Head and Heart – 2016

on Life  

What a year! I’m now in that wonderful zone between Christmas and the new year, where I can spend my days at home working on my own projects and napping whenever I feel like it. Having travelled in January for the past few years, it’s nice to have a quiet, relaxing and reflective time to round out 2016.

I haven’t been the best blogger in this space this year, but here’s what I’ve been up to.


Adventures in Oaxaca

on Travel  

Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, is known for its food, culture, chocolate and mezcal – just my kind of place.

We stayed in a quirky little AirBnB place with a rustic kitchen and four friendly dogs, a walkable distance from the vibrant town centre. The streets of central Oaxaca are full of personality with brightly coloured colonial style buildings, street art, sign painting, and pot plants everywhere! As a major tourist destination in Mexico it’s all very nicely manicured and catered to the industry, although we did a couple of tours during our stay which took us a little off the beaten path. For a quiet day we visited the beautiful old monastery, now a museum, which detailed the history of the region and had an awesome exhibition of vintage illustrated music posters.

Being around the new year, the atmosphere was festive and busy, although we left things too late to book anything special for New Year’s Eve and ended up falling asleep before midnight after a stay-in dinner of pastries and beer. On our last night in Oaxaca, we stopped to eat paletas and watch a wedding celebration in the street, complete with traditional dancers and a marching band.

Foodie Notes

There’s a LOT for foodies to love in Oaxaca – here’s a few places we visited:

  • Paletas – popsicles – are sold from little street carts everywhere and come in a very large number of flavours, some more unusual than others.
  • Mole – complex spiced sauces – are a must in Oaxaca, and it’s quite different even to other regions that serve mole. It comes in many varieties, coloured by the kinds of chillies used and in the case of mole negro (black mole), cacao.
  • As with most (all?) of Mexico, pretty much everything is served with soft corn tortilla – necessary for mopping up sauce or mole.
  • Mezcal is similar to tequila, a drink which holds memories of low quality shots in clubs for me – but I find it a lot more palatable. It still uses the agave plant but is tied to different regions, and often has a delicious smokey flavour. We didn’t manage to get a booking in the Mezcaloteca, but the bottle shop next door was obliging in giving us a free tasting and explanation of the varieties.
  • Hot chocolate might be a little different to what you’re used to – it’s sweet, spiced and traditionally mixed with hot water rather than milk (I still prefer it milky!).
  • Chapulines – fried grasshoppers – sound and look a bit confronting, but actually make great beer snacks. They mostly taste like the spices they are fried with.


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Winter Down South (with a dog)

on Travel  

To celebrate both mine and The Boy’s birthdays this year, we headed down south again – this time with our little puppy Jasper. Here’s a self-indulgent post of food, beaches and puppy.

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The rainy July weather unfortunately isn’t ideal for doing the kind of things we hoped to do with Jasper in tow – hiking, playing at the beach and visiting dog friendly cafes (which tend to only be dog friendly if you sit outside). It did however mean a relaxing long weekend of lounging in the dog-friendly studio apartment we rented via AirBnB (who run Temper Temper Chocolate), napping, reading, drinking wine and eating cheese.

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Staying right next to the beach, we managed to dash out during breaks in rain for quick walks with a deliriously happy Jasper. Even in the cold and wet weather, I’m always struck by how beautiful our bit of the world is. It also made for some pretty dramatic rainbows!

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We only managed one wine tasting stop, at the wonderfully welcoming Stella Bella Wines, the most dog friendly cellar door in the region. The best thing about wine tasting in winter (and at 11am at that…) is actually getting a chance to chat to the staff about the wine rather than just quaffing it. Since it’s possible to get some of the Stella Bella wines in bottleshops in Perth, I made sure to try some of the more special cellar door ones. Everything was impressive, but the Otro Vino was a favourite.

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Whilst the son of our hosts looked after Jasper, we ducked away for a fancy celebratory lunch at Knee Deep Wines. They had a bit of an Asian Fusion thing going on (but in a good way), although admittedly I was glad to have the more Western slow cooked beef with potatoes main, which felt more appropriate for the weather.

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I think we’ll have to bring Jasper again in warmer weather so we can go on longer walks and have more beach time as planned, but it was still a nice way to celebrate turning 31.down south July 2016-33