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.
Hi all! It’s been another tumultuous week and I’m glad to have seen the back of it at last.
I’ve been feeling more and more I need some time away – it’s that all too-familiar feeling of fatigue and burning-outedness that has me dreaming of far off lands and sunshine. It doesn’t help that I have been spending time helping a friend plan for her trip to Sri Lanka at the end of the year or that my Facebook feed is full of people enjoying themselves in far off lands and sunshine.
But, I plan to make the most of my weekend with a mini-staycation.
Sleep in late.
Lazy coffees and big breakfasts.
Walks and bike rides in the fleeting sun.
Paint my nails in a new-to-me colour.
Afternoon naps with my favourite music softly in the background.
Time on the couch with loved ones and hands wrapped around cups of hot masala tea.
I can make this happen.
I hope you all get some time for a little R&R as well. Here are my picks for the week to help you get in the mood as well:
I love reading the keynote speeches from university graduations in the US. They get some seriously inspiring people and this one is no exception. “The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can”. I loved this.
It’s the typical working mother vs. SAHM mother debate. I really hate all the judgement that comes with motherhood and pregnancy and it makes me slightly anxious for when I have kids on my own. But even though I don’t know what kind of choice I would make, I don’t quite agree that women who do choose to stay at home are simply ‘wired that way’. Again, the comments on the article are a hoot.
Have you ever been frozen at the supermarket when doing your grocery shopping, surrounded by decisions and all you really ever wanted to do was be a good person? Here’s a hilarious article on the dilemmas of an ethical diner.
For some fun in your life. The comments on this ‘recipe’ are hilarious. ‘Nuff said.
For those who are lucky enough to live near a beach or just want to get in some fitness while on holiday in a tropical paradise – here’s a helpful article from the New York Times that describes some of the challenges and tips to help you run on the beach. Here’s another blog post that has some tips too.
What is one word that is guaranteed to get women divided without even saying anything else? Feminism. I’ve heard it all – women who are afraid of the label because it somehow makes them look like militant bra-burning man-haters, women who acknowledge what it has done, reject the word feminist (usually because of what others might think of them) and then call themselves ‘humanists’ and women who say they don’t hate men. Here’s the thing – neither do I. But I call myself a proud feminist. And I want to know – why aren’t you?
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.