18 December 2008

The Silly Season Of The Golden Arches!

"This is, however, short lived as the sugar in the drinks being consumed kicks in and hyper activity and shrieking is restored...I couldn't help thinking that her voice could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Sadly for me there was no gaffer tape handy"

Without a shadow of a doubt it has been a very busy week so far. They call it the silly season for a reason and it is truly living up to its name. It's only now as I am writing this blog that I have had time to finally sit down and do nothing (except blog writing that is!).

Last weekend No Worries and I took our gals to breakfast at the infamous 'Golden Arches' restaurant. Now I have to state at the onset that we probably visit the Golden Arches only 4 or 5 times a year as we truly believe in trying to have a well-balanced diet. Mind you, given the last few days my diet should include copious amounts of alcohol, but sadly it doesn't! Naturally the gals had a great time eating hotcakes, hash browns and the like.

The next day (Monday) the gals had a birthday party to go to. It was for one of their friends who was turning 6. The party was being held at a local Golden Arches restaurant. If you haven't attended a childs party at a fast food venue then you should go and experience it. The children generally get hyper prior to the food and drink arriving.

In fact, the screaming and good natured shouting was very loud to my sensitive ears. I kept thinking that going to a Metallica concert would not be as loud as this. I should know having watched them a few years ago in Sydney.

After a while a party hostess takes the children to a party room where they are served food and drinks. For a few valuable minutes a silence descends upon the room and peace is restored. This is, however, short lived as the sugar in the drinks being consumed kicks in and hyper activity and shrieking is restored. At least the parents know that their children will sleep well that night.

The next day I attended my oldest daughters' Christmas concert in the morning. In fact I was one of only a few fathers who attended. It certainly was a good show and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Later that afternoon I picked up my girls and took them and No Worries to a Christmas party for all children who had attended after school care during the year. It was held at one of those places that has climing apparatus, slides and all other types of things to entertain children.

The late afternoon was stifling (meteorologically speaking) and there were lots of children playing and screaming and having a great time. There were probably more children there than paid up members of the Trainspotting Club of Australia! More thoughts of Metallica were entering my mind while I was at the party.

The next day I woke up and said to myself "self, today should be a quieter day". How wrong was I to be! In the morning I attended my youngest daughters' graduation from pre-school. Her class put on a great show and I was happy and proud to have been present. As I was having my lunch with my daughter one of the mums present came up to me. She advised that there was a party this afternoon for her son. It had been arranged at short notice as this was the only day that a lot of the children could get together.

I asked her where the party would be held and held my breath as she advised that it would be at the local Golden Arches restaurant! My mind was racing. I was now worried that my gals would start looking like a chicken nugget or a burger given our frequent visits to the fabled Arches!

So in the evening we got ready and drove to the restaurant. I was getting feelings of deja vu for the second time this week. It was partly a repeat performance of the earlier birthday party. Lots of screaming, then silence as the food was devoured and then more screaming! There was a girl who was consistently screaming at the top of her voice. I couldn't help thinking that her voice could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Sadly for me there was no gaffer tape handy.....

As for today it has been less busy. Another graduation party for my youngest daughter and a school mass for my oldest. After I picked up my daughters from their schools I decided to treat them to an ice cream as it had been a hot and very humid day. I drove to the nearest place that sold them. I'll let you guess where I ended up. Suffice to say that the arches of the restaurant logo spell out the letter 'M'.

Will tomorrow be a Golden Arches free day? Well, only time will tell.

NB: As I write this No Worries has just returned back from a girls night out only to inform me that she will be going out in a few minutes to the Golden Arches for a dessert and coffee!

12 December 2008

An Indian Type Of Day!

"Some of the dance movements do indeed seem as if the dancers are changing a light bulb or three, or having had too many beers!...To a passing stranger it might have appeared if I had ants in my pants or doing a mystical Indian dance"

Last week No Worries and I took out daughters to an Indian celebration at a business centre in Sydney. We were all looking forward to it as it meant that my wife and gals could have an excuse to dress up Desi style. I too decided to get into the spirit of things by dressing up in Indian clothes.

While my wife would be wearing a Salwar Kameez (aka Punjabi Suit), I decided to wear a Kurta Pyjama. To those who don't know, a Kurta Pyjama is a long shirt which has pants (trousers) underneath. My girls would complete the picture by wearing Lenghas (top and skirt). We were all looking forward to the event. The weather too was doing its best Indian impersonations as the mercury was hovering around the 36C mark.

We arrived at the business centre and made our way to the dancing as it was just about to start. The show was in two parts really. The first part was Bollywood style dancing while the second part was Bhangra - the music of the Punjabis. When the Bhangra music started there was a huge cheer from the crowd. To some it can appear that this style of music is very raucous. I refer to it as the heavy metal of Indian music. Some of the dance movements do indeed seem as if the dancers are changing a light bulb or three, or having had too many beers!

After the show we caught up with some friends and had a look around the centre. Unfortunately we had missed the Indian food. This didn't worry me too much as No Worries is an exemplary cook of all things from the sub-continent!

By now the gals were getting restless as the heat was taking its toll. I suggested taking them to a computer store down the road as I needed to purchase some software.

So we set off in the car to the store. As it was early December I had trouble finding a parking spot but eventually found one on the roof. We got out of the car and made our way to the store. Straight away I got some funny looks from shoppers. No, it was not because Santa or Brad Pitt was standing behind me either. It took a while before I realised that it was because of what I was wearing.

We entered the store and headed for the software section. It was obvious that we were getting more stares. I assumed that my olive style skin was giving a false impression, after all I was born in England. In fact, I have been called South American, Italian, Greek, Spanish and even Lebanese in the past! All of a sudden I felt a bit like an outcast. It's amazing how what you are wearing can influence people's opinions.

The store assistant was of Indian background and was not even concerned about my appearance. I did explain matter of factly that I had come from an Indian Festival. He didn't seem to care too much about that. Just then my phone rang. It was No Worries. I could hear my phone but couldn't work out which pocket it was in. The Kurta Pyjama has a number of pockets and I just couldn't work out where my phone was! To a passing stranger it might have appeared as if I had ants in my pants or I was doing a mystical Indian dance!

My daughters wanted to know if I was okay. I calmly answered that I was fine but couldn't find my phone! At this stage it was my actions that was bringing unwanted stares and not my clothes. Finally, I found the phone, making a mental note where I had kept it, and rang No Worries. She was just checking that we were fine. I told her that we were as we sheepishly made our way out of the car park.

A while later we left the business centre and called in on a friend and her husband on our way home. Coincidentally, our friend is of Indian background. We had a cup of chai and some Indian savouries before heading on our way. We got home a while later and tried to keep cool from the Indian style weather. It certainly had been an Indian type of day!

02 December 2008

A Silly Season Miracle

"Axl Rose and his merry band of musicians finally released "The Chinese Democracy" for all and sunder to hear. All hail Saint Axl for this gift to the masses...Every day I rushed to the letter box to see if it had arrived. Sadly, all I received was bills, bills and adverts for pizzas!"

The silly season is now upon us. Christmas is just a few weeks away and people are frantically shopping for gifts for their loved ones. I wonder how many pairs of socks and toasters will be given this Christmas?? Fortunately, I am well and truly catered for in this regard (note to family and friends!!).

Here in Sydney things are hotting up. Or I should say becoming more humid! The season of body odour (aka Summer) has hit this part of Australia. If you don't believe me then catch a train or bus and you will soon have a whiff of un-deodorised armpits heading for your direction.

Still, as I mentioned earlier, it is the silly season and also the time for miracles of one nature or another. Indeed, one happened only recently. For the first time in 17 years Guns N Roses have released an album of original material - most definitely a miracle of the highest order.

Axl Rose and his merry band of musicians finally released "The Chinese Democracy" for all and sunder to hear. All hail Saint Axl for this gift to the masses. Now before anyone says it's only been 15 years since a studio album, and not 17 years - you are correct. However, the 'Spaghetti Incident' released in 1993 was an album of cover versions. The last 'true' album was the sort of double 'Use Your Illusion 1 & 2' which spawned the classic 'November Rain' in 1991.

I had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy of ' Chinese Democracy' having pre-ordered it a month or so ago. Part of me was still thinking "oh well, that's money down the drain. There is no way the album will ever be released". Every day I rushed to the letter box to see if it had arrived. Sadly, all I received was bills, bills and adverts for pizzas and kebabs!

I checked my emails and found out that the CD was on back order and had been delayed. I translated that to mean that Axl Rose had decided to re-record all the songs again for the 99th time. Then yesterday I went to the letter box to find that the CD had arrived. I was ecstatic - hallelujah! At last some new Gunners music. I soon played the CD and can assure you all that it is very good. Not as angry as the old songs of days past but still pretty awesome.

Listening to the CD got me thinking about what was happening in the world in 1991. After all, seventeen years is a very long time between drinks (unless you are a Buddhist Monk). So I picked up the magnifying glass, did some research and came up with the following facts:
  1. Boris Yeltsin was elected president of Russia.
  2. The first Gulf War ends.
  3. 'Another day in Paradise' by Phil Collins was the record of the year.
  4. Steffi Graf won the ladies title at Wimbledon.
  5. 'Silence of the Lambs' was the big movie of the year.
  6. Australia beat England 12-6 to win the Rugby World Cup.
  7. Azerbaijan gained independence.
  8. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union.
  9. Leeds United won the English football Division 1championship. (nb: 17 years later they are knocked out of the FA Cup by Histon Town - a non-league part time club in round 2).
  10. The great Paul Keating becomes Prime Minister of Australia.

Digital television was still a long way off in 1991, as was DVDs. If you wanted to watch a movie at home then VHS was your format.

Given the above lets hope that it's not another 17 years before the next Guns N Roses album! Otherwise any tour they do to promote it will be at nursing homes rather than stadiums!

26 November 2008

Going For A Thong

"Firstly, I am not a male model (or b grade talent show contestant) and secondly I certainly wouldn't wear a g-string (unless it is for charity)....Within seconds she was standing right opposite me and then in a moment later promptly stood on my injured foot. "aaarghhh" I screamed. "There you go" said the wife "I bet you are not in as much pain now"

Now that the weather is well and truly getting warmer us Sydneysiders are shedding our clothes. Now, I don't mean that everyone is going naked, but we are all obviously wearing apparel to match the weather and the impending approach of good ol' Summer. So shorts, t-shirts and, for the girls, summer dresses are de rigeur. Likewise boots and shoes have been exchanged for sandals.

Mind you, given the past few days, where the mercury has been plummeting, you could be excused for thinking it's still winter here. On Sunday, I received a phone call from my sister in England. She said "guess what, it's snowing!". Within a second or three I responded with "it's snowing here too!" Which it was in the Blue Mountains (about 100kms west of Sydney) and also in other parts of Southern Australia. There was a pause from her while she mulled over this comment before we carried on our conversation.

Anyway, as it is getting warmer I have started to wear thongs. Now for some of you that know me there are probably visions going around in your head of me wearing a sexy g-string. Well, those visions are incorrect for two reasons. Firstly, I am not a male model (or b grade talent show contestant) and secondly I certainly wouldn't wear a g-string (unless it is for charity).

What I am referring to is the footwear type of thong which is also known as flip flops in the UK, or jandals in New Zealand. I wear them because I really do not like wearing socks and keeping my feet covered up. The only thing is that I always seem to damage my feet and toes when I am wearing them.

I admit that at times I may be clumsy but my two poor little toes really take a bashing. For some reason I always seem to hit them against sturdy objects. In the past few days I have banged them against the legs of the bed, dinner table and the driveway outside. Each time it happens I think "oh no I've broken them this time" Fortunately, touch wood, they have remained intact. In fact, given the number of bashings that have taken, I am amazed that they haven't filed for divorce from my feet!

Two incidences really stand out regarding my thong clumsiness. A couple of years ago I hurt the toes of my left foot when, for some inadvertent reason, I decided to hit them against a wall. Truth is I wasn't looking where I was going! Naturally, I was in a lot of pain. I envisaged bruising to appear on my toes and foot. The wife came to my rescue in an instant. She looked concerned as I was doubled over in pain. "No Worries" said my wife. "I can take the pain away".

Within seconds she was standing right opposite me and then in a moment later promptly stood on my injured foot. "aaarghhh" I screamed. "There you go" said the wife "I bet you are not in as much pain now". At that stage I had trouble breathing properly. When I had recovered somewhat I asked her why she had decided to tread on my injured foot. She explained that she had seen this manoeuvre on television and thought that it would help me!

The second incident happened only a few days ago. I was helping my wife carry in some stuff from the car when a book, that I was balancing precariously on top of some bags, fell and the spine of it hit my big toe. "Sheeeeeett" I shouted. It was shear pain that I had just experienced. My wife looked at me and said in a nonchalant tone "I think you should read that book". I looked down at my squashed toe and then at the book. It was called "Think and Grow Rich". Naturally that book is now on my reading list.

So you can see that I have a habit of damaging myself during the warmer months. Roll on winter, I say, only 7 months to go...

21 November 2008

Breakfast with Santa

"Where was Santa? Maybe his reindeer had been wheel clamped due to illegal parking...Mind you, if I was facing 200 hungry children I would raise the white flag in an instant!"

Recently No Worries (aka the wife) and I purchased tickets for our two daughters to have a breakfast with an ageing fat man who has a fetish for reindeers and sports a long white beard. The man in question was, of course, Santa!

We were told to turn up at the local shopping centre at 8.30 and then shortly after Santa would arrive and lead the children to the area where they would have breakfast and be entertained. It sounded like our gals would certainly enjoy this event.

The night before No Worries and I donned the flak jackets, got out the whiteboard and synchronised our watches. We would need to adopt a military style operation to ensure that our daughters got up on time, had a brief snack and then get dressed in their 'Christmas dresses' and reach the shopping centre on time. Also, I needed to ensure that No Worries was ready as she is a notorious late comer.

The morning came and, to my great surprise, everything run very smoothly. The girls woke up and were very quick in getting ready for the breakfast. Even more amazing was that No Worries also got ready on time! This surprised me the most as I could not recall when she had recently made an event on time. I suppose miracles do happen after all!

We reached the registration area at 8.30 for the breakfast and our gals got their wrist band that indicated their food order and that they had arrived. We asked the staff when Santa would arrive and was advised that he would be there at 9.30. This seemed like a bizarre situation as there would be 200 children who, by then, would be restless and hungry as most would have skipped breakfast at home for this event.

Strangely, the registration area was in the food court. Maybe the organisers were telling us all something! For most parents the wait was too long and their hyperactive children needed food. Fortunately for them, McDonalds and KFC were within feet of the registration area. The temptation was too much for most parents.

Meanwhile our gals were made of sterner stuff. They were keen to have their breakfast with Santa!

Looking down from the food court I could see the area where the breakfast would be taking place. All the chairs and tables were laid out and there were tray loads of food already waiting for the hungry children. This struck me as strange as it would be at least another 30 minutes before Santa arrived. Wouldn't the food be too cold by the time the children reached their seat?

I checked my synchronised watch. Already 9.30 had been and gone. Where was Santa? Maybe his reindeer had been wheel clamped due to illegal parking (It is NSW afterall). Or maybe he was doing some.....Christmas shopping!

Fifteen minutes later the fat man arrived followed by a brass band. Then all the children started following Santa (past all the shops) to the eating area. Santa must have been hungry as he was setting a cracking pace. I assumed he wanted to get pack to the North Pole post haste.

Within a couple of minutes our gals couldn't even see Santa - he was that fast! I decided to take a short cut and meet No Worries at the destination. Naturally, I was not the only person to think that as there were a large number of parents and their children already there. After a while No Worries and our youngest daughter turned up. By now it was chaos as the organisers had well and truly lost control.

Mind you, if I was facing 200 hungry children I would raise the white flag in an instant! Fortunately our gals found a seat next to one of their friends. By now it was 10am and still no food had been served. Both No Worries and I were getting hungry - and we had eaten breakfast.

Finally, the children were served food (albeit decidedly cold). The wristbands indicated the child's food order. However, these young hungry children were devouring whatever they could lay their hands on. Fortunately, our girls got their correct order and were impeccably behaved the whole time.

At this stage the entertainment started. There were elves dancing and singing, an ageing ventriloquist (who was quite good with his Jake the Peg impersonation) and Mrs Christmas (who didn't realise her mic was not working correctly - hence she was ignored).

Within the hour it was all over. I enquired whether there would be any photo opportunities with Santa. I was advised that there wouldn't be any chance of photos with the bearded wonder. It dawned on me then that maybe Santa wanted to put some horse racing bets on. After all, I assume he needed to pay the elves in the workshop back at the North Pole!

At the end our daughters received a present and really enjoyed the morning. They had a smile the width of their faces! After all the waiting and chaos the end result was very satisfying especially for the children.

14 November 2008

Word Search Fun and Games

"why would you want to know what a suitcase weighs in Milton Keynes? The answer is probably the same as in Leamington Spa or Wagga Wagga!...I can assure you that our thoughts are wide and varied. In brief it would revolve around beer, birds and footy!"

The other day while having a cup of chai (Indian spiced tea to the uninitiated) I decided to look at some of the statistics surrounding my blog. I do this periodically as it's always good to see where people are viewing my blog from, and also how they came upon my epic tomes of everyday life.

One statistic that really caught my eye, well both of them really, was the 'keyword analysis' stats. This is the wording used by an Internet user to stumble across my blog. Some of the word searches were quite interesting in their own right. So here are a selection of searches undertaken by readers of my blog:

Weighing my suitcase in Milton Keynes - When I saw this I didn't know what to make of it! I know that Milton Keynes is a man made city which is sterile and lacking in identity (in my humble opinion), but why would you want to know what a suitcase weighs in Milton Keynes? The answer is probably the same as in Leamington Spa or Wagga Wagga!

Gordon Ramsey view on alcohol - Well I am not sure he has one on things of an alcoholic nature. What I do know is that he has a view on swearing, french chefs and vegetarian food! Now where did I put my effing tofu burger and glass of chardonnay?

Chocolate crackles expiry date - This search must have originated from a bored accountant or auditor during a tea break. Why else would you want to know an expiry date for choccy crackles?? In my experience the gals and No Worries devour them within 30 minutes of being made. Naturally I only have the odd one or twenty! If you want a recipe for them then please email me...

Thoughts of Englishmen - A very interesting search indeed. How long is a piece of string? As an Englishman living in the colonies I can assure you that our thoughts are wide and varied. In brief it would revolve around beer, birds and footy! Aren't us English the stereo typical culture vultures after all!

APEC drizabone lapel - This search left me dumbfounded. Just to backtrack a little, last year Sydney hosted the APEC forum where world leaders like Dubya and Putin came out to Australia to discuss financial and economic matters. As a present the then PM of Australia 'little' Johnny Howard presented all leaders with a drizabone (rain coat) - which are popular in the outback or with flashers in the inner city suburbs. Now why someone would want to know about the lapel of a raincoat is beyond me. Surely someone with too much time on their hands (or raincoat).

Why are tolberones triangle - An interesting question indeed. Short answer is - I don't know! Sounds like a university student this time, who has been studying late at night and on the spur of a moment eats a tolberone and then decides to Google it. How searching for tolberones gave someone my blog as a search result is amazing anyway. Still another 'hit' to the blog is always welcome!

Wife stockings bed assistant - Absolutely no idea how this search gave my blog as a result. I suggest to you, the reader, that this person was very lonely on a Friday night while thinking of his wife. Either that or he just wanted to find the nearest adult shop for his wife!

Well there you go. Just a snippet of a few of the word searches used to find my blog. I think from now on I will review my blog stats more regularly as some of the searches I've come across are quite funny in their own right.

05 November 2008

And The Race Is On!

"I don't have any set format. I normally go by the name and / or a gut feeling that I have at the time. Sometimes the gut feeling can be due to a dodgy curry!...As most males will tell you that is simply not the case. It's a bit like a guy telling his wife that all women's shoes are the same"

The first Tuesday in November is a very special day in Australia. No, it's not a birthday of a famous celebrity or anything similar, but is the day that Australia downs tools to watch a horse race. Yes that's correct, folks - the global financial crisis is put on the back burner while Australian's bet vast sums of money on the outcome of a horse race!

To be truthful, I contributed to the vast sums waged by outlaying $32. Yes, I am the last of the big spenders. As for the race itself some punters study the form guide intensely. Others will look at the horse and it's colours and then decide to bet on that one. As for me, well, I don't have any set format. I normally go by the name and / or a gut feeling that I have at the time. Sometimes the gut feeling can be due to a dodgy curry!

So I studied the form guide on the night before and selected 4 horses. Part of my reasoning is that if there are 24 horses in the race and I back 4 of them then I have a 1 in 6 chance of winning or, for the accountants out there, 16.67%.

As I was making my way to (the ever shrinking) Mothership on the morning of the race I put my bets on. As I handed over my betting slips the cashier gave me some bad news.

"Number 16 has been scratched, what number do you want now?" said the unenthusiastic and extremely bored cashier.

I was now nonplussed. I had no other horse that I liked the look of. Quickly my mind came up with a replacement number.

"Erm, I'll take number 12 then please" I mumbled in reply.

The cashier screwed up her nose and said "okay then" in a tone that indicated that I had chosen a horse with three legs! This did not fill me with a lot of confidence. Anyway, I had three other horses to fall back on.

The morning in the Mothership seemed to fly by and it was soon time to make our way to watch the race. The company had put on some food and drinks and the race was being broadcast on two huge screens. I had also entered a sweep and had picked the favourite. Maybe I would be in the money after all?

The race started and it soon became apparent that the favourite was not going to win. Oh well, I thought, at least the food is nice. At this stage a co-worker (aka Jia) asked me if I wanted another drink. Naturally my reply was in the affirmative. I asked for another Corona beer.

Within seconds Jia was back with my drink. "What's this?" I asked astounded. Jia was taken aback and replied "it's a beer".

This was correct but it was a LIGHT beer. I pointed this out to Jia who informed me that all the beers looked the same.

As most males will tell you that is simply not the case. It's a bit like a guy telling his wife that all women's shoes are the same. Obviously, if this was said he could expect a tirade of abuse and a lecture on why women's shoes are all different.

I decided to drink the light beer as the race was still on. Anyway it is alcohol after all, I suppose.

The race finished and I realised that I hadn't won. For the record the winning horse was called 'Viewed' and it won by a short nose. Actually I wonder if horses have different sized noses like us humans?

I made my way back to my desk and pulled out my betting slips. It was then I noticed that horse 12 (Bauer) was the one that just failed to win the race (obviously it's nose was too small). I had the second placed horse! I won the princely sum of $13.80!

After work I made my way back to the outlet where I had placed my bets. I was looking forward to telling the cashier that number 12 came second! However, when I got there the outlet had shut for the day.

My bragging would have to wait for another time.

02 November 2008

A News Story

"Or would it be about something obscure like paper clip collecting or toilet roll designing? I thought I had better find this out post haste....In fact, it was a family friend who had seen the interview and couldn't stop laughing!"

There I was at work when the phone rang. Nothing unusual there. It was Friday after all and a few of my friends normally ring up to see what I am up to at the weekend (in my case normally nothing too exciting). This time, however, it was from someone I didn't know. The caller had gotten my phone number from a mutual friend and had rang me. The phone conversation went like this:

"Hi, I hope you don't mind me ringing you, but I was wondering if you would like to be interviewed for a television programme?" asked the female caller.

"Erm no, that will be fine" said I.

Then I started thinking about what the subject matter would be. Would it be about the latest Coldplay album? Or would it be about something obscure like paper clip collecting or toilet roll designing? I thought I had better find this out post haste.

"What will the subject matter be?" I quickly enquired.

"Oh nothing too complicated. It will be just about the financial crisis and it's potential impact on people like yourself. You will get a call next week about it" replied the caller.

"Oh, ok" I muttered.

Then before I knew it. The caller had gone back to the world of all things media related.

True enough, I received a call nearly a week later from a journalist at the ABC (Australia's national broadcaster). They were heading to the Mothership for an interview. After a few minutes of conversation it was decided to film the segment in a local coffee shop instead.

I met them downstairs and the camera man and sound technician set up their equipment. The journalist then started asking me a few questions about the financial crisis and its potential impact on myself and others. Within a minute it was all over. Then the camera man thought it would be a good idea if I simulated buying a coffee. We approached the barista who was very excited about this. So excited that he kept repeating "cool, I am going to be on television!".

For the next 15 minutes or so, the camera man took shots of myself and the barista sharing small talk while miraculously handing me a coffee that he had already prepared. Once this had been completed the camera man thought about getting me to take the coffee to a table and then to start reading a financial newspaper.

Now this sounds easy but in reality it wasn't. To simulate walking to a table holding a coffee and sitting down to read a financial paper takes a bit of thinking. Fortunately for me we only had to do two takes.

The ABC film crew then thanked me and told me to watch that evening's news.

After work I rushed home in anticipation of my stellar performance. Questions were running through my head. Would they keep all of the interview? Would they only use part of it? Or would they do a 'cut and paste' job to twist my words? As the time for the news to start approached, I was getting nervous.

The news programme started and a snippet of my interview was played at the beginning as a taster of things to come. In fact, I was on right after the Prime Minister!

About 10 minutes into the news my interview was played for all to see. They had used only 2 of my responses but had used all of the part of me buying a coffee and reading the paper. By now the barista would have been over the moon having been on television.

After the segment had finished my phone started to ring. Would it be the ABC wanting me to host a current affairs show? Would it be the international press wanting a further story? Or would it be the event organiser of the paper clip collectors society? In fact, it was a family friend who had seen the interview and couldn't stop laughing!

Later on that night I went to the local supermarket to buy some milk. I wondered if anyone would notice me, or even want to say g'day. Alas, no one gave me a second look. I drove home pondering the fact that my 15 seconds of fame had passed quicker than a bullet train. Oh well, I thought, at least it was fun while it lasted!

22 October 2008

A Yarn about Music and Cream

"other owners of my MP3 brand had experienced similar issues except in relation to purchasing cream or listening to Celine Dion...Maybe a postmaster eating monster was hiding in the backroom and had eked out its revenge"

A couple of weeks ago I was on the train heading home after a busy day at work when my mobile phone rang. It was the wife aka "No Worries". I stopped listening to my MP3 player and answered it.

"Hi" said No Worries. "When you get off the train can you pick up some milk and cream, please?" I confirmed in the affirmative. After all, it would only take a few minutes to get these items. I then returned to my music which I was thoroughly enjoying as per usual. As most of my family and friends know I am a huge music fan and really love to listen to a wide variety of music (except Celine Dion hehehe).

After getting off the train, I headed to the local supermarket and purchased the milk and cream. Then I started to walk home. As I was walking past the local RSL club I inadvertently dropped my MP3 player. It hit the concrete path with a thud. I was aghast. My pride and joy had taken a fall. All of a sudden my heart started beating faster. Why did I drop it? Will it still work? What did No Worries want the cream for? These were the questions going through my mind.

Fortunately, it looked fine. I breathed a sigh of relief, my main source of music was okay. A national crisis, bigger than the global sub-prime crisis, had been averted - or so I thought.

A couple of days later I turned on my MP3 player only to find out that it had gone into a restore mode. Despite trying everything it would not get past this point and hence allow me to hear my music. I then decided to consult Mr Google. As it transpired other owners of my MP3 brand had experienced similar issues except in relation to purchasing cream or listening to Celine Dion.

It was then that something dawned on me. Maybe my MP3 had been terminally damaged. I picked it up and gave it a gentle shake. Something rattled inside and it wasn't a snake either! It was obvious that my player had gone to MP3 heaven. I would need to do something about it. Firstly, I would have to find out what happened to the cream. Then secondly, I would need to purchase a new MP3 player.

I decided to purchase one via Ebay. Although I am not a regular Ebayer I have bought and sold a few items via this medium. I researched all the MP3/MP4 players that were of interest and bid on the one that I wanted. It was 'dirt cheap' even though it would be shipped to Australia from another country.

I put in a bid and was successful. I was ecstatic. Soon I would be listening to my music again. I paid the money and waited for the MP4 player to arrive. After waiting a week it arrived in my letter box. I opened the package. Inside was one of the smallest MP4 players I had ever seen. It looked okay. However, it soon became evident that it was 'dirt cheap' as it was, to paraphrase myself, a piece of crap.

I was now quite sad. Not only did I not have an effective replacement I also was none the wiser about the cream! I had to resolve these two issues, and quickly (in case the cream went off).

Fortunately, I got an email about a highly reduced well known MP4. Straight away I headed to the web site and ordered one. As a bonus, I would also receive a silicon case for the player. I then waited, and waited and waited.

In all honesty, I only had to wait a few days. However, when it arrived we were out. So I had to wait until the weekend to pick it up from the Post Office. Even though this was only 72 hours I was getting impatient. I was really missing not listening to music on the sardine express (aka the train). At last Saturday came and I rushed to the Post Office to collect my new MP4 player. I handed over the delivery notice and the Post Master (or whatever he is called) went to the back room to find my package.

He was gone ages. I was wondering what was going on as I could here a lot of noises emanating from this room. My mind started wandering. Maybe a postmaster eating monster was hiding in the backroom and had eked out its revenge. After an eon, or so it seemed, he returned to the counter. "Sorry" said the Postmaster. "I cannot find it". Instantly I thought he was joking, but he wasn't. Would I ever get my package?

I asked him to check again, this time the postmaster eating monster was terminated and my package was found! At the same time bells started chiming in the local churches and the sun was shining again! The world was a happy place.

I took the package home and found an even smaller player that one I had bought via Ebay. It looked like a toy. Fortunately, it was wasn't. I read the instructions and started downloading music onto my new MP4 player.

Now I am happily listening to my music again while doing my best sardine impressions! As for the cream - well I never found out what it was used for. Who knows, maybe the postmaster eating monster took a liking to it!

14 October 2008

A Weekend in the Country

"Anyway, after 'swabbing' all over my clothes and mobile phone I was declared clear. Obviously I wasn't a danger to society and cardamons don't create explosives!"

Last weekend No Worries and I took our two daughters up to the North Coast of NSW to see their Grandmother and two Uncles. Naturally the gals were excited to go, not just to see their relatives but also because they would be flying there. In fact, they couldn't wait to catch the plane!

As most parents would know if you plan a holiday away (albeit ranging from a weekend to a few weeks) it becomes a logistic exercise. Not only do you have to pack things for yourself but you have to get things ready for your children. Anyway, the few days prior to leaving I kept cajoling No Worries to start packing.

Naturally, No Worries wasn't too concerned about doing this. She replied in her usual way. "No worries, it'll only take 15 minutes to pack. We can do it on Friday night". I wasn't too sure about this as, based on previous experience, it normally takes much longer.

Friday night came and I reminded my wife that we should start packing as we had an earlyish flight in the morning to catch. No Worries was very relaxed. "It'll only take 15 minutes to pack and then we'll be ready". Again I doubted this. So after a few prompts we started packing for the flight.

One thing I have learned about people of Indian background is that they will say one thing such as "our house is a couple of doors down from the cafe" when in reality its at least a 2km drive and 50 houses away! No Worries says things like this all the time. What I do is multiply her comment by 4 and then I get close to the correct answer.

The packing took longer than 15 minutes. For some reason 3 hours later we were still packing! Not sure why, but we were. I also took a few moments out to pre-order a cab for the ride to the airport. That was quite interesting. I rang the taxi company and got one of those voice activated menus. Despite saying where the pickup suburb was, the computerised voice would give me a different suburb. Obviously my accent was confusing it.

After about 5 goes and being informed of suburbs all around Sydney I finally got to speak to a live person. This person also had problems locating my suburb even though it was no more than 5kms away from the taxi company!! To say I was getting frustrated was an understatement. Eventually the cab was booked and we could grab a few hours sleep before getting up early in the morning.

The alarm went off and we were into a military style operation to ensure our daughters were ready for the cab ride to the airport. Our phone rang a little later and the cab driver was outside. I told No Worries to hurry up as we had to go now. My wife, at this stage, was in the kitchen making some Indian chai. She gave me one in a disposable coffee cup as well as having one herself. Finally, we were in the cab and were on our way.

Before we had gone 100 metres I told the cab driver to stop. My chai had been filled to the top and was spilling copious amounts of the flavoursome tea all over myself and the taxi driver's car. There was only one thing to do. I got out of the car and poured all of the chai away. No Worries was aghast at my action. However, it was the logical thing to do as I had visions of having my jeans smelling of cardamon seeds all the way to our destination!

We got to the airport and checked in. This was straight forward enough. However, when I got to the security checkpoint I was pulled over. Surely having spilt chai on my clothes wasn't illegal or was it? I was informed politely that I would be checked for explosives and had been chosen at random. This would be fun, I thought. Anyway, after 'swabbing' all over my clothes and mobile phone I was declared clear. Obviously I wasn't a danger to society and cardamons don't create explosives!

Following this,we made our way to the departure gate and was advised that there was a delay. I enquired as to the reason (thinking that the plane was held up at another airport) and was advised that the plane was ready to go but was missing a co-pilot! Naturally this was an issue. So we waited for about an hour before the replacement co-pilot turned up. When he arrived he humorously pointed out that he wasn't the cause of the delay!

Soon we were on the plane (a Saab 340 for the anorak brigade amongst you) and high in the sky. The girls were enjoying the flight and taking lots of photos of the clouds outside the plane. We were getting close to our destination and the plane started descending. All I could see out of the window was lots of cows, sheep and even some horses. No high rise buildings or even a lone house could be seen.

Finally the plane came into land. I looked out of my window and saw cows happily grazing next to the runway! Welcome to rural NSW, I thought. How many airports have cattle next to its runway? Actually the airport is really a large shed but to be fair it has a charm about it that bigger airports don't have.

We got off the plane and made our way to the terminal where we picked up our bags. We were greeted by my My mother in law and started our weekend away in the country. We soon found out that life in the rural areas travels at a much slower pace than in the cities, which made a welcome change.

We had a great weekend with No Worries side of the family and before we knew it we were back at the airport ready to fly back to Sydney. The cows were still there munching away, and this time the co-pilot was already in the plane!

10 October 2008

Follow You Follow Me

Every now and then, when I have that precious commodity called time, I review my blog to see what improvements can be made. I feel it is important to do this to try and keep the blog site fresh and exciting (or words to that effect). Over the past few months I have added a song of the week, and also a picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (taken by yours truly) to my site.

One new feature that I have just added is the 'Follow' feature which is located at the top right hand side of the blog. This is a new feature that will help you to keep up to date with all the new blogs that will be spewing forth from my laptop very soon!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading my blogs as much as I like sharing them with you. Remember to leave a comment about any blog of mine that you have read. I always love reading what is posted.

07 October 2008

A Visit to Canberra

" In fact, I keep expecting to see concrete cows everywhere!...“Daddy, which shop does Kevin Rudd work in?” My initial response was to say “a closed shop” but I bit my tongue"

It all happened just over a week ago. No Worries and I were relaxing at home when all of a sudden I had an idea. Now this is not a common event. Far from it, really. So when this happened I got very excited. The idea revolved around the forthcoming NSW State holiday (Labour Day).

As the long weekend was approaching faster than a City Rail train I though it would be good to take our daughters to Canberra for the Floriade (flower festival) and also to see Parliament House. They are now of an age where they would probably appreciate the excursion to Australia’s capital.

No Worries concurred with me. As the drive from Sydney to Canberra is just under three hours all we needed to do was find some accommodation and we were set. Courtesy of Mr Google, this didn’t take too long to arrange. The next day we informed the gals that we were taking them to Canberra. Their response was a “stunned silence”. Maybe they knew what Canberra was like. Then again, they had probably never really heard Canberra mentioned too many times before.

As for myself, I have been to Canberra on many occasions and can’t say that I am a fan of the city. True there are things to see – Parliament House, War Memorial, National Gallery, National Museum and so on. However, as Canberra was deliberately planned I find it sterile and as such a bit like Milton Keynes in the UK. In fact, I keep expecting to see concrete cows everywhere! (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_Cows). Also, it’s great fun going around the two road ‘circuits’ to get to the opposite side and on to Parliament House.

The day arrived and we drove down to Canberra which took just on 3 hours. The girls were getting more excited as they didn’t know what to expect. We arrived in downtown Canberra (if there is such a thing) and checked into our hotel. Normally, this would only take a few minutes but given the lack of staff it took nearly 45! Naturally things aren’t too rushed in the capital city!

We rested for a while and headed to Floriade in the late afternoon where there was a large contingent of people admiring the flower displays. As we entered we were told that the park would close soon. We didn’t mind as our two daughters were frantically taking pictures of every flower imaginable.

The next day we checked out (encountering snail pace service at the hotel reception yet again) and drove to the main Floriade display. The weather was cool and sunny. After we entered the park dark clouds came over and for the next 40 minutes we took shelter as we had rain, wind, hail, thunder and then sunshine. Certainly fun for the ducks, but not necessarily for us humans.

The storm passed and again our daughters took lots of photos of the flower variety. No Worries too was enjoying the day. Finally, after a couple of hours we left the park and headed over to Parliament House.

Now our daughters know that the Prime Minister of Australia is Kevin Rudd and we have told them that he works in Parliament House and helps make decisions for the whole country. Naturally, we have kept it basic as at their age they probably don’t want to know about fiscal policy, inflation rates and taxation! However, anything Dora the Explorer or Mr Men related and you can talk to them to the most finite detail.

As we entered Parliament House our eldest daughter saw the gift shop there and asked “Daddy, which shop does Kevin Rudd work in?” My initial response was to say “a closed shop” but I bit my tongue and told her that he didn’t work in a shop!

We then walked around Parliament House and went to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. The girls seemed to enjoy looking at all things parliament related. My youngest was still getting confused about where Canberra was (totally understandable in my opinion). She kept asking if Canberra was in Australia. I was tempted to say ‘no its in a world of its own’ but reneged.

After this we headed to the Canberra Centre (shopping centre) and had a late lunch and browsed at a few shops before heading to one of the suburbs in outer Canberra to pay a quick visit to some friends of ours and their children.

Finally, we left there in the early evening and made the trek back home stopping off at McDonalds for a late dinner. We arrived home at 10 O’clock and got the girls to bed. It was only then that I realised that the only thing I had purchased whilst in Canberra for No Worries and I was in fact, an ironing board cover!

What more can I say!

30 September 2008

A Night Of Trivia

"The question that we all hate having to answer was about to be asked. "do you think these earrings go with my outfit?".....The quiz master then said "yes, but what number is he?" I was stumped. I meekly answered "two, three, four..."

In the past couple of weeks both No Worries and I have attended two trivia nights for our daughters schools. The idea behind them was to raise much needed money for these learning establishments.

Trivia nights are great and as I am a trivia fan I couldn't wait for the night to come around. I was like a child waiting for Christmas Day to arrive. To me trivia is a lot of fun. Whilst, I don't go pouring over facts and figures I do tend to remember a lot of useless facts. I don't know why, but I do.

Anyway, the first trivia night was for our eldest daughter and was a great success. Our team (of mums and dads) came second and we were just pipped at the post. Having said that, it was all a lot of fun and for a good cause. I even won two silent auctions - though why I bid on a Tupperware container and cup is beyond me now I think of it!

The second trivia night was the following weekend. We had to be at the venue at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. What we needed to do was to drop off our daughters with a family friend and then head to the venue. My job was to cook dinner and generally get the girls ready. My wife would be coming back from a jewellery party and would get some of the silent auction prizes ready. All pretty simple really.

The day was going according to plan - I got the girls ready, cooked them dinner and started getting ready myself. The clock on the wall showed it was 6.15pm. Plenty of time to make the trivia night and, hopefully, have a pre-quiz beer or two. The only thing I hadn't factored in was the No Worries factor. No Worries was in the bedroom getting herself ready for the big night. I went upstairs and gave her a quick "hi, we need to go soon if we want to make the start of the quiz". No Worries responded "okay". I wasn't so sure.

Next the thing that all guys dread happened. The question that we all hate having to answer was about to be asked. "do you think these earrings go with my outfit?" Now in circumstances like this the guy is in a no win situation. No Worries was wearing a black outfit so I assumed that anything would go with it. "erm, yeah...they go well" was my tentative reply. No Worries picked up on my apprehension. She responded with "aha, you don't like them!".

No worries then preceded to try on another 3 pairs of earrings before she was satisfied. Then she started to put together some jewellery for the silent auctions. By now the clock was saying 7pm! I reminded my wife that we needed to go asap otherwise we would miss the start of the quiz! I was starting to get frantic. I did not want to miss any questions.

Finally at 7.10pm we left the house. I had to drop off No Worries at the venue first before driving the girls to our family friend. After dropping my wife off I decided to take a number of back routes to get to our friends house. I got to the house with 10 minutes to go to the start of the trivia. I quickly farewelled the girls, gave our 'babysitters' some home made chocolate crackles (made by myself) and sprinted back to the car. Then it was Lewis Hamilton impression time to get to the trivia on time.

I parked the car and ran into the venue and made my way upstairs to the trivia room. The first question had been asked - it was a musical question (one of my fave subjects). I made my way to my table and could see that they didn't know the answer. This was my moment! I sat down and told the team the answer ('King of Wishful Thinking' by Go West). I knew then that I was going to have a good night!

Despite my best efforts (and the teams) we came second again! I was chosen during the quiz to represent the table and answer a 'who am I' question. I was the first to answer it. The answer was Pope Benedict (the current head honcho of the Catholic Church). The quiz master then said "yes, but what number is he?" I was stumped. I meekly answered "two, three, four..." The quiz master said "sorry, I cannot give you the points!" I was shattered. However, I guessed the second 'who am I' question correctly!

Overall, the night was great. A few beers and finger food certainly helped it to be a success! No Worries, resplendent in her 4th different pair of earrings, even won a door prize! She was very happy about this. I was too - as there was not any Tupperware on offer in the silent auctions!

19 September 2008

I Have A Dream - Ebbsfleet Style

"For whatever reason my sleep state then made out that I was a David Beckham like superstar. The only thing missing was his skill, the tattoos and his bank balance!...Sure enough, there they were next to my boots on the passenger seat seemingly grinning at me like a Cheshire Cat

I recently had a dream. Now that is not unusual, you might say, but for me I seem to have them very infrequently. Maybe I actually dream more than I realise but when the alarm goes off most mornings my main thoughts are on waking up and getting ready for the day.

As some of you would know I am one of 31,000 co-owners of Ebbsfleet United Football Club in England (if you trawl through my blog site you will find some blogs about 'the Fleet' and the MYFC setup). Anyway, for whatever reason my dream revolved around this fine football club.

In this dream I was a member of the coaching staff and also a registered player. From what I could recall I was working as the second in command to Liam Daish the head coach. Our next game was going to be a cup game against my home town. Naturally, I suggested to Liam that I actually play in this game for nostalgia reasons. Liam responded quite tersely "if we are 4-0 up then I will give you your 15 minutes of fame"

I was over the moon. The fact that Ebbsfleet were streets ahead of my home town team meant that there was every chance of me playing. For whatever reason my sleep state then made out that I was a David Beckham like superstar. The only thing missing was his skill, the tattoos and his bank balance! Also, my sister could bend the ball like Beckham much better than myself (and she is not really into football (aka soccer for the Aussies and Americans).

Before I knew it the dream had fast forwarded and it was the day of the game. I was excited and nervous. I checked my kit bag and re-checked it probably a hundred times or more. I drove to the ground in time to give a pep talk to the players and to get ready for my cameo appearance.

The game started and it was all going to plan. Ebbsfleet were totally on top and went in at half time 2-0 to the good. Liam and I were happy. We told the players to carry on playing like they were and more goals would come. For whatever reason it appeared the players listened to us as halfway through the second half we were 4-0 up!

Liam turned to myself and uttered those immortal words "why have you got chewing gum stuck in your hair?" I was mortified. How long had it been there? I frantically started to claw at my hair only to see Liam laughing his head off. "tricked you! go on, get changed. Remember, if you play well England might call you up for their next game - not!"

I rushed off to the changing room to get ready. I opened my kit bag and looked for my boots. Where were they? For whatever reason they had disappeared. By now my heart was pounding. Where had I put them? Then I had an idea. I'll put a message out over the ground speaker system and see if anyone has a pair I can borrow. So I sprinted off to the media room to deliver my urgent request.

Sure enough, one of the fans had a spare pair of boots (it's amazing how things like this happen in dreams). I quickly put them on and ran to the side of the pitch. Ten minutes to go until the final whistle. As I was about to go onto the field the assistant referee grabbed me. "sorry, unless you have shin pads on you are not going to play".

I ran back to the dressing room. Where were my shin pads? I searched everywhere and remembered that they were in my car. So I ran to the back of the ground where my car was parked. Sure enough, there they were next to my boots on the passenger seat seemingly grinning at me like a Cheshire Cat! I grabbed the pads and went back to the sidelines. Liam saw me and said "where have you been? the games almost over now. You had better get on asap".

The assistant referee motioned to the referee and I was beckoned on to the field of play. Before I had reached the halfway line the referee blew the full time whistle. I had been on the pitch for about 15 seconds!! I walked slowly off the pitch feeling dejected. A few of the fans sarcastically called out "great game" to myself.

I congratulated the team on a great performance and quickly made my exit. All I wanted to do was go home and drown my sorrows. As I was leaving I remembered that I hadn't picked up a programme of the game. I made my way to the programme shop and managed to get the last copy. I searched for my name in the team line up - at least I would have this as a memento of the day. Alas, the programme stated 'substitutes to be announced'. Now there would be no record my participation!!

I drove home and started laughing at the days events. Maybe I didn't get to take part in the game, but at least my team won and were through to the next round!

13 September 2008

A Quiet Afternoon Tea Party

"Two loaves? What are we doing? feeding the population of Australia or 30 kindergarten children??...It looked like a case of organised chaos (which it was)"

A couple of weeks ago No Worries and I decided to have a party for our eldest daughter who was turning 6. We decided to have the party (aka afternoon tea) after school. The idea was to invite her friends over for an afternoon tea.

To ensure a successful afternoon was had by all No Worries and I, in true military fashion, got out the white board, donned our flak jackets and worked out a plan of attack for the party. Initially discussions were around what food should be on offer for our hungry guests. We decided on cooking most of the food ourselves. I got the gourmet pizza cooking rights as well as the honour of making chocolate crackles (being a chocoholic I readily volunteered for this). No worries would take care of the fairy bread, pancakes, salad and all the other yummies.

As the party was on a Monday we decided to do a lot of the preparation on the weekend. I had lotsa fun making the chocolate crackles and have to admit I probably overdid the tasting sessions! The pizzas were made on the Sunday and cooked gourmet style on the barbecue (note - my pizzas are reaching legendary status and I can hire out my services for a small fee of course! - or a beer or two).

Before you could spell Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrob wllllantysiliogogogoch it was Monday. The birthday girl was dropped off at school and was really excited about the afternoon festivities. Meanwhile, No Worries and I headed to a cafe for a coffee and a recap of our plan of attack.

I was a bit concerned that we would not have enough time to get everything done. After all, I still had to blow up the jumping castle. A feat that would normally take an hour or so. Naturally my wife muttered those famous words of hers. "No worries" said she. "It will all work out in the end!" Deep down I was not that confident.

We headed to the local shopping centre and got some party plates, cups and cutlery. At another store that we visited I noticed some jalapeno flavoured crisps. These were swiftly purchased by yours truly (and lovingly devoured during the day). The it was back home to get things ready for the party. The time was now 10.20am and were were on time as per our well thought out plan.

I was feeling good by now. All I had to do was pump up the jumping castle and I would be able to take it easy up to the start of the festivities. I got the jumping castle out of the garage and put it in the backyard. I then went back to the garage to find the air pump. It was not there. I searched frantically but couldn't find it. I called out to the wife. No Worries came into the garage and helped look for it. After 15 minutes it still hadn't been located.

No Worries then came up with an ingenious idea. "No worries. Can't you blow it up manually yourself?" I promptly pointed out that, given the size of the castle, it would probably put me in the intensive ward of the local hospital if I blew it up all by myself. The watch now said 11.05am. Time was getting away from me. I would have to buy a new pump.

I got into the car and started driving to the local shops. Fortunately, the traffic was very light so there were no need for any Lewis Hamilton impersonations. I parked the car and sprinted (gazelle style) to the appropriate shop. When I got there I couldn't find any air pumps. Obviously they had moved them. I also couldn't find a shop assistant to ask either. So after frantically wandering around the store for what seemed ages I found them.

I purchased the pump and started making my way to the car. Then my mobile phone rang. It was No Worries. She wanted me to buy two more loaves of bread so that she could make lots more fairy bread. Two loaves? What are we doing? feeding the population of Australia or 30 kindergarten children?? Anyway, in case we were feeding the whole country I bought the two loaves.

Once back home I started pumping up the jumping castle. It was inflating like a treat. Meanwhile, No Worries was having a few issues with the jelly. It wasn't setting properly. In fact it wasn't setting at all due to my wife adding too much water to the crystals.

The castle was now fully inflated and looked good. It was then that I noticed it was starting to deflate slowly. "Oh no" I cried out. How was I going to find the leak,and more importantly fix it in time before the party? No Worries soothed my nerves with her commentary. "No worries, it'll be okay" . I decided that as it was a slow leak I would re-pump it up just prior to the guests arriving.

Before we knew it the time had come. I drove to my youngest daughter's school and picked her up and then collected the birthday girl. I drove home and then took my youngest daughter to the cake shop to pick up the birthday cake. I was gone literally 20 minutes and arrived home looking forward to a great afternoon. When I walked into our house my eyes literally popped out of my head.

It seemed as if the whole population of Sydney had turned up! It looked like a case of organised chaos (which it was). The jumping castle was a mass of writhing school children and I was worried about how long it would remain inflated. I didn't need to worry too much as the castle was deflating very quickly!

I then decided to not worry about anything and enjoy the moment, and the chocolate crackles! The afternoon passed into early evening and the majority of children were still on a sugar high. Then, within a blink of an eye, everyone left and quietness befell our house. It seemed that everyone had had a great time, especially the birthday girl.

After our daughters were in bed, No Worries and I continued cleaning up. By the time we finished it was 11pm. We were both tired. It was then that I had an idea. "Next year, let's have the birthday party at McDonald's!" I said to my wife. Her response was a very tired "no worries".

05 September 2008

Tales of 'No Worries'

"It was only about 30 seconds later when she realised she was in the wrong car!... Immediately the clerk informed her that she was four years too early!"

Regular readers will know that on occasions my blog mentions my wife who has been nicknamed "No Worries". This moniker was chosen by my wife and it perfectly sums her up. This week, while I was recovering from our eldest daughters' birthday party, No Worries suggested that I write a blog about her. My initial thought was "nah" and then I thought "maybe it is a good idea" as I drank another beer. So here are some stories about the one and, thankfully, only No Worries.

In brief, No Worries is a what can loosely be labelled 'scatterbrained'. She always seems to have her mind on about 10 different things at any one time. She says its called 'multi-skilling' but I am not sure if that is the correct wording! As such she is always misplacing things. Almost everyday No Worries will say things like "do you know where I have put my mobile phone?"

You can substitute 'mobile phone' for 'wallet', 'sunglasses' or any other object really. On occasions she misplaces her sunglasses only to find they are already on her head! Her wallet is now well travelled and is sometimes 'left' at homes of our friends or even, on two occasions, a business centre. No Worries response to this is normally "no worries, I will collect it in 2 weeks time".

Some classic, and hilarious moments it must be said, include No Worries (who is of Indian background) losing a boarding pass for a flight from London to Paris. This happened just after 9-11 and my wife had to remain on the tarmac outside the plane until security clearance could be given for her to board the plane. Hence the flight was temporarily delayed. As she entered the plane there were a few stern looks in her direction from the other passengers.

Then there was the occasion when No Worries had been out with some of her cousins on a Saturday night. As they entered the car park to go home No Worries made her way to what she thought was the correct car, and sat in the back of it and put her seat belt on. It was only about 30 seconds later when she realised she was in the wrong car! The occupants were initially worried that someone was going to take them hostage. I am sure No Worries left the car saying something like "oops, sorry. No worries!".

Even last week there was another incident. Last year No Worries forgot to renew her driver's licence until after the expiry date. This year she realised that the date had passed again. So she went to the Motor Registry, waited 30 minutes and filled out a form to renew the Licence. No Worries made her way to the counter and handed the form to the clerk. Immediately the clerk informed her that she was four years too early! To save her coming in every 12 months, No Worries had taken out a 5 year driver's licence last year!

There are many more tales like this including the time she got locked in our house (at the time - courtesy of our 15 month old daughter). I received a phone call at work informing me of this event! I remember my wife saying "no worries, you can unlock the front door when you come home"

Most incidents involve leaving things behind. Fortunately No Worries has always brought our daughters home!

So there it is. A few tales of the one and only No Worries - my soul mate but most definitely scatterbrained!!

No Worries has just come home from a function and had some news for me. She has left her reading book (Personality Plus by Florence Littauer) at the hotel where the function was being held. Naturally her response was "no worries, I can purchase another copy". What more can I say....

28 August 2008

Birthday Party Shenanigans

"You only have to look at the faces of most of the parents to see that they are thinking "I really want to have a go at this"...We hit him at a fair speed and he seemed to be airborne for ages before coming back to earth"

This time of year is a very busy period for the family. It's what I call 'the birthday party season'. Over the next few weeks we will be going to a number of birthday parties of the toddler and child variety. On top of this both our daughter's have their birthdays coming up in the next few weeks.

Last weekend we attended two birthdays to kick off this party season. The one on Saturday was a home affair, while the one on Sunday was held at an indoor play centre. This one was located in a Inner Sydney suburb which is really a warehouse type structure that has climbing structures, slides, obstacles, ball pits and so on.

To be totally honest, even though these places are for children it is obvious that us adults want to try out all the equipment too! You only have to look at the faces of most of the parents to see that they are thinking "I really want to have a go at this". I certainly shared this view. Oh to be a child again....

First things first, it was a birthday party so after having all the children run amok it was time for the food and birthday cake. By now all the children were hungry from their exploits and tucked feverishly into the food and cake. By the time enough cordial had been consumed it was back to the slides, jumping castles for the now hyped up children! Its amazing the effect that sugar has on the young 'uns!

By now I was itching to have a go on the slide as it looked really good. The slide itself was an undulating one rather than a straight one and was quite high at its peak to the floor. Fortunately, I found an excuse to try it out. My youngest daughter came over to me and said "Daddy, will you play with me?" Now how can anyone resist a request like that! Naturally I responded in the affirmative, and was also able to enlist a few of the other parents too (they didn't take too much persuasion either).

So for the next 20 minutes or so I was having fun on the slide along with my youngest daughter, a few parents and lots of sugar fuelled children! After about our sixth slide I asked my wife (aka No Worries) to take a photo of us. Then disaster struck.

As we were coming down, a young girl (probably 2 years old) had stopped near the bottom of the slide as she was scared. Her brother was with her. Straight away I knew a collision was inevitable. I had my youngest daughter in my lap and was frantically trying to avoid us colliding with this girl. I tried grabbing the side of the slide but just then we went over a ridge and I lost my grip. There was nothing I could do.

We collided with the girl and she started to cry. Pathetically I said "sorry, don't cry" then someone collided into us and the little girl started crying more. At the bottom of the slide stood No Worries. She was not impressed. "How could you do that to a small child?" she said. I tried to explain but to no avail.

In the meantime No Worries took the sobbing girl to her mother explaining that our daughter had collided with the girl (thankfully that sounded better than saying "my husband"). Although, I wasn't happy with what happened I also understood it to be an unwritten rule of slides. If you don't get off the slide quick enough then you run the risk of having a collision.

I then decided to try some of the other apparatus in the play centre. I nearly got wedged between two sponge blocks as it then dawned on me that this play centre is for children and not adults. After chasing my eldest daughter around all obstacles for a while it was back to the slide, courtesy again of my youngest daughter.

This time I decided to be extra vigilant and all was going swimmingly well until our last slide when at the bottom of the slide a young boy decided to walk up it. Again it was obvious that we were going to collide with him. I said a quick prayer hoping that the impact would be minor. It wasn't. We hit him at a fair speed and he seemed to be airborne for ages before coming back to earth.

Naturally, tears came flooding down his cheeks. I got up and asked him if he was okay. His father was there and said "don't worry, he's a tough cookie anyway!" He also told me that his son shouldn't have been walking up the slide.

By now I had had enough. I couldn't keep having these collisions as who knows what would happen next!

A few minutes later we bade our farewells and left the play centre. By now my body was aching due to all the bruises I had collected from the slide and chasing my daughters!

One last thought - why can't adults also have play centres like this?

19 August 2008

Going to the Chapel aka A Sydney Wedding

"I need you to buy some stockings" Now my head was spinning? why would I need stockings???...It was at that stage that some Gordon Ramsay style language spewed forth from my mouth and the GPS was turned off"

Weddings are great events. For the family and friends that attend the marriage service it truly is a moment of magic. However, for the bride, groom or bridal party it can be a very stressful time.

The following is an account of what happened to me as I attended the wedding of my wife's best friend in Sydney. My wife was the Matron of Honour and my daughters were Flower Girls.

The day before the wedding my wife informed me that we would need to get up early on Saturday morning so that my daughters and herself could have their hair and makeup done in preparation for the big event (and I don't mean the local footy match either). I considered this and said "no problems" thinking that we could leave home at 8 o'clock and arrive at the bride's house an hour later.

However, I was shocked when she muttered the words "four thirty in the morning" I choked on my tea. "What time???" Again, my wife re-iterated the time. Now, I am not an early morning person and having recovered from the shock of having to get up early I realised that it would be possible to drop off my wife and gals and then drive home for an additional sleep.

Before I knew it Saturday had arrived. The alarm went off and the clock showed the time 4:30 in a fluorescent red colour. My wife staggered out of bed and then started getting ready for the big day. We woke our girls up and put them in the car in their pyjamas. They too, like me, were very sleepy.

The drive to the bride's house was smooth as there was hardly any traffic on the road. I dropped the family off and drove back home. By the time I arrived back I was too awake to sleep and had breakfast and decided to chill before I had to get ready. I put on the television to watch the Olympics only to find that Aussie Rules Football was on!

Later on, I started to get dressed for the wedding when I noticed a stain on my shirt. I couldn't believe it! When I checked the shirt a few days earlier it was totally clean! Some invisible stain monster must have struck during the night. I hoped that no one at the wedding would notice and continued to get ready.

Then my wife rang me. She was exasperated. "I need you to get some shoe inlays, please" "erm, okay" I replied and then asked her why. Apparently the shoes for my youngest daughter were too big and inlays would help. I then realised that time would be of the essence. Now I would need to drive to the local shopping centre, find a parking spot (very hard on a Saturday morning), and get the inlays. Then drive to the City check into our hotel, take some baggage to the bride's hotel and get to the church on time!

By some miracle, I found a parking spot straight away. I headed to the first shoe shop and asked for the inlays. The assistant wanted to know what size shoe would they be required for. Rather than guess I rang my wife and got her to explain. This was all going swimmingly well until the assistant gave the phone back to me.

"I have another request" said the wife. Immediately I was worried. I need you to buy some stockings" Now my head was spinning. Why would I need stockings??? My wife then advised that the bride no longer had a spare pair as my dearest was now wearing them! I started writing down the details. I kept thinking "where am I going to get these stockings?" At last sanity prevailed as the bride overheard and informed that not to bother as they were only available in the US!

I paid for the inlays ran to the car and headed for the City. Now I didn't need to put on the GPS (Sat Nav) but did so for fun. I also put the radio on only to find out that Michael Phelps had won yet another gold at the Olympics! As I approached the City my GPS kept telling me to go in a different direction to the way I knew I had to go. I ignored it and kept heading the way I knew. When I was one road away from my hotel the GPS wanted me to turn back the way I had come. It was at this stage that some Gordon Ramsay style language spewed forth from my mouth and the GPS was rapidly turned off.

I decided to park at a car park close to the hotel. It had 24 hour secure parking so I thought that would be a good place to leave the car. I drove down into the car park only to find that it was actually part of the old tram lines that were once used. To get to the correct parking spot I had to drive along this narrow dark tunnel, then reverse park into a very tight parking spot. Normally my reverse parking skills are extremely average. For some reason I parked the car like I was Lewis Hamilton!

I checked in to the hotel only to find that we had been given a smoking room. "No I don't want a smoking room" said I. Eventually I agreed to drop my bags off in this room and when we arrived after the wedding at midnight we would move to a non-smoking room.

I checked my watch it was half an hour from the start of the wedding. I still had to drop off the bride's baggage. I made my way back to the car down the long and winding tram tunnel. As I got closer to my car I kept seeing this man stand up and then crouch down behind a car. I stopped walking and considered that he might be trying to break into a car. I made a decision to confront this man head on.

As I made my way to where he stood it all became clear. He was a Muslim and had a prayer mat and was praying. I started to think I was in the Twilight Zone. Why would anyone want to pray in a car park that is underground? Also, how does he know in which direction Mecca lay? I shrugged my shoulders and picked up the baggage and headed towards daylight and the bride's hotel.

On the way there my phone rang. It was the wife again. "Hi, we are on our way to the church now and I need another favour". Straight away I thought "what now. Am I expected to play the church organ!!" My wife informed me that she had left our daughter's water bottles at the bride's house and could I buy a bottle of water for them.

Now I had to find a convenience store to get the water. Fortunately, I knew one was close to the church and made my way there. I bought the water and finally got to the church five minutes before the bride arrived. I decided then that it was a good idea to turn my mobile phone off in case I had to do something else like perform the wedding ceremony!