A Traveller's Guide To Kinky Accountant Spiders

Sydney Travel Blog

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Magnet To The Professionally Dull

I don’t believe in God, Cosmology, or Destiny. Which is fortunate for each of these Entities because if I did I’d have some serious beef with them. Why is it that whatever I do in life, wherever I go, that I must always end up befriending Accountants, Financial Analysts or Lawyers?? Not exciting people like Musicians, Inventors, Olympic Athletes, Landscape Gardeners…. No it’s just one big round of people who indulge in an unnatural level of spreadsheet activity.

But you’re thinking ‘what about Lawyers, surely that could be exciting?’ Well yes, if we’re talking about trial lawyers fighting for justice, giving a voice to the gagged, changing the world with ethics and words….. but naturally I’ve never met any of these Lawyers.

Lawyers in my gravitational field are corporate risk assessors, fighting for the protection of shareholders profits, giving a voice to the already outspoken.

So when my new best friend in Sydney reveals himself as an Auditor…. No, worse! A government auditor, I grit my teeth and smile whilst fiddling with the straps of my backpack, resisting the urge to garrotte myself with webbed canvas.

Oooo, an auditor?!... How very … umm…. I guess you must be very good with numbers then!

In my mind Auditors infest the same space in our otherwise joyous world as death-eaters in Hogwarts. The drift around in a faceless chill, their presence freezes the living in a paralysis of hopelessness, leaving an abyss of despair in their wake.

Of course I’m being unreasonably hostile, and it doesn’t take a psychologist to realise that what I’m experiencing is Dread Of The Inevitable. Two years from now, chances are you’ll find me hunched at the desk, sizable ass spilling over the chair as I struggle to put a positive spin on the Weekly Report, sweating the small stuff I case I should come across as incapable....'cos God knows I need this job……the mortgage looks set to go up next month… the car loan’s due and the washer/dryer is doing neither. My sad future self will re-check the figures, mentally invent defences for the weak areas, and before pressing ‘send’ I’ll glance at the out-tray where white A4 pages are restrained by an authentic painted boomerang (Made In China) and I’ll remind myself that ‘I did something different once’.

PS. Plea to all my Accountant, Financier & Lawyer friends: please don’t leave me to my bitter ruminations, you know I love you really XXX

Perv Nation

I’m not saying that all Australians are sex fiends, It’s just that there appears to be a heightened amount of deviancy going on recently.

1st week here: Man in questioning about indecent assault of young boy in men’s toilets at the Melbourne Open Tennis.

2nd week here: Again at the tennis; a different man in questioning about his shoe-camera and it’s fondness for women in skirts.

3rd week here: On an elevated seat on the bus, can’t help but notice a letter being written by lady on lower seat in front of me. Word ‘Bondage’ springs from page. She continues to scribble away furiously; ‘You asked if it makes me want to come when you.

..’ I’ll never know what exactly did or didn’t make her come, because at this moment the bus stopped and she packed away her letter into a tatty tartan shopping bag, straightened her comfortable floral leggings, pulled back her ash-grey hair and stepped off the bus in the guise of a sweet little old lady.

4th week here: Gazing out of the window of a coach I look down at a car pulled up alongside. Man in drivers seat is absently stroking his steering wheel: Normal enough I guess. Man in back seat stroking his naked dick: Less normal. I blink… yup it’s still there. Back seat man looks up and smiles at me like a proud schoolboy. His face is as ugly as Spud’s from Trainspotting. This seems fitting because actually he was very well endowed and it’s only fair to the Balance Of Life that a blessing should always be equalled with a curse.

Tropfest

Tropfest

Once a year in every main Australian city Tropfest happens. As dusk falls giant screens are erected in a central park, locals gather with rugs & bursting picnic baskets. On this night in Sydney I joined my too-beautiful-to-be-true friend Selma & her pals. We watched as bands played, singers sung & DJ’s drivelled. People all around get progressively pissed (happy sunshine pissed, not miserable English ‘I’m gonna focking cut you up’ pissed.) Then at about 8pm there’s a welcome drum-roll as the screens launch into series of new short films. The audience watches, claps, crunches crisps and pulls on extra layers. By the end of the night a favourite film is chosen & it’s director comes one step closer to his or her Oscar dream.

Blue Mountains

The relaxing train journey from Parramatta takes one and a half hours and offers views that progress from mundane to magnificent.

The downside to this way of travelling is that you get spat out at some random mountain town and from there you have to make your own way to the really scenic bits. Busses do run every 3rd monsoon season and there’s probably an old horse and cart taxi service still limping on from the colonial era, but unless you have a spare week to sit at the roadside and count pick-up trucks with Roo Bars*, it’s possibly a better idea to hire a car and make your own way into the mountains.

My adventure began and ended at Evan’s Lookout. From there I walked a 2.5 hour circular trek called the Grand Canyon Walk. The walk starts with a sublime view of a wide green valley flanked by yellow cliffs and shot through with a silver river. The whole serene scene is set to a backdrop of soft focus (faintly blueish) mountains.

The track descends from a dry landscape of creamy white rocks and stark bark-stripped trees into a ripe underworld of green ferns and dripping wet stone. The path twists and turns, sometimes seeming to disappear only to pop up again the other side of the thin river. Stepping through the strobe of bright sunlight and cool shadows I walked and walked, lost in time and thought, stopping only now and then for water and for brief 'Hellos' to couples hiking in the opposite direction.

The Canyons reminded me strongly of the Ardeche Valley; probably not because of any striking geographical similarity but more because their effect is one of remarkable rocky beauty which can only exist in time-spans that make human generations seem absurdly insignificant.

I was considerably moved by this place and wondered if I could say I ‘loved it’ here? I considered the notion whilst clambering around small boulders, over twisted tree roots and under stone balconies;

No….

.no, I decided, You cannot love a place with just one visit. This feeling is simply Deep Appreciation. To Love a place you must be there through the seasons, you have to be able to tread its many paths through memory alone. And when the landscape is ravaged by fire or flood, you watch & wait as the healing begins.. To love a place you will know where you are according to it’s proximity at any given time, in any given space.

Oh dear ; I think I must be spending too much alone time in the sun. Perhaps this is why everyone else is hiking in hatted pairs; to avoid over-philosophising in the presence of abundant chlorophyll.

*Roo Bars are like Bull Bars, except that they are legal and rather than protecting your vehicle from escaped bovines, they protect it from jaywalking (jay hopping?) Kangaroos.

Abstinence Vs. Indulgence.

One day in Sydney I was having a non-work chat with a work related colleague; he was recommending things to do whilst in the city and begun with the Hunter Valley, especially a tour of the vineyards… I stopped him apologetically:

‘ but I stopped drinking so I’m not sure there’s much point..’

He looked a bit bemused so I explained further

‘I was reading this book, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey......it’s a sort of autobiography and in it this guy overcomes terrible, destructive addictions....and at the very end he turns away from a glass of drink even though he wants it more than anything in the whole world.... and well I was so impressed, so moved when I turned the last page that I vowed not to drink for a year.
. as a sort of tribute to his strength…’

Being a frank man my colleague asked:

But you don’t have addiction issues?

‘No, no… only to books I suppose'

‘Sounds like you’ve been a bit rash then’ He said, and continued to describe the merits of the Hunter Valley.

On the way back on the train, I thought about what he’d said: Had I been rash? What exactly was I proving, and to whom? I considered the past three months, about turning down New Zealand wines, about raising apple juice at Christmas whilst everyone else had champagne, about the way other people seemed to enjoy their drinks slightly less after I refused to join them… maybe I had been rash? After all, I know I’m not addicted because these 3+ months have not exactly been agonizing, more like mildly testing.

I didn’t want to be rash twice, so I e-mailed my closest confidante and asked if it would seem weak willed to give up giving up. ‘Go Ahead’ she said, and with that I booked a trip to the Hunter Valley for the following weekend.

Hunter Valley

 

After enduring an unprecidented - but routine- bank trauma in which my account is blocked because of 'Unusual Activitity' I.e Not Being In England, I collapse on the Wine Express bus, take a deep breath & put the last 15 mins behind me:  I'd sat on the edge of a loo seat, under the neon lights of Sydney's Central Station Ladies Conveniences, praying for enough phone credit to last through the laborious conversation with HSBC's Indian call centre; Yes I am in Australia; Yes I have already advised the bank of my travel plans (in fact I've now told them 7 times) and Yes please I'd be very grateful if they could unblock my card so I can continue to exist without having to beg for my lunch.

 

I feel like I've aged a day already & it's only 8.30 in the morning.

 

On arrival I resist the temptation to dive headfirst into a day long wine tasting session, instead I flex my neglected calf muscles and hire a mountain bike . Armed with a map of cycle paths connecting the many luscious vineyards, an ugly helmet which I later realised I wore backwards for the entire day, and plenty of water I pedall away bathed in 40 degree heat.

 

Try to pretend it's not just a little boring wheeling along the roadside admiring the spectacular (but somewhat same-y) vineyards. See a sign pointing away from the cycle track: 'Mountain Top View 4km'. That's more like it!! The road quickly turns to red dust and winds it's way steeply upward through glorious green fields.

BATS!
I'm suddenly as Very Happy as I am Very Sweaty. Whether it's endorphins, or some quasi-religious sentiment, but I can't help but feel a familiar fizz of satisfaction that comes with self imposed suffering, and so as I battle up the harsh ascent in searing sunlight, everything feels just as it should be.

 

On the pinnacle of the mountain-top there's a field with a lone horse in. I smile at the horse and it gives me a heavy lidded look that says, I suppose you think it's wonderful up here, with patchwork vineyards and wild bush stretching away beneath you all the way to the horizon, but I'm a horse and have no concept of aesthetic appreciation - all I know is that I'm Bored.

 

Just past the horse the track tappers and stops.

Linndemans Estate
A look over the edge of the other side of the mountain (which I think is truthfully more of a big hill) reveals the tip of a red rubble path flashing dust, loose stones and deep rivetts. OOOOooo it looks so good; perfect for biking, I don't think I can resist! I look at my map. It's not on there...Consider.  The only intellgent life I've seen in two hours is a morose horse; If I miss my return bus, I'm about 100K away from where I should be.. hmmm. Sod it.

 

I launch the bike onto the track and it's as exhilerating as it promised; I have to stand back over the saddle, fingers tickling the brakes, asessing every second where to direct the front wheel and it spins through the rocks and twisting crevices. The whole bike shakes and rattles like an empty baked bean can full of nails.

Valentines in (more!) Botanical Gardens
We go down and down, faster and bumpier. The skin on my forearms flares with an itching sensation thet you get when being shaken at speed. WOO-HOO- This is Fantastic!. Just when I think I've gone too far into the unknown, the path patoo-ey's me out at the roadside underneath the Mountain View sign; a smiling sticky mess covered in fine red dust from head to toe.

 

Brilliant, brilliant morning. Now to a shady vineyard for a nice cool glass of well earned sav blanc.

 

Sydney Wildlife World

Sydney Wildlife Park is located in the delightful Darlinghurst harbour, a wee jaunt southwards from the Opera House. The place is like Mary Poppins' handbag in as much as it looks tiny from the outside but actually contains much more than you’d expect.

Although the chintz lamp is sadly absent.

You can’t really wander round willy-nilly inside; instead a wide corridor leads you from insects to reptiles to birds to little fluffy things to big fluffy things.

I’ll not bore you with all the weird & wonderful creatures I encountered, but these guys were most memorable for me:

The Rhinoceros Cockroach: I thought the mutant bug was just a fictional character from Men In Black. Apparently not; it scuttles among us like a baby's foot clad in shiny armour with twitching tentacles. urgghh!

The ‘big as a tennis ball’ spider with thick stubbly legs and 8 fearsome eyes: So bloody huge its web appears to be made of knitting wool.

The Horny Devil: This guy stole the show.

I have never ever before encountered something so small with so much personality (to be fair - considering his name you rather expect a colourful character) Imagine a pit bull terrier; short bowlegs, proud chest, erect tail.. Replace his hair with scaly spikes and then shrink him down to the size of a mouse. Look closely at his face; where you & I have eyebrows he has horns beneath which bulging reptilian eyes blink without reprieve. His lipless thin smile is unforgiving; simply sparking with energy……. he looks at you with an expression that says ‘ I could share the secret of quantum physics with you, you flabby human thing, but you’re obviously far too stupid to know what to do with it’.

One more rapid blink, a switch-twitch of his tail and he’s gone.

The Echidna; I found this humungous hedgehog laboriously scaling a small tree in his glass pen.

Whilst watching his lack of progress an assistant came over and said

‘if you look at the back he’s probably there digging a hole’.

‘No’ I said ‘he’s just here; climbing the tree’

‘wha….’ she breathed 'but he's strictly a ground dweller!!'

We both watched a while as this gallant creature continued on his monkey mission upwards despite having no discernable legs connecting his thick body to his flat feet.

As with all good shows, the experience ended with the most popular acts: the Kangaroos & Koalas. Goes without saying that I adored both (plus the fat, sleepy wombat). However I felt slightly bad at the Kangaroos being penned in; those supersonic legs have far more bounce in them than a dusty rooftop could ever do justice to.

* Aside: Whilst writing this report I was trying to recall a very cute bug-eyed Possum like creature that was especially cuddlesome. Not sure of it’s name I ran a search on Google Australia: ‘Find Australian Nocturnal Mammals?’ Among the many Search Results was one simply headed ‘Masturbation’.

Why oh why oh why.

Wandering Where & What (part 3)

The great thing about Rosehill is because it’s so crushingly boring I’ve begun to feel my first twinges of proper homesickness. I say ‘proper’ because minor homesickness along the lines of: ‘I bet I’m missing all the good gossip’ or ‘God I miss Sky Plus’ is surely inevitable.

Proper homesickness is when your mind barely acknowledges your surroundings; instead your heart & soul constantly bombard you with images of the people and places you’ve left behind.

This isn’t necessarily a negative experience as it provides some of the clarity I’ve been searching for. I’m now more certain than ever before that when I get home to Gloucestershire, I should make it my base.

But there’s one small disclaimer……. the more I travel the more I want to keep on travelling; if I can get a job in the Leafy Shire that happens to periodically send me away to far-flung corners of the world, then everything will be hunky dory!

Still Wandering .

A (failed) ex-boyfriend of mine had been reading my blog and emailed me with this worldly wisdom:

Don’t worry too much about trying to answer all the important questions, you will feel exactly the same about everything when you get back!!! .

From behind a waterfall

He’s right of course but it’s easier said than done. From the earliest memory of sherry-soaked relatives breathily asking

‘And what do you want to be when you grow up, eh, little one?’

this Big Question haunts you forever. So, try as I might, I can’t stop wondering what my true calling might be..

However what I'm learning is that wondering Who is a futile pursuit. The subject is, by it's very nature, completely adverse to over-thought.  So I’m letting it go… Who ends here. Kaputified, Deadaroonie & Overski

imreaper says:
wow !! I loved reading this :).....
Posted on: Aug 17, 2010
mfmcp1982 says:
what an awesome blog! You have some fantastic photos too... :D
Posted on: Apr 09, 2008
glennisnz says:
I vowed to find a job working with travllers if I couldn't be one all the time. After many years I finally did find such a job .... being a tour guide around our local Vineyards and being a Taxi driver, it gives enough dough-ray-me to be a real travellor every winter.
Travelling people are just the happiest people I find.
Posted on: Jan 25, 2008
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Tropfest
Tropfest
BATS!
BATS!
Linndemans Estate
Linndemans Estate
Valentines in (more!) Botanical Ga…
Valentines in (more!) Botanical G…
From behind a waterfall
From behind a waterfall
No idea why these guys are marchin…
No idea why these guys are marchi…
Anna & Paul & pusscat (Duchess?)
Anna & Paul & pusscat (Duchess?)
Sydney
photo by: Sunflower300