Quick pictures of my day…

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Melbourne was very beautiful today. I’m so glad I took my camera on this huge wander around with Oliver & Toby. I’ll share the rest soon.

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Back garden makeover!

About a month ago Toby had an inkling that he was a gardener, underneath being an astrophysicist. And I am an established gardener, albeit an established gardener of metre squared patches of soil in Chorlton. Along with Oliver we decided it was time to tackle our overgrown mess of a back garden. There was a huge fancy looking barbecue hidden under weeds and a child’s paddling pool inexplicably thrown over some climbing plant.

Here are some pictures of our untamed wilderness… Before & After!

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So now it’s a lovely place to be! We have herbs growing (rosemary, parsley, mint and oregano) as well as some sad looking lettuces. There is a genuine compost heap in the corner, that was hidden under weeds and overgrown trees. That was the purpose of the child’s pool, to cover the compost heap!

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It’s a bit bare for now but soon everything should grow and fill in the spaces. Oliver already went crazy on the front garden so we’ll have a perfectly preened outside space and somewhere lovely to cook at the weekend and drink coffee in the morning.

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A very good Saturday…

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Any day that begins with that cheese has to be a good one. And it was surprise cheese. As in Toby’s making breakfast and says “help yourself to bread and cheese”. Ugh, the best.

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You may have noticed that this Saturday morning is taking place outside, because we’re just soooo comfortable in our lovely garden now. Toby’s grilling steak on the barbecue for breakfast… how will we ever fit in in England again?

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This is Carlton Gardens next to Melbourne’s Exhibition Centre. I think that’s where documents were signed a long time ago to say “this is Australia, and Melbourne is the capital”. I certainly need a history lesson but I think that’s the gist of it. For the record, I know that Canberra is the capital, but I’m sure it was once Melbourne. I’ll get back to you.
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It was 27 degrees on Saturday and I know that I’m British because it gets me everytime. “It’s so sunny today, isn’t it so nice?”. Can I really say that every other day for the next 5 months?
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We had a drink on the roof bar of a place just behind where we live. It’s a distinctly Fitzroy view from the terrace. Not especially beautiful but interesting, lots of metal roofing and construction. My kind of view anyway.

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

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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.

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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