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Five seconds of summer

I’m back from a week in Sydney. I was working—which I miss more than I thought—and had arranged a fabuluxe couple of days of Sydney indulgence for my clients. To top it off their day on the Harbour coincided with Australia Day so it would be an amazing experience to remember.

As I prepared the incredible itinerary, had all my ducks lined up tightly I was packing for the trip and questioning my fee as there really wasn’t much for me to do but sit by the pool and make sure my guests had a good tie then knew where they had to be when next. Life couldn’t really get much better than that could it?

Well yes except for the fact that Sydney had not done her glorious self any justice and instead of turning on the sunshine she turned on the cold. And rain. And rain. And rain. Australia Day in Sydney 2015 was the coldest in 50 years.  The bottom line was I ended up working my tail off but all’s well that ends well.

It was interesting to be in Sydney for a (wet) Australia Day.  It didn’t dampen the spirits of many people who still went out to watch and join in the festivities on the Harbour but it did keep many people away. And prompted me to cancel my Water Taxi trips for the rest of the two days. It reminded me of the Fourth of July we spent in San Diego just six months ago but I have to say I think Sydney turns it on somewhat bigger and better (am I allowed to say that?).

What a Harbour Sydney is. It’s not until you move away that you really truly appreciate the City you call your hometown. For the five seconds I was there when the sun was shining it was gleaming—positively showing off. And even when the sun wasn’t shining the Harbour still looked majestic.

I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about Americans (I haven’t bitched about my host country for a while). When I get asked where I’m from and I reply Sydney, Australia everyone—I mean everyone—says “Oh I love Australia, I really want to go but it’s so far.”

Even this morning on the radio as they were interviewing an Australian singer they said the same thing.  But it’s 10 hours to Europe and no one even stops to think about it. It’s only an extra couple of hours. Stop yearning a Sydney visit and jetsetting back to Europe each year, have a Nike moment: Just Do It.

In honour of Sydney I thought I’d share my two-day itinerary. I’ve added a third option in there if you’re not inclined to head to the Blue Mountains.

If you’ve only got a couple of days in Sydney here’s what I recommend:

  • A day on the Harbour. There are lots of things to do from catching a ferry to Manly or the Zoo or even Watson’s Bay and having lunch. But whatever you do, get amongst it on the Harbour. If the weather is kind to you it truly is magnificent. If you’re on a budget the ferries are an economical way to get on; there are many cruises but if you can hire a charter to take you wherever you like without having to share a boat with hundreds of other tourists.If you head to Manly think about ‘wasting’ the afternoon basking in the sunshine at Hugo’s.  Unlike LA you can sit and drink and snack all day and they won’t try and move you on and give you the ‘check’.
  • A trip to the Blue Mountains. Hiring a car in Australia isn’t as cheap as the US but it’s worth it rather than being forced to follow someone else’s itinerary. I recommend one of the numerous hikes around and also a trip to Scenic World—the Sky Railway, Skyway & Cableway—are great ways to get different aspects of the Three Sisters and natural wonders (provided of course there is visibility).High Tea is also popular thing to do in this region. The Hydro Majestic is one of the most glorious places for High Tea in the area so I highly recommend an afternoon there.
  • Hang out at Bondi. Or Bronte. And walk between the two. One of the most popular things to do—and be seen—in Sydney. It’s a coastal walk that links two of Sydney’s most popular Eastern suburbs beaches. Fortunately for foodies like me there are some fabulous restaurants at either side to reward the walk.

For dinners I sent them to Aqua Dining and Aria, both are popular spots with exceptional views. My favourite was by far Guillaume at Bennelong in the Opera House (and a must-do for foodies and view-chasers alike) but sadly it’s now closed down at the Opera House and moved to Paddington so if you’re not looking for a view it’s still an option.

Leaving my clients to dine alone I went with friends to the long-awaited new Billy Kwong (yum, yum, triple yum) in Potts Point and Felix (so good) at The Ivy. Neither disappointed and I can’t wait for my next Sydney gastronomic experience.

I have to also say that I don’t often get starstruck but I was so impressed to see Kylie Kwong at the helm at Billy Kwong.  She was too busy to ask for a selfie but I did applaud her on her work (yes, I’m sure she’s feeling much better now that I’ve told her that).

KK

Kylie Kwong in Action

Back in LA

It’s good to be back at home. I came back to the household in better order (apparently) then when I’m here and life with Dad is so much better than with mum at the helm. This begs the question why is it always so damn hard to get away? I’m storing that for next time I’m looking for some me-time.

On Friday night we attended the ACE Eddies. The ACE is the American Cinema Editors (http://americancinemaeditors.org/) who are those clever people that edit the movies to make sense and are riveting to watch. One of the stats about one of the ACE Honorees was that he put together a six-minute action sequence from 30 hours of raw footage. Wow. I’m flat out editing 1,200 word blogs. I have to say though, they might be good at editing other people’s work but there were some incredibly long speeches–no one cutting down their speeches. These awards aren’t televised so there’s no music timing them out. Note to organisers, you might like to time them just the same.

I got to come face-to-face with (or be at the same event as) Matt Damon and Chris Pratt and sit through my second Awards night. There were two stand-out presenters: MC for the night Mary Lynn Rajskub (best known for playing the annoyingly annoying Chloe O’Brian on 24) and The Goldbergs patriarch Jeff Garlin.

Never underestimate the importance of a good presenter—and one who can ad-lib ad infinitum providing a much-needed break from the night (not that you don’t want to honour those being awarded). The classic was when Jeff Garlin (who came out to present in a Beverly Hilton robe saying they’d dragged him down from his room to present) changed his story at the end saying he was driving past in his car and they dragged him in. “But I thought we dragged you down from your room?” asked his co-presenter. “Yes, you dragged me from my room sitting in a car,” he said, exaggerating the gaff. It just made it all funnier.

As for Mary Lynn Rajskub—who joked about people editing the spelling and pronunciation of her name—she was very funny. There were drug references, there was sexual innuendo and very good comedy. Who would know the insipid and extremely painful Chloe O’Brian comes from such good stock. How does spunky, funny and entertaining produce whiny, annoying and do-gooder? Character acting at its best no doubt.

Amongst the winners Lego Movie got its own back from its snub from the Oscars, Boyhood got the nod for dramatic feature film over the movies we were ‘rooting’ for American Sniper & Whiplash; and The Grand Budapest Hotel beat Birdman and Guardians of the Galaxy (we were ‘rooting’ for both movies) for best edited feature film (comedy or musical). Our other favourite show to take out an Eddie was Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Iran.

The winners in this four-hour marathon were:

65th annual ACE EDDIE Awards Winners:

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC): Boyhood – Sandra Adair, ACE
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (COMEDY OR MUSICAL): The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Lego Movie – David Burrows & Chris McKay
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE): Citizenfour – Mathilde Bonnefoy
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (TELEVISION): The Roosevelts: An Intimate History: Episode 3 / The Fire of Life – Erik Ewers
BEST EDITED HALF-HOUR SERIES FOR TELEVISION: Veep: “Special Relationship” – Anthony Boys
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR COMMERCIAL TELEVISION: Sherlock: “His Last Vow”  – Yan Miles
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR NON-COMMERCIAL TELEVISION: True Detective: “Who Goes There” – Affonso Gonçalves
BEST EDITED MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE FOR TELEVISION: The Normal Heart – Adam Penn
BEST EDITED NON-SCRIPTED SERIES: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Iran – Hunter Gross
BEST STUDENT EDITING: Johnny Sepulveda (Video Symphony)

Super Bowl

I’m not going to say much more about the Super Bowl except we went to a Super Bowl party and I still don’t really understand the game. Part of the tradition is to play Football Squares. When you don’t understand the game it’s a fun thing to play along with as the score changes.

Essentially, you have a grid with 10 rows across and 10 down (100 squares). You ask everyone to put their name in a square. Each square is a bet of your choosing (I think ours was $5).

Once the names are assigned the organiser randomly puts numbers on the top and to the side of the grid and also assigns each of the two teams to either the top or the side. Usually there’s a winner after each quarter and they win a percentage of the pot.

The winner is worked out by looking at the last number in each team’s score and then matching those numbers on the grid and seeing which square intersects those two numbers. Follow? Neither did I. But say the score was Seahawks 24 and Patriots 28. The final payout was determined by finding out which square intersected at 4 and 8 on the grid. I’ll give you the tip, it wasn’t me. We did, however, win the second & third quarters so we did OK.

(Source: for more info).

(BTW in case you missed it, the (Seattle) Seahawks got pipped at the post so to speak and lost to the (Boston) Patriots and the score in the eg above was the final score).

 

What about the entertainment?

I don’t know about you but I was disappointed in Katy Perry—until Firework anyway when I think she nailed it. I think the critics actually applauded her but the people I “interviewed” thought it was a bit ho-hum. It was to be the Super Bowl performance to knock out all other performances but I disagree. That’s the problem when you over-hype yourself. And what’s with bringing in the Special guests? See all that says to me is that you’re not backing yourself to pull off the performance on your own. And poor Katy until Firework you could hardly hear her. She’s got a good voice but no point if you can’t hear it. At least she finished on a good note.

Bruno Mars last year … now there was a performance. So maybe I just missed the hype last year but when the Red Hot Chilli Peppers came they didn’t take from Bruno Mars, they just made it somehow more brilliant. Bravo Bruno you’ve set the benchmark for me. Katy, or whoever is up next year, take a leaf out of his book. Yes, it was at the Super Bowl 2014 that I really and truly fell in love with Bruno Mars.  And realised what an amazing performer he actually is. (Wonder if he lives in LA?)

I missed the ads again this year. Except the Snickers Brady Bunch ad. Hysterical. If you didn’t see it make the round on social media last week here it is:

It’s worth watching I’ll give you the tip. Here are (according to two different people) the Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials 2015—they’re so different but they’ve both got some good ads in there.

 

I don’t know about you but I want to play Pacman—how fun.

That’s my second SuperBowl under my belt, hopefully next year I’ll actually know how to read the squares when I win ;-).

Five Seconds of Summer

You’re probably wondering why this week’s post is named after my five seconds of Sydney summer or the latest, hottest boy-band sensation to come out of Sydney? It is absolutely the latter. After delaying my flight by a day I got the joy of flying home with said band who are headed to LA to record their next album. I’ve invited them over for Sunday Roast—wonder if they’ll take me up on my offer? I doubt it but my daughter can dream.

5sos

Selfie with two of the boys from Five Seconds of Summer #5sos

 

Good luck boys, you were truly gracious participants in the Gwen selfie, success is yet to hit them so thumbs up. This is probably my best to date.  (BTW in case you don’t know pictured are Calum & Luke).

Problem with flying home with them was I couldn’t stop singing, “She looked so perfect standing there in her American Apparel underwear …” lucky I didn’t break into song for them.

Have a good week everyone,

xx It Started in LA xx

 

PS: What did you think of Katy Perry? Do you have mad 5sos fans at your place? Let me know what you think.

Posts, Sydney

Five (food related) things I miss most about Australia

It’s Australia Day next week and I’m lucky enough to be heading back for it.  Gourmet Traveller just did a story on the things Expats miss the most about Australia.  While I’m not as famous as the gorgeous and wonderfully inspiring Napoleon Perdis or the spunky incredibly talented Chef, Curtis Stone I thought I’d share the five things I miss the most.  Why don’t you share yours.

  1. Coffee.  My husband makes great coffee at home but I miss being able to pick up a takeaway coffee from wherever you are and genuinely know it’s going to be good.
  2. Fish & Chips.  And Dim Sims.  My love for fish & chips goes way back.  Fortunately we have a great deli nearby whose fish and chips come close.  But! They don’t have Dim Sims (I prefer mine with Lea & Perrins to the traditional soy sauce) and they don’t have chicken salt.  My fondest memories are fish & chips on the beach or in the park.  I miss being able to pick them up then head to Elkington Park or the end of East Balmain and gaze out onto the Harbour.
  3. Egg & Bacon Rolls.  Nothing better than a BBQ at Saturday morning sport when the Dads are making Egg and Bacon Rolls with chilli sauce.  And the coffee van.  Heaven.
  4. Asian food at great Asian Restaurants.  Billy Kwong, Longrain, Blue Ginger, Red Lantern.  I love LA’s restaurants but I love (and dearly miss) Australia’s top quality Asian restaurants.  I have to bundle Indian food in there as well as our favourite by far is Indian Palace.  And proof they can be hip and groovy and don’t have to be dodgy.
  5. Long lunches.  Upon thinking what would be strong enough to make my Top Five it wasn’t about a particular place but a “brief”.  The best thing about eating out in Sydney is saying to a group of friends let’s head out to Pyrmont on a Sunday afternoon and have a long lunch.  The kids can play in the nearby park where we can see them and we can have a leisurely few bottles of wine and talk and laugh the afternoon away.  No getting kicked out because they need your table and no “eat and run” approach to eating out.  Ah, pure bliss.

What are yours? Or if you went away what’s the first thing you need when you come back?

Happy Australia Day everyone!  (It’s next Monday the 26th in case you’re wondering).

xx It Started in LA xx

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