FOR a moment there it didn't look like we were going to have a winter. Yet, as I sit here letting a fresh breeze blow through the h...

FOR a moment there it didn't look like we were going to have a winter. Yet, as I sit here letting a fresh breeze blow through the house and with fingers and toes numb, winter seems to have arrived. I'll be heading into the Blue Mountains next week and up to Nundle the week after so I feel I need to harden my body to the chill.


I WENT TO… Swansea. Yes, that funny little seaside town folks of my vintage will know from their summer holiday excursions up and down the east coast. Swansea was a classic place to pullover and have a cuppa from the thermos, stretch the legs and go to the loo before the final trek into Sydney or, in my case, before heading home to the Hunter. 

This month's visit was to hunt for fossil remnants that pock the rock platforms at Swansea Heads. If you live close by, it's a lovely day trip. Pick a low tide to explore the rock platforms. The fossils, the beach combing and peering into the marine habitats among the rocks makes for a nice school holiday adventure for families - especially families who've already been to see Finding Dory and want a closer look at marine environments close to home.

I ATE… The dining options at Swansea are very different to what I remember from those school holiday trips to visit grandparents south of Sydney. Almost all our family road trips involved cold, home-cooked chicken drumsticks, triangles of buttered white bread, a Thermos of tea and container of biscuits. My sister and I spent our early childhood in central Queensland. At that time fast food outlets were not a common sight along Queensland's major roads but by the time we moved to NSW, where McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC littered the Pacific Highway, we were onto it. It must have been a blow to our organised, efficient and thrifty mum to have two kids whining in the back seat for greasy fast food when she'd gone to the trouble to pack a roadworthy picnic. 

Now when travelling, I'm on the lookout for where locals gather and where I can smell the coffee. Seed Cafe, on the main drag of Swansea is both those things. A simple breakfast of poached eggs, sourdough toast and a side of avocado also came with a side of fresh, beautifully dressed greens. Simple, delicious, perfectly done and presented. And the coffee was good - no more Thermos' of tea for me.

I OP SHOPPED… I've added a few cosy woolen tops and vests to the wardrobe but my favourite finds have been a stash of vintage cook books and a German china toy tea set. 

I MADE… I have been making felt softie koalas and need more makers to join me. They'll raise funds for Girl Guide programs across the Asia Pacific. The free pattern download is here.

I READ… I read Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel. I picked it up from a secondhand book sale for less that $1 and only picked it up because I recognised the du Maurier name. As I was reading, I was thinking it was the kind of piece ripe for a period drama. Turns out in 1952 it was made into a film but a remake is due. It's light, easy reading, where you want to return to the story because you have to know what happens. No spoilers, but you'll never be entirely sure.

I also finished Kelly Doust's Precious Things. Similar to My Cousin Rachel, a story of lives touched by a beautiful and intricate piece of textile will have you returning to the page to learn what happens next.

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