Saturday, 25 February 2012

Cigar bars and the art of bad timing

The Cigar Bar
Last night I went to a cigar bar to help celebrate a friend’s birthday. My concern that it would be like an old-fashioned gentleman’s club with everyone smoking those smelly cigars was ill founded. Anyone smoking needed to do so outside which is where we were situated anyway. We got to enjoy being in the middle of Melbourne, up high, surrounded by a vista of skyscrapers. It was especially enjoyable as the sun set and the light was reflected on a couple of buildings turning them, by degrees, first orange then yellow.

But, my friend had warned us this place was a little pretentious. He was right. We were allowed to book the outdoor area as long as a minimum amount of money was spent - several hundred dollars. No one else wanted to sit out there anyway. Might have had something to do with the fact that it was still 37 degrees at 6.30pm. We had two long tables reserved but when a couple of us tried to sit at an adjacent table the hostess/waitress pointed out which were our reserved tables. That was where we were meant to sit. There was little room left at these, she then relented and let us sit around the adjacent table.

We were the only ones there at this point. When more people arrived and we pulled another table over the hostess quickly rushed over and moved it to her liking. I’m not sure what the overall effect was meant to be but she did it better. Clearly we were not meant to be moving furniture around.

Under “bossy” in the dictionary there’s a picture of her. Personally, I don’t think she was very good at her job. We had to order drinks from her. As each new person came in she’d offer them a drink, invariably they’d ask to see a wine list. Every time. Yet, at no point did she twig this might be what would happen and greet people with the wine list in her hand. The place was a strange combination of attempting sophistication and yet not quite getting it right.

Still, we were there because my friend likes to have an occasional cigar and he got to do that, so he was happy. We were there because he was our friend, and there was alcohol, and so we were happy.


Along with their attempts at sophistication were the inflated prices on the wine list. Really, I would not go back there. They tried too hard to be, well I don’t know what, a cigar bar maybe, and not hard enough to make the experience a particularly welcoming one. It was a long night of drinking and chatting, I met several very nice women, drank too much (but that’s par for the course these days) and eventually couldn’t hold out for dinner any longer. So at 10 o’clock I ordered a cheese platter. It eventually came. When I say eventually I think they’d gone off to milk the cow to make the cheese. 

This place was my friend’s choice and so that must’ve made him happy. It’s not the first time he’s been there but I would not go back to such lack lustre service. I wonder what the attraction is for my friend? There’s a plethora of rooftop bars in Melbourne that would be fun to frequent. And as they are open air, smoking is allowed so the same experience could be had at another venue. Of course I would never complain to him but this is my blog and I can voice my opinion here safely.

The Art of Bad Timing
Getting home proved problematic. We all left at 10.45pm for some dinner. I’d gorged myself on a cheese platter by this point and so being on next week’s calories already declined. There was a train I could catch within the next 10 minutes so I hotfooted it out of there.

When I got to the station the closest entrance was closed. I went to the next entrance and saw my train on the very next platform. Why is that the train you’re wanting to catch is never 30 seconds late?

Oh actually let me backtrack here, yeah the train I had wanted to catch into town was actually more than 30 seconds late. It was cancelled. I had a 15minute wait for the next train. This is a bad thing because I was rushing to catch the train, which was cancelled, and failed to negotiate my driveway’s tricky acute angle and downward spiral and put a huge scrap in the back corner end of my car. Sigh. 

Back to going home - I had a 30 minute wait for the next train. Very boring. So I decided to catch another train around the city loop to the next station outside of the city - Richmond - and then grab my train home. It would give me something to do.

It gave me more to do than I wished. When I’d read the destinations, I’d read “Richmond” but what it actually said was “Richmond West.” This was not helpful as my train doesn’t run through Richmond West.

This meant I had to get off at Richmond West and wait for the next train back to the city, Flinders St.  (Which was delayed. Of course it was.) Which meant I’d missed the next train that left for my destination. In total I missed two trains and after an hour was still at Flinders St station, in the city; 35km, or a $100 cab ride, away from home.

I eventually caught the 12.05am train. Got home shortly after 1am. Yay me: attempted to leave the city at 10.50pm, home by 1.15am.

I’m going out tonight and, dammit, I am not taking the train again.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Drinking and cooking

Have been running hither and nither dancing, rowing, drinking and boogying (as distinct from dancing) and even OKCupid-ing. Yes, yes, I know I said no more internet dating but hell, I'm still single. And while it is mainly OK (being single that is) I met this very cute couple on the train recently who met on OKCupid and convinced me to give it a go. 

So I am.

In the meantime a friend has put me onto My Drunk Kitchen. I have taken an instant like to it as I don't go into my kitchen very often. (The best thing about my kitchen is the bin which is concealed, looking for all the world like just another cupboard, and slides out to reveal two containers: one for rubbish, one for recycling. So cool.)  Allow me to elaborate on the joys of cooking:
  • Toast for me is a version of cooking. 
  • My favourite type of cooking involves using only one pot. 
  • I never, ever watch cooking shows.
  • I'd rather go on a diet than shop for groceries.
  • If I'm busy I can avoid 'preparing' anything to eat and snack on things like almonds, one slice of cheese, a piece of bread etc. (I'm not gourmet anything.)
  • Cheese and vegemite on toast is a handy combination that can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • It doesn't matter what ingredients the recipe calls for, I usually don't have half of them. Or they have mould growing on them.
  • Arnotts has already created the ultimate food: Caramel TimTams

I particularly like this Drunk Kitchen episode: it sums up every thing I don't like about baking: 
  • Reading the recipe
  • Having a rolling pin 
  • Finding a teaspoon to measure the flour
  • Melting butter
  • Reading the really long recipe. . . . 
  • blah, blah, blah

I like the part/s where she drinks cider. . . 

When my mother-in-law stayed with us she was horrified. I had NO rolling pin and NO dishes for baking. 

She then proceeded to make scones or pikelets EVERY SINGLE DAY. FYI I never particularly cared for scones or pikelets in the first place. After three months of staring at scones or pikelets heaped up on a plate on the counter every day and hearing her say: "Well, someone's got to eat them." 

I now HATE scones and pikelets. I'd rather eat liver. Or brussel sprouts. (Just sayin'.)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

To sleep, perchance to dream. . . or just sleep would be fine too

First week of school this week and the insomnia has started up big time. I've been so busy reading up on Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, and The Truman Show that I've had to sacrifice some yoga sessions - very sad - and as a result of being so busy I wake in the night planning and re-planning my classes.

Damn. Insomnia is no fun. None. Why doesn't the brain come with an off switch? Serious design flaw as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile The Princess Bride is coming back to haunt me. In the last week of the holidays I saw the Hollywood version of Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. It was pretty good, besides who would turn down the chance to see Daniel Craig in the all-together? Not me at any rate. But who is the co-owner of the political magazine they publish- yes, it's the Princess Bride herself, Robin Wright. OK, she looks older and she never talks about Westley but it's her!

Then last night I was watching Homeland instead of doing preparation or going salsa dancing as I really, really needed to sleep and not have my brain buzzing, and who do I run across? Mandy Patinkin, that's who.

Unfortunately he is also older and no longer speaks with a Spanish accent.

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

I slept properly last night for the first time in 5 days, wonder if the miracle will happen again tonight?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The trouble with home ownership. . .

Is. . . .

trees falling down in the yard.

At least it didn't hit the house but it did take my long-suffering father 3 days of determined chain saw use to cut it up and move it out of the way.

Personally I would've just left it where it was but dad knew better.