January. With it comes this intangible air of revival and rejuvenation. Not really in the trite 'new year, new you' sense, but more or less in this unanimous deep sigh that every holidayer releases as they dig out their deckchairs and daiquiris. What's more, the social calendar is bursting at the seems with summery staycations and sun-soaked events. It's been gruelling on the economic front. Just about every cent has been pried off me (see, this implies that it was against my own will - aka a really good way at disassociating yourself from all blame) by ridiculously good looking bartenders and ridiculously bad looking bouncers. Naturally, I'd join you in thinking 'how dare they!', but I've decided to deem January a 4-week-long free pass before the reality of the year ahead really kicks in.
The humble holiday shack pictured above houses some of my fondest memories. So, with the Portsea Polo on the agenda and freedom on our (me and my friend/bubble-blowing expert Tahnee) fingertips, a revisit was in order. A wooden palace, this abode creaks and squeaks in just about every way imaginable. The once-polished verandah is now feathered with splinters and the garden's greenery is longing for a haircut. Its Home Beautiful cover days (uhuh, it genuinely was a cameo cover star) are long gone, but the charm is still there.
The real price of this khaki cottage lies in the countless summers spent stashing seashells in hidden draws, and finding endless pictures in the ceiling's oak stains when lying down to fall asleep at night. We even rediscovered the allure of board games and mariokart when wifi and fantastic reception were foreign luxuries. Friday night was spent in Sorrento at the delicious Beach Shack for dinner. This was closely followed by a stint at the Salt Bar - perfect for pretending you are in the cast of the never-aired season of Gossip Girl Goes to Australia. Sometimes you forget that you are on the Mornington Peninsula and assume that you must have been kidnapped in your sleep and transported to the Hamptons. We'll be back this same time next year for more watermelon martinis and live Daryl Braithwaite covers.
We woke up Saturday morning a little worse for wear with the Portsea Polo beckoning. If you don't undermine this as a pretentious concept by reading it in a hideously posh British accent then you are missing the point. Yes, there are numerous horses present. Yes, there are people mounting said horses to throw a ball around. And yes, we forgot about this idea entirely in the midst of free Messina gelato and an overwhelming abundance of beautiful people. If you were in the presence of that many black-rimmed boater hats, you would fall victim to the same hypnosis. Our eyes were glued to a flurry of pastel frocks and gaudy pocket squares. Bloggers, influencers and models flocked to the event like bees to a hive. Amidst all of that buzz, it was a complete sensory overload. Stopping for some aperitivo and shoestring fries is essential before you complete a second lap of the grounds.
I've come to the realisation that 'Polo' is officially a decoy catchphrase for 'dress up and drink champagne all day long with your nearest and dearest'. Unsurprisingly, however, I have absolutely no problem with that. It's also an excellent excuse to attend one of the amazingly unruly after parties. Our choice: the Portsea Hotel. It made the Polo itself look like a warmup. Everything was amplified, from alcohol to music. Pro tip - hide your now useless and inconvenient boater hats behind a garden shrub and set a reminder on your phone to redeem these at midnight. No cloaking system, no problem.
The return from my jaunt down the peninsula perfectly coincided with the Australian Open heating up. After a spot of PR work with the Fed Cup Foundation, some friends and I were treated to a handful of tickets to stroll across to Melbourne Park. With a plethora of interactive tents and attractions, the Open had never looked so good. On a sweltering day, an aperol spritz at the highly aesthetically pleasing Aperol Club is just what the doctor ordered. A stupid number of instagrams were posted and we bled the park dry of just about all of the free samples of anything and everything. Despite watching the Open unfold on the TV screen, I couldn't help but return for another night of frosé and Mamasita nachos followed by some serious perving on Milos Raonic.
Beat that February, I dare you.