everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Just say yes

Yesterday, I went shopping for a new pair of shoes. Not just ordinary shoes, but a pair of soccer boots. For me. Because I AM GOING TO PLAY SOCCER. Yes, really. I’m excited and nervous and not sure what I am doing (literally, as I have never ever played soccer before). And those are pretty much the reasons that I said yes when my friend Janet asked me if I wanted to join her in a new team for mature (cough, cough) ladies.

footballThere’s a quote that I’ve seen somewhere that asks When was the last time you did something for the first time? Particularly after my Camino experience last year, it has really sunk in that the older we get, the less we try new things. Not necessarily because we’ve done them all already, but often because we feel like the time has passed to give something new a go. Maybe we just don’t see new opportunities, or we quickly say no (I couldn’t possibly do that!) because we’re scared, or it could just be the irresistible lure of that ol’ comfort zone. Boo.

My friend Jo started singing lessons in her late 30s because it was something she’d always wanted to try. It quickly became one of her favourite things. My folks learned how to use an ipad and iphone in their 70s. Aside from the occasional emergency calls for tech support (WHY HAS MY WORDS WITH FRIENDS GONE BLANK?), it’s opened up a whole new interesting world of technology for them. My sister-in-law started piano lessons in her 40s and can now play the theme song from Titanic (ok, so that’s possibly not a highlight). My virtual friend Jo (from This Sydney Life) finally satisfied a long-standing curiosity and took up crochet, attending a local class, with some hilarious results.

And so I went into 2014 with a focus on saying yes to more things – especially new things – or, at least, not immediately saying no. Which is where my new boots come in – they’re pinker than pink, with a fluoro green lining and I found it a little intimidating just prancing around the shop in them.

Uh huh.Uh huh.

I’m going to my first training session on Thursday night (it runs for two – count them, TWO – hours) and hopefully the people will be nice (and patient!) and my shoes will give me super powers and it will be fun. Whatever happens from here, just saying yes can be pretty exciting!

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We are Village people

Yesterday was a perfect summer evening in Sydney. After a hot day, a light breeze appeared from nowhere and the sky was that beautiful deep blue, without a cloud. (Apologies if you’re reading my summertime ramble and you’re battling through the northern hemisphere winter.) We had arranged to meet at the Sydney Festival Village for drinks – part of the amazing Festival that takes over our city in summer. The Village is in Hyde Park and it is such a fantastic place to visit. It is open in the daytime, but it really comes to life after 4.30pm.

Yep, everyone is welcome.

Yep, everyone is welcome.

The atmosphere was incredible and the people-watching (one of my favourite hobbies) was fantastic. Such a diverse mix – young and old, heavily tattooed and corporate suits (maybe hiding the tattoos), hipsters, glamours, alternative dressers, lots of kids – and smiles all round as we enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine. Mostly with one of the 73 flavours of cider on offer. (Ok, not 73 flavours exactly, but did you know that orange & ginger cider is a thing?)

Chillaxing with the early crowd (around 6pm).

Chillaxing with the early crowd (around 6pm).

Anyways, it was such a lovely experience – and we didn’t even go on the giant inflatable Stonehenge jumping castle (the lady said it’s the only inflatable Stonehenge in the world and I believe her), or try the bizarro sweet tricks that Messina Gelato have crafted for the Village, or see a show at the very cool theatre they have built. So, we’ll have to go back!

We didn't try this, but it's pretty unique: one person at a time steps into that cargo container sort of box and gets a 1:1 concert (well, song) from a musician!

We didn’t try this, but there were quite a few people in the line and I can see why – it’s a pretty unique concept: one person at a time goes into that cargo container sort of box and gets a 1:1 concert (well, song) from the musician sitting in there!

Nothing says 'festival' more than a hipster selling jaffles from a bright yellow kombi van. Love it!

Nothing says ‘festival’ more than a hipster selling jaffles from a bright yellow kombi van. Love it!

Not a great pic of the inflatable Stonehenge, but you get the idea...

Not a great pic of the inflatable Stonehenge, but you get the idea…

The City of Sydney set up a very cool library - giving away books. Lots of people sitting around reading too. Such a great idea!

The City of Sydney set up a very cool library – giving away books. Lots of people sitting around reading too. Such a great idea!

Aiyaiyai, Gelato Messina.

Aiyaiyai, Gelato Messina.

If you’re in Sydney and can check it out before 26 January, I strongly suggest that you make a visit to the Village! More details about the Sydney Festival can be found on their website here. At the risk of being sappy, festivals like this make me so proud of our town – lots of people getting involved, a lot of the activities were free, and the sun’s shining: we really are very lucky!

A village in the heart of the city. With beach balls. Life is good!

A village in the heart of the city. With beach balls. Life is good!

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Friday Foto – At the zoo

This week, with some Irish friends visiting for the rugby and a burst of some incredible springtime weather, we spent a lovely day at Taronga Zoo. Definitely one of my favourite spots in town and quite appropriate for the Lions fans.

Anyways, no pics of the animals today – but the tree trunk that I saw in the reptile exhibit. I was so taken with it, I almost didn’t notice the giant boa constrictor that I was meant to be checking out.

So here it is – the Taronga Zoo Tree Shark…

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Oh and some large toy animals in the Zoo shop wearing booties. Just because.

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Have a great weekend!

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A day at the Fair

On Wednesday, I went to the opening day of the Craft & Quilt Fair here in Sydney. I met up with my sister-in-law and her super-talented friend (who, in between running a family with four kids and baking, quilting, photographing, cooking, sewing also writes a blog: Bea Spoke Quilts). For the record, my sister-in-law is also super-talented, but doesn’t have a blog. In fact, she doesn’t even read this blog on a regular basis, but let’s not get in to that now…

CraftQuiltLogo

So, back to the Fair. A huge queue to get tickets, where the demographic meant that the ‘Seniors’ special was the best seller by about 50:1, I would estimate. It was very crowded and the Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour was packed with all kinds of crafty and quilty wares. There were the many different versions of the expected stalls: sewing, fabrics, quilting, cards, scrapbooking etc. And then there were the niche stalls: doll making, sock monkeys, teddy bear making and my favourite stall, selling kimono fabrics. Its name? KimoYES. Genius.

CraftFairCrowd

I stocked up on some cool card making things and was enjoying a tutorial on glitter butterflies (yes, really) when the stall holders uncovered a crime: the $77 hot glue gun had been stolen. Brazen as you like, some old biddy had walked in to the stall & swiped it – the boss man said he had seen her, but when his wife asked if he could identify her, he just shook his head and looked around helplessly at the scene: hundreds of almost identical white-haired ladies in grey cardis and sensible shoes. It was the perfect crime.

Other than that drama and the shock of incredible quilts made by 11 year olds, it’s well worth a visit if you’re looking for crafty inspiration this weekend. The website is here. Just hold on to your valuables (and your glue guns) – the world of craft & quilts is not for sissies.

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A day at the Zoo

I love the zoo. I especially love our zoo, Taronga, here in Sydney. I know that zoos aren’t universally popular or politically correct, but I know enough about Taronga to know that they’re making a huge effort to make the animals’ zoo lives as interesting, healthy and fun as possible – and same goes for the visitors. And behind the scenes, they raise a lot of cash for important conservation work and run many important breeding programs.

(As an aside, they also run the incredible Roar & Snore program, with an overnight stay at the Zoo – glamping all the way – and several amazing behind-the-scenes tours with keepers. I’ve been twice and can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re looking for a unique gift or Sydney experience.) Here’s a pic of the set up from the Roar & Snore site, in case you don’t believe me!

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

Anyways, it was a lovely sunny day in Sydney yesterday, so I took myself off for a trip to the Zoo. Along with a lot of other people in Sydney, it seemed. It’s not an old-school zoo, so it doesn’t feel like you’re visiting the animals in jail – although judging by the many fools who climbed into the kangaroos’ area, some sort of electric shock system for idiot visitors might be in order. (I did wait around for a bit to see if the larger kangaroos might take matters into their own hands and kick the people out – literally – but they were very patient and polite hosts.)

Here are some pics from my day at the Zoo – if you haven’t been, or if you haven’t been for a while, then I reckon it’s definitely worth a visit on a sunny day!

Such a poser - this Rhinoceros Iguana was really working it for the camera. Or the sun.

Such a poser – this Rhinoceros Iguana was really working it for the camera. Or the sun.

It's a bit blurry, but I like to think this Lawson's Bearded Dragon was trying to lead his mates in a daring escape attempt.

It’s a bit blurry, but I like to think this Lawson’s Bearded Dragon was trying to lead his mates in a daring escape attempt.

And this is the brilliantly named FIERCE SNAKE. The most venemous land snake in the world, apparently, so he definitely lives up to his name.

And this is the brilliantly named FIERCE SNAKE. The most venomous land snake in the world, apparently, so he definitely lives up to his name. And the venom in one bite can kill 200,000 mice, so they say. Hope that’s toughened glass right there. 

Here are two Red Bellied Black Snakes getting close. And they don't have a rainbow scale pattern, that's a reflection from the glass, sorry!

Here are two Red Bellied Black Snakes getting close. And they don’t have a rainbow scale pattern, that’s a reflection from the glass, sorry! As is the creepy giant hand in the top right corner. 

I like this photo because the Short Necked Turtle was coming right at me. Also because he sort of looks to be wearing a little girl's shoe.

I like this photo because the Short Necked Turtle was coming right at me. Also because he looks to be wearing a little girl’s shoe.

Now that's a meal with a view, lucky giraffe.

Now that’s a meal with a bzillion dollar harbour view, lucky giraffe.

Some days, I feel the same, Chimps.

Some days, I feel just the same, Chimps.

Where the Chimpanzee enclosure meets the Human enclosure.

Where the Chimpanzee enclosure meets the Human enclosure.

 

The old elephant enclosure - they've moved out, but it's still a beautiful building.

The old elephant enclosure – they’ve moved out, but it’s still a beautiful building.

 

A Zoo with a View.

A Zoo with a View.

Just some of the crowd at the Zoo.

Just some of the crowd at the Zoo.

If you’re interested, you can check out the Taronga Zoo website here and the Roar & Snore info is here.

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Foggy Sydney

Today is a super foggy day in Sydney. As in a crazy pea-soup, cancel-the-ferries, can’t-see-more-than-100m, where-has-the-city-gone kinda foggy day. Normally, the fog rolls away pretty early on (where to? I don’t know), but it’s only just starting to lighten up now and it’s after 10am as I write this. I went for a walk around to Mosman Bay this morning and it was actually a bit spooky, a little bit Jane Austen-ish with all the mist swirling around. Sharing photos of fog is kind of like talking about last night’s amazing dreams – it means a lot less to you if you weren’t actually there. So, I’ve limited my snaps from this morning…

Normally a great spot to sit and admire the city. Not today though.

Normally a great spot to sit and admire the city. Not today though.

Woooooooo (that's a scary ghost noise)...

Woooooooo (that’s a scary ghost noise)…

Ghostly boats in Mosman Bay...

Ghostly (and sometimes ghastly) boats in Mosman Bay…

A foggy bay on a foggy day.

A foggy bay on a foggy day.

Starting to clear as I walked home - can just see the Manly Ferry, back in action.

Starting to clear – can just see the Manly Ferry, back in action.

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View from the Bridge

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day in Sydney and I was meeting my great friend ELW and one of her (very lovely) sons in Darlinghurst, one of Sydney’s inner city suburbs where the cool crowd crosses paths with the homeless crowd & ladies-of-the-night crowd. We were having breakfast so, in true Camino training style, I thought I would walk from my home on the north side to make the most of the beautiful day. And get in an 8.5km walk before breakfast.

Here are some pics from my walk across the Harbour Bridge. The view is pretty spectacular and I committed to walking that way more often to check out our pretty city. If you’ve not done it before (or not for a while), I really recommend that you do.

Our House

Our House

Our House, as seen through the Harbour Bridge fencing

Our House, as seen through the Harbour Bridge fencing

Looking up

Looking up

It looks like a cage, but I promise it doesn't really feel like it

It looks like a cage, but I promise it doesn’t really feel like it

Looking out to the Heads

Looking out to the Heads

And there's (part of) the city

And there’s (part of) the city

It reminds me of the Dr Seuss book…DID I EVER TELL YOU HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?

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Thankful Thursday – love ya, Sydney

Last night I went to the opera with my mum (Falstaff; very good) and we spent some of the twilight hours of a perfect Sydney evening sitting in front of the Opera House watching the world go by. If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend that you do. It made me think of that Dr Seuss book DID I EVER TELL YOU HOW LUCKY YOU ARE? Yesterday, we told ourselves again and again.

That sky isn't fake. Neither are those birds or the people. Or those giant shells.

That sky isn’t fake. Neither are those birds or the people. Or those giant shells. Sorry ’bout the glare.

The ship was getting ready to leave as it blocked the setting sun. What a way to start a cruising holiday!

The ship was getting ready to leave as it blocked the setting sun. What a start to a cruising holiday!

It's still a very weird looking building, but I love it.

It is a very weird looking building, but I love it.

Ahhh...

Functional (mostly) and pretty to look at…

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Stormy Sydney

So, Sydney was hit with a whopper of a storm on Saturday. It rained pretty much all day, usually heavily, and was super windy. I’m no weather guru, but on the scale of bring-an-umbrella to just-stay-home, I would officially classify this storm as start-building-that-ark. As the rain pelted down through the night, the wind was howling and things were banging and crashing and flying around outside. Not exactly Wizard of Oz-style, but it was definitely pretty wild in my neck of the woods.

The beginning...

The beginning…

I’m lucky to live in a very tree-y part of Sydney and I’m used to seeing some leaves and small branches on the grass after a windy night. When I looked out the window this morning and saw a fairly large branch on the ground outside, it seemed like a pretty big deal. And then as I went on my morning walk, a friendly lady (a) made eye contact, (b) smiled and (c) spoke. Imagine that! Anyways, she said “look out, there are huge trees down along the path – it’s pretty incredible”. I thanked her and smiled – thinking that she looked like the kind of fancy lady who would be bothered by stepping over a twig and getting her Prada sneakers dirty. Huge trees, I thought, uh huh.

Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.

Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.

And then I got to the corner of the path and it was like a war zone. Except, instead of people, tanks and guns, there were huge trees (yep, that lady was right) split away from their trunks and fallen over the path. Lying heavily over the power lines, which were then sagging way too close to the ground. It was both incredible and a little sad to see these poor, grand old trees who had lost their battle with the ferocious winds. And then there was the water – the little creek, normally dry, was gushing and water was tumbling over rocks.

So, yeah, after this morning, I guess you could say I’m a jungle trekker.

Yikes

It’s hard to get the scale in my phone photos, but that lady in red just past the tree was not a tiny pixie.

 

Yes, that makes things a bit trickier...

Yes, well, that makes this walk a bit trickier…

Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way...

Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way…

And lean to the right...

Today was a good day to be short.

Ok, fine, I'll go around then.

Ok, fine, I’ll go around then.

So that's how it's meant to look here...

Aha, so that’s how it’s meant to look here…

And this is normally dry. So I think it's safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.

And this is normally dry. So I think it’s safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.

Just like match sticks.

Just snapped like a twig.

This was not damaged in the storm. It's been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I'm not sure if they're still waiting to fix it, or if it's a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, or something incomprehensible like that...

This was not damaged in the storm. It’s been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I’m not sure if they’re still waiting to fix it, or if it’s a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, man’s inhumanity to man, or something incomprehensible like that…

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The amazing Color Run

What a fantastic day we had – arriving at Sydney Olympic Park with tens of thousands of peeps of all ages, shapes and sizes, while most of Sydney was still in bed on a lazy Sunday. Passers-by must have thought there was some sort of cult gathering, as everyone was dressed in white – some with crazy wigs, angel wings or colourful socks and shoes to help them stand out from the crowd. Thanks to the awesome eagle-eyes of the youngest Steph in our gang, we somehow managed to meet up with everyone at the starting area. And then we waited. Standing in the sun, already roasting hot before 9am, as they released runners in waves from the crowd of thousands that were in the queue.

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

Lots of wings and tutus around.

Lots of wings and tutus around.

The music was pumping and there were beachballs, dancing, Mexican waves and people-watching to keep us all entertained as we waited for our turn.  The place was buzzing, I tell you – such an amazing experience to be a part of something like that, everyone was smiling and laughing and enjoying the fun atmosphere: DEFINITELY the ‘happiest 5k on the planet’, as the organisers had promised.

Nearly at the starting line...

Nearly at the starting line…

My friend Anne and I were caught out by a nice sort of chap who seemed to be spraying water at people in the crowd – we were so hot and thirsty after standing around waiting to start, so we went right up to him to be refreshed…and then realised that the tank on his back was actually full of purple coloured water, which was now all across our faces and shirts. Ah well, off to a colourful start!

The Smurf Village was the first colour checkpoint.

The Smurf Village was the first colour checkpoint. You can see the Blue volunteer holding the bottles that they used to blast powder at you as you passed through the checkpoint.

It’s hard to explain what happened from then on – each km was marked by a colour and at the colour ‘checkpoint’, it was bedlam as volunteers sprayed liquid colour or blasted coloured powder at you as you passed through. Gone were the pristine white t-shirts and the clean faces as people emerged looking as though they’d been dunked in colour.

The Orange checkpoint was called Oompa Loompa land and they were probably the craziest volunteers, determined to turn everyone orange. Mission accomplished!

The Orange checkpoint was called Oompa Loompa land and they were probably the craziest volunteers, determined to turn everyone orange. Mission accomplished!

Some oompa loompas after the orange checkpoint.

Some oompa loompas after the orange checkpoint.

And with all that was going on, the 5k passed pretty quickly and soon we were running Chariots-of-Fire-style to the finish line. And it was then that my lovely friend Steph decided to open her packet of coloured powder (meant to be saved for the ‘finish line festival’ when all recent finishers throw them in the air together, I might add). She opened it and threw it…IN MY FACE. So my left cheek, ear and down my neck was a very dark (and very pretty, to be fair) magenta colour. An interesting beauty note for you, peeps – painting your skin a really dark magenta colour really makes your white teeth ‘pop’ and looks like you’ve had a Hollywood-style dental whitening session. But be warned that you may scare young children and yourself, when you finally get to a mirror.

After the attack.

After the attack.

Finish line.

The End.

Not a white t-shirt in sight...

Not a white t-shirt in sight…

Yep.

Yep.

Color Jump-ers.

Color Jump-ers.

Not even crutches and a heavy cast would stop this lady being part of it!

Not even crutches and a heavy cast would stop this lady being part of it!

Cheers to ice blocks and slushies at the end of the run.

Cheers to ice blocks and slushies at the end of the run.

We all had such a great time at the Color Run – I highly recommend signing up when it’s next in your town!

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