A year in the life 2016 #314: off to Darwin

Time to head to Darwin for the Training Awards.

I have five days in Darwin as we have the trainkng awards ans Ministerial Council. Even though I had started my new job last week, it was a bit too late to change the arrangements for this week so there I was, ready to manage two jobs essentially at once.

At least I got to have a swim once I checked in – so hot! Made worse by the fact my room wasn’t ready for nearly two hours after I arrived, and there was only so much walking the streets I could so before I melted.

There was also a lovely sunset and, even better, a lovely mojito.


A year in the life 2016 #267: new country new beverages 

I got to try the luminous Inca Kola, the favourite soft drink of Peru. Apparently Coke tried to mess with it once and got a very poor reception. It is camomile flavoured, fluorescent and rather sweet.

I also tried my first pisco sour. Delicious! And strong!

A year in the life 2016 #48: Friday night adventures


Kangaroo Island gin in the Botanic Gardens. Delicious in a gorgeous setting.


Learning the history of gin and tonic was a bonus.



But the gin was the star.



A stop for a drink at the Ebeneezer Place night markets.



A lovely finish to the night discovering a hidden wonder – Thrift Shop, a little cocktail bar tucked away off Waymouth Street. Serving only Australian spirits, there were some delicious cocktails on offer.


2015 weeks! #50: Christmas and all that jazz

2015-12-21 13.39.03Who can resist a delicious dessert the week before Christmas? It is the time for indulgence.

Also it is definitely negroni time.

2015-12-21 19.57.50The boys, including James, who were all home this week had begun the epic job of packing up the house. Here are some of my old cassette tapes I was finally forced to part with.

2015-12-23 10.50.30Meanwhile, back at work, my staff had decided how they would deal with me spending time working from Adelaide – and RoboMelissa was born.

2015-12-23 11.39.37Because they are also lovely and know me well, they also gave me gin and flowers.

2015-12-23 14.23.07James and I went out to an “Executive” section lunch. it has been absolutely wonderful to have one EA all year, and ideal that that one person was James. He’s totally brilliant and makes me laugh and yes sometimes we get sidetracked talking about everything but we are so awesome we still get it all done.

2015-12-23 17.04.44Christmas cards from Korea are a little bit weird.

2015-12-24 09.48.52Here’s me on Christmas eve with my lovely new present from Natasha contemplating the fact that this is my last official day working in Canberra until the middle of next year. Of course, I’ll be back in the office in Canberra between now and then, but it won’t be quite the same.

2015-12-24 13.44.44Goodbye office!

2015-12-24 14.31.17And straight off to Merimbula. These boys are terribly cheeky.

2015-12-24 14.42.06Some nice clouds on the way.

While the boys were staying at Jackie’s, there wasn’t quite enough space for us, and James and I were more than happy to find ourselves an alternative. We stayed at a little way away at an old converted church. Pretty cool.

2015-12-24 18.23.31We got into Christmas Eve the right way.

Lovely to have Katie back in the country.

Then Katie and Zac stole my phone.

Pavlova for dessert.

2015-12-24 20.15.39The boys played for us.

2015-12-24 20.37.47A good start to the Christmas festivities.

2015-12-24 20.40.36Christmas morning began with breakfast and food preparation.

2015-12-25 10.23.38Then selfies and presents. I am apparently easy to buy for.

Pigs on the Christmas tree.

2015-12-25 11.48.12Then it was time for Christmas Day cricket.

2015-12-25 12.05.03We also got in a Christmas Day beach visit.

And time for champagne.

2015-12-25 16.13.48Sebastian prepared some scallops.

To the table!

And the turkey looked amazing.

2015-12-25 18.00.59Some people…

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And a lovely sunset.

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It dawned fair-ish on Boxing Day, so we went to the beach.

2015-12-26 11.10.55The skies got more threatening and we headed home – just before the torrential rain.

The rest of the afternoon was indoor activities – perfect lazy Boxing Day.

2015-12-27 09.59.42Even Ollie got in on the lazy action.

The next day was lovely weather, so we spent the morning on stand up paddle boards and kayaks and hitting the beach.

And the afternoon was kite flying. I don’t think we expected it to be quite as much fun as it was, and the conditions were perfect for it.

After dinner icecreams.

2015-12-27 20.30.41Then, once the boys headed back to John and Jackie’s, James and I finished off the day with cocktails at Dulcie’s, a very cool little cocktail bar in an old house, named after its original inhabitant. Wonderful.


2015 weeks #18: If you thought last week’s sunsets were good…

2015-05-10 22.43.53So I woke up ready for a little light reading. This is what happens when you borrow a 4 year old’s bed. 2015-05-11 09.30.34Said youngster and the cat, who seemed pretty relaxed about this somewhat awkward position.

Declan, Liz and I had an excursion into Perth on the train which was fun. Best was getting to reconnect with Liz as it has been years since we’ve seen each other and longer since we’ve had a day to just hang out and talk. 2015-05-12 11.43.17Back at home, I had one day for tights and for being in the office. 2015-05-13 08.12.01One day for admiring the progression of the Canberra autumn… 2015-05-13 09.10.25Then onto a plane and off to the Philippines. 2015-05-13 20.06.09I stayed overnight in Manila at the very stylish Nobu hotel. They were also very helpful when a small burst of food poisoning made me vomit all over the equally stylish bathroom in the middle of the night. I must admit I was a bit concerned about how I would fare the next day as I knew a small plane and a ferry awaited me, but apparently I had gotten it all out of my system.

Goodbye Manila, hello Caticlan. 2015-05-14 07.23.08I was in the Philippines for APEC related meetings – we found we were very welcomed repeatedly.

Boracay, where all the meetings were being held, was a short ferry ride away. 2015-05-14 07.48.36It was rather nice to arrive right here. 2015-05-14 14.01.28Of course, the main part of the time spent on the island involved being in a windowless room as usual in long meetings sitting behind an Australia sign. And discovering the locally available flavour of fizzy caffeinated beverage to help get through the day. 2015-05-15 14.11.40My hotel was rather nice, and I did manage to go to the gym and have a quick morning swim in the pool most mornings. I wasn’t quite as fortunate as the room next to me which had its own horizon pool on the balcony.

The magic of Boracay though really was its sunsets. Our official dinner was held on the beach to take advantage of this, and fortunately we finished each day in time to walk the five minutes to the beach, grab a drink and enjoy the spectacular views.

There was a spectacular sand castle at the official dinner. 2015-05-14 17.59.46   I got to see some exciting electrical maintenance.   2015-05-15 17.54.35 I also got my toe nails painted. 2015-05-16 08.00.58 and generally the weather, while super hot, seemed to suit me. 2015-05-15 08.47.52The local conveyances were pretty cool – there weren’t many cars on the island other than the ubiquitous APEC vans.

We finished our four days of meetings just around lunchtime on Sunday.

In the afternoon, I found our friend Jono who was attending meetings in the room next door and we escaped for a pleasant afternoon at the super fancy Shangri-La.

The week that was…week 49: Delhi

2013-11-25 09.52.32So time to head off again – Delhi this time for a whole week. Almost a whole day of travel to get there, though time differences meant we arrived before midnight Delhi time.

2013-11-26 00.06.182013-11-26 07.22.23Compulsory hotel room view – the haze is smoke which is particularly prevalent at this time of year. It was actually surprisingly pleasant weather – I guess my concept of India was super hot, but we had ideal days of high twenties and nights in the teens. Would have been completely lovely except for the pollution haze and terrible air quality at times, especially at night and in the mornings.

2013-11-26 14.27.43It was straight into work with meetings all day on the Tuesday followed by a reception at the High Commissioners residence. We had a meeting with the Minister for Human Resource Development, Mr Pallum Raju, at his house. As we were leaving he showed us some pictures – his grandfather with Gandhi, another with Nehru, his father with Indira Gandhi… Quite a political legacy.

Drinks at the High Commissioner’s residence were pleasant. There is a very nice lawn.

The next day it was conferencing, but at a different hotel.

2013-11-27 10.26.32We had a site visit in the afternoon to see a training provided. I went to Don Bosco where they teach printing and some engineering trades.

It is useful to see a training site like this and get a sense of the challenges. While they were learning printing a in an environment where they were actually producing things, it is hard to imagine the place passing an Australian quality audit.

Being out of the bus allowed us to see a few more of the sights of Delhi.

Joanna who was travelling with me and I managed some time to go shopping in the evening on Wednesday and discover some particularly Indian Christmas decorations, amongst other things.

On Thursday we didn’t start until 10am, so I had time for a swim in the morning.

2013-11-28 08.24.19It was pleasant to float on one’s back and look up at the birds of prey which constantly circle the skies of Delhi.

2013-11-28 08.49.58

From the pool you could also see this building – the shell had been completed but nothing further. Apparently there are a few around Delhi – if a property dispute arises (which according to stories is reasonably regularly) then all work stops until it is resolved, which sometimes takes years.

2013-11-28 08.51.55

For the rest of Thursday and Friday, however, I didn’t leave the hotel and it was all conferencing and dinners.

On Saturday Caroline, who by happy coincidence was in Delhi with the aid program, and I headed out of Delhi to Agra. But that is another story – here is a brief preview.

2013-11-30 15.47.42On Sunday after another swim and a sleep in Caroline and I caught up again – meeting at the Christmas Fair the the German Embassy. That was a little surreal. We then headed a proto-hipster style shopping area in South Delhi where, hidden amongst the standard Delhi shops and alleys are stores and cafes of both Western and Indian style fancy-ness.

We then went to the Imperial Hotel for some high tea. Sometimes being a rich westerner in developing countries is fun.

Of course, time in places like India does make you think about the scale of the problems faced by developing countries. The scope and challenges of India of simple but fundamental things like clean water are enormous. Or rubbish collection. Or dealing with the many many dogs which roam the streets. And the poverty and opportunities, or lack of them. We try to play small roles in overcoming these things, but honestly, sometimes the scale and scope is enough to make one despair.

But when you can’t solve poverty, it is on to cocktails. We went to a bar called P.O.C. (I think) which required us to call ahead to get the code which we had to enter to get the unmarked door to swing open. It was all speakeasy style with waiters in 1920s gear. While the bar was fairly empty while we were there, it is a haunt of Bollywood stars and the like. They did make a good corpse reviver!

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The week that was….week 45: not a great week


2013-10-28 19.58.48 This was never going to be a great week. James and I had slept poorly with Sebby waking in pain in the middle of the night, I was still feeling frustrated about my finger and then, during the day on Monday we found out that our dear friend Jill, and James’ close colleague, Jill had been hospitalised with pneumonia. Jill had been fighting cancer for many years. In and out of remission for number of years, I think she did almost her entire PhD while being treated for cancer. She had started with breast cancer, but over the last year it had moved into her bones. On Tuesday when James and I were at the hospital getting my finger checked, we caught up with Steve, Jill’s husband who told us that Jill was still needing assistance breathing.

So there was a bit of a cloud over the week – James and I were stressed and tired and emotional.

2013-10-30 17.55.40George was in good spirits. But longing for the outside world. Of course, at the moment when he escapes outside, his choice of activity is sitting under a rose bush, making him quite easy to recaputre.

2013-10-31 07.36.59One up side. My big order of derby socks for both James and I arrived. Yay for new socks. I just wanted to find reasons to wear them all.

2013-10-31 12.55.52On Wednesday I made myself feel better by buying these completely frivolous shoes which I had been stalking for months. I was having a particularly bad day on Wednesday – it was all getting on top of me. Work hasn’t exactly been stress free, and I knew that I was off overseas again on Sunday. And everything else.

2013-10-31 14.40.46On Thursday I managed to guilt my staff into giving me cake. As General Manager, I don’t get invited to staff birthday celebrations when sections hold them – so I miss out on all the cake. I needed cake.

2013-10-31 15.01.32One of my Directors thought I needed vitamins too. Pretty sure I wasn’t looking my healthiest.

2013-10-31 17.47.28I did manage cocktails with Bec (largely responsible for dragging me into derby) and who I hadn’t properly caught up with for ages on Thursday which was a nice interlude.

2013-10-31 18.34.50And came home to find Sebastian making crumble, which is always a nice treat.

2013-11-01 21.57.47On Friday the news we had been hoping we wouldn’t hear came – Jill had died. James and I went out with Steve, her husband, to keep him company and talk about what needed to be do0ne. While it is terribly sad to lose a friend, it is devastating to see the grief of someone who has lost the one person in the world they cared about deeply and to see their emptiness. Jill was 51.

2013-11-02 11.59.28But life goes on. The boys play Lego Star Wars games.

2013-11-02 14.44.49And I take the shoe shopping.

2013-11-02 17.30.44Then Saturday night it was off again – to Korea via a night in Sydney.

2013-11-02 20.00.34My finger dressing fell off (the hospital physio was nowhere near as good at dressing it as the nurses) revealing a rather Frakensteinian sight – but healed, mostly. Fortunately I had all the tools to redress it with me.

2013-11-03 07.54.01

And then on Sunday it was off to Seoul.

Once there I went for an eveing walk. Finished my week with bubbles….

2013-11-03 20.16.08And flowers…