It was early November and I had just emerged from five immersive days off the grid somewhere in a tiny, industrial town in the Guangdong Province province of China, overseeing the manufacturing of my 2017 planners. With my beautifully supportive Mum in tow, helping me oversee the entire, complex process, we were welcomed to stay for two nights at the Island Shangri-La before making our way back to Australia. We stepped inside the marble oasis of the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong lobby, and the overwhelm and chaos of the past week promptly fell away.
Many years ago, I moved to France without speaking a word of French. I could, as my good friend summarised it at the time, speak perfect “boulangerie” ( – that is, fluently order my pastries, and not much else.) When Jacobs Creek invited me to mix things up and embrace summer, the rosé way, I was obviously more than up for the challenge…
Beyond croissants, I love my morning coffee as much as the next person. But, you know, I thought about the saying that goes something like “coffee keeps me going until it’s time for wine” – and then I realised, what ‘time’ is that referring to precisely… and why wait at all anyway? Jacobs Creek have recently launched Le Petit Rosé. This rosé is French in style, but made in Australia. The beauty is that rosé, unlike any other wine, lets you have a little bit of fun! Whether that’s making frosé, making rosé cocktails, have it for brunch… or just drink it in coffee cups, as I decided to!
In celebration of the first week of Australia’s summer, and honouring The Rosé Way, I switched up the typically evening soirée for a mid-morning time slot, and hosted a brunch spread. Cue smelly french cheese from the market, croissants and a palette of fruits, some pretty flowers, and the star of the show… Le Petit Rosé, of course!
When I lived in London, a few years ago, I first called home the unassuming borough of Hayes in Zone 5 (technically Kent, not actually London). Every single weekday, I would make the hectic commute from my sleepy street into the heartbeat of the city, by an overground train bound for London Bridge. I would step off the train, pause momentarily and gaze up at The Shard – Western Europe’s tallest building – towering three hundred metres above me, in awe. Then, I would throw myself back into the thick of rush hour madness.
In 2014, I specifically remember hearing that Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group Shangri-La had opened inside the building. It was something about the idea of floor to ceiling glass, so very high up that caught my attention. I vividly imagined the views from up there in the clouds, back to earth… the meandering bends of the River Thames; of seeing Tower Bridge from birds eye; of the tiny humans who might stand still and look up in wonder, like I did everyday.
Ever since, staying with Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard London, has been high up and steadfast on my ‘one day’ hotel bucket list.
Sometimes the world works in beautifully mysterious ways, and fast forward on a few years, this past September I found myself back in London and for us to be welcomed by Shangri-La as guests on our final night in London. Needless to say, our night beautifully surpassed every hope and expectation.
For our second week in the UK, having carved out a handful of days between trade shows and work requirements, Charles and I hopped in a hire car and drove two hours to wander in the English Countryside. “No where in particular” was on our itinerary – and what a lovely destination that sounded, indeed. It was time to breathe in some summer air and get lost on purpose.
We happened to stumble on what we later realised is considered to be one of the most picture-perfect towns in all of storybook England – Castle Combe. It was a weekday afternoon in between rain showers, and the streets were deserted, luckily for us…
In all of my past years of world wandering and the wonderful (sometimes strange) realm that is travel blogging, I never imagined typing the words ‘penthouse’ and ‘checking in’ within the same sentence. Well, what do you know? It happened. And the entire experience at Hilton Bankside – on my first night, back in London, no less – could not possibly have been more magic. Oh, London, the city that will always bring me back to the fold…
As the tube catapulted into the heartbeat of London, my heartbeat quickened in pace, too. Everything about this city feels vivid. We (read: mostly Charles) hauled our many trade-show laden suitcases up the staircases from Southwark underground station, and we reached the street level above, breathless and alive. London was just as I remembered it – recent, almost freeze-framed in time… just so beautifully familiar. I was never quite able to call London my home, but regardless of visa laws, in some small way, it always, perhaps defiantly, will feel like returning home by heart.
The Bankside Precinct is busy, and purposeful. There is a juxtaposition of old and new: a backdrop of old, important buildings whispering untold stories; cobbled uneven streets, archways and alleyways that speak of quintessential London. The Tate Modern is off to the left, The London Shard is off to the right, and the Hilton Bankside is nestled right in the middle of the magic.
It was July, and after leaving behind behind a frozen-over Melbourne, we descended on Manhattan in the blistering heat of their summer. This was my third time in New York City. It’s strange how a huge, anonymous, forever shapeshifting city can hold indelible memories of such significance. My previous two visits had both been cornerstones in my becoming – with certain headspaces and pivot-point life decisions I can almost attach to certain streets, or intersections, or city precincts…
The first time, I was twenty one, on a ‘round the world ticket, solo. The world was new and unknown and I craved to get lost in ‘postcard’ New York. I ticked off the clichéd must-do’s – soaring up the Empire State, a cream cheese bagel outside Tiffany & Co on Fifth Avenue, and pretending I was Carrie, wandering the backstreets of Greenwich Village. Five years on – my second visit – I flew in from London, palpably vulnerable. Raw with heartbreak from a failed relationship, for that visit, New York felt… nourishing. I wandered the city with a best friend from home, and we spent those days together sprawled out on the grass in Central Park, hopping between thrice daily breakfasts and generally eating and drinking our way through the surface area of the city. New York brought back a sparkle – it was like the city reconstituted me.
Fast forward another two years, and this visit had greater purpose – New York wasn’t to widen my eyes or to enable healing – this visit one was all in the business of dream chasing. My love, Charles, had been offered a place in the prestigious Accent on Designsection of NYNow trade fair. I wanted to be by his side, and scope the show for the ‘one day’ when I might be ready to tackle it, myself.
You know that feeling, where you have so much to say that you don’t even know where to start? The past three months have been so hectic that just thinking back and remembering what has happened makes my head somersault. My energy has been flung in so many different directions and to put it simply, these months have just required all of me. They’ve been equally unforgiving and inspiring, and steep, in terms of learning and becoming.
I shifted base from Adelaide, over to Melbourne to be with my love. I designed – and launched a new collection. There were design markets, a Melbourne trade show, a London trade show, a week in New York helping out at a trade show. There was family, and health, and times when nothing else mattered more than being all there. There were photo shoots, and videos filmed, and a certain campaign dreamed up, actioned and pulled together (- and it launches this week!)
I’ve felt constantly out of my depths and at times, utterly petrified about how fast life is moving, how fast business is growing, and how everything I do now seems to need to be more measured, accountable and prioritised, less spontaneous and free. And I’ve felt grateful, to be feeling all of these feelings and in this position of stretching, expanding, of course.
And, now that all of the hardcore figuring out and preparatory phases has been moved through, I’m experiencing a beautiful feeling of coming back to myself – settling the frenetic energy down a notch, making more considered, confident decisions, allowing myself a moment or two to simply digest and feel into the excitement and anticipation all. And here, as I sit tapping away on keys late into Sunday night in the calm of my studio, I feel hundreds of words circling, floating around in my head, tweaking and tightening into sentences, forming stories that I know will pour out as they will, before long.
I know Adelaide inside out. I was born here, I grew up here, I moved away, and after years of working and wandering, living and loving, I returned.
It’s always been dubbed the “20 minute city”; hop in your car from the city centre and drive for twenty minutes to find yourself at the pristine, rugged coastline. Drive for twenty minutes in the other direction, and you’ll find yourself among rolling, vineyard lined hills. Everything feels close, and not just in geographical proximity. It’s a city where community is close knit, and support of local is next level.
Some places are mirrors – you can return somewhere that remains unchanged, to take note of your changed reflection, distilling and observing vividly how you have changed yourself. On returning after a few years away, Adelaide completely surprised me – the city is abuzz right now, and change is afoot. As I discovered, Adelaide’s done a lot of growing up lately, too.
The idea of being a tourist in my own town has always charmed me, but ‘far’ has always tugged at my wanderlust more than ‘near,’ so I had never properly made the time. Until last weekend, that is.
Art Series Hotel Group invited my lovely friend Rachel and I to experience the newly launched Gather & Indulge package – a collaboration between Art Series Hotel’s [The Watson] and The Lane Vineyard. On the cards? 48 hours playing tourist in my own town, with a bottle of wine on arrival, Smart Car hire, a tour of The Lane Vineyard, wine tasting paired with canapés, sleeping over in a Deluxe Studio Suite, and a late checkout of 1pm for departure.
We jumped at the invitation, naturally! And gather and indulge… we certainly did. Here’s how it all went down.