Tess of the D’urbervilles – Part 1

Getting all literary now. I read Tess of the D’urbervilles years ago and found it one of the most frustrating novels ever. Probably because I hadn’t read any other Thomas Hardy novels! Anyway, frustration was the impression I took away from it, but lately I’ve revisited the novel by listening to an audiobook version. The story is still as frustrating as ever, but I never realised how beautiful the prose is. I’m a huge fan of lyrical novels and Hardy’s descriptions of the landscapes and lifestyle of rural 19th Century Dorset, like this passage from Chapter 24:

Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Froom Vale, at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were impregnated by their surroundings.

July passed over their heads, and the Thermidorean weather which came in its wake seemed an effort on the part of Nature to match the state of hearts at Talbothays Dairy. The air of the place, so fresh in the spring and early summer, was stagnant and enervating now. Its heavy scents weighed upon them, and at mid-day the landscape seemed lying in a swoon. Ethiopic scorchings browned the upper slopes of the pastures, but there was still bright green herbage here where the watercourses purled. And as Clare was oppressed by the outward heats, so was he burdened inwardly by waxing fervour of passion for the soft and silent Tess.

Actually, I think I’ve appreciated the novel more by listening to the audiobook. The narrator Peter Firth is very good, bringing to life not just the lyrical parts but also the varied accents of its characters.

Yum Cha – Part 1

Haven’t been to yum cha in ages, so I was quite excited to go to Zilver for my fix. Yum cha, the Cantonese art of taking tea and assorted morsels, has really been embraced by Sydneysiders of all backgrounds. I was really surprised by the variety of clientele – Western and Asian families, couples, girly catch-ups, even what looked like the beginnings of an Aussie boys bucks day out.

This dish, har gow, is a staple. It’s a steamed dumpling of prawn wrapped in rice paper. Simplicity itself.

Har gow

Fields of Lavender

I’ve always been enchanted by photos of southern France that feature rows and rows of lavender, but having only ever passed through the area, I’ve never actually seen anything like it. Until I went to Bridestowe Estate, that is.

Bridestowe Lavender Farm

I visited just before the lavender’s at their best, but it was good enough for me. One could mistaken the scene for the south of France, what with the ochre soil and undulating hills. It makes for a picturesque picnic spot, that’s for sure.

Fields of purple

Bay of Fires

Had yum cha with some friends today (I will post the photos from this soon). One of them was planning to go to Tasmania in the summer holidays and asked for suggestions of where to go. It brings to mind the visit I made to the Bay of Fires in the north east corner of Tassie.

Bay of Fires

I read somewhere that it was rated one of the best beaches in the world. I can’t disagree too much in terms of sheer beauty.

Binalong Bay

The sand is gloriously white, the water a turquoise blue, which contrasts nicely with the rust-coloured lichen on the rocks and the gum tree covered hills. The only thing not in its favour is that it’s not the warmest of places in the world. I swam in early December and the water was freezing.

Bay of Fires seascape

Secret Places – Oatley Park

It’s funny how places really close to home often get ignored. Well, I’m posting about somewhere really close to home now. Oatley Park is a very well-kept secret to those who live in and around the St George area of Sydney. It’s a little peninsula of pristine bushland on the banks of the Georges River. I often went here when I lived in nearby Mortdale to walk the 40 minute track around the park.

Oatley Park Track

It also has a netted swimming area that’s popular with the kids during summer and a jetty to fish on.

Oatley Baths Laneway
Georges River Diving

It’s also fascinating to see the changes in the bush from season to season – the flannel flower flowering, the bark peeling off the gum trees…

Jetty post Bark detail Summer flowers

And the Christmas bush in bloom at, well, Christmas.

About Christmas

Undercliff and Overcliff

The Wentworth Falls area is criss-crossed by walking tracks. I hadn’t been on the Undercliff walk before and used it to get from the top of the falls to Princes Rock Lookout. It’s a fun little track that winds its way in and out of overhangs.

Undercliff Walk Undercliff Walk

Princes Rock Lookout is probably the best in the area as it juts out into the valley, giving a real bird’s eye view of things.

Jamieson Valley Jamieson Valley

I also got a look of just how many steps I’d climbed that day.

Stair overview


The discovery of the meal was salt and pepper eggplant. It was absolutely delish. The batter was light and not too oily or salty. The eggplant inside was soft and gooey. All in all, very more-ish. Pity that the waiter was over enthusiastic in disposing of it at the end of the meal or I could’ve enjoyed it for a bit more at home.

Salt and pepper eggplant