When a foodie goes to Melbourne: By night

I spent two and a half weeks in Melbourne (the one in Australia not Florida – just to be clear) over the Christmas-New Year period visiting family and catching up with a few friends. It was hot – much hotter than I’m used to even in the warmer parts of Europe – but that did not stop me from doing loads and eating even more.

Last time I tap-tap-tapped away about the high points of our daytime eating adventures and promised to follow up with the same for our culinary exploits after dark. So here it is, post number two.

Fat Bob’s Bar & Grill – Moorabbin

For at least three years, my loved ones have been Facebook posting about Fat Bob’s and when I arrived for a visit two years ago, I was sadly informed that Fat Bob’s was closed until the day after I was due to fly back to the UK. This time Lil Chicky was on the case – Fat Bob’s would be closed from Christmas Eve so nine hours after I got off the plane on December 23rd, we were scoffing amazing burgers, more-ish fries and some super scrumptious fried apple dumplings.


Tucked away in an industrial estate in Moorabbin, once you walk through the gate there are vintage signs everywhere you look.


There’s a good range of craft brews and ciders to pair with your burger. My White Rabbit Dark Ale was smooth and easy (too easy?) to drink and my Victa burger – a crumbed chicken fillet with Asian slaw, Japanese mayo and BBQ sauce – was completely scoff-worthy

It’s a fabulously unpretentious place and was definitely worth the wait. The food was served in plastic baskets with the burgers wrapped in foil (helps to stop the drips as you hoe in) and cutlery was kind of optional frowned upon. If you love a dirty burger and a retro approach to decorating, get yourself to Fat Bob’s…and leave your tiara at home.

Mexico City – Bentleigh

The original Mexico City restaurant opened in 2011 around the corner from where I used to live in Elsternwick but I’ve been away since 2004 so when Lil Chicky told me that there was a new one in Bentleigh, it seemed the perfect place to stop for a pre-cinema dinner. It’s quite a small place and as we were only two people and didn’t have a booking, we had a choice of sitting at the bar or at the window. We chose the latter and ordered a couple of Moscow Mules to sip with our complimentary corn chips and salsa before our meals arrived. I loved my vegetarian burrito and Lil Chicky enjoyed her Mexican trio. But be warned – the portions are huge so if you want to have more than one course, I’d suggest sharing.

Favorite Noodle & Dumpling Restaurant – Moorabbin

This is a family-run business right across the highway from Moorabbin train station. It’s a large restaurant with an extensive menu of dumplings and Chinese stir fries. Mum, Licensed-To-Grill and Lil Chicky all raved about the dumplings so that was what I chose. They were soft and melt-in-the-mouth delicious – definitely the best I’ve had. I’d been eating elsewhere in the day so couldn’t fit anything else in but again I was gobsmacked by how big everyone else’s portions were.

It got really busy while we were there and the service, while still friendly, did suffer a bit as a result. There was also a little lost in translation moment when pea-hater Lil Chicky asked whether there were peas in the fried rice. (We were absolutely assured there were no peas, just beans, only for Lil Chicky to be faced with picking out all the peas when it did arrive.)  But it’s cheap and cheerful and if I lived there, I’d probably be doing a dumpling run at least once a week.

Bad Frankie – Fitzroy

I was reading one of the daily newspapers at Lil Chicky’s in turns marvelling at how clueless I am about Australian celebrities nowadays and checking out all of the things-to-do recommendations. It was the word ‘jaffles’ that caught my eye – these were the mainstay of many a Sunday night dinner growing up and were crammed full of things like baked beans, ham, tuna, tomato and savoury mince but always with loads of gooey melted cheese. I managed to convince some friends to have a jaffle-themed catch-up…and what a catch-up it was!


Top row: Look out for the sign when you turn off Smith Street into Greeve Street; Quirky decor  Bottom row: Retro cocktail glassware; the traditional ham and cheese jaffle with a side of tomato chutney; the infamous lamington jaffle – there are no words – you’ve got to experience it for yourself!

Bad Frankie specialises in Australian spirits and the drinks list is pages and pages long (who knew we Aussies were so prolific outside wine and a bit of boutique beer) so we went with cocktails served in the types of glassware you might find at the back of your Mum’s kitchen cupboard. We chose a range of savoury jaffles to begin with – which were yum – then tackled the lamington jaffle. Chocolate sponge filled with jam and rolled in coconut was served warm from the jaffle maker with cream on the side – it was scrumptious and VERY rich, making us all glad we had decided to share. The others also tried the ANZAC Bikkie jaffle (brioche toasted with rolled oats and golden syrup) which they reported tasted faithfully of its namesake.

To my mind Bad Frankie was an absolute find. The decor is quirky and cosy and everything is very laid-back. We’d been in the City in the afternoon and the promise of jaffles and boozing did take us out of our way but it was a chilled and convivial evening with an easy tram ride at either end. Just go!

Okami – Hampton Street

Okami is a chain of five Japanese restaurants across Melbourne and on my last night, we decided to tackle the All-You-Can-Eat offer at the Hampton Street branch. You get a two-hour sitting, a menu and then you just keep ordering dishes until you can’t eat any more. We shared many great dishes but stand outs for me were the Chicken Karaage and the Teriyaki Chicken Skewer. We also tried the Octopus Ball – which turned out to be balls of octopus meat versus something akin to a Bush Tucker Trial – better served with soy sauce than the mayonnaise they came with I thought.


Domo arigato for a job well done! 

We managed to find a small space at the end for some cold vanilla ice-cream (it was 38C that day – that’s really hot!) and pretty much rolled out the door. And all of this for less than $30 (approx. £18) each.

And that peeps ends the culinary tour. The next day I boarded a plane for the long trek home with an underweight suitcase (believe me, it took careful packing to manage this with the amount of shopping I did). However I cannot say the same for yours truly and I must admit to my comfy travelling trousers feeling slightly snugger than when I arrived two and half weeks earlier. But what are holidays for, I ask you?

I hope this has whet the appetite of those of you  living in or travelling to Melbourne…if you are a glutton for punishment and want more or missed the partner post on daytime eating in my hometown, you’ll find it here so in the words of my childhood dinners…

Two four six eight

Dig in. Don’t wait!


When a foodie goes to Melbourne: By day

I spent two and a half weeks over Christmas and New Year in Melbourne. It is my hometown – not the place I was born but rather the place that I endured the pangs of teenage angst, the excitement of leaving home and the hopeful anticipation of beginning my career – in essence my transition to adulthood (although some my argue that this happened much later). In any case, it’s a city that holds a huge piece of my expat heart hostage and as Mum and Lil Chicky still live there, it has become something of a habit to make a bi-annual pilgrimage Down Under.

We shopped and hung out and laughed and did a whole lot of stuff while I was there – more of which I’ll post about soon – but mostly we ate. As with most holiday ‘diets’, calories became a distant memory and it was not uncommon for us to be tucking in to some meal somewhere and be talking about where we should have the next one!

As a result I’ve clocked up quite a few great recommendations if you happen to be in Melbourne around the City or down towards the bayside suburbs of Brighton, Mentone, Hampton and Parkdale. There are too many for one post so they will come to you in two parts – by day and by night.

Here’s where I suggest you spend your days.


Breakfast/Brunch – for a cracking start to your day, I really liked these three:

Urchin Bar – Hampton

Ostensibly this is a Turkish restaurant and bar but serves a great breakfast and we lingered here for a couple of hours catching up over fresh juice, delicious food and great coffee. The service was friendly and laid back and whilst they were attentive, at no stage did we feel rushed by the staff. Don’t let the average website put you off and if you go, make sure you walk through the bar and snag a table in the covered courtyard out the back.

The Groove Train – Brighton

This is one of my regulars when I visit and is a particular fave for breakfast. It’s located in upmarket Church Street and when we were there, the glass doors were concertina-ed aside, opening the whole place out onto the street. I have never had a bad coffee here and my breakfast burrito wrap was chock full of scrumptious stuff. Lil Chicky’s smashed avocado concoction looked pretty amazing as well.

Parkdale Beach Cafe & Kiosk – Parkdale

If you want food with a view, then this place is for you. Perched on the cliff top overlooking Port Phillip Bay, this cafe serves great coffee and a small but excellent selection of food to both tables inside and at loungers outside under the shade of the umbrellas. Mum and I happened to coincide our visit with a Greek Orthodox New Year celebration which moved from the boardwalk that runs along the beach up to the BBQ area next to the cafe. So we decided to enjoy our warm banana bread with fresh berries and mascarpone cream from a inside table with an excellent position by the window…


Window seats –  the view from our table

This place gets busy but there’s something so unbelievably magnificent about the location that for me, the hustle to get a seat/table is worth it.


Lunch/Coffee and a little something – as the day goes on, you’ll need to keep your strength up so try these three:

Larsen & Co – Hampton

This calm Scandi oasis is tucked into the lane that leads from Hampton Street through to the station car park and features clean Scandinavian decor inside and 3-4 shaded wooden tables outside. The menu is not extensive but the quality was excellent – I had an amazing superfood salad while Lil Chicky enjoyed her fried calamari with orange, baby fennel, feta and mint. The portions were big – so great value for money – and the service was friendly and efficient (after all we had a train to catch). It’s worth mentioning the excellent toilet facilities here too.

Brunetti – City Square

The original Brunetti opened in Carlton in 1985 and has since expanded to include this outdoor cafe that commandeers the south end of Melbourne’s City Square on Swanston Street. The biggest problem you’ll have is choosing which of the myriad cakes and slices to have. To complicate matters even further, you can also get yourself a little tub of fresh gelati…


Left: My delicious hazelnut and coffee slice  Right: Ice-cream anyone?

There’s plenty of seating – although not all of it is under cover – and the bird life can get a bit cheeky with any leftovers but if you clean your plate (as well you should), watching the hierarchy of sparrows, pigeons and a seagull or two oust each other for the crumbs can be quite entertaining. Of course Brunetti’s Italian heritage means the coffee is outstanding.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms  – Block Arcade, City Centre

Melbourne’s arcades are something of an institution and the elegant Block Arcade, running between Collins and Little Collins Street, is no exception. Built in the 1890s, it features some of Melbourne’s most delightful retailers and none more delightful than the Hopetoun Tea Rooms. I was told that the line to get a table is usually out the door, down the arcade and around the corner into the street but we found ourselves here at 10am on a Tuesday morning with only a 10 minute wait ahead of us – so plenty of time to window shop…


Clockwise from top left: Window shopping of the best kind; the mirror dating from 1892; red velvet cake; chocolate and pecan tart

This place is decorated tastefully ‘of the period’ featuring a mirror from 1892, flocked wallpaper and a display of crystal wares in one of the cabinets. It can seem a little cramped when you come through the door (one-in one-out is the best way to manage the traffic flow here) but once seated there was ample elbow room for us to tuck into our sweet treats. My chocolate and pecan tart was so delicious and I have it on good authority that the red velvet cake and the crepes with fresh berries and cream were every bit as good. This is not a place to linger and chat so go for the experience and the cakes rather than the conversation.


And then there’s the best-laid plans and all that…

The Local on Como – Parkdale

I am a huge Audrey Hepburn fan and when Mum and Lil Chicky discovered this place, they couldn’t wait to tell me and put it on the ‘visit list’. Unfortunately it was closed for the entire time I was in Melbourne so I had to be satisfied with peering in the window…


Awesome Audrey mural at The Local on Como (there was also a purple coffee machine!)

…so I cannot tell you anything about the coffee, the ambiance or any of the vittles on offer. But it must be pretty good – Lil Chicky does not do bad coffee. And the mural was worth the walk on a mighty warm Summer day.

That completes my haunts by day. You may like to pause (as we did often) and ready yourself for the next installment – my favourite culinary haunts after the sun went down. They’re coming soon…

Has Our Luck Run Out?

The results are in and Australia has a new Prime Minister.

Yes, another one. Our third this year.

And I cannot believe this man has been chosen by ‘the people’ to represent them.

Or has he?

When I moved to the UK almost ten years ago, I added myself to the UK’s electoral roll (as an Australian, I can do that here). There are many places in the world where having your say is not an option so I appreciate the privilege of living in a society that allows me to do this, whatever the mechanism.

At the same time, I removed myself from the Australian electoral roll, figuring that if I make my home elsewhere, it is not for me to have a say in the lives of those who still live in Australia. That is their privilege – albeit a compulsory one. But I remain staunchly Australian, carrying my native twang, laconic style and direct approach with pride and  hoping to be a good ambassador for my homeland wherever I go.

The outcome of this weekend’s election Down Under has left me stunned. I can find absolutely nothing to recommend Tony Abbott and as far as I’m concerned, he is an incredibly poor representative of the Australian people. And unusually – I move in opinionated and voluble circles – I haven’t come across anyone with a different point of view. No-one.

Pundits talk about a long election campaign (seven months) riddled with ‘reality stunts’ as opposed to committed and thoughtful politics; a circus of name-calling and sniping that perhaps voters just wanted to be done with. And given the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd tug of war within the Labor Party, perhaps people voted for the leader with a semblance of alignment behind him.

So what did happen? Is it a result of apathy or is there really something worthwhile under all of the surface nastiness and sniping? I’d be genuinely interested to hear any views that explain Abbott and the coalition’s policies, if only to understand what the future looks like over the next four years for Australia.


Australia continues to hold the rest of the world in its ‘lucky country’ thrall and with a pretty buoyant economy (by global standards) and four cities in the world’s top ten most liveable cities, this perception seems warranted.

But after this weekend, I’m left wondering whether our luck’s about to run out.

Proud To Be Australian?

In the absence of any stimulating TV last night, I watched an Australian documentary series by Joe Hildebrand exploring the reputation of Australians overseas. Hildebrand is a journalist for The Daily Telegraph in Sydney and appears on a variety of TV programs sparking much controversy and debate with his outspoken and provocative views.

Prior to yesterday, I’d never heard of him. But I was catching up with a friend I have not seen since high school and over a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta, we were talking about how Australia has ‘changed’ and more specifically about the ‘race riots’ in Cronulla (which are still so viceral in the minds of Australians that when my friend mentioned them, I thought there had been something more recent than 2005).

Anyway the series, called Dumb, Drunk and Racist, follows the experiences of four Indians invited to take a road trip with Hildebrand to experience the best and worst of Australia. 

The prevailing view in India is that Australians are rude, racist, dumb and drunk to the point of embarrassment, irresponsibility and violence. So Gurmeet (a journalist/ newreader), Radhika (an education advisor), Amer (a law student) and Mahima (a call centre worker) all agreed to face their preconceptions and, for some, fear of visiting the Land Down Under and to share their views on what they experience .

Warrning: Before you play this, much to my embarrassment you should know there’s some shocking language in this trailer.

If you think this trailer is bad, the series is worse. And in some ways better as the generous foursome end the series with a much improved view of Australians having witnessed the hard-working, warm and generous people who are at the heart of Australian communities, both in suburbia and in outback towns. But more often than not, I cringed as I watched, horrified at the boorish, narrow-minded Australians that have become the basis of our reputation in the wider world.

While I don’t believe that the majority of Aussies behave like this, the behaviour of a few is tainting the perception of the whole and I am concerned that Australia, with its ‘she’ll be right’ mentality and sense of entitlement to a land we took from others in the first place, will not really address this.

Our lucky country has never dealt with terrorism, attack or even real economic crisis when compared with the rest of the world so as a nation, we’ve never had to fight for or fear very much.  Maybe our literal isolation from the rest of the world (and from each other – Australia is a spacious place by anyone’s definition) creates a feeling of safe-ness, the urgency of doing anything dissipating in the absence of any trouble on our doorstep. We have a view of our laid back attitude as rather lovable and fun but perhaps it actually hides an unwillingness to step up, ‘rock the boat’ and demand change.

In saying all of that, it was heart-warming to see the surprise and delight of the four travellers at the Australian sense of fun and open-ness – there’s a really gorgeous moment between Mahima and a local when, obviously quite taken with her, he follows ‘pleased to meet ya’ with ‘would ya like a beer?’ and then proceeds to order her purple PomPom drinks, to her absolute delight.

The spirit of community that emerges in our country towns and our tolerance for lifestyle choices taboo in India is also lauded and in spite of the nastiness throughout the six episodes, I found a lot to be proud of.  But it was still hard for me to watch these gentle and intelligent people being abused by foul-mouthed locals. That we are not the only nation facing these kinds of challenges matters little.  For all our easy-going tolerance, there comes a time when a line needs to be drawn.

And the time is now.

Most of the series is available on youtube if you are outside Australia and cannot access ABC2.

A Symbol Of Freedom And Light…

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there was great debate about whether Australia should become a republic. A survey was created (called a referendum) and all of the people in the land were invited to participate. The results revealed a nation divided with the vote to maintain Australia’s colonial status quo snatching victory from the republicans  55/45.

But there was outcry. Some of the people suggested that the questions did not really present a clear choice between Republican-ism and Colonial-ism. And so while the Colonialists won the battle in 1999, the undercurrent of discontent around the Great Republican Question bubbled on.

And in the midst of this, there remained another question – the question of the flag and whether it was really fitting for our modern and multicultural nation.

I love the Australian flag.

I love how it celebrates our southern location and open skies with the Southern Cross constellation.

I love how it honours our Federation with the seven pointed Commonwealth Star – with six points representing the six previously self-governing states and one point representing the territories and any future states.

And I love that it also gives a nod to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 to make the first modern settlement in Australia, 16 years after pioneering Englishman Captain James Cook sailed along Australia’s eastern coastline.

But like most things in life, this is not a simple fairytale and our nation is still on its journey to find a happy ending. Does our flag reflect the indigenous, the discoveries of the Dutch (through explorers Willem Janszoon and Abel Tasman) and the emergence of a multicultural nation inspired by new horizons, the prospect of success borne of hard work and not least, the hopeful opportunity of the Gold Rush.

Is it really a reflection of our modern nation, whether it be colonial or republic?

And then earlier this week, I opened an email from Mum to find a poem that was given to her in the late 1970s by an ex-servicewoman she knew in Cairns. As I read it, I felt proud that our flag held such patriotism and passion in its thrall and my fierce republican heart couldn’t help but recognise the validity – and poignancy – of her words.

Our flag bears the stars that blaze at night
In the Southern sky of blue
And a little old flag in the corner
That’s part of our heritage too.
It’s for the English, the Scots and the Irish
Who were sent to the ends of the earth.
The rogues and schemers, the doers and dreamers
Who gave modern Australia birth.
And you who are shouting to change
You don’t seem to understand
It’s the flag of our law and our language
Not the flag of a faraway land.
Though there are plenty of people who’ll tell you
How, when Europe was plunged into night
That little old flag in the corner
Was their symbol of freedom and light.
It doesn’t mean we owe allegiance
To a long forgotten imperial dream
We’ve the stars to show where we’re going
And the old flag to show where we’ve been.

Out with the old and in with new? Suddenly it’s not such a simple question.

Everything Old Is New Again…

Being in Melbourne over these last couple of weeks has given me the opportunity to revisit some of my favourite haunts and one of these is Southgate. This cosmopolitan stretch of shops, restaurants and cafes line the Yarra River between Princess Bridge and the Crown Casino complex and offers wonderful views of the City Centre across the tree-lined river.

This view takes in the ‘expensive end’ of the City – where Victorian Parliament, designer shops and many of the banks’ head offices are located – as well as the spires of Melbourne’s own St Paul’s Cathedral in the foreground.
A great juxtaposition of the elegant clock tower of Flinders Street Station (built in 1910 to replace the previous station built in 1854) against the more modern buildings behind.

The day we were there it was a gloriously sunny Sunday morning and this riverside precinct was buzzing with activity.

Street entertainers attract a fair crowd…
…while quirky sculpture adds local colour.
Crown Towers Hotel offers premier accommodation for both high rollers as well as those wishing to spend just a few dollars.

But being away means that each time I come back, there’s something new in the landscape. Six years ago, Melbourne’s newest tallest building, Eureka Tower, sliced into the skyline.

Eureka Tower is Melbourne’s tallest building…but only since 2006.

This time it was The Docklands that captured my imagination. When I left in 2004, this area of Melbourne was early in its development so I was curious to see how things had turned out.

View of Melbourne from The Docklands with Etihad Stadium (venue for football matches, concerts and the like) in the centre.

The thing that struck me most were the stark and modern shapes…

New ‘rooms with a view’.
This ‘car park in progress’ generated discussion about its interesting facade.
I love the use of adventurous shapes and textures which really typifies iconic Australian architecture for me.

And there’s even a nod to old London Town with Melbourne’s very own ‘Eye’…

Melbourne’s Southern Star awaiting the installation of its viewing pods. Again lots of opinions amongst Family Hamer about its false start (cracks found in the infrastructure apparently) and its location overlooking Melbourne’s Western suburbs.

So whilst my Melbourne meanderings evoked many wonderful memories, I found much to admire about the clever blend of nostalgia and innovation into a spectacular cityscape…

…and it just makes me wonder what I’ll find next time.

Boats And Bridges…

Being part of a somewhat caring and supportive family, Lil Chicky and I decided that it was time that we do a little window shopping to find the next lucky man in my life. Fortunately, the family had decided to take a ferry ride over to Williamstown yesterday so at 12.30 the family Hamer (including those with a myriad of other names) gathered at Southbank, boarded our ship of dreams and set sail.
The one hour cruise took us along the Yarra River and out through The Docklands which has developed significantly since I last lived Down Under – there are lots of interesting buildings to ooh and aah at on the way but for now, let’s maintain some focus on the purpose of this post and leave architectural meanderings for another time.

The title promises bridges and we headed under many of them – here are my top three:

The Bolte Bridge, named for Henry Bolte who remains the longest serving Victorian State Premier (17 years from 1955). The bridge was opened in August 1999) and also forms an integral part of the entrance into Melbourne by car from the airport. The view of the City from here always feels like a big ‘welcome back’ to me. 
This bridge is a new one since my departure – it was difficult to capture the whole bridge but I loved this side, looking like one of those hooped underskirts from yesteryear.
The clean lines of this bridge and the Australian flag fluttering in the breeze typifies the clean, stark lines of the Australian landscape for me – no idea what this bridge is called either but I loved it all the same.
The weather was gorgeous – a pleasant mid 25C – and a gentle breeze cooled our sun-kissed noses and cheeks as we motored along. There were many boats out of all shapes and sizes, some puttering along at a more sedate pace…

Before we knew it, we had arrived at Williamstown Pier so it was off the boat for a stretch of the legs, something to eat and a hearty discussion about our plan of attack (which mainly revolved around ice-cream).
Docking at Williamtown foreshore…yes, that bright shiny object is the sun…
One of the great things about Williamtown (apart from the ice cream) is the fantastic view of the City of Melbourne so here’s the shot, complete with the millionaire shopping arcade boats in the foreground… 

After a pleasant few hours we decided to head back but finding a millionaire/boat had not gone so successfully so we decided to keep our eyes peeled on the way back. A single girl’s work is never done, you know…

As with some of my past experiences with you critters from Mars, this one seemed to over promise (Global Dream? Really?) and under deliver. I know it’s a working boat and all but a lick of paint wouldn’t have gone astray. There’s always something to be said for making an effort.
Now this is more my style: Sleek and white and celebratory even in name. Unfortunately a small child appeared as we chugged past which is just going a bit overboard (pardon the pun) with the accessories I feel….
This one has a spot in the boot for one’s jet ski. Very handy!
Suddenly the Bolte Bridge loomed above us again, signalling that our sea adventure (well the combined waterways of the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay in any case) would soon be over…
The Bolte Bridge with the bright shiny sun-thing again…
So that was the Day of the Family Hamer, seven intrepid wanderers out to see the world of Williamstown and conquer it with ice cream.
Which brings me (not so neatly) to the end of this post, my last for 2012. And all that remains is to wish you a Happy New Year wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate it.
There’s one ‘sleep’ left peeps – let’s show 2013 we mean business!

The Heat Is On…

Some of you may know that I have ventured Down Under for the festive season this year. Well Christmas has been done, with many a cold cut and cooling beverage and much SPF30 application. Yes folks, it’s warm!

Since my arrival on Sunday in 38.3C, I have been marvelling at how poorly I handle the heat now, particularly when I must do more than lie by the pool and read. But I will do my best to aclimatise so that I can return to the UK glorious and glowing…so that I can rub your noses in it cover it all up with winter woollies.

We’ve been out and about a bit with a Boxing Day trip down to my old stomping ground, Frankston, to see the Sand Sculptures again (more on this in a later post peeps). Suffice to say everything and nothing has changed since I lived there almost 20 years ago…

Frankston Pier hasn’t changed a bit and I remember many a walk along it as a teenager at the end of a day at the beach with friends. It looks empty here but it was buzzing with people about an hour later.
Kananook Creek has had a real makeover with picnic spots and a boardwalk up to the beach. It was not so nice when I was living here.
Boating is big here and in my youth there was many a day spent water-ski-ing or fishing (well that’s the boys fishing and me lying on the front bit of the boat getting a tan).

And under yesterday’s summery skies, there was nothing for it but to have some fish and chips under a shady tree for lunch.

 That’s a nice piece of blue grenadier nestled against a yummy corn jack and scrumptious chips. And in the background, that’s a can of Creaming Soda, not really to my taste but I’ve been on an Australian foodie nostalgia trip – aka ‘oooh I haven’t had that for yeeeeeears!’ – since I arrived.

Lil Chicky has just arrived and we are off for a day of pampering and relaxing together so hope your Christmas has been a good one and you are making the most of whatever the season has to offer wherever you are.


I am perturbed people. Seriously perturbed.

With Christmas fast approaching and a trip Down Under on the agenda, it goes without saying (but I shall say it anyway) that I am looking forward to embracing all things festive with loved ones in Oz this year.

You know, the Christmas Day feast, either a BBQ or a seafood selection depending on whether we are at Mum’s or Lil Chicky’s.

The annual Stocking Sprint – or who can open all the small, ridiculously over-wrapped presents in their stocking first, thereby spoiling the ‘surprise’ element of each piece of tat gift for everyone else.

Or the Festive Forage otherwise known as where will Husband of Lil Chicky hide random pieces of Christmas wrapping at Mum’s place and how long will it be before she finds them.

Yes I am confident that these traditions will resist our continued path through adulthood the test of time as well as Mum’s desire to have a clean house/stop staying up til all hours wrapping teeny tiny presents.

But there is one tradition unique to Melbourne that really brings out the big kid in me, the 5-year-old who presses her nose against the window in wonder (okay maybe my nose doesn’t exactly touch the window any more but you get my drift.)

The Myer Christmas Windows.

Every year, the windows of the Myer Store in Bourke Street Mall pay tribute to the festive season with an animated display of fairytale movement and magic. The crowds, young and old alike, line up and file past the windows, ooh-ing and aah-ing at Cinderella, The Nutcracker, The Night Before Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and many other well-known storybook worlds.

But this year, things have gone awry in a big way.

This year’s windows, unveiled last week, pay glittery homage to…

Russell the Sheepwho has apparently saved Christmas.

Who is this interloper?

What on earth happened to Rudolph and his shiny nose?

Only 33 sleeps to go til I can investigate for myself. 

Stay tuned peeps, I’m on the case…

Some Observations on Mid Life…

I wrote last week about my penchant for the peculiar…well this week I have come across something that I cannot bear to be true.

It just dropped right into my Inbox and before long, Iconoculture’s latest Observation had me shaking my head in vigorous denial.

You see, Kathryn Milner has reported that instead of a girls’ night out, some Australian women are dressing up and drinking tea.

Excuse me, I think not. Who are these women? After all, this is the land of quintessential casual – the Ugg, the barbie and thongs of more than just the foot variety.

The Havianas Thong Challenge – an Australia Day institution in the making

Kathryn has also supplied a definition of high tea: ‘a light meal served before 5pm’.

Well, I think that source is questionable. EVERYONE knows that a high tea is no light meal. It’s like saying a marathon is a gentle stroll in the park. And tea? A ‘high tea’ not really complete without a spot of champers…is it?

And finally, here’s the sting in the tail – the ‘lifestages’ that this trend most appeals to.

I may have left Young Adult-hood behind a few years ago but let me tell you right now, this Aussie sheila is no ‘Midlifer’!

So to provide a more balanced view of an ‘Australian in midlife’ crisis, I offer in evidence:


Cupcakes and Champers – it’s Lush!

and this…

A Commuting Gem

and especially this…

The Rides

So let me sum up by saying that this little black duck is not quite ready for Iconoculture’s version of Mid-Life…

…so just ahead is where it shall stay!

Now where are my slippers?