On the Reno Part 9

October 23, 2016 - 8:02 pm 22 Comments

Where do you put several thousand books?

I mentioned that the larger room in the front of the house—one of the original  rooms—was very large. Probably too big for a bedroom. Yet I wanted a guest bedroom. The other problem that needed solving was what to do with the thousands of books I’d brought from Brisbane, books that have been collected over a lifetime. Though it’s not fashionable these days to collect books, there are enough bibliophiles left in the world who still love them, to feel vindicated by what I wanted to do. People who love the smell and feel of books, who write marginalia in them, or who merely read the thoughts of others before them that are left in the margins. Before I’d arrived in Victoria I had parted company with many more books than I’d brought with me, so there’d been a cull. The few thousand I’d bought were therefore definitely my favourite books (give or take one or two that may have sneaked in somehow as a result of moving-fatigue). Anyway these books have languished in boxes for months with my increasing feeling of frustration for not being able to access them at times when they were needed. For instance, without my bird books I haven’t been able yet to properly identify the glorious little creatures that chirp and flit around in my garden. But this dilemma is about to end. My elder daughter is a fellow bibliophile who has an excellent collection of her own books. She is also a writer and an artist. Utilising this last talent, she drew a picture of the big front room with bookshelves arranged around a bed.

Now I’ve quibbled about pictures always being worth a thousand words, and here is a classic example. These pictures simply do not do justice to the reality. But here they are anyway. For your delectation. It’s true I still haven’t decided on a bed to go in that big space under the middle row of shelves, or organised the lighting, but these decisions will be made as things are starting to fall naturally into place. Remember, this all happened in a single working week, with repairs to walls, floor, skirting boards and cornices. Even the enormous, old-fashioned sash windows which had previously been painted shut, may now be opened. 20161023_reno_107220161023_reno_1080

Strangely, for this wasn’t the  original intention, the shelving against the original tongue-in-groove walls gives the room a Japanese look. Another room—or large hallway —in the house has a  similar Japanese feel about its design. This is where the last owner had mounted flattened T-chests on one of the walls. It sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? However I will photograph it and you can see for yourself. The best of Japanese art and design tends to be understated and elegant. I love this wall and have left it pretty much as it was when I found it, apart from painting around the edges, the ceiling, skirting boards, etc.

Watch this space.

Not quite winter’s end, the garden is stirring in Victoria.

August 28, 2016 - 1:27 pm 2 Comments
The yellow blooms of this bush were here right through the winter, where many others were of course, missing.

The yellow blooms of this bush were here right through the winter, where many others were of course, missing.

But the divine passiflora, Australian native passion fruit, does not like the cold

But the divine passiflora, Australian native passion fruit, does not like the cold

As you can see.

As you can see.



Sandcliffe Writers Festival 2014 Programme

August 13, 2014 - 10:00 am 1 Comment




2013 Music by the Sea Festival at Sandgate

January 18, 2013 - 10:52 am 2 Comments

Music by the Sea Festival 2013 at Sandgate.

There has been something of a transformation in Sandgate from the sleepy little Brisbane bayside suburb with the summer breezes, to that of an entirely thrilling venue for music of international standard.

The brainchild of Mr Zoli Mauritz, Music by the Sea started some years ago and has gathered  momentum by the  extraordinary talent it has consistently presented over the years, to become an important  place on the musical map for seriously good—even great—music. Sunday, 13th January was an example.The final item on the program was a selection of the contemporary work of Elena Kats-Chernin, who has garnered worldwide recognition and respect for her compositions. The composer herself appeared on the stage of the Sandgate Townhall with one of the world’s finest pianists, Tamara Anna Cislowska. Not only was this ensuing musical feast mindblowing, it was very enthusiastically received by the audience, many of whom had savoured something of Kats-Chernin’s music last September, at that time played by the redoubtable Acacia Quartet. Before the composer appeared on stage, the excitement in Sandgate’s recently refurbished, airconditioned hall was palpable,and after it, Sandgate seemed that little bit more sophisticated for having hosted such a remarkable event.

One of the unique charms of the Sandgate venue is the fact that unlike concerts presented by the big-city theatre organisers like QPAC, the audience and the artists mingle. In one of the breaks between performances, I was chatting to a rather beautiful young Hungarian woman about how the Kodaly method is taught in some (but sadly not all) Australian schools from Grade One. She apologised for her poor English. I hastened to tell her that her English is not at all poor, but in fact beautifully enunciated and quite charming. She said she had only been learning English for a year and apologised again. Then, an hour or so later, this same young woman, apppeared on stage, transformed into the glamorous Judit Molnar, looking a little like a mermaid in her long golden dress, to sing some liede of Franz Schubert. Her voice is pure, beautifully modulated and powerful. Her highest notes are as good as the best I’ve heard, and rather better than most. Her Ave Maria allowed us to soar to Heaven with her. You’ll have to ask Zoli for her to come back to Sandgate to appear in another of his concerts if you were one of the unfortunates who missed out on hearing her this weekend, or even if, like me, you’ve possibly become addicted to the proposition of hearing her again. Look her up on her website (Judit Molnar soprano) and hear her sing Lehar’s “Velia, the Witch of the Woods,” and tell me that she isn’t magnificent.