Monday, 27 February 2017

Mini-Break! Ballarat

Now that our days of overseas travel are temporarily on hold, it's mini-beak time.  At only just over 100km from Melbourne, Ballarat is the 3rd most populous city with around 100,000 Ballaratians. So an easy drive on Friday afternoon  First stop, the beautiful Lake Wendouree (did you know it was the venue for the rowing and canoeing at the 1956 Olympic Games?) and Emilio was champing at the bit to get a bit of fishing in! 

Saturday, we set off at a Lucas walking pace to tour the city to admire the architecture. Ballarat is probably the most significant gold rush town in Australia with gold discovered in August 1851. Within months, migrants from across the world had arrived and the town quickly grew and all that gold left behind some beautiful buildings.

The Battle of Eureka Stockade, took place on 3 December 1854. We visited the Museum of Democracy Eureka (MADE) where the Eureka Flag, is held and learnt some of the history.

Saturday night I set off to the Old Ballarat cemetery for a tour.  I learnt that tombstone tourists are called "taphophiles".  Our guide for the night was really interesting and gave us heaps of info on the history and the people resting in peace (or in some cases, maybe not so restful). Was cold, so can only imagine what it's like in the middle of winter!  The ghosts were quiet. 

Sunday we visited Sovereign Hill which re-creates the early gold rush days, did a bit more walking around town and then headed back to Sovereign Hill to do the Blood on the Southern Cross. It's a sound-and-light show depicting the story of the Eureka Rebellion.

Last day we visited the beautiful Ballarat Botanical Gardens and had another walk around Lake Wendouree before heading home.

So there we are.  Our first little trip for the year with several ticks!  And every time we saw a caravan, we said that will be us one day!  Oh and number 92, walk around Lake Wendouree (circumference of 6km), a fail.
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Friday, 24 February 2017

Off to join the circus!

That's it, I definitely want to run away and join the circus.  Not any old circus, but Cirque du Soleil. We went and saw KOOZA last night.  How amazing are these brilliantly talented performers? And how fit, trim and taut do they look?  One question, how do they get so bendy?  I'm pretty impressed with myself that I can still touch my toes, but anything more is going to be, pardon the pun, a stretch.

Maybe I could be the chef or chief sequin sewer?  Hang on, I can't cook or sew that well and there would be limited calls for crocheted beanies (of which I am pretty good at).  Hmm will have to check out for circus opportunities and start preparing my resume.  In the meantime, I'm going to practice gaudy make-up skills and prancing.  Because they are all very good at prancing.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Book Worms

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One of the hardest things for me to part with as part of my de-cluttering process is books (oh alright, I struggle with shoes and handbags too).  And I know I’m not alone.  Why do we hang on to them?  To re-read?  Unlikely, because let’s face it, there are so many great books out there who has time to re-read them?  Well, maybe SH (you know who you are).

Rather than add to the problem, last year I joined the Library at the Dock down here in Docklands.  Although not huge, it’s connected to all the other City libraries and you can borrow from any of them.  Browsing is fun (and you could easily spend hours), however, you can just reserve the books you want and they send you a text message when it’s ready and waiting for you to collect.  How good is that?

And libraries are so much more than just a place to borrow books from.  They have all sorts of interesting stuff on – exhibitions, workshops and book clubs.  If like me you hadn’t been into a library in years, check your local out!  Amazing places.

Right then, anyone got any must read book suggestions for me?  No classics please!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Year of Yes

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What is it about turning 50 that has us re-evaluating our lives (holy F&%$, I'm getting old)?  For me it was the thought that my dear mum passed away way too early at 70 and that meant only 20 years to go.  20 years in which to do all the things I still want to do. And for me, that's where THE LIST started. Rather than a Bucket List, it is more of a Life Wish List.  A place to note down all the great things that are out there to see, do and experience.

This year my dear friend Belinda turns the BIG 50.  For her, she has declared this to be the Year of Yes.  A year to consider all that is offered and not just quickly say no, but to get out there and try new things, see new things, taste new things and to get out of her comfort zone.  It's a great way to experience what may turn into a new passion (or may have you swearing off something for ever), or meeting some wonderful new people.

On Monday I had a spare ticket to a "See Think Click" photography workshop at lunchtime.  It was just 30 minutes, in our building and best of all FREE (my second favourite 4 letter word).  I asked B if she wanted to come along.  Her first reaction was to say "nah I'm busy with work" but caught herself in time and said "YES why not"!  Not only is it great to get away from our desks at lunchtime, but we picked up a few photography tips and had time to pop down to see The Thinking Photographer 's photos.

The best thing about saying yes, is it doesn't take away the very important freedom of saying NO. I don't feel guilty saying it, I don't feel pressured into saying yes. Drinks after work on a Friday?  Thanks but no thanks (I'd rather go home to my hubby and fur-babies).  Skydiving, bungy jumping (why do people think these need to be on the list?)  Definitely not.  I'm happy to try new things, but they just don't do it for me.  I don't want to jump out of a plane and I don't want to jump off a bridge with a rubber band around my ankles.

So just say YES!  Unless it really doesn't appeal, in which case NO is fine too.

As for turning 50, well I'm not sure if it's the new 40, but it certainly puts a whole new perspective on life.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Brighton Bathing Boxes

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Gotta love when wonderful friends (thanks B) from interstate come to visit and you get to play tourists!  And who doesn't love the Brighton Bathing Boxes!  

On Dendy Street Beach, the 82 Brighton bathing boxes are a popular Bayside icon and remain much as they were over one hundred years ago, as licensed bathing boxes. No services such as electricity or water are connected and licensees can only make minor structural, artistic and colour changes - we particularly loved this VW one. 

So how much for one of these little beauties?  Well apart from being as rare as hens teeth with only 1 or 2 new ones built each year, the last one sold in December 2016 (the orange and yellow striped box, number 85) went for $326,000!  That would be a pretty fancy caravan and there would be plenty left over for burgers!

White Night!

Went along to my first ever White Night on Saturday night (tick). This was Melbourne’s 5th White Night and stories of the crowds have put me off in the past.  Not sure if crowds were down because of the threat of bad weather or because things were more spread out this year, but nowhere near as bad as expected.

Didn’t get to see everything, but was happy to just concentrate on a few things and loved it – will definitely go back next year!
My fave was the Rhythms of the Night projection set to haunting music at the Royal Exhibition Building. The clocks ticks down and you’re treated to a psychedelic array of images.  Loved the skeletons, spiders and cobwebs!  Can imagine some of the young kids being a bit spooked, especially if they looked up into the trees and saw all the red zombie eyes (ok, they were pretend possums) peering down at you.  
The Nebulous structure also in the Carlton Gardens was mesmerizing and just ahead, the Pyrophone Juggernaut.   This looked like a ship made of organ pipes and when the show began, there were flames, weird noises and drums.  All a bit odd – but then anything goes in the name of art.
After that we followed the crowds towards the main part of the city and towards the library which also had some amazing projections on its fa├žade, although too busy to go in. 
A few people have said that there were fewer displays this year, can’t compare, so all I can say is it was a good night.  Even getting home was not too bad.
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Burgerholics Anonymous

I think I need to join Burgerholics Anonymous.  It seems like these days in Melbourne, you can't walk 50m without coming across another new "gotta try" burger joint.  And as fast as I add them to the list, the more that just pop up all around me! 

This is not a completely new phenomenon, it has been happening for a few years now with even celebrity chefs jumping on the bandwagon  (yes, I'm referring to Neil Perry's Burger Project and the soon to be opened Benny's Burgers courtesy of Shannon Bennett).

In fact there are people out there far more addicted that I am - just check out Burgers of Melbourne! This guy takes his job very seriously - even rating milkshakes, onion rings and chips. Impressive.

I have 10 burger places to try on my 2017 list.  There were 7 I tried last year.  Here we are only half way through February and I have already tried 4 on the list.  I must also confess that there may or may not have been a few repeats in the year to date. 

Do I rate my burgers?  No not really - I find that really hard and they have all been pretty good!  However, out of the 4 I've tried this year, last nights burger at The Grand Trailer Park Taverna is probably my fave. Great place too and milkshakes to die for (they have alcohol in them - need I say more?)

I think I have reached saturation point.  I do solemnly swear that I will not add any new burger places to the list (unless they sound really, really, really good).

One final note, this burger addiction is causing all sorts of problems for number 59 on the list - get down to 60kg.  At this rate, I'll be lucky not to gain 9kg, never mind losing 9.
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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Happy St Valentine's Day

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Happy St Valentine's Day!  The history of this day goes back a long way and was not always associated with flowers and chocolates!

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine, all of whom were martyred. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all tell of a heroic and romantic figure.

Others believe that the Christian church decided to place St. Valentine’s  day in the middle of February to “Christianise” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400.

So whether or not you choose to celebrate, enjoy the day and tell someone you love them.

Monday, 13 February 2017

"Tails" on the Road

Ok, I'm gonna add it to the list.  By the end of the year, we want to buy a caravan!  Doesn't have to be THE one that we end up travelling around Australia in.  Just a little practice caravan.  And as overseas trips are currently off the agenda, it means we can still travel and take Lucas and Lola with us.  Tails on the Road comes to life! So now the big question - is a loo a must have?
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Hello Monday!

Nothing off the list this weekend. Zip, nil, nada.  But that's OK. I used to beat myself up a bit on a Monday when I hadn't managed to get anything done off the list.  I've tried to stop doing that.  Life gets busy, plans change and sometimes you just need to slow down.

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Have less stuff

"Have less stuff" has been on the list for a while now.  However, this year I've been reading up on minimalism and de-cluttering.  The whole "less is more" really appeals. I'm also amazed how popular this stuff appears to be at the moment - or maybe its just that I'm more aware. 

More to it than de-cluttering though.  No point getting rid of things if you just go out and buy more stuff!  So this year, a  conscious decision to cut back on shopping.  I don't need clothes, shoes, bags or house stuff.  So unless it's broken or a real need my motto will be "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without".

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Friday, 10 February 2017

So it's Friday

Why do we wait for Friday?  For the weekend? For holidays? What's the matter with Monday?  Do something today.  Don't wait for tomorrow!  Hang on, it is Friday!  Enjoy and have a great weekend.

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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Book of Mormon

I must admit, I know very little about the actual Book of Mormon (love how they are advertising at the moment), so went along to the Princess Theatre last night only knowing that The Book of Mormon was a musical, very funny and very popular.

So what did I learn? Well, did you know that there is a third testament discovered by Joseph Smith founder of Mormanism and the Latter Day Saint movement?  That JC went to America and that God comes from planet Kolob?  Well you do now. 

The musical tells of two Mormon missionaries who are posted to Uganda (Elder Price and Elder Cunningham) who expect to find the Lion King, but instead find a village ravaged by Aids and under the control of General Butt-Fucking-Naked. Yep, that's his name.

The first thing they learn is that in this part of Africa, they have a saying - whenever something bad happens, they throw their hands up to the sky and say HASA DIGA EEBOWAI! Look it up if you want to know the meaning.

All the songs are hilariously sacrilegious (no lightening strikes) and at the crux of it, shows how powerful human belief can be - even if it appears totally ridiculous.

I won't spoil anymore of the story, but if you get the chance - go and see it, definitely worth it.  Oh and just check your scrotum for maggots.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Laneway Learning

Have you heard of Laneway Learning? They offer informal evening classes in just about anything and everything you can possibly think of.  Classes are held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Auckland and Singapore.

These classes are cheap, (average price in Melbourne is $14 and a bit more if materials are involved), relaxed and most are just one night stands.  They are held in various places around town  and it's a great way for people to share their passions or to go along and learn something new (it's on the list).

Went to my first one last year (tick) and learnt all about "Day of the Dead".  Last night Belinda and I went along to "Decluttering: An introduction to KonMari".  If you haven't heard of the KonMari method, checkout  The Life Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever by Marie Kondo.

Last nights session was at Madame Brussels. Not the best place to be when one of you has given up alcohol and the other sugar for the month of February.  We did ask for a deconstructed cocktail - alcohol in one glass and mixers in the other, but that totally threw them.

Anyway, it was a fun session and reinforced the desire to de-clutter.  And whilst I read the book and picked up a few tips, I don't think I'm going to be floating around the house in a pretty dress as I thank my things and send them on their way.  "Goodbye, daggy, stretched knickers and thank you for your service".

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Monday, 6 February 2017

Monday Morning

Yep, I have this on my list, it's a great one.  Actually twice.  One for Australia and one for the rest of the world.  Haven't thrown the darts as yet, but looking forward to it.  Unless they land in the middle of the ocean/desert, which could be a bit tricky.  Or in Afghanistan, I guess that may require a re-throw.

A weekend with nothing ticked off the list.  But had my brother here from Perth and my nephews birthday, so spent the weekend eating and celebrating instead.

Happy to report that I stayed strong and skipped birthday cake (looked amazing), ice-cream, pavlova and chocolate.  Sugar Free for Febfast going well (at least based on the Febfast Sugar cheat sheet, which doesn't actually rule out the carby type sugars).Image result for bucket list quotes

Friday, 3 February 2017

Never Stop Exploring

Even if it's your own country, your own state, your own city or town, your own suburb or your own backyard. Amazing things are all around us, some of them right under our nose!

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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Overseas Travel Ban

Born to travel, forced to work.  Near, far, around the corner – anywhere really.  We’ve been lucky to have enjoyed many fabulous trips over the years, but still have so much more to see and do.

Sadly, I’ve had to impose an overseas travel ban.  No not due to political instability, disease or famine, but simply down to priorities and Lucas.
Lucas is our 12.5 year old cocker spaniel and my beautiful fur-baby boy.   He and Lola (our 11 year old little white’ish fluffy) have stayed with friends, stayed home or on the odd occasion, stayed at a kennel. 

Following our last trip to Fraser Island, Lucas decided there was to be no more going away and leaving him behind.  1 costly back surgery later (slipped disc), he was eventually back on his paws, if somewhat a bit wobbly.  He’s always been a “needy” soul, wants to be near you, follows you around and loves being wherever we are and as he’s getting older, he’s getting worse.  So since the surgery, the thought of leaving him is too much to bear and I could never forgive myself if something happened while we were away.
Not to mention the money issue.  I calculate that over the years we have put a vet’s child through university. With honours.  At Harvard.  So with his last little mishap (not much change from $8,000) our credit card took a battering.  He has recovered faster than the card.

So for now, no more travelling without them. They both love the car – they’ve crossed the Nullarbor twice!  So it looks like driving holidays for us from now on.  Luckily, it’s great to see so many dog friendly properties around and let’s face it; dogs can often be far less destructive than kids!! 
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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Winners are Grinners!


I just won this cute little retro number!  For registering yesterday to do Febfast (day 1 - so far so good, but then again it's not even lunchtime yet), I went into a draw to win a bike and I was the lucky winner.  Woo Hoo. 

Must be a sign that along with giving up sugar, I need to get off my fat butt and do some exercise.

Ah yes, I can just picture myself peddling along the bike path near Beach Rd.  Sun shining, picnic (of healthy sugar free goodies of course) in basket, flowing dress and helmet hair.  Nothing in that picture shows any part of said fat butt hanging over the bike seat.

I now have a small dilemma.  I'm going to need to go against my "no buying stuff" and get myself a bike helmet.  Maybe I could just wear the motorbike helmet - for added security?  Actually bound to be one in the garage that I can salvage and use.