Dear loyal following (hi mum)...I'm back! Back in Australia, and back on the blog with some pretty fragments of broken plastic.

My 6-yr old and I like to collect stuff: shiny, small, precious or unusual bits that we find in junk shops, in the play park and sometimes just on the pavement.

This weekend we went camping on Stradbroke Island (about 30mins by ferry just east of Brisbane). We had a beautiful spot meters from Cylinder Beach where we braved the intermittent rain, and rejoiced (with gin) that the forecast 2am-7am storm had vanished from the radar. 

Before catching our early evening ferry home on Sunday we walked over the rocks, past cresting dolphins, to Deadman's Beach where we found squeaky white sand, crystal clear water and many, many tiny splinters of colourful plastic knitted into the grassy bank fringing the cove. While I was dismayed at the density of the waste, my son quietly whooped each time he found a new shade of turquoise or the most rare of peach tones; beach refuse delights the magpie in him. In minutes my hands were overflowing with a rainbow of rubbish.


Whilst some of the ocean's debris comes from sea-based sources, the majority in Australia is local. Let's not spoil this paradise on our doorstep Australia. 

I'll be handing out high-fives when Dutch inventor and UN's 'Champion of the Earth' (enviable title), Boyan Slat's Ocean Clean Up project is up and running.

In an attempt to turn our garbage-collector frowns upside down, we decided to make our finds into a piece of artwork, to remind the boys to put rubbish where it belongs.



I'm a bit late to the party; I only started instagramming in January. 2015.

Pretty much all I knew about Instagram, is that it was a visual networking tool, and had been told that as someone in the creative industry with a lot of visual goodness to hand, I should definitely get on board and start sharing. Every time this came up, I wondered whether I really had time to add another social media hole to my belt.

In January we packed up and departed dear Sydney after two years, for a road trip around south west Australia, on our way back to England. It's hard to put into words just what it was we fell for during our time in Oz, difficult to pin point; something about the light and the big skies, the fierce ocean, the sparsity of the population, the down-to-earth warmth of the people and the sense of opportunity and optimism. As our flight took off and over the following months I experienced a profound sense of loss at leaving it all behind.

It was at this time that I started instagramming regularly, really taking notice of beauty every day, in whichever form, whatever I was doing. I wanted to capture it, and be consciously thankful for it all.

Not only have my eyes been opened to what immediately surrounds me, but Instagram also presents me with a constantly updated portfolio-in-my-pocket of inspiration and artistry, generated by the people I follow.

Six months on I am delighted to have built up this precious album, a visual diary documenting my memorable everyday. Instagram has filled a hole I didn't know was there, and contrary to my concerns, it takes but a moment to partake; an instant, if you will.



We're currently between sofas. I joyfully smashed our old (and broken) sofa into splinters with an axe before we left for Sydney (highly recommend to relieve continent-moving stress), and we freecycled our Australian sofa before we moved back here last month. In the interim we're enjoying the enormity of a living room with no furniture in it. It allows us the space to do this.

This Christmas, my thoughtful sister gifted the boys this set of components from Makedo (essentially a set of short zip-ties with securing discs, and hinges), for building a cardboard house. She foresaw that we would have an abundance of boxes following our relocation, and it has proved to be the perfect present.

Progress using the 'child-friendly saw' included in the kit, was slower than slow, so I whipped out my rusty stanley knife and we were away. Safety first. In fact the kit was so easy and speedy to use that we were tripping over ourselves in our haste to attach panel after panel, room after room. It was excellent fun, and the results, while not particularly polished, could not be more satisfying.

If asked for my thoughts on the key to a successful cardboard house, I would encourage you to consider the following:

    1) Include multiple access points for fast chases in, out and through.
    2) Cut in a variety of light-sources/windows to minimise claustrophobia.
    3) Make sure there is a flow through the interior space to prevent traffic jams.
    4) Construct a sturdy structure to increase the life-span of the house.
    5) Leave part of the roof untethered (to rescue folk in high-octane situations).

Please note: yellow zip ties in the photos are not part of the Makedo kit. Our ambition slightly exceeded the number of components included, so we had to employ common-or-garden zip ties to fill in.



I thought it would be fun to create a completely different kind of wreath this year from the kind I normally make. Previously, green, lush and piney, with pops of colour or a smattering of white, has been my thing, but while still in Oz, I decided gum was the way to go.

A few weeks ago during a mighty storm, some large branches (half a tree) of an elderly gum tree broke off at the Green next to our flat. We noticed them the next morning, hanging dramatically from up high, and before the whole lot was wrapped in red tape and carted off by the council, the boys and I snuck down and broke off some choice lengths, with a view to making our Australian wreath. It didn't take long for it to dry out and it's now a dusty, gnarly silver-green, mottled and quite beautiful.

I wound a dinnerplate-sized circle out of heavy wire, and bound it in place with fine wire, then gradually added the dried gum branches, tying them in with invisible fishing cable. Finally I wove in the dried gazania heads from the garden.

Et voila! It's a joy to have around.



This time last year, our retired-science-teacher-neighbour, showed my fascinated children empty cicada shells clinging to gum trees next to the house, explaining that as a child, she would collect them, spray them gold and put them on the Christmas tree. I smiled sweetly, telling the boys what a lovely idea that was, all the while delighting in the fact that we were bound for England in a matter of days, for the whole of December, and would therefore never have to contemplate bringing the discarded bodies into our home.

Flash forward to a month ago; "Mum! Mummmmm!! Look how many cicadas we've collected for the tree this year! We've got a whole box!". Yay.

I forgot (couldn't bare) to take a 'before' photo so have borrowed this one from Steve Creek. This is what they look like when you find their hollow, molted skins, eerily static.

After peering at a pile of these through the side of a tupperware for a number of weeks, I finally relented and they received their luxe makeover yesterday.

They now cling incongruously to the boys' 90cm plastic tree, with a selection of Oz (as in, Return To) baubles and ribbons to detract from the poised insects. While I might have dreamt of something rather more beautiful for our Australian tree, the boys have never been more enchanted. Qué será.

Haaaaappy Advent!