A Daily Gift

Datchett Street

There’s a street I walk down regularly that is like entering a magical mystery tour. Every time I turn off Darling St, Balmain into Datchett St it’s like entering another world. The houses are mostly weatherboard cottages, built in the 1840’s and the street quickly narrows to a stone laneway that descends towards the harbour down a steep hill. It is always quiet. A creative enclave that has views of the harbour filtered through the lush greenery. It’s in the middle of Sydney’s inner west, a densely populated, urban environment, but it always conjures up a small seaside town ambience.

Walking down this street always unleashes the creative child in me as I imagine stories and adventures that have filled these cottages. The shoes that have trodden the old and worn stones before mine. It’s a daily gift for a writer.

And that hill is steep, far more pleasurable to amble leisurely down, taking in the view, than to huff and puff upwards.

Stone Soul Therapy - the best facials in town.


Write on Wednesday

The Write On Wednesday Rules: Feel free to get creative with the writing exercises – there isn’t a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment. You can grab the button for Write On Wednesdays from my sidebar.

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 11 – Take a Walk: “Come back home and write what you encountered. Try to write so that your sentences feel the way the walking felt.” Let’s toss the 5 minute sprint aside this week and instead take a lingering stroll through our exercise. Participants are encouraged to write a first draft (the point being to get it out on the page), then to go through and edit their piece before posting. We’re aiming to get from one place to another, taking the reader with us – economically, gracefully, elegantly. 
Perhaps start with the usual stream of consciousness exercise if you are having trouble getting started. But then stop and take a look. Edit your sentences and try to get them “feeling” the way your walk felt.

This may seem challenging. But remember, as always, try to enjoy the exercise. Post what you can and rise to the challenge. After all, that’s what we have to do if we want to write and write well.

Special thanks to Karen at the rhythm method for the suggestion and to Gill, as always, for hosting Write on Wednesday over at inkpaperpen.


As I seem to be on a roll with Carol, I’ve continued with her story & decided to interpret the challenge rather broadly. I’ve thought about my walk, the pace, the punctuations, interruptions  and pauses, the distractions and tried to weave that into a fictional piece. My walk took me along Darling St, Balmain, at a fairly leisurely, relaxed pace to begin with but as I hit the main shopping area, there were traffic lights,  other pedestrians to avoid and windows to browse. And finally, a front door closing on my destination.



Carol felt like a cat on a window sill. The warmth of the winter sun was washing over her as the water whooshed beneath the wooden deck. Her eyes were closed, her breath slow, steady, taking in the scent of salt and coffee. There was a lightness, almost floating, as if outside her body. The chatter of the other diners as inconsequential and distant as the seagulls squabbling over a tasty morsel of toasted focaccia. To be like this, suspended in this moment as comfortable and comforting as a mother’s embrace.

‘You ready to order?’

Carol jumped. Jarred by the demand of the young waitress. The girl’s dyed auburn  hair was pulled into one of those messy side ponytails they all seemed to wear. The front of her tatty grey t-shirt was tucked into the front of her jeans. The rest left to hang limply over the washed out skinny jeans. Tight enough to give you a yeast infection, Carol thought, no wonder she’s so rude.

Carol lowered her head so she could peer at the young waitress  above her sunglasses. Her eyes slowly flicked over the younger woman like a judge at a cat show. ‘No, I’m still not ready to order. My friend still hasn’t arrived.’ Carol was smiling at the carefully dishevelled waitress, but each ‘still’ spat like sausage fat in a pan.

‘It’s just we get busy at lunch.’ The waitress tapped her pen on her thumbnail. Tap, tap,tap, tap, tap.

Carol wondered if it was code for the chef: Spit in the soup of the day, now.

A hand rested on her shoulder, a kiss brushed her cheek.

‘Sorry I’m late gorgeous. Military Rd. Nightmare.’

‘Ginny, darling, you can never be too late.’

‘I’m starving,’ said Ginny as she scooped up the laminated menu, slid into her chair and plonked her chocolate Longchamps tote on the table. All in one singularly fluid move, much like her life had been until Terry had so inelegantly chosen to die of cancer. ‘You ordered yet?’

The waitress snorted and stalked off.

‘What’s wrong with her?’ Ginny asked.

Carol shrugged, ‘Yeast infection.’


The Rock Star Baker

On the main shopping street of my suburb there’s a hole-in-the-wall patissier  specializing in sourdough breads, quiches, traditional French Pastries, the most wonderful sweet pastries and melt-in-your-mouth macarons.


the shop of guilty pleasure

We used to wander up on weekends and choose our bread and pastries at our indulgent leisure, without any hassle. Then along came the TV show, Masterchef, and Adriano Zumbo became the Rock Star of the Dessert. Now we don’t bother going on the weekends because the queues are too long.  Our secret, guilty pleasure has become a weekday quickie.

a short Saturday queue

Not that his pastries aren’t worth queuing for, they’re absolutely delectable. And don’t think you’re going to find a cream bun, neenish tart or vanilla slice. Not only do they not look like any other pastry you’ve seen, they have wonderfully witty names. A raspberry tart becomes, Weekend at the Cross, or the chocolate-based, Zumbo-the-Kid, Quiche Sue is a scrumptious blueberry and  goat’s cheese recipe.

the macaron box

In my efforts to bring authenticity to this post, I thought it was necessary to actually purchase some pastries and macarons on your behalf. So today, I’d like to share with you, What a Great Pear – a choux pastry, pear and vanilla creme patissier, almond crunch, pear mousse, pera gel, chocolate square and marzipan. Yes that is one pastry.

the pear, the yuzu & the macarons

And Yuzu No A Nothing – a macaron, caramelized pineapple, vanilla creameux, Yuzu crème legere.

mmm.... which to have first

And of course his famous macarons, today’s flavours are liquorice, a chocolate-dipped Lucky Dip, pandan, blackcurrant, butterscotch caramel and the seasonal mandarin.

It’s been a tough assignment (I did have to walk up in the cold drizzle), and I think I’ve earned a cup of tea and the pandan macaron. Or maybe the butterscotch caramel.

You can find the original shop on Darling St, Balmain.

Punch Gallery

Punch Gallery

I love this shop. It has a wonderful collection of elegant, if slightly off beat jewellery and homewares always beautifully displayed in glass cabinets and a window display that  reminds me of Christmas all year round. And when it is Christmas, it’s a wonderland of lights and decorations that reminds me of Regent St London.

My older daughters, 23 and 21, love the jewellery and the cluttered ambience and my youngest would love to smudge her fingers across all that sparkling glass, but I have learnt this is not a shop to take a 4 year old into.

I walk past this shop many a times a week, and I always look in the windows with a smile, especially at night when it glitters.

If you’re in Sydney, it’s on Darling St, Balmain, just down from the Curtis Rd roundabout and a brief stroll away from my favourite cafe, The Little Marionette.