Marble Bar: Week 210

Marble Bar: Sydney, Australia

There is something about old, soft marble that is so incredible appealing to me. The marble floors were the first thing I noticed when I inspected my current house. I’m not sure if it’s the original flooring, but a lifetime of foot traffic has left the surface smooth and as cool to the touch as a puddle of water.

I actually wish all the flooring in the house was marble. How delicious it would feel in the middle of a heat wave, how much quieter it would be than the squeaky wood planks in the dining room.

Marble Bar: Sydney, Australia

That’s kind of how Marble Bar feels- like a cool, dark sanctuary. It was originally constructed in 1893 with the finest Belgian and African marbles and financed through a horseracing sweepstakes. Originally known as the George Adams Bar, it was closed in 1968 and reopened five years later after being painstakingly reconstructed inside the Sydney Hilton.

One hundred and twenty-two years ago, it would have been the finest bar in the colony to escape to from a hot summer’s day. I could just imagine men in top hats twirling their moustaches and swirling their brandies. Nowadays, Marble Bar attracts celebratory office workers and tourists. The drinks are definitely priced more for the tourist end of that spectrum though.

Marble Bar: Sydney, Australia

At the end of the day I usually prefer a bargain, but it is nice to occasionally slip into something a bit more luxurious. For some people that might mean a Chanel dress. For me it means 100 tons of National Trust of Australia “A”-rated marble.

How to get to Marble Bar: LB1, Hilton Sydney Hotel, 488 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

The Circuitous Route to Colombia: Week 209


“Give me my computer; I’m going to uninstall Hearthstone.”

Barret resolutely grabbed his laptop, flipped it open and then hesitated. “Damn it. I don’t know if I can do it. It’s got me by the balls.”

Hmmmmph. Barret walked out of the room. Ten seconds later he walked back in.

“I’ve got to do it!”

Hearthstone is an online card game created by Blizzard. It’s meant to be a casual counterpart to the ‘massive multiplayer online’ games like World of Warcraft, but it still sucks players in for a lot longer than they’d planned. Barret hadn’t seen a problem with that until he started researching productivity strategies. That got him into a right funk.

“God- should I do it?” He called out to me. “Potelllllllllllll?”

“I’m so unproductive.” Barret continued. “I’ve got to do it.” He forlornly poked at a few keys and sighed again. “I don’t know how to do it. Well, I’m just going to move it to the trash… Here I go.” He looked up at me. “What are you typing?”

Before I could reply, Barret interrupted. “All right. Hearthy’s gone. I didn’t even get through Blackrock Mountain.” He suddenly remembered his previous question. “What are you typing?”

“Everything you’ve been saying.”

“Oh God.” He laughed as he stood up to look over my shoulder.

The decision to delete his Hearthstone account might have come out of the blue, but there was a reason Barret was suddenly concerned with productivity. In fact, a lot of things had lined up which encouraged us to get a bit more creative- our house lease ending, my job ending, our graphic novel project, and Chappie being released.

A few years ago Barret spent some time at the studio that did the visual effects for Chappie. The movie’s release was a nice reminder that his dream job was within reach and also a sign that if we were serious about an art sabbatical, then we’d better get to it – which is why I applied to teach English at a technical college in Colombia. The plan is that while I’m working, Barret will dedicate his time to our graphic novel.

Shortly after I had my first interview we bought two tickets for Chappie and a bottle of bubbly. (That’s the great thing about movie theaters on this side of the world- bottle service comes with a free large tub of butter popcorn.)

Cheers to chasing a crazy dream and an awesome two and a half years in Sydney!

Kirribilli Market: Week 208

Secondhand clothing stalls at the Kirribilli Market: Sydney, Australia

Sydney loves its weekend markets. I have been to quite a few so far, but since I live on the south side of the harbour, I don’t make it to the north too often. That’s probably the reason why it took me two years to discover the Kirribilli Fashion Market.

It was established in 1974 and it takes place on the second Sunday of every month. The location couldn’t be better either- a grassy park that at the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I arrived there in the late morning and the place was already buzzing with fashionable women with money to burn. The clothing stalls closest to the bridge were more formal booths with sun canopies and business cards.

Secondhand clothing stalls at the Kirribilli Market: Sydney, Australia

The plots further out on the lawn were cash-only operations run by hip college students with crooked racks of clothes and beer-money dreams. Their school friends clustered nearby in felt hats and platform sandals and rolled their cigarettes. These kind of booths were the best to bargain with late in the day.

Kirribilli Art and Design Market: Sydney, Australia

There was also an arts and design section of the market that was held in a massive tunnel under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. All of the food carts were located close to this area, which helped keep Barret distracted while I browsed.

Kirribilli Art and Design Market: Sydney, Australia

I could have stayed longer, but I didn’t bring my hat and I could tell the top of my head was getting too much sun. However, I didn’t leave empty handed- I bought a pink work blouse for work and a sea foam colored silk cape for I have no idea what. I’ve just always wanted a little cape and this is also attached to a vest- sounds like I got my money’s worth.

How to get to the Kirribilli Markets: Catch the T1 North Shore line to Milsons Point. Exit the station in the direction of Bradfield Park or Luna Park.

Cricket World Cup: Week 207

2015 Cricket World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground: Sydney, Australia

My line of reasoning went- if I only ever go to one cricket game, I need to make it count. That’s why I bought tickets to one of the Cricket World Cup matches in Sydney.

The only Sydney game Australia was scheduled to play was already sold out, so I picked the next best thing- the cheap seats for the South Africa vs West Indies. Despite being two far-flung countries, the Sydney Cricket Ground was still packed with fans.

Although our seats were as cheap as they come, they were close to the turf and also right by the most enthusiastic fan in the entire stadium. Every time a troupe of drummers stood up on a podium, this guy jumped up in front of them to lead them with his whistle. With his lips firmly clasped around the instrument, he used his hands to anchor himself against the field’s perimeter.2015 Cricket World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground: Sydney, Australia

Only after our friends arrived did we begin to understand the nuances and terminology of the game. The most important thing I learned is that cricket is not baseball. The ball isn’t pitched- it’s bowled. The batter is not a batter- he’s a batsman and there’s two of them (from the same team) on the field at all times.

Test cricket, which is a shorter version that’s played for international competitions, only has two innings. However, two cricket innings are actually equivalent to just one baseball inning. That means that one entire team bats until they strike out (oops-there are no strikes!) or 300 balls are bowled. Then the other team tries to catch up. Then the game is over.

“Wouldn’t it be more exciting,” I asked my friend, “if they took more turns?”


“Why not?” I pressed.

“Because it’s not baseball.”

“I know it isn’t baseball, but cricky would…”

“It’s not cricky either. It’s cricket.”

“You don’t like the name?”

My friend replied without a moment’s hesitation. “No.”

“Why not? If football’s called footy, why isn’t cricket cricky?”

“Because footy sounds manly and cricky sounds…. Not manly.”

I wasn’t convinced. The first reason being that whenever I hear the word ‘footy’ I think of baby socks. The second reason being that nothing is more appropriate in Australia than a good abbreviation and there is surprisingly nothing for cricket.This is why I have decided to coin the term ‘cricky’.

Unfortunately, not even the most anti-sports person at work agrees with me.

“It sounds too much like crikey.” One colleague complained.

“That’s great!” I replied. “You could say something like- Crikey the cricky was good!”

“That sounds terrible.”

“No way, I’m loving this nickname even more!”

I definitely think I’m on to something.

About: 2015 Cricket World Cup

Yarra Valley Wine Tasting: Week 206

St Ronan's Cider

One of my friends pushed me forward. “Excuse me,” she said to the vendor, “could you please explain to my American friend where the Yarra Valley is? I can’t believe she doesn’t know.”

“Sure.” The guy replied. “We’re about 60 km northeast of Melbourne.”

“Ah, ok.” I shook my head knowingly as I reached for my glass of pinot noir. “I kind of know that area.”

As soon as we turned away, my friend leaned in. “I didn’t know where the Yarra Valley was either- but I couldn’t admit it because I’m Australian.” I don’t know why my friend was so worried because the question really wasn’t as stupid as it sounded. My friends and I weren’t in the Yarra Valley, we were actually at a tasting exhibition in downtown Sydney.

Although the event was dominated by wine vendors, there were representatives for Yarra Valley ciders, beers, and gin too.

St Ronan’s Cider was my first stop and I tried both their apple and pear ‘Methode Traditionelle’ cider. Both were very good, but anyone interested in more detail than that would be disappointed- my notes simply say, “sparkling apple & pear.” No beating around the bush for me.

Seville Estate Yarra Valley

My next stop was the delicious Yarra Valley Dairy. Of all their cheeses, my favorite was the Black Savourine. I was too busy scraping the soft cheese off the plate to compile my thoughts on paper, but luckily I did pick up a brochure description which sounds a bit naughty (as all good food descriptions should). Semi-mature, aged white mould goat’s milk cheese. A complex plate of full flavours. Roast nuts, cooked cream, hint of blue, full length.

From there I visited TarraWarra Estate (my notes say “very tannic pinot”), another vineyard who had one of their wines chosen for Qantas first class (can’t remember the name-lost that note), and Seville Estate (my notes show a picture of a smiley face).Payten & Jones

Of all the wine that I tasted, and I did enjoy most of it, the vendor that stood out the most was from Payten & Jones. His name was Troy and I noticed that he not only had the most casual shirt of the lot but he also had working hands- as in the kind of hands that are actually out in the vineyard picking grapes.

The reason that stuck out in my mind was that after having picked kiwifruit in New Zealand, I know how much it sucks to be in the field. So for someone to be so passionate about their product that they wouldn’t avoid the back-breaking work when they still have to do the marketing and all the other stuff that comes along with running a vineyard, I think that says something good about the product.

Of course the wine speaks for itself too and in this case it’s saying, “buy me- I’m tasty.”

About: The Yarra Valley

About: Payton and Jones

About: Yarra Valley Dairy

About: St Ronan’s Cider

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