inner west street art: part 1 – garage doors

As you walk the streets of Sydney’s inner west, you will invariably pass some street art. Recently, I spent an afternoon wandering laneways and back streets and took so many photos, I’ve had to divide them up over a few posts.

So here’s the first instalment of street art on garage doors on inner west laneways.

Welcome!

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Woah! What’s happening to my face?

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All creatures welcome in these parts

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Until next time…

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care package

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These days, most (snail) mail we receive is bills, reminders, financial statements or junk mail so as a rule, opening the mail is not such an exciting task, unless if, like me, you still write letters or send postcards or cards to friends and family, half the thrill is waiting to receive a reply. It may seem a bit Jane Austen in this modern day of instantaneous digital communication, but personally, I find there is nothing like opening a handwritten letter that you know your friend has taken the time to sit down and put pen to paper (or in this case, send chocolate treats across the globe).

Even better than this is when you receive a special care package.

Check. This. Out.

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Sent all the way from Belgium (via Switzerland) is this hand selected array of chocolate deliciousness posted by my dear friend Agata – many thanks, my friend. Miraculously, it arrived in excellent condition despite the consistent 29 degree heat we’ve been having for the past couple of weeks.

During our 2 year stay in Switzerland, we did various side trips around Europe and despite keenly wanting to visit Belgium to sample the chocolates as I did as a 19 year old backpacker (and a quick aside here – at the time, living on AUD$20 per day, after discovering Leonidas chocolate and hastily and blissfully deciding that spending my daily budget on chocolate was a worthwhile sacrifice in lieu of another day in Europe. This experience of tasting freshly made chocolate truffles packed with freshly churned butter cream convinced me there was a direct neural transfer occurring in my brain, since scientifically proven, see below

http://theconversation.com/why-chocolate-really-is-the-secret-to-happiness-24601

So, I am a tad excited to sample the Leonidas milk chocolate supplied in this package.

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(Indulge me one more aside about the name Leonidas – it imprinted upon me so strongly that when presented with a list of names of gynaecologists in Switzerland to book in for a regular check up, who did I pick out? The doctor whose first name was Leonidas, of course!) Keen readers of this blog may remember my visit to a Leonidas store in London’s SoHo. https://chisforchocolate.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/good-old-leonidas/

http://shop.leonidas.com/uk/

But I digress, on to the subject at hand. Belgian chocolate. Arguably the best chocolate in the world (just don’t tell the Swiss).

First we have Pierre Marcolini from Brussels, who has a truly layered website currently featuring a “wonderland” range for Easter and pitches his delights as a “gourmet sin”.

https://eu.marcolini.com/shop/collections/wonderland.html

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Next we have Neuhaus, claiming to be “the inventor of praline”.

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Woah! That’s a big call.

Sorry for the shaky photo, I think it’s because I was shaking with excitement. Also impressively, he started off as a pharmacist and covered his medications in chocolate. Talk about a spoonful of sugar! Now they’ve expanded into the US and have a number of boutiques in NY and New Jersey. One of their collections, according to their website features 9 exquisite flavours curated by 9 of the world’s best pastry chefs (ALL men I might point out). Looks pretty tasty, though.

Now here’s a brand I had never heard of but Agata assured me was a temple of chocolate. Mary.

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What a charming website. Very hand crafted. Where she made “little gems” in her “magic laboratory”. crafting chocolate treats for the Royal family and devoted her life to chocolate, a chocolate nun if you will. Her website claims her holy dedication –

“Mary Delluc, artist and gourmet, never got married, and decided, for the love of her profession, to spend her life in her workshops and stores.”

As their packaging proudly states, they are a Belgian Royal Warrant holder, no less. Many stores in Brussels and across Belgium and one outpost in lucky Ohio.

http://www.mary.be/en/home

Super impressive selection I must say. And one that I will indulge in very happily over the next little while. Once again, thank you Agata!! Packages of chocolate are warmly welcomed in these parts.

Blue mountains

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About a month ago, I headed up to the Blue Mountains for a solo day trip to support a friend who had a gallery opening of her work.

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You can find more of her most recent treasures here:

http://www.hathillgallery.com.au/component/igallery/artists/emma-magenta-originals-prints?Itemid=103

Missing the grandeur of the Swiss mountains, I tried to capture an Aussie mountain feeling. You’d think after living in Switzerland for 2 years I’d be more prepared with my wardrobe but as it was hot and sunny in Sydney, I left home with light cotton trousers and a lightweight cardigan. Boy, was I under-dressed. Even though it is hardly alpine in altitude (a touch over at 1000m at nearby Katoomba),

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the fog certainly arrived in force. Here’s the train station when I arrived

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and by the time I left a few hours later, truly socked in

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With grand ambitions of heading on a hike, I didn’t feel confident enough to brave the tracks in the fog solo, so instead, I walked through the local park which provided some local frosty beauty.

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A trip to Blackheath isn’t complete without visiting the Victory Antique Centre,

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a massive barn packed to the rafters with bric a brac gems

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where some people must have thought the dress code was also antique

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Here are some other locals.

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back on track

It’s been several months since I’ve posted. And quite a lot has happened since then…

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Before leaving Switzerland late September, as research for this blog, I had prepared to do a Läderach chocolate workshop and was intending to photograph the process in detail, but alas it was not to be as just before we were due to fly home (a week prior), on a stunning bike trip up to Sanetch,

We followed the windy road past the dammed lake to the pass, along one of the highest paved roads in Switzerland

Again, breath-taking scenery!
unfortunately I came off the bike a little too fast downhill and a little too hard on the road. Ouch. Badly bruised hip and broken collarbone. So, while we were able to continue with our plan to return home to Australia as planned, it made the move quite complicated and painful. Talk about leaving with a bang!

Here we are, 4 months after the accident and I have pretty much recovered. My arm/shoulder’s mobility is still limited but physio and regular exercises are helping it heal. While I may still feel as if I’m in my 20’s or 30’s, I’m afraid to say, my body is healing slowly like a woman in her 40’s (which is more accurate).

Being back home in Australia is rather lovely I must say. And even more lovely in our home again.

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Coming back to our house and our neighbourhood was a warm embrace and as I sit at our kitchen table with jazz on the radio as a cool summer wind dries the laundry on the line, I can hear our cuckoo clock ticking and appreciate the beauty of some flowers in a vase we found in a canalside pottery barn in France. Little souvenirs here and there and many memories remind us of our 2 year adventure in Europe.

This year, we’ve had two summers. The European summer was stunning. Properly warm in fact and we indulged in lots of trave, including to nearby Champery

2015 July 14 - sunset Dents du Midi

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the gorgeous Amalfi Coast

First sunset and this is an untouched photo - this reflects the real light of dusk. Stunning!

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and a sleepy canalside village in France

The house we stayed in is on the right with the car parked outside. It looks small from the outside but it had 3 storeys & could sleep more than 10 people comfortably
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and now we’re having a hot and sticky Sydney summer. Swimming in the sea again has been a true joy. Here are two of my favourite ocean pools. Firstly Bondi Icebergs

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and Bronte Baths

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and breathing in the spicy scents of the Australian bush is quite different to the alpine forests of Switzerland.

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Look at this beautiful gum tree which welcomes you as you descend into Petersham from the train station. It’s not unusual to see kookaburras around here.

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And that’s another thing you notice on returning to Australia – the birds here are so noisy! The kookaburras laugh at you with no restraint – kooka ka ka KA KA KA KA!!! And the other local birds (Currawongs, maybe?) even sound like they have a nasal Australian twang as they call to eachother. This is not my recording but contains very similar birdcalls to give you some idea.

What I think they’re actually saying is:

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(For those of you who are yet to grace our shores, this sign greets you as you exit customs at Sydney Airport.)

Annecy chocolates

We had a recent couple of days in pretty Annecy, only an hour and a half drive from here. Very elegant place with canals, the pre-requisite lake and mountains (for this region) and a charming old town.

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On all my petite séjours, I can never walk past a chocolate shop. What’s a girl to do when this one is five paces from your hotel’s front door?

Jeff de Bruges – which I had never heard of & now through some online research discover it’s a chain of Belgian chocolate shops founded by a Frenchman with stores peppered all through Paris – how did I not know this?! Apparently there are stores in London, Ammam, Dubai and Canada and more.

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The store was beautifully presented

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Even the counter had a bite out of it!

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Another chocolatier in the heart of the tourist area is Meyer Artisan chocolatier.

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Look at the beautiful window display, especially the “Tongs” and the school stationery pencil cases stuffed with coloured pencils, all made of chocolate.

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Plus inside the handiwork of the shopkeeper’s husband, all impressive chocolate sculptures.

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and around the corner at yet another confiserie, look at this beautiful meringue display!

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Tristan chocolaterie

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On my grand quest for chocolate utopia, I believe I may have come close with Tristan Chocolaterie. Nestled among the vineyards in the humble town of Bougy-Villars, between Lausanne and Geneva (dangerously close to the Ikea store, I might add – so now there’s no excuse not to indulge next time you need a Swedish storage solution for locals here).

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This place is the REAL DEAL. So glad we made the pilgrimage. And a holy place it is (cue harmonising sopranos). Chocolate piled up on shelves and beautifully displayed.

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Dangerously, they have tasting bowls where you can sample the various flavours. Try before you buy. And try we did!

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Aside from the classic dark, milk and white variations with assorted nuts, caramel and cocoa nibs, there was a white chocolate with Tasmanian pepper. Yep.

Like the best chocolatiers here (Durig in Lausanne for example – which I have blogged about earlier), once you buy something, they offer you a taste of a chocolate of your choice. See below for the choices.

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The girls went for caramel (which was subtle but creamy and a bit dulce de leche in consistency – scrumptious!) and I opted for the classic Noire. Heart-stoppingly pure and melted smoothly like a cello solo in your mouth.

We came away with a lovely bag full of tasty treats. Must be eaten within 10 days. Hmmm, that won’t be hard!

Take a look at the website for many of his chocolate sculptures. Incredible.

http://www.chocolatier-tristan.ch/

 

 

Bacchanalia

Summer is reaching a climax in terms of heat and long sunny days. It has been a glorious summer!

Another weekend, another festival. This weekend was the Corsier festival. Corsier is a charming village up the hill behind Vevey and it’s where Charlie Chaplin used to live. One of our favourite parks is Charlie Chaplin Park and this weekend this was where the festival was centred.

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Starting on Friday night, the park was set up with a massive tent, fairy floss stall, bumper cars and other carnival fun fair caravans.

Live music until 4 am (yes, you read that right – when the Swiss party, they really let their hair down). Some smooth dance moves here.

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Time for a costume change.

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Catering to all ages, from the tiny tots (and this was between 9 and 10pm at night)

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to the kids tent with fluro lights, DJ and dancing

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and on to the teenagers who were congregated around the bumper cars with their chaotic fun and manic energy

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With a full moon above, there was plenty of colour and carnival atmosphere.

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With fairy floss to fuel you through the night, you too could win one of these soft toys if you burst more than 3 balloons with a bow and arrow (or BB gun if you were older)

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