Walking the Île St Louis, Paris

Paris - anneharrison.com.au

For the short while I had in Paris, every day I would venture down to a little supermarket on the Île St Louis. I never left empty-handed: a smoked chicken, some quail, or perhaps some cheese; yoghurt in its own ceramic pot (which I collected and brought home), a bottle of red. Consisting of two aisles barely wide enough for people to pass one another the place could hardly be classified as a supermarket, yet it was not a corner store, for in that small shop lay a wealth of offerings to put any supermarket to shame. The shop was simply the essence of the Île St Louis.

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Stocking My Minimalist Weekender Pantry

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One of the best things about a weekender is arriving late on a Friday, sitting on the veranda with a glass of bubbles in hand, and watching the late afternoon light play across the hills. Surrounded by 100 acres of Australian bush, with neither phone nor television to disturb, and the electricity occasionally taken out by a passing kangaroo, it’s the perfect place to escape and recharge the soul.

Part of that serenity comes from not stressing about cooking. Simplicity is always best. With the place being only an hour from home, bringing fresh food is not a problem, plus local fruit and veggie stalls line the way. We’re lucky enough to have the Great Northern Trading Post five minutes away (complete with the oldest continual liquor licence in the colony outside of Sydney), which serves the like of grilled spatchcock or steak with pommes frites, yet it takes little effort to have the makings of meals for every time of day.

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In Search Of A Perfect Japanese Curry

I never eat hospital food. I used to, some twenty years ago, if my break coincided with their irregular hours. The food was cheap, plentiful, and grey – including the vegetables. One evening as I searched for something to eat, I turned the wrong way coming out of the lifts and found myself outside the morgue. I never ate in the cafeteria again.

Luckily, every hospital nowadays has a private café, usually near the entrance and doused in sunlight. There are even express lines for those flourishing a hospital ID. The range of food extends from sandwiches and pies to offerings such as Persian rice salad or glass noodles. Last time I waited for my coffee I noticed a Japanese curry.

Until discovering the works of Haruki Murakami, I never thought of Japan as a land of curries, my knowledge instead restricted to sushi, sashimi, sake and Iron Chef. (Nor had I had associated Japan with truck stops, but in Kafka on the Shore I found both.) In Murakami the curries fed both body and soul; the curry I ordered tasted brown. So began my quest to find a true Japanese curry.

 

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The Umbrella Revolution and Me

 

The morning was still young. I seemed to be the only person about, which is a rare occurrence in Hong Kong. An occasional snore, or a soft rustle – little other noise came from the tents.

For tents there were, stretching along a highway which would normally be a traffic jam. The skyscrapers towered over them, emblazoned with huge advertisements for the next product to bring wealth and happiness. In contrast, protest signs hung from the overpasses, along with clusters of umbrellas. Continue Reading →

Death By Books

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I live surrounded by books. The photo above is of my bedside table, just to give an idea of what I’m currently reading – plus I also have a ridiculous number on my ipad. Quite often I have books piled on the bed-head as well. One morning my kids will come in and find me buried by the books, only my feet visible. There are worse ways to go.

On rebuilding last year most of our things were stored in the little house. Now we’re planning to demolish it and build a granny flat for my Mum. So, in we go and clear the place out. The little house is comprised of two rooms, a hallway and a bathroom, all of which are full. We literary have to take a box out before we can take a step forward, take out what we can reach, a few more steps forward… it’s been a great chance to declutter. The skip we’ve hired is rapidly filling (which is a tad embarrassing, considering we decluttered when we built last year. Apparently.) As we pull out the flotsam and jetsam of our lives we bring out some books. Boxes and boxes of them. Like an archeological dig, the deeper we go, the more interesting the discoveries. Books we’d forgotten about. Books we remember but haven’t seen in so long. Old friends greeting each other after too much time apart.

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Sunshine, Birdsong and St. Dunstan-In-The-East

 

I stood in the middle of London on a summer’s day listening to birdsong. Sparrows and other small birds hoped around me and darted through the undergrowth. A breeze cooled by the foliage softened the heat. The sounds of traffic were barely audible. Some people from the nearby offices sat amongst the stones and vines eating their lunch, nodding to us as we wandered by.

London in summer continued to surprise me. With only two days I planned to show my daughter a range of places, from the old to the new, from the hidden to the startling obvious (yes, Big Ben was included). Common tourist sites are popular because they’re great places to go – but there are always other places well worth hunting down. Half the delight is in the contrast between them – followed by lunch at a nearby pub.

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