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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
Jobs, cars, houses and holidays – COVID-19’s come along and changed the landscape of many of these things. For my poor colleagues in higher education, this week’s federal budget offered not much in the way of assistance and until borders open mid-2022, it’s looking pretty dire for the sector. Border closures have impacted the jobs market itself with hospitality and farming affected by the lack of international workers normally here and in the professional realm, there is a war for talent and lots of movement. If there are further job losses at our universities, I am hopeful that professional staff at least will pick up jobs elsewhere – I’m not so sure about academics.
Mr Rosanna and I are working out if we need to buy a second car – the used car market has gone up over 40% due to the pandemic so it’s actually comparable to buy a new car if you can find one. There should be more new cars arriving on our shores in the next few months but there is a worldwide shortage for the computer chips that go into them, which is affecting supply. Then there is the debate for us of family car versus small city car and if an electric or hybrid vehicle should be considered. We have started visiting dealers but it may be a long journey.
Even longer has been the journey to work out if we should upsize our house if we can afford it, which I’m not sure we can at the moment. The runaway real estate market has made things difficult for my millennial friends to even get a foot in the door although some of them they are now considering moving further out if they can buy a bigger place that offers more green spaces. It did make me happy to read about 500,000 more trees being planted in the western suburbs which have nowhere near the same density as eastern. It makes me sad seeing full sized blocks with trees bulldozed to make way for townhouses with hardly any greenery – it’s the price of progress and I understand the need for higher density living closer to the city but there needs to be a balance between putting as many townhouses onto a block as developers can (and do), and the environment.
As for holidays, I have no leave accrued at the moment so spring may be the season I go somewhere but many of my friends are taking the opportunity to do lots of regional day trips or weekends away (and a few more game ones have booked interstate holidays or gone to New Zealand). With lockdowns always possible, you’d be wise to always pack your laptop if you’re a professional able to work remotely. As for me I’m now in the office more days and did have a tour of Melbourne Connect during the week, which is going to be a pretty amazing space once complete. The wow factor for me was stepping into the middle of the oculus garden and looking up – I’m not the only one as a luxury car brand has chosen the same space to launch a new car in coming weeks.
Speaking of new, I’ve noticed Doey’s Pizza has opened on Station Street in Rosanna as well as Boca Gelato in Ivanhoe. When I visited Rome many years ago – I would have a slice of pizza followed by a gelato every day for lunch when walking through the Campo de’ fiori. Ah…la dolce vita – I can only wish!
It’s the name of the new art, music and ceremony festival being held in Melbourne starting 26 May (the same night as the lunar eclipse i.e. a new moon rising). It’s also a call to arms given the collective suffering of our artistic community over the past 12 months. The Wilds at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl looks pretty amazing and I also love that Golden Square in Melbourne’s Chinatown where I used to park when managing the Bold Thinking Series at the State Library is being turned into an ‘art carpark’ with ice sculptures, a laser-eyed inflatable (?), kayak performance and moon parades which sound intriguing to say the least.
One of my sisters works for Melbourne City Council and like other public servants, she’s been asked to return to the office 5 days per week given the CBD cafes, restaurants and hotels that are struggling, particularly during business hours and days (rather than on weekends).
A number of new hotels have actually opened in Melbourne over the past 12 months including W Melbourne and the Lancemore Crossley St. however I was excited to read about the Hilton Hotel returning to Melbourne in the heritage-listed Equity Chambers building – the oldest continuously occupied barristers chambers. There’s nothing like a bit of old school glamour especially in the absence of being able to travel overseas – it’s lovely to be able to enjoy what we have in our home city if you can afford it.
I was interested to find out more about the private dining rooms that are also available in the city in addition to those I knew about at Kisume, Cumulus, Spice Temple and Flower Drum restaurants – a number of friends celebrating special occasions this year are opting for something smaller at home or lashing out at places like these.
Speaking of flowers, Mr Rosanna bought his mum this beautiful bunch (above) from French Blue Flowers today (and a native bouquet for me). I hope you’ve had a great Mother’s Day if you have a mum in your family. For me, my morning was spent talking to my own mum – a single parent who raised three kids on her own – as well as seeing Mr R’s parents this afternoon. I also enjoyed home made scrambled eggs in bed and a hand drawn card courtesy of my boys. Given those separated from their families at the moment and unable to see their mother, or be a mother, for whatever reason – it has felt like a real privilege.
It’s the name of the new book by Meg Mason I had started reading but not got far into since beginning my new job 4 weeks ago. I do want to cut myself some slack though as I realised last week that in that time I’ve written the ANZOG alumni strategy, operational plan, an Alumni Advisory Council presentation pack and my own performance plan so I’ve been a bit tired!
Hopefully once the plan is confirmed as such – the execution will be easier if the groundwork has all been done. Work notwithstanding, I feel like Sorrow and Bliss’s title is reflected in the state of the world at the moment with such terrible scenes coming out of India and yet things in Australia being relatively normal (minus Perth). While I feel our government had no choice but to close our borders as a short-term measure to protect our largely unvaccinated population, I hope we can open them as soon as it is safe to do so given the 14,000 people wanting to come home. As an Australian, I think we all have a right to be able to return to our home country.
Before Mason’s book, I had sped read a number of Jane Harper’s books on my kindle which has reminded me that Rosanna library (where I renewed my online membership during last year’s lockdown) is now scheduled for re-development (in partnership with Woolworths). While the marriage between public and private sector is becoming increasingly common especially for large scale development and infrastructure – I’ve only recently become aware that public consultation is now (May and June) if you have any concerns.
If you’re an aspiring writer, I also wanted to wish Blaise, Les and the team at Busybird Publishing a happy 8th birthday and while their June writing retreat has sold out, I believe they are running another session in October – it would be a good opportunity to do something creative over winter. Then again, you may feel like doing nothing at all – this New York Times article on ‘languishing’ caught my eye during the week. I’m going to try to exercise and socialise as my winter mantra whether I feel like it or not. I’ve kept up a number of outdoor walkie talkies this year with my friends and work colleagues – walking is good for you in so many ways.
Mother’s Day is upon us next week but to be honest, while it’s nice to support local retailers who produce or sell more sustainable fare, I’m pretty happy just to have a home cooked meal and some afternoon tea with my immediate and extended family and spend some quality time together and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Here’s to luxuriating (not languishing) in simple pleasures this year!