On the weekend I loaded up my car along with hubby and our furry son Buddy and we headed out west to Mudgee, a four hour drive from South-West Sydney. The moment we were beyond Richmond and entered the countryside, I felt the working week’s tension drain from my body. Ah, I love being in the country.
I’d been looking forward to this trip since we last visited in August 2012 for the Mudgee Reader’s Festival. We decided after that trip we would try to make it an annual event. Although I don’t book into every author chat on the schedule, I do enjoy choosing one or two, perusing the secondhand book stalls and then heading into Mudgee town to browse the local produce at the Lawson Park Markets. That is exactly what we did this year.
We stayed at a dog-friendly cabin on a huge, beautiful property where we relaxed after the big drive on Friday afternoon. I love to walk around the big property… oh and we go for a run too when Buddy gets too excited by off leash and follows the scent of kangaroos so we have to chase him down! We had a quiet evening with a bottle of Semillon from a local winery left by the owners, we popped on a Bollywood movie (there’s no television reception) and snuggled under a blanket and put our feet up. Saturday morning we were up bright and early, opened the curtains to the beautiful sunlit property and found we had some kangaroo visitors. No off-leash walks for Buddy that morning!
I arrived at the Parklands Resort & Conference Centre just after 9am with plenty of time to purchase a ticket and grab a seat for one of the first author sessions of the day, In Conversation with Katherine Howell. Apart from Tara Moss, Katherine was one of the authors that stood out on the schedule for me as I read her latest crime fiction novel, Web of Deceit earlier this year. I was clearly the youngest in the room (it was the same last year!), but that didn’t stop me from relaxing into my seat to listen to Katherine chat about her Ella Marconi series. I particularly enjoyed hearing how Katherine learnt to bring her professional experience as a paramedic into her novels by creating paramedic supporting characters and why she chose a detective as the protagonist. As a psychologist, I find myself often writing about characters who are also in my profession (in fact I’m working on one now!) and it was interesting to see how she learnt to ensure her stories were well-rounded enough to engage the reader when using professionals as main characters. Katherine is a really down-to-earth woman, lovely to listen to and very honest about her journey as a writer, what she’s learnt along the way and how she manages to pump out one crime novel a year as per her contract. The only thing I was bummed about is that I forgot to bring my copy of her novel to have it signed!
After the author chat I met up with my hubby who had been dog-sitting and we picked up a couple of super cheap books at the secondhand book fair before heading into town to the markets. I’d have loved to attend the Tara Moss interview on Sunday, but it was a luncheon and finished quite late in the afternoon which didn’t quite work for us as we didn’t want to leave for home too late. Hopefully I can catch her next time!
For lunch we wined and dined at the local winery Di Lusso, where we had delicious arancini for starters and a beautiful woodfired pizza to share while we sipped on Italian wine and admired the stunning views from our seats of the winery. Another quiet afternoon and evening was the perfect way to finish up our relaxing weekend before heading back home just before lunch on Sunday.
I’m already looking forward to what the line-up will be for 2014 because I’m definitely planning to return to Mudgee for the festival.