Back in late November – ok, see what I mean about time passing? – I was invited by Ried (bike people) and Fowler's Wine (obvious what they do, really, but it might help to know that they make the wine with the 1930's style lady on the label who shoots her lunch, and John and I are fans) to an awesome-sounding event in Melbourne's sprawling gardens off St Kilda Road. Although that is the end of Spring for us, here, we had been having some pretty chilly weather and that was most welcome, for a change, as there was a dress code for this event: vintage/country/tweed – you know the sort of thing. Only good for cooler weather. I was doubly excited about going as I had missed Melbourne's Tweed Ride a few weeks before, and am always happy to get dressed up and go for a bike ride. And a bike ride with wine drinking is always welcome too.
John and I had planned to ride down together, but we ran out of time and so a drive it was. I sometimes get asked if I ever wear pants and the answer is yes – although not as much as I used to. But this was one such occasion where I did. I had the perfect outfit already at home for the dress ups: a pair of just-below-the-knee, almost plus-four style shorts by Scanlan and Theodore that I've had for years, a cream vintage blouse, a second hand woolly and stripy vest, and a vintage wool jacket I bought from Bess Georgette when Trish and I ran the Truly Vintage market last May.
The vest had some baby blue in it, and I wanted to add a few feminine details, so on went a baby blue and white polka dot scarf in a bow around the collar, and a pair of perfectly matching – by some miracle of luck – baby blue vintage gloves. On the feet went those knee length boots I posted about at the end of last year, that I've had for more years than this blog and are incredibly comfortable, albeit just about impossible to remove. Finally, I'd found a long-forgotten vintage brooch I'd had for many years, and popped her on, too.
Speaking of matching, my beige and gold glitter nails were not planned, but I don't deny being a little bit pleased with how well the beige matched the main colour of my vest. Small things, small things.
It was very windy (as ever; I think I should just start mentioning those rare days in Melbourne when the winds are under 25km/hr) on the drive down, and, with the windows open, my hair was not left looking its best. It was, however, doing quite a good unicorn impression.
John had recently found a cool old wool coat and it was just right for the occasion, too. Warm! We parked nearby and walked through the linked parks to where we were meant to meet everyone. It was a spectacular golden evening, and I was extra glad I went, as it reminded me of how good Melbourne can be, and how beautiful it sometimes is. As an often homesick expat, this is really important. I spent a lot of time last year thinking about whether I was living in the right country. I'm still not 100% sure of that to be honest, but I am enjoying it here a lot of the time. The parks are actually quite amazing. I used to work across the road from them and had forgotten just how good they were. It was nice seeing people arrive. How amazing do the two above look? Love their outfits! We were treated to really nice canapes (always want to say ca-napes, like grapes, but then worry it sounds genuine) that were a cut above, and of course generous pours of vino. They'd set up picnic rugs for us so we wouldn't get wet bums. This is Sarah W and Sarah K, with whom John and I teamed up. That's not rubbish on the grass, by the way, it's leaves. For once I really enjoyed eating outside sitting on the floor. Wearing pants was SO GOOD it needs capitals; I could sit cross legged and never fear I was flashing. I could also balance my salmon on my bare knee. Or, I could on the one that wasn't muddy. Pants and excitement had me kneeling on the ground and generally getting very comfortable with my revived tomboy status. There was singing, which was particularly nice. A rainbow of bikes. And everything felt especially beautiful. The setting sun definitely added to things! As did a friendly crowd. I'd rescued this little chap from underneath a croquet hoop, and it turned out he'd been there for a reason... There was a game of find the yellow duck. This is where team work came in. We all pooled our found duckies as the prize was a case of wine. We were really hoping we'd win. And we counted them up and compared totals... ... but the beautiful pair from earlier pipped us at the post. Was chuffed to see them win though! John and I snuck away for a bit to the local lake, which was looking absolutely magical at this point. Cue comedy posing, very much tongue in cheek. Then we rejoined the group for some croquet (not taken at all seriously, which is, in my opinion, THE best way to play any of these kinds of sports) and to ride some of the bikes up and down the paths in the dusk. And then came the most surprising thing: they were running a competition for the best dressed, and... I won! The prize was a brand new bike. Very chuffed! And, this is why this post has taken me so long... I still, STILL haven't gone to pick up my beautiful (I chose a baby blue one, which seemed quite appropriate) bike. I have reasons. Good reasons. Apart from having to put it in the car (which I know from experience is a huge pain, and might damage the bike – I broke a bike once doing that) I literally don't know where to keep it. I want to keep it inside but there's no room, and outside isn't much better – and in the Australian summer it will literally bake. So I have been waiting patiently for the right time to bring my blue bebe home. So, so looking forward to finally doing it! I promise I'll post a picture when I do – that way, I'm accountable for actually doing it!