Jolimont Sharehouse

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Time to update the ol' house blog with some big news: we've had a change in the personnel here. Long-time resident Antony has thrown in the towel after some five years of co-habitation and headed out on a global sojourn for a year or so. We're terribly sad to see him head off, as we all got quite used to his funny ways, idiosyncrasies and annoying habits. Inspired by this effort, Antony's set up his own travel blog where he's capturing his international backpacking adventures with curt, Hemmingway-esque prose.

But as they say, the great wheel turns and we welcome Alen to our new household!

--- posted by Greg 12:44 PM

Thursday, December 28, 2006

India has been a shock to the system: no matter how much you brace yourself, the touts are still pretty intense for the first few days. We had the great fortune of being picked up by good ol' Taj at the airport and so were spared the trauma of dealing with the taxis there. Our first night in Pahar Ganj was okay - if a bit noisy - but waking up to see a dozen cows wandering around the market out the front of our hotel (some 300m from New Delhi railway station!) was a spin-out. Monkeys clambering on the powerlines, the occasional camel pulling a cart ... it's like an Indiana Jones movie.

We then spent a couple of nights in Hotel Ajanta - as dodgy a hotel as I've seen. Since the staff are constantly trying to sell you on tours at the expense of providing accommodation, it was more like a high-pressure travel agency with a few beds. So we booked a tour through another agency and arranged to meet our agent at the restaurant to pickup the tickets - the bitch at Ajanta lied to his face and said we'd checked out at 6am! Fortunately, he knew about this practice and spotted us having breakfast. Shame, Ajanta, shame. After that experience, we decided it was worth paying another couple of dollars for a room at Karol Barg.

We got the feel for Delhi, saw the monuments, caught up with Taj, visited his office, met his colleagues and had a few drinks and kebabs. While I haven't physically clapped eyes on Taj in five years, it was amazing how easily we just sort of slipped back into things. On the Friday we went to his place for dinner with his family and his American colleague Shariff. I'd met Taj's Mum and Dad and brother Giri in Australia about seven years ago but it was great to see them in their element. Taj had a new guitar and kindly let us all have a strum - including his Mum who could actually play. (We got a few verses and a chorus of "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley" for our benefit.)

The next day Marie, Shariff and I did an all-day Agra trip to visit the Agra Fort, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri. The latter is an large fort and complex that was built out in the desert and later abandoned due to lack of water. Whoops! (Even 16th century Moguls were cursed with management consultants.) The "other Taj" (as Taj calls it) is a truly draw-dropping building and well-deserves its reputation. Next time I'm in India, I'll be sure to re-visit at dawn or dusk.

After this, Marie and I embarked on a ten-day trip through the Indian desert state of Rajasthan. We hired a driver and car through the agency, who also arranged accommodation. We whisked though the north and west - Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Pushkar and Jaipur and back to Delhi. There's something magical about tooling around the desert in an Ambassador. We covered about 2500km on the trip and took in a lot of forts, palaces and historic buildings. Personal highlights for me were the camel research farm near Bikaner, the camel "safari" near Jaisalmer (ie riding around the dunes for a couple of hours at sunset and sunrise), the visit to the spiritual towns of Pushkar (Hindu blessing in the morning) and Ajmer (Muslim blessing in the afternoon), McAloo Tikki Burger and Bollywood movie and the world-famous Raj Mandir Cinema in Jaipur - and learning to drink Old Monk rum Indian-style with our driver, S.K.

A brief note about our driver, S.K. While we hired a driver (and declined the agency's offer of a tour guide), we ended up with a tour guide in S.K. His knowledge of the places was superb, he kept us out of trouble, gave us good advice and generally made the whole trip much less hectic and stressful. Whether it's sorting out our laundry or getting a new city tour guide if he feels the last one was too hungover, he's proven himself on many occasions. He also seems to know everyone - hotel managers, other drivers and tour operators - since he's been doing this for 12 years. While still only a young man, he seems mature beyond his years and is very reliable, a safe and careful driver, and a considerate host. I have had no qualms recommending his services to strangers and my own family alike and heartily suggest readers interested in hiring a driver in Delhi and the north and west of India check out his website to get in touch.

After returning to Delhi for more site-seeing, we shot up to the holy city of Haridwar in Uttaranchal. Here, the Ganges River flows out of the Himalayas and onto the plains. It's the second most holy city for Hindus (after Varanasi) and is a site of major domestic tourism. (Foreign tourists looking for that mystical experience are found up-river at Rishikesh - founded by the Beatles in 1968. If Pushkar is anything to go by, the detritus of Western civilisation can be found wandering around stoned and grubby.) We washed away our sins in the Ganges River and rode on the cable cars to visit the temples atop surrounding mountains. We found it very relaxing and the tout-intensity dropped off significantly owing to the lack of foreign tourists. Even the priests offering the puja were more chilled and less pushy about fees. The river itself was flowing very fast (considering it was the dry season) and was surprisingly blue and fresh-looking (considering what was happening in Rishikesh).

Back in Delhi, Taj's mum Bina took us shopping for a wedding saree for Marie. You see, we'd been invited to a Sikh wedding through Taj's family. The night before, we went to the bride's family's pre-wedding bash at a local officers' mess, where we got re-acquainted with Taj's grandparents. This do consisted of a couple of hundred Sikhs with drinks and finger food. As I looked out, the vista consisted mostly of senior gentlemen with Blazer jackets, turbans, nicely turned out beards and scotch on the rocks. What a great night! Marie and I met a huge number of interesting and accomplished people from business, the military, government, royalty and other walks of life. They were so warm and friendly towards us it was just lovely. We had a buffet dinner at about midnight and there was plenty of Hindipop to keep the dancefloor pumping.

The next morning was the wedding proper. The groom showed up (with his face veiled) and his father's regimental band was playing, resplendent in traditional Sikh uniforms and turbans, tartan sashes and, of course, bagpipes. They finished up with a jaunty Jingle Bells medley. The ceremony took place in a tent and went for about an hour and we returned to the marquee for more drinks, finger food and buffet. Sadly, Marie and I couldn't join the party for afternoon polo(?!) since we were heading north-west to Amritsar

This is the holy city of the Sikhs, in Punjab. We stayed a couple of nights, primarily to visit the Golden Temple (Harimander Sahib). We spent the day admiring this beautiful temple from inside and out. Priests read constantly from the Sikh holy book (Guru Granth Sahib), accompanied by a harmonium and tabla drums. It's a very serene, almost hypnotic setting with its jeweled walls, ragas and lush carpets. On the perimeter, some 30,000 people a day are feed for free from the community kitchen and there's a disturbingly graphic and grizzly museum documenting the traumas of the Sikhs over the year. We returned at night to see the ceremony when the Holy Book is carried over the bridge from the temple.

We couldn't leave without a trip over to the Indo-Pakistan border at Wagah. There's a nightly flag ceremony where each side competes to pack as much pomp into their version as possible. Stadiums on either side are packed with cheering citizens, MCs warm up the crowd with slogans and Hindipop while the soldiers limber up in the background with starjumps and stretches. Once it kicks off, it takes about an hour for the quick-step marching, shouting and general carrying-on to conclude when the flags are finally lowered, folded and march off. The mood isn't that aggro - more sort of good-natured patriotism that one might find at the cricket. (Still, I bet things take on a sour note during times of conflict - but the same could be said of the cricket.)

On our final return to Delhi, we went on a shopping binge to pick up Christmas presents and some other goodies for ourselves. We headed to the Central Cottage Industries Emporium (on Janpath) where we could shop department-style for government-approved handicrafts. (Apparently, this ensures the producers get a fair cut.) While I love the bazaars and chowks, it was a relief to deal with sticker-prices and professional sales employees.

By way of thanking Taj's family, we took them out to dinner at Kareems Restaurant. This was a sumptuous all-meat affair (Taj even vetoed the egg curry on the grounds that we "weren't to have any vegetables") with kebabs and curries and breads. It was delicious and quite unlike any food I've had in Australia.

North Indian cuisine has long been my favourite. Even after eating it three times a day for a month, I can honestly say I'm not sick of it and right now looking forwards to eating some aloo gobi with a paratha soon. The dishes on offer in Punjab, Rajashtan etc are much the same as I've seen before back home, although served a little hotter. I really enjoyed eating in the dhabas (road-side restaurants), street eateries (mmm, kachoris) and fancier places. Like most places, you've got to go where the taxi drivers are eating. And, if you've paid less than a dollar for your meal, you shouldn't be eating meat. The Indian sweets were pretty new to me - while I've been aware of the milk and gram-flour based delicacies and gulab jamun, I didn't realise just how massive the range is and how widespread the shops are. Although I made a point of trying new sweets each day, I could only manage one or two as they are so heavily-sweetened!

We flew out of Delhi and made it safely back to Melbourne (via Bangkok). Amazingly, after seven weeks in Asia (Thailand, Vietnam and India), I can confidently claim:
  1. No illnesses, "Delhi belly", gastro, food poisoning or bad bottom experience.

  2. No "serious" use of the dreaded squat toilet. *shudder*

  3. No victim of / witness to any assaults, muggings, crimes or even swindles.

  4. No experience of / witness to any traffic accidents or near-misses.

How fantastic is that? I'd emotionally braced (and insured) myself for all of these and, apart from losing my mobile phone in a tuk-tuk in the last week, I got away entirely unscathed with just happy positive memories.

--- posted by Greg 12:54 PM

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No childs

Here is a fairly typical conversation that I had today with an older Sikh man at a tourist spot, whilst I was waiting for Greg.

Man: Which country you from?
Me: Australia.
Man: Ah, Australia. You working girl?
Me: Yes, I'm a lawyer.
Man: Ah, lawyer! (Indians seem to like lawyers.) You come here alone?
Me: No, I am with my husband. (Greg and I decided to say we are married, as there is no such thing as a de facto couple in India.)
Man: How long have you been married?
Me: Three years (the pre-agreed length of time that Greg and I developed for these types of conversations).
Man: How many childs?
Me: No childs.
Man: What is the problem?
Me: No problem.
Man: After the marriage, one-two year, child comes. What is problem?
Me: I am studying and working.
Man: You not like childs?
Me: Yes, I like childs. Maybe later.

Man walks off.

--- posted by Marie 9:38 PM

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hi there

Just thought I'd add my two cents worth to Greg's comprehensive blog.

As Greg said, we spend the first week of our holiday in Ton Sai Beach, near Ao Nang. The last time we were there was just before I quite the comforting womb of University for an equally sheltered existence as a career public servant. Ton Sai has become more developed since we were last there, but it has not been ruined. I think that it has been protected from overdevelopment by the fact that the beach is a ribbon of sand, followed by rocks and mud which are exposed for much of the time, preventing swimming except at high tide. This, of course, was no problem for us as all we wanted to do is lie on the beach and eat squid. It was the work of a morning to summon up the energy to go swimming and, often, the departure of the tide prevented even this (a good excuse to go back to eating seafood).

The other tourists at Ton Sai seemed vaguely perturbed when they found out we weren't climbers. (The limestone cliffs surrounding Ton Sai are magnificent and attract climbers from all over the world.) They didn't seem to think that eating squid should be a full time occupation. I disagree.

Speaking of squid (and a departure from the temporal narrative) I have to say that one of my favourite things about Thailand is the seafood. I reckon I ate seafood almost every day. There is nothing better than choosing your seafood (prawns and squid for me) from a big tray cased in ice and having it barbecued before you on the beach. That has to be about my favourite thing in the whole world. I was fortunate enough to have this for dinner on the night of my 30th birthday. Mmm... squid.

The food in Ayuthaya wasn't that memorable (although it wasn't bad either) but when we went to Bangkok, I had one of the best dinners of my life. We ate at a street eatery which consisted of a man with a massive wok and a barbecue. I had some of the best prawns I've ever had in my whole life there - I swear they were bigger than crayfish- barbecued on hot coals. Mmm... prawns.

One last thing about Thailand, I would like to endorse Greg's plug for New World Lodge Hotel - I thought they were excellent. The rooms were big, clean and quiet and the service was good. Thumbs up.

--- posted by Marie 12:19 AM

Monday, November 27, 2006

Vietnamese airport officials leave you in no doubt that you're entering a communist country: stern, straight-backed officials with massive peaked caps and firm eye-contact. What a relief to bump into Mum and Dexter in the Immigration queue! (I think Mum was in shock for a good ten minutes at the sight of us.)

After a mild snafu with the pickup/luggage, Marie and I met Hoang and his parents Mr and Mrs Nguyen and headed into town. There, we caught up with Mum and Dexter at their posh 5-star hotel for a family get-together in a far-flung land.

We stayed at the excellent Tan My Dinh Hotel in downtown Saigon. (I thoroughly recommend this hotel as having a great location, friendly and helpful staff and good, clean facilities.) Mr and Mrs Nguyen hosted us at an awesome Vietnamese restaurant, where we were toasted and feted like celebrities. We had fantastic food, inclduing some minced-prawn-on-a-sugar-cane-stick delicacies. Just superb!

We caught up with Phuong and Claire too and later Thanh, Khanh and Caitlin who were visiting Khanh's relos further out of town. We also met Dong (Thanh and Hoang's oldest brother) and his family. Mum, Dexter, Marie and I went to the crazy Ben Thanh Market for some cheap-arse clothes shopping.

The next day, we all piled into a 15-seater bus and headed south to Long Xuyen, travelling through the countryside and towns, crossing at various punts and generally averaging about 35 km/h. We checked in at the Long Xuyen Hotel (no great shake) there and met a group of crazy Brits who were riding from Saigon to Cambodia for some charity. Nutters. We had dinner with more relos - uncle and cousins I think - and discovered the delicious local spring rolls.

On Tuesday we rolled out to the small village of Lap Vo. This is where Thanh and Hoang spent their boyhood holidays and went to school for a few months. We were warmly greeted by their four aunts (sisters of Mrs Nguyen) who laid on a fantastic spread of fruits. We went up-river on a boat (Apocalpse Now style) to the family burial plot to pay our respects. Walking through the market in the village was like being Brangelina - the pointing, excited chatter, kids following etc. I was told it was quite likely that most of the kids had never seen an "Ong Tay" (= "Mr Westerner") before. Equally surreal was that Thanh was recognised by villagers from his stay some 30 years ago who stopped for a chat. Bizarre.

Then the four aunts treated us to a huge lunch consisting of many, many courses and giant yabby-like creatures the size of small crayfish. They were very sweet and it was clear to all of us that Thanh and Hoang were the apples of their eyes and those boys were very much loved.

(Incidentally, Long Xuyen will forever be in my memory as the first place I saw Mum ride in first a cyclo and then a motorcycle. Whoo-hoo! She also drank her first beer in two decades in Saigon and took to it like a duck to water. The same can't be said about the karaoke.)

On the trip back, Claire and Caitlin decided to teach Marie and me some Vietnamese. We started with counting to five, which is quite difficult since Vietnamese is a tonal language. This meant that our efforts sounded to them like "One, two, three, constipated, five", as "bong" pronounced differently has different meanings. They found this incredibly funny. For about an hour and half.

On our return to Saigon, we found that President of the US of A (a certain Mr George W. Bush) had rudely taken up residence in the hotel opposite ours. This demanded roadblocks by Very Serious Men with Automatic Weapons (who looked like they were yet to start shaving). Once we left our hotel for a late night apperitif, we couldn't return without the bellboys being summoned to fetch some official papers for us allowing us into the exclusion zone. It was all a bit of a pain. Thanks, Dubya!

The next morning we said our goodbyes and, leaving Thanh, Khanh and Caitlin behind, flew up to Hanoi. Marie and I checked into the Trung Nam Hai Hotel in the Old Quarter, just behind the Cathedral. We then caught up with Alison, who arrived that day via KL. Another run in with a family member while overseas! She suggested we have dinner at a restaurant that she'd visited a few years earlier, but couldn't remember the name. Hoang got a recommendation and took us to Indochine - which turned out to be the very place Al had in mind!

After that, we parted ways as Marie and I were hanging in Hanoi for a couple of days while the rest of the family tripped off to Cat Ba and Ha Long Bay. Marie and I really like Hanoi and it's Old Quarter. We didn't know the rest of the city, so we hired a coulpe of cyclos to take us out to the distant Thu Le Lake and Park (and shitty zoo). Great fun. It was sunny and mild (mid-20s) and though still quite humid made for a pleasant change from the heat of Saigon.

A highlight for us was catching up with Marie's 21 year-old cousin David, who's been backpacking Europe for the last few months with his mates. Needless to say, it was quite a beery occassion. At 10c a beer ("bia hoi") it's hard not to. As for the Long Island Ice Teas ... much fun. I really like the idea of bumping into relos overseas.

Certainly Hanoi is shaking off its frumpiness that I remember five years earlier. Back then, even the tourist bars shut at 11pm and the place was a desolate wasteland after 11:30pm. Now, the bars are still jumping after 2am and the number of motorcycle drivers offering marijuana has increased eight-fold. I still think Saigon has more street life and energy, though.

The rest of our visit in Hanoi was spent lounging around and perfecting the art of "stationary tourism" whereby one holes up in a street-stall sipping coffee and patiently observes the goings on outside. Of course, we visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where we spent 30 seconds processing past his laminated corpse. We also took in the propoganda at the Museum (a salient lesson for John Howard in political interference in writing the national story) and mocked the ugly communist architecture there.

We also visited the Water Puppets again, this time paying more attention to the music than the puppetry. It's taken a while, but I think I've developed an ear for the high-pitched nasal singing and speed-up/slow-down rhythms. Thoroughly recommended!

Marie and I took our last Vietnamese meal in what has been an increasingly daring round of gastro-intestinal brinksmanship. How we didn't get sick eating sub-$1 crab meat and seafood sold in the gutter is a testament to the powers of wishful thinking. We've been egging each other on into more and more "authentic" (=cheap) meals for some time now. This must stop when we get to India.

--- posted by Greg 8:19 PM

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's time to put finger to keyboard and provide an update on some of our travel on this trip.

We've spent the past week in Ton Sai Beach, on the Railay Peninsular near Ao Nang, in Krabi, Thailand. Marie and I were here a, and really enjoyed the long relax. It's relatively inaccessible, requiring access from a long-tail boat. We just spent the week lounging on the beach, drinking coffee at the little bungalows and enjoying the beer and nightly fireshows (and awesome "sea boxing") with the tourists. The beach was almost entirely populated with climbers of various flavours (from dreadlocked to corporate). We've noticed some changes - more bungalows, more development and Ao Nang has the highest density of ATM machines I've ever seen - at least one every 10m on both sides of all the road.

We stayed at Country Side Resort which was pleasant enough except for two irritations - the bed bugs and the generator just 20m away. After a few days, I got used to both and managed to go to sleep to the growl of diesel turning into electricity and awake to a few tidy rows of (surprsingly unitchy) bites. It was okay, but I wouldn't rush to re-book. While it's only 10 minutes from the beach and pleasantly removed from the busier parts, I think there are better options for accommodation.

One highlight from this time was seeing one of the larger rock monkeys descend from the cliffs and hop onto a table in a bungalow. The customer tried to frighten it away but the cheeky bugger just bared his fangs! The waiting staff appeared with slingshots and the monkey, presumably having seen this before, promptly shot up a tree to hide out without a shot fired. While Marie valiantly swam ashore to protect our personal effects, I watched with amusement as a customer threw a rock at the monkey, only to see the monkey catch and throw back the same rock!

After the requisite swimming, eating and sea-kayaking we returned to Bangkok and caught a train up to Ayutthaya. We spent three nights there which, in retrospect, was probably a night too long. It's the former imperial capital of Thailand and the key attraction is a collection of about 20 wats (or temples) in various states of decay. For most of the past 1000 years, Thai kings fought more or less constant battles with their neighbours - mostly from Burma but also Laos and Cambodia - and each victory required the construction of a wat. The Thai's seem to have won about half and on each occassion they put up a commemorative wat. (In some instances there are also condolence wats mourning a loss.) The result is that the area has the wattage of a hydro-electric dam.

We spent our days there cycling around (it's very flat - built on a flood plain at the confluence of a number of rivers), checking out the sites. I was impressed with the elephants, carefully "parked" and awaiting tourists. We stayed at a delightful guesthouse, Baan Suan, run by a very nice gentleman. It was a great place with a well-maintained and much-loved garden. The bungalow (featured on his website) was great - clean, air-con, cosy. The proprietor warmed to us after a day or so and was very helpful. It even had a nice little bar out the front which was packed with locals (well, a dozen - it's tiny).

The only downside is the dogs. Ayutthaya has a terrible problem with local dogs. They roam the streets in gangs, slinking around at all hours, looking for food, often limping or carrying other wounds (and, no doubt, disease). They bark, they fight, they shit and root in the streets. You can't go anywhere without seeing a bitch suckling a litter, or a pack harassing some lizard or something. It's really quite terrible, though they don't seem dangerous to people. The first night, we were both shocked that the barking and fighting went on for several hours ruining our sleep. I'm pretty sure the results of each night's fights are reported in the local press. I spotted a "Bark Stopper 2000" (or similar) supersonic dog control device plugged in and had a chat to the proprietor about his plight. It seems the neighbourhood dogs are protected and there is no civil or criminal redress for their awful behaviour. The poor bloke is at his wits end but it seems the problem is widespread throughout the whole town. That said, the third night wasn't too bad: the site of a run-over dog out the front, it's guts spread out over a couple of square metres, steaming in the hot sun, probably put the mongrels in a more sombre mood.

We returned to Bangkok for two nights, which is a great city to just wander around. We were staying in the Banglamphu area, near the river. We caught a boat up and down the river and just spent a day poking around the markets and "must-see" streets. I especially enjoyed catching a bus back to our hotel (number 53 from Hua Lamphong Station). It took about an hour and went through all the major districts. While I'm no stranger to Bangkok's crazy traffic, this bus trip was something else. Amazingly, the bus employs quantum superposition to enable navigation though Chinatown, where the traffic actually occupies 120% of the available road area. It has to be seen to be believed.

Our hotel for two nights was the New World Lodge Hotel. We found it to be a really nice hotel, well run, clean and comfortable. The location is great, seeing as how it's a few hundred metres from Khaosan Rd. The buffet breakfast was the best I've had in Thailand with a designated egg chef ready to whip up an omlette or over-easy as you please. Okay, so the Muslim ownership means there's no booze - but there's plenty of that around. I will definitely re-book when next in Bangkok.

Speaking of food, in the laneway off from the hotel is a great street eatery where we had the best cheap meals of our trip. Giant prawns, fresh squid, delicious spring rolls all prepared by a flamboyant Thai-Chinese chef right there on the street. You haven't seen showboating with a wok until you've seen this guy working the crowd. Great stuff!

OK - next we're flying over to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to catch up with a large chunk of my family for ten days in Vietnam. Going to be a blast!

--- posted by Greg 9:07 PM

Friday, April 15, 2005

It's been a while since we posted, but there has been the arrival last month of a new person: Emily Jane Withers. Congrats to Neal and Penny for making a baby. They both worked very hard from concept(ion) to delivery and can now enjoy the fruits of their labour. (Check out the photos and movies - this is going to be one heavily documented kid!)

We've all been pretty busy at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. As always, Lawrence and Andy's show - the Somewhat Secret Secret Society Show - has been getting well-deserved rave reviews. Personal favourites this year include Marie Bamford (again!), for the focused, deliberate and public vivisection of her twisted family and colleagues (via insanse characterisations and, well, silly voices); and Rich Hall, for his effortless gags, masterful audience interaction, and sparing use of his Nick Cave-like piano work. I also thought that Dave O'Neil wasn't bad, as far as FM breakfast radio types go.

Geeta reported that Chris Addison was pretty good, and Antony really liked Daniel Kitson's late show - especially when he turned up the house lights and booted out some English hecklers.

Only disappointment for me was Mike Wilmot. He did a great grumpy old man schtick on the television (the gala), but seemed to be about 30 minutes short of material and padded it out with largely unfunny profanity and audience abuse. While I don't object to that per se, in his case, it just wasn't that good. Oh well, maybe I just caught him on a bad night.

--- posted by Greg 2:48 PM

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Happy New Year, to one and all!

I had the traditional family Christmas in Warrnambool - including the monster tent in the backyard. We also had an extended family gathering, augmented as we were with Thanh and Hoang's parents, Mr and Mrs Nguyen. It was great to have a break and just hang out with the family. After a brief stop over in Melbourne, I met Marie and her family at their beach house in Inverloch and spent the New Year weekend there relaxing and walking on the beach.

Highlights from last week included my first solo all-day baby-sitting effort. Luka was returned relatively unscathed and I managed two pooey nappies without vomiting. Looking forward to another visit from the little chappy soon.

We also kicked off the pub night series by trying out the Beer Garden upstairs at the Corner Hotel, Richmond. Nice weather and the menu was pretty good (more emphasis on value than quality IMHO although the vegeterian range was undeniably better than the London Tavern up the road).

I've started a new blog, this time tracking the media frenzy associated with Aussie Rules footballers and their dastardly off-field behaviour:

With the main AFL season still some months away, it's suprising how much press they're already generating!

--- posted by Greg 6:34 PM

Saturday, November 20, 2004

We seem to be in birthday season at the moment, starting with Gerd. So, alles gutes zum Geburtstag! Next was Marie (hitting the big 28) - happy birthday. In a couple of weeks we have Neal's and then Geeta's, which should keep us busy.

Other news: Antony had his economics exam today and can now commence total immersion training for the Murray River Marathon, where he will paddle over 400 km in five gruelling days.

Lastly, I have reformatted my letters page as a blog called Vent which allows other people to post comments. Kudos to Taj for being first to post a comment, within hours of going live.


--- posted by Greg 1:22 AM

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Dear Neal

It's lovely to hear from you - I trust that you and Penny are both well. Your new house sounds great - let us know about a housewarming!

We have a new pub for pub nights - one that has a huge smoke-free back area that we have to ourselves, and where the meals arrive within a couple of hours of when you order them! So we'll look forward to seeing you there with lil bubs next year.

Next pub night will probably be next Tue 28th.

See you there!


--- posted by Marie 3:58 PM

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