Staring at the Stairs

Many clever people have spent considerable time and effort thinking of ways to get people out of their cars, lifts and off their bums for the sake of health and wellbeing for the community as a whole (and a very noble cause it is). Have you seen the Piano Staircase? Very very cool.

I recently read this article about the book Making Transit Fun! How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars by Darrin Nordahl,  and whilst I agree that it’s always a good thing to make day-to-day activities as fun as possible and I’m a strong advocate of being very silly, I think that people would use public transit more if it was simply more convenient than driving the car. I take the bus to work because the traffic and parking in the city make it quicker on public transport. It’s not pleasant for the most part but I would prefer the operator spent funds on more buses, training their drivers to use their brakes more gently and customer service rather than making my stop look like a strawberry. Your never going to make sitting on the bus with smelly strangers more appealing than the airconditioned, quiet (or jazzy) comfort of your own car.

However, there are some places where a bit of fun and good design would really make a difference. Fun end of trip facilities and bike storage at major transit stops/transfers which made it really nice to ride even part of your journey would be great. One of my colleagues stopped riding her bike to the train station because the bike lockers provided are just a pain in the ass to use, her bike was stuck in there for a while when the card scanner was playing up, they are ugly, frustrating, dark etc.

I work at 140william in the Perth CBD , it’s a truly lovely building which has won many design awards, is pretty great in terms of its environment impact, with a pretty speccy lift system running through the centre of the building to move us all about. I get pretty horrible motion sickness and so tend to use the stairs when I can to avoid head spins.  I often only need to go up or down 1 or 2 floors so it’s even more efficient. The stairs are just the emergency exit route of the building, they are not intended to be used for access and as such are cold, ugly, dark and pretty yuck to use. This is a brand new building, built to make life in it really comfortable and healthy, but stair access was not considered other than as Plan B for avoiding horrible elevator v. fire situations. This isn’t unusual right? What a shame! What if the stairs where well lit and comfortable to use, would you consider taking the stairs at your work place?

Here’s what the stair case at 140william looks like. In fact just after I took these photos the lights went off on me and I had to go down the last floor in the dark… terrifying.


Maybe we should get a few hundred litres of paint (a selection of only a few colours so we don’t look insane – each floor already has a bit of a colour theme going which we could use) and get all the inhabitants to come and paint the walls. We’ll need some really really long paint roller poles and some professionals to make sure we get to the tricky to reach bits and that it doesn’t end up looking like a broken kalidoscope. Or we could hire an artist to paint a gigantic geometric mural spanning 14 floors.

Some sound dulling material/carpet on the landings to soften it up a little bit, and it would make the experience of using the stairs so much more appealing!

mural 1 mural2


Red Jelly Bean Lipstick

”Musk Sticks could be twisted on your tongue into a sharp point and used to stab your mate. As little girls, we used a saliva-soaked red jelly bean as a lipstick. We carefully tore lolly wrappers to see who ended up with the longest continuous strip. Cobbers were my favourite sweet, only a cent when I was little, and I’d nibble the chocolate off the sides and then suck the hard caramel in the middle very gently so it lasted half an hour.” Nostalgia Alert: Our Favourite Lollies, on DailyLife

LollypopsiPhone photos 301iPhone photos 302

Freckles are definitely still my favourite.

The Old Ways of Butchers and Bakers

When you go grocery shopping do you go to the supermarket for your basics then on to the butcher for meat, the baker for bread etc.? Or do you just do all your shopping at the supermarket?

It’s such a nice idea to support your local butcher and baker and go to them but in reality it’s just so convenient to do it all in one stop. My heart sinks when I see articles like this about a local butcher in Perth just not getting enough business to stay alive, or walk into a shopping centre and see the fruit and veg shop which has been there as long as you can remember, all closed down.

At the shopping centre close to me there is a Leonards (chicken), a very gourmet looking butcher, a bakers delight and a Coles. I’ve bought from Leonards once (Christmas time for a turkey), the rest of the times I go straight to Coles. What a missed opportunity! Is it really that much harder to go to the butcher aswell? We used to, before Coles and Woolworths got all speccy with their bakeries and butchers.

I am happy with my weekly (best case scenario) trip to the farmers market in Kalamunda for my fruit and veg because I know I’m supporting local farmers and getting the best stuff! We really do notice the difference when I don’t go. But I understand how its difficult to even do that, I go so often because its time when Mum and I have together each week, a major added benefit for making the trip.

I know, very well, that I get a much better product if I go to the market or a specialty shop, to the people to which their product is their art. You can ask for what you want also, butchers can make up a rolled roast or the exact type of steak you like, and can help when you don’t know which cut to use for a particular dish.

Think of how wonderful and inspiring our shopping centres would be if we all went to that little bit more effort. Perhaps the standard Bakers Delight and Leonards franchise stores would be accompanied by a marketplace of locally run butchers, preserves, bread, cakes, and fruit and veg.

It’s not likely to happen if we just say that we should. Shopping centres and local businesses need to think of ways to make it easier. Local butchers could offer online shopping and delivery, a company could gather all the local producers together and offer an online service which collects the things you want from different producers for you.

Shopping centres could have a card which you pick up on the way in the shops, you swipe it as you shop and then pay for all your items from all the different places in one transaction. I would love that!

Do you have a butcher or baker who you go to all the time? A baker who greets you by name and hands you your usual sourdough freeform rye loaf cut extra extra thick, without you even saying a word? A butcher who knows that thursday night is lamb chop night at your place? or am I dreaming of a decade ago? Is our laziness and adoration of convenience getting the better of us?

Fremantle Bathers Beach Summer Food Market

The Bathers Beach Summer Food Market in Freo! They are running every Saturday night from now onwards over summer (not Australia Day) just between the maritime museum and the beach, next to Sweetlips/Cicerellos.

It’s a truly beautiful spot, from all angles you can see something lovely, ether the calm Bathers Beach or the maritime museum’s beautiful limestone facade,there is lovely lighting under the trees, and there is plenty of space to sit on the grass or the deck to eat (come prepared to sit on the ground). There were about 15 vendors all up including a coffee van, and a couple of different ones in addition to the usual Perth mobile food merchants including quesadillas, which where exceptional.  Whilst you have probably seen most of the vendors before if you’ve been to the Twilight Hawkers Market in Perth, the location really did make it worth the trip in my opinion. Of course if you live in Fremantle or find the Forrest Chase markets a bit too claustrophobic for you then Saturday night in Freo is the place to get your hawker fix.














We started our adventure with a beverage at Little Creatures to watch the sun set, made our selections at the market and perched on the edge of the deck to enjoy it, feel dangling over the beach and watching the kids splashing in the water, then afterwards walked into Freo for a San Churros hot chocolate to finish off our evening in chocolatey style.

Overall, not much new to try or as much choice as elsewhere but the location made it pretty great. Perfect excuse to head into Freo for a cheap, relaxing dinner on a summers evening.

Click on the pictures to see the rest of the shots I took, on flikr.

Wild Inspiration Reading List: The Sacred Balance.

One of my very favourites for an inspiration-less day is David Suzuki’s The Sacred Balance. Where many environmental themed books are dull and saddening this is uplifting and joyful. Something I really need for time to time. I took away from this book of feeling of connection and conversely feeling like such a small speck in the universe, but in a really good way. When it all feels like too much, this is a good one to open at random and take in.

The Scared Balance

The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

This special 10th anniversary edition re-examines our place in the natural world in light of the sweeping environmental changes and the recent advances in scientific knowledge.

Since its first publication, Sacred Balance has sold over 100,000 copies. In the meantime, global warming has become a major issue as glaciers and polar ice caps have begun to melt at an alarming rate, populations of polar bears have dwindled, the intensity of hurricanes and tsunamis has drastically increased, coral bleaching is occurring globally, and the earth has experienced its hottest years in over four centuries. At the same time, scientists have made significant discoveries about the current state of the Great Lakes and other ecosystems of the world; the science behind the mother/baby interaction and the relationship between deprivation of affection in childhood and serious illness in midlife; the workings of the brain, including its ability to create a narrative, anticipate the future, and order the past; and the biological underpinnings of religion, among other findings. In this new and extensively revised and amplified edition of his best-selling book, David Suzuki reflects on these changes and examines what they mean for our place in the world.

The basic message of this seminal, best-selling work remains the same: We are creatures of the earth, and as such, we are utterly dependent on its gifts of air, water, soil, and the energy of the sun. These elements are not just external factors; we take them into our bodies, where they are incorporated into our very essence. What replenishes the air, water, and soil and captures sunlight to vitalize the biosphere is the diverse web of all beings. The recently completed human genome project has revealed that all species are our biological kin, related to us through our evolutionary history. And it appears that our need for their company is programmed into our genome.

As social animals, we have an absolute need for love; without it, we suffer dire psychological and physical consequences. The strength of that love is reflected in healthy, vibrant families and communities supported by full employment, security, and justice and free of threats of genocide, terror, or war. Finally, we have spiritual needs, which are ultimately rooted in nature, the source of our inspiration and belonging. These are the real requirements of all humanity and should form the basis of any society aspiring to a truly sustainable future.

These truths remain. But the cataclysmic events of the last decade require that we rethink our behaviour and find a new way to live in balance with our surroundings. This book offers just such a new direction for us all.

David Suzuki donates his royalties from sales of The Sacred Balance to the David Suzuki Foundation.

National Geographic Photo Contest 2012

The 2012 winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest have been announced.

When you need a dose of beauty or awe head here to see the winning images. They have a database of all the photos entered too, boy am I glad I didn’t have to judge that competition.

In keeping with the theme that appears to be forming this week, you can download the pictures too, maybe a new desktop background?

by Micheal Eastman

With his exceptional hearing a red fox has targeted a mouse hidden under 2 feet of crusted snow. Springing high in the air he breaks through the crusted spring snow with his nose and his body is completely vertical as he grabs the mouse under the snow.

New Year Inspiration: Breathing space

Desks are boring. I can’t see a long future ahead which involves me sitting at a desk in an office building, so landing at my desk yesterday morning was a bit of an uninspiring moment. I love my job but I despise ‘having’ to be at my desk for 8 hours per day. Just doesn’t really work for me.

But until I can break free I try to make my working space as comfy as I can. Starting up for the new year is a great time to add some colour and inspiration to your working space.

Plants are the best thing you can do to make your desk or office a bit more liveable. A 2007 Norweigian study found that there was a statistically reliable association between plants in the office environment and incidences of sick leave, perceived stress and productivity  after controlling for variables such as gender, age, physical workplace factors (e.g., noise, temperature, lighting, air quality), and psychosocial workplace factors (demands, control, social support).

Flowers Generate Happiness. Having flowers around the home and office greatly improves mood and reduces the likelihood of stress-related depression. Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help people feel secure and relaxed. Check out gorgeous  PlantLifeBalance site for some more info and links to other studies.

At my last job I covered up the bright blue dividers behind my computer with sheets of cool wrapping paper  (not stuff you get on a roll, those thick sheets you can get from Borders, Planet Books) like wall paper. Sounds daft, actually looked pretty good, cheerful. A pattern is what you want, nothing too crazy. I might go something grey/black and geometric next.

Desk, before.

Desk, before.

Desk, After

Desk, After

 At my new job my divider is a much more pleasant grey colour (sounds like it wouldn’t be nicer than blue but there you go).

My lovely peacelilly, pictured above, did not survive the move between offices :( I am still mourning. It meant a lot to me as it was an emotionally significant plant for many reasons. It really was a surprise it lasted as long as it did, because I generally kill everything I try to help live (lessons here). Go figure, I have an environmental science degree with a major in botany… I can watch things grow on their own accord.

So! New desk and I’m cultivating a small selection of succulents which are much harder to kill off. The peacelilly didn’t like much light so probably wouldn’t be too happy here anyway.

Succulents, and pretty roses I bought myself at the markets over the weekend.

Succulents, and pretty roses I bought myself at the markets over the weekend.

I know it may seem a little show-off-ish to bring roses into work myself, given they were not delivered by some secret admirer but they were dying in the heat at home and I wasnt going to get to fully appreciate them before they died. So I brought them in, judge away!

They are lovely, picked them up from a grower from Gidgegannup at the Kalamunda Farmers Market on Sunday for $10 for the dozen. Can’t be unhappy about that!

In addition I have a lovely tea pot and tea cup, water bottle, Jurlique moisturising hand sanitiser, and a cupboard full of different teas in lovely glass jars. All essentials of course.

Going to brighten up your desk for the new year? Send me in a photo! Best photo received by 9 am 18/1/2012 wins a 50ml Jurlique moisturising hand sanitiser, perfect for your desk. (

(I was not sponsored for this post)

New Year, New Inspiration

Looking for a burst of wild inspiration for the new year? Maybe it’s time to take on something new!

Here’s a few ideas for some extracurricular things in Perth that you might be interested in taking on;

UWA extension – One of my personal favourites, you can sign up for classes in everything from cheese making to rocket science or do a course online too (languages, adobe programs and other work related skills). I did a Supervision and Management one not that long ago and it was a great experience and because it’s from UWA it looks relatively legit on the CV. Here is a link to the program to get you excited.

Central TAFE Short Courses – How does a french class after work sound? or perhaps guitar lessons or fabric screen printing? You can even learn how to sew your own knickers on monday nights. The campus is only a 5-10 minute walk from St Georges Tce.

Polytechnic West – TAFE Short Courses – These guys have a few campuses around Perth including Bentley, Victoria Park and Midland. With languages, singing, massage, art, cooking, I’m sure you’ll find something there that pikes your interest.

Challenger – TAFE Short Courses – for those of you in the south of Perth (Freo, Applecross, Bibra Lake, Murdoch, Rockingham, Mandurah) Challenger TAFE have short courses near you. A bit of an odd mix of things on offer here.

Fancy doing something creative but don’t want to be told what to do? Check out Art Jamming with The Art Things. Pippa runs workshops in the park (currently in South Perth or Kalamunda) where you can go along and throw some paint at a canvas, and dance or picnic or whatever else you want to do whilst you’re at it. Great fun.

Want to learn how to give your hunny toe curling massage? Jenny Sherwood runs workshops and classes from a her studio on Canning Hwy, Victoria Park. She’s a bit sharp but a powerful teacher. Look out for coupons/deals for this one.

How about Yoga? Yeah its excercise but if you’ve never tried it before it’s quite a learning curve. Perfect for expanding your point of view. Best yoga teacher I’ve found in Perth is Sue Byrne. runs classes throughout the week in Cannington.

Also check out scoopon et al. for deals, recently I’ve seen rock climbing, and scuba diving.

Any others I’ve missed? Send them through!

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m about to start sketching classes (enrolments open tomorrow), can’t wait!

What are you taking on in 2013?



It’s a bit sketchy

My brain thinks that I can draw, but then when I put my hand on to the paper it appears that I actually cannot. I can see it exactly how I would like it to look, can imagine most details in my head but these ideas don’t travel from there onto the canvas. My mum is a fantastic artist and so I gues thats why I’ve always just assumed that I could.

Anyway,  I’m kicking off throwing myself and my career towards urban design/landscape architecture and a big part of that is being able to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper. I quickly realised that the ideas part isn’t my problem, which is what I was warned about when I first discussed the course with lecturers – apparently many planners like me struggle with this. Well the good news is that that is not a problem! I can be tought! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never be one of those natually talented artists (not really talented at anything naturally..) but who knows, maybe you wont notice.

In January I’m going to enroll in Sketching and Drawing class and the TAFE near me. Then after that I’ll start learning the Adobe programs I’ll need – InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and then on to AutoCAD, after which I’ll know if its worth me starting masters :) I know I’m serious because I just cracked open a brand new Macbookpro capable of running all these fantastic peices of programming.

What fanastic new thing are you going to learn in 2013? Come drawing with me?