Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sewing is a lost pleasure

I adore walking into a fabric store and wandering around in a kaleidoscopic world of colour, texture and pattern. It is such a tactile experience and I cannot resist fondling the linens and delicate silks, the colourful cottons and fine wools, fingering them, stroking their softness and enjoying the sensuous feel as the fabric slides across my fingers. I can dawdle for hours whilst imagining the fabulous outfits I might create.

I recently visited what was once a favourite central Brisbane fabric store, Gardams and came away very sad. It was such a small store with so few selections of fabrics and accessories that I doubt I will go in there again. I googled the name to see what had happened to the business and I gather there is a larger store at Indooroopilly so perhaps in fairness I will have to visit it, but I am not sure I could stand it. I think it will be like visiting a beloved relative who is slipping into old age and has lost their sharpness and acuity.

I still sew the occasional garment, but perhaps looking at the downsizing of both Gardams and Lincraft others do not. Are we buying all our clothes ready made and is this a skill that is being lost rather than being handed down from one generation to another? I know one of my daughters sews, but I don’t think either of the other two do, or my daughter’s-in-law or sons other than to sew on a button. I think they are missing out on such a creative and fun activity; I remember the hours of fun in browsing the pattern books dreaming of what I might make, then selecting the fabric and then the pride when I had actually made a garment that I enjoyed wearing.   The simple pleasure of fabric with its colours, pattern and feel is something I will never forget.

Brisbane’s Cove

I am looking at Brisbane trying to see it through new eyes and was pleasantly surprised at the dining precinct called Cove on Southbank.

There is an intimate and inviting grassy amphitheatre beside the river girdled by white terracing that resembles the ribs of a beached whale. We watched today as small children met the challenge of heights to jump down, whilst others launched themselves from the hard surface to race each other on their bikes across the grass towards the riverbank.  This delightful ‘cove’ is overlooked by a series of restaurants offering a variety of food styles.

We went there today to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary.  At this time of year it was the perfect outdoor setting, under an umbrella, on the pavement watching the world go by. I will be intrigued to see how the architecture copes with Brisbane’s extremes of hot weather, tropical downpours and winter as it has a high roof and what appears to be a smallish enclosed area for cooling or heating. I’ll use it as a good excuse to revisit this dining precinct, which provides some lovely and delicious food.

There aren’t many restaurants in Brisbane where you can sit and watch the river life and judging by the number of people eating out in the three venues currently open I think others are as enthused as I am.

A new kitchen and another connection to tie me down.

What do you think about when you are awake in the middle of the night? For me, it was the happy exercise of how to renovate my house in which I hadn’t lived for 5 years and what to plant in the very neglected garden. I don’t think I ever got to finish these thoughts before I would go to sleep.

This is the kitchen which had many happy meals prepared in it. Note of course the vegemite jar.

Now, back in Brisbane, those dreams are becoming a reality. It wasn’t a grotty kitchen just tired and showing its 15 years.

Well the planning and installation of that new kitchen are almost finished, just awaiting a couple of pieces of glass on the splash back to complete the glamorous version of my dreams. I was amazed at how quickly a kitchen can be dismantled. I had over 5 workmen, including electricians and plumbers pulling out cupboards and sink.

Removing the kitchen cupboards

This is the image of all these fellows beavering away.One day to pull it out, one day to put the frame in, and then a wait for 2 weeks before the doors and drawers were installed.

The dislocation and irritation of having to wash out of a tub in the bathroom, and have the food and groceries sitting on every available horizontal surface for a fortnight was minor in the scale of things. To add to the mess, we also pulled down the wall surrounding the stairwell and had the sideboard and pine kitchen table resurfaced.

Just occasionally a small niggling thought crept into my mind that Andy believes if he gives me a lovely kitchen it will induce me to stay in Brisbane. Not that he would admit this of course, as he just says that ‘a good cook deserves a decent workplace’. Cunning and perhaps he reckons it is worth the investment. I think this is emotional blackmail although I acknowledge that the Zug induction cook-top and steam oven are fabulous pieces of equipment and a pleasure to use.

"No, I won't go out in the rain."

Despite my intentions of not being tied down to living in Brisbane how could I say no to my son and his Bengal cat, Colin.

Colin was intended to be company for my daughter-in-law while her husband was on an overseas posting for 5 months but this kitten hadn’t been schooled in the traditional characteristics of his breed and would dig his claws into any hand that came near him. We blame it on a ‘troubled’ kittenhood.  Tolerance levels and band aid supplies having been depleted, and with no medical cover for skin grafts, Colin was despatched to live with a friend in Brisbane who had already adopted one of my Burmese while lived in London. It soon became obvious that despite his bolshy adolescence, Colin was no match for a tiny grand-dame of 15 years who was not about to let just any fellow sleep with her mistress. Poor Colin again found himself searching for a home.

He moved in with our daughter for a couple of weeks and found, absolute bliss, she didn’t mind sharing her bed with a hairy beast that came and went in the middle of the night, but her professional lifestyle includes three or four days per week out of the country which meant that Colin was again living in a locked up unit.  Thus within two days of our arriving back in Australia, Colin arrived on the doorstep.

Bengals like to drink from running water, but I draw the line at a cat drinking from my bath, so I have invested in a seriously expensive water fountain, which he refuses to use. We have reached a situation where Colin sits in the bath, sans water, looking pitifully at the spout, miaowing gently until I eventually give in and turn it on. I have however, noticed dirty paw prints in front of the fountain which indicates that this stubborn cat might be using or at least contemplating a possible drinking alternative to dying of thirst in our recent 30 degree days.