#1 Complete a fun run of 10 kilometers or more…

On Sunday August 30th I completed the Bridge to Brisbane 10 km fun run!

This is Brisbane’s largest annual fun run and was my first 10 km fun run – I usually go along to a few 5 km ones such as the Neon Run.

Every year the run falls on a week where we get a sudden heat wave and this year was no different. It was between 30 and 35 degrees all week long. We were also forecast a storm for Sunday morning and the ominous heavy rain and grey skies on Saturday didn’t fill me with confidence.

However, Sunday morning dawned (yes it was a super early start) and it was dry but overcast – hooray for cloud cover!

Mark was also running with his workmates and we were both signed up for the jogging category so headed over together, bleary eyed and a bit nervous.

The run starts on the southern side of the Gateway Bridge, which is really very steep for a bridge! The first kilometer is a solid uphill grind. You’ve walked about 2 km by the time you get to the start time so you’re pretty well warmed up though.

Coming down the other side of the bridge was certainly more fun than going up it!

Unfortunately about 3.6 km my left knee went out (it has a nasty habit of doing this). I then walked for about a kilometer, which really slowed me down. After that I got my jog on again though and slogged away pretty well.

The route follows Coronation Drive, which runs along the Brisbane River and has great views of the CBD. If you’re ever arriving in Brisbane for the first time, I would really advise you to take the route into town via Coro Drive rather than via the tunnel, it’s nice day or night.

There were some great supporters out cheering for people and a few bands to motivate people along the way. There were also a load of Vegan protesters too, which seemed slightly odd… and made me want a bacon sandwich!

It was pretty cool running along the Inner City Bypass, which is usually only open to vehicles, as you get cool views coming into town. Although the uphill incline around the 6.6 km mark wasn’t going down well with anyone!

At 8.2 km I saw my first person vomiting, which made me feel infinitely better about how I was doing and all my sore bits!

The run finishes up at the Brisbane RNA Showgrounds, where you get given a t-shirt and refreshments. I chowed down on some oranges and went to find the rather speedier-than-me-with-his-giant-person-legs Mark.

It took me 1 hour and 18 minutes to complete, which was under my self-imposed cut-off of 1 hour and 20 minutes… just. But I’m happy with that! Originally I had hoped to get in a few months of training and get in around the 1 hour and 5 minute mark; however, I hadn’t been out for a jog in over 6 weeks by the time it came round, so all in all a pretty decent attempt.

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#2 Learn to make Jam or Pickle

I love condiments, in fact that is an understatement I LOVE condiments.

Most of my fridge is filled with condiments… it’s a problem when I actually need to fit the proper food to accompany all the condiments in there…

I have memories when I was a child of checking out all the old preserving jars on the shelves down in the cellar. We had loads of them, although I don’t remember anyone actually making preserves…

Last weekend I went on a home preserving workshop run by the wonderful Valerie of Green Living.

The course runs through the basics of making jams, pickles, fermented foods and preserving low acid foods like most vegetables.

We started off with jams and made two. The first was a Papaya, ginger and lime jam, the second was a strawberry jam.

The papaya jam was made following a standard recipe. Most jams require a ratio of 1 kg fruit to 1 kg sugar – that’s a whole lot of sugar!

The strawberry jam used a special type of pectin that is calcium activated and therefore allows you to reduce the sugar content by 50%, which I think is great.

You cook the fruit with a small amount of acid (lemon or lime juice) and then add in the sugar and pectin. You can really feel the mixture thickening up in the pan.

Once the jam has reached the correct consistency it’s ladled into hot jars (so they don’t crack) and sealed.

Essentially you have now made jam – hooray!

However, crucially you have not made a preserve.

Jam!

Jam!

If you were stop at this stage you would have tasty jam, but you would need to eat it within the next few days, as it will go off.

To preserve the jam, so that it will last in your pantry for a long time before opening you need to essentially re-cook them.

You place the jars in a large pan of boiling water, ensuring their sat off the bottom of the pan (using something akin to a cake cooling rack).

It is important that the jars are totally submerged in order to ensure that they heat all the way through.

Whilst they are in the water you cans see little bubbles of air escaping from the jam jars

After 10 minutes they can be removed and set aside to cool.

On cooling you hear little “pop” “pop” noises, as the jars lids are all suctioned in by the cooling vacuum between the jam surface and the lid.

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We enjoyed sampling the jams with fresh scones and crackers, they were so tasty and flavorsome.

We then made some more “savoury” preserves – a Shiraz jelly (yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum) and an apple, onion and sultana chutney.

The difference between a jam and jelly is that the jelly is made using only the juice of the fruit – or in this case, wine.

The process is then the same as for jams.

Apple chutney on the way...

Apple chutney on the way…

The Shiraz jelly was amazing. I will definitely be trying this again. I reckon port or mulled wine jelly will be featuring at Christmas this year.

We sampled the jelly and chutney with crackers and super tasty Jarlsberg cheese, made at one of the centers cheese making workshops.

We then made Kim-chi, which is  a traditionally fermented cabbage product from South Korea. To ferment the cabbage you fill the jar with chopped veg, cover it with “bacteria water” – sounds super tasty right! Then you seal it up and leave it to do its business. You need to open the jar everyday to release the build up of gas, but after about 1 week you will have Kim-chi. As I’m only home at the weekends I have to put mine in the fridge at home during the week. This slows down the process, so it will take several weeks before I get my tasty veg just right.

Kimchi... or smelly veg in a jar

Kim-chi… or smelly veg in a jar

Valerie also explained how to preserve low acid foods, which are mainly vegetables. This was quite scary actually! Botulism aka the most toxic substance on earth (which people inject into their faces as Botox) can grow in low acid foods if not preserved properly. It kills and there is no cure… So this is something you don’t want to get wrong.

To ensure that your food is preserved correctly you have to place your veg in jars filled with demineralised water. They they go into a huge pressure cooker. They then have to be cooked for the correct duration to ensure that the entire jar is heated to over 116 degrees for a set period of time – due to the risks involved these cookers come with guides that specify the necessary pressure and times for different food types in different sized jars.

Overall this just made me nervous. As I live in a place where I can get good quality fresh fruit and veg year round and also have enough room in my freezer I don’t think I will be doing much low-acid preserving any time soon.

I left with a bit of a goody bag full of jar lids and mega useful jar tong (so I don’t burn my sensitive little fingers on the hot jars).

Later that day at home I heard the tops of my jars making the “popping” noises of the lid being sucked in as the vacuum formed as they cooled.

For breakfast on Sunday I enjoyed tasty jam on toast. I then took the strawberry jam to a baby shower, where it was enjoyed on fresh scones, home-made by the lovely Ruth.

Tasty Papaya jam on toast

Tasty Papaya jam on toast

I really enjoyed the day, it flew by. I can’t wait to make more jams and pickles at home.

I would definitely recommend the courses at Green Living and fully intend to go along to their cheese making course next month!

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#3 Visit a new place in Australia & #10 Skydive

Warning… this is quite a mammoth post – This may require sustenance to complete and if you get to the end then pat yourself on the back! At least there’s lots of photos!

 #3 Visit a new place in Australia

To say that I have called Australia for what’s coming up to be half a decade and is now my chosen country of permanent residency I have unfortunately not seen very much of it!

That is if you don’t count all the work sites I’ve visited… Which generally aren’t tourist hot spots given that someone is planning to either develop them, something has fallen down, or it’s a coal mine.

A spot of winter sun is always a good idea and this year we decided that whilst both of us are working FIFO up north it would be a good time to head over to the coast.

Moranbah, where I am currently working, is about a 2 hour drive inland from the coastal town of Mackay. A further hour or so north you have Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands.

The Whitsunday’s are really beautiful and famous for the beaches. We took a 2 night, 3 day boat trip on the ‘Summertime’, a historical converted cray-fish boat. We had a “double cabin” which might be a bit of a stretch, neither of us are exactly petite so it made for a few fairly snuggly nights.

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It also happened to be Airlie Race week, so as we left the harbour we were surrounded by hundreds of yachts, which was pretty cool. It was a pretty windy day too, so good for sailing, but a bit chilly!

snorkel - coral 1About 30 minutes out we saw our first turtle, just hanging out getting some air and checking out the race! This was super exciting as I’d never seen a turtle in the wild before!

We headed over to the first snorkeling location, at the western Hook Island Reef, where we sat and watched 2 whales for a while before jumping in the water. We saw another turtle, I was actually swimming about half a meter away from it, amazing! There were lots of awesome fish and coral, including French fish who always swim in pairs and the most enormous Wrasse.

Mark also tried scuba diving for the first time, check out this bond like action shot…

Dive 2

We then sailed over to the strait OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbetween Hook Island and Whitsunday Island for the night, watching another whale with her calf along the coast.

 

After a great BBQ dinner and a dip on the on-board hot tub (yes really!) we set about working out the rope game…. Trying to untangle yourself from two twisted ropes, which looks simple, but is utterly frustrating…. Much hilarity ensued…

Rope challenge

The next day we set sail early and the motion of the boat woke me up. Feeling nauseous I ventured upstairs to watch the beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise Day 2

The morning of Day 2 was spent over at Whitehaven Beach, which is simply stunning.

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We were the second group there, so it was really quiet and empty. It’s a really beautiful place. We wandered around, looking for wildlife, watching the plovers and taking pictures.

We got some good shots with a group photo…

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And went for a dip in some Vegemite…

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The water was crystal clear.

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The afternoon was spent with more snorkelling & diving out at the spot where the famous Lara Bingle advert was shot – Langford-Bird Reef.

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snorkel2 - sea starThis reef had a better range of fish, including really funky long pointy ones that swam around me in little shoals. I wasn’t lucky enough to spot another turtle though. Did you know star fish are now officially called Sea Stars?

After another great BBQ dinner we watched an amazing sunset, we also saw a dolphin and a shark hanging around the boat… They obviously smelt our tasty dinner!

Sunset Day 2

The stars out there were beautiful; you get a real sense of the depth and distance. It’s also great seeing the Milky Way. I still can’t get used to the Southern Hemisphere stars though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADay 3 started out with a spot of kayaking over to the eastern Hook Reef Beach, where we were surrounded by pretty blue butterflies and the rock formations looked like rolling barrel waves.

That night we all caught up for dinner in town and watched the Rugby.

The next day was fairly quiet; we slept in and then went exploring over at Midge Point, where we had the beach entirely to ourselves.

The evening was topped off with an amazing Italian dinner, the best Cannoli I’ve had in a ong time and a Tiramisu Martini.

#10 Skydive

Whilst in Airlie I also managed to tick off item No.10, by going Skydiving over the islands – after all I’m unlikely to find such a  beautiful spot to do it in Australia again between now and December. I had originally hoped to do my skydive over Queenstown back in March; however, it can mess with your ears and given that I have moody ears at the best of times I didn’t want to end up deaf for the wedding we had gone for.

I jumped at Skydive Airlie Beach, located just outside of town. I opted for the 14,000 feet jump so I got the full minute worth of free-fall.

My instructor was called Toby and was so relaxed he really put me at ease. They get you all suited up, run through the safety briefing and you go and jump in the plane.

The view on the way up, circling over Airlie Beach and over the coast is beautiful, looking out across to the islands on the one side and the rain-forest on the other.

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Out of the 3 of us in the plane I was the first to jump. Once the door was opened we lent out to check we were in the right spot, and then it was time to swing out of the door – the only moment when pure, blind panic set in!

Robyn Shaw 0041A few seconds later I was flying through the air!

It’s quite an incredible feeling, you spin around quite fast when you first come out of the airplane, but quickly settle into position.

 

The views are just amazing and the minute of free fall felt like quite a lot longer. I was too distracted by the views to pull any cool poses for the camera…

So you’ll have to make do with my grinning like an idiot in them all!

Once the parachute opens it becomes very gentle and calm, until you turn! It’s pretty awesome having a go at steering and I got to swing around a few steep turns on the way down to the landing pad.

Robyn Shaw 0068I landed down by the beach in Airlie, so had great views the full way down.
The landing was the bit I was most nervous about, but it was a just a gentle bump.

Mark had also come over in the support crew bus to meet me at the bottom.

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Woo hoo I survived…

Robyn Shaw 0121Again again…

Robyn Shaw 0130I always think of myself as being quite reserved and boring but after going skydiving, bungee jumping, white water rafting, ice climbing a volcano and bunch of other stuff I might revise my opinion to mildly adventurous…

Robyn Shaw 0138Now what’s next…

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#6 Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

When I was around 10 years old I saw a hot air balloon setting off from the local park, Ecclesall Park, in Sheffield. I thought it looked so glamorous and like the sort of thing that only super fancy rich people got to do…

Well today I joined the ranks of my childhood fancy rich-type people and went on a hot air balloon ride!

This post is mainly photographs of the morning, which was astoundingly beautiful, interspersed with ballooning facts about the day. If you’re tempted to try it, it’s worth every cent!

Esther joined me on a crisp, clear morning. The tour bus picked us up at 4:35am… yes we chose to get up at that time of our own volition.

We then drove down to Sandy Creek, at the Gold Coast Scenic Rim,where the balloons were waiting. We left in the dark and as we arrived the sun was just starting to come up, it was as if the world was changing from black and white to colour.

As we drove up to the launch site the last balloon was just rising majestically into the air.

IMG_2620We flew with “Hot Air” the largest hot air ballooning company in the world. These balloons are referred to as “450’s”, which means that when full they contain 450,000 cubic feet of gas. The gas burns at over 100 degrees.

IMG_2626We all clambered into the baskets of our balloons and practiced our landing positions, which was basically a group spooning session…. when you come in to land the basket can tip over on it’s side, so you have to practice ‘bracing’.

IMG_2629The basket is split into 5 parts, a central area were the pilot stands (and wear a seat belt!!) and then four other sections in which 6 passengers stood. It was pretty cosy!

Our pilot Paco filled up the balloon with gas. When the burners are on it’s really hot, which was much appreciated on such a cold day!

IMG_2633 We gassed up the balloon and were ready to go. We were the second balloon to take off. The first balloon took off just as the sun was coming up.

IMG_2639It was beautiful watching the mist rising up from the fields, the sky turning pink, orange and yellow until it became a clear, bright blue.

IMG_2640Because we were the middle of the 3 balloons we had a great view of the ones either side, with the mountains and sunrise behind them.

IMG_2644The ‘balloon’ section of a hot air balloon is actually called the ‘envelope’ and it’s made out of the same fabric as parachutes. The weight of the baskets is distributed through the straps that runs down the sides of the balloons.

IMG_2648I love the water rising from the lake.

The pilot changes the height of the balloon using the burner, this allows them to control the speed as the wind will be different at different levels.

We were flying on an extremely clear and still day, so we had a lovely calm journey, although we didn’t travel a huge distance.

IMG_2653We could see all the way over to Brisbane city and the Gold Coast, with the tall, angular city buildings just visible on the skyline (not really visible in any of photos though).

IMG_2654Balloon pilots have to be licensed, in the same way as airline pilots. The balloons all have to be registered with the civil aviation authority.

Australia is the world No. 2 location for hot air ballooning, with an average 320 ‘flyable’ days per year! Although they can still only fit one flight in per day before it get’s too hot. The world No. 1 location for ballooning is actually Turkey!

IMG_2656The colours of the ground because brilliant oranges and reds, contrasting against the yellow and blue skies.

IMG_2657Soon it was time for the balloons to descend and we headed down into a nearby field. As we came in to land we came right over the top of the trees and landed, with only a small bounce, in a farmer’s field.

IMG_2667The support vehicle met us in the field and they attached the balloon to the truck. We all adopted the ‘brace’ position and they used the truck to pull the balloon down to the ground. The pilot drew the top of the balloon in, so that the gas would escape and the balloon empties.

IMG_2674All the passengers then helped to roll up the balloon and stash it away in a big blue bag, which was then loaded onto a trailer with the basket. We all hopped onto the sides of the trailers and headed across the field back to the bus.

IMG_2684We then headed over to O’Reily’s vineyard for a champagne breakfast. I was so stuffed by the end! We also fitted in a spot of wine tasting and ended up coming home with a bottle of verdelho and a bottle of port :-).

IMG_2687After getting home I spent the rest of the day running errands before heading for a spot of retail therapy. H&M opened in Queensland earlier this year and after years of missing it from the UK I was excited to check it out. Shockingly, I thought it was terrible and don’t reckon I’ll bother going back any time soon… And now I know I’m really getting old 🙂

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August Inspirations

Why hello there August…. I appear to be super mega organised this month so am starting out having written this up at the start of the month, rather than needing to play catch-up as I usually do!

Quote of the month

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver, taken from “The Summer Day”

 Life is precious and oh so very short. As my 30th year enters its autumn I am beginning to think about what’s next… Too soon? Well I am a professional planner after all!

I’ve spent much of the last year working away from home, doing something really quite different form my “day job” and I won’t lie when I say that the job is challenging, but in a good way. I am therefore struggling to determine which path to take. Working away from home is becoming tiresome and the incentives of the short-term gain don’t balance out over the long-term.

Therefore, I am spending August investing in identifying the key areas that I get professional fulfilment in and identifying what I might like to do that involves these aspects, but also allows me the work-life balance and personal fulfilment that is so difficult when one is so absent.

Recipe of the month

This month I made a super quick and super delicious Chocolate Tart.

I actually couldn’t believe how quick this was to make – although to be honest I also made this after an afternoon of drinking cocktails in the sun, so time may have been operating at an apparently different scale to usual…

But this point also illustrates just how simple this recipe is!

The base is essential processed nuts with a bit of honey. My oven is quite powerful and I left it in ever so slightly too long (12 minutes, maybe should have been 10).

The instructions say to leave the shell to cool completely before filling. I had initially thought this would require leaving for several hours, but it actually cooled down extremely quickly… when a girl wants post-cocktail chocolate tart she doesn’t want to wait!

The filling is extremely simple to make too, just mix it all up and pour it on it.

Initially I had a tad concerned that my shell wasn’t high enough on the sides, but it worked out fine.

The filling has cinnamon to add a slightly spiced flavour. However, I wasn’t too keen on this actually.

This definitely went down a treat – after several slices each and several more saved in the freezer for another time I was a winner. It went really well with both strawberries and also with coffee ice cream.

The pecan shell/crust is lovely and slightly crumbly, providing a great textural contrast. I am a big lover of pastry but would really recommend using this for other tarts too.

I would say that it needs to be refrigerated for long enough as the consistency improves a lot. I thought it was best after being left overnight. IMG_2603I am going to make this again for sure. Next time I won’t cook the shell for as long as I won’t include the cinnamon. I’d like to try a chilli version and also a version where the filling is cooked with orange rind for a Terry’s chocolate orange flavour, with some candied orange peel on the top.

I also loved the simplicity of the nut shell, as opposed to using pastry. I reckon this would work really well with cashews for a lemon tart, or even trying a mix of nuts, adding a few Pistachios would work well.

I have a feeling another version of this will be appearing before the end of the year!

This month I am thankful for…

It is now the depth of winter in Queensland and it’s been getting down to zero, which in this kind of climate is slightly soul-destroying.

Between the months of June to August I live in big woolly socks and snuggled up under blankets– usually homemade ones. I do like making funky looking socks (although 2nd sock syndrome is a very real thing) and I find making blankets very cathartic – even if they do end up giving you repetitive strain injury!

Therefore, this month I am thankful to both my mother and my grandmother for passing down their expansive knowledge of traditional crafts to me.

I was never particularly into making socks myself until one Christmas I went home and mum was going through a manic sock making phase, I think this must have been about 2007 and I decided to get stuck in.IMG_2607

Over the years having the knowledge from half a century’s worth of knitting at the end of the phone was an invaluable resource and I still go to automatically ask mum when I need help, even though she’s been gone for 3 years already, it’s like a reflex.

Knitting, crocheting and sewing are my favourite hobbies and the ones that have stayed with me from childhood. I really wish I’d pursued something in this area more seriously, but maybe that would have taken away from my enjoyment of it. However, traditional crafts are the one area of my life that I’ve maintained  solid level of passion and interest in for my entire life.

I have very clear memories of sitting in front of my grandma’s fireplace being shown how to set out quilt blocks and how to choose what you need for knitting patterns.

I remember before my sister was born deciding to make an overly ambitious outfit for her and the number of times I had to get mum to pick up the errors sat on the couch in our old front room. It always seemed so clever how she would work it out and fix it.

Nowadays I’m lucky to have been doing this for over 20 years and would say I’m pretty advanced. I’m actually hoping to publish a couple of patterns I’ve been working on over the next few months or so, so watch this space!

 

 

 

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#4 See a new musical act/group live

2015 has been a great year to date for seeing live music. I saw the year in under the sweltering Byron sun at The Falls Festival.

Favourites included seeing The Kite String Tangle (again… 4th time in a year, but keen I know!), Kim Churchill and Spiderbait.

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It was unbelievably hot and we had to escape the fiery campgrounds out to the beach to cool down in the mornings. 290

This was closely followed by the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival at the end of January. Where TK Maizda was a revelation.

I had wanted to go to see Royal Blood – who killed it despite a tropical hail storm setting in mid-set! We stuck it out though and it was so worth it.

Banks and Flight Facilities wrapped up the night. Flight Facilities are just truly brilliant live, I loved them, even though we were almost catatonic from fatigue we propped each up and stayed until the end… and again it was so worth it. I would happily go and see them over and over again.

I also managed to get out to a few concerts too, in particular seeing Kasabian and then London Grammar again at the Brisbane Riverstage back in March. I think the LG singer’s voice is a bit like Annie Lennox’s. Something about it reaches into your soul, spine tingling. Kasabian

Splendour in the Grass is the annual “big one” though, it probably the most equivalent Australian festival to Glastonbury. It’s a 3 day (5 with camping) festival also held down at the Byron Parklands.

This year it had rained solidly for several days prior and so we were expecting mud… gum boots at the ready… at least it was more similar to the UK festivals I’m used too!

Whilst driving down the rain was so heavy we couldn’t see through the windscreen properly, which was ominous. However, we were extremely lucky once we arrived. We set up camp during mild drizzle and missed all the big downpours! We also got a pretty good camping spot way-away from the actual festival grounds. This might not sound great initially; however, overall was a huge win. It meant we had a fairly clean and non-muddy camp area without any through-traffic and generally OK toilets!294

Thursday afternoon was mainly spent hanging out with the neighbours and checking out the main site and stalls. I love the random art around the site, like this giant inflatable bouncy castle of Nicolas Cage in a Cage!304

 Or this psychedelic foam landscape inside a greenhouse!303

Friday was a pretty cruisy day, after an awesome fancy camp breakfast we checked out Tired Lion – Triple J Unearthed winners, opening at the Amphitheatre and the only time we got to sit down in the sun on the grass and chill out.

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I also had a wander around the craft tent, but had unfortunately missed the community quilt session…

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Harts – crazy that this band is only 2 guys, you would think it was a 4-5 piece group from the sound – I definitely want to see these guys live again.

A bit of George Maple, who was just brilliant, followed by Japanese Wallpaper.

I then headed over to Dustin Tebutt, who also featured Eves the Behaviour, who was fairly chilled out and continued the general vibe of the day.

In the evening I caught the end of No.1 Dad’s last ever set, The Rubens (awesome), Death Cab for Cutie (definitely not appreciated enough by the audience given how infrequently they tour).

Peking Duck were fairy mental, the crowd was as insane as the 8 inch-thick mud. Halfway through their set the heavens opened… It was a shame in a way that so much of their set was other people’s music and not their own and so although it was fun, I wasn’t hugely impressed.

We decided to skip Mark Ronson (open air amphitheatre) and go and eat… Where we randomly met a guy who works with a former colleague – small world. It was then time to head off to bed like old timers. 311

Saturday started out with a huge downpour, but quickly brightened up into the sunniest day of the festival.

My day kicked off with Eves the Behaviour, who knocked it out of the park. That girl was an amazing voice, she’s just brilliant. I would honestly say the unexpected highlight of the entire festival!

As it was such a lovely day it was perfect weather to hang out at the “Amish Bar” watching hipsters pretend to be Amish, drinking cider and being offered carrot snacks….312

I did have a carrot – gotta get some vitamins in there whilst you can… but also enjoyed this giant double smoked bratwurst! I love all the food stands at festivals and this year had some pretty wicked options.315

Art of Sleeping, Safia and Meg Mac followed – all of which were great. I am a huge fan of Meg Mac her cover of Bill Withers “Grandma’s Hands” was my favourite song of last year. I enjoyed being able to watch from the vantage point of a giant pirate ship bar overlooking the stage too!333

Purity Ring was one of the groups I was most excited to see, but was my biggest disappointment. They had a stunningly beautiful stage set with streams of hanging lights and ethereal globe-like drums. However, this couldn’t mask the bad sound balancing. The singer’s vocals were barely audible and just lost, which was a real shame as she has a lovely voice. I’d be keen to see them again, but maybe in an in-door environment.

I’d never really heard of Best Coast before but checked them out early evening as the sun was going down. Thy were good, but as I didn’t know any of their music they did sound a bit “samey” after a while.

They were followed by Boy and Bear, who I saw the first half of and were really good.

I ended up missing Flight Facilities due to wine drinking, but as I had seen them earlier in the year at Laneway I wasn’t too disappointed.

Florence and the Machine headlined the Amphitheatre on the Saturday and the crowd was insane. The combination of a really badly manned one way system, a mud-rink amphitheatre and almost everyone at the festival heading over there it was actually a bit scary. I get a bit claustrophobic and panicky when I’m surrounded by crowds, it stressed me out. That being said we ended up with a clear view of the stage, so it worked out OK.

Florence was absolutely crazy insane brilliant. Her energy on stage was incredible and her voice is so clear it’s unbelievable. She’s really one of the voices of our age.

I loved seeing her but was happy to call it a night afterwards and fall into bed… when I eventually managed to get my suctioned-on gumboots off! 330

Sunday was our anniversary – I cannot believe a year has gone by already! Time flies and all that jazz… We actually wanted to see most of the same bands and so had a lovely day roaming around together, checking out bands and chatting to random people over tasty food and wine.

We started the day with the Delta Riggs & Wolf Alice. Bands that were on early I the day in the amphitheatre but ultimately would have been better suited to after-dark tent time-slots, but I know they have to play in the hierarchy of fame order…

Last dinosaurs were a new band for me and I enjoyed them a lot, I’ll have to check out more of their music.

We spent most of the afternoon chilling out at the Moet and Chandon Wine bar, which has great views overlooking the festival site. It’s just a nice spot to kick back and meet people.

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MSMR was another group that was high of my list of people to see and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. The lead singer has totally wicked fire-engine red hair, like I would love to have, but am too shared to go for.

Royal Blood got through their set without a storm setting in this time! But again were in the amphitheatre but would have been better later on in a tent I reckon.

Alison Wonderland was a bit disappointing. The crowd were going mad for it, but it just seemed like she pressed play and then didn’t do very much… Even just wandering around on stage… I missed her at The Falls in January when they said she was one of the stand out acts, so I had quite high hopes, but it just wasn’t to be.

We left Alison Wonderland early and headed back to the Amphitheatre catching the end of Tame Impala, who I am not a fan of, but thought were good.

Blur were the Sunday headliners and I am going to make a shocking statement here and say they were a massive huge shocking disappointment. They started out very low tempo and just didn’t seem to get going for ages, it was just dragging on. It was cold, the venue was half empty and the sound quality just wasn’t that great. Blue were one of the biggest bands of my youth and I was so excited to hear them play Park Life, but it was not to be. They were so Blah that we gave up and went to bed instead… It was a pretty low moment, especially as this had been the second festival I had tried to see them at – the first was Big Day Out 2014 which they pulled out of.

 I slept like an absolute dream every night we were away, which is surprising given how light a sleeper I usually am. I won’t lie, I was worried about camping in the dead of winter. Our combination of huge 4WD camp mat, Queen airbed, fleece rug, full bedding and thermals made for a pretty toasty tent though.

There was also a minor panic moment when it appeared we had sprung a leak – but it all worked out ok and we stayed nice and dry.

 On Monday we awoke to clear blue skies and generally took our time chilling out and packing up. People seem in such a hurry to go and sit in their cars for hours queuing! Why not sit it out at the camp site and then get in the car one it’s all moving…

After a half-hearted attempt at unpacking it was time for TV, a curry and then bedtime…

Now back to the real world I go – for a few weeks at least!

 

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July Inspirations

Another one bites the dust – where is 2015 going… anyone…?

July has been great so far and it’s set to get even better – as I’m about to head out to see the month out at the Splendour in the Grass music festival down at Byron Bay. And yes, yes it is raining, I know… And yes we are camping… Yes I already said I know that it’s raining ok… Oh and it’s the middle of winter and we’re in the middle of an antarctic cold snap…

Quote of the Month

“If you think your life is about DOINGNESS, you do not understand what you are about. Your soul doesn’t care what you do for a living and when your life is over, neither will you. Your soul cares only about what you’re BEING while you’re doing whatever you’re doing. It is a state of BEINGNESS the soul is after, not a state of doingness.”

Neale Donald Walsh

I think it is interesting to consider. As an individual seeking to maximize the potential of my year by DOING things I can honestly say that I am a firm believer in doing… The things you do define your choices, actions speak louder than words after all. It is also the doing that helps us to define our being…

That being said (see what I did there!) it’s good to step back and just be, just be yourself, let your gut lead you, based on your primal gut feelings of what’s best for you and those around.

It;s also good to just stop and observe the world around you and examine how you feel that you fit into it. Is this how you want to be? For me the purpose of the last few years has been to ensure that I get what I want from my life from a purely personally perspective, regardless of career, as society so largely defines us by. I have been achieving my sense of “beingness” pretty successfully of late, although recognize that it takes effort and practice and is an on-going journey… how about you?

Recipe(s) of the Month

June’s recipe – blueberry, almond pancakes.

This month I am yet again catching up with writing up June’s cooking too.

I made the most wonderful dreamy blueberry and almond pancakes – they’re to die for!

I’ve made them more than once and also tried them with raspberrys and nutella in them – Om Nom Nom Nom Nom… Who ate all the pancakes – I did!

We enjoyed them so much Mark is whipping up another batch as I type this for us to take camping this weekend.

Recipe can be found here… I didn’t use almond milk, as the supermarket had sold out, I used rice milk instead.

pancakes

July Recipe(s)

So July has been a good old month for cooking – I think it’s the cold making you want to hunker on down and make delicious treats…

With that in mind I decided to make a tasty cheese and chive “tear and share” bread. Everyone seems to be going on about tear and share breads these days – they seem to now be a thing. Honestly this isn’t something that requires a recipe – just buy a nice loaf from the bakery, cut a grid into it and stuff it full of whatever you fancy. I used mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, garlic and a bit of Parmesan cheese.

I then baked it in the oven until the cheese was hot and gooey. I don’t remember making the plate – I essentially just ate bits of it off the baking tray… It lasted a few days and reheated well too… If you want to see how stunning it looked when it pulled it out of the oven check out my instagram @rockyrobyn84.

imageI also decided that I was craving full on comfort food but didn’t want to go too heavy on the pasta etc. So with my old faithful lasagne out of the window I decided to try making eggplant parmigiana.

This took a fair amount of prep time (read hours…) but was definitely worth the pay off!

imageI used a recipe from Food52, a website where you can lose days of your time – you have been warned!This was so tasty and comforting – like a hug for the stomach!I was so enamored by it that I even flew a portion of it up to site for Mark to try, so that he didn’t miss out! I am definitely adding this to the list of winter favourites.The photo looks like a dogs dinner – but don’t let it fool you! It’s pure deliciousness!image

I finished this off by making something sweet… in fact I have done other baking too, but frankly this is getting excessive so am only mentioning the 3 ingredient Nutella brownies I made…

Crazy simple and oh so tasty. They have a great consistency and are actually improved by freezing and defrosting – they get more fudgy. I did use a far smaller and deeper pan than the recipe called for though, otherwise they would have turned out extremely thin…

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This month I am thankful for…

Mark!

Need I say more…

I love you, thank you for an amazing year. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

mandm

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