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.

A week of Melbourne Art Immersion

Farewell to the tropics and Hello Melbourne! It is so wonderful to be immersed in the beauty of this city, and I honestly feel like I am home when I am here as this is where my life truly began in my mid-twenties. Studying at RMIT and working as a Graphic Artist then meeting my soul partner and having our baby – who is now 11! So many amazing memories that resonate with life in another world. Now only to get back home that is in Melbourne and settled again!

To start off the holidays we met the cousins at the Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers special exhibit designed by Weta Workshop in New Zealand as a travelling exhibit from NZ. The installations are so lifelike, and the bugs were huge and gave the visitors insight into the amazing world of bugs and even spiders! I really loved it though the kids really zipped through the exhibit we wanted repeat viewings of the zoetrope dragonfly installation where the idea was that saw what it was like to fly like a dragonfly and it was just spectacular.

I met a friend with her daughter at the NGV International Kids area to do free craft activities, and it was perfect for all of our kid’s ages 7 to 11. They could craft away while we caught up with news and happenings in life.

That afternoon I found some yarn bombed trees in Federation Square and knew this is where I belong – the yarn is keeping the trees warm over the winter! I took the kids to see Kedi finally at ACMI, and we just loved it, I would love to see it again just to see all those cats closeup and listen to their fascinating stories.

Friday was a big day, and we went to the zoo with our family – an incredible photo exhibit called Photo Ark was on display. The photographer Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer, has documented 6,531 species in human care. I just loved these images so much, a book is available as well which has many beautiful animal personalities captured. I was in love with the sloth pic!

I really enjoyed the enclosures at the zoo, and there were many opportunities to take pics of these animals my favourite being the lemurs as you could walk around with lemurs in their space staying a metre away from them. Missy’s favourite was the butterfly house where I felt home among the tropics. We stayed all afternoon until the meerkats showed us how cold it was and it was time to go home.

IMG_7294

Saturday I met a good friend and her kids for tea, and we wandered down to the local cafe for a coffee and smashed avo on toast – now that is the business! It makes me so happy to catch up with my friends here 😀

IMG_7312

In the evening we were having a farewell dinner with my mother in law before they drove back to Adelaide – we are getting our cat fixes by hanging out at my sister in laws place and loving their new kitten Izzy!

Sunday was another incredible day of eating Melbourne style with good friends and fantastic food – we went to Maha for a 4 course Sunday session lunch for 2 hours of eating the most incredible food! To me, it is so inspirational the way this restaurant redefines middle eastern flavours, my absolute favourite cuisine. The restaurant had a beautiful ambience with music and comfortable chairs to enjoy a long lunch of divine delicacies. A true Melbourne experience that I would love to do again with everything cooked to perfection and no problem with the Lacto-Ovo pescatarian that I am.

IMG_7340

After lunch I caught up with friends from Choice Hotels International where we met and enjoyed our time together as a Marketing team, it feels so long ago and so much has happened in our lives and lovely to see my work friends again and reminisce on the fun times we had.

IMG_7346

We just happened to be in the city for the Boho Luxe Market in Federation Square where I had to have a quick run through to see what was on offer and of course I was attracted to this vintage bus with vintage clothes, so cool! It is so good to be back in Melbourne with art everywhere.

IMG_7355

The kid’s really enjoyed ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) the place where my husband and I first met 12 years ago, so we had to capture a shot outside. I love Melbourne, and it is so good to be immersed in all these art experiences that will live with me for another year until I come home again!

Jammed pack family fun

IMG_3711

My final week in Queensland with my family was filled with so much action interspersed with food which I love! We began our relaxing weekend with my sister and her crew coming to stay with us at our Air BnB we enjoyed a Sri Lankan feast with lots of wine for dinner and the kids enjoyed their fidget spinner collection and enjoyed the challenges of timing them.

IMG_3723

We spent Sunday at my parent’s place and the kids watched a movie after a lunch of tasty pastries from the bakery and took some fun photos in the garden.

Monday we went on a family trip with my uncle into the city to see the Marvel exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art AKA GOMA – it was a super fun exhibit and displayed behind the scenes costumes and sets but the kids just zoomed through it! For lunch we went to this delicious gyoza place for a sushi burrito for me covered in wasabi pea powder, yummo! The kids loved their doughnuts and ice cream by Mr Fitz.

IMG_3824

Tuesday we enjoyed a family pub lunch for my aunts birthday celebrating with cake and balloons, scoring some super photos with balloons as props!

IMG_3844

Wednesday my sister found this great German guy who custom creates bikes as well as hires bikes to visitors on the peninsula for $25 per hour – Street Art Cycles come highly recommended and as it is an excellent bike riding destination, this was a perfect score for a day trip and we rode 20 kilometers in total for the day. The kids were really enjoying the 24″ frames and really took off riding on this dedicated pedestrian / cycleway parallel to the beach front! I rode this Breezer bike called Uptown designed by a mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze whose history in biking began in Marin, San Francisco (so random and so fun).

We also found some local cats of the neighbourhood that were just like our dearly departed. Monty the cat across the road was just like Yeti the Himalayan Persian who belonged to my parents. And on our side of the street was an orange cat just like our lovely boy Mack who enjoyed pats from strangers.

IMG_7132

And my sisters beautiful black cat Millie gave us a bit of a scare when she disappeared for hours and we found her stuck behind the washing machine!

Towards the end of the week I realised I really had to get out and enjoy the sunny mornings and find some local wild life – I found some rainbow lorikeets on my morning walk / run having a party at a local mansion by the beach in this amazing tropical native garden. My friend Markus came to visit for lunch and we enjoyed another meal of fish and chips and went to find Gollums door on a tree by the beach. My last Sri Lankan meal of rice sticks, pan rolls, vadas with salad was enjoyed and it was such a treat!

IMG_3896IMG_7028IMG_7046

Friday came around and it was peoples day at the show so we went together with my nephew and enjoyed the pastel chickens, checking out sideshow alley with all the crazy clowns and toys and riding the ferris wheel yet again, I was a bit nervous of heights but I had to be brave as I was with Mr Ash and mum had to ‘make it work’.

Saturday we planned for our sausage sizzle and bought a variety of meat sausages from The Meat-ting Place – an organic butcher who could tell me where they sourced all their meat. The bonus was that they also had fish and I found Wild Barramundi from the Northern Territory which was perfect cooked in a foil packet with herbs and spices on the BBQ.

Sunday was our final “together” day where we went out for a day trip into BrisVegas to ride the free CityHopper ferry and eat some delicious Greek street food at Zeus Cafe in Southbank. We caught ferry down to the place where I moved to when I first left home and wandered the streets of New Farm before we went to New Farm Park with the kids. They loved it there and so did we, as we enjoyed the big old Jacarandas and the way the playground was built with a Strangler Fig!

IMG_7118IMG_7123

Before long it was my last morning walk on the beach where I said goodbye to the pelicans and our time in the peace and quiet of the Redcliffe Peninsula. I have to say it was an enjoyable couple of weeks with my family and catching up with friends!

Back home by the beach

IMG_8462

The trip I have patiently been waiting for has arrived, and I am now back at home with my family. It is so good to be at home with everyone and being at a place where my feet feel firmly planted on the ground – this is the place where my roots feel the most grounded and somewhere I belong. It is funny when you go back home you really appreciate the depth of family love and experience that can never be replicated even by close friends. That is the hardest thing I find living miles away from my family.

I am creating experiences and memories for my kids with bringing them to this place we call home – a place where they can enjoy the freedom and the friendliness of this wonderful country. I have been enjoying walking along the beachfront every day and saying hello to the people passing by. This alone is something the children really love, and they ask me, “do you know that person”, and it is always a no, but here in Australia, people don’t mind saying hello to each other as it does not cost a thing. In the USA this was hard for me to get used to – being in a place where even in the same apartment complex everyone is way too busy even to say a Good Morning. I am used to it now after being there for 10 years, and you just acclimate to whatever is the norm of the culture you are living in – eventually.

Walking along the beach and the rocks with or without shoes have been just beautiful as it is so relaxing and quiet around here away from the rushed life of the everyday. The red cliffs of Redcliffe have such a variation in colour, and I am looking at them in a new light and enjoying the patterns and formations.

IMG_6376

The incredible food is one of my fave things when coming home and enjoying Smoked Tasmanian Salmon over a quinoa rice bowl with locally grown avocados and salad with the newfound seeds and flavours of Dukkah.

In my wanderings around the neighbourhood, I finally found some frangipani even though it is the middle of winter. The sunrise and sunsets have been absolutely breathtaking in the big Australian skies. And I found a cocoon of the case moth a caterpillar who travels with his cocoon wherever they go – I have not seen one of these for ages!

When we come here we enjoy going to the library to source out some new books, I found ‘This Changes Everything’ by Naomi Klein that I have been wanting to read for ages. No way will I be able to read this by the end of next week, but it has been fascinating. Next to the library is a gallery space and this time there was a quilting exhibition that I could not resist going to so I said to my Mum and Dad I will just be 5 minutes and 15 minutes later my Dad was saying its time to go now! They were with Missy who had said to them this happens all the time, my mum likes to talk to people and she was right, I really enjoyed chatting to a couple of the ladies who were part of the quilting collective, and we talked quilts and fabrics. Such a great opportunity to share information about fabric stores and sewing techniques and one day I will make my own quilt too! Afterwards, Mum wanted to go to the bakery – a real Aussie bakery complete with custard and neenish tarts, vanilla slices and fresh sausage rolls, that was worth leaving the exhibition for!

IMG_6426

I am getting used to the new face of Redcliffe with its cinder block base house construction, big window houses overlooking the sea. From what I can see the blocks of land are gigantic with a double block property a few houses down from this place currently for sale at over $3 million dollars. Though it is evident that the blocks of land are subdivided and smaller, taller properties are built and sold in a very contemporary house design that maximises space. Still, it is always good for inspiration to wander new neighbourhoods for ideas!

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!

Back to Life, Back to Reality

IMG_5313

So we arrived back home to our house in amongst drama and a house infested with mice and a couple of nasty rats. Those nasty rats took a liking to the pantry and decided they would gnaw away at anything that might deem edible in the pantry totally destroying containers in their wake. This was something I did not expect I had to deal with when we came home – so after a good nights sleep, it was time to clean the pantry of mice and rat poo… what a god damn nightmare!!

IMG_5330

An urgent call to the exterminator and he came by as soon as he could – the first thing he saw was the cat door and said that is how they come into your house! Excellent time to close the cat door I say… Then out to the yard and holy hell, there is a jungle growing out there – apparently a haven for mice and rats. So I said OK time to employ these little munchkins and cut that jungle down!!

IMG_5335

After dealing with the pantry and the jungle in the back garden the next morning I found a rat scurrying across my bedroom floor, so I yelled: “Quick get a cat up here!!” And another call to the exterminator and he says it’s wandering looking for food… go on, lay out a trap and when we came home from our morning errands that rat was caught dead. Hopefully, now we have got the mice and rats trapped or in places where they cannot escape – I just want my house back minus the vermin.

IMG_5344

And the day finally came to send the kiddos off to school after our wonderful time in Australia. To say I am homesick is an understatement and if I could leave to go back to Australia tomorrow  I would. Still, the value of spending quality time with family is something that cannot be taken for granted and the times we spent together is going to live in my heart for a long time. We just need to align the stars and we will be back home soon…

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!

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!

Farewell my Fine Feathered Friends

IMG_7936

Today I say farewell to the first part of our journey down under… We came to Redcliffe my hometown first to see my family and from here we are going up to the Sunshine Coast (a place where I also lived up at Peregian Beach). Then we will be going down south to feel the real winter of Melbourne and traveling over to Adelaide for a weekend getaway to see my husbands family. Whoa I am exhausted just thinking about it but time is flying by – only 11 days and I see my hubby again! Still it is always paced gently and generally centered around food with family and friends, which I like very much.

Thursday we travelled by train – a trip I know all too well when I used to work in the city and did the journey every day. This was when I returned home from a 2 year trip to the United Kingdom and need to save some $. Sometimes you wonder when will this day to day cycle ever end and it sure did with moving down to Melbourne, finding a partner, having a baby, buying a house, getting married and then relocating to the Northern Hemisphere. The finding a partner, baby, house, marriage and relocating happened in a mere 3 years!!

I digress, so back to our day trip to South Bank in Brizvegas and it was a sunny and warm winters day in Queensland. We visited the rainforest walk and the Nepalese Peace Pagoda from World Expo ’88 – such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship created in Nepal over 2 years transported from Nepal and assembled for the Expo. I remember going to the Expo in 1988 and visiting the Pagoda and it is wonderful to see that it is still here. The area of South Bank by the river is a thriving tourist hub and a very beautiful place to visit and I am sure in the summer it would be a lot of fun to go swimming at the man made beach. It looked inviting with life guards there at the ready for those brave enough to jump into the chilly waters.

We had a pub lunch at the Plough Inn that has been in South Brisbane forever – more beer battered chips, so good! The smoked salmon on rye bagel with the chips was a treat but my uncle who took us out for the day enjoyed his roast lamb that the pub serves every Thursday. How I miss pub meals. After lunch we needed a walk and took the kids to the museum to see the dinosaurs and the fantastic collection of taxidermy animals including lots of Australian animals. We finally saw a platypus plus and the kids enjoyed checking out the possums and flying foxes who we have been watching traveling the sky at dusk.

Friday was my last day and we had a farewell lunch at Pipel By the Sea and we ate at the cafe. The food was amazing and Mediterranean is one of my all time favorite cuisines. This platter of dips was divine with roast capsicum, blue cheese, olive and hommus with toasted pita bread. The desert was a lemon sorbet in a lemon skin outer with turkish delight and baklava with caramel and coconut – certainly a wonderful treat. I love eating new foods and I have certainly had a fair share of seafood since coming to Queensland, the shish kebabs I enjoyed with lunch were Lemon Myrtle Calamari and Garlic Prawns – my two favorites from the menu.

IMG_7892IMG_7898IMG_7900IMG_7903

The kids found it hard to sit and eat at the cafe so after they had eaten as much as they could they could go and play with the soldier crabs at the low tide. We could see them from where we were sitting and they had a blast digging out the crabs – it was probably a bit cruel! Then they relocated the crabs to a resort they built out of sand leading out to the waves with a pool for the crabs to swim in?!? That kept them occupied for a long time and with the weather at a lovely 21 degrees C they wanted to dip their toes in, so off went the shoes and in they went. I must say the water did feel a perfect temperature unlike the chilly waters of the Bay Area in SF.

My dad enjoyed taking some pictures of the silhouette of the monkey tree on the sand and the shades of blue in the water. It was such a perfect day. Soon it was time to say goodbye to the soldier crabs and head on back to the house for a cuppa and to FaceTime California.

 

There are a few things I discovered in the first part of this holiday –

The trees planted by the beach are called Norfolk Pines not monkey tail trees!

IMG_7928
Pic taken by Ash

These mechanical sounding birds are cool and called top notches by my uncle. Actually they are crested pigeons!

IMG_7950

My kids can actually smile for a photograph.

IMG_7948

More evidence of kids smiling in a photograph – this is the photo shoot we did with the kids when we went to the shops our first week here.

IMG_4071

I do really enjoy the beach and spending time there, it is in my genes and makes me feel at home.

IMG_7952

I also enjoy watching the sun set in the evenings – I can only can do this on holidays when I am being a slacker and not working in the kitchen making dinner!