Saturday, August 28, 2010

At the Craft Market

I've just got back from the St. Kilda craft market. I'd been a bit upset about the loss of my favourite brooch, my silver brolgas brooch — I'd last worn it two weeks ago in Sydney at the Romance Writers of Australia national conference, and when I'd taken my jacket to be drycleaned, the brooch wasn't on it. I phoned everywhere I'd been in Sydney, but no luck, and since I'd bought it some years ago at the St. Kilda craft market, I thought I'd see if I could get another one.

I was almost ready to leave when I went to put on my earrings, and lo! there was the brooch, in the bowl with my earrings. I must have removed it on auto-pilot when I got home and not recalled it at all.

Still, the morning was brilliantly sunny so I decided to head down to the market anyway.  My time at the beach in Sydney had spoiled me and I wanted to see the sea again — I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky — she says, channelling Dad, who used to quote poems at the drop of a hat — that one's Sea Fever by John Masefield, one of his faves.

Despite the bright sun and brilliant blue sky, it was chilly -- 10 C -- and I got there early enough for most stalls to be just setting up so I wandered off and bought a coffee at the The Europa Cafe — St. Kilda is renowned for great cake and coffee shops in the European tradition— where I resisted the delicious fragrance of fresh-baked cakes and chocolate and stuck to one small coffee.

I took it to the beach and basked in the sun with the sound of waves on one side and seagulls and rainbow lorikeets in the palm trees above me.  Seagulls are noisy, pushy brats, but I love lorikeets. They cluster in my flowering gum tree every morning chirruping and squawking happily, and each summer they descend on my plum tree and steal my plums, but I don't mind. There's something magical about them, and I'm not sure whether it's the drought or the bushfires or simply a result of more people planting native trees and bushes in the city, but I've been seeing a lot more lorikeets and other native birds lately.

Anyway, back to the market. It's a mix of crafts, some junky and not to my taste, others beautiful. Prices range from a few dollars to thousands — I saw one gorgeous silver bracelet for $1200 and a beautiful pair of gold sea-urchin earrings for more than $1000.  I  shopped at the cheaper end of the scale. I bought a couple of lovely pewter brooches and a pair of earrings, and despite my intention of not buying anything for the house — I'm planning to renovate and am supposed to be getting rid of stuff, not acquiring it — I was also tempted to buy this gorgeous glass dish.  I congratulate myself on not buying one of the hand-turned wooden bowls — I have a weakness for beautiful wooden bowls and spoons.

I do love markets, especially craft markets that sell lovely things. Do you?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

At Coogee

I'm just back from the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney. This year it was at Coogee Beach, a location I'm very fond of. My writing group have been on retreat there for the last two years, and we've come to love it. I blogged about our retreat last March on WordWenches, so if you want to read more, go here. Mind you, it's not hard to love Coogee — a gorgeous beach, lovely accommodation and dozens of good restaurants and eating places.

The hotel is just over the road from the beach, and I had a balcony room, high up, so this was my view.

Even though it was winter, it was so warm I slept every night with my big glass sliding door wide open, and I fell asleep to the sound of pounding surf, and woke to this.

The  second day the surf was spectacular, with waves crashing on the rocks and spurting upward. I had only a cheap pocket camera with me and couldn't catch the splashes, but even so, some of the photos give you an idea of what it was like.

 I'd started brainstorming with my friend, Barbara Hannay, but the warm, fresh, blowy weather lured us out and we walked up to the bluff, almost to Clovelly. Barbara has a slideshow on her blog.

This is the view looking back toward the hotel. The hotel is the big white building in the top right-hand corner of the picture.

One of the nicest things happened on our last night at Coogee. Up until that point, we'd eaten virtually all meals at the conference, or at a place chosen by our publisher (thank you Harlequin Australia) but on the last night we organized whoever was left to go to our favorite Italian restaurant, La Spiaggia, for dinner. 

We love it for two reasons — firstly, the food is excellent and it's a really friendly place. Secondly, the first time we went there, two years ago when we were doing our first Coogee writing retreat, Jess, our waitress, turned out to be a writer, too, and we bonded. The second time we went back, there she was again, and we talked about agents and things like that, so we were hoping she'd be there again, and we could catch up on how things were going for her. 

This time when we went in, we were a bit disappointed to see she wasn't there, but the food was fabulous and we had a lovely meal anyway. Then the barman came over and asked if I was Anne Gracie. Bemused, I admitted I was, and he said Jess would like to buy us a drink. She still worked there, but not on Sunday nights, and the guys had phoned her to let her know we were there. Even better news, she'd sold the book she'd talked to us about in March! Isn't that wonderful? We were all so thrilled. It was the final fabulous touch to a great meal and a lovely weekend. 

Thank you Jess! My first taste of Sambuca, and it won't be my last. And I can't wait to buy the book. We'll be back to Coogee and La Spiaggia, and next time we'll be buying the drinks.