I feel like I've barely sat still the past couple of months. We've had three weeks of school holidays (always a winner during Winter- it has rained to the point of needing to build an ark), and a couple of extra side trips have seen the AV house empty more often than full.

But I thought I'd not bore everyone with blow by blow descriptions of our family ski holiday (surely this is the modern day equivalent of the slide show?) and some of the other trips here and there we've done, but instead highlight a couple.

 Ginger Jars at Decor + Design

Last week was the Decor and Design trade show in Melbourne. Romy and I had decided earlier this year we were going to attend - I haven't been to a trade show since leaving Melbourne in 2010... so I felt it was overdue. We flew in from our respective cities and met at the airport, where we laughed at the drivers holding up iPads that said "Uber available" (why yes, random man, I will get into your car because you say you're an Uber driver...) and joined the taxi queue whereupon after a bizarre ride into the city with a - literally- deranged driver with appalling body odour (it'll be Uber only after this - suddenly those guys at the airport didn't look so creepy), we did a quick whip around the D+D show at the Convention centre with Romy's friend Jane who was already in attendance. Frankly, the best part of the show was the champagne bar and people watching (it's always fun watching the other designers all dressed up and guessing where they're from - there are strong regional 'looks' in design). While I got to visit a few of my suppliers stands, and also found a couple of new sources... overall it was pretty dreadful.


Nothing better than a convention centre full of Chinese made pleather recliner lounge suites with built in cup holders and pouches for your remote. Apparently you can replace entire sections of the lounge when the pleather is scratched up. 

But all was not lost! Thursday night we met up at the new Garden State Hotel in Flinders Lane in the city. Single ladies of Melbourne - If you're looking for a place where the ratio of men aged over 30 in dark suits is about 10 to every 1 female, this is the place for you at 7pm on a Thursday. It was absolutely pumping (seats 850, but doesn't feel overly cavernous due to the design) and was wall to wall city males. We left to eat at Supernormal, a little further down Flinders Lane (the Lobster rolls are excellent) and then to bed.


Friday morning before departing, thanks to Jane who is a nippy driver and had hired a car while in Melbourne, we whipped around the trade showrooms in High Street, Prahran East looking at all the fabrics we don't have easy access to here and stopped off at the Mossgreen tearooms in High Street Armadale for sustenance.


Their high tea looks very nice indeed (I just had scones), and the proper Wedgwood china the tea was served in was lovely. Highly recommended if you're looking for a nice place for tea or lunch that is not in the city.

sausages in bread... watching their brother.

Then it was home to man the BBQ and dole out sausages on bread at the Under 11s Football match in the freezing cold, mud and pouring rain on Friday night. A life of contrasts...


Earlier in the school holidays Mr AV and I had a child free weekend escape to the Barossa Valley. This is probably Australia's most famous food and wine region - it was settled by German Lutherans, escaping religious persecution in the 1840's, and they brought many of their food traditions with them with many of the same families still in operation today. It's only 45 minutes from Adelaide, which made it the perfect easy driving destination that feels a world away from the city.



We stayed at Kingsford Homestead in the tiny little stonemasons cottage, rather than the main house. It was perfect - incredibly quiet, very private, and had a little sitting room with open fire place that I spent a lot of time reading books in front of. Breakfast in the main house was delicious - it's a really great spot to stay and explore the Barossa from. We ate our meals out - Fino at Seppeltsfield for lunch on Friday, Ferment Asian in Tanunda on the Friday night (the wine list has to be seen to be believed - it's like the Bible!), Hentley Farm on the Saturday night for the 8 course degustation and then, as a complete contrast, we ate at The Clubhouse back in Tanunda on Sunday night, which does a pretty good pub style meal (we were all gourmet'ed out by then).

Hentley Farm - oysters with passionfruit vinaigrette and rosemary scented smoke. It covered the table at one point.

Seppeltsfield, which looks strangely South of France with the palms and French cafe furniture even when freezing cold

We visited Maggie Beer's farmhouse shop, which was jam packed with tourists (and as we can pretty much buy her entire range at the supermarket in Adelaide it wasn't really a huge draw for us), and dropped in and out of the many, many wineries in the region. My advice if you're going for the first time is to skip the really big names (the Jacob's Creeks etc) as they have very large visitor centres, many of which are a little dated and cater for the large bus tourist segment of the market. The smaller, more authentic experiences are in the little places where the staff are passionate about wine, and will happily chat with you about technique, blends and other little gems of information. We did enjoy visiting Seppeltsfield though - it is one of the bigger wineries, but has an outpost of the Jam Factory (the famous Adelaide craft collective), and an excellent restaurant in Fino. Mr AV made the observation that the large Alcohol conglomerates that went on purchasing sprees a decade or so ago buying up the 'big name' wineries didn't take into account that as soon as they bought them they devalued the brands as they lost the x-factor of the family heritage that gave them worth. It's all about heritage and authenticity in the Barossa, and the family run wineries are the ones still making waves.


We loved visiting the Barossa - very beautiful scenery and enjoyable driving through the hills and valleys along little winding roads. The tiny old stone settlers cottages, rustic split gum fencing and paddocks full of vines. It was a great escape and we drove home to collect the children on the Monday with a car boot full of wine to add to our cellar.

Inside Rockford's
Outside Rockford's

Back home, we're in the depths of Winter - pouring rain, cold and a fairly bare looking garden. Hope you're warm whatever part of the world you're reading from.

40 comments:

  1. Melbourne looked like it was fun and I would have loved some more pics hehe. Those chairs while not very aesthetic look comfy though! I still can't believe I never did all those foodie things in SA while I lived there but I suppose I was busy stuffing my face in some new place that opened in Melbourne. One thing I missed out on altogether was the footy thing as I do here. But I love that people love it so much they are willing to stand out in the cold but I did enjoy the food as they say in the States - tail gating bit of it all. I don't like the cold and while I used to be a ski fiend I can't bring myself to go purposefully into the cold still and yet in Italy they are so used to the heat and beach their annual big holiday is skiing in the mountains! xx

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    1. It was so much fun! We covered a lot of ground. But as usual I didn't take many photos. Wasn't going to blog about it... The chairs though were awful - look comfy but no support so like sitting in a marshmallow. Plus the pleather felt horrible to the touch. Melbourne has such a food scene, so I can understand why you wouldn't have looked further afield. I couldn't believe how packed Flinders lane was on a Thursday night - queues out the door of all the non booking places were unbelievable! Def not Adelaide. Plus there was this strange man with his Merino sheep walking up and down Collins Street... quite a circus!!
      Trust me when I say you miss nothing with the lack of Aussie rules. I am looking forward to September! But then cricket starts... x

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  2. The pleather recliner. Can. Not. Deal.

    Thanks for the excellent recommendations in my own city. I last dined at Supernormal when it was supernew. So out of the loop. Most Fridays/Saturdays and Sundays it seems are spent at cold footy grounds with nothing but a sausage in bread. The glamour !

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    1. So, so awful Ann - there were a bunch of Chinese manufacturers that were in a back corner away from the 'normal' stuff in the exhibition. There was also a recliner massage chair and Romy and I did a double take as there was a man sitting in one and he looked like he had no legs. But no, they were just stuffed inside the massage part of the chair...
      I love any Andrew McConell place to dine. I used to love Circa back in the day, and Moon Under Water was excellent too (although I hear it's now becoming a Chinese restaurant?). Supernormal was delish and worth going back to. And if you suddenly find yourself single then head to the Garden State Hotel - it's quite the scene!!

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  3. Heidi
    Honesty is certainly your middle name and, in many respects, it is very helpful. The Hills are awash at the moment and, hopefully, it will help with the usual dry summers we have here in Adelaide. Have you been to the Southern Ocean Lodge by any chance?? I would love to hear if it is worth the expense (if you have been).

    Cheers
    Melody

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    1. well my back lawn is squelching under foot, so I hope it will all be worth it this Summer too! No, I haven't stayed at Southern Ocean Lodge. I do know people who have though, and they absolutely loved it. The operators do a pretty slick job with all their lodges, so I think it would be a pretty special experience. But if it's worth the cost? Unsure - it is pretty $$, and having stayed on Kangaroo Island a few times, I'm not sure I'd appreciate it so much as if I'd never been.

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    2. Thanks Heidi. It certainly gets great reviews. I am thinking of taking my parents as a surprise when they visit us in September but want to make sure it is worth it.
      Cheers
      Melody

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    3. Ah! Well they'd love it. I believe the meals are fabulous too. The friends we know that have stayed are from interstate, and haven't been before, so they were blown away not only by the accommodation but by the Island as well. I'm sure your parents would love it!

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  4. I am a convert to Uber. I only use taxis when the markup on uber is huge. And yes taxi drivers do have a stench of their own.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the barossa. I want to go. there and kanga island!

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    1. Ah yes, that is one aspect I don't miss about Melb - the taxi drivers! Knowing you C I think you'd love the Barossa. Lots of good foodie/ wine places to go, very rustic, authentic etc. Right up your alley I'd say! xx

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  5. I can practically smell the chemicals coming off of the pleather chairs, how hideous! They look like cheapie plastic puffy versions of the Stressless Chairs, do you know the ones, I think they're made in Denmark. We are having 90+ weather here now, it's quite the hot summer we're having in contrast to your freezing temps and rain! We finally had a thunderstorm which watered the garden but it's not been enough, there are plenty of brown patches out there.
    Would love love to do a wine country tour in your part of the world, it's on my list top five! Stay warm XO

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    1. They probably are inspired by something Danish, but a very, very long way from their original inspiration! Wow - can't believe how warm it is for you! That is annoying about the garden though. I do hate the end of our summer when everything is looking a little crispy fried, and I long for autumn and all the sad looking leaves can drop again! If you ever do make the big trip down I would love to take you through some of our wine regions - there are so many on our doorstep within a couple of hours, but the Barossa is definitely a highlight xx

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  6. Guess we've been unusually lucky with taxi drivers. We take taxis a lot in Paris (normally pretty cheap) and it can be so interesting to hear drivers' thoughts about life there, current events etc. Luckily, I speak enough French for them to share. One thing I noticed this year was that many cabs were much newer and cleaner than even last year. A driver explained that the mayor of Paris has established deadlines for (1) banning cars that run on diesel and (2) slightly longer deadline for banning all cars over 10 years old. Others talked about how difficult it is for them - or their adult children - to find rental accommodation in the city. They don't earn enough to pay the high rents - and most have to live miles out. They also know about tourism and downturns, the nationalities who are still visiting, etc.
    In the past have had bad experiences in London with minicabs - a kind of early version of uber. The price was agreed at booking so it wasn't in their interests to delay getting to destinations - but they haven't done the knowledge like cabbies and often they get hopelessly lost, also didn't have gps. One time a driver was speeding up an alley and clipped the open door of a van. He had to stop of course - and it was close to a real fist fight dust-up as they shouted and threw air punches at each other. Took them about 20 minutes to settle it. Felt like getting out and legging it - but had no idea where we were and area didn't look too salubrious. So have been more inclined to stick to regular taxis, even though in London they can cost a Fortune.

    Your trip to Melbourne to meet up with Romy sounded fun - at least champagne bar and people watching part. Disappointing that Exhibition included those awful recliner seats. Once stayed with someone who had them (and no other seats) - she thought they were fabulous but to me they were excruciating and so hard to get out of.
    Our lawn is squelching too. Hope it's not too boggy for plants though. The Canberra clay takes so long to dry out and lots of plants don't like long term cold wet feet (who can blame them!). My trusty gardener friend is visiting this weekend to do the rose pruning! It begins to feel like beginning of shift out of winter once they're done! Even though it's still jolly cold. Have to plead guilty to doing equivalent of slide shows on FB - our way of communicating with family and keeping a record of at least some of our travels in case computer goes pffft. This time around seem to get a lot of French ads on FB. Pammie xx

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    1. I was warned off Minicabs when I went to live in London - there had been a series of rapes etc, and they're completely unlicensed, so I always steered clear of them. But I think Uber X is pretty much the same. I feel safe in Uber black (those are chauffeured cars that are otherwise idle, so have some form of gov. regulation/ licensing). But taxis in Melb are notoriously bad. I'm also always catching them out trying to take the long routes as they don't realise I know my way around.
      Well, I meant more our trip skiing on the blog would be like a boring slide show. Really, no one wants to see lots of pictures of us as rugged up blobs skiing! They all kind of look the same. I think France is an entirely different kettle of fish and I'd probably drive the readers insane with the amount of photos I'd put up! Keep warm, and hope the garden survives xx

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    2. Just once I caught a taxi out in Paris for lengthening the route. I asked him in French if he really understood where we were going. He tried to fob me off with saying he had to do this because of the one way street. Rubbish! I just replied "Normalement, monsieur, on tourne a droite beaucoup plus avant cette rue-ci". May not be best grammar - but they know you know - and the word "normalement" makes it absolutely clear. He turned immediately - as he should have streets back - and from then on there was no funny business.
      Also if you can say, "Desole(e) monsieur, on est un peu presse, s'il vous plait, evitez la circulation, si c'est possible". It just means - Sorry, we're in a bit of a hurry, please avoid the traffic, if possible. But in a very polite way. Taxi drivers usually appreciate both clarity and politeness (politesse).
      Australian politicians of the old school (particularly ALP, but not only) used to be specially polite and friendly to their official drivers or to taxi drivers. In the old days it was one way of keeping in touch with what the man (it was usually a man) in the street thought about things. Also these drivers often had interesting back stories and gossip (sometimes true) about people who might be of interest. Heard a story about a Labor PM who knew many of the Comcar drivers and would often chat with them if he happened to walk past. VIP Russian visitors noticed that the PM had descended on their driver and was talking in an animated way with him. They didn't know this was his normal habit - and immediately but falsely assumed the worst - that the drivers must all be intelligence operatives who could understand Russian. They spoke not another word to each other in any car they were travelling in. Pammie xx

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    3. That's so funny about the Russians Pammie!! You always have a good story x

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  7. Perfect outfit, yummy brioche buns and another house that looks as if it's along the road! I've yet to call or travel in an Uber,I'm so behind the times.

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    1. Oh those brioche buns - the salt and butter were wickedly delicious! We do have a lot of sandstone here in South Australia, so that's quite similar to you. But in Summer that view with the paddocks in the background would definitely not look Scottish - burnt off to a crisp! It is nice to visit during winter when it's so lush and green. x

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  8. I am pleased (for my sake, not yours!) that D&D wasn't great. I was planning on going but life just got in the way and I didn't make it there. Glad I wasn't missing out on too much!
    I just love the Barossa. We, too went in the holidays with our teenage children, but just for the day. (Fino for lunch and a trip to the under-whelming Maggie Beer's Farmhouse Shop...), but would love to return with just my husband for a weekend like yours. Love the sound of the cottage at Kingsford and I totally agree with your thoughts on the smaller, family-owned and run wineries. Rockford's is (and always has been) a particular favourite - not just for the fabulous wines, but for the passion, integrity and history.
    Love your honesty, Heidi - it's really refreshing!
    Keep warm,
    Caroline x

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    1. Hi Caroline, nope - you didn't miss a thing. Having not been to anything the past 6 years, I get a little FOMO when I see the other designers instagramming the trade shows. But going through the showrooms made it all worth it. I gather that Den Fair is where it's at, trade show wise. That has more Australian/ cutting edge design. I found a couple of new lighting suppliers, but other than that, it wasn't terribly inspiring.
      Yes, agree with you about Maggie's farm shop. I think it needs a bit of a refresh. It's all pretty much unchanged from the 80's when it was the Pheasant Farm restaurant. And yes, get there without kids! xx

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    2. Yes, it's definitely that FOMO that I was suffering from! I guess everything filters through the internet in no time (as nice as it is to see goods "in the flesh"....apart from the pleather lounges!!) so, I'll get lots of images just surfing the 'net.
      I thought I should add that I love Maggie's (cooking and life) style, products, and general joie de vivre - she really is charming and very talented - but feel like the farm shop needed a total refresh. Perhaps we are a bit spoiled here and can find her goods at supermarkets - so that may have added to the lack of excitement. I'd been there for dinner and lunch in the 80's and it seemed so much nicer then (probably because it was decorated in the 80's...and it was the 80's!!) Maybe our visit was marred a bit by my husband trying a couple of samples of her products - and then realising that he ate them from used sample sticks (used ones were in an open bowl next to the new ones....and hard to pick the difference!). Then we sat and had a coffee and the table was sticky and filthy. It all just seemed a bit dirty and unkempt. Feel bad saying this - but I really think they are letting themselves (and the fabulous Barossa) down.... x

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    3. I love Maggie's stuff too, but 100% agree with your comments. I think the cafe being in with the farm shop felt a little crammed and busy, and it was definitely a bit scuffed around the edges. Maybe separating the food testing part from the actual seating area would be a better idea. The bathrooms in particular need an upgrade, it just all felt a little tired. But oh, that is awful for your husband with the tasting sticks. It would make me feel sick to have done that!! We actually ordered coffees and ice creams, and ate the ice creams, waited another 15 minutes for the coffee, then gave up and left! It was very busy, and we were a bit over it by then and couldn't be bothered even trying to muscle through to ask where they were.

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    4. She seems nice and maybe she is really but we weren't impressed one day at a garden centre when she was signing her cookbooks. She didn't have a pen of her own - so I passed over my good pen (not a cheap old biro) and the people next to us asked if they could have her use it too. Lots of others jumped in between and we waited patiently to get my pen back, talking quietly and looking at her book we'd bought. We kept standing there of course. Maybe she thought we were stalking her - who knows - but she glared at us and turned her back as she kept signing. Finally the people who'd asked us if they could use the pen had their book signed, seized the pen from her and returned it to us, saying very loudly so she could hear "Here's your pen you were waiting for". It kind of put me off her that she would behave so rudely - not about failing to return the pen - just because she pointedly turned her back on us. Funny how one remembers small things like that. Pammie

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  9. Your outfit whilst sitting on the pleather is great. Love that you had 2 trips without the children in or near school holidays! Outstanding effort. Don't get me wrong, love my kids & help out as needed at school, sport, dance but time away is also good & very much appreciated. Den xx

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    1. Thanks Den! I can't believe I managed a couple of child free escapes during the long school hols, although the family holiday in the middle made up for it - lots of family time trapped in the car together and a lot of cooking large meals after the skiing! We haven't had a weekend away together in 4.5 years. All our other trips away involve other people, or work related events, or a wedding or something. It was so nice to just do our own thing. xx

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  10. My one and only visit to the Barossa involved a tiny little baby, so I was extremely limited! Sob!!! We did visit Rockford's. We have many bottles of their Basketpress Shiraz at home from the time my hubby was a member. He hardly drinks now, and i had to give the red wine the boot due to migraines....more sobbing..........

    Just quietly - if I had to live anywhere else in Australia apart from Sydney, I suspect I would choose Adelaide. Climate seems warm and dry, houses more affordable than Sydney, great arts scene and wonderful foodie culture.

    K

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    1. Oh my that is so sad about the Basketpress!! They had a limit on of 3 per customer at the cellar door... so we bought 6. It is very nice indeed, and that is terrible that red wine is migraine inducing for you. You'll have to come back though, even if it is more of a Shiraz kind of place, and without a baby!
      I think you'd find you'd get a great house for your money if you were moving from Sydney. We have Sydney born friends who love visiting us here because of the climate, houses, green etc. One actually said he likes shopping here (?!?). But the food and lifestyle are the drawcard over that I think!

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    2. Gosh yes - i remember your previous comments about lack of traffic. I dream of Adelaide often when it takes me 45 mins to travel 11km in the morning on school run!!!! ARGH!!!

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  11. Great post Heidi - ins't it great to have somewhere like the Barossa practically on our door step. Love the look of those lobster rolls - yum. I so don't miss kid's sport, especially when it is cold and wet. When my boys were at Junior School and the oldest played cricket, we used to take turns bringing champagne and nibbles. It was the only way to get through the boredom of Year 5 cricket on Friday afternoons! Quite a few parents tried to change their children to our team, just so they could join the happy hour! We are booked into Kingsford Homestead March next year - looking forward to it. Keep warm. Jo xxx

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    1. The only good thing about Friday night games is that the bar is open in the clubhouse! I think your cricket idea sounds fantastic. I do sometimes reflect on the fact that you spend a frantic 10 years driving them around to a million sport/ extra curricular activities, then they finish school and it just... stops!
      You'll love Kingsford - Kath, who runs it, is hilarious and a great character. The house has been beautifully done, and the breakfasts are superb (so I suspect the dinners are wonderful too). xx

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  12. I don't do taxis or uber because God forbid I share control for fifteen minutes. Can you imagine how hot one would get sitting in a pleather chair? Ew ew ew ew ew. My brother bought something like that once and I was shocked when I sat in it at how miserably uncomfortable it was! Glad your absence has been due to trips and fun things and trips. I think I'd like the Barossa Valley.

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    1. The taxi ride from the airport in Melb is 1 hour!! So it's a long trip when they have bad body odour and are yelling and swerving everywhere.
      I think those pleather chairs are very deceptive - they give the appearance of comfort, but they just have no support, and really are horrible to sit in. I think you'd love the Barossa Stephen, it's so pretty and rustic and charming, and of course all the good food and wine doesn't hurt! x

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  13. I've not done Uber yet but wine, yes, now we are talking! So interesting to learn of Australia's Barossa Valley, which sounds to be the equivalent of our Napa Valley, a place my husband and I often visit throughout the year. In fact, we just watched a rather fun film about how California's wine region got on the world's wine map. You too might be interested in viewing it if you get the chance. It's called Bottle Shock.

    Glad you managed to get away for a fun weekend after enduring mud and rain at the childrens' sports event.

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    1. It is the equivalent of the Napa CD - we have a few friends in the wine industry, and they often do stints in the Napa after finishing University here (the wine making campus is very close to the Barossa). I will go and look up the movie you've suggested, sounds interesting! Adelaide is pretty much surrounded by various wine regions - there are about 5 within a 2 hour drive, all with different grape variety focus depending on the terroir. So it's a big business here!

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  14. it's all lovely except that odd sofa! x

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    1. That wasn't even the worse! I should've got a photo of the one that has built in tray tables between each seat....

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  15. The Barossa Valley looks incredibly beautiful - also, I am quite envious of the child-free weekend! It is boiling hot here (+30C nearly every day), and the humidity is killing me. I would honestly love to have cold weather again!

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    1. Humidity is the worst! We have dry heat here, I remember Faux Fuchsia being terrified when she came to visit me and it was 38 the day she arrived - where she is from that would be stifling due to the humidity, but here, while hot it wasn't uncomfortable and she was quite surprised. Hope you get a slightly cool change soon!! xx

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  16. That smokey oyster thingy is awesome! I love oyster and am very greedy. have to have 12 to myself when I go out. I love your classic trench outfit. Hope you're having a lovely winter. you and FF both share a love for those ginger vases, they are beautiful and so versatile with every kind of decor

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  17. Thank you for the update. Those pleather loungers are awful! I can't imagine the inside of some people's homes! Glad you've been enjoying some good food and travel.

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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