How to plan for a holiday where you’ll do very little

Ah holidays. I’m on them now. Lucky me. Four weeks of rest and relaxation and recharging.

But you know me. Can’t be an end of year column without a good list.

For some reason my friends, and some readers, seem to come to me for advice. What to see, what to do, where to go. Like I would know.

Sure, I get to do a few things about town, come across a few books, eat a few meals, see a show or two. But really, if I can’t get my own children to pay attention to my advice, what chance do I have with anyone else.

But, for the record, and so a few of my dear friends might leave me alone, here’s what I’m up to this summer.


Yotam Ottolenghi and I are going to cook our way through a relaxed summer together.

I’m going to cook my way through a couple of cookbooks I treated myself to this year. I’ll finally have time to give Gill Meller’s Time: A year and a day in the kitchen (Quadrille, $39.99) proper attention. It’s a gentle collection of recipes and stories, working its way through morning, noon and night, “the touchstones of our days, and days are the markers of our years”. What more fitting time to reflect on that concept. Fried mackerel with tomatoes, garlic and herbs is the first recipe to be made.

Yotam Ottolenghi scares me. He’s a bit fancy. But his Ottolenghi Simple (Ebury, $49) has made it simple enough for even me to deal with. Wonderful food in less than 30 minutes, one pot, meals to prepare ahead. This book screams summer holidays. Serve up the Iranian herb fritters with a nice cold wine, add friends, perfect.


Add friends. I’m on my own a bit this summer so I’m endeavouring not to be alone. Anyone who wants to come and sample my cooking let me know. Summer is a time for kids to be jumping into pools, running through sprinklers, staying out late, watching movies in the dark. The weeks I don’t have mine I’d like to fill my house with other people’s kids. Little kids. Let’s feed them (Meller's Spaghetti with tomato and fried chicken), plonk them in bean bags in the other room in front of the television and enjoy adult company. There’s to be more of that in 2019.


Join me on a walk to Boyd Tower near Eden.

And to reduce the guilt from all this indulgence I plan to discover some new places to walk. The National Arboretum is just around the corner but I’m keen to explore the walking trails that meander through there. And while I’ve conquered a little of the Centenary Trail there’s more kilometres to cover. Further afield I might wander to Kangaroo Valley to walk the Missingham Lookout Track with its wide angle view of the spectacular Carrington Falls Gorge. Maybe the challenge is to do the Light to Light walk in Eden, starting at Boyd Tower, 31km to Green Cape Light station. Might have to overnight that one. Come walk with me.


Can I convince Jack Heath to pop over and read his new book out aloud to me?Credit:Karleen Minney

So I’d better pack a book. But which one. My bedroom floor is almost literally covered in books. Apart from the huge pile I have to read because I’ve already lined up interviews in the new year (and how super that four Canberra authors are in that pile: Karen Viggers, Sulari Gentill, Jack Heath and Ginger Gorman), there’s another pile I want to read. Reese Witherspoon’s given Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing a boost, picking it for her bookclub and snapping up the film rights. It’s a coming of age story set in a quiet town on the North Carolina coast with a murderous twist. Always have to read a bit of murder over the holidays so Soren Sveistrup’s The Chestnut Man looks horrifying enough. The first novel by the creator of the television show The Killing has a serial killer and all the atmospherics you’d expect from the Scandis. Temi Oh’s debut, Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, has 10 astronauts leaving a dying earth trying to find a habitable planet in a nearby solar system. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives. What could go wrong? Sounds like the school holidays.

Enjoy yours.

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