Back to life

The glorious Spring weather has been much needed and appreciated this weekend. I had another mad week in the office with my previous Dean and CEO Ken Smith having his farewell on Thursday evening (which started with an Acknowledgment of Country and ended with a Maori song) after over five years at ANZSOG and our new CEO Adam Fennessy starting tomorrow. Needless to say I’m very glad we booked a family staycation a few months ago for this weekend at Crown Towers redeeming a gift voucher we’d been given two Christmases ago.

It is a five star hotel and my youngest was wowed by the porters in suits who greeted us as we drove in to the spectacular and very opulent foyer filled with flowers and decadent looking sweets on display at TWR (The Waiting Room) bar. We did feel like tourists in another country lining up with interstate and international guests to check in.

The other thing I will say about Crown is that their bed was probably one of the best I’ve ever slept on and I discovered today you can buy their At Home collection of beds, mattresses, pillows and bed linen if you are wanting to re-create the hotel experience at home. We didn’t get to enjoy the bath but the hotel bathrobes and slippers are also welcome additions. After unloading our luggage and ordering some in-room french fries to tide us over until dinner – we walked up the busy promenade all the way to Southbank and back before the sun set.

It was pumping on Friday night and Melbourne is definitely back – the ground floor bars and restaurants at Southbank were all vibing with young and old enjoying al fresco drinks and food and pulsing dance music – it felt great to be in the city as well as a bit of departure from the quiet of the suburbs.

The ground floor riverside restaurants at Crown look pretty atmospheric – Rockpool and Spice Temple in particular but I think all of them would be pretty amazing to eat at if you had deep pockets. We had a more budget friendly but still excellent Italian meal at Tutto Bene at Southbank up on the first floor ending our night with house gelato before walking back to our room to watch a movie in bed, which was bliss!

We also enjoyed the buffet breakfast in the light-filled Conservatory where you can ask for customised orders (the disciplined lady at the next table ordered poached eggs and greens on the side), table service for coffee and tea and both Asian and European hot and cold breakfast options. The views of the river are lovely and you don’t need to be a staying guest to book in – it makes for a very civilised way to start the day.

We sadly didn’t get time to enjoy the pool but I know the Marriott Docklands has a pretty amazing looking heated infinity pool and W Hotel’s pool can be used by non-guests if you’re wanting to party DJ and all. We did enjoy sitting by the Yarra river after we checked out taking in the rays and watching river life with rowing teams being shouted at by their coaches on bikes with megaphones, families enjoying outdoor picnics on Go Boats and groovers having food and drink on the water at Arbory Afloat, Yarra Botanica and Ponyfish Island. We had a very Melbourne weekend and that was just the start of it. Needless to say daylight savings will mean a hangover this coming week for us night owls – enjoy all.


Going with the flow

Christmas feels like ages ago now since returning to work.  I was very spoilt in that I received a lovely Angus and Celeste hanging planter from Mr Rosanna which is now taking pride of place on the deck and gives me great pleasure whenever I look out of my kitchen window, but that after almost 10 years of being here – we finally had the money to upgrade our coffee machine.  Our Breville machine has been great but after having had it once repaired, it sprang another more recent leak and has finally been retired.  So we found ourselves at Coffee-A-Roma in Camberwell over the holiday break and brought home a Rancilio Syliva coffee machine.  We weren’t the only ones upgrading to an Italian coffee machine – there were a number of people all lined up inside trying out the coffee (which was an experience in itself) and many of them were buying ‘lifetime’ machines – the Rancilio Sylvia seems to be the base model for those who can afford to upgrade to a Rocket – another Italian maker whose machines look like a million dollars (and so they should given their price!).IMG_6766

We’re now taking our time learning how to use the machine properly as it can be finicky and more involved than an automatic machine.  I’ve always been a bit old school when it comes to machinery in general so have been very happy to finally have one.IMG_6857

We did spend New Year’s Eve day in Melbourne’s CBD before the crowds descended for evening fireworks and it was great to feel like a tourist in our own town visiting the Eureka Skydeck (it’s cheaper and faster to buy online tickets beforehand and it’s over an hour’s wait if you choose to do The Edge (glass bottomed experience) instead of just the Observation Deck.  We were too late to get a table on the very chic Arbory Afloat pop up floating bar on the Yarra as they’d started NYE preparations (which would have been my pick for New Year’s Eve) but did get late afternoon coffee and cake at the newly opened Brunetti’s at 250 Flinders Lane almost opposite the CAE and Journal Cafe.  Our New Year’s Eve was actually spent at Coburg Drive-In as our children didn’t realise there was one in Melbourne and while it was pretty tame – we had a great night out under the stars seeing in the New Year from twilight to midnight.

Me overlooking the Yarra (Arbory Afloat to my right)

We’ve been parents of a fur baby, Gypsy, now for over three months and that’s changed the way we holiday so for the first time ever, we booked a pet-friendly place last-minute down at Ocean Grove and luckily discovered that Barwon Coast on the Bellarine Peninsula has a large dog beach given you can’t take your dog to the main beach.  We wisely invested in a beach sun tent on sale from Anaconda and spent a number of mornings at the dog beach where both the children and the dogs could all frolic – it was a very funny sight.

Our fur baby Gypsy

It did limit what we could do so I had to look longingly at Uncle Jack’s Cafe on the corner and next door Florence & Threads shop off the main drag while we were there and it was an action packed weekend in that the Rip to River Classic and Tranquility@Twilight Fair were both meant to be staged but were postponed due to the extreme heat.  The Wonderland Spiegeltent is currently on in Barwon Heads and if you’re interested in something local, the Ringwood Spiegeltent opens on January 18th here in Melbourne.IMG_3898

We spent our last morning at the monthly Rotary Summer Sunday Market at Ocean Grove where we could take our furry friend on leash and indulge in coffee, mini donuts and fresh free range eggs.  I also ended up buying this hand-made ceramic utensil holder (similar to my vintage salt pig) from a local potter based in Queenscliff.IMG_6854

Summer is here and it’s nice to be spending time more outdoors.  There is a pop up Skate Park currently on in Watsonia but if something more leisurely takes your fancy, weekly casual Tai Chi classes outside in the sculpture garden at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen have also started.  The Coburg Summer Sunday Sessions with live music at the Coburg Olympic Swimming Pool are also on every Sunday in January from 3 – 5 pm.  Enjoy!