29 July 2007

A tale about Fairies and the Bizzy Buzzy Bee...or is it?

"You don't want to be caught out by the intense grilling of a 3 year old....Barnaby looked like he was missing his zimmer frame"

There I was at home on a Saturday morning with some time to myself. I said to myself "self, let's watch a dvd with my daughters". Naturally my self agreed! The week prior the family had visited the Sydney Coffee and Aroma festival at the Rocks. This is a festival where you can sample many great coffees and teas as well as tantalising your senses with something exotic like chai or organically grown chocolate. Naturally we sampled some of the goods on offer, and our daughters really loved the babycinos.

Whilst there we noticed that the Sydney ABC radio station was broadcasting. Before I knew it my wife and I were being interviewed live on air! The interview was short and sweet and listeners to the radio would have gleaned that I am the coffee drinker and my wife is the tea (or chai) drinker. My wife, it has to be said, makes a mean home grown chai.

Anyway, the presenter gave our daughters a DVD from a television show called the "Fairies". It's aimed at the toddler end of the market and is Australian made. We were all surprised and happy, as the rain came down, that the 'gals' were given this DVD.

Now I must confess, that I know nothing, zilch, nada about the Fairies except what is written on the DVD case. However, I am an expert on most things "Fifi and the Flowertots" or "Dora the Explorer", courtesy of my daughters. As a parent its like having an initiation test from your 3 & 4 year old when they start asking you questions like "name all the characters in Fifi". Frantically, you get the urge to scamper to the computer and visit the relevant website and try and remember all the characters off by heart! You just don't want to be caught out by the intense grilling of a 3 year old. Trust me!!

Back to the Fairies. We sat down to watch the DVD and the gals were glued to the screen. While they were having a good time my wife and I decided to drink our home made chai and watch the show.

The show started and the two main characters were called Harmony and Rhapsody. They live in Fairyland and do all things that Fairies do, I suppose. Averaged sized Harmony has blonde hair and is slightly older that the slim and brunette Rhapsody. They sing songs and have great adventures with their friends and 'real children' who believe in fairies.

One of their friends is a colourful character called Barnaby the Bizzy Buzzy Bee. When Barnaby the Bizzy etc etc came into view my wife and I nearly choked on our chai! In most children's shows the actors are normally fairly young and that is, in part, their attraction to their audience. However, poor old Barnaby looked like he was missing his zimmer frame! He came into Fairyland waving his arms as if to fly. In truth, I would have given more chance to there being Martians on Mars than seeing Barners fly!

My first thought was that the actor playing Barnaby etc etc, must have been on the club and RSL scene way too long! I had visions of him having done stand up comedy at some dingy smoky club in front of a crowd of 10 punters and a barmaid. Hopefully my vision was incorrect.

During the show I really thought he was going to have a cardiac arrest at anytime! It got even better, or worse as the case may be, when one of the episodes on the DVD related to Barnaby the etc etc having a birthday. My first thought was it must be his 96th birthday, or maybe he was going to receive a telegram from 'Her Majesty' for cracking the ton! Sadly, his age was not revealed. Though he gallantly laboured on through the story.

Barners did seem out of place alongside Harmony and Rhapsody but as for our daughters they didn't seem to notice. Although he looked out of place, when surrounded by the Fairies, he was at least being entertaining.

Next time I'll put the Dora or Fifi DVD on......

nb: subconcious thanks to Skip Ross.

22 July 2007

On the Road to Nowhere?

"I was experiencing symptoms of Groudhog Day....of course I am going to Kellyville"

Sydney truly is a fantastic city. It's fairly easy to travel around as it has a large transport network. Also, it has one of the most beautiful harbours and, of course, it has the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. I always say that if you want to get a great view of the city and take in its beauty then catch a ferry to Manly. Especially on a lovely sunny day.

I should also mention that the Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney foreshore are absolutely fantastic places too. Certainly a great vantage spot for the New Years Eve fireworks and for using it as a lunchtime running course (as I do).

But I digress. What I really want to write about is my experiences with buses. I should state that generally I don't have a great time with buses. You could say that, ala 'The Secret', my negativity towards buses is being answered in full by the universe! Or you could just say that I have been plain unlucky. Anyway, the following is a true example of a recent bus trip that I undertook.

I needed to catch a bus one cold, wet Friday night to go to Kellyville which is situated in the north west of Sydney. Fortunately the bus stop was right outside my place of work! I checked the bus timetable and noted that I needed to catch a 610X to my destination.

About 5 minutes before it was due, I joined the queue of workers wanting to get home. A couple of minutes after its expected time the 610X duly arrived. I got on it and asked for a single ticket to Kellyville. The driver just sniffed and said “mate, youse want the 617 in front of this bus” I advised him that the timetable said I needed this bus. The driver just shrugged his shoulders. So I alighted and run to the bus in front. By the time I got there the 617 had pulled away.

I then rang my wife and asked her to check the internet. I was worried that I had taken the wrong timetable details. My wife rang back and said that I had the correct times. As I was on the phone another 610X turned up. Again I got on it and, again, I was told that it was the wrong bus! I was experiencing symptoms of the movie Groundhog Day as the bus driver, a lady this time, said “youse want the 614 in front of this bus to get to Kellyville”

So I got off the bus only to see the 614 pull away! By now I was frantic. So I decided I would go home and drive to Kellyville (in hindsight a better option) as I was now 20 minutes behind schedule. As I was walking to the railway station to go home, I noticed another 610X pulling up at the bus stop. So I ran across the road got onto the bus and said, while getting my breath back, “mate, are you going to Kellyville?” There was a long pause and the driver said “yeah”. I said “sorry? Can you repeat that” and he said “of course I am going to Kellyville”.

So I purchased a ticket and caught the bus to Kellyville. Despite it being 25 minutes late it reached my destination 15 minutes earlier. Work that one out!!! For the record the night was great and my memory of my horror bus trip was forgotten.

18 July 2007

First impressions

When I was thinking about a topic for my first ‘proper’ blog post I had a number of subjects that I wanted to write about. However, I was inspired by a comment from a work colleague, Jia, to write about the following subject. In some respects it makes obvious sense to do it as it follows on quite nicely from my first post.

So here it is – the subject matter in question relates to my initial impressions of Australia. Or to be more accurate my observations of what I first saw in Sydney.

I arrived in Australia in the late 80’s. Just to recap, for anyone who doesn’t remember this period, this was a very interesting decade. Economically, the 80’s were a boom time for the western world. Australia was no different and the Hawke/Keating combo (do you want fries with this!) were putting their ‘visionary’ policies into action. Permed hair for both sexes was quite common. Especially the rock stars as ‘poodle rock’ took off – think David Coverdale, Jon Bon Jovi. Power walking while listening to a Sony walkman was the latest corporate executive fad as was ridiculous shoulder pads for business women. Mullets were still ruling the roost in the sports world as witnessed by a number of sport stars (Warwick Capper, Ian Botham, David Boon, Glenn Hoddle). On television Dynasty was number one, and Kylie and Jason were just actors in a soapie (Neighbours). In short, times were good for all. We had money to burn, places to see, things to do. Oh, and the sun was shining!

So it was into this environment that I arrived in Australia.

Coming into land into Sydney can lead to one of the most spectacular sights you can have. The day I arrived it was a clear and sunny day. Fortunately the plane flew over the city from the north. So I caught my first glimpse of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Sometimes planes fly up from the south and land at the airport by flying over Botany Bay. When this happens you do not get any real spectacular views.

Prior to seeing the city the first impression I got, from my vantage point high up in the sky, was the number of swimming pools. I had never seen anything like it! Virtually every house had an outdoor swimming pool. This was so unlike England – where the thought of having an outdoor pool is grounds for insanity! There were literally hundreds of pools. No wonder Australia won lots of swimming medals at the Olympics.

Another thing that I noticed, but was surprised to see was that the land was very green. For some reason every British person thinks that the whole of Australia is dry and there is a lack of greenery. Obviously this was not true.

Once on terra firma the view was totally different. For the first few days I stayed in the suburbs. Walking around some of them I was amazed at the number of chemists that each suburb had. There were sometimes five chemists in the main shopping area of a suburb. My mind started thinking “are all Aussies hypochondriacs?” As I walked by them I noticed that they were all doing a roaring trade. Maybe my thought was correct….

Also, and much more serious to the average Brit, was the fact that there was only one pub per suburb and normally a place called an RSL (Returned Services League) club. Later on I found out what an RSL was and why they were so popular. My mind was aghast. How can suburbs only have a maximum of two drinking establishments? In Britain there is literally a pub on every street corner. This struck me as weird as Aussies have a reputation for liking the ‘amber nectar’. Was this really an urban myth, especially given the lack of drinking holes?

Even stranger was the number of hairdressers in each suburb. My mind was now racing. How many hairdressing salons does it take to cut a mullet? This was strange indeed. Again, every salon was doing a roaring trade. Why was this so? Another question I never really got an answer for.
So there it is. My first observations of being in Australia, and in particular Sydney. Obviously it didn’t affect me too much as I have been in Oz for just on 20 years and even took out citizenship (a.k.a. lobotomy to my Pommy friends). Better still, I re-discovered my liking for milk shakes at places called ‘Milk Bars’. But that is best left until another time.

14 July 2007

Let me introduce myself...

"I do cook a mean pizza on the bbq!...I have never worked in a cafe"

As this is the first posting for my blog I thought it was a good idea to give you, the inquisitive reader, some details about myself.

I suppose I have wanted to do a blog for a while now but have never gotten around to it. However, I have been inspired by a co-worker (the inimitable David Castor) who has a fantastic blog. Check it out at: http://ministryofincompetence.blogspot.com/. So I have decided that the time is now ripe for my almighty or not so almighty blog!

As promised earlier here are some facts about me that only family and some friends would know:

  1. I was born in England in a lovely (?) town called Chatham in the county of Kent.
  2. Apparently the year I was born was also the coldest winter on record.
  3. I am left handed but use my right hand when using a computer mouse, scissors, golf clubs, cricket bats etc. So I suppose I am slightly ambidextrous.
  4. I have one sister who is 3 years older than me.
  5. I came to Australia neary two decades ago.
  6. I am married to my wife (hehehe) who is an Aussie of Indian (Punjabi) background.
  7. We have two lovely daughters who will soon turn 5 & 4 respectively.
  8. I love football (aka Soccer) and have supported Manchester City since I was a young boy.
  9. I love cricket too. Especially Kent, England and Australia (its good to back a winning team!).
  10. Music is a great passion of mine. Though I like a myriad of different styles I am a rocker first and foremost.
  11. I work in finance - currently as a systems analyst working on a management system.
  12. My best friend knocked out my front top tooth while we were playing cricket many years ago. Yes, we are still great friends.
  13. I once walked from London to Brighton (53 miles, 81 kms) for charity aged 17.
  14. I acted the part of a uni student in a mini movie called "something rather special" when I was 18.
  15. I like reading any type of book. However, growing up I was a huge horror fan (James Herbert, Stephen King).
  16. I am lucky to have a great wife who is an excellent cook. Despite this, and my lazy tendencies, I do cook a mean pizza on the bbq!
  17. I did a barista course and have a commercial certificate. However, I have never worked in a cafe making coffee!
  18. I love crosswords and am just beginning to get into su-doku.
  19. I consider myself a trivia buff and love all useless facts.
  20. I have watched more Bollywood movies than Hollywood lately.

Well there it is twenty pieces of valuable information about myself! Phew, now I can move on.

My intention is to write blogs about any subject that is on my mind at that time. Already, I have a couple of topics in mind so keep visiting my site for further updates.