Red letter day – Hyde Park

red-hyde-park-1Wearing – Marcs dress (this season’s version), Wolford merino tights, Madewell boots

This red dress is one of my favourites. Gorgeous colour, great shape and fabric, and a skirt that falls just so. So why does it often hang neglected and overlooked in my closet? Well, this dress has “history”. I bought it last year for one express purpose – for an exam. And not just any old exam. For the single most scariest exam I’ve ever done in my whole entire life. No joke. Just thinking about the whole process leading up to it and the day itself is giving me the heebie jeebies. Thank God I passed, but even so the entire experience was so traumatic that my hand would try not to linger over its hanger whenever I came across it in my wardrobe, and I’d always find an excuse to wear something else.

Well, it’s been eight months since that-day-which-shall-no-longer-be-mentioned and I decided that it was time that the curse be lifted. And once I slipped this dress back on, I realised what a fool I’d been to let it languish behind lesser dresses. It’s effortlessly elegant, can be dressed up or down, and is so so soooo comfortable.

On another note, this was one of the few days during our holiday that I could venture safely out without a heavy coat in tow. We’d just eaten at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (for free!) and just hopped across the street into Hyde Park to enjoy the snippet of sunshine and admire the daffodils and giNORmous white swans. They’re twice the size of our black swans! The sunshine, the greenery and the sugar high we were still on made for a lovely, laughter-filled afternoon (probably more like giggles and snorts) and off we trotted on our merry way.
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Lights out at Heston

heston-episode-one-7Our highly anticipated visit to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Knightsbridge, London, was not quite the experience we expected! We were excitedly catching the tube towards the restaurant when it was announced over the loudspeaker that we could not alight at Knightsbridge due to an unexpected power outage. We turned to each other, aghast that we might be terribly late for our lunch booking and be turned away, left with stomachs that had not yet been united with the much-anticipated much-lauded meat fruit, for which Heston is so famous for.

We were not yet completely defeated so we decided we would get off the train at Hyde Park then hotfoot it to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (where the restaurant is located) and try not to look too dishevelled when we got to the five-star venue. The train doors opened and off we sped, like we’d just heard the starting gun of some Olympic race (more like heard the sound of my meat fruit and nitro ice cream singing our names) and arrived at the restaurant, of course looking like I’d just stepped out of a very expensive car after some last minute smoothing down of stray strands of hair. I tried my best to channel a “healthy cherubic glow” rather than a “just ran a mile odour”.

A bevy of very polite, very proper staff greeted us at the doorway and informed us very apologetically that the whole of Knightsbridge (which included the restaurant, Harrods, and Harvey Nichols) were completely without electricity, but we were more than welcome to come in for a drink. As we were seated, the slow feeling of realisation then devastation was creeping over me – don’t tell me I’ve travelled all this way by plane, then tube, then fast trot in high heel boots (a tad ouchie) to go home without my MEAT FRUIT! (Obsessed? Me? Noooo…)heston-episode-one-2 heston-episode-one-1 heston-episode-one-3I was about to lose my mind and tear the beautifully typeset menu into a million pieces when the maitre d’ appeared at the side of our table and once again apologised over and over, tried (quite successfully) to cheer us up and gain our trust by noting that we were all fellow Aussies (he was from Canberra), and revealed to us that although the kitchen could not cook anything today a selection of cold starters and desserts were going to be served…and that everything was ON THE HOUSE. Everything. How about my meat fruit? I piped up. That can be arranged, he says. (Inner Hulk, be still.)

What was to follow was just pure decadence, we ended up being served three starters and four desserts. The meat fruit certainly lived up to my expectations. It arrived, this gorgeous and perfectly formed mandarin perched on its wooden board that revealed a silken, creamily smooth foie gras centre when cut. The combination of the citrus-flavoured jelly that constituted the “skin” of the mandarin with the buttery foie gras heart was just perfect.heston-episode-one-4heston-episode-one-6 heston-episode-one-8We then chose to have the charmingly named Taffety Tart and Bohemian Cake, both headily sweet concoctions that left us in a happy stupor, only then to be plied with two more bonus desserts, the winner of which was most definitely the Tipsy Cake. This was brought to our table in a flourish and proud announcement that a sole working oven had been discovered within the hotel and they had managed to prepare a few Tipsy Cakes, one of which was being bestowed upon us. I was really disappointed to be so full by this point because I only managed to eat a tiny portion of the devilishly divine brioche steeped in a delicious sauce infused with brandy and vanilla, accompanied by a perfectly roasted portion of pineapple. Superb indeed. I was either going to ascend into gustatory heaven or fall into a highly contented sugar coma.

Near devastation was replaced by a feeling that Jinn and I call a “food dream” where the food you just consumed fills you with a heady feeling of delight, memories of how the delicious dishes looked and tasted float around your head, and things that are a little bit funny cause you to laugh for a little bit too long.

They eventually ran out of food to appease us with but we really couldn’t have eaten a single bite more. It was a very strange sensation leaving the place without paying the bill, it felt almost a bit criminal if not for the perpetually-lovely staff smiling at us and wishing us “Good day”! Well, let’s just say, this was not your average free lunch. And, not to worry, hungry to see what the full Heston experience had to offer we were back just a few little days later…
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Tipsy Cake!

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Hello London!

london-16Wearing – Madewell jumper, Urban Outfitters jeans (similar), Happy Socks, Madewell boots

Barely had I recovered from the fun whirlwind of cake and conversations that was my birthday party, then we were packing our bags (in a very frantic manner) and flying off to London for the first leg our holiday. It was the perfect way to celebrate entering a “new age of maturity” (haw haw haw, I just lol-led at that, meh!) and also to attend a very good friend’s wedding in France! Double yay!

Jinn booked us in (as a surprise!) to stay at the gorgeous Langham Hotel, which is just around the corner from the string of shops along Oxford St. Great views over London, fluffy feather pillows, and countless shops just a wee hop-step-jump away – ooh yeah!london-19 london-10 london-6 london-11 london-1 london-9 london-14 london-15 london-18 london-17 london-7 london-8 london-2 london-3 london-4 london-5 london-21 london-22 london-23

Cable Beach again

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We went back to enjoy Cable Beach on my last evening in Broome. I had vowed to watch the sunset from a different beach each night I was in Broome, and true to my word we saw the sun set from a different part of Cable Beach to before. We stayed out late, well after the sun had set, deep in conversation and watching the sky turn from red to black and then erupt into a magnificent starscape. Beautiful scenery, warm nights, a sweet smelling breeze and excellent company – what could be better in life? – Jinn

A visit to the Croc Park!

croc-farm-2I’m writing this really quickly because the longer I look at these pictures, I get a rising sense of impending doom and start experiencing palpitations. The tour at Malcolm Douglas’ Crocodile Park starts off with a little wander around the park on your own, meeting the cute feathered and fluffy inhabitants of this park, which lulls you into a rather false sense of happiness and oh-isn’t-Australia’s-fauna-just-so-beautiful-and-BENIGN. Everyone then gathers to the main pond where you pass around the most gorgeous baby crocodiles (of course with their mouths deftly tied shut to save you from certain digit amputation) and once again everyone coos and poses smiling with the tiny reptilian offspring. They’re surprisingly soft to the touch! In the nearby algae-covered pools, you start to see that the surface of the water is actually patterned with the ridges of many spines, just lying in wait.

Then – it’s feeding time. This was the most thrilling and amazing part of the tour. The guides fearlessly enter the enclosures and practically taunt these giant crocodiles with fish, making them launch themselves into the air to show off their size and sheer strength. They are utterly ferocious and brutal even to their own kind, and what makes them so fascinating is just how deathly still they are just moments before the attack. You will literally not see it coming.

I give this place a rating of five bajillion stars out of ten. Take plenty of sunscreen and water, and wear something breezy. And please say hi to my friend the “barking” owl! He actually says “woof woof”, that’s his natural cry, and he and I had a stimulating conversation, a heart to heart even. Nice to know someone really gets me.croc-farm-1 croc-farm-4 croc-farm-6 croc-farm-8 croc-farm-9 croc-farm-11 croc-farm-12 croc-farm-13 croc-farm-14 croc-farm-15 croc-farm-16 croc-farm-17 croc-farm-18 croc-farm-19 croc-farm-20 croc-farm-21 croc-farm-22 croc-farm-23 croc-farm-24 croc-farm-25 croc-farm-26 croc-farm-27 croc-farm-28

Too close for comfort!

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The guide was not a small man, he was at least 6 foot tall!

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My friend, the “barking” owl – he’ll have a conversation with you! Most civilised!

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Gantheaume Point

gantheaume-17Whilst Jinn was in Broome I really wanted to make it down to Gantheaume Point as I’d read that there were real dinosaur footprints imprinted amongst the rocks that you could approach when the tide was low. There’s something cool about seeing things that are millions of years old, I find it fascinating and it makes me feel rather small yet thrilled at the same time.

We wandered and splashed around the amazing little rock pools for ages, searching for prehistoric footprints and marvelling at the tiny treasures that the tide had left behind. Pieces of colourful coral, pools brimming with tiny sea snails and my favourite hermit crabs, and strange white slug-like things which looked like alien creatures from a Doctor Who episode.

Well, before we knew it, the sun was setting and we had yet to find any signs of ancient dinosaur life. But you know what? We just didn’t care as we were taken in by the most gorgeous sunset we had seen yet, along with the amazing lighting and ever-changing colours of the sky which made it a photographer’s paradise. Plenty of locals had driven their 4WDs onto the beach and were casually enjoying the sight over their picnic dinners, it looked like heaven and the perfect way to spend a Sunday evening. Gives me ideas for next time!

This place is an absolute must see, with sunsets that rival or, dare I say, are even better than Cable Beach’s. There’s plenty of signage on the way there and I highly recommend taking a 4WD and a hamper full of yummy food and beverages. And if anyone knows where those footprints are, please enlighten me!gantheaume-13 gantheaume-21gantheaume-12gantheaume-5 gantheaume-4gantheaume-1gantheaume-6gantheaume-32gantheaume-33gantheaume-8gantheaume-9gantheaume-10gantheaume-11gantheaume-14gantheaume-15gantheaume-18
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Jinn’s visit to lil Broome-town!

broome6The day I’d been hangin’ out for what seemed like an eternity finally arrived – my Jinn came to visit me! He’s my hubby and bestie all in one so being apart is pretty difficult. Thank goodness for webcams so we can at least speak face to face regularly.

Jinn was only here for four days and three nights so we certainly maximised our time together, squeezing in as many sights and get-togethers out of the precious hours we had. Here’s a snippet of our fish-eye fun-times whilst soaking up the sunshine and undeniable beauty of Town Beach in Broome.

Oh, and not only is Jinn my BFF forevs but also photographer extraordinaire and proud new father of a Canon 6D. Hence, more photos and outfit posts to follow! Stay tuned…broome4broome8 broome7 broome3 broome2

Happy Chinese New Year!

1broome6For me, I’ve decided that this year is going to be the year of the Hermit Crab. Yes, not one of the traditional twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac but that kind of sums up how this year is looking for me – less than “traditional”. My usual Chinese New Year festivities kick off with much greeting of everyone with loud and enthusiastic cries of “Gong hee fat chaiiiiii”, followed by eating superhuman amounts of steamboat, lo han tsai (one of my fave vegetarian dishes – ever!) and yee sang, then giving out ang pao (red packets) to all the little kids!

This year, a Broome local took me and a bunch of others fishing. Now, for those of you who don’t know me well, this really is quite a dramatic and momentous occasion as fishing and me don’t generally ever get mentioned in the same sentence. I’m admittedly a city-girl and the last memory I have of going fishing was around the age of five when my dad took us fishing off a dark smelly jetty in Mandurah. I managed to get a fish hook stuck in my knee, and the whole experience was so traumatic that I’d never been fishing since!…But! Just as a hermit crab has to expose its soft and vulnerable bum to find itself a bigger and better home, I’ve resolved to say yes to anyone and anything, throw myself out there to make new friends, and firmly ignore that safe, comfortable, boring and shy girl that sometimes takes hold of me in these situations.

So off we went! After some nifty four-wheel driving over the gorgeous but bumpy red dirt roads, we finally arrived at our fishing spot for the day. The spectacular view just about took my breath away – I can barely describe it and the photos don’t do it justice. The place is so untouched and just teeming with life. Hermit crabs of all sizes scuttle around your feet (some tinier than a pea!), silvery fish flit blithely through the clear aqua waters, and turtles surf the gentle waves, occasionally poking their heads above the surface. The water itself was so deliciously warm that all fear of jellyfish and other such scary things was forgotten as we took refuge from the heat of the relentless sun. No fish were caught, but I couldn’t have cared less!

The day was suitably capped off with an evening by Cable Beach enjoying the sunset, drinks in one hand and fish and chips in the other. Gong hee fat chai indeed!

They say you should spend Chinese New Year doing the things you really like because it predicts what you’ll be doing for the rest of the year. Let’s hope this old saying holds true for me – because that means my year is going to be a cracker!

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Happy weekend! + breaking news

Broome Australia 2008_34So who knows where this is?

Well, first and foremost – happy weekend! Hope you all have fab plans now that you no longer have to peel yourself off the car seat/pavement/any surface you found yourself on during the 40 plus degree heat wave.

Secondly, I’m moving to Broome for six months starting this February! Work is sending me there and sadly I’ll be going alone as Jinn has to stay in Perth, also for work reasons (Curse you, work gods!). But on the up side, how beautiful is Broome? I’ll also be given the fantastic opportunity to travel to other areas including Derby, Kununurra, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, and places I haven’t even heard of! So aside from being apart from my family and friends for a bit, I’m really excited to heading up there. (For those of you not familiar with Western Australia, Broome is 3000 kilometres north of Perth [here’s a map!] and sits right near the top of the state and is surrounded by some pretty sweet coastlines.)

As a result of the impending move there’ll be a bit of a lull while I pack, unpack, adjust and settle in but I hope to continue blogging from my new base.

And thirdly! (Yes, there’s more…) We’ll be updating the look of our little site. Well, when I say “we” I mean Jinn. Jinn’s whiz-bang talent and natural eye for graphic design never fails to amaze me, and I hope you love the fresh look too. 🙂

***Photo courtesy of Gary Hayes.

Malaysia photo diary…aka Food Safari!

sa-carSo we were recently in Malaysia for a whirlwind trip to finally wind up the month long festivities that was Jinn’s little sister’s wedding! Crazy hey? But between dinners and meet-and-greets (Jinn’s parents both have massive extended families) we managed to fit in a spot of shopping, sight-seeing and as you can see – a whole stack of food! Malaysia is well-known for its culinary delights and boy oh boy I tried my bestest to sample them all!

Top 10 things to eat in Malaysia:

  1. Char kway teow – flat rice noodles stir-fried with delicious whatnots like Chinese sausage and scrambled egg
  2. Wonton mee or its East Malaysian sister kolo mee – thin egg noodles that are cooked just al dente served with a delectable soy-based sauce and little pork dumplings
  3. Roti canai – Indian flat bread that is just oh so fluffy accompanied by curries-of-the-day (Great for breakfast! Really!)
  4. Teh tarik – another delicious Indian concoction, black tea sweetened with condensed milk
  5. Laksa – which differs in taste depending which region it comes from – Sarawak, Penang, or curry laksa – they’re all good!
  6. Chee cheong fan – so simple yet oh so mindbendingly awesome, rolls of thick flat rice noodles served with plum-based and chilli sauces and a sprinkling of sesame seeds
  7. Ice kacang and ice chendol – icy desserts in a coconutty sauce, perfect for the hot humid weather
  8. Poh piah – simmered local turnip wrapped with chilli sauce in a thin rice flour skin
  9. Muah chee – sticky rice dumpling filled with crunchy peanuts mixed with white sugar and sesame seeds, one of my personal faves!
  10. Nasi lemak – coconut rice, spicy tiny deep fried fish accompanied with a curry
  11. Satay – self-explanatory and universally worshiped by all
  12. Bah kut teh – juicy pieces of pork spare rib cooked in a herbal soup and served with a bowl of steaming white rice
  13. And don’t forget to sample the local tropical fruits – jackfruit, rambutan, longan, mangosteen…and if you’re brave – durian!

Huh? Did I say top 10? Well, there’s just that much amazing food to eat, I’m sure there’s still some that I’ve missed. What are your must-eat foods that you would travel the world for? roti-teh-2 roti-teh-1 roti-2 roti-4 grandparent-handsang-pow2outfit1-3 outfit1-4+jinn egg-tartnoodle-2jinn-outfit-4sa-amelie2botan-6 botan-7 botan-colours2 monkey-paulmonkey-9botan-colours1 monkey-dude-1 botan-colours4 mee-goreng-man assam-laksa cheong-fan ice-kacangmarket-bananassarah-camerakhoo-lionkhoo-catstreet-art-5 penang-streetart-1 streetart-2

***Street art in Penang by Ernest Zacharevic

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