I’ve gone green.


It’s been almost 18 months since my last post but we’re just going to gloss over that because I still haven’t disabled my monthly reminder that says “Tasmemia blog post (no really DO ONE)” so that means I’m still here and I’m still invested. This post has also been heartily encouraged by Kamal, who I first thought was spam, but is just a really lovely Egyptian dude who enjoys reading my rambling. Hi Kamal!

So here’s where I’m at right now: entirely surrounded by indoor plants. I’m kind of annoyed that my subconscious seems to grab onto trends, because indoor plants are very hot right now. I tried to get an article to link here to back me up but googling “indoor plants are cool in 2018” only brings up articles about which indoor plants are predicted to be cool this year (hot tip: monstera deliciosa and devils ivy). I might even be a couple of years behind things, but I’ll have you know I’ve had my peace lily for almost three years so whatever. It’s still alive. Kind of. No, it is, but it’s just not super healthy looking. It’s fine. It’s alive.

Peace lily joined by plectranthus and golden umbrella (and my #1 girl).

I did add a couple of other plants to the peace lily’s posse before the madness really kicked in—a curly-leafed spider plant and a ruby ficus both made their way into my house (the ficus was a pity rescue from Coles and I can’t even remember where the spider plant came from!) some time in the last year or two… but it was really when I started dating my horticulture-studying boyfriend that I gave myself a green light to buy more green babies. I let him know very intentionally that it was his job to keep them alive, but he’s reassured me many times over the months that it’s been all me.

Once the enabler light was on, I’m not ashamed to admit that I got a little bit insatiable. The obsession reached a peak and then settled—once my house was essentially full of plants and I actually had to give a bit of thought as to where any new acquisitions would live. There will likely always be a bit of reshuffling, but because plants are living, breathing things, sometimes one is going to die, and that’s ok.

An indoor plant costs the same amount—or a fair deal less!—than a bouquet of flowers, and a bouquet is expected to die.

(I read that analogy somewhere a couple of months ago and it made me feel a lot less anxious about the care of my green babies.)

I still have a wishlist of plants, but during the height of my acquisition obsession I managed to tick a lot of items off the list—some easily, some with a bit of surprise and delight, some with a little extra effort. The plants that are still on my list I don’t expect to get my hands on quickly, cheaply, or any time soon. Being over the peak of the obsession now, I’m ok with that. I’m happy with my surroundings.

I guess it’s a little bit silly of me to have fostered this interest just in time for the colder, more dormant months of the year instead of the exciting growing time of spring and summer. But it does mean that every new leaf is absolutely doted upon and noticed with full enthusiasm!

Indoor plants have such a wide range of needs, and having a house full of them now means that I’ve had a crash course on some of those needs. Finding the right amount of sunlight and the right amount of watering (and the right size pot, and the right potting mix, and and and) can be a tricky dance, and a new leaf is a sign that you’re doing a good job. A new leaf, particularly in a dormant time of year, means that my plant is happy and healthy. A new leaf is basically the plant giving a thumbs up.

As well as shuffling plants around to find the right space for them, we’re also having to do a bit of shuffling around just recently now there are some foster cats in the house.

We discovered after the first night that they seem to enjoy the taste of my boyfriend’s hen and chicken fern (thankfully one that isn’t toxic to cats, it’s like they knew). They’re also very keen to stare out of windows, which means the cat tower I had delegated to plant stand duties had to be recommissioned for its original purpose, and a few plants had to take a few steps away from windows (and some others had to be repotted and potting mix vacuumed up from the carpet after a particularly obnoxious couple of occasions).

My current battle is fungus gnats, and by battle, I mean they’ve infiltrated a number of my plants and I haven’t done anything to combat them yet apart from squishing a few. I’m looking forward to dedicating some quality time to destroying them. The gnats. Not the precious plants they want to live with. Get away from my plants, you stinkers! I’ve got some work to do and some self-watering trays to empty out.

Ok, I think this was a good welcome back post. I’ve got a much harder one to write next. Gonna go surround myself with plants while I write it.

2016: not so bad, personally.

This is starting to feel like a broken record sort of saying, but perhaps it’s just that every year gets a little bit worse in general but is good on a personal level?

I don’t know, last year I had to preface my 2015 summary with “sorry it sucked for you but it ruled for me”, and 2016 is being widely acknowledged as an awful year overall, but mine was ok. It wasn’t quite as stellar as 2015 because everything that was shiny and new in 2015 was status quo in 2016, and having said that I can’t complain. I could try, but I don’t really need to.

When I first contemplated writing a summary post, I didn’t think there was much that I could say about the year. It didn’t feel very eventful—it was good overall, but there wasn’t much that really happened, right? Flicking through social media I was quickly reminded that a great deal did in fact happen in 2016, but most of it was in the first half of the year. Still counts, brain! Here are the things I came up with pretty quickly:

  • my only brother got married (first one in our family)
  • I got a fairly epic tattoo started on my arm (three sessions down in 2016)
  • did a crazy overnight trip to Brisbane to surprise my BFF
  • tripped to Sydney once said BFF had moved there, for visits and VIVID Festival
  • MCed two weddings (said brother’s wedding and also one in Brisbane for two of my favourite people in the world)
  • best weekend ever in Hobart with said BFF, involving marmosets and meerkats
  • met one of the platonic loves of my life (arguably met more than one)

All of those things were excellent and shouldn’t be discounted, so they each get another moment in the sun here.

Apart from that, 2016 was a year of coasting, for me. I didn’t do much growing as a person. That’s fine, right? I’m in my thirties now and I’ve got a fairly good idea of who I am. I’ve achieved almost everything on my List. I should be happy and content—and for the most part I am, but I just feel like 2017 needs to be a year in which I achieve something big. Something huge. Something cajunga. So that’s my resolution.

2017, I’m coming for you.

Four down.

I don’t know why I feel like it’s so hard to write this blog when I love writing, am good at writing, and wish I was writing more. Maybe I’m better on twitter these days, where it’s easy to throw down one hundred and forty mindless characters in one go and walk away. I have no attention span any more. Smartphones stole it away while I wasn’t… paying attention.

Hobart continues to be great. My fourth year passed by without much pomp or ceremony, but many a good time. I did plenty of hard work at those two beloved jobs I scored myself last year, I did plenty of interstate travel (I visited Sydney once, Perth once, Brisbane twice, and Melbourne three times, but it’s not a competition), I tried my hardest to balance being social and working hard. I think I did ok. I think I did better than I had been, anyway. I’m still trying.

For my fourth Tasmemianniversary a couple of weeks ago, I drove back up to Table Cape’s tulip farm. I hadn’t been there since my first anniversary, despite thinking about it every year. My mum’s currently travelling around the island and just happened to be up near Devonport that week so it seemed like fate for me to grab her and for us to travel up along the north west coast to the flowers (she hadn’t seen them before). Mum dressed as a tulip farm for the day; I didn’t get the memo.

She’s the cutest.

I stayed the night at my friends’ place in Devonport and facetimed my hetero lifemate for the first time in too many weeks. The next morning my host and I ate scones the size of fists at the Rectory Cafe (note to self: you can’t fit both the croissant and the scone in, don’t embarrass yourself next time), then I went and found my mum and the Tasmanian contingent of my step-family loitering in Narawntapu National Park. We collected the smoothest rocks on the beach and discussed the intricacies of Pokemon Go! (I know how to work the little people) before I hit the road back down to Hobart again.

I don’t cope well driving past sights like this.

Still in love, still in awe, still inspired. Keep it up, Tasmania.

Love letter to Maria.

I mentioned in my last post that thanks to my sister visiting, I’ve recently gotten to see some parts of Tasmania that hadn’t yet been ticked off my to-do list. Maria Island was one of those on our itinerary, and I’m glad we left it for last because it was spectacular and I didn’t stop singing its praises for at least a fortnight after our trip. If someone even vaguely mentions short walks or day trips, I get started again. This post will no doubt send me on another spiral. It’s for good reason!

Maria (pronounced like Ms Carey, not Mrs Von Trapp, and yes I know it doesn’t have an H on the end but trust me, just get into the habit, blame the British) Island, despite being a little island off the east coast of a little island, actually has a fairly detailed white history. Two convict settlement eras, an Italian entrepreneur’s silk and wine productions and a cement factory, even a couple of hotels in the 1800s and early 1900s before the great depression ended that enterprise and the island became mostly farming land until the 1960s.

In the early 1970s, Maria Island, the entire island, became a national park. Ghosts of Maria’s history lurk all over the island, mostly in building form, with those buildings in various stages of ruin and repair. Exploring the island is a heady mix of crawling over ruins (ok, don’t literally crawl over them, respect the past mate) and traversing the natural beauty. You’ve got beaches, bush, cliffs, meadows, rivulets, and wildlife to encounter on foot or by bike (BYO or hire one). You can day trip it or camp overnight, either in tents or in the old Penitentiary building.

The Assistant Superintendent’s Quarters at Darlington.

My sister and I did a day trip, heading over on the ferry at 9am and returning at 4:30pm. Our backpacks were packed with lunch and full water bottles, and our walking shoes were on our feet. Ready. To. Go. I would heartily recommend anyone heading on a day trip hit the two short walks that Katie and I did, first to the Painted Cliffs (via the Oast House) and then back through Darlington to the Fossil Cliffs. Both of these walks are part of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks, and they’ve made me want to tick more off the list…

Spot the wombat!

Time your visit to the Painted Cliffs for low tide, as even then there’s a bit of scrabbling over the rocks to get to the other side. But it’s worth it. Just look at them.

Take me back.

We had a little sit down at Hopground Beach after cliff-crawling and had some lunch, then stopped in at Darlington for a gander at the Coffee Palace before hitting the trail for the Fossil Cliffs.

*praise hands*

Despite heading over on a full-to-the-brim ferry and visiting in the middle of the summer holidays, our day at Maria Island didn’t feel overwhelmed by other people at all. The busiest spots were the Penitentiary at Darlington (bustling with campers) and the Painted Cliffs, because we were all there for the low tide that morning. Apart from that we crossed paths with a few other pairs of walkers on our journeys, either walking in the opposite direction, or passing us when we stopped to take in the view or sit and eat (or both at the same time).

Fossil Cliffs.

We rounded the bend from the airstrip back to the Commissariat Store with maybe forty-five minutes before the ferry was due, so it seemed only right that we should take our shoes off and play on the beach until then.

Commissariat Store. Beach is opposite.

We did not encounter much wildlife (Katie was slightly brokenhearted over seeing only one very shy wombat all day) but dawn and dusk are the best times of day for those sightings, as well as the Reservoir Circuit, which was the other short walk we didn’t get time for on our trip. It will definitely be at the top of my to-do list for my next visit, and I’m even thinking of overnighting in the Penitentiary… but we’ll see about that. Maybe a bit creepy, and I’m certainly no camper.

In any case, I fell a bit in love with Maria Island on our visit, and I’m surprised more people don’t talk about visiting. I think a lot of locals went to Maria on a school camp when they were younger and so it’s got that precedent for them, but honestly, I enjoyed our day there a lot more than the peak season visit a week before to Freycinet’s Wineglass Bay lookout. I’m still very glad that I did both, but Maria Island wins for me, hands down.

A+ dumdums.

2015 in summary: the best.

Every year for the past few years now I’ve watched the end of the year roll around and everyone bemoan it as the worst year ever. I’ve joined in a couple of times, but my life has always been more swings and roundabouts. The last couple of years in particular have been strongly to that theme (2012 hit a crazy high peak when I partied my way out of Brisbane and moved to Hobart, the following couple of years were mixed with good pals and fun times vs broken ankles and call centres) but this year? This year’s come up trumps for me.

I had no idea what this year had in store for me as I came around the bend. I mean, I knew some things. Every year starts with the alcoholic celebration of Ginuary, so I can always confidently lock that away (it makes for a very busy January for me, actually) but 2015 started with friends and fireworks, flings and fancy foods. And then it got even better.

One of the things on my to-do list when I moved to Tasmania was to find a job I was passionate about and excited to do. I did struggle, when I first got here. It remained the only thing I hadn’t been able to tick off in my first two years here—it turns out that in Hobart, who you know will often get you places, and I moved here not knowing anybody. But then in January of this year, a little boutique budget hotel I’d been making heart eyes over since it opened advertised for a new staff member. I had style. I had flair. I was there. That’s how I became a member of Team Alabama. (But really, I submitted a cover letter intended to charm the socks off the manager and then I had an interview with her and then I was there.) February was chaotic as I saw out my notice at the call centre and started training at the Alabama in time to be flying solo behind the counter in March.

My favourite seat.

The view from reception.

I dropped back from full-time call centre work to my permanent part-time role at the Alabama quite happily, as it coincided with my friend Liv moving in for a few months. Seriously, the stars aligned and said, “Mem, you can survive switching from FT to PT for a couple of months because someone else is going to pay half the rent and utilities you’ve been paying on your own!” Honestly, without Liv moving in, I wouldn’t have felt confident doing that. And without Helen and my mum and a few other friends who demanded that I go for it, I wouldn’t have felt confident even applying for the job. Bless my invaluable support network.

After a couple of golden months of part time work and part time chill, I knew I wasn’t quite going to survive the rest of the time, and Liv wasn’t staying permanently, so the goal of obtaining a second job that I’d also enjoy was quickly becoming a priority (and a challenge). I applied for a few things here and there. I went to a couple of interviews where my heart clearly wasn’t in it and it showed. I’ve never been good at interviewing. But then MONA advertised roles for Dark Mofo, my favourite festival. I told Kel, my boss at the Alabama (and very quickly one of my new favourite people) that she should hopefully expect to have a reference check or two coming her way. She worked her special brand of magic, I interviewed for a Dark Mofo front of house role, and got not only that but the offer of some potential hours in MONA’s front of house team ongoing (and the potential quickly became actual).

Honestly, 2015—you’ve been infused with some kind of juju that I can’t just put down to timing, or luck, or effort.

Working Dark Mofo was a real treat. I fell hard for the festival the first year it was on, so hard that a group of friends from Brisbane came down to enjoy the second year of the festival with me. They came down this year as well (much to my absolute delight) but balancing working at the festival with spending time with pals meant that I was pretty exhausted. That’s actually been the biggest challenge of the second half of the year for me—balancing my work life, my social life and downtime has been a struggle that I think I’m only just now getting the hang of, and allocating enough time for friends and family who visit from interstate is probably my biggest challenge. I keep forgetting how crucial that time with those folks is, and then I feel awful about not spending as much time with them as I possibly can. To Jordan, the feast team, mama, the Perringtons and Fatboy: I’m sorry. I love you. I’ll do better. Welcome to the new years resolution I literally just worked out as I was typing!

Feast Team 2015.

Feast Team 2015.

Back to Dark Mofo. The festival was full of running around, stuffing our faces with winter feast food, resetting a hundred mice numerous times only to watch them explode all over the stage to a rapt and awed audience response (and establishing working relationships with my first MONA staff pals through the mice), playing in light beams and holding precious Piccinini babies. Once the festival was over, I stayed in the front of house team, working casually and fitting my availability around my regular Alabama shifts. For a couple of months after Dark Mofo, I kept working at Detached’s The Shadows Calling exhibition featuring Patricia Piccinini and Peter Hennessey works, growing more attached to the weird furry baby (officially known as the Offering) and the other staff working at the exhibition. Most of us started with Dark Mofo so we had our own little Detached crew, nice to have when you start working in a team of over a hundred people!

MY BABY / The Offering, part of The Shadows Calling.

MY BABY / The Offering, part of The Shadows Calling.

I’ve gotten to know a lot of my MONA teammates over the last six months and so my circle of friends in Hobart (and my Facebook friends list) is steadily expanding. Being an extrovert, this is such a good thing for me, and has certainly added to 2015’s list of many, many positives! From regular pizza dates (holla Local Pizza you my soul pizza) to gallery openings (plug for Visual Bulk) to staff parties (let’s not talk about that one) to serving MONA coworkers drinks at the Alabama, I’m feeling nothing but good vibes.

I had a couple of enforced breaks during the year, the first to Melbourne in April (driven by tickets to see Noel Fielding, enhanced by catching up with mobs of pals, getting my nails did all fancy at Blonde Tiger, eating amazing foods at places like the Town Mouse and Bomba (just to name a couple), and riding trams). In August, I booked a lil solo holiday up at Cradle Mountain, which happened to fall the day after a huge amount of snow did. The break was perfectly timed, as I’d been working myself a little too hard prior to it. I finally ticked the Dove Lake circuit off my to-do list (distressingly beautiful in the snow), and I finally got to properly walk in some big ol’ fresh snow (after missing out on that experience while in Quebec for Christmas 2013 with a broken ankle). White winter holiday of my heart!

May have cried driving through this.

May have cried driving through this.

I did some other fun things this year, too. I went to Panama festival with Helen and Kelsey. I spoke on stage, accompanied by other wonderful people telling their own amazing stories, in front of a bunch of people at the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival, and my story was broadcast on the radio. I was on the radio a bunch, actually—I’ve learnt that this is just part and parcel of having friends who are radio presenters, but still fun. On the radio I’ve talked about Ginuary, my broken ankle, helping my friend make a music video in beautiful Tassie. I’ve enjoyed Tassie. One night in the middle of winter I went and played in the sea sparkles down at South Arm with Holly, and I won’t forget that hour of giggling any time soon.

My year’s ended exceptionally, too. My sister came down from Sydney to spend her holidays with me (despite me working through most of them, see a couple of paragraphs up for my apology) and thanks to her to-do list I’ve done a couple of things myself in Tasmania I hadn’t yet done. I guess this included hosting my first orphan Christmas (I sent a text message to my mum saying WHY DID YOU NEVER TELL US HOW MUCH CHRISTMAS FOOD COSTS but it was worth it for fond memories, happy faces and leftovers). On the Sunday after Christmas, I drove my sister and I up the east coast to Freycinet National Park, where we did the hike up the mountain/stairs to Wineglass Bay’s lookout. I wouldn’t actually recommend doing this trip in one day, it’s a lot of driving… we were knackered but we survived! Just yesterday we started the day with some zebra feeding at ZooDoo, another place I hadn’t been before. The day prior to that I missed out on what appeared to be an absolutely brilliant day of adventuring around the Tasman Peninsula and swimming with seals, but I didn’t put my hand up for it (I regret this!) and so my sister went on a day I was working. See again my new years resolution for 2016, but at the same time, I gotta earn da moneys in order to do da things…

Tonight, as per Hobart tradition, we are headed up to the Eyrie for drinking, board games and a stellar view of the fireworks. I’ll be surrounded by some of my favourite people, reflecting on the year that was and smiling the whole time. To everyone who has helped this year be my best year ever—whether you know it or not! If we spent time together this year, you absolutely did—thank you. See you real soon, or a little later, but definitely sometime.

Peace out, 2015. You’ll be a very hard one to beat. <3

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.

I did it all for the BBQ.

Any excuse to take a couple of days off and head up to the north west corner of Tasmania is a good excuse, as far as I’m concerned, and when my friend in Burnie offered up her little Weber BBQ to the first taker, I put my hand up. Excuse given, I roped in my partner in crime and we hit the road… first stop being the Texas Pantry in Moonah, maybe fifteen minutes down the road, because sustenance was required for our big day.


Sustenance and sandwiches. (Reuben not bad, but I prefer Montreal style aka TOO MUCH MEAT.)

The next detour was for beautiful Ross (no, not a dude, not a beautiful dude but a beautiful little town) to visit the bakery. We’d recently seen this article from the local paper that claimed Ross Village Bakery was the inspiration for a Miyazaki film, so we had to go and see with our own eyes.

But first, look at Ross.

But first, look at Ross.

I’m not inclined to believe it was the inspiration, and even the resemblance is a little fuzzy, but sure. Whatever gets you excited. I’m all for excitement about things, and if the wooden-walled bakery in Ross is going to draw tourists out there and they’re going to be excited and stay excited and spend their tourist dollars, then that’s wonderful for all involved. I was a little more cynical about the bakery, but what I wasn’t cynical about was Ross in autumn.

Look at it.

Look at it.

From Ross we were going to make a beeline for Burnie, but as we were turning off for the north west, I spotted something with my eagle eye. Something else I’d recently read about. The new Tasmanian Food & Wine Conservatory! Who knew Sassafras was so close to the north west? Not me. Probably lots of other people, but not me.

Revoltingly picturesque.

Revoltingly picturesque.

We were close to closing time, but the lovely ladies were still happy to make us coffees (and sell me my beloved Henrys ginger beer, still only available up north at this time) before we carried on our merry way to Burnie and the BBQ.

Our delightful friend Jenny was willing to host us at her place, despite us only knowing each other On The Internet until we pulled up in her driveway. Such is the joy of online friendships these days! Who am I kidding, I’ve been showing up at online friends’ doors for ten years or so now, and I will frown at anyone who says online friendships don’t count as real friendships.

Moving on.

Jenny and her partner Jeremy took us down to a classy establishment on the Burnie waterfront to drink cocktails with little fluoro animals perched on the rims, and then we all went wandering to try to spy the penguins that live under the boardwalk. Based on our utter lack of success this evening, to this day I refuse to believe that these penguins exist, possibly even doubting that any penguins exist anywhere in the wild. I’ve been lied to and I won’t stand for it. I did, however, get a fun shadow shot of the four of us, right around the moment we gave up hope.

Four people, zero penguins.

Four people, zero penguins.

I did at least get treated to a cat on the trip. Travel cats are very important to me, as a person very fond of cats (we’re not saying crazy cat lady, it’s not necessary). This one wasn’t overly friendly but did have the benefit of a white C mark on her black face. No, her name was not Ceefa. She didn’t particularly want to snuggle but she was still a cat, and that was good enough.

Sunny girl.

Sunny girl.

So we drank our drinks in Burnie, we had our sleepover, we DID remember to load the weber BBQ into the car and then we bundled back in to start the journey back home again. Now, I can’t do a journey without stopping at a few places on the to-do list, and for us that morning Ulverstone was the place to be, so I could finally eat at Thirty Three Cups.

It helped that Jenny couldn’t hold back from raving about their smoked chicken and corn fritters dish.

Three fritters, please.

Three fritters, please.

Correct. She raved so much that nobody wanted to be left out. And that was despite everything else on the menu looking super appealing, too! The specials board almost tempted me away but in the end, I had to be a part of it. And hot DIGGITY, nobody was even mildly disappointed! In fact, I’m going to be very hard pressed to order anything but the fritters on future visits—and oh yes, there will be future visits. Thirty Three Cups is now a must-visit.

We also traipsed through a few stores full of homewares and knick-knacks, jewellery and antiques, and my biggest regret is that I didn’t purchase this.

Totes grouse.

Totes grouse.

Never mind. Maybe it’ll be there waiting for me on my return…

And thus our spontaneous BBQ adventure did endeth, travelling back down the highway to Hobart, marvelling at the beautiful autumnal scenes and trying to remember to stay focused on the road enough to not crash and die so that one day soon we can do it all again.

Eyes on the road, please.

Eyes on the road, please.

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.


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.


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 »