Friday, November 30, 2012

Failed Fifth NaBloPoMo

Blogging everyday for a month is hard! Harder when you have final essays to do at the same time. And an interstate cricket match to attend.

So I missed a day this year, after four years running with success. Bummer.

The fact is, I didn't have any pre-prepared posts, and I went out drinking after the cricket, and it was game over for that day! Oops!

So I cannot claim my fifth year.

Nevertheless, 29 out of 30 days of blogging in a month is not so bad.  This has been an epic year for the blog, and I am pretty happy with it.  Now I can thankfully get back to a normal life come tomorrow, without the worry of NaBloPoMo, or study! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top 5: Favourite Albums '12

Even though I have not been home to watch the ARIAs tonight, today is the day for my annual post about albums of the year.  Albums for me, my favourites, given that I could not have possibly listened to every album released all around the world this year.  But here are my favs from the year...

Bertie Blackman's Pope Innocent X is my favourite release of this year.  Love it's edginess, and Cannot wait to see her as support for Gotye next weekend here in Melbourne.

Next up is The Winter I Chose Happiness, Clare Bowditch's album that I have not been able to stop listening to since it's release.  It has so much joy and so many life's lessons among the lyrics. Love it.

Something For Kate's Leave Your Soul To Science comes in as third for my albums of the year - such a return after a long break for the band, it feels like they are taking risks, and sharing some inner stories with you.  Was totally amazing live, too.

The mush anticipated fourth release of Sarah Blasko makes up my number 4 spot on this list, with I Awake.  We grow as Sarah grows, with every album, and this one takes up to the next stage in life after her last one.  Another one with some surprising edginess, and quite a few songs are real stand out for me, particularly towards the back of the album.

The self-titled second album from The Temper Trap round out my list this year, with a record I have played regularly with joy since it's release.

This picture is a door handle at the gift shop at Graceland, Memphis, by the way....

What albums did you love, and have listened to endlessly, this year?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thai Embassy Burning

One of the primary targets of the rioting in Phnom Penh back in January 2003 was the Thai Embassy.  The destruction of the building was pretty symbolic and complete by the raging mob on that night.

Again, the chance to have a look at such destruction was pretty tempting, coming from somewhere like Australia where Occupational Health & Safety, and general liability fears, would prevent anyone from going anywhere near such damage. Not to mention the criminal investigations that would go on if such a thing was to occur at home.  Not in Cambodia though.

The sight of massive military tanks on the street, barbed wire attempting to look like the area was cordoned off, and the police presence was there - just not very effective. Nor were they trying to be.

Taking in the pink Royal Thai Embassy, sooty and a shell, we were actually able to get up to the gate to have a look through the broken gates.

The smell and the sight of the burnt out car at the front, told the tale of the night of that week.  All sparked by a comment, maybe exaggerated and highlighted in the "right" circles for such a response.  This event was such an eye-opener as an Expat.

Again, at no time did we feel unsafe while all this went on, it was very targetted and all over in a few hours.  But just a strange example of the way such a country works sometimes - or doesn't, depending on which side of the riot you believe.

This post is part of a series marking 10 years since I travelled to Cambodia to work as a volunteer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top 5: Gigs '12

With my seemingly ever moving lifestyle for much of this year, I don't feel like I have clocked as many gigs as previous years, although the ones I have caught were pretty varied across the year.  A whole heap of bands from decades ago seemed to decide this year was a great one to do a show in Australia, and my sisters and I got to fulfill a long standing dream to see one such band this year.  The year started off with a collection of such bands for NYE, and only got better through the year.

Fleet Foxes was a gig I went to in January, and I called it as my favourite gig of the year then, because it was that good.  And true to that feeling as we walked out of that amazing show, it was definitely my top gig of the past year.

Tearing around Toronto for the NXNE Festival, just weeks into my time there, was a great introduction to the city and the music venues there. The epic and crazy set of The Flaming Lips at the main concert at Yonge and Dundas Square, makes this list, as my second favourite gig of the year.

My sisters and I nabbed tickets to Roxette the minute they went on sale, which was a show in Sydney only at that stage, to be sure not to miss a band that featured so highly in our household as we were growing up.  A super fun weekend for the gig, the concert was epic, with every song you could have wanted, and the chance for the 4 of us to dance and sing within that amazing atmosphere. Definitely a moment of 2012!

A very recent gig makes the list, being the Ben Harper show just this month.  Three hours from the man, solo, chatty, and he played every track spanning his massive back catalogue and took requests. I am so glad Springer and I grabbed tickets at the last minute to the Melbourne show.

The Temper Trap in Toronto rounds out the top 5, with a Canadian crowd loving our Aussie home boys, and their really newly released sophomore album.  This is a band I got to see twice across the year, with them featuring at half time and after the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Radelaide '12

Another end to a rather huge five days has come around again.  The second test match at Adelaide Oval this calendar year ended in a draw, with the full range of emotions and possibilities during the days play, to end without the required wickets to seal an Australian win.

Day 1 was the cricket highlight, with an amazing day for Australian batting.  The crew headed to the Queens Head for a rather large night of wine and catching up with everyone back in town for this one reason to be in Radelaide.

Chick Pink Day 2 had the Waving The Flag girls, and a couple of blokes, wear our pink shirts - very easy to spot within the ground. That night Sheila HQ held the now traditional Blender Party, which is always a fun and usually a very large night.

With much of the ground a construction zone, the Adelaide Oval will never look quite the same after this year.  This week you could sit in the Members and see past the trees to the city, and then all the way to the hills. Next year will look completely different with the staged plans for the new stands.

Our much anticipated Do It In A Dress day was on Day 3, and it was so exciting to see so many of our group get behind the cause.  Such a fun day!

This week away for us is a chance for the travelling group of cricket fans to catch up during one of the home tests, swap travelling and cricket stories, meet others from past tours, and for the new Flaggers from the tour in the West Indies this year to meet the growing regular crowd.

The Australians and South Africans go into the next match of the three test series at a 0-0 draw, and the crowd of the highest ranking team up for grabs.  For us, it's time to rest up, as the plans for the next year's Radelaide all ready being discussed. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do It In A Dress At RADelaide

Yesterday was our Do It In A Dress day at the cricket in Adelaide - about 20 of us Sheilas and Blokes wore school dresses to raise money to help fund girls in Africa access schooling.

Getting to and around Adelaide Oval dressed in school dresses got plenty of attention, and loads of donations.  Unfortunately, as we didn't have an official permit we couldn't be as open about it at the ground as we had planned, otherwise we certainly would have raised a lot more.

I will post more photos up over here, but at current count we have raise enough to fund almost 26 girls in Sierra Leone to go to school - that's pretty amazing!  Thanks to everyone who has donated, and to all the Sheilas and Blokes In A Dress for getting behind this great cause.  You can still contribute and make a difference here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bridge Beauty In Adelaide

She's under the bridge we walk under, to get to the cricket every day, here in Adelaide.  Her leaves weave around each of the pylons. So pretty!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hundreds At Adelaide Oval

It's not often at the cricket that you see a double century and then another century all within the space of a few minutes.  Yesterday's play on Day 1 of the test between Australia and South Africa started out very sketchy by the Aussie batsman, but then the arrival at the crease of the captain, Micheal Clarke and Mike Hussey, set things right.  What a great day!

*I totally missed posting yesterday, NaBloPoMo challenge lost!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Big Kids in New York City

Besides all the regular sights to be seen in New York City, we managed to get to the three much talked and anticipated fun things to do, which allowed the three of us to bring out our inner kid!

One of the things Katie was most excited about was M&M World, which we found in Times Square.  Essentially, this store is four floors filled with M&M merchandise  and walls and walls of every colour M&M you could ever possibly imagine. Apart from the ads with the peanut and regular M&Ms talking, I didn't fully realise the scope of the characters of the brand, but a visit to this store had that rectified, in full visual overload!

So excited to fill a bag of little chocolate morsels for the rest of our visit to NYC, there are some pretty awesome flavours available from the walls and walls of M&M towers. Yum!

Another treat for the kid within was a visit to Lego World at Rockefellar Plaza - apparently the largest Lego store in the world.  Like M&M, here we found a wall of colour segregated Lego pieces for purchase, just like a pick and mix!

But the best bit of the store for us was checking out the countless models around the walls, and the Lego dragon weaving it's way through the walls and roof, in and out of the rooms of the store.  The streetscapes in Lego miniture were my favourite, with NYC streets, and a complete model of the Rockafellar Plaza we had just walked through.

One of the must dos that I was keen to make sure the girls got to see on our visit was the Big Piano, from the movie we watched as we were growing up.  The massive keyboard Tom Hanks played on in the movie is as FAO Schwartz  just near the top west corner of Central Park.

The toy store itself is amazing to wander through, and you could play in there for hours.  The Big Piano is upstairs and towards the back of the store, and once you have taken off your shoes, you can have a jump around and play a tune, just like in the movie! We were most definitely not the only big kids doing this! Such fun!

New York City really does have it all, something for absolutely everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Off Franklin Street Laneway Beauty

So mysterious and dark. Tragic, even. I found her when we were tearing around the city on a mini-pub crawl at the end of September.  She was in a laneway off Franklin Street here in Melbourne, and this little lane was a treasure trove of eclectic street art pieces!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Back To School

One of my favourite food finds in Toronto happened on my very last weekend there - always the way, isn't it! I followed the recommendation found on Crystal-Clear, and took Katie and Kylie on a trek to get there.

This find was also part of a quest to find a good brunch spot in the city, after a few disappointments. Of course, during the week leading to this last weekend one of my work colleagues gave me a massive list of places for brunch which she recommended. Oops! Just too late to get to them all.

School, however, made up for my other brunch fails.  Up near Dufferin in the West, we earnt our meals by walking up there, in the sun and humidity.

The restaurant is in full theme, with so many great and quirky details, and was packed on the morning we were there. The waitresses are in school uniforms, there are clocks adorning one wall, pages of school work hanging from the light fittings, and the drinks are served in beakers! So cool!

The food is amazing. Completely taken in by Crystal's review, I chose the toasted stuffed croissant with trout and scrambled eggs - it was a deal with that photo of hers and the hollandaise!

The counters all had loads of baked treats to choose from too, which we somehow managed to resist.  With the brunch menu served until 4pm on the weekends, I am so sad to have not discovered this place earlier!

Loved the attention to theme in the detail, the fast service, and the range of choices on the menu. I think it would be worth going here for Detention, too, and checking our their cocktail list!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Top 5: Play Count '12

Posting about my play count on my iTunes this year was actually an annual post I was going to skip this year - but with the pressures of NaBloPoMo clashing again with deadlines of final essays for uni, I will need to proceed!

I was going to leave this post this year, as there doesn't seem like a whole lot of change in my top 5 artists listened to according to the faithfully logged plays on iTunes from last year.  I blame the death of my much loved iPod companion in the middle of this year. Easily my most reliable and important relationship over the last 5 years, and it breaks down right when I am not working and earning to replace it, and at a time when I am walking to work everyday and travelling a lot.

Without my music collection in my pocket at the ready at all times, I have had to endure crying children on planes, weird conversations on streetcars and trains and waiting gates, and traffic and construction noise. Then I had issues with the replacement, and the replacement's replacement, so hopefully I have a new trusty companion again now!

Seeker Lover Keeper is still my most played track, with their gorgeous Even Though I'm A Woman, miles ahead of anything else!  Still love it!

Second artist is Gotye, and sees Learnalilgivinanlovin again at number 2 on the count.  A couple of his songs from his 2011 album round out the top 10 songs, with my 2 favourites from Making Mirrors, being Easy Way Out and Save Me

Sparkadia is the next artist on the playlist, with the older Too Much To Do coming in at place number 3, with Still Can't Make Up My Mind from last year's release making it in at number 10.

Oh Mercy is the fourth artist of my top play count this year, and there are three tracks in the top 10 from Great Barrier Grief.  Mercy Valley and Stay Please Stay are pegged at songs 4 and 5, and Confessions is number 9.

Florence and The Machine finishes my top 5 artists based on play counts, with Howl at 6.

So there are 4 songs the same as this list last year, and 4 of the same 5 artists. And fairly well established counts, to be fair. I would really need to flog a new album for it to climb into this list with any speed.

The new music of 2012 that I am loving the most has actually been released at this later end of the year, so maybe they will feature in this list next year, through times of commuting, travels ahead, and my love of the shuffle feature!

These pictures are from the streets of Toronto - street art is such a wealth of stock photos for random posts! Love it! A bloggers eye should always be alert!

Right, off to start my second essay of the last weekend of my MSW (fingers-crossed)!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dirt-Bike Province Trip to Prey Veng

A group of us started talking about heading out to the Provinces outside Phnom Penh, to visit our fellow volunteer who was stationed for his assignment out in Prey Veng, when we had first settled into expat life in Cambodia.

With my housemates, and Rach, the planning started taking shape.  The talk of motorbikes, and dirt bikes for this trip idea, then seemed to eliminate me from the plan because I am shakey on a pushbike, let alone a big heavy bike with a motor!

But then Borin agreed to ride my bike, and take me on the back of it - perfect!  As plans took shape, a weekend was picked, and we set off.  Hiring dirt bikes from PP was pretty easy, and we all packed very light for the journey out and back for a night.

Getting out of the city was such a treat, and travelling on the back of a dirt bike meant that I got such an awesome view of the varying landscapes as we travelled through. From muddy plains, to forested areas, across a river via ferry, and through so many villages and towns.

I was also terrified and concentrated heavily on maintaining my balance and trying to not be a hindrance to Borin as he did the driving.

A couple of times, when we stopped, I fell off. He was so worried, but it was fine. I just wasn't ready to be taking on the full weight of the bike on my own! No harm done.

Borin took us to visit a village where his extended family lived.  I remember when we arrived, Rach and I had a gathering of locals surround us pretty quickly, obviously fascinated with the white girls travelling in this way. At this point, we had also some basic Khmer language under our belts, and so when there was chatter about the 'big foreigners' we knew what they were calling us. As Borin translated back and forth, there was much laughter as he told us what they were saying about us - they were actually amazed that I had such tiny feet, for such a big body! Ha! Just being descriptive, of course, no offence meant. But we certainly found their interest amusing.

Once at our destination, we found a guesthouse and caught up with Luke, and Jane who was also out visiting the university, and then we were all invited to a local wedding!  Such a fun night!

The main features of our trip home the next day were rain and breakdowns.  The bikes had their mechanical troubles on the way out, but this was so much an issue as the rain settled in on our journey home.

So many roadside stops trying to get one bike up and running again. And just as we had one back to running, and we set off again, another seemed to give up. It started off as a funny joke, but got tiresome as the drivers got more tired, and the rain got heavier. We all made it back to PP, safe and sound, and bikes returned, for what was one of the most amazing weekends I had in Cambodia.

This post is part of a series marking 10 years since I travelled to Cambodia to work as a volunteer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ben Harper: Solo And Acoustic

Last Saturday night in Melbourne, Ben Harper gave us three hours of his music, spanning every album, and hitting every song you have ever wanted to hear him give you live.

Opening with the powerful Pleasure And Pain, sitting in the middle of a rug on a massive stage, in a massive lecture theatre-like venue. The Plenary within the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre is mammoth - the acoustics in here were pretty impressive.  He was surrounded by countless guitars, with a piano at one end of the mat, and a huge xylophone at the other.

Hat on the whole night, the first few numbers featured serious concentration on the slide guitar in his lap, and included Blessed To Be A Witness and a stripped down version of Diamonds On The Inside.

The covers sprinkled across the night were awesome, with Bruce Springsteen's Atlantic City a stand out, and then after saying it was for Jeff, Hallelujah.  The Drugs Don't Work, and Sexual Healing, of course, were also amazing.

Not Fire Not Ice was played after Ben told the room about meeting a fan in the elevator back at the hotel earlier in the day, who had told him that that was their wedding song - and that they were going to be in the audience that night. What a magical shout out!

A handful of new songs were in the mix too, with Masterpiece a love song to look out for.  Beautiful.

Please Bleed, Another Lonely Day and Walk Away brought the mood down, and the emotions at call, with that voice soaring around the room. The first encore brought it back with When She Believes and the lovely Steal My Kisses.

During the last encore, Ben took requests from the audience. He played Amen Omen for someone who called it out from the seats in front of him.

These requests also included Morning Yearning. Ben said that Heath Ledger directed the clip for this song.  And that he hasn't played this since Heath's passing. He told us stories of hanging out with Heath, and getting a call from him 2 months before his daughter was born with a favour request to write him a lullaby for her. Ben then said that because he was in Australia, he would play it for us, and he did.

It felt like Ben didn't want to end the night, taking one more request, and then another. Thanking the room for coming, and being so appreciative of the support over the years. What an epic, and amazing show!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brighton Beach Houses

The pretty, colourful beach houses along Brighton Beach are often listed as sights and icons of Melbourne - although this time whilst I was housesitting in Brighton was only the second time I have even been down to see them.

They are a decent way out of the city, a long train ride or drive down the bay, so easily a day trip.

My first weekend of my 2 week housesitting gig I walked down to the beach and all the way along Middle Brighton to find the Beach Houses.  A sunny Spring day, there were plenty of people along the sand, soaking up the much missed sun.

Each house has it's own colourful and distinctive design, with a couple in a state of renovation.  According to the Brighton Beach House Association, these 82 houses remain as they originally were, in that they have timber framing, weatherboards and corrugated iron roof, with no amenities hooked up to them.  They are also painted to guidelines, so the row retains it's character. The houses are used as change and storage facilities.

This morning I said goodbye to this beautiful neighbourhood, and the gorgeous house I was sitting, as my time there is up. This is certainly not an area of Melbourne I would even imagine being able to live in, so this was such a treat to live the lives of someone else for two weeks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Magical Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is without a doubt one of my favourite bits of New York City.  Walking across it, taking in the river below and the borough of Brooklyn as it grows closer is just magical, taking in the two granite towers, and all that cable holding them in place.

I took Katie across as dusk was approaching, after we spent the afternoon at the baseball, and after we saw Kylie off back to Toronto.  We got the subway down to the closest stop, and then started the walk.

Taking in every delight of the bridge, we reached the Brooklyn end eventually, and then found our way down to Brooklyn Bridge Park to see the bridge from ground level. We sat for awhile, taking in the view of the city, as the light faded and the city lights came on. As the mosquitoes made their presence known, we walked around Jane's Carousel, which took such a battering just this month with Superstorm Sandy.

Katie and I found Bubby's for dinner on the Brooklyn side, before we started our walk back to Manhattan, this time with the full cityscape in view. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building all lit up, as well as the new view in town being the Peace Tower, giving us the full New York City experience.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rock For Recognition

Last Thursday The Corner Hotel was filled with Rock, for the Recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution. Because as it stands now, they are not. In fact, there are more references to lighthouses, beacons and buoys than to Australia's first people.

With a DJ spinning tunes between sets, and on whilst we arrived in the bandroom, the first act of the night was soon on stage. Leah Flanagan captivated the crowd with her mix of blues and soul, complete with a full band, including the double bass.  She was very impressive, and definitely someone to watch out for.

Then, after a quick DJ break, Dan Sultan was on stage. He started with a ukulele and just him on stage, and captured the full bandroom's attention instantly.  After his first song he said, as a way of an introduction "Did you recognise me? Because our Constitution doesn't."

He confessed that he doesn't know anything about Constitutional Law.  He wasn't going to preach about the topic - he just wanted to start the conversation by doing these shows, to raise some awareness.  And he hoped everyone in the room would discuss it with their friends and family, and hopefully this issue will start to matter to Australia, and be addressed.  As it should be.

Fear Of Flying was one of his early songs of the night, before playing quite a few new songs. One called (maybe)  Nobody Knows was a totally romantic song.....and at one point every girl responded to one of the lines...clearly the lad has some love in his life!  Cute!

Nyul Nyul Girl was magical again, with the mix of his Indigenous language as an important part of the story.  The encore gave us Old Fitzroy, which the crowd supported in voice.  This was one of the strongest gigs I have seen of Dan, and his new material and feeling of contentedness makes a new prospective album very exciting indeed.

Check out the Rock For Recognition site, and learn about the state of glaring gap in the Constitution, and sign the pledge.  Let's make a positive difference in our Indigenous brothers and sisters lives, at last.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jus The New Burgers In Town

There is a new burger place in Melbourne town, and can be found along Chapel Street in South Yarra. Jus Burger is originally from Perth, and the brain-child of a well trained and travelled chef.  With four locations in the West, this one is Melbourne has just arrived, and we checked it out last week for dinner.

With 4 of us, we were each able to sample a different burger, getting a good idea of what was on offer. Heath ordered the Roo Burger, and later claimed it was the most flavoursome burger he had ever had! Jessie had the Cheeseburger with Blue Cheese, and when it arrived at our table she wondered if she would be needing a spoon, given the abundance of House Made Aioli and Relish. When she finished, she was more than satisfied with the amount of blue cheese present. Melissa ordered the Pancetta Chicken, which included fresh pineapple. To even things out I picked the Turkish Beef, which featured Tahini Yoghurt and Middle Eastern Slaw. Yum!

Having perused the menu beforehand, we had read good things about the sides, and thus ordered the Fresh Cut Chips, and the Onion Rings.  Not usually a fan of fried up onion, these were fresh, big and delicious, and actual onions. May have just changed my thoughts on the concept!

With Jus Burger's policy of sourcing local produce, the beef comes from Gippsland, with the lamb, chicken and roo all Victorian grown, hormone free and grain fed.  So you know it's good!

They also have a No Freezer policy, so everything is fresh that day, which is a whole new level of comfort in your order!  Nothing dodgy here!

Jessie and Heath were even pretty impressed that their sparkling mineral water and lemonade was locally sourced, from Daylesford, rather than from somewhere overseas.  It's the little details that matter!

I was pretty impressed by the murals along the walls inside, although we dined at the tables outside, at the start of the gorgeous barmy Melbourne evenings.

A sign in the window told us that Jus Burger is open til 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, and with the burgers a little more than a handful with all the filling, that's going to be messy!  But with a great lunch special, and their reasonable menu prices, this is a burger place to trek down to the Commercial Road end of Chapel for!

We were guests of Jus Burger, through a Social Callout, but the views and quotes were all our own!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Like A Cat

When I returned home from Toronto and told my old work crew that I had lined up some housesitting pretty much straight away, my old boss commented that I am like a cat - in that I always seem to land on my feet.

I am into my second housesitting gig now since being back in Melbourne, and have one lined up for most of December. Perfect!  My thoughts are that I am collecting a couple of these gigs to obtain solid references, and then I could use housesitting as my way to travel long term, or simply to save to travel more.

Living like these means I am able to explore new neighbourhoods, which is pretty cool. It's also win-win, because I get somewhere to stay, and the owners of the home know that there is someone here while they are away, keeping it safe.

I do have a couple of gaps, so am working on my homelessness now.  Hopefully my good experiences with AirBnB will continue in my home city!

I have managed to complete that "landing on my feet" sentiment to it's fullest this week, by landing some locum Social Work work, on a short term contract. I have work for the month of November at this stage, after being away from paid work for 6 whole months.  Again, perfect!  And I have found that my knowledge of the Disability service system is still intact - programs may have changed their names, but it's all essentially the same.  In just 3 days this week, I feel like I am back to the work I belong to, even feeling like I have made a difference, and helped people in difficult situations.  Right back on my feet!

Both perfect scenarios after packing up my things, and selling everything off, to travel more.  Housesitting and locuming will put me in a good position to save for my next adventures, and keep me moving.  No sitting still here!

This cheeky kitty was found along Queen Street West in Toronto.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A School Visit in Phnom Penh

Working in a shelter for girls (and a couple of boys) in Phnom Penh 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to attend some of the classes run on site, but also went along one day to check out the school where some of the kids went most days.

Standing out like any expat visitor would at such a place, I was swamped by the kids out in the school yard, and then invited in to a couple of the classrooms to have a peak.

A tiny, extra, window into the Khmer way of life.

Every girl deserves access to an education, it's a basic human right, and the start in life that will support her life, her family's life, and the lives of future generations.

These kids, without support from an external party like the shelter I worked in, struggle to access the opportunity we all take for granted.  Little bribes for school books, to have school work marked by the teacher, and even just to have the teacher show up, were common stories.

Some very familiar faces among these old photos - I wonder what they are up to now, all these years later...

This post is part of a series marking 10 years since I travelled to Cambodia to work as a volunteer.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Canberra Does Wine

I would never have put Canberra and wine together in a thought before.  Just never an area that would have occurred to me to look out for next to the New Zealand Marlborough area, and places like the Clare Valley and McLaren Vale in South Australia, or McClaren Vale and Margaret River in WA.  But our Foodie and Wino weekend for the Human Brochure changed that.

We went out to Grazing on the Saturday for our lunch with matching wines, and then on the Sunday we were taken out to Jeir Creek Winery, and shown some of the wine making processes, and more exciting, given more tastings.

The standout and memorable wine for me on Saturday was from Lark Hill, a Pinot Noir, that was described as having no added preservatives.  And we all know that means no hangover - a winner to look out for!

On the Sunday, the sparkling that we tasted first was my favourite - one from Gallagher Wines, and definitely one you could drink all day at a wedding and not get sick of. That's my test for a sparkling!

The other wine message from our Sunday tastings was that Riesling is better.  I used to find Riesling too dry, and hard to enjoy.  But it seems to be back in the wine world, and Ken from Helm Wines was a very big advocate for it.  And the Half Dry caught my attention in our samplings.

Sunday's tour included time to take in the vast paddocks of vines, and the clear air out in this area outside of Canberra. We also heard about the wine making, and blending, processes in the shed at Jeir Creek, before our tastings began.

Over the weekend we learnt that there are in fact 35 wineries within 35kms of Canberra, and has a long history in the region.  The hot Summers and cold Winters are the perfect climate for some of the wines produced here, and after a full weekend drinking nothing but, I will certainly remember to look out for them in the future!
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