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Monday, 22 April 2019

Procrastination, Punting and Prosecco

"Procrastination - the action of delaying or postponing something"   

So, I have become an expert procrastinator.  And rather than get on with writing and doing all the other things I should be doing, I did some reading on procrastination. Because that's just what us procrastinators do.

Seems like it's a thing we humans are very good at and it's been happening for centuries. Those old wise ones even had a word for it Akrasia (cheers Aristotle). "The state of acting against your better judgement" (like opening that third bottle of bubbles or eating the entire box of chocolates.) It's when you do something even though you know you should probably be doing something else.

Whatever, I need to get my writing mojo back.  That means just one thing, actually doing some writing.  So much for that dream of sitting in a cafe tapping away. Nada. Not happening. Not even once. I used to get more writing done when I was working.

Anyway, at least I managed a tick off the old list and whipped up this quick post. 

Good Friday dawned warm and sunny so a perfect day to go punting on the ORoyal Botanic Gardens. Nice one B, who took the initiative and grabbed us some tickets.  All aboard our wooden punt, complete with prosecco, plastic cups and parasol for a tour around the lake. After a brief safety briefing (there are after all killer eels and who knows what else lurking beneath the surface of the murky waters), our professional punter Wesley pushed us off and provided plenty of info about the lakes history, the plants and the bird life that call the lake home.  Pointing out mama and papa swan with their four very cute fluffy cygnets was a highlight. 
rnamental lake at the

Very pleasant and the prosecco went down very nicely.  Punting on the Lake, costs $25 for adults, $12 for kids (5 - 15) and $65 for families (2 adults and 3 kids) for a 30 minute tour.  Well behaved dogs are allowed on board, so will have to take Lola along next time.  Oh and yes, you are welcome to take alcohol on board - even at 10.30am. Just don't fall in. Apart from those killer eels, the water is a bit smelly - duck poo.

After a pleasant stroll through the gardens, we checked out The Kettle Black for a delicious brunch in South Melbourne.  All that and home in time for a lazy afternoon siesta.

Right, so tomorrow, I'll head down to the corner cafe and seek inspiration.  Or is that motivation? Or fuck it, maybe I'll just pop down for a skinny latte, a croissant and read the gossip mags. Because that too is what us procrastinators do.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Urban Scrawl Street Art Tours

Another Sunday, another day exploring our beautiful city.  Having only caught up with the lovely Lynda a couple of weeks earlier on our Wayward Wanders Tour, it was fab to set off an another adventure with her. 

This time we joined Urban Scrawl on one of their Street Art Tours. Having been on a few of these and spent many hours wandering our laneways, it never ceases to amaze me the level of talent we have around us. Melbourne is actually well known as one of the top cities in the world for street art and it's not hard to see why.

What started as a graffiti subculture, is now widely accepted by local authorities who commission many of the beautiful large pieces we have around the city and suburbs.  Whilst generally graffiti and tagging is still illegal, many of our laneways have opened up for artists to share their talents.  It is a bit of a shame to see some amazing pieces tagged, but I guess that's part of it.

On this tour, we wandered around many of the famous spots we have in the city and learnt about some of the artists and their work.  Many of them have made a name for themselves not only in Melbourne, but throughout Australia and around the world. 

The great thing about street art, is that it's ever changing; so what's there one day, might have been replaced the next.  No matter how many times you visit, there are always new works to discover and old faves to admire.  Yes, little Banksy rat, it's good to see you still there.  A piece of art that should really be preserved.

Overall, another good tour company doing these and a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.  The tours are by appointment and meet at Federation Square.  Cost is $35.  They also run one through Fitzroy and Collingwood.

If you don't want to do a tour, it's easy to go and check them out on your own.  City of Melbourne  have a great guide of all the most popular sites and laneways and you can dowload a map.  Or just wander around and get lost.

Oh and a big thank you to Lynda for the gorgeous pics. I did take some, but they are still sitting on the camera card.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Espresso, Ristretto, Short Macchiato and a G&T

Learn new stuff - it's on the list.  And seeing as I'm currently happily unemployed, seemed like as good a time as any to learn a few new skills. Might come in handy when we hit the dusty road. 

So with my trusty partner in crime against common sense (Belinda "let's do a stand-up comedy course" Dane), we rocked up at our Barista course at 9am one Saturday morning. First up, a bit about The Bean.  I sort of knew that 100% Arabica was the good stuff, but to be honest, that was about it.  Arabica is more expensive and often mixed with Robusta beans to save $$$. Robusta contains more caffeine.  As for "single origin" it's a matter of taste, with some blends containing up to 5 different beans.

Next up, making the coffee. 7-9g of coffee in the basket for a single, 14-18g for a double.  Water should push through at 88 - 92 degrees and 25 - 30ml of coffee should take 25 - 30 seconds to come out. Slower than that, the grind is too fine - time to fiddle with the grinder.  If your favourite cafe is pushing out coffees faster than that - then they are not doing you any favours! Go elsewhere.

Espresso, Ristretto, Cappuccino, Cafe Latte, Long Black, Short Macchiato, Long Macchiato and Flat Whites. So many choices.

On to the fun part.  Engines warmed and machines at the ready.  Coffee into the group handle, tap, press down and lock it in. Harder than it looks, but after a bit of jiggling, we're ready to go. Push the button and out comes the coffee.

Then comes the milk and the art of heating/frothing.  It's all about nozzle position and depth.  Put the two together and there we have it, a coffee.  After making several styles, with mixed success, we thought we'd better taste a few of our efforts - not bad.  Countless cups of coffee later, there we were, proud holders of a Barista Coffee Making Course certificate. 

Was certainly a fun 4 hours and I don't think I'll ever be able to look a coffee in the same way again - now that I'm a professional and all.  I don't have an artistic bone in my body, so don't think I'll progress to the coffee art course - but who knows.

Next up, because you never know when you might need to serve alcohol at somewhere other than at a BBQ or breakfast, we went back and did our Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Drinking responsibly is a whole other thing - which we may or may not yet have mastered. 

So there we have it. We are now armed and ready.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Wayward Wandering

You know that "go-slow" feeling when you had to go back to work after the Christmas break? Must be seasonal, because even when there is no work to officially go back to, it happens. And I don't like it. Been positively slack the last few weeks.  So much for all that writing I was going to do - not been happening.

So a catch-up post about a fabulous walking tour I did with Sista Lynda way back on 2 December 2018.  At this age, if I don't write things straight away, there is a very real chance of forgetting what we did - so this could be a very short write-up.

Seemed fitting that as we met Lynda walking (Nepal), that our catch-ups involve, well, more walking. I ask myself why didn't we meet drinking in a bar? So on a sunny Sunday, we met our Guide Liam from Wayward Wanders and set off on The Greenie Tour.

First stop, headed down to Birrarung Marr. Opened in 2002 the name means 'river of mists' and 'river bank' in the language of the Wurundjeri people who inhabited the area when the Europeans settled in Melbourne. At this point it was important to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of The Kulin Nation as the original custodians of the land we were walking on and pay respects to elders past, present and future.

Interesting to hear about how the design, landscaping and plants were chosen and to learn that there are huge underground water tanks installed.  Liam also spoke a little about the Yarra and what it would have been like when European settlers first landed and about the problems with pollution and rubbish in our rivers.  It's sad that those rubbish traps are necessary and that so many people still think nothing of throwing stuff into the river. Cigarette butts and plastic bottles being the major culprits. 

After that, it was a stroll through Fed Square and more discussion on its sustainable features - some of which I'd heard about when I'd done the Fed Square tour a few weeks earlier. 

On to Council House 2 (CH2), which you've probably seen (240 Little Collins Street) many times but never stopped to actually take a look at.  It was the first building in Australia to be awarded a six star green star design rating when it was completed in 2006.  Some great initiatives around water conservation, energy generation, heating and cooling systems, and its energy saving windows and those wooden shutters that open and close.  With one side covered in plants, it really is a stunning building, so next time you're nearby, stop and take a look up and around it.

The wooden shutters of Council House
Time to jump on a tram and head to Fitzroy.  On the way, Liam spoke about the "Green Your Laneway" program and the interesting "Cooling our City" initiatives and Melbourne's commitment to the Paris Climate agreement to help limit global warming.  The goal is to plant 3000 trees in Melbourne every year.  A worthy goal.

A very pleasant stroll around Fitzroy checking out a few community gardens, stopping for a coffee  and visiting a couple of social enterprise shops. Loved Beekeeper Parade and the enthusiastic Koky whose mission is to "create products that change the world".  Their involvement in helping Cambodian children is admirable and their products are pretty funky too. 

Always blown away by the amazing street art that is all around us and Fitzroy has a particularly vibrant street art culture.  Some gorgeous work around the place.

Was also impressed by Fitzroy's Town Hall. Gorgeous classical Victorian building that has been beautifully restored. Didn't get to go in as it was a Sunday - but will add it to the list for future investigation! Just across the road in Whitlam Place is an interesting sculpture Courage by William Eicholtz.  It's of a man removing the Cowardly Lion costume (Wizard of Oz) whilst standing on a disco floor (not sure if the lights still work at night, but cool) whilst looking at a medal for 'courage'. Eicholtz said it aimed to "commemorate and recognise the LGBTI communities courage to be themselves." There is also a plaque dedicating it to the legacy of Raplh McLean who was Australia's first openly gay Lord Mayor.  An important reminder that we should all have the courage to be ourselves.

From there we set off for a 40 minute stroll along Merri Creek, chatting with Liam answering any questions we had. Our final stop was at CERES Community Environment Park. I've been here a few times and always find it amazing that such a place exists so close to the city. Had never really checked out the Permaculture & Bushfood Nursery and that was really interesting. Got myself a Woolly Bush - not that you can eat them, but they are lovely and soft - and woolly like.

Overall, a really good tour and 4 hours well spent playing tourists in our own city.  Liam was friendly and knowledgeable and more than happy to chat about anything we were interested in.  Would certainly recommend it to locals and visitors alike.

The Greenie Tour is $50 per person and runs on a Thursday in 2019.  Like them on Facebook, as they had a special deal on when we booked.  Wayward Wanders also run a 3 - 4 hour Alternative Tour which visits Fitzroy and Collingwood and shows a side of Melbourne many people miss.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Favourite Quotes

Gotta love a good quote. A while ago, I read a list of the 100 top quotes by well known people and tried to narrow it down to my Top 10. Impossible. 

Managed to choose my fave 14 and then had to add one from Adam Ant, which is not really a quote it's a line from a song (Prince Charming), but I'm currently reading his book and it has led me down memory lane. Gotta love the 80's. "Don't you ever, don't you ever, lower yourself, forgetting all your standards" and "Silk or leather or a feather respect yourself and all of those around you." Same song, not my fave, wise words. 

And now to come up with my own.

And still a very fine looking man at 64!
Oprah Winfrey
"You become what you believe

Steve Jobs
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."

Audrey Hepburn
"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, 'I’m possible!'"

Dalai Lama
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."

Jane Fonda
"It's never too late - never too late to start over, never too late to be happy."

John Lennon
"Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans."

Jack Nicholson  
“The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead.”

Walt Disney
"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."

Stevie Wonder 
"If you don't ask, you don't get."

Dr Seuss  
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

Mae West 
"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

Pablo Picasso
"Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone."

Oscar Wilde 
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."

George Eliot 
"It is never too late to be what you might have been."

Monday, 31 December 2018

Another year draws to a close

Time to farewell 2018. A year of ups and downs, highs and lows - life.

A quick review of the List for 2018 sees 53 out of 100 things ticked off. Some big, some small. A little bit disappointing - especially as I've had the last 7 weeks of freedom. But still, the aim is always 50%, so not a total failure.  And it makes for a good start for 2019's list!

Only 32 books read out of the proposed 50. That's one thing that not working has had an impact on. Funny how routine works.

New adventures to be had and what else will the year hold? No official job = new opportunities.

So with lots of spots on the 2019 list - what to add?

Friday, 7 December 2018

Four weeks since "Freedom Day"

So its been four weeks today since what I now call "Freedom Day" I can't believe how quickly time flies and how much is still on my to-do list (OK it's a never-ending list).  Bit bummed that I haven't been writing anyway near as much as I thought I would and those images of sitting in a cafe writing away are yet to materialise. Currently experiencing a couple of "too hot to do much but keep cool days" so staying in and catching up.

It's been a pretty hectic few weeks.  Someone foolishly asked me if I was "bored yet?" Bored? What a foreign concept that has become.  Never! Sure sometimes, motivation is a bit lacking and procrastination often gets the better of me, but bored isn't a word in my vocab anymore!

From Day 1, I decided that I was going to smile, say hello and chat to people in the neighbourhood. To date, nobody has rung the cops or had me committed.  Reactions are priceless.  Some people, just grunt and some don't respond at all (earphones in I tell myself - must learn sign language), but others smile and say hello and more often than not a few sentences follow.  Or in the case of the lovely Australia Post men putting in a new post box, 15 minutes.  Understandable, weekend rates, may as well chat to the local loony.

I've introduced myself to people on my walks with Lola (having a dog makes this much easier), stopped and chatted to random people everywhere.  And it doesn't stop there, I've joined a few local FB community groups and "virtual" chatting has even led to a coffee catch-up with a lovely local.  Getting involved with people in the community is fun - Lola on the other-hand is a bit exhausted with all the walking and socialising.

Can't say I've been going out on the road with Emi too often - other than dropping the other car off in the mornings (no sleep-ins for me or Lola) and the odd trip to Bunnings/Nurseries.  But I'm loving playing little Ms home-maker. "That's OK dear I'll do the dishes - you've had a long, hard day".  Feminists must be turning in their graves, but I love having a bit more time to potter (great word - today I'm pottering) around the house and in the garden.  Cooking skills have yet to improve, but I was particularly excited when I popped into the supermarket yesterday and found out that at 4pm each weekday they have a "clearance table."  Plenty of bargains to be had - all the GT team today has plenty of banana bread, cakes and peaches to keep them going. Gotta look out for these bargains now that I am unemployed/semi-retired/not working for $$$ or whatever this blissful state is called.

Talking of work, still haven't quiet figured out what I do want to do.  But what I don't want to do is becoming clearer by the minute and it doesn't involve an office in the city!  Have had a couple of appointments with my LHH consultant and enjoyed the full day Career Transition Workshop.  Lots of great suggestions and ideas that I'm using to work out what I would like to do.

One thing I loved, was that a couple of weeks ago it was pouring with rain, which made working for Emilio impossible. So we got to spend the day together. Did a few things, had lunch and went to see Bohemian Rhapsody in the middle of the day - on a Friday! Can't do that working in an office. Being a Queen fan, I loved the movie and Rami Malek does a superb job of playing the extraordinary Freddie Mercury.  I think Emi might have dozed off in parts.

Was rather excited to hear about the Mickey Mouse Exhibition on at the moment in Melbourne Central (until 28 January 2019) - probably more than someone my age should be.  So off I went to check it out.  Good thing the merchandise wasn't yet available, although I may or may not have purchased a Mickey notebook in Typo a few days later (it's an addiction, I can't stop).  Anyway, that wasn't on the list, but a visit to the Shot Tower Museum was. So in I went. The Coop's Shot Tower inside Melbourne Central was built back in 1889 and was the tallest building in the CBD until the mid 1940's. The free to enter small museum (access via R M Williams) explains how lead shots were made and has photos of Melbourne from days gone by.  A tick off the list.

Ah Mickey you're so fine 
The Shot Tower

Fed Square - love it or hate it?

Another tick, I finally did the Federation Square free tourThe Old Duck and I attempted this a few years back on our Ferris Bueller's Day off, but I recall we were waylaid by some rather tasty cocktails
and missed the start.  Only 4 of us on the tour and we set off with Glenn our guide for a wander and chat about the site's history, the architecture and some of its unique features.  Love the idea of the passive aircon system used, the fact that there are bee hives on the roof and 88 water tanks underneath. Tours run Monday to Saturday at 11am and run for an hour or so. You just turn up.

Mercer building in the distance 
Just this week have managed another 2 ticks. Played Tombstone Tourist on the Springvale Botanical Cemetery Tour I did (since writing about that, I remembered that a person who likes visiting cemeteries is called a Taphophile and not just a weirdo) and finally did The Edge at Eureka Skydeck. I had previously been to the Skydeck, but it was on an Amazing Race work thing, so no time to stop and look around.  So on Wednesday, having 90 minutes spare between appointments and being nearby, I thought, why not. Eureka Tower is 297.3m high and at the top can sway up to 30cm in each direction.  Must be interesting after a few glasses of bubbles.  Apparently two 300,000 litre water tanks on levels 90 and 91 stop any excess sway. Did The Edge (basically a glass cube that pushes out around 3m from the building, 285m up in the sky) with 3 other people - a lovely, terrified Texan and her "I'm so proud of you honey" hubby and a young visitor from Israel, who was rather intrigued that I was from Melbourne. In fact, I'm pretty sure that apart from those working there, I was the only local up there overlooking our fair city that morning.  I know this because I of course had to stop and chat. Not suffering from vertigo or having a particularly strong fear of heights it was fine. Loved the sound affects, Texan women, wasn't that thrilled by them.   Found looking over towards Docklands at my previous life's office building rather satisfying - mainly because I wasn't in it. Souvenir photo, exit through the gift shop - done - tick!

I've also re-done my First Aid course - so if you've been bitten by a snake, call 000, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and keep still!  Actually it was fun (the course, not being bitten by a snake), we had scenarios with make-up and fake blood.

So between all that, catching up with friends for lunch/coffee going to Bendigo for a weekend, doing a fabulous Greenies Tour with Wayward Wanderers (more to follow), the past 4 weeks have flown.

Bored? No way.  And always make time for a siesta.

Always time for chocolate con churros