Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Xmas and Boxing Day

After putting in some crazy hours to earn my time off between Xmas and New Years, Mum, Melissa and I had a fairly quite Xmas - with the other two girls chasing a White Xmas on the other side of the world.

It's really Day Zero of the test, anyway, right? At least until one of the girls makes me an auntie!

Melissa and I drove back down to Melbourne early on Boxing Day morning, and made our way to the cricket. Joining the Waving The Flag crew, here is where I was to be found for the last 4 days...well, for most of it! A couple of recovery sleep ins were required!!

The growing tradition of a sangria night at Mexicali Rose was added to, on Chick Pink Day - that could stick! Always so good!

Day 4 was Melissa's 30th birthday. A big day at the cricket - and not really referring to the match and Watto's century dramas. Special water, and dirty bubbly from the bar all day for the birthday girl, we were rowdy when stumps were called.

We made our way to the Cherry Tree for birthday drinks, where the rest of Melissa's entourage were awaiting to toast her birthday. An early closing time here led us on a search for a new bar - where we found the newly renovated Royal Saxon.

Faintly aware that we had a very early flight the next day, the evening got away from us as dusk arrived in the courtyard, and luckily we had some pizza ordered from the kitchen. Dianna produced a birthday cake, which led to a courtyard full of singing for Melissa.

A few more pub stops later, and a dirty food stop, ended my Boxing Day test for 2009, and Melissa arrived into her dirty 30s! Happy Birthday, kid!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'll Never....

So two big things have fallen into place all in the space of a week - two things I have said I would never, never do.

I have always said I would never move back to Ballarat. I got an offer on a rental property here in Ballarat, clearly meeting my quota of crappy places to see. My little miner's cottage is in central Ballarat, and has a name plate and all. Cute, let's say petite two bedroom place - so room for visitors.

I have also said I would never go back to study, after the gruel of full time work and finishing off a Masters last time. But here I am this week with a letter saying that the University of Melbourne are delighted to offer me a place in the Masters of Social Work.

So given this track record, I will go with the gods, or fate, or fate-spite and declare this: I will never marry a lovely, independently wealthy man who will allow me to never work again. Come on!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Xmas Casino Royale

Friday night was our work Xmas party, and having the theme of Casino Royale, the preparations led to discussions about fur, bling, beehives and poker! What else!

Arriving into the Southbank area after spending an hour at the hairdresser, Mary met me on the tram and we soon located the Queens Loft, under Kings Way. My hairdresser was loving my request for a beehive, and demands for more height. She fussed for so long....and I loved it!

Mary and I met up with many of the Melbourne girls, all in black, some white, and sparkles. For a couple of drinks I was the only colour in the room, before the Ballarat crew arrived!

The room was decked out with a roulette table, a blackjack and poker tables, with a patient and cheeky dealer at each, handing out play chips, and coaxing winning decisions, as we all drank, giggled and caught up over the night.

Not having a clue about card games (except blackjack after many drinks), and not really into gambling, my attention span for the games was limited. Everyone had such fun, and it was a great idea for the night's activities.
As the top money maker of the night was announced, and then our funny office awards were given out, I was awarded the Consultant with the craziest clients of the year. Ahhh, the memories of all those bizarre referrals!

After some dancing, the group soon made our collective way across the road to a bar in the real Casino. I have a vague memory of having to climb over a massive pot plant to skip walking the long way around to get into the Casion, by my General Manager and Regional Manager nonetheless....amazingly I don't actually remember how that happened....probably for the best!

More drinks in a bar at Crown, led to a very late dash to McDonald's, before the Regional girls headed back to their hotel room, and I hung out for a bit before getting a taxi home. What a great night, and a top way to finish off a very hard worked year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I made it back down to Melbourne after a crazy day of crisis, spray tan and rain, and traffic madness to meet Jenny at the Arts Centre and the little side theatre, Black Box. We were booked to see B.C., which caught our eye due to the casting inclusions.

Walking into the tiny room, and grabbed an unallocated seat, the crowd filing in were bemused by the young man sitting on stage, on a bench, messily eating fired chicken. Calling out sporadically, making strange comments and inane observations, Dylan Young played intellectually disabled and bird obsessed Gabriel.

Nicole De Silva, much loved Stella in Rush, played Mary, in a modernised Aussie neighbourhood Immaculate Conception story. Our love of Rush and Stella and Michael meet here, with Ashley Zukerman playing a wog Joseph - complete with tracksuit and accent of the 'hood. And very well done at that.

This portrayal of the bible story has themes ranging from coming of age, carer roles, cancer and sickness anxiety, family dysfunction, hinted incest, disability discrimiation, and a developing love story between our two main actors.

Funny, cringe worthy and heart warming all at once, the play left a feeling of distaste at the modern suburban existence...and yet faith also.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa Pub Crawl

I arrived at Naughton's yesterday, barely recognising the old uni haunt, and broke my personal rule of not drinking on my own, as I waited for my fellow pub crawl participants to arrive. Mary soon joined me, and when Melissa, Greg and Nick arrived, we ordered a pub lunch and pints to start the day.

Revisiting the pubs of my uni days was a bit of a let down, with Naughton's almost unrecognisable from those days, and The Clyde not open in time for us, the next on the Carlton North route was Percy's. We walked in, Santa hats adorned to the old man pub interior and some strange looks. Nick proposed that we were in Mafia territory as we were surrounded by old Carlton gang (and footy) photos on the walls.

Next was the Irish themed Pugg Mahones, after Greg and Nick finally submitting to the pressure of wearing santa hats for the day. A pot was had at one of the little tables in the back area, after having the front bar watch us walk through with stares.

Around the corner onto Nicholson Street was another old haunt of mine when I lived around here, the Clare Castle. Coming a long way since it's dingy interior provided cheap pub meals at poor student prices, this modernised pub has a coffee machine and cake counter! No! As we settled in for our pot, we decided we may have to double up here, so that we could get a listen to the band warming up. The hippy look, strange tuning sounds, and our giggly anticipation were met by Amy and Tammany, and foam snow covered Meggsy. As the band started all our predictions came true, and we downed our pot and fled...much to the horror of the apparently diehard fans of the Songwriters Guild. Oops!

Getting to the Rathdowne Tavern we were joined by elves, a candy-cane wielding Robbie, and a Santa-suited Springer. Greg and I discovered the strange bathroom water feature, before we moved on to the Dan O'Connell, and were joined by more festive people for the festive rounds.

Drinking in the front bar of The Brandon, James joined us, who I haven't seen since his big overseas adventures. We negotiated a quick stop at The Kent, who were wary of a big, rowdy group, assuring them we were just there for one, amid their Xmas lunching crowd.

Our first bonus stop on route was Gerald's Bar, a much recommended spot, just around the corner from home, and never visited. With the sun shining through the lace curtains at the front window, our round was a brew out of a very tall beer bottle....of which I have no recollection of the name!

The Rising Sun, which is actually a wine bar called Enoteca now, would not have a bar of us, and as I dared to wander in to use the facilities, I was chased in and out by the staff. Hmmm.

Decking out a long outside table in the barmy dusk Melbourne night at The Great Northern, our group paused here for our pot and a much needed feed. Great food at one of my favorite pubs, and one of my locals for the last 2 years. This is actually the end of the route, but there were a few more stops begging for our attention, and our thirst, in the area!

Walking along Pigdon Street our large group accosted a passer by to take a funny, large group photo, before we visited Bar Nothing. Here, with their 6 cocktails for $20 special, we had a round of sweet pink Sandra Sully's, and were then transported back to the late 90s with a Fruit Tingle. This bar is very cute, rustic, and again, another great bar so close to my house, and yet not visited until now.

Rounding out our Santa pub crawl at The Empress for one last, tired beer, this is the end of my crazy drinking year! Such fun! So many great drinking places found around Melbourne, through the Project 2009 and the many pub crawls of the year. I have certainly made up for last year's forced sobriety!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jersey Boys

Before Katie heads off to the other side of the world to have Xmas with Jessie, Melissa thought that we could all get together as a little family, as Mum's Xmas present, and see Jersey Boys. The actual event was to be a surprise for Mum, and amid her protests and proclimations of all the things she wouldn't like, Melissa struck a winner with this one.

Driving down in the belting and sudden rain, we met Melissa at my house, and had her lovingly prepared dinner. Bless her! Risotto and wine, and strawberries dipped in chocolate, this served as our family Xmas meal, bon bon popping included.

We found a dream park not far from the Princess' Theatre, and between rain showers, made our way inside and to our seats.

The story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Opening with a French version of Oh What A Night, and the announcement that this track was Number 1 (in France) in 2000, all these years after the boom of The Four Seasons, we are then taken back to the beginning and the discovery of Francis' voice, Bob Gaudio's songwriting, and the path to fame and chart topping hits. The stage show also takes you behind the scenes, and tells the stories behind the men, their mistakes and trouble they find themselves in, and the battles this leads within the group.

Breaking through to the charts, and before us on the stage, with Sherry, the show led us through the different starts and formations of the band, and then their big hits like Walk Like A Man, and Can't Take My Eyes Off You.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Boroughs

Sunday Nicole and I ventured out to be what was billed as a New York City inspired music celebration, with Aussie music talent, billed as The Boroughs. Following a map, and making my way into the wasteland that seems to be the Docklands area at the top of the city grid, finding deadend and unended streets, and other people wandering around lost, I finally made it to the waters edge...and heard music. If it wasn't for the first act breaking the tranquil silence of the dock, I may never have found Shed 4 along North Wharf Road (which doesn't exist in reality!).

Being a surprise hot day amidst a fairly mild week, as we walked into the massise shed we were met with the stifling heat of the enclosed space. The fumes of graffiti art in progress, we walked into the small area utilised for the event, decked out in shipping countainers. Wilfred Jackal were playing to a small gathering, in the small space in front of the stage. Setting the flavour of indie bands, and lads in skinny jeans, the male dominated bill carried on to The Hello Morning, who were probably my pick of the bands I hadn't heard before for the day.

Nicole and I walked around the little event, grabbing some tokens for drinks, and walking through the handful of stalls of records and art. We ventured past the skater ramp down the back, and then returned to the stage area for the Frowning Clouds. Haning seen them last weekend, I was looking forward to hearing them again. The Beatles inspired sounds and looks got the crowd up and dancing in no time, as this little Geelong talent engaged the crowd and harmonised our ears.

We popped outside for an air break between sets (to the smokers haven in the sun), and had the wood fire pizza on offer as the fare of the day, before listening to Bachelor of Arts and then the Hot Little Hands. One miss, one hit....

Miami Horror, which packed out the crowd, and really had full participation. This is one of the times I realise that I just don't listen to the radio, and thus, don't always know what the kids today are listening to! Ha!

But the next demonstration of that was the arrival of Yves Klein Blue on stage - my, haven't these lads become insanely popular since their album launch! The crowd went crazy, and knew all their big tracks.

Released tracks like Make Up Your Mind, were backed up by album and EP gems like Summer Sheets, and Silence Is Distance. The restless and obnoixous and drunk crowd soon demanded (actually shouted out) that they play something they knew! The boys responded with Getting Wise, dedicated Soilder to all the young men in the crowd, before their signature Polka rounded out the awesome set, to full crowd voice participation.

Newly crowned ARIA winner, and only female artist on the bill, Bertie Blackman headlined to the packed little space, adorned with full monk cape for her set. Opening with Sky Is Falling, here it was more evident to me that the sound in this cavernous venue was echoy, and Bertie trying to counteract the space, which sadly led to her rasping her voice through the beautiful White Owl.

Bringing sexy back, Bertie played Come To Bed and Lust And Found, chatting to the audience between tracks. She talked about the cape as her prop for Byrds Of Prey, and pulled out her cover of Phil Collins' Something In The Air. Amazing. Thump was a sensation, and why she has that pointly little award in her possession this year, before she rounded out with a dedication to seeing Fleetwood Mac this week, with a cover of Thunder Only Happens When Its Raining.

The event in theory is a good one, but the location and venue itself, with the sound and heat and underutilised space was disappointing. Being on a Sunday was also a weird choice. But admitttedly, during the day we were unsure of The Boroughs, the last two acts made the day for us, and thus this little indie gig concept will surely grow from this beginning.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Passports with Purpose

Reading about Caitlin's contribution of 2 awesome prizes to the Passports With Purpose fundraiser, I have discovered a cause that must have the word spread! Passports With Purpose are raising funds to build a school in rural Cambodia, something I am very much passionate about.

Passports With Purpose are a group of travel bloggers around the world, putting their blogs and readership's attention to worthy use!

Passports with Purpose

Looking at the details of the American Assistance for Cambodia (AAfC)/ Japan Relief for Cambodia (JRfC), they have managed to assist many villiages in rural Cambodia so far, with the map littered with the individual school, and personal accounts of the positive impact this has had to teachers, students, and the community.

They have almost met their fundraising target, however there are many additions that can be contributed to a small community, that will bring education, and empowerment to the children in villages. $10US will get you an entry into the raffle, of some very impressive prizes. So jump over, pledge a donation, maybe win a great prize, but more importantly, make a different in a Khmer communities lives and future.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Howling Bells

Making my way to The Corner Hotel, I met Maria and Gina inside the venue in time for a beverage and to catch the second act of the evening. Three piece Canvas Kites arrived on the side stage, and played their indie rock tracks, to an engaged audience. Mary arrived during this set, and we all enjoyed the Kites' Wayside, intense drumming, and a new little band discovery with potential.

We then made our way to the front area of the main stage, in preparation for the start of the Howling Bells, to a not quite full bandroom. An Aussie band who now call London home.

A couple of tracks in, Low Happening really starting the evening, with the crowd responding. Juanita was so enchanting in her London style sequined top, chatting and joking with the crowd, and dancing with her bandmates. And her voice is just amazing!

A Ballad For The Bleeding Hearts and Setting Sun featured, and Broken Bones was amazing, and the song that stuck in my head for the rest of the night.

Nightingale had the crowd contributing to the percussion, and Treasure Hunt was a clear favorite. The band's reproduction of their album sound was near perfect, and really impressed.

A one track encore left the droud wanting more, and would surely ensure a sold out gig next times these guys are in town.
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