It’s all coming together

the sunrise swimmers

The next few weeks are filled with preparations, lists slowly being whittled down, installing, and rather a lot of strong coffee, (ahhh yes, coffee.)

And after all that coffee is drunk? The Sunrise Swimmers exhibition officially launches.

My book also launches. That launch week will see a crazy amount of people coming to celebrate the delicious joy of sea swimming at sunrise.

From here on in, the boxes of beautiful shiny books are standing by the wall. The bottles of wine are ready to go by the door. The invitations have been sent out, posters are being placed in corners of this wonderful city, and encouraging words are being gathering by all kinds of lovely people.

Seeing this project slowly unfurl, piece by piece has been amazing, but to stand here now and watch these last few weeks really come together, well THAT is very exciting!

 

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The Pipi Master

In the lead up to my exhibition and book launch in a few weeks, I thought I would do another post with a salty sea theme. This one is a little different from the usual post I do here in this space- a short story, a work of fiction. Each year our local paper runs a summer short story award, and in 2017 I was a finalist with this story. The rules are simple. Write 1000 words based on one of the pictures given to spark the creative goodness, and in doing just that, comes The Pipi Master. (click-through to the link for the associated picture.)

The Pipi Master

Gran said she’d be back in half an hour. Stopping half way down the sandy walk way she turned back though, ‘you sure you’ll be ok up there by yourself?’

It was the third time she’d asked, so instead of giving her a bunch of reassuring words like he’d done the other times he waved her away with a smile, walking further up the headland. She knew where he’d be, up the top, looking out over the beach. He would be able to see her, and she him. Except he didn’t need to keep tabs on her like she did. He was free to do as he pleased, as long as he stayed within sight.

At 11 years old he thought he could have been given a little more elbowroom, but she was his Gran, and he didn’t want her to feel bad. Besides he wasn’t going anywhere. Just going to hangout out, maybe Kody would swing by in a little bit on his bike and then they’d all go home together. Kody was 15 and obviously didn’t feel quite so bad about hurting Gran’s feelings by not hanging out with her all afternoon. Kody had been able to go surfing with his mates down at Smashing Rock for most of the day. Gone for hours now, but he knew he had to be back to meet them before the sun went down.

That was the rule.

He lay down across the posts. Not the most comfortable place to be, but he could feel the late afternoon sun on his back, and still watch the water to his front. Half closing his eyes listening to the waves crash.

Tide was coming in now. Squinting and craning his neck round a bit further he tried to see whether the shack he’d been trying to put together a few days ago with Kody was still there. They’d spent ages finding old logs and sticks that had been washed up along the beach to build a little shelter for Gran to sit in. She didn’t seem that keen on sitting though, said she was happy enough standing on the edge letting the waves lick at her feet while she threw a line in. Fishing mad she was. Any opportunity to get the fishing line out and she would. Sometimes she’d catch some whoppers, other times he thought she just wanted to get her feet wet and have some thinking time. Gran had told him once when they’d stood together waiting with her reel, that fishing on the beach was a good time for conversations that were too hard around the dinner table…and was also a good time for thinking, she’d said almost to herself. He hadn’t anything big to tell her, but he nodded, and she seemed to think that was ok.

That’s what she was doing now. Well not really fishing, but seeing if there were any pipis in the sand for tomorrow. She’d wait for the wave to pull back, leaving the tell tale bubbles in the sand of the pipis below. In her hand would dive to grab them, then she’d throw them into her red plastic bucket. ‘Not too many,’ she would say when he go down with her. ‘Never too many, we don’t want to be greedy do we… Just enough for tomorrows catch eh love.’

He used to enjoy doing that with her; she called him the Master of Pipis. It was something his mum and dad never seemed to get time to do lately. Always at work, they’d barely even come down to the beach this summer. If it wasn’t for Gran, these school holidays would have been dead boring.

He shifted his body weight a little, and nearly fell off the post. Sitting up instead, he dangled his feet over the top, hearing voices he looked back towards the carpark.

A couple of surfers had walked up to the top of the walkway and were pointing out towards the break, obviously discussing the best way to catch a few before the sun went down completely. He watched them as they started to trot down the sandy path. Surfers never seemed to walk down to the water they always needed to get a little bit of a run up. Why was that? He’d have to ask Kody, he’d know. It was like they were so excited after seeing the water they just couldn’t wait any longer.

Whatever.

He loved the water, loved the beach but surfing wasn’t his thing. He’d tried it a bit the summer before, but the last time he’d been a bit slow in getting over a set and had got dragged across the rocks over on the east end. Kody had yelled at him for not ducking under earlier, and dinging his precious board up but had stopped when he saw the blood gushing from the side of his head. Four stiches at JHH that had been. His mate Jimmy had been well impressed.

Gran wasn’t though and blamed herself for not keeping him safer. She’d kept a closer eye on him since then, even though that was a whole summer ago.

He could see her off in the distance. Her ridiculously big floppy hat making her easy to pick out from the rest of the late afternoon beach goers. They’d all given her that hat at Christmas as a bit of a joke. She’d worn it every day since.

Everyone was packing up now; the beach starting to empty, and his tummy was getting hungry. Maybe he’d convince Gran to stop off for some hot chips before they got home, he knew Kody would be up for some, and Gran was always pretty keen. She liked the weird shaped crunchy ones at the bottom.

He jumped off the post and started his way back down the path, maybe he’d see if Gran needed a hand finding a few more pipis, he was after all the master.

* This piece of work was originally published in The Newcastle Herald

Running with the season

Late afternoon sunflowers that grow a little weary in the heat.

Coriander goes to seed, and the lettuce? Oh it bolted long ago. Along with the rhubarb who gave up the ghost, and the rainbow chard that’s now a tower of delightfully coloured seed. And pumpkins? Unlike last year where we were swimming in them, this year not even one.

Not the cherry tomatoes though, those tomatoes are still running strong. Although leave them too long and they will sundry right there on the stems in which they grew.

This is our summer.

Hot, windy and dry. So dry.

This season has been a funny one. So many of the plants just seem confused. Rain has been infrequent and barely enough these last six months. Garden space is now reduced to the smallest of small areas just to keep hopes going. There is still hope though, of course there will be a time for things to bounce back and regain their former glorious green. Time for the lilli pilli to regain its shiny leaves and time for far more bread to be baked when the kitchen is just a smidge cooler. The blue banded bees will keep coming, and that in itself is just gentle reminder to keep things simple.

Run with the season, do what we can, and instead spend time feeding that crucial soil in which the garden will grow from. There’s always something to do.

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How’s your garden going?

 

The Sunrise Swimmers

Nearly two years ago I loosely started a project as a way of reconnecting to a city I hadn’t called home for a really long time. All I knew is, it would involve a camera and the ocean. As time went on this delicious project evolved into The Sunrise Swimmers. It’s something I’ve put my whole heart into, and next month this collection of portraits, seascapes and stories from the early morning swimmers of Newcastle’s iconic, Merewether Ocean Baths is launched. My solo exhibition is supported by Olympus and will be on for 7 weeks at Newcastle Library, and along with it, a limited edition book.

Am I excited? You betcha. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of this project and to have met so many wonderful, wonderful people because of it. Connecting with community is something that is incredibly important to me, and through this project I’ve done just that. Tapped into the most wonderful, sea loving community of people, while being able to tell a tiny part of their stories. Yep I’ve loved every part of it!

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To register for tickets (it’s free, yay!) for both the exhibition and book launch event. Please clickity click here.

Time for a seasonal siesta

It’s time for a seasonal siesta.

But before I draw the curtains and pop open the prosecco. I just wanted to thank you  lovely readers, for coming along for the ride. Whether you are a long term reader or just bouncing in for the first time. In a world where there a gazillion web pages to choose from to read, I truly appreciate that you’ve taken the time to stop by here.

See you in 2018 for more posts on simple connected living.

(or instagram if you are want to say hello over the blog siesta period 🙂

St Lucia Buns (lussekatter)

lussekatter || cityhippyfarmgirl

I don’t need much of an excuse to bake. Give me some flour, water and a small window period, and the likely hood of knocking something up to whack into the oven is quite high.

Given that I still have an enduring love for all things Scandinavian, sourdough and (as mentioned, baking.) With the traditional day to bake St Lucia Buns (or Lussekatter)  drawing near, it seemed as good as an excuse as any to preheat the oven.

My baking is fairly fluid and using what’s on hand, I’m not particular keen on excessive faffing or having ingredients I don’t often use. Saffron unfortunately sits as one of those ingredients. Traditionally used in the baking of St Lucia Buns, these Scandinavian bread treats really should be a little yellow in colour. I can happily report back however, that after eating two tray loads, the missing saffron threads were not missed.

St Lucia Buns (Lussekatter)

250g refreshed sourdough starter

1 tsp dried yeast

200g softened butter

75g sugar

675g of bread flour

200mls milk

200mls water

1 tsp salt

In a mixer*, add starter, dried yeast, flour, milk and water. Mix well for approximately 5 minutes, and leave for 10 minutes.  Then add in your sugar and softened butter, salt and mix again for a good 15 minutes.

Dough should be well incorporated and feeling silky smooth.

Pop the dough back into the mixing bowl if mixing by hand and leave to prove for a couple of hours, with a fold in between until doubled in size (or cover and leave over night.)

On a lightly floured bench, shape your dough in a figure of eight, placing a raisin into the circle you’ve just created. (Brush with a little beaten egg, adding decorative rock sugar if you want, as you can see I didn’t.) Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until a light golden colour at 200C

*You do all of this by hand, I use an Assistent Original for all bread making on a larger scale.

Between the pages

 

A distracting sandwich

The sandwich was distracting me.

I was supposed to be submitting things, sorting things, tidying things. All things related to the computer and to be honest, it wasn’t holding my interest quite as it should have.

The sandwich to my right however, was another story.

My whole-hearted attention belonged to two slices of bread and an assortment of delicious fillings within it. This dear ones, was a very special sandwich.

Truly, truly this was a kick arse sanga. Two pieces of dark rye sourdough with just the right amount of chew, Gouda cheese sliced thinly over and over to form a wall of delicate cheese. Prosciutto also sliced thinly due to its strong salty taste, meaning more of tasty hint, rather than a starring role. (There was to be no starring roles here, it was all about entwined flavours within the sandwich with no competition of flavours.)

On one side the subtle mayonnaise, creamy with a kick of tartness and just enough to lubricate each mouthful to reach the perfect level of taste bud comfort. The pickle…ahh, the pickle. The pickle really could have been a stand alone star, but here it had been relegated to sit amongst the layered slices. A fat pickle now cut into wedges of which were the perfect length for said sandwich. Not falling out of your sandwich at every bite as some substandard pickles will do.

Add in a forkful or two of locally made kimchi, and there you had it. Some lunch time goodness not usually seen at this level (for various lazy reasons.)

Nothing more, nothing less. The inside workings of a sandwich like this, are often those ingredients forgotten to backs of fridges, relegated to the condiment list, or perhaps hastily slapped together in methods that didn’t allow for the sandwich song to be heard. Not today though, oh no. Sing it did. All the way from the first mouthful, to the very last. Each bite a perfect distracting chew.

I had long since given in.

There was no computer work to be done now. Full attention was going to be given to this wonderous (and easily manipulated in one hand) lunch time goodness. It will was a distracting sandwich.

An assortment of delicious fillings

rye sourdough

prosciutto

gouda cheese

mayonnaise

pickles

tomato

kimchi

Documenting Life

Light catching your son’s dinner. The steam absolutely mesmerizing as you know it will last fleetingly, just as that particular tilt of the afternoon sun will do.

Friends stopping to chat. Really chat.

Seed saving. Slowly wrinkling up, ready for storing, ready for growing another day.

Tiny exhaling pauses in the week.

Surprise coffee and cake spent with people who make you laugh.

Long deep talks with strangers who make you think long after the conversation ends.

Sourdough fruit loaf, which was supposed to be panettone, but when it came to the crunch you simply decide there are other things to do in life and you really… just couldn’t be buggered.

Gardening that makes the crooks of your elbows sweat. Not the regular kind of things you usually take note of, but you are today as it’s a kinda documenting life day.

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it- FERRIS BUELLER