July 30, 2009


It’s not all boxes. Really. Sunday we took a break and went to see Michael Nyman and his band at the Sydney Opera House. Virginia picked us up, dropped off a huge Lemongrass bush to plant in our garden, and we headed to Onde for Dinner in Darlinghurst. The food was great, easily the best meal we’ve had in Sydney so far, if not the most expensive, but that was because we ate loads and drank some wonderful wines. From there we zipped down to the quay, parked underground and rose to the most fabulous view of Sydney.

I loved Paris and I miss it every single day, but once in awhile here in Sydney, the view just takes my breath away. And so it does from the Opera House. It’s beautiful, even on a wet Sydney evening.

Photo by David Messent, courtesy of Jorn Utzon/Utzon Architects and the Pritzker Prize Committee

Photo by David Messent, courtesy of Jorn Utzon/Utzon Architects and the Pritzker Prize Committee

We drank champagne when we arrived, we pre-ordered our champagne for the interval and then we took our great seats and listened to Michael Nymans tunes one after another. Michelle & Virginia were naming the films one after another, passing the binoculars back and forth. If they came my way, I kept sending them further down our row for all the unfortunates who left theirs at home (it’s usually us!). The music from the Piano was easily the highlight, and the first half was definitely stronger than the second half where I thought it all started sounding the same.

As we were leaving, we ran into the man himself and Virginia and Michelle almost fell over themselves to go and shake his hand.

He in turn urged them to buy a CD!!

filles at 8:07 am

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July 28, 2009

Nothing new

Still unpacking boxes. More and more boxes. It’s getting boring to do, I’m sure it’s getting boring to hear about. Electrician was back today, replaced one transformer, took one light away to be replaced then scratched his head regarding the range-hood and declared it unrepairable, unreplaceable and would be very happy if we could stop talking about it, and just forget it. Suits me. For the moment anyway.

In other news, school is going well. I have one Australian sommelier as a teacher on Monday nights who is very methodic, calm and organised and then on Wednesday nights I have a mad french winemaker as a teacher who is the complete opposite, all over the place, super stressed and so disorganised it’s almost funny. They are both good fun.

For homework last night we were each given 2 bottles of wine to take home and taste. Doesn’t feel like school at all.

filles at 8:29 am

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July 22, 2009

a fine winter 20

It’s 20 degrees outside (about 11 degrees inside). It’s 9.30am on a fine winter morning, and I think I’m going to like this assignment. Here’s the update: I started school on Monday, 2 days a week for a year studying wine. As I’ve said many a time, life’s tough. So far so good. Our hire furniture is returning to whence it came on Thursday, and our own furniture is arriving on Friday, 7am. We’ll have one tricky night on the floor with no heater but after that we’re back in our own bed, or at least on a mattress on the floor in our bedroom since our new bed doesn’t arrive before September.

Today I’m on a mission to Bondi for curtains & cook books, Surry Hills for the butcher and then out to Ryde early to spend some time in the library amongst the wine books before my class. It’s a long day, home by about 22h15 but worth it.

A good aussie hat

A good aussie hat

Our friend Alan went all out and made Michelle (by hand!) the perfect hat for an Australian summer… it was his parting gift at our farewell drinks before we left Paris.

filles at 9:30 am

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July 20, 2009

All for a pair of boots!

We’re getting a bit tired of wearing the same clothes. A suitcase is generally not big enough for 8 weeks worth of clothes, even with a washing machine. Once our stuff gets here it’s going to feel like we’ve been out shopping for lots of new things to wear. I can’t wait.

Sadly, waiting is what we’ve been doing. Our container arrived 2 weeks ago in Sydney, and it’s been going through customs, inspections and fumigation ever since. On Wednesday last week, we were advised it should be finished and ready to deliver Monday. Thursday last week, we received an email telling us they found a pair of boots in our container that were not clean. We had an option to steam clean for $360, or destroy for $75. We were a little indignant about this, since Michelle had spent two solid days washing & scrubbing shoes before we left. We wanted to see a picture of which shoes they were before we decided to go ahead and chuck them. Friday last week, they sent us a picture. I didn’t even recognise the boots, although Michelle did….

Apparently they were my hillwalking boots from Scotland. Seems these boots have been sealed away in a box with my other well used (!) hillwalking gear, stored in our ‘cave’ in Paris for 3 years, never touched. Little wonder then we didn’t wash them, we didn’t even notice the box. Needless to say, the poor boots have been destroyed and our container has been delayed another week.

What will I wear on our next hillwalking trip?

filles at 9:57 am

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July 16, 2009


Trying to get all the things you need to set up house is difficult to do quickly. Normally, we add to our possessions slowly, a lamp here, a planter pot there, little things we see once in awhile that we just love. In a big move, you need lots of little things to make the big empty shell a home. I’m a bit impatient (no, really!) and I’d prefer to have everything bought, installed and setup in the first 3 weeks…. so you can imagine, now that we are just closing week 7, I’m starting to get a little frustrated.

Still no rug bought, still no curtains, still no pots nor plants, nor car or TV.

Today I’m taking a break and I’m going to help someone else. My aunt is picking me up this morning to go and help sort out cupboard space with my cousin. It’s a fair way away from here, still in Sydney, but since Sydney is one of the largest cities in the world, land size of 1580 square kilometers (compare that to 105 sq. Km for Paris) – it’s still far. We’ll spend the day there, then Michelle will join us since she is going to be out there visiting a supplier in the afternoon anyway. If we’re lucky we might get dinner and a lift home too!

filles at 8:14 am

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July 14, 2009

World’s funniest Island

I have a friend who is working for this comedy festival, the inaugural year, and I was invited along today to the press gathering. There was some tea, coffee and muffins, exactly 5 glasses of champagne (between 200 odd people), some speaches and some snippets of performances which were all very good and most importantly, very funny – but the best bit was, they led us onto a Sydney ferry and we cruised through the harbour over to Cockatoo Island where the comedy festival (aka weekend) is going to be held in October.

It’s brilliant. The island. Currently Ken Unsworth has an art exhibition on the island, and by all accounts it’s something to be seen, and we will do, when mum comes to visit at the end of this month. We walked around the island, all 200 of us, led by funny man, Rod Quantock with a speaker phone who showed us the layout of the island, as it is in his head and as it will be for the comedy festival weekend in October.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to a weekend on Cockatoo Island, we may even camp there….

filles at 4:39 pm

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July 13, 2009


If you want to spend some time looking at beautiful houses available for holiday rentals, this is the place to go…

I was searching for a beach holiday, sleeping about 10, not too far from Sydney initially, now I’m looking all over Australia – waterfront, sleeps 10 or more, plus pool and spa. I warn you, it’s a time eater though.

Who knows maybe we’ll get there yet…

filles at 1:13 pm

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Bastille Day = dinner at a French restaurant
We’re doing it. The whole hog. We’ve booked for a ‘special’ evening at Bitton which is just down the street, 3 courses, escargot ou moules marinières, steak-frites ou lapin à la moutarde, Crème brûlée ou Crème caramel and BYO wine. French of course. We’ll be 5 filles, in the company of many with the personable and charming David Bitton no doubt.

Tacky, yes. Fun, for sure.

filles at 9:34 am

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July 10, 2009

Can I tell you about my lousy day?

It started with the recycling men not taking my black bin. The black bin, as far as I know, is for recycling glass, plastic and cans – as opposed to the blue bin, which is for paper and cardboard. They took the blue bin, emptied it, turned it upside down and left it in the middle of the street. Normal. I brought it inside. The black bin was still sitting on the side-walk. An hour later I heard them pass, I meant to go and bring in my bin, but forget.

I got ready for my day, armed with a list of locations, tape measure, bus numbers and street directions and I set out via the garage door, only to stumble upon my black bin. Full. The same amount of bottles, plastic and tins as I left this morning. The people across the street had their bins emptied, there were upside down in the middle of the street, mine was sitting politely on the side of the road, full. I have no idea why. Nevermind, I didn’t let that stop me.

I brought the bin in anyway and set out to find cutains in Petersham. I decided to take a different route, get to know the neighbourhood. I got lost. No big deal. That didn’t stop me.

I found my bus, took it into the most industrial part of Sydney I’ve been to lately with 747s flying directly overhead (I could almost see the hostesses collecting the last of coffee trays). The curtain shop was lovely, less ready-made curtains than I had hoped, but lovely fabrics. The latest in French design(!). I ummed and aahhed, finally settling on an Indian silk for the bedroom (the first of three sets of curtains we need). The woman, pulled out her calculator, flattered me about my choice, mentioned it was 33% off and then winded me with a price of $1200. Nevermind, that didn’t stop me.

I turned around, stopped into the local pub for a shandy, I was thirsty and dying for the bathroom, before bravely crossing 8 lanes of highway in Sydenham. I missed my bus, and had to wait 35 minutes in the shade, in the icy wind on a highway across the road from a KFC. No big deal. That didn’t stop me.

My bus came, smooth sailing. The driver was friendly he gave me some tips of where to get off and I made it to the SupaCentre without a glitch. I sidled up to the blind counter in Freedom, ready to place an order for some eco-shutters for the study at 50% off. I measured the blind. I searched through all the boxes and for the life of me I couldn’t find my size. I asked for some help, the kid who was about 20 told me that 145cm is no longer a standard size for blinds, I’m going to need custom made, or, I can get a blind installer to come along to chop off the excess 5cm and handed me some publicity for a sub-contractor. I shrugged my shoulders, decided to wait until tomorrow, re-measure and deal with it then. Nevermind. That didn’t stop me.

Then I headed up to Nic Scali for the red leather chair that I remembered so fondly from our last trip to the SupaCentre. So deep, so comfortable, so reasonable. $499 is what we remembered. Only we remembered wrong, $590 in fact. Plus, you can’t pick up from Nic Scali anymore, you MUST pay for delivery. $75 worth of delivery. For a chair. I tried to negotiate in my frazzled state, he would give me a discount, but despite trying hard for a pickup it wasn’t going to happen. I told him I’d think about it. On my way out, I stopped to sit in it again, only instead of sitting in the red chair, I sat in the greenish/yellow chair and it was not so deep, nor so comfortable. What was going on. Back I went, demanding why the red and orange chairs were comfy, yet the brown and yellow ones were not? It seems that the orange & red chairs have been there for years, and everyone sits down. Just age he told me, mine too would become like that after a couple of years…. My response was that I want mine to be comfortable like that now. Not to worry, didn’t stop me.

I left the supacentre, and trudged along another highway back to redfern to take a bus to central, only I got on the 301 instead of the 303 and ended up going to Surry Hills. Nevermind, I walked to Central from Surry Hills, no biggy, used to do that everyday years ago. I called Michelle to call the Teak warehouse in Lewisham to confirm what time they closed, it was 4pm and I didn’t want to miss it. She did, they closed at 5pm, 7 days. The teak warehouse has 20% off until this weekend, we’ve spent about 90 minutes there already looking at a million different combinations, but we forgot one. I was going back to check it out. The train took forever, I got to Lewisham, I pulled out my street directory and I ran to Parramatta Road, I made it with 9 minutes to spare.

Only, it was closed. I mean, completely closed up, no lights, no sidedoors open, no sign of life. I buzzed continually on the garage doors, Michelle called non-stop, no-one picked up. They’d gone. Friday afternoon, who would know? a little early-mark!!!

Even though we had called not 45 minutes before!! Oh well. Another bus ride back to Broadway, dash across 6 lanes, another bus along King St, almost home, press the bell to stop the buzz and damn, just remembered I was supposed to pick up my worm farm. Got off the bus, ran back the 2 stops to the Watershed to get the farm and wouldn’t you know it… closed.

That did it. I’m tired, hungry, and in dire need of a drink. Sadly I’ve had to call Mad & Dave to cancel yet again our weekend in Newcastle, we’re going to spend another weekend trawling Freedom, Nic Scali and the teak warehouse. Oh joy. By bus, even better.

I don’t want to complain but…

Our life in boxes

filles at 6:57 pm

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July 9, 2009

a sneak peak

The temporary arrangement

We’re living in this room at the moment while we only have a little hired furniture to get by. Our container has docked in Sydney, it’s undergoing inspection and fumigation (all those French germs) and we should have it in a week to 10 days. I can’t wait.

filles at 7:32 am

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July 8, 2009

Missed it…

I mean’t to show you this before we left Paris, but a few little things got in the way (like moving to the otherside of the world).

It was filmed on our street, rue Montorgeuil one afternoon, I didn’t see it, JD did…. only in Paris.

Make The Girl Dance "Baby Baby Baby" ( official video )
Uploaded by placeblancherec. – Explore more music videos.

filles at 9:12 am

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July 7, 2009


We’ve decided to start farming. We enrolled for a course last night at the WaterShed in Newtown, and learn’t all there is to know about worm farming. Looks like fun, we’re going to give it a go. See if they can munch their way through our bio scraps.

Start with worms, end with vines? who knows….

filles at 10:24 pm

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Fix it dAy

The phone is on, the internet is up and running, my computer is fixed and I’m wading through all the paperwork we’ve accumulated since arriving. It’s wet and cold outside, a perfect day for this kind of stuff – and wow, we’ve got a phone and internet access now… no more McDonalds. Thankfully.

filles at 1:36 am

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July 6, 2009

Shop till you drop

We’ve been doing lots of shopping. You’d think it would be fun, starting over, buying new carpets, blinds, shelfs etc etc. It’s not. At least not like you imagine. We spent the weekend in the car, driving up and down Parramatta Road and Victoria Road looking for beds, mattresses, bookshelves, carpets, cars and so-on.

After 2 days, we came home with a double mattress (it was urgent), a double bed-base is on order (delivery in Sept), and a shoe rack from Ikea. We’ve found some bookshelves, some storage shelves, a teak outside dining set, but we just haven’t been able to commit just yet, best to wait until all our furniture gets here and we make sure we all fit in

It’s hard going.

On a positive note, we met a nice lebanese couple last night – Jo & Dalida – who run the local pizza take-away. They’ve been in Australia for 3 years, they have 2 daughters, they speak french and they make good, reasonably priced pizzas 2 mins walk from home. Our first new friends in Erskineville. Dalida even promised to make Fattoush specially for Michelle….

filles at 2:48 am

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July 1, 2009

Winter sun

What a wonderful country. Yesterday, 1 July, middle of winter, I did 3 loads of washing, by the time the third load came out of the washing machine, the first load was completely dry. Hanging in the sun, in our backyard. It was 21 degrees, sunny, and lovely. I had all the doors and windows open in the house and I was wearing flip flops, a light long sleeve t.shirt and some linen summer pants (my wardrobe is still quite limited..)

I could get used to winters like these.

filles at 10:44 pm

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