

It's well written which makes life easier, and the characters are all interesting. It's not terribly fast paced, but relaxing and gentle without being dull. In the end it didn't knock my socks off, but it was good to read a book that considered larger issues, without smacking you over the head with how intelligent and important it is. At the start I was close to giving up, but having read the whole thing, I think I'd be happy to re-read it sometime down the track. And if I'd bought it rather than borrowed it, I think I'd consider the money well spent.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Great Snakes! All I wanted was a black pen.

Ok, I wanted a nice freely-flowing-ink, make-my-handwriting-look-nicer, not-indent-making-in-the-paper rollerball.
But nothing too fancy.

I went to Unibooks, thinking it'd be cheap there.


$4.50 for a black Pilot rollerball?

What is the world coming to?

Friday, 14 September 2007

@ the opera.

I'm not big on opera, but last night I went to see the Con's performance of Cosi fan Tutte. It's a really small production (only 6 cast members and an onstage chamber orchestra), modernised (Emo maid), and in English (thank God!). The only criticism I had, was that not knowing the story I was waiting for another switcheroo, and it never materialised. But I guess that's really a criticisim of da Ponte (and who am I to judge) rather than this particular production. It was actually really good; one of the best student productions I've ever seen - and heck, one of the most enjoyable operas I've ever seen - and I would recommend it to anyone who has a hole in their schedule tonight or tomorrow. It's only $18 for adults, and is in the Little Theatre. Information about tickets is here.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

writing a letter.

Dear Nhill,

I love your public toilets. They were the nicest ones I've ever seen. Even nicer than the David Jones ones. I didn't really need to go, but I'm so glad I did. The cleanliness; the sweet-smell; the working soap dispenser, hand dryer and stall doors; the nice decor; and the classical music playing all made me extremely happy (I had, after all, been driving for 2 hours before the crack of dawn).

I will recommend your facilities as the premier pit-stop for anyone driving to Melbourne. They really made my day.


Tuesday, 11 September 2007

there and back again.

Had a fun surprise weekend in the Melbuns: caught a ride over with the family footy-goers (or more accurately, they caught a ride with me, since I did most of the driving). We mostly lazed around, and did a little catching up with friends which was just what the doctor ordered. I also found a lovely dress which will be useful for some upcoming weddings, and some Cosby Show DVDs half price. Awesome!

Tom and I went to France-Soir for a posh dinner which was great. It was posh in the moderately pricey sense, but otherwise it was just a 'nice' bustling suburban restaurant. The food was excellent, but nothing fancy - good traditional food done well rather than novel but pretentious and dissatisfying stacks of tiny art. I had the Monday-only couscous which was heaped with different meats all cooked to perfection, with a vegetable broth to spoon over the lot, and French fries on the side. Beforehand we had agreed mains only (in an attempt to curtail the bill early) but of course I couldn't resist the Ile Flottante - a barely cooked meringe floating in custard. Yum. Unfortunately we didn't sample any grape juice - but the wine list is extensive and renowned. The OJ, however, was freshly squeezed, just like Mamma makes. I also enjoyed the smart-alec lady next to us showing off her French and ordering a 'cafe au lait' - I'm told 'cafe au lait' is a breakfast coffee only, and outside the home it's a 'cafe creme' that you order. Har har har.

To give myself a little more time, I flew back, and as we were taxi-ing into Adelaide airport, I looked out of the plane window and noticed that on the green banks of a runway traffic island, there was a teddy bear, all kitted up in ground-staff yellow safety vest sitting on a deck chair and fishing in the drain. How bizzare!

And finally, a trip to Ikea heralded good news and bad: they're now selling the Asker containers I've wanted for ages (mentioned and pictured here), but they were out of stock. They're getting more in tomorrow, but you can't order or hold them, so I guess I'll be heading back soon...

Friday, 7 September 2007

wine tasting.

I almost forgot to talk about this, but last Friday I went wine tasting in McLaren Vale with Cait and Paul and Paul. I'd never done it before, and had been meaning to for ages, so when Cait offered to drive, I was enthusiastically in.

We had a lovely lunch in the Coriole courtyard - a tasting platter piled with Woodside cheeses, olive-oil drizzled bread, kalamatas, chorizo, corned beef, chutney, roast beetroot and pumpkin, and some leaves. Alongside we drank their Chenin Blanc. After lunch we sampled their wines - my memory begins to get hazy, but I tried a red which tasted to me bizzarely like frozen peas, and I walked away with a bottle of sweet white - a Semillion - which I enjoyed as being not as sickly as a lot of stickys.

We followed this with a trip to Kay's, which had a beautiful view and a couple of friendly dogs. I tried almost all of what was on offer - about 6-8 wines, and my memory was getting very sloshy, but as someone who is quite picky about wine, I did really enjoy their wares - they were nice and rich and had interesting flavours. I liked the Viognier the best, but Cait and co went for the Frontignac, which was quite sweet and went well with our Thai dinner.

Lastly, we ended up at Samuel's Gorge, which was not on the map and a real giggle. This also had a beautiful aspect (overlooking the gorge I suppose...) and would be a great place for a picnic. The winemaker was young and Jamaican and a real character, and we'd caught them at their knock-off drinks, which they kindly let us join. The boys talked sport, while Cait and I enjoyed the view. They only make reds, and at $35 a pop it was a bit rich for my blood, but they were very nice.

Apologies for being vague, but by the end of the day, I was a little sozzled. Who knew they gave you such big helpings?!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007


My first Secret Pal package arrived today!

I received (clockwise from top right):
- some Japanese fruit flavoured boiled sweets
- Hello Kitty bandaids
- Black and white check earrings
- Singapore Postcards
- 3 balls of Hug lilac wool
- Itty bitty flower (sakura?) shaped Japanese rice crackers
- Peach and mango tea
- Bamboo knitting needles

Wow! What a lovely parcel! And now I know my Pal Ayumi is from Singapore (since she speaks French and German she had me guessing!).

The edibles are all gone already, the drinkables have been sampled (yum!) and I've put the bandaids in my purse - they'll be useful in case of shoe malfunctions.

This photo really doesn't do the wool justice - it looks kinda grey here, but it's actually a variegated lilac and cream. It's very pretty and lovely and soft.

I'm very excited by the bamboo needles too - I've never used (or owned for that matter) any before! They're nice big fat ones too - they'll be great for chunky winter scarves!

Thanks Ayumi!

Monday, 3 September 2007

baking with Stephanie.

I've had the big stripey Stephanie Alexander bible for ages, but somehow had never cooked anything from there (probably because I'm shallow and there's a distinct lack of pictures).

This weekend I tried the Sticky Date Pudding (actually called Sticky Toffee Pudding) which was sublime, but not photogenic, and the Simple Carrot Cake (pictured here) which was very good, but not the best carrot cake I've ever had, and therefore not quite good enough. Although it's tastier today - it seems carrot cake is one of the few cakes better refrigerated than straight out of the oven.

I decorated the cake with these autumn leaf shaped sprinkles that I picked up in Melbourne. I thought they were lovely, but I got asked 3 times if the reason I only did half the cake was that I'd run out. NO thankyou very much - I like my cakes the way I like my haircuts: asymmetrical and a wee bit pretentious. SO THERE.