Friday, October 27, 2006

On the streets of Marrickville

On my way up to the local cafe yesterday on the streets of Marrickville at about 11am I spotted this man - bald head, massive tattoos, no shirt, black jeans, braces and big black lace up doc martins on his feet. In one hand he held a half empty long neck of beer and in the other a dog leash. At the end of the leash was a teeny, tiny, ratlike little Chihuahua type dog which had stopped to sniff a bush. "Hurry up darling" said the man, and they headed off on their merry way.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Complaining is the new black

Whinging, whining, piping up, crying foul, making a fuss…….now I’m well over 30 I’ve noticed a strange new compulsion of mine. If I don’t like something I complain. I’m not talking about complaining to complete strangers for no reason or just randomly in public or anything like that. I’m talking about talking up my rights as a consumer. Only the other day I realised I have saved/ recouped almost close to $1000 dollars in the last six months thanks to a bit of positive complaining.

I’ve complained to the Telco company who left me without a phone or internet for weeks, I’ve complained to the auction house who tried to deliver my 60 kilo table to my mums house but didn’t send anyone to help carry it. I’ve dragged a dodgy accountant across the coals after he managed to get my tax return wrong twice but still wanted to charge me $385 for the pleasure and recently I socked it to my bank who, bless ‘em, wanted to charge me a $45 dishonour fee for simply pressing the wrong button when internet banking.

My advice, next time you get some dodgy fee for something or someone gives you really bad service – complain! Put it in writing, refuse to speak to the kid who answers the phone and ask for the manager and if you can support your complaint 9 times out of 10 I reckon you’ll get your money back. The scary thing to consider is if you don’t how much of our money can get frittered away on all this stuff when we don’t kick up a fuss. Now I’m officially old and grumpy I’m wondering what I can do with the money I saved – maybe I can put that grand of mine towards a train spotting hobby or something else suitably obsessive and nerdy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Killers on the coast

Eddie and I continued our obsession of travelling to far flung corners of NSW to hang out with wildlife this weekend, destination; Merimbula and Eden on the far South Coast.

In another rapidly developing tradition we managed to choose one of the unseasonably hottest days of the year to spend inside a car without any aircon. (When we went to Dubbo it was the same deal.) Ed's dear old Saab being a sensible scandanavian has windscreen wipers on her headlights to keep them clear of any pesky snowdrifts that might come our way but her scandanavian sensibilities mean that her aircon is more suited to a mildly warm Swedish day of about 23 degrees not a blasting 36. As a result we travelled all the way down the windy roads of the Sth Coast sucking back warm bottled water and hanging our heads out the window like dogs to catch a breeze.

The South coast of NSW is often the forgotten bridesmaid to the more showy glitzy bridezilla of the North Coast, who supposedly has the better beaches and a more 'tropical' vibe. While this is true the North also means a trip up a massive ugly highway past towns that have bulldozed away all their charm and replaced them with tasteless tacky new buildings, Nelson Bay being a perfect example. The South is quieter, has a kind of wild quality to it, lonely stretches of beach, cliffs, green rolling hills and a daisy chain of little towns filled with gorgeous old homes, pubs and shops. Mind you Ed and I were staying in Merimbula with his rellies where the vibe is a little more tacky beach side holiday town but it is the exception to most of the area which is glorious.

But Ed and I weren't in town for the buildings but for large mammals. It's whale season down south where hundreds of Humpbacks and Southern right whales like to stop for a month or so of r n r before heading south to the feeding grounds in the antarctic. I've been down before when my mate Megan lived in the nearby town of Eden and everytime we'd been out on a whale watch we had been treated to these giants leaping about, slapping their huge fins on the water, elegant tails being waved about in the air and on one occassion we even had a baby whale swim right up to our boat and pop his ugly but lovely head out of the water and take a good long look at us.

So it was with much anticipation I dragged Ed onto a whale watch on the weekend. Even though Holmes has been just about every-bloody-where and has done just about every-bloody-thing the one thing he hasn't done is whale watch. Off we headed cameras at the ready, we saw some cute dolphins and fur seals, plenty of sea birds and then.....nothing. Finally after about and hour and half we came across a whale which consisted of a spurt of water and a bit of back before it nicked off. We floated around for about another 40 minutes and then saw a bit of a tail and then...bugger all. This carried on for the rest of the trip. The captain made us feel really great by telling us it was "definately the worst day we've had all season and "last week we saw 35 whales in 3 hours". So what gives? Our captain told us that the whales were acting weird and the last time they had acted like that the killer whales had turned up the next day. Apparently killer whales like nothing better than a bit of tasty baby humpback so the troops were nervous, staying under the water and hiding. Bloody killers.
Luckily on the way home Ed and I got to spot some more wildlife, of the tv celebrity kind. While we had a stop in pretty Tilba we were treated to the sight of Getaway host Catriona Rowntreet prancing around the main street dressed in a bright orange shirt tucked into very tight faded jeans and high heels. The woman has obviously lost her mind after all those years at channel 9.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Into the Lions den

Dubbo, Central NSW. Crap town, great zoo.

As far as the town goes, we arrived, Ed decided to fall asleep in our 197o's hotel/motel and I bravely took to the streets to discover the town. At 4pm most shops, cafes, everything were closed but I was lucky enough to be ogled by a group of 30 something men cruising up and down the main street in a Toyota Camry. Kinda says it all really, if the sight of a slightly bedraggled 30 something woman wandering up the street and having a look in the window of the local Sussan shop is the most exciting thing in town, it's a worry.

But the Western Plains Zoo is one massive and very cool place, looking as close to the African Savannah as a piece of the central part of NSW can be. Ed and I arrived early for a morning tour (6.30) where we got to check out some of the Rhinos up close, watched a very handsome young Gibbon do some acrobatics, listened to the Siamang Apes put on a rather operatic singing display and I got to feed a very well mannered Giraffe some carrot. She craned her huge head down to my level and then poked out her long blue tongue waiting for me to pop the carrot on the end, such good manners these Dubbo Giraffes.

Later, we got to feed a very ill mannered and cranky Lioness through the fence with a pair of barbeque tongs. Apart from the thrill of getting to see one of these huge cats incredibly close I thought it was going to rather tame. Until she put her ears back, curled her lips back, fixed me with her beady yellow eyes and let loose with a gut wrenching roar. I felt an instant connection across the centuries to my caveman ancestors who were probably faced with similar situations - oooooh scary!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Best brekky in Sydney?

My lovely friend Selina has come up with a beaut idea, a blog dedicated to one of my favourite activities, breakfasts in Sydney.

She has decided to set off and review some of her local cafes and see what kind of delicacies they offer up for brekky. She's based over in the East so Eddy and I might have to do some checking out of the inner west cafes in the name of balance.

I've added her brekky blog link to my list of others, check it out when you get a chance.