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Sunday
Oct222017

Country folk, country cooking

I spent a great week hiking in the country.  I loved it.  Fresh air, quiet, picturesque scenery.  It was a lovely escape from the madness of life.

One of the things that made my break so lovely was the people (and the food).  There’s something refreshing about people who live in the country.  Good salt of the earth people who tell it like it is, with no fuss and no stress. 

On our first night away, we decided to check out the local Indian restaurant, which I’d heard had amazing food.  I booked online and we wandered down the street to discover that the place was packed.  This must be a good one I thought.  As I gave my name the lovely woman checked her book of hand written reservations, not finding ours.  “Never mind, come this way”, she said and we followed her to a table in the middle of the busy restaurant.  The walls were decked in plastic vines and shrubbery while old school paintings of Indian women hung loosely. Kitsch Indian on a very tight budget. No one seemed to care.  Two hours later we were stuffed full of delicious fish curry, paneer, samosas, rice and 397 pieces of naan bread, good enough to rival anything I’d eaten in India. 

Dinner on night two involved the local pub across the road from our Air B’nB.  Knowing we had an early start the next day, we headed over at 6.10pm only to be told that they were fully booked …. But would we like to come back at 8pm?  We politely declined and tried the only other two restaurants in town – one was shut – the other packed.  Sure, 8pm would be fine, I told the waitress on the phone ten minutes later.  When we finally ate there, the staff were friendly and chatty, telling us about the joys of the school holidays and how busy it was in town this week. Yes, we noticed.  Nat ate a parma the size of her head and I overdosed on brilliant fish and vegetables.  Nothing like country pub food or people. 

Mid week we took a break from hiking (my legs and glutes were very thankful) and drove to a renowned restaurant 90 minutes away.  With the outstanding reviews and ratings this uber cool place gets, I expected a team of pompous wait staff, but found the opposite.  Relaxed and friendly people met our every need, bringing us one adventurous dish after another … including cauliflower gratin and purple carrots in whey. So good.  The cute waiter was charming and attentive … and deserved the largish tip we left him.  (I wanted to leave my phone number too but apparently that’s not cool in nice restaurants …) 

Our final night saw us experience classic country moments.  In an effort to avoid the busy school holidays I rang ahead the night prior to make a booking at a supposedly upper end restaurant.  A teenage girl took my details and said she looked forward to seeing us the next night.  

As we were greeted by a teenage girl on arrival (assuming it was the same one), we smiled as she told us there was no booking for us. Here we go again. Never mind, come this way, she chirped.

We scanned the wine list and decided on our traditional bottle of pinot noir.  The waitress arrived at our table, notepad in hand.  “Would youse like to order some drinks?” she asked sweetly.  Bless.

She drew our attention to the specials board, highlighting their new dish of chicken, Philly cream and avocardo. Chalk can be tricky to use when it comes to spelling I guess.  I’ve always wondered why there was no R in that word.  So much easier to pronounce.

Nat then pointed out that there were three other chicken dishes on the menu … chicken, Philly cream and asparagus, chicken, Philly cream and sundried tomatoes and chicken, Philly cream and mushrooms.  I can sense a theme here.  Either that or the chef has shares in Kraft’s Philadelphia Cream cheese.

Our meals were fine – nothing ground breaking – but it was lovely that the waitress checked in on us halfway through asking, “How is your tea?  Is everything okay?”  Yes, bless, yes. 

Next stop, as we’d hiked 18kms that day and deserved a treat, was dessert.  I’d spied old school Brandy Snaps on the menu and was a little excited.  I don’t love them that much, I just wanted to take a photo and share on Instagram as the last time I ate these sticky, sweet creatiions (1988), social media wasn’t invented. 

How disappointing to find out they were ‘out of brandy snaps” and that I had to settle for some sort of apple pie.  It tasted great, but certainly wasn’t Insta-worthy.  Damn. 

We paid our bill and thanked our teen waitresses as we headed out into the cold, dark night back to our house.  “Hope we see youse again”, she said.  Ah bless, yes, I’m sure you will.  Just make sure you have brandy snaps on the menu, please.

Saturday
Oct142017

Event prep pain

I love being a woman. Until I have to go to a big event and then I often wish I was a man.

I’m writing this as I sit in a flowing dress with thin straps, bra-less, make up-less with my hair in a pony tail.  It’s chilly but I have bare feet.  I’ve just had a spray tan and for the next two hours, I can’t really do much because if I do, God forbid, it might run or get splotchy.  All I can do is sit and wait.  And wait.  

No exercise because sweat is bad for a tan.

No leaving the house because I have no make up – or bra – on.

No napping because it will rub off on my sheets or the couch.

Nothing.  Just writing this blog. 

I’ve already had to make the mad dash from the beautician to my car in this state, praying that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew.  Thankfully I made it – and now I’m hoping my flatmate doesn’t come home early either or I’ll be imprisoned in my room for the next few hours.

Two days ago I was lucky enough to endure a waxing session to remove hair in places it shouldn’t be if you’re going to frock up.  Waxing and hair removal rituals tend to wane a little for me over Winter so it was a lovely shock to remember how much fun it is to have hot wax poured on your bits then ripped off so fast (hair going with it), it takes your breath away.

Yesterday’s prep involved a manicure with scraping, filing, prodding, buffering, baking and a lot of awkward nodding and small talk to get my hands and nails looking less like a tradie, and more like a lady.

Did I mention that all of this preparation also costs a lot?  Not only is the personal grooming a great way to take a chunk out of your bank account or credit card, but there’s often a new outfit, shoes … maybe a bag and jewellery if you want to go all out.  The sum of this is a small fortune or a personal loan.  Men?  They just have to buy a new tie and off they go looking hot in their suit.

Given I’m a pretty low fuss girl, I have considered not going to all the effort and shell out the money for all of these things.  I’m not a celebrity.  No one is really going to be paying attention to me. I hate the red carpet.  Unfortunately I know that when I get to an event and see everyone else looking glamorous (and usually much younger than me), that I need a little extra confidence to feel good about myself.

That’s until the champagne kicks in of course, and then I feel great, taking as many photos of friends on that red carpet as I can.  (Until we get a really good one that’s social media worthy).

Okay, the two hours is up so I’m jumping in the shower.  It seems a little weird to see the brown water gurgle down the drain after you’ve only just had it applied, but if I don’t, well, have you ever seen an over tanned ginger?  Exactly.

After that it’s hair and make up time where I brief the make up artist to make me look ‘less tired’ and with smoky eyes (their favourite phrase).  I’ll put my new dress on (a purchase from last weekend after three hours of trying on things and ending up with a little black dress) … and off I go to have a bit of fun.

I can’t wait to see all the gorgeous men in their new ties.   Lucky buggers.

Monday
Sep252017

Mums and Dads gone wild

I love watching people at concerts and events having a good time.  I wonder where they’re from, what their life is like and imagine that the event is a real chance for them to escape their day to day hum drum.   I especially love watching older people let loose.

Unless they’re at a Tina Arena concert and being annoying.   That shits me.

I love Tina Arena.  She’s one of those women who has had a great career, fought back the haters and found herself.  I love people like that.  Ones who stare in the face of haters and say “Jam it” … or something a little harsher. 

I was excited to be seeing her sing her hits at the Plenary – a small intimate venue.  A great night out with work friends after a big week at work. Except a whole lot of Mums and Dads tried to ruin my good night out.

It started when we sat down.  A nice buzz in the room.  People looking forward to seeing Tina and hearing her music.  We waited.  The room filled up.  The lights went down.  The show started.

A guy to our left yelled, “Hurry up Tina, you’re seven minutes late”.  What a bogan.  A few people giggled.   An artistic looking man in a hat in front of me retaliated loudly, “Don’t worry Tina, you come out when you want”.  Oh God, we’re going to have a Tina Turf War.

After a video montage of her career highlights Tina hit the stage belting out “McArthur Park”.  Wow.  Amazing. Spine tingling. Stunning. We clapped feverishly.  

“I love you Tiiiiiinnnnnnnnaaaa!” yelled a woman from the front of the room.

Tina smiled and said thank you.  As all good, professional, I’ve got my shit together performers do.   She then went on to tell a story about the next song.

“Tiiiinnnaaa!  We love youuuuuu!”, yelled a guy from the back.

A guy from who knows where started wolf whistling.  Mate, we’re not at the strippers.  

How long is this shit going to go on for?  Let Tina tell her story and sing a song.

Over and over,  this went on between every track.   People from all over the venue yelling about their love and adoration for Tina.  I love her too.  I just don’t need to scream my lungs out about it.

The crowd finally settled and the lights dimmed.  Tina started to sing Heaven Help My Heart, a personal favourite.  It wasn’t the usual upbeat poppy version I was used to, but a more mellow style.  I loved it anyway.  I sang along gently - not too loud to freak out the people around me – that’s called concert etiquette.

The woman in front of me fidgeted.  She pulled her phone out of her bag, unlocked it and started texting.  Then she put it back in her bag and stared at the stage.  One minute later, her phone was on her lap again while she responded to more messages.  This went on and on for three songs.  I tried hard to ignore her, however the light of her phone was so bright, she could have used it for a spotlight on the stage.

Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore and leaned over, tapping her on the shoulder.  “Excuse me, but your phone is really bright. Can you please turn it down?”  She looked embarrassed and quickly put her phone away.  The people in our row smiled appreciatively.

For the rest of the set, I watched her tapping her knee, desperate to check her messages.  Be in the moment lady, I thought. 

Tina continued to sing her hits, chatting to the crowd in between each track.  Unfortunately a bunch of fans who don’t know the difference between a footy match and a concert, continued to yell out their love for Tina during brief moments of silence.  

Before she left the stage, Tina thanked everyone for sharing such a special experience with her and for not being stuck on their phones “texting their boyfriends at home” like teenagers.  The woman in front looked at me sheepishly so I gave her my best PR smile.   Even Mums and Dads get FOMO too it seems.  Also, good on her for having a boyfriend who sends her teddy bears and love heart emojis.  There might just be hope for me yet.     

Wednesday
Sep132017

We're done

 

I’m a pretty patient person.  I’ve been called flexible, strong and resilient.  Right now, I feel none of those characteristics. I’m at the end of my tether.  I am done.

For the past few months, I’ve tried hard to stay positive but I really can’t fake it anymore.

I’m over Winter.  So over it.

As a girl that usually loves the coldest months of the year, I feel sad to have turned on my old friend.  Unfortunately this old friend has stayed too long.  Way too long.  I need it to go.   Now.

My favourite season is usually a time of joy for me.  The opportunity to wear layers of warm clothing, wrap myself in coloured wool scarves and pull on thick stockings and boots.  Every day.

Waxing and shaving and pedicures aren’t as important.   At least not if you’re single.  (If we’re dating and you’re reading this, I’m talking about a friend.)

You can rug up in a giant coat, head out and catch up with friends, either sitting outside under giant heaters or in a cosy bar that has exceptional heating.  There’s spicy curry and piping hot pho … hot chocolate and red wine …  giant bowls of pasta or steaming sticky date pudding.  Warm food fills your belly and because you’re wrapped in layers of baggy clothes you don’t notice a few extra kilos from constant carb overloading and comfort eating.

Everyone looks good in puffer jackets.

When it rains you count your blessings for an office job.  Your trusty umbrella becomes a constant companion.  On the weekend, it’s a great excuse to stay in, drink coffee and binge on Netflix.  Uber Eats means you never have to leave the warm cocoon of your house.  Winter can do its thing outside as you watch it in awe through rain soaked windows.  

Beanies and gloves give you more reasons to accessorise, even if it does take you a few extra minutes to take everything off when you arrive at your chosen destination … then another ten minutes at the end to put it all back on again.  In Winter you don’t care.  It’s a ritual we all enjoy for three months.

Except this Winter hasn’t just rolled in and out in three months.  It feels like it started in March (supposedly Autumn) and is still here now …. allegedly Spring.  We’ve endured seven long months of Wintery weather – and as much as I’ve just highlighted all the great things about that time, I’m very much done.

It’s almost become a joke. The one thing every conversation is started with.  “God, how cold is it?  I’m SO over Winter.”   We nod in agreement.

Except for those lucky enough to escape for a few weeks to a warmer climate overseas.  Europe.  Bali.  Fiji.  Anywhere that has sunshine and blue skies.   The rest of us scroll through their endless post of Instagram photos, jealously wondering why we weren’t smart enough to book a holiday and get an instant injection of Vitamin D.   We sneer at classic hotdog legs on a beach photos as we turn the heater up a notch.  Done.  We’re all done.

No more grey skies.  No more temperatures in the teens that ‘feel like’ single digit figures.  No more storms or showers or rain.  No more of that bitter wind that cuts you in half with icy sharpness. 

I love you Winter, I really do, but you’re making us all depressed.  It’s too cold and wet to exercise outside.  I need fresh air and nature to be a better human being.  Sunshine makes me happier.  I want to eat salads and drink more water, but come on.  Would you be shoving lettuce in your mouth on a 9 degree day?  I don’t think so.  

So how about this?  You go and visit our cousins on the other side of the world, and once they’re done with you, say in nine months, you can come back and we’ll hang out again.  Deal?

Sunday
Sep032017

Happy Snaps

It’s been an interesting week.  Lots of fun events, a stack of meetings and a few things that went wrong.  Work is busy as always, the weather is cold and wet, there’s a weird energy in the air.

Thursday started off with early morning meetings (my idea of Hell as a Night Owl) including a WIP with my boss, the best dressed man in our office.  It was a good chat, as usual, and we nailed a few things that I needed sign off for.  I left  his office feeling a sense of achievement.

I made a coffee and as I was walking back through our open plan space, I noticed six text messages on my phone.  Six messages is a lot.  That tends to mean a family emergency or something has gone to shit.  I hit the tiny envelope button to find one was from Speccy Beccy, currently traveling through the bush with her parents.  Can’t wait to hear how that’s been going.  I miss her.

The other five were from The Train Driver, a guy I went on three dates with at the start of the year.  I quite liked him.  We talked a lot, drank some wine, texted back and forth in between.  Then we had dinner and he ranted about not wanting a woman to change him and how wife was too dominating.   After I paid for our curry and pad thai (my turn) I kissed him goodbye and never saw him again.  We both agreed that something had changed and the spark wasn’t there.  And now here he was.   I wondered what he wanted now.  

I clicked on the bundle of messages, expecting to see a funny note about trains or my VIP life – a private joke.  But no.  There was nothing funny in his message. 

I saw a giant penis with a man’s hand wrapped around it.

And then a second photo, but from a different angle.

Both shots up close.  Both torso only, no face.  Both graphic and real.

Hey Tan, can I ask you a question?” yelled one of my staff as I walked past her desk, jolting me from my shocked senses.

Ohmygod, I’ve got two dick pics on my phone in clear view of everyone.  WTF.  I tried to hit the close button but the shots would not disappear.  I could feel someone walking up behind me.  I turned my phone over and tried to look casual.

I answered her question and she walked off.   I should say I think I responded properly, because all I could feel was a red glow on my face and the vision of someone’s hard penis.  Burnt into my memory. I wandered into the safe refuge of my office to try and work out what was going on.

I read the messages again. Slowly.  Trying to make sense of it all.  

Hey babe, do you still have today off?           Smiley face.

I’m up if you want to hang out.                     Winky smiley face.

((Shot of man’s shaft with hand wrapped around it.))

((Second shot of same penis (I’m assuming) with hand wrapped around it.))

WTF

SO SO SORRY.                                             Embarrassed smiley face.

Please delete!!!

Was that even him?  Had someone hacked his phone?  What was going on?

I turned my phone off and stood, shocked at my desk. 

It’s only 9.30am.  I haven’t even had my first coffee yet.   Who the f*ck sends a dick pic at this time of the morning?

At first I was grossed out.  Did not need to see that at this time of the day.  Or any time of the day.

Then I got angry.  Why do guys think that sending a girl a shot of his throbbing manhood is going to get her in the mood?   Like I’m going to stop eating my Vegemite on toast and jump in the car to come see you and your hard on.  If you can wait that long, as we all know how bad peak hour traffic is.

After that, I was disappointed.  I really didn’t think the Train Driver was like that.  I thought he was a nice, normal guy.  Hmmmm. 

Then I felt violated.  To receive a graphic photo like that – unexpected – unsolicited – it turned my stomach.   It was imprinted on my brain.   I felt dirty and tainted.   It was not okay.

I texted back.  Please remove my number from your phone if that’s how you communicate with your current partner so I am never subjected to that ever again.  Ever. 

He still hasn’t replied.  I’ll never find out how or why I got a photo of his morning glory.  Part of me hopes he accidentally sent it to his whole phone book.  

Imagine how bad his day would be after that.