Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tour of Duty: Intro

It's going to be massive. Bigger than Baryshnikov.

I've just got back from a trip to Vietnam and Thailand with Willis, so over the next few days I'll pull together a bit of a pictorial display of Willis and my 'Tour of Duty'.

I sent a few emails home whilst I was away, so apologies to my family who may have already heard some of these stories...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Can't sleep...think'n.

Confusion abounds tonight.

I just flew back into Australia from a 2-week tour of Vietnam and Thailand...both wonderous countries in their own unique ways...but more about that later this weekend.

Right now, I can't sleep. It's bloody-well 11.30pm, I've slept about 4 hours in the last 41, and I still can't get my mind to rest with my family, love, mates, career and musings of what fate has in store for me all bouncing around my head like a dusty old pinball machine on overdrive.

As Bob Dylan once sang, the times are indeed a'changin...

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.

Sure, the rest of the song was a bit of a period catch-cry for the disgruntled youth of the mid-1960's at the state of the US Administration and social establishment, and Dylan was probably likening the Administration to the water, but what-ev.

I kind of like this says to me that sometimes you just need to be decisive when the waters of opportunity start to rise up.

Whatever lay ahead, I hope I get absolutely drenched. The next few months is going to be a very interesting time...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My birthday - Part 2: "Checking into the green room"

Dee Why Beach, 6:20 am - 27 October 2007

Clare's big surprise for my birthday was an individual surf lesson with a Dee Why local surfer/businessman named Wayne. Wayne was an absolute character - the ultimate Aussie surfing archetype, like a sun-tipped set of energetic froth and bubble.

He educated us on the benefits of hydration, the expertise of his pro-surfer daughter, the need for stretching and reading the waves before a surf, the amazing skills of his pro-surfer daughter, the best stance and the mode of action when catching a wave, the prodigious technique his pro-surfer daughter holds, and some of the dangers in the surf world, including sharks, rips and cranky locals.

Did you know that until the 80's, Dee Why Beach was only able to be surfed at by invitation only?

Whilst I might take the piss a little about the warm-up, it was perfectly balanced. I learnt that surfing is all about patience and respect for mother nature - a very humbling experience!

As you can see from the photo above, it was a really great morning for surf. As some of you may know, my ass needs a fair push, so the waves were large enough to get a good ride on, but had good enough form and shape not to throw Clare and I around too much. Clare managed to get up a few times - the majority of which she had her eyes closed!!

I managed to get up onto one knee and my front leg most times, and standing two or three times. I 'wiped out' a couple of times, but enjoyed the experience. One of the people on the beach managed to get this photo of me after getting onto a particularly big wave:


Here's a few more pics of Clare and I after the session:

Totally tubular...

Do I have seaweed in my teeth?

Wayne, Clare and I, spotting some more tubes to shred...

Our beautiful breakfast...Clare's pancakes and my greaseman's feast - a very happy man!

My birthday - Part 1: "The morning"

Ok, my birthday has been and gone, and this post is now about as newsworthy as Keating overthrowing Hawke in '91 for the role of Captain Australia. But as the man once said, "this is the blog post we had to have".

All in all, I had an absolutely perfect weekend with friends and family, all rolled into one extravaganza!

I called my sister Cass in Ireland pretty much as soon as I woke up, unwrapping the first of my presents for the day. A cracker of a pressie, Cass gifted me Peter Fitzsimons' Great Australian Sports Champions, which is shaping up to be a very enjoyable and informative read.

Strangely though, I couldn't find myself in the index.

It was about 6am after I thumbed through the back of the book a few times, so I threw on my smugglers ready for a morning of 'tubular' action...

Friday, October 26, 2007


Firstly, my apologies for posting the poor language. I made it one of my rules when I started the blog that I would not use any profane language.

However, this time I had to make an exception.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Being creative with health policy

Before you read on, I can assure you that this isn't a hardcore post about Australian politics. It's all about the link between nutrition and technology, unwittingly being promoted by a bloke who may well become Australia's next Prime Minister...

As the political pontificating begins to take full flight, I am wondering why healthcare hasn't been of a bigger concern? So far, we've only heard a bitty from Tony Abbott yesterday about how he is going to give $400 to women who have had to undergo a mastectomy and require a prosthetic breast. In response, Labor offered their typical 'me too'.

Which leads me to this question:

If Kevin Rudd is instilled as PM, and delivers on his party's plan to provide Australia with a world class national broadband network, what possible benefit will the policy have on the state of the nation's health?? Is there any usefull crossover???

Perhaps the answer is in this YouTube video...(watch Rudd seated on the left)

Yep, K-Rudd will be able to 'wax lyrical' about tips like this - and others - to the kids of Australia at rapid speed!!!

It's my birthday in a four days

...and now it's started. I just received this package from my sister Cass and her boyfriend Cossie. As I mentioned in my thankyou email to them, the package is now sitting on my desk, teasing me like a hamburger just out of a fat kid's reach - I won't be able to open it until Saturday!

Saturday is looking to shape up as an absolute cracker, with an ex-CSU student pub crawl planned by Weens, spanning a number of pubs throughout the Surry Hills region.

By the way, a hefty reward for anyone willing to divulge some valuable intel on what Clare has planned for my birthday this Friday/Saturday.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's my birthday in a week

Just thought I'd let you know...

One for Angus

A few pics from when Clare and I decided to go for a walk down to Kiribilli for calamari, chips and beer.

Enjoying yet another gorgeous spring day, I couldn't help but notice a busload of Japanese school kids. Strangely, I began to feel this uncanny extra-sensory demand from my Burbery Yoda (who chooses not to blog, might I add) to go down and make relations.

But not the kind of relations Bill Clinton would promote - more like how a 40 year-old woman would mob Aerosmith for his photo, and in the same breath reminisce about good times gone by.

So this is me with Suki and 'Yoko' (I can't remember the second one's name).

They were great - language was a slight problem, but I ended up being a bit of a hit, being asked to pose for many, many more photos with some of the other 400 kids in their group.

They'll probably go home and tell their parents the story about how they got a photo with this weird Aussie guy who insisted they include bunny ears.

And this is an attempted art shot encompassing the best of the day (although Clare isn't in shot).

Friday, October 12, 2007

A day for yolks, folks!

What a time to celebrate! A day of perennial excitement, children across the world are salivating at the thought of omlettes, quiches and mayonaise.

Today, friends, is World Egg Day. A day of protein and nutritional benefit for all!

To celebrate, below are two photos of a poached egg-off Willis and I had last weekend. On the right-hand side of the page, you will find a poll...feel free to vote - left or right - which egg you'd most like to wake up to on a Sunday morning.

The eggs in full form.

Exposing the yolk.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Smashing a ton

Well, it's been emotional. This is my 100th blog post since Hotel Bell's inception back on 4 November 2006!!!!

In January of this year, I set up a Google Analytics account to track what content people are finding most appealing, which randoms are reading my blog and from which countries, as well as to immerse myself in a web-world I've never encountered, from a general education perspective.

In celebration of the 100th, I thought I'd take a stroll through some of the quirky, questionable and quixotic results from my Analytics account:

Basic stats (since 23 Jan 2007)

  • 2,166 visits from 660 different computer IPs
  • 4,289 pages viewed, averaging 1.98 pages viewed per visit
  • Visitors spend an average of 2 minutes and 35 seconds on the site
  • Most visits in a day - 32

Languages & countries (in order of usage)

  • English, Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Danish, Italian, French, Hungarian
  • Australia, UK, US, Ireland, China, Argentina, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, France, Singapore, Thailand, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Japan, Greece, Chile, Hungary, Romania, Brazil, Finland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Uruguay, Austria, Norway, Luxembourg, Peru, Switzerland, Slovakia, Belgium, Egypt, South Korea, Qatar, French Polynesia, Bulgaria and Puerto Rico.

Top 6 traffic sources

Key words/phrases people used in Google to find my blog

  • "Anthony Callea"
  • "Ben Harper"
  • "Only 8 transformers?"
  • "pria young" gay
  • "ready steady cook" "channel ten" veal
  • "rubber hot water bottle" -brand -stamp
  • "ship lovers society of victoria"
  • "slavic soul party"
  • "Australian beers named after reptiles"
  • "booty shak'n girls"
  • "contiki mykonos sex"
  • "how to pick the right transformer?"
  • "mr. bean throws a spanner in the works"

...and my favourite:

  • "cleaning bat faeces off cars"

I have always set out for Hotel Bell to be like a bi-weekly gift for my friends and family overseas, up the coast or around the corner - in the hope that they can have a bit of a chuckle for at least a couple of minutes of their day.

Looking forward to another 100 posts!

Our new flatmate - Dan

A couple of weeks ago we trialled a new flatmate named Dan. A funny story actually - we found him down on his luck and sitting out the front of our building, left to rot by his previous flatmates.

He passed the trial with flying colours and now resides in our living room. He's a really top bloke - always a cool customer, and whilst not being overly conversational, he's often the first to give you a nice coldy after work.

As the past few weekends have shown, he can also hold his piss remarkably well.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The life and times of SE Asia

What is bloody going on in SE Asia?!

In about 7 weeks, Willis & I will be flying into Ho Chi Minh city for a two-week tour of SE Asia. Despite the fact that we're no strangers to danger (Willis looks amazingly like Chuck Norris, and I like Mr T.), we've been wondering whether we should be raising the premiums on our life insurance policies. I'll explain:

28 September - Burma

No stranger to public uprisings over time, Burma has again seen violence as peaceful pro-democracy protesters are shot and Buddhist monasteries are raided by local security authorities. The SMH reports today on the latest in urban violence.

26 September - Vietnam
Bridge collapses over the Hau River, killing at least 43 people and injuring 87 others. Apparently the bridge is one of the busiest in the Mekong Delta. See this AP report for more information.

16 September - Thailand
Budget airline crashes into the island of Phuket, killing at least 89 and injuring many others. See this Daily Telegraph report written in the aftermath of the crash.

So, here's a possible game plan:
  • Avoid public pro-democracy uprisings
  • Take Vietnamese ferries wherever possible
  • Don't fly One-To-One
  • Get oneself another intra-pool swim-up barside cocktail

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sunny days, for Mike Bailey in this week's Mosman Daily

Check this letter to the editor out!

Cliche count: 5

And for the record, I haven't blacked out my name to keep filthy bully-boy Liberal sympathisers from knocking down my door - just thought it's not something I'd like to post on the internet...

So where to from here? Well, it's all about restoring the balance, so Willis has tasked me with getting another letter in the Mosman Daily equally taking the piss in support of Mike's main opponent Joe Hockey.

However, I'm most certainly not the only person in my family to be hitting the papers this month. My 88 year-old Nan was named best dressed lady at the 101st Manildra show a few weeks ago (her third crown, might I add), and was consequently photographed for inclusion in the Molong Express.

Anyway, I've spoken with the editor of the Molong Express and have arranged for a copy to be sent to me. I'll post it up here as soon as I receive it.

I'll keep you informed...

Name this fish

Some dude caught this fish off the jetty in Chowder Bay. A trip to Uzbekistan for anyone who can tell me what it is...

4 years with a shweetie

Let me tell you, my four years with Clare have most definitely NOT been a struggle. What a gorgeous lass Ms. Clare is - any woman who can put up with my shit for 1461 days must be a bit of alright.

Like most of our relationship (and to my eternal frustration), my plans to celebrate our four year anniversary were somewhat shifted into a state of sporadicity, with plans to stay in a hotel on the Central Coast dismissed by a renewed desire to stay on the South Coast. The secret plans for the South Coast were then squashed by a desire to stay west of the mountains, which were then changed by a preference to stay in the Blue Mountains.

In the end, I planned a bit of a breakfast, a visit to the zoo, then a romantic dinner in Manly.

What eventuated?

Clare slept in, I read the paper. We later shared a wonderful breakfast at the new Ripples at Chowder Bay, a pash on the beach, then we came home for a sleep. We're getting old, you know.

To complete the day of romance, I ended up going to watch the Western Rams play the Sydney Fleet in the ARC across the road at North Sydney Oval with a good mate from Uni, whilst Clare went to work.

And you know what? It was perfect.

Whilst it all didn't go to plan, it was a wonderful which I've been telling people about all week!

Here's a few pictures for everyone who's scanned over the above text and searching for a bit of pictorial colour:

Having fun in the sun @ Chowder Bay...check out the colours of the water and contrast as the jetty stretches out to the harbour!

Clare and I get a bit of shade - note the cafe we visited in the background and then Vaucluse further out into the distance. Beautiful!

...and just before some pooch humped my leg.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blockbuster referee

So the season ends for one of the season's best performers - here's a mini-movie I made to mark the occasion...

Sydney University beat Norths 16-3 with Mr Willis having a very strong end to the season.

PR, darling

One of the biggest stereotypes of my profession is that I wear Versace and attend numerous launches, openings or A-list after-parties. After nearly 2 years in the industry, I finally got an invite for myself and a partner to live the stereotype and attend the opening of a new Strike Bowling Bar down in King Street Wharf.

I thought considering it was his birthday the day before, I'd ask my good mate Jonnie to come along to knock over the odd pin and schooner.

There was free pool, free drinks and finger food, a DJ, disco-style bowling and a whole host of corporate leaches like myself.

But the highlight of the night? Kicking back with a mate I seldom see enough of - gold.

It's kind of like doing the Paso Doble, only with a 6kg piece of polished stone.

Some strong form on the evening, George Frilingos will be shitting himself if Jonnie goes pro.

Happy birthday Amelia!

So work's been holding me by the grundle for a while now - frequent blogging has been forced to take a back seat. This is why I'm posting about Amelia's birthday 14 days after the event.

My sister Amelia turned 22 on the 2nd of September - Clare and I went to meet her at her place, offload some presents, take her out for lunch in Leichardt and then get on the piss at the Harbourview Hotel in the Rocks.

Note my brilliant wrapping skills in the two photos on the right:
  • The left-over wrapping paper with a footy tape bow. Exquisite.
  • Recycling the previous morning's Sydney Morning Herald.
Here's a few more pictures from the day:

The Wish top we got Meils. Apparently she likes the brand, according to my #1 partner in crime.

The matching platter and salad bowl with the same flower that blooms at the time of Amelia's birthday.

Some midget who tried to get the party started early with a few lines of coke.

The Harbourview Hotel! Note the gorgeous day and bridge in the background.

Two hotties at the pub.

Two more hotties.
NB: Amelia is wearing heals...that's why I resemble Bilbo Baggins.

Happy birthday babe - hope you had a wonderful day...x

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I adora, brunch by Laura

Handmade pastries in the foreground, Laura works hard to serve up one of the most delectable brunches of 2007!

A couple of weekends ago, Laura invited a few people around to her gorgeous Mosman apartment for a spot of brunch.

We were treated to a number of wonderful dishes - freshly cut fruit salad (grapefruit, orange and strawberry); blueberry pancakes with fresh mango and yoghurt; an assortment of fruit and chocolate pastries; scrambled egg and bacon wraps; garlic and rosemary mushrooms with chorizo; roasted hashbrowns; and some smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill bagels, courtesy of Weens.


Here's a few more pics of the food:

Weens' bagels...note the fresh dill.

The colour! Nothing signals the start of spring more than the blend of some freshly cut fruit.

Enough to feed an Ethiopian tribe.

More shots of the fruit salad, as well as the side of eschalots to accompany the egg and bacon wraps.

Thanks again to Laura for putting on an amazing feast! Brilliant company and an absolutely stellar menu!

Surprise!! (The flowers...)

...and here is a picture of the beautiful flowers that Clare gave me - starting to open up and look to be really great quality.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I just got flowers at work from my gorgeous girlfriend!!!

Today marks four years since we first met on that brisk September Sunday morning.

As Paff would say, "I love, love".

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sunny days, at Mike Bailey's trivia fundraiser

Mike Bailey and Senator John Faulkner give me the inside word on the best strip clubs to visit whilst in the US.

Willis and I went down to our local to take part in our first ever political party fundraiser. Mike Bailey - former ABC TV weather man, full-time amateur comedian, and now Labor candidate for the Federal seat of North Sydney - was having a bit of a trivia night.

I've blogged about Mike's race to Canberra before and with an election likely for late November, Mike needs all the support he can get (we're on a first name basis now by the way). There were a heap of people there - 38 tables in fact - a mixture of old stodgy Labor hardcores, and new-wave filthy socialist university arts students. And Willis & I. He's stodgy and I'm in the filthy socialist camp.

Willis and I settled into a few schooners, introducing ourselves to our table - a trivia master, a chemist, a man with anger-management problems, his wife, a super-intelligent woman who thought she was playing 'Fast Money' all night and her unassuming husband who secretly wanted to pants Ricky Ponting.

Highlights include:
  • Anger-management constantly putting his wife and others in their place
  • Anger-management's wife subsequently getting drunk to deal with her husband's shit
  • Anger-management's comments to Willis and I that we needed to start pulling our weight
  • Our Latin team name - 'Cogitamus', meaning "we are thinking"
  • Our conversation with Senator John Faulkner after the proceedings - he used the words "bastards", "crooks", "criminals" and "the worst kinds of humans" when referring to the current government, then told us encouragingly to "keep up the struggle"
  • Finding out that Mike Bailey's son is named Mike Bailey
  • Willis adopting the pseudonym 'Ric Biggs', even if only for a short while
  • Mid-week beers with Willis, after a particularly difficult day
Our table was extremely competitive, leading for most of the night, only to come second to Table 27 in the final round. At the height of the frustration, two members from my table staged a protest with Senator Faulkner over when the most recent King of England was crowned. Apparently he was announced King in 1936, but was crowned the following year...contentious stuff. Here's a video of the incident:

I've just sent off a friend request to Joe Hockey on Facebook, asking whether he'll be holding any fundraising evenings as part of his campaign. Willis and I will also be looking to attend an event from each of the different candidates for our electorate in the lead-up to the election.

The wonders of capitalist democracy!