Last week I took the chance to have some Mama time off as Uni was out for a break and I had some time in between the kids going on holiday! My hubby wanted me to go for a break, as I was alone with the kids as we were settling back into Australia last year. I have to say it has been a full on 6 months with relocating home, moving house and constantly clearing out our belongings. We had the last of it – 8 boxes, taken away by the Brotherhood of St Laurence last Tuesday. I hope it goes to help some families in need.
Well back to my mini Mama vacay away to Sydney. I have not been to Sydney for about 15 years – I reckon the last time I was there I was with my boyfriend (now hubby) hanging out with his friend in Surry Hills. This time I was travelling solo in Surry Hills at this super cool pad for a couple with the most amazing shower! The neighbourhood felt super safe as it is right next to Oxford Street the home of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, being a “gaybourhood” as a solo traveller it was a good place to be. The supermarket was full of hot gay men shopping and as I bought my breakfast goodies I enjoyed the dance music playing in the background.
My first stop when I landed was the train and it took 18 minutes to get from the airport to Central station where I had to drop off my bag using the most excellent porter service at $8 a day – Bag Bnb you can instal the app on your phone and book your bag at an “Angel” which is usually a local hotel (the one I used had a 24 hour reception) and it was so easy.
After saying farewell to my bag for a few hours I grabbed my camera and had a tasty Bahn mi (kick arse Vietnamese in Sydney!!)for lunch and took the train to Circular Quay to go on a tour of the Sydney Opera House. From the many times I have come back to Australia in the last 12 years I would see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from the sky and know these great icons of Australia but I have never enjoyed them in real life. So my plan was to experience the Opera House inside and out as my thoughts were, “How could I afford a show there?” But as it turns out the Opera house has many theatres and shows and they run them simultaneously. Therefore, the price point of tickets depends on the show and the theatre it is playing in, for example, there is a theatre with 300 seats which was playing Thrones – a comedy parody about the Game of Thrones. While I was there, I wanted to go and see Bangarra Dance Theatre and their tickets started at $80 for a 2 hour show – unfortunately I ran out of time and could not make it! I have not seen any of their shows for a while, so I think that will have to go on my Things to Do list now that I am home.
There were so many interesting facts that I learnt about the Sydney Opera House expertly explained by our tour guide Alexander who was excellent and oh so funny! At the opera house, I loved the tile roof – a triple glazed tile so that the roof cleans itself when it rains, and the glass that captures the many reflections including the Harbour Bridge when you look up! The interior is spectacular with wood, concrete and steel – where kids who have visited said it looks like whale baleen.
After my tour I took advantage of the sunshine and blue sky and hopped aboard the Fast Ferry to Manly, its $10 each way but if you get your Opal card for the Sydney transit network it is all good to go! And boy it was worth it just to see the icons of Australia in the perfect shot! Arriving at Manly there’s plenty of places to eat and enjoy including ice cream – yummo! But as I had eaten I took a walk through the streets of the town up to little place on the top of the point called Peace Park, it was somewhere I needed to be that day and enjoyed the lookout onto the horizon and the deep blue sea. As I was walking, I was loving the plants and gardens as my favourite tropicals are on show here in New South Wales with the hibiscus, the umbrella plant, the bird of paradise and so many other beauties that reminded me of growing up in Queensland.
The reason I chose Sydney as my destination was the Akira Isogawa exhibition that is on the Powerhouse Museum until 30 June. Many moons ago as I was leaving Melbourne for San Francisco and that was the last exhibit I saw of Akira’s clothes at RMIT in the city, I have been a long standing fan of his work. The museum had a volunteer to take me around the exhibition and explain to me the collaborations and techniques in his work. I was the only one on the tour and really enjoyed the dialogue and the back story about this exhibition. I have come back inspired to get into some sewing and maybe try my hand at a bit of shibori sewing knots, like the black and red tunic above. My take away from the show is that his focus is on the pattern and design not about the finishing of the neckline. This has always bothered me when designing, and I have learnt it is good to keep it simple when your focus is on pattern and interesting design techniques.
After the exhibition my friend had told me about the Craft and Quilt Fair at the Exhibition Centre spread over two halls. I got to see Boro kimono which is in the first picture from Tohoku “snow country” in the Aomori Prefecture, was synonymous to most Japanese with dire poverty. The villagers created the textile aesthetic out of boro, mere “rags” making their clothes and lining them with woven hemp to create warmth they layered the scratchy hemp together by stitching found textiles layer upon layer – info from Amuse Museum, Japan.
From there – the fave craft of the show were Shibori stitching kits. These kits have the pattern drawn onto beautiful Japanese cotton or linen. Using this template you then choose fabric to incorporate into the design and use floss, perle cotton or whatever threads you are used to to outline the pattern. I have minimal time so I grabbed a business card for these little projects and ran past all the fabric displays (I already have a stash in my garage) and was on a mission to find stockists of my fave yarn Malabrigo! Lucky for me I found Hedgehog Fibres, after ages of coveting the yarn on Ravelry. In the end I came out of the show with 2 skeins of yarn for a couple of projects – one being an infinity scarf using the Hedgehog sock weight. I found an amazing yarn store Yarn Glorious Yarn in Taringa, Brisbane who stocks all my yarn faves Malabrigo, Noro, Hedgehog and Madeline Tosh and thank goodness for their online shop for when I need to refill my stash. The final pic is where I have one skin of Malabrigo in my handbag and the other Hedgehog sock yarn in the small shopping bag plus a metre of Japanese cat fabric for my daughter, a merino woven scarf, some multi coloured embroidery thread for fabric beads I am making and that was it. It was such a dangerous place for a crafter to go to and not be tempted to buy anything :D.
I have to say the food I sourced in Sydney was divine! I made sure I went to vegan restaurants so I could really enjoy everything on the menu. The first night I was a bit knackered so I went to Japanese and ate sashimi as recommended by my Air Bnb host which was a treat! The next night I tried vegan Mexican at Bad Hombres Good Food and sat at the bar at the booked out restaurant and enjoyed chatting to the manager and the incredible staff – a bunch of cool folks from South America. Oh and I did find another Sydney brewed Booch at this restaurant that I took home and enjoyed in the funky designer kitchen. The creme brulee was just amazing made from coconut cream and the margarita with jalapeno reminded me of California! I have to say the crispy eggplant tacos with pineapple habanero salsa and miso caramel was a taste sensation – find the pics on my Insta page to the right. And my final dinner in Sydney was at Yullis – again a popular booked out restaurant which was all vegan! As it was just me dining solo I managed to get a spot at the bar to enjoy all the delights including vegan meringue with berries for dessert. I loved their home brewed Kombucha and noticed that they have a vegan BBQ at their Alexandria location – next time Sydney, its a date!
I did spend time on Friday with my long lost friend Mel who I have not seen in around 10 years and had a delicious lunch at her fave coffee cafe called Morning Owl in Auburn. The food there was so good and we enjoyed coffee, tea and our lunches over catching up. It is funny there are friends in your life who when you leave and come back to it is just like yesterday that you left. I have a picture but that is for us as it has one of her beautiful boys in the pic and I will have to ask her permission to post it first.
Saturday was my last day and I checked out of my Air Bnb and wandered to the Glebe markets and hung out in Glebe and walked back to get my luggage through Haymarket. The markets were very hip and hippy and I was not in the mood to dig through peoples piles of clothes as I have recently gone through my own! I am a bit of a fan of a curated vintage collection where I found at the Works Showroom just down the road, who sold many indoor plants as well! My lunch was at Cafe Shenkin an Israeli menu where I enjoyed a avocado felafel with poached egg, mushrooms and Israeli salad and it was the perfect farewell to Sydney. Sydney was an enjoyable foodie, cultural experience – I love being home and this is where Australia shines with so many cultures living and eating together in harmony, and I cannot wait to explore more in the future!