Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Long Holiday

July 2006 proved to be an eventful month for both A and I. After months of discussion with family and friends and a lot of soul-searching on my part, we took the plunge to move to Melbourne for 6 months - A, to start a secondment with his company's Melbourne office and me, for a long-awaited sabbatical from my crazy long hours as a lawyer and to hit the books (for fun this time though), the shops and cook up a storm. We thought it would be a great way to wind down a hectic year, exploring a new city together and recovering some excitement in life that had been squashed out of us by our intense work schedules for the past couple of years.

My original intention when I first had thoughts last year of taking a sabbatical from work was to do the usual globe-trot, which upon further reflection (that I couldn't fit a decent wardrobe into a 20kg backpack AND lug back any of the exotic food stuff/clothes/artwork etc I was sure to discover) was quickly revised to settling in another country doing something useful. I then had brief visions of being another Jane Goodall, doing field work for enviromental NGOs until quite a few friends remarked that they would never have put me down for any trekking trips to the Amazon. They had a point, of course.

Work then got intensely busy, and not being able to arrive at any firm decision, meant that any plans to take a sabbatical got pushed to the side. I would also have to leave A, as he had just started a new job this year and couldn't possibly ask for 6 months off any time soon. Yet, I thought constantly about taking time out for myself. Fate or coincidence intervened when A told me about a contemplated posting to Melbourne and asked me to consider coming with him and take this to be my sabbatical instead. While Australia is not unfamiliar to both of us, A having grown up in Sydney and me having been in and out of Australia countless times, neither of us had lived in Melbourne for an extended period. So the thought of settling here for 6 months did prove quite exciting. After some initial panic at my end ("What am I going to do with myself for 6 months?!"), soothed by very helpful advice from my gal-pal, G, here we are, in one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Liveable it is for sure! We are fortunate that our (tiny) apartment is situated in very genial surroundings - we are within 5 minutes walk from Chapel Street for all the shopping any girl could desire, Toorak and Domain Road for some of Melbourne's venerable eating institutions and Commercial Road for the local produce at Prahran Market. And just a stone's throw too from the Royal Botanic Gardens, where we've been pounding "the Tan" (Melbournian's affectionate name for the running strip circling the Botanic Gardens) every weekend in a bid to work off all our excessive eating since we got here.
After spending the past few weeks exploring the new surroundings and checking out the local produce stores and food haunts (ok, I confess that I also checked out all the shops too), I finally set aside some time last week to reassess my 'goals' for my time-off. Flipping the pages of my diary, I note that I now have ticks for the following annotations:
  • "study Literature again" - I signed up for a course at the University of Melbourne and am into my 3rd lecture and tutorial.
  • "cook regularly" - ha, this one has many ticks against it, for the new recipes I've tried since I got here, most of which turned out quite well, except for one bad experience with lentils.
  • "begin that long overdue exercise regime" - a 4km walk, 3-4 times a week around the Tan is an "exercise regime" isn't it?
  • "lounging around in my jammies the whole day and doing absolutely nothing" - this one I got it down pat.

But I hadn't made any headway on the bit in my diary that said "record all the fun bits in Melbourne". And then some friends suggested that they would love to know what else I get up to over here and to do it the techie way - bare my thoughts on a blog. Ok...I'm sure this beats repeating myself 10,000 times in emails (and forgetting which friends I've told what!).

Anyway, I do realise that the choice of name for this blog may be a little misleading. Unlike some great food blogs out there I've been following, this one isn't going to be all about cooking, new creations and beautiful food photos (as you can tell from the subject choice in my first post!). Food posts will make its appearance from time to time for sure - Melbourne being such a foodie town, it would be a pity not to share about finding yummy chocolate truffles from Prahran Market's chocolatier, the experience of sating a chilli craving one day with a spicy Indonesian chicken dish or walking 45 minutes from our apartment to find a tiny ramen shop in Richmond. But I'm sure you won't begrudge the other random thoughts posted here too - there are so many other pleasures in life other than food ....

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