Monday, March 21, 2011

Melbourne - Langham Hotel

We're in Melbourne for our friend Louise's wedding.
We're staying at the Langham Hotel famed for its discreet service and luxurious rooms. I've scored a discounted media room rate so I can share my experiences with Saucy readers.

The Langham is smack bang in the middle of Melbourne's vibrant arts and dining precinct on the Southbank Promenade on the Yarra River.

It has a 5 star rating with room rates starting at around $295.

We're staying in a spacious Club River Room King which comes with complimentary internet and access to the Langham Club on Level 24.

Our room has views stretching over the Yarra, Federation Square and the city centre

The king bed has very comfortable pillows (I've been known to travel overseas with my own pillow so a good one is essential! ) The featherey quilt is soft and enveloping.

Hotel carpets are usually non descript and not worth commenting about but I love this fun, organic, feminine print.

The bathrooms are a real winner - sold marble, spacious with a deep bath, large shower and wide vanity counter.
There's also an impressive spa complex in the hotel on Level 9 - the Chuan Spa - if you need additional pampering.

The Langham takes its dining venues seriously - there's the fine dining Melba Restaurant, and the ARIA bar and lounge which serves light meals including the signature afternoon tea or Langham Tiffin.

For club members the Langham Hotel Club offers complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

 Breakfasts trully cater for everyone..... fresh fruit, yoghurts and cereals...

cold meats and cheeses....

honey straight from the comb...

and of course a hot selection including roast tomatoes and mushrooms.

smokey bacon rashers and pork chipolatas

... it hits the spot

So if you want a little luxury during a weekend getaway, the Langham is certainly an ideal base to explore Melbourne from.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Edible Balcony - Ms Butterfly drops in

It's a hot Sydney afternoon as I sit at my desk looking out onto my balcony and across to the hazy parklands of The Domain.

Like most people around the world I am streaming the latest news on the containment of the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima reactors in Japan.
It's all too frightening to comprehend.
This morning a psychologist was on the radio warning of the dangers of post traumatic stress disorders among those following the tragedy.
He said after the Queensland floods, Cyclone Yasi, the Christchurch earthquake and now the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan, most of us simply don't have the coping mechanisms to process the 24-hour images we're being bombarded with.

And then.... like a sign from above... a beautiful butterfly flutters into sight!

This is the first time I've ever seen a butterfly like this on my 13th floor balcony garden.

It's easily the size of the palm of my hand ... velvety black and white with vivid red and blue spots.
She seems to like the Dwarf Meyer lemon tree.
I'm immediately bouyed by her playful presence and pretty markings. 

Can anyone identify my little friend?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Edible Balcony - autumn update

Well, a rare appearance from moi surrounded by my herbs and vegies. I'm thrilled by my late season crop of tomatoes - cherry in the foreground and grape and sweet bite against the back wall. All sweet and delicious and no whitefly problems. Will definitely be growing these varieties next year.The butter lettuce has been thriving. No bug attack yet. At my feet is the candy-striped beetroot that should be ready to harvest from next week. Behind me are the dwarf lemon tree, the rhubarb, herbs, silverbeet, and the cavolo nero (tuscan cabbage) on the vertical wall.
Time to start thinking about what to put in for winter.
Maybe some carrots where the tomatoes are now and some asian greens when the lettuces are finished?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Newcastle - Hot Destination

We were in Newcastle on the weekend to see Roxy Music. The concert was brilliant perfection.

You may have read - with some surprise - that Newcastle was recently voted by Lonely Planet as one of 2011's top ten hottest cities in the world.
I've been visiting Newcastle a bit during the last decade so that didn't raise my eyebrows but
how did Newcastle manage to get on a list that included New York, Valencia and Delhi?

Well since the BHP steelworks closed here 12 years ago, gone is the choking pollution and brown haze that cloaked many of Newcastle's finest assets.

Eat your heart out Sydney; Newcastle's beaches are a mecca for surfers and sunseekers who are drawn to the dramatic rocky coastlines and wide sandy shores.

My favourite spot are the Ocean Baths on Shortland Esplanade.

They've undergone a magnificent restoration.

There is simply no more magical a place to take a dip than here....

.... especially when the rips and stingers are about at nearby Nobby's Beach!

This is the view from our hotel room at Noah's on the Beach. The hotel is old-fashioned and out of place in a beach environment with its dark pannelled interiors, heavy furniture and brass fittings. But with the beach, crashing waves and the pool at your doorstep we still keep coming back.

Since our last visit the local takeaway fish and chip joint on Scott St has morphed into a fine diner as well. 

 Scotties is well worth a pit stop

From the back door locals can still pickup their takeaway orders..

..all the usual uspects are here including hand-cut chips 

Or dine casually inside or under the umbrellas in the next door park 

 The coffee is top class

For breakfast we had organic poached eggs..

and the full hot brekkie with moreish mushrooms and a tasty hash brown.

 Newcastle is only a two hour drive from Sydney so what are you waiting for? Head out there this weekend!