Sisters, reunited

A couple of days ago, my dear sister Fluffy arrived from London (where she lives) to celebrate her impending 30th birthday in Sydney.

2015/02/img_5485-0.jpg We’ve always been really good friends, but when I was 10 I clearly begrudged her for having the cute-factor that got her out of trouble at every turn. A point I made quite clear in this letter I penned to Tutti.

2015/02/img_54831.jpgDear Mummy, I’m very sorry although it was not all my fault. You have to understand that whenever you shout at Sonia or me, you always use my name or stare at me during a lecture so I feel blamed for everything. I feel parents should treat old & young kids the same. To try and make you forgive me I have tidied my room and used my best writing paper in this letter. I also hope that sometimes you won’t fall for her (Sonia) cute act as I know that in being 6 years she is cuter than me anyway. Sorry about the writing. Love, your misbehaved daughter Cecily Anna B.
P.S. I think the threats you give sometimes are mean.


Stalking, talking and too much coffee: How I met my husband.

The day I met the man who would be my husband, I was sitting in Marcello’s café in Chatswood (long gone) sipping a hot chocolate, smoking a cigarette (back when I didn’t think it was a disgusting habit) and writing in my notepad.

I can’t remember what I was writing – probably the beginning of yet another novel which I’d already imagined would be a bestseller and which, 800 words in, would be discarded and forgotten in some dusty drawer – but I do remember that Marcello’s hot chocolates were a tall glass of the thickest, most decadent, Belgian choc, slowly melted and stirred into steaming milk – about 15 billion calories of sweet, liquid indulgence.

I can also remember (how could I forget?) the man who delivered my drink order: all sparkly blue-green eyes and mischievous dimples, set in the most perfectly round, smooth head (read: bald as a badger. Which is a stupid cliché, because anyone who has ever seen a badger knows that they’re not bald, but furry. And vicious, I’ve heard. They’d eat a small child – or a large one – given the chance.)


Here he is. My husband: the man who makes me laugh the most, who makes a mean dark chocolate creme brûlée without having to follow a recipe and who knows how to work a vacuum cleaner (not a euphemism).

I don’t know what it was. Ordering a hot chocolate is nothing out of the ordinary. But as it landed on my table, I was suddenly struck by the most overwhelming waiter-crush and a small voice in my head that really, truly said, “Yep, you’re going to marry that one!” It seems ridiculous looking back, even now. After all, I didn’t know him from a bar of soap (another stupid cliché. I mean who ever really gets to know a bar of soap? They’re not exactly good conversationalists).


A rare sunny day in London.

And so began a couple of months of harmless, infatuated stalking. By which I mean that I started frequenting the café… by which I mean I’d have up to five cappuccinos a day, on my most desperate, stalkerish days, while I sussed out the situation and watched my completely oblivious husband-to-be with mist in my eyes.


At Kenwood House, Hampstead, London

It’s probably a good time to mention that back then I wasn’t a coffee drinker. I didn’t even really like the taste – but to my 20-year-old mind, drinking hot chocolates all day just didn’t seem, well, sophisticated enough. The chocolate was out – the coffee was in. The anxiety disorder didn’t really appreciate it, to be honest (jitters, much?), but who was I to care? I had a man to impress (and apparently, coming across as a crazed, café-obsessed caffeine-fiend was the way to do it).


Prague, 2007. We missed our flight because we drank too much the night before, and directed our taxi to the wrong airport. When we finally arrived, we realised in our inebriated state, we’d packed our suitcase so stupidly, Matty only had one pair of pointy dress shoes to wear, and pointy shoes + endless exploring + cobbled streets = ruptured achilles tendon.

It’s impossible not to build a rapport with someone when every day you drink insane amounts of hot beverages at their place of employment. So my waiter (who I discovered was a 23-year-old backpacker from London) and I started chatting. Just a bit of small talk here, a little bit of banter there.


Three years ago, the day I turned 30.

I’m going to cut this very long story short now and tell you that I eventually asked him out on a date. Not a real one, mind you. Just a casual ‘I’m-going-to-Home-nightclub-with-my-friends-on-Saturday do-ya-wanna-come?’ It wasn’t very romantic. He even left with his friends, without saying goodbye. But the following week, he asked me out and we went for dinner and danced and chatted all night and discovered that beyond his ability to make coffee – and mine to drink it – we had a lot in common. And the night after that, I came home to a gigantic bunch of flowers (a completely quirky, spiky mix of native Australian blooms) and I remember standing at the front door and holding my flowers in my arms and having a little weep because no man had ever sent me flowers before and it was so lovely.


So young, so fresh-faced. Standing in our flat in Golders Green, London where you can’t see the threadbare green carpet, the paint peeling off the walls from the damp, nor hear the mouse scurrying through the kitchen cupboard.

We were inseparable from then on. Well, for the next three months, because then his working holiday visa expired, which meant he had to go back to London… which meant he tried to make his life easier by repeatedly trying to dump me. Trying being the operative word. Every time he suggested parting ways I brought out my very best histrionics and pitiful tears and desperately sad eyes and most wonderful, romance-novel-worthy heartstring-tugging lines until he relented.


Just got engaged, April 2008. I’m not sure I look happy enough.

And when he did have to leave, which was one of the saddest days of my life, I cried all day. Until he arrived in London, and we spoke on the phone – and we resolved to speak every day after that. And somehow, we managed to keep it together and have a Sydney-to-London long distance romance for almost 18 months, with only short visits (and expensive phone calls, and packages in the mail) in between.


It’s worth noting that THIS is my engagement ring. Yep, I definitely married the man of my dreams. And my reality. (Apologies if you require a vom bucket about now).

A month after finishing my Creative Arts degree at Uni, I moved to London. We were there for almost six years together before he proposed and we decided to get married and settle back in Australia. It’s now 13 years since I drank that first hot chocolate. I still prefer chocolate to coffee.

And the rest, as they say, is history.









Truth is truly stranger than fiction

(NB: I could not possibly imagine how I was going to illustrate this post, so I decided that on this occasion, it was probably safer for all of us if I just stuck with the words…)

Sometimes you have those days that you never forget (try as you might). This story is about one of those days. This story is about the day my manager shat her pants.

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Everyone, meet Fluffy

Happy Friday one and all!

Today, I’d like to introduce my sister Fluffy. I’ve explained before why my 28 year old adult sister is named after a dog (a cute, frivolous, fluffy dog) but what you probably don’t know about her is that she has a lot of other names as well:
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Tutti and The Guru get it wrong. Again.

I asked my parents for a ‘baby book’. That in itself is an ambiguous request and one that I clearly didn’t articulate well.

I can still vividly remember what I was hoping for. I must have been about 12, and Tutti’s friends were having babies. One of them had this amazing book about birth. Graphic pictures of foetuses in utero, at different stages of incubation. I was fascinated by these pale pink, beady eyed aliens. Fascinated.

I asked for a baby book.

I wanted this:


From ‘The Facts Of Life’ pop up book by Jonathan Miller and David Pelham


From ‘The Facts Of Life’ pop up book by Jonathan Miller and David Pelham

Instead, I got this:


Yes, it’s ‘Where Did I Come From’ by Peter Mayle, illustrated by Arthur Robins


Not quite what I had in mind. But very educational.


The Guru Saves a Bee (or does he?)

The Guru, as you probably already know, prides himself on his Buddhist-like approach to all creatures great and small. He would do just about anything to save a life, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.


The Bee Whisperer in Ravello, Italy

He never fails to elicit shellackings (well-deserved, in my opinion), when Tutti shrieks at him to dispatch one of the revolting, bush cockroaches that scuttle through the house now and then in summer, and rather than stomp it’s lights out – or spray it with the trusty Mortein, he ferries it onto his palm as if ushering a cute, fluffy hamster, and sends it outside into the garden (after which it inevitably finds its way back in). Cue more shrieking, more shellackings and so on, and so forth.

I’ve written about The Guru rescuing bees before, and here he goes again. My sister Fluffy recounted this story to me just the other day. It’s a true Guru moment, too good not to share.

If you’ve ever been to Oxford Circus, you’ll know that it seethes with people. There are pedestrians everywhere, jostling and shmostling, everyone in a hurry, going about their business, not giving any consideration to anyone else. If you’ve lived in London, you’ll know the true meaning of ‘pedestrian rage’; fast-rising blood pressure and fantasies about kicking slowcoaches in the shins. You have to move with the tide, or risk being trampled.

On this particular day, the Guru was at Oxford Circus with Tutti and Fluffy. They had just emerged from Topshop and were crossing the road. There’s an island in the middle of the crossing so you can cross halfway. Tutti and Fluffy made it the whole way across, then realised The Guru was nowhere to be seen.

The reason they couldn’t see him, is because he was crouched down on the ground, in the middle of the sea of people, in the middle of the road. What was he doing there? He was rescuing a bee of course. What else?

The Guru crossed to where Tutti and Fluffy were waiting, then stopped. He had successfully picked up the bee, which was in his hand, happily waggling its little bee bottom. “Wait,” thought The Guru. “What can I possibly do with a bee in the middle of Oxford Circus?” After all, there aren’t any lush gardens, or welcoming trees that might allow the bee to continue living the life The Guru had decided it deserved. So what did he do? He walked to the nearest garbage bin, and tried to wipe the bee off his hand onto the rim.

Well, the bee wasn’t having a bar of it. Being chauffered around on The Guru’s warm, pudgy hand was a luxury it hadn’t been expecting – and now that it was there, it had no intention of moving on. ‘A GARBAGE BIN?’ Shrieked the bee, disgustedly, “WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM? A FREAKING COCKROACH? TAKE ME SHOPPING GODDAMIT! AND THEN TO FORTNUM AND MASON FOR AN ICECREAM!”

But the Guru, a long time tinnitus sufferer, misheard the bee’s demands as crickets in his ears. Unable to smear the bee onto the filthy, dirty garbage can, he instead took a few paces back and FLUNG his hand in the air. “Fly little bee!” He said. “FLY!”

With a flick of his wrist, the bee was gone.

Where, you might ask?

I suspect it ended up under the wheels of a bus, or at the very least, on the sole of someone’s shoe.

So, was it the thought that counted? I’m not really sure.


High Society

Tutti and The Guru arrived in London yesterday to visit my talented and gorgeous sister, (fashion-designer-extraordinaire) Fluffy. So, what did they do on their first night on the town? OBVIOUSLY, they went to the opening of The Glamour of Belville Sassoon at the London Fashion and Textile Museum and hobnobbed with doyens of fashion, art and creativity. Oh, and Princess Michael of Kent. You can see their photos from the event below (apologies for some of the more blurry ones – but you get the idea). Enjoy! And, hooray for the weekend! x


Tutti and The Guru, fitting right in.


Belville Sassoon


From left: Princess Michael of Kent, Zandra Rhodes


The inimitable Zandra


Cilla Black and Tutti


Fluffy, and a very gorgeous ex-colleague of mine, Sian Parry from Marie Claire



Tutti. Stunner!


Out of focus Guru



The Guru and the model


Cilla Black and The Guru


The Guru and a couple of beauties


David Sassoon and Princess Michael of Kent


The Guru, Zandra Rhodes, Tutti


Fluffy, Andrew Logan (, Tutti