Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Just when I thought I was out...

I got back to Rennes. I guess I could tell how. The flight to Singapore was OK, watched many movies although the system was not video-on-demand, first time I haven't had that on a Singapore Airlines flight. In Singapore I lashed out and bought wifi access, since I didn't feel comfortable paying for a train ticket using the free internet machines. The flight to Paris went well - I had a window in the exit aisle, which meant I could straighten one leg, which was something. After the meal I popped a couple of sleeping pills and zonked out for 8 or 9 hours.

In Paris, I grabbed my suitcase pretty quickly, jumped the shuttle bus to the RER station and caught a slowish RER down to Denfert-Rochereau, then a metro to Montparnasse, getting there with 15 minutes to spare for my TGV to Rennes. I was going to go into Rennes in the afternoon to get my hair cut and stuff, but in the end I just managed some grocery shopping and a little WoW at home.

When I hit Paris I was wondering why I'd traded Australia for France again - there was dense fog and it generally didn't feel like I'd traded "mid-Autumn" (which has no meaning whatsoever in Brisbane) for mid-Spring. Still, once I hit Rennes it was actually a beautiful day.

I thought for a while that I'd beaten the jetlag by staying awake so long and then getting a good whack of sleep on the Singapore-Paris leg, but around 4pm I lost all energy, and about 5:30pm I crashed for a few hours. I awoke, had some dinner, and played a little more WoW until around 11:30pm, but woke up pretty brightly around 3am. Hopefully tonight will be better.

Monday, 24 April 2006

which will bring us back to 0

Back from Canberra to Brisbane, and more hanging out with Chris, Anjum, Mick, Paul, Julz, Anthony, Celia, and others. Tough life.

On Thursday I gave my spiel at QUT to a small but interested (well, half of them were) crowd. I was happy to get some feedback from Keith, Michael & Kerry, and the discussion we had afterwards was really stimulating. Its nice to come and talk to people with a shared vision and common understanding (delusion? relative....) of the field I'm working in. It also Kerry & Michael are settling in well at QUT and working on various funding ideas that might make a return possible for me at some point in the future near or medium-term.

After the chat I drove back to T'ba for one last time (this trip) with Dad. We went for a game of golf on Friday afternoon out at Borneo Barracks. Last time I was back 15 months ago we squeezed in 3 games, and its a shame there wasn't time for more this time around. I really enjoy the ambiance hanging out on the golf course with Dad, and although I played like a mangy dog, the few good shots I managed were really worthwhile.

That done, it was back to Brisbane for a farewell bbq/pissup for Chris, who's heading back to CH this week, all things going well viz-a-viz visas. Beer, punch, whiskey, calva and wigs all chimed in to make it a memorable night. There are awesome photos on Chris' camera, Mick's phone, and Anthony's computer, and even one or two passable ones on my camera, which might find their way onto this forum at the upcoming flood when my return to Rennes prompts a reconciliation. The day after said party was a slow one, shall we say, not least of all for Chris, who was beyond the aid even of bacon and coffee until well into the afternoon.

Which brings us to today. I catch a plane in a handful of hours, and Australia is once again antipodean to me, probably until I have a PhD. Its kind of sad leaving - I know so many people here, and have so much in common with them, be it from having hung out together for so long or just come up in the same sort of surrounds. The conversations move faster, the comedy comes more easily, and its just a different vibe to the social milieu I have in Rennes. Now, as Chris has so often protested, if only we can get some more good jobs and European women over to Australia, it'd all be beer and skittles. For the moment I'll just have to settle for baguettes and a European summer.

Thursday, 20 April 2006

hell. frozen.

We interrupt your travelogues to bring you shocking news.

I agree with John Howard on this one.

Slow down there, tiger, what's doing? The Solomons thing, I mean. Sending troops in to quell the unrest there was right a few years ago when they did it, and its right now. More importantly, the policy of committing resources to the south pacific in the interests of stabilising those countries, and the strategy of trying where possible to respect their sovereignty and only send troops when they request them, seem right on the money to me. Hats off also to Labour for not turning it into the politically expedient Iraq analogy that it could so easily (and mistakenly) be made to be.

Normal service will now be resumed.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

c to the anzay, b to the erray

It can only be a good sign that I haven't been finding time to blog. I've been running around and having a great time on my holiday, so I hope you'll* forgive me if this entry is a little late.

* In french or some other language I'd use the grammatic differentiation between singular and plural second person to insert some Adamsish reference to the fact that I almost certainly have only one reader. In English it kind of just doesn't appear.

So, Friday 10 days ago I pushed off to Canberra to see my sisters. Despite her blog indicating that she's in fact still in Rennes, she moved back to C'ba in January, into the house she was in before she went to Oslo. Em was also up from Hobart, for the easter weekend and also to do some training.

We had a good time on Saturday morning having breakfast overlooking the lake - hot air balloons were scheduled but didn't show - followed by a walk through the farmers markets. In the afternoon we went shopping and bought Em an iPod and me a footy, then went for a walk from Lee's place over to a Thai food festival, where we sampled some excellent pad thai and green curry, and some mediocre crapes [sic].

On Sunday we went for a drive out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, and did a walk of an hour or so up to some high rocks with a nice view out through valleys that are still looking very much the worse for wear from the bushfires a couple of years back. We also walked down through the wetlands, the highlight there being a couple of platypii that came out to frolick (more likely chasing food, I suppose) in a little prepared lake. We had a picnic lunch under some autumnal trees while a family nearby prepared to play some backyard cricket. In the evening we went out to dinner, then Lee & I went and watched Capote at the cinemars.

Monday was the pick of the weekend. We headed around to Liz & Mike's place mid-morning with fresh-baked muffins, and helped Daisy with her Easter egg hunt. That done, 7 of us (Lee, Em, Liz & Mike, Daisy, Toby & I) headed out on bikes for a roll around the lake. We stopped after maybe 10k at a picnic area where, joined by Tom, we broke out the snags & salads and BBQ'd. After eating I broke out the footy and Mike, Toby, Tom, Em & I played some kick to kick. We rode home the other way around the lake, completing a circuit that was probably 30k or so. To finish things off we cooked a lamb roast back at L&M's. I haven't gotten and don't get to spend much time with that mob, and really enjoy their company, so was really glad of the chance to hang out with them.

On Tuesday we went shopping in the morning before a lunch with cousin #3 (for the weekend, not implying any sort of hierarchy), Joe, at a cafe at ANU. Leonie (wife of previous) couldn't make it, since she had some big meeting at PM&C. It was interesting to hear about Joe's impressions of Europe from his postdoc in Ferrara, and how he was doing in getting back to things in Australia. They had just exchanged contracts on a house that very morning, which was very exciting.

Then, on Tuesday evening, it was back to 'Vegas.

and then

Ah, so much to tell.

So I had a barbeque at Jesse's place with Jesse & Al, Nee & Andy, Gav, Mick, and Dave. Snags were cooked, sauce added, beers opened, and much catching up done. All was good with the world.

That evening I went to the footy with Mum & Dad to see the Lions beat the Bombers in a reasonably entertaining affair. Then on Sunday we drove down to Mullum to see Granny for her birthday. We had a walk along the beach at Brunswick Heads and had lunch at the pub. On Monday afternoon, Mum & I headed down to Goomburra, which in a former life I had known as Gordon Country, although in said previous life I hadn't ventured up into the hills into the rainforest they have there. The forest and the views were pretty awesome; photos to follow once I get some time.

On Tuesday it was back to Brisbane, hanging out at Paul's place. In the evening we went and picked up Chris & Anjum, status clarified, from the airport, and grabbed a meal before I headed over to Jesse & Al's place to crash. Wednesday, Chris, Anjum & I did the citycat thing out to Brett's Wharf, then back to uni where I grabbed a quick lunch then went to give my model typing spiel to a group in ITEE. Response pretty good, had a beer with David & Jörn afterwards.

In the evening it was the dream team for quiz night, Drs Chris & Anjum on Chemistry/Physics/Astronomy, Dr Brammer on matters medical, Paul & Jules on musical, myself and others as cleanup hitters. We pinched Dave Coyle from his regular team, too, but it didn't help, as we lucked out to them on a dodgy bonus question and came in second.

Thursday, Anjum, Chris & I continued the tourist thing, chooffing off to Lone Pine to look at koalas, roos, wallabies, snakes, wombats, etc etc. Once again, photos to follow when I get to it. In the evening we went for Punjabi with a big crowd - the Abingdon mob, Jez, Mick, Paul, etc. Afterwards I had a moment of weakness and died my hair what was purportedly blonde but what turned out to be a pale orange. Photos, well, we'll see how courageous I'm feeling. They exist, suffice to say.

Saturday, 8 April 2006

the socialite

OK, so yesterday I remembered part of why I like coming back to Brisbane.

Throughout the day I managed to

  • bump into Emma in the city

  • have lunch with Kerry, Michael, Keith, and David

  • bump into James Cole at Taringa station

  • catch up with Lach at his place in Taringa

  • have a beer with Ian and Bill at Mantara

  • go to Ginga and a movie with Mick, Paul & Julz

That's a dozen people from four different social scenes in a single day. I don't think I know a dozen people in Rennes, and yet here I'm only a third of the way through the list I made up the other day of people I'd like to see around Brisbane.

Of course, at the same time, I couldn't find a croissant for breakfast this morning.

Friday, 7 April 2006

back in a wide brown land

I'm back in the sunburnt country.

I spent a few days with mum & dad up in toowoomba, and got some time in for walks out around the dams through some really nice eucalypt forests.

On Wednesday I hit Bris'vegas to catch up with friends, to date Paul, Mick, Julz and a few others. I'm having lunch with the old Pegamento crowd today, possible beers at the RE this evening with the Mantara folks, and a barbecue tomorrow with Jesse and a few hangers on from the clans, before football in the evening with M&D again. I made a list of people I want to catch up with while I'm here, and its way longer than the time I've allocated, so there will no doubt be some casualties.

Despite said list, I don't feel quite as at home in Brisbane as I used to. That isn't to say that it isn't all familiar, but when I was here last time it still felt like it was my home town, but now I'm not so sure. I suppose its inevitable that with more and more time away I'd become more and more the nomad, but realising it is interesting.