Broken Soles

May 27th, 2015

I found a pair of Camper boots in my cupboard on Friday and got excited. Black ankle boots with a wedge hill that made my chosen outfit look fantastic. I headed off to work feeling very pleased that I had rediscovered my boots.

Having ridden my bike to work and sat down in front of my computer for 15 minutes or so, I happened to look down at the floor and noticed grains of black rubber scattered over the floor around my chair. Closer inspection and previous experience brought me to the realisation that the rubber grains were pieces of the soles of my shoes.

Then the grains turned into chunks and soon I was leaving trails of black rubber throughout the office. It would appear that leaving a pair of rubber soled shoes in a cupboard for over four years will result in the rubber becoming brittle and rapidly disintegrating on impact. By lunch time, my colleague, Matt, had expertly strapped the soles of both of my shoes with black gaffer tape, purely to ensure that the soles wouldn’t fall off entirely.

Goodbye sole.

Goodbye sole.

It was a sad day. It was like showing a cute kitten to a small child in the morning and then grabbing the cat away and saying, “No kitten for you!” by the afternoon. Such a waste of perfectly lovely boots.

Speed Racer

May 24th, 2015

I never sleep well before running events. It’s quite frustrating as my body could quite easily use that energy when running excessive numbers of kilometres. However, I arrived at the start line for the HBF Run for a Reason on William Street at about 6.10am and waited for my cousin Kate and her friend Karina to arrive. As they walked towards me bleary eyed and we all grunted at each other, it was relieving to see that I wasn’t the only one lacking sleep.

There were about 3500 people competing in the half marathon and another of 28,000 completed the 4km or 12km courses. It is always so nice to see so many people participating in events like these. The atmosphere is very positive and supportive and it is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

The race started at 6.30am with a hill climb up Malcolm Street in the first kilometre. Big thanks to Kate and Karina who helped me up this hill. I hate hills and Kate took the lead and powered us up. She then told me to be on my way as I had a time to beat – Sir Pubert had clearly been in a good mood the day before and had promised me dinner (to the value of £20… wow…) if I completed the half marathon in 1 hour 56 minutes or less. I was quietly confident but Kate and Karina’s pace meant that I wouldn’t make that time so I wished them well on their journey and picked up speed. As many of you know, I’ll do anything for food and running slightly faster seemed achievable.

Mum, Dad and Cali were waiting to cheer me on in Kings Park which was fantastic – not many other competitors had street side cheer squads so I was very honoured. After I had passed them, a fellow runner commented on my Paris Marathon tshirt and we started chatting. He and I ran together for the majority of the course so more thanks go to my new running buddy, Courtney, for distracting me from the pain.

The course was very enjoyable with plenty of good views in Kings Park, along the river and through the city. The long stretch along the Graham Farmer freeway was a bit dull and tedious and seemed to go forever. However a chocolate flavoured Gü gel spurred me on and my legs continued to feel pretty good.

The final five kilometres were rather painful as I became aware that time was going against me and I needed to pick up speed. So I said farewell to Courtney and told my legs to move it. The final kilometre was just ow. My thighs are questioning my logic, however I am very, very, VERY happy to say that Sir Pubert is taking me out for dinner. With a final time of 1 hour and 55 minutes, than £20 meal is going to taste oh so good.

Another medal!

Another medal!

Inspired by Travel – Collagraph Fun

May 20th, 2015

While many a Perthian complained by the excessive rain that fell across the city on Sunday (it was some serious rain… None of that Manchester drizzle rubbish), my Dad and I had clearly known that the weather was going to turn and had booked a collagraph printing course. Held at the beautiful studio of Beau Est Mien in Northbridge, we joined our class at 10.30am for five hours of printing fun.

Beau Est Mien is the wonderful studio of artist Magali Dincher. I proudly own a print created by Magali  that has travelled with me from Paris to Manchester and that is waiting to be hung on my next wall. She is a creative inspiration for me and I would love the opportunity to watch her work.

The course was run by one of her studio staff, Carly, a Curtin Fine Arts graduate. Twelve eager students sat around the trestle tables waiting to learn.

Collagraph printing is remarkably simple – it involves the applying a bondcrete varnish to a piece of matt board and then you etch an image into the varnish layer. You then apply etching ink and put your board through a printing press with a wet piece of paper. And then discover the results.

My masterpiece

My masterpiece

The theme for the class was ‘Travel’ and we had all brought photographs of places we had been or wanted to visit. Not knowing the process, I was instantly disappointed with my choices in photographs and I would have made very different selections if I could have started again. However, for a first attempt at collagraph it wasn’t bad and I learnt enough about the process to be able to do it again on my own at home. This technique allows for a lot more detail than lino printing however has its own limitations with the thickness and style of lines you can draw.

We experimented with water colour at the end of the class

We experimented with water colour at the end of the class

I highly recommend doing a printing course at Beau Est Mien – it is a fantastic way to spend a soggy Sunday.

Carn the Dockers!

May 15th, 2015

No trip to Australia would be complete without seeing a game of AFL. I say this as an Australian who had never been to a live AFL match until Sir Pubert came to visit. I managed to get cheap-seat tickets for the two of us and my brother for the Dockers vs Essendon game at Subiaco Oval (or Patterson Stadium or Domain Stadium or whatever you want to call it.)

Up close to the action

Up close to the action

As I had never bought tickets for a game before, I managed to get us seats in the Essendon fans’ section, which wasn’t quite what I planned as it resulted in a fairly boring game for us to watch as the Dockers dominated. Despite this, it was entertaining to listen to the family of Essendon supporters sitting in front of us yell abuse at the players and umpires as their team failed to deliver. The little girl kept reminding her dad that he shouldn’t swear and then turn back to the action to yell at the players.

Our position right behind the goal meant we were amongst the action as the ball was kicked through. There was one goal from Essendon that resulted in the ball hurtling straight towards us and Sir Pubert touching the man who touched the ball. Impressive.

The Dockers won easily and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the captain, Matthew Pavlich, up close and slicked up with baby oil. Those footballers sure do have arm muscles…

Escape from Penguin Island

May 15th, 2015

On Sir Pubert’s last day in sunny Perth, I took him to one of WA’s most prized tourist destinations – Penguin Island. As the name would suggest, Penguin Island is a small rocky island that is home to around 1000 penguins. We were staying in my aunt’s beachside apartment down the road in Shoalwater and headed over to PI around lunch time. While it is possible to walk across a sandbar stretching from the mainland to the island, the extensive “DO NOT WALK ACROSS THE SANDBAR” signage and the fact that we were carrying delicious sandwiches for lunch that would run the risk of getting wet, meant we decided to catch the ferry.

Heading off to Penguin Island

Heading off to Penguin Island

As soon as we stepped off the ferry and onto the poop-covered jetty, hundreds of pissed-off seagulls rose from their shrubby nests and hovered menacingly above our heads. Within the first 30 seconds, Sir Pubert had been pooped on and I was laughing at him.

It didn’t take us long to realise that we weren’t going to see any penguins that day but we were going to spend a lot of time trying to stay away from sharp-beaked seagulls. It would appear that it was mating/nesting season for the thousands of screechy birds who had built nests and laid eggs alongside the designated tourist walk paths. This meant that every step we took was one closer to another protective mother. It did make for some light entertainment watching nervous tourists trying to escape from attacking seagulls.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Apart from the grumpy gulls, our visit to Penguin Island was great. Despite being located so close to the industrial zones of Kwinana and Rockingham, the rocky coastline is surprisingly pretty and we managed to find a quiet spot to sit and each our lunch. We were also welcomed by a sleepy seal who had found a sunny spot on one of the island’s beaches. He flopped around on the sand and provided some excellent photo opportunities for the island’s visitors and reminded me a lot of Sir Pubert in his somnolent states.

Show off.

Show off.

Back to Training

May 15th, 2015

After two weeks of relative slacking, it has suddenly dawned on me that I am one week and one day away from running a half marathon. The HBF Run for a Reason is next Sunday and I have signed up to complete the 21 kilometre course. While I am more confident in my ability to complete the distance, it is still quite daunting thinking about how I will have to put one leg in front of the other over and over again for around two hours. Luckily the run isn’t this Sunday as the current weather forecast is for thunderstorms and heavy rain. Let’s hope it clears up during the week.

In the meantime, I agreed to raise money for Arthritis WA and they even sent me a tshirt in the mail. I now feel incredibly guilty that they have spent money on me when I haven’t raised any useful funds for them. So, my lovely, generous readers, I am hoping that you will help me collect at least enough to cover postage. It is a very worthwhile cause and all of my family members who are riddled with arthritis will thank you for your kindness. Please donate via my ‘Everyday Hero page‘. Thanks!

Sir Pubert Survives Australia

May 12th, 2015

He came, he saw, he conquered, and now he has left.

The last two and a half weeks have been fantastic – Sir Pubert Gladstone came to visit and we spent the time exploring Perth and beyond. It is always difficult to show someone from overseas my home country and to find the interesting and unique parts that may actually be worth seeing. Luckily, despite his title, Sir Pubert is easily pleased and frequently asked to visit local supermarkets and Bunnings (Australia’s B&Q) instead of hot tourist spots.

forest

Beautiful forest in the South West

I will try and find the time to write more about our adventures as many were had but I can announce that we managed to tick the following items off the ‘must see in Australia’ list:

  1. Many kangaroos
  2. A snake
  3. A seal
  4. Stingers
  5. Emus
  6. Living rocks (Thrombolites)
  7. Bogans
  8. A dolphin
  9. An Aussie Rules game
  10. Plenty of flies
  11. A bandicoot
  12. Multiple dead foxes
  13. A rat.
Kangaroos

Our first spotting of kangaroos

Sir Pubert successfully attempted the 7am beach swim in chilly conditions and touched a man who touched the ball at a Fremantle Dockers match. Amazing.

I am not overly thrilled that it is all over and that I have to return to the reality of life but I guess it is 3 months until it will be me getting on a plane and flying to Manchester. In the meantime, I will just look at my photos from the last 2 weeks over and over again and pretend it is still happening.

Great Walls of Leederville

April 20th, 2015

Perth has been surprising me lately with some exciting initiatives that are bringing life and colour to the city. FORM, a creative cultural organisation that does so much for the arts scene of Perth, has once again initiated an amazing collection of public art pieces scattered throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.

Form

So much detail.

On Saturday, my friend Simone and I, wandered through West Leederville to check out nine or so murals that are being painted to the sides of buildings throughout the main cultural precinct. Most were still being painted with the artists being lift up by cherry pickers. These pieces add so much colour and vibrancy to otherwise dull, concrete buildings. The biggest winner, in my opinion, was the Water Corp building that has been transformed from an ugly concrete box into a giant water fountain.

Water corp Form

Adding a touch of blue to the Water Corp building

Well done to the team at FORM for bringing this to Perth. May it be embraced and continue into the future. Big thumbs up.

No Longer a Loser Learner

April 20th, 2015

It seemed like such an achievable goal – upgrade my automatic driving license to a manual. My 17-year-old self made the fatal mistake of giving up on the clutch way back in 2003 and I have only been able to drive automatic cars since. My time in Europe and the UK has demonstrated that this was a silly, silly thing to do as most cars in the northern hemisphere have that whole moving stick thing and additional pedal. I was back in Perth for six months – I would quickly learn to drive a manual car and upgrade my license.

Yeah. Easy. Not. Learning to drive wasn’t the hard part and once I had worked out what to do with my feet and had thrown one or two hissy fits, I was relatively confident. Surely I would pass the practical test with ease.

Apparently I was wrong. As I sat in the car park of the City West Transport office at 7.30 this morning, my stomach churning and a feeling of doom descending upon me, my Dad turned to me and joked, “Well at least this will make a good blog post.” I didn’t laugh. This was the second time in two weeks that I was attempting to pass my practical test. Two weeks ago my Dad and I drove out to Mirrabooka and after 35 minutes of driving around the suburban streets, I was informed I had failed.

Failed? But I have been driving for 12 years. I have never had a car accident. I can reverse parallel park. I understand the concept of ‘merging’ and I stick to my lane in a two-lane roundabout. And yet I had failed my test without stalling, without crashing, without killing an innocent pedestrian.

According to the driving test man, who has since gained nicknames that I can’t write because my mother reads this, I was coasting and therefore he was obliged to fail me. I also apparently took too long to find somewhere to turn around in the ‘Oh no, I have forgotten my wallet’ turn-around-and-go-back-to-where-we-started task. This was purely because he didn’t like the drive way that I had chosen to use as it was apparently too close to the crest of a hill. I also have thoughts on this but again, too many rude words are involved.

After much discussion with fellow driving test failures (aka the entire driving population of Western Australia) this guy was failing me just because he could. I may as well have not driven anywhere and had him give me a list of ridiculous reasons as to why I can’t drive. It resulted in me having nightmares last night about failing once again because I didn’t take my foot off the clutch early enough when turning corners.

But today was a good day. I was with a friendly man named Paul (yes, Paul) who was from the UK (yep) who seemed keen to pass me from the start. This time I drove around for 35 minutes feeling like I couldn’t do anything wrong. He suggested easy places for me to turn around, encouraged me to nudge my way in to a busy row of traffic and said “Just go through” when a traffic light turned orange as I approached. At the end of my test he said I had passed with 100 per cent which is a significantly different result to two weeks ago. Either my left foot had gained epic skillz over that short time period or there’s something just not quite right about the system – who am I to say? All I know is that I passed and I no longer have to drive around with bright yellow ‘L’ plates attached to my car and my dad sitting in the seat next to me.

I’m Still Here

April 7th, 2015

This last weekend was made up of four glorious days of non-work. I have come to appreciate my weekends so much more now that I have a 9 to 5 job and I’m not my own very relaxed, ‘yeah sure you can have a really long lunch’ boss. Weekends don’t come fast enough and then they disappear before you know it. Cruel, cruel world.

Work has evolved once again and I am currently working four days a week filling roles in the Community Engagement, Communications, Cultural Services, Administration and Communications (again) departments at the Subiaco Council. I am waiting to be asked to act as Mayor for the day. I spend my fifth day and most of my evenings writing for my clients in the UK. It is definitely appealing to my scatty brain to be working in so many different areas at one time.

Today was the first time in two months that I wasn’t able to eat my lunch outside in the sunshine in a park next to the council. The Easter rain arrived a few days late and it completely ruined my lunch time Vitamin-D ritual. It is still a novelty for me to be able to go outside and be 1. warm and 2. not wet. Alas, winter is on its way.

Blue skies over the Swan River

Blue skies over the Swan River

Good news – the Easter Bunny came. Perhaps thanks to the fact that I am one of the oldest children still living at home with their parents in the world, that chocolate-producing rabbit still managed to find me and leave a trail of… well… poop to a delicious dark chocolate Lindt bunny. Cheers, mate.

Follow the trail!

Follow the trail!

My cousin, Sophie, got married on Sunday so it was a weekend of kitchen teas, dresses, and tears of joy. It was lovely to be able to spend a lot of time with my family, especially the few hours that I spent with my close girl cousins, helping Sophie get ready. It was nice to be in the same country and be part of a family celebration for once, as the last few years I have usually been on the other side of the world.

Apart from that, my adventures in Perth have come to a standstill and largely involve my house, work and my grandma’s house. I am looking forward to two weeks of showing Sir Pubert where I went to primary school, which spiders are actually dangerous and which supermarket I like to go to. I bet he’s excited, too.