Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Australia Day 2018 - Queenscliff

Happy Australia Day! The first mini-break of 2018. Complete with our new car - hello shiny red Holden Colorado - you have big "boots" to fill. 

Headed off early, destination Sorrento to catch the Ferry across to Queenscliff.  Searoad Ferries sail between Sorrento and Queenscliff and take around 40 minutes. Tick off the list! 

Great experience and we were very lucky to be joined by a group of friendly bikers on their annual charity ride for The Hayden Butler Foundation.  Hayden aged 20, was a former Melbourne Storm youth player who  relocated to Queensland and committed suicide on Australia Day 2015. So each year since, this group do the around the Bay ride and his mum joins them to raise funds for suicide prevention and awareness. Good Stuff.

Great house in Queenscliffe, large and near the beach.  Hot weekend, so what else to do but pop the bubbles, put on the air-con and relax! Oh and of course, fire up the BBQ - it was Australia Day after all.

Saturday, Aitana and I paid a visit to Fort Queenscliff.  This coastal artillery fort still operates as an Australian Army base and therefore to visit we had to do the 1.5 hour tour.  Our guide was great and we heard a bit about life at the barracks between 1860 and 1946.  Very interesting and the views across the bay are gorgeous.  Another tick off the list.

All aboard the ferry - including Lola
The Blues Train.  This has been on the list for ages and today was the day! The Blues Train has been rolling since 1994 on the Bellarine Railway. After some dinner, we set off in Carriage B.  Some of the scenery along the way is lovely and with some fantastic music and plenty of bubbles it's a fun night.  After each stop, you move along to the next carriage that has a different performer.  All up, four carriages including the dancing "party" carriage.  A very hot night, but fabulous.

Sunday dawned and it was obviously going to be another very hot day. However, we had spotted the market and had high hope that we might find the.......Giant Spring Rolls. And we did! Yum. Breakfast sorted, it was time to head home.  Geez, 43 degrees as we drove through Werribee.

A great weekend away.

The Blues Train - bubbles and water

B always wanting to steal the mike
In search of giant spring rolls


Friday, 9 February 2018

Did you hear the one about........

Nowhere on any of my lists was "give stand-up comedy a go", so how was it I found myself up on stage at The Imperial a couple of weeks ago hoping that the crowd would laugh?

Still not sure.  Seemed like as good idea as any when Belinda "year of yes" Dane suggested it last year - get this, both sober at the time.  Maybe it was because when I clicked on the School of Hard Knock Knocks link it mentions bucket list tickers. That's me, I thought and I like to make people laugh. In fact a few people have commented that "I'm quick" and funny.  Just not sure if they mean funny ha-ha or just "funny" and others just think I'm an idiot.

Anyway, we signed up.  And forgot about it for a while until we realised "holy shit what have we done - we now have to come up with some material."  Double DB's girls were always going to feature - plenty of material there for the both of us.  The rest of my set - well I'm not really sure where that came from, but once the seed was there, it was ok - thanks to my lovely sweetie-pie.

So the course started on a Sunday evening and fortified with several delicious Frose's (rose slushies) we got down to funny business.  We'd already had a bit of a read through the online course material
and Richard Codron had given us a bit of a heads-up. So over 4 nights and countless Frose's we went over the basics, joke structure, taboos, learned about the comedy circuit, worked on our material, practised and received plenty of feedback and advice.

Fright night - aka Graduation Night.  Few nerves.  Probably shouldn't have gulped down a burrito followed by 2 quick Frose's - had to run to the loo thinking it was nervous poo time. But no, false alarms - just a bit of wind.  All good.

B and I were in the 2nd half with Richard doing his set between us.  The tension built.  Our fellow classmates did brilliantly!  And then it was all over!  We'd done it! Felt brilliant, a real sense of accomplishment. High fives all-round.   Click here for a link to the video.

I can now add stand-up comic to my CV.  Maybe I've missed my calling? Not that it's something I really want to pursue, but it was fun and I'm glad I did it.  A great course for anyone who does want to give it a go. Good way to make connections and everybody seemed really supportive and encouraging.

The school of January 2018!
That's me - fully qualified now

Monday, 5 February 2018

Goals and Lists - take 2

New Years Resolutions, goals, bucket lists whatever you want to call them and are they different?   Not sure why we wait until the New Year to start things.  It's as good a time as any I guess.  I started working on my 2018 list and planned to write down my goals back in December.  But here we are, January has flown by as it always does and it's hello February.  Goals for 2018 and life, not quiet sorted.  I'm a hopeless procrastinator.

It's important to take time setting goals - after all we're talking what we really want to do with our lives - at whatever stage we're at.  So we're going to sit down and set our 1, 3 and 5 (even 10) year goals and plans.

Sure, there will be personal ones - like write more.  Earn at least $3,000 this year from my writing. Get published in 2 other publications. That kind of stuff. The usual ones like save more.  Lose weight.  Get fit. So wishy washy!

In the meantime, I have started on my 2018 bucket list. Much easier and less thought required. A work in progress and plenty of spots to fill as things pop up.  How did 2017 list go?  Some things fell by the wayside, others got scrapped, some were moved to 2018 and some were replaced as other opportunities arose. 60 out of 100 - not too bad. My aim is always at least 50.  And it's never so rigid that it can't be altered during the year!  Someone once said, "but you can't just change it as you go". Sure I can, it's my list - I can do anything.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Christmas in Ballarat - Part Two

Well would you look at that. I thought I was the chief reporter on all things to do with "exploring" but no, my mum beat me to it.  So I thought I'd just add a few things that she may have missed.

Been a bit busy since my last post - even turned the BIG 1 2!! That's like a whole lot of human years, so you'll have to forgive me if I've been a bit slow.  Like a fine wine, I'm getting better with age, albeit slower.

So yep, we went back to Ballarat.  Back to the lake - heaps of swan and duck poo which is super tasty and great to roll in. First lunch stop (after the swan poo snack), I got some tasty salmon.

The house we stayed in was nice.  I had a big back garden to explore, but it had a lot of prickles.  There was also a very noisy possum in the big tree.  Aitana was scared, she thought it was a sheep making noise outside of her window (because you find a lot of those in suburban back yards).  I wasn't scared one bit.  Well maybe a little bit 'cos he sounded like a grumpy old fart of a possum.

Went to other places.  Like another lake where we went hunting for worms.  And to a farmers market where I got more snacks and Christmas presents.  Christmas!  Wow now that was a fun time.  So much super tasty food.  As soon as I got back to Melbourne I had to go on a diet! 

This was in Clunes
Me checking out the botanical gardens
Anyway, it was lots of fun and we did lots of walking and exploring. In-between, I did lots of sleeping and relaxing and got lots of cuddles and scratches on my belly.  Life is good.

Stopping to smell the roses

I was NOT trying to open my Christmas presents before time

Christmas in Ballarat

You're either a Christmas person or you're not, and I fall into the latter category.  Don't know why, it just seems an awful lots of stress, money and bother. So this year, we decided to head up to Ballarat. Why?  No special reason - well other than Romancing the Skull was on at the Art Gallery and it seemed as good a place to go as any. 

Now between getting sick in Warnambool, stuffing up our Eildon booking (my boo boo) and catching colds in Marysville, we were all set for 5 perfect days. Not so fast. Day before, car decides to call it quits - is the universe trying to tell me something??  Well f&*k you, I'm not listening.

Still crap at taking selfies!
So Friday 22 December 2017, we collected a hire car, packed and headed off.  Ballarat - 110km NW of Melbourne, population of approximately 102,000 people, 3rd largest city in Victoria. Gold was discovered on 18 August 1851, and news quickly spread attracting gold diggers from all over.  The Ballarat fields experienced a "rush" for many decades, which shows in the city's gorgeous architecture.  At one stage it was the richest place in Oz.

The city is famous for the Eureka Rebellion, the only armed rebellion in Australian history. As such, Eureka is interpreted by some as the origin of democracy in Australia. The rebellion's symbol, the Eureka Flag, has become a national symbol and is held at the Museum of Australian Democracy .

Settled into our home for the next few days and enjoyed lunch and a stroll around Lake Wendouree (pronunciation noted - Wen-duree, not Wen-dow-ree).  That evening, noodles clutched in hand, Aitana and I set off on our Ghost Tour amongst the beautiful Gothic architecture, through underground buildings, back alleyways and through the remains of the old Ballarat gaol, the site of the highest number of executions in Victoria outside of Melbourne. No ghosts, but our guide, Mr Keating was a charming chappy and full of interesting, albeit slightly gruesome stories.  Survived "Fight Night" as the night when the tradies all break up for Christmas is so called.

Dinner at Meigas was muy bueno
I'd heard about this Spanish restaurant and wanted to check it out, so we went there on a warm and balmy Saturday night.  Meigas. Delish, lovely staff and probably the best Spanish food we've had in a restaurant in Australia!  Yep, I know big call, but it was excellent! Agua de Valencia went down very nicely as well. Would go back just to eat there again.

Skulls Galore!
I put together an article on Romancing the Skull at the Art Gallery of Ballarat for WN earlier. Don't know where I picked up my fascination for the skull, but I'm not alone!  The whole city had embraced this exhibition and there were skulls everywhere.   Appears that the skull has intrigued generations of artists, so the Romancing the Skull exhibition takes a look at why we continue to be so enamoured with this iconic symbol. Skulls are an important symbol in Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico. Running from 31 October to 2 November each year, the holiday focuses on gatherings to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.  Fabulous tradition and thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Emi whipping up a fine gravy
Christmas Lunch
Between shopping and eating, a couple of games of Simpson's Cluedo along came Christmas Eve, a quiet but delish night at home.  Wherever you are, there will always be too much food!

Christmas Day we had decided to volunteer.  So off we set at 9am and got to work.  After all the prep, greeting people and serving up, we sat down and had lunch and a chat with the guests.  A wide range of people from families, to couples and plenty of people on their own.  Finished around 3.30pm, tired, but very rewarding and humbling - we are truly blessed.  Might need to make this a new tradition.

Do yourself a favour and go and see Coco!
In traditional Boxing Day style (no not sale shopping), we went to the movies. In keeping with the skull theme, we went and saw Coco and what a magical movie.  Disney Pixar have done it again with the colourful and beautiful story of young Miguel who despite his family's generations old ban on music, dreams of becoming a musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting H├ęctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.  Along the way, it tells the story behind the Dia de los Muertos traditions and this may be an animated movie, but there was plenty of sobbing.  Loved it. Take tissues.
Lake Wen-doree

Fishing, throwing in the line and reeling it in, strolls around the city, a drive out to Lake Learmonth, a visit to the neighbouring towns of Clunes and Creswell rounded up the rest of our holiday. 
Bittersweet memories as it was the last place we travelled to with our beloved Lucas earlier in the year.  But blessed to be able to spend Christmas with my Sweetie-Pie, Aitana and my Lola the Explorer. 
Friendly Natives

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Magic Lamp wanted

Back in June, we went and saw 1984 and can't really say we enjoyed it.  So it was with eager anticipation that we went along to see Aladdin at Her Majesty's. Aitana came along and had never been to a large stage production and really wanted to see "a musical". Boy was she in for a pleasant surprise (understatement).

This stage musical is based on the 1992 Disney animated movie. We all know how it goes, cute but poor thief falls in love with a Princess, finds a magic lamp, out pops a Genie and they all live happily ever after. 

Ah the Genie. Michael James Scott steals the show from the very first scene and you can't wait for him to pop out of that bottle and make magic.  Aladdin (Ainsley Melham) and his trio of thieves are fun and fabulous and Princess Jasmine (Hiba Elchikhe) has a great voice.

The whole stage is filled with wild colour and the scene in the Cave of Wonders where Aladdin finds the lamp is simply breathtaking.  That and the magic carpet ride whilst singing A Whole New World are just amazing and my two fave scenes.  Well those and every one where the Genie appears. 

The Genie, is sassy, sexy and hilarious (where can I get me one of those)? His rich voice singing a "Friend Like Me" is perfect and he had us all in stitches every time he opens his mouth.  Even the baddies are good - Jafar, the evil Grand Vizier and his funny, little henchman, Iago.

The whole show is just one big story of love and magic winning in the end and the colour, song and dance routines are highlights. A fabulous show that makes your cheeks hurt from smiling the whole time.  Absolutely loved it. It's just one of those things that you leave feeling good and even writing this I have a smile on my face.  Aitana was also blown away - what a perfect first musical to have the pleasure of seeing.  5 Stars and in my top 3.

So what type of a theatre goer am I?  Most definitely the funny, comical, musical, brightly coloured enjoying type and most definitely not the deep and meaningful 1984 type. I'm just not the philosophical, thought provoking seeking type.

The very funny and talented Genie (Picture: Deen van Meer)

Aladdin finds the lamp - I need to get myself one of those! (Picture: Deen van Meer)

Fabulous Fun! (Picture: Deen van Meer)

Saturday, 2 December 2017

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Wow, December and 2017 is fast coming to an end and I thought it was time to start thinking about 2018.  Soon it will be time to review all my lists!  Ooh what new and exciting things can I add?

A couple of weeks ago, B and I went to a session on goals – how to set and stick to them.  Got me thinking about what are my life goals?  Maybe it’s the big things on my lists?  Not sure.  Procrastination. Instead of spending the time thinking and working towards life goals, why do we procrastinate and watch mindless TV or scroll through Facebook?

So, what do I still want to accomplish?  Is it ever too late to set goals – no way!  What are my life goals?  What do I truly want? And how the fuck do I work it out? 

1.     Brainstorming list
  - What’s important?
  - Where am I at today?
  - Where do I want to be?

2.     Life goals
  - What couldn’t I live without?  Narrow that sucker down
  - Set specific targets

3.     How do I get there?
   - Start with the last step and work backwards.
                - Focus on the main ones – rank them?

       4.   Get shit done
                - Pick a goal, break it down, stop procrastinating and get started

Right then.  I’m off to think and right those suckers down.  Because as they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish.