Felton Food Festival 2016

Felton Food Festival

My friends husband advised me on the weekend to take time to ‘ process ‘ the weekend that was…. What exactly was my four days in Southern Queensland??

In a word- Perfect.

Festival Action

No more processing time needed.

The weekend enabled me to see a little clearer, to appreciate that the meaning of love can be found in the truly mundane & the breathtaking beautiful.

I saw pristine countryside & experienced honest to goodness hospitality. I ate local produce, mixed lollies & drank beer at the local.

I meet a celebrity Gardner at the Felton Food Festival & sweltered in 40 degree heat. I experienced community spirit at its finest- 12,000 people gathered in corn fields to celebrate agriculture, farming & fine fabulous food.

I read books to children, experienced a school drop off & learnt more about Star Wars than I ever imagined possible.

 

Corn Fields

And lastly, I listened to Taylor Swift, over and over and over again.

The weekend was all that & so much more. It was perfect. Just perfect.

We all need pick me ups from time to time & we are lucky to have those in life who recognise when our batteries need recharging.

Thank you Scott, Lauren, A,S,M & J for my perfect escape. The surprise visit 4 months in the making- all the scheming, plotting & out right lies where worth it- I needed that weekend as much as your much loved wife/ mother did.

The Town of Killarney

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Antenna Ears

On a recent holiday to Melbourne I truly relaxed. It got to the point that when asked by a Barista for my name for my coffee order…..I had to pause to think about my response.

Ah Melbourne….just want I needed…. Six days of pure escapism, good friends, good food, good coffee, good times.

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Six days were I did as I pleased….always with a keen eye and ear for my surrounds. You just never know what pearls of wisdom you might be privy too….what treasures you may find by stepping off a high street and into a Melbourne lane way…..

This by far was not the most insightful conversation I caught wind of as I walked along the city sidewalk….but it made me smile,cringe and soften simultaneously.

A group of men sitting at cafe, hospital patients getting a little sun and sipping coffee, chewing the fat.

Man One to mates ‘ I woke up this morning with a catheter in my dick’
Continuing on with his story ‘ So I said to the nurse- Who put that there?’
‘ I did’ was the nurses response.
Man One to mates’ So I said to her, aren’t I a lucky man then’.

I walked past this table as the punch line was delivered ‘ Aren’t I a lucky man then’….I thought of the nurse, just doing her job, nothing more than that, I thought of the man, and his attempts to sexualise the medical procedure that had been performed whilst he was out cold….he had felt nothing…My thoughts then turned to notions of loneliness and isolation….

I guess sometimes I think too much…A group of men talking about something quiet personal….Hats of to them!! A group of men sexualising a medical procedure….not impressive. But the overiding thought I had was rather a feeling, compassion for a person seeking sexual gratification whilst under general atheistic….

With my antenna ears on high alert….. I left that conversation and continued on my way….Pondering what I might overhear next….’ Mum, at what month (of age) do you understand laughing?’

CUWAM- Coast, City, Country

If I was had the strength, this blog entry would be called ‘ Burning the candle at both ends’….but I will save that for another day. I have was well and truly over done it this time…Having taken Catch up to a Mate motto a little too serious, taken it coastal, city and country in a matter of 6 days…and the time has come to STOP, to force oneself to take a long hard  look in the mirror, re-evaluate, re-group and re-focus.

Too much of a good thing…it is the only to describe the week that was….there is no denying it was good….Yet as the saying goes too much of a good thing ….

Has left me feeling burnt out by the experience, suffering from blogger’s anxiety, writers block….This entry contains the  words of a fragile soul…but it is a tale worth telling, so that others too, might learn from my experience

Coast

The Easter long weekend arrived. Good Friday…and you were good. The sun shone and I took my pale white body to Bronte beach for a dip in the sea pool…..A summer day had finally arrived in mid Autumn. Sitting quietly on a hill in a beach side park, I sipped on my coffee and whilst sunning myself and thought ‘ Isn’t life grand?’

Once home, I collected a few worldly possessions, namely Flora the cat, and drove South, arriving at the parental home is time for a chin wag and cool drink before joining some girlfriends at the local for a pub meal. Catholic guilt got the better of me, and despite the fact that I have not been to a Sunday Church service for 15 years, I refrained from eating meat, at ate a fish meal instead??

The catch up was great…A pregnancy confirmed, an infectious smile from a first time Mum relishing in her first ever girls night out since the birth of her bub…steady flow of conversation and drinks…..

Catch up with a Mate’s coastal experience: smiles all round

City

Upping the tempo a bit, I was to board a Hen’s bus to the city on Easter Saturday…My little brother is marrying his true love…What is not to celebrate?

The Hen and me

The Hen and me

An early morning seaside stroll and a coffee at Austinmer beach to kick start the day…Constrained laughter from my Father as my Mother and I attempted to ‘ Glam it up’ for the AAMI Golden Slipper Race day at Rosehill Race course.

My mother and I do glamour….but of the understated variety…A day at the races calls for in your face glamour and we struggled with a concept foreign to us…

The party bus left the sleepy south coast at 10am….city bound. 40 women, decked out in their finery, all intent of celebrating with Tennelle, the prettiest Hen of all. We laughed, chatted and drank on our bus ride to the West, then we laughed, chatted, and watched our money go west throughout the racing carnival!!

Come 5pm, it was time to call it a day…39 people got back on the party bus bound for the South…I took the high road ( or the low road, depending on how you look at it!!) back to the city….5 city rail carriages transported the drunk, the sunburnt and the penniless back to Sydney city….for come sun up Sunday morning…Catch up with a Mate was heading to the Country

County

Exhausted, I awoke early, packed a bag of summer clothes, and took the streets to catch the 7.30am public bus the Airport.

Arriving at the domestic terminal to be told I had missed my flight to Melbourne because it left from the ‘ International’ terminal…

Not one to be shocked by much anymore, the knowledge repressed from days working in the travel industry…this situation was real…Some domestic flights DO leave from the INTERNATIONAL terminal, and you need to get there 2hrs prior to departure with your PASSPORT!!

Forced to purchase a new ticket, my fear that I could be out of pocket hundreds of dollars was quickly quashed…$80.00 later I was on my way to Melbourne.

I was collected from the airport at 11am by bride to be Naomi…and we drove 2 hours north east…destination, Shepparton…to be part of the illustrious 88th Shepparton Tennis Tournament ( well part of the crowd anyway)

The Tennis Tournament had started on Good Friday, and arriving on Easter Sunday felt like arriving half way through a Steven Spielberg blockbuster…You weren’t quiet sure what had happened…Felt a bit lost….A dinner party guest who arrived as dessert was being served, having missed entrée and mains….awkward!!

I did my best to get involved, I drank a few beers and caught up with the locals I had befriended during my 2011 visit. I became an active spectator, clapping and heckling on demand, cheering court side for winners who went on to be winners , consoling would be winners who became losers…

And aside from tennis, I looked to my friend Jess for advice on what to do in Shepparton…Eat, drink and be merry…Coming from a very small family, I have long been in awe of Jess and her large family, it seems to grow bigger each time I am swept up into the maddess!! The Easter Sunday meal catered for the masses…on last count I reached 25 bodies…Realising this I hit the champagne!!

My time in Shep was short…3 nights and 2.5 days…I had failed to pack for the chilly weather conditions, and as a result wore the same outfit for preciously 3 nights and 2.5 days…I have my sights firmly on the 2013 Shep Tennis Tournament…Arrival date : Good Friday…Next year I will not be the party guest who arrives for dessert only!!

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In need of solitude I caught the 7am bus from Shepparton to Melbourne City on Wednesday…I spent a good part of the day in St Kilda and then took a tram to Carton, Cinema Nova and watched a mid week movie. But during my one day silent retreat, I realised I missed the company of my Shepparton family…I admitted to Jess that I felt ‘ bored’…or maybe that was code for exhausted??

I retired to bed early…for in the morning…it was back to reality…office work in Sydney!

Thursday morning, my 5am alarm signalled the start of the epic journey home. You know you have over done it when you have to catch 2 buses, 1 train and a plane to arrive at the work for a 9am start!!

In summation

Hindsight is a strange thing….I look back on the week that was and think it was pure madness to think that my sense of self would remain intact as I navigated coastal, city and county landscapes at such a fast pace….Madness….

Madness, yes, that is what it was, but it is my nature to cram things in…I once took a round the world vacation in under three weeks…Madness…Lesson learnt? Only time will tell, but my track record ain‘t good!!…By recalling the events of the past 6 days, reflecting on the highs and lows, it is my sincere  hope that I can help myself in the future, to slow down, smell the roses…and if I can’t save myself….maybe this tale with resonate with  fellow reader!!

CUWAM- Perth: Pets, People, Places

It’s the pointless things that give your life meaning. Friendship, compassion, art, love. All of them pointless. But they’re what keeps life from being meaningless.  Tim Winton

I feel the need to quote Tim Winton in this post as I spent 9 lovely, sun filled days in his home state last week. Winton, one of my favourite Australian author’s , captures  so vividly the beauty of coastal living in his writing…And Western Australia, you put on a show for me last week….Endless sunshine, fun-filled days spent frolicking at Cottesloe Beach and Rottnest Island…Yes, Paradise is where I was…and I am reminded now that I am office bound, that hell is where I currently reside!!

A one week holiday to break the endless cycle of office administration, house hold chores and pet grooming…A self indulgent week spent with good friends, eating fine food and wine in sublime / breathtaking surrounds….Was there a point to this escapade? Not really…but as Winton say’s….it is these simple pleasures that make the canvas of ones life colourful…

The week is over, done and dusted, compartmentalized in my brain in a section for ‘ happy memories’….But those memories are forever mine…and how lucky I am! My time spent on the West Coast adds another layer to my life story….let me share some of them with you.

My Rottnest Island tale has been told, now it is time to focus on life in ‘ The Hills’ of Perth.

Pets:Ruby and Ollie Stuart-Smith, dachshund extraordinaires and Hills based residents….Won over my heart. This brother and sister combo worked their magic on me…So much so that this cat loving girl has found it hard to adjust to the high-pitched meow of her once trusted feline companion…3.31am cries for food is NOT OK Flora!! Picture don’t do the cuteness factor of these hounds justice…but here goes…enjoy xx

Ruby

Ruby

Ollie

Ollie

People: My friends Lisa and Steve…living the dream in ‘ The Hills’ Perth….As a colleague in the office said ‘ I did not know Perth had hills!’…Truth be told…neither did I! And I am glad they do…I am a convert, a bush paradise awaited me, my home for five days. Thanks L and S for letting me stay.

Lisa and Steve

Lisa and Steve

Places: Lisa and I holidayed in style mid week….A day trip around Kalamunda, lunching and the like, I took myself on a day trip of Perth City, hitting the pavement of Mt Lawley and Northbridge, and hanging out park side  in Perth city. Come the weekend, Steve, Lisa’s husband joined the festivities….As a trio we indulged in Friday night drinks in South Perth and then tackled fine dining at Bathazar, Perth City ( licorice and garlic ice-cream…a winner!!) On Saturday, we upped the anti and continued the high-end dining experience by having lunch at Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale…Wow Wee…And when words fail, let the picture the story

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And now my time in  Perth is but a dream…a good dream, of the sustaining variety..and so to Rottnest Island, Lisa, Steve, Ruby and Ollie, and the beauty that is WA…thanks for the wonderful memories…xxx

CUWAM- Rottnest Island: Paradise is where I am

The title of this entry should read ‘ Rottnest Island: Paradise is where I was’…for I am back on the West Coast mainland now..still paradise, but of the inland variety.

And after three sun filled days in the sun, I am left wondering…Can paradise be found anywhere? Is this ideal truly only realised when you dare to step on the treadmill that is everyday living, and in doing so, taking a look at the world around you with fresh eyes…

Whilst Rottnest was beautiful, of the happy tear inducing variety, perfect coastlines, white sand, aqua and deep blue seaside, I questioned whether my new-found inner peace was not only made possible be the islands breathtaking environment but from my decision to leave the everyday behind and do something different, experience something new and exciting…Paradise I came to realise was a combination of the two.

When in Rottnest, do as the locals ( of which there are few) do…Swim, cycle and sun yourself….I did all three, over a period of 72 hours. I went to bed early, rising early each morning, and either walked, rode or took the shuttle bus to a beach of my fancy….I was spoilt for choice…I swam at Salmon Bay,Lady Edeline Beach, Geordie Bay….and after numerous dips decided on a favourite, Little Parakeet Bay…

On an island of such beauty, it was fitting to meet beautiful people, like-minded souls who were all taking some time out from the daily grind that is life…We chatted over beers and wine, shared whatever food we had gathered from the general store…took time out to star gaze, for the night sky put on a fantastic display….glistening diamonds danced overhead as we sipped on our drinks and exchanged travel tales from adventures at home and abroad.

It is fair to say I had the time of my life…three very much longed for days away from the pressures of work and home life ( even if I do only live with a cat…Flora is a very demanding!!)…Three days that revolved solely around me. Indulgent? Yes…Do I  feel the need to justify this decision? No…. To put oneself first every now and then…recommended…to put oneself first on beautiful island, surrounded by like-minded people, crystal clear ocean and picture perfect surrounds….highly recommended.

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CUWAM- Numbers Continued….37

And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…

Alex Garland, The Beach

37 hours…that is how long it took me to get to my holiday destination : Rottnest Island, Western Australia….37 hours to reach paradise.

I awoke on Friday morning…and the outlook was bleak….9 hours of non-stop office administration was in front of me…The very thought of it clouded my vision, and I felt sure that I would never see the finish line.

I arrived at the office at 8am….and settled myself for the monumental task of tying up all loose ends so that I could take a 5 day holiday….Hindsight is a strange thing…There was no way that all my administration woes could be solved in a mere day…but I gave it a good shot….and failed miserably!!

Students whinged and moaned, colleagues cursed, academics ranted and I huffed and puffed through the data processing marathon…Why oh why had I entered this race…For it was by 4pm that day it was clear I was the only competitor…and this was one race I was not going to win

I left the office at 5pm,defeated, with a half eaten sandwich in my handbag, and the onset of repetitive strain injury in my right wrist…The frantic post work conversation with a colleague in a similar situation…Kenny was being summoned for dury duty…and as he put it ‘ Having to do 6 weeks work in 1 day’…tied up further office tasks for me over the phone…Things I had overlook as I dashed to the  finish line….

And then to dinner…A longed for meal with friends from Queensland, Sydney and Wollongong…To Surry Hills for a Nepalese Feast followed by coffee and cake at Gnome Cafe on Crown street. And still I was ever the marathon runner….

My friend Jess, honed in fast…She could tell I was operating on reserve fuel, I had entered a new phase of operation..Hyperactive / autopilot….

‘ Are you on drugs, Speed?’

‘ No’

‘ What ever it is, I want some!!’

Post dinner, the time had come for some shut eye…A chance to rest my head on a pillow for a few hours, before I hoisted my weary body on the 7am flight to Perth.

Rest did not come, I lay down at 11.30pm and awoke at 2.30am…I remained awake for the remainder of Saturday…And it cost me dearly….I caught a 6am cab, then a 7am flight, arriving into Perth at 9am ( yes, I gained 3 hours)

I then wondered aimlessly around a Ferry Wharf for 4 hours….boarded the 2pm service to Rottnest…. On arrival at  3.30pm, I promptly caught the shuttle bus in the wrong direction of my accommodation….Realising this mistake, I boarded the return shuttle, and arrived safe and sound at Geordie Bay Guest House.

And despite the mere 3 hours of rest that separated Friday from Saturday…one thing became unmistakably clear as I set foot onto the island that would be my home for the next 3 days.. I was in Paradise…and from that moment on….nothing else mattered.

To be continued….

CUWAM- Mini break in Melbourne

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I love Melbourne, the wonderful Victorian Capital…I love the place so much that it prevented my from my usual Monday blog….apologies.

I was in St Kilda yesterday, indulging in my second coffee of the day at Galleon Cafe on Carlisle street, when I spotted an internet cafe. Ahhh, I thought, I could go on inside and write about the week that was…Another sip of coffee, another thought….No, the sun was out and I was in St Kilda…the day was to be enjoyed, I could write any old time…So I took myself to the beach, lay day on a bench, and as I soaked up some rays I thought about writing…..

Melbourne, you NEVER dissapoint…..Sydney, on the other hand, has over the last two weeks!! Summer, where are you? The sky has been a permanent shade of gray since the 1st of December, Summer you have abandoned me!!

A  soggy week in Sydney, the usual gym sessions in King Cross failing to inspire, my mood, like to weather, was gray…And when you aren’t feeling on top of your game, Kings Cross is not the place to be….The usual kick I get from being immersed in Sydney’s underbelly could not be rallied, the Cross felt ugly, dirty and depressing….I saw sadness everywhere, the homeless, the drug addicted…

Lunch date with the parental in Newtown did lift my spirits somewhat. We ate lunch mid-week at Berkelouw Bookstore and Cafe, Newtown. It was the first time in 5 years that my parents had dared to venture on public transport to my place of work. My Dad, looking like an intrepid traveller, complete with backpack and water bottle, my Mum, always side stepping to admire the everyday art in shop windows and buildings…Happy to be out and about, soaking up life Sydney style. Heres to more lunches!!

A Thursday movie session, leaving work 15 minutes early to catch the 5pm time slot at Hoyts Broadway…the film, ‘ Puss in Boots’…A film I hoped with be the ray of sunshine my week needed…It would be  wonderful, amusing, entertaining on many levels.. Alas, I left the cinema disspointed…for it was none of those things!! Antonio Banderas aka Puss failed to ignite the screen, and even a Spanish inspired dance off with love interest, Kitty Soft Paws aka Salma Hayek…left the audience feeling flat….There was no feline love for Mr Boots…Oh well, onwards and upwards….

Friday and my mood was starting to lift….yes there was a day of office administration, but the evening, the evening  was all about celebrating….a work  Christmas Party, followed by drinks and Tapas in Glebe..Fun times for all, sore heads all round!!

Friday Night celebrations  turned into Saturday early morning hilarity…a cab ride home and lights out at 1am…..Only to awake some 5 hours later to my mobile phone alarm….Guaranteed headache!! An early morning flight to Melbourne, pre arranged some months earlier, now seemed like a very, very, very bad idea….And flying Tiger airlines, the airline that had grounded my mid holiday back in July, seemed just as dubious!!

But despite my lack of enthusiasm for weekend away, I arrived at Sydney airport by bus, Melbourne airport by plane ( Tiger was GREAT!!) and Melbourne city by bus. I then headed on foot to my hotel on King Street and slept the afternoon away….I awoke at 5pm, and feeling somewhat more in the land of the living, started my day afresh!!

On foot I walked to Lygon Street, Carlton…I ate at University Cafe, a bowl of spaghetti, some fresh bread, tiramisu from Brunetti’s…and then back on foot to my hotel…8pm and bed was calling…it had been a hard day of enjoyment, all 3 hours of it!!

Sunday I went to Collingwood Children’s Farm, caught up with my cousin Andrew and his divine daughter, Benjamine Rose…what a sweet heart!! Over coffee, passionfruit yo-yo biscuits and hot cross buns, we caught up…a breif stroll  around the farm grounds, saying a friendly hello to Goats, Cows and the very friendly Children’s Farm cat…A pit stop at my cousins home, conversation, chocolate and more coffee with Emma, Andrew’s wife, and then back to the streets, solo…..exploring Fitzroy, the Lost and Found Markets, Brunswick and Gertrude street, a snack from Colombian cafe, Sonido….Yum, and then more market madness, in Rose Street…

Dinner with Jen, my travelling companion circa 2001 and a change to meet her new four legged friend, Lambert, the wonder dog!! Food and Jen are always  inspiring…Jen knows the hot spots and Sunday dinner was hot…the Wesley Anne in Northcote…another stunner, thanks Jen! Beers, good conversation and meal, pork sausages, mash, brocolli….food coma soon followed by tram ride

Monday, back on tram to Northcote, to sample breakfast at the much talked about ‘ Penny Farthing’…breakfast, balsamic vinegar mushrooms, avocado and sour dow toast, coffee…Perfect start to my Monday, a day normally set aside for office madness, data entry, emailing and the like…But NOT today!!

Tram ride to St Kilda, more coffee sipping, window shopping and sun baking….Tram ride back to the city, embracing the Christmas cheer, looking briefly in the direction of the Myer Christmas Windows, walking in and quickly out of large department store, a late lunch at Mc Donalds ( I am on Holidays…don’t judge me!!) and then in a heart beat…well two bus rides, one plane flight and a bit of light walking…and I am home…in Sydney…and all is gray, cold and miserable…and I want to be back in Melbourne, lost in a laneway, staring at street art, back where the sun shone ( or at least appeared on a daily basis)…But Sydney, you are my home, and I am back giving you a second chance, whatever it takes, a third, a forth…please just let summer know that we miss her!!

Food lovers guide to eating out in Melbourne

The Galleon Cafe, St Kilda

Sonido, Gertrude Street

Collingwood Children’s Farm

Wesley Anne, Northcote

Penny Farthing Cafe, Northcote

CUWAM- Treachery Camp, Seal Rock…the solo weekend road trip

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I have just returned from my first ever solo beach weekend road trip….I headed north on Friday morning, bound for Treachery Camp, Seal Rock….some 240 kms north of Sydney…It must be told that this road trip was never intended to be completed by me and me alone…This trip was booked some 9 months ago, and the friends that were to accompany me are in the family way…baby number 2 is to be born any day….

Little effort on my part was put into the recruiting replacement friends….Having returned from my own whirl wind overseas adventure a mere 5 weeks earlier, and on weighing up the craziness that awaited my return…the birth of numerous babies, the engagements, the birthdays, the catch ups, the reunions…a weekend removed from my social circle sounded like pure bliss…a weekend retreat for one…

If Australia is home, and you are fortunate enough to live close to the coastline, there can be no better way to spend a weekend, than by the seaside…This is a concept I am lucky enough to have grown up with, my childhood home was Austinmer, on the NSW South Coast, a sleepy town, were the only thing to do 365 of any year was based around the sea….you swam, sun-baked, surfed, talked and gossiped about the all-encompassing ocean that governed daily life in ‘Austi’….

Treachery Camp, Seal Rock, my home away from home, a place I have been returning to for the past three years, it draws me back time and time again with it natural beauty, native flora and fauna, turquoise water and white sandy beach.

The drive out of Sydney was pleasant…I cruised over the Sydney Harbor Bridge, listening to my road trip music of choice ‘ Washington: I believe you liar’…borrowed from the Randwick Library especially for the occasion. The music rolled on and on, high rotation from song 1 to 12, and then again…Washington’s sweet summer melody had me singing along…and  before I know it I was in Buladelah, stocking up on weekend supplies and indulging in a late lunch: a sausage roll and sauce and cream bun ( complete with MOCK cream and jam)

A surprise catch up with former work colleague Daryl, on the way to Seal Rock with his family… a blast from the past…A Buladelah highlight…Both Daryl and his family, I suspect, like me, are happiest when by the sea….

Arriving late afternoon Friday, I set up camp in a self contained surfside cabin for one. Surrounded either side by young families, I began to question my ability to survive on my first ever solo beach weekend….Not to worry….By Saturday night, though I remained inside my cabin, I was surrounded either side by family action, children performed a Saturday night concert from my veranda…dancing and a rendition of the classic ‘ Twinkle Twinkle Little star’ complete with dancing girls….solitude I miss you!!

Treachery Camp, I love you….made even slight more appealing by the ‘ Tim’s at Treach’ , a small seaside coffee van, specializing in coffee’s, lovingly made one at a time, bacon and egg rolls and home-made scones and date loaf….Never did I expect to have been served a cappuccino in bush land, and some may say it is not necessary …but lovely all the same, I definitely enjoyed it….Thanks Tim

The weekend was beach action and nothing more….I lounged about surfside all day Saturday, rotating rotisserie style ( I have the sun burn to prove it), book in hand, box of chicken crimpy biscuits by my side, water, my beach umbrella….bliss…Ocean swims, an afternoon drive to Sugarloaf Lighthouse, followed by more swimming at Boat beach, returning to Treachery late afternoon, to read the Saturday papers and drink red wine.

Sunday morning came around too soon….An early morning swim, in water that was bordering on icy ( but I made myself go in….for come Monday, I would be desk bound and this memory would be all I would have to sustain me!!) And then it was time to go….but not before enquiring about a booking for November 2012!!

And back to my summer soundtrack, Washington hit the airwaves, and I headed home….stopping via Newcastle for a bit of window shopping along Darby Street….too cool!…and a lunch break at…Mc Donalds….an outing I am ashamed to admit too…..It was a surreal experience….For I realized on entering this hamburger haven, that the last McDonalds I had spent time in was in Brooklyn, NYC…and Newcastle Macca’s felt no different…The were children everywhere….filling up on additives, running amuck,  as worn out parents waited for the sugar high to subside…..a melting pot of society all eager to snack on a quarter pounder or three….

Sydney, the eastern suburbs, with the smell of sea salt in the air I returned home …and the crash back to earth after a weekend by the ocean was softened by this reality…Flora was happy to see me, tufts of her winter coat scattered around the apartment, although a few high-pitched meows seemed to suggest a slight disdain for being abandoned over the weekend ( but she had a very lovely male cat sitter)…

And it all seems but a dream….and as I sit at my desk, listening to youtube as I enter student exchange applications, the hum drum of office life, the sweet tunes of singer Washington able to take me back to a place where the sun shone, the water sparkled and all was good…..

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!!

CUWAM….The Recovery Process

This song comes to mind as I attempt to rebuild my shattered sense of self, the person I was before I embarked on that ‘ joy flight’ to Queensland

The song assisting the recovery process

Monday morning was brutal, I awoke at 5.30am, had a shower in the disabled bathroom, dressed, gathered by belongings, my Toblerone and toothbrush and headed on foot to the Gold Coast Airport. Images of the Australian classic ‘ The Castle’ sprang to mind as I had booked my accommodation based on proximity to the airport….my hostel bed was ever so close to a run way….and that was just the way I liked it ‘ Ah, the serenity’

An early morning flight is a perfect way to start to working week, but this morning was made just that little bit more special by the acquisition of a blue head scarf from a $2.00 Shop at Central Station.

Armed with a coffee and a bagel, and the blue head scarf strategically attached to my forehead to hide my slow onset head injury ,I entered the office….ah, data entry….I do love thee….

The day was a blur, the only enjoyment coming from complimentary sandwiches, cake and water from a University function that has been over catered….

I stayed back at work to complete the immense task of recalling the weekend that was Toowoomba, it took me a whole hour to gather my thoughts, and photo collection…My head injury affecting my ability to recollect and collate my memories….or was it that I had repressed most of them??….I guess I will work this out later in a therapy session or two!!

A necessary shopping trip to  World Square on the way home, and arriving at my front door to the wails of little Flora, my angel, ever so eager to welcome me home.

Flora, to it seems, had a hard couple of days…An injured paw and bellie sores were presented to me whilst Flora dined on an entire pouch of Whikas Beef mince…My little angel was injured, and I believe it was a sympathy injury…She just wanted to me like me….

And to bed, where I struggled to stay awake through the final episodes of the comedy ‘ Come Fly with Me’, an airport environment I understood only to well my morning on the Gold Coast…..

And finally to sleep…and the recovery process could begin

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