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.

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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.

Living la vida local

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Me with a sneaky pic of the gorgeous Greek fruit seller at Halki

Greece is a hard act to follow and Melbourne in the winter time is far from inspiring.  It’s lucky I’ve been busy at work promoting my next Bold Thinking Series lecture – Smashed avo: is there a war on youth? continuing the conversation that demographer Bernard Salt started in terms of the intergenerational wars between millenials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers and whether jobs and housing are harder opportunities for younger people to come by.  On the panel from La Trobe are cultural sociologist Dr Sara James (who reminds me of actress Katie Holmes!) and alumnus David de Garis who is a regular media commentator on all things economic for the NAB.  We’ve matched them up with GetUp’s Chief of Staff Natalie O’Brien and Fairfax finance columnist and entrepreneur Melissa Browne who has recently written the rather naughty sounding book called Unf*ck your finances.  We also tried to get Mr Barefoot Investor Scott Pape himself for this panel as he is a La Trobe alumnus but he was already engaged as many of the high-profile people I deal with in my job often are.  It is Open Day at La Trobe this Sunday and if you are considering studying in any kind of capacity, it’s well worth a visit to find out more in terms of short courses, languages, undergraduate and post-graduate courses as well as some of the other University assets like the library, Wildlife Sanctuary or Sports centre.  We’re lucky to have such a big campus so close to us in the north-east and there are exciting plans afoot for the University in the near future in terms of its development as a hub.

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I’ve been driving through the suburbs since coming back from overseas and there’s been a lot of interesting new businesses I’ve noticed like Pilates Republic Ivanhoe at the back of the Centre Ivanhoe near The Foreigner cafe and Vinyasa Studio Yoga in Burgundy Street, Heidelberg.  I’ve returned to Iyengar classes with Pamela Speldewinde at Action Yoga underneath Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe.  I also noticed the cute sounding name of new organic cafe Mr Macleod while having my boots re-heeled at Chris the Cobbler who’s now also found at the Macleod Village group of shops in Aberdeen Road.  They needed a crane to lift in Chris’ very heavy shoe repair machinery equipment and Chris himself has been a busy man renovating houses as well as opening his fancy new digs.  My sponsor and trainer Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training in Macleod has also been a busy person – she’s launched a new holistic health and fitness program called Find your fierce which I’ll be finding out more about given my fierce seems to have gone missing in action plus the studio is moving somewhere close by in October so I’ll be following her there.

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My former client Helen Webster is holding her once a year Raffal Wraps scarf sale tomorrow afternoon if you’re in Ivanhoe and I think it would be worth a visit to pick up a bargain before the end of winter.  I also wanted to mention the Rosanna Station Community Fun Day on Saturday 11 August from 10 am to 2 pm taking place right in front of my other sponsor Hunter Lane Cafe and you will see me there in the middle of the day if you’re coming along to celebrate the opening of the new Rosanna station and level crossing which seems to have taken forever to finally finish.  I’m reserving judgement about it until the big reveal happens but took a photo today (above) as I do love the new Rosanna station sign.  There are a number of other launches taking place locally next week which I will post about in the coming days.  Four weeks to go until Spring!

Naxos

If you ever go to Naxos, St George beach is probably the best place to stay – it’s one of the two sheltered beaches (St Anna further down is also pretty cosmopolitan with beach bars, cafes and tavernas as well) which are also close to Hora (the capital) or Naxos town where the stunning Venetian Castle (Kastro) in the old town is located high on the hill and one of the first sights you see on entering Naxos by ferry, along with the Portara – the never completed Temple of Apollo which stands alone on the left hand side as you come in.  Also interesting is the big church which has a green dome instead of blue.

Having said that we travelled by superferry to Mikri Vigla way down south – this time as deck passengers outside in the sun and the wind which was preferable for us rather than being below with sleeping backpackers in need of a wash in the airline-style seats.  It’s only 45 minutes or less if travelling from Paros.  Our friends had chosen Mikri Vigla not realising that it’s split into two beaches – the western side which is the windy beach (Parthena just down from Orkos beach) unsuitable for swimming as it’s the kitesurfing capital and the southern (calm) beach Limanaki where we stayed at Depis Sea Side Villas next to the big salt pan, which was fine in July but by August, the salt pan is used as a car park.  We also had to change into an off-road vehicle as from Plaka beach onwards its dirt roads.  Apparently there are plans for a new airport and to seal the roads in the next few years but it can get very dusty as a result and the buses are not as frequent to Mikri Vigla but OK if you’re at Plaka beach, where we also stayed.  There are also umbrellas and sun lounges set up along the whole length of Limanaki beach (below), where I did manage a run one morning all the way down.

Naxos has a different feel to Paros – it’s more low-key, semi-rural and less English is spoken.  Both our driver and cleaner at the villa didn’t speak English.  It is also greener than Paros but in a dry way the same Australia can be in the bush.  While there’s not much to do in Mikri Vigla besides go to the beach or one of the few taverns around (Kontos tavern next to the mini supermarket is good and we loved the Mikri Vigla family run tavern on the beach itself), it suited us in terms of timing as we’d gone out pretty hard at the start of the trip and needed some time to relax and chill out before we returned back home.  Our villa was part of a development of 5 and we loved the sense of privacy and seclusion – it did feel pretty remote at the end of a dirt road but walking distance to a nearby bakery, car hire shop and the supermarket where there was also an ATM machine.  Limanaki is fantastic for snorkelling as much as the water is colder  but clearer in Naxos than in Paros.  Our villa was also well set up for self-catering with a fully equipped kitchen which was great as it was good to have breakfast and lunch at home and just go out for dinner in the evenings.  We also went for a walk one morning climbing the big rock face that divides both beaches, which I can highly recommend as you’ve got an amazing view on both sides once you get up to the top although I was freaking out due to how windy it was as much as my kids and Mr Rosanna loved it.

It was windy on our second last day there so we decided to hire a car and head to the mountain villages where we made it to the beautiful but small village of Halki (above) where we stopped for lunch under the vines in the main square at Yianni’s (with its own spit for roasting meat) and then headed to the much bigger town of Filoti.  Halki is famous for the Fish & Olive studio gallery and boutique shop of sea-inspired hand-painted ceramics and jewellery, Penelope hand-woven textiles (although I bought a hand-woven scarf from another business) and the Vallindras Kitron Distillery, which are all worth visiting.  Due to exhausted children, we skipped the third mountain town of Apiranthos and instead headed to the sheltered beach cove of Alyko (below and Filoti) near the deserted concrete shell of a hotel started in the 1980s but never completed.  Alyko beach and the next sheltered cove along in Pyrgaki are recommended if you want somewhere less windy but they are also very remote – you would definitely need a car if staying that far south.

We spent our last two nights in Naxos in a 3 bedroom maisonette (with kitchenette) at the stylish and cute Ploes Seaside Houses (below) at Plaka beach across the road from the Plaza Beach Hotel which was a great place to stay because if the beach is windy, you have access to the Plaza Beach Hotel pool and cafe, of which we took advantage.  Ploes’ owners Christos and his wife Eleni have another arrangement for Ploes’ guests to also enjoy the breakfast buffet for 8 euro (and children half price) on the outdoor terrace of the Plaza Beach Hotel, where the bus conveniently stops if heading to Hora and where you’ll find a supermarket underneath the hotel.  Christos actually came and picked us up from Depis as well as dropped us off at Naxos Airport when we left for our last night back in Athens.  He and Eleni also checked in with us every day to see how our day had been, if we had slept well and if our maisonette was OK as well as gave us recommendations for lunch and dinner (we did go to the upmarket Petrino restaurant for dinner on our first night).  If we were to ever go back to Plaka beach we would definitely stay there again as the service was outstanding, Christos and Eleni are beautiful people and Ploes was a real highlight accommodation-wise.

We spent our last full day travelling along the coast road by bus to Naxos town where we met up with Alessandra and Phil at the port and promptly walked into the Old Town market area with its stone laneways all the way up to the Kastro.  A bit of retail spending was in order with cool T-shirts bought from the French owner (a bit telling in terms of the World Cup final that night) of Octopus Naxos which has been around since 1989.  We got lunch at one of the shaded laneway tavernas before walking up to the Kastro finding it a bit quieter at siesta time.  It was relaxing to then take in the magnificent views from the top at 1739 Terrasse Cafe where we had frappes and icecream before popping our heads into the Apodo Hellenic Design gift shop where more purchases were made.  Similar to Forget Me Not Athens and W.D Concept Store in Santorini – there were some fantastic modern Greek jewellery, accessory and clothing brands on offer including Mary Gaitani jewellery, Love Greece, Rhodesign and Loom handmade bags as well as cute children’s toys.  Alessandra and Phil had to leave to make the last bus back to Mikri Vigla but we stayed on to end our trip by visiting the Greek ruin – the Portara, which loomed large near the port stopping to have a drink at the cafe below (where a lifeguard can be found watching the people having a dip at the steps going into the water!) before we made our walk up.  Again, it was well worth it for the views of both the Portara and of Naxos and a fitting end to our time there.  By Day 20, we were a bit over Greek food so found Il Girasole pizza where we watched the World Cup Grand Final outside with raucous young French backpackers out in force celebrating France’s victory before catching the bus back to Plaka beach.

Our trip to Greece mainly ends here as we spent the following day and night killing time by the pool in Naxos before making our way back to Athens, where we stayed briefly overnight before catching planes home again to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi, this time faring better than our forward journey there.  I’ve been back in Melbourne for just over a week now settling back into the routine of school and work (and winter!) but will post on some of the travel tips as well as the food at some later stage.  We were ready to come home and for now, we are happy to be back although I’m sure itchy feet will come around again and there are other destinations on our list, as I’m sure yours.  My views on Greece?  We loved our entire time there despite some of its shortcomings – a couple of rare occasions of lacklustre Greek customer service and criticisms over the state of its economy and infrastructure and how it got there (austerity measures are still in place).  We were devastated to hear about the fires in Athens after we left and wish the Greek people all the best in getting their country on its feet again.  We will be back to visit another time and for now, Efharisto Greece from us with love.

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Day tripping in Paros

Paros isn’t a big island and if you get the chance to hire a car (or quad bikes) it’s well worth it.  We did a couple of day trips around the island going clockwise to get a better idea of some of the more far-flung beaches and villages like Santa Maria beach, Piso Livadi (the name of which became the running joke of the holiday), Logaras beach all the way down south to Drios and the famous Golden beach – a spectacular stretch of beach which I found slightly soul-less for unknown reasons.  Alessandra and Phil made it all the way to Aliki beach, which we unfortunately missed with children who aren’t great travelling by car.

 

My favourite beach outside of Naoussa’s two fantastic beaches with turquoise waters Monastiri and Kolibithres (which can both be reached by 20 minute caique boat rides), was Logaras – a low-key blue flagged beach which also has trees as well as a beach bar, tavernas and restaurants near the port town of Piso Livadi.  Shade is a valuable commodity in Greece and while we’d bought an umbrella so that we didn’t always have to pay (most Greek beaches have paid umbrellas and sun lounges already set up unlike Australian beaches where there is generally only beach!) – the trees were a great spot to set up camp to stay for most of the afternoon.

 

It’s also worth a trip inland to the beautiful mountain town of Lefkes to have a walk around the old town (some of it derelict) where we had a delicious local meal at Lefkiano run by people who live there all year around which we found delightful.  They owners keep an eye on the older people in the village who are still living solo in their nineties and I can understand why it would be a blue zone – the food, the climate, the walking and the connection would all contribute to living well for longer.  Paros is famous for its marble and the Oneipa concept store and Yria ceramic store are worth visiting.  We met a studio artist who still hand makes and paints the beautiful gold religious Orthodox icons and carves Parian marble.

 

A trip to Antiparos to visit the underground cave (over 400 steps down and then back up) is also well worth it.  We got the short car ferry across from Paros on the western side of the island and spent the morning exploring the cave in awe looking at the stalactites and stalacmites.  Antiparos is a celebrity island where the likes of Tom Hanks, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen have visited as well as writers and artists from further back in time like Lord Byron and Truman Capote.  After our morning expedition, we were hungry and drove to Soros beach where the expensive beach bar and umbrella hire (25 euro!) put us off so we ventured back up to the local tavern we’d passed on the way Permataki which also ended up being one of the better local meals we had in terms of the food and service.  Their specialty was a home-made pie of which there was only one kind left by the time we ordered.

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We drove to the next secluded cove on dirt road which wasn’t fantastic in a 7 seater but ended up having a relaxing swim and snorkel marred only by the arrival of two larger boats including a party boat with blaring music full of younger people who anchored so that passengers could have a dip in the water.  It spoilt the tranquility a little but they didn’t stay for long once everyone had had a swim and beaches are for everyone.

 

Our time in Paros was also incredible in different ways from walking until 10pm every night in Naoussa when the main square and surrounding laneways built to confuse pirates come alive (you can get night-time haircut or nail appointments) to the French tourists going crazy at outdoor cafes given the World Cup finals were on to the super stylish cafes like Sousoura and Foti’s, gelati from S.Cream or donut waffle cones and Greek donuts, the hanging octopus drying in the sun near the port to the Wedgwood blue (not the darker blue) of the church domes and the Greek flag flying everywhere.