Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Freedman Down Under: peachy Melbourne

What can I tell you? Much as it has been a trauma for Wifey #1 to go and live on the other side of the world (I have still not taken the hint perhaps), now I am here, I can see why. Melbourne is one of those places that just works. It has a little of everything you'd want - beaches, weather, lovely people, good fressing, nice architecture, good countryside, culture, and a functioning public transport system.

Much like home, however, it has a losing cricket team; here's a pic from the final day of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, a real institution like the opening summer test at Lord's - and the first time in a generation that the Baggy Greens (that's the name for the Aussie cricket team, because of the cubscout caps they wear) have lost a Test series at home.

So far, I have been acclimatising, getting to know the city, and of course, eating plenty of hearty meals. I have decided to have a brief rebellious patch on the whole kosher thing, as it's not every day a nice chunk of marinated kangaroo is on offer. Still bizarrely avoiding pork and shellfish though, and this won't last beyond Oz, but it's nice to just kick back and be someone else for a bit. I think the strategy is that I get three wildcards for treif holidays, so I can experience all the stuff you can't get in Solly's before retreating to safe food beginning with K. To be honest, the yokmeat is all ok, but not so amazing that I couldn't live without it.

On that note, I went surfing the other day! Yes, me... drove down to Phillip Island with Wifey, Stitch (limber London linguist Lilo's little sister), and The Bull, stopping off on the way to meet some koalas, kangaroos and other domestic furries. Then got down to Smith's Beach, squeezed into wetsuits and plunged on in. The Bull was pretty good, having done this before (ie actually getting to her feet on the board), whilst Wifey and I managed a couple of bodysurfs and even got onto knees at one point. We went about recreating the dramatic closing sequence of Point Break - I especially enjoyed wiping out on some strategically placed underwater rocks a couple of times. The things we do for our sport, eh?

In the evening, we got back to Melbourne, devoured some more excellent food, and watched Frost/Nixon (very enjoyable), before visiting Stitch and The Bull's sweet townhouse, complete with basement cinema. That's about all I've got for the moment - Stitch is holding back the release of the pic of the four of us holding our boards and looking very professional, pending airbrushing of how skanky she looked, despite flaking out early from the surfing. Some of us have got it, honey, and some of us have not.

The rest of Melbourne in a nutshell (photos to follow): strolls around the botanical gardens with Wifey, beachfront and St Kilda Pier as well as hearty brunch with Bouncer, enormous meat fress at Limor's, pleasant coffee and nosh with Wifey's friends the Golden Couple, London-style sprint to move car and avoid parking ticket, usual collection of jokes about eating babies, helping Wifey with his eviction, and a cracking meal at the cool aunt and uncle's trendy designer house.

That's all for now... in Alice Springs but no time to finish posting properly, except to complain bitterly about having to fly low-cost to get here. Oh, and the fucking flies are everywhere. Why does nobody mention these? Maybe they are just drawn to me. Like flies to... um...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Freedman Down Under: happy landings

This is the first of my postings from Oz, where I will be enjoying the next 6 weeks in glorious sunshine, hoping that enough of the UK remains uncrunched for my plane to land safely when I get back.

In the "Spirit of Webber", I will try and avoid the "and then I did..." style of travel writing, and I will also assume that Freedmansmum will edit this before reading it to Freedmansgrandpa, so the odd swearword and naughty escapade (yeah, as if) can be included.

So Day One started with Freedmansdad driving me to the airport, via a near-collision with a police van, which had pulled to the side of the road ahead of us, then with no signal or warning, suddenly pulled back out right in front of us. Cue screeching of brakes and a moment where I thought I might get to play out my fantasy of a police motorcade escorting me to the airport in a blaze of sirens, lights and paparazzi flashbulbs (with possible Nicole Kidman rooftop dancing/draping cutaway scene). Sadly the quick reactions of Freedmansdad, and sturdy frame of the Silver Slug, saw to that.

Heathrow Terminal 4, Christmas Day. 100% efnik staff on duty, other than a few hard-ups taking the double-time. Mooch through to BA lounge, devour some cereal and red berries, a couple of hot brekkie rolls, and then the pièce de résistance, warm pain au chocolat and cinnamon rolls with a large glass of champers. Board flight, enjoy delight of not only turning left but going up the stairs, settle into front row seat, drink more champers before take-off. So nice to genuinely begin your holiday before even leaving the airport.

12 hour flight to Singapore, slip on my nice Qantas grey flannels,
devour a G&T before lunch, an excellent chardonnay with my smoked salmon starter, a sauv blanc with the halibut, a pink muscat with the cheeseboard, a little sherry on the side of the warm ginger cake with hot butterscotch sauce, and a decent cognac with the bitter chocolates to finish. Then have a little fatnap, before working my way through Tropic Thunder (human version of Team America), Hancock (abbreviated and more realistic version of Smallville), Etz Limon (depressing, slightly Meretz Israeli-Palestinian lemon grove by security fence saga), Wall-E (nicely done Disney shtick), and two episodes of Family Guy. Flight concludes with a superb breakfast of scrambled eggs, potato pancakes, tomato relish, toast and honey, warm Danish, passion fruit juice and some decent tea. Oh, and a glass of sparkling, of course.

At Changi I waddle off to the Rainforest Lounge, have a neck and shoulder massage, a gin sling and a freshen up. Reboard for 8 hours down to Sydney, have an excellent cream of tomato soup with piping hot sunflower seed roll, excellent glass of shiraz, Malaysian-style fish and noodle curry, date and apricot custard frangipan with a Cointreau on the side, 2 episodes of the Simpsons,
Man On Wire (documentary about crazy French guy walking on a rope between the Twin Towers, obviously pre-9/11, not so challenging now), and a 6 hour schluff curled up in a paralytic ball in the nice big bed.

Roll off the plane in Sydney, fast-track myself, my bags, and the all-important Cadburys delivery from my mother-in-law through customs, then duck into Emerald Lounge, have a hot shower and extensive eucalyptus-related pampering goodies, quaff some domestic sparkling with a few slabs of cheese, a very nice pasta pesto salad thing, and a glass of ginger beer. Seat 1A over to Melbourne, feta cheese and sundried tomato salad on a bed of those rice-shaped pasta bits (do they just get those by sweeping the pasta factory floor?), start to appreciate just how fit Aussie birds are, meet Wifey at airport, admire the white Toyota rip-off, also admire how chilled he has become on driving (always within speed limit) until he tells me how officious they are here and he has already had his first speeding ticket.

Get to Elwood, admire nice house in great location, make myself at home in the outhouse (ie garage), take a stroll with Wifey up the beach and back through Acland/St Kilda, drop off at about 2am to the sound of many strange birds that make the same noises as howler monkeys, and the buzzing from the neighbour's garage-based freezer. Wake up at 10am, buzzing has stopped, realise it was my electric toothbrush, come in for a shower, bowl of cereal, gutted to find no champagne awaits me, nor is there a blonde dolly-bird in a kimono to serve me... ah yes, good morning Nicci (Wifey's housemate), still no champers though.

And that brings us up to date. 29 degrees out today, off for an orientation tour of Melbourne. This rocks.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Shoking mispeling poping up evrywear

I have been so slovenly about this blog. As I'm off to Oz for 6 weeks at Xmas, thought I'd get back in the habit, then use Freedmanslife as a diary of my travels, to save me repeating myself a lot.

Meanwhile, a snippet from the BBC, showing the editing skills that have got Wossy and Randy (sorry, I mean Brandy) in to much hot water:

The newspaper said Shimon Peres, whose career in Israeli politics has spanned 60 years, is tainted with the blood of thousands of Palestinians and that Sheikh Tantawi should richly purify his hands.
Richly purify his hands? What do you wash hands in to richly purify them? And surely that should be "purify richly"? Also on the weekend, I was down at Asda recession-busting my weekly shop, and bought a nice jumper/shirt combo (as worn Saturday night at the hideous O'Neill's in Soho) for a tenner, with a warning to wash the items "seperately". Grrrr.

Big up to the Hammer by the way, he is off shooting and probably doesn't "do" blogs, but he is even more of a fan of good speling and grammer than I is.