Tour of the Salt Flats of Bolivia, Day Two, Part Two

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Note on our tour: We took our tour with Hostal Los Salares and Moses and Carla were our driver and cook/guide respectively. The hostel is based in Tupiza, so we took the 4 day trip from Tupiza, ending in Uyuni. Our group highly recommends this tour for the landscape, really good Bolivian food and the lovely tour staff. You can book the hostel on hostelworld.com and book the tour when you arrive.

A little ‘yes we live in Australia’ moment. Weekend BBQ…

Let’s bring this little space smack bang up to date. This weekend we cleaned the huge gas BBQ we’ve been blessed with in our garden and got cooking! The sun was out and we spent a small fortune on beer, burgers and BBQ sauce. Also, prawns, kangaroo and corn!

Any hint of sunshine gets Toby in his Daisy Dukes, so called because he made them himself with unintentional levels of thigh. It’s a lot of thigh. He and Oliver did the grimy cleaning grill work while I did the making green salad work. Emma and Ville joined in with the beer drinking work, definitely the best job.

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Delicious prawns on the BBQ. Preconceived idea about living in Australia now realised!

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Pretty intense prawn peeling above, paid off below.

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Peri peri kangaroo, round two. A clear success over the last attempt because of the fresh air and lack of chilli burn. It’s very lean so you have to cook it as little as you can handle, nice and pink is ideal.

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Being English, all of us, we took our loutish presence to the park bench for the last glimpses of sunshine.

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Emma made this lemon meringue pie later on, slightly tipsy, and it was magnificent! We were eating it all weekend. And the last picture is the beautiful view from our back garden, kind of hideous concrete meets brilliant blue sky.

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A birthday walk…

So you already know that I ate $70 of cheese on my birthday, but that cheese gorging had to be earned. And so it was by a lovely wander through Melbourne with Oliver. We had plans to go further afield, but we so rarely walk around the CBD together, it was a lovely thing to do. I took some pictures of the beautiful buildings, all different, stacked up next to one another.

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I really like the photography of Michael Wolf, if you look at his website here you can see that he loves dense architecture and city streets. Well me too! What is it about cities? Almost everything about them is exhilarating. The skyscrapers, the foot traffic, the lights and even, yes I’m a nerd, the transport. I love the buses, trams and trains at every corner and all of their complicated intricacy.

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This one picture, below, makes me think of Brazil! It’s that Niemeyer-esque building and the palm tree.

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We started out in Fitzory, which is ten minutes on a tram from the CBD and has a totally different, distinct look. It’s charmingly rough, with graffiti everywhere. It’s like a cross between Berlin and small town USA. Lots of lovely old houses and mismatched building facades, with huge graffitied art works on every corner.

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There you have it, a pretty perfect birthday for me, in a city we are still discovering being nerdy about buildings.

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The week in food (3)…

Actually, a few weeks in food. We’ve been eating so well in this house. Something to do with all the guests we’ve had means we’re eating together a lot, taking it in turns to cook for each other. Toby made these incredible burgers, below, a couple of weeks ago when I had an horrific hangover.

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Then he worked wonders with kangaroo and a peri peri marinade. This is a memory worth remembering because he smoked out the entire house with burning chillies. We took turns running outside, dramatically, coughing and laughing.

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Me and Oliver have a dirty secret, we love Melbourne Central, a huge indoor shopping centre in Melbourne CBD. We spent our first few trips to the city there, wandering looking for jobs, then work clothes, and now for the dumplings in the food court. Dumplings and steam buns. They’re so delicious and moreish. I’m crazy for Melbourne food!

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I woke up early one morning and took myself to Industry Beans around the corner for breakfast. I got some interesting oats, tasty but the mandarins were evocative… of toilet cleaner, very perfumed. The rest of their menu is delicious though, promise.

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Lunch one Sunday afternoon… thanks to Toby again. Greek chicken kebabs, lemony and minty, with a feta salad. This was well deserved after our gardening endeavour.

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I started making this honey cake, recipe here, and had to take a picture of butter, honey and sugar melting in a pan. I ate a spoonful of the melted mixture and it was heaven. Like diabetic, heart attack, 50’s USA heaven. There is something about butter that’s undeniable. It’s the way that the fat coats your tongue, it’s so reassuring and dependable. I love you butter. I understand James Martin wholly because of this. Anyway, it was so tasty I forgot to take a picture of the cake itself. Rest assured, it was delicious and enjoyed by all.

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Little midweek tofu and mushroom stifry, below.

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Lastly, a glorious baked Camembert. Shockingly expensive in Australia but still worth every cent. Scored and stuffed with rosemary, melting and salty and almost mushroomy. We ate it with spoons and bread, grapes and a fig and walnut jam. My mother need never worry I’m not eating well enough.

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Ice cream worthy sunshine…

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The sun had been out this weekend! It may be winter to these Aussies, but for us English it certainly feels like summer. The weather in Melbourne is notoriously changeable, but the warm weather was sustained enough to wander up to East Brunswick and do some gardening this weekend.

The weather seriously lifted my mood. I love living in a country with sunshine in winter. I can’t wait for the summer!

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Tour of the Salt Flats of Bolivia, Day Two, Part One

On Day Two we bundled a pasty, fragile Oliver into the jeep and continued our tour. The night before was cold, Bolivia is so cold, but punctuated with delicious traditional food from Carla, our tour and cook. She spoiled us and I ate Oliver’s portions because I’m that kind of girlfriend.

It’s bad that I don’t really know the names of the places we went to. I know it was a national park, near the Salt Flats, I know it was Bolivia. The first day was all climbing and increasing altitude, mountains, snow, bricks. Day Two was deserts, different colored lakes, geysers and flamingoes. Flamingos?

Every couple of hours we were in new spectacular scenery. Bolivia had incredible landscapes, miles and miles of untouched beauty. It was a total revelation.

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Note on our tour: We took our tour with Hostal Los Salares and Moses and Carla were our driver and cook/guide respectively. The hostel is based in Tupiza, so we took the 4 day trip from Tupiza, ending in Uyuni. Our group highly recommends this tour for the landscape, really good Bolivian food and the lovely tour staff. You can book the hostel on hostelworld.com and book the tour when you arrive.

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Tour of the Salt Flats of Bolivia, Day One, Part Two

More pictures from the first day of our tour. You’ll witness my untouched roots, Oliver’s altitude sickness, Darren and Dermot’s bare legs and some llamas.

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That is full on glamour above.

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No idea what this conversation could entail.

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Can you guess who was feeling the altitude in the picture above? Poor Oliver, he looks so ill.

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Above, a fair representation of our snacking habits over the 4 days.

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Note on our tour: We took our tour with Hostal Los Salares and Moses and Carla were our driver and cook/guide respectively. The hostel is based in Tupiza, so we took the 4 day trip from Tupiza, ending in Uyuni. Our group highly recommends this tour for the landscape, really good Bolivian food and the lovely tour staff. You can book the hostel on hostelworld.com and book the tour when you arrive.

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Tour of the Salt Flats of Bolivia, Day One, Part One

This task is so long overdue, but after a chat with Jill yesterday I’ve decided it get over myself and just do it. Put up pictures from our 4 day tour of the Salt Flats of Bolivia. I took hundreds of pictures as we drove for hours and saw dozens of different landscapes.

We took the tour with Darren and Dermot when they got to Bolivia and it was the best! We all agreed that it was a highlight of our trip. It cost about $219 US each, a splurge in Bolivia, but genuinely a bargain to include transport, accommodation, all meals and an English speaking guide. The Salt Flats are seen on the last day, but every day was magnificent for its own reasons.

The first day I’ve broken into 2 posts, and whittled down 200 pictures to 40. They still don’t do it justice!

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Note on our tour: We took our tour with Hostal Los Salares and Moses and Carla were our driver and cook/guide respectively. The hostel is based in Tupiza, so we took the 4 day trip from Tupiza, ending in Uyuni. Our group highly recommends this tour for the landscape, really good Bolivian food and the lovely tour staff. You can book the hostel on hostelworld.com and book the tour when you arrive.

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Birthdays and anniversaries…

Every year Oliver and I have the same fortnight of anniversary, his birthday, my birthday. And I quite like it because we get everything done in one go. Does that sound miserable? It’s just that I don’t like fuss and would rather my birthday didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Good job that my brother and I share a birthday so at least the fuss was easily spread out until I met Oliver. 

This year at the end of July, start of August we celebrated 4 years together, 29 years of Oliver and 27 years of me. Like everyone else I’m sure I dislike birthdays because they make you look at the bigger picture of your life. I did this often with my friend Jill at home, a once a week contemplation of what we’ve done and what’s to come and a little panic about everything we haven’t considered yet.

In the 12 months since my last birthday I’ve done so much more than I could have hoped. Visited 8 countries and countless cities that I’d always wanted to, met wonderful people from all over, eaten exotic and interesting foods and found myself living and working in a different country. Still, there’s always that birthday panic. Like what the fuck am I gonna do with my life!?

We received lovely packages from our parents with birthday gifts and cards, which made me very happy and a little bit homesick. Oliver bought me a beautiful watch and I ate Cadbury’s Marvellous Creations directly from the UK. It’s the little things.

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This birthday I bought $70 worth of cheese and gorged with Oliver. It was all I wanted to do. It’s pretty nice coming to the realisation that eating cheese and staying in is a favourite past time. I suppose that’s the 27 year old I’ve grown into! 

I took some pictures of the cheese :) We got it from Spring Street Grocer in Melbourne CBD, and spent a good 15 minutes chatting to the cheese man (cheese monger?) about all his wares. He let us try lots and I felt elated. It’s the only way to describe it. Content, joyful, elated just to eat wonderful cheese and be taught all about it. I totally understand how Alex James ended up where he is. Perhaps cheese making is my future too.

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Enough cheese? One more.

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The week in food (2)

So I’m still slugging it at the gym and liking it too. I was eating pretty well for a week or two and I’m still trying but I can longer resist birthday cake at work or the odd slab of chocolate. Here are some pictures of the last week at the dinner table…

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As promised I cooked up a chicken liver storm. The top picture is a very easy curry with tikka paste, yoghurt, onion and something tomatoey, plus a load of chicken livers. A few days later I made a rather chunky chicken liver pâté with thyme and shallots, as a household we wolfed it down with butter and crackers.

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I’ve been eating fruity, fresh breakfasts like this peach and passion fruit goodness!

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I think this easy roasted cauliflower was for the chicken liver curry instead of rice. Good it was too. Big florets dusted in turmeric and salt and olive oil, roasted for 30 minutes, with a shake about half way through. It’s so good! Even better with beer in the Autumn.

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More breakfast, strawberries and chia seeds (hello Aussie food trend bandwagon!) after the gym.

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Oh, this must have been an off track day! I think I watched season 2 of The Killing, the Danish TV show, and ate pancakes that night.

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Chicken hearts, red peppers, red onions and teriyaki sauce. If you have never eaten chicken hearts, just do it! They are so cheap and are best with generous levels of salt, fried up or grilled. They’re not strongly flavored of textured, just delicious and under appreciated.

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A quick dinner for Oliver when he came home after a very long day. I’m a catch. I had a Hungry Jack’s for dinner on the tram home. Funny no picture of that :)

As for recipes… I tend to find things I like and get to know them. The chicken liver curry and roasted cauliflower were both from a Leon cookbook that Oliver got me one year. It had lots of store cupboard recipes, very handy. The pâté was a Jamie Oliver recipe but I couldn’t find the original online, I’m sure it was from a Christmas magazine. Oliver and I hold Jamie’s Christmas magazines so dear! They’ve fueled our past few and we intend to make them tradition. Anyway, the pâté is chopped, not blended, I remember this.

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