Stuff I see, which you might not.

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year to you, my blog buddy. I hope that you and yours have a fantastic year ahead, full of lots of everyday sparks! Now, back to me. I would like to state for the record that I have gone for a run every day this year. And done my physio-prescribed stretches every day this year. And blogged every day this year. And drunk lots of water every day this year. It’s a great feeling – now, to keep it up for the rest of 2013…

It was a swell party, Sydney.

It was a swell party, Sydney.

I am very lucky to live near a public park with a pretty good view of the fireworks, so it was very crowded yesterday on what was a beautifully sunny New Year’s Eve day in Sydney and a night that was perfect for fireworks. It’s always a great people-watching opportunity as the human traffic gathers on the grass – old people, young people; skinny people, fat people; people dressed in very little, people dressed strangely for arctic conditions; party poppers, party poopers; sober people, drunk people; super-organised-tent-and-catered-food people, super-chillaxed-chips-and-beach-towel people.

Portaloos and bins, the foundation of any good public party.

Portaloos and bins, the foundation of any good public party.

A guy was selling glow sticks, it was meant to be an alcohol-free zone and there were lots of families around – an excited buzz grew in the leadup to the 9pm family fireworks and then most of the people seemed to stick around for the midnight show. With the exception of a pretty scary incident with a group of swearing, drunk teenagers outside at 3.30am, which had me and the poor guy next door calling the police as a lunatic jumped the fence and started smashing things, it was a really nice night and a great way to see in the new year. Except for the lunatic bit, I guess. But I did get to watch that from the safety of my kitchen in my pyjamas, so it wasn’t too bad.

Yes, a whole bus for police. The kids round 'ere had glow sticks and were prepared to use them.

Yes, a whole bus for police. The kids round ‘ere had glow sticks and were prepared to use them.

When I went for my run this morning, it felt like the city had a hangover. There were hardly any people out and about at 7am, but those that were on the running track were full of smiles – probably feeling smug that they too have run every day this year and have kept all of their 2013 resolutions. The park area was a different story – it looked like a cyclone had torn through a rubbish dump. Along with the usual types of rubbish, there were full champagne glasses, shoes, clothes, metal chairs, tents and of course party hats, poppers and horns that had seen a better day back in 2012.


People sleeping amongst the rubbish. Ah, this is the life.

And a good time was had by all.

And a good time was had by all.

So, here are some pics from my morning to mark the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 – thanks to those who will come this morning and make this area beautiful again, thanks to those who visited and enjoyed NYE in Sydney, thanks to the brilliant Foti Fireworks people who keep coming up with innovations that can make gunpowder magic. Happy new year – may 2013 bring lots of fun, laughter and good times with your families and friends.

The sparks are there, if we look for them...

NewYear’sDay Sparks.

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Cakes. And Snakes.

My 2010 birthday cake – a giant cupcake

I come from a long line of cake lovers. And my mum was an amazing cake maker – every year, I used to get to choose a most incredible cake, which my mum would whip up the night before my birthday. I would go to bed hearing the sound of the mixer and in the morning, I would sneak into the dining room where the masterpiece would be sitting on the table. Under a barrier to keep it from me (and my brothers), of course.

I remember a large blackboard cake; a swimming pool cake complete with biscuit fence and green jelly as water; a clown; a bunny rabbit; a clock…oh, those were the days. I thought my mum was a magician – the way she could produce a cake that looked exactly like the one I’d seen in the book, overnight, just like that. I wasn’t to know how many hours she’d spent getting everything just right, or how long it took her to source and prepare the ingredients – to me, it was just an annual miracle that proved my mum was a genius. Which of course she was, and still is – even if she doesn’t make me elaborate cakes anymore. (That is probably for the best, as my metabolism seems to have slowed since the fancy-cake-days and that old formula of exercise required to burn off cake calories consumed seems to have tipped out of my favour.)

Last year, for my niece’s birthday, my sister-in-law went with a farmyard theme. We made these cupcakes – I was in charge of the chickens and the sheeps. A lot of marshmallows were needed in order to make a sheep face that didn’t look like he was going to attack the other animals (or the kids at the party). We were pretty pleased with our efforts.

Anyways, all this cake reminiscing was brought about by a link that my friend Ashley sent me the other day. According to an article in the Huffington Post, a lady in the UK had created an amazingly realistic cake for her daughter’s birthday that looks exactly like a Burmese python. Now, before I show you the photos, I should point out that Francesca (the python baker) works as a professional cake baker. My mum was a pharmacist and my sister and I have office jobs. Just so we can keep things in perspective, once I reveal the Burmese python birthday cake…

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

And, voila. I’m not sure that I would have ever even thought to request a Burmese python cake. Kids these days. I’m not sure what inspired Francesca’s daughter to ask for it, but it has brought her mum fame across the internet. And presumably scared the life out of many of the party guests.

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

The detail is just incredible, as is the colouring. Francesca is clearly an amazingly talented lady – I hope her daughter appreciates this cake as much as I appreciated my swimming pool cake. At this point, I should add some detail about my cake – my mum had even put little plastic people kicking back in Life Saver lollies in the pool. And green coloured coconut around the outside, as grass. I’m just sayin’.

From the North Star Cakes Facebook page

And finally, in what is probably not a faithful representation of the Burmese python, an inside full of delicious cake, jam and cream. Now, if there was a touch of red food colouring or jam that squirted out when the first cut was made, this cake would have been perfect. Almost as good as my mum’s swimming pool cake, I reckon.

You can read the Huffington Post article about Francesca’s cake here and the North Star Cakes Facebook page is here. Neither my sister-in-law nor my mum have a cake business Facebook page or a website, but I will check for some photos of my mum’s early work when I’m next at home and maybe Jane’s cakes will finally get the global recognition that she deserves!


Party people (on a bus)

I’m not sure about posting this as I don’t want you to think less of me. But I found this in a very innocent way, I assure you. I was looking for a design collection called Funbus and that brought me to the FunBus service offered in Sydney and Melbourne and that brought me to Butlers in the Buff – the male order company. And there I stopped.

Now, back to the Sydney and Melbourne FunBus(es). Apparently, the owners have converted Mercedes vans into an alternate universe, which can seat up to 14 people and accommodate people standing. And poledancing, if you choose to have the removable dance pole mounted in the centre of the disco floor.¬†Some other inclusions that I just can’t fathom are: silver top bars with built in eskies and laser and LED lighting plus a smoke machine. Seriously? Laser and LED lighting and a smoke machine in the back of a van? Somebody call Shaggy and Scooby, THIS is a van.

In the ‘packages’ page on the FunBus site is the link to Butlers in the Buff. Yes, really. Apparently, whether you are looking for naked butlers to greet your guests or a discreet cocktail waiter to gently enhance the ambience of your event, a group of hunky waiters to raise the roof, or a topless butler to spice up your birthday, we have the perfect solution for any occasion. Well, any occasion except, I’m guessing, wakes after funerals or bah mitzvahs. The website provides further information on the company and its Australian franchises (yes, the Butlers are global) under the heading “The brains behind the bums”. Then there is a photo of a naked man checking on something wrapped in foil in a BBQ (fear not, he is wearing a short apron around his waist, so that should resolve any health & safety concerns).

All of the material on the website (photos and copy) is protected, so I can’t share it with you here, but you should have a look if you have any further questions. (NB, don’t be fooled – the butler in this photo is clearly not a Butler in the Buff.) Perhaps the section entitled “Using your butler” will assist with some ideas, or “Butler Outfits”, which explains the “trademark outfit” and suggests boxer shorts or trousers (for the Butlers, that is) if you’re after a more modest catering experience. Or perhaps you’re looking for some casual work – in which case, a career as a Butler or Butlerette might be just the thing.

You can check out the FunBus here and Butlers in the Buff here. Or perhaps this glimpse has already been more than enough for you!