I’m doing that thing I always do when I come back from new and wonderful, and I try to transport the lifestyle. When H and I went to Borneo by steamer sometime back in the 1800s, we came home and bought an entire pantry’s worth of ingredients to make complicated sambals and rending pastes, not to mention buying five limes for what would have bought us 100 kilograms of them in Kota Kinabalu.

I’m doing the Scandinavian equivalent. I’m eating rye bread and smoked fish, putting dill on everything, and being genuinely baffled at why everyone is so loud and rude and demanding. Why can’t my children be more Finnish, and refuse to make eye contact or talk to me? Why can’t they be more like the Swedes, and dress effortlessly stylishly and get about on bikes like it’s normal? Why can’t they be more Danish and tidy the fuck up occasionally? Continue Reading »

Leave No Bag Behind


My suitcase, in disgrace

It’s my fourth day in Finland and I know three words. They’re same three words I knew before I got here. Sauna, hej (hello) and kittos (thank you). That’s fairly disgraceful, but it’s three more words than I actually need to get by here, because every Finn I’ve met speaks better English than I do. Thanks, Finnish education system.

We flew over on the A380, a sort of flying shopping centre affair operated by Qatar Airways. Our seats were near a door that in an ordinary plane you’d think would lead to a toilet, but this one kept opening and flight crew would disappear into it. For a few hours I thought it was where they went to practice their mime tricks, because whenever they went in, before the door closed behind them I would catch a glimpse of them doing the ‘walking down a flight of stairs’ trick. I mean, that had to be what they were doing because it was a plane and on a plane there’s nowhere downstairs from economy class, is there?

But the A380 is basically an airborne Downton Abbey, and the reason the crew looked like they were walking downstairs was because they were walking downstairs. I don’t know what was down in the plane basement. Probably a long kitchen table and some snarky liveried footman brewing trouble. Or perhaps it was like the galley of slaves in Ben-Hur and they were all down there taking turns to row the thing through the air. I don’t know how planes work. Continue Reading »

Terrible Syncing Feeling


This useless slack-jawed snake will not do its job.

I swear to Odin, the first thing I am going to do when I get to Scandinavia is go find the iCloud. I presume it’s up that way somewhere, around the top of the world. Surely that’s where you’d put it. Then I am going to go through it and figure out if any of my photos are really in it and if not why not.

I’ve spent hours trying to back up and sync and download and delete and free up space on my phone and my computer so I can go overseas and fill them both up again, but the Jobs are conspiring against me. It’s almost as if the universe is telling me that that I will have no one to blame but myself when I arrive in one of the most beautiful parts of the world and cant take any pictures of it, because I haven’t deleted a single email in seven years and haven’t edited any photos ever. It’s almost as if the technological world is judging me for taking so bloody many pictures and videos of my kids.

So on the electronics section of my Getting Ready To Go checklist I am doing very poorly. Very much Below Expectations. I was planning to download some TV shows to watch on the plane, but that doesn’t look likely because computer says no. I will be left with only the TV offered by the airline, which in my experience is usually nine hundred episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Continue Reading »




And well might you ask, Talking Heads, well might you ask. Is a psycho killer a killer of psychos, or a psycho who kills? It’s a crucial distinction. We’ve been dealing with this particular grammatical point at home today.

This morning May Blossom realised her face was covered with mosquito bites. The rest of the family already knew, but we’d decided not to mention it because we could do without the drama.

But you can’t stop the drama, because mirrors exist. Once she caught sight of her face she was very angry about the spots, in a sort of Why Does Everything Bad Always Happen To Me? way, which, to be fair, it sort of does. Actually, that depends on your opinion of whether something like, say, putting her hand through the upstairs window last night and getting cut (not badly) was something that just happened to her or something more that was a result of her running on her bed (FORBIDDEN) towards the window and tripping. I tend towards the latter theory, in which she had more agency. She did not appreciate me mentioning that theory when we were steri-stripping her wound. Continue Reading »


IMG_8591This weekend, the Sydney Opera House will come alive with challenging premises and audiences will wrestle with a variety of thought-provoking concepts when the Festival of Dangerous Ideas kicks off. My parents are going to heaps of things at this festival, including Alexei Sayle’s talk ‘Thatcher Made me Laugh” and ‘The Government We Deserve’ presented by Annabel Crabb and David Marr. I will be staying at home with my children, while H heads off to Perth for a few days. But that’s no reason not be challenged and wrestle with ideas. I’ve decided to run our own Festival of Dangerous Ideas, as programmed by my almost four and almost six year olds. Let me know which sessions you want to see. Continue Reading »


scandilandphotoTwenty-three days from now, I am going on a trip, without H or May Blossom or Garnet, to the other side of the world. This makes me, according to my calculations, the worst mother in the world. To make matters worse, I am going on this trip with my friend Jess, and thus I am an accessory to depriving her children of their mother for two and a half weeks, which is an infinitely more serious crime since she is a significantly better mother than I am.

That aside, we are really very extremely excited. We are going to Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The trip has come about because Jess is a teacher and very interested in the schools in that part of the world, which are apparently better than ours for reasons that will be revealed to me as we go along. I believe it has to do with starting school a bit older and not having homework and maybe also herrings? To be confirmed. Anyway, Jess wants to visit some schools since that is her Area of Particular Interest and I thought I would go too since shirking my maternal responsibilities is my Area of Particular Interest, and what better way to do that than to bugger off up to the frozen north for several weeks, where the aquavit is cold and the living is easy.

Since we are going to Finland, I decided I ought to cultivate a more location-specific Area of Particular Interest. I’ve chosen saunas. Jess is being very accommodating and treating it like it’s my genuine hobby, so we are working our itinerary roughly equally around school visits and saunas. Because my other area of interest is not dying, we are skipping the sauna I discovered in my research that is in a ski lift. A smouldering wooden cabin, swinging hundreds of feet above an icy hill? What could possibly go wrong? We are restricting ourselves to ground-based saunas. The same goes for schools: strictly terra-firma educational institutions. Continue Reading »


We are disgraceful: this was one of only two photos we have of anyone in this family doing anything even vaguely athletic, while also not being naked. The other choice was H carrying 9 pizzas, which I agree is pushing it as an illustration of a post about the Olympics.  

We’re all sick this week. I’m pretty sure it’s Olympic Fever. Being sick and living with your parents is basically exactly the same as being world-class athletes in the Olympic Village: we’re living away from home, trying to be on our best behaviour, and spend much of our time accusing each other of drug-taking. I don’t have proof that it was H who took the last of the proper Codrals, the ones with the real speed in them, but if I’m tempted to turn him over to the IOC nonetheless. As if they’d care.


This is the first Olympic Games of Garnet’s life. During the London Olympics I was pregnant with him, and I watched a lot of sport that fortnight, lying on the sofa, shoulder deep in a bag of salt and vinegar chips, so you’d think something would have seeped in by osmosis, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

I mentioned to him this morning that archery is in the Olympics and he said, ‘No, sport is balls.’

‘I generally agree with you there, Garnet,’ I replied. ‘In my opinion sport is complete balls, but nonetheless, archery is in the Olympics.’ Continue Reading »

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