Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hong Kong part one

Mr & Miss R - Cafe Deco at Victoria Peak
Our trip to Hong Kong was definitely action packed.  After flying in last Wednesday night, we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel and then had dinner at Cafe Deco with Stephanie at Victoria Peak.  The views were fabulous and we caught The Peak Tram (cable car) back down the Peak, which was a lot of fun, followed by a double decker tram ride back to our hotel.  After dealing with volcanic ash flying out of Melbourne, we also had to contend with a category 3 typhoon coming into Hong Kong.  Luckily it went away the next day.
Victoria Park - Causeway Bay
I loved waking up the next morning and looking out over Victoria Park opposite our hotel in Causeway Bay where you could see eagles flying overhead and people practising martial arts before the weather got too hot.  It's the largest patch of green on Hong Kong island and Mr Rosanna and I even managed a run (albeit a very hot one) in the park while we were there.
I also loved catching the double decker trams that run along Hong Kong island as well as the Star Ferry from the island to the Kowloon mainland.  There's something very quaint about old school transportation.  We didn't have time to sail around the harbour in a Chinese junk but that would have also been fabulous.  Public transport in Hong Kong puts Melbourne to shame - the MTR train system is amazingly fast, safe, clean and efficient - trains run every 4 minutes on all lines and are never, ever late.  You also use the one card (Octopus card) on all forms of transport - trams, trains, ferries and buses.  You can even use Octopus cards to buy groceries at shops like 7-11.

We spent our first day in Hong Kong shopping in Causeway Bay - the prices and brands are comparable to Melbourne so we didn't really pick up a lot of bargains.  I did buy one special piece from Shanghai Tang (the main store in Central is housed in a beautiful Art Deco building), discovered a great local brand called Initial, plus bought a gorgeous hand painted snuff bottle from Chinese Arts & Crafts.
That evening we met up with Stephanie after work and went to Lan Kwai Fong for a drink where all the groovy hole in the wall type bars are located off little lane ways (very similar to Melbourne).  We then went across to the mainland to the Temple Street night market (which seemed to sell a vast array of marital aids and 'sexy' underwear) in Tsim Sha Tsui where Stephanie took us to a local restaurant and we sampled frogs legs with bitter melon and black bean (tastes like chicken), some kind of boneless fish on a stick (yummy!) and drinking beer from a bowl which apparently is a local custom.  Interesting...

We did a day tour of Lantau Island the next day which was a real highlight.  Hong Kong airport is located on Lantau Island as well as the Tian Tan Buddha - the second tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha in the world.  On the way to the Buddha, we checked out the two huge suspension bridges recently built in Hong Kong, dipped our feet in the South China sea and visited one of the last fishing villages in Hong Kong called Tai-O.

We finally got to the Buddha and for me, it was a special trip, probably all the more meaningful because I've been quite influenced by Buddhism over the past 10 years.  And the Buddha itself was incredibly beautiful.  We had a vegetarian lunch at the Po Lin monastery and from there caught the Ngong Ping cable car all the way down to Tung Chung (where Stephanie lives).  That was also a real highlight as it hadn't been built when I last visited.

After our tour finished, we said goodbye to our fellow travellers and then went to Stephanie's apartment where Mr Rosanna and I actually chilled out by the pool for a couple of hours in the late afternoon sunshine.  It was definitely an eye-opener when you see how the locals and ex-pats live in high-rise apartments with their Phillipino or Indonesian female helpers to look after the kids and do all the housework.  It is a different life, I'm not sure that it's necessarily better, just very different to life here in Melbourne where so much of what we do is very hands-on.
Stephanie's apartment complex
Stephanie took us and her family to another local hole in the wall seafood restaurant that night and it was one of the best meals I've ever had.  Probably all the more delicious given Mr R and I did an incredible amount of walking in the time we were there and were ravenous most of the time!  Seriously, while the interior was extremely basic - the food was amazing.  We loved it and had a great time going somewhere most westerners wouldn't even know existed, let alone visit.
Tung Chung, Lantau Island
After our meal, we went to Discovery Bay - another area on Lantau Island where many ex-pats live due to the relatively low-rise apartments (three or four storey), very stylish piazza and pier lined with waterfront restaurants lit up at night with fairy lights - it was all quite lovely and peaceful.  Hong Kong Disneyland is also in Discovery Bay so it's a great location for a family holiday.  Mr Rosanna and I then caught a larger ferry all the way back to Hong Kong island.  More on the second half of our travels in tomorrow's post

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hong Kong Express

Stephanie and Miss Rosanna - Hutong dinner
Well Mr Rosanna and I are safely back in Rosanna - arrived back home seriously jet-lagged yesterday morning and he's unfortunately come down with a bug today and still in bed.  We also lost half a day (and our lunch at Lung King Heen!) after our flight was cancelled (long story but we missed the 10 minute window to safely board our plane with the volcanic ash due to one passenger which meant 400 very unhappy people had to get off the plane and go home instead).  Luckily we flew out the very next morning.

Nonetheless - we had a fantastic time away even if it all feels a little surreal today.  Given all we managed to do, it was like being on 'Race around Hong Kong' - on steroids.  I'll post our pics later this week as Mr Rosanna had his digital SLR with him and took some great shots.  There were a lot of highlights (and some lowlights as well) - too many to mention in this post suffice to say it's definitely a place worth visiting in your lifetime although I wouldn't go with really young kids.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hong Kong here we come!

The best laid plans...

Waiting to hear whether Mr Rosanna and I will even be able to get on a plane and leave Melbourne tonight for Hong Kong.  And then Stephanie's warned me there's a typhoon on it's way there!  The weather gods are not smiling on me at the moment but it's not the end of the world.  Hopefully we will make it there and I'll be enjoying myself no matter what the weather!

Stay tuned...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Home beautiful

Harold Desbrowe-Annear Chadwick house image via
I've mentioned my love of all things Art Deco before and I've been interested in art and design for a long time now.  I'm hoping to see the Vienna: Art & Design exhibition at the NGV over the winter and I never tire of looking at beautiful houses and interiors whatever style they are.

Before Art Deco, there was another movement known as Arts and Crafts.  One of the greatest exponents of this was local architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear who built three houses in the Arts and Crafts style in The Eyrie in Eaglemont.  If you're interested in having a look at these, the Harold Desbrowe-Annear open day is being held this Sunday 26 June from 10 am - 4 pm.  Tickets must be bought in advance from the Robyn Boyd Foundation.

I also read with great interest an article about Melbourne entrepreneur Michelle Matthews (who created the 'Deck of Secrets' cards) and Helena Nordberg-Hodge (an Australian-based 'localisation' crusader) the other week.  It was all about a new documentary called 'Economics of Happiness' produced by Helena Nordberg-Hodge.  It is also screening tonight at Rancho Notorious, 361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.  Bookings here.  Tickets are $10.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Local profile - Vicky Woodman

I mentioned one of my funky hairdressers Vicky the other week.  Did I also mention she's fit as well?  And I mean seriously fit (as in marathon fit).  Vicky's already completed the Melbourne Marathon once before and has her eyes set on the New York Marathon in the future.  Speaking of which, did I tell you about the time her husband Nigel gave her a leave pass to go to New York while he looked after the kids?  Man... I want a husband like that.
Name: Vicky Woodman 
Occupation: Hairdresser
Lives/works:  I live in Balwyn and work in Ivanhoe East
How long have you lived/worked here? I have lived in Balwyn for 18 months and worked in Ivanhoe East for 11 years.

Describe yourself/what you do:  I have a great work/life balance.  I'm self employed and work three days a week as a hairdresser at Wicked Hair and Beauty in Ivanhoe East.  I love my work and have been passionate about hairdressing since I was a young girl.  As rewarding as the creative aspects of my work are, it's the wonderful people I have met along the way, that make my job so much fun.  Many of these friendships have spanned my 19 year career.

I am also a mother of two beautiful young boys aged 5 and 3.  My husband started his own engineering consultancy 10 years ago and I also assist him with its day to day operations.  When we manage to find time to take a break we enjoy camping, fishing and sailing.  When I'm not working and chasing after children, I enjoy running and have registered for the Melbourne Marathon in October.

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east:
East Ivanhoe Village is a wonderful community supported by the traders and local families.  The surrounding area also has some great schools.  The parks, running tracks and great cycling in the area really suit our lifestyle.  Melbourne's north-east offers great strip shopping and an abundance of cafes and great restaurants. My family and I often frequent Toyama Japanese Restaurant in Ivanhoe and Tao's Restaurant in Bulleen.

For more information:

Wicked Hair and Beauty
243 Lower Heidelberg Road
Ivanhoe East VIC 3079
Ph: 9499 3199

PS.  As of 20/6/12 - Wicked Hair & Beauty has re-located to 97 Willsmere Rd, Kew (opposite Ora cafe) Ph: 9855 2090

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green thumbs

La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary
Mr Rosanna's aunty Leah is a talented painter and a gardener.  She's also into indigenous plants in a big way and has recently landscaped her own garden.  If you're a Banyule resident you can actually receive a buy-one-get-one-free voucher for an indigenous plant from the council's Land Care officer - email to receive your voucher.

There is also an indigenous plant nursery (which has just had a facelift) at the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary run by La Trobe University in Bundoora.  The nursery is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 10 am - 3 pm.  Speaking of gardening, Montsalvat in Eltham is looking for a part-time gardener/handyperson for those of you with green thumbs - would be a lovely place to work.  The 2011 Nillumbik Prize also launches tonight at Montsalvat.  This exhibition showcases the works of local artists and offers a non acquisitive prize of $5000 for a work of excellence in any media.  There is also a people's choice prize of $500 which will be awarded at the end of the exhibition.

Nb. Miss Rosanna is a freelance copywriter for La Trobe University

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The great outdoors

Metroscope outdoor setting
I went out to a party on Saturday night which was held at the Box Hill Community Arts Centre.  It's a great venue if you are looking for somewhere to hold a special do of some kind.  There's car parking across the road, a huge dance floor/stage area plus a more intimate cafe room with fireplace and kitchen.  They do kick you out early though - think there is an 11pm curfew.

I stopped in briefly at The Greenery garden centre that afternoon to pick up an orchid plant as a present.  It is a little on the ex-y side but it is one of my favourite nurseries.  I've been to Bulleen Art & Garden too before which is a bit more hippy.  Mr R likes them because they have free trailer hire, their own trucks which will deliver to you and they are a bit cheaper. 

Before we even moved to our place in Rosanna, Mr R decided he wanted some kick ass outdoor furniture and BBQ so we spent a small fortune at Ray's Outdoors in Preston on a Jensen Jarrah setting and Beefeater barbeque which is his pride and joy.  Jarrah is lovely but I didn't realise it needs to be stained every year!  Between that and the time I may go a tiled setting instead.  I'd love to get a Morrocan table from Metroscope and there is also a great shop called Ellis Outdoor on Whitehorse Road in Balwyn which sells beautiful outdoor settings - more on plants and nurseries tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A fragrant harbour awaits...

Mr & Miss R - Hoi An, Vietnam
Mr Rosanna and I last went overseas 7 years ago on our honeymoon in Vietnam.  While we had a great time trekking north to south over a month, it wasn't the most relaxing of choices.  We seem to be making a habit of choosing excitement over calm.  My birthday is looming next month and I made the decision a little while ago to go to Hong Kong in lieu of a party.  I think anyone with young kids knows what a hard slog it can sometimes be so this is one long awaited, much anticipated holiday of 5 days away from the kids - a second honeymoon of sorts.  And unlike Vietnam where we had nothing booked until we got there, I've planned this trip like a military operation to maximise our time there (volcanic ash go away).
Sapa, Vietnam
When I first went to Hong Kong I was in my twenties travelling with one of my best friends, Celestina, on the way to Europe and I think we mostly shopped and hung out at cafes and bars.  This time around I'd like to do a lot more sightseeing and cultural stuff like visiting Victoria Peak and the Big Buddha (again) as well as going to the Temple Street night market and Hong Kong Museum of Art.  I'd also like to visit Wan Chai and walk along Hollywood Road from Central to Sheung Wan.  If we had the kids, I'd go to Stanley and Aberdeen as well as Lantau and Lamma islands.
Celestina & me - Lantau Island
My friend Stephanie lives there and local knowledge is always such a bonus.  For instance, while we're staying in Causeway Bay (which is the shopping mecca) on Hong Kong island, she's advised us to shop during the week instead of the weekend when the local crowds converge.
Hong Kong
Hong Kong has been dubbed 'the New York of Asia' and it truly is a world class city.  I can still vividly remember flying in last time I was there - it has an amazing energy about it and the vibe (and humidity) in the air is palpable - it blew my mind.  On my list of places to go are Hullett House and Hutong.  Both are owned by the Aqua Group headed up by ex-lawyer turned entrepreneur David Teo.  I also want to visit Asian department store Shanghai Tang created by Sir David Tang.  These incredibly stylish places are great examples of 'East meets West' with a touch of old Hong Kong/Shanghai about them.  We will also pop into the Peninsula Hotel and are booked for lunch at Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons Hotel - the only restaurant in Hong Kong to be awarded three Michelin stars.  One week to go!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Local profile - Samantha Greenwood

One of the most inspiring things about writing my local profiles is meeting people who have found their passion, purpose and talent in life and then actually had the courage of conviction to pursue their dream and make it a reality.  Samantha Greenwood is one of those people.

Name: Samantha Greenwood
Occupation: Kindergarten Director/Teacher
Lives/works: Lives in Diamond Creek, works in Viewbank
How long have you lived/worked here?  I have lived in Diamond Creek for 8 years and worked at Winston Hills pre-school for 6 months.

Describe yourself/what you do:
I got my degree in Early Childhood Education in the USA and then came back to Australia and worked in the music industry for years - go figure!  I sing and play guitar and have performed all over Australia and on TV (Good Morning Australia, Midday Show, Hey, Hey it's Saturday).

Throughout my life I have always had a passion for working with children, specifically play-based, creative expression in an early learning environment.  There is nothing more magical than facilitating opportunities for a child to explore and find confidence in themselves through creative and joyous activity.  This is the passion in my life and what I was born to do.

Best thing about living/working in Melbourne's north-east: I have lived on the east coast of the USA, Los Angeles, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Katherine and in the riverland of South Australia, and have decided that Melbourne's north-east is without a doubt the best place to live in the world.  It offers the perfect balance of country and city life and is made up of a close, diverse and creative population.

For more information:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hair and there

La Biosthetique hair image
One of my longest term relationships has been with my hairdresser Melinda and her colleague Vicky.  It must be close to 20 years now.  I followed Mel when she left her job in Hawthorn and opened Wicked Hair and Beauty in East Ivanhoe Village and I have been going there ever since.  We now have 7 boys between the three of us.  Mel and Vicky are two of the funkiest people I know (plus my best friend Jules who is a fashion buyer).

There are heaps of hair salons in Ivanhoe and East Ivanhoe.  Nan goes across the road from Wicked Hair and Beauty to MK's Hair Studio while other family and friends go to Zucci (which is an Aveda salon) on Upper Heidelberg Road in Ivanhoe.

Two of my fellow kinder mums are also talented hairdressers.  Leasa runs Birdie Hair and Beauty in Lower Templestowe while Kim has a home salon in Viewbank (and does makeup as well) and will also come to you if that's easier.  She can be contacted on 0408 535 270.  I get Thomas and Will's hair cut by the gorgeous Debbie at Dacia Hair in Rosanna.  She is just fantastic with kids and my boys look forward to getting their hair cut with her every time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An idea for you

There are a couple of public lectures on this Thursday and Friday afternoon at LUMA - the La Trobe University Museum of Modern Art.

The first on Thursday is Indian Photo and Media Art: A Journey of Discovery.  Pushpamala N is a renowned photo and video performance artist based in Bangalore. In this lecture, she will introduce her artistic practice spanning a wide range of international performances and exhibitions.  The lecture will be followed by light refreshments with the artist and LUMA staff.

On Friday, LUMA Curator Ryan Johnston will provide an overview of their current exhibition, Vernacular Cultures and Contemporary Art from Australia, India and the Philippines.  This will be followed by a performance by art-rock band The Histrionics, who have recently played at art festivals across Europe. As well as private shows for Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, opening night parties for the Venice Biennale and underground writer's bars in Prague, The Histrionics have played at more mainstream Australian music festivals such as the Big Day Out.  This event will include catering by the Taco Truck.

These events are being hosted by LUMA as part of the Festival of Ideas Conference.  LUMA patrons are welcome to attend one or both evenings FREE of charge.  Events start at 4pm.

Nb. Miss Rosanna is a freelance copywriter for La Trobe University

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some crafty minxes

Headed up to my local, local shops on Greville Road in Rosanna today.  I pretty much know most of the shopkeepers by name - besides the fantastic Banyule Fish and Chippery (which I've mentioned before) - there are two doctors, Bien cafe and grocery store, a milk bar, Woolybutt wool shop, a cake shop, a bakery, Wendy's music, a chemist, a newsagency and a hairdresser.  I do miss the organic butcher who moved out the Christmas before last.

Anyway, I picked up some echinacea from the chemist (I am feeling a bit run down and don't want to get sick before my trip overseas!) and took the boys for a babycino at Bien cafe.  Love the owners there - Gina and her parents Helen and Nick - think they have a soft spot for the boys too.
And I spied the Tuesday knitting club - some very clever, crafty ladies who meet at the cafe every week including one of the mums from playgroup and Teresa Bennett - a local textile artist who sells her gorgeous knitwear at the Ivanhoe Makers Market.  She was knitting handspun mink and yak wool which was to die for.  Nan is also a knitter who regularly buys her wool at Woolybutt and I am forever in awe of people who are talented, creative and resourceful - crafting is a lost art that is undergoing a new resurgence in popularity - it's great to see.

Monday, June 6, 2011

AFL rules mate

Another quiet-ish weekend if that's possible with two young children.  Auskick on Saturday for Thomas - Mr Rosanna was gleeful because Melbourne won a game on Friday night.  Sadly, Thomas is the only boy wearing a Dees jersey in his Auskick group and Will has been asking me why he can't play Auskick ("because you're only two")...
We had swimming yesterday morning and later took the boys to Rosanna park.  I was reflecting yesterday that we really do live in a great community and I wonder if I would have felt it to the same degree had we stayed in Brunswick.  I've met some lovely people at the Ivanhoe Aquatic Centre, realised I've already known half of Thomas's friends (and parents) at Auskick, often strike up conversations with families we meet at the park and always run into someone I know at the shops or in my street.

What I did do this weekend was finalise our Hong Kong itinerary.  I am starting to get excited and will reveal more next week about what our plans are.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Local profile - Lisa Foley

If you live in Rosanna, you may have already seen some of Lisa Foley's mural artwork on the carpark wall near the post office as part of the Rosanna Village Art Trail.  In fact, Lisa's currently doing more artwork at the Maternal and Child Health Centres in Rosanna and Viewbank.  She's also a talented creative writer.

The artist at work
Name: Lisa Foley
Occupation: Artist/Writer
Lives: North east Melbourne

Describe yourself/what you do:
I am a mural artist and traditional artist very much inspired by colour. I have been painting murals locally for the past 4 years and traditional art since childhood. Most of the murals are painted outside on walls etc. Painting out in the elements on concrete and metal is vastly different to painting on canvas inside a warm room. Many days I curse the weather but nothing quite inspires like an endless sky above and a breeze that whispers stories you never hear in a cushy studio.
Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east: As an artist, it is inspiring to live and work in an area famous for its artistic heritage. It is also a physically beautiful area with a magical blend of town and country.

To contact Lisa please email Miss Rosanna -

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kitschy kitschy coo

Melbourne is home to some great design and products with a stylish and uniquely Australian flavour including Aesop skincare, bags by Crumpler and Nicola Cerini, Keep Cup coffee cups...the list goes on.  I subscribe to the Design Victoria newsletter and they hold some great events if you work, or are interested, in design.
Melanie Eagleson coaster image via
I've bought a number of gifts now for my friend Stephanie in Hong Kong.  Pictured is some of the more kitsch stuff I got on the Made it website - coasters by Melanie Eagleson made from old Melways map pages (I've actually chosen Rosanna for mine) as well as a tea towel by Kirsten Haworth printed here in Melbourne featuring some quintessentially Australian images.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Walk for reconciliation

Welcome to the first day of Winter and what a beautiful day it has been.  It's actually Reconciliation Week and to celebrate there is an Indigenous heritage walk this Friday morning from11.00 am to 12.30 pm.

The two kilometre walk along the Mullum Mullum - Yarra trail will kick off at Petty's Orchard bus car park on the corner of Monckton and Homestead Roads in Templestowe.  The Yarra Organics at Petty's Orchard market is also on at the same time and location.   The walk will be guided by local historian Jim Poulter and Parks Victoria's Aboriginal Heritage Coordinator Hayden Heta.  Will be a lovely day for a walk especially if it's as glorious as today has been.