Bondi, Balmain, Balmoral and a wall of cats

We’ve stayed Sydneyside this week and explored more of our back yard. There’s so much going on in Sydney at the moment – surely this means the end of winter?

We’ve had some strange kind of false starts recently all over the world. My mum and dad in the UK are preparing for a mini early-winter heatwave, which doesn’t happen. By heatwave I mean 25ºC – but you get what you can take. It’s the edge of a rare October hurricane – Ophelia – that’s about to sweep the country. I hope everyone there stays safe.

Back in Sydney, we’re out in Bondi checking out the beach, we’ve got a couple of great Balmain eating tips and we get a taste of the Hunter Valley in a wine festival in Balmoral.

As for the wall of cats, you’ll just have to wait to find out, won’t you.

Hope you enjoy this IG Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina x

If this isn’t a sign things are changing I don’t know what is! A perfect double rainbow over the city. It’s the end of the winter – and hopefully an indication that things are going well in the marriage equality stakes. If you’re an Australian resident, don’t forget to vote. You’ve got till the end of the month.

And if – for whatever reason – you can’t decide what to vote, here are my sage words of wisdom. Vote yes!

We’re taking advantage of the sun today and have come all the way east to Bondi. We’re meeting our mates John and Ana, who run the superb company Cuban Adventures. If you’re thinking of visiting Cuba, definitely check out these guys. We had the best time with them.

Here are some of the stories from our time in this beautiful, fascinating country.

John and Ana have been away in Brazil for a while, so it’s great to catch up with them and talk about what’s going on in Cuba now. Watch this space for a real revelation of a story where we share John’s insights into Cuba’s current state.

After grabbing a bite to eat at Bondi Markets, we head down to the beach to check out the sets. It’s a perfect day today. It’s rare to see so much sand at this beach on such a sunny day; it’s usually full of people!

Back in Balmain, it’s time for lunch already. We’ve decided to take advantage of the good weather and enjoy the East Village Hotel‘s newly renovated beer garden.

If you’re looking for a fine pub burger, this is the place you need to come. They’ve also got some excellent Aussie beers on tap too… even though Mrs Romance is having wine with her lunch!

The sun’s still doing her thing and making Sydney look more beautiful than ever this week. The rocks and little bays around Balmain always show off a special side to this city.

Today we’re meeting our friends JJ and her husband for a spot of brunch. JJ writes for – a beautiful food, travel and lifestyle site you should definitely check out.

We haven’t seen each other for ages with everyone travelling a lot recently. We’ve brought JJ to one of our favourite haunts Wilhelmina’s in Balmain. These guys started doing brunch a little while back and their menu is definitely worth checking out. Awesome coffee too.

The best thing about having brunch in a cocktail bar is they do brunch cocktails! My Bloody Mary is interestingly served and superbly made. I think Mrs R is having a bit of drink envy – regardless of how good her second coffee is!

Brunch is just as good as – if not better than – my cocktail. We’re talking baked eggs, roast pork rolls, incredible bacon and avocado, portabello mushrooms and smoked fetta. Excellent.

By the way, we’ve deferred to JJ’s masterful food photo for this one. If you want to see food styling at it’s best, check out her Instagram feed @84thand3rd.

This afternoon we’re going north of the Harbour Bridge to the beautiful beach suburb of Balmoral and promise of wine! And to make the day even better, we’re going by ferry.

It’s warm and sunny at the moment, but we’re not sure how long it’ll last…

We’ve made it to Balmoral to the Hunter Valley Uncorked wine festival. The clouds have finally come back to Sydney, but they’ve haven’t greyed out our enthusiasm for a taste of the Hunter Valley in the city.

Our first stop when we get here – apart from catching up with our lovely friend Deb – is to try a glass of Tamburlaine. These guys are an organic winery and the wine they make is outstanding. Mrs R is enjoying one of their Chardonnays immensely!

The crowds beat the clouds here at Balmoral. Such a great turnout for this festival. It certainly shows how much Sydneysiders love their Hunter Valley wines. And justly so.

For more info on the Hunter Valley and for our stories on this beautiful wine region, check out our library of posts here.

It’s time for a snack! The wine at the Hunter Valley Uncorked Balmoral festival is excellent and the food’s to match. Cheese, smoked salmon, roasted Brussels, a delicious chicken salad and a blackberry and coconut mess… good times!

Balmoral Beach is a beautiful spot. And made even better with a glass of Allandale Tempranillo to keep you warm as the early summer takes a nosedive.

It’s been an awesome afternoon at the Hunter Valley Uncorked festival, but as the tables start to disappear and last orders are called, it’s time to drink up and go home… or maybe there’s still time for a sneaky swifty at the Bathers’ Pavillion. Of course there is! I mean it’d be rude not to.

And that moment we’ve all been waiting for: the wall of cats! We’re out in Surry Hills heading home from a meeting and Mrs Romance stops dead in her tracks. And no wonder.

This huge wall is completely covered in cats’ faces! If you want to see it for yourself, it’s on Devonshire Street just off Crown near the Trinity Bar. Pretty spectacular, isn’t it?

So good was our last experience at the East Village Hotel that we’ve come back again. Perhaps not the best habit to form, but how many times do you really have two burgers in a week? Personally I could do it every week, but that’s just me!

Seriously, if you’re looking for a good pub burger, check out the East Village in Balmain. Their cheeseburger is impressive, but their smoked brisket burger is totally indulgent. I’ve tried the schnitzel burger and rate that too, and Mrs R’s breaded cod burger is magic on a plate!

Well, that’s all from us this IG Edition. We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. We’re off for a picnic!

Cheers – Jim & Christina x


Leave a Reply