Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekend Destination: Carlton Hotel, St. Moritz

Apologies to all the regular readers of the Hedge who are freezing in the U.S., Europe, U.K. etc., but this weekend's destination is somewhere cold, with lots of snow & ice. I need to desperately escape the run of atrocious record-breaking heat most of Southern Australia is experiencing, so I'm dusting off the skis & St. Moritz Switzerland here I come! However, I think I'd get some very strange glances as I the first thing I'd do on arrival is throw myself down onto the snow & just stay there for about an hour, just cooling my poor heat-weary body down!

How does 100km. of open pistes sound for starters? Outside activities include snow-boarding, ice skating, sledding, cross-country & heliskiing, sleigh rides & much more. A quick check-in at the gorgeous Carlton Hotel, then off to the Spa for a stone therapy massage & Sensai beauty facial & make-up & a quick flutter in the Casino. A great meal in the famous Romanoff restaurant & then a few cocktails in one of St. Moritz's glamorous nightclubs. Very, very nice thanks!

Weather report for St. Moritz this weekend is Saturday -7/-6C., Sunday -13/-12C., with 43 lifts operating. See you all there!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

B is for Procrastination

Image: Unknown - via Son # 4's Joke File!

Yes, George I can assure you that a Budget has got numbers in it, as I'm up to my neck in them at the moment. With the temperature hitting 45.7C. (114.2F.) yesterday, the last thing I wanted to do was to be out & about, so I worked from home. And as Budgets are the one thing I truly do procrastinate over each year, it was the 09 FY forecasts that I turned my attention to all day. (After the 'sweetest' reminder from the Company CFO that mine was 'the only one not submitted, but don't worry Millie dear, global HQ are more than happy to wait until you are ready..... NOT!!!!')

I so loathe this process, & after slaving over all the actuarial analysis spreadsheets, I still reckon I could channel Mystic Millie's crystal ball & get the same results! There's just too many ifs, buts & maybes in my territory at the moment, although I'm very grateful that our business is almost recession proof. So these forecasts will really be best guestimates, just don't tell my boss that!

What is it that you procrastinate the most over, at home or work? And if you are so perfect & don't have an issue with anything, then tell us that too, & make us all feel even worse!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I woke this morning to a revised weather report for today from 41C. (106F) up to a mind numbing 44C. (111.5F.)!!!! So keep us in your thoughts today & I think by tonight my love of the hot weather may just have waned a little.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice Cold Lemonade

Day 1 of what looks to be a long & protracted heatwave here in South Australia - not that I'm complaining as I love the hot weather. However, living in the gorgeous Adelaide Hills isn't all beer & skittles, as the risk of bushfires during these unrelenting days of searing, dry heat is ever present. So a quick review of our Bushfire Action Plan (read as: pack the car & get the hell out!) might be the go today & making sure there are plenty of cold drinks for poor MOTH who has to work outdoors in this sizzling heat. And of course, a big dish of water for the possums, koalas, kookaburras, lizards etc. who are our garden 'Lodgers'.

The week ahead:

Today 41C. (106F.)

Wednesday 41C. (106F.)

Thursday 41C. (106F.)

Friday 40C. (104F.)

Saturday 35C. (95F.) - oooh a cool change!

Sunday 38C. (101F.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Time for a little Reflection

It was a gorgeous summer's day, I was luxuriating in my Friday off & happy in the anticipation of a meeting a friend for lunch on the terrace of our favourite cafe. We'd been sitting for only a moment when my friend leant over to me & with tears in her eyes said "Mills, I hate what I do." It was the proverbial 'Bolt right out of the blue'.

My friend, so strong & assured, so assertive & intelligent - the one we all look to for stability & strength. When things go wrong & we occasionally lose our way through life's great journey she is always, always there to pick us up. I was totally at a loss. Maybe I 'd misunderstood what she had just said, maybe I'd missed a couple of vital words - but no, as she uttered the words again, I knew for certain that this lunch was going to be very different from all the others we'd had over the years.

She did law, topping her class with distinction, then followed a rapid rise with an established group, culminating in a partnership. About 8 years ago, the chance to buy the practice on the retirement of the 2 Senior Partners saw her taking the risk & doing it. She worked hard, introduced new & innovative initiatives. Her business grew & thrived & expanded, her loving husband & gorgeous kids always by her side with their love & support - by all intents & purposes she had it all. There were overseas trips speaking at international legal conferences , accolades by her peers, a book on her expertise in mediation almost complete - my brain could hardly process her mind-numbing words.

But then the haze & fog of my confusion lifted & I began to understand & see what she was really saying. It was not the work per se she hated, it was the specialty she'd chosen all those years ago - Family Law. So many years of adversarial combat in court, watching people's lives unravelling in the most horrible ways, listening day in & day out to the vitriol & hatred & contempt that sadly so often goes with relationship breakdowns. She's not burnt out, or suffering from depression, isn't hormonal, nor is she going through a temporary crisis, she's just simply & totally over it - done, finito. I know her so well & that's the facts.

So now, the impregnable armour she's clothed herself in each day for so many years has been pierced & she's bleeding profusely. To cut a long story short, we talked for 3 hours & will continue to do so in the coming days. She is determined in her resolve to make a change in her life, but it has intense & multi-faceted ramifications. Her family are confused & worried, not knowing how to help or counsel her. She will do what's needed I'm sure of it, but it's going to be a hard few months. In her wonderful way, she has always ensured a balance in her life by developing strong & diverse interests outside of work. I believe she knows that one of these is where her future lies & with courage & conviction, she will follow her heart down that path.

For me, the big question here is "Do you love what you do?" And if you don't, if all the practical obstacles could be removed, what is it that would make you the happiest - & produce a life of great meaning, fulfillment & deep personal satisfaction. Yes, it's a little D&M for a Monday morning, but it's the question that's been spinning around in my head since Friday. If you'd like to share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you. I think there'll be some fascinating comments - & if you've been a lurker at The Hedge maybe now's the time to join in - you'd be warmly welcomed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekend Destination: L'Andana Tenuta La Badiola

  • Stunning boutique 16th century country house once the summer residence of Leopold 11, Duke of Tuscany owned by Alain Ducasse, famed French restaurateur & Michelin star chef.

  • Tucked in the lush vineyards & olive groves of the famed Maremma wine region of Tuscany, yet only a few minutes from the white sandy beaches of the Etruscan coast.

  • Suites designed by the editor of Architectural Digest & most have a fireplace & beautiful views over the countryside or onto the garden.

  • 3 pools including heated indoor pavilion, outdoor jacuzzi, Turkish bath, gym, library.

  • Renowned state-of-the-art Spa with full-day programmes.

  • Horse riding, tennis, bocce, golf, sailing.

  • Experience superb regional Tuscan cuisine & wine in the hotel's La Trattoria Toscana prepared by the Ducasse-trained chef Christophe Martin.

  • Cooking classes with Christophe & his team.

  • Explore the medieval hill towns of Sovana & Pitigliano - Maserati available.

  • Private wine tours including to Fattoria Le Pupille, producers of the famed Morellino di Scansano varietal.

So while the weather at this time of the year will be cold, rug up & come prepared for a weekend of absolute indulgence & luxury - do I have any Expressions of Interest?

All images Andana

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Living Simply

No tricked-up seaside McMansions here in the sleepy little Spanish fishing village of Cadaques, about an hour's drive from Barcelona. And that's exactly what attracted Tami & Anders Christiansen when they were looking for a weekend house to give them a break from their busy life running an Interior Design business in Copenhagen.

Wandering around the steep & winding streets one weekend, they saw a For Sale sign on a derelict house perched on a cliff overlooking the harbour & a week later they were the new Owners. Only few minor structural jobs needed to be done before they moved in & then it was just a question of lots of fresh paint & filling the home with pieces purchased mainly from second-hand stores along the Costa Brava. They really have achieved a fantastic sense of ambience & relaxed living using an eclectic mix of pieces in this gorgeous little retreat.

Throwing the shutters open on these windows allows the light to spill into the dining room.

Confidently hanging a small chandelier in this room along with all the quirky pieces, shows a strong sense of proportion & style.

Relaxing pieces of old furniture, soft cushions & a couple of very elegant busts thrown together form a gorgeous vignette.

Tami's used the same fabric accents on all the cushions throughout the house to give the space a stylish sense of continuity.

Bare brick floors & scrubbed wooden boards make for easy & relaxed living.

A small side-table sits beautifully in a corner holding a plant in a terracotta pot & family photos.

Again unusual & quirky pieces are scattered throughout the house to create a fabulous sense of ambience.

An old piece of wrought iron fencing adds a decorative touch to the little open fireplace.

Symmetrical placing of these topiaries in the the Living Room on an old milk-washed table.

Low stone plastered walls in the house have had a coat of paint to freshen them up & provide extra shelving.

An old Spanish armoire was rebuilt to serve as a kitchen pantry cupboard.

A close-up shot of the kitchen armoire.

Some of the rooms were awkward shapes, so Tami used simple furnishings & higher decorative pieces as accents.

A small old desk provides a place to read or catch up with some writing.

The steep, windy street outside the cottage.

Views of the harbour from the Dining room window.

Life in Cadaques still revolves around the fishing industry.

All images Hearst (photographer Andreas Von Einsiedel)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hello Gorgeous!

Poor MOTH was feeling a little fragile last night - he's worried that the pics that appear of him on the Hedge are not his most flattering. Mmmmm, maybe just a little! Interestingly his concerns coincided with the discovery of this photo his sister found recently during a clean-up of her family photo stash. She thought I might find it 'useful' material & I reckon she's pretty spot on there! I reckon there's also a touch of revenge here for the 'interesting' Christmas present MOTH sent her last month!!

She says MOTH was about 22 when this was taken, & had I met him then I would have snapped him up on the spot. Except my parents may have had other ideas, as I was only 14 at the time! It would also have saved me from 12 years with that other husband - or as Son # 4, the family comedian irreverently calls it- 'Mum's lapse'!!

I did assure the Gorgeous One that those who visit the Hedge regularly look upon him with great affection, so not to worry, but he still feels he's not seen at his best. Other than to dress him in a Zegna suit each time he's renovating, in case there's a Millie photo opportunity (read as me sneaking up behind him with the camera when he's not looking!), I'm not sure how I'm going to address his concerns!

Anyway, just to balance up the discussion, here's the latest pic of MOTH taken last Sunday. I think he's even more gorgeous now than the top pic, 'cos he's working hard 'making' me a new bathroom!

P.S. - it's not my dodgy photography skills that caused the haziness on this pic, the air was seriously thick with brick & plaster dust - cough, cough, splutter, splutter!

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