Recently clicked on MP3s - 7th June 2005 The Lucksmiths - Warmer Corners
Jens Lekman - When i said i wanted to be your dog
The Trashcan Sinatras - Weightlifting
Teenage Fanclub - Man Made
Laura Veirs - Carbon Glacier
The Decemberists - Picaresque
The Eels - Blinking Lights
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
5:57 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Things are afoot.
The lease on the pleasant flat i've been sharing in pleasant Clifton Hill is coming to an end this weekend, rather unpleasantly forcing me out of the easy routine i've been in for the last few months. And a week after that, my financially pleasant job is coming to an end too. All of which is a bit of a shock to the system, and has forced me to actually think about what the hell i'm doing next.
My answer to the accommodation conundrum is to move in for a week with my ex girlfriend, and current friend and Yoga teacher, Megan. The other option was a room above a cafe, run by the wife of a work friend, Frank (The nearest person to Confucious alive today), but the idea of challenging, intelligent, philosophical debate (arguments about what to watch on telly) and free rent swung the vote in Megan's favour (If you're reading this - that was a joke, and i'm sorry, and yes i'll paint the bloody ceiling to make up for it, ok?)
To fill the gaping void left by work, i've decided to head up to Queensland for three weeks (coincidentally just like Megan is), and knock around a bit on beaches. I was going to do a rather bad-ass two week bike trek through the outback, but irritatingly, the only date i could make has been cancelled, and in any rate, the last three weeks of watching the Tour de France till 2am every night has left me exhausted, so maybe i should build up a bit first, before actually doing a Tour de Desert myself. (I've not actually sat on a bike for the last 8 months :o( - Dave & Rob are you listening? I'm going to be coming back, slightly less than in shape, but hungry for bicycle based combat!)
After i've completed my punishing three week course of books, body boarding and [Insert glamourous sounding activity starting with a B here], i'm intending to head pretty much straight onto Japan, for a week or so, or however long it takes me to climb Mount Fuji - before proceeding home for the wedding of Mr Cat and Mrs Clare! I need to rearrange a few flight details to make it all happen, but fingers crossed i'll be touching down in Blighty at some point in mid September.
There remains a rather large doubt in my brain about what to do after the wedding, but i'll not go into any of that, as i've been umming and arrring about it for weeks now, and i've bored myself with weighing up the options, so i dread to think how tedious it's been for people within earshot of me. Not to mention i'm starting to feel a bit sad lurking around here in the corner of E55 * now, so i'll be off home to start packing for the weekend, as i'm busy for the rest of the week with Ursula's leaving do on Friday night, and The Go! Team at the Corner Hotel tomorrow night.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [* An aside about E55.
It's an interesting place this, and many things to many people.
You could say it's a pleasant, city centre basment bar, with traditional (for Melbourne) battered but comfy 80s sofas, wonderfully subdued lighting, good beers (they've got Cooper's Red - you don't need anything else) and jaunty, dancy type tunes on, if a little loud at times.
75% of the place is given over to good looking hipsters, flopping around on the sofas, discussing the issues of the day, laughing, joking and generally making merry.
20% of it is an internet caff, where backpackers are busy composing emails to loved ones, catching up on the football results or searching for funstuff to do in Melbourne.
The final 5% is taken over by shadowy figures, sat in the armchairs in the corner, next to the ancient table top arcade machine, taking advantage of the free (if you buy a drink), highspeed, wireless internet connection available with their laptops.
They seem like nice sorts, but are often alone, and staring earnestly at their machines, typing away like demons, whilst everyone else around them is being a bit more sociable.
Which group am i currently in? Bah! You guessed... but I promise the laptop isn't coming with me to Queensland :o) ]
10:54 am Friday, June 24, 2005
Oooh, it's late and i'm sleepy, but if i don't write anything now, then it'll no doubt be ages before i get round to it again, so i'll try and have a go, before heading off to curl up in my freezing cold, yes that's freezing cold, bedroom...
Melbourne really is a great city, and walking through the centre tonight, on the way to meet up with some chums for a Kill Bill Double bill at the Astor, i was vibe-ing off it in a big way (Vibe-ing! Did i really just write that? I promise to change it when i come up with a better word).
All the shops stay open late on Fridays in Australia, and as a result the city centre is alive, not only with people getting the hell out of work and going for a few drinks, but with shoppers, gangs of kids hanging around (goths were particularly well represented tonight), protestors signing people up to various petitions, no end of buskers - guitars, didges and, best of all, a man in a space suit playing a theremin on Swanston st, and amongst all of this, the rush hour traffic, trams and pedestrians all fighting it out for supremacy on the roads - HonkHonk! DingDing! ClackaClackaClacka! (Cars, Trams, and Crossing signals respectively). The one upside of the cold, dark winter nights is that the city centre back drop to all of these goings on, is turned into a massive light show - skyscrapers are usually coloured blue, with fetching red neon trim and even cranes on the new towers being built get lit up like Xmas trees too.
I've not really been up to anything of major consequence lately, unless i'm forgetting something, which is quite possible, but despite just cruising along in a little routine of work, Spanish lessons, perfecting my fudge brownie recipe, going for the odd run, the odd booze up and spending the odd day rolling around in hungover agony, moaning about my brain-ache, while watching the full four hours of a Tour de France dvd, er, i'm pretty happy. And to be honest i'm not entirely looking forward to my little routine coming to an end in a month's time, when my job ends, and i'll have to come up with a plan for what to do, and where to go next.
The current idea pencilled into my brain is to go for a two week bike ride through the desert, from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy, as you do, then come back to the UK for a few weeks, for C&C's wedding, and fly back out to Australia till my visa ends in February next year. But my ideas are fairly liquid at the best of times, so who knows really. E.g. I got chatting to Steve, from my Spanish classes the other day, and he said he's off to East Timor to do some voluntary work for a few weeks soon, which sounds like a great thing to do, although my only fear is whether or not East Timor is actually crying out for ASP driven websites and fudge brownies? (My current skill set)
Oh, well, i'll worry about that later, as now i need sleep, for on the morrow, Megan and I will be donning several layers of thermal underwear, and heading south to Phillip Island for a weekend of sun, sea, sand and penguins. And as Pingu would say, Maaaaack! Maaaaaack!
4:09 pm Thursday, June 09, 2005
Last Saturday morning I was sat on the sofa, aimlessly surfing the internet, much as I am now, when out of the blue came a phone call from my old Christchurch mate Kim, and what was going to be a pleasant, if run of the mill weekend, instantly became 10x more fun-er.
Kim is possibly the ultimate Australian - an expert surfer, fearless of snakes, mates with Steve Irwin (no really), laid back and positive at all times, he's about to purchase a Yute and is always up for a bit of a walkabout. So before I knew it, a road trip to the Mornington peninsula, south of Melbourne was organised, a rather swish Toyota Camry was hired at a bargain price, the ingredients for a barbecue were purchased and Kim, Ursula (His Mrs) and I were on the road, with Midnight Oil blaring on the stereo (Oh, ok it wasn't blaring, it was actually being played at moderate volume, for ease of conversation. But that doesn't sound quite as good does it?)
The first stop was for the lunchtime barbie, in one of the little coastal towns on the way south. Amazingly enough, it was only my second one on Australian soil, very slack of me, considering i've been here for four months now, and that free, electric, communal barbies like the one we used, are provided all over the place. Oddly, the Aussies don't seem to be purists about their barbies, with electric and gas ones more popular than the charcoal briquette style (according to my unextensive research on the subject) - I suppose they must subscribe to the Hank Hill, 'taste the meat - not the heat' school of thought.
Anyway, 2 chick pea burgers, 4 veggie sausages, 2 teriyaki chicken kebabs, an avocado and a bottle of ginger beer later, we were off again, on the way down through Rosebud, Sorrento and then Portsea, which sits right at the lip of Port Philip bay, an excellent spot to hike out to, and 'sit on the dock of the bay, watching all the ships coming in, and then going back out again'. Unsurprisingly, Parks Victoria, had already realised the potential of this spot, and hence charge a hefty fee to get in there, and hence we buggered off to the free and even nicer (i'm sure) beaches on the south coast of the peninsula.
The cool and blustery conditions made it seem more like a wander along a nice part of the Lincolnshire coast, than your average sun kissed Aussie beach, and our beach activities were similary English too. Rather than surfing and swimming, we went poking around in rock pools, played with sea weed and dug up some buried treasure (a golf ball and assorted bits of fishing tackle) that Kim buried there years earlier!
It's not the best area for swimming anyway, as Harold Holt, ex prime minister of Australia could testify, if he hadn't drowned there that is, whilst he was serving PM of Australia in 1967. (My friend Michael's local pool while growing up was (really) the Harold Holt memorial swimming pool - nice touch Australia! PS - That joke c/o Bill Bryson)
Barbeques, excellent company and relaxing wanders on gorgeous beaches would have been enough for the day, but the Mornington peninsula is packed full of little wineries, so a quick stop off to sample some regional booze was arranged. I presumed it would be a cheap way to get a quick slurp of several nice wines, and get pleasantly boozy for a snoozy sunset cruise-y back to town, in the back seat of a plush motor. Er, and it was, apart from the cheap part.
The tasting itself was a bargain at two dollars, with spitting buckets for connoseuirs / idiots, but the folk at Willow Creek winery know their stuff when it comes to wine, and most likely realise the fact that hapless fools with a few sniffs of booze in their heads, and a fifty dollars in their pockets can easily be persuaded to buy a bottle of the sumptuous 2002 Pinot Noir, not to mention the cheeky Muscat desert wine too. Which is predictably what happened to both Kim and myself. As they're the two most expensive wines i've ever purchased, i'm going to attempt to hang onto them for a while, but i suppose backpacking isn't the ideal time to start building up an extensive cellar of fine wines, so they could both end up getting battered the next time I have a bad day at work.
Speaking of which, I may well do tomorrow, if i don't get off to bed soon. So i'll leave you with some pics of beach based horseplay, and wish you well x
12:30 am Saturday, May 21, 2005
And now here's Alan with the sport.
First up, Athletics. The big race of the past week (er, make that month, due a slight delay in getting this post finished off) was the Great Ocean Road Half Marathon, which completely overshadowed it's full marathon big brother, due to the thrilling tussle between the two Kenyan favourites for the race, and the plucky qualifier, Mark Edward. Yes! For the first thirty seconds of the race, the young English lad could actually SEE! the well fancied Africans!! Sadly they then disappeared around a headland, and he couldn't keep up with their pace any longer, eventually trailing in about an hour after them, to wild applause from the locals of Apollo Bay, which he classily acknowledged by collapsing onto the nearest bit of grass to the finish line.
Amazingly i managed to keep up this peak form two weeks later, when I competed in the 'Run to the G', a 10k race through the streets of Melbourne, starting and finishing outside the MCG. I am now officially the 1102nd best 10k runner in town, yeah!
Full photo coverage of the events follows:
Early on in the GOR Half Marathon. For some reason i'm smiling as I run over the top of one of the big climbs, probably meaning i wasn't trying hard enough.
Somehow i still managed to smile at the finish, despite the severe hair loss that ocurred during the race. Looking back it may have been something to do with sighting the people handing out free bottles of Emma & Tom's Life juice just over the finish line
Sadly the photo coverage of the 'Run to the G' wasn't quite of such high quality (the 4500 odd other people running got in the way a little, so there's only a picture of me grimacing in the distance, and one of my elbow looking relieved to have just finished). Also, the people who took the pics have made it irritatingly hard to pinch them from their website, so i'll spare you the horror of those ones, but here's a link if you're into exhausted looking elbows (Look for the album starting at 0.51.21.63, and the pics run_to_the_G_2468.jpg, run_to_the_G_2469.jpg and run_to_the_G_2471.jpg)
Download a DB of the GOR Half marathon results here Read and weep over the Run to the G results here (when The Age pulls it's finger out and puts them up)
10:53 am Thursday, May 12, 2005
Due to skipping my Spanish class tonight at the excellent El Patio, (as i've not done my homework, and I only got four hours sleep last night) I'm currently experiencing my first bit of spare time for a week or so.
I've been meaning to write an update for ages, but currently the idea of an early night is much more inviting than grinding out a load of guff on here.
However, as my favourite on-line diarists (1,2,3&4)have all been in action lately, and i feel inspired to have a brief natter before i go and bury myself under lots of blankets and sleeping bags, to fend off the almost nippy Melbourne winter (It's supposed to go down to 9c tonight - harsh!)
Numerous factors have contributed to my current levels of busy-ness, mostly of my own choosing, and mostly very enjoyable.
Firstly, my training is coming to a head this weekend with the Great Ocean Road Half Marathon. I've switched from the Canberra Half Marathon, as the Great Ocean Road is a lot nearer to Melbourne and an awful lot nicerer. The motivation for the Canberra Half Marathon was to run with Michael, my old flatmate, but since he piked out, citing "wanting to spend time with his daughter Phoebe, instead of slogging through endless miles of lonely, exhausting, painful training, constantly watching for deadly brown snakes", or some such made up piffle, i thought i may as well stay local for my half.
The GOR, recently.
I finished my last training run on Monday night, so since then i've been treating myself to a week of very restful Euroculture. Tuesday night was spent at Manchester Lane in the city, with Jude and Allison, enjoying the charms of Swedish-Indie-Ukelele-Folk god head, Jens Lekman.
A couple of Swedes i met while in NZ had sung his praises, so i was looking forward to seeing him supporting Darren Hanlon at the Northcote Social last weekend. This wasn't to be however, as Jude, and the tickets, were a tad late arriving. I'm not really in a position to slag people off for being late, so I restrained my self to a brief whinge when she finally turned up in time for us to catch Jens' last song of the night. Five minutes of his wonderful voice, ukelele and flat cap were more than enough though, to persuade us to get down to his own show this week too.
An unexpected bonus was Architecture in Helsinki supporting him. I didn't recognise them at first, and their choice of performing covers of songs none of them had practiced together before, initially made them seem like a band that had great taste in music and really good voices, but that needed to get their shit together a bit. It wasn't until they were playing a really good version of an Architecture In Helsinki song, with uncannily accurate vocals, that i began to suspect they may actually be Architecture In Helsinki.
I'd love to write more about the Jens Lekman & Darren Hanlon gigs, but I don't really have the music critic vocabulary, or energy to do them justice right now. But they were both magical in their own ways - I don't think there was a single person whose face didn't hurt from smiling at the end of the DH show. And for the hour or so of the JL gig, he had the hundred or so people present as enthralled as a bunch of kids being read Charlie and the Chocolate factory for the first time.
Wednesday night was spent watching four hours of French New wave cinema, at the ACMI (as you do). It was a double bill of Eric Rohmer films, "Claire's Knee", and "A Tale Of Springtime". "Claire's Knee" in particular was wonderful, despite some slightly ropy acting. By the end of the New-Wave-Ponce-a-thon though, I was starting to suffer from cramp quite badly, and was feeling the urge to rush home and watch Predator 2 quite badly. But only after dishing out a savage beating the two luvvie tosspots sat behind me, who insisted on going, "Ah-Mwahha", or, "Mmmm-flahh" at every ironic comment included in the the films - they were indeed amusing at times - BUT IT WASN'T EXACTLY AIRPLANE YOU FUCKING TWATS!
In other news, i've got a job, and maybe even some money soon too. Hence all this leaving the house malarkey.
And one final thought for the day - If your considering purchasing a Sony DSC-P120 digital camera, and having it break on you in a far off country, i'd allow for a good two months of arguing with Sony Australia, Sony UK, Jessops and the Offical Sony Repair people in Australia for the initial estimate stage to be completed. The process of repairing it, and getting someone to actually honour the extended warranty i shelled out for is just about to begin - I'd guess another 3 months for that part.
At least you're all safe from my photography for a while....
12:56 pm Friday, April 29, 2005
"He's as tough as a '65 Yute!"
A real quoute heard on Australian TV while watching Carlton Vs Hawthorn tonight.
2:17 pm Sunday, April 10, 2005
Time for an update on the day to day life of a poor immigrant in Melbourne.
It'd be nice to contine the high drama and excitement of all my previous posts, but life's settled down to a bit more of a routine these days, partly due to the fact i'm now working from home (making websites do stuff), and partly due to me being skint.
Fear not though, i'm keeping busy. My training for the Canberra Half marathon is in full swing, and i've now got a couple of fairly painful 15k runs under my belt - four laps around Melbourne's most popular running circuit, the 'Tan track'. Last night's was particularly harrowing. After 30C+ temperatures all day, i decided to leave the run till it got dark at about 7pm, like dozens of other people as it turned out. But temperatures must still have been over 20C even at that time, which combined with an overfast first lap, left me with the feeling that my head was internally microwaving itself for the next hour.
There was distraction provided during the run however, by the abundant wildlife around the botanical gardens. At night the trees there are alive with bats, parrots and possums chomping their way through as much fruit at possible. A few of the possums got particularly lairy at times, and attempted to join in with my run, before thinking better of it, and charging back up the nearest tree.
But it's not all running happily. There's plenty of free culture to be had around Melbourne, partly thanks to the ever excellent SBS telly channel, 3RRR community radio station, free Art galleries in Federation square, endless amounts of stencil graffiti and finally, courtesy of Megan's insider knowledge of the highly enjoyable Werribee Park Sculpture Competition we managed to get a slight discount on the price of entry today (I'd say more, but don't want to leave myself open to prosecution by irate sculptors).
I've made up for this however, by buying one of the exhibits, which is now installed in my flat, and in which I do 10 lengths every morning.
2:37 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Hello, Good Evening & Welcome to a painfully overdue description of what i've been up to for the last yonk or two.
Sorry it’s been so ridiculously long since i’ve been in touch, via this website, and not to mention via email and phone… It’s stupid I know, but the longer I left it, and the more I had to talk about, the more daunting the idea of a major write up of what i’ve been doing became, and so the more I put it off, and hence I carried on doing more stuff I in the meantime, and again the more daunting getting in touch with people became. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I feel particularly crap, as I’ve had numerous nice emails from people lately, and I’ve given no love back in return – well, I can assure you, the love is about to commence flowing once more (In the form of me banging on about what animals I’ve seen lately, and amateurish photography).
The savage nature of Australian wildlife is evident, even in the middle of town
Things have moved on quite a bit recently, and i'm currently writing to you from my small but perfectly formed flat in Clifton Hill. It's a fairly sleepy suburb of Melbourne, but is still near enough to the city centre, and the more happening areas like Collingwood, Richmond and Fitzroy to stop you getting bored, or having to ride the train for longer than 10 minutes to get to where it’s at.
While not being the throbbing heart of Melbourne life, Clifton Hill does have it's own little attractions, Cafe Quince looks like a nice place, but I still have to work out how to pronounce it, let alone try their Long Blacks - is it 'Kin-say' like the Spanish for fifteen, or 'Kwince' like the obscure fruit? Who knows, i'll just have to pop in later, and pay up for my coffee and pronunciation advice. [Subsequent research has discovered that it’s pronounced Kwince, and that they sell very nice Russian Caravan tea, if you’re into that sort of thing]
We've also got the mighty Yarra Bend park at the end of my road. It's a massive area of wild looking Australian bush, full of sweet smelling Eucalyptus trees, hundreds of whopping great Fruit bats and, according to the signs there, snakes too... happily something i've managed to avoid treading on thus far in Australia. It's ideal for running in too, which is handy, as i'm hoping to take part in the Canberra half marathon in 6 weeks time, barring any training incidents involving brown snakes.
Finding my little niche in Melbourne was definitely easier said than done, I must have visited 10 places before finally settling for my current home. They ranged from dingy warehouses, sharing with - people from Nottingham - eeeuww!- to swank pads with balconies, located next to the possibly the coolest street in Melbourne (Brunswick Street) where i'd have been living with unbearable TV exec tosspots, who 'needed' a cleaner to prevent arguments over whose turn it was to clean the bath.
It was definitely worth the wait though, as Allison my flatmate is possibly Australia's easiest going person (And she's got some fairly tough competition for that title too). Despite a patchy CD collection (Good: Human League. Bad: Snap. Ugly: Londonbeat) she has earned my endless gratitude, after having a broadband internet connection installed, at a discount rate, thanks to her employer Optus. Hurrah!
The weather has sorted itself out again now (if i wasn't in the shade, my laptop would be in danger of melting), but for the two days after i arrived, it rained solidly, setting new records for rainfall, and the coldest temperatures ever on record in Melbourne in February. Annoyingly i couldn't get down to Bell's beach to check, but more than one person has suggested that it was the 50 year storm featured at the end of Point Break.
After loitering around for a week or so when I arrived here (in early February), spending far too much money in the numerous and wonderful Brunswick street bars, I hit the road with Swiss Alex, and headed down the Great Ocean road (Passing a fairly placid Bell's Beach) to check out the 12 Apostles and the Grampian mountains, before he carried on to Adelaide, and I headed off to Canberra. It was great to get out into a bit of the real Australia, and we saw some incredible Aboriginal cave paintings, as well as plenty of classic Aussie fauna along the way - sleepy Koalas perched in trees in the Otway NP, Emus galloping along next to the road, and best of all, more Kangaroos and Possums than you could shake a boomerang at in our campsite in the Grampians. Two slightly less welcome visitors were the enormous Huntsmen spiders i discovered underneath my tent in the morning. Apparently they're harmless, but you wouldn't have guessed that from looking at them, hence they were treated with a great deal of respect, and were sent on their way using an extremely long stick.
Kangaroos are considered vermin in Switzerland, and are shot on sight. Luckily I managed to save this one before Alex got to it with his Swiss Army machete
Since then i've had various little trips here and there but have mainly been based in Melbourne, plugging away at the flat and job hunting, which seemed to take forever, and which is actually still ongoing as far as the job part goes. Humph.
As well as the Great Ocean Road trip, i've been over to visit Michael my old NZ flatmate in Canberra, a city seemingly based around a series of concentric roundabouts, which is as confusing as you'd think it is. Everyone who i've spoken to who's been to Canberra moaned that it's boring and you get lost all the time, and i attempted to avoid spouting those same old cliches when I went there. But, on my first trip into town driving towards the town centre, i managed to end up on a highway to Adelaide (i think), and then after finally getting into the town centre to have a look around, i completely failed to find my way back to the multi storey car park where i'd parked, and had to phone Michael to look up my location in his A-Z, and talk me back to the car. The inevitable also happened on the drive back to Michael's place too...
Having said all that, Canberra seemed like an very amiable sort of place, with lots of impressive monuments, museums, galleries and with plenty of Bush nearby. There was at least one good bar too.
After Canberra we headed down to Sydney for a week, staying at the lovely, but slightly vacuous, Coogee beach in a hostel which was chock full of young, English backpackers with nothing more on their agenda than getting pissed, eating McDonalds and playing half an hours football on the beach in the afternoon. Cue lots of 'real' traveller grumblings from me, but, thinking about it, at their age i was working in a McDonalds and busy failing degrees (because of being pissed), so in fact they've probably got life the right way around.
Sydney didn't really seem like my kind of town, it was a bit too fast moving, and pretentious in a London-y kind of way, especially when compared to Melbourne. But, the weather was constantly perfect, and never being far from a gorgeous beach, filled with gorgeous people (who have often just been stung by, a gorgeous bluebottle jellyfish) does have its attractions too.
Despite living on a continent where sunshine is available 365 days a year, my rambling urges managed to lead me to a place where it was possible to have a snowball fight in the middle of summer - Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest mountain at 2,228m. I was part of a multi-national team, including an local Australian guide (Michael), a highly experienced Scottish climber (Jo) and a highly entertaining American expert-in-everything (Ralph). We were attempting to summit via the notoriously treacherous 'chair lift' route, many woolly hats and improperly attached skis have been lost while climbing the mountain via this route, so we all had to keep out wits about us and bags tightly zipped up.
Thankfully we all got to the top in one piece, and managed not to drop anything on the way up. Shockingly we still had to walk several kilometres to the actual summit, but the views out into the surrounding mountains of the 'Great Dividing Range' were well worth the tiresome physical effort we had to put in to get to the top. [Judging from the levels of sarcasm in the previous two paragraphs, you may guess that i'd have preferred to walk all the way up. And, if i hadn't twice forgotten key items of rambling equipment, and had to go back to our chalet for them, we might actually have had time to do that too...Dur. As it was, we still managed a fairly high speed, all action ramble to the top, and then along some cloud swirled ridges to a high mountain lake, for a brie and soda bread lunch. Marvellous!]
The highest spot on the continent!
I've done plenty of other stuff since i've been here, but it mainly involves pubs, so i won't go into too much detail. Suffice to say, Melbourne knows how to do pubs properly. Particularly around Brunswick Street and Smith Street virtually every single pub (or usually Hotel over here) i've been to would be my favourite if it was in Leicester. I'm not 100% sure what makes them so good, but scruffy and homely decor, relaxed lighting, tasty beer & food all go some way to making them wonderful. Not to mention the scruffy, homely, relaxed and tasty clientele inside them too.
Current hot tips include, The Lambs go Bar (Bad pun good pub, Collingwood), The Terminus (Richmond), The G.B. Hotel (Richmond), The Union Club Hotel (Collingwood), Bar Open (Fitzroy), The Cape (Fitzroy) and the Gin Palace (CBD).
Sadly, Brunswick street is plagued with lazy, good for nothing, free loading dogs
Right, I suppose it's time to go and get on with things, so i'll finish here for now, but hopefully for me this post has been like having a big poo for someone with a bad case of constipation. In that i've got the big awkward one out of the way now, and hopefully lots of normal sized posts will follow on a regular basis. And for you, i hope it hasn't been too shit. And on that bombshell, i'm off to the bathroom.
10:52 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I hereby swear that if i don't write a proper website update within 24 hours of posting this temporary reminder, i will parade, nude, up and down Bourke street, singing a song about Merlin the happy pig.
Well, i've finally made it to Australia, and happily have been busy enough doing fun things to completely neglect the old website. Tonight that changes though! I've got bugger all to do (other than find my way to Coogee from Kings Cross), a cheap internet place at my disposal, and no excuses.
When i last told you anything real about what i'd been up to i was in New Plymouth, mucking about on, and falling off, mountain bikes with the Keith Webb School of Fitness. All of this was merely a prelude to the final challenge for my stay with Keith, an attempt to run the 13k Tongariro crossing, including the ascent of Mount Ngaurahoe (2291m). Normally an 8 hour walk (without the extra mountain), it would be a formidable jog, but the harsh regime of the previous two weeks had left me in reasonable shape (I was now regularly ascending flights of stairs, un-supported, without oxygen).
The day of our final challenge dawned bright and clear, perfect conditions! Unfortunately we were fast asleep when this happened, and stayed that way until 10 minutes before the final bus to the track was due to leave. Shit.
The rudimentary logic my brain was able to perform, in the seconds after having, "Nngah! It's 8 O'BLEEDINGclock!" shouted at me by Keith, told me that death, or at least extreme peckishness, would be the likely outcome of trying to run up mountains all day in the sun, without the whopping breakfast we had planned.
So instead we grabbed our backup rambling gear and as many muesli bars as we could find in 5 minutes, and ran staight out to catch the bus.
As it turned out, we still had a great day, ascended Ngaurahoe, as well as the other optional ascent of Mount Tongariro, thereby proving ourselves to be considerably harder than everyone else doing the trail that day.
The only two negative aspects of missing our alarm and starting late, were Keith's shocking sunburn, after forgetting the suncream + hat, and the 13 kilometre long argument we had about who's fault it was we slept through the alarm. (It WAS Keith's fault, his snoring forced me to put in earplugs, thereby making me sleep through my alarm, OK?)
If you didn't snore, we wouldn't have had this problem now would we? (Note: Mount Ngaurahoe lurking in the background)
After returning to New Plymouth, detouring only to rescue a Snow blind, English tramper from Taumaruni hospital, i had to bid Keith & Julia a sad farewell, and then headed down south to my old stamping ground of Christchurch.
I couldn't wait to get back there, after almost three years away, and the excitement mounted with every town the bus passed on the road down the east coast, particularly during a stop in Kaikoura to gawp at some seals who were hanging out next to the road, impressing passers by with their quite incredible B.O.
Sadly things aren't quite the same back in CHCH now, the hostel which was the hub of my time there, the New Excelsior, is now being run by new owners, who don't show the guests the amount of love that the legendary family of Wayne, Bev, Gemma and Tiger the cat did back in the day. It's still a reasonable place though, and seems to attract a better class of backpacker than your average city centre McBackpackers.
Happily i did get to catch up with Wayne, Bev, Gemma, Tiger and every other resident of CHCH that still remembered me, not to mention a few who'd forgotten me, and a very wonderful experience it was too. In a large part this was possible due to my old Z-Web boss, Dan and his lovely Mrs Lorri, getting married during the time i was back there.
The wedding was a cracking do, a typically NZ combination of tradition with some very modern touches. For example the service was held in a quaint old wooden chapel in Hagley Park, but the dusty old Vicar was replaced with a 'Celebrant', who was more like a TV presenter, and used the word 'awesome' in prayers more than i have ever heard before. Dan & Lorri wrote and recited their own vows too, and during the register signings one of the bridesmaids knocked out a lovely acapella Irish folk song too, not bad!
The evening do was in a similar vein, heartfelt speeches given by (literally) anyone who wanted to give a speech, including a (speech) duet by Dan & Lorri. Happily this break with tradition was combined with the usual lashings of top food and a free bar. Dancing, drinking games, ill advised new drink research & development and jumping into the hotel swimming pool followed (which i annoyingly missed due to having an in depth Soccer chat with a Dutch wedding guest).
Dan & Lorri - they seem to quite like each other
Hmm, i've been in this internet place for a while now, and the price is starting to seem a lot less cheap than it did intially. Also, the world's loudest Japanese teenagers have just taken up residence next to me, so i'm starting to think i should probably move on.
I'll leave you with images two New Zealand institions - Sheep Murder and The Fabulous Bouzouki Brothers.
Theo and Jacob laying down some GreekRock! (No night out in CHCH is complete without a visit to Santorini's for a spot of Ouzo and Limbo dancing)
In the NZ Sheep industry, only the most ethical, compassionate methods are used in tightly controlled abbatoirs
9:27 pm Sunday, February 06, 2005 Easter Island - An Apology
I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the people of Rapa Nui / Easter Island, for my recent desecration of their sacred monuments.
I promise to re-imburse them for any physical damage to the Moai, as well as for any emotional distress my thoughtless actions may have caused. I will now refrain from sitting on any sacred monuments or artefacts i encounter in the future.
(c) PI Reidford 2004
8:44 am Friday, February 04, 2005
At times I have been known to get a little bit carried away when i discover a new band / performer that i really like, but this time i'm right, honest!
Mason Jennings is without a doubt the greatest recording artist alive today. And yesterday. And probably will be tomorrow too.
5:33 pm Sunday, January 30, 2005
Hi groovers, and welcome to Art (Hole) Day here on Ted in NZ.
Partially inspired by reading Bill Drummond's Art-ography 45, and partially by sitting next to this person on a flight from Christchurch to Auckland i've decided to brighten the place up a bit, and improve the levels of artistic expression on here.
Firstly, a younger reader, Tristan Reidford aged 29 3/4, has sent in one of his bestest drawings. Apparently he spent ages on it, and didn't once get felt tip outside the lines or anything. Well Done Tristan! I'm not totally sure what he's trying to say to us in the piece, but it seems to me to speak of an inner longing for an end to Gerbil cruelty, and freedom for men to use handbags?
(c) Tristan Reidford 2005
I've also been flexing my own creative muscles today, and with more success than usual, due to this website, which can turn anyone into a budding (Or even a highly experienced) Picasso.
(c) Me / Pablo Picasso
The work forms part of my Blue phase, and in it i've tried to express what it's like to suffer the unfair rejection of society for having a large shoe size.
A triumph i'm sure you'll agree.
Continuing the day of art here on Ted In NZ, I now present
"The Bad Art Remix Project"
Just as a bout of farting will follow a lovely plateful of baked beans and cabbage, so will bad art follow good art around. And i think we can say i've been on the cabbage recently. [Warning! Metaphor logic breakdown!]
The other week, whilst ambling around on Mount Victoria over looking Wellington harbour, I attempted my first pencil landscape since Mr Snodin's art class 15 years ago. Unsurpisingly the results weren't quite as good as i hoped the might be, but I had fun, enjoyed the view and got sun burnt in the process.
Unfortunately, before i finished drawing all the fiddly little buildings I got bored and hungry, meaning the picture was left unfinished, and I retired to 'Espressholic' for a Tofu salad and a Monteiths Pilsner.
Here's where you come in - using your skill and judgement, attempt to finish off my Wellington landscape using whatever techniques and media you see fit. My unfinished drawing can be downloaded here, and a photo of what i was attempting to draw can be obtained here.
The winner will be chosen if and when anyone bothers to enter and when i find a suitably grand, and envelope shaped prize. tedinnzreservestherighttoexploityourworkinanywayitcan.
What I did
PS - Look, i've not had a job now for about two months.... you get bored ok? Hopefully i'll be back in the land of the purposeful soon.
11:11 am Thursday, January 20, 2005
Partly inspired by the fact that i'm getting a little bit bored by the selection on my MP3 player, and partly just out of nosiness, i've begun conducting an international survey of current musical tastes.
Whenever i meet people who i deem worthy of listening to on the subject of music, i question them on what bands they're currently grooving to - ideally ones from their homeland, but with the Dutch interviewees, i've given them licence to pick other countries bands too (If you're reading this - Sorry Dutch Music Industry!).
I present my current findings here.
Swedish interviewees 1 & 2
The Ark [Apparently a Gay, Swedish version of The Darkness - potentially the best Rock Band on the planet?]
Dutch Interviewee 1
French Interviewee 1 [French Handwriting is very stylish, and i may have mis-read some of these names]
Les Hurlments de Leo
Les Orgues de Beulaque
Swedish Interviewees 3 & 4 [Including interviewees' notes]
Bright Eyes - really good emotional pop, the song "Lets not shit ourselves or to love and to be loved" is one of his greatest!
Desaparecidos - smart and rough political rock with awesome lyrics.
Jose Gonzalez - a swedish sing and song writer.
Jens Lekman - another swede with more instrument and rythm.
Bloc Party - good funkrock
Sophie Zelmani - a swedish lady who sings beautiful
The Plan - a swedish rockpop group.
Hakan Hellstrom - A swede who sings happy popsongs in swedish.
Niccokick - a very promising new swedish band.
I've not actually managed to download or listen to any of these bands, so i can't vouch for any of them yet, but "A swede who sings happy popsongs in swedish" can't be bad surely?
And a belated Happy New Year, from New Plymouth, in New Zealand!
[I was in New Plymouth when i wrote this on paper, but i'm actually now in Wellington. Only saying that would ruin the clever 'New' thing i had going on there wouldn't it?]
I'm currently staying with an old mate from my last visit to NZ, Keith, who at the moment is busy training for both a half marathon and a 150k road bike race, as well as his usual Cross Country Mountain bike league races.
This is a fairly standard level of activity for the average New Zealander, but as i've been away from NZ for a little while now my standards have slipped somewhat (No disrespect to the Tyndale Road Running Club, or the Formation Software Cycling Team). The past few weeks spent lolling around on Pacific islands, eating Pineapples and drinking vast quantities of cheap Chilean plonk haven't really helped either.
Keith immediately recognised this state of affairs, and has now enrolled me into, "The Keith Webb School of Fitness". In the past week i've been on three hour long training runs, a swimming session (Well more arse-ing around in the sea than actual swimming) and two mountain biking sessions.
One of these was in Rotorua, on the site of next years world mountain biking championships, which i negotiated with reasonable style (only wimping out on about half of the gnarly descents). The other ride was through the pleasant, fern covered parks and riverside trails near to Keith's house. Sounds innocuous enough, but after a while i got a bit cocky, and during a high speed descent of a grassy slope, a ditch appeared from nowhere and swallowed up my front wheel, catapulting me over the handlebars. At least i think that's what happened, as it's all a bit of a blur. All i'm sure of is that i hurt my head and arse during the crash, and that the sight of me flying off a ridiculously small, ladies' commuting cycle probably looked quite impressive.
Keith doing some proper off roading, after some dubious directions from a local
The Xmas & New Year period wasn't entirely devoid of excercise and activity, but the pace of life on Pacific Islands, particularly Easter Island, is fairly slow, so it seemed only polite to join in with it.
The best aspect of this for me, was their attitude towards timekeeping. The time for all arrangements was pre-fixed with 'about' - breakfast, island tours and even our lift to the airport - although even catching planes on Easter Island is a very laid back process. When leaving, you check in, and then wander off into town for dinner and a pre-flight vino tinto, and when you hear the plane fly overhead, saunter back to the airport, along with 90% of the islands inhabitants, who seem to greet every arriving flight. (It's too hot for anything faster than wandering or sauntering)
I could write for hours about Easter Island (Wait! Don't turn off your PC yet, there's a but coming), but as i've already written about 20 postcards about the place, i'm starting to run out of adjectives for it. The best description i've come up with for it, is that it's like 'Father Ted', but set in the Pacific.
You could find all the bizarre characters you could ever need there, e.g. the taxi driver who points at various bits of sea, and does the Jaws theme to indicate where he's seen sharks. Or the worlds most pro Pinochet bicycle hirer, who on discovering i was English asked, "Ah! You are Eeenglish! Tell me, what do you think about Margaret Thatcher?".
I also ended up in the faintly surreal scenario of watching Oasis 'Live at Maine Road' and Steve O dvds, on one of the world's most remote and mystical islands. Leading to a debate on who was better out of Oasis and The Verve and drunken Liam Gallagher impressions, with the hapless, constantly stoned Hostel owner and his mates.
Suffice to say i fell in love with the place (Oh yeah, the statues and that weren't bad either) and it's people, and was loathed to have to leave it, to go to the much rainier, much more expensive, much grumpier and much more French, Tahiti. Being there at Xmas made it all the more special, and the crowd at the hostel really clubbed together to make it a special time - i'm now friends with a Dutch speed skater and a Mexican feminist author, beat that! (I bet they're bragging to their friends about knowing an English computer programmer too)
5 restored Moai
Right, i think this email is now more than long enough to try anyone's attention span, and more importantly, my download of the last Beta Band album has now finished, so i'll be off.
I think the time has come to stop spamming people with my travelling emails, so if you want to keep up to date with my exploits in New Zealand, and soon Australia, go to www.tedster.blogspot.com and you'll hear all about the quality of the vegetarian cafes i've been visiting, what i've been listening to on my mp3 player and, er, the weather.
Please feel free to keep writing tho, as believe it or not, i do desperately want to hear what's going on in Leicester etc, although please leave out the details on the Tsunami and Leicester City Football Club, as i'll only get depressed.
New Years Eve on Moorea. A Living Hell, obviously
1:04 pm Monday, December 20, 2004
Hola! from sunny Santiago... Hope everyone's ok? And looking forward to Chrstmas, with the presents all purchased and full of hot toddies and mince pies?
Can't say i'm feeling too Christmassy myself, despite the Santiago town council going to all the effort of creating a massive fake christmas tree in the Plaza de Armas. Sun burn and insane, need to buy a coke every 30 minutes type heat just doesn't seem to put me in the right mood for it.
I've been meaning to let everyone know more about what i've been up to, but without wanting to bore the arse off you all with the sort of email that contains details about what food the airline served, and bragging about how nauseatingly great a time i'm having (even tho i am i spose).
I'm just about finished in Chile now, and fly out to Easter Island tomorrow. My last day has been filled with irritating jobs such as getting clothes washed, trying to explain to the busiest camera store in Santiago in my shite Spanish what i want them to do with my camera's memory stick (Es muy caro! No breako por favor!), and working out how many zillion pesos it costs to send eleven post cards to the UK.
In a nutshell, my time in Chile has been divided into 4 sections:
(1) Hanging around in Santiago, getting my head around being in South America, not having my own bedroom anymore and waiting for my luggage to turn up (Never fly with Iberian Airways - They make Ryanair seem like having your own personal Lear Jet).
Highlights include going to a properly bonkers football match involving much needed riot police referee escorts, dodgy penalties galore, a last minute meltdown from my team Universidad de Chile (Very Leicester city) and even a one man assault on the entire opposition team from an irate fan, temporarily assisted by some U de C players.
Also, meeting more new people in a week than i've met in the last two years was a wonderful, if bewildering at times, experience.
(2) 4 days in Pucon. Spent climbing Volcan Villarricca. A snowcapped, extremely active volcano. At the top you could peer down at the Lava sloshing around a few hundred feet below you, in between bouts of being pepper sprayed with lungfuls of acrid, sulphurous volcano fart. For some odd reason I've always preferred ascending mountains, but i think the high-speed-arse-slide descent of 1000 vertical metres was about as much fun as it's possible to have on a mountain without a gaggle of French actresses and a bag full of Rohypnol.
The Summit of Volcan Villarricca, not a bad place to while away a few hours
Also a days mountain biking got me away from the crowds, onto some gorgeous riverside single track, and even more sunburned than i was already.
(3) A week's rambling in Torres Del Paine, Patagonia.
Basically the intial reason i bothered to stop in Chile, the Torres are a super pointy group of mountains, that seemingly everyone i met in Chile was going to visit. Happily though, most of the non-hardcore ramblers took a day trip out to see them, wheras i lugged a tent, sleeping bag, a litre of cheap wine and 5 days worth of muesli bars out with me, to do a full circuit of them.
The circuit is supposed to take 10 days, but i hoped to do it in 5 due to a shortage of time, and an overly confident assesment of my own fitness. The guffaws from various people in the know in Puerto Natales didn't put me off one bit. However the weight of my bag, a gammy achilles tendon and general knackeredness on day 2 did start the doubts creeping in.
The final straw was on day 4, when an all day soaking and a worsening ankle lead me to wimp out, and catch the oh so tempting catamaran round to the start, where i did the final leg, and caught the next bus back to Puerto Natales, where i was met with several "told you so" type looks, but more importantly with a plate full of top veggie tucker at the wonderful "El Living" cafe.
At times the walk was hilariously grim, picking your way though knee deep bogs, in the snow, on your way up a 1200m pass, carrying the equivalent of a wide screen tv on your back, but even so every day you saw Condors wheeling around overhead or could look down on glaciers the size of Coventry. So well worth all the effort.
Me getting in the way of the Torres del Paine
(4) Possibly the thing i did most of all in Chile however, was ride on buses. 8 hours from Santiago to Pucon. 8 hours from Pucon to Puerto Montt. 36 (and the rest) from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas (Via Argentina). 4 from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. Etc, Etc, Etc....
Sometimes they were like the best ambient music video you could imagine, crossing a pass over the Andes, rolling on through the indescribably beautiful Argentinian Lake district and then on through the never ending Pampas heading into Patagonia, all to the sounds of the Beta Band, The Orb, Belle & Seb (natch) and The Smiths (Shouldn't work but it did).
At other times though, the airline-steward like bus conductor came up with worse sonic torture than the US army could ever devise for the poor buggers stuck in Guantanamo bay - bad, high volume JC VanDamme films, The fast and the Furious dubbed into Spanish (Still fairly easy to follow) and a ridiculous selection of music videos - numerous 80s hair rock acts (inc. "Carrie" by Europe - "the final countdown", i could forgive) and multiple Swayze videos (She is not like the fucking wind, and i want to look at these mountains in peace!) once beginning at 8AM, good lord. The numerous nappy changes on the seat ahead of me weren't the best either.
Hmmm, i'm starting to realise that the two tinnys of Cristal (the Stella of Chilean lagers) have lead me to ramble on much more than i meant to, and this email has in fact descended into the typical self indulgent travellers codswallop. If so, i apologise, and i will now bugger off, as it's 10pm, and i need to find my way back to the hostel, get packed and be ready to leave for the airport at 7am, a time i have not had much experience of since leaving England.
Well, thanks for reading this far if you have and a very Merry Xmas / Feliz Navidad to you all!
9:45 am Friday, December 03, 2004 Down and out in Santiago - A novellete by Mark Edward
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (I´m stealing from the wrong book here i know, but there´s a queue of people behind me waiting for the computer, and i´ve never actually read Down and out in Paris and London).
The story concerns a young traveller, making his way to South America for the first time, excitedly taking his first steps in a new city, county and continent.
Everything is not well however, as our hero has to meet obstacles thrown into his path by inefficient Spanish baggage handlers, who couldn´t be arsed to shift his rucksack onto the right plane in time, leaving our main character wearing (a rather fetching) green chequed shirt, kanckered old Firetrap jeans and walking boots. And smelling rather the worse for wear.
All is not lost however, as friendly Chilean chemical engineers, New Zealand opera singers and New York camp directors spring to his aid, and hopefully, lead to a happy ending.
Watch this space for further details. Publication due in early 2005.