Dare I say it…I may be hitting menopause! I’m approaching that dreaded stage in a woman’s life where we start drying up like the Sahara Desert. I have another 260-ish days before I turn the BIG 4-0…
Source: Menopause Mayhem
Dare I say it…I may be hitting menopause! I’m approaching that dreaded stage in a woman’s life where we start drying up like the Sahara Desert. I have another 260-ish days before I turn the BIG 4-0…
Source: Menopause Mayhem
Dare I say it…I may be hitting menopause! I’m approaching that dreaded stage in a woman’s life where we start drying up like the Sahara Desert. I have another 260-ish days before I turn the BIG 4-0, but the signs are there.
It all went downhill when I turned 30. Just when I’d snagged my better half and was finally getting a regular shag, my metabolism decided to slow down to a snail’s pace. Nine years later, I’ve turned into what looks like the feral offspring of the Michelin man. I’ve become a beached whale. My waistline has been missing in action since 2010. My former size-8 frame has obviously gone to a better place. I picture it sunbathing in some exotic location with a mojito in hand. Forget a 6-pack. You can’t even describe my jelly belly as a muffin top …..I’m shaped like a keg!
I’ve let myself go to the extent that nothing in my wardrobe fits me. I know I need to get off my ass and be more active, but the motivation is simply non-existent. I work up a sweat just watching fitness videos via YouTube. Forget sit-ups or downward dogs, the only exercise I do these days is lifting a Krispy Kreme into my mouth. I’m a couch potato…my bum’s fused to the sofa. I have a yoga mat and a treadmill in the lounge, on the off chance I feel inspired to work out, but most days it’s a Mexican standoff. The tension is palpable, it’s a daily confrontation between me and the exercise equipment. The first who blinks loses (me, hands down – every time!).
Then there’s my emotional eating habits. The roller coaster ride of binging on food when I’m happy, on a downer or bored. Even when I’m tired of eating…I still have this strong craving to drown my sorrows in a packet of Oreos. I have a theory that my hormones are all over the place. These days, I’m not just emotional when Aunt Flo comes to visit every month, it seems to be a weekly thing. At its worse, my hormonal outbursts consists of tears and tantrums, with a few glimpses of laughter in between, almost like four seasons in one day. It’s a vicious cycle. My poor better half doesn’t know whether he’s dealing with Jekyll or Hyde. Lucky for me he has a soft spot for both.
But wait, there’s more. The bazoongas have started to sag…one’s heading east and the other is running in the opposite direction. The jugs aren’t so perky these days, they’ve lost that B-B-Bounce. They need a bit more pep, a little pick me up, maybe a tweak or two? It gets worse. I can’t seem to hold my bladder like I use to. There’s nothing worse than coming home after a night of boozy frivolities and you’re busting to pee! As you accelerate up the driveway (pedal to the metal, full throttle style), I’m simultaneously un-buckling the belt and undoing the pants. I often find myself performing the hot shoe shuffle as I stand at the front door, searching for my keys, saying a silent Hail Mary hoping desperately that the No. 1s can hold it in for two more minutes. By the time I reach the throne, a minor tinkling accident has leaked out.
To top it all off, there are the sweats. There could be a blizzard outside, yet all I want to do is wear is a pair of socks (and only a pair of socks – much to the delight of the better half). My partner is as snug as a bug in a rug, tightly cocooned under the sheets, yet I’m lying on top of the doona sweating like I’m on death row. I could be doing the most mundane of tasks, but I’d be showing tell-tale signs of perspiration. Despite the super strength deodorant I wear, I’m so conscious that the body odour follows me around like a bad stench!
I admit, I’m no spring chicken. I’m certainly not getting any younger, skinnier or prettier. My thirty, flirty and thriving days are coming to an end. As I approach the naughty forties, this swan is fast becoming an old goose!
John Lennon was onto something extraordinary when he wrote Imagine, a song with a simple melody backed by a profound message of peace. Everyday we’re bombarded by tragic news headlines centred on t…
John Lennon was onto something extraordinary when he wrote Imagine, a song with a simple melody backed by a profound message of peace.
Everyday we’re bombarded by tragic news headlines centred on terrorist acts, wars, murders and mass shootings. The 24/7 rolling coverage showing violent and horrific crimes headed by the worst of humanity are all aimed to generate anger, create fear and overwhelm us with despair.
These racially charged attacks against innocent lives are further fuelling the simmering hatred and the growing tension between different ethnic groups, doing more to antagonise and divide people based on bigotry and race. Which leads me to the question, why can’t we all just get along?
I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. So, I won’t attempt to explore this subject matter with an in depth analysis. Instead, I’ll take a boofhead friendly approach in assessing this issue. Firstly, I’d like to use our canine companions as an example of tolerance. Dogs are oblivious to factors such as an individual’s gender, sexuality, heritage, religion or even the football team their owners’ follow. The truth is, dogs don’t care whether we’re black, white, rich, poor, young, old or where we stand on the social hierarchy. Instead, dogs look up to us like the sun shines out of our arses, without any form of prejudice.
I’m not suggesting that we all bend down and sniff each other’s nether regions but dogs are unconditionally loyal. They love us just as we are, free of judgement or any preconceived notions based on our social, racial, ethnic or religious status. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the rest of humanity in a similar light?
Let’s dig a little deeper with this topic. Is racism inherent in people or is racial intolerance a learned behaviour? Visit a crèche for toddlers (preferably in a multicultural setting as an added bonus)…..you’ll notice a childcare centre is like the United Nations, albeit, with a playground. I’m amazed at how young children form budding friendships with other rug rats without any hint of cultural or ethnic bias. These pre-schoolers can barely talk, let alone understand each other, but it doesn’t stop them from having fun and enjoying each other’s company. I truly believe that any form of discrimination is an action or conduct that’s taught or learned from what we see, hear and experience amongst the people we encounter.
If we all took a step back and look into the eyes of our babies, young children or man’s best friend, with Lennon’s Imagine playing in the background (and a cheeky drink in hand), the world might actually learn a lesson or two about peace and love.
Imagine a world without borders, where we didn’t have labels that defined our race, cultural background, religious beliefs, social status, our gender or sexual preferences, lifestyle etc. Instead, it was one planet where we assimilated with each other, did more to understand one another, found means to embrace our differences and accept diversity, and developed greater cohesion or mateships as oppose to attacking our neighbour.
We’d soon recognise that we all have similar needs, desires, hopes and dreams. Regardless of who we are, where we come from or which side of the fence we sit on, we share the same fears, frustration, anger, sadness and despair…but it’s the barriers we build (whether geographical, physical or emotional) that divide us. It’s time to break the barriers and come together, right now, to unite as one.
Like Lennon, I may view the world through rose-coloured glasses, but I’m not the only one.
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
Writer(s): John Lennon
Producer(s): John Lennon Yoko Ono Phil Spector
That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion… I’m lost, confused and disillusioned. Nothing makes sense to me about God or religion anymore. These days, I find myself que…
Source: Losing My Religion
That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…
I’m lost, confused and disillusioned. Nothing makes sense to me about God or religion anymore. These days, I find myself questioning the very values and belief system that was once at the core of my existence.
I’ve reached a crossroad in my life and now I sit on the fence when it comes to my faith. I’m probably more of a doubter than a believer and more agnostic than an atheist. I’m plagued by guilt and fear of going to hell (and my hair can’t stand the heat)! It’s the one principle stopping me from being more definitive about my opinion on whether God exists or not.
I was raised a Catholic, attended church every Sunday, prayed most nights (to be a supermodel – never happened) and was surrounded by a devoutly Christian family. But the world, the people I’ve immersed myself with and personal experiences has taught me more about how to live a loving, positive life than the dogma that dominated my upbringing.
Sadly, religion doesn’t always unite people. In a lot of instances, religious conviction divides families, communities, even nations around the world (more than a soccer game in the UEFA league). We witness every night on television the effects of hatred caused by extremist beliefs. Who’s to say one religion is more ‘right’ or ‘better’ than the other. At the end of the day, whatever floats your boat. But faith could be the biggest bunch of bollocks ever, up there with the Kardashians and Donald Trump.
Every religion has elements of brainwashing or a cult like hold over its members. The moment you lose your right to freedom of choice as a result of religious persuasion is a violation to human rights. Life throws curve balls at you every day, therefore every individual has the right to make rational and logical decisions based on their own circumstance as oppose to the teachings of systematic indoctrination. Let’s face it, “the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some”.
I’ve learned to keep an open mind, not to judge people based on whether they’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Scientologists, Pastafarians, Collingwood supporters etc It’s not your beliefs that make you a good person, it’s your actions and behaviour. You can go to church, a mosque, synagogue or temple as often as you like; read the Bible, the Torah or the Quran daily, but it doesn’t mean you’re more righteous or virtuous than a person who attends the footy every weekend. My theory is, how you’ve inspired and encouraged those around you, your integrity, kindness, generosity, patience, understanding and the love you’ve demonstrated will have a huge impact on others, and consequently will be your lasting legacy. Ultimately, it’s how you respect and treat people that matters.
‘Losing My Religion’
Writer(s): Bill Berry Peter Buck Mike Mills Michael Stipe
Producer(s): Scott Litt R.E.M.
Source: The Vibe 101 Gets A Logo!
Wouldn’t it be amazing to travel the world, sample cuisine from the finest restaurants and to write about your adventures from the most exotic cities of the globe? Well, Anthony Bourdain is living …
Source: The Wright Impact
Melbourne is a vibrant, urban metropolis of skyscrapers, giant structures towering upwards to dizzying heights. The heart and soul of the city is a concrete jungle of high-rise commercial and residential buildings constructed in a fusion of architectural styles, which suits Melbourne’s evolving cosmopolitan landscape.
Below are a selection of Melbourne’s most noted skyscrapers:
Standing at a height of 300 metres, Eureka Towers is one of the world’s tallest residential structures, consisting of 576 apartments in addition to office, retail and hospitality facilities.
120 Collins Street
Designed in collaboration with Hassell Architects and Daryl Jackson, this 53-storey landmark echoes characteristics of art deco architecture, including a central mast and setbacks similar to New York’s Empire State Building.
101 Collins Street
Located at the ‘Paris’ end of Melbourne, 101 Collins is a monument epitomising style and class. The building facade is accentuated with glass buttresses, while the focal point within the interior are the travertine columns and…
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Hello. It’s only me. Is there anybody out there? Can anyone hear me? I’m on the flip side of heaven, the other side of hell. I’m existing in no man’s land of purgatory, languishing in limbo, slowly wasting away the days through constant stormy weather. Suffering under dark clouds hovering over me, a downpour of rainy days and relentless winter blues.
Does someone else feel my pain or understand the fear and anxiety that tortures my head on a daily basis? I pray to a God that I barely have faith in, in the faint hope that someone or something out there in the universe hears my cry for help. I simply just wish for my luck to change.
I’m sick of pretending to be in a happy place when in all honesty, I’m breaking down and falling apart on the inside. I’m lost and disillusioned. I’m losing the race and close to giving up. I have no strength to keep fighting this battle.
Life is passing me by at such lightning speed while my own tiny sphere has stalled. I don’t fit in within this ‘dog eat dog’ world. I want to scream, I want to shout, but there’s no one to turn to. I want to cry, but I’ve run out of tears. I’m running on empty and my soul is broken.
I wish things were different. I yearn for my life to finally head in the right direction. I’d love to get back on track, for my hopes to go to plan and for my dreams to come true. I miss that feeling that anything was possible…that I can conquer the world.
I just want to be happy….
Have a little faith, this post is not focused on any religion. Instead, the post is a visual tour of some of Melbourne’s most architecturally acclaimed churches. Praised for their majestic design, these houses of worship will enlighten you with their grandness and history.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Designed by William Wilkinson Wardell, St Patrick’s Cathedral is a prime example of Gothic-Revival design. Located on the edge of the city grid, the structure is laid out in the style of a Latin cross, incorporating a nave with side aisles, transepts flanked by side aisles, a sanctuary including seven chapels positioned in a chevet around it, and sacristies.
A cross six metres in height sits atop of the main spire. The pinnacles of the Cathedral tower upwards, representing heaven above, while the gargoyles perched around the church are trademark features befitting the Gothic aesthetic.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral represents the signature style of ne0-Gothic transitional architecture. Designed by William Butterfield, the cathedral consists of three giant spires, with the…
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Flinders Street Station
I love Melbourne, a city that is defined for its vibrant atmosphere, a passion for sport and a hub for fine food, wine and great coffee, often embraced through its cafe culture.
As a tourist destination and from an architectural perspective, what is quintessentially Melbourne? Nothing else epitomises Melbourne more than the following landmarks, which form the very fabric of this fine city: Flinders Street Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Rialto Towers, the GPO, the Arts Centre, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Luna Park and Melbourne Star.
Flinders Street Station
Built in 1910, Flinders Street Station is the heart of a comprehensive railway network in Melbourne. The facade of this iconic structure was a result of a worldwide design competition awarded in 1900 to JW Fawcett and HPC Ashworth.
Shrine of Remembrance
Constructed between 1928-1934, the Shrine of Remembrance was built in honour of the men and women of Victoria who served in the First World War. The structure is…
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Like most cosmopolitan cities around the world, Melbourne is characterised for its concrete jungles, dominated by modern skyscrapers with shimmery glass facades. But scattered amongst these contemporary structures are buildings noted for their classic architecture.
The very fabric of Melbourne consists of heritage listed buildings, recognised for their historical, cultural and architectural significance. This post is a visual exploration of some of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks including the Royal Exhibition Building, Parliament House, the State Library of Victoria, the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Old Treasury Building, and the Melbourne Town Hall. Each of these structures have a common thread, the very essence of their construction is linked to their traditional charm and majestic designs.
The majority of these landmarks (such as Parliament House, the State Library, Supreme Court and Old Treasury Building) were constructed during the Victorian era, a period that saw a renewed focus towards classical renaissance architecture. The classical aesthetic is characterised for central pediments, a Corinthian style portico, Ionic columns and grand archways.
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Frank Gehry is a trailblazer in contemporary design, often considered as one of the most highly acclaimed architects of the 20th century. An iconic genius in post-modern architecture, Gehry thrives in pushing the boundaries with his complex, avant garde concepts. Gehry’s bold structures rebels against the status quo, shifting away from the paradigm that ‘form follows function’.
As a proponent of the deconstructivsm movement, Gehry’s projects are defined for their striking profiles, mixed with undulating layers of elements, resulting in structural facades that are both complex and bold. His style of producing abstract constructions are combined with his use of malleable metal finishes juxtaposed against more traditional building components like concrete or bricks.
Gehry portfolio of projects are characterised for their use of unconventional materials, incorporating structural elements manipulated to produce rippled forms and irregular shapes. Although Gehry’s creative vision was inspired by the DeCon architectural style, the silhouettes of his spectrum of famous landmarks mixes a new age revival of cubism and futuristic aesthetics.
Below are a snapshot…
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Who said country style was dated? Certainly not the hosts behind the hit lifestyle show Fixer Upper, featuring the husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines. The dynamic duo are the creative minds behind several major renovation overhauls. They turn run down, dilapidated homes into farmhouse chic.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. With Chip’s construction expertise and Joanna’s creative vision, they can upgrade any beat-up rickety old property into a home that exudes southern charm and comfort. The pair are bold enough to take on any property, regardless of its condition, and transform the house with a fresh facelift and an interior makeover. While most buyers would view such dwellings as a money pit and shy away from such projects, Chip and Joanna see nothing but potential.
Joanna’s aesthetic is characterized for its modern, country style chic. Her passion for vintage fixtures, unique flea-market pieces and up-cycled…
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Melbourne’s central business district is renown for its eclectic mix of architectural styles. The cityscape is blanketed with skyscrapers, featuring shimmering façades and rectangular block silhouettes, a trend that dominated the 80s era. These post-modern forms are nestled cohesively together with heritage structures typified by Romanesque and neo-classical designs, linking back to Australia’s federation period.
Since the millennium, a greater movement towards contemporary architecture have eclipsed the city and its surrounds. The following is a small selection of landmarks and commercial buildings that stand out for their edgy, distinct and innovative style.
NAB Building – Docklands
Royal Children’s Hospital
Melbourne Theatre Centre
Swanston Academic Building
A six hour drive north west of Melbourne is the regional town of Mildura. Positioned along the banks of the mighty Murray River, Mildura is renowned for its sunburned earth and sweeping scrub-land intertwined with native flora and fauna, typifying the Australian heartland.
One of the highlights of the area are the paddle steamers that cruises leisurely down the Murray. Another attraction is The Botanical Gardens, an ideal setting to stop and smell the roses.
Like many country towns, time ticks a wee bit slower in this region of Victoria. Mildura is a close knit community whereby people go out of their way to have a good yarn and say ‘G’day!’. The city embodies a laid back vibe which allows you to appreciate the beauty in the simple pleasures of life.
At night, I would lie in bed wishing I was anyone but me, praying my life would end to avoid facing the following day. I couldn’t think straight and I felt there wasn’t a way out of my situation. The constant negativity at work mirrored the endless pessimism pounding my head. My spirit had been completely deflated to a point where I just wanted to run and hide from the rest of the world in an effort to numb the agony. The darkness that haunted me was now coupled with severe anxiety. I struggled sleeping, I’d often endure nightmares, waking up in a cold sweat, my chest tightening. Having to deal with work caused panic attacks, making breathing difficult. Yet, I had to hide my fear, meet and greet editors, publishers, graphic designers, copyrighters, photographers and clients with a forced smile on my face, knowing in my mind I was ready to break down and crumble.
The walls were closing in and the burden was increasingly too heavy to shoulder. In the end I quit. But the relief was only short lived when inevitably, I had to confront the reality of finding another job. I could barely function with the day-to-day routine of living. Getting changed, showering, brushing my hair, doing the groceries – simple tasks were all too hard. I avoided going out. I wanted to isolate myself from friends, family and the entire outside world. If I gathered enough courage to venture out, I would stare at the pavement and avoid any eye contact with other people. I didn’t want anyone to see right through me and the shame, embarrassment, or the failure that I felt I was. I internalised my fears, buried them deep within, trying in vain to erase the dark memories of the past in order to move forward.
After several months of being housebound, struggling silently in my own inner demons, I eventually garnered enough strength to return back into the workforce. The process took numerous therapy sessions, supplemented with medication, to manage my thought processes and to minimize the negativity controlling and dominating my mind. I was encouraged to exercise to force myself to step outside the home and practiced meditation in order to relax. After some contemplation, I opted for a simpler role with less responsibilities at an up and coming public relations firm, to help ease myself back into the corporate jungle. Despite the fact that the job doesn’t have the high-flyer status or the glamourous perks of my previous position, I am more content. Go figure!
My saving grace is my current partner. If it wasn’t for him, my life would be empty. He’s supported me throughout this journey. His patience, kindness, generosity and love has carried me through the toughest of times. I take each day one step at a time. Every day is a mountain I climb and conquer. I sometimes have to write a ‘To Do’ list of basic chores which act as motivational steps to soldier on. My condition is still managed with daily medication and I cope with the ‘blues’ with the occasional therapy session. However, I am one of the lucky few. Sadly, there are many out there who suffer depression significantly worse under more severe circumstances than me and my heart goes out to them. The thing is, you’re not alone. One of the initial things to do is to acknowledge something is wrong, but harder still, is having the strength to seek immediate support and to keep moving forward and to battle through the daily demons. On a positive note, there is HELP out there.
** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:
I’ve known Lisa since we were immature, pre-pubescent kids running amok in primary school. On the outside, Lisa is an articulate, bubbly girl who oozes confidence and charm. With her classic good looks and a glamorous job in advertising, she had what seemed to be an envious life that involved overseas trips and socialising and networking with high flyers of the corporate world. But her smile was a façade that hid a painful secret which she only recently revealed. Lisa suffers from depression. This is her journey….
Depression is a dark shadow that stalks my everyday existence. The paralysing feeling of hopelessness is like a sombre mood that constantly lingers over me. From the time I was 16, I had noticed that I didn’t have the strength to cope with the curve balls that life threw my way. However, as the years passed, my inner struggles only worsened as I faced the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing a career in public relations, being hit with financial pressures and the heart ache of rocky relationships. I hit rock bottom in late 2001 and the depth of despair was beyond overwhelming.
Initially, I associated my mood swings with the highs and lows of growing pains during my teens. Unrequited love, peer pressure, the awkwardness of puberty, teenage angst and rebelliousness culminated in a roller coaster ride of emotions which I could usually dismiss and move on from. Yet, by the time I began university, the stress of perfection, exceeding parental expectations, my obsessive desire to succeed academically but never quite reaching my goals caused further strain on my already low self-esteem. It was the point when I first realised I needed professional help. But after two visits to a psychologist, the embarrassment was too much to stomach given the taboo linked with sufferers of mental illness.
Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos
** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:
“The mission of an architect is to help people understand how to make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give reason, rhyme and meaning to life.” Frank Lloyd Wright
When you think of world renowned architects, one of the most prominent of the modern era is that of Frank Lloyd Wright. As a celebrated icon, Wright challenged the norms of contemporary design, championing the Prairie School of Architecture typified by structures incorporating linear silhouettes with organic forms. A visionary, Wright’s forward thinking creativity steered a design movement towards open plan concepts – where rooms flowed and opened into one another – a practice that was rapidly adopted within residential and commercial developments. This innovative layout inevitably shaped the way we engaged within our immediate surroundings, breaking down physical barriers and increasing human interaction. Wright’s signature aesthetic was inspired by his…
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Over the course, we presented projects which pushed us to express our creativity in a tactile form, bringing concepts to life through layers of fabric, contrasting patterns, colours, materials, accessories, and integrating various elements of negative and positive space, silhouettes and contours. The combination of which aimed to connect with the heart and soul of its intended client. Each concept was backed by a narrative, a source of inspiration, turning a creative vision into reality.
The course challenged my mind. I was forced to think outside the square, to view the world at different angles, to see life through different perspectives. Each project we undertook was designed to engage individuals to see a deeper meaning behind colours, texture, contrast, lines, dots and shapes.
There were many occasions I wanted to quit. I dug deep and I worked my arse off. Slowly, I adjusted to the routine of university life, of lectures, tutorials, homework and assignments. I immersed myself in the world of Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe. I took a trip down the rabbit hole to discover the history behind styles ranging from Art Deco, Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Baroque, Victorian, Edwardian, Queen Anne, Arts & Craft movement, Rococo, Neo Classic, Scandinavian genres. I learned that 5 Seconds of Summer was not a new-age, hipster term for a ‘quickie’ horizontal rhumba session. More importantly, world issues centred on Justin Bieber or One Direction according to the tween generation (One who??).
Yep, art and design is not black and white – there’s 50 shades of grey and a rainbow of other hues in between. Even today’s learning environment is a whole new world. Back in the late 90s when I was a pimply faced teenager attending Monash University, e-mail was still in its infancy and Facebook wasn’t even a blip on the radar! We’re talkin’ the days of dial-up, when you stared at the modem as it whirred to connect to the internet. Now I’m faced with terms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler and blogs. Floppy disks have been replaced by USB sticks and who needs a library of books when Google is at your fingertips?
Image Source: http://arcid.uclaextension.edu/miaprogram-2/
However old habits die hard. Despite my age and wisdom, some things just never change. The student lifestyle of two-minute noodles for dinner, leaving assignments to the last minute, staying up till 3am preparing for exams and losing work because your PC crashed – is still a trap for an old goose like myself!
After two years of highs and lows, the course culminated in a class exhibition attended by family, friends, teachers and noted designers and architects within industry. Achieving your dreams was never going to be easy – No guts, no glory. Fortunately the hard work paid off. There were definitely several tantrums, a few meltdowns and a number of sooki la la moments. But I survived. I even surprised myself with the results. I started from scratch with no artistic background, just a pipe dream from my childhood. But you’re never too old to learn something new.
Self-doubt is a bitch. It’s like an irritating rash or a pungent odour that won’t go away! Going back to university was met with apprehension. One week into my course in interior design, I was already having second thoughts. Was I nuts pursuing a career change? Was I delusional chasing my dream of becoming a decorator? Had I made a foolish mistake? These questions pounded my head like a tonne of bricks!
The semester began in July 2013 and kicked off with a week of Orientation. I had butterflies in my stomach as I looked around the room, to be greeted by people half my age! During the ‘meet & greet’ period, one of the guys pointed out that he’d just returned from Hawaii. To break the ice, I started humming the Hawaii-5-O theme song and they stared at me blankly, with utter confusion. I could hear crickets sounding off in the background. I felt my face turn red with embarrassment. My attempt to act cool and bond with the youth of today was an epic fail and backfired dismally. Seriously, I felt like a senior citizen!
Our third day was a guided tour of the National Gallery of Victoria. The group stopped at various iconic collections and exhibits. One of them titled “The Angry Mask” appeared like a three year old smeared a spectrum of paint colours blind folded. I didn’t get it….how could this be considered art? A dog’s breakfast had more appeal than this.
Image Source: http://blogs.uclaextension.edu/Newsroom/photo-gallery/
At one point I was asked to describe what I saw in front of me. It was Mark Rothko’s work, aptly called ‘Untitled (Red)’, a massive rectangular canvas in three slightly varying shades of….wait for it….red. I was dumbfounded. After an awkward moment of silence, the curator rescued me from confusion. To her, the piece exhibited a rhythm of emotion in its rawest form – doom, tragedy and despair. Huh? Are you for real??? Watching paint dry would display more feeling than this. I was way in over my head!!!
Yep, it didn’t take me long to realise that I was totally behind the 8-ball. I jumped in the deep end and I was barely treading water. I initially thought that interior decorating was limited to styling a room with furniture and accessories. I quickly discovered there’s critical thinking behind every design scheme.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight….Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh I was in my own world happily singing this cute little ditty while the better half and I trekked off to Werribee Open Range Zoo on Australia Day. The lyrics played over and over in my head until the mere male asked me, “did you bring the tickets?” Eeeeeeek! The light in my brain suddenly flicked back on. Bugger me!
Of all the things to forget, it would have to be the admission vouchers! I slammed the breaks and begrudgingly hightailed it back home. Not quite the start I was expecting. What would The Lion King’s very own Timon and Pumbaa say if they were in a pickle like this? ‘Hakuna Matata’ of course, no worries! I looked on the bright side of the situation, we were only four kilometres into our one hour journey. It could’ve been a lot worse, so all was not lost.
Victoria’s own Werribee Open Range Zoo is a wildlife park and is the closest I’ll get to experiencing an African adventure. The ultimate way to traverse through the grounds and witness the menagerie of animals on the premises is to go on a safari tour.
The bus tour lasts just under an hour and runs at regular 10-15 minute intervals. The mini sightseeing expedition enables you to get relatively close to Zebras, Camels, Giraffes, Hippos, and Rhinoceros just to name a few. During the short ride, the driver gives you an insight into the animal’s habitat, their quirky behaviours and basic facts and figures about the traits of each species.
As per the walking trail that meanders past each animal exhibit, the bus tour is convenient for young and old and provides ramps for greater accessibility – ideal for kids in strollers, or those with disabilities or in wheelchairs. For something a little more adventurous, some guided tours allows you access into more off-limit areas of the park, even the opportunity to feed or touch some animals under the guidance of keepers.
It’s a wonderful facility that’s maintained to a high standard to ensure the animals’ safety and well-being. They aren’t kept in cramped enclosures, instead the animals roam freely within wide open fields similar to their natural habitats. One day is sufficient time to leisurely visit each animal exhibit. Although Melbourne Zoo has significantly more animals on display, its walking tracks are plotted out like a web and certainly aren’t as easy to navigate around as compared to the grounds of Werribee Zoo.
Don’t forget to plan your day. Feeding time is the best opportunity to see the animals in action, you can get best vantage points in selected viewing areas. There is a canteen and kiosk, sheltered picnic areas and kids zones with playgrounds. It’s been 20 years since the last time I visited. It’s well worth seeing!!!
Each time I was single and ready to mingle, I was on a mission, I was out on the prowl, hovering over my prey. I use to go clubbing with work mates despite the fact that I could barely bust a move. It was a competition. Booze was a social lubricant – it made men brave and women loose. But we all know that a bad set of beer goggles can really fog up your senses. I remember one bloke performing the robot dance beside me, totally cramping my style – I thought I was just too good for him. Next!
I struggled to string an interesting funny articulate sentence together let alone chat up a guy. I was awkward and socially inept. Ultimately, I felt so desperate that I fell for any guy who wanted my number – don’t get me wrong, they weren’t queuing up for me. I was a loser magnet. In the end, there is such a thing as karma. For every wonderful guy I casually dismissed, I had my heart broken and stomped on just as many times. For most, I was disposable, a notch on the belt. The way to a man’s heart wasn’t through his stomach. It was through cheap one night stands, a few bootie calls and zero commitment.
By the time I hit my flirty 30 years, I saw my friends get engaged, walk down the aisle and start families. I was doomed. It’s hard to go out when all your wingmen are stuck at home looking after their partners, living my dream. My biological clock was ticking louder than a supersonic jet. There’s a line in the flick Sleepless in Seattle that women over 40 have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than finding a husband1. With my track record, I was set to prove this theory.
In hindsight, I was shallow and superficial. I was so consumed by a guy’s looks rather than their personality. Looks fade, but what a man shares from the heart lasts forever. You get what you give. I realised, the problems weren’t always with the guys, the problem was ME. I had no self-esteem, I lowered my standards so much that I compromised my own integrity. I validated my self-worth by having a guy who in all honesty, just screwed me over. I lost all respect for myself and in effect, I was attracting guys who didn’t respect me. Enough was enough!
Love happens when you least expect it. It’s TRUE! I met my soulmate just over six years ago. He doesn’t look like Brad Pitt but he makes me laugh….everyday he makes me laugh! He loves my cooking even though I’m not a domestic goddess in the kitchen. He thinks I’m pretty even though I don’t scrub up as well as a Victoria’s Secret super model. It doesn’t bother him that I can’t hold a tune during Karaoke. He makes my life blissfully happy. Nothing else matters as long as he’s by my side. He’s my rock…I think he’s a keeper!
When it comes to relationships and dating, is it quality over quantity or vice versa? According to a recent study, women will kiss 15 men on average before they settle for that ‘one great love’1. Based on those statistics, I should hang my head in shame. I can count with one hand the number of guys I’ve pashed, and this figure already includes the boy I forced to kiss me when we were 5 years old playing ‘mothers and fathers’! Eeek!
During my footloose and fancy free years, I had a set of criteria, a list as long as The Great Wall of China, and like Santa I checked it twice. If the guy didn’t reach my standards I fobbed them off like there was no tomorrow. I wanted sexy, suave, sophisticated, financially stable, ambitious, smart, caring, honest, romantic, sense of humour blah blah blah. My needs went on and on like a Celine Dion song. If there was no chemistry, too bad so sad, onto the next. Nice guys came and went. Looking back, I was holding out for perfection….something that obviously does NOT exist.
In between short-lived flings, I experienced dry patches more barren than the Sahara Desert. At one point, I had my mother’s friends arranging dates with their sons. I think one of my friends felt so sorry for me, she tried to hook me up with every single guy she knew was on the market. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that one of the guys she lined me up with was ‘batting for the other team’. Bless her cotton socks – her intentions were good. I was so scared of becoming an old spinster, I knew something had to give. I resorted to drastic measures……I lowered my expectations.
**Keep an eye out for the conclusion of this tale in the next post!**
Finding true love is like searching for a needle in a haystack. I’m sure a few of us had to pash a few frogs before we captured our very own Prince Charming. I always dreamt of being swept off my feet but I confess, I met some toads along the journey before I found ‘The One’. The quest for true love is a rollercoaster ride and sadly not all relationships end happily ever after. Even fairy-tales are plagued with legends of rocky roads to romance – Snow White got poisoned, Sleeping Beauty was put to sleep and Cinderella lost one of her Jimmy Choo shoes (yikes!) – before each hooked up with their knight in shining armour. Let’s face it, love isn’t black and white, there’s 50 shades of grey in between!
One of our dearest friends recently announced his separation with his wife of over a year. I was rocked by the news. Apparently “Miss Cruella De Ville” had simply lost that loving feeling. I always thought she was hard work, a high maintenance, self-centred, pompous twat. How could this happen to such a lovely guy who catered to her every whim? The idea of ‘forever’ – is this somewhat of a myth in this day and age? It got me thinking, what if it happened to me? What if my better half woke up one morning to realise that only a crazy fool would be mad enough to put up with a drama queen like me?
It’s like one of those profound questions Carrie Bradshaw would ask at the beginning of each Sex In The City episode. To go through the journey again of finding that ‘one great love’ gave me goosebumps and sent shivers down my spine for all the wrong reasons. It’s hard enough trying to mend a broken heart but to hit the singles scene again – I’d be mortified!
I’m still scarred by my dating history – or lack thereof. The list was short but the tears were many. Some experiences left me cringing with humiliation. To this day, I don’t think I’ve recovered! From the time I was young, I was never one to stand out in the crowd. Even my first crush at grade 3 ignored me for a red head with freckles. But he did dance with me at my primary school graduation – I was so nervous, I almost peed my pants!
It only got worse in high school. For four years, I had the hots for ‘Mr. Wonderful’. He was handsome, funny and athletic. I’d stare longingly at him. But he didn’t know I existed. Whenever he’d strike up conversation with me I’d just stutter and turn into a blubbering idiot. I’d go weak at the knees wishing the world would swallow me up from embarrassment. Unrequited love is a bitch and it was the story of my existence throughout my teenage years.
I was such a wallflower. What’s worse, I was painfully shy, with zero personality. I wasn’t a tall, sexy, blue-eyed blonde bombshell. In stark contrast, I was a geeky nerd who was never in the popular group and whose name no guy could remember. Yep, I was THAT girl in high school who never got asked out. By my late teens, I was destined to be the oldest virgin in the world who’d never been touched, kissed or oomphed!
It’s true. I have a style obsession! I have an instinctive flair for all things fabulously chic, whether it’s fashion, photography, art to architecture. I’m a visual person. Comfort and functionality? Blah, blah, blah – boring! But if it’s eye catching, on trend, with a dash of wow, you’ll have me salivating – and I have no shame!
On the flip side, I’m a space cadet with no artistic talent or skill to create my own masterpiece. This applies to interior decorating. I know what I like, but I struggle at pulling together a look that has panache, you know, what the French call a little ‘je ne sais quoi’. Instead, I’m living my designer dreams through the growing number of home makeover programs that I’m highly fixated with.
Where do I begin? Sarah Richardson (Design Inc, Sarah 101, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service), Candice Olson (Divine Design, Candice Tells All), Samantha Pynn (Summer Home), Genevieve Gorder (Dear Genevieve), Jane Lockhart (Colour Confidential), Robert and Cortney Novogratz (9 By Design, Home By Novogratz). I also have to add Shaynna Blaze (Selling Houses Australia, The Block) into the mix for some home grown Aussie talent. Overall, the list is long but distinguished. These people are all visionaries, who bring their ingenuity to life.
Each of their respective programs gives you in depth look into the world of interior design, including the highs and lows of home renovations. With their extensive knowledge and creative talent, they rescue humble abodes from the depths of design distress to breathe new life into any type of home. Using innovative and contemporary solutions, they combine both function and beauty to reveal a room’s true potential. These designers have produced several awe-inspiring room transformations, converting a home from drab to fab, while incorporating the contrasting styles and requirements of their clients to achieve a balanced, cohesive look. No challenge is too big!
Below is an insight into the signature design aesthetic of the creative minds behind some of the most entertaining home makeover programs as screened on the Lifestyle Home network:
If money grew on trees, I’d love to incorporate their design concepts within my own humble abode. I can only dream to have any of these designers weave their magic and transform my home, with its modest décor, to one of sumptuous class and sophistication. I’d love to colour my world with their infinite ingenuity! It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
A big shout out to all our avid followers and new readers who have recently discovered this eclectic blog about anything and everything. We have great news – you can now follow The Vibe 101 via Facebook! To view The Vibe’s new Facebook site, simply go to our Home Page and near the top right hand corner, click The Vibe 101 Facebook link. Beneath this link, press the ‘Like’ button to jump onto The Vibe 101 bandwagon and keep up to date with our latest posts. Alternatively, click the ‘like’ button (designated by the ‘thumbs up’ symbol) on our Facebook page, situated below the cover photo on the right hand side.
The Vibe 101 was created by a passionate writer (well, that’s how I see myself), who finally unleashed her creative spirit! Launched on August 14, 2012, the blog re-ignited my artistic mojo. I go through bursts of fervour, but once I’m in the zone, I can easily immerse myself in my writing and you’d struggle to snap me out of it.
As stated in an earlier post titled “Beautiful Blogger Award”, though I’m far from prolific, writing has always been a passion of mine. One of my goals was to publish a children’s picture book but after a year at trying, with a mix of silence and rejection from a number of publishers, the bubble burst. Though I had an airy-fairy dream to become the next J.K. Rowling, I landed on my face with a giant thud! I failed, but I haven’t given up on the idea completely.
It sounds so cliché but the moral is to have a go, give it your best, pick yourself up and try again….and again….and again…..maybe approach things differently? There are a myriad of paths to follow that could lead towards your hopes and aspirations. For me, I’ve continued to pursue my lofty ambition through this blog. It’s a pet project that comes from the heart and is crafted with a dash of enthusiasm. It’s what I love and what I enjoy!
My ultimate goal is for GLOBAL DOMINATION of course! Ok, we’re far from meeting the giddy heights of this target. Ideally, I’d just like to connect with as many people as possible here in the land of Oz, or around the world. It’s such a thrill receiving positive comments from followers and knowing that others out there enjoy reading my quaint pieces. It’s as enjoyable as writing, developing and publishing each post. So don’t hesitate to continue spreading the love by sharing the pieces with your own family and friends and re-posting the articles through your WordPress blog or Facebook.
In addition to the blogosphere, Facebook is a great medium to extend The Vibe’s own social network. The Vibe’s Facebook page will be a lot more fluid than the blog itself, allowing me to easily post inspirational quotes, thoughts of the day, catchy lyrics or amusing pictures. The blog will continue to focus on my reflections of quirky experiences, the simple pleasures in life and everything in between. Over time I’d love to broaden my writing skills and see The Vibe 101 evolve and reinvent itself to more sharp, witty, thought provoking posts, maybe a little hard hitting journalism? Till then, this new phase in The Vibes short existence will help keep the blog up to speed in the social savvy 21st century.
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You can’t argue with the saying that canines are “a man’s best friend” (and equally a woman’s). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the bond shared between people and their dogs is special. I can knowingly say this based on the unconditional love we’ve experienced with our four legged buddy – Winston the Wonder Dog!
Winston is our nine year old Chihuahua x Pomeranian, who oozes personality, spunk and charisma. But Winston is more than just a pretty face. For a canine he exudes impeccable taste in quality TV programming. In fact, one of his favourite pastimes is cuddling up beside me on the couch to watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Keeping up With The Kardashians or The Bold & The Beautiful together. It’s fair to say that we’ve bonded over our love of talk shows, reality TV series and daytime soaps. Despite what my better half thinks, Winston would rather watch grass grow than sit through a season of football or cricket on TV!
Winston’s other passion is to keep people company. He has the ability to put a smile on my face when I’m feeling a little ho hum. He’ll roll on his back with his paws up in the air for a tummy rub, or curl up at my feet and keep my tootsies toasty warm. If I’m struggling for inspiration, he’ll often nestle up against me while I’m working on the laptop and just his presence will perk me up. Eventually the cheekiness kicks in. He’ll interrupt my train of thought by nudging his head under my hand as a reminder to scratch under his chin. Alternatively, he’ll walk all over the keyboard just for a smidge of attention.
Winston loves attention. I may be bias but I reckon he’s a star in the making. Deep down, I think my better half enjoys walking him for the simple reason that Winston is such a chick magnet. Let’s face it, Winston’s a people dog! People are naturally drawn to him and he always laps up the affection he receives from random strangers. He’d never make a great guard dog. Guests at our humble abode are generally licked to death and if you dangle food in front of him, Win would be putty in your hands!
In addition to his playfulness, Winston also has a protective nature, similar to the way a mother watches over her brood. He exhibits what I refer to as ‘grandmother tendencies’, where he waits for us by the front window until we come home from work, a night out, or even a short trip to the supermarket. Whenever I hear the pitter patter of his paws on the wooden floorboards, I know he’s following me like my shadow around the house. On one occasion, I organised for my parents to babysit him during a weekend escape. According to my folks, Winston waited in the hallway in vain, hoping that my partner and I would come home, demonstrating how loyal he is towards us. Winston won’t sleep until the two of us are in bed, at which time he finally clocks off for the evening.
He greets me each morning by standing on his short hind legs and tapping his front paws onto my side of the bed until I pat him in response. If I choose to ignore him, he’ll start moaning with worry. In fact, Winston has an instinct for sensing when I’m in pain. A few months ago, I stubbed my toe on the coffee table and groaned in agony. Just recently, I had a serious coughing fit where I was in tears. In both instances Winston rushed towards me with such an alarmed, concerned look on his face as if to say ‘Are you OK mum?’
In retrospect, I was never a big animal lover. When I was young, like all kids I enjoyed the idea of owning a pet, while not fully understanding the responsibility involved in looking after them. However, since meeting the better half, I knew I had to broaden my mind. Basically, for the relationship to work, the choice was – him and me, or, – him, me and a dog. And the dog will always win hands down when it comes to my partner. So, I sucked it up….and I’m glad I did!
Ultimately, the best moment is when Winston stretches his neck, looks upwards and stares longingly at us with his adoring eyes while his tail wags with enthusiasm. Even when he smells of some strange pungent odour, you just want to cuddle him. Winston’s at his happiest snuggled between my better half and me.
In the past two years I’ve learned how much joy a dog can bring into your life. It’s their unconditional love, unwavering loyalty and the strong bond that they share with us that melts my heart. In a nutshell it’s the simple pleasures that make adopting a dog (or any pet) oh so precious.
It had just turned Saturday, in the early morning of November 3. At 12.15am my concentration was broken by the loud sound of a muffler exploding, or was it a fire cracker going off, or even worse, was it possibly the sound of a shotgun being triggered?
My pulse was beating slightly faster than normal, as my imagination ran wild with crazy ideas. I was home alone, besides Winston the Wonder Dog. The ‘big bang’ occurred as I was sitting up in bed, about to play Twilight for the 67th time. Winston on the other hand was comfortably sleeping beside me, completely oblivious to the sinister noise. As usual, he farted but didn’t even flinch.
I sat there motionless with confusion when it suddenly occurred to me, what if a crime had just been committed? The amateur sleuth that I am intuitively jotted down the time, date, and an explanation of where the sound may have possibly come from. This clue could turn out to be a key piece of a puzzle in a major investigation. The information may be vital and used in court to help put a scum of society into the slammer for life, I thought to myself.
My mind was racing! Earlier on in the evening, I sat through back to back episodes of crime documentaries including Fatal Encounters, Nightmare Next Door, Disappeared and Stalked, hence I was a little on edge. It’s the Discovery HD channel’s ‘Freaky Friday Smorgasbord Specials’ as I like to call it. I don’t know why I have such a strange fixation with these programs, despite knowing that I’m left slightly paralysed with worry during the night, especially when the better half is away.
Feeling a little restless, I opted to stay awake in case of any further developments to my ‘big bang’ theory. It’s because of these reality based crime investigation shows that I sometimes find myself on ‘neighbourhood watch’ mode. If I spot or sense any odd behaviour close to home, my detective instinct kicks into overdrive and I start channelling my inner Clarice Starling persona. It’s a strange habit…I know! Am I the only one with this type of eccentricity?
To those who don’t know, Clarice Starling (who was played by Oscar winner Jodie Foster) was the rookie detective on the hunt for a serial killer in the blockbuster film Silence of the Lambs. I was in my early teens when I saw the flick and it was the point when I was inspired to become an FBI Agent just like Clarice herself – mind you, it was a short lived phase.
I tend to find myself on alert when I notice things that are out of the ‘ordinary’. To give you an insight, if I spot a car circling the neighbourhood at an unusual snails pace, I’ll take a mental note of the colour and model of the vehicle, number plates or the description of the driver. Why? Because the car’s occupants are possibly scoping out potential homes to burgle for all I know. When I was still single (ready to mingle) and living alone, on the odd occasion I’d hear people arguing and loitering outside in a drunken state, in the wee hours of the morning. I’d peep through the curtains with a mobile in hand ready to dial 000 (for Australia’s emergency services), in case of any suspicious activity. It’s crazy that my imagination automatically assumes the worse but like a good girl scout, I’d be prepared with an eyewitness report when cops start to door knock the streets.
Anyway, I digress. An hour slowly ticked by before my pulse began to subdue. The mysterious ‘big bang’ wasn’t followed up by any deafening sounds of sirens from ambulances or any other emergency services. There were no police helicopters hovering above the house. With this in mind, I was quietly confident no felony had taken place, in spite of my inventive imagination. I lay in darkness feeling a little calmer. Why should I be worried, when I had an adorable, snoring, farting Pomeranian x Chihuahua nestled next to me? But I kept an open mind…..
I woke up the following day to the tune of the 7am news on the radio. With a touch of curiosity I listened intently. Luckily, from all accounts, it was an average night in Melbourne. More importantly, there were no disturbing incidents reported near my neck of the woods. Meanwhile, the Breaking Dawn Part II promotional juggernaut topped the news segments during breakfast television programs, with the status of on-again, off-again relationship between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart the main focus of the media. I sighed in relief. All was well in the world……
Winston the Wonder Dog was adopted from the RSPCA over two years ago. From the moment we spotted him, Winston charmed his way into our lives and we were putty in his paws! However, it didn’t take long to discover that Winston wasn’t the sharpest dog in the kennel; he’s more cute than smart, and we say that with love!
Winston wasn’t toilet trained when we brought him into our humble abode, much to my chagrin! Let’s just say there were puddles left behind and ‘bombing raids’ dumped throughout the house during the day and night, which made my obsessive compulsive cleaning tendencies rock into overdrive. I’m even more mortified with his habit of leaving a trail of No. 2s whenever we’re inside the vet’s clinic. You’d think he was laying cables! My partner and I would joke that Winston could churn out turd like a Mr. Whippy Ice Cream Van!
Well, after two years, and many treats later, Winston’s only just managed to learn to sit; even staying on the spot is a challenge. Forget dropping, rolling over or fetching. He may not know the basics of dog etiquette 101, but Winston certainly knows how to fly! Secretly, he must have a pair of magical wings stashed somewhere in the garden. My better half and I spent many weekends and hundreds of dollars fixing up the back picket fence that stops Winston from wandering into the garage and front yard. He’s surprised us on the odd occasion with his Houdini act, as we’ve found him waiting in the garage and poking his face from under the roller doors as we head up the driveway. He must pole vault his way over the fence because Win wouldn’t have the brains to dig under the barrier.
What he lacks in tricks he makes up for in appetite, for a dog so small he has a bottomless pit for a stomach! When I’m preparing dinner, he’ll hover around the kitchen like a vulture, and with his eagle eye, he’ll zone in on any crumbs that end up on the floor. He ploughs through food like a vacuum. I once found Winston inside our pantry scoffing down whatever he could reach given his short stumpy legs; even the threat of me shutting the cupboard door didn’t faze him at all.
Strangers used to mistake him for a corgi due to his podginess. I was shocked when our local pizza guy called my dog the ‘F’ word…..FAT!!!…F – A – T ….FAT!! I desperately tried to convince myself Winston was just big boned, full figured, a healthy plus size…it took a good six months of exercise and a controlled diet to shed some of his weight.
On a more embarrassing note, like all dogs, Winston gets a kick out of humping peoples’ legs and sniffing their butts, in no specific order. He’s not discriminatory in his choices either. Everyone’s fair game, from tradespeople, guests or even my own mother! What’s worse is the challenge of prying him off the person’s calf. Another one of Winston’s more comedic gestures is to grab a shoe (usually mine!) if my partner or I are on the phone. He’ll pick up the shoe with his mouth and carry it into the living room, even though all the shoes are almost as big as him! It’s Win’s way of saying, ‘Hey, get off the phone, look at me and show me some love!’
Yes, on the odd occasion, Win does show a little too much attitude. He once made a German shepherd cowl into the corner of the reception area at the vet’s clinic with his barking. Let’s face it, it’s the Chihuahua in him that brings out his feistiness and spunk. But deep down, Winston suffers from small dog’s syndrome. He thinks he’s tough, but he’s a pansy at heart. Winston wouldn’t want the other dogs in the neighbourhood to know, but he’s actually quite dainty…he hates to get his paws dirty and loathes getting his fur wet in the rain.
Despite his shenanigans, we wouldn’t want Winston any other way. He makes us laugh. These classic moments are what make him special. We love him, just the way he is.
Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to experience the wonders of nature, the serenity of a country lifestyle and the amazing beauty of pristine beaches. Just pack your bags and take a road trip towards the coast.
In our instance, we made a spur of the moment decision to spend a weekend away at Wilsons Promontory (or the Prom as it’s affectionately known), a delight for outdoor enthusiasts and a great destination for a relaxing break.
Wilsons Prom is the southernmost point of mainland Australia and is located 206km from the heart of Melbourne, or just under a three hour drive. The Prom coast region is a world away from the fast paced life of city living. But the area is the ideal location to chill out and unwind and is as spectacular in the winter season as it is in the warmer months of the year. Just be sure to rug up and switch your mind to cruise control in order to appreciate the laid back atmosphere the Prom is renowned for!
The best way to see the highlights of the national parks as well as the surrounding rural landscapes and the stunning ocean views is to take a leisurely drive. We meandered through the towns of Sandy Point, Foster (where we stocked up on tourist brochures at the Visitor’s Information Centre) and Fish Creek. We had no specific plan, we were just winging it, stopping at lookouts (Norman Lookout & Glennie Lookout) and other scenic spots scattered along the highway to soak in the sights.
Of course we couldn’t leave without our loyal four-legged friend, Winston the Wonder Dog, who once again happily joined us on our latest escape from life in suburbia. Keep in mind that if you’re bringing man’s best friend to Prom country, then be aware that pets are not allowed at the national parks. There are pet friendly accommodations available whilst you are in the Prom including Sandy Point Getaway and PromClose Cottage.
Our insight into the region began at Sandy Point which is a quiet holiday haven for families. Before viewing the nearby surf beach, we stopped off at the General Local Store & Café for a quick bite to eat. I vividly remember this area as it was the town where we stayed the first time I visited with family and friends, many moons ago! I recall going for short strolls along the beach and climbing towering sand dunes at dusk.
To cap off the afternoon, we stopped off at Waratah Bay. I love Waratah Bay. During winter you’ll find yourself strolling in solitude along the golden sands that stretches endlessly ahead of you, listening to the waves lapping up against the shoreline. The location is such a beautiful spot to take in the serene coastal landscape, the pristine views and to take in the sun setting in the distance.
Fish Creek & Waratah North
We stayed at Prom Coast Lodge, situated in Waratah North. The self contained unit can accommodate up to six people and is even wheelchair accessible. To top it off, with a little charm and charisma, I persuaded the owner to allow Winston to stay with us. For dinner, we couldn’t go past KO’s Bar & Grill located in the town of Fish Creek (just opposite, the Fish Creek Hotel – with the giant mullet sculpture on the roof). KO’s hearty country meals and especially their chocolate tarts were too irresistible to pass up.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
On our second full day we spent our time exploring Wilsons Promontory National Park, which is the heart and soul of Prom country. Famous for its network of interlinking walking trails that vary in length and difficulty, the tracks are a delight for avid hikers or even those (like me) who prefer short rambling strolls. If you love life in the great outdoors, take advantage of the camping facilities positioned at the foot of the mountains along Tidal River, which is the perfect spot to start discovering the amazing native flora and fauna. Follow the paths that lead you to panoramic views overlooking the bay and mountains sweeping across the region. Whilst on the road, go easy on the accelerator to enjoy the wildlife roaming the streets. You’re bound to spot a few emus, kangaroos and wombats during the journey.
Just a short drive from Tidal River is Squeaky Beach, which is noted for its quartz sand that ‘squeaks’ with each step you take. It almost feels like the earth is crumbling or shifting beneath you. The stunning unspoilt coastal scenery is capped off by weathered rock formations, with copper earth tones, that form rock pools at high tide.
A short distance from Squeaky Beach is Picnic Bay, which also features amazing rock formations dotted along the beach, that’s great to explore when waves are calm, particularly at low tide.
On our last day, we opted to take the long way home, via Toora to stop off at Agnes Falls which, according to the Prom Country Official Visitors Guide, ‘is the highest single span waterfall in Victoria with a drop of 59m’. We made the most of the viewing platforms which gave the best views of the stunning waterfall cascading down the gorge, set amongst a backdrop of luscious native vegetation including ferns and gum trees.
We continued along the coastal route towards the Cape Liptrap Lighthouse. The road leading to the lighthouse is unsealed, so expect slightly rough terrain but the drive is worth it when you experience the striking panoramic views of the ocean. You’ll be mesmerised by the rough, turquoise coloured waves crashing against the cliff face.
Our last stop was Venus Bay, an idyllic coastal escape which is a favourite amongst beach goers. Again, you’ll delight in the long stretch of pristine sandy shoreline and the rippling waves.
It’s been several years since my last visit to the Prom, which left me with memories of rolling hills, rugged mountain ranges and unspoilt beaches that stretched for miles beyond view. Luckily, nothing much has changed in this tranquil, charming area.
If you’re hanging out for a relaxing weekend, away from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke and longing for an escape ideal for young and old (including the furry four legged variety), then the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park is certainly worth visiting.
The Grampians are a leisurely three hour drive from Melbourne. As one of Victoria’s more casual, laid back tourist destinations, the Grampians are characterised by awe-inspiring landscapes permeated by rich bushland, rolling hills and lakes. During a brief weekend getaway, my partner and I took the opportunity to bring our beloved dog Winston to explore the rugged mountain ranges that stretches across the region.
Given the limited time we had, we focused on the main attractions the Grampians are famous for, most of which are in close proximity to the town centre of Halls Gap, a quaint village nestled at the heart of the national park. We took the scenic route along Mount Victory Road in order to view the handful of lookouts dotted along the way including Reed Lookout, The Balconies and Boroka Lookout. We capped off the day with a visit to MacKenzie Falls, which was the ultimate highlight.
At each location, we opted to wander through the network of walking trails that zigzagged across the parklands, preferring the shorter leisurely strolls rather than the full day hiking treks suited for the more adventurous types. It must be pointed out that the tracks are ideal for even those with limited mobility and in most parts, is also wheelchair accessible. The trails opened up to panoramic views of the surrounding bushland, and as an added bonus, dogs are permitted in most areas of the national park.
Our first stop was Boroka Lookout where you can capture stunning views of Halls Gap and beyond, including the picturesque Wonderland and Mount William Ranges.
As we continued along Mount Victory Road, we headed towards Reed Lookout which overlooks the Victoria Valley, Serra Range, Lake Wartook and the Mount Difficult Range, showcasing some of the regions diverse landscape.
A short stroll from Reed Lookout is the Balconies, the perfect location to soak up the breathtaking sights of the Victoria Valley. Here you’ll also find massive sandstone boulders protruding from a cliff face. Follow the walking trail where you’ll continue to come across some amazing rock formations. If you’re daring enough, sit down with your feet hanging off the precipice and ‘live on the edge’.
An approximate forty minute drive from Halls Gap is MacKenzie Falls. Take in the spectacular scenic views of the entire gorge at each of the observation platforms strategically positioned along the pathway leading to the base of the falls. It’s a steep descent from the peak of the cliff tops, as you meander through the walking trail that winds its way to the foot of the gorge, but it’s certainly worth it as you stand in awe at the water cascading into a deep pool. If you struggle with the walk going down, it’s a bitch working your way back up! Keep in mind that this is one area where dogs aren’t permitted.
We opted to stay at the Grampians Getaway Resort, just outside of Halls Gap. The property is unique in that it features six pyramid shaped, self-contained units, each with three bedrooms (with a queen bed upstairs, double bed downstairs and two bunk beds in the third bedroom), wood fire, TV/DVD, kitchen, spa bath and a large lounge area that opens up to an outdoor patio with a barbeque. Furthermore, it’s a pet friendly resort! The property is ideal for families, with its own private lake where you can go canoeing, yabbying and fishing amongst the geese and ducks that wander the area.
You’ll wake up to the dulcet tones of native birdlife and as you venture into the town centre, you’ll be charmed by the local wildlife including kangaroos and wallabies who freely roam the main streets of Halls Gap.
The Grampians are a wonderful destination to chill out, relax and recharge the batteries. What we experienced is just the tip of the ice-berg of what the Grampians has to offer. Don’t forget to pack your camera to capture sweeping vistas that showcase the diverse landscape of the region.
To our overseas friends, if you’re in Melbourne, take the opportunity to explore the regions outside of the city. Embrace the refreshing beauty of nature and the rich rugged bushland that Australia is renowned for.
For more information, visit: www.visitvictoria.com
Winston the Wonder Dog was adopted from the RSPCA over two years ago and he’s touched and enriched our lives immensely, as a loyal and loving furry four-legged member of the family. Giving Winston a new life in a new home was one of the best gifts we could have provided to a wonderful dog, who was reluctantly given up for adoption by his original, but elderly owner.
I will never forget cautioning my partner and reassuring him not to become too emotional that day. However, as soon as we entered the RSPCA and witnessed the row of kennels that sheltered numerous homeless dogs, I was the one who was flooded with tears, almost overwhelmed by seeing the number of dogs requiring re-housing and the difficult process in deciding which dog to take with us.
We both initially had our eyes set on a one year old Beagle named Buddy. But after some discussions with the helpful RSPCA staff members, we were rightfully informed that Buddy wouldn’t fit within our busy schedules. We stood in the office a little disheartened before deciding to continue our search.
Some of the dogs were too large and our home couldn’t accommodate their size and energy, others required significant attention and training (but given our careers, we weren’t able to provide such constant care) and other dogs were too temperamental. We were close to coming home empty handed that day. Luckily, we persevered to the very last kennel in the block. To our delight, we saw a handsome eight year old Chihuahua x Pomeranian proudly prance towards us. As soon as we saw him, we were putty in his paws.
My partner was adamant on adopting a pet through an animal shelter, for various reasons. First and foremost, he wanted to give an animal a much deserved second chance at life. Secondly, we were after advice and assistance in determining which pet would suit our personal needs and lifestyle requirements, and this was achieved through the pet-to-owner matching program that is offered by most animal shelters including the RSPCA.
A staff member at the RSPCA looked into our lifestyle, the hours we worked, whether we had existing pets or kids at home, how large our yard was, how much time and training we could offer and when – these factors were taken into consideration in recommending a dog suitable for us. When we found Winston, we were then given the opportunity to bond with him, spending time walking him around the RSPCA compound.
A third benefit of adopting a pet through an animal shelter is the educational information regarding responsible pet ownership which is available to help you along the pre and post animal adoption journey. Furthermore, all shelter animals have undergone vigorous health and temperament checks to ensure their suitability as pets, often de-sexed, vaccinated, microchipped and wormed. Lastly, animals up for adoption are very reasonably priced. The fee barely covers the cost of de-sexing, vaccinating, worming and micro-chipping the animals prior to adoption.
For further information, visit:
www.adoptapet.com.au to view animals available for adoption at RSPCA shelters across Australia.
www.dogshome.com to view animals available for adoption at Lost Dogs Home shelters
www.lortsmith.com to view animals available for adoption at Lort Smith Animal Hospital
If you’re after a loyal, loving companion – adopt a pet! There are many adorable animals available for adoption at an animal shelter near you. If you don’t have an RSPCA facility near you, there are other great organisations that exist to re-house abandoned animals including the Lost Dogs Home or The Lort Smith Shelter. Ultimately, these animals deserve a second chance. They deserve it!
This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. If you’ve been similarly touched by the adoption of a pet, please help spread the message via one of the social media links below.