Hernandez Coffee Shop, Kings Cross

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2009 visit to Hernandez with Lisa

A week-long staycation in Sydney comes to an end.

A beauty of a week, winter sunshine, yoga, time by the sea and the company of cherished friends.

A week to indulge in all things I love about city living….and so a visit to Hernandez Coffee Shop, Kings Cross. Atmosphere alone, this place is a winner.

It has not been hipsterfied, not a beard or moustache in site, drinks served in coffee cups, not jam jars. A long black is a long black, not a dirty chai latte with a side of nut butter and a butterfly.

Coffee straight up, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It is iconically Sydney and rightly so – it remains timeless, may it never change.

On this visit I asked for a Vienna Coffee ( long black with whipped cream – I was on holidays after all!) but was informed the cream order had not come in that day.

So I offered a Bon Bon ( sweetened condensed milk, coffee shot topped with frothed mild) – a drink common to the cafe owner’s native home of Spain.

I deliberated over this for some time, then opted for a long black.

To my surprise a complimentary Bon Bon arrived, baby chino size, with my coffee order.

It hit the spot, sugary and sweet. I buzzed out of the coffee  shop, two coffees under my belt and onto my favourite op shop.

A staycation in Sydney should always include a coffee at Hernandez Coffee Shop, Kings Cross, but why stop at one! Timeless, iconically Sydney – may it never change.

 

http://www.cafehernandez.com.au

 

Who would have thought?

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If you’d asked me six months ago were my focus would be in regards to work as an internship coordinator, sport management placements would have featured way down  the list.

I’m not a sports fan, I openly admit that, very un- Australian of me!

I’ve been dragged along to the occasional Sydney Swans game, feigning interest…but deep down, as my friends scream, yell, stamp and cheer in the direction of Buddy Franklin, I’m daydreaming of my next beach holiday. I just don’t get it. 

Yet I admire the passion and dedication of sports fans. I’m actually envious of it.

Sport can be a guiding force in life, defining weekend activities, entire Saturdays can be taken up by game day. It bonds people, barracking for the same team means you become part of a something bigger than yourself. Take the AFL,  for 6 months of each year you are busy being a fan. I’m just cold and miserable, wanting summer to return.

I find that sport fans are driven and determined, loyal and optimistic. A girlfriend of mine, travelled from Brisbane to Sydney for the Rabbitohs NRL grand final win against the Bulldogs. ‘ Born a Bunny’ back in 1977, a true believer, she witnessed the historic win that night, and revelled with the Redfern community the day after. A true fan, of the A to Z variety. All codes, all disciplines. Passionately, hopelessly mad about sport. The end.

Possessing none of the above, a focus on sports management internships have pushed me out of my comfort zone and into an iron man race against time to secure countless opportunities for sports mad interns.

Think Canterbury Bulldogs, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Illawarra Dragon, Parramatta Eels.

Think Invictus Games ( Prince Harry, oh la la!!) Football Australia and Athletics NSW.

And surprisingly , I’m loving every minute of it!! The in-person meetings, the phone calls, the emails. Endless conversations about sport.

And each time a site agrees to host an intern, it’s like scoring a grand final goal or world record at the Olympics.

Perhaps I do possess the qualities of an sports fan after all – tenacity, grit & steely determination. It’s what I’ve needed in spades as I’ve navigated my way into the unchartered world of all disciplines, all codes.  

Whether I win or loose as I slam dunk, sprint and peddle my way to my target, I’ve come to view journey as the grounds for personal growth and learning. 

It is challenging, fun and I’m constantly learning – what more could I ask for other than an interest in sport??!!

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Arcade Fire

 

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

It has been a while since I have added to the collections of blog posts I term ‘ friendship fire starters’. But as I watched my niece dance in her car seat to pop music, I silently declared to myself that I would take responsibility for her musical education. And then this story surfaced. But before I get to that, to Ms R, prepare to be wowed by the voice of Whitney, the moves of MJ and the poetry of the Man in Black, Mr Johnny Cash.

My own musical education is questionable. I have written about it before. I have long been a fan of the humble boy band, and when I found myself living in the UK as a  22-year-old, I was in heaven.

The Australian Music scene had always taken itself too seriously for my liking, and whilst I was a fan of the rock, grunge and alternative music, I looked further afield for my pop stars. The UK was a melting pot of awesomeness in that department, think BoyZone, Westlife, a solo Robbie Williams, a solo Ronan Keating.

And then there was the Latin movement that took hold, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin…. It is fair to say that between the ages of 22 and 24, whilst living abroad, I was lost to Pop.

This rather angered, indeed infuriated a young man I came flat with in Edinburgh. How this Aussie bloke and I remain friends today is a modern mystery. Music was his world. I termed him the ‘ repressed rocker’: he was forever playing an imaginary drum set, curly mop of hair thrashing about, beatbox sound effects released at random.

He was passionate, rather obsessive about music and I admit, I admired him for it.

My taste in music he despised – and he made that very , very clear.

Not one to be deterred – I continued to play BoyZone, Westlife and Enrique at every opportunity.

Fast forward 5 years, and I am back home, living and working in Sydney. I recieved a call, out of the blue from the repressed rocker, he has a spare ticket to a band held in the highest of regard : Arcade Fire.

‘ I’ve never heard of them’ I whimpered down the phone ‘ Are they like Enrique Iglesias or Westlife??’

Silence

‘ Enrique or Westlife?’ I ask again, thinking hadn’t heard me the first time.

‘ Your not coming’

Dial tone – he has hung up on me!!

I am left puzzled – who is this majestic band I have been deemed unworthy of watching? Why has my penchant for pop cost me so dearly? Arcade who?

Hurt and confused I refuse to torture myself. I put in my headphones , resuming the data entry whilst listening to Enrique

And this evening, whilst watching youtube videos I see that Arcade Fire have just released a new album. This band I did go on to discover, in my own time, in 2013, on a holiday in the UK. It was love at first listen. The song ‘ Sprawl II ( Mountains Beyond Mountains’ was my self-declared moving song when packing up my Randwick Flat in 2014. The tune channelled the courage required to  immerse myself in shared living again.

So Mr Repressed Rocker, did you know that Arcade Fire has new material out? Am I finally ahead of the game?

What I expect you’ll say is that they are no longer cool, and that you have moved on.

What I want you to say is that you like their new music.

Most importantly what I need to say is thank you for introducing me to this exquisite music by default all those years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Hollywood Walk of Fame ( Shame)

As Catch up with a Mate month 2017 come to an end – a nostalgic post.

Picture this: a 23-year-old Austinmer girl catches a plane from her temporary home in London, bound for the US, to reunite with a best friend, studying at San Diego University.

After much socialising and sight-seeing, best friend encourages solo travel to L.A, and proposes a nights stay at the Venice Beach Cotel ( Hostel). Girl from Austinmer, via London takes advice to heart and catches a grey hound bus L.A bound.

Girl from Austinmer is lost for words, over come by the sights, sounds, smells and size of the concrete monstrosity that is L.A. Venice Beach is her refuge, along with countless vodka and oranges downed at the hostel bar. Venturing out into the night with new-found friends, she is refused entry at a Santa Monica Bar. Aussie charm open’s doors, but no sooner had she entered the club, that the urge to be sick is overwhelming.

Sitting the gutter, feeling somewhat better, being comforted by ….someone….she is escorted back to the hostel.

‘ Girl do you want a tatoo?’ is the last thing she remembers being asked, before vomiting, into her hostel room bath tub.

Girl from Austinmer, sits feeling so sorry for herself the next morning on a bus tour of Hollywood. Jumbo sized lemonade from 7- Eleven in hand, as the tour weaves and winds its way across the city. She is sick countless times.

At midday, the bus tour sees her alight at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is underwhelming, it is dirty, it smells. The glitz and glamour of the movie industry is nowhere to be seen.

She walks up and down the boulevard, glancing over names in pavement,  Michael Jackson, Shirley Temple, but the heat of the day forces her to take shelter under the cover of a shop awning.

Then a voice: smooth, velvety, deep, croons in her direction:

‘ Girrll, you qualified!!’

The effects of her hangover takes hold, muddled head, slow comprehension – did he mean her?

The voice comes at her again ‘ Oooo Girrrlllll, yes, you, You qualified!!’

The girl from Austinmner realises the man’s comments are intended for her. He points at her lower back, smiling broadly, revealing a sea of white teeth.

She swivels at pace, turning her back towards the reflective glass of the shop front, pulls up her t-shirt.

Bunnies, two humping bunnies, making sweet sweet love have been drawn in thick black texture at the base of her spine.

Face red, she pulls down her t-shirt, hikes up her pants, holds head high, composes self and heads to towards tour bus.

Bestie greets girls from Austinmer at San Diego Grey Hound Bus terminal. The ‘ tatoo’ and the story surrounding its origins are retold.  Camera lights flash – paparazzi. Laughter, plenty of laughter.

Yet all I could hear was that  deep velvety voice ‘ Girl, you qualified’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons, Thanks Leonard

At the start of 2017 I boldly declared I was done with life lessons after being dealt yet another setback.

Five months later I realise I could not have been more wrong. Opportunities for learning are ever-present and we can choose our response – what a luxury!

We either solider on, push through and stay true to tried and tested behaviours and thought patterns.

Or we stop in our tracks, we pause, we reflect, we ponder. And when we do get going again, we do so with new insight and purpose.

The late Leonard Cohen wrote ‘ There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in’

Lately, the ground beneath my feet has been unsteady, yet I remained committed to the familiar routine, not willing to acknowledge its short comings.

And then a moment of clarity – the light flooded in and I saw clearly what I had to do.

The old ways of being loosened its grip, and in its place, the immersion of a women, self-assured : with an over-supply of the tools needed to solve the problem that had been  troubling her all along.

A personal epiphany, one I will not shy away from, rather start the process of integrating  lessons learnt into aspects of my being.

I am thankful for yet another opportunity for personal growth. I am forced to eat humble pie : I was wrong, I am not done with life lessons!!

 

 

 

Ode to Olly Alexander

Well, nothing’s gonna hurt me with my eyes shut

I can see through them
I can see through them
I am drawing pictures I’m evading
I will not use them
I will not use them
Again

 

Vocalist Olly Alexander, of the British electronica trio, Years and Years, has described his song ‘ Eyes Shut’  as “a personal torch song.”

“It came out of a very depressing time. I didn’t intend for it to be on the album, but we started doing it live with just me on the piano and people seem to respond to it.”

I respond to this song. It is musical perfection for me, compliments the life stage I find myself entering.

Over the last 6 months, I have attended events of significance. The passing of time marked by a school reunion, a milestone birthday.

At both events, I found myself in tears. Sobbing on the way home from one celebration, public display of emotions at another.

I was never one to show emotion. I kept so much in for so long. But I welcome this change.

Everything used to hurt as I strained to keep my eyes open, fearful that night terrors would be more painful than  the reality of drawn out days.

It was a Saturday night’s milestone birthday  I ‘ think’ I heard through the laughter, tears and general revelry, the voice of an angel, Olly Alexander.

What I think I heard, lead me to return to the band Years and Years music yesterday at work.

This continued at home, song after song warmed up the winter chills that cloaked Sydney.

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

Yet on Saturday night, as this splendid voice pierced the party atmosphere, my tears flowed.

Upon reflection, familiar faces at school reunions and milestone birthdays  have a tendency to bring the past cascading back. Such events remind me of the heaviness I carried around for decades that consumed my ability to see with clarity the possibilities in front of me.

Nights such as school reunions and milestone birthdays also help to reinforce that whilst confronting the past has and will continue to be painful, I am travelling in a new direction.

The tears will continue to flow – I can’t stop them – and I don’t want too.

But eyes shut, eyes open – I have arrived in the here and now.

Would Justin Timberlake’s Brittany Spears break-up inspired number ‘ Cry me a River’ have been a more appropriate song to pen these self revelations too?

No, Olly Alexander and his Years & Years comrades are just what I needed to delve a little deeper into the never-ending process of self discovery.

Voice of an angel, thank you xxx

High School Horror

This tale, repressed for many years, finally surfaces.

It is a true story. Every school teachers nightmare, to the student, incomprehensible.

I am dropped off by my Mother, on her way to work at Holy Cross Primary School Helensburgh, at the Hindu Temple situation on the outskirts of town.

It was 7.26am, the morning mist heavy, parts of the temple and surrounding bushland were cloaked in soft white. At the entrance to the holy site, were numerous pairs of shoes, neatly lined up.

Alone, on the outskirts of town, mist and fog, pairs of shoes without owners, at a temple in Helensburgh, a place so ungodly it was considered ‘ Other’, not part of the South Coast or Sydney. As a Catholic student I was out of my depth. I knew very little about Hinduism and rarely left my beachside residence for a suburb 200 metres above sea level.

Just as my craving for company that morning reached fever pitch, the two buses, containing the entire contents of Year 11 arrived.

The group of 80 plus 16 and 17 year olds entered the temple on mass, lead by Head Teachers and coordinators of Religion. We were here to learn first hand about diversity and devotional practice.

I don’t know about the rest of my class but all I could think about was the paired shoes at the entrance. Who owned them? Why were they left unaccompanied?

I remember sounds from the surrounding shrubbery, the birds songs, the trickle of water from nearby streams, the crunch of the sand beneath feet as we walked around the temple, with its unsealed surface.

I remember a small crowd of students circling a ‘ statue’ which lay face down, seemingly having fallen from its base the night before. Could wind really be that strong to uproot concrete fixtures? Had the temple been vandalised over night?

Students that had been busying themselves at the far corners of the shrine, ogling over points of interests began to flock back to the scene of the fallen ‘ statue’.

Camera flashed, chatter escalated, tears formed, nervous laughter.

The ‘statue’ was a person, a real person, a young women, not much older than my school comrades.

In that moment, lives changed. Our innocence ( if there was any left) shattered, we had witnessed the brutality of life, the hardship, sorrow and levels of desperation and despair.

Teachers ushered us back onto the bus, doing their best to dispel rumours that has begun to circulate ‘ I think I know her?’ , ‘ Did you see her face?’. They made the collective decision to proceed with the itinerary of the day, cathedrals and synagogues. We drove of in the direction of Sydney.

As for me and no doubt others, my mind stayed well and truly in Helensburgh, that day. 22 years later, the imagery of shoes, countless pairs of shoes still haunts me. And the overwhelming sense that morning, as an early drop off excursion goer, of being horribly alone.

Afterward

The story made the Illawarra Mercury the following day – but in an age before digital print, one must ask themselves, Did the really happen at all?

I kept the letter that my School distributed to our parents / guardians the following day – it makes for an interesting read and some what supports my memories of events ; February 23rd 1995

32 hour Party People

Having returned home for the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend, over a red wine at Headlands Hotel, Austinmner with the parentals, the subject for another nostalgic post took hold.

The discussion was around music, and my extensive collection of ticket stubs from late 90’s, early 2000’s concerts. I think I made the comment that ‘It wasn’t always fun and games back then’….

It was December 98. Main characters assembled : Kate S, Jess, C- Ron and movie extra Chris Hopkins. We were attending UK electronic music act ‘The Prodigy” at Selina’s, Coogee Bay Hotel. We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong.

The gig was EPIC. Like nothing we had ever experienced. The gig was a mosh pit from start to finish and I feared for my life on many occasions. The big beat music exhausted everyone, sweat dripped from the roof, body heat reached fever pitched. It was a life affirming.

The next morning we awoke from our temporary resting place at the YHA Sydney city , and rallied the strength to do it all again. Our next musical adventure was to be Homebake, an all Australian outdoor music concert in Hyde Park.

We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong. Having underestimated the energy zapping nature of the gig the night before, we had little in reserves for an all day outdoor festival.

And it rained. Homebake became Mudbake. I recall very little of the festival other than Jess had a plastic water bottle, filled with vodka, that she had offered to C- R0n who was thirsty? He took a large gulp, eyes widening as he did – and not one to waste, the alcohol was swallowed – followed by anger, silent treatment and Jess’s laughter.

We packed it in early – the rain, the mud, our depleted energy levels, the Prodigy drum and bass from the night before outclassing the more conservative Aussie music scene that day.

We boarded a city rail train at Central and accepted our fate – the long train ride South.

Some 20 minutes into the journey, in our carriage full of festival misfits, coming down from chemical highs, the train came to a sudden halt.

Jolted out of my slumber, I recall thinking the train had run over a bike, collided with a metal object on the tracks.

Time passes and we de not move. We look out the window of our carriage to see men in forensic uniforms walking up and down the train tracks.

I am not longer sure who forms part of this movie of memories – Kate S, Jess are surely with me, C- Ron and Chris Hopkins, are they in the other carriage?I remember seeing the men in what appeared to be white space suits thinking – is this really happening, has our train really collided with a human being on Saturday night at Allawah Train station?

It was 1am before us Gong girls and boys get home.

The next morning, or was it a few days later, I read in the paper that our train had indeed hit a person, and that he remained unidentified, the John Doe of Allawah train station.

Fast forward to last night and it is some 19 years after Kate S, Jess, C-Ron and Chris Hopkins had been 32 hour party people. I did on online search to see if the John Doe Allawah case had ever solved.

The search revealed nothing.

Sometime when I think of all the adventures I had in my youth I almost have to pinch myself and ask ‘Did that really happen’?’

When an internet search does not verify my version of the truth I am left wondering….

But I will always have the music….

 

 

 

 

 

Catch up with a Mate Month 2017

Out for dinner last night, a home cooked meal at a friend’s place,the conversation turning to my blog writing and the concept that each June I would embark on a month-long campaign of solid catch ups.

My friend asked ‘ How is Catch up with a Mate month going?’

‘ This is it in action!’ was my response ‘ You are part of it!’

Shared laughter – she had no idea!

I admit that in the seven years I have been writing this blog, some years with a steel gaze on June, an unwavering focus on catch ups with anyone and everyone, and some years, only noticing in August that I failed to celebrate friendship at all!

Truth be told – Catch up with a Mate month and the concept that shapes my writing, has cross pollinated, manifested into all aspects of the life I live. I no longer spend one month focused on friendship, it has become part of my everyday. My friends, family, loved one, pets are my world.

To honour all that is great about catching ups, to give you an idea of the person I am, the person I am becoming, the person I aspire to be….I came across this passage by Dr Brene Brown, an US based Research Professor in Social Work.

” I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”~ Brené Brown

Run DMC – It’s Like That

Over conversation in Camperdown Memorial Park with my favourite Brazilian Australian family, I took a trip down memory lane.

My friend was eating a late lunch, fueling himself for an evening concert at the Sydney Opera House, part of Vivid 2017 Musical line up. This friend, possessing a vinyl collection so extensive it suggests he was born in the wrong musical decade, was attending the Avalanches concert. Aussie Hip Hop Royalty – the Australian ‘ Beastie Boys’.

Those who know me know my questionable taste in music, but at the mention of the Avalanches, for a brief millisecond, I was able to draw from my lapsed appreciation of true talent.

‘ Oh, I saw the Avalanches back in 1997, at Woonona Bulli RSL club. They had just released the hit ‘ Since I left you’

‘ Wow!!’ remarks my friend ‘ That would have been the perfect time to see them!!’

I have not checked in with my friend to enquire how the band, some 20 years later, were received by fans old and new. Rather, I have spent time reminiscing about my late teens and early 20’s, when attending music concerts consumed entire pay cheques.

Today I looked over ticket stubs from the late 90’s and early 2000’s – Blur, Portishead, Moby, Faithless, Ben Folds Five, Veruca Salt, Pulp, Alanis ( x 3),Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day to name a few.

And then the questionable – Ricky Martin, Human Nature, Enrique Iglesias.

Oh, and don’t get me started on Australian bands – The Whitlams, Crowded House ( adopted from New Zealand) Powderfinger, Silverchair, Regurgitator…..

But the search was undertaken with a particular ticket stub in mind – Run DMC,  the American Hip Hop group that hailed from Queens, NYC, had played at Waves NightClub Towradgi Beach. I was certain of it – I had been there, but some 19 years after the event – it seems implausible.

Ticket stub found, Run DMC played in Towradgi, greater Wollongong City, June 12th, 1998. I was 19 years old and wearing a woollen jumper and high heals. To say I was ill prepared an understatement. In need of a musical education and about to witness a live concert by the globes most influential hip-hop act. In Wollongong.

Next time I see my Brazilian Australian friend, I want to ask how the Avalanche concert was. I want to chat to him about that night in June, 1997, when I wore a woollen jumper and high heals to the Run DMC concert. I know we can both have a good laugh about that…and then some!!

 

 

 

 

 

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