5 unforgettable animal encounters

Someone recently arrived at my blog by searching ‘Kangaroos at Lucky Bay’ which is a beach in Esperance, Western Australia. Lucky Bay is famously popular who roos who love to hang out and provide the most Aussie photo opp imaginable. This got me thinking about animal encounters and how fortunate and fascinating they are. Especially as we lose so many of our precious species to deforestation and climate change. Here are my top 5:

Kangaroos at Lucky Bay

Skippys on the beach

A kangaroo lazing on a white sand beach, what’s not to love?! While there are usually kangaroos hanging out here, it took me a few visits before I saw them on the sand and not just in the nearby car park. It’s frustrating that tourists have taken to feeding them, which is a bad idea.

Sadly, we’ve lost a lot of kangaroos in the 2019/2020 bushfires. Among the charities helping wildlife are: Victorian Wildlife and NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES).

Gorillas in Uganda

The silver back gorilla (aka the adult male in charge of the troop)

I was quite nervous ahead of our gorilla trek in Uganda. What if a huge silverback ripped my face off?! Turns out our gorilla cousins (at least these ones) could not care less about humans and completely ignored us. We hiked up a dense hillside and heard a loud rumbling heading towards us, suddenly a gorilla somersaulted through a bush, landed comically in front of us and kept going. Later a mama gorilla walked past within touching distance, while a tiny human-like baby clung to her back. It was magical.

Whale Sharks at Ningaloo

A 6-metre long Whale Shark and I

I love snorkelling of any kind but this trip was absolutely next level and a highlight of 2019.  Photos just don’t do justice to how big these fish are. We were lucky on our trip and had a whale shark that was happy to let us swim alongside him for over an hour. It was amazing to see how they glide along so quickly with the tiniest flick of their tail.

Lioness and cubs in Tanzania

Lioness and her cubs

Going on safari is hands down one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had and I could do an endless list of amazing safari moments. But this one really stands out. We were about to leave the Serengeti National Park when my sister Sarah spotted a lioness stalking a gazelle. It got wind of her presence and sped off but we kept watching and the lioness walked back to where her three cubs were waiting. They pushed their way through the thick scrub and walked directly below us before heading off down the road. They were tiny and adorable.

Giraffe trying to bust into a flower farm in Kenya

“Excuse me, large hungry boi here”

Navaisha, Kenya, is a flower growing region that supplies florists around the world (those air miles eeek). There are large flower farms all over the countryside and obviously the local giraffe population is well aware of this! One evening we were riding our bikes back to the hire shop when we passed a huge hungry giraffe trying to get into a flower farm for a feast. Workers couldn’t get in or out and it was causing quite a spectacle among locals. Eventually they got him away by lightly swatting him with a stick. A very Kenyan reason for being home late!

And a bonus 6th animal encounter… any sea turtle, anywhere!

A beautiful turtle in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve in Caye Caulker, Belize

They are just beautiful creatures.

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2020

Here we are. It’s 2020, bushfires are raging all over my country and it feels like we are on the brink of World War III. What a time to be alive! I’ve just returned to Melbourne and work from a lovely two-week break in Tasmania. It was a wonderful time, balanced with the nagging guilt of enjoying myself while other people sheltered on a beach to escape flames while homes and wildlife burnt. If you can make a donation, please do. Here’s a list of ways you can help.

We had Christmas at Andy’s parents place in the north of Tasmania. We swim in the river, went on twilight walks and kayaking missions to spot platypuses, ate and drank way too much and hung out with dogs, friends and family.

Christmas Day in the inlaws’ vineyard

Festive Andy with Syd

Andy and his dad admiring the view

After having leftovers for dinner on Boxing Day Andy and I took our glasses of gin and tonic for a walk before sunset:

Up the garden path

A beautiful huge old gum tree

Do you reckon he feels like the black sheep of the family?

We spent hours by the river, swimming and kayaking up around the bend. Andy and I braved the Boxing Day crowds to buy two giant inflatables (a unicorn and an island) which provided hours of entertainment. On one swimming excursion Andy and his sister spotted a snake crossing the river and yelled out to me, which I took as ‘warning! a snake is headed straight for you!’ and promptly took off in a panic.

Relaxing with no snakes in sight

Andy and his sister on the island

You’re pretty much guaranteed to spot a platypus in this part of the Mersey River, but your odds are higher at dusk and dawn.

Platypus spotters

Did you know the collective noun for platypuses is a ‘paddle’?

Andy and I saw lots of them on our last evening

For New Year’s Eve we headed to the coast, staying at Bridport with a group of good friends.

The beach was so beautiful

Sun smart

Half our NYE crew

We turned Joe into a merman

It seemed only appropriate to ring in the 20s in flapper style! We danced on the wide deck, drank Aperol Spritzes and greeted midnight with sparklers and Mambo No. 5.

Andy and I in our dollar store costumes

It was a quiet New Years Day. I spent six blissful hours on the beach while others came and went, diving into the icy water to clear fuzzy heads. Over the two weeks I read two and a half books: Educated by Tara Westover plus two trashy beach reads by Elin Hilderbrand, the undisputed queen of that genre.

Me on my mostly solo beach day ❤

Bridport’s dramatic coastline

We took the very long way to Hobart from Bridport, stopping along the east coast for lunch at Devil’s Corner winery for sparkling wine and oysters. The view was pretty hazy due to smoke from bushfires.

Sally and I in our almost matching outfits at Devil’s Corner

Natural is the only way to have oysters

On our first night in Hobart we ordered Indian takeaway and watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I loved. Have you seen it?

I love Hobart architecture

We headed to the Taste of Tasmania and continued our trend of overeating and overdrinking. I shouldn’t have worn high waisted jeans.

Just a lovely hydrangea bush

On our last evening of the trip we celebrated our friends’ Aimee and Ed’s engagement. That night we were treated to an absolutely spectacular sunset. Probably helped in part by the smoke in the air, unfortunately.

Face smush

Magic

On our very last morning a big group of us ate at Bear With Me, where I had an Australian classic known as s’ghetti on toast. It’s usually made with tinned spaghetti, dumped unceremoniously onto a slice of toast but in this case it was delicious tomato ragu pasta on sourdough, topped with pecorino and an egg. It really hit the spot.

Bye Hobart

We drove back up to Launceston for our bumpy flight to Melbourne where we were greeted with cool weather and much smokier skies.

My focus is now on our wedding (next month!). I hope you have a wonderful 2020.

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Lately

Kate and I at her Hen’s Party last Friday ❤

We are on the cusp of wedding season! I have four amazing weddings in the next month and I could not be more excited, particularly for my friend-since-high-school Kate’s Big Day feat. my debut role as Maid of Honour. What an honour! We celebrated Kate on a balmy Friday night with many cocktails and off-brand polaroids (see above).

Some things from around the internet I’ve been enjoying lately:

This article about sliding doors moments has one of the best comments section I’ve ever read

Why the best day of the week is definitely Thursday

How much money this fashion blogger makes and what she spends in a week

I watched three episodes of Modern Love, based on the New York Times column by the same name and it is excellent. Makes me yearn for NYC.

These Lizzo costumes win Halloween this year.

I started listening to this great podcast and I’m already hooked.

Apparently this colour clash is the thing for summer.

“I could care less” when you mean that you couldn’t care less and other misunderstood phrases. Mine is the mispronunciation of ‘pseudo’, a word I felt looked similar to ‘suede’ when I was young and hence why I used to say ‘sway-doh’ instead of ‘sue-doh’. Lol.

Have a great week xx

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Tips for making friends as an adult

New and old friends ❤

When I returned to Melbourne in 2016 following a five-year absence I went on a new friend making mission. Yes, I had my super close friends but many had moved interstate or overseas. The larger group of acquaintances that come with growing up in a place had slowly peeled away after years of only the odd ‘happy birthday!’ Facebook post back and forth, which unsurprisingly, failed to breathe life into our admittedly flimsy-to-begin-with friendships.

Falling into friendships is easy as a child and a teenager, but as an adult in a big city, can be daunting. Unfortunately we don’t pursue friendships with the same gusto as romantic relationships. Here are some tips in case you’re interested:

Put yourself out there

I recently sat next to the loveliest lady at the nail salon. We chatted about our respective upcoming weddings, about travel in the USA and about where we worked. As her manicure wrapped up I wondered if we should swap numbers to set up a coffee date. But before I could internally prepare my pitch she leaned over to say goodbye, said how nice it had been to meet me and I bade her farewell in return. I immediately regretted it and when I got back to my desk I used my freshly lacquered fingertips to google various spellings of her name and workplace like the creepy stalker I am. To no avail. I failed to put myself out there and so I failed to make a new friend*.

On the flip side, a few years ago my housemate (and good friend!) Dim and I planned to host some drinks at home. When we talked about who was coming she mentioned she’d invited our mutual hairdresser Jess whom she’d just met the week before. I was seriously impressed. We’ve been friends with Jess ever since! It’s just that easy. Lesson learnt: if you want to be friends with someone just invite them somewhere! The worst someone can say is no, but honestly, I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t want a new friend.

(* this story has a happy ending! My friend Lucy started working at the same place as my nail salon friend and managed to track her down. Apparently she also tried to find me on social media! We have plans to catch up for a drink some time soon.)

Woo the friend-of-a-friend

The easiest way to find friends is through the friends you already have. Say your friend Boris is having drinks for their birthday, go along and try to chat to someone you haven’t met or someone you’ve met in passing and would love to know better. Then in the following weeks, ask Boris if he wants to go to dumplings and to bring the friend you chatted up. Boom! You’re on your way.

I recently went to a hens party where I only knew the bride, I met so many great ladies that night and then we danced up a storm at the wedding. Now we are all going to drag queen bingo in a couple of weeks. Voila! A friendship love story.

Meet your online friends IRL

Meeting strangers from the internet is not weird or lame, it’s actually the best. Case in point: there are SO many Tinder weddings these days. Romance aside, it’s also a great way to make friends. I find Instagram to be the best friendship source. The aforementioned bride Sarah and I first ‘met’ through our respective WordPress blogs before following each other on Instagram. A few years later I realised she was friends In Real Life with my school friend Claire and now we attend each others’ weddings. So good!

I also met my friend Carmel, through Instagram. She lives in Hobart and we catch up for a drink every time I’m down there. I have two other Insta friends earmarked for a coffee soon, we just need to find the time.

Invite the work friend out

This is probably the second easiest way to make friends as an adult, but transitioning from work pals to weekend pals can be a challenge. The best way I’ve found, is to start with grabbing coffees together and then perhaps an after work drink and then move to hanging out outside work hours. I remember when my friend Brodie and I organised our first brunch together with our partners, it felt like a first date! I was nervous. Fast-forward a few months and the four of us are taking a ski trip to Mount Hotham together. Brodie and Andy now take each other on nerd movie dates. With my friend Lucy, I invited her to come to a really casual Christmas catch up at my house- friends ever since!

Join a club

I can’t speak from experience of joining a club in a city. But it definitely worked in the country (read about that here). The options are far more abundant in a large city so joining a sewing club or a pole dancing class or a table tennis squad is your ticket to finding friends with mutual interests. After a few weeks you can suggest going out for a coffee/drink/breakfast after training/class/rehearsals and go from there. That reminds me I’ve been meaning to join a salsa class for the last three years…

Reach out to a long-lost friend

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t become good friends with someone who has fallen off the radar (unless you accidentally ran over their guinea pig or something equally horrific). Unfortunately, the only people who seem to randomly reach out on social media are former schoolmates trying to sell you plastic containers or weight loss shakes. But that’s why it would be a wonderfully pleasant surprise to hear from an old friend, keen to catch up and talk about old times. Since moving back to Melbourne I reconnected with an old work friend and we regularly catch up, it’s super easy when people know your back story. The worst that can happen is they don’t reply. Oh well! Their loss.

Finally

Follow up and stay in touch! We are all busy people, no one is going to have endless hours for face-to-face catch ups but it’s super easy to send a ‘it was great hanging out last weekend!’ text or a ‘thought you’d enjoy this meme’ DM to stay in touch with someone. I was recently disappointed that I hadn’t seen a friend in a while so I put in my headphones and called her on a random Thursday night. We chatted for 45 minutes. We talked about the Bachelor, our careers, what was for dinner etc. It was like we’d just sat down for a coffee together but I was able to do the dishes at the same time. The older I get, the more I appreciate my friends and their assistance in wading through life’s tricky waters. So I’m going to cling to them like proverbial life rafts. How do you make new friends?

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Do you celebrate Halloween?

Halloween used to be a dirty word in Australia and was widely (and incorrectly) dismissed as an ‘American Holiday’. In my corner of Melbourne in the 1990s, it was rare to find anyone dressing up to go trick-or-treating, and even rarer for people to be stocking up to give treats to strangers.

I remember having one Halloween party at age 5, when my Canadian mum had just returned from the motherland with a suitcase full of jack-o-lantern bowls, fake blood and witches hats. My sister dressed as a robot with a box on her head, I as a cat. We had fun with our costumed friends at home but when we knocked on our neighbours’ doors we were met with blank stares and in one instance, utter disdain.

A few years later I attended the Halloween party of a boy from school. This time his parents had worded up the neighbours and we only went to the prearranged houses. It was fun, but absolutely not the norm.

In 2019, there are absolutely still Australians who love to hate Halloween because they see it as stupid, frivolous and a form of American cultural imperialism (this article is excellent at explaining why). I note these Australians have no issue embracing every single other aspect of American culture from Netflix to Coca Cola.

But I am really heartened to see Halloween gaining in popularity across this wide brown land. My local council has even put up some token decorations. This is all led, of course, by children. I am fanatical about fancy dress, fond of actually knowing your neighbours and love a miniature Mars Bar as much as the next person. Halloween brings these three things together and I figure if you can’t muster a smile for a tiny tot dressed up as a mummy that’s on you.

Will you be celebrating Halloween this year?

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Small things I do because I’m scared of climate change

For me, climate change is the single biggest issue of our time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel helpless by photos of diminished glaciers, cracked-dry farms and emaciated polar bears. It certainly feels like any small actions we take as individuals amount to nothing, but it all adds up.

Here is a list of the things I’ve changed in order to reduce waste and try and reduce my carbon footprint. I have a long way to go and often feel like I’m drowning in plastic but I’m trying to learn something every day. That said, voting with the environment in mind is probably the most important action you can take.

Plastic + other single use items 

The recycling industry where I live recently collapsed and all our recyclable products went to landfill for over a month (!!). It was a really scary reminder that we can’t rely on recycling, we need to reduce the amount of waste we produce. Here’s some things I do:

  • We try to minimise ordering Uber Eats as much as possible and when we do, we ask the restaurant not to supply cutlery and reuse the containers over and over.
  • I never use plastic bags (even with clothes shopping) and have these handy produce bags for bread, fruit and veg at the supermarket.
  • I recently swapped from bottled shampoo and conditioner to Lush bars which are packaging-free. My hair has never looked better! We also use bars of soap instead of plastic bottles of shower gel.
  • We’ve swapped from hand wash gel to bars of soap.
  • I never use plastic food wrap (glad wrap), I use a container or put a plate on top of a bowl.
  • I recently bought a Face Halo washer instead of using miscellar water (in a plastic bottle) and disposable cotton pads.
  • I never buy bottled water (it’s free from the tap!), coffee without a reusable cup or use plastic straws.

Lush shampoo (purple) and conditioner (green) bars, plus a regular bar of soap

Food + diet

Andy and I really need to reduce our meat intake, I’m putting it here to remind myself!

We live in an apartment and have started using this compost bucket to remove all our food waste from landfill. Food that ends up at the tip emits methane which is terrible for the environment. Using the bucket has been a revelation and I wish we started sooner! It’s super easy and makes it really obvious when you’re throwing out spoilt produce that you didn’t get around to eating (a good reminder to buy less). The bin juice from all the decomposed fruit and veggies is like crack for all my indoor plants. I have so many new leaves since using it.

You eventually need to bury the waste so we found a local lady on the Share Waste app with a huge worm farm to take the contents of the bin. In return, she gave us some of her fresh produce. Win win!

Coffee grounds and food waste ready for the compost bucket

Car use + transport

Andy and I both take the train to and from work. I don’t drive every day but I wish I was better at not using my car at all. I mostly use it to drive to the gym so I really need to find a gym within walking distance. At present I haven’t used my car for two full days. Once we get fully separated bike lanes on Exhibition Street in Melbourne I’d love to start riding to work.

Electricity + water

According to Choice, heating water is the second most energy intensive activity after heating and cooling your home.

We don’t have a clothes dryer or a dishwasher and we wash all our clothes in cold water. We don’t have an air-conditioner and try really hard to put on extra clothes and blankets before switching on the heater.

I have been meaning to look into a renewable energy provider for a while, I know Tango Energy uses wind power. If you have any tips on this please let me know. When I was renting in Kalgoorlie we had solar panels on the roof and owed nothing to the power company every month! Heaven.

Consuming less

Our small two-bedroom apartment makes it really easy not to buy new stuff because we literally have nowhere to store it!

I never buy anything online as I was super shocked to learn that a lot of major retailers end up putting returned items in landfill because it’s cheaper than repackaging.

I have rediscovered my love for op-shopping and have been exploring ways to revamp some of my old products (I recently dyed a pair of shoes with leather dye instead of a new buying pair).

At the moment I’m trying to buy second-hand wedding decorations wherever possible and if I can’t, I buy things that can be on-sold after the wedding.

Where I need to do better

We love to travel, but flying burns fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow. I need to start off-setting all my flights.

We still throw out (recycle) heaps of plastic; yogurt tubs, berry containers, cleanser bottles, used makeup containers, beer and wine bottles. I know there are bulk food stores where you can buy things like washing up detergent in a reusable bottle, I need to look into this. Also, the Queen Victoria Market has a shop where you can refill wine bottles.

I still buy new clothes and fast fashion too frequently. I do try to wear my clothes as much as possible and give away or sell things I won’t wear anymore. I used to donate a lot to charity bins but they are overwhelmed with so much stuff that they end up having to throw it out anyway.

I also want to buy a washing bag that collects micro plastics from synthetic clothing so it doesn’t end up in the ocean.

Got any more tips? Would love to hear what you’re doing in this space.

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Margot – 8 weeks

My sister Sarah and brother-in-law Nady welcomed their daughter Margot into the world the day after my birthday. Another Leo in the family! I can’t possibly describe the joy she has brought to all our lives or how wonderful becoming an aunt has been. It’s such a unique feeling to welcome a brand new person into the family, for years it’s been new partners which is excellent, but this time it’s someone we’ve eagerly anticipated for months and we get to slowly discover and learn more about every day.

At 8-weeks old, Margot has just returned home to the other side of the world. My father, Andy and I saw them and 90kg of luggage off at the airport. It was a really tough farewell. But we squeezed in as much family time as possible while they were here and I’m super grateful to have had them home in Melbourne for so long.

The next time I see Margot she will be 6-months-old. So here’s a snapshot at 8-weeks.

Margot, you arrived late on a Monday night.

For a week you didn’t have a name and for some reason that drove me crazy!

At the moment you are a master feeder and a wonderful sleeper, your parents are so lucky.

You started smiling at about 6-weeks and so from then on we all made it our mission to see your beautiful toothless grin.

You love hearing singing, humming and miscellaneous mouth noises. Your dad is especially good at the latter. I’ll never forget your parents and I humming endlessly like Gregorian monks to calm you down in the car. I hummed until my brain buzzed inside my skull.

Your mum and I have also sung endless Disney songs at you, along with ‘Downtown’ by Petula Clark and ‘My Girl’ by The Temptations swapping out ‘my girl’ for ‘Margot’.

Hugo the spoodle is a big fan of yours and from day one was interested in this new tiny being in the house. Your cries would put him on high alert.

It’s fun to find words that rhyme with your name. So far we’ve come up with Chicago, Mar-a-lago, embargo, cargo and Fargo

You love movement, like being pushed in the pram (particularly over bumps and the edge where the floorboards meet the carpet), being held and swayed, being swung in the car seat.

You have a wonderfully expressive face and a great little brow furrow. You have beautiful chubby cheeks and a pointy little chin.

When you’re unwrapped from your swaddle you do an amazing yoga routine of little stretches, reaching your arms far above your head.

You have an uncanny sense of timing and manage to cry-out the moment your mum takes her first bite of a meal.

Having you fall asleep on my chest is the greatest feeling in the world.

You were born in the cold Melbourne winter and were often wrapped in a blue and white wool blanket spun and knitted by your great-grandmother.

Your grandfather has bought you every piece of infant merchandise available from the Carlton Football Club and hopefully you’ll see them win one day.

You got your first passport at 6 weeks, it took three adults to calm you, prop you up and capture your little face for the photo. No doubt the first of many passports over the course of your life.

You slept an incredible 8-hours on the plan from Melbourne to Abu-Dhabi. In the check-in line at the airport we met twin girls named June and Margot who asked if they could touch you before prodding your feet and gently poking your chin.

You are so incredibly loved by every member of your family. I can’t wait to see you in February.

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Lately

A selection of things that have been occupying my time:

Watching (very belatedly) the most recent season of Younger. The clothes on that show! So fabulous. I’m inspired to start an outlandish necklace collection like Diana. I’m also trying to get back into Crazy Ex Girlfriend so I can finish the series. Don’t let the terrible title fool you, it’s an utterly excellent and cleverly written musical comedy that does not disappoint.

Eating as healthily as possible… but on the weekend my friend-since-high-school Claire assembled the most incredible cheese platter for two (above). We sat on the couch and feasted while stalking some of our favourite Instagram accounts, projected on the TV for easy shared viewing. Definitely the highlight of the weekend!

Listening to The High Low podcast. It’s been sitting in my app for years (literally) and I just started binge-listening on the weekend as I cleaned our apartment. Hosts Pandora and Dolly discuss current affairs and popular culture with the most amazing vocabularies, it makes me want to read the dictionary. I also burnt through true crime podcast The Thing About Pam, which was fascinating.

Loving using our apartment-friendly compost bucket. Food scraps that are put in the bin end up in landfill and produce methane, a greenhouse gas with more than 20 times the global warming capacity of carbon dioxide. So being able to compost and get food out of our bin is awesome. We also get to use the liquid from the bucket as a natural plant fertiliser.

Wishing for a new adventure somewhere exotic. We are being responsible and saving pennies ahead of The Most Expensive Day of Our Lives (aka the wedding). I have to say it’s super boring. Major first world problem. My eyes need an unfamiliar scene to feast on.

Wondering about celebrity lookalikes and doppelgangers. Last night a colleague told me I was a dead-ringer for Maddie from the show Nashville, I had to google her and… I just look nothing like her! It’s so interesting how people perceive other people versus how we perceive ourselves.

Enjoying the warmer spring weather. A bit of sunshine does wonders for my mood.

Buying I just purchased my bridesmaid’s dress for a close friend’s wedding in December! Can’t wait.

Reading As always, I’m addicted to Refinery 29’s Money Diaries. Each one details a week of spending by an anonymous woman somewhere in the world, usually the US. It’s a fascinating insight into the fiscal habits of others and the comments section goes absolutely wild. I’m also reading yet another David Sedaris book, this one is made up of diary entries and the early ones don’t quite have the wit and ingenuity of Sedaris’ regular storytelling. But I’m persevering!

Planning a quiet weekend. I am spent and it’s only Wednesday!

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Wedding chat: what would you do differently?

Loving the dance floor at my friend Bec’s wedding

Andy and I are in the process of planning our wedding. Exciting stuff! We are trying to prioritise what’s important to us (food, drinks, music, photos… oh and someone to do the legal bit) and not sweat any of the small stuff. So far this is working out well except for when I embarked on a bizarre hour-long search for table runners in which I almost justified $350 to hire some before snapping to my senses and backing away from my computer. I can think of about five million better things to spend $350 on.

There are so many blogs that have lists of things people would do differently if they had their wedding again (including picking a different person to marry!) and I’m sure the aforementioned table runners would fall into this category had I taken the plunge and hired them. A few months ago I took to my Instagram stories and asked people two questions:

Firstly, how much did your wedding cost? And, what would you do differently?

The feedback was immense. People love talking about weddings. As you would expect, the answers to the first question ranged wildly from about $1000 to $100,000 depending on how recently the wedding was.

Unsurprisingly, the answers to the second question were mostly experience-based in that people wish they’d spent more time with their guests or bridesmaids or partner, that they’d invited fewer people or even eloped. No one ever wishes they’d shelled out more clams on flowers or candles. Some people did say that for ease they wished they’d hired a venue that came with things like tables, chairs and cutlery included.

The overwhelming response though, was that people wished they’d hired a videographer to capture their nuptials. You get so caught up in everything happening on the day, they wrote, that they wished they’d had a video to watch it all back again. A close second was people wishing they’d hired a better photographer or not given the responsibility of taking photos to their aunt’s neighbour’s son, a keen amateur skateboarding photographer.

What do you think? Is there anything you would change if you had a wedding do-over?

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Swimming with Whale Sharks

Have you ever ticked off a bucket list item without realising it was there in the first place?

Back in 2014, Andy and I took an impromptu trip to Coral Bay in Western Australia after our original destination was on fire. Literally. We counted our lucky stars when we rerouted and found ourselves surrounded by glorious clear blue water and tropical fish. But one (giant) fish we would not see was the Whale Shark. We’d missed the season by a few weeks, so vowed we would return one day.

That day came in May this year. Much like the first time, we flew to Exmouth, picked up a car and drove to the tiny town of Coral Bay, passing giant termite mounds along the way.

We arrived in paradise

The following day we did our Whale Shark safari, which included some snorkelling stops as well. We booked with Coral Bay Eco Tours, who were fantastic. It’s a pricey day ($410 each) but well worth it, they actually send up a plane to scout the Whale Shark locations.

Turtely awesome

Our first snorkel spot of the day. I will never tire of swimming with turtles ❤

Our first Whale Shark was content to lazily circle for an hour while we jumped in and swam alongside all 6 metres of him.

Long boy

There was a strategy wherein the boat would drop you in front of the Whale Shark so you could watch it go past and then swim madly to keep up. It was incredible how they hardly seemed to move but cut through the water so quickly.

It’s really hard to get a sense of the scale of them. If you look at the people behind the Whale Shark in the photo below you can kind of tell how huge they are:

We split into groups so we could constantly rotate between swimming and hauling ourselves up onto the boat to move ahead of the Whale Shark to drop in again. It was amazing and tiring. The most thrilling part was when the shark would suddenly decide to turn and would swim directly at you until you scampered out of the way.

Our 2014 trip was the first time I ever used a GoPro and I’m happy to say my underwater photography skills have improved since then! Andy bought this great dome mount that makes it easier to take these over/underwater shots:

We toasted to the day.

And watched the sunset back on dry land.

100% would recommend swimming with Whale Sharks.

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