Love, actually

Life got so busy in the lead up to Christmas with some exciting last minute developments that I ran out of time to post on this blog, which is saying something.

Me and Mr Rosanna (wearing his gift from his family) – Christmas 2021

I had a manic last week of work trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible which included a marketing shoot in Sydney conducted remotely by ANZSOG’s advertising agency Marmalade Melbourne (whose name always reminds me of Paddington Bear!) with one of my final tasks interviewing three alumni who hold senior positions in the public sector as they were photographed and filmed.

Many of our alumni have had a very tough year too on the frontline as leaders responsible for making policy decisions and delivering value under a lot of public scrutiny and pressure – I was asked by the Fair Work Ombudsman (who is also an alumna) a while ago about my observations as someone new to the sector and I told her I think it’s vocational for many of her colleagues, that it’s almost a calling whether they’re career public servants or have moved from private sector to public. Many have also come from, or move into, management consultancy roles so that’s also been interesting for me to unpack over the past nine months.

It has felt like the never ending year and I was very happy to finally take leave the week before Christmas as Mr Rosanna and I decided a few months ago to sneak in a pre-Christmas beach break after realising there were barely any vacancies accommodation-wise after Christmas. It was one of our better decisions given it’s been an exhausting year on so many fronts and the start of my 2022 is about to go into warp speed (but more on that in the new year).

We stayed at a gorgeous dog-friendly cottage in Rosebud called Evandale Shack (above) and had a great five days on the Mornington Peninsula enjoying the calm and lack of crowds, although some of it was due to caravaners not being there in their usual numbers. With the Omicron variant and bringing forward of boosters, Mr R and I were also very lucky to get our shots as walk-ins at the local Amcal pharmacy.

We also enjoyed op shopping returning to the Rosebud Vintage Bazaar where we picked up an Art Deco mirror and there is a big Salvos store and other nearby op shops all on the main drag. With Christmas and wanting to avoid potentially isolating, we chose to avoid indoor spaces with lots of people which was pretty easy to do with a dog in tow and warmer weather.

Our family had a great night out bringing our furry friend to the Dromana Drive-In where we saw Spiderman: No Way Home in somewhat cramped conditions (Mr R and I let the kids have the front seats), a daytime al fresco lunch at Zarb & Ru (below) which specialises in coffee and jaffles (with a great deli La Casa Nostra next door) and another outdoor lunch on our last day at Greek-owned dog-friendly boutique winery Abelli Estate where the owners live on-site (with their pet macaw parrot!) and whose delicious food took us all the way back to Paros, Greece.

We also spent one afternoon strolling the Sorrento Portsea Artists’ Trail including the Millionaire’s Walk (below) – it was lovely to see a reminder of here with Heidelberg School artist Arthur Streeton’s artwork featured. We didn’t quite make it to Portsea given the return walk back on a warm day but clocked up over 10km and felt like we deserved our end-of-trip gelati at Mubble.

I’ve had a busy time on the personal front with family flying in for Christmas and seeing others I’ve not seen all year on Christmas Day – everyone has been affected by the pandemic – some have suffered from loneliness and anxiety so it was nice to reflect on the highlights of 2021 but also mention the lowlights at dinner last night, with each of us taking a turn to speak around the table. It’s been a blessing this Christmas if you haven’t caught COVID-19 (which I think now is likely to happen to all of us hopefully with less dire consequences) or had to isolate – and if you were able to spend the day with your biological or logical family – it’s a win in what’s been a gruelling year not only for Melburnians but everyone else around the world.

If you have someone to love who loves you back whether it’s a partner, friend or family member (including a pet), then you’re doing OK! If you’ve lost someone you love or haven’t found love this year, then I am thinking of you this Christmas time. A new beginning is just around the corner and I have no pithy or wise words to say this year just that I hope it’s the dawn of a better and brighter time for all of us in 2022.


The last hurrah

Mr Rosanna and I booked a last-minute holiday at McCrae a couple of weeks ago for this Australia Day long weekend and boy, we’re sure glad we did.  It was our first time using Airbnb and we booked 1A on McCrae located right behind the Blue Bay cafe (popular with cyclists and dog owners) in the little strip of cafes and restaurants off the service road near the Nepean Highway.img_5404Our accommodation was pretty simple and basic but what it lacked in style it made up for in terms of convenience being right across the road from the beach and walking distance to the shops and cafes including the very groovy Merchant & Maker, pop up pizza restaurant Zero 95 (whose flagship restaurant is in Templestowe!) and the stylish and upmarket modern Greek restaurant Alatonero (above).  We had pizza and gelati the night we arrived in McCrae at Zero 95, both of which were very good.

Gelati sign at Zero 95

We spent Australia Day morning on the beach in front of the bathing boxes before treasure hunting at the Rosebud Vintage Bazaar where I found a vintage Chinese silk jacket and Japanese dress.  It’s a great place to while a few hours away and has a retro cafe attached to it if you get hungry.  If you like 50s style fashion, you might also like the clothes from local label Pretty Parcel.

Rye Carnival

In the evening, we joined the throngs of people at Rye who’d come to enjoy the carnival rides, live music and fireworks on the beach, which were spectacular.  We were so close we could feel the ground vibrating and if we held out our hands, it was like we were touching the fireworks (below).  It was well worth it just for the experience as much as I missed out on coffee from the Woodland Folk van as we dashed across to the beach from the Ferris Wheel ride at the carnival.

The next day we joined my cousins, who happened to be down on the peninsula at the same time, at the Ashcombe Maze.  Our kids had a great time running around trying to find the hidden gnomes around the place.  If you have bigger kids, the nearby Enchanted Adventure Garden where you can tree surf looks like a lot of fun but allow 2 – 3 hours for it if you go.  That night we took our kids to the Dromana Drive In to watch Moana which was also a great experience for Mr R and I re-living our childhoods complete with Aussie rock music playing in the background.  It felt even more 1970s when a blonde surfer couple, both with long hair and faded jeans, pulled up in their van beside us and then walked to the nearby playground pulling some pretty rad moves with their white frisbee.

Ashcombe Maze Fountain

We spent Saturday morning trying the new Eagle Skylift at Arthur’s Seat, which has replaced the chairlift and has only been open since November last year.  It’s not cheap ($78 for a family of 4) for a 15 minute ride up and 15 minutes back, but you can buy single trip tickets and the views are stunning.  The cafe is up the top if you’re wanting a bite to eat while there’s only a kiosk at the bottom.  Go early to avoid the crowds, heat and wind but remember they do make you get off at the bottom and re-queue even if you have a return ticket.  The complimentary water and sunscreen is a nice touch as well as the entertainment (busker and balloon artist) at the bottom.

While we didn’t get the opportunity to visit Marlene Miller Antiques in Sorrento, we did drop into the Marion Rosetzky Gallery in Red Hill, which is located in a beautiful bushland setting where you can buy Marion’s Persian-inspired tiles in various forms.  There’s also a selection of jewellery, Buddhas, glassware and Fair Trade products from Africa and other places.

On our last night in McCrae we went to the early dinner sitting at Alatonero, which was empty when we arrived before being packed out within a matter of 5 – 10 minutes.  The food was sensational – we had the saganaki, chargrilled octopus and pan-fried calamari as starters followed by the 18 hour slow-roasted lamb with a Greek salad.  There is also a kids menu and choc tops on offer for them for dessert.  Drinks service was a little slow but we found out later that they were down one staff member, who’d called in sick.

Mr R and me – Alatonero

We spent our last day on the peninsula at Point Leo as we met friends who are surfers.  We grabbed a bite to eat at the Point Leo General Store next to the Trigger Brothers surf shop before entering Raw’s Reserve where it’s $4 to go in.  Make sure you use the toilets at the camping grounds before you go to the beach because unless you’re a Point Leo Boat Club member, there are no toilets at the beach!  The little cove on the right side of the boat club is perfect for novice surfers and boogie boarders while the left side is better for sunbathers as there are less rocks to step on.  Sun shelters are a good idea as I managed to get sunburnt despite wearing sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and cover up.img_2983We’re back in Melbourne and I’ve been busy not only working on the Bold Thinking Series lectures but also the 50th Anniversary communications for La Trobe University, which I will post about soon.