Month: October 2012

Bags of Bones and Botox: Sydney Trophy Wives

Continuing my deep dive into Sydney’s social scene, Kathryn and I are at an arty event, hob-nobbing with the Eastern suburbs glitterati.   We’re having a coffee and chatting just before it’s due to kick off.  Three hookers walk in.

Kathryn turns round to see what I’m looking at and her inbuilt tart-o-meter readings go nuclear.  Setting her fashion laser to ‘death stare’, she analyses the feedback and pronounces ‘hmmm, the trophy wives have arrived’.

They enter the room in a gaggle (or maybe a goggle if you’re a bloke), lots of bare skin, manes of glossy, flicky hair, a bit of frou-frou happening on the fashion front and not much clothing per square inch – what there was SQUEEZED into tiny sizes (you weren’t kidding anyone – I was going to say ‘girls’ but that would have been inaccurate – ladies); casually expensive clothes chosen with a lot of care to look, umm, casually expensive.

Everything was pert and firm but they had the featureless, immobile faces – I’ve never seen botox en masse before.

The skinniest was clearly top tart; the emaciation hidden to some extent by fake tan. The others were wannabes; thin by proximity – except that never quite works does it?  It just ends up like ‘who’s the heifer standing next to the skinny chick?’

They spent their time looking around to see if anyone was looking at them, and competitively not eating.

An interesting species to look at, but as a bloke I know put it, ‘like talking to a table’.


Zombies – Trifextra Weekend Challenge

This week’s challenge has a Halloween theme – write 33 words that are somehow related to a zombie sighting.

Even once she’d seen the photo, Sandra still didn’t get what all this zombie fuss was about.   She agreed though, that her new Target t-shirt did make her look a bit washed out.

I found this topic quite hard and didn’t think I’d be able to come up with anything – but once I’d sat down and started typing, all sorts of ideas came.

It’s a very good discipline – the sitting down, the thinking, the ‘letting the words come’  and the shaping.  Frustrating (it took me over an hour to get these 33 words) but also very enjoyable and worth it to actually finish something.

Crave Sydney Event: The Chef and the Gardener @ Chiswick

Kathryn and I took Wednesday off to mingle with the bold and the beautiful over in Woollahra at a Crave Sydney event.

Chiswick is the new restaurant owned by Matt Moran of Aria and Masterchef fame, and restaurateur Peter Sullivan.  The event proposed a tour of the restaurant garden and a 3 course lunch with matched wines.  Sounded pretty perfect to me.

It’s a beautiful, sunny Sydney day when we arrive.  Matt Moran introduces himself and welcomes us all to the restaurant.

He gave us some background – he originally wasn’t quite sure what sort of place he wanted.  He knew it wouldn’t be another fine dining-themed restaurant, so his partner suggested creating somewhere he himself would like to eat.  So that’s what they’ve done – good, simple food in a beautiful setting.

We started in the garden.

The garden came about because, due to noise restrictions, the space can’t be used for anything restaurant-y, so they created a kitchen garden under Pete Hatfield.

Pete, Head Gardener

We stood in the warmth, under date palms waving in the breeze, and spent an absorbing half-hour pottering around while he told us about his tomatoes, lettuces, the pests (white butterflies), herbs, artichokes and how he keeps it all healthy and thriving.

Space saving – herbs growing on the fence

The kitchen doesn’t dictate what’s grown – Pete works it out with them as they can have bizarre ideas of what’s possible.  Now that the garden’s up and running it takes him only a couple of hours 3 times a week to keep going. The chefs come out and help themselves to produce.

The restaurant menu is driven by what’s in season. The garden’s too small to supply all the kitchen’s requirements, but it essentially directs what gets onto the menu.

Next it was into the kitchen where we met Head Chef Simon Sandall.  He gave us a demo of how to peel a langoustine (use scissors) and I got to put the salad together while he made the dressing.

Simon’s pet peeve is people complaining about the scallops.  They’re expensive – $35 for 4 small ones.  But the reason they cost so much is that the restaurant’s ‘scallops bloke’ goes out diving 3 times a week to hand-collect them.  He sees at least 1 Great White every week.

Then it was time for lunch.  We all squeezed into one of the rooms, and despite being last in, we ended up on an excellent table and had a blast.

Kathryn and pudding

I had such a good time I wasn’t really paying attention to the food (or the wine)- which isn’t like me at all.

Starter:  kingfish, avocado, radish, nashi pear

Mains:  wood-roasted Moran family lamb, chick peas, mint; roasted Dory, little neck clams, curly kale, lemon;  green beans, confit eschallots & capers; rocket, parmesan and new season black grapes

Dessert:  Caramelia eclair with strawberry caviar and lemon tarte with coconut ice cream.

An excellent day:  great people, great food, great weather.

More please.

Trifecta’s Weekend Challenge

Trifecta has a weekend challenge where you have to write something on a given topic.  This weekend it is:  write 33 words about three wishes that come at a high price to the wisher.

I haven’t done this before so this is my first entry:

Thinner, happier, healthier.

Years spent wishing, putting life on hold until ‘one day when…’

Wishing steals our allotted span, gives nothing back.

So stop wishing; take action.

Thinner, happier, healthier; make it so.


It’s a bit doom-laden but it’s what my brain came up with on a cloudy Sunday morning.  I’m not a Trekkie, but JL Picard comes in very handy sometimes.

I really liked Linda Vernon’s entry – Herman’s Plan to Get New Girls .

Maybe I just have to get the hang of this thing first.

Grace vs Universe

I fell off my bike on Wednesday.

Sometimes the universe gets a bit fed up with my current lack of effort in terms of becoming more ert – instead of cycling home, I’d been really lazy and put the bike on the ferry so I just had a 5 minute cycle to the front door.

It was one of those moments where you’re tootling along, all’s well with the world la la la, then all of a sudden life leaps up and slaps you round the face with a wet haddock.

I’m last off the ferry and clamber onto my beloved Avanti to cycle down the long jetty to the shore.  Not paying attention, life veered off into one of those bizarre Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon slo-mo action sequences:

Scene 1:  oops handlebars got a bit close to the rail there whew got away with it nearly had an accident oh crap the pedal’s hit the railing this isn’t going to end well

Scene 2:  oh no this can’t be happening I’m actually going to fall off my bike only 5 year olds fall off their bikes this is so undignified I hope I don’t break my nose again am I going to die this is so embarrassing I hope nobody sees this oh bugger

Scene 3: thud scrape bang – leading lady inelegantly hits the ground sideways in a tangled heap of bike and backpack.

I rush to stand up and see if anyone’s noticed.  Nope.  Quickly put Harry Potter magic dignity cloak back on.

The bike is fine and everything seems to be working ok except for pinkie on left hand which feels numb. OMG NERVE DAMAGE.  And it HURTS.  And there’s BLOOD (a tiny little bit). OWWWWW.

It was, like, a LOT worse on Wednesday…

Once I’ve picked myself up and got back on my bike I feel a bit shaky and teary but tell myself that I’ve had a bit of a fright but I’ve been VERY BRAVE.  I wobble off home to a glass of wine and  an exciting story to tell Neil.

Universe 1, Grace 0.

Emirates Redeemed: Sydney – Bangkok

After the hideous experience of trying to redeem Emirates frequent flyer points for a flight to Bangkok, we turn up at Sydney airport to check in.

Standing in the queue, feeling suicidal at the thought of 9 hours in economy, I’m doing my usual silent cursing of Neil for yet again consigning us to the non-pointy end of the plane.

One day I’ll take a deep breath, superglue my mitts to the credit card and book myself into Business Class while leaving him in Crap Class.  I’ll be whisked into a world of champagne, chocolates and a lie-flat bed, while he’s shunted off down the back towards the bendy plastic cutlery, the hyperactive kids trying to kick a hole in back of his seat and the screaming babies from hell.

I’m feeling very sorry for myself, and then the check-in chick says ‘You’ve been upgraded’,  hands us the tickets (‘NLA’ scrawled on them in large letters -No Lounge Access – but I wasn’t complaining) and sends us on our way.

I’m convinced that this happy event has been created solely due to my genius as an influential blogger (Neil’s sniggering).  Two of the blog post views were in Dubai – not the usual cosmopolitan spread of Dundee, Edinburgh, Sydney and Maggieknockerty.

I’d like to think that the Emirates Customer Experience Fairy read my bitter outpourings and tried to make amends.  Neil says I’m deluded; it’s purely down to luck.  Whatever.

On boarding, normally they say hello very nicely, glance at your ticket then wave you vaguely in the general direction of ‘away’ ie off to a seat down the back.

This time however, it’s ‘Oh welcome Ms McDonald’ like he’s been waiting all his life to meet me.  He takes my ticket in both hands and holds it reverentially cupped in his palms.  It’s comical but, wow, do I feel special.

We’re shown to our seats and it’s all wonderful – the ridiculous amount of space, the lack of people, the quiet.  Heaven.

Then nothing happens.   For ages.

Row 10 is getting a lot of attention from one of the flight crew.  I hear him ask them ‘can I get you the wine list?’   I’m thinking ‘Here we go, the wine list is coming, the champagne won’t be far behind’.  Five champagne corks go off in the galley.

Row 10 get their drinks;  the giggling with the flight crew continues and….. nothing happens.  It’s so noticeable that it feels embarrassing.  I think ‘oh well, this is how you’re treated as an upgraded passenger’  but people behind us had paid full fare through to London and start to complain quite loudly about not feeling the love.

Not loudly enough to make any difference though, because it’s that sotto voce semi-whine, beloved of the English, that never achieves anything.  I’m  half English so I practice whining at Neil and he ignores me.

That glowy, I’m special feeling dissipates and I’m starting to loathe Row 10 who are now in full party mode, very probably drinking champagne meant for me.

So we sit and sit. There’s no-one in First and only about 10 of us in Business so who’s drinking all the fizz?

I feel a little bit depressed.  We’d got to the airport really early and hadn’t done our usual thing of getting trolleyed in the bar to dull the pain of Economy.  Instead, we’d kept ourselves pure for the Emirates Business Class Extravaganza, so there’d been 2.5 hours of anticipatory build up before getting anywhere near a plane.

The lower lip is beginning to tremble with disappointment and I start to fret about the 5 bottles of champagne going flat in the galley. Then a flight attendant arrives with a tray of Moet and suddenly it’s all forgotten.  The order for dinner is taken, the wine list is waved around and then it’s time to take off.

After a decent meal, Neil goes out like a light but I get carried away with the entertainment options, watching stuff until I’ve gone past being able to sleep.  This is when I realise I’ve left the vintage valium (c 1999 – only 5 tablets left) in the hold luggage.

But we arrive in Bangkok quite chirpy and head off to attend Linda and Yoon’s wedding in Krabi.  Excellent.

No upgrade on the way home so the first 20 minutes the trip was a bit grim until I decided to cheer up.  We’d had a relaxing break, attended a really wonderful wedding and had a great time in Bangkok.

Now plotting how to get Neil to agree to an upgrade for our trip to the UK at Xmas.

I’ve dug out the credit card; now where did I put the superglue?