Tag Archive | Things of beauty

Watching in the rain

So there I was hoping it would rain. 

I bought a super umbrella. It’s inside out. 

I love good design. I love innovation. I love things that work. Here’s the man at work with video of the prototype that got me. 

I just wanted a little rain so I could test out my umbrella. Except it hasn’t stopped raining. Sorry, Sydney.

Anyway I’ve caught up on some movies. So all good. Here’s the movies in order of you must watch it to OK, if you want to waste some time. 

You simply must see the French film La Famille Bélier. It was so beautiful, I cried. Iit’s not a tragedy. It’s just a gorgeous tale of growing up with great singing and  humour. 

The novel The Light Between the Oceans was overly melodramatic for me. Likewise the movie, but I think the tale works better as a film. I kind of wished I had seen it on the big screen as the landscape is amazing. The acting is good but yeah, the story is soapy. 

Oldboys is a poignant road trip movie right down to the big classic American car. Except it’s Danish and set in Sweden. 

Another road trip movie, this one across Australia, Thunderstruck was silly. In some bits, really silly but it doesn’t pretend to be a deep piece of art and so you start watching with no expectations. 

If it stops raining, I might go on an adventure. For now it’s movies and books. Oh and planning my trip to France. 

Rainforest 

There’s a primordial power, majesty and spookiness about rainforests. 

The trees are so tall and so straight. I’m in awe of their age. 

Photos of trees often don’t give you the sense of the size. But how about this one with cars and Mr S for perspective?


Mr S and I went for a walk on a skywalk, a structure that takes you into the canopy. You could see through the grate to the ground. The skywalk swayed but not as much as the cantilevered one that looked down on the creek. 

In the photo below the centre tree is growing on a small rock in the creek! How can it be supported with such a small root base? It’s like it is balancing on a ball. Can you see the base right down the bottom middle of the photo? The second photo gives a closer view of the tree balancing on a ball! 


A second walk through another section of rainforest was in order. I love the shapes of the strangler figs, the strange growth on trees, the burnt out sections of trees and the enormity of trees. 

The roots formed a natural sand pit or wading pool

The roots always seem too shallow to support a massive tree


I was on the hunt to see a platypus in the wild. The sign said the area was restricted to protect the platypuses. But obviously platypuses don’t read and didn’t know they were meant to be there. We saw none in the waterhole even though it was just before sunset. 


Let me tell you, a rainforest at dusk is a spooky place. The rustling in the lead cover by unseen things, the strange squawking. We hightailed it out before it was totally dark and headed to view the sunset over the caldera.   


It’s a magical place. The rich volcanic soil (that you can see in the photos with the horses) makes the mountain perfect for gardeners. My mother’s garden grows wild in a tame way. (Wish my garden would grow the tame way! Lol) 


It’s a perfect spot to read, and snooze, and day dream, and chat, and mindlessly surf the Internet, and watch the birds in and around the bird feeder. It’s strange how quickly the days pass when you are relaxing and going at a much slower pace

(Oh and apropos of nothing to do with rainforests, I bought some Queensland-y clothes. Bright and light and colourful. As two items had tiny holes in them, I got them free!!! Apologies for my poor styling. I do these clothes no justice. The one with the pink fringe is a shawl-like open cloak-y thing. So unlike me. But I will waft around wearing it. The sequinned top is so me. I know, I know. I am meant to be decluttering and saving for my year off and my travel and my renos.)

THE Perfect Teapot

I’m a tea drinker. On weekends, I make a pot of tea for breakfast and slowly drink three cups as I read the paper, daydream, talk with Mr S, do lists, do Sudukos. 

Teapots, I have a few. China, solid silver, glass, metal. I like their design, utility, decorative details. But not all teapots are equal. 

Recently at a BnB, Mr S was impressed with the drip-free pouring of the teapot. 

Sorry for the long orientation but I am loathe to let the world know I have found the perfect tea pot, least the run on sales pushes up the price and limits availability. 

Investigation of said teapot found that the perfect teapot is indeed called The Perfect Teapot. No longer made, they were patented and made in Australia until the 1950s. 

Why had I never heard of these gems before?

As soon as we left the BnB, I went on eBay  and bought one. My find was unused! (And remains so. It is an anniversary gift for Mr S.)

So what makes it perfect? It pours without a drip. That is a rare trait. On its own that is enough. 

But they also look good. 


And they have an inbuilt tea strainer, a little basket that you put the tea in. And the little basket has a handle with a hinge. How cute is that? A lovely practical touch. You can pull the strainer out easily by the handle to dispose of the tea leaves. Removing tea leaves from all my china teapots is a struggle. Shaking the teapot over the garden risks dropping and breaking the pot. And many stray leaves always resist removal. 


And the tea stays warm for ages. 

The only down side: the handle gets hot. The little holes to diffuse the heat don’t really work. 

Still we love them so much, we’ve bought three. 

Reclaim the morning 

I like slow mornings. Taking my time pottering around. Quietly. 

Actually both features, quiet and slowness, are essential. 

Starting work at 7.40am means: Gulping down breakfast; racing out the door at 7.10am (obscene!), crawling through traffic, which makes a mockery of my earlier pace. 

Drinking a cup of tea, blogging and reading at 8am (this week I had a meeting close to home so dodn’t need to rush off to work at my normal ungodly middle of the night hour) I realised: if I could go to work at a decent hour, a human hour, an hour that would allow me to sleep in, potter around, have a quiet start to the day, say leave at 9am, I would be happier and healthier. 

It was quiet and calm that later start morning because Mr S had left for work and the offspring had not arisen. 

Weekends are not so peaceful with Mr S schtomping through the house, “doing jobs”, doing his exercises (which are very incomprehensibly noisy), schmutzing his breakfast. Actually everything he does, he does with noise! I have never heard someone do a zip up as loudly as he. Doors are opened with gusto and universe-disturbing sound. 

Be still my mind and my soul! Spring is here and while I won’t get another solo, slow, quiet late weekday morning for a while, if I time my breakfast right, as Mr S eats in warmer weather on the verandah, I can have a slow, quiet weekend breakfast. 

Brrr! It’s cold. 

Cold but beautiful. 

View from our window, to the main road and the area with the main chair lift on the first day, before the storm came. Blue skies returns for the last two days when I had some brilliant skiing. 

Please ignore the fly screen filter. 

Lying in my bed, I see the distant mountains through the windows. 

Up the chair lift, above the clouds. 

And when the clouds clear, the sky is bluer than blue, the white whiter than white. 


Yes, it is beautiful but so was the storm. 

Will they come to see this?

When several industries closed down, Beechworth remodelled itself into a tourist town. Three hours from Melbourne makes it perfect for weekenders. But it is definitely worth the 7 hours drive from Sydney. 

The beautiful streetscape of historical buildings is a drawcard. Yes, I first went because of the link to Kelly history, but there’s so much to see. Even with the low clouds and wet, walking along the street and popping into shops with clothes and knick-knacks is a great way to pass time. 


Many of the homes are gorgeous and I could imagine in spring and summer the gardens likewise. Walking back to our BnB, we were watched by this little boy who bravely only barked once we passed by.  


Last year we stayed in an old home that had been converted into a BnB. This year we stayed in an old bakery that had been sympathetically extended as a purpose built BnB. Both were gorgeous with divine gardens. 


Up the hill over looking the town is an old lunatic asylum. (Yes, not an acceptable term nowadays but what it was called.) The buildings are grand and evocative of the sadness and suffering that took place. 


So what happened to the building of public buildings? Why did we turn to such cheap and temporary structures? Such sad and poor looking buildings? Without any design merit? Crappy on the outside and crappy on the inside. 

Compare the library of Bright with the court house of nearby town, Myrtleford. 


The Beechworth Asylum was used as a hospital until the 1970s. Buildings were added with all the design features and sympathy to the environment as the court house above. 

Beechworth had a library of similar design to the courthouse. Opened in 1999,  it is so out of keeping with the town, so indicative of penny pinching, so ugly it shows all the worst of modern attitudes to civic pride. Decisions are made, buildings built with a short term focus.  Not for the future. Not for beauty. Not for civic pride. Not for what will last. Councils and bureaucrats would say for utilitarian and financial reasons. 

The only good thing about the ugly and small library at Beechworth. It didn’t last and was turned into a bottleshop when the supermarket and attached bottleshop was burnt down. Beer or books? It sounds like a crass commercial, low brow choice. 


But never fear, the library had already moved. But even without turning the library building into a bottleshop (and let’s face it, people need their alcohol) how short term is it to open a library in 1999 and move it less than 20 years later? When the building opened I would have said, how ugly; how lacking in any regard for people, books and the environment; and how short term. 

So, will anybody bother driving 7, let alone 3, hours to see these modern, squat, buildings without aesthetic and even utilitarian features? Well the question probably won’t be one that needs asking. The buildings won’t be worth preserving and will probably be knocked down and  replaced with equally cheaply built boxes. 

Your view?

Unconscious Mindfulness 

Many months ago I was driving to work and passed this absolutely amazing tree on a street where the traffic is very slow as we all wait through several changes of lights to get onto a main thoroughfare. The shrub was in flower with these huge, pendulous, drooping flower spikes. 

The whole shrub was covered. The beauty of it struck me. I had to share with someone who would appreciate it. I called my walking buddy. (Don’t worry. I have hands free in my car.) 

“I am looking at this amazingly beautiful shrub on the side of the road. We need to walk to it this afternoon and see it. I have never seen it in flower before.”

To her credit, my friend does not blink at unexpected phone calls from me about a plant, or any matter. Not does she roll her eyes at my random thoughts, expressed loud. 

So in the hot, steaming afternoon of a Sweltering Sydney Summer, we trudged up to the plant. 

I was still impressed. My friend less so. She has one in her garden. 

To give you the scale of the tree, here is my friend standing by the tree. 


Turns out they are commonly used for street planting in Brisbane, being tropical loving plants. They are becoming increasingly common in Sydney. Buckinghamia celsissima. But this one, being such a wonderful specimen,  had never put on such a display previously. If it had, I would have noticed it. 

I can’t wait until next year. Hope it flowers as spectacularly.