everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

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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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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I love Melbourne

This isn’t a Valentine’s Day post, but I want to declare my love for the city of Melbourne. It’s so easy to navigate and full of interesting people and it’s just so COOL. (Even when it’s just so HOT, like yesterday – which stayed in the high 30s through to the night time and made walking around town a bit of a challenge.) In Sydney, a lane way between buildings in the CBD is generally just a lane way, for rubbish or truck deliveries or drunk men to wee in. In Melbourne, a lane way between buildings in the CBD could be a funky bar, a series of restaurants, a gallery for street art, a shopping haven or a market. For the record, it can also be for rubbish or drunk men to wee in – I want to add that to be fair to my Sydney. But for the most part, this city just seems to get it right. Here are some pics from my wanderings.

A shopping centre display of giant beach balls called Amazeballs. Yes, really.

A shopping centre display of giant beach balls called Amazeballs. Yes, really.

Like the ancient ruins in Rome, you'll just be walking along and oh, HELLO AMAZING STREET ART.

Like the ancient ruins in Rome, you’ll just be walking along and oh, HELLO AMAZING STREET ART.

Down the lane way - a gallery of street art.

Down the lane way – a gallery of street art. And a whole lot of dodgy graffiti too.

A funky bar tucked into a tiny lane way.

A funky bar tucked into a tiny lane way.

Lane way restaurants and cafes.

Lane way restaurants and cafes.

The Blender Lane Artists' Market, where I met an amazing lady selling incredible photos mounted on reclaimed wood to raise money for orphanages and schools they're building in Africa. This lady volunteers a lot of her time in addition to her day job as a domestic violence social worker. Just amazing.

The Blender Lane Artists’ Market, where I met an amazing lady selling incredible photos mounted on reclaimed wood to raise money for orphanages and schools they’re building in Africa. This lady volunteers a lot of her time in addition to her day job as a domestic violence social worker. Just awesome. Other than that, I was the only non-tattooed dork in that crowded Lane, I tell you. 

And sometimes, a lane way is just a normal trashy lane way. Even in Melbourne.

And sometimes, a lane way is just a normal trashy lane way. Even in Melbourne.

This franchised fast food operation has to have one of the best names on the planet.

This Melbourne institution, a franchised fast food operation (errr derrr) has to have one of the best names on the planet. 

The beginning of the Queen Victoria Markets night time session with market stalls, heaps of bands, lots of food and drinks, and a bzillion people enjoying the summer sun.

The beginning of the Queen Victoria Markets night time session with market stalls, heaps of bands, lots of food and drinks, and a bzillion people enjoying the summer sun. Such a great atmosphere, though the market stalls weren’t that interesting.

And on a really hot night after a really hot day, nothing beats an old school handmade lemonade slushie. In a bio cup, because that's so Melbourne. Love it.

And on a really hot night after a really hot day, nothing beats an old school handmade fresh lemonade slushie. In a bio cup, because that’s so Melbourne. Love it.

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Pictures of the week

A lazy post on a sunny Friday – here are three pics of things that made me confused / creeped out / happy this week…

Firstly, the promo posters for the musical Legally Blonde at The Star casino here in Sydney. (For the record, I visited the casino with my friend B, not to gamble but to eat macarons and gelato.) I am really not sure of the tag line: Makes you feel how you want to feel! Huh? I’m not sure if that’s a line that I’ve forgotten from the movie, or if it’s being issued like an order from the kinda cranky looking, arms-folded Cameron Daddo. How does he know how I want to feel, anyway? And who is Erika Heynatz’ underdressed character? So many questions left unanswered, but not enough to entice me to buy a ticket.

Say what?

Say what?

Then to the kinda creepy swing set that appears to be watching me from its monkey bar glasses. They look to belong to some disapproving lady (or an owl) and they make me sit up straighter, speak more politely and watch my Ps and Qs, that’s for sure.

Here's looking at you...

Here’s looking at you…

And on to one of my favourite desserts. It’s a Jell-O product from the USA – the pale green powder magically produces bright green pistachio pudding, complete with pieces of pistachio nuts that I swear weren’t there in the packet of powder. It’s like a miracle. Oh, and the protein in the nuts automatically makes it a healthy dessert option. And there’s calcium in the cream that goes on top. So, it’s basically as good as fruit salad, I think.

Fruit salad. Ish.

Fruit salad. Ish.

Have a great weekend!

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Sydney. So hot right now.

Today is a very hot day in Sydney. Really hot. When I was going into the city this morning, it was 27 degrees at 9am. It’s the kind of weather that makes me say yikes – and I don’t say yikes very often, let me tell you. They’re predicting that it’ll be the third hottest Sydney day ever recorded – the hottest back in 1939, then New Year’s Day in 2006, then today. 43 degrees or something crazy like that.

I don’t think the pretty weather people on commercial channels are true scientists though, so I was happy to hear a prediction from my dentist when I visited his torture chamber this morning. Apparently, his wife told him that it won’t be getting really hot ’til around 6pm today. But now I am a little more worried, because when I went outside after lunch, the incredibly hot wind nearly burnt my face and knocked me over. So if the dentist’s wife is right (and of course I presume that she is), it should be around 75 degrees later this evening. I have already eaten some fruity gelato, drunk some icy cold Coke Zero Cherry and finished half a lamington in preparation.

Oh, you look so innocent and pretty today, Sydney. But you are too hot for your own good, I tell you.

Oh, you look so innocent and pretty today, Sydney. But you are too hot for your own good, I tell you.

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Rubber Duck goes to the Festival

Yesterday, my friend B and I went to check out Rubber Duck at Darling Harbour here in Sydney. Rubber Duck is pretty much what you’d imagine him to be – if you have ever imagined a giant yellow duck that is five stories high and five stories wide. He is here for the Sydney Festival and has really brightened up the place. Created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, Rubber Duck is part of a collection of larger-than-life urban sculptures, which Hofman hopes will “astonish audiences and give them a new perspective on public spaces”.

Pic taken by my friend Jane as Rubber Duck arrived in style through the open bridge at Darling Harbour on Saturday.

Pic taken by my friend Jane as Rubber Duck arrived in style (with a little help from a tug boat), swimming through the open bridge at Darling Harbour on Saturday.

Good afternoon, Rubber Duck.

Rubber Duck, at home in Sydney.

Mission accomplished with your Rubber Duck, Mr Hofman. You’ve said that his purpose is “to do no more than amaze” and while he amazes, he also puts goofy smiles on visitors’ faces as they enjoy his sunshine-bright yellowness and the memories he stirs – mostly of Ernie from Sesame Street. Rubber Duck has toured the world, but am sure he’s enjoying his current home in the very public bath tub of Darling Harbour.

Brightening up the view for some city office workers.

Brightening up the view for some city office workers.

If you like ducks, sunshine, photo opportunities or smiles, this Festival event is well worth a visit. Rubber Duck is in town until January 23 – you can read more about the Sydney Festival and Rubber Duck here.

The end.

The end.

And if you can’t make it, or even if you can, here’s an old favourite – I’m sure Ernie would be awfully fond of the giant Rubber Duck too…

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Inspiring stuff, Sydney

Hello. I’m back. Nice to be with you again. Thanks to those of you who asked OI, WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR BLOG? I appreciated the nudge and it’s really lovely to know that you noticed my absence. In truth, I’ve been home from my travels for a week and a half now, but I hadn’t really been inspired to get back to blogging. Maybe it was the cold that I picked up during my last days in NYC; maybe it was running around catching up with family, friends and work stuff; maybe it was getting through the shows that TiVo had thoughtfully recorded while I was away; maybe it was just a bit of a slump because the holiday is over & December is bearing down with all its festive fury (don’t get me wrong – I love love love the festive season, but there’s always so much going on).

Whatevs, I’m back now. And I owe the inspiration to Sydney. Yesterday was such a perfectly sunny summer’s day and as I wandered around the harbour, I was struck as I sometimes am by this pretty city, so thought I’d take some snaps and share the sunshine with you here.

No, I really do not miss catching a bus to work.

No, I really do not miss catching a bus to work.

Just for the calcium, I swear.

Just for the calcium, I swear.

As far as a view from public transport goes, it's not too bad.

As far as a view from public transport goes, it’s not too bad.

The bus stop. So to speak.

The bus stop. So to speak.

It is a pretty city.

It is a pretty city.

Best seat in town.

Best seat in town.

SydFlowers

And sometimes you even catch Cinderella just hangin' out, eating an apple.

And sometimes you even catch Cinderella just hangin’ out, eating an apple.

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Back on the run

You might recall that I suffered a bit of an overuse injury when running in Dublin recently. As a result, I have been laying low and doing very little (aside from walking slowly and painfully like an arthritic granny) for about six weeks now. It’s really disappointing, as I had been getting into a regular running pattern and was definitely seeing improvements in my ability to run further and longer. Not even close to marathon fit, by any means, but pleased with my progress. Anyways, then my bursar got bursitis and thought it would be funny to maintain a constant vigil of pain in my left leg, from my hip to my knee. Good times, bursar, good times. That led me to the horrors of the physio and his torture chamber, which left me bruised and battered. And better, it would seem. I’ve been doing my stretches (not in public, as most of them are quite strange looking) and thought that today would be a good day to get back on the run.

It’s a beautiful summery day in Sydney today, so I went to my old stomping ground – which also happens to be a welcome flat course – around Canada Bay. It’s a lovely spot to walk and run – between the water and the trees, you can kinda forget that part of it is next to one of Sydney’s busiest roads.

Not bad, eh? NB, this was taken on one of my many walking breaks.

So I walked most of the course, with three five-minute running intervals. Which felt like the physio was right beside me, punching me in the thigh as I ran along. Luckily, vanity prevailed, and the fear of being out-run by the elderly kept me going.

Discrimination in our community. KEEP TO YOUR SIDE, BIKES!

As often happens, there was a chick keeping almost the same pace as me (although probably not leaning to one side as much as me), so we traded places as one or the other started to run for a bit. I took this photo when she was ahead, as I thought it wouldn’t have been very sporting to turn around and take one as she dropped behind me. She was wearing a top like a zebra – when she was behind me, I wondered where “stripey lady” was at; and then when she repeatedly ran ahead and stopped just metres in front of me as if to taunt me, my mind said, “Oh, there you are, stripey face cow”. I’m not proud of myself, but that’s what I thought.

Run along, stripey.

Nice day for it.

Did I mention the trees? Such a pretty vista from the path, any way you look.

And as it approached midday, I was feeling pretty hot (not as in smokin’, but as in sweaty) and there, towards the end of the run was this classic Aussie mirage, looking so inviting.

They really need a slide from the bridge directly to the pool for walkers/runners – so near and yet so far…

And now? After stretching and applying anti-inflammatory gel and taking anti-inflammatory tablets, I’ve got a pack of frozen corn nestled next to me, trying to get rid of the pain that has crept back. But hopefully this is the beginning of my comeback and my bursar will return to life as before – when I didn’t even know it existed.

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Mad Monday

Today was a strange day in Sydney. It started out all grey and cold and rainy, but then the clouds cleared and out came the summer-strength sun. Crazy.

Most Mondays, I pick up some of my nieces from school – we pal around, have a nice afternoon tea, talk about our day, do homework (theirs, not mine) and help to make the family’s dinner. It’s one of the highlights of my week and I’m super lucky to have this time with them – while they’re still young enough to think that I’m relatively cool.

Anyways, these last few Mondays we’ve been on a mission. 7-Eleven is having a 13 week Slurpee promotion leading into summer. We’ve taken this as a 13 week challenge – there’s a different flavour of Slurpee each week. We missed the first week (Sour Watermelon) and last week, the machine was busted (Strawberry Citron, so nobody was too upset) and today was Vanilla Cola. Good times. I asked the man if he could let us in on the secret of next week’s flavour, but he said that he’d have to look it up on the system…and then turned away and smiled vaguely into the middle distance…

The Slurpee Barista

Even a cold, rainy day doesn’t stop us. Just pull your school jumper sleeves into Slurpee holders.

Afternoon tea. All natural colours and flavours…

‘Til next week, Slurpee fans…

3 down, 10 to go…

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Here’s looking at you, Syd

Today is just one of those amazing days when you look around the harbour city and think, where else would you want to be?  After weeks – months – of unseasonal weather (cooler, wetter and much sadder than summer should be), today is just perfect.  Strong blue skies (not that wishy washy blue of nanna’s cardi, but the deep blue of – say – Jake Gyllenhall’s dreamy peepers) and warm sunshine, like Mother Nature is saying TGIF.  Weather like this makes everyone happier – as I waited for a mid-afternoon ferry, a group of Korean women in their 70s started line dancing at the wharf, sort of like a bizarro elderly Asian Billy Ray Cyrus flash mob.  Unfortunately, I was in shock at this unexpected sight and wasn’t quick enough to catch them with my camera (or my stick).    Crazy politicians, public transport iss-ews and world beating housing costs aside, so lucky to live in such a beautiful town.  Especially on a $10 postcard-pic day like today.

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