Day Trip to Parramatta

As we made our way into the park hosting Parramasala (the arts festival at Parramatta in Sydney “that celebrates the global impact of asian arts and cultures”) an older couple with European accents approached us. “Is there anywhere nearby where we can just get a nice sandwich?”, they asked us, almost in desperdation. Perhaps we were wrong to assume, but we later laughed about this, concluding they might have found the food on sale in the park a little “challenging”.

We had come to the park to see a poetry slam. My own connection with poetry slams goes back to 2008, when working for 702 ABC Sydney, I was the executive producer for radio of the National Poetry Slam at the Sydney Opera House. The event was also shown on ABC-TV and was co-hosted by Andrew Daddo (then the 702 Evening Show presenter) and Miles Merrill, who pretty much brought the poetry slam genre to Australia. The winner that night was a bloke called Omar Musa, who has since gone on to fame and success with a book earlier this year that both sold well and was received well by the critics.

Both were at today’s poetry slam. The slam and the poetry was interesting enough, though slightly challenging for us since half the poems were performed in Hindi. It made it a little hard to judge which were good and which weren’t, aside from making judgements about musicality and performance.

Still, it was a fun thing to do, and we caught the ferry back which is a lovely trip.

Love Dem Apples

Discovered a new shop on my morning walk around Surry Hills, this morning. “Love dem Apples” sells what appears to be “gourmet” toffee apples. Very tempting, though possibly a little too early in the day.

The Friendly Bus Driver

Not the actual bus.

Not the actual bus.

Have just sent the following note to Sydney Buses…

I know you get lots of complaints. Previously I’ve complained about drivers who fail to stop. But today, I’d like to pass on a compliment about the driver of the 393 route, bus 4873 which just brought me home from Railway Square. He greeted everyone with a smile and a “how are you”, and as people got off he wished them well. You could “feel” the impact it had on passengers to be welcomed on a bus. So, a big thumbs up to the driver, and I hope he does well and continues to maintain his positive energy.

Hoping you might encounter this driver on your next Sydney bus trip

The Big Prawn at Ballina

45 Minutes in Ballina

After the glorious weather of the last few days, I’ve arrived back in Sydney to a thunderstorm. I like thunderstorms, by the way.

I went in to the Lismore office for work today and got a remarkable amount done. I guess that’s always the way when you’re out of your regular workspace.

Mid afternoon, I headed home and then we made our way to Ballina Airport for the flight home. We actually arrived at the airport about forty-five minutes earlier than expected as the traffic was unexpectedly good.

With a bit of time to spare, we did a bit of sight-seeing. After years of neglect, it was great to see the Big Prawn has been given a lick of paint. It was also a lovely day at the beach which was nearly deserted, possibly due to strong winds.

Here are some photographs taken during 45 minutes in Ballina.

Railway Bridge crossing the Wilson's River at Lismore

Back Home

As I made way through the main park in the centre of Lismore, I saw a group of men sitting in the bandstand. “Hey brother, watch out for the magpie”, one of them yelled out to me. Having grown up with blonde, straw-like hair, I was well aware of the risk of magpies at this time of the year. As if by some strange cruel twist of fate, magpies would regularly nest in the trees near both my primary school (South Lismore) and high school (Richmond River). After the bloke yelled out to warn me, another followed it up with, “He’s already swooped three other baldies today”. We all laughed.

Of far greater risk than the magpie was the potentially stupid decision I made to cross the old railway bridge between North and South Lismore. It’s something I’d done many times as a child without risk. A few family members worked on the railways, and I would regularly travel over the bridge, as I accompanied one most weekends to check the track between Lismore and Bexhill. That’s of course, back in the days when trains regularly travelled through Lismore. As it’s at least a decade, probably longer, since the last train came through Lismore, I felt I could comfortably walk across the railway bridge. I hadn’t counted on the missing sleepers which appeared half way across, and so my crossing was somewhat tentative, and it was with a sigh of relief I crossed to the other side. A warning for kiddies: don’t ever attempt what this stupid forty-something did earlier today.

I’m home for the weekend visiting family. As quite a few of them are much older than I am, I figured a walk around would be a good thing to do, as they retired to an afternoon nap. I made my 10,000 steps (and more) wandering around North Lismore, South Lismore and the CBD. Here are some of the photographs I took along the way.

La Perouse

Even though I’ve lived in Sydney for almost twenty years, I’ve never been to La Perouse before today. I think it’s because I’m not much of a “beach person” (fair skin and all that). But when Sue texted me today and asked me if I wanted to go, I quickly said yes.

And why not? The weather today was spectacular. Blue skies. Definitely not too hot. It was perfect weather for wandering around the beach, having an ice-cream, and having a chat about life, the universe and everything.

The coastline is really beautiful. There’s some really wonderful sandstone.

There were lots of people basking in the glory of the South Sydney win in the NRL, wearing their jerseys. “When do you think they’ll take them off?”, Sue wondered.

Sondheim on Sondheim

Sondheim on Sondheim

My friend Colin had a framed type-written signed letter from Stephen Sondheim on the wall of his apartment. He also had one from Dame Judi Dench also, but that’s just bragging :) I don’t remember exactly what the letter said, though I’m guessing, since it was Sondheim, it was probably beautifully written, sensitive and with a twist of humour. I don’t imagine it was a form letter.

The reason I feel this way is because I began to understand a little more about his character from attending “Sondheim on Sondheim”, a musical review featuring some of the best of his works, currently playing at Sydney’s Seymour Centre. The songs are accompanied video inserts of Sondheim himself providing a narrative, talking about his works (the good, the bad, the indifferent) and his feelings about them many years later. The narration is very funny, often touching (as he spoke about being raised by Oscar Hammerstein, for example), and always witty and intelligent.

The performances in this particular production are stellar. “There wasn’t a single dud amongst them”, a friend who is a performer told me during intermission. Great voices. Great harmonies.

Though it could have been little more than a “hits and memories” musical, this particular review steers clear of that. Sadly for me, the production failed to include some his bigger hits, “Another Hundred People” and “Ladies Who Lunch” (for example), instead featuring some of his more obscure works. One song, for example, we’re told was only performed once and then dropped. There’s also a segment which takes the piss out of arguably his best known work, “Send In The Clowns”. Very funny.

If you love musical theatre, I’d highly recommend seeing it during its short run at the Seymour Centre. Colin would have loved it, I’m sure.