An unlikely adventure into poetry, recipes, writing and Blue Mountains facts and fiction with Sandy Holmes
Sandy Holmes grew up in suburban Sydney, reciting Banjo Patterson and Pam Ayres poetry and singing Slim Dusty songs.
“It was my childhood aspiration to recite on Young Talent Time. I’ve always loved poetry, especially rhyming verse. Poetry makes stories accessible, especially when it’s rich with honesty and humour. Spike Milligan, Roger McGough and Pam Ayres were my early inspirations. I’ve been a writer and talker throughout my life, but I watch and listen too. That’s how I uncover so many stories.”
It was Sandy’s childhood determination to be a vegetarian, (even though she’d never heard of the term at the time). “It was such a relief when I finally met someone who called me a vegetarian instead of a fussy eater.” Even so, vegetarian food wasn’t exactly prevalent on supermarket shelves in the seventies. “I ate a lot of hot chips and vegemite toast in my childhood. Discovering nachos and vegetarian pastas when I was about sixteen felt like discovering a new planet.” It was the discovery of these simple vegetarian dishes that inspired Sandy to put her creative talents to use in the kitchen. Several decades on, she has developed a reputation for serving delicious food and has created scores of divine vego recipes.
Sandy was “saved from suburbia” as a teenager, when she discovered PACT, an experimental youth theatre in Sydney. There she attended drama workshops, performed in shows, and later directed no-budget productions. As a young adult, Sandy supplemented her income with the traditional theatre-worker trades of childcare and bar-work.
Motherhood prompted Sandy’s move to the Blue Mountains in the early 90s. Since then she has homeschooled two energetic boys, studied environmental education and worked extensively in ecotourism. Sandy has emceed and recited at countless poetry events, folk and music festivals,
Sandy writes relentless wordy verse exploring the apparently universal themes in diverse topics. Morris Dancing, performance anxiety, fishing, OH&S, birth, sex and social etiquette are all subject to Sandy’s mischievous observations. She is known for her poetry recitations in diverse settings including the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, Winter Magic, Blue Mountains Music Festival, the Australian Poetry Slam, Poetry Under the Stars and many a drunken dinner party. In 2012 she produced a chapbook, ‘Sandy versus Sandy: A Bad Case of Poetic Licence’.
Sandy has written a collection of comical kids songs that she performed at environmental celebrations, with her one-time band ‘Sandy and the Glowworms’. For several years she led The Junior Rangers choir, performing ‘Sandy songs’ at multiple Blue Mountains tourism events. She is a life member of APRA and considers herself to be ‘not too bad a songwriter’. “What can I say?” she laughs. “My songwriting skills are a heck of a lot better than my guitar playing.”
Sandy’s vegetarian fare is immensely popular among her friends, family and volunteer bushcare buddies. Each month she makes a pot or two of tasty Swamp Care soup and a few extra goodies (Belgian Lemon Teacake, Exquisite Satay Sauce, Sandy’s Really Truly Good Scones … the list goes on) for the volunteers at bushcare morning-tea. Parents sometimes get a tad over-excited watching their children enthusiastically demolish food that is full of vegetables.
“Sandy-food” became so popular that in 2013 she compiled a recipe book to give to friends and family for Christmas. Thirty copies didn’t stretch far so in 2014 Sandy self-published a short print-run of ‘Bean Rolls and Other Yummy Stuff’. Imbued with Sandy’s irascible sense of humour and written in delightfully conversational language, the book included scores of delicious vegetarian recipes, and an embarrassing swag of errors. Sandy says “It was a great lesson in the value of patience, professional editing and accurate proofreading, none of which I gave adequate attention to.” You’ll find nearly all of the updated and edited recipes in the ‘Sandy’s Kitchen’ menu.
Sandy’s writing, cooking and poetry performance opportunities have expanded exponentially over the years. After 16 years in the NSW public sector, Sandy resigned to pursue her passions and take her chances as a writer. Sandy Ink is the resulting work-in-progress of one woman who has been inspired to live a creative, self-directed lifestyle.
“It’s my aim that this website will be a place to share my poetry, my vegetarian recipes, Blue Mountains local stories and literary ramblings. I’ll share links about Blue Mountains literary events, people and resources. As the website grows I’ll offer resources for both writers and those that want some help to polish their written work.”
“I am focused on writing my first novel, which is both an inspiring and daunting experience,” she continues. “As well as working on the story, I’m developing techniques to track continuity, themes, characters and the novel-writing process itself. There are countless articles about writing, but few that offer practical insights into maintaining continuity of both characters and story. As I write, some useful continuity and editing tools are evolving. As I’m not yet a real published novelist, I won’t have the gall to be offering these works-in-progress as resources just now.”