Tagged friends

What luck!

We were coming back from a stroll around the Botanic Gardens when we saw a bright green rectangle on the ground.

‘Hey, a Myki!’ Damjan bent down. Baby Mia, strapped to Damjan’s chest in the baby carrier, might have squawked as she tipped over.

‘Damjan, of all of us here you’re probably the one least able to pick it up,’ said Sean.

Cobi, Sean and I peered at the Myki in Damjan’s hand. It was a Seniors Myki.

‘Oh dear,’ I said. ‘I wonder if they’ll be able to get home?’

‘If they’ve registered the Myki, maybe we can get it back to them,’ said Cobi.

‘Hello!’ called a man powering up the steps towards us. ‘Did you pick up a Myki? I saw you bend down around the spot where my wife pulled out her phone twenty minutes ago.’

‘You’re in luck, here it is,’ we said handing it over.

The man beamed as a dark haired woman caught up from behind him. ‘We got to Flinders Street Station before we realised it was lost.’

His wife added, ‘I told him not to bother coming back. Surely someone had already picked it up and pocketed it!’

‘We were wondering if you had registered it,’ Cobi said.

‘Oh no, that’s too complicated for us,’ they said cheerfully as they waved. ‘Thanks!’

Vegie harvesting day

Last year, Damjan and others helped Megan and Brad establish their vegetable garden. I was in the UK so missed out on the day of labour. Of course, I was very happy to be around for the the follow up ‘vegie harvesting day’, especially as it was also a ‘cook up a vegie storm and serve it to friends day’.

Brad and Damjan foraging in the vegie patch

Brad and Damjan foraging in the vegie patch


Megan washing carrots

Megan washing carrots


Home grown carrots

Home grown carrots


Kohlrabi, which is yummy

Kohlrabi, which is yummy

Using plums already picked from one of their trees, Megan and Brad were going to bake a pie for dessert. However, Brad accidentally dropped the box of stewed plums and it splattered everywhere. To me, it looked exactly like blood.
Plum splatters in the kitchen

Plum splatters in the kitchen


Getting rid of the evidence

Getting rid of the evidence

Tetris in a lift

When I went to visit Vera’s new home in London, I didn’t know how to get to her flat door. Neither could I work out how to ring the communal doorbell beside the main entrance to her building.

Also, I had left my mobile phone at work and couldn’t ring Vera for instructions, such is my genius.

Naturally, then, I waited for someone to arrive and I tail gated them to get into the building. Joan the burglar at work.

I hovered in the foyer, trying to figure out my next move. Vera’s flat was number 11. I logicked that it could be on the first floor but I couldn’t see a staircase.

There was, however, a lift. A woman walked passed me, pushed the lift button and entered. I rushed in behind her before realising that the lift was tiny. There was barely room for two people.

‘Floor?’ she asked graciously.

‘Erm, one.’ I was embarrassed. If I knew my way around, I would have walked.

Suddenly, there as a pizza delivery man in front of us.

‘Come in,’ my lift mate said graciously again. I gasped silently.

The pizza man folded himself in and with some experimentation, held the pizza aloft and above our heads.

‘Floor?’

‘Five.’

‘Smells good,’ I commented during the pitiful interval between the lift taking off and stopping at the first floor. I darted out before they could reply.

Well. It turned out that Vera’s flat 11 was on the third floor so I had to find and climb the stairs anyway.

Assault on Conwy Castle

Joel and I spent the long Easter weekend in and around Snowdonia National Park in Wales. We climbed the icy Mt Snowdon, ate three course meals every day, drank mead and watched medieval sword fighting.

Castles were on the agenda, Wales being the ‘land of the castles’ with 400 within its borders. The most magnificent one we visited was Conwy Castle.

Conwy Castle

From a tower of Conwy Castle, Wales

Joel is a keen rock climber. I could tell he was itching to scale the castle walls. He was always examining the stonework and looking up to plan his route.

Joel at Conwy Castle

The rocks call out to Joel.

Joel at Conwy Castle

He tests his footing...

Joel at Conwy Castle

...and begins his ascent.

Joel at Conwy Castle

For a moment he hangs.

Joel at Conwy Castle

Then he pulls himself up.

Joel at Conwy Castle

Smile for the camera, Joel.

Joel at Conwy Castle

Look how far you've come!

Joel at Conwy Castle

Time to come back down, Joel.

Sign at Conwy Castle

Oops! It's really time to come back down now.

Patience on Saturday

Last Saturday, Rebecca and Ian came to visit me. They are friends from my Cambridge days (now 2.5 years past!).

Fortunately, none of us were in a hurry because it turned out to be a day of waiting.

I went to Kings Cross Station to see in their train. Patiently, I stood at the end of Platform 1. It seemed their train was late. Then I got a phone call from Rebecca. They too had been waiting for 15 minutes, only at Platform 8. English trains aren’t like German trains. They change platforms at the last minute.

Bus 30 from Kings Cross would drop us off directly in front of Ottolenghi, one of my favourite restaurants in the UK.

We waited 10 minutes and bus 30 arrived only to go straight past the stop. We waited another 15 minutes and no bus 30s arrived. We decided to take another bus and walked 10 minutes to the restaurant.

At the restaurant, there was a long queue. There always is. I think Ottolenghi is a lot of people’s favourite restaurant. Again, we were patient. There was plenty of beautiful food in the deli to gawk at.

From Ottolenghi, we decided to skip the hour long bus ride to the Natural History Museum and take the quicker trip via the Tube. The Tube is quicker only in theory, though. The Circle and District lines were shut down so it was like rush hour on the Picadilly line. In the end, it did take an hour to get to the museum.

The last time I visited the Natural History Museum, I walked straight up the grand steps to enter. This time, I was surprised to have to join a queue. It moved slowly, then quickly, then slowly again. At the top of the queue, they were checking bags. This is a new bit of security that I also encountered at the British Museum a few months ago.

We were at the museum to check out the new Darwin Centre. I had listened to a podcast about from ABC Radio National’s Science Show. It’s funny when I learn about London and England from Australian news sources.

We followed the signs and found ourselves at the end of the line. Before we knew it, we were swept into an archway and up some stairs by a wave of harried parents, children and prams, past the orange sign pointing to the Darwin Centre to the right.

‘Hey, where are we going?’ Rebecca asked.

‘I dunno, maybe this goes around and ends up at the Darwin Centre,’ I hoped.

And so we were trapped in the dinosaur gallery for an hour. It was hot, noisy, dark and fascinating. Stumbling to the bright, cool, calm, equally fascinating Darwin Centre afterwards was a relief.

No more waiting after that, it was smooth sailing, except for the bit where I lost my new glasses.

Man Test

Damjan, Joel and I were celebrating Pancake Tuesday. Damjan was at the stove in an apron and after a couple of false starts, was back to his finest pancake-flipping form.

He demonstrated. ‘See? Now that the pan’s warmed up and oiled properly, it’s easy.’

‘How about one-and-a-half flips?’ Joel said.

Damjan raised his eyebrows. ‘ No problem.’ He paused, then flicked the pan a little harder then usual.

Sure enough, the pancake turned gracefully in the air, then another half turn, before landing neatly on the waiting pan.

‘Ha!’ Joel said. ‘Bet you can’t do two-and-a-half flips.’

‘Bet I can,’ Damjan grinned. He knew his tools by now. He paused again, then flicked the pan extra hard.

The pancake flew even higher, crested after two-and-a-half turns, then plopped straight down.

‘AAAAWWW!’ we all cheered.

‘Three-and-a-half!’ Joel urged. ‘Three-and-a-half!!’

‘No way,’ Damjan laughed. ‘Uh-uh.’

‘Come on!’ Joel rejoined. ‘Man Test!’

‘What?’ we said.

‘Man Test!’

Damjan couldn’t refuse a Man Test.

‘Okay, okay…’

‘No!’ I gasped. But it was too late. The Man Test challenge had been made.

Damjan held a look of intense concentration for five seconds. Then he launched a mighty pancake flip… and the pan base flew over his head, along with the pancake, and it all came down with a metallic crash and pancake splatter on the kitchen floor.

Damjan was left shocked, holding just the handle in his right hand.

‘Oops,’ Joel said.

Birthday spider

My habit is to take a low key approach to celebrating my birthday. I assume that people aren’t really interested.

That’s why I was surprised and really touched a few weeks ago when my team mates at work presented me with a birthday card signed by all and a massive cupcake.

Birthday spider cupcake

Another pleasant surprise was the natural banana flavour of the icing, despite its artificial, almost glowing, yellowness.

Gordo’s by Daniel

Two weeks ago, Daniel visited us from his base in Amsterdam. Daniel and Damjan are ‘foodies’ and I like food, so we booked ourselves into Gordon Ramsay’s flagship restaurant on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea.

We spent five hours there (7pm to 1am) on a Tuesday night. The artistically plated dishes were full great flavours and textures. The wait staff read our minds.

Daniel has a review and photos on his website so I now direct you there…

gordos_daniel

Snow to storm to sun to scorch

In February, one of my best friends, Kate, got married. Kate and Avi had a multi-day traditional Hindu wedding in Mauritius, a little tropical island in the Indian Ocean. There are not many people for whom I would fly 12 hours. Kate is definitely one of them.

I stayed in Mauritius for a week. They were strange days, weather-wise. Just days before I was due to fly out, Britain suffered terrible snow storms and most flights were cancelled. I rushed home from work to buy travel insurance online. Even a flight delay of three days would render my trip to Mauritius pointless, as the wedding would be over.

The evening I was to leave, my departure time was pushed back two hours (Air Mauritius was kind enough to call and message me). Problems with refuelling and the closure of one of Heathrow’s two runways meant that we were stuck on the tarmac for another hour.

I was pretty anxious because as we were waiting, the snow starting swirling around the plane.

‘Oh no!’ I exclaimed to the girl sitting next to me. ‘Snow! It’s getting pretty white out there. I hope we get out in time.’

‘Hmph,’ the girl agreed and sadly curled up into a ball as she suffered through airplane allergies. (I get this too, when my eyes water and throat itches in the recirculated plane environment.)

Luckily, we finally took off. Later I was told that we flew out of a snow storm that shut down Britain’s transport systems for another two days.

It was not the end of eventful weather. The flight was the most turbulent I’ve ever experienced. We flew into a cyclone just north of Mauritius. For my first day on the island, the cyclone and choppy seas prevented us from going to the beach.

When tropical calm returned, I waded into the ocean. The water was beautifully warm. There was virtually no change in temperature going from the beach to the water.

I got a rather nasty sunburn. Carrying my backpack home (I managed with carry on luggage only!) sure did hurt my shoulders. It took me almost two months to recover fully from red skin.

It was only when I was flying home that I found out about the scorching bushfires in Victoria. The lady sitting across the airplane aisle had a newspaper with the headline, ‘Australian bushfire death toll its worst ever‘. I waved at her.

‘Excuse me, can I borrow your paper when you’re done with it?’ I pointed to the bushfire article. ‘That’s my home, Victoria.’

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘The paper is a couple of day old already and I hear that there are more deaths now.’

I only got the full story about on the Tube back home from Heathrow. Imagine that, finding out about this tragedy from a rehashed press release in the free London Paper!

Anyway, the reason I am revisiting the events of February is that I’ve finally sorted out photos from Mauritius. A selection of the are here at my gallery. Here are some highlights.

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I stayed with three of Kate’s friends in a massive holiday house. It was fairly swish and not expensive at all. I got the penthouse room. It had a walk in wardrobe, full size ensuite and, most importantly, air conditioning. At night time, the house also had cockroaches. They’re everywhere.

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The Trou aux Cerfs crater high up near the shopping town of Curepipe. This crater is in the shape of a love heart!

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Statues of Hindu gods at the Grand Bassin Hindu Temple, which is one of the most sacred Hindu places outside of India. Every year, half a million people make the pilgramage to the lake during the Maha Shivaratri festival in February or March.

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I’m a sucker for waterfalls. This one is in Charamel, better known for its coloured sands.

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The coloured sands of Charamel! So pretty, eh. I understand the colours are something to do with volcanoes. Not very specific, I know. I guess it’s to do with heating sands to different temperatures.

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Giant tortoises! This one was very unusually active. It was eating leaves that tourists waved at it, it wandered around before settling down with its motionless friends in a puddle.

Finally, some beach photos.

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Legs above belong to Kate’s family. Thank you for looking after me for the week!