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. 

14 May 2015

Three Etsy Things : Clutches

I don't usually travel with a handbag - I prefer to take a backpack so I can carry my laptop, camera, chargers, hard drives and other fun stuff in there. But a backpack doesn't really cut it for a night on the town, so I always throw a clutch in my suitcase.

Something not too big and not too small; something that sits flat so it doesn't take up too much valuable suitcase real estate. It needs to double as storage for bracelets and the like, and it needs to work with any outfit.

Here's three on Etsy that I reckon tick all those boxes and more.

3. Tonala media clutch in black marble | Scout & Catalogue

ps. If you're looking for some more clutch, tote, zip pouch inspiration I've got just the collection of favourites for you here!

12 May 2015

Two Weeks Away, One Cabin Bag : Summer in the City

A long time ago I shared some tips about packing, the most important being that you don't need to travel with as much stuff as you think you do. Trust me - there is absolutely nothing to love about hauling a large and unruly suitcase from place to place. All those ankle bruises and shoulder injuries and outright frustration, especially when it's peak hour in a Tokyo train station? Not fun. And then you get to the end of your trip, bruised and battered, and half the stuff in your suitcase is still folded neatly, untouched? Not fun at all.

Years of travel, years of packing, have shown me that you can travel light. Scratch that - it's shown me you have to travel light. And the good news is you don't have to look like a backpacker doing it. If you pack smart, you can look smart. You can travel with a cabin bag and still look like your normal, stylish self. 

To prove it I'm taking you inside my suitcase, showing you what I pack for different climates and different holiday types. I'm basing these posts on what I'd pack for two weeks away. For a shorter trip just subtract a frock or two, for a longer one just add more underwear!

Packing for a winter holiday is pretty advanced stuff, so we'll kick off with an easy one - summer in the city. Basically this is what I took to Hong Kong last month. Note that my wardrobe is very much frock based (it makes packing so much easier!) but if you are a pants and jeans kind of girl then just switch out 'fancy frock' for 'fancy pants and top'. 

Some general principles: 
- Pick a colour scheme, so that everything in your bag will basically work with everything else.
- Pack early and then edit, edit and edit some more. 
- A few belts, some jewellery and a scarf will mean you can pull countless different outfits out of three frocks and a pair of heels. Well chosen accessories will help you avoid TWF*. 
(*Travel Wardrobe Fatigue: when you feel like you've worn everything in your suitcase a hundred times and you're completely bored and uninspired by it all.) 
- Only pack tried and tested items. I learnt this the hard way when I had to bin a brand new pair of shoes because they made my feet bleed. Oh the pain! Never again. Think wardrobe staples; the things you love and turn to day in, day out. Think comfort and style. 
- Don't forget the basics. Underwear, a good range of bras (matched to your outfits), socks and something to sleep in (I pack singlets which double as pjs). And I always travel with at least one pair of black leggings.

In the end the key to good packing is having a good wardrobe to begin with. Edit your wardrobe, hang on to what you love, buy what suits you, take your time to build it piece by piece. If you're happy with your home wardrobe,  then packing for your next holiday will be a breeze!

Casual Dress x 2 - Think something you can throw on without thinking. Something you can spend a whole day sightseeing, shopping, sipping and eating in without having to worry about anything. Light weight for summer, non-iron fabric, with pockets. Casual dress one from Petit Bateau, casual dress two from Obus

Super Comfy Dress - When I fly I tend to wear a stretchy cotton tunic over leggings. This outfit gets washed when I land and then doubles as 'loungewear' for lazy mornings in the hotel room. This stripey number is from Japan. It's wonderfully soft and has big pockets - exactly what you need for passports, pens and documents as you're rushing through the airport. 

Dress Up, Dress Down - This is possibly my favourite dress ever and I will most definitely cry when it dies. It's from Top Shop. Yes, it has pockets (see a theme here?). It's perfect with flats for daytime strolling, or with heels for nighttime bar hopping. 

Go With Anything Jacket - Something that you can throw on over everything in your suitcase. For me, it's a light blue denim jacket from Uniqlo. 

Lightweight Scarf - I always take a scarf on the flight, sometimes those flying sardine cans cabins can be cold. Also handy in places like Hong Kong where the air con is almost always set to deep freeze. 

Bright Belt - For adding a bit of fun to all your frocks. This happy orange suede belt from Gorman almost always travels with me.

Fancy Frock - For dinners at nice restaurants, classy corporate cocktails, long luxurious lunches...that kind of thing. This one is from Marimekko, and it's ridiculously comfortable (no pockets though - its only drawback). Nights getting a bit chilly? Just add leggings!

Clutch, Bracelets - A simple frock can look pretty special once you add a great clutch. I scored this one in Tokyo; it's vintage Italian leather and it's freaking gorgeous. When I pack, whatever clutch I'm taking doubles as storage for my bling - something shiny and cheery and not too precious. Your bling might be a beautiful brooch, a nice necklace, ome elegant earrings. My bling is always bracelets. Whilst I'm a big fan of the mix and match enamel bracelets from Kate Spade, my current favourites are stackable resin ones from Sly Pony.  

Neutral Summer Heels - I'm a certified shoe junkie, so it has taken years of heartache and intensive ridicule training from the husband to get the shoe side of packing right. You don't need fancy heels and daytime heels and shiny flats and boring flats and shoes for that dress and shoes for this dress. You do need one pair of heels that go with everything. Neutral leather strappy heels always work for me when I'm on a warm weather trip. 

Trench Coat - More stylish than the Go With Anything Jacket, a trench takes up minimal room in your case and pretty much works with everything. I adore this quirky polkadot one (another Tokyo find), but a classic light tan or plain black is also ace. 

Slightly Fancy Frock  - Casual enough to wear to brunch, but with heels, bright belt and clutch it looks lovely at dinner too. (Notice how almost all of these clothes do double or triple duty?). This frock is from the now defunct Kate Spade Saturday. RIP. And yes, it has pockets. Of course it has pockets.

Ribbon Belt - A wide grosgrain ribbon, tied in a little bow at the side or back, makes a super cute and/or elegant belt and takes up virtually no room in your case. They are the best travel thing ever! Pack three if you want! 

Swimsuit - For the hotel pool, of course. This one piece is from Jets, and it's a super flattering fit (like this one). 

Underwear - I pack my underwear in zip mesh bags from Muji. There's one for briefs, one for bras, one for socks and stockings. Keeps everything neat and tidy, especially if you're hopping from hotel to hotel. 

Sneakers - For those days when you know you're just going to walk and walk and walk. As a bonus if you pack them you can also pretend you'll use the hotel gym at some point during your holiday. Sure you will.

Jeans, Shorts, Belt - More basic, everyday stuff. One pair of my most favourite jeans ever, one pair of shorts and one more belt (this one works with jeans and looks cute with dresses too). 

Tees - Two tees, too easy. 

Then just add a few pairs of hard working shoes (flats, heels, flip flops - stop), minimal toiletries (more on that later) and a backpack with all your gadgets (laptop, camera, chargers) and you are good to go! Happy travels!

06 May 2015

Jorpins 365 : April Favourites

What a blur April was! It went by so damn quickly for me, I felt like I barely got a grasp on it...was it the same for you? Lots of red last month; unusual for me. But I just can't resist that gorgeous wall; it's just around the corner from us too. There was Hong Kong, and then back in Sydney there was loads of wind and hail and rain - those crazy storms - and swimming in the rain. Some glorious gold shoes, lamingtons and hungry dogs too. And yes, yet more lovely vintage finds! 

You can see all my daily shots here, or follow me on Instagram here.

01 May 2015

Death by Doxie : Porch Watch

Outside of eating, the hounds most favourite thing in the world is to sit on the front porch and watch the world go by*. Preferably in the sunshine. And don't they look just adorable doing it? 

No really, it's been a pretty rotten week for the world so please - take a moment to just soak in Ferdi's paws, the way he tucks them in under his chest. And look at those folds in Elfi's little legs. Now breath. Ahhhhh. I've said it before and no doubt I'll say it again - hounds make everything better.

*Where 'watch the world go by' means barking your lungs out and spraying spittle all over the steps every five minutes because the nice neighbourly old lady or woman with pram and (previously) sleeping kid or - god forbid - the postman dared to pass within sniffing distance.