Sunday, 21 March 2010

Don't forget the elephants

Hopefully by the time you read this we'll be somewhere between Australia and England, way above the clouds.
Before that, though, there are a few things to fill you in on...
Back at the beginning of the month it was my birthday (I won't say how old!) and we both had the day off. We spent the day in the city, pottering around, and then in the evening Dan surprised me with tickets to see the musical Wicked. For those of you who don't know, it tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz before she turned wicked. I have always absolutely loved musicals, so this was a real treat. The show opened on Broadway to rave reviews, and I can see why. The scenery was fantastic and I couldn't stop singing the songs afterwards. If I had to say one negative thing it would be that the accents were a bit weird! Australian actors trying to do an English accent and sounding kind of Irish/American was quite amusing! That's just me being picky though, because on the whole it was fab.

Last week involved more music, although very different to the twee songs of Wicked! We went to see Massive Attack at the Opera House. Well, I say 'at' the Opera House, but it was actually on the forecourt outside. The stage was set up opposite the main entrance and we all sat on the steps.
 Sydney has the best skyline of all the cities I've visited and made a very dramatic backdrop for the show. And what a show it was! With strobe lights and pumping bass, my eyes and ears felt well and truly worn-out by the end. Dan is a huge fan and particularly enjoyed Angel and Unfinished Sympathy, his two favourite songs. I really liked Teardrop and the graphics that went with it. At this point I should mention that the concert was made even sweeter by the fact we managed to wangle some very cheap tickets by 'pulling a fast one'!! I won't go into the details but we basically managed to save $100... everyone loves a bargain!
Dan and I worked our last shift at the gelato and yogurt shops yesterday. I still find it hard to believe that we were lucky enough to get virtually the same type of job within a few yards of each other. Both my bosses (Fotini et al) and Dan's bosses (Carmen and Michael) were very kind, saying that we would be very much missed. I was thoroughly spoilt, as they bought me a gorgeous handbag as a leaving present. I will definitely miss all the people that I worked with but we both agree that it is time to move on and try something new. The whole point of this year's adventure is to see and experience as many different places as possible and we won't achieve that if we stay in Newtown for the whole time!
Packing has been an absolute nightmare! I cannot believe how much we have accumulated in just five months. The biggest drama involved a big wooden lamp. I honestly think we needed our heads examining the day that we bought that thing, as we really didn't consider how we were going to get it home. In the end we decided to ship it back to the UK, which will take three months! We spent ages wrapping it up so I hope it arrives in one piece...
 As for the Blog title, that is a reference to our decorative string of elephants that we had hanging in our room. Because we are so used to them I was worried we would overlook them, hence the fact Dan kept saying 'don't forget the elephants'. You'll be pleased to know they are now safely tucked into Dan's suitcase.
Farewell Newtown and all the crazy people that come with it and hello Barnstaple (and all the crazy people that come with it!! Only joking, I've missed you all really!)

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Won't forget that in a hurry!

fore I start, we would both like to thank everyone who has followed us for the past five months. We appreciate all the support and interest you have shown. Doing the blog has been a delight along with finding new and interesting things that we can share with everyone at home.
Jo and I have been working loads recently to help pay for our tickets back in April. We have still managed to find time off together and join in with all the fun.
Each year Sydney is one of the hosts of the world's largest short-film festival - Tropfest. This event was first started at the Tropicana Café in Darlinghurst back in '93 by founder John Polson. Every short-film entered each year must adhere to three rules : each film must be less than seven minutes, must only premiere on the day of the festival and most importantly must feature the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), which this year was 'Dice'. Out of over 600 films entered only 16 were chosen. I won't tell you them all but I will say there was a good mix of genres including comedy, drama and animation. All 16 were shown on a massive screen in the middle of The Domain. The time leading up to the screenings was filled with entering competitions, chillin' out and rolling a giant die, as you do!

After watching all 16 films we realised how much talent is out there. Each short-film was unique in its own way. One of my personal favourites was an animation called 'My neighbourhood has been overrun by baboons'. The clue of what it's about is in the title. It made me chuckle and the song was quite catchy too. It came 2nd overall which was good to hear. Jo's favourite was the first one shown called 'No Dice Hollywood'. It won the award for Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. The winning short went to Abe Forsythe for his film 'Shock'. The film was based on one of Australia's top radio DJs, Kyle Sandilands, who was in the news last year for something controversial he said in a radio interview. I won't go into detail but the film exploited his blunder by basing the short around the event. As you can guess Jo and I were a bit out of the loop with the meaning of it all but soon found out afterwards...! Amongst the judges that night were two famous actors - Elijah Wood and Toni Collette. They both presented awards at the end with Elijah presenting the award to the winner.
You can see our favourites and the winning short over on the Tropfest channel on YouTube -

One of the biggest events held here each year is the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. We both had to work on the day but finished early giving us chance to get to the parade. This year the parade started in Whitlam Square and went up through Oxford Street and finished at Flinders Street. It started at 7.45pm and we didn't get there until 7.30pm. We never could have imagined how busy it was going to be. Judging by the amount of people, it seemed as though most were there from midday! 
As you can imagine there were lots of crazy floats in the parade along with numerous organisations and charities too. The lighting and colours used were amazing and everyone involved was on a massive high and enjoying every minute. We managed to squeeze into a space further up Oxford Street as the further down the streets were crammed and even I couldn't see over the top!
The parade lasted for three hours! We really enjoyed it and realised that next time the best place to view it is from up high...!
A couple of weeks before the Mardi Gras I noticed an advert in the local paper to take part in a piece of artwork. The artist behind it was internationally renowned Spencer Tunick. (For those who haven't heard of him you better Google him before you read on!) I knew straight away that it wasn't going to be your run-of-the-mill photo shoot! I was interested but Jo wasn't. Later that evening I filled out an online application and waited. A couple of days later I received an email. It stated that you had to be at the Sydney Opera House at 4am on Monday March 1. The installation was called 'The Base' and Spencer wanted to use the steps of the Opera House as the backdrop. As weird as it sounds I found out an old friend who lives in Melbourne was also taking part which made it even stranger/reassuring. I met up with Mike that morning at 4am. When I arrived I couldn't believe how many people were already there queuing to get in (over 5000 as it turned out). After having a quick catch up with Mike, we were suddenly handing over our release forms to take part. We were told to wait until Spencer arrived to give us further instructions. Mike and I sat down and mingled with all the fellow participants.
An hour later Spencer picked up the megaphone and began giving us instructions. He said once the sun started to rise then he would begin the installation. Everyone was going crazy and laughing which must have been a mix of nerves and excitement! Not long after his speech the sun began to appear and light up the situation. A moment later there were clear instructions coming over the tannoy and before I knew it I was doing what I signed up for...! Amongst the wind, the helicopters and local press Mike and I chuckled to ourselves and enjoyed the moment!
After the shoot outside we were told that there were also going to be photos inside the Opera House. Without giving too much description let's just say that I found the whole 'experience' amazing and memorable. Seeing everyone around me doing the same made it a lot easier. I will never do anything like that again and next to something as iconic as the Opera House. Everyone receives a photo of the shoot from the day in the post within the next two months. I'm sure it will take pride of place on our mantelpiece... (or maybe not!?!)