I decided to write and record a sub-two-minute slab of political punk rock. Yeah, the mix isn’t great, but it’s punk, it’s supposed to be a bit rough.
If you like it and want to support my music making endeavours, hit the Bandcamp link above to buy the track.
Credits: Neil McDougall – everything.
I’m not puttin’ out
You’re rushin’ in
Your tiny hands
and rotten grin
it’s a stranger world
‘Cause you deranged the world
So I’ll deface this wall
And watch you take the fall
Fake news and lies
All playing out
Like a tragedy scene
it’s a stranger world
‘Cause you deranged the world
So I’ll deface this wall
And watch you take the fall
from plastic men
We have to go
Through this again
It’s a stranger world
Where flags of lies unfurl
But I will still say Yes
Against a full court press
We stand around
It’s clear you are
Weak and unstable
It’s a stranger world
Where flags of lies unfurl
But I will still say Yes
Against a full court press
See for yourself
Widen up the view
Check behind the curtain
And you will find the truth
It’s a stranger world
It’s a stranger world
It’s a danger world
It’s a danger world
I am absolutely stunned no-one’s done this one yet. It’s a belter.]]>
So, we’re into the last four days of my trip – the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th of April 2016. Let’s do them in order.
(There was something I missed out during the last entry – one night we, as in myself, Gordon, Nancy and Rachael, went to visit Peter Stroud’s nephew Daniel and his wife Mhari for a big dinner. Was a lovely night, I just couldn’t remember what particular evening it was in the proceedings. Oops.)
Sunday 17th of April
This was a fairly jam packed day.
This being the last day I had with Gordon and Nancy not working and Rachael off uni (what with it being the weekend), we decided it’d be a pretty good opportunity to get back into Fremantle again and for me to see some more of the sights there, particularly the famous old prison.
I got dropped off at the prison while the Walesmobile got parked in behind Peter Stroud’s podiatry clinic (closed, but Peter was cool with us sticking the Landie in there for a few hours) and the rest of the clan went for a coffee while I went to jail.
There was a couple of tours available and I did the tour of the main prison blocks. It was fairly interesting, especially the cells and areas that had prisoners’ paintings on the walls, from near the end of the facility’s time as an active prison in the late 80s and early 90s. Pics attached to the post.
After the prison, I met back up with Gordon and Nancy and we headed for the famous Little Creatures brewpub for lunch. Highlight was the mussels in some spicy tomato sauce. First time I’d properly enjoyed that kind of shellfish. Australia really showed me how nice fish can be when it’s fresh and well cooked. I definitely got my culinary sea legs down under.
The beer was good too. I actually went for a non-Little Creatures beer, because I’ve tried LC’s beers in the past (and enjoyed them). Wish I could remember what it was I had. It was some sort of golden ale, I think, or maybe a bright ale.
After Little Creatures we walked through the main bit of Freo, passing the Cappucino Strip, the famous bit of South Terrace with all the coffee shops (must visit there properly next time and get caffienated oot mah bin) and went to the well known Freo indoor markets, hoping to find a gift for my mum. The markets are nice, with lots of interesting bits and bobs, but nothing there that really fit what I was looking for. I loved the food bit of the market too, tons of nice produce. Stuff like that makes me want to get creative in the kitchen.
When we came out of the markets, it was raining a wee bit, and Gordon and I set off for the podiatry clinic to get the car while Rachael ducked back into the market to get Nancy, who’d went off to get something.
Halfway between the market and the clinic, the heavens opened, like a cow pissing on a flat rock. Probably the heaviest rain I saw in Australia. Gordon and I didn’t have far to walk to get to the car, but by the time we got there we were pretty drenched. At least I could just jump in the car – Gordon had to deal with locking the gate to the clinic’s parking area before we left. Still, it wasn’t long before things warmed up to usual Australian standards again and we were once again dry. I think I was nearly dry by the time we got back to the house, in fact.
The evening was fun too, as we went to the McGregor residence for dinner and to watch the Old Firm cup semi-final. The McGregors are all big Rangers fans, as are Gordon, Nancy and Rachael, so it was quite a rollercoaster of a game for ’em. Me, I’m pretty neutral – family and friends on both ends of the Old Firm divide, so I keep it Switzerland-esque.
Food was, as always with the McGs, the best of gear, and the game was entertaining as hell. Poor old Adam fell asleep in the second half (he’s usually pretty early to bed due to his work hours, and due to the time difference the game went on quite late), but he woke up to cheer on the Gers winning the game in extra time in a result none of the pundits predicted. Me, I thought Rangers were a bit of value, as underdogs in big cup games sometimes can be, and was kicking myself for not having a cheeky wee bet on them.
I have to say, it was pretty surreal watching a Scottish League Cup semi final from Hampden, with a bunch of Scottish folk, drinking Irn Bru no less, but all on the other side of the world.
Monday 18th of April
This day was a pretty quiet one overall. Gordon and Nancy were working, Rachael was at uni, so I just pottered about the house, surfed the internet, edited photos, played the 3DS and hung out with Charlie the dog.
Before I did that, though, Adam McGregor popped by and we headed into the CBD via Northbridge for a bit of a burger brunch and a blether. We had a stroll around the CBD and spotted a pretty damn entertaining dancing street performer doing his thing in front of a fairly big crowd. Dude was charismatic as hell. Wish I could remember his name. I should’ve taken a note of that. :-/
That night, Gordon decided to do some food on the outdoor BBQ. Aaaaand then it started pissing down with rain (apparently this past April was the wettest April in about 40 years or so in WA. I can believe that). Thankfully, we weren’t eating outside, Gordon was just using the barbie to cook the meat, but still, it tickled me, the whole idea of going to Australia for BBQ food in the sunshine only for a barbie to get the wind taken out of its sails by a rather torrential downpour.
Regardless of the soggy conditions, we ate, drank and were merry that evening.
Tuesday 19th of April
This was going to be Nancy’s last day off before I went home, so we headed out to the Caversham Wildlife park to have a swatch at some animals. We walked around the park, I took photos. The park has a large open area for the public to interact with kangaroos and wallabies, with big baskets full of feed pellets. You grab a handful, the roos saunter up (at least the ones that weren’t having a lie down) and eat the food right out of your hand while you give ’em a pet. Pretty cool experience, even for a thirty-something like myself. If I was twelve I’d probably be internally flipping out.
There was also a biog shed with a bunch of animals with handlers that one could have a good close look at, including a big wombat that was available for punters to hold and get pictures taken with, but the queue for that was huge, so I avoided it, taking some rather good pictures of some of the birds in there instead – the shot of the owl with the Australian flag behind it is one of my favourite photos of the entire trip.
We walked around the rest of the park, visiting the various enclosures – birds, reptiles, marsupials, a ‘livestock’ bit with farm animals and interestingly enough, a couple of llamas – and eventually made our way to the koala enclosure, which allows you to pet some of the koalas, with some fairly strict instructions from the animal keepers. I got a couple of cracking pics there too, inclusing a rare moment of wakefulness from one of the koalas (they spend the vast majority of the day sleeping).
We had a spot of lunch in the covered picnic area near the entrance of the park, and were only mildly harassed by a beautiful wee multi-coloured bird that was no doubt hanging around waiting to scoff whatever bits of food the punters dropped from their lunches.
After the wildlife park, we headed over to the nearby Motor Museum of Western Australia, which was maybe about 50 yards from the entrance to the wildlife park. Some pretty cool exhibits there, from old vintage cars going as far back as the late 19th century, to Aussie classics like the Holden Monaros and Commodores, to relatively modern Japanese cars, like an R33 Skyline GTR. Even a couple of ‘famous’ cars, like the Ford Falcon ute from the Aussie movie Red Dog. Pretty nifty for a petrolhead like me.
Oh, and they have a Brum there. From the kids’ telly show. Aye.
After the museum, we made our way back to the house. I showered, cracked open a beer and edited the photos I took earlier that day.
After Gordon came back from work, we headed out to Bollywood Spices, a wee Indian restaurant in North Perth, for dinner. Let me tell you, it was fantastic. Some of the best Indian grub I’ve had in a while, and easily the best vegetable pakora I’ve ever had. We couldn’t finish it all, and we had curry and rice left over, so we doggie-bagged it up and took it away with us, which came in handy for me the next day.
After the currypalooza, we headed over to Peter & Martina’s house for a visit. Martina gave me a candle as a gift to take home to my mum, we all had a bit of a blether and it was all a wee bit bittersweet for me, as it’d be the last time I’d see the Strouds for the foreseeable. It’s the downside to these things, I suppose – making a bunch of new friends and having to say ‘see you later’ at the end, with no idea of when ‘later’ is.
Wednesday 20th of April
And so it all came to this – the last day down under. A month on the other side of the planet, the longest I’ve ever spent away from home, and the furthest I’ve ever travelled, and it was all coming to a close. What did I do with my last day down under?
Not a whole hell of a lot. Gordon and Nancy were working, Rachael was at uni, so I pretty much had the run of the house to myself. In the grand scheme of things, I’d not really spent a great deal of time at the house, so I took it as an opportunity to soak in the place a good bit before I had to leave that night.
I wandered around the house, took some photos of the place, got a couple of snaps of Charlie the dog, packed away the majority of my stuff, ate the leftover curry from the previous evening, and generally felt pretty sad that the whole experience was coming to an end. The best part of two years of planning and anticipation and it was nearly over. It had been brilliant, the best holiday I’ve ever had. Didn’t stop me getting a bit misty eyed that afternoon though.
After dinner that night, I had one last shower before I fully finalised my packing, and let me tell you, the water running down my face didn’t just come from the showerhead.
Showered, shaved, packed and ready to go, we had one last visit from Adam and Arlene McGregor and a Facetime call home to my mum before we jumped in the Land Rover and set off for the airport. I got seperated from Gordon, Rachael and Nancy due to a toilet break before meeting back up with them in one of the land-side bars before security for a quick drink. After that it was off to security, but not before a few hugs and ‘see you in a few months’ – they came over to the UK for a visit this past summer.
I breezed through security with no hassle and parked my arse on the 777W to Doha, this time not making the same mistake I’d made previously and changing my seat reservation to an aisle seat. Once again, I failed to sleep on the plane, but that was fine, as most of the PER-DOH flight was during UK daytime, so being awake probably helped to reset my body clock to a certain degree.
The flight was uneventful, bar my aborted attempt to watch Demolition Man on the in flight entertainment – it was censored to buggery, which pretty much ruined the film.
Thursday 21st April
We got to Doha pretty much on time, and I was a touch anxious due to the much shorter connection time on the leg home (about 90 minutes), so I felt like I didn’t really have a great deal of time to faff about and try to get food or what have you. So once I got through transit security, I made sure to get my bearings on what gate I was at, grabbed some water and went to my gate to chill out and wait for the plane.
As it turned out, there was a bit of a delay and we ended up heading off about maybe an hour or so behind our scheduled departure time. Gave me a good chance to use the airport wi-fi to catch up on the news, including the rather sad news about the deaths of Victoria Wood and former WWE female wrestler Chyna. 2016 strikes again.
I eventually hopped onto the 787 to Edinburgh, and much like the initial flight out of Edinburgh more than 4 weeks previous, I had an empty middle seat next to myself and the woman in the aisle seat. Yaldy!
Again, flight went fine. The breakfast pancakes were nice. Spent a good amount of time listening to podcasts. It was quite the thing breaking through the clouds to see Scotland again as we came in to land – I hadn’t seen that much green land for a month. You take the sight of grassy fields as far as the eye can see for granted, but a month in Perth will give you a whole new appreciation for the UK’s green and pleasant land.
Got off the plane, made it through customs (had to wait ages for my big case though, must’ve been stood at the conveyor for the best part of an hour) and hopped onto the bus to Glasgow, finally munching the Haribo I’d bought in Perth airport but hadn’t bothered eating on the plane or during the layover at Doha. A bag of Goldbears that travelled halfway around the globe, only to meat their masticational doom on the M8.
The bus pulled into Buchanan Street bus station, I schlepped my way through the city centre, grabbed a bottle of water and hopped on the train to Stewarton. An hour later, I was home.
So, that was Australia.
Will I be back? Hell. Fucking. Yes. I don’t know when exactly, but if I can rectify my current employment-free situation, I’m thinking 2018 or 2019, probably at about the same time again to maximise the use of holiday hours from whatever job I wind up in. I’d love to go in September/October though, to catch the Australian springtime and hopefully the AFL Grand Final.
Speaking of footy, that’s definitely going on the to-do list for next time – go see an AFL game live, be it at the new Perth stadium that’s currently under construction, or at one of the venues in Melbourne, a city that I definitely plan on seeing the next time I go Down Under. Pretty much everyone was telling me I should go there. I’ve ticked the touristy-as-hell Sydney boxes, next time I’ll be hitting one of the best cities on the planet.
I didn’t get over to Rottnest Island either, so that’ll be on the list for next time as well. I’d love to visit the south of WA as well – I watched Expedia’s video about Margaret River recently and that looks like paradise.
Be nice to have a bit of female company to take with me too, but who can say if that’ll happen. This year’s been a bit of a bust in that regard. There was some stuff I was hopeful about on that front, but those things all came to nought, one way or another.
2016 was a pretty gash year overall, I think we can all agree, but it had at least a couple of good things in it for me, and Australia definitely lived up to it all. Here’s to ya, Straya. Keep the beers cold for me, because one day I’ll be back.Click to view slideshow. ]]>
I can’t really think of a good way to make this into a continuous narrative flow, so we’ll just go day by day and describe the stuff I did and whatnot, mmkay?
Monday 11th of April
The first day back from Ledge Point. My cousin Rachael dropped me off at Barrack St, near the semi-famous Bell Tower, one of the more prominent Perth landmarks (which has kinda been put even more in the shade by Elizabeth Quay, but more on that later). The tower contains a collection of antique church bells from the St Martin-in-the-fields church in Trafalgar Square, that were gifted to Perth in 1988. I saw the bells, I watched a demonstration about how the bells are rung, I rang one of the bells. I went up to the observation level and snapped some photos. I got some pictures of the Love Locks on the footbridge outside, then I sauntered over to see Elizabeth Quay.
Elizabeth Quay is the new hotness when it comes to Perth’s landmarks and attractions, having officially opened at the start of the year (although development of bits of it is still ongoing, notably a big hotel complex). It’s quite a nice place to visit, and certainly a lot more attractive than what was there before (pretty much just a bit of road along the waterfront, as I understand it). There’s some interesting architecture there that should hopefully make the visage of Perth’s waterfront a wee bit more distinct.
From Elizabeth Quay, I headed up towards the main part of the CBD and found myself wandering up London Court, a very picturesque shopping street just off one Hay Street. With its mock-Tudor stylings, it’s a wee bit ‘fake’, especially if you’ve ever been to York, but it’s a nice change of pace from all the modern architecture that tends to be prominent in a ‘new world’ city like this. The shops there are all very ‘touristy’ – kitchy souvenirs a-go-go. If you’re in Perth and you want to buy a kangaroo plushie and a hat with corks dangling off it, this is where you’d probably want to go. The only shop I went into on London Court was Tactics, a wargaming/board games/RPG shop where I picked up a copy of the Aussie version of Cards Against Humanity, as a gift for Ledge Point usage. I must go back to Tactics the next time I’m over there, I love rummaging around RPG books and whatnot.
After London Court I moseyed along Hay St, poked around a few shops (I was noseying around to see if I could find any deals on cheap 3DS games, but to no avail), headed up Murray St doing the same, then turned north along the Barrack St bridge into Northbridge, to have a look at the museums and art galleries, one in particular – The Nostalgia Box.
The Nostalgia Box is a museum after my own heart, being a collection of vintage video games consoles and computers, everything from your run of the mill Playstations and NESes, to relative rarities like the Magnavox Odyssey and Neo Geo. They also have a bunch of retro consoles set up that you can play, so I took the opportunity to have a crack at Metal Slug on the Neo Geo (not an actual Neo Geo, unfortunately, but a Neo Geo X, the Android-based convertible handheld-with-a-console-base emulator thingy) and Sega Rally on the Saturn.
Dammit, I should by another Saturn some time. I miss that console.
While I was in the Nostalgia Box, the weather, which had been overcast for most of that time, finally broke, and the heavens opened. Bucketing down. Seeing what was occuring, I whistled up an Uber and headed outside to brave the rain in my no-jacket state. I spotted a taxi that matched the make and colour of the Uber that was coming, so I jumped in.
It was only after we’d travelled a few streets I realised that this wasn’t my Uber, it was an actual taxi, so not only did I have to pay a fare that was higher than what the Uber would’ve been, I had to pay a fee to Uber for cancelling that. Oops. All because I was in a rush due to rain. Gah.
Tuesday 12th of April
I knew going into my trip Down Under that I’d be over there when Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice came out (it actually released when I was in Sydney, if I remember right), and I fancied seeing it, so on the Monday night after my rain-based Uber FAIL, I did a bit of research into cinemas in Perth, and I discovered the Gold Class concept that Event Cinemas have, which is unlike anything I’ve seen in any cinema over here. Maybe 12 seats or so total in each cinema, all big leather recliners, and food and drink can be brought to your seat at specific pre-ordered times during the film. I don’t go to the cinema often, and I thought ‘why not?’ and decided to hit the pictures the next day to watch Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne knock each other’s pans in while drinking beer.
I did that, and it was a great way to do the cinema thing. Seriously, Odeon and the likes need to do some of that stuff over here. I’d go to the cinema more often if they did. Beer, chips, potato wedges and leather seats beats screaming kids and pick ‘n mix any day.
Wednesday 13th of April
Traveled a bit further afield this day, and visited Fremantle for the first time, with Nancy. The first stop was Freo’s cemetary, to visit the grave of AC/DC legend Bon Scott. We had a bit of trouble trying to find the grave, but after a bit of asking around, we eventually made our way to the right part of the enormous graveyard and found the bold Bon’s resting place.
After I paid my respects to one of rock music’s great personalities, we made our way back to the car and headed for the main bit of Freo to grab some food at Bather’s Beach House before visiting the Maritime Museum. The exhibits at the musuem were pretty interesting, goimg all the way from militaria to sport to marine biology. Well worth a visit if you head over to Freo.
Thursday 14th of April
This day I visited the Perth Royal Mint. It was pretty interesting. Watched gold getting poured. Couldn’t take photos inside due to security policies (probably because of the mahoosive amounts of expensive stuff in the place – the souvenir shop was a wee bit more extravagant than the typical touristy tchotchkes.
Friday 15th of April
This was a pretty full day – Nancy drove me to Perth Zoo, where I ambled around the place admiring the wildlife and dodging shitloads of schoolkids (it was the Easter holidays after all). The zoo had a rather cool temporary dinosaur-themed thing going through it, with lots of animatronic prehistoric sauropods scattered throughout the zoo, in amongst all the usual zoo stuff. The downside was, due to the time of day and it being a quite nice sunny day, a lot of the animals were having a bit of a kip. I still managed to take some rather nice photos, a few of which are attached to this post. The heron on the footbridge was a particularly cool shot to get, as I thought the heron was going to get spooked and fly away, but it was clearly fairly used to humans and didn’t give a toss about me and my camera as it perched on the handrail of the footbridge I was walking along.
After leaving the zoo, I ambled to the ferry terminal on the South Perth Esplanade and caught the ferry back over the river to Elizabeth Quay. I then caught the free Green CAT bus up to Northbridge (just to make the Uber back to the house that wee bit cheaper) and found a rather nice wee Mexican themed bar/restaurant, La Cholita, and had a burrito and a beer for lunch. The burrito was really nice, made with nice fresh ingredients. When I go to Perth I definitely fancy checking that place out again.
An Uber took me home (an actual Uber this time, not a mis-identified taxi) and that evening my Uncle and I sat in the back lounge of the house watching a bit of Aussie Rules footy, with the West Coast Eagles taking on the Richmond Tigers, a game my wee cousin actually went to see with some of her pals. After the game, Gordon and I sank a few beers and watched Still Game. Good way to end the evening.
Saturday 16th April
This day was all about aircraft, as Gordon and I visited the RAAF Aviation Heritage Museum. The museum contains a fair bit of interesting stuff, seperated into two main halls, one devoted to civil aviation and one to military aviation. It’s the military section that has the real ‘big ticket item’, however, in a lovingly-restored Lancaster bomber as the centrepiece, as well as a number of other cool aircraft, including a Spitfire. Some choice photos are attached.
That evening, Gordon and I switched aircraft for craft beer and headed out to the Northbridge Brewing Co. brewpub to meet up with some familiar faces – Peter Stroud, Joe McGuinness, Clive D’Cruz and a couple other of Gordon’s mates who I was meeting for the first time at this point. Beers were drunk, banter flowed, the evening drew in and we had a good wee night out. After the NBC, we headed to a food court for munchies, where I had my first experience with a Japanese Bento box, with yakiniku beef and some nice bits of proper sushi (the only sushi I’d had before this was pre-packaged stuff from Tesco and it turned my stomach. Next time I’m over there I’m going to try and do the sushi thing properly though). After the scran we had a couple more in the Brass Monkey for one for the road before taxiing back to Yokine.
Right, I think I’ll cut this entry off here – join me again next time when I’ll wrap up what happened during my final days Down Under.]]>
Like this? Feel free to check out my original solo music at http://neilmcdougall.bandcamp.com/ and the debut EP by my band Afterline at http://afterline.bandcamp.com/.
Follow me on Twitter @NeiloMac.]]>
That was about to change, though.
However, that wouldn’t change before one last extra-Perthular excursion – two nights up in Ledge Point at Ceoil Na Mara, the holiday house Gordon and Nancy co-own with the Strouds, Peter and Martina (you may remember them from the Kalbarri blogs). Staying at Ledge was myself, Gordon, Nancy, Peter, Martina and Adam and Arlene McGregor, who you may remember we went out for excellent Chinese food with in Northbridge right at the start of this whole shindig. Not quite a full house (I was sleeping in a room that sleeps four folk by myself) but plenty of good company for a couple of days by the WA oceanside.
We headed up on Friday the 8th of April (in case you were wondering, the Thursday was pretty much a non event for me, still recuperating from Sydney. My back was pretty sore at this point, so I just rested and edited photos for a good chunk of that day). The drive up was uneventful, taking about an hour and 20 minutes. That evening, we were treated to an amazing Thai/Vietnamese fish curry cooked by Adam, who’s right into his Asian cookery. If I remember right, the fish was Red Snapper, maybe the one that was caught at Kalbarri, although I seem to remember Gordon saying he’d had some Snapper in the freezer prior to that, so maybe not. Anyway, it was genuinely immense. Prior to this I’d not really had much experience with fish curries, but between this and the fish curry I’d have a couple of weeks later in Perth, it’s something I definietly want to try more of in the future.
After Currypalooza 2016, we got wired into the drink, as befits a bunch of Celts on holiday (all Scots bar Martina, who’s Irish. Dunno how Adam and Arlene would feel about being referred to as Celts though, being the Rangers fans they are ).
We sat on the house’s balcony, looking out towards the sea to the west and an absolutely incredible thunderstorm to the north. The first time in my life I’d ever seen proper forked lightning, as far as I can recall. Pretty much any lightning I’ve seen before now has been the fairly mundane sheet-lightning variety – just a big flash of light in the sky. This stuff was proper Hollywood lightning. I tried to get a nice long-exposure shot of the storm on my RX100, but I made an arse of it due to trying to use Bulb mode rather than a pre-set long exposure with a self-timer. Me holding down the shutter button manually caused the camera to move just enough to make the picture really blurry. I’ll attach it to this post, even though as an image, it’s not great.
So, we sat on the balcony, watched the lightning and got merry. As the night wore on, it progressed from beer and wine, to port and eventually a wee dram or two. I was the first one to bed that night (lightweight that I am), and sometime after I went to bed, a minor problem arose. Adam took a bit of a tumble and cut his hand and eyebrow on some glass. Thankfully, we had a couple of nurses (Martina and Nancy) as part of the group, so repairs were effected with minimal fuss, even with a sasparilla or three in ’em. Professionals!
The next day, we were all a bit tender, but we got the barbie fired up and wired into square sausage, tattie scones and black pudding for breakfast. A proper Scottish hangover cure. All we needed was some Irn Bru. After that, we set up the new TV that had been bought for the house (after a bit of cable improvisation to get the DVD player working with the telly) and then a few of us set off to Lancelin, the bigger town just up the road. In Lancelin, we found a pub, had a couple of drinks, I played a pristine sit-down Sega Rally arcade machine (just about the last thing I expected to see in an Australian pub!), I hit the bottle shop for a case of beers (I made a poor choice though – Pure Blonde, a pretty weak-arsed beer. I thought it’d be a blonde ale, it was just a ‘meh’ lager. It should’ve been called Pure Bland) and we headed back to Ledge via a quick butchers at the dunes where some 4×4-ing went on.
Once we got back to Ceoil Na Mara, we got fired into a nice wee cheeseboard and some beverages, pregaming before the big Western Australian Derby AFL game that night – Fremantle Dockers vs West Coast Eagles. I still hadn’t entirely wrapped my head around the AFL rules at this stage, but I was starting to enjoy it. Being around enthusiasm like Arlene’s definitely didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the game. I don’t think it would’ve helped Peter’s enjoyment of the game, though, as his beloved Dockers got a hiding.
The rest of the evening proceeded without incident. More wine was consumed, chat was had, pretty quiet really.
That evening I was first to bed again, and I lay there thinking about how normally, at that exact moment for the previous 10 years or so, I would’ve been running around like a blue-arsed fly, as that day was Grand National day, the busiest day of the year for my job (now my former job) at Ladbrokes. My colleagues would’ve been knocking their pans in and there I was, halfway around the planet drinking beers and watching the footy with friends and family. Not the worst Grand National Saturday I’ve ever had, it must be said.
The next day, we ate another Scottish breakfast and set off back to Perth in the early afternoon. Nothing like slice sausage and a cup of tea on a Sunday morning, even on the other side of the planet.
Next time, I’ll be talking about the stuff I managed to get up to around Perth itself in the last 10 days or so of my time Down Under. Won’t you join me?]]>
The morning of the 3rd of April Gordon and I packed our stuff back into our bags, checked out of the Pensione Hotel and headed off for the train station, bound for Chipping Norton, a suburb about 45 minutes west of the Sydney CBD. Before we went to the station, we grabbed a really nice breakfast in a cafe I can’t seem to find on Google Maps (I remember it being near the hotel, on the other side of the street, but bugger me if I can’t find it), then after a bit of a faff getting tickets and trying to figure out what platform we needed to be on, we jumped on one of Sydney’s fascinating double-decker trains headed for Warwick Farm, the nearest stop to Chipping Norton.
By this point I was glad to have stopped walking for a while – after all the bouncing around the Sydney tourist hotspots over the previous couple of days, my feet were blistered to buggery and my lower back was getting sore. My plan was to basically veg out at Sandra’s (my mum’s cousin) house for a couple of days before heading back into the city to climb the Harbour Bridge and meet my old mucker Jonny, who’d moved to Sydney a couple of years prior.
We got to Sandra and Richard’s house just before lunchtime, we decanted our stuff and I sat with my sore feet in Sandra’s pool, cooling off my blisters and enjoying the breezy Sydney sunshine.
After a spot of lunch, Richard offered to take me and Gordon out to Denham Court, a very nice neighbourhood in Sydney, to see the house he’d been working on for a number of years, in its nearly-finished state. It was a helluva place, a proper lottery-winners modern mansion, with a fair sized plot of land – Richard’s plan was to have some of his horses stabled there. It was a lovely house, and really cool to get inside a place like that, the sort of property I probably wouldn’t find myself getting to nosey about in, generally speaking.
That evening, still nursing my sore feet, scuffed head (from the Manly Barstool Incident, as detailed in the previous entry) and increasingly sore back, we headed off to a rather large RSL club in a nearby suburb for dinner. This place was pretty crazy, with multiple bar/restaurant areas and a large underground car park. Some of these clubs are closer to a Vegas casino than a ‘working men’s club’. Food was decent – I had Chicken parm, but I was still feeling a bit ropey and tired, so we didn’t stay for a huge amount of time. I crashed early-ish that night, as I had a reason to be up reasonably early the next morning.
Yep, it was Monday morning, April the 4th, and due to the gigantic time difference to the USA, I was watching Wrestlemania 32 live on the WWE Network while having my breakfast, which was an unusual experience to say the least. Usually when I’ve watched Mania live in the past, I’ve had to stay up until daft o’clock in the morning to do it. The show itself…not bad. The main event was utterly forgettable though. Women’s match and the Intercontinental Title ladder match were bangers though.
The rest of that day was pretty uneventful. We went over to a wee shop area nearby for…something I don’t remember, and I got Gordon’s boarding passes for his flight back to Perth printed off, as he was flying home that evening, due to starting back at work the next day. I think I just spent most of that day just taking it easy and watching stuff on the WWE Network or Youtube, or editing photos on my laptop. I needed to R&R, as my back was pretty much at its sorest at this point, and I had the Bridge Climb the next day.
Tuesday morning rolled around after an early night, and Sandra dropped me off at Warwick Farm station and I choo-chooed back into the CBD, getting off at Circular Quay. I gingerly walked into The Rocks and headed for the Bridgeclimb Centre on Cumberland St. By this point, thankfully, my back was feeling a fair bit better (although I doubt sitting on the bed watching Wrestlemania on my laptop did me any favours). I bought a water and at my appointed time, joined the party for the climb.
When doing a Bridge Climb one has to wear a rather unattractive jumpsuit (well, unattractive on me, anyway. Not a great look for a dude with a bit of a gut) and a belt that basically doubled as a safety harness. There’s a safety rail that you’re attached to via a cable that runs the entire bridge climb route, from the climb centre, all the way up to the centre of the arch and back down again. Our guide on the climb was a rather pleasant English fellow whose name escapes me at the moment. He reminded me of a less campy version of Richard O’Brien, or a bit like that Simon Miller dude from WhatCulture, but with a goatee.
At various points, we stopped to do pictures (I stumped up for an additional photo package, seeing as one isn’t allowed to take a camera on the climb), and we did a group shot on the arch near the top. During the climb, our guide was pointing out various interesting bits and bobs visible from the bridge, talked about the history of the bridge and whatnot. He did a fine job with his spiel and did a good job making sure everyone in the party was doing OK (I’d mentioned my back pain thing and he asked at a few points how I was doing) and made sure we were made aware of the water fountains that are dotted along the climb route, which I was very thankful for. It was a pretty nice day, and I was pretty sweaty by the end of the climb.
The sight of the Sydney harbour from the apex of the bridge was pretty breathtaking, and I really wished I could’ve taken my camera up to get some nice shots of the cityscape. I guess I’ll have to settle for the shots of me with the city in the background. Some of the photos are attached to this post – the one of me doing the Randy Orton pose in front of the Australian flag makes me chuckle.
Once we descended back to the Bridgeclimb centre, I picked up the USB stick with my photos, changed back into my clothes and headed out into the Rocks to meet my pal Jonny Wilson at the Mercantile, where I’d been a few days previously with my uncle, drinking far-too-cold Guinness. I met Jonny when I produced the band he was in, The Mocha Nights, back in 2005, and this was the first time I’d seen him in a few years.
I sat in the Mercantile nursing a schooner and after a short wait, Jonny rocked up. We had a beer and a catch-up there before we headed off the Glenmore, a Scottish pub with a swanky rooftop bar, also in The Rocks. We ordered food, and after a while shooting the shit and slurping frothies, a friend of Jonny turned up, an American dude who worked as a lawyer (totally blanked on his name now. Oops. Ah well, it was 6 months ago). More beers ensued, plenty of good banter, and eventually we sauntered back towards Circular Quay for me to get the train back to Warwick Farm in a warm alcoholic glow.
The next day was a quiet one – got my dirty clothes washed and packed up my bags for heading home that evening, which I did. Oh, and Sandra and I went out to a big shopping mall, got some lunch and I got a haircut. Exciting stuff.
The flight back to Perth was uneventful bar the person in the seat next to me – an absolutely SMOKING hot woman who looked like former WWE Diva AJ Lee. I saw her at the baggage carousel after we landed winching some dude, so probably just as well I didn’t try to chat her up. I did talk to her a wee bit though, she told me she worked at a bank in Fremantle and she shared some of her Pringles with me. Nice lassie. her boyfriend is clearly a jammy bastard.
I made it back to Yokine in a taxi, let myself in and went to bed. And thus ended my second excursion.
Join me next time when I’ll be detailing my last ‘holiday within a holiday’ – a weekend at Ledge Point.]]>