Tell me how it ends

Wouldn’t we all like to know? It’s the intriguing question posed by this year’s Melbourne Writer’s Festival – this time impacted by the extended lockdown in Sydney, rather than Melbourne. We live in uncertain times with no ‘neat ending’ in the words of Artistic Director Michaela Maguire. As I mentioned last week I think we are writing our own stories with ourselves as the main characters with ‘no foregone conclusions but infinite possibilities’.

One of the things I love about Mr Rosanna was his saying from early on in our days together that ‘anything is possible’ and I still believe this to be the case – good and bad. While we are in our final month of winter here in Melbourne, I’ve seen flowering gum nuts on my regular walks and wattle out on the trees, which now reminds me of my organisation ANZSOG whose logo is the wattle (representing Australia) and the silver fern (New Zealand) which is emblazoned on the walls of our new office at Melbourne Connect and a lovely reminder of my colleagues and our neighbours over the ditch, with whom we share much in common.

Image via Nancybird

I also love the new Woodland range from Nancybird (above and below) – a label which has collaborated with botanical artist Nicola Woodcock to produce some nature-inspired garments and accessories that herald the new season that is almost here and encourage us to awake from winter.

Image via Nancybird

Arts and cultural events can now be tentatively held in Melbourne and it’s great that Patricia Piccini’s exhibition has resumed at Flinders Street station and been extended until 2022, and tickets are on sale for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Winter Edition being held 20 – 29 August, which includes plant-based food event Welcome To The Jungle with $15 tickets right up to Synaesthesia: Vue De Monde X Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with tickets at $750! That one might be a once in a lifetime experience only.

Image via MFWF

Closer to home, Banyule Arts and Culture have been busy with their program which includes a ‘magic and movie night‘ on Friday 13 and Friday 20 August featuring a vaudeville show by magician Mr Marmalade and screening of Australian movie The Dry at the Yarra-me Djila Theatrette @Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub. Sounds just up my alley!

Speaking of alleys, I was excited to read about retro-inspired bowling alley The Keys currently in construction in a 115 year-old warehouse near the corner of Plenty Road and Bell Street in Preston with an expected December 2021 opening. Featuring 12 bowling alleys, a bistro, arcade, dance floor and beer garden out the front, there’ll be another place to to go to besides Moon Dog World.

Faster, higher, stronger

The Olympics 2.0 in Japan have been a welcome distraction this weekend with Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide in lockdown. Protests not withstanding, I’d prefer to focus my attention on our fellow Australians competing for our country in the land of the rising sun. I was very proud of our swimmers today after watching the opening ceremony live on Friday night and second half streamed yesterday. While it was a different and more subdued event amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, I thought the fireworks, pictographs, live entertainment and drone light show were pretty amazing and a very fitting athlete in Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic torch.

Vintage Japanese print

Japan had risen to the top of our family bucket list before COVID-19 hit and it remains there now – we hope to visit when we can for all sorts of different reasons – the people, the food, the culture, the history, technology and landscape – I think there is so much to experience as this Traveller article shows. I’ve had family teach English there, while I worked for Japanese department store Daimaru when I was a uni student – way before the likes of Uniqlo, Muji and Daiso arrived in this country. Mr Rosanna and I have just finished watching Anglo-Japanese series Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame) on Netflix – it’s been a real thriller. If you’re a lover of Japanese design, Mr Kitly and Provider Store sell some unique pieces, albeit more on the pricey side. Kaoru Rogers also sells her delicate handmade jewellery at egetal in Melbourne. We were lucky to pick up a vintage Japanese print (above) on our recent trip to the Mill Markets in Daylesford.

My Kitchenaid mixer

It’s not been an easy time for us in Melbourne and even harder for our northern friends in NSW who I fear have a long journey ahead of them similar to ours last year. I have friends caught up in the recent outbreaks having to isolate at home not even being able to go for a walk or exercise outside of their home and I’ve been thinking of them this past week. My work team was asked to talk about something that gives us a sense of momentum and moving forward this week but for me, it’s been more immersive experiences where you lose sense of time and place that I’ve focused on – yoga, cooking, walking, running and even washing my car have all allowed me to be still in the moment rather than wishing I was somewhere else.

Fornasetti wall plate

I had family contribute to a Kitchenaid mixer for my recent birthday so I got my bake on last weekend while my girlfriends bought me a Fornasetti wall plate (my favourite design featuring opera singer Lina Cavalieri sipping from a cup) – they are a collectors item and Mr R hung my plate last weekend in our kitchen, which has given us both great pleasure this week cooking at home.

It’s been helpful to re-frame thinking about lockdown and choosing instead to see this as ‘cosy time’. There is in fact a cosy collection exhibition using vintage wool being held by fashion designer Kara Baker next Saturday (above) and it’s Open House Melbourne this weekend which you can visit online. While we can’t go to restaurants or visit the library, I’ve been amused to see the owner of Italian restaurant Mr Bianco in Kew offering The Italian Job home delivery in his mini cooper and YPRL mobile library offering click and collect. I’ve been walking in my local area and it’s been lovely to see a street library book stand in a nearby front yard and another house giving away free lemons to passers-by. There is no shortage of Melburnians thinking of their fellow residents at the moment and it’s important to remember that this is by far the great majority of people as much as it’s not what the media reports.

Mr Bianco home delivery service

I’m gearing myself up mentally for another (hopefully partial) week working from home in lockdown – I’ve managed to progress ANZSOG’s alumni strategy and related operational plans but it’s been a slow process. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself as I think if you can simply put one foot in front of the other at this time – you’re doing a good job! Have a great week and fingers crossed there may be some good news for us all here in Victoria.

YPRL mobile library

A tale of two cities

It’s not London and Paris during the French Revolution but Melbourne and Sydney going through a very different kind of sudden and great change with the COVID-19 Delta variant unleashed in our communities. While I am hopeful Melbourne can get on top of this latest incursion, I fear it may take Sydney a while longer given the number of cases in their community. No one wins either way while borders remain closed and citizens locked down. I can only look forward to the time when Australia is once again open internally and externally.

Melbourne Connect – womin-djerring (come together) open air oculus garden

Prior to lockdown 5.0 I had been busy. I didn’t post last weekend but I was so proud to see Ash Barty win at Wimbledon to cap off NAIDOC week – she is an absolute star. I also watched Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra during that week – the incredibly moving story of the three Page brothers who created Bangarra Dance Theatre (now in its fourth decade). While I have posted about Indigenous Art Centres before, the Design Files have published a great list if you’re interested in supporting local communities and artists. With so much time spent at home this past 18 months, many of us are seeking inspiration in our home environments and a connection to our country and First Nations people.

Melbourne rooftop views from my office

The latest outbreak has indeed struck close to home with the Banyule City Council office and other locations in Greensborough now Tier 1 sites so it will be incredibly important to support our local community once we’re out of lockdown. I’ve been pleased to see Asian grocer In Plenty on Lower Plenty Road and had been interested in attending the Fable exhibition at Sanctum Studio in Greensborough featuring the work of artist Jessica Page (I have one of her original artworks from my time as publicist for The Light Factory Gallery) and photographer Melanie Faith Dove. It’s quite Alice in Wonderland and I hope they extend the show – it’s been inspiring to see such imagination at play.

Image credit: Banyule City Council (supplied)

There is a follow up Rediscover Banyule survey being run by my friends at council if you have time (don’t we all at the moment?) to complete by this Sunday – there are 10 hampers worth $100 to be won so a good incentive and you might just discover somewhere new in the ‘hood to visit. I hope this time passes quickly for you given how fast this lockdown came on – I don’t think any of us have had time to process it, which is probably a good thing – we just find ourselves here in all too familiar territory.

Mr Rosanna setting up at home

As for me I’m not taking the past few weeks since lockdown 4.0 for granted, we were able to go on a regional trip and some how, some way I was able to hold a private dinner party at home last weekend to celebrate my birthday after my actual day was a non-event due to family illness. Yes, that’s right – I had 10 of my closest friends and family over to our house where I had food by Luckman Catering who did an amazing job (although I did feel for the chef Brad who cooked everything outside under our carport in not-so-balmy less than 10 degree weather).

Me with some of my besties – Nik and Mylinh

Mr Rosanna and I spent last Saturday madly rushing around to Dan Murphy’s Alphington to buy drinks (staff provided excellent suggestions/advice), I picked up some beautiful flowers last minute from French Blue in Heidelberg and had ordered a cannoli cake earlier from Pelligra Cakes in Greensborough. Mr R was also on music duty helping me compile ‘Dinner’ and ‘Dance’ Spotify playlists in the 48 hours prior to my event which was well worth the effort in terms of atmosphere and given my girlfriends and I danced until after midnight. It all seems like a dream now and I feel incredibly grateful for having been able to sneak it in, especially given the amount of birthdays, weddings and other celebrations that many people I know had planned for this weekend.

Jules and I still dancing all these years later

I am a glutton for punishment as I had my second vaccination booked last Sunday morning which I couldn’t shift (and didn’t want to despite having a party the night before). I am now in the words of my Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith AO ‘older and Pfizer’ and while my side effects were minimal with the first jab, I was not so lucky with the second. I went down on Sunday night with a headache, aches and pains and general wipe out spending two days home unwell in bed. I did make it into our new office at Melbourne Connect on Wednesday where I got to marvel at the views from my desk, grab coffee from Wild Timor cafe (who also have an outpost in Heidelberg West) and ramen from Raku ZEN Simple Japanese for lunch before we went into our fifth lockdown.

We may be in lockdown but it’s important to exercise and socialise (virtually) if you can and try to keep your spirits up or immerse yourself in something creative/relaxing. My friend Nik who is a yoga teacher has sent me links to Tara Talks – some online guided reflection by Buddhist teacher Tara Brach. You may enjoy this one on ‘Savoring as a Gateway to Happiness‘. This time will pass (and hopefully quickly) – we are stronger and more resilient for it and I hope in future, we can look back on this extraordinary period and know we were part of history, including writing our own as people. We can’t change the who, the what, the when or the why, but we can definitely control the how and it’s the how that defines who you are as an individual and your character. All of us have been affected in some way by the pandemic – it’s how we deal with it that counts. Keep going my friends, keep going.

Party like it’s 1999

Well actually more like the early 2000s in my case. It’s me and my bestie Jules (pictured below) looking like extras from a 90s girl band having a joint birthday party way back when. My birthday plans this weekend were dashed by a sick child but the pandemic has taught me, if anything, about the need to just let go and go with things. My family went ahead without me and proceeded with yum cha at Crystal Jade in Melbourne’s Chinatown (food envy also below!) given multiple family birthdays in June and July so I’m glad I managed to have dinner with some La Trobe friends at Va Tutto bistro in Ivanhoe on Friday night, which does excellent food and service.

Me and Jules at our joint birthday party

There are a number of talented young chefs in new food spots in the north-east at Hope Street Radio, Florian and Public Wine Shop. Also love that the Pav Queen in Alphington now has a permanent home in an old butcher’s shop if you’re after an Aussie dessert. And speaking of food, it’s consultation time until 13 July regarding the Preston Market Precinct development which is facing the prospect of 2200 apartments being built on site where the car park is currently located.

Dumplings at Crystal Jade

Change can be tricky and I know artists and artisans located in the famous heritage-listed Nicholas Building in the city (my second favourite after the Manchester Unity Building) are worried about their creative space with the building currently up for sale.

It’s NAIDOC week next week which has reminded me of my voluntary work I’ve not progressed with Women of Colour Australia although founder Brenda Gaddi was mentioned in the media a few weeks ago as was ANZSOG’s Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith AO (my biggest boss) who received a Queen’s Birthday honour.

I was reading with interest about jobs of the future being broken down into ‘hearts, heads or hands’ and working in the NFP space is definitely the former. I think charity roles allow you to pick up valuable skills for use in any environment private or public. The fate of the higher education sector is still a vexed question and I am feeling for my ex-La Trobe colleagues who I feel have been left behind in more ways than one.

Cake Mail cake

On a brighter note, I was thrilled to receive a birthday cake (above) from my friend Martha courtesy of Cake Mail and a book of poetry (below) from my eldest son. That’s a lot of pink!

Get outta town

And so we did last Thursday for a long weekend in Daylesford. After going through lockdown 4.0 and a pretty intense past few months in a new job having to prove myself all over again – I felt very lucky to go away with Mr Rosanna and the kids. In the space of a few days, the Sydney outbreak has spread its tentacles to other parts of Australia so I feel like you are taking a gamble if you go anywhere interstate at the moment.

It makes it very hard to plan anything more than a week in advance and I think you need to be prepared to stay longer than expected (like my hairdresser Mel who ended up in Noosa for four weeks instead of one with Melbourne’s recent lockdown – hard life I know). If you’re a professional who can work from home, it’s become habitual to take your laptop home with you every night and on holiday – just in case.

Wheatsheaf property surrounded by forest

We’d booked our getaway before the last lockdown staying just outside of Daylesford in Wheatsheaf at an AirBnB located off a dirt road in a clearing surrounded by trees and wild kangaroos. Despite the freezing cold (it was less than 10 degrees every day the whole weekend), we loved Ross’s house with the light that spilled in from the clerestory windows, his retro music posters, musical instruments, old record players, plants and books. My kids called it ‘the cozy house’ and while we could have stayed indoors all day in front of the pot belly fire (which was on when we arrived and stayed on the entire time) reading books, streaming movies and playing records – we did venture out into the cold. It’s winter in Daylesford by Easter so beanies, puffer jackets and woollies are de rigeur if you’re heading north. Best to go via Woodend and not Trentham too with fallen trees from the storms earlier this month still being cleared from the roads.

Morning light inside our AirBnb

We spent two very cold late afternoons walking or running around the 2.8km man-made Lake Daylesford where you’ll find the Boathouse Restaurant and upmarket Lake House restaurant, hotel and spa around the corner – I’ve never been but hope to go one day in the future. Alla Wolf-Tasker’s restaurant is still considered one of the best regional dining experiences right up there with Brae in Birregurra, Wickens at Royal Mail in Dunkeld, Jackalope on the Mornington Peninsula and Provenance in Beechworth if you have a special occasion in mind. There is also some gorgeous looking accommodation in nearby Leggat Street overlooking the lake itself.

Front window – Michael Parker Gallery

On our first full day, we had lunch indoors at old favourite Koukla cafe at Hotel Frangos on the main street, while it was cold and grey outside. We ducked in briefly to Michael Parker Gallery which is well worth a look as much as we didn’t buy anything – the blown glass tulip ‘chandelier’ in the window had caught my eye as well as the beautiful building it’s housed in. While high end shops (with prices to match) abound in Vincent St particularly near the roundabout, our low key holiday vibe was matched with some low-fi shopping including buying a couple of new and second-hand books at Paradise Bookshop (a small copy of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran for me and one of Wally Lamb’s hardbacks for Mr R) and a pitstop at Brick Lane Bazaar retro and antiques where I found a miniature elephant to join my herd at home.

Books from Paradise!

On Saturday we spent a lazy afternoon checking out the wares inside the Amazing Mill Markets Daylesford, which was buzzing but not too crowded. There was a fun vibe with retro 80s music playing and even masked up, it was nice to exchange small talk with fellow shoppers -a freedom I’ve not taken for granted at this time. Mr R and I found a couple of decorative pieces for our house (we are fast running out of space) and I picked up a vintage cotton scarf, green ginger jar and Asian dragon teapot (pictured below). Similar to the house we stayed at, you don’t need a lot of money to furnish a home well, you just need a good eye and there’s lots to be found at that market – it’s one of the better ones to visit.

Vintage wares found at the Amazing Mill Markets Daylesford

While there are nice places to eat on Raglan Street in Daylesford including The Farmers Arms, Cliffy’s Emporium and Beppe Bar and Kitchen, we had booked dinner earlier in the week at the Swiss Mountain Hotel in nearby Blampied, which does great food. We’d happened upon it during our last stay in the area and they’d kindly let us in for an impromptu dinner despite being booked out. Mr R had a steak and me the slow cooked lamb and we all shared a sticky date pudding for dessert and there are options too for vegetarians and pescatarians. It was nice to indulge and feel like we actually were on holiday rather than in the midst of a global pandemic. I think we were very lucky to get away for a brief respite albeit one that ended all too quickly.

Mist over Lake Daylesford

We hit the road yesterday driving past the Daylesford Sunday Market at the railway and stopped in at Woodend for a pie and vanilla slice so I definitely needed to go for a run when I got home. I do feel like a bear that’s gone into hibernation and I hope we don’t go into another extended lockdown in Melbourne with all that’s playing out in Sydney and other states. Things feel quite serious. For me – I’m now booked in for a second vaccine shot next month and it can’t come soon enough.

Sisu

While the Danish have hygge – or comfort and cosiness – the Finnish have sisu – a concept meaning strength and perseverance even in the bitter depths of winter. Given many Victorians are still without power in some parts of the state, I am thinking of them today and hope the sun may have lifted their spirits. Make the most of your vitamin D today as tomorrow is the winter solstice in Melbourne where we’ll have the least amount of daylight. I’ve been enjoying spending time in my garden noticing the small things like colour changes in my plants.

Some of our friends have fled to the regions this weekend and lucky them to have got away – I feel like it’s been eat sleep repeat for a while now in terms of life and lockdowns. Keeping up social connections over the winter is really important as much as you might feel like hibernating instead when the weather turns cold, as it is going to get later this week.

While I’ve been doing a lot of home cooking like most of us, I have noticed a number of new places open locally including franchise Hecho en Mexico in Heidelberg. Mexican Taco in Rosanna has been open for a while now and I’ve heard good things about La Pinta in Reservoir if you like Spanish food. In Ivanhoe East, Lucille Bistro has opened as well as the upmarket looking Vinoshi’s Beverage Shop.

I seem to have become my team lunch venue organiser too so Ima Project Cafe and Lagoon Dining are both on my radar in Carlton in terms of Asian cuisine while Korean dining experience Chae in Brunswick has also captured my attention open to groups of six people only and similar to Greasy Zoe’s in Hurstbridge that seats only eight people.

Grit can often separate those who achieve success through perseverance over those who give up. This Ted talk by Angela Lee Duckworth has done the rounds but if you haven’t seen it before – it’s an interesting one on the power and passion of perseverance.

Play on

They’re Melbourne football club great Neale Daniher’s fighting words from the game and from life as he has so valiantly dealt with MND since leaving the world of AFL. He has been recognised with a Queen’s Birthday honour this weekend and it’s been great to see more women recognised as well as many other unsung heroes. We have no choice at the moment but to play on and keep going.

It’s been a hard week to be in Melbourne despite coming out of our fourth lockdown- it has taken its mental toll on the strongest of us with its cumulative effect and I hope you have taken it easy this weekend spending time outdoors or dining indoors and supporting local businesses. My plans for an extended family dinner party went out the door, as may end up my upcoming plans for a birthday celebration of some kind. In the end, all that matters is that we are safe and my first world problems are not the end of the world. I’ve joked to Mr Rosanna that we might have a joint party together in the summer of next year instead although I am feeling for friends and family who’ve booked holidays in Queensland and hope to go once term 2 ends. My fingers are crossed!

It may be safer to go regional and I’ve also heard the snowfields are looking good this year if you’re feeling up to it. We’re yet to take our kids skiing given it’s not an inexpensive sport – friends have taken advantage of buying ski clothes from Aldi and a number of retailers also sell ex-rental and second hand kids snow gear if you need to keep costs down.

I’ve heard retail sales are actually up this weekend with the 25km rule and no house visitors still in place. I’ve indulged in some retail therapy buying some coloured pots from Plantsmith in Preston filling them with succulents being sold in one of my neighbouring streets (pictured below), which has made me happy. I’ve also fallen in love with these whimsical limited edition prints (above) from Annie Davidson, which have captured my imagination.

My win this weekend was rocking up to the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton yesterday for a walk-in Pfizer jab after hearing from a friend it had been quiet on Saturday. There was no queue outside but the process inside took a good 90 minutes not including the 15 minute observation time after vaccination. It was very peaceful staring up at the angels painted on the ceiling of the world heritage listed building where our fellow Melburnians quarantined 100 years ago during the Spanish flu. Being the small world that it is, my uni friend Kato turned up in the queue just ahead of me and recognised me even with our masks on and I ended up making friends too with the random female stranger in front of me only to discover we had a mutual friend in common. Six degrees of separation…

I barely felt the Pfizer shot going in (unlike the flu shot) but I did have some pain at the site a couple of hours later when the full force hit – it feels like being punched in the arm so I took panadol last night to sleep. I went for a run yesterday and walk this morning and feel fine but Kato said she’s felt nauseous (despite being active too), which is a more unusual symptom. Side effects aside, I feel very lucky to have been able to get vaccinated. My besties and I went for a walk today however our plans to meet for a takeaway coffee at Matilda cafe in Mont Albert were thwarted when we discovered it was closed however there is always a next time – for everything. While Melbourne is no longer Australia’s most liveable city (congratulations Adelaide!), I have no doubt we will bounce back in time. This article about the great north and south divide here made me laugh – I think I will always be a northsider through and through! Stay strong Melbourne – our time in the sun will come again.

And so it goes

It’s been a long week and I hope you are doing OK? The cumulative effect of four lockdowns here in Melbourne has taken its mental toll – I found myself losing momentum as the week slowly came to an end last week. It’s been hard to stay motivated and I don’t think any of us should be too hard on ourselves.

Potato gems? Yes please! Sticky date pudding – bring it on. A hot jam donut – why not I say. Guilty of all the above and I’ll be baking some chocolate brownies later today just for good measure. It’s officially Winter in Melbourne and bitterly cold outside so why not try to warm the cockles of our hearts and look for comfort at this in between time; anywhere, anyhow and any way you can find it just as long as you’re not hurting anyone else. Our slow cooker has also had a serious work out in our house since buying one a month or so ago so yes I’m going to need to up the steps I’m not currently walking.

I’ve been reading about people seeking support through online groups and think it’s wonderful for those who need it. As a professional worker, I’m a bit over connecting online given the amount of Zoom and Teams meetings I’ve had this week but think if you’re up for it, we are definitely blessed to still be able to connect with other people over this time. I’ve actually made some good old fashioned phone calls to friends and family this weekend and gone old school. It’s been nice to hear someone’s voice but not have to look at a screen.

Of screens, it is a privilege to be able to stream entertainment (I’ve often reflected over this pandemic of people in wartime who had nothing but the radio) – my kids have loved The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Shadow and Bone and currently Sweet Tooth while looking forward to Loki and Lupin Season 2. Like many people, Mr Rosanna and I watched Kate Winslet’s extraordinary tour-de-force performance in Mare of Easttown and have also watched sci-fi series The Expanse and now True Detective – some of whose episodes are rated in the nines on IMDb. I’ve also caught a couple of episodes of Halston on the American fashion designer (starring Ewan McGregor) given I love the whole 70s disco era as you’ll note in the vintage gold number I wore on my wedding anniversary (above) before lockdown – yes, trying to hold onto some vestiges of glamour now that I’m hanging out at home in my trackie dacks and ugg boots…

My heart is broken for those working in the arts, tourism and hospitality especially in the CBD- the Rising Festival was cancelled although the organisers hope to resurrect some of the installations for next year and Patricia Piccinini’s work titled somewhat ironically A miracle constantly repeated at Flinders Street Station ballroom will be re-opening in August. It was National Reconciliation Week last week and I’ve been really pleased to see First Nations people and designers represented at Australian Fashion Week and locally at Craft Victoria. We have a First Peoples program and strategy staff member at ANZSOG and I find it very rewarding to be playing a part in having more diverse people represented in the media and marketing worlds.

Time out

I perhaps spoke too soon last week regarding our freedom when in a matter of days we’ve found ourselves in lockdown 4.0 in Melbourne! And no, I didn’t see that one coming, which goes to show how fast COVID-19 moves especially now with the different variants. I feel very grateful to have celebrated a happy occasion last weekend and sad for those who had local or interstate celebrations and business booked over this seven day period. There have been many more exposure sites this time around as much as cases seem to have been relatively contained – my own team at work had a near miss after going to St. Charly cafe (because the Green Man’s Arms hotel was closed) for lunch on Monday.

Fingers crossed it won’t be any longer and while I’m personally relieved to have had things placed on ice this week (three events were cancelled but I was only wanting to attend one of them), some of my family and friends are feeling the effects of the past 18 months and it has been a mental battle for many of them who are feeling worn down or worse. Self-care is really important because if you’re not OK, you can’t be there for anyone else. Make sure you access any support you may need over this time.

24 Wilfred Road Ivanhoe East (above and below) via realestate.com.au

The sun has made things bearable today and it’s good if you can spend at least 15 minutes outdoors every day over Winter. I’ve spent time in my garden today and will go for a run before the sun sets tonight although I’m expecting it to be like Bourke Street at the park. It’s not just the sun that’s made me happy but also that I’ve been able to book my first COVID-19 vaccination. If you haven’t had any luck on the hotline – online bookings can be made at Northern Health in Epping. It doesn’t really help to get too emotional about things for me – we are where we are and things feel different this time around because there is a vaccine and we can take action to help ourselves and play a small part in moving beyond this global pandemic. And make no mistake, I think we’re all very keen to move on and have life return to some semblance of normal instead of this stop start existence.

It’s important to remember too that this time won’t be forever and even in this strange in between time in our world, we need to feel like we are still living our lives. Whatever gives you a feeling of being in the moment or ‘flow’ is a great comfort and antidote to negativity and pessimism in terms of focusing on what you can do – it can be a period of great creativity and imagination. Things will get better but this year was always going to be the sequel to last year. I’m hopeful that 2022 will be better if you can take a long view. This whole pandemic has been a lesson in patience and acceptance.

Mr Rosanna has actually been doing a high performance mindfulness course at work, which he’s found quite transformative and that’s saying a lot as he’s done many courses over the years but this one seems to have stuck. He’s been inspired to buy this book ‘Breath’ by James Nestor and I’m looking forward to reading it after him – breath (or pranayama) is an important focus of yoga and one of the reasons one why I think yoga is so beneficial and not just at a physical level. If you can remember to breathe and let go if you’re feeling tense for whatever reason, it can be incredibly calming.

I’ve reverted to working from home this week but been busy helping recruit alumni once again for ANZSOG’s upcoming marketing campaign and we have some very high profile public sector leaders currently doing leadership courses with us. This time around, I hope to take a more active role in the process rather than just at the start and I’ll share more on that in coming months.

Finally, while I think the local real estate market won’t pick up again until Spring, this beautiful Art Deco house at 24 Wilfred Road in East Ivanhoe is up for sale and I’ve driven past it a number of times over the years. While the renovated interiors are perhaps a little dated, I love that they’ve retained the original bathroom and the exterior spaces are gorgeous. What an idyllic environment for one lucky family.

Eat, drink and be merry

It’s been a glorious weekend sunshine-wise and are you making the most of our relative freedom at the moment in Melbourne? I’ve started having friends and family over at our place for catch ups (or dining out at venues) including more planned as we head into the winter months, when I think it’s even more important to stay connected.

There’s not much open around here on a Monday night so I actually caught up a few weeks ago with some ex-La Trobe friends at gastropub – the Postmaster Hotel in Kew and it was a good place to go, with good food, when most other local places are closed. We’ve also had takeaway pizza from Doey’s in Rosanna, which was delicious (it’s always about the base).

Amuse bouche starters at Sunda

Mr Rosanna and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this weekend with a special dinner out at south east Asian fine dining restaurant Sunda at 18 Punch Lane in the city. I have to say, the food was excellent (set menu) – surprising, exciting and different in terms of flavour combinations, ingredients and composition. It was also beautifully presented (as you’ll see from the photos) and given the fairly minimal, almost industrial setting inside, the food was definitely the hero along with some exemplary customer service (we had three staff looking after at us at one point). Expect to spend at least $200 per head (plus drinks) if you go.

The main event (Lamb cooked two ways – delicious!)

I would go back again as food-wise it was right up there with places like Vue de monde, Maha and Gimlet. The only minuses were that Sunda doesn’t serve coffee (in Melbourne!) and the ambience could have been be upped for me (Longrain next door looked more enticing in terms of atmosphere).

Winter is coming and The Winter Village at Fed Square where you can dine in an igloo under the stars or go ice skating started the other week. There is also the Winter Night Market at Queen Victoria Market on Wednesday nights from 2 June, and the market is also hosting the upcoming Donut Festival on 6 June! Who doesn’t love a donut? I think the very first Spanish churros donut I ever ate (with icing sugar not chocolate) was there.

Is it a mushroom or a meringue?

It is a privilege to be able to indulge in such winter activities and I’m conscious that it’s not a fun season for those in less fortunate circumstances. I came across a sleeping homeless man around the corner from my work the other day and it’s both confronting and heart breaking to see people sleeping rough as it gets much colder. If you are in a position to donate or volunteer, there’s a local charity group called 300 Blankets who provide blankets as well as run a Soul Kitchen (temporarily closed in Preston).

Enjoy this last week of Autumn!