Monday, 23 December 2013

We're off!

We're currently in Tokyo. We left on Tuesday - well, Wednesday at 1.25am to be precise - which is what happens when you fly as cheaply as we do on Air Asia.which also means we go via KL and almost double the journey - but for half the price, we're not complaining! And I do like KL.

We arrived there just before 7am and bought the required cab voucher to get us into KLCC (Kuala Lumpa City Centre) for the six hour stop over. As luck would have it, we got an amazing driver called Aishia. The mother of 8 daughters and countless grandchildren, Aishia had had several careers, including freelance sales rep for various car brands and owning her own food business before deciding driving a taxi was the least stressful option at this stage in her life. We heard about each if her daughters including one who made and sold cheesecake as a business. 'Baked?' I asked. Yes she said. Yum!

Having mentioned we were hungry on the hour long trip into town, she offered to take us somewhere that had authentic Malaysian Muslim food. We accepted. She took us to a food court where 'staff' eat and it was delicious and everyone friendly.

In the end, we spent a couple of hours with her, exchanging views on family and relationships. She was very open - even quietly confessing to me that she had rushed into her second marriage, didn't live with her husband and on occasion, still slept over at her ex- husband's.

We liked her so much we asked if she'd come back to collect us for the trip back to the airport. She picked us up and said she needed to stop past her house for 5 minutes. Seemed a bit odd but we agreed. We pulled up out front where some of her daughters and grandchildren were clearly expecting us. Without leaving the car, we all said hello and they presented us with a parcel - cheesecake  to eat on the plane. How generous!

So weren't we surprised when we opened the delicious looking cake to discover it was a sponge cake, smothered in cream and topped with grated cheese!!!!

Odd - but didn't detract from her kindness.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Home Coming

Can you believe Elle's year at boarding school is over?

Seems like yesterday I was screaming at her to get on that bus and don't look back. Yes, that send off was quite the start to her adventure and my year without her as you may recall.

And now she's back. For good. And so far it's going quite well!

Here she is, striking a pose as she disembarked the bus for the last time.

She made it - although Geoff always suggested she stay away from cliffs - she is a little clumsy and he was concerned she'd fall over.

In fact, we watched the DVD of the year's highlights on the night of her return and there's a great bit of the whole year, all bunched up for a group photo in the snow on Mt Buller and suddenly the formation starts to collapse from the middle out to the left like dominoes - yep, Elle slipped over.

So I guess it was no surprise when after this confident pose, she stepped off the bus - and tripped!!

At least there was no cliff nearby.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Pearl Couscous Salad

Pearl couscous, to my mind, tastes more like pasta than couscous - which is probably why people who don't care for couscous quite like it - ie Geoff.

Here's a quick salad that could easily double as a lunch to take to the office or a working girl's dinner!

  • Saute a chopped brown onion until golden. Add a 250g packet of pearl couscous, two cups of boiling water, a good pinch of sea salt and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Let it sit for a bit before transferring to a dish to cool
  • Once cool, add a couple of diced tomatoes, a diced Lebanese cucumber and sweet corn. I used cooked, cold fresh corn and just sliced the kernels off the cob. It could have done with some diced red capsicum but there was none in the fridge...
  • Micro-plane the zest off a lemon, then squeeze in the juice
  • Drizzle on a good amount of olive oil - I used lemon scented because I reckon it can't ever be too lemony
  • Add lots of chopped mint and parsley and taste - it might need more salt as the couscous really does needs a fair bit. And that's it - too easy!

Monday, 25 November 2013


I pride myself in my ability to follow instructions. I spent years putting Lego together for George. I can construct an office chair from Officeworks and a wall of shelves from Ikea. If I pay attention, I can install a scanner or the latest version of Call of Duty onto a computer. I have read the manual for my car and can now use the navigation and the heater. I've made 2,000 piece jigsaws before. Geoff has charged me with programming the watering system. I'm just that kind of nerd!

Or I thought I was.

When we were in Thailand last year, I bought one of those lights that you put together yourself and is meant to look something like this....

In my excitement and liking the freestanding look, I bought 120 pieces - the mother of them all. The guy at the night market (says it all really - like he was ever going to see me again!) said it was easy to put together.

Well it's NOT!!!!

I have wasted at least two hours of my life that I will never get back and this is what it looks like so far.....

Aggggghhhhh!! I laid all the pieces on the floor as per the instructions below for all 120 pieces, and that didn't work. It was very confusing. Especially as the instructions say "have a play, be inventive!" For fuck's sake, I can't even get them in the right order!!!

Then it says start with the five and then turn it upside down 'like a bowl' and keep building. You can see it starts off looking okay, but then it becomes too complicated for my clearly decaying mind and I can't work out what goes where. I've had several goes at it and it still isn't making sense. I just keep thinking the pattern will become apparent - like in an IQ test. (There's a thought....)

I've even Googled it and no luck there either in finding anything that makes it the remotest bit clearer.

So if any of you are harbouring a child-genius who's brilliant at this kind of stuff, I'm prepared to pay money to have them put it together. Real money. Happy to negotiate. It'll probably cost more than the light - but that's NOT the point. My pride is at stake.

Sadly, I also have a sneaking suspicion I'm not not going to like it nearly as much as I did after eight beers and a green chicken curry in the Phuket night market at 11pm - but again, that's NOT the point!! Let's see if I can get it made and then worry about getting rid of it!

Message me peeps!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Fair Fairy Floss

Last Sunday was the local school fair. I confess, my contribution to that school's activities and fundraising has typically been pretty negligible. Only because there is an army of amazing women who run those events like a military operation and I figure I might as well focus my attention to causes that don't have that kind of support.

But this year I did put my hand up for a stint on the Fairy Floss stall. Seriously peeps, that stuff should be classified as a health hazard. It's artificially coloured pink sugar poured into a heated centrifuge and then spun into a floss guaranteed to weasel its way into every nook and cranny of your teeth. It's like fertiliser for decay. Not to mention that by the end of my shift I had that sticky pink stuff in my hair and on my face and stuck all over my clothes and watch. I kept thinking it was hair in my face but as I tried to brush it away - nup, more floss.

Getting that stuff onto a stick is an art I'm not certain I've mastered. I was making an awful lot that resembled those crazy extra-long sock-hats - they just needed a pom pom on the end. I had to try and flick the long tail back around the the main mass. They amused me!

Sort of like this but pink and fluffy...

The kids demanded I made them huuuuuge, the parents insisted I make them small. I tried to please every one.

But the real damage came when I banged my fingers on that spinning grater-like thing in the middle and later that night my shalac peeled off :(

Anyhow, an hour and half later of continual flossing and we'd gone through a staggeringly small amount of sugar - probably less than a kilo so about a dollars worth.  I estimate we made about 150 sticks at $3 a pop meaning the school was about $450 better off. Not a bad ROI!

PS Please excuse typos - my Proof Reader's had a huge weekend so I've decided not to bother her tonight...

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Dare to poo on my nature strip!!!

I have had it up to pussy's bow with dog owners allowing their dogs not only to crap on our nature strip, but not even bothering to pick it up. My apologies to the dogs. I'd sprinkle this up your owner's nose if I could.

I'll get back to you on the results.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Pros & Cons of Being #4

I was reflecting today how disciplined we were with George and Jaz when they were little,. The routine was clockwork. The only time they knew as pre-schoolers was 'twenty past seven' which was either ten minutes until we left for creche if it was the morning or ten minutes until they were tucked up in bed if it was night.

And once tucked into their cosy little beds, that was it. They never got out. On occasion, they would call for room service, but on the whole, it was dinner, bath, book and bed. We even used to pop Enya on the portable CD player to get them off to sleep.

Then straight up at 6.30am to do it all again.

Oh how things have changed!

It started to slide a bit when Elle was born - she's 5 1/2 years younger than George - but on the whole, it was still pretty much on track.

But then Saskia arrived - a mere 12 1/2 years after George  - and that perfect pre-schooler routine was never located again. We did look. But even by three she was a reluctant participant. 'Why am I going to bed?' she'd complain, bewildered, as George, now 15, Jaz 13 and Elle 9 were all settling in for a bit of Australian Idol.  Yep - just wasn't happening. We'd still be trying to round her up at 9.30pm.

This year was our big year. She's now 7 and the only one at home. Surely we could get a routine going. And we have - sort of. She does go to bed between 7.30 and 8pm. But does tend to pop out several times if the mood takes her. It's a complete mystery to me now as to how I got the others to stay there. And I'm sure there wasn't any yelling involved either.

But it has been pointed out by Saskia's peers mothers that there are up-sides. She is incredibly articulate and usually pretty confident. She can also be extremely grown up for someone who's 7 and be very responsible with our young, pre-school neighbour.

I think you do ease up a bit as they go on and I hope there were pros and cons for all of them. But I am wondering if, like grand parenting, there should be some refresher courses for those of us who thought they'd just sneak in that last one before menopause. But at least tonight I did think to pop some music on - the iPod not the CD - and I haven't heard peep out of her!
All six of us circa 1855. (or 2006!)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


No,  not 64. I mean the four-wheel drive beasts that line the narrow streets around our local primary school. One parks on either side of the road as two aim to pass by each other in the narrow gap that remains.

I used to drive a van and people had respect for van-drivers. Not so drivers of a 4x4. And rightly so I might add.

Before the van I had a Pajero and I remember well the time it needed a service. The kids and I got up extra early, drove to Burwood to drop it off and collected a loan car - a Colt - in an unfortunate shade of copper that forced me to dub it 'The Poo.' The kids were small but filled the car and the boot barely had room for school bags!

From this....
.... to this.

Nevertheless, off we shot!

As we hurtled into the narrow street to school, I found myself confronted by a very large, very European 4x4. I had actually entered the tunnel of similar vehicles first - not that the driver cared as she bore down on us and mouthed some pretty clear words at me. Bloody hell! Just because you drive a big car and I'm in a little poo does NOT make you queen of the road.... but actually, it did. She refused to budge. Frankly I was lucky she didn't decide to drive right over the top of me, monster-truck like. So I popped the poo into reverse and edged out backwards. I wound my window down in the hope of sharing a few choice words back at my persecutor but sadly, she didn't want to play. She ensured her electric window remained tightly sealed, stared straight ahead and, I suspect, turned up her classical music in case her nerves of steel needed calming.

One to her.

I dropped the kids and tootled off to work. I always kept an eye out for this 4x4 bully, but frankly, she was lost in the sea of sameness.....

I wonder when they planned those little streets around that little school if they ever envisaged that it would be inhabitated by such creatures?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Dress De Jour

My business partner Mandy and I were at Oaks Day on Thursday, entertaining clients. That makes it sound so legitimate - and is was - but we were also just having a ripper day with some great chicks who we happen to work with.

But, the big surprise of the day was this ubiquitous pink dress.

Anyone else see one? Or ten??

There were three within a two car-park radius of our spot and we spotted a couple more floating by as the day progressed. We were in the section called On The Rails which would be one of the smallest and we guessed there were at least seven in our enclosure. One of our guests, Sue, sent us this pic as she'd spotted yet another on the train on the way home.

Mandy thought it may be a Manning Cartell - I said more likely the major department stores - Myer or David Jones. So intrigued were we than Mandy bravely approached a champagne-sodden wearer (the fifth we'd spied), said how much she loved her dress (liar), and asked what brand it was. The wearer was so tanked she couldn't speak - in fact, she was having trouble standing - but indicated Mandy was welcome to check the label herself - Country Road. Reminded me exactly why I don't buy it - well, the fact that it's ubiquitous and over priced....

So there you have it ladies, for $179 you too could be wearing the same dress as probably thirty people across the course on the same day. Maybe a hundred over the entire carnival - maybe more.

It probably doesn't really matter - it is a great colour. The girl above clearly looks gorgeous in it but some, dare I suggest, could have done with a better choice of undergarments....

PS Please excuse typos etc as my proof reader isn't recieving my emails... technical issue. Dn't you hate those!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Party

Elle was home from boarding school for the weekend. When I say the 'weekend' it was pretty much a week. I wish I had the same ability as her school to condense time! A weekend to me is two days. Six is pretty much a week. But hey, that's private school for you - the more you pay the less you get.

And why were they on a 'break'? That's right - The Melbourne Cup. The only place in the world, I hedge to bet, that has a public holiday on a Tuesday for a horse race. I did think it was pretty funny when the news talked about the bemused tourists never seeing anything like The Cup parade through the city, etc. What about the parade we have for the football grand final? Or Moomba? Or even how everyone goes nuts about the Australian Open - also here in Melbourne. Seriously, sport is our religion.

But back to Elle.

She asked if she and her friend could go to a party on Friday night. It was supervised, there was security and it was $5 to get in. Sounded perfectly legitimate to me. What they didn't realise was that the hosting hall wasn't in neighbouring South Yarra, but way out in Burwood. Never mind, I said, sounds fine - I'll drive you there and pick you up.

As we arrived, there were young men in hi-viz vests with night wands directing parents to the drop off point, which was all very reassuring.

The girls were very excited and said they'd text me with the pick up time.

So weren't they surprised when half way through the party, the lights were turned on, the music turned off and they were all asked to sit down on the floor and let Jesus into their hearts. Laugh!!!

In addition, they told me that during the dance, the night wands were also used to tap kissing couples on the shoulder to 'cut that out - it's offensive to others' and even those who were dancing too closely got the tap. I loved this party!

In fact having got the debrief, I have promised Elle and any of her friends that I am willing to drive them anywhere to go to more of those parties!!

The night wand - used for directing traffic and keeping teens apart!!

Monday, 4 November 2013


We had a few friends and kids over for lunch yesterday so I thought a paella would be a crowd pleaser - and it was.

There were 13 of us in total and naturally I made enough for about 23 which was fine because every one also got a take home pack and it's not bad microwaved. 

My paella pan is probably just big enough for 8-10 so I hatched the cunning plan of using my roasting pans on the barbecue, as they're the same enamel as the pan so figured that would work. I mentioned the barbecue when I was talking on the phone to Mum and she asked me if it would all fall through the grill - seriously. She also enquired if I was going to have a test run - ha! You'd think she'd know how I roll by now. Of course I'm not doing a test run, who's got time for that - and I like to live on the edge. Remember when I set fire to the rotisserie? See, that wouldn't have happened if I'd had a test run, and where's the fun in that??

Anyhoo - back to the paella. Here's what I did (I've halved the recipe but this would still feed a crowd of 10 or so)

In a large pot, heat 2.5 litres of liquid - exact mix doesn't matter that much
  • 1.75 litres chicken stock
  • 250ml white wine/champagne - whatever's in the fridge
  • 500ml crab stock*
  • a few strands of saffron (it's also mega expensive and I'm not sure it does make a huge difference so let's call that optional)
*I reckon the secret to why this paella is so good is the crab stock. I get it from the fish shop - it's really expensive - $11.50 for 500ml - but worth it. 

In a fry pan, fry off the following until soft/cooked:
  • 4 chorizo sausages
  • 600g diced chicken thighs
  • 2 red capsicums - diced
  • 2-3 brown onions diced
  • 3 cloves garlic - fry with the onion
  • 500g prawns* (keep aside separate from the rest).
*I used Coles frozen farmed cooked prawns tails on - they're a bit average but pretty cheap. Probably better to use fresh ones with tails and heads on if you can be bothered dealing with them. Put them aside so they don't get over cooked - or like me, chuck in the cooked one's towards the end.

Put all this in your paella dish/baking pan and add:
  • 2 diced ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cups medium grain rice
  • 2 large teaspoons smoked paprika
Put the pan on the stove/barbecue and start adding the hot stock.

When it's almost all in - or you've lost interest - add:
  • prawns
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh peas
  • 1kg raw mussels in shells over the top
Cover with foil or close lid of barbie and give it about 10 minutes to cook peas, warm prawns and steam mussels.

Top with a small jar of pimento strips and a bunch of roughly chopped parsley, toss around some lemon wedges and - voila!

Well, I say voila - but because I was doing two big trays I had to recruit my friend Brenda to help - which was fun - but if you'd rather not, I suggest you get it up to the point of adding the stock before the guests arrive.

This was the first one I did - no time yesterday to get a pic! But same same.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


I often hear people complaining that Halloween is so American and why do we even recognising it here in Australia.

Well I for one am embracing it.

The sheer excitement it generates among the kids is just gorgeous, so where's the harm? Even businesses are getting in on the act. My Frankie won the prize at her work for dressing as an Awkward Silence. That's scary!

Our neighbours front gate.
When I was a kid we had Guy Fawkes Night, which was about the only thing I can compare it to. It was sooooo exciting. Not Christmas/birthday exciting, but getting together with other families, running around in dark with kids of all ages playing tiggy and hide and seek. Christmas is mostly family and birthdays your own peers, but Guy Fawkes Night was a free for all!

We had bonfires and fireworks of varying types - penny bangers, Catherine wheels, skyrockets. All the parents had a few (or many) drinks around the fire and Dad invariable burnt himself on one of the year's fancy new pyrotechnics. But it was all part of the fun.

And what happened? That's right, it was all deemed far too dangerous and was banned. Just like that. Party poopers.

So what have little kids got to get excited about now? Halloween!

Our front door - for the past week
And as my business partner Mandy and I tried to have a sensible conversation about our new website, she was herding six kids down the road trick and treating and I had eight under 8s at my front door that I was ladling lollies to. And did it matter? No! The kids - every one from two to teens - were out there having fun and meeting the neighbours. And for the sake a few cheap costumes (landfill, I concede) and too much sugar, it's just plain fun and what's the problem with that?

The aftermath at ur place....

Monday, 28 October 2013


Did you have a bedspread when you were growing up? Maybe you have one now.

I had a jacquard one (that's when the pattern is woven into the fabric) in cream and beige as I recall. Probably terribly sophisticated back in the 1970s, but what I really hankered for was pink candlewick one, like our cleaning lady had in her spare room where we sometimes got to stay. 

So cosy, so warm, so, so.... pink!
You can tell a lot about accommodation by the bedspreads. It's one of my key criteria. In fact, these days, as I scoot around Trip Advisor, Wot If and Last Minute I'd have to say a bedspread is pretty much a deal breaker.

I think I was scarred by a nine-day shoot for a television commercial I was on a few years back. It literally took us to every corner of Australia and my client Elisa and I took great note of the bedspreads in the selection of cheap motels we briefly lay down in at the end of each hectic day. And yes, there were attempts at themes. 

Anywhere within 50km of the coast erred towards shells, tropical foliage and hibiscus flowers. Inland was more your earthy, bush colours, often reminiscent of the surrounding countryside. Either than or the hideous brown abstract patterns had been selected for their ability to hide the proverbial 'multitude of sins'. Ew. Doesn't even bear thinking about. But now that I am, I wonder how often they do get peeled off and tossed through a hot cycle?

All were polyester and probably highly flammable had they not been treated with an even more deadly chemical cocktail. All were lightly padded against the freezing nights down south and the freezing air conditioning up north. And all were in equally poor taste.

This isn't them exactly... no wait!... maybe it is?! They look frighteningly familiar! Either that or they've all blended into the one selection. What do you think? Familiar?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Year

What's a year? 365 days. The time it takes planet earth to chug a lap around the sun? A real measure, but still arbitrary in many ways.

George died on September 30th last year. And on September 30th this year, I didn't want to dwell on it.
I didn't want to recall in painful details, the hideous decision and even more hideous process of withdrawing life support. And just because the earth was sitting in the same position it was when in happened, does that matter? Does that mean you have to be contemplative? I decided no.

It's not that I don't think of George every day and the little things about him. The fact that he took his top off every night to go to sleep - summer, winter, camping - he was just that kind of guy. Even the shape of his fingernails is very clear to me - and I hope I can maintain that detail into old age. I just didn't feel more or less pained by his loss at the 365-day mark than I did at 364 or 366.

My sister-in-law Karen sent me this photo of all the cousins on Geoff's side. I love it. You can almost see the personalities of these kids as they are now, more than 10 years later.  It was so typical of George to be holding the baby - in this case, the youngest cousin at the time, Michael. (Yes, Sass was yet to be then. Karen has suggested we Photoshop her in!)

L-R: Back - Eliza, Eleanor, Jazzy, George & Michael, Timothy, James. Front - Stephanie, Claire, Jack.  2003

So to repeat the poignant text of my friend Annie from Paris, a year after Jazzy died - time goes quickly, times goes slowly.

How right she is.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Show Bags.

I was at uni with a guy nicknamed Show Bags - very appealing on the outside but in reality, full of crap.

So one of the many advantages of running your own business is flexibility. We had a client who had a presence at The Royal Melbourne Show so Mandy and I decided to take the kids and check it out.

It had been quite some time since Mandy had been to The Show, so she was surprised to see a small baby in a pram drinking chocolate milk from her baby bottle. I raised her when I saw two small children in a double stroller in The Show Bag Pavilion with Coke in their baby bottles. Classy.

Being the super nerdy dag that I am, I love the Craft & Cooking Pavilion. All the quilts and knitted bits, woodwork and decorated cakes. Some are incredible, many are hideous, but I'm dazzled never the less. So much so that after the kids had watched the biscuit decorating demonstration and I was still immersed in the preserves, I got the tap on the shoulder from Mands - we were out of there.

A tea cosy titled: Fifty Shades of Earl Grey.

It's no cheap outing with rides costing between $7 and $13 each!  So I was pleased to see Sass (aka Quinoa) get a driver for her dodgem' car. Why drive yourself when you can have a professional (aka the Carnie) do it for you?? Oh that's right - because you can't reach the accelerator.

The girls also had a go at reading the Channel 7 news....which was not only kinda cool because they immediately text you a link to the video - but it's FREE!!! Yes, really.

"Elle & Sass. Seven News."

Sugar stash as of this morning.
So back to the show bags. As a general observation, there seems to be an inverse correlation between household income and expenditure on show bags. There are dozens of $24 Kmart strollers weighed down with $240-worth of complete and utter rubbish.
The girls were allowed two each. Elle went straight for the magazine/beauty ones with make up, fast tan, bags and other things she'll actually use.

You won't recognise a brand -
it's all made up names - probably from China
The choice for Sass was slim - landfill (ie cheap crap that I will need to sneakily dispose of in the coming 12 months) or sugar (she's lost a heap of baby teeth lately and I didn't like that idea either.) We settled for one of each. But two weeks later, the sugar stash is still ludicrously large and I'm finding tell-tale wrappers everywhere.

So do you do The Show? What's your fave? And do you choose landfill or sugar for the kids' show bags?

Monday, 14 October 2013

Adelaide: The Wrap (Up).

Although Mum and Dad were happy to drive to Adelaide, once they got there they parked their car at the hotel and drove no more until it was home time. Geoff and I were keen to explore, especially the wineries, so we discussed our options. I could drive our hire car and he could drive their car - nup - that didn't sound like fun. So in the end, I booked a tour. No one needed to drive.

The mini bus pulled up at our hotel at the appointed time and our smooth and dulcet toned guide, slash, driver (he'd had a career in radio in a former life and had the perfectly blow-dried hair to prove it) was waiting to shake my hand and introduce himself before we got on the bus. 'Hi,' I said and tried to whip my hand away to join Mum, Dad and everyone else on the bus. But Adrian's gentle shake became a vice like grip that prevented my getaway as he explained he really did need to see the Visa card I'd booked with.... if I'd be so kind.

After that somewhat rocky start, we were away!

Adrian remembered the names of all 24 guests aboard his bus and liked to refer to us all individually and single people out for special questions. It was kinda odd but kinda fun at the same time as we certainly got to know everyone else fast. Our day included a city tour, a sprint up to Mt Barker, into Hahndorf for a bite of lunch, back to town to drop of those that had (rudely) only booked a half day tour then off to the Barossa. A lot to pack into a tour but you quickly realise everything is pretty close by in Adelaide.

The architecture in the city is also quite beautiful and they've done a great job of blending the old and new. It may have stood out too because I was a bit underwhelmed with Perth's (sorry Lara and Di). We saw them applying copper to the sport stadium redevelopment and it looks incredible. They've extended their convention centre and it's hard to believe that the original was built it the 80s and was the first purpose built convention centre in Australia. Who said they were all backwards in Adelaide?

And check out their new Medical Reseach building! It's still under construction but it's amazing.

So, there you go peeps - Adelaide - not such a bad place after all!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Welcome to Adelaide

The train arrived in Adelaide at 7am, ahead of schedule so the Fremantle fans travelling up the back could catch their connecting buses and trains to Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final. I can only imagine that it was a journey filled with unprecedented excitement and anticipation surpassed only by the degree disappointment and heartache on the excruciatingly long journey home.

Kids, I said, I'll go get the hire car. I grabbed a cab and headed in to town. Three minutes later I was there but the office didn't open until 8am. I sat on the concrete stairs and waited while Geoff and the kids sat at the station and waited. Finally I got the car, plugged the station into my phone GPS and was off. Now I love GPS - when it's on the money, but I could see from the map it wasn't quite right. After an 8 kilometre lap of Adelaide, taking in the same sights I saw first time round, I finally pulled over and asked a cab driver. I'd missed the road into the station by about 10 metres - ahhhhh!!! So 2 hours after setting off, we were finally reunited. First stop, the zoo.

Adelaide has a great zoo and the only pandas in Australia that they pay a million bucks a year for the privilege, so they'd want to be bloody cute!!! And they were.

On arrival, we were met by a zoo rep who was selling animal encounters. It as $30 each to get up close to the giant tortoises - so $120 for all of us. Outrageous - but I guess they need to pay for those pandas. We passed. But when we got around to the tortoises, one was so close to the fence that I got the shot we would have paid $120 for and the girls (and all the other people there) could just reach over and give him (or her?) a little scratch. I think they need to rethink that deal. Or train the tortoise not give away what they can get people to pay for!!

It's a really lovely zoo, beautiful gardens, happy looking residents so if you're there, it's worth a visit, even though it probably takes a good three minutes to get there from the centre of town (yes, three minutes).

Mum and Dad had come to Adelaide and met us at the zoo. Geoff popped back to put more money in the meter but too late - we got a parking fine. But only $45 which is cheap compared to Melbourne.

The next morning, Geoff trotted out of our hotel early to top up the parking metre - he was 20 minutes late and yes, another $45 parking fine. Welcome to Adelaide!

It was the day of the AFL grand final so we headed down to Glenelg on the tram (such a novelty when you're from Melbourne - not!). We took a family selfie on the pier and then Mum suggested we find the Oyster Bar. Good plan, Mum. It wasn't quite lunch time but hey, we were on holiday!

Then back to the folks' fancy hotel to drink red wine and order a cheese platter and watch the footy. I'm not really into footy but I really did feel for all those Fremantle fans who'd been in the less luxurious Red Class of the train and then an eight hour bus ride - all at great expense to witness THAT.

Anyway....there was a baby Spiegel tent in the park over from said fancy hotel that had free 15 minute shows. We queued up for the first and it was so good we rushed around twice more and saw three before dinner. Adelaide does arts so well! So a quick dinner in the closest pub and another great day in Adelaide was over.

Daphne, a performer in Adelaide pouring a wine while hoola hooping.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Quinoa's ancient ancestor, Barley.

I just came across this and had to share!!

This is the amazing work of Melbourne photographic artist, Bill Gekas that's recently featured on Yellow Trace.

It reminded me so much of Quinoa! Aren't they just adorable!!!

Check out the Yellow Trace article here or go straight to Bill's website here.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Train

Yes, where have I been....

Actually, on holiday as you know with crap weather, but we are now home.

One of the anticipated highlights was the trip across the Nullarbor on the Indian Pacific train. By comparison to our train travel in Vietnam and Egypt, this was truly civilized. There were clean sheets, en suites and even..... toilet paper. Wow. You might recall after two consecutive nights on the trains in Vietnam, enthusiasm for train travel was waning, so it was quite remarkable that I managed to convince the crew to get on another one. Oh that's right, I didn't ask them, I just booked it.

We arrived at the train station in Perth and it was like pensioner's day at the pokies. I'd joked that Geoff and I would drag down the average age by 20 years - but it was true. It was us, two other families and 200 people aged over 70.  'Don't think it'll be rowdy' I quipped on FB. 'Just wait til bingo!" responded my friend Deb. But there was no bingo.

Having boarded the train just before noon, we sorted out our cabins and set off for the lounge and dining car. And that's where we found everyone - in the bar - and drinks are included! And it's not the cheap stuff either - I kicked off with a glass of Vasse Felix bubbles and pretty much took it from there. We played Scrabble, Uno, dominoes and Connect Four. (Geoff asked what the point of that game was. Elle and I thought it was pretty apparent, but apparently not.) We read books, napped, ate and drank - and then did it all again.

The train pulled in to Kalgoorlie about 10pm and those of us who'd stayed up late (many of the oldies had indeed gone to bed) piled onto buses for a town tour - which was surprisingly good - or maybe it was that I was kinda relaxed on the Vasse Felix! We saw the gold mine that runs 24/7 and climbed into one of the huge trucks they use to transport the dirt to the extraction plant. And of course we had a quick look at Hay Street where the ladies of the night still run a reasonable trade, despite the population shift away from being mostly blokes and at least one brothel now being a 'romantic' bed and breakfast.

Indeed, for a town that's less than 30,000 strong, 26 pubs, many bragging 'skimpies' (girls clad in not much), does seem a tad excessive and not quite as 'family' as they now like to think they are.

The next day was again filled with eating and drinking and views of the desert. Here's a picture.

And here's another.

And one with a filter.

Get the picture?

In fact, the name Nullarbor is Latin (not aboriginal as sometimes thought) and very obvious. 'Null' as in none/nothing and 'arbor' as in trees (as in arborists the tree doctors or arboreal animals, meaning tree-dwelling).

Just before (or after - I can't remember!) pre-lunch drinks on day two, we pulled into Cook, a tiny town just inside the South Australian border. I actually did this same train journey in reverse when I was about 13 and Cook was a highlight. The kids from the school were so excited to see people from the train. But these days, the school is closed, the pool is filled with dirt, the tennis courts are decaying. the jails are empty and the population is a staggeringly tiny four.

At one stage, Cook boasted a hospital which they viewed as their salvation as the privatisation of the rail system threatened the town's continuance. And someone should have been in advertising!

Back on the train for a bite of lunch and a glass of very lovely red (or two) before yet another nap. Then it was time for pre-dinner drinks and dinner and bed. It was extremely relaxing! 

The train arrived in Adelaide at just after 7am where we disembarked for a weekend of more wineries and touring.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Have you caught up with Tiffany Beverage's Pintrest board called My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter? As the mother of, she confesses, two ordinarily dressed boys, she started this board as a bit of joke but it's taken off and she's about to launch the book. (Oh to have a MWW's book!!!)

Anyway, back to Tiff. I don't know her BTW, she's American and I just stumbled on her on Pintrest. She's called her imaginary daughter Quinoa and in essence, she pins these crazy (and ethically questionable) vogue-like shots of young kids on her board with some very sassy editorial. Here are a few of my favourites.

But really, once I start, I just can't stop! It's addictive! You have been warned.

I love it so much that on this holiday, I've taken to calling Sass Quinoa - especially when she's having a Quinoa moment - and texting them to my poor business partner Mandy (who also loves a bit of MIWDTD).
Oh looking nonchalant can
be so much work.
Quinoa enjoyed a glass of
sparkling water in her late morning bath.

Fed up with the on-going bad weather on her
holiday, Quinoa felt she had no choice but to
don her daisy chain wreath & pale blue
fingerless wrist warmer to complete her preppy
look and SHOP!
Exhautsed after yet another hectic day of
wineries in Margaret River, Quinoa settled into
the back of the Beemer for a nap on the way back
to her 5-star resort

And our friends who we were with us in Margaret River emailed us this greeting card - which reads (in case it's too small) Which part of 'I want a pony' didn't you understand?

What do you think??

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...