Monday, November 5, 2012

The #humanbrochure: a post from the (human) heart

“For the most part, we treat others in a matter of fact way; we have to, in order to get on with our lives. But every so often, in a moment of insight that can be nearly mystical in its intensity, we see others in their real humanity, in a way which makes us want to cherish them as joint pilgrims...” 

So writes Alexander McCall Smith, that wonderful wordsmith who, in many of the novels he has penned, lovingly and proudly portrays the Edinburgh he knows so well.

Those words above from the The World According to Bertie, resonated loudly with me as I read them. Two weekends ago, while standing at the coffee cart, overlooking the Northern Eucalypt Lawn at the National Botanic Gardens, I had experienced an unexpected and heady rush of pride that I am a Canberran. My next thought, hot on the heels of the first, was that I felt strongly connected with this sated and sun-soaked collective of big and small humans with whom I was participating in this adventure called the Human Brochure.

Big and small humans sunning themselves on the Eucalypt Lawn, National Botanic Gardens

Both of these thoughts, no doubt forming and germinating over the previous couple of days, snuck up on me and took me by surprise in their intensity. Truly though, it should have come as no surprise. The smiles I saw in that moment on the faces and in the hearts of my fellow humans (human hearts smile, don't you know?) had had their genesis in an idea. The Works and Australian Capital Tourism nurtured, developed and gave wings to this idea through creative curiosity, technical know-how, strong Canberra-region stakeholder partnerships and attention to each and (almost) every detail. Set for launch on the last weekend in October 2012, the idea was ready. But would it fly?

As has been mentioned in articles and blog posts about the Human Brochure**, the stream of harvested content uploaded by this bunch of social-media enthralled humans – some more tech savvy than others, but each with a unique perspective and voice – speaks for itself. Beautiful images and quirky observations; snakes, bikes, nurses in uniform, gorgeous tasting plates, wine to delight, desserts to crave, suitcasepenguin, misty rainforest, Rothko, miniature worlds, stoked kids with facial wounds, nightlife, crisp hotel linen, Flanders Red poppies, #skyporn, suitcase markets, sleep patterns of giraffes, Lauren Jackson, plush carpet, dinosaur poo, Gibralter Peak...the list goes on. Personal, intriguing, accessible, enticing, 'gonna come back' kind of stuff.

Small humans tour, National Botanic Gardens

This ode to Canberra and the experiences this group of humans have been only too happy to share with anyone and everyone who will listen (yes, more #humanbrochure my Sydney friends!) was as fun as it sounds. As genuine as it sounds. As full-on as it sounds. For big and small alike, the jam-packed itinerary provided laughter, learning and leisure in just about the right quantities. Late nights and humans of the smaller variety are not an easy mix, but in the main, the momentum and new-found friendships carried us through. My small humans, their parents and the other families on this adventure wholeheartedly engaged with each other, the fantastic venues, the wonderfully warm, thoughtful and caring hosts and, naturally, with the uniqueness of this world-first campaign. What a privilege!

This experience, against the backdrop of the diversity and generosity Canberra displayed over the approximately 48 action-packed hours has become for me, a tangible thing. Not just in the goodies with which we came home. Not just in the clever and 'take notice world' living, breathing testimony that is the Human Brochure. Not just in our bulging new collection of happy snaps. It's tangible within. It's in the memories created from interacting with passionate, professional and knowledgeable staff at each place visited, unexpectedly meeting friends of friends, service with a smile, our children's infectious excitement, smells and sounds (I know what you're thinking, lots of kids travelling on buses can't be good...promise it was) and from hearing other's stories of home, work, travel and, well, everyday human life.

So thank you fellow pilgrims, for putting the 'human' in the Human Brochure. You (and Canberra) are cherished.

Imogen Ingram and her family were stoked to be part of the Family Fun stream of this social experiment. They have a renewed delight in Canberra and the region, are very interested to see what follows for the Human Brochure project and will be staying connected with friends they made along the way.

Particular thanks go to: Australian Capital Tourism, The Works, Clifton Suites on Northbourne, Murrays Coaches, The Australian War Memorial, QuestaconThe Lobby, Cockington Green, The National Dinosaur Museum, The National Zoo and Aquarium, The National Botanic Gardens of Australia and The Australian Institute of Sport. Of course, the biggest thanks go to all the humans involved for making the weekend fly!

**Further reading is available via Delicious in a (growing) collection of articles and blog posts about the Human Brochure.

Burning bright

Enjoying the scent of Sweet Pomelo by Citta Design...burns sweet but not cloying.

Photo credit: Imogen Ingram

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Upholstered walls via Little Green Notebook

Am loving Jenny's red upholstered office wall featured at Little Green Notebook.

This would look wonderful in our bedroom in a textured charcoal linen or a stone pinstripe perhaps?  Or as a quick and easy way to add colour to my girls' rooms, a plain or stripe with contrasting trim.  Hmmmm possibilities......


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Temple & Webster Blog

Here's an Aussie blog I've been reading for about a year now - great for finding products, often Australian made, at discounted rates.  Read it at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Craftspeople of another time

These words stilled and caught me up this morning while reading a beautiful book set in the late 1700s:

"Thomas Kellaway was a chairmaker - a profession which required patience, a steady hand and an eye for the shape the wood would best take."
(taken from Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright, p185-86)

"Thomas Kellaway knew his elm and ash, his yew and chestnut and walnut.  He knew what would work and look best for the seat (always elm), the legs and spindles (he preferred yew if he could get it), the hoop for the back and arms (ash). He understood how much he could bend ash before it splintered; he could sense how hard he had to chop at an elm shape the seat.  He loved wood, for he had been using it all his life."
(taken from Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright, p186)

I appreciate very much Chevalier's depiction of the way the craftsman knows his material, is connected to it, loves it and knows its capabilities - how far it can be bent, which type of wood is most flexible or strong.  Think of a sculpter drawing out from marble or stone that which is within, or a potter forming and shaping clay into objects of beauty and function.

I also love the sense of continuity and the passing down of knowledge through the generations of a craft, along with the timelessness this evokes.

At the end of last year, the ABC featured a BBC series, hosted by Monty Don (of Italian Gardens), which looked at a different traditional craft each week - chairmaking, thatching and the like.  Sadly, I only watched one episode and can't remember the name of the program.  However, I was struck by the reverence of and delight taken in the materials used, and the process of transforming or adapting them for the task at hand.  I was also slowed and inspired by the craftspeople and their patience and gentleness in relation to others, nature and life.  Does anyone remember the name of this show? I would love to watch it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

By candlelight

Picture this:

Husband out at a boys movie. Kids in bed. Classical music wafting through the darkened lounge room along with a subtle fragrance from the scented candle, the flame of which flickers and dances mesmerisingly. Ahh, finally ALONE. My eyelids are getting heavy. My lounge and cushions are my nest. All is right with the world.....mmmmmm.

"Mum, I can't sleep."

"Nor can I!" chimes in a higher pitched whisper.

Me speaking in my head (but could possibly have been an audible groan :-) ): "Noooooo...!"

Did you think it was all over?

I thought so too, but AMAZINGLY, Miss A and Miss T joined me on the lounge (love a generous sofa. Thanks Mom!), remained silent and still and the three of us drifted off into a blissful, dreamy state until Mr T returned home.

I felt so contented the next day and so thankful for a precious moment that I could never (ever) have engineered even if I'd tried.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Random and various

Had breakfast with my gorgeous husband T-man (this week off, his new job begins next Monday @ DHS) at Silo this morning - delicious. More delicious was the Vanilla Brûlée that we snacked on afterwards. Pastry - buttery, yuuummm. Thin toffee layer on top - crunch ("crinkle" says T-man). Custard - mmmmm, silky. So good to be together (sans offspring, of course), and the baguette that we bought in anticipation of lunch was divine. It's the small things....

Our front entrance has been SAD since we've been here. Boxy, concrete-y and square with NO rounded edges. We would like to soften and add some character, so our cheap and quick solution is a couple of pots plus Sasanqua Camelias. Went to Bunnings after breakfast today to further this endeavour. Again, it's the small things.....

Our lovely neighbour giving us quinces and figs from her luscious, established garden - priceless. Sooooooo goooood.

Ok, off to watch some "CHUCK" (Americana we are watching on our laptop, scabbed from a friend). LOVE IT!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My French Table

Dreaming of travelling to participate in any of these.


Contenting myself for now with the book. A beautiful present from Mum around Christmas time. Thanks Mum!

My eldest regularly asks "Mum, when are you and I going to Paris?". Perhaps instead we'll head to Chateau de Bousguet.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My heart wanders

...and mine is stirred by the inner and geographical journey Pia-Jane Bijkerk celebrates in this book: Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, letting go, discovering new ways of living and loving, the significance of a good cup of tea, finding and creating a home on the other side of the world...

Beautiful images, poetry and musings - a fragrance, curtains billowing gently in the breeze, water lapping against a boat's hull, reflected light on the ceiling - combine to bring forth from the pages a sense of place and life.

My heart wanders was all over the blogs a couple of years ago, but I only recently delved in. My heart is so glad I did! Thinking I'd like a copy of my own.

A few lines in particular grabbed me today:

My mother was always questioning this habit of mine..."Why do you feel you have to explain everything to people?...[People] want to believe what they want to believe...Conserve your energy, my love (italics mine) - live your life and enjoy it, don't worry what other people think."

These words have got me thinking about enjoying my life (and keeping on enjoying it) day...this moment - not justifying or explaining decisions, needlessly using energy - and those around me who encourage me in this. Some do it with words, some just by being who they are. Thank you J & M, J, S, J and T. You all do that for me in your own way.

Do you have someone who has consistently reminded to really enjoy your life or inspires you by their ability to do this?