Wednesday, 10 January 2018

[ proof of age ]

At the end of seventeenth year of the twenty-first century, we all looked back and reflected, musing on the events of the weeks and months past, on the various situations and circumstances, the predicaments and adventures, wondering what the future held for us all.

Mainly however, we are now taking a long look at the year past, and wondering if possibly we could have asked one simple question a wee bit earlier in the piece. A question that may have avoided some of the larger disasters. A question most other 17 year olds get asked all the time...

Can I see some ID please?

Perhaps if we had been a little more circumspect in our discernment, 2017 may have been less of a clusterfuck. It may have been slightly more dignified, however besmirched by infamy it had been.

To be fair, we do say this every few years when the ridiculousness gets particularly out of hand. That being said, and seeing as the twenty-first century is now entering adulthood, drinking age, and legal status, perhaps some of our more appalling habits could fall by the wayside? Just a suggestion...


I'd like to start with political inanity. Whether it's Turnbull and Shorten, or Trump and, well, anyone, I think we are all pretty over it. Gone are the days of meaningful discussion, in 2017 we focused on unsatisfactory phone calls, lumps of coal, anyone and everyone's citizenship, and pollies being liars (was pretty sure that was in the job description, to be honest...).

Sadly, while we were mindlessly distracted by the above, we somehow swept past Larissa Waters being the first woman to breastfeed in parliament, the same-sex marriage plebiscite (which despite having a decent run-up, seemed to end rather anti-climatically), and our two new favourite villains; Michaela Cash and Sam Dastayari. 

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I haven't had my brain this mushed since Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot spent the better part of 16 months saying the words 'carbon tax' without anyone actually being sure what they were on about. 

Please, if there's any chance our pollies could talk less rubbish and more sense this year, I'm sure the Australian people would be eternally grateful. Sorry America, can't help you with Trump though...


The next thing on my list is Twitter. It's asking a lot of anyone to keep the verbal diarrhoea to a minimum, especially when you have an open platform to spew forth to your hearts' content, but honestly, show a little restraint already.

That's right, I'm looking at you, Donald Trump. Like a small child, you say anything and everything that's on your mind. And not content to leave it at that, you subject the entire world to your drivel.

Between telling Hilary Clinton and Theresa May what to do, taunting Kim Jong-un, and trying to hide your bromance with Russia, I repeat one of my earlier statements; there is an actual clown in the White House and it's all downhill from here.

Should you think this sort of behaviour is restricted to old, white, over-privileged, under-educated, orange twits, there is a runner-up prize for best public foot-in-mouth moment. Take a bow, Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

A well-educated young Muslim woman, with some views I agree with and certainly enjoy hearing her opinion on, she unfortunately joined the ranks of people who need to have their ID checked and their parents called, with this little pearler on ANZAC Day;

It matters not if you agree or disagree, everyone is welcome to their opinion. Perhaps however, being in the public eye and supposedly an example to young people, one might consider appropriate mediums and timing? Just a suggestion.


My partner plays video games. His hand/eye co-ordination is amazing, and he plays with his dad and brother online. It's rather sweet because they live in different areas but get to spend some quality lads time together. I don't really get into it much myself, but all the games they play appear to have some serious strategy involved, problems to solve, group challenges, and tests of your lateral thinking.

So, for the love of the gods, can someone explain to me why PokemonGO is still a thing?! 

Why am I still having grown adults walk into me in the street, or asking me to move my coffee out of the way of the poliwag or mudkip nearby (I did research ok? And no, I didn't enjoy it). 

I will *give* John Hanke my firstborn's fine-motor skills if he just invents something else. Anything else. As long as it's indoors and doesn't have humans acting like lemmings. 


We survived the cronut, the duffin, the dagel, and coffee receptacles being anything except actual cups (including waffle cones and avocados). We had charcoal lattes, taco/pie/candy pizzas, and pickles on cupcakes. We got over sushi burritos, frose, and trying to stack literally anything into a mason jar and calling it a meal. 

How. The Actual. HECK. Are we still eating unicorn food then? Sigh.

Recently, I discovered that Cadbury's Roses had subtly changed their wrappers, as well a few flavours. Ok, ok, I thought, be cool. It can't be that bad. And it wasn't. As much as the Brits went nuts, changing the twisty wrapper and adding Salted Caramel as a flavour felt like a subtle, gentle nudge into evolving confectionery vices. I'm ok with this, I can roll with this.

This is progress. We all have to live with it, and hopefully it's mainly for the better.

Creating something with colours and flavours not found in nature is not. Destroying everything by adding colours and flavours not found in nature is worse.

From Gaytimes to milkshakes, to lattes and toast (don't ask), everything can now be slathered in rainbows and sprinkled with sparkles. Bagels and burgers, soups and sushi (seriously, you really don't want to know).

I'm begging you; leave the unicorn craze to dress ups and dolls, headbands and party themes. If you can't identify it - especially though a rainbow haze - you shouldn't be eating it. 


It's hard to pick a final gripe for 2017. Between beg-packing and looking at your phone while walking, anti-vaccination and charging for wifi, I kind of lost the will, I really did. So much stupidity, so many people doing it.

Then I recalled a few great things that there could probably be more of in 2018...


Bravery and compassion for our fellow humans
A 30 year old man risked his own life to save others in a horrifying mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Using social media for a laugh and making it a friendlier place
Carter Wilkerson and an epic chicken nugget challenge that is unlikely to be repeated.

Caring for our furry friends as well as our fellow humans
Hurricane Harvey didn't just devastate human lives, it took away others' homes too.

Women being badass and breaking records
That sentence says it all.


There it is folks; things to avoid and things to advance. Surely if we work together, we can lower the dumb and up the maturity. After all, we are the product of 4 billion years of evolution; perhaps we might demonstrate it...

And if not, me and rest of the grown ups are grounding you until you can act your age. 


Thursday, 4 January 2018

[ I'm dreaming of a humidity-free January ]

Every year it insinuates itself quietly into our lives over the holiday season. It sneaks under our doorways, into our bedrooms, and under our sheets. It curls around our backs, sinking into our skin, until we're sticky and lightheaded, and desperate for a cool shower - domestic or divine, it matters not.

Oh yes, the humidity is back, and oh boy, is it a stinker.


There are those who love this weather. The days of bright sunshine and long evenings, tanning themselves on the beach and in parks with every spare moment they have. And to be fair, there are some lovely things about Summer in Sydney.

Mangoes and cherries. The former are always going to be cheaper than the latter, but worth a punnet at this time of the year (if you can find one under $10!). In direct contrast to their price, mangoes are at their best when they are lowest in price; if you can hold out until they hit the $2-$2.50 mark, you're sure a winner of the Kensington Pride variety.

Cocktails. Fruity concoctions full of berries and syrup, lime and mint, or even an indulgent margarita stuffed with cucumbers and green chilli. They taste fresher during the holidays because they are; all the best ingredients are in season and ready to be muddled to your delight.

Sunsets. Though not a fan of daylight savings, I always appreciate a beautiful sunset, and Sydney certainly puts on a show during the warmer months; hues of pink, lavender, peach, and violet grace our skies and linger over the landscape, burnishing everything in glimmering light. Lovely.


These wonderful things aside - January is steamy and close, and seems to go on for simply ages, much longer than the actual 31 days. All things being equal then, I thought I'd get together a shortlist of places to escape to, even briefly, where you can avoid the Summer entirely. Or at least pretend it's not the manky part. 


Never having been here myself, I can only suggest the wonders on offer and surmise the gloriousness from afar. This option is also only available to those with ridiculous amounts of disposable income, family to bunk with, or both. 

That being said, having those things, I'd recommend running for the snow-tipped hills as fast as your passport can carry you. Whether you know a little or a lot (or nothing at all!) about the UK, pick a spot and drop in for a week or so; York, Bath, Cornwall, Sheffield, Dorset, Pembrokeshire. 

The UK's hottest spot is along the Cornish coast, the Isles of Scilly, where the highest temperature recorded was 27.8 degrees. At this time of year, the northern hemisphere is in their Winter however, so even on a day with humidity levels at 81%, the temperature will only hover between 10 and 12 degrees. 

See how much the savings account has in reserve and book a year in advance!

New Zealand

Our cousins across the pond tend to get similar temperatures to us, but with a few major differences. The first, being that as a much smaller island and not crossing many latitudes, NZ temperatures don't vary too much. You'll still find things a touch cooler in the south than the north, but not much. Also, an occasional polar wind can cross through, which means relief from humidity is a lot more frequent. 

 After taking a long dip, as my tour guide once said, NZ popped up from beneath the ocean millions of years ago, while the greater part remains beneath the Pacific Ocean. What this means today is that there are no natural predators, and though certainly a decent variety of mosquitoes, very few bite humans. 

In terms of a break from the hot weather, New Zealand may not seem too different from Oz. But if you're a fan of Summer - just not humidity - a quick trip across the water, where you can enjoy the warmer climate without wanting to faint, might be in order. 

And the best part? A return ticket to NZ is still cheaper than flying to Perth. 


Ah, Tasmania. If you're not keen on leaving the homeland, but still desperate for some relief, look no further than south of the border.

Tassie is another island but gets even more benefits in terms of cooler weather than NZ. With common cold fronts from the Southern Ocean, even a Summer day is more comfortable than actually hot.

With wonderful heritage architecture and a foodie heaven (go here or here - trust me), Hobart offers a beautiful spot to drop into and doze through the stickier season, while a trip through to the Central Plateau will have you gazing on magnificent scenery, and enjoying temperatures barely rising above 25 degrees.

Flights to Tasmania are cheap and go often, as well as tours that will take you on air conditioned buses to a variety of stops.

Another one to book in advance, but still affordable if you forget how soggy Sydney gets in the new year.

Clareville, NSW

Can't afford the time or money to get out of the city for too long? No problem. Let me suggest the Northern Beaches of NSW.

Not much of a beach person since childhood, I've since discovered the occasional visit to see the great blue expanse a bit of a balm to a sweltering day. Even a mini break or a weekend jaunt seems to settle the simmering for a while.

Clareville sits on the inner coastline of the northern beaches, right after Newport and just before Palm Beach. A quiet little place, with a quirky suburbia of dips and hills, you can see the water from most places you go.

Pack a towel, sunscreen, swimmers, a good book, and you're sorted. The beaches are just over an hour north of Sydney, so you can drive if you like, but take transport; time for a quick nap in the air con.

Botanic Gardens, Sydney CBD

This is the option if you've left everything to the last minute, funds or no funds. You've suddenly got back to work in the first weeks of January and realised the only thing keeping you sane is 8 hours solid of arctic air con, and wishing - yet again - that you'd booked some leave, even just a few days.

Never fear, there is relief even for those of us who work through. Sydney's Botanic Gardens are the one of our proudest and one of the world's most important botanic institutions in the world. They are open every day and access is free.

Though a little crowded in the holidays, there are still spots you can curl up under a shady tree and watch the Harbour on your lunch break. Surrounded by lush vegetation, a salty breeze, and the background sounds of the city, you can pretend you're in another world. Even if it's only for a lunch break.


With these options in mind, hold strong my friends, we will yet make it through another sticky Sydney Summer, by the will of our ceiling fans and possibly a brief escape!