Remember at the turn of this century when Toile de Jouy had a huge resurgence? Generally it conveys pastoral scenes in France…
or various colonial scenes…
Even Mike D from the Beastie Boys weighed in and had someone create Brooklyn toile for his brownstone bathroom, but the best toile by far…
is Australian. Bush toile y’all.
As winter sets in in the Northern Hemisphere, I thought I’d dig out some photos of the Blue Mountains I haven’t posted yet. We have on puffy coats and leaves are falling and it all looks very autumnal. This is just to serve as a reminder, it does get chilly in Australia. So try to remember that when you get mad at me next week for posting up photos of our recent excursion to Byron Bay and Noosa. It’s late spring here now and all about the beach. Forgive me (unless you live in Florida or Texas).
But, back on our first trip to the Blue Mountains in June, it was cold and we stayed in a charming bed and breakfast called Llandrindod. The two hour train ride into the mountains deposits you into a town called Leura with lovely shops and pretty places to eat. Quiet and quaint, it’s reminiscent of a romantic ride on Metro North into upstate New York.
Of the few attractions not involving spectacular views of the Blue Mountains, there is a Museum of Tea Pots and a Toy and Rail Museum.
But we never made it indoors during daylight hours since there were so many of these types of views to take in.
On our second trip we decided to visit a town called Blackheath, which is a little more off the beaten path than Leura and its more well known counterpart, Katoomba. Since the Blue Mountains go on for ages just west of Sydney, are compared to the Grand Canyon and are one of UNESCO’s protected World Heritage Sites (along with almost everything else in Australia), the surrounding towns draw a large amount of tourism with various ranges of accommodation. We opted for Blackheath as it has a bit more of an understated, local vibe. We found a great house on AirBnB called Magpie Blue with a hostess who gave us wonderful tips on where to go, what to see and when to see it.
She also said to us, “Judging by your accents, I assume you are coffee, not tea drinkers.”
This made us roar with laughter, since she was obviously correct.
“Give me the weekend to turn you into tea drinkers,” she said.
With that she showed us her beautiful tea services stowed away in drawers for us to use as we wished.
“Here is an English Service,” she pointed into the drawer.
“This one is French,” she continued,
and Dutch. We also have a terrific company here called T2. This wooden box,” she closed the drawer and gestured to a medium sized antique wooden box with a golden keyhole, “was used in the Georgian era to store tea since it was so rare.”
The key to unlock it was draped over the side attached to a silky blue tassel. She flipped open the lid to reveal dried black tea leaves mixed with tiny blue flecks of dried flower petals.
“This is the Blue Mountain breakfast tea from T2, it has tiny cornflowers and smells like vanilla, give it a sniff.”
It smelled so lovely, I drank it every morning we were there out of each tea service. Then I went to T2 and bought a whole canister of it, but also discovered they have hundreds of teas including Sydney, Melbourne, New York, Brisbane and even Perth breakfast.
So, she turned me into a tea drinker, and I’ll happily take orders for anyone state-side who’d like to become a tea drinker too. Just put on your comfies and peruse here—>T2Tea
Now that G is four and a half, I might as well get around to some of the books we added to our lives when he was three. There were so many favorites.
If you love kid lit in the kind of weird way I do, there are more books above in the FOR KIDS link.
Around the World with Mouk by Marc Boutavant seemed fitting for G’s 3rd birthday as we were still on tour in the US and knew Australia was next. But on the page where Mouk goes to Australia there are a lot of big sharks, so that wasn’t super.
Fox in Sox by Dr. Seus is the best. There’s nothing else to say. It’s impossible to read and makes you trip over your tongue and everyone involved laughs and laughs.
George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall is so ridiculously sweet. This friendship primer teaches valuable lessons about how to treat your friends and how to expect them to treat you. Plus it’s hysterical.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie happened while we toured through Canada. It was our first official chapter book. A bus ride through the plains of Saskatuan never saw so many pirates and crocs.
Many Moons by James Thurber is a book I had as a girl about a princess who wants the moon and her father goes through all of his advisers to try to get it for her. It is laugh out loud funny for kids and grown ups alike and especially entertaining for anyone who has ever been asked to deliver the moon.
Should I Share My Ice Cream by Mo Willems is a classic Elephant and Piggie Book. These books are great early readers since Mr. Willems is so stinking good at depicting emotions through his illustrations. Elephant gets some ice cream in this one and he wants to share it with his friend, but he also wants it all for himself. What to do? I want to squeeze Mo Willems for being so awesome.
Paddington by Michael Bond is one illustrated chapter of his original book, A Bear Called Paddington. It is delightfully English. Paddington’s love of marmalade and tea has not been lost on G. Plus, every major city in Australia has a district called Paddington in it somewhere.
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd is our favorite New Zealander children’s book discovery. Lynley Dodd is outrageously talented and everything about her books—from the stories to the rhythm to the illustrations to the names of all of Hairy Maclary’s friends—is perfect. The dachshund from around the corner is named: Schnitzel Von Krum with a very low tum. Perfect.
Hairy Maclary’s Bone by Lynley Dodd is just as great if not better than the first Hairy Maclary. All of his friends try to get his bone, but Hairy’s too smart for all that.
Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French was a book I just had to investigate. Before we moved to Australia I didn’t know what a wombat was. I didn’t know, but now I do. If you need a refresher on the cuteness of the wombat, here is a three minute video of one eating grass.
The Diary of a Wombat is almost exactly the same as this video. In his diary he sleeps and scratches and sleeps some more, and yet, you just can’t take your eyes off him.
This is New York by M. Sasek was delivered to G from Santa because all the wombats and marmalade are great, but let’s keep it real.