It's great to finally - after the fact - disclose that we had a trip to Melbourne planned. One of my best friends from boarding school (friends for life) had already surprised me by arriving for my 40th birthday party in October.
Once I'd got over the surprise, it was fantastic to quietly snigger-snort that we would be surprising her for her birthday a few weeks later. (This was quite a step for me, given that I had previously been at risk of forgetting it was a surprise and blurting out 'We'll see you in Melbourne' on the phone). Born just twelve days apart, and with surnames alphabetically aligned, Fleur and I were boarding school bunk mates in third form and have been friends ever since. Which by the time you're 40, makes for quite a bit of history.
These days, we live on opposite sides of the Tasman, and time together is precious. The eight of us that descended on Melbourne had a fantastic fun time (except poor baby Campbell whose high temps made things a bit interesting for his mum and dad!)
As a foodie, I had heard good things about Melbourne and our visit can only confirm it's not a destination to choose if you're counting your kilojoules. Far too many good things on display, begging to be tasted. Highlights would have to be breakfast in the Lanes, coffee, macarons and strawberry tarts late one night after tapas, the markets and a breakfast to die for in the form of pastries from renowned patissier Adriano Zumbo - which Fleur walked 4km in the morning to get. The Yarra Valley wines weren't bad either, and I would highly recommend a visit to Pimpernel if you are visiting the Yarra. You won't find it on the wine map, but the locals know where it is, and so of course, does Google.
I always get a kick out of seeing people crafting something to a high standard. In my experience, people who are passionate about what they do have a magic about them that is all their own. One of the joys of a big city is that there is plenty of diversity - a population where you can be sure to find someone specialising in almost anything you care to search for. And quite a few things you've never thought to.
So a belated Happy Birthday to my beautiful friend! And thanks for a wonderful trip xx