Hello lovelies! Aren’t you glad that it’s the end of the week again??
For me I spent the better part of the week thinking it was a day ahead when it really was the day before. THAT screwed with my mind, and now I’m just glad I can finally say that it is Friday.
Plans for the weekend – not too much. It’s that time of the year again where we wrangle the dogs into the car and take them to their yearly vet checkup and vaccinations. Dex – loves car rides – he will even attempt to jump into the back of the car himself and usually get stuck with then one of of us having to heave him up by his butt. Toby, has no problem getting into the car – he just whines like a baby all throughout the trip. Gah.
Then there will be some shopping and errands, a visit to the in-laws, plans for pizza and movies with the siblings (I suspect Harry Potter is on the cards). And the weather looks to be good and Spring-like tomorrow so there will be exercise (after my lazy lazy week).
I also think I’ll fit in
some sitting in the sun on the deck with the dogs.
And maybe, playing around with my new hair (it was great the first day and now it’s awkward – I need to do something with it).
(Ignore awkward, tired selfie – I just liked my fringe flick)
In between stuff, I know I’ll be making time to sit down with a cup of coffee and read my favourite things. And for you, here’s my picks for the week:
I laughed myself silly when I read this article from Thought Catalog on 20 embarrassing moment we never want to happen, because be sure, at least half of them have happened to me. I’m constantly in a state of embarrassment over something I’ve done, said or thought – even when I probably have no reason to be. How much of this relates to you??
So how many of you have a nickname given to you by your parents?? Mine since I was little has been “Gudia”, which means doll in Hindi. But apparently a new study shows that giving your kids nicknames undermines the parental relationship and sets kids up to be, well, spoiled.
I came across this post through a friend on Facebook but have seen it linked up a few times throughout the blogosphere as well. A great post on those starting on their journey to health (doesn’t have to be running). I identify so much with the “fat girl” in the post.
I stopped drinking soda a long while back before I even hopped onto the quitting sugar bandwagon. But what I didn’t realise with my holier-than-thou smugness about not consuming soft drinks, that all the fruit juice I was drinking in its stead was just as bad. Here’s a great info graphic that explains all about soda’s evil twin.
While travelling, I always find myself in a bit of a quandry where my indulgent side wants to go wild on the dessert buffet and cocktails and my more rational side knows that the next morning I’ll regret it. That being said, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good balance with the way I stay healthy. But I know that it did take me some getting used to and this post from Vienda Maria, also gives you some tips on how to stay healthy while travelling.
Now that Spring is in the air, I’m getting into the spirit of spring cleaning and really using this time to get shit sorted. Another great post from the Thought Catalog lists 10 ways to improve your life this weekend including hanging out with a dog and doing something that scares you.
With the start of the farmer’s markets around the city due to the increasingly warmer weather, there’s been some great produce around. I picked up some zucchini last week and…errr…still have it in my fridge because I didn’t know what to do with it. Then I saw this recipe for raw zucchini pasta and almond pesto and nearly drooled on my screen. This I’m making.
What’s the plans for this weekend? Did you have (still do) a nickname given to you by your parents??
Rolling hills, green as far as the eye can see with promise of Spring right around the corner.
A long road winding ahead of you, sunroof open, music blaring and the wind whipping your hair around your face.
Glimpses of sparkling blue water that makes your heart soar and leap, because, yes, you’re getting out of the city.
This weekend past was good, we played in the sun, went for long walks and celebrated – but last weekend.
Well, it was exactly what I needed.
Have you ever taken a weekday off to take a holiday? How freaking awesome is it??!
There’s something about being up and about during the day when you would normally be at work and seeing the world around you. It seriously is like a different world and all these people – which just so happen to be young mothers, the elderly and tradies are EVERYWHERE.
I feel like I’m intruding just a little into their life of lattes, shop-browsing and neon-vest wearing.
After a somewhat leisurely sleep-in (the boy doesn’t know how to sleep in even if his life depended on it. SO annoying!!), we headed off to a local cafe for breakfast.
I decided to indulge a little, since it was going to be a weekend of indulgence of sorts with a breakfast of gluten-free strawberry pancakes and real maple syrup and cream. I have this tendency to veer towards trying something new on the menu – usually the sweet breakfasts when eating out while Evs is happy with standard bacon and eggs.
Every. Single. Time.
(Story of our relationship really )
We headed off soon after breakfast after saying a teary goodbye to the doggies (My little brother was looking after them for the night).
It was still the tail-end of Winter and we’d be stepping into Spring while we were there, but Melbourne didn’t want to let go. I was rugged up and while it looks like I wore the same outfit both days, believe me when I say I did change. I may not have been winning any fashion awards, but I was WARM.
It was an insanely freeing feeling to just be the passenger in the car. Not knowing where we were going, when we were going to get there, what the plan was. My inner Type A was shushed repeatedly as I enjoyed just…being.
We pulled into a wonderful B&B resort type place called Lindenderry which Evs had been to before for a friend’s going away. It was set on 30 acres of beautiful grounds with a river that ran through past the building.
We didn’t stay long and headed into Red Hill to explore. We found ourselves nearby at Green Olive which stole our hearts and stomach with the scenic olive trees, vineyards and the amazing food that was made fresh from the garden.
We had the spicy sweet potato soup with crusty bread which came in two cute little cups. Seriously amazing.
Evs ordered the lamb sausage which came with two relishes – one tangy tomato relish and a sweet beetroot relish. Both were so, so good. (I tried not to think of where it came from given that it came from their own produce and focus on its deliciousness – as you will see later – it was a little hard)
I ordered the olive tapenade and mixed marinated olives which came with more crusty bread (I was addicted to this stuff!) and trust me when I say it was all gone.
After lunch we went for a short stroll in the gardens and marvelled at the gardens from where we had just eaten our lunch. While we were strolling, we heard a plaintive bleating and came across a tiny little injured lamb that had been isolated as the other lambs had been picking on it. It was so pathetically cute that I felt so bad for eating the sausage earlier.
(I don’t look like I’m feeling bad there do I? Blame the deliciousness of that sausage)
I unfortunately don’t have much photos of the rest of the afternoon (on Evs’ camera and Im too lazy to get them now) but there was more strolling, an afternoon nap followed by a complimentary scones and tea. Dinner was at a laidback bush pub type of place where we sat by the fire and ate pizza.
The next morning was spent exploring the famous Red Hill Community Market where we armed ourselves with some local coffee and wandered through the stalls of crafts and local produce. I also managed to snag myself a freshly made hot jam doughnut ball which was the perfect mixture of cinammony and doughy. So good.
After, we headed to Dromana nearby, walking along the beachside and wandering into the quaint antique and thrift shops.
We had lunch at Dee’s Kitchen – coffee and a ooey gooey chocolate brownie for Evs and some warm pita and hummus for me.
The sun came out just as we were leaving, ending the perfect weekend. We anxiously went home to Dex and Toby (such fur-parents!) and spent the rest of the day on the deck in the sunshine.
It was the perfect getaway – time spent with Evs to really relax and not think about work or family and just really spend some time on us. We loved Red Hill and wished we could have stayed longer and ventured down to Flinders and further along the coast.
There’s this old Hindi movie I used to love as a kid – India’s attempt at sci-fi called “Mr India”. The villain was the most terrifying one I had ever seen on my TV screen, with this cracking knuckles and Nazi-esque way of getting his minions to jump willingly into crocodile-infested waters and wanting to blow up the world with nuclear missiles.
His name was Mogambo and it is him that I think of as I wake up in Negombo, Sri Lanka.
Luckily for me, Negombo doesn’t have a villainous bone its little beach town body and Evs and I wake up that first day in Sri-Lanka ready to explore. It’s almost 10am Lanka time and way past lunch time back home in Melbourne and my stomach is rumbling.
Breakfast is held in the hotel’s restaurant – an open faced pavilion that faces the beach and provides much relief in the already warm morning. It’s overcast, or what Evs calls a “hangover-kind of day”. At my puzzlement, he explains – it’s sunny but hazy, like after a big night of drinking where everything seems way too bright.
It’s off-peak season and we can feel it as the hotel staff outnumber the amount of tourists sitting watching the waves. The breakfast buffet is impressive and I suppress the urge to pile everything on my plate, instead going for some fresh tropical fruit, egg-white scramble and a thin pancake with maple syrup.
I had wondered whether I’d be not eating sugar in this holiday, but the smell of freshly baked muffins and juicy fruit changed my mind. Avoiding if I can, but seriously – I’m on holiday.
My stomach, however, doesn’t agree and I feel bloated soon after. Meh – no biggie. I ignore it and Evs and I prepare to go exploring.
Our Lonely Planet guide doesn’t mention a lot to actually see in Negombo and that’s ok with us. We accept the offer of a driver to take us into town (after the hotel reception staff try their best to scare us with stories of untrustworthy tuk-tuk drivers) and the driver raises the offer by taking us on a guided tour of the town for an extra US$10.
Our first stop is the Negombo fish market. Yep, that’s one of the major attractions here and being a coastal fishing town – it makes sense. Being mid-morning by now, most of the people have left, but it is still bustling.
The smell is overpowering and we walk through the piles and piles of freshly caught fish lying in the sun. A friendly fisherman stops to tell us that they catch them, add salt and let the sun dry them out ensuring that they last longer. His English is very good, and he tells us that he is going to English class so that one day he can work in a hotel.
Evs is mesmerised – he has only seen this fish in packets at our local Indian/Lankan grocery store. Stray dogs and cats roam around, hoping that that the fishermen throw something their way and trying to sneakily steal a fish from the pile.
After, we head to St Mary’s church – Negombo’s population is predominately Roman Catholic after successful conversion by the Dutch. In fact, it’s known as ‘Little Rome” and the frequent altars I saw last night make sense. The church also houses a school for street children and we hear the shrieks of laughter nearby. The church is empty bar a few people, their heads bowed down in prayer or staring ahead at the statue in front of them. The corridors are lined with pillars on top of which are various Saints and Angels. I recognize Joan of Arc and Michael the Archangel. It is peaceful.
To round out our religious tour, we also visit a big Buddhist temple in the middle of the town. We see a few like baby monks or monk-children in a nearby house (never know what they are called!) and I try and capture one with my camera. He grins widely and hides behind the door, his saffron robes trailing onto the ground the only proof he is there. He laughs loudly and ducks again when I try and catch him unawares. His smile is infectious and soon Evs and I are laughing along with him
I’m wearing shorts and the attendant, who tells us his name is Shakti, gives me a sarong to wrap around my bare legs. He takes us in and informs us that the temple is over 350 years old. The paintings are a little newer, only 180 years old and the carvings of the main Buddha came from Burma.
I actually learn a lot – like how they believe that every 5000 years, a new Buddha will come or that there is a subtle difference in the statues of reclining Buddhas that tells you whether he is meant to be dead or sleeping, and that there is always a small Hindu temple in a Buddhist temple because they are linked through history.
At this point we are starving and after being dropped back to the hotel and cooling off for a few moments, we walk out back into the heat in search of a good restaurant for lunch. A quick check with Tripadvisor brings up “Serendib”, a laidback seafood restaurant in the same style as its town, right on the beach. We ordered the chilli crab and grilled prawns, and I get my first cocktail of the holiday – a frozen blue margarita.
Oh. Em. Gee.
This baby is STRONG, but just the way I like it and despite the multiple brain freezes, I sip on it happily until I reach the point that I cannot deny that I am now drunk.
On one drink. Such a lightweight.
The food….oh it’s incredible. Finger-licking, succulent crab with the mouth watering chilli hit that sees us gulping our drinks faster than normal. We eat with our hands, all pretensions aside and the amused waiters bring us a finger bowl and watch as we chomp into the food. It’s fresh, amazing and EXACTLY what we were looking for. The prawns are grilled to perfection and enormous and Evs and I share both meals between us. The entire meal, including drinks and dessert comes to about US$30 and I am more than satisfied. So, so good.
After stumbling back to our hotel, the only thing on my mind was sleep and I practically passed out on the bed as the alcohol makes the room spin. An hour later and we’re groggily up, ready to go to an Ayurvedic massage that we had booked at the end of our town tour. I want my eyebrows done, after weeks, no months of neglect and a mani/pedi since my cuticles are looking woefully ordinary.
Evs, who hates massages, agrees to have a head-shoulder-neck massage and I’m whisked away to a room where a young girl attends to me. It’s weird because I’m the only one in the salon – I see other tourists arrive and head to other rooms, presumably for a massage, but I’m stuck here with this girl who seems pleasant enough, but is silent as she goes about preparing for the pedicure.
I play with my phone, cursing that I don’t have internet here and resort to playing games. She lifts my feet without asking and works away diligently, stopping every once and while to blow her nose. I feel bad that she has to do this while obviously not well, and I try to make it as less painful for her. I feel a sense of…guilt maybe…that she is attending to me, when she could be doing anything else – school perhaps? Does anyone else feel this way? It was a strange feeling, since when I was in Hong Kong, I had no issue with getting my nails done there.
The manicure is so-so, and is immediately ruined by the time I get back to the hotel. My eyebrows are sore, but cleaned up and I’m relieved that she didn’t make them too thin (she was spending an awful amount of time on each one!). It’s dark now and I ask Evs how his massage was.
He confirms that he still hates massages and said that it felt like he was in Spartacus being oiled up to fight. Apparently, he had to take his shirt off as the head-shoulder-neck massage went further south than anticipated.
By this time, the memories of the chilli crab still lingering, we head to another restaurant recommended by Trip advisor called “Lords” – a mere 5 minute walk from the hotel. The name for the hotel becomes apparent with the cricket themed food, but the art on the walls (it also is an art gallery) is enough to keep us distracted.
The food again is amazing – we both ordered a curry and rice and it comes on a platter lined with banana leaves and various amounts of vegetarian curries and traditional Sri-Lankan condiments on the side. Evs goes all local on me and starts eating with his hands and I soon join him, mixing the curries with the rice until it resembles and tastes like one big delicious curry mess. The waiters are amused once again and once again, bring us a finger bowl to clean ourselves off.
I have another cocktail – this one a delicious mix of mango and passionfruit that gets me going.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be putting up my posts from our wonderful holiday in Sri Lanka a few weeks ago. Hope you enjoy!
I woke up to the sound of thunder this morning. It wasn’t surprising, given that the clouds had threatened to unleash rain on us all day yesterday. But it never made good on its threat and we were spared nothing more than a slight drizzle.
The thunder was comforting. It woke me up, yes, but I was still adjusting to the time zones and back home, that home that seemed so far away, it was close to mid-morning. The air-conditioning whirred in the darkness and I lay there thinking of the day we had before.
Had it only been just over a day since we had flown halfway across the world?
Our flight was uneventful, both of us glad to be escaping the dreariness that Melbourne had bestowed. The afternoon we left, the clouds broke for sunshine that lasted us the trip to the airport. Ironic that it was only the time we were leaving, the sun beckoned us. However, Melbourne got tired of the sun and let it pour again. We watched from inside the airport while sharing a bowl of hot chips, chatting excitedly about the trip we were about to take.
I picked up a book from the airport with every intention of reading it – “50 Shades of Grey” – my curiosity piqued from the hype I had been hearing. Mommy porn, they called it.
I wondered if I was game enough to read it in public. One peek into the book while waiting for take-off, and I relinquished it into my bag with the promise that this would be pool-side reading. Later I would read it in one sitting, equally horrified and can’t-look-away at the writing.
Sri-Lanka was hot. Even at midnight, from when we arrived, the heat engulfed us like a warm blanket. My hair immediately boofed in the humidity. It reminded me of India, of stepping into Bombay those years ago when I arrived to do my wedding shopping. I remembered the heat and the sudden downpour that followed as we walked to our car. It felt so much like home.
We had booked a driver to take us to, the hotel – a mere 15 minute ride, but with the onslaught of random strangers yelling to us “Taxi??! Madam – taxi?!”, it felt more comfortable to go with a stranger we had booked and were only meeting for the the first time that night. Haha – even then, it wasn’t the driver we had originally booked – but his brother, Lionel, with whom Evs, delighted to be home in his own birth country for the the first time in over 20 years, attempted to have a conversation in broken English. Actually, it wasn’t even his real brother, but who could be bothered with details like that?
“Where are you from?” Evs asked to Lionel.
I didn’t hear his answer. I was distracted by looking out the window. I couldn’t help again but compare it to India to those moments when I arrived there. It had been late at night then as well, but from the amount of people on the streets and the lights, it felt like it there was no intention of ever sleeping. Negombo, was a small beach town – made famous due to its proximity to the airport, laid-back lifestyle and way of easing people into Sri-Lanka.
As we drove along, I noticed random lit-up areas dotted along the roads. A closer look revealed them to be roadside altars. I smiled as I recognised some Hindu gods and then again when others were of the Virgin Mary and Buddha. There was no discrimination here – devotion was normal and all forms were accepted.
It was after 1am when we finally arrived at the hotel. Evs had booked the Jetwing Beach hotel – part of a chain of resorts owned by Jetwing with three of their hotels in a row on the same street. Clearly they were popular.
Like any good sub-tropical country we were attacked by mosquitos and by the time we got got to our room, I had been bitten several times. It was the one thing that I was going to be really determined on and after a hot shower, I slathered on the insect repellent cream. My body and mind were exhausted (given that it was about 5:30am in Melbourne!) and we crashed onto the soft pillows, glad to be here –finally.
Now that I am firmly back into everyday life (seriously – think back to back meetings on a Monday morning when I was struggling to stay awake and try remember what the hell the issue was from three weeks ago!), the memories of my trip to Sri-Lanka are the only thing keeping me warm during these cold, cold days and nights.
It’s SO COLD.
I did blog throughout my trip when I got the chance (kinda started out enthusiastically and then died a little day by day as I got distracted by many things), and will post a few of my recaps in the coming weeks once Evs gets all the photos done up properly (don’t get in-between a man and his post-processing. Seriously – don’t.)
Some of these pics you might have seen if you follow me on Instagram but I like them, so here they are again.
Here are the top things I learnt while I was on holiday:
You will ALWAYS overpack. And realise that you could have very well survived on the same rotation of t-shirts and shorts and you never wore the cute summer dresses except in a last mad panic at the end of the trip. You will regret not bringing more underwear.
Following from that – you will realise how versatile black skinny jeans are and surprisingly wear them a fair bit even in the hot, humidy weather of Colombo. You will not care about the size of your ass because NOBODY cares about the size of your ass in Sri-Lanka. They are too busy dodging traffic, taking their pet cow for a walk or really just watching life go by.
The phrase “Ok, sir” complete with slight head shake will become the go-to saying of the trip. Everything is “OK” and you can’t help but smile at everyone’s optimism.
You will not get a decent cup of coffee anywhere in Sri-Lanka even when they boast they have Italian espresso on the menu and you will resign yourself to that (but not before trying many versions). You will discover the beauty that is tea and even now (don’t hate me Melbourne) sometimes prefer a cup of black tea to a latte. Eek.
You will realise that “rice and curry” for every meal is perfectly acceptable. And that despite you thinking it all looks and tastes the same – it isn’t. You will also have the best breakfast of your trip being a traditional Sri-Lankan one of string hoppers, egg curry and coconut sambol that beats hands down the croissants and eggs provided at most places.
You will not give much of a fuck to calories, sugar and exercise. You ARE on holiday after all. However, you will come back a few kilos lighter somehow and realise that it was due to (despite your diet of cocktails and carbs) because you were moving a lot more and eating a lot less. Simple, really.
You will learn to navigate yourself around the streets of Colombo in a tuk-tuk almost as well as the locals and even catch a driver trying to jib you through a dodgy meter. The pride you will feel at doing this while pretending to have tuk-tuk races with other drivers will only be slightly diminished by the fact that you are breathing in everyone else’s pollution.
Walking up the steepest hill you have ever encountered in your whole life to get to your guesthouse in Ella MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY (because you know, you have to stumble back somehow after drinking at the bar) will make you curse (which will frighten the locals) and will strengthen your quads. Now the terrifying hill in your neighbourhood is easy (took the dogs for a walk last night and did not feel out of breath once. Booya!)
It will be perfectly fine to forget your swimmers on the one full day you spend at the beach and go into the water in your t-shirt and shorts. Improvisation (despite the sand in places you never want sand!) will be much to be proud of.
You will be pleasantly surprised to see how much spirituality and peace there is in Sri-Lanka – all religions seem to co-exist peacefully and you start to get a little interested in Buddhism.
You will miss your doggies so much that you will gravitate towards every street dog and cat there is despite Evs’ disapproval. However you will come across pet dogs at most of the places you stay at (including a massive German Shepherd called Toby) and make friends with naughtiest, cutest girl-puppy ever that just wanted to bite and chew everything on you (including your nose).
Getting sick on holiday is never fun but you will come to know that anything said in the delirium of a gripping fever is not to be taken seriously. Even when you beg your husband “to have your babies”. (Which will in turn scare him and then cause you to end up in hospital for a few hours to ensure it isn’t dengue fever)
You will stay in resorts, swanky boutique hotels, guesthouses and even someone’s home and you will learn that it is the smaller places that you enjoyed the most. However, the feeling of a good, hot shower is never to be underestimated and you will search for that throughout the trip until you find it in Galle.
It is perfectly ok to buy more books than souvenirs and gifts. You will resort to stuffing them wherever you can (since you overpacked) and will feel no shame in walking around holding your copy of “50 Shades of Grey” with the sequel peeking out of your bag.
You will regret not buying the natural Ayurvedic hair removal cream for $99 because it promised that it would keep hair away for TWO AND A HALF YEARS and you thought it was too expensive. However the pain to shave every few days and OMFG itchiness in the heat will make you wish you changed your mind. Plus – the sample tried on Evs’ forearm is still hairless. Impressed.
Speaking of hair – you will give up on yours and let it be au naturale – all wavy and wild and free. Any attempt at taming it will be thwarted by the humidity, heat and rain.
You will not hesitate to use a random pineapple-stall owner’s hole-in-the-ground toilet in the middle of your 3 hour car journey because when you gotta go, you gotta go.
You will realise that Sri-Lanka, despite your misgivings that it would be the same as India – is completely different and charming in a way that you never expected. You will miss it – the heat, the people, the food and the country and start to look for ways of getting back there again (there’s a Dilmah competition where you can win a trip to Lanka. Tempted.)