Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Melissa's Cricket Birthday and the Aussie Demise

Day 4 was Melissa's birthday, making drinking at the cricket all the more concentrated! Katie come down from Ballarat for her cricket debut, and we joined the Flaggers up in Q22 for the day of drinking and cricket watching.

Only a slightly better day for the Aussie's than the previous one, explaining what was going on out in the middle to Katie lacked it's usual Aussie optimism. Preparing Katie for standing up and clapping a potential century from the Aussie captain clearly did him no favours, out on 99.

Mid strength beer and then a lemonade supplement saw us through the day, before we walked down to Brunswick Street at the end of play to Little Creatures to meet up with non-cricket and cricket mates alike to mark Melissa's birthday.

Yesterday we joined Jim in his corporate box, for full strength beer for the 153 runs the South Africans needed to end the Aussie domination of cricket.

Bumble, Springer, Melissa, Monisha and I entertained Jim's client group with stories of travel and cricket, while we saw those runs scored almost without challenge.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxing Day in Melbourne

The day finally arrived, the day of the Boxing Day test in Melbourne, the most anticipated day of the year...and the day I could return to drinking, after six long months.

I joined Melissa and Todd and Rick, and Monisha, after walking around the ground from the Member's stand. Day 1 saw Ricky Ponting make a much needed 101, before the Waving The Flag crew headed to the Kingston in Richmond for beers, and catch up over tours past.

Great beer garden, sadly as this place filled up service dropped away, and the wait at the bar for a drink became too long. Joined by Nick and Paul, we walked to the www.spreadeagle.com.au, with a beer stop at The Vine, for a pub meal, before calling it a night. Top parmas!

Making my way around to the group, over by over on Day 2, I happened to stop at our hallowed M8 to see Clarke make his 50, before reaching Q22 with the rest of the group.

Chick Pink day, the Flag girls were adorned in their pink tour shirts, and Sparrow sported his new shirt for the traditional day.


Bumble and I found ourselves in Jim's corporate box just after tea, with free beer and lots of mucking about, before being hurried along at the end of the day. Running into Damien Fleming and Darren Lehman on the way out of the ground, we also found Meggsy, before getting across to Bridie O'Reillys for many more drinks, dinner, and dancing to the cover band.

Today there had been a collective notion of having a rest day from drinking...which was a gross error given the pace and result of today's play. In what looked like a couple of wickets and then Australia will be batting when I left the house, the South African tail wagged and wagged and wagged!

A quiet beer after play at the London Tavern for Bumbles, Monisha, Amanda and Springer, Melissa and I. Trading the Flaggy Green for the Baggy Red, we all seem to be entering every competition out there to get us to the Ashes next year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Town and Country

Battling the Melbourne city shops on the Saturday before Xmas was what I did, with Jenny and her mother this year. We tracked through store to store, trying to find particular items on wishlists. Many, many hours later, and an unsuccessful attempt at avoiding actually venturing into Myer, Jenny I and were fairly homicidal by the end of the day.

Sunday I hitched a ride home to Ballarat with Jo, both of us mortified by the sight of utes and 4WDs decked out with tinsle in the Ballarat main streets. Katie and I hit the Bridge Mall soon after - and the contrast of the day before what amazing. A lonely Santa sat on his own, forlornly looking left and right for any potential interested child. The slower pace was much easier to manage!

I worked from the Ballarat office for the three days leading to Xmas, and being in a quiet, happy and relaxed office was just what I needed. I even got a lot of work done!

I caught up with Jo for lunch on Monday at Europa, and then Melanie and Kiayn at Oscar's on Tuesday. I also had lunch with Renee and Graham at Gee Cee's on Wednesday, after a very late night the night before at the office, as I slide into the work shutdown period.

Mum, Melissa and I headed over to Uncle Donald's and Auntie Carole's for our annual Christmas Eve catch up, before we joined the car queue in Alfredton to see the row of home Christmas lights display.

Christmas at home this year was just the four of us, with Jessie and Noodles chasing their white Christmas in the Highlands of Scotland. French Toast for breakfast before gift exchanges, and a call from Scotland. Lunch preparations soon followed.

After eating ourself silly, we headed out to catch the extended family, and marvel at how much all the kids out there have grown. We got to swap Carribean cricket travel stories this year, as we took in every Wiggles noise maker there is!

The two little santas, Cooper and Charli popped in, with Andrea and Dean, on their way to their Christmas dinner. Such little people now, with Charli giving kisses and waves, and Cooper asserting his personality. Such cuties.

Kim joined us for dinner, which is now a seafood tradition, before Melissa and I packed the car and headed back to Melbourne, another Christmas over.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Freedman Love and Loss

After work last night, which included drinks and exchange of gifts as we start wrapping up for the year, I made my way to Brunswick, and the Little Creatures Beer Hall. For Michelle's birthday, today, we meet for drinks and a dinner in one of my new favourite spots in Melbourne.

As the night got darker, I took a tram north to the Northcote Social Club, to meet Melissa, making new friends in the bar. We then moved into the bandroom, grabbed a bar and prepared for a solo Tim Freedman gig.

The set started with Beauty In Me, and then God Drinks At The Sando in honour of the name change of the Commerical to the Northcote Social Club. Tim then explained his theme for the night, pairs songs about his past relationships - from the height of love, to the bitter and painful demise. Where Is She? being the first of the first pair.

Intersected by songs of loss, Charlie No 3, was followed by the story of the girlfriend who was the inspiration for Fall For You, No Aphrodisiac, Melbourne, and Royal In The Afternoon - several of my favourite. Explaining how many songs from the one relationship have ended up being on very different albums.

Tim was somber and cathartic through the first half of the set, drinking champagne unusually. He talked about having dinner just hours before with the very inspiration of the tracks before....and then played The Curse Stops Here, adding that he didn't play that the night before cos he was having way more fun. Ouch.

Life's A Beach and then an angry Up Against The Wall, before finally starting on a bottle of red, and then he started to hit his straps for the gig. He had a go at people talking up near the bar, and then passed a few bottles among the people at the front.

Breathing You In and Start My Celler Again was the next chapter, before a new song, the second for the night. The encore took on crowd requests, with Gough ending the evening.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

The Christmas cheer and spirit seems to have arrived at our house, all in one hit. As Christmas cards arrive, Jenny has started finding her Christmas bits and pieces, and we have slowly started bring the cheer out to the house.

The tree arrived by delivery last weekend, minus promised bucket, and thus sat limply in the hallway for a day - until a bucket was found, and Lizette's dad was bribed into helping us make sure the tree would stand. Bless him!

Next was stringing baubles, and untangling a box of pink and silver decorations, ready for the tree garnish.

Filling the house with the smell of pine forest, the tree stands proudly in the living room, and has even demanded a furniture re-arrange to mark it's placement.
So baubles all strategically placed, the much necessary tinsel, and candy canes a plenty, all adorn our big, real tree for this year's display of the season.

I didn't really feel the magic of the season until Jenny found her candleabra for the window sill. So enchanting! Reminds me of our beautiful and wonderful white Xmas in Sweden.

So now I am ready for this monster annual celebration, with the countdown now on until I can finish work, and start the festivities properly. Come on now, already!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Australia

I went down to Nova this evening, and saw Australia. Seeing and hearing and reading reviews about this movie for months and months, I was very keen to see it on the big screen.

When I arrived, buoyed about going to the movies on my own by a reference in one of the copious Sex and The City episodes I have been consuming on our newly installed Foxtel at home, I was greeted by the five other people in the cinema. Literally! I walked in as they were all talking about coming to the cinema alone, and we all introduced ourselves, and chatted 'til the screening started. Very random!

After the flurry of advertisements for all things Down Under, the movie epic starts. Which has also been labelled a major ad for the country overseas...and the cinematography takes in the breathtaking magic of the outback. The vision, the sweeping views, and the colours are amazing throughout.

Narrated by Nullah, the "creamy" boy connected to Faraway Downs, he pulls you in with stories of the Aboriginal experience and a little white settlement history lesson. The boy is one of the highlights of the story, with those beautiful brown eyes, and spirit.

Nicole Kidman, playing Lady Sarah Ashley, is a British aristocrat who travels out to the lucky country - with Prada luggage and a bad accent. Her over acting is cringe-worthy throughout. Nicole's wardrobe is her saving grace. Great dresses! If '2009 Husband Find' works out for me, I think I have just found bridesmaid dresses!

The shining light is Hugh Jackman. He is heart-racingly ripped, with the first highlight being a shower from a bucket in the outback. Hugh is striking, strong, and dreamy! The romance works, too. So you'll need tissues, not for tears, but for the drool for Hugh!

With cheesy uses of the phases 'crickey' and other Aussie-isms, I can't believe I last through the three hours without crackers. Pretty, and Hugh - mmmmmm. But really - too long (I feared a new DVT sitting there so long!). The war, and the battle for the black man in White Australia were all over done. Although the reminder of the Australian new government's Sorry in the credits was a powerful blow.

The telling of Dreamtime was well done. The music was also amazing...although you are left to wonder why, after Baz used every Australian actor you can think of (Ben Mendleson was very good), he then used Elton John for the closing song....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Homebake 08

On Friday night Nicole and I caught a much delayed flight to Sydney, and checked into our secret 4 star hotel, being The Menzies, directly across from Wynyard station.

After a quick and sturdy breakfast, we walked down to The Domain and joined the line to get into Homebake. After studying the line up and location and times of the bands on show, we headed straight to The Dome stage, for The Holidays. Having heard them earlier this year, we settled in for some shade and cute pop-rock tunes.

Up next were Dash + Will, young and cute duo from Melbourne. Pick You Up and Fighting Over Nothing were strong and memorable numbers, in their first festival gig.

We then went across to the Main Stage for Eddy Current Suppression Ring, totally crazy Tourette's like lead, who played awesome punk vocals. Back to The Dome for Little Red, who were awesome. Such a fun and engaging set - impressed me, second time around! It's Alright and Coca Cola boppy standouts, and crowd favorites.

End Of Fashion were up next, and one of my most impressive gigs of the day. Their new track Fussy was awesome, with Oh Yeah and She's Love also big tracks on the day.

Sun blazing, humid Sydney day, we then popped back to the Main Stage for British India, before visiting the food tents for dinner.

At this point we made out way to the Cinema Pavillon, for the short films on show. A couple of them I had seen at Tropfest this year, but two of the shorts we watched, Two Cars, One Night, and Mankind Is No Island, were really great.

Back outside, we were faced with a significant drop in temperature, while we saw the set of Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. Our only overlap of the day, at the end of the country set we rushed back to the Main Stage for a funky play of Sneaky Sound System. Very entertaining, and much loved by the crowd, with big hits like UFO and Kansas City.

Making our way to as close to the stage as we could, we then saw Crowded House enchant the crowd with their much loved hits. Interesting to see the young people in the crowd sing along to many of the songs, although they did lose them with a few new tracks in a row....it was the end of a long day! Sadly, not as good as they were in Melbourne earlier in the week, but still an awesome set from a band still going strong.

What a great day of Australian music, new and established, young and older.

After getting back to our hotel, and resting our weary legs, we managed to wonder around Sydney on Sunday, taking in the Market at The Rocks, the customary sites at Circular Quay, and then much needed coffee and cafe at the Queen Victoria Building, before heading out to the airport for our flight home.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Shane Warne The Musical

When we saw Wicked, across the road were signs for 'The Other Wizard Of Oz', being Shane Warne The Musical. Each time I saw the ad for this, I cringed....but then Melissa got free tickets to the preview...and you can't say no to free tickets, can you!

I met Melissa out the front of the Athenaeum Theatre. As we took our seats quite close to the stage, the producer came on stage to introduce. He said that this was the first real run of the show, with some places not fully worked out yet, and that one of the actors had only been with the group a week.

The show started out by showing that our man Warne didn't start out playing cricket, and chronicled his attempts at being a football star with St Kilda. The disappointment of dreams dashed, and his mother's influence on his getting his act together and heading to the AIS for cricket.

Some digs about an inappropriate coach over there in Adelaide, making you cringe about the possibility of reality, leading up to some words of advice for the wayward Warne until he gets his act together and gains selection for Australia.

His crowning with a baggy green got a smattering of applause from the audience - Melissa was mortified at my participation in that! Some true cricket fans out there! And then the focus on That Ball.

As the gap at interval extended, and the crowd had returned, a chant of 'Warnie, Warnie, Warnie' went up. Hilarious. Had the band cracking up!

Every crack at Warne that could be made, was made. Comments about his fast rise to fame, and that he couldn't do anything without gaining media attention, his nickname as Hollywood. The bookmaker scandal, the diuretic given to him by his Mum, sledging on field. The singing and dancing were actually very funny - with a highlight being What An SMS I'm In.

The portrayal of Shane and Simone's relationship, from start to end, with the promiscuous Warne and the 'what happens on tour stays on tour', and the sad reality of Simone's perspective. Pretty raw and real. And then the reminder that whilst the media circus went on, he did, single handedly win Australia many matches.

Very funny show, a look at the hero and disaster that is Warne. Could not have imagined going to see it, but loved it!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Crowded House At The Forum

On Tuesday night I popped into the stadium in the middle of Federation Square, and watched a couple of Homeless World Cup matches, before joining Nicole across the road at The Forum.

First up was Anika Moa, our third gig of her's in about as many months! Opening with Wise Man Say, she played through her songs like My Old Man, and Dreams In My Head. Plus her awesome reggae Youthful. She captured the crowd with her banter, and amazing voice.

And then, Crowded House entered the stage. This was a warm up gig for the weekend, and whilst not as intimate as last time we saw them, The Forum is an amazing venue. Wearing mining lights on their heads, the four band members come out playing in the dark, strobe lights going crazy!

Opening with Locked Out, and then playing five new songs within their 2 hours and 45 minutes on stage. They played favorites of mine like Pineapple Head and Distant Sun.

A lot of chatter and interaction with the audience - at one point someone asked Neil why he was bleeding. He explained that in his haste to take off the mining lamp, he ripped a gash across his forehead. He bled for the whole show, so rock and roll!

Neil also handed out the microphone at one point, for audience questions. This lead to the naming of someone's child by Mark and Nick, girl and boy names chosen respectively, and then the guy in front of Nicole and I got hold of the mic and requested Private Universe. Soon this lad, and his two mates from their own band were up on stage with Crowded House playing their request with them. Pretty cool!

Chocolate Cake, and Not The Girl You Think You Are featured in the set, as well as a cover of Throw Your Arms Around Me, before finally deciding to end the night with a requested Better Be Home Soon.

Amazing show. So great live. Looking forward to seeing them again this weekend.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Homeless World Cup

As my lunchbreak yesterday, I popped down to Birrurang Marr to watch a couple of matches as part of the Homeless World Cup, currently being staged in Melbourne.

As I found a seat in the Yarra Pitch Stand, the New Zealand team completed their haka, before their game against Ethiopia.

Upon a pint sized court, the two teams played a version of street soccer, with 7 minute halves. Fast paced game, with a goalie and three players on court at any one time, with an on side rule (according to the live commentator).

The Ethiopian powered ahead in the second half, taking the match 8 goals to 3.

A DJ played as the teams changed over, and the Cambodian team in red, and their Sierra Leone opponents entered the court. The crowd stood for the respective anthems, with the huge Sierra Leone lads standing hands on heart. The tiny Cambodian team looked mere school boys along from them!

An Aussie reserve helping the Cambodian team with numbers, scored the first goal, before the bigger team started to pick up the pace. The game got faster, as the talent in the Khmer goalie become more and more apparent. Agile, so very fast, he was a joy to watch.

Reminders of the soccer games that played almost constantly on the dry space in front of the National Museum, behind which I lived for a few months, in Phnom Penh.

A group of Aussies in the crowd had Cambodian flags, and were cheering on the little team, playing soccer to the backdrop of the Melbourne CBD buildings.
A change of ends at half time, with the score 2-1 to Sierra Leone. The Cambodian team put on the pressure, and worked hard to end the 14 minute match ahead 5-4. The little Khmer boys were so excited to win their first group match.

The tournament runs all week, with a big pitch stadium under the big screen in Federation Square. Playing for a number of different trophies, the players for all over the world, who are all over 16 and have been homeless for some point in the last 12 months, or make a living as a street paper seller, or are asylum seekers with unconfirmed status, or are in drug or alcohol rehabilitation. An amazing opportunity to represent their country, travel to another part of the world, share the spirit of team in this most universal sport, and gain self esteem and life skills - all whilst raising awareness to their plight.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Nicole's Inaugural Aussie Thanksgiving

Nicole has been in Australia permanently for three years now, and I finally convinced her this year to put on a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.

Michelle picked me up last yesterday afternoon, and we headed over to Nicole's, where she had been preparing for dinner for some time! The table was all set, and Ruth and Danny arrived, and then dinner was served!

To start we had bread rolls, and a walnut and pear salad. Yum! Caramelised walnuts, and perfect, sweet pears. As part of the Thanksgiving tradition, we each told the gathering what we were thankful for, before tucking in. With champagne to help wash it all down!

Main was turkey, of course, and homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and beans. Amazing.

Next up was the highly anticipated pumpkin pie, made from scratch. Sweet in a cinnamon and nutmeg kinda way. Delicious!

Surely the start of a tradition away from her US home, it was lovely to be part of an occasion to mark Nicole's holiday for her in an Aussie setting. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pub Crawl Drop In and Jo's 30th

Yesterday, after frantically trying to locate a place to complete my democratic duty with the local, compulsary Council election, I met Nikki in the city, and we travelled over to South Melbourne to meet up with Melissa and Katie, who were mid-pub crawl.

We joined them at The Railway, which I think was their 5th pub. The group included Melissa's housemates, Nick and Greg, and had the lads in Merry Christmas santa hats, and the girls in Ho!Ho!Ho! santa hats.

The crawl they were following was the Albert Park-South Melbourne crawl from the The Victorian Imbibers Club website - which is just giving me ideas!! The group had also put together rules/challenges for each pub, drawn out before each change. Things like the hopping pub, where they had to hop between sips of their pots. The Railway's challenge was to aquire a business card.

The next pub was The Montague, after a long and misguided walk, where the quite gathering inside didn't know quite what to make of the rowdy group, with everyone speaking in a Pommy accent, and Pom Greg having to speak Aussie! Hilarious!

We then moved on to The Albert Park, very art deco outside, funky wood modern inside, before the Hotel Nest. This pub was drawn as a 'No Slash Pub' so everyone was trying to down their pt quickly, to allow the group to move on to the next! Nikki and I left the group at this point, and trammed back into the city.

Great crawl, great idea with the rules and tasks for each pub. Will definately have to complete it someday next year!

We found our way to Charlie's Bar in Hardware Lane, for Jo's 30th birthday. We joined Kate and Mark, and Michelle, and soon Stacey and Andrew for the countdown to midnight to celebrate turning 30 with beautiful Joey.

More work mates joined us, with Stevie, Christina and Dan, and much later Patrice and Leno. Big bucket glasses of Hoegaarden beer, champange, and all sorts of other combinations later, designated dave me drove people home at the end of a very long, and fun day. Happy Birthday Joey Mac!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Diesel

Last night after work, Jenny and I headed up Lygon Street to the East Brunswick Club. Having bought tickets for the show many months ago for Jenny's birthday, we were off the see Diesel.

Jenny actually saw him this year, whilst I was under house arrest, and raved about him live. Spotting this gig, I jumped at the tickets, and am quite glad I did!

Coming on at 9.30pm, and playing for the two hour set, he belted out a few new tunes, including his new release Days Like These, and then worked his way through his nine album catalogue.

Impressive guitar riffs, and awesome vocals, he belted out tracks like Tip Of My Tongue, Come Together, and Please Send Me Somebody To Love. Amazing live version of Soul Revival, plus Don't Need Love, and crowd favourite 15 Feet Of Snow.

Covers mingled into his set, including Dylan's Rainy Day Woman, and then an extended Come To Me. Encore included Crying Shame, and ending with Steal My Sunshine. A great, and talented entertainer, even better live.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quang Goes Mangoes at The Empress

Last night Nicole and I met after work at one of my favourite pubs, The Empress, which also happens to be my local.

We grabbed a table, and settled in for the act that got us there, Quang Goes Mangoes. Quang Dinh from Little Red, did a solo set. Music he has written himself, all love songs of some kind, including one to his Mum. His vocal range is amazing - even when he is toasted!

Nicole and he chatted after his set, being Facebook friends and all!

Next at the bill were The Box Rockets. Little rock band of three, with the lead's Mum in the audience!

The night was actually the first of a residency for The Good China - our new band find! They were awesome! Nine people on stage, girls and guys, playing a full range of instruments. Violin was a highlight, but xylophone, maraca, recorder, and even the banjo!

The band took full rotation for lead vocals, and the range was amazing. The girls were very good. Ending their set with All Nothing, a massive number, with cute coordinated double clap with all 9 people, plus some in the audience.

Such a fun band, and certainly one I'll be looking out for now!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Greeting Card Campaign

Jess alerted me to the UK Amnesty International's Greetings Card Campaign. Part of their tireless work to fight human rights abuses all over the world, they have launched an initiative to incorporate people's Xmas cards routine.

At risk cases identified for the Campaign, reading each one is harrowing, and a reminder of how lucky we are to live the lives we do.

I am going to send off a couple, picking people based in countries I have visited. So hard to narrow down otherwise! Journalist Pablo Pacheco Avila, in Cuba, and Ferhat Ger├žek in Turkey will receive cards from me. AI state that the impression international mail makes to the authorities can help raise awareness about each case.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Peg Leg

Today I am wearing my hot 'walnut brown' pressure stocking. Thigh high, but with open toe, thank goodness!

I have managed to find replacements for the hospital white versions I was given when I was first diagnosed with DVT, and have managed to track down and order some colours from the US. Not available in Australia in anythng other than white.

I have black, and also the lovely beige, which makes me look like I have a wooden leg. I have started referring to it as the peg leg. The Peg.

Now just to be ok with having the Peg exposed....
Clearly Summer, and warm days like today, will make it necessary...

Research tells me I need to wear these for at least two years, maybe longer. Definately for any flights. The compression, particularly at the ankle, helps my damaged vein in my left leg with circulation. So that fluid doesn't pool at my ankle...so that I still have an ankle! If that's what it takes....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One More Month

 

The Melbourne Myer Christmas windows are in full display, and means that it's getting very close to Xmas. This year is a progress of Santa's preparations, with this window - the first, Christmas College for Elves - being all the 'training' that goes in. Loved the department for 'Christmas Intelligence'! Also answers to questions about how Santa gets around to everyone, how they time the run to cover different cultures and countries Xmas day....

I was inspired by Nat's and Jess' posts about this years lights in London, and checking on the lights from when I was there.

The closer Xmas is, the closer I am to putting this DVT chapter behind me. Very excited for that!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cambodia: Group 78

I have just put together a letter of appeal to send off to the Governor of Phnom Penh Municipality, Cambodia. This is part of Amnesty International's, UK branch, campaign for a group of people they are referring to as Group 78.

According to Amnesty International, Group 78 is a group of some 150 families, who are being evicted from a piece of land from which, by law, they have entitlement to. The reasons for their eviction range from the beautifying of the area, to needing a bridge built.

Having lived and worked in Cambodia, I can imagine the lack of processes and confusion around a situation like this. Amnesty International state that the families have the documentation to make their claim on the land, but are being rejected.

My experience just to get a working visa over there led to visits to window after window at Government department to department, and a small fee here and there to get things moving. Corruption and fear for higher powered figures there remains a strong influence on how anything is done, on a day to day basis.

I have also emailed my interest in being part of the Australians for Cambodian Education group, here in Melbourne, in a quest to get involved.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Day After Peace

Yesterday, as the moving truck was at our house, I ducked into the city to see a film in the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, at Kino.

First up in my chosen session was a short film, called A Different Kind Of Gun. Shot in North and South Sudan, and told by children of this area, the message was education. The children interviewed were asked what they want, need, and how things could improve.

Tracking the development of Kimo school, there are some amazing words from the kids, and the upclose beautiful face shots are just disarming. Education as their way out of the situation their country is in, with one kid observing that the soldiers don't have education so the kids are already making change.

Next was the main film, The Day After Peace. Documenting Jeremy Gilley's quest to have the UN's Peace Day properly recognised and acted upon. A day of global ceasefire.

It starts with a disasterous meeting with the League of Arab States, where Gilley is heckled because of his unbalanced interviews shown in his film promoting his Peace Day idea. From here, he tells us of the journey of getting people of power to talk about this UN sanctioned day of peace - from when he took it to the UN Assembly, thorough negotiations with UK and Costa Rican governments. The day was to be announced by Kofi Annan, with the ringing of the peace bell in NYC - on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Despite the set back, the campaign continues with Gilley working on. We find him about to meet someone who will help, in his lounge room in London - and in walks Angelina Jolie. He meets the Dali Lama. And then when his website is launching, he has Jude Law do a piece for the intro for the website.

Discussions during this shot have Gilley telling Jude about his upcoming trip to Afghanistan - and leads to amazing footage of Jude Law deciding to go with him, to help arrange a day of non-violence to allow vaccinations to reach war ravaged villages of the South. Seeing the beautiful Jude complete the security briefings, check in, and fly with Gilley, and then to wander the streets stating that he feels 'vulnerable' is amazing.

They manage to vaccinate 1.4 million children on 21st September 2007 in Afghanistan, because of the work Gilley does to bring about a day of ceasefire.

Peace One Day is Gilley's company, which will continue to work towards the world actually observing the designated day of peace. Just one day could lead to so much more.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Heart Movember

November has become the month marked by the dirty Mo - all in the name of men's health! Such a great campaign, and what an awesome idea to get the lads to consider their health!

When I got back to Australia from the UK, it was in the middle of Movember - and I was amazed by the breadth and depth of participation, and of many particular mo's, around. So impressive.

I have been following Andrew's 'mogress' through this month, but this morning, Melissa's housemates, Nick and Greg came by to pick up the couch, and so I got to snap their mogress!


Great handlebar there for Nick. And just a dirty porn mo there for Greg! Such a talking point all month with lads from all over. And much competition among them, and their growing ability!

Movember - Sponsor MeProceeds, which reached $16 million last year (wow!), go to Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and BeyondBlue, so pop over through the links and donate to the lads.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Melbourne Storm-In-A-Teacup

Last night I went along to watch the girls from work compete in a grading for a new netball team competition. Nikki is a hard core netball girl, and has rallied a mixed side from work to play, for fun, on a Thursday night.

Alissa, and her crew of Dan, Lucas and Jake all crammed into the tiniest car I have ever seen, picked me up from the office and we headed out to Albert Park. Past MSAC, around the race track to the Grand Prix pits, being the venue for the Albert Park Indoor Sports Centre, and mixed midweek netball.

Full netball courts above the very site where cars are housed and repaired during the Prix, we joined Nikki, Bree, Sarah and Andy to watch a match, before the newly formed team was formed.

I had forgotten how fast netball can be! Sitting on the sidelines, as Melbourne Storm-In-A-Teacup went through their paces, and figured out how to play as a team.
This was a grading session, so the 5 point loss will determine which league the team is assigned to for the new season. But given that it was asserted that it was just for fun, it's all good.

Almost made me want to play....I mean, I was just there for moral support, and some entertainment! But was certainly a fun hit out for the group.

Amazing how much sport is going on in this little pocket of the city! For all the protestations about the changes the Grand Prix has brought to Albert Park, the injection of sports, and thus the work on the world's growing obesity crisis, can only be good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Melbourne's Ghost Bike

An article in today's paper told me about the Ghost Bike that has 'materialised' in the heart of Melbourne, to mark the death of a cyclist a couple of months ago.

A bike, painted all white, is chained to the Three Businessmen. I popped down just now, to see the bike amidst the hustle and bustle of people going home from work, and the endless tourists in the Mall.

In September, when Carolyn Rawlins was killed riding her bike to work along Swanston Street, there was much talk about bike safety, and the safety of having big buses along the designated pedestrian street.

The idea that someone was killed on their way to work is just too awful.

Our office was effected by this tragedy a little more, as one of my colleagues knew one of the people on the bus that hit Ms Rawlins. This is a side that has not had any publicity, and one that the general public rarely thinks about. The fact that we deal with these people, and the impact of bad things happening at work day in and day out, makes this story even more tragic.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Intimate BookCrossing Meet Up

Last night I attended my first BookCrossing meet up in many months. We met at The Brandon, in Carlton, after a poll on the group site.

The Melbourne group has dropped off over the winter months, and last night it was a tiny dinner with Michelle, Megan and Andrew, Kris, and I.

The food, as always there, was great. I had the fish of the day, and an extra serve of veggies. Plus my mid week beer!

A couple of books were swapped, discussions about forthcoming BookCrossing events, past travel stories, and ways to bring people back to Meet Ups were all bantered around the table.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

INR and Phlebotomy

Yesterday on the way to work, I submitted myself again to my fortnightly blood test. This is to check my INR level, to ensure that I am within theraputic range, and thus, that my blood is coagulating less than the average person.

I have been going to Gribbles, at the Paris end of Collins Street, in the city. Occasionally I have been to the one closer to home, although I lost faith in them after a few vein misses....hate when they dig around!!

The two older ladies in Collins Street are such cuties, and they know my name now. They bustle about, and are always receptive to me taking the piss out of myself. Up for a chat, which is great, cos it distracts from the fact that they are coming at me with a needle, and draining me of blood on a regular basis.

My rate all depends on things like, how much vitamin K rich food I have had, how many beers I have had, whether I have any bruising.... Yesterday I was 2.1, they have called me today to tell me. All good. My dosing for the next fortnight stays the same each night, and I am good to go again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Burma Blogger

While this month we are all free and happy to blog away for NaBloPoMo, one blogger out there has been imprisoned for doing just that.

I stumbled upon Nay Phone Latt's story, through a breaking news story on The Age. A Burmese blogger, Nay Phone Latt, has been 'jailed for 20 years' according to the story, for posting a message about the regime in Burma.

Reportedly, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's party until his arrest, Nay Phone Latt had been missing for most of this year.

So hard to know what is the truth, coming out of such restricted places like Burma. But the mere thought of being jailed for years, let along 20, for blogging a story, a poem, or even - god forbid - opinion, is a very, very frightening one.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Empty House

Tonight I am sitting in an empty, echoy house, on one of the last remaining bits of furniture! Jane has just moved out in full, and it will be a week til Jenny will move in. Couch, dining room table, and my bedroom remaining...but nothing else!

I love this house, and the area, so when Jane decided it was time to move out to start planning for new things, I was keen to find a replacement. Also, given that I had offloaded most of my big and cumbersome belongings when I went off to the UK, I needed someone with a readymade house!

Jane and I have been here for a little over a year, although with her job, she hasn't really been here for many months in a row.

Jenny and I have lived together in London, in an awesome house, so things are set for another great houseshare experience. She also put me up when I was homeless here in Melbourne, so a tried and tested combination. Both having lived on our own, me for stretches recently, and Jen since she got back from London, there could be some settling in - but then January is bound to be the beginning of a fun year, with my not-so-graduated return to drinking!

Next weekend, a new chapter begins. Exciting times!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wedding of Dominica and Jason

Yesterday, we were treated to the fun and joy of Dominica and Jason's wedding. The ceremony was at the Melbourne Town Hall, and upon arrival we were directed to one of the balconies of the chambers, where the ceremony was held.

Meeting up with Dan as we walked in, Jane, Majid and I took our places, as we spotted Evie downstairs, camera ready. The groom took his place, and soon Dominica made her entrance - after a trail of little attendants, head fairy Jasmin, and her bridesmaids.

Dom and Jason were married by a celebrant, who also performed magic tricks, which added flair, and some symbolic touches throughout. They also had a sand bottle made during the service, by family from far and wide, as a symbol of their union of family.

After being presented with a very happy newly married couple, the gathered met outside amidst the busy Melbourne streets for a group photo - before boarding a red double decker bus for a trip down to St Kilda. Drinks and music filled the bus, as guests and bridal party mingled, with sunny Melbourne passing us by.

The bridal party had photos taken along the Brighton bath houses, as the wedding guests carried on with champagne, at the beach. The trip back to town was rowdy, with karaoke in full swing - lots of laughs!


The bus bought us to the Royal Botanical Gardens, where we wandered through to The Terrace for the reception. Drinks and canapes in the sun, on the shore of the lake with the city as our backdrop, before the bride and groom were ready to arrive. As we were seated, tabled shuffled, I was assigned my spot next to Amanthi, from Skipping Vinegar Girl.

Speeches, as were to be expected from our Dom, were long, funny and entertaining. The groom, and bride, so sweet - and Dom had written a song which she performed for Jason. Dancing and laughter filled the night, before many of the guests headed to The Deck for after wedding drinks.

What a gorgeous and fun day! Big special good wishes to Dom, Jason, and their Jasmin.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Walking To Work

I have started walking to work again, now that the leg is stable, and the weather is better. Starting from my bicycle path designated street, with it's green strip of grass all the way along, with massive palm trees all along, I walk past old Carlton terrace houses.

Then I reach Carlton Gardens, past the Melbourne Museum. This path leads through the little park before you reach the CBD - a little tranquil bit of green and peace before the madness of the city.

Onto the city streets, with the hustle and bustle of people going to and from work, meetings, and whatever else people are doing. Also amidst uni students rushing into class at RMIT, up near Swanston Street.

I cut into Swanston Street, passing the Library, and meander through the shopping and food area, before turning up Lonsdale Street, past Myer and Melbourne Central. Walking through the throngs of people, rushing to and from work, meetings, errands, and usually workmen at some point.

The incline up to Queen Street, and to my office building, comes just at the right time, before entering the false inside environment. A great walk in the morning, measured at just under 5kms - a grounding start to my day!

(Posted at posted time....but lost to internet gremlins, so fixed up after the big day had ended)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

80s Dancing Hen's

Last night was Dominica's Hen's night, on a school night with the wedding just a couple of days away. Guests from all over the world are in town, and her sisters had pulled off a secret plan for her special night.

Theme, according to the invite, was 80s dance gear. Jane and Evie, dressed in fluro and with hair teased, picked me up outside work, and we headed to the rendezvous park destination in St Kilda. The Hen had been dressed in 80s style bridal gear, with veil, white lace gloves, fluro yellow and black tights, and bright eyeshadow. Drinks and nibbles were served as the group of female wedding guests gathered, before we headed across the road and up a little alleyway.

Here we found the Glittery Tapping Wonderland dance studio! A little world of pink, bright colours, disco lights, and 80s music. Our group filed into the studio, as a group of young and excited dancers finished their jazz class.

An hour and a half of dancing ensued - a warm up, Wham!, moves to learn, Footloose, routines, Fame! Hilarious! Such fun! And a way to mingle your guests, and relive the adventures of the bride's, and many of our, growing up days.

After a hot and energised session in the cute, tucked away studio, we then let loose on Acland Street in our dressed up splendour! Drinks followed, when the Buck's met up with our group. Very cool to have the old Cambodia group together, with the four of us not being in the same city for several years!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Countdown to Xmas

Not usually a very Christmas-y person, I am looking forward to this one way more than I have looked forward to Xmas....probably since I discovered Santa wasn't real!

Of course, all going well, Xmas Eve is the day I can stop taking Warfarin, after six months of regular blood tests, watching what I eat or trying to eat consistantly (whatever that means!!), and of course no or minimal drinking, for my DVT treatment.

This tree, in Swanston Street near the Town Hall, has been up since the middle of last month, which is ridiculous! Earlier and earlier every year, Xmas stuff comes out! Next year it'll be the end of footy season...and then what?

But the more, and earlier the signs this year, the closer my normal life returns! Very happy with that!

I have such plans for my not-so-graduated return to drinking! Can't wait! I mean, next to sleeping, drinking would be my Olympic sport - I am actually quite good at it! Very scared, though, about whether I will be back to drinking like when I started drinking....a two pot screamer, and getting sick. Or will I jump to that easy, reckless drinking, where you can drink, drink, drink, and never get a hangover...I think I remember a few months of that! Or whether it will be back to the hideous hangovers of my twenties....please no! Bounce back to West Indies piss fitness would be my preference, to pick up where I left off!

Bring on Xmas Eve!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cash For Comment

Last night I earnt the easiest money I have made for quite some time! I attended a market research focus group to discuss banking, it's role in my life, and the image and perception of my bank. And was paid, and fed, for my opinion! Nice!

I had signed up to a couple of market research companies, after my sister seemed to get all these crazy gigs where she was paid to taste organge juice - or worse, alcopops! From the sign up I get a couple of emails here and there, but rarely for something that I fit the category for. Last year I did attend a one on one session, related to selecting to go Green on an energy bill....again, easy cash!

So I looked up the address I was provided, after RSVPing, and caught a tram out to St Kilda to join 5 others like me, in a focus group. Very laid back, although I did need to complete a homework task beforehand. We talked about why we all chose our particular bank, and what our perception was of it, and the others, in terms of services and image.

Pizza arrived, and then we got to sample new TV ad ideas, and provide feedback! How easy is this! A couple of funny ad ideas, and some cheesy ones - we as a group weeded them out, and told them how it was!

$150 for an hour and a half of chatting, and looking at idea boards! On reflection, it's interesting that a bank goes to the trouble of paying a company to pay 6 people to comment on ideas and image...I guess we'll see if our feedback is taken seriously, or the cheesy ads make it through to our lounge room viewing!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Long Way Round

Two weeks ago, during a couple of days off, I devoured the documentary series of Long Way Down...and loved it! Totally wow-ed by it! And inspired!

A fan of Ewan McGregor, for his good looks and hot Scottish accent, I had heard many good things about this series. Finally having the chance to sit and watch, I was totally blown away!

Ewan and Charley Boorman talk about riding across the world on the back of their motorbikes - and then make it happen. The series documents their planning and research, the visa processes and first aide training, as well as Ewan's first off road riding experience. And then the trip from London, across Europe, through Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and then over to Alaska, Canada and through the US to New York. An amazing trip!

The series takes you through the highs and lows, with a cameraman Claudio joining the two riders, plus their support crew in vehicles usually a day behind them. The lads also kept video diaries, so you could see them reflect on the day's riding, what was bugging them, and the very intimate homesickness experienced. Such an insight into these two guy's lives, such a treat.

Taking UNICEF as their targeted charity for the trip, the boys visit a children's centre in Keiv, amongst the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster. They also visit street children living in heating ducts of Russia.

The snapshot into the landscapes across these travels, breathtaking and so different at every point, just enhanced my wanderlust, and desire to get to Russia for a trip. Plus their encounter with the people along the way, from so many different cultural experiences - the friendliness, the characters, the exchange of vodka in the middle of nowhere, or finding a welder in a tiny town in Mongolia to repair one of the bikes. This series is one of those reminders of our humanity, and that we are all esentially the same, the world over.

Ewan had some pretty scary things happen along the way to him, and Charley looked like not finishing at one point, but despite these things, and a hundred other barriers, they got across. Quite inspired by Ewan and Charley's reflection on the seeming impasse in Mongolia, and also the trials and triumph of the Road of Bones...

So impressed!

Reminded me so much of one of my favourite travel experiences, in Cambodia. Dan, Nick, Rach and I, went out of Phnom Penh one weekend when we were living there for a dirtbike trip up to Prey Veng to visit Luke and Jane, with me riding on the back of Borin's bike. Through the jungle and sandy planes, through driving rain, and overcoming many, many breakdowns on the way - still one of my greatest travel memories.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bar Hopping for Bree's

Yesterday, after a very lazy Saturday, Nikki come over to cook dinner and host a get-ready party at mine! The beauty of working with people years younger than me is that I still get to play! As we put together tacos, Bec and Alissa joined us, to prepare for our night out.

Dressed and fed, and the girls had polished off get-ready drinks, I drove us over to Richmond to Holliava to meet Bree for her birthday drinks. Teaming with racing crowd, and other birthday gatherings, we found Bree and her mates after a short line up outside and a visit to the bar on arrival.

Later in the evening, we made a venue and neighbourhood changed, and managed a VIP entry into The Motel, in South Melbourne. Moving our way through the footballer crowd, onto the dance floor, we ended up spending the night grooving, and hanging out.

Amazed that I have managed such a big, late night on just the one beer! Scary! My drinking form better return when I am off the Wafarin! I don't really want to get used to coping with being alcohol reduced!

Today has been a recovery sleep in, before Yum Cha in Chinatown, and some retail therapy, amidst sunny, warm Melbourne streets!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wicked

Last night after a work drink, Kate, Mary and I headed to Wagamama's for dinner, preparing for a night at the theatre. We were joined by Nancy (with new baby ultrasound pics - very exciting!), and her friend Nat, and Vashali, for Japanese curry and dumplings.

Through the cold, windy streets of Melbourne, we walked back down to the beautiful Regent Theatre. Entering the amazing foyer, we made our way upstairs and were shown to our cushy seats, ready for Wicked.

The set was amazing and, as we waited for the show to start, we took in the map of Emerald City, and the huge clock face that made up the stage.

The story begins with celebrations that the Wicked Witch of the West is dead, and then Glinda the Good Witch is asked about the rumour that they were actually friends....and so the story is told of the two witches of Emerald City, before Dorothy arrived in the Wizard Of Oz.

Lots of puns about Ozians, and woven, clever references to the movie, the two leads were very strong. Anthony Callea and Rob Mills, of Australian Idol fame, were part of this production, with Millsy's talent really questionable for mine! Plus a replacement for Rob Guest, who passed away suddenly during this season, as the Wizard of Oz.

With messages about bullying, acceptance, and standing up for what you believe in, the show was engaging, even for someone like me who is not enthralled by all the singing and dancing!

The revelations about the origins of the Tin Man and the Lion were great! And sitting next to Mary, which is always an experience, who was totally in awe, was also a treat! Bless her!

A great show! Makes me want to go and hire the movie again.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nude Dude!

Last night I had a drink after work with Nude Dude! The newly proclaimed Melbourne Nude Dude ambassador, as his girlfriend, and my mate Stacey finished up at work.

In the mX the day before, Andrew was on the second page, nude, standing aloft the big purse in the Bourke Street Mall - stating that he loves getting nude, and that he celebrates his nakedness in public about 10 times a year!

He claims he was roped into this gig, after someone at work had asked for volunteers. All a bit of fun he thought, until he found himself standing on the purse sculpture at 8.30am, amidst tram and pedestrian commuter traffic! He also claims that his quotes in the article were taken way out of proprotion! So he says! He's a funny guy!

At work we had been laughing about it all day, after people had spotted Stacey's boyfriend in their free paper on the way home from work the previous evening, all part of a promotion for a website. And then he pops in to share my mid week beer (well, wine last night).

So sad to see Acey Stacey leave the company, but hopefully onto new adventures!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NaBloPoMo and WTBAY

This month I have joined up for NaBloPoMo - that's National Blog Posting Month. The challange is to post every day for a month, being November. Tough, but I am keen to see if I can!

Inspired by Jess and Nat in the past couple of years, I am going to make an attempt this year.

I have also joined the Where The Blog Are You? Aussie blogging community.

Will be interesting to see what both these sites do for traffic to my site. I have a tracker, which tells me when, and how, people find Jouljet. It also tells me the searches, like on Google, that has random people landing on a post. Pretty funny sometimes!

Some not so random people Googling themselves - busted! But, for example, todays top listed key search words that have led readers here are:

Anika Moa birthday
pitch invaders at the irish rules at the mcg (!!)
wally the basics (googling himself?? Hi Wally!!)
footy shorts (quite a bit of this going on! what's that about!! Hee hee)

It also tells me where people are from, which is cool to know people from all over happen to stumble over here. The most recent locations are:

Tokyo
Canberra
Melbourne
Auckland
Brisbane
Netherlands
Ballarat (Hi Andrea!)
New York (Hi Talia!)
Boston
Switzerland
Sofia, Bulgaria

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Melbourne Cup

Of all the years to be offered a free ticket in a box at Flemington for the Melbourne Cup, considering I have never actually been to the event before, it had to be this year. In my alcohol ban of 6 months! Michelle messaged me a couple of weeks ago checking what I was doing for the day, and would I like to be one of 6 people to go. Well, I couldn't not, could I!?

So finding a dress last weekend, and getting sprayed tan on Friday, I had my hair done early yesterday morning, at Masino, just around the corner. The car arrived to pick me up soon after, and I joined Michelle, Donna and Rebecca, before picking up Nicole on our way to the racetrack.

Michelle's uncle had tickets to his Hill Stand Corporate Suite going, and that's where we ended up. Joined by Ruth, we arrived into our private box, overlooking the racetrack just near the post, with sweeping views of the crowd below and the city aloft. Spectacular! After initial overcast skies, Melbourne put on bright blue cloudless scape, all sunshine....and wind!

We were offered champagne as we took in the view, and started studying the form guide. People watching below, and along the other boxes through within sight, the horses galloped past us.


Already feeling very spoilt, with personal drinks service topping up our glasses (tricky when you can only have two!), our lunch arrived....which was amazing! Fish, mussels, scallops, crab salad, racks of lamb, gnocci, veggies, and roast turkey and baby spuds....Mmmmmm!

Time for the 'Race That Stops A Nation', as the crowd below swelled, and the anthem was sung. Before long the horses were off, and the roar of the crowd as the group raced to the post was electric! The closest Melbourne Cup ever, the result went to a photo finish, with a tense few minutes while the million dollar race winner was declared. Viewed it was, and winnings were collected in our box.

We watched the next races complete, while sunburned and sore footed people below started emptying out. Being the designated driver made sure I would limit myself to my drink allowance, and made it fairly easy for us to get out of the area once we were done with our Cup experience for the day.

Such a special treat, being in the box, having food and drink delivered as we wanted it, and being so close to the action. Big thanks to Michelle, and of course Uncle Brad! We had such a great day!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In Swings The Tide

Last night, Nicole and I met for our second show at the Spiegletent after work, this time to see Anika Moa. First hearing her last month we were both inspired to come along for another show, this one being her album launch for In Swings The Tide.

Picking up our tickets, we had a snack in the alfresco bar area first, whilst other people lined up in the rainy Melbourne weather. Last night's full bill for the tent was a fundraiser for the Australians for Cambodian Education - all acts appeared for free, with proceeds of tickets going to the Happy School in Phnom Penh.

A short, cute intro before the gig, as we took our seats in a booth this time, showed details of the school in Cambodia and the story of how the fund got started. All set to a Khmer pop song, Every Breath by The Police, sung in Khmer.....took me back!

Anika was accompanied with bass and drums this time, and entertained the tent full of people with her disclaimers before the show - about her tendency to forget the words to her songs, and that while she may not sound very good, she's pretty, so we should all just concentrate on her face! She's funny! Totally self deprecating.

She played great tracks like Wise Men Say, Dreams In My Head, and Falling In Love Again. My Old Man, followed by Mother. A Fleetwood Mac cover, and title track to her new album. Youthful, another track she did, was so powerful and showed such vocal range.

Such a fresh, frank, funny entertainer, with great tracks and stories. Disappointing to hear that after moving over to Melbourne this year, she's heading back to her homeland, New Zealand, next month! Misses her family, she told the audience, no slight on our great city!!
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