Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nice, 1 million steps and red shoes

Sometimes complete strangers are lovely, aren't they? I sent an email to a client contact today to update his details in our database - a request I usually expect to be met with indifference, if not annoyance - but I got an unusually nice email in return.

In fact, it's quite remarkable how few rude and grumpy people I have come across in my now-not-so-new job. In almost nine months (nine!), I can count on one hand the number of clients and staff I've had dealings with who have been unpleasant. It's...well, it's nice.

I'm still doing the Global Corporate Challenge - we're just over half way in the 12-week event now. Although my daily step counts for the past few weeks have been much lower due to feeling unwell, my daily average of about 14,000 still puts me in the top 25 per cent of the 127,000 participants. In the next few days, I will pass 1 million steps!

I got numerous compliments on the red shoes I wore to work today. I've worn them before, but I think because the rest of my ensemble was black, they caught people's attention.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good timing, addicted, cuddles

I missed a tram home tonight when I left work but then another one came along after a minute or two. That almost never happens, especially on a drizzly night when I'm tired and headachey. And the green 'walk' light was flashing at the crossing when I got off the tram, so I got home a whole 20 seconds earlier than otherwise. Wooh. Hey, I said I was tired and headachey. I needed my couch ASAP.  

I am addicted to etsy.com, the online marketplace for vintage and handmade goods. Addicted I say. I look at it nearly every day and favourite stuff I like. I've even bought a few things - mostly jewellery. It's a great place to find nice things when all the stuff in the shops isn't to your taste, and much of it is quite reasonably priced too.

Cuddles are ace, but there's something particularly nice about sleepy morning cuddles  (not a euphemism!).   

Monday, July 18, 2011

Belated birthday glee

My two-day getaway to Walhalla for my birthday last weekend was ace - one of my most memorable birthdays ever. The tiny mountain town is lovely, it was wonderful to have a weekend away with Luke and to wake up with someone special on my birthday.

 Walhalla is quaint, picturesque, quiet and brimming with history. It was love at first sight for me. It's tucked in down in a valley with one winding road in and out, and there's old stuff everywhere! Mining equipment, weathered wagon wheels, old shopfronts, cute cottages, little shacks high on the mountain side (below), remnants of buildings that are long gone (like the Royal Junction Hotel), and,  most spectacular of all, the cemetery spread out across a steep mountainside just as you turn the bend into town. My new camera got a good work out (see Girl in Melbourne for more photos).

A little creek runs through the town, so the soft babbling of water is an ever-present and comforting background noise.  Due to a lack of flat ground, the fire station was built over the creek (below  - it's now a museum rather than a working firestation.) 

On the first day we wandered around the town taking photos and then walked up to the entrance to the  old Long Gully mine overlooking the town.

Me and the faded Long Gully Mine sign

We saw a fungus that looked like a boob.

We went to the "Wally Pub" that night - it looked more like a family home than a pub from the outside - and had a nice country style pub meal for dinner. Nothing too fancy, but cooked well and my T-bone was almost as big as my head. The barman wasn't too chatty until Luke mentioned football (AFL).

The Mountaineer Band Rotunda

There was nothing else doing in town  after we'd finished our meals just after 8.00 pm so we went back to our room. Tis a sleepy town...but I didn't mind.  Our bed and breakfast was perched up on the mountain looking down over the town. I didn't realise this when I booked it, so that was a nice surprise.

Our BnB high on the hill

The room was new and pretty in pastel blue and white.

Early the next morning (early, I said!) after the birthday hugs and kisses, Luke and I pulled on our clothes and went for a walk hoping to see some wildlife foraging. It was a cool, but fine, sunny morning with a soundtrack of bird calls, including one that sounded exactly like a siren.

We walked past the little weatherboard church and were very enthusiastically greeted by a pair of miniature grey poodles out on their morning constitutional as well. We climbed up the mountain to the old cricket ground, which was a fairly challenging walk (for me, anyway). I had to stop a few times to catch my breath and I worked up quite a sweat. I enjoyed it though - fresh air and exercise in the bush before breakfast. The poodles were the only animals we saw. Boo.

Our view, complete with kookas (one real)

When we got back to the BnB our host, Jason, was feeding a group of kookaburras and currawongs on the balcony overlooking the town. The tree out the front was dotted with rosellas and king parrots and there more birds, including wonga pigeons and a chook, down on the lawn. Jason had set up a table for us on the balcony and the birds kept us company as we ate a yummy cooked breakfast. One young kooka didn't budge from his spot on the balcony railing during our meal...OK, they were waiting to be fed; they were indifferent to our company. At one stage a king parrot landed on the guttering above and hung upside down to peer at us.

My eggs benedict

It was so peaceful and picturesque. I was brimming with glee. Luke gave me my present, which was the shark kite I'd asked for. Yay! Haven't had a chance to fly it yet, but hopefully I will this weekend.

After showering and packing up our room, we headed to the cemetery. It's fairly small, but spread out on the mountainside with a bush backdrop. The graves with their white and marble headstones and low rusted fences are arranged in fairly haphazard rows, jutting up out of grass and weeds. Many of the headstones are in surprisingly good shape given they date back to the late 1800s.

Treading carefully on the rudimentary paths and steps, we took photos and read epitaphs - there were a lot of men who died young and families who had buried a succession of very young children, but also the occasional person who made it to their 80s, which would have been positively ancient back then.

After the cemetery Luke and I went for a ride on the goldfields railway, a leisurely jaunt in an old (but well restored) train through the bush, past tree ferns and tall, straight-trunked eucalypts, with the babbling creek always alongside the tracks.

Then, alas, it was time to head off. We made a detour to Thomson Dam, Victoria's largest reservoir and the source of Melbourne's drinking water. It's at over 40% capacity, which doesn't sound like a lot until you consider not long ago it was stagnating at 16% as Victoria endured drought. It's kinda nice to know where the water that comes out of your tap originates from.

We stopped at the general store in Erica for a pie/pastie and sauce for lunch, then hit the road for home. All in all, a wonderful weekend out of town. I'd love to go back again one day.  

I loved this old shed. Had to get a photo in here somewhere.

And this shed. I suppose in such a small town you had
 to be multi-skilled and flexible enough to take on whatever "etc" might be.

The town's pay phone

Friday, July 15, 2011

The fog and the sun and the moon

There were three hot air balloons floating in the foggy sky when I got up this morning. The fog was thick, but the sun was trying hard to break through as I made my way to work (below).  It took until well into the morning for it to clear up completely.

My building emerging from the fog

When I left work, the big, yellow moon was rising and just hovering above the top of the MCG stadium. Of course my photos don't do it justice.

I could see it almost all the way home.

PS: The blog about my birthday weekend in Walhalla is still to come. You can see my photos here for a taste.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Toasty oats, good timing, perfect pillow

I've gone off porridge for breakfast lately, so I toasted some rolled oats with butter, maple syrup and brown sugar to have instead, and it's delicious.

No one put the bins out last night, but as I was leaving for work I got them to the curb just as the recycling truck pulled up (and before the garbos arrived). Phew.

I've been sleeping on a new pillow - well, an old new pillow. I've had it for years, but found it a touch too high for me, but for some reason it's now just perfect. Soooo soft and comfy.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Birthday get-away, mystery building, stair race

Gluten-free chocolate and vanilla cupcake

Luke and I are off to the tiny historic town of Walhalla in Gippsland for my birthday next weekend. It's perched on a mountainside not too far from Mt Baw Baw, so I expect it will be very picturesque but rather chilly.

Walhalla was a gold mining settlement that boomed in the mid-late 1800s before becoming a ghost town. It's had a renaissance as a tourist destination in the last 30 years but still retains its old world appeal. It also has a little old hillside cemetery which I'm a smidge excited about (me and my thing for old cemeteries). It has less than 20 permanent residents these days and it's quite likely we will have no mobile phone reception, so it should be a nice little get-away.

We're staying at a nice B&B. I'm hoping there will be somewhere with an open fire for dinner on Friday night.

I picked up a book at Reader's Feast today called Five Hundred Buildings of New York and I flipped it open to the page featuring a building I fell in love with while I was there but had no idea what it was. Now I know - it's the Ansonia Hotel.

I have a new thing where I try to make it to my front door before the light in the stairwell clicks off (it's one of those push-button jobbies). I have to pick up my stair-climbing pace a little to beat it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Surprise bonus, Avocado Man, baby plants

I got a fabulous surprise at work this week - a small payrise and a bonus. I knew salary increases were being handed out, but I wasn't expecting to see one of the confidential envelopes with my name on it as I've been on the payroll for less than five months, but yay! I was rapt.

I plan to buy myself a little birthday present with the bonus and put the majority of it towards boring but sensible things like savings.

My boss also said some very glowing things about me, and that was ace too.

It was a busy week at work with the end of the financial year (EOFY) yesterday. It all went smoothly but I'm glad it's the weekend now. All the secretarial staff received a coffee and cake voucher for their EOFY efforts, which was a nice gesture.  

Luke bought an avocado to have with dinner last night and it was the most perfect avocado in the world - soft and buttery yellow and without a hint of bruising.  It's not the first time he's picked a good un. It could be his secret superpower. (cue trumpet fanfare) Look, everybody! In the fresh produce department! It's AVOCADO MAN!

My dieffenbachia indoor plant has three little baby plants growing at its base.

I got a delivery at work today - a new T-shirt. Yeeehaw!