3.4.2017 Waverley 

Eventually we got up, made our way to a cafe we had spotted yesterday, full of Sunday brunchers, so we thought we would go on a Monday morning and avoid the crowds. Rubys diner is a lovely place, the menu is full of chia seeds, alternative grains,  sourdough and the like. It also has bulletproof coffee, so Guy had to try one. He loved it, like a high calorie, creamy filter coffee, coffee, butter and coconut oil……

Bulletproof coffee, no low calorie version available!
Guy’s usual, eggs on toast with extra bacon and arvo. Note the arvo is sliced; not smashed or shagged.
Gluten and dairy free banana bread, served with homemade honey ricotta, so not completely dairy free

There was torrential rain outside whilst we were enjoying brunch, which was slightly concerning as we were planning a few miles walk along the eastern beaches. We carried on regardless, we are British and waterproof, and we avoided too much rain.

What a stunning flower shop?

The walk was into Bondi, then along Bronte, Clovelly finally ending up at Coogee beach. It was stunning scenery even without the blue skies.

Bondi before the clouds gathered….
Swimming pool by the beach, just so the sharks don’t bite you. Health and safety gone mad!!!

We sat and watched the surfers enjoy riding the waves. 

Guys cool photos of dudes surfing

Then it was back Ness and Matt’s home for wonderful food, gin and wine!!!

Matt pouring us some of his home brew, it was actually pretty good!!!!

A pint in Matt’s local meant we were embroiled in a pub quiz which we came last, spectacularly. We blame the fact the questions were all Australian based…..Matt kept the ‘winning’ voucher.

2.4.2017 Woy Woy to Waverley

Jules celebrated her 42nd birthday by getting up and making us raisin toast and dropping us off at the station. What a fab person??? Thanks Jules 🤣

We got the train from Woy Woy to Bondi, via Central then the bus to Waverley in about 2 hours and it cost about $3. 

We had a coffee on the way!!!

We were off to stay with my cousin (well, 2nd cousin if you are being pedantic) and his family in Waverley.  They had kindly offered us accommodation, food and a family vibe. We had a great afternoon meeting family members, being entertained by the kids, having a drink and some fantastic food cooked by Ness.  It was a fabulous evening that we really enjoyed. 

No photos taken.

1.4.2017 Hawks Nest to Woy Woy

Due to circumstances well beyond her control, the whirlwind known as Julia Caunt was unable to come up and meet us in Hawks Nest last night. She had promise to get up at sunrise and do the 2 hour journey up to Hawks Nest to see us this morning, we only just managed to get out of bed before she flew through the door.

We had a lovely morning having a cup of tea and catching up, reminiscing. 

We then had a coffee, another pie (in Guy’s case) at the bakery and a brisk, breezy and, in the end, damp walk along the beach.

We had lunch booked at the Boatshed, which was a lovely family affair with great, fresh good.

Family photo, Peter nearly smiling 😁

We then had hugs and farewells with Bette and Peter and we were driven to Woy Woy listening to film music theme tunes from the 80s and singing along to many songs we thought we had forgotten.

The evening was spent chatting with Jules and Peter, drinking fizz or beer and singing Five, Journey, Bon Jovi etc etc at loud volume. An absolute hoot!!! 

21.3.17 – Mornington Peninsula Winetasting

The storm which raged outside all night hadn’t left town and heavy rain greeted our sleepy ears. An ocean of rain couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm today though and we happily munched down watermelon and read through our vineyard tourist leaflets. Mornington has a cool climate (really?) so is renowned for the Burgundy grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Other grape varietals are grown though as winemakers experiment. 

At 11am the Your Shuttle bus pulled up outside and we dashed from our porch, through the rain, into the comfort of the dry van. Our driver Chris welcomed us and we chatted away and in no time were at our first vineyard, Ten Minutes By Tractor. The cellar door and restaurant were undergoing redevelopment, so tastings were relocated in an old shed which had a cosy atmosphere, especially with the noise of the rain on the corrugated roof. We were warmly greeted by Jasmine who talked us through the wines available that day, the history of the vineyards and gave us loads of information on winemaking and the regions vintages. We really enjoyed our time there.

Ten Minutes By Tractor temporary cellar door

Their Chardonnay was very good but we loved their 2015 Pinot Noir. Red fruit and almost peppery. Alison didn’t used to like Pinot Noir which meant I got a bottle to myself but she is coming round to it. I guess I’ll have to share.

Five minutes on foot was next doors T’Gallant and Jasmine kindly lent us an umbrella, checking for spiders first. T’Gallant has a large cellar door and after the intimacy of Ten Minutes By Tractor it was an initial shock to encounter large tour groups. The staff took us through their wines though and kept an eye on us. They had pioneered Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines (same grape) and had a delicious sweet and slightly fizzy pink moscato. Our favourite though was their 2015 Romeo which was a mix of Shiraz from a vineyard at Heathcote and Muscat from a vineyard at Rutherglen, so neither from Mornington! The aroma reminded me of Pedro Ximenez Sherry, one of our Christmas favourites.

T’Gallant cellar door
Thirteen tastings in, we enjoyed some fresh air outside and were picked up and driven down the road to the scenic Eldridge Estate which we had chosen as it grows Gamay grapes, one of my favourites. The beauty of our Your Shuttle tour with Chris is that it was bespoke and she was able to take us to the vineyards we wanted to visit. 

The owner was loading cases of wine into a car and he said hello and left us with Dan who talked us through the wine tasting, giving us info on vintages, wine styles and winemaking. I loved their 2016 PTG, a mix of Pinot Noir and Gamay and Al loved their 2016 Fume Blanc which is barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc.

The cellar door of Eldridge Estate. Chris our driver on the left.

Next up was Montalto, recommended to us by Kathy our Airbnb host in Melbourne. They had a kitchen garden which provided veg and herbs to their restaurant and a sculpture park around their vines. A great day out if the sun is shining. Al wanted to eat here but we visited the cellar door first where we tried their delicious Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but also a Shiraz and a sweet Moscato. 

I think we were both glad to get some food into us and what great food it was. Aubergine with chickpeas and herbs to start and then a garlic, chive and ham pizza. 

We had a wander round the veg garden. 

Then the beautiful vineyard. 

Then we walked next door to Tucks Ridge our fifth vineyard. After four vineyards and garlic pizza my palate was a bit cloudy and my head was in a very happy place and on this wave of euphoria alongside the friendly, informative and interesting conversation from our cellar door host I forgot to take any photos. Here is a tree outside. 

Suffice to say, their wines were great and we learnt loads including the difference between their single vineyard Chardonnay and their estate Chardonnay which amazingly didn’t escape my tired palate. Our favourite wine was their 2014 Shiraz which tasted of white pepper.

Back out in the rain, we happily walked up a muddy track to our sixth and final vineyard of the day, Red Hill Estate. We tried their Chardonnays, Pinot Grigio and Muscat but we both loved their 2015 Pinot Noir. Alison was finally converted. She was at one with Miles from the film Sideways

As if by magic, Chris appeared and we were taken to the poshest food deli I’ve ever been to. A cave of specialist cheese, meats, dips and wines from all the local vineyards. To round our day off in style we bought a tiny piece of blue cheese and some crisps and a glass of wine each. Finally a full glass! This meant our final score was 38 different wines tasted and 2 smiley faces in probably the best Tuesday of our lives! We had loved our tour of the small, boutique and bigger, slick vineyards and the contrasts of our experiences in them. We had also learnt about some winemaking techniques and increased our appreciation of what it takes to fill your glasses.

Inspecting the quality of the crisps

I know what some of you are thinking. “What about the umbrella you were lent?”

Well, Chris bumped into the owner of Ten Minutes By Tractor in the deli so it was safely returned. As were we.

16.3.17 Melbourne

So, today’s task was to pick up our driving licenses from Poste Restante in Melbourne. For some unfathomable reason we didn’t bring them with us, so we applied for new ones online whilst in Bangkok and my marvellous Mum helped us out, yet again, by sending them onto Oz. This will mean we can start the Roberts International Wine Tour of Oz and NZ, which some of our friends are looking forward to drinking along with us back in the UK.

We get the tram into town and we go to the wrong PO to get them. This turns out to be a good thing as it means we walk past Guy’s old work colleague, Johan, from our time in London. He looks so stunned, doesn’t believe it is us, then realises it is us so we have a quick catch up, marvel at the smallness of the world and agree to have a few ales for good ol’ St Patrick tomorrow!

We get to the right PO and are shocked when the licences are not there. Oh dear, we hadn’t planned for this. The guy checks loads of other places and nope, they are definitely not there. 

Photo of sunny Melbourne to cheer us up.

We walk out feeling numb and try to decide what to do. I ring the car hire to see if just a passport or DVLA number will suffice, it won’t. We need the actual licences. 

We walk to the other post office, pass Johan walking the streets again, clearly having a productive day at the office!!! They confirm there is only one poste restante and also that post can take a month to come from the UK. A month!!!! Our car hire deposit is lost.

Johan has given us a bar recommendation which is near tourist info, so we go to tourist info first to see what our options are doing the vineyards via public transport. The place is staffed by 8 OAP’s and one none OAP, similar to the staffing levels in B&Q at home. We are passed on to about 4 people before someone agrees they have the knowledge to help us. 

Doing Coonawara vineyards on public transport doesn’t seem to be a valid option (unless we have 2 days to travel there and another 2 to travel back). It also limits the accommodation options, as we can’t use out of town camping grounds, so we’ll have to pay more. This leads us to reassess our limited cash reserves​.

We look for answers in the bottom of a (very expensive) lovely dark ale in the sunshine. Life isn’t all bad!

Time is passing, we decide to go back to Balwyn, via the bottlo for a couple of red wines that we will now not be visiting.

Once the UK is awake, Mum promptly sends us a tracking number which shows it has left the UK. But we are no closer to finding out where in Oz it is. Wine and movies (Grand Budapest Hotel) help us try to forget the day and relax, as much as we can.

Wines tasted:

Coonawara Shiraz Parker 2015

Heathcote Shiraz Brown Brothers The Standout 2014

Barossa Shiraz Earthworks 2016

Overland Out

Accommodation location

We set out to travel from England to Asia without flying. A slower, more sedate approach, in a time when time flies and life is gone in a flash, we wanted to slow time and see things properly. We also wanted to see how we would cope with life on the road. So after 190 days rocking and rolling the final transport count from Kenilworth to Kuala Lumpur is:-

Trains – 30
Buses – 25
Tube/metro – 20
Taxis – 14
Tuk Tuks/Songthaews – 8
Minivans – 8
Ferries/Speedboats/dinghies – 11

If anyone is considering doing it, do it.

Is there anything I would do differently? At my age, I’d bring nasal hair trimmers.

Have we learnt anything? Well, we already suspected but now we know that your average person is kind and helpful and stereotypes are not always true. Russian and Chinese train conductors, grannies, shopkeepers, dinnerladies, waiters, hoteliers, policemen, security guards and people on the street have all helped us when we have been lost or in need of something. We thank them all.

11-14.3.17 Kuala Lumpur

Even by our own standards we have done little in KL.

Our hotel is comfy, with a gym and pool which we tried to use most days.

We explored Chinatown and ate there.

We explored little India and ate there.

We explored the expat bar area and drank there.

Each afternoon the clouds would gather, the skies darken, thunder would rumble, lighting would pierce the humid air and a rainstorm would unleash its fury onto the city.

22nd floor view during rainstorm
22nd floor view after rainstorm

It was dramatic and we loved to watch it from our comfy room.