Wednesday, January 31, 2007


When "Tunisia" appeared as a destination in my February roster I must admit my knowledge on this diminutive country was very limited and after some electronic research I was quickly counting down the days at the prospect of visiting somewhere with so much history against a backdrop of Mediterranean views.

I spent this visit exploring a gorgeous little village, Sidi Bou Said. The small buildings sit way up high above the sparkling blue water, with the cobblestone winding road (yes, singular) leading you through the town against houses, restaurants, souvenir shops and cafes. As I wondered the streets and shops my eyes were regularly distracted by glimpses of the ocean from in between the array of blue and white painted buildings, I can only imagine how dazzling Tunisia would be in the height of summer!

As soon as our taxis pulled up at the base of the quiet little village shop owners appeared from nowhere, each eager to lure seven girls into their shops brimming with silver jewellery, perfume, incense, ceramics, leather shoes, mosaic mirrors. With the promise of "best price" and "free to look" from all the men, we ended the afternoon holding many bags of goods, and I am quite sure the local economy was boosted ten-fold that day.

With the sun setting on Sidi Bou Said and the temperature quickly dropping, we went farther afield to the edge of the village in search of authentic local cuisine. We settled on a quiet, dimly lit restaurant with two very egar to please waiters who kept bringing us morsels of Tunisian entrees, a practical education for us all! For dinner we each ordered variations of couscous which had been cooked in big earthenware vessels, topped with soft tasty pastry forming a lid over the top of the containers. It was quite yummy, and the hot tea which they bought us afterwards was so good - it was served in teeny-tiny glasses and was very sweet and minty.

After peeling away the breaded lid, our waiter poured its piping hot contents on top of our couscous

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


This morning was the first time in just under a month that I was able to enjoy a big cozy sleep in, in my own bed! Yay! Following my annual leave in Brisbane, I had two flights (Brisbane, wouldn't you know it!, and London) which were so close together that delusions of an airport sleepover in between the two trips were only marred by the need to wash some clothes and reintroduce myself to my housemates and building security. Well perhaps I am being slightly dramatic.

The Brisbane trip was a lot of fun. Not only were there three other cheeky Aussies in our crew but one of them was the gorgeous Adventure Girl. AG played a very important role in helping me best prepare for the various stages of application with my airline. We had caught up a few times since I'd moved to Dubai but a 9 day trip provided the perfect opportunity to scratch beneath the surface. The champagne breakfast which a few of us had on arrival into our Brisbane hotel on the Sunday morning induced so much natter amongst all us girls that the staff had to (very delicately) ask us to leave so they could finish setting up for lunchtime! So up we all tottered, to our rooms for a big sleep, taking advantage of the self administered bubbly anesthetic.

That night my friend Louise and I played tour guide to a South African girl in my crew, Kim, and her cousin (he had not long moved to Brisbane). 'Family' was our destination, and 'Fluffy' was the name of the evening - a gay friendly weekly event for the Brisbane clubbing scene. There were just as many delightful half naked men strutting about as I had remembered from previous occasions, so too were the number of interesting people to look at - ie gender ambiguities and festive costumes (such as the pretty blonde boy who was wearing only black undies and matching hooded tank top, with hood positioned carefully over his crown of heavily streaked hair). Lou, Kim and I were salivating, and sighing, at the men around us while Kim's cousin (who wasn't aware it was going to be a gay night) clutched his drink with the whites of his knuckles, laughing nervously at the sights around him.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Summertime celebrations

Paris Hilton would have been seriously outdone on the weekend! Last Saturday morning saw Louise and I unashamedly cramming into the boot of her little silver Ford, two suitcases for a two night stay at the Gold Coast. Yes, one suitcase each. However, to be fair I did have a wedding to attend on the second day.....and.....well....the rest I guess we can attribute to erratic weather patterns and global warming. Along with our two pieces of luggage there were also two reasons for our Thelma and Louise adventure (but with happy ending). #1 - Summerfield Dayze (an outdoor music festival with international Dj's) and #2 - the wedding of my friend Frances to her fabulous (but sadly English) partner Jon - the real reason for the timing of my visit home.

By lunchtime we were checking into the very relaxing and tropical surrounds of Seaworld Nara Resort. The lucky young porter who welcomed us struggled under the impressive weight of our luggage as he unloaded the car, but somehow managed to stagger inside and up to our room by walking at a sidewards angle and facing his head accordingly for balance. Lou and I revelled in this paid privilege and skipped up to our rooms past our hunchbacked porter (so we could open the door for him of course). Fast forward a quick change of clothes and a couple of champagne piccolos and we were setting off from our enviable location down the street towards the festival which takes place every year in a big park right next to the water. Sunny and breezy, with scatterings of eye candy - I was definitely home!

Sunday afternoon while Louise and her boyfriend (who came down for the day) made use of the Seaworld day passes I attended my friend Frances' wedding at a truly beautiful location, about half an hour inland from Surfers Paradise (Mudgeeraba for those playing at home). The last time I saw Fran was two months ago in Brighton (where she and Jon live) while I was on a London trip. She was so heavily pregnant I couldn't stop smiling at the amazing tight drum that was now her big smooth tummy. Thankfully Fran didn't mind my hands constantly skimming over her little baby's home, I was even lucky enough to feel the baby hickup! So the wedding was my first outter womb introduction to their son, Max, and given how beautiful his parents are it was of no surprise that he too was as cute as a button.

With my friends Fral and her partner Tali

Frances, Jon and their new addition, Max

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The countdown in Brisbane

For the last few years I spent the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve fantasising about celebrating such an evening in grand destinations like New York, Paris and London. Well this was my first opportunity to make my little daydreams into reality, but when push came to shove I quickly realised the most important element in planning a fun NYE was who I was going to be celebrating it with! So this year I came home to welcome in 2007 with some of my Brisbane posse, in a pair of new red killer high heels. Dinner outside at a lovely restaurant on the very glossy James Street was in order, as was plentiful bubbles and giggles. Cocktails in The Valley saw us through the countdown and numbed the throbbing pain of my fabulous new heels. Win-win really.

New Years day I woke up pleasantly surprised to find that A)- despite the sensation, my feet had not been severed off and B)- The room was not spinning like the wheel of fortune (a horrific flashback to Jan 1st, 2005). An excellent start. As I was staying with my good friend Louise during my Brisbane visit, her family took pity on my temporary orphan-status and extended to me an invitation to their traditional New Years Day seafood fest. Louise, her partner and I found our darkest sunglasses and made our way to the tasty crustaceans and more booze. The oysters, prawns, salmon, salads and baby-back pork were de-didily-licious and I think it was the first time I truly sang praises for the 'hair of the dog' theory after tucking into an irresistible offer of champagne flavoured with wild hibiscus flower and syrup. Certainly a very nice start to 2007!