OOTD: business trip to Albany Western Australia (Day 3)

The serviced apartment we are staying at, Dolphin Lodge in Albany, does not have an in apartment washing machine and the laundry is shared. A bit annoying, if you ask me. In any case I had to iron my blouse this morning so I headed downstairs to the laundry in search of an iron. What I found was an iron whose appearance suggests that it has seen better days.

With a little trepidation (I am always worried about hotel irons damaging my nice clothes), I am relieved to find that despite its looks the iron actually works surprisingly well!

My blouse we immaculately ironed and even the collars and sleeves were perfect!

You know how my boss planned to mix business with pleasure with this business trip. We’d work Thursday and Friday and next Monday and Tuesday, and because we were staying over the weekend and won’t be working on the Saturday and Sunday, my boss arranged for his wife and kids to fly into Albany Friday afternoon so that they could spend the weekend with him. On Monday he’d drop his wife and kids off at the airport and we continued to work early next week.

Like every good tight arsed boss, to save money he had arranged for me to sleep in the same 2 bedroom serviced apartment as he was staying in Wednesday and Thursday night, then have me moved to a studio from Friday and over the weekend, before moving me back into the 2 bedroom serviced apartment on Monday morning. So instead of having to pay for 2 separate apartments throughout our work trip in Albany he’d only pay for 2 when his wife and kids are in town.

So that was his initial plan anyway.

I got back from ironing my blouse and my boss was out of his bedroom and he told me he had a change of plans. So instead of making me move out, he has booked himself another accommodation for the whole weekend for him and his family. I can stay in this current serviced apartment until he checks out on Monday morning, drop his wife and kids at the airport, then he’ll move back in.

So I didn’t have to pack and unpack and repack and unpack again after all!

My boss brewed a pot of coffee, and along with some toast we had our coffee on the balcony this morning, enjoying the outlook of the idyllic Middleton beach locality.

Our day had been reasonable productive all morning. Our plan was to meet with another business client after lunch. This client, as I understood, was to be a ‘major’ client (if you know what I mean). Rather unexpectedly, he rang us about 10 minutes prior to our meeting and cancelled on us. How disappointing. I was in the car with my boss and I could hear my boss trying to salvage the meeting – but to no avail.

My boss suggested we might as well do a little sight-seeing instead. It was a Friday afternoon anyway and there was no point trying to set up a meeting with someone else. And besides, it was still a bit too early for the boss to head to the airport to pick up his wife and kids.

What pity. I had been told by my boss this scheduled meeting was to be with a ‘major’ client so I had taken the effort to dress well this morning. We have corporate work uniforms but it is not mandatory. So most just turn up to work wearing whatever (myself included). But today, because of the scheduled meeting with this ‘major’ client, I decided to take the effort not only to dress well but to project a professional image for the company by wearing the corporate uniform blouse.

Going for failsafe the white blouse/ black skirt look, I matched my corporate work uniform short-sleeved button-up fitted white blouse with my favourite CUE black pencil fluted hem skirt with waterfall ruffle. A pair of my newly cleaned sensible heel height NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps, nude hosiery, and my usual earrings, pearl necklace and pearl bracelet set complete the elegant and professional look.

So now we found ourselves with a free afternoon to spare, and myself overdressed for sight seeing.

We headed up towards the various sights and scenic look-outs on Mount Clarence.

On Mt Clarence, we turned to the left and found ourselves at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial. I got out of the car to walk around. Locals tell us that the weather in Albany can be rather fickle: sunny one minute, then rain the next. I saw for the first time what they mean. It started to rain a little the moment I got out of the car.

I got distracted by the rain while walking around and the heel of my new cleaned NineWest pumps caught a loose paving tile. It sank in the gap immediately, but what absolutely heart breaking was that in the process of pulling the heel out, it left a gouge in the heel of my favourite pair of NineWest pumps. It so happened I handed my phone over to my boss to take a few photos me and he managed to catch it all on video. The rain gathered with increasing intensity shortly after the video capture my heel moment so I got back into the car.

As we started driving back downhill, it stopped raining.

So we turned off toward a lookout on our left instead.

And found this wooded platform affording panoramic views of the coast.

Of course I had to jump out of the car and have a few more photos taken.

The weather was at least cooperating this time at the lookout. I got quite a few photos taken over the course of the next 15 to 20 minutes, before its sunny one minute with a nice golden glow, then it got dark, and darker, and even darker, and it finally started to rain.

So this time we decided to call it a day and headed back to the serviced apartment. My boss packed up his luggage and headed off to the airport to pick up his wife and kids, taking me along to pick up the second rental car so that I won’t be stranded over the weekend. I left him at the airport after I got the keys to rental car – now I truly feel like I am on holidays without my boss for the entire weekend. Close friends will know I am dealing with a lot in my life at the moment (legal problems, money problems, family problems, work problems, etc) so this weekend break in the middle of my business trip is truly what I am looking forward to to give me some distraction from my problems at home and allow me to forget about them for a while.

But first things first, let’s find some decent fish and chips for dinner in Albany (we are, after all, on the coast)…

Occasion: Business trip

Wearing:

Blouse: corporate work uniform short-sleeved button-up fitted white blouse

Skirt: CUE black pencil skirt with fluted hem and waterfall ruffle and exposed back zip

Pumps: NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps

Hosiery: nude stay-up stockings from Target

Xoxo

Natalie

OOTD: business trip to Albany, Western Australia (Day 2)

We arrived yesterday afternoon to Albany Western Australia via a noisy turbo-prop Regional Express plane of questionable reliability. After picking up the rental car and checking in to our serviced apartment, we headed down the road for dinner with a business client at the Three Anchors restaurant in Middleton beach. Heading back to the serviced apartment in the rain, I discovered that while first impressions were mostly positive, the accommodation was quite noisy and the bedrooms were dusty, dated and definitely not for those with dust allergies – even I had to pop an antihistamine within an hour of arriving.

Despite the less than ideal accommodation I am actually truly glad I am away. Close friends will know I am dealing with a lot in my life at the moment (legal problems, money problems, family problems, work problems, etc) so this business trip has given me some distraction from my problems, at least for a week or so…

Anyway the plan for today revolves around familiarising ourselves with the real estate market in the South Western corner of Western Australia.

Given Albany is unexpectedly cooler than Perth, I decided to get dressed in long sleeves. Going for failsafe the white blouse/ black skirt look, I matched my favourite CUE long-sleeved button-up fitted white blouse with my favourite CUE black pencil fluted hem skirt with waterfall ruffle. A pair of sensible NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps, nude hosiery, and my usual earrings, pearl necklace and pearl bracelet set complete the elegant and professional look.

Commercial real estate in the town centre. Display homes in new housing estates in Albany. Lifestyle semi-rural lots in the surrounds. The plan for today revolves around familiarising ourselves with the real estate market in the South Western corner of Western Australia and we made full use of the opportunity and the relatively alright weather.

We spoke to people and inspected commercial real estate in the town centre.

We visited display homes in new housing estates in Albany.

(I asked my boss to take a picture of me standing in front of the display home to send to hubby and my parents – well let’s just say I don’t know what he did. Whatever he did he didn’t get me standing and smiling in front of the display, but instead got two of me walking back to the car – with one of me almost completely out of the frame. I don’t know what he did, go figure. But given he is my boss, I couldn’t complaint.)

We inspected lifestyle semi-rural lots in the surrounds.

(again I asked my boss to take a picture of me standing in front of the display to send to hubby and my parents – well let’s just say I don’t know what he did wrong again. Whatever he did he didn’t get me standing and smiling in front of the display, but instead got two of me walking back towards the car. But given he is my boss, I still couldn’t complaint.)

All in all plenty of driving, but it was worthwhile and what we did provided an insight into the real estate market in the South Western corner of Western Australia and business opportunities no amount of online or virtual inspection can replace.

Yes real estate agents are all mad about technology and saying how people can now inspect virtually, but you know what: technology cannot replace what we learnt and saw today by just being physically there.

As the afternoon approached we finished the day headed back to our serviced apartment in Middleton Beach. We planned to finish our workday with a customary after work drinks at the pub, followed by dinner. It wasn’t until I got back that I notice how dusty my NineWest pumps got

– the pointed toes were all covered with a fine layer of dust! I’ll blame it on all the building sites and the lifestyle semi-rural lots we visited today…

I really wanted to clean my pumps (because it is one of my favourite pair after all) but as Albany was by the sea and I wanted to enjoy a bit of the waterviews before the sunset, I decided cleaning it now might take too long and I’d miss whatever daylight that was left. So I got a spare pair of heels from my luggage and slipped on a new pair of shoes: my ZU ankle strap heels, leaving the dusty NineWest pumps to deal with when I get back.

We headed into the town centre. There is a little harbour of sorts at the end of the main street of town.

We parked outside the Albany entertainment centre, got out for a walk along the waterfront, and got treated to a spectacular sunset over Albany Princess Royal Harbour.

After watching the sunset we headed off into a nearby pub/ restaurant ‘Due South’ for drinks and dinner. A noisy and bustling place, it is full of locals and tourists alike (no doubt helped by its location). The menu seem to cater to the derivative rather than making full use of its coastal location (ie think pizza, steaks, etc rather than local seafood) – so a bit disappointing if you ask me – but at least the views of the harbour was good (if you snag the right table that is, and not at dinnertime as it gets dark and there is nothing to see)

By the time we got dinner done the sun had well and truly set and it was already fully dark. We walked back out to the carpark to the car, stopping for more poor quality photographs (one shaken and the other over-flashed), before heading back to the serviced apartment.

I had to clean my NineWest heels when I got back, but otherwise it had been another enjoyable day.

Looking forward to another new day tomorrow!

Occasion: Business trip

Wearing:

Blouse: CUE long-sleeved button-up fitted white blouse

Skirt: CUE black pencil skirt with fluted hem and waterfall ruffle and exposed back zip

Pumps: NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps

Hosiery: nude stay-up stockings from Target

Xoxo

Natalie

OOTD: business trip to Albany Western Australia (Day 1)

Since the pandemic Australia has pretty much disintegrated as one country. Let’s not even talk about closure of the international borders: each State has erected its own opaque system whereby interstate Australians are not allowed to enter. While there is talk of Sydney opening its borders again to both interstate and international travellers, here in Western Australia the state Government is adamant its state borders remain closed.

State border closures to stop outsiders from coming into Western Australia has had a huge impact on local businesses. Again, let’s not even talk about closure of the international borders which stopped international students and tourists coming in. Closure of the interstate borders meant our usual access of cashed-up Melbournian and Sydney-siders has dried up. Which means one has to get creative doing business within Western Australia itself.

While there is talk of Sydney opening its borders again to both interstate and international travellers, here in Western Australia the state Government is adamant its state borders remain closed. With little prospect of opening up, we have decided to tap into domestic business opportunities within the state for the first time.

So a few weeks ago we headed up north to Port Hedland, a hot, dusty and unappealing mining town.

Judging by the deals we made over the 1 day trip, it was deemed a success. So the company decided to attempt to repeat that by now looking south. Why the south? Apparently data shows that the south west is experiencing an unexpected and unprecedented building boom.

So when my boss asked if I were keen to join him on the second business trip in weeks, this time a few days down south within the State to Albany, I jumped on the opportunity again and said yes. I’ve never been to Albany. Heck, I have no idea where Albany even is. But it can’t be worse than Port Hedland and a quick google shows there are wineries and national parks – so I gather it’s a bit like Margaret River. Given this business trip is involve overnight stays I am definitely looking forward to it, to do some dining in local restaurants, some sight-seeing, and shopping on the side. My boss planned to mix business with pleasure. We’d work tomorrow and Friday, and because we were staying over the weekend and we were obviously not working on the Saturday and Sunday, I will have the weekend in Albany being accomodated on company’s expense before continuing to work early next week. Yes boss, I am definitely in!

The choice of outfit for the first day of any business trip is one of the most important considerations for me when I travel on business. Not only must I be comfortable in it for the hours spent sitting in the airport, on the plane and on the road, but it must also look professional when I finally arrive at the destination for the meetings and clients. We had a meeting scheduled over dinner in Albany on the same evening – essentially a business dinner – so I decided to get dressed and fly in the same outfit I was going to wear to dinner in case we had delays to our journey and needed to head straight off to dinner.

So today, with this evening’s dinner schedule in mind, I decided to wear a lovely CUE satin Zip Front Sleeveless Jacquard Dress. I recall when I first bought the dress I wasn’t sure if I would like it. It was the only one left on the rack in that design and I thought it was one size too small: when I tried it on it fitted snugly and I thought the dress was a little too short. And there was also the front zip dilemma like I explained previously- prone to go out of fashion. But I fell in love with the cut and the blue floral motifs, so I bought it anyway.

Buying it initially with wearing it to the office in mind, it ended becoming one of my favourite go-to dresses, not merely for the office but for going out on dates, a night out, or the weekends.  I can’t explain why and how it ended becoming one of my favourite go-to dresses, for all its flaws there was something quite lovely about it. Maybe it’s in the details: the blue floral motifs, little collar details, tiny little word ‘CUE’ embossed on the zipper tab. Maybe it is the breezy flared hem. Maybe it’s the flattering cut. Maybe it’s the flirty front zip (which usually starts fully zipped up at the start of the night and become progressively more and more unzipped as the situation requires and as night progresses…). Who knows. But whatever it is about this dress, I fell in love.

A dash of light make-up, my favourite CUE Black Revere Collar Wool Blazer, a sensible pair of NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps, nude hosiery, and my usual earrings, pearl necklace and pearl bracelet set complete the elegant and professional look and I am ready to head off to the airport with my boss.

We got to the airport, and just as we were about to fly from Perth airport and I just noticed there was a news article of a Regional Express plane engine on fire not too long ago… yikes!

The Regional Express plane – and I must my first time flying Regional Express – is a small, cramped little turbo-prop of questionable reliability. It’s hard to stand up completely straight inside (the ceilings are low), and has an antiquated seating pattern of 1 seat on the left of the plane, and 2 on the right.

Snagging a left hand side window seat so that I don’t have to be seated next to anyone, I enjoyed the view of the Swan River as the little turbo-prop plane lifted off from Perth airport and headed south.

Looking behind me, I even got a glimpse of Perth CBD’s skyline in the afternoon sun.

Arriving in Albany Just over an hour plus later. We disembarked the plane on the tarmac and with the rest of the passengers into the airport’s arrival area. Albany airport is a charming little provincial airport – the arrival area is open, shared with passengers waiting to depart, with a tourist information booth on one end next to car hire booths. A luggage conveyor belt is at the end, under a logo of a whale and the words ‘Amazing Albany’.

I am surprised rental car hire seems popular at the airport – I can only guess it is due to a lack of public transport in town? In any case I am more surprised by the number of outsiders visiting Albany. Maybe it is true that the south west offers opportunities for boom and business.

We pick up the keys to the rental car and walked over to a carpark on our left outside the airport building. Things look even more promising as we stepped out of Albany airport: in the car park right outside was a $200,000 Range Rover SUV. And behind it a $140,000 Toyota Landcruiser. Maybe the south west is truly booming…

The rental car – a white non-descript something – was much cleaner than any other rental car I experienced. We loaded our luggage in the trunk of the car and got in, then I realised I forgot to pick up some tourist brochures – given we were staying over the weekend I was looking forward to some sight seeing. We did a loop back to the main car park in front of the airport.

I picked up some brochures and asked my boss to take a picture of me standing in front of Albany Airport to send to hubby and my parents – well let’s just say I don’t know what he did. Whatever he did he didn’t get me standing and smiling in front of Albany airport, but instead got a few grainy ones of me walking back to the car. I don’t know what he did, go figure. But given he is my boss, I couldn’t complaint.

We drove headed towards our accommodation. My boss had booked a 2 bedroom serviced apartment in a locality in Albany called Middleton Beach, which I see on the map is some distance away from the town centre. Middleton beach seemed like a really nice place. There is a large landscaped park, and our accommodation is to the right of the photograph. 

We found the place – called Dolphin Lodge – and checked in. Now this is when our accommodation arrangements get complicated: nothing to do with the serviced apartment, but everything to do with my boss.

My boss planned to mix business with pleasure. We’d work tomorrow and Friday, and because we were staying over the weekend and we were obviously not working on the Saturday and Sunday, my boss arranged for his wife and kids to fly into Albany Friday afternoon and they’d spend the weekend with him, and then he’d drop his wife and kids off Monday morning and we continued to work early next week.

Like every good tight arsed boss, to save money he had arranged for me to sleep in the same 2 bedroom serviced apartment as he was staying in tonight and tomorrow (Thursday) night, then have me moved to a studio from Friday and over the weekend, before moving me back into the 2 bedroom serviced apartment on Monday morning. So instead of having to pay for 2 separate apartments throughout our work trip in Albany he’d only pay for 2 when his wife and kids are in town.

As for the hire car, he’d rented just one for now and again like the serviced apartment, on Friday he’d drop me off at Albany airport to pick up a separate one for myself to use over the weekend and then on Monday I’d drop off the second hire car and meet him at the airport as he drops off his wife and kids. So instead of having to pay for 2 separate rental cars throughout our work trip in Albany, he’d only pay for 2 when his wife and kids are in town.

Sounds complicated? Yeah it took me a while to get it around my head too. It’s all about cost saving, according to him. So what it means for me a quite a bit of unpacking and packing and unpacking and packing again. I suppose business trip do sound more glamorous than they actually are…

We arrived at the accommodation and checked in, finding ourselves in a 2 bedroom apartment on the top floor of the building. I didn’t have much time to unpack – a quick touch up of my make-up and we headed off for dinner.

Dinner tonight, with a business client and my boss, was in a restaurant a short walk down the road towards the beach called the Three Anchors.

Heading back to the accommodation on foot after dinner in the slight drizzle (we walked to the restaurant and it started to rain after we arrived), my first impressions of the serviced apartment are as below. The boss had the larger bedroom which overlooked the road and I had the smaller one overlooking the internal courtyard. I unpack and within an hour concluded that Dolphin Lodge is a weird mix of good and bad… overall difficult to rate as the weird mix of good and bad are at both ends of the spectrum, so I have listed the good and bad points and it’s up to you to decide what you can put up with and what you cannot.

The good:

-Renovated and full kitchen including dishwasher, oven, full-sized refrigerator

-Renovated bathroom

-Premium toiletries including sewing kits and dental kits

The bad:

-Noisy: motel style building accommodation with noise from courtyard, neighbours (I can hear the conversation of others next door and from downstairs), central common area

-Dusty, dated bedrooms: smells old (in fact all my clothes had the old house smell after unpacking in the room)

-My allergies are triggered: Dusty, dated bedrooms definitely not for those with dust allergies – I even had to pop an antihistamine within an hour of arriving – not a good start!

-Despite full kitchen, there is no laundry (they have a shared laundry instead).

It’s getting on in the evening so it’s time for me to have a shower unwind and turn in, I’ll hopefully have more to write tomorrow!

Xoxo

Occasion: Business trip

Wearing:

Dress: CUE Zip Front Sleeveless Jacquard Dress

Blazer: CUE Black Revere Collar Wool Blazer

Belt: CUE

Pumps: NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps

Hosiery: nude stay-up stockings from Target

Xoxo

Natalie

My house (It is after all 2021. Fake is so passé, and authenticity is in.)

Someone who reads my blog asked me if I could send him some photos of my house. He told me he was expecting it to look as stylish as vogue magazine, given what I wear and how I dress.

I wished I lived in something as stylish as those in vogue magazine.

Of course, I could fake a few by posting photographs from one of the professionally styled high end properties I have access to working in real estate (and claim it as my house), because as you know for any style influencer the lifestyle those meticulously curated photos on Instagram conjure are often as far fetched as it can be from reality.

But you know what, I think I am going to be honest.

It is after all 2021. Fake is so passé, and authenticity is in.

Yes I love fashion.

And yes I spend money on good clothes and I dress well.

But when it comes to the place I live in it is nothing high end really, and to be honest it is very very ordinary with very basic and at times mismatched finishing (for example: carpets in some areas of laminate wood floors in others, some rooms recently repainted and others retain older style wood panelling). It is not that I do not want to live in something like looks like a show house out of Vogue magazine, but the reality is that I am not a billionaire’s wife nor a heiress and Australia is a very expensive country and the quality of what you get for the same price you pay in other countries compared to here in Australia is that what you get in Australia is grossly inferior.

The kitchen is probably the nicest part of the house as we had it renovated (renovation cost was $45,000 – and as you can see the compared to quality of what you get for the same price you pay in other countries here in Australia what you get is grossly inferior). My kitchen is looks as per some of the old photos I posted –

This one of the kitchen is brighter.

And yes I am wearing Karen Millen dresses on both photos.

I am too embarrassed to show the kitchen’s current state today as it is a complete mess with boxes of cereal, 3 minute noodles, tinned food etc covering most of the previously empty and neat benchtop (during the COVID-19 outbreak supermarket shelves in Australia were empty, and with Western Australia fond of declaring snap ‘lock-downs’ even with ONE case of COVID-19, I had little choice but to turn to the unhealthy habit of hoarding food – hence most of the previously empty and neat benchtop is now taken up by boxes of food).

And to be honest it’s not just the kitchen that is a mess. The dining table tonight:

And on the other corner of the lounge room taken tonight this has been there for days:

You probably have also already seen one of my bathrooms… this one I keep it meticulously clean as I hate peeing in a dirty toilet and bathing in a dirty bathroom.

One of the bedrooms (taken with me sitting on the bed…)

The other (larger) bedroom with a larger built in wardrobe that I keep most of my current dresses – this looks nicer as we had the panelling removed from the wall and then the bare wall repainted recently – just to make it look more contemporary as panelling can give a dated look to the room.

I hope I didn’t disappoint any of you – but as you know for any style influencer the lifestyle those meticulously curated photos on Instagram conjure are often as far fetched as it can be from reality. For me, at least, I am choosing not to lie. It is after all 2021. Fake is so passé, and authenticity is in. Your turn – show me how does your house look like?

Xoxo

Natalie

Herbert Adams gourmet pies tasted (and rated and ranked)

Diversifying from my usual fashion blog, let’s talk about food today.

I am partial to a good pie from time to time. Not necessarily wanting to pay top price for a product whose quality don’t always match the asking price, the best time to try something is often when there is a discount. So when the supermarket chain Woolworths slashed the prices of frozen Herbert Adams gourmet pies to half price this week, I decided it was time to buy and try.

Now my attitude to food tasting is a bit like wine tasting (or in this day and age, whisky tasting) – best when done side by side and rated out of 5. Heading out to my nearest Woolworths supermarket on Wednesday last week I bought all 4 available flavours in one go: slow cooked King Island beef in rich gravy, chicken and leek in creamy camembert sauce, slow cooked beef with shiraz and cracked pepper, chunky sous vide beef and button mushroom.

I had some over the weekend and decided to get some more today before the discount ends but as you can see the half-off-usual-price pies have proven immensely popular: I went back today and the shelves were completely empty of pies! (the one last packet you see was a damaged pack: the box was split gaping open).

So how do they compare?

On Friday:

I had the chicken and leek in creamy camembert pie, with home-made mashed potato on the side.

My thoughts on the pie: it’s great if you like camembert cheese, but if you don’t I think the pie is a bit cheesy. Generally better quality than other brands of frozen pies you can get at the supermarket. 3.5/5

On Saturday:

I had the slow cooked beef with shiraz and cracked pepper, with asparagus and home-made mashed potato on the side.

My thoughts on this pie: very good. Taste wise it is approaching the quality of those pies you get at a bakery, with meat chunks in the filling and a crust that is buttery and also not too thick. Shiraz sauce is delicious. About as good as frozen pies come. And did I mention taste wise it is approaching the quality of those pies you get at a bakery, but without the high prices? 5/5

On Sunday:

With my hopes high given how much I enjoyed the beef with shiraz and cracked pepper pie, I am eating the King Island beef in rich gravy today.

My thoughts on this pie: good, but not quite as tasty as the shiraz and cracked pepper pie. A slight disappointment as my hopes were held high by the ‘King Island beef’ and ‘rich’ gravy, but I somehow prefer the delicious Shiraz sauce. Could it be a matter of personal preference? 3.8/5

Final verdict: Herbert Adams gourmet pies certainly tastes better than those of other brands, and if you pick the right flavour (namely slow cooked beef with shiraz and cracked pepper) they approach the quality of those pies you get at a bakery, but without the high prices.

Xoxo

Natalie

OOTD – FIRST BUSINESS TRIP SINCE THE PANDEMIC!

What a long work day it had been for me today!

When I think business trips, I think of my father. When I was still a little girl, I remember he used to travel a lot for business. I remember my mother would ask us to kiss father goodbye, and we’d see him leave the house. Then I would miss him for a few days, not understanding what was going on. When I grew older, I started to understand: Doing business involve travelling. I’d watch him pack before his trips. The neatly folded shirts and suits go in a well-used but rugged Samsonite case, documents go in a black briefcase, and toothbrush in a small hand-carry bag. When father came home from those business trips, there were stories, gifts from exotic overseas destinations, and cuddles and kisses for me.

Growing up watching my father travel, I always wanted to do the same. It looked glamorous and exciting back in my father’s days.

But little did I know the reality is not quite the same as I thought it would be. As I only found out after I started working, business trips usually meant ridiculously early mornings (to make the first flight of the day) and late nights, usually to save the company money of an extra overnight hotel expense. There’s the long hours spent on the road, usually a combination of flying and driving. By the time I arrived at the destination, I usually have to hit the ground running with tight schedules of meetings and clients, and still remain cheerful and professional despite already being tired, thirsty and hungry. And the destination? Well, it isn’t always London or New York (in my case, it never had been and Sydney was about as best it got for me).

In spite it all, I still look forward to business trips: there’s always the hope that there’s time between schedules to take in some sights, or more importantly, do some shopping (especially the ones I go to Melbourne or Sydney). But since the pandemic hit, Australia has pretty much disintegrated as one country. Let’s not even talk about closure of the international borders: each State has erected its own opaque system whereby interstate Australians are not allowed to enter. And given I live in Western Australia the state border is still closed, meaning interstate business trips are now still a thing of the past.

State border closures to stop outsiders from coming into Western Australia has had a huge impact on local businesses. Again, let’s not even talk about closure of the international borders which stopped international students and tourists coming in. Closure of the interstate borders meant our usual access of cashed-up Melbournian and Sydney-siders has dried up. Which means one has to get creative to make business within Western Australia itself. And for the first time, we have decided to tap into those domestic opportunities. Business is business. Unlike the Australian government which saw it sensible to declare a trade war with our biggest trading partner China, I am not that dumb. If there is business to be done and money to be made, I’m in.

So when my boss asked if I were keen to join him on a business trip up north within the State to Port Hedland, I basically jumped on the opportunity and said yes. I’ve never been to Port Hedland. Heck, I have no idea where Port Hedland even is besides hearing about it as the place where miners fly in and out to. The way my boss scheduled the trip was an early morning flight from Perth into Port Hedland, conduct some business meetings, and then out on the evening flight. I usually prefer my business trips to involve overnight stays so that I can do some dining in local restaurants, some sight-seeing, and shopping but given I haven’t been able to leave the state for over a year I was just desperate for a change and wasn’t fussy with what essentially is a long daytrip.

I must admit I am truly not a morning person and hate early morning wake ups. With a 6.50am flight, it was still dark when I got out of bed at 4.15am to get dressed to get ready to drive to the airport. I checked the weather at Port Hedland, noted it to be hot at 29 degrees celcius, and decided to get dressed in something that will keep me cool: a CUE fitted sleeveless button up blouse in cool white, matched with a knee length skirt, my CUE black pencil skirt with waterfall ruffle. I slipped on a my NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps to complete the professional look.

Arriving at the airport this morning at 5.30am, I met up with my boss, we got thru security and headed up to the Qantas lounge (he has lounge access) for a glass of apple juice.

By the time we took off the sun was creeping up. Arriving in Port Hedland, my first impressions of the place are as follows.

One: Almost everyone on that plane are miners – and yes they all were wear their fluoro mining uniforms everywhere.

Two: Ordinary West Australians locked up within their own state by the ongoing border closures are as desperate as myself to get out – on the plane we sat next to some Perth based tourists heading up to Port Hedland for holidays even though this is essentially a mining town with no touristic value!!! (P.S. when tripadvisor rates the tourist information centre as number 2 when it comes to must see, you know the place – or any place for that matter – has no touristic value!!!).

Three: It’s hot up there. And humid. And dusty. Yuck. I wore a cool outfit for this trip: a white sleeveless CUE button up blouse paired with an knee length CUE black pencil skirt with waterfall ruffle, but even with that the combination of heat, humidity and dust was unpleasant.

Four: Everything about this town screams mining. 1 in 2 vehicles driving around town are mining company vehicles with the mining company logos emblazoned on the cars. And as if that is not enough as a reminder you can see mining buildings from virtually any street in the town centre (look above the trees).

Five: I was wayyyy over-dressed. Never wear a skirt and heels when travelling to a mining town – you’ll stand out. I should have known better – Port Hedland is after all a rough mining town.

My first time in Port Hedland, or any mining town for that matter, I can’t help but notice through the day that everything is harsh and so, for lack of a better word, unsophisticated: The sun, the heat, the dust, the food, the water, the coffee (yes, we had to get coffee). How could anyone chose to live in a place like that? Those poor ordinary West Australians locked up within their own state by the ongoing border closures get out on the plane we sat next heading up to Port Hedland for their holidays – what were they thinking of?

In any case, I have also noticed that since Australia started the trade war with China and the state and international borders both closed, Australians have to put up with higher costs of living and rampant rip-offs. Our short 2 hour domestic flight to Port Hedland from Perth cost us over $1300 per head, and that is flying just economy! Back in the days before closed border that sort of money can get you flying return to Europe on economy!

Business meetings done, at the end of a hot, dusty and humid afternoon, I can’t wait to jump into the shower at the end of this long hot, dusty and humid work day for me. Earlier in the day I concluded that I was wayyyy over-dressed: Never wear a skirt and heels when travelling to a mining town – you’ll stand out. I should have known better – Port Hedland is after all a rough mining town. Now I have come to another conclusion: never wear white to a desert outback mining town. Even the air is dirty and I’ll have a job washing the red dust and the mining dirt off my white blouse when I get back. But our flight wasn’t going to leave until later. So we stopped by the only tourist attraction in Port Hedland before our evening flight back to Perth: the mines.

And watch the mining train haul carriage after carriage of precious dirt along to railway to be exported to the country which is our biggest trading partner, which coincidentally is also the same country our government is declaring a trade war with: China.

Hasn’t any one ever told our government one does not bite the hand from which it feeds?

Xoxo

Natalie

Occasion: Business trip (day trip)

Wearing:

CUE fitted white sleeveless button up blouse 

CUE black pencil skirt with waterfall ruffle

NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps

OOTD office and new car test drive – Toyota Camry sedan

Alright, I admit: What was I thinking? A city girl driving a Toyota Camry large sized sedan.

So the last car I test drove was the Subaru Liberty, a large sized sedan. My colleague recently bought a new Toyota Camry hybrid and the times I rode in his car I felt it was pretty decent, so I figured if I was to consider the Subaru Liberty I should test drive the next nearest popular competitor, the new Toyota Camry, just to see what large sized sedan at that price point buys me.

With this in mind, I decided to return to the Toyota dealership sometime in the afternoon today.

While my choice of car for this test drive may be a mistake, my dress certainly wasn’t. With an important meeting at work this morning and then a schedule of inspecting the properties we manage at lunchtime before my afternoon test drive, I decided I needed a dress to impress both my clients and work colleagues.

I decide to wear my Karen Millen Floral Bodycon Pencil Dress. The dress’s midi length keeps my knees covered so it’s office appropriate. Its cheerful floral print should put a splash to an otherwise boring real estate corporate environment. A sleeveless pencil dress with a sweatheart neckline, the cut is figure-hugging but Karen Millen’s signature stretch fabric makes this a more comfortable dress to wear than my other Karen Millen dresses, and it fits me very nicely and the material has a great feel to it so I don’t just look good wearing it, but feel good.

Given there will be a bit of walking between properties we manage during my lunchtime work schedule I decided to wear my NineWest ‘Mailin’ black patent leather pumps matched with my usual nude thigh high stockings instead of my usual go-to pair of Salvatore Ferragamo slingback high heeled pumps (the NineWest pumps have a more sensible heel height than my Ferragamos) for my all important footwear.

In the afternoon, I headed off after work from the office to the Toyota car dealership. My thoughts after test driving the brand new Toyota Camry sedan:

LIKES:

  • Quiet, refined, and rides quite plush really.
  • Even the drive and handling is reasonably good.
  • Stylish interior.
  • Avant-garde styled air-conditioning vents (I am an air-conditioning vent girl remember?)
  • Interior well put together and well screwed together.
  • Spacious – in everyway. Plenty of leg room front and back.
  • Value, relatively speaking. The Toyota Corolla, a smaller car, is quoted to me as $30,952 whereas the Camry is quoted to me today as $34,850: at only a $4000 difference the Corolla  is almost as expensive as Camry so the Camry, being larger and more refined in every way, is better value. Compared to the Subaru Liberty sedan which I recently drove I was quoted $44,999, so the Toyota Camry is almost $10,000 cheaper.

DISLIKES:

  • I still don’t like that large tablet like touch screen which seems to be a common feature across all Toyotas – it is oversized but sparse when it comes to functions or display: in short the little information and function the screen possess can be squeezed into something half the size and still works fine.
  • Reputation and memory of Toyota Camrys are marred by one too many rides in dirty and poorly maintained taxis driven by abusive Australian taxi drivers.
  • Size wise the Camry is wayyyy too big for me – overly unsuitably big for a city girl like me and I can see myself struggling to drive it around congested inner city and parking it.
  • And besides, a girl like me don’t suit a car like a Camry (at best it’s a family man’s car, not a young woman’s car; at worst a taxi…)

CONCLUSION:

The large sized Toyota Camry sedan is actually a decent car: Quiet, refined, and rides quite plush really. Even the drive and handling is reasonably good. I’d even go as far to say it’s pretty luxurious in terms of the interior design and the refinement. While their reputation and memory of Toyota Camrys are marred by one too many rides in dirty and poorly maintained taxis driven by abusive Australian taxi drivers, at the end of the day it’s just wayyyy too big for me: an overly unsuitably big car for a city girl like me. Probably even too big even if/when I have kids (I’d probably prefer something like a Peugeot 3008 if/when I start having kids).

Occasion: Office & new car test drive – new Toyota Camry sedan

Wearing:

Karen Millen Floral Bodycon Pencil Dress

NineWest ‘Mailin’ black patent leather pumps

Nude thigh high stockings from Target

xoxo

Natalie

OOTD – Karen Millen Floral Bodycon Pencil Dress

I decide to wear my Karen Millen Floral Bodycon Pencil Dress to the office this morning. The dress’s midi length keeps my knees covered so it’s office appropriate. Its cheerful floral print should put a splash to an otherwise boring real estate corporate environment. A sleeveless pencil dress with a sweatheart neckline, the cut is figure-hugging but Karen Millen’s signature stretch fabric makes this a more comfortable dress to wear than my other Karen Millen dresses, and it fits me very nicely and the material has a great feel to it so I don’t just look good wearing it, but feel good.

Given there will be a bit of walking between properties we manage during my lunchtime work schedule I decided to wear my NineWest ‘Mailin’ black patent leather pumps matched with my usual nude thigh high stockings instead of my usual go-to pair of Salvatore Ferragamo slingback high heeled pumps (the NineWest pumps have a more sensible heel height than my Ferragamos) for my all important footwear.

Occasion: Office

Wearing:

Karen Millen Floral Bodycon Pencil Dress

NineWest ‘Mailin’ black patent leather pumps

Nude thigh high stockings from Target

xoxo

Natalie

OOTD office and new car test drive – Subaru Liberty sedan

While SUV seem all the rage, my recent test drives opened my eyes.

SUVs aren’t always the most practical (think the tiny Mazda CX-3), nor drive better than sedans or hatches (think the Subaru Forrester), nor the cheapest (think Peugeot 3008): You don’t get plenty of car for your cash if you are merely chasing an SUV to keep up with your neighbours or colleagues.

Test driving the achingly stylish Peugeot 3008 makes me realise with SUVs you can be paying for a 2 wheel drive at (premium) 4 wheel drive prices (the Peugeot looks like a 4 wheel drive, but isn’t). Test driving the similarly priced Subaru Forester SUV ($46,990 is the price quoted to me) made me realise even if an SUV is 4 wheel drive it doesn’t actually drive in a way to give me a sense of security. After all I want something that drove better and felt more reassuring than my Yaris. The Subaru Forester just doesn’t.

So I decided to go back to sedans.

But given I wanted something that drove better and felt more reassuring than my Yaris, I figured a 4-wheel-drive sedan could be the answer. And when it comes to 4-wheel-drive sedans, the options are painfully lacking and dismal in Australia: I cannot think of anything else other than Subarus that do 4-wheel-drive sedans. So I guess that is how I ended up back in the Subaru car dealership wearing my Karen Millen Blue Floral Embroidered Midi Pencil Dress this afternoon.

I don’t want to be a rally driver or a hoon, so I decided to avoid the Subaru Impreza and went for the more practical Liberty instead.

I am surprised to hear that apparently the Subaru Liberty has been discontinued (like permanently) for the Australian market, so all that is left is pretty much demonstrator/ used. But that means potential discounts so I figured if a low kilometer demonstrator suits me I could be saving money.

My thoughts of the Subaru Liberty after my test drive:

LIKES

  • Centre console infotainment display is colourful and actually has information to display (unlike the larger tablet-like screen on Toyotas which, while large, has little in the way of information to display).
  • Instrument display is similarly colourful.
  • Gorgeously crafted steering wheel (which comes with paddle-shifters) – solid feeling and packed full of convenience buttons/ function.
  • Handling and drive.
  • Just right size: spacious on the inside, but compact enough on the outside to make it easy enough to park for a woman like me.
  • Reputation for safety.
  • Old school twin exhaust on each side of the rear of the car.
  • Attention to detail, which includes stainless steel pedals and ‘Subaru’ embossed stainless steel plates on inside of door.

DISLIKES

  • Silver plastics around the air-conditioning vents and centre console looks cheap.
  • Air conditioning vents design lags behind competitors: I am an air-conditioning vent girl and these ones on the Subaru look cheap.
  • While I like the colourful instrument display, it is too busy and cluttered: it’s really hard to read the important and basic information, like my speed, among all the other less important information displayed there.
  • Might be something as simple as an adjustment, but the test car’s clock and temperature gauge is wayyyy off: it says its 5.47am – well, it’s not. Which Subaru dealership is open before 6 am for customer test drives? None. The temperature says its 13 degrees – it’s not. It’s closer to 23 degrees.

CONCLUSION:

Key standout is the just right size (like the Peugeot 3008 the Subaru Liberty has features a just right size: spacious on the inside, but compact enough on the outside to make it easy enough to park for a woman like me) and handling/ drive, which is so different from the Subaru Forester (both cars are 4 wheel drive, and while the Forester handles and drives to nervously especially around bends, corners, potholes, but just generally woolly the Liberty is the complete opposite: planted, brisk, confident.)

A decent package with a drive that induces confidence like a 4 wheel drive ought to. I actually quite like it.

Occasion: Office & new car test drive – Subaru Liberty

Wearing:

my Karen Millen Blue Floral Embroidered Midi Pencil Dress

Salvatore Ferragamo slingback high heeled pumps

Nude thigh high hosiery from target

Xoxo

Natalie

OOTD: Karen Millen Blue Floral Embroidered Midi Pencil Dress

So a few months ago I bought yet another Karen Millen dress, a Blue Floral Embroidered Midi Pencil Dress.

I’ve always been told I look good in blue, so I guess the colour is what caught my attention first. But honestly, what I truly love about the dress is the pretty embroidered floral pattern on the waist and hip.

The midi length should mean I can wear it to the office and to work. Furthermore, the truth is I still cannot get enough of Karen Millen dresses. Karen Millen dresses are flattering, on-trend, and well made. So I just couldn’t help myself.

Given that goddamn border is still closed (not on the UK side, but on the Australian side from which I’ve had to leave), and Karen Millen decided to close shop in Australia, I have little choice but to buy the dress online.

Now my friends will know I hate online shopping (I can’t try it on for size and fit, and also can’t inspect the goods for quality and workmanship, and I have to WAIT for the item to arrive after buying rather than instantly having it in my hot little hands after paying for it), but this time it worked out alright from Karen Millen: it arrived promptly enough, it actually fits, and the quality and workmanship is top class.

Having stashed it away for a few months (you know, with lock downs and closed borders and work from home and so forth) there really wasn’t an excuse to wear it. But I decided it was about time I actually wore it today.

The pretty embroidered floral pattern on the waist and hip of the dress looks as good in real life on the actual dress as they do on the photos online. The shimmering blue looks good on me (my mom have always been told I look good in blue – I guess she is right).

The Bardot style wide horizontal straps that goes across the top of my chest to my upper arms I am still unsure (and it certainly does restrict my arm movement) – I think I have pretty prominent shoulders and it will just draw attention to the ugliest parts of my body. However I think everything else about that dress balances it out.

Here are some more photos on the model from Karen Millen’s website and also others on social media wearing the same dress in case you want to know how it looks like worn in real life (which I think is quite informative for online shopping – some of those artificially shot photos on clothing websites don’t always looks the same when worn in real life by real people).

Slipping on my favourite go-to pair of Salvatore Ferragamo slingback high heeled pumps, I am ready to go out to face the cut-throat real estate industry corporate world.

Occasion: Office/ work

Wearing:

my Karen Millen Blue Floral Embroidered Midi Pencil Dress

Pleasure State matching satin lilac bra and g-string set

Salvatore Ferragamo slingback high heeled pumps

Nude thigh high hosiery from target

Salvatore Ferragamo slingback high heeled pumps

Xoxo

Natalie