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The green, green Grampians

After our obligatory Melbourne food-coffee-shop-art fest, the three of us bundled into the car and meandered our way to the Grampians via the picturesque Great Ocean Road, Australia’s answer to Big Sur.

I recently came across the Japanese term shinrin-yoku, literally “forest bathing”. It refers to the recommended practice of visiting the forest for health benefits, both physical and mental. Nothing could be truer and articulates so perfectly the effect even a short trip out of the city does to us. The sharp fresh air, the quiet punctuated by only the gentle sounds of nature, letting your eyes settle on wide open spaces and distant horizons. It’s interesting that out there, one can experience true silence and true darkness, perhaps giving our senses the natural rest they need.

Ironically I write this whilst staring at my laptop screen in a bustling cafe, bass-heavy Lauryn Hill blasting from a speaker into my left ear, cars whizzing by on my right, and the barista is doing that thing they do where they bash equipment together really loudly for some reason or other. (Someone help me out here – what are they doing?)

But this is the reality of our everyday. So maybe tree-hugging shouldn’t be a term reserved for altruistic environmentalists alone, it might do us all some good. I’m convinced it does.

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Great Ocean Road with 2.1 humans

I gotta admit, I got onto that plane kicking and screaming on the inside, thinking that this was a very very bad idea. Why would I want to be a sleepless, frazzled new parent somewhere other than in the comfort of my own home.

Insane levels of sleep deprivation and the sudden transition from full-time professional to mother of a tiny being was wreaking havoc on my brain and sense of self. Well-meaning people, parenting websites, numerous books urged me to try all sorts of “fixes” and “routines” resulting in additional stress, making my nerves even more ragged and the tears fall faster.

This trip was in fact the antidote I needed. Every day was different by necessity, routine was out the window as we literally strapped Alexa to our bodies and got outside. We loved it and she loved it! It didn’t matter what we did, there wasn’t any secret magic except for enjoying nature, the act of exploring and simply connecting with one another. Taking the time to notice and drink in the trees rustling in the wind, waves crashing on sandy beaches, the changing colours only sunset can bring, the warmth of my beautiful baby in my arms, the gentle rise and fall of her tummy as she sleeps, placing a little kiss on her tiny lips.

The South-West

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Last long weekend we contemplated two choices. Spend the time doing some much needed home DIY and tidying? Or go coastal exploring? You can see which option won out – the irresponsible but equally necessary choice! We took the opportunity to have a much needed break from the daily grind and wound our way around Dunsborough and the rocky coastline that surrounds the South-West.

The sunny weather and crisp ocean air cleared the stress and drear from our minds as we scrambled intrepidly across coastal paths and up rocky ways. The cool nights were spent hunkering down with mugs of warm tea, too many Snickers bars and a good read. The highlights? Climbing Castle Rock and watching the sun set over Sugarloaf from atop a rocky perch.

Bells Rapids

bells-rapids-15bells-rapids-1bells-rapids-24bells-rapids-26 bells-rapids-8bells-rapids-25 bells-rapids-29bells-rapids-28 bells-rapids-30bells-rapids-18 bells-rapids-31 bells-rapids-34 bells-rapids-36bells-rapids-39bells-rapids-38 bells-rapids-40The last long weekend here in Perth called for a quick dose of red dirt and eucalyptus, and a moment of much needed self care. Time to shut that laptop and forget about the mountain of work emails, and just enjoy the zamia palms swish past my legs and watch the sunset tint the smoke-filled sky wondrous colours.

And better than that, time to spend with friends who think it’s a great idea to follow a sign that says “Goat Walk” and proceed to practically rock climb up the side of a hill, friends who agree that appropriate hiking food consists of chocolate and coffee, and friends who accept you as a complete package and help you remember that you’re kinda alright.

Thanks guys. I think you’re kinda alright too.

Bhalo

bhalo-1 bhalo-2 bhalo-3 bhalo-4Goodness gracious me, how sweet are these pieces from Bhalo’s latest collection! The easy breezy cuts and colours that make me feel like eating gelato in a forest on a sunny day (I’ll make it happen someday) are just what the doctor ordered for the summer which, if you live in Perth, seems to be almost here but then swept away by yet another windy showery weekend. Oh Mr Weatherman, you are such a tease. Nevertheless, we know any moment now our searing summer will be upon us and I think I’ll be wanting to spend some of those days in one (or more!) of these dresses.

Beyond their good looking wares, Bhalo is an independent fashion label based right here in Perth and champions the cause for fair trade practices. Their limited edition garments are produced ethically in rural Bangladesh using natural hand woven textiles. What began as a charity has successfully resulted in a self-sustaining business that provides jobs within this small village, and has also brought with it opportunities to assist the people with issues such as literacy, health awareness, and economics.

We can all make a difference and make this world a more unified and just place to live in. Bhalo is an incredible example of how one’s interests and passions can collide and meld to create something that beautifully bridges the divide between the developed and developing worlds.

Bhalo is exclusively stocked in Perth at Fi and Co and Bibi.

Can’t be stuffed getting out of your PJs? That’s ok, their pretty webstore is here.

Read more about their inspirational story here.

Kate + Abel

kateandabel-12kateandabel-11kateandabel-10kateandabel-9kateandabel-8kateandabel-7kateandabel-6kateandabel-5kateandabel-4kateandabel-3kateandabel-2kateandabel-1When we grow up we wanna be Matt and Kate. They’re the milliners from the I-want-one-of-everything hat label, St Saviours, the shopkeepers of Kate + Abel, and the heart and soul behind the much-needed, pure genius, Fremantle-based Spacemarket project, Many6160. You know those days where you set out to get started on that amazing idea you had bright and early in the morning, decide to take a quick peek at your phone to check your email then realise at 9:30 in the evening that you’d accidentally spent all day playing Farmville (oh, that’s just me?) – well, I don’t believe Kate or Matt have ever been guilty of this. Words like procrastination, tomorrow, later and impossible don’t even seem to exist in their vocabularies, and oh how I wish to take more than just a leaf out of their book. They are an inspiring and tight duo, brim full of verve, life and ideas.

Whilst living in London, Kate and Matt first found their knack for millinery when they started customising their own hats with unique trims. After receiving streams of compliments and exclamations of “Where did you get that?”, they thought they could really make something of it and began selling their hats in markets around East London as well as music festivals under their label, St Saviours.

One hat. Two hats. And to their open-jawed surprise and delight soon their hats were flying out the door! They had really hit a chord amongst the fashion-savvy of London and found their own creative niche. And you know you really must be doing something right when you get approached by Topshop and see your wares being sold in their flagship Oxford Circus store. They also caught the eye of Anthropologie and luxury department store, Harvey Nichols. Lucky for us Perthians, these chic-as headtoppers are now available at Kate + Abel at Many6160 in Fremantle. You can’t say you’re not a hat-person until you’ve visited these guys. There is a vast array of colours to choose from – the lush felt hails from London and the palm frond panama hats all the way from Ecuador to ensure you get the very best and the most authentic result. Trims are fully customisable, from leather to feathers to pompoms, and can be deftly sewn on whilst you wait.

On a bigger picture, grander scale, Matt and Kate are the visionary coordinators of the Many6160 collective, the likes of which Perth has never seen. Many6160 is part of the Spacemarket organisation and movement which seeks to “pair disused spaces with useful people” with a focus on affordability and supporting upcoming local talent. Many6160 is the largest group of its kind in the entire southern hemisphere boasting 22000 square metres of ground space! On the ground floor they host storefronts to many creatives and designers (such as Peaches & Clean and Anya Brock) and conduct small workshops for the Skillsmithery by the beloved Studio Bomba. The other floors are the workspaces for a number of independent small companies like Maeker Studio, A Good Looking Man, and Dunk n Wagnell. This space is such an inviting blank canvas of possibilities that we’ve also seen a pop-up rooftop bar and a top secret concert organised by the one and only Jarrad Seng featuring the ethereal Kate Miller-Heidke.

Kate and Matt pour so much of their hearts, time and sheer muscles into making this project fly. They are so selfless in their promotion of others and have an incredible drive and desire to see the creative community of Perth come together and thrive. They bring their vision and overseas experiences to Perth to create something that is so uniquely Perth. We loved meeting these two so instantly likeable people. In what felt like only a few minutes, we whiled away almost a couple of hours in conversation, ranging from the joys and woes of social media to the dilemmas faced by us modern humans and even fit in a quick tour of the vast space.

Til next time guys!

Be sure to visit Many6160 to meet and support a great bunch of local creatives. The place is also available for venue hire with a variety of spaces suitable for small groups to raging mobs.

Kate + Abel / Many6160 / Facebookhello@kateandabel.com / Friday to Sunday 10am – 5pm

Cranmore Home Winter Workshop

cranmore-winter-workshop-36 cranmore-winter-workshop-3 cranmore-winter-workshop-5 cranmore-winter-workshop-4 cranmore-winter-workshop-2 cranmore-winter-workshop-6 cranmore-winter-workshop-7 cranmore-winter-workshop-8cranmore-winter-workshop-13 cranmore-winter-workshop-14 cranmore-winter-workshop-9 cranmore-winter-workshop-11 cranmore-winter-workshop-10 cranmore-winter-workshop-12 cranmore-winter-workshop-15 cranmore-winter-workshop-16 cranmore-winter-workshop-17cranmore-winter-workshop-1 cranmore-winter-workshop-20cranmore-winter-workshop-18cranmore-winter-workshop-19 cranmore-winter-workshop-21 cranmore-winter-workshop-22 cranmore-winter-workshop-23cranmore-winter-workshop-1-2cranmore-winter-workshop-30cranmore-winter-workshop-25 cranmore-winter-workshop-24 cranmore-winter-workshop-31 cranmore-winter-workshop-27 cranmore-winter-workshop-33cranmore-winter-workshop-32cranmore-winter-workshop-34cranmore-winter-workshop-26cranmore-winter-workshop-35 cranmore-winter-workshop-37motifThere are very few things that will get me out of bed willingly before sunrise. There are even less things that will convince me to leave the warm embrace of my friendly doona on a 2 degree morning. And yet, on a morning that fulfilled both of those usually dealbreaking criteria, I spritely hopped out of bed and out the door with Jinn on one arm and a hot thermos of coffee under the other. The promise of a day filled with hands on creativity and a chance to meet some of the most inspiring craftspeople in Western Australia filled us with barely containable excitement (and uncharacteristic morning cheer).

We set off up the road, admiring the sunrise through the foggy hills until we reached Cranmore Home, the picturesquely sprawling family homestead of Tracy Lefroy, the host and mastermind behind the Winter Workshop. After some time meeting, mingling, and obligatory caffeination, the workshops were underway! The workshops on offer were:

Ink Drawing
Laura Wortlock of Once Was Lost Studio

Textile Block Printing
Emma Grace Hawtrey of Woodpiles & Wishbones

Home Apothecary
Katrina Snowden of Peaches & Clean

Reclaimed Timber
Spencer and Marie-Clare of Maeker Studio

Floral Art
Rebecca Const of Fox and Rabbit

Tin Flower Making
Natalie Tonkin of Natalie Tonkin Design

Styling and Composition
Meghan Plowman

The workshops gave each of us the opportunity to learn from a local expert and were highly participative! During Rebecca’s floral art class, we traipsed around Tracy’s vast property foraging (read: pillaging) for beautiful foliage and wildflowers, incorporating them into our very own floral masterpiece which we got to take home. Mine is still going strong! All this physical and brain activity was sustained by a regular flow of hot drinks and a sumptuous long (loooooong) table lunch set under the branches of some pepper berry trees and catered for by the culinarily-gifted Jodie Fairclough from To The Woods Cafe and Ferngrove Wines.

What an undeniable success the entire day was! We joked over lunch that it really should be a two day long Cranmore Winter Camp, but we weren’t really joking…I really didn’t want the day to end. We brought home my very own portfolio of ink drawings and a personally arranged vase of some of my favourite flowers, a new Tasmanian oak laboriously shaped, sanded and waxed by Jinn, and a screen-printed tea towel that he literally made with his own blood and sweat (left index finger vs lino cutter). But more than that, we came away having had the chance to meet and connect with a bunch of really great folk who have a heart for championing the local artisan and a huge appreciation of how much work goes into what they do.

A bucketload of congratulations and kudos to the big-hearted and broad-smiled Tracy Lefroy, and of course her indefatigable behind-the-scenes designer, Rebecca Walsh Johnson (edited!). And for all the endless Instagrammable moments, massive applause goes to Meghan Plowman and Bec Tougas for impeccably styling the event. Shout out to Maya from House Nerd – so good to meet you!

Tracy Lefroy / Cranmore Home / Online store / tracylefroy@cranmore.com.au

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