The answers to everything.

People want to know so much. This is evident by the search terms used to find my site. Here I shall try to answer some of your questions, because I doubt you can find it in the blog anywhere and I would hate to disappoint. Since you are here, I mean.

1. Daylesford in winter, is it so bad?

Where did you get that from! It is not bad at all. All you need is good heating and a decent winter wardrobe. Some extra vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sun and you are set. The low winter light is extremely flattering to the complexion so we are all much more beautiful to look at in winter. Also there is no uncovered superfluous skin, so ditto there. Enjoy the absence of snakes and go hiking. There are also no insects as they have all gone to bed, along with the reptiles. Love winter, and it will love you right back. Hot chocolate. Wood fires.

2. Can I repair cracks with gesso?

Yes, someone actually found my site through this question. Isn’t Google a wondrous thing? What I want to know is why would you want to? How wide and deep are the cracks? If they are hairline only, of course you can. Just paint the gesso , dry and sand. Repeat until happy. Bigger cracks need a hardware product.

2. Can I mould with gesso?

So much to know about gesso! I should write about it more often. Yes, you can, as long as you are not asking too much of it. If it is for low relief on a picture, for instance, sure you can. Has been done for hundreds of years. If you are moulding a three dimensional thing, I would use plaster casting or similar.

3. What are things for couples to do at night at Daylesford?

I am not sure I understand this question. Do couples do different things to non-couples? There is a lively live-music scene, plenty of restaurants, or you might take a picnic and a torch into the forest and look at the nightlife in there. That is a tremendous adventure. Sit quietly, listen and wait. Squeeze each other hands in anticipation of the thrill of a koala’s roar. Is that for couples or not? I think it is. You could always opt out of the handsqueezing if you are not that close. Midweek there is not too much apart from restaurants and pubs, if you are into that, but weekends is more active. The Grande has a little venue in the basement which does regular shows on Friday nights, strongly recommend. Cabaret type things. The Daylesford Hotel is excellent in summer, with a nicely lit outside area which often houses DJ sets, or other events. Nice. Ditto Perfect Drop. Horvat’s does live music on weekends, and is a very cool place to eat and drink midweek too. Or go to Radio Springs hotel, a short drive away but so worth it. There’s plenty more, look at a What’s On guide if you still need more.

4. Disused church Daylesford.

This appears not to be a question but a statement, which is totally fine. It is keyword searches, not a conversation, after all. There is one particularly fine one which was for sale for a while, on Camp Street. Could this be the one and why do you want to know? The For Sale sign is gone, but I don’t think it ever sold. Make enquiries at one of the agents, they will know. Go on, buy it! It could do with a new purpose. Was initially up for 950.000, but this might have been in the too-high range for the time, now I am not so sure as prices have gone up a bit in the last couple of years. By the way, I believe the word is deconsecrated. ”Disused” might just mean a church with very poor attendance?

5. what are the opening hours for Clayfire Gallery?

That is an easy one! According to their website (should have gone there instead of my blog, shouldn’t you?)

Monday 10:30am –  4.30pm

Tuesday CLOSED

Wednesday  10.30am  –   4:00pm

Thursday  10:30am  –  4:30pm

Friday  10:30am  –  4:30pm

Saturday  10:30am  –  4:00pm

Sunday  10.30am  –  4:00pm

The summer garden


Daylesford has had splendid weather so far this summer. Cool nights, warm afternoons, occasional rain. The garden has certainly loved it. Gooseberries are plentiful at the moment, other things bud with promise still… It has just had a major haircut and is looking neater than what is perhaps the wilder norm. Actually, looking at these pictures I think it looks pretty rampant still but that is what happens, look away for a second and the wily tendrils are running the show again.
















Porcupine Ridge

Winter is a great time for bushwalking, snakes are all asleep. My friend David who is an intrepid walker and walking guide found some mines he had never come across before. The mine is called Tubal Cain Mine and it’s near Porcupine Ridge. A fantastic reason never to leave the path! To go for a guided forest stroll, contact David on 0428 112 378  or email asic45(at)

porcupine ridge2porcupine ridge3porcupine ridge1


If you are interested in fishing, there are several spots in the area which are stocked by Fisheries Victoria. Hepburn Lagoon (best fishing in cold and wet weather) gets 5000 brown trout and 5000 rainbow trout each year, Wombat Dam in Daylesford gets 1000 of each every year. Newlyn Reservoir gets 4000 brown trout a year, and Jubilee Lake gets 400 advanced rainbow trout released before the second and third school holiday each year. Other smaller waters get some too, so you are in with a good chance.

There’s also redfin, tench, golden perch and blackfish, try the upper reaches of the Werribee river. Malmsbury, Lauriston and Coliban reservoirs are possibles too.

The Lerderderg River has trout, but is hard to reach due to the terrain. Best access is via McKenzies Flat, Blackwood and O’Brien’s Crossing.

You can buy a fishing licence online here:

or in person from Lake Jubilee Holiday Park.

I provide yabbie nets and a landing net (good for a heavy struggling fish, prone to snap the line), but you will have to bring your own rods if you plan to give it a go. Well, I have a small rod you can borrow, but it’s not very good. Though I have caught a trout with it!


Heat sensor camera

Here are a few pictures taken in Wombat Forest by night vision cameras. This is part of a project cataloguing the animals living in this part of the woods. My friend David (who also does guided forest walks, see other my wildlife posts about that) is one of the volunteers who checks on the cameras. All images copyright Wombat Forestcare in conjunction with VPNA Naturewatch.

Here is a wombat, very curious.


Koalas are best at climbing trees, not walking. Their gait always looks pretty awkward.


So when you walk around the forest, look very carefully indeed. There are animals out there… Went for a bushwalk around Badger’s creek (or so David said, I never have a clue where we are) this morning, saw kangaroos but nothing else.

This project is funded through the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country, the R.E. Ross Trust and the ANZ Staff Foundation. You can keep up to date with what is happening and see latest photos on the VNPA Facebook page.

Birdsnest in the vines

The back veranda has started to smell like a winery with the overwhelming amount of grapes being over ripe, so I decided to cut some back. Had to stop though, as I found a birdsnest. I think it is a honey eater, I have had a lot of them this year. It’s amazing that they have chosen that spot as it is right outside the back door. Clearly it takes a lot of noise to bother this little bird.

The bees like the grapes too, if a bird has pecked a grape, piercing the skin, the bees have access to the sweet grape and hurry to get some back to their hive which is only next door.



The house as it was the day I bought it

Guests often want to know what the house was like before I got stuck into it. It was more than a little sad actually. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw it, all the same. The size was just right, the gardens really private and with many established beauties and the location totally amazing. It even had a view from the front. Never mind the incredible amount of work needed, the house was sold. I wanted to do something different with this house. It is not a significant building historically, nor had it any real integral esthetic qualities and so I felt that I could do absolutely anything with it, just for fun.  I still have quite a lot of things planned but they can take their time, nothing important. Sometimes tired old houses just need a lot of love to live up again.

These first pictures are from the day of buying, have done nothing at all yet.

reno 1Different angle, but same place now:

Lounge and kitchenThe stove was sitting in an inch of water. Safe!reno 2 reno 3Same spot below (but not finished when pic was taken, it is now however)

kit3When you walked on the living room floor it had a spongy feeling, that was because of the lino laid on the carpet which was in turn laid on lino laid on newspaper. Top it off with a rug, and you are walking on air! It would have made the floors warmer, sure. I am wearing my coat, it is October and utterly freezing, inside and out.reno 4 reno 5The same room, much much much later…

Kitchen 2It is so pretty I could burst.reno 6 reno 8 reno 9This is the main bedroom. The carpet is especially nauseating, I feel. The plastic walls are also of a miraculous quality but underneath it all is a wonderful house waiting to appear. Anybody wants to come and stay at my beautiful accommodation? Can’t understand why not. The bedroom had a whole wall of wardrobe with a curtain, this is where the bed now sits. I knocked a hole in the wall to the old linen cupboard and put a wardrobe there instead.

IMG_7100And the same room below. This was the first room I did, it was the easiest and I needed a quick reward to make me feel better, anticipating all the work which was to come.

Bedroom 1

Now the work could begin. I took measurements of the windows when I bought it, so whilst waiting for the 30 day settlement to end I had made most of the leadlight.

reno bath1

This is the bathroom after yanking out some of the fittings.

reno bath 5

The state of the floor under the bathtub. Some long term leaking here. Sometimes when you pull things apart you get delightful surprises. This is not one of them, but fairly easily repaired. Discover something grim, look at the lovely view, start again. Repeat.

reno lilacs

Aah, look, the lilacs are in bloom. Great stuff, back to work.

reno bathroom 3

I love it when you are back to bare bones. Such potential.

reno bath 6

Bathroom is starting to be less grim.

reno bath 1

reno bath2

This is a really good stage, when the linings are taking shape and you can think about the finish. I made a wardrobe outside the bath, it eats into the kitchen a bit but I think it is worth the space sacrifice. The kitchen is plenty big enough. The thing on the left was a linen cupboard but I made a hole in the bedroom wall and reversed the opening of the cupboard, turning it into a wardrobe. Older houses seldom have enough wardrobes.

second bed 1

Second bedroom after removing the blocky wardrobe. Pretty, let’s look at the view instead, again:

reno view

I feel better now.

reno plumbing

Here’s a handy hint: As the plumbing and rewiring happens, take photos of the wall before you line it. This way, you can refer to where the expensive things are before you put a nail through something!

reno living

You can see the kitchen through the arch. The vinyl wall covering prevailed throughout, paired with masonite cladding. All the doors were of the cardboard variety. Help, I probably need to see the view again.

front view 4Balm for a weary eye. Sometimes there are flocks of cockatoos swooping in the distance, turning on a coin simultaneously. Back to work.

reno kitchen 3

reno living 3

The living room has now lost the old arch and is gaining shelves. These days I don’t mind a bit of joinery, but when I was a beginner I found built in shelves the easiest and most rewarding thing to make. When you think about it, it is a lot easier than other freestanding projects. It takes its balance and support from the house itself and hence is much less demanding.

pile of timber

I love a pile of random timber. It can be almost anything you want at this stage. All the timber that was pulled up from the house was reused unless it was bad. The pine lining boards were new, as you can see, but much wood was collected from the timber pile at the recycling station too.

reno kitchen 2

After I finished knocking all the mosaic tiles off the old fireplace, and the bottom brick infill etc, I rendered it and painted it with a limewash I made myself. The cost is cents only, and is very easy and so attractive. I won’t give you the recipe but there are lots online which more or less say the same thing. Bit of this and that.

reno kitchen 1

The kitchen is starting to happen. The back of the old arch now has fiddly carpentry, later to become marbled. The box is what will become the hall wardrobe.

reno bedroom 3

The bedroom, complete with canopy bed. What? Not there yet? The masonite and vinyl has just been ripped off, and the wall to wall space consuming wardrobe removed though all the timber is preserved for other things later.

reno bedroom 4

I had to lay a second floor over a perfectly good one just to get the trapdoor flush. It was only in the wardrobe, so no big deal. The trapdoor leads nowhere, but I needed it to do something tricky.

Safety for the ears is important. I take safety seriously, as you can see I actually wear them out completely. I have a new pair now. Luxury.

reno ears

The second bedroom is lined, the door closed in, the wide opening to the living room made more narrow and more solid. The round windows are in progress, see them on the floor.

reno daybeds 4

Making the daybeds. Add wood until you are done.

reno daybeds 3

Since I worked with so much old odd bits of wood full of nails and stuff, it was nice to put a clean face frame on. Makes it easier to make it look good.

reno daybeds 2

reno daybeds 1

Here is the back. It is important to have airgaps with your slatted wood, or the mattress can’t breathe which is essential. You can also lift out sections of the slats in order to clean (or use) the space underneath.

reno bedroom 2

The front. I swear, the hedge is three metres higher now. I had no idea it had grown so much. Must prune! The front hedge is a specimen hedge, which means it is composed of successively flowering shrubs. One after the other, it is great.

posing sandra

Here I am, looking clean for the camera.

reno jumpsuit

And here, about to do something unpleasant and dirty. Interestingly, still dressed in the same shade.

Hello koala

The koala is one of the rarest animal sightings here, not because of lack of numbers, but because of being still and high up in a tree during the day. And who wants to be on a bush track in the middle of the night? My walking companion David from Daylesford Forest Strolls sent me this picture from yesterday’s walk.  Though he can’t promise sightings, at least he knows where the best chances are.

Call David on 0428 112 378 or email asic45(at) if you want to find out more.

forest strolls

Think of something pretty

and it won’t be this.


Nor will it be this tree, embedded in the wall. As you can see, I have ringbarked it so it at least won’t get any bigger until I can get around to it.


Before I start fixing up the building I will have to remove this mess. Digging, digging…

Here is something pretty instead. The grapes are nearly ripe! They may be small, but so sweet and delicious.


Scandinavian Christmas bazaar – and how to be Swedish

Here is a pic of me preparing stock for the Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar. If you are in Melbourne the first weekend of December, happens every year, do come to the Swedish Church on 21 St George’s Road in Toorak. It is the old Governor’s mansion which was bought by the Swedish Church in 1956. Absolutely exquisite.

swedish church(photo Lisa Palm,

I will be there with a lot of other stall holders. Scandinavian food, Danish design, Finnish axes, reindeer hides, Ilse Jacobssen raingear, textiles, clothing, stationary, singing and dancing (!), you name it. Scandinavian Work Wear is usually there too. Handcarved wooden spoons. Norwegian jumpers, kid’s stuff, Sami jewellery. Christmas decorations aplenty. It is a perfect opportunity to do the Christmas shopping, or maybe just come to see the Lucia and her entourage singing. The what? Never mind, just accept it as traditional. Pippi might be there too. The bazaar is always busy, regardless of weather. You can also win amazing things, like maybe a Hurtigruten cruise or a Volvo Supercar package. If you are not in Melbourne, don’t worry. There are similar bazaars happening at Swedish churches all over the world before Christmas, just check it out online.

Sat 4/12 10-5pm

Sun 5/12 10.30-4pm

scandinavian christmas bazaar

To properly get into the spirit of the thing, here is a guide to how to be Swedish for the day:

Look as tall as you can, s  t  r  e  t  c  h. Say ”Ja, ja” to anything agreeable (especially when buying my hats, obviously) and ”Nej tack” when you don’t want any more tacks. Kidding, it means No thanks. Never to be used when buying hats, thank-you-very-much. You can also try a jaunty ”Hej!” when you meet people. Inhaling sharply, kind of like a shush in reverse, means you are agreeing and following the conversation. So if you start the conversation with a ”hej”, then inhale sharply whenever it seems to be your turn to say something, then say ”hej” again and leave, I think you might get away with it. Being blonde is not a requirement, many Swedes aren’t. Unless you are a child, in which case your hair is likely to be totally white until you grow up. Wear clogs. You can buy them at the bazaar, in case you have none. You can’t buy these, because they are my old well-worn ones, but you can get a brand new pair.

swedish5Eat caviar straight from the tube. Actually, what we call kaviar is a mixture of cod roe, tomato puree and potato mixed up and put in a tube, we have it on sandwiches. Try it. Great with hardboiled eggs, or tomato, or on cottage cheese. Light candles for every meal, breakfast included.

swedish2Increase your coffee intake by at least twice your normal dose. At least. Make sure you have some late at night too. Make it extra super strong.

swedishThere is NOTHING WRONG with wearing socks with your sandals.

swedish4If you have recently come from Sweden, you are likely to be very tanned as Swedes like to sunbathe. You can also tell if someone is a coastal Swede by their reaction to the monkey knot key rings we make. They are made from rope impregnated with Stockholm pine tar, bought from Alvangen Rope Museum outside Gothenburg. Smells divine, and sometimes when coastal Swedes smell them they get a far away dreamy look in their eyes, glazing over, as they are magically transported to happy days at a summerhouse somewhere.

monkey knot keyringHere are some of the other things I will be selling:

hatsand a few caps. Can’t wait for December!

hats2…leather wristbands, made using Norwegian detailing…womad10some handwoven table runners and other textiles are sure to come along for the outing.


It is officially spring

You know that spring is on the way when…

The buds are breaking on the magnolia.

spring3The rhubarb pushes up through the ground.

spring4The flowerbuds hint at beauty to come (the dovecote is new, by the way. Sometimes I make one for the gallery too)

spring5… and the woodshed is very nearly empty.

woodshed spring2Nearly t-shirt weather, bare legs and no socks! Though I confess that I will miss winter, it is a season I love. An opinion not shared by many but what is there not to love about grey skies, a total absence of insects and snakes, the beauty of a bare landscape, fog, frost, layered clothing, I can go on forever. Farewell winter, ’til next time. It’s been fun.

Flower bike – my own this time

At my gallery I have another flower bike, a bike I bought a couple of doors down at the MS op shop. For such a small penny a flower bike really is a good addition to the streetscape, isn’t it? The black spraypaint cost more than the bike itself. This photo was taken a couple of years ago, I can see I need to plant more pansies again this spring… You only get a couple of years from the baskets before they start to fall apart. I do wooden boxes now, but metal is good too.

There is a step by step on doing your own flower bike here