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Friday, March 29, 2013

Good morning campers (and those not so camp!)

Its Louise at the blog helm once more, letting you know all that is groovy, girly and just plain  grrrl! in her life on and off Magnetic Island, Far North Queensland, Australia.

Forgive me, oh blog faithful, its been a few weeks since my last lot of ramblings to the masses, and I feel now I need to confess all!

We (my lovely husband Matt and I) have just finished a fab two week trip to Sydney.  We went down for the Sydney Mardi Gras and arty aspects associated with it.

Before I forget - many thanks to our chums Jono and Kate who let us use their lovely house in Sydney while they were away.    Plus a big "thank you" to our chum Geoff who let us use his sofa bed for a few nights at his place in Freshwater, Sydney.  Thanks guys, you made our trip fan-bloody-tastic.

Of course, as we knew we would be going to the Mardi Gras, we booked the trip down to Sydney about 6 months ago, and back then we got very cheap air fares with Virgin Airways, and all was sweet... or so we thought.

Until we realised that we now have an extra family member  in the shape of our adopted doggie Eric.  (see pic below)   Luckily, the dog grooming lady on the island, Maria,  also boards doggies and she took Eric for the 2 weeks while we were away.  Lovely.

Eric and toy; Jan 2013

So, flexing our muscles with our very heavy case, we jumped on the ferry to Townsville on 20 February,  and after a 2 hr flight, we landed in Sydney to 27C (a heatwave!) and after finding our pre booked shuttle bus to the Northern Beaches, we set off for Freshwater -   only to be stuck in traffic with the sad news on the radio that a truck had caught fire in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, and the tunnel northbound (our way) was closed. (Truck driver unhurt)  Bugger!

As we inched towards the Harbour Bridge, the road signs began flashing that the tunnel was now open, and our driver quickly changed lanes.  Driving like Aryton Senna on crystal meth, we zoomed down the inside lane, becoming one of the first vehicles to enter the re-opened tunnel - Lovely!

Wow, I had no idea coming back to Sydney would be so exciting.

I should explain that we were coming down to Sydney for the Sydney Mardi Gras and the after parade party: parties that we have been going to for yonks: my first was 1995 -  if my addled brain remembers correctly - and I've been going more or less ever since.  Yes, its true, I'm a fag hag from way back and proud of it!  Not sure what that makes my husband Matt?  A he-hag maybe? Whatever, once you've tasted those amazing parties you have to go back every year.

We arrived a few days before the big par-tay, and decided to get cultural.   We arrived at Geoff's place on 20th February and next day we both had an appointment with our dentist Dan Pechar of Manly.  I've been going to him for yonks, and as the French women say, "A woman needs 3 main professionals in her life, a good doctor, a good dressmaker and a good hairdresser".  I would add a good dentist to that list.

Matt and I both got a check up, and a clean and polish and we were done.

Next day Friday 22 Feb saw Geoff, Matt and myself hit the Warringah Mall shops with avengence! Our first stop was Target.  Time for some new undies (for both of us) and joy - oh joy, that day there was 30% off all underwear.  Lovely!  So by the end of the visit we had racked up a bill of around $175, but what the hell, a girl has to have some decent undies?  (and a man too!)

That night we had pre purchased tickets for 'Torch Song Trilogy' at the Darlinghurst Theatre in Kings Cross (the 'seedy/exciting' area of Sydney), and wearing some new undies (modesty forbids me from saying exactly what that entails but the colour black was involved) we drove into town.

Finding a parking spot with ease (thank you my goddess of parking!) we had a quick bit to eat and walked to the theatre.  And very good the play was too.    See pic below.

Note the lovely pendant  I am sporting here - its the "upset the Catholics necklace", a Madonna and child, made for me by Rachel (my jeweler sister in law), who knows I love an icon or two.    As a born again atheist I figure I can get away with it.  Interestingly, no one has yet commented on this delight of iconography.   Maybe all and sundry assume I am a extremely religious person and think it best to leave well alone?  I should confess here I have a Jesus watch too, but the 2 items together would be way too much - even for me...

"Torch Song Trilogy" 22.2.13  Darlinghurst Theatre
 L-R Geoff, Louise and Matt

The next day Saturday,  it absolutely bucketed down with rain;  bugger - luckily I packed an umbrella.  

George St. Sydney 23.2.13 - discarded umbrella - not mine!

Geoff, Matt and I were off into town to meet James (a friend of Geoff) to all go together to the Guild Theatre in Rockdale to see an amateur production of the Neil Simon play 'I ought to be in pictures'  and very good it was too.   My only gripe is that the toilets are outside the tiny theatre, and as the rain was still lashing it down I got soaked running back inside as the bell rang that the interval had finished.   But on the other hand, I've never been to a theatre production that gives the patrons free cups of tea and biscuits in the interval.   (As those of you who know this blog well, 'free' is my second favourite "F" word).   Is there a chance this could catch on with other theatres in Sydney?


On Sunday 24th we moved out of Geoff's place to our chum Jono & Kate's place as they were away.  (Many thanks guys!)   

Next day, (Monday)  we got Matt to the local barbers, did some shopping and met up with Geoff at 6pm in the Mall to have a quick bite of dinner and go and see the movie (with our own Jackie Weaver in it) 'Silver Linings Playbook'.  I didn't know much about this movie so sat there in the dark letting it wash over me, and I really liked it.  I can see why Jennifer Lawrence got the Oscar for her performance, but I think our Jackie shone like a diamond.   Grab a look if you can.


On Tuesday, we picked up Geoff and whizzed into town to the old East Sydney Technical college (now the National Art School) grounds to see a exhibition by painter Ben Quilty - he won the Archibald Prize a few years ago with his portrait of fellow artist Margaret Olley - and all three of us like his work.  

Mr Quilty was commissioned by the Australian government to be official War Artist for the Aussie troops in Afghanistan.   He was in the thick of it for a few months, came home and asked soldiers who he had sketched while on duty there to come to his studio and sit for him.   The style of painting here is done with a palette knife and other implements and has a very masculine, hard quality.  I really like it.

Ben Quilty exhibition 26.2.13 - Aussie soldiers with PTSD after Afghan duties

We decided to do a quick tour around the grounds of the National Art School. The building are all from the early convict days of early Sydney and one little one intrigued me enough to take a photo; its a small tiny one but it was the mortuary from when the place was a prison.

The old mortuary, Nat. Art School campus; 26.2.13

After viewing this exhibition, and the ghoulish mortuary, we repaired for coffee around the corner to discover the zebra crossing across to Taylor Square had turned into a lorikeet crossing!  (see below)  This was for the Mardi Gras but there are moves afoot to keep it there.  It cost a fortune but the MG brings in huge crowds for the parade and party and Sydney benefits greatly from the extra tourists.

Rainbow Mardi Gras crossing, 26.2.13

After a spot of dinner it was off to see one of the MG Film Festival offerings; "Bear City 2".

Now for those not in the know, this is NOT a cartoon about Yogi Bear or similar; its about 'bears' as in gay hairy chaps (usually older) who have a big following.  Their followers and fans are knows as 'cubs' and are usually younger men (and from the film we saw the "cubs" are decidedly un-hairy).  It was, I assure you,  a clean laugh out loud comedy and having never seen this type of movie before, I have to say I really enjoyed it.

The movie was being screened upstairs in the 'Ginger' bar of the Oxford Hotel (just to the left of the rainbow crossing above) and we walked upstairs with our tickets and sat down in the huge bar/lounge.  Matt kindly dashed to the bar before the movie started and got me a Diet Coke.   As I stood up to straighten my skirt, I glanced around the room I realised something kinda strange:  I was the ONLY women (straight or otherwise) in a saloon of about 100 leather clad and somewhat hirsute men.   Wow!

But in case you are wondering, yes, there was a ladies toilet.  A bit underused looking but there nontheless...

Below is link to IMDB review of this movie...


Now the other joy about being back in Sydney's is that I could hit the charity shops big time.  As I've said on many a blog in the past, about 80% of my clothes come from 'Op shops' and the money I save goes on getting my hair done once a month, and keeping myself in chocolate bars.

If any of the chaps reading this have a nervous disposition, they should look away now, as I am about to get all girly and show off some of my op shop finds.   

To me, it was like big game hunting, only looking for clothes and accessories, and I loved every minute of it.  Matt was not so keen, but I've learnt to sit him down somewhere in the shop with a good book while I have a scout around.

On entering The Smith Family charity op-shop in Dee Why, (Sydney Northern Beaches) I spotted this hat on a display and immediately tried it on.  It fitted and joy of joys, everything in the shop that day was half price!   Yes!  What a find...  ( I am a hat person and have a lovely collection of them).

Designer hat found in charity shop 28.2.13

The next day things improved still further when I found a tiny size 2 1/2 (my size!) shoes from the 1940s I would say in the Lifeline charity shop in Manly.   Aren't they great?  They are cream satin and probably a wedding shoe.    Happy days...

Wedding shoes - found in Lifeline shop, Manly 27.2.13

Earlier, we had visited Warringah Mall and found this dress on sale in one of the dress shops - Paul Dane - in the downstairs courtyard.   

Paul Dane dress found on sale -  Warringah Mall; 27.2.13

My lovely husband Matt, knowing what a op shop lover I am, was happy to come with me to check out another op -shop - the Lifeline charity shop in Balgowlah, a huge store and one of my faves.

Scored this pink dress by George Gross (Aussie designer) and 3 handbags.

 a pink dress  - which of course needs a pink bag...

but then I found 2 other bags I had to have; one a black (fake) Jimmy Choo bag (un-used):

and the other one was a white Fiorelli (designer) bag...  very good condition


Now dear readers,  you are wondering how I got all my finds back to Magnetic Island?  As the Boy Scouts say 'be prepared' - which if you see my handbag complete with Swiss Army knife, you know I always am ready for most things.

Knowing I would be hitting the op shops, Matt and I shared one biggish suitcase and put a zip sports bag inside that case,  for toting back anything we bought while away.   One of my better ideas...


The time in Sydney just flew, the weather turned wet and before we knew it was Saturday, 2nd March and the day of the big party.   I was lucky to be able to get to my old hair dressers 'The Salon' at Narraweena, and although unable to get my usual stylist, Julie, to straighten my hair, Laura did a fine job.

A quick dinner of bacon and eggs (perfect for dancing the night away) and we got dressed up for our big night out.  

Before the MG Party 2013;   2 Mar. 13; 

Many thanks to Michael Zanetti, who kindly hosted a pre party drinks thingy at his place in Redfern, Sydney; it was great to see our chum, Chris M.  and meet up with some other chaps who were ready to have a ball!  

And the party?  No rain, thank the gods, and it was an Absolutely Fabulous (great title for a TV show maybe?) party, but I digress.  The local DJs belted out some great tunes, we met up with Michael and some of his pals on the dance floor the time just flew, as it does when one is having a good time.

We danced and danced until about 6am and decided that now feeling a bit exhausted, that it was probably time to go.

After a sleep until midday - the next day (Sunday) was spent just recovering from all that exertion. Movies watched, chocolate eaten and we were in bed by 9pm.  

On Monday we packed our bags for the trip back to Magnetic Island.    The big suitcase when weighed was 20kg and the sports bag about 10kg so we were a bit concerned we may be over the limit.  A lot.   If we had to we would take the heaviest stuff on in our backpacks as hand luggage and try to avoid excess luggage fees -  this trick has worked for me in the past.

On Tuesday morning we arrived at the airport and smiling sweetly at the check in man, we got our bags on with no extra charge (we were 1kg under with combined limits!).  Phew!  

And of course, what happens every time we fly - we get stopped by the bomb detector man.  

Its sort of a joke now, that one of us will get the once over, but on a flight to Melbourne we both got scanned - a record of some sort...  

Rushing to the food court, as we sat down to breakfast we found out our flight would be delayed by 30 mins, so no need to rush.   Is it just me or is anyone else wound up by just getting to the airport and checking in?  I've never missed a plane in my life but have a horror of doing that so I try and get to terminals well before the flight is meant to leave.

At last we got on our flight.  Relaxing a bit and reading the New Scientist mags that I had neglected the last few weeks, the time flew and we were landing in Townsville.   It was 32C and sunny. Lovely...  

It was nice to come home and get back Eric, who was sporting a new haircut and looking very suave,  from Maria.  Eric was jumping like a firecracker on our arrival, very happy to see us.

OK fans I am stopping NOW on the blog as it is Friday 29 March (Good Friday) and Matt has just announced (9am) we are going away on a surprise mystery trip for the long weekend, and to pack my bags!

So next blog I'll tell all!




Please see link below of fellow blogger   -  the Citizen Rosebud - who is worth a look...

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