So it’s Sunday night, 20th February. My bag is packed, and I’m venturing on a road trip with Helena and Bud (who is actually quite a big deal!). I meet Simon and Sheba in Newtown, who are doing the first leg of the roadtrip with us.
Simon is big, bald, has a deliciously friendly face and an awesome sense of humour. Unfortunately, meeting him Sunday night, I am still sans-sense-of-humour, in fact, I am without any social grace whatsoever – which is quite unusual for me. Every time Helena asks if I’m ok, I’m willing her to stop asking with my eyes because if I answer I will cry. So naturally, these people who have so kindly offered to drive me 4 hours north of Sydney, think I’m a little…. I think Simon later referred to it as…. ‘poopy’. Fair assumption.
|Di and Daryl|
We arrive in Forster, Green Point, at about 1am, where our hosts for the next few days, Di and Daryl (kiwis, married 20 years, professional stilt walkers/circus/poi/market traders), await us, with wine, cheese & biscuits. I receive huge warm hugs from them both, and am immediately reminded of a trip I took with mum when I was about 10 to Chard, Dorset. The house, and the occupants’, had that same calm, positive, grounding energy. Feeling better already. Simon and Sheba turned in. So did Buddles and Daryl (not together I hasten to add!), leaving me, Helena and Di.
Well what a screaming laugh we did have. Us three girls got through all 4 bottles of wine, then decided to go for a skinny-dip in the lake at the bottom of the garden. This lake is huge. Six times the size of Sydney harbour I am reliably informed by Di. And in this lake, I witness for the very first time, the natural wonder that is bioluminescent phosphorescent marine life. It looks like sparkling glitter in the dark depths of the water. With every sweeping movement of a limb, a wave of the starlike flecks sparkle and twinkle, surrounding the moving limb in the most phenomenal glow. Awesome [in the tradiitonal sense]. It blew my mind.
Somehow , after I confiscated yet another bottle of wine, I made it into bed at 6.30am.
We woke 1pmish on Tuesday to a delicious ‘breakfast’ Di had made. We packed the esky with wine and bubbly and went down to the beautiful secret magical hidden beach where we swam in the sea and Di taught me some new hoop tricks.
|Hooping. Hooping. Hooping Hooping.|
|Hooping. Hooping. Hooping Hooping.|
After a booze and food run by me and Helena, we settled in to a night in the garden playing the famous person rizla game. I won (I was Obama. Easy!). With every hour that past, I felt more and more myself again.
A more reasonable night allowed us to wake at the more respectable hour of 10am. We started the day with some guided yoga courtesy of Sheba.
At some point during the morning, news broke of an Earthquake in Christchurch – where both Di and Daryl are from. Many tears, and frantic phone-calls later, once most loved ones had been accounted for, we had a big breakfast together where we gave thanks and sent prayers.
We packed the van and cars ready for a BBQ down at the smokie across the lake. Somehow leaving the house allowed all of us, including D&D, to put the worry and heartbreak out of our minds and enjoy the day.
|Me on the boat, enjoying the afternoon sun.|
Di took Me, Sheba, Bud and H on the boat whilst the boys went ahead in the van to set up. What a fantastic time. Di’s boat skills are amazing. We saw beautiful black swans and huge flocks of pelicans. We eventually rocked up at the site where an evening of good food, good company, lovely locals, kids, hoops, football, fire ensued. I even tried my first fresh oyster. Not a fan. I retreated to the bed in Di and Daryl’s van (which was there home for a very long time), and fell into a beautiful sleep listening to the lapping water and good friends sharing good times. Most soothing!
I barely woke up when they packed up the van and drove the 10 meters home.
|Sheba, Simon, Di, Me, Daryl, Bud, Helena.|
We woke Wednesday and had a very quiet, chilled, booze-free day. We had a delicious lunch at the sundowner, and after a lovely meal together, we retired early ready for our next leg of the trip – to Byron! Di and Daryl kindly lent us their car, and Sheba and Simon headed back to Sydney.
|Helena not a fan of the new MFL|
Helena did some top-notch driving, and we made it into Byron about 5pm, where we checked into the Arts Factory Lodge. (bud had a gig at the adjoining Buddha Bar). The two girls who were due to meet us there were unfortunately ill, so couldn’t make it. But the cheeky bastards at AFL charged Helena for the two beds. So it is henceforth called the Money Factory Lodge. Helena, like Simon (Pilot), has been a fan of the AFL since the 90’s, and was heartbroken to see that their laid-back, customer friendly attitude had taken such a turn since being taken over by the largest Australian backpacker company, Nomads. Realising we were with the UK legend, international DJ Big Bud, who was playing at the venue, didn’t encourage any leniency. Very mean indeed.
The venue was unusually quiet, which was a shame. But we did get free booze and food being Bud’s roadies/groupies, which was a nice touch. And we spent a lovely evening with Bud’s old friend Mischa, a German guy who visited Byron in 1996 for a 6 month holiday….and never left.
|A Day at the Beach - Byron Bay|
|Me leaving the Arts Factory with my pretentious suitcase!|
The following morning we went to the beach, before saying farewell to Byron and heading north. We stopped off at Mullumbimby, which is the finniest place I have ever visited. Full of crazies, hippies, vegan food shops and nut jobs. I loved it. Made great friends; whilst getting a smoothie from a café, a guy wearing lipstick informed me ‘the enlightened one will provide smoothies for us’ and that ‘the vegetables felt no pain because they have been blessed by the enlightened one’. He was lovely.
We headed north via Nerrang, to visit Helena’s two nephews who were a pleasure, and then via Carrara, to drop into Viv and Pauls to collect my bag that Wendy had so kindly fixed and sent to me. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Viv, El or Nic, but it was such a delight to see Paul and Mojo. However briefly.
We finally arrived at Helena’s sisters house, an hour out of Brisbane. Had a fantastic night. Debbie has 4 kids, 11-19, they were all lovely. We stayed up drinking and chatting. Lovely stuff. Woke Saturday morning and after some brekkie, headed to The Valley, Brisbane, for Bud’s final gig.
|He's actually quite a big deal you know.|
The venue was superb, the gig was amazing. Danced, ate, laughed, just generally really enjoyed myself. Getting quite into the Drum and Bass Malarkey!
Helena heroically drove through the night back to Forster (an 8 hour drive). Having driven for 6 hours, strictly sticking to the speed limit and without rest, we pulled in to a layby for a strecth and a wee. When we rejoined the highway, there was a car quite close behind us so she put her foot down to gain her distance so we could settle back into the long slog. Wrong move. It was a cop car that she had accelerated away from. Which pulled her, booked her, gave her 3 points and a fine. I really felt like the cop didn’t want to, he seemed like a nice guy, but I guess shit happens.
We pulled into Di and Daryl’s at 5.30am. After 5 hours sleep, we woke, helped D&D clean the house in anticipation of Di’s parents arrival. Then drove to Newcastle, where H and Bud, Me and Daryl got a bus (the ONE bloody time you want to get a train into Sydney and its replacement bloody bus service!), into Sydney. Daryl was flying to Christchurch to help his parents, and me Bud and H were going home.
We went to the warehouse that Bud stays in and drank gin. Monday I cleaned the bathrooms which felt really good (even better because I am now the paid cleaner and really needed the money!), then went to Bud’s last supper.
This was held in a warehouse of his good friends (who I feel are now good friends of mine). They cooked amazing dinner, we drank heaps of wine, we chatted and danced. Alex, who lives in the warehouse, gave a lovely farewell speech in the form of a limerick complete with Irish accent. It all felt very lovely, and yet very sad that a new, good friend was flying back to blighty, having spent every day for over a week with us.
|The amazing food they put on. LtoR: Simon, Bex, José and Lu.|
Tuesday Bud cooked us a delicious omelette, before H took him to the airport. A very similar story to what I experienced the week before.
To cheer her, and us, up, me and her housemate/best-friend/lover Belinda, got lots of wine, and whisky. The only thing to do in a time of need. Thiago, Belinda’s chap, came home to find three drunk girls, and he did the only thing there is to do for drunk girls – ordered pizza.
Wednesday I walked to Newtown for tea, did chores, cooked a lasagne. Thursday Belinda took me into Sydney central for some shopping. Got home around 3pm, then the three of us did some exercise in the park. Helena and I headed out to a DnB night on Oxford St, which was awesome. Saw all the lovely warehouse friends, but there was a Bud shaped hole. :(
|Doesn't really need a caption, does it?|
Woke feeling a tad hungover today, so cleaned and walked and went to the pre mardi gras poly-picnic. The march is tomorrow – how very exciting! I feel it may put London and Brighton to shame! Especially as this time i'm IN the parade. Exhibitionist that I am, actually marching with our float in the Syndey Mardi Gras really appeals to my narcissistic side. It's one of the most exciting prospects of my trip to date! Now... to try and find an outfit. I have less than 24 hours and I have decided I want to wear a Tuxedo. Hmmmm....
I will let you know how it goes!
|Don't know the name of this weird building.... HA! Look where I am!!!|