Monday, 26 January 2015


We've lived in our house for 20 years and a few days.

I vividly remember the day we moved in. I came over early, armed with a vacuum and cleaning gear while Geoff and his mates loaded the truck back in Box Hill North. George was 18 months old and I was six months pregnant with Jaz.

I arrived prepared to give the old house a thorough clean before we started unpacking, only to discover the elderly lady who was the prior occupant, had left it immaculately clean. (Well, as clean as an 80 year old house, most recently decorated circa 1970, could be).

The location is great. We have a tram stop at one end of the street, a train station at the other, we're just minutes from the freeway into (and out of!) the city, there's a cafe virtually next door that makes excellent coffee, we can walk to two pubs, a wine bar, a local supermarket, pharmacy, newsagency, a couple of good gift shops, various cafes and some great restaurants that also do take away. (Plus a heap of antique shops which is what brings people to the hood.) But the real soul of our location is our neighbours.

Over the past 20 years we have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by amazing people you'd gladly have a drink with and could count on should you need. And we've often done both.

Our next door neighbour, Marcus, was here when we arrived and recently turned 90. His family generously included us in the celebration by asking us over for a drink, where Peter decided it would be hilarious to sneak over and turn on the ceiling fan which had been festooned with '90th' cardboard cutouts. And is was very funny!

Marcus is the perfect neighbour - kind to the kids, leaves lemons on our front porch, likes a drink and looks after the cat and collects the post if we're away.

A few days before we got back from the beach this year, our alarm went off and understandably, Marcus was concerned. He sought assistance from the neighbours over the road, Shen and Dean. The alarm is monitored so I also knew it was going and rang Shen.

Me: I'm so sorry Shen. If you use your key, I'll tell you the code to turn it off.
Shen: No worries... hang on, I'll just pop Dean on. He's just opened the door...
Dean: Hi MWW, we're just popping a few things on eBay for you...
Me: Oh cool! Don't forget the golf clubs in the shed!

Once the alarm had been disarmed....
Shen: It all looks fine but we'll just have a look around outside to make sure no-one's tried to break in.
Me: Oh gosh! Be really careful!
Shen: Don't worry... we have Marcus with us!

That was the reassurance I needed!

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Fancy Pants Day Spa

For my last birthday, Geoff gave me a voucher to the fabulous day spa I love but venture to infrequently.

As my birthday will be here again in just a few short months, I thought it was well time to book it in.

The chick at reception assured me most people take a year to redeem vouchers. Her theory is because you didn't buy it yourself, you don't make the time. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. I think it's because the anticipation of such indulgence is almost as good as the event itself. You just look at that thick, crisp, white package on your desk and sigh in the smug satisfaction of knowing it's there whenever you feel like it.

And now it's not. Which is a bit sad and just a reminder that I should book myself in more than annually.

Anyway... I had the Kitya Karnu signature treatment last Monday. Divine. Ensconced in a personal steam room, you're lathered up with delectable smelling oil, then sprinkled with some seemingly heated exfoliating salty mud and vigorously scrubbed down. Unfortunately at that point, as much as I was enjoying the experience, I had two images in my mind:

  1. Preparing a slab of pork belly for the oven
  2. Reapplying sunscreen after you've laid in the sand
Neither really conjuring up the euphoric state I was hoping for.

They then wash it all off with high-pressure water, run some refrigerated river stones over you then flip you like a sausage (or maybe that's just me??) to do the other side.

Anyway, in addition they apply a hair mask, which includes a head massage (an absolute highlight) and a bit of a mini facial.

After, they settle you back into their plush lounge with soothing music, books full of inspiring quotes and lifestyles that I'll never attain, chilled water and a glass of herbal tea. You can then avail yourself of their heavy-rain-like showers using all their fabulous products - shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion - in the bathroom with combs, hairdryers, loads of fluffy white towels you don't have to wash -  so make sure you're not in a rush.

Hopefully the Zen will last a few weeks.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Natural Fitness

Do you think it exists? If it does, I don't have it.

But have you noticed how some people seem to have the ability to comfortably carry out long bursts of physical activity with seemingly no regular or relevant training? It's very annoying.

I live with two - possibly three - such people. The one I'm not allowed to blog about (Geoff) is probably the best candidate. He can surf, ride his bike, swim, walk for miles - all with ease - yet the only only time I've ever seen him run is when he set fire to the house (that's another story!). It's just not fair. This year he has been swimming weekly with Sass, training netball and doing weight training at the gym - but it seems fairly cruisey compared to my gruelling and clearly fruitless running.

As I've mentioned before, I am a crap runner. In fact, when this top appeared for sale in my FaceBook newsfeed, I wondered if someone had been spying on me. Never-the-less, it spoke to me so loudly, I was compelled to buy one.

I run...I'm slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter...but I run.

Having not run for months, Eleanor at least has the decency to let me beat her and look like she's about to puke - but only the once. After that, she seems to find her stride and come good - god damn her! In fairness, and as I point out to her, she does have youth on her side.

It does seem so unfair. If I take a couple of weeks off - even skiing or otherwise being very active - guaranteed during my next run I'll feel (and probably look) like a bag of wet cement.

Apparently some scientists think cats of all sizes purr to maintain fitness - maybe I should try and master that?!

But what do you think? Does natural fitness exist?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Bike Ride

This is the beach smack in front of my parents' house at Robe in South Australia. It's called Long Beach (so imaginative!) and runs for 11kms around the bay. Aside from the first few hundred metres, the rest is deemed highway and you can drive your car on it, so if you don't like the surf or people nearby, you can simply keep going around the bay to find a spot away from everyone.
Those are cars in the distance.
A few days ago, I came up with this hair brained idea that I'd ride my bike to the end of the beach and back. Having done some riding a few years back, I thought it would take me a bit over an hour for the round trip. I borrowed Elle's bike, which is (appropriately!) a bit of an old lady's model which seemed better suited to the terrain than my thin-wheeled road bike.

Off I set.

It was a little harder than I thought but okay - until I ran out of hard sand. A few times the bike literally came to a grinding holt as I chose the wet sand that had been vacated by the tide merely moments before over the dry sand that offered no traction at all. Hmmm. At those points I had to get off and push until I got back on to a firmer surface. And the wind was starting to pick up.

Anyway, I made it to the end and here's the proof!
The seaweed did NOT help my progress here either.
It hadn't taken half an hour to get there - more like an hour - so I decided to ride back on the road. I had to push the bike over the 4WD trail and then peddle my way down a track, with deep trenches caused by soft earth and heavy rain, to reach the road. There was a combine-harvester working a paddock nearby which was vaguely reassuring that if I did collapse someone might eventually notice.

As I moved away from the beach, the temperature rose but perhaps it was due to the track being somewhat sheltered from the howling gale. I made it to the road and started peddling, consoling myself that the trip wouldn't be much further now. There were few cars which was also good. And then I reached a T-intersection. The sign post showed I'd come 6kms from the beach and had 16kms to go to get back to Robe. 16??? How could that be?

This road was much busier and the wind now a dry, blasting heat like a fan-forced oven. I did have the sense to actually appreciate the breeze as I knew if it dropped off I'd suddenly be aware of how baking hot it actually was. On and on I went, clinging to the edge of the bitumen as large vehicles towing boats and trailers shot past me at speeds in excess of 110kms with centimetres to spare. (In fairness, some did slowdown and I gave them a courtesy nod. I'd have given the speedsters the finger if I'd been brave enough to take my hand off the handles.)

At one point, a large piece of agricultural equipment was heading towards me, with about 5 cars backed up behind. On this occasion, I did seek refuge in the driveway of an olive farm (for sale, about 5,000 trees and about 7kms out of Robe should you be interested) and consumed the last 3cms of simmering hot water from my bottle.

Finally, I saw another sign - 5kms to Robe - thank the lord! As I pressed on I wondered if that was 5kms to the centre of town, 5kms to the Long Beach, 5kms to the Ski Lake? Anyway, it was getting closer! Having been sure I'd knocked over at least one more 'k', I saw another sign approaching - Robe 5kms. WTF?? Damn you sign. I wanted to rip it from the ground and would have had I had the strength.

I did make it back and once off the bike, collapsed into the foetal position to recover while Eleanor laughed and took photos and mimicked my 'it'll only take about an hour' claim - I'd been gone nearly three. Over the remainder of the day I drank about 3 litres of water and didn't wee once! I suspect I was a tad dehydrated.

Relaying my adventure to the others later, and showing the photo on my phone that proved I'd made it - my brother asked; 'Why didn't you just ring and we could have come and picked you up?'

Because that would have been defeat my friends!!!!

I'd like to dedicate this post to my amazing proof reader Penny, (if there's ever a typo it's because I have by-passed the service, it's not PB!) who pedalled an amazing 800kms through Thailand to raise money for tsunami orphans. I have a whole new respect for you PB!!

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. ...