Monday, 30 June 2014

Recent Nice Things

One thing that is certainly not nice at the moment is the weather here in Melb.

It is foul and chilly and windy and rainy. In fact, the only thing that one feels like doing is sitting on the couch with some mulled wine and some pudding with cream. It's true. I will have to settle for a hot shower and a lick from the dog.

I had a bit of a busy weekend. I spent some time as an examiner for the mock exam for our physician trainees. I will be examining for the real thing soon, so it was good to get some practice in. It keeps me on my toes. Best of all the organisers took our coffee order in advance and had them available at break time!

Then it was a birthday party at a Pub. Sat outside. I hate outside at this time of year; even with the very feeble heating, I was freezing my botty off.

Sunday, after braving the cold for some exercise, I went to see Rocky Horror Show with my mum and some friends.

The highlight of it for me was seeing Craig McLachlan prance and joke and double-entendre on stage, in suspenders, heels and a corset, having an absolute ball. And when a performer is having a ball, so, usually, do the audience.

My, sir, you've been working out! Phwoar. And the view from the rear was spectacular too.

Another nice thing that happened is that I won a dress! The very gorgeous (and very pregnant) Jo from iCurvy was having a giveaway on her blog, and I won! I chose this dress (Image from Jo's blog)
I plan to wear it to a friend's wedding in Singapore. We go in September. Yays!

In the meantime, lots of packing. We are moving soon! eeek!

Also, I have started a few extra sessions of work. Eeeek (but looking forward to $$)

So it's on for young and old, really.

How are you?
How is the whether where you are?
What are you up to? Any exciting news/ plans to share?

Friday, 27 June 2014

Turkish Food....and stuff.

Well Hello!

I had promised a post on Turkish food. It was a little while ago, but trying to remembrer it helps me remember my holiday. Which was fun. Wish it was longer.

In our hotel (Sub Karakoy - I recommend it as a great Mid-Price hotel), they had a phrase on the concrete wall "Hospitality is higher than pride". The Turks are wonderful hosts.

Our hotel room came with a fantastic complementary breakfast. The spread was wonderful, and I enjoyed it more than I had breakfast spreads in higher end resorts.

It was simple, amazingly tasty and nourishing.

A big part of breakfast in Cheese. During my research, I learned that cheese was "invented" in Mesopotamia so that is not a big jump from Turkey.

The cheese is mainly of the white, rather than cheddar variety, and made of Cow's, Ewe's and Goat's milk, or a combination.

There is a lot of the pungent feta variety.

My favourite was of the Dil Peyniri (string cheese) variety - mild tasting, and rubbery. It was wonderful with the plentiful tomato and cucumber that came with breakfast.

I also loved the cream cheese that they served, similar to Labne, but with no tartness. A bit lighter than philly cream cheese and more refined than ricotta. I loved it served thickly on their freshly baked rye bread, drizzled (heavily) with Cherry Jam.

Tomatoes! I have never eaten so many tomatoes! The tomatoes were so fresh and sweet and tasty! I had them at every meal. Cucumber was also plentiful.

Meat featured very heavily. From the tasty processed meats at Breakfasts (kind of like Mortadella but with Pistachios instead of Olive), Sucuk (Sausage) and others, to the Kofte and Doner Kebab at Dinner. Beef and Lamb are key, chicken is less emphasised. A meal without meat, in Turkey, is like a day without Sunshine. There is lots of fish, too - we saw many fishermen on the Galata Bridge every day, but we aren't fond.

Meat came very gently spiced. Spice is subtle in Turkey, as opposed to in India where it is the dominant flavour. It was quite strange to see piles of spice in the markets, as you kind of forget it is in the meat. But it is. Gently.

Fermented dairy is de rigeur also. Ayran is a thin slightly salted yoghurt, very refreshing and ubiquitous.

I was after from Cacik (similar to tzatziki) but I could not really find one I liked. Most of them are thin and soupy, which was very refreshing. But I like my yoghurty dips thick and with atomic levels of garlic.

Foods with stones in them - Olives, apricots, Cherries, Peaches - also ubiquitous. Olives went well with tomatoes, dil peyniri and meat at breakfast. Turkish Apricots are a bit watery compared with our strongly flavoured fruits here in Australia.

I must find myself some cherry jam....

Sweets are taken extremely seriously in Turkey. There are whole supermarkets dedicated to sweets. The pastry type things, like Baklava, and the jelly type things like Lokum. I am a Lokum purist, preferring plain lokum tasting strongly of rosewater. Pomegranate and pistachio lokum comes a distant (but very good) second. Also available are huge fresh dates stuffed with nuts.

There is a wine industry in Turkey; it is the fourth largest in the world. Who would have thought this would be the case, especially in a Muslim country. The best is the Syrah/Shiraz style. Shiraz is a city in Iran after all. Sidestep the Sauvignon Blanc styles.

Finally, we go for coffee and tea. Turkish coffee, closest to a short black,  is strong and chocolatey, and not bitter at all. I loved the sugary apple tea. I bought the unsugared apple tea to take home and it is not nearly as good.

I nearly forgot the simit (bagel type things sold on the street)

If you ever wind up in Istanbul, here are my food related recommendations
  • Naif, in Karakoy. Modern Turkish food and lovely service.
  • Try and go where the locals go. ALWAYS get a menu, otherwise they will charge you tourist prices.
  • Roadhouse food is AWESOME.
  • Have the Turkish coffee. Try Turkish wine. Eat ALL THE CHEESES.
  • Make room for sweeties.

In other news - busy times. I have started in private rooms, plus about to do some extra sessions. A plan for PhD completion is nearing....completion. We are about to move.

And thank you so so much for your very lovely comments on the last post.

The most rewarding and pleasurable things in my life have also been, at times, the hardest. This will not be any different. xx

Have a good weekend my lovelies.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Freak out...proudly presented by elevit.

I interrupt my previous travel and food related train of thought to bring you, faithful and tolerant and clever readers, a freak out. It may sound bad, but bear with me (or alternatively click away at this point).

It was all brought about by the purchase of Elevit. That over-achieving and higher-priced multivitamin, with the soft pink and blue packaging and ideogram of a blissfully pregnant woman. It has 800mcg folate when you only need 500 BUT NO NOTHING BUT THE BEST for the hypothetical foetus.

I bought it yesterday in between a spontaneous eyebrow threading and a quick computer purchase.

It sunk in last night.


Shit's getting real.

(Cue Hyperventilating and Sighing).

It sounds terribly bad but I believe more people need to be upfront about it.

You see, I love my life. I have worked really hard to get it where it is. Babies change it. I am rising in my career. Having a baby will (by necessity) interrupt it, for a bit at least.

My social media feed is bombarded with "parenting is the hardest thing you can do", "how do I get my baby to sleep" "Massaging out mastitis can only be compared to massaging a corkie out of your balls" and such. A lot of the negative things and not many of the good things. I see some of the scary militant mummies who savage on social media anyone who dare have a conflicting opinion.

Yes, I am impressionable and these things do affect me.

I love wine. I love coffee. I love jamon and soft cheese. While consuming these things in Spain, I realised that there will be a time where I won't be able to have them.

I grieved, a little bit. Silly, 'eh?

Same with the spontaneous shop and eyebrow threading. Spontaneity is something parents miss.

My partner is nearing 50. He is a good 50 (with a very cute bottom) but the calm gad-about retirement he envisaged before meeting me has given way to thoughts of carting about a teenaged child.

I worry about his health. My health. My mum's health (she is short and fat and smokes heavily) I worry. It's tiring and needless but I do it anyway.

Then there is the endless and frightening queue of "what if". I won't even go there.

An innocent purchase of some pre-conception multivitamin has catalysed the appreciation of the consequences...

But I am a curious mix of worrier and glass-half-full persona. I have also had many thousands of dollars worth of cognitive behavioural therapy to challenge negative beliefs.

So here is that challenge.

Though the idea of having a baby scares me, the idea of not having a baby scares me more. I can't not.

Not just because I would really love to make my mum a grandma. It's for me. I am lucky to be able to have the choice, to be young enough. To have other ways of self-actualisation without the need to have a baby. Go women!

I don't need a baby to be capable of thinking of others, having empathy and patience, or living in the moment. I would like to think I have those things now!

I want to know that overwhelming, heart-bursting love that occurs when you have your baby. I know I am capable of it. The gummy smiles, and the milk drunk sleepy cuddles. The falling in love.
Plus when I see a little baby my ovaries go BOIOING!!! I can't help it. Its BIOLOGY. I even find toddlers very amusing. Older kids I like too.

The other things

  • I am healthy. My fella is too. Having a bub will be a strong impetus to maintain that.
  • I tolerate mess very well.
  • I have worked in hair raising situations, with long hours and on minimal sleep - this has to count for something.
  • I cry and stamp my feet if I am well fed or slept. Me and a child will understand each other fine.
  • I am somebody for whom the anticipation is invariably far worse than the actuality.
  • I am resourceful, adaptable and fairly intuitive (so says my Myers Briggs Quiz)
  • I have a good income and am insured to the hilt.
  • We have a dog, and it seems to be well-adjusted (apart from rearranging our pot plants) and we have not caused it harm.
  • I have good examples in real life and in blogland (youse know who you are)
  • There will always be coffee. I will just have to cut it back. And wine and cheese and ham will not run away. They will still be there.
  • Most importantly I have a good sense of humour and love a good fart or poo joke (but admittedly I will need to cut back on the swearing, I could make a sailor blush).
I can do this. 

(Hyperventilate sigh breathe in breathe out)

I can do this.

Finally, let's hope that it (by it I mean conception and pregnancy) happens without too much drama. Fingers and toes crossed, 'eh?

Thanks for bearing with me :D x

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Istanbul part 2.

It's straight back into work for me, and I have to use my instagram feed to jog my memory.

I discussed Gallipoli. I think that will stay will me. It was well worth the long day to go.

We stayed in the area of Karakoy in Istanbul. It is a short walk across the Galata bridge from the Main Tourist Area, Sultanahmet, and down the hill from Taksim. It has an edgy vibe, much like Fitzroy. There are lots of cool little restaurants and bars around, that the locals frequent.

I also went and visited an Hamam - a Turkish Bath house. The Hamam ritual is one of Ablution, which is quite important in Islamic culture. If you are in Istanbul, I recommend Kilic Pasha Ali Hamam, it is next to a Mosque in Karakoy, and it is less crowded and touristy than the main ones in SultanAhmet. It is in one of those domed buildings, which was built in the 1590s. You get taken out from the reception area into a large domed room, wearing nothing but a bikini bottom and a Turkish towel. In the middle of the steamy domed room is a large hexagonal slab. You are splashed with warm water by a hamam lady. She gets you to lie on the slab and sweat for a bit. Hamam lady then gives you some iced water. You are then instructed to sit on a marble stool, and then scrubbed down with a loofah (OMG the dead skin) and then lathered up and washed off, then your hair is washed. They then dry you off, and then you are wrapped in the turkish towel and a head towel, and you lounge about on a divan outside until you can relax no more. Then you get dressed and toddle off. It is quite relaxing once you get over the idea of a stranger seeing you half-naked and scrubbing at you. I've been in an onsen in Japan so I have gotten over it.

We did the usual rotation of Istanbul museums. Aya Sofia has variously been a Christian church and a Mosque, and has relics of both. The Blue Mosque has lots of blue tiles in it, and has 6 minarets, which is a lot. Topkapi palace is kind of like Turkey's crown jewels, and was very crowded and I dislike crowds (go early in the morning). The Grand Bazaar is very big and the likelihood that the stallholders will harrass you is inversely proportional to how interested you are in the goods; indeed, if you are wanting what they are selling, they will barely acknowledge you. The stalls are carpets, scarves, knock off handbags and shoes, and jewellery. The spice bazaar is smaller and more manageable, and is more food focussed.

If you are wanting to shop in Istanbul, I would avoid both of these, as the prices are inflated. The far better shopping, I found, was around Taksim and in the little side streets up the hill (beware, the hill is steep, but don't let that stop you). They have quirky little boutique shops with interesting things, at reasonable prices. I bought a beautiful pair of Sterling silver earrings which were handmade by a Turkish/Syrian family from one of the little shops, I will post a pic when I wear them.

Enough about shopping, to my other favourite thing, food. The food! I love Turkish Food!

But that is for the next post. It is Offspring time....

Sunday, 15 June 2014

And home I come.

Greetings from HK Airport!

I have used the layover time to clear the inbox, shower, hydrate and update!

Wow, Turkey. What a place.
Have you been following my insta-feed? That tells the story in a contemporaneous manner.
Istanbul is kind of like Rome insofar as there is all this ancient stuff in amongst the modern buildings. Lots of domes. Mosques and minarets dot the skyline. Lots of hills. Crowds. Restaurant touts (and even when in the areas frequented by locals, we get charged a premium, which we pay goodnaturedly- part of having a good travel experience is not sweating the small stuff)

We did the cruise on the Bosphorus. Saw the prime real estate, undoubtedly many a Russian oligarch has a property there. I find being on the (flat) water very calming. I sat with the idea that we were truly straddling 2 continents, and pondered what relationship (if any) the Bosphorus  has to the element Phosporus.

We went to Gallipoli, for a day trip. The area is beautiful, bucolic, the type of place where a canny entrepreneur might set up a holiday resort.

It was really, really hard to imagine the horrors that occurred there. Because of the beauty of the environment, and because I have never lived through war.

Solemn- yes, definitely. I gazed at the graves of the young men who did not come back. My heart was warmed by the stories of kindnesses between the opposing forces.

The best thing was seeing a plaque with words from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, written in the early 1930s...something to the effect that the Anzacs were buried in the bosom of a friendly country, that the Mehmets were no different to the Johnnies.

Especially gracious given that the Anzacs were, in reality, the invaders. They were going under orders and probably not have fully understood the objectives, but still.

The sentiment is still very relevant now,

More later. From home x

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Greetings from Turkey!

Those who follow me on Instagram will have had a pictorial trail of where I've been. It's @cillajean79 for those who don't.

It's been a whirlwind few days! Where I left off, I was just about to meet Naomi from couldashouldawoulda. We had a lovely time, squealing at expensive things, with N expertly leading me through the best of London's goods. I even found a new signature fragrance.... It's one of those rare hard to find ones, by a company called nasomatto (translates to mad nose in Italian ... Wonder if that's deliberate?)

Then caught up with an old friend (my first friend at uni). She is in Londy for 2 years, doing part of a post doc. Her hubby and toddler are with her. Good food, conversation and, after the toddler went sleepy byes, wine flowed. If you are in Bloomsbury, there is a great Greek eatery called The Goddess of Life.

Then off to Valencia to meet the fella. Valencia was another whirlwind place- I spent all 3 nights at the fella's conference social events. But I bought 3 pairs of shoes- 2 in same style different colour. It would've been 3 in that style (an emerald green pointy pump) but I showed great restraint. I also discovered a really good brand of cosmetics- Kiko, from Milan. Great quality and range, at a low price point. If you are on the continent, get onto it!

We flew from Valencia to Istanbul yesterday. Yes there is a direct flight. Taxi drivers in Spain and Turkey are similar in terms of their hair- raising driving. After this, and crowded airports both ends, I needed a soothing beverage. Who knew Turkey made wine?

Today was a wander about the new and old towns. We arranged some tours for later on. We are staying in The Karakoy district, down the hill from Taksim, and a short walk over the bridge from the old city. We were woken up by the call to prayer; noise is ubiquitous in Istanbul. I love that plaintive call, alarming at the beginning, then calming.

Karakoy is like the fitzroy of Istanbul, gritty and funky. Lots of new modern bars and caf├ęs, and great people watching of Istanbul's young trendy folks. What our hotel lacks in size, it makes up for in kindness of the staff, and quality of the complementary breakfast. Turkish food may be a separate post subject.

Just about off to Bedfordshire. Will post again soon x

Monday, 2 June 2014


Just a quickie from Blighty. Have to clear off soon to meet the divine miss Naomi.

Long layover in honkers en route- just enough time to dash into town to meet my friend, who showed me to a cheap pedi. Efficiency!

Landed early yesterday- 0600. My bags were on the carousel soon as I got there. I am always superstitious about packing some clothes and spare undies in my hand luggage, and always feel a surge of joy seeing my luggage on the carousel after a long trip.

Being a seasoned traveller I booked the hotel for the previous night, so I could check in early. 'twas a. Beaut morning in londy so I went for a jog. Not a long one, but enough to shake off the fug. A shower, brekky and a rest, then off to kings rd in Chelsea. Luff that area. The people watching is brilliant.

Met an expat girlfriend and we went to lunch at comptoir libonais. Was fab. We wandered about.
Dinner was a traditional british pub dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pud. Made all the better by the young blokes on the table next door singing Avril lavigne songs.

Ooh and I bought some shooz.

You can keep up pictorially on Instagram.

Better go hit the shower and go forth....