Weekend Getaway to the Blue Mountains

For my final #painthetownford challenge, I decided to go on a much needed weekend getaway (computer in tow as working was still required). In the typical fashion of the Murphy's and their silly laws, the day before we were due to depart for a little weekend away to the Blue Mountains, newsreaders across Sydney declared it would be best to stay indoors as "Rainmageddon" was upon us. I don't know about you, but a little apocalyptic rainfall was not going to get in the way of my break. If there's anything that makes the mountains more romantic, it's rain and mist.

I've always wanted to stay at The Carrington Hotel, it carries a decidedly "The Shining" vibe about it, and there's something about the slightly off-kilter grande old dame atmosphere that draws me in. Unfortunately it was fully booked out, so we opted for something on the opposite end of the spectrum, an eco resort called "Old Leura Dairy". There are various styles and sizes of accommodation to choose from at the dairy, we decided on the Milking Shed, which had a lovely fireplace and loft bedroom. The interior is a mish-mash of recycled building materials and found objects which gives it a lovely eclectic homey feeling. I especially loved the entryway, a couple of huge old barn doors that swung open to reveal our cosy cave for the weekend.

As we drove into the mountains from Sydney, I watched the temperature indicator on the car drop, approximately 1ºC for each town we passed through. By the time we arrived in Leura, it was a chilly 7º. Thankfully the Ford Kuga Titanium has built in seat-warmers, so we were none the wiser in our toasty cocoon-on-wheels. Despite the rain, we cobbled together another short film of our trip - I'm thinking of making this a more regular thing! It's such a fun way to preserve your memories.

Kitty & Buck | Mountain Escape from Kitty & Buck on Vimeo

Since we were unable to have a sleepover in The Carrington, we opted for a quick pre-dinner drink instead. It's the perfect way to soak up the ambience if you're just in Katoomba for a day trip, or prefer a different type of accommodation. The ascent to the front door is accompanied by the most delightful wafts from the flower garden. The only way to make the ground more appealing, would be to install a hedge maze, taking it one step closer to Stanley Kubrick's vision. The barmen were extremely obliging with my unusual request for tea instead of a gin and tonic, and my questions about the VIP room (a very appealing balcony that was built for the Duke and Duchess of York's visit in 1927 - it was never used by them and is now relegated to a structurally unsound temptation, rather than a functional sitting area).

The following day, as tempting as it was to play scrabble in our 'shed', we decided to indulge in one of the best activities to do on the mountains, rain or not: Antique hunting. Oh, and book hunting. Our first stop (always) is Mr Pickwick's on Katoomba Street, home of antiquities, a wide range of amazing vintage clothing, and around 60,000 books. We were lucky enough to find Mr Pickwick himself behind the counter, who kindly obliged our request for a photo (complete with mischievous glint in his eye). I scored a first edition of Alp by William Hjortsberg. If you love kid's books, there is an absolute goldmine of vintage children's literature in the basement book cave.

The lovely township of Leura called us back from lunch, where we shoehorned ourselves into the extremely popular Red Door Cafe. Bellies full, we trundled around the main street of Leura, taking in the sights. We discovered a Japanese Ceramic store which was disappointingly closed. It's bookmarked in my brain for a future investigation.

Since it was early afternoon and the mist was showing no signs of clearing, we decided to brave a wander down to Sublime Point. It's a little more secluded than the big Three Sisters lookout, and we hoped, less exposed to the elements. It was raining, cold and windy, but quite spectacular to see the vague shapes of the mountains in the white void. We didn't linger as the wind was doing it's best to whip our umbrellas into the great beyond and we didn't fancy following them.

Our final stop on the way back to Sydney is the best bookstore I've found in Australia and only second to the incredible backyard shed/shop full of first editions we stumbled across in Woodstock, VT. If you're in the Blue Mountains area, be sure to check in at Lamdha Books. It's a small shop, but packed full of gems. I managed to score a Flann O'Brien book that I haven't seen anywhere else and C grabbed a copy of Fantomas. We had a lovely conversation about jazz with Michael, the friendly owner and prolonged our return home as long as we could. Eventually we couldn't postpone the inevitable and we had the Kuga carry us home one final time before I was relegated back to my vintage Mazda. Thanks for the good times Kidspot and Ford, we had a blast!



I'm participating in the #paintthetownford challenge as part of the Kidspot Voices 2014 competition. Ford has provided me with a Ford Kuga Titanium for six weeks as part of this challenge. This is the final post of three in my series, you can read the previous posts here:

Post 1: Market Dreams

Post 2: Rural Escape

All opinions expressed in this post are my own. You can follow along with the other bloggers participating by searching the hashtag #paintthetownford and #voicesof2014.

Market Dreams

I have some really exciting news for you today, and I can't believe I didn't spill the beans earlier. You may have noticed the little button in my sidebar that proclaims my inclusion in the Top 40 Beauty & Lifestyle Bloggers for the Kidspot Voices of 2014 campaign? Well, I'm extremely humbled to say that I've been chosen to participate in the "Paint The Town Ford" challenge! For the past couple of weeks, I've been cruising around town in a brand new Ford Kuga Titanium, which I must say, is quite a step up from "Arnie", my little Mazda who is missing the door handles and has at least 3000 spiders living on him (I still love you Arnie!) Over the next month or so, I'll be taking the Kuga out on some adventures, snapping tonnes of photos, and having an all around nice time with my new ride.

For our first adventure, my pal Vanessa and I headed into Eveleigh Farmer's Markets, which is located in Carriageworks. If you're not familiar with the location, let me set the scene... All the way back in the mid-century, my grandfather worked here as a railway man! The building is heritage listed and it is the original workshop where Sydney train carriages were built from the 1880's through to the 1970's. While not as grand, it does remind me of an Australian version of Gare du Nord in Paris, with it's high ceiling, arched windows and industrial interior (the brick walls are incredible). The workshops have now been transformed into an arts hub, with everything from fashion week to theatre productions showing within it's walls.

I dragged myself out of bed on a Saturday at 7am (unheard of) in preparation for some farmer's market goodness. These markets have been going on for some time, but I've never quite been motivated enough to make it before. The grand hall was bustling with folk stocking up on breakfast, organic produce and farm fresh cheese, meat and flowers. But our first stop: Caffeine. Very important.

Once we'd warmed our hands on the paper coffee cups, it was time for a wander. We were both amazed at how many dogs were in attendance! Every shape and size, they trotted alongside their owners, oblivious to the masses of people. There was even a doggy treat stand selling organic dog biscuits.

A little further along, there was quite a crowd at the dumpling bar. I have no problem with eating dumplings for breakfast, but was a little surprised to see so many people on the same wavelength, until I spotted the famous chef Kylie Kwong cooking up a storm. No dumplings for me today, but I'll come mentally prepared for a dumpling breakfast next time.

The best thing about organic markets is discovering new and unusual fruit and vegetables. I've never seen brussels sprouts on a stalk before! I also discovered a stand selling bush tomatoes and another with Rosella cordial. In the end I stuck to a few staples, unwaxed granny smith apples, rainbow chard, leeks and beetroot. At the mushroom stall, I was tempted to make some kind of incredible Asian stir-fry, but it was too early in the morning for adventurous thinking and we opted for some Portobellos instead (they made amazing burgers!) We picked up some lavender, poppies, succulents and jonquils to spruce up our homes. Finally, there was an emergency stop at the Sonoma stand for some of their incredible bread. Vanessa: Spelt Rye. Me: Spelt Fruit Loaf.

With the shopping done, we made a beeline for the seats under the gas heater and scarfed down (ahem, daintily nibbled) some freshly made crepes. We headed back to the car and I tested out one of the best features, the hands free, key free boot (trunk) opening. A simple kick under the rear bumper tells the motion sensor that I want in, and because the key is in range, it opens automatically. I recommend amazing the general public by proclaiming "Open Sesame" while you do it.

Our haul safely stashed, we enjoyed the gorgeous sunny day that had emerged from the wintery morning and headed back home. Eveleigh Farmers Markets was so much fun, I'll definitely be back. I have my eye on the Billy Kwong stand and also spotted a Pho stall that I wouldn't mind checking out too. There's nothing better than a farmer's market visit on a weekend morning! I may have found myself a new habit.



What I Wore | Glittering Black

It's been a long time since I posted an outfit, a combination of rainy weather and lots of work on meaning I haven't had the time nor inclination. This outfit post brings exciting news, though! Over the weekend I attended my very first blog event, a blogging masterclass followed by a cocktail party which was put on by the Kidspot Voices of 2014 folks. And the reason why I was there? Kitty & Buck has somehow managed to land in the top 40 Australian Beauty & Lifestyle blogs for 2014!! How exciting is that? I'm so flattered and grateful to be in the running, after being selected from over 1000 nominations. It's totally mind boggling! I met so many new Aussie bloggers, and caught up with a few that I haven't seen in awhile.

The masterclass covered topics from the best ways to utilise Facebook and social media, to privacy issues and my favourite, how to create a successful side project to your blog - It was exciting to see inspiring ladies like Luisa Brimble, Pip Lincolne and Jaclyn Carlson share their experience and ideas.
Since the dress code was 'casual' for the masterclass and 'cocktail' for the evening party, I thought I'd try something outside of my usual comfort zone and donned this sparkly number. Plus, it was a serious experiment to see if I could be 7ft tall... Not my usual style at all, but it was fun to get dressed up for the night! Besides that, you can flip the sequins around to make crazy patterns. That in itself should sell this dress to you ;)
C and I decided to stay near the venue for the evening and booked a room in the Medusa Hotel. I was sold when I read reviews comparing it to New Orleans! It was definitely a little more modern than anywhere I visited in NOLA, but still had the spirit, with a definite Sydney flavour. These crazy colours lit up the courtyard outside our room, giving it a very Darlinghurst (ahem, Darlo) vibe.

The overall winners won't be announced until later in the year, I'll keep you in the loop. You can check out the full list of finalists here.
jacket // borrowed from C!


Best of 2013 - Music + Gigs

We went to a bunch of shows in 2013, here's a selection of the most memorable.

2001: A Space Odyssey | I love this film and was so excited to see a live performance of the soundtrack accompanied by a screening of the film in the Sydney Opera House. I learned one valuable lesson. Even though I know the movie by heart and don't need to sit in the front row, the nosebleed seats in the Sydney Opera House are near impossible to bear. So squishy and high up it was nauseating. Duly noted. Other than that it was incredible to see the film brought to life with a live orchestra. I never tire of hearing a huge group of musicians show off their talents.

Bat For Lashes | Natasha Khan is just lovely. This show was plain wonderful on every level. The crowd were polite and calm (!) and Ms. Lashes was the epitome of professional. Her performance was fun and she sounded great. She wore a beautiful rainbow cape ensemble from local designers Romance Was Born and just put on a fabulous show, complete with humble thank-you's after each song. There was much dancing and the odd awkward karaoke moment.

Zelda Symphony | Geek out alert! We took a friend who is a fellow avid Zelda fan along to the Opera House to hear the Zelda Symphony Performance. (It's always a good excuse to take someone to something you want to see too!) Again, it's exciting to see a performance inside the Opera House and I was doubly excited to spot one of my old classmates from school playing violin! She always practised so hard, so I'm really proud that she has achieved that level of success. The Zelda music was cool too.

Dead Can Dance | Another show at the Opera House. I was looking forward to this show, but the crowd and perhaps something with the band was a bit off. I wanted to enjoy it, but we ended up leaving a bit early. Lisa Gerrard has such an amazing voice though, which we were both in awe of.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor | This show was just incredible. I really love Godspeed, so maybe I am biased, but I was drawn in and throughly admire the hypnotic nature of this music. It was great to see the gradual build up of their songs performed live.

Cat Power | Oh, Chan. We saw Cat Power when she did the Jukebox tour and waited with some misgivings for her to appear on stage. The previous time she was in Sydney (I heard), she broke down on stage and was heckled by some fine members of our city as she hid behind the piano. When she eventually appeared, she put on a brilliant show. This time. Jeez. I don't know. Her performance was amazing, her voice is beautiful, but it was sad to watch her seek attention in such a negative fashion by constantly referring to her drug and alcohol abuse. I hope she sorts herself out because her music is beautiful but she seems like such a fragile lady.

The Drones | Great Australian rock band - please don't spit on the Opera House though. It felt odd to have a super loud show inside the concert hall with drunk people spilling beer on the nice seats. Maybe it was just a weird juxtaposition that I couldn't resolve. Normally The Drones are amazing but I don't think they're a sit down kinda band, you know?

Blade Runner/Vangelis | Another orchestra performance, this time of another favourite film, Blade Runner. It was pretty great, although the cello player had his mobile on in his bag on stage and it kept transmitting through the speakers. Kinda distracting. The music was beautiful though, it definitely transports you to a futuristic rainy cityscape.

Goblin | The Italian masters of horror soundtrack fame (Suspiria, anyone?) did not disappoint. At all. The original members are getting on, but they rocked out like it was the best night of their lives. At the end they turned on the lights to check out the crowd and thanked us profusely. The amount of fun they were having was contagious, it was just great to witness. And that keyboard rack... oh boy. What an amazing collection of beautiful instruments.

Sonalio | We finally managed to catch our friend, Takuto's band in Tokyo. It was really fun watching the opening acts, who were, in my opinion, a Japanese version of post-rock style. (There's probably a proper genre, but I'm hopeless with the specifics of that stuff) There was a lot of spoken word which was super emotional and serious, I wish I could have understood. Sonalio put on an amazing show, damn these guys are good! Takuto is a fellow motion graphics designer and he created a really cool projection show. I'm so happy we were in Tokyo at the right time to be invited to such a special night. (and how great is it that the show was called "Teddy Party"? I love Japan.)
Takuto rocking out on his bass :)

Sleep | Another gig I was super excited for that the crowd kinda ruined for me. If you're familiar with Sleep, you'll know that they play really heavy, slow music. Honestly, I've never seen a more violently excited group of stoners(?). The moshpit was kind of out of control with fist-fights, head butting and general mayhem. We stayed for awhile, but got fed up fairly quickly and watched from the edges. Since when did doom music incite such rage? (Is that a silly question?) Meh. That's Sydney for you. Like that one time we went to see Guitar Wolf and a skinhead threw a glass at Guitar Wolf's face and broke his tooth :( The next time we went to see Guitar Wolf, the gig was full of "loli girls", go figure.

We saw sunn o))) and Boris in Melbourne a few years back, (same kinda scene as Sleep) and it was a pretty laconic gig. Maybe that highlights the difference between Sydney and Melbourne? (no rivalry guys, we know who's better - and I'm a traitor)

But I digress. Looking back at 2013, we went to so many big shows, I can hardly believe it! There seemed to be a wealth of great music going on in our city this year. Did you see any amazing bands this year? I'd love to find out if we have music tastes in common, or what kind of shows you've been to :)


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