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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Melbourne, February 2014

We had a pretty awesome stay in Melbourne. Six nights at the cosmopolitan hotel in St. Kilda. A nice clean retreat in the middle of backpacker central. Luckily we had some friends to catch up with here, and spent most of our time eating bloody good breakfasts, browsing shops, checking out beaches and getting a bit over excited about meeting our friends' 18 week old ridgeback cross puppy. 

We managed to land in Melbourne right in time for the St. Kilda festival. We spent our Saturday night on Fitzroy Street with friends. An Italian meal followed by a couple of live funk bands and a few more drinks at The Prince. Sunday was the big festival day. Family friendly and alcohol free, supposedly. With our hotel right on the fringes of the festival, we had a chilled out day wandering around, with the odd beer break back at the hotel. A break from the heat in an alcohol permitting area of St. Kilda. 
We headed to the main stage early evening to see The Bamboos play. An Ozzie band  on a Brighton based label that we got to know (musically) via the likes of Quantic Soul Orchestra. Singing with them they had Kylie Auldist and Ella Thompson. We got down to the front for a rather unexpected and awesome mid-holiday gig. On the beach, no less. 

Monday after the festival we caught up with a college friend of mine and her Ozzie boyf for another superb brunch. I wish breakfasts in London were as consistently good. 
Helen has been in Oz for five years now, and although Jon thought she sounded like a Londoner, I heard a very distinctive Ozzie twang. 

Our last day and a half were spent wandering the city. We headed to Gertrude Street to visit a diner I had heard about. Belle's. It was great, milkshakes amazing. But the best place on Gertrude Street was Pickings and Parry. The most hipster shop I've ever seen. All for men unfortunately, but hubby enjoyed it. In the front was very minimalist clothing, some moustache wax and vintage watches. The back hosted a 1950s style barber shop. Not yet up and running when we were there, but it will be now. The owner was a Geordie who had been living in Australia for some time as an engineer who just felt like a change. The rest of the shops on Gertrude Street were equally trendy. For the girls, Leonard St. was pretty cool, if a little over my backpacker budget. 

Our last two nights were amazing. On Monday we were invited to have a kangaroo BBQ at our friends place. An Ozzie experience not to be missed. The roo was cooked to perfection, and we washed it down with (a bit too much) red wine. Our final night began with Mexican an Mamasita's, followed by another great open air cinema. On the rooftop of a city high rise this time, but still with other skyscrapers as a backdrop. 

We closed the night, and our Melbourne trip, with one of the best little places, hidden down a back street. Bar Americana. A tiny place with a retro 1950s feel, specialising in gin. It had tiled walls, vintage cocktail mixing equipment, and a very gin knowledgeable Kiwi bar tender. He'd previously been to London and knew his tube lines, but didn't have an overwhelming love for NZ. 
The rules in bar Americana were simple. No photos. No shirt, no shoes, no service. We got served, but I politely had to resist Instagramming the whole place. All I can say is that if you are in Melbourne, find it!

We woke up at 5.30am on our final morning in Australia with little sleep, gin hangovers and a lot of packing to do at a time of day we weren't fond of seeing. But that's surely how any good holiday end, right?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Moonlight Cinema. Melbourne, February 2014

We arrived in Melbourne in evening rush hour, grubby and exhausted from three days on the great ocean road. With no time to spare, we checked in to our hotel and had a quick change before jumping in a cab to the Moonlight Cinema. 

My brother had given us golden grass tickets as a present, and with the recent passing of Philip Seymore Hoffman, we decided a viewing of The Big Lebowski on our first night in Melbourne would be choice. 

Our cab driver was rubbish. He didn't know where the botanical gardens were, and kept trying to drop us off at random tourist spots before asking a local for directions. We got there eventually, and ran in, hot and bothered, but luckily in time. At the ticket office, a man dousing himself in mossie spray apologised. "Sorry, I'm a Pom" he said. We forgave him and asked if we could steal some spray for ourselves. 

Our golden grass tickets took us to the front section with bean bag seating and waitress service. We'd skipped dinner, so ordered the burger combo and some beers, and sat back in wait of the film. With city skyscrapers in the distance and numerous fruit bats flying over head at dusk, it was a pretty, new and exciting environment. An enchanting welcome to Melbourne, setting a standard for the days to come.. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Grampians & Great Ocean Road, February 2014

This was our first bit of backpacker experience during this trip. Groovy Grape have small busses so you're with a smaller group, which suited us just fine. It seemed to be all Brits and Germans, with an Ozzie or two thrown in for good measure. 

The first half of the trip was the Grampians. Much of the park had been closed due to bush fires, but we did a fairly easy walk on the first day at Halls Pass, and the following morning we got up early for a two hour walk up to the pinnacle. For this walk I noticed how unfit I am. Some of the steep climbs were a bit hard, but overall it was a really enjoyable trek, and the views at the top were stunning. 

In the afternoon we headed to the great ocean road, although for a while there was no coast to be seen. We got to the apostles for sunset and despite it being over run with tourists trying to catch the perfect photo, (us included), it was beautiful. The sun was setting into the sea, changing the colours of the clouds and apostles as it went. 

One of my favourite parts of the trip was the final morning. Loch Ard Gorge. Beautiful. A little cove and beautiful beach named after the Loch Ard ship that shipwrecked there in the 1800s. We got there at 8am and missed the tourist traffic. The most perfect little secluded beach, all to ourselves. (Well almost, a couple of our fellow bus passengers shared it with us). 

The whole of the final day was pretty damn good actually. By 11am we had already been to the beach and wandered around a bit of rainforest. In the afternoon we stopped for photo opportunities at the lighthouse from 'Round the Twist' (awesome), and then later we stopped for some Koala spotting. We saw five in total and they were pretty damn close, too. They looked ridiculously cuddly and soft. 

It was a really good, full on three days. I must have taken a million photos. On our final day we arrived in Melbourne at about 7pm, ready for our next adventure... 

Adelaide City, February 2014

We were in Adelaide City center for one night only. We had an early start the next morning but wanted to see what the place was about. After wandering along Rundel Mall a couple of times, there wasn't really anything that grabbed us.
With my husband being a bit of a wannabe hipster, he googled 'hipster Adelaide' and found a blog mentioning a 'new street in town'. Leigh Street, it said, was the hipster street of Adelaide City. The place where suits and hipsters meet. Well I guess we better check it out then! 

Walking along it literally took a couple of minutes. A tapas bar and a few restaurants greeted us. Japanese, Korean, Thai, Italian. A few bits of street art were dotted around in the side alleys. Pretty cute, but it wasn't the buzzing hub of activity we were hoping for. It was a Monday night, to be fair. 
We went into Udiberry for a drink, which looked like a pretty cool bar, and as we walked in they were playing Al Green - a good start. 

As we sat and took in our surroundings, we realised that this was what made Leigh street hipster. The bar staff were all pretty cool and bearded (obv), and the DJ was a hairy, scruffy guy playing funk on vinyl. Their current on tap beers and ciders were listed on the wall in chalk. We tried a couple before ordering tapas, and noticing that even the chef was geek-chic. A scrawny guy in a check shirt (done up to the top), jeans and apron with a beard and thick rimmed glasses. We liked this place. 
The tapas was delicious, particularly the chorizo, the mushrooms with egg yolk on top and the fish croquettes.
After food we started looking at the bar checking out their selection of rums. A barman approached and basically gave us a class on each of the rums they had - where they were from, how they were made, flavours added, how refined they were. Very impressive.
Seeing as Goslings rum was apparently the reason Dark and Stormys were invented, I had to have it. Goslings also made their own ginger beer especially for the drink. I must find it! In this case they used bundaberg ginger beer instead, which is pretty tasty. Jon sipped on straight Berry's rum, because it's by appointment of the queen, which means it must be good, in his book. 
Pleased with our first rum experience in Oz, we behaved and headed home a little jolly, anticipating out early start the next morning. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Adelaide, February 2014

***At the end of January 2014, my husband and I set off for a nine week adventure in Australia and New Zealand. This is the first post, about our first stop in Adelaide, where we got over our jet lag in the comfort of a family home, with our lovely relatives completely spoiling us... ***

**Sorry for poor formatting. I haven't got used to the blogger iPad app, yet..**

Our first five days in Adelaide were spent staying with relatives in their house on an acre of land in the hills. We were spoilt rotten during our stay as they drove us round to beaches, view points, wineries and islands. Home time was just as good, with hot tubs, home grown veggies, Auntie Jill's swimming pool, air-con and roos in the garden. 

It was nice to arrive in a new country and instantly feel at home. Sally and Stuart were constantly telling us facts and stories about the places we passed or visited, and by the end of our stay I felt like we had a good grasp of their way of life. I was hugely envious of how self sufficient they were. So much so, that on our last morning as I lay in bed at 6am checking emails (jet lag still not passed), I got excited about hearing rain on the roof outside. So excited that I ran out in my pants and vest to see if it was true. Rain at last! 

My highlight of this part of the trip was two fold. One was arriving at one of the prettiest beaches I've ever seen* and us being the only four people on it. It was a Friday, and ridiculously hot, which partly explains it's emptiness, but it was just stunning. 

Part two was on our first full day in Oz, after a long hot day of sightseeing, we returned to the family home and went for an evening stroll around their land. Not only was there a beautiful sun setting over the sea, but in the dusk light, kangaroos were out, hopping around the garden. We saw about seven in total, including one mother with a Joey in her pouch, and another male being followed by a young roo. I didn't really think we'd see them properly in the wild. But that twinned with the sunset was the perfect end to our first day. 

While in Adelaide, the weather was pretty crazy. Not much below 39 degrees at any point. We coped pretty well though. We spent the hottest day, all 44.7 degrees of it, on the beach having a swim. I didn't even burn, and I'm the whitest person I know. 
Most days ended with either a swim in the pool at Auntie Jill's, or a dip in the hot tub at Sally and Stuart's. That's a routine I could get used to...

*The prettiest beach I've ever seen is possibly on the Perinthian Islands in Malaysia. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

My Year in Instagram

Well this year has just flown by and all I've babbled about is my wedding and one lonely song that I fell in love with. Now before I go on to talk about Christmas presents, here's my 2013 highlights in pictures...


1. Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms. 2. Palladium Bridge, Prior Park, Bath. 3. Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms.
4. Priston Mill, Bath. 5. Happy Anniversary Mr Husband To Be! 6. Snowy London

This is literally all I found. Drinks at home. Oh February. 

 1. Adam Buxton's Bug at Odeon Leicester Square. 2. Koko, Camden. 3. Wilko Johnson gig at Koko in Camden. 4. Easter presents from the boy :) 5. Make up trials with Rebecca Marks. 6. Make up! 7. My hen do! First G&T of the trip. 8. Me and lovely bridesmaid Michelle who planned an awesome weekend :) 9. Gilbert the Rat on my hen do

 1. Celebratory drinks at Monikers. 2. Pre-Wedding shoot by Paul Tanner Photography.
3. Drink More Gin! At The Canary gin and wine bar, Bath. 4. Home made J & J for the wedding. 5. The big day! (image from Michelle). 6. First day as a wife. (image from Michelle)


1. Sapporo Beer. 2. Nii-Jima Beach. 3. Green Tea in the morning. 4. Photo booth time! 5. Bullet train. 6. Travelling on the Shinkansen. 7. Trying to find Fuji. 8. Cute train! 9. Kawaii snacks. 10. Cat cafe. 11. Tourists. 12. Shinjuku

 1. Derelict caravan. 2. Fresh crab sandwiches - on our way to Cornwall. 3. Excited about holidays!
4. An awesome wedding vehicle. 5. The chopper ready for exploring. 6. Secret safe full of ridiculously old books. 7. Pretty views along the Camel Trail. 8. Playing badminton on the lawn. 9. A pretty spot for peace and quiet. 10. Pretty flowers. 11. Mother & I. 12. Beached whale sculpture, Greenwich. 13. Melting ice cream sculpture, Greenwich. 14. The best proposal I've ever seen. Along the Regents Canal. 15. Awesome industrial lighting in some hipster bar in Hackney Wick.


1. Michelle & I at our best friend's wedding in Noja, Spain. 2. Photoshoot on the beach. Noja, Spain. 3. Sunset. Noja, Spain.
4. View from the bar. Noja, Spain. 5. Husband & I on the beach. 6. Beautiful summer skies in London. 7. Battersea Power Station as seen by a short person. 8. Murray's semi-final win. 9. Murray with his trophy at the Wimbledon Championships.


1. Church chairs 2. New antic pub 3. Cute anniversary present 4. Amazing food at Polpo
5. Anniversary martinis 6. Cute lights at Polpo 7. Retro guesthouse in Plymouth 8. Amazing wedding in Cornwall. 9. Drinking out of a mug.


1. Vintage drinking, Bourne & Hollingsworth. 2. The big blue cock, Trafalgar Square. 3. In Bruges. 4. Chocolate oranges, Bruges. 5. Pretty canal. 6. Reflections.


1. Green tea ice-cream for two. 2. Beards are in. On the London Eye. 3. More pretty flowers.


1. Getting ready for my first vintage fair. 2. Hubby helping me set up at the Balham Bowls Club. 3. Midnight snack in Brighton. 4. Lovely light on Brighton beach. 5 & 6. Watching the swallows on Brighton Pier.

When you put it like that, I've had a pretty awesome year! And with three weeks of Birthday & Christmas parties ahead of me, I'm feeling rather chuffed. Thanks 2013!