Day 209 – Flight and Flames

Travel is a Zen-like state now.
I realised as I was walking to the gate in Sydney today that I’ve got my routine so well practiced now that I’m not even thinking about travel anymore. I just listen to my podcast or read my book and go through the motions on auto-pilot.

Clearly I’ve arrived at station unconscious-competence.
Or maybe conscious-unconscious-competence? … How meta can I get?

I pack my bag so that I can easily get to my ticket and booking papers. I keep all my electronics within easy reach for the X-Ray scanner. I sit at the gate so that I can easily get close to the front of the check-in-line when they call the tickets.

On Virgin, I usually book towards the back of the plane. I saw a row with only the window-seat taken one row from the back. By taking the aisle seat I was almost certain to have a free spot next to me, unless the plane ends up fully booked. Tip: single travellers rarely pick a middle seat between two full spots if they have any other options left.

By getting to the front of the queue I have an excellent chance of getting my luggage right over my head. Which isn’t important for anything other than being the first person off the plane at the other end. Tip: this only works if you know the airline is likely to use the rear exit. Also… only if you don’t have checked luggage, otherwise you’ll be waiting at the carousel anyway.

Every step of my journey is a well-practiced juggling routine.

There is something terrifyingly beautiful about bushfire.

I’d seen it on TV and video before of course. But at the tail-end of this trip I was surprised by an in-person view of a grass fire creeping over the hills. As we were coming in for the landing it still looked very cloudy around the hills of northern Melbourne. It looked like fog, so I didn’t think anything else of it.

But then it became clear the fog was attached to tendrils that were attached to fire.

On the one hand I was sympathising with anyone down there near any of the fires. On the other hand I was wishing my flight was a few hours later, because the thin fire-caterpillars in the grass would have looked all the better for it. Fire is beautifully terrifying.

Day 95 – Party near the Flames

Today we partied.

Tomorrow I will do an extensive photo-rapportage.

I was the designated photographer for Margret’s 60th. Which she had 4 months ago… we had 3 tries at setting up the party, and events kept getting in the way each time. Which goes partway to explaining why mere bushfires could not deter us from celebrating this time around.

The theme for the party was the 50s; she has an affinity with the decade. So music playlists were constructed with music from the decade. Candy and toys were sourced on eBay. And everybody had to make an attempt at looking the period as well.

Tomorrow there will be evidence of how much effort (read: gel) I had to bring to bear on the task of slicking my hair down. It has a mind of its own, and I had to negotiate with it over the direction we were going to be taking.

I shot over 800 pictures, so tomorrow will be about sorting, collating and deleting all the inferior ones.

Tomorrow’s post will be the interesting one.

Right now… I get to have a shower, and then go sleep in the caravan on the driveway, because space in the house is limited due to some refugees from the fires. It has been an interesting, entertaining and worthwhile day.

But also exhausting. Again.

Also, I don’t care about all the passive voice in this post. Stuff it!

Day 23 – Rips and Conflagrations

We had plans to go to dinner with the development managers tonight to a chef-teaching-institute, but due to a variety of reasons that ended up falling through. Instead a few of us went for a wander across and along the river. We compared the options along the riverbank; first stop was too pricy, second stop not too inspiring, third stop had three options and proved juuuuust right.

We walked up into the restaurant to get seating, and noticed the specials menu. We read the specials menu. We simply had to eat at this place. For one thing, we had to find out what “Pork Rips” taste like… and what part of the animal they actually might be.

Pork Rips
Pork Rips

And as it turns out the “Pork Rip” is the boniest part of the piggy. And the tastiest part in this case as well.

The ribs weren’t so well done that the meat fell off as soon as I looked at it, but it wasn’t very far off that mark. I had been given a fork and knife, but I don’t believe I did much by the way of cutting. Granted, the knife might not have been sharp enough for anything but mashing, but details, details…

We had some chips and salad for shared sides and that worked out very well.

As in, with room to spare for dessert.

Queue jokes from my friends with regards to my relationship to dessert… it’s okay… I’ll wait right here.

I ended up going for a straightforward tiramisu myself, and Stephen picked something that I don’t believe any of us could have pronounced. I trust it was good because it all disappeared. Hamish couldn’t make up his mind. Hamish opted to request an option that was not on the menu.

Daring move.

But a successful one in this case. He requested half of one dessert as the base with added butterscotch and ice cream from one of the other options. Had I realised that requesting customised desserts was an option at restaurants I would have long-since explored this option in-depth. I shall have to make it a standard part of my dining repertoire and see how far I can take it before the staff objects. I can see an entertaining series of escalating experiments in my future.

Torches along the River
Torches along the River

On a side-note, I have also figured out what’s been causing all this climate change we’ve been hearing so much about. As it turns out Melbourne has decided they have so much natural gas that just to show off they better burn blasts of it along the riverside.

There is a series of torches set up that every hour on the hour go through some random/pre-programmed pattern of fiery blasts. Starting with small gusts of flame to get warmed up…

Mid-summer Heat in Winter
Mid-summer Heat in Winter

Escalating to blasts that made me feel hot enough on my face that it could have been the middle of a summery day rather than the middle of a wintery night. It’s quite spectacular,… and also every-so-slightly indulgent.