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Archive for June, 2010

When you’re on a holiday
You can’t find the words to say
All the things that come to you
And I wanna feel it too

On an island in the sun
We’ll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can’t control my brain

When you’re on a golden sea
You don’t need no memory
Just a place to call your own
As we drift into the zone

On an island in the sun
We’ll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can’t control my brain

We’ll run away together
We’ll spend some time forever
We’ll never feel bad anymore

On an island in the sun
We’ll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can’t control my brain

We’ll run away together
We’ll spend some time forever
We’ll never feel bad anymore

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Right now it is around two in the afternoon, Mrs B and I are sitting in eFiftyFive, for the third time in three days, kicking back, chilling out, sipping coffee and lazing with some groovy beats.  This place has been one of two unexpected surprise ‘finds’ on our three day adventure to the city.

It all started on Monday morning when we jumped on a train and headed into the big city.  We only had loose plans as to what we wanted to do.  We didn’t want to make any definite plans as the whole goal was to cruise around and just do whatever we felt like.  After arriving in the city we checked into the Formule 1 hotel on Elizabeth Street.  For $79 per night this hotel is right in the middle of the city and walking distance to everything – Fed Square, free trams, free buses and a myriad cool cafes, pubs and hang out spots.

We dumped our bags and proceeded to wander the streets like wide eyed little kids.  There is so much to see and do in Melbourne city, it is an overwhelming feeling taking in all the sights, smells and action as you make your way through the crowds in the general direction of where you want to go.  We took in a few laneways like DeGraves Street and CentrePlace, stopping for a nice cheap coffee (large $3) at Grind.  After quick rest at the hotel, we walked up to Federation Square to the place we had picked for dinner – Chinotto Cafe.  The cafe forms part of the border of the square and is right at the top of the steps down to BMW Edge.  We sat outside and enjoyed woodfired pizza with our James Squire Ales and watched the world go by.  Then we had the first of our two unexpected surprises….

While paying for dinner, I heard a familiar rhythmic beat resonating through the floor.  I looked out the back window of the cafe which offers a floor to ceiling view of the BMW Edge events hall and there on stage, to my surprise was a group of Japanese taiko drummers!  Hearing taiko live is an experience that is out of this world.  The beat vibrates through the very core of your being and really is something special.  We went down to the entrance to the Edge and there was no-one at the door checking for tickets and stuff like that so we walked right in.  We took a sweet spot right above and to one side of the stage.  When the taiko session finished, there was a couple of speeches from people and from this we learned that we had stumbled across one of the celebrations of the Japanese-Turkish Friendship week.  This all comes from and event 120 years ago when a Turkish boat wrecked off the Japanese coast at a cost of 600 lives.  The Japanese came to the rescue and pulled just under 70 sailors from the water.  Such an honourable tradition.  Following the speeches was the Turkish display which was also totally mesmerising.  I can’t remember the name of the type of dance they were doing, but it was simply beautiful.  What a treat to come across this by accident!

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in DeGraves Street and got a late night coffee at The Quarter.  Such lovely friendly staff, happy to make us feel at home.  Then with heavy eyes we crashed at the hotel.

Day two dawned with clear blue skies.  What shall we do? Was the question on our lips.  Time to do some free stuff was the answer.  We walked to Flinders Street and browsed through Flinders Books while we waited for the City Circle tram to arrive.  This is a free tram that goes around the city making regular stops at all the well known locations.  We got off at Docklands, but it was a couple of stops earlier than we wanted, so we got on the next tram and carried on the circle.  We decided to move on past Docklands on go on up to the Carlton Gardens, the Exhibition Centre and the Melbourne Museum.  All three of these were totally packed with a million giggling laughing mingling asian students so we beat a hasty retreat back to the tram and started scoping out a place to have a light lunch.

We ended up at Pie Face chowing on a seriously delicious minestrone followed by bacon, egg and cheese pie.  Very yum!  With full bellies, our thoughts turned to dinner (already? I hear you say).  We thought we would suss out a place early so that we could just wander in to it later.  We both felt like asian food so headed up the hill to Chinatown.  We were in between the lunch and dinner service times, so our plan to use how full the places were as a gauge of how good they were fell a bit flat.  We created a short list and later that night ended up at Meiji Cafe, a Japanese spot on Little Bourke Street.  The food was great AS WAS THE SAKE!!  We haven’t had sake for ages, and we finished our jug with haste.  With the world spinning in a sake induced haze we wandered in the direction of the hotel for bed.

Before we got there however, we went back to a little place on Elizabeth Street called eFiftyFive.  We shot in here earlier in the day to have a coffee after going to Pie Face and instantly fell in love and promised to come back after dinner.  This place is a chilled out internet cafe / bar with funky furniture, cool tunes and really laid back staff.  I mean really laid back staff, cruisy as, friendly as.  They greet you like you are family that come every day, make you feel welcome and keep an attentive eye on you, but not to the point of being annoying.  This is a very special place where they have a sweet balance of service, food, drink and music.  Very cool.  We stayed until very late sipping bacardi and cokes listening to the dub riddims of DJ Macc.

Today signaled the last day of our break.  We spent the morning going on another tour of the city, this time on the Free Tour Shuttle which goes much further afield than the City Circle Tram.  It was good fun, but we were both so wrecked from our late (but very, very cool) night that most of it just whizzed by us.

We had soup for lunch at Mush in Centre Place, Mrs B with the minestrone and me with the bacon and potato.  As planned we again headed to eFiftyFive, where we are now, as I type this, for a last coffee and chill out before heading home on the train.  It seems fitting that we are sitting a place as chilled out as this, as this has really been the tone for this break.  We have had an incredibly busy couple of months and needed to clear our heads and reset our brains.

Mission accomplished.

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The long weekend is upon us. There are so many long weekends over here that I have forgotten what this one is all about, but hey, I’ll take it nonetheless.  Even better as is our custom, I have taken an extra couple of days off in order to make it a long loooooong weekend.  Our plan is to chill and do as little as possible. I have a quick job to do at our KH at 12.30, but after that, the next 5 days are mine, all mine!

Tomorrow night we are going to our friends place for a dinner party. There will be a nice crowd there and we are all bringing a food invention of our own so it should be a gastronomic delight! There is nothing better in life than hanging with your friends and enjoying good food and great conversation.

Speaking of good friends – Bill, Jean and the kids dropped in last weekend with a wonderful, unexpected surprise:

We were totally blown away!  When we asked them why, they simply said “we know you love coffee, so thought you would like it.”  Wow.  We were totally speechless.  Along with the machine came a bean grinder, cups, saucers and a milk jug.  Far out.

This morning I was finally brave enough to fire the machine up….Here is the first ever Caffe Latte from Ezakimak Cafe:

And, if I do say so myself, it was fabulous.  We used the same grind that we use in our macchinetta (if you are not sure what that is, click here) and the plunger, but from the machine the taste was completely different.  It came out with a much deeper and richer flavour. Eeeeeeeexcellent.

Well, I could talk about coffee for hours, but it is much more fun making it and drinking it, so I had better get back to it!  We are going to stay in the city for a couple of nights from Monday, so expect lots of Twitter updates (see the top right hand side of this page) along with photos of our adventures.

Have fun out there!

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Well, at long last, I have my laptop back. With regards to this, dear reader, be assured that I am extremely happy. I can now update, check, post and blog as much as I like again….

Still, as annoying as having my laptop in the fix-it shop for the third time in about six months, it pales in comparison to some of the crap that has been going on in the world for the last couple of weeks. Its seems that not a day passes without some report of a bombing, a killing, a war atrocity or kiddies getting slaughtered. Today was no different. I awoke to the news that a taxi driver in England went loco and shot 13 people before going into the forest and turning the gun on himself.

I’ve just finished looking through a photo essay on Life.com examining some of the most well known war photos in recent history. Now, on SBS is a documentary about comics and war. Not your usual comics, but a developing genre from the previous decade call ‘documentary comics’. I guess it has all emphasised to me how stupid we are as humans. No direction.

We suck at looking after ourselves.

If you want a reality check, please read this blog: http://www.livesstrong.blogspot.com/ It is written by an 18 year old girl who lives in Iraq. When you think of Iraq, no doubt you think about bombs, death and terrorism. Of course, she writes about these things as they are happening in her back yard, but mostly she writes about her life and what her and her friends have been up to. They do normal things like go to parties, eat at restaurants and stress about school exams. It is a refreshing insight as to the reality of life there, rather than the one sided reporting we get through the media.

In addition to this, if you can get your hands on a book called “Fit to Print” by Joris Luyendijk, grab it an read it. It is an intriguing look at the one-sided-ness of reporting on the Middle East and the ‘standardisation’ of the reports that come out of there. It is a great read.

Anyway, back to the real world.

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