Get shit done; May 2016

May started to feel cold, so we cooked a lot and prepared for our holiday to Bali, half way through the month. I’ll post separately about that holiday, because I took a lot of pictures!

Oliver cooked up some delicious Indian curry a we fried a stack of poppadoms. The best ever.

We had dinner at a friend’s house one Friday night and she cooked incredibly hearty, Italian fare in her effortlessly cool house. Bare bricks, big open spaces and precisely selected furniture. We listened to Paul Simon through the back door.

My cousin is moving from Brisbane to Melbourne in August and he came down to suss out the suburbs for a weekend. We had brunch in Fitzroy and Oliver and I tried to sell the North to him. Can’t wait to have some family around full time.

This colourful dish was a nice change from the grey exterior.

On the other hand… pork chops and baked apples, sage and roasted beetroot screams Autumn and Winter. We made this two days in a row and I didn’t feel hungry for days.

We celebrated our friend Adam’s birthday at a bar in town and ate huge gyros at a Greek place afterwards.

Get shit done; April 2016

We visited the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) for the first time in around 2 years and were struck by this bicycle structure in the main hall. You could walk through and under it.

I began running on a regular basis. I became a person that enjoys going outside in the morning to run. I’d catch sights like these hot air balloons and the misty potential murder scene below that. I even got some new runners to celebrate my transition from somebody who DOES NOT RUN to someone who doesn’t mind it.

Some wild mushrooms suddenly popped up all over our garden. No sooner were they there, they were melting…

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival came to town for the third time since we’ve lived here, so I finally went to a show with these ladies. The show was funny, not too funny, but oddly in a tiny room. I guess there are so many acts that you get to see people in small spaces for a few dollars. I’ll definitely make a point to go again next year.

I took an after work wander around the city one night whilst listening to a few podcasts. I found a few streets near the university I’d never seen before. Pretty high on my list of favourite things is discovering streets I’ve never seen in the place I live. Melbourne is much bigger than Manchester but Melbourne’s city proper isn’t huge and because of the grid layout it’s difficult to find yourself lost down a street you don’t recognise. In Manchester I could walk for twenty minutes and have trouble figuring out where I am, less so here. That makes these detours even more special.

I had an afternoon tea for a friend’s birthday. I used to enjoy these a lot in Manchester, with Katie and Jill, there were so many places with casual afternoon tea menus. I’ve seen far less here so this was special. The cakes were delicious but I think the English make a better finger sandwich. The most mundane thing I’ve ever uttered?

Wintery, weekend breakfasts crept in and this was most delicious. Smoked kippers, fried, and eaten on buttered toast. This tastes like seasons and England and made me think of my Granddad’s breakfasts. I always remember him for the delicious, hearty meals he would make first thing. My favourite was the huge bowl filled with a variety of cereals (think a shredded wheat biscuit, cornflakes and bran flakes sharing the space, looking like a pie chart) and topped with milk and then double cream and sugar. Nobody reacts favourably to this anecdote. I’ve since recreated the cream and sugar on top of my Shredded Wheat and it is something special. I think he’d be a fan of this too…

Me and my favourite person went for a long Sunday walk along the Western coast of Port Phillip Bay. The day was crisp but the sun was warm and the water was so clear. We walked about 10km or so from Altona to Williamsburg. I love a long weekend walk and I think he joins me just to make me happy.

Get shit done; March 2016

March is long gone! I am so on the ball with this. I think I got Oliver a surprise Autumn gift, a Nigel Slater Kitchen Diaries cookbook. I definitely already posted this. Maybe that was February? We cooked up some later summer, early autumn dishes like lamb chops with avocado and coriander and, further below, a bucket of veg for baked eggs and tomatoes. Below that, what must be the best bread in this city, a sourdough from Faraday’s Cage. It’s my favourite bread ever. I’ll just say it. And butter and black coffee and a cookbook for a weekend breakfast. That’s a joyful combo.

This month seems to be less groundbreaking than January and February… I took some city walks?

Ah okay, here’s the good stuff. Oliver and I visited the Dandenong Ranges and walked the 1000 steps on Saturday morning. It’s a tough but short set of steps, completed in about 12 minutes or so, but it certainly gets your heart racing. We took an hour long train out, walked for a good few hours, racked up 21km and took the train back, exhausted. I remember we picked up some fancy drawers from a neighbour who was shifting them. Then perhaps we had a glass wine and some hearty dinner. A good day.

Then we visited Sydney, on the same trip where we walked from Coogee to Bondi, to see our friends and enjoy Sydney in the autumn. Our friends have an incredible rooftoop terrace with this beautiful view of the city. We watched the sun go down and caught up on gossip. Then we walked, and we ate. We ate and ate and ate, played some board games, laughed.

Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach walk

I say this often, but it doesn’t diminish the fact, that every time I step away from the city and into a piece of Australia’s countryside, a forest or a beach or a quiet town, I am blown away. There is so much to be seen outside of Melbourne and Sydney and so easily. An hour on a train or a morning car ride will land you in picture perfect places.

When we visited Sydney this Easter weekend our friends Jill, Liam and Hotch took us on a beautiful 6km walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach. We’ve spent the day on Bondi Beach before but I didn’t realise there was beach after beach along the coastline, each as beautiful as the next. It’s a busy route filled with the classic Sydney active wear crowd, making us all feel bad about ourselves, and tourists and families and photographers. We spent the day enjoying the sunshine, having the odd swim and taking in the scenery.



This building is flirting with me.

In the often architectural wasteland of Australia’s major cities (that’s a largely unjustified statement that I may come to regret) it was very pleasing to be up close with the structural equivalent of the cool, interesting man in the room. The room being Sydney. This building caught my eye on my two previous visits to Sydney and this time, thanks to my good friend Jill who knows me well, we got to go inside!

It was Easter Sunday and most of the units were closed so we wandered up inside and out and bought some doughnuts. Green meets dream, below.


Get shit done; February 2016

This tiny platform of the Rooftop Bar on Swanston Street might offer one of the best Melbourne views I’ve seen. So perfectly framed, interesting building on top of interesting building, light and shadows. I’ve become really fond of the Melbourne city skyline; contrary to a year ago when I told Toby it was kind of ugly. I like its diversity mostly; the contrast of old and new and typical and atypical whichever way you look. It makes for lovely pictures.

Visiting the Rooftop bar wasn’t on the get shit done list, but documenting views like this are. We came here before we saw Beach House play in the city, a surprise ticketed treat from Oliver; very pretty pictures below.

The band was so good. They’re long time favourites of ours and they sounded fantastic, the lighting was beautiful.

We saw Beach House for the second time in a week at Laneway Festival, along with Diiv and Churches and some others. This was also a surprise ticketed treat, but I knew about this one for a while. It was a beautiful sunny day, we bumped into friends and enjoyed sitting on the grass all evening like the 28 and 30 year olds we are.

This may also be on the list of best views. It ticks major boxes… city skyline, train lines. 

On our to do list for a while was a trip to the Mornington Peninsula. This reminds me of a post from a year ago (or so) which listed things I wanted to do in Melbourne. I’ll seek it out and update it… I have a feeling I may not have crossed much off that list but hopefully it’s evolved into something more crossable.

We rented a car and drove down to the Peninsula, passing Mount Martha, Rye, Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Portsea, maybe not in that order. We stopped and had a dip in Rye, we had a walk to a paradise looking beach in the National Park and we visited some very beautiful rock pools at the back of Blairgowrie. Oliver had pulled a muscle in his back, so he was a trooper for even getting out of bed, let alone driving us all that way and walking around with me. He couldn’t swim in the rock pools, so I guess that’s a reason for another visit.

There were some very brave souls jumping from rocks into the pools. Not I. I took a leisurely dip from ground level.

Oliver’s third tickets surprise of the month was Sufjan Stevens. Another great show. I’ll freely admit my favourite album is his Christmas Album, but I knew far more of the music than I expected to. There was an awesome light show that felt like meditation, or something. And Hamer Hall is such a treat to be in again. We saw Amy Schumer here the first time, and it was really nice to watch a band here too. It’s a clear distinction of age; sitting watching a band in Hamer Hall, drinking a glass of wine. Woah. Times have changed.

These may be the worst pictures you’ve seen of a gig. Apologies.

I took a mini trip with Maree to the State Library. It was just a way to pass the time before a movie, but it was such a treat. It’s a beautiful old building that made me nostalgic for the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and days when I would write essays in the Manchester Metropolitan University library till late. Made me wish I had a 3000 word essay and a stack of books to pore over. If only my 22 year old self could imagine that.

The year so far, in food…

A selection of cooked and bought, delicious meals that I’d like to keep track of. As a belated Valentine’s gift I bought Oliver a ridiculous Nigel Slater tome that we are already in love with. It’s an indulgent half diary, half cookbook stepping gradually through the seasons. I feel guilty to say that I am craving Autumn and Winter, for a chill in the air and big warm layers. In the UK I wasted so much time longing for sunshine and long days, pretty ironic.

Hopefully to come will be far more elegant home cooked meals, but for now…

 Homemade French Toast, peaches and sausage… half kind of adapted from the Guardian’s ‘how to make the perfect’ series here.
 Oliver made plum cobbler on a Monday evening in the middle of summer. I told you we are craving the cold.

 I made this Rick Stein fish madras but it wasn’t oily or salty enough for me. I suppose that speaks volumes about my takeaway curry habits in England.

 This was such a winner! Delicious first time attempt at chicken cacciatore, thanks to Oliver. I was so impressed at how tasty this was.

 Aubergine and prawn thai green curry with noodles.
 … and we ate the curry with a huge platter of grilled prawns!

 We finally went to one of the dozens of Japanese restaurants on Smith Street to find that it was precisely as expected… minimal, delicious and expensive.
 Another cookbook was added to our small collection; The Kinfolk Table. My Mum bought it for me when I was in England, and I carried it back to Melbourne all delicately wrapped in brown paper. I love cookbooks. We’ve made this cabbage salad a couple of times, very tasty.

 I came across this tikka masala soup at The Modern Proper and it sounded like the perfect way to get my curry fix without telling Oliver, yet again; “we’re having curry”.  It was pretty delicious, I’ll admit. We added roasted sweet potato and yoghurt and ate it with sub par naan bread.