Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rozelle Market Finds

Having heard the ceramics gallery (where I will be doing my internship at) owner talk about Rozelle market and the wonderful finds he's gotten there, I decided that I would pay the market a visit today. After all, one of my resolutions was to check out all the weekend markets here.

I got there past noon and started to slowly wander around the 100 plus stalls. Almost immediately an ornate orange and gold thin, wooden tray caught my eye. It looked shabby-chic (later found out made in Italy). But as that was within 3 minutes of my being in the market, I decided I should walk around a bit more instead of parting with cash so soon as how serious shoppers understand the importance of checking out the territory properly first (Anyhow, I did make a pitstop at the ATM before I caught the bus to the market, so was fully prepared). More interesting little stalls selling lots of secondhand ceramics, glassware, clothes, shoes, bags, all sorts of antique-looking stuff (cameras, binoculars, phones, radios), retro items (furniture too) as well, bric-bracs. It was a refreshing change from the last few markets I've been. The crowd is more local than touristy as the market is set in a surburb, so I hesitated to use my camera as I didn't want to stand out like a sore thumb.

I fingered a few pieces of ceramics, but decided I didn't like them enough to want them. I finally went back to the first stall to buy the wooden tray. It was apparently marked down from $8 to $5 (by 1.30 pm, it seemed that some stalls were preparing to close, although technically the market goes till 4 pm). I was pleased with my buy and wandered back to some other stalls where I had eyed some other things earlier. A little English tea cup and saucer in peach and white, with gilded floral and leaf patterns beckoned. I had seen some at the Antiques Centre a few days earlier, and the cheapest there was $10, this was $9 and prettier than the ones at the Antiques Centre, so I bought them too. As I was leaving, some old-fashioned, heavy duty baking trays and smooth (from long use) old rolling pins caught my attention. I held them up and debated. Then I saw it- a old-fashioned hand whisk, with metal parts and smooth wooden handles. They no longer made them with wooden handles. I had to have it, the seller said it was probably made in the 50s and the new ones now had nylon parts. So I bought it for $18.

Pleased with my purchases, I decided I would finally get some lunch. There was a stall selling pies, tarts, quiches, cakes and bread. The Japanese baker even had an oven there, considering the market operates on the grounds of a primary school for the weekend only, it was a feat how he got it there. I bought a ham quiche and a custard almond cake. They were oiishi!

Finally satiated from shopping and lunch, I made my way home.

Post-shopping Note: While arranging my purchases for the photos, the tray slipped and hit the cup which broke. I had a nagging feeling when arranging it that way and was a split second too late. Que sera sera...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Home-Grown, Hand-Painted And Hand-Made

It truly is Spring (I know yet another post referring to Spring- get used to it already, I can hear you guys say - but seriously when one has just come out of a cold winter into sunshine, one needs to give appropriate thanks and reverence) when even my mini cactus starts to flower. The little red bits are the buds and when they bloom, they open up into the cream-coloured flowers on the top. They look like dried flowers which I've pinned into the cactus but I kid you not, they are real.

The next Spring event is that I've finally received my belated birthday pressie of the painted shoes. Just in time. I've worn out my original pair of painted canvas shoes at the end of Summer and have requested these (design left to giver's discretion) as a birthday present. So it came over, courtesy of a colleague who is a stranger to both the giver and the recipient, how nice of her. So I've got a chicken on one shoe and a cow on the other. I had scrutinised the design and concluded that although the pattern had both my favourite animals, it was somehow lacking in red, as the orange and purple were too dark on the blue and green background. So with my red pen in hand, I've proceeded to dab in red where I deemed fit. I think the little touch-ups brought out the design better. Well I am claiming my artistic (and owner's) licence to customise them ever so slightly.

This afternoon I went into the ceramics studio and saw that my pieces are out of the kiln. I've previously air-brushed them (that's when I felt a certain empathy with the graffiti spray-paint artists- you just can't stop when you've got one of those spray thingys in your hand!) However, the brown has become more staid after the pieces were fired. In order to keep to the brown paper bag idea, we've chosen to just use brown and also to preserve the purity of the Southern Ice Paperclay, I've air-brushed the cups from an angle from the bottom and not blasted the whole cup. I'm not quite sure if I'm completely happy with them as is. I like the little snack dish on the right, the one which I had exercised greater restraint over, with the air-brush as you can tell. I'll have to think about the rest of them a little more.

However they are after all limited edition, designer tableware. Some of you lucky (haha) folks may be receiving one in the near future. And if I do become famous in the future, you already have one of my earlier works - so would you like me to sign them now?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A River Runs Through It

I had almost forgotten to upload these photos on this blog because I think I was so excited by the beauty of them all, I had sent a link to my photo album to all my friends as soon as I had come home and uploaded them. But they were really picturesque and I think they would look really good on the blog.

So for some sort of record purposes, I guess I am here now recounting that two Saturdays ago I had visited my Iranian friend at her home in the suburbs. She had dangled the invitation of lunch with a promise to take me to a "very nice place". That turned out to be an understatement because the park we had gone to was really lovely. It was huge, with a river running through it. There were weeping willows by the river bank, not something I would have expected in an Australian landscape at all. We were mesmerised by how pretty the scenery was and lost no time taking lots of photos. The weather was sunny but cool, and we stretched out by the river bank, experimented with the camera's self-timer and concluded that we both looked like some escaped prisoners in those shots! So weird.

I think I'm going to be hitting the beaches in the next few weekends. So more pics of beach babes and hunks will be coming this way. Watch this space!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Chalk the Walk

We finally found where the chalk drawings were after trudging all over the area. Where were the flags? Sydney advertises every event with flags! There were no flags to be found... Finally, we found out that the chalk drawings were on the bridge. They were however, pretty disappointing. I was expecting to see 3-D drawings in the vein of Julian Beever (ok maybe not as SPECTACULAR as Julian Beever), but all I saw were mostly flat drawings, regular, flat drawings. A couple managed to do something which were 3-D, nothing too too fancy. If it's not 3-D, are you still a pavement chalk artist, I wonder? Or are you just an artist who draws on pavements?

This 70s Disco Queen on stilts was a cute distraction on our way to the chalk drawings, there was a Brazillian Festival and a Turkish Festival on either side of the harbour.

It felt like Spring had skipped us by and we were right into Summer. It was a scorching 31C and I had, with great foresight, slapped on sunblock all over. If this is what Spring feels like, I think we'll be in for a really HOT summer.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Stumbling Onto Something Good

After a nice lunch of eggplant parmigiana at a quaint cafe with surly service at Five Ways, we strolled around in the lovely sunshine. My plan was to recce art galleries in Paddington and suss them out then apply to them for internship. At least I'll see what they look like in the buff, what works they carry, how big the place is, what the people are like etc.

On our way to lunch, I had spotted a Ceramics Gallery and I made a mental and photographic note of it (since my memory was sure to fail me in a day or 2). On the way back, we decided to make a stop and have a look around the gallery. I was immediately drawn to the works on exhibition. Ceramics which are inspired by the Japanese school of pottery, some traditional pieces and other contemporary, sculptural works. They were very beautiful. I was quite excited to see some works made from Southern Ice Paperclay which is what I've been working with in my ceramics class. I have been told that this (expensive) clay is very pure-looking and beautiful when fired. They were indeed and I can't wait to see my works fired and looking (a little) like that!

The owner was extremely friendly and invited us to go to the cellar to look at other works as well as the back cottage which had Japanese wood block prints. So we happily explored the gallery which is actually an old refurbished terrace house.

I decided to ask the owner if he was looking for an intern. I could see myself working here, in this environment and I enjoyed the works he was showing. And since I was interested in ceramics and spend many weekends trawling second-hand shops and markets for cheap and interesting ceramic finds, what better than this? But he was busy with a couple of customers so I lingered in the background, waiting. He must have sensed that I wanted to ask him a question as he left the customers and came to me, and asked if I wanted to ask him something! So I did. We had a brief chat about what I do in uni, he was interested in the course requirements for internship and he said he's already committed to another student but he was open and I could send him my details.

I wandered around Paddington somemore, in and out of the little shops and finally got home with aching feet. I wasted no time in sending my details to John, the gallery owner and within an hour, he replied saying that he was very positive about it, and wanted me to go and "interview" him and his assistant. He was an ex-academic and was very concerned about giving me a proper internship experience, so he enquired once again about the course requirements, and wanted to design a specific project for me to see through. Wow, so at least I won't be (just) making coffee and photocopies at this place. There is some good learning to be had.

I have a good feeling about this.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Dress For Spring

Another sign that Spring has arrived, are the pretty, feminine dresses in lovely prints and colours that are being displayed in the shops. The sunny weather puts everyone in a good mood, and a shopping mood. Everything looks better, feels better, colours more vibrant, fresher. It is very true how the weather affects a person.

Today we went to Paddy's market and before doing the usual veg and fruit shopping, we decided to walk around the regular market as we haven't done so in a while. The pretty dresses beckoned us nearer, persuading us to part with the weekly marketing budget. I tried on a couple of things which I liked. But decided that I should restrain myself to one purchase. So I picked the dress. I just love the floral prints in the shade of light green that I am so fond of. Brown seems to be my base colour in many of my colourful skirts so that is good as I will have matching cardigans and shoes/boots.

But trying the dress on in the dressing room reiterated the fact that I am indeed heavier post-winter and will have to lose the excess weight. I started by cutting down on lunch portions. Instead of a main dish each, C and I shared a pad thai and a tom yum soup at lunch. We didn't feel starved after that, and congratulated ourselves on our first step in retraining our stomachs to accept a smaller portion. Come dinner, we slid back a step and succumbed to dessert after steak. I was resisting but C kept insisting, so she made me do it. But I warned her that there was to be no more biscuits or any other food after this when she got home.

I have to get started on my 100 tummy crunches. I'm going to have to put some discipline back into the routine now that winter depression is no longer an excuse for slacking...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fifi Foveaux

As a person who prides herself on being able to tolerate the cold pretty well, I hate to have to admit I had to sleep in my bed socks last night, after having ditched them the last 4 weeks. It was THAT cold. But this morning, I woke up to a really nice sunny day. I approached the outdoors with a bit of scepticism at noon. It might look like a sunshiney day but was it really warm enough for just a long-sleeved tee shirt, jeans and clogs?

I was on my way to fulfil a new, self-imposed resolution. It goes like that. I live in a neighbourhood which is pretty bobo (bourgeoisie-bohemian). Quaint little cafes and not so little restaurants dot the neighbourhood. I have been devouring reviews and food blogs about these eating places and thought to myself that the nearer one lives to a certain place, the less likely the chances of one visiting. The law of inverse proportionality seems to always work in such situations. I have walked past these cafes many times, even peered in with curiosity as I go by. But I've never gone inside. So my resolution is to eat at as many of them as possible while I am living here. I will start with the cafes, in order to preserve my budget (and life savings). I like the look of these cafes, they are invariably small (at times, tiny), decorated in a variety of unusual styles - from the rustic to the baroque. They are usually good spots to just sit and people watch. And the neighbourhood is full of interesting and beautiful people (mostly gay men, unfortunately for us straight women).

So today, the first free (sunny) day I have, I made my way to Fifi Foveaux, a baroque-looking little cafe 3 minutes' walk down the road from me, with red wall paper, a red plastic chandelier and some really cool lights wrapped in what looked like gold tinsel leaves (As I was a little shy about taking photos in a small cafe which would have been blatant, I got the photo of the lights that I liked off a food review website. But I did take a quick snap of my meal.). Jazzed-up versions of familiar old French songs play in the background. I order a mushroom risotto with cheese and a banana smoothie. It was a substantial meal, the portion would have been too much for me when I was 2.5 kgs lighter in the summer, but now post-winter and 2.5 kgs heavier, it was just right. The cheese was a little pungent but once mixed into the risotto, it was perfect. The mushrooms were flavoursome and I licked the plate clean. The smoothie was a little too much and I felt bloated after I downed the giantic glass. But I comforted myself with the thought that I have been pretty deprived of bananas since the hurricane in Queensland wiped out most of the banana output and prices of bananas soared to a level unheard of in the past.

Hence, feeling satiated and pleased that I've finally eaten at Fifi Foveaux which I have been reading so much about, I ambled into the sunshine.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Snippets Of The Weekend

Spring Fair. Student Art Show curated by my Curatorial Studies class. After much stress, to-ing and fro-ing on the email, manual labour moving tables, chairs and lockers, we managed to make the space look presentable and hung the works in a semblence of theme and colour. The Show did go on. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. It looked pretty good actually. And surprisingly, people braved the horrendous weather to come visit.

The Sand Sculptor in action, but we didn't wait to see the end result because we left for a fish and chips pub lunch. And never came back to the Spring Fair... blame it on the rain of course.

On a separate note, I baked on Sunday, after the Spring Fair. Made sardine puffs. They go very well with a nice cup of Earl Grey.

And finally Monday night, the inauspicious day for an auspicious event. 9-11 was chosen for the night of the Scholarship Awards. I finally received my cheque for $500 and a certificate. Promptly spent $46 of that money on steak dinners with 4 friends. It was a great deal, $7 steak (pub grub) with coffee/tea. This was the extremely yummy sticky date pudding with vanilla ice-cream ($6). We thought we were full so we shared 1 portion. And had to go back and get another. A very sweet way to end a great night.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Clog Unclogged

The chemicals for unclogging the drains didn't work. It was too late to call the housing agent last night so I had to do without a shower. I rang them this morning and within an hour, I was speaking to the plumber who promised to come over within the next hour and finish the job off in an hour. I am watching the clock now as I write this entry, unable to do much other work, envisioning having to wash my hair at the kitchen sink tonight in the worst case scenario.

The gale force wind outside does not help. It feels like Winter went to visit an aunt for a few days and has come back now. The paranoid in me, fears that the windows will break with the wind, and wonders if I should start taping them up for protection. After all, I've had a burnt fuse box in June, now 3 months later, my bathroom drains are all clogged up, the window glasses may very well break in this gale. It didn't help that I was almost blown off the pavement yesterday on my way home from buying the drain chemicals, and that on my way to uni, I heard a loud crrrraaaaccck and a branch fell from high up and landed somewhere in front of me. It wasn't that near but I still witnessed it. I need to think happy thoughts, happy thoughts...

This brings home the point why people buy brand-new apartments where such electrical wiring or plumbing problems are non-existent, or when they buy old apartments, these are the things you should never stinge on. Re-wire, re-do the plumbing.

Ok! The plumber came and used his drain auger or the plumber's snake on the clog and in less than 10 minutes, he was done. Of cos it was the usual suspect - hair. Due to the old-fashioned drain grating in my shower area, I cannot buy a sieve to put in there to filter out the hair. Have to be really careful (the way I was when I first moved in, but I guess I got complacent and lazy) and try to keep the hair away from the drain.

But now- I'm going to take a well-deserved, long-awaited shower.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Water, Water, Everywhere

Before the interview with Tate Modern, I decided to take a quick shower and wash my hair and be fresh and ready. Little did I know that this would lead to a minor calamity.

The water in the shower area seemed a little slow in going down the drain, I didn't fuss too much about that. But pulling back the shower curtain, I saw that my bathroom mat was completely soaked through, the bathroom was flooded. Water had escaped from the bathroom and into the living area - onto the parquet floor! The door mat on which my shoes were on was already half-soaked. I quickly rescued my shoes and rummaged around for rags. Spent the next 10 minutes trying to sop up the excess water and prevent the water from going any further into the room.

Minor crisis averted. Mental note to self: buy some drain declogging chemicals tomorrow.

Then spent 20 minutes on the phone interview. It went smoothly, but as the process is competitive with interviews going on all of this week, I will hear back from them in a week's time. So I'm not saying anything more, don't want to jinx it!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Doing The Maths - Saving My Apartment

It just occurred to me that if I were going home for the year end long holidays, I would keep my apartment, except that I had not made any plans to go home for a major part of the long holidays. Hence, if I were to go to London for the internship, why would I think of giving up my apartment, then coming back next year to search for another apartment, when I know, absolutely know, that there is no other apartment, for the amount of rent I am paying, that will be as nice as the one I am currently living in. The only reason why I am even contemplating this insane idea is to save the $5,000 rent in order to subsidise my living expenses in the UK.

Then I reworked my maths, it wasn't $5,000 savings, it was more like $3,600 which is significantly less. So maths is not my strong subject, never was and never will be.

That changed the picture slightly. I guess what would completely seal my decision is if I get a reasonable cost of living subsidy from work for doing project work in Brighton.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Fire, A Flower Show And Prawn Noodles

Just 24 hours. But so many things to report!

This morning just past 1 am, while I was suffering an unusual bout of insomnia and fiddling with the TV remote and wondering if I should just get out of bed and see if anyone is online for a chat, the fire alarm rang. The shrillness and loudness of the alarm invaded my little flat, I decided to pee first in case it turns out to be a long night - talk about presence of mind!

When I opened my front door, I saw my neighbour from the opposite unit peering out his door too. We both confirmed we don't smell smoke, I closed my door and debated what to do next. The fact that there was a fire bell shrilling right outside my door made it impossible to stay inside the flat, I took my mobile phone, keys and put on my overcoat and went downstairs. I realised I didn't take any official documents or money with me when I evacuated because I didn't really believe there was a fire in the building, but I guess I should have grabbed them nevertheless.

There were about 6 people downstairs when I came down, dressed in their various sleeping attire as it was already 1.20 am. We hung around a bit, and then I decided to circle the building to see if there was any sign of smoke. None. Then I saw the mains board with lights lit up like a Christmas tree reflected on the building's security door, so I went back in to have a look. It said the fault was in "Level 9". A quick check with the folks outside confirmed no one was from Level 9, then it struck me, there was NO Level 9 in the building, my quick-thinking neighbour then said he was going to check on Unit 9 and sprinted upstairs.

When he appeared 5 minutes later, he said when the old man who lives in the unit opened his front door, he could smell smoke and told the man to open all his windows to air the place up and hopefully the alarm would stop. We waited. No luck, the alarm was still ringing. Then in the distance, we hear the fire engine, could it be coming for us? The sound came nearer and a fire engine drove past us, it wasn't going very fast and when we saw that it had bypassed us, we started waving our arms. They saw us, stopped and turned the engine round the corner and came round the back. A bunch of big, burly firemen piled out of the fire engine and leisurely strolled up to us. We told them about Unit 9, so a couple of them went upstairs to check the situation out while the rest of them just hung around downstairs.

Another 10 minutes later, 3 firemen appear from upstairs, turned off the alarm and gave us the all clear. There wasn't a real fire, only burnt cooking. As it was past 1 am, I suspect the old man may have fallen asleep while cooking till the pot burnt, triggering off the alarm. Well at least now we know the smoke detector and fire alarm work in this building.

Thank goodness it was a warm Spring night, it wasn't cold waiting downstairs in the open, but it sure was an exciting 30 minutes...

That didn't help my insomnia and I finally got to bed at 3.30 am. Didn't get much sleep as the next morning, we were going to DJ, a posh departmental store, to check out their Spring Flower Show. Apparently, every Spring, they deck out the whole place with exotic flower arrangements. They didn't disappoint. It was fabulous. Spring was really in the air, it was 26C, I was in a short-sleeved tee shirt, skirt and clogs. I even had sun block on. It really makes a difference when it's warm and sunny. Psychologically, it seems to be such a boost, everything seems more cheerful, hope seems abundant. There is nothing a little solar therapy can't help...

I'm glad Winter is over and Spring is here.

And to top off a perfect day, I had an absolutely delicious Prawn Noodle Soup for lunch, the stock was so yummy, rich and sweet. They were generous with the prawns and pork pieces. It just can't get better than this. Mmmmmm.