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Well. Hmm. Long time no write. But now, along with books, I am bringing you food, kittens and sunsets, all the things and tastes that have been filling my recent times.

We have a kitten and he is called Alan. The vet who found him in a box thought he was two weeks old when they got him, so by those calculations he is now about 12 or 13 weeks. He has left the dopey too small to do anything much stage and entered walking like a lion, stalking, pouncing and shredding stage. We are all besotted.

Next, the sunsets last week. In Melbourne they have been extraordinary. A friend posited that they have always been like that it’s just we are noticing them more. But I’m someone who has always noticed things, and I don’t remember ever seeing such long twilights and crazy clouds.

The Tour de France has finished for another year. This year, with Alan in the room, we were a little distracted, shall we say, from the bikes but still enjoyed enormously and had our annual Franch meal with my sister and her family. I made a cassoulet (not great) and a Bombe Alaska, great, see below, and my brother-in-law made a terrine, from scratch. He didn’t announce the full compendium of ingredients until all had eaten some. And in my TdeF wrap-up: I still love Ritchie Porte, and still don’t like Mark Cavendish, especially his silly little hat. I don’t mind Chris Froome but next year would like someone else to win. Also, we have started using ‘podium’ as a verb.

Game of Thrones finished and our internet was down so we couldn’t get onto Foxtel Go which we piggyback off from my in-laws! So we had to race to my sister’s place to watch. She hasn’t watched any of them, but my bro-in-law is up to date, so luckily we could gather, have some roasted meat and red wine in Cersei goblets (a tradition I have introduced at ours). We primed by re-watching a couple of epsiodes, namely Hardhome and The Battle of the Bastards, which was the second-last ep for this season. I did my hair a la Cersei (see below) because I’m attention-seeking like that. (Last year we dressed up as well. This was restrained.) My 13-year-old nephew kept looking at me, thinking weird. Worse, he had a friend over, who also kept looking at me, thinking weird. I thought the final episode this season was GOOD and I miss it already but: Alan.

On TV we watched Broadchurch (I know, late to it. It was very good.) And then tried The Killing, watched about 5 eps but it didn’t stick. Also tried two eps of The Fall, and while Gillian Anderson was great and terrifically chic, it didn’t stick eother. We kept comparing it to Dexter, and wondering if we were meant to be crushing on the killer (Mr Grey [Gray?] from 50 Shades) but it was SUPER cliched and not very good. So, next, we don’t know what to watch. And true confession, we love EJ NYC, a super trashy reality spin-off from Rich Kids of Beverley Hills, which we also like, but shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. I put a short video clip of the opening titles on facebook and think I was de-friended by two quite prominent authors. But I don’t know how long it had been since they’d culled me so maybe not related. 🙂 I should also point out that the ‘we’ in this post is my 19-year-old daughter and myself, not my husband. Just to be clear about that.

Finally, to reading. I haven’t got back to my Indian literature. But I have started reading Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, the first part of Volume 1 of In Search of Lost Time or whatever the other title is, I don’t know which is preferred? Remembrance of Things Past. I’m still on the opening chapter called Overture, and find that it is so freaking dense and so delightful and rich that I can only consume a few pages at a time. That may change but for now I’m taking a small draught each morning with breakfast, if I’m not racing out the door to teach. I’m also reading my friend Sarah Drummond’s The Sound, a gorgeous story about the early sealers in the west of Australia, and the indigenous women they become involved with, and involved meaning sometimes stole. It’s dark in parts but so beautifully written. I’m reading it slowly, to savour it, otherwise it will be ended too soon. I’ve also started Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire. It was heralded as the ‘new A Little Life‘ mixed with Goldfinch mixed with almost any other great New York City novel you can think of, but I’ll be the judge of that (so far it’s good). And I’m going to read The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Pulitzer winner for 2016) because the book group I go to is doing it, and people are saying very good things about it so it made it to my list.

And to the writing? I’m starting my fourth novel manuscript, the one I got a Creative Vic arts grant for, so I need to get going properly with that. It’s going to be a several-years-on-the-desk job this next one. Am taking a research trip to Sydney in a couple of weeks. Will catch up with my ex agent, and hopefully have a meeting with someone who I’d like to be my new agent. See some friends and have a glorious time in my hotel room, four lovely alone solo just me nights, reading, note-taking, sleeping. Can’t wait.

What have you been reading, eating, doing, loving?

[In the above mosaic, notice Alan’s tummy and similarity to one of the cloud shots as well as Alan’s face and similarity to Tom Kitten. The burger is called The Hemingway Wild West Burger and is typed out with hand notations, by Ernest himself. The cooking methodology is spot-on and you get a beautifully-cooked burger, browned on the outside and juicy and pink on the inside. DIVINE. The pic of me with David Astle was a couple of weeks back, when I went on his show to chat about my day job (and I was on again yesterday with Clare Bowditch for another chat). Also, I kind of love the cat-lightning top a lot. Also the new-cat activity mat, like for newborns. Hilarious. For the last two weeks I’ve been telling students I’m grandmother to a new furry grandson, and I tell them about how much work he is for my daughter, when he wakes her up in the night etc. The upside-down pear cake is a David Herbert recipe and it is the one thing I’ve cooked over the years that consistently makes people comment and ask for the recipe.]