Monday, April 30, 2012

Graffiti Saturday!

This weekend, Liam had a job painting a shipping container for a company in South Melbourne.

The weather in Melbourne has been fairly miserable and unpredictable lately (of course, we're in Melbourne!) so when the forecast for Saturday showed clear skies for the morning, we took the opportunity to head down and get the job done. 

Getting started!

The container is located on an old tram platform, so many would-be taggers are often scouring the area for a canvas.  Liam's job was to cover up all the scrawl and create a design to try and prevent graffers from painting on the container. 

While he got started, I wandered down the platform and found plenty of empty spray cans...

...which had obviously been used to create these pieces under the bridge!

While Liam worked, I got artistic in the form of my iPhone and its camera! Papping from behind the cover of little shrubs and grass and whatnot.  I am clearly not the creative one in this relationship!

It was a gorgeous day, and although I didn't have much else to do except play photographer, it was lovely to sit outside enjoying the fresh air, soaking in the sunshine, and exploring the little area!

A work in progress.

Painting with an audience!

Trams would frequently whizz past, and curious faces would peer out at us.  One tram driver even slowed down the tram on each trip by to survey the progress, and by the end we had a few of them waving enthusiastically at us every time they drove past!

Lunch time!

We must have been a peculiar sight to tram travelers - seated on the edge of the platform scoffing dumplings while surrounded by scattered cans of paint, as well as books, radios and other paraphanelia I had brought along to keep me entertained!

After lunch I went for a bit of a wander down the other end of the platform, and came across this professional graffiti at the South Melbourne tram station :

It's funny how graffiti culture has become so popular these days.  You can hardly go anywhere without seeing it all over the walls of businesses, or down alley ways.  Melbourne is famous for its graffiti-lined streets, and apparently it is also one of our popular tourist attractions!

I decided to wander across to the other side of the tram platform and have a look at Liam's handi-work.

Almost complete, just a bit of stenciling to add the finishing touches!

Liam was basically given free reign with the design, and was just told to incorporate the company's logo into it somewhat.  He didn't have a whole heap of time, so he came up with something simple and presented it to them and they seemed happy with it.  The big panda (which looks more like a little mousey-bear on the container, due to the colours he used!) is something he came up with a while back when we first started dating to do with something I'd said.  And the rest is a mixture of his old graffer's tag to create part of my Chinese name so... I now have a shipping container with my name scrawled across in giant letters!

The view for travelers waiting for their tram!

On the other side of the tram tracks is actually a child care centre.  While I was exploring, I managed to find little bits and pieces which had been dropped through the fence from the kids' play area.

My loot!

There was also a little squishy cow toy which had dropped down onto the tracks, but Liam would not allow me to jump down and get it! :( Boo. I suppose for good reason.

No matter - I managed to make a good breakfast for my new little friend with what I had -

Grapes, fried egg, and Liam and I argued whether that other thing was a pancake or a sausage roll! He still maintains it is a sausage roll, but I see no meat in it. PANCAKES!

Aside from arguing with me over pancakes and sausage rolls, Liam also had work to do.  Here he is adding the final stencil to the design...

Finally, it is complete!

At that moment, the sun breaks through the clouds and shines down on the finished work...

What do you think? :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

ANZAC Day 2012

The night before ANZAC Day was a miserable, cold rainy evening with no change in sight unfortunately! It was the perfect evening to be snuggled up warm inside, while the rain pelted down and the wind hurtled around outside. 

I decided that there was nothing better on such an evening than a hearty meal to warm us up!

Unfortunately, with the weather only seeming to be getting worse, after filling our bellies we had to leave the comfort of the couch to head down to the shops in search of a pair of gumboots!

Kmart was the only shop still open, and after calling around none of the stores seemed to stock ladies wellies.  The only option was to trek out to a Kmart which confirmed that they stocked men's gumboots.  When we got there however, they didn't have any of those either! Everyone else must have had the same idea.  Lucky for me, my feet are just small enough to fit into kid's shoes.  I am now the proud owner of a child's pair of wellingtons!

The need for this wet weather gear was the Dawn Service early the next morning.  We had hoped the weather would improve for the occasion, but decided to be prepared just in case.  Unfortunately, the weather did not get any better.

Ponchos, raincoats and umbrellas were also required!

Despite the miserable weather however, there was still a decent turn out for the service.  I was so proud of the amount of people who still turned up to show their respect, to remember our fallen heroes lost and to honour the brave souls who have fought for our country.

It was amazing that, despite the large crowd, how sombre the atmosphere was and the appropriate silence.  As dawn broke, there was an eerie silence with only the rustle of a plastic poncho or a muffled cough to interrupt the reading.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning -
We will remember them.

As always, the Eternal Flame burned on...

After the service, the crowds gathered around the flame.  It also had the added advantage of being the warmest place to be, in the cold dreary weather!

After the service, we had some time to kill before meeting friends so we decided to take a wander around the city.  As we wandered down Swanston Street, there were obviously other ANZAC Day proceedings going on, as we saw all these army vehicles parked on the road. 

We wandered a little further along, and came across this cute little old-school news stand :

Only this one was not selling newspapers! We were intrigued, and although we initially walked straight past it, curiousity got the better of us and we did a double-take and wandered back up to the stall.

A little French creperie!

It was fantastic! Inside the stand they had set up a mini kitchen with two large crepe hotplates.  To the left of the stand, you can see a wooden hinged door with the quaint menu painted on it listing all your options. And yes, the young lady taking your order and the crepe chef really are French!

We chose a Nutella & almond crepe first up, and upon eating it decided that what we really needed was a salted caramel crepe to accompany it! And boy, am I glad we made that decision.

The Nutella crepe was wonderful - filled with gooey chocolatey-hazelnut goodness with a crunch of almonds encased by a slightly crisp outer layer.  The salted caramel on the other hand, was just as delicious, but completely different! This crepe had not been cooked as long, which resulted in pillowy mouthful of chewy crepe goodness which just melted in your mouth.

YUM. Cannot recommend this little creperie enough! They've only been open for two weeks, but I'd hurry along if I were you! It won't be long until the masses find out about this little gem and you'll be battling your way for delicious crepey goodness!

You'd think that would be enough pancakes for one day, right?  Apparently not. 

Lured in by a spruiker and a two-for-one offer, Liam decided that he needed short stacks to fill his belly! I, on the other hand, can never go to a Pancake Parlour without ordering a savoury cheese & potato pancake.  Although it is delicious, crisp fluffy pancake chunks smothered in a rich mushroom sauce and spread with a little sour cream, I always struggle with the whole plate.  With my belly already half-full, I conceded defeat and left half the pancake on the plate. Oh, the shame...

I tried to avert my attention from the burning shame and the still full plate in front of me, and instead focused on touching up my nails which were all dolled up for the big ANZAC Day match.  While I did this, I handed Liam a bottle of (cherry-scented!) red nail polish which I had just picked up, and instructed him to suitably jazz up my plain black gumboots.

Ta-da!! I think he did a fairly decent job given the limited resources! And yes, those are Essendon footy socks you can see tucked under my boots :)

You might be wondering about the odd lights under my feet in the above picture.  After stuffing ourselves full of pancakes, we met up with friends and headed to Galactic Circus!

We each bought an hourly play card, which I wasted most of playing Guitar Hero! I'm not sure I never play it at home, but felt compelled to in an arcade surrounded by plenty of other good games!

Before long, it was time to head to the MCG for a thrilling game of football! As you can see from above, my nails and shoes were decked out in suitable attire, and you can bet that the rest of me was too! I wore my Essendon hoodie, which was covered by my guernsey all wrapped up with my member's scarf! If anything can be said for me, when it comes to the football I certainly do not do things by halves!

We had fantastic seats, although the continuing rain meant we did get a little wet! Again, I was stunned by how silent close to 87,000 people can be! During the moment of silence, there was not a peep throughout the entire stadium.  It was so quite that you could hear the rope on the flag pole knocking it in the breeze! Amazing.

What an exciting game, but ultimately for a mad Bombers supporter such as myself, what a disappointment. The Essendon boys fought their way back towards the end of the match, and for a brief moment there I thought we had won the match! But especially where an ANZAC Day clash is concerned, you can never be too sure! With just over a minute to go, Collingwood kicked that heart-breaking goal to win by 1 point. Although it was a crushing moment of defeat when the siren sounded, I was so proud! I'm looking forward to seeing where we can take it this season.

So, there you have it! My ANZAC Day was spent filled with a good mixture of things which I feel reflect the essence of the day for many people.  Most importantly, the day is about remembering and honouring those who have lost so much in the name of our country.  It's a chance to thank them and remember them, for the opportunity they have given us to enjoy days such as this. But as a Melbourne girl, no ANZAC Day would be complete without the hype and the buzz surrounding this big match of AFL. 

What did you get up to, and what does ANZAC Day mean to you?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Birthday Surprises...

I had been massively looking forward to my birthday weekend, even though I had no idea what was in store for me!  Liam had not given me any clues as to what was going on, and I was intrigued and excited to find out what he had planned!  On Saturday morning, he told me to pack my bags for the weekend - I would need casual clothes, bathers, and clothes for going out.  When I asked him what "going out" entailed, and if we were going out for dinner, he told me that he supposed he would have to feed me along the way!

This mystery, although exciting, made it very difficult to know what to pack!

My bags for one night away.  I suppose you could say I haven't quite mastered the art of packing light.

We jumped into the ute, and hit the road!

Liam took an exit to avoid heavy traffic, and the possibilities were running through my mind.  He feigned a big hissy fit at the city traffic and I had to tell him to calm down.
It turns out it was all an act!

When we first started dating, he planned a fancy weekend away to try and win me over. That weekend, he surprised me with a night at the gorgeous 5* Crown Metropol.  As we approached, I pointed it out and giggled reminiscing about our date there.  We had had a lot planned, so never really got time to enjoy the facilities, and have been saying since then that we should go back for a visit. 

He had pretended to take a wrong turn to throw me off the scent... as we pulled into the driveway he yelled out "Damn it! Since we're already here, we may as well stay the night!" Cheeky bugger.

I heart this bed so much.  It is like sleeping on a giant marshmallow!

The room was exactly the same as the one we stayed in last time, only the opposite way around. It was kind of like living in a mirror!  I loved being in the same surroundings, and evoking memories from our previous weekend away. 

Everything was so pretty and perfect!

Even a bottle of sparkling wine on ice!

We decided to leave that for later, and head out for a bite to eat.  Wandering around Southbank, there's definitely not any shortage of choices! As it was getting on in the afternoon, and I wasn't sure what was planned for dinner, we decided not to eat anywhere too fancy and save our stomach space.

A glass of rose for him, and a sparkling pink moscato for her!

This was our first alcoholic beverage in a month, so we savoured it! I'm not sure if it was the shape of the glass (which I love, by the way!) or the month off alcohol, but I was impressed by the way Liam sipped his wine throughout lunch.  Usually he guzzles it within moments of being placed in front of him!

We each ordered a wagyu burger, and a side of onion rings to share.  Unfortunately, lunch was a little disappointing.  The burger patty was incredibly dry, and the onion rings were more like shreds rather than the thick juicy rings we'd been hoping for.  Oh well!

After lunch, we spent some time in the swimming pool and just enjoying the hotel room before we had to get ready for the next surprise! Liam had requested a higher level floor, and we were given level 22.  The views were absolutely stunning! I wish I'd brought along a proper camera to capture some shots.

We jumped into a cab, with the concierge and driver laughing at me as I covered my ears with a "la la la I can't hear you!" while Liam gave him the address we needed to be at. 

YAY! Draculas!

You're not allowed to take photos of the show, but I did manage this sneaky shot of my dessert!

Liam had paid for VIP tickets, so we enjoyed some champagne, cocktails and jelly shots upstairs before being seated for our three-course meal and an awesome show!  Loved the outfit! So much colour, very sexy, and lots of bling!

We decided to get up early the next morning so that we could have a leisurely breakfast and then make the most of the hotel's pool/spa facilities before heading to the football.  As the alarm went off, I looked out the window and saw the sky tinted a beautiful shade of orange as the sun peeked through the buildings. 

I adore Melbourne.

As tempting as it was to lie in bed all day staring at the view, Liam had arranged for us to have a buffet breakfast at the hotel's restaurant - Mr Hive.  The last time we were here, the restaurant (Maze) belonged to the Gordon Ramsay empire.  Apparently that was a failure and closed down last December, making way for this newcomer.

Walking in, the decor looked vaguely familiar although a few changes had been made.

What hadn't changed, however, is the quality of the food!  The scrambled eggs were just as smooth and creamy as I remember, the hashbrowns cooked to crispy perfection, the mushrooms meaty and flavoursome, and gorgeous rolls of salty smoked salmon. 

The pancakes were a complete surprise to me! They were thick, puffy things which resembled a hamburger bun more than anything, however they were so light and fluffly and absolutely melted in my mouth! My only regret is that I could not fit more breakfast into my tummy! YUM.

After consuming that massive amount of food, the last thing I should have been doing is squeezing into my bikini! However, it was a lovely day and there was a gorgeous pool and spa upstairs that was begging to be used.  Who am I to object?!

Located on level 27 is a gorgeous infinity pool and a small heated pool, with the most amazing views!

Next to the pool are a collection of sunbeds and lounges beneath these massive funky light shades.

They look like big puffy jellyfish to me!

We spent time alternating between the big swimming pool, the little heated pool, using the steam room and jet spa in the changing rooms, and lounging on these big comfortable sun beds...

Look at that gorgeous city view!

It was a perfect way to spend my birthday weekend!

PS : We didn't end up having time (more like, we preferred to spend the time lazing by the pool!) to pick up my birthday present, but not to worry! I've been assured we will find an occasion to do that soon :)