Archive | January, 2013

Canberra in 36 hours

23 Jan

This ain’t a travel guide, don’t get too excited. But it IS my recount of the past two days spent in the capital city. Now, one day I would love to call myself a Sydneysider (it’s gonna happen), but having only lived in Sydney for two months, and Canberra for 2 1/2 years, I have more special places in Canberra than Sydney. There are some fabulous places in the city that I have come to adore (and now miss, being a 3hr bus trip away… absence makes the heart grow fonder).

So without further ado, let me take you through my past 36 hours spent in Canberra, with my darling family.

Straight off the bus, my family picked me up and drove to Canty’s, without a doubt the best secondhand bookshop in Canberra, if not everywhere. Three large rooms of floor to ceiling books, ranging from Philosophy, Tin Tin, Thomas Hardy, A-Z of Classical Music, French dictionaries and I even found an “unauthorized” biography of Tom Cruise (get in there before that one goes). We first found this place in 2010, when Mum and  I wrote down all the secondhand bookstores listed in the Yellow Pages, hoping to find a new (second) home. Canty’s was second on the list and once found, we didn’t even bother with the rest.

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IMG_0669 (Check out the sentence in parentheses… thanks Simone de Beauvoir)

The store is run by a charming husband and wife, who know too much about literature and all things publishable (I didn’t even know that was a word. Well there you go).

For Christmas last month, Zander gave me a lavish $20 voucher for the place. Believe it or not, I bought five (5) books. All wonderfully enticing and holding hoards of secrets I want to discover all at once. Reader, meet my books; my books, meet reader:

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s; The Prime of Life; Metamorphosis; Madame Bovary; Lolita.

And what makes Canty’s even more amazing? The coffee shop across the road. ONA is its name: locally owned and based, it is a specialty coffee roasters that will blow your mind. Zander had a Cold Pour Over, I had a Picollo and Mum bought us all sweet, roasted garlic bread for lunch. Mind blown.

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Mum was (evidently) chuffed to find a Babar book…. reminded her of Parisian adventures (but that’s an entirely different story).

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Next stop: the best fabric and supplies store in Canberra, Addicted to Fabric. This place is out near Woden and needs no introduction.

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The only reason we made ourselves leave (NB: “we” is Mum and I. Dad and Zander had lesser things to do) was monetary. But we did come home with a neat little pile of goodies! (yay)

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I won’t tell you what I’m doing with all of these, it’s a surprise! You’ll have to wait for a later post… bet you simply cannot wait.

A brief sojourn at home listening to Zander playing Bach or somethingorother —

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— we zipped along to Kingston, to the slightly famous and wholly underrated Brodburger. Selling arguably the best burgers in the city, it started out as a caravan beside the lake (the glory days) but has recently moved to a bright, shiny extension of the Canberra Glassworks. Although much of the charm has gone, the burgers are still damn fine, and their new digs means they’re now licensed. Be prepared to wait 20-30 mins on a busy night, but trust me — grab a beer while you wait — and it’s totally worth it.

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I would highly recommend getting your food to takeaway and walking down to the lake. There are plenty of benches along the water front and you can admire a) ducks, b)water, c) a few attractive joggers and many not-so and d) the other side of the lake. Nah, really: it’s stunning.

But you won’t notice it till after you’ve eaten:

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Eesh. If you’re thinking I wouldn’t be eating for days after my Haloumi, grilled vegetable and aioli burger, you’d be wrong. Because twelve hours later, I was at my favourite cafe-restaurant with my other fave brother, Joel. This place is in Chifley (near Woden) and is like stepping out of Canberra and into Melbourne, complete with mismatched crockery and disheveled staff. I annoyed/embarrassed/bewildered Joel with my snap-happy nature (“WHY are you taking a photo of a SAUCE BOTTLE?!”), but he was soon distracted by his sausages/eggs/toast/bacon/umm what else?

a Bite to Eat isn’t for everyone, but take a look at their website (above), go have a meal (they’re also licensed), and let me know what you think!

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IMG_0730 (Granola, poached pears, natural yoghurt… like, heaven)

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And a little present on the wall beside me:

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My dear brother bought me my breakfast because I’d spent all my money at Addicted to Fabric. But he’s a doctor and I’m a penniless scrooge. Thanks Joely…

The rest of my time was spent catching up with the parents. They live in Papua New Guinea for most of the year, so I’m making the most of these two months that they’re home.

The past six years have been a turbulent time for the family and relationships have been strained, sometimes to near breaking point. Family has always been an incredibly important part of my life, and being separated from everybody I loved in Papua New Guinea at 16 was a hard adjustment. Certain, awful things occurred in the next few years that prompted me to isolate myself from the family (my erroneous thinking at the time: isolation=independence=strength). This was compounded with my inability to understand and accept why my parents would choose to live in another country. Things came to a head in 2011. And then I went to New York for six months in 2012. For a long time, the song I would listen to for comfort was “In Repair” by John Mayer.

However, moving to Sydney — away from Canberra, the place associated with these memories — has begun a new chapter. I can finally look back at the past six years objectively. Living in NYC forced me to grow up and consider the decisions of my parents from their point of view. NYC also forced me to trust people, see the inherent good in people, and realise that “being loved” is a state, a mindset, entirely independent of external circumstance.

I finally feel like I am through those turbulent years, and I want to foster my relationship with my parents and family. I am a stronger, happier person and do not regret anything I have experienced. These years have most definitely shown me my true friends (to whom I am eternally indebted: you know who you are). True friendships know no borders or boundaries or time and can overcome any kind of struggle.

But back to the family: things are mending, and these past two days have revealed this to me. Families depend on forgiveness, understanding, compassion, and compromise. Just as my dearest friends and family accept me — all of it — so too do I for them. I need to forgive if I expect to be forgiven myself. Love is understanding, selflessness, compassion. But mostly understanding.

There is a strength in the ties of family that should never be broken. Of course they’ll drive you crazy at times, you will hurt them and they will hurt you. Misunderstandings and arguments could last years. But underneath it all, there is something that keeps your hearts — stripped of all the bullshit, laid bare — together.

It is a space nobody can touch.

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xxx

Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin’ (or subscribe by email), tell a friend, and bring a bottle of wine (I like Shiraz).

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a shift in perspective

17 Jan

Sometimes there’s nothing better than the classic shift dress. It made its debut in the 60s and has never looked back. Chic, flattering, fun: it’s a modern girl’s dress.

Have a look at this cheeky little shift I bought yesterday in Surry Hills. The cut is classic, but the same cannot be said for the print (which I love, by the way).

I was inspired by my sister-in-law, who recently reminded me to think beyond the designer labels: “Don’t be a follower,” she said. “Labellers are followers and I see you more as a trend-setter.”

In these pics: Wittner shoes, Ralph Lauren sunglasses. Photography: Thea Jane

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Shift back to the 60s. You’ll only find fun, and a lot of really great legs.

The stuff that dreams are made of

11 Jan

My grandmother is the most darling person I know. You’ll never find anybody sweeter. She is incredibly kind, tolerant and open-minded (except when men swear at the football: she’ll prod them with her walking stick and say “Would you kindly watch your language!?”). She has a halo of white hair, a bright pink walking stick and a Shi Tzu puppy called MacDougal. And what I adore most? Whenever I tell her I love her, she replies: “No, I love you, darling!”

For my recent graduation, she quietly slipped some money into my hand: “I want you to buy a keepsake, Caity. Don’t just buy any old thing.” She was so incredibly proud.

So with her impeccable taste and timeless style in mind, this is what I bought:

World-renowned photographer Diego Uchitel’s new book, Polaroids.

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What better keepsake than an art book, to which I will constantly go for inspiration (and always with Grandma in mind). The photographs in these pages are overflowing with secrets and mystery and beauty… They make me want to travel to… to the world of Helen, or to a forgotten castle, or a secret treehouse in the wilderness (complete with a tyre swing and mossy riverbanks). They make me want to wear arm-fulls of bangles and toe rings and a beautifully draped ball gown. They make me yearn for mystery, for the afternoon sun slanting through a dusty room, for colour, for a pair of lips to kiss.

I want to share with you some of my favourites…

Scroll down; weep.

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Dmag-Hippy001 Dmag-Hippy002  Dmag-Hippy4-2 Dmag-Hippy5 Dmag-Hippy6 MRs Robinson2-Uchitel Mrs Robinson-Uchitel MRSROBINSON2-Uchitel  uchitel_amica_bw2 uchitel_amica_bw3 uchitel_amica_bw4 uchitel_amica_bw5 uchitel_bloomingdales_hair2

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Clearly I have spent hours looking through the photographs on Uchitel’s website. Please have a look here, even if just for me. I can’t even begin to describe the range of his photography, the influence of his work, or the sheer size of his oevre. Read his biography here; information about the specific book polaroids here.

Thankyou Diego Uchitel. Thankyou Grandma.

xxx

Beach hair and mangoes

8 Jan

I am writing with sand in my hair and salt on my eyelashes, wearing only a bikini and eating a mango.

And guess what? It’s 37 degrees (99F) outside!

I spent the morning at Bronte beach soaking up the sun, swimming and admiring the lifeguards. Bronte is just south of Bondi; between the two beaches is a breathtaking clifftop walk looking out to sea. And it takes less than half an hour. (Do it. Instructions here.)

I’m quickly discovering that one of the best characteristics of Sydney is its beach culture.

There’s nothing like kicking off your shoes, running along the sand and diving headlong into a cold, roaring wave. That first plunge into the water, when everything goes silent…

So I’m just filing a missing person’s report (for myself) to save you all the trouble. If (when) I disappear, look for me at the beach. But which beach? I’m going to a different beach every day, so try them all! Bring a towel and money for chips!

P.S. I’ll be wearing a sky blue Seafolly bikini. Don’t steal it.

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Somewhere between Bronte and Bondi

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The latest addition to the summer wardrobe:bikiniDSC_0627 DSC_0625

Beach hair and mangoes: always a great combination

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Sending all of my love and thoughts to my brother fighting fires today, as well everybody in the area facing “catastrophic” fire warnings. Be safe!!

xxx

Run, and don’t look back!

3 Jan

I struggle to get excited about New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve seems more about the closing of the year rather than the one beginning; it is a reminder of all that is lost or faded away. The year 2012 was a big one for me, living five months in New York, one in Paris, and the rest in Canberra to graduate from my degree. Some friendships were sadly lost, I made many mistakes, and there was much struggle and heartache.

But there were also good times. Before the clocks ticked over to 2013, I had to reflect on all the amazing experiences that are now only memories. Time in New York, travelling through Boston and Tennessee, staying in London with my best friend, eating croissants every day in Paris… all these adventures are lost in the haze of memory and the passing of time.

And also, on the 31st of December, as the hazy pall of evening descends on the city, it’s impossible to become excited about something entirely unknown. What will 2013 hold? Will there be as much joy, discovery and growth as 2012? Will the new relationships I develop be just as rich and rewarding as those in the year past?

And the fireworks, although beautiful, exacerbate these thoughts. There’s something achingly sad in their beauty. Something so large, bright and loud: who else, at the same time, can see what I see? Can the people no longer in my life (ah, the heartache) see them too?

…And are they thinking about me?

New Year’s is about the passing of time, things that no longer are, the reluctant closing of a door.

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(Photos taken in Rose Bay, Sydney)

But something in me has shifted during these first few days of the new year. I have gained a new attitude, and I am attributing it to an evening spent with my dear friend Thea. Lost in deep leather chairs in the muted light of a wine bar (at 3 Weeds, Rozelle), we drank champagne and looked through the photos of our 2012 London adventure. And rather than mourning the passing of those experiences, it became a celebration and general thankfulness for them having happened at all.

This time last year we had no idea we would even be in London, let alone envisioning the most incredible ten days we’ve ever spent together.

And as I listened to Thea talk about her upcoming year, her excitement and eternal optimism was catching: I suddenly realised that New Year’s Eve should really be all about hope. Hope for experiences and relationships better and brighter than any I have ever known. Hope for growth, learning and challenges. And ultimately hope that we can be together in a year, looking forward to 2014.

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So what will 2013 hold? Eesh… who knows?! All we can do is emulate such childlike wonder of these two, especially in the face of confusion and the completely new.

All I know is that I’m not looking back. 2012 – and all that entails – is in the past, and it’s staying there.

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Now, let’s run headlong into 2013 and, most importantly, DON’T LOOK BACK!

Ever hopeful, signing out. xoxo