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Archive for February, 2014

It’s already been a week since the end of the conference in Melbourne.  Hard to believe.

Sunday:  I flew to Auckland with the  boss.  Mt Taranaki was fully visible above the cloud.  We flew over several eroded, denuded hills.  The erosion looked like comets dotted on the hills.

Mt Taranaki just visible top centre

Mt Taranaki just visible top centre

In Auckland we met our other colleague and sat together on the plane to Melbourne (I didn’t get the window seat, or any further window seats).  We had heard it was going to be 40 deg C on our arrival in Melbourne.  We watched as the temperature outside the plane went from minus 19C to 20, 27, 30 (at just 1000 feet above).  It was 37 on the runway with the plane still moving.

On arrival, a taxi to our destination.  We had been given 2 addresses for our accommodation – we figured one was our actual accommodation and the other the check-in desk (there were several apartment buildings).  As it happened, the one we arrived at was where our accommodation was at.  It was a three-bedroomed apartment.  It didn’t compare with our previous accommodation in Brisbane last year.  The lounge was small, the balcony miniscule, but we did have a view over the casino and river.  I was delegated the room with 2 single beds while the others got double beds (one with ensuite) and the morning sun.  Oh well.  Can’t have it all.  We headed out to find a supermarket to buy breakfast food, then wandered along the river front, where they still had stalls set  up for Chinese New Year.  We watched the dancing dragon, then decided on an Italian restaurant for something to eat.  The vegetarian pizza we shared was very nice.  I was tempted to have a beer, but didn’t.  It was hot in the sun but quite bearable in the shade.

Monday dawned grey with a cold wind.  We headed to a meeting on the other side of the river, directly opposite Flinders Street station (more or less).

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In the evening we went our separate ways.  The boss and I had been invited to dinner at different places.  She went to Maha, while I went to Chin Chin.  Lots of different dishes brought out for people to share.  All very good.  I passed on the runny egg.  I wasn’t keen on the desserts either but the rest – just wonderful.  You can’t book so have to turn up either early or late.  I walked back to the apartment after dinner – approximately 35 minutes’ walk.  I was the first back, followed by Auckland colleague, R, followed by boss.  Enjoyable evenings had by all.

Tuesday was the start of the conference proper.  Another rather cold wind, which was disappointing.  We had come from a summer of grey cloud and cold winds and had wanted a change.

Convention centre

Convention centre

I got to a couple of sessions but missed a couple of better ones because of talking to vendors.  The first plenary was good.  That evening boss and I had been invited to yet another dinner at Atlantic on the river front.  We were there from 7 pm to 11 pm so saw the flames powered by gas in the columns in front of the Crown Casino complex.

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Wednesday:  I only got to see the first plenary session – the rest of the time spent with vendors.  That night was a conference dinner at the NGV under the stain-glass ceiling.

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We had a lovely walk along the riverfront afterwards, and caught the flames again.

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Thursday:  And then, all too quickly, the final day of conference.  The air-conditioning was cold so a couple of times I snuck out to absorb the warmth.  It was glorious.

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Three times I was asked where DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) was from passers-by.  Luckily I did know and could direct them, envying them somewhat – so close but no time.

After the conference ended I met C and we walked to ‘Mamak’, a Malaysian restaurant.  Boss was out with a friend and R had taken the afternoon to visit a Hindu temple.

Friday:  In the morning boss and R left for the airport.  I had a shower, tidied up, and checked out.  W picked me up from behind the apartment building.  C was at work.  He took me to their apartment in Prahran, which had a good view of the CBD.

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W and I headed down Chapel Street, which was hot and busy.  Some amazing old buildings such as the Victorian arcade building, which looked rather creepy in its unrenovated state.

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We had steamed dumplings for lunch, then headed back to the apartment.  When C returned we went out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant not far away.

Saturday:  As it happened, W was flying to New Zealand in the afternoon, but we did have time to visit Chadstone mall and the museum.  I had heard that Chadstone mall was the biggest in Australasia.  However, it was not as big as I expected and only on two levels.  C and I had seen way bigger in Kuala Lumpur (several levels and including a theme park).

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Next stop, the museum, to see the Designing 007 exhibition.  Photos not permitted, but quite interesting and some of the gowns were gorgeous.  It was 42 deg C outside and we saw a woman sunbathing – complete madness.   I didn’t find the heat unbearable.  It was a different sort of heat to the hot (28-32) days we get at home.  Not a burning heat but more diffuse, like a fan heater.  The worst of it was getting back into a hot car.  Spotted wedding photos being taken on the way out – phew!

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C dropped W off at Southern Cross station to get the skybus to the airport.  We headed back to the apartment.  That night we ate pizza at an Italian restaurant in Prahran.

Sunday:  W and C had only recently bought a car, so C wanted to drive somewhere out of the city.  We thought of going to Bendigo or Ballarat.  Ballarat was closer.   In the morning, about 11ish (C takes a while to get moving), we headed out, but almost immediately, C realised she’d left the keys in the apartment.  We were locked out, without car keys or even a way to get back to their level if we went down the lift.  Luckily she had her cellphone and made a few calls.  A locksmith was needed and we waited close to an hour in the lobby.  Great start to the day and a costly mistake.  I thought we’d have to settle for driving somewhere closer but C was ok with driving to Ballarat.

Ballarat was a lot smaller and quieter than I had imagined.  It reminded me a bit of a local town near where I live, with a central strip and clock towers.  Very sleepy place but some nice buildings.  Bells were ringing for a long time (probably annoying the locals, but I enjoyed them).

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Sovereign Hill ‘museum’ was way too expensive at $47 each for the couple of hours or so we had to spare.  After a bite to eat, we decided to go to the local wildlife park.

Plenty of reptiles, but in rather small enclosures, and a couple of huge snakes.  A kangaroo was hanging out in the shade (although it was only about 30 deg) just in front of the alligator enclosure.  Luckily they couldn’t see each other, and the kangaroo probably knew it was perfectly safe.

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The biggest attraction for this park, were the number of tame kangaroos roaming freely about.  Many opportunities to stroke them and have their claws touch your hands while seeking food.

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Such lovely animals.

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There were a couple of free-roaming emus too – the first time I’ve come across non-aggressive ones.  Other animals included quokkas and some awake koala!  Didn’t spot the wombat (as usual) or the Tasmanian devils.  There were cockatoos in the trees that chased away the many pigeons.  Didn’t get a proper photo.  As we left, we heard kookaburras, as if laughing that we’d missed seeing them.  A good day out.  In the evening we headed down Chapel Street in the  opposite direction and bought burger and chips.  Chapel Street had a lot of eateries with outdoor seating and it was as busy as a Friday or Saturday night!  The salmon burger I had was very nice.

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Monday;  I didn’t look forward to the return home, and it didn’t start well, the taxi being 35 minutes late picking me up.  It was chaos at the airport with long queues.  Apparently none of the ‘smart’ equipment was working and they didn’t have enough staff at check-in counters.  There were a lot of pissed off passengers waiting.  However, got to the departure lounge and, of course, waited.

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Farewell to Melbourne.

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I’m struggling to stay motivated today. I caught up on the backlog of work yesterday and am now going about the usual stuff.

The weather is depressing – a large blanket of cloud smothering the region, quite cool – I needed a jacket to walk to work, but it’s stuffy inside.

Moans at work about road works down the main entrance to town – they do this every year when it starts getting busy. Lots of pissed off drivers.

Moans at work about the amount paid for an old second-hand book ($185) when it can be bought new for under $30. We see a lot of money wasted and yet they say they need to make budget cuts. Where’s the accountability?

An email today that we have a meeting with the boss about planning and quality. Just reading the email sent us into spasms of yawning. Two colleagues celebrated that they will be on leave that day. Lucky bastards. The meeting’s scheduled during my usual lunch hour too, so I have to take an early lunch. Not happy to change my routine for something so mind-numbingly boring.

I’ve had a gutsful. So very glad I’ll be off on holiday next week.

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Update soon

Just back from a conference in Melbourne.  Haven’t yet uploaded photos.  So, will update (with some pics) later on.  Must do this soonish, as I’m off to the South Island for an actual holiday next week.  Before that, I have another “road trip” with the girls, for birds, wine and cheese.  Will then have to upload those photos and empty the memory card ready for the south!  Such a busy period for the next few days.

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