Joining the rest of the world…

I bought an iPhone. It’s pretty much the best thing I ever did (okay, bought) and I can already feel my ability to resist technology slipping away. I can take pictures whenever I like without lugging my big camera around and check my online banking, read gossip, measure my sleep and my steps each day. Catching up with the rest of the world is pretty nice.

Here are some pictures from this week so far. 

From my early morning journey to the gym… 

   

   
From a nerdy evening of Dungeons and Dragons (I’m just an observer in Oliver’s social gathering, I swear)…

  

From the always satisfying $14 steak night at the Rainbow Hotel in Fitzroy…

  
Pictures of pictures in our bedroom…

   
 
  

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Healesville/Coldstream/Yarra Valley

Back in January & February of this year when my parents came to visit, we took a day trip to the Yarra Valley to see vineyards and taste wine. None of us know much about wine but it’s undeniably enjoyable to try glass after glass and pretend that you do. I got some lovely picture of my parents together, though a few are ruined by the ever present cigarette. Oh well, it’s true to life.


We visited the Domaine Chandon winery, where they offer a free self guided tour of their warehouse. You can read about the grapes, the processing, bottling and understand a lot of what you observe about wine but never really understood. It’s great for a newbie!

      

They offer a great deal in their restaurant area; a taste of six of their bottles for $5. Incredible value. We shared two of these tasters between the three of us and it was plenty. The sommelier gave us a bit of background on the different conditions required for each wine. I think we tried a sparkling Shiraz, which I’ve never tried before but was delicious, a couple of champagnes and sparkling white among others.

           

We also visited the Dominique Porter winery where they generously allowed us to try nearly all of their wines. I settled on a fancy Chardonnay that my parents bought me as a gift and I’ve only just tucked into it, last weekend in fact. I was worried that my tastebuds were less than sharp when I picked it out, because I was a little tipsy and everything tasted good at that point. Happily though, it was very good.

We sat outside at Dominique Portet and the sun made it’s first appearance of the day. I was so pleased, because my parents are sun worshippers and the Melbourne summer wasn’t working too hard for us. But when it appears, the sun is intense and incredible in the Yarra Valley. We ate some cheese and fussed a dog who sat with us and took some lovely pictures of my parents that will dominate birthday cards and gifts for years to come.

  
 

Afterwards, we stopped by the White Rabbit Brewery in Healsville to fill up the Growler that Oliver bought last time we were there. I’ve just looked the Brewery up and found that it’s sadly now closed! They’re moving to Geelong, which is makes it’s trickier to refill that beer bottle, but I’m sure we’ll manage. We then drove along the Black Spur Drive to Narbethong. It’s a 30 minute drive through an incredible stretch of Mountain Ash trees. We headed back to Melbourne through a C road that turned into dirt track on a couple of occasions. Every time I delve into the Victorian countryside I am overwhelmed. There is so much beautiful landscape to see here, I feel very lucky to be among it all.

           

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Weekend Walk

We just returned from a really nice walk in Yarra Bend Park, actually a national park, along the banks of the Yarra River. We walked for about 3 or so hours and took in 11km. We’ve signed up to do a crazy 35km walk in September, from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne to Brighton Beach, called the Bloody Long Walk. We’ll need to get in some practice before then so I’d like to make it a regular occurrence.

We grabbed a coffee on the way and stopped for a little bite at Lentil As Anything, which is a not for profit, veggie food place. You pay what you can for your food, with no set prices. It’s a really nice idea. We visited the St Kilda branch last year in May, when we were staying in a hostel and had very little money. The St Kilda branch wasn’t too impressive, but the Abbotsford Convent branch was delicious and very busy. No pictures, but a map of our route..

walk 28.6

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

Looking through these pictures is such a treat. This trip was now 17 months ago. That astounds me! Time has flown and we have been in Australia for over 15 months. I’d love to return to South America and Bolivia especially to see even more.

This part of our Salt Flats trip was my favourite. We saw so much, but this savanna landscape was the most lush and beautiful. There were intensely green mosses and grasses that drew donkeys and alpacas as well as huge dark lakes. The sun was shining and I could have stayed all day. It was like discovering the Garden of Eden in the midst of deserts and rocks.

  

I had to capture this picture below as proof that James Blunt terrorises all over.

       

    

Our driver Moses has one of the best jobs in the world.

    

Our guide, Carla, enjoying the serenity of this place.

        

These boys! We were a great team for these few weeks together!

               
    

After I fell for that beautiful, lush landscape it was time for some fear. We walked out onto a rocky peninsula which overlooked a canyon. I wandered out and soon realised the sheer drop that sat metres from us on either side. I had to sit down in the middle and be comforted by Dermot whilst Darren and Oliver and Carla bravely traversed the outskirts. They were fearless. All I could picture was a slip or trip and a missing team member. Yet another example of me catching the fear in South America. What a wuss.

     

Carla told us to look through the sand for sparkles. We found little gems, like diamonds, all through the sand. Far more interesting that risking my life on peninsulas!

    

I like this picture below because it sums up my Salt Flats Tour wardrobe. Leggings, vest, cardigans and ridiculous socks I bought from a market in Tupiza. I swear I couldn’t find any that weren’t crazily patterned, certainly for children.

      

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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    First few weeks in our new house…

 We’ve really settled in to our new house, and feeling comfortable and happy in this space. We’ve become very good at making meatballs as a team; Oliver makes the meatballs, I make the sauce and together we figure out the spaghetti and wine…. It usually ends quite well.  

This is our lovely cosy room. It was icy cold for a few weeks, we could see breath hanging in the air, but a heater and an electric blanket later we feel older and more British than ever. But spectacularly comfortable.  

Our friends came over for dinner and Settlers of Catan and a lack of seating. Very understanding they are.   

Actually, we didn’t even get around to Catan that night, but Oliver, Toby and I have made time.  

     

Keeping in touch with Alan, the only way we know how, with silly pictures…  

Just like in Manchester I have favourite mugs. We got them in a charity shot and they symbolise Saturdays and coffee and this new house.  

A really good dinner, thanks Toby. Spicy chicken wings and blue cheese sauce. This was the shameful result, along with that familiar feeling of “what I am doing with myself?” 

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Things to Remember

Today we woke up a little hungover to the sound of a house auction happening next door. I’d never seen one before, in England things are always more subdued. There was a huge crowd of people, a slick auctioneer and a house that sold for $1.2 million. What the fuck. It’s time to realise that renting will see me in the best houses I’ll ever live in. When I actually buy a house I think I’ll have to accept a significant step down in living standards. $1.2 million!

Then we went to leave and found this little creep on our doorstep…   


Ugh. Turns out it’s a Saunders’ Case Moth, in caterpillar stage. 

We had a tasty brunch at Breakfast Thieves, of morcilla and polenta, very fancy. I finished sanding the top of a coffee table we’ve been working on. Now I’m lazing around contemplating dinner.   

Last night we had work drinks, our first in Hawthorn at the new office. I shared a cab home with Tim, Pierce and Oliver who were all smashed and uncontrollable. It was hilarious and ridiculous.  

Last week I made this tasty dinner, and I may be leaning towards it right now!  

Tomorrow holds nothing of significance! I really enjoy doing not too much with my weekends. I’ve committed to a Diploma of Business through my work, so I have some of that stuff to do. Otherwise just hanging out with this handsome one…

    

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Moving house, fresh start

Our empty, beautiful house is now filled with second hand furniture and refurbished white goods. Here’s how it was…

  
         

The timing of this move has been potentially awkward. We had to leave our old house, Oliver, Toby and I, because we found out some unsavoury things about the ratio of rent we paid to what our then housemates paid. I guess it happens all over the place, but it still doesn’t sit well and we all felt it was time for something a little nicer and a little more ours.

It feels like we got very lucky with this place, a beautiful old one storey place in Fitzroy. It can’t negate that we have recently put forward our application for a long term visa to the Australian government and we’re waiting, anxiously, to hear about it. If it so happens that were not granted this visa we’ll have to make quick preparations for moving along, getting rid of our growing collection of belongings, saying goodbye to people and places and leaving the country.

It’s miserable to think about it. Because we have become really fond of Melbourne, and Australia and all the people that call it home. We have made a plan B in case that happens but we hope it won’t. It’s a strange time to move house. If our visa is granted we can splash out on … A bed frame! Brilliant.

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