Sunday, December 31, 2006
We've cleaned up, had another drink and are ready to hit the sack. We're both looking forward to whatever 2007 holds. You never know, I might get a phone call from my parents. x
We had a lovely morning/afternoon wandering around the town. The weather was fantastic, warm with clearish skies. We spent a while in Hyde Park people watching (a sport Abi excels in and I'm just getting to grips with). It reminds me of Central Park but on a slightly smaller scale. It's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. The high point of the day was our shopping expedition where we bought a new toy!!!!! I’ve wanted a digital SLR for ages and I know how much Abi enjoys taking photo’s so I thought it would be worth getting something decent. We purchased a Sony A100 and with careful research and Abi’s sales skills we managed to save a few bob and get a free bag and memory card. It’s charging now and I can’t wait to take some photos this evening.
On another note I heard that the England team have arrived at the hotel. Abi said she bumped into some athletic types in the lift earlier. They may have been cricketers be she hasn’t got a clue. It’s getting cloudy now and rain is forecast so I feel sorry for all the thousands of people who are camped in the various parks. We’ve got friends arriving around 8:30 to help us celebrate the New Year and several firework displays at 9 and midnight.
Photo's posted from last night and today....More updates later…x
Saturday, December 30, 2006
This evening we went to dinner with some of Abi’s extended family in Bankstown (about 45 minutes south of the city centre). The easiest way to get there is by train and we picked the sloooowest train in the world. It stopped at 19 stations along the way and managed to hit a top speed of almost 20 mph. Not being the most patient person I was moaning most of the way but Abi managed to keep me entertained…. needless to say, we caught a cab back! We went to a Thai restaurant with Pam & Jan (who we had an Indian with last weekend), Wendy (Pam’s sister), Lyndal & Ryan (Wendy’s 2 children), Marion (Pam’s other sister) & Cameron (one of her sons) – they drove up from Coolamon yesterday (just over 5hrs away). We then went back to Pam & Jan’s for coffee. It was a really lovely evening.
Tomorrow is New Years Eve and this is where Sydney outshines most of the world. Arguably the second largest celebration in the world with an estimated 1.2 million people watching the spectacle around the harbour (click here for a video of last years celebrations). Rio comes first with an estimated 2 million people on Copacabana Beach. This years theme is based around the Wizard of Oz, kids have to click their heels at 9:08 to see something special projected onto the bridge. You might be able see from the picture below what will be displayed on the bridge at midnight. It’s a coat hanger and a diamond. The coat hanger represents the bridges nickname and next year is the 75th anniversary of its completion.
Below is a list of the events occurring in the lead up to midnight:
1pm - Firing of the Fort Denison Cannon
2pm - Tiger Moth and Boeing Stearmans Flyover
3pm - Convair CV580 Flyover
4pm - Pitt Specials Flyover
5pm - Fire Tug Display and Microlights Flyover
6pm - Sky Writing
7pm - Ringing of the Bell Towers
8pm - Indigenous Welcome Ceremony - Sydney Harbour
9pm - Family Fireworks & Harbour of Light Parade
10pm - Mini Light Show - Sydney Harbour Bridge
11pm - Mini Light Show - Sydney Harbour Bridge
Midnight - Fireworks & Bridge Effect
Abi and I will be out and about tomorrow morning but intend to spend the evening back at our apartment. We’ve got some friends coming over and plan to watch the fireworks from our balcony. We have a great view of the bridge and part of the harbour. Darling Harbour (next to the hotel) is also having a firework display and we should be able to see that too if the fireworks extend above the buildings! I’ll be updating the blog tomorrow night as the celebrations progress so keep an eye on the site.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
A brief history of the race….Founded in 1945 the first winner took 6 days, 14 hours to go from Sydney, down the coast of New South Wales and across the Bass Straight to Tasmania. In 2005 the yacht Wild Oats (the current race leader) completed the course in 1 day, 18 hours!!! Most people will remember the 1998 race when a storm hit and 5 yachts sank with a loss of 6 lives.
We boarded the boat at 11:30 and found we weren’t sitting next to a window. With a full compliment of passengers we weren’t going to be able to move. Bummer!!! However, once we had ordered our drinks we went out on deck and had a perfect view of the proceedings. We left Darling Harbour and made our way towards the sea stopping at Shark Island, the official start line. To us it looked like every boat in Australia was there. I’m sure you could walk across the harbour without getting your feet wet.
We went back inside for lunch (not bad for a buffet and plenty of choice for fussy Abi) and came back on deck at 12:45 to watch the start. All the sightseeing boats seemed to move away from the middle of the harbour at the same moment to leave room for the yachts. It was quite strange to watch. The yachts were milling about trying to get in position before a canon was fired at 1pm. It looked like a mass of sails to me but apparently there were a number of different strategies at play. The canon fired (no boom but we saw a lot of smoke) and the yachts dashed off round the head on their three day journey to Hobart.
That’s about it really. Nice trip back to Darling Harbour, some shopping on the way back, coffee at StarBucks and an early night. Then into work today!!!!! :-(
Rob and I got a cab back home and snuggled down to watch a movie (after a few phone calls as Christmas Day in the UK was just beginning). We watched United 93, which is about the fourth plane to be hijacked on September 11th. It probably wasn’t the most festive of movies but it was thought provoking. The flight departed from Newark Airport in New Jersey. Rob lived about 20 minutes away and remembers that day like it was yesterday. Anyway, we won’t dwell on it anymore but check out some of the links below.
We decided to scrap the walk and head down to the Rocks for a late lunch. The Rocks is the birthplace of modern Sydney. Click on the link for more info. The photo below shows the restaurant we finally settled on. (For those of you who’ve had the video, this is where I ordered my pig!!) Another couple of downpours later, we emerged fully fatted and walked round to the Opera House whilst waiting for our ferry home! One thing I love about Sydney is the ferries. It’s a great way to travel, especially on sunny days. Unfortunately it was pouring down but being of hardy stock we decided to don our plastic macs and sit outside.
We then walked round to StarBucks for the obligatory coffee and said our goodbyes. From there we walked back to the apartment for a quick change and off to the Opera House. When we got back to the room though, we had a lovely surprise from the guest relations lady we’ve known since our first stay here – we had a bag containing a bottle of chilled champagne, teas, biscuits, chocolates & Christmas candy canes with a card – it was really lovely! We caught the ferry there and walked (only a short one) from Circular Quay – straight in, picked up the tickets and to our seats. The hall was pretty well full and the concert was great – very festive and full of good cheer. There was a sing-a-long ‘three white boomers’ which we deduced was referring to Kangaroos as everyone was ‘boing-ing’ about the stage. At the end of the show they got the kiddies up for an encore. As always a little one stole the show, he must only have been about 2 and looked totally bemused and dazed by the whole thing. He eventually got the hang of how to ‘bounce’, much to everyone’s delight & applause! That finished relatively early (20:00hr-ish) so we walked back via Coles (shop) for a few bits and bobs and then home.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Jungle Bells the Aussie Way
Dashing through the bush,
in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust,
esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side,
singing Christmas songs,
It's Summer time and I am in
my singlet, shorts and thongs
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.
Engine's getting hot;
we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard,
he is welcome too.
All the family's there,
sitting by the pool,
Christmas Day the Aussie way,
by the barbecue.
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.
Come the afternoon,
Grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce,
are swimming in their clothes.
The time comes 'round to go,
we take the family snap,
Pack the car and all shoot through,
before the washing up.
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summers day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut !,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.
TRANSLATION for the Brits
- Ute = Pickup Truck
- Kelpie = Dog
- Singlet = T-shirt (but think Bruce Willis in Die Hard!!)
- Thongs = Flip Flops
- Swaggie = Hitch Hiker
- Eskie = Cool Box
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I often browse the net at lunch time, looking for news and gossip. Today I came across a blog written by Scott Adams. For those of you who haven’t heard of him he’s the creator of Dilbert, a cartoon strip about offlce life. If you work in an office you’ll find it hilarious, if you don’t it’s still funny. Please have a read of his blog, it's funny but also thought provoking. With blogging in mind I’ve added a section on the right hand side called ‘My blogs of Note’. There are some great blogs out there and I feel it’s my duty to bring them to your attention. Keep looking as it will be updated regularly.
Well, getting ready to leave Perth, was going to spend an hour down the beach to try and get some sun, but really the sun needs to be out to allow you to catch some rays . so I thought I'd do a little update instead. Can't say I'm sorry to be leaving - not just because I'm looking forward to seeing Rob and breaking his peace & quiet or because we've got a few days off and it's going to be Christmas, but it's been a frustrating few days.
The trip has been good and bad - very frustrating with regards work and attitudes, we've had a few (not so diplomatic at times) words, but will have to wait and see how it is taken forward. Got a meeting with the MD of the new company & the Integration Manager again before I come back home, so am compiling a report of 'how it is' and 'how to move forward' and then I'll hand it over and all being well, will be able to walk away.
I can't believe Christmas is now just around the corner. I went out with the girls from the office for cocktails and dinner last night, which was really nice - but we were able to sit outside (a cool breeze came in about 8:30 - but Perth is known for what they call the 'doctor' . which is the cool air to take away the humidity) however, no Christmas lights in the town, they've got some lights in a tree opposite the hotel, but it would help if they turned them on so you could see them!!? I've had some pressies from the girlies here though, which was lovely - but it still feels odd.. I know your hearts are bleeding for me!
Rob tells me the sun is out in Sydney, so all being well it'll stay for a day! I'm under instruction to arrive quietly tonight as he'll be on a telecom with India when I'm due back to the apartment . it's gonna be a tough call, but I'm sure I'll manage!
Been getting reports of -2oC and frost from the UK, so hope you're all keeping warm and wrapped up . make lots of stews and snuggle under the duvet with a good movie x
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Random thoughts from Rob…… ‘Just watch it in there mate. That machine, once you press that flusher, that thing will probably suck your guts out through your bum’
Abi - Still in Perth but it’s her last day. She should land in Sydney around 8:30 tomorrow night. Peace and quite ends!!!
The Environment – Both Holden (GM) and Ford have reported increased sales of V8’s in Australia. Who the heck needs a 5.7 litre car in this traffic? Remember the environment and the ozone layer please.
Cabs – Plenty of reports in Sydney about cab drivers charging extra in the run up to the holidays. Seems that they were quoting $100 - $200 AUD premiums at last weekends Robbie Williams concert. One cabbie was quoted as saying ‘It’s market forces at work!! If they don’t like it they can walk!!!’. Charming!!
Mash Ups – Wikipedia defines this as ‘assembling new songs from elements of other tracks’. Not to be confused with remixing or recycling. To me this is mixing two tracks/videos together to create something very different. Apparently this goes back to 1950’s but can be traced back even further. However, digging even further it does sound more like remixing but anyway, have a look at these examples and tell me if it’s not a stroke of genius.
Nirvana and Destiny’s Child, TLC and Busted, Westlife, The Foo Fighters and Chirstina, Pussy Cat Dolls and Kool & the Gang (I have to say this is far, far better than the orginal)
Kenny – Proving that Australian Cinema is as oddball as it ever. This is a film about a guy who works for a port-a-loo company in Melbourne. Some fantastic insights into the world of portable dunnies. A good film, great actor, some light relief!!!! More please. I’ll leave you with some wonderful quotes.
'I don't know what all the fuss is about, it's 80% water and we've got chemicals to take care of the remaining 20’
Have fun. More surprises to come at the weekend
‘Just watch it in there mate. That machine, once you press that flusher, that thing will probably suck your guts out through your bum’
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
From here we drove on to Pokolbin and had a fantastic lunch at a local vineyard. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the place and will have to wait for Abi to check the receipt - [oh fountain of knowlege here ... it was: Jeffs Grill] I sampled a few of the local wines while Abi stuck to water (she was driving :-(). Properly fed we decided to take in a couple of vineyards and do a little ‘wine tasting’. Rob wanted to go back to Rosemont Estate, where he'd had a fabulous lunch a couple of years ago, but the Rosemont we found looked like an old wooden School House, very pretty, but not really the big corporate image you'd expect. The vineyard Rob had gone to is no longer open to the public as it was a way off (an additional hour) and not many people made the journey ... On the way back to the hotel ‘eagle eyed’ Abi spotted a ‘mob’ of Kangaroo’s in a field. We then had to park up and walk back down the highway and take some photo’s... it was fab! there were atleast 30, some were playing (or fighting - hard to tell!!) some were standing and have a scratch, some were eating - every now and again one would 'boing' along :-) it was great, until some other car stopped and 2 of the people got out and walked into the field and scared them all off ... I wasn't happy!
That evening we sat on the veranda with glass of wine in hand and watched another group of kangaroo’s bounce out of next doors vineyard and hop across a field. It was a perfect evening.
On Sunday we had brunch at the hotel on what was turning out to be lovely day weather wise. The weather has been pretty bad so far. Quite cold and overcast but the sun finally appeared and it was time to get a tan. We spent what was left of the day wandering round the ‘Hunter Valley Gardens’, which were great actually - lots of water, birds & plants (everything you'd expect really!) but very well laid out and there was a 'story book corner' - you can see the photos of Rob & I sitting at the Alice in Wonderland table - it was great! We then took the scenic drive back home to Sydney.
Abi left for Perth this morning (getting up at 03:30 for a 06:00 flight!! AND Perth is 2 hours behind, so that was 01:30 their time ... brains must be missing!) and will be back on Thursday evening. I’m sure she’ll be updating the blog once she’s read my pathetic attempt (you're just hunting for compliments - it was a great resume, I just 'bulk'!!). I've uploaded a few photo's so please check out the links on the left hand side.
Friday, December 15, 2006
My company have been bought out – this all happened late last week and has been ‘in the wings’ for a few weeks now, it’s just a shame I missed the introductory meeting, but I understand that it’s pretty much ‘carry on as is’ for the time being. I’m sure changes will be introduced, but for the moment, nothing drastic. The company are a big American corporation, so I’m sure some of their ethics and structure will be brought in, but I can’t see anything negative – I do however reserve the right to change my mind! It's funny how differently companies do things, as Rob's company have just been through the same process I could compare, but in fairness, there is no comparison. He's had letters and emails and updates throughout the process, I didn't. When it all went through he got a letter & a welcome pack ... I got an email from the new MD saying, 'it's gone through, it's official - here's a weblink ...' how poor is that?!!
Yesterday was an absolute stunner weather wise, today it’s been grey and drizzly all day, so a good day to be stuck at the laptop. I think Rob’s mentioned we’re off to a wildlife park tomorrow morning, so the plan is to leave here at 07:30 [yup! you read that correctly!!] I thought we were going to a park where you can cuddle things, but by all accounts it's a reptile park (there is a cuddly one, but it's in the wrong direction ... but who needs to look at a map eh?! - me! obviously!! ... I think I'm just surprised Rob's up for going to a reptile one - if I get him to hold a snake, I'll be sure to take lots of piccies! There is a crocodile with 3 legs [so I've been told] and aligators) & then onto the Hunter Valley for a sedate lunch and some wine sampling – the weather’s destined to improve by Sunday... but then looking at the forecast it's still overcast with a chance of rain until end of next week. The weather for Perth is better, shame I’m going to be in the office – all being well the evenings will be nice and I’ll have chance to have a look round and do a little Christmas shopping for Rob’s stocking!!
We went for a walk tonight and I bought him some sandals (no laughing) but as he had to try them on, I can't really wrap them up and get away with that one ... but they are really great and yes, don't fret - I managed to find myself a pair too! (or should that be - two?!?). Right, pizza's done - so off to have some tea :-) more news after the weekend of exploring xx
Thursday, December 14, 2006
This actually links quite well with next week’s posting on the Blues. People think of Elvis as a ‘Rock & Roll’ artist performing cheesy songs in Vegas wearing very tight suits. That might be how he ended his career but it started in a very different way. Born in Mississippi he was influenced by Country, Gospel and Blues. Moving to Memphis, TN just after the war he spent his spare time on Beale Street (officially home of the blues, see picture on the left) which was lined with clubs showcasing the blues in its many forms. People such as BB King, Muddy Waters, Albert King and Louis Armstrong have performed there. His first recordings were at Sun Studio’s (pictured) just outside downtown Memphis. I’ve actually been in that recording studio (with Dad & Pam) and held the microphone he used. Standing there and hearing a recording of Elvis laugh and joke with Sam Phillips (the owner) and Jerry Lee Lewis was an experience I’ll never forget. The funniest thing was visiting Gracelands and Pammy saying 'it gave her goosebumps' just being there. Anyway, more on that next week. Enjoy.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
‘I’m done, shoot your gun; I think it’s time to take it back to where we started from….’ The opening lyrics from James Morrisons ‘Stop the Police’, a classic in its own CD case.
Welcome to the first edition of my music appreciation blog. I’ve got a spare 30 minutes at lunchtime and thought I would share my love of music with everyone. This is a global edition, it seems people are reading this from all over, Australia, UK, Germany, Spain and even the US. Fantastic!!!.
Anyway, back to James Morrison. This guy has shot up the Album chart with a great CD, ‘Undiscovered’. Released in July 2006 it's not quite on par with some other classic first releases such as Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and Macy Gray’s ‘Oh How Life Is’ but not bad first stab. A Rugby boy born into a troubled family his uncle introduced him to the blues when he was 13. From there he started to develop his own sound using his life as a canvas. Q Magazine says ‘Approach with Wonder’, I say sit back, listen, enjoy and don't take it too seriously.
Click here for further information and look at the download section. I recommend starting with ‘Wonderful World’, followed by ‘You Give Me Something’ and then ‘Call the Police’. Beg, borrow, shoplift or download this album, it's worth listening to.
Checking out the Guardian review of this CD they put forward some interesting facts. Over 40's now spend more on music than under 30's and women over 49 buy twice as much as those under 20. Hence all these awful middle of the road bands such as Il Divo. Whoever compiled this information probably forgot to take into account illegal downloading and file sharing. That must account for the contents of most under 30's iPods.
More next Wednesday when I'll cover and introduction to the Blues, the foundation of modern music.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
We've had a good 30+ degrees today though, so this may well clear the air or just make way for the next 'wave'. Most mornings have been overcast and relatively dull since I arrived on Thursday, but from midday onwards the clouds clear and the sky is blue! There have been some great breezes too at the moment, so that's keeping things feeling cooler - although going down towards South Australia, they're really suffering with both the heat and the wind, pushing the forrest fires. Melbourne is covered with a grey fog, caused by the fires; they are reporting the temperatures being the highest they've been since 1980, it's been pushing 40degrees+ in Wagga (so Mum & Dad, not a good time to plan any trips to Shirley & Trevor!).
I had a good trip over, apart from sitting next to a guy who talked .... consistently .... now, I know I can talk with the best of them, but I'd also like to think that I'm quite good at picking up on body language.. should someone pretend to be a sleep whilst I'm talking, I do believe I would take the hint and STOP! The worst thing was his wife was sitting 3 rows back and I even tried the 'would you like me to swap seats with her so you can sit together', but no (and that was shouted by her!!). In fairness he was a nice guy, but I like to sleep my way through those hours. Just after we boarded again at Thailand (the flight was a lot emptier) he had a bit of a turn and they sat him with his wife anyway - she came over and said he'd got 'confused' and wasn't sure who all the passengers were or where he was, so I hope they got to NZealand ok.
We had a number of delays - even taking off from Heathrow, as we sat on the tarmac for over an hr, then in Thailand someone decided not to carry on to Sydney, so they had to find and off load his bags. I had thought that I could just arrive at the hotel in time to see Rob (fleetingly) prior to him having to go to work, but as it happens, we didn't even 'cut it fine', it wasn't cut at all! I unpacked (recalling fully the email I had saying that the apartment lacked some 'abi-mess'), made myself feel slightly human again (by way of shower) and went shopping (to stock the fridge) & to the post office for my mum! :-) I then sat in the square opposite the hotel with a coffee and a book and waited for Rob to come home. Later that evening we went for a walk around a bit of Darling Harbour which we've not been round before, they've just built a number of flats on a pier, I guess you'd call it - and then went for a yummy Thai.
The evenings are so much nicer now, last time we were here it was dark by 5 but now it's 8ish, which makes a huge difference. We've been for evening strolls, swimming, coffee ... it's just nice. Over the weekend we had a good walk around on Saturday and on Sunday I hired a car & we headed over to the Telstra Sadium, Sydney Olympic Park - it's where Chris & I had the exhibition back in October, but we didn't have time to look around. Rob & I got a tour around the stadium, which was really interesting - how they changed the seating after the Olympics and how they can actually move the stadium seating 15mtrs in and out (depending on what sport is being played) - 45ish feet .... very impressive. They also announced with considerable pride how they came in on budget and 6mths early ..... I get the feeling that we won't be boasting the same statistics! (although by all accounts they were able to work 24 / 7 & didn't have a day of rain ... further statistics we won't share!). On the way home we stopped and had a 'coastal walk' watching lots of doggies playing and springing in and out of the water - it was great!
I had an appointment today with Qantas Defence at a RAAF Base near Richmond, it was very interesting seeing some of the planes & how much of an overhaul they do, some take up to 18mths. Tomorrows appointments may be delayed, I'm still waiting on some calls back but Wednesday is fully booked. Rob's got some late nights coming up this week, there is a roll out & telecons to be had - but things appear to be going well (I don't want to speak too soon) - no new grey hairs have been spotted!!
Well, I think that's enough for you to be going on with! I hope all you sick people are feeling better, all your snuffles are going & legs improving xx
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Abi arrived in Sydney this morning, an hour and a half later than planned. It seems BA is as punctual as as Virgin. I had to leave for work before she arrived at the hotel but I’m looking forward to seeing her tonight.
Finally, a note to my readers. I know people are reading this blog, not as many as usual, but people are reading it. So let’s have some feedback. An artist suffers without feedback from his loyal readers. So for all technophobes (Herb & Dad!!!!) I’ve written some instructions. It’s simple.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I’ve been reading back through the blog and realised that Abi and I have yet to comment on our trip to Barcelona. Although looking forward to the weekend I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful place to wander around and the architecture is so varied. From modern hotels to gothic buildings to Gaudi’s masterpieces. We walked for hours and covered a lot of the city centre. The highlight was walking back form La Sagrada Familia (bit of a building site) to the hotel on the last day. It took a while but it was such a nice afternoon, perfect for walking. We found a great café in a residential area and had a wonderful lunch for a fraction of the cost they charge tourists downtown. Fantastic.
While on the subject of architecture I thought I would mention my favourite building. New York’s Chrysler Building, slightly ahead of the Rockefeller Center and my own humble abode. La Sagrada Familia is interesting but it won’t be finished in my time. ‘Walter P. Chrysler wanted a provocative building which would not merely scrape the sky but positively pierce it.’ I’d be interested to see what other people think. Please stagger your comments as I’m having difficulty coping with the volume :-)
Wonderful headline in the Telegraph today, ‘All is lost after foolish final day’. I would imagine the red tops are a lot less restrained. Looks like England’s Cricket team has lived up to expectations. Seriously though, not everyone can be a winner. At least they can relax and enjoy the sights. Hahahaha
Quote for the day. 'If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven't understood the seriousness of the situation' David Brent
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I had an email from my dad this morning. He reminded me of the 3-0 bashing Spurs took off Arsenal last weekend. Thanks Dad!!! I blame the bloody players, someone ought to. This is a team that nearly (and I mean very nearly) took 4th place in the premiership last year. If it wasn't for some dodgy food in a second rate Marriott hotel they would be playing in the Champions League. Everyone looks to the manager. Take Glen Hoddle and Graeme Souness for example, they were both useless. Mind you anyone that wants to manage Newcastle must need their bumps reading. This is one of the biggest clubs in England that excels at under performing. I blame Alan Shearer. However, the players have a responsibility to perform as a team. How can they beat Chelsea one week get spanked by Reading the next!!!!!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Sydney was baking when I arrived, 30+ degrees and humid, but it cooled down later that afternoon and this evening its quite cold. The weather here is a little odd. One minute I’m sitting outside in a t-shirt having a flat white (coffee for you brits) and then, within the space of 30 minutes the temperature drops 10 degree’s. It felt like someone had turned the air conditioning on.
Work is going well, although nothing to get excited about. Plenty to keep me out of trouble over the next six weeks, including working over the holidays!!! Bugger!!! I’m doing a little Christmas shopping over the weekend and some advance planning for Abi’s arrival. I need to come up with some things to do while she’s here. A visit to the Cinema and the Hunter Valley are on the cards but any suggestions would be welcomed. Just click on the link underneath this entry to leave a comment.
I downloaded some Madness tracks on to my iPod before I left home. We received a free Madness Live CD in last Sunday’s daily mail. So with 24 hours to kill I thought I’d listen to something different. It bought back so many memories, flashbacks to school discos, the drainpipe trousers, white towelling sports socks, black loafers. Who can forget the opening line….’Good morning miss, can I help you son, 16 today and up for fun….’ singing about a 16 year old trying to buy some condoms. I think I’ll dig out some more 80’s classics, The Smiths (not Murray’s favourite, I have no idea why!!!), The Cult, The Cure, Talking Heads, Level 42, OMD, Japan…I could go on but I won’t.
Random thought of the day ‘If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?’ Answers on a postcard please.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
We’re both looking forward to spending time in Sydney although we will miss friends and family back home. We love the city and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of fun. Two invites to dinner on Christmas day and some idea of what to do on New Years Eve. Abi wants to watch the fireworks with 1.2 other people sitting on a blanket near the harbour. I want to watch it from my balcony sipping champagne and stuffing my face. Let’s see what we do.
Further updates will follow. For the moment here is a picture I found on the net of a typical Aussie xmas dinner.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
This weekend Abi and I are planning to explore the wonderful city of Barcelona. If you can get past the loud Americans and British Stag/Hen parties then it’s a great place to spend the weekend. Abi and I wandered around a little bit of the Gothic area last night, did a little window shopping & then sat outside a lovely restaurant drinking Rioja while watching the world go by. Perfect.
The hotel we’re staying at is awesome!!!!! The Cassa Camper. One of the best hotels we’ve EVER stayed at. Just off Las Ramblas near MOCBA (Museum of Contemporary Art). It’s on a quiet side street right in the middle of town. The location couldn’t be any better. It’s in a very old building yet has a modern feel to it. Only 25 rooms, so it’s not impersonal and every member of staff greets you as if you were a friend, but not in a ‘put on’ way. This is how hotels should be. Its a member of Design Hotels, a group of hotels 'united by progressive design'!!!
The Lobby is like a 50’s jazz club, with arty features, a map of Barcelona & then a seating area, where we can enjoy breakfast (made to order via a little ‘hatch’) in the 24hr self service area. This is equipped with snacks and drinks, salads, soups, pastries and in the morning cheeses & breads. The reception ‘desk’ is an informal (but organised) bar like area – so all in all, we are impressed and Rob will make me appreciate his hotel seeking skills for a while to come! (Rob’s just mentioned that www.tripadvisor.com is the perfect place to start searching for hotels whenever you travel – so he’s not taking all the credit!)
Right, breakfast is about to arrive – so we’ll catch up later. More on the wonders of Barcelona to come.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Well, here I am in cloudy Barcelona experiencing all that Microsoft has to offer. I’m attending Tech-Ed 2006, Microsoft’s conference for the top geeks in Europe.
Seriously though, it’s been interesting so far. A Key Note speech on the launch of Windows Vista & Office 2007, then a lecture on Application Architecture. This afternoon I’m attending lectures on Windows Mobile 2005 development and Business Process Modelling. If anyone wants to discuss this in detail please let me know.
More updates to follow….Keep watching this space and I'll share my innermost thoughts with you.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I've been asked if I've taken anything away with me. Thats something I need to think about for a while. At the moment I have no great desire to visit India again. It's not somewhere I would want to return to for pleasure or work.
On another note click on the Flickr pictures on the right hand side to see some photo's of my trip. I've also uploaded some photo's of the completed garden. We still have a lot of planting to do but it's looking good.
Abi is now on her way home and I imagine she's approaching Darwin about now. :-)
Friday, October 20, 2006
We bought our tickets and boarded the boat, we sat right on the top deck (of 3) and set off for stop 2 at Circular Quay, waited for people to board there too and once we were all sandwiched in (pretty full trip) off we set. The minute we turned the corner form C/Quay round towards Rose Bay the wind picked up, enough for me to put my cardi on. Within about 30 seconds the sun had disappeared, the clouds turned from fluffy white to dark grey and the 'gentle breeze' turned into a full on gale (another 'waste of hair product, time & effort' day!) and I then put my coat on and buttoned it up (fully!) colar turned up and everything.
We headed in the direction of Manley and then cut out to the ocean, heading into the waves & into the wind it got a little choppy, but all was well. One of the deck hands climbed up the mast (there must be health & safety issues about this!) to search the waves for whales, but after about 1.5kms out there was no sight, so we turned right and headed down the coast towards Bondi, once we'd turned the wind dropped right off and as we were going with and not against the current, the roll evened out too, so it was relatively easy to walk around and assist ourselves in the search. Just as we were about to head a little further out, a sighting was made. A mother & baby were 'blowing' up ahead. Once they've blown they then have 'down time' which can be anything up to 30mins, but the infants can only do this for about 5mins, so we didn't have long to wait until they came up again, but they obviously don't come up in the same spot so the hunt was on! The boats are allowed to get within 100mtrs (Dad, that'll be circa 300 feet) of the adults, but when with calves it's 200mtrs. We followed them around for a while trying to ascertain which direction they were going in & at one point the calf popped up right by the side of the boat & then appeared to go underneath us. Now this is obviously closer than we're permitted, but all it means is the boat is not to move or attempt to follow them. Sadly we didn't get any breaching (full jump out of water), all we saw were the dorsal fins (as per the picture) and a couple of 'tail up dives' but not as pronounced as the picture here (due to the wave height probably!). Whilst we were all enthalled & trying to take pictures, the clouds were banking up behind us and then a weather report came through about the rain, so we headed further out to try to avoid it (it didn't work) - there was a mad dash for cover and it poured down, obviously the wind picked up too and that was me done .. I had to sit down and shut eyes (with the comfort of a little sick bag I'd taken off the crew - just incase!) fortunately all remained where is should, but we spotted no more whales either :-(
I would, without a doubt, do it again, but they are easier to spot in calmer waters (by all accounts!) and obviously it makes for a slightly more relaxing trip! The thing to see is the breach - I know it's all luck of the draw, but how amazing would that be to see 'in the flesh'...?
We came back to the apartment, had a quick shower & rearranged 'mad hair' and then we went to dinner with Rob's friends sister & husband and had a super Vietnamesse meal (my first time - quite yummy) I even tried a little bit of Emu (don't all faint) it was very dark meat (and in veg & sauce), quite strong taste but I couldn't say of what.... well, Emu probably!!
The weather so far today is still grotty (but dry) - Rob's now back home and I'll be off tomorrow :-) off to the Maritime Museum this afternoon as Chris wants to go on the submarine and then for a little retails therapy, although I've no room in my lugguage, so it'll be window shopping only for me.
Final trauma - all the leads we got for the Exhibition (400 dead) were on a scanner, which we then handed in to be downloaded, we were told we'd be able to access the information on a website as they'd provide us with a password and login - got all the info and had a quick look this morning, to be met by less than 200 details ... have shot off a bit of a frantic email to their technical department to find out what's going on and shall await their response. I will not be a happy girlie if it's not retrievable - but we shall wait and see..... This goes no way to convince me that there is anything better than a physical print out!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I put this down to a Chinese I had on Friday night. It was the spiciest thing I've had since I've been here. How you can make a very spicy Chinese???? It's supposed to be tame. The crispy duck was awful and I should have finished at that point. Did I???? Noooooo!!!!!! I couldn't let the Piper family down. Nobody in Abi's family leaves a Chinese untouched. I had to finish it or I would have to return home hanging my head in shame. I felt rough on Sunday, stayed in the hotel on Monday but came into work Tuesday. Today (Wednesday) I awoke with stomach cramps and rushed to the bathroom. I'll spare you the details but let me just say it's an experience I don’t want to repeat.
I'm taking antibiotics and diarrhoea tablets in the hope it will clear up before I leave on Friday. I really should have started them on Sunday but fingers crossed it will be fine tomorrow. For the time being I'm going to stick to a diet of bread and lots of water (bottled of course!!!). I hope you aren’t reading this over breakfast :-(
Sunday, October 15, 2006
It was then onto the Toohey's bar on the corner for a couple more drinks before heading back to the hotel. For those of you who don't know, I'm away with Chris (boss) and we'd met up with a guy from another company who Rob & I met for dinner a few weeks back, as he's looking to open an Australian 'arm' of a UK Company and wanted to pick my brains with regards sales areas / markets and opportunities as they work predominently in the construction industry too. I've already assisted him with the likes of relevant legislation and some leads, but told him I wasn't interested in using him in any sales role, whilst he set up his own business, but he thought that he'd ask Chris anyway - it felt kind of good when he was told that no, it was I who had the say with regards to Australia, and whatever I'd told him, was where Scafftag stood :-)
Jet lag kicked in and I called it a night about 1am, but the guys went to another couple of bars and Chris got in gone 3am. I set the alarm this morning for 9.30, read for a bit and then went back to sleep, eventually crawling out about 1pm and we went out through Sydney, under the bridge, through the Rocks, down to Circular Quay where we had some dinner & then had to go & purchase umbrellas to escape the rain :-) We went up to the 17th floor of the hotel to look at the view & have a martini (shan't be partaking in another - it was supposed to be on 'crushed baby apples' but was like pure vodka with an un-pitted olive!). Then the Scottish Footie started & it was off to the Sports Bar downstairs .... his side is winning though, so unlike Rags, he's happy (so far)!
Tomorrow we have to set up for the exhibition, but I hope the weather will improve. It's about an hour on the ferry to the Olympic Park and it's the first time I've been there, so I'm looking forward to seeing it - it shouldn't take more than 1/2 a day to set up the stand, all being well everything will have arrived & be waiting there for us just to assemble, we're then off to the Botanical Gardens for a wander & a view of the fruit bats.
As Rob'll know ever since we've been coming to Sydney, I've wanted to do a whale-watching cruise, but we've never done it. Then on my last trip it was out of season, so tonight I went via the boat trip place & found that viewings are guaranteeed until November, so I'm going on Friday - keep your fingers crossed for me!
Well, that's about my lot for now my bed is calling, so I trust all is well in the rest of the world & I'll update again soon xx
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I’ve had some interesting comments over the past few days. Please keep them coming, it’s good to know people are reading this and I appreciate the feedback. One person in particular made a comment regarding attitudes to different cultures and poverty in general. I appreciate that there are many differences between the UK and India or what I refer to as the Western culture and the ‘third world’. It’s been pointed out to me that this ‘difference’ is religious & material.
Looking at the India I’ve seen I would say that, like us, status is also sometimes judged by material wealth. We don’t have a caste system, but a class system. No so much based upon who your family is but what you earn and the way you present yourself to society. The differences are difficult for me to understand. How people can live and work surrounded by poverty. How you can sit in a 5 star hotel while people stave outside. I appreciate that things MAY be better in the ‘next live’ but don’t most people live for today or at the very least ‘this life’. Everyone has their own idea of what a comfortable life would be. Some may want to win the lottery, others may want to retire to a nice part of the country and some want a change in job or a full stomach every day. This is determined by the environment you live in and the people you interact with. Who am I to say what is right or wrong?!?!?
So ‘pot stirrer’ keep those comments coming. I’m interested to see what you say next. Will you reveal your identity?
I’m off to explore the city tomorrow. I’m not feeling too well today. A bit of a spicy Chinese meal last night and a very hot curry the night before. I think it’s time to rest and recover. ONLY 5 MORE DAYS AND I’M BACK….Praise the lord!!!!!!!
More to come tomorrow – be good :-)
Friday, October 13, 2006
I’ve been here a week and I’m starting to get over the culture shock I experienced on arrival. India is difficult to get to grips with when you come from an organised Western society. The traffic seems chaotic, most buildings would be condemned in the UK and the poverty is appalling. Just this morning I saw four guys riding on a small motorcycle and another guy washing himself in a puddle at the side of the road. We refer to our hotel as the ‘Oasis’. It’s like a small, tranquil haven in the middle of the cesspool they call Kolkata. Sorry to sound a little harsh but that’s how I feel.
I don’t think I’m working this weekend so my colleague and I are trying to see what we can do this weekend. Apparently a tour of the city, stopping off at the major sights, will take a couple of hours. There isn’t a great deal to see, have a look at Wikipedia’s entry on Kolkata for the highlights. Other than that I plan to spend some time by the pool reading and then preparing for next week. I might just head down to the bar at some point and have a few cold Kingfishers!!!!
I’d like to thank everyone who contacted me about my blog. Long may it continue!!!! Right, I must get on, more UK jobs to outsource and lots of eager Indians to train.
Be well :-)