07Jan

15Nov

09Oct

Did you know that only 2% of floral species have their own dedicated festival? And that 48% of all statistics are made up?

What isn’t made up is the Tesselaar Tulip Festival – it’s for real and it’s lovely. Not quite as many tulips as the website illustration would have you believe, but enough to satisfy any self-respecting tulip-lover and her mother visiting from interstate.

Over for the weekend, I suggested a drive through the Dandenong Ranges to Mum, and together we enjoyed a few hours of Irish Weekend, complete with wandering Irish bagpipers. We pondered how successful a tulip angel would be (like a snow angel), dodged the lovers crouching down among the blooms and taking serious selfies with a tripod and remote, skipped the dutch pancakes and snipped our own bunch from the dedicated area.

Here’s a few of the varieties on display, plus some bonus non-tulip varieties.

Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival Tesselaar Tulip Festival

30Sep

After months of blog silence, I wrote a huge post about something I really dislike doing. I had gotten out of bed at 1am to take Simon to the airport and when I climbed back in I couldn’t sleep. I was up until 5am, writing about running.

Today I’m sharing the far more enjoyable portions of the weekend. It was just what the doctor ordered – so much so that Simon and I are going back to the mountains in two weeks for a very exciting adventure… more on that later!

The Mansfield Lakehouse
Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

The Mansfield Lakehouse
The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse
Potential new obsession – slacklining.

The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse The Mansfield Lakehouse
A weekend of fresh air at the Mansfield Lakehouse.

[Joining Emily at The Beetleshack for Stills]

30Sep

running

When I first received an email about a weekend away at the Mansfield Lakehouse with a particular bunch of ladies, I admit I was slightly nervous. Not nervous for the meeting of new people, for I only knew one of them and she was bound to have great friends, but for the idea of what they were and what I wasn’t – athletic.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my strengths. I’m fairly coordinated and bendy thanks to an affair with karate and a more on-again-off-again relationship with yoga. I like adventure and risk and distraction with life-threatening situations. The original plan involved white water rafting which I was keen for, but  plans changed and the group got to talking about possibly the most terrifying activity I could imagine…

Running.

There are two reasons why this was a particularly frightening prospect on this particular weekend. The first being my company and their running experience. My friend Sam is good at running. And by good I mean last year she crossed all 400km of the Simpson Desert with about 20 minutes sleep. The others have hugely significant achievements of their own, including but not limited to iron people and ultra marathoners.

The second reason is my lack of both experience and cardio-vascular function. The furthest I have ever run in my life is 6km, in an oxy-moronic “fun run” in 2006. After years of working behind a computer and after Sam crossed the desert, I tried crossing my local oval and my heart rate passed 200bmp within 10 minutes. You can imagine my delight when a morning run was suggested on Saturday. “Just a little one,” they said. “We’ll take it easy.”

For whatever reason, possibly fear of shame and embarrassment, I put my shoes on and joined them. I could always just roll over on the side of road if need be, I thought.  Just rest in a pile of cow manure until the evacuation chopper could be called to pick me up from the end of the driveway. But I got to the end of the driveway.

It was jogging, really. I don’t know how fast you have to go to be technically running, but I wasn’t going fast. I jogged along and breathed in the cool mountain air, forcing it all the way down in an effort to maximise the efficiency of my asthma-free lungs. Pretty soon I felt that burn, the one that I usually just give up at the first sign of. The difference on this Saturday morning was that I kept going.

I slowed to a walk in some spots and alternated between jogging and walking. I stuck my tongue out in the rain and thought about the fact that once upon a time, these girls weren’t runners either, and I kept moving forwards. A couple of the girls had taken the car up the road towards town and were running back to meet us, and I kept moving until we met them at the largest group of letterboxes I’d ever come across, stopping briefly to take a photo.

We carried on, jog/walking with the encouragement of my support crew until we reached the car, 6.1km from where we’d started. A new PB for me and the most continual exercise I’ve done in years. With legs the consistency of well-cooked spaghetti, I allowed myself to be driven to the nearest Farmer’s Market for some medicinal sourdough and cheese.

That afternoon, after largely ignoring the AFL Grand Final in favour eating the recently purchased cheese, we set up a slack-line and tortured our cores. I regained a little dignity with the balancing and have all but hit PURCHASE on my own slack-line for future summer park fun. The late afternoon brought a few spectators out of the bushes and when it got dark and cold we went inside to light the fire. There was a lot of talk about running and training and runners who train with asthma and someone asked what our personal goals for the end of the year were. I burst into tears. Girls weekends are good for that.

I finally hit the breaking point I’d avoided for so long. With no burning reason to get into shape, no life-threatening heart troubles or lung malfunctions to overcome, I’d just never committed. I never had enough motivation to keep going, but I felt like I’d just found it. I decided I would run the 3km from our house to our office by Christmas, non-stop.

On Sunday morning a mountain run was suggested. I didn’t squeal with excitement, but I didn’t look for my usual excuses either. Instead I found myself, nauseous and nearly crying, 1.5km later at 700m above sea level, looking out over the mountains and deciding I might actually be able to do it. I was still alive, after all. I know some people have bigger mountains to conquer, but this was mine and I couldn’t have reached that decision without the girls on top of that mountain with me.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. That just happens to be my lucky number and with 2 down already I guess I’m on my way. What’s your goal for the end of the year?

20Sep

Veggie Rack - small space gardening
We face two common problems when it comes to growing anything edible – living in a rented house and loving a pup who looks with his feet. Putting anything in the ground bears the risk of being thusly removed or left behind if/when we move again. The challenge was to create an edible garden that was easily moved and out of paw’s reach.

Inspired by the Little Veggie Patch Co, but not wanting the weight of an apple crate, Simon thought about other designs using recycled pallets. I’ve seen some great vertical gardens but we needed the safety of height from which to raise our future harvest. We also decided to keep the garden at our new office, where everyone can enjoy a bit of dirt under their nails.

With leftover trestle legs from a desk project and some free pallets from an auto parts dealer, our veggie rack was up and ready in about 15 minutes. One pallet formed the main frame, with a second being used for parts. We added strips spaced to support the 8 large pots and can probably fit 16 smaller pots along the edges. The rest of the afternoon was taken up by a trip to the nursery for potting mix and plants.

Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening Veggie Rack - small space gardening
Veggie Rack - small space gardening

29Aug

Side Cart Studio

There is only so much two people can do in two weeks. When it comes to fitting out an entire office, it turns out you need either more time, more people, or more money. We had none of those, and so the fancy cement box didn’t become our new office. The numbers weren’t kind, so we kept looking.

With time running out before we were to leave on our long-awaited ‘honeymoon’, I noticed an ad for a small warehouse-style space not far from home. Of course, one lousy photo of the front of the building was all the agent thought necessary to attract interest and was all I had to go by. From the street, natural light looked unlikely, given the thin row of windows at the front. I don’t know what possessed me to drive past, but I did. I peeked through the mail slot, and saw (to my delight) windows down the left wall, which opened to a space down the side of the building. There was some evidence of renovations inside, so I called the agent and made a time to see it properly.

Long story short, we got it and moved in the day after returning from our trip. It had a few things going for that the last one didn’t – lights, power points and water – making the transition realistic within our timeframe. It’s nowhere near what we want it to be, but it’s a starting point and we have SO MANY plans. It’s still a concrete box, with echoes and a cold floor but just step inside and it feels right.

Piece by piece, we’ve started filling the space – a homemade board table, As-Is chairs, some call-in-a-favour workstations – a far cry from the fit-out projects Simon’s clients spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on. At least people can work, while the creature comforts slowly make their way into Hope Street. Banjo approves of his new work space, although he’s yet to front up with his rent. Got to keep an eye on that guy.

Side Cart Studio Side Cart Studio Side Cart Studio
Side Cart Studio Side Cart Studio
Side Cart Studio Side Cart Studio
Side Cart Studio
Side Cart Studio

18Aug

13Jul

Real Estate Agents. If there were more good ones, I think the property crisis might have been averted. Having moved house three times in the last 2 years, I’ve spent more time than I care to think about leaving voicemails for them, only to have a few calls ever returned. We’ve sorted the residential stuff for the time being but now it’s the commercial ones we have to deal with.

For the first 6 months of Simon’s company’s existence, we were in the lounge room. Just the two of us, working away through lunch and dinner until we realised we were sitting in the dark. Our first employee came onto the books and we shifted to a shared office nearby. Month-by-month, no major commitment – just the three of us in our little corner of a much large space. We’ve been there 6 months and Employee #2 started last week. Just the four of us, in a room that’s cosy for half that.

We were considering taking another desk space and then, somewhat serendipitously, the landlord says he’s leasing the whole building to a new tenant and we’ve a month to leave. Inconvenient as we’ll be away for a fortnight soon, giving us 3 weeks to find a new office and move. I’m dealing with Real Estate Agents again, and they wear me out. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re not actually interested renting out a property. Of the many we’ve called and the few we’ve seen, here’s what we’re currently looking at:

sydneyrd-office
At the base of a new apartment building, on a main road but facing a decent courtyard and even a little lawn, sits a concrete box. No lights, but there’s a big window. No power points, but there’s some fun wires running about. It’s what those in the biz call a Cold Shell, but some paint and flooring will cozy it up in no time. A blank slate is exciting, but it’s not ours yet. First up, budgeting and planning and spreadsheeting and Pinteresting.

Bring it on.

01Jul

Winter in Melbourne
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I follow 150+ blogs and previously used Google Reader to keep myself up to date. With Google Reader closing down today, I’m shifting all my blog subscriptions over to Bloglovin and listing my own blogs over there so you can follow along if you choose!

I’m also hoping to get back to blogging a bit more over winter. With my last wedding for the season this Saturday, weekends will be available again for adventures and we have some doozies booked in already! In a month and a day, we’ll be headed west for a 10 day road trip from Perth to Darwin. 4,500km of bitumen, letterbox hunting and hot chips.

What are you up to this winter?

Winter in Melbourne

I’m sure there is plenty more impressive than my frozen weeds but these are just one of the signs that winter has well and truly arrived.

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