Down an alley I found some birds

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Well, I found the sound of birds and a lot of cages. Maybe the birds were having lunch??

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2011: My year in photos

June: A new camera, a revived hobby.

July: Farewell Adelaide (for now)

August: New sights

September: A month for eating and walking. Lots of eating and walking.

October: A month of clean air

November: Home again, and new thoughts on Australia

December: A solid month of sewing. Just keep sewing, just keep sewing.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”- James Dean


One of my old photos using my film SLR. The beauty of Australia

I have been back from my big adventure for a month now and it feels like so long ago. The first few weeks were a huge adjustment period where my life was at a cross roads with multiple options and exits. Which ever option I chose my life would be different. Part of me was still very much in love with London, and if nothing turned up I was ready to go back. But then the other part had a new found appreciation of Australia. I saw a beauty I had once over looked and could now see why so many people make this country their home.

Recently I watched a speech given by Steve Jobs (RIP) , creator of Apple, to the new graduates of Standford university. He gave them three pointers.

1. Joining the Dots: Life may seem like its not going the way you planned or you can’t see a connection, but one day you will look back on your life and be able to connect the dots through every event in your life and see how important it is. You can’t connect the dots going forward, only backwards.

2. Love and Loss: This one is harder to explain in a general sense but I will try my best. If you can find something you love to do and are able to make a career out of it then you are very lucky, so stick to it. Follow your dreams but don’t be scared if it doesn’t always follow the ‘correct path’. Steve got fired from his own company, but without that ‘loss’ Apple would not be the incredible company it is today.

3. Death: This one brings me back the the title quote ““Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” Steve had a similar moto. A moto which I will now use to help guide my life. If you asked yourself every day ‘if I died tomorrow, would I be doing what I am doing today?” If you answer no too many times in a row you know it is time to make  change. After all, what is the point of life if not to enjoy it?

So here’s to the newest chapter of my life. Who knows what it will bring, but if I am enjoying it then it doesn’t matter!

 

Home = Food

I arrived home on Thursday to find my little Adelaide suburb exactly as I left it 3 months ago. The same people could be seen wandering the shops and the same houses are STILL being built. A short walk with the dog through presented smells I never knew I missed. Its warm and sweet with bursts of flowers and the sea. One thing I never appreciated until now is the amount of space we Aussies have. Its unbelievable. While in England I was talking to someone about our ‘animals’ at home. I said we had chooks, a duck, a dog and a cat. The man replied ‘so you have a farm or something?”. I replied, ‘ nope, just your average Aussie backyard.’ The man was in disbelief and thought I was teasing!

So on arriving home I was quick to begin cooking again in our ‘what used to be small but is now seems huge’ kitchen. My copper frypan and kitchen aid were waiting patiently for me. So, after picking up some zucchinis, I embarked on a simple topping for my lovely fresh baguette.

Zucchini on Toast

So for this recipe:

Take two zucchini and slice reasonably finely. Get a fry pan on the heat and melt a bit of butter (about 20g or so). Start cooking the zucchini, but not too quickly, so a medium heat is good.

In the meantime chop about half a clove of garlic and set aside the other half (you will need this later). Add this with some salt and pepper. Keep tossing the zucchini so it doesn’t get too dry. Chop a little parsley and add to the mix.

Cook yourself some nice bread, something crunchy and chewy is perfect. And when done, rub it with the left over garlic clove.

Last but not least, grate a little strong cheese into the zucchini and turn of the heat. Keep stirring or tossing until its is nice and melted. Tip on top of your toast and voila! Lunch! Very healthy and fresh. Yum yum!

Please give it a try and let me know if you think it needs anything else.

I Still Call Australia Home

3 months of no ballet, and a pose at the Paris Opera House

Tomorrow I leave London, along with a very heavy pack full of London goodies, and head for home. Ahhh home! As much as I have grown to love London, there is a part of me that is more attached to Australia than ever was before. I have forgotten what it sounds like to hear rain and wind on the roof and through the trees. I have forgotten the sound of hundreds of neighbourhood dogs barking at nothing. And I have forgotten what the Aussie sky looks like at night, lit up with billions of stars.

I never really appreciated small things like this until now, sitting in a tiny and stuffy flat in Earls Court. I will miss the people, the arts and the amazing buildings, but I think the lure of home and the openness of Aus is a little too strong.

I have had the most amazing journey though, and even though I come home with nothing in my bank account, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

There is nothing like leaving to know what you have behind you.

I will see you on Thursday Australia!

Lochs, Castles and Kilts

A Loch in the Highlands

Today I am sitting in Inverness, the North of Scotland. It is about 10 degrees and there is a very occasional glimpse of snow on the highlands. Prior to arriving in Scotland I believed it a fallacy that men actually wore kilts and tweed hunting jackets. Now I know better. Many locals can be seen walking down the street with hiking shoes, a rain jacket and a kilt.

Edinburgh Kilts

The Western Highlands

I have become so used to seeing the old buildings, castles and beautiful scenery that I now don’t stare while walking down the street. Occasionally I remember how different it is to Australia and am again shocked by its beauty.

The absolutely drop-dead gorgeous Highland Cow

I am staying in a local B&B where the breakfast is ‘Full Scottish’ involving Potato Scone (A flat bready thing, very addictive), bacon, eggs, beans, toast and Black Pudding. For those of you who have heard of this ‘delicacy’ but have maybe been too scared to try I recommend you do! Don’t be scared off by the whole blood thing. It tastes nothing like you would think. I can’t describe it so you will just have to taste it for yourself.

The oldest street in Edinburgh - The Royal Mile

Prior to Inverness I have been travelling through England on the train stopping in Penzance with a day trip to the little seaside town of St. Ives, Cardiff where I visited a cheese festival in the castle, Chester where I stayed in a 12th Century Pub with ceilings only just high enough for me not to knock myself out, and Edinburgh where I drank coffee in the same cafe that saw the creation of Harry Potter. One week in Scotland and I am completely convinced that Harry, the castle and everything within it is real, alive and kicking 😛

Ancient coffin built into the old Cathedral - Chester

Gate in Chester

A Day at the Seaside - St. Ives

A country gate in Penzance

A classic british stream in Penzance

London take two and a few more views of Paris

My second look of London seems no less impressive than the first. The weather was just as perfect and the parks just as serene. Even my mum has admitted she could easily stay. The old theory of ‘pom’s can’t cook’ must be having a giggle. One every street we have eaten in gourmet bakeries with wood oven breads, homemade cakes and even some nice coffee popping up here and there.

Tomorrow it is off to Penzance to give my lungs some fresh pollution free sea air. Mum and I have made some scones for the journey. Can you think of anything better than travelling through the countryside with a good book and eating free scones? No? Me either.

Speaking of food…. I believe I found the best coffee in Paris. In St. Michaels I came across a very quaint little Italian place called Pippo. The lunch was also amazing. For only 8.90 Euros I got a drink, a pasta (fusilli with creme de champigons a la truffle) and a desert (panacotta aver son coulis de fruit du moment). The tables are in two little rooms up some narrow stairs and from the window you can see Notre Dame. To complete the picture there was a little old lady painting the street scene just outside. Can’t get much better than that!

Organic Steak Pie from the incredible Borough Markets London http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

Artisan bread that was become such a familiar sight in London

The famous Paris sight. If you don't know what this is then you obviously live in a hole in the ground!

Street sellers at Pont Neuf, my new favourite Paris Location

A bridge of Lamps.

Cupids on the Bridge

Bel far Niente – The Beauty of Doing Nothing

After may hours of traveling and a short stopover in the most beautiful town of Chur in Switzerland, I have arrived in Paris. The train journeys were long but never tiresome. For the first leg of the journey (8hrs) I spent my time glaring out the window and taking photos through the glass. With the occasional toilet stop and visit to the bistro I was a very happy chappy. Never have I seen such beautiful scenery for such a long continuous stretch. As soon as I thought it couldn’t get any more beautiful the train turned a corner to reveal something even more stunning.

I arrived in Chur just after dinner time so I loaded myself up with the first sign of food, a slice of yummy crunchy and chewy pizza. mmmmm. Not knowing how large the town was I took a bus to the hotel. (It was probably less than a 5 minute walk but never mind) There to meet me was a very cute room complete with a timber door, bed and a little basin, and from my window I had a lovely view of the mountains. In the morning after eating as many croissants as I thought was polite to take I proceeded to wander the town. I found a little path up the hill and began the hike up. Wow! So beautiful! I came down with such a great calm and happy feeling. I think I’m still on a high from it intact!

At the station waiting for my train to Paris I came across a book store selling english books. There I found ‘Eat, Pray, Love”. A perfect travel companion I must say. In the book the character Liz is in Italy where she discovered ‘Bel far Niente” meaning ‘The beauty of doing nothing’.

I believe I have found this beauty on my train journey and again sitting in the shade of the Louvre, drinking coffee, eating an Almond Croissant and reading my book.

Have you ever found ‘Bel far Niente’?

The classic french image.

Padlocks on the Bridge - Paris

Paris from across the river

Chur

Chur

Chur

I walked up a hill in Chur and waiting for me was this beautiful view

A church against the Alps- from the train

The Alps

Somewhere in Austria

A perfect day in Vienna

What a day! All I can say is I am very glad I left Budapest. I may never have seen this amazing city if I stayed, and that would have been an incredible shame!

After a bright and early start, I managed to decipher my first european train ticket, find my seat, store my luggage and settle in for a beautiful journey through the Hungarian and Austrian countryside. The change in landscape was dramatic and I could feel myself getting happier and happier as the journey progressed.

After dumping my bags at the youth hostel, I rushed out to spend my only afternoon seeing all there was to see in Vienna. What I saw blew my brain! Such beauty! And I must say, the people in Austria were so friendly. In my search for the youth hostel I had one man come up and ask if I needed help finding where I was going (Which I took gratefully having been walking in the wrong direction for 10 minutes). Then, no less than 5 minutes later, a woman started talking to me in German. When I said I didn’t speak the language she immediately switched to english. She offered no directions but merely asked where I was from and made general polite conversation. It is people like these that can make you feel so welcome in another country.

So back to Vienna the city, wow. I know I have said that already, but again WOW! As the day progressed I could feel a huge smile forming on my face with no one to see it except myself. I just felt so lucky to be able to see such amazing sights. (and to eat such amazing cake…see the photos and you will understand)

This is why I came to Europe!

Cake. Need I say more?

At last, a lunch I can proudly put on my blog. Simple but delicious!