Calamity in New York

Sat Aug 5, 2006 by brett

Last night we arrived in New York, and in my jet-lagged state I left my bag containing our passports and my notebook in the back of the taxi 🙁

Helen and I are staying at the Hotel Elysee on 60 East 54th Street, phone (212) 753 1066. If you find my bag and passports there will be a reward!

World Cup, Berlin

Wed Jun 28, 2006 by brett

We’ve just come back from Berlin, where we saw Ukraine versus Tunisia battle it out in a World Cup football match. The atmosphere, the crowds, the feeling of celebration was everywhere! I’ve created a video podcast of our trip that you can download here (mp4). I’ve also uploaded a Quicktime that might be easier to view if you don’t have iTunes installed

The Sultan's Elephant

Sun May 7, 2006 by brett

A huge elephant striding towards Piccadilly Circus, while a giant girl reclines in a deck chair in St James’ Park.

Splashing the crowd! A giant child Barrel Rocket

Helen’s mother and aunt had just arrived in London so we took them for a walk. We were lucky enough to bump into the biggest piece of free theatre London has ever seen - the Sultan’s Elephant! The elephant was absolutely awesome, surrounded by a human tsunami as it stomped it’s way down Piccadilly. It was brought to life by an army of puppeteers who had complete control over it’s ears, trunk and legs.

We walked down to St James’ Park, where another part of the production was unfolding. There was a giant girl, blinking and yawning, before reclining in her deck chair. She was obviously tired after her flight. The barrel rocket is half her size, so she must have been flying economy! Apparently this production was last performed in Nantes in 2005. I’ve put more photos on Flickr.

Easter in Provence

Sat Apr 29, 2006 by brett

We spent the four days of Easter drowning in sunshine, great food and fine wine - toasting Alan’s imminent decrepitude. Helen, Katie, Lydia, Alan, Dina, Todd and I were in sunny Provence, France. Specifically Les Baux-de-Povence; a very pretty, fortified town that lords over the surrounding landscape. Lydia’s parents live in a beautiful house near the town, and were kind enough to act as our local guides, showing us the ruined castle, their wonderful garden, and taking us hiking through the neighbouring hills. They even posted my wallet back to the UK for me after it was stolen from our hotel room - thank you Morris and Mila!

My natural tendency when I’m on holiday is to descend into a state of minimal energy and maximum intake (actually it’s my natural state - period). Think wine. Think wallowing. So it was with some surprise that I found myself traipsing through the town as Mila took us on a private tour of the old castle at the top of the village, where we could look out over the surrounding countryside. A landscape we were to trek over the next day. Fortunately I was able to salve these bouts of activity with judicial applications of cheese and wine.

The next day we visited the markets in a nearby town. The plan was to congregate at a nearby cafe if we got lost or when we had finished with shopping. Todd and I immediately decided that we were lost and high-tailed it for the cafe, leaving the girls to their foraging. Eventually everyone made it to the cafe/restaurant, and we overcame the somewhat laissez faire attitude of the staff long enough to order some paella. Bull-fighting had been performed in this town for generations, and the current arena was shadowed by an ancient Roman ruin.

Alan’s birthday dinner was celebrated at the hotel’s restaurant, where the chef unveiled course after course of delicious food. I’m not quite sure how we managed to stand, afterwards. Was there some kind of ejection mechanism built into the chair? I kept trying to judge whether Alan was senile enough yet that we could stick him with the bill, but he had sensibly positioned himself nearest the door, blocking any attempt at escape. Obviously not as senile as he looks!

The next day we met at Mila and Morris’ place for a hike into the hills. Apparently there are wild boar in them thar hills, so Mila strode out in front to defend us against any attacking wildlife. Meanwhile the French sun was playing havoc with my London pallor. I considered knotting a handkerchief on my head as English people do when they are on holiday to fend off the elements, but decided against it as I am not English and I don’t own a handkerchief. I would just have to put up with getting a tan, damn it!

Morris gave us a tour of his garden after the hike. There were lots of roses, a cherry tree, lavendar, a weeping willow, a bamboo forest, and amongst it all were bees performing nature’s dance of fertilisation. There was one giant rose tree that was buzzing with bees, and Morris had calculated the number of roses ornamenting it at around 10,000.

We piled into the car and made it into another nearby village to eat lunch in the town square. Dinner was held at the Goldberg’s, with Lydia and Mila treating us to duets on the grand piano, followed by lounging around and watching a DVD.

The holiday was marred by only one event; on the last night someone sneaked into our hotel room while we were sleeping and stole my wallet, and Helen’s belt-purse with all our credit cards! To add insult to injury, because my wallet was recovered a few hours after we left France - minus the 2 cards the thieves racked up the charges on - the gendarmes refuse to believe our stuff was actually stolen! Apparently they just listed it as “lost”. This was despite my sending them a list of transactions that occurred on my stolen cards in the wee hours of the morning *sigh*. A shame to have the holiday end on such a note.

You can see my photos from this holiday on Flickr.

Shoot Shoreditch!

Sat Apr 22, 2006 by brett

Shoot Shoreditch is a kind of treasure hunt - you’re given clues to places, people and things around Shoreditch in London. Your target is then shot… with a camera, and you are off, racing against time to solve the next clue. Which is why Helen, Phil, Karen and I found ourselves traipsing around Shoreditch, phoning friends with internet access, ducking into internet cafes for a quick google and madly photographing everything of interest that was bracketed in the camera lens. We of the “Fat Wombat” team were determined to put in a good showing - unfortunately technology let us down in the end.

It took about 5 hours (with a 12 hour break for a hearty pub lunch), but we had visited the various locations on the “treasure map”. Our digital cameras were heavy with the images of Shoreditch. Our answer sheet had every clue answered (or at least guessed at). We were ready to consolidate the images, hand in the memory stick for judging, and sit back for a quiet beer while we waited to be given our prize. I had my notebook out… the camera was plugged in… and I managed to dump down 3 photos before the camera died! Curses! We ended up handing in the memory stick anyway, and at least a few of our photos made it onto the competition website.

Whirlwind trip to Australia

Wed Mar 29, 2006 by brett

Helen and I have just finishing up a two-week trip to Australia. Unfortunately we couldn’t see all the people we wanted to see because it was such a whirlwind trip. We stopped off in Tokyo for a night and went out with our friends for dinner. Tim and Anna showed us a current phenomenon in Tokyo at the tiny expat bars, which is loud 80’s music, photos of posing expats plastered over the walls, and lots of very drunk expats boisterously working their way to horizontal in the bar itself. We adjourned for some very tasty mojito cocktails at the Grand Hyatt in Rapongi. This was actually where we were staying, and very nice it was too! The room had one of those deep Japanese-style baths, and two showers. We certainly felt squeaky clean when we explored Tokyo.

When we got to Sydney we took Helen’s mum up to the Blue Mountains for two nights. Unfortunately one of our favourite restaurants – Solitary – turned out to have lost its edge. The days were overcast and a little chilly. Not exactly the weather you want when you are escaping London winter. We hired a nice car for the week though, which we picked up at Sydney airport on arrival. It was a Calais V6. Lots of power, a 6 CD stereo, and rear collision sensors when reversing. The car made the trip up the mountains and back again very comfortable. When we got back to Sydney we checked in to the Medina on Crown Street. It was a great location, and we certainly had plenty of space in the apartment with two bedrooms, but the apartments are starting to feel a little old.

While we were in Sydney, we caught up with a few of our friends. Tom and Stephen and Sharon took us out to dinner the day we got back to Sydney at RQ, another of our favourite restaurants. This one at least has stayed consistently great! The Maitre’D was having a night off and had chosen to eat at the restaurant with some of his family. He recognised us though and made a point of coming over to say hello, which was very nice. We ended up having a cocktail at Longrain – another place that’s stayed good.

The next day was Friday, and a beautiful day it was! We went to see our friends Char and Antoon’s new apartment over on Coogee beach. I think it will turn out to be a wonderful buy. I spent the afternoon playing pool with the guys at IT&e. We went out to dinner that night at a Thai Restaurant in Surry Hills, and ended up at 2am at the Hollywood Hotel.

Next stop was the Gold Coast. It’s a funny old place. It’s so relaxed; the days seem to drift along like fluffy white clouds in the sky. Mum and Dad seem to occupy themselves with the politics of the apartment building they’re living in, like French aristocracy holding court.

Dad bought a new computer while we were in the Gold Coast. It is a Apple iMac with a 20 inch screen. He claims that I wore him down like the slow, steady drip of the water torture. I hope he likes the new computer!

Winter Paris

Fri Mar 3, 2006 by brett

Last weekend Helen and I, with our friends Mike and Alecia, and Glen and Claire went to Paris. The Eurostar is so quick and convenient… it’s pretty much 2.5 hours door to door. Claire and Glen have an apartment in Paris. It’s near the St Germaine area, which is a very funky part of town. Because they had lived in Paris for 4 years, we got taken to some very cool bars and clubs. Now Helen and I want to get a place over there!

Eye surgery

Wed Feb 15, 2006 by brett

Yesterday (Tuesday) morning I went in to have Lasik eye surgery on my eye. It was a little freaky. Fortunately the freakiness didn’t last too long, and I walked out about an hour later a bit shakey and with foggy but clearer eye-sight. Helen helped me to walk home, and as I walked the anesthetic drops in my eyes wore off, and my eyes both hurt and started streaming with tears. I got home and took some asprin and lay in bed and listened to an audio book on my iPod.

My eyes started feeling a lot better yesterday evening, and today I feel almost completely normal (only with 20-20 vision!). I’m still a little worried of my eyes getting infected or something, but I am putting in my eyedrops regularly (anti-inflamitories and anti-bactarials). Tomorrow I’m going back in to work, and I’m blown away by how fast this whole process was. I reckon that if you told someone 10 years ago that they would be able to correct their myopia and be back to normal(-ish) within 48 hours, they wouldn’t have believed it.

Amato Saltone

Tue Jan 24, 2006 by brett

Last night Helen and I, along with our friends Ben and Kate went to see Shunt’s production - Amato Saltone. It was very entertaining – and I love the space that it was showing in! I’d heard that Shunt had made so much money from a previous production, that they’d been able to buy the space they were performing in - the vaults in London Bridge.

In Amsterdam!

Sat Jan 21, 2006 by brett

Helen and I, and our friends Mike and Alecia, were in Amsterdam last weekend. We had a great time over there! It reminded me a lot of Venice with all the canals. It was freezing cold over there - below zero (although not as cold as Russia is at the moment!). We stayed at Victoria Hotel, which is near the central train station (about 5 minutes walk). It is a very nice 4 star hotel, and I’d definitely stay there again. We went to Magazijn nightclub, which is a very nice and chilled-out club.

Alecia, Mike and Helen in Amsterdam{.imagelink}