Sunday, 30 June 2013

Dry July

Well Hello again.

Where has this year GONE? We are halfway through already!
It is the first of July, first day of the new financial year, it is the middle of winter (prime time for cracking open bottles of red wine)

Most notably, it is the first day of Dry July, which is a fundraising event where people get sponsored to abstain from Alcohol for a month.

A cursory glance at my blog will reveal how much I enjoy a soothing glass of vino, so there will be some adjusting to do. Like everything uncomfortable in this life, it will probably be good for me.

Sponsorship funds are donated to cancer research. I have elected for my funds raised to go to St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne.

I have selected this hospital because the staff here did a very good job of looking after my ex father in law, Nigel (he was my father in law at the time) before he died 8 years ago. He had a nasty, aggressive tumour called a glioblastoma multiforme, a lesser known, less common but almost universally fatal cancer with an average prognosis of 1 to 2 years from diagnosis.

The staff at St Vincent's were wonderful and took a lot of time to explain things. Nigel was a lovely man and I get sad thinking about him, he was only young and  not ready to die. I am sure he would be sad with what ended up happening with me and his son, but he probably would have understood eventually, that was the way he rolled.

RIP Nige, hope there is good beer for you up there, and lots of licorice allsorts.

If you can, and would like to donate, here is the link to my fundraising page.

Even if you can't donate, I hope you enjoy what might be some amusing posts. I might even have to come up with some non-alcoholic drink recipes, which I will duly post.

Cheers! (with glass of sparling water in hand)....

Korea. Plus some photos.

WARNING: long post! Make a cuppa and strap yourself in!
Sorry for the delay between posts.
I am home now!

I arrived in Seoul last Saturday night, at around 10pm. I was in one of those fractious "I am hungry but I don't know what I want" moods. Which probably means I wasn't that hungry. I spent quite a while trundling around, and ended up on the Main Street of GANGNAM! I know! The only thing that was open at aound 11pm was Taco Bell, and other similar fast food shops. I also did not want to go to any place where I couldn't read the writing, which was most places. I know. Fractious.

Seoul is cut into two north and south halves by the Han River (Hangang). There is the side that is north of the river, which has many suburbs, and is older. The parts of cultural and historical significance are there, like the palace and the mock traditional villages. The area south of the river, Gangnam, is newer, possibly a bit glitzier, but there are more high-rises. The streets are a bit more grid like.

I was staying in the Gangnam part, two stations away from Coex, the massive convention centre where my conference was held. It had a large underground shopping mall.

Yes, Gangnam, as in that Ridiculously catchy and annoying Psy song.

The hotel, one of the Mercure chain, was ok. Functional. It had a poorly air conditioned gym, which I  availed myself of, and a rooftop bar, which I also availed myself of. The room fairies were very good at tidying up my stuff, and made sure they arranged my (too many pairs of) shoes in a tidy manner.

The conference itself was a bit meh, quite light on the stuff that will change my practice (that is what we travel across the world for, right?) but I managed to pick up a few interesting snippets, saw a bit of more humanities (rather than science) based research, and found some good contacts. It is all about networking, this research gig. Gotta keep the ear to the ground, and the finger on the pulse.

The Koreans really know how to throw a shindig (apart from provision of sufficient wine; they are after all catering to health professionals). The entertainment at the opening and closing ceremonies was a hoot. They had young drummer boys, hot young men and women doing percussion and chopping vegies and dancing, and the world's oldest choir. They also had a little girls singing and dancing troupe. They sang Waltzing Matilda for us at the closing ceremony. It was as cute as all get out. All the Aussies were a bit drunk at that point, and it was the night when Julia was toppled as PM, so the Aussie delegates got a bit rowdy at that point.

Now. For the interesting parts..
(FYI when I say Korea here, I am referring to South Korea)

Korea is quite a lot like Japan. Except Korea's road signage is better, but they have more of a code address thing rather than streets.

The subway/public transport system is astronomically good, and very easy to navigate, despite there being lots of different lines. Ugh. Who am I kidding. Most large cities outside Australia have a better public transport system than us here in Melbourne. It is seriously covetable. And it is clean.

The subway is full of people yapping on their phones, or listening to music, or watching Korean dramas on their phones.

iPhones are not that common in Korea. Korea, being a manufacturing powerhouse, makes Samsung and LG, and folks tended to use those phones. Usually they had a nice cover. Some even had their phones dressed up as a teddy bear. It was rather cute.

And speaking of cute, many Korean people are. Like they are in Japan. Cute as buttons (that is a sweeping generalisation but I will stand by it for the moment). The the little old ladies looked cute and small but could push you aside on the train to get to a seat. Well done them, survival of the fittest, no?

I usually do my level best to master a few words from the country I am visiting, as I love languages, but the only word I knew in Korean was thankyou. Some nice young men taught me it on the plane there. So I used it as often as I could, and said it as enthusiastically as I could and as loudly as decorum permitted. It was greeted with a good-natured giggle and something which I presume meant "you are welcome".

Koreans are big into cosmetics. The word on the street is that BB cream was invented in Korea. They have a massive array of the stuff, from the cheap, to the foamy, to the powdery, to higher end. The have BB cream specifically for men! They have even developed CC (colour concealer???) cream! Their cosmetics are relatively cheap (again, most countries are compared with Australia) and of quite good quality. It seems like every second shop is a cosmetics shop, and they often have 2 for 1 deals going. They have all sorts of skincare lines, pills, potions, serums, correcting creams, pore reducers, brighteners, whiteners. It was quite overwhelming, particularly to a cosmetics neophyte like myself. One little trick that I did not fall for was the "collagen water" or "skin balancing water" - basically a cordial-like drink sold at these cosmetics shops to make you prettier.

Plastic surgery is also quite big business; though I could not read the writing, there were a lot of ads on the subway for plastic surgery judging by the before and after pictures. Westernisation is the name of the game, and big eyes, full cheeks and less-flat noses are de rigeur.

Also, much like in Japan, most ladies carried a designer handbag. Or a good fake. Designer handbags are also de rigeur. How does the average person afford them, I wonder?

The traditional Korean food was in a similar vein to Japanese food, very clean flavours, but quite heavy on the meat and seafood. Perhaps not as fancily presented. Myself and a few colleagues partook of a Korean dynastic-style banquet. All average Korean meals are served with Kimchi (pickled cabbage with garlic, chilli, ginger and sesame oil) and other unidentified substances.

Like Japan, department stores are a big thing. The food courts in the bottom floor are unbelieveable, and they have lots of samples. I did a few laps, stealing little morsels.

I am always very interested in the history of a country I visit, and Korea has a very varied history. On my couple of days as a tourist, I saw a few museums, but filled the gaps with wikipedia. I found the War Museum quite one sided. Basically, (and apologies if anyone knows better than me and you can feel free to politely correct me) but a brief history is this:

  • Korea is from the word Goryeo, which was one of the first dynasties.
  • From the 1300s to the 1800s, after the Goryeo dynasty, was the Joseon dynasty. Lots of good things happened during this period; the Hangul script was developed (prior to that they used Chinese or Japanese), they were big into Confucius, they developed their culture. A few times, the Japanese tried to Annexe them, and banned the use of Korean Language and basically suppressed everyone.
  • From the late 1800s/ early 1900s, to just prior to WW2, the Japanese ran the place.
  • WW2 occurred. Japan was bombed. Korea was taken from the Japanese and split into halves; the Russians influencing the communist north, and the Yanks influencing the capitalist south.
  • in 1950, North Korea decided that there needed to be a unified Korea, so with the assistance of the Chinese and Russians, they invaded South Korea. Seoul fell soon after. The US and UN were quick to retaliate, and sides changed a few times. After the war was fought, the division basically went back to where it was, and the border is now heavily fortified (the so called Demilitarised Zone, the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters).
  • Mainly it was US soldiers helping out (this is the basis of the series MASH) but there were contingents from Australia, New Zealand, Colombia and others. 
  • The Korean war was not well known about, as it was soon after WW2 and then there was Vietnam. It was really the first big Cold War stoush.
  • The South Korean economy flourished from about the 1960s. Many big brands that we know and love, like LG, Samsung, Hyundai, Kia and Daewoo are Korean.
Now, the US influence is undeniable. American chains are everywhere, and Koreans who speak English often do so with an American accent. The rates of obesity are higher than nearby Asian countries.

It is kind of sad that Korea has never really had charge of Korea. They have never had self-determination, and it is hard for them to have a visible individual culture appreciated by many foreigners, like they do say in Japan.

Well, that was a rather long babble! Please enjoy my photographs.

view from Hotel - Happy Valley, HK

Lychee Mojito, Sevva, HK
View from Sevva, HK

Tory Burch Wrist Candies, My immaturity

Me displaying chinese egg tart. Yum.

Veuve et Gateau. Mais Oui.

Pork and Truffle Dumplings (OH YEAH), Din Tai Fung.

Bibimbap, Korea

Kimchi and Other Unidentified foodstuffs. No, I didn't.

The Secretary General of the UN said hello.

Amazeballs Korean orchestra.

Nanta. Google 'em.
Little drummer teenagers.

Ice sculpture. OTT, tacky, but a bit awesome.

Gas mask access on subway. (!)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

On travelling alone.

This Post is dedicated to fellow sassy solo female travellers, Kathryn and Phil.

Greetings from Gangnam.

It has been grand. More on it later, though.

Something that somebody said to me today has got me thinking about this topic, so here it is.

The conference has been quite busy, and, tonight I was looking forward to just chilling out with some of Colonel Sanders finest and a glass or two of vino. However I bumped into a few of the other conference delegates (big wigs in Diabetes) who I had previously spoken with at the conference, at the hotel. They were coming in from dinner. I asked them if they wanted to accompany me for a vino at the hotel bar.

The Prof (older gentleman) apologised, citing tiredness - indeed, he looked tired. He asked, in a concerrned, fatherly way, "do you not have any friends here?". I quickly replied "no, no, but it's fine, I have travelled by myself a lot". I gave him a big, confident smile.

I have bumped into colleagues here, but I am essentially here alone. And it really is ok. I am ok.

Travelling alone really opens you up to the world, in a way that travelling accompanied does not.

It's good, in many ways, mainly because you can run to your own timetable. Be spontaneous. Meet people. Travelling alone, far from making me frightened, has reinforced in me that most people are kind, when it comes right down to it.

I am quite good at striking up a chat with people, making friends, gaining confidences. This comes in handy.

You have to really take notice of what is going on around you. This is important for safety as well as fully enjoying the environment you are in. You meet people and do fun things that you would not be able to do normally. Some of the most fun and exciting things I have done on travels have been while travelling alone.

Right now, I am happy in my life. I text/ chat with my fella (in Paris) when I feel the need to share something. It is lovely to be able to do that, and it makes the travelling alone a bit easier.

I have been travelling at some of the most lonely and vulnerable times in my life. At those times, it really does hit you how alone you are, and it can make you feel very, very small. The loneliness can be so acutely painful that you just want the ground to swallow you up. I have been there. Oh yes. And those wines you swig to give you the confidence to meet people can be a double-edged sword. I am not ashamed to say that I have quietly blubbed over trendy bars the world over.

Sometimes, there is nobody there to save you. You float down to the bottom of whichever psychological hole you are in. There, you only have your own resources to get you out. And you get through it. I have alluded to this in my "about Cilosophy" post. My travels to San Fran and Albuquerque last year were very lonely and fraught, but the darkness precipitated a moment of clarity and a sense of worth and purpose that had eluded me for .... for a long time.

Once, when I was in Iceland, in 2011, I was so miserable. I had wanted to see Iceland for so long, but  I was so lonely and miserable I cried all day while seeing the sights. I thought "I have to get home". I had arranged to book earlier fights home. I had to cancel my last night's accommodation, and I started talking with the lady at reception. I started crying. She was so nice. I asked her if she wanted to share a pizza for dinner with me. She obliged and we had a good heart to heart. She procured me a nice (free) glass of vino from the bar. She told me that I had came across so confidently, and that she wondered who I was and what I did, when I had first seen her at check in. She was of Indian descent, and from Singapore. She had been married to an Icelandic man and they had a little girl together, but they had divorced. She stayed on in Reykjavik to be with her daughter, even though her family was far, far away. Her name, as I remember, was Geetha.

Then there is the story of my Spanish Guardian Angels.

Just after I ended it with my ex, I had an exhilarating but ill-advised holiday fling. He was cute and I did not suffer any thing that would have warranted an awkies visit to my GP.

I think, in retrospect, the trip to Dubai alone was not that great an idea. I think the staff at the hotel thought I was a hooker. Oh well. Lesson learned.

It has been hard writing this post, it has bought back a few painful memories, but it has also served to remind me of the fact that hard times pass, usually with a new strength and knowledge at the end of it.

Take care, and big hugs, and best wishes, wherever in this amazing world you are. x.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Hong Kong


This post is bought to you by the new bluetooth keyboard that I bought in Wanchai! It will make my ipad posts easier!

I am now at the airport, about to leave for Seoul. The last 3 nights have been spent in Hong Kong, just having a holiday, and visiting my friend, A.

I met A in Melbourne, via a meetup group, and we quickly became friends, each liking each other's forthrightness. She had followed a boy to Hong Kong. I was a bit worried about her, as there were a few signs that she might be having difficulties. She was not able to easily get a job as a pharmacist, and, as she had no work, she had a bit of trouble making friends. She did have an Auntie here. Plus there is that natural worry that goes with seeing a friend go to a new country for a relationship.

Indeed, she did feel a bit lonely, but my concerns re: following the boy were unfounded; I met him a couple of times on this trip and he was lovely. He was financially supporting my friend and he really did seem to like her. I am really happy for her, and them.

It was a bit of a drawn-out trip, as I first flew into Seoul then doubled back to HK. I was flying at the pointy end of the plane so I was quite well rested (and full of satay sticks). The nice folks at Cathay also upgraded me from other pointy end of the plane (ie up the back with the dunnies) to premium economy. It was not business class but I did not complain. Only thing I had to figure out was the toilet etiquette (always hard when you are sitting on a window seat with a 6'5" German - Wanted to Pee Pee but felt I needed to hold it in). In the end he was ok, he is probably used to ladies with small weedy bladders!

I have been to Hong Kong before, and, on arrival, I remembered why I was excited. I find all the infectious disease protection paraphernalia (ie the fever detection cameras, the public health messages, the hand sanitiser) quite exciting. I don't know why. One of my favourite movies is Outbreak, with Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo.

Plus, there are the two national sports of shopping and eating.

The former, I am an aspirant rather than an elite. I don't have the finances to spend up big, and cannot  rationalise getting into debt for big ticket items. Plus I suffer from a quite a lot of shopper's guilt (there is an whole other post in there).

The latter, as you may have gathered with previous posts, I am a champion. Defitely the top of the amateur leagues, anyway. One of my favourite aspects of travelling is eating the food, and if it is eaten at the top of a tall building with a nice view, so much the better. I ate some great food, a lot of which is in photographs below.

My friend and I did quite a lot of window shopping. HK has a lot of folks with a lot of disposable income, and it seems that every second shop sells either luxury goods like Louis Vuitton or Bulgari, or Precious Jewellery.

One great shop that I love in Hong Kong is one called Brand-Off, where they have second-hand designer wallets and handbags. If you have a spare AUD $6,000 you can buy a Hermes Birkin bag; a fraction of the new cost (!). I may have fell in love with one of the studded Balenciaga bags, but I just could not do it. Not this time. Maybe when I come up with my cure for what I am researching.....

Unfortunately, clothes shopping is a bit of a loss in HK if you are an average westerner, it just makes one feel like a Boombah. For the most part, the shoes are similarly teensy, but I did manage to get my hands on some absolutely BOSS shoes in my size at a discount. They are snakeskin loafer type jobbies with a silver cap. I know. BOSS. I will post photo.

Bobbi Brown cosmetics were doing makeup lessons for free, so I managed to snaffle one of those (it was not easy to find an appointment but I am nothing if not determined). I got the nice little lady to put on some makeup for me, I have always wanted to know how to do eyes, and she matched my eyeshadow with my eye colour to do a lovely and easy smoky eye. I then sprung for some of the cosmetics (a foundation, some eyeshadow, and a blush). I had been after a BB cream but found it might have been a bit too oily for my skin.

Also on the agenda was some sightseeing, and, A had posited a trip to Stanley on the bus. She suggested that we sit on the top deck so we could have a nice view. It was a very curvy journey, and  only after the nausea hit I remembered my propensity towards motion sickness. As I also had blocked ears and sinuses, it became a bit of a grind and we had to abort the mission at repulse bay. Sweaty and pale (me) and okay (A), we staggered into a posh bar for some air conditioning and solid ground. They nearly turned us away, but A bossed them around in Cantonese so it was all good.

When we got back into town, I went searching for some antihistamines. One of my favourite things to do is find medicines overseas that are only available on prescription in Australia. It is my way of rebelling. I got some good, proper antihistamines and decongestants, no namby pamby stuff.

The piece de resistance, meal wise was on our final night, we went to a place called Din Tai Fung. It has (and correct me if I'm wrong) Cantonese/Taiwanese food, including fantastic dumplings, and the ones with soup in them that are all the rage in Melbourne. The best, most amazing egg fried rice ever, which was sumptuous and eggy without being greasy. The also had pork dumplings with truffle- that's three of my favourite things right there. It went perfectly with the Tsingtao beer, as though they had been matched by a master Sommelier. Apparently there is a DTF in Sydney, but it is not a patch on this one.

Yesterday, (am continuing this post from Seoul) I left Hong Kong. I managed to find my new signature lippy in the airport, under time pressure. It is appropriately called House Wine. It, unfortunately was sold out, so I went and had a real one before I boarded the plane.

I realise this post is quite a bit about cosmetics. I am becoming a bit obsessed. Perhaps it has something to do with being on the wrong side of 30, or perhaps it is because everyone is so well groomed in Asia and I felt I was letting down the side. Oh well.

In the meantime, please enjoy my photos, I can't quite download them here, you can follow me on Instagram @cillajean79 to have a nosey.
--------------Will post about Seoul Anon.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

My finest facebook status updates. My new girl-crush.

I always take pride in my Facebook Status Updates. I make sure they are properly spelled and are the distilled more interesting parts of my life. I try not to get ranty, hateful, whingy or offensive. I have been complimented on their quality. Here are some of my recent ones.

Got 5 hours and 2 peoples worth of work done in 3.5 hours and by myself.
It's only 5 hours away from Offspring.
50 hours till the weekend and seeing Jesus Christ Superstar (yes I will sing all the words out loud)
3 days 20 hours till a lovely roast dinner at Epocha, then a music Gig
5 days 23 hours till I fly off to Seoul.

I'm not counting though.

 I have been told I have a very expressive face.
Today, after my 90 minute drive down (c)Punt road, I was wearing my "quit your yapping and make me my goddamn coffee" face.
The Barista didn't see it.

 Listening to Triple j countdown. Used to think the song "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails was filth. I still think it's filth, but I like it.

I am in bed with a sexy man who has made me coffee and is about to make pancakes.
(Hope my boyfriend doesn't mind...)
Hee hee!
Happy Sunday!


Had to explain to my 64 year old professor of medicine PhD supervisor what "bitch-slapped" meant. I also had to explain that I am from Werribee so some strange stuff can come out of my mouth sometimes. 

Soundbite of the day.
Drawing blood from an older male patient.
I said "sorry, hope that didn't hurt".
He replied "I've been married. I know what pain is".


On my trial I am putting my older folks on strict optifast with the aim of achieving ketosis.
The theory is that ketosis improves muscle mass and cognitive functioning.
I have just told a lady who is sticking to the diet strictly that I am breeding a super-race of older, stronger, smarter people in my dastardly plan for world domination.
I think she liked that.


I have been known to unfriend people (not actual friends, just peripheral people) who put whingy or bunny-boiling posts. I don't need my feed filled with it.

I just need to spend less time on there. It is not a good or appropriate place to debrief.

I have just got my new cookbook in the mail. It is called Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. She is a very Pretty English Lass. Kind of like a young Nigella. Her recipes are very easy and tasty. 

In other news, I have been churning out some abstract art. In Tuesday's class, we worked with Impasto medium, which adds texture to acrylic paint. Here are my works. 

I am HANGING out for leave. Soo looking forward to getting on that plane. I will be at the pointy end of it. I will have a glass of champagne for you. And you. And you. All of you.

I had some blog visitors from all over the world - Israel, USA, Indonesia. You there - come say hello! Don't be shy! 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Public Holiday Weekends and PhD-itis. Cappuccino competition.

Harro, and a happy Queens Birthday (or Normal Monday) to you.

Another grinding, busy week, culminating on Friday. The degree of difficulty of everything on Friday was higher, because I felt a bit tired, but also just because they were difficult. I got yelled at in Arabic (via an interpreter), twice in a row, for starters. Then I had to give difficult news.

But I did lots of fun stuff, starting on Thursday evening. One of my girlfriends, M, invited me to a Thermomix party. I was well impressed, despite the $1950 price tag. It is an appliance that I think I will use. You can even make bread, from Milling the flour to the finished product, without even getting your fingers dirty. See? There is a raw baguette on the left, on the right is a yummy and very healthy beetroot salad, and in the rear right is the machine itself. Isn't it pretty?

The woman who ran the party, my gf's sister, is vegan. We had vegan custard. It was not flash but it was ok. I have told the fella that we will get one together when we moved in. To further my cause, whenever I see any food on the telly, I tell him that we can cook that in a thermomix. I will grind him down, hopefully.

On Friday evening I went to go see the Great Gatsby with that same gf. The costumes were very pretty, as were the actors. Carey Mulligan (as Daisy Buchanan) was elfin and breathy, and Joel Edgerton (as Tom Buchanan) was impressively brutish. I was less impressed by Isla Fisher. Leo, as Gatsby, was great too. I remember reading the book in year 12, and enjoying it. It is very relevant today, and serves as a reminder to hold on to what is real, because many things (and people passing through your life) are fleeting, or can potentially create a lot of damage on their way through.

First, though, we went to Shakahari in Carlton for some grub. My gf is vego. Fortunately, the food is yummy and I didn't miss the meaty goodness too much.

We stopped in at Brunetti afterwards. The new location, where Borders used to be, is lovely.

Saturday began the weekend of Brunches. The first one was fairly healthy. The cafe proprietors at Julio (a cafe near me) really know how to make a cappuccino. They don't use the fact that it is a cappuccino as an excuse to make it weak. They put froth on there, plus a generous sprinkling of chocolate powder. Behold.

The fella and I headed down to his house, via Chapel st. I saw Burch and Purchese sweet studio and on a whim decided to go pay them a visit. The photo is not great quality but you may discern a chocolate Terrarium. Behind it is Darren Purchese, one of the owners and a sorta-celebrity-chef. He made a crack about Dannii Minogue instagramming the terrarium and calling it tres chic.

If Dannii Minogue has said it, it must be true.

There were some uber-impressive cakes and sweeties. White chocolate with roasted quinoa, anyone? They had smoked white chocolate, too. We had some chocolate with honeycomb and popcorn. Light and healthy, as it has vegetables.

I went for a run along the beach (gettting yelled at by grumpy older female cyclist for changing direction suddenly to take a drink which did disturb my mojo a little) then the fella and I went out for some Steaky goodness. No photo, as I nommed it.

Saturday night, at about 2am, I had a bit of a meltdown. I woke up in a real (work and PhD related) panic, which I had not done for a while (but used to do regularly when I had to look after 40 patients on my ward). I bounced off the walls for a little while. I think the presence of rip-roaring PMS was not helping either.

The fella was lovely, and did a great job of talking me down off the roof, bless him. Plus I took some panadiene (neck was still giving me gip) and swigged a bit of Pedro Ximenez. Though I got back to sleep, Sunday was a bit of a write-off, and I felt crappy most of the day. I did catch up with some other girlfriends for brunch, and was suitably sunny. Most of the rest of Sunday was spent sitting on the couch, drinking wine and eating cheese. If you are going to feel crappy, probably best to do so while consuming wine and cheese, no?

This morning, I caught up with another GF (who is about to head OS for a month) for brunch. We went to the Hardware Societe (which she lives in an apartment above so knows the staff). I had the croque madame. It was made on brioche. It was light, but still rich. Here it was, before I nommed it.

The more observant of you will have noticed the presence of another cappuccino in the top right hand corner of the picture. Julio's capp was superior.

This arvo, as I type, I am in at work. Yes, distasteful. There are quite a number of loose ends I need to tie up before I go away, and I won't have a great deal of time to do them this week. It is not great for me, as I am tired and headachey, plus work has already invaded my weekend in the form of a number of phone calls and issues I had to help sort out.

I am super looking forward to going away. It will be strict phone-free time, apart from the Fella and maybe my Mum (if I can manage it)....

'Scuse my work related whinging, peeps. :D

Have a good week, 'kay?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Men of Offspring

Ok so it's no secret that I live for Wednesday nights (second to weekends, and holidays) when Offspring is screening.

I only really got into it from the second series, but I think it is warm, funny and clever, with (mostly) likeable, evolving characters, lots of eye candy, and lots of great Melbourne streetscapes.


Nina and Billie are the Protagonists, but I must say that sometimes I find them a bit grating. I love them and everything, but the cringe factor is high with them.

Nina is a worst-case scenario person. Reminds me uncomfortably of myself. She is also very awkward, which causes some facepalm (but admittedly very funny) moments.

Billie is a bit of a bull in a china shop. She can be a bit thoughtless (and perhaps even a bit bullying) of Nina. I want Neens to man the hell up and stand up to Billie.

I think Eloise is a quick distraction and will fade out in the next couple of episodes.

I am starting to warm to Zara, it is lovely seeing her softer side.

The really interesting part of the series though is seeing how the man-characters are developing.

Mick - He is such a thoughtful husband, and a very grounding influence for Billie. He appreciates her but keeps her from getting too bossy. It is interesting to compare Mick and Billie's relationship with Patrick and Nina's.

Jimmy - He is probably my favourite character (other than Billie and Nina) on this show. He has grown from an irresponsible, flighty and haphazard boy into a strong, supportive father and partner. Seriously, how well has he manned up since Zara got knocked up? His gentle persistence and abiding love wore the sometimes cold Zara down.

And how lovely was it when he took the baby to hospital so that Zara could see the bubba chuckle? I think that even melted Kim's frozen heart, and made my ovaries jump.

Patrick - He is really starting to get in touch with his emotions, which is nice. Sometimes it is a bit misguided (the talk he had with Eloise in the bar should have been had with Nina) but he is getting there. Nina seems to respond well when he is calm, firm and loving.

Darcy (or Darcehole) - is being a bit of a tool at the moment. Seriously! How he treated Billie with the business! Just being a sulky so and so. And now gadding off and not being around for Nina to have her bub! To paraphrase Geraldine, how many mid-life crises does one need????

Clegg - At first I thought he was a bit of a tosspot. Mildly amusing, though. My opinion of him changed in a heartbeat when, after Cherie broke up with him, he offered her a chocolate crackle. What a guy!

Philip Noonan -nnnnnerd! In the nicest possible way. I won't even mention the pinkle moment. Oh wait. I just did.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Bodywork and balance

Happy Sunday evening peeps. Hope you had a good weekend!

Every so often, especially when I have been busy and or stressed, I get a nasty crick in my neck. Sometimes my lower back, but mostly my neck. It goes into my shoulder blade and down my arm. Moving my head is very difficult, and I am in a world of pain.

I am a bit prone to musculoskeletal pain. I think it is my way of showing stress, when on the surface of things I have my game face on.

I had an episode of this neck pain yesterday. My neck was stiff and sore, and my upper back on the left side was hard as a rock and painful to touch.

It was a bit miserable. My head felt like it couldn't get the right position on my neck.

I rubbed tiger balm on it, commandeered the fella to perform massage on demand and whimpered like a little girl while he did so. I took panadiene, had an early arvo wine and had a nap. Naps make most things better. But it didn't really help this.

So, on a dinner out with friends last night, I used alcohol as analgesia. Clever me. I was in pain but I didn't care.

Luckily though, one of my fellow diners is an acupuncturist. She sat beside me and gently started to percuss the area. She then took my hand and started massaging the outside of the hand, in between the base of the little finger and the wrist. That area, though it was far from the painful area, really hurt when she massaged it.

Then I felt it in the area of the pain. Then I felt a bit sick. Then emotional. Then I felt pain in both elbows. It was a strange release.

She asked me if I had a body therapist (I presume a masseur or some such)...I don't.

We all expect a lot from our bodies and minds, but don't give them a lot back. Some of us run in a paradigm of deprivation- we need to do more on less sleep, lose weight, exercise more. We run the risk of running on empty.

So to avoid some more of these episodes, I am going to do a little something for myself. I will book in with Elaine the acupuncturist. Restore my energy, the qi. Even as a hardcore scientist/medical type, I am accepting of some alternative therapies. Acupuncture actually has quite a good evidence base, and, by some accounts, can be used successfully in some chronic pain conditions where conventional treatments have failed.

I have been for a swim today- a kind of active relaxation.

So, tell me. Do you swear by any alternative therapies? Do you perform these checks and balances? Or are you skeptical?