Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why I Blog...


I've always, always wanted to have a blog - and have been told by my various publishers that I SHOULD have a blog! (And tumblr, and Facebook, and Twitter...) But, like most writers, I write so much during the day that when it's time to clock off from the "professional" shift and began my private life the last thing I want is to keep sitting at the laptop. (Many journalists are reluctant to have blogs or Facebook for this reason.) The digital world is wonderful for staying in contact with people - and indeed meeting new ones - but I want the memories of my family and friends to be the kind that take place in real sunshine. I want to see my friends and family in person (like we did in the good old days, remember?), so I can remember their laughter, their faces, their gestures, and their smiles. I want to ask about their lives face to face, and hear their stories in lovely, drawn-out conversations over a coffee or home-made lunch, not in a 140-word essayette over a mobile phone.

But while I may have been reluctant to have a blog of my own, I've been happy to follow others over the years. There's something about stumbling upon a new writer, particularly one who makes you laugh such as Slim Paley or Millie from The Laurel Hedge, that puts you in a positive frame of mind and sets you right for the rest of the day. This is what happened when, in researching gardens on the Internet one day, I found the Nonsuch Kitchen Garden site. {}

Written by bestselling writer Sara Douglass, this lovely blog chronicled Sara's life away from the keyboard and in her beloved kitchen garden, located in the heart of Tasmania's capital, Hobart. It detailed her efforts at transforming a big, old "gentleman's residence" (as she called it) into a beautiful home, where one of the main focuses was the enormous half-acre garden. For years, she toiled to create an enchanting space, and for years I followed her, enthralled at her writing, her photographs, her produce and her life. Then, last year, she confessed to her many readers that she was very ill. Ovarian cancer, she said, and she admitted the prognosis wasn't good.

Her posts became sporadic after that, although when she did write it was uplifting, as if she knew she had to give her posts her all. She didn't shy away from her disease, and even wrote an article about it, "The Silence of the Dying", which caused an uproar in both the media and public domain. She said she wasn't afraid of dying, and if she wasn't, then neither were we. The posts thinned out in 2011, and we waited to hear how her life was faring, and if the kitchen garden was as frail as she. We didn't expect the worst would come as quickly as it did. On September 27 this year, the newspapers announced that Sara Douglass had died, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of fans, a legacy of bestsellers and her beloved house and kitchen garden, endearingly named "Nonsuch". The outpouring of grief was extraordinary. I was one of those who cried.

I, too, have experienced an ovarian cancer scare, and it shocked and silenced me. I'm fine now, but Sara's tragic news subdued me for a week. It was difficult to believe that a woman who had inspired so many others, for so many years, was now gone for good. Her last post was awful, but the news that her ashes were spread over her beloved garden made us all smile.

This is when I decided to start a blog. If Sara could inspire me, then perhaps I, too, could inspire others. Because that, after all, is what blogs are for. It just took me a long time to realise it.

So this, Miss Sara, is my tribute to you. An inspirational place of gardening, life, humour, writing, happiness, family, home, love, photography, travel, dreams and insights. I just hope I can inspire others half as much as you inspired me.


  1. How terribly sad, I didn't know her or her blog.

  2. Hullo

    I've a printed copy of The silence of dying, and your blog came out when I was looking for it.

    It remains such a powerful article, and having lost both my parents to cancer, and also having an ovarian cancer scare, I was hoping to still find it out there, available for people to read.

    Thank you for remembering her,
    Kind Regards


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