Hobart Hype: Coffee, part 1.

Oh, dear. I’ve got a lot of strong feelings about coffee. Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone? Aren’t these strong coffee feelings subjective? Yes and no (mostly yes), but this is my blog and I never said anything about objectivity. I’m probably going to do more than one post about coffee and Hobart because I can’t limit these feelings to one of each. I just can’t.

Just right: Villino & Ecru Coffee.

Jaime Lannister has it wrong about a few things but he’s bang on the money when it comes to coffee. Ok, his actor is bang on the money. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was spotted at Villino around a year ago when he was holidaying in Tasmania (what a legend) and I just found this article about that event that features a hilarious quote from me, noice.

Villino was on my radar when I moved down here and it’s stayed on my radar since becoming a local. I don’t frequent it, but I know that if I ever stop by, my coffee’s always going to be excellent. Villino roast their own, and have takeaway beans available for home drinkers too.

To be perfectly honest, I visit Villino’s little takeaway brother Ecru (a couple of doors down) a lot more, because Villino’s often a little TOO cosy inside (small shop, many people!). I was a semi-regular at Ecru for a while, thanks to their prepaid coffee application and my running late and not having time to make myself a coffee before work. I could load up Rewardle, order my coffee, jump on my bike and a few minutes later have a delicious takeaway in my hands. As well as the prepaid feature, Ecru give you a free coffee every ten coffees through Rewardle. Nice! The only trick is making sure you’ve got some prepaid credit already sorted at Ecru, because there’s no preordering if you’re at $0.

Ecru’s also open on Sundays now thanks to the Farm Gate Market having relocated to the end of Criterion St. I love the market but I love Ecru’s coffee more. Wait… their Facebook page says closed Sundays… maybe it’s just during warmer months? Rats. Quit playing games with my heart, guys.

Anyway, long story short—these guys have got the goods.

Overhyped: Doctor Coffee.

Call the doctor, this coffee is burning my fingers. Why does the Doctor’s coffee take so damn long to brew? Why does everybody rave about it? Does anybody actually rave about it or do I just think that they do? The Doctor is my very last resort for takeaway coffee, one rung above McCafe. I will only go to the Doctor if forced. They’re open most public holidays when nowhere else is, and I guess their Sandy Bay cafe (the newest of the chain) is ok (the wallpaper is so great and the staff are nice and the coffee doesn’t seem to take a million years to make like it does at Salamanca), but after getting burned one too many times (figuratively and literally?) at Salamanca, the Doctor leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you’re around Salamanca, there are way better options. See below, for example.

Underhyped: Zimmah Coffee & Parklane Espresso.

Zimmah beans are my jam. A friend first put me onto Zimmah via Yelp review and I was in for a penny, in for a pound… of coffee beans. I’ve watched the Zimmah space evolve from coffee dungeon (when it was pretty much just a bench space in a garage) to cosy hangout space (with pillars of books!), and while I do wish they’d start doing breakfasts (because they’re a stone’s throw from my place), I’ll take what I can get and if I’m just feeling like drinking a bunch of coffees and writing the next great novel, Zimmah is the perfect place to do that.

Dane entertains my coffee fussiness for both takeaways (flat white, milk around 60°C ie not too damn hot) and beans (filter, light and sweet, floral notes best). I’ve even sweet-talked my way into a home delivery of beans once, which was definitely above and beyond. Zimmah does a handful of regular blends, all with amazing label designs and fun names—my favourites are the two lighter blends, the Artful Dodger and Dutch Courage, because they work the best in my Aeropress at home.

Parklane gets a shoutout in here because they use Zimmah beans and they’re a trustworthy and delicious coffee haven in the middle of Salamanca (hidden in a corner of Salamanca Square), particularly on Saturday mornings when the market’s on. So many awful coffee vendors at the market. So many poor tourists. If only they knew…! The Parklane guys are lovely, their coffee prices aren’t ridiculous, they’re quick with their pours, and they even have a “perfect” size. I feel like a smug jerk every time I order a perfect flat white. Sorry, not sorry.

  

So, what do you reckon? As with all reviews, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food (and coffee).

Hobart Hype: Breakfast.

I was going to write this post almost a year ago. What’s up with procrastinating from doing something you actually enjoy doing? ANYWAY, here’s part two of the Hobart Hype post series I tried to light a fire under myself with last year. I really love having opinions on things. (I said this in passing to my boss the other day and she casually replied with, “Yes, you do.”)

Just Right: Machine Laundry Cafe.

Known as “Machine” to the locals, it may be stuck in a corner of Salamanca AKA Tourist Central but dang, these guys have got it going on. The coffee is solid (it won’t blow your mind but it won’t break your heart), the breakfast menu goes all day (perfect for the afternoon risers, guilty as charged), and the menu items are a decent mix of classics and more interesting options.

I like to drop into Machine at least once every six months—I’m not a rabid regular. The menu doesn’t change. It just doesn’t. There are a couple of specials every day but I don’t think I’ve ever ordered one. I’ve had the fat boy, the pulled pork sanga, the new old egg dish… they’re probably my top three picks, actually. If you’re a fan of bowls of coffee, they’re on the menu here.

The morning sun can tend to blind half the table if you’re sitting outside, but then again, sitting outside in the morning sun in the middle of winter can be delightful. Because Machine’s in the square, it’s shielded from most of the winds that can rip through town. And you’re right next to a giant chess board if you fancy a round or two before or after your meal.

Thom's Thing @ Machine Laundry Cafe.

Thom’s Thing @ Machine Laundry Cafe.

Overhyped: Pigeon Hole.

This might be the sole reason I decided to start doing these posts. If I see one more mainlander recommend this place to their mainland friends planning a trip to Hobart, I might scream. No, I’ll most likely scream. Who am I kidding? I’ve already screamed over this. I’m screaming right now. Why? Pigeon Hole is fine. It’s fine. I was never overwhelmed with it, myself. The meals are too small and dainty and expensive for what they are, but it’s not bad. It’s just not worth raving over, and the business has changed hands since people first decided to start raving about it, too.

Do you know what’s worth raving over about Pigeon Hole? The bread. Do you know where you can get the bread and many other delicious baked goods now? Pigeon Whole Bakery. Please choose to rave over them instead. Go crazy over their sweet baked goods. Push an entire Pigeon Whole brioche bun into your face, even if it’s got nothing on it. If you’re around Hobart at Easter, do whatever you can to secure yourself some Pigeon Whole Bakery hot cross buns. I don’t even like hot cross buns but I will religiously (ahaha) get a half-dozen of these for the long weekend and I love them. Plus, just the other day my boss told me that they’re now doing banh mi for lunches. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

Underhyped: Raspberry Fool.

Ah, this is awkward. The cafe I was determinedly going to write about in this space almost a year ago has lost my interest. I loved them fiercely, quite honestly, but then they had a kitchen fire and were closed for a few weeks and when they reopened it was with a new menu that was less breakfast-flavoured and somehow undefinably less Mem-flavoured and I went right off them.

Is my finger on the pulse enough to say that there should be more hype for Straight Up? What about Ginger Brown? Or Room for a Pony? I feel like locals, at least, will scoff at my saying Ginger Brown deserves more hype, because the place is consistently busy and most tables will have little reserved signs on any given day of the week—but interstate visitors ain’t got a clue. Ok, maybe we want to keep it that way. I’ll move on.

WAIT, I’VE GOT IT! EVERYBODY HOLD YOUR HORSES! EVERYBODY REDIRECT YOUR HORSES TO RASPBERRY FOOL! This place is so underhyped that I regularly forget about it, which is a travesty, because every time I have been there I have had the most delicious meal, served by the friendliest staff. I’m not even kidding. The first time I went there I had a baked egg dish that blew me away. I don’t even really like egg dishes or tend to go for them if there are appealing enough non-egg dishes, but this was just… it was heaven in a dish. I believe in a Yelp review I went so far as to call it my Hobart Breakfast dish, as up until that morning I hadn’t really found a brekky joint that truly rocked my boat.

Baked eggs @ Raspberry Fool.

Baked eggs @ Raspberry Fool.

There are a couple of cons (mothers always say your flaws are what make you beautiful though, right?), which really just concern the space: it’s a weeny place with not a lot of seating and the floors always make me think “bathroom”. But the pros list is a lot longer. I’ve already covered a lot, but let’s add to that good coffee, open seven days a week (!!!), and a good Facebook presence with lots of tempting photos. I love that Raspberry Fool’s description on FB opens with “A cuddle from mum – yep we serve comfort food”. <3 Comfort food is just what this is, and more people should know it.

So, what do you reckon? As with all reviews, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food.

A weekend in Panama.

I don’t like camping.

I just find it really in tents. (This joke works better out loud.)

I just find it really in tents. (This joke works better out loud.)

I’m not one of those sorts—and there seem to be a great many of you, to be honest—who get excited about camping and bush walking and the Great Outdoors. I’m just not into it. I’m a child of the internet, of screens and amenities and microwaves. The Easy Indoors, if you will.

And yet, every so often, I think, “what the heck”. These whims are generally linked with music festivals, and I get tricked into thinking that my love of music overrides my dislike of camping. If I leave it long enough, I also get tricked into thinking that my love of music overrides my dislike of music festivals.

This, dear readers, is how I ended up at a festival called Panama.

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To its credit, Panama had a heckload of pluses. Only in its second year this year, Panama limited tickets to 1000 punters only, was located on a property in the middle of nowhere (aka Golconda, roughly north east Tasmania), boasted a small but neat line-up for its two days of music, and was certainly on the more affordable end of Australian music festivals. I roped a couple of friends into joining me, we bought Friday passes to get up there early and get settled the day before the festival rush, and we road tripped our way to the great land of no phone reception, narrowly avoiding a speeding ticket for 16km/h over the limit (great north eastern magic) as we rushed to make it in the gates on time.

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Friday night went better than expected, I won’t lie. While I’m not a fan of camping, I am a fan of assembling tents. I’m not sure why. The great satisfaction that comes with completion, perhaps? Let’s go with that. We scored a lovely posse just under a tree and got our two tents up without fuss as the sun was setting before a brief exploration of our surrounds. The festival grounds were a stone’s throw away, as were the drop toilets. Ah, camping. Ah, yes.

This makes camping look WAY better than it actually is (though this moment was A+).

This makes camping look WAY better than it actually is (though this moment was A+).

Saturday morning was slightly more eventful. Saturday morning was a harsh reinforcement of my dislike for camping, and Saturday morning was the one lingering memory of a festival called Panama 2015 I will take to my grave. Saturday morning I found a leech in my hair. It was big, it was fat, it was thoroughly sated after gorging itself on my scalp, and it fell into my hand as I ran said hand through my hair. It wasn’t the best way to encounter a leech for the first time, I’ll say that much. Do you know what’s generally tough to come by when festival camping? A hot shower. I spent an hour and a half sitting in my car, focused on the rear-vision mirror and desperately trying to clean my bleeding scalp and hair with baby wipes. It went as well as it could have gone while my scalp was still bleeding thanks to the leech’s anti-coagulant bite.

I got out of the car for the first time in an hour and a half, convincing myself to leave it be and try to enjoy the rest of the festival, when a bee stung me on the neck.

Look, the rest of the festival was fine. The drinks were good, the food was (mostly) good, the rest of the insects on the property left me alone. The crowd was lovely, chilled and not obnoxious at all (I won’t miss you one bit, Splendour in the Grass punters!), and even contained a number of faces I knew from down in Hobart. The property was beautiful (that dam!). The music was great—there wasn’t one performer or band that played that left me thinking, “I could do with not hearing this”.

Ben Salter and Friends.

Ben Salter and Friends.

But I’m never, ever going again.

Despite the festival looking like this at peak times.

Despite the festival looking like this at peak times.

And these excellent companions.

And these excellent companions.

And beautiful drizzly mornings like this.

And beautiful drizzly mornings like this.

And this zero waste policy that was actually 99.9% effective all weekend.

And this zero waste policy that was actually 99.9% effective all weekend.

And this picturesque crap just hanging out in the middle of the festival ground.

And this picturesque crap just hanging out in the middle of the festival ground.

I’m actually serious. WITNESS.

Distilled my own gin, nbd.

Today I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Turns out my very, very good friend Helen had decided to take me along as her guest on Bespoke Tasmania’s Gin Workshop tour at McHenry Distillery. In a nutshell, I can’t recommend this workshop more highly, because I love Tasmania and I love gin.

The perfect day.

The perfect day.

I’m going to run you through the whole adventure, because it was one of the best days of my life and I want to remember it well. The day began with a 9:15am pickup, and I piled into the back seat of Kim Dudson’s car for the drive from Hobart down to Port Arthur. This was really where the whole treat began, because while I love road trips down to the Tasman peninsula, I’m usually the driver. Being able to gaze out the windows while I drank my coffee was wonderful, because the views are spectacular no matter what the season or the weather. We had gloomy clouds and smatterings of rain on the morning trip out and I was spellbound.

Once the beautiful 1.5 hour drive was complete, we pulled up at Bill McHenry’s place and piled out of the car to begin our day in the bond store, next to the row of ten barrels of aging gin. We chatted about gin while drinking coffee, but once coffee was done we assumed tasting gin would be acceptable. It was twelve o’clock somewhere. Continue reading »

Hobart Hype: Burgers.

As the second Dark Mofo raged through town earlier this month, I saw plenty of people passing on travel tips to others.

“Oh, you’re going to Hobart? Don’t miss X! Make sure you get along to Y! And bring me back something from Z!”

Some of the recommendations I heartily agreed with, others I shook my head over. And furthermore, I wondered how more continued to fly under the radar. It’s true that sometimes I like having favourite spots to myself, but for business’ sake I wish more for them.

Plus I needed something to blog about.

So I present Hypebart: each month I’ll (try to) throw light on stuff around town from a local’s perspective (and subjective opinion, of course). Throw light and maybe throw a little shade, depending on how I’m feeling. Sound like fun? Let’s go.

This month I’m in a burger mood.

Just Right: The Standard.

This little alleyway burger nook in the middle of the CBD has only been open for six months but has already won the hearts and stomachs of locals and tourists alike (the ones that are cluey enough to go looking for it, that is).

It’s true that there could be more seating (and warmer seating, in winter) and the fries have been causing some local polarisation (I LOVE them, I know others HATE them) but dang, those burgers. I wouldn’t use the phrase “Huxtaburger of Hobart” lightly, but that’s exactly how I feel. Great size, great fillings, exciting combos, a secret menu, and A+ price. I’m hooked and so should you be, too.

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Overhyped: Jack Greene / Burger Got Soul / Burger Haus

This is cheating a little bit, for me to make this claim. I’ve eaten more than one burger at both BGS and BH but I have to admit that I’ve yet to get my burg on at JG. And yet… a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” is a “gourmet burger” and while there may not be a Grill’d in Tasmania, we don’t need one, because we’ve got all these guys who do exactly the same thing. Big burgers with funny names full of ample ingredients that explode everywhere, big thick-cut chips on the side which are delicious but you can barely fit them in if you want to finish the burger too.

I was excited about these types of burgers seven years ago or so when Grill’d first opened in Melbourne but it’s a far too oversaturated market these days and hard to stand out. Which is part of the reason I’ve lumped all three of the above venues together. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same place but just in Salamanca, Sandy Bay and North Hobart.

Underhyped: The Winston.

It’s true that the beer list at the Winston is legendary. But not nearly enough people are talking about the Winston’s cheeseburger, which in my mind is equally legendary.

LEGENDARY.

It’s true they went off the rails a little with those dusty buns (don’t get me started on how much I hate flour-dusted buns, WHAT PURPOSE DO THEY SERVE? EXCEPT TO COVER ME IN FLOUR? WHY WOULD I EVER WANT THAT? Sorry I guess I got myself started) but things have been back on track lately. Straight down the line: a meat patty, cheese, sweet sliced pickles and sauce. Done. Welcome to a perfect dirty burger, in my opinion.

Occasionally the meat patty is cooked right the way through, and sure that’s good and all and what we’re used to as Strayans but as a recent convert to the “slightly rare burger patty” party, I’ve gotta say, my favourite Winston cheeseburgers are the ones that have that slight streak of pink in the middle of the patty.

I can’t tell you much about the rest of the menu here as it’s rare for me to sway from my regular order of a cheeseburger and a pint. I’ll admit that the couple of times I’ve ordered other burgers here, I’ve been disappointed. But it’s also true that the most recent time I ate at the Winston, I had a clam chowder and it was SENSATIONAL. Which is actually a bit upsetting for me because my heart tells me all I should ever eat there are cheeseburgers.

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So, what do you reckon? As I’ve already said, these opinions are subjective, so your mileage may vary. I just really like talking about food.

#30daysofbiking

Now that I’m done recapping my holiday, I can get back to raving about Tasmania.

Late last year I started getting a hankering to get the Night Owl back on the road again. It had spent too long gathering dust in my dining room (look, you can’t keep a bike that beautiful outside in the elements!) because I’d a) started a full-time job and b) gotten a little gun-shy of riding because the last time I rode it, the seat wasn’t fixed on properly and I didn’t fall off but I put my back out trying to ride the rest of the way home on a poorly-fitted seat. Despite my bike technician friend Jarod coming around and fixing it for me, I remained gun-shy and avoidant.

But late last year the weather was warming up and I was giving the Night Owl the ol’ side-eye… and then I broke my ankle, so the dust continued to gather. But THEN! My ankle healed, and the weather stayed lovely, and yet I kept coming up with excuses.

Until, on the 31st of March, I stumbled across #30daysofbiking. A friend mentioned it on twitter and it was a bit like fate. Despite it being a bit late at night for me to be making rational decisions, I pledged, and that was it. I was in. I couldn’t go back on my pledge!

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Pretty pleased with myself.

So, I did it. Well—ok, I almost did it. I did it to the best of my ability, which ended up being 25 days out of 30. I wish I’d written down the exact reasons for the days I didn’t ride. I know for one of them, I had my grandparents visiting from interstate. At least one other day, maybe more, it rained all day. Excuses, excuses. Technically I sat on my bike inside my house and even wheeled it back and forward a little bit, for authenticity’s sake, but hey—after not riding at all for over a year, 25/30 ain’t too shabby.

I’ve seen a minor improvement in my fitness, too. See, Hobart is built on a series of hills. Riding into town from my place is a dream; I barely have to pedal at all. It’s all downhill! Gradual declines, but still declines the whole way. Coming home from the centre of town is the opposite—whatever blocks you choose to travel up, they’re exactly that. UP. At the start of the month there was always a block or two that I’d have to get off the bike and walk up. The Night Owl is pretty but she’s not built for hills. She’s not quite a fixie but in Hobart she may as well be! Three internal gears make things only slightly easier. Anyway, the moral of the story is that I can now ride almost the entire way home, and that’s having tried at least three different routes. I can ride up ’em all. Until I get to my street, that is, but that’s another challenge for another month.

Thanks, 30 Days of Biking. Thanks for getting the Night Owl to fly again, and thanks for getting me back in the saddle.

New York, I love you.

Let it be known that I’m really good at procrastinating. I finished the text for this post exactly three months after I flew out of JFK Airport at the end of my holiday. I guess I’ve been holding onto it, savouring it, because once the blog posts are done then it’s properly over and I can’t swan about indulging myself any more. My holiday photos are dropping off the start of my photo stream, one by one, and each one to go is a pin-prick of sadness.

The positive of all this time is that my broken ankle is 98% recovered. I’ve been using the 98% description for a couple of weeks now. My foot doesn’t hurt much at all, except when I pivot quickly, but I don’t think ankles are really designed for that anyway. I’ve got a lot of cool scar tissue in my ankle that I can push around, thanks to all the ligaments I tore good and proper, but yeah. All healed up and walking on two legs like I was never crippled—so I guess these posts kind of take me back to those painful days of forward-planning and disappointments and struggling through my holiday as best I could. But I gosh darn did it, and it’s a story I’ll have forever.

Tourista Cool Beans.

Tourista Cool Beans.

So let’s finish the story. Here’s my recap of the last week of my holiday, picking up from the end of my last blog post.

Continue reading »

NO. SLEEP. TILL BRKLYN.

Yes, I am the first person to ever reference that when talking about a trip to Brooklyn. Let’s talk about Brooklyn! I am bummed I didn’t get to explore Brooklyn more, but I’m blaming freak snowstorms for that. What I did see of Brooklyn, I loved. Of course. Nobody is surprised.

This post isn’t entirely about Brooklyn—I decided to break my NYC posts up into Brooklyn and Manhattan purely based on our two different accommodations. There’s a fair bit of Manhattan in this post, but this week was our Brooklyn week. If that makes sense. It does to me.

Check out my boss subway-riding mum.

Check out my boss subway-riding mum.

This time I’ve done all my musing within each day’s rundown, so please click through for a full read of what I got up to!

Continue reading »

From Quebec City, With Love.

Here goes the first of my holiday nostalgia posts. I’m reliving the magic of my North American break via blog post and I’m taking you guys with me! I tried to stay on top of posting while I was travelling, I really did. I even started this post on a train from Québec City to Montréal on December 27th. The one line I had drafted was “I am writing this while on the ViaRail train from Québec City to Montréal”.

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Literally just out the window.

I won’t tell you about the trains yet, though. Let’s talk about my magical week in Québec City. People don’t lie when they say Québec is a corner of Europe in North America. So much French! My rudimentary efforts at learning French on duolingo actually paid off a couple of times (“he wants to stop at the bank” dear taxi driver thank you for humouring me) but the rest of the time I was mostly disappointed that nobody wanted to talk about black cats and eating apples. Every person who asked us where we were from was scandalised that we’d chosen to leave the warmth of Australia for the bitter cold of Québec City. The grass is always greener!

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Or whiter, in this case.

It WAS bitterly cold, too. And we loved every second of it. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time out in it due to my broken ankle, but I made the most of it. I stared at the beautiful snowscapes just outside the window. I told myself that one day my ankle wouldn’t be broken any more and I’d come back to Québec City with two working legs so I could explore within the walls of the beautiful Vieux-Québec and take the boxy funiculaire down to the Rue du Petit Champlain, the beautiful shopping street that is shown in so many stunning wintry Christmas photos. It would have been near an impossible feat on crutches. Even without decent snow shoes, walking around Québec City was treacherous—as my sister in her Doc Martens could attest to!

I found the powdery snow the easiest to hop through, as my rubber-based crutches and my own solo Doc Marten would crunch down into the powder and it’d feel like fairly stable grounding. The worst was old snow that’d been crunched down into ice, and I was even wary of ground that didn’t have a powder covering. The good news was that it snowed often enough in Québec that there was usually powder everywhere! Still, having to go any further on crutches than 50m or so was fairly exhausting anyway, and with the added concentration, balance and mild panic from the new terrain I had no experience with meant I was very easily pooped out. My most terrifying crutches journey was downhill one short block on an icy sidewalk from a lunch spot to the ecolobus and is still seared into my memory a month later! I literally crawled onto the bus once I’d made it to the door. Being temporarily crippled means temporarily sacrificing a great deal of your dignity.

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My sister, the able-bodied jerk.

To be honest, the holiday was probably about as challenging as I’d expected it to be, so at least it wasn’t any worse?

And there were so many wonderful things about it, they far outweighed the negatives.

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Somewhere between Québec City and Montréal.

Continue reading »

Memmy White Cripsmas!

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Hello from snowy Quebec! Wait, WHAT? This holiday has actually been in the works for three years or so, when my family decided we wanted to experience a proper White Christmas for once. We settled on Quebec City so we could also squeeze in some time in New York for NYE and my 30th birthday in the early new year. All our tickets were booked back in July; trust me to break my ankle five weeks out from the trip.

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Yes, it’s a break—a hairline fracture on my talus (ankle) bone and an avulsion fracture (chips of bone) off my fibula, where the ligament tore. Yes, I’ve just travelled for forty hours in a full cast, on crutches. No, it was not fun, and no, I didn’t even get any sweet upgrades because all our big flights were packed full for Christmas. Yikes.

I followed the normal precautions for long haul flights: my fibreglass cast was bivalved (/split by the awesome cast technician at RHH Wellington Clinics and then held together with Velcro) and I began daily blood-thinner injections a couple of days before flying. Unfortunately the packed planes meant there were literally no opportunities to elevate my ankle at all. My leg was mega swollen after the longest flight (13.5hrs from Shanghai to New York) and stayed that way until I finally got some decent sleep (almost 12hrs) in my Quebec bed—it was a big relief to wake up and find it normal again today. There’s a higher risk of DVT for leg injuries so I was pretty panicked last night, but everything feels a-ok today.

The travel itself was exhausting, broken leg or not. My poor sister got lumped with being my packhorse through the airports (four: Sydney International, Shanghai Pu Dong, New York JFK and Quebec Jean-Lesage). We travelled for forty hours and through three time zones. Which way is up? Neither of us are very good at transit sleeping and gathered only 7-8 hours of sleep each in bits and pieces over the duration of the trip, some on flights and some on airport benches.

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There are pros and cons to travelling with a leg cast. The cons generally outweigh the pros, but I’m a big fan of getting whisked through security gates and customs. On the flipside, I’ve been fairly thoroughly patted down four or five times in the last few days (each time by a female security officer at an airport, just to clarify). I haven’t really gotten to browse around at airport shops because once I’m delivered by wheelchair to a waiting area or gate, the wheelchair is whisked away until it’s time to move on, so I’m back to my crutches. I’ve gotten better at them in the last five weeks but they are still exhausting and I can’t go more than a couple of hundred metres without needing a few minutes of recovery time. My sister not only carried my crutches and coat when they weren’t in action but also fetched me food and drinks, and scouted for nearby bathrooms (also a con for some waiting areas I was left at… good job, airport staff). But we survived.

My favourite moment of the trip (apart from my sister bemoaning a little French boy’s ability to speak fluent French when she couldn’t, and the “aviation radish” on our PVG>JFK flight) was our final flight.

“I want to stay awake until we take off, just in case we can see the lights of Manhattan,” said Katie. I agreed.
We both promptly nodded off while the plane was taxiing to the runway.

It was ok though, because we snapped awake just before take-off. We saw…some lights? Maybe Manhattan? Probably not, but let’s say they were. Right after that we fell back asleep, and woke up moments before the “ladies and gentlemen, in preparation for landing:” announcement. Though it felt like only moments after we’d nodded off, it was actually an hour and a half, at least. Perfection.

Now we’re settled in our first accommodation in our Quebec (mum and stepdad arrived a couple of days earlier), it’s time for the real fun to begin! … Except that there’s currently an ice storm raging outside. Hahaha. Oh, dear. An extra full day of resting my leg and shaking off any jetlag is probably for the best, though. We’ve been hanging out in our PJs in our lovely apartment, eating fresh pastries and drinking tea, listening to Christmas tunes and painting Christmas nails, all while watching gusts of white whipping around in all directions outside. Pretty magical.

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