Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Decemberists

On Sunday Katie and I drove down to Melbourne, and met Melissa for a dinner of dumplings in Chinatown. Katie and I arrived into the stepped interior of Billboard for the start of Bridezilla - a band who looks like they met at band during high school, and have kept at it!

The crowd swelled as the opening act ended their set, and the anticipation filled the venue. The Decemberists arrived on stage, with Colin Meloy beginning an awesome engagement with the audience. About 3 songs in, they intro-ed their song about infanticide, The Rake's Song, and the way the sound then focused on Colin's voice built the drama of the song perfectly. Explaining that whilst they had be playing gigs of their 2009 album The Hazards of Love, from start to finish all year, they were not doing that in Australia, as this was their first time out. Launching into Annan Water, he made the comment that this was the first occasion they had played it live, out of context.

For 16 Military Wives, Colin divided the crowd into two, and set us off to harmonise. The surprisingly older crowd showed new fans of the band that The Decemberists have indeed been around for quite some time, and have a huge fan base.

Playing The Crane Wife 1&2 followed by 3, the storytelling of Colin's lyrics shone through. He chatted to the crowd, made jokes, and laughed down heckles, and then introduced the story behind O Valencia! Such a range of instruments on stage, including the bango and the hurdy gurdy.

A cover for the start of the encore, they finished with Sons & Daughters, with Colin working hard on the aim of having the final phrase resonating in every attendees head, till at least morning...

Here all the bombs fade away....
Here all the bombs fade away....
Here all the bombs fade away....

A gig that I so didn't want to end, cos they were so very good, I clearly wasn't the only one with that thought, with the room cheering the band back on stage for a second encore for a final song. A fun, crazy storytelling Mariner's Revenge Song finished the evening, complete with crowd participation. A fest of fun, great music - words can't actually describe how good they were!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Another trip for me today from Ballarat to Hamilton, and back, for work. This pic is of the Grampians Ranges, which looms up from the distance, as just fuzz on the horizon. And then before you know it, your whole view on the right side of the road is all mountain range...and it's upon you, towering over you as you pass it's edge at Dunkeld.

This photo is actually taken coming back from Hamilton, as the Range takes over your view ahead. This is an area we all came to for school camps and the like, but now it looks so beautiful, much more facinating than those cold, middle of winter, rainy trips!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Aussie Open '10

Arriving at Melbourne Park for our annual dose of the Australian Open, Mum, Melissa and I took our seats in Centre Court to watch the opening set of Sharapova and her younger Russian opponent, Kirilenko. The chiffon over her dress and much publicised expensive dress earrings did nothing for Maria's grunt or tennis, and she was out....as we had relocated to watch a more intense match over on Court 2.

Gonzalez, an Open favourite of ours, played Rochus, and was stretched to 4 sets, with a couple of rain delays. Not having a rain interrupted Open for as long as we could remember, Melissa and I huddled under an umbrella during a short, sharp shower, before the sun came blazing out and dried the court off, and play resumed.

Melissa and I joined Mum back in Centre Court, to watch the end of the Clijsters match, as rain stopped all play out on the other outdoor courts. Andy Murray took to court, and played out a fairly easy match to get through to the next round.

As the cold had seeped in, Melissa and I braved it out in the wind on Margaret Court Arena to catch the end of young, tall Aussie hopeful Tomic get through the first round also.

With a new set up this year, to try and separate the "family area" of Garden Square from the Heineken Tent, the oval between Rod Laver Arena and HiSense has been transformed into Grand Slam Oval, with the Garnier replacement Cussons Oasis (with a much smaller goodie bag, and just a freezing pond for dipping your feet in as the treat inside!), all the trade show style set-ups, and the bar area and band stage. Great viewing areas for watching the matches going on inside, we popped in here for a few beers, to watch the Nadal match going on for the night session. With most of the days play postponed due to the weather, we were plotting out our Day 2 to get it all in!

Back for the next day, we spoke to the Box Office after viewing the schedule, and swapped our Centre Court for HiSense Arena, and found our sets for the first 2 sets of Verdasco verses Aussie Ball. At a set apiece, we left the Arena for the sunshine, and worked our way to Court 6 for the postponed Blake game from the day before. Dan joined me, and we watched Blake take the first two sets comfortably, setting up his Round 1 win.

Here, we had a scheduling dilemma/bliss with 3 matches we watched to see all happening at once. Melissa and I found Court 7, and watched a disappointing set from Moya, who went on to lose too easily. We then watched another disappointing set, this time from Tommy Haas, who just didn't seem to be into his match (who must have found his way, winning the next 3 and the match). Gaining entry into Margaret Court, and finding Mum, we then took joy in the energy of Marcos Baghdatis, and his stadium of devoted compatriots. Another Open favourite of ours, Marcos was all heart, and got through to his traditional kissing of the surface and saluting his fans.

Refreshments were taken in the Heiniken area as we watched the start of the Hewitt match of the night session on Centre Court, before Djokovic was on on HiSense. Mum and I got a set in here, before we needed to hit the road and pick up a traveling Katrina from the airport. A very big second day of tennis, so good!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Temper Trap

After moving house in 40C heat (great idea!), I drove back to Melbourne and met up with Nicole, before we headed into the city for dinner. Sitting at Time Out, we both marvelled at the Melbourne skyline around us - Nicole loving that she was back after a trip home, and I was merely reminding myself that this is not home anymore. Oh!

We soon made our way across the road, after dinner, to the beautiful Forum. We got down to the floor as The Boxer Rebellion were playing. A UK version of the main act for the night, even seeming to attempt to sound like them at times, the lead made it known that they were friends of the band. They were good, but there was this feeling of anticipation for the headliners, and thus much of the effort was lost of the filling crowd.

With awesome lighting for the set, The Temper Trap arrived on stage, to the adoration of the hometown crowd. Dougy engaged the crowd, and whilst that signature voice took a line or two to launch, he enchanted the crowd with that falsetto. Angelic really, and to the Forum stage, it was dreamy! He had the mixed crowd mesmerised, even with the album tracks.

A band Nicole and I had seen around this time last year, their potential has been fulfilled in the last 12 months, with being a raging success across the planet. A bit surprised that they had just the one new track to play for the night, the band played pretty much the entire album Conditions.

Love Lost made the set come alive for me, with Fader and Sweet Disposition getting the most crowd joy. Down River deserves a mention too, just awesome.

Encore consisted of a cover of Dancing In The Dark by The Boss, the new track called Rabbit Hole, and ending the seemingly too short gig with Science of Fear. Such an exciting home grown band!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lily Cottage

I picked up my keys today for my new little rental house in Ballarat. It's a little miner's cottage, with a name (cute!), in central Ballarat.

Just a little place, with two bedrooms (a spare for guests!), and an actual wardrobe - which I haven't had since I don't know when! It's really the size of an apartment, in a cottage, but has all I am needing. Great natural light. A driveway that goes nowhere (now known as my cricket pitch, for banana lounges and beer!). And a hop, skip and a jump from town. All good.

The real estate agent has been a total ball breaker about the garden, and asked all my referees about my gardening skills, and about getting a gardener. Oh dear! But it's actually quite a small garden out the front, so really, how hard can it be!

Now, just to finish one of my most hated chores in the world....moving!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Top 5: NYEs

So many people bemoan New Year's Eve, and carry on about it being just another night. But I actually really love it - the chance to start afresh, the chance to say good riddance to a bad year, with the hope of a new one, or to toast a good year as we all move to biggest and better things in the next. Which is why I like to have good plan for NYE - no plans are lame.

The best NYE will probably always be our little trip to New Orleans in 1999/2000, to see the Millennium tick over. A wild, fun fun night along Bourbon Street, with Michelle, Donna, Bronwyn, and two others from Michelle's au pairs in Nashville group. This was part of my 3 month trip over to Nashville to visit, on a working holiday exchange, and we all stayed in this gorgeous empty French Colonial house, with a little pool out the back. Going from very cold Nashville, to mild New Orleans for this amazing weekend was also part of the treat. The drinks, the beads, and the mischief 6 foreign girls can get up to....

The very next year, I made my second trip to New York City, to see the ball drop in Times Square. A really full on year to visit New York. I stayed with Ruth, and managed to catch up with Talia and Breno too on this trip. Ruth and I froze as we waited for the countdown and the iconic ball movement.

Coming home from the UK, and spending NYE at Pyramid Rock Festival with my three sisters, and bunch of mates, was a special one. Dirty, drunky, camping, hot, but such fun!

Another cold NYE was spent in Helsinki, with Jenny and Katie. This was part of our Xmas in Sweden trip, and the start of Katie visiting me in the middle of my time away.

Rounding out at 5 would have to be the NYE spent at our house in Phnom Penh. A group of us that stayed in the city for the night gathered at my big house, with marble downstairs as our dancefloor, and the front yard held our long table for drinks, drinking games, and silliness. A hot one, but a great night. I remember we actually did the countdown at a bar, of which I cannot remember the name now, and that's about as long as I lasted. Too much gin, it turned out! Ha!

NYE is meant to be fun! And large!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cricket and the Road

Yesterday I was in the car for work, driving to Hamilton and back, and when I got in and tuned the radio to the cricket, I was sure that by my first stop in Lake Bolac, it would be all over. What a cracking day's cricket!

This is a sight that caught my eye on the drive. I thought I could post some of the great sights out there on the road, in a little show of appreciation to the regional Vic that is now going to be my bread and butter!

Since my move to Ballarat office, I will be the Psych Consultant servicing the whole of regional Victoria, branching from Ballarat and Bendigo. So, many many roadtrip treasures to be spotted and enjoyed!

This was taken in a little town that really flashed by, between Lake Bolac and Hamilton.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Kylie come down to Melbourne to find my place, and me working from home, yesterday afternoon, which kicked off our trek into town. We grabbed some dinner and beers along Bourke Street, as we watched the line at The Palace grow, and soon shuffle in.

Big Scary were up first, and thus we made our way into the cavernous venue, based on recommendations and musical similarities from Last.fm. Now last.fm is a bit of a music bible for me these days, but the idea they this band was similar to Hungry Kids was way off! OK, maybe one song sounded like our Brisbane band.

Big Scary were a guy who looked like John Mayer, and sounded like he was trying to channel Jeff Buckley at times, with a girl drummer. The sound was all over the place, and sadly not the find we had expected.

But then, to a growing male dominated crowd, UK's Editors arrived on stage. Being a fan of their middle released album, I was keen to hear their new stuff, for a taste and perhaps the push to purchase. The tracks from An End Has A Start, alas, were the standouts of the night, with the title track of this album really bringing this set to life as song 2. Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors was also a great track for the night. The new tracks brought an electro 80s pop feel, which given some other bands playing around with this feel, seems to be on it's way back.

The crowd were very into the 90 minute set, with hands aloft and clapping from ground and surrounding stairways. Tom Smith's voice was commanding throughout, and his theatrical movement on stage was fascinating, if a little disturbing!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Rain and Raining Wickets at the SCG

Getting into Sydney after two long flights, I was picked up from the airport by Belinda, and taken straight to the Olympic Hotel for a beer with the Waving The Flag. Here we exchanged stories about the last test, and world trips to be taking in this new year. Always a dangerous group to hang out with when the travel bug is biting!

I had contacted Jess and Andrew late in the day between flights, and they managed to come and join us for a beer crawl up Oxford Street, before we found a curry place - one of Bumble's Sydney test traditions. It was great to see the Wilson's, who have just returned home from their time in the UK, and working on setting up home again.

Belinda and I made our way in the morning yesterday to the SCG, for the start of play....and watched as the drizzle fall and the big covers stayed on the centre of the ground.

With nothing happening until 2pm, except for the Milo Cricket kids getting out and playing in the Lunch Break, Shane and I started our rounds of mid strength beer for the day farly early.

When the drizzle stopped enough to get a toss, and the start of play, we were all stunned as Aussie wicket after wicket tumbled. In fact, all 10! For just 127. Ouch!

Pakistan started their innings as light stopped play for the day, just after 6.30pm. Belinda, Justin and I made our way to the Coogee Bay Hotel. I had just enough time to buy Bumble a beer for her birthday, and have one myself, before rushing out to the airport for my flight home, and the end of my week off. Happy Birthday, Shelia!

Lovely Humps!

Part of our relaxing New Years Day, apart from time in the plunge pool, time in air conditioned comfort, and back in the private pool again, was to get down to Cable Beach for a ride on the camel train. We got down to the sand and joined our train with the Red Sun Camels, and were taught how to get up on the saddles, between the humps, two per camel.

Wendy and I were on Jabba, who with his brothers had walked in a train like this one from Alice Springs, to start his working life on Cable Beach. Nick and Melissa were behind us, on a slobbering camel, and we soon found that Jabba liked to get very close to the girls in on the camel in front of us!

Instructed to lean back while the camels stood from their seated position, we were soon ambling along the sand, all in line. The train of about 16 camels walks over the rocks and dry sand of Cable Beach, through the Nudist Beach area, and along the waters edge.

Being brought back to sand from the camel's back, we then made our way to the Sunset Bar for cocktails as the sun disappeared into the sea (and clouds!).

Our destination for the evening was a return to Matso's, for dinner, which was amazing. And then we sampled many of the beers on offer - a Raspberry beer, a special for the New Year, then the Monsoonal Blonde, followed by the very refreshing Ginger Beer, and topped with the very yummy Mango Beer. All so very good!

Our Broome time was over the next morning, as I put the peg leg on, and gave myself a cexane injection for the day of flying. We dropped the car, and checked in to Perth, where I boarded a plane for Sydney, Nick to Melbourne, and Melissa and Wendy off to Geraldton to continue chasing the cruise ship around WA.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Decade!

Amazingly, we made our flight in the wee hours of the morning, and Nick, Melissa, Wendy and I had 2 long flights from Melbourne to Perth, Perth to Broome, with a layover at Perth airport timely enough for us to see the opening session of the final day of the cricket.

We were sweating with the heat and humidity from the moment we set foot on ground! We grabbed our hire car, and made our way to our 5 star, 2 bedroom apartment for the next couple of nights, at The Pearle. Gorgegous! Complete with our own private plunge pool, if you don't mind!

The girls took Nick and I on a bit of a tour of Broome, with a beer overlooking Cable Beach at Zanders, before we made our way around to Gantheaume Point to check out the casts of dinosaur prints, and Anastasia's Pool - made by the lighthouse man for his arthritc wife, in the rock formations overlooking the ocean.

A beer at Matso's Brewery, and another one at the dodgy Roey, complete with misted water over punters in the beer garden - no water restrictions here! Getting supplies for our stay, we had a big BBQ cook up, a dip in the pool, with beer and wine.

Yesterday I helped out the girls with the passengers of the cruise ship docked for the day, which was their actual purpose for the trip. And haven't worked that hard in years, and years! Standing along side the ship all day, in the beating, sweating heat, we directed passangers to tours and shuttles into town. It reminded me why I don't really like people that much - such complainers!! And a little glimpse into Melissa's job when she's out of the office, travelling around.

Getting back to our apartment to wash, de-sweat, and finally get off our feet for a minute, we saw in the Melbourne New Year with beers, and Sydney fireworks on the tv. We then headed our to work friend's of Melissa's for a BBQ gathering, and NYE celebrations. Not a bad way to see in 2010.

After midnight, and hearing that the nightspots of Broome close at 1pm, we voted for getting back to our apartment and finishing off our bottles of wine in the pool. Happy 2010!
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