Sunday, 30 March 2014

Cilla's current picks.

Here are some bits and bobs I am loving at the moment....

1. Bella dog.

She is such a lovely little soul. Some people came around to visit and were very enamoured, despite the fact that she was a bit timid with them. She wags her tail when we speak to her, shakes paws and sits. She sleeps on her little dog futon during the day, and has doggie dreams, doing little woofs, twitches and leg movements in her sleep. I wonder what she is dreaming about. Probably chasing cats.

The dog has blossomed since she came to live with us. I have noted a change in my fella too - he can get quite stressed out with work, but the dog never fails to make him smile when he gets home. One of their favourite things to do on the weekend  is go for a long walk, then to the pub for a beer.

She is still a bit whingey at night when she sleeps outside, but she has found a little nest outside under some trees, where she has hidden some bones and toys for later use.

2. These boots

I got them on the net from Anthropologie. I have asked around for ideas to style them. I am very excited to take delivery of them.

3. Embellished Jumpers from Decjuba.

I picked up this one from The Iconic.
They may very well look good with the above boots.
And a close-up of the detailing:

I have been on the lookout for embellished tops recently. This one fits the bill for me nicely.

4. Exciting new directions in my work

As the PhD approaches its end, hopefully in about a year, I will have space to fill time, hopefully with more profitable activities. I have had some discussions here and there, and some exciting options have emerged. I will be seeking more details about them soon; it is still in the planning stage.

I am glad I did not go straight into full time work after getting fully credentialled - the PhD has given me a good bit of time to think about what I really want to do, how I want to work and how I want to balance it with more important things!

5. Boiled eggs as snacks.

Boil a few eggs on the weekend, and have them as snacks. Protein is much better than carbohydrates at filling you up. You will thank me for this later.

Eggs went out of vogue a few years ago, but they are now here to stay as the dietary paradigm shifts.

6. Cauliflower "rice"

This image from nom nom paleo

You whizz some roughly chopped cauliflower up in a blender/food processor/old skool with a knife till it is about rice-size. I then put it in a microwave container and zap for 2 minutes to cook. I then saute it with oil and add onion and garlic with fried-rice type ingredients, or I have it with worcester sauce and mustard. Feel free to add other vegies in too.

I am not a big fan of rice, I find it a bit bland and white rice lacks many nutrients other than carbs. I am quite happy to eat this in place of it.

Things I am less enthusiastic about:
-the humidity in Melbourne, and the return of summer.

What about you? What are you enjoying at the moment? Share!

Monday, 24 March 2014

11 Things.

I was put up to this by Ruth.

There is this thing going around blogland tagging people to share 11 random things about themselves.

Here goes.

1. I have nice strong shiny hair, but small, weak, brittle nails. I have had lots of ingrown toenails. A good manicure is an elusive thing. I have a nail related inferiority complex.

2. I had acne from the ages of 14 to 20. It was yucky and precluded much in the way of puppy love. This may explain why I did so well at school. It cleared up with a certain type of pill. Then a couple of years ago I developed perioral dermatitis. That cleared up after a dermatologist prescribed medication.

I am going through that awkward stage between 13 and 40.

3. My friends can rely on me to pick a good restaurant and a great bottle of wine at that restaurant. It's one of my talents.

4. I can't decide on a favourite food. I like most foods. I am not a big fan of fish, except the deep fried variety. I can do a little tin of tuna for lunch. I am also not that big a fan of Japanese food. My favourite cuisines at the moment are Mexican and south Indian/ Sri Lankan. My favourite food and drink match at the moment is Tiger Beer with Chicken Satay sticks - I had a few of these in Malaysia.

5. My favourite books are Shantaram, by Gregory Roberts, and Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides. I usually go for books on the iPad, but at the moment I am reading an old-skool paper book, Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson.

6. I don't watch much telly, but my favourite shows are Offspring, So You Think You Can Dance, Rake and The Blacklist. I also like to watch Bondi Vet with my fella, and we do voice narrations for the animals.

I am obsessed with House of Cards at the moment. I tried to like Breaking Bad but it is too depressing.

Ok that totally comes across as though I watch a bit too much telly. 

7. I never went on a plane till I was 20. It was a flight to Sydney, to a placement in country NSW. Despite this I have caught up, and have now travelled more extensively than most folks I know. On my wish list are Turkey, Israel and Jordan. I would also like to see more of Australia, seeing the top end and Kangaroo Island.

8. I have a British Passport, obtained through my father's UK birth. It was quite hard to get my hands on all the required documents as he had passed long before I was of passporting age. But I am nothing if not determined.

Anywho, it's really easy and quick to go through Heathrow.

9. I have a fondness for pickled vegetables. Pickled onions. Beetroot. Gherkins. Even Kimchi.

10. My first memory was of tying a knot in a big bit of foil and being super proud of myself. I might have been about 3 at the time.

11. My signature statement lip colour is Rebel by MAC. I also go a red lippy occasionally. If you had not tried Rebel on you should.

12. My first car was a 1976 Datsun 180B. It was baby poo mustard coloured and had a white vinyl roof. It had no radio, heating or air con. It only drove, and then only occasionally

13. I can't count to 11. I also like to break rules.

Our little dog has a bit of bronchitis. She is on antibiotics, bless her. She has dry skin and is a bit skinny but we will fatten her up a bit.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A New Family Member.

For a while now, the fella and I have been discussing getting a dog.

So we made an impromptu visit to the local dog shelter.

And I fell in love.

Introducing Bella Pumpkin.

She is a staffy x kelpie x lab??

She was very quiet at the shelter. Very shy. A bit timid and frightened of my partner. She moaned when, after we met her, she was locked back in her cage. I sat with her, and she put her paw up and we shook hands.

The fella was not initially taken, thinking she was too quiet and shy. I think they have made friends now, and she has opened up to both of us. We don't know her provenance but we know she was stray and she has had a litter of puppies and she is about 2 years old. She sits and shakes hands and is toilet trained. She whinges when she is apart from us. Instead of her tail being between her legs she now waggles it when we speak to her.

She has made herself quite comfortable, see?

Look at this cute little face:

I look forward to lots of adventures and cuddles.

In other news, I am making a few difficult but positive steps towards better health. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Greetings from KL

A quickie as I hate typing on the iPad!

Am in KL for the world congress on obesity. I went because a. I wrote a poster to present and b. my supervisor let me.

Most poster presentations are of little consequence, and mine was no exception. Though some really failed the "so what" test. Maybe they just wanted an excuse to travel, too.

My colleague, however, should have been given an oral presentation, as it is the culmination of her PhD, and the findings are paradigm shifting. She will aim to get it published in a big shot journal.

It has been nice travelling with some colleagues. One of them bought her dad along, he is nearing 60 and hadn't been os before. He is luffing it sick.

This is the 3rd time I've been to KL.
a few short and silly observations:
1. It is hoooooooomid.
2. They have sephora stores. Sephora rules.
3. I have noticed a few transexuals (male as female) about the place. It must be difficult to be transgendered in a conservative Muslim country, or indeed anywhere.
4. There is a covered, air conditioned pedestrian bridge going from outside my hotel to the convention centre, about 1km. How cool is that?
5. A lot of Malay words are very similar to English words.
6. Things are about 1/2to 2/3 the cost back home. By things I mean food and beer. Most other things are equivalent
7. We are all being encouraged to pray for MH 370. It is a lovely gesture- Norsemen in secular countries.

Anywho. Johnny Farnbottom was the bomb dot com. I had forgotten how good his songs were and I sung the shit out of them. I even got a bit emotional at "touch of paradise"- funny, I that wasn't ever my favourite of Johnny's!

Bye for now! Xx

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

My first love.

I would like to tell you about my first love.

I was 9.

His name was John Farnham. Or Johnny Farnbottom as my dad used to rib me with.

When I was 9 I got my first very crappy walkman, and a cassette tape of Whispering Jack. I played it endlessly.

I remember when Johnny had a guest appearance on Home and Away. He probably had an album to flog. The storyline went that Sally got chickenpox and was unable to go to his concert. Of course he came to her, and sang her a version of "Help" by the beatles. I taped it (Beta cassette, thank you very much) and watched it repeatedly.

I remember I learned that his favourite sandwich was a ham sandwich. I wrote a letter to him, asking him round to our house for ham sandwiches. I don't think he got it.

He was a bit of a spunk, ol' Johnny. The mullet was de rigeur, and emulated by folks like Jason Donovan. But nobody could compare to my Johnny Farnbottom.

I think I lost interest in Johnny after the Age of Reason album. Not before I drove my parents crazy.
Yet, on reflection, my musical tastes as a 10 year old also were inclined towards men with killer mullets. Behold:

Years passed, Mullets went out of fashion, and my musical tastes evolved.
I still like 'em hirsute. And monstrously talented.

But I never forgot my first love.

Myself and a girlfriend are flying up to Sydney tomorrow to see John Farnham (and Lionel Richie but I am there to see my Johnny Farnbottom).

My 9 year old self is thrilled. My 35 year old self is pretty excited too. There was no money for concerts growing up...there is now. Though my Johnny looks a bit more like this nowadays

Perhaps he regrets doing away with the mullet.

Everyone says "I thought John Farnham had retired". He has, about 5 times. I think Glenn Wheatley gives him a nudge when they are a bit short of coin.

But I am glad he is back. He is still my Johnny Farnbottom, my first love.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Things I'm thinking about at the moment...

There are lots of things I am thinking about at the moment. They change with the day, but here are some recurring thoughts. Some serious, some more fluffy and light.

I am thinking of the poor families of the passengers of the Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished off the face of the earth.

I am thinking of all of the times I got on planes to travel here and there. The trust I put in the pilot, my fellow passengers. That I didn't get too annoyed about the safety and security measures, because they were there to protect us. The times where I didn't even think about the risk of a crash.

Mostly the civil aviation authorities are one step ahead of major disasters. The carry-on luggage rules become ever-more strict.

In the past, I have made big journeys just after big disasters - a couple of months after 11/9/2011. Four weeks after the London bombings in 2005. I am going to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday on an MH flight.

These things are terrible, and (hopefully) make us take stock of how lucky we are. We hug our loved ones goodbye just that little more fervently.

We also remember that we must continue to live how we want to.

I am thinking about Scott Ludlam's speech to an empty senate chamber. Good thing it has gone viral. How eloquent it seems in comparison to the man who runs our country. How frustrating it is that good ideas and the ability to verbalise and sell them shrink in the public consciousness next to pandering to people's less honourable instincts.

I am thinking about child marriage in Iraq. How girls as young as nine are able to be married off, overseen by clerics.

I am thinking about how, when you chop off one head, the one that grows in its place may also be problematic.

I am thinking about a difficult and unpleasant encounter I had at work on Friday. Did I try my very best? I think so. Would I handle it differently in future? Probably yes. Not because that would necessarily be the right thing to do, it's just so I am less likely to have this sort of thing happen again. Unfortunately, we have to protect ourselves.

But that is all a bit heavy, is it not?

There was a lot of buzz about the Oscars frocks. I liked Cate's frock. Lupita's has grown on me. Kate Hudson's was smart too. The rest were very meh.

The more important question that I pondered was "which Hollywood actor would I do?".

I have to say that Leonardo Di Caprio does nothing for me. Too baby faced.
Brad Pitt, ditto.

Matthew McConaughey - hmmmm, maybe.

There are three I luff.

Kevin Spacey.
James Spader (nowadays, not when he was young)
Daniel Craig.

You all probably think I am mad.

I love them because they are, at least on screen, very confident. They are quirky and clever. They have a bit of menace about them. None of them are classically good looking.

It just shows you the difference between attractiveness and good looks.

Speaking of Kevin Spacey,  HOW GOOD IS THE SHOW "HOUSE OF CARDS"?!?!?!
That Frank and Claire are diabolical. They manipulate with sociopathic disregard for the wants or needs of others. Others, such as Russo, just go to water in their presence. I can't stop thinking about that scene where Russo goes to Frank's house with the aim of beating him up, Claire kindly invites him in, then Frank humiliates him, almost goading him into self-harm

It is compelling watching, particularly with such brilliant actors.

I also have recently had an MRI of my spine. I have had longstanding back issues. The scan revealed only old problems, which was a relief.

I have seen physios and sports doctors about the problem, and done lots of Pilates. None of which have given very durable relief.

So I went to see an osteopath. I have to say I was quite impressed, how he looked at my body in its entirety, and gave me a sensible explanation for why I was getting pain, and what I could do about it. I am relieved to say that it's not all in my head, rather a series of weaknesses/tightnesses in certain places which add up to give pain.

Also, my fella and I are looking into getting a dog. I miss my little Candydog. I will let you know how that goes.

What is on your mind at the moment?
Which Hollywood star would you do?
Do you see any body therapists? Do you swear by acupuncture, or go for Reiki?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Sri Lanka 2, with iPhoneography

Sunset from Balcony, Kandalama.
This post was started when I just got back. It's taken a while!


I have been invalided from work today so I sit here swilling hydrolyte and watering myself back to glowing good health.

Anywho here are some further reflections on Sri Lanka

Heidi to answer your question, yes, Nuwara Eliya is a very British colonial town. The Post Office and the Grand Hotel are great examples of some colonial architecture.

Other things we did
  • We climbed up Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an ancient palace up a 200 metre high rock, designed about 2000 years ago. It was beautiful, with views, frescoes and moats. All the rocks and equipment were hauled up there not by slaves but my free men. 
  • Saw the Buddhist temple which has Buddha's tooth in Kandy, then met with some locals.
  • Went hiking in the Knuckles mountain range
  • We went on a bike ride of some villages and met some of the locals.
  • clocked a lot of time in the car, but seeing beautiful coastline, high country tea plantations, busy towns and everything in between.
Some impressions

The wildlife - native and not so native

As I have already alluded to, Sri Lanka has beautiful and diverse wildlife, which we got to see up very close. I mentioned Yala National Park, which was concentrated with such wildlife. On our long car journeys, it was not unusual for our driver to stop suddenly and point out a native bird sitting on the telephone wire.

What I have not mentioned is the canine life. As you will all know I am a dog lover. But these domestic pets in Sri Lanka are different to the ones at home.

I call them the kamikaze dogs.
They sit on the road where it is warm and pay no mind to the cars, which usually swerve for them.
They will sometimes run out in front of a car and bark at it.
If you are riding past on a bike, they will bark at you, too.
If there is a little pothole that looks comfy, even if is a place with lots of foot traffic, they will sleep in there. If you step on them, they will probably bite you.  They look healthy, short of being a bit small and skinny. Some of the strays have quite bad mange.
They are not friendly dogs. Some may accept a pat, but none of them solicit one.
They are no recognisable breed. The girl dogs all look like they have borne more than one litter of puppies. Most of them have owners, and they are probably the only humans the dog respects.

Even more wily are the macaques. They are everywhere. Everyone thinks they are cute but they can be vicious little buggers. They will bite and scratch. In Kandalama, we stayed on a hillside forest, which had lots of monkeys. We had to lock our balcony doors, otherwise they will come in and ransack the room. They are quite fun to watch from a distance, and see how they play and interact. They have little playfights. They are very agile. Once, at a temple, some men were eating their lunch, and a monkey was sitting on a tree branch above them, ready to dive-bomb the lunch.

The food

Similar to South Indian food. Very heavy on the coconut and spices. With lots of European tourists, the chefs make pains to tell people which food is spicy, and seem proud when they have made their food bland.
Pah! Very little there was too hot for me to eat.
They have lots of fake Chinese food. A bit of (north) Indian. The main Italian food there is Pizza Hut. They have the rare KFC and McDonalds.

Some of my favourite dishes were Hoppers (rice pancakes), Wattalapam (a coconut milk pudding), Jaggery (coconut sugar), Kottu Roti (Shredded roti stir-fried with meat and vegetables) and most of the curries. My favourite curry was actually at one of the less fancy hotels - the chef was there and patiently and proudly told everyone which curry was which.

People watching...

I did not see a woman who did not look elegant. Not in the made up, coutured, groomed way. They nearly all had long hair, which was neatly tied back. They all wore skirts and tops which looked in good order. They wore jewellery. They carried umbrellas to cover themselves in the sun. They looked feminine.
I saw some very very beautiful women wearing very very beautiful sarees.
Smiles were returned, graciously.
The men would often smile and nod, in a slightly macho but not cocky way. It was kind of endearing.
People rarely raise their voice.
I always got called Madam. Even by our driver. I tried to get him to use my name but Madam it always was.


Sri Lanka is a small country, so one might surmise that it does not take long to get around.
Not true.
After 30 years of civil war, ending in 2009, infrastructure is only just catching up. Also remember that it is a country of 20 million people on a very small island.
So on a single lane motorway, there are big buses, lorries, Motorcycles (some carrying whole families), Tuk Tuks, cycles, pedestrians and cars. All of them trying to get somewhere.
Hence crossing the double lines is very common.
Games of chicken are common.
Everyone is patient - there are naturally lots of errors are made but nobody gets aggressive. Nobody flips the bird. Horns are used as an alert rather than in anger.

And here are some photos!
Hornbills, Yala National Park

feeding a baby elephant.

Inquisitive wild boar, Yala National Park
chef, proudly pointing out which curry was which.
Land Monitor - Big Lizard/ very small dinosaur
Just Hanging out (of the bus, while in motion on intercity run)
2 day old Turtle Hatchling - Squeeeee!

fishing boat, near galle.

The morning's catch.
Some Saree action - no photos allowed in store.