Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Wishes

On the weekend I followed a walking track along Red Rocks beach on Phillip Island. I have a soft spot for this beach. I've watched my kids play here for the last 17 years, summer after summer. I've walked its length in miserable weather and returned home drenched after a quick downpour. It's delivered everything a beach can, and then some. It's even inspired a story.

This is a beach I know well, but last Saturday we took our directions from a guide book and discovered things we never knew. Things which thrilled me, as this is the beach where my hero and heroine fall in love in my book The Everlasting.

I learned this stretch of beach is the least changed of all the beaches on Phillip Island in almost 200 years of settlement. That's exactly what I wanted to hear. To know the coastal vistas and contours are similar to what my characters may have experienced on their long walks. 

Just off the walking track, my map showed a detour with a local treasure. Tucked along Chillingworth Road, and high on a hill sits one of the island's earliest homes. Built in the late 1860s by the pioneering Richardson family, it was once known as Everton and later as Tallowalla. Imagine the wonderful stories held there of life in Colonial Australia? And imagine me as the new owner... because it's for sale! Yes... a fancy For Sale sign greeted us as we climbed the hill to the garden gate.

Alas, a friendly chat with the current owner left me with no illusions. While I may dream of hosting writing retreats there and sharing the ocean views with friends, the price tag means I can only add this location to the fiction rattling around in my head. 

But, if I cannot live there for real... I know I can set all sorts of dramas there on paper and perhaps feature this beautiful home in another of my stories. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Victorian Era Remedies

Skin Care

School holidays and second hand book stores are made for each other. At least on my calendar, they are. And last week was no exception. As soon as I could, I scoured the Phillip Island antique shops for holiday loot. As always, there's never a reason to hope for treasures. The dilemma remains... what to leave behind?

This time 2 Australian treasures made it to the counter. The Ladies' Handbook of Home Remedies and Grandma's Favourite Remedies. Anything with 'old remedies' really does belong on my shelf. I know it. The books know it. I'm sure the shop keeper sees me coming and dusts off all the 19th century books. Ah, who am I kidding. Since when would a little dust keep me from my finds? Crumbly, faded... it doesn't matter. The older the better. I love to pour over tricks used by resourceful Victorian Era woman.

Here's some wisdom I gleaned from Grandma's Favourite Remedies for eliminating spotty skin and making the complexion bright. And really, how could I not share this? Anything that starts with 'gather lavender' is worthy of a mention. So...

1. Gather lavender, elder flower or citrus blossom.
2. Boil in water.
3. Leave mixture to stand until cool. 
4. Strain the liquid and use it several times a day to bathe skin. 

Grandma from the United States made it into the remedy book too. Her wisdom came in a drink of equal parts wild indigo, echinacea and pulsatilla. They were boiled together, strained off and left to cool. Twice a day she would drink a small glass of this. If anyone knows what pulsatilla might be, please let me know.

And if drinking your medicine was not your thing, you could always make a viola tonic. Used to bathe the skin at night, it was prized for reducing inflammation and soothing the skin. I guess these Victorian women knew when they planted their flowers and herbs, they were not only making cottage gardens, they were stocking their medicine cupboard.

Do you have a home remedy for keeping skin clear? Are your remedies in a dusty book, or is the wisdom handed down from generation to generation?