Saturday, 30 November 2013

Bring back a bit of Berlin






Longing for a bit of Berlin this week.  Smith Street was as close as I came to feeling anywhere near it and I must say I was pretty delighted to be there.
This Ramen store was a highlight (Thanks Sally!!).  I'm hoping to get back for another bowl over the weekend.  I tried both the pork.....& the cashew (shared them with my friend... just in case you're thinking oink, oink).  They were seriously amazing!!
I also LOVE that Big Dreams have opened a new store in the old bead shop on Smith Street. Do you remember that Melbourne relic?
Pined over a couch in Modern Times and made a purchase at the Smith St Bazar.  A Christmas present that's so spot on (or so I'm hoping).
Loving this list of Melbourne vinyl stores to help arm me for some serious summer sounds these holidays.
Enjoyed Ron Gutman's TED talk on Smiling & Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, talk on "the gentle power" of gratefulness.

I've established a weekly ritual where I listen to an interview, while cooking, over at On Being.  This weeks interview was with Matthew Samford, The Body's Grace.  It's a beautiful interview on the mind-body connection.  Matthew is an author and yoga teacher.....who has been a paraplegic since the age of 13.  Describing it as 'inspiring' seems a little lame. His experience is mind-blowingly profoud.  I'm hoping his book will be in my Santa stocking this Christmas. No subtlety there, hey LF?

The countdown begins tomorrow.  Hope you have your advent calendar at the ready. Let the fun begin xx

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What's going on?





Things seem to be happening behind the scenes here at the moment.
I've been consciously spending less time online & more time doing.....things.
Our annual screen printing took place the weekend before last.  Sorry since they are Christmas presents I'll resist posting pictures until after the big day.
There's a knitting project for a friend. I wont say any more. It's a secret.
Writing - a little project I'm working on elsewhere. Also a bit of a secret.
Slowly going through the notes I took on our trip and marveling at the buildings.
Reading... this novel.... & this  Love 2.0......  My local bookstore is reading a book by neurologist Oliver Sacks called The Mind's Eye for their next book club so I snaffled a copy today. It's next on my hit list.

A country trip with friends, staying here & a desperately quiet carnival were all part of the beauty which made up our weekend.

Hope your days have been fun......even without any trace of the sun!! What's going on Melbourne?? x

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

micro moments of love


I came across this gorgeous interview with Dr Barbara Fredrickson today.  It's one that gives us hope in building on our resources to establish better choices and responses to the challenges we all face in life. This interview is 12 minutes and Barbara's genuine, natural beauty absolutely resonate throughout.

Dr Barbara Fredrickson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Award-winning Director of the PEP Lab at the University of North Carolina. Her research reveals how micro-moments of love and other forms of positivity nourish your health, wisdom, and longevity. She has twice been invited to brief His Holiness the Dalai Lama on her research (link found via mindfulness4mothers.com Thanks Kellie!)


Enjoy xx


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Who'd have thought....Juggling...to be the super hero of brain training?





Loving this ABC series at the moment, Redesign My Brain, with Todd Sampson.  It gives us all a little hope in dealing with our weaknesses.

x

My lovely friend  BM just left a link for home made juggling balls in the comments.  I thought I would share for all those interested in increasing their brain capacity. Thanks BM!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The wise words of Sylvia Boorstein






I listened to this interview with Sylvia Boorstein while cooking dinner on Sunday night.  It is a beautifully wise discussion on 'What we Nurture.'  I especially loved the tale about the two wolves, it really makes you think about which one you feed. I've been recalling snippets of the interview ever since.  Sylvia has such a gentle and wise way but her words have a powerful impact (**another clip which explains & expands on  Syvlia's 'wolves story' beautifully is this one by neuropsychologist Rick Hanson).
On a lighter note.....I also love the hours of fun over at Mr Printables and definitely want to try out this hip hop yoga! You can read Sammy Veall's inspiring story of how hip hop yoga came to be over here.

Slowly, after our big trip I can feel myself creeping back into the swing of things. Enjoy x

    Thursday, 19 September 2013

    In Praise of Slow



    We are trying to hold onto all things holiday around here.  It's amazing how quickly the everyday creeps back in and you loose the spaciousness that surrounds a holiday.

    I wrote a few notes last week, while still away, listing all the things I loved about our trip.  I wanted a reminder so when things crowd in on me I can find my way back to some sort of 'holiday' feeling. Part of my list revolved around not being so accessible..... I really loved my 3 months of few phone calls, text messages and emails. There's so much freedom in letting go of all the surplus communication in life.  Vast amounts of space open up and so many more possibilities are apparent. The automatic and compulsive comparisons just drop away too.  At Telunas we met a successful businessman man who goes there 3 times a year to work on new ideas.  He sits looking out at the ocean where there is no email, twitter or endless distraction from the online world and he works. It is where he comes up with his best plans and feels the most inspired.

    The biggest test is maintaining that space in a world that is so instant, so on and so big on over-communication.

    Like me, love me, link me, tweet me, text me, call me, IG me, Facebook me, Skype me, email me...... phwaaaa.....after stepping away for three and a half months it feels a little like..... bombard me, baby! It's no wonder I've been drawn to read this, In Praise of Slow, since returning.  It's a book about challenging the cult of speed. 'Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.'  (It also feels fitting after Indonesia. They are true masters of savoring the minutes).


    It really is something a holiday demands you do, slow down.  Now I just need to bring that to my everyday. xx


    PS. Z is like a new kid.  Back to his energetic self and loving life back at kinder with his buddies....I really underestimated how much he would miss his little friends while away.

    Saturday, 14 September 2013

    Telunas....heaven and ....dare I say.... hellish?









    I just want to get one thing straight.  When I say 'hellish' I am not talking in any way about 'Telunas'.  Telunas is totally heavenly.  The staff are incredible, the food delicious, the white sandy beach is remote and the water so warm you can lie in the shallows for hours. It is a destination that seems to be one of those well kept secrets but if you find yourself in Singapore with a couple of days to spare do head to Telunas.  It's a 3 hour ferry trip from Singapore to the Riau Islands in Indonesia.  
    We were virtually the only people at the resort for a couple of days and it was very relaxing.....the perfect wind down to our trip......until Z became sick.  It put a slight damper on things. The staff were wonderful making bowls of porridge to settle Z's tummy and delivering them to our room along with isotonic drinks, hugs and constant well wishes. I've written so much down about this place while lying alongside Z on the bed as he wrestled sleep and acute stomach pain. I'll write more about Telunus once the dust settles on this crazy illness that has found us in an Emergency room the last 3 out of 4 nights.  

    On returning from Telunas we planned to spend our final two nights enjoying the decadence of a 5 star hotel in Singapore (half price on lastminute.com .....we thought we deserved the splurge). Mmmmm, well it was not quite as we imagined. When we pulled into the driveway the porter insisting on helping me with my bags, one a 'sick bag' full of Z's vomit....not quite the Versace the porter is used to handling! Instead of soundly sleeping on the soft king sized bed we 3 found ourselves sleeping on hospital beds under the brash lights of an active emergency ward. Our king size bed empty, our amazing breakfast was replaced by McDonalds at the hospital and instead of packing and last minute shopping we were waiting on ultrasounds, blood tests and urine samples while praying Z would be well enough to fly by 9pm the next night.
    The doctors in Singapore were brilliant.  One delightful doctor even helped us out to hail a cab at 4am, in the rain, instructing the driver where to take us, he handed over a hand written letter of referral for the next hospital and called ahead to prep the emergency staff to ensure we were seen immediately. I can't speak highly enough of the treatment we received at both Raffles Hospital and KK Children's Hospital in Singapore. We were also ever so grateful to be there and not somewhere where we didn't speak the language.

    Now we are home and how sweet it is to be here..... back in our own beds...... It has not quite been the homecoming we anticipated but hopefully tonight we manage to sleep through without Z writhing in pain and us making a late night mercy dash to Emergency.  We are all so crazily exhausted.... so apologies if I'm out of touch while we get ourselves together here.  


    xx

    Saturday, 31 August 2013

    Last calls..........we are on the way out.









    The last week has been busy.  We took the train from Dorset to Gerard's Cross.... a 4.5hr journey to visit the L.F.'s relies, who graciously put us up for a couple of nights very last minute.  The weather was rather unkind while we were there so we took a few wet walks, went to see Planes and ate at their dinner table (reminding me very much of sitting at the Inksters dinner table, with A, 21 years earlier in The Hague...Waterford crystal, embossed tablecloths, impeccable manners & lively conversations).
    As a complete contrast we headed from Gerard's Cross to Essex (another mega train trip) for a night to visit Miss G and The Fouf.  We had a tour of Essex which actually reminded me a lot of St Kilda. Seaside amusement parks and a wide windswept boulevard.  We ate homemade pizzas, stayed up laughing till late, ate more cream tea (with Rodda's amazing 'Classic Cornish Clotted Cream') and went to a pub in the sweet Old Town of Leigh-On-Sea for lunch by the seaside...in the sun. I am not sure what I imagine Essex would be like but it definitely exceeded my expectations.  Thanks guys for the tour and hospitality.  We really enjoyed hanging out on your home turf Fouf!
    Back to London and we headed straight for Shari's place in Brixton. It felt like coming home. There was sheer relief from all three of us to see Shari's friendly face and to be staying put for 5 days. In the last 4 days it seemed we had done more rail travel than some Poms would manage in a lifetime (especially some from Portland). It was strange to think 3 months earlier we had taken off for Norway on this epic journey, it only felt like a week had passed since we were last here. Z and the LF have come down with colds and have been snuffly and out of sorts since we left Weymouth.  It feels as though we have been limping to the finish line this week. Shari has been a brilliant host giving us plenty of space to make plans for our next leg and totally recoup.
    I took off for a sleep over at Ladle's house one night.  We went to Dock Kitchen for a meal and had pre drinks at Paradise By Way of Kensal Green where we chanced upon an open mike night & met an interesting fellow who rather persistently nuzzeled in on our conversation &  proceeded to charm us with his flute (it was a little reminiscent of the time we were charmed in Istanbul, 6 years earlier, by Mike and his 'sweet apricots'. Somehow finding ourselves up in his 'den' fending of the sleazy carpet salesman and his apple tea).
    We spent a lovely afternoon at Fran's, eating cream tea while soaking up the afternoon sunshine and sharing stories of our weeks since Italy. It was sweet getting the wee people together for a post-Italian-summer-holiday play. It was great to see Fran's place.. a home I feel I've been in many times before.....  Seeing Z so happy to be with his little buddies was lovely and it was hard to tear him away.
    We took a visit to Selfridges and soaked up the city mayhem on Oxford street before heading to Hamstead Heath.  Here we spent an evening on Parliament Hill watching the antics of summer dog walkers and sun-drenched children, with Shari and Mel & co. (Mel a long time friend of the LF & Shari's who has recently relocated to London with her husband & two young boys).
    On our last full day we met Ladle and Co. in Notting Hill where we ordered take away Ottolenghi and headed to Kennsington Gardens for a picnic.  The food, as expected, was just incredible. With a cocktail of flavours lingering in our mouths we turned balloons into interesting animals with our Magic Balloon kit and relaxed in the sun.  Once our food had settled and the kids became restless we treked across to the Serpentine Pavilion to see Sou Fujimoto's summer creation. After a coffee and climb here we made our way across to Lady Diana's Memorial Fountain. A great place to splash about on our last sunny summers day in London. We tearfully farewell our friends at the tube station making them promise to come out to Australia soon.
    Friday night back in Brixton was pumping. The Brixton Market was flooded with people eating at small stalls selling food of every ethnicity, bar Indian! There is such a great vibe here and I've really enjoyed getting to know this part of town. The LF, Shari & Mel headed out for a few drinks while I packed and sorted our things ready for take off.  It's sad to be leaving London. I do love London in the summer time.
    After our week recouping we could....almost..... do the whole thing again.

    To all our friends and family here in London a HUGE thank you. Apologies to those we did not get to catch up with again on our return. Till next time bye bye and big love.

    Next, Singapore. Then 7 nights on an island, totally unplugged....no phones, TV, computers or Instagram! We'll be soaking up some down time in a hut, on stilts, before heading home.

    I must rush now.....off to do the last of our packing. xx

    PS. HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD! WE LOVE YOU....LOU & Z MAN XX

    Monday, 26 August 2013

    Way down in Weymouth





    We have just spent the last week down in Weymouth staying with friends. These friends we met around 8 years ago in Turkey. The LF & I were in Turkey for a month on our honeymoon and met S & B (B is a mad Scotsman) on a gullet trip. We spent 4 blissful days sailing around the mediterranean together.
    The LF has kept in regular contact with them via Skype & he stayed with them about 4 years ago on the tail end of a business trip to Europe for work. They now have two boys, Sennan (3) & Toby (1), who Z absolutely adored and vice versa.
    Having survived our late night flight from Milan, totally crashing out at the Premiere Inn in Gatwick, we jumped a train to the South West coast.  The train ride from Gatwick took three hours and the further we travelled the grizzlier the weather became. Grey skies rolled in and the rain streamed down the train windows. Having dodged rain for almost three months we were retiscent to complain about the UK's poor form. Cardigans and jeans were reluctantly pulled out from the bottom of our packs after lying dormant for over a month and were reinstated as staple clothing items. Thankfully the rain was short lived and for the most part we were treated to splendid seaside weather, by UK standards anyway.
    Alternative sleep-ins, small town touring in S & B's pimped up VW van, nights spent playing vinyl, making 'best of' playlists and many a laugh at the seaside antics of the English have kept us entertained.....not to mention B's natural propensity for the pub.
    We traveled to the small quaint country town of Abbotsbury and hiked up to the abandoned chapel for an incredible view of the coastline.  We spent a day in Lyme Rygis where we sampled the famous Dorset pasties from Mulberry Manor. While the kids enjoyed swimming in the shallows B was called to action, by S and I, when a lady misjudged the boardwalk and fell backwards smacking her white rinsed head against the stones where a ring of red blood quickly appeared. The poor dear was shaken but ok. B, an off duty paramedic, had her back on her feet in no time.
    S took us on a tour of the Isle of Portland, a bizarre Isle off the coast of Weymouth, wind swept and I imagine rather bleak in the winter.  This little Isle is home to 3 prisons and interestingly was also the home of the Australian Sailing team during the Olympics. On the way down we stopped at The Cove on Chisel Beach for a pint. Some of you may know it from the Ian McEwan novel.
    The LF and I took Z & Sennan to the Weymouth carnival on Wednesday and after a number of tummy turning rides for the wee lads we ate lunch with them down on the beach, which was heaving.  Extended families arrived with a serious amount of paraphernalia. Everything bar the kitchen sink is required, it seems, for an enjoyable day by the English seaside. Watching them set up with wind breakers, blow up paddle aids, deck chairs, pumps, mats, dogs.....and so on was an entertaining activity.  I felt like I was on the set of Gavin & Stacey. Afterwards we headed to the Spy Glass Hotel beer garden to watch the Red Arrows perform for Weymouth Carnival Day.
    One afternoon we did a bush walk to Smugglers Cove (rather sweaty for some....bike leathers are not advisable!). We ate lunch around at The Wishing Well, Portland Crab sandwiches and Dorset cream tea!
    S & B took care of the Z man one night and secretly booked the LF and I in for a romantic meal at Mallums in the old harbour, their sister-in-law then came and babysat all three kids so they could then meet us for a drink after dinner.  It was a fun and rather late night resulting in a few sore heads the next day (these Scotsmen are lethal!).
    I managed to dodge the back of B's motorbike rather skilfully.  I am pretty terrible on a bike so the idea of being a pillion around single lane country towns on a motorbike rather terrified me. Thank you LF for taking a hit for the team. I'm eternally grateful. The 140mph speeds may have seen me pass out. I was pleased to be riding up front with S in the van.  It was really lovely getting to know her better and I wished we had snuck off for a few more girls outings together. Thanks for having us guys. We hope to see you in Oz next Easter. xx

    (Sorry Dad! I am a little slow getting this post up. Love xx)

    Sunday, 18 August 2013

    Summer in Milan









    We're sitting at Milan airport waiting for our flight to Gatwick after spending the last 2 nights here. With a 2 hour delay just announced I thought I would write about our time here while it is still fresh.
    Milan has been fantastic. I am a little sad to be leaving tonight. We arrived at midday on Wednesday from Lugano. It's a train trip I had done twenty years earlier, only in reverse. I was on route from Florence to Zurich and was so impressed by the scenery. I remember scribbling in my guide book the name 'Menaggio' as we sped by vowing to return. It was incredibly beautiful even in the dead of winter, covered in snow. Seeing it in summer was just as impressive.
    August in Italy is quiet in the towns as everyone vacates for either the sea or the mountains. This worked in our favour as the city was so easy to navigate without the crowds. The streets were quiet and it felt like Christmas holiday period in Melbourne. Our hotel was situated on Corso Sempione and it was a short walk through Arco Della Pace  to Parco Sempione and the Castello Sforzesco.

    Our first afternoon we walked along Corso Sempione to the park, through the castle and wove our way through the streets to Brera to meander the pedestrian streets and drool over the apartments.  I had tried to book an apartment in Brera which was a slightly over budget but an amazing position and beautifully furnished. I would definitely consider moving if when I could can afford an apartment around this area. Coming home we caught  the #1 tram, an old rickety tram with wooden benches and slat flooring reminiscent of chilhood tram trips in Melbourne.   
    The next morning back on the tram we jumped off at Piazza Cavour and wove our way through the seductive golden triangle!  Fortunately (for our wallets) most of the stores were closed for their summer break but we enjoyed window shopping as the Milanese definitely have their visual merchandising figured out. Every high end shop was so simple, oozing style and definitely created a sense of desire! My favorite store being the furniture store, Nilufor. They had the most incredible bookshelf which we later discover was a Franco Albini. We strolled down Corso vittale Emmanuel II watching the buskers and street performers, dodging dodgy salesmen, crowds (the only crowded street in Milan at this time) and polizi patrol cars to emerge at the Duomo. Here I'll make a little confession. We dared, in Italy, for the first time this trip to bribe Z with lunch at McDonald's. The LF and I refrained but all was not lost on this experience. They have the most spectacular view of the Duomo from their first floor 'restaurant'. Duck in for a drink or toilet break (or bribe your child  *i'll write a post on this once home) to check out the view. With a gallery bribe up our sleeves we visited Pinacoteca di Brera. The gallery houses a vast collection of Milanese artwork from early renaissance to contemporary works... albeit heavily geared towards the renaissance with a lot of biblical references which was interesting explaining to Z, who was quite horrified by some of the images.
    Our last dinner in Milan was not quite as I imagined. I did not even realise I held a vision of how it should be until we were seated and I was desperately trying to rewind the last 15 minutes in order to choose a different outcome. I desperately knew the scene I was sitting in was not meant for me!  Instead of being seated at a gorgeous little Osteria in the back streets of Brera sipping a lovely Italian Gew├╝rztraminer and traditional home style Italian fare we had somehow made our way to the 'Lygon Street' strip of Brera, sitting at a restaurant spraying fine mists of water at intervals on the Pommy tourists expiring under the 'extreme' weather, downing large pints of larger while listening to Frank Sinatra, Bonnie Tyler & a bevie of bad 80's tracks. Z had rather loudly insisted on 'this one' and since we had pushed our luck already that day, we buckled. Thankfully once the horror wore off we laughed hysterically and rather enjoyed ourselves. All part of the pitfalls and pleasures of traveling with kids.
    On our last day we spent our time at Triennale Di Milano, Milan's brilliant design museum. There were four exhibitions on and they were all beautifully curated, The Syndrome of Influence being a favourite. The building is vast and the detailing beautiful, mosaic floors, huge windows, imposing staircases all set on the edge of Parco Sempione. You definitely need to set aside at a minimum half a day to explore this treasure. We ended our visit with lunch at the cafe in the sculpture garden before heading back for our airport transfer.
    Unfortunately, our plane has now been delayed 4 hours so instead of getting in at 8pm it looks like we'll be touching down in the wee hours of the morning. I am exhausted I can only imagine how tired the Z man must feel, poor lad. Luckily we've pre booked a room at Gatwick airport so once we touch down we can roll in to bed, ready for our train trip to Waymouth tomorrow. 
    Buonenotte a tutti & grazie mille Milan. xx

    PS. Sorry about the font issue again. I'm too tired for any more tonight so it will have to do for now.

    Saturday, 17 August 2013

    Lugano, lugano, lugano...






    From Montese we had to head back up to Switzerland to drop off our hire car.  We originally intended to return to Zurich and fly back to the UK from there. However, the idea of 6 hours in the car didn't exactly excite us.....or the Z man.  So we made a decision to head to Lugano, just over the border,  instead.  We would stay a few nights then take the train, a one hour journey, to Milan. Sorted.
    Great decision. Lugano is stunning. It's a little like Lake Como goes to Monte Carlo. Expensive, well groomed and so very stylish.  
    We were staying in the Ibis Budget hotel. There was no flashy hotel suite or Maserati waiting to collect us form the train station but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.  
    We spent a sunny morning cruising around Lago di Luganno on one of the large ferries.  As recommended we stopped off in Gandria for lunch.  Gandria is a gorgeous little pedestrian town situated right on the lake and you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere along the Amalfi coast. A great place to visit but it would be rather quiet and the swimming slightly treacherous with a child. If you have the time another great spot to stop off for a bite would be Grotto die Pescatori . We didn't have time this visit but I'd love to at some point. 
    Back in Lugano we headed straight for the public 'lido' for a swim.  There are many fantastic public pools in Lugano and I would love to road test them all. We went for the closest, Lido Riva Caccia, which had a spectacular view of the lake and plonked ourselves down for an afternoon of swimming.   People watching at this pool was just as entertaining as the swimming! There was many a fine lady in full bathing regalia.... earrings, makeup, mani, pedi, perfect hair..... gracefully gliding across the lake. They seemed, like the swans of the lake, to move as a flock.  It was quite the site. As the afternoon wears on there is a shuffle for free lettino's, which are more expensive than the entrance fee, and some serious repositioning to follow the sun.  Afternoon drinks on the deck begin and the mood is jovial. It's the perfect place to see out the day.  
    Although it was short we loved our time in Lugano and would definitely love to head back some day for longer. 


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