Mix Tape….

Whether it’s live or on records, tapes, cd’s or downloaded, most of us like music.

The genre we prefer may differ from individual to individual but we all make a connection to music in some way. Whether it’s classical, instrumental, rock, pop, country, hip-hop, punk, funk, folk, big band, heavy metal, jazz, electronic, dance or the stuff they play in elevators….we all have our favourite style, we all have pieces of music or songs that we connect with in some way.

For many of us and definitely me, music is a direct connection to emotion and a source of nostalgia. I can listen to a song and it will instantly transport me back in time, it can remind me of holidays, old boyfriends, old friends…..it will take me directly to where I was when I first heard it. Music has the power to change a mood, a source of inspiration or commiseration. It can calm us down…or lift us up. It helps us escape in bad times and celebrate in good times.

Sometimes it seems like only the person who wrote they lyrics to a particular song we connect with understands exactly how you are feeling at any given moment. I can listen to a song if I am feeling down and feel like the song was written just for me….I can cry and weep and know that someone gets me.

If I had to choose one era of music to listen to for the rest of my life it would be the 70’s. I have a great love of 70’s music, particularly 70’s classic rock or easy listening type of stuff. When I hear songs from my childhood, I am transported back in time. I am always saying….Oh, this song reminds me of when I was a kid and we used to live here , of that birthday or that Christmas, or walking to school, or that girl I was friends with, that neighbour who was really funny…..or one of a million little things, that for whatever reason, get tucked away deep in our memory bank, only to be revived on hearing a certain song or piece of music.

Yesterday I thought, if I were given some radio play time and could compile my own play list….what songs would make the cut. What songs are my very favourite, that I can listen to over and over again and never tire of, what songs do I connect with the most, what songs comfort me, uplift me, make me happy?

In a 90 min set, on advertisement free radio, I’d get to play around 30 songs. So, here’s my carefully selected play list…my perfect mix-tape from the 70’s.

1. Gerry Rafferty – Right Down the Line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSfOB8ANdWU&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

2. Cat Stevens – Peace Train.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sjSHazjrWg&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

3. Seals and Crofts – Diamond Girl.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5b65hociXU&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

4. Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJe1iUuAW4M&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

5. Rufus and Chaka Khan – Tell Me Something Good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm_cFzVAoo8

6. Elton John – Benny and The Jets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vLlpJc9mW0

7. Looking Glass – Brandy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-tRXewCAmU&feature=bf_prev&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

8. Fleetwood Mac – Landslide.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM7-PYtXtJM

9. Hall and Oats – You Make My Dreams Come True.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_I4wtNPv5w&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

10. Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXq81-cGJr4

11. Simon and Garfunkel – The Boxer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2DglHU04rQ&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

12. Richard Clapton – Deep Water.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmH2BeDeuLc&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

13. Steely Dan – Do It Again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgYuLsudaJQ&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

14. Manfred Mann – Blinded by The Light.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcWVL4B-4pI

15. Boz Scaggs – Georgia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzfh7sLwYaw

16. Neil Young – Heart of Gold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh44QPT1mPE&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

17. Gordon Lightfoot – Sundown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOOs-MqDOI0&feature=bf_prev&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

18. Bob Marley – Is This Love?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EztmEF24fdo

19. Procol Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb3iPP-tHdA

20. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fxoke4yuWlI&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

21. Bob Seger – Still The Same.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjDpKeiYxOU

22. Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SPogGqCgeM

23. Paul McCartney and Wings – Band on The Run.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBX2dySWGew

24. Axiom – A Little Ray of Sunshine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWOJ6c9JUrA&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

25. The Manhattans – Shining Star.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_VpjSv_4QM

26. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCQTr8ZYdhg&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

27. Billy Paul – Me and Mrs Jones.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWOTdt9Bovk&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

28. Gladys Knight and The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v78-ftcqpNw

29. Country Radio – Gypsy Queen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9MhOEc7Zc8&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

30. The Steve Miller Band – Rock Me Gently.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ooek1GKaCvI&feature=bf_next&list=PL69D36B4A5DD8064F

So, there it is, my play list….my mix tape. I hope the youtube links all work so you can listen to my selections with just one click, (probably best to right click and open a new tab)….if not, you can find all the songs on my list be going straight to youtube and doing a search.

 

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London….

I live in London.

The meaning and the way I feel about those words changes from time to time.

Some days I’m quite blasé about the whole thing. Yeah, it’s where I live…yada-yada, no big deal, it’s just a city….whatever.

Then other days, I’m absolutely amazed. OMG! I live in Londuuuuun! How brilliant is that! 

It’s where on any given day I can see Big Ben or Parliament House, red double-decker buses and Black Cabs, Tower Bridge or Buckingham Palace….the very same things that people who live in other parts of the world can only dream about.

My Grandmother is from London and despite living in Australia for 60 odd years, still retains her very Queen like accent, I’d listen intently to her stories of growing up in London and going to boarding school. Back then, I imagined it would have been adventurous and exciting and lots of fun, just like the Enid Blyton, St. Clare’s and Malory Towers series of books I loved to read as a young girl, though I am sure the reality for my nan was nothing like the adventures those girls got up to. Still…I always fantasized about the day I’d get to go to boarding school in England. That day never came sadly, but my yearning to one day see London for myself stayed with me.

I was 35 when I finally made it here, by chance. I met my husband back in Melbourne 10 years ago. We were dating for a bit but I had no plans to include a man in my life at the time….I was going to move to Queensland and get myself some sunshine. Anyhow, you know what they say about making plans….life tends to get in the way, right.

Next thing I know, Marc and I are a couple, are on a plane and then touchdown…London Heathrow airport!

It was very exciting. We had no jobs, no plans and bugger all money. We found a hotel from a noticeboard at Paddington Station, grabbed a cab, went and checked in, threw the luggage in our room, then we were off walking. I had only one destination in mind.

Walking through Hyde Park and Green Park was just lovely, all the statues and gorgeous big trees, people walking their dogs and jogging around The Serpentine…..but when I saw, for the first time, with my very own eyes Buckingham Palace….I burst into tears. I was so happy. Marc thought it was cute that I got so emotional, I was a little embarrassed at how overwhelmed I felt. It’s hard to explain but it was kind of surreal, (I hate that word and try to not use it….but it really does fit here).

I had seen it on television, in films, I had read about it in books and magazines, I’d had my nan and others who had seen it for themselves try to describe it….but being there and seeing for myself, in person….well, it was just fantastic. All I could think was…I’m in London. London! I’m really here….at Buckingham Palace. Pinch. Yep….this is really happening…..more tears.

Over the years we have lived here, it’s really become home. I no longer feel like Australia is home. I still use the expression, “back home”….but, home in the Australian sense means where we are from, originally. Home, in the British sense is more than where we live, it’s where we feel  truly at home.

There are things I miss about Oz, and always will. I miss the casualness and friendliness of the place. It took me a good 6 months before I realised that people in London weren’t being rude, they were just keeping to themselves, minding their own business….not something  that happens in Oz. People in London will happily come for dinner or coffee if invited, but rarely, if ever, just “pop round” unexpectedly like they do in Oz….I miss that. I miss someone just being in the area, calling to tell me to put the kettle on, they’ll be there in 5mins.

But London has so much to be happy about, to be grateful for….so much that makes me love the place.

Yeah, the skies are grey a lot of the time….but when the sun shines through those clouds, Oh, how the people rejoice. People instantly get a pep to their step and will smile and say good morning. We do not take blue skies for granted here….it’s something to be celebrated. I like that.

Yeah, it  drizzle’s a lot, it can drizzle non stop for days, weeks even…..but when it stops, people will talk about it being a “nice day today”. I like that….focus on the good, focus on today.

The flats in London are fabulous, all that Georgian and Victorian architecture….I love it.

The galleries, are endless and free! Perfect for those drizzle and grey type days.

Want to see a play….no worries, take your pick….there must be at least 50 different choices in London on any given day.

The summer concerts and festivals pack every weekend with the very best in music that the world has to offer….and they are all here, in London….or not far from London, every weekend, every summer!

Want to duck over to Paris for lunch….no worries, the Eurostar will have you there in 2 and a bit hours. Pop over in the morning, come back after lunch. Easy. How could anyone not love that?

Europe is just over there….anywhere you want to fly to for the weekend, or a week, is just a quick flight  away. Zip to New York in around seven hours, Black Friday sales anyone? Brilliant.

I love walking along The Thames from Hammersmith, down to Putney, over the bridge, head to Barnes, stop for a pint and lunch, cross back over and head home through Chiswick. It’s a fabulous walk and a perfect way to spend a Sunday. Watching the rowing clubs practising on a misty morning, joggers out jogging, walkers out walking. I love it.

I could go on and on about London and all the fabulous little things that make it the greatest place to live….the sense of humour of Londoners is unique and very special. Grab a cab in London, they ALL know where they are going and boy-oh-boy do those cab drivers love a chat, I love that!

Portobello Market, Borough Market and Camden Market are brilliant. The sheer amount of choices one has in London is honestly mind boggling. The food, the pubs, the clothes, the parks….there’s something for everyone….all the time!

London is my home, she is a part of me now….and I am very happy about that.

Super Powers….

So, today I got to thinking about super powers.

What power would people choose?

X-Ray vision, Strength, Invisibility, Telekinesis, Mutation, Shape-Shifting, Flight, Speed, Teleportation….the list of possibilities is almost endless.

For me however, there’s only one option. Linguistics! If I could choose a super power, it would be fluency in every language on the planet.

I think if a person had the ability to understand and converse with every other person on earth, what an advantage in life that would be, can you imagine all one could achieve?

The first and most obvious thing to me would be eves dropping on everyone’s phone calls and gossiping conversations, I can’t even begin to explain how satisfying that would be, being the sticky nosed busy body that I am. I could be sitting at a cafe in some far away land, acting oblivious but actually listening intently to every word….that would be brilliant. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

I could work as an interpreter for the United Nations, IMF, NATO or MI6, FBI or ASIO. I’d get to hear all sorts of top-secret juicy information….yes, here’s the sticky nose thing coming out again.

I could infiltrate a crime syndicate or become a hostage negotiator. How exciting!

I could become a Diplomat and be posted to serve in any country on the planet, I’d attend Presidential parties and soirée’s full of fun and interesting people. Of course that position also comes with a much coveted Diplomatic Passport and Diplomatic immunity, both of which, I am sure, would be very handy to have. Oh joy of joys.

I could travel the world and order food anywhere I wanted and know exactly what I just ordered, I wouldn’t have to worry about ordering lamb chop casserole and ending up with a goats head stew.

I could catch planes, taxis, trains and buses with ease in foreign lands with no confusion, getting lost or desperately looking for someone who speaks English to help me.

I could read any book published in any language from any country. I could watch foreign films with no need for subtitles.

I could understand jokes from lost tribes….no more would I hear, “It’s funnier when you hear it in Chamicuro!”.

I think the ability to be the only person fluent in every language would be the single most powerful of all possible super powers.

I would be the worlds foremost hyperpolyglot!

What would you choose?

The Gambler in me….

Of course gambling isn’t always about winning. Along with the wins come losses. Lots of them. We don’t like to talk about the losses. Losing is not fun. Winning is fun. Losing makes you sad. Winning makes you happy. I like to be happy….let’s keep winning.

Two flies crawling up a wall….if there’s a prize to be won….then hell yeah, I’ll bet on ’em!

I have no interest in playing “for fun”. What’s the point? If there is a prize to be won, a trophy, a ribbon or money, then I’m going to try my hardest to win it. If there is no prize….then I won’t even bother trying, what a waste of time. It’s not about the participating for me….it’s the constant need to win. Winning is fun.

As a kid I loved “picking a horse”. My mum would have a bet on the races on a Saturday morning and once in a while she’d let us kids pick a horse and throw a dollar on it for us. Now, when my first horse won….I was hooked. Of course I didn’t know back then that it was called gambling….I also didn’t know that it would become a part of who I am for the rest of my life.

Back in Melbourne, Australia, when I became of legal gambling age, the really big day out at the races was saved for The Melbourne Cup. Held the first Tuesday in November, it is the race that literally stops a nation. The whole country comes to a standstill, really, everything stops for the race.

Need a heart transplant? Yeah, no worries mate, just give me 10 mins, the race is on!

Australians love their Melbourne Cup….put it this way, you’d struggle to find anyone in Australia who doesn’t know who “Phar Lap” was.

Getting all dressed up, slapping on some make-up, blow-drying the hair all pretty then throwing on a hat, filling the purse with a few hundies is all part of the process, the preparation for a day out, gambling, on the horses and I LOVE it, all of it.

We’re off and racing! The smell of the horses, the buzz around the bookmakers, placing the bet, the roar of people cheering on their horse….throw some bubbly into that mix and you have all that is required of a perfect day out.

Have you ever heard of tombola? It’s like a raffle but all the prizes are right there in front of you. 3 is my lucky number. Most things I win, have the number 3 in there somewhere.  I won $3,333 at Bingo once. Horse number 3 wins more often than not for me. I have 3 in my lottery numbers. I’ll insist on having the number 3 in any raffle tickets I buy. I’m a 3 kind of girl.

Anyhow, the church up the road was having their annual fair. I stumble across this tombola….instantly I was excited. Look at all the prizes I could win! For each quid, you get to pick 3 tickets. So I hand over my £3….this gave me 9 tickets. (3’s or multiples of 3 would surely fetch me a prize, right?). I stick my hand in the barrel, select my tickets and carefully start opening them. The number on the ticket must end in zero or five to win a prize.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing…WINNER number 35….nothing, nothing and nothing. So I head up to the lady and hand over my one winning ticket….she congratulates me and hands me back my prize, a cook book….The Hairy Bikers’  Best-Loved Recipes. I was so happy. Now sure, I probably could have gone to WHSmith and bought the book for 9 quid….but what fun would that be? Winning it, made having it, that much more special.

I love poker. I’m not very good at it, but I’ve won a few tournaments here and there. There’s a really big thrill that comes with winning a hand. It’s not even the size of the pot that is important (though the big pots do get the heart pounding)….it’s more about beating whoever I am playing against. Knowing that I have outplayed an opponent is an amazing thrill. The heart starts thumping, the palms start to sweat, the fingers shake as I rake in the pot and stack up my chips. It’s absolute magic. Then, I want to do it all over again….and again, and again.

Similar feelings overcome me when I play the slot machines, or as they call them in Australia, the pokies. There’s a real science to picking a winning machine, or you would think there was the way slot machine addicts carry on. Gamblers by nature are a pretty superstitious bunch of people, but the slot machine fans are in a different world of crazy. I too have been guilty of some weird behaviours….rubbing the machine for luck, placing good luck charms on my machine of choice, nearly always choosing a machine on the end of a row, playing the machine next to mine too, (a precautionary measure to stop anyone else from playing it and winning….no way I’m going to allow that to happen)!

I understand RNG. I understand odds and percentages. I understand it’s all luck. I also understand that I probably won’t win….but there in lies the glimmer of hope. Probably….it doesn’t mean that I won’t win….but it does mean that I might win. Right? Yeah, I’m right.

So, sat at a slot machine and I am in bliss. I can sit for hours watching the reels spin around and around. Hitting the bonus spin is real cause for celebration, light a cigarette, order a drink, check out the prize table….what do I need? Ok….initiate bonus spins, push….and we are off. Most times, the bonus spin feature will let us down by not performing to our expectations, we, as gamblers, are used to this….all a crappy bonus round means is that the next one will be much better. Right? I know I am right.

When I was on my cruise last Christmas….all must have been good in the world and the Gambling Gawds saw fit to hand me, on a silver platter, the perfect bonus round. I was playing around for a bit on a machine called Pompeii, then wouldn’t you know it….Veni, Vidi, Vici. I got the bonus round followed by the magical and ever elusive winning combination of a dolphin thingy, a volcano, a dolphin thingy, a volcano then another dolphin thingy. Boom-shaka-laka! Time for the happy dance. There’s nothing like it and the joy can’t be explained to a non gambler, they just don’t get it….but to a degenerate like myself, well it just made my whole day perfect. That win paid for our end of cruise bill, all the drinks, tours and extras….and there was still cash left over. Perfect!

All said and done, if I were diagnosed with a terminal illness and won the lottery all in the same week, I could think of no better way to “go out” than sitting at a slot machine with a bottle of Jack Daniels, a carton of Marlboro Lights and a big fat stack of $100 bills. Should I fall off the stool, stone cold dead, just cremate me and scatter my ashes down the Las Vegas Strip….I’ll be perfectly happy. Honestly.

Here’s two thumbs up to winning….gambling as it should be.

Internet Friends….

Back in the 70’s, when I was a child, making friends was easy. I grew up with two younger brothers, we were always out on our bikes or at the park playing. In fact….back then, mothers insisted kids get out of the house and get some fresh air. Constant words out of my mothers mouth were “Go outside and play, you kids aren’t going to sit around the house all day“.

So long as we were back in time for dinner….we were left to our own devices. We’d grab our bikes and off we’d go. We’d meet up with another pack of kids in the park and build a fort, or go play in someone’s cubby house, we’d climb and fall out of trees, ride our skateboards down steep streets, kick the football around or have competitions….who can run faster, jump higher or hold their breath the longest.

Life was simple.

Then the teenage years set in and things became more complex, more competitive. We formed clique’s. You were either part of the “in” crowd….or not. Teenagers want to be popular, they want to fit in….it’s very, very important to have the right clothes, have the right haircut, live in the right neighbourhood, play the right sports, take the right subjects at school and basically be everything everyone wants you to be…..instead of who you really are. No one is interested in who you really are….that’s not important at all. Being popular is far more important.

Fitting in as a teenager shouldn’t have been easy for me. We lived in government housing in the poor part of town and my parents didn’t have the money for the cool clothes required by teenagers, so I needed a trick up my sleeve….and I had one….I could talk….a lot!

Blag, blag, blag….I quickly figured out if you can make people laugh with a good bullshit story, you can stay on the “in“. Given my resources of a financial nature were non existent….I had to tap into my “gift of the gab”, as we like to say in Australia. I was told on more than one occasion that I could sell ice to the Eskimo’s. My teen years were great, some of the best years of my life. I was popular and grew up laughing and having a great time wagging school, experimenting with alcohol, learning to drive and getting into trouble.

Then comes the 20’s and 30’s. Those childhood and teen friendships become harder to maintain. Everyone is busy working, travelling, getting married and/or having babies. People move to different parts of the country….or the world. Only the heartiest of those “Wonder Years” friendships survive.

We now tend to be attracted to forming friendships with people who have adopted the same lifestyle choices as we have. Friends who have babies start spending more time with other parents out there, they can talk about baby shit all day long and be very happy. They take their kids to the same school, work in the school canteen with other mums, join the PTA and spend weekends together with other families watching the kids play sports.

Single friends tend to make friends with other single, outgoing party animals and spend every Sunday suffering hangovers together. They plan Friday night’s out, buy all the cool clothes and spend their wages on taxi’s, club cover charges….and booze.

The explorers amongst us meet up with other explorers and travel the world seeking out new adventures. They spend all their money on airline tickets and hotel rooms, their jobs are just a means to an end, something to provide the funding for travelling.

The workaholics team up with other workaholics and spend Friday nights at the pub, having a few drinks….talking about work. They put in 16 hour days and live life for work. Marriage, kids, partying and travelling aren’t on the radar….it’s all about climbing the corporate ladder.

In our 40’s and beyond….it’s harder to make new friends yet again. With everyone so busy all the time, no one has the time, nor the inclination to play the “getting to know you” game. It’s like the dating scene, isn’t it? Finding new people to share your life with who have similar interests….but how do we effectively and efficiently “weed out” the people who are just going to be too hard work to be friends with, or the ones you can’t be bothered to really get to know…..I want to met new people and form new friendships….but I’d rather just get right to the point? I really can’t be bothered with small talk….I’d rather meet someone and just hit it off right away. Laugh!

How do I do increase my social circle? For me, that has been the internet. Some of the nicest people I know, the people I feel a connection with, the people I care about, the people who make me laugh and the people I take an interest in…..are people I have never actually met.

That sounds weird doesn’t it.

Early on, I made friends online playing silly games on Facebook, Farmville, Petville, Cityville etc, etc. They were great “neighbours” and always sent me the required bits and bobs needed to keep the game running smoothly. I’ve long since given up on those games but I have kept some of my favourite neighbours as friends. I enjoy seeing what they post each day, hearing about family milestones and where they are going on holidays. We share emails and PM’s….and send gifts to each other across oceans. We have become friends….real friends.

I also met people on travel forums, in particular the Vegas forum. We’d chat about Vegas, all things Vegas. When we’d plan a trip….others we chat to on the forums would come and meet us in Vegas, in person. It’s fabulous to connect a name to a face and get to know that person in real life. I’ve since moved on from those forums, but the friendships have been maintained.

I recently had some friends come to my home for dinner, all three of whom I met on the Tripadvisor Vegas forum. Three nicer, funnier, intelligent or more interesting people on the planet you would struggle to find….and if it weren’t for the internet, I probably wouldn’t have ever met them.

Most of the people I have met since living in London, I have met while walking my dog. There’s a real network of “doggy” people out there and I have made some fabulous new friends that way. We have lunch and catch up for coffee, we talk about the dogs….and everything else that is going on in our lives.

I’ve made friends with neighbours….and when I have moved house, those friendships have been maintained also with the odd coffee here or a pop around for a chat, there.

My dearest, best friends live in Australia. I have known most of them for 10, 15 or 20 years. My BESTEST friend in the world and the mother of my gorgeous God Daughter, I have known for 30 years. I don’t get to see them often, living on the other side of the world and I miss them all very much. We talk on the phone and stay connected via Facebook these days….and I wish I could get back to Oz more often and see them.

So, this got me to thinking….even though I have made friends and developed friendships in a variety of ways, many of those friendships are now maintained online via email, Facebook and Skype. So, is a friendship that formed it’s foundations online any less of a real friendship? I think not.

Here’s a two big thumbs up for internet friends….making friends the new way,  in a new modern world. As it should be.

Technology….

Let’s set things straight from the get go. I am totally down with fire, the wheel and sliced bread. I have long seen clear and absolute advantages and the sheer convenience of being comfortable with all three. Much of what has been developed thereafter leaves me somewhat confused, bewildered and more than a little bit scared at times to be honest.

Computers and the internet in particular are the two things that scared me and sometimes still do scare me the most, yet the very same two things that most people, in the modern western world at least, would struggle to cope without. People run their life by computer, it’s how they do their work, chat to friends, buy their groceries, access music, book holidays, gather information and stay connected to the big wide world. I have also finally jumped on board…somewhat reluctantly, carefully, cautiously and with a very light touch over the past 10 years or so….but I’m here.

A dozen or so years ago, right before I met my husband, I were, what he and the other technology savvy, early adopting folk would commonly refer to as, a Luddite.

At my high school, in country Victoria, Australia, back in the 1980’s, computer studies, was an elective subject. In all my teenage wisdom, I had discarded the notion that one would ever need to know anything about computers, along with physics or advanced mathematics….what possible use could any of them be in real life. Sigh. Far more worthy of my time was drama class, now, that would definitely help me in my pursuit to become a world-famous actress…..but let’s save that story for another day.

Anyhooooo….moving right along. I got through my teens, twenties and much of my thirties without much need for computers, or physics or advanced mathematics for that matter, ( I laugh in the face of long division).  If I wanted music I bought a tape, or a record or a CD, if I wanted a holiday I went to a travel agent, if I needed to spell something I used a dictionary, if I wanted to add something up I used a calculator, if I wanted to talk to someone I’d pop around for a cuppa or call them on the one and only home phone, if I needed food I’d walk to the shop…..I’m sure you get the idea.

And then I met my husband,  Mr-Computer-Nerd-Extraordinaire. Shocked as he was at my inability to even know where to begin to turn on a lap top, he vowed to bring me, kicking and screaming if need be, to the 21st Century.

Many tears were shed and plenty of “fuck this shit’s” and “I can’t do it’s” flew regularly in our house. More than one time I slammed the computer lid down and stormed out of the room in pure frustration. He held steadfast though and eased me, ever so patiently into the modern world of computers and the internet. Actually, that last sentence is utter bullshit….at times he got angry and very frustrated, not so much at my lack of understanding, but at my unwillingness to open my mind, shut up, listen and learn. I was and sometimes still am, a stubborn student.

Steady as she goes and easy does it, one step and a time and little by little I began to learn. I started to understand and despite my stubbornness and sometimes even against my will, shit was sinking in….I was actually learning!

Before I knew it I was sending emails and zipping around on Google like an old hat. I would sit for hour upon hour looking up anything and everything to do with the CIA, FBI, Mossad, MI5 and MI6, ASIO and James Bond….(I was going through an “I wanna be a spy” phase, still am a bit). I would find recipes to cook and while away hours on real estate sites, looking at houses I’ll never be able to afford to buy. I’d Google the Top 10 of just about everything you can imagine and jot down, old school, with pen and paper my findings of the best hotels, yachts, cigars, watches, in-ground swimming pools, roller coasters etc, etc, etc. I have notepad after notepad full of this information….all of it I’m sure I will need one day, honestly.

I found travel sites like Tripadvisor and found forums where I could talk all day long if I wanted to about things I loved that other people loved too. I’d visit the Vegas forum every day and got to know all the regulars who post. It was like a little family and I loved them. We shared trip reports and inside jokes. I was really starting to get this whole computer malarkey and I began to wonder what my life had been like before a computer…..I struggled to remember how I survived, even a single day.

And then, along came Facebook, which totally changed my life. I played games and made friends. I could send messages and chat to people on the other side of the world. I joined groups with people who liked the same thing as me, I could put up photos and I’d cut and paste funny status updates that I’d stolen from others via my old friend Google.

And here we are today, a mere decade or so later and I am a blogger, writing this blog entry using Microsoft Word for the very first time. Again, on Marc’s suggestion, after losing day 2’s blog entry to cyberspace for reasons known only to the Internet Gawds…..and having to rewrite it, (after a few f-bombs and tears), I am again, learning something new. I don’t know how to save it yet or get it from here over to my blog, but I’m sure Marc will show me how when he get’s home..

Two thumbs up to computers and the internet for connecting even the most reluctant Luddite to the rest of the world….as it should be.

Julie and Julia….

One of my favourite films of all time is Julie and Julia. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s two stories intertwined. One story is about the early years of Julia Child’s cooking career set in the 1950’s played by Meryl Streep  and the other is about Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, a modern-day, NYC girl, in a depressing job,  who decides to cook every recipe in Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.

Yesterday, I too stepped into Julia Child’s cook book. I, however, had my eyes on just one prize….Boeuf Bourguignon!

So with a list of ingredients to buy I set off early. First stop was my butcher, I explained to him that I was making Boeuf Bourguignon, not just any Boeuf Bourguignon but Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and that I needed my pieces of beef cut perfectly to portion, I then watched him closely as he cut the meat into exactly 2 inch cubes for me. He found a very nice 6oz chunk of bacon and trimmed off the rind as the two parts will be used separately. Oh how I love a good old-fashioned butcher who appreciates how important it is for things to be done just right and only sells top quality, free range /organic meat…..as it should be. Thanks Rob!

Next stop was the wine shop. I explained again what I was making and asked for a recommendation. I was informed that a Domaine Les Fines Graves, 2010, Moulin-a-Ventz would be perfect. Oh, how I love an independent wine shop with staff who know exactly what wine will be perfect for your needs…..as it should be. Thanks Tom.

I happily skipped off, (yes, I really did skip), to my next destination…..the green grocer.

I actually had to head to four different grocers until I found one with the perfect tiny little baby onions and tiny little baby mushrooms. My greengrocer hand-picked every onion and mushroom. I had explained the importance of uniformity and that I was making a very special dish….I also picked up some fresh Bay Leaf, Parsley and Thyme. Oh, how I love a local greengrocer who takes pride in selling only the best, fresh,  yummy produce…..as it should be. Thanks Maureen.

So with loot in hand and a quick sidestep for some beer for Marc, a 1/2 bottle of bubbly for me and an even quicker whizz round Marks and Spencer for some odd bits and bobs, I headed home to get cracking on with this masterpiece.

Well….first thing I needed to do when I returned home was to pat the meat dry, between paper towels and then set about to peeling 24 teeny, tiny, itty-bitty, little baby onions. This took time, considerable time, painstaking, fiddly time…..but it was worth it. Sweet little babies all undressed and waiting to be tossed in bubbling butter and perfectly browned. I washed and dried the mushrooms then sautéed those in a heart stopping amount of butter also.

To cut a long story short….I browned the beef in a cracking hot pan, I simmered and sautéed the bacon after chopping it into 1/2 inch lardons. I floured and I stirred, I soaked the meat in the wine, added stock and herbs and chopped vegetables. I strained and stirred and carefully basted my way through the next 3 hours…..and finally when the meat fell apart with a fork and the sauce had thickened, my Julia Child Boeuf Bourguignon was ready to eat. I served it with some mashed potatoes that contained lots and lots of butter.

My husband and guests were all well satisfied. I received many words of praise and more than a few mmmmm’s and ahhhhh’s that made the whole process totally worth the time and effort.

Usually I’m a kind of  “that’s about the right amount” type of cook. An adjustment here, and extra pinch there….leave this out and put that in. But for Julie and Julia both….it was required of me to show the utmost respect by following the recipe exactly….and I’m so glad I did, because the recipe as written is perfect, the result even more perfect.

Thanks to Julie and Julia for introducing me to the perfect Boeuf Bourguignon and inspiring me to cook it……as it should be.