Wednesday, June 15, 2011

She'll be my summer girl...


Falling in love is easy in the summer. It’s a time when girls start to bring out short shorts, cute sandals, summer dresses, their flushed cheeks a beaming reminder of their need to be immersed in seawater. Boys start to get way too loose and lazy with shirt wearing, and, frankly, I like a short swimming trunk on a man. Everyone is hotter in summer, both literally and visually. That’s why there’s such a thing as the summer fling! When you throw caution and clothing to the wind and delve into summer time, casual fantasies. I’m not saying you’re getting all loose and lazy with your morals, but summer time feels like the right time to experiment with love. Summer means uncompromising and fantastical summer loving.

As a teenager I always wanted a summer time boyfriend. Unfortunately most of my summers were spent trying to avoid whatever winter time boy I’d had a dalliance with in the local Coles (avoiding him IN the local Coles, this wasn’t the place where the dalliance took place, although I did succumb to some mid range groping in the freezer section one late night shopping Thursday…). What limited summer holidays my family took generally involved an 11 hour kombi ride to regional Victoria jammed next to six siblings, with ABC cricket commentary as background noise. What I really wanted was to be taken away to a romantic and sun drenched destination, filled to the brim with hot and bronzed summer flings. Why? Because in Sweet Valley High the twins were always off having summer boyfriends. In Malibu Summer, for instance, Jessica was totally trying to get off with bronzed Cliff Sherman. Would Cliff have been as hot if he wasn’t bronzed? And would he have been bronzed after months in a long sleeved cardigan? No, and no. Where was my Cliff Sherman?? Certainly not delivering crates of vegetables to my Grandpa’s house in Pakenham, Victoria (which was one unrealistic fantasy).



So, bar one regrettable pash session with a random at a summer music festival, I never had my summer fling. Others have been more lucky… here are some of the more memorable summer romances:



Summer lovin’ had Danny and Sandy a blast. Remember when they were all rolling around in the sea on their summer holiday romance? Come school time the summer loving wasn’t quite so fresh… especially because Sandy was a big square until she discovered leather pants.



Are you kidding me? Before Sunrise, the most dead set romantic summer romance. How else could Ethan and Julie have stayed out all night discussing existentialism? (They covered that, right? It was hard to follow…) I’m not an expert, but I don’t think winter nights in Vienna offer quite the same ambiance or access to deserted water fountains.



Do you remember how sweaty and awesome Patrick Swayze was in Dirty Dancing? Picture him now not in the mostly shirtless way, but in a skivvy and tracksuit pants, rugging up for the night. Not quite the love man anymore.

Do you have your very own favourite, fictional summer fling? If yes, do tell…  I actually ran out of examples around Swayze (which deserves another pic, don’t you think?)



London tomorrow, it’s a whole other blog post. About how the SEASONS LIE AND SUMMER DOESN’T EXIST IN THIS COUNTRY.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Never again...

I would probably wake up once every month and proclaim, “That is it. I am NEVER drinking again”. This reaction may or may not be caused by moments like this:

"I was having the TIME OF MY LIFE" - Kelly Collier (pictured)

The morning after nearly always brings a heavy weight of regret, disappointment and a bullshit headache. “Why did I drink that last head sized cocktail? Why did I assume that just because I’ve seen people break dance, and did eight months of beginner's tap, I can head spin? When I pantomimed the story of the outdoor shower I was forced to use as a child, did I really hit the punch line?” And so on.

Inevitably though, we’ll always go back for more. There are lots of reasons we jump back on the booze bus, even when we swear black, blue and hypercolour that no drop shall ever touch our lips again. Mostly it’s a lack of will power, but the other factor? You’ll never guess…

Its 33 degrees and you’re getting out of work a little early on a Thursday night. The sun is gently sinking, you spot a huge free table in your local pub beer garden, friends start arriving in vast numbers, and you end up smashing 10 ice cold beers and locking and popping your way home.


Its 9 degrees, blustery and wet, but you’re oh so cosy inside your weekend abode, with its roaring fire, cheese board and bottle of red. Another glass? Why not. In fact, we should probably just open another bottle and then eat this entire block of toblerone. Night cap of port? Having never actually drank port, nor feel like trying it, of course! Make mine a double. Of port.

It’s the WEATHER which makes you do it. Like when people go all rogue with their sprinkler systems in the heat or wear the most ridiculous outfits in the cold (turtle necks), the external forces of nature dictate our drinking habits. Why else do you think Australians are so renowned for their beer drinking habits? Its 24 degrees in the winter, that’s why.

As we approach a mild (to say the least) start to summer in the UK, the desire for sickly sweet fruit cider begins, dangerous cocktail ideas start brewing (anyone for an ‘Angry Russian’? It’s mostly just straight vodka, but the glass is really tall), and every shopping list ends with BEER. We try, but often we’re unable to resist the lure of weather booze. You have every good intention, I know, but when the temperature planets align, one thing is certain. You, glass, headache. *

The weather. A vicious contributor to our most damaging inadequacies. Damn it.

London tomorrow, let's not talk about the summer. Instead, pass me one of those Angry Russians...

* A massive disclaimer here that if you do, genuinely, have a drinking problem, don’t blame the weather. It will be super unproductive and will only add to the external perception of your insanity. Only crazy people blame the weather for their problems, and you’re not crazy, right?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We are family!

A journey back to the family home this week had me uncharacteristically surprised (I write a lot of lists and check every room in my house four times before going on holiday, surprise and I never go for coffee). It wasn’t the jet lag, the seeing of people I went to school with who now have about 18 children or the fact that my mother called me to check up on THE DOG, it was the weather. I came totally unprepared for the climate change presented to me.

When you spend most of your childhood in one place, you pretty much think you own it. From the road rage you feel when driving with non locals, to the best bakery (Pt Elliot) or knowing if you order a schooner or a pot, you feel a sense of unique familiarity and comfort on arrival in your home town. That is until you turn up in open toe shoes and a cardigan when you should be sporting that Icelandic knit you so love.

With a confidence akin to my recent foray into mini van pole dancing I bounced into my old city with a spring in my step not weighed down by the fortunate burden of additional clothing (much like my pole dancing). This decision proved to be one of the worst a weather watcher can make, as I was chilled to the bone in a freezing whirlwind (weather to the extreme!!) trip that crossed two Australian states. What was I expecting? Put simply, warmth. I hadn’t been away for that long, roughly over a year, but what greeted me on arrival (apart from lovely smiles and grown up babies) was the pre-winter chill I had completely forgotten about.



From this week at ‘home’ I deduced that we acclimatise to our current surroundings, subtly influencing our weather muscle memory (which is definitely not something I just made up). We buy clothes to adapt to our new surrounds, we use heaters in a way our mother would never have approved of (“just put on a jumper”), we know what it means to include parsnips in our diet and we begin using the new weather vernacular common in our adopted home. Sounds obvious, I know, but when we become used to our new environment we seem to forget the one we were formally familiar with, which stands in complete contrast to our ownership of it when we return.

My newly developed home time weather ignorance made me think about what else surprises us on a return visit to the family abode. Is it the greying hair on our parents? (Damn straight. They don’t call my Dad ‘Richard Branson’ for nothing. And by ‘they’ I mean my brothers. ‘They’ also call him Old Man Winter. Poor guy). Is it the fact that there’s a new dog on the scene to replace the one which died 2 months ago, a small piece of news every family member thought they’d told you but didn’t? (Yes. See aforementioned ‘checking in’ on the new dog…) Is it that your brothers now showcase a commanding physical presence but still refuse to pack the dishwasher or be designated driver? It’s all of the above and everything else, the small changes that develop in an environment which, in essence, always feels the same.

So besides knowing I’m not winning a packing room prize anytime soon, this climate change made me feel a little more distant from my home. Not in a bad way, in fact it was almost in a more inviting way. It’s like there’s still more the ol’ hometown can teach us, and that maybe, just maybe, there’s a local veggie pasty on offer better than one you discovered 10 years ago.

Adelaide tomorrow, I’d actually be okay with open toed shoes and Basil* certainly won’t be needing his puppy jumper…



* Not an actual photo of Basil, but close enough.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Smug in the sun.


I’ve recently been introduced to a little habit called the ‘humble brag’. The humble brag is a not so subtle way of big upping yourself, whilst being seemingly self deprecating or modest. For instance: “Oh, my pants keep falling down, I really need a smaller size…” or “It was SO awkward being hit on in the line for the chemist. I mean, I was buying tampons, come on guy! Enough!” The humble brag is like the backhanded compliment; its real intentions have a little more sting than the actual pointy end.

The weather “humble brag” happens when we’re on holiday. In order to have the best holiday ever we need weather so good it mocks everyone still at work. If we’re offered what we believe is our Mother Nature given right we need to ensure we don’t LOOK like we’re bragging, so soften the brag blow with a complaint/whine. Facebook is the perfect vehicle for this: “Trying to relax in the pool at resort in Fiji, but the couple next to us keep arguing about what they’re ordering from the bar. UGH”. Or “Wow, jogging in the Caribbean in 29 degree heat is SO much harder than at home. I’m in pain. SADFACE”. This will often be accompanied by a photo of said gorgeous beach, with an ice cold beer placed strategically in foreground.

The Guardian newspaper wasn’t quite this humble about their weather bragging last week. They probably could have added a pinch of that to the smugness they dished up when delivering these headlines…





Yep, England has been sunny. Like, unseasonably sunny. So sunny that you suckers who chose to chase the probable Easter sun in Spain, SPAIN!, are un-English, have no faith in your country’s ability to produce golden rays and are probably a little bit simple (that’s what I read in the subtext. You?) Reporters and punters alike have been unable to contain their smug, English pride in the glowing weather and have been grabbing the back of necks left, right and centre for a good old fashioned nose rubbing. I’ve deduced that the English become SUPER smug about nice weather because their normal expectation is something altogether different. It’s like when you take a long haul flight and find yourself uncomfortably seated next to a sick, cranky baby, but then the baby ends up being drugged and sleeping the whole time and it has a hot single Dad who doesn’t want his desert so gives it to you and it’s the first class dessert because they ran out of economy sludge and you look like you deserve the best and they’re playing four movies you haven’t seen but really wanted to and you also sleep for 14 hours. That kind of surprise event.

This past Friday, when a certain WEDDING event took place, weather watchers were so focused on predicting the exact second, weight and dimensions of the rain which would most definitely fall and how it’s watery presence would RUIN EVERYTHING that when a sliver of sun oozed out during the unveiling of the newly married couple, warming their faces for the ENTIRE duration of the open coach ride, disaster (people were using this word in all seriousness) was averted. The commentary (and I’m paraphrasing here, mostly because I cannot be bothered sifting through photos of Beatrice and Eugenie’s head creations to find the actual quote) went a little something like this: “Here are the royal couple, stepping out of Westminster Abbey, and now, as expected, out comes the sun. It’s chosen to shine on this incredible celebration, as if Mother Nature herself is showering the royal union with her very own gifts. What a truly amazing British day”*. A little smug in the sun, England?

Whether you approach it with humility or not, I like giving the weather credit for making a nice day. It’s also quite fun to have something that other people don’t. So did England deserve the bragging rights for turning it on over the past few weeks? Damn straight. Now can you believe I have to leave all this and get on a really long flight to Australia next week? Ugh, my life sucks.

London tomorrow, seriously the idea that London is grey and rainy is a misnomer. Cold? Yes. Raining? Um, nearly never…

* This is a gross misquote and is actually much more poetic than the original commentary. I just can't help but use effusive language when talking about the weather, I thought you knew that about me.




Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter. It's about springtime and bunnies, apparently.


So, we’re going to talk about Easter. Let’s ignore all the religious reasons for the holiday, because I neither understand nor are interested in them, and talk about the real meaning of Easter. Eggs and bunnies and daffodils. Behold.


Super cute bunnies who are clearly bringing presents.

Those bunnies are snug as in their egg shell playsuits, and why? It’s SPRING! Now I know Easter doesn’t fall across spring weather for all of us (I remember one infamous Easter egg hunt in ugg boots, not exactly spring time fun. It was made all the more challenging by my Dad insisting on directing us to the mother load via a series of cryptic clues that commonly referenced both out of date literature and geographical metaphors that none of us picked up on. Ultimately we felt we deserved more that the cache of hollow eggs and bunnies in bow ties we received as reward). You can’t deny, wherever your geography finds you, that our day of chocolate bounty is connected to flowering flowers, hypercolour eggs and bunnies being cute. (Or not, depending on the iconography…see below).

 

Super evil hares, who clearly want to eat that little yellow bird.

Spring carries with it a feeling of new life and fertility. We all know bunnies are mad for it and that eggs are a symbol of fertility, so if we look at the overall reasons for our April egg madness (which for some reason we are, this blog had turned into a Yr 11 debate topic) it seems Easter is a celebration of Spring (I can see this is a rather loose interpretation and possibly a conclusion drawn only for my benefit).

I do admit the appearance of chocolate as the Easter food of choice is about as confusing as the religious Easter, but it seems somehow that the holiday bunnies were laying coloured eggs (which must be tough on their mammalian reproductive system) and then the eggs turned into chocolate. Hmmm, does anyone else feel a little like we’re caught in a multi-generational game of Chinese Whispers? (Do I feel a bit concerned about writing that title? Yes. Am I sure that the game “Chinese Whispers” is offensive to possibly everyone? Yes.)

Now that I’m in the Northern Hemisphere and can see the truly amazing days spring on this side has to offer, the Easter celebration makes a lot more sense (even the chocolate). The days are so joyous, the grass so lush, it’s all you can do to not start building your own nests, gathering daffodils to decorate and finding the nearest stranger to procreate with. This could actually explain the distinct lack of clothing in a London park on a 20 degree day…

Ultimately I’m happy for any reason to celebrate the weather. If this means I need to adamantly defend the right of rabbits to defy their natural calling by delivering chocolate goods in small coloured waistcoats, then so be it.

London tomorrow…we have been so sun blessed that the idea of a 19 degree is positively disappointing. Back to scowling and wearing all black thanks. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Who's saving who?


Most of the world partook in the joys and woes of daylight savings this week. For those of us who gained an hour of sunlight, cheers to us, for those who lost, better luck next time. Daylight savings is the double-edged sword on the seasonal battlefield. When you lose that hour of sleep, but subsequently gain an hour of sunlight, you’re torn. You want to celebrate the coming golden age of late night frolics but you’re SO pissed about losing that one extra sleep hour you stage an angry bed in, thus robbing yourself of the longer exposure to the rays. When the pendulum swings the other way you’re all ode to joy about the hour sleep in, super smug that you not only had an extra 60 minutes of dozing but you also haven’t wasted the day and have time to fill it with baking, helping children, or watching Buffy. That smugness is washed away with the encroaching 4pm sun set.

I’ve noticed some parts of the world take a rogue stance on the saving of light (Africa and Asia for example, or one half of Australia). They seem to be comfortable with the declining daylight hours and instead of deceiving themselves with tricks of the swatch they confront the challenge head on and laugh in the face of actual darkness. As much as I like the idea of being super brave and not afraid of the dark, I think I like the idea of being ‘given’ light a little more. It’s a special moment when you look at the clock and realise it’s 5:00pm (but guys, it looks like 3:30pm!!) and you start to excite yourself with the growing potential for longer outdoor activities and open windows.


Iceland are the ultimate daylight savers, experiencing 24 hour daylight around the summer solstice. Above is an awesome Iceland sunrise, and is probably one of the best photos I've ever taken. I'm also bragging that I've been to Iceland. Who goes to Iceland?? Me. 

For those of us who have the daylight awards saver account, have you ever done it, live? Like, actually acknowledged the moment? Imagine that! You’re having a quiet mojito, the clock creeps it’s way towards 2am and all of a sudden, TIME SHIFTS. You are actually, live, in a time machine. Next year you could make this a real event. You could hold a ‘back to the future’ style party where everyone needs to dress in the past, or the future (depending on where you’re going), everyone will have an iPhone, so you can watch time change itself LIVE, and you’ll make jokes all night about how that ‘was so one hour ago’.  If I were at that party I would look around with really wide eyes as it happened and annoy everyone with huge statements about how we were travelling through time, and what is time anyway, and why are the Mayans freaking me out so much with their impending apocalypse just because their didn’t have enough pages in their calendar? The time travel thing would take me a while to let go, much like every new years eve, when I scream HAPPY NEW YEAR! fairly constantly until at least 2am.

We digress, but the growing light IS something to celebrate, parties or not. When we talk about ‘feeling light’ it’s a sensation we associate with freedom, a lack of worry, good digestion, all very good things. When we feel dark it’s signifying a displacement, a burgeoning anger, that little, undefinable thing which serial killers and ugly babies have… Thus, lightness is goodness.

So as I write this at 5:30pm I remember a time when the afternoon felt like midnight, the house like a dank cave, and the TV like a companion. Now, when the sunlight begins to bounce off the cutlery during a late night dinner, when the red sun sinks below houses as I yawn and change for bed, when we hear what I thought were birds chirping until 9pm (they’re bats) I’m thankful that someone thought enough to save a little daylight for me. 


Thanks for going back to the future Marty. It helped a lot. 

Hamburg tomorrow, would have been nice to have been there a day earlier. Maybe some of those golden rays would have stuck around in people’s smiles. Ahhhh… Be happy Germany.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

These boots are made for walking, running and spontaneous/difficult dance moves.

There was a full blown mission to be accomplished this week. I needed to find boots. The kind of footwear which fit my exact style and vision, at the cost of all else (which also didn’t cost… a lot). This drive was born from frustration and wet feet, and was getting so chokingly bad I was blaming random shoe salesmen and fellow shoppers for their inadequate meeting of my needs. The timing was key and, like everything, I undertook this task a little too late. You see, you need to get new boots NOW in London, so you benefit from their even coverage and no holes during the tail end of winter weather, but then transition smoothly through the lighter tights weather of spring and into some serious boots with dress action for summer. Time was running out.


So why did I leave it so long? I’ve been processing this, and it could be that I’m bad at letting things go. Not emotionally (give me a repressed memory and I will show that sucker the door in less than five minutes), but materially. I also give myself far too many props in the fields of handiwork. For example, I have been known to not purchase something purely because “I could make it”, or force myself to eat 6 day old risotto (I was FINE). The boots situation had gotten this desperate after too many years ignoring the growing chasm (read: heinous rip) in my old boot faithfuls. In the interest of keeping these soles active for as long as possible we had been through three different superglue interventions, including the infamous day the glue turned chalky white and I coloured over it with a black sharpie.




I didn’t think this prolonging of the slow and painful shoe death was necessarily a bad thing but then today, in a work meeting, I looked down and realised I was wearing a bracelet glued in not one, but two places. The gluemanship was amateur at best. I glanced around casually, wondering if anyone had spotted this DIY repair. Actually, on looking down, did they also spy the hem on my brown skirt, which I’d happily mended with large, childish stitches and RED THREAD? Where was the brown thread when I’d embarked on this crafty alteration and why the hell did I decide red was a worthy substitute? Panicking, I tried to determine if the naked eye could also see I was wearing two pairs of socks, each placed strategically over the other’s holes. My colleagues were judging me, I could tell. Bastards.


In the meeting (which was SO LONG AND BORING) I also remembered the last formal work party I went to, when I wore awesome red earrings. One of them was stuck together with sticky tape. Then I had a flash back of the cardigan I wore for a year, with its oversized, loose lining bunched together in a hair tie. Every time I leant backwards I had to adjust to get the knot away from my kidneys. As a final insult to my many self-inflicted injuries I began rummaging for my free sample lip gloss and realised I was carrying a teeny in your bag umbrella (see the ode to umbrellas here) which was harnessed shut by a red elastic band, its two broken spindles sticking out wildly. Do I get caught out in the rain? Yes. Do I care enough to actually purchase a new brolly? Apparently not.


Doing a bit of research I’ve found the affliction of frugalness/apathy isn’t just mine to bear. A friend (who lives in Berlin… *cough*) admitted to not only having the same issue with boot finding, but that her holes had gotten so bad she was wearing PLASTIC BAGS ON HER FEET. (Inside the damaged footwear, yes, but really the above sentence pretty much spells insanity). Now that you’re reading this you’re remembering your own frugal sins, aren’t you? The bag held together with safety pins (in a non post punk way), the missing button(s) on your favourite shirt, the fact that you’re told to change your mascara every three months but you still use the free one your friend Neha gave you over a year ago… well welcome to the club!


I’m not sure if this revelation has does anything to change my approach to replacing personal goods but it does make me think it’s advisable to be a little more on top of things, to hopefully stop the weather getting on top of you…


Berlin tomorrow (the home of boot finding) if it’s in intervals or not, there’s still sun. And warmth! Embrace Berliners.




PS. I did find boots. But for some reason I’m wearing the old holey ones again today? LET IT GO KEELEY.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm having a love affair with this ice cream sandwich...

...or food you love in the right time of year.

The weather dictates many things. Our mood, our clothes, our desire to leave the house or get intimate with our partners (it does, doesn’t it? Everyone?). It also influences the food we buy, consume, crave and grow. Summer salads, winter soups, seasonal fare, all of this is dependent on a certain kind of weather.

So here are currently the best things to eat in…

THE SUMMER
Ice cream, icey things, iced something else and strawberries.


Summertime is a bitter sweet, double edged, food eating paradise, because it’s too damn hot to eat the plethora of delicious goods on offer. Anything with dairy (which isn’t frozen) makes you feel like you’ve been rolling around in fatty, creamy unsexy mud wrestle (which is NEVER sexy, contrary to popular (mens’) belief) and anything warmer than room temperature is like a hot iron scalding your parched lips (melodramatic, no?). In light of this we need the freshest, juiciest, most crunchy foods we can get our unmittened mitts on.

Best summer recipe:


http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2010/08/raspberry-and-goats-milk-yogurt-popsicles/

This is from Joy the Baker, who is indeed both joyful and bakes. In this case, she is freezing.



WINTERY GOODNESS
Soupy soups, soupy stews, soupy anything else.


Eating seasonally means having to ‘weather’ the less productive months, eg the barren land of winter. Living in England this spells root vegetables. And more root vegetables. The amount of damn root vegetables you get delivered starts to get a little unwelcome come Feb. I’ve now developed a hearty dislike of parsnips after one too many root vegetable “curries” and also concur that brussels sprouts have limited serving possibilities. We must push our gumboot feet through the roots and find winners like this little gem.

Best winter recipe:


http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/11/brussel-sprouts-and-chestnuts-in-brown-butter/


This is from Deb, my favourite all rounder, who seems to love brussels sprouts. But she calls them brussel sprouts. I want to trust her, but I'm so confused!!


SPRING
Anything pink, dewy and fresh, which looks like a welcome smile.


Spring, you joyous time. When tiny bud heads start to poke out of the ground like a cheeky reminder of fun to come (they're also full of euphemism). Asparagus is back! Greenery! Tomatoes which taste like bursts of joy! This is the time to celebrate with diverse recipes (chuck a pomegranate in a salad, you rogue) and paying full attention to detail on the presentation. Like little flowers and stuff.


Best spring recipe:


http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/roseproseccococktail_93583


Don’t be put off by the many steps in Sophie’s recipe. It’s totally worth it.


AUTUMN

Everything wholesome and good in the world.


When the reds and greens start to become purple and browns, you start to get a bit autumnal with your cooking too. This pretty much means beetroot. Be warned though. You’ll be super happy about eating from the depths of the earth, all like ‘how awesome is it that we have beets again! I can’t wait for the parsnip/brussels sprout casserole I’m about to whip up!’ and then comes Feb…

Best Autumn recipe:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/other-recipes/early-autumn-minestrone-minestrone-d-ini


Couldn't name check Jamie but not use him as a resource, right?





Seasonal eating can be tough (life, hey?), and I know that we’re not all Jamie Oliver type characters when it comes to the kitchen. What I do know though, is that the weather should be our good food guide. Finding a pineapple 4 weeks into winter? Be suspicious…very suspicious. Check out websites like this to find out a little more about choice seasonal eating.http://www.slowfood.com/


New York tomorrow, it’s almost t-shirt weather!! Actually screw it, its t-shirt weather. Ignore the softly falling rain and the fact that you’re actually cold. It’s SPRING!


*
When I say best I mean right now, in this second, and not for all time. I reserve the right to change my mind any day, week or hour.


This blog is dedicated to a special new member of the world. Welcome Milo Charlie Gallagher! Learn to read quickly so you can up my viewing stats.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why do they call it spring cleaning?

We’ve just hit a fantastic date in the weather watching calendar, when Mother Nature decides to slip in to something a little more comfortable. Yep, the seasons are a changin’, and spring is sprung for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. A costume change is also happening for you in the South (as it tends to in this topsy, turvy world), offering a like chance to ready your homestead for the coming new temperatures. Are you ready for a fierce spring clean, or to free your winter woollies from their moth ball beds?

Sustaining the energy for these seasonal cleaning jobs can be difficult. How many times have you gotten half way through removing mould from your grouting using white vinegar and a toothbrush only to wish you’d just painted the black marks with white-out? In the interest of rescuing you from the house cleaning blues, here are a few home tips to add inspiration and organisation to your yearly clean out.


TAKING IT TOO FAR


• Cleaning your oil burner. I have a friend who did this, which is actual insanity. It’s like cleaning the inside of a fire place. 

• Dusting the top of doors. The 1960’s are over (which I presume was the time people swept door top debris into their pans, along with a dream to ever be anything more than a damn housewife whose primary goal is finding the perfect table centrepiece. If Mad Men has taught us anything it’s this, and that a high level of body hair isn’t a turn off if it’s on Jon Hamm.)

• Under the bed. Meh.

• Establishing a CD catalogue system involving stickers, library cards and an overwhelming need to explain the placement of Dr Albarn next to Jeff Buckley. This says more about you than you know…



THINGS YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GET TO AND QUIT AVOIDING


• Bottom of the bin. You’re in denial that bin juice has most definitely found its insidious way through the bin bag and is now making a happy liquid home in the bottom of your receptacle.

• That awkward space around the bottom of the toilet. No long handled implement can access this notorious spot, admit it. This is a hands and knees, face near the bowl kind of job. Hmmm this first, or the bin juice? What choice!

• Receipts. If they’re out dated, get rid of them. Especially the ones from the early 2000s which are so faded you can’t actually tell what you bought but you think it’s a best of Crowded House CD, a packet of malteasers and bandaids. What kind of shop were you in that stocked all those things?

• Go through the everything drawer. I once found three mosquito coils, a sparkler, the Pretty Woman soundtrack on cassette and a dead cockroach. Imagine all the cool things tucked away in yours!!



THINGS YOU SHOULD ALREADY BE DOING


• Fridge assessment. Those happy carrots hanging out in the veggie drawer have an unseen side. That would be the side sporting the mould beard. Also once, at a friend’s mum’s, we found a jar of chutney which expired in 1998. Still looked good.

• Freezer. Same as above really. You probably have no idea what it originally was, but now it all looks the same… white.

• Sock drawer clean out. I realised the other day I was wearing fluffy cartoon heart socks. I’m a 30 year old woman.

• Medicine cabinet. Medicine goes off, we’re told. This might be bullshit, so sometimes you think its okay to drop a couple panedine forte from 2005. It probably isn’t.


So aside from channelling a bit of Martha Stewart (minus the actual help and jail time Martha would have brought) I hope you’ve found this guidance and inspiration for your yearly sprucing helpful. Now you just need to find your perfect cleaning soundtrack and polish your halo.



London tomorrow (on this second day of Spring!) as long as you’re not out at 3am, it’ll be sunny skies. Spring time frolicking begin!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Celebrities tweeting about the weather.


I know what you think sometimes. This is not in a creepy, ‘every breath you take’ way, I just know that you occasionally read this blog and have a little, niggling voice of doubt. It’s possibly saying “Not EVERYTHING is about the weather. Jess just can’t take any topic and connect it in some loose and often dubious way to how we’re all ‘affected’ by the weather and need to be more respectful and in awe of it’s awesomeness. I mean, preachy much?” Well yes, I know we can be drawing the occasional long bow in aligning the weather with absolutely everything in our lives. I can however demonstrate how its burly ways affect everyONE, with some random celebrities tweeting about the weather. 


Stephen Colbert, speaking for the everyman. And shoe retailers.


Peter Serafinowicz takes weather analogies to a graphic new level. 


Kanye DEFINITELY read my post on peaking too early, and obviously concurs with the sentiment. I feel Kanye and I have a lot in common, aside from the fact this is one of his only tweets I actually understand.  


Wayne Coyne takes a break from posting naked pictures of his wife to chat about the weather! If you’d like to see regular naked pictures of his wife, feel free to follow.


Radiohead weather metaphor! They are changing the face of EVERYTHING.


I really wish she was talking about the weather here. I don’t think she is. YOU’RE WASTING TWITTER LILY.


That’s better. 

And to end on a serious note:


I haven’t read this article, but I’m sure its full of positive studies about how summer is just one long party. Thanks Al! 

Celebrities. Even they love the weather. 

London tomorrow, see aforeposted Peter Serafinowicz tweet. And then throw up in your wellies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Beautiful People


Made a discovery today. Copenhagen, Denmark, is full of beautiful, healthy looking, envy inspiring natives. The local Copenhagians glide around their gorgeously designed city with the aura of the blessed. Girls zoom by on fire engine red bikes, skin glowing, flaxen hair floating, angel dust sprinkled across their golden brown cheeks. The men stroll, with calm eyes and strong shoulders, their hands weathered by soft breezes. All of this physical poetry was simply a lovely sight for London weary eyes (no offence). What is it about this place? There can’t be anything in the water, so it has to be the weather. (Good deduction, non?)

We've talked before about the weather making a city. Nature's turns, and our need to adapt to them, are a huge part of how we've evolved into the gorgeous beings (speak for yourself Danes) we are today. It's one reason folk with darker skin come from deserty areas and why gingers should only live in Scotland. And it turns out the weather influence in Denmark is pretty darn handsome. 

Today people were joyful. They were all song of joy, just bursting with it, in minus 2 degree weather. Maybe its because the sun was shining and their city looked gorgeous, but I prefer to think it's because they were able to picnic on ice. This isn't some kind of all in community icecapade, but is quite literally the locals having a snack, while sitting on solid ice. Copenhagen has celebrated the changes in weather so much that when the city's lakes (there are 5 of them) freeze over, it’s no time to bitch and moan and watch all 86 episodes of The Sopranos. It's a chance to take shortcuts (on your bike), to meet friends for a chat halfway, and to park yourself, blanket and all, for a quick canapĂ© on the ice. When traversing a lake Jesus style becomes a reality, the Danes cuddle the opportunity to their naturally gorgeous bosom.



So why does this make them good-looking? Well happiness breeds loveliness, generally in the face area. And why are they so happy? It could be the delightful description of the climate from goscandinavia.com. Denmark's weather is quite mild and the climate of Denmark is temperate, made mild by mostly west winds and by the seas surrounding Denmark almost entirely. The winters are not particularly cold and the summers are mild.” You know what that’s the equivilent of saying? Everythings fine. Everything is always fine.
The fact that they have a beach ripe for summer time swimming, and a bridge to go to Sweden, could also contribute to the potential for Denmark to breed the entire cast of Next Top Model.

Jaws dropped when we came across the stunning 6ft 2 amazon woman whose middle name was Muff. (Jaws were down more on the announcement of the middle name. They scrapped the floor when she told us the story of being 15 and researching her name history using her Christian minister Dad’s computer. She goggled muff, saw 'muff divers' appear as the lead search and thought she was possibly related to a clan of hard core* traditional food foragers. She watched not one, but two videos. She then spent the next week petrified her dad would be fired for accessing far too many muffs on the church patrolled laptop). After this meet we quickly saw that the Danish beauty delves below the skin, because the Danes seem super trusting (eg telling complete strangers your middle name story). People park their pushies unlocked, knowing they will definitely be there when they get back, and even leave their prams outside restaurants (on closer inspection this was sans child but I definitely think they would…). The weather seems to make the Danes rugged and strong, sun kissed and radiant, and smiley and kind. 

Are you looking around now wondering how your weather has evolved you? It’s there, you can’t avoid it. It might be your Dad’s permanent sock tan, your Uncle’s body hair covering him like a wet suit, or your webbed feet, but your weather has definitely made a part of you. It might not be the radiant godliness of the Danes, but hey, we can’t all be blessed.



Copenhagen tomorrow, more loveliness. They don’t even have rain, but have ‘sleet’. Because it’s more interesting than rain and you something to offset the gently falling snowflakes every once in a while...

*Possible inappropriate use of the term 'hard core' right there.    

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Smells like teen... um, I can't remember.

We had a musical challenge in our office this week. After a heated debate on the importance of Radiohead’s 'Ok Computer' (we are such wankers) the challenge was set to spend the weekend listening to a definitive album from another person’s youth. 

Luckily this isn’t a music blog (or you’d be hearing my review of Suede’s ‘Dog Man Star’ right now) but what this musical reminiscing did make me think of was how often the weather had been a part of our seminal music moments. (Of course I thought that…) When you draw on your favourite musical memories where does the weather feature? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find the answer is, more prominently than you think. 

Here are a few of my examples to help you jog the memory bank.
  • A scorching Adelaide Big Day Out wearing the skimpiest of outfits along with five girlfriends (clearly all matching). Trying to squeeze doc martin clad feet into a jammed pit for Smashing Pumpkins, sunburn and sweaty, huge, shirtless men with Southern Cross tattoos be damned. I WOULD be at the front for 1979.
  • The six hour, 13 chilly degrees line up for Red Hot Chili Peppers wearing naught but a Hole-era floral dress and the aforementioned doc martins, which turned into a sweet love affair with a boy and his Offspring hoody. Went downhill when a full beer was pegged at me for being a precocious little twat during Regurgitator’s support.
  • One summer (which coincidently is a great Darryl Braithwaite song from my youth) when I tried to sneak in underage to The Mavis’s concert in Victor Harbour and had a deluge of rain to thank for granting my passage. (Pitying security guard and sodden skirt over pants outfit also given gratitude.)  
  • The amazing weather performance during The Strokes at the Sydney Big Day Out, which saw them playing in a dramatic and violent thunderstorm only to be followed by Metallica and the weather turning it up and putting on a lightning show!! Exit light indeed.
  • The day I discovered Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’ and broke up with a boy, made all the bitter sweeter by the raining drifting like my tears down the bedroom window pane (okay I’m getting ridiculous here, and possibly channelling an episode of Dawson’s Creek. I don’t think this ever happened).

The point is that the weather can be a memory stimulator.  We feel the weather with all our senses. We hear the rain coming, we smell it’s scent on hot asphalt, we can taste it’s icy form, we watch it filling up puddles and feel it dampening our back as we run back from getting the washing in. The weather can help us conjure up a time, a place, a person, an outfit, an embarrassment, it helps us rebuild our memories in all it’s forms. 
What do you think the jogger is for you? Is it the night flower (I’ve been told it’s jasmine) whose scent wafts during the first, darkening nights of summer? Is it the gentle patter of rain above, transporting you back to your grandparent’s farm? Are the first icy winds of the coming winter making you want to pull out a photo album of browning polaroids and old Christmas cards? Well next time you reminisce, give the weather a little credit for bringing it all back.


Remember how awesome the weather was that time? 

London tomorrow, more of the quite pleasant winter weather we’ve been having, bit sunny, bit cloudy, bit chilly. There is a northerly a blowin’, so if you have a compass walk south. 



(And for those wondering, yes, I was told to listen to Suede’s 'Dog Man Star'. Never really being a Suede fan I found it surprisingly sophisticated and Bowie-esque. Myself? I passed on You Am I’s ‘Hourly, Daily’. Sigh.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The problem, you see, is the rain.

The amazing images coming from Queensland, Australia this week have been, quite frankly, amazing.  Don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced the kind of jaw dropping amazement which only comes from someone who had never ever thought bull sharks could swim their way down to the shops, and who absolutely cannot conceptualise the sheer size of the area affected by gushing, life taking water. A space larger than France and Germany, combined?? With news that 43 towns in Victoria have now experienced flooding (including my sister! renovated kitchen and all) we’re probably feeling that this is a once in a lifetime event. This has to be a tragedy that will never be repeated, it’s not like we need to get used to this kind of performance?

What’s interesting is that as Australians we SHOULD be used to the weather being this ferocious. We’ve regularly fielded the rough hand balls from Mother Nature which force us to live up to the endearment, ‘Aussie Battler’.  Sizzling droughts leading to destructive bushfires, force of a gale winds tearing roofs from houses, and of course the brown, murky waters of the flood. A recent piece in the UK’s Guardian has Germaine Greer asking “Australian floods: Why were we so surprised?” Greer describes the multiple warnings we’ve been given from Meteorologists over the past ten years about the ‘La Nina’ weather system. La Neens results in water-laden air dropping its cooling load over a land mass (Aus in this case) and apparently computer modelling has shown that this system would be super likely in 2010. There was even a comment from the Bureau in June last year giving us a six month heads up that it was going to be a wet one. 

Read about this in Germaine’s article

Aussies, do you remember this? Were you watching the ABC TV weatherman (I feel like his name is Graham? Is it? Still?) and were subsequently shocked into a pre-emptive action plan to protect your property, your family and your tomato plants from the coming deluge? Guesses are not, because as Australians we let that news wash over us (bad choice of words) for something to deal with on a rainy day (ohh, and again).  Was it the choice of words that stopped us from taking notice? If Graham had gesticulated madly and shouted, "Look Juanita, it is going to bucket down like you wouldn’t believe for MONTHS, resulting in people being able to surf on your front lawn", would we have been spurred into action? 

Germaine Greer has an opinion on our reasons for inaction (she is mad for an opinion) but I did find her an interesting choice of author for this article. She has long been an inspiration for a certain kind of woman, but never before had we seen potential for her as spokesperson for the weather watchers… until this paragraph:

“British people might think that they're rain experts. Truth is that they hardly know what rain is. The kind of cold angel sweat that wets British windscreens isn't proper rain. For weeks now rain has been drumming in my ears, leaping off my corrugated steel roof, frothing through the rocks, spouting off the trees, and running, running, running past my house and down into the gully, into the little creek, into the bigger creek, and on to the Nerang river and out to sea at Southport. “


Oh Germaine! The poetry! Seriously, angel sweat? I knew she could be a woman after my own heart, but she’s propelled herself into an entirely different league. This kind of descriptive weather watching is what likens this art to say, wine tasting. You drink in the elements, really taste them, and wait for the words to swim their way to your lips.

So, as a result of the scale of this flooding there’s now going to be a lot of discussion about government preparation, strategies and whether or not to mince words. That debate won’t rage here, but what we will look at it, with awe, is the enormity of the weather’s power and know to never take it for granted. Mother Nature is indeed a cruel mistress.




Frog riding a snake.  


London tomorrow, you don’t know what rain is! So when the forecast calls for ‘heavy rain’ don’t be fooled. You wont be meeting a flathead outside your office. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's raining men! (And birds. And some rain.)

It has been raining a weird amount of shit lately. Actual rain has seen water cover (using this word literally) an area the size of France AND Germany, but in Australia.  Snow is still falling (so sweetly) on much of northern England, and in Beebe, Arkansas, a blackbird storm hit town.

http://www.ignitionnews.com.au/2011/01/thousands-of-blackbirds-fall-from-sky-in-beebe
(Ignore the use of THOUSANDS in the headline, which is subsequently downgraded to hundreds in the bulk of the article. I’ve already sent this to media watch).


On New Years Eve ‘thousands’ of blackbirds fell from the sky in Beebe, in a terrifying night of fireworks of the worst possible kind. This raining birds thing is something I hope to never experience, having an extreme fear of birds (yes, from taking film studies), plus not feeling I really have the right kind of umbrella for such a day. We might have to prepare though, because this PT Anderson* moment doesn’t seem to be an isolated phenomenon. Avian raindrops have recently been seen falling across other parts of the US, and even Sweden. (I’m wary of the Swedes at the best of times and this, where birds are being piffed at your head from above, is surely not even close to the okay of times.) Why is the sky no longer holding up our feathered friends? (Not my friends, but possibly yours.)


A genuine signal of the end of the world, I hear you ask??  Birds rising up to take on their human oppressors with a really average, kamikaze style plan? Debate has raged, as it should, on the reasons why such an occurrence, occurred, and well know expert Kirk Cameron from Growing Pains added a pinch of his thoughts to the pot.


http://www.examiner.com/political-transcripts-in-national/kirk-cameron-bird-death-spin-more-pagan-mythology-than-christian-apocalypse


Kirk Cameron seems to be a religious spokesperson now, with about 80 (6) children. He suggests that falling birds as a religious sign of the apocalypse is more from pagan, rather than Christian, mythology, so don’t panic. He then complains about the state of American politics.


Thanks for that Kirk.  His even approach does make you think that whilst looking apocalyptic (like when you leave your house and don’t see any cars or people and for about 3 seconds you think you could be the only person left on earth, until, oops, there’s the postman) maybe there are more than terrifying, supernatural reasons for this bird rain.   

This is what national geographic have to say.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110106-birds-falling-from-sky-bird-deaths-arkansas-science/


Sensible and calm, as you’d expect for Nat G. They pretty much say birds lose it in flight all the time and it’s coincidental that these occurrences, occurred, during a pretty slow news day. They do sport this little sentence of joy in the report. "Young birds that hatch in the spring have an approximately 75 percent chance of not reaching their first birthdays.” Sucks to be a bird, even with the joy of flight.


So whilst being super creepy, and potentially disease riddled, whatever side you take there may not be anything to worry about with this whole animals being rain thing. Store your raining cats and dogs pants for another day.

*
 


London tomorrow, something has seriously changed for 9 degrees to feel positively balmy. It’ll be mild as tomorrow, but take a brolly in the off chance of something, anything (probably water), falling from the sky.