The Man in Black

Thinking back to all the wonderful holidays I have had – and a good number of them have been in Bali. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival twice as a volunteer. And each time I’ve been swept up by the magic of the written and spoken word, the humidity, the heat, the hospitality that is uniquely Bali…

A post from 2012 worth revisiting…..

Catch Up With A Mate

I sat in the audience at Indus Restaurant, Ubud, Bali….it was hot, humid and their was a general buzz of excitement in the air.

A crowd of 200 people had gathered for ‘ An Evening with Nick Cave’, part of the 2012 Ubud Writers and Reader’s Festival line up.

I felt a  fraud, an impostor….I was neither fan nor friend of Mr Cave….I had never understood the allure, listened to an albums, read a book or followed him in the press.

Yet I was in the audience, sat amongst die-hard groupies, being who worshipped at the altar of St Nick….middle age women blushing at the very thought of an evening in HIS presence, grown men proudly wearing ‘ Pussy Riot ‘ t-shirts.

My general assessment of the situation was that the entire audience was on heat…for Mr Nick Cave.

And then there was me…nevously I wrote in my…

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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’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo City

20160504-085200.jpgI have been swept across city streets by the sheer momentum of people power.
Bright city lights have blinded my gaze, stopped me dead in my tracks,transfixed.

Fascinated by plastic window displays, I have been lured into food halls & restaurants.

Tastes, smells, textures foreign to my western palate have delighted- each mouthful savoured.

The natural beauty within the city has welcomed me with open arms when I needed respite.

The lush green parks, clear ponds and the countries ‘celebrity tree’ ,the cherry blossoms restoring my energy levels so as to navigate with ease outside the manicured gardens.

I have been reacquainted with old friends and reminisced over wine & coffee, laughed, cried and created new memories.

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I have toured to new places, via train, monorails, and on foot, meeting new people and many cats along the way.

Tokyo, you have exhausted and overwhelmed, amazed and inspired me.
The frenetic pace to which you operate has me puzzled- that I could survive you is something I am grappling with.

Each time I craved solitude you just up’ed the volume, increased the numbers.
You constantly surprised me and for that I am thankful.

I came unprepared, unaware & with no expectations.
I leave with a head full of possibilities and grand ideas about our next encounter.

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B is for Brazil

Smiles all round- Brazil Brazil Brazil

Smiles all round- Brazil Brazil Brazil

It is strange in life, when you become fixated on an idea; something becomes a driving force, a goal, dream, a passion…

Ask me 6 months ago about my interest in the country Brazil, the idea of travelling there, its people, its cuisine…I would have simply shrugged my shoulders and rattled of a list of other places round the world I longed to visit. I could have given you diverse reasons for my desire to travel to Spain, Italy, the ever familiar UK or NYC.

But Brazil…no….It has long been a place I wanted to travel too….one day…someday….When exactly? Not fussed. Who with? Not sure. Why? No particular reason.

Ask me now about my interest in Brazil and the idea of travelling there…..And you would struggle to shut me up.

Yes, it is strange how the passing of time, the willingness to be open to opportunity and challenge…creates a space for one to explore, ponder and dream.

Six months ago, I started a job at Sydney University as an Internship coordinator, placing International student’s in a broad range of workplace internships throughout the city. I worked with students from the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden and Norway….Brazil…not so much.

Fast forward a couple of months, and due to a Brazilian government scholarship fund, which enables Brazilian students to study abroad all expenses paid…. I have placed in excess of 190 Brazilian students in research internship placements…and the program isn’t showing signs of slowing down in 2014.

Through this student group, the interaction with academics and peers…my love of all things Brazil has grown…..I might not speak Portuguese but I have can speak Portuguese English VERY well….

‘I have a doubt’ means ‘ I have a question’
‘Worked’ is pronounced ‘ Work – ed’ eg I work-ed at the bank in my home country.

And so on….

Yes, I am no longer content to sit in an office block in Sydney; working with this student group without having visited their home country…I need to work out for myself why their smiles are so bright, their laughter infectious and their love of friends, family and home country so evident……

May the day soon dawn when I turn the computer off, put down the data entry….put on my Havaiana flip flops…and board the next plane to Rio….

Click on the link below to read about the Brazilian student group at the University of Sydney, the student group that make me smile xx
B is for Brazil

Letter to London

Dear London

Cheers London- Last drinks at the world number one bar- Artesian, Langham Hotel

Cheers London- Last drinks at the world number one bar- Artesian, Langham Hotel

How are you?

I am well, tired but well, sitting on a park bench in my favourite park, St James’, writing this letter to you.
I am leaving town…..Have been in your company for the past week. It has been fun, and I just wanted to say thank you.
Despite the weather being what can only be described as average, you really have put your party clothes for me.
I have seen contemporary dance, a West End musical and theatre production, extraordinary exhibitions and street art. I have eaten like a king at Borough Markets, numerous restaurants and cafes and been treated like a princess by the friends I have been staying with in Canary Wharf.
The tube might smell and be over crowded, yet it has seen me through a week long navigation period without a hitch….I have become quiet a fan of Westferry DLR service…always on time!
I respect your attempts to get more of your city dwellers on bicycles…it is something Sydney, my home town is trying to do….but you do it better.
And I have fallen in love numerous times whilst drinking coffee in your hipster hangouts in Shoreditch and Spitalfields….London, you take people watching to a new level!
Lastly I want to thank you for taking such good care of my fellow friends who call you home. Catching up with each and everyone of them in numerous locations across the city has made this week stay all the more special.
So thank you London….it’s been fun.
Till next time
Your fan
Kate Boyle
Xxx

Lohuec, Brittany, France

Andrew doing a birthday dance atop a mountain, Ile de Batz.

Andrew doing a birthday dance atop a mountain, Ile de Batz.

I sit in a cafe in Spitalfields, East London, ‘ The Breakfast Club’ – super cool….Ears pricked and at the ready for eavesdropping …just overheard this beauty ” Charles, my career has been a series of disappointments”

I have consumed a meal I did not need, let alone want….but it was sooo good. This very behaviour typifies my holiday….

In a haze of smoke from breakfast bacon, mixed with the smell of sugar syrup from pancake stacks, my mind floats back to yesterday when I was in Brittany, France….in a small town called Lohuec.

Why was I there? How did an Aussie girl end of holidaying in a small French village, population 25 / average age 72 years.

Luck, chance and a good man named Andrew.

5 days of indulgence for which I still suffer…breakfast, lunch and dinners that consisted of fine pastries, cheese and wine

Lazy days spent riding bikes on lush green islands….afternoon strolls along cobble stone streets, crepe in hand, wine in flask.

Home cooked French meals, an in-house French Film Festival and a birthday celebration…Life begins at 35!! Crack open the champagne! cheese anyone?Did someone say birthday cake?!

I may have left my heart in Paris, but I am certain to forever carry an extra kilo or three from my time in Lohuec!

Thank you for the memories Mr G…they are priceless, precious and I have the kilos to prove it xx

Jardin Luxembourg and the cautionary tale of the Quiche Lorraine

This morning, day two of my Paris adventure, I went for a jog in Jardin Luxembourg.
I jogged for 20mins, once round the park, before the lure of pastries got the better of me. I set off on foot in the direction of a pastry shop I have frequented numerous times- Gerard Moulet. Seriously over priced but seriously good.

I brought 3 items, a quiche Lorraine, plum tart and a mini brioche.

I then walked as fast as I could back to Jardin Luxembourg where I would devour this feast.

The quiche had been warmed, so it was first on the eating agenda. On first mouth full, it was love at first bite.Salty bacon, an egg and cream mixture which was light and fluffy and pastry that oozed buttery,flaky goodness.

I could not get enough if it!! In a matter of seconds it was consumed….I almost cried as I swallowed the last mouth full.

Then without thinking….I moved onto the brioche…

And that is when disappointment set I and a life lesson was learnt.

Savour each moment, each and every moment…..for although the brioche was good, as was the plum tart that followed it was not the quiche….it was never going to be…that moment was over, I had been propelled forward to the land of sweet not savoury.

And so the cautionary tale of the Quiche Lorraine was leant in the Jardin Luxembourg….a lesson know no doubt I will come across time and time again in my life, savour the moment, be present to experience the here and now.

As the tried and true saying goes, often we don’t realise how good we have got it till its gone.

A quiche Lorraine taught me so much today….you just never know!!! Ah Paris!!

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Pamplona, Spain ( minus photos)

Some may say that solo travel is not that glamorous.

I have spent some time questioning this  whilst I propel myself around the globe at a frenetic pace….battling bouts of loneliness and questioning my place in the universe.

Only time will tell what the purpose of this latest adventure truly is.

Till then I have to get on with the adventure!

I am in Pamplona, Spain at present, in the company of my friend Iosu and his girlfriend. It has been 11 years since Iosu and my paths have crossed. A random email was sent to friends I had lost contact when the 10 year anniversary of my life affirming overseas venture as a young 22-year-old came around.

This email yielded numerous responses,,,,and one about 10 months later from Iosu…, and we have been in touch via facebook and email since.

And here I am, sitting in his lounge room, recovering from a big street party that took place last night in the city centre. Pamplona and it’s people know how to party. Ageing however, makes all nighters near impossible and I fear my companions and me are suffering today.

But it could not be any other way!!

When in Spain you can siesta at anytime…today 5pm is siesta time, and then when we all wake up…..I think it will be the perfect time for another wine!!

Lisbon ( minus photos)

Dearest Readers

I am in Lisbon, Portugal. I am using my new iPad mini to write down my recollections of the last 72 hours. On this new device I have yet to master the art of uploading photos… Hence the title of this post.

I left Sydney on Monday, travelled some 32 hours plus to arrive in the Portuguese capital Lisbon in a haze of sleep deprivation. On the flight I had sat next to a woman for my home town of Wollongong, and having conversations whilst in transit in Zurich Switzerland about Franklins Thirroul  & Austinmer Beach was not something I ever imagined possible!!

But fast forward to the here and now…I am back in my room in the old town, Alfama. It is a lovely part of the city, hilly , with narrow cobble stoned streets and stunning views of the ocean.

The last 48 hours have been spent exploring, without a tour guide or book. Yes, this has been some what challenging and naive of me, and I have often walked in the direction of people I assume are tourist based on assumption alone. So far this approach has paid off, I have stumbled across parks, monuments and vantage points by chance, and have always enjoyed such finds due to the close proximity they have all been to patisseries . Portuguese tarts have become a staple dietary requirement!!

Tomorrow I board a night train to Spain, to catch up with a friend I have not seen for 11 years – true catch up with a mate behaviour!! But not before I go for another run along the Lisbon Harbour, eat some more cake and get lost in another cobble stone side street.

Five Sentence Fiction : Orange

I have just returned from 10 days in Ubud Bali…a magical time, a time that I am yet to fully process…it was EVERYTHING all at once…

Whilst I was on holidays, Five Sentence Fiction celebrated its first birthday…Catch up with a Mate says Happy Birthday to You!

As a gift, FSF, encouraged us to choose a prompt of our choice, from one of the 52 fantastic prompts that had been used during the blogs first year.

I chose ORANGE…Here is my story:

The girl looked down at her feet, holiday feet, happy feet.

Each toe was painted bright orange, it was like walking around with 10 mini suns glistening and radiating beneath her.

She had asked about town, the meaning or symbolism behind the colour orange, but no one seemed sure.

She had been temped to google to colours meaning….but knew that the answer would be irrelevant.

To the girl, orange was the colour of happiness…she had 10 brightly coloured toes to confirm it.

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