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So in case you missed it, I had a very exciting and fun day on Friday – the one and only Rachel (of Suburban Yogini fame) was in town with her guy (Himself) and we all hung out for the day!

Meeting blog friends is awesome. Basically, you already share quite a bit in common and you tend to know an awful lot about each other before you’ve met so there’s a level of comfort and camaraderie happening from the get-go. I LOVE meeting blogging peeps!

I feel that it’s important to emphasise just how CUTE Rachel is in person. As much as you think she’s lovely from her blog, she’s way better again in real life. Himself is pretty awesome, too. He very politely put up with a lot of gabbing from Rachel and I, and wasn’t shy about joining in the fun.

My big plan for the day was to take them somewhere they wouldn’t probably go otherwise, and whisked them out of the city and up to the Dandenong Ranges (you can’t really call them mountains, Rachel!), to the east of the city. The drive out there is pretty boring but once up there in the hills, everything is a little magical with lots of curvy roads, ferny forests and a smattering of ridiculously cute townlets.

I had a few adventures planned but we didn’t quite get through them all because we were just so busy enjoying whatever it was we were doing right then. You can check out some of Rachel’s photos from the day over here.

First stop was Mount Dandenong Sky High Lookout – we got a great view for about two minutes, after which Melbourne did its usual four seasons in twenty minutes routine on repeat. Due to the weather, we opted to get some food at the cafe there (note: not recommended, really).

And then… errr, a not so great part of the day: at the table right next to us it seems an elderly gentleman had a heart attack! We were sitting there gabbing away, drinking luke-warm beverages and waiting on our ice-cold fries when… CRAP. That man is totally on the ground and unconscious, with all of his  female relatives sobbing. It seemed like the staff weren’t particularly trained for that sort of thing. No one rushed out with a first aid kit and they didn’t think to move any of the other patrons out of the area. Eventually the paramedics arrived and went to town on his chest with a defibrillator and CPR. We left before we knew what happened since between the very ordinary food and the heart attack, we’d kind of lost our appetites.

So. What’s a tour guide to do in that situation? Send out prayers for the man (done several times over), and attempt to steer this weird start to the day in a better direction.

There aren’t too many better directions than to head into the deep heartland of kitsch-ville, and that’s exactly where we went. First stop: Olinda. Actually, Rachel and Himself almost demanded that we stop!

There’s all kinds of wackiness in Olinda, but also, amazing little finds like:

These little ladies were in the window of one of the many kitsch-fest shops we wandered past...

More curvy yogini-ettes!

A little bigger than the size of your fist but at $100 per piece, a touch expensive. Never mind – photos are free! We also stopped into a ye olde time sweet shop where we each grabbed a couple of delicacies (and I do hope that Himself kept his word to share!).

Next: onwards to Sassafrass, home of the famous and delightfully odd Miss Marples tea house where there are no bookings allowed – you’ve just got to turn up and hope for the best.

Rachel’s very British word to describe the busy-factor was apt: the place was “heaving”.

Of course, I used my best “but I have guests here all the way from the UK” line, and somehow one of the ladies in charge took pity on us and squeezed us in. Sure, we had to wait around fifteen minutes (which we used poking around in nearby shops, including an outdoor old record shop!), but hey, we had one of the much coveted spots where many others were turned away.

And this is what we did there…

The Australian fascination with all things supposedly British is out in full-force at Miss Marples!

Right next to Miss Marples is another kind of tea house – a shop with hundreds of different kinds of tea and all sorts of tea and coffee related paraphernalia. The Brits were of course, in heaven.

And although I didn’t know it yet, I was in love with my new teapot. Folks, meet Anastasia and her little sister, Olga:


Olga, with Anastasia looking on

It was madness! Not only did I stock up on new tea, but this VERY fancy teapot. I can’t tell you how happy these girls make me. On the second day of use, I’ve settled in to using Olga moreso than Anastasia just on account of tea volume. Here’s Olga in action from earlier this evening:

Olga in action!

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

After Sassafrass I valiantly aimed to get us to our last destination – a lovely nature walk, but we only had fourty minutes left before the reserve closed so we decided to call it a day, and rely on my rather wayward navigational abilities to get us back to the city.

Hey! I survive very well as long as I have mobile phone reception to make the GPS in my iPhone work!

But never fear, I dropped Rachel and Himself off safely and let them prepare for the most important pilgrimage of their visit to this fine country: their Neighbours tour. For those of you who aren’t British or Australian and therefore probably have no idea what I’m talking about… well, lucky you!

Kidding! Okay, not really. Neighbours is basically a sloshy trash-soap opera that we’ve been flogging off to the Brits for years. It’s actually more popular over there than it is here, where most Australians consider it to be about as exciting as Paul Hogan (best left in the 80’s and forgotten about).

But hey – whatever turns you on, right? As a rather ridiculously vampire-obsessed person, I’m not in any position to be casting judgement on what other people enjoy as entertainment.

Anyway, that’s where Rachel and Himself were going today and by the looks of things, they thoroughly enjoyed it!

And while I know our  truly excellent adventure in the hills can’t compare to the Neighbours tour, I had a blast on our day out. Not to mention that I came away with another piece of practical and smile-inducing fabulousness for my home.

Oh Anastasia and Olga, where have you been my entire tea-drinking life? Sad but true: it’s love, folks.

And love and big bear hugs for Rachel and Himself! xoxo