Farewell Winter

I’m glad to see the back of you.  It’s felt a bit never-ending this year and I know I shouldn’t complain given I had three weeks in the Grecian sunshine but I don’t think I could live anywhere colder than here.  That being said, one of the things that impressed me about Greece was that many of the places I stayed in had powder coated aluminium framed double glazed windows and shutters that made a big difference in terms of insulation and noise.  I’ve had yoga friends also comment on the joys of installing radiant heating and if I can ever afford to do it, I would like it in my ‘keeper’ house as I don’t love the dust with central heating.  I grew up in a house with no central heating and I realise this is first world problems we are talking about.

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Double glazed window with shutter  – Naxos, Greece

I was in the city having a check up today and I think Melbourne has become increasingly polarised in terms of the haves and the have-nots.  It’s pretty heartbreaking walking some of the major city streets including Collins and Elizabeth, going past homeless people in a week that’s been bitterly cold at night to cap off this season.  While you can give people money, it’s addressing the causal issues and actions we can collectively take which I think is much more important to stop people getting to this point in the first place.  Melbourne seems to have grown at such a rapid pace the past 10 years or so and our infrastructure isn’t keeping up but I was glad to hear about the proposed underground suburban rail loop around Melbourne that will connect all our trains lines, Universities and airport.  I just wonder if it will happen in my lifetime!

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It’s been a sad week in the arts world with 90-year-old Mirka Mora passing away although it’s amazing that she lived to such an advanced age and still remained so young at heart.  Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen has been raising funds since earlier this year asking for donations to commemorate her birthday in support of the upcoming Mirka Mora: Pas de Deux – Drawings and Dolls.  I was always happy to see her angel paintings on the windows of the original Heide I homestead building where John and Sunday Reed lived and where Mirka herself visited them as a friend.

Wishing you a happy welcome to Spring tomorrow and Father’s Day to those with Dads in your lives.

 

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The F-word

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Image via Bold Thinking Series

Feminism that is.  Details are now online for Embracing the F-word: has feminism had its day? being held on 20 September featuring La Trobe academics – genetic scientist Professor Jenny Graves AO, a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow who has had a long and distinguished career including winning the Prime Minister’s Award for Science in 2017 and Dr Beatrice Alba, an evolutionary psychologist.  They’ll be joined by musician, actor and broadcaster Clare Bowditch and young feminist writer and editor Bri Lee, who recently released her memoir called Eggshell Skull.  It’s a pretty powerful panel and I’ve already spoken to all the panelists who have much to draw from and contribute to what will be a very timely conversation.

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L-R: Dr Sara James, Natalie O’Brien, Francis Leach, Melissa Browne and David de Garis

I had my Smashed avo: is there a war on youth? lecture last night (pic above) at the State Library and it was a fantastic night with another very strong panel all with different perspectives and professional backgrounds which made for a very diverse discussion on the sociological, economic, business, technological and political intersection that we are now at.  My biggest take outs were that Gen X and Y women need to become more financially literate, Millenials have superannuation (if not housing) and opt in on issues online that interest them rather than swear allegiance to a particular political party or union (and that this generation needs to move from the activist space to policy in order to enact some of the change they want to see happen), Gen X have been largely silent because they are in the middle of juggling careers and family and not all Baby Boomers are out there spending their kids’ inheritance.  Some more creative solutions put forward included more social and co-housing as well as simplifying tax concessions, offering more incentives to downsizers and finance to those on short-term contracts, increasing Newstart and abolishing payroll tax.  I finished my night having a late dinner at Cookie with an ex-work friend and feeling a bit weary today.

It’s been an interesting week in politics given we now have a new Prime Minister and I do despair that young people are becoming more disillusioned and disenfranchised by the shenanigans of both major political parties in Australia.  Perhaps some more bold thinking (and action) required there…

The art of travel

Travelling with children is complicated as anyone who has travelled anywhere with babies or toddlers already knows.  Navigating narrow shop and cafe entrances with prams for the first time is a good lesson in what it must be like for physically disabled people who face these challenges on a daily basis.  The need to bring extra bags, clothes, feeding and sleeping items, transportation and equipment is also no small undertaking.  When the kids were that little we liked Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast as a destination given we could get a car with baby seats to pick us up from the airport and drive us straight to self-contained low-rise yet relatively new accommodation with a playground at the beach, an aquarium, marina and main esplanade with shops, cafes and supermarket all in close proximity to each other eliminating the need to hire a car.

With older children, travel has become less fraught physically but still brings other issues.  It’s been a very cold end to winter so now is a good time to book Christmas or other holidays and give yourself something to look forward to.  If you’re lucky enough to be travelling overseas anytime soon, I did want to share some of my travel tips before they became distant memories.

So in no particular order here goes.  Seat selection: it is worth taking the time to allocate and/or pay to allocate your seats well in advance on long haul flights.  If, like the majority of people, you can’t afford to travel business class then make sure you get the seats you want in the same row right next to each other so some of you can stretch out and sleep (although unless you drug your kids and yourselves, I don’t think there’s much sleep to be had when flying overnight).  If your children are over 12, you can be split up as a family as we were on our return flight (middle seats in the centre rows) which was not ideal.  As much as you get the views and perhaps aren’t disturbed as much in a window seat, aisle seats can be more comfortable/practical if you’re someone who likes to stretch their legs or needs to use the bathroom more frequently.  If you do have younger children, keep in mind that airlines generally allocate the first row behind the bulkhead in the middle of the plane to families with babies and toddlers.  If these haven’t been allocated (or there are no babies/toddlers on the flight) – you can try your luck and ask if you can be seated there before boarding the plane if you have extenuating circumstances.

If you have children under 8 and are travelling beyond Asia to somewhere further flung like Europe or the States, I would definitely recommend a stopover to break up the trip.  While this eats into your holiday time, I don’t think the stress of trying to do multiple trips back to back with young children is worth it.  Airport hotels are also a good idea if you just need to do an overnight stay and it’s worth paying more for the convenience of being right at the airport or as close to it as you can be.

Some American Express Platinum Card holders are entitled to two lounge passes per year but again, if you can afford it and your layover is more than 2 – 3 hours, I also think it’s worth the expense of buying airport lounge passes (often now run by third parties) to have a calm and quiet place to escape to where you can all sit down and relax for a period of time and get something to eat and drink.  Standard airport waiting areas can be pretty soul-less places and if you’re exhausted from travelling, any additional comfort you can get while in transit can make a big difference in terms of the whole travel experience.

In terms of packing, if you can fit all your luggage into carry-on you’re doing very well and it means you don’t have the hassle of having to wait after you get off the plane for your stowed luggage to come out.  Business travellers do this all the time but are generally staying locally for only a few days.  You may want to pack your toiletries (in a plastic bag in case of spillage) in your carry-on luggage and a change of clothes in case you get separated from your stowed luggage but this is pretty rare these days. Suitcases with wheels are the way to go or larger back backs with a daypack that can be attached and carried with ease.  We get the kids to take their own small suitcases as carry-ons and pack their kids backpacks flat in our stowed luggage which can be later used by our children if going to the beach or day trips.  At least one light drink bottle is also a good idea to lessen the amount of bottled water that needs to be bought.  Kindles are also great for downloading books rather than packing heavy books and a microfibre camping/travel towel or lightweight Turkish towel may also come in handy, as well as a shawl or wrap of some kind if you’re a woman.  Just be mindful to check your luggage allowance for individual items and remember that you can’t as passengers collectively add your luggage allowance together.  Also try to keep your visa(s) and passports together and I found a Kathmandu zip up shoulder bag with net pockets and other extras more practical to use as much as it wasn’t such a stylish look.  Mr R and I bought North Face daypacks in Vietnam many years ago and we took these on as hand luggage finding them useful when doing our day tripping around the islands to carry towels, bathers and food.  If going to a hot climate like Greece, you won’t need jeans and I found that one set of bathers and pyjamas was enough.

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In terms of first aid, I had gone to our GP to get additional drugs for vomiting and diarrhoea (charming topics I know) as well as a general antibiotic but had failed to pack them in my hand luggage, which I will do from here on in given I came down with a bug while in flight.  While this time around we didn’t need drugs for vomiting, we did collectively use the other drugs we had on our trip so this is well worth doing especially if you are travelling to a second world country but even if travelling to a first world place.  Taking some panadol, nurofen, antiseptic cream and bandaids are also a good idea but most other things can be bought if you need them like sunscreen, insect spray, sunburn cream etc.  Obviously if you are on medication, you need to bring that and possibly your scripts as well.  Don’t forget too to pack glasses, contact lenses, sunglasses, hats and elastic bands if you also need them.

I’ve heard hand sanitizer is better than using wipes but I took both as much as I dislike the alcohol and environmental impacts.  Tissues, ear plugs and eye masks are also handy as well as barley sugar and chewing gum if you get sore ears due to air pressure.  You can also buy a product called ear planes which some people swear by to lessen sore ears.

Whether you use drugs for sleep or travel sickness is a personal decision and I make no judgements.  I have in the past taken pressure bands for wrists and travelcalm (ginger) tablets as well as Bach Rescue Remedy spray and tiger balm to calm my children down.  I also like drinking ginger ale as ginger is a natural anti-nausea remedy.  Mr Rosanna and I also always take Kwells as none of us in our family are good on ferries and boats depending on how rough the water is.  You can buy phenergan over the counter at the pharmacy and use smaller doses for travel sickness and larger doses for sedation for kids bearing in mind that some parents find the side effects have resulted in hyperactive children instead.  I also know some people who are quite happy to take sleeping tablets or valium to knock themselves out (Mr R also thinks a glass of scotch will do the same thing!) but this is for older people only.  We brought neck pillows with us but they can be cumbersome to carry.  Some families keep their kids up the night before they travel so that they will sleep on the plane.  Devices for older kids are also a necessary evil for most parents as well as plenty of food and drink to help keep them all amused.

Mr R and I didn’t get an international drivers licence as most car rentals will accept a country licence although we were refused service at one of the larger car hire places in Paros.  It is also an experience to drive on the other side of the road seated on the other side of the car as we did in Greece although quad bikes are also an option if you don’t have kids and are up for a bit of open air adventure.  We took out RACV travel insurance but there are specific travel insurance companies like Cover-More®.  We also used a Global Currency Card (or travel money card) from our bank and ordered pre-paid international Sim cards from Sim Corner for our mobile phones as well as bought a Korjo travel adaptor to re-charge our many devices.

These tips are completely subjective and based on my own experience as a traveller – I hope that some of them may be useful to you as well.  The weather isn’t doing it for me at the moment so it’s nice to contemplate our next holiday destination as well as re-live some of our recent overseas travel experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

 

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Modern feminism is difficult to define as the word means different things to different people – men included.  I’ve been working on my next Bold Thinking Series lecture in September which will encompass many of the hot button issues of the moment including #MeToo, male privilege and power, the gender pay gap, gender equality, being a female in male dominated industries and the differences between men and women.  My two bosses and I, along with help of a focus group, have assembled an interesting panel to tackle this topic and I’ll share more next week once details are online.  Suffice to say that I think systemic change is needed across broader society in both the private and public sector at a policy level and this can only be done if men and women work together to make it happen.

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Speaking of feminists I did want to mention that Kasey Edwards, who writes for Daily Life on this very topic is launching her Young Adult book The Girl Who Fell (above), published by Black Inc Books, on 4 September.  She’s co-written this with her partner in life Christopher Scanlon under their pen name Violet Grace.  Chris is an ex- La Trobe University academic who will forever be remembered as the man who wore kilts to work.

And yes, this post is dedicated to the memory of soul great Aretha Franklin whose music has been the soundtrack to many of us in life, including Mr Rosanna and me.

Modern life

If you’re a lover of Mid Century Modernism then you might be interested in a Heide Museum of Modern Art and Cinema Nova ticket offer to see a special afternoon screening of Eames: The Architect and The Painter film about husband and wife Charles and Ray Eames on Sunday 19 August.  Tickets of which include entry to see Design for Life: Grant and Mary Featherston – in many ways the Australian equivalent of the American furniture designer and his partner in life.

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Meanwhile I have local friends who have put their modernist home in Rosanna (above and below) on the market if your budget allows for 7 figures.  They’ve poured their heart and soul into renovating their home over the past 10 years and are now ready to pass the baton.  I’ve celebrated a number of parties and one New Year’s Eve with them where the views from their upstairs clerestory windows and balcony in particular are breathtaking as well as the privacy and seclusion of their shaded courtyard and decked pool at the back.  If you’re wanting to make a long-term move into the area, this one’s for you.

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Father’s Day is also nearly upon us and it’s worth getting your skates on if you’ve not already bought a present.  There are some great leather goods and other accessories available from OTAA, The Daily Edited, Status Anxiety, The Horse as well as All the Kings Men Fitzroy if you have a modern man in your life.  Have a great week!

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Getting down to business

VOTING NOW OPEN BBThe blossoms are on the trees and it’s been warmer and windier today but it’s nice to feel that Spring is on its way.  There’s actually a lot going on around in Melbourne as we close out Winter – the ninth Craft Cubed Festival is currently on and their recent newsletter featured local ceramic artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen who has clocked up 40 years of being a potter!  The related HOMEmade Makers Market in Thornbury is also taking place tomorrow.  The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is currently on and the Melbourne Writers Festival will start at the end of this month.  Before that, the Bendigo Writers Festival will be on up north and there are a number of La Trobe academics who will be part of this year’s festival as well as local writer, editor and publisher Blaise Van Hecke.IMG_8380

It’s not in the north-east but The Melbourne Fair is on at the Caulfield Race Course and there are some beautiful vintage and antique wares for sale this year if you get a chance to go.  There’s also a special clearance sale (including some of their rugs) at Metroscope Moroccan Furniture and Homewares in Wellington Street Collingwood if you are a lover of all things Middle Eastern.  Speaking of which, the Old England Hotel in Heidelberg currently has a special Middle Eastern menu (above) on offer and I can recommend the slow cooked lamb tagine as well as the harissa spiced King Dory fillet which we ate last night for dinner.

As for me, I’ve been hanging out in the ‘hood today and popped my head into stylish local florist and gift shop French Blue Flowers on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg where I did buy a beautiful pink Robert Gordon ceramic takeaway coffee cup as a gift, these have only just come in but are apparently flying off the shelves.  The store is taking part in the Banyule Bestbiz Awards 2018 – nominations of which are currently open until 23 September.  This year there’s a new category – The Newcomer (sounds like a good name for a cafe!) – which celebrates businesses less than 12 months old.  You can vote online at www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Business/Bestbiz-Awards or in person at any Australia Post office in the Banyule City Council area.  Better still, you can also win $1000 in a prize draw with the winners announced at a special presentation evening on October 24 at Cellini’s in Heidelberg.  I’ve definitely got a few faves and I’m sure you do as well – it’s the great thing about living locally and supporting local businesses, particularly those you want to stay in the area long term.

 

 

 

Reading between the lines

I read Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie while I was away – it’s loosely based on the ancient Greek story of Antigone which I thought was a fitting read in Greece.  It’s relatively short but breathtaking – I won’t reveal the end but it was a cracking read.  I’ve since moved on to one of Mr Rosanna’s books by Gail Honeyman called Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, which is by turns hilarious and tragic at the same time.  I’m not yet sure what has happened to poor Eleanor in her short life but the beauty salon incident in the early chapters had me laughing out loud while I was at swimming lessons last week.

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I also wanted to mention that local writer, editor and publisher Blaise van Hecke from Busybird Publishing is having her book launch this week – a whimsical memoir of short stories based on her unconventional childhood called The road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water.  Also launching this week is the A1 Darebin Art Salon at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre showcasing the work of local artists and For I have learned to look on nature at Hatch Contemporary Art Space in Ivanhoe – an exhibition of tree portraits by local artist Fran Lee using the words of William Wordsworth’s poem.

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Despite the cold and wanting to hibernate instead, I dragged myself out on Saturday night as I had a friend in town from Brisbane but ended up having a great night out at Garden State Hotel in Flinders Lane which was going off inside despite it being the middle of winter, having dinner in a cosy booth seat for four at the Garden Grill.  The whole place is very noisy and half of Melbourne was there enjoying the footy on TV in the pub section at the front through to counter meals in the middle and underneath, so I was glad to have booked somewhere quieter at the back where we didn’t have to yell at each other.  The food was excellent – I had the roasted fish special and shared a coconut sorbet dessert with my bestie Jules.  It also helped we had a handsome French waiter called Carlito but besides his looks (!), the service was excellent and it is a place for more serious dining and drinking by the looks of many of the all male tables of diners around us.  I was also spoilt by Jules who gave me a belated birthday present – a handmade bowl (she is a woman after my own heart) by Byron Bay based homewares company Kinfolk & Co. which is now housing my fruit on my kitchen bench.