Wednesday, 27 July 2016
What I want from this holiday changes based on my mood: part of me is saying I should do all the things I never quite managed when I lived here- going to the zoo, doing the climbing wall, etc.; another part thinks I should be doing all the cultural things Melbourne has to offer- the many galleries, museums, libraries and such; and one bit of me just wants to pretend that it's still 2013 and resume my life as though nothing has changed- go to the university campus, scrounge off wi-fi wherever possible, eat at all the places I used to eat. Yesterday, the latter voice won.
Since it was my first day and I was pretty exhausted from getting up at 3.00 am to catch my plane, I hadn't really expected to do much yesterday. I thought I'd check into my hostel, maybe take a nap and then go and find some food. Instead, having secured my bed for the night, on a last minute spur, I decided to return to my alma mater.
The problem was, I didn't remember how to get there.
I was too proud to ask or even to google, so I just set off in a direction with the vague recollection that that was the way I used to walk. I ended up taking an extremely circuitous route, past Victoria Market and a plethora of gyms, up and around and finally down onto the campus I knew.
It hadn't changed. It was strange to walk around and see all these sites and shops I was so familiar with. I spent a lot of time in Union House when I was a student and going back, almost nothing had changed- there was only one new shop which I could see and even all the posters seemed the same. It made me feel like someone had been keeping the university preserved just for me, my own personal museum.
Going back to the Rowden White Library, my favourite place on campus, was a blast from the past. Returning to that bohemian atmosphere, that dream-like, pastural seating area where one is instructed not to learn, the napping room where students sleep litter-style, was just heavenly. And then I saw that they were still displaying the poem that I'd written for them years ago at the front desk. I never signed it, but I like to think that lots of people, queueing up to check out a book, have looked at my ode and wondered what kind of nerd had nothing better to do than write a poem about a library.
There was actually a graduation ceremony happening while I was on the campus- lots of people walking around in gowns and caps, taking almost as many photos as I did, lining up to stand next to anything that bore the university crest. I think these people, assuming they did a standard three year course, would have started at Melbourne just as I left. I might have seen them briefly, during the two weeks I stuck around after my classes were over, but really they were the next generation. The people bought in to replace me. And they were already done with it.
I wondered, as I walked around, if I should've fought harder to stay at Melbourne. It clearly still holds a place in my heart and is important to me. Watching the graduands (they hadn't finished yet), I felt a surge of jealousy- these were the people who'd stayed, the ones who'd made Melbourne their permanent home. I was the silly sod who'd left. Could I have stayed? I don't know. Certainly, I didn't try very hard- I didn't kick up a fuss, or make grand, empassioned arguments or even offer to pay. I made a few enquiries, was gently rebuffed and let it go. I'm kind of angry at myself now. Oh well.
When I was walking around Melbourne Central, I got my first sighting of someone I used to know. Sadly, I didn't recall his name and I'm not sure he ever knew who I was anyway. He was a man from the university queerspace who, like the eleventh doctor, always bow ties. This fashion choice stuck with me and when I saw him I almost ran up to hug him. Sadly, I don't know how a conversation between us would pan out so I decided to demur to the better part of valor and slink off, but it was still nice to see a familiar face.
An even more familiar face surfaced when, later in the evening, I went to see Aiden. We met outside his work, went to get dinner, and talked for six hours. Some of the time we were catching up, sometimes we were discussing movies (a favourite pastime of yore) and sometimes we just exchanged memories of when I used to live here. It was wonderful. It was exactly what I wanted. When I first decided to come back to Melbourne, I was cautious, worried that my friends and I would have changed too much, we'd be unable to connect. With Aiden, this was not the case; we picked up as if I'd just been away for a weekend. This bodes well for other meetings.
Speaking of other meetings, I've just come back from seeing David- I was less worried about meeting David because I saw him last year in Paris. Still, that was eighteen months ago and it's always nice to see him; we talked about life and science and Pokemon Go- all the important things. I'm joining his D and D game next week as a special guest and we discussed the character I'll be role-playing and I realised this would be the first bit of acting I've done in almost two years. I'm really looking forward to getting back into it and I think a role-playing game will be just the place for it.
I'm currently sitting in Victoria State Library, where I used to go once upon a time to complete essays in a more picturesque setting when I was sick of the campus. It really is a gorgeous building, with some interesting displays inside (including Ned Kelly's armour) and, very helpfully in my post-phone state, free wi fi.
At the moment, I'm just spending my time in Melbourne retreading old walks and indulging in nostalgia but it's very enjoyable. Honestly, if the rest of my holiday pans out like this, I'll consider it a massive success.
Monday, 8 July 2013
I'm about to leave Melbourne for... not forever, but for the foreseeable future. I'll write a proper post in the near future, but for now I just wanted to post this:
The sun was shining on the sea,
The birds were in the skies,
The wizard packed his suitcase up
And said his last goodbyes-
His friends pretended not to see
The tears in his eyes
'Will I be back?' The Wizard asked,
His voice small and aquake
He questioned at the kookaburras,
Who refused his thirst to slake,
They couldn't answer, for in the end,
That was the wizard's choice to make
Thursday, 13 June 2013
I write you, dear reader, against all odds, from a hostel in Queenstown, New Zealand, with the Lion King playing in the background.
I say 'against all odds' because did you know that when flying internationally using one airline and another back, you need an 'itinerary', otherwise known as proof that you plan to leave? Cos I didn't. I had actually booked my ticket back, fortunately, but had not confirmed the e-ticket, or whatnot.
And my phone resolutely refused to access my email.
And the flight was leaving in twenty minutes.
A nice lady from jetstar offered to take me to the Qwantas lounge and use their computers to print out my itinerary- the Qwantas lounge being the furthest possible point from anywhere else in the airport. I arrived there with five minutes to go, ran off a copy and sprinted to the gate...where I had to wait for fifteen minutes.
Following this, I experienced possibly the most beautiful plane ride in existence, photos attached. At one point, I think I could have dropped fron the plane straight onto a mountaintop without breaking a bone, so close were they.
Also, there was a farm literally right next to the runway, which I guess is different, if not particularly practical.
On the other side of the plane ride, I went through the toughest security measures I've seen in my life. They X-rayed my bag for fruit. Twice. If I'd had fruit, I'm pretty sure they'd be dead from radiation. The security made it very clear they did NOT approve of my laissez-faire attitude to where I was heading etc. And then they finally let me go.
Queenstown is extremely beautiful. It's built around a giant lake, carved into the mountainside and extremely wet. I'd forgotten how humid the air in Australia is- by comparison, you get half your RDA of water with every lungful, and it's always lightly chilled.
I've explored the city centre a bit, but it was already getting dark, so I'll redouble my efforts tomorrow morning. I did however find a bar called 'tardis', and checked through the windows, but it seemed exactly the same size on the inside.
First, a quick confession: I took my Lord of the Rings Tour before my Bungy jump, but I wanted to blog about that right after I'd done it, so you could all get the juicy viscerality and stream of conscience nonsense that that merited.
When I booked my LOTR tour, I was promised a very personal experience, and that I got: there were only five people on the tour; hell, for the first half of it, there were only three.
I was picked up from my accomodation by a cheery middle-aged lady and ushered into a van, where sat two other LOTR fans. Honestly, even robbed of the context of the tour, I could have guessed they were fans. They had the look (as do I, I imagine). Our first stop was the Rydges hotel where the cast and crew stayed when they were filming- thankfully, this stop was brief, cos honestly I didn't care.
Next, we went onto where they filmed this scene:
And something became apparent- I was glad I was taking this tour a mere thirteen years after filming, because the landscape had changed a lot. Kathleen, our tour guide, had a couple of sturdy lanscape features which she pointed out to prove that she was telling the truth, but in between the changes they made for the film (planting some new trees, digital correction etc.) and the vagaries of time, it was sometimes difficult to see the resemblance between the scenes (all played to us on an Ipad before setting off). However, Kathleen then got us to recreate the scenes and took pictures and this appealed to the am-dram ham inside me, so I can't complain.
I lay where Elijah Wood and Sean Astin had thirteen years previous and squeed a little inside me. This is so lame, but I could actually see the oliphaunt in my mind's eye, and I got lost in the story in a way that I haven't for quite a while, if only for a few minutes.
We explored this site, because the entire scene is shot on one location, but out of order, if you understand me- Frodo and Sam switched sides of the river bank several times.
After, we headed to a spot where you could see three different locales from a distance (sadly, access is restricted, them being private land and all), took some photos and then headed off for lunch.
At lunch, we were joined by a young married couple- the young woman hadn't actually seen LOTR, and I felt very sorry for her, because even Kathleen was something of a fangirl. We got to look at some classified documents, which Kathleen had somehow acquired, like call sheets, a handmade shooting calendar (with some really freaky drawings), and the original shooting script, which was given a fake title to keep out locals. This fake film was called 'Jamboree' and was a coming of age epic about scouting. With three separate installments. Honestly, that's dumber than what they pulled with Argo. How did anyone fall for that?!
So, after this, we headed to where they shot Isildur (in both senses of the word 'shoot'); and Kathleen told how someone actually bought a replica one ring (which amount to something like $5000) and then threw it into the river there, but I looked and sadly could not find it. Drat.
We then headed on to where Arwen shows down the Nazghul, and this was probably the place which had changed the least from the film, even though that scene was shot at two different rivers, and I dipped my toe into the waters which carried the Black Riders away and squee'd a little. And then we got back into the SUV and it nearly fell into the river like the horses of the film, to be swept out to sea; yes, the river bank began to give beneath the vehicle, and we hightailed it out of there, backwards, watching the scenery collapse before us like an Emmerich film. Definitely
Next, we headed to the side of a lake where we got to play with replica weapons from the film and take photos, which I will upload as soon as I unpack my camera. Needless to say, I excelled with all forms of damage inducing implement and definitely did not open up my arm with a nazghul blade.
This was the end of the tour, and I was really glad I'd taken it, because it made the Lord of the Rings seem that much more real to me, and I also got to see some absolutely stunning scenery and swing a broad sword, which is always a bonus, whether an innocent bystander is involved or not.
My Tumble Down the Hill
I'm just gonna do away with chronology and tell you about my OGO experience, even though Zealandia and a few others actually preceded it. Essentially, they put me in a giant plastic bubble, filled it with warm water and rolled me down a hill. It was like taking a very dynamic bath, on a rollercoaster; my only complaint was that it only lasted two minutes.
Are You from The Valley?
Zealandia is an attempt to return a valley in Auckland to its natural state, i.e. pre-human arrival. They have species which went nearly extinct (some which were though extinct), wondering around, pecking at your shoelaces, and you can see them all in their natural environment. Awesome.
They also have a walk around the lake, which should not really be attempted alone in the rain, but there it is. I walked for, I believe, in all four hours, thoroughly ruining my shoes and making it look like I'd tried to drown myself in a mud bath. It was still quite enjoyable, though, just because the New Zealand bush is so lush and pretty. Also, I got to hang out with a weird prehistoric chicken thing, so there's always that.
So, I road on a jet boat. It was extremely thrilling. We went at speeds which I have only experienced in the car of one Michael Maclaren, and that at least had a roof, so I didn't end up looking like Syndrome from the Incredibles- I have a lot of hair, OK? We did tricks, like turning around and stopping really quickly, which seem like pretty basic tricks, to be honest, but OK, and I got so wet that several people thought I had fallen into the harbour. I didn't (for once), but it was a fun way to see more of Auckland, and we saw someone else Bungee Jumping, but from only forty foot, the baby.
Friday, 7 June 2013
Honestly. I did none of that stuff.
|I was gonna try and pass this off as a pic from last night, but, let's be honest, my hair has not looked this for quite a while|
The party escalated quickly, with new guests arriving en masse and enmassing en cuisine; soon the place was stuffed with well-wishers, onlookers and one incredibly timid ginger tabby. Someone suggested we diversify our clustering and we spread out and, as ever, I was a mingler, treading nimbly twixt the multitudinous social groups, making sure all experienced my presence and only moving on when I felt my glory had been basked in for long enough, or the conversation turned to Game of Thrones.
I met the many colorful characters that inhabit Charlotte's world, made polite but scintillating smalltalk and complimented on my overall Britishness.
And then the prospect of 'The Charlotte Chronicles 4: The Quest for the Pooey Lizard' was raised and I was gone. Yes, I laughed for several minutes, and while people inquired if I was OK or needed medical assistance, Charlotte kept her cool, having seen this all before after Declan's unfortunate incident with the pepper, and Simon kept nursing his hand after having hit it into a wall (which was hilarious, by the way).
I remember dancing to 'Greased Lightning', searching for Narnia in Charlotte's wardrobe and finding only the false back where she keeps her collection of children's teeth, and being locked out in the backgarden at two in the morning. I remember a man with hair like a Lion's mane, a discussion of the antisemitism of Bananas in Pyjamas and some suspiciously erotic wrestling between two shoeless hippies.
Charlotte was kind enough to offer me a bed for the evening, and I readily took it, only to discover it was the favourite resting place of aforementioned timid tabby and waking up looking like Garfield fresh out of the tumble dryer. However, we then went for possibly the most delicious breakfast I have had in Oz, and I got a wee bit sad that I'd only discovered the dispenserie of such a month before I leave and that in all honesty I will probably never return there (yet again, I still got to go more than most people ever will etc.).
So, happy birthday, Nose Finger! And, since you specifically requested I write this blog post, I'm counting it as your present. Suck it!
Thursday, 6 June 2013
|I'm my own girlfriend.|
We started off around nine, having rented a car from East Coast car rentals. We were: Laura, a German psychology student on exchange for the semester; Anna, her schoolfriend taking a few months off while studying for her masters; Charlotte, an English lass who studies full time in Melbourne; myself. I had never met any of the others, only having joined the party by responding to a post online. I also, sadly, was bereft of any photographic equipment, and so have had to pull images from Google searches (hopefully, I'll be able to acquire a few from my fellow day trippers as well).
The first thing I want to report is that I saw the following sign.
|Found here (and in Villawood, presumably)|
After driving for a bit (I'll be honest, my time keeping skills leave something to be desired), we took our first stop- a beach just outside Torquay (not that Torquay- the Australian one*) we stopped for a few minutes and admired the scenery, which was extremely picturesque: this is the main reason for visiting the Great Ocean Road, incidentally, to see the luscious sights. If you'd told my fifteen year old self that I would one day willingly submit to a twelve hour journey just to stare at mountains et al, I would've laughed in your face and returned to playing Dungeons and Dragons. Good times.
We stopped at another beach, and actually descended (because the road runs along some quite severe cliffs, which drop unexpectedly onto tumultuous beaches) onto the sands this time for a spot of beach-being, and I may have carved 'Moi Smells' into the sand, for sentiment's sake. After delighting in the sound of the swell and the sight of the sand, we returned to our Auto and made for Lorne, where we had lunch in a nice little cafe overlooking the sea. We chatted about this and that- where we'd been, where we were going- we were all of a travelling bent, obviously, so this allowed for some quite worldly banter.
After this, we drove to the Sheoak Falls in a valley which was just so beautiful that I'm not even going to bother to describe it. It was pure Australiana.
I should point out that it was around this time that the sun came out, making the journey seem slightly more energetic.
From the falls, we sped on to a spot by the Kennet river where we were told we could see koalas. While there, we met some fellow dispatriated Europeans who were literally feeding parrots out of their hands. They gave us some seed so we could try it out, and it was immensely enjoyable, even when a parrot started to claw at my scalp (I guess in the end, my mum was right- something did try and nest in my hair). After having had our fill of playing that crazy bird lady from Mary Poppins, we went on to spot some Koalas hanging high in the trees. Whenever I see Koalas in the wild (and that is a 'whenever' now- I love my life!), I'm always struck by the fact that they're not more afraid of heights; they're so tiny and they live in such high places, and they're quite rotund so they bulge out over the branches quite a lot...I just worry for them is all.
After this, we made a beeline for the apostles. Now, I saw a beeline, but that's not really possible on the GOR, as we in the know call it.
When I opened them, we were there. I estimate I was only asleep for thirty minutes, and for most of that, we were driving through repetitive forest, so I don't think I missed much. Anyway, we drove back in the dark, so I'll never know.
But, yes, the apostles.
"Don't cross fence. Unstable Cliff. You'll fall and DIE."Alrighty then. Roger that. After watching the stacks erode in real time for a while, we decided it was time to head back. I could describe the return journey, but I've decided to save it for Volume 2: Mr. Trackwork Goes to Villawood. Just know it contained a lot of talk about murder.
*Honestly surprised I had to point that out.
Monday, 3 June 2013
That way I could totally do everything I wanted to in Australia, get bored with it and then still make it in time to catch my flight. Wouldn't that just be swell? So, if anyone has one spare that they could let me use, I'd really appreciate it.
While lunching, Charlotte offhandedly expressed her wonder at one of my descriptions of myself from my Edinburgh time, specifically with regards to desperation for attention et al, and I was proud to see how far I'd come (at least in one person's view) in just a year.
Speaking of delisting my bucket list, so a mere bucket will be left, I'll be visiting the Great Ocean Road tomorrow. My first thought on this is that Australians like prefixing their tourist attractions with 'Great', which makes me feel like they're compensating for something. My second was that I'll be going with a bunch of strangers, which made me nervous, but then I thought of Phillip Island, and how awesomely that turned out.
|Some were known to remark that it was 'neato'.|
In other news, we had a mini-Aussie Rules reunion on Sunday, which involved Pancake Parlour, which I kind of think of as my equivalent to Central Perk from Friends, even though I've been to about three different branches of it. I say 'mini-' because it was only me, my stage sister Emily and Alan-a, who insists upon placing a hyphon in her name for some strange reason and has been literally throwing fits because she has not appeared on this blog yet. So hello to Alan.
In other news, I have an essay due in in a week and I'm already nine tenths of the way through it, so expect to rest on my laurels for the rest of the week, and so an influx of more posts like this, which really didn't have any content. Alack.
Sunday, 2 June 2013
I will say it upfront that the music and acting are terrible: of all the songs, I remember only two, and even then only because they were established songs I already knew and I was wondering if they were public domain or not. One, possibly more, of the songs, were electro-dance tracks, and this is terrible because not only is the play set in the 1920s, when such songs did not exist, but also because that's one of the few attractive features of the 20s in my eyes. The title of this blogpost is a direct example of the deft lyrics you will encounter if you go and see this show. You can only imagine the other delights that await you.
Similarly, the characters are poorly drawn and not interesting in the slightest- I don't even remember their names, despite them being shoehorned into the dialogue every five minutes. They're boring and annoying and honestly just being in their company seems like a waste of one's life- I'm not surprised the lass falls for the ape, as he's by far the most intellectually stimulating of the people she meets; what I can't fathom is what Kong sees in her.
And this brings me to the turning point of this review: the ape is AMAZING.
For one thing, it's huge- I was way in the back (cheap seats, y'know) and I really got the feeling that there was a forty foot gorilla in front of me. I just couldn't comprehend how they could manoeuvre something like that about the stage- it was at least four times the height of anyone on stage. It was mind-blowing.
And for another, the facial expressions this thing pulls are phenomenal- you really see the emotion in every single thing he does, more so than in anyone else on stage, but that's not saying much. At one point, the puppet made eye contact with me, and I started welling up. I actually started to tear up. It was fantastic.
The staging on the whole is very...exciting. Overly so at times. They really capture the feeling of a ship at one point, but at another they completely fail to capture the feeling of a city, opting instead for a coked-up nightclub. At one point, our heroine is being unconvincingly chased by the police or mobsters or rapists or something (it's not made clear), and runs right into a vaudeville show. Why? How? Who knows? Who cares? It's a chance to have a completely gratuitous chorus of girls in panties! YAY! This experience is repeated when the same heroine has a dream sequence where of bunch of actresses or hookers or showgirls or drag queens (it's not made clear) tell her to get dolled up before her screen test, only for the director to tell her she doesn't need to change the way she looks for the public. Thank God they got the ticket-shilling lingerie models on display before he told her that, right? Phew.
All in all, I actually would recommend King Kong. The puppet is just that fucking good. Just arrive forty minutes late and avoid the tedious "human" ""interaction"" at the beginning.