Saturday, May 30, 2015

Boston bound...

Well, not quite.

Got onto the plane, waited 40 minutes, and then had to get off again.

It seems that an A380 is just like any other electronic device...if first it doesn't work, try switching it off and on again.

Next, if that doesn't solve your problem, get everyone off the plane and call in the engineers.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Two days at Mornington

I spent the last two days at a work retreat on the Mornington Peninsula. It was rewarding but also mentally exhausting. We had a facilitator to help us through the strategic planning and to help us come up with the big ideas. There were a lot of break out sessions, writing ideas onto post-it notes, and making things with pipe cleaners.

A few of my colleagues were sick with the cold and I was trying to steer clear from them as I'm heading off on my overseas trip tomorrow – and the last thing I want at this stage is to get sick. I'm not sure if I suceeded (you can't tell someone to bugger off when they are sitting next to you at breakfast).

I woke up this morning with a tingle in my throat. Hopefully I haven't caught something at the retreat. That would not be good.

Nathan went to Adelaide today so we had to put Truffles into a pet hotel this morning. I have taken the day off work so I could clean the apartment, organise all my stuff and get my packing done.

I feel very organised this time around. I even managed to work through most of my readings for my course in Boston and to complete the assignments (I will easily be able to polish off the rest when I am waiting at LAX for my connecting flight).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Holy Velociraptor!

This movie appeals to my inner palaeontologist.

Bits and bobs

I had some errands to run today in preparation for the trip. There were prescriptions that needed to be filled and foreign currencies that needed to be purchased.

By the time I had finished, it was already midday so Nathan and I decided to head into the city for lunch.

We settled on yum cha on Bourke Street at Shanghai Dynasty, which has the most garish decor of any restaurant I have ever seen.

I couldn't resist the beef offal stew, which contains tendons, tripe, and lungs. Nathan thought it was disgusting (says the guy who was happily munching on the braised chicken feet).

Playing tourist

I was hosting a colleague from Sydney this week. He had never been to Melbourne before so I decided to take a day off work to show him around on Thursday. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't terrific but at least there was no rain.

We began our tour of Melbourne with a tram ride to Sonido on Gertrude Street for a South American breakfast. I had the arepa con huevo accompanied by a nice cup of hot chocolate.

After brekky, we walked along Brunswick Street, before cutting across to the Carlton Gardens so that I could show him the Royal Exhibition Building and the Museum (Because we are scientists, I made sure to point out the research spaces of the Museum from street level). We then continued onto Lygon Street and then The University of Melbourne, where we hopped onto a 16 tram to St Kilda.

When we got to St Kilda, we strolled down to the breakwater to try to look for penguins and water rats. We didn't see any. We walked back up to Carlisle Street and over to Chapel, where we hopped onto another tram and made our way to Victoria Street in Richmond.

My colleague's wife is Vietnamese Canadian and both he and she had travelled widely throughout Vietnam. He had a craving for bun bo hue so we went to Co Do, which specialises in the dish. The restaurant is reputed to serve the best bun bo hue in Melbourne (at least according to a Vietnamese lesbian I once met). My colleague said it was good and comparable to what he had in Vietnam. I was pleased.

After lunch, we took the 109 tram back into the city. We caught the tram from the dodgy street corner opposite the Minh Phat grocery carpark, which seems to be a haven for drug dealers. There were plenty of sketchy people out that day so my visitor got to see the slightly seedy side of Melbourne (I should have told him not to stare though).

We got off the tram on Collins Street, walked down to Hosier Lane to check out the beautiful street art, before heading over to Fed Square. My colleague needed to get to Geelong for a meeting but we had plenty of time so we decided to walk to Southern Cross Station along the Yarra. By mid afternoon, the sightseeing tour was over. I said goodbye to my visitor at the station and headed home.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I started preparing my assignments this week for my upcoming leadership course at Harvard. Bloody hell. It's actually a lot of work. Each case study is taking me a good two hours to complete...and I have quite many I need to read and prepare for. Luckily I decided not to leave it all for the plane trip (not that I ever do any work on planes). I am starting to get both excited and intimidated about the course. I'm looking forward to going back to Boston though I don't think I will see much of the city based on the busy course schedule. It will run for a week and then I will be off to visit my old landlady in Woods Hole before flying out to Europe.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stupid me getting ahead of myself

I thought I'd be organised for a change and book my train tickets from London to the University of Exeter for a meeting in June. The University of Exeter has multiple campuses and I assumed the meeting would be at the Cornwall campus because the people hosting the meeting are based there. Well, silly me. I was wrong. The meeting will be in Devon. Ooops. The tickets are non-refundable. Lesson learnt.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Dinner at the airport

My aunt was passing through Melbourne on her way to Tokyo last night. She used to work for Qantas and is still entitled to staff travel. She pays a fraction of what I'd have to pay but her standby tickets do cause some anxiety and uncertainty. Hence, she was not sure whether she'd be flying via Sydney or Melbourne until Sunday morning.

Nathan and I met her at the airport for dinner. Dinner options are rather limited and I worried we'd be getting fast food until Nathan suggested I explore the restaurant offering at the airport Park Royal Hotel. It turned out to be surprisingly good.

We had a nice two course meal and a lovely catch up with my aunt, before seeing her off on her flight to Tokyo.

As we were driving back to the city, I was thinking I might be tempted to go back to the airport for another fancy meal...if only the car park didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


I was on my way to the Penny Black yesterday afternoon for birthday drinks, and I couldn't help but pop into my favourite plant/pot/ceramics/japanese shop, Mr Kitly. I ended up with another teapot.

Latest acquisition

This one went straight to the office. Nathan finds it completely disturbing and can't even bear to look at it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Kyneton, Daylesford and Ballarat

I had the day off yesterday so Nathan and I decided to go on a road trip.

We headed to the delightful township of Kyneton for lunch. We went to a fancy restaurant called Annie Smithers Bistrot, which I had discovered on the internet (I have no idea what a 'bistrot' is but I assume it's the same as a bistro but more fancy sounding).

The food was amazing. I particularly liked my confit duck leg, which was cooked to perfection.
Nathan enjoyed his over-the-top-decadent chocolate dessert. He ate everything except the flowers.
After lunch, we went to The Stockroom, which was a short walk away from the restaurant. It was recommended to us by the waitress and it was indeed an excellent recommendation (she must durect every gay customer there). The shop was filled with all kinds of cool stuff, from clothes to vintage toy planes. 
There was an art exhibition on in one of their side rooms by Melbourne-based artist Nicholas Ives. I particularly liked this little canvas, which reminded me of a Dr Suess landscape. Sadly, it was already sold. 

Nathan ended up buying a vintage camera, which I think he broke before even paying for it (based on the sound it made when he was trying to help the sales attendant wrap it up).

By mid afternoon, we decided we'd had enough of Kyneton and drove to Daylesford for a wander around. Since it was Daylesford, it was inevitable that we'd end up going to the Mill's Market, which can best be described as a giant trash and treasure shop. It is probably more trash than treasure but I did see a few thinks I liked (nothing that I absolutely had to buy and couldn't live without though).

Our road trip then took us to Ballarat – and dinner at the Craig's Royal Hotel. The hotel is so named because royalty had once stayed there (otherwise, I guess it would have just been called Craig's Hotel, which doesn't quite have the same ring to it).

Still full from the Kyneton lunch, we settled for a more modest two course dinner and decided to skip dessert so we can get back to Melbourne at a reasonable enough time not to piss off the dog (who was left at home on her own for the day).

Monday, May 11, 2015

The joys of air travel

It's only a few weeks before I embark on my work trip to the US and Europe. I am flying business class for most of the trip after I managed to get approval from my boss. I can't wait. I've been checking out the different airlines and what kinds of business class service they have on offer, from the quality of the flat beds to the food to the service I can expect in the airline lounges in LA, Boston, London, Helsinki and Singapore. I've selected most of my seats already after first checking out seat guru. Nathan reckons I am more excited by the flights than the actual work. He's correct.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pine mushrooms

It might seem like I'm obsessed with mushrooms at the moment – and that's probably because I am. It is Autumn after all (and the only good thing to come out of the damp weather).

I came across these beauties at the South Melbourne Markets yesterday. They are pine mushrooms and they are a beautiful bright orange (my crappy computer camera doesn't do them any justice). They are also super tasty. I cooked them up for brekky this morning.

I've seen these mushrooms before but did not fully appreciate their culinary qualities. My folks live near a pine forest in Canberra and I remember seeing old (European) ladies foraging for them many years ago when I was walking through the forest trails. Now I wish I was back in Canberra so I can go looking for them.

Saturday flowers

Well, actually, they were last Friday's flowers but these unusual grey coloured banksias are very long lasting (paired with the even longer lasting gumnuts from three weeks ago).

Dog versus bull

Nathan and I took the dog to the farm for a run around last weekend. Truffs was quite intrigued by the livestock.