Rozelle Markets: Week 215

Vintage picnic photo from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

I’m not the kind of person that glances over a rack of clothes and makes a quick decision. I’m the person that will go through the rack, one piece at a time, and rub each item’s material between my fingers. This is especially true for thrift stores.

Kitchenware demands to be picked up, flipped upside down, and inspected. Books require at least the first three pages to be read. Knickknacks need to be walked past, circled back around, and then contemplated for another minute. I can’t help myself; this is just the way I like to shop.

Vintage Avor Stone Ginger Beer bottle from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Because I was due to leave Australia within the next few weeks, I decided one of the last things I had to do was visit the Rozelle Markets. It is the best place in Sydney to find antiques. The booths are full of old bottles, coins, plates, ashtrays, vases, lamps, toys, clothes, and bric-a-brac.1947 Australia Penny from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

My visit to the Rozelle Markets also coincided with ANZAC Day, which is a holiday that celebrates Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in war and is especially associated with WWI. Because it is such a patriotic holiday, it seemed like a good day to pick up all things Australiana.

Vintage Australian stamps from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Unfortunately for my friend Emma, who had accompanied me on this trip, she was unfamiliar with my method of shopping.

My morning began within the worn pages of a stamp album. While the grumpy vendor slowly plucked out my favorite stamps one at a time, Emma had already looked through half of the stalls.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Shortly afterwards, I picked up a book from a famous Australian author- The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It had been on my book list for a while. After that I poked around overpriced teacups and then dug through cheap silverware.Vinatge Towradgi Park Bowling Club pin from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Two hours later, Emma found me browsing through bowling club pins. She’d already been around the market three times and had had a long conversation with her twin brother on the phone. “You’ve spent more time there today than when you lived in Rozelle,” he told her. Emma took this to mean that a lunch break was in order. We left the markets to find sushi and cider.

Vintage Halekulani Bowling Club pin from Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

After lunch I convinced Emma to go back to the markets for a little bit longer. “I just want a quick look through the rest of the booths that I’d missed.” As soon as Emma was out of sight, I found a big pile of vintage photos and went through them one at a time.

Vintage soldier photo from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought I was though, Emma had seen me pick up the stack. Eventually I noticed Emma’s presence corralling me along. Aside from a quick stop at a bucket of vintage tea towels, I was artfully maneuvered towards the exit.

“You know, there’s usually more stalls than this,” Emma mused as we left the markets. I don’t believe I am wrong in thinking that was said with a sigh of relief.

Part of a vintage Lightning Ridge tea towel from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

How to get to the Rozelle Markets: 663 Darling Street, Rozelle 2039

Caves Beach: Week 213

Caves along the beach: Caves Beach, Australia

On the way to Caves Beach, we stopped in Lake Macquarie. It was breakfast time and the sun was already strong. Two kids had set up a bike ramp at the end of a pier and were taking turns riding their BMX bikes into the lake. Across from the waterfront was a cafe and homeware shop called Common Circus. The coffee was good and the shop was stuffed with carefully selected Etsy-ish items like ‘crumpled’ ceramic cups, potted succulents, and geodesic egg holders. It wasn’t easy to leave with our wallets intact.

Common Circus business card: Lake Macquarie, Australia

After breakfast at a different café, we drove down to Caves Beach. Although it was early autumn, the sun was beating down and we couldn’t resist jumping into the ocean even in our clothes. Once we had cooled off, Barret and I walked behind a group of squealing kids that were headed towards the southern end of the beach. They were giddy about passing through a series of caves and while we inwardly felt a similar excitement, we stopped when we found a quiet-ish patch of shade.

Caves Beach, Australia

After a few snacks Barret and I fell asleep to the sound of the ocean. When we woke, the tide had risen and heavy clouds were rolling in. Our friends and I rushed to pack the gear into the car as a thick blanket of clouds raced to the edge of the cliffs. The rain began to pour down and then it began to hail. Barret parked the car under a metal awning and we could barely hear each other’s exclamations over the sound of the falling hail.

Caves Beach on a rainy day: Caves Beach, Australia

Further down the coast we stopped at The Entrance for dinner. The town is a popular coastal destination and is well known for the flocks of pelicans that congregate on the beach. Being the tail end of a four-day weekend, the town was quite and only the mechanical tunes of a small fairground hung in the air.

Barret, our friends, and I walked up and down the main street in search of a good place to eat. We passed restaurants, gift shops, ice cream shops with kangaroos painted on the walls, and old red brick vacation rentals with slender names signed across the front. My favorite, because I’m from Vegas, was Ceasar’s Palace.

The Entrance Hotel coaster: The Entance, Australia

In the end we chose The Entrance Hotel. The food was delicious and the venue was a cheery beacon of light on such an overcast evening.

How to get to Common Circus: 36 Brooks Parade, Belmont, Lake Macquarie

How to get to Caves Beach: Mawson Close, Caves Beach

How to get to The Entrance Hotel: 87 The Entrance Road, The Entrance

Hunter Valley: Week 212

Vineyard landscape in the Hunter Vallery: Pokolbin, Australia

Pokolbin, the gateway to the Hunter Valley wine region, is an undulating field of grape vines under a pale blue sky. It’s located about two and a half hours north of Sydney and a good first stop after that long drive would be Kevin Sobels Wines. Aside from the tasting bar, the grounds host the Handmade Hunter Markets on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Because we drove up on Easter weekend, the markets were also open on Sunday.

The usual country goods were all in attendance- from hand sewn purses to cutting boards to scented soy candles. We ate a bacon and egg pizza that was cooked in the back of a van and tasted passion fruit lemon butter ‘just like Grandma made.’

Casbars Kitchen and Garden business card: Pokolbin, Australia

My best purchase though was a jar of River Flats Estate Chilli & Fennel infused Corregiola olives in apple cider vinegar. The diminutive size of the olives might not have been impressive- and the fact that they weren’t pitted- but that would have been a huge misjudgment. They were some of the best olives I had ever tasted and it was also the first time I actually appreciated olive pits because they forced me to slow down and savor the spiciness of the chilli and the bite of the fennel seeds.

Tamburlaine Vineyard: Pokolbin, Australia

After the market our friends and I drove to an organic vineyard called Tamberlaine. The tour guide worked part time at the vineyard and had a full time job as a drama teacher. We knew it was going to be an interesting tour when we heard him respond to a query about having children. “Look at me. Do you think any woman would trust me to impregnate them?”

After we toured the vineyard we reconvened in a large tasting room. Beside the tour, my $50 ticket included a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese and crackers to go with the wine tasting. I was feeling quite generous, so I told Barret I’d drive and poured my share of the wine samples into his glass. He was definitely looking sleepy at the end of the tasting.

Originally we intended on visiting several vineyards, but we had such a good time with our guide that the next thing we knew there was only a half hour until most of Pokolbin closed. Barret and I decided to buy a few extra bottles of wine and some dark chocolate. Unfortunately we didn’t have any more time to spend in the Hunter Valley, but I was very happy we went away with some good wine.

Vineyard landscape in the Hunter Valley: Pokolbin, Australia

About: The Hunter Valley

About: River Flats Estates

How to get to the Handmade Hunter Markets: Corner of Broke & Halls Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

How to get to Tamburlaine: 358 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

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

chappie-poster-teaser

“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!

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