It’s been a long week and I must admit I’ve been collapsing into a crumpled heap come most Fridays. I am going to take a couple of days off during the upcoming school holidays and will consider taking some further leave in term 4.

Image credit: Well Spotted

Like many people I’ve delayed taking annual leave when there is nowhere to go but I have recognised we will burn out as workers if we don’t just have a break. It has been hard going and hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel but vaccinations are increasing every day and I love some of the more colourful products on sale such as these ‘Fully Vaxxed’ statement T-shirts from Well Spotted and Vaxx Cakes from Beurre Cakes, which have been doing the rounds on social media.

Image credit: Beurre Cakes

I’m very conscious too it is a middle-class privilege to work from home, which I’ve mentioned before and my line of work sees me dealing with people very high up in the public sector who are in the midst of grappling with all the issues we read about in our news media – the health divide that exists between the haves and have nots with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in poorer parts of Sydney and Melbourne disproportionately affected by COVID. I’m very glad that pop up clinics and mobile vans as well as community engagement in priority suburbs have been part of Victoria’s response.

If you’re lucky enough to have groceries or take away meals delivered or other goods couriered to your home, please spare a thought for the man or woman doing this work – they are often young essential workers who have to travel to do their job, to keep food on the table, to pay their bills and it is this demographic who are getting infected and then inadvertently spreading COVID to their families (often large, extended families) at home in the northern and western suburbs.

My Bala Bangles

Speaking of online deliveries, I have bought some Christmas gifts from local store Run to the River in Eltham, while last week I bought the lazy person’s strength training hack – a pair of Bala Bangles. While they won’t come remotely close to doing a proper, supervised class guided by a qualified fitness professional at somewhere like my friend Nikki Ellis’ studio Cinch Training in Macleod, I have worn them while doing housework and out walking.

I miss the simple things too like going to the hairdresser or visiting cafes and restaurants and have been thinking of Jonno at Valiant Barbers and Luis at The Pioneer Cafe at this time. It’s interesting when I think back to my honeymoon spent in Vietnam where all this daily activity actually took place outside on the street! I am hopeful local businesses will bounce back if they’ve been able to pivot and sustain themselves over lockdown – however it may be more challenging for Melbourne’s CBD as much as I’m sure Melburnians will return to the bright lights of the big city for arts, culture, sporting, food and other events in time. It’s also been heartening to read about the many hospitality businesses in and around Melbourne giving free meals to people at this time (extended lockdown is so last year!).

Image credit: Heide Museum of Modern Art

Spending time outdoors is probably the safest bet at the moment – you may be lucky enough to have Heide gardens in Bulleen in your 5km zone or the Alphington Farmers Market – both of which are still open to the public. Open Gardens Victoria and Bulleen Art & Garden are also running online workshops and classes for those who have indoor plants or live in small spaces.

My indoor plants

And finally, while the big game is now going to be played in Perth, the highlight for our family this week was Melbourne winning against Geelong on Friday night and the Dees sealing their historic place in this year’s AFL Grand Final. My youngest son called it early with his Father’s Day drawing for Mr Rosanna ‘Fired up’ (below) – you bet we are…


And just like that…

In the words of Carrie Bradshaw however we are not in New York, but back in lockdown. It’s definitely not the Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year weekend we wanted but 2021 was always going to be the sequel to 2020 – the year of the global pandemic. It’s been all too familiar to be at home, wear a mask outside and return to working and learning from home. There has been a rise in people reaching out for support and if you are feeling anxious, it’s wise to take action.

Things will change as they always do, but until the vaccine is fully rolled out, we are living in a start stop economy and my heart goes out to the many small businesses – cafes, restaurants, event venues, caterers and florists that were lined up to do a roaring trade this weekend. On a more personal note, I am sad for those whose birthdays fell on this weekend and school camps scheduled for next week. It’s not fair but we have no choice to accept where we are and deal with the reality. Hotel quarantine continues to be a fraught exercise and given it’s clearly not watertight I can understand why the Victorian government is reticent to bring back both stranded Australians and international students, but also annoyed we are back in this position. My only hope is that this latest outbreak is contained given the collective pain we are now all in.

It hasn’t been easy for industries that are suffering including higher education, which is Victoria’s largest service export. There are 17,000 colleagues in the sector just like me who have lost their livelihood but given that things may worsen before they improve this year, I am glad to be out and contemplating my options now.

I have continued to apply for jobs, share my CV with recruiters and LinkedIn contacts and meet people in my network. This week, I had coffee with Deputy Mayor of Darebin and Greens councillor Susanne Newton at The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna. She is also a La Trobe staff member and we have remained in touch since I presented to council for funding as a Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Board member. She is an interesting person in her own right and I’d often see her riding her e-bike around campus!

I also met local photographer Rod Ceballos during the week at his pop up studio at wework at 120 Spencer Street opposite the station, which unsurprisingly was very quiet given COVID-19 but it was great to spend time with him having my photo taken and finding out more about Rod (he’s from Chile) and his interests. He is a regular photographer for Banyule Council and also volunteers with Amnesty International as well as teaches photography. He took a number of great shots so I will share these once ready to go.

Prior to the lockdown being announced, I met my friend Alisia for an imprompu lunch at The Little Pho Tuck Shop located behind Leo’s in Kew (park in the carpark). Although it was a warm day, we opted to share some prawn spring rolls and then each had a rare beef pho, which was delicious! While there are now at least two or three Vietnamese restaurants in Preston, it was good to find something traditional in the eastern suburbs.

While my family hasn’t celebrated Lunar New Year this year, my friend Lianne’s family snuck a big dinner in on Friday night – check out those noodles! And I am very glad to farewell the Rat year and let the Ox march in – a year where we are rewarded for our hard work. Let’s hope this includes going into lockdown to avoid a third wave. And while not to take the gravity out of our situation, it’s a little twee but I hope this Carrie Bradshaw quote might make you smile:

“Eventually all the pieces fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.”

BMX Bandits

While it’s been sad to see forlorn pictures of an empty Melbourne CBD, the upside has been renewed suburban life. While my friends Nikki, Luis and Jonno from local businesses Cinch Training, The Pioneer Cafe and Valiant Barbers are all doing it tough at the moment (they’ll definitely be diamonds by the end of this), I hope they may be heartened by the fact that there are so many locals working from home and I’ve never seen so many people walking my local streets and neighbouring parklands. The city’s loss has been suburbia’s (and regional areas) gain but my hope is that Melbourne returns to all her glory in time. The MSO Leaps and Bounds virtual performance last week was uplifting to watch and my heart goes out to the many performing artists who have lost their work this year.

Chei Wen bar image via Shop in Ivanhoe

I went for a pretty warm and windy run at Rosanna parklands yesterday and was laughing to myself after seeing a couple of teenage boys sporting massive mullets – it’s been like returning to my ’80s childhood growing up in Bulleen (and I’ve heard roller skates have had just as big a resurgence as bikes). The BMX track has been in high demand and for those of you following the 2020 Tour de France – you might be interested in knowing that SBS commentator Matthew Keenan grew up in Rosanna and still lives locally in the area.

Chei Wen bar image via Shop in Ivanhoe

I had a meeting this week with another local – La Trobe alum and Paralympian swimmer Sam Bramham OAM who owns Chei Wen bar in Ivanhoe and Fly Lie bar in Kew. He’s quite the character and like many high achieving individuals I deal with he’s also highly charismatic, but I have been more impressed by his philanthropy (he’s an Accessible Beaches board member) and his positivity despite his trip to Tokyo 2020 not happening (nor his associated speaking gigs) and COVID-19 impacts to his hospitality businesses. The mark of someone’s character is how they behave in the face of adversity and like many people he’s risen to the challenge and focussed on what he can do.

Image via Fly Lie Bar Facebook page

I spent this morning at my current 5km southern border meeting my bestie Jules at Tatin bakery to pick up a takeaway coffee at the Bulleen Road shops before doing the Koonung Creek Linear Park trail walk along the Eastern freeway. It’s been good to get out and about after hitting a bit of a low point during the week reaching the 6 month working from home milestone with 3 months still to go before Christmas, without a proper break. I’ll try not to complain as I’m lucky to still have work, which keeps you accountable and engaged in other ways, but it has definitely been hard to keep going. Like most people, I’m committed to staying the course until things open up late October, but it has been an exercise in resilience and I hope you are also hanging in there.

Image via Tatin Facebook page

Brave New World

Brave is what we are all going to have to be in the coming weeks and months. It’s been a long week for most of us. Like many, I had a trial day working from home during the week (and one of my children trialling online learning) before moving indefinitely to working and learning from home from tomorrow. In the space of 48 hours, I had to ensure my VPN was working and move to Zoom video conferencing, Cisco Jabber and a private WhatsApp group with daily check ins with my team and weekly catch ups with my manager. I did joke to my Director that he’ll be a digital native in no time.

Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash

All jokes aside, I think many people are in shell shock – at least the ones who are taking coronavirus seriously. I’ve already witnessed real fear and worry from people in my circle and it’s justified given that dreams and plans for this year have been impacted and livelihoods are now at stake. Fear and worry are no good to you, you must take action and do all that you can to buy yourself time in terms of talking to your bank regarding your mortgage or business loan, your private school if you have children there, moving to an online format if you’re a service provider (my pilates teachers are going to do this) and if you provide a personal service of some kind ensuring you have adequate resources available if you need to close up shop or reduce staff – many cafes have moved to takeaway and home delivery including my friend Luis at The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna. The National Debt Helpline is offering free advice from a financial counsellor on 1800 700 700 if you need to speak to someone about your situation. I am hopeful that some people can quickly move from denial and panic to acceptance and innovation – necessity is the mother of all invention.

I am feeling for all casual and gig economy workers, the frail and elderly, those who have disabilities, chronic illness or homeless and other vulnerable people out there in the community who are at most risk in terms of paying rent or having somewhere to live, losing their jobs or their lives. And its these people we need to keep in mind, as well as our own parents and grandparents, instead of frolicking carelessly on the beach at this point in time. As things become incredibly serious and much more deadly in the coming months, I hope the messages of our government and Chief Medical Officer start to hit home especially for those people who seem to think they’re invincible.

Ensure you’re subscribing to a credible news source like the ABC, The Age or The Guardian rather than relying on social media (and also limit the amount of times per day you check the news if you are feeling anxious). I worked with Dr Norman Swan (and Shane Delia) a couple of years ago on the Bold Thinking Series lecture on the Mediterranean Diet. He is a smart and funny man who is currently hosting the ABC’s Coronacast but even he is deferring to official news and medical opinion. Shane Delia in the meantime has temporarily closed his business for the next two months and he sadly won’t be the only person in hospitality who now needs to do this.

While Coles and Woolworths are ramping up and re-starting their home delivery grocery service soon, I have been able to place an online order with Your Grocer and I know some local mums who subscribe to Hello Fresh. Mr Rosanna and I also dropped in to Leo’s in Heidelberg yesterday which was surprisingly calm and were able to do a shop sans toilet paper but have managed to find an online supplier. Farmers Markets too are still open for business at this time but I’d encourage you to please practice social distancing.

Mental health is just as important as physical health at this time. While I use Simply Being, there are many other meditation apps out there including Smiling Mind and Calm. Buy yourself some indoor plants if you don’t have a pet, backyard, courtyard or balcony and give yourself something else to look after during this time. Also make sure you’re properly set up at home with an office chair and desk (or makeshift desk), adequate lighting and any other office equipment you might need – keyboard, headphones, monitors etc if you are working from home as it could be a long haul ahead of us.

Take care, stay safe and be well. One day at a time…

Smelling the roses

The La Trobe University Distinguished Alumni Awards were held on Monday evening and it was a long day and night for me. They are an annual event which were held in the city at Metropolis Events at Southgate which offered glittering night-time views of Melbourne and it was spectacular to get there late afternoon where we could see Arbory Afloat on the Yarra opposite us.


I got to mingle at the start of the evening talking to a number of high profile people I’d previously worked with when I managed the Bold Thinking Series including Virginia Trioli (who was one of the winners) and her partner Russell Skelton, Tony Walker, Geoff Walsh and Professor Jenny Graves AO plus a number of other leading academics and industry professionals with ties to La Trobe. Prior to the Awards, guests were also treated to a surprise performance by the Australian Ballet School – one of the University’s partners.


Writer and academic Dr (now Professor) Clare Wright was MC with Chancellor John Brumby AO making presentations along with Vice-Chancellor John Dewar to the stellar lineup of winners, which included Young Achiever Awards to Melbourne AFLW player Daisy Pearce and surgical resident Dr Batool Albatat; rural women’s pioneer Alana Johnson, epidemiologist Dr John Hopper AM, SecondBite co-founder Simone Carson AM and ABC Melbourne Mornings host Virginia Trioli completing the field.



My wider team and La Trobe staff were given the beautiful floral table decorations at the end of the night and so I have stopped to smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of life this week, knowing that lift itself is a gift.


Speaking of flowers, the Bee Shed Launch Party is being held on Sunday at the Alphington Farmers Market and my friend and Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Director Ella Hinkley is involved with the Pollinator Alliance while tomorrow the Rosanna Primary Old School Fair, the Paella Sangria Churros night (fun!) at The Pioneer Cafe, the annual Watsonia craft fair and the Melbourne Ceramics Market in Collingwood (which local ceramic artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen is part of) are all on – it’s a big day.

If the weather holds, the Malahang Festival is also on this Sunday in Heidelberg West as well as the Public Run Day at the Box Hill Miniature Railway. Strange to think our Spring weather has been so mild this year and my thoughts have been with our NSW neighbours up north battling those horrific bushfires this week. Stay cool…


What a difference a decade makes. Halloween has become huge in the ‘hood over the past 5 – 10 years and local retailers and councils have all jumped on board. There’ll be trick or treating going on in a number of different places including Macleod Village from 4 – 6pm, Were Street Montmorency from 2.30 – 6.30pm, Upper Heidelberg Road in Ivanhoe from 2 – 6 pm, East Ivanhoe Village from 3.30 – 6pm and at Watsonia Village from 4 – 7pm this Thursday 31 October.


As for me I do love the significance of the Day of the Dead and we watched the delightful Disney movie Coco at the Coburg Drive-In one New Year’s Eve and since then, have watched it a number of times – it’s one of those movies that always makes me cry.


Speaking of all things Central American, a shout out too for local cafe The Pioneer run by El Salvadoran Australian owner (and Richmond Football Club fan!) Luis. I keep missing his amazing sounding monthly 3-course dinner events and must get to one at some stage soon. He has indeed been a pioneer in bringing his family cuisine to this area and Rosanna is all the better for having some cultural diversity.


A holiday can’t come soon enough for our family. We’ve had a big start to the year and will continue to be busy through the winter but at least it will take my mind off the weather. Busy-ness is the curse of modern life and I don’t say it with pride but resignation. At the moment I’ve accepted where we’re at but I’m hoping to cut back on the amount of things we’re doing as it’s not sustainable in the long run nor does it make for a terribly balanced life.

All the half yearly sales have started early so I’ve visited both Northland and Westfield Doncaster the past two weekends stocking up on luggage, activewear and children’s shoes and clothes. I don’t love shopping centres in general but they do serve a purpose and sale time is the right time to buy. If you’re a fan of Uniqlo, then you’ll be happy to know it opens early next month at Northland.

For slow fashion fans, the Flat Iron warehouse sale is on at 54 Gwynne Street in Cremorne from 11am – 4 pm tomorrow while The Conscious Closet sale is on from 11am – 3pm at Fitted for Work, Basement Entry, 210 Lonsdale Street in the city. I was lucky enough to work with ethicist Peter Singer’s wife Renata a couple of years ago (on the Bold Thinking Series lecture Forever Young) who had a very impressive background as one of the original co-founders of Fitted for Work splitting her time between Melbourne and New York.


I also wanted to do a shout out for The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna which is holding its monthly 3 course dinner (menu above) on Saturday 22 June if you’re interested in the Spanish-themed event. I had a little moment last week when I had not one but two Columbians on my front porch – my son’s music teacher Pablo had lined up replacement teacher Carlos for a meet and greet – it’s certainly got a lot more international in Melbourne.


I’ve also been spending time in Thornbury the past couple of months and love that Zak’s Surfboards have a shop (pictured above) in the area given my love of all things slightly incongruous. It’s not far from Greek social club the Olympian Society whose logo also caught my eye this week and made me nostalgic after our inspiring trip to the Greek Islands this time last year.




Welcome to a very hot start to Autumn. The new year is still ringing in changes for me and will stay that way over the next few months. Change is the only constant in life as they say so I’m rolling with the punches – I’m not sure if I can use any more clichés! It’s been busy at work with Orientation Week in full swing but great to see lots of excited young people buzzing around the campus which is the largest in the southern hemisphere. La Trobe University has always attracted international and regional students because of this and I also had a tour of Stage 1 of the new Sports Park (the AFL oval that’s bigger than Marvel Stadium pictured below) last week with members of my new team – it will be fantastic once finished and fully open for business.


My new team is also a bit like the United Nations in that I work with Americans, English and Irish nationals who’ve made the move here for work, study or family reasons so it’s great to see Melbourne through the eyes of people who haven’t grown up here. I also seem to have met a lot of Central and South American people of late including an ex-work colleague and one of my children’s music teachers who are both from Columbia.

Today I had lunch with one of my little men at The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna, which has now been open 15 months. Owner Luis is from an El Salvadoran background – his gorgeous mum has been working in the kitchen and his new chef is also El Salvadoran. Luis was putting up some new artwork while I was there – the cafe is modern so it was a more subtle nod to his cultural background without being too obvious. They’re holding their first sold out monthly 3 course dinner with welcome cocktail event later this month so it’s great to see a still relatively new and very welcome local business doing interesting things. It’s become decidedly less vanilla in Rosanna in the time that I’ve been living here, which I’ve loved.

The Melbourne Fashion Festival opens today and it’s festival season with the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and Melbourne Comedy Festival all taking place in March. Busy indeed in the capital and closer to home the award-winning Twilight Sounds free music event as part of the annual Banyule Festival is being held on Saturday 16 March at Sills Bend in Warringal Park, Heidelberg with craft beer pop up bar by Thornbury-based 3 Ravens Brewery and a score of different food trucks.


From El Salvador to Japan

Having not one but two birthdays in my family just before Christmas every year always kills me and this year was no exception.  I spent most of this weekend eating but the good thing was that it took our minds and attention off the miserable and wet weather conditions.

Poor Mr Rosanna’s birthday is always overshadowed now but we managed to salvage the day by taking him out for brunch at new Rosanna cafe The Pioneer, which is firmly on the map after a visit from our Premier Daniel Andrews MP last week.  The front tables were taken but we were given some seats in the back room (above) with the square communal table that seats 12, housing the Christmas tree, which small people came to look at while we were there.

The owner has a social enterprise background but this is his own first cafe and what I love even more is that he is a local and an El Salvadoran Australian so the menu is Spanish-influenced.  Despite the drizzle, the place was still rockin’ on Saturday morning with very much an inner-city vibe – I still find it hard to believe sleepy Rosanna is finally starting to wake up.  The coffee and the meals (above) were fantastic – as good as you’ll find in Fitzroy or Collingwood.  On a sunnier day, it would also be lovely to spend time in the back courtyard tables so it’s great to see this former newsagency transformed into something of the times.  Interesting too to know that besides a Woolworths supermarket, Chemist Warehouse is also coming to Rosanna Village in the near future on the corner of Lower Plenty Road and Bellevue Avenue where Meridian Travel used to be and going all the way up to where Chris the Cobbler (who’ll be moving to Macleod) has been for over 30 years!  They made him an offer too good to refuse…

Mr R’s day didn’t stop there as I’d booked dinner for us a while ago at Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, which was also a great experience given the conditions outside.  Brunswick Street is always pretty busy on a Saturday night but it was jumping (and dark!) inside the restaurant where we had a booth table after Dani from Hunter Lane Cafe had recommended me booking.  There was some pretty awesome 70s dance music on high rotation while we were there so I found it hard to sit still – it’s got a great atmosphere and reminded me a bit of Garden State Hotel in the city with all the different layers and parts to it upstairs and downstairs.  There was a private function going on upstairs but the Village People rooftop bar with hawker style dining would also make a great date night venue.  The mixed sushi and sashimi platter that we had (above) was beautifully presented and there was a team of Japanese chefs behind the counter doing their thing.  I’ve not been to the sister restaurant in St Kilda but I think it would be just as good.  It was interesting too to note that we weren’t the oldest people in the joint – I think there are a number of older people now downsizing and moving to the inner city.

We’d walked past a number of cool looking bars and restaurants on the way to Ichi Ni Nana including The Rooks Return, Smith & Daughters and Bon Ap but ended up at Uptown Jazz Cafe where we had a drink and stayed for a couple of songs by a jazz trio playing two sets that night.  It was a great way to spend a Saturday night in Melbourne.


We also had dinner at local favourite Benjamin’s Kitchen in Alphington on Friday night followed by ice cream at Fairy Hills Ice Cream in Ivanhoe (in a great location on Lower Heidelberg Road opposite Ivanhoe Grammar) where we played a game of Uno.  We were at Leo’s Fine Food briefly over the weekend (where again I am loving all the Christmas packaging for imported European foodstuffs like Italian Panettone above) and I noticed that ice creamery Wally & Fletcher on Burgundy Street is just about to open so Fairy Hills will have a new local competitor.  I am hoping the weather picks up again for all of them as I think it would be great to share the ice cream love.

Nb. Miss Rosanna is sponsored by Hunter Lane Cafe