A journey into fabulousness!

The beauty and delight of Sri Lanka

There is such a contrast between India and Sri Lanka and on our first time to Sri Lanka we were able to get a real taste of the beauty and so much more that surrounds you when you journey there.

There are always comparisons but some major differences were that the infrastructure was evident in all areas that we traveled in.  There are many millions of people less in Sri Lanka than India and whilst the roads are crowded, they are like driving in the country compared to India.  The country is predominantly Buddhist compared to the mainly Hindu people of India.

The temples and the beauty of the country are evident as soon as you leave the airport and head into Colombo.

Our trip involved time in Colombo and then up into the hills to head to Kandy and then back to Colombo to catch the train down to Galle.  Each place we visited offered something unique and a new experience of the country.

Colombo is in the midst of a major development and building boom but is still steeped in a strong history and some amazing temples and architecture the really get a sense of the country.

Kandy by comparison is in the hills and filled with the most amazing hillside properties, farming, tea plantations, spice farms and the ability to really enjoy the culture in a very different environment.

We were lucky to stay in the most amazing hotel that had panoramic views across the hills and valleys.  With an amazing pool and a great location it was the perfect spot to see, explore and visit the surrounds and being able to come back at the end of the day and truly unwind.


The train trip down to Galle from Colombo for the second half of our time in Sri Lanka filled me with trepidation because there were only 2 classes of travel – 2nd class and 3rd class unreserved coaches.  With memories of watching documentaries and films of people travelling with live chickens and over crowded trains that you have to stand up in I was pleasantly surprised by our 2nd class unreserved seats that allowed us to experience this unique 2 and 1/2 hour train journey down the coast.

The seats were comfortable and with open windows the breeze kept us cool all the way.  With the view of the coast as we sped towards Galle this was just an fabulous way to get to Galle (and the ticket cost $1.20 Aus!).


Galle was another amazing destination – filled with history, newly opened beach resorts, an amazing fishing village and so much more it made the last few days of our visit to Sir Lanka truly memorable.

Of course I took hundreds of photos so instead of waxing lyrical about the beauty I will stop here and share many of those photographs so you can get a real feel for what this stunning country has to offer!



If you get the chance you will not be disappointed!

India, Sri Lanka and beyond!

You know how it is…you return from a fabulous holiday and you always mean to sit down and write about how fabulous it all was and then you realise you have been back for nearly 3 weeks and have still not found the time to do it!

So here goes…this post will mostly consist of images that were taken on this trip and over the next couple of weeks I will update with more musings and fabulous highlights from the trip.

It was just over a year ago that we took our first steps into discovering India and fell in love with everything that was on offer.  It is a country of amazing contrasts and whilst our first trip was all about New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur it gave us a taste of things to come.

On our return we began to discuss going back and when we did wanting to explore and experience a different area.  So for this trip we started in Chennai and then headed to Cochi, Pererya and Mumbai, as well as 30 memorable hours on a houseboat slowly making our way through the backwaters near Alleppy.

This was another stunning trip into India and still leaves us with so much more to experience and share.

The second part of the trip was to add on a week to Sri Lanka and to experience this new country and all it had to offer.  Of course a week is not much time and so we limited ourselves to Colombo, Kandy and Galle and it gave us a real test of the beauty, culture and delight of this amazing country. The photographs from Sri Lanka will be posted in my next post!


Stay tuned for more to come and in the meantime please enjoy these countries through some of the beautiful photographs that we took on our travels.  I also plan to do another post sharing the amazing food that we once again experienced in both countries.


Millbrook Winery – divine dining

I just love it when you have heard glowing reports of the food at a restaurant and when you finally get there and find out all of the rave reviews were certainly spot on.

It was a hot, humid, sticky Sunday when we headed out to Jarrahdale to visit Millbrook Winery and have lunch.  The setting is just stunning with natural bushland all around the property .  It creates the most amazing setting and when you make your way from the wine tasting downstairs up to the restaurant the landscape comes into focus.

This is the perfect setting for a long lazy Sunday lunch.

First though so history of Millbrook…

A boutique winery and restaurant in the historic town of Jarrahdale , 50 minutes south-east of Perth. The winery is located at the Chestnut Farm, a property that backs on to the Serpentine River and is nestled among jarrah forests, with stunning vistas of the rolling landscape.

The origins of Chestnut Farm date back to the 19th century, when the original owner, Joseph Batt, planted an orchard and the first grapevines in 1865, providing fruit to the local timber-millers in Jarrahdale.

In 1996, Chestnut Farm and Millbrook Winery were bought by Peter and Lee Fogarty. The Fogartys, together with their children John, Mark and Anna, planted new vines, making the vineyard a true labour of love.

In 2001, construction of the state-of-the-art winery was completed. It is now a stunning home to a modern winemaking facility, barrel halls, a tasting room and a restaurant.

One of the things that stands out is the fact that they do not buy fruit and vegetables but source them on the property from the 90 year old orchard and the heirloom vegetable garden which is grown from last years saved seeds, as well as stone fruits, citrus, figs, apples, free range eggs, olives and honey that all come from the estate.   Nearly all of the products used are sourced locally and as sustainably as possible. These are the factors that influence how the menu evolves and created an amazing lunch for us!

You have 2 choices for lunch; either order a la carte who do the $75 three course choice which enables you to select 3 courses with the addition of olives and bread and a special course between main course and dessert to cleanse the palate.

Of course being people who love food we all chose the $75 three course option.  We all started with the Kitchen’s Choice to begin with that consisted of 3 delightful dishes.  The figs were served with popped corn and fresh corn and created the most divine tastes that were simply gorgeous.  Sitting along side this was cucumber served with lamb shoulder that melted in the mouth and tasted amazing. Finally there was the kingfish served with homegrown plums that had been prepared with salt, pepper and some sugar to create a complexity that just added another dimension to the kingfish.


This was the perfect start to our meal.

We then moved on to the main course and 3 of us chose to have the Viognier braised rabbit risotto with bacon and fennel.  This was a light, flavorful main course and the crisp bacon served on top of the risotto added another element to the flavors.


Trevor chose the stewed poverello beans that were served with 2 cuts of pork (they use the whole pig and as this dish is sold the cuts served vary) and this was served with sage oil.  The pork was succulent and full of flavor and the beans were the perfect vegetable to go with this.


Served with the main course was Chef Guy Jeffreys take on potato salad – lightly roasted potatoes served warm and served with an homemade mayonnaise under the potatoes.

We were then served fresh mulberries as a palate cleanser which was just beautiful.

Then it was time to think about dessert and for this course we all chose to try something different.

I chose the plums, mascarpone parfait, shortbread.  The plums were sweet (one of them had been grilled to add yet another dimension to the dish) and complimented the mascarpone parfait with a light crisp shortbread.  It was sensational!


Rodney had the chocolate mousse cake served with macadamia nuts and ginger ice cream.  This was a real delight and Rodney loved every mouthful.


Robbie had the trio of ice creams served hidden under a light crisp biscuit and each one complimented the other to create a stunning warm Sunday delight to finish the meal with.


Trevor completed his meal with the licorice all sorts that was served with ice cream.  This was a deconstructed idea of an all sort but it all worked so wonderfully together to create another memorable dessert.


The restaurant has been lauded and won many awards in the last couple of years. Head Chef, Guy Jeffreys, was named Chef of the Year 2017 by the West Australian Good Food Guide for “plating up food that is memorable, creative and generous” with the restaurant rated 2nd across the whole state.

Millbrook was listed as one of Australia’s Top 500 Restaurants of 2017 by the Australian Financial Review and was named in the Top 10 Restaurants in Western Australia by both Qantas Travel Insider and Gourmet Traveller magazines. Millbrook also features in the Top Regional Restaurants in Western Australia in Gourmet Traveller’s 2018 Restaurant Guide and in Broadsheet’s Restaurants of Australia.  I promise you if you make the journey out there you will not be disappointed.  It really is one of those restaurants that will stick in you mind for a long time.

Do yourself a favor and head to Millbrook, you will not be disappointed, but book before hand as they were full up on Sunday!

The restaurant is open Thursday to Monday for lunch only from 12 noon.

New Peer Mentor Program launches in Perth!

Living with HIV has changed over the past 3 – 4 years.  With modern treatment and support, HIV positive people can lead healthy and active lives.  Learning how to do this does not have to be overwhelming, and no one needs to be isolated or alone.

As part of my employment as the HIV Positive Peer Educator at the WA AIDS Council, I have been working over the past few months on putting together a new project that will enhance and support people with HIV in WA in 2018 and beyond.

The WA AIDS Council Peer Mentoring Service can provide the most current HIV information, answer questions, offer support and show how other people deal with HIV.

Peer Mentors are trained and educated on the current health issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, STI’s, self-care, disease progression, co-morbidities, HIV and aging and well-being.  Through a series of supportive discussions, they use everyday language instead of jargon or medical terminology to make topics easier to understand.

The role of a Peer Mentor is to support a person with HIV to gain knowledge and develop HIV self-management strategies, providing the important information need to achieve goals while living with HIV.

Talking with someone who is living with HIV can reduce the stress and anxiety that some people experience and also reduce isolation.  Having good mental health and social supports are important to keep HIV in check, improve emotional health in areas of self-esteem, depression, stigma and discrimination, battling isolation and building support networks.

Here in Western Australia, we are located in the largest state in Australia and the ability to reach out and work with people with HIV who are more rural and isolated is another aim of the Peer Mentors.  Through the use of modern technology such as Skype the ability to keep people connected and supported will help to reduce that sense of isolation that can be detrimental to living positively.

A Peer Mentor  is an HIV positive person who can assist other HIV positive people who are newly diagnosed or who are needing support from someone who is living with HIV to:

  • Improve emotional health
  • Understand current treatments and the role of treatments as prevention in the HIV lived experience
  • Develop disclosure strategies for meeting personal challenges
  • Navigate ‘well-being’.

The program is not limited to those who have been newly diagnosed but is also open to any person living with HIV who might want to address some of their health concerns.  Peer Mentors can assist with support around changing medications, dealing with co-morbidities and the issues of ageing while living with HIV, maximizing quality of life and also to assist in connecting people with appropriate services.

On Tuesday 23 January I will be holding an information night for people with HIV here in Perth who might like to join the program.

If you would like to register your interest then please email me at or

The Golden Globes – sending a message loud and clear! #TIMESUP

Usually at this time of year I am posting about all of the amazing fashion and some of the not so fabulous fashion that hit the red carpet during the start of the annual Hollywood awards season.  This year in deference to an amazing night with a strong message I will still be talking about the fashion but it would be remiss of me not to talk about the strong message and some of the most inspiring speeches I have heard at an awards ceremony for a long time!

With the focus being on my favorite color for clothes, black, the opportunity to create and present some incredible looks was still possible and in fact well and truly achieved.

Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars had an important message to share with women all around the world on Sunday night at the Globes. Barbra Streisand, Viola Davis, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon were among the famous faces who used the night as a platform to speak about the #TIMESUP movement; an initiative launched against sexual harassment.

The change in tone was evident on the red carpet, with almost all female attendees and most of the men, wearing head-to-toe black in a show of support for the cause. Meanwhile, many of the night’s big winners took the opportunity to make reference to #TIMESUP and share their own empowering messages with viewers during their acceptance speeches.

From Oprah’s declaration that “nobody will ever have to say ‘Me Too’ again”, to Viola Davis telling women “you are born being worthy”.


Debra Messing began on the red carpet, addressing the subject of gender inequality while talking to E! : “You know, I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts,” she said.

Barbra Streisand addressed the lack of women being honoured for directing as she announced the winner for Best Motion Picture Drama. “I heard them say something about, I was the only woman to get the Best Director award. And you know, that was 1984. That was 34 years ago,” Barbra said talking about her 1983 film Yentl. She continued. “Folks, time’s up! We need more women directors and more women to be nominated for Best Director. There are so many films out there that are so good directed by women.”


The most powerful speech of the night was from Oprah.  This was one of the most well thought out, inspiring speeches and really hit the nail on the head with each point that was made.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

This was a night that really belonged to the women present and it is my hope that moving forward the momentum can continue and with the start of the #Metoo movement last year that we finally have the strength and the voices raised to really make a difference and see the importance of standing with and supporting women who are sexually harassed, diminished, to close the gender pay gap and become better human beings.



Love Wins- but what a journey!

I am filled with such mixed emotions today now that we have Marriage Equality finally…it has been such a long road and the end result is an amazing one we must never forget how damaging this has been for so many in the LGBTQI community. Putting our community through a postal vote and making this issue one for people that have no vested interest in who I marry was demoralizing and degrading for many.

This has been a long and at times terribly negative few months that bought up memories that I had thought that I had moved on from with early days of coming out and homophobia that still exists today…add to that the smug Liberals touting the historic win and how they had made this happen and how positive it really was, when in fact we saw so much hate, sadness and anxiety throughout the community.

Why did we have to spend over $100 million to get this result when all other issues the need to be legislated on get dealt with by the people that we have elected to deal with them.

It also fascinates me that after saying he would vote with the will of his constituents and after a resounding 75% voted yes, Tony Abbott made a quick exit yesterday when the final vote occurred.  Even after he had spent most of the day supporting all of the stalling tactics of ridiculous amendments that were being presented by the right wing of the party.  In the end he did not have the guts to do what he said he would do, and after this survey was thrust on us by him and his right wing cronies.

I am so pleased and proud that I now have the chance to marry my love and partner of the last 35 years when and if we choose to but I want to also remember all those who have not survived to see this happen…we must remember that this has been a long, hard fight and whilst we celebrate we need to honor and support all those in the community that have struggled through the last months..there has been damage done.

Today we celebrate and rejoice but always remember the history of what it has taken to get us here! xxxx

#loveislove #marriageequality


One of the photos halfway through the campaign with gorgeous friends and 2 of my beautiful grandsons.

Call Me By Your Name – a brilliant new film by Luca Guadagino

I have the great pleasure to see lots of films and I have seen some great films this year but on Friday I had the great pleasure to see a film that for me is the best that I have seen this year!

It’s the early 1980s. Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is living an idyllic existence in Italy with his parents. One summer, his charmed life is disturbed by Oliver (Armie Hammer), who comes to spend six weeks with the family, helping Elio’s father. They are six weeks that will change Elio’s life forever.

Based on Andre Aciman’s novel, it’s a romance overwhelming in its intensity, a heart that swells until it has to burst and is cinematic-ally beautiful.

Elio (Chalamet) is 17 years old and living in the Italian countryside with his parents (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar). Handsome, but more boyish than he perhaps believes, Elio is confident and smart, liked by everyone who meets him. Every room he enters is his. But he is thrown off balance by the arrival of Oliver (Hammer), a twentysomething who has come to stay to assist Elio’s father in his work. Oliver looks like the American ideal distilled into a single man. And with his charm, looks and presence outstripped, Elio is immediately transfixed and consumed with Oliver.

Call me 1

Guadagnino’s telling of the development of this romance, which changes both parties, is simple yet complex on so many levels.  He fills every scene with life. Trees are heavy with fruit; people are always eating; the chirping of crickets a constant soundtrack.  Long summer days melt away with a gentle routine of swimming, cycling and time doing nothing.

The screenplay, written by James Ivory, is elegant and full of small surprises. The level of attention given to even the smallest of characters means so many of them have an impact even with minimal screen time — Elio’s brief girlfriend breaks your heart with a handful of lines with her presence, vulnerability and sincerity. The few vocal emotional outpourings are powerful and earned — a final paternal monologue by Stuhlbarg  late in the film is as verbose as the film gets and its impact is immense (bring tissues). But much is conveyed in the many silences which are entrusted to an excellent cast – the looks and all that is left unsaid.

Chalamet is the centre and he gives the kind of performance that immediately sends you to Google to find out where the hell this kid came from, because he gives a performance that will stay with you long after the lights of the cinema have come up. All Elio’s teenage emotions are raw on Chalamet’s skin. He plays him as a person still forming, not scared by his feelings but surprised. In a film in which every performance is terrific, Chalamet makes the rest look like they’re acting. He alone would make the film worth watching, but he’s just one of countless reasons.

Armie Hammer brings a beautifully, complex and at time unreadable to Oliver and his connection with all of the people who come into his orbit make for another stand out performance in this film.

This is a film that’s  full of joy but also emotionally devastating, with deeply affecting performances. A romantic masterpiece that you will long remember, think about and dissect.

If you are going to see one film this Christmas (it opens on Boxing Day) then this is the film you must see.

Trailer for Call My By Your Name

Novotel Karon Beach – a great family stay!


We have just finished a week’s vacation at the Novotel in Karon Beach. This is our second stay here and the hotel is still as good as it was when we first stayed here 3 years ago. The family was 5 adults, one teenager and 4 children aged between 1 and 6. We booked three rooms and had a great, safe time here. The staff were always helpful – especially when we were dealing with crying infants.

We purchased two ‘ACCOR Advantage plus’ cards (and got a third complimentary one) so the room prices were very good value. The ‘buy one get one’ deals at the restaurants also made it a relatively cheap experience. Staff had no problems dealing with the cards although we had to sign three bills. If you read the conditions for this service and know how it works, it can be very useful when travelling in Asia and the savings with a family of this size really add up over a week.

The location of the hotel is one of its best assets, being a 10 minutes ride from Patong and a 5 minute walk to Karon Beach. We were able to visit the ‘full-on’ life of Patong and return to the safe environment of the hotel, when the kids had had enough. We ended up investing in a baby sitter for the two littlest children which made the two trips to Patong much more enjoyable.

The white colour scheme of the hotel seems designed to emphasise the contrast with the hustle and bustle of Patong. Being so close to Karon Beach is also a bonus as there are lots of shops (for sodas, laundry services and pharmacies). This is a busy tourist area in itself and easier to visit but does not have the same full on atmosphere as Patong and is easier to get around and no where near as crowded which makes it a nice walk when you have had enough time at the pool.

The rooms were set up for the young children with rollout beds, soft toys and chocolates for them on arrival. The food choices in the restaurants always included a kids menu (chips, nuggets, pizza etc) so their eating was not a problem and they really enjoyed the resort as it is really set up for families and caters for them really well.

Unfortunately most of the family, except me and grandson number 2,  caught a stomach bug on the second day and over the seven nights, at least one of us was vomiting at any one time. It as also the wet season which meant leaving the hotel was not easy, so most of our time was spent in the hotel. This was not a problem as the kids club and pool kept the children occupied and we all enjoyed having down time with still being able to keep the children entertained and happy.

The only downside to the hotel is the lack of food options for adults once you enjoy the breakfast, which was really good. There appears to be one kitchen for the whole hotel and the same food appears on the menu of all of the restaurants. The nightly buffet was perhaps the worse, as most of the nights it was held indoors due to the rain. The number of food varieties was poor and they had low numbers of staff, which meant that often the food stations were not refilled quickly. The worse was the ‘Italian night’ – which I will not even try to describe because it was poorly created, the food was unimaginative and there was very little choice.  We had no option on a number of nights but to partake in the buffet and it was the only negative in our stay at the hotel.


There are a number of beachfront restaurants over the road. These looked good, and we would have eaten here, but with with our stomach bugs it was easier not to and just enjoy the hotel.


Overall this is a good hotel, especially if you have children who would love the kids club, the kids pool and the friendly atmosphere that the staff create.  Every morning the breakfast restaurant is visited by a Minion and both Xander and Kyen were over the moon and loved the attention that they received with the visitor. It is these little things the kids loved and made it a great place for the family to be staying at.


We then packed the kids back to Perth and Trevor and I headed to the JW Marriott Hotel on Khao Lak which took us to another level and when comparing things like the buffets, the chefs from the Novotel should jump in a can and take some lessons from the amazing offerings at the Marriott. Although we only did 2 buffet dinners they were top class, great ranges, professional service and amazing value…but more about the Marriott in my next post. But I suppose that is the difference between a 4 star and a 5 star resort you expect and we certainly received amazing service and food options at the Marriott.

Toughen Up Princess!


Here we are on a continuous roll call of arguments, counter-arguments, vile attacks and vitriol as we head to November and the results of the Marriage Equality postal survey that we ‘had’ to have.

And here I sit, following the last few years of discussions about an issue that really does not affect everyone and I find myself beginning to struggle with all of the negative words I see, articles that are printed and negativity that is being presented on a daily basis.

I really thought that I was much more resilient than this and if those politicians on the “right’ think we should just all toughen up and deal with it then they are obviously coming from a privileged white middle class male space, where they have not had to deal head on with hate speech, divisive comments and so much more.

As we are more and more connected through social media it is hard to miss the negative messages that seem to seep into even the filtered content.  It really is disheartening to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being peddled to try and get people to vote to stop two people who love each other from getting married.

Of course that is because if they just talked about that people would not engage, instead they have to wrap their arguments up in safe schools, children, ‘stolen generations’, religious freedom and so much more.  It fascinates me that we have to dress something so simple up in complex, confusing lies.

As is said in my previous post we need to remember that we are all human beings and we all deserve respect, thoughtful discussion and a sense of fairness when coming to the decision on which way we want to vote.  I may not agree with people who want to vote no but I will never attack them for that right.  We are a democracy and as flawed as this whole process is, I wish for a more measured, fair and respectful debate!

My partner and I, after 35 years together, may not choose to get married when it finally becomes legal for us to do so, but we will always fight for the right for other same sex couples to get married because at the end of the day it is all about equality and nothing more!yes

I would like to say that I could ‘toughen up princess’, but the daily attacks and negatives have started to have an affect on me, and other people around me, so I am quite happy that I am leaving for annual leave on Monday for 3 weeks so that I can have a rest from this debate for a while and hopefully come back with some of that resilience restored so I can continue to talk, listen and engage with people on why a YES vote is so important.


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