Doris Lessing: On not winning the Nobel Prize

Some moving words from the recently departed Doris Lessing.

Speak for Yourself

lessingDoris Lessing, who has died aged 94, was  not impressed  when she got the news she’d won the Nobel Prize in 2007, as the very entertaining video below will show you. Unable to travel to Sweden for the awards ceremony, her Nobel lecture was delivered in Stockholm by Nicholas Pearson, her publisher in the UK; while  she was presented with the award at a special event in London, where her  publisher, HarperCollins,  announced the gift of 10,000 books to Zimbabwe in her honour.

We’d expect a Nobel Laureate in Literature to have something impressive to say. Nonetheless, Lessing’s Nobel lecture is a stunner. It is reproduced below,  videos and text may all be found on the Nobel website,  here. To hear the great author speak  in person,  watch  this interview  given one year later, to Professor John Mullen.


I am standing in a doorway looking through clouds of…

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Cambodia. Rice fields.

Cambodian rice fields (

Having reached the end of the C section – from Cambodia to Czech republic, I went back to review all the amazing things I have discovered…only to discover that I missed Cambodia altogether! So here it is – last instead of first but no less loved!

Cambodia has two rice crops each year, a monsoon-season and a dry-season crop. The majority of the rice is produced in the monsoon crop over a 6 month period.  The dry-season crop is smaller, and takes 3 months from planting to harvest.

In addition to these two regular crops,  floating rice is grown in April and May in the areas around the Tonle Sap, which floods and expands its banks in September or early October. Before the waters rise, the seed is spread on the ground without any preparation of the soil, and the floating rice is harvested nine months later. It has a low yield, probably less than half of the typical crop, but it can be grown inexpensively on land for which there is no other use.

Cambodian rice treat – Kralan (

Czech Republic. The Alchemist’s Gold.

The Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička) is on the Eastern side of Prague Castle, near the outer wall. The small, colourful houses were originally constructed in the 16th Century for the castle guards of King Rudolph II. In those times the street was known as Archery Lane. It was later renamed ‘Golden Lane’ for the goldsmiths who moved into the houses in the 17th century.

Legend has it that alchemists attempted to turn metal into gold here, but in fact the alchemists lived elsewhere in the castle. It was the goldsmiths who gave the street its captivating name.

Artist impression of Golden Lane (

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Word from the West. Sweet.

Fairy bread sweetness

Fairy bread sweetness

I spent a gorgeous day with my two little ones; running around in the sunshine, exploring Old Parliament House in Parramatta Park and eating fairy bread. Coffee and treats at Lachlan’s café is the perfect way to begin your day in Parramatta Park.  Here is a photo from under the shade of the very old grape vine…

Our view over Old Government House

Our view over Old Government House

For more info on Old Government House



Beyond the Map – Before they pass away – Jimmy Nelson.

See the breathtaking work of photographer, writer and adventurer Jimmy Nelson in his new book and website – Before They Pass Away.

Jimmy Nelson photography – Masai (

“Photographer Jimmy Nelson set out to search for the world’s last indigenous cultures, with the goal to document these rapidly disappearing communities for future generations. “I didn’t start this project anticipating that I could stop the world from changing,” he said. “I purely wanted to create a visual document that reminds us and generations to come of how beautiful the human world once was.” (

No doubt he has achieved this with this stunning collection of images. I’m really hoping there will be one of these books under the Christmas tree for my family this year.