Friday, 24 June 2016

Mornington Peninsula

It was our third wedding anniversary (leather - for those who are interested) on the 15th June, so we decided to do something special to celebrate And we decided to visit Mornington Peninsula last weekend, which is here:

This is largely famous for being a local wine region and if you have been paying careful attention to our previous posts (10 points for those that have), you will see that we were there for a jazz afternoon the weekend before.

At risk of repeating ourselves, we ventured down this path again but this time to near the most southern tip of the peninsula and en route, we bumped into a restaurant where we stopped for lunch and they had a gallery exhibition out the back which included this guilty looking kangaroo:

Other than the hotel, our final destination was the geothermal baths.  A short history of this place is that in the 1970's the Charles brothers had heard that there were hot springs under the ground and decided to buy some land and drill down a kilometer to release these onto their land, where they have since made a mint by building a spa with a number of outdoor pools and charging for access.

Unfortunately, due to the demand for access to the pools (even in the middle of Winter) and our late planning, we could only get a sitting at 5pm and as it has recently been the Winter solstice, things get dark here early and the columns of warm mist ascending from the water obscure everything; so our pictures aren't great and only one is probably worth posting:
Tory in the mist
So, here is a stock photo which should give you a better idea of what it's like:

As you can see, it is a beautiful spot and the pools are idyllic but let me tell you that nothing surpasses the feeling of first dipping your toes and then feet into these pools which stay at a constant 50C.  

Imagine, if you will, the feeling of getting into a bath at home that is just a bit too hot, where you have to slowly ease yourself in inch-by-inch and as you finally fully submerge, you can't help but melt and relax.  This is exactly what it is like but the water never cools.  Consequently, after 15 minutes you start to overheat a little, so it's time to get out and migrate 10 meters to the next pool, where you repeat as above.  It's glorious and we can't wait to do it again.

Mornington Peninsula itself is a beautiful place to be, so the following day we decided to go exploring along the coast and here's just a little taster of what we saw:

Looks surprisingly like Cornwall doesn't it?

Anyhoo, that it's for this week but tonight we go to a burlesque evening hosted by Dita Von Teese.  Stay tuned next week - there will be pictures (you perverts)...

Thursday, 9 June 2016


It's been a couple of weeks since we got back, but we spent a weekend in Lorne and forgot to add it to the blog, so here we go.

To get there, you have to go through Melbourne's scuzzy cousin Geelong, and we were told not to slow down as we went through, in case the natives saw a vulnerability and attacked.

Lorne is on the Great Ocean Road, which is a road built by returned soldiers after WWII, as there was high unemployment and they needed a road, so being ever practical the Aussies employed all these guys to build it.  It's quite spectacular to drive through, as it is literally a few meters from the drivers seat to the ocean and it's quite good fun to watch the sea whilst winding around this fast moving road and trying not drive into a sheer cliff face on the other side.

One of the first stops along the Great Ocean Road is Aireys Inlet, which is famous for having a lighthouse which was in an Aussie childhood show called Round the Twist.

Round the Twist
The following piccies are just a bit of of a view of Lorne itself.  It's a pretty place.

Swing bridge to the local brekkie cafe.  Breakfast almost worth the flight to Australia alone

Strangely geometric rocks on the beach
If you do a Tripadvisor search on Lorne to find out what to do in the area, you will find that Erskine Falls repeatedly shows up, so as it was a local tourist point and we were local tourists, we thought we'd have a look.

Warnings at Erskine Falls - it's a miracle that we survived the trip

Erskine Falls - thankfully no snakes or falling trees

Our intrepid adventurers!
After our near death experience at Erskine Falls, narrowly avoiding falling trees, snakes and slippery surfaces (think Indiana Jones), we aimed directly for tourist spot number two in the area, which is Kennet River and is famous specifically for these guys.

There are a number of koalas in the Kennet River area, but they are shy and only move around once every two weeks and sleep 28 hours a day (or something stupid like that), so most of the time you just get to see their furry behind in the canopy.
Koala Bum

After we'd done our tourist bit, the only thing left to do was eat and drink everything that could be consumed in the local area and then leave.  The most notable moment being when I (Mark) pronounced a 'Cretan Salad' as a 'Kretin Salad' to the waitress, rather remarkably she was very sweet about it and didn't roll around on the floor in uncontrollable spasms of laughter.  Thankfully I didn't get a leafy bowl of kretins either.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Trending in Melbourne: A Brief Overview

I have always loved Melbourne because it is ahead of the curve in terms of trends. But as internet usage homogenises 'cool' into a global phenomenon things have flattened out a bit and wearing deep black clothes here is as cool as it is back in the UK.

That said there are micro-trends. Melbourne is famous for its food (and coffee but we don't drink coffee). And here's just one.  Full fat puddings

This is probably a picture of brioche gelato, with a peanut butter fudge injection and a donut-crumb ... or something.  I am not joking. It is gluttony plus. Either way you'd better invest in stents and/or Statins.  Basically, this is the antidote to all things gluten-free, green-juice based and healthy. This my friends is  actual death by chocolate and it's on its' way to a town near you. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Graffiti Special

Far from the amateurish, deliquent hands of my youth, where I idly tagged the wall of Carpenders Park train station whilst waiting for school to finish so that I could go home; here is some professional graffiti in Melbourne which some very talented people have spent some real time and effort on.


As of last Monday (30th May) I have been in the workplace - more of that another time ... maybe. And so, after a week of being surrounded, and after meeting up with an old school friend who now lives here, I have begun a growing list of Australianisms. They may speak the same language but they very much have their own coloquialisms! Here are just a few for your bemusement. 
  • I'll give it a nudge = I'll give it a go
  • Too easy = I'm on the case
  • Under the pump = under the kosh 
  • Get something over the line/to get something up = that'll fly
  • I'm flat chat = I'm flat out
  • Flat out like a lizard drinking  = flat out like a lizard drinking
  • You could talk underwater with wet mud in her mouth = woman never shuts up
  • He got loose last night = he got drunk
  • A bit dusty - hungover
  • How did you pull up? - How did you fare at the end of a big night
  • To shirtfront someone - to confront someone
  • Toolbox - an idiot
  • Tradie - plumber, electrician etc
  • Pull your head in - stop being arrogant
  • Ship it = get shot of it (referring to our Fiesta/El Diablo that has been giving us trouble - love driving without a speedo and stalling on the freeway).
  • A pineapple - $50
  • A lobster - $20
  • A Stuart Diver - $5
We will doubtless add to the list as we go. There are doubtless hundreds more that will be making us chuckle as we go native. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Weekend: Sunday at The Dandenongs

I am still looking for work so I have been out and about this week. I've been using the car to go around our local suburbs on little missions. And, as Mark has been stuck indoors working, I thought it would be good for us to get out of town today to see a bit of what Victoria state has to offer. Yesterday was Brighton Beach (see previous post), today was The Dandenongs - just our local rainforest. We did, what for me was, an epic walk. My Fitbit reports a 2hr walk, of 5 miles and 'up' 89 floors' - basically not that far but with plenty of hill action. 

It was a bright but cool day, perfect for walking. It is difficult to show on the iPhone the colours and the light but trust us, it was absolutely perfect. Lots of eucalyptus ...

and clearings where kangaroos and wombats lurk at twilight. 

This was the home stretch with the sun throwing long shadows through the trees. Happiness. And we burned off the chips at lunch no probs!

Geographically interested. Well it was here (below). About 50 mins drive from our place.

The Weekend: Saturday at Brighton Beach

One of those things that people say to us is 'you must go to Brighton beach'. So we did. It's just down from St Kilda where we were last week and it was just good to explore the surrounding area a bit. It's a pretty ritzy area although strangely, we didn't find any nice places to eat there. The coloured beach huts are a tourist attraction as you can see - lots of folks taking the same photo in front of the one painted as an Australian flag.  

Like these idiots below. 

If you just take a short walk past the photo opportunity it's actually a really lovely beach with lots of other pretty beach huts.

If you are wondering where we were see below. 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

El Diablo

We are finally mobile, no longer constrained by the boundaries of the Melbourne public transport system and in the words of the Soup Dragons, we're free to do what we want, any old time.

Drum roll please ladies and gentlemen...

...we give you El Diablo!!

She doesn't run on petrol, she runs on Fire and Brimstone and she's got 1.6 litres of fury under the bonnet, soon to be released on the sleepy and unsuspecting roads of Australia, leaving a trail of ruin and pain in her wake.

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Monday, 2 May 2016


As you know we are scratching about trying to furnish our new house at the moment and I thought we would just give you a little taster (for those of you not on Facebook) of the things that are being offered for free on Gumtree in our locale.

They say beggars can't be choosers but I don't think we'll be taking up the offers.

Anzac Day

For those of you who, like us, didn't know 25th April was Anzac Day. Originally it was a day to commemorate the landing of tens of thousands of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli (Turkey). More recently, it is a day to commemorate servicemen and women past and present. 

It's a big day in the Australian calendar so it is a bank holiday.  Mark took the day off so that we could join in the ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance in the centre of town. It was a very moving experience with people of all ages in attendance. We got there just in time to see the last of the bands walk from Flinders Street to the Shrine and followed them all the way. It was quite a walk for those more elderly servicemen and women. 

I did take several videos which capture some of the tremendous wall of sound that hits you as a band marches past but sadly the blog will not permit me to put it up due to its size. Needless to say it was a tremendously solemn procession and we both felt humbled to be able to observe a day that is not widely acknowledged in the UK. 

We didn't take the picture above but it did look as bright and beautiful on the day we went. 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Steps in the Right Direction

This is a picture of Mark, post-extremely rainy run this evening. It is absolutely chucking it down and he got a dousing but good on him for committing to his marathon training. Just 25 weeks to go!

Not quite in the same league but I have given up caffeine. And, despite this small sacrifice, it is killing me!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

New House Alert

SO ... much to our surprise (given our shaky employment status) we won an open-house bidding battle to become tenants of this lovely terrace cottage in Fitzroy today! 

From the front

The house is old and very basic but full of charm (like our old sweetshop in Berkhamsted) but its it's pretty large inside. We were both really keen to move into a house in this style because it is very typical of the city.  

To get your bearings, we are just north of the CBD (Central Business District) which is shown on this map as Melbourne. Our area is Fitzroy which is generally a bit hipster - lots of people wearing black, great restaurants and bars, and lots of creative people. 

Below are a couple of photos from the agent which will give you a flavour of what we're in for. Below: the front bedroom (with the only stick of furniture throughout, a BIR - a built-in robe)

Below: the living room

Below: the ill-equip'chen. Mod cons include (and are limited to) a sink and a stove. Whoop! Good job we have some wooden spoons coming in the shipment. 

Below: Garden needing TLC. Our Air B'N'B host (where we are now) has offered us cuttings of the succulents that we have been looking after for him so these will be going in our new (desolate) garden. 

So ... we are now landlords AND tenants. Cheesy-grin-outside-new-front-door alert. 

Finally, two notes:

1) There is a big spare room and it is yours if you want to visit. Come and see us! Book it, just do it!

2)  Do not send post here, we won't be living here for a while! We'll let you know when moving in day is. 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

St Kilda Calling

Mercifully, Mark is still gainfully employed so even though it feels like we are on a holiday, weekends are still sacred. So today the weather was lovely and we decided to head down to one of the beaches in Melbourne, St. Kilda. We stopped off at a familiar haunt, The Galleon, for an epic breakfast. 

 Above you will observe Mark, in his new habitat, wishing I wasn't taking a photo. 

And Luna Park, an ageing seaside amusement park we have never been to. 

But we did do a good walk - 10,000 steps from St Kilda up to South Melbourne Beach prospecting places to live. 

And we dipped our feet in the water. And yes it was bloody freezing (Neil we think you'll be ok in there though).