It’s been another crazy week here at Romance HQ. We’ve been trying to get ready for lots of up-coming travel.
Not only a big trip we’ve got planned for the UK and Europe in the middle of the year, but also a couple of smaller trips much closer to today.
In fact, as you read this, we’re currently in Melbourne enjoying a bit of time with friends and catching up with some of Mrs Romance’s family down here.
Even more exciting, later this week, we’re heading east to the Land of the Rising Sun. That’s right, we’re off to Japan – to Okinawa in fact. Okinawa is an island a couple of hours south of the main part of the country. They call it the Hawaii of Japan, so we’re pretty excited.
It’s still winter there, but hopefully Okinawa will be warm enough to get in some beach time while we’re there.
Anyway, here’s our latest IG Edition. We hope you enjoy it!
Jim & Christina x
This evening this happened in the skies over Sydney. It’s always a pleasure to see a good sunset, but I think this is a little more than that. Instagram and Facebook are full of shots like this one!
Does this mean it’s going to be a warm day tomorrow or a wet one?
As it turns out, yesterday’s sunset meant the hottest day on earth ever today – or at least that’s what it feels like!
Thankfully we’re in Sydney’s latest city-based winery cellar door – Handpicked Wines. It’s lovely and cool in here – plus they’ve got wine. Delicious, refreshing wine.
Handpicked is a truly international winery – the world is their vineyard! Their wine selectors travel around the globe looking for the very best grapes so they can make the best wine representing that region.
The result is a collection of really excellent examples of wine from around the world all with that Handpicked quality. And now their cellar door, right in the heart of the city, is up and running.
While we’re here exploring the beautiful cellar door in Chippendale, we’ve had the opportunity to chat with Laura the cellar door’s sommelier and try some of the wine they blend onsite ready to bottle.
It’s fascinating to learn about the wine they make at Handpicked and the different flavours that come from two wines before they’re mixed to make the final product.
The Handpicked Urban Cellar Door is a beautiful spot. It used to be the site of the Carlton Brewery in Chippendale (50 Kensington Street) and they’ve kept the listed building’s aesthetic with the exposed brick.
You can come in and taste the wines they have here, buy bottles and even eat here too. I’ve got a feeling this is going to become a real hotspot – especially with all the things going on in this rapidly developing area.
A lot of the street-side eateries like Spice Alley nearby are BYO too, so you can get a bottle from Handpicked then walk round the corner for dinner. How perfect’s that?
Even better, the cheese boards at the Handpicked Urban Cellar Door care incredible. They get their cheese from Ucello, a real cheese institution in Sydney. It’s a family-run cheese merchant and the products they bring to Australia from all over the world are… well, they’re mouthwatering.
We’ve gone for some creamy gorgonzola dolce and a goat’s cheese with a ribbon of black truffle running through it!
The current trend of frosé – or frozen rosé wine – is really taking off in Sydney, especially during these hot summer months. Handpicked have taken it to the next level though with Prosé.
You get a glass with a scoop of lemon sorbet in, then the waiter comes to your table and pours a rosé prosecco over the top. This froths up as you whisk it in your glass. Then you add toppings of your choice like petals and pink candyfloss!
I’ve gone for a glass of red.
This collage really sums up Sydney this summer. The top photo was this morning’s sunrise. Pink, pretty and calming.
The bottom photo is a couple of hours later of the same view. Well, what’s left of it! It’s raining so hard our windows are leaking.
Mrs Romance decided last year she wanted to learn how to ride a horse properly, so she got some lessons for Christmas. She’s putting them to good use already.
This is Peppi at Sydney Horse in the Centennial Parklands equestrian centre.
It’s another boiling hot day here in Sydney. We’ve gone down the our pool for a dip, but Mrs Romance has taken it a step further! Sydney Harbour is full of bull sharks – but this doesn’t seem to bother Mrs R… having said that it took her a while to get the nerve to take the plunge.
Spoiler alert: she didn’t get eaten!
I’ve gone for a more conventional swim, though I’m not that sure there aren’t sharks in the pool too!
It’s Valentine’s Day! We don’t really go for the big gestures or buy into the obligations of set days for romance, but if there’s an excuse for a glass of champagne, we’ll take it.
It’s also a good time for us to think about our travel plans for the next few months – also cause for champagne I think!
Not only is Valentine’s Day a good excuse for champagne and itching that travel bug, it’s a good time for cheese!
Mrs Romance has brought her ever burgeoning platter skills to the table again tonight. Looks good, doesn’t it?
Mrs Romance has a new bet friend. She calls him Leash Cat because he’s a cat on a leash. Makes sense really. His real name is Fluffy Bubba and his owner exercises him on a harness.
He also hangs out on his leash in the alley outside his house.
Leash Cat is always happy for a bit of company, though he seems pretty happy in his harness too.
I’m not sure if I could take my cat for a walk like a dog though. It just doesn’t seem right. What do you think?
This evening we’re at Palings in the city for a bite to eat. We’ve just come from a fascinating Walkley Media Talk about travel writing at the State Library.
It explored the difficulties of being a travel writer in the modern age and how you stay true to your brand, your audience and also how you maintain an ethical standard both environmentally and from a disclosure point of view.
The panelists speaking were brilliant and enlightening and mediated by the inspiring Kirsten Galliott – Editor in Chief for Qantas Magazine.
The speakers were our lovely, incredibly talented friend Jayne Gorman from Girl Tweets World, Ben Groundwater, who writes prolifically for a range of publications – most notably the travel sections of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age, and Kirrily Schwarz, a staff reporter for News.com.au’s travel section. Kirrily also recently won a Young Walkley award.
The talk was as interesting as our dinner is delicious!
This week’s Travel Recap
Each week we go back in time over some of our favourite travel destinations using never-before-seen photos of our travels. Here’s where we’ve been looking back on this week.
We watched as this thin strip of pure white sand disappeared and released that tiny palm-covered island free from our home on Mataking Island in Borneo.
Strangely, the water on the right was almost too hot to stand in, but the water on the left was cool and refreshing. You could feel the two mixing together as the sandy isthmus (or is it a tombolo?) disappeared.
We couldn’t quite believe the sunset as we looked back at the beautiful Gaya Island in Sabah, Borneo.
Gaya is only a 15-minute ride on a speedboat from Kota Kinabalu – Sabah’s capital – but it feels like you’re on a tropical island miles from anyone or anywhere. But at the same time the luxury of Gaya Island Resort keeps you very comfortable!
Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s finest – and it has us excited about our upcoming trip back to the Land of the Rising Sun! Though rather than central Japan, this time it’s Okinawa and the warm islands of the south!
Caught in the act! One of Mrs Romance’s favourite things to do when we first check in is have a jump on the bed. I don’t blame her actually – it’s a lot of fun!
On our last trip up to Port Stephens, a couple of hours’ drive north of Sydney, Mrs Romance and her sister visited Newcastle. It’s a city that’s developing so quickly, and no wonder.
There are some real gems here like this beautiful sea pool called the Merewether Baths.
I don’t know what’s happened to summer here this year. Throwback to January when you could spend all day on Bronte Beach without melting or getting rained out completely. I wonder what the autumn will bring…
We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s IG Edition. If you have, let us know in the comments. If you haven’t, please keep it to yourself! 😉
Jim & Christina x