Living the high life – food and wineries!

So everyone’s heard of Australian wine. And I know that I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t like wine. There’s an irony inherent in me being on a madly expensive wine tour with a private driver that I appreciate.

We set off with Mary Anne from Taste of South Australia on our trek to the McLaren Vale with Jon and our friend James. It’s beautiful, rolling countryside with vineyards and birdsong and every now and then, a randomly frolicking critter.

Adelaide days 1-3 111

And, of course, tacky tourist photo ops:

Adelaide days 1-3 098

We went to about half a dozen vineyards, had several fantastic meals and I ended up actually finding a sparkling white wine or two that I was willing to taste without making what is deemed as “THE FACE” (it involves an expression much like sucking on a lemon).

Jon and James, on the other hand, were pleased as punch and we all ended our afternoon here:

Adelaide days 1-3 118

Next up, the wild and wonderful creatures of Kangaroo Island!

And we’re off to see the Wizard!


Adelaide 009

Of Oz, that is. And by Oz, we mean the country of Australia rather than the Oz populated by Scarecrow and the Tin Man (though I’d love to see them too!).

The backstory here is that late last year, Elle Canada had a contest to win a trip to Kangaroo Island, which is a nature preserve off the coast of Adelaide. It has beach kangaroos. Beach kangaroos, people! I entered that contest EVERY SINGLE DAY for months, and then early in January, I found out that I’d won – dancing and glee ensued.

We had to formulate a babycare plan as the trip activities were already included and K would probably not do so well at the winery tours. (Green blankie might give her away, as would trying to get the wine put into her sippie cup). Luckily, we have a very supportive family and compiled a team comprised of both sets of parents and our daycare provider to man the fort for twelve long days while we ran off.

I’m normally a fantastic packer, having been from Bali to Bulgaria and back again. Attempting to juggle a twelve day packing job for Kate with getting the house set up for us being away and work and getting myself packed apparently didn’t go very well. This was not helped along by the sole weather report I checked the week before which listed the weather at 28 degrees. It was a bit of a shock to my system when we got here and it was 16 and all I had packed was sundresses and sandals.

But we’ve soldiered on and it’s been lovely!

Adelaide days 1-3 002

We left on Wednesday Nov 6th, with Air NZ via Auckland. I’ve flown Air NZ before (on a previous trip that we won on our honeymoon) and was genuinely impressed. This time, we had paid the $50 each for premium seats. I thought somehow that we had paid to be upgraded to premium economy, but this was not the case – I felt the website could have been clearer that all we were paying for was an ever-so-slightly roomier seat and no other benefits. The flight was looong (14 hours to Auckland on leg 1) but went quickly in that weird no-mans-land time stasis that happens on long international flights. Air NZ has a brilliant new safety video that was so entertaining I *actually* watched it! It stars Betty White – no need to say more. Staff were funny and friendly and we were well fed and watered – all of my flight requirements were met. I’d like to try out their premium economy at some point and see what the difference is.

We arrived in Adelaide 30 hours later, hideously jetlagged but ready to take on the city. First stop, lovely hotel at the Majestic Rooftop Gardens. Jon loved the gym being open 24 hours. I loved that the staff were willing to scan documents for me so that I could send prize releases in for things I was winning while over here (thanks Daniel!). And it was walking distance to everywhere we needed,. Not having to deal with transport and being able to just wander to where I’m going is AWESOME.

Adelaide days 1-3 014

First stop, Central Market. Many organic things. Much food.

Adelaide 004

Adelaide 007

Our friend James happened to be in town as well, so we got some collective wandering in.

Adelaide days 1-3 096

Jon and I went to see the big event of the day, the annual Adelaide Christmas parade. It was crowded with delighted children dressed as elves. The parade itself was weirdly unfestive. The floats were cool and had a variety of themes – lots of storybook motifs – and at one point there was a zombie house. What about pirate ships and zombies doesn’t scream ‘Christmas’ to you?

Adelaide days 1-3 037

The end of Day Two culminated in a trip to the Botanical Gardens, where we ran across the Tree of Drunken Parrots. Really. Apparently the parrots are drawn to the nectar from the blossoms of this particular tree in the gardens, and then they drink so much that they get drunk and can’t fly away again. So you can hear the cacophony of bird squawking from all over, and the tree is so full of parrots that you can see the branches move. It’s slightly insane but makes really good bird photos easy to achieve.

Adelaide days 1-3 080

More later on the Great Winery Tours.

Sleep, wondrous sleep.

Sleep 2

I yawn as I type this, which is an irony in and of itself. If there’s one thing where our society has gone downhill, it’s in getting enough sleep. With the kajillion different ways we now have to stay up and the endless parade of more information and games and tasks, it’s easier than ever to stay up that extra hour and play another game of Facebook Scrabble.

Sleep 4

Prior to the late 1800s, adults got around 9 hours of sleep a night. That dropped by an entire hour within less than twenty five years. Why, you ask? The invention of the light bulb suddenly made it possible to finish that novel after dark without having to burn through your supply of candles. And that was just the beginning. The OECD had a report in 2006 which said that Canadians sleep an average of 8.5 hours/night, but no one I know actually gets that much. The US Center for Disease Control considered it an epidemic, according to a report they issued back in March.

Sleep 3

Sleep needs are made up of your basal sleep need, which is what you actually need every night, and your sleep debt, which is that massive wall of snoozing that you haven’t gotten because of that great new book/Candy Crush/watching too much late night TV.

What are the effects of all of these missing zzzzzzs? Lots. Here are just a couple:

Transport Canada estimates that 20% of fatal collisions are caused by fatigue, and that the most problematic times are around your body’s circadian rhythms (sleepy times, in laymen’s terms) of 2-4am and 2-4pm. So there’s that. Driving sleepy is apparently as dangerous as driving drunk.

Not getting enough sleep impairs your immune system, has been shown to have a correlation with weight gain, and is terrible for your skin. When you’re sleep deprived, your body releases more of the sleep hormone cortisol, which breaks down collagen and ages your skin.

Being tired makes me (and others that I know) crabby. Which affects not only people I work with who like me more when I’m not so tired, but also my relationships with family and friends. I find I have much more patience for K attempting to bring all four of her stuffed friends into the car (Donkey, Monkey, Teddy and Eeyore) with a full eight hours behind me than I do if I’ve tried to squeak by at 6.5.

Sleep 1

So what can we do to get more (and better quality) sleep? There are a million (and that may be literal) websites that have sleep tips, so I’m just going to tell you what’s worked for me personally.

1) Have a routine.

Humans are built on routine. If you do the same thing at roughly the same time every night, it will begin to trigger your brain to start thinking ‘zzzzz’. I have an evening shower, and the warm water cues my melatonin to start kicking in.

2) Stop checking the Internet and playing on your phone an hour before bed.

This is the hardest one, and I’m not always roaringly successful at it. The blue light that emits from all of our beloved gadgets also makes it harder for your body to get into sleep mode. I’ve found that the nights where I’m playing those last few games of Scramble right before bed are the nights when my sleep is the most choppy.

3) Wear pyjamas that are the right temperature.

It’s kind of a Goldilocks thing. Not too hot, not too cold. I can’t sleep unless I’m just the right temperature. This sometimes leads to midnight pyjama changes, to the bemusement of my husband.

4) Have a snack half an hour before bed.

Preferably something like cereal or toast with peanut butter. I Iike to think of it as a warmup for breakfast. That way, your tummy is full and you won’t wake up starving at 2am.

5) Swap off with the other parent.

This applies only if you have small people. You should each get a day where you get to sleep in and the other person takes over baby duties. It can be the same day each week or flexible based on job schedules, but everyone deserves at least one day where they can catch an extra hour or two.

6) If you can’t sleep, try one of these: listen to piano music. Recite the alphabet backwards. Count down from 100 – in French.

What do you do to get shut-eye, folks? Enquiring minds want to know!

What are your