IT may be autumn but summer lingered this month and I think will linger a little longer beyond the coming end to daylight saving. I hop...

IT may be autumn but summer lingered this month and I think will linger a little longer beyond the coming end to daylight saving. I hope it does, just a little bit.


I WENT TO… Brisbane for a work trip that was extended to see family and friends. It was lovely to see a beautiful friend who (though I can hardly believe it) I've known for 20 years now. I met Louise in my first real job following study to become a journalist and we've followed each other through life's ups and downs, jaunts living overseas and the peculiarities of facing our middle years. She's big of heart, wild of idea and equal measure cautious and curious by nature. She's exactly the kind of person you need to have in your life and I hope she's around for 20-plus years more.

Over the Easter holiday long weekend, the Mrs and I also did a day trip to Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, at Mount Tomah, via Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River. We headed off with a plan to breakfast at The Brooklyn Tuckshop and lunch at the one-hat Sean Moran-led cafe-restaurant of the garden.

Many moons ago, I lived on the Bells Line of Road and passed the gardens regularly but had only been in once before. As the gardens are an easy day-trip from Sydney, and my home of the Central Coast, it seemed a perfectly lovely thing to do on a sunny autumn day - and it was.

I ATE… With so many trips away from home and a long weekend, to boot, the opportunities to eat out were plentiful. My favourites are always the locals. LiKEMiNDS is a favourite coffee hang and does a great breakfast and lunch. I also discovered Gosford's The Craft Bar: a venue I'll be making my way back to with friends. The Brooklyn Tuckshop was well worth the jaunt off the coast; and out of Sydney if you're looking for a weekend train ride or day trip north.

My partner and I had high expectations of the Sean Moran restaurant at the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens. We'd booked a week in advance and were rewarded with a balcony seat overlooking the gardens.

However, our table was out of sight of the short-staffed venue and we had to call over staff to take our orders, clear plates and eventually when we couldn't attract attention to order a coffee and dessert we bailed and headed back down the Bells Line of Road to Bilpin for a roadhouse apple pie and coffee. The food was fair and simple - roasted chicken and veg and a home-made pasta with roasted tomatoes and parmesan- but, in short, it's not a meal I'd recommend the amazing taste, great service or finesse of.

I am no food reviewer, but if pushed I'd be left to rate the company and the view. Visit the garden by all means, but pack a picnic. We saw a good many families who'd done just that and those picnic spreads looked awfully tasty.

I OP SHOPPED… While in Brisbane I spent two days in workshops in a suburb about 30 minutes out of the CBD. During my lunch breaks I made a beeline to two op shops I'd spied from the bus on my way in. Neither looked likely to turn up any impressive finds but I had a lunch break to kill. How wrong could I be. In one I found, for a mere $5, a two-piece silk suit from the late 1950s early '60s. Even on the hanger I could see it needed love and care, and more so since I've washed it but it's in the mending basket waiitng to see what can be salvaged.

To match it, I found this Hong Kong-made bamboo handbag for $10 much closer to home.

I MADE… A new summer top. I know it's autumn, but I have actually been able to wear this in the last week because it's really a knitted cotton singlet overlaid with an open-backed tank - both of which have been made out of thrift shop finds. I'll share the finished item in a coming blog post.

I READ… I read Kim Mahood's Craft for a Dry Lake and William Boyd's Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay. I loved Amory. I wanted her to be a real person and imagine somewhere out there is a woman who really did live this fabulous life. Mahood's voice too is one I want to know more. Her story is real and she paints a vivid, yet nostalgic, portrait of her father and of the places he inhabited and people he endured these places with.

#images: views from the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah.

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  1. Beautiful pics. I need to get back to the Blue Mountains again one day. Glad you got some bargains in Brissie!