Friends, Food and Family

IMG_7369

A whole week of planning with the kids as my third teaching period for University commenced. To start the week off, I said to the kid’s let’s visit my friend who manages a book store to stock up on your fave author David Walliams. The USA does not get his book releases as much as Australia. So we did that and went to the cinema on cheapo Monday at the Nova to see Chicken People. We loved it as we are all a bunch of chicken lovers and enjoyed the quirkiness of the chicken obsessed at a chicken show in Ohio and Nashville!

I had to balance some study time in with catching up with friends and their kids for the school holidays. There is nothing like art time and then playtime for the kids and wine by the Yarra River.

I started two units, so I had to devote some time to carving into the work for this week, so I spent a morning in and took the kids shopping in the city and on the way back we found a park to play in complete with a flying fox.

The big day last week was quite random as I wanted to check out the National Trust House property of the Rippon Lea Estate as it is Aunt Prudence’s house from the Ms Fishers Murder Mysteries series that I love so much! The bonus of visiting Rippon Lea Estate is there was a fashion exhibit Night Life focusing on clothing on the 1920s-30s!!

Oh my,  I had such a fun time with my friend checking out the clothing and accessories worn around Melbourne in the high times of partying and living it up in this fabulous city. I loved this era in fashion especially with the bias cut dresses and the beaded dress silhouette including the accessories!

IMG_7563

On our way back to the train station I found this very famous restaurant Attica in the streets of Ripponlea. I had only seen this on a show on Netflix and wondered where it was in Melbourne – the chef is very innovative and forages for a lot of bush food in the dishes and had me glued to the television when I watched it, and it did make me yearn to come back home.

IMG_7564

Oh and the dramas of public transport – we made it to North Melbourne, and one of the kids wanted to get off the train to go to the toilet, so we did with only two stops to our destination. Next train disappeared off the schedule, and the next thing over the loud speaker was we have problems with the train this evening we do not know when they will be running again, now this was 4 pm on a Thursday night – peak hour rush just on the horizon. So what happens next was this disjointed plan to get back to our place via the tram with everyone else leaving the city sardine packed into them as they travelled by. It was a difficult choice to make especially with having the kids with me, so we just walked to the 57 tram near the Victoria market and waited… and waited… it was two and a half hours later, and we were finally home. My phone was dead we got back to the house and plugged in to see what was happening with my dinner plans. So, of course, everyone else was in the same situation, so we just stayed in had a bitch session about how crap it was and had some pizza and wine and catch up such a way to end a Thirsty Thursday!

FriYay and I spent most of the day studying except for lunchtime when I met a friend for lunch in the city, and we went out to Lygon Street for dinner in the evening with my sister in law, her hubby and the cousins. The kids had already had fun though exhausting time with their cousins playing all day, so we had pizza and gelato and headed on home.

Another friend catch up on Saturday with a very old friend of mine from way back when and we went out for Laksa to a favourite haunt of ours from back in the day, the Laksa King and it still tastes amazing! After lunch, we wandered around the hood to check out the million dollar houses and matching fancy cars.

IMG_7600IMG_7603IMG_7605

It was back to school for the kiddos this week in Melbourne, so we had our goodbyes to the cousins and the animals at their house. The menagerie of cats, chickens and dogs was enjoyed by everyone. I will miss my friends and family, but I know I will be returning real soon and knowing this does not make leaving Australia to feel all that bad.

Bye Bye Bella

IMG_8427

I figured I might write this while I am at the airport waiting for my flight to Australia. I will be arriving on Wednesday in Australia and will be losing Tuesday up in the sky, so better now than never! We met our amazing house sitters today who will be taking care of our baby girl Bella while we travel down under, it was so good to share local knowledge so they can enjoy their travels in the Bay Area.

IMG_8431 (1)

The holidays started and we are all relaxed all ready to go home to Australia for a while – I am so looking forward to seeing everyone and eating some yummy food with family and friends. This week my son had a broadcasting camp which he loved and created some very cool YouTube videos. I was at home with Missy making all sorts of things from homemade chocolate, sewing a skirt and making felt cat toys in between packing and making our house look neat and presentable for our house sitters.

We have 30 minutes to board so; literally, I gotta Fly!

Welcome to the Geodome

IMG_2598

Experiences are what life is about for us as a family and finding places to stay where we can relax and unwind from the daily grind is something we aspire to. To celebrate another April birthday, I wanted the experience of staying in a geodome for the weekend. We found this beautiful geodome out in the Santa Cruz mountains complete with banana slugs and a rushing creek right by – this all appealed to our back to the earth lifestyle, so I booked it pretty much after we had spent a weekend in the caravan in the redwoods the month before.

IMG_2596

This space was incredible and so peaceful to sleep in – the owners of this geodome found it on Craigslist. They purchased it from a family who were living in it in Watsonville, who had they had their 2nd baby in the dome 😀 Previously the geodome was living in a commune in Sonoma, what a life and experience this space has had!

The kids really enjoyed jumping around in the creek – note to self, take the water shoes for everyone whenever there is water as no doubt they will get their shoes wet! And looking underneath the redwoods, we found a few banana slugs.

IMG_2644

The geodome had a guidebook on what to check out in the area, and we decided we wanted to go for a hike taken care of by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz – called Byrne-Milliron Forest. This hike was highly recommended in the guidebook and only 30 minutes away down the hill near a town called Corralitos.

It was a hard ask for one of our little hikers who does not like going uphill but when you go uphill there is always nice views to be had. We found a plaque at the AJ’s Point of View dedicated to a steward of the forest, who had looked after this forest for 27 years – such dedication and I truly understand what he meant by magical. The hike was just over 3 miles to a white redwood tree – it was uphill for a while, and then we found the view!

IMG_2625IMG_2628IMG_2629IMG_2632IMG_2633

When we reached a place on the map called AJs Point of View it was filled with art created by locals artists using nature and a mailbox full of books and journals (where you could write an entry) donated by Jeff Helmer, the forest caretaker. The added bonus was water where you really needed a refill after the uphill in the sunshine on a warm spring day.

IMG_2628IMG_2646

We got in touch with our wild side when travelling from the AJs Point of View as the trail narrowed and crossed a creek. We had to use a rope to jump across to the foot trail surrounded by wildflowers and sorrel, this is where the magic happens.

In the sunlight, these little blue flowers were lit up like little fireflies in amongst the green. To walk on this narrow trail led to the white redwood where the trail ended. The trail went up and down, and at points, it was steep and hard on the knees and legs!

And eventually, we took the trail up from where the kids were done up to the white redwood to this chair that read ‘For the Glory Not the Gold’. This is what being in nature is about to me feeling it within and in communion with the natural embrace of the green of the trees.

IMG_2672IMG_2673IMG_2677

Here are some of the trees of this 2nd growth redwood forest, there were many trees like the 600-year-old white redwood that were taken from here, but over time their little tree family had grown around them. Ash is sitting there by a burnt redwood not wanting to go any further – a lot of these trees we had missed going on the track to the white redwood as we had to watch where our feet when we were walking.

IMG_2675

 

IMG_2671
Check out my acorn cap!

 

What an incredible discovery weekend for all of us all the while mourning the loss of our beloved cat Mack. We had a fire for him by the geodome and enjoyed some peace contemplating the good times we had together.

The geodome had a journal for all the guests to share their thoughts and illustrations of their time. The kids shared the two at the top, and the illustration below was my favourite by a very talented artist.

Even where we parked the car was a geodome for the kids to play on – Ash with his new friend the bird we found at a church charity sale where everything was free!

On Sunday we went to Sunset State Beach for a bit of beach time – living by the beach most of my life I feel very much at home when we visit, and it was so good to walk in the ice cold water checking out the sand dollars.

We honoured our furry friend at the beach by saying goodbye in the waves and remembering our love for him.

IMG_7676

It is with so much gratitude that I enjoyed this weekend and am celebrating my birthday writing this today for all the wonderful experiences we have together as a family. Soon we will be homeward bound in Australia where we can start some new adventures. My love is with you for all eternity and beyond, Namaste x

 

 

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Finally the time has come to say goodbye to our home of Australia! Over our time here we have enjoyed catching up with our family and friends in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. We have made some new discoveries at places and eaten some incredible food. The time we have spent with our family and friends has been so special for all of us. It has been 8 weeks of travelling and being away from our two furbabies so it will be good to be back to our cats. Hopefully they will be happy to see us too!

The suburb where we have our house in Australia is full of multi cultural magic with Italian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Asian, Caucasian and more living together happily. This is what I enjoy about Melbourne overall with this incredible melting pot of cultures and I just love the food. Whatever takes your fancy you will be able to find it here. I have eaten so well here without having to worry about the ingredients and the vegetarian options are so creative. No plain ol’ vege burgers on these menus.

IMG_5176IMG_5177IMG_5179

As a final goodbye to my good friends here in Melbourne whom I have met through work, DJs and through classes we went out to happy hour at The Moat and enjoyed civilised cups of mulled wine. As we are all mamas to little kiddos it was an early night so we all enjoyed dinner at a Japanese restaurant where my hubby and I had our first date at Izakaya Chuji. I mentioned that we have to try the deep fried eggplant with miso so we enjoyed two servings between the 4 of us and a plate of nigiri. Such a wonderful night with my beautiful friends, hope to see you all again soon.

The second last catchup with friends in East St Kilda at Lava in Balaclava where they have some yummy juices and Missy enjoyed some pancakes. We wandered to our friends house afterwards to see their cats and their house renovations. Soon they left to visit their relatives and we had a mission out to St Kilda to check out Veg Out the community garden and of course, some chickens!

As we were tourists in our own city we checked out Luna Park! So many rides but the one we really wanted to check out as a family was the Scenic Railway the old style rollercoaster that has been there since 1912 and restored in 1999.

IMG_5256

I could not resist this pic and had to buy it for our wall to remind the kids of the terrifying or exciting time they had on the first time on a rollercoaster! Missy was so scared and she wanted to get off – I just screamed this is just like travelling the streets of San Francisco!!

After our thrilling roller coaster ride we took it easy down the beach and found this stunning black swan from the pier. The kids were hungry for afternoon tea and thank goodness the Acland Street Cake shop is still around. Missy enjoyed this gigantic meringue with hundred and thousands as a sweet treat.

IMG_5263IMG_5264

On our way to our final brunch and farewell to our family we wandered by lots of graffiti on the walls Ash and I both appreciate the street art so we were checking out some favorites for some pics. I wanted to take a pic with the Krish tag and made a T with my body instead of the K.

Our final brunch was with my sister in law and her family at this lovely vegetarian Italian restaurant just a walk away in Coburg called Little Deer Tracks. The food was so comforting and the breads homemade and so tasty with a sourdough starter that is 8 years old. My breakfast was the Dukkah Poached Eggs with feta, mushrooms, smashed avocado and marinated capsicum with chili oil, amazing! I could not get enough of the sourdough bread the kids did not want so I ate that too, it was a spelt sourdough and a tad lighter than whole wheat with such an earthy flavour.

IMG_5266IMG_5267IMG_5269

We had to finally get a picture of the cousins together so here they are in front of a mural by the cafe! Gotta catch ’em all!!

Goodbye Australia, until we meet again…

The Love Cats

IMG_5081

New discoveries abound when you are a tourist in your own home country. As we were investigating places to walk and play we found the Coburg Lake, an easy 30-minute walk from where we are staying. We wandered through the new developments of Pentridge Prison where new apartments are popping up within the old wallls of the jail – there are some good views to be had for the apartments up high. Walking past the prison walls and out we finally found the lake and a super cool playground with this really comfortable swing and very high slide, that you just had to climb!

To get to the top of the slide you are climbing and climbing until finally, you reach the hole where you hop in and go down really, really fast due to the great curve in the slide. So much fun to be had! Of course, when we lived here we had no interest in playgrounds, slides, and roundabouts. As we walked over the bridge up the stairs we found many sculptures including this selection of yarn balls – I think they were designed to be rope balls found on a wharf.

Midweek I had organised a playdate with my fellow vegetarian food-loving friend and her daughter. We had such an amazing lunch at Monk Bodhi  Dharma. The hardest thing for me when we go to these establishments is what do I choose as I can eat absolutely anything on the menu!! I opted for the Umami Mushrooms which was a bowl full of Roasted King Oyster, Shitake, Oyster and Swiss Brown Mushrooms on a house-made polenta pumpkin bread – for a mushroom fan, it was heaven! The kids were, of course, were a bit perplexed by the menu so I said just eat the buckwheat apple pancakes with ice cream and apple chips – they did protest, but wolfed them down in seconds. The chai was the best chai I have drunk in a very long time, spices roasted in-house and made with soy milk it was to be savored to the last drop. I can eat so well when I live in this beautiful city of Melbourne, this time, the weather isn’t bothering me so much as I love this city, even its seasons!

IMG_9279IMG_9300IMG_9312

It was a rainy day and we had a mission to go down to St Kilda Readings to pick up another book of the kid’s new favorite author David Walliams, sometimes you cannot find these books in the USA. Of course, I can buy it on the internet but it is way better to support a local independent bookstore! We braved the showers and got totally wet at the St Kilda City Gardens and the kids enjoyed the climbing and play structures. To keep ourselves dry we found the greenhouse and off we went with to play ball.

Down an alleyway for our next adventure to the Cat Cafe we found lots of street art and graffiti. Ash was a bit confused about the fine line between art and graffiti – I had to explain to him that artists are sometimes commissioned for the works or the City of Melbourne enjoys the alley art and it is used in photography shoots, tourism and the like. In the ‘What Good Shall I do this Day?’ the plaque I showed it to my son and he gave me a big hug!

IMG_9338

These alleyway posters are something different and maybe considered messy but as a graphic designer, I appreciated how all this works together especially the facebook and Instagram logos.

The cat cafe was such a relaxing experience. We each paid $12 per hour to spend time with the cats, 16 cats in total. As it is coming to the end of our holiday I am really missing our 2 cats and cannot wait to see them. In the interim, this was such an enjoyable experience patting these cuties gently and playing with the younger kittens. These cats are all living together in this warehouse style space built with a see through ladder for them to climb and see the world from up on high. The kids were in kittie heaven playing with the kittens and cats. It is just the perfect space for the cats with lots of places to jump on, sleep on, plenty of cat trees and places to hide if they don’t want any attention. These cats were so sociable and lovable we did not want to leave. Unlike the cat cafes in the USA where the cats are up for adoption, these cats live down an alleyway in a luxurious Melbourne warehouse apartment.

IMG_9441IMG_9443IMG_9442

While we were in the city we met Graham at the State Library Gallery. Project Graham showed us what we might look like if we were built to survive on our roads. He’s a reminder of just how vulnerable our bodies really are when speed and impact forces as low as 30km/h are at play. The Australian Artist Patricia Piccinini designed Graham and her work is always so lifelike using latex and human hair. In conjunction with the sculpture, it had an Augmented Reality experience using Google Tango tablets for the first time in Australia. The kids really enjoyed the interaction with Graham learning about why he had hoof-like feet. Watching the video from the tablet they found out that this was so he could jump out of the way of a car and protect himself.

 

Groove is in the Heart

IMG_4956

The weekend started with a lunch at CERES (the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) in Brunswick East – a stones throw away from where we are staying. We have enjoyed visiting CERES since living on this side of town years ago and loved the fact that there is a native nursery, market, cafe, bike repair station, chooks and so much more, all environmentally focussed. The kids enjoyed playing at the adventure playground and we joined in the fun as well! See how you can decorate your garden beds with used bike wheels.

This beautiful tree nest is created with sticks and bicycle wheels on top of a platform in the lower branches of the tree. We found a hole big enough to fit through and escaped the wind chill for a while before we had to slip back down. We met our friends who we met in the Valley many years ago who have now moved back home to Melbourne and reestablished their life here. It was so wonderful to catch up and hear how the transition went for them coming back and how everything gets back into a groove after a time.

On our way to CERES we came across this amazing vintage market called the Lost & Found Market and lucky for us we got to spend a fair amount of time here over the weekend to check out their racks of clothes and vintage wares. There was so much to check out – fortunately for me vintage sizes are generally small, otherwise I could be adding to my luggage! Lots and lots of fabric that I could have added to my luggage were up for grabs but I have bought so much fabric already so I just need the time to get sewing now! My uncle has a vintage market at his house which would be perfect in this space 🙂

Saturday night I caught up with a long lost friend who we haven’t seen since we got married 10 years ago. So much happens in ten years and the kids are a testament to that – it was great that her 4 kids enjoyed time with our kids too. We found chillis in the garden and the kids were eating them just for kicks, so we had to deal with some chilli burnt kiddos!

Sunday came around all too soon and we met my long time work friend from the publishing days for brunch. We met again at CERES at their cafe called The Merri Table with their excellent selection of organic, free range and cruelty free goodness I was so happy! So rather than a coffee I opted for the Golden Milk and what a treat that was with local honey to sweeten the spot. The base is turmeric and ginger to give it that beautiful golden glow.

On our walk back to the tram we saw this huge fluffball cat sitting atop a fence. Just one look at her and it was our cat Bellas Melbourne fluffy cousin. She was so soft and very happy to get some pats in the winter sunshine.

Monday we finally made it to the National Gallery of Victoria – friends of ours enjoyed a day off and hung out with us. At the entrance of the NGV is a waterfall wall and the kids went straight to it – oh it’s really wet they said!

Once we were inside the gallery has many a photo opportunity – the mirror art walk through sculpture piece was just the best for pics! Look above you in the great hall to see the stained glass. And we found this stunning video installation by Lisa Reihana: In Pursuit of Venus – excerpt from the NGV website:

“A live-action video that is inspired by the colonial nineteenth century panoramic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (1804–05), produced by entrepreneur Joseph Dufour in Neoclassical France. Les Sauvages draws upon journal accounts of Pacific voyages of exploration but Dufour and his team harvested information from different historical sources and relocated the bodies into a fictional Tahitian landscape, removing these Pacific Islanders from their cultural, historical and political reality and dressing them in Neoclassical attire. The Pacific performers unbind the shackles of colonialism by bringing forth visual poetics of Indigenous culture and knowledge and thereby recalibrate colonial history from their own standpoints.”

The kids had a blast at the Fake Food Park by Catalan food designer Martí Guixé has created a vibrant environment in which children are inspired to think creatively about common foods via drawing challenges on the computer and hands-on activities using food shapes in a kitchen.

Of course, no visit to the city of Melbourne is complete without an excellent cup of coffee from Dukes Coffee Roasters after our felafel lunch from ENA Greek Street Food at Southbank. The kids were wanting some dessert so we opted for Nitro Lab for some ice cream created with liquid nitrogen and taking it one step further with some crazy concotions pulling apart a Golden Gaytime and reassembling it with salted caramel and chocolate chips, taking a mango sorbet and adding some jelly lychee flavours and the milo surprise with m&ms, condensed milk and milo sprinkled atop whipped cream. These guys really take it to the next level with these combos!!

IMG_5090

Lucky my friend and I had a hidden agenda of a little bit of shoe shopping while we were in the city. The boys took the kids to the comic shop Matador while we escaped down Flinders Lane for a bit of a look see – my friend found a perfect pair of ankle boots and I found these lovely red boots by effegie Made in Portugal on sale, how could I resist 😉  I took them for a walk today to the local park and they were so comfortable! I love European design and it is so hard to find fun shoes back in Cali so it’s best to grab these bargains while I can, great justification for a second pair of new shoes! The first pair I purchased as I accidentally went into the Camper store when all their shoes were half price and an absolute steal, we all love an excellent shoe deal!

Quokka Whole Lotta Love​

IMG_8754

We made a trek across from Melbourne to Adelaide by Tigerair – I thought let’s fly like the locals on their cheapo airline which gave us a really good deal through lastminute.com.au. The flight was on time and we travelled in comfort for our 1-hour flight nice and early in the morning with a 5am start!

When we arrived it was time to chill out have a chat and a cuppa tea with my mum in law and her hubby and Tigger the dog. We went out to Sarah’s Sisters sustainable cafe for lunch and enjoyed some vegetarian delicacies. I enjoyed The Pastry with Mushroom, broccoli, and cheese in a lemon and herb sauce with a fresh salad on the side, which hit the spot on a cold and just about to rain day. After lunch, we checked out the SA Maritime Museum and saw this excellent exhibition of Naturalist Artwork The Art of Science: Baudin’s Voyagers 1800 to 1804. This is from the website:

Baudin’s ships, Géographe and Naturaliste embarked from Le Havre in October 1800 for the southern continent carrying an impressive contingent of scientists and scientific assistants.  Lavishly funded by Napoleon Bonaparte, the expedition’s agenda was the discovery and study of natural sciences, underpinned by the emergence of new ideas and philosophies of reason and the rights of man.

It brings a fabulous collection of the original paintings and drawings from the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre, France to South Australian audiences for the first time. 

The work was beautifully painted in watercolour to fine detail and to see the artists little paint box was such a treat. Certainly, there were some creatures documented in this exhibit in watercolour that looked 3D and realistic, they were such talented artists!

Tuesday we went to a cafe to visit our family members in Adelaide for morning tea by the sea. Unfortunately, the weather was super cold so beach time was slim. When the kids went out with Grandma they came back like ice blocks. In the afternoon I went with Jane (my mother in law) to drop off her ceramic pieces for a show opening – it is a huge show called SALA the South Australia Living Arts Festival. She made this beautiful Heron, a couple of bowls pictured is one with lizards and a little garden snail. With some luck, these will be sold, here’s to successful sales everyone!

On our way back home I toured her ceramics studio at Pottery on Fourth – it is such a beautiful space with a gallery space at the front. From the gallery, you can walk through the studio to the wedging, kiln, glaze room and to the side were the wheels with mirrors so you can see your form as you throw. For me, as a newbie had never seen mirrors in front of the wheel before. Jane has been a studio potter for over 35 years and her work is just amazing and has so much knowledge. It is not until you are exposed to an art form it is then you can really appreciate it for what it is. In the pics above, her friend and co-collaborator Danny created the blue pieces and the huge thrown pots fired with seaweed to get an organic feel to the glaze. The bottom piece is a teapot inspired by a stingray was a Turkish potter who belongs to the club. Such an inspiring place and it was so much fun going with Jane learning about how the pieces are glazed or made – thanks for the tour Jane!

IMG_4815

Where do we go with this chilly rainy weather says Missy?? Lucky there was a playground close by on the walk to Grandmas house!

On Wednesday we finally got a clear day without the rain and visited the Adelaide Zoo. The second oldest zoo in Australia (after Melbourne Zoo). The Adelaide Zoo has been opened since 1883 and one of their oldest animals at the zoo, the flamingo died in 2015 at the age of 83. Their only flamingo they have left is called Chilli who has hidden away in the heated room for the day as poor ol’ Chilli was very chilly and suffering from the cold this winter!

The zoo is a non-profit, focusing on endangered species and educating people about animals throughout the world. The zoo currently houses a couple of Giant Pandas, Wang Wang and Funi who were brought into the zoo when they were really small and are on loan from China for 10 years. These two have so far been unsuccessful in the breeding program as female pandas ovulate only once a year, in the spring. A short period of two to three days around ovulation is the only time she is able to conceive. The giant pandas’ naturally slow breeding rate prevents a population from recovering quickly from illegal hunting, habitat loss, and other human-related causes of mortality. We loved seeing these Giant Pandas in real life seeing how their size and habits we became aware that this is a species that we have to learn from, see ‘The Way of the Panda’ in the pic above.

From the Giant Panda exhibit, we went to the birds of Australasia, this exhibit was a massive enclosed cage to walk through and be with the birds in their habitat. When we went it we saw that there was an echidna in with the birds and we were so lucky that we found the echidna in action! We spent ages observing the birds and even the green parrot we checked out flew straight at us and we could feel the energy of his wings right above our head.

IMG_8958IMG_8971IMG_9007

The exhibits are beautifully designed with water and rocks for the gibbons with lots of trees and toys to play with. I said to my daughter look there is your spirit animal climbing the trees – something she was not too happy to hear! The Patagonian Cavy (Mara) was just like a jackrabbit enjoyed its small mountainous habitat and the tree kangaroo, the tree hugger was very active in its exhibit balancing on the branch using its tail. To observe and learn about animals we may not encounter in our day to day existence is something that I really love about zoos

The Australian Pelican was putting on quite a show with its bathing routine splashing about and then it extended its wings to dry. Such a handsome looking bird.

Through the reptile enclosure which is a work in progress then we went to the Froggery and we came out and the kids found this fun frog slide!

IMG_9086IMG_9096

After lunch, we worked out we wanted to see before we left for the day. The African exhibit is small due to most of the African animals living at an open range zoo called Monarto Zoo . We can always check it out next time we are in Oz. When we wandered by the Capybara they were resting but lucky for us the zoo keeper came in and gave them some fresh bamboo cuts to eat which were rejected by the pandas! So we saw the sister capybaras in slo-mo action!

And on to my favorite animals of all time the Pygmy Marmoset and the Golden Lion Tamarin. The Emperor Tamarin was in the enclosure as well but they are so full of energy and really difficult to photograph. Lucky for me I saw these little guys coming in for snacks and a bit of a relax. The conservation status of the emperor tamarin and the pygmy marmoset are of least concern, still, they are fun to watch. The golden lion tamarin is an endangered species with an estimated wild population of about 3,200 individuals spread between four places along southeastern Brazil, and a captive population maintained at about 490 individuals among 150 zoos. Their enclosure at the Adelaide zoo is wonderful as they have little cage tunnels so they can venture outside and then come in to eat and rest. Observing them outside you have to be careful that they don’t accidentally pee on you as they are above your head! I love watching them eating and playing and the colour of their fur is just so vibrant.

IMG_9222IMG_9229IMG_9232

The highlight for everyone was the kid’s area and the petting zoo with free range chickens and the Quokkas – the conservation status for these little fellows is vulnerable and they only live in small areas in the southern corner of Western Australia. A perfect cat-sized critter who is super soft and very friendly if you have the fresh leaves for them.

The free range chickens were a lot of fun and the kids knew how to handle them so they took the opportunity to give one of the girls a big hug.

We loved the Adelaide Zoo for the animal encounters and the enclosures.

IMG_4898

Oh and this little fellow and his buddy who are an African Grey Parrot was seized at customs as they were being smuggled into the country. Looking at their head feathers they were severely damaged in transit and will not recover. They are such social birds and I love the fact they enjoy interacting with people which with that trust they feel they were taken advantage of and smuggled across the Indian Ocean. They both are happy in their enclosure at the zoo and it brought to light the awareness of animal smuggling and how lucky these guys were to survive.

IMG_4924IMG_4926IMG_4941

Finally, it was time to say farewell, so we enjoyed a wander around foodie paradise at the Adelaide Central Market and just before we left we enjoyed a very delicious Greek farewell lunch with Grandma and Grandpa!

Ch-Ch-Changes

IMG_4624

Visiting the beautiful City of Melbourne is always a joy with all the memories that come to mind discovering new places to visit with the kids. When I lived in Melbourne over 10 years ago I enjoyed a lot of ‘growing up and finding myself’ time here! Everything from finding my love of art, discovering my calling as a designer, huge nights out partying, broken hearts, love affairs, living alone, living broke week to week as a student, riding and owning a bike, living in share accommodation with strangers, freelancing jobs in many offices in the city and surrounds, enjoying eating and cooking food and finding the love of my life has all been a part of my life patchwork here in Melbourne.

This panorama is up on top of a hill at the Royal Park Nature Play Playground in Parkville just behind a place where I used to take my little blue bike and ride the oval round and round to get some exercise in the city away from the traffic and up behind the native trees. Everywhere I go I am telling the kids this is where I rode my bike or that is where I lived. There were many good times back in the day in this amazing city!

IMG_4619

Looking down into the city from the top of the hill and how the landscape has changed dramatically with lots of high rise apartment blocks. I don’t think living in an apartment block will be that appealing to a modern family these days. A lot of the 1 BR and 1 Bath apartments sit empty with a price tag of $450,000 plus attracting many an overseas investor looking to plant some cash somewhere.

IMG_4579

Still the architecture of some of the buildings are a sight to behold with so many details. The building on the right is a building belonging to the RMIT Design Hub with an outer skin of disks of glass on the exterior of the building. This fascinating except is from the Sean Godsell architect website: In particular the outer skin of the Hub incorporates automated sunshading that includes photovoltaic cells, evaporative cooling and fresh air intakes that improve the internal air quality and reduce running costs. The cells have been designed so that they can be easily replaced as research into solar energy results in improved technology and part of the northern façade is actually dedicated to ongoing research into solar cells to be conducted jointly by industry and RMIT. The entire building façade, in other words, has the capacity to be upgraded as solar technology evolves and may one day generate enough electricity to run the whole building.

IMG_4573

Down the road from our place we found a wall of cats belonging to Cat Boarding Melbourne and who can resist a lucky cat and Missy wearing her fave cat dress.

Finally I had my first sit down coffee in a Melbourne coffee shop at Heartattack and Vine in Lygon Street, Carlton. We made a visit to my friend at Readings to get some book recommendations of local authors and kids chapter books. Mr Ash now loves any book by David Walliams and is trying to collect as many books as he can before we leave Australia. Each of the books he read in one day and so far he has collected Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie . He compares the writing of David Walliams to another of one of his fave authors Roald Dahl.

IMG_4582IMG_4605IMG_4606IMG_4612

As the day seemed too good to go back home and stay indoors we ventured out to the Royal Park Nature Play Playground in Parkville as I had heard from my sister in law that it was named the nation’s best playground by landscape architects. The design of the play structures are fantastic in their design, as you see chunky tightropes with rope to hang on up above the top of a crows nest which leads to a gigantic spider web. The kids really enjoyed navigating the space up high. Even I enjoyed climbing over the huge log sculpture and climbing in the nets – great exercise in balance and body strength. Lucky my yoga planks and chaturanga help me lift myself up onto the logs, it’s a great workout!

The kids enjoyed watching the videos of  themselves jump off the structure – you can see how much fun they had at this playground. As we left there were screams of can we go back with Daddy soon?!

Everybody walk the dinosaur

IMG_4476 (1)

We made our trek down south to Melbourne and we were greeted with a coolness only Melbourne can offer. The winter down here can be quite brutal so I always carry a coat, lucky I found this great vintage lambskin leather coat to keep me warm. Of course it does not snow here like the East Coast of the USA but coming from sunny Queensland to Victoria it was a bit of a shock!

We have an perfectly sized Air BnB house – 2o mins by tram to the city. Our first couple of days we were getting organised and enjoying the local shopping precinct before we decided to head on into the city for an afternoon adventure. We enjoyed a tram ride into the city and walked over to Federation Square so that I could show the kids the place where my husband and I met volunteering over 10 years ago! It was so cool to see how the space had changed since it first opened – there’s a cinema, cafe and bar upstairs, free exhibits for the public on the ground floor and the gallery below currently hosting a Scorsese exhibition. I will have to take the kids for a peek this week to check out the videos and games in the free gallery space.

IMG_4489 (1)

Saturday we met up with some friends outside the Melbourne Museum before we met up with our family here. We enjoyed a coffee from Ciuccio (Donkey in Italian) Cafe down Gertrude Street and the kids played together on these Roman ruins outside the museum. Even the take away coffee does not fail to disappoint here in Melbourne!

We were checking out the museum exhibits and the cousins were warming up to each other before we headed in for the highlight of the day the Jurassic World exhibit. It was $90 for a family to enter and we did not know what to expect when we went through. Once we went in it was such a treat as the dinosaurs looked so real! At times the kids were holding onto to us, as they were a bit scared of the gigantic realistic dinosaurs.

The lighting was dark and it was an adventure for all, like you would experience in a film and presented in a way that has some excitement – though I won’t give away any surprises!

IMG_4524

After the exhibit we had a look at other exhibits in the museum including The Melbourne Story and we found a 3D model of the Australian Coat of Arms with a taxidermy Kanga and Emu. It is so funny how when you are travelling you learn so much about your country when you visit. I had never really taken any notice of the shield and how each pictures represents one of the six states.

IMG_4527

Later on we enjoyed some wine and a delicious risotto fresh from the Thermomix followed by a mango sorbet ready in 6 minutes – amazing. Thank you to my sister in law for the incredible Thermomix demonstration and food! Her hubby found this super cool wine ‘Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch’ – I just love the label!

Last Sunday I had booked in ages ago with my good friend who I have not seen in 5 years! So we travelled down to Port Melbourne to visit and enjoyed wine and some lunch with them before we took the kids on a Pokemon Go adventure down to the beach. See those black specks on the beach, they were a gang of Pokemon hunters!

IMG_4542

While we were there we met this super cute fur baby named Neville Furbottom going for a spin in a bike basket belonging to his human. This little cutie just loved pats and the kids!

IMG_4551

Soon the Melbourne weather started to get a wee bit chilly and we headed back home – we had a lovely relaxed afternoon with our friends and the kids made some new friends! It is so good to see old friends like it was just yesterday when we last caught up, the major difference is when we see the kids and they are all growing like weeds!