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The week that was the 18th-24th of July….and Sydney was a scene similar to late of the most expensive film made in the mid 1990’s by Kevin Costner…Waterworld….a box office flop of mass proportions, a soggy excuse for entertainment, a real stinker….

Yes it was the week that it rained and rained and rained….night became day, day became night….and as people still had to work despite Armageddon style weather, Sydney siders adopted new modes of transport to get to and from work….the humble canoe, jet ski and row-boat sat side by side on the city roads full of soggy buses, foggy cars and the odd scooter, delivering the disgruntled to work.

Not me though…I continued to drive to work….spared the morning drudgery of public transport, I had another week of guaranteed car parking before University started back in Sydney….A park could always be found of Vine Street, Darlington and coffee was readily available at Cafe Ella…Life was good.

My vehicle karaoke cd of choice was by this stage Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 fame. A name I never thought would grace the page of my blog, a musician I never thought I would appreciate and I guarantee that the mere mention of his name will raise the blood pressure of my readers…I have indeed become a fan of the man’s music.

Rob Thomas has a wife, and while that is nothing too astounding, many men have wives, Rob’s wife lives with the autoimmune disease Lupus. I too live with an autoimmune disease, and while I have been given a diagnosis, I guess the best way to describe such illness’  are that they launch periodical attacks on healthy part of your body, your body attacks itself, mini wars that you are responsible for winning ( with the help of some hard-core medication!!)

So Rob Thomas’s lyrics, particularly from song number one on his 2009 album ‘ Cradle Song’ ‘ Her Diamonds’, I relate too….For it is a song were he expresses frustration due to his inability to make things better for his lover when the illness takes hold…I guess really there is nothing he can do but just be present, available for her….I can understand his frustration…I have seen it in my family and friends when they lose me each time I get sick….

A lovely song by Rob Thomas…although I am sure many will disagree!!

But presently I am well, fighting fit, happy with the direction my life is taking….If you listen to track six ‘ Welcome to the real world’ I guess that best paints the picture of my current outlook…’ Hey yeah, Welcome to the real world, no body told you it was going to be hard’…Life is hard, I am well aware of that….but despite this….I look toward the future in anticipation…

I live in the ‘real world’…and don’t I know it….Rob Thomas yet again

Enough preaching, this is a blog about catching up with mates….Well, I can honestly say that during the working week,Monday to Friday, I did none of that….It was Orientation week for 500 students from all round the globe and they consumed all the energy I would normally place into socailising…To counterbalance this imbalance, I made it my aim to go to the gym every night after work, as no lunch break and too many questions about how to get to Bondi Beach took it toll and the treadmill was the only place that could restore my equilibrium….

I also resorted to junk food, boxes of Arnotts Shapes, fun size chocolate bars, donuts, hot chips and lots of lollies to alleviate any student administration discomport…By Friday 5pm I wascertain I had gained an additional 5 kgs..a small price to pay for my sanity!!

There was a mid-week dinner date with the parental in Enmore at the divine ‘ Sultan’s Table’…..A turkish feast fit for kings…we dined on squeres of lamb and a dip plate that looked more like an painters colour palete…and array of flavours that transported us from blistering wind and rain of inner city Sydney to the heat and warm of Istanbul…Topping the night of with a slice of baklava, Mum and Dad dropped my to my car and gave me gifts of kitty litter, a curtain and some digestive biscuits (!!??)

And so the week continued on, car trips to the office, Rob Thomas anthems, coffee from Ella and solid 9am-5pm days with no break…The outlook was gloomy, litterally…..Our office block had begun to flood and large fans were brought in to dry out the soggy carpet…As the air began to take on the stench of moldy socks, the office block thought it best to throw workers another curve ball….Lets have a fire alarm of Friday….So with gale force wind whipping rain drops in all directions, we were forced out of flooded workplace because apparently it was on FIRE….It was too much for me to cope with….one could laugh or cry and they stood shivering in the open paddock behind our workplace, getting drenched by the afternoon down pour….And I chose the latter as, unfortunately,Alanis Morrisette ‘ Isn’t it Ironic’ whirled around in my head….

Lets put an end to the working week…It is OVAH….

Saturday, the rain eased and Flora has two friends over….the lovely Ms Kate C and Ms Elena A ( with baby bump)…Flora was showered with much love and gifts….Kate C brought the gift of cat grass, and as the photos show, it was, as the KFC Kernal say, finger licking good! While Flora munched on grass, Kate, Elena and I ventured up to my favourite local cafe and had brunch at Parc Cafe…..Yum!! Breakfast pies, chai lattes, coffee and brioche…Followed by tea and my house and conversation about religion, the end of the world and cake.

Saturday night…Girls night out with ever gorgeous Kate Scott, Steph Lee and her friend Liz. Location, Gazebo, Elizabeth Bay, a funky bar/restaurant were it is best not to think about price of drinks and meal, rather focus on the experience alone….As that is why we were there…Well I was any way!!

Cocktails that looked like works of art, floral arrangements and installation pieces from Galleries,were consumed, followed by nibbles and mains of steak and chips and chilli grab pasta. A bottle of red and deserts of rocky road, dessert wine and warm chocolate brownie with fairy floss…Heaven.

While Gazebo was loud, and we dined whilst listening to 80’s music, and from memory, Tina Turner’s ‘ We don’t need another hero’, often we felt like we were eating in lovely meal in night club, but a fancy night club at that, with no dance floor, but with such great music, it was not uncommon to see those seated engage in shoulder dancing whilst humming along to the funky tunes…We whitnessed to odd PDA ( public display of affection) whilst scoffing our meals down, adding to the disco style atmosphere…I will be back….

And Sunday, like an old friend, crept around….I have only left th house once…To get a coffee and the paper, which really wasn’t necessary as my friend Jess called my at 11am and told me that Amy Winehouse is dead and that Cadel Evans won the Tour De France…may as well call it a day I guess..

What do I want from the week ahead….a few more catch ups would be nice…a few days without rain would be welcomed…and another cocktail or two of Gazebo standards is a must….

Links to to the week that was:

Sultan”s Table, Enmore, Sydney

Parc Cafe, Clovelly Road…where you will come face to face with the Silent Barista!!

Gazebo, Elizabeth Bay…perfect place for girls night out

CUWAM- Baby you can drive my car

Another week ends, and time for self reflection…A rather painful task when on reflection you realise that not much was achieved over the last 7 days..a couple of hissy fits, endless emailing, strong coffees and a stale sandwich or two for good measure!

The highlight of the week that was the 11-17th of July was driving my Hyundai Getz too and from work…Oh the luxury of removing oneself from the daily grind that is the Sydney public transport system…Sitting next to commuters who look just as upset as you that the majority of the day will be spent in a sterile, white-walled office block, illuminated by fluorescent lighting, with a group of people they would struggle to hold a conversation with in ‘ real life’…oh the plight of the modern-day office worker….This was all avoided by driving to work, singing along to David Guetta feat. Kelly Rowlands ‘ When Love Takes over’, cruising at a leisurely pace, and eventually finding a park on Vine Street, Darlington…casually strolling to Cafe Ella for a large cappuchino….and then begrudgingly heading off in the vague direction of work.

I completed the same ritual of driving, vehicle karaoke and coffee slurping from Monday to Friday…..And as a result, My days in the office speed by from 9am-1pm and the coffee at Ella affected me on many levels…for a start I am convinced each coffee is injected with three shots of caffeine, far more than I am used too…So mornings speed by, conversations with colleagues and students sprung from my mouth faster than my brain could actually formulate words were invented such as ‘Ha-stounding’ ( a word uttered when trying to describe something as astounding??!!)…It was both awkward and fun at the same time…

And each day at approximately 1pm I would collapse, the caffeine would wear off and I would search for anything that could give me a little buzz…Alcholic hand sanitizer, glucose riddled jelly beans, tim tams….These were indeed tough times…I turned to Youtube and data entry to counter balance my sudden mood shifts and apologised to work mates who had to deal with my ever erratic outbursts!

The week that was, Kenny Lowe, the Zen master, returned to the office after an 11 month sabbatical at the Sydney Business School. I was happy to see him back in our team, as he brought with him an endearing attitude that is so welcome in any modern workplace….’ It doesn’t matter’….

There was a picnic in Victoria Park with the glorious April Morley, and the exchange of half a packet of Arnotts Mint Slices for a bag of home-grown lemons….A tennis match with work mates and an evening meal at the Royal Hotel Darlington…a $9 steak meal and a glass of house red….perfect way to end a work day….Gym sessions at Fitness First followed by nightly grazing sessions on the previous weeks Wollworths special…the humble Tim Tam.

A mid-week highlight was a very special meal at ‘ The Nourishing Quarter’ with the divine Fernanda and Ms JK. Though JK and I still were suffering from a bit of post traumatic Melbourne stress, the pesticide and chemical free, organic and entirely vegan meal, restored our fragmented sense of self….Pure heaven…as was the comment of the ‘ Nourishing Quarter’s head chef as we paid the bill, ‘ Only models and athletes have been eating here!’…’ Say that again’ I begged…Ah the Nourishing Quater….a definite place for both inner and outer replinsihment…Get oneself to this Surry Hills hot spot asap…

And then onto NIDA ( National Institute of Dramatic Arts) were Ms Melle Stewart ( wife of Phantom Ben Lewis) was performing in the play Tick Tick Boom…Melle, the consummate performer, was wonderful…A real treat to see live, her voice, amazing,….JK, Fernanda and I sat mesmerised by this women that yes, we had all done data entry with!!

A quick Friday lunch catch up with a couple still basking in wedded bliss, Bec and Mike Trimmer. A 12 noon lunch time catch up in Newtown, we reminisced about their February Wedding and the joy surrounded that day, their decision to leave Sydney and set up house in Adelaide with staffy Cooper and cat Meeko…Love you guys.

And now I have blogged myself up to the weekend, Saturday, an early morning drive down South, and I launched an early morning visit on friends Phillippa and Gordon. With present in hand to present to their daughter Phoebe, who had just turned one, we all marvelled at Phoebe’s attempt to walk and new habit of hugging her toys. At Gordon’s request I stayed to watch the side-show that is Phoebe attempts at feeding herself breakfast…A wonderous sight!! Phoebe shovelled mushy weetbix and sultanas in the general direction of her tiny mouth, then moved onto juicing mandarins segments with her two front teeth and discarding the fruits flesh on the floor…Unsure if I needed any further entertainment after the feeding session, I decided to continue along my set path and, after happy goodbyes, I headed to Shellharbour.

D’Luxe Hairdressing Salon for a two hour make over with my friend Jess in tow…..Whilst I was thrilled with my new and colour, Jess took some convincing to embrace her new purple highlights, complete with red tips ( just joking..Jess perfect red ringlets remained intact, just graced with a warm brown rinse)

D’Luxe Hairdressing salon is run by my brother’s girlfriend Tennelle and her sister Sharna….It is a magical place, where hair dreams can come true….thank you for taking on my no frills approach to hair colours and cutting and introducing me to the GHD, hair tinting and foils…amazing!!

Hairdresser’s Extraordinaire…the lovely girls at D’Luxe Hair and Beauty, Shellharbour

And to lunch by the sea in Shellharbour with Jess and our friend Rebecca Wearne ( formally Crowe), conversation about love and life, trials and tribulations, a takeaway piece of pineapple cheesecake and then cuddles with Mae in the suburb of Flinders.

Sunday, a day of rest, a sleep in and then a catch up with a friend who has been part of my life since I was a mere 8 years old, Ms Rhonda Pietrini ( welcome to my blog)…Rhonda and I meet when we were thrown together at the Anglican Youth Group for girls, GFS ( Girls Friendly Society…enough said) Years of therapy have helped this good Catholic girls come to terms with the devils work that was GFS, but out of the rubble, Rhonda and my friendship remains…..And I love her dearly…A great friend, and I will thank the god of any religion fo her in my life!

Coffee and cake with Rhonda, followed by a short stroll to Fox studio markets, Moore Park. Meandering around, stopping my the petting zoo ( and secretly wishing Rhonda’s 1-year-old, Harry was with us so that I could justify cooing over the lamb’s and rabbits)

An aside, I spotted the silent barista at Fox Studio’s, with his be-speckled girlfriend, who happens to be…his wife!! The silent barista does not wear his wedding ring to work, but in the midday sun, his wedding band shone …and I merely smiled. He had a coffee in his hand, and I wondered…’ Who would make a coffee good enough for you’…I was left with that thought for sometime….

And with Flora on my lap, my little portable hot water bottle, I look with a fresh eye to the week ahead, bring it on I say, Que Sera Sera….

Vehicle Karaoke song of choice…..

The Nourishing Quater, Surry Hills…restore your inner Zen….

CUWAM- Post Tramatic Stress disorder ( a self diagnosis)

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The week the blogging every day ended….and I felt lost…was my sense of self entirely due to blog entries that had eventuated in June 2011? A mere 30 days of knowing who I was…. When I had walked this earth for nearly 32 years??….Battling such intense feeling the urge to blog has never been stronger…

The first week of July was one in which I was no longer documenting every friendly encounter, every hand shake, every conversation ( real or imagined)…I felt both a sense of relief and emptiness as each day came to an end, knowing that I would not reflect in the same way I had in June about each 24 cycle of friendship….

Whilst I am not a fan of self diagnosis, by Tuesday evening,  concerned by thoughts that since I was no longer blogging, I was no longer a true reflection of the person I thought I was…I ventured onto medical journals found on search engine ‘ google’….

My internet search first took me to a site ‘ I BLOG THEREFORE I AM’….and my feelings of despair turned to terror…was I no longer a valid person??…Relying on the intense sense of dread to fuel my desire for knowledge, I conducted another internet search, and stumbled upon a medical journal detailing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…and though I scanned quickly over the contents of the page, my body started to relax, as did my contorted face, cramped legs and hunched shoulders……for I indeed was suffering from PTSD..induced by blogging withdrawals ( self diagnosis and prehaps a world first!!)

And I guess this diagnosis helped me to reconcile with the week that was….A week of many challenges…..My shattered sense of self had to reconcile itself with the huge amount of office data entry that threatened to enveloped me during the hours of 9am-5pm.

To cope I developed OCD ( Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) type symptoms of listening to three songs on YouYube on high rotation….and for your listening pleasure I present them to you now:

Arcade Fire- We used to wait

The Naked and famous All of this

The Naked and famous Young Blood

Arcade Fire, a band that will forever torment…In early 2008 I received a call from a friend asking if I would like to see this band at the Enmore Theatre in Enmore, Sydney….At the time I was musically challenged ( some might say I have always been) and I asked ‘ Are they like Enrique Iglesias or Westlife?’….That remark was not received well and my friends response was ‘ You don’t deserve to be invited’…I pleaded that I did, I just had not heard of them, ‘ Educate me at the concert’ I whimpered…but it was too late, my friend left me stranded on the Top 40 highway of musical taste….and I have been there ever since….However, due to the wonderful movie ‘ Where the Wild Things Are’, released late 2009, I have since become accustomed to Arcade Fire, a fan even, and listen to their music now with a sense of sadness at what was, I have been told, a great show of true musicianship at the Enmore 2008…

The other two songs are my New Zealand band ‘ The Naked and Famous’….I feel like these tunes belong to the younger generation, that I am not supposed to enjoy such youthful music, that I should stick with the bands of my youth, ‘ Sound Garden’, ‘ Tool’ and ‘ Savage Garden’….but the early 1990’s did not provide me with enough escapist music, enough joyful pop…And so I listen to bands such as ‘ The Naked and Famous’ ….There I said it…I blame the early 1990’s for a lot….

Apart from data and three pop songs…the week also involved trips to RPA hospital to visit a friend who was experiencing the difficulties associated with pregnancy and the insane lengths the female body will go to to accommodate new life….truelly amazing…

There was a mid-week lunch date at Cafe Guila, Chippendale with my mate Fernanda, and dinner and drinks in Newtown on Friday night with work mates…

Saturday was a self-imposed day of rest…I did not get out of bed till 1.30pm in the afternoon…stella effort I say!! I was ever so proud of myself…for there was nothing more I felt like doing than sleeping in and staying warm inside my bed whilst the wind roared through the trees outside.

The evening was fabulous…dinner in Darlinghurst at Chianti Restaurant with birthday girl Alex Muir….dressed in killer heals and a cocktail dress, the young lady looked every bit the party girl!! Wonderful Italian meal, completed by a tiramisu birthday cake with hazelnut praline…but sadly there was something missing from the evening celebrations…So to the Victoria Rooms, Darlinghurst, where the evening would be completed by the purchase of the infamous $80.00 flaming watermelon cocktail

Hold onto you hats as I describe this concoction…half a frozen watermelon, with three separate goblet size wholes cut out of the fruits flesh…filled with an insane amount of alcohol…and then set on fire….It is what every birthday girl must have at a party…It really propelled all those still in party mode to a new level of inebriation!!

From the Victoria Room to Oporto’s ( naturally) for burgers and chips!! and then a cab ride home, where I was told my the cabbie that is was too early to be calling it a night ( it was 2am) and that I should still be partying, preferably with a watermelon cocktail!!

Sunday ( it came around just a little to fast )  and the morning spent in Leichhardt at Cafe Bones, with the lovely Steph and Anna Lee….Oh and Carlos Lee( Steph’s little man of the four-legged variety) Though slightly hung over it was the perfect way to be propelled into Sunday morning culture Sydney style….Coffee and toast with around 100 canines, all yelping and frolicking in the parkland, off leash and therefore happy…..Whilst dog owners slurped cappuccino’s, dog slurped on puppacino’s…..Cafe Bones…a sight one has to see to believe….

And Sunday afternoon, a time for reflection…taking stock of the week that was, and the week to come…Coming to terms the fact that I will blog only once a week till June, 2012….and the fact that the humble watermelon was to blame for the slow onset headache would be my companion for the rest of the day….

The links to Life: 1st-9th of July

The Victoria Rooms….and the flaming watermelon cocktail for six people!!

Cafe Bones…a place one has to see to believe

Chianti…the review that will mkae you book a seat at this restaurants table….

CUWAM….July and the tale of a Tiger that would not fly

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I have poured myself a wine, as recalling the event of the past three days would have driven anyone to drink…

Ah, the tale of a long weekend in Melbourne and three girlfriends with varying ideas of what to do in the city with an advertising campaign asking people to ‘ Come and Play’….

To set the scene three girls planned a girls weekend to Melbourne back in May 2011….flights were booked, accommodation secured and car hire arranged…then accommodation and car hire was cancelled, one of the girls decided to hostel it, the other two decided to book only the first nights accommodation and hope for the best for Saturday night….as the prospect of securing two consecutive nights in the same hotel was at short notice ie the day before, no longer possible.

Arriving at the airport was stress free, Jen (JK) and I smiled as Tiger airlines announced a 30 min delay to our flights boarding time…Having heard nothing but Tiger-mares from friends regarding the plight of the Tiger flights, we felt ever so smug that all we were being subjected too was a travel time delay…

More worrying was the fact that our comrade Fiona, was a no show…a text confirmed a missed flight, a lost passport, and just before we boarded the flight, even more concerning was a text from a work mate informing us that the she had gone into work….Our party of three would be a party of two for the next three days….

Jen and I took it in our stride, we had technically been dumped at the airport!! Though we felt slightly heart-broken that Fiona would not be with us in person, her spirit would live on if we chose to rise to the challenge that was head…a good time in Melbourne City ( not too hard a task!!)

Our flight was fine, our transfer on the Sky bus and Sky shuttle satisfactory, our accommodation, devine…Perched on the banks of the Yarra was our home for the night…the Crown Plaza, with complimentary Pink Lady apples to eat on every floor!! Happiness.

Lunch on the banks of the Yarra, coffee and cake in a laneway, and ticket purchasing to ‘Love Never Dies’, spur of the moment, living on the edge….a real treat as our friend, and fellow data entry colleague, Mr Ben ‘ Phantom’ Lewis, held the starring role of the Regent Theatre production..

And what a night….Jen and I were in raptures as Ben took command of his role, a man born for the stage, it truly was a wonderous site…the music soared, and so did our hearts…all the data entry back in the office block were I had worked with Ben only months before finally paid off…( rumour has it that is was his typing speed set him apart in the final phantom audition!!)…After the show, Jen and I stood on Flinders Lane, in the cold and waited at the back stage door…to greet Ben and gush at his brilliance….

Saturday, a slow start to the day, an 11am check out…Blissfully unaware of the impending drama, Jen and I dropped into the Crown Plaza business centre secure that nights acommodation…St Kilda here we come…We frequented the business centre a second time for that morning for a spot of emailing…cause we could I guess!!..a quick glance at my facebook account detailed a tale of woe that had befallen my friend Lauren and her families Tiger travel plans to Melbourne…Lauren was using expletives….the anger and frustration was oozing through her facebook account…and I felt compelled to call…to console my mate…surely it could not be THAT bad….

And that is when our Melbourne holiday took another battering…the entire Tiger fleet was grounded indefinitely…. We were to be flying back to Sydney the following day with Tiger….as Lauren so eloquently put it ‘ Not f+$%kin anymore’ ( that line was never actually uttered…just putting it in for dramatic effect!!)

At this point I feel it is necessary to click on song below….for it aptly summarises how JK and I would face the airline debacle….

United we will stand in the face of the Tiger Airline crisis!!

And so began the mad dash to rebook a flight, anything that vaguely resembled a mode of transport back to Sydney on Sunday….Flight prices began in the low $200.00 mark, and extended up to $800.00…By a sheer miracle, Jen secured two flights at $191 each…and after much stress, and a lengthy delay in receiving email confirmation that booking even existed…we could smile and call ourselves friends once more!!

Breakfast at 1pm in another lane…a large coffee as I just wasn’t stressed enough…and then a break from each other to’ re-group and re-focus’….I hot-stepped it to Curtin House, Swanston Street, and told anyone who would listen that I had no shopping budget left due to my Tiger travel experience…Wondering aimlessly through graffiti lined laneways, smiling at strangers,  lashing out ( like a tiger) and spending $10 of jewellery at DIVA, along with some glucose jelly beans for Jen ( just in case we needed another sugar hit should we encounter any more high drame in the remaining 24 hours)

Another coffee in a lane, a tram ride to St Kilda, wine in hotel room, dinner at a swish Italian restaurant, gelato on Ackland street, tears at the ending of ‘ Marley and Me’, Channel Nines saturday night movie….and sweet dreams in deluxe beds with crisp white linen.

Early morning rise, locked self in lobby toilet, rang directory assistance from mobile for reception number, only to realise I was basing my theory of being a damsel in distress locker in a lavatory on the wrong entrance to the bathroom, and a quick pirouette and I faced another door…the correct door, with a turn of the door knob I was free!!

Tram ride to city, train ride to Collingwood and reunion with new parents, Andrew and Emma in delightful Abbortsford……Hugs with Benjamine Rose, whose outfit of choice was a teddy bear sleeping bag…perfect for cafe culture on a Sunday….Short stroll to yummy cafe ‘ Thee Bags Full’…were low and behold, was served by local Austinmer girl….you just cannot escape your south coast connections…

I met another Jen at ‘ Three Bags Full’, my travelling buddy of 2001, Ms Jen Brennan, who had secured us a table at the cafe…which was no small feet…this cafe appeared to have a bouncer and line of people clambering to get inside the building that stretched as far as the eye could see…

I had read prior to coming to Melbourne, that the sign of a good cafe is such a scene, for if people are not queueing en mass for the hot cakes and coffee, there is something terribly wrong with the venue…

Needless to say ‘ Three Bags Full’ did not disappoint, and we ate at a communal table, with fellow diners admiring the little bear who had joined us for breakfast.

An airport run ( thank you Andrew), reuniting with JK, boarding a Qantas flight ( pure bliss) and settling in for the 53 minute journey back to Sydney…Touch down.

Rumour has it that the food served on the Qantas flight was off, the warm beef roll had been branded with a best before date of the 1st of July…JK had been given a $20 voucher after she had voiced her concern….Me, I had eaten only the beef and I began to wonder when, and if , I would be struck down with a violent case of food poisoning….

And that my friends was Melbourne….True to form, JK and I took it all in our stride, many a time it would have been too easy to be overcome with disappointment at how things turned out, but we had too many pink lady apples to munch through to get carried away on those thought trains…

JK, thank you for a great weekend away….Will we be travel buddies again? Will we travel interstate, hell even Internationally?..You bet your pink lady apple we will!!

And as for the here and now….I need another wine!!

Love Never Dies…The Phantom Sequel

Three Bags Full…Lovely cafe in Abbotsford, Melbourne

And the cafe that got rave reveiews over breakfast on Sunday… Penny Farthing in Northcote….Check it out!!

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