Ten Things You Didnt Know About Claire Varley

Cover The Bit In Betweenjpg

The Bit In Between

Claire Varley

Macmillan Australia

RRP $29.99

Ten Things You Didnt Know About Claire Varley

1. My ATM pin. You don’t know this and, fairly regularly, neither do I. Subsequently, I routinely have my card eaten by machines and have to do the financial walk-of-shame where you call the bank and have to explain why you continued entering all the four-digit combos in your brain until the machine became suspicious and locked you out.


2. I am scared of birds. To the point of tears. There is no logical or rational reason for this. To me, every bird is Poe’s raven.


3. My all-time favourite piece of writing ever is Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. My birthday tradition is to curl up somewhere and read it aloud to myself, often in public, usually making myself cry at how perfectly brilliant, crisp and dense the prose is. I would be Nogood Boyo or Captain Cat.


4. The first book I ever wrote was called Aladdin and His Genie and The Lamp. I was in Grade 3 and the book spent many pages introducing each character (major and minor), summed up the plot in one pithy sentence, and then had them all live happily ever after. This attention to character at the expense of plot is something I have grappled with since.


5. I wrote The Bit In Between across three continents, including the 20 months I spent living in remote Solomon Islands. Flicking through the book I can pinpoint where I was when I wrote different sections, ie: ‘my papou’s village in Cyprus’, ‘locked out of my friend’s apartment in London’, ‘pretending to be Hemingway on the Andean Explorer’, and ‘my mother’s spare room imagining I am not broke and unemployed’.


6. My favourite foods are cheese and anything that started life as a potato. This is part of the reason why the Solomon Islands – home of the kumara, cassava and multiple varieties of yam – is my kindred spirit. Imagine a place where you can legitimately eat kumara three meals a day?! It is like the Wonka Land of starch.


7. I have noticeably small hands, just like Oliver in The Bit In Between. I have travelled fairly extensively and this has been frequently commented on across at least four continents. The most common translation being ‘why, you have the hands of a small child! Did you know this?’


8. My day job is working in community development… because I wanted to work in two industries that are notoriously difficult to pay the rent with. But both my jobs – writing and community development – are rewarding beyond anything a better pay packet could ever deliver. Not that I’d say no…


9. Basically my entire grounding in writing has come from a history of being a rampant child plagiarist. Apart from the Aladdin incident, one of the first poems I ever wrote was The Lion and The Unicorn reimagined as a fight between the bunny and the bilby for supremacy over Easter. Not long after I rewrote Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country, calling it My Home (subtle) and modernising it to present day Australia. I vaguely recall something about copycatting being a fundamental part of early development so maybe I was a child genius?


10. My appreciation of wine is similar to my approach to art: I don’t know what this is but I like it. Pinot grigio or pinot noir, please. Leave the bottle…

Claire Varley - Credit Renee Tsatsis

Claire Varley – (c) Renee Tsatsis

Post Script: The West Australian Wine Guide 2015 – Ray Jordan

Great local information on the magnificent West Australian wine growing regions and the wines they produce.

The West Australian Wine Guide 2015

The West Australian Wine Guide 2015

The West Australian Wine Guide 2015

Ray Jordan

The West Australian Publishers

ISBN: 9780994170613



My View:

A must have for the wine tourist or those who enjoy a nice drop or two of magnificent West Australian wine. This guide is full of useful information; take with you on a tour of your local bottle shop or when you visit to one of the many magnificent wine growing regions in West Australia. The guide list wineries by region, producer, has information regarding annual crush, owners of vineyard, wine maker, type of wine produced, pricing, contact details for wineries and sections on matching food with wine, recipes etc


Even though I have Iived in the Margaret River wine producing region for the past five years I still have many many local wineries to discovery and wines to sample. This book will certainly be invaluable in helping me decide what cellar door to visit and what wines to sample next.



The Clare Valley…The Start of the Riesling Trail

Today we arrived at the beautiful town of Clare in the Clare Valley, well known for its Rieslings. We ventured to the Seven Hills Winery established by Jesuit monks – set on impressive grounds with historic building and of course delicious wines.


The approach to the cellar door.


The Church.


A view of the cellar.


A sample of wines with acorns (from an Oak tree in the grounds). College White, Sparkling Riesling, Inigo Shiraz 2010.


A Lazy Saturday Afternoon Wine Tasting

Showery weather prevailed this weekend and what better way to while away a lazy Saturday afternoon than with a trip to Yallingup and a spot of wine and olive oil tasting. The Growers Handcrafted Wines provided us with a unique wine tasting experience that included a discussion with the actual wine maker. We spent a pleasant hour or so conversing with this very knowledgeable and talented wine maker whilst we sampled a great many of the wines.


We were particularly taken with the multiple award winning The Growers’ Riesling 2004, the grapes sourced from the Frankland River region of Western Australia. This wine is made with extra special care – the grapes hand harvested from the Powderbark Ridge vineyard and the results of this harvest are a delicious dry style Riesling.  We thank viticulturist Philip May for his sharing his passion and expertise with us.

We also sampled and bought 4 litres of EVO – extra virgin olive oil – produced in the same region. 🙂