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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I could’ve sworn I wrote a draft about my trip to Brisbane, but it appears not.  I won’t split this up, so it will be a long post.

It was a wet day when I left home.  I caught the train to Southern Cross, arriving about half an hour before the bus I had planned to get departed.  My original plan was to have something to eat at Southern Cross.  Instead I just bought a ticket and caught the next available bus – a double-decker one.  I had allowed an hour to get to the airport, but we were there in 30 minutes.  This meant I was even earlier than I needed to be.

I printed out my boarding pass (I had checked in online), and went in search of food.  I ended up having a muffin and a ginger beer.  Then slowly wandered down to the departure gate, idly looking in book shops.  I was pulled aside for a scan to see if there was an “explosive residue” on me.  For fuck’s sake.

Waited for the Virgin airline flight, gazing out at the rain.

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I had been able to choose a window seat for free, but all I saw was cloud – featureless white cloud as far as the eye could see.  It was so featureless that there was no sensation of movement – just the noise of the plane.  It was as if we were stationery.  Quite weird.

Finally we descended into Brisbane, beside what looked like a huge cloud statue of an elephant lying down.  Brisbane was grey and threatening rain, but it was warm.

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I wish Melbourne had trains to the airport.  It would make things so much easier, and there wouldn’t be the worry of traffic jams.

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My cousin, H, was arriving from a work trip to Sydney, so I waited for her.  Together we got a taxi to her place in Chermside.  I was introduced to her lovely cat, Molly.

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After a meal and long chat, we headed to bed.

Saturday was a bit grey and windy, but we walked to the local mall.  H bought a few things at the supermarket, then we had a coffee.  Thankfully, we share the same views on politics and religion and could chat away quite happily.

H rang her mother, J (my father’s sister) at the retirement village to let her know we were coming, then drove round to see her.  She’s 95 and recently recovered from a fall and mild stroke, but she was as active and talkative as she was at her 90th birthday.  Amazing.  It was good to see her looking so well, and the only medication she takes is a blood thinner.

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We only stayed an hour, but I hoped I would be able to see J again.

We returned to H’s place and made lunch, then set off for the beach at Sandgate.  It was very windy.  The seagulls just hovered.

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We sat on a park bench and ate our rolls.  There were quite a few parasurfers, if that’s the right term.

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Lunch finished, we went for a wander along the beachfront to the pier.

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Shorncliffe pier, image from Flickr

We walked to the end of the pier.  The waves were very choppy.  Quite a few fishermen were trying their luck.  On the way back we saw what looked like blue plastic bags floating in the sea.  They were jellyfish.  I didn’t take a photo as I was afraid of dropping my mobile phone into the sea in the strong wind.  This is what they looked like.

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I can’t find a name for them, other than “blue jellyfish”.  A kid showed off a few fish lined up on the boards.  A few were quite small – too small I thought, and I felt sorry for the fish.

We returned to H’s place.  There was a loud thunderstorm which continued for some time.  We watched “Beck” on SBS on Demand on H’s TV.

For dinner, we got an Uber ride to Nundah and ate at a pub which served Italian food.  I was amazed at how quickly the car turned up.  It was raining but we sat outside the pub under cover.  Lovely meal, cooked and served by real Italians (a rarity in NZ).  It was wonderful to hear the accents.  After dinner, we headed across the road to a small bar called Village Social.  There was a band called Heads Hands and Feet playing – a three-piece band made up of a bearded guy in dreads on keyboard and vocals, a Maori from Chatham Islands on guitar and vocals, and an old English guy on drums.  They were good.  I enjoyed their music.

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H used her app to get another Uber ride home and it showed up almost immediately.  I was impressed.  H said that the drivers are much more polite, and if you lose something you can contact them.  This contrasts with an experience that a friend of J’s had – an elderly woman with a walker trying to get into the back of a taxi and the driver not getting out to help at all.  If taxi drivers are complaining about Uber they need to up their game.  If I ever need a taxi, I’ll download the Uber app.

H likes to go to bed early (and gets up early) so I headed to bed and watched episode 3 of “Southcliffe” on my mobile.  I didn’t sleep well that night (not as a result of the programme I might add).

Sunday dawned bright and sunny.  H headed off to her gym.  When she returned we drove to Nundah to check out the market.  Lots of stalls but H didn’t seem interested in any and walked past them all.  We sat and had a coffee (she loves her coffee), then walked back to the car.  A pointless exercise, I thought.  Not that I was interested in buying anything or watching the entertainment, but even just a browse…?  Oh well.

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It was nice not to have to wear a singlet or jacket.  You can see from the photos that all you needed was a short or sleeveless top.

H’s idea was for us to go to Southbank and meet her son who was going there with his wife and young baby.  However, he was unsure when he was going to be there and sounded reluctant to meet us, so instead, after lunch, we drove north to Bribie Island.

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It was a very pleasant drive.  It was wonderful to see the countryside.  I had never been north of Brisbane before.  I spotted a pelican as we crossed the bridge to the island.

We found a carpark by the beach and wandered down in barefeet.  It was so pleasant and seemed like summer.

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In the distance is Moreton Island (and a container ship)

H and I walked south along the beach, me careful to avoid stepping on the many bluebottles washed up.  No-one else seemed to care about them.  I spotted some seabirds and later found out they were greater crested terns.

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I had taken a camera but didn’t have a zoom lens on it.

We returned from our walk and went into the surf club for a drink.  I had a nice cool beer and H had a lemon, lime and bitters.  I found out later that there was a bush walk nearby that we could have gone on, but H seemed keen to head back.  Her son wanted her to babysit but hadn’t given a time.

So we drove back to H’s and waited for him to drop off they baby so they could go to the gym.  In the meantime, H made roast vegetables with lamb, which we ate in a bowl for some reason (and without gravy).  Eventually, H’s son and his partner turned up about 7pm!  They said they’d be an hour but it was more like two.  The baby slept for a bit, cried for a bit and H fed it some milk.  Then it cried again.  H put some kid’s programme on TV and it watched, fascinated.  Unfortunately, we had to put up with the “Wheels on the Bus” song about four or five times.  It was just after 9pm when H’s daughter-in-law showed up to collect the baby.  You may be able to tell that I don’t particularly care for babies.

Monday was another sunny day.  Unfortunately for me, H had decided to go to the gym again, so I was stuck at her place without a key.  I think it a little selfish if you have a guest (surely you can forego the gym for a day) but that’s my opinion.  We could’ve spent the morning at Southbank or something, or I could have gone for a walk.  Oh well.  I ended up watching the last of “Southcliffe” and thought the last two episodes were a complete waste of time.  H returned about 11 am and we talked for a while.  Then she took me to the airport about 12.

The plane was delayed for half an hour after we’d boarded, so we sat waiting, looking at the blue sky.

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The flight was full and I had been called to the desk for a new boarding pass.  They had changed my seat to a window seat, which suited me fine.  At least this time I would get to see something.

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As we neared Melbourne the temperature dropped and the clouds got thicker.  It was ten degrees colder than Brisbane – not a surprise.

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I sat upstairs in the double-decker Skybus this time.  I tried to get a photo of the CDB as we neared it, but the bus was too bumpy.

At Southern Cross I waited for a train back home.  Again a delay but I finally reached home about 6pm, to a very happy cat.  She purred non-stop on my lap.

Back to the cold and wet.  Roll on summer.

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WOMAD

As I sit here and write, I’m nodding along to the music of Bombino, but feeling extremely tired.  Whether I can be bothered finishing this blog post….  It’s probably the wine.

WOMAD was fantastic.  I stopped going for a few years because it had lost its magic due to their policy of allowing kids under 12 in free, which led to local kids hanging out and making a nuisance of themselves.  I can’t have been the only one to complain as they sensibly changed the policy to one free kid per adult.  This time the festival had more of the magic I felt when I first went there.

Bombino, above, was one of my favourite performers.  I didn’t get to see Luzmilla Carpio (Bolivian singer), or The Gloaming (Irish group).  I only briefly saw Che Sudaka, but really enjoyed what I did see (and hear).  I hadn’t seen Sinead O’Connor before but she was incredible.  Such a strong singer (and strong woman).  Other highlights included the Romanian brass band, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Buena Vista Social Club, and Ramzi Aburedwan and his ensemble.  The singer in his band was just amazing.  I don’t even know his name.  The name listed on the website is of a man who does not look the same person.  A shame.  Ramzi’s album (which I bought along with Bambino’s) has no singing on it, sadly.  We tried watching Rufus Wainwright, but he wasn’t our cup of tea, and we left after two songs.

The house we stayed at was “interesting”.  If you’ve ever seen “Upper Middle Bogan”, an Australian comedy, you might have some idea.  The decor (along with the two V8’s in the garage, and containers of body-building powder in the kitchen) reminded me of it.  The bedroom I stayed in had shiny black furniture and a butterfly transfer above the bed.  The bedroom next to mine had a sparkly duvet cover.  At night a light arrangement in the corner of the lounge came on (as well as some lights on a bush outside) and at 9am every morning a fountain outside started up.  The toilet had scented sticks, the smell of which was so overpowering, I had to block my nose every time I went in.  Everything in the house looked brand new, with not a thing out of place or a spot anywhere.  It looked unlived in.  However, we didn’t spend much time in the house, thankfully.

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I just had to share.  There is no-one at home to share these things with now, so this blog has become more of a place where I might rant or talk about politically incorrect things that I might once have shared with H.

Some photos.  Firstly, the venue – Brooklands Park & TSB Bowl accessible through Pukekura Park:

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Mt Taranaki as viewed from Pukekura Park

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Places like the Dell stage, surrounded by trees and overlooking the pond, are just magical places in which to listen to amazing music.

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The people (great fun to watch):

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Pied Piper?

The musicians:

Bombino

Bombino

Toumani and Sidiki Diabate

Toumani and Sidiki Diabate

Ramzi Aburedwan

Ramzi Aburedwan

Fanfare Ciocarlia (with fan)

Fanfare Ciocarlia (with fan)

Che Sudaka

Che Sudaka

Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O’Connor

There was other entertainment too, such as the hairdressing act, Osadia.  I could’ve watched them for hours.

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Fabulous weekend.  I’m glad I went.  I could rave further, but I’m tired.   The weather was fantastic.  Hot both on Saturday and Sunday, cooler on Friday and Saturday nights, but I was still in a t-shirt at 10pm on Sunday night.

We were lucky.  It all turned to shit on Monday and has been cold ever since.  The summer is over.

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Standing desk arrived at work today, so that will be interesting.  I already like how I can step from one side of the desk to the other instead of leaning over.  It will be a test on how comfortable my shoes are.  Today’s had a pinch on the small toe.

Had a chat to H on the phone.  Sydney trip has been postponed because it was too difficult to align our available times in the short time we had left.  Instead, I’ve decided just to head to Melbourne for a week in late April.  I have just booked all the fares.  I absolutely hate the usual early morning flights out and often late night returns to get cheap fares.  It means I have to travel to Wellington for an overnight stay and get up at an ungodly hour to be there 2 hours before flying out at about 6.20 am.  Bugger that.  For a change, just once, I’ve decided to fly to Auckland and back, to get flights at a more civilised hour.  So, flying up to Auckand on a Friday afternoon for a late afternoon flight to Melbourne, then return at 10 am on a Saturday morning (which is still a fairly early, but manageable, 8 am checkin), and afternoon flight back home.  I was prepared to pay for the convenience of being able to drive home once landing.  If only the local airport were international as it once, so briefly, was.

I booked without consulting the girls.  It doesn’t matter if neither of them can take time off during their working week.  I can still amuse myself in Melbourne, and perhaps take a train trip to Bendigo.  It’s something to look forward to.

Weather’s looking patchy for this weekend, but should be ok overall for Womad.  Might have to buy myself a decent wet-weather jacket with a hood (which for some reason I don’t currently have – I rely on an umbrella for work).

I’ve discovered my antidote for feeling miserable is a cup of St Johns Wort tea and dancing.  If the music makes me want to get up and jiggle around, I do so, and I feel miles better.  Of course it all depends if I can feel bothered to go to the effort.

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AL and son, F, arrived on Tuesday night about 7pm.  I had takeaway curries at the ready, not feeling in the mood for cooking anything, or actually having no idea what to cook in readiness.  AL had brought a wine and I finished my bottle of white.  F had a beer.  Talked of this and that, can’t actually remember.  She did mention that they were going to Womad this year and had organised a house nearby.  She suggested I join them.  They would be picking F up from uni, so would be here anyway.  I agreed.  It meant I didn’t have to worry about accommodation or driving there, which is a bonus.  I haven’t been for a few years, so it was a good opportunity.  So on Wednesday I bought a ticket and applied for leave for the Friday and Monday of that weekend.  It was something to look forward to.

Wednesday night, AL bought some Thai takeaways and another wine and brought them back.  She had deposited son at his hostel, had lunch with him and seen him off with a friend of his who was also starting uni this year.  She was a bit teary-eyed, saying goodbye to her youngest – an empty nester like myself, except that she has her husband to keep her company.  She left early the next morning on the train, leaving F’s car at the station.  I gave F a lift after work to collect his car.

During the week a work colleague mentioned that the road to Rangiwahia from Ashhurst was now fully sealed and she had expressed an interest in driving it.  (She’s also interested in driving the “Gentle Annie” and “Forgotten Highway”.)  I thought about it and decided to drive it on Saturday.  It gave me something to do.  I find the weekends a bit tedious if I have nothing interesting to do.

The forecast was for morning showers (and the cloud looked threatening) but on checking the forecast again, it said showers in the afternoon.  It didn’t matter.  I prepared lunch and decided to head off about 11 am, reaching Rangiwahia about lunchtime.  I had found out that there was a wetlands area on the way, so figured I’d stop by there and do some birdwatching.

The road being narrow, there was nowhere to stop and take photos of any views, so I did my blind drive-by shooting – i.e. hold the camera up with one hand, vaguely aim in the direction I want and click, while my eyes are still on the road and with one hand on the steering wheel – takes about three seconds.  It’s very hit-and-miss…

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mostly miss.  However, I don’t do it on windy bits, for obvious reasons.  Some of the views were stunning.

I arrived at the wetlands about an hour later.

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I had originally thought of having lunch there but thought I’d take a look first.  A tranquil place and quite well set out with a couple of ponds and islands.  One one side were water lilies and on the other lots of swans, mostly black but a couple of white.

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Unfortunately, on seeing me, they all scattered to the far side of the pond, so I couldn’t get any decent shots of them, even with a long lens.  There were a lot of decoys, so I’m thinking a farmer built this primarily for duck shooting.  I saw a few ducks, but not many, and no other birdlife.  I wandered back to the car and continued to Rangiwahia.  Not much to see there – nothing really to stop and photograph or look at, so I kept going (heading south towards Kimbolton), eventually stopping at a “rest area” next to an “historic place” – the site of a former village called Pemberton.  I ate my lunch there under some large trees.

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A couple more drive-bys on the way to Kimbolton,

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but I also found a couple of places to pull over.

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I reached Kimbolton and stopped briefly.  It was starting to drizzle.

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From Kimbolton, it took about half an hour to reach home.  It had been a very pleasant drive.  I’m glad I did it.  Later that evening I’d decided to go to a movie, and decided on seeing “Kingsman, the Secret Service”, mainly because Colin Firth played a cool spy in a suit (better than James Bond, I thought).  Quite good.

Today, I’d planned on going to the Esplanade Open Day, which is just a lot of activities and entertainment in the city park.  I hadn’t been for a few years, so decided to go.  I first went to Briscoes to buy a new kettle.  My current one kept leaking, which was annoying.  By the time I reached the Esplanade it was about 11.40.  There was some sort of circus act on near one stage and some idiot trying to get a kid to do a magic trick near another stage.  Lots of people, lots of kids’ activities and quite a few fairground attractions, which I hadn’t seen before at this event.

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There were, as always, the Morris dancers.  Three of the six dancers were Asian, which I found interesting.  I’m guessing Morris dancing is regarded as such a joke that no ‘normal’ European would seriously contemplate doing it.

IMG_7749I wandered back the way I’d come.  The stalls were uninteresting, except for some rather nice bird paintings.  The circus act was still going.  It finally finished and a band was ready to play on the stage.  I waited, and waited but they didn’t seem in a hurry to start, seemingly just tuning their instruments.  I got fed up and left.  I’d been there less than an hour.  Did some grocery shopping on the way back, so not a wasted trip.  It did remind me though, that I should be prepared for such crowds at Womad, but at least I’d see some quality musicians.  Really looking forward to seeing Buena Vista Social Club.

So that was the week that was.  Another tedious week of work coming up.  It makes me feel depressed, but then the music I have playing at the moment doesn’t help.

 

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A day off for Wellington anniversary day. I had a dream overnight that there was an earthquake and went online to check, but there didn’t appear to have been one during that time.

As It was a dull, cloudy day, I finally got around to sanding the walls in the spare room. I had started a while back and told myself I could do a bit each evening. Yeah right. Anyway, I did the whole thing, while also listening to some old CDs to decide which to keep and which to give away.

Covered in dust, I finished the job and then started filling holes, particularly one that had previously just been wallpapered over without filling.

That done, I was about to listen to another CD when I felt and heard a ‘jagged’ rumble and thought ‘oh no, this seems like it’ll be big’. I held onto the door frame and sure enough it was a big one. I let out a yelp of fear – it was the first time I had ever felt scared during an earthquake. It was like someone picked up the whole house and shook it. I could hear the “rattling” of wind chimes which were hung up against the sunroom window. The iron fell off the ironing board (set up in the spare room).

When it stopped, it felt like I was still shaking. I gingerly went around the house checking for damage. The French doors were still rattling quietly. A few pictures were askew, a stone bottle and a wooden goblet had fallen sideways, and the computer monitor had moved about three inches. Other than that no apparent damage. I was surprised that glasses in a cabinet were fine and that a tall, narrow shelf of DVDs was still intact.

I went online to discover it had been a “strong” 6.3 magnitude earthquake, 65 km deep, 10 km north of Castlepoint, not far from where my brother lives. This was later changed to a 6.2 “severe” earthquake, 50 km deep, 15 km to the east of Eketahuna (and even later reduced to 33 km deep).

A few texts and phone calls were exchanged. Bro’s place was fine, just a couple of books off the shelf.

It was not a pleasant experience. I don’t want it to happen again. We’ve since had a few aftershocks, one a jolt in the middle of the night, which woke me, or perhaps I was awake already because of the strong winds.

This morning, still strong winds and my bench seat outside had fallen over. On the way to work I saw an overturned twisted trampoline on the side of the road, and a small slip (where they had removed trees and I predicted there’d be problems).

The wind has eased off, but I keep feeling like there are a few tremors still. Now the rain has started. Actually, I was amazed the house painter guy turned up this morning to water-blast the house! Good on him.

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Last weekend was Queen’s birthday weekend so Monday was a holiday.  I took Friday off as well to make better use of it.  It enabled me to do a bit of everything: jobs around the house, getting out and about and a bit of relaxation.  On Friday, I made use of the shops being open.  So many shops are not  open at the weekends or for a very limited time, which pisses me off.  I don’t know why during the week shops don’t open a bit later in the day (just one or two days) so working people can shop after work at 5pm.  5.30pm is no good – it takes me 20 minutes to get to town after work.  Who can shop in 10 minutes?  Not all shops are open on late nights either.  Anyway, enough of my little moan.

I can’t actually recall now, what I did, but I did get to a clothes shop and bought a pair of black pants (seemingly so difficult to get elsewhere).  I saw one of H’s friends working on the gardens in the Square and we chatted for a bit.  After looking around the shops, and not finding what I wanted, I headed over to H’s workplace and we walked over to Halikarnas for a kebab.  I then dropped off some recycling on the way home.

For the rest of the weekend, I did some painting in the sunroom, and started on the trickier stripping of wallpaper in the spare room, something I’d put off since concentrating on other, easier, parts of the house that needed doing.  I sorted through stuff in my bedroom, read books in the sunshine, mowed the lawn, chopped up a fallen branch, and started watching “The Killing” again (the original Danish version).  I also did some belly dancing on Friday night.  I put on some music and just danced around.  I find that more enjoyable, just doing my own thing.  It is, ultimately, for me anyway.  I no longer want to go to class where they just practise choreographies.  It’s not worth the wait in town and I find that I want to do something different to a part of the music than what they’ve choreographed.

To this weekend.  I’m still watching “The Killing”.  It’s a long 20-part series.  There’s been nothing on TV so I’ve been watching one or two episodes a day.  It took me a while to get into it but it’s got me hooked and is quite a complex story.  Someone at work seemed surprised that I’d want to watch a programme in Danish with English subtitles.  I much prefer that to watching something that’s been dubbed.   Anyway, I’m enjoying it, which apparently not many Americans did, judging by the rating on imdb.

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I wonder why.  Evidently Americans don’t like watching foreign language films, since they’re always making their own, inferior, versions of foreign movies.

Yesterday I did some washing and hung it out, hoping it’ll be dry by Monday morning.  Then headed to Foxton for lunch at A’s.  I was full after the soup and scones, but had yummy potato and mushroom, followed by grapes, turkish delight and chocolates.  Talk about bloated!  Three of us went down to the estuary while the fourth went to pick up her new pup.  The royal spoonbills were there but huddled together in the distance, so I couldn’t get a good shot.  I took a few photos, but nothing outstanding and many of the photos I took of the heron came out a bit blurry.  We returned to meet the lovely German shepherd cross pup, a well-behaved female with a lovely deep bark.  I missed my Zara.

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Today, despite being invited to an afternoon tea gathering, I stayed home and did more washing, sorting of photos, and more wallpaper stripping.  I called a friend down the road but she was out.  I felt a bit guilty not going to the afternoon tea, but I’m just not in the mood and need to do stuff at home.  The days are short enough and it’s already dark and gloomy by mid-afternoon.

While stripping wallpaper to music, I felt I wanted to go for a walk with a dog.  I haven’t been walking at the park much since Zara died.  I don’t particularly want to go on my own, although I have done.  Seeing the pup yesterday reminded me what I missed.  However, I don’t want to get another dog.  It wouldn’t be fair on it, being alone all day for five days of the week.

I feel like the weekend’s already over and it’ll be another long week of tedium at work.  Ho hum.

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We had a leisurely breakfast before we had to be at the first session of the day, which was an interesting keynote.  Then we had heaps of appointments with vendors.

It rained, both before we headed out in the morning, and just before lunch.

Boss wanted me to take her place at a vendor’s lunch presentation as she went to another.  We were late because of the last appointment running late.  I went along but their food was not at all appealing and I was hungry, so I left and ate a more substantial lunch in the exhibition hall.  I then sneaked off to visit the nearby art gallery.  It took a while to get there so I only had a brief time to quickly look at a couple of rooms of paintings before I had to return for a relevant afternoon session.

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We went to a final keynote speaker (who was interesting if not particularly relevant) before heading back to the hotel.

In the evening we had the conference dinner.  The band was good but they played loudly so it was difficult to talk with others around the table.  We were right near a speaker too and the bass was so loud I could feel it in my chest.  The food was average.  The music that was played before the dinner was good, with the likes of Van Morrison and Sade – music I could dance to.  The music after the dinner, when people got up to dance, was the usual 80s pop which I just do not enjoy dancing to.  I danced a little while the boss sat and watched, but soon gave up and we left early to return to the hotel and bed.  There was no point staying to chat when you couldn’t hear.

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