A sunburnt country

I’ve been away on the Mornington Peninsula the past week and it has been a strange time to go away with the bushfires at the peak of their destruction. A heart-breaking time for those who lost their lives, their houses, their schools, workplaces and their communities as well as the unfathomable loss of habitat and wildlife including an estimated 30% of our koala population. It has been pretty grim and I’ve limited my exposure to news media to avoid overwhelm.

Inspiring has been the swift reaction, not of our politicians, but leaders in the arts and sporting communities as well as every day people who have stepped up to volunteer their energy and time, donate their money and their talent to raise funds to help. I’ve lost count of the money that instagram star Celeste Barber has single-handedly raised on Facebook but think the power of social media and influence has been at its best in this case.

IMG_0587
View from pier to Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron

Scientists have been at pains to explain that climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like bushfire, rather than being the sole cause, but whatever the case, our government and business leaders need to institute long term structural change, strategy and infrastructure now as drought, bushfire and other events unfortunately become more commonplace and we as consumers, need to do what we can individually to reduce our footprint and live more sustainably, which includes reducing our consumption of new things we may want but don’t need.

IMG_0582

This has been on my mind this week where while safe from the fires, we drove through thick smoke haze on our way to Sorrento which gives some idea of the frightening poor visibility experienced in bushfire and also the following Monday when we could all smell the smoke outside, apparently from Tasmanian fires rather than in Gippsland and further north.

Like many people, Mr Rosanna and I have previously holidayed on the NSW south coast and I had briefly contemplated booking our summer break this past week in Gippsland. In the end, we opted to stay close and go for the familiar but many of our friends had their holidays curtailed by evacuation or chose to cancel. While disappointing, I don’t think anyone begrudges the fact when so many others have lost so much.

Feeling very thankful indeed, we did have a lovely week away in a house with no wifi walking distance to Cameron’s Bight dog beach where we took our dog most nights for a leash-free walk after 7pm to play with all the other dogs. It also made a nice walk/run route to the nearby Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron. It was a bit like holidays of old with day-time beach walks and visits to London Bridge (part of the Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail), the Quarantine Station in Point Nepean (where they hold Barefoot Cinema, a craft market and the Portsea Polo. Tip: take your beach gear and bathers to the largely deserted Observatory Point beach stretch which is not patrolled/unsafe in the water due to rips but makes for a lovely spot to walk, sun bake or play at the water’s edge/some beach cricket if you have older kids), doing the 1.7km Wilson’s Folly bush walk and playing Pictionary or reading books during the afternoon and at night. It was also heartening to see not one but two echidnas during this time given the loss of wildlife elsewhere.

I haven’t holidayed in Sorrento for many years but find it and Portsea a little bit la di da – we played ‘Spot the Porsche’ which ended up being pretty easy as it seems to have become the poor rich man’s car and I lost count of them (I reckon close to 100) plus a handful of Maseratis and Teslas on the road while we were there. We did drop in to the Portsea Hotel for drinks and freshly made pizza in the front bar where next door you’ll find Mermaid Vintage (which sells the most beautiful vintage dresses) and further down Le Capucin cafe. The pub has been really well renovated a bit Queenslander-style with its whitewashed interior and not surprisingly was buzzing with lots of blonde people in Ralph Lauren polo T-shirts, white shorts and boat shoes inside and out in the beer garden – a bit cliched I know.

Food-wise while I looked longingly into the window of fine food establishment Bistro Elba which has prices to match ($150 for caviar!), we had fish and chips from Fish Fetish on our first night in Sorrento plus an excellent lunch another day at Greek cafe The Pier in Rosebud (which has a good packed to the rafters second hand clothing shop next door) after buying second hand books at a Rotary Club community hall sale. We shared fried calamari, saganaki, chicken skewers and a greek salad with amazingly flavoursome fresh feta cheese, which took us all the way back to Greece.

IMG_0606

Our last night was spent at Itali.co which not only does great pizzas but also pasta and for me, the fish special of the day, which were all delicious. It’s located next to Morgan’s near the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry terminal. Also worth a mention is the locally-made gelato from The Yard at Capel Sound – so good that some local CFA firefighters dropped in at the same time as us to get their fix (below).

IMG_0603

We visited the Red Hill Market although found it a bit overwhelming and more suited to women and girls (lots of scented candles, clothing, jewellery and other accessories) with its focus on design. We bought some fresh bread only and there were also some beautiful native flower posies being sold with funds donated to the firefighters (so too were the car parking fees).

IMG_0579
My $5 print

Shopping-wise we visited a number of vintage shops and op shops including My Vintage Addiction in Capel Sound and the Rosebud Vintage Bazaar. We did walk down the very crowded Sorrento Village shops another day – as I mentioned a bit la di da – I spotted the Country Road-branded cafe and concept store called Post 3943 and wasn’t surprised given the demographic of very privileged families who live or have beach houses in Sorrento.

IMG_0605
Second-hand bling jacket

My favourite place is the Antipodes Bookshop & Gallery which not only sells books but also locally made ceramics, jewellery and art including some beautiful hanging fish, ceramic and macrame mobiles made with driftwood and an exhibition of woodcut prints by local Warren Cooke. If I had a beach house, some of them would have made unique pieces for the home.

IMG_0584

I go back to work this week with new challenges ahead, that I hope to rise up and meet this year. Given what many bushfire-affected people have experienced, I am counting my blessings. Locally too a Bands, bowls and BBQ event to raise bushfire funds is being held at the Rosanna Bowling Club on Sunday 2 February if you can make it. I am grateful to be at home, knowing that many people are not. If you are one of them, then I am thinking of you.

IMG_6637
Me and Mr R at Itali.co

 

Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

IMG_0154
Rye street art (Captains of Rye)

Long weekends are like gold and the Grand Final weekend is my last one for this year (University staff don’t get Melbourne Cup day) so it may be a long time in between drinks for me. I wasn’t up for much this past weekend and we decided relatively last minute to go away to Rye on the Mornington Peninsula. Even though it’s not summer, I still love the beach at any time of the year.

IMG_6356

We grabbed fish and chips from Hector’s on Thursday night after packing the car and driving straight from work a few hours earlier. It’s great to wake up the next day already at your destination although we had to do a supermarket stop the following morning after catching up with family who have a house in nearby Tootgarook. The Montino Continental Delicatessen is opposite the supermarket and looks like it does great coffee. We got there at closing time but bought some delectable yo yo biscuits with passionfruit icing, some Franklin & Sons cordial (an in-joke as I’ve married into the Franklin family and we have two sons) and a beautiful sourdough rye bread.

IMG_0144
Dromana Indoor Market teapot

Mr Rosanna and I spent Grand Final morning fossicking at the Dromana Indoor Market and The Factory Antique Market in a nearby industrial estate where we found some comic books and other books for the kids and a miniature Chinese terracotta teapot (above) for me. The industrial estate (opposite the Dromana Drive-In) houses some other interesting shops including Bass Surfboards, Little Rebel Coffee and Bass and Flinders Distillery. We didn’t get a chance to visit them but would go back another time, when we have more time there. The continental theme continued with a pitstop at Vulcano Gelato for an afternoon ice cream – I deviated from my normal coffee and lemon and got a blood orange, which was nice but super sweet – a bit too sweet for me but an interesting departure from the norm (need to mix things up sometimes!).

IMG_0141
Me at Vulcano Gelato

My sister-in-law who visits the peninsula on a regular basis has told me that the old Quarantine Station at Point Nepean is a great place to visit if you have kids, located right near the beach (so they can run around) where the ships come in (and you can get up close) with a very interesting history in a spectacular location so I will file that away for next time.

IMG_0138
Sisco Pizza exterior

While Sardo restaurant in nearby Sorrento had been recommended by our Air BnB host Bridgette, we chose to go to another recommendation of hers – Sisco Pizza (owned by two sisters who were both there on the night) – keeping it local in Rye. It’s close to the Rip Curl surf outlet (up to 70% off!) and next door to Aqua Blu cafe. While the kids opted for pizza and lasagne, Mr Rosanna and I got two of the specials – the fish of the day and the vongole seafood spaghetti – both of which were delicious. It was buzzing in the restaurant and for those dining al fresco I love that Sisco provides grey lap blankets for outdoor diners – such a smart and thoughtful idea. While we thankfully got our meal on time, the table of diners next to us had a wait and staff were apologetic as someone had called in sick.

IMG_0132

Given it’s not yet Daylight Savings time, we also took our dog to the front beach (above) where we could walk her unleashed and I managed a walk/run on our last morning there before we grabbed a quick lunch at the swashbuckling Captains of Rye cafe – a good place to go I suspect after a big night out given the size of the burgers, fries and other dude food on offer. I also like the street art that you can find in Rye – it makes for an interesting feel to the seaside town.

IMG_0153
Captains of Rye interior

I actually spent most mornings there, and now back here in Melbourne, having a sleep in, reading magazines and taking it easy. So easy in fact, that twice now I’ve been sprung by neighbours still in my pyjamas when they’ve come knocking on my door! Luckily I’ve bought some nice ones from Sage and Clare recently on sale instead of wearing my usual supermarket brand. I hope you had a great Grand Final long weekend and I know you did if you barrack for the mighty Tigers!

IMG_0140