To be continued

I hope you made merry this Christmas because what else can we do? In this strangest of years, it is a choice to be happy. The past week for me has been a riot of food, family and fun times spent eating way too much. It’s been great to have seen both sides of our family on Christmas day and night as well as extended family and my besties. As tiring as it can sometimes be hosting events, it’s been a privilege to bring people together and given what is still unfolding in Greater Sydney, I’ve not taken gatherings for granted. I also got to spend Christmas night cuddling a puppy so it doesn’t get much better than that!

Mr R and me on Christmas day

There is a saying about the difference between a flower and a weed being a judgement and I did laugh watching the Margaret and David Review 2020 that was doing the rounds on social media before Christmas. It has been an incredibly surreal year on so many levels – no-one could have predicted a global pandemic stopping the world in its tracks and the ensuing disruption and chaos it has wrought both good and bad. With the losses all too evident, I have tried to focus on the silver linings and lessons learnt in this extraordinary year and like Margaret, to see life through the lens of 5 stars not zero. Life goes on and it’s important to enjoy what we can even if things are far from perfect.

Puppy love 🙂

Speaking of movies, Mr Rosanna and I took the kids to see Wonder Woman 1984 at IMAX on the weekend, where everyone was masked up inside. While not in the same league as the first movie, it was still good to go to Carlton where we ducked into Readings afterwards and enjoyed an impromptu al fresco dinner at Tiamo 2 followed by gelato from Pidapipo next door. It almost felt like old times.

Gimlet dining room

I was in the city last night with my two best friends celebrating an early milestone birthday for one of them at Andrew McConnell’s new cocktail bar and dining room Gimlet at Cavendish House for some old world glamour in a renovated Art Deco building on the corner of Russell Street and Flinders Lane. It was buzzing with beautiful people and felt like we could have been in London or New York if not for the more subdued streets of Melbourne outside. While we passed on the lobster bisque at $150 a pop (!) – we shared a couple of entrees and I had a beautifully cooked John Dory main followed by house made gelato served in antique silver footed dessert bowls, which did feel very special.

It was a real treat in what’s been a pretty gloomy year and it may be my last fine dining experience for a while given I now need to find myself a job and bring home some bacon! In that regard, given the uncertainty of next year in terms of a vaccine and the greater economy, I see 2021 as being part two – the sequel to this year and I’m still unsure about how things will end as much as it’s also a new beginning.

I was long-listed for a fundraising role just before Christmas so while I’m not getting my hopes up just yet, the job is with an interesting organisation doing interesting, and valuable, work on a global scale which would be very rewarding. You have to move forward and be prepared to try new and different things. I’ve been at a similar crossroads before and there is always light on the other side once you go through your own journey of self-discovery. It is a process and it does take time. If you are one of the million Australians like me who lost their job this year, or simply want to change jobs or land a new job, I hope you might take some comfort from that knowing it’s possible to reinvent yourself and start again with newfound strength and hard won resilience. I’ll be interested to see how the story ends but in the words of Joe Hockey – 2021 can’t come soon enough! I look forward to farewelling 2020 and I wish you a truly wonderful new year and new beginnings in 2021.



It’s the name of one of my favourite songs from 90s band Soul II Soul whose re-scheduled concert is being held late 2021, but something we need to keep in mind no matter our circumstances and especially at this time. And while COVID-19 is the gift that keeps on giving with Greater Sydney and NSW now a red zone – I don’t think Dan Andrews had any choice but to close the Victorian border given our freedoms so hard won over Winter and Spring. If you have family in NSW or were intending on visiting or vice versa, then I am feeling for you.

It is important to savour the things we can still do and are able to celebrate. My self-funded, self-catered divisional Christmas party was held under the trees fittingly near the big holly bush (above) at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen one hot afternoon last week. My fellow Culture Committee members pulled together an ISO Spotify playlist (and meaning behind the songs chosen by individual staff) and online kudoboard of all the things we were grateful for and lessons learnt this year. One of my colleagues Jenny aka Mother Christmas outdid herself with a table of beautiful individually wrapped homemade Christmas treats (below). While it was sad to say goodbye to my colleagues and my manager who has taken voluntary redundancy, life goes on and I have chosen joy at this time.

I had dinner with a couple of colleagues the following night at Alphington Social – the former Paladaar Thai restaurant housed in an old Art Deco bank building, which was virtually unrecognisable to me after having had a substantial new internal fit out and outdoor courtyard. We had a great meal with starters including gin-cured ocean trout and parmesan encrusted crumbed calamari followed by house made pasta. There were a number of predominantly all-female groups enjoying a night out and it is on the noisy side so better for groups rather than an intimate dinner.

Speaking of social, social enterprise cafe The Little Social has opened at Rosanna train station and the new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub is slated for opening on 18 January 2021, where I hope to return to in-person yoga classes with Pamela Speldewinde at Action Yoga. I’ve heard whispers that a new pilates studio is soon to open at the Greville Road shops in Rosanna so stay tuned on that one. I’ve missed doing reformer pilates with my work friends in the Core Cave at La Trobe Sport, which has re-opened if you live close to Bundoora or Macleod.

Me at Alphington Social

Tickets have gone on sale for Live at the Bowl in the city if you’re missing seeing live music but wish to do so in an outdoors environment. If you’re visiting the city, also look out for the Uptown outdoor art exhibition on show at the top end of Bourke Street. Closer to home, I’ve bought tickets for the Heide Summer Festival – a 9-week program of live music in the outdoor Sculpture Garden, which is great given the cancellation of other outdoor music events like Zoo Twilights this summer.

If you’re having trouble finding your Christmas spirit this year, you might want to visit the best Christmas lights in Melbourne to see the best displays in your suburb given no Ivanhoe Boulevard Lights in 2020. Alternatively, you might want to look at the night skies half an hour after sunset tomorrow night for the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. While some have mistakenly referred to it as the Christmas Star or Star of Bethlehem, there’s no harm in making a wish upon it for a better year in 2021, and for some perspective on how diminutive we truly are when compared with the stars above us.

I wish you joy this Christmas and in this remarkable year, despite the many losses, I hope there have been silver linings for you and your family (whether biological or logical) and things for which you are grateful. To paraphrase German philosopher Friedrich Neitszche, that which hasn’t killed us this year, has only made us stronger. Strength, hope, resilience; I hope you hang onto these given all that we have been through together in 2020.

Neitszche is also the author of another famous quote, which I will leave with you to ponder, “One must have chaos in order to give birth to a dancing star.” May you find your own dancing star this Christmas and may it guide you into the light in 2021.

House of Heroines

It’s the name of the ‘temple for women‘ being built in Melbourne for the NGV’s Triennial 2020, which opens on 19 December. And indeed, my own Alumni Relations team have been my heroines this year rising to the challenge of COVID-19, pivoting from the start to the very end now that we are disbanding through redundancy or contracts not being extended. It’s been a fantastic team of high performing all-female colleagues who are also friends and all the more poignant to be parting ways through no fault of our own.

The one and only La Trobe Alumni Relations team

Our team Christmas party on Arbory Afloat on the Yarra river this week was tinged with sadness given the last time I saw my colleagues was when we fled La Trobe’s Bundoora campus in March little knowing that our end of year event would also be the next time we would see each other, and to say goodbye. While I am philosophical about things, I am sad to be leaving the University in these circumstances but have accepted it will be a very different environment there and in general over the next couple of years in higher education. For me, I have pivoted (such an over-used word this year!) and started applying for jobs next year and I’m lucky to also have a careers counsellor at my disposal.

Striking a pose on Arbory Afloat

Our events team have triumphed with La Trobe’s virtual Open Day, online international roadshows and capped off this remarkable year with GradsFest 2020 – a physically-distanced gowning experience for completing students to bring their social bubble of 4 guests to the Bundoora campus, wear their gown and hat, be presented with their testamur certificate and have their photograph taken with family and friends. Having one of the biggest campuses in the southern hemisphere has enabled La Trobe to be innovative in a largely outdoor environment with staggered 2-hourly time slots spread over the day and throughout the campus during the month of December. There will still be an online celebration on 22 December and one of my last official duties will be editing alumni speaker biographies for each of the 10 different schools and colleges involved.

End of year events have now well and truly started and I spent Friday night at Birichino Cucina & Pizzeria in Balwyn catching up with my best friends where we tucked in to not pizza, but pasta and gelati as well as exchanged Kris Kringle presents. In a year where everything has changed, it was nice to know that some things stay the same including my enduring friendships with people who’ve known me the longest at our annual Christmas event.

Blue skies for Christmas

The December birthdays kill me every year and this year was no exception. Mr Rosanna and I hosted half a dozen teenagers here at home today after going out for dinner in the city for Mr R’s birthday last night. We’ve actually had Japanese twice this week -once locally at the relatively new Issho in East Ivanhoe and last night at Sake Restaurant and Bar at Hamer Hall on the banks of the Yarra. Issho was good and Sake was great – Mr R and I lashed out on the $99 set menu, which was well worth the splurge and we had very full bellies by the end of the night.

It had threatened to rain so I’d moved our table inside but the dry weather prevailed, which meant some happy snaps could be taken riverside and in front of an almost empty National Gallery of Victoria. While Melbourne is not what she used to be – it does make me sad to see so many ‘For Lease’ signs up on buildings everywhere – there were still lots of people out and about enjoying the Yarra and walking around. COVID-19 has been a 1 in 100 year event and it will take time to recover but we are ahead of the game compared with so many other cities in the world. I feel very lucky to be living in Australia at this time and the freedoms we are now enjoying after so many months in lockdown.

Mr is hard notoriously hard to buy for but I did well this year with a number of small things all from local retailers including a print of Pellegrini’s cafe (where we originally met) from Melbournalia, a miniature plum plate from Cibi, a handmade whisky glass from Denver & Liely (just in time for Christmas!) and a Lene Kuhl Jakobsen plant pot and brass hanger from Plantsmith.

Time is running out to order things online in time for Christmas delivery so experiences and gift vouchers are always a good go-to if you are doing presents this year if not braving the shops. I’ve not yet been to a shopping centre but good luck to you if you have and I know Westfield Doncaster has a newly launched rooftop dining area.