Bonfire of Insanities…

Bonfire of Insanities…

Tell me you missed me. I missed me!!

You must all be thinking I dropped off the perch and you’d be right, I did. But I did for a good reason and now I’m back and I’ve got some news for y’all.

You know how I keep going on about how I don’t know what kind of a blogger I really am? Travel? Lifestyle? Farmer? General Guru on anything and nothing?… Well, I’ve decided to formalise my undecidedness by starting a new website that doesn’t pretend to be just the one thing.


And you know what I’ve called it?

I’m not just the one thing – I like to be all over the shop. So now when you want to read farm stuff, that’s all that will be about and the rest of my ramblings will spill over onto my other site.

It’s almost ready.

When it is properly ready (ie, when I finish doing what the queen of all things internet, Jenna Black, has told me to do so that she can fire it up), you will be the first to know and you can, if you so choose, subscribe to the site in addition to SoCo. I hope you do. I hope you don’t just abandon me out there in cyberspace talking only to myself because let’s face it, that would be embarrassing. And lonely. And who said tragic??

The new site will be a combination of blog posts, commentary, and some more creative stuff to tickle your fancy, should you require any fancy tickling. In particular, I have been working on a collection of short stories that take their inspiration from innocent people who frequent cafes only to be analysed by yours truly. No – I don’t talk to them, badger them with a thousands questions, listen in to their conversations… (well maybe a little bit of the latter…)

Meret Oppenheim

Meret Oppenheim, Object. 1936. Courtesy of MoMa.                                                             She had some surreal ideas in a cafe too….


I watch them, I make my own mind up as to who they are and what their story is, and I write about it in story form. What? You think that’s not fair?? I don’t publish names, no photographs are involved, and no one is harmed in the process of my fabricating their life story and publishing it. It is completely anonymous, made-up, crap-ola inspired by complete strangers. It’s Claytons gossip.

The series is called The Teaspoon Chronicles – stirring stuff to entertain you over a cup of coffee – at home, or sitting in a cafe, or maybe even in the safety of your hermetically sealed bolt hole. I can’t see you in there….

I hope you’re going to like them – they’re going to published weekly on the new site and then of course by Pan MacMillan and then I’ll win the Booker Prize and sign a multi million dollar contract and J.K.Rowling can eat my dust… Jokes.

Back to reality.

I’m sitting right now in my kitchen breathing in the duel waft of heater smells and jonquils – ah, Winter, you do so treat me with your wonders and batter me with your chill. I’m battered, people. I’m over the cold. I’m especially over Facebook and instagram because I think every person I know has gone somewhere warm just to tease me. I’m the only one left here to tough it out in thermals.


Yeah…thanks for coming…


Not that there’s been any snow in NSW – how cruel is that for all those other people who have deserted my neighbourhood for Thredbo to go…. grass skiing? By the sounds of things, the snow is arriving right about now, when everyone with kids has to go home.. . What is that about??

Oh there’s so much to whinge about.

I won’t go near the State of Origin – we’re all over that conversation, except to say that as it turns out, it’s all about states and nothing about mates. In my experience, mates don’t grind your face into the pitch of Suncorp Stadium. Actually, lets face it – they’re enemies and we should all boycott Queensland. They can take their sunshine state and stick it where the sun don’t shine – which is currently not Thredbo, which is very sunny, so keep looking….

But I will say, as an All Black supporter (or should I say DISCIPLE) and a Hurricanes compatriot (there’s anther conversation we’re not having), I would have really appreciated a win on Wednesday night because it is one of few opportunities I get to go for the same team as my husband and kids. I am usually denied that pleasure because they go – of course – for the Wallabies and the Warratahs.

Ok I’m bailing.

Let’s get back to the delights of winter.

When we were doing the big reno on the SoCo homestead, we seemed to amass great piles of dead things. Not snakes or spiders, as I would have hoped, but rather, green matter. I’m talking the odd tree, the odd awful dog house that looked more like a torture chamber, bits of building timber, just general, burnable junk.

When large piles of burnable junk sit for long enough in your paddocks looking rubbishy, and you have a husband with a new chainsaw and penchant for starting fires, a still winter day can take a sinister turn.


It started on Sunday morning. Not a breath of wind, just a big, wide open sky that screamed to someone-not-me, ‘let’s get SMOkin’…’ Up he got, downed his brekky, and off he went to the shed.

Now, I’m all for the man-shed mandate. Everyone needs their own space where they can surround themselves with all their stuff and fart with impunity. A shed is the perfect solution – the further from the house the better, especially if one’s wife has very good hearing. But the downside is that sometimes, ideas can be had and then developed down there in the shed without full and frank discussions being had back at HQ.

When there is a rural property involved, this unfettered decision making solo can extend to and not be limited by the purchase of certain equipment – AKA boys toys. This situation is further exacerbated by competition from unlikely places – ie, when a bloke has a brother in law who has also recently bought a farm and is getting busy in his own shed buying up half the hardware stock in all of Australia.


Get my drift??


We’re talking ride-ons, tractors, spray units, mulchers, the full range of hand tools ever created starting back at the Stone Age. Chemicals, storage ‘solutions’, lawn mowers and whipper snippers, axes, rakes, hoes, brooms, buckets, spades, seeds, fertilisers, oh my god, you name it, we got it.

Anyone want to buy a second hand cool room???!!!

Then there’s the newest toy – the chainsaw.


Now don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the practicality of having all of this (cool room going cheap), and have no problem with the accumulation and curation of our very own Bunnings. But what I do have a problem with, is MY husband with a pair of secateurs, shears, or even nail scissors, with which he can be let loose in the garden.

Remember Edward Scissorhands? Step on down Geoffrey Edward Scissorhands.

Um…we got a new chainsaw.

Geoff gets this slightly crazed look just with a humble pair of secateurs. I’m sure his heart beats a little faster when he’s out there any with cutting gear, ‘pruning’. The trees and shrubs quiver deep down to their roots, blades of grass lie down and play dead, even the weeds get weepy. The sky lowers and the earth trembles…. and the world waits for the snippety snip snip.

He can’t help himself. Never satisfied to just remove the odd branch or two, or to reshape a bush or cut off a sapling – he wants to go hard. He gets in touch with his inner maniac and has been known to raze plants to the ground, telling me, ‘it’s for their own good – it’ll make them grow back stronger’. I’m sure that’s what all dictators say.

Imagine how he is with a chainsaw?

On Sunday, my poor lemon trees that have withstood so many years of neglect, were subjected to a veritable assault. My protestations fell on deaf ears – his and mine. Nothing can be heard over the gnashing teeth of a new chainsaw in work mode.

My only recourse was to pick up a fallen bough with it’s pretty yellow dots of bush lemons attached, and carry it back up to the house where it festooned the dining table, providing the full pleasure of it’s heavenly scent until the next day when I saw that it had spider webs on it and I chucked it on the fire.

The perfect storm is what I’m talking. Big dried mounds of green rubbish, unlucky, otherwise perfectly healthy lemon branches, plus a new chainsaw makes for some pretty specky bonfires and Sunday was our day.


A few Jiffies firelighters, a box of matches and a steady hand is all that was needed and Whoof! The ashes were won.

The sight of a burning pyre in a green paddock late on a sunny winter’s day is actually something quite profound. I stood there and once I got over my unfounded anxiety that we were going to ignite the South Coast, Southern Highlands, greater New South Wales, and maybe even New Zealand, I loved it.

My great grandmother once said to my mother, who was grumbling about having to clean out the fireplace every morning in winter, ‘never resent it dear, think only of the pleasure the fire gave you the night before and it will never be a chore again.’

Fire is so primal. It’s bewitching, you can watch forever as it licks at its fuel and throws its smoke windward. And that bushfire smell is so comforting on a cold day, providing you’ve never actually been in a bushfire, in which case it’s probably not right up there for you.

On that, it has to be said that a winter bonfire on a still day is a controlled risk, but a risk all the same. When you see how green stuff that has been soaked by the rains, chilled by the cold and actually has fatbum grass growing all over it, can explode into flames with a modicum of encouragement, it brings a new understanding to how in the hot, dry conditions of summer, things get so ugly so quickly.

Nothing got ugly on Sunday at SoCo I’m happy to report. In fact, things got a lot prettier once my arson husband harnessed the power of the match to evaporate less than attractive mounds of rubbish that were blotting my landscape.


We now have nice tidy paddocks all ready for Annie Wilkes and her team to begin the landscaping in this, the final stage of SoCo’s rebirth. Annie has prepared a beautiful plan involving plane trees, river birch, loads of rosemary, Boston ivy and much more…

I promise to instagram the hell out of this transformation, beginning July 20, so you’ll have plenty of pictures of progress. It will be fun to show you the before and afters as a property that was so sadly neglected, now dazzles in the glory of love – just like we all do.

And the dazzling glory of new love for Geoffrey Edward and his chainsaw lives on for another still day…..



1 Comment

  1. That got me fired up and can’t wait to read your new blog ignited by your imagination and a cup of coffee.


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