At Last

It might only be the first week of March, but we are convinced spring is here. It’s a coping mechanism. Yes, we could get another cold snap, even snow, and the calendar tells us it’s winter for  several more weeks. But the signs are all around. The signs! We can’t ignore them. Crocuses blooming, daffodils shooting up everywhere. Snowdrops have been out in force for weeks now. Surely that’s conclusive evidence.

But the best way to judge whether spring is here (or surely days away) is Seedy Sunday, the annual meeting of gardeners, farmers, foodies, beekeepers, botanists and random children that happens in the rec centre across the road from our house.

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It’s rained the past few Seedy Sundays, but this time it was gorgeous. Which only made it more convincing: at last spring is here. Yes, go crazy buying plants for the garden and birdhouses from the woodworker down the street.

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I don’t know about you, but spring releases me from a winter’s worth of lolling about. Which is not what it seems like during winter–then it’s burrowing in or hibernating or staying cozy. I don’t mean only physical lolling. I get inspired in spring, revitalized to try new things in my writing. It’s a new world, after all.  Those seeds start germinating and expanding and I can’t contain them.

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And this can be dangerous because I start a new project ambitiously and then summer sets in and those long, warm nights call me outside, away from my computer. Fall, winter, those are my writing seasons. Spring is for inspiration, and summer is for….vacation? There’s something not right there, I know. There’s a lot of summer between the inspiration and the getting-down-to-it of the fall. Maybe it depends on whether I’m working towards my own deadlines or someone else’s…

But for now, I’m enjoying the fading of winter and the trumpeting of spring, even if it means the daffodils will freeze next week. They’re brave to try. And that’ s all any of us can do, isn’t it?

When is your best writing season?

XO

Ria

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Solitude

Or should that be Sydney-tude. Because, frankly, I’m not exactly alone.

Well, inspired by your post from last week about Solitude and getting away from home and supported by a generous husband, who threw all his Hilton hotel points my way, I am writing to you from the 24th floor of Hilton Sydney, overlooking a pretty raucous Chinese New Year street festival. Yee-ha! Matt called it a Valentine’s present, so that I would use it and not feel guilty (he knows me too well) and I have to say – I am loving it. In fact, I am buzzing! I feel so caught up in the excitement of it all I think I, like you the other week, will not sleep tonight. Even though that is kind of the point – to give me an opportunity to be babes-free and enjoy some slumber. Still, I look pretty happy, hey?

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I’ve had the best day. I am trying to find a way to tie it into writing but I’m struggling to avoid shameless gushing. Do you mind if I get self-indulgent on this one? There will be food! I promise you that! Like, my lunch: Wagamama’s crispy pork salad. Get outta town! Or, as I have done, get into town. This was yummy and I didn’t mind sitting alone one bit (No-one tugged at my top or pressed mashed banana into my clothes. Sigh, bliss). I counted two other women sitting alone, so I was in good company, ex. Matt and I went to Wagamama’s on one of our first dates. We held hands under the table.

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I dawdled over to The Strand Arcade and peered down at everyone sipping their lattes. I imagined the conversations and gossip and arguments. I watched a toddler throw her bottle out of the stroller on purpose, just like B2 does, and laughed.

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I bought chocolate from Haigh’s for Matt and babes. Have you heard of “freckles”? Milk chocolate buttons covered in sprinkles. They’re a family favourite of ours. Then I lost the chocolate in a shop somewhere. Dang it. I wonder what time they open tomorrow…

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I wandered down to Darling Harbour for dinner. Darling Harbour is a little touristy but the weather was darling. Pure, white, late afternoon light. Lovely. Made me want to own a yacht. Scratch that. Made me want to know someone who owns a yacht and hosts parties on it regularly that I’m invited to. Started imagining myself in a maxi-dress and pretty sandals (Ralph Lauren commercial styles).

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Had Moreton Bay Bugs for dinner. I haven’t included a photo because it was just…well….ridiculously flamboyant of me. Clearly I was letting the “free” room get the better of me. I was also nostalgic – Matt and I shared Moreton Bay bugs from the Sydney Fish markets when we were younger and considerably more fancy-free. We ate them cold with seafood sauce as a picnic in a park near his house. Instead I photographed the panna cotta I had for dessert. I love panna cotta. I must try and make it one day. But till then…

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I came “home” to these white sheets. What is it about hotel sheets? Don’t you think they are divine? I have white sheets at home and they don’t look like this. I’ve been sleeping on a foam mattress in B1’s room for the last few months. Do you think my body will cope with the sheer and utter bliss??

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The moon rose over the Queen Victoria Building and Chinese New Year parade commenced. It’s such a spectacular event, you have to give it to Sydney for throwing one damn fine party. It’s transporting me right back to our days in Macau; there’s been fireworks and projections and marching bands and fire cannons! I thought about getting amongst it but when I went down to check it out, before the parade had even began, the crowd was about ten people deep and I couldn’t see a thing. I figured it was better to enjoy this view.

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But soon enough it will be over and then in the morning I am going back to my real life. It’s been a wonderful fantasy, even if just for one night. Fast-paced and fabulous. I’ve seen so many people that would make wonderful characters, I’ve watched them walk and eat, listened in to their conversations, imagined their stories. What great writing fuel! I know I wasn’t alone or amongst nature, but I do feel refreshed. I love the energy of a big city and Sydney sure is that. It has reminded me of all the things I love about cities and reminded me of times I hadn’t thought about for a while. Picnics, watching fireworks from our apartment window, holding hands under the table. Perhaps it might not seem romantic because Matt’s not with me to share it. But somehow I think it is very  romantic. I think it might be the best Valentine’s Day present ever.

Thank you Matt, and the city, for my Sydney-tude. And you, my friend, for the inspiration.

HUGS, Hannah x

Marrickville Market

Right, that’s it. This is getting ridiculous. I’m adding a category – Markets & Food stores. Because Sydney is full to the brim of them! It’s quite astonishing the riches a foodie can find here. I’m running around like a person who’s never eaten before, taking photos like I’m at the Taj Mahal. But you understand, I know you do.

Today I bring you Marrickville Organic Food and Farmer’s Market. Come wander down the leafy lanes with me.

Marrickville Market runs every Sunday from 8am – 3pm at the Addison Road Community Centre, right next to this cool place: Reverse Garbage. I didn’t get a chance to have a look at Reverse Garbage due to young children rubbing their eyes and turning into Tasmanian devils so that gives me an excellent excuse to go back. For this visit I was wholly focussed on The Market. And filling my tum. Of course.

The challenging part was making a choice. Gozlame, hot lamb rolls with gravy, tarts and pies, ice-blocks…

Soda bread, corn fritters, quesadillas, olives, cakes, pasta, cheese….

I settled on a corn fritter, loaded with herbs and yoghurt and relish. I got so excited I forgot to take a photo of it. Bad blogger, tut tut! I was distracted by too many interesting things to look at. Like this little market regular, peeking out at me.

Or the thought of having a haircut. Next to the chai tent. As you do.

B1, clearly possessing her Mama’s DNA, was also transfixed. She ate fresh strawberries and got the juice all down her t-shirt. Then she had a “polar bear lemonade” (hand-made and frozen in a pouch, brilliant invention). She checked out stalls with secondhand books and clothes and helped me pick out a wooden bowl made of  Camphor Laurel, which smells amazing by the way.  She ran down aisles, smelled and touched everything.

Then she spotted Toddler Heaven. Ponies. Lots and lots of Ponies. Matt has always joked about B1 having him wrapped around his little finger and that she could merely smile at him and he would cave : “Okay, I’ll buy you a pony.” But even with B1’s charms there is no way we are adding a pony to our tiny abode. Besides, she doesn’t really know what a pony is yet. Ahem, until now…

So you can see why I am enamoured with Sydney right at this very moment. Where else can you find an food market with piles and piles of organic fruit and vegetables, a plethora of brunch options, a hairdresser and…pony rides??! Is it too corny to write: “there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy”? Cliche? Tick. The Truth? Tick! I only wish you were here to see it with me. You would have been beside yourself, you really would. I bought chilli linguine to take home and only wished I’d bought chocolate tart and chai tea.

Next time.

HUGS, Hannah x