I spoke to the Jane Austen Society of Australia, and gave two papers: an expanded version of my Sydney Morning Herald piece on Austen, and a preview of the Austen chapter from my forthcoming book, The Mystery of the Garden.
The JASA audience gave me a hearty welcome, and we had a great discussion afterwards: on writing, solitude, the rhythms of the garden and city life, and whether Austen's syringa is a lilac or a mock orange. (I say the mock orange.) And more.
I also met, for the first time, my awesome illustrator for Distraction and The Mystery of the Garden: Daniel Keating. Over a pint of Guinness, we talked martial arts, fighting, fitness, art, culture and the eccentricities of North Shore marriages. And more.
And then, we met Gondal-girl and her pixie for coffee, cake, a playground romp, and talk. Writing, parenthood, neighbourhoods and kidless-friends-who-just-don't-get-it. And, yes: more.
The trip reminded me of something I'd forgotten. It's a trivial truth, but worth restating given my homebody caution: good conversations can justify the journey.