Archive | March, 2011

Noosa to meet you

29 Mar

Next stop on the adventure was Noosa, a place described in my guide-book as an up market holiday hot spot, a place to see and be seen. I’d say that was a fairly accurate description. In parts it is a very up market place, especially around Hastings street, the main strip just on the beach front. It is literally packed with boutique shops, bistro’s, cafes, smoothie joints and restaurants all heaving with locals on their mini breaks. Unlike Byron it’s not really set up for back packers…in one word it’s expensive….bloody expensive. And not a wet t-shirt competition in sight. How very boring.

Noosa has some really pretty beaches though, including a nudist beach called A-Bay (although I’m not sure what you see there could be described as pretty!). The National Park is also absolutely stunning and endless!  I got totally lost on one run and thought I’d have to break out my Ray Mears survival knowledge?!

I really liked the YHA hostel at Noosa, it’s very cool and funky, probably one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in so far. It’s a big old lodge that looks like it belongs in some old American deep south movie. You almost expect some weeping, distraught girl to come bursting on to the veranda at any moment, declaring her love for a man she can’t have, before swooning into the arms of a stranger……When that’s not happening, the veranda is the perfect place to sit, chat, enjoy a cider and meet people.

The bar also gets a lot of locals which is nice as I haven’t really met many Auzzies. Although they do need to work on their chat up lines….one local tried his luck with the rather bizarre line “You’ve got really nice (long pause while he looked at my boobs) skin”….to which I replied “Thanks (bemused look) I’m covered in it…??! Needless to say our giggling and general piss take sent him on his merry way. Fail!

Our little Noosa gang included Lou (my hilarious German friend), Stephan and Rick (from the Netherlands), Paul (Leeds, UK), Anna & Louise (Denmark), another Stephan (from Berlin – this guy sounded identical to Arnold Schwarzenegger and was about as big – needless to say made him repeat classic Arnie lines all night “I’ll be back / Come with me if you want to live” – very funny). Good times.

I’ve generally been filling my days in Noosa with running, walking through the national park on a desperate search to see some wild koalas, sitting on the beach, reading and planning the next stage of the trip. Then night comes and we all gather again to get rather merry. It’s actually a really nice place to just chill out for a while, before hitting the road again.

The only slight (read – massive!) irritation during my stay in Noosa was on the last night. We had a new arrival in the room, a rather large German lady who resembled an olympic shot putter from the 80’s. Unfortunately for me she had to share my bunk, I was top, she was bottom. Not only was she rather large but the back pack and additional 6 bags she stumbled in with filled the entire dorm floor. But then things got really bad…really, really bad…… she kicked off her shoes and absolutely stinked the place out!! Now I’ve experienced cheesy feet before (the ex had a slight cheesy foot issue) so you have to trust me when I say this was beyond anything I had ever smelt in my life. It was a smell so pungent small animals died. Seriously. They just gave up living, right there and then…it was that bad. I very nearly threw up. In fact I still might. Hold on…..

Ok. During the night things didn’t get much better, every single time she moved or rolled over (which she did pretty much constantly) the whole bunk bed shook. When I say shook I mean the entire frame would sway wildly, as if it was going to crash to the floor at any moment. As you can imagine it was a night of little sleep and one I shall have nightmares about for days to come. The morning didn’t bring much relief…as I climbed down my little ladder at 7am, my blurry eyes saw Lady Von Shot Putter lying on her tiny bunk eating chocolate fudge sticks?!! I’ll say it again, she was a very large lady, squeezed into a bottom bunk bed, stinking out the entire room with a smell that would rot wood, her crap spread all over the floor, eating chocolate fudge sticks…at 7am….. Now I’m aware I might sound harsh but I dare you to be in the same position and not think it was all a little bit gross! More than gross in fact. Blurgh!!! Shivers down my spine.

Anyway….. (shake all memories out that out of my head…!!!) Noosa is done. Next up on the trip is Rainbow beach where we’ll get to feed the wild dophins at Tin Can Bay – I am so excited about this!! Then we go over to Fraser Island for 3 days/2nights of 4X4 driving, camping under the stars, snorkelling, swiming in the lakes and general merriment and wild adventures…. I actually get to drive one of the 4X4’s. Yeap me. Awesome!!

– Little PS here to apologise for the lack of pics or if any the above is all over the shop, I’m in a tiny internet place that won’t let me use the USB stick as they have viruses and may wipe my SD card, plus the mouse has a life of its own and is jumping about all over the place highlighting and moving the words about so I have no idea if any of this now makes sense?!!!!

AuMy first shark!

27 Mar

So the day after we arrived in Brisbane we headed off on a tour of Moreton island. We’d booked ourselves for a full day of action and adventure – namely exploring the island in 4W4’s, snorkeling the reef around a couple of sunken boats, sand surfing and swimming. A full on, high adrenalin, non stop, action packed day – bring it on!

I’m not a massive fan of boats (as you’ve heard many times now) but it really was very pleasant sitting on the top deck, soaking up the sun, enjoying a coffee and talking (porn) with Louise. Yes porn. Apparently the Germans are pretty famous for their porn, I’m beginning to think Lou could actually be a porn star :0)

On the boat to Moreton Island

As we approached the island the sunken reef came in to view, this is the spot where we’d be snorkeling very soon. Needless to say my nerves started to kick in. What the hell was I doing?!! Ok, lets just take a moment here to reflect……I have a (massive) fear of deep water and of fish (big swallow you in one bite kind of fish) and yet I was about to go, willingly, in to very deep water for a bit of snorkeling. Where I would, no doubt, come face to face with big fish….Right then. Good decision….is it too late to stop the boat?!

Off the boat we meet our guide for the day, a suitably tanned, upbeat and very buff Auzzie by the name of Ned. Great name! Before you could say 007 we were in our wetsuits headed for the water. Little note here to say that despite Daniel Craig’s efforts no one looks good in a wetsuit. No one. Mine was about 2 sizes too big and would have been perfect for someone with freakishly long legs. Sadly I do not have freakishly long legs, the exact opposite in fact, so in a rather embarrassing move I was forced to roll mine up at the ankles, several times in fact. Not a good look but very, very funny.

Actually the whole thing was pretty hilarious, both me and Lou looked ridiculous and couldn’t stop giggling as we flapped about in the shallows, much like rubber clad beached Whales, testing out our goggles and snorkels.

Me flapping about

Then before you could say “I’ve changed my mind, I’ll say here and take some pictures thanks, maybe get started on the sarnies for lunch…yes?” We were in the water. We were told not to put our snorkels into the water while we swam out to the reef. No reason was given at the time but later Ned told us it was because most people have a tendency to totally freak out when they realise how deep, dark and bloody terrifying it is. Good point. After a long swim we made it to the reef. Then came the call –  “ok you can put your heads in the water now…” it was exactly 10 seconds after that instruction that I totally and utterly freaked out. All consuming panic. ….”oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” / ” fuck, fuck, fuck” / “I can’t do this!!!”

The view that I saw when I put my head under sent a tidal wave of solid fear right through me. All I could see was the side of the sunken boat disappearing into a whole load of nothingness, deep, deep, nothingness…..just my little legs flapping about….nothing below but darkness and the odd fish head appearing out of the gloom. OH.MY.GOD.OH.MY.GOD.OH.MY.GOD……Ned noticed me having a slight moment and came over, he was absolutely brilliant. He asked if I wanted to go back…my whole body wanted to say YES, but there was no way I was bailing on this. I am Zomersetgirl on an adventure, trying new things and being brave god damn it…. There’s no way I’m quitting. Come on girl get some balls! So Ned, me and Lou stuck together for a bit, swimming along the reef, until I started to feel more confident. Gradually the fear subsided and I reaslised that although my heart was still pounding and I’d clamped my snorkel mouth piece so hard I couldn’t feel my jaw any more, I was in fact having a good time. Scrap that, I was having a great time. It was absolutely beautiful…memorizing in fact. Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful fish just swimming about, nibbling at the bread we were feeding them, just as interested in us as we were with them. It was also massively funny owning to the fact that we looked like a pair of drowning dogs every time we surfaced, goggles stuck to our bulging eyes, hair mashed to our faces, our German/English chat even more incomprehensible due to the snorkel bits in our mouths…something that sent us into a frenzy of giggles, spluttering, snorkel filled, half drowning giggles every time. So much fun.

Me & Louise – drowning/giggling underwater

I was loving it. But then Ned called out “Come over here everyone, there’s a shark right here…come and have a look“. What the …???? Ned had just said two things that really didn’t make sense – 1. The word ‘Shark’ and 2. Come and have a look???!!! In my head it should have been 1. Fuck it’s a sharrrrrk!! followed swiftly by 2. Swim for your lives!!! Once again full on panic headed my way. Ned assured me it was very, very small, very, very harmless and if I looked he promised it wouldn’t be as bad as what I was imagining. He was right of course. For what I was imagining was the lift floor from the YHA….(look at the Brisbane post for that pic – essentially Jaws looming up to eat me whole) what I got was in fact a very small, beautiful, little brown and white spotted shark  just sitting on the bottom of the boat a few meters down from me.

WOW! I had seen a shark! I had seen an actual real life shark! Totally and utterly amazing. This was a moment I had dreamed about, thought about, imagined for many, many years and here it was. A beautiful little shark, just below me. I was so happy I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. I was still terrified of course but I was also very, very happy and just a little bit proud of myself….very proud of myself in fact.

Loving it!

Snorkeling done we headed off in the 4W4 for the sand surfing…..as we kangaroo hopped along the sandy road it became apparent quite quickly that a bikini definitely did not provide the support required for such a bumpy ride. Something Ned also notice with his “you’ll be wanting a sports bra by the end of this” quip. And he wasn’t wrong. Jeez…. me and the puppies got thrown about all over the place, it’s a wonder they stayed on! I’d consider suing for my two black eyes but I’m pretty sure the disclaimer we signed included boob related injuries, such was its thoroughness. Ned drove/bounced us all around the island, showing off the miles and miles of totally empty sandy shores. It was simply breathtaking. Paradise.

Shortly after we found ourselves in a place called “The desert” aptly named because it is in fact a bit of a desert, rolls and rolls of massive sand dunes and nothing at all to shelter you from the blistering sun. We headed off with our sand surfing boards and started the exhausting, thigh burning climb to the top. Our boards were pretty tiny and the higher we climbed the more apprehensive I got. The technique seemed simple enough. Get to the top of the massive dune, line up your board, hold on tight and slide down. What you don’t realise until its way too late is that you’ll be flying face first down a vertical dune, sliding at about 150mph, whilst swallowing a gut full of sand, you’ll lose both flip-flops, scream like a big girl and generally feel as if the worlds biggest hairdryer has been blown in your face – G-Force!! It was pretty bloody cool. No doubt. Yeah man! The whole gang loved it, it was hilarious watching everyone shoot down, the same bemused, startled, dazed and exhilarated look on their faces when their slide finally came to a stop….lets go again!! I laughed so much my sides hurt.

Very high and very fast

After the sand surfing we found another gorgeous deserted beach and spent some time just swimming about in the clear shallows, trying to wash the sand from every single inch of ourselves. I thought it was the perfect end to a perfect day….and then it got ever better….a school of dolphins appeared about 200 meters from us….

Wow. What a day.

I had laughed so, so much. Faced my fears, seen my very first shark and swam in beautiful clear waters with wild dolphins jumping in the distance. I can’t really do it justice, but It was without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done in my whole life and I will smile every single time I think about it.

A very, very good day!

Next stop Noosa.

Brisbane, Louise and me…

23 Mar

G’day

from the very, VERY, crazy hot and sunny Brisbane….

Myself and Louise (a fellow friend from Byron) hopped on the bus and headed up to Briz a few days ago. So far we’ve established that the higher north you go….the more you will melt! Seriously this is crazy hot and from what people tell me it’s only going to get hotter?!! I’m not entirely sure I can actually handle it – I mean on the first day of getting here my thong actually started melting….yes melting! And for those of you with filthy minds (you know who you are!) by thong I do of course mean, flip flop, not my knickers.

A few lines on my travel buddy Louise – we met in Byron as Friengers but after a few days became proper friends. Louise is German, from Hamburg to be exact and in her own words “she is not a typical German”….that is to say she is extremely funny, very warm and affectionate, outgoing, sociable and generally pretty bloody cool. We spend alot of our time just giggling like a bunch of teenagers. So far I have learned that Lou is vegetarian (including fish), loves beer, hates kareoke, could be a secret German porn star, sometimes confuses the words laugh and love and also foot and food (which can be very funny), loves to learn new English phrases and is about as good at snorkelling as me…..which is to say we both look like drowned rats and can’t stop laughing/drowning.

Before Briz we spent our last days in Byron basically enjoying what should be called the monsoon season – it seriously chucked it down, continuously for 2 days solid. Torrential down pours. Unfortunately this meant our much hyped surf lesson had to be cancelled. Bums. But fear not, there are loads of places up the coast and I will, one day, learn to surf, properly, standing up and everything. Yes I will.

Anyway during the rainy days we amused ourselves by chatting, telling stories, going for long walks on the beach (which is actually pretty cool when it’s raining ) drinking at Cheeky Monkeys and meeting more friengers. Anyway after a few funny, rainy dys I managed to convince Lou to travel with me to Brisbane, stay at the YHA and to also come with me on a crazy, extreme tour to Moreton Island just off the coast. Luckily for me, Lou is fabulous and said yes to all. So Louise is officially my first actual travel buddy…hooray!!

Cooling off....

We’re now staying at the YHA in Briz, it’s one of the flagship hostels and is pretty much like staying in a hotel – it’s very, very swanky. Amazing roof top pool and deck overlooking the city, massive kitchen and dinning area, 5 floors, cool bar/cafe etc – yeap pretty swanky. The only issue is that it has in fact been built on a railway line. Yes, ON a railway line. The train literally rattles through our room throughout the night!! Ok so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it certainly feels like it. As a ridiculously light sleeper I did of course kick up a fuss and after a rather heated conversation with a very angry lady receptionist, and then another more persuasive one with a bloke receptionist (make of that what you will….) we’ve were give our own room on the other side of the hostel. Good times. 

But it isn’t the pool, big rooms or even the hotel like swankiness of the hostel that I love – the absolutely best thing about this whole place is the lift. Very rarly could you ever say that the best place about anywhere is the lift but in this case, I know you’ll agree with me…..how would you feel stepping into this…..

Best lift ever!

Isn’t it brilliant!!!!!! I LOVE it. I can’t stand on the mouth bit though, have a sneaky suspiction that if I do the floor will suddenly give way and I will in fact be eaten. I know that sounds crazy but I’m not taking any chances! I’ll say it again….I LOVE it!

Our first day here was spent pretty much chilling by the pool, I know that sounds very lazy but it was 31 degrees by 7.30am so doing anything other than lying down is exhausting! I did also venture into the city for a little potter about but returned after a few hours. It has to be said, Briz isn’t that great. I mean it’s ok as a city goes, but it a bit sterile, it’s as if all the cool, quirky things have been identified byt a city official, gathered up and subequently removed in a giant lorry to be shipped off to somewhere else….possibly Sydney or maybe even London. The streets are pretty empty, the buildings are all new and have that shiny but not very interesting look about them, even the river is a dull muddy brown, it’s just a bit boring. Anyway it didn’t matter too much, we were pretty knackered on the first night (Byron had ruined us slightly) so just headed out for some food and a little drink. We ended up in a hostel bar called Tin Billys which was just around the corner from the YHA. Somehow, and I’m not quite sure how it happened, I ended up in a karaoke competition to win a $80 bar tab?!!

My main competition for this much desired prize was a man who called himself Mr Ed, he was about 70 years old, had a coral colour shirt on, spat on you whenever he spoke and pretty much murdered every single song he sang – and he sang a lot of them, over and over. Louise actually stopped breathing at one point she was laughing so much, she managed to record one mangled version of a song (I can’t even tell you which was he was that bad) but I’m hoping to get a video to show you soon. Anyway I knew when I was defeated. My one, terrified, slightly slurred version of Valerie couldn’t stand up to the might of Mr Ed and his many, many, dear god is he seriously singing again?! oh so many songs, I had to bow out gracefully, once I’d regained composure and stopped laughing that is.

The next morning we were up bright and early to head off on our Moreton Island extreme adventure tour, which included a day of 4W4 driving, snorkelling around a sunken reef, sand surfing (?!), swimming, exploring and generally being bad ass extreme chicks for the day – more of that that later, yeah man!

Me & Louise heading to Moreton Island

Byron bound…and beyond

19 Mar

My exact route for the great Auzzie adventure has always been a bit vague, I’ve sorted of just hopped from friend to friend and gone with the flow. But now that I’m out of the city I need to have a more precise plan and route…..which looks a little like this….

First stop Coffs Harbour –

Coffs Harbour is a very quiet little place, very quiet in fact, as I realised pretty much as soon as I got there. Paul had already told me this but according to my guide-book Coffs Harbour is the “action capital of the South West Coast”….let me just say this….they lied. I will be writing a letter and informing them of their lie very shortly. But it wasn’t all bad, I did meet Maggie (the aging naked yoga lady), I also enjoyed the harbour, the quiet beaches and the pier. But after about 2hrs you realise that there really isn’t much else to do, but just relax and let it all sink in. And that’s exactly what I did.

I walked to the very end of the pier and sat on a little bench looking out to sea. There wasn’t another soul in sight, I was totally alone. Just me, the sea and the breeze. It was a beautifully still sunny day. The sky was ocean blue with just a few tiny whisps of cloud. Perfect. It was at this moment everything just sort of caught up with me. I’m not ashamed to say I shed a little tear on this pier. I think it was one of the first times I’ve been able to fully take it all in. The space, the freedom, everything I’m trying to move on from and how much I’m moving on. But it was a good moment, I needed it. And as I walked back down the pier I felt a whole lot better. Because of that, little quiet Coffs Harbour and this pier will stay with me for a long time…..

Coffs Habour - the pier - great for thinking...

After a 4hr bus journey, which started at 6am and involved sharing a small space with the great unwashed (seriously the bus stank!), the next stop on my travels was Byron Bay –

I had already been told that Byron Bay was going to be pretty awesome. It’s know for being a bit of a party place, with very cool people, great beaches, great surf and lots of fun. But after Coffs Harbour and the blatant ‘action capital…’  lie I was keeping my expectations pretty low.

I’ve been here for 4 days now and I’m very, very happy to report that Byron is bloody brilliant! It’s a seriously cool place, very much set up for travellers and people who are passing through. The main street is packed with great shops, bars, cafes and quirky galleries, and amble off any of the side streets and a similar scene unfolds. In fact it’s a bit of a rabbit warren with lots to discover if you just wonder about and take a few wrong turns. At the end of the main road you’re greeted with the famous bay and its white sandy beach which stretches for miles and miles.  

On my first night I decided to join one of the organised pub crawls with my new Frienger and fellow roomie, Brita. One thing I will just get out is that so far pretty much all of the travellers I’ve met have been either English or German, with a handful of Americans. But mostly English or German – in fact there are so many of us I’m pretty sure the population of both countries is significantly lower than usual?!! Anyway Brita, allowed me to tag along with her and her friend Amadeus (yes really) and her cousin Max (who I’m pretty sure was mute because I never actually heard him speak once, not in English or German).

The reason I mention the pub crawl is to clarify something….It may seem that a lot of this blog is about drinking but when you’re travelling on your own one of the easiest ways to meet people and not be a massive loner eating instant noodles by yourself is to share a beer. So I have fully embraced this and it works.

The other reason I’m mentioning the bar crawl is because it is where I met Rachael. And Rachael Rocks!!! Rachael is English and within the space of about 10mins we realised we were destined to be proper real friends and subsequently spent the next 4 days tied to each other and having the most amazing, hilarious and brilliant time. One of the most memorable nights (St Patrick’s day to be precise) involved Rachael’s encounter with an Auzzie rules player who, very seriously, described himself as “Kind of a big deal” followed up with (and again I’m deadly serious, he said these exact words) “People know me”…….Yeap we’d met the Ron Burgundy of Auzzie rules……Needless to say he genuinely thought he was gods gift and it was very amusing to watch Rachael bat him away, repeatedly I must say, with lines like “I don’t give a toss who you are, you could be the David Beckham of rugby for all I care, now bugger off!’. He was putty in her hands!

Rachael and me celebrating Paddys day (I do love a mask!)

Drinking out of jam jars - classy

Sadly Rachel has now left for Sydney but I’ll know I’ll see her when I head back that way…..after all “She’s kind of a big deal” ;0)

During the day there are loads to do in Byron, it’s a wonderful place to just potter, explore and pass the time without a care in the world. And the beaches as I’ve already said are stunning. I went for a run along the coastal path yesterday and the views were breathtaking. Lots of little hidden beaches come into view with each bend in the track, each more more stunning than the last.  Pure white sand, crystal clear waters, dotted with the occasional surfer, expertly weaving their way through the waves. It really is paradise, or as close as I’ve come to it.

Byron Bay

The surfing culture over here is pretty intense. And at some point I knew I had to get out there and give it a try. So tomorrow I will attempt to surf. For the very first time..ever. Terrified…me….oh hell yeah! I mean I have boogie-boarded down in Cornwall before which was just brilliant fun, but I know that’s nothing like actual proper surfing. But I have booked a proper surf lesson so there’s no going back. I set off at 11am and fully intend to get bashed about by the waves, drink a gallon of sea water, possibly get attacked by a shark and then collapse in a heap on the sand swearing I’ll never do it again……. I will of course share a full report with you (pictures and all), should I survive the experience.

In the next few days I’ll head up the coast to Surfers Paradise – well, I should by this time be a world-class surfer so I’m thinking I’ll fit right in…Dude.

After Surfers I’ll be city bound and spend a few nights in Brisbane before travelling on to Noosa, Hervey Beach, Rainbow Bay, Fraser Island, up to the Whit Sundays and a whole host of places in between, before finally reaching Cairns and travelling back to Sydney. Phew!!

So there you go, that’s how the travels look and I’m loving every single moment of it.

So where was I..??

14 Mar

Hello, hello, hellooooo

Wow so much to catch up on….ok so last time I left you I had just popped my Mardi Gras cherry – good times! Now in the last post I mentioned that my mum was over for a little visit, I won’t go into the reasons but she needed some sunshine and so came over to see some friends and of course me to.

We spent some time with Gilly and Max at their house just outside of Sydney, Gilly is Faye’s mum so her and my mum go waaaaaay back – they actually met while they were in hospital having us, so we’ve all been friends ever since! Anyway it was really lovely being there and having that time to catch up with Mum. Gilly and Max were the perfect hosts and took us off on little day tours to see some great places, including Summer Bay – or Palm Beach as it’s really called. We were actually there on a filming day but I haven’t watched the show since i was about 15 so had absolutely know idea who anyone was. As well as sight seeing we cooked, lazed about, went for lunch, saw Max’s boat out at Pitt Harbour (and chuckled at the boats that had rude names – Mum’s favourite was a boat called Wet Patch – I kid you not) we shopped, talked and talked and sunk lots of delicious bottles of vino from Max’s very own cellar – thank you Max! We went slightly over board on one particular night ended up in the hot tub at 3am (in our underwear?!) and didn’t get out until we’d gone all wrinkly. I have pictures but decided not to share them this time ;0)

A few days later mum and me headed off for some time on our own at the beautiful Hunter Valley. For those of you that don’t know the Hunter Valley is vineyard land and is famous for producing some of the country’s best wines, as well and cheeses and chocolate. So three days of massive over indulgence awaited us…..Bring…It….On! We’d booked ourselves into a little barn on a vineyard and whilst it looked very quaint and lovely on the website in was in fact…a barn. A very old, sort of scary barn, with loads of spiders, and creaky noises….all very ‘little house on the prairie’ and not at all what we had in mind. But we fired up the BBQ and made it home…..

The barn

Home sweet home

We decided the best way to see the vineyards was to book a day tour….now I’ve been wine tasting before, but never have I started a day of wine tasting at 10am?!! By 12pm me and mum were very, very squiffy and we still had another 4 vineyards to go?! It was brilliant though. We met some lovely people, tried some amazing wines and some pretty awful wines too. Mum will not be convinced that chardonnay is in any way drinkable, her face after each tasting was brilliant. Like she was sucking on a lemon, that had been covered in salt. Exactly the reaction the wine makers were looking for I’m sure.

Yes I think I need a bit more pleeeeease

By far the best vineyard we visited was Molly’s Cradle all because of the host – Serg….. Imagine if you will a man who is passionate about wine, a french man to be precise, with a ridiculously thick French accent who pronounced ‘grapes’ as ‘Gwups’ over and over again! “To git ze best from the gwups you av’ to love the gwups“….it was all very Monty Python and as it was our 4th (or maybe 5th?!) stop of the tour it sent me and mum into a fit of giggles every time. We loved Serg and his gwups!

The next day we headed off to the Hunter Zoo and met some of the local wildlife including kangaroos, alligators, koalas, parrots, monkeys and so on…..I have to say I fell completely in love with the koalas. They are just gorgeous. Like real life teddy bears. They sleep for about 15hours a day, so we were very lucky to see them and have a cuddle. I’d been told to listen out for the sound they make, but not a peep!! Which was a shame because apparently they sound like someone doing a very loud fart – which would have been hilarious to hear first hand. But nope, they were very quiet, and cuddly and lovely…..

Soooooo cute!!!

Skippy taking it easy

After the Hunter we drove back up to South West Rocks to Faye and Paul’s house to celebrate Emma’s 2nd birthday with a big BBQ and a wonderful teddy bears picnic. Faye out did herself with an amazing teddy bear shaped cake (which we partly made on Friday night a little worst for wear after a friends party – but thankfully despite our wobbliness the cake turned out a beauty!!) Clear blue skies, a beautiful garden scene complete with teddy bears hidden in the tree tops, lots of friends, pimms, kids running around and loads of laughter made for a wonderful day and Emma loved every moment of it. It was also a real treat for the four of us to be together – a rare and wonderful thing!

The best cake ever!!

Mums and daughters

The adult entertainment came a little later after all the kids (and our mums) left and a little gang of us headed up to the balcony to sing songs (with Faye’s new guitar) and chat into the night. I say singing…. but I think the sounds we made could only be described as cats being tortured, loudly….we were basically shouting, alot, making up the words, rapping, free styling and making complete idiots of ourselves. It was brilliant. My sides ached from laughing so much. A career in music will not be knocking on my door any time soon – Simon Cowell you can rest easy!

So I think that brings me up to date…..Sorry, it sort of feels like that was just a long list of things. But it’s been a full on few days/week and I’m pretty wiped…..but what lays ahead should be very exciting.

From now on it’s just me, out on the wide open road, heading up the coast to more adventures…. and I promise to fill you in all the way….

Mardi Gras Virgin

6 Mar

 

For the last week or so I’ve been staying outside of Sydney with my Mum, who’s over for a holiday visiting her friends Gilly and Max (Mum of Faye……), anyway more of that later…

But I came back to the city to spend my last weekend in Sydney enjoying the simply fabulous Mardi Gras festivities….how could I not?!!

As a Mardi Gras virgin I can honestly say my cherry was well and truly popped – in the most fabulous of ways! I was totally blown away, it was bold, brash, colourful, bejazzled with sequins and quite simply the most fun ever. EVER!

My Mardi Gras play mates were Steve and Laura, I joined them at their friend’s house and knew as soon as I walked it that it was going to be a pretty crazy night. Every single person was in fancy dress….it was wall to wall glitter, sparkles, costumes and booze – yeap it was gonna get messy.

Before me stood a sea of fancy dress gone mad – head to toe latex nurses uniforms, afro wigs, cowboy hats, feather bowers, sailor outfits – and that was just the men?! The girls rocked costumes just as hard, dressed head to toe in glitter, feathers, fairy wings, leather, pink leotards and army get ups – it was brilliant.

Steve "The Truncheon" & Laura "Major-ly Fabulous"

Now my suitcase may contain every kind of heel required for my travels (five pairs to be exact – What?!!) but what I had failed to bring was any fancy dress. GUTTED. I LOVE fancy dress! But I did what I could and adored myself with a silver face mask – a very glittery, blind you with glitter every time you blink kind of mask….not stand out amazing I know, but it I blended in well enough.

 

Major-ly Fabulous and Miss Butterfly

(After a whole bucket of booze I convinced myself that the mask gave me an air of mystery and pretty much refused to take it off all night … even at the club when we all got ID’d (YES I got ID’d – so happy!).. – it’s a wonder I didn’t wake up in the damm thing?!!)

So after we’d drank the entire contents of the house dry and painted ourselves in even more glitter we left for the parade.

The streets were literally throbbing with excitement and anticipation. You could feel it. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people were gathering, streaming towards Oxford Street, in all their fancy dress glory ready to watch the parade. It’s an amazing experience and one that totally sweeps you up.

Out on the street you soon realise that everyone is dressed up – EVRYONE! The costumes are outrageous and fabulous. Our little group (about 30 of us) was surrounded by giant teletubbys, sailors (oh sooo many sailors),  a giant human condom train thing (I’m not kidding) a Marge Simpson (she was totally yellow, massive blue wig – big, big effort) and more cowboys and leather than you could find in Elton’s wardrobe. I LOVED it.

After a suitably restrained and demure opening performance from the very shy Louis Spence (words fail me!)…he the parade started and we found ourselves on the hunt for some milk crates to stand on. Eventually all of us managed to squish together on a couple of crates and watcched with massive smiles on our faces as the parade rolled past.

Just one of the amazing floats - my pics were pretty rubbish but hope this shows you some of it...

The floats were brilliant, so brilliant, but what I loved the best was the groups of people without the floats. They had gone to massive efforts with their costumes and included big dance routines which they performed as they walked along (quite a hard thing if you ask me). But each one gave it welly. They were loving it. Dancing their hearts out, singing, smiling and cheering – and so were we!!

My first ever Mardi Gras experience will stay with me for a very long time. It was everything I expected and soooo much more. It made me beam to see so many amazing, inspiring, wonderful people all gathered together to celebrate love and the freedom to be happy.

Simply fabulous! Thank you Sydney!

%d bloggers like this: