• Travel Thursday

    Travel Thursday – this week we’re off to Scone

    Travel Thursday

    I’m adding a new weekly theme to the Blog – Welcome to the first Travel Thursday Post

    It’s a while since I shaken things up here and I got to thinking about some fun new things to add. I know none of us has travelled much in the last year, and here in Australia we won’t be going beyond our shores, largely until 2022 but because COVID is pretty under control here we are allowed to travel internally. Not only that, but I’ve recently moved to a new area where there are lots of things for me to explore and share with you. Plus, many of my author friends feature travel in their books and I love a bit of vicarious travel every now and then so off we go on some adventures.

    A Trip to Scone in the Upper Hunter.

    A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went with a couple of friends to Scone, NSW. It’s located in the Upper Hunter about 2 hours from where we live now in Newcastle.

    We chose this place because a longtime mutual friend of ours owns a B&B in Scone. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might recall I was in a writing group for a long time called The Writer’s Dozen. It formed out of a writing course at the NSW Writers Centre, where we aimed to write a novel in a year. Well, my friend Angella was in that original group, as was Jen who owns the B&B, so it made sense we’d plan our overnight jaunt there.


    Me, jen and Angella
    L-R – Monique, Jen, Angella

    Turns out we didn’t see too much of the town itself but we saw lots of our friends so here’s a little recap.

    Pre-COVID Angella and I often met up at the Customs House Library in Sydney for a Friday writing session and lunch and we hope to get that started again soon.

    Our first stop was the Two Rivers Winery for wine tasting and a lovely charcuterie plate. We sat outside in the glorious sunshine and sampled their delicious wine. The cheese plate was so good we asked where the cheese was from and that led us to the (Cheese factory) so we could grab some cheese and crackers for our hostess, we already had the champagne on ice.

    Two Rivers Winery
    Highlights from Two Rivers Winery

    Jen’s B&B – Russley Rural Retreat is all kinds of adorable. I had been there before but not for four years and it was just as adorable as I remembered it. It was also lovely to see Jen who is hands-down one of my favourite people on the planet. She always, always brings a smile to my face.

    These are some pictures of Russley Rural Retreat.

    Russley Rural Retreat
    Images from Russley Rural Retreat

    That night we went to the Linga Longa Inn which we chose because – that name is so Australian. It was basic pub fare, nothing to write home about except the company. Afterwards we sat under the stars talking and laughing for hours. It was food the soul.

    Linga Longa

    After a delicious breakfast and a lot more talking, we headed back towards Newcastle. We stopped at the another  winery – Hollydane – which was gorgeous and I would love to have a long lunch there one day soon (Expect a blog post about that!). We tried some wine (and bought a couple of bottles) and when we were finished a family was taking off in their own private helicopter, which was fascinating to watch.

    We meandered back home after a lovely night away.

    It was a good reminder that sometimes all you need is a change of scene, lots of laughs and good friends to reinvigorate you.

  • Blog

    A tale of two shoes (or the writing shoes)


    Put one foot in front of the other.
    Once upon a time there was a writer who was lucky enough to make some lovely friends. She joined some writing groups and organisations and met lovely writers from around Sydney, across Australia and even around the world.

    One day she took a plane to the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Freemantle. She shared the journey with one of the lovely girls in her writing group. When they went to get dressed for a pirate themed cocktail party that evening, the writer realised she had brought with her two flat black shoes that didn’t match; a left shoe from one pair and the right from another. She had a decision to make.

    Would she walk with a tilt all weekend or get new shoes.

    She really didn’t want new shoes but she went to the Freemantle Markets and a nice lady there sold her some super soft ballet flats made from goat leather (Yes goat, sorry vegans). And she walked without a tilt all weekend (at least before the cocktails) and for the next two and a half years every time she wore those shoes she thought of the conference and her writing friends and what joy that brought to her life..

    Then on a sunny December morning she headed into the city for her end of year writer’s lunch. She realised she had been in this writing group for ten years now and it was with love in a heart and a spring in her step that she slid the shoes on, her writing shoes and headed out.

    It was a beautiful lunch with gorgeous friends that turned into cocktails beside sparkling Sydney Harbour.

    And then the heavens cracked with lightning and thunder and the last remaining writers ran through a storm to get to the station and our writer and her shoes were soaked. Each shoe contained a small lake at the ball and when she walked she could feel it wash over her toes.

    “How delightful!” She said. feeling anything but delighted by this turn of events as they laughed their way to the train.
    And when she climbed into the car, where her delightful husband was waiting, she knew for certain her writing shoes would never recover and she sighed. And for a brief moment she was sad.

    Then she reminded herself better to have good memories and a story but no shoes, than perfect shoes, no new memories and no story .

    Monique McDonell and other writers at RWA 2015 lunch

    View of the Harbour Bridge and Overseas Passenger Terminal Sydney