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.