Sunday, 27 October 2013

Hairy Goat - London

Over the last couple of years I have spent a substantial amount of my travel time in the incredible bustling city of London. A city that I love returning to and am sure will spend much more time in over the years to come. Its vibrancy and combination of old and new is incredibly unique, with the added element of discovery one can have by simply wandering the streets. There is always something new and wonderful to immerse yourself in.

As I am sure to write a lot about London over the next little while, I don't want to go into too much detail of the city itself or my many experiences there, instead, today I wish to write about one of my favourite experiences in London - the Mystery Photography Tour run by Hairy Goat.

In 2012 I spent almost two weeks running around London by myself. I did everything! I think I saw a show or concert every night, explored the galleries, shopped, walked for hours on end and visited every London tourist attraction you can think of. But, for me the Hairy Goat Photography Tour stood out.

Run by the wonderful Corinna, a fellow Australian, you are taken on a tour of the city of London like no other. For a couple of hours you are immersed in the sights and history of central London, as she takes you to her favourite hidden gems.

I was fortunate enough to be the only client on the day and we were joined by one of Corinna's trainees leading to the three of us laughing and running around the city, cameras in hand snapping everything we saw.

As it is predominantly a photography tour, you are given as much guidance as needed with your camera. If you are a beginner you will learn the basics of photography and be able to relate it to your specific camera whilst exploring London in a new light. The Hairy Goat team expose you to a new way of looking at the sights you see, allowing you to visualise and capture your images differently. Even though I am somewhat experienced with my camera, Corinna encouraged me to view London from different angles and to get out of my comfort zone (I was literally lying on the floor taking photos of puddles at one stage!) which I took with me beyond London and on the rest of my travels since.

I caught up with my parents in London just after attending the tour and I swear I couldn't stop talking about it and ended up taking them on the rout myself later in the week!!!

All the photos in today's blog are from this tour. Although I take a lot of pride in many of my photos taken of the city over the years (many inspired from this tour) I thought I would simplify my selection and give you an example of the sorts of places visited on the tour itself.

As I said, I went on the London Mystery Photography Tour (a tour combining photography tuition and a path along the somewhat hidden sights of London with all its history) but Hairy Goat run a large range of different tours and workshops designed to get you experimenting and taking the best photos you can of this beautiful city.

If you are in London, or are thinking of visiting I highly recommend you check them out!

Hairy Goat -
Or check them out on Facebook here.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Lemon Drizzle

Today felt like a lemon drizzle cake day! 

I love waking up to bright blue skies. I instantly run around opening all the doors and windows to absorb as much fresh air as I possibly can. 

As my wonderful string quartet, Mill Point Quartet, had a rehearsal at my place this afternoon I thought I should make use of the lemons in my kitchen and bake this truly scrumptious cake for afternoon tea. Lets face it what is a rehearsal at my place without some cake!! 

This amazing Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe is actually taken from the lovely Rose at The who has very kindly allowed me to share her recipe with you all. If you haven't checked out her award winning lifestyle blog yet make sure you do! 

With all the doors and windows wide open I filled the streets with scrumptious smells and the sounds of Dave Burbeck (with his Jazz Moods - Cool album) to accompany the twittering birds. 

To start, heat your oven to 180degrees Celsius.  

Cream together 3 eggs and 170g of caster sugar, until light and fluffy before beating in 170g of unsalted butter (room temperature). Fold in 170g of self raising flour and the zest of 2 lemons. 
Pour mixture into a greased loaf tin and pop in the oven for about 30mins or until an cake skewer comes out clean. 

Whilst in the oven prepare the sweet lemon drizzle goodness by mixing together the juice of 2 lemons and about 110g of icing (powdered sugar). The amount may need to be changed depending on how big your lemons are. 

When your cake is ready, use your skewer to poke holes all over the cake pour over your delicious syrup. 

You can serve this cake hot or cold depending on your preference and transport needs. 
Thanks again to The Londoner, for the recipe! This is really one of the most scrumptious afternoon tea treats! Slices will continue to magically appear and disappear on your guests plates all afternoon. 

 We did actually rehearse as well as filling our faces... promise!!

Ingredient List:

3 eggs
170g caster sugar
170g self-raising flour
170g unsalted butter
2 lemons (zest and juice)
110g icing sugar (approx)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

How it all started...

One of my favourite things about traveling is adding to the ever growing list of amazing people I am now privileged enough to call friends. 

A large number of my closest friends are currently living across the world, many of whom I met on my travels. This, of course, has its challenges, but is more often than not simply wonderful. You can't help but smile when you hear the sound of an incoming text, email or Facebook message informing you that someone is thinking of you on the other side of the world and wanted to say hi. 

(I will admit that there is also the great benefits to having friends live in a country other than your own, it does provide you with an excuse to jump on a plane to go visiting! (they also probably have a couch for you to crash on which is always an added bonus ;-)  ) 

I have been thinking about this a lot this week as I have spent a large portion catching up on international correspondence. In particular trying to organise a Skype date with one of my dearest friends in the whole world!!! 

This is the story of how I met Ursula, the catalyst to my world expeditions... 

Taken at my mother's 50th birthday celebrations in Scotland 2012.
Photo credit: Robyn Hamilton
In April 2006 I was fortunate enough to travel to Turin, Italy for the 14th International Suzuki Convention for my violin studies. I was 16 years old. Mum and I packed our bags and headed off to Paris to begin our train journey south through Lyon, Nice and across to Turin for an incredible week of classes and concerts in this picturesque city. (Unfortunately I only have a couple of photos from before 2011, and are all scans of printed copies)

Paris 2006

Turin 2006
By chance, I happened to be in the same class as a young German violinist called Ursula. We said hi a couple of times and smiled at each other but nothing really more. The week of classes, and performances came and went leaving us quickly grabbing each's email addresses (I believe I still have the yellow post-it note she wrote her email on) before going our separate ways. Mum and I went on to visit Venice and Rome before returning to Perth, Ursula returned to Ingolstadt in Germany. 

After returning home we stayed in touch, emailing each other regularly and by December that year Ursula was in Australia to experience her first hot Christmas with my family. 

Another year of emails went by and one week after my final exam of high school I jumped on a plane destined for Ingolstadt to live with Ursula and her family for three months over Christmas. 

I was hooked!!

As soon as the initial hellos and introductions to her father at the Munich airport were done it was as if we had never parted, instantly inseparable. We spent the remaining months giggling, gossiping, eating way too much chocolate, creating and exchanging music, attending school, attending concerts, enjoying christmas traditions and exploring cities. 

As they say, the rest is history... 

In line for ballet tickets at the State Opera, Vienna December 2007.
That first trip to Germany was incredible. I felt as though her, truly amazing, family had adopted me and was so at home with amazing new friends with as well as the opportunity to discover wonderful places and traditions through local eyes. 

Saying goodbye that first time was honestly one of the hardest things I have ever done. 
Now, I must take every opportunity to visit as often as I can!

Prague 2011
I returned to Perth to complete my Bachelor of Music, but every year since I graduated I have found an excuse to head over and visit one of my very best friends. 

It is always the same, like nothing has changed and no time has passed. We drift straight back into our 16 year old selves, running around, giggling, gossiping and still eating way too much chocolate. 

Taken at St Andrews, Scotland where we picked up this now well traveled and iconic blue guitar!
Photo credit: Robyn Hamilton
Ursula's family is now based in Berlin. I have loved having the time to explore this fascinating city with so much to uncover through this friendship. (I will be sure to blog a lot on Berlin in the coming months!) One of the greatest things about visiting Europe is that it gives us the chance to choose a destination that neither of us know, discovering its hidden wonders together. 

A photo taken from our favourite spot of Berlin, picnicking on the banks of Museum Island. 
I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity for this relationship to form (I thank the internet and Facebook for most of it!). We often talk about how incredibly lucky we feel to have met the way we did, and how pleased we are that we ended up exchanging emails! Whenever we are asked about how we met the two of us start jumping out of our skin, eager to share our story.

The docks of Hamburg, Germany 2013
Ursula and my relationship is extremely special and unique, but I have so many wonderful people in my life like this. Aren't we lucky to live in a time when it is possible to form such deep friendships so quickly with people you will only see sporadically? Where distance is no longer a reason for you to not have people part of your life in some way regularly?

All it takes is saying hi every now and then to show the other that you know they exist and to remind them you do too. There is something really incredible about knowing you have people on the other side of the globe that care about you and that you can turn to if needs be.

Even though these long distance relationships may take dedication, with a little nurturing they can become something magical.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Movie Night Snacks!

For the next couple of weeks I am playing in an opera production of Mark Adamo's Little Women. It is always great to play in productions like this, but I always forget just how mentally and physically demanding operas are to play! As I got a night off tonight, and it will be the last for a while, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for a restful movie night with the family. 

I of course then spent the afternoon researching appropriate movie snacks and came up with these little wonders. Spice roasted chickpeas. 

Not only are they incredibly easy and cheap to make, they are much healthier than your regular movie treats and are full of flavour!

I guess you could say that the soundtrack to my recipe today was my own performance of Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata for Viola (accompanied by my lovely housemate Adrian!). I have a solo recital coming up and have discovered that using baking time for recipes as the start of my practice session is a great way to ensure I get the work done! It is just enough time to get stuck into the work so that once the cooking process is done and your goodies are out of the oven you are thriving to continue. Perfect really - Baked yummies and beautiful music with productive practice. 

Anyway, down to business! Grab yourself a tin or of chickpeas. 
Drain and rinse before leaving to dry on a tea-towel. 

Be sure to let them dry completely as it will allow the spices to stick better. 

What is great about this recipe is that it isn't really a recipe. You can just use it as a basic idea, and adjust as you like. Experimenting with different amounts of each spice or with different flavours. 

Once your chickpeas are dry, preheat your oven to a hot 220degrees Celsius. 

Place your chickpeas onto a lined baking tray and spray/drizzle with oil. 
I then continued to sprinkle on roughly a teaspoon of ground garlic, a teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 cajun pepper for a kick (you could also use ground chilli) and a good helping of salt and pepper. 

Toss the chickpeas to make sure they are evenly coated with the spice mix before popping into your oven. 

Roast for 15mins before mixing well and placing the tray back into the oven for another 20-30mins. Be careful at this stage, check and toss regularly to be sure that they don't burn. You want them to become dry and crisp so the longer in the oven the better. 

As I said, this is just more like a guide. I wasn't strict with measurements so go wild and experiment with flavours! 

Alongside these I also made a small bowl of roasted parmesan peas. 
On a lined baking try I placed a handful of cooked washed and dried peas, top with a large helping of freshly grated parmesan. Sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt and place into a 200degrees Celsius oven for roughly 15mins. 

This recipe can also work (probably better) with soya or broad beans. 

And there you have it! A great healthy addition to the snack table anytime of day. 
Tip the mix into a bowl and place on the table for all to enjoy.

I would like to point out that the traditional popcorn and chocolate was also on the snack table tonight... But honestly, what is a movie night without the popcorn tradition? 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Capture The Colour

The challenge - to find five of your own images that best represent the five colours; red, blue, green, yellow, and white. 

As many of you are aware I love trying to capture the spirit of a location/town/city through a simple image. I love having the space and time to wander streets with my camera in hand and attempt to find an image that not only is beautiful to look at but provokes the feeling of what it is like to be there at that point in time.

I recently found out about the Capture the Colour photo contest run by Travel Supermarket, and thought I would flick through my travel photos of the past couple of years to find the images that best represent the colour categories. Not only did I want to find photos that represented the colours, but also that represented the variety of places visited recently.

It is such a wonderful concept. I am often fascinated how different cities and countries have different colour charts. One of the main interests in terms of colour, for me, is to compare the different types of greens or yellows (for example) in each country and although this challenge only wanted one photo of each colour it is still a great way to remind myself of how colour can depict a place. For example when thinking of London many people will have images of red pop through their head with the telephone boxes (as displayed below), double-decker busses and tube signs... or when thinking of Greece you may well think of bright white of buildings contrasting to the intense blue sky.

To be honest after going through all of my photos (I mean ALL of them) I am amazed by how many options I have for blue and green! Very challenging to narrow it down. White was much more challenging, I didn't just want to go down my black and white photography rout, but there are little images that really focus on the colour white.

If for nothing else this was simply an excuse for me to get out the photo albums and reminisce...


Wandering the business centre of the city of London, 2012


This is a photo of an exquisite handblown Murano glass sculpture on the island of Murano, Venice, Italy 2011. 


The natural greens of the Irish countryside, the county of Donegal, 2013


A lone traveler wanders the countryside with his kite at dawn just across from Stone Henge, England, 2011 


Jim Campbell's art instilation Scattered Lights at the 2013 Perth International Arts Festival

As well as submitting my images, I am required to ask five favourite fellow travel bloggers to enter.
I know the competition is almost closed (October 9th) but I do hope my nominated bloggers give it a go! I very much look forward to seeing their work. If you want to join in the fun visit the official website here.


What colour speaks to you?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Mary St Bakery

Ah weekend breakfasts!

Given I work virtually 7 days a week, the term "weekend" doesn't often mean very much and usually lazy breakfasts aren't limited to specific days. This week however there was time to be somewhat more traditional and join many other Perth locals on the their quest to start the day with good food and great company.

Today Claire and I hit one of Beaufort Street's newest cafes, Mary Street Bakery.
Located on the corner of Mary St and Beaufort in Highgate this new kid on the block is quickly gaining a name for itself as a must try.

With simple un-opposing school style furniture and friendly staff, this bakery come cafe has a really lovely vibe. People bustle in an out as they wait around for a free table whilst the happily chatting breakfast-goers continue munching away, or head straight to the back to the bakery to purchase their fresh bread and scrumptious baked treats.

Although it includes the good old eggs and toast combination ("if it ain't broke don't try fix it" right?), the menu isn't full of all your typical breakfast options. Choices range from boiled eggs with buttered soldiers and chipotle chutney to the more "unusual" duck filled pancake with shitake and hoi sin sauce.
But I guess as the menu is open until 3pm one could say they are more breakfast come lunch options.

We spent the morning gossiping about work, irritating clients and our travel dreams over good coffee and great food.

While I felt like being simple and went for slow cooked eggs on buttered toast...

Claire opted for crispy thick cut pork bell, beans, fried egg with kimchi.

Given we were in a bakery, and were surrounded by delicious looking baked treats we couldn't go past trying something so decided to demolish a fresh doughnut between the two of us. So worth it!

I think it is worth quickly mentioning the coffee. Mary Street are proudly using Pound coffee beans, a new local roaster who are gaining high praise for their produce. Many of you will be shocked to know that I don't actually drink coffee... I live off tea... I did however give the job of coffee reviewer to Claire who gave it a big thumbs up!

As mentioned, the bakery found at the back of the cafe is full of a large selection of fresh bread and baked treats including croissants, brownies, rhubarb bread and butter puddings and muffins. 

If we weren't quite so full I am sure we would have left with armfuls of goodies to take home.

If you are looking for somewhere with a relaxed fresh atmosphere to eat and people watch, or if you simply are looking for somewhere to get fresh bread then give why not Mary Street Cafe a try. 

I spent the afternoon with friends performing as part of a string quartet at an incredibly sweet wedding located at the Core Cider House in Pickering Brook. Unfortunately it was bucketing down with rain meaning the couple couldn't take advantage of the beautiful grounds. Instead the ceremony was held in one of the working sheds creating real rustic charm.

I am sure I will be up that way again in the not too distant future and will take on the terrible job of taste testing and will be sure to share my findings with you all. If you get the chance to beat me too it though, hit the hills and head to the Core, for good food and even better cider!

With the downpour cleaning the air for a fresh October evening, I couldn't resist stopping to take yet another photo of this spectacular view! I don't think this sight will ever get old.

Where is your favourite breakfast spot?