Marvellous May: A Picture a Day

I have been thinking about this blog post for a few weeks now, but for some reason, the creative juices were just not flowing. Maybe it was the fact that May was a bit of a mixed bag for me or maybe it is because I am going through something of a ”shift’ in the direction I want my life to take. Either way, the words just weren’t happening.

To be honest, I am not entirely sure they are ready to flow now, but the end of June is fast approaching and I haven’t even written my Picture a Month update for May yet. My sister Fiona is going to kill me.

Before you stop reading, don’t worry, this isn’t a post about how shit my life is, far from it. I know I am very fortunate indeed, but I have reached a certain level of dissatisfaction in my current job that I have not experienced before, and it has really got my thinking about my next career move.

Is it post-holiday blues? Who knows. Either way, no one wants to read about employment woes when there are so many other wonderful life experiences to cherish.

One of those was welcoming the month of May in the glorious Pacific Ocean paradise of Vanuatu. We went for Mr B’s birthday, and got to appreciate 10 days of pure unadulterated blissful pleasure. I cannot tell you enough about this little known country. It is breathtakingly beautiful and so untouched. A real gem. And what’s more, only THREE hours from Sydney, a rarity in itself.

The fact that we stayed in the most remote of locations, with limited (read: none) access to the internet and no television meant I had time to think, relax and truly enjoy life’s precious moments with Mr B. You know, the ones that often get swallowed up in the mayhem of everyday life – the sound of his voice, the colour of the sky, the smell of the ocean. It was a feeling of complete and utter happiness.

Needless to say, coming back to a cold and busy Sydney was a shock to the system, but there is only one thing to do when you have post-holiday blues. Book another one. Yes, that’s right, within two weeks of landing back on Australian soil, we had already booked our return flight to London for Christmas.

Boy am I excited. Not only do I get to see my beautiful family and friends at the most amazing time of year, but I also get to go to spend a WHOLE MONTH with them. Even more exciting is the trip I am taking with my Mum and sisters to visit the Christmas markets and beautiful European city of Vienna. I am literally counting down the days.

Obviously, returning from one expensive holiday to immediately book another means the rest of May was relatively quiet. Winter in Sydney is coming, in fact, it is already here, and this means evenings snuggled on the sofa, with a good book and a glass of red, another one of life’s most treasured moments.

This was my May.

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Tanna Island, Vanuatu

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A room with a view

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One final sunset in paradise

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A misty morning

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Winter in Sydney

Awesome April: A Picture A Day

I don’t mean to be repetitive, but I really don’t know where time is going. We are already almost half way through 2014, and I feel like I have done so much and have done nothing much at all – all at the same time.

But looking back at the month of April, I can see that I have been pretty busy. It kicked off with a delightful and surprise luncheon with one of my all time favourite food bloggers and awe-inspiring photographer, Katie Quinn Davies.

As an avid follower of Katie’s food blog, What Katie Ate, I entered a competition to be part of a ‘Girlie Lunch Shoot’ for her second cookbook, due out later this year. I was totally shocked but over the moon to be selected along with a bunch of other fabulous WKA fans, some of whom had travelled interstate to spend the day eating, drinking and sharing stories while being photographed by this incredibly talented woman. Yes, I am a bit of a fan.

Inspired by a day of meeting wonderfully creative women and making new Instagram friends at the WKA lunch shoot, I spent the weekend trying to recreate some of Katie’s recipes, namely her fantastic Italian sausage, bacon, roasted tomato and egg pizza, which quite frankly, was an absolute REVELATION.

I’m telling you, I can no longer eat take away pizza again. Well maybe I can, but this was so good I just want to make it all the time. Since then I have made a few pizzas with ingredients left over in the fridge and not only is it tasty, cheap and a good way to use up leftover pesto, turning tomatoes and a couple of bocconcini balls, IT IS FUN!

Obviously all this pizza eating meant that I have savoured my morning ritual – a slice of lemon and warm water. I have been doing this for quite a number of years now and I find there is no better way to start the morning. I just don’t feel right without it. It was recommended to me by a nutritionist to help aid digestion and cleanse my system and has become part of my daily routine. There is never a shortage of lemons in my house.

April was also the month that I got to catch up with my beautiful Swedish friend, Adam, and his gorgeous Finnish girlfriend, Terhi. Adam was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Cairns after arriving in Australia in 2009, and I have nothing but happy memories of the six months I spent living up in this beautiful part of the country.

I hadn’t seen Adam for four years, as he now lives back in Sweden, but he and his lady were in Sydney for his sister’s wedding, so a traditional Aussie barbecue and a few beers were in order to honour this reunion. The photo of the three of us together marked the start of a fantastic day that involved great company, fantastic dance moves and far too much alcohol.

And if that wasn’t enough, a hectic and fun filled month ended with a 10 day trip to the glorious Pacific Island country of Vanuatu to mark Mr B’s 30th birthday. It was our second visit to the so-called ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ and once again, this country and its people did not disappoint. Private islands, amazing snorkelling, dangerous boat trips, an active volcano, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake and some of the finest lobster I have eaten were just some of the memories we took with us back to Sydney. I’d go back again in a heartbeat.

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Ladies that lunch.

 

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The best pizza EVER.

 

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My morning ritual.

 

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Old friends are the best friends.

 

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South Pacific Paradise.

 

The Month of March: A Picture a Day

Is it mid April already? Time is flying by. I apologise for being rather tardy of late, but there have been so many things going on outside the blog that I have had little time to sit down and think, let alone actually write something. Still, that is no excuse.

March was a fabulous, if busy month, and choosing my top five moments has been very hard. The month was dominated by food, weather and glorious downtime, which I have been relishing with every inch of my being. You can never have enough down time, I feel.

The month kicked off with a fabulous breakfast at a new Coogee eatery called The Little Kitchen. Breakfast is my favourite meal, I LOVE it and rushing to eat in the morning puts me in a foul mood for the rest of the day. I just love that moment of solitude when I enjoy my first meal of the day and there is nothing more disappointing than a bad breakfast. Of course, at the weekend I like to be more sociable and venture out to enjoy the culinary delights of Coogee and the little beauty below more than exceeded my expectations.

Mr B was away for three days at a conference in March which meant three whole days of me-time. While I relished evenings of Downton Abbey catch ups, Sex and the City re-runs, and PLENTY of glossy mags, I also felt like I was missing a limb, especially when I seemed to revert back to my bachelorette ways in the kitchen. I’m talking solitary dinners of eggs on toast, eggs without toast, eggs with leftover vegetables and eggs in every God damn form known to man. That said, I did manage to sex it up with a fancy rye sunflower loaf that cost the earth and weighed a ton, so maybe I’ve stepped up in the world. Downton is clearly rubbing off.

March was also the setting of some CRAZY weather in Sydney. Rain has been rather plentiful since February unfortunately, but there was one storm that was out of this world. It loomed over Coogee like a massive spaceship and really was quite spectacular. I have never seen anything like it in my life, until the following week when it happened again. A sign of global warming apparently.

Of course, I cannot mention the month of March without a nod to St Patrick’s Day, when everyone wears green and everyone drinks black. It would have been rude to not raise a toast to my Irish heritage, but as I am no longer a spring chicken and struggle with drinking on a school night, I had to reign it in after two pints of Guinness – very sad. Even sadder was how rough I felt the next day, after only two pints. I should be disowned by my family.

And finally, March saw me tick off a visit to the final state/territory on my Australian mainland adventure – the Australian Capital Territory. Mr B and I went on a three day road trip to Canberra and were pleasantly surprised by the capital city. Canberra gets a raw deal sometimes, and while it may not have the beautiful beaches of Sydney, or the earthy culture of Melbourne, there is a fabulous community feel about the city. Everyone is friendly, the food is fab, and there are some cracking little bars hidden away if you know where to look, and the hotel we stayed in was utterly amazing. But more on that later.

Here was my March.

Amazing breakfast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avocado on toast with roasted tomatoes, poached eggs and buttermilk curd.

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One of life’s simple pleasures.

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The mother of all storms hits Coogee.

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A pint of the black stuff.

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The final piece of my Australian mainland adventure.

 

February Delights: A Picture a Day

I think I am starting to get the hang of this Picture a Day concept if February’s top five are anything to go by.

Churches, bridges and the beach I see every day made me very happy last month proving that when you take time out to pause, be still and reflect in today’s hectic and manic world, pleasure can be found in many forms.

I guess seeing these things every day means I can sometimes take them for granted, especially if it is raining, the traffic is bad, I’m tired or have had a bit of a rubbish day. But this little project has forced me to look for a positive moment in every single day. I like that.

I must confess however, that a rather nasty bug swooping around Sydney rudely thwarted my picture a day experiment for the first few days of February, hence the absence of any ‘happy moments’ at the start of the month.

But, the good news is I rebounded faster, better and even more snap happy than before and this FOLLOW-UP piece (yes, I am creating a series) showcases some of my most cherished moments from the month of February.

I hope you enjoy.

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A beautifully handcrafted note that both broke and warmed my heart at the same time.

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St Mary’s Cathedral in all its majestic glory.

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Proof that rain can sometimes be colourful.

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Sydney’s lesser known beauty – The Anzac Bridge.

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Beautiful Coogee on the most glorious of mornings.

January Joys: A Picture a Day

I am not really one for new year’s resolutions in the traditional sense.  Instead, I prefer to try and do things that will make me a happier, nicer, smarter, more organised person. This typically includes visiting a new country, learning a new language or trying to create some sort of album for all the photographs I have taken over the years.

I may not get there, and quite frankly, if last’s year’s ‘New Year’s To Do List: The Carry Overs” is anything to go by, I don’t get even close, but I think it is better than trying to stop drinking wine (why is this EVER a good idea?) or eating chocolate (see previous point). Life is too short.

This year, one of my resolutions was to take a picture a day of something that makes me smile, laugh or happy every single day and post it on my Instagram account.  Some days it is easy, other days it is more difficult, but what I love about the concept is that it makes me look for a moment of joy in the every day.

It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, it just needs to be something that is special to me. Call it happiness. Call it contentedness. Call it life’s simple pleasures. I call it a nice reminder that every day, even the shitty ones, can have one solitary moment when, if time stood still, I could happily stay there forever.

This was my January.

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A good book and a beautiful teacup.

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A small man and a big ocean.

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A frangipani flower

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Sydney on a glorious evening

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My brother in Sydney – probably the best thing about January.

In the beginning…

SydneyWhen I first set up this blog almost a year ago, I didn’t really know what I wanted it to achieve. I love travelling, writing, reading, good food, great bars, adventure, my gorgeous man Jon, my fabulously crazy family, and the cutest little dog called Charlie, but the challenges of living on the other side of the world from my family and friends (they mostly live in London, I live in Sydney) can sometimes make you forget the good stuff in life. Even after five years.

I guess setting up this blog was my way of reminding myself that life is an adventure. If you are lucky, it is full of love, it is full of laughs and it is full of happiness. It is what you make it. And on days like today, when I feel sad at being 10,500 miles away from my dearest Dad on his 60th birthday, I have to remember that while I would move heaven and earth to be there, the fact is I am blessed and extremely lucky to have a close knit, wonderful family and a kind and caring boyfriend who love me unconditionally. Sometimes I don’t deserve it.

So there. After months of having a blog sitting in cyber space, worrying about when and how I was going to create that ‘awesome first post’, it is the sense of loneliness and the feeling of missing out that has prompted me to put pen to paper, or whatever the blogging equivalent may be.

I know living on the other side of the world from all that is familiar isn’t easy, but I know I am lucky to have the opportunity to experience it. I have a good job, a great home and fantastic people in my life. I get to go to amazing places, do exciting things and live a truly happy existence. I want this blog to be a reminder of that.