Bellingen Community Markets

The Bellingen Community Market is one of the largest regional markets in Australia and held on the third Saturday of every month at the Bellingen Sports Oval off Church St.  A gold coin donation to the local Rotary Club will gain you entry and from there, be prepared for a sensory overload.

Everything and anything is for sale at the Bellingen Community Markets.  From copper pots to chainsaws, to sculptures, hand made clothing, fairy floss, fake sunglasses, polished stones, beautiful wooden boards and trivets, pet supplies, home made condiments, hand crafted skin care, interior soft furnishing, junk jewellery, knitting supplies and everything in between.

Here is my photo essay of the colourful and eclectic Bellingen Community Markets:

Bellingen Mkts 01 Bellingen Mkts 02 Bellingen Mkts 04 Bellingen Mkts 05 Bellingen Mkts 06 Bellingen Mkts 07 Bellingen Mkts 08 Bellingen Mkts 09 Bellingen Mkts 10

Bellingen Mkts 03

Need a box? They even sell boxes at the Bellingen Markets

Local fresh produce, relishes, fine art and craft, antiques, plants, pottery, hats, bric’n’brac, new and second hand clothing, books, bags, toys, jewellery, gemstones, music, candles, soaps, beauty and alternative products, pamper yourself to an outdoor massage or take a sneak peak at destiny with astrology and tarot.

Bellingen Mkts 19 Bellingen Mkts 15 Bellingen Mkts 14 Bellingen Mkts 16 Bellingen Mkts 17 Bellingen Mkts 09 Bellingen Mkts 10 Bellingen Mkts 13 Bellingen Mkts 21 Bellingen Mkts 22 Bellingen Mkts 24 Bellingen Mkts 25 Bellingen Mkts 26

Bellingen Mkts 18

Just two ingredients in this peanut butter – roasted peanuts and salt. The peanuts are ground when still warm after roasting – and it’s good, so, so good

Bellingen Mkts 23

This stall is called ‘Shelf Respect’ – love that!

Bellingen Mkts 29 Bellingen Mkts 30 Bellingen Mkts 31

It’s the perfect place to play, shop, eat, drink and be happy. With a smorgasbord of multi‐cultural culinary delights, tantalise your taste‐buds with delicious Italian wood‐fired pizza, German goods, Indian dishes, Mexican meals, healthy wraps, pastas, Buffalo products, Moroccan food, Asian cuisine, seafood, traditional sausage sangas, bacon and eggs rolls, pancakes, scrumptious homemade cakes, sweets, donuts and chocolates, gelato and sorbet, ice‐cream, ice treats, juices, smoothies, espresso coffee and boutique ale.

Bellingen Mkts 32


Bellingen Mkts 33 Bellingen Mkts 34 Bellingen Mkts 35 Bellingen Mkts 36

Bellingen Mkts 38 Bellingen Mkts 39 Bellingen Mkts 40

Bellingen Mkts 41

Lift one side and you have two trivets for your table. Clever design made with beautiful local wood


Bellingen Mkts 47 Bellingen Mkts 48 Bellingen Mkts 49

Bellingen Mkts 46

There’s entertainment for young and old alike at the Bellingen Community Markets

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photo essay of the Bellingen Community Markets.


Bellingen Community Markets
Church St Bellingen Football Oval, Bellingen, New South Wales
Held: Third Saturday of every month

London 2012 – Olympic Park

After an awesome night in Hyde Park for the official London 2012 Opening Ceremony party, we were keen to get more of an Olympic fix and decided to meet my friend Claire the next morning and head to Stratford to Olympic Park.

We knew that there would be a £10 entry fee just to get in to the Park (no events included), but what we didn’t know is that we had to pre book tickets online before arriving. There was no gate and no where we could pay £10 to get in. So many tourists were in the same boat as us, just wanting to get in to Olympic Park and just soak up the atmosphere knowing there was no chance of getting into any events. Not possible. We tried to book tickets on Claire’s phone there and then without success. Alas, it was not to be.

The view of the thousands of people trying to view Olympic Park

One of the security guards suggested we go up to level 3 of John Lewis, one of the UK’s biggest department stores, and from there we’ll see a view of the Olympic Park. Ok, that sounded like a good plan, so that’s what we did. And so did about 40 million other people, half of which I’m sure were not wearing deodorant. It was hot, stuffy and stinky. Let alone near impossible to get near the window to see anything.

Olympic Park

Zorba had enough after about 16 seconds and said he would wait for us outside. Claire and I shopped for London 2012 merchandise and didn’t find anything we liked in our size, so we left also about 10 minutes later.

We found Zorba waiting outside the Olympic Park tavern – I expected him to be in the tavern having a beer whilst waiting for us. Grumpily, Zorba said that it was £3 to get in, and then you had to pay for beers. Out of principal, Zorba refused to pay.

Near where Zorba was waiting for us, Claire spotted a little compact camera on the ground. Oh no! Someone has lost their camera! Shame.  Claire and I had a look at a few of the photos to see if there was anyone in them – and there was one lady of oriental descent wearing a purple top. We looked around the immediate area, couldn’t see anyone that resembled the lady in the photos and shrugged our shoulders. There was no way we’d find them in this crowd. Claire decided to hand the camera into the lady with the megaphone. Just then, I saw a lady with dark hair wearing a purple top, so I approached her to ask if she had lost her camera. Meanwhile Claire and Zorba were shouting at me, “Di what are you doing? It’s not her! You’re crazy!”.

The lady I approached seemed perplexed when I asked her if she had lost her camera. She said no and seemed a bit put out by my forthright nature. I apologised and said we had found a camera and that there was a lady that looked a bit like her in a purple top in some of the photos. I said sorry again and walked away. Claire and Zorba thought I was bonkers! Oh well, I tried.  I know I’d be devastated if it was me who lost a camera.

Three minutes later I get a tap on my shoulder by the very lady I was talking to.  She said it was her camera that she lost – after I walked away she checked her bag and her camera was missing. She described the camera case it was in and was so thankful I approached her. We told her that we handed it in to the megaphone lady. She was very thankful and said bye as she set off to collect her camera. You see! I was right! My good deed for the day done [pat on back].  Claire and Zorba were freaking out that I had managed to find the owner of the lost camera in the throngs of people that were milling around at the time.  I suppose it was uncanny!

Claire ordering her custom made magnum

We had a bit of a walk around the Westfield shopping complex in Stratford, which is huge and impressive. Every big brand has a shop there, Prada, LV, Versace, etc, as well as other quirkier shop fronts, such as Magnum ice creams. I know, why would Magnum have a shop front? Who knew that you could custom make your own magnum? You start with a ‘naked’ magnum, and then choose white, milk or dark chocolate coating, then up to three sprinkles – Claire chose almonds, ginger and something else I can’t remember. The only reason this gets a mention is because I’ve never seen it anywhere before. Claire said it was more of a gimmick than a fantastic ice cream eating experience.

It’s a little like the whole building dedicated to M&Ms in Leicester Square. Four floors of M&M characters, country colour-coded packets, even an M&M themed London bus was inside the M&M store! It was pretty cool. A total tourist gimmick but nonetheless, pretty cool.

Without event tickets, online entry tickets, or last minute mobile phone online entry tickets, we had no chance to get in to Olympic Park and nothing really more to do at Westfield.

And this ends our Olympic Park entry attempt. Unsuccessfully.

There is always a silver lining, right? Our silver lining was the great lunch and afternoon we had cycling around London. You can read about it in my next post.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Umbrian antics

As we prepare to leave our Umbrian palace, Laguscello, we will all be doing so with fond, fond memories.  My top memories are:

  • Getting ridiculously lost trying to find the villa, despite having written instructions, verbal instructions from a local 2km away, and two GPS’s between the two cars.
  • Forgetting where we parked our car in Orvieto and the ordeal of trudging up and down the steaming hot cobbles streets trying to find it. If only we had walked up hill an extra 3 minutes, we would have found it and saved ourselves about two hours.

    Walter frustrated at not being able to find our parked car in Orvieto

  • Trying to find where to buy wood for the pizza oven.  Four different attempts to find the place with written directions proved fruitless.  We accidentally drove past it on our way to Assisi and we not able to find it again until it was our last day. I know, we’re hopeless!
  • The amazingly delicious simple dinners cooked on the coal BBQ at the villa and sitting around the big table in the garden sharing a meal together.
  • The stunning villa itself and the gorgeous views from every room.  It’s secluded, beautiful, so spacious.


  • Zorba and I getting locked in our room – oh, I haven’t told you about this one.  We locked the door on our bedroom on our second night to prevent the niece and nephew waking us up at 5am, only to find the lock had jammed and we were trapped inside. Nothing could free us.  We were rescued the handyman neighbour in the next house who broke in with a crow bar.
  • Seeing fields and fields of bright yellow sunflowers in Umbria amongst rolling hills of wheat borders by pencil pines, and how they looked blurry when Zorba was driving at warp 9 speed along the A1.
  • The impressive and imposing vista of driving past Orvieto perched on top of the hill with its Duomo creating a striking skyline.


  • Shopping for food with mum and dad and watching them be excited and amazed at the produce and the prices.
  • Tartufo or truffles and Cinghale! Wild boar salami is amazing.
  • Obviously, hanging out with my family and spending lots and lots and lots and lots of quality time together in the villa, in the car, in Orvieto, in Assisi… ;)

Ciao ciao Umbria.  Next stop Taormina in Sicilia. Bring on the seaside chic x

Pharmacy convenience Italian style

This is the first time I have seen a pharmacy vending machine. Quite a good idea really and I imagine it would be very convenient, especially in small towns where there are limited shopping hours.

Pharmacy vending machine

In this vending machine there were antiseptic wipes, pain killers (such as panadol equivalent), a pregnancy test (in case of an emergency?), condoms, sunblock, nappies, and toothbrushes just to name a few items.

Pretty cool!


Lightest backpack ever



I don’t think I told you the results of my packing efforts 13 days ago. A new record has been set! I am very pleased to report that my backpack weighed in at just 15.7kg.

Whilst 15.7kg may still seem like a lot to some, let’s put it in context; my toiletry bags usually weigh almost 10kg on their own!

What’s changed this time? I have severely and ruthlessly limited my lotions and potions and been very strict with my shoe choice, with only sandals, thongs (flip flops), and ballerina flats making it in. My casual runner type Merrils I wore on the plane.

Am I missing anything? Yes a few key things, but that’s ok. The fab trip I’m having makes up for all of that! Best if all, I have room to add new purchases!

Speaking of which, my shopping stats are the lowest they have ever been. Almost two weeks since I left home and I have bought two scarves and mum bought me a t-shirt last night that I saw and liked. The only explanation I have for this new and unexpected trend is that I knew the Rome July sales were starting soon and for those that know me well, they know I really hate to pay full price for anything. It’s my Italian blood! So I waited patiently for them to start and we left Rome for Umbria the day the sales started. My shopping stars are aligned differently this trip…

In this pic you can see two weights on the airport check in scales. Zorba did remarkably well also beating me by 400grams with his backpack weighing just 15.3kg.

Italian supermarkets

Oh how I LOVE Italian supermarkets!  Most of them (not all mind you), have the most fantastic produce, delis, and butchers.

Fresh produce in the Umbrian supermarket

Supermarket shopping when I travel is something I love to do. It gives a real insight into the sorts of foods people eat, what is cheap, what is expensive, and what is readily available. For example, when we shopped for our stay at our Umbrian Palace, Laguscello (near Orvieto), two-minute noodles where nowhere to be found.  And I think this is a good thing.

The variety of tomatoes available in the supermarket is enough to make me want to live here, and the price of them is enough to get Walter excited about being here!  I’ve seen tomatoes from Euro 0.99 cents per kilo and the most expensive I’ve seen have been Euro 2.60 per kilo.

A 1.5 litre bottle of natural mineral water at Eurospar, one of the bigger supermarkets in the area costs Euro 0.15.  That’s about A$0.18!!  18 cents!  We pay ten times that in Australian supermarkets!  We are getting totally ripped off!

My contribution to dinner, Caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella bought from the supermarket – OMG yum!

Proscuito crudo (parma ham) cost Euro 7.00 per kilo.  In Australia, we pay a minimum of A$40.00 per kilo for the locally produced proscuito. Imported proscuito costs A$65 per kilo and more.  It’s hard to believe.  And people think Europe is expensive….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two cappuccini and a plain croissant cost Euro 2.60 or A$3.12.  And to think in Australia we pay more than that just for one cappuccino!

Eating out is also so much cheaper than Perth.  Last night for example, Zorba and I had an amazing three-course meal with house red wine for Euro 50, or A$60.  In Perth, it would have cost twice that without a doubt.

It may be expensive to travel to Italy, but once you are here, it’s cheap.

The only thing that isn’t cheap is firewood.  Two sacks of firewood cost Euro 25!  That is heaps!  Still, to be able to make our own pizza dough and cook them in our own wood-fired oven is going to be fantastic.  Can’t wait til we do that tomorrow night!



Roma e Campo dei Fiori markets

Our apartment is so lovely and spacious and has air con – an absolute necessity in Rome’s sweltering July heat.

Our spacious apartment in the historical centre of Rome

There was never a question of what we were going to do on our first morning in Rome.

Obviously, nothing happens before my morning cappuccino and we love to stand at a bar and have it like the locals do.

Zorba’s other nickname could be Tomatino because he loves tomatoes so much. A visit to the Campo dei Fiori food markets was non-negotiable.

The markets offer so much colour, great fresh produce smells, and of course delicious ripe deep red tomatoes.

Campo dei Fiori markets

The locals ask questions to vendors about what is tasting good right now and buying their daily needs – this is how we should shop for food.

There’s a great deli at Campo dei Fiori that we visited every day we were in Rome in 2010.  It’s still serving a massive selection of deli good. We stocked up on marinated anchovies, olives, proscuito, buffalo mozzarella, and bread.

After taking the groceries “home”, we hit the shops along via Del Corso.  We walked for five hours, looking at shoes and clothes here and there.  Neither of us bought anything which is probably a good thing because I later found out that Rome goes on sale on 7 July!

Inside the Pantheon

We visited the Pantheon, Piazza Del Popolo, Piazza Navona, Largo Argentina, among other places.  The Pantheon is over 2000 years old and even with all the technology today, they say they could replicate this building. It is an engineering marvel and so well designed with the hole in the dome that lets light in as well as the rain – but that’s ok because there are drainage holes on the marble floor.

Piazza Navona

The beauty this time around is that we’ve already done most of the tourist sight-seeing, so we can just chill out (or rather melt!) in Rome.


We grabbed a gelato and almost limped back to our apartment on our tired, tired feet. A little rest later and we were ready to head out for ‘la passiagiata’ – the evening stroll – before meeting friends for dinner.


We booked our apartment through Unusual Rome and it’s called Argento Giulia on via Giula, 179 and it cost Euro 150 per night. It is also listed on Worldwide Accom website

via Paolo Emilio, 7
00192 Roma
Tel +39 348 3296384
Skype: unusual.rome


After a long flight leaving home in Perth at 4am, we arrived in steaming hot Dubai some 14 hours later at 13:00 local time. Thank God for tamazapan, they thankfully knocked me out for six hours.  My luggage weighed a record low of just 15.7kg.  So light for me! Proud of my packing efforts x

We were met at the airport and transferred to our four star digs for the night, the lovely Qamardeen Hotel near the Dubai Mall in the old town.

Dubai as a place is surreal.  Pavements are made with granite and marble, everything is clean and neat and it feels so functional and efficient. The hotel shuttle bus took us to the Mall of the Emirates, the famous mall with the indoor ski field.  Hard to believe people are skiing inside a mall when it is 40+ degrees outside!

Ski slope, Mall of the Emirates

Zorba was quick off the shopping mark and bought himself a pair of polarised Oakley sunnies on sale for $170 – good shopping from Zorbs!  My purchases = nil. A first for me! I wanted to, but knowing I have a month ahead of carrying it all on my back was all the motivation I needed to keep my wallet shut.

After a short rest in the hotel, we ventured out for dinner at the adjacent  Al Manzil Hotel at the Courtyard restaurant, set in a gorgeous erm, courtyard setting with trees and candles. Both of us were keen to feast on traditional Arabic cuisine and chose the tasting menu at $45pp.  Way too much food for two people, however delicious.


A huge mezze spread that included a labne, pickles, Kuwait lobster salad and calamari in spicy sauce.

The main course of gigantic prawns and really scrumptious chicken in like a tikka sauce almost took me to bursting point.

The yummy nutty custard like dessert had to be eaten, but the Arabic biscuits were taken in a doggy bag – much to Zorba’s angst…”why do we need to take these?”. Yes, yes, he was probably right.

Main course

After dinner we braved the almost suffocating heat and walked around to the sensational water fountain light show – which happens every 30mins. We saw it twice. It was spectacular.

The sweet smell of apple tobacco filled the air as hundreds of people enjoyed  a shisha in one of the many the outdoor cafes that line the waterway.

I couldn’t resist, so once back at our oasis, the Qamardeen Hotel, I look my trusty MacBookAir out by the pool and here I am updating this blog whilst having a shisha, and I’m loving it!  Zorba is catching up on zzzz’s in the room.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are knackered, no doubt about it. And in hindsight, our stop over to Dubai might have been better on our way home when we could shop shop shop!  Ah, well, never mind. We have had a brilliant first day of holidays.

Next stop Milano tomorrow, where after a six hour flight, we will catch a train to Monterosso on the picturesque Cinque Terre.  A presto!


Al Manzil Hotel & Qamardeen Hotel
Emaar Boulevard, The Old Town, Downtown Dubai
Tel: +971 4 428 6888
Our room cost A$170 per night.  Dinner cost us about $120 for two, including a beer each.

Beautiful Barcelona

After a horrendous 17 hour journey, we were in Barcelona, one of my all time favourite cities (out of Italy and Australia!).  It has been ten years between visits to this city and I was looking forward to getting reacquainted with this great place.

We stayed in two hotels in Barcelona, the first one was Cuitat Vella on Tallers 66, just near La Ramblas, where we stayed for three nights.  The hotel was 3-star and almost brand new.  And we get free bottled water, as much as we want! Yay!  Our triple room for Hubs, Madeline her mother, and myself was too small.  We were forever tripping over ourselves.  The shower was fantastic and the bathrooms lovely and new.

We were all dead on our first day – too tired from over night travel without any sleep.   I had three hours to kill before Hubs and her mum Madeline arrived from the airport, and I couldn’t sleep because our hotel room wasn’t ready.  I went for a walk along La Ramblas and the memories of my previous trips to Barcelona came flooding back. It was just how I remembered!  I had a delicious coffee with chocolate mousse at the famous Cafe de L’Opera on La Ramblas – oh how I’ve missed good coffee!!  I bought some fridge magnets to add to my ever growing collection, and had a look in a few shops. I was LOVING being back in Europe. 

Barcelona 001 Barcelona 002 Barcelona 004 Barcelona 005

When Hubs and Madeline arrived, we all went for a walk and found a restaurant / tapas bar off La Ramblas and had some lunch Aaka Dinay on carrer Petxina.  Delicious selection of tapas – spanish omelette, baby octopus, garlic prawns, bread with rubbed tomato and a prawn and mango salad.  YUM! 

For dinner, Madeline decided to stay at the hotel and sleep.  Hubs and I went for a big walk around the Gothic quarter before deciding to eat at a restaurant on La Ramblas.  We knew it was touristy, but we both fancied sitting somewhere lively and watching the world go past.  We shared paella and it was ok, not rubbish and not award winning. 

Barcelona 030 Barcelona 032

Day two was a big sight-seeing day on the tourist bus. We went everywhere – all over the city. We chose to get off at the Park Guella – Gaudi’s famous park.  It was lovely and Madeline really enjoyed it.  We also caught the bus to the beaches to check them out – the city beaches didn’t exist last time I was in Barcelona.  They were nice and we made a plan to spend at least one day at the beach.  The port was really nice too with loads of shops and nice walk way to get there.   Barcelona is really a beautiful city and we loved the sightseeing.

Barcelona 045 Barcelona 052 Barcelona 054 Barcelona 068 Barcelona 072 Barcelona 089

For dinner, we walked around a bit and couldn’t decide where to eat, so we went back to where we had lunch, Aaka Dinya.  Hubs and Madeline had paella and I had veal.  Both our meals were really tasty.

Day three was dedicated to my favourite sport, shopping!  We caught the metro to Diagonal Mar, a big shopping complex in the financial district.  I didn’t buy too much, but did get some essential items – a pair of cotton cargo pants, a sports t-shirt, and an impractical pair of cool white light cargo style pants.  They were so cheap and look good – and as Hubs said, I’d keep them clean.  Hubba got a good deal on a pair of Geox shoes, great for walking, and Madeline bought a present for someone back home.   We were worn out after shopping and needed a siesta. 

Maybe it’s been ten years since I’ve been to Barcelona – and I still remember the name of a restaurant I had an unbelievable meal in – Irati.   I looked up the name on trip advisor and was delighted to find it still exists and even more delighted to find that it had a very good rating on the website.  That’s where we went for tapas, Irati on cadenal Casanas, 17 – and it was delicious!  It’s only a small narrow place but it’s always packed and it has a small restaurant out the back.  We decided to go there to have dinner one night, maybe on Madeline’s birthday on 14th Aug.

Barcelona 165 Barcelona 166 Barcelona 167

Day four was when we had to move hotels and checked into Hotel Atlantis, around the corner from where we were.  As we suspected, our room wasn’t ready, but we had prepared for that and off we went to the beach.  The beach was easy to get to, only a few stops on the metro, and it was lovely to lie out in the sun again and swim in the Med.  We had a yummy lunch by the beach, seafood of course, in the afternoon.

Dinner was in Picasso’s first studio – which is now a restaurant called Classic Gotic, on carrer de la Plata in the Gothic Quarter (Merce area). I was excited to be eating there as this is the restaurant my spanish dive instructor in Dahab told me to go to.  Yay! We found it and were about to have a nice meal.  For the occasion I ordered a bottle of house cava, or Spanish champagne, and was delighted that Madeline was enthusiastic about sharing it with me. Hubs doesn’t drink and I was happy someone else was with us so I could share a bottle!

Roast pork ribs served with vegetables was dinner and mine was delicious!  The meat fell off the bone and was very tender and tasty.  At less than 9 euro, it was cheap too.  Happy days.

Barcelona 199 Barcelona 200 Barcelona 201

Our last two days in Barca (as the football team is affectionately known as – Barsa), were spent doing whatever we wanted. I had my legs waxed standing up – a world first for me.  She used sugar instead of wax and it took ten minutes – with good results. At 11 euro, I was stoked – cheaper than back home.  I also went to the post office, did some shopping, etc etc.  I bought the coolest shoes!  Vespa adidas Italian runners!  I love them!

It was a nice relaxing day. Hubs and Madeline went shopping too and they had a great day together.

Barcelona 178 Barcelona 205 Barcelona 206

Finally we had tickets to the traditional Flamenco dancing show on at Cordobes, supposedly the best flamenco dancing show in the city.  At 37 euro each, my expectations were quite high.  The show was good, the dancing done with proper vigour and a lot of passion, but some how, it didn’t meet my expectations and I couldn’t help but feel a tad disappointed.   Madeline enjoyed herself and I was really happy she had.  She was also over the moon because she found some Dr Scholl shoes she loved, that are super comfy, and on sale!  Three ticks from Madeline! Style, comfort, and a bargain!

 Barcelona 211 Barcelona 226

It rained!! First time I have seen rain in a couple of months!  I am never happy when it rains, but it was nice that the city was washed, so to speak.  We found a little tapas restaurant on our way back to the hotel and didn’t have much – some olives, prosciutto like ham, and some bread with tomato. That was enough for us.

Our last day in Europe – Madeline’s birthday.  I was boring and went to the post office, did some washing, and a spot of shopping in between.  Madeline and Hubs did some sightseeing and caught the cable car to a nice park.  They had a great day!  Tonight is dinner at Irati and I can’t wait!!

 Barcelona 145 Barcelona 148 Barcelona 027 Barcelona 033

Tomorrow nice and early, we fly to Quito in South America!!  A new continent, a new country, and new adventures await! Hurrah!

 Barcelona 121 Barcelona 160 Barcelona 161









I’m in London town…

Ah London.  It always feels like I’m going home when I arrive at LHR. Everything is so familiar, so easy.  Everything works.  Everything functions. Everyone understands  me.  It’s easy, which is just as well because I was feeling so so so down after saying good bye to Zorba.  Thank God for my friend Kath in London. Her and I have been great friends since I first moved to London and we worked together in 1996 and it was so good to see a friendly face feeling as blue as I did. 

Kath’s basement flat in Baywater is like my second home.   I used to hang out there all the time when I lived in London and have stayed with her and her Italian hubby Fiorenzo several times now. They are great and always make me feel so welcome.  And we always eat really well there too!  Fiorenzo is a typical Italian in that good food is the most important thing – and Kath has become like that too.   We spent the first night in London hanging out at their place, chatting, and eating – mmm beautiful slow roast pork belly with a salad of radishes and wilted rocket.  I would have paid for that meal at a restaurant is was so good!   We also drank – the three of us polished off two bottles of prosecco, a bottle of Nero D’Avola (sicilian red), another half a bottle of Nero D’Avola, several shots of grappa and an amaretto. No wonder I was feeling a bit foggy the next day!

London really turned on the weather for me – NOT.  Rain, cloud…It felt weird to have to wear warm clothes again after sweltering in Italia. 

I met Donna and Caroline Mounchaguy who I used to work with at 6pm in Sloan Square. Donna took us to a swanky place for drinks and dinner, which was nice.  One of her friends Dr Steve came and met us after dinner. It was a fun night. The funniest thing was standing outside having drinks.  The pavement was marked with a white line and everyone standing outside with a drink had to be within the white line. It was funny watching the beef cake bouncers telling everyone to step inside the line all time.  So different to Italia.  Imagine trying to get Italians to do that?! It would never happen!

Bayswater was my old ‘hood’ in London and I know the area really well. It was great to walk around there again, visiting some of my favourite shops. I also went walking through Hyde Park which is one of my most favourite places in London. It feels like a sanctuary away from the bustle of the big city – big old oak trees, pretty flower gardens, people out enjoying life jogging with their dogs, or lazing on the grass.  I love it .

Rome London Cairo 150 Rome London Cairo 155 Rome London Cairo 164 Rome London Cairo 165

Donna took me to a place that she describes as Libararchi’s lounge room.  Beach Blanket Babylon on Ledbury Rd in Notting Hill was so ostentatious!  Big chandeliers, gold gilt boarders on everything, ornately decorated bar, staircase and toilets, and full of ‘beautiful rich people’.  Put it this way, a cheap bottle of wine on the wine list and one bloody mary came to A$64.  Who cares? This was a one off!  We didn’t stay long – Donna had friends at another bar at Sloan Sq and I wasn’t really in the party mood, so we said good bye at 9.30pm and I went and hung out with Kath and Fiorenzo.

The next day Kath and I spoilt ourselves with a manicure and pedicure and we went to Ottolenghi in Notting Hill to pick up some gourmet takeaway salads for lunch. YUM!

Rome London Cairo 175 Rome London Cairo 179 Rome London Cairo 182

Leaving London was hard too.  Kath Taylor has been a best buddy for ages and I really hope she and Fiorenzo can come to Perth next year for our wedding prequel.  Yes, no wedding, just a wedding prequel (engagement) celebration instead.  Please please I hope they can come!

Next stop, Egypt with Hubba!