CAN you believe summer is all but over? Only for a leap year do we have one more day of it - a Monday, of all days. I reckon I say it eve...

CAN you believe summer is all but over? Only for a leap year do we have one more day of it - a Monday, of all days. I reckon I say it every year, but I never seem to make the most of being outdoors in summer. Thankfully we did get outside a little this month, and with a little luck and good planning, squeeze in a trip or two to the beach before the weather turns.


I WENT TO… Kangaroo Valley, inland from the NSW South Coast. We spent three days lolling by the river and stuffing ourselves full of good food, staying at the local caravan park, which we can recommend for inexpensive, fuss-free accommodation. That said, next time I'll be sleeping under canvas. Why waste all the advantages of being in the great outdoors?

I ATE… From the caravan park you can walk into town. We walked in for breakfast and dinner, downing a bottle of locally-produced shiraz and walking, footloose and fancy-free, home. Bistro One46 was a treat. Three courses for about $50 a head. The chicken liver pate was enough to share between two for a starter. I enjoyed the arancini as a main and my partner had the chef's curry, off the specials board. I should have picked the apricot bread pudding for dessert but couldn't pass up a rhubarb crumble made from locally-grown rhubarb. Both were delicious, but that caramelised, deep, rich apricot sauce; oh my. We sat overlooking the street under the dappled light of an enormous grapevine and washed down each course with the recommended bottle of Crooked River Black Top Shiraz.

Our other pick from the weekend was the The General Store Cafe. We chose it for breakfasts, but it does a set menu on Friday and Saturday nights that would be worth a gander too.

I OP SHOPPED… Our Kangaroo Valley find was the second hand book store. I picked up a wartime copy of a Yates Garden Guide and a couple of choice cooking and knitting books from the 1940s and '50s. Other op-shopped goodies included a Jenny Kee couch cushion cover made up from a pattern out of her needlework books; a gorgeous stash of vintage buttons; a Hermes ceramic ashtray adorned with hand-painted bees and other insects (I don't smoke but liked the bee motif); and, finally a couple of books - an Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed and herb and spice book with recipes for crafts, food and most important of all natural dyes.

I MADE… Lists. So many lists. Lists of creative projects. Lists of freelance research and writing I want to throw myself into. Lists of what to plant in the garden and all the things that need to happen before planting can begin. Lists that are forming the basis of a business plan. A bucket list for the year. So, so many lists.

I READ… Kate Grenville's The Secret River. I know, I know. I've come to this one late but it was worth the wait - another standout read for so early in the year. My other read for February was The Girl on the Train. Read on a train during the last weeks of my most recent bout of long-haul work commutes thanks to Audible.

#image: A Kangaroo Valley find tucked away off the main street is heaven for Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys fans.

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  1. I am fascinated by the Hermes ashtray Katie! That second hand bookstore sounds like a beauty. Treasure! Happy Sunday to you.

    1. Jane, my Instagram is katiecrackernut and you can see a picture of it there, but I can send something of it close up, if you're interested.