If you sleep always like this




This town where Jersey girl and I currently live is tiny, really tiny. It is more properly a village than a town. It was officially established as a turnpike village around 1806, however, tucked away in an almost forgotten corner is the original cemetery dating back to the mid 1700’s.

I’ve visited the spot once before back in the Summer but it was so overgrown with bushes and Ivy that it was hard to read the inscriptions on a lot of the stones. I remember thinking that this was a cemetery that kept its secrets well.

As I mentioned in the last post, my son has been visiting with us from Melbourne and a few days ago he and I went back to the small cemetery to take some photographs. Upon arrival, we discovered that the place had been considerably cleared since the Summer.

It was much easier to gain access to the stones and we quickly discovered something quite amazing. This tiny place holds the remains of not one but five soldiers of the Revolutionary War.

This was a great surprise to me. Even today the village population is far less than two thousand. At the time of the Revolution, this wasn’t even a settlement, just a collection of scattered farms. And yet, somehow, we have five graves of men who fought in (and survived) the great war for independence.











We even have a soldier born on the 4th of July.




Words and images are my own.




The Cascades



My son is currently visiting us from Melbourne and we’ve really been enjoying showing him around the county (it’s actually his third time here but there’s always more to see). He really seems to love the place (not to mention our proximity to both NYC and Philly).

Yesterday, he and I took a hike along the Columbia trail in High Bridge. I’d never done the walk in winter and was amazed by how different it all looked.

Several times along the way we came across little patches of wonder. I don’t think I ever realised before how beautiful mere frozen water could be.























The ice was very thick.


Rather than retrace our footsteps, we followed the Raritan River back to High Bridge.


Words and images are my own.








96. White Winter Hymnal



So, I’ve been living with winter in Jersey for a good few weeks now. Not my first experience of winter here as longtime readers of this blog may remember but my first full winter, certainly.

And what are my impressions so far?  Winter in America is cold, baby. I know you folks in places like Michigan or Illinois are probably laughing up a storm at the suggestion that Jersey gets ‘cold’ but for this refugee from a sunburnt country, it’s plenty cold enough.




However, I haven’t only been hit by successive waves of frigid temperatures. The beauty, too, comes in waves here and it’s not just the snow. As magically transformative as a blanket of snow is in this landscape, there is plenty of beauty to be found after the melt.










I’ve been struck by the quiet poetry of the colour pallet. Russet dominates here and I love to see whole woods of skeletal trees all painted in those tones.








The other feature of winter here that I find endlessly fascinating is frozen waters. Whenever I come across a frozen creek or river I become a child lost to wonder. It’s a beauty that comes with its own ache.





It amazes me that, even on a warmish day, you can find frozen water with ice thick enough to stand on.

My favourite is the snow that looks like icing sugar, making everything, houses, trees, shrubs, look like confectioneries.








It’s worth suffering some chilled ears and fingers to see these sights that are so foreign to me. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it all after a few more winters. People who’ve experienced far more of them than I are pretty jaded about the beauty, in my experience. I’ll try to keep my sense of wonder intact and keep recording the beauty I see.







Words and images are my own.






Another Jersey Girl


You know she thrills me with all her charms

When I’m wrapped up in my baby’s arms…


In this blog, I’m going talk about something very dear to my heart; beer.

I can remember a time in my life when the selection of beers on offer (at least in Australia) was depressingly small. There were the big breweries which pumped out mass-produced swill full of chemicals that all tasted exactly the effing same and that was pretty much it.

Don’t get me wrong, those beers are still the most popular on the market. They have a loyal following among those who believe real men only drink beer that tastes like piss (hence the term “getting pissed”). It’s supposed to prove how tough, working class, and patriotic you are or somesuch BS (I think this is the actual reason women live longer).

England, where I lived for a spell in the early 80’s, was a different matter. There they had a fine tradition of pubs that brewed their own local beers and so you could get away from the generic blandness of the big brewers and experience a wider variety…. of beers drunk at room temperature.

Back again in Australia, things were (very slowly) beginning to get more interesting. A small(ish) brewer in South Australia called Coopers was producing a line of pure beers that were more than drinkable. I switched gratefully from dishcloth brews like Victoria Bitter (VB as it is lovingly known by its brain-damaged acolytes) to Coopers and, for a while, all was well.

Then one of the majors bought up Coopers and that fine beer was very soon close to indistinguishable from the VBs and Carltons. Amazing how thoroughly mass production screws shit up.

All beers produced in NSW are garbage btw and don’t let anyone tell you different.

By the 90’s the horizon was less bleak. Microbreweries were emerging in the back lanes of Melbourne (probably Sydney too but who cares?). Small pubs started experimenting with their own house brews and before long there was a plethora of not too terrible beers popping up. I alas, cannot remember the name of a single one of them.

‘Boutique’ beers really took off in the 2000’s (I refuse to say naughties). In Australia, Belgian style Beer Bars were all the rage and every pretentious wanker worth his salt was swanning around with a surgically decapitated Hoegaarden to go with his neatly trimmed designer stubble.

It all seemed to be about imported beers at that point. The disaster of 2008 was a few years away yet and confidence was still OK. People were willing to shell out a bit on imported brews to show their mates how well they were doing.

Craft beers (as they’d come to be known) really seemed to explode after the GFC but it wasn’t until I first visited America that I really saw how big they’d become. My mind was blown by the sheer volume of choice in every liquor store I visited. Back home, you generally had to go to one of the big warehouse booze emporiums to see that much choice.

I eagerly dove in. Each visit (and, if you remember, there were five of them) I would expand my repertoire of craft breweries.  Flying Dog, with their amazing Ralph Steadman, can designs, were a fave for a while but I eventually moved on from there. Two Roads Brewery was the next to catch my eye and I found several of their beers to be top notch. However, for some reason, the stores around our area just don’t seem to want to stock the good ones.


We, that’s Jersey girl and I, eventually started specifically seeking out New Jersey brews. We found a great IPA from a brewery called Brotherton which would turn up on draft in various places only to vanish after a week or so. We tried to find it in bottles but the brewery was so small they weren’t bottling yet*.

Asbury Park Brewery does some nice beers but not quite the style we’ve been looking for.

I even kept searching while I was back in Melbourne, looking online for news of new breweries in NJ. Which is how I found the winner. A small brewery in Hackettstown was just about to start canning. They’d been around for three or four years and were finally about to release their first canned beer intriguingly called Rake Breaker. Hackettstown is very close to home and so I was pretty excited to get back to Jersey and try it.

And what was the name of this fledgeling brewery?


You just know I was going to be won over by that, right? When I came back (this time to stay) we started looking all over for signs of Rake Breaker in the stores. To no avail. We started to plan our visit to the Brewery tap room but it seemed that every time we had a chance to go something came up. It was becoming a source of no small frustration.

Then, one evening, we were in a tap room restaurant in Princeton and there on the beer menu was Jersy Girl. By this time they had another IPA out called Sun Kissed Citra. We fell over ourselves to order and, there in a cellar in Princeton, had our very first taste of a Jersey Girl beer.

And lo, it was very, very good.

A few weeks later, the cans started turning up in the stores and we got to sample Rake Breaker at long last. It was, if anything, better than Citra.




We’ve since visited the Taproom at Hackettstown several times It’s a great little spot tucked away in a fairly bland commercial park. They have big comfy sofas and board games to while away the time and a very nice selection of beer adventures to sample. They also sell their brews in refillable Growlers, which is nice.



We’ve found our Alpha beer. We still stray into unknown territory fairly regularly, but the fridge at home always has a few cans of Jersey Girl on the shelf.

Ah, life’s simple pleasures**.



Here, for anyone interested, is the Brewery website.






*That situation has apparently now been rectified.

**And yes, It is my ambition to sit with Jersey girl at Jersey Girl, drinking Jersey Girl, while listening to Jersey Girl (they’ve played Springsteen while we were there but not that song – I would happily take the Tom Waits version).

95. I want a wonderful life




I didn’t put anything Christmas themed up this year because, well, frankly I’m really not all that in to Christmas.

Bah humbug.

We had a very nice family gathering (it was the first time I’d personally celebrated Christmas in about seven years) and don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. That said, I don’t get into all the rigmarole that usually goes along with the consumer season.

I did, however, come across an interesting tidbit while perusing NJ.com.

Apparently, for many American’s, the movie It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart is a Christmas tradition not to be flouted. Now, I’ve not seen the movie myself but I get the gist of the message it conveys and I can see why people like to indulge in it around this time of year.

What I wasn’t aware of, was the story’s connection to New Jersey and Hunterdon County (where I now reside) in particular. The movie is set in the fictional upstate New York town of Bedford Falls but the story’s original creator, Philip Van Doren Stern, had a different town in mind when he was writing it; the town of Califon NJ.

We have spent some very happy times in Califon over the years. It’s only about seven miles from home and is a very pretty place to visit. I keep uncovering these odd little factoids since I found my way here to Jersey. I take them as little reminders that I’m where I’m meant to be and that all is on track.





Take it away Jersey boy…


Under Ice


Jersey girl and I took a little trip to Clinton the other day. It was just after the recent snows but, on that particular day, the sun was out, the air was warm, and the snow had all but melted away.

On our way to get coffee, we passed by the river where I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, despite the warmth of the day, there was a full covering of ice. Understand, I come from a country where you rarely, if ever, see frozen rivers (perhaps the odd high mountain stream) and, except for that first visit to Clinton three winters ago, I hadn’t really seen this kind of beauty up close before (a frozen duck pond in a London park when I was eight doesn’t count).

I wished I had my camera with me but had to make do with the ubiquitous phone shots. I just loved the ring patterns that had been formed, I presumed, by swirling waters warming up beneath the ice.

Anyway, I thought some of you (probably not the East Coasters) might enjoy the images I got, so here they are.








All images are my own.






Change in Mood




Life reflects


The russet tones of a naked spinney

Skeleton trees under a daylight moon

Cold nips

At the tips

Of fingers and nose

Harbinger of something on its way


The finger bones of trees

Grasp at the clear, heavy air

While frost


Their former gowns

Diamantes for the newly dead


This is my brave new world

Land of my endless yearning



Extreme as its seasons

And as beautiful as a late Autumn morning.








Words and images are my own.