Friday, January 19, 2007

"I'm from Oz-tray-lya mate"

Well wasn't Australia fun? Although I did enjoy the time spent back in Melbourne, it was with relief that I boarded a plane back to London. I left Melbourne straight out of university and moved to Sydney, where I lived for three years before spending a few frustrated and anxious months in Melbourne before heading to the UK, so I never really knew Melbourne from an angle that wasn't a visitor or someone with a clouded outlook. So it was good to go back with a fresh, older head and really enjoy it. My time spent there was with old friends, long lunches, late nights and long sleep ins - so I did enjoy it.

Basking in the sun while watching Andy Murray, Saffin, Federer and Roddick play at the Kooyong Classic before the Aus Open was a good way to spend a Saturday, while a huge breakfast and a meander in St Kilda is an even better way to spend a Sunday (I'm really just saying this to make those that know what I'm talking about jealous). There are also several new bars that have sprung up in the city that weren't there nine months ago and are worth a visit. It does surprise me how quickly Melbourne is changing. But that is one thing that I do like about a lifestyle in the sun. While a bar/pub does play a part in your day, it's not until late in the afternoon and it's usually in the sun, not inside for a few pints at lunch that bloat you a little.

You also do more interesting things when the
weather is better, such as watching the tennis or going flying!! Huh, you say? Rather than the platinum blond or the sports car, my father's turn of life present to himself was to get his pilot's license. Look, in the's a bird or is it a plane? No, it's Bart's inheritance slowly going over the horizon in a puff of aviation fuel costs and landing fees!! Actually I tell a lie, he's got a sports car too. It was good to get a view of Melbourne that you usually don't have, and it was quite strange that air traffic control let us fly right over the heart of the city - including the MCG - which was packed with about 60,000 people watching Australia vs England in the one-day cricket, with as little as a polite request. Seems a bit strange when you can't even take deodorant on a plane with out them calling you a terrorist??

Aviators optional

Why pay for the cricket?

After that excitement on Friday afternoon it was good to get free tickets to the tennis at Kooyong. For those that don't know, the Kooyong Classic is the warm up event to the Australian Open.

Some pretty big names on display and there was not a cloud in the sky. Attending with Kat, we got to see a bit of tennis, but Kat seemed to be rather infatuated with the new man in her life, so there was also a bit of talking to be had. Kat talked, I nodded.

Now let me explain young Kat. She's one of my best friends and standing around 6 foot we do make a strange looking pair. We met
many moons ago at Uni, and after going out with her one night I realised that a lot of men in bars would come up to her and buy me a drink to get rid of me - a symbiotic friendship was born. Many large nights have been had by Kat simply talking to a guy and me going up and interrupting every time I needed a drink. She's my little drinks card.

Well after spending the weekend with Kat, it was up to Sydney to catch up with old friends and a few nights out in the Emerald City.
Now I have had the added luxury of living in both Melbourne and Sydney, two cities that share a strong rivalry, and I'm often asked which one I prefer. The answer is simply, both have their good points and both have bad points. They are simply too different to compare and can't be judged against each other.

Sydney is a city which presents itself in a very forward and full on manner; you basically have everything shoved in your face at once and it's loud, bright, fast and mischief finds you. In a few words, Sydney is: 'look at me, look at me, look what I'm doing'.

Melbourne is more docile. You have to look for fun and mischief, but believe me, it's there. In a few words Melbourne is: 'hey look... a fuck ya, I'll be in the pub if you need me'.

However, flying in to Sydney on Monday afternoon I did feel a bit of familiarity that was strangely absent when I flew in to Melbourne. I guess I've spent the majority of my working/adult life in Sydney so it feels a little more like a recent home to me.

But each to their own.

So I stayed with a mate Gajen while up in the Emerald City, or at least my bag did, I ended up on several couches through my journey. Isn't it amazing how many people have sleeping bags that they have had since they were 10 years old? Do people ever throw them out or do you buy one and keep it for life? I swear I've been through 5 or 6, but every time I doss on a couch and the sleeping bag comes out, it's usually covered in racing cars and has been a prized possession of the lender since Grade 3 camp - the one where they learnt how to put up a tent, make damper (Aussie bush bread) and wondered why the 27 year old teacher and the 45 year old married principal kept going to get kindling for the fire and taking 40 minutes...but I digress. The night ended up a random happening of events that I won't go into, but work must have been a struggle for poor Gaj the next day. I went to the beach.

The next evening was time to see Mike. Now Mike was instrumental in helping me through the my last few months in Sydney. Well, actually, it was more his home brew.
Mike's a crazy home brewer. In fact, legend has it that on every full moon he can be seen sneaking out to his shed and putting down a new lager, laughing hysterically and screaming out 'it's alive'. But that's just a rumour. And I just made it up. So it's probably own a little true. So hitting the home brew hard, and the BBQ harder, we ended up rather pissed and very full. Thanks must also go to Paula, Danny and Sam, for putting up with Mike and my antics for several months, getting a year's break from me, and then having to put up with it again. Mike's Asahi homebrew: Seriously Smity - what the hell did you put in that? Some kind of flower that only grows on the Eastern side of a mystical mountain high in the Tibetan wilderness that is ritualistically urinated on at every full moon by the monks that live there.. or just extra sugar?
The next day spent lazing at a cafe in Balmain followed by a quick swim at Manly and then it was off to the Opera Bar for a few drinks with a few people, namely Brett. Now Brett arrived in Sydney from the UK via Thailand at the same time as I became a newly single man in Sydney. This really was a disaster waiting to happen. What made it worse was that Brett was making his living by winning online poker tournaments, so this meant no designated wake up time - and I can't say no. The next few months really were a blur but I vaguely remember Croats, an apartment in Randwick and Establishment on Thursday nights, the rest has disappeared completely. So it was without surprise that the night went like this:

5.30pm - Starting out

11.45pm - Bungalow 8

12.30am - Calling the boss

3am - Darling Harbour

After catching up with Natasha, my long-suffering AMP HR angel, for lunch the next day, it was back to Melbourne where the 41 degree weather had caused half the city to have blackouts. When I landed the temperature was a lovely 27 - it's good to be me.

Back to Melbourne for the main event: my sister's wedding. The morning started promising enough with a game of golf to settle Steve's nerves and mainly as a way to avoid all commitments to organizing anything to do with the wedding at all. I had one instruction - drive the bride’s maids to the ceremony. I did it well. Although it did mean I couldn't drink until we got there. The things I have to do as a baby brother! Now, the wonderful thing about an older sister's wedding is that you see all her friends that you haven't seen for 11 years and now you're all grown up (well same height) but a little bigger. Last time I saw many of these girls was Millie's 18th, where after a spot of underage drinking I threw up on several of them. They hadn't forgotten. This meant I could be rejected by them all for the second time around. But anyway, it seems when you have been overseas for nearly a year people tend to miss you more. The funny thing is when I was in Australia I would see these people once every two or three years anyway. If anything I've seen more of my relatives in the past two years than ever!!

Steve won something!

Aside from that, the wedding was good, my sister - the classy bride - trying to walk to a bar up the road from the reception centre in flip-flops with people trying to keep her dress off the ground was amusing. And thanks to Mille and Steve (the newlyweds) for letting me stay in the spare room that night, but I'm sure you understand that on your first morning as a married couple I had to get out of the house as soon as possible without saying goodbye.

After the wedding it was pretty much finish the trip off. Just a few drinks with some friends, a quick look around at the final places I wanted to see and then off to a jet plane to take me back to those snow capped peaks of Clapham Junction.

With friends like these...

Although I have to add drinks with Lucy as she is a little miffed about not being mentioned. So Lucy: to your Tina Turner impression, the contents of your fridge and ever increasing furniture collection, I have to let you know, Red Rooster roast chicken roll tally at the end of the trip: Nine.

So that's that, it really was a quick trip to catch up with friends and family.

Now I've been told by people in London that what I write about the mother country is quite an accurate summary of their thoughts, so those that miss home, let me try this. I've moved around several cities in the past few years and, when working full time, no matter how much fun each one is they do tend to have the same in the routine you go through. What separates them are the people. It's the people you meet and the bond with those that makes where you are. It's not the beaches, the bars, the travelling or the job, it's the contacts. They become more of your family then friends. While I love Melbourne and Sydney, my whole time here my thoughts have often wandered back to London. So while I have enjoyed the trip back, it's with those thoughts in mind that one realizes that London is my home at the moment, and I can't wait to get back and see those that make it that for me. So you smelly, cold, dark, wet and all the more glorious city; be home tomorrow.

And just to make sure you were paying attention during this blog, here's a test for you, which one below is my father???


At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

Damn, you make me miss Melbourne...and the fact that you probably drove through my wonderful little suburb of Mooza B many times make it even worse! Glad to hear you got your chicken roll fix from Red Rooter though.

And also nice to see that my tshirt got out amongst it during the trip.


At 11:28 PM, Blogger *Luce* said...

Yay!! got a mention.
Thanks B.
Bye bye

At 8:39 PM, Blogger LaLa said...

Nice to know that someone else likes taking feet photos. It seems so odd to think of you in Darling Harbour, that's where I work, maybe I walked past you! Though I am generally not there at 3am....

At 2:56 AM, Anonymous jimmy said...

it scares me that you are the tallest in your family! you really had no chance did you!

At 2:32 AM, Blogger Bart said...

At least I've got some balls there Spoon?

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