31 October 2014

Death by Doxie : Hello! Welcome!

One of the bestest of best things about having a dog is the way they enjoy your company so very much. A dog thinks you're the bee's knees, the ant's pants, the grasshopper's pyjamas. (I made that last one up, could you tell?) 

They miss you when you're gone, whether you're gone half an hour or half a day. And when you get home they like to tell you how very much they've missed you. And - if they're like Elfi - they like to do it loudly. Very loudly.

Above is Elfi giving me the stink eye because I'm faffing about with my camera when I should be opening the door and lavishing her with pats. Below is Elfi singing me her song of welcome, her "hello!" song. Loudly. And Ferdi looking adorable and happy, and slightly confused (as he so often does). 

29 October 2014

IGEC : Flora

Who can resist a luscious, colour filled flower shot? Not me. Especially when it's taken by one of these three Instagram favourites. 

First up, the breathtaking work of @thechoirgirlhotel. The ever mysterious Birdie only posts once a month but when you catch her in full flight...well, it's wonderful. And whilst the individual shots below are gorgeous in themselves, you really need to look at this Instagram feed on your phone - in the three shot across format - to truly come to grips with her genius.
I have no idea who she is or where she lives (I've googled and everything) but none of that matters because my goodness @svenjalinda knows her way around a bunch of flowers and a square frame. Simple, gorgeous, perfect.
Phil, aka @afloralfrenzy, does incredible things with flowers. Really incredible (just ask The School). An ex-doctor turned florist, he makes the humblest of blooms look stunning.

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. 

18 October 2014

Five Favourite Snaps From The Trip That Was : Water

We've had quite a busy period since returning from our luxuriously long holiday - getting back to some semblance of reality, working on the house, planning our next trip...* But this week I've been able to carve out some Lightroom time, for sorting and editing all of those many, many holiday snaps. 

It's been quite fun going through them all, especially revisiting the first few places we saw. I'd somehow completely forgotten that we'd spent a night in Matera, and that it was a pretty amazing city! It's like reliving the holiday again. Well, without the cheese and wine and warm ocean breeze. And without having nothing to do but stroll and eat and drink. And without the restaurants and hotels and someone else doing all the cooking and clean. Okay, actually it's nothing like reliving the holiday is it? But still, it is fun. 

I have quite a few favourite shots, here are five featuring water.

Tangier, Morocco. I know loads of people who adore Morocco, so I had high hopes that our first visit to the country - via two stops on a cruise boat - would whet our appetite and leave us hungry for more. It absolutely didn't. 

Our first port of call was Casablanca (one of my husband's favourite movies, but sadly the city itself had nothing to do with the actually movie). It was dirty and disorganised. There was chaos and poverty everywhere. We were harassed, constantly. I tried and tried to find something to like, something good. I'm definitely a glass half full traveller, but I just couldn't find any positives. It's one of the few places where I've said to the husband: "I'll stick it out if you want to but quite frankly I'd happily make a retreat back to the boat..." Actually, it's the only place where I've said that. 

Next was Tangier, which was better than Casablanca, but there'd be a lot of places in the world I'd put on my must visit list before I returned. I'm sure there are parts of Morocco filled with immense natural beauty, wonderful food and amazing handcrafts...but it wasn't in Casablanca or Tangier. The one saving grace was this shot I took as we were leaving the port of Tangier. I love how the mass of concrete and the enormous light dwarfs the lone security guy. And that endless blue horizon!

San Cataldo, Italy. This trip we explored some new turf, a region of Italy we hadn't been to before - the heel of the boot, Puglia. San Cataldo is a short drive from Lecce, the main town of the region. It wasn't an overly inspiring beach, especially compared to the breathtaking wonders of Amalfi or Liguria. Much of the region was like that. But whilst it wasn't necessarily amazing, it was never disappointing. It's still Italy after all. And the place was jam packed with local holiday makers - cars crammed with suitcases and kids and beach towels and dogs - which made for some pretty great people watching. 

Savelletri, Italy. Also in Puglia, Savelletri was a cute little coastal town. Again, not breathtaking, but really lovely in it's own way and yes - packed with local holiday makers. It had the perfect holiday vibe - kids running around town in board shorts, dogs wet and shaggy from the sea, little bars serving the perfect spritz, the roads given over to barbecues and deck chairs. 

And even though it was a small town, with small food shops, every single one of those food shops was mouthwateringly delicious. Picture your local milk bar, with all the baked beans and white bread removed and replaced with perfectly ripe tomatoes, different types of pasta piled up to the roof, fresh mozzarella, bags of olives and all kinds of cured meats. We found the best sandwich makers on the planet here. Yum.

Savelletri, Italy. Aside from that blue, blue water there's a few other things I adore about this scene. Firstly, the stripy umbrella. This trip made me realise we need more giant stripy umbrellas in our life. I hope I see these dotted all over Bondi Beach this summer. Secondly, the bikes. The way they're just kind of dumped there, like their riders couldn't wait to leap in to the ocean. They scream summer holidays, don't they?

Savelletri, Italy. One of the things I realised on this trip was that often it's not the prettiest places that make for the best photos. We visited some really beautiful, historic cities on this trip; places like Paestum in Campania, and Bologna and Modena in Emilia-Romagna. But most of my favourite shots come from our few days in Savelletri, a rather nondescript little holiday town, and from another few days spent in Lecce - a nice place, but not one of staggering beauty. 

Do you ever find that sometimes what seems more mundane on the surface actually makes for a better image? 


FYI all of these were taken on the OM-D E-M10 loaned to me by Olympus as part of the Kidspot Voices of 2014 competition. I've recently handed it back, and I'm surprised by how much I miss it and how clunky and old my DSLR feels! 

*Do you do this too - plan your next trip as soon as you land back home? We actually started planning our big 2015 trips while we were away. There's just something about having some travel on the horizon that keeps us happy...

13 October 2014

The (Bloody) Long Walk

I've always loved walking. If I had the choice, and the time, and a sherpa, I'd walk everywhere. Walking is when I feel calm and inspired; it's when I feel connected and present. I've dabbled with running, every now and again, but at some point I always remember that I really, really hate running. But I never, ever hate walking. 

So when I heard about The Bloody Long Walk a few months ago I got pretty excited, and I signed up for the Melbourne one without thinking too much about how exactly I was going to walk 35 kilometres in one hit. And I hadn't given it much more thought since then either. Until last week when my Bloody Long Walk buddy, Shannon, reminded me that it was coming up pretty bloody soon, and that we should maybe possibly start doing something about it. Message received, yesterday - in the glorious Sydney sunshine - I headed out for a 19 km 'long and steady' walk. 

The training program I'm following suggests these long walks are a chance to test out your kit and get a sense of what you're in for. Here's what I learnt: 

Sydney has a lot of hills. And when you pick a random path through the eastern suburbs you are going to walk up and down most of them. 

- Sydney has some seriously great views. Seriously great. Stunning, even. Sail boats and sparkling water and golden beaches and that bridge... The views pop up everywhere, constantly surprising you as you round a corner or crest a hill. They made me swear out loud in appreciation many times during my walk. 

- I walk twice as fast without the dogs. Which makes sense as I'm normally carrying Ferdi whilst dragging Elfi away from eating some thing mouldy and / or trying to take on a doberman. Not very conducive to a quick pace.

 - And I walk even faster again when I'm wearing my sneakers (I have a bad habit of walking longish distances in my Havaianas...). Who would have guessed that shoes made for exercise actually help you exercise? 

- I need a back up, back up battery pack. If my phone (and therefore Map My Walk) crashes during the big one and doesn't save my triumph (assuming I make it) for perpetuity (or at least for Facebook and Twitter) I will be a bit sad. 

- I may be mildly allergic to sunscreen but it needs to be an essential part of my kit. I learnt this the hard way. 

- Same goes for a hat (though luckily I'm not allergic to those...) 

- My left ankle is a bit of a mess, as is my right knee. But between the both of them I have one really awesome leg. Yay? 

Next weekend is a 21km walk. I've started planning a path that's a bit more westward, I think there's less hills out that way. And then it's 25km, and then the taper before the big event. I'm excited, and a I'm bit scared. Okay, a lot scared. To be honest, I really have no idea what I'm doing; there is a so much I don't know.

So I've just signed up as an Operation Move member. I plan on bombarding the forums with questions, but in the meantime - have you done any long walks or other endurance events? What did you take with you? What did you eat before, during and after? Any other tips? 

ps. The walk is a fundraiser for the Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. It's a bloody horrible disease, and a mysterious one too. If you feel like sponsoring me you can do so here. Thank you x

All iPhone shots, edited in VSCOcam.

03 October 2014

Death by Doxie* : Henry Piglet and Hugo

As amazing as our grand European adventure was, it had a downside - we couldn't take the dogs. And we missed them, of course we missed them. (Have you seen how adorable and handsome they are? How could we not miss them?) 

Luckily, around the mid-point of our trip, we had a pit stop in the south of France which gave us a bit of a dachshund hit. We had four days staying in the village of Seillans, with one of my (many) sisters-in-law, her friends from the UK and their two dogs.

The humans were fabulous and lovely and so much fun. But really...it was all about their two gorgeous dachshunds - Hugo (black) and Henry Piglet (tan). (Fantastic names, yes?). Hounds of taste and distinction, they knew how to holiday. Here they are lounging poolside at the villa...

*It has recently come to my attention that the term 'doxie' is also a slang term for, ahem, a lady of the night. This changes the meaning of the post title, somewhat. But - I love alliteration so I'm sticking with it. Apologies for any offence I may have caused. And apologies to anyone who came to my blog expecting something slightly different...