Return to Swaning!
But for now everything is back into rehearsal mode.  Been back for 2 weeks now and the body has hurt and creaked its way through the first week and this past week has been fine, excepting the feet which are taking the pounding of getting used to dancing barefoot all the time again!  Ah soft Swans.  The house I am living in has been grand for being so close to the city and being a welcome respite at the end of the day!  Long days at work are taking some getting used to, especially the ones that don’t finish until 9pm.  We are rehearsing at some obscure location (production company didn’t book early enough to organise somewhere cheaper and central) so the commute is taking some getting used to but it is all going well.  Being Dance Captain is proving fab, more work than what I anticipated but a great challenge to rise to.  Makes me very busy throughout the entire day, but the thrill of learning everything is kind of cool!  At least you feel fulfilled at the end of a working day!  My Sundays are so valuable and relished with selfish ownership.  Today has been a day at Colchester with my favourite beautiful couple Ben and Nix, along with communal friends and housemate Anne and Andrew!   Sitting in the backyard in the sunshine (yes sunshine can you believe it) and getting given food and tea at regular intervals, enjoying music and inspiring tales of theatrical triumphs and achievements.  Indulgent and gorgeous as always.  

On tour in 2 weeks and looking forward to seeing some more of England and Britain.  Well, Glasgow!  I am sure I will have more tales of interesting tour stories and first performances.  It will be different this time around but also exciting too, even though I have done it before!  Happy to be where I am, enjoying the life and energy, loving my work and its challenge and feeling fortunate all the time!  Life is good.  Hope yours is as well and that you are fit fabulous and having fun.  


AuthorPeter Furness

 Tales from The Manor

I just love weekend trips away!  It has a feeling of escapism and relaxation as soon as you sit down on the train!  You have no worries once you have battled through the public transport system of London with your baggage and found an amicable seat.  The best way to do it is to get a midday trip on a Friday as most of the cranky Londoners are at work and you seem free to breeze through train stations, unhindered and find a nice window seat with a table on an uncrowded carriage.  There is also something wonderful about traveling by train.  There is such a lovely feeling of immediacy and directness about it that is lost in airports and in cars.  I admit that back home, taking the train usually meant you were settled in for a good 6hrs journey.  But here a mere 2 hrs can see you in the centre of Paris.  You can't do that timing on a flight!!!!  You just jump on a carriage, sit and watch the world skim by and see houses and fields and football parks; and they are closer to see than if you are in the air!  It's so; old world I suppose!  

It is a perfect London day for travel.  It is grey and rainy and not a day for really being outside in the weather.  Such as it was that my morning was spent at Monmouth (you should all know by now what that is), followed by a quick trip to the gym for my exercises (penance for having a weekend of luxury) and then a quick trip to the train station from whence I am speeding towards Bristol and the south west of England. I will be spending a weekend of reading, literary discussion, vinicultural appreciation (like I need more education in that), musical education and quite possibly some walking in the woods!  CAN"T WAIT!  All in a fabulous manor estate set in the country!  It should be quite the experience.  And the fact that it is cold and wet doesn't detract for me whatsoever, as it will be a large house with many rooms to explore and if it were sunny and fine, I would probably just want to be out playing tennis.  

The English countryside is so very quaint!  You do pass over old bridges with narrow roads and very green fields with wild geese in collection on the banks of incredibly full rivers.  There is even a deer on the sides of the track!!!!  It has that whole cottage and quiet appeal to it.  So unlike London!  The grand thing is that very quickly you seem to be out of it!  It doesn't take long to have the thickness of London behind you and be looking out at greenery and natural loveliness.


AuthorPeter Furness

 This Country Life
And to the life of living in a country village in the south west of England.  Arriving in the valley is something like stepping into a time warp.  All of a sudden I am back in the land of agriculture and farming and meeting up with gristled old farmers serving you apple cider out of giant oak barrels and shouting at you in what almost seems like an Irish accent "ai, go on, 'tis only apple juice!".  I LOVE IT!  

The small villages are connected by the narrowest of roads, and nature is surely the most redeeming feature of the drive between villages.  Everything is close by and yet there is the amazing feeling of space amongst everything that you see!  Looking over my shoulder at the setting sun as it lights up a plain with houses and farms dotted all throughout it makes me hunger for the likes of the McLaren Vale.  Horses slowly trudge by and it seems the natural sound of the the area.  

We arrive at the house which is an old 1860's place with 3 levels and many many rooms.  I am starting to understand the English so much more now that I see where they live and how they live!  There are sitting rooms and formal dining rooms, which seem not to be used very often!  But it all fits rather well.  Glassed in gazebos are their solutions to outdoor living, and even in summer you are glad of the cover and warmth!  

The best thing about this place is the kitchen.  It is a large room at the rear of the house but has HUGE windows that look out over the fields in the distance that house horses and hay and seem to just stretch beyond your sight!  The centre-piece in the kitchen is an AGA!  Now I am not really sure of what it is but it is a fantastic gorgeous large steel oven with a series of doors and compartments and 2 pizza sized hops that are permanently hot and ready to go.  This thing doesn't turn off and is a source of warmth in the house.  Each compartment is a different temperature oven, from warming right through to baking!  There are 5 ovens, which are all fed by warmed oil that circulates through the structure.  It is beautiful, and you can sense that this is what a kitchen should have.  Particularly a farmhouse kitchen, permanently ready to strike up a feast for all that walk in the door!  And like any farmhouse, you always enter through the back door!  It is just the done thing.

My room is large and my view over the fields is something to relish.  I wake to the sound of wrens and birds and not much else.  When a car is near you actually hear it for the strange sound that it is.  And you wonder what it is doing out there!  The light is vast and beautiful and warms you as it spreads out across the land!  It is so lovely here and I am so instantly relaxed!  To have a home where people come to meet and gather for food and enjoyment and quietness is surely something I should aim for in my life!

The weekend is basically spent whiling away hours in the house with coffee, tea, food and then in the evenings, relaxing in the gazebo with dinner and wine!  The musicians who have arrived eventually after a late start take to the piano and music fills the space at all times.  All rather lovely!  The company is grand and the house is perfect for taking in the atmosphere of relaxed conversation and contentment!  Morning coffee is spent sitting looking out over the fields and greeting horses and riders as they amble past the kitchen windows waving a casual good morning!  Takes a little getting used to for a London lad! (If I dare to call myself that!)

As mentioned, we make a call to a local icon, The Apple Cider man.  A man of the earth character and a lively chap who has surely been in the county and served the village of CHEDDAR for many years with his local alcoholic fare!  There are three giant barrels and you walk in amongst the outdated machinery and coy wooden tables, swiping a few cobwebs out of the way in the process.  There is a lively banter coming from ‘the lounge’ which is signified by the wooden sign above the door.  The space is little more than a table and chairs sitting haphazardly amongst the smoking locals who all look like they have come in from a day in the fields.  Our host beams at us with a lovely generous smile and his way of saying hello is to ask “sweet dry or draught?”.  Obviously a refusal is not to be given to this man.  Ironically the way of deciphering a blend of one of the three is a little bit of this one, some of that one and, oh why not a bit of this one to throw it all together.  Swish it in the pitcher and voila, you have traditional cider of a distinctive nature that has a place in local folklore!  You buy by the cask or, if you prefer, you can bring your own container.  Oh and there is also the local fare as well.  You can’t come to Cheddar and not eat cheese!  So we are given three rather large slabs of cheese, 2 cheddars and one stilton which are all very tasty and authentic.  A lovely way to render an afternoon introduction to the area!  

The landscape is gorgeous.  A valley is protected on either side by rolling hill ranges and the green colour of the flats looks glorious in the sunshine.  Little villages lay dotted along the roads to the main townships which are steeped in mediaeval history and grandeur.  Each village at the moment is hosting it’s own flower show, as summer invites all the gardens to look their best.  And with each show there is the associated local arts and crafts fairs!  Very traditional.  All manner of pickles, jams and home bakes are on offer and all so very proper and English!  Love it!  The largest town is Bristol, home feats of engineering by a crazed man who designed some of the first iron hulled trans Atlantic cargo ships.  Rather impressive bridges and old world museums dot the streets and the hubbub is quite genuine in this centre of activity on the western coast of England.  A very pretty town with a noted University and patronage of local industry and wealthy landed families!  Outside of Oxford and Cambridge apparently Bristol holds it’s own in the educational elite of the nation!  I mistake many spires and grand buildings for religious houses when they are in fact University halls and establishments.  It’s all very picturesque and charming.

A quick trip to Wells leaves me breathless as I see an 11th Century cathedral in all its splendour and glory with large green grounds spread before it’s ornate doors and entrance.  The gothic structure is as grand as those of Italian cities and the detail of the outside deserves close inspection and attention of the best part of the day.  A street market is also alive with activity of local fare and farmers.  All set out in the traditional town square, cobbled streets and Tudor buildings still commanding the eye.  I could spend a weekend here but for today it is a quick 45 minutes.  Definetly a place to return to for a more indulgent visit sometime in the future!

The weekend is inspiring and makes for rather resigned feelings of wanting to live in the country amongst nature and simplicity with quiet tones abounding.  A lovely break to have had on this final weekend of relative freedom before beginning back at work.  So lovely and relished for the refreshing experience it has been.


AuthorPeter Furness

Scottish Life

Anybody who is anybody should go to Glasgow!!  WHAT FUN!  Thought there really isn’t that much to rave about in terms of  being a grand city of the world, and the weather is rather average, the people and the feel of Glasgow suited me down to the ground.  The first thing I noticed was the warmth of the people.   Little things like saying hello and being casual enough to engage in conversation when you interacted with them.  The best thing about Glasgow was the Hula Café.  It was directly across the road from the theatre and run by some very funky young guys who had a very casual way of running a café and didn’t pander to any multi-national corporation business ideas and running style.  The large semi warehouse space has a rustic feel that reminded me very much of my days at Henley On Sea.  Big chunky wooden tables and window bench seats with big cushions all over it, an old piano on the sideboard, and big Chesterfields with a coffee table for the truly indulgent.  The food was DELCIOUS, described as a Moroccon menu with this lamb stew which was stunning, almost caramel with cinnamon sticks, and the fabulous Spanish Stew of chickpeas and chorizo.  They had a nice selection of wines and teas and tho I did try the coffee (and it wasn’t great) I wasn’t drinking coffee anyway so I forgave them that mercy.  Very generous of the coffee nazi I know.  But living in the theatre meant that we were there nearly every day, and with extra rehearsals and calls meaning we only had half an hour for dinner before a show, Café Hula became the best thing about Glasgow.  On the last night we were even able to go in and buy some wine off them for a pizza at the motel after the show.  Beautiful people and beautiful café.  Loved it.

The performances have been interesting, already I have learnt yet another role as we have had so many injuries recently.  I was asked to learn a medium track, different to the one I did last year, to cover a broken toe, sprained ankle and a strained anterior tibialis.  And these are all the under 25yo!!!!  GO figure!  I guess the good thing is that I have resolved my goal to try and learn all the roles of the show, and now having gone on for 3 shows as a medium 7, I think I have a good handle on it.  The first show was a lesson in humility.  I got the first sequence wrong, screwed up the spacing on the second, got the next sequence right as it is a unison section and I do it as a big swan anyway, then crashed into another swan on the jump sequence and by the time it got to the Blue Lagoon I was shaking so much from nervous tension that it didn't matter if I got it right or not.  I was humbled.  OK, so I am not Superman.  I did have 3 hrs to learn the role and I was on, but as my fellow dance captain said to me "cut yourself some slack...oh hang on, that just wouldn't be you would it!"

The other thing about Glasgy (as we came to love it) was my landlady.   I was staying in this fantastic Victorian property (mansion) with a huge front room and massive bed, jazuzzi and basically the run of the house.  The kitchen even has one of those boards that has all the rooms listed and a lamp underneath it which you can push and it lights up for when you want tea or something!!!! Heheheh.  It just felt grand.  My landlady was a woman who has been in film for 20 years and she was very passionate about theatre and art and all things performance, so we had many great brief chats around the kitchen table.  She came and saw the show and was so taken with the performance that she started showering me with gifts and calling me a demi-god!!!!!  Really enjoyed her company though and will probably stay in touch.  Makes the whole thing worth it just to experience the feel of somewhere like that and to be able to say that I have been there!  And to have gone shopping there; oh the shopping was FANTASTIC.  Glasgow seems to be the shopping capital of Scotland so it was easy to be one of the throng and be picking up clothing that was lovely and wonderful.   Love touring allowance.

The times for me have been most busy of late.  I am starting to notice that I do indeed have a very full plate of work cut out for me this year.  As always, the management role is causing the most headache.  How to manage 25 male dancers and make them all feel happy and at ease in a very tough working environment is a difficult task.  But it is as much a challenge as anything else, and so I am learning to apply myself to the task whilst also expecting to find that not all the guys have the same application to the show that I may have. 

SO here we are in Stoke.  Stoke on Trent, which really doesn’t have much to recommend itself by, either that or I have just not been able to stick my head out enough yet to explore it.  It doesn’t have the feel of Glasgow and that was bound to happen.  Glasgy was too special.  I am staying in a house with some language students but it is great as I have a HUGE room with a TV, my own big desk and enough space to do yoga in the mornings on the floor.  Something which, since moving to London has been a missed luxury that has been difficult to main

tain in normal London sized rooms.  I retreat to my room even when the house is empty and I have the run of it all to myself.  I love the space.   The best thing to recommend it is that the house has the same plates and dinner set as my beloved tea set back in London.  The one that I have been on search for to add to ever since finding the first pieces in a Tooting Charity Shop.  So yes Mitchell, I may be a (cough) loser, but I quickly confiscated the plate, mug and bowl and whisked it up to my bedroom on the tea tray provided!!!  But lo and behold, what else does Stoke offer up; but a shop that actually sells the missing parts of my tea set!!!!!!!!  JOY OF JOYS.  Unfortunately it does not have all 6 saucers that I desire but it has 3 so that is enough for me to be happy and provide myself with my own little breakfast tea tray, and perhaps space for one other!!!!!  Maybe in France!  So thus far Stoke is really a good find for me, and seeing as I haven’t had enough time to really concentrate on doing any sightseeing or anything a spot of 2nd hand tea set discovering is fine with me.  Small pleasures.


AuthorPeter Furness

So here I am again!  It has been a while since the diary has made an appearance, but this week sees me taking off on yet more adventures only this time more of the type that doesn’t require a passport!  I have been basically trying to settle myself down in London in quite a non spectacular fashion and dealing with the normalcy of life.  Getting the tube, organising gas and electricity readings and avoiding the hostility of living in one of the must congested cities in the world!  

But that is all behind me for now as I sit on a train bound for the fabulous South West of England.  I have developed a healthy and deep interest in this area ever since my beloved friends decided to move down here only a few weeks ago!  The call of the water, the beach and the (hehe) English Surf!!!!!  But truly when you have lived here and are a part of the inclement weather that can choke the sunshine out for days on end, the relative beauty of any body of water is an enticing thought to cling to!

The train journey takes us south to Plymouth which is obvious at first for the shipping and marine vessels that populate one of the more picteresque ports of England. The wide river opens out onto the South Sea and the sense of freedom is inhaled in the salty sea air!  All of a sudden you feel strangely like an explorer; or is that just my colonial heritage harkening back to being shoved on a prison boat bound for Botany Bay???  But the scene is rather idyllic.  The houses, whilst still close together, do not suffer the congestion of London and being built literally on top of each other.  Even the colour scheme is a subdued collection of pastels and soft shades that remind me very much of Brighton in Victoria! They sort of suit the ‘English Harbourside’ image, gently lining the haphazard streets that lead from water to town square!

We arrive in Truro which is the Cathedral City of Cornwall.  Truro lies between the two coasts of the region serving as the central point of all the outlying villages and townships.  Cornwall lies on the southern tip of the English landmass that juts out into the Atlantic.  It seems to me that anywhere that is south of London has the luxury of just being that little bit more indulgent and dare I say it ‘privileged’.  Devon, Somerset, Cornwall; all of them have a very attractive and relaxed class to it. Perhaps it is the slight warmth (on average a degree or two warmer than any where else in England) or the sense of space of the picturesque lands about the area.  It could also be that going south was always considered the ‘restorative’ option for the land and gentry of English society!  Cornwall today is ‘suffering’ from the haven that it could ultimately be, as investors from London seem to be driving up house prices and council rates, purchasing 2nd holiday homes in the region.  But when you look at the quaint towns that lie on the coast and have actual beaches in close proximity you can understand why! This is what they all desire!  It has that sense of getting away and being able to indulge in long seaside walk along paths that lead to nowhere but have a sense of meditative quiet about them.

Our first night is spent at one of these aforementioned ‘holiday homes’ of one of the dancers.  We are in a small cottage that has many small rooms and all laden with floor boards and limestone walls, each room having a small but ideal window looking out onto the ocean.  Directly outside are two levels of decking, one with a studio to the side and an excellent view down to the meadow that lies behind and directly runs onto the beach; the other with a stone campfire, complete with obligatory tree trunk from the beach that serves as a perfect stool for stoking the fire.  The cool October evening comes on but it is perfect bliss as we sit around the fire and look out over the ocean as the moon rises in the distance.  We even indulge in some American Marshmallow toasting and ‘Smores” thanks to our native US Touring Co-ordinator.  (one for you Mischler -or should that be Cass-Beggs now!)

To the right of our view is St Michael’s Mount – an outcrop of craggy cliffs which is linked directly to the mainland when the tide is out but becomes it’s own ‘island’  surrounded by water at other times.  Atop this jutting in the water is a castle that looms on the edge of the cliffs looking out to sea.  It is listed and has been kept to it’s original glory by a Trust and as the sun sets you can see that there are a few lights left on in the southerly rooms.  As the sky blackens you feel that you are glimpsing  a seafaring Admiral or Captain, seated in his southern wing with a few candles, watching the unseen horizon for sign of a returning ship or cargo that will signal with faint bells or a single lamplit mast!  AH, it’s all a bit Pirates of the Caribbean but it is a great scene nonetheless and I spend quite a bit of time looking out over the water indulging in this image!  

The town itself has a wonderful Cathedral at the centre and is surrounded by hills and green fields with farms and homesteads about it.  If you go 15 miles in any direction you will hit the ocean and this makes for a rather content pace of life.  I am looking forward to returning here and seeing my friend’s new home and spending more mornings with coffee and tea looking out at their new view which I have been told, includes the beach and the river where trade used to flourish!  Think I had better set aside a whole week for that!

There is something very attractive about ‘village life’ in the UK.  It has a very charming appeal to it and far belies anything you can experience in London!  I think that most advantageous thing is that you can live a village life and still be relatively close to the metropolis.  Just walking the streets and being able to view everything in reality can make it very attractive.  Either that or I am just getting older and more ‘retired’! 

AuthorPeter Furness

The Cornish Attraction

Cornwall is traditionally known as the seafaring centre of England, and as the coast is close no matter which location you choose in this point of the country, it is no wonder.  I am on a 4 day trip to the southern most region of the English Coast as it juts down into the ??????? Sea somewhat similar to Italy's boot!  The whole county made up of small villages, ports and towns that are dotted about the hilly green countryside which stretch beyond fresh horizons each time you round a hillside!  The main centres are not even that grand although Plymouth smacks of a real “town centre” with all the built up housing and central malls that are reminiscent of country towns that exist as the axis of a community! 

I am staying in Fowey, which is a tiny little community on the banks of the Tamar River and right next to the coastal inlet!  It is bordered on opposite banks of the river by 2 small communities, one a bridge town that is tiny and quaint; the other a more indulgent area that houses many ‘holiday homes’ of people who come south for a couple of weeks or days at a time and then retreat to their places of abode! 

Fowey has recently been named one of the most desired locations in England and you can see why.  If it weren’t for the bitter cold frosts and river breezes that have hit on my day of arrival, you could believe you were in a French town or possibly even something of a Greek influence.  The boats are moored right next to the main throughfare of the town, which is only wide enough for a car to drive along in one direction, without any footpath or even space for pedestrians to pass by.  If you stroll along then you have to stand against the wall when a car does decide to pass. 

At night the coloured lights swing from one building to another and line the street with it’s shuttered windows and riverside cottages that seem the norm.  These houses are almost ‘built into’ the steep hillside that traps the morning fog and their backyards rise up like terraces and the hanging gardens of Babylon.  These terraces would be ideal in the summer to park yourself with a picnic and bottle of chilled white, whilst watching the lazy activity of the ships docking and the fishing boats ambling along the estuary!  It is so quiet that the sound of a car or someone even leaving their front door is an almost interruption on the peace!  People smile generously as they pass you by and have no issue greeting you with a brief hello.  An unlikely norm that can be lost when you live in London!

We take a trip around the area on a beautifully clear and bright winters day.  Ashburton is the first stop where my lovely friends are off to do a private Tai Chi class.  Meanwhile I get to explore the town known for it’s concentration of antique shops with multitudes of bric-a-brac and old wares!  So much crystal and estate furiture that ‘Pauline’ would have a field day!!!!  And all the shops are tiny, with small doors to duck beneath as you walk in. Some of them are haphazard and manned by one person who is sitting in front of the beloved fire that is in the hearth with a cup of tea in a china cup, balanced precariously between an old suitcase and the rocking chair!   It’s grand! 

But I came to Cornwall in the hope that I get to do some walking and so I find a path that leads out of the town and along the small creek-bed that is flowing well with crystal clear water, icily clean and fresh!  The frost still clings to the blades of grass and the landscape is that lovely white without being snowy!  I walk along a path that has the fabulous iron grates that separate field from field, a normal occurrence between the dry stone walls of English country lands.  I climb the hillside and come across sheep, dogs (nothing beats the site of a big bushy Border Collie bounding down a steep green grassy slope with it’s mouth panting and a flurry of power and exuberance) and paths that lead through woodlands and bring you out towards yet another village collected in a valley! It’s an easy walk but full of so many opportunities to stop and admire the rolling view that drips about you!  The frost on the vegetation makes for some great photos that make it really look like Christmas!

On our drive around we also come to the fabulous Dartmoor National Park!  The eerie moorlands that are the setting for such classics as “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, “Jane Eyre”, Pride and Prejudice” and even the cult “American Werewolf in London”.  It is ruggedly and aggressively beautiful as well as dangerous, where thick dense fog can collect and render you helpless in a moment’s notice.  It closes in on you and turns all the relatively small forests and trees into menacing woodlands with Sleepy Hollow connotations.  With landscape for miles and miles about and barely a farmhouse or manor house to be found dotted in amongst the hills there is a grand sense of distance which is rare in this country.  Perhaps why those from Cornwall and Devon have a bit more sense of perspective.   

Wild Dartmoor Ponies roam free, being of a discerning stature – not quite full size and not quite Shetland pony - they stroll the roads and lands much like a kangaroo does.  The ‘tors’ are the iconic feature of the landscape.  They are small collections of rocks atop the small peaks of the hills, remnants of the volcanic activity that formed the landscape way back when! 

Dartmoor Prison is part of the identity of the area.  It is grey, black, ominous and downright UGLY, supported by a town that exists solely to serve the prison!  A far more imposing building than something like Alcatraz with it’s 7 storey structure designed far from any architectural beauty.  The reason for it’s location; it housed the worst offending criminals and those who were to be separated from society.  And if they did manage to escape there was no point. There was nowhere to run to, surrounded by the wide expanse and endless countryside of the Moors that would  surely render your escape short lived and perhaps downright fatal!

Day 2 is spent at the wonderful Eden Project!  The worlds largest Greenhouse, it was built 8 years ago in an abandoned Tin Mine Site which was the bulk of the industry around these parts for many years.  The before and after comparisons are amazing and inspiring.  I feel quite the VIP as Nix takes us in the rear entrance and we meet up with her delightful friend Emma who is the Production Events Manager there. Passes galore and all the background information on the centre and what it does – including the office politics!!!!! 

There are two main ‘biodomes’ that look like caterpillars or igloos in this deep hole of discovery and reclaimed beauty.  The Project is a charity that serves as a centre of education, an example of sustainable farming and advocate for Recycling and Environmental opportunities.  It has an incredibly healthy Arts and Performance program associated with it and all about the grounds are pieces of sculpture that draw on nature and environmental themes for it’s inspiration.  One, a sculpture made up of all the discarded electrical equipment ONE person will waste in a lifetime is a bit of a wake up call and reminder of living in this techno-age!  With up to 16,000 people flooding through the gates daily (in the summer season) it has an amazing potential to reach people and be more than just a greenhouse.  It was so inspiring.  Sitting in the café and enjoying lunch, you look out at the gardens that supply ALL the food that is made in the café!  Silverbeet and spinach still growing in front of you will end up in the produce they sell!  Brilliant!

The ‘biodomes’ are fantastic and as we enter the Tropical Dome the layers come peeling off. I have the same reaction as my fellow antipodeans in feeling a sense of being “home” in the dense tropical heat of the domes!  Walking around you can be in the climate of Nth Queensland and the Indochina region.  It’s great walking past Banana Palms, Coffee and Cocoa Plants, Heliconias, tree ferns and all things familiar.  The thick heat makes you breathe easy and feel as though you have just cheated the air miles and escaped to a little tropical adventure.

We walk into the Temperate Biodome which is much more mediterranean and has all those wonderful herb gardens and succulents that just make you want to set up the BBQ and fill the esky!  We spend the longest time sitting on a bench and watching a very puffy and tiny Orange Breasted Robin show off as he sits next to us twittering and calling out and establishing his territory.  Apparently they are so territorial they will fight to the death and so there are only a few in this biodome!  They have turned up here as they have fought their way in between the netting of the biodomes during the spring and when the winter season comes, they are too used to the temperate climate of the biodome that to put them out would spell certain death for them.  So they are allowed to reside in the dome and they make a wonderful noise and great addition to the gardens! 

Of course evenings are spent whiling away hours with fabulous cooking and BRILLIANT wine (some of which I discover are actually bottles of mine I have left with friends for “safe keeping” and have forgotten about) all mixed in with hilarious and stimulating conversation.  Jack (fiesty and fantastic 10 year old) has intermittent periods of wanting to be pounced and wrestled, so I get the chance to work out all my unused ‘Tiggerishness’ and have a grand time bouncing around the living room, watching Takeshi’s Castle and learning about all manner of internet based reality games and Virtual Worlds!  Such a brilliantly happy family who blend and play with such love of life, you can’t help but feel the positive energy rub off on to you!  This being the main reason for a trip to the south west of England, is the most treasured experience of the journey and makes the whole thing – just perfect. 

SO now I return to London for Christmas, which will surely not be white as we have had such mild weather up until this week!   It will be a quiet lunch with housemates and no doubt some relaxed frivolity and indulgence.  Hope that you and yours are also involved in wonderfully relaxed times and those of you in Oz, will survive the heat!  Warmest wishes and love to you all and hope to speak to you all soon in the New Year.  Stay safe, well, loved and content!

AuthorPeter Furness

Well here I sit in my new home.  My new place of abode for the next 12 months (with a 6 month get out clause).  Am sitting in the kitchen where it is the coolest place of the house.  The window catches the Westerly breeze and funnels it into the room.  Funnily enough London is feeling the heat at the momnent.  31 degrees!  Oh my god and they are calling it a heat wave.  But as with all big metropolitan cities, London makes you feel the heat and it always feels hotter than what it actually is.  Did someone say pollution?  I found this house as it is next door to the one that I was staying in with my lovely friends Anne and Andrew.  Its a 2 bed flat above a chemist.  Its on a main road which is noisy but the flat is cute with little spaces to hide away in, a decent kitchen, and the biggest bedroom I have had since moving to London!  The lounge is all Lavender colour and it feels really nice and light and peaceful.  Heheheh colour therapy or what!   I am excited about it.  I want this to be my little sanctuary and hopefully it will be. 

So more new beginnings.  To work to work.  Well that seems easier said than done.  To say I have been struggling to find work is an understatement.  I have been picky for a while which is probably why I wasn't getting anything, but lately it has been a case of going for jobs and just simply not getting them.  Obviously there is something else out there waiting for me.  I just wish it would hurry up.  In the meantime it seems I am back to doing the old hospitality thing until I can get myself up and running!  I have to have a source of income that will be solid and at least allow me to pay the bills!  So I am about to start with one of two options.  A gastropub down the street run by two Sydney guys that is a source of many food writers delights and a killer wine list.  The other is a functions/restaurant at the Vinopolis Centre in London Bridge.  Have done a shift there already and it's OK.  (Not as fab as Botanic Miss Jane!!!!)  The former is surely something that I would prefer.  Just wish that I didn't have to go back to hospitality.  It is nowhere as well paid as in Australia and the English can really excel at being incredibly rude to service people. 

So that is pretty much where it all is at present!  Being back in London is great but the new starts means a bit of hard work is in order to get things up and running!  Hopefully this will come together and I will out and about doing it all in foggy buy hol old london town.

AuthorPeter Furness