31 December 2009
It has taken 2.5 years to reach this figure and I never thought it would ever pass 1,000! So a big thank you to all my readers and occasional visitors. I will increase my blog output in the New Year. For the past 12 months I have been concentrating on a few other things (and not just watching cricket on the television!).
So please stay tuned for the next exciting instalments which will be coming soon to an Internet browser near you.
In the meantime, have a great New Year's eve and take care.
27 November 2009
Recently I wrote my 100th blog and I felt a quiet achievement in breaking my ton. Now I have never set out to write a large number of blogs but ones that I truly wanted to write. As the saying goes 'quality not quantity'. Or maybe not in my case!
Anyway, I have been wracking my brain to come up with ideas to commemorate this glorious achievement and I thought there was only one way to do it. No, I am not going to dress up in drag and sing karaoke in a tight fitting dress at a sleazy bar in Sydney, but will reveal some more facts and meaningless trivia about myself. Mind you, a number of women have commented on my legs so maybe after I finish this blog drag might have been the better option!
So here goes. A list of things you never knew about me.....unless you know me. Then again, you might not know some of the following anyway!
1. I am left handed. As they say all creative people are of this ilk. Not sure what went wrong in my case!
2. I am a lousy singer. In fact I never made the school choir much to the relief of the teachers and parents. However, I can screech like a bad singer on occasions.
3. I once scored a goal at soccer (football) direct from a corner. This was before one Mr Beckham appeared on the world stage. Luckily for him I never got the call to train with England.....
4. One of my all time fave songs is "White Punks On Dope" by the Tubes. Without a doubt Punk's answer to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Listen and you will understand.
5. My profile picture is of a rubbish bin that was sealed up for the APEC meeting in Sydney in 2007. I loved the picture so much that I adopted it as my profile pic. Yes, I did take the photo myself.
6. Many light years ago I stole some of the turf from the old Wembley Stadium. I think it was during an Elton John concert, if my mind serves me correct. I planted it in my parents backyard and it lived for about 5 years, before it got dug up for some new plants that my sister wanted.
7. I once told a future Premier of NSW to f*&k off after he accidentally trod on my toes at Paddington Market, Sydney. Whatever happened to Kermit anyway....
8. Virtually every company I have worked for has been taken over by another company, or gone bust. Does anyone want to hire me? I can forward my resume to you on request!
9. I am currently writing my first novel. It is totally different to the type of blogs I write. If you need more info about it then please contact me...especially any publishers!
10. I am of the view that Canberra is as sterile as Milton Keynes in England. The only difference being that Canberra is home to a house of comedians (Parliament) whilst good ol' Milton Keynes has concrete cows. Maybe there is no difference after all!
11. I am a co-owner of Ebbsfleet United Football Club in England. Even though there are another 9,000 owners I do feel privileged to be on a par with Abramovich and co.
12. My fave show of the last few years has to be '24'. Jack Bauer rocks!
So there you go. Some more details about myself. Rest assured that when I get to 200 blogs I wil reveal much much more!
Now where did I put those high heels.....
18 November 2009
November in Sydney can be a strange time of year. Not only is it one step closer to Christmas but it signifies, to us in Down Under Land, that summer is just around the corner. Frankly, I am not sure where this elusive 'corner' is but its somewhere close, methinks. Maybe the number 435 bus goes there. Who knows!
From a meteorological point of view November signifies the end of coolish weather as the onslaught of the summer heat flexes its muscles. Typically the weather can be very up and down (a bit like the stock market, or U2 albums). For example, a couple of days ago the temperature in Sydney hit 38C. It was very hot and sunny. However, yesterday it was only 22C and overcast. So there is a sort of weather heavyweight boxing match going on at present where there will be only one winner - heat!
So what does this mean for the average Sydneysider? I hear you ask. Well in short, one answer comes to mind - smelly armpits.
It is the month where catching a bus or train can be excruciatingly painful. You know the scene. You are on the bus reading the latest edition of 'Trainspotters Weekly' when someone gets on and stands next to you whilst holding onto the overhead strap. All of the sudden your excitement about trainspotting drains from you as your senses get invaded with the smell from Hell!
Trains too have the same issue. You are sitting all alone when someone sits next to you and the smell from them makes you want to vomit! For the next hour or so you are stuck next to an un-sweet smelling person. You leave the train at your stop but the smell remains in your nostrils for the next 10 minutes!!
Going to shopping centres can have the same implications. Fortunately the air con helps take the smells away...much to our gratitude.
So you can see November really is a significant month. Not only for the weather, or the fact that the Melbourne Cup is run, but also for the smells we are all abjected to.
Oh well, only another 4 months until it will start to cool down again.
21 October 2009
Firstly, apologies for not writing many blogs lately. I had my mother and sister visit me from the UK. So for the past few weeks I have been acting as a tour guide, chauffeur, interpreter (?) and helping them to stimulate the Australian economy (with British pounds). Oh yeah, and we had the dust storm of all time!
Anyway, back to the topic of this blog.
I have noticed recently that I suffer from an affliction. It's not contagious, illegal or damaging to your health. It is an affliction, however, that has infected millions of people worldwide. I have thought about seeking professional help with this matter but I feel it is too late to turn it around. After all, it only happens every now and then.
It becomes an issue mainly in car parks and I am sure that most of you reading this are afflicted too. So what is it? Well it is not something that is easily answered in a few words, but best explained in a scenario.
Imagine this. You are driving to the local shopping centre (mall for my North American friends) and you come to the ticket barrier. You push the button, and out spews a small piece of card roughly the size of a credit card. The barrier lifts and you get ready to drive through to the car park. So what do you do with the parking ticket?
If you are like me you put the ticket into your mouth while you are driving around looking for a parking spot. On busy days (read most days) you can be driving around for 10 minutes or more looking for that elusive parking space. As you drive around you pass many cars all with drivers searching for their own piece of exclusive real estate. Every driver you see has been afflicted, like me.
On weekends you can see literally dozens of drivers with tickets in their mouths driving in shopping centre car parks. When you think about it - it certainly looks odd. I would imagine that if aliens arrived from a distant planet and saw this then they would head back to their space craft and return to their planet safe in the knowledge that us humans are 'extremely primitive'.
So next time you are driving to a shopping centre, or even an airport, check out who is driving around with a parking ticket in their mouth.
Do you suffer from the same affliction? Be honest and let me know.
16 September 2009
One of the biggest drawbacks of moving to an apartment from a house is that you are really living in a box which is cocooned by all these other boxes. It always reminds me of a beehive without the honey. Now, don't get me wrong, apartments have a lot going for them. They are economical, efficient, generally warmer than a house (especially in winter) and you don't need to worry about any gardening! (much to my relief).
Recently we moved into an apartment as a stop gap means as we will be moving to another part of Sydney in early 2010. It is a good sized apartment with a nice balcony and a good sized courtyard for our girls to run around, or ride their bikes. I am hoping that my youngest daughter quickly realises where the brakes are on her bike otherwise she is going to be black and blue for a long time to come!
Anyway, the first few days we were there it was really a matter of trying to unpack boxes, get the bedrooms in order and try and work out what was packed in what box. It certainly took a long time to sort it all out. Still there appear to be things missing. No doubt they will turn up before the 2012 Olympics, or the next Britney Spears album!
On our first Friday night of being in the apartment I was relaxing my weary and aching bones and trying to chill out for a while or two when I heard this strange noise. I opened our door and peered outside. There was nothing there. I looked out of the balcony in case an animal was injured. Again there was nothing. Then the sound started again. It was only at this point that I realised what it was.
In our apartment block there are a load of Chinese students who are in Australia to further their education. Generally they are so quiet that they are hardly noticed. This night the Chinese students above us were having a karaoke night. Now the songs were all being sung (nee destroyed) in Mandarin or Cantonese. Naturally not speaking either of these languages I had no idea which language was being sung or, should I say, murdered!
The karaoke continued for an hour or so and it is no exaggeration to say that the singing was dire. In fact it was worse than dire, it was totally bad! No chance of the students above me winning a musical talent show. To say they were out of tune would be akin to saying that rap is a form of music, rather that badly spoken words (yes, I am not a fan of rap music).
After an hour or so silence fell upon the apartment. The students had finished their 'singing'. I breathed a sigh of relief and got ready for bed. Maybe someone, or a resident, had cut the electricity to their apartment. Whatever the reason the silence was truly golden.
Since then, there have been no other outbreaks of karaoke - thankfully!
21 August 2009
Recently we uplifted the family and moved to a new property literally 100 metres away from where we where living. Even though it was such a short distance move it took about 2.5 days to complete! It probably was longer than it should have been as No Worries was intent on leaving some of the packing to the last possible moment. Actually 'last possible moment' is probably a better nickname for her!
So it became a very time consuming and tiring operation moving everything!
Two days after the official move I realised that I hadn't arranged for our mail (all my fan club letters - well, at least I can dream!) to be re-directed to our new address. So I traipsed off to my local Australia Post to arrange for this to happen.
Now to the uninitiated, Australia Post is streets ahead of the Royal Mail. For starters Australia Post makes a healthy profit every year, as well as all of the myriad of services and products that they offer. You can even add a picture of yourself to a stamp if you want to personalise it.
I went in and explained the situation. The shop assistant (and not Postman Pat - aka Kochie to the Aussies) advised me that it would take three business days to redirect the mail. That was okay, I thought, as I could still access my old letter box for those three days.
So after a few days my mail started arriving at our new address. Alas, no fan mail either! Then I decided to check my old letterbox one last time. Now a family had moved into our old abode so I was relying on the letterbox being open which, thankfully, it was. Inside the letter box were letters addressed to myself, No Worries and the gals. The funny thing was on the envelope it actually stated "do not re-direct this letter" and it was from, you guessed it, Australia Post.
The letter stated that it was confirming that I wanted my mail redirected to a new address. Now call me slow, but why would you want to send a letter to my old address at least a week and a half after I have moved? To me it does not make sense. Also, why would you want to send the same letter to all of us individually including our young daughters? Strangely the pet bird didn't get a letter. Mind you, he would have probably just eaten it!!
Even now it puzzles me why you would send a letter to an old address if you have already moved? Maybe Australia Post has a "Department of Silly Ideas" and one of their boffins came up with the idea over a hot cup of cocoa. I can imagine this anorak wearing boffin saying:
"I know, why don't we send a letter to a customers old address after they have left that property? That way we can be doubly sure that they want the mail redirected!"
And before you can say "can I have a 55c stamp please" it is set up as a procedure!
So, my fellow Australians, be very wary if you re-direct your mail. Remember the boffins!!
13 August 2009
There are some things in this world that seem a little unusual or even a tad strange. The Eurovision Song Contest certainly fits into the 'strange' category, as an obvious example of weirdness.
Growing up I read Bram Stoker's famous novel 'Dracula' (well recommended) and heard many stories about vampires and other creatures who did terrible things to us humans in the middle of the night. Naturally these stories were stored into the 'unusual' category of my brain next to the tiny compartment labelled 'intelligence'.
These type of stories were all fictional as there are no such things as vampires in this world. Except in the case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer who killed millions of these demonic pests. I was a regular Buffy watcher purely for the storyline and acting skills...
Anyway, enough digression. I have come to the conclusion that possibly vampires do exist. Now before you ring for the men in white coats to take me away, hear me out. I have been observing my wife (the infamous 'No Worries') and she is showing characteristics that only a (gulp) vampire could show. Here is my dossiered evidence.
When we are in the car at night, whether No Worries is driving or not, she always pulls the sun visor down supposedly to keep out the glare of other car lights. I could understand pulling down the visor if it was a bright sunny day, but not in the middle of the night! She has, on occasions, been known to wear sunglasses whilst driving in the dark. Very strange behaviour indeed.
Secondly, No Worries ofter pulls the blinds closed during the day at home. She says its to keep the place cooler. Now on a hot sunny day I would agree with that. However, when you are in the middle of winter you don't need to keep the sun out. Am I being paranoid or is this a sign of vampirism?
Also, she has started a craving for the occasional glass of red wine. Well I think it is wine. I cannot say that I have verified that this is the case. It is certainly a crimson red colour. Could it be the blood of a recent victim? Having said that I haven't seen our neighbours for a while now. Maybe I should check and see if they are okay.
When No Worries goes out in daytime she often keeps herself covered up. She has said that she gets sunstroke very easy and needs to keep covered. Also, sometimes for cultural reasons she will cover herself. Given her Indian coloured skin I am beginning to think that this may not be the true case. We all know what sunlight does to vampires, don't we!!
So, dear readers, I am now putting cloves of garlic all around our apartment. I will be looking for some holy water and crucifixes in case I am correct and No Worries is a vampire. Better to be safe than sorry. I shall be monitoring the situation closely over the next few days as well as checking for 'fang' marks on my neck!
Now where is my copy of 'Dracula'......
31 July 2009
Unfortunately I have not had time recently to write any blogs. Now before you start crying into your corn flakes I should point out that there are more blogs on the way!!
The reason for the drought of blogs is due to the fact that we have recently moved house. It has taken a lot of packing and now we have to unpack everything (surprise, surprise). The problem is I don't know what is in each box! Luckily the box of blogs has been unpacked, dusted and put on the shelf for future else.
Until then, keep checking back for updates.
19 July 2009
Australia is a truly great country to live in, or indeed visit. It has all the great elements of multiculturalism as well as that true 'ockerness' that can only be found in the rural areas. Indeed, it is possible to be soaking up the rays on a beach in the morning and then going for a late evening ski the same day! However, one factor that affects Australia is its geographical location. Or as our former PM Paul Keating said 'it's the a$%end of the world'. I think that Mr Keating was referring to the geographical location of Australia rather than anything else!
One of the biggest issues with living in the 'Land Down Under' is the fact that a large number, no vast majority of sporting events take place late at night or early in the morning. At the moment I have been watching the Ashes (cricket test series between England and Australia) on television and have found myself struggling to stay up to watch most of the game. As cricket aficionados would know it finishes at 3am.
Recently we have had Wimbledon, the FA Cup final, virtually every Formula 1 grand prix race and the Tour de France being shown late on television due to the time zone factor. No wonder why Australia has the second highest coffee consumption in the world. It's because we are all up late watching sport!!
Then there is the football World Cup and the Olympics to contend with every four years. I recall quite clearly that the last football World Cup had matches broadcast at midnight, 2am or 4am for us geographical outsiders. I remember going to work looking like a zombie while using matchsticks to keep my eyelids open.
There are a couple of rules of thumb to follow if you want to burn the midnight oil and watch sport here in Australia. The first is not to drink to much alcohol as it will make you sleepy. The second is to bite your hand as hard as possible and you will find that you soon wake up! As for the blood seeping down your fingers - well that's another story.
So here's hoping that Australia holds some international sporting events in its own backyard very soon. That way the rest of the world will get an idea of what us long suffering sports fans have to put up with.
30 June 2009
One of the things I do on a regular basis is to check the water level of the dams that supply Sydney with it's drinking water. Now I don't drive out to all the dams with a dip stick and measure it that way, but I do go to the relevant State Government website to see how full our dams are. It's a cheaper and more effective way of getting the information. Also, I would need a large dipstick to effectively measure the water levels of the dams!
I have no idea why I have an infatuation with dam levels. Maybe it was because I used to collect stamps when I was a youngster, and have been known to occasionally sing in the shower. Alternatively it could be that the publicity given to the level of Sydney's water supplies is now more in the news than ever before.
In the past few weeks Sydney has experienced a lot of rain. So much, in fact, that I have started to develop webbed feet! Having stated this I should point out that the last few days have been rain free. But, the weather guru's have promised more rain for later this week (joy, oh joy). Given the volume and number of times that it has rained recently one would assume that the levels of the dams would have increased dramatically. Well think again.
A couple of weeks ago I went to the website to check the dam levels. It had rained a lot and I was sure that there would have been a big increase in the storage levels. However, when I checked the statistics it was showing that the dam levels had decreased! I was so amazed that I nearly dropped my coffee cup! How was this possible? Surely the reading was wrong. I rubbed my eyes (not sure why, but it felt good anyway) and re-checked. The computer still showed that the dam levels had fallen.
I started to think about this. What could have caused the levels to drop. The temperatures had been cool with the onset of winter upon us, so that was not a factor. I then started to think outside of the square to come up with plausible reasons. My first thought was that a giant bird had paused over our main dam (Warragamba Dam for all you anoraks out there) and taken a huge gulp of our water! I quickly dismissed that idea as it was clearly my mind working overtime on unrealistic scenarios.
Then it dawned on me.
A dam is like a bath. When you put in the plug and fill the bath up the water remains in the tub. However, take the plug out and the water disappears. Therefore it was a no-brainer. Someone had taken the plug out of our major dam and the water was slowly draining away! Why you would want to do this is beyond my comprehension but the logic seems to fit. So we have a culprit in Sydney who is responsible for removing the plug from Warragamba Dam hence the water is disappearing.
So I appeal to you eagle-eyed readers out there in the blogosphere. Be on the lookout for a person (or persons) who own a ridiculously large bath style plug. If you see it then please let me know. One last thing. If you do see it then please advise if the plug has a rubber ducky attached to it via a chain. If you can do that for me then I will be very grateful!
15 June 2009
Both No Worries and I are on the local school organising committee where our gals attend. It is a lot of fun but also a lot of organising to do as well. Normally there are about 3 major events in the school year that we have to work on.
One night I came home from work and was advised by No Worries that she had "volunteered" my services to help out the year 6 parents with a fund raising pizza day. Now when I heard this two thoughts entered my head immediately. Firstly, our gals are not in year 6, and secondly, what did she mean by volunteering?
The day in question was one where I had a few things on and I was not sure I could help, let alone wanted to! However, No Worries advised me that she had only suggested that I 'may' be available to help out. I knew that this was code for having said I would definitely be there to help. I reminded No Worries not to volunteer my services without consulting me first. I have come to the conclusion that the ever confusing female psyche has this endearing compulsion to nominate their husbands for virtually anything (except wearing a Koala outfit in the middle of Sydney on a hot summers day).
Fast forward a few day to the pizza fund raising day. During the morning I was in two minds whether I should go or not. After all I had not officially agreed with anything. Then the phone rang, well it sort of beeped rather than rang. It was the wife. She asked me if I was going to help out with the pizzas at lunchtime. I told her that I was still unsure. No Worries then asked me to ring one of the organising committee members and to tell them what I was going to do.
A few minutes later my mind was made up. I had decided I wouldn't have any time to help out with the fund raiser. I then rang one of the committee members to tell them. The following is a transcript of our conversation:
"Hi, I am ringing up about the pizza fund raiser". Said I
"Thank you so much for volunteering to help us out this lunchtime. No Worries told us that you would be there. Look, I have to go to the school now, I'll see you there at noon, okay?" came the reply.
"Erm, yeah, see you then" came my unenthusiastic response. Now I had no option. I had to go.
I arrived at the school just before the pizza delivery arrived. There was already 3 members of the organising committee there ready to get the pizzas organised for the children. Most of the pupils at the school had decided to have pizza for lunch with each slice costing $2. Both my gals had decided on one slice each. However, as I was to find out, each pupil could order as many slices as they wanted.
The pizza delivery boy (well, man really). Turned up in a truck and had more than 160 pizzas ready to go. Some were individually boxed but a fair few would have to be arranged as some children wanted 3 different types of pizza. We took all the pizzas into the hall and got to work organising which pizza belonged to which child.
I wanted to get this done as quickly as possible as I had to be somewhere by 1pm. So I frantically took a large number of orders and started matching up pizza slices to the correct child. I soon become amazed at how many slices some children were ordering. One girl had ordered 5 slices of pizza. I made a remark about this to another helper. I got a response back that I didn't expect.
"That's for my cousin's daughter. I don't know why she ordered 5 slices as she doesn't like cheese or vegetables. She's as skinny as a rake too".
I was lost for words. The first time in a very long time I couldn't think of anything to say to that response.
By now I was working up a sweat. I was running from one part of the stage to another with a bag in one hand and pizza slices in the other. I was determined to get this over as quickly as possible. Finally, it was all done. I bade my farewells and drove to my 1pm appointment.
The next day the Principal spoke to me and thanked me for helping out with the pizzas. She said that all the helpers spoke very highly of my pizza arranging skills. I responded by saying that I was glad to help out. Luckily, she didn't know the truth which was fine by me!
20 May 2009
A couple of days ago it was my daughters school sports day. It would be the first time in three years that the event had been held as on the previous two years rain had caused them to be cancelled. Prior to the big day everyone was praying for a nice dry and sunny day. It looked as if our prayers had been answered as the day was indeed dry, sunny and not too hot. Definitely perfect weather for a sports day.
I had volunteered to help out and was assigned the very important role of being a 100 metres Marshall. My role was to help ensure that everyone knew what was expected and did not start running before the whistle went off to signify the start if the sprint. We did have a starters gun but thought a whistle would be better especially for the younger children.
I arrived early and looked at the running track. My excitement levels rose (yes it doesn't take much for this to happen). I hadn't been on a proper running track for many years. I was itching to have a run and relive my younger years. Even though I had not done much fitness activity in the past few months I desperately wanted to have a go. Internally I think I am a white Asafa Powell!
Anyway, I looked at the 100 metres part of the track and noticed that it didn't seem that long. The sports teacher agreed. So being a part-time nerd I got out a measuring reel and measured it! I was correct the finishing line was only 90 metres from the starting line. The starting markers were then put back another 10 metres.
The games begun. There was a rotation of events so during the day we would have classes from Kindergarten to Year 6 doing the 100 metres. For the older children there was an 800 and 400 metres race as well.
My marshalling went well as I was ably assisted by another volunteer. It was interesting to see the children run. Most of them false started as all they wanted to do was run, run and erm run! Also, for a few of them staying in their lanes was a hard thing for them to work out too. Lunging at the finish line was popular too.
My oldest daughter had her 100 metre race just before fruit break. Now I am not being mean but running is definitely not her forte. It would be like Metallica making a hip hop album! Her race started and she was in last place. However, she must have started running faster as she eventually finished a credible fourth. I was a happy father indeed!
My youngest daughter had her 100 metre race later that day. Now she loves running. In fact I think she could easily outrun that Duracell bunny that always appears in those advertisements!
Her race started and she was equal first. Then all of a sudden she seemed to slow down as her hat was falling off her head and she concentrated on keeping it on rather than running fast. Despite this she too came fourth. At least there would be no arguments in the household as they had both done equally as well.
Finally, it was time for the relay race and parents were allowed to run with the children. My big moment had come. I was finally going to get to run on the track. I started focusing on the track and could feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins. This was my Olympic Games moment. Would I be able to run okay? Would I make an idiot of myself? There was only one was to find out.
There were four teams (blue, red, gold and green). I was in the red team and each team consisted of children and parents. The parents were the last to run. Our team set off and before we knew it we were last at least 50 metres behind the third placed team. I remarked to one of my co-parental runners that it would take a herculean effort to win this one.
Gradually we started to catch up and by the time I had the baton we were in front. I took off as fast as I could. My legs were pumping faster that a steam train. I felt good. I don't know how fast I was running but I did increase the lead for the red team. As I handed over the baton I was elated. I still had my running skills intact. After a couple more relay runners we had won the race by nearly 100 metres!
I felt like I had won a gold medal at an Olympic Games. In reality we won the race but didn't even get a winners ribbon! It didn't matter. I had taken on the track and beaten it. Mind you, the next day my ankles were sore as a result of my effort the previous day!
A couple of weekends ago I took my daughters to the local shopping centre. We were looking for some clothes for them as it is (finally - hooray!!) getting colder in Sydney. Yes winter is knocking on the door. This year the summer seemed to linger as long as a bad smell in a lift, or more accurately body odour on a Sydney train!
We were wandering around the centre and visiting a few shops, as you do, when we decided to go into one of the major stores. The gals love going shopping especially when it is for them! We looked at some clothes and found some sleepwear for them to wear during the chilly nights. They were very happy indeed! I have to admit I did choose well for them.
I decided to look at some books whilst there as I have always liked spending time looking at them. Give me a good book any day. My daughters too were happy as there were some Mr Men books for them to look at. Anyway, I noticed something hanging from the side of the book shelf. When I saw it I had to do a double take. Hanging from this shelf were Christmas decorations. There was not one but a few of them.
I quickly looked at my phone (its a safety comfort thing really). The month shown was May. I was stunned. So I hadn't been asleep for seven months.
Now, I know there is a Global Financial Crisis going on but to sell Christmas decorations so many months before Christmas is downright crazy! At this rate I would expect to see Easter eggs on the store shelves by October. Oh, and lets sell Valentine's Day cards in September!
Fast forward to a few days later and I was walking past a restaurant in my suburb when I noticed that they had Christmas decorations on the inside of the door and bedecked out across the eating area. Given that it was a Chinese restaurant I suppose its possible that they have got their months mixed up.
So, dear reader, what is going on? Is it an underhanded plot by the Government to bring forward Christmas to help stimulate the economy? Mind you, having Christmas holidays earlier may not be a bad thing. Or are shops trying to send subliminal messages by selling Christmas decorations many months before the event?
I'll let you decide as I look up a recipe for mince pies.
17 April 2009
Once a year an event comes to Sydney that generates a lot of excitement for thousands of locals. It's an event that is predominantly geared towards the young of age and also those, like myself, who are young at heart! What is this event? I hear you mutter over your second bowl of muesli.
Well it's not a concert by Miley Cyrus or even a hair styling expo guest starring Zac Efron, but it is the Royal Sydney Easter Show! Note for the anoraks amongst you that the 'Royal' moniker was bestowed on the Easter Show by Queen Victoria in the nineteenth century (about the same time as Cliff Richard was born!).
I personally love the Easter Show. Yes it's expensive, yes the food on offer is crap to put it mildly but you do truly get to experience the mood of the rural parts of Australia and in particular NSW. It's always good fun trying to avoid the horse and cow poo when you are walking around the show.
For my two daughters, its probably second only to Christmas or even a 'Shaun the Sheep' marathon on television! They love the show looking at all the animals and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the show. They were very impressed with how fat and big the pigs were. They were huge! All I could think of while looking at them was a years supply of bacon and ham steaks!
The cows were interesting too. Some were built like horses. My oldest daughter told me how a cow is milked as she had done this on a school outing last year. She was speaking as if she was an expert on the matter which was interesting. While we were passing some Hereford's, one of them decided to do a 'number 2'. Both my youngest daughter and myself were amazed at how much excrement was being produced. It's amazing when you think of the the things that stick in your mind!
Seeing some cows being sheared for a parade was fun. I had no idea as to how much grooming these creatures go through. I was expecting to see nail polish and lipstick on them but alas the cows were spared this 'luxury'.
No Worries (aka the wife) also got into the Easter Show spirit by taste testing the hottest chili in the world. It's rated at 14+ which means its damn hot. She really enjoyed it as her face and mouth turned bright red almost instantly!
Certainly the most exciting thing for our daughters were the show bags and the funfair rides. Okay, I admit it. I may be older than 21 but I also love the show bags. Naturally I ended up with a large Cadbury's chocolate show bag. The girls settled for a Tinkerbell and Princess show bag.
Following the excitement of the Show bag pavilion, we made our way to the funfair part of the show. As the girls are quite young we thought that the kids rides would suit them. By and large they did. However, there was one ride where you sit in a car and then it proceeds to go extremely fast forwards, then backwards and then forwards again. The speed of the ride was very quick indeed. I thought the girls would either get scared because of the speed, or feel a bit sick afterwards.
I needn't had worried as the 'fearless two' thoroughly enjoyed the ride and wanted to go on it again. Unfortunately for them the request was denied. They then found an equally daring ride to go on and quickly forgot their request for a repeat ride.
Following this we then left the show and made our way home having had a great day at the Royal Sydney Easter Show.
31 March 2009
There is something that has been annoying me recently and I have decided to get it off my chest and unleash it to you - the blogging public at large. What is the whinge, I hear you say? Well it's nothing to do with the weather, GFC (Global Financial Crisis and not Gillingham Football Club), or the lack of good birthday cards on offer in Australia.
It is, believe it or not, our washing line! Now, I know what you must be thinking. Maybe I took the wrong dose of medication today. Possibly true as I am listening to Chris De Burgh as I write this blog. But medication is certainly not the issue today. Read on and I'll explain.
We have a washing line that we use, not surprisingly, to hang out our clothes for drying. It is secured to the far wall (aka a fence) and swings up when you need to use it and then swings down when not in use. I have decided to explain this as it is not a Hills Hoist (as we call them in Australia) which is secured to the ground and is raised or lowered by the turn of a lever.
Anyway, I have nicknamed our line 'The Midget Line'. As it is truly quite low when fully erected. The problem that I have is that being just a shade under 6 feet tall I have to crouch down to hang up our clothes. In fact, if there is lots of washing I end up looking like a limbo dancer trying not to knock over the pole whilst at the same time fumbling for another peg. I am sure that my neighbours must get a good laugh out of how I look. In my case the reason for the limbo dance is to ensure that I do not bang my head on the top of the washing line.
Naturally, even though I don't want to bang my head I invariably do. For some reason I forget to keep my head lowered and all of a sudden I feel a sharp pain as my noggin hits the washing line. This actually happens on a too regular basis for my liking.
What happens then is that a spray of four letter words spew forth from my mouth as I curse the 'midget line'. After this outburst I feel a lot better even though my head is feeling quite sore!
I cannot help thinking that when the house was built in the nineties the builders wanted to play a sick joke on anyone who was on the tall side. That's the only reason why I can imagine the washing line being so low in comparison to other lines.
Either this or they just totally stuffed it up!
Whatever the case, I feel a lot better having got my whinge out of my system. Well, I had better go and purchase a crash helmet as the washing machine has nearly finished its load!
24 March 2009
"I thought I was going to have a successful visit when I heard the dreaded words "you are going to have to take a seat as I need to refer you to another person"...I was on my second round of counting the ceiling tiles when my name was called out. Actually, they called out my wife's name and I had to correct them"There is a saying that goes 'there are only two things certain in life and that is death and taxes'. Well I beg to differ. I actually think there is a third certainty. What is it? I hear you cry from the mountain tops and the low lying valleys. Is it appearing on a reality television series? - no. Is it making a fool of oneself at karaoke? - could be, but not as far as I am concerned. The answer is spending hours waiting to be served at a Government office.
If you think about it we will all spend time at one of these venerable citadels of a Government nature. In Australia it could be at Medicare, Centrelink or at any of the other offices that have been created to make our lives easier (aka red tape, more red tape and even more red tape).
I had the pleasure, in a sadistic sort of way, of having to spend nearly three hours at one of these offices while the gurus of the Government department tried to answer my query which I had raised with them.
I arrived early on a sweltering hot Sydney day. Yes folks, global warming is alive and well in Australia! I imagined I would be there for at least 30 minutes and was in a good natured mood as I walked through the automatic doors and into the office. My mood quickly changed when I saw how long the queue was.
Undeterred, I remained positive and felt optimistic that I would be served fairly quickly. After all, the queue seemed to be moving reasonably fast (by Government standards).
I got to the front of the queue and explained my problem. I thought I was going to have a successful visit when I heard the dreaded words "you are going to have to take a seat as I need to refer you to another person". My jaw hit the ground. Translated, it meant that I would be spending a long long time sitting on a chair waiting to be seen.
I asked the blatantly obvious question '"how long will the wait be?" The response was not that comforting either "Erm shouldn't be too long. Just take a seat, please."
So I sat down and waited for my name to be called out. Unfortunately I hadn't brought with me anything to read. Certainly 'War and Peace' would have been a good book for a situation like this. I also didn't have a bottle of water (and couldn't see a vending machine anywhere). At least the television was on. Unluckily for me it was a morning show with infotainment segments.
Within 25 minutes I had learnt what sort of moisturiser was good for my skin, found out why a certain vacuum cleaner would make my life better and seen a new contraption for cooking all foods in one receptacle. Wow, I thought, I certainly have been living under a rock. To put it bluntly the show on the television was pure and utter tripe.
To make matters worse, there were frequent crossovers to Hollywood as the Oscars were about to start. Now I don't have a problem with the film industry, far from it. But when it comes to awards nights like the Oscars then I generally switch off the television. This time I couldn't do what I wanted.
Another 90 minutes passed and I still hadn't been seen to. I noticed a number of staff had been for their tea break and returned to their desks. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see how regimental the staff tea breaks were operating. Nothing better than to let the customer wait a little longer before being served.
By now I was really regretting not having a book to read. All of a sudden a woman called out a name. It wasn't my name but I noticed something about the woman. Now it wasn't because she was a budding Angelina Jolie, it was because it was a man in women's clothes! The voice sounded female but that was all. I mused to myself (well I couldn't do much else) that at least the Government is an Equal Opportunity Employer!
All of a sudden the news came on the television. At last, I thought, something to stimulate my brain. Nope, wrong thought. The bulk of the news was all about the Oscars. Still, I suppose to some Hollywood is much more important that trivial matters like suicide bombers and poverty.
I was on my second round of counting the ceiling tiles when my name was called out. Actually, they called out my wife's name and I had to correct them. I was greeted by a deadpan looking middle aged woman who lead me to her desk. We had a brief discussion which got slightly heated at times but still my query had not been resolved to my liking. Having waited for nigh on 3 hours my actual time trying to resolve my issue was less than 5 minutes.
I left the office and headed out into the hot and sunny day vowing never to return. I made my way to a book store to search for a copy of 'War and Peace' for my next visit!
11 March 2009
Last weekend No Worries and I were driving back from Canberra when I put a CD on. After all music is a great soother especially when driving from the ACT to Sydney. The CD being played was full of rock ballads which I hadn't heard for many moons. We were both enjoying the music (admittedly me more than No Worries) when the next song came on. As it did, I mentioned to my wife that it was one of my favourite songs of the Nineties.
As it came on No Worries instantly turned up the volume, much to my horror. Normally she likes turning the volume down and not up. No Worries immediately said it was one of her favourite songs of all time. We both sang along to it and then played it all over again! What was the song, I hear you say? Well thankfully it was not 'Achy Breaky Heart' by Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley's dad), but 'Hazard' by Richard Marx.
Later that day, when we were home, I decided to dig out the CD single version of Hazard. As I did I started to look at all the other CD singles that I had in a box and had not played or seen them for a long long time. I have to admit that now I am not sure why I bought them! I must have been on medication!
Anyway, I thought it would be a great idea to embarrass myself (call it character building if you wish) and let the whole world know of some of these songs. So without further a do, here they are:
1. 'Stairway to Heaven' by Rolf Harris. Without a doubt a great song...if performed by Led Zeppelin. Hearing the 'wobbly board' on this version makes you want to cringe. I can only assume that I bought it as I grew up on Rolf Harris when I was a child.
2. 'Coco Jamboo' by Mr President. This was Eurodance at it's worst. Why I liked it beggars belief now. Apparently the group used to be called Satellite 1 before changing their name. That's probably a great place to put this song - on a satellite orbiting the Earth! I think Barack Obama could have done a better version of this song.
3. 'Big Big World' by Emilia. As the song goes 'I'm a big big girl in a big big world'. Certainly not cutting edge lyrics. As I am not a big big girl or even a big big boy I now wonder why I bought it. The fact that the last place I heard it before buying it was Amsterdam might well explain my reasoning. Apparently she is competing in the Swedish part of the Eurovision Song Contest. Good luck, my dear.
4. 'Vindaloo' by Fat Les. A singalong British song that was sung by comedian Keith Allen, dad of Lily Allen. It's a real boozy pub type song that was released prior to the 1998 World Cup. Now I do like some footy songs, and am partial to a vindaloo now and then, but why the hell did I buy it? Answers on a postcard please!
5. 'Another Night' by MC Sar and the Real McCoy. Now I have to admit that when this song came out I truly liked it. However, hearing it again after a few years, I realise how cheesy it sounds. Was the 1990's the cheesy era? This was some more Eurodance pap from the mid-nineties. Fortunately their career was short lived much to the relief of music lovers worldwide.
6. 'Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo. I remember seeing the video to this song late one night and was really impressed with it. Naturally I bought it as soon as I could. It was a sci-fi cum dance cum rock song and was probably the first number one single in the UK by a Sikh performer (Jasbinder Mann). Nowadays it sounds excruciatingly bad. Though it does have a catchy chorus that gets stuck in your head.
Well there it is. A few of my most embarrassing moments from a musical point of view.
It should be said that my collection does house a number of great songs too. I like to think that I have some taste in music. Some of the best of my collection include:
'November Rain' by Guns 'n Roses; 'Wake up Boo' by the Boo Radleys; 'Zombie' by the Cranberries; 'What's up?' by 4 Non Blondes; 'Nothing Else Matters' by Metallica; 'Winds of Change' by the Scorpions and 'Brick' by Ben Folds Five to name just a few.
So there it is a trip down memory lane. If you have some cheesy or cringy songs of the past then please feel free to let me know!
25 February 2009
Statistically speaking it has taken me approximately 18 months to achieve this milestone. Which equates to more than 160 hits a month. I have to admit that I have achieved this goal much quicker than I had initially thought. On top of this I have received hits from countries that I have never received hits from before. These countries include Pakistan, Dominican Republic, Iceland and Bulgaria to name just a few.
So my blogs are spreading their tentacles quicker around the world than the Global Credit Crisis.
A big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blogs. It truly is appreciated.
So please come back regularly and feel free to subscribe to my blog if you wish.
20 February 2009
Recently during the school summer holidays I took the gals to the local shopping centre to see a stage show. The show was one related to Madagascar 2 which I believe is quite good movie. The gals loved the first film so I thought they would like the show.
We arrived just before the show started and the gals were able to get close to the front of the stage. This was definitely a huge show. There were security personnel there to ensure the young fans did not try to climb onto the stage to hug Alex, Marty or the penguins. Either that or the bulk of under sevens were going to slam dance off the stage. Maybe the area at the front of the stage was a mosh pit rather than excited kids going to watch a show!
I noticed one young boy who was very excited to see the show. Even before it started I could see that he couldn't wait for the show to start. He kept going to the front of the stage and was told to get back for safety reasons. Still it was obvious to all that Madagascar was his favourite film.
When the show started the boy got really excited. He was screaming and showing pure adulation to the 'animals' on stage. It was akin to the reception the Beatles got in the old days. In truth I had never seen a young child so excited in a stage show.
The show itself was very good and certainly wasn't just a promotion for the movie. My gals thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
A few days later I thought it would be good if the gals went to see the show again. I don't know why I thought that but I put it down to a lack of caffeine early in the day. After all, we needed to get some groceries so we could combine our supermarket visit with the show.
We got to the stage area fifteen minutes early. I noticed a boy sitting at the front of the stage. He was all on his own. When we got closer I noticed that it was the boy from the other day! Straight away I had visions of this boy having been to all the 14 shows. Without a doubt he was a Madagascar groupie! I wondered how his parents were coping having seen the show over and over again.
The boy turned to me and asked me if it was time for the show to start. I looked at my watch and told him it would be at least ten minutes. He looked deflated. It was as if I had given him the worst possible type of news imaginable. I felt bad for telling him the truth. He looked as if he was going to cry.
The show started and the boy jumped to his feet and made his way to the front of the stage again. The wise security personnel had to tell him to move away from the stage on a number of occasions. He was certainly in Madagascar heaven! After 30 minutes the show was over. Our groupie friend kept staring at the stage waiting and hoping that Alex, Marty et al would reappear. Alas, they didn't.
After the show we made our way to the supermarket. I left with the thought that groupies are getting younger and younger. I never imagined that there would be groupies as young as, say, seven years old!
11 February 2009
During the Christmas period we drove to Ballina to spend time with my wife's side of the family. Christmas Day was certainly a big day especially for our two daughters. Santa somehow tracked down where they were staying and left lots of presents. Obviously he has a high tech GPS in his supersonic sleigh!
Anyway, on Christmas day one of No Worries cousins invited us to stay for a couple of days with her and her husband as it was their oldest daughter's 4Th birthday. So a couple of days later we set off to the town of Beaudesert in SE Queensland - situated sort of between Brisbane and the Gold Coast and sort of in the hinterland.
The drive was quite scenic once we turned off the Pacific Highway and head along the Beaudesert road. We arrived just as the birthday party was in full swing. During the afternoon we ate and drank lots. I spent a lot of the time in the lounge room with the other men watching South Africa give Australia a rare cricketing lesson.
Our stay there was very relaxing (and hot too!). We did experience a huge thunder storm that caused some damage to the area but not to where we were. The lightning was spectacular to watch, providing you were not out in it as we were for some of the time. It certainly made driving the last couple of kilometres interesting!
It was early evening two days later when we decided to head back to NSW and onto Lismore where we were going to spend some time with my mother in law. My Wife's cousin suggested taking the Mount Lindesay Highway which goes through to Kyogle in NSW and then onto Lismore. I checked our GPS and it indicated that it was the quickest way. In 2.5 hours we would be in Lismore!
We said our farewells and set off on the Mount Lindesay Highway. The sun had just set and the moon was up. The mountains looked fantastic in the twilight. It reminded me of some of the American road trips. If you used a small modicum of imagination you could have thought you were driving through parts of the Rockies or even on Route 66. It really was awesome.
I was in my element, it was becoming a great drive. Then all of the sudden my headlights caught some animals sitting on the road. They were cane toads. Initially I diverted around them but after a few kilometres there was no other option than to hit them. Occasionally you could hear a small 'thud' as a cane toad was hit by the car.
In the distance Mount Lindesay was getting closer. It is shaped a bit like a wedding cake and is certainly worth a view. By now it was dark and you had to drive on full beam to see the road. I had not seen any traffic going in the opposite direction except for one truck. Obviously the route was not used much. Then a sign appeared on the side of the road. It informed that for the next 16 kilometres the road would be very windy. No problems, I thought, I have driven on many long and winding roads (good title for a song I think!).
The road narrowed and started to wind sharply. What made this slightly different was that the turns were extremely acute. In places you could only go very slow to ensure that you stayed on the road. As the road climbed it was obvious that there was a steep drop on one side of the road. Also, the turns were continuous. I was turning the steering wheel from left to right continuously. Luckily we had power steering.
No Worries was worried. She was concerned that I might be taking the turns too fast and that if there was traffic coming the other way then we could have a problem. I, by now, was enjoying myself. I was alert and relishing the challenge. Even the cane toads weren't distracting me. I may as well have been at Le Mans with all its twists and turns. My wife, however, was starting to hyperventilate and holding the dashboard.
I could not understand her concerns. The car was handling the sharp bends very well. One stage I took a hand off the steering wheel to grab a bottle of water. No Worries started really freaking out! I knew that we had to get off this mountain road as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there were no turn offs. We continued driving up the mountain and then down the other side. Fortunately no cars or trucks were approaching from the other side. It was just us and darkness (and a few hundred cane toads).
Finally after what seemed like an hour we hit a straight road. There was a sign that said we had entered into NSW. It also had the words 'drive carefully'. I couldn't help but think the sign should also be facing the way we had come! Another thing we noticed was that there were much fewer cane toads. Maybe they need a passport to enter across the border!
After a brief stop I drove on and came to a very small town (if you can call it that) called The Risk. It seemed an apt name given our journey over Mount Lindesay! Maybe the town forefathers had a sense of humour when they named the town. That's the thing about country Australia some of the towns named seem to be quite funny. Possibly their names were devised after a drunken Friday night.
I drove on to Casino and let my wife drive the last 45 minutes. My back was hurting and I was starting to get tired. For the record I am certain there are no casinos in Casino.
My wife was still getting over her Mount Lindesay experience and was driving quite slow. I tactfully pointed out that she could go a little faster. A few minutes late we saw the lights of Lismore in the distance. No Worries told me she was glad to see them. We entered the outskirts of Lismore when No Worries suddenly stopped the car. She was having a delayed reaction to our journey. I got in the car and drove onto my mother in laws house.
When we got there No Worries said "can we never ever drive on that road again!". I told her that was fine - even though I wanted to do it all over again just for the adrenalin rush!
07 January 2009
I thought I would update all and sundry as to what has been happening these past couple of weeks.
Well, to put it briefly we have been on a relaxing family holiday to the Northern reaches of NSW and also across the border into hostile QLD (no passport required). Subsequently, I decided to give my creative blogging juices a break so that they could be re-energised for the new year (with the help of some lovely amber nectar and sumptuous Indian food).
Our holiday started a couple of days before Christmas and incorporated a quick stopover in Port Macquarie and then a further drive onto Ballina arriving on Christmas Eve.
As is the norm, the lovely No Worries decided to start her packing on the night before the holiday was due to start. In fact, she didn't start packing until 11.15pm and continued going until 1am!
I was awoken early the next day by No Worries. She had gotten up early (a rare thing normally) to continue her packing. She was by now getting carried away. For some reason she wanted to pack everything from old accounting books to hundreds of business cds! I had visions of the kitchen sink coming with us but fortunately No Worries didn't give it a second glance.
At this stage her case was overflowing with clothes, books and lots of other things. I had to push her out of the door to ensure she got to work on time. I thought then I would be able to relax while I got the gals their breakfast and then I would be able to pack my clothes for our vacation.
How wrong could I be!
During the morning the phone rang. It was No Worries. "Hi, how are you going?" said the wife. I replied that I was going well. No Worries then asked if I could do a favour for her. I said yes but was a tad concerned as to what it could be. Surely she didn't want to take the kitchen sink after all!! It turned out that she wanted a mirror dropped off to a friend. I put away my toolbox.
Following this I took the gals out to the library to return some books and then delivered the mirror. It was now early afternoon and I still hadn't packed for myself. The phone rang. It was No Worries again. This time she asked me if I could take out some text books from her case. This I did.
By now I was running behind schedule but did manage to pack my clothes. All I had to do was load the car when the phone rang again. It was No Worries for the third time. This time she wanted a couple of extra skirts put into her case. Also, she reminded me that the pie maker and coffee grinder were coming as well. Suddenly, I felt sorry for the toaster. Surely if the pie maker was coming then we should take the toaster as it would most likely get lonely while we were away.
I started to take our bags to the car and wondered how everything was going to fit in the boot. There were 4 small cases, presents for the family, food, the pie maker, coffee grinder, children's things and many more items. Somehow I got it all into the boot, with the exception of a couple of small bags of food etc.
At 4pm I set off to pick up No Worries and start our Christmas holiday. I put a CD on and started to relax when my mobile phone rang. It was No Worries for the umpteenth time. I held my breath. What does she want now? Surely she doesn't want to take the toaster after all? This time No Worries let me know that she was leaving work and would see me soon.
With that I drove off to pick up my organised wife and start our holiday!