I went to a poetry reading today at Strathvea Guest House here in the Yarra Valley. I knew the poems were to be read by John Wood (an award winning actor here in Australia) but I had no idea they were going to be backed up by the breathtaking, whimsical and sometimes haunting music of Hadyn, Bach and Mozart played by the Australian Haydn Quartet.
I attended the wedding of someone who was married here at Strathvea back in 1996. When asked about the experience she commented that it was “one of those strange, summer days where the sky was overcast and it was quite cold. But, as soon as we all came together under the massive oak in the gardens the sun started to shine and it didn’t stop until vowells and rings were exchanged.” It was a wonderful day and the couple enjoyed a two night’s stay in the accommodation which gave them plenty of time to relax and enjoy the sumptious food and magnificently maintained gardens.
Fast forward 18 years to another day, but this one with a complete set of strangers The present owners of the Guesthouse, Dianne and Toby Eccles, are into the third year of their Music and Poetry Festival that they hold every winter. Beautiful memories flashed through my mind as I wound my way up the dirt road to the Guesthouse which, in a stroke of either good luck or genius has remained almost completely unchanged. I made myself comfortable in the Library of the Guesthouse in front of a roaring fire while my eyes hungrily drank in every single title on every single shelf (there were a lot of books). And then I found the children’s collection and my heart sang. Every magnificently illustrated fairytale book that a children’s author could ever hope to find in one place. Oh joy! I resisted the urge to jot down titles and authors or take photos of covers for later reference. No, my shelves at home are already overflowing…
You can imagine my surprise and delight when we were called into the dining/ ballroom with the words, “they’re ready for you now” and then upon entering found a lovely looking quartet setting up. Most of the poems were centuries old (I’ll be placing my favourites here on my blog as the next days unfold) and I hadn’t heard of them before but, backed up by the music – which was perfectly matched – the words were brought to life in a way that’s difficult to describe. I was completely transported to another place and time.
I had that sinking feeling when it all came to an end after two hours. I wanted more. It was then that one of the violinists stood up and asked for the members of the audience to ‘like’ their Facebook page as they were still unable to afford a Publicist. I saw my chance. I put my Freelancer hat on (for the first official time) and, in spite of nerves that were making my knees shake (I’m usually an in-the-background type of person), I came right out and asked if I could photograph all of them and write an article for my blog. I think they were quite pleased actually and, even with enormous fame and talent under their belts, were more than happy to oblige.
This was one of those afternoons that is life changing and will never be forgotten. If you ever have a chance to see John Wood act (he’s currently working on a play) or the Australian Haydn Quartet play, you will not be disappointed. It was truly inspiring and I came away with itchy palms that just wanted to pick up a pen and write poetry until the cows come home 🙂