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The season of joy 

This is the season of joy. So why was I wasting this morning worrying that:
- I have not yet found the perfect Christmas tree,  just because my grandsons are arriving for their first Christmas here. After 63 years of using local branches that smell of gum leaves or casuarina, why do I suddenly need to buy a ‘real’ tree now?
- We have not yet hired a skip to take away the fallen down, now carefully demolished old shed.
- Will I remember to clean the fridge, scrub the laundry, weed the corn…
Answer: nope. Nor do I need to. The puddings are made; there is ALWAYS too much food (I don’t cook. I cater). And it’s always good. The kids will climb trees, pick plums, throw sticks in the creek to see how fast they float, and watch sugar gliders in the blossom.
- There is one deep abiding duty this season. Joy. And peace, love and hope, if possible. But joy always is.

Last December, following the ambulance that was taking my husband to Canberra hospital, I followed a wise man’s advice to hold grief and worry lightly. And it worked. I will never forget the beauty of that afternoon, the gold light glinting behind the tussocks, the shadows that swept across the hills.

We will never live on planet perfect. But we make this the season of joy.

Wombat News

I was going to say that wombats don’t do Christmas, but of course they do. Christmas means more new human smells to investigate on the doormat, which you will then tear up in protest at the intrusion. Strange spice smells coming from the house: bash up garbage bin in protest. Toys left by the front door. Either chew in protest or leave a pile of droppings on the top to mark this territory as yours.
And if the rain fails to fall, and the grass does not grow, speak sternly to your humans at 2 am. Or speak sternly to them anyway, demanding carrots. After all, it’s Christmas.

New Books

If Blood Should Stain the Wattle
The 6th in the Matilda series; for adults from 12 upwards.
This is Australia 1972-1975, with the Whitlam government sweeping away 23 years of coalition tradition, as seen through the eyes of a country town.  It was a tome of deep idealism throughout the nation- even if many of those ideals differed deeply.
In Gibber’s Creek Jed must choose between old love, Nicholas, the new Labor MP, and Sam, from the Half Way to Eternity commune; Scarlet dreams of becoming a doctor, despite her wheelchair; Ra Zachariah waits for the end of the world- and the bringing of a new one, and will be ruthless to make sure it arrives.  And Matilda Thompson will see her father’s political dream from the 1890’s made real; will see mistakes, conspiracies, anguish and elation; an finally be proud that even as the nation is torn apart in the dismissal, no blood will stain the wattle.

Grandma Wombat (With Bruce Whatley)
Age range…everyone !
Our grandkids are always perfect. Even if you are a wombat. Especially if you are a wombat…and your grandson is as stroppy as you are.
Also look for:
Christmas Wombat
Emily’s Bush Christmas
Queen Victoria’s Christmas

The Diary of William Shakespeare, Gentleman 
Part comedy, part love story, the threads of Shakespeare's life drawn from his plays. Could the world's greatest writer truly put down his pen forever to become a gentleman? He was a boy who escaped small town life to be the most acclaimed playwright of the land. A lover whose sonnets still sing 400 years later; a glover's apprentice who became a gentleman. But was he happy with his new riches? Who was the woman he truly loved? 

Barney and the Secret of the Whales
For 8-14 year olds
Adventure, love, ships and Australia in the 1970’s at the Sydney Colony in the second of the Secret History series, gloriously illustrated by mark Wilson.

Other books that make good holiday reading;
Oracle: adventure, horses, ancient Greece, ages 10-16
Pharaoh: ditto, but ancient Egypt
They Came on Viking Ships: Vikings, a dog,  love, adventure,
Let the Land Speak: how the land created the history of our nation. Adults.
Backyard Self-sufficiency: How to grow everything except chocolate in your backyard.

Six Impressive Christmas Trees we will not be having

-  A dwarf lillypilly, with its bright pink new leaves- perfect in a pot, lovely in the ground. And drought hardy too!

- A NSW Christmas bush, complete with its own bright red ‘decorations’ All it needs is some tinsel!

- A bonsai Christmas tree. Bonsai look wonderful on the dining table- and there are some stunning ones around.

- A potted indoor Christmas tree. Any big lush indoor plant can look beautifully Christmassy with the right decorations- even the good old unkillable Kentia palm. And a strezlitzia or ornamental banana can look incredible!

- An outdoor Christmas tree. Choose your favorite garden tree, and decorate it for Christmas either with traditional tinsel, or lots of bird balls so the wildlife can join in the fun.

- A driftwood Christmas tree. Old bleached driftwood- or even prunings from your trees painted red, white or silver, can be turned into something simple but superb.

- An edible Christmas tree! A big pot of rosemary can work as  a small tree for  the Christmas table. But my favourite is an  ornamental chilli. It comes with its own decorations!

P.S. The craziest Christmas tree I ever saw was a giant tomato bush, with tinsel draped between the bright red fruit!


What to give a garden loving mother in law?
NOT a plant. She’ll have to water it- and if she doesn’t have it, she may not want it. Try a great, big, pot instead. Then she’ll have fun choosing her own plant to fill it.
A gift to want to encourage kids to love gardening.

Go for food. A big planter pot of strawberries, so they can  ‘hunt the strawberry’ every day, and eat their produce. A couple of leaves in cool summer drinks make them look impossibly elegant.


I am trying not to think about the schedule for next year. It will appear again in January’s newsletter.  Till then, adieu, or you can see the latest schedule on my website, here.

The December  Garden

It is hot. The dog is hot. The wombats would be hot but they are sensible enough to stay in nice cool holes till midnight.  Read more, here.

Christmas Cheer!

Excellent Fruit Punch
Iced Tea
Veronica's Mum's Iced Honeydew Punch
Lemon Cordial
Red Christmas Cordial
Baked Fish with Salsa
Stuffed Eggs
Christmas Relish
Spectacular Vegetarian Christmas Timbale
Christmas Biscuits
Lemon and Garlic Butter Corn Cobs
Grilled Mushrooms
Christmas Fruit Jelly
Frozen Plum Pudding
Quick and Delectable and Ridiculously Easy Banana and Coconut Icecream
Magnificent Passionfruit Sorbet
Extremely Good Pineapple Sorbet
Raspberry Sorbet


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