Ladies who glamp – a night at St Jerome’s – The Hotel, Melbourne

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St Jerome’s – The Hotel
http://www.stjeromesthehotel.com.au/

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I am beyond lucky to have this woman in my life. My best friend and soul sister, one of the only people who truly gets me and accepts me completely as I am. Someone I have never felt the need to censor myself around (there are only, like, 2 or 3 of those humans in my life). We’ve worked together and travelled together, laughed together and cried together. Any time I’ve needed her, she’s been there without fail and without even needing to be asked. She’s without a doubt the most generous person I know, with her time and money and talents. I’ve never seen her hesitate to help anyone needing it. She’s stronger than you’d think, takes no shit, and somehow manages to keep her smile and optimism in tact even in the face of the most stressful, hurtful, heart breaking situations.

And this beautiful lady treated me to the most spectacular birthday present ever – a night at St Jerome’s roof top hotel in Melbourne   : )

The level 3 rooftop at Melbourne Central was converted into one of the most stunning camping ground in the world, where glamping is taken to the next level. The tents (with heating, air conditioning, electric blanket and electricity) are cozy little cocoons in which to spend the night with a favourite person. You have a perfect view of the old Daimaru cone, the old Myer building, and the stars… You also get all of the following:


* 24-hour reception and the ability to text the crew at any time if you need a hand with anything at all. And they are without a doubt the most friendly, helpful, lovely bunch of people you could hope to meet!

* Nice big bathrooms with all of your toiletries from shampoo to make up remover.

* Complimentary stocked esky with local craft beer, cider and water in your tent.

* Gourmet house-made breakfast box, delivered to your tent.
–– Butter croissants
–– Yarra Valley preserves
–– Fruit and nut granola
–– Banana and chocolate chip banana bread
–– Fresh seasonal fruit salad
–– Juices by Noah’s
–– Fresh milk
–– Coffee bags by Robert Timms
–– Fully biodegradable cutlery and crockery
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* On-the-house coffee for early campers from 7.30am to 9am.

* Sweet treats from Cupcake Central from 3pm to 5pm.

* Complimentary cocktail during Cocktail Hour from 5pm to 7pm.

* Complimentary Grill’d sliders (x 2) and chips, per tent (8:30pm or 9:30pm).

* Voucher for complimentary pizza at Slice Girls.
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* Complimentary bowling at Strike Bowling.

* Complimentary meditation classes in the mornings on weekends.

* Custom-made dessert from Gelato Messina delivered to your tent (1 per tent) – we got a Messina S’Mores kit, complete with blow torch! That was FUN!!
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* The General Store, where you can enjoy beer, wine, cocktails and an incredible platter of antipasti.
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We enjoyed a cocktail at The General Store and our Slice Girls pizza around the corner at Thousand Pound Bend. Then we made our way back to our tent and sat out the front in our fluffy white robes, eating our sliders and making s’mores and watching the stars. We woke up with a fantastic meditation class, had a tent picnic with a pile of pillows and our delicious breakfast box, then opened up our tent to the sunshine and snuggled under a blanket like kids. I left feeling like a new person.

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I am so thankful for having had the chance to relax and re-set and re-calibrate.
I’m thankful for the fact that I’m still here.
I’m thankful for the life I’ve managed to create for myself, the life that I didn’t even bother dreaming about because I never thought I’d have it.
I’m thankful for my stubborn streak that’s never allowed me to give up or give in.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the angels in my life who love me oh so much and share such incredible experiences with me  : )

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Read this: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive
Matt Haig

I don’t even know how or where to start in describing such an incredible important book… HUGE thank you to Paula from @booksfordessert for  recommending this one!

Basically, Matt Haig, like so many other people, was suffering from depression. He got to a point in his life, again like so many others, where he had to make the big decision so many depressives face: do I end my life, or do I battle on? He decided to battle on, and this book is about all the reasons why he did, and maybe some reasons why you should, too.

The problem with most “self-help” books out there is that they’re written by “professionals.” I don’t care how many doctorates you have – if you’ve never actually suffered the agony and torment that is depression, nothing you say is going to be helpful. Because you can’t write it from a place of true understanding. That’s where Matt’s book is different. He isn’t a doctor or “professional;” he’s a real guy who really suffered and really gets it. And he’s one of the lucky ones that have come out the other side.

Personally, I think that if you have suffered from depression or anxiety, or someone you love is struggling with it all (which should cover just about everyone on the planet), this should really be required reading. Why? Because it is a deadly, nasty disease:

Suicide is now – in places including the UK and US – a leading cause of death, accounting for over one in a hundred fatalities. According to figures from the World Health Organization, it kills more people than stomach cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, colon cancer, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s. As people who kill themselves are, more often than not, depressives, depression is one of the deadliest diseases on the planet. It kills more people than most other forms of violence – warfare, terrorism, domestic abuse, gun crime – put together… Yet people still don’t think depression really is that bad.

So what should we do? Talk. Listen. Keep adding to the conversation… Keep reiterating, again and again, that depression is not something you have to ‘admit to,’ it is a human experience. It is not you, it is simply something that happens to you. And something that can often be eased by talking. Where talk exists, so does hope.

This book is brilliant, because it’s written in a way that can be understood, whether you’re being followed by the black cloud or not. This particular passage is a good start:

It’s hard to explain depression to people who haven’t suffered from it. It’s like explaining life on earth to an alien. The reference points just aren’t there.

The main thing is the intensity of it. It does not fit within the normal spectrum of emotions. When you are in it, you are really in it. You can’t are outside it without stepping outside of life, because it is life. It is your life. Every single thing you experience is filtered through it. Consequently, it magnifies everything. At its most extreme, things that an everyday normal person would hardly notice have overwhelming effects.

For me, this book was particularly poignant because of the incredible similarities and parallels I drew to my life – he speaks about how some depressives use travel as a means of alleviating the pain, which I’ve found to be incredible true, and have written about a little here. The other thing that’s been a massive part of my life and that’s always gotten me through the worst times (and this goes back as early as five year old me who had paralysing nightmares and what I now recognise as mini child-sized anxiety attacks) is words. Pure and simple. Reading and writing has been my lifeline. And Matt touches on this perfectly:

There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don’t really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping.

One cliche attached to bookish people is that they are lonely, but for me books were my way out of being lonely. If you are the type of person who thinks too much about stuff then there is nothing lonelier in the world than being surrounded by a load of people on a different wavelength.

This book arrived on my doorstep at such a perfect time (while I’m not religious or superstitious or anything like that, I do believe that the universe has a way of giving you exactly what you need exactly when you need it); September is testing me. I’m struggling a LOT right now with my mental health. We just had R U OK? Day which I wrote about last week, and am really hoping helped even just one person out there. My Don’t be a D.N.B. shirt (proceeds of which went to Didi Hirsch who work in mental health for women, and particularly body image issues) arrived on a day where disordered eating was at an all time high (or low, I guess). And we’re also in the midst of Liptember, which is a campaign held in September to raise funds and more importantly awareness for women’s mental health by wearing some brightly coloured lippy – I’m horrible with lipstick (make up in general really – all I own is mascara, some eye shadow I was gifted for a Christmas 8 odd years ago, and some eye liner I don’t know how to apply and have therefore only used twice), but I’m donning the bright red on my more confident days this month!

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If you’re struggling, if you know someone who’s struggling, if you want to try to understand this deadly disease a little better, please pick up a copy of this book – it will only take you a few hours to read, and you never know what difference it might make 🙂

 

Read this: Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves

Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents
by Elisabeth Eaves

I recently finished reading this book, which really didn’t take me very long – it had me totally caught up from start to finish. It’s Elisabeth’s story of her life on the road, how her wanderlust developed, and where it took her, as well as the love and heartbreak she experienced on the way. It chronicles her travels from the craziness of Cairo to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, going back home to Canada and travelling to Australia, and just about everything in between!

It gave a really honest look into the wanderings and musings of a truly free spirit, and it certainly awakened something in me that made me question what I was doing with my life – why, when I know there’s more out there, do I limit myself to easily achievable goals? Why am I so scared that something will go wrong, and it if does, what’s the worst than can happen? These sort of questions are the ones Elisabeth answers for herself, and there’s some really though-provoking stuff in there that’ll hopefully be a catalyst for change for you as it was for me.

 

You can get your own copy here – enjoy the read  : )

Photo Essay: Nonna Gemma’s frittelle

I’ve tried to start this post a few times, and haven’t been able to do it right. Haven’t been able to do it justice. There’s too much history to tell, too many stories. So, let’s try to keep it simple.

 

My Nonna Gemma was one hell of a woman. She was my grandmother, and I, her first grandchild. We had a special relationship and meant a lot to each other. She taught me to knit, to sew by hand, to speak Italian, to cook, to clean, and to stand strong and fight. She herself fought through four enormous brain tumours, the first of which presented towards the front of her head, the size of a grapefruit, a few years ago now. They kept coming back and she kept fighting. She fought them off over and over again, but last June, sadly, her fight was finally over. We didn’t want to let her go, but she fought with all of the dignity and grace of warrior princess, and she had certainly and finally earnt her peace in Heaven.

 

When I think of Nonna, I think of her little wooden kitchen with the beautiful green plants outside the window. I think of her sewing room where I’d happily sit for hours on the tiled floor with a bucket of buttons, a scrap of material, a needle and thread, sewing away, oblivious to the world. I think of the spare bedroom where I used to sleep, with her jewellery box sitting on the dressing table, sparkling in the light, where I’d dream of the day I’d be old enough to be a lady in jewels. I think of her taking me along to visit her friends on school holidays, where they’d hug me and pinch my cheeks and send me home with biscuits. I think of the tree in the driveway that I used to climb to the first branch of, and sit, and look at the garden. I think of her dry sense of humour, ridiculous sarcasm and ability to make any of us six grandkids feel like damn fools, while she laughed at us, with that “don’t give me your young-person sass, I’m your grandmother” look on her face, glass of pink champagne in her hand, sitting at the head of the table like the queen she was. She’d waltz into any party, be it her actual birthday or someone else’s birthday or Christmas, and just command the attention of the room without an ounce of effort. It was incredible! God, she was funny though. Even the boys, as they got older, couldn’t hold it with her. She’d take the mickey out of you for anything and everything, and for a kindly, old, Italian grandmother, she took no prisoners and made no apologies. We loved it! And God help the new boyfriends and girlfriends we took home to meet her – she had an absolute field day with them!

There is so much to know about her, and no words could ever do her justice, but the most important thing to know about her was that she loved her family more than anything else, and she loved to have us all sitting around a table, sharing a meal that she’d prepared and having a good time. That’s about all I can write without bursting into tears, so let me show her as I remember her; bossing Nonno around the kitchen, cooking and laughing together, in the kitchen I spent so much time growing up in, making their infamous frittelle…

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014