A few months deep into Melbourne living, an email landed in my inbox from Accor Hotels, inviting me on a trip involving two nights in my own home town of Adelaide to experience two boutique hotels in the MGallery by Sofitel collection. I had to stop for a second and make sure I had read the email right (- I had!) Because while Adelaide city and the Adelaide hills are beautifully familiar to me, the experiences on the itinerary were certainly anything but. A wine tour, garden picnic, scenic helicopter flight.... sign me right up!
Before I knew it, I was on the way. I was invited along on the trip with some beautiful girls - now new friends - Shellie [@ironchefshellie], Clarice [@brigadeirochoc], Angela [@thegirlswhoatetheworld], Yan [@msyan_] and Mel [@TheTiaFox] making the visit all the more memorable!
It was early November and I had just emerged from five immersive days off the grid somewhere in a tiny, industrial town in the Guangdong Province province of China, overseeing the manufacturing of my 2017 planners. With my beautifully supportive Mum in tow, helping me oversee the entire, complex process, we were welcomed to stay for two nights at the Island Shangri-La before making our way back to Australia. We stepped inside the marble oasis of the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong lobby, and the overwhelm and chaos of the past week promptly fell away.
After a paradoxically baffling but productive time in China, the idea of two nights to kick back and reconstitute ourselves with hotel pillows, good coffee and lots of champagne in a world of old-school elegance and unparalleled luxury…? Well, there were no words to describe quite how magic and surreal this sounded. Over our two night stay, we ate, drank, rested, explored every corner of the hotel, rested some more, and did very little else until we checked out from our city sanctuary.
Beyond croissants, I love my morning coffee as much as the next person. But, you know, I thought about the saying that goes something like “coffee keeps me going until it’s time for wine” - and then I realised, what 'time' is that referring to precisely... and why wait at all anyway? Jacobs Creek have recently launched Le Petit Rosé. This rosé is French in style, but made in Australia. The beauty is that rosé, unlike any other wine, lets you have a little bit of fun! Whether that’s making frosé, making rosé cocktails, have it for brunch... or just drink it in coffee cups, as I decided to!
When I lived in London, a few years ago, I first called home the unassuming borough of Hayes in Zone 5 (technically Kent, not actually London). Every single weekday, I would make the hectic commute from my sleepy street into the heartbeat of the city, by an overground train bound for London Bridge. I would step off the train, pause momentarily and gaze up at The Shard - Western Europe’s tallest building - towering three hundred metres above me, in awe. Then, I would throw myself back into the thick of rush hour madness.
In 2014, I specifically remember hearing that Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group Shangri-La had opened inside the building. It was something about the idea of floor to ceiling glass, so very high up that caught my attention. I vividly imagined the views from up there in the clouds, back to earth... the meandering bends of the River Thames; of seeing Tower Bridge from birds eye; of the tiny humans who might stand still and look up in wonder, like I did everyday.
Ever since, staying with Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard London, has been high up and steadfast on my ‘one day’ hotel bucket list.
Sometimes the world works in beautifully mysterious ways, and fast forward on a few years, this past September I found myself back in London and for us to be welcomed by Shangri-La as guests on our final night in London. Needless to say, our night beautifully surpassed every hope and expectation.
We happened to stumble on what we later realised is considered to be one of the most picture-perfect towns in all of storybook England - Castle Combe. It was a weekday afternoon in between rain showers, and the streets were deserted, luckily for us...
As the tube catapulted into the heartbeat of London, my heartbeat quickened in pace, too. Everything about this city feels vivid. We (read: mostly Charles) hauled our many trade-show laden suitcases up the staircases from Southwark underground station, and we reached the street level above, breathless and alive. London was just as I remembered it - recent, almost freeze-framed in time… just so beautifully familiar. I was never quite able to call London my home, but regardless of visa laws, in some small way, it always, perhaps defiantly, will feel like returning home by heart.
The first time, I was twenty one, on a ‘round the world ticket, solo. The world was new and unknown and I craved to get lost in 'postcard' New York. I ticked off the clichéd must-do’s - soaring up the Empire State, a cream cheese bagel outside Tiffany & Co on Fifth Avenue, and pretending I was Carrie, wandering the backstreets of Greenwich Village. Five years on - my second visit - I flew in from London, palpably vulnerable. Raw with heartbreak from a failed relationship, for that visit, New York felt... nourishing. I wandered the city with a best friend from home, and we spent those days together sprawled out on the grass in Central Park, hopping between thrice daily breakfasts and generally eating and drinking our way through the surface area of the city. New York brought back a sparkle - it was like the city reconstituted me.
Fast forward another two years, and this visit had greater purpose - New York wasn’t to widen my eyes or to enable healing - this visit one was all in the business of dream chasing. My love, Charles, had been offered a place in the prestigious Accent on Design section of NYNow trade fair. I wanted to be by his side, and scope the show for the ‘one day’ when I might be ready to tackle it, myself.
I shifted base from Adelaide, over to Melbourne to be with my love. I designed - and launched a new collection. There were design markets, a Melbourne trade show, a London trade show, a week in New York helping out at a trade show. There was family, and health, and times when nothing else mattered more than being all there. There were photo shoots, and videos filmed, and a certain campaign dreamed up, actioned and pulled together (- and it launches this week!)
I’ve felt constantly out of my depths and at times, utterly petrified about how fast life is moving, how fast business is growing, and how everything I do now seems to need to be more measured, accountable and prioritised, less spontaneous and free. And I’ve felt grateful, to be feeling all of these feelings and in this position of stretching, expanding, of course.
This coming Tuesday morning, the project I’ve poured all of myself into for these past months launches (if you missed the big announcement via my mailing list and Instagram, read on below).
And, now that all of the hardcore figuring out and preparatory phases has been moved through, I’m experiencing a beautiful feeling of coming back to myself - settling the frenetic energy down a notch, making more considered, confident decisions, allowing myself a moment or two to simply digest and feel into the excitement and anticipation all. And here, as I sit tapping away on keys late into Sunday night in the calm of my studio, I feel hundreds of words circling, floating around in my head, tweaking and tightening into sentences, forming stories that I know will pour out as they will, before long.
Tonight I'm stoked to announce a fun collaboration with one of my favourite and serendipitous connections that Instagram has brought my way... The Parcel Project! The gorgeous founder Catherine and I have been crushing on each other's businesses for more than a year now, and when we finally connected in real life on a beautiful morning in Melbourne back in summer... it only took a few moments discussing our mutual LOVE for beautiful packaging, hidden surprises, happy mail in the post and sips of a good Melbourne coffee for a collaboration to inevitably reveal itself!
Catherine asked me to curate a themed parcel box filled with my most favourite travel and lifestyle related treats (coffee features heavily, naturally). Fun! And excitingly, we launch this box tonight! And I'm also thrilled to share more of Catherine's business story, featuring her as a Rainbow Chaser. Read on for all of the goods.
You know how some experiences feel… layered? Where the deeper you go and fall into the experience, the more fascinating and other worldly it all becomes. You become a part of another reality for a moment in time. Two weeks ago, I had this very experience, when invited as guest of Melbourne’s InterContinental The Rialto to celebrate hidden treasures, laneway art, incredible architecture and 70 years of international experience. The entire weekend was something akin to a fairytale - a level of hospitality and little details like I had never experienced before. The food - the five star luxury - the surprises waiting on our beds every. single. time. we returned to our room - and even more than that, the fascinating history behind InterContinental hotel group and InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto building itself... it was the kind of reality I could have lived inside forever! Here’s some captured moments from our weekend.