juliet: (australia - kata tjuta)
I realised the other day that I never got round to uploading my photos from cycling the Great Ocean Road, and meandering around West Australia.

Great Ocean Road to Mt Gambier
South and West Australia
juliet: (Default)
I am in Adelaide, on the ship. Which was due to leave 0700 today (this involved an 0600 Customs visit[0]), then 1100 today, and now 1300 or later. I am getting a little antsy; it's a bit neither-one-thing-nor-the-other, waiting to have left but not actually being gone.

I have just spent ten minutes trying to write things about one or more of:
- Australia in general
- the last fortnight in particular
- people I care about
- the waiting-room feeling of being sat on the ship, here but not quite
- the feeling of having a brain overstuffed with Things that I can't quite get a handle on right now
- [a whole bunch of complicated emotional stuff about going and leaving and people that I can't even manage to write clearly about in this kind of non-specific summary form]

and yes, have basically failed to be able to say anything that is not one or both of trite or uninformative (or something else equally unhelpful), so I am going to give up for now.

ION: my cabin is enormous (sitting room, bedroom, bathroom), my window looks forward towards the bow, and I've been watching big cranes loading containers since I boarded yesterday. I am right up top just below the bridge (which apparently I can visit whenever I like as long as I keep out of the way etc). Have met the Captain & Chief Engineer (both v friendly chaps), and a couple of the crew - I'm the only passenger until we reach Auckland on Saturday night.

Due into Oakland (SF) on the 16th, at present. It should be an interesting 3 wks; I am hoping that my belief in my immunity to seasickness proves to be correct!

[0] They asked me more questions than I'm used to getting from passport control - were you on a work visa, when did you get here, were you also working in Mongolia/Vietnam/etc (after looking at my Extensive Visa Collection), why are you boarding at Adelaide when you've been living in Sydney - and then had to hunt through their bag of passport stamps to find the right one. "We don't have to do this much - I've only ever stamped 4 regular passengers out!" one of them said.
juliet: (Default)
Tasmania photos.

I am in Melbourne now - left Sydney Sunday night. Which is weird.

Snippets

May. 8th, 2009 09:45 pm
juliet: (Default)
Two nice chaps from Pack&Send showed up this morning (on time, even!) and took my boxes away (2 x clothes/books/random crap, 1 x Cepheus-the-bike[0]). I am now left with (I hope...) belongings sufficient to fit into 1 x big rucksack & 1 x small rucksack. And the sheets, which I intend to post home from Melbourne, because 2 nights in a sleeping bag would feel just that bit too much like camping out, and would make me sad.

Last surf was this lunchtime. Wah. Conditions a bit choppy, but I had the fun anyway. I should mention at this point that Let's Go Surfing are awesome & I strongly recommend them. The instructors were good, but as well as that, all the staff have been consistently helpful and friendly every time I've been in. They look after your stuff for you while you're hiring, they're happy to advise on conditions (even by phone, so you can check if it's worth going down there), & the couple of times I've spotted an instructor when I've been out on my own & in need of information[1], they've been happy to help. Yay for them.

The ship I will be going to Mexico on! This is the couple I met on the train through Malaysia, back in November. I am v much looking forward to the trip, although sadly I do have stuff I have to get done while I'm on board. (ah, the joys of freelancing...)

Leaving Sydney on Sunday...

Oh yes, some links:
* Tiny pigs!
* Lovelace & Babbage Vs The Economy! Pt 1, Pt 2.

[0] The packing process would have been *easier* if they made bike boxes a bit bloody bigger. e.g. big enough so that you only need to take *one* wheel off. grumble.
[1] e.g. "I've just been stung by a bluebottle[2]. If I ignore it, will my foot fall off?" Ans: no. Also "This board is seriously playing up." "That's because it's 9' and you want 8' or 8'6". Go swap it with that one that's on the beach there."
[2] On Tuesday I was at the Australian Museum & found out that bluebottles are not actually single jellyfish organisms, but collections of zooids! This was v exciting.

More photos

May. 7th, 2009 11:52 pm
juliet: (Default)
Photos of Darwin down to Melbourne. Mostly photos of Uluru, unsurprisingly. But also features lizards!

Bloody hell, I am *knackered*. Must go to bed forthwith. Have to get up early tomorrow to pack Cepheus-the-bike up into a box (poor Cepheus!), and then after the boxes are collected, I want to go down the beach, but will have to get a *bus* to do so. Horrors.
juliet: Uluru, NT, Australia, just before sunset (australia - uluru)
I've just finished reading a splendid book by Tim Flannery, called The Explorers: Stories of Discovery and Adventure from The Australian Frontier. It's a collection of extracts from the journals/reports/etc of various of the explorers of Australia. (Flannery does note the problem whereby it's the European accounts, and largely male accounts, that we get, and there's at least one eyewitness account from an Aboriginal guide to an expedition.) It's fascinating reading, showing the physical and mental problems that the European explorers had to handle, their attempts to make sense of the country and the people, and the wide variety of attitudes to the indigenous Australians that they met. Anyway, a couple of extracts particularly caught my fancy:

I understand now very well what it is that makes the Papalangis so selfish -- it is this money! )

the usual hospitalities of Australian camps )

living, raw, dying [warning: bit gruesome!] )


no place to go to bed in )

We were fascinated by it )

OK, I could probably quote lots more bits but will stop there. It's well worth a read.

Photos!

May. 3rd, 2009 10:37 pm
juliet: Sydney Harbour Bridge seen from the Opera House at night, with part of the Opera House  (sydney)
Finally getting around to uploading some photos, including ones from this week.

Sydney (including the view from my roof).

Mardi Gras.

Great Barrier Reef.
juliet: (australia - kata tjuta)
Am returned from my brief sojourn as desert island castaway. I spent last night camped on Lady Musgrave Island, which is right at the south end of the Great Barrier Reef. I spent most of the time either sitting on the beach admiring the sea, sitting on the beach admiring the stars, or snorkelling[0] around over the reef admiring the coral, fishes, sea slugs, etc etc.

So many fish! With many exciting colours! Neon yellow/green fish, and pinky-blue fish, and zebra fish, and an awesome black fish with light blue polkadots. Also sand-coloured fish that hide by staying very very still over the sandy sea-bed. Lots of the little fish dive in and out of the coral when they're alarmed, which is v cute. I also saw a little fish swimming along with a much bigger one and snuffling along its side, which I assume was some kind of cleaner fish.

Saw one smallish manta ray yesterday afternoon on the reef by the island (it was hiding in the sand then shot out and away when I came too close), and then today when out by the boat, a *huge* ray just pottering along in one of the gaps between patches of coral, wiggling its fins lazily. I swam along after it for a while, then turned to head back -- and saw a green turtle equally lazily coming up the same patch of sea! Turtle!

Plus there were deep purple starfish, and lots of clams (I have never seen a clam before!), and about another squillion sorts of excitingly-coloured fishes, and lots of sea-slugs. Plus of course the coral itself, which is gorgeous & comes in lots of forms.

There were also a vast number of buff-banded rails and black noddies (both of these are types of bird) on the island itself, who shat all over my tent & woke me up at 5am, which was considerate of them.

Executive summary: seriously awesome, although was v glad to get back to hot shower to wash all the salt water off. Tomorrow I have outrageously early start to head back to Brisbane, then Sydney on Sat.

[0] I knew that those snorkelling lessons in Beckenham swimming pool, which must have been over 15 yrs ago now, would pay off sometime! I even remembered now to dive underwater and not drown when you resurface; although snorkel technology seems to have improved in the last 15 yrs, as these ones had a little valve in the bottom of the pipe so that you don't have to blow the water all the way out of the top. Whilst on the subject of 'things that will only be remembered by [livejournal.com profile] wezpez': I have had the 'Robinson Crusoe' song from Watch ('far away on an island', that one) in my head off & on for the last 24 hrs.

Anzac Day

Apr. 28th, 2009 09:41 pm
juliet: (australia - kata tjuta)
Last Saturday was Anzac Day, which is very roughly speaking the Australia/New Zealand version of Remembrance Day. I went down to the Cenotaph on Martin Place in Sydney for the dawn service.

The idea of a dawn service was the first difference I noticed - I'm used to Remembrance Day services being around 11:00 (for known reasons). Not that it was actually dawn (4:15 - 5:00, and sunrise was maybe 6:00). There were a surprisingly large number of people down there, given the hour -- Cityrail put on special trains from the far suburbs to get people there on time. Also a noticable number of people in uniforms -- I'm told Sydney has a fair concentration of service-people. (Although having said that, I've never been to the central London service at the Cenotaph to compare.)

The service itself was much the same as I'm familiar with. Flag parties, hymns, a brief address, a reading of For the Fallen (3rd and 4th stanzas both, though, rather than just the 4th). I was slightly surprised when we got the UK national anthem[0] at the end, though (written on the programme as the 'Royal Hymn', without the words printed), before the NZ and Australian anthems (words printed, which was good as it meant I could join in!).

When I talked to [personal profile] damned_colonial and [personal profile] chrisf afterwards, both of them felt that Anzac Day has a stronger feeling of memorial than it does of glory. (I have complicated issues around the ideas of glorification of war that I feel do tend to make part of Remembrance Day at home, although I also feel very strongly that the memorial part is very important.) I'm not sure how much that came across in the service itself: possibly a little. But I'm not sure that it's *possible* to take that aspect out of a fundamentally military service.

There's also the idea of Anzac Day as a sort of birth of the Australian nation, which perhaps encourages some idea of glorification? (The ideals of mateship and a 'fair go' are the ones that I've seen referred to.)

It's very hard for me to comment on the extent to which the general Australian awareness of / attitude to Anzac Day is the one that's reflected in, say, "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda". Both my sample Aussies :) were certainly very aware of the 'total hideous mess' aspect of Gallipoli (apparently the soldiers had the bullets removed from their bayonets before going over the top, in case they accidentally shot each other in the back. Presumably in the handful of seconds before the Turks shot them in the front), and also the colonialism aspects.

(It occurs to me that I'm not sure to what extent the 'hideous mess' aspects of the Europe part of WWI are general knowledge at home. I mean, the carnage, yes, but *is* it general knowledge just how unbelievably, criminally ignorant and incompetent those[1] in charge were? Or is it seen as a tragedy without direct responsibility, or with more complicated responsibility?)

I think perhaps the dawn aspect of the service lends itself to slightly more contemplation than does a daytime service, and that did make things feel slightly different. More about memorial, and empathy, and fellow-feeling; less about the uniforms and militarisation. (Despite the presence of uniforms and flag parties and so on.) And that is something that I find far preferable.

I'm afraid this is a slightly rambly post. This is an issue I have confused feelings about (possibly more so since Pete's and my visit to Flanders last year), and I don't think I've gotten much further with sorting out those feelings. (I probably wouldn't have gotten around to posting this at all, except that I promised [personal profile] damned_colonial I would. On which note, see her post on the subject.)

One final thing: on Anzac Day it is legal to gamble on the game two-up pretty much anywhere you want to, where normally gambling of any sort is strictly limited[2]. This is because two-up (it's a coin game) was played a lot by the Anzac soldiers. I find this - faintly peculiar, as a memorial!

[0] Which I actually sang, for the first time in *years*: as an atheist republican I have Issues with it, but I kind of felt that as one of the presumably reasonably few Brits present I should show willing, or hm, something. I dislike the word 'patriotism' but it *is* my country.
[1] Gender-neutral language note: I wanted to say the *men* in charge, because hey, it *was*, but I don't think I want to have that particular debate as I'm not at all comfortable with the 'women would have handled it better' argument.
[2] On a side-note: which are the games that are listed on that thing that hangs in UK pubs as legitimate to gamble on? Cribbage, shove-ha'penny, bar billiards, dominoes... I thought there were 7? I think it's now supposed to be 'games of skill', but I'm sure there used to be a List.
juliet: (Default)
Update on my meanderings through QLD! I am now safely arrived at Agnes Water. The bus reached Fingerboard Road (having provided entertainment in the form of Intolerable Cruelty en route: score), and lo! it was a patch of gravel off the side of the road, with a whole lot of nothing surrounding it and a (closed) roadhouse up the way. But! there was also a shuttle bus for Agnes Water, which took me (the sole customer) the 40k or whatever into town (this appears to be some kind of deal with Greyhound, in that I didn't pay any more money for it), and delivered me to a hostel.

So now I have a bed, a beer, access to electricity, and all hail Telstra, for lo! the modem works still.

(I was intending to camp here as well as on the island, but I didn't fancy setting up at the cheap public campsite (or indeed anywhere else) in the pitch black tonight, and the cost of a bed here is about the same as the cost of a pitch at the campsite down the road for tomorrow night. (And here they are helpful about things like sorting you out transportation to the marina for 6am.))

Only downside: the shuttle bus dude says there's no surf atm :( Oh well, I will go swimming instead, & then I will sit on the beach for a bit. And then I will do some work (deadlines this week!).

night all.

ETA: I have found where they're keeping all the stars! In the middle of nowhere in Australia. Even better than at Confest because it's a new moon atm. I am hoping *very hard* for clear skies when I'm out on Lady Musgrave Island.
juliet: (round the world)
Arrived in Bundaberg an hr late, so now will be catching another bus in 90 min or so to Fingerboard Road roadhouse, where I will stop overnight (possibly on the floor there, or possibly by pitching the tent somewhere, depending on what the people there say) & get a connection to Agnes Water in the morning. This is an improvement on the other option which is to spend tomorrow in Bundaberg (there is not v much of interest in Bundaberg, unless you like rum, which I don't so much), get to Agnes Water late tomorrow evening, & not be able to go surfing and/or sit by the beach with a nice drink at all.

The effects of spending the last 7 months gallivanting around the world now become clear: I am entirely sanguine about this situation (though admittedly would have *preferred* just to get the damn bus on time).

( The lovely ppl on #dw offered to chip in for a motel if I was stranded due to cash crisis, bless them :)
[me gets happy warm feeling] )
juliet: (tea)
I love overnight trains for the time-savings (do not waste entire day with 14 hr journey!) but do not love them for the experience of trying to sleep in an upright seat. Or even two upright seats. What I really love in overnight trains is where they have proper sleepers which I can actually afford (c.f. Russia, China, Vietnam, SE Asia generally. Actually even the London-Scotland sleepers are affordable with advance tickets, as was the Cologne-Moscow one. The Sydney-Brisbane service doesn't have any sort of sleeper.).

Anyway! So after maybe 6 hrs of interrupted sleep and a 7am arrival into Brisbane, I went in search of COFFEE and now I am vibrating slightly. (And feel a little unwell, which is my *other* reaction to the consumption of caffeine.) On the upside, actually did Useful Work (of the sort that translates into Useful Cash) over breakfast. (Should now do more Useful Work, really.)

Things that are the awesome:
* wireless modem enabling me to sit on floor in Roma St station & have internets, also in cafe & have internets, etc etc.
* nice person who let me have the time remaining in their locker for free (even if I was v slightly suspicious about this & did not *entirely* relax until I was back here & could rescue rucksack).
* it is sunny in Brisbane!
* I am going to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef!

Thing which is really really awesome: went surfing yesterday morning & actually got on waves at the *correct* point, viz, before rather than after they had broken. (Baby surfers learn on the white water bit; being a big wuss, I kind of got stuck there for a while.) Admittedly the waves in question were pretty titchy, but still. The advantage of having spent so much time messing around in the white water is that I'm now pretty confident/comfortable on the board once I'm on my feet. Hopefully will get a bit of surfing in tomorrow in Agnes Water assuming the conditions are anything like.

Equally hopefully, will make my bus connection (should have 15 min for a 1km walk... I might give the coach terminal a ring, they're usually quite helpful about this sort of thing IME) this afternoon. Otherwise I will have to get a bus to Fingerboard Road, wild camp overnight (I am in fact equipped to do this if need be, assuming I can get water in Bundaberg, since the next few days includes a night's pack-everything-including-water-in camping on a coral island), & get another bus to Agnes Water in the morning.

Have now booked my train ticket to Melbourne in a fortnight's time, as well as booking shipping home for Cepheus-the-bike and a tea-chest full of Stuff, and telling my not-exactly-landlady when I'm leaving[0]. Which is all a little alarming, and also sad. Not that I'll make it back home before the start of July, mind: freighter travel is what you might call *sedate* in its speed.

This post brought to you by a combination of caffeine and sleep deprivation. Whee!

[0] NB: anyone sending letters that will leave the UK after about the start of May, or parcels[1] that will leave the UK after the start of this week: these should prob be sent c/o my cousin Carol in Melbourne.
[1] This is not just wild optimism, I am expecting at least one parcel before I leave :)
juliet: (Default)
(dammit, bring on the crossposter: this originally posted on LJ on Tuesday evening Very Late.)

Executive summary of Confest: enormous amounts of awesomeness, many very splendid people, some challenging stuff that I'm still processing, lots & lots of dust, lovely river, naked dancing by fire to drumming (hello am big hippy), did I mention the awesome people?

More to follow. Am bloody knackered now due to 13 hr drive home (shared driving with Chris, who is an excellent person to share a 13 hr drive with due to a) not minding my music, b) not minding my singing, c) singing as well!, & d) politely pointing out when I'd forgotten about 5th gear rather than demanding that I stop the car forthwith & let him drive it instead.

I am now showered & moderately clean (my feet are going to take some soaking to get *all* the dirt out... it was really very dusty). Tiredness can be measured by fact that I got into the shower and stood waiting for the water to heat up for a good couple of minutes before I realised that I'd put the cold tap on. Then spent next 5 min trying to work out whether the taps are the wrong way round, & which way round which of the Four Squares taps are. But due to consumption of coffee at 21:30 to do last bit of drive am now wired at same time as tired, thus on internets rather than e.g. asleep. Also am scared will have enormous post-festival emotional crash the moment I stop doing stuff.[0]

In less good news: opened fridge to find SOMETHING SCUTTLING OMG FUCK. I screamed quietly & shut the fridge again v fast. CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS RIGHT NOW HOW THE HELL DID IT GET IN THERE ARGH. Maybe it's a big hairy spider that came in with the bananas rather than a cockroach. We can but hope.

ANYWAY yes hot chocolate now. Hello!

[0] 'Hm,' I thought on the way home, 'actually I haven't had major post-festival crash for ages! Maybe I am better at dealing with it these days.' Then I realised that these days, the Bermondsey Collective in some form or other gathers up at our place for the days/evenings immediately post-festival & thus crash is nicely cushioned. Oh dear. I anticipate tomorrow being a bit *hairy*, esp with article deadline as well. Pls send fluff.
juliet: (Default)
Executive summary of Confest: enormous amounts of awesomeness, many very splendid people, some challenging stuff that I'm still processing, lots & lots of dust, lovely river, naked dancing by fire to drumming (hello am big hippy), did I mention the awesome people?

More to follow. Am bloody knackered now due to 13 hr drive home (shared driving with Chris, who is an excellent person to share a 13 hr drive with due to a) not minding my music, b) not minding my singing, c) singing as well!, & d) politely pointing out when I'd forgotten about 5th gear rather than demanding that I stop the car forthwith & let him drive it instead.

I am now showered & moderately clean (my feet are going to take some soaking to get *all* the dirt out... it was really very dusty). Tiredness can be measured by fact that I got into the shower and stood waiting for the water to heat up for a good couple of minutes before I realised that I'd put the cold tap on. Then spent next 5 min trying to work out whether the taps are the wrong way round, & which way round which of the Four Squares taps are. But due to consumption of coffee at 21:30 to do last bit of drive am now wired at same time as tired, thus on internets rather than e.g. asleep. Also am scared will have enormous post-festival emotional crash the moment I stop doing stuff.[0]

In less good news: opened fridge to find SOMETHING SCUTTLING OMG FUCK. I screamed quietly & shut the fridge again v fast. CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS RIGHT NOW HOW THE HELL DID IT GET IN THERE ARGH. Maybe it's a big hairy spider that came in with the bananas rather than a cockroach. We can but hope.

ANYWAY yes hot chocolate now. Hello!

[0] 'Hm,' I thought on the way home, 'actually I haven't had major post-festival crash for ages! Maybe I am better at dealing with it these days.' Then I realised that these days, the Bermondsey Collective in some form or other gathers up at our place for the days/evenings immediately post-festival & thus crash is nicely cushioned. Oh dear. I anticipate tomorrow being a bit *hairy*, esp with article deadline as well. Pls send fluff.
juliet: (Default)
I have had a very busy week!

Wednesday I headed up to the Blue Mountains, for a day's walkabout with Blue Mountains Walkabout, an Aboriginal owned and guided operation. It was, of course, absolutely pissing it down, but they don't cancel for bad weather, so we set off as planned from Faulconbridge. (Three of us plus Evan the guide.)

(A general note: any statements made about Aboriginal culture are my best understanding of what I've read about/been told. I am very open to any corrections if I've gotten things wrong & anyone reading this wants to correct me!)

walking about )

I'd very strongly recommend it to anyone who's in the area -- very much worth it. Although I was shattered by the time I got home!

I have also been doing much socialising: met [livejournal.com profile] cryx for coffee on Thursday, in a nice fair-trade place in Glebe which had vegan chocolate cupcakes! And the company was excellent :) Friday night I went over to [livejournal.com profile] geekboyoz's, for pizza & several episodes of True Blood (which is gory, slightly ridiculous, & has a ludicrous amount of sex in, but which is v entertaining). And I am v fond of just hanging out with nice people. Then yesterday I met up with [livejournal.com profile] electricant for a couple of beers at the Red Oak, which is a beer cafe/microbrewery. Good beer & good conversation = a splendid thing!

Things that I have broken this week:
- my socks (see above).
- the Tab key on the eeeeeepc, after it booted up with weird keys-not-working, & I took some keycaps off to have a look, and then broke the Tab key getting it back on. (And halfway broke the 2, as well.) Next time I booted it: no problems. GO FIGURE.
- the extension cable on the USB modem (at least, that is my current conclusion for why it drops out intermittently if I'm using the extension cable when on the sofa).
- my plans for returning home, in that the freighter to SF is now delayed, so I won't make the QM2, & am thus getting a freighter from Philadelphia to Tilbury instead. And will miss Glastonbury, & [livejournal.com profile] uon's sister's wedding. Boo. Still: could be worse. Thumbs crossed nothing else changes!

I have also discovered that I appear to have developed some kind of surfing-dependency. Hadn't been in all week (due to bluebottles at first, & then torrential downpour), and have been off/on grumpy all week. Went down this morning & spent two hrs pissing around on a board (I am getting better!), came out feeling outrageously cheerful, and got lots of work done in the afternoon. Fvck knows what I'm going to do when I get back to London; either visit Brighton[3] a *lot*, or find something else equally cheering.

Surfing is aces partly because I really don't think about anything else *but* the waves & what I/my board is doing for the entire time I'm in the water. And the waves just keep coming! It's like meditation, but with additional going 'zoom'! And then falling off and getting half a ton of water & sand up your nose, but there we go. (I have surfing calluses on my hands now. I am v proud.)

[0] Songs have many functions in Aboriginal culture: lore/laws, social information, stories, navigation... a songline is a route between various sacred/ceremonial/etc sites.
[1] The Aboriginal group that used to live here were the Darug, but the last full-blooded Darug person died in the 19th c -- the population was very heavily hit by a smallpox epidemic immediately after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. The only Darug remaining are people who have Darug ancestry -- they're trying to recapture/rebuild what they can of their cultural knowledge, but a lot of it is lost forever now. Evan said that he spends a lot of his spare time looking for Aboriginal sites in the Blue Mountains.
[2] Dreamtime is not a very good translation of the concept -- I get the impression that it doesn't translate well at all into English. I've heard it before translated as lore/laws/cultural understanding (by the Anangu people up by Uluru). Evan described it more as a way of being/experiencing; as being in touch with country/land and with what's going on around you. The link between lore/understanding and country is very, very strong in Aboriginal culture.
[3] I gather Brighton has a surfing beach?
juliet: (swimming in the sea!)
I have had a very busy week!

Wednesday I headed up to the Blue Mountains, for a day's walkabout with Blue Mountains Walkabout, an Aboriginal owned and guided operation. It was, of course, absolutely pissing it down, but they don't cancel for bad weather, so we set off as planned from Faulconbridge. (Three of us plus Evan the guide.)

(A general note: any statements made about Aboriginal culture are my best understanding of what I've read about/been told. I am very open to any corrections if I've gotten things wrong & anyone reading this wants to correct me!)

walking about )

I'd very strongly recommend it to anyone who's in the area -- very much worth it. Although I was shattered by the time I got home!

I have also been doing much socialising: met [livejournal.com profile] cryx for coffee on Thursday, in a nice fair-trade place in Glebe which had vegan chocolate cupcakes! And the company was excellent :) Friday night I went over to [livejournal.com profile] geekboyoz's, for pizza & several episodes of True Blood (which is gory, slightly ridiculous, & has a ludicrous amount of sex in, but which is v entertaining). And I am v fond of just hanging out with nice people. Then yesterday I met up with [livejournal.com profile] electricant for a couple of beers at the Red Oak, which is a beer cafe/microbrewery. Good beer & good conversation = a splendid thing!

Things that I have broken this week:
- my socks (see above).
- the Tab key on the eeeeeepc, after it booted up with weird keys-not-working, & I took some keycaps off to have a look, and then broke the Tab key getting it back on. (And halfway broke the 2, as well.) Next time I booted it: no problems. GO FIGURE.
- the extension cable on the USB modem (at least, that is my current conclusion for why it drops out intermittently if I'm using the extension cable when on the sofa).
- my plans for returning home, in that the freighter to SF is now delayed, so I won't make the QM2, & am thus getting a freighter from Philadelphia to Tilbury instead. And will miss Glastonbury, & [livejournal.com profile] uon's sister's wedding. Boo. Still: could be worse. Thumbs crossed nothing else changes!

I have also discovered that I appear to have developed some kind of surfing-dependency. Hadn't been in all week (due to bluebottles at first, & then torrential downpour), and have been off/on grumpy all week. Went down this morning & spent two hrs pissing around on a board (I am getting better!), came out feeling outrageously cheerful, and got lots of work done in the afternoon. Fvck knows what I'm going to do when I get back to London; either visit Brighton[3] a *lot*, or find something else equally cheering.

Surfing is aces partly because I really don't think about anything else *but* the waves & what I/my board is doing for the entire time I'm in the water. And the waves just keep coming! It's like meditation, but with additional going 'zoom'! And then falling off and getting half a ton of water & sand up your nose, but there we go. (I have surfing calluses on my hands now. I am v proud.)

[0] Songs have many functions in Aboriginal culture: lore/laws, social information, stories, navigation... a songline is a route between various sacred/ceremonial/etc sites.
[1] The Aboriginal group that used to live here were the Darug, but the last full-blooded Darug person died in the 19th c -- the population was very heavily hit by a smallpox epidemic immediately after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. The only Darug remaining are people who have Darug ancestry -- they're trying to recapture/rebuild what they can of their cultural knowledge, but a lot of it is lost forever now. Evan said that he spends a lot of his spare time looking for Aboriginal sites in the Blue Mountains.
[2] Dreamtime is not a very good translation of the concept -- I get the impression that it doesn't translate well at all into English. I've heard it before translated as lore/laws/cultural understanding (by the Anangu people up by Uluru). Evan described it more as a way of being/experiencing; as being in touch with country/land and with what's going on around you. The link between lore/understanding and country is very, very strong in Aboriginal culture.
[3] I gather Brighton has a surfing beach?

An update

Jan. 31st, 2009 05:08 pm
juliet: (australia - kata tjuta)

Things I have been up to of late:

  • Seeing Leonard Cohen, who was awesome, and I nearly cried, er, several times (Hallelujah was one of them; also I think the spoken word version of Thousand Kisses Deep). Very, very much worth it, even if I was right at the back (the advantages of a seated gig: decent raking, decent acoustics, so it didn't actually matter that much).
  • Surfing! Another lesson yesterday (at Bondi Beach this time). It wound up being a small class (only 4 of us) & all girls, and the instructor was incredibly enthusiastic and made cheering noises whenever any of us did anything remotely competent. I stood up all the way in! Albeit in a slightly wobbly fashion. Intending to get a couple more practices in by myself before the next lesson.
  • Getting up before dawn (i.e. 4.45am) this morning to go down to Bondi for the Dawn Chorus concert. It was lovely, and surprisingly popular. After which I went for a sunrise swim, which was also lovely. Bondi is pretty busy by 7.30am on a Saturday morning. Doubtless more so today because of the concert, but the lifeguards are there from 6am every morning in the summer.
  • Getting noticably fitter, thanks to a) the fact that Sydney is full of hills, & that there is at least one hill (depending on your definitions) each way between my flat & the two places I cycle to most often, viz the CBD, and Bondi; and b) carrying the bike up & down the stairs daily (I can now lift it straight up to my shoulder. I'll be doing cyclocross next.) Also clearly losing my mind, as evinced when I decided to race a roadie up the second half of the hill out of Bondi this morning. (I held him off till the last couple of hundred yards, which wasn't bad given that he was on Snazzy Unladen Bike & I had a pannier full of crap, as ever.)
  • Enjoying this whole "freelance & therefore no fixed hours" business. Hurrah.
  • Progressing to the point where I am capable of trapping a cockroach with the glass/paper trick & chucking it out of a window. What with that & the obsessive-nightly-kitchen-cleaning, I haven't seen anything scuttling for a couple of days, which I am tentatively labelling a Win.
  • Going native: not only have I acquired a pair of thongs, but the word I use for them in my head is "thongs" (this being Aussie for flipflops). They are strictly for the beach (I can confirm that sand + bike sandals Does Not Mix, so the bike sandals get locked to the bike on arrival) and for going upstairs to the washing machine on the roof, not for walking around the street, so I haven't gone that native. I have however worn running shorts to go to the supermarket, which I would never have done in the UK. It's quite a lot warmer here, in my defence. (I love the running shorts.)

I think that's it, more or less.

An update

Jan. 31st, 2009 05:08 pm
juliet: (australia - kata tjuta)

Things I have been up to of late:

  • Seeing Leonard Cohen, who was awesome, and I nearly cried, er, several times (Hallelujah was one of them; also I think the spoken word version of Thousand Kisses Deep). Very, very much worth it, even if I was right at the back (the advantages of a seated gig: decent raking, decent acoustics, so it didn't actually matter that much).
  • Surfing! Another lesson yesterday (at Bondi Beach this time). It wound up being a small class (only 4 of us) & all girls, and the instructor was incredibly enthusiastic and made cheering noises whenever any of us did anything remotely competent. I stood up all the way in! Albeit in a slightly wobbly fashion. Intending to get a couple more practices in by myself before the next lesson.
  • Getting up before dawn (i.e. 4.45am) this morning to go down to Bondi for the Dawn Chorus concert. It was lovely, and surprisingly popular. After which I went for a sunrise swim, which was also lovely. Bondi is pretty busy by 7.30am on a Saturday morning. Doubtless more so today because of the concert, but the lifeguards are there from 6am every morning in the summer.
  • Getting noticably fitter, thanks to a) the fact that Sydney is full of hills, & that there is at least one hill (depending on your definitions) each way between my flat & the two places I cycle to most often, viz the CBD, and Bondi; and b) carrying the bike up & down the stairs daily (I can now lift it straight up to my shoulder. I'll be doing cyclocross next.) Also clearly losing my mind, as evinced when I decided to race a roadie up the second half of the hill out of Bondi this morning. (I held him off till the last couple of hundred yards, which wasn't bad given that he was on Snazzy Unladen Bike & I had a pannier full of crap, as ever.)
  • Enjoying this whole "freelance & therefore no fixed hours" business. Hurrah.
  • Progressing to the point where I am capable of trapping a cockroach with the glass/paper trick & chucking it out of a window. What with that & the obsessive-nightly-kitchen-cleaning, I haven't seen anything scuttling for a couple of days, which I am tentatively labelling a Win.
  • Going native: not only have I acquired a pair of thongs, but the word I use for them in my head is "thongs" (this being Aussie for flipflops). They are strictly for the beach (I can confirm that sand + bike sandals Does Not Mix, so the bike sandals get locked to the bike on arrival) and for going upstairs to the washing machine on the roof, not for walking around the street, so I haven't gone that native. I have however worn running shorts to go to the supermarket, which I would never have done in the UK. It's quite a lot warmer here, in my defence. (I love the running shorts.)

I think that's it, more or less.

juliet: Uluru, NT, Australia, just before sunset (australia - uluru)
Oh god, some muppet has burnt their toast & set the building fire alarm off. One of those really unpleasant noisy ones you get in offices.

I have 0 intention of going and standing outside in the cold at this point. I do not believe for a moment that there is *actually* an actual fire (I can smell the burnt toast smell, and it's not getting any worse), and if there was I'm only on the first floor and could evacuate via the front window. My main concern here is that no one in the building will know how to turn it off. I certainly don't, and don't know any way of contacting anyone who does.

Spent the evening at a free concert by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the Domain (big park-type area in the CBD). They finished off with the 1812 and there were fireworks! And I got terribly over-emotional, because a) I am a sucker for dramatic emotional music, b) I've played the 1812 and loved it[0], & c) we used to go to outdoor concerts with fireworks at Crystal Palace every summer when I was small, with a blanket and a picnic, and they always did the 1812, and it was aces.

In Cockroach News: I could not locate any borax (though apparently there's a shop in Newtown that sells it), but I did find eucalyptus oil, which is a repellent. Wiped it around the skirting-boards & over the cooker; flat now stinks of eucalyptus oil but did not see any scuttling when I got back this evening, so thumbs crossed. I was going to mop the floor tomorrow anyway, so will stick a little oil in the water & then EVERYWHERE will stink of eucalyptus oil.

That is, if I haven't been driven batshit insane by the fire alarm, which is STILL BLOODY GOING.

[edit:] It became clear that no one else was going to sort the alarm out, so I phoned the alarm company & then the fire brigade, who showed up v fast, confirmed that they couldn't see any fire, & turned it off. Hurrah.

[0] I was reminded of the time we played it at the Fairfield Halls & had proper cannon-explosions, but only for the performance itself. They were really very loud indeed from onstage - we all jumped about 3 feet in the air but kept playing.
juliet: Uluru, NT, Australia, just before sunset (australia - uluru)
Oh god, some muppet has burnt their toast & set the building fire alarm off. One of those really unpleasant noisy ones you get in offices.

I have 0 intention of going and standing outside in the cold at this point. I do not believe for a moment that there is *actually* an actual fire (I can smell the burnt toast smell, and it's not getting any worse), and if there was I'm only on the first floor and could evacuate via the front window. My main concern here is that no one in the building will know how to turn it off. I certainly don't, and don't know any way of contacting anyone who does.

Spent the evening at a free concert by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the Domain (big park-type area in the CBD). They finished off with the 1812 and there were fireworks! And I got terribly over-emotional, because a) I am a sucker for dramatic emotional music, b) I've played the 1812 and loved it[0], & c) we used to go to outdoor concerts with fireworks at Crystal Palace every summer when I was small, with a blanket and a picnic, and they always did the 1812, and it was aces.

In Cockroach News: I could not locate any borax (though apparently there's a shop in Newtown that sells it), but I did find eucalyptus oil, which is a repellent. Wiped it around the skirting-boards & over the cooker; flat now stinks of eucalyptus oil but did not see any scuttling when I got back this evening, so thumbs crossed. I was going to mop the floor tomorrow anyway, so will stick a little oil in the water & then EVERYWHERE will stink of eucalyptus oil.

That is, if I haven't been driven batshit insane by the fire alarm, which is STILL BLOODY GOING.

[edit:] It became clear that no one else was going to sort the alarm out, so I phoned the alarm company & then the fire brigade, who showed up v fast, confirmed that they couldn't see any fire, & turned it off. Hurrah.

[0] I was reminded of the time we played it at the Fairfield Halls & had proper cannon-explosions, but only for the performance itself. They were really very loud indeed from onstage - we all jumped about 3 feet in the air but kept playing.

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