31 August 2015

Jorpins 365 : July Favourites

So you may have noticed that after a pretty consistent first six months, things have come crashing to a halt lately. I have good, and exciting, and exhausting, reasons for that which will be explained if I ever find the time to write a longer blog post (which I will, hopefully, next week, maybe). I'm still posting pretty much everyday over at Instagram though, so feel free to follow me over there if you're missing your monthly dose of dachshunds and/or my random ramblings! 

Anyway, remember July? It seems an age ago, doesn't it? There was a mad dash to the complete-lack-of-snow, and another mad dash to Cowra (Hi Shani!). There was a rather laid back wedding anniversary, and a heart breaking, but beautiful, funeral. There were many late night talks, and stress and worry. And sunshine and crisp air and snuggly sleep-ins with the dogs. And thinking that this year has hit me with about all I can deal with...and then - maybe it hasn't, maybe there's light; maybe things are going to be a-okay, things are going to be awesome, after all. 

What a month it was.

29 July 2015

Three Etsy Things : Dog Art

Etsy is a great place to buy prints big and small. There's a whole world of amazingly talented artists and illustrators with Easy shops, just waiting for you to fall in love with their style. Plus they often offer a heap of options - from large originals to A4 prints to art cards - so you can normally find the right sized print to fit both your wall space and your budget. 

Right now I'm sitting next to a pile of prints that I've been meaning to get framed for months, and I'm wondering where on earth I'll find the wall space to hang them, so yeah, I'm on a print buying ban. But I can still look, right? 

28 July 2015

Neighbourhood Eats : Cheekyburger

If you go to Cheekyburger, go hungry. Cheekyburger is all about calories - delicious, American-inspired calories - so you don't want to go there after a big breakfast or a long, late lunch. You want to go there hungry, so you can eat all the things. Starting with a Cheekyburger - super soft, slightly sweet bun; gooey, melty cheese; juicy, still pink meat, relish and pickles. If they're on their game quality wise it is heavenly, especially if you're a pickle lover like me. 

Speaking of pickles, and calories, their deep-fried pickles are pretty freaking amazing too. But make sure you've got someone to share them with as more than two will leave you feeling rather greased up. Other family favourites include chilli cheese fries, a straight up mac and cheese, crazy tangy spicy-sour buffalo wings, and guacamole (just so we feel like we're having a balanced meal). 

I can also highly recommend their cocktails, by the jug. The long island ice tea is especially delicious/lethal/excellent value for money, although in our effort to live a slightly more healthier lifestyle (note the slightly) we don't indulge in those any more. These days we opt for a beer, or cider, or one of the definitely drinkable wines by the glass. Or - if we can fit one in - one of their dense, creamy, flavour filled shakes (the husband likes old school chocolate, the step-sons prefer Oreo or salted caramel). 

Cheekyburger is very much a cheap, cheerful, delicious local for us; the perfect everyone-has-had-a-crazy-busy-day-and-no-one-can-be-arsed-cooking midweek saviour. Consistency can sometimes be an issue (we've had the odd cold bun or overcooked burger patty), and they need to get the guacamole out of the fridge and up to room temperature, and invest in some quality corn chips, but despite all that it's a firm favourite that we return to often. Very often.

Cheekyburger - super tasty, good value burgers and shakes, served with a smile and a side of nostalgia thanks to the 80s and 90s hip hop soundtrack. You really can't go wrong. 

Bookings? Yes, but walks ups are fine. And if you don't book and there's wait for a table you're normally not waiting for too long. 
Kid friendly? Definitely, depending on your tolerance for slightly sweary rap music. 
Dog friendly? Not really. There is a courtyard out the back but it's pretty tight. You might be able to sneak in a tea cup poodle but a great dane would cause some problems. 
Good for groups? Absolutely. Book one of the big long tables out the back, order a bunch of sides, a burger each, a cocktail jug or two, and enjoy!

+61 2 9331 7436

24 July 2015

Death by Doxie : Elfi Wants In

Oh what a life the dog with a snap happy owner leads! 

I was in the garage, doing some task or other. Elfi was not in the garage, but - because she is my shadow - she wanted to be in the garage. The sliding door was open a crack, the light was magnificent, and there was that gorgeous little head, looking longingly in. 

Do you think I let her in? Well yes, I did. Eventually. But first I had to take some photos...

22 July 2015

Renovating With Dogs : Things To Consider

Whilst most of our reno was completed without us and the dogs around (and what's left of our sanity will be forever grateful for that) for a good six months or more after move in day tradesmen were very much a regular part of our lives. The house might have been finished enough for us to live in, but there was a lot left to do. 

We had carpenters on site building our garage and installing our deck; we had the tilers and the pool guy (technical tradie name) working on our big spa/small pool; we had a whole flock of joiners finishing our kitchen and our wardrobe. Some days there were electricians and tilers and landscapers and painters. And there were stonemasons, who brought their own gas stove and coffee percolator. 

I didn't think too much about what that would mean for the dogs, apart from some vague notion of staying home to make sure they didn't run away. But after one day of trying to get my own stuff done whilst juggling all the tradies and two very curious and loud and possibly likely to escape dachshunds I realised I needed a better plan. 

So if you're about to start a building project and you're dealing with dogs, here's some things to think about:

Find a good doggy day care. Day one I tried to have the dogs at home. By 11am I was googling doggy day care. If you have a lot of tradespeople going in and out of your house it's worth thinking about putting your dog in day care, or finding someone to watch them. With all the comings and goings gates and doors will be left open, even with the best of intentions. It's not worth the stress or the risk. 

Doggy day care also saved my eardrums. Our dogs are quite annoying protective and so feel it's their duty to bark, loudly, every time someone comes in the front door, or back door, or moves more than a metre in any direction. Taking them out of the equation when the tradies were in the house made for a much more peaceful day all round. 

Dogs and power tools don't mix. And neither do dogs and paint cans, or dogs and excavators, or dogs and giant pits in the backyard. Whilst a building site might be a fine environment for a smart working dog who is used to all the mess and noise and sharp edges (my dad was a builder and always had his dog on site), it's definitely not a suitable environment for two dachshunds who think they need to play with and / or attack everything, including power saws. 

Tradies like to eat. So do dogs. At the end of a long day at day care Elfi loved coming back home and having a good sniff about, and cleaning up whatever food scraps she could find. Which might have been fun for her, but I'm pretty sure cheezel crumbs, yogurt tubs and banana skins aren't part of a healthy dog diet.

Once she found the remains of a kebab, in amongst all the builders rubble. (I only realised because things had been very, very quiet for awhile which always means the dogs are either dead or up to no good.) After that I made very sure to check the site over for any food scraps before they came home. (It's worth checking the site over at the end of each day for anything else not dog-friendly too, like paint and chemicals, or dog-sized crevices.)

A few months later we had some painters on site. Two guys who are lovely and who I trust to never leave a door or gate open, so the dogs were home too. The painters had brought their lunch with them, a sandwich of some sort, which Elfi dutifully sought out and ate. Luckily they were quite taken by our hounds and laughed it off, but it was all rather embarrassing. I made sure they had a safe spot up high to store their lunch after that.

Dogs get stressed too. Renovations are stressful. Aside from the logistics of it all there's the emotional part too - you constantly have people in your house, in your space. Your happy calm place, your retreat from the world, is not that at all during a renovation. And your dogs will feel that too. 

Although doggy day care was the best and safest option for us, Elfi (the neurotic one) found it incredibly stressful going there each day. And on the days I kept her at home she found the constant invasions by strangers incredibly stressful too. She actually began to show physical signs of distress - her coat wasn't so shiny, she had a temperature and an upset stomach. Poor thing. Luckily the vet had some good advice on diet and other things we could tweak to help her through. 

If you've got a dog that's bit nervy keep an extra eye on them. Do whatever you can to make them feel loved, and to give them a stable environment, and get them to the vet if they're feeling under the weather.

Have you renovated with pets in the house? How did you manage?

11 July 2015

Jorpins 365 : June Favourites

Grab every cliche you can and throw it at June. It came at us like a freight train; it was a roller coaster ride, too fast and full of ups and downs, twists and turns; it was a hard slog in the foothills. It was muddy and cold and sad, cut through with moments of absolute beauty (see: yellow tailed black cockatoos, heart stopping skies at dusk, soft morning light, all the leaf litter).

We cancelled our trip to Europe and we learnt of death and loss. We had long, exhausting days; we made some difficult decisions. But life kept rolling on, as it does, demanding our attention, asking us to focus, to move forward.

You can find all of my 365 photos here, and you can follow me on Instagram here 

30 June 2015


Thinking about what to write for this post has made me realise I've been really quite lucky to have lived in some great neighbourhoods over the years. (It's also made me a bit nostalgic and wistful...damn those itchy feet of mine.) They've all been unique in some way, but there's also a few defining commonalities regardless of city or country - greenery, walking distance to a village (somewhere to eat, somewhere to shop), and friendliness in shared spaces. 

I grew up in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne's east - not the inner east like South Yarra, or the outer east like Ringwood or Ivanhoe, but the mid-east, Kew. It was (and still is) suburban Melbourne at its finest. It was a pretty nice place to grow up, actually. The streets were blessed with long established oak trees, the parks were plentiful (perfect for tree climbing and dog walking and finding some space of your own-ing), the trams frequent-ish and the schools were not too bad at all. 

And it had a sense of community. In primary school the neighbourhood kids walked together most mornings, and in high school we caught the tram together. We had a street party, at least once. And I remember epic water fights in the heat of Melbourne's long dry summers, running in and out of neighbour's gardens to refill our various watery weapons. We knew our street, our neighbourhood. It felt safe, it felt like ours. My parents still live in the same street, and they still know their neighbours. A dying art they say, this neighbour thing. 

After a few moves around Melbourne's mid-east, the next stop for me was Balmain, Sydney. I still marvel at my luck, picking Balmain out of all the places to pick when I moved to Sydney. It's a suburb full of dogs and pubs, with winding streets that lead you on to patches of green and surprising harbour views. Being a peninsula it's a bit isolated, a bit cut off from the rest of Sydney, but there's a gorgeous main street with restaurants and cafes and cute little shops so come the weekend you really don't need the rest of Sydney. 

Balmain was pretty great, although I don't remember anyone ever saying 'hello' to me in the street. Maybe because it's a bit of a destination suburb, there's a lot of day trippers. You can't tell who is your neighbour and who isn't. Or maybe I just wasn't feeling so friendly around that time. Maybe. 

Then the husband and I moved to Potts Point for a year. We lived in an apartment, which had harbour views from the tiny balcony right at the top, if you stood on your tippy toes and angled your head the right way. Potts Point is just a short walk from the city (a little longer if you take a detour past the sparkling waters of Woolloomoloo and the Gallery and the gardens, and why wouldn't you?) but it feels like it's one perfectly contained city in itself. It's unusual as it's one of the few high density suburbs in Sydney, and the high density living happens mostly in gorgeous deco apartment buildings (swoon). 

You'd think living a little on top of each other would lead to niggles and tension, but in our experience it lead to thought and consideration and small acts of kindness. I'd move back there in a heart beat. 

Then we headed overseas and drove our relocation consultants to distraction searching for the right place to live. They'd show us a shiny new apartment with all the mod cons in a 'great expat area', and we'd say 'Hmmmm, it's nice but can we go for a stroll and get some dinner, or groceries?". Because for us where we lived was just as important, possibly more important, than what the actual place was like. We'd happily sacrifice space and newness if it meant we'd be in walking distance of a shop or a cafe or a bar. Which, apparently, in Hong Kong at least, is not a typical consideration for expats and relocation consultants. 

The thought of having to jump in a cab every time I needed some milk filled me with dread, so we pressed on, and - after some frustration and a few tears (mainly mine) - ended up in the most perfect spot. Our apartment was a short but steep fifteen minute walk into Central yet it was surrounded by lush masses of greenery. And flamingos, and monkeys. You see, our apartment was perched just above the zoo. At night we would wander down the street for a martini and a steak and then head home, normally in a taxi - the hill really was steep! Come morning we'd awake to the sound of howler monkeys and red-crowned cranes in the gardens below. Pretty freaking awesome. 

Next was Seoul, and another great neighbourhood - Hoehyundong - which you can read about here and here. It was one of those crumbling old areas, a rabbit warren of shacks and concrete and incredibly slightly dodgy looking massage shops. It was just starting to be redeveloped, hence our shiny new skyscraper of an apartment building. On one side we had Namsan, on the other was Myeongdong and the sprawling Namdaemun market. It was a great spot to spend three and a bit years. 

(Slight tangent - after all our moves I've come to the conclusion that it takes a minimum of twelve months to start to get to know a place, to start to feel like you belong to a place. What do you think of that timeline?)

And then we moved back to Sydney, and we bought a house in Paddington. Paddington is a great suburb filled with all the things we love - cafes and restaurants and pubs and parks and trees and dogs. There's a little community garden at one end of our street, and an excellent butcher up on Oxford Street who happily shares cooking tips, and not too far away is Centennial Park where a whole herd of dachshunds meet up once a month. I can walk into the city if I fancy, and on a warm sunny day we can drive to the beach in fifteen minutes or so. 

We've got a rental on one side, so our neighbours change fairly frequently. But on the other side we have a neighbour who grows exotic orchids under shade cloth and listens to opera, loudly, on a Sunday morning. And almost everyone stops in the street to pat Ferdi on our morning walks, which makes him ridiculously happy.

We're close to the boy's other house, and to their school. We have three locals within walking distance - places we're happy to go when we want a break from cooking, places where the staff say hi. Since leaving Melbourne's east I'm used to moving, often, but I think I'll be happy to settle in this neighbourhood for a little while longer.

The My... posts are a way to get me writing more throughout 2015. There'll be one a month, each with a different My... prompt. You can play along as well, whenever and wherever you want. This month's prompt (June) is My Neighbourhood. Next month's prompt (July) is My Wardrobe. Interpret each prompt however you like - a story or a jumble of thoughts, fact or fiction, personal or not. Don't feel too constrained by the months either, if you like a prompt then have a go. And make sure to let me know if you do join in!

Typography Tuesday : Ann Patchett on Life

I knew I wanted to highlight this quote which comes right at the end of Ann Patchett's essay Dog Without End (from her wonderful collection This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage) as soon as I read it a few weeks ago. And it's become even more poignant given some pretty sad news we received over the weekend. Yes, the endings will so often break you in half. But yes, all the stuff in between - the life and love and blue skies on winter days - make it worthwhile. I've said it once and I'll say it again, go seek out this book. It's brilliant. 

The font is another from the mix and match Harman family designed by Ahmet Altun - Harman Retro. I reckon the whole font family is pretty ace, worth the investment especially as it's on special right now.

19 June 2015

Death by Doxie : Extra Curricular

And this is why you won't see too many flat lays around these parts - the dogs think that if it's on the floor, it's theirs. 

These photos are from a month or so ago, when the lovely folks at Extra Curricular magazine sent me a few copies of their super cute and gorgeously put together magazine (payment in kind for an interview I did with Helena Leslie for their Messy issue). I'd just bought some gorgeous banksias, so I thought - mags + flowers + concrete floor = perfect Instagram shot, yes? Well, maybe, in a Ferdi and Elfi free house. 

As soon as the magazines were on the ground Elfi came and sat on them, and showed no intention of moving. Then Ferdi decided to see if the banksias were tasty (they weren't). The dogs were saying - loud and clear - If you're going to give your attention to something close to the ground, it should be us. Elfi even blew me a raspberry...

16 June 2015

15 Things in The Year of The Sheep : An Update

Ahhhh yes. It's that time of year again, that glorious time when I publicly shame myself by revisiting all those things I said I'd do when I had a song in my heart and a skip in my step and a firm delusion belief that this year would be different.

But guess what? With an average grade of B (-ish) things actually aren't looking too shabby so far, despite life throwing its usual hilarious curve balls at us. So, with head held high, I present this update on 15 things in the Year of the Sheep.

1. Read more. Specifically, read at least fourteen books in twelve months. B-. Slow but steady progress. I feel like I'm closer to achieving this than the stats say, because the stats say that I've only actually finished three books. But I'm reading pretty much every day, and I'm reading on flights, and when I'm waiting at the doctors, and when I'm out eating solo, so it feels like more. I've tackled a few doorstoppers to date, but I've got some thinner reads lined up so I'm hoping to make some more ground on this one in the coming months.

If you're interested so far I've read: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (excellent in all kinds of ways); The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (I hate to say it but...disappointing; parts of it are so over the top and hysterical - all that mooning over a girl - but parts of it are heart achingly sad/beautiful - the fish and chip shop scene for one, but on balance, disappointing); and Waiting for Doggo by Mark Mills (a bit of light fluff, completely inoffensive, I forgot it as soon as I read it).

I'm currently most of the way through Questions of Travel by Michelle de Krester, which I'm thoroughly enjoying, especially for the writing on travel and the way it captures the very essence of Sydney. And I'm on the brink of finishing This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, a collection of essays that I cannot possibly say enough good things about. If you have any interest in writing, or family, or dogs, or friendship, or life, go read it. Go read it now.

I've been on the brink of finishing it for awhile, but I can't quite bring myself to. Not because I don't want to say goodbye to such a great book, but because the second last essay starts "Two days before my dog Rose died..." and I haven't yet been able to make it past that opening sentence.

2. Read more blogs. Randomly quantified with the goal of posting three thoughtful comments a week. D-. Like most things I have good weeks and bad.  Okay, good months and bad. This past month has been a bad one.

3. Blog more. Specifically, blog at least six times per month. A+++. Six posts every month in 2015! Oh yeah! I'm a flipping bloggy superstar, no?

4. Write more. About everything. Specifically, write a My... post every month in 2015. A. I might just squeeze them in on the last day of the month but I've got them done. I've really enjoyed writing them; I hope you've enjoyed reading them. I think my favourite to date as been the one on travel.

5. Related, pitch at least five stories to magazines. F. I made one pitch, which translated into an article on modern lace makers - three profile pieces, plus an introduction, plus a bunch of photos. Ummm, Y to the AY! You'll be able to see it in the upcoming Issue 26 of Uppercase. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

I also had the chance to interview the lovely and clever Helena Leslie for Extra Curricular (she did the cover illustration for their Messy issue, which you can find here). Outside of that I've done zip, zero, zilch. And seeing as things are all a bit akimbo in our life right now (yet again! more on that later...) realistically it's probably all I will get to do this year.

6. Finish my 365 project on Instagram. A. Half way through and going strong! You can see some of my favourites here, or follow me on Instagram to get the full shebang!

7. Hit fifty sales in my Etsy shop, Jorpins Vintage. B. On track! I'm sitting on 26 items sold. I've got a ton of amazing stock still to clean and photograph and list. I'm feeling vaguely confident about this one.

8. Finish three walking events. C. I completed the 22km Jabulani Challenge in April (yay me!), and I've signed up for the 9km Bridge Run - not a long distance but it has tight-ish (for a walker!) cut off times, so it'll help me focus on pace. As for the third event...stay tuned!

9. Walk 1500 kilometres by the end of December. C. I was doing really well with this! I was doing a good 25 to 35kms per week, I made it to Forster, and then, well, life happened. The past few weeks I've barely managed 15kms. But, thanks to my cheer squad (aka the Operation Move community!) I'm feeling inspired again. I've got a plan to kickstart things, this goal isn't over yet!

10. Sort my health out. B+. I've been seeing the dentist regularly and we've got a long term plan for a bunch of stuff. I finally got around to getting a pap smear, and discussed contraception pros and cons with a GP. The other day I even visited an optometrist for a full eye health check up. Next on the list - physio.

11. Cook at least one new meal for the family each month. B. I haven't been keeping track of this, but I feel like we've been kicking its arse. I recently refreshed our cookbook shelf - ditched some we'd never used and bought some new-to-us classics (ie. everything by Karen Martini).

We've been cooking at home, heaps. Okay, yes, maybe last night we had tacos, again, but we have been adding some new stuff to our standard repertoire. This sausage ragu has become a firm favourite. We've also tackled mince pies, chicken pot pies, all kinds of stews and soups, and a slow roasted lamb cooked on the BBQ.  Have I told you how much I adore winter cooking? I freaking adore it.

12. Related, attend two cooking classes. F. Nope. The one I had booked got cancelled. Right now unless someone is willing to provide two all expenses paid trips - one to Italy, one to Thailand - I can't see this happening.

13. Watch twelve movies. And blog about them. D-. Well, I am watching loads of new movies this year, but I'm not really blogging about them. I do have some draft posts, just asking to be finished. So maybe.

14. Organise my office, and keep it organised. B+. I had been chipping away at this, little by little, and then last week I spent two whole days on a final push. It's still not there but it's really, really, really close.

15. Do more road trips! F. I've wanted to, I've really wanted to, but I just haven't. I did have one booked, but I had to cancel (for a pretty substantial reason, none of this dog ate my homework stuff). The next six months are looking good though - we've got trips to Canberra, Thredbo,  and the Hunter Valley planned. Oh, and I'm hopefully heading to Cowra to meet this talented lady!

Do you have a list of things you were hoping to achieve this year? How are you tracking?

11 June 2015

The Search For The Perfect Winter Wedding Outfit

Weddings and spring and pretty floral frocks just all fit together, don't they? But what about winter weddings? What does one wear that's celebratory but warm? Cosy without being drab? I've got a wedding to go to in August, and when I spied these shoes a month or so ago I thought all my wedding outfit dilemmas were solved - a classic black dress, black stockings, and then BAM! these beauties sparkling on my feet. Perfect, yes? 

But now I'm not so sure. Traditionally one isn't meant to wear black to a wedding, so I've been expanding my options. 

Here's a few of the favourites right now:

So - classic and cute black frock from Leona Edmiston with gorgeous gold loafers, clearly a winner (and whilst we're on the topic of Leona Edmiston how ridiculously gorgeous is this frock?). But then just look at the copper metallic goodness that is the Obus dress! Hard to resist for some sparkly fun! (Just quietly I'm quite obsessed with everything Obus right now, they get better with every season.) Sticking with the bronze theme I do love the Gorman shift, so many options for layering too. (Oops, I just clicked over and saw that it's on sale...it may have jumped into my shopping cart...) 

That pale green frock is a bit more traditionally wedding-y; such a pretty colour and cut. It's got longish sleeves plus I reckon it'd look awesome with opaque black stockings, hence it could work for a winter wedding. It's pretty sweet huh? And cheap too...

But then there's the Marimekko dress. It's velvet people, velvet! Swoon! I may have actually bought it six months ago with the justification that I could wear it to this August wedding, but I've worn it so much since then it doesn't feel 'special' enough anymore. Gosh I'm glad I got it though; it was bloody expensive but I already know it's going to be one of those frocks I'll still be wearing out to dinner in ten, twenty years time.

Okay, let's be honest. I'm not really looking for the perfect winter wedding outfit, I'm just using it as a - rather shaky - rationalisation to buy some things I love. And despite all the above at the moment I actually think I'm going to wear this crazy vintage 70s maxi dress that I've had for years. It's shimmery and silvery; floor length with slits up the side, long sleeves, a big collar and a zip down the front. Oh yeah!

02 June 2015

Jorpins 365 : May Favourites

Farewell May. You had some highs - seeing my photo in a gallery as part of the awesome Head On Photo Festival; all those gorgeous skies, blue and pink and golden; tasty food and autumn leaves.

But my goodness you also had some lows. In all honesty it's been a pretty tough month for us health wise, and there's a lot of uncertainty loitering about too. Although I should have learnt by now that the only constant in life is uncertainty, I still don't cope well with it. Change I can do, but not knowing - that I can't do so well.

So on balance, I'm not sad to see the back of May. Bring on June I say! Bring on hopefully maybe some certainty; bring on winter with all its comfort cooking and cosy knits and pottering about the house. And bring on trips to Europe, oh yes please!

By the by - I'm finding it interesting this photo a day for a year thing, especially seeing how the colours and tones of my photos change with the seasons, without me consciously intending it. So many golden browns and soft reds in my feed this month, all the colours of autumn. Such a contrast to the brights of summer at the start of the year.

You can see all my 365 photos here, or you can follow me on Instagram here.

31 May 2015


It is such an Australian thing, this overwhelming desire to travel. A cliche, but  a cliche because it's true. To be Australian is to travel, from city to city or country to country. We are born knowing we are isolated, knowing we are far far away - from the rest of Australia, from the rest of the world. We grow up accepting long distances, accepting the tedium of travel in order to get someplace else. Travel is just what we do, if we want to do anything at all. And we are a migrant community, so all around us are reminders that there is a big wide world out there filled with sights to see and delicious food to eat and wonderful, intriguing, new people. Just waiting to be discovered. 

I'm no different. I've always wanted to travel.

As a kid, each year during the long summer break we'd pile into the car and do a road trip up the coast, visiting friends and family along the way. Heading north we'd visit country farms, stopping to ride the horses and swim in the creeks; we'd visit homesteads and hippie communes and flash apartments. We stopped in Sydney and the Gold Coast and Corryong and Toowoomba, and Nimbin. 

Despite the odd bout of travel sickness, and what was I'm sure hours and hours of annoying our parents with complaints and niggles, I have very fond memories of these journeys. I have memories of swimming pools and a ukelele under the palm trees; of gorging myself on mangoes, bought by the box-load at roadside stalls; of hand feeding overexcited baby goats in our underwear (Nimbin), of rainforest walks and leeches - eeeek! - and getting bogged in the mud (Nimbin, again); and of watching the most spectacular thunderstorms whip around the gums whilst perched on the outside pit toilet (yep, Nimbin again). 

Road trips are still one of my favourite ways to travel, whether it's an overnight stay in the country or six weeks in Europe. I love the freedom having a car gives you, you can stay or go as you please. I love knowing you've got everything with you in the car - the people you love, your clothes, the wine, the snacks, your toothbrush...

And then there's the music. Some road trips we get organised and create a special playlist. When we drove through Death Valley, from Mammoth Mountain down to Las Vegas, we listened to nothing but Simon and Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Dusty Springfield, and Johnny Cash. But on some drives, when we're a bit disorganised, we're reduced to digging through those cheap CD bins in service stations to find something half decent. This has happened in Italy more times than I can remember. 

So on our Italian road trips we normally end up flicking between unbelievably terrible dance music on Radio 105 and unbelievably soppy love songs on whatever Eros Ramazzotti CD my husband (slightly too excitedly) bought at the last Autogrill. One trip we were lucky enough to find a 5 CD set - Le 100 Canzoni de Sempre Internazionale - packed with gems from Wham!, Patti Smith, Toto, Survivor and Whitney Houston. It's still on high rotation in my iTunes playlist. And then there was the trip where I forced my not-then-husband to listen to Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi. On repeat. I have a feeling I owe my entire marriage to this trip. I'm pretty sure listening to We Belong Together thirty eight times as we drove through the Italian countryside is what finally convinced my husband that we did, in fact, belong together. But that's a whole other tale... 

Anyway, road trips are ace. Unfortunately despite (because of?) dragging them on road trips across all of the continents except for Africa, we are yet to convince the step-sons of this fact. They'd much rather fly / teleport everywhere. Yawn.

For me, part of the joy of travel is the getting there. Which is an odd thing to say because airport queues and flying anxieties and hours in a car seat are not joyous things, are they? But they are part of the ritual, they are sign posts of the fun and adventure to come. And in and of themselves there is something meditative, calming about them - a kind of enforced stillness. I want to get to x, but I have to endure a, b and c to get to x. So I will endure a, b and c. And, strangely, endure them with pleasure. But the step-sons would rather skip a, b and c and go straight to x. 

Maybe I was like that as a kid too, but I don't think so. Is it a generational thing? A result of the just-one-google-away times they live in? Or perhaps it's a result of the ridiculous amount of travel they've done, at such a young age? Maybe there's still room for a little romance when you're catching your third flight ever at age twenty-something, but if you're on your thirtieth flight ever before puberty it all gets a bit ho-hum? 

Anyway, I digress. 

Although I always had the desire to travel I was a bit of a late bloomer in the international stakes. Sure, when I was seventeen I spent a pretty incredible two months with a host family in Nepal. But that was followed by a stretch when - outside of a trip to Fiji - I didn't leave Australia's shores. But then in my middish twenties I cobbled together a six week solo around the world trip and everything changed. I landed in Madrid, my first European city, and fell completely, utterly in love. The Prado! The cobbled lanes! The age of everything - so old, so historic! The late late meals! The croquettes! The pig! Then I caught the train to Barcelona, and swooned. In San Sebastian I wandered, wide eyed and fluttery. And then Prague, how could I not love thee? I was smitten, and I was hooked. 

A few years later I did it all again, but this time I went to San Francisco and New York and Paris. And then I met my husband, and we travelled to Italy. And then we moved overseas and my goodness did we travel, across Asia and America and Europe. I may have been a late bloomer but I sure as heck made up for it. 

I sometimes ponder what this urge is - what this desire to move, to go somewhere, anywhere new is. (As an aside as a teen I used to rearrange my room every year or so. And the three and a half year stint in our apartment in Seoul was the longest I'd lived anywhere, outside of the house I grew up in). 

I could say it's driven by all the noble things. I could say it's driven by a desire for compassion and understanding; history, curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. But it's probably more about escape, about avoiding the mundane (I am so scared of the soul destroying mundane...). It's probably more about that feeling of stepping outside yourself. When you're in a foreign land, a foreign city, there are no preconceptions, there are no known knowns. Everything is an adventure. 

I was lucky enough to listen to one of my favourite authors, Robert Dessaix, speak about why he travels at the Sydney Writers' Festival last year. He talked about travelling to cheat time. We can't ever stop time, but when we travel we somehow manage to stretch it out. When we're at home there are constant reminders that time is ticking by - there are due dates for bills, there are places to be at specific times, there are dinner dates and doctors appointments, and all kinds of things that we must do. But when we travel, all that fades into the background. And it is a most wonderful thing. In the end I think that's why we travel too, to cheat time in a way. 

And to eat, of course.

The My... posts are a way to get me writing more throughout 2015. There'll be one a month, each with a different My... prompt. You can play along as well, whenever and wherever you want. This month's prompt (May) is My Travel. Next month's prompt (June) is My Neighbourhood. Interpret each prompt however you like - a story or a jumble of thoughts, fact or fiction, personal or not. Don't feel too constrained by the months either, if you like a prompt then have a go. And make sure to let me know if you do join in!

23 May 2015

IGEC : Travel

Instagram isn't just a great place to get inspired for your next meal, craft project or photo walk - it's also a perfect cure (or trigger) for itchy feet. So many gorgeous photos of so many far flung destinations. 

I'm constantly drooling over all kinds of sights and cities in my feed, plotting and planning a dream trip that'll somehow include hiking in the great national parks of America, a dip in the hot springs of Finland, a visit to the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. And that's just the first week... Take it from me - following these accounts may trigger a severe case of wanderlust. You have been warned.

First up, a curated account. I knew nothing about @foundlost_ when I started following them. I was just drawn to the name and the wonderful images they select. Their (infrequent) posts have a focus on wilderness and adventure travel. I love the magical quality of the images they select, often featuring tiny people in grand landscapes. And mist, lots of mist.

It seems the account is attached to a Hong Kong based social enterprise called the Youth Endurance Network which takes young people on some pretty hard core holidays - expeditions with scientific, humanitarian or philanthropic goals. Looking at their website kind of makes me wish I was under 25 years old again... 

Credits for the images I've chosen are -
TL: @gess8    TR: @ldl_jr
BL: @greatwildopen    BR: @joelle_tso

Tim Coulson (@timcoulson) is a Sydney based wedding photographer. He's a family man who loves to take his wife and young kids on all kinds of adventures. Think you can't travel with kidlets in tow? Tim shows that you can (and that you can take some breathtakingly beautiful shots in the process!). His caption for the photo on the top right? Never stop exploring. My new mission in life. Sounds like a pretty great mission to me.

Another curated account, and one well worth following, is @passionpassport. Their regularly updated feed is filled with gorgeous travel shots from all corners of the globe. Passion Passport covers all kinds of travel; their feed is an eclectic mix of architecture, culture and food. You'll find crowded cities and wide open spaces, well known landmarks and isolated country cabins; markets and mountains, castles and canoes, llamas and camels, stretching right across Europe and Asia and the Mid East. It's all pretty great. 

Credits for the images I've chosen are -
TL: @abbeard    TR: @zachspassport (Passion Passport founder)
BL: @zckrf    BR: @forestwoodward

Bonus! If you love to travel (or just to dream of travel) it's also worth having a look at @awol_aus, @travellerau and @tasmania - all full of inspiring images that'll have you checking flight deals (and your bank balance) in no time. Do you follow any great travellers on Instagram? I'd love to know if you do! 

Instagram is chockfull of the some of the most inspiring, creative, hilarious, clever people I've ever had the pleasure of encountering on the internets. IGEC is my chance to share some of those inspiring, creative, hilarious, clever people with you! Oh and you can find me on Instagram here.