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A Year of Daily Walks

Solvitur ambulando – “it is solved by walking”

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It’s my walkaversary!

I started recording my daily steps on my phone on the 14th August 2016, with the aim of walking at least 8,000 per day. It’s now a year later and I haven’t missed a single day.

It’s swings and roundabouts, of course – my absolute minimum on any given day is 5,000 steps (which I only allow myself if I’m sick or the weather is particularly inclement) but on most days, I’ll manage more than 8,000.

Here are my stats for the year – 3,366,509 steps walked and 1,953km covered. That’s a daily average of 9,223 steps and 5.35km per day

Big Boy still walks with me about four mornings out of seven.

We don’t walk fast – the process is meditative as much as physical – and I don’t want to mess up my stats by incurring an injury (yes, I know that makes me sound like an old woman). We are incredibly blessed to be able to stroll by the sea every morning, often in time to watch the sunrise…

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There is almost always a light show on display…

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Our walking route takes us along the Iron Cove Bay Run…

…and then back to Hawthorne Canal and the Greenway…

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On weekends, I’ll often walk in the city – starting at one end and working my way down to the Harbour. There’s always so much to see…

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To celebrate my walkaversary, I went for an extra long walk to Birkenhead Point with my friend Carol, where I bought myself a new pair of Merrell walking shoes…

Do you go for daily walks? I’d love to know where your steps take you – hopefully you enjoy them as much as I do! ♥

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Happy Moments

Let me share some happy moments from the past few weeks with you…

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Little Tom had his 8th birthday recently and I made myself very popular with his parents by giving him a mountain of chocolate…

While I was in tempering mode, I made these dark chocolate ginger bites for Pete (dropping a piece of naked ginger into each mould was much easier than dipping them individually)…

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Cash Palace Emporium in Leichhardt has now closed, although their pop-up shop in Paddington will be open for a few months longer. When Elaine was clearing out her shop, she found this Japanese New Year’s decoration and gave it to me as a gift…

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I caught the train to Auburn to explore the Arzum Turkish Market and came home with a bag full of treasures – Jordanian za’atar, tulumba, pastirma, two sorts of olives and three types of ground chilli – pul biber, isot and maras…

That night we made pizzas topped with Turkish tomato and pepper paste, and sprinkled with dark isot biber chilli flakes…

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I’ve been reading about Japanese boro – textiles created from mending and patchworking old fabrics together. Traditionally a peasant craft born of necessity, the few pieces which have survived now sell for thousands of dollars each. If you’re interested, there are some wonderful photos here.

I found an old denim shirt in our rag pile and was inspired to repurpose the fabric. The aim is to gradually add bits to it as time goes on…

It already ties into quite a funky 60s-style shoulder bag…

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My friend Diana gave us a large bag of her homegrown “Hot Lips” chillies. They dried brilliantly in the dehydrator and we’re fully stocked for the next year at least…

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I took Mum to the Rocks and Minerals Show at Paddington RSL Club a couple of weeks’ ago. While there, I picked up this gorgeous boulder opal from Brett of Opal Empire for just $20…

Mum bought this magnificent Canadian jade, carved locally by Tom Taverner. He’s widely regarded as the best jade carver in Australia…

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As I’ve so often mentioned before, I really do have the best friends in the whole world. PeteV and Nic bought me this special salt from Mexico – it’s sat on my shelf for a while now as I was under the impression that it contained ground up grasshoppers. It turns out that’s not the case, it actually contains ground up worms.

When the laughing had died down, PeteV showed up at the front door (they live three houses away) with a bottle of aged tequila and a vial of grasshopper salt so that we could do a taste comparison. It’s amazing how two shots of tequila at 5pm on a Monday can brighten up the entire week to come…

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Last Saturday, we climbed the Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout with Uncle Steve and his kids – it was a glorious family day out, and the view was stunning

It always surprises me that this attraction isn’t more widely known! The Bridge Climb can cost up to $380 per person, but the Pylon Lookout, which takes you up nearly as high, is just $15 for adults and even less for students and concession card holders. Better still, you’re allowed to take a camera up (which you can’t do on the Bridge Climb) and there is an unobstructed 360º view of the city and harbour…

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Our daily walks continue – the winter mornings are cold, but often sunny. I loved this photo so much that it ended up as my computer screen wallpaper…

A rainy night left a perfect sky mirror on the Greenway’s basketball court…

Gorgeous Sammy at UTS Rowers makes the best coffee on the Bay Run – in the morning light, she glows like an angel…

We took this photo last week from the Rowers’ Club, just as the sun was rising…

A couple of bridge photos…here’s the pedestrian overpass, which is home to the light show, bathed in golden light…

…and this morning, the motorway bridge was a visual feast of curves, lights, reflections and blue…

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Finally, the scruffy-haired love of my life forgot to turn the dishwasher on before going to bed. The following morning, I gave him a sock (a stripey one, of course)…

“What’s this for?”

“I’m setting you free. You’re a rubbish house elf!”

“What?”

“Mistress has given Petey a sock. Petey is freeeee…”*

(*It’s a Harry Potter reference)

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Wishing you all many happy moments!

Thank you for letting me share mine with you! ♥

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A couple of months ago, my young friend Rory, who takes great pains to keep me up to date with all that is cool and hip in the 21st century (including not using the words “cool” and “hip”), tried to explain to to me what a “homegirl” was.

I’m still not quite sure I understand, but what I am certain of is that if I did have a “homegirl”, it would be Allison. We don’t see each other as often as either of us would like, but when we do, it’s always for a food adventure. And it can’t be expensive, high-end restaurant dining – we’ve tried that and always ended up disappointed. Instead, it has to involve ferreting around for treasure in little suburban stores, finding new and exciting cuisines that we haven’t tried before.

On our most recent day out, we started in Homebush West (formerly Flemington) at the recently opened Hometown Hand Made Noodle Restaurant (97 The Crescent, Homebush West). Their house special –  the Xi’an Cold Noodle dish – was delicious and set us back just $7.80. The noodles were chewy and handcut, and the sauce was spicy and sour. It was an auspicious start to a great day…

The Special Pan Fried Pork Dumplings were a huge serve of 15 pieces for $10.80. Al declared them to be the best dumplings she’d ever eaten…

If you’re in the area and feeling adventurous, pop in and try this place out. They’re closed on Tuesdays…

From there, we wandered around the corner to the Viet Hoa Fish Market. Since discovering this place, I’ve almost completely stopped going to the Sydney Fish Markets in town. Their stock is always fresh (often live) and interesting, and the prices are very reasonable. Cash only though!

On a tip from  my mate Jay, we asked about the live eels they keep at the back of the store. I’d never cooked eel before, so I bought one ($20/kg) which they killed and filleted for me. Packed with a bag of ice, we stashed it in the boot of Al’s car and kept going (be warned, there’s a freaky end to this story coming up…)

From Flemington, I persuaded Al to come with me to Petersham on the promise of Portuguese tarts. First stop was Charlie’s Deli – an old established store on the main strip. I love this shop, because whilst it’s quite sparsely stocked, every single item on offer is unusual and interesting. I’ve bought ceramics there in the past but this time I came home with imported Portuguese chicken seasoning mix.

By the way, the blue slabs in the photo below that look like Play Doh? They’re laundry soap…

The promised Portuguese tarts were scoffed with coffee at the Honeymoon Bakery. We prefer these to the ones sold at the more famous Sweet Belem across the road, and at $2 each, the price is hard to beat. We both bought a box to take home for the kids…

We ended our day with a visit to the intriguing Petersham Liquor Mart. Where else can you find Serbian plum brandy in Sydney?

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Al went home with amazing beef ribs from the Portuguese butcher, but I still had my eel to tackle. Lovely Ania suggested I cut the fillet into pieces and then simply flour and fry them in butter. Sounds simple right?

Well, it was, except that no-one warned me that eels have very primitive nervous systems and can continue to spasm even after they’re long dead and dissected. Warning! Warning! Don’t click on the video below if you’re squeamish!!

This video was taken four hours after the eel had been killed. Pete pointed out that it was only happening as it  warmed up, so hopefully it didn’t do this the whole time it was in the boot of Al’s car. The sound is off so you don’t have to listen to me screaming…

It was, without doubt, the best eel I’d ever eaten, but Pete had to fry them for me, as I couldn’t touch them again…

Finally, a free range chicken, roasted in  my Portuguese chicken seasoning. The boys loved it…

Thanks for a fabulous day, Al! Can’t wait for our next food adventure! ♥

 

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Ha! I’ve just typed the heading to this post and I’m wondering if it will make it to the final cut. Maybe I’ll leave it – it’s what came into my head when I looked at the photos I wanted to share, plus it really is how I feel at the moment.

After six months of daily Headspace meditation and ten months of daily walks, I’m doing well and enjoying a sense of balance. In addition, I’m feeling much more resilient to stuff that happens these days, if that makes sense…

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Serendipitously, Sydney has been at her most charming in the last month and it’s been a joy to get out and about, exploring all she has to offer. Pete and I caught the train to town for Vivid 2017

The Opera House was transformed into a living coral reef…

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Pete’s cousin Richard did the electrical work on Supernova, so of course, we had to make a special trip in to see that…

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The MCA was again a canvas for moving light and colour…

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A small alleyway was turned into a sea of light and colour in Tidal

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Pete and I try to visit a new precinct each year, and this time we walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens. The waratah light sculpture was a standout…

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Light of Thoughts – a stylised interactive “brain” – was made all the better by a chance meeting with the young Chinese artist who created it…

He was justifiably proud of his work!

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While Vivid was on, we had family visiting from overseas.

Young Rachel, my nephew Nick’s partner, became an instant kindred spirit. She used to work as an assistant curator in Contemporary South-East Asian Art, so you can just imagine how excited I was to have someone to drag to art galleries with me! We visited the White Rabbit Gallery, then trekked over to the MCA. On the way, we stopped at Hat World in the Rocks to buy Rach a Breton, to protect her from Sydney’s occasionally terrifying seagull population. Naturally, I had to get one too (can’t resist a good hat!)…

The MCA is my happy place – I try to go whenever I can. At the moment, French-Algerian artist Kader Attia has stunning pieces on display.

This untitled piece, created from 116 stained glass fragments, was one of my favourites. It can be viewed from the front…

…and the back…

This interesting untitled work was created from an ancient sculpture combined with neon lighting. Both Rachel and I would happily have taken it home…

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Sydney’s street art scene is growing, and we passed some fabulous works as we meandered through the city…

Aboriginal elder Jenny Munro, as painted by artist Matt Adnate, graces the wall of the Novotel hotel…

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When I heard that a portrait had been painted of Fighting Father Dave Smith, I made a special trip to Martin Place to view it.

Dave and I go back a long way – I have wonderful memories of him sitting in my college room, decked out in his bike leathers, talking to me about God. Even in his early twenties, he was the least judgmental Christian I’d ever met. He’s spent the past thirty years fighting – in the ring, taking on churches and governments; always defending, always preaching, always faithful and always driven. Oh, and more than a little bit crazy. When I last saw him (it must have been ten years ago), he told me I was welcome to join the Fighting Fathers, but I’d have to get the tattoo.

It’s a joy to see him honoured for his enormous contribution to those in need. This artwork by Archibald finalist Luke Cornish aka E.L.K. has captured him perfectly

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Are you still reading?

Let me end this long rambling post with a couple of early morning photos.

The sun rises later in winter, producing amazing light which changes over the course of our daily walk. This photo captured every aspect of the weather that morning – the fluffy white clouds and blue skies reflected in the sea, the band of grey storm clouds looming in the distance, and the golden shoreline, lit up by the first rays of the sun…

And finally, a photo which provides an apt metaphor for where I’m at right now.

Big Boy and I were out walking in the drizzling rain last week and as we turned to head home, we saw this magnificent rainbow. I can’t remember the last time I saw one so complete. I’m always incredibly grateful for the time I get to spend with our eldest son and seeing such a glorious sight was icing on the cake. It only lasted for ten minutes, before the top of the arch started to fade.

Getting wet and cold? That was insignificant by comparison.

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Wishing you all a very happy week, lovely friends! ♥

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Whenever I visit the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale, I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to be able to view this astonishing collection of contemporary Chinese art. The gallery is owned and funded by Judith Nielson, the exhibitions are curated by David Williams, and entry continues to be completely free.

The Dark Matters is currently on display, showcasing select pieces with a primary focus on black, white and grey tones, with only the occasional splash of colour. Williams has curated a cohesive, brilliantly presented exhibition, with artworks perfectly complemented by their surroundings.

As always, we began on the top floor.

Yang Mushi’s Grinding is a collection of over a thousand hand-hewn, black lacquered wooden blocks. The polished aluminium base makes it difficult to distinguish where each piece ends and its reflection begins…

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Contemporary Chinese art is often full of angst and pain, so it was a joy to view husband and wife Kung Wen-Yi and Ko Yu-Cheng’s Water Drops, a Buddhist-inspired work which “celebrate(s) rain as an analogy for creative imagination”…

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One of my favourite works of the exhibition was hidden away behind the elevators!

Chen Chun-Hao’s Twelve Animals – Rabbit, Monkey, Chicken are “drawings” made with headless nails, hammered in from the back. At first glance, they appear clever, but on closer inspection, they’re actually genius…

The details of the animals  – hair, fur, feathers, mouths, eyes and ears – are all carefully “drawn” by the shadows cast by the nails…

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Chang Nai-Wen’s AIP-PF is a series of three marble sculptures, each enlarging and enhancing the details of the previous one, adding extra “pixels” (detail) with each step, much as a 3D digital printer would do…

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I think art succeeds when it elicits a true emotional response in the viewer. Wen-Ying Huang’s Searching II is an intriguing and haunting work, created on a computerised loom which enabled the artist to “hide” a second image woven with reflective thread, and revealed only when illuminated by flashlight. In its unlit form, it’s deceptively drap and grey.

When I shone a torch over the fabric, I felt shaken and teary – the glowing scene of armed soldiers and someone cowering in fear made me feel as if I’d exposed them with my light. Powerful stuff indeed, at least for me.

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This is just a tiny snippet of The Dark Matters exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery. Because of the focus on black, it’s difficult to capture many of the pieces in photos, so it’s definitely worth a visit in person!

White Rabbit Gallery
30 Balfour Street
Chippendale NSW 2008

Open 10am to 5pm, Wed-Sun.
The Dark Matters exhibition runs until 30 July 2017

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