Archive | February, 2011

Betsy the Beast!

28 Feb

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC INFORMATION AND A PICTURE OF A SPIDER!!!!

(I always hate it when you’re reading the Metro and you turn the page to find a bloody great big picture of a spider without any warning. I seriously believe they should warn you about that stuff, it’s not right, if you are genuinely terrified of spiders those kind of sudden “Look what climbed out of my bananas at ASDA” stories are awful!! – So here you go, here’s the massive WARNING!!! – that this post is about a spider.)

A spider called Betsy…..

Betsy is a Huntsman spider.

As you know Betsy is not the first huntsman spider I have seen, but she will stay with me for a long time because she and I became bed friends – or rather she moved into my bedroom and I slept on the sofa for a few nights?!!

So lets start at the beginning. Last time I wrote I was staying with the beautiful Claire and her Aussie boy Duncan, in Bondi. It’s been such a great place to stay, the beach is down the road, I have my own room and they are two of the nicest, coolest people ever – I loved it.

But one day my lovely little room was turned into a scene from the film ‘Arachnophobia’. Oh yes, I have seen the film. I cried. I screamed and I had nightmares. For a long time. It still scares me. Spiders are terrifying. Yes they are, just bloody terrifying. FACT!

Anyway one day I woke up and before hoping in the shower I opened the window to let some air into the room. When I returned…..Betsy had taken residence….

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!

Betsy the huntsman

Let me just tell you this. This picture DOES NOT do Betsy justice. She was a MONSTER. HUGE!!! BLOODY ENORMOUS!!! BIG FAT HAIRY LEGS, BIG GOOGLY FAT EYES AND SHE WAS LOOKING RIGHT AT ME!!!

And then she moved. OH.MYGOD!

Needless to say….I freaked. Fear just gripped me. In every way possible. I think I actually stopped breathing for a while.

Claire and Duncan were asleep at this point so I muffled my screams by clapping my hands over my mouth and promptly shut the bedroom door. Shivering with fear I paced the front room for a good 10mins, thinking “oh my god what the FU*****K am I going to do?!!!

Then I had a cunning plan. I would run away…..

 – Yes I realise this is a bit of a theme for my blog, but hey it works?!!!

So I  tentatively opened the door…not daring to look at the spot where Betsy was, I grabbed my running gear and got dressed in the bathroom. But before going on my cowardly run I needed to warn Claire and Duncan of the beast that lay within – and by doing so hopefully bring out Duncan’s Auzzie manly prowess and tempt him to tackle the beastie….whilst I was out.

So I wrote a few “Warning” / “Danger, enormous spider” post it notes and left them on the door.

RUN AWAY!

Massive coward….Oh yes. But I am telling you now, when a huntsman looks you in the face, there is really only one option – YOU RUN….FAST…RUN, RUN, RUN!!!!!

For two nights Betsy terrorized the flat, Duncan’s many brave attempts to capture her had failed (She was a cunning beast!) and so for two nights I sort of let her have my room and slept on the sofa….again I’m telling you – she was MASSIVE!!!!!

But it appears Betsy’s reign has come to an end. I have recently learnt that brave and fearless Duncan finally found Betsy and in a battle that took many hours he tackled the beast and succeeded in defeating it.

Yes, Betsy is no more.

HOORAH!!!!

Duncan is my hero – he is the huntsman killer and deserves some sort of national award, a medal, a framed certificate or at the very least a large beer. Which is on me!

Phew!

RIP Betsy.

May she rest in peace, somewhere very, very, very far away….

The Kindness of Strangers

25 Feb

So this is a small post dedicated to people who I’d never met who did something brilliant. I’ve only been in Auz for a few weeks but seriously, I have been blown away by how lovely and sweet people are.

The moment you bring out a map, someone stops and asks where you’re headed so they can help you out. At first I was supicous –  I know the rules –  DO NOT talk to strangers, stranger danger, keep hold of the bag, don’t make eye contact, move swiftly away….. But I’ve since realised it’s just an Auzzie thing. They are, by their nature very lovely, good hearted people.

Take this as an example. So after being at Matt’s for a few days I went to stay with my friend Claire in North Bondi. Now the weekend I arrived Claire was away, so the plan was to pick up the key from her next door neighbour and flat sit for a few days until she returned. At about 8pm I dragged me, numerous bags and the epic silver suitcase (I think it weighs the same as two dead bodies now?!!) up four flights of stairs to Claire’s place. By the time I’d heaved myself to the top I’d lost half my body weight in sweat and disturbed evertyone in the block by smashing the suitcase up each one of the hundred steps.

Anyway finally at the top, I knocked on the neighbours door and this very pretty girl answered looking very poorly – turns out she had a migraine. She gave me the key for Claire’s and I tried the lock…. Um, nope, key didn’t work…… We tried another key……. Nope still nothing. Bugger, bugger, bugger – is the phrase running through my head at this point. Turns out Trin – Katrina (that’s her name btw), well her flatmate had taken the key with her…….to Melbone. BUGGER, BUGGER, BUGGER continues to still run through my head, but much louder with a few more swear words thrown in!!!

Ok no problem, I’ll just have to carry (or throw?!) the case back down the stairs and head back over to Matt’s. Fine, totally fine, no problemo….But that’s when Trin said “You can stay here, it’s fine honestly, please do…’

After much English mutterings of “Oh no I couldn’t possibly, really? No, no it’s fine, I’m good, are you sure? No, I don’t want to disturb you, I simply couldn’t….‘ – she just yes, yes you can, don’t be silly, in you come… And so I did?! I ended up staying with her until her housemate returned 2 days later with the key.

How amazing though. A total stranger let me stay at her place?! I mean really, can you imagine that happening in London?! Some random knocks on your door, is locked out so you just let them in – to stay – I DON’T THINK SO?!!

Anyway, it was an incredbly lovely, sweet thing to do so this post is to her to say thank you!!

If you’re ever in London my door is always open for you x

Friends in beachy places

22 Feb

So while in Bondi I’ve been staying at a few places. First up was Matt’s pad which was very cool, very nice. He hasn’t been there long but apparently the first few purchases included a giant (and I mean MASSIVE) wide screen TV and the BBQ – love it, such a boy thing to do! Matt’s a great cook, an aspiring Jamie Oliver (I think he owns ALL of his books). So on my first night he treated me and his lovely Girlfriend Carrie to a feast – BBQ chicken wrapped in crispy parma ham, oven roasted sweet potatoes, garlic mushrooms and veg – yummy, yumsters!!

The next gorgeous meal I had was courtesy of Carrie and her housemate Jon, who between them cooked up a feast of a dinner party for a big group of us. The dinner party was brilliant, great food, loads of wine and a whole lot of laughing. Although, it didn’t quite run as smoothly as planned – because the over broke!

When I say broke I mean it smoked out the whole flat. Smoke everywhere, like some bad 80’s music video – which was made all the more real by two massive fans which had been brought out to help waft the smoke away (que lots of standing in front of fan, hair blowing moments) The whole thing was brilliantly hilarious. Not to be detered and fuelled by a whole load of vino and lungs full of smoke we hatched a cunning plan to run the home made lasange (real home made pasta sheets and everything – well done Carrie!) to Matts flat which was about 10mins down the road. Myself and Jon volunteered for this most important of missions and carried the precious lasagne down to Matts – although techinically I carried it most of the way!

Anyway about 40mins later we collected the lasange and everyone tucked in. It was delicious and so was the rest of the evening.

The yummy lasagne made by Carrie

Happy diners

I’ve now moved on from Matt’s to stay in North Bondi with my friend Claire and her boyfriend Duncan. It’s lovely spending time with Claire and catching up. We went to this very funcky little bar/tapas place called the Big Easy the other night – gorgeous food, epic chats and again a whole LOT of vino.

At this point I’m sure you’re thinking I’m a bit of a jammy cow for knowing so many people to crash with and that it’s a little bit like cheating, staying with friends rather than being a true traveller…..but to this I say, yes ok fair point, HOWEVER, in about 1 weeek I’ll leave Sydney and start travelling up the coast, by myself, where I won’t know anyone. No one… not a Tom, Dick or Harry. Although hopefully by the end I will.

I have been popping back into the city for various things like ‘Tropfeast’ which I went to with my friend Paul. It’s basically a yearly open air film festival that takes place in a park in the city centre. You all get picnic rugs, booze and food and settle down for a night of mini films. The films were brilliant, very clever, some were moving, some were very funny, others a bit bizzare – like one which based around 2 guys who fell out because one had copied the others mullet hair style?! Very funny.

I’ve also been to the MCA to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibition which was just incredible, so moving, honest and just beautiful. I loved it.

I’ve had a picnic in the Botanical Gardens and spent alot of time just pottering around the harbour, people watching and enjoying the views.

The stunning Opera House

The Botanical Gardens

So there you go. Lots going on and much fun being had….

Bondi Beautiful

19 Feb

So I’ve been spending the last week or so down in Bondi… I shall sum Bondi up in one word – BEAUTIFUL!!

Beautiful Bondi

And by that I mean everythiing!!! The beach is beautiful, the little shops, bars and cafe’s are beautiful but most of all it’s the people. And lets be clear here, when I say the people are beautiful I don’t mean that they’re all just really lovely and nice (although I’m sure they are), what I mean is that the people are stunning. Literally gorgeous. All of them.

I’m not joking! It’s like someone has rounded up all the most gorgeous, bronzed, ripped people and dropped them here to create some kind of beach utopia. Whever you look long legged, bronzed surf chicks frolic with bronzed, ripped surf dudes…..Its enough to make you swear off food for life and sign up to the nearest gym?!!

It’s also where the lifeguards from Bondi Rescue are – now for all of you back in the UK Bondi Rescue is a TV show out here that’s a bit like Baywatch but all about the reallife hunky lifeguards at Bondi, saving people, running about and generally looking pretty hot.

It’s a shame I’m a pretty strong swimmer….

The Bondi Lifeguards

 

Beautiful people aside, it’s also a really, really fun place where luckily quite a few of my friends live – bonus.

I’ve pretty much lived on the beach for the last few days – days filled with sand, sea, suncream lotion and a whole load of SUNSHINE!! ;0)

Posing....me?!!

Hostel or just Hostle?!

17 Feb

Ok so after my lovely weekend with Faye in the gorgeous hotel it was time to face facts. The sofa surfing with friends wouldn’t start for a few days – so I had to find somewhere else to stay for 2 nights.

Optimisitic I could find a cheap hotel deal I grabbed a coffee and headed off to the nearest internet cafe.

After an hour and a half of trawling through every hotel website and comparison site I could there was nothing. NOTHING I could afford. Not without feeling really guilty anyway…

So I faced facts. It was time for my first Hostle experience.

I knew this day would come but I was still nervous about it. I mean me. In a hostel, really?! I have a big suitcase, I wear make up and use hair straighteners – I don’t belong with the great unwashed with their back packs, dreadlocks and smelliness! I am past the all night dorm activities of Univeristy, the shared bathrooms and stolen food dramas. But here I was about to book in to a “DORM” (?!!!) of 4 females for two nights.

So after EXTENSIVE research (I read every comment and review on pretty much all of the hostels in Sydney – I kid you not, I could write a guide book on them!) I booked myself in to the Syndey Habour YHA hostel. Yeap all booked. No going back. I was staying in a hostel.

Time for another LARGE coffee….and maybe a little vino before I check in.

I’ll be honest here. My expectations were low, basement kind of low. But I sucked it up and thought “No this is all part of the experience, be brave, meet new people, no one will try to murder you in your bunk bed or steal the silver suits case (I can’t even lift it so good luck to them!).

I walked in and all those worries just vanished. The Sydney YHA is AWESOME!! It’s basically like a big hotel. It’s all new, very funky and filled with all kinds of people – yes you have your young travellers looking for the booze bus, you you also have older people like me (older – not old btw!) and families – actual families which was a real surprise.

The hostel even had this gorgeous roof top deck with stunning views over the habour and opera house. I was blown away and so so pleasantly surprised.

The room was basic but nice enough. I do have to say that sleeping in a bunk bed after the age of 9 is a little weird but you sort of get used to it.

I even made friends – I joined up with a little group of girls and we were like the UN. I was from the UK, Karina was from Holland, Doris from Germany and Suzanna from Spain. We all hit it off and ended up going out for dinner and on to this very cool Salsa night which was hilarous!

So there you go. First experience with a hostel was very very good. I would definitely stay there again and I’m actually looking forward to staying in more as I continue on with my travels.

Obviously only hostels that have been extensivly researched – I’m not just gonna bunk in with Johnny backpacker you know!!

Sydney smash up with Faye!

16 Feb

I was sooooo pleased that Faye was flying to Sydney for my first weekend in the city. We had big plans to “Whoop it up” and smash the city right in it’s beautiful face. And my god we absolutely did!!

We stayed in a really lovely hotel (thanks Faye!) and started off on the Friday by getting the essentials sorted – waxing, manicures, pedicures, hair and shopping. It was a girls dream and so much fun. …..My first real mani/pedi – loved it!!

(Although quick note to self – you are out here for a LONG time, stop shopping as if you’re on holiday?!! You’ll run out of money to eat…..and no, beautiful shoes will not help, no matter how beautiful they are!)

Anyway after all the preening, beautifing and shopping we hit the town to whoop it up! We started off at the Opera Bar, which is just ridiculously fabulous! The views are stunning. The people are stunning. And the Opera bar sharing platter is quite possibly the most stunning thing I’ve even eaten.

I mean seriously it was amazing. Sod the view – just get another one of those mini lamb and mint pies in my face?!!

As Emma, Faye’s little girl would say “delicio-soo”

OMG – Get in my face, seriously yummy!!

After the opera bar we took our full tummies off to the next stop – The Establishment. A very, very, very cool bar. It’s huge, grand and filled with gorgeous people and lethal cocktails – a winning combination! It’s safe to say we had an absolute blast in the bar because all plans for other venues faded and we stayed until about 3am?!!!

We met some really fun people and spent the rest of the night dancing, drinking and basically throwing cocktails on the floor. I can’t tell you why but for some reason I have a really, really bad habbit of dropping drinks when I’m drunk?! Which is seriously annoying, not cool and bloody expensive. But at the time I find it hilarious?!! ‘Whoops, there goes another one – ha ha ha!”. I think it’s a medical condition, or just a result of too much booze ;0)

Anyway it was a brilliant night, which resulted in much giggling, good times and cosmo’s.

Me & Faye getting squiffy

Needless to say on Saturday we woke up in a world of pain and didn’t leave the hotel until after 1pm?! Not alot got done that day, shopping was on a go slow and we generally pottered around Paddington until it was time to go home.

Quick one on Paddington – it is a very, very cool place to shop, basically one long strip of little shops, boutiques and designer stuff. It’s really lovely. Lots of cute cafes, small markets and the Auzzie version of sloanes walking about everywhere looking beautiful but miserable – brilliant!

Paddington - gorgeous shops!

So Saturday night was a little more quiet but still good fun. We headed down to an area called The Rocks, a very chilled, casual, funky kind of place with loads of little bars, late night cafes and hot spots. After attemtping to get back on the drinking train to ‘drunk-sville’ we ended up in this gorgeous little cafe and tucked into a late night super, glasses of wine and loads of chats. And maybe a tiny little perving on the american waiter – he was about 20 and looked like something out of 90210?! It would have been rude not too.

On the Sunday we shopped again. At this point I feel I need to dedicate a few lines to Faye’s shopping achievements!!! In the space of our girly weekend she made up for 2 years of shopping absence and smashed it – quite right too!! The best moment ever was when we walked into Tiffanys and the general manager knew her name?!!

I’ll say that again – the general manager of Tiffany’s – KNEW Faye’s name – he even asked after Paul?!! It was BRILLIANT!!!! Just to clarify here, Faye is not a weekly shopper at Tiffany’s, it’s that her lovely hubby Paul bought her the most breathtaking engagement ring (and wedding ring) from Tiffany’s and they remember these things, because they are Tiffanys!

Need less to say we spent ages in there. It was amazing.

The only blip was that they had this little stand of cup cakes for all the people shopping for Valentines stuff – you know those loved up couples buying engagement rings on Valentines weekend, really happy couples, laughing, smiling, kissing …….. Something took over me, their smugness just overpowered me and……

I TOOK A CUP CAKE AND ATE IT!

THAT’LL SHOW THEM AND ALL THEIR STUPID VALENTINES DAY HAPPINESS!!!!!!!!!

NO I AM NOT HERE TO BUY AN ENGAGEMENT RING…….SOD OFF!!!!!

BUT I DESERVE A CUP CAKE, I REALLY DO

SO THERE!!!!

Anyway……

It was really sad to say goodbye to Faye after such an amazing, fun, brilliantly lovely weekend. I loved every moment with her.

But the reality was she was leaving and I was about to start my 3 week stay in the big city.

Yikes!

Plenty more fish in the sea

15 Feb

Valentines Day…..

Sucks!!!!

Unless you’re madly in love and then all those half dead roses, manky teddy bears and stupid balloons seem wonderful, the birds are singing, little bunnies are all around and everything is just wonderful – if you’re madly in love….

However for the rest of the world, those unloved, singletons it’s pretty much a sucky, sucky day. However luckily for me I’m on the other side of the world, so V Day can mean anything I want it to. And besides there are plenty more fish in the sea….right…

So with that in mind I decided to spend the big V at the Sydney Aquarium, with the fish and the huge sharks!! Because nothing says romance like a bloody big shark.

Happy with my plan I pottered off to the aqurium and had an amazing day! You might not know this about me but I have a weird kind of obesession / love / hate / fascination thing with Sharks. I just can’t get enough of them.

You know those awful ‘Shark Aattack’ programmes on Channel 5 where they interview some poor man who’s body was half eaten by a great white, and they reenact it – well I LOVE those shows. I can’t get enough of them. I want to know everything there is to know about these amazing creatures.

I had a book when I was little called ‘Monsters of the sea’ – the centre double page was of a giant whale shark, it was a cartoon but that doesn’t matter when you’re little. It was just amazing to me.

That said…..I am terrified of deep water, I won’t swim in the sea unless I can still touch the bottom and really, really don’t like boats. I even occasionally freak myself in swimming pools by imagining those grid things at the bottom are sharks, I start to here the Jaws theme in my head and swim just a little bit faster. I know, i know, it’s a bit weird.

I think the whole thing has something to do with the fact that I fell in a fish pond when I was a toddler. My sister saved me from drowning – thanks Sis! But I’m sure I remember being underwater and watching the fish swim by, their little mouths just sucking in front of me, all scales and bit eyes. So maybe that’s where the whole – I love big fish but sort of hate water thing comes from….

ANYWAY….. back to the point, V day with the sharks was amazing. I didn’t feel sad all day, I was just really happy and very proud of myself for being so brave in the shark tunnel. I ate ice cream, walked along the habour, took a zillon pictures of the sharks which would bored anyone else stupid but which made me very happy.

Shark HQ - perfect Valentines!

Shark!!!More sharks!!

I filmed some awesome videos including one of me saying “SHIT” very loudly when I was in the tunnel happily filming and this HUGE shark swam over my head – but alas in true blonde style I left my SD camera card somewhere and lost them. Might have to go back to the Aquarium another day ;0)

So after my valentines day with the sharks I spent my first night at a hostel – oh yes, me and big big silver suitcase went down to a hostel….

First days in Sydney

12 Feb

After my lovely first few days with the Jarmans it was time for me to shove off and head to Sydney…..

I think it’s fair to say that I was a little nervous about what to expect. I mean I live and work in London but heading to a new city, on the other side of the world was still a little daunting. But I had my maps, a hotel for the first few days and a big smile on my face – what more could I need?!

I spent the first night in my hotel room. I know, I know, it sounds like I was scarred but In fairness it was quite late by the time I arrived and I was shattered, so I just grabbed a quick bite then just chilled on my bed watching trashy Aussie TV. Bliss. The next day I went exploring. I had breakfast down in Darling Habour, which was lovely – possibly the largest yogurt portion you’ve ever seen in your life then started figuring out the city.

I ended up walking round the Chinese Garden just off from the harbour, it’s very tranquil and beautiful. Its the kind of place you really want to share with someone so it did make me a little reflective, but it was so beautiful I didn’t feel down for long.

In fact I went snap happy and took about 100 pictures of the place?! Not quite sure why, as looking back it does get a bit same-y after a while….oh a small tree, a waterfall, some large fish in pond, some more small trees, a little bridge, more big fish…….even more big fish, yet another waterfall (yawn) and sooooo on…..

Ah so beautiful...the chinese garden

Anyway all cultured out later that night I headed off to Surrey Hills (apparently a bit of a posh area of the city) to meet up with a load of ex Cake colleagues who now work in Sydney. I hadn’t seen some of them for years and years so was really looking forward to catching up with them all…. And if I’m honest I was also hoping that after a few cheeky vinos I could start asking people if I could crash on their sofa’s, floor, balcony, hallways etc before I had to face the hostel….cheeky yes, but needs must!

It was an awesome night. We met in this very cool place called the Northfolk Hotel (how very english!), it had a brilliant beer garden so we just stayed there for the night, chatted, drank, gossiped about old times and generally had a very merry time. I also ended up bagging a few offers of spare rooms, sofas etc so all in all a top evening.

Me & the lovely Hannah

And the best thing was, the next day Faye was flying out for our big girly weekend in the city – good times!!

At home with the Jarmans

5 Feb

At the start of my Auzzie adventure I went to stay with my oldest friend in the world – Faye. By oldest friend I don’t mean old, as in “wow she’s the oldest friend I have, she is seriously old, just really, really old you know…”. I mean I have known her the longest, she is my oldest friend, the friend I have know the longest, in my whole life – you get it, you get it!

Many years ago, my mum and her mum were good friends. On one magical day the storks arrived carring two little bundles of joy, Faye arrived 2 days before me – and hence our friendship began. Faye moved out to Auz when she was 18 and hasn’t looked back. So I knew when I made the decision to run away down under she’d be the perfect, most wonderful person to see first. And I was absolutely right.

Faye lives in this gorgeous house in a seaside place called South West Rocks – now I’ve already mentioned the Somerset/South West/Bumpkin heritage of me so you can understand how thrilled, make that clapping my hands in joy, I was to drive into South West Rocks at the very start of my adventure. It was the sign I needed to tell me I was in the right place and had made the right decision.

The Jarman pad

Anyway, I stayed with Faye, her hubby Paul and their gorgeous little girl Emma for the first week and a half of my Auzzie adventure. Whilst there we went for wonderful walks, talked endlessly, ate amazing fresh fish caught my Paul and his merry fishermen friends, sat on the endless sandy beaches and watched the world go by. I finally let myself breath, properly unwind and just let it all go. All the tension, the achy head, the heavy shoulders, the heavy heart. I just sat on that beach and let it go. It was glorious. Exactly what I needed and so much more.

The gorgeous South West Rocks

Whilst there I also experienced a whole load of new things, more of that in a different page but some highlights include –

1) My first sighting of a Kangaroo and a huntsman spider (still get the shivers thinking about the ENORMOUSNESS of it!!)

My first Kangaroo sighting!

2) Auzzie men like to put the letter ‘O’ on the end of most things and shorten all words

3) That the word “Pull” as in “I pulled a guy” something pretty harmless in the UK, means something TOTALLY different in Auz. I can’t say what because my mum might read this but let me just say it has something to do with your hands….um……in a pumping kind of….er anyway, it’s not a phrase I should ever say out here!!! Thankfully Faye and Paul told me that on the first day – so I’m all good, phew!

4) A sausage sizzle isn’t some kind of STD but it is in fact a ‘Snag’ or sausage from the BBQ, which is a bit bigger than your average sausage. It’s very tasty. So there you go.