2015 in summary: the best.

Every year for the past few years now I’ve watched the end of the year roll around and everyone bemoan it as the worst year ever. I’ve joined in a couple of times, but my life has always been more swings and roundabouts. The last couple of years in particular have been strongly to that theme (2012 hit a crazy high peak when I partied my way out of Brisbane and moved to Hobart, the following couple of years were mixed with good pals and fun times vs broken ankles and call centres) but this year? This year’s come up trumps for me.

I had no idea what this year had in store for me as I came around the bend. I mean, I knew some things. Every year starts with the alcoholic celebration of Ginuary, so I can always confidently lock that away (it makes for a very busy January for me, actually) but 2015 started with friends and fireworks, flings and fancy foods. And then it got even better.

One of the things on my to-do list when I moved to Tasmania was to find a job I was passionate about and excited to do. I did struggle, when I first got here. It remained the only thing I hadn’t been able to tick off in my first two years here—it turns out that in Hobart, who you know will often get you places, and I moved here not knowing anybody. But then in January of this year, a little boutique budget hotel I’d been making heart eyes over since it opened advertised for a new staff member. I had style. I had flair. I was there. That’s how I became a member of Team Alabama. (But really, I submitted a cover letter intended to charm the socks off the manager and then I had an interview with her and then I was there.) February was chaotic as I saw out my notice at the call centre and started training at the Alabama in time to be flying solo behind the counter in March.

My favourite seat.

The view from reception.

I dropped back from full-time call centre work to my permanent part-time role at the Alabama quite happily, as it coincided with my friend Liv moving in for a few months. Seriously, the stars aligned and said, “Mem, you can survive switching from FT to PT for a couple of months because someone else is going to pay half the rent and utilities you’ve been paying on your own!” Honestly, without Liv moving in, I wouldn’t have felt confident doing that. And without Helen and my mum and a few other friends who demanded that I go for it, I wouldn’t have felt confident even applying for the job. Bless my invaluable support network.

After a couple of golden months of part time work and part time chill, I knew I wasn’t quite going to survive the rest of the time, and Liv wasn’t staying permanently, so the goal of obtaining a second job that I’d also enjoy was quickly becoming a priority (and a challenge). I applied for a few things here and there. I went to a couple of interviews where my heart clearly wasn’t in it and it showed. I’ve never been good at interviewing. But then MONA advertised roles for Dark Mofo, my favourite festival. I told Kel, my boss at the Alabama (and very quickly one of my new favourite people) that she should hopefully expect to have a reference check or two coming her way. She worked her special brand of magic, I interviewed for a Dark Mofo front of house role, and got not only that but the offer of some potential hours in MONA’s front of house team ongoing (and the potential quickly became actual).

Honestly, 2015—you’ve been infused with some kind of juju that I can’t just put down to timing, or luck, or effort.

Working Dark Mofo was a real treat. I fell hard for the festival the first year it was on, so hard that a group of friends from Brisbane came down to enjoy the second year of the festival with me. They came down this year as well (much to my absolute delight) but balancing working at the festival with spending time with pals meant that I was pretty exhausted. That’s actually been the biggest challenge of the second half of the year for me—balancing my work life, my social life and downtime has been a struggle that I think I’m only just now getting the hang of, and allocating enough time for friends and family who visit from interstate is probably my biggest challenge. I keep forgetting how crucial that time with those folks is, and then I feel awful about not spending as much time with them as I possibly can. To Jordan, the feast team, mama, the Perringtons and Fatboy: I’m sorry. I love you. I’ll do better. Welcome to the new years resolution I literally just worked out as I was typing!

Feast Team 2015.

Feast Team 2015.

Back to Dark Mofo. The festival was full of running around, stuffing our faces with winter feast food, resetting a hundred mice numerous times only to watch them explode all over the stage to a rapt and awed audience response (and establishing working relationships with my first MONA staff pals through the mice), playing in light beams and holding precious Piccinini babies. Once the festival was over, I stayed in the front of house team, working casually and fitting my availability around my regular Alabama shifts. For a couple of months after Dark Mofo, I kept working at Detached’s The Shadows Calling exhibition featuring Patricia Piccinini and Peter Hennessey works, growing more attached to the weird furry baby (officially known as the Offering) and the other staff working at the exhibition. Most of us started with Dark Mofo so we had our own little Detached crew, nice to have when you start working in a team of over a hundred people!

MY BABY / The Offering, part of The Shadows Calling.

MY BABY / The Offering, part of The Shadows Calling.

I’ve gotten to know a lot of my MONA teammates over the last six months and so my circle of friends in Hobart (and my Facebook friends list) is steadily expanding. Being an extrovert, this is such a good thing for me, and has certainly added to 2015’s list of many, many positives! From regular pizza dates (holla Local Pizza you my soul pizza) to gallery openings (plug for Visual Bulk) to staff parties (let’s not talk about that one) to serving MONA coworkers drinks at the Alabama, I’m feeling nothing but good vibes.

I had a couple of enforced breaks during the year, the first to Melbourne in April (driven by tickets to see Noel Fielding, enhanced by catching up with mobs of pals, getting my nails did all fancy at Blonde Tiger, eating amazing foods at places like the Town Mouse and Bomba (just to name a couple), and riding trams). In August, I booked a lil solo holiday up at Cradle Mountain, which happened to fall the day after a huge amount of snow did. The break was perfectly timed, as I’d been working myself a little too hard prior to it. I finally ticked the Dove Lake circuit off my to-do list (distressingly beautiful in the snow), and I finally got to properly walk in some big ol’ fresh snow (after missing out on that experience while in Quebec for Christmas 2013 with a broken ankle). White winter holiday of my heart!

May have cried driving through this.

May have cried driving through this.

I did some other fun things this year, too. I went to Panama festival with Helen and Kelsey. I spoke on stage, accompanied by other wonderful people telling their own amazing stories, in front of a bunch of people at the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival, and my story was broadcast on the radio. I was on the radio a bunch, actually—I’ve learnt that this is just part and parcel of having friends who are radio presenters, but still fun. On the radio I’ve talked about Ginuary, my broken ankle, helping my friend make a music video in beautiful Tassie. I’ve enjoyed Tassie. One night in the middle of winter I went and played in the sea sparkles down at South Arm with Holly, and I won’t forget that hour of giggling any time soon.

My year’s ended exceptionally, too. My sister came down from Sydney to spend her holidays with me (despite me working through most of them, see a couple of paragraphs up for my apology) and thanks to her to-do list I’ve done a couple of things myself in Tasmania I hadn’t yet done. I guess this included hosting my first orphan Christmas (I sent a text message to my mum saying WHY DID YOU NEVER TELL US HOW MUCH CHRISTMAS FOOD COSTS but it was worth it for fond memories, happy faces and leftovers). On the Sunday after Christmas, I drove my sister and I up the east coast to Freycinet National Park, where we did the hike up the mountain/stairs to Wineglass Bay’s lookout. I wouldn’t actually recommend doing this trip in one day, it’s a lot of driving… we were knackered but we survived! Just yesterday we started the day with some zebra feeding at ZooDoo, another place I hadn’t been before. The day prior to that I missed out on what appeared to be an absolutely brilliant day of adventuring around the Tasman Peninsula and swimming with seals, but I didn’t put my hand up for it (I regret this!) and so my sister went on a day I was working. See again my new years resolution for 2016, but at the same time, I gotta earn da moneys in order to do da things…

Tonight, as per Hobart tradition, we are headed up to the Eyrie for drinking, board games and a stellar view of the fireworks. I’ll be surrounded by some of my favourite people, reflecting on the year that was and smiling the whole time. To everyone who has helped this year be my best year ever—whether you know it or not! If we spent time together this year, you absolutely did—thank you. See you real soon, or a little later, but definitely sometime.

Peace out, 2015. You’ll be a very hard one to beat. <3

How to ten year bestiversary.

Ten years ago, I met the love of my life.

I remember the date, and will always be able to remember it, because it was the same day that Muse played at the Brisbane Riverstage, back when Muse were still cool (it was the Absolution tour). A small gang of us gathered together to go see it, and this gang kind of remains bonded by heart forever, and it all started at that Muse gig. I think I’d met Emma through the boys before that night, but it was only then that we actually got to talking and found out we both worked administration desk jobs when most of our friends had cool, fun, interesting lives that we lived through vicariously. We swapped work email addresses and the rest, as they say, is tucked away in a nutshell, or something like that.

So, September 2014 marked ten years of cool times with my best gal: the Ann to my Leslie, the Bey to my Nicki, the Wayne to my Garth, the Emma to my Mem. This was a good excuse for her to come visit me for a week of lady dates and minor splurges in the name of hetero-lifemateship.

I'm not so secretly twelve years old.

I’m not so secretly twelve years old.

Emma visited in my first year of Tasmanian life, accompanied by her husband Phil. We didn’t explore much beyond Hobart then (apart from a fun afternoon down the Huon at a Willie Smiths open day—before the Apple Shed was renovated), so for Em’s next visit we decided to go a little all out on a tour of a couple of my favourite places.

Day one involved a big drive, talking literally non-stop the whole way up the highway to Launceston and finally stopping for lunch before Em had a car nap as we wound up the north west. I always seem to drive that road in the late afternoon, prime time for the setting sun to stab me in the eyeballs. Maybe one day I’ll be sensible enough to spend a night in Launceston and then get up early to drive the coastline? This was not that day.

A big drive with a nutty finish.

A big drive with a nutty finish.

Stanley, little town of my heart! I make no secret of loving this corner of the north west the most… it’s probably my favourite place on the whole island, for sentimental reasons and volcanic plug reasons and just look at that green grass. The north west is always so beautifully green. We settled into our sweet accommodation at Stanley Seaview Inn, then headed down to the Stanley Hotel for dinner. The seafood chowder wasn’t as amazing as my memory of it, but after dinner we bought a bottle of wine from the little bottleshop space and (after we got back to the Inn, realised the wine had a cork and there was no corkscrew at the Inn, got back in the car and drove back to the hotel and got them to open the bottle for us and then drove back to the Inn again) we grabbed some blankets from our room, sat out on the bench looking out at the township and the glorious Nut, and drank the bottle.

The next morning it was time to conquer THE NUT! And by conquer I do not mean walk up it. No. Chairlifts all the way, but then the 2km circuit around the top of the volcanic plug. It was just as magical as I remembered.

lifeys04 lifeys05 Lovin' that nut.lifeys06lifeys07lifeys09 lifeys10 lifeys11

Sorry not sorry for the photo spam, you know? Continue reading »

Baby’s first cast.

I know I was in Melbourne only a few short weeks ago, but I returned again quickly for a very good reason: the wedding of two beautiful long-time friends. Our group of friends (the original posse I was a member of while discovering who I was as an adult) flew in from right along the east coast, from Brisbane to Hobart, in order for a reunion and party weekend of epic proportions. Most of us FIFO guests organised to bunk in together in Airbnb accommodation, in order to spend as much time as possible in each other’s company. These are friendships that will last my entire lifetime and I miss these people fiercely on a regular basis.

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However, as much as I want to wax on about my beautiful friends, this post is for whinging instead. I’m almost thirty years old and I’ve finally broken a bone, hooray! Except not hooray. And possibly even maybe no I haven’t. The joy of injuries! At the least, I have a grade 3 (“severe”) ankle sprain (aka a torn ligament). There’s a small chip of bone that’s come away, too, and at the most there could also be a hairline fracture in there too, but I won’t find that out until Monday’s CT scan (over a fortnight after my original injury, no big deal or anything).

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I mention both the Melbourne wedding and the injury because the injury happened directly after the wedding. Thankfully not DURING the wedding! But literally directly after the wedding. I suppose it’s a half-decent story for the future:

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Aurora storm.

So the night I pick up two of my best friends in the world up from Hobart International Airport also turns out the be the night of a crazy awesome aurora forecast. I run them back into town, we grab some dinner, and I hype them up for an aurora hunt.

I don’t explain to them the bit where it can be a little boring without an awesome DSLR to hide behind while taking a bunch of photos, or that it can be bitterly cold perched on the sand dunes for ages waiting for the right moment. They find those bits out themselves (I am so sorry). But Liz and me? We’re over the moon with this.

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Look at those spikes!

Red! So bright!

Red! So bright!

A lot of people on the Facebook aurora group aren’t super hyped about tonight because the moon’s pretty bright these days. But for me, that just means that this happens.

Betsey you look LOVELY!

Betsey you look LOVELY!

The boys hike back over the sand dunes to the warmth of the car while Liz and I keep snapping away, but finally we figure we need to call time. Things seem to be dying down. At about 12:30am we pack up our stuff and trudge back over the dunes ourselves, then when we’re starting to load things into the car we look up.

And gasp.

Because an aurora storm is dancing in the sky.

Only slightly better than our eyes saw.

Only slightly better than our eyes saw.

That’s our friend John up there on the dunes still, diligently capturing his own images because we somehow managed to give him really bad directions and he showed up way later than us.

But really, he arrived at the perfect time.

Because wow.

Because wow.

12 April 2013, or Six:

Friday. The first hints of winter approaching are nigh, and I remark about the apparent morning temperature reading of 3.6°. Hahahaha I am so naive. Jellyfish is under the blankets with me until I manage to drag myself out of bed, just recovering from my first cold virus of the year—funny that it hits me right after I start working again… ah, I love a good virus-spreading corporate building environment.

I head into the training room and think I’ll get a break to catch up on the last two days I’ve missed, but instead I’m thrown onto the phones with the rest of the training group for our first live calls. Terror and panic! This is on top of the shellshock I’m still working through after receiving my first payslip. And my mantra of “I did not move to Hobart for the money” begins…

This month’s anniversary goes by completely unnoticed. It’s such a dull day that this is the only photograph I take. Welcome to my fast slide into mundanity.

Sunnycat.

Sunnycat.

(If it makes you feel any better, the weekend is a little more interesting, as on Saturday I finally find a Vietnamese restaurant that will make me a rice noodle salad reminiscent of the glory of my old local in Brisbane, Quan Thanh. Then on Sunday I hang out with my new friend Helen; coincidentally we have mutual friends who we’re both very close to and we’ve even played the same bad guy in a pantomime in two consecutive years and people could probably mistake us for sisters and it’s really kind of confusing that we haven’t met until now but it’s great now that it’s happened.)

Hi Helen!

Hi Helen!

13 January 2013, or Three:

I’m cheating by a day here, because the 12th is quite dull, but on the 13th, I go cherry picking with friends. Who knew this was a thing I’d ever do?

Up high!

Up high!

My friend Liz is crazy and wonderful and somehow stumbled across Platinum Ridge Orchard‘s awesome “rent your own cherry tree” offer prior to last summer, so she went ahead and rented one all for herself because her husband Jarod doesn’t even like cherries. (He’s also crazy, but clearly for different reasons.) When the time to pick said cherries arrives—you only get one pick per season, because the trees only fruit once—Liz gets in touch with a few of us and is like, “So… cherries?” and I am all too happy to jump in the car with them for a lovely drive down the channel where we meet up with some more pals to PICK. SOME. CHERRIES.

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The money shot.

I’m not ashamed (ok I’m maybe a little bit ashamed) to admit that I didn’t really know what cherry trees looked like until today. I wasn’t sure exactly how cherries grew. Turns out it’s a lot like apples! (I didn’t really know what apple trees looked like either…)

Efficiency.

Efficiency.

When we get out there, the Orchard lady in charge of the picking (I think that’s her official title) checks Liz’s tree and isn’t happy with the amount of fruit on it, so we get a bonus tree. Two trees for the pickings. We have buckets and bags and boxes and we fill them with cherries. Some also go in our mouths. But most into the bags and boxes and buckets.

Clumps and clusters of cherries.

Clumps and clusters of cherries.

Platinum Ridge effectively ruins all other cherries for me forever. These cherries are the biggest, fattest, sweetest cherries I have ever eaten in my life and never again will another cherry measure up. Nope. I can’t imagine how. And yes, we are already planning on renting another cherry tree next season.

Once we get home, we all weigh our various collections of cherries and add the results up to discover we have picked twenty kilograms’ worth of cherries today. We’re not counting the ones that have gone in our mouths, or the ones we left on the trees because we called time on picking eventually because no human can eat that many cherries in three weeks. I fill the entire crisper section of my fridge with cherries. I have eight kilos of cherries alone.

EIGHT. KILOS.

EIGHT. KILOS.

I pin as many interesting-looking cherry recipes as I can and the next couple of weeks see us all get very creative with cherries. Cherry juice, cherry scones, cherry ice-cream, cherry pie, cherries in the face. Constant cherries. We have so many surplus cherries that we even have cherry treasure hunts.

Thanks, Jarod.

Thanks, Jarod.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier in my life. Happier, and constantly stained.

See you in twelve months, Platinum Ridge.

Cue Garbage's hit song?

Cue Garbage’s hit song?

Farm Gate Market and the Night Owl.

The Farm Gate market was on my to-do list before I got down here, for a few reasons. I wanted to stop buying so much from the Big Guys and try to get fresh things from the Little Guys, and the best way to do that seems to be at the farmers markets, where you can get the Little Guys’ fresh things from the Little Guys themselves. Also, who doesn’t love a market?

On my first Sunday here, my mum and I walked down to the corner of Elizabeth and Melville streets with our canvas shopping bags in hand. There was a slight issue with the plan in that without my things from Brisbane, my kitchen is currently very empty, so there’s not much to actually cook with. We ended up getting some delicious fresh dips, some honey (for my tea), and incredible sausage rolls for breakfast from the Urban Bounty stall.

I’ve been back each Sunday since, and this Sunday just gone was actually Farm Gate Market’s third birthday! Woo! Happy birthday, Market! What a beautiful day for it, too. My first market was overcast, my second market was smattered with rain, but my third market (and their third birthday) was a beautiful cool and sunny day.

Hobart's Farm Gate Markets

Madi rings the bell, Urban Bounty sells the sausage rolls.

One of my favourite things about Farm Gate is that it doesn’t officially kick off until 9am, when the bell is rung (top right photo!). You can still get a sneaky coffee from the Farm Gate stall, and it’s a very good coffee at that, but the rest of the stalls will still be setting up and be grumpy if you try to buy their things. Look, just enjoy your Sunday sleep-in and get there after 9am and you won’t have any problems.

So what you want to do next is get a sausage roll from Urban Bounty’s stall for breakfast, because the free-range pork, quince and apple sausage roll is one of the better things about my current life, and with UB’s own tomato relish, too? Just kill me, I’ve reached the pinnacle. There’s nothing much better than sitting down and scoffing my sausage roll and coffee before attacking the market stalls.

Farm Gate Markets

Farm Gate Market’s 3rd Birthday!

This dude in an apple suit was walking around on Sunday and cracking me up. I don’t know if it was a special birthday treat, because I’ve not seen ol’ apple suit before, but maybe that’s just been my timing. There are always some buskers at the market, here and there dotted around corners, but this Sunday’s were particularly good. It was so nice sitting down and enjoying a coffee and listening to some smooth jazz, baby.

I also had the pleasure of meeting another new friend! When I first got here, I looked through twitter to find some charming locals to follow. One of those charming locals was Snuva! She, her husband and their ridiculously cute baby have a standing Sunday breakfast date at the markets, so we arranged to meet up on Sunday to say hello in person. It was lovely to meet them and yet again I forgot to take any photos. I swear these people I’m meeting are real.

The final photo in the little collection above is a lovely segue into my other topic for this post, because I just so happened to ride my shiny new bicycle down to the markets on Sunday (where it was closely guarded by some gorgeous puppies). It was my first proper ride, apart from the short and terrifying ride home on it when I picked it up on Friday. You know the phrase, “it’s just like riding a bike”? It’s true. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and I was VERY nervous when I realised I’d actually have to ride my bike home! I ended up walking it a few blocks away from the shop (and the CBD) before hopping on and wobbling for a block or so before getting wigged out and walking it for another block or so, lather/rinse/repeat. Oh, Friday. You were such a weird day.

THE NIGHT OWL.

The Electra Night Owl. Ridiculous. I am delighted.

SUNDAY, though… Sunday was awesome. Look at this ridiculous bike. I spent a good couple of days tossing up whether to get a plain cruiser or this Electra fashion cruiser. I was concerned that maybe in a couple of years I’ll get sick of the design, or grow out of the owl print, or whatever. Clearly, in the end I got over those concerns, and I think that’s probably fair. I’m a bit twee, I think this bike and I are going to be very happy together.

I got the bike from Bike Ride on Liverpool street. They didn’t have any Electras in stock, but I’d been sent Bike Ride’s way after spotting one in the window of a store a couple of blocks away, and Mark was happy to take the time to go through Electra’s catalogue with me and answer all my stupid questions. The service was awesome enough for me to leave a glowing five-star review on Yelp.

So on Sunday I rode the Night Owl down to the Farm Gate Market and home again, with a basket laden with goodies, and as I pulled up in the driveway, I thought, my life is a bit wonderful right now.

Sunday morning bliss.

Am I right?

Human company and fortnightly flowers.

This weekend was a real treat. I guess it all started when my neighbour caught me yelling at the clouds in disbelief on Friday, because to be honest, they were ridiculous.

Is that you, heaven?

Perhaps I didn’t need to be standing on my front doorstep and yelling, “CLOUDS! SHUT THE HELL UP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? YOU ARE NOT REAL! YOU ARE RIDICULOUS, CLOUDS! JUST SHUT UP!” and perhaps my neighbour was right to be looking a little confused when I finally realised she was within earshot, but she did a very fine job of taking it all with a grain of salt and waving hello. We’ve not properly met yet.

It was after that happened that I realised I needed some form of in-person social interaction, so I managed to bribe two new acquaintances into coming over for afternoon tea on Saturday. I’m kidding! I didn’t even have to bribe them! They invited themselves! Of course, my house was still almost empty because I am still waiting on my things to arrive from Brisbane (let’s talk backloads and movers in another post) but I did the best I could with what I could and I think I like my new little makeshift coffee table so much that I may just keep it as is.

Suitcases from Archer & Archer (facebook), wooden serving tray made by my grandad.

So I don’t actually have any photos of the lovely ladies that I kept company with on Saturday afternoon, but I’m hoping you’ll meet them in the future in any case. The important thing you need to know about Emma and Liz is that they are both crazy for cats, so we had a lot of cat things to talk about. We also talked about other things. It was a lovely afternoon, and I’m only sad that I didn’t see my neighbour hanging around outside her house at all to notice that I was keeping human company.

And aren’t those flowers beautiful? They’re my second batch of flowers. I’m going to try to keep up a habit of getting some new flowers every fortnight from the Farm Gate market, which I’ll tell you some more about in my next post. My mum bought the first bunch for me as a housewarming gift on our first market voyage; they were calla lilies and bluebells. This time around I got some leucadendrons, irises and… those droopy guys whose name I’ve forgotten. Sorry, droopy guys.

fortnightly flowers! and cat.

Flowers, Jellyfish, flowers, flowers.