Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Going bananas

This weekend we headed north for some sunshine. Now that's a phrase you don't often hear a Brit use!!Actually I was at a tradeshow in Brisbane on the Friday and we decided to stay there for a few days. Gus booked us into a city centre hotel on last minute .com - one of their secret hotels. It was a nice place - very central.

As usual, Gus had the weekend planned minute by minute. Friday night we dined at Jellyfish - a cool restaurant on the riverbank. They guarantee to have at least 8 different types of freshly caught fish, as well as a standard menu. Our waiter was quite fresh too - so I engaged him in a bit of conversation about the menu.......I went for the whole baby barramundi and Gus had the Moreton Bay Bugs. These are a bigger version of Balmain bugs (see fishmarket posting earlier) Both were delicious.

Saturday we were due to meet our friend Kerry, her kids and another South African couple (Mandy & Scott) for lunch. Beforehand we wandered round the market on the south bank of the river. And it was here that we discovered the greatest thing to happen to fruit since the invention of the seedless grape. A chocolate filled banana......dear lord, these are soooooo good.

There was a choice of milk, plain, mint or praline. I could have eaten a whole bunch. Instead, giddy on a sugar high, I decided to have a tatoo. Of a kangaroo. I'm just relieved that I didn't pick a banana


Gus had the same tatoo - I didn't want to say anything but I do think matching tatoos are a bit gay.

We needed to cool down so headed to the pool area where we met Kerry and her kids - Megan and Shawn, who was busy amusing himself in the water

Boys will be boys

Meanwhile I was trying to work out how I could attract the attention of the lifeguards.......

Boys will be boys

Monday, 27 July 2009

A nice cup of .....

The following day saw us up early again and heading into the City centre for the Aroma festival. Aussies sure do like their coffee and this was an entire festival devoted to the stuff. You can just imagine how excited Gus was........

I thought there would be a few stalls and a handful of visitors. How wrong can you be. There were loads of stalls. And it was a good job we got there when it started at 10am, as by 11.30 it was packed. There must have been thousands there - all of them queuing for coffee, drinking coffee, buying coffee beans. Honestly, if they ever run out of coffee in this city, the place would riot. The air was thick with the smell of caffeine addiction.

I really wanted a cup of tea.

There were even camels.

Not sure why they were there. Though of course, coffee and camels do go well together (cigarette joke)

I'm feeling old

Given that I spend Monday to Friday immersed in the world of Aussie retail - you would think that weekends would provide some welcome relief. But no - the gay gene wins out everytime. And so we get up early and head out to a new area of Sydney each and every weekend. The weekend before last saw us in Glebe. This is a young & trendy part of town - actually a bit hippy. We started the day in - guess what - one of Gus' coffee shop finds. This one was quite cool - in a second hand bookshop. It was a funky kind of place, and the baristas were cute, which is always a bonus. Then we went across the road to the market. Each of the markets we have been to so far have been different - this one was a bit of a hippy, crusty kind of market - the kind where the stallholders all turn up in beat up old VW camper vans with flowers painted on the side. My sister Amanda would love it here. There were some great stalls - I wanted to buy some cufflinks made from lego bricks - Gus told me I was too old to wear them. He does that a lot. I'm still in my twenties in my head. Sadly not around my waist though!

Quite a lot of the stalls were second hand clothing. Not my scene really. I can't see myself buying clothes from someone who looks like they need a good wash. God I sound like my dad!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

I have a backlog of news. And all of it is very exciting........first of all BBQ news. We bought this bbq from Barbecues Galore. It's a great shop with a category killer range. Given the time of year - they were on sale, and we got a good deal. I even managed to negotiate extra discount - something I would never think of doing back home. I'm becoming Aussiefied. So here are the before and after pics ......didn't take too long to put together.

We haven't used it yet - need to buy a gas cylinder first. At the moment it just looks good on the balcony. Note how it co-ordinates beautifully with the garden furniture - also a great relocation buy! If what the Aussies tell us is true and the weather will eventually enable us to eat outside for 8 months of the year, then this is our dining table. Just needs some wine and some of Gus' cooking to complete the look!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Apologies to all my loyal readers for the lack of posts - I haven't really wanted to type much in the evenings. Since I arrived here, I have had a tingling sensation in my right hand - specifically my index and middle fingers. They have also been numb at the same time - a bit like pins and needles. I do have a habit of sleeping on my hand and waking up with a dead arm, so I assumed it was that and would go away. Well it didn't - in fact it spread up my arm - only intermittently. I found that driving and typing made it worse.........

So yesterday I finally booked myself a sports massage here in Pyrmont. The guy was very good and said he thought I had trapped the median nerve. He did give me a deep tissue massage on my shoulder, neck and arm and suggested that I see a doctor to find out what was causing it. So this morning, not really knowing much about the Oz health system I rang Health Direct. This is like NHS direct in the UK. You describe your symptoms and they tell you what to do. So I did. And they told me to go to the emergency department of my nearest hospital......within the next hour.

Bloody hell. A bit dramatic or what....the nurse on the phone said that my symptoms could be caused by either something minor or serious so they wanted me checked out. Fortunately as a Brit, I am covered by a reciprocal health agreement between the UK and Australia (proof that "The Empire"really can strike back) so I didn't have to worry about the cost. I have insurance anyway but it's good to know that my tax dollars are following me here.

Our nearest hospital is the Royal Alfred in Camperdown, so off we went. We were met at the door of the emergency reception by a volunteer who told us what to do. Very helpful. I presented myself and my passport at reception and was given a form to fill in. I then had to sit on the red seats and wait to be seen by a triage nurse. I waited about 5 minutes whilst she dealt with the patient who had arrived just before me (this was at 8.30am so it was quiet there) . My turn came, and I had to explain my symptoms. Blood pressure and pulse checks established that I was not having a stroke (wrong arm anyway) and then she shone a light into my eyes. Not sure why. My eyes are a deep hazel and quite lovely. She then gave me a wristband to wear which meant I was now in "THE SYSTEM" and would soon be seen by a doctor.

We now went and sat in blue seats (seating colour in hospitals is a whole new experience - Newbury hospital has the same system, and woe betide anyone who sits in the wrong colour seat). Gus went to get a coffee. Whilst he was gone, another young nurse (sadly female) came and shone her torch in my eyes. Word had clearly gone round.

So we sat on our coloured seats and waited. And waited. People came. Very few went. Once you have been through triage, you are seen in order of emergency, so it was a relief that I wasn't rushed through. After about 2 hours, we were called to see a doctor. A series of tests later, she states that she wants to talk to her boss. We go and sit in the blue seats again. And wait. They both turn up after about 10 minutes, and he redoes the tests she had done. And then, he does some new ones.......

Lo and behold - a diagnosis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Tyler the sports masseur was right - I have trapped the median nerve, but in my wrist, not my neck. The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel right where you would take your pulse. It's a common enough condition, often brought on by sport.

Stop laughing.

So I now have a wrist splint.

A black one.

It looks like I am in mourning for Michael Jackson.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Who needs Masterchef?

Oh baby, baby

Whatever happened to lazy Sunday mornings? Well they are clearly now a thing of the past, as Gus embarks on his get me up early regime. This morning we headed out at 8ish for breakfast over in Paddington - at a place called Tiger Mottle. It's one of the many places that Gus has found during his current exploration of Sydney. It's in a very trendy section of Paddington called Five Ways - so trendy that it is the location for a branch of Thomas Dux - the upmarket grocery chain just launched by my employers.

Breakfast was very good - Billy's Bubble and Squeak - I was expecting (hoping for) something fried, but no, this is a trendy, wholefood, organic kind of area so it was an interpretation. For the non-Brits - Bubble & Squeak is usually made with left over cabbage and potato, formed into patties and fried. Like a hash brown, but with green bits in. Billy's version was much healthier - freshly cooked cabbage, bacon and roasted potatoes with 2 poached eggs. I'm sure the eggs were free range - they probably had the hens out back.

The only problem was that we felt slightly out of place - not because we are gay, oh no, it was a gay friendly place - the grill wasn't the only thing that was, the issue was that we didn't have a child in tow. Specifically a baby or toddler that we could then show off to all the other customers. This seemed to be the main reason for people coming here - to display their kids. Quite what a baby in a highchair is going to do with a babycinno (frothed milk in a cutesy small cup with a sprinkling of chocolate) is beyond me.

I didn't take my kids out to trendy cafes on a Sunday morning when they were younger. They were given a bowl of sugary cereal and plonked in front of the tv to learn about the world - well the world of cartoons and japanese toy based action shows - which is a much better preparation for the harsh realities of life. Once you know that the actor who used to play the Red Power Ranger (it's morphing time) is now a bit player in bad gay porn movies, you will soon buckle down and study hard at school.

This little piggy went to market

Yesterday we were up bright and early. Gus refuses to allow me a weekend lie in as he says it will get me into bad habits. I quite like my bad habits, but anyway. We headed over to the Pyrmont food market - which takes place once a month just in front of Star City casino. We are a five minute walk from it, and thought that by leaving at 7.30, we would get ahead of the crowds. Well, the market began at 7am, and it was busy when we got there. The longest line was for the Toby's Estate coffee, so whilst Gus joined that, I went and bought breakfast - organic beef sausage in french bread. We could also have had bacon and egg in a toasted sourdough bun, or award winning chorizo and egg in a bun (don't know whether it was the chorizo, the egg, the bun or the unique combination that won the award). After a brief refreshment stop, we toured the many stalls. The choice was varied and the produce was all excellent quality. We came home with some potted herbs (mint and Greek basil), some fig, apricot and almond bread, and some courgette flowers which had been picked that morning. Oh and also some Saltbush lamb - similar in principle to the Saltmarsh lamb from France I think.

So guess what we had to eat yesterday..........

Lunch - fig bread with cottage cheese, topped with chopped Greek basil.
Dinner - grilled Saltbush lamb, with salad, roasted veg, and courgette flowers which Gus had stuffed with a tasty combination of ricotta, goats cheese, and tahitian lime rind.

Both meals were delicious - and kudos to Gus for his first attempt at cooking courgette flowers - it was a triumph.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Location, location, location

Our apartment building is the one with the yacht mast going thru it.....

Our apartment is on the first floor above the entrance to the parking garage

And this is our cruise liner