I had a short break in Melbourne last week, to attend part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and catch up with friends. This was my fourth visit to this wonderful city, which I seem to love more and more each time I go. It reminds me of New York, Europe and Bristol all in one, and is just the best for fashion & food and of course it's amazing architecture & easy transport.Read More
Meeting a talented Byron Bay designer all started with these trousers! I needed something for cooler weather, but not necessarily cold weather, when I arrived in Sydney three months ago. And, lucky for me, I found these in a 50% off sale by the trendy Aussie Tiger Lily brand. Then it was the big hunt for a top to go with them. Nothing I brought from the UK really worked and I wanted something as crazily patterned as these bad boys. Enter a little beach market in Byron...........Read More
Another travel blog for you and, as the last one on Napier seems to have gone down so well, I hope you enjoy my quick visit around this windy & cool (in both senses of the word!) city as much!
Wellington is New Zealand's capital city and what I wasn't expecting was how gorgeous the buildings and scenery were and how easy it was to walk everywhere. There was an interesting old street, building or architectural delight around every corner. And I love the way the houses are built up hills, much like a tiny San Francisco, overlooking the pretty bay.
Every visitor's favourite area to visit in Wellington is Cuba Street. Known as one of the more trendy, edgy areas of the city, it's full of eclectic cafes, pre-loved & vintage shops, independent boutiques, art galleries & bars - galore. I just loved it, but amazingly didn't buy a thing. It was the most expensive vintage clothing I have ever come across! But a very enjoyable few hours was spent wandering up and down this interesting street and the surrounding area.
There was only one dry, sunny day while I visited Wellington, so I spent a lot of time at the gorgeous Embassy Theatre dodging the rain and catching up with movies. Art Deco and stunning inside, it's the only custom-built 1920s cinema still in use in New Zealand. Apparently millions of dollars was spent on it for the Premiere of the Lord of the Rings, money well spent I'd say!
Oh, and New Zealand & Aussie audiences are much better behaved than UK & US ones.....little chatting, mobile use, crunching noisy food & fidgeting! (Hello to Jason Isaacs). If you have no idea what on earth I am wittering about you are obviously not a member of The Church. If you love movies, you need to join up immediately! Please let me know if you're a fellow wittertainment follower.
How's this for a cinema and just look at those loos!
And culture.....there's culture galore in Wellington. Te Papa Museum is really interesting and well worth a visit, especially on a wet day, and I was lucky enough to be in town for Waitangi Day to see some of the local kids singing Kapa Haka ( Maori dancing & singing to express their Polynesian identity) in the blistering wind. It was magical. Sorry, too noisy to share a video with you, here's a photo of a bad Wellington day instead!. Reminds me of home.
But the best cultural highlight for me has to be the hotel I stayed at. The QT Museum Wellington is central, just across the road from the Te Papa museum, walking distance to Cuba Street & everywhere you're likely to want to go, and is like the wackiest museum itself, with amazing art and eccentric objects in every corner of the huge downstairs area. I spent hours there!
The hotel very kindly gave me an upgrade to a stunning apartment, which I could have lived in, room service was fantastic, essential for the wet & windy nights, and the renowned, hotel's Hippopotamus Restaurant did not disappoint, at all! Thank you Chef Laurent Loudeac for preparing that gorgeous sushi and seared yellow fin tuna for me so I could have a taster of your fabulous food. Delicious and beautiful too!
There's also a lovely pool & small gym at the QT Museum Wellington should the need arise. But I was as happy as Larry eating beautiful food, admiring the art & resting in my lovely room after walking my socks off all over this beautiful city.
Finally, I have to share this photo with you, 'cause I love it and it brings home the reminder that even New Zealand isn't entirely safe. It shows the Reading Cinema car park being pulled down because of quake-damage. NZ is such a nice change from Australia because you know nothing's going to kill you in the sea or hinterland, and then you see what the earthquakes can do.
I had an absolutely brilliant time in Wellington, despite the weather, and it is by far my very favourite city in New Zealand, and I'm pretty sure I've visited them all now. If you love shopping, quirky shops, interesting architecture, and great food, (and need to renew your visa for Australia, as I did!) you'll love it - and there's even a beach! Just pack an umbrella & a windproof jacket and have a brilliant time.
Not a pre-loved bargain but such an unusual dress from Karly Sunshine, in Byron Bay, for $130 (about £80) it would have been rude not to! The necklace was bought in Byron 3 years ago, & the bangle & sunnies are vintage, cheap as chips, and I've had them an age.
The only new addition is the turban I found very recently for about £5! So not a ridiculously expensive outfit but one that will work very well for dressing up more formally somewhere extremely hot.
This is a dress I will have for a very long time, or as long as my body holds up in it!
Hope you like the awesome images taken by photographer Suzi Quii.
Sorry about all these "summer" photos. I'm only here for another six weeks so for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, you won't be tortured for too much longer! Spring is on it's way for you & there's a tiny bit of Autumn on it's way here in Australia.
Take care and see you soon,
Now it's warming up in the Northern Hemisphere, here's a detox smoothie you might like to try, which I've been enjoying whilst living in Byron Bay. It contains many of the ingredients I have included in other smoothies before but this one has a couple of new additions that help with detoxing, add extra health benefits, and is totally vegan. Most of all it's quick and easy.
INGREDIENTS - organic wherever possible
(1 T is 1 Tablespoon & 1 t is 1 teaspoon)
Half a glass of almond milk or coconut water
1T blueberries or one small banana
1T golden flaxseeds - rich in Omega 3 & phytoestrogens for happy hormones
1T psyllium husks - cleans your bowel & moves them, big time!
1T raw protein powder. I have been using this one in Australia
1T blackstrap molasses - a fantastic source of iron for vegans
1T coconut oil - a really important fat for weight loss & health
1t cinnamon - good for helping cholesterol & blood sugar levels
1t turmeric - the best anti-inflammatory spice I know of
1t kelp - supports the thyroid, big time
1t green powder - include wheat grass, chlorella & spirulina for a detox.
1t matcha tea powder - for a big natural caffeine kick!
That's it, throw them all into your blender, whizz up and drink immediately.
The coconut oil is made up of Medium Chain Fatty Acids which produce energy instead of body fat. It's also 50% made up of lauric acid, which strengthens the immune system & is good for the gut. It's an all round good fat and will keep you going for hours.
While I've been here in Australia, I've gone onto the 16:8 way of eating, nearly ever day, instead of the 5:2 plan twice a week. This is another form of intermittent fasting that is proving very popular, has plenty of scientific research behind it, (check out Professor Longo here) and seems to be very successful for weight loss and, more importantly, the body's health.
Because it's so hot here all the time and I've never been a big fan of breakfast, I have found it really easy to have my supper at 7.00 pm. and then not eat again till 11 or 12 the next day. (Drinking plenty of liquid, of course.) Most days I am only having two meals a day, with plenty of exercise in between eating whatever I like at those meal times, as long as it's healthy, and does include Prosecco from time to time!
I will report back, with photos, when I return to the UK in April and get my b.p., cholesterol, visceral & body fat measured at the doctors and the gym. Then you'll be the first to hear whether my intermittent fasting has had the desired effect on my health!
As ever, let me know if you do intermittent fasting and whether it's benefited your health. Would love to hear.
See you soon,
I had to renew my visa for Australia before my three months was up, so thought visiting two places in New Zealand I hadn't been before would be a great excuse to leave and re-enter Oz. After too short a time in Wellington (that's another blog, another time) I hit Napier the Art Deco centre of New Zealand, somewhere I have always wanted to visit. The centre of the town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, and later rebuilt in the Art Deco style so popular at that time. Now, the architecture, along with vintage costumes and cars, is a major tourist attraction that people from all over the world come to visit.
Every year, Napier throws open its doors to thousands of visitors for the world famous Tremains Art Deco Festival. I couldn't find anywhere to stay for this year's event so went the week before to catch the build up as the town got ready for its biggest annual party. It was a great time to go because I got to see the best Napier has to offer, without the crowds, and I still got to dress up!
Anyone who loves Art Deco will find the architecture just awesome, just make sure your camera battery's fully charged!
It's not just about the amazing Art Deco buildings everywhere, it's also about the vintage cars tootling around town and the fact that the locals love to dress up in vintage 20s & 30s outfits for the visitors. I was lucky to be running around town with my camera the day a cruise ship came in and the sun came out..... so the costumes and cars were out in force.
I stayed at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel, really central and handy for the museum, beach, cars & shops.....especially Charleston Chic, right next door, where I spent a lot of time!
Charleston Chic, run by Penelope, whose been in the vintage clothes and accessories business for over twenty years, became my new best friend and kindly introduced me to the perfect Hawkes Bay people for me to meet, as well as styling up my 20s dress for a High Tea! Here's a little Video glimpse inside her shop.
So then it was off to High Tea at Port O Call to meet another Brightonian, who now lives in Napier. Estelle of Brighton makes gorgeous vintage bags to sell and never misses an opportunity to dress up in vintage. Nor do I! I dragged this 20's long dress all the way from the UK to Australia and then to New Zealand for just such an event. And it was perfect!
I bought the red gloves, sunnies & feather head piece really cheaply in Napier, and Penelope very kindly lent me the gorgeous necklace and gold shoes from her shop, Charleston Chic.
As you can see, we had a ball and, hopefully, really looked the part. The tea room/shop was a pleasure to wander around and I managed to find the most gorgeous small vintage suitcase to buy......you'll have to wait for the photos, but it's going to be perfect for my 'props' box at home and so very pretty!
And that wasn't the only place I shopped. I found The Best retro boutique (very 50s, very me!) called Two Lippy Ladies, in Napier. It's run by lovely ladies Natalie (on the left) and Karla (on the right), such a pleasure to meet. As NZ was a bit chilly after Oz, and I hadn't brought any jeans from the UK, I didn't feel in the least bit guilty buying these awesome 50s style denim capris that were designed & made in England by Hell Bunny and were still super reasonable despite how far they'd travelled!
If the weather's not perfect when you visit Napier, don't worry as there are loads of really interesting shops, restaurants & cafes in town so you won't be bored for a moment..... broke but not bored! And the food's great too. You'll eat and drink so well in New Zealand that you'll need a bit of a diet, or a fast, like I did when I got home again!
And finally, thanks to Estelle, I was introduced to Matthew Bonnet (the dapper young man below), who kindly arranged for his friend Leigh Patterson to drive us around town in his gorgeous vintage car. I felt like a very important person sticking my red gloved arm out every time we needed to turn right and waving at anyone who waved at us! Thank you so much to both of you for such a fabulous end to my Napier visit.
I had a wonderful visit to Napier, despite the two days of rain that the area badly needed, and I was touched by the kindness and hospitality of everyone I met there who more than made up for the fact that I couldn't attend the world-famous Tremains Art Deco Festival. If you fancy going to the Festival one year, just remember that the hotels get booked up at least one year, or even two, in advance. Or go just before or after the Festival, like I did. Napier won't disappoint, whatever time of the year you go, it's a really gorgeous town especially for lovers of all things vintage. And the beach isn't bad either!
My very own first hashtag has started to have the desired effect! Thank you all you lovely ladies who have started to post yourselves on Instagram, or elsewhere, wearing what makes you look & feel great, preferably in vintage or retro.
I now have enough photos tagged #vintageladyvintagestyle to show you my favourite 6 so please continue to use the hashtag and tell your friends to as well. The quirkier the better. Let's give Advanced Style a run for his money! I need more of you to show the world how wonderful we can all look Well Over 40 and beyond. Here are the best six, photographically and style-wise. And thank you.
The Instagram links to the sexy six are below the photos.
In photographic order:
These ladies are so interesting, for all sorts of reasons: talented, stylish and individual while refusing to lie down & become invisible. I salute you my first gang of six and look forward to more and more of you joining #vintageladyvintagestyle. You don't have to be vintage or wear vintage, but one or other helps!
Are you a single lady or man of a certain age, or any age come to think of it, who sometimes travels solo? I am currently in Napier, New Zealand, hopping over from Australia for a brief holiday with the sole aim of renewing my Aussie visa and to visit two towns I haven't managed to see on previous visits. So Napier, after Wellington, was high on my list because it's an Art Deco town, completely re-built after the 1931 Earthquake, with stunning buildings everywhere. When the sun comes out. But I digress. My rant today is..... why does the world behave as if we are all walking two by two in happy coupledom when the number of singletons is becoming more and more the majority but treated more and more like the minority and the odd ones out.... ........
Never has there been more of an outcry about single supplements for single hotel rooms and package holidays. (Although it appears to be improving as our numbers swell.) Never have there been more singles travelling the world. (More than a third of UK holiday makers are single) Especially Baby Boomers like me. And never have there been more single households in Britain than now. Yet, we are still treated like an oddity & nowhere more so, in my opinion, than dining alone!
I am on my own here in Napier for four days, staying at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel rather than self-catering for such a short time. I am in a tourist town full of middle-aged & elderly couples. I haven't seen any singles. Not one. It's not like France or, indeed, Byron Bay, where you see single ladies everywhere enjoying a glass of bubbly and a snack on their own.
I have friends here, who I will meet up with later in the week, but for the time being, because the weather's grim, I am happily shopping, sightseeing and catching up on movies I want to see before the Oscars. Alone. Happily. However, this evening, after a spectacular meal of pulled lamb (sorry vegetarians) in the hotel's Emporium Eatery & Bar I have to share with you how fed up I am with the ridiculous habit of the swift removal of the 2nd place setting at the table opposite you because you are ALL ON YOUR OWN! It's not just here, it's all over the world and I want it to stop!
I haven't experienced such a dramatic removal of my invisible guests' cutlery in a long time. But what I really objected to this evening was that I had told the waitress I would like to order a local red wine to go with the lamb. The lamb arrived and was cold by the time I had attracted the attention of the manager to get a lovely glass of red wine to go with the remaining half of the dish. Then another young waitress came over, after I had completely finished my meal, asked me if everything was ok (a tad late, I fear) and then asked me if anyone was joining me, AT THE END OF MY MEAL! She then, with a flourish, removed the second setting opposite me when I replied in the negative. Nice!
The whole point of this rant is.......surely bringing the wine with the meal is far more important than removing a spare setting? Where was she when I wanted to order an expensive glass of red wine? And WHY is the removal of the empty place at the table so important?
Suppose I had just lost my husband, suppose I was feeling really lonely and insecure, suppose my partner had stood me up or we had had a row.........suppose, suppose....... I think it is ridiculous that people who are eating on their own, especially at night, have their attention drawn to the fact, and I would like it to stop! The waiters have absolutely no idea of their customers' story and should be a little more discreet. But again I ask, WHY does it need to be done at all? Can't you just leave the cutlery there? Or, do as they do in France, and have a few tables set for singles. There are masses of us after all!
Is it just me? Does anyone else feel like this? Are the restaurants worried we will dirty their disused cutlery? Why does this removal of spare cutlery even happen? Why is it necessary? I can't be the only Billy No Mates out there, choosing to travel and eat on my own sometimes. What about secret reviewers of restaurants? I bet any restaurant removing a second setting like a magician on speed would be unlikely to receive a great write up after that!
For now, room service will have to do in my tiny room......tiny because I am a Single so obviously don't warrant a bigger room like the couples have! So different to Wellington where I had the very best of experiences where I stayed & everywhere I went, despite the inclement weather.
So, rant over! My first ever on the blog.
I have met some delightful vintage style ladies & gents this week in Napier, and today the sun came out so I had an absolutely glorious day spotting all the vintage cars, even riding round town in one, having high tea in a vintage tea shop and meeting like-minded people all over town dressed up in 20s clothes. So my whole mood lifted and I had an absolute ball on my last day! Watch out for the blog on Napier, coming soon.
Meanwhile, a big thank you to the lovely people I met this week. You know who you are, I had the best time blog-wise thanks to you, and may our mutual eccentricity just grow and grow!
Well, well, well! It's not just single women, just listen to this story from a male friend of mine. Pete lost his wife two years ago and is now out and about making new friends, with his lovely two dogs. I met him on a group I joined called Dog Lovers Dating and he told me what happened to him just before a party thrown for us singletons. These are his words:
"I went to an Indian restaurant in Church Road, Hove, in Brighton, asked for a table for one, and was told, 'we don't do tables for one!' It was 6.45 pm and there were precisely six other people in the restaurant at the time. " Unbelievable! He was, as he described, dumb struck and just turned on his heel and walking out to find a restaurant that would accommodate him. Surely this is against the law?!
Your comments, as ever, would be gratefully received.
I don't eat much pasta but when I come across a fresh, handmade, organic ravioli , which also happens to be vegan or vegetarian , I knew I'd found something rather special to put in the freezer for an emergency meal, unexpected guests or even a visiting vegan! I found this delicious pasta at the weekly Byron Bay Farmer's Market recently. (How I wish we had a market like this at home!) Made by the Byron Gourmet Pasta Company, owner Tom Ahern uses only locally sourced ingredients: the vegan ravioli is made from rocket, macadamia & basil, & the vegetarian option has added ricotta cheese. Both are completely yum!
And to bang my 'eat clean, eat local' drum yet again, who doesn't love parmesan but hates the way most of it is mass produced? Well the local Pimp My Salad people have come up with a fab vegan alternative: cashew parmesan, which sprinkled on the ravioli made it taste like the real thing and when served with a green salad, and washed down with a glass of red wine, made the meal just perfection personified and totally vegan. (Yes, I even checked the wine!)
You can, on-line, buy the cashew parmesan & all the other vegan goodies that Extraordinary Foods make such as kale chips, coconut "bacon" bits, & seed sprinkles etc., with a special discount they have agreed to give you. Just pop in the code SUZI15 to get 15% off at Extraordinary Foods. Much cheaper than the shops.
For those of you adventurous enough to make your own ravioli, the ingredients can't be hard to put together. Macadamia nuts are used a lot here in Australia and make a very creamy cheese substitute once they're ground up. Just add basil pesto & a bit of rocket & you've got a delicious vegan ravioli filling. And for the rest of us who want vegetarian & maybe can't source macadamias that easily, a little added ricotta cheese will do the trick.
Meanwhile, I will be hunting for a similar version of this awesome pasta once I'm back in the UK, pity I can't bring it back in my case!
Do let me know if you can find products like these in your local Farmer's Market or if you make your own pasta and fillings. I will be extremely jealous either way!
I'm off to New Zealand for a week so I can renew my Australian visa by leaving the country & coming back in. Really looking forward to a bit of city life in Wellington & a complete change in temperature.
See you soon,