Sunday, June 27, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
I'm very pleased to post that my new YA fiction novel, "SLICE" is now out with Woolshed Press, an imprint of Random House. It's wonderful to be working once again with the fabulous publisher (and friend), Leonie Tyle, who released my first ten books with UQP. Leonie now has her own imprint at Random.
SLICE is the story of sixteen year old Darcy, who means what he says... he just shouldn't say it aloud.
To coincide with the launch, I'm spending a week guest blogging on the Random Blog. (And sunning myself beside a pool in Portugal.) Please visit when you can. The blog that is, although you're very welcome in Portugal - what a fabulous country!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Enough of travel blogging for a while. Now for something really important… the World Cup. I’m in Europe for the whole tournament, so I’ll have the pleasure of watching most of the games in bars during the evening, rather than waking up at 4.30 in the middle of a Katoomba winter.
The biggest game, of course, is this Sunday when Australia play Germany. It’s wonderful that we’ve qualified again, but I have to say how apprehensive I am about the squad and the coach. Pim Verbeek is a very cautious man and it appears as though he is going to pick the same starting eleven as four years ago, with Viduka replaced by Cahill. All great players, but many are… ahem… past it. Too old, too slow. I fear that will be the refrain after the game.
So, instead of saying I told you so after the fact, here’s my predictions (and please, let them not come true!!!!)
vs Germany. A loss by at least two goals. Craig Moore will be found out in defence. He’s been a wonderful player over the years, but he’s lacking match fitness and is too old. A younger defender should have been chosen by Verbeek.
Okay, I'm cheating now - editing this blog after the first game to sadly admit I was right. A 4-0 thumping by a very impressive Germany against a team playing a formation of 4-6-0!!! Or was it 4-4-2, with two midfielders doubling as forwards? Whatever, it was horrible and reeked of Verbeek's limited coaching skills. And we paid the price. And, in my book, Moore (and Chipperfield) were at fault for one goal and Neill for the other. Now we only have to beat Ghana and Serbia!!!! And please, no going on about the awful referee. He was a little card-happy, but we were a leaderless rabble. Oh, what we would have done for a genuine number 10 to take control of the middle of the park. Maybe Nicky Carle? Sorry, Verbeek left him at home.
vs Ghana. A draw. 1-1, most likely. Tim Cahill the probable scorer. (oops, not now he's suspended for the game) But we’ll be chasing the game for most of the ninety minutes.
Okay, still cheating here and writing after Ghana game... which ended 1-1 as I predicted. Although Cahill didn't score. But a much improved display and the good news is that we have to find another centre back for the last game against Serbia, so I have some hope left. And the best news is only one more game (most likely) with Verbeek as coach and Arnold as his assistant. What a waste of four years they have been. Please, FFA choose a coach who values technical skill and intelligence.
Which will leave us having to beat Serbia to progress.
vs Serbia. A loss by two goals. Please don’t let it be so, but my money is on Serbia being the surprise packet of the tournament (and beating England in the next round… hee hee hee!!). They’re too big and strong in defence and too organized around the park for us to jag a win against them.
Posting this after our dramatic 2-1 win - very proud of our effort. And Moore's replacement Beauchamp was much tighter in defence. The only reason we don't progress to the next round is that farce of a game against Germany when Verbeek's tactics screwed us. I'm very glad to be proven wrong with my prediction this time. And so glad to see the back of Verbeek!
So that’s it. And what will we have gained from the exercise?
The pure pleasure of being at the biggest event in the world, bar none. And the joy of watching our team.
But, with a more adventurous coach and with some exciting and younger players, like Nick Carle, Simon Colosimo, Matthew Spiranavic in the team it may have been much more fun.
Yes, I know I’m talking as though it’s already over. I hope we thrash Germany, Ghana and the Serbs. And wouldn’t it be nice to meet England in the round of 16?
But… check here next week, when I truly hope to eat humble pie and say how foolish I was to ever doubt Sir Pim.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
We’ve been staying in Volpaia, a small village in Tuscany for the past week. Underneath the apartment we’ve rented is a wine storage tank. Over breakfast, I imagine inventive ways of pushing a long hollow tube through the vent in the floor and dipping into all that chianti…
The village has two restaurants, a café, a wine and olive oil producer, a church and perhaps two hundred residents. It’s located high on a hill looking across to the tourist destination of Radda in Chianti. For five nights straight, we’ve eaten at La Bottega. The chef, Carla Barucci, has mastered the art of stews and slow-cooked meats. The menu reads like a Tuscan cliché – wild boar, rabbit with truffles, pork with herbs and chianti, sausage and beans. It’s all delicious and ridiciously cheap.
Today, to walk off the extra weight of all those meals we hiked ten kilometres across the hillside to Panzano to a butcher shop with a restaurant upstairs. How could we resist? And we did have ten kilometres to walk back home. We opted for the Mac Dario (pun intended) meal – ten Euro for a burger with Tuscan bread, fantastic chunky potatoes, celery and side vegetables and a bottle of frizzante water. For an extra three Euro we got Dario’s own wine and finished the meal with olive oil cake and coffee. The meal took ninety minutes – a slow food take on fast food. We “had a nice day” without anyone wishing us one!