Ocean swim at Lorne Pier-to-Pub an unlikely cure

A classic DIY tale of fixing something that’s been broken. An edited version of this story first appeared as ‘Not Drowning, Waving’ in The Big Issue in December 2016.

Goggles for ocean swim | More on diywoman.net


On the second Saturday of every new year, the waters around Lorne heave and churn like a deep fryer of boiling oil with a wire basket-load of chips tossed onto its surface. People pay money to be one of those chips.

The Lorne Pier-to-Pub is the world’s biggest ocean swim race with entries now capped at 5000.

The race has been going for thirty-six years. Organisers introduced a ballot system after 2008, when all available places sold out on the first day of registration.

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Food and philosophy the French way

Confiture aux abricots is apricot jam in FrenchDearest Darlings,

How goes it in cold wet old Melbourne? Truth be told it’s a bit like that in my French hideaway today. I had plans of dusting off the bike and riding into Chinon for the English conversation and afternoon tea but it’s not looking likely at the moment. Maybe I’ll just stay inside and eat. I’m waiting for our bakery van to pull in so I can buy a baguette and a croissant – a very rare treat but it will taste delicious with my HOME MADE apricot jam. No your eyes do not deceive you – my cooking mojo has returned. It went walkabout after 25 years of doing it for a living. Now I can cook for the sheer joy of it – another reason to love my new French home.

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Bilingualism and the language of love

Bilingualism on a blackboard | More on www.diywoman.netPanos Athanasopoulos wrote beautifully about bilingualism in April 2015 in The Guardian Weekly, a piece that moved me to write my first public love-letter and reflect on the language of love.

I spent six months in France to immerse myself in a culture I have loved forever and a language I haven’t spoken for 35 years. The mental workout your brain derives from travelling back and forth between two languages can be likened to the beneficial physical effects of regular visits to the gym: increased flexibility, stamina and occasionally the overwhelming desire to have a lie down and a sleep afterwards.

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Settling into la vie ligérienne

Chèr Édouard,

My morning coffee
My morning coffee

Took the van for a spin yesterday pour faire des courses. My need for fresh milk to make myself a coffee outweighed my terror at having to drive a manual car on the wrong side of the road, so that will give you an idea of my desperate need for a decent coffee. To my surprise and disappointment the French don’t do a weak flat white extra-hot. You can tell Alice I have not only given up on asking for my ridiculous, adjective laden, politically-incorrect coffee, I’ve actually given up buying coffee at a cafe altogether unless I’m prepared to drink a heart starter sans lait. And occasionally I am, for the sake of good Franco-Ausso relations. You just say “un café” – that’s pretty much it for choice. I made the mistake in Paris of asking for some hot milk. It’s all UHT here! Dégoutant! So the plunger chez nous is working overtime.

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Touchdown in the Loire

Dear Mum and Dad,

The view from chez nous
The view from chez nous

It’s 10.30am Wednesday morning and the sun is shining, the birds are singing (even a cuckoo I’m pretty sure) and all’s right with the world. I have found my spiritual home there’s no doubt about that.

My hosts left yesterday for Budapest and a river cruise for 3 weeks. I needed every bit of the 2 days with them to learn the ropes of caring for my menagerie. Toby is my faithful companion, and even Bijou the cat seems fond of me but they DESPISE each other. They’re like cartoon characters. Each has his own half of the house and never the twain shall meet. Continue reading