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Published: August 9th 2013
Travelblog 2013 Sydney Get-Together...Still Shaking my Head...Bloody Brilliant.
T'was an idea inspired by Red River theRedRiver
coming to Australia...t'was an idea that John & Sylvia wanted to meet that Queen of Vietnam...only came together because it engenders Travelblog...the World's friendliest travel site...like-minded people once strangers...now friends...emerging from the ether...in Sydney...the World's friendliest city.
In 2012 I said "Bugger it...let's go to K.L."
for Travelblog's 10th Birthday party.
In 2013 Jo Jo Trouble
from New Zealand said "Bugger it...let's go to Sydney."
Then Cindy littlewing
from Perth booked flights.
Date set for Sunday 28 July 2013...my place as it turned out.
can, John and Sylvia
can, Shelley and Scott
can't, Tom Rooney
can't...Red River in Sydney the week before...time to advertise.
If Jo & Cindy travelling so far...better offer accommodation...and some entertainment.
How about Friday to Monday?
So all I had to do was make it happen. The Friday
Collected Jo from the station that morning...last time I saw her was in Kuala Lumpur.
Hear the call "O Dancing One"...
big hugs..."Great to see you again."
Denise Laila the Tuareg
showed her her room...time to show Jo around.
So we headed
into the bush behind our place...weather crisp but warm...sky vivid blue...Sydney fine day in winter...no better time.
Collected Cindy from the airport at 5.30...none of us had met her before...instant friends...its like that with Travelblog.
Time to impress the ladies...off to Thai Riffic...Sydneys best Thai restaurant in Newtown.
Cocktails, 5 Spiced duck, Pad Thai soft shelled crab, Massamun curry, Lemongrass prawns, steamed jasmine rice with peanut sauce...delicious.
But where's Jo?
There she is...in the kitchen...the chefs doing pyrotechnics for her lens.
Back to our place for lashings of Blues & West African music, conversation & nightcaps...late night...sleep well...busy day tomorrow. The Saturday
Really looking forward to this day...amazing frittata from Denise's kitchen for breakfast...Tall ships on Sydney Harbour booked for the afternoon...Rachael to join us...a special surprise booked for the evening.
We didn't ask for a sign to bless our gathering...but it seemed our Patron Ali Ali
was smiling on us from USA.
Above us a plane signwiting "T.B"...
getting confused writing "T.B.N. org"...lucky we got our photos in...yep...we'll take that as encouragement! The tall ship was the 'Soren Larsen'
...a two masted barque with only about 20 people
aboard...Aussies, Dutch, Danish & Brits...and a brave New Zealander...Jo Trouble's the name...climbing to the crows nest...long long way up...stayed up there for ages...no way any of us are joining you!
Gotta say the tall ship experience was fantastic.
Cruised past a giant ocean liner...past the Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House...light flickering off the wave tips...blue cloudless sky...light fresh breeze...past Fort Denisen...navy ships...headlands...all soaking up the thrill of togetherness on the high seas...myself the only male with "my girls"
as I dared call them...talk about exhilerating & pleasant.
Jo climbing the rigging...if there were clouds she'd be among them...step by step...stopping for our zoom lenses to capture the moment...sitting up the top...legs dangling...lucky they let her take her camera up there.
Cindy chatting up the Captain...taking the helm...will we now collide or capsize?
Rachael & Denise chatting away...their smiles flashing light off the sails...Travelbloggers uniting...Ah...this is the life...couldn't be nicer.
Good byes to Rachael...see you tomorrow...Denise & I want to take Jo & Cindy to a photographic exhibition...It's 4pm...have we time to walk or do we need a taxi?
See a crowd gathering...check it out...4 people lying on their backs...a guy cycling around
them...calling the crowd to gather in. Street theatre
...lot of banter...this could be good.
He juggling knives, flaming torches...a buzzing chainsaw...then rigged a BMX bike on a pole...ring-ins holding ropes...climbs the pole...onto the bike...juggling knives, flaming torches high off the ground...me capturing him silhoutted against a building...thinking of the Binkley's D MJ Binkley
"Bicycles Transportation or Art" thread on TB...reckon this will be up there...dropping our donations into his hat...that was a sensational show!!!
We definitely need a taxi now...phew...managed to find one..."the State Library please." The World Press Photographers Awards Exhibition
...free entry...sensational ...inspiring...contemplative...some disturbing.
Then an exhibition of Portraits of Homeless Personalties of Sydney...sobering...fascinating faces reflecting hard times...some with names...some with names withheld.
Lights flickering...closing time...time to move...time to head off for our surprise event booked for 7.30pm.
5pm in the city is quiet...few people around...time for coffee...but not sure what is open.
Down Hunter Street...light fading...air getting nippy...then Denise saw it...Max Brenner's Chocolate Cafe...mmm...time for a bit of liquid fantasy.
Sipping our thick hot Italian chocolate mochas
...mucking around like kids on a picnic...checking mobiles between sips.
Then one saw it...a message from Shane The Travel Camel
in Ethiopia...there is another RSVP for tomorrow.
Gotta say this was fortunate as otherwise we would not have got this message and this TBer would not have known where to go.
So I emailed Jan from SkiSet
with details for Sunday luncheon...meant to be. Gypsy Swing
When you plan a surprise it really helps if it comes with a plain wrapping and the insides explode with colour.
And so it was with what we had planned for Jo & Cindy tonight...even better than Denise & I expected.
Pretty dingy old brick warehouse feel outside...with narrow steep steps to the first floor...then wows & more wows.
Welcome to Camelot Lounge
...Sydney's best kept secret...the home of World Music...the brainchild of Yaron Hallis...so named as its full of pictures & models of camels...eccentricity plus.
Centre table front row...best spot in the house for our TB friends...Jo & Cindy smiles and grins all night...if Shane was here you wouldn't be able to get him out.
This was a rare event...musicians invited from around the country...for Yaron's chance to showcase his own compositions with tastes of Monsieur Camembert, Leonard Cohen & lashings of Hungarian & Russian gypsy swing...amazing talent.
by a drummer extraordinaire, lead flamenco vibrato guitar, a cello played as a bass, a flat box zither called a dulcimer played with hooked hammers, a guy on saxaphone, clarinet & accordian and Yaron on bodyless guitar and sweet sweet vocals...mesmerising...or as Cindy says "AWESOME".
Played to midnight...place packed...no-one wanting to leave.
Back at our place...more West African blues...really late night...better get some sleep...another big day tomorrow!!! The Sunday
Today is the official Get-Together...gotta be on our best behaviour...visitors coming at 12.30.
Denise Laila the Tuareg
has been cooking up a storm.
Breakfast of rock melon, juicy strawberries, yoghurt, fresh muesli & orange juice.
Jo Jo Trouble
& Cindy littlewing
giving our Nespresso machine a workout.
the first to arrive...with salads...then John and Sylvia
with home made apple pie...then Jan from SkiSet
with juices...chatting away on our deck...wouldn't think some have just met for the first time.
An announcement...time for a bit of competition...collect your drinks and the nibbles...follow me.
We went down the back to our International standard boules course...mowed areas behind several houses backing onto the bush.
Jo & Sylvia, John & Cindy, Rachael & Jan & to
make it fair...just me as team 4.
Pretty competitive I must say...skill of no assistance on this course...pure luck I say...how else can you explain some decisions by an eighth of an inch...how else can you explain John & Cindy in the lead when the bell rang for lunch? Lunch
For nibbles...Rosemary crispbread, Iraqi fresh dates with a choice of cheeses...King Island smoked cheddar, Tasmanian washed rind, English Stilton & Dutch Leiden.
For mains...Individual ramekins of Denise's Basque chicken pies and Curried beef pies with Rachael's salad.
For dessert...Sylvia's home-made apple pie with custard & cream
Washed down with...Soda with lemon slices, orange juice and Australian Riesling & Sauvignon blanc.
And then there was the music...3 compilation CDs of music from Mali and West Africa for warm up...followed by Orchestra Baobab "Specialist in all Styles" from Senegal, Jack Johnson "In between Dreams" and Icehouse "Masterfile".
And throughout the weekend I also played for Jo & Cindy...Geoff Achison "Each Long Day", Chain "Sweet Honey", Cruel Sea "The Honeymoon is Over", Dirty Lucy "Dark Green", Rokia Traore "Tchmanche", Lobi Traore "Duga', Baaba Maal "Television" and "Nomad Soul", Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
"Segu", Jonny Lang "Turn Around", Fine Young Cannibals "FYC" and Crowded House "Recurring Dream." Special Guest
At TB's 10th Birthday in Kuala Lumpar in 2012 I had carried a photo of Shane The Travel Camel
as he was unable to attend due to illness, which the ladies kindly kissed for my blog.
He then joined us in KL by Skype from Brisbane, Australia.
For our Sydney 2013 event Shane was again unavailable, this time due to swanning around overseas.
So he joined us by Skype from Axum in Northern Ethiopia (ancient capital of the Axumite Empire of Queen of Sheba fame)...waxing lyrical as usual...after seeking enlightenment at a dawn sevice of the Festival of Mary.
He nearly climbed out of the ipad when he saw the delicious pies we were eating!
What a wonderful day.
Denise & I thank those that attended and contributed to a very special occasion. The Monday
Last day today...Cindy has a shark dive booked for 1pm at Manly and Jo & I are hoping to photograph her being eaten by sharks (a Travelblog first if it works out!!!).
Jo & Cindy will catch a ferry from Manly to Sydney and stay overnight in the city and fly out on Tuesday.
So after a last delicious breakfast of banana bread and sliced fruits I take Jo & Cindy into the valley to Crosslands where I also took Bob, Linda and Will of Home and Away
It was another glorious day...couple of cars around but really just us to explore this river bushland park.
The large tepid pool surrounded by casuarinas and she-oaks was like a massive private mirror...stunning reflections...a water bird in a tree drying its wings or showing off for us.
Along the boardwalk then rough track along the river to the rock ledge where the kids used to swing and swim when they were small...water birds skimming the surface...the water various shades of blues & greens...then we had to go. Sharks, rays, turtles & brave divers
The Manly Ocean World was a thrill for me.
Being very non-technical my photography relies heavily on my "eye" to capture a shot with my point and shoot.
This day was special as Jo gave me camera tutorials on adjustment of
ISOs and aperture priority as we waited for Cindy and her friend Anthony to enter the shark tank, that I know will dramatically improve my concert photography.
I believe it radically improved my shots of the creatues of the deep.
So to those that like my portrait photography, I reckon I can now take it to another level.
The photography down there was heaps of fun.
I always enjoy taking photos with other Travelbloggers...this time with Jo.
I believe Cindy was eaten by a shark...but was then spat out to live another day...and just my luck...I had my back turned at the pivotal moments...and missed pics of that...hope Jo caught them!!!
Later, our last meal together...fish and chips by the beach with gulls attacking our heads to get to our chips...Jo snapping away.
The things you've gotta do on a Travelblog Get-Together.
Can't wait for the next one.
Relax & Enjoy,
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