On All Hallows’ Eve Eve (that is, 30th October), I had the great fortune of being invited to the Australian Human Resources Institute’s Diversity Awards Dinner because my organisation had been nominated for two awards. It was even more fortunate that the dinner was held in Melbourne.
I flew to southward, mid afternoon, indulging in A Winter’s Tale as my in-flight entertainment, my love of Lady Sybill overshadowing my slight and unfounded distrust of Colin Farrell.
I stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which has absolutely opulent decor and, interestingly, a salacious reputation as the location from which a particular Labor MP allegedly organised rendezvous with a number of call girls.
But I’m not going to hold that against it, especially given that the bathroom was so posh it was made of black marble and had sketches of (what I can only imagine to be) French prostitutes bathing.
See below the mademoiselle undertaking her toilette in the background of my embarrassingly narcissistic bathroom selfie. (Obviously taken for the purpose of checking my makeup still looked fine when not mirrored…)
I was also really impressed by the couch/booth that served both as a location to recline and eat (without spilling the food all over yourself which inevitably happens to me when I don’t have a table in front of me).
But I didn’t have much time to enjoy the room, because I was determined to take the opportunity of being in Melbourne to make an express visit to one of my very favourite European shops H&M (I think this might make me “basic”, but I’m yet to have a spiced pumpkin latte or re-tweet #tay4hottest100 so I think I’m still safe enough). H&M had only been in Melbourne for a few months, but I was surprised that I remembered the location, where there is a sculpture of a giant clam shell.
In about half an hour and for less than $100, I bought 3 work-appropriate lace blouses, a singlet dress, a woven cardigan and a pair denim shorts that are actually an appropriate length for someone who likes to keep her bottom to herself.
Then, it was time for the big event! I took some photos of myself in my room before going down. Some weren’t timed very well.
I was a little in awe of the company I was keeping – the who’s who of senior management in my business! For example, I took some photos in the lobby with the VP of HR, as one does… I felt a little bit like Colin Creevy hanging out with Harry Potter.
The event was beautifully put together. We were treated to a moving performance of Let it Be by the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus and the compare was entertaining for the majority of the time (with the exception of his impression of the recently deceased Gough Whitlam). And the food was excellent (with the exception of the portion of pistachio ice cream that ended up on my dress.)
We were nominated for two awards – Gender Equity in the Workplace and the AHRI Diversity Champion Award (recognising CEOs who champion the cause). You’ll notice that I say “we” very loosely given that the first nomination was the result of the very dedicated efforts of our Diversity team and the second can really only be claimed by our CEO himself.
We had a 100% success rate with our nominations, winning two out of two awards! The first was accepted by the VP of HR and the second, not surprisingly by our CEO:
The rest of the night was spent celebrating and posing for photos:
The next morning, we visited some of our intermodal operations at Altona and Dynon.
I’ll fast forward over the rail/truck tour details for those of you without a train fetish and on to something that I think we would all find interesting… lunch!
I met up with the Chair of the Institute of Railway Engineers Australia Younger Members’ Committee for lunch at Chin Chin.
We perched ourselves on one of the few remaining seats on the bar and proceeded to be overwhelmed by the menu. In the end, the waiter had to help us choose the following:
King fish sashimi with lime chilli coconut and thai basil
Wok fried salt and pepper squid with nudc cham and vietnamese mint
Crispy barramundi and green apple salad with caramelised pork, chilli and lemongrass
They were all wonderful, but the baramundi and pork was my favourite. I can still remember the delightful sour tang that puckered my mouth as if I were taking a duck face selfie. I’m now salivating like Pavlov’s dog…
I flew home in the afternoon after partaking in the delights of the Melbourne Velocity Lounge, which has a priority security gate. What luxury!
I spent the flight trying not to cry while watching The Book Thief. What a great film! I would have been a bawling mess if I had not suppressed my feelings like a McDonald’s employee compressing trash.
I was met at the airport by Davey, and Kimmi and Damo who had come to spend the weekend after a conference Kimmi attended during the day on Friday.
We went into the city for some Friday night shopping… well some of us shopped and some of us visited the pub. I think you can guess who went where, especially considering that Kimmi is expecting a little Bailliewood (and she’s a responsible, dedicated mum-to-be).
Kimmi and I went on the hunt for maternity wear. Unfortunately, the Queen Street Mall was a bit lacking in this department, aside from Jeans West, which has a surprisingly great range, but we did see some very cute baby clothes anyway. I also managed to get a little bit of christmas shopping done so the excursion was not entirely wasted.
We met the boys for dinner at Vapianos. If you are yet to have to pleasure of dining at Vapianos, I’ll give you a quick induction. You get an electronic card that gets swiped at different stations where chefs are cooking food in front of you. Then at the end, you pay for whatever’s been swiped on your card. It’s a bit like having a self-serve tab. It’s also a wonderful place for stuffing yourself full of pizza and pasta, as we did.
We rolled home for a good sleep. I really had been a long day for me, as it often is when you wake up in a different time zone.
In the morning, after failing to have breakfast at South Side Diner, we drove to Gasworks to dine at Buzz, one of the rare places one can find savoury mince for breakfast. Kimmi and Damo seemed happy with their breakfasts, even if they didn’t have savoury mince.
We took Kimmi to a maternity wear shop in the Grange. The clothes were beautiful and cut perfectly under the bust, just the way I like. Such a shame they were maternity wear! Kimmi picked up some great pieces.
Then we had an excursion to Ikea to look at potential baby furniture. Damo tried out some very comfy chairs and Davey tried, once again, to convince me to get a cow hide.
In the evening, we cooked an amazing lamb roast on the webber and finished off the evening with some low fat orange muffins.
On Sunday morning, we walked across the bridge to the botanic gardens, stopping briefly for a photo.
We had some breakfast at a cafe in the gardens and had made a little friend.
We returned to the mall for a little more shopping while Davey argued with Telstra and then descended into the cool darkness of O’Malley’s for a steak lunch special.
On our way home, we walked through the parklands, which were helpfully labelled, incase we forgot what city we were in.
It was truly a bittersweet experience to stop in to T-Licious for a Devonshire tea this time because they were closing in a few days, and it would be our last scone there.
Time had certainly run out.
After a short power nap, we dropped Kimmi and Damo at the airport and said goodbye, or at least “au reviour”, until Christmas!
I thought it might have been a good opportunity to stay in Melbourne leading up to the Melbourne Cup but it was really lovely to see Kimmi and Damo, and I always think I’m going to enjoy the races but it’s never as romantic as in My Fair Lady. And also, so I didn’t feel too left out, I just wore my fascinator to work on Tuesday, because I could. A win all round!