Summer Down Under

by PD Martin

I know the Murderati readers are scattered around the globe (we’re such an eclectic bunch) but many of you are in the Northern Hemisphere and in the throes of winter. So, I thought you might like to hear about my summer holidays!

Currently my daughter is on holidays, about to transition from pre-school to her first school year, which starts Monday 6 February  (yes, our school year coincides more with the calendar). After Christmas, we headed down to the beach, specifically Mornington Peninsula. It’s a lovely spot down there, and my family has a small house in a suburban area, but it’s only a ten-minute walk to the beach. There’s a great beach-side track for walking/jogging/cycling, the beach (of course) and we spend lots of time on the deck having BBQs and drinking good wine. Aussie wine, of course!

Our days have been varied, partly because we’ve been experiencing some classic crazy Melbourne weather (Melbourne is known for its unpredictable weather, and it’s often said you can experience all four seasons in one day – and you can). Anyway, so the first week down at the beach was damn hot (30-38 Celsius or 86 to 103 for those of you who prefer Fahrenheit). Then the next week temperatures plummeted to 16-18 Celsius (60-64 Fahrenheit) and we had rain. Now we’ve had another hot few days so we’ve been lying on top of the bed clothes with a cold facewasher on hand. I know it’s weird…for a country that experiences such extreme hot weather many of our houses don’t have air conditioning. In fact, my family’s beach house doesn’t have air-con, neither does our two-bedroom unit in Melbourne (which was built in 1972). So some nights it gets hot, hot, hot! But who knows, tomorrow it might plummet again.

Another key part of our Aussie summer each year is the Australian Open. Today we headed in for a ‘day pass’, another fun day in the sun, watching the tennis heavyweights hit it out. Hopefully we applied enough sunscreen and got enough water into us to cope! So far so good. The picture on the left is a partial view of the Melbourne skyline from the Margaret Court Arena. 

This summer has also been made extra special with two overseas visitors. Firstly, my  best friend (who I’ve known since I was 4yro). She’s actually an Aussie but moved to Rhode Island nearly six years ago with her American husband.  It’s been great to have her in town, visiting some of our old haunts and finding some new (more mature) haunts. We’ve also got my husband’s mother in town from Ireland. She’s here for three weeks, spurred on by wanting to be around for Grace’s first day of school.

We’ll be hitting a few more tourist destinations with her, but mostly relaxing down at the beach house.

Writing you say? What’s that? No, I have been doing a little bit of writing/editing here and there, but really only one day a week plus a couple of nights. My output is down, but I managed to finish the first draft of my new ‘mainstream fiction’ book just before Christmas and I have managed my first editorial pass. I expect my output will suddenly and significantly increase on 6 February. 


So, what does your typical summer involve? And if you’re in the middle of winter, can you even imagine the hot sun on your face and diving into the ocean to cool off?

17 thoughts on “Summer Down Under

  1. Sarah W

    Yesterday morning, I pulled off my fleece gloves and saw that my fingernails had turned blue under the polish. My goal every day is to make it from the car into work and back again without being cut in half by what my Dad calls a "lazy wind"– it can't be bothered to go around you, so it goes right through.

    And Rocinante's windshield caught a piece of rock salt yesterday and cracked all the way across. I can hear the edges rubbing together as I drive and I'm sure I can feel an icy breeze.

    So, no, I can't imagine the hot sun right now, as the tears of longing will freeze to my face . . .

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I'm going to Australia for the first time this August and am now glad it's going to be winter!! Fun to read this post and anticipate.,,

    In Southern California, we're having temps in the 60's this week, but it was the 80s last week, so hot sun isn't so hard to imagine. It's why I'm here.

  3. David Corbett

    My computer screen doesn't seem to have seasons, and that's where I spend my days. They tend to blend together. Seriously — vacation? What a concept. Must try that someday.

    Here (San Francisco area) the weather has turned cold, meaning mid 30s at night, high 50s during the day, with rain forecast for the weekend. We need it desperately.

    What a lovely summary of your summer. Have a lovely visit with the visitors.

  4. Larry Gasper

    Hiding up here in Canada, David's cold looks like heaven. This week we're getting in the minus 30's at night, creeping up to the minus 20's during the day. With windchill the mornings have been in the minus 40's. Makes for a brisk walk to work, but lots of people still bike, walk, and even jog. Can't really complain, tho, as this is the first real bit of winter we've had. The nice thing is that it makes you stay inside, and If you're trapped inside, you might as well write.
    I am looking forward to a trip to New Orleans in February to break the winter up. That's the most common cure for winter here, a trip to Mexico or Hawaii or somewhere else where winter is unheard of.

  5. Allison Davis

    I look forward to February or late winter for us every year because it's Mardi Gras season in my second city, New Orleans. Cold or wam (Melbourne sounds like New Orleans in the range of temperatures), can be either), the season is full of elaborate parades, formal balls, lots of eating (of course) and oh, there might be some drinking there. "Throws" become the prize during Mardi Gras, including beads, stuffed animals, spears (the plastic kind), and all kinds of toys as well as coveted "secial" beads with that year's theme. The floats are decorated all year, usually with some kind of politcal satire theme — so they are elaborate (the night floats have lights), and entertaining. So while you're at the beach, I'll be yelling, "Throw me something mister!"

    (And we go to the beach here in SF all winter long, and sometimes it's quite nice!)

  6. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Phillipa

    Hmm, I'm slightly with David here – it's warm indoors sitting in front of my computer, although at the moment it's just down to 0deg outside and this afternoon we had sleety hail. Still, no serious snow like last year, when the last of it didn't disappear off the hills until May … yet.

    I have hopes that this summer is going to involve a change of pace and scene from the last few years. I've certainly been able to semi-retire from the day-job. Australia sounds wonderful!

  7. Reine

    Hi PD,

    Glad you're enjoying the summer. Also glad you will be having more writing time soon. May Grace have a successful and happy first day at school.

    It's 73° here in Tucson right now. I am almost comfortable. 🙂 Used to swim in the summer. Now I just sink. Who knew that would happen? Used to go fishing back on the rez. That was fun. Summer research trips to England. Can't do that either — planes vs. power wheelchair. So, I mostly write and read. And I am finding I actually enjoy myself quite a lot. I'm glad I did so much while I could. Now electronics makes it all work pretty well – or good enough. And good enough isn't bad at all. It's pretty good.

  8. Laura

    Hi PD! Glad to hear you're enjoying your break, I actually live on the Mornington Peninsula, so I may be totally biased when I say it's a really beautiful place! From the bookshop it's less than a 10 minute walk to the beach… Although it gets very hot at work! Our air conditioners don't seem to like the heat! 🙁 And I have to admit, I don't like the tennis! It gets very frustrating watching TV to have them show all the promos for the new shows, or new seasons only to have them say at the end of the promo "Coming soon – after the tennis!" My mum and I sit there and say "Grr! Stupid tennis!" (particularly given that we've had to wait for the new seasons to start that have already begun airing in the US!)
    Enjoy the rest of your summer holiday! 😀

  9. PD Martin

    Sarah, that does sound intense! I definitely prefer to be too hot than too cold!

    Alex, the weather in Australia in August will vary considerably depending on where you're going! Melbourne, Tasmania and Adelaide will be colder, Sydney and Perth probably a bit milder, and Queensland and anywhere north, warmer still. But it won't be 100F or anything!

    Thanks, David. I'm kind of enjoying the summer vacation but also itching to get back in to editing my work in progress and then starting on another new book. So many ideas I don't know where to start! So I wouldn't mind a little more desk time 🙂


  10. PD Martin

    Larry, I lived in Toronto for a year, so I know where you're coming from (although it's really a distant memory now)! Plus we were lucky it was a mild winter, but it was still freezing!!! I do remember looking outside and being deceived by the blue skies and sun…in minus 15C. We also did a Florida trip mid-winter.

    Allison, that sounds like fun! I've never been to New Orleans and it's definitely on my 'want to visit' list. Don't know about you (after Mardi Gras), but I'll need a detox in February…too much food, wine most days…chocolate…the list goes on.

    Zoe, sleet-hail…I remember it well from Ireland. Brr…. Do you get the horizontal rain? Wind so strong that it blows the rain horizontal? Umbrellas are useless, of course. Your change of pace sounds nice. Bet you're looking forward to it!


  11. PD Martin

    Thanks, Reine. Yes, I am looking forward to having more writing time, even though I'll miss spending time with Grace. It's been nice to be there for her pre-school years. I'm glad you've got nice summer memories, but sad you can't do any of those things now. As you say, at least electronics makes life easier these days. And reading and writing are great ways to spend time too 🙂

    Hi Laura. Yes, Mornington Peninsula is gorgeous! Only every now and again for us, but we still enjoy it. I'm looking forward to a few of the shows coming back too, but I like the tennis so I don't mind watching that at night too!


  12. Reine


    Trying again – not going to do over … grrr … do you call this season that you are in now … do you call it summer? Or do you call it winter? Sorry. don't laugh too hard, please. I just have to know. 🙂 xo

  13. PD Martin

    No laughing! We have four seasons too (although we call Fall Autumn – like the British do) but our seasons are reversed.

    Summer – Dec, January, February
    Autumn – March, April, May
    Winter – June, July, August
    Spring – September, October, November

    We don't get snow in winter (at least not in the cities) but our temperatures do vary quite a lot. Certainly in Melbourne they do. Summers highs can be around 40C or 45C (100 or 110F) and winter highs are around 50F.

    We also have reversed daylight (well, almost reversed). We're currently 16 hours ahead of EST in the US. So at the moment it's 10.30am on Friday 20 January, but it's 6.30pm in the US East Coast – and still Thursday 19 January! I'm sure there's a cool animation somewhere about the time zones and sun, but I haven't found one!

  14. Reine

    Phillipa! Thank you! I know I was supposed to learn that in 4th grade geography, but I never got it — the labels, I mean. I got that things were fairly close to opposite on most of these things. Charts and I, though . . . we don't get along. This is very clear now . . . much better than . . . well, you see the sun is over here and the axis does this, and all this stuff is rotating this direction while circling this huge loop around while the southern hemisphere . . . totally lost me, y'know??? Thanks! xo

  15. Pari Noskin

    It's supposed to be up in the 60s today here in Albuquerque. Normally, we're in the high 40s or so . . . so it feels like Spring here.

    It's fun to read about your calendar and activities in Australia; Christmas as a summer holiday and all. I'd love to visit your country someday and to see New Zealand too. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps . . .

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