Friday, 29 November 2013

Thinking Thankful

Source: Pinterest

Happy Thanksgiving to my lovely American and Canadian readers. I often wish the English had a celebration like Thanksgiving - big holidays = a good excuse for nice, over the top food. However, it shouldn't just be one day we reflect on the things we are thankful for.

Being so far away from home has allowed me to reflect a lot on my life and the things I want to do. As it is Thanksgiving, I thought why not do a special post - the things I am thankful for everyday.

1. My Parents - I have always had a good relationship with my mum and dad; being an only child has made me very close to them. They support me everyday, through everything, no matter how big or small. My mum has a brilliant sense of humour and, despite her sarcasm, she is very comforting and the first person I go to when I have a problem. My dad and I are very similar in personality which unfortunately means we clash quite a lot but we still get on like a house on fire. My dad gives brilliant advice and bluntly knows how to do so - which, for me, is a good thing. I love the days we get to spend together, whether it's going shopping or just sitting together watching tv. My parents and I have a lot of fun and I am ridiculously grateful that we have this kind of relationship. Without them I would be a lost soul. They always know what to say, they always have my best interests at heart and they are so strong as a couple. I couldn't possibly emphasise how much I appreciate or admire them.

2. My Grandma and Grandad - my mums mum and dads dad. Two of my favourite people in the world and the two I look up to. My grandma is the most caring woman I've ever met; she loves me unconditionally and is always so pleased to hear from me. She has a crazy amount of friends and I hope I have her social life at that age (she's probably more sociable now than I am!). My grandad is my idol and means so much to me. He has so many stories that I could hear over and over again (mostly due to his forgetfulness now!) He has had such an interesting life and I love hearing about it. He makes me feel safe and happy - whether it's from mocking my Nana or trying to cheer me up when I've had a rubbish day. They are both brilliant people and very switched on for their ages.

3. My Friends - I've realised since I've been away how lucky I am to have my small handful of close, reliable friends. It's true that, with age, you realise who your friends are; the ones that keep in touch, help you make decisions and brighten your day with a little text. I probably have 6 or 7 people I can best friends and their friendship means the world to me.

4. My Degree - not just for 'that bit of paper' as my Nana calls it but for the experience and the friends I made along the way. I had my bad times but I had a hell of a lot of bloody good times. I miss my time in Sheffield dearly and hope to return one day. My degree is something I am very proud of and I still can't believe I have been a graduate for over a year now!

5. My Health - as I'm getting older, I realise more and more how important having your health is. The amount of people that have said to me 'oh I wish I had done that while I was young' is astonishing and really makes me feel fortunate to have youth and good health on my side. I'm going to make even more of a conscious effort to look after myself while I am still in Australia.

6. My Life Experiences - I have had a very, very fortunate lifestyle. My parents have taken me to some fabulous places (Brazil, Kenya, Israel, Borneo, The Carribbean...the list goes on) and I am so happy I have been able to have those experiences. I'm also thankful for the day to say experiences I have been through, even the bad ones. While the good ones have been fantastic, the bad experiences have taught me a lot about myself and rather than seeing them as 'bad' or with regret, I've been trying for a while now to see them as learning curves. If it wasn't for these types of experiences, I might not have taken the leap of booking my one way ticket to the other side of the world.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


I have recently realised that without organisation, I seem to completely crumble. I got lost in both Typo and Kikki K, two beautiful shops in melbourne - also making me realise I have a borderline unhealthy love for stationary. That said, I've always been a list maker - to do list, things I want to see, Christmas/birthday lists - you name it, I'll have made a list for it. I saw on the lovely Tania's blog (Joy Felicity Jane) a little 'here's what I've been doing' list and love the idea especially as I've been travelling so much lately; it's nice to be able to keep track of things (and for my family to know I'm surviving on the other side if the world!)

So here's my 'just lately' list;

eating // everything in sight - months of rice/noodles means the accessibility of delicious Aussie food is making me crave everything.
drinking // liptons limited edition virgin Bloody Mary iced tea (must try for iced tea fans!!)
watching // greys anatomy
mastering // the melbourne tram system
learning // a lot about myself
finishing // handing out CVs now I have a job (woohoo!)
reading // a book about the life of Coco Chanel
enjoying // my new surroundings a little more each day
listening // to Disclosure and Bon Iver
walking // around the city
needing // to send Christmas cards and sort out presents soon 
wearing // layers - melbourne is chilly right now
cooking // healthy foods and barbecues - I have evidently consumed too much food/drink
wondering // when to start my sightseeing next year
working // on getting my blogging back on track as I've been very lazy due to terrible wifi
travelling // around melbourne
planning // Christmas, new year and my 2014 travels around Australia 
hoping // summer shows it's face soon (weird saying this in November when I'm used to cold English winter)
losing // EVERYTHING - I'm not sure when I got so forgetful
buying // playsuits, pretty dresses and 'basics' (for work)
wanting // beautiful diaries and notebooks from Kikki K


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Goodbye to Perth, for now

I was desperately sad to be saying goodbye to Perth, especially Fremantle - I had most definitely fallen for its charm. And what's not to love? Beautiful beaches, food galore, lovely pubs and bars, a gorgeous harbour to walk around and a fantastic transport system (something to be applauded after some of the hassle experienced in Asia!). 

We had managed to pick up a little bit of work while we were there, which was of course, a big help! We'd even managed a night out on Northbridge in between our tanning, working and coffee breaks. 

Northbridge was alright, nothing too impressive. We ate a Gorman y Gomez, a quirky little Mexican place - set up like a fast food joint, yet appearing much more stylish than that. I opted for the veggie nachos and a frozen sangria (get one!) as usual, I had gobbled the food down too quickly to snap a picture but it was decent food for a small price. I did, however, object to paying extra for the sour cream as they gave me practically half a teaspoon full. 

After I experienced goon for the first time. Word on the street is correct goon (aka cheap wine in a box) gives you one of the worst hangovers I've experienced. That night we ventured to Ya Ya's - not the greatest place I've ever been but still decent. Next time I would consider a night out in Perth City as opposed to Northbridge; it sounds like that's the night out you would expect from a city (NOTE; a good one).

We had been staying with Nadia's great uncle which was so much fun. They really made us feel welcome and it was sad to say goodbye. I was going to miss their beautiful arty house, Freo's beaches and Cappuccino Strip. But I'll be back to explore Perth again and some other parts of Western Australia (their weather is too good to resist!)


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Fish & Chips by the Harbour - Fremantle

Take a wander up the hill, down by Bather's beach and you'll come across the lovely harbour.

...or look out for the big wheel and you're in the right spot.

When I think fish and chips, I think English seaside town, sat in a coat, shivering with a carefully wrapped newspaper parcel of fish, chips and mushy peas (drowned in vinegar). But this was something else - Fremantle Harbour is beautiful. We had a little walk round at the beginning of our trip...

After climbing up onto the rocks I managed to look out, past the lighthouse, at the beautiful sky.

I've seen some of the most beautiful sunsets since I've been away - this was probably one of the best.

We then headed down here... sample the infamous fish of Perth. I must say, it's reputation proceeds it. Possibly some of the nicest fish I've had (only beaten by the fish and chips in the Jumeriah Beach Hotel in Dubai)

The whole system is very informal; you head inside, queue up in a canteen like area, place your order and get your 'buzzer' to tell you when your order is ready. 

We grabbed a seat outside, overlooking the water, and chatted away...

Buzz, buzz...

Two pieces of slightly crisp, battered fish, fresh chips and tartare sauce, all wrapped in paper with two wedges of lemon. It may look like your average fish and chips, but trust me, it was waaaay better! The batter was not even slightly greasy or heavy like some of the fish you get in the UK and the chips; perfectly cooked. After fully devouring our delicious food, we hopped back in the car and headed to Gino's for a quick coffee before our drive to the airport.

We left, very happy and very full customers.

What a lovely evening.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Bookshops and Browsing - exploring Freo

Fremantle is fantastic - book shops, beautiful vintage stores, coffee shops and restaurants everywhere you turn and so much character it gives that warm feel like when greeting an only friend.

Myself and Nadia spent a few days, in between our babysitting (yes, we picked up a week of 'work'!) wandering and admiring the quaint little harbour town. The weather in Perth is notoriously brilliant most of the time and we were lucky enough to experience this; which meant our two weeks there made sitting in the sunshine drinking coffee, walking down by the harbour and catching the train (with views from the window of the ocean, might I add) to the beautiful beaches that belong to Perth.

The book shops are fantastic (the inner bookworm/English geek in my cheers). Some old, one new but with so much character. Shelves and shelves of books, stacked high, for you to get lost in - as usual I became engrossed with the cookery book section...then the children's book section (a career I would like to go into - publishing or writing).

 I felt I needed to drag myself out. So we took a stroll further down the road...

And came across a quirky little record store...I like music but I'm not one to claim I know anything extensive about it but the concept of old records, record players and the era they belong to fascinates me.

We couldn't help stopping off at our favourite Freo jaunt on the way home, The Fremantle Bakehouse, for a delicious iced coffee.

There are so many quaint and interesting little places to explore in Freo - grab your shoes, take off your watch and aimlessly explore the place; you'll find some hidden treasures.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Cider searching in Freo

Situated down by the Harbour, right near the big wheel...

Little Creatures is a place for everyone - old, young, families  - it's a fun and vibrant place with a very cool aspect to it - they brew their own beer. They have the big metal brewing...erm...contraptions in the bar and in the building next door. You don't often get to get to see places like Little Creatures and that's why it's possibly one of my favourite bars, ever.

The food looks great - if I go back, I'll definitely venture for a bite to eat. The best bit? Compared to some of the Fremantle prices it's pretty cheap. And you HAVE to try the cider - their own brewed stuff, it's pretty damn good. Word of warning though, if you're wanting to visit after 10pm, they can only serve you a drink if you're also having food. Perth seem to have very strict alcohol licensing laws so you may come across things like this.

But don't let that put you off, Little Creatures is fantastic - especially on a weekend afternoon. 

If you need a cider comparison, head to The Monk along Cappuccino Strip; they do the nicest custard apple and ginger cider I have ever had (the only one I've ever had, infact). 

Fremantle is great for caf├ęs and little jaunts like Little Creatures - don't miss out on these if and when you venture there.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Po's Kitchen, Brunswick West

When we arrived in Melbourne, we were still very much in the mood for some Asian cuisine. Being a dim sum Virgin until our recent trip to Chinatown in Singapore, I've now really developed a taste for thr stuff. So, upon our arrival to our temporary home of Brunswick West, we headed to Po's Kitchen, in the Berkley Precinct, just off Sydney Road.

We wanted something quick cheap and tasty. That's exactly what we got.

We opted for some BBQ pork buns to share, something which have quickly become a dim sum favourite with me. The bun was perfectly sticky without being stodgy, while the BBQ filling included succulent meat and a rich barbecue flavour.

I decided on the Peking Duck wraps and some special fried rice. In hindsight I ordered far too much as the pork buns had already filled me up. 

The Peking duck wraps were delicious - a piece of cucumber, hoisin sauce and meaty, tasty duck.

Then, the biggest portion of rices arrived. Now, I tend to be a little skeptical when it comes to fried rice - sometimes it is far to greasy, or has very little flavour or simply doesn't taste fresh; this rice was none of those things. Prawns, spring onions, fresh egg fried rice - delicious.

I paid around $15 (AUD) for this meal which, if you know Australian food prices, is brilliant. The quality of food was great, the service was quick and it's just the kind of place I would recommend going if you are in the mood for a quick, casual bite to eat.



Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Life's a Beach, literally: Cottesloe

If you have time to spare in Perth I would definitely recommend hopping on the tram and spending an afternoon on Cottesloe Beach. When you think 'typical Aussie beach' that's Cottesloe. At weekends it's absolutely rammed (that's when I'd recommend a trip to the beaches at the north Fremantle stop for a more peaceful atmosphere) so be prepared now it's summer time.

Cottesloe has it's own surf and life saving club which, as an avid viewer of Home & Away, I loved this. It reminded me of summer bay and the surf club. The beach was alive with volunteers and it was really nice to see so many young people getting involved.

If you get a bit too warm and are in need of, tasty...okay, so I'm always hungry and will find an excuse for food - especially when it's frozen yoghurt. That's where Red Spoon comes in - deeeelicious! They also do smoothies and milkshakes too.

Along the beach road is a lovely Italian cafe next to Red Spoon; the food looked absolutely delicious but unfortunately, we'd already grabbed a sandwich from The General Store (a little further down the road).

Cottesloe is alive with people at the weekends; in the restaurants, at the bars, catching some sunshine on the beach - it's a beautiful place.

I mean, just look at this...

Heaven (minus the people!)


Friday, 15 November 2013

Just Checking In #2

Hello All,

Yet again you will have to bear with me - I'm lacking in good wifi yet again.

I am now in Melbourne which is unfortunately cool and drizzly at the moment; it feels like British springtime! We left Perth a few days ago (I still have lots more to tell you about so the posts will come as soon as I can get half an hour with a good internet connection!)

Perth was lovely and I instantly felt at home there - the weather was beautiful, the people are friendly and it's genuinely a nice place to live.

Unfortunately, since arriving in Melbourne, homesickness has kicked in. Now I can 100% say I do not want to return to England but I am really, really missing my family right now. I'm not sure if it's the weather or the fact things are getting a little more like real life now (food shops, job searching, nights in etc) or whether it's hit me that I actually live here now and I'm not backpacking anymore (at least until the new year anyway) but something has made me need my family, my parents especially. I'm sure this is just a temporary thing and once FaceTime and Skype are more easily accessible to me this feeling will lift.

Right now, my days consist of job hunting - boring but true! I'm not in desperate need of work as I made sure to save plenty during my first postgraduate year working but I want to make sure I can get to Sydney and do the travelling I want to do next year! 

So as usual, bear with me. The interesting posts will come as soon as possible. The house should have internet at some point over the next few weeks and I'll grab wifi where I can.

Hope you're all enjoying the pre Christmas festivities and the autumnal weather - I actually miss this time of year in England, despite moaning about the cold here. There's something really comforting about the need to wrap up warm, the orange and red leaves that have fallen and the excuse to have as many soy hazelnut hot chocolates as I want to 'keep warm'. I did venture to Starbucks yesterday to indulge in a Soy Toffee Nut Hot Chocolate; I needed that little taste of Christmas...


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Fremantle Weekend Market

We arrived in Perth on the first day of November; and I still cannot get my head around the fact it is now NOVEMBER - where has 2013 gone?!

Being a Friday, this meant that Fremantle Weekend Market was open for business. I'll be frank, I honestly didn't know anything about Fremantle as a place until around a week before our arrival but I am so pleased we were fortunate enough to witness its beauty and relaxed atmosphere. 

The Fremantle Weekend Market is located just around the corner from Cappuccino Strip (you can access it from CS though) and is a lovely sight to behold - fruit and vegetable stalls, authentic foods from Spain and Greece, juice stands, bread stalls and all sorts of clothing and nik-nak shops. After spending so long in Asia, seeing this kind of produce was enough to bring a tear to my eye - I had longed for bread like this for months after the sweet, unsatisfying toast we had eaten in Asia.

We made our way around the market, admiring the variety of foods and vowing to return later to collect some fruit for breakfast and vegetables to make our pasta dish.

We were pleased to see the prices were reasonable after being warned that things really aren't cheap in Australia. This is true, a lot of things are expensive but as minimum wage and salaries are notoriously higher here, everything is in relation with regards to earnings and cost of living. So yes, it may seem pricier to us unemployed backpackers but, once we are working, I imagine the Aussie prices won't be such a shocker anymore.

After a wander round town, we made our way back, collecting our market purchases on the way. I'm pleased to report that the quality of the fruit and vegetables we bought was fantastic and I will definitely be venturing back to collect some more (and try that delicious looking seafood paella!)


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

My SE Asia Top 10 Must Do and See

As you can see from my travel posts during my time in SE Asia, I have been having the time of my life; no exaggeration! Here are my top ten things to do in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bali. I can recommend so many other things but these are the places and experiences I wouldn't want you to miss;

1. Full Moon - you need to experience it for yourself; it's such good fun

2. Angkor Wat sunrise - something I've wanted to see since I started planning the trip; breathtaking 

3. Hoi An - possibly my favourite place, not only in Vietnam, but during the whole trip 

4. Surf lessons - one of the best things I have ever done and will definitely be carrying this on in Australia (hopefully owning a surf board by next year!)

5. Halong Bay - a must visit UNESCO site and who wouldn't want a night on a boat!?

6. Ubud - ultimate relaxation 

7. Gili islands - paradise 

8. Night markets - Siem Reap is amazing - get yourself to one

9. Sunset - over the sea, at a temple; you will see some beauties.

10. Skygarden in Kuta - the food is out of this world.