Archive for March, 2015

I do like to see a sculpture by the sea side

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Last weekend I finally managed to head to Cottesloe Beach to see the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition. Every year the beach and groyne are dotted with sculptures made by local and international artists. I really love this exhibition as it adds a dash of unexpected art to an area that is normally reserved for beachy-sporty-types. Of course, Cottesloe beach is located in the super rich western suburbs and so most people who swim here most likely own more sculptures in their own back yards. But the exhibition does provide easy access to sculpture for people who wouldn’t normally dare go near it.

sculptures by the sea

Cottesloe beach covered in sculptures

I headed to Cottesloe at 8am, hoping to beat the Sunday morning crowds. Clearly lots of people had the same idea as me and it was already quite busy by the time I arrived. Having parked in a 30 minute parking zone I had a limited time to explore before the eager rangers stuck a parking ticket on my car.

In general, the sculptures were interesting and it was fabulous to wander in between them, spotting those that blended into the background. However in recent years it seems there is pressure to create pieces that are ‘talking points’ rather than just lovely pieces of art. Instead of creating works that sit magically with the natural landscape, there seems to be a push to create pieces that stand out and just look odd. I’m all for contemporary art, but I also think there is so much potential for creating something that goes beyond being a marketing tool for the exhibition.

sculptures by the sea

Mini-windmills

There were some nice works (I really enjoyed some ‘Twister-esque’ windmills on poles and the red flamingos were nicely built) and it was a great 30 minutes. But I didn’t feel like I was missing much when I headed back to my car when my time was up.

Red flamingos

Red flamingos

Creepy Crawlies

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

So the good news is that Sir Pubert has booked tickets to come and visit. He is leaving the safety of England and venturing to the southern colony, a brave decision considering his apparent fear of anything that moves.

Growing up in Australia you get used to being constantly surrounded by bugs. Flies, ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, stink bugs (although I haven’t seen one of them in ages), slaters, spiders, moths… you develop excellent wrist muscles from swatting something away from your face every 30 seconds or so. While you do get used to it, they are also really freaking annoying. Having flies on your food or a cockroach running around on the wall just above your bed when you want to go to sleep really isn’t fun. Sitting in an ants nest is the pits.

However, despite this, when I moved to Europe and discovered that there just aren’t any insects over there, I missed my crawly friends. You’re never alone in Australia as there is always some sort of small, multi-legged creature watching you or attempting to steal your food. Right now, I am the only active human in my house but I am being gentle serenaded by the high-pitched vibrations of cicadas outside. On the beams of the roof I’m fairly certain there are spiders and there’s likely to be something crawly walking under the couch as I sit here writing this.

What most Europeans/Brits (eg. Sir Pubert) fail to realise, however, is that while we do have a lot of insects in Australia, they’re not all poisonous. I have been back in the country for almost two months and am yet to die. While this may be some sort of pre-Easter miracle, it is more likely due to the fact that most insects are just annoying and not venomous.

Saying that, I did have an altercation with a Red Back spider (red = danger = poison = go to hospital) this morning. I was still half asleep, but luckily it was too. With the help of some eucalyptus scented bug spray (the fresh smell makes it seem like you’re doing good things to nature rather than killing innocent creatures) and a tissue, I managed to win the battle of good and evil. There is an abnormally large number of Red Backs around my house at the moment building nests in roof beams, door frames, and the hot water heater. I found about 20 teeny-tiny baby Red Backs who had clearly all just hatched from their eggs in my car door the other day. While babies are cute, I really didn’t want 20 Red Backs in my car so I politely asked them, and their very large mother, to leave.

red back spider

The worst thing about Red Backs is that sometimes they don’t have red backs.

Apart from the Red Backs I haven’t seen anything potentially life threatening. One of the regular morning swimmers at the beach reckons he saw a shark chasing salmon the other week but he likes a good story so the validity of his sighting is a little rocky. So it is safe for Sir Pubert to come and visit. I just hope he survives the sniffer dog at the Perth airport on his arrival.

You Know You’re in Australia When…

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

The past few years of living in foreign countries, my eyes have developed an instinct to constantly search for new and unique things. I have learnt to spot small details that many people would overlook because it is in their home country and therefore part of the background. Returning to Perth, I have felt like a bit of an outsider, rediscovering the city again after four years of being away. The city has grown enormously over that time thanks to rich miners spending money on housing, commerce and business properties. There are so many new shops, cafés, bars, hipster hang outs and places to be, which is very exciting for a once sleepy town. It is fantastic to see some life and activity injected into Perth and, dare I say it, even a little bit of c-u-l-t-u-r-e.

This eye-opening experience has meant that I have spotted a few quintessential Australian sights that I hadn’t really noticed before. Two of my favourites are:

  1. While every service station in the UK sells firewood, at ‘servos’ in Australia you can usually buy fishing bait. I was driving to Bullsbrook with my Dad the other week and was therefore at least a 40 minute drive from any sort of ocean or body of water, and we went past a petrol station with a sign advertising ‘Bait’. Why you would buy fishing bait in the hills of Perth, I’m not sure. My local servo, located in one of the ooh-la-la posh suburbs, also sells bait. While this makes more sense as it’s less than 10 minutes from both the river and the ocean, but I still doubt many western suburbs ladies who lunch will be picking up some tackle.
  2. Drive through bottle-os. It has dawned on me how illogical drive through bottle shops (that’s a store where you purchase liquor for all of my non-Australian readers) are considering Australia is such a nanny-state where you can’t do anything even close to dangerous or illegal without someone wagging their finger at you. I hope we never get rid of them though because I really enjoy the smell of refrigerated alcohol and cardboard boxes that permeates from the door.

So they are two nuggets of Australian quirkiness that I wanted to share with you. I love a sunburnt country.

Daily Triathlon

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

After being back in Perth for a month, I am now feeling more ‘at home’ as I have found myself a morning routine. I like to say that I complete a triathlon every morning before work but that may be a slight exaggeration.

5.50am – My alarm goes off and I regret having set it the night before. It takes me 20 or so minutes to roll out of bed, wash my face and get changed before going for a run. Most mornings I will do a 7 kilometre run, trying to get back home just before 7am.

7am – I drive to the beach with Mum, Dad and Cali for a quick swim. The last few mornings have been absolutely glorious – the water has been calm and clear and you can spot fish swimming around your legs. After a quick paddle and splash about in the ocean, we get back in the car and head home.

north cottesloe beach

Mornings at the beach.

8.45am – Having showered, dressed and eaten breakfast I quickly throw together my things for work and jump on my bike. The final leg of the triathlon is a 3 kilometre ride on my 3-speed, dutch style bike, avoiding hills as much as possible. Unfortunately the route to work requires me to go uphill, and while my bike is super stylish, it is in no way designed to go up hills.

By 9am I am at my desk having completely a fairly pathetic triathlon. And then I fall asleep.

One Month Down

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Believe it or not, I have been back in Perth for an entire month and I am yet to turn into a fried lobster. You could even say I have a ‘slight tan’, which mostly means I am not obscenely white – just very white.

It has been a busy month and I think life is about to become even busier. I now have two jobs. Yes, two. Why get one, when you can have two? Both positions are casual roles for the Subiaco local council – the first is working in the community engagement team while the other involves me organising cultural events in the library. I then come home and write amazing things for my clients, so I have been spending a lot of time lately staring at computer screens.

Meanwhile, my left foot is becoming more in tune with the movement of a clutch and I am slowly improving at this whole ‘manual car’ thing. I will admit to one rather large hissy-fit that was the result of a three-point turn, a hill start and a (luckily) very patient person waiting for me to work out the pedals. The fact that it was 38 degrees at the time didn’t help.

Last Saturday I volunteered for the Perth International Arts Festival again, this time at the new (well, new to me seeing as it had only just opened when I left Perth four years ago) State Theatre. I encouraged children and their parents to colour in flying machines and then have them projected onto a large digital installation. It was fantastic fun – watching children gain so much joy from seeing their artworks turned into magical moving images on a large screen was very pleasing.

PIAF

My art work zooming around on the screen.

Now I must dash and go to bed. I have taken to waking up at 5.50am to go for a run and/or head to the beach for a swim before getting ready for work. Ridiculous, yes. Enjoyable, also yes. A day without pre-breakfast exercise isn’t a day that you want to meet me. They say exercise gives you endorphins – I think it just sweats out my grumpiness.

Sun vs Snow

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Apparently it is cold and snowing/sleeting in Manchester. It isn’t here.

Blue skies in Perth

So sunny. So blue.