Tuesday, 16 June 2015

10 QUESTIONS WITH... ANNABELLE HICKSON





















































“This is our new ‘commercial kitchen’ in the shed where I am in the process of putting together pecan products to sell online. It is my favourite spot because what was a dim container with faux wood vinyl panelling was transformed in two days on a non-existent budget into what I think is an incredibly beautiful room. It also has glorious natural light and under the guise of a working kitchen, I have managed to nab myself a quasi room of my own for my blog.”

“I have this awful tendency to focus on the things that could be rather than see the beauty in what I actually have, so I started The Dailys as a kind of tool to help me see what is in front of me,” says blogger and photographer Annabelle Hickson. “I was also yearning to have a creative focus that was beyond being a mother and the concept of a blog as a virtual Virginia Woolf Room of One’s Own was very appealing.” 

Annabelle was born in Madrid while her parents worked there when she was a young child, but grew up in Sydney. At university she studied arts and commerce and majored in Latin and finance - “which probably gives you some indication as to how confused I was then”, she says. After months of interning at The Australian newspaper she was offered a cadetship and worked in the Sydney office before being based in the Brisbane bureau. It was then that she met her husband, a cotton farmer. 

“He lured me into a life in the country, which I initially hated, but several kids later and after a whole lot of growing up, I have come to cherish my life in the bush,” Annabelle says. They are now based in the Dumaresq Valley near New South Wales’ border with Queensland. It is from here that she photographs food and flowers, and shares recipes and stories of life in the country on her blog The Dailys.

“It is important that the photos I take are of the ordinary and daily moments of my life - not too tweaked, not too constructed - but then it is also important to me to present them as beautifully as possible,” Annabelle says. “Best foot forward.”

1 As a child I used to wear… beautiful hand-sewn party dresses complete with sashes thanks to mum. My sister and best friend wore matching ones. I also adored wearing my Brownie uniform and ran an unsuccessful campaign to be allowed to wear it to school on Thursdays.

2 My bedroom was… upstairs with three large windows looking over the garden flanked by long, drapey Colefax and Fowler floral curtains. All I wanted to do was stick posters of Jason Donavon up on the wall but mum wouldn't let me.

3 When I was a teenager I used to… sneak into the secret attic room accessed through a tiny door via a cupboard in my bedroom and smoke heaps of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes, read Jack Kerouac and listen to The Cure on repeat while wearing light brown corduroy pants I had crudely modified into flares.

4 After high school I wanted to be… a journalist, which luckily I was, although that came after phases of wanting to be a publisher, an investment banker - I thought the cash would be nice, but didn’t even make it into the first round of interviews - and then really anything at all, just as long as it was something not to do with waitressing in mediocre cafes or delivering unwanted pamphlets to suburban letterboxes.

5 A seminal moment was... having my first child who cried a lot for a long time. It was a long, rather intense period where I eventually had to accept I couldn’t fix everything or bring about a happy ending and control the outcome whenever I saw fit. Some things often take time and they are often out of your hands.

6 I never thought I would... live in the middle of nowhere married to a farmer. But the big open skies and the kookaburras and the crisp air and the simple world of limited choices, I wouldn’t swap for the world. Well, maybe Paris. And actually Sydney also looks pretty good, but with young kids this is where I want to be.

7 I’ve learnt to… say no when I mean no. It dawned on me that I could either spend my life baking for school fundraising events or seconding motions in dreaded committees - I sound like Betty Homemaker here, but there is a lot of pressure to be involved in these things in country towns, and especially when there are only 15 kids in the entire school - or I could put a limit on time spent on this stuff and do something that was more meaningful to me.

8 I know… now that drama is not as important as I thought it was. I operate in cycles of borderline manic productivity followed by depressive slumps and life is better when I aim to steady the keel rather than hang off either side of the rocking ship.

9 I share because... it makes me feel alive to connect with like-minded people and because it gives me a semi-official framework in which to be creative, but if I am honest mostly because I am a little girl that is still looking for validation.

10 If I had an unexpected morning to myself I would... stay in bed and read - I am reading Karl Ove Knausgrad's My Struggle series at the moment, and cannot get enough - and then cook something new or with lots of chopping that would otherwise flip my lid if the kids were around.


image courtesy of annabelle hickson

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