travel

Beautiful Venetian Stationery

I was looking at some old photos on my laptop and came across some of a beautiful stationery shop in Venice that we visited 18 months ago.

On our family trip to Europe over Christmas 2013 we spent 4 fabulous nights in Venice.  I think we all counted it as one of our favourite spots on the trip.

After an early walk one morning, Will and Henri came back with breakfast to tell us they'd found a shop I was certain to love.  So the 6 of us set out on a winding exploration of the tiny streets of Venice.  Thankfully they both have an excellent sense of direction and were able to find it again.  It did not disappoint.  This is my kind of shop.  A letterpress print shop that prints personalised calling cards and notepaper.  Can it get any better?  I don't think so.

Print shop 2

We all spent nearly an hour in this shop, taking in every fabulous detail.  

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The owner, Gianni, was lovely to chat to and full of life.

Print shop 1

There he is pointing out something that I just had to look at. He's definitely passionate about his trade.

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The children found it interesting too and particularly loved seeing the printing presses in action.

Print shop 3

I spent a long time looking through his stock of stamps for something that was sewing related.  I was hoping to find a 'needle pulling thread' or similar to incorporate into some personalised stationery.  I didn't think scissors was such a good thing to have on notepaper, and the thimbles were not immediately recognisable as thimbles.

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In the end I chose this:

Notecards

I love these notecards.  I've used them many times since.  If I return to Venice I think I'll have to place another order with Gianni.  He's a traditional guy.  He has a landline or you can write to him by hand.  There's no email or mobile phone. So placing an order from Melbourne isn't really an option. I'll just have to wait until I'm lucky enough to travel there again so I can visit Gianni in person.  That's definitely something to look forward to.


Back to school, back to reality

I always love the return to the school year.  My boys don't get quite as excited as I do about all their new stationery and fresh notebooks.  I guess it's not a boy thing.

My head is spinning though.  Normally a long, lazy January at the beach gets me ready to start February with a bang.  This year was very different because of our very special European Christmas.

The coat I made for Adelaide came in extremely handy.  She wore it every day we were out and about.

Europe Eiffel Tower

We loved showing the children the famous sights.

Europe family Eiffel Tower

Anything with an engineering angle was of great interest to the boys.  Things like the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London or Venice stirred their curiosity and led to hundreds of questions about how things were built, why, who, when.  Nothing like seeing things in person to awaken an interest in history and languages.

Europe San Cassiano

Travelling with four children can have its challenges.  Not everyone is up to queueing for three hours to see a famous painting.  So we packed our trip with lots of skiing which was so much fun.

Europe skiing

We've returned home with some fabulous memories and a list of favourite places that one day the children might be lucky enough to return to.

Europe Trento

But that won't be happening anytime soon. We've told them they'll be lucky if they get to eat out at the Flinders pub next summer.  I've certainly had enough German sausages to last a lifetime.


A 'very me' quilt

I'm blogging from the snow.  We are here for 17 days and I didn't bring any sewing or craft with me.  I am missing the stitching and handling of fabric.  There is a lot of down time here.  All the children are occupied in lessons each day. (Adelaide came home from her lesson today with a "Level 2" badge she is very proud of.  She has graduated from her beginner class which means she has mastered the snow plough. She gave the badge a little kiss as she snuggled into bed for her day sleep.)

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We adults generally ski in the mornings and then come indoors at lunchtime.  The family is benefitting from my lack of craft distractions with yummy dinners every night.  Tonight it's roast pork with crackling - perfect winter fare. I managed to do a 15 day menu plan and bring everything I needed from Melbourne, which means I don't have to rely on the limited choice here on the mountain. 

In fact our family has been eating very well since I discovered Bill Granger's cookbooks.  All the recipes are tasty and simple and I've put him up there ahead of Jamie Oliver for tasty family recipes.

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These are photos of a little quilting project I started working on a few weeks ago.  I was inspired by this image, and suddenly I just had to replicate it.

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I rumaged in my box of shirting fabrics and pulled out all of these that shared the same pretty blue tone.  Many of these are from Townmouse production, and some are from a local shirting maker who I have been known to visit from time to time to beg for scraps.

I will look forward to progressing this some more when we are back into term time.


The most beautiful beaches in the world

We've just returned from 5 blissful days at Three Hummock Island.

Boating

The calm conditions enabled us to take the boat out and explore some of the beaches on the far side of the island.  We chose Friday 13th as the day to visit Dead Man's Cove.  This deep, sheltered cove got it's name from a nasty incident involving a scientist and some torpedoes.  He was left there to test his weapons and when his colleagues returned they found he'd blown himself up.  Just one of the colourful stories that make part of the history of this fascinating place.

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After lunch at Dead Man's Cove we headed for home, and found this unamed beach to pull into.  It had a perfect rockpool for Adelaide to frolic in.

Fishing Max

Meanwhile the boys threw their lines into the crystal clear water.

Fishing

Will was needed to help Henri cast out his line.  Henri was very excited when he caught his first fish of the holiday.  I was happy to see it get put back into the ocean.

For the half hour trip home in the boat Adelaide fell asleep in my arms while we bobbed along.  After the girls were dropped ashore, Will and boys headed out into Home Bay and caught flathead for dinner.  We declared it a memorable and near-perfect day.


Kyoto, beautiful Kyoto

We've been back from Japan for a while now.  There's never a dull moment round here.  Life has been busy - too busy to blog.

So I've been reflecting back on our very restful few days in Japan. This trip included an overnight stay in Kyoto, as Will had a meeting in Osaka (that involved him unwillingly belting out "I did it my way" in a karaoke bar in front of the senior executives of his client firm.  Unfortunately I didn't get to witness this miraculous event.)

Kyoto

Through the hotel we hired bicycles.  We love exploring cities by bike.  It's the best way to cover a lot of ground, and yet you can stop when you want to, to pop inside a shop or whip out your camera.

Kyoto combi

Just for fun, here's another mobile food van.  Have you ever seen a cuter Mr Whippy?  Kyoto was a perfect mix of lovely gardens and temples, and interesting streets full of intriguing little shops.  Will post more about the shops over on Japan Craft Journal.


A lazy Sunday in Tokyo

Will has come to Tokyo for a couple of meetings and I have joined him for a long weekend.  We have had a lovely time mooching around galleries, shopping districts and quirky streets - all punctuated by enjoyable meals.

Metabolism exhibition

Yesterday we visited the Mori museum in Roppongi Hills where there was a wonderful exhibition about the Metabolism Architectural movement.  There were some incredible building models - beautifully detailed in a way only the Japanese could manage. The boys would have loved them. There were some great 1950s videos screening throughout the exhibit of cool architects in their turtle necks describing their work while shrouded in cigarette smoke. Fabulous stuff.

MO+

Today we took the subway to the Museum of Contemporary Art.  The building was wonderful.

Under Mo+

You could seek the shade underneath the building where the shallow ponds reflected the sunlight onto the ceiling.  The little children there loved it, and the path to it with its waterfall.

Water wall

There are some beautiful public sculptures set amongst shady trees.

Public sculpture

We then headed to Omotesando to explore the little side streets.  The main street of Omotesando is a lineup of the worlds greatest fashion brands.  But the side streets are much more interesting - full of quirky little spaces.

Coffee to go

This van selling coffee was in the carpark of the Benetton Store, just metres off the main street.  The funny thing about this photo is that it was about 30 degrees and humid as can be. We were expiring in short sleeves, so this poor little dog would have been suffering for fashion.

Chopsticks

Just further up the same street I found this sweet little shop in a very stylish building.  It was selling thousands of different types of chopsticks - mostly with a children's theme.  I got sets of chopsticks for the boys with the bullet train painted on them, and a laquer spoon for Adelaide with an animal painted in the bowl.

Florist

The presentation of the shops is rather quaint, with vintage furniture pieces or flea market finds used in the display.

Beauty salon

It's an interesting juxtaposition to the mega-brands in the main street.  It definitely makes Omotesando a fascinating place to have a poke around.  

We had lunch at Maisen, which is renowned for offering the best Tonkatsu in Tokyo.  Tonkatsu is pork deep fried in breadcrumbs and served with a barbeque style sauce. (That's the organic health retreat diet out the window.)  When in Rome...


Winter fun

Taking me skiing in March earlier this year was all part of Will's cunning plan. He wanted to get me hooked on skiing so we could have family skiing holidays.  Skiing was not part of my childhood.  Give me a Queensland beach over a snow covered mountain in Victoria any day.

MtBuller

Well, his cunning plan worked and I am now happily embracing a ski holiday here and there.  Well more than here or there. We have committed to a whole season of skiing.  The three boys have enrolled in a seasonal program called "Team Extreme" which means they ski with the same group and instructor for the entire season.  That's every weekend and the school holidays.

So we have just enjoyed two weeks at the snow, where the boys skied from 9am to 3pm, 16 days in a row. Yes, that's a lot of skiing, isn't it.  Max and Tom now scoff at my skiing, the fact that I don't like black runs, and that I go at a more moderate pace than them.

On skis

Even Adelaide has embraced the sport.  Here she is about to head off on skis for the first time.  (She looks so much older in this photo.)  I'm not sure how to read her expression.  It looks like she's thinking, "Are you really going to make me do this?" In reality, she had the wind in her face and was probably just damn cold.  But it didn't deter her. She went straight down an intermediate run between Daddy's legs, and later did the same with big brother Tom leading the way.  Some friends leant us a little pair of 2 year old skis and boots.  She thinks they're fabulous (she's a typical girl and loves shoes) and keeps dragging them out and trying to put them on.  If I don't look out she too will be better than me soon. Fun and games.


Our island escape

Yesterday we returned from the most heavenly Easter holiday on Three Hummock Island.  Wow, we had 9 blissful days.  The first five were spent there on our own, and then two families joined us for the Easter weekend.

Sand dune walk

The weather was mild, and then turned spectacular - with clear blue skies and no wind.  There is a massive sand dune on the west side of the island.  I hadn't been to it before.  We hiked up it.  It was heavy going, but I think you'll agree the view was worth it.

Looking north:

North view of West Telegraph Bay

Looking south:

South view of West Telegraph Bay

And let me point out that there was not another soul on this entire glorious beach.

There was swimming;

In flight

boating;

Tom

which included fishing;

Max

exploring;

Henri

and Peekaboo.

Adelaide

I made progress on the applique quilt, with a third block now underway.  (I've got to sneak in one craft photo.)

Sewing box

And there was generally lots of eating, sleeping and lovely down-time.

Our flight home was interesting.  The plane landed to pick us up just as the last light was fading. John the caretaker had to light up the runway by driving the Land-Cruiser ahead of us at speed so the pilot could see where he was going. If I didn't have complete confidence in the pilot I would have found this somewhat unnerving. It was a clear night so we had an amazing view of Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula all lit up below us. We could see the Easter traffic clogging the freeways back into town.

Our escape to Three Hummock was blissful and memorable, but there's no escaping the enormous pile of laundry that I'm currently engulfed by. Five loads and I'm about half way through.


Fontainebleau and Paris

On the way to Paris we saw the signs to Fontainebleau.  So we turned off the autoroute and spent the afternoon there.

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My goodness the French know how to live well.  Or at least, the nobility certainly do.  The scale and opulence of Fontainebleau was mind-blowing.

Then it was on to Paris.  We spent our days in Paris getting around town on the Velib bicycles.  We covered a lot of ground this way.  The weather was very mild - perfect cycling conditions.

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We spent much of our time admiring the architecture of the city.  I love this apartment building overlooking the Eiffel Tower and backing on to the Parc du Champs de Mars.  Talk about prime real estate.

I love it when all the lamps go on inside the apartments in the late afternoon and you get small glimpses of Parisian apartment life.


Le Manège

Adelaide would love this.

Manege

Possibly the highlight of Adelaide's week is riding the little three pony merry-go-round at the Prahran Market.  She would get so excited to see this, found opposite the palace gates to Fontainebleau.

I love the giraffe.  There's even an upper deck with a second tier of horses to ride on.


The perfect craft studio

I am obsessed with the rooftops of France.  I spend my whole time looking up at the rooflines and dormer windows of the top floor apartments.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's my love of Frances Hodgson Burnett's "A Little Princess" - my favourite book from childhood.

Rooftops

This pretty group of buildings are in the town of Beaune in Burgundy.  Wouldn't one of those attic spaces make the perfect craft studio?  I could think of nothing better than being tucked away up there on a cold rainy day with the hum of a sewing machine, surrounded by fabric.