I smelled faraway places

sliders-on-tyresLeaving work later than normal, I thought to crash the Yarra Food Street Festival at Burnley as a quick and easy dinner. The array of food trucks was encouraging, but the quick part of dinner wasn’t so easy. The temptations of African flavours, Nepalese dumplings, fresh seafood, deli burgers and exotic curries was a very hard decision to make. Strolling a lap of the trucks to find the best option provided some mouth-watering sites and smells. The perusal resulted in a refreshing cider at the bar for some people watching and contemplation of their meal choices on a warm summer evening. It was a pity to have to finally choose, but this option above from Sliders on Tyres was delicious. A Boston chicken mini burger and a beef mini burger with unusual and tasty condiments in a mini brioche bun were offset with some amazing thick cut chips. It was so good that I polished off every morsel on the plate – yum!

I think I’ll have to plan a few more visits as the festival continues until the end of February with a constant parade of rotating food trucks. I might go to Nepal for my next dinner. So if you get the chance, travel to a new destination for dinner and see what serendipity brings.

I made it to the end

The title is a little longer than normal, but the journey was longer than normal too. Today, I received my certificate and academic transcript for the recent bout of study undertaken. This had morphed through three different courses and two separate institutions, but I got there in the end. As they say, anything worth doing …

And what a ride with lots of good new information and concepts including a few lateral thinking challenges. My thinking is normally very linear and logical for a scientist and stretching my boundaries to the creative was a worthy goal. It enabled me to see and understand another rarely seen side of me, as well as meet like-minded individuals with which to share the journey.

As per usual, I would encourage anyone to see if they can’t discover another side of themselves and mine the rich environment for creating a greater-than-the-original version of oneself in which to pursue this mortal life. Diversity and expanding boundaries brings a richness with which to enjoy it all. So what are we going to do now? What is the next adventure?

I read yummy

wp_20161230_002-2Take a closer look. I mean a really good, eye-opening look at these Christmas treats. There’s milk chocolate as a traditional option and for something new there is now a dark chocolate version. For those that believe dark chocolate is healthier, more pure or simply better, these hit the spot for a dabble of indulgence.

But when you take the time to really look – focus on how they are spelt. I always thought they were Malteasers. A serve of malty-ness and a portion of teaser, hence they were Malteasers. They are not a recent invention; they have been around for a goodly period of time, yet it is only now that I notice the spelling of Maltesers. There is no additional “a”; they’re unlikely to be from Malta, nor are they a fluffy white dog … so why Maltesers for a name?

Why did I notice it now, you ask? Maybe it’s a benefit of a dark chocolate version, we’ll never know exactly. Take a new look at the normal in your life and see what is really there, rather than taking the meaning of something for granted. It might just surprise you what is right in front of you.

I felt puppy love

The unbridled enthusiasm of a puppy is contagious. The joy of seeing new people and new things is projected to everyone present. The waggly tail that starts at the hips for a full body twister reinforces the welcome.

I got to cuddle Roy this week; he’s a 14-week old black Labrador puppy. He still has his puppy rolly polly skin and feet too big to do anything but flop around while dancing on the spot in greeting. A wet and licky tongue, expressive ears at the sound of something new and such a high pitched yelping of hello, all add to the experience.

Puppies are great fun and just to remind everyone of my position on fuzz-therapy: animals of any kind are good for the soul, pat a pooch or cuddle a cat, connect with another living species. These simple gestures bestow great comfort and warm the heart. It’s good to feel the unconditional love that comes from a kindred spirit.

I savoured dessert

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This was an extraordinarily fancy-pants dessert. I was lucky enough to be presented with this dessert last week at a luncheon. No longer do you have to choose the lemon tart or the apple crumble, some desserts have it all. Cherry sorbet, white chocolate mousse, macerated Morello cherries, moist dark chocolate cake, milk chocolate mousse covered in a bitter chocolate glaze, chocolate soil, chocolate sauce, a crumble of meringue and a squiggle of chocolate to garnish. How do they get the chocolate to squiggle solid in three dimensions?

This was Schwarzwalder Kirsch, otherwise known as Black forest cake – deconstructed to taste each and every flavour. It was an amazing flight of fanciful tastes, visual richness and well portioned morsels. So next time the opportunity presents itself, don’t choose, just indulge!

I heard a chorus

What a racket! The clamorous chirpings of a tree full of parrots. Is there a collective noun for a bunch of parrots sitting in a tree?

The tree, laden with feathered friends, is like a high-definition speaker serenading the sunset colours of the sky. The noise peaks and hits fever pitch, surely no one parrot is even listening to another. It is simply a loudest-screech contest in full bloom. The crescendo drops a notch as a dimmer switch is taken to the sky. The noise holds pace with the fading colours until there are mere whispers at dusk. The community of birds is hunkering down for the evening, reduced to minor pipsqueaks as they finally settle into their assigned perches.

The uproar was a fitting tribute to the glorious display of sunset colours. It draws the attention from what you were doing, when you surely would have missed the wonder of this spectacle. So next time nature is loud and demands your attention, see what it wants to show you. Don’t ever miss out on anything.

I glimpsed another world

“A sprinkling of boondoggles”

Sprinkling takes on the mantel of ice-cream and sprinkles from my childhood. Sprinkles always trump hundreds’n’thousands. Sprinkles are the extruded mini logs of pure sugar, compared to the intractable hard circular mini-balls of hundreds’n’thousands. Sprinkles are fabulous any day and twice on Sundays! The conviction of youth remains. Fairy bread is always better with sprinkles, though some staunch connoisseurs would argue.

And Boondoggles – set aside the real meaning and it belongs within the realm of Bottersnikes and Gumbles. It dreams up cute but gross troll like animals shaking their fists that must be purple. What other colour would a boondoggle be?

I attended an industry forum this week where the Shadow Minister for Agriculture was sniping at the current government and the insane policy of moving a whole government agency to the middle of nowhere with the fortuitous outcome of spending $24M in the Minister for Agriculture’s own electorate for the relocation. It was this dry and cynical context that “a sprinkling of boondoggles” was used. It caught my imagination and transported me away from the political arena to a much more fanciful world. The imagination is a wonderful thing when let lose. So be watchful for the next boondoggle, it can save you from the fate of a negative droning monotone, and take you to a much better place.

I saw the unexpected

We travel through life and there is so much to see and do that we miss some of the detail in front of us. Even when we are overwhelmed with beautiful scenery, there is always more to see if we pause and look closer. I was taking in the spectacular vistas of the Wonderland in the Grampians, but looking closer to the trail I found this little guy. A rather relaxed and friendly bearded dragon, who was just hanging out in the sun.

So keep an eye out and don’t miss the tree for the forest in front of you as sometimes the smaller details can also impress and add to your experience.

I witnessed history

With international visitors in town, you need to make a few exceptions now and then. This is especially true when the Chicago Cubs are playing the Cleveland Indians in the World Series (That’s baseball for the uninitiated). The time difference meant that the games were played around lunchtime in Australia, so streaming Foxsport was essential over sandwiches and coffee.

The winning title goes to the team who wins the best of seven games. Each game is nine innings long. After  six games it was a three-all draw, so the last game was to be the decider. After nine innings in the seventh and deciding game, the score was six runs each side. So the game continued into a tenth innings. Then there was a rain delay and the diamond was covered for protection. Most people at this point couldn’t take the increased and increasing tension, desperate for an outcome to the match.

The rain stopped, the Cubs got two more runs in the top of the 10th and merely had to withstand a final innings from the Indians. Excitement (one word for it) was high, people were holding their breath (almost). Could they do it? Could they get over the line after 108 years of wilderness since their last win? One out, two out, and then it was all over and the pitch was flooded with blue jerseys. Chicago Cubs win the World Series 4 games to 3, with 8 runs to 7 in the final game. It could not have been any closer and was a true battle of gladiators. Watching the game with natives of the United States was a great way to indulge with lots of commentary, exasperation and fun.

Final piece of advice – Apparently when the “Cubbies” win, you are meant to #FlyTheW. No idea why, but here it is.

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I felt heat

Some things become too routine and you forget their impact until you experience it again with someone for their first time.

I seem to be making a habit of dinner at South Bank. This time a lovely Italian restaurant where we sat outside watching people promenade along the river. We had enjoyed a meal of pasta as the sun set. Then at 8pm my dining buddy almost fell off his chair. The sculptured chimney stacks lined up along the length of the river started humming and erupting in rolling balls of flame. Our proximity made it rather comical. I knew the humming was a prelude to the bursts of gas and flame, but it hadn’t occurred to me to explain what was to come. I thought it was just normal waiting expectantly, until I saw my friend halfway out of his seat.  Oops, my bad 🙂

It was a five minute show of co-ordinated shooting flames along the length of the river with spectacular visuals. The radiant heat was a telling sign of how close we were. So don’t forget that something old can be new again when viewed vicariously through the first-time experience of someone else.