Friday, May 29, 2009

Greetings from Glasgow!

No time to do a proper post. Hotel internet 6 quid an hour!

But we are having a great time. We're flying to the south of France tomorrow, where we'll be for a week. Probably no intenet at our rented cottage either.

Nevermind!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Last Day in Windsor

I'm currently in Manchester (hi Stu!) and will probably not get to the internet much as we're off to the Lake District tomorrow for a week. The cottages we're staying in don't really do wireless!

I'm trying to update as much as possible, but it's hard when you're constantly on the move.

So... on Monday, my sister's fiance drove us to Slough to pick up our hire car. There's really not much you can say about Slough. It's where The Office was set. Our hire car is a Peugeot 307, who we've nicknamed Brutus:


After depositing the car back at my sister's house, we walked into Windsor with the intention of visiting the castle. It was great timing as we came across the changing of the guards parade on the way:



We followed them to the castle (we had a vague notion that they would know the way!)and watched the changing of the guards. Unfortunately the section where the ceremony was taking place was being renovated, so the changing of the guards occurred outside a port-a-cabin. Very posh!



Windsor castle was still crowded with tourists even for a Monday. I liked the garden in the moat, and Henry VIII's fat suit of armour. Man, he was a tub-ster.

Walked over to Eaton and looked at the school. We found a pub and had the worst meal we've had in England yet!

One observation: I can’t believe the current fashion for women in their teens and 20s is skinny jeans tucked into Ugg boots. They’re all bogans!

Next installment: Stratford-upon-Avon via Oxford University.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Windsor - Going to Visit the Queen

England is bloody freezing! I didn’t take a jacket with me so I’m going to have to buy one.

It’s strange being back after five years. I’d forgotten that there were so many old buildings and it all looked so pastoral. The birds gently twitter in the rain (of course it’s raining) unlike Sydney where the lorikeets kamikaze along in bright sunshine.

We’re staying with my sister and her fiance in Windsor. B picked us up from Heathrow in the morning and our plane was delayed by 2 hours in Singapore. Customs at Heathrow was a joke. There was nobody even on duty. That would definitely not happen in Australia where we are paranoid about someone bringing in a foreign banana.

As we were driving into Windsor, traffic was halted for a cavalcade of the Queen’s horses who trotted across the road in formation being led from one paddock up to the castle via the Long Walk. B said she had organised it just for us…

We had a quick nap and then a walk to the shops to find a jacket. The shopping journey was a fail because it’s all summer clothes over here and I was too jet lagged to go shopping properly.

We had a pint in a pub, the Two Brewers, next to Windsor castle then went for a walk down the Long Walk. We turned in at 8:30pm and woke up at 4:30am, so had a solid 8 hours sleep. I feel like we’re conquering the jet lag… A bit.

On Sunday B and I rushed out to buy a Barbour jacket - against the Bloke's wishes who think Barbour jackets are snobby. I didn't care. All the other shops were selling summer clothes and I needed a good quality, warm jacket. B put in some money for it as my birthday present which justified the expense... somewhat.

We then walked to a restaurant for lunch with some friends we haven't seen in years. We all came back to B and G’s for coffee and cake afterwards. We then went back to the Two Brewers next to the castle. The Two Brewers is very old and more local pub than some of the others. It's amazing how with good friends, you can just pick up from where you left off.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sydney to London on the A380

So, that A380. Marvellously quiet. Take offs and landings were very gentle and, in the dark, it was difficult to tell if you‘d actually landed or not.

The only dampener to the flight was that the Bloke and I were not alocated to be sat together. We seemed to be the only couple on the plane not sat together! Are Qantas trying to tell us something?!!!

It was irritating - on check-in the woman told us that it was because we’d checked in later than everyone else. This was at three hours before take-off! We managed to get shuffled around so we were at least sitting the same area with the Bloke sat behind me and me on an exit-row. In the middle lot of seating. I was talking to the couple beside me and they checked in one hour after us and still managed to get seated together. Hmmmm.

My theory behind the seating arrangements is that we don’t have as many frequent flyer points as others, therefore are the lowest priority when it comes to seating. The stewards on the flight said that because the airbus has a 2-3-2 seating configuration in premium economy in a small cabin of about 30 seats, it is difficult to seat couples.

On the second leg of the journey, Singapore to London, we arranged with another passenger to swap seats and we ended up sat together in a window and aisle seat. So humans triumph over technology yet again!

Premium economy is well worth the money. Everyone’s friendly because no one is squashed. It’s very civilised. And the interior, despite us being located behind the engines is whisper quiet. You're also one of the first to board the plane and check in is done via the business counter, so no long queues.

We managed to get 5 hours on-and-off sleep on the Singapore to London leg, so that's helped with the jetlag somewhat.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Final Countdown

Two days to go until our Europe trip. It's pretty much all I think about at the moment!

I've printed off our itineraries and tickets, found the passports (multiple as we're both dual citizens), got medication and travel toiletries (all under 100 mils!) from the chemist and started washing the clothes we'll take.

Now all that's left is for us to pack. And look forward to seeing family and friends and not working for an entire month!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Floating Apartment Building

In keeping with my aim to view my city as a tourist, I've been walking around the city at lunch-times instead of eating lunch at my desk.

I work close to Terminal 8 , which is the Darling Harbour cruise ship terminal. It's the terminal for "smaller" cruise ships - i.e. the ones that can fit under the harbour bridge. Here are a few shots of the little ships:
And here's one from the other side of the harbour, looking back towards Darling Harbour and Terminal 8:

The larger cruise ships dock at the overseas passenger terminal at Circular Quay. The super-liners, however, have to dock at the naval base at Garden Island.

The area you see in the foreground of photos 2 and 3 is where the container shipping yard used to be before it was moved to Botany Bay. It's going to be turned into parkland, office and residential areas, which is great on one hand, and sad on the other because that's part of Sydney's working harbour history gone. And they'll be getting rid of Terminal 8 too. I'm betting that the developers of the site decided that having a cruise liner parked beside some office towers would spoil the water views.

So it'll be shunted over to Balmain, which will cause traffic hell for residents and will be a disappointment for travellers. Imagine thinking you'll be in the thick of things in Sydney, while in reality you'll be parked in the suburbs! I'd want my money back!

The cruise season (October to March-ish) is over, so there aren't as many ships in port as there have been. It's still a pretty spectacular sight when they reverse out of the berth and do a 180 degree swivel on the spot because there's not much room between the quay and the Balmain headland. To have that degree of control over such a huge vessel in such a tight space is very impressive. I'll try and take some shots of it happening next time I see it.

Still, I don't think I'd enjoy cruising. Imagine being stuck on a ship with hundreds of other people for days at a time. No thanks. More like a floating RSL club than a nice holiday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Work - With Supervision

The Bloke and I have a lovely dining table and with recycled wooden benches. However, the benches aren't really good for sitting at for long periods of time.

So on the weekend, I bought two dark brown leather chairs from a furniture seconds store.

I had several sales people say to me:

"You do know that you'll have to assemble those chairs yourself, don't you?"

What? Did I look completely incompetent? Did they not realise that they were talking to a woman who had assembled a 6-burner BBQ, a queen sized bed and soldered together the TV and stereos' cables in order to get surround sound? HA!

It all went fairly smoothly at first. Unpack chairs from box:



Screw in the base of the chair to the back and legs of the chair, then screw the front legs to the base of the chair:

And there you have two chairs!


With supervision of course! However, the second chair proved harder than the first to put together. The screws wouldn't go in the whole way. I think the holes hadn't been drilled properly at the factory. I guess that's why they were so cheap.

So it's a bit wobbly. Let's hope that nobody large sits on that particular chair!

Monday, May 4, 2009

In case of emergency .... Zzzzzz



In the interests of scientific experimentation, I took a sleeping tablet last night.

I got a prescription the other day just in case I can't sleep on the plane. It's a 23 hour journey, so I'd like to have a back up plan if I can't sleep! I thought I'd better test out the medication first - the last thing you need on a plane trip is an allergic reaction.

I was prescribed temazapan? Diazapam? In any case, it produces a big result for a little tablet! I was mega relaxed this morning!

Late for work? Doesn't matter!

Can't find my watch? Doesn't matter.

It was aaaaaaaallll good! The cycle into work was interesting....

My body fought the medication at first though, which was interesting and probably tells me that I'm a total control freak.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's a Miracle!

I woke up this morning and briefly thought:

"I can see clearly - it's a miracle!"

before realising that I'd slept with my contact lenses in. I NEVER do that, so I must have been either really distracted or really tired!

It's freezing this morning and I'm eating my porridge before jumping on the bike to cycle to work. Brrrrr.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grumpy Day

I felt queasy this morning, from what I thought was the result of two glasses of bubbly last night. I cycled into work thinking I was going to spew.

But it can't have been a hangover because it continued through the day and has turned into stomach cramps this evening.

Then, just when I was ready to change and cycle home from work, it bucketed down with rain. I had to leave the bike at work (which I hate doing) and hurry home for a 5pm physio appointment.

Grumpy.

AND it rained on my washing.

At least Kitty Smalls is happy. She's on my lap, purring away. The laptop has been relegated and I am awkwardly typing this entry whilst balancing the lap-top on the arm of the sofa. Anything to keep her happy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Black is the new.... Black?

Another black-out in the city today. It's embarrassing that we can't keep the lights on! Everyone groaned when we realised that we'd lost whatever we'd been working on.

We all gathered in the office with the most natural light and chatted about which movies we'd seen lately etc. There wasn't much else we could do for the next hour or so until the lights came back on!

I can't believe that this is the second blackout in the last few months that has affected the city - most buildings blacked out, people stuck in lifts, traffic lights on the blink....

In other news, I almost hit a dog when I was cycling home last night. It darted out from under the bushes. I hit my brakes. The dog hit his brakes - almost scrabbling backwards in his attempt to stop. He dropped the ball he was carrying and skidded on the concrete. We avoided disaster after a bit of swearing on my part. I'm sure he would have sworn, in his own little doggie style, if he could. Phew.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Guerilla Gardening

I've been too lazy to post anything here recently. I have a house-prices rant stored up in my brain, but I won't inflict that on you yet. Instead, we'll look at something more pleasant.

I'm trying to get out more at lunch times and go for walks to escape the office. An effort to become a tourist in my own city. I've noticed several Guerrilla Gardening efforts, including this one, which I don't think has aired on TV yet:



Previously, there was a bricked-in set of stairs, but now there are plants, a sturdy spider-web, and, if you look closely in the top left-hand corner, a giant spider! How cool is that?!

In other news, Big Kev put that $900 in my bank account, so thanks buddy! It'll probably go into the house-deposit fund or towards the Europe trip - not long to go now.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Single-Handedly Reviving the Australian Economy

Me. Yep, I'm single-handedly reviving the Australia economy.

How? Through providing a stabilising boost to the Nation's retailers, of course!

This weekend I bought a pair of woollen trousers for work and a woollen roll-neck jumper from Country Road and three pairs of jeans. Count 'em, three pairs, including these (disclaimer: not a pic of me):



All this despite the fact that I haven't yet received Kev's $900. What gives Kev? I voted labor at the last Federal election? Where' my $900?

Friday, April 17, 2009

European Trip - Kimmywoo the Travel Agent


I'm eating a left-over laksa on this Saturday lunch-time and finalising our accommodation for our European trip in May. The Bloke has gone to the Swans game with a group of mates, leaving me in peace to get the last details wrapped up.

We fly into London on the Qantas A380 (in premium economy - hooray!) and spend a couple of days with my sister and her fiance in Windsor - can't wait to see her again as the last time they were over here was for Christmas.

We're then meeting friends in Stratford-upon-Avon and staying in an old converted castle. I love that about Europe - the historic buildings. In comparison, the oldest buildings in Australia are 200 years old.

We'll also visit Mr Stu's stamping place of Manchester. We've got heaps of friends who live in and around the area, so we have a couple of days there. I've heard the shopping there is good too! The Bloke mutters under his breath and rolls his eyes every time I mention the shopping potental!

We'll then meet the Bloke's family in the Lake District, where he grew up, for a week of walking and pub meals. I love the Lakes - they're just stunning and one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Following a family week, we're meeting friends in Glasgow for a night out on the toon! I'm hoping it's not too big a night though, because the next day we fly to the south of France for a week.

The week in France was one of the first things I organised. We're close friends with a couple who are also going to Europe at the same time as us - and taking their 18 month old boy! We were all keen to have a bit of time together, so we've rented a large converted farmhouse with a pool, in the middle of the French countryside. The photos of the place look amazing. There'll be six Aussie (and a child!) and we're going to go to the markets, the wineries and generally eat and drink ourselves stupid! Can't wait! I hope it's warm enough to swim.

The Bloke is keen to show us around the area because he used to go on holidays there with his family when he was a kid. Luckily he speaks French as we're relying on him to be our translator and spokesman for everything! Sacre blu!

We'll fly into Edinburgh after our glutinous week in France then onwards to the Bloke's parents for a few days.

One of the nicest things about the trip is that, following our stay at the Bloke's parents' house, we'll drive down to Cambridge and spend two nights there. Apart from the fact that Cambridge is pretty damn spectacular, it's where the Bloke and I met.

We weren't there as students, but were working at a hotel there. In fact, the Bloke hired me for the job of valet parking cars (for a position beneath him as he likes to joke whenever the story is told - haw, haw). I was travelling Europe in my gap year and the Bloke was working three jobs. We were pretty poor then and it'll be nice to go back and stay in a luxury hotel and reminisce.

And that's pretty much our four weeks in Europe. I wish we were going tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Arrogance

There's a monster storm brewing in Sydney tonight. Walking home from pilates tonight I could see sheet lightning every minute mainly from the west. It's rumbling slowly towards us.

Easter is over and facing work this morning was a bit depressing.

We went to a friend's birthday party on the Saturday night. It was at a suburban bar, which had great decor and would have been fantastic had it not been for the clientele (other than us of course!).

A large amount of them were definitely under age and on coke. They'd all dressed up to the nines but the effect was ruined by their gutter mouths and screaming.

The family of the birthday girl had an area cordoned off for the party. But people just kept sitting down in the area with a "so what?" reply when asked if they were aware it was a private party. The arrogance on display was amazing.

We still had a good time (the Bloke had to carry me up to bed when we got home because I'd had too good a time) but we wouldn't recommend the bar to anyone and won't be going back.

I just don't remember ever behaving like that when I was 16. The naughtiest was alcohol at house parties. Is this normal now?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our Tiny, Tiny Ears

Apparently, men have huge ears and women have tiny, delicate ears. Well, that's what the manufacturers of the ear plugs bought by the Bloke would have you believe:Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yay for Long Weekends!

Slowly getting over the flu. This one's been a real energy sapper. I think it's the sudden change in weather. We all put our clocks forward one hour on Sunday for the end of daylight savings, and on Monday it was freezing!

I love winter. Well, an Aussie winter that is. It's still warm enough to enjoy a clear, crisp day without it being so cold you have to hide indoors.

Kitty Smalls is also deciding the indoors is preferable these days. Mind you, that could be because she's getting older.

Planning for the Great European Trip is still underway. We will probably spend two nights in London. Anyone got any hotel recommendations? Must have king sized bed and, hopefully without sounding too princess-like, be around the four-star mark and not in a dodgy area. I'm thinking of booking through a last minute website to get a good deal while we're in England. You can get some real bargains.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Meh

Sick. Not the snotty, coughing sick, but the achy flu and temperature sick.

The Bloke and I were meant to go out for dinner to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, but got home on Friday night and was too poorly to do anything other than collapse on the couch. Useless. He went out with some friends instead and I got a nice, quiet night to myself. It was a win-win. We'll go out dinner next weekend.

It's when you're sick that you most appreciate your bed. God it was good to sink into bed. Apart from the little shits in the rental place several doors down who have been playing rap music every single weekend with the volume at 11.

I don't mind the occassional large night - we've been more than guilty of parties at ours. Every once in a while the neighbours have a big one too and you don't begrudge that.

But every weekend? Geeze. It's the kind of thudding bass that seems to penetrate the walls too. They can't be more than 18 years old. First time out of home and really revelling in their freedom. I'm sure someone will tell them where to stick it sooner or later.

Aside from the little shits and their music, I've been asleep for most of the day. I love my bed!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Kenyan Mischief



Some weekends are quietly lazy and some are.... instances where you end up partying with a bunch of Kenyans!

This particular Kenyan had just become an Australian citizen. So, in true Aussie style, he and his Aussie girlfriend (whose birthday it was) had a bbq with the dress up theme of "bogan". The Bloke went as a Swannies player with the vest, scarf and barber pole socks. I just tucked my skinny jeans into a pair of uggies and displayed my whale tail.

The party boy alternated between a full kangaroo costume:


and, later on in the night when much drink had been taken, "Shaniqua" - consisting of a boob apron (apron with huge fake boobs on - don't ask me why) with a long haired wig. He looked.... erm, scary but hilarious. And no, I'm not posting that picture!

But Kenyan dance/rap music is the best! All us white girls were completely out-manourvered by the Kenyan chicks (apart from the party boy's gal who can shake it with the best of them).

We partied until the early hours of the morning and awoke the next day with cracking hangovers. The mark of a successful night out!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Electricity in Sydney = Fail... Epic Fail

As I was hurriedly typing the minutes of a meeting into my computer (I try and do that on the same day as the meeting otherwise you can never remember what the scribble on your notepad translates to), we had a blackout.

You could hear groans from everyone on the floor as we all lost what we were working on! We hung around reception and tried to find out what was going on. As soon as we heard that the blackout had affected much of our part of the city, and it was 5pm anyway, we all abandoned ship and headed home. As we've never had a fire drill before, getting out the building proved to be an adventure - 15 flights of stairs later....

I'm glad I wasn't travelling by bus, however, because the traffic lights were also out (picture from Sydney Morning Herald website):


I found out this morning that the blackout was due to a power surge and over 100,000 people were affected. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that:

"Energy Australia said the blackout was caused by a fault in one of four major 132,000 volt cables that supply power to parts of the CBD, the inner-city and eastern suburbs."

Hello? Only four cables. For an entire CBD? How does that work?

The cherry on the top, however, was the decapitated rat left on the back doorstep by Kitty Smalls that same evening. Nice!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Commando Kitty Smalls!

I came home the other day to this sight:

I think she'd been sitting under a car when a large drop of oil fell on her. It did make her look rather jungle commando kitteh though:


She got a good scrub down that evening, which she did not appreciate!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Noosa

Noosa was very interesting. The main drag is Hastings Street, which like Double Bay or Mosman dumped in the tropics. It's OK if you like that kind of thing - it has some funky bars and lovely shops.

We were staying about 5 minutes drive away in Noosaville, on the Noosa River, which was much quieter but still had tonnes of fantastic restaurants and things to do. It really is ideal for a relaxing weekend and it's great for families.

Our resort had three swimming pools in a tropical setting, so we swam every day. I bit the bullet and bought a tankini (sob) on Hastings Street. It's very cute. I have decided I feel more comfortable without the little potbelly on disply. Sigh.

It was safer than swimming in the ocean which was polluted with oil from the striken Pacific Adventurer, caught in Cyclone Hamish. The surf at Coolum Beach, on the way to Noosa from the airport, was a rust-brown froth. On the way back to the airport, four days later, it was all clean with people swimming in the water. Great effort from the clean-up crew.

Noosa is a very strange mix of redneck, hippy and wealthy.

We drove up from the airport (in our hire car, a light blue Kia we called "Misty" which was the shitest car ever) and parked up for lunch. The car next to us had the bumper-sticker "Australia: Love it or Leave it". A nice, thinly veiled racist statement.

What does that mean anyway? You have to love that car driver's take on Australia or get out? You have to love every part of Australia or get out? In that case, the car driver's got to love the immigrants because they're part of Australia too. Moron.

Then, a few days later, I saw a woman get out of car, the back of her t-shirt riding up slightly to reveal a swastika tramp stamp! And I don't think it was the Hindi version either. Rednecks!

Having said that, just about everyone we came across was really nice and laid back. And the surrounding bushland was beautiful. We went on a couple of bush walks. One was on Noosa Headland where we followed a track to a beach. Unfortunately it was a nudist beach, something we didn't realise until we got there!

Why is it always middle aged men with fat bellies who are the nudists? Why no young chiseled gods? Ewwww. We continued walking to the next track!

On our last day in Queensland, we climbed to this lookout in the Noosa hinterland, which gave 360 degree views over the Sunshine Coast:
video

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend Away

The Bloke and I are just back from a weekend away in Noosa. We went for a friend's wedding - my friend since year 10 in high school - and had a relaxing weekend away.

It was great to catch up with that particular group of girlfriends who I don't really see much of anymore. The bride lives in Queensland (soon to move to Sale in Victoria), another girlfriend lives in Sale, one is moving to London and one has two kids and lives an hour's drive away.

But, as we re-bonded over diner on the night before the wedding, it was as if we'd just seen each other the weekend before. The husbands looked slightly shell-shocked as we pretty much just talked non-stop!

I'll post more about the weekend away and the beautiful wedding later when I've uploaded the photos to the computer. I'm typing this on my new HP netbook, which I LOVE! The Bloke bought if for me the night before we flew up to Queensland as an early wedding anniversary present.

It's so small and light and very good looking:


It will be perfect for the long-haul flights.

I downloaded the first two episodes of "True Blood" to watch on the plane. I've heard good things about it and it's just being shown on pay TV in Australia.

What I didn't realise what that it contains a few very graphic sex scenes. I'm not a prude, but it's kind of embarrassing having that on your screen when you're surrounded by people on an aeroplane! Blush! Of course the Bloke was laughing about it all weekend and kept teasing me about my "porn"!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bird Poo = Queezy


I'm fairly sure a bird pooed in my mouth on the cycle home tonight. ARG - A BIRD POOED IN MY MOUTH!

I was cycling along a busy, tree lined, four lane road at quite a pace (to avoid being side-swiped and mowed down by cars) and I felt this wet thing hit my lips. I assumed, because it had been raining, that it was a fat drop of rain falling from trees. But it didn't taste so good..... I immediately spat it out.

When I came to a halt, I wiped my mouth with the back of my glove and IT WAS WHITE.

There was a fairly virgorous rinsing of the mouth when I got home.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blinder Than Yesterday

I went to the optometrist last week, resulting in two facts:
  • I am blinder than at my last checkup; and
  • It will cost me more money to be blinder.

For the past few years I had been seeing an optometrist in the city, however, after some poor service, I decided to see a local optometrist. It took over an hour to go through the various assessments, but I finally felt as though I'd finally had a thorough check-up. None of this 15 minute rush-job business that I experienced at the city optometrist.

She was extremely knowledgeable and carefully checked my eyes. For one thing, my eyesight has deteriorated and I am another -0.5 blinder in each eye. This makes my right eye -6.0 blind and my left eye -6.5 blind.

But the scary thing was when she said:

"your fortnightly contact lenses are causing irritation where they cling to your eyes"

then showed me some pictures of at what stage of irritation my eyes were. GAH! Ewwww. She had a chart of eye irritation photos ranging from clusters of little red bumps to science fiction red planet surface-style bumps. Erk!

Apparently my fortnightly contact lenses are too tight on my eyes, causing irritation, and over time protein build-up on the lenses causes further irritation.

So I'm trying out two types of daily disposable lenses and will report back to her next week.

The only thing is, they are four times the price of my fortnightly lenses at approximately $120 each eye for a 3 month supply. But what price can you put on eyeball health, right?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big Man, Small Bike

Image: Grosh.com
I'm thrilled to be cycling again, although you do see some strange cyclists on the roads.

Like the woman who I sometimes see cycling on a pastel green, fashionable bike. Her cycling outfit is often a dress with strappy sandals. She wears her helmet on the handlebars - I suppose it must mess with her hair otherwise. Silly moo.

The other day I was cycling behind this brick of a man. He was like a caricature of the circus strongman. His legs were like tree trunks and his torso a barrel of muscle. I marvelled at the strength of his bike - how on earth did it support him? I kept expecting the frame to buckle under his enormity.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Back" in Business...

Or "back" to normality? Oh, so many back jokes, so little time!

I'm on the mend and did a full week pf work last week. I even cycled into work and "back" (see, I can't help myself!) on Friday.

Things are not 100% though. I'm still in pain and it's tough. I feel for people who have chronic pain, to not have that hope that the pain will go away.

On the positive side, it's been interesting to learn that only a few of my back muscles do the work for the whole torso. Come on you lazy abs etc, work damn it!

Even my walking is propelled by the hips. When my physio tried to correct my stride, I told her she was ruining my "signature walk". Aparently you're not supposed to sway your hips. Who would have thunk it?

I'm starting pilates this week at the physio. It's supposed to help strengthen your core torso muscles. I'm secretly hoping that it will get rid of my little pot-belly... preferably within two weeks before I fly up to Noosa for a friend's wedding.... Finger's crossed!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flat on my Back

Long time, no post, I know. But I have done my back in and am currently flat on my back on the couch, knees propped up on a pillow with a heat pack on my lower back.

What caused this? A massage. Well, the physio (three treatments already and counting) explained that the massage aggravated some long-standing problems with my back. So my back decided it was not going to cope any more.

So that's that.

Luckily I have almost completed downloading the entire three volume series of Veronica Mars and have been watching that on the lappy. Other than that, it's been very quiet.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Dinner = Distaster

Have you ever walked out of a restaurant? I never had, until last night. Not even during the Great Indian Meal Debacle in Surry Hills, did we consider walking out. And that dinner involved us writing our own orders on a napkin, personally taking it to the kitchen ourselves and pushing the corks of our wine bottles in with cutlery we sourced ourselves from a dresser.

I had booked this french restaurant several weeks ago, and it's a restaurant we go to once every few months for a treat (it being rather expensive). I had chosen the 8:30pm sitting and five course menu with wine included for $185. The cheaper version was the 6:30pm sitting with three courses, but I wanted to splash out and have a nice relaxing night.

Wrong.

After waiting for 10 minutes in a queue in the entrance of the restaurant with no attention by waitstaff, we were directed to our table which was.... right next to the queue. As I had specifically booked a table outside, I was disappointed to be sat inside, next to the kitchen, with other couples standing around us. Very romantic.

I started to get anxious - I don't like crowds and I was very hungry. At 9pm - yes, a full 20 minutes after we sat down, and with no bread or water to sate us, a waiter finally got around to taking our order.

After we ordered I looked at the Bloke who was doing his best to distract me from the awfulness of the night, lent over and said:

"Let's just go - I don't see us actually getting any food or drink for at least another 20 minutes"

I was dizzy from hunger and could have gnawed my own arm off at that point. The Bloke, being English, was hesitant.

But we've both worked in the service industry and we know when things are not right. Having two settings and cramming everyone in was not right. People want to linger over a romantic meal and so they should be able to. The fist sitting had not even half departed before the second sitting arrived, hence the queue of people waiting for tables.

The wait-staff were absolutely rushed off their feet and were unable to cope, making for bad (if not intentionally) service.

We got up and left, with the Bloke informing our waiter that we were leaving. At least there was one more free table for the hungry hoards who were still milling around our former table.

We walked home, opened a bottle of red and stuck some food in the microwave. I resolutely remained in my black mini-dress and heels as we crashed on the couch and popped "The Forbidden Kingdom" (which was hilarious and highly recommended if you're into kung fu movies) into the dvd player. We cuddled up and had a lovely night in.

I felt justified and empowered in leaving the restaurant. I'm just a bit sad that a restaurant that I so often recommend let us down so badly.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Amwayed!



The Bloke and I have just been Amwayed!

We met an acquaintance at a cafe this morning for what we thought was going to be a discussion about helping his business with an IT idea. Wrong.

Out comes the chart and the dubious statistics about how much money you'll make, then the talk about how it's "not a scam" and "not pyramid selling", then how you'll be your own boss and get "residual income ", i.e something for nothing.

Well they were talking to the wrong people and I let them know that pretty smartly. I did economics at uni and both the Bloke and I are extremely cynical people. Nothing comes for free.

I let them know recruiting my friends for this bullshit scheme was something I had no intention of doing and that their projected incomes (over five years) were less than what I was currently earning. So piss off please!

I can't believe Amway is still around! I remember my Dad having a "friend" come over when I was a kid to try and get my parents involved in it. Needless to say, they didn't remain friends.

Ah, there'll always be people to whom the idea of a get-rich-quick scheme is too enticing to refuse. Suckers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Media Overload

I think it's time the media left those Victorians affected by the bushfire alone.

There's a fine line between news and entertainment and it's now being crossed.

We don't need every channel's breakfast show, their mid-morning show, the news and current affairs show represented at the bush fires. How about just one reporter for each channel.

We should give those affected by the fires some privacy and not hound them to show their emotions on TV for the sake of ratings. If people want to share their story, fair enough, but no more insensitive questions please reporters.

As an Australian, I want to be informed about the fires and those affected so I can sympathise, share their grief and help them in any way that I can. But I don't want to be "entertained" by it. It's time for the media to back off.

I liken it to those people who drive to disaster areas for a good old gawk at people's misery. It's wrong.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Victorians - Our Hearts Are With You

Watching the news I'm cyring my eyes out.

Victorians - our hearts are with you.

For the towns wiped out and the people dead, the farm animals, pets and native animals dead, the volunteer firefighters, to those who have the task of finding the bodies, to the family members and friends left behind. We are thinking of you.

To help, donate to the red cross:

http://www.redcross.org.au/default.asp

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's gettin' hot in herrrrre

I am currently swilling champagne (OK, sparkling Bimbadgen Semillon) , with a Thai home delivery on the way (Thai beef salad for me). The Bloke is watching the cricket and it's a Friday night. Oh wait, he's swapped over to Central Coast Mariners v Queensland Roar (Aussie soccer - you can take the Bloke out of England, but you can't take England out of the Bloke).

Apparently NSW is going to be the hottest place on earth this weekend with temperatures of over 47 degC predicted. Oh my holy god. I'm sweating already. Kitty Smalls is lying prostrate on the floor. Imagine a coat of fur in this weather. Poor kitty.
Tomorrow we're looking at a few house (between 12 and 12:30 of course!) and meeting a friend of the Bloke's parents who, in her late 60s, is travelling Australia by herself and staying in youth hostels. Good on her!

But I reckon it's a weekend for staying inside, blinds drawn and air-con (if you have any) on!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trashy Mags, Thin or Fat

I regularly buy trashy mags, especially when I'm sick and right now I'm home from work with a summer cold. I get to catch up on all the Hollywood goss and check out who's wearing what.

But I'm finding myself more and more disenchanted by how judgemental those magazine are on the topic of a women's weight. Who made the editors of those magazines the be-all and end-all of what a "perfect" weight is? According to the mags, it's a "healthy" weight - but the term "healthy" is also very arbitrary.

Take, for example, the current issue of NW Weekly:

It's all about weight.

So, according to the self-proclaimed experts at NW, Lindsay is too thin and Jessica is too fat. OK, I concede that Lindsay is scary looking here (that weird body suit thing doesn't help) and the angle of the photo and the clothes that Jessica is wearing are not flattering.

But Lindsay has confessed to an eating disorder before, so is printing photos of her at this weight in any way a responsible thing to do? And Jessica is a beautiful woman (who just needs a good stylist!).

What really gets me though, is the article on Mischa Barton. It pokes fun at her for being too thin AND too fat. The article has a photo from when she was heavier, with some jibe about her having a double chin. It then points to current photos of Mischa and declares that this she is too skinny. You can't win!

Too thin, too fat, too much!

No wonder young women are developing eating disorders and many women are obsessive about their weight.

Even I'm starting to get paranoid about my little pot-belly. And I'm a 180cm, size 10 (US size 6?) who cycles 8km per day!

I'm considering banning the trashy mags and buying only Marie Claire, which at least publishes stories on a vaguely intellectual level.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A House, A House, My Kingdom for a House


Ok, I know it's supposed to be My Kingdom for a Horse, but in Sydney's real-estate market, it really is a Kingdom for a House.

Despite the housing market bubble bursting in countries like the US and UK, Australia's market remains defiant of the trends.

For those looking to get a foot in the door, like The Bloke and myself, it's disheartening. Take, for example, today's open house jaunt....

We pull up near the townhouse, which is almost new and, despite being under the flight path, has double glazing to compensate. We're right on time for the 12:00-12:30 viewing, which is the viewing time for every other bloody open house inspection on a Saturday morning.

The real estate agent pulls up in his massive, black 4wd, which he (naturally) double parks so that he doesn't have to deal with the unpleasant prospect of walking ten metres to the property.

He jumps out and cheerfully announces that it's hot - no news to the 20-odd people waiting in the heat for him to be bothered to show his face. He swaggers to the door, all open neck shirt and sunglasses on shaved head, saying he "won't be a moment" to just "open up" the house.

We all troop in to hear him cheerfully announce that, such is the large interest in the property, that the estimated value has gone up $20,000. Great. That neatly puts it out of our budget. At it's original estimated value (if nobody puts a pre-auction offer in and it actually goes to auction) it was already twice the amount in mortgage repayments that we're currently paying in rent.

The townhouse is great and exactly what we're looking for. The only problem is that it is exactly what around 30 other couples are also looking for. You can barely move around the place without bumping into desperate house-seekers. We flatten our backs to the walls in corridors to pass and some get bolshie, pushing past you to look into the bathroom, not bothering to wait patiently for the last person to exit.

Deflated (unlike the property market), we head over to the next viewing.

It is not nearly as nice as the first townhouse with the second bedroom so small you could reach out and touch the opposite walls at the same time. The courtyard is lovely with a water feature and Japanese feel to it. But it's brick veneer and weatherboard and has a closed in feeling to it. The Bloke is quite keen, though.

We see the same faces from the first inspection and realise that this too, is a popular property.

We decide to call it a day as there are very little other properties open for inspection.

I am hopeful that, as Sydney returns from holiday January, more houses will come onto the market. The Bloke is less optimistic.

We return to our rental, in a suburb that we could never afford to buy in, and hope the property bubble will burst.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hot, Hot, HOT

Sydney has been baking in temperatures of 35 degC for the last few days with even hotter temperatures in Western Sydney. And when it's that hot, you can expect thunderstorms.

I cycled home yesterday beating the storm by minutes and raced to pull the clothes off the line. The storms don't make things cooler. In fact, it sometimes feels hotter after the storm because it becomes more humid.

And the storms tend to knock out our satellite TV, meaning I actually have to talk to the Bloke instead....

With a hot, westerly wind, like there was today, it's like cycling in a fan-forced oven.

Maybe I should do what the doggies in the park do and take a dive in the harbour. I saw a border collie yesterday galloping along the path with a big stick in his mouth and shedding sheets of water. He was as happy as a pig in mud.

Another thunderstorm is expected tonight, but this time bringing slightly cooler temperatures with a maximum of 29 degC expected tomorrow. That I can deal with.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hair Removal... or... The Joys of Being a Woman

Laser hair removal has been touted as the best thing since sliced bread as far as hair removal goes. Although removing hair with sliced bread is a rather arduous process.

I've tried most hair removal options and thought I'd give this one a go for my underarms. Imagine hair-free underarms for ever! Not that it's guaranteed to be totally permanent, but after six session the hair roots are supposed to be killed permanently.

Off I trotted to do a test patch at the local clinic (where, handily, you can also get botox and dermafillers....). The technician put some gel on the area - kind of like the gel they put on when you're getting an ultrasound - and proceeded to zap me a few times with the pen-like wand.

"What's the big deal?" I thought.

"It hardly hurts at all!"

So I booked in for my next session at which I prepaid the next five sessions in order to get the sixth session free.

What they don't tell you, and here's the sting (quite literally), is that at every session they have to increase the intensity of the laser to make sure the finer hair roots are killed as well as the coarser dark hairs. And on my first go, she zapped areas with hardly any hair and on a low level, so it didn't hurt.

The more intense the laser, the more pain. At my third session, I had to ask them to turn the laser down. And it still felt like hot needles being pushed into my skin. I had even put a topic skin numbing cream on the area prior to the session and it was still massively painful. So much so that my muscles sometimes spasmed.

The things we do! I have decided that I am NOT doing my legs or bikini line. Yoweee. Shaving is good enough for me. Next time I'm going to try both the topical skin numbing cream and a couple of paracetamol!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

STACK!

I came off my bike last week. No, I wasn't badly injured, just embarrassed.

And this is why....

I was waiting at some traffic lights, having a drink from my water bottle, when the lights changed. I knew there was a car behind me, so I attempted to hastily stuff my water bottle into its slot on the bike.

Too hastily as it turns out. I lost my balance and tipped over sideways, doing a McGyver roll to avoid any injury. I ended up sprawled on my back in the middle of the road.

If someone was filming it, it would have ended up on Australia's Funniest Home Videos.

I was laughing at my clumsiness as I struggled to get the bike off me and haul myself off onto the pavement (not wanting to hold up traffic any longer). The guy in the car behind me was laughing too. As were the cyclists across the road who did ask if I was OK.

I was fine, just, well a little embarrassed. A small scrape on my knee and a sore shoulder is all I have to show for my dramatics.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Soaked!

After the most ridiculous few days of heat (30-40 degC), the weather cracked and it bucketed down for my commute home on the bike. I was soaked. The rain doesn't bother me so much, but the wind was ferocious and I wobbled around on my bike. I'm not the heaviest person, so being blown off my bike is a real concern!

There were hardly any doggies in the park on the way home. On the way into work this morning, the park was packed as I tried to negotiate between pedestrians and dogs. I find that dogs are usually really smart and alert to the bike, moving out of the way.

The same cannot be said for many of the dog owners and pedestrians who dither in the middle of the path, even if you ring your bell to warn them. Like the woman with the South African accent who was squawking:

"ah just refuse to put mah dogs on a leash"..

It's not the dogs that are the problem, honey! It would be great if everyone just kept to the left so we could all share the path.

I haven't found the heat to be that much of a problem because I tend to cycle near the water. There's usually a nice breeze coming off the water (unlike this afternoon when there was a nice hurricane instead!). The doggies also love the water - especially the Labradors. It's cute to look down at the path and see the wet paw prints followed by a large puddle where they've had a shake!

They're so happy to be in the water! And there's this one dog, not sure about the breed, who just stands, belly high, in the water and stares and stares into it. There's got to be something there that's captured his attention!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tackle Obsession

Why is it that nearly all things related to hen's night (bachelorette parties for our US cousins) are penile related?!!!

I am organising a hen's night for a good friend and, in the ritual tradition of humiliation which must accompany every bride-to-be, have bought:
1) a veil and tiara with "bride to be" emblazoned across it in pink and
2) a garter as below


Relatively modest these days I know, but just about everything else (apart from some sashes), was penis related!

Surely the majority of people in Australia who are getting married are no longer virgins when they walk down the aisle.

So why is it all about the male bits?! This is a girls' night out and is a time for girls to be girls. It's not all about the boys and thier nether regions.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Random Thought #1

I love the sound of cycling over loose paving stones.

I also love the sound of rain on a tin roof.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008 - reflections

2008 was a mixed bag for me.

Both my grandparents, my Oma and Opa, died within a few months of each other. We had a ceremony to bury their ashes recently and it was weird to think of those two wonderful, lively people reduced to a small box of ashes. It's still hard to believe that that is all that is left of a person.

2008 was the year I finally left the world of finance and entered the world of government policy. After 5 years with the same company, it took a massive own boot up the arse to get me to move. I'm not sure this is the right job for me, but I'm proud I made the effort to change.

2008 was the year of air travel: the Bloke and I went to Melbourne (me for work, him to be the trophy husband); we went to Byron Bay with friends; and Mum and I went to New Caledonia.

Financially, it was a much better year, with money saved for a house deposit. We still need to save more, but we can realistically look at buying a place within the next 12 months to 2 years. Something I never thought possible with Sydney's sky high real estate prices.

It was also the year of exercise, something I've traditionally fought against. I now cycle for an hour a day, 5 days per week.

For my friends 2008 was a year of change. My best friend got married, quit her job and went travelling in Asia for 6 months with her husband. Another friend also quit her job and is travelling. Two more friends decided to leave Sydney, one to Victoria, the other to Queensland because they have a better chance of actually having a nice lifestyle there. And quite a few of friends had their first baby.

So 2009 finds me married and in my 30s (early 30s I hasten to add!) with a job in the public service and a trip to the UK organised for the middle of the year. You can't stop time!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Shoes, glorious shoes

Like Kate, I recently bought some shoes in the post christmas sales:

I have some similar black, shiny patent mary janes, but the heels are so high that I can't wear them for more than one hour. I then have to cover my feet in band-aids due to the blisters the shoes cause.

These have a smaller heel and feel a lot more comfortable.

I have a hen's night coming up and it they last through that, I know they'll become my dancing shoes!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Post Christmas Sales

Every Boxing Day, I used to trek in for the post Christmas sales. I'd wake up early on Boxing Day, catch the bus in and be done with my shopping within 1-2 hours.

Now that I'm older and wiser (and work in the city and have to deal with the crowds every day) I find it too painful to do.

So this year my post Christmas sales shopping consisted of me going to my local direct factory outlet and getting some nice tops, a bbq cover for our new four burner beefmaster (BEEFMASTER!) bbq, a lovely Oroton handbag:

and a new sunlounger for the back yard. Strangely the sunlounger was instantly acquired by Kitty Smalls:



Usually her favourite spot is to be wrapped around the ficus, her weight slowly compressing the soil and exposing the roots:
But she's very pleased with the new sunlounger! Well, that makes two of us.

*Sob* no more Journalspace

Having blogged on Journalspace for over three years, it's upsetting that it's all gone.

It's my own fault for not saving my posts to my hard-drive, but still...

Onwards and upwards! I will endeavour to search out all my favourite JS members and resume posting asap.

Are you nice Blogspot? Will I like it here?