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.
The National Gallery of Victoria is currently showcasing a collection of masterpieces from the Hermitage, epitomizing the artistic vision of Catherine The Great. The collection includes an exclusive curation of Italian, French, Flemish and Dutch art and features specific works from Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck and Velazquez. As a backdrop, sections of the gallery has been transformed to recreate the interior of the Hermitage Museum, giving the audience an opportunity to experience the richness and grandeur of Roman and Classical architecture embraced by Catherine herself.
Catherine’s thirty-four year reign as Empress of Russia is often considered the Golden Age of the Russian Empire, a period that cultivated a movement towards the ideals of Enlightenment – a drive towards liberty, progress and tolerance. Catherine’s passion and enthusiasm for the arts, literature, education and culture instigated the foundation of her collection of paintings, sculptures, and priceless treasures and artifacts of silver and precious gems.
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:
My condition only exacerbated with the strain of unstable relationships during my twenties, a string of not-so-great partners who came in and quickly left my life further bruised my fragile state of mind. I was so ashamed of being single. I looked for companionship with any guy that showed me an ounce of affection. These men weren’t looking for a deep connection, just easy one night stands with no strings attached. I had no respect for myself and I was a magnet for men who had no respect for me. Constant heartbreak lead to unbearable pain and the crushing fear of loneliness. At this stage, I knew I required more than therapy to help me claw out of the mess I was in. My psychiatrist ultimately prescribed me with medication. It was the first time I finally admitted to myself that I suffered from depression, which was a further blow to my confidence.
Despite the depths of despair I was suffering, I discovered that my inner pain would only deepen and slip further into a dark abyss. Triggered by work related stress and the lack of support from management, I quickly found myself spiralling out of control with thoughts of failure. The day to day bullshit at work was a relentless grind that was truly paralysing. A sluggish economy, stagnant sales results coupled with a change in ownership and an inevitable structural change, led to a pressure cooker environment. The workload more than doubled consequently, I was working overtime every day as well as weekends. It became the norm rather than the exception.
My supervisor never recognised the additional hours required to meet deadlines. Yet, when things went wrong, as they inevitably did, he would unleash hell! He would bully, threaten and push me to meet his demands. He would often wash his hands clean of any problems and handball all accountability to his team members, leaving us hanging out to dry. The business turned a blind eye to the passive aggressive management style fostered by our team leader. As a result, my direct manager took delight in abusing his power and authority, regularly delegating his own responsibilities to his subordinates while he ‘worked from home’.
I couldn’t turn to anyone. The company had an unwritten rule of backing up senior management rather than the staff who busted their balls to achieve results. The fact is, Human Resources are paid by the company and at the end of the day, their overall mission is to support the business and the bottom line….the rest is all collateral damage.
** 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:
Her vision is bold, daring and avant-garde. In fact, Zaha Hadid’s work is often considered polarising. You either love it, loathe it or simply don’t get it. However, regardless of the acclaim or criticism, Hadid consistently pushes the boundaries of architecture with her signature space age, futuristic aesthetic.
Hadid is the first female to single-handedly conquer the field of architecture, a domain that is to this day, primarily a male dominated industry. Her edgy, ultra-modern concepts are well ahead of their time in terms of form and structure and has earned her the honour of the highly prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. Yet, despite Hadid’s achievements, she’s also had the misfortune of seeing many of her projects fail to come to fruition. Nevertheless, Hadid continues to be an influential figure and a tenacious force with her unconventional…
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“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!
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 my dream – he writes, he travels, he eats – the trilogy to a perfect life!
I’ve only just jumped on board the Anthony Bourdain bandwagon. After watching his appearances as a guest judge in the series Top Chef, I initially thought Bourdain was an arrogant twat. He dished out criticism with an acid tongue to wannabe Gordon Ramsays. Yet it was the same sharp wit that sparked my curiosity. So much so, I was intrigued to find out more.
A recent episode of No Reservations reflected on the beginning of Bourdain’s rise to fame. Bourdain initially gained critical acclaim with his scathing expose on the seedier side of the restaurant industry in the article titled Don’t Eat Before Reading This, published in The New Yorker1. The scandal generated by the piece paved the way to a book deal and the publication of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly2. Its success kick-started Bourdain’s career as a host of various travel and lifestyle programs including No Reservation, Parts Unknown and The Layover and was the catalyst for further book launches. The rest they say is history3.
Prior to his celebrity status, Bourdain admitted that he was a “journeyman chef who didn’t create 5 Star dishes or have his own show on the Food Network”4. So, why would a chef achieve so much recognition by slagging off his counterparts in an obnoxious newspaper article? It’s simple, Anthony Bourdain is the Howard Stern of cooking! He’s the antithesis of the sweet and cuddly likes of Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver. Instead, Bourdain is a foul mouthed, crude, sharp shooter without a filter. He’s got the balls to speak his mind and tell it how it is while wearing his signature cowboy boots.
On the flip side, Bourdain is articulate with a quick wit, a dry sense of humour and offers copious sprinkles of sarcasm. His shows are eloquent. As he treks through cities, towns or villages, Bourdain mingles with the locals, visits their homes or drops by at local bars or pubs to discover local cuisine. Each segment delves into hot trends of the culinary world including old style cooking versus molecular gastronomy and comfort food as opposed to fine dining. He’ll explore markets along roads less travelled to reveal unique ingredients. However, in contrast to other lifestyle programs, Bourdain’s series have an edgier vibe, often intertwined with current political or economic affairs, uncovering the heart and soul of a country, its lifestyle, culture and its people. Best of all, he’ll taste test native cuisine from high end restaurants in addition to traditional home cooked meals.
What makes Bourdain’s story even more quirky is his unconventional start in the industry. He began his career with a summer job in a blue collar restaurant, as a dishwasher and part-time salad man5. In Bourdain’s own words, “it was a place where kitchen employees drank everything in sight, stole everything in stock and screwed the staff and half the customers”. A pivotal moment occurred during a wedding reception held at the venue. The bride stopped by the kitchen and out of the blue, the head chef requested that Bourdain man his station. To his amazement, Bourdain found the chef disappear off with the new bride to do the “vertical rhumba” behind the garbage stockaid. The incident proved to be his teenage epiphany to become a head chef6.
In summary, Bourdain isn’t afraid to rock the boat. You either love him or loathe him. He’s offbeat and quirky. I’m living life vicariously through his worldwide adventures and I’m enjoying the ride.
4. No Reservation, Dmitri Kasterine’s, ‘Out of the Pan, Into the Fire’ 2000
5. No Reservation, Dmitri Kasterine’s, ‘Out of the Pan, Into the Fire’ 2000
6. No Reservation, Dmitri Kasterine’s, ‘Out of the Pan, Into the Fire’ 2000
Every journey starts with one step forward. I’ve been on a hiatus from the blogasphere for good reason. I’ve embarked on a new adventure along the road less travelled. But let’s rewind to the point of where my conundrum first began. Have you ever sat at work, staring blankly at your computer screen thinking “there’s gotta be more to life than this?”
I left my last job almost 2.5 years ago. After 7.5 years in a marketing role, I knew I had reached a dead end but I also longed for something different. After a three week trip to Egypt, I came back refreshed with every intention to look for another job. But as I searched and prepared for potential interviews, my heart wasn’t in it…..something felt so wrong. It hit me hard like a tonne of bricks…. I was lost and disillusioned.
I had reached a crossroads and for once in my life, I had no plan to fall back on! I’m a structured, organised person. I never just wing it and go by gut feel. I’ve always been a planner. So much so that when I travel, I bring my entire wardrobe, a range of clothes that could rival the entire Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter collection at David Jones or Bergdorf Goodman – it’s for those ‘just in case’ scenarios. I’ve had goals and ambitions and a deep desire to progress forward in my career. But I fell off the rails with a giant thud! Actually, I bizarrely hopped onto a different track; I took a random ride down an alternative route, with no clear idea where the journey would lead me. The question that loomed was ‘If you could be anything, what would you be?’
For years, I’ve yearned to be a journalist/writer, a fashion designer or an interior decorator. Those ambitions were never encouraged during my high school years. Given my background, you either became a doctor or lawyer, and if you weren’t smart enough, you entered the corporate jungle. God forbid if I wanted to be a hairdresser, my family would have disowned me and kicked me to the curb.
So as I faced one of life’s major crossroads, I had two options: to follow the straight, narrow and predictable path or take a rough, bumpier ride along the road less travelled? My brain was loud and clear, ‘stick with the commercial wilderness!’. It made logical sense as the corporate world offered an abundance of marketing positions with a stable income. But my heart was adamant, ‘take a walk on the wild side!’. Do I follow my artistic ambitions? The idea of biting the bullet and opting for a career change scared the living daylight out of me.
But it was my better half that paved the way and let me see the light. He challenged and encouraged me to chase the impossible….to follow my dreams, take a chance and to pursue what I’m passionate about. It was an epiphany that was met with considerable hesitation…..but what if I fail????
The fact is….I DID FAIL!!!! In the months that followed after quitting my job, at the suggestion of my partner in crime, I did a short course in “writing for children”. I’ve always had this aim to pen my own children’s picture book and someday have it published. I loved it! The course got the creative juices flowing. I created a handful of short stories aimed at 4-8 year old children. I even showed my friends’ kids to gain their feedback…ok…it was a bit hit and miss….but it was part of the learning curve. However, the low point was receiving one rejection letter after another from various publishers. That was a ‘jagged little pill1‘ to swallow. The bubble burst. The whole ‘delusional’ idea of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Roald Dahl went down the drain faster than a sewer rat. I felt deflated! I lost my artistic mojo!
Again, it was my better half who pushed me to get back up…..to do what you love!
So the adventure continues. I’ve taken the plunge and decided to go back to University to follow my other goal of becoming an interior decorator. I’m completely overwhelmed and not quite treading water!!!! I’m giddy with excitement but nauseous at the same time.
The point is, I don’t want to live life with regrets. I don’t want to look back over the years and have those niggling thoughts at the back of my head…’ if only I did this’….’if only I did that’. I don’t want to sit there pondering and dreaming of what could have been, knowing I didn’t try.
It sounds so cliché but when it comes to achieving ‘the impossible’….if at first you don’t succeed dust yourself off and try again2. I have tried and failed and tried again. I’ve probably bought a little shame to the family and have left my parents feeling somewhat bewildered and mortified. Others may look at me as somewhat of an embarrassment. I know I do!
However, the difference between the ‘negative Nancys’ and the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and the J.K. Rowlings of the world is that they turned a dream into a reality and never gave up! Regardless of the outcome, these people gave it a shot and turned the ‘Impossible’ into a ‘Possibility’!
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all fun and games. I’ve eaten humble pie and it sucks! But over time it becomes an acquired taste (actually, I lie; I still choke on humble pie!). It’s been a tough, hard slog with many setbacks along the way. It’s rough on the self-esteem and this journey has beaten me and smacked me up. There have been many lessons learned over the past 2.5 years. I don’t know if it’s made me stronger and wiser….maybe just a little more thick skinned.
More importantly, I have the love and support of a wonderful partner who has encouraged me throughout the process. I’ve suffered from so much self-doubt. But he’s believed in me more than I believe in myself. Even though I’ve made mistakes, I’ve stumbled and fallen and as I’ve struggled to get back up, he’s never given up or frowned and looked down upon me. And it makes a world of difference!
Aim high and chase that elusive goal. As per the Nike slogan, ‘Just Do It’! Take a risk, take a chance, make a change2 and give it a try. I’m finally turning things around and pursuing my dreams and following my own path….wherever it takes me. I’m bound to get lost along the way but that’s part of the adventure!
As Mother Theresa said: Life is a dream….Realize it!
1. Alanis Morissette, ‘Jagged Little Pill’, Producer: Glen Ballard, Label: Maverick, Reprise
2. Aaliyah, ‘Try Again’, Producer: Timbaland, Label: Blackground, Writers: Stephen Garrett, Timothy Mosley
3. Kelly Clarkson, ‘Breakaway’, Producer: John Shanks, Label: Walt Disney, RCA, Writers: Avril Lavigne, Bridget Benenate,Matthew Gerrard
The road is long, with many a winding turn1. No, I won’t lead you astray with a rocking rendition of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. However, it’s a phrase that best sums up the spectacular Great Ocean Road that contours the south west coastline of Victoria. As you cruise along this iconic motorway, you’ll be captivated by the majestic beauty of some of Australia’s most picturesque shorelines.
No matter how many times you travel along this roadway, you can’t help but be awestruck by the amazing scenery. For anyone visiting Melbourne, this journey is a must on the bucket list! It’s a 243km (151mi) stretch of road2 with more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie mystery. Beginning at the Victorian city of Torquay (just over an hour outside of Melbourne), the Great Ocean Road snakes its way through the charming coastal towns of Anglesea, Airey’s Inlet, Lorne, through to Apollo Bay, Port Campbell and finally ending at Allansford, close to Warnambool3.
This is a full day road trip and has got to be one of Australia’s top tourist experiences. If you’re an eager beaver, start the journey early to appreciate the panoramic views, the smattering of observation lookouts and popular tourist landmarks dotted along the way. However, for something more leisurely, stay a few nights at Anglesea, Lorne or ApolloBay, to take in the tranquil, laid back atmosphere of Victoria’s southern coastal region. There is a variety of accommodation on offer, ranging from hotels, motels, to holiday homes, ideal for singles, couples to large groups alike, with options to suit any budget.
The stunning vistas along The Great Ocean Road are characterised by vivid landscapes and contrasting backdrops, from surf beaches with monster waves crashing against the limestone cliffs, to the stillness and serenity of the surrounding mountain ranges. You’ll wind your way past lush rainforests as the motorway navigates its way through the rolling hills of the GreatOtwayNational Park.
Above all, you can’t traverse across The Great Ocean Road without stopping at the tourist attractions listed below. These are by far the highlights of the journey and what I consider unique gems of Australia.
The 12 Apostles – is roughly a 4 hour drive from Melbourne4. These massive, 45 metre high, limestone rock formations5 stand stoically, just off the edge of the shoreline. They appear to rise up from the ocean and have been shaped and sculpted by years of erosion. I’ve fondly named each one Hendrix, Springsteen, Lennon, Elton, Elvis, Jagger, Bono, Madonna, Jackson, Lady Gaga & Beyonce!
London Bridge – was once shaped like a bridge, hence its name. It was connected to the mainland where visitors could walk across its full span. But it gained notoriety in 1990 when the archway collapsed, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part until they were rescued by a helicopter6.
The Arch – This is a naturally sculpted bridge, or arch, and stands 8 metres in height7. You can view this attraction from a sealed walkway that leads to a viewing platform.
Loch Ard Gorge (& The Blowhole) – this is a site of historical significance. In 1878, the sailing boat, Loch Ard Gorge, ran aground and only two of its 54 passengers survived8. It was at this location that the two survivors were washed ashore, one of whom climbed the cliffs surrounding the gorge to find help. Within the gorge is a cavern known as The Blowhole. This cave is a tunnel that extends 100 metres inland that produces thunderous roars as waves crash through9.
The Grotto – again, the constant cycle of erosion has helped permeate and hollow out the limestone which in turn has formed a cavern framed by an archway10. There are steps that descend down towards a viewing platform that allows you to get close to the base of the Grotto.
The Razorback – the name came about due to its jagged edges that run along the peak of this rock stack. It’s characterised by deep rough grooves caused by constant wave action and salt laden wind11.
The Great Ocean Road is long and winding, as much as it is spectacular. The impressive coastal views will leaveyou mesmerized. “On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again” 12.
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
On The Road Again
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.
On today’s menu: Entrée is a cocktail of deep fried scorpions, salt infused grasshoppers and sautéed caterpillars; Mains includes a choice of grilled iguana on a bed of sliced yak testicles or roasted wild boar on a jus of buffalo mucus, topped off with a brûlée of fermented armadillo lungs for dessert. Bon appétit!
I use to gag having to finish off my peas or brussel sprouts when I was younger. But Andrew Zimmern, host of the eye-opening travel program Bizarre Foods, is on a mission to explore the flipside of culinary delights. Bizarre Foods takes you on a food safari beyond the predictable gourmet path. Zimmern journey’s the world on roads less travelled, often outside popular tourist hot spots, to discover local delicacies in striking contrast to the taste buds of your average holiday-maker. His motto is ‘If it looks good, eat it’. That is, don’t knock it until you try it – but Zimmern takes it to a whole new level!
Nothing is off limits. In Zimmern’s own words, ‘There’s very little that walks, crawls, swims or grows in this world that hasn’t crossed my lips’. Anything edible is fair game, regardless of how strange the dish is, how funky or pungent the odour, where you find it, or whether it’s served raw…or eaten alive! From piranhas, raw sea urchins to guinea pigs, Zimmern has devoured some of the strangest of delicacies that would challenge the most adventurous of appetites. Zimmern proves it’s mind over matter. If you can overcome the psychological barrier, you’ll learn to appreciate indigenous dishes you would otherwise have thumbed your nose at.
Zimmern has visited numerous destinations across the globe, including major cities to remote towns that are off the beaten track, from countries as vast as Vietnam, Mexico, Taiwan to Trinidad & Tobago to name just a few. In his quest to experience delectable titbits of the more ‘exotic’ variety, Zimmern exposes the heart and soul of a culture, revealing unique recipes that define a country’s local cuisine. Zimmern often visits markets to unearth unusual fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, spices and other ingredients that are fundamental to a region’s food heritage. He spends time with locals in their homes to observe how dishes are prepared. He mingles with highly regarded chefs, food critics or local fishermen and farmers to uncover the distinct flavours of a country. Zimmern also doesn’t shy away from food sold by street vendors to fully appreciate a nation’s ‘gourmet’ scene.
Along Zimmern’s journeys, you learn that indigenous delicacies are usually shaped by what Mother Nature has to offer. Locals make the most of what their surroundings serve up, living off the land that sustains their villages. Food sources include wild animals and vegetation as untamed as the environment in which they’re found. Farming, fishing or hunting are often integral to a nation’s lifestyle and survival. Zimmern points out that in some countries, the culture demands that every part of the animal be used in the cuisines. These are traditions and customs that date back many generations. Ears, tongues, heart, livers, lungs, to penises and testicles…nothing is wasted or spared. One man’s discard, is another man’s signature dish.
My stomach twists in knots at the idea of having to eat jellied mouse nose or a broth of turtle feet. By contrast, Zimmern has no fear. His stomach must be made of cast iron as each morsel is chewed down with a zesty zeal. He’s honest but polite in his opinion of each dish. Zimmern often describes each bite, the flavour, the texture, the aroma in a way to which viewers can relate. To give you an insight, below are a few samples of Zimmern’s taste tests:
Donkeys are a delicacy in China – it’s lean, high in protein and low in fat. According to Zimmern, a serving of stewed donkey meat served cold – ‘it’s fresh, not gamey, great texture, tender – awesome’. Stir fried donkey skin is like ‘chewy meat noodles with a hint of spice’. Sautéed donkey tail is like ‘a pot roast that melts in your mouth – delicious’! By contrast, braised camel paw is ‘an acquired taste, with a funky smell, gamey texture, with a salty gelatinous bite, like chewy jelly’.
Snake is a specialty in Vietnam. A freshly gutted cobra heart is served still beating and tastes ‘milky’. Deep fried snake skin is ‘just like pork crackling’. Snake meat itself is ‘a cross between eel and chicken’. While in Bolivia, llamas are a favourite amongst the locals. It’s a healthy meat to eat and low in cholesterol. Llama brain and tongue with garlic sauce – ‘it’s chewy, not gamey but fresh tasting’. On the other hand, chanfaina, a Bolivian stew of lamb liver, lungs, heart, kidneys with spices like cumin and turmeric – ‘smells like a butcher shop that’s had no electricity for four days. But, it has an intense livery flavour balanced by a seasoning of spices – perfect’!
So, the next time you’re on a gourmet trek, turn to the flip side of the menu and go hard core! Stir fried tarantulas, pickled bulls heart, rotten shark meat, poached buffalo penis, steamed goat testicle dumplings…. Mmmmm, finger licking good! Enough to tickle the taste buds!
Take me back to the sweet times
The hot nights
Everything is gonna be alright
In the summertime
Baby, in the summertime
That is where I’ll be1
Summer is the best season for outdoor entertaining. It’s the best time to host a barbeque with family and friends, sit under the pergola with a good book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, or to dine under the stars….alfresco style!
Over the summer break, we were given an outdoor daybed, ideal for relaxing and kicking back while soaking in the sunshine in the backyard patio. However, the daybed was one of those unique finds off the streets, as part of hard rubbish collection. It’s what professional designers would refer to as ‘vintage’ furniture. But to the everyday wannabe decorator like myself, the daybed was a random piece of trash with the potential to be one’s treasure!
In a nutshell, the daybed required some ‘tszujing up’, a pompous way of saying….a makeover. It’s no secret. I have an appreciation for all things arty farty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with artistic genes and I have very minimal creative talent. But it hasn’t stopped me from trying!
After watching several episodes of Summer Home (see post titled Summer Home – Rustic Glam), hosted by Samantha Pynn and screened on Australia’s Lifestyle Home network, I thought I’d try my hand at applying her simple techniques to updating dated old furnishings. Turning the daybed from drab to fab became my pet project and I was on a mission. I was a do-it-yourselfer (DIY-er) on a budget!
First, buying a mattress was essential and probably the easiest step in the process. The next stage was to add a touch of summer chic. In line with Samantha’s approach, I thought of creating a slip cover for the mattress to inject some visual glam. I chose a black fabric for durability and for $10 a metre, the fabric was a bargain! Black was also a versatile shade that mixes well with other colours. After several days of sketching, developing a pattern and marking it out on material, it was all systems go and I began sewing the slip cover together. Sewing isn’t my forte and it was a process of trial and error, but I eventually made a cover that fit the mattress snugly.
A simple style tip that Samantha uses for greater visual impact is to accessorise with accent pieces. In this instance, I opted for several throw pillows. I managed to purchase six cushions for under $50. Although, each was a combination of different textures and patterns, together they had a cohesive look in terms of the colour palette, shape and size. A unified theme is vital for the overall look to gel together.
Ultimately, it’s possible to update tired, ordinary second hand furniture pieces with a fresh look using practical measures that won’t break the bank. Adding a splash of colour, pattern and texture can provide a touch of understated casual chic.
Now, it’s time to chill out on the daybed and enjoy the sunshine with that glass of wine.
1. “In the Summertime” – Thisty Merc, ‘Thirsty Merc’, Warner Music Australia, Ray Thistlethwayte
Kuala Lumpur (KL) is hot, damn hot! As soon as I stepped off the plane, the humidity slapped me right in the face. But it’s not just the weather that’s scorching; it’s the food, the atmosphere and the shopping! After spending just over a week in Japan, I headed back to the land of Oz via KL, with a whirlwind five day rendezvous in this vibrant metropolis.
From Osaka, I landed in Malaysia’s capital just after midnight. In a lame attempt at stepping out of my comfort zone, I didn’t bother organising transfers from the airport to my accommodation. But gallivanting alone on a train or bus to my hotel, at such an ungodly hour, in a foreign country, was far from what this ‘precious princess’ was normally accustomed to. So I opted for the easiest mode of transport available, a taxi. I’m such a badass – NOT!
An hour later, I was dropped off at a Sheraton hotel, but NOT the Sheraton Imperial where I was actually booked in. Slightly seething, I embarked on a second cab ride and by 3am, I finally arrived at my accommodation. At that point, KL was sizzling, but not for the right reasons. I got my knickers in such a knot I was more than a little flustered! Ok, in hindsight, it’s not like I was ‘banged up abroad’ and the incident was far from the crazy shenanigans of a Lonely Planet episode, but it wasn’t quite the beginning I was expecting.
I’ve never travelled alone. I had every intention to spread my wings during this trip, to loosen up and be an ‘adventurous’ tourist. The aim was to immerse myself in the customs of Malaysia, get lost amongst the sights and sounds of the city, and the hustle and bustle of the crowds. However, after the initial setback upon my arrival, I settled for my usual habit of an organised city tour to explore KL. Oh, I know it’s a bit cowardice and anti climatic, but my obsessive compulsive tendencies steered me away from any impulsive meanderings. So much for winging it!
Regardless, the two city tours I did were an ideal way of experiencing the highlights of KL, or at least the tip of the iceberg. Both tours were great for first time visitors like myself. Each excursion was at a laid back, relaxing pace, just the way I like it, lasting 3-4hrs in duration. The first tour focused on the central business district (CBD) of KL, which revealed a patchwork of modern skyscrapers against the charm of historic buildings and landmarks. In fact, it reminded of home (i.e. Melbourne) in some ways, where the beauty of traditional architecture is blended together with contemporary structures.
The tour involved a quick stop and photo opportunity at the following sights and tourist attractions: Kings Palace, Central National Museum, Parliament House, National Monument, National Mosque, Old Railway Station, Independence Square, Sultan Abd, Samad Building and lastly the incredible Petronas Towers.
The second tour included a visit to a Batik Handicraft Centre, the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory and a Chocolate Boutique for a chance to purchase locally produced souvenirs. BatuCave was the height of the day’s journey where I slowly ascended the steep 272 steps to the limestone caves, home to sacred idols and statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Despite walking at a snail’s pace, surely I got a work out that day! I was soaking in sweat, the heat was sweltering! Along the way, I passed several cute but cheeky monkeys scavenging for food. As you enter the caves, you’re greeted by a few snake charmers, who were more than enthusiastic at wrapping a snake around your shoulders for a pretty penny or two. Certainly not for the faint hearted!
Although the Sheraton Imperial is located on the outskirts of the CBD, it’s just a short monorail ride into the heart of the city. Luckily, the hotel is surrounded by major shopping strips which kept me occupied on my last day. KL is perfect for a little retail therapy. The best thing about the fashion is that the clothes fit me. Good things come in small packages (that’s what I keep telling myself). Pants, skirts, and tops were tailored to my short stumpy stature. Sadly, my shopping spree was limited to a handful of items as my suitcase was already jammed full. So much for going berserk and maxing out the credit card!
I wasn’t brave enough to try Malaysian delicacies or food of the more exotic variety dished out by nearby restaurants or street vendors. I’m such a pansy at heart, but I can’t stomach an ordeal of ‘Delhi Belly’ or ‘Bali Belly’ or ‘Lumpur Belly’ in this instance. However, I did sample some local cuisine each night at the buffet dinner served by the hotel. Curries, laksas, tom yum soup and like the weather, the food was scorching hot!
During my downtime, if I wasn’t in the gym, I resorted to lazing about poolside. It was the only time I could tolerate the heat. It helped to have a boozy beverage in hand to cool me down. KL was a delightful escapade, yet all too brief. As I look back and reminisce, it was a short but sizzling fling!
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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Oh dear Genevieve,
My humble abode is trapped in a 1970s time warp and is drowning in mission brown. Help!
There are days when I wish Genevieve Gorder was on speed dial. I can only dream to have her transform my quaint, dated home into a modern, timeless haven. Genevieve is the Fairy Godmother of interior decorating and is the ‘go to’ creative expert who converts drab and boring rooms into inviting, contemporary spaces. She weaves her magic with a fabulous sprinkle of style and pizzazz as the host of the entertaining home makeover program, Dear Genevieve.
Genevieve’s signature design approach is similar to that of the ever prolific Sarah Richardson (of Design Inc, Sarah 101 fame). Both women balance traditional charm with contemporary design concepts when it comes to breathing new life into a room. Like Sarah, Genevieve’s vision rarely incorporates ‘matchy matchy’ furniture schemes. Instead, both designers often integrate an eclectic mix of new fixtures with vintage pieces.
Gorder isn’t afraid to use an array of contrasting elements, such as rustic pieces together with mid century modern furnishings, or geometric patterns against a neutral wall backdrop and allocating vignettes to a room through layers of textures and accessories. These techniques offer eye catching focal points and bold pops of colour, giving a space its own character, charm and identity. Genevieve effortlessly manages to pull together a look that is balanced and cohesive, despite the diverse fusion of design fundamentals.
What makes Dear Genevieve unique is that it’s one of a handful of programs where clients don’t have to relinquish full creative control to the lead designer. Instead, Genevieve plans together with her customers regarding the overall design direction – finding out how home owners currently use the space, how they are stylistically, favourite colour schemes, the flow of traffic, what their objectives are with the room in terms of functionality and the mood they want to create. Gorder then provides a sketch of the structural layout for the space, outlining broad concepts on decor while being open to ideas and suggestions given by the clients.
Genevieve then embarks on a fact finding mission, along with the home owners, visiting various shops and suppliers to investigate options for lighting, flooring, textural elements like curtains, rugs, pillows as well as different accent pieces and accessories. It’s an opportunity for the clients to open their eyes to new ideas and to think ‘outside the square’ in order to bring out a room’s potential. In some cases, particularly in earlier series, the clients even get involved in the renovation process.
In each episode, Genevieve plays different roles from designer therapist, style counsellor to decorator medic. Regardless of how challenging each project is, Genevieve’s vivacious, animated, positive personality is so engaging with viewers, along with her big smile and even infectious laugh! Her charm and ingenuity is reflected in the rooms she has revamped with a little wow factor.
If you’re desperately seeking a touch of style nirvana for your home, just ask Dear Genevieve for some design wisdom. She’s more than capable of rescuing an outdated room from the depths of the twilight zone and tzuj it back into the 21st century.
Image Source: http://www.facebook.com/GenevieveGorder/photos
I feel the need, the need for speed! I was revvin’ up the engine, shovin’ into overdrive1, as we headed towards AvalonAirport for the 2013 Australian International Airshow – which was held from March 1-3. Staged every two years, the public and trade event showcases vintage, commercial as well as military aircraft and is topped off by a thrilling, action-packed aerial display show.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t seen the blockbuster movie Top Gun starring Tom Cruise. If you haven’t watched this sensational film, get with the program! It’s almost every girl’s dream to be swept off their feet by Maverick, Goose or IceMan. Can you imagine standing at a bar and being serenaded by a squadron of handsome guys in uniform to the tune of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”? Just picture it…..‘You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips2’ – somebody wake me up!
My fascination for high powered jets began long before I saw Top Gun. My father’s passion for planes had a huge influence on my own interest in aircraft. An early childhood wish of mine was to become a flight attendant. Sadly I developed a habit of throwing up soon after take off during my youth (Please note, by my early twenties, I discovered alcohol took the edge off my nausea – now who’d have thunk that!). When I was little, I couldn’t wait to see the world, but it was the idea of riding on an aeroplane that made the dream of travelling all the more exhilarating.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve attended Australia’s only airshow but it never ceases to amaze me. Held at AvalonAirport, it’s roughly a 45 minute (or 56.5km) drive south-east of Melbourne. However, due to the overwhelming crowds, it takes an additional hour just to enter the parking grounds. The bumper to bumper traffic from the highway leading into the car park can test one’s patience. But it’s worth it, especially when you’re greeted with several fly-bys from an F18-F Super Hornet.
After buying our tickets, we headed straight towards the ground display which featured an amazing exhibition of commercial, historic, recreational and civilian aircraft. But the highlight has always been the impressive collection of military jets predominantly from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the United States Air Force (USAF). The ‘sexier warriors’, such as the F-16, F-22 Raptor and F-18 Hornets, were strategically positioned around the tarmac, separated away from heavy aircraft and vintage planes.
This is the best opportunity for the public to get up close with these combat jets, or majestic ‘eagles’. To see the magnitude of their size – from the breadth of their wingspan, the enormity of their engines, to the height of their landing gear and their overall construction – is a real eye-opener. One of the best parts was witnessing the C-17 Globemaster being taxied off to the runway, having its wingspan hovering above me as it made its way off the tarmac prior to a spectacular aerial display.
There was also had the chance to meet and greet pilots and crews to get a further insight into the basic facts behind a select number of aircrafts. The public were permitted to climb on board a small number of planes. This was ideal for the more avid fans who were more than willing to line up in the queue which snaked around the exhibits.
In addition to the static ground display, there were other activities to keep young and old entertained. In the Kids Zone, children could get their face painted or temporary tattoos applied, create paper planes and construct 3D puzzles of jets or helicopters. There were a variety of amusement activities available including a rock climbing wall, ‘bungee’ trampolines and the Avalon express train that followed the main walkway circling the airshow grounds. Lastly, although not my cup of tea, there was also the Arena Action area that featured extreme monster trucks and motocross stunt show.
But the culmination of the day was the jaw-dropping aerial display high above. I found myself torn between wanting to watch the spectacular aerial manoeuvres versus my mission to visit and take photos of all the aircraft on exhibit. As I worked my way around the tarmac, I was often stopped in my tracks by the death defying stunts performed by specialty acts including the Breitling Wingwalkers who carried out acrobatic formations while perched on the wings of a vintage Boeing Stearman biplane. Witnessing combat jets such as an F-16, F-22 Raptor and F-18 Hornets zoom by at a jaw-dropping velocity, followed by the echoing roar of their engines several seconds later simply takes your breath away. The finale was the flying formation of four F-18 Super Hornets followed by a simulated airfield ground attack that certainly got the adrenalin pumping amongst the multitude of people who viewed the show along the runway.
On our drive home, I couldn’t shake Kenny Loggins’ dulcet tones out of my head, along with the classic 80s electric guitar riffs, keyboard synthesizers and drum beats …..
Revvin’ up your engine
Listen to her howlin’ roar
Metal under tension
Begging you to touch and go
Highway to the danger zone
Ride into the danger zone
I have a soft spot for Jamie Oliver. His enthusiasm and passion for cooking is so infectious! The acclaimed British chef, with an affable, easy going charm, has a laid back attitude that’s reflected in his down to earth approach to everyday cooking.
In an earlier post titled “Domestic Goddess Sizzles in the Kitchen”, I pointed out that cooking had never been my speciality. In fact, cooking and I go together like chalk ‘n’ cheese, we just don’t gel. Eating on the other hand is my forte. I love food. But, it’s more than comical that I have a tendency of scorching, nuking and spoiling the most simple of meals like scrambled eggs or even the humble toast. I’ve experienced more misses than hits when preparing food that’s fit for human consumption. Consequently, I have a ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’ mind-set to whipping up a gastronomic smorgasbord.
Often cooking programs focus on complicated feasts, and not surprisingly, I find such recipes way too challenging to even attempt given my limited culinary skills. What’s worse is that you need a myriad of gadgets which I don’t own, just to slice, dice, chop, julienne, mix, mash or boil the ingredients. Otherwise, the recipe consists of exotic components you’ve never heard of, or elements you’d rarely use in other meals and your local store doesn’t carry in any case. To top it off, I don’t have the time, not only to prepare the dish, but to clean up the mess afterwards. It’s all too hard and puts me off from bringing my A-Game to the kitchen.
On the other hand, Jamie’s signature style to preparing a meal makes cooking accessible to the masses, boofhead friendly and idiot proof! He’s recognised that cooking fabulous food isn’t just for elite professionals or experienced cooks. Let’s face it, we don’t always need to prepare Michelin awarded meals for everyday cooking. Jamie’s recipes aren’t pompous or pretentious. When it comes to casual dining, precision isn’t paramount and presentation doesn’t always require the perfection that’s demanded in 5-star restaurants. Instead, Jamie’s twist on a delectable dish centres on simplicity and big bursts of flavour, colour and texture. His meals have a rustic, organic quality, using fresh, seasonal and/or everyday ingredients commonly found in your pantry. Convenience and ease is the key, but taste isn’t sacrificed.
Best of all, Jamie Oliver is a chef with a heart of gold and a conscience for social issues. He takes on causes and challenges close to his heart. Jamie’s highlighted the rising levels of obesity amongst young children and has campaigned tirelessly for healthier menus in school canteens. He opened Fifteen, a not-for-profit training restaurant that empowers young adults from underprivileged backgrounds with an opportunity for a better future1. The initiative offers disenfranchised youths with an apprenticeship and first hand experience in hospitality2. He promotes a healthy lifestyle through the magic of food, with recipes emphasising the importance of affordable, well balanced meals. Through his cook books and various television programs, he has inspired families to get back to basics with home cooking, to source and use locally produced goods and to opt for freshly prepared meals rather than the fast food alternative.
What’s refreshing about each of Jamie’s television cooking series is that they don’t rely on his experience and celebrity profile to humiliate and break down aspiring chefs or avid cooks like a drill sergeant, a la Gordon Ramsay. Mainstream television is flooded by reality based competitions, where amateur cooks and professional chefs are under pressure cooker conditions and consequently ridiculed for their errors or critiqued on trivial criteria as a form of entertainment.
Instead, Jamie’s shows have a casual, light hearted vibe that centres on what cooking programs should focus on – creating practical, well balanced, hearty culinary delights; comforting meals made with enthusiasm and love.
Sources: http://www.jamieoliver.com/ Viewed February 19, 2013
Citations: http://www.jamieoliver.com/ Viewed February 19, 2013
For my avid readers, you’ll know that I have a penchant for interior decorating programs. To fuel my addiction, Summer Home is the latest series I’ve added to my growing list of favourite home makeover shows. What makes this series unique is its focus on renovating summer homes – or holiday homes as we call them here in Australia. In each episode, host Samantha Pynn, aims to update rundown retreats trapped in a time warp, and transform them from boring to delightful getaways.
The program has a laid back vibe that’s reflected in Samantha’s signature style. I have an affinity for her refreshing approach to decorating; it’s what I define as casual chic. With Samantha, you won’t find ostentatious fixtures, opulent or ornate focal points and quirky decorating concepts. Instead, Samantha’s creations are bright, cosy and inviting. Her designs are based on restrained elegance, understated rustic glam. She combines country with a classic, timeless comfort, yet modern feel.
Samantha provides practical solutions to breathing new life into a home. Where possible, she retains existing furniture to minimise costs but refreshes the pieces with new slip covers or re-upholstering. In addition to custom fixtures, Samantha also favours vintage accessories found in local thrift stores or antique shops to maintain a cottage charm.
As the homes of her clients are often located along rivers, lakes or set amongst wooded areas, her designs are often nature inspired, so as not to divert from the character of the house. To keep the look fresh, she uses pops of colour with visual elements such as pillows, throw blankets, rugs and ornaments with soft colour pallets, floral prints mixed with muted geometric patterns and delicate textures.
In some episodes, Samantha’s major challenge is maximising areas with limited space, creating a room that is both functional and flexible in terms of their layout, purpose and usage. She often achieves this with a splash of paint, new flooring, re-positioning furniture, adding fixtures with sleek minimalist features, dismantling walls or building cabinetry upwards instead of outwards – all to create the illusion of space.
In summary, Samantha manages to combine both function and form, transforming rooms that once lacked any artistic direction, and injecting a dash of glam that is visually eye catching yet comfortable and casually stylish.
One of my greatest fears in life is public speaking. I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!
Recently, my little sister asked me to make the customary ‘family member’ speech at her engagement party. I was deeply touched and honored that she considered me, but at the same time I wanted to wet my pants (and throttle her)! Deep down, I secretly thought this was payback for all the times I threatened to flush her down the toilet when we were younger. My stomach began to churn and twist in knots. I had two months to come up with a speech and the pressure was on!
Some people are gifted speakers, me….not so much. As a student, at the end of each term, my report card read – “C is a conscientious student but needs to participate in class discussion”. It was a recurrent theme throughout primary school and high school, much to the disappointment of my parents! Despite the many lectures from both my teachers and the folks, it was a lesson never learned and haunts me to this day.
I can’t recall the source or quote the exact statistic, but according to a survey conducted, a significant number of people would rather die than engage in public speaking. OK, it’s a tad extreme but I can more than empathize with the thought.
I’m painfully shy! I liken myself to an awkward, country church mouse with hermit tendencies. I was the wallflower in high school that never got asked out because I was socially inept with zero personality. Men weren’t exactly queuing up for a date during my footloose and fancy free twenties because I couldn’t chat any guy up (it didn’t help that I tried to save myself for Brad Pitt)!
I’d still be single, desperate and dateless today if the better half hadn’t have made the first move. He was brave enough to introduce himself when we first met. I think he felt sorry for the loner in the tight skirt and knee high boots leaning up against the bar with vodka in hand.
Some people love the sound of their own voice; you know the ones who could talk under water? I’m in awe of those who can dominate conversations over the dinner table or board room meetings. I envy people who are gifted speakers, the best of which can mesmerize and captivate an audience. It does help if you ooze a little charm, personality and charisma. Personally, I believe you’re born with it, it’s an innate talent.
By contrast, talking is my weakness, my Achilles heal. Place me in front of a group of people and this weakness is elevated ten fold and I’m overcome with paralyzing fear! I start to quiver, sweat uncontrollably and I turn into a jibbering idiot. My mind freezes up and turns blank; I struggle to articulate what’s in my head (which isn’t much). Don’t get me wrong, I love attention. I don’t mind walking into a room, wearing something glam with a touch of bling and turning heads. However, when I open my mouth, I struggle to come up with something sharp, witty or profound to say. It’s a challenge to convey a message in a succinct, articulate manner – instead, I fall flat on my face (I guess this explains why writing is my escape).
My saving grace has always been my writing. Whenever I had to conduct presentations or meetings at work, I had notes prepared for my own sense of security. So, that’s where my mission began. I began to draft my speech until I realized I had no idea what to write! The avid blogger was suffering from writer’s block! I had to get down to the basics. Like with any good story, you need a captivating introduction, a memorable plot with a middle section that takes the audience on a joyride and a conclusion to tie up the yarn. I channelled in my marketing experience and similar to a sales pitch, you need to have key objectives and an understanding of your target audience and what they’re after. Research is the key – a broad knowledge and understanding of what you’re talking about!
My ultimate goal was to create a light hearted message about my sister’s road to romantic bliss while hoping the audience didn’t suffer through sheer boredom, and the means to achieve this was to add some humor to the speech. I didn’t want to go down the path of the boring mushy lovey dovey clichés that you find in a Hallmark card – love is a journey not a destination, love is patient, love is kind – Blah! Blah! Blah! What a crock! That makes me gag. Instead, I wanted DIRT, that is, the crazy shenanigans that the youth of today get up to (ideal for my young audience). So I contacted close family and my sister’s friends to dig up some gossip which would form the bulk of my speech.
I certainly didn’t want to write a thesis. I wanted to keep the speech short and sweet – the less time I have to spend talking…the better! Once the speech was written up, the next stage was to practice, because practice makes perfect! I began to rehearse, I’d pace up and down the hallway rehearsing, varying my tone of voice and ensuring the delivery of each joke was perfect. On several occasions I even sat in front of Winston the Wonder Dog and read through my lines. After several rounds, eventually my own dog got bored! He’d look at me perplexed before dozing off. It got to a point where he’d walk the opposite direction as soon as he saw me approaching him. The paw thing, even my own dog got sick of the speech. That wasn’t a good sign!
As the date of the engagement party loomed, I couldn’t sleep. I began to get hives! Even as I slept, my mind raced through what I was going to say. On the day of the soiree, I needed a calming mechanism…..booze! Copious amounts of alcohol helps…it’s the best social lubricant….as they say, booze make men brave and women loose! After a few glasses of vodka, Bacardi and gin – I was rockin’!!!
With paper in hand, I began the speech. I started off strongly, despite the fact my hands were trembling. If I could measure the amount of quivering, it would be off the Richter scale. I lost my spot once but quickly brushed the mistake off. Once the audience laughed at a few comical gags, I knew I was on fire. To my sister’s relief, I didn’t disgrace myself!
In summary, I survived! Woo hooo! Would I ever volunteer or yearn to be nominated for any future public speaking events? Well, like I said earlier, I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!
There’s nothing like summer in Melbourne, especially as Christmas approaches. The city’s lively atmosphere steps up a gear and comes to life even further as the festive season kicks in. Christmas brings such a spirited, vibrant buzz in town. The garlands are hung, decorations adorn street lamps and shop windows are decked out with glistening ornaments and flickering party lights.
The mood around the CBD is laid back, yet pulsating and infectious. As you stroll along the city streets, you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of the large crowds of people, some of whom have taken to the festive spirit by donning reindeer antlers or Santa hats. It’s hard not to be captivated by the light entertainment performed by an eclectic mix of buskers and carollers scattered on the corner of busy intersections or positioned outside retail department stores.
The smorgasbord of bars, cafes and restaurants is the heart and soul of Melbourne. Personally, it’s a great city to wine, dine and ultimately to relax as you gear up for Christmas celebrations. The tantalising aromas wafting through the air from some of Melbourne’s finest eateries combined with the large number of funky pubs and clubs only adds to the sizzling energy and ambiance of this great city.
The hedonistic fusion of awesome music, delectable food, cocktail of drinks and great company is hypnotic to the senses and further intensifies the joy and merriment one would experience at this time of the year. Melbourne certainly knows how to turn on the charm to build up a cheerful party vibe full of reverie. You’ll wish to soak it in and bottle it up
I love Christmas, especially in Melbourne!
“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end. It’s already tomorrow in AUSTRALIA!!!!” Charles M. Schulz
I have bittersweet memories of Dubrovnik. I travelled there to catch up with an old flame. But in the back of my head, I knew the relationship was heading straight towards the deep dark void of romance abyss – that is, splitsville. All good things must come to an end, but memories last forever, hence why Dubrovnik will always hold a special place in my heart.
Oh the crazy things we do for love! I visited Dubrovnik just a week after my 30th birthday. The trek from Melbourne to Dubrovnik was an adventure in itself. The journey involved close to an 8hr flight from Melbourne to Singapore. The second flight from Singapore to Frankfurt was just under 13hrs and the final leg between Frankfurt to Dubrovnik was a further 2hr plane ride. That part wasn’t bad. It was the 8hr stopovers at both Singapore and Frankfurt that was draining.
Actually, Changi airport was fun. The free internet, cinema centre and entertainment areas featuring widescreen TV monitors that were strategically positioned near a smorgasbord of shops and café’s, was enough to keep me occupied. It was Frankfurt that was the bane of my existence. There was nothing to do as I roamed around in limbo trying desperately to pass time, while the cigarette smoke wafting through the air was strong enough to gag on. What was worse, I was dragging around luggage while wearing knee high boots with three inch heels. Don’t judge me – I looked hot despite my pain. Besides, I just entered my ‘flirty thirty’ phase of life and I was footloose and fancy free!
Situated along the Adriatic Sea, south of Croatia, Dubrovnik is a UNESCO listed city and a gem of the Dalmatia region. During the drive towards our hotel, the taxi driver kindly stopped at a popular observation deck overlooking the scenic view of the coastline (it was a sneaky, but effective move to bump up my fare but it was worth it!). It was my first taste of the Old Town of Dubrovnik which was accentuated by a sea of terracotta coloured rooftops.
The Old Town is the heart and soul of Dubrovnik. As you enter the gates of the walled city, you take a step back in time into a golden era reminiscent of a period where fair ladies and knights in shining armour still roamed. The city is characterised by traditional architecture inspired by Gothic, Romanesque or Baroque designs (I’m not an arts connoisseur, but I’m assuming the buildings are of that vintage). As you stroll along the Placa or Stradun (which is the main city walkway), you’ll notice the promenade is flanked on either side by a myriad of cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways.
Our accommodation was just a leisurely walk outside the city. Each evening, S and I headed towards the historical site for a bite to eat. Even at night the city keeps a vibrant atmosphere as the residents open up their quaint al fresco cafés and restaurants to tourists. During summer, candlelit dinners with the stars above are the perfect way to soak in the laid back ambiance. Being of Bosnian background, S spoke the language and recommended local cuisines including bureks (a pastry dish) and cevapčići (minced meat, similar to a kebab) which is worth trying.
I had the chance to explore the Old Town, walking the length of the outer perimeter of the city. Meandering along the surrounding walls is the best opportunity to get a bird’s eye perspective of the lofty bell tower which dominates the main square or watch the sail boats and even the odd cruise liner that are docked in the port. From this vantage point, you’ll be amazed by the town’s timeless, classic appeal. However, based on the information plaque at the main entrance, much of the city was heavily damaged during the Balkans war. Following the end of the war, the town has managed to restore many of the buildings to their original structure.
As you immerse yourself in the maze of cobblestone streets and corridors of lane ways, you’ll discover prominent landmarks including the Dominican Monastery and church with its large dome; the Great Onofrio Fountain built in 1348 and the Franciscan monastery. Other highlights include the St Blaise Church for its traditional architecture; the Rector’s (Sponza) Palace and its beautiful archways, and the Gunduliceva Poljana which is the site of the busy morning market.
Dubrovnik has an enchanting fairytale charm. Sadly, S was not my Prince Charming. However, I didn’t want this doomed relationship to overshadow my time in this romantic city. Yet, as each day passed, I knew the inevitable was looming. The relationship was coming to its finale and I was trying desperately to hold onto ‘something’ that clearly wasn’t worth clinging to.
As women, we all know some boys are toxic. There’s a breed of men out there that are like cigarettes. You know you should stay away from them but temptation gets the better of you, until it finally hits you that they’re clearly a bad habit! Ok, this hook up wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either, it just was never meant to be.
During the journey home to the land of Oz, I remember sitting at Changi Airport with a heavy heart, staring outside onto the tarmac…I was 30, and single….AGAIN, I thought to myself. There’s a line in Sleepless in Seattle where a man says to Meg Ryan’s character “It’s easier to be killed by a terrorist than it is to find a husband” and it hit me hard. I shed a tear. It was the end of a chapter to another failed romance.
Luckily, this story didn’t end there. Within a few months, I met a wonderful, caring, smart, funny guy who is the love of my life! To this day, this love story continues….
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.
I’m addicted to interior decorating shows. I simply can’t get enough of them! Divine Design, Candice Tells All, Colour Confidential, Sarah’s Design Inc…I could go on. They’re all part of my daily diet of renovation programs. But for something more daring and left of centre, you need to get a taste of the distinct Novogratz style.
Home By Novogratz is screened daily on the LifeStyle Home network and is hosted by the husband and wife team, Robert and Cortney Novogratz. It took me a while to jump on board the program. The signature Novogratz aesthetic is an acquired palette comprising of contemporary, ultra modern themes with a retro vibe.
Their design concepts are targeted at the brave, for those seeking a look that is vibrant, innovative and unique. If you’re after interior décor that’s traditional, conservative and on the safe side of the spectrum, run the other way! It’s time to step out of your comfort zone.
The dynamic duo (whose inspirations are drawn from downtown New York) makes their own rules, anything goes, and there is no limit to their infinite creativity. Their process for renovating each space is intuitive, there is very little that is methodical about their vision. The designers allow their ideas to evolve by combining flea-market or vintage finds with high-end focal points; or bringing together an eclectic mix of furniture and accent pieces to create a layered effect with different elements of texture, colour and accessories. Ultimately, a dull boring room is transformed and used as a canvas to showcase their funky design sensibility.
For maximum impact, Robert and Cortney like to mix a fusion of strong contrasting artistic themes and concepts that expresses the home owners’ individuality while delivering a room that’s bold, with a quirky charm and a character that is totally original. The final look of each project can polarise some people and may not necessarily float everyone’s boat, but the ultimate result still has a ‘wow’ factor that’s daring, hip and inspiring.
Photos: Courtesy of HGTV.COM
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
The final article in this series explores the gems of Luxor including the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and the astonishing Temples of Karnak and Luxor, before reaching a climatic end at the monumental Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx.
As we forged ahead on our journey, the cruise headed north from the region of Aswan towards Luxor, where we continued to enjoy the ever changing scenic landscapes of the Nile, from the reddish earth of Nubian lands in the south, to luscious green dunes that flanked the river banks, which was capped off by glorious sunsets at dusk.
Luxor was once known as the great city of Thebes and for centuries was the capital of the Egyptian Kingdom, and it is in this city that the Temple of Luxor was built11. ‘The entrance of the Luxor Temple is marked by the great pylon, which stands at 65m wide. In front of the pylon there used to stand two obelisks of Ramses II (each towering at 25m in height), but today only one remains, the other was erected in the centre of the Place de la Concorde in Paris in 1836.
The entrance is flanked by two giant granite statutes representing the Pharaoh at 15.5m high’12. Beyond the grand entrance is the courtyard of Ramses II, dominated by columns that look majestic lit up in full glory at night.
Temple of Karnak
‘Approximately three kilometres from the Temple of Luxor are the monuments of Karnak, which is the largest of any temple in the world. Among its splendours is the hypostyle hall which is 102m long by 53m wide, featuring 134 columns each 23m in height.
Beyond the hypostyle hall stands the obelisk of Tutmose I towering at 23m high and weighing 143 tonnes. It is believed that 81,322 people were involved in building the site’13. One can only imagine the scale of this temple in its original form; its immensity is awe inspiring.
Valley of the Kings
When I first arrived at the Valley of the Kings, I saw nothing but mountainous sand. It’s difficult to fathom that under these hills are underground channels leading to tombs, where pharaohs have been buried. To this day, archaeologists continue to dig up tunnels in order to unravel relics and hidden treasures.
‘The Valley of the Kings is the burial place of many of the New Kingdom Pharaohs. Its history began with Tutmose I, who wished to be buried in a secret place, thus setting a precedent which was followed by all successive pharaohs. A well-like tomb was excavated in an isolated valley and then a steep stairway was carved out of the rock leading down to the burial chamber’14. The highlight of this tourist site is the opportunity to enter the tomb of Tutankhamon and view his mummified body. (Be warned, cameras are not permitted inside; the stairway is steep and narrow and is not ideal for the elderly, people suffering from breathing difficulties or claustrophobia).
Valley of the Queens & the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
‘Just over one kilometre away from the Valley of the Kings is the Valley of the Queens, where eighty tombs have been discovered, mostly dating from the period 1300 to 1100 B.C. Within the valley is the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, which consists of a series of vast terraces, which by means of ramps led to the sanctuary’15. As you reach the first terrace, you’re greeted by enormous statues of sphinxes that guard the entranceway; I guess in today’s world, we’d jokingly refer to them as a posse of ‘door bitches’.
Colossi of Memnon
We made a quick photo stop at the towering Colossi of Memnon, located along the west bank of the Nile. ‘These two giant seated figures are all that is left of Amon-Ofis III mortuary temple. These two gigantic statues are 20m high and were cut out of single blocks of sandstone’16.
To save the best for last, the tour reached its pinnacle with a guided excursion of Giza where we stood in awe at the enigmatic Sphinx and the monumental Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Micerinus.
The Great Pyramids
‘The Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Micerinus are arranged diagonally, in such a way that none of them hides the sun from the others. The pyramid of Cheops is the largest of the three, standing at 137m high but has completely lost its protective facing that covers the internal blocks. Chephren’s pyramid is the only one which still has, at least at the top, the smooth external facing. The smallest of the three is the pyramid of Micerinus, at barely 66m high. In front of Micerinus’s pyramid there are three satellite pyramids’17.
I was gobsmacked by the sheer size of the Pyramids. The word monumental or colossal doesn’t begin to describe the scale of these sites.
‘Each pyramid is square at the base, the length of each side being 246.26 metres, while each stone block is at least 9.24m long. It took 10-20 years to build this astonishing man-made structure, using 100,000 men’18.
For a few laughs, why not take the opportunity to ride a camel with the Pyramids as a backdrop. I can guarantee a few Kodak moments.
‘About 350m from Cheops’s pyramid stands the Great Sphinx. At 73m long, this colossal statue represents a lion with a human head which some believe to be a likeness of Chephren standing guard over his tomb. The defacement of this monument is due in part to erosion by the wind and the cannon of the Mamelukes who used it for target practice’19.
To top off the afternoon, a final stop is made at Memphis where we viewed the massive statues of Ramses II. ‘Carved from a single block of alabaster it is 4.5m high, 8m long and weighs, it is believed, at least 80 tonnes’20. This is where the tour comes to a finale. As they say, all good things must come to an end.
Writing this day by day account of my 11-day tour of Egypt felt like a gargantuan task, in addition to selecting and editing the stunning pictures for each piece. It’s almost reflective of the colossal, monumental and ancient structures that Egypt is renowned for. In summary, I was awestruck by Egypt and its jewels along the Nile. As a tourist, you’re presented with some of the most amazing sights built by the hand of man, all of which were created thousands of years before Christ. This was my Ode to Egypt, I hope you enjoyed it.
Chalaby, A. All of Egypt – From Cairo to Abu Simbel, Sinai. Florence, Casa Editrice Bonechi, 2010
Citations on Request
We delve into the stunning attractions of Cairo, Alexandria and Aswan in greater detail and include extraordinary pictures capturing the amazing beauty of Egypt and its gems, all of which are man-made monuments built thousands of years before Christ and a testament to man’s ingenuity.
We kicked off our trip on New Years Day 2011 with a flight to Cairo, which was slightly marred by a drunken female passenger going through a mid-life crisis, who mistakenly sat next to us. Nevertheless, her crazy rants about her ex-husband and her new Turkish lover didn’t dampen our excitement but merely added a little humour along our journey.
Before you begin any exploration of Egypt, start with an excursion of Alexandria which is a three hour bus ride from Cairo. Alexandria doesn’t have the grandeur of the capital, but there are enough attractions to pack a full-day’s worth of sightseeing. As per my previous blog, the most memorable sites were the Roman Amphitheatre, Pombey’s Pillar and the Quayet-Bey Fortress. But our guided tour also included a visit to the Roman Catacombs and a stop at the Mosque of Abdul Abass, both of which are worth checking out.
To wet the appetite, we began our main tour of Egypt with a glimpse of Cairo, visiting the Saladin Citadel and the Mohammed Ali Mosque in the heart of the city. We then tested our haggling skills at the lively Khan El Khalili bazaars, a market full of colourful trinkets and locally made goods.
The day concluded with a visit to the Egyptian Museum, exhibiting Pharaonic treasures and artefacts, the best of which was the gold coffin of Tutankhamon (Be warned, cameras are not allowed inside the premises and three hours is not sufficient to view the entire collection of masterpieces, some of which date back to the Ancient Kingdom1).
Temple of Abu Simbel
After a short, but rickety flight to Aswan, we headed further south by bus to Nubia where we boarded our cruise boat on Lake Nasser. In the late afternoon, we headed off to the majestic Temple of Abu Simbel, which would have to be one of the ultimate highlights of the trip. Words cannot begin to describe how impressive this monument is, which measures ‘38 metres wide by 65m long, carved out of a single piece of rock’2. You’re confronted by four colossal statues of the Pharaoh Rameses II, each towering at 20 metres high, while the complete façade is some 31 metres high3.
‘The smaller Temple of Hathor, built for Rameses’ wife, Nefertari, is also guarded by six 10m statues. Inside the temple are paintings depicting Rameses and the Gods that are over 3200 years old’4.
If you travel in early January, rug up as it does get a little chilly, particularly if you attend the sound and light show in the evening, where you witness Abu Simbel lit up in all their glory.
Wadi El Sebou, Avenue of Sphinxes & Temple of Al-Dakka
As we continued along the journey, we stopped at smaller ruins including Wadi El Sebou – ‘the Valley of the Lions’. According to our handy itinerary, the site was named after the great Avenue of Sphinxes which leads to the Temple of Rameses II’5. This region is 194kms south of Aswan and features the Temple of Maharraqa, Wadi El Sebou Temple and the Temple of Dakka.
Temple of Kalabsha
‘Approximately 50 kilometres south of Aswan is the Temple of Kalabsha, built by the Roman Emperor Octavius Augustus and dedicated to the local fertility god Mandulis’6. A few other monuments surround the temple, including the Kiosk of Qertassi, whose silhouette looks stunning against the sunshine.