Dear Friends

Its Midsummer today, 21 June, and it is hard to believe that 6 months has passed since my last blog. You can blame London. End of story: yes, London, my adopted home, at least for the moment. It gobbles up my time and it still takes my breath away.

If I chunk it down, the overriding thing is learning. Whilst I was an appalling student at school and bored out of my wits, now I have a hunger for not just more experiences, but more knowledge and wisdom. With so much choice here for everything you could possibly want I have developed a healthy addiction to this city and the stimulation it provides.

I have been exposed to so many things that my prior life left out and the more I get access to, the more I want. My peregrinations around this city (and sometimes I even go beyond Zone 1….but not often!!) have led me to learn aspects of British History that my expensive girls’ school missed and much, much more. I learned about an Adelaide born suffragette who chained herself to the Houses of Parliament, about an illegitimate Scottish woman who entertained kings and maharajahs at her home Polsden Lacey; I heard Charles Spencer talk of the killing of Charles the First at his ancestral home Althorp, and also Julian Fellows, the creator of Downton Abbey.

I’ve visited the home of sculptor Arthur Fleischmann who lived in Oz and has pieces scattered throughout the world, seen Rubens and Diebenkorn at the RA, Impressionists and Grayson Perry at the NG, new David Hockney works, Marlene Dumas, Gold and early photos of the Middle East at the Queen’s Gallery, the extraordinary Alexander McQueen at the V&A, Pre-Raphaelites and the Indigenous Australia exhibition at the British Museum at a breakfast hosted by the Australian High Commissioner, H.E. Hon Alexander Downer A.C. and I’ve heard Julia Gillard talk on gender equality and the education of girls at the prestigious Institute of Directors in Pall Mall. Next Saturday I will attend the 30th Anniversary Dinner of the Australian Women’s Club at the RAC.

My activities have taken me to Kensington Palace, Spencer House, Fulham Palace and Australia House many times to celebrate Queensland Day, the Legacy Annual Reception, to commemorate the Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser, AC CH and more. I’ve seen tiny gardens in Spitalfields where my son’s ancestors and other Huguenot refugees wove their beautiful decorated silks. I sat behind the Queen and Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey for the 100th Anniversary ANZAC Service and I did the tourist thing standing outside Buck House for the procession when she recently opened Parliament. I’ve been to a couple of the ancient Gentlemen’s Clubs and I’ve learned about the ‘influx’ of American heiresses who brought their fathers’ wealth to prop up the poverty-stricken landed gentry between the two wars.

I’ve taken blog writing classes, Italian classes and supported 6000 participants in Tony Robbins’ annual London UPW and 800 at Business Mastery a couple of weeks ago. And I worked hard and long on the Second Annual Australia and New Zealand Literary and Arts Festival which was held successfully a month ago.

Music and theatre are always on my agenda and I’ve had wonderful nights out with the Buena Vista Social Club, Mozart’s Requiem and Allegri Miserere by candlelight, Sweeney Todd, The Merchant of Venice with an Elvis overlay, the amazing Aussie talent in Sunday in the Apartment and The One Day of the Year, my friend Trish’s production in the Finborough. I sat in the front row of the Barbican for Waiting for Godot with the Sydney Theatre Company and enjoyed the after party with director Andrew Upton, Kylie Minogue and Kathy Lette and Hugo Weaving.

Eating and drinking have been important with a four week wine course on Italian wines and an 8 week one on European wines, a degustation Yalumba dinner and lunches and dinners all over town. Suffice to say that the kitchen in my flat is barely used and cooking skills sadly diminishing!

Out of town I had a gorgeous few days with friends and art in Prague, a lovely long weekend day in Cambridge with my Hugo and Eve and a fun day at The Royal Household Cricket Club at Windsor Castle where the Australian High Commission played its annual match against The Royal Household. Not this year, but previously, Liz and Phil have been known to hang over the fence and applaud at the right time!

I’ve also had a lovely but not particularly restful fortnight in Tuscany preparing the house and grounds for the summer season and my guests, and it is to there that I head in 8 days.

I’m looking forward to a change of pace, good food fresh from the next field or the next village. I can’t wait to swim in my lovely pool every day and read all the books that keep stacking up beside my bed. I’m looking forward to visits from Hugo and Eve, from friends and also to the time alone.

When I come back I will be thrust into my new role as President of the Australian Women’s Club London, the classes I’ve signed up for on British History and a 5 day walk in Alsace.

Wishing you all a happy Solstice today – winter or summer, and health and happiness: and learning. If all else fails, learn something you didn’t know before and your life will be richer. Well that’s what I’ve found and I’m sticking to it. Thank you London for making that happen for me.

Until next time
Buzz – with heart

PS: If you would like to follow my Tuscan summer, please pop over to and sign up for my regular blogs on Italy, tomatoes, markets etc. I am sure you will love the photos that will be included!