Saturday, February 28, 2015

Phillip Island

I spent a couple of days in a resort at San Remo this week attending a leadership induction. The actual event started on Monday and ran until Tuesday but the University offered to pay for an extra night's accommodation on Sunday because of the early Monday morning start.

So...Nathan and the dog decided to come along for an outing on the Sunday. We got to San Remo by noon, just in time for fish and chips by the water.

Afterwards, we went over to Phillip Island to try to take the dog for a walk on the beach. It turns out that at this time of the year a lot of the beaches did not allow dogs so we decided to drive over to Inverloch instead to visit Nathan's grandma, where we gorged on cheese scones (Nathan ate six!).

Nathan and the dog dropped me off back at the resort in the evening before heading back to Melbourne. I was still full from lunch and scones so decided to skip dinner.

Over the following two days, I attended the induction and got to meet lots of interesting folks from across the University. We each had to do a psychology test beforehand to work out our leadership styles and went through the results with the Facilitator during the induction. I found out that I had traits that were (1) rare in leadership roles and (2) rare in males. Great. I'm a freak and out of my depth. I also found out I'm not a workplace narcissist. Thank God for that.

The induction was actually very helpful and it turns out I'll get access to some one-on-one coaching sessions during the year as well to help me in my new role.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

why I'm feeling a bit stiff and sore this weekend...

Apart from my abseiling adventure, I also went hiking (we had to get a stretcher with a raw egg up a mountain) and white water rafting with undergrad students...

my fuukiran

I picked up my latest ebay purchase from the post office today - a fuukiran or wind orchid (Neofinetia falcata).

The wind orchid is native to East Asia and is believed to have been cultivated by the Japanese since the 1600s. The flowers are sweetly scented (a bit like jasmine). The plants were grown by the wealthy and the powerful, and samurai would help scour the mountain side in search of the plants.

There is an etiquette to admiring fuukiran. Traditionally, f you're a commoner, you can forget about it. The plants were strictly for the rich and noble (sorry Nathan). For everyone else, you'd need a piece of calligraphy paper to cover your mouth so you don't breathe on your plant when you're looking at it up close.

Friday, February 20, 2015

conquering fears

Today I had the opportunity to make amends for all the times I had let fear hold me back. Today I went abseiling.

When I was younger, the idea of stepping backwards over a cliff was absolutely terrifying to me. I skipped out on every chance I was given to abseil when I was at School, beginning from year 8 camp.  Now, as an adult, the idea of abseiling didn't seem anywhere near as bad. I'm not exactly sure why.

I was reflecting on this as I lowered myself over the precipice, how fearless I actually was feeling. Maybe it was me letting go. Catharsis. I didn't give a shit anymore. I'm no longer scared. I'm no longer afraid of being who I am.

Halfway down the cliff, I look up at the instructor. "You must be really enjoying it", he said, "You've got a big smile on your face."

Saturday, February 14, 2015


It was too hot for a soupy lunch at my favourite Vietnamese restaurant yesterday, so I ordered this instead (pork chop with broken rice)...

Perth bound

One of the aboriginal paintings I own is going back to Western be part of an art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. I'm very excited. The curator came over to Melbourne to check out the piece (and several other pieces owned by other collectors) and decided they would like to borrow it. I told them they can have it for as long as they like because I have no wall space to hang it (it's currently sitting on the floor in my office). Unfortunately the exhibition opening will take place when I am overseas but the exhibition will go for 4 months so it might give me a good excuse to go to WA for a holiday to see the painting in the gallery.

out of office friday

I've been working a lot out of the office lately. It's grant-writing season, the time of year when researchers are busy putting together proposals for funding from Australia's major national competitive research scheme, The Australian Research Council. It can be a stressful time of year.

My solution? Get out of the office. Yesterday (as I have been doing almost every week since the start of the year), I spent a day writing in a cafe. This has become one of my favourite spots...Rowena Parade Corner Store in Richmond. I love the courtyard at the back – and their milkshakes (brain food....not). The owner has threatened to charge me for electricity usage. I told him I'm leaving his staff a good tip.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday flowers

South African proteas from the South Melbourne markets. These flowers are huge...

cushion crush

Ok, I have to admit I am slightly totally obsessed with cushions. And these new sea anemone inspired designs from Marimekko are too beautiful to resist. On our way home from brunch today, Nathan and I made a quick stop over at South Yarra, and I ended up buying myself some of these beauties for the couch. So pretty.

pho in Carnegie

Nathan and I made our way to Carnegie to meet up with my European collaborator and his girlfriend for brunch (they are staying nearby for the next month or so). I had no idea that there were so many fantastic restaurants surrounding the station. We didn't have a specific cafe or cuisine in mind but couldn't resist stopping into a vietnamese restaurant for pho. It was pretty darn good too. The stock was full of flavour. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday lunch

...a Thai green curry chicken paired with the juice from a coconut I managed to open up all by myself (with the aid of my seriously kick arse meat cleaver)!


I went up to Sydney on Wednesday to meet up with a colleague who is here from Europe for two months. We spent a couple of days hanging out (and doing some work in cafes) before taking the train back to Melbourne on Friday. I had never done the trip between Sydney and Melbourne by train so I thought it'd be nice to give it a go. For the most part, it was quite a pleasant (albeit long) 11 hour journey. I even enjoyed the meal I ordered (a spinach and ricotta cannelloni).

I remember a train trip when I was a kid between Sydney and Canberra. Back then, smoking was still allowed in designated carriages and I recall ending up in a smoking carriage (I think all the non smoking carriages were full) and, at some point during the trip, I had to use the curtain next to my window seat as a mask to try to filter out the smoke.