Third Time’s The Charm…

Hey Campers,

As I sit before my laptop, huddled for warmth against the harsh Parisian winter, I’m wont to reflect upon our recent scorching-hot sojourn to The Land Down Under. To be fair, I’m actually feeling rather toasty, as while the current outside temperatures leave a great deal to be desired, our central heating works wonderfully well and even when I’m occasionally forced to venture outside, my wardrobe contains a most fabulous array of winter finery to protect my delicate self against the unforgiving elements. But I digress.

It’s hard to believe that our time in Aussieland has come and gone so damn quickly. It seems like only yesterday that I was at the airport fretting about the prospect of taking a toddler on two long haul flights to reach our destination. Happily, our offspring was relatively well behaved, but it’s still not an experience I’d recommend to anyone…unless you have a nanny taking care of them in cattle class while you relax in the comfort of first…one can but dream.

Sadly, it wasn’t possible to catch up with everyone we would’ve liked to, as family obligations and the breakneck passage of time conspired against us. In all honesty, I’d already presumed that this trip was going to be rather different to my typical jaunts back to the motherland, mostly due to the fact that we’d added a new member to our travelling party. Naturally, my ridiculously extended family was all very keen to spend time with the newbie around his first Australian Christmas, meaning that my usual schedule of evenly dividing my time between family and friends was forlornly cast aside. The relentless heatwaves and a carsick-prone child also hindered our ability to get out and about, and left us with just a touch of cabin fever and a few familicidal urges. My husband then flying back to the Continent – somebody needs to keep working – and leaving me a single father for the second half of the trip certainly didn’t help matters.

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My feelings of frustration were further amplified by the fact that when I was able to briefly escape my parental duties, the weather gods decided to taunt me mercilessly. The first two visits down to Sydney saw the previously aching-hot, blue-skied summer days replaced by grey unpleasantness – only for the duration of my stay, mind you – and consequently prohibited my so desperately sought after solitary beach time. As something of an avid, and admittedly borderline-obsessive, sunworshipper, the whole experience was absolutely devastating and had me questioning my life choices and wondering why I was being punished so unjustly. Fortunately, on the third such attempt, the weather gods relented in their cruelty and I was able to enjoy the sun, sand and surf for two whole days just before returning to the Arctic north.

That being said, we still managed to have an agreeable summer break. Indeed, my darling son had a most fantastic time being welcomed properly into the family fold by his cousins – a daunting amount of excitable littl’uns running riot all over the place.  Then, of course, we were finally able to keep our promise of holding a third and final nuptials in Australia for my extended family and friends who’d missed out on the previous celebrations of our love. In spite of the oppressive heat and vicious mosquitoes, it proved to be a lovely day and it was thoroughly delightful to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a long while, as I proceeded to get drunk on bubbly.

Hopefully, next time we visit we’ll be slightly better prepared and see more of our adoring fans, although by then there’ll be yet another travel companion, so it’s anyone’s guess really.

Must away, the gym is calling and I need to answer for my holiday sins – namely those unwanted kilos that crept on over the festive season as I seemed helpless to stop myself devouring anything vaguely edible that crossed my path.

Tchao! Tchao!!!

The Love That Dare Speak Its Name!

Well, the disgraceful, repugnant and thoroughly hateful plebiscite is now in full swing and what a most pleasant time is being had by for all. As predicted, a full-scale smear campaign is in effect, where the YES camp have been portrayed as aggressive bullies who won’t be happy until every man, woman and child has been indoctrinated into an unnatural way of life. Naturally, this has led to further hysterics by those on the far right and trickled down into increased violence against those supporting marriage equality.

To be honest, I’m fucking sick of it! I’m sick of reading about the latest lies from the NO side. I’m sick of fighting for something that shouldn’t even be an issue in our modern age. I’m sick of being told that we must be grateful for whatever legislative scraps the government deigns to give us. I’m sick of having to explain to my European friends why Australia is so backward on this issue. I’m sick of hearing ridiculous arguments about how marriage equality will be the end of civilization, as we know it.  People are going to be forbidden to use the terms ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ – really, Pauline? What fucking planet are you living on??? The only thing happening in countries where it’s been legalised, is that more people are getting married and the religious zealots are far less content.

Baby Steps.

Hey Kids,

Well, the cat is well and truly out of the bag, actually, come to think of it that always seemed like a bit of an odd phrase to me. Whenever our cats are merrily rummaging about in a bag it’s somewhat obvious and hardly a secret. Perhaps, a more apt saying would be, the cat is in the bag and very happy about it, indeed. But I digress.

For those who haven’t seen our proclamations on social media, our recent visit to the States was in fact the latest step in a very long quest to form a family of our very own. If all goes according to plan, Baby Jantoine – don’t worry that’s just a cute placeholder and not a narcissistic mashing of our names together that would be the bane of our progeny’s existence – shall be arriving early in the New Year.

To say we’re excited is a bit of an understatement, although there is a healthy mix of fear in there as well – I mean I can just about manage to keep my own life in check, how am I supposed to do that for a completely dependent infant, whilst in a sure to be thoroughly sleep deprived state? My empathy for my poor parents grows daily. Luckily, we have a very strong base of supportive people, which will allow me to muddle through somehow.

One of the main reasons for the trip was to attend our baby’s second ultrasound, where our little bundle of joy danced about more than my good self at a Kylie concert. To be fair, if I was being poked and prodded, in the middle of taking a nice cosy nap, I’d be doing my very best to move away from the source of the rude intrusion as well.  It was also a chance for us to finally meet our wonderful surrogate, Tara, and her equally delightful family, face to face – all of our previous contact having been of the virtual kind. Thankfully, everything went swimmingly, with our greatly enjoying their gracious hospitality. This didn’t come as a huge surprise, however, as we have all grown rather close over the lengthy process – well into our second year. In truth, we have already come to think of them as family and can’t imagine better people to be coupled with on this fascinating journey.

Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels…

As Australia is still struggling to work out who’s in charge after the election, days after the event, I’m wont to contemplate on the nature of government and the pitfalls of democracy. Not that I’m advocating dictatorships, mind you, but the system of elected officials isn’t all kittens and rainbows either. Admittedly, I haven’t always been particularly politically inclined, but living in France for a good while has altered my perspective somewhat and I now find myself very interested in the machinations of those who govern us.

I dare say I am far from alone in thinking that the majority of politicians are generally a bunch of professional liars who would happily harvest their grandmother’s organs to win an election. They lie about their opponents; they lie about their campaign promises and when they do on occasion deign to tell the truth, it’s usually in such a diluted form as to be barely recognisable.

Cut The Bull!

We may have had a change in Prime Minister in Australia not so long ago – the fourth in five years, mind you – but the conservative, backward attitude remains the same. Why oh why is it so difficult to change the definition of marriage to offer equality to all? They did it once to exclude same-sex unions without a great deal of legal fuss so I see no reason why they can’t change it once again. A free vote amongst the politicians themselves would easily do it. Honestly, I can’t believe that this continues to be such a divisive issue.

This is obviously a topic that is dear to my heart as it affects not only family, but also my friends and myself. Granted, I’ve been able to realise my dreams of legally wedded bliss in my adopted homeland but I’m still forbidden do it in my motherland. One shouldn’t have to flee your own country simply to get hitched. Australia is better than that…or it damn well should be.

And the promise of a plebiscite, are they kidding??? It’s purely a stalling tactic by the current government, which is hell-bent on dragging it out for as long as possible in order to delay the inevitable change in law. Our fearful leader, Malcolm Turnbull, claims that it will allow every Australian to have their voice heard, even though he was originally against holding the plebiscite in the first place. Spending well over one hundred million dollars to ask a question they already know the answer to – polls have consistently showed that it has had majority support for the past few years – and which won’t be even legally binding, leaving the government to do what they please anyway. Several politicians have already stated their intention to vote against marriage equality regardless of what the Australian people say.

Open Homes and Open Hearts.

Hey Campers,

This is a long overdue missive to thank those most wonderful people who hosted and generally looked after me during my Australian sojourn. I don’t mean my family, of course, as they had no choice but to take me in. Rather, I’m referring to my fabulous friends who provided me with companionship, somewhere to sleep and most importantly WiFi.

I do make a point of staying with friends when I make the long trek back home, as it means I get to spend more time with them one-on-one, which I rather enjoy. Whether or not they felt the same after my visit is up for debate. Also I find that staying in someone’s home is always so much more comfortable than a hotel – not to mention a great deal cheaper… although I do always like to pay them back for their kindness through presents and food.

My first hospitable hosts were Glen & Greig – or as I like to think of them – my very own Burt & Ernie…well they have been together since I was naught but a child.  These lovely lads have hosted me many times over the years and have seen me through quite a few changes and traumas. Their converted warehouse in the inner west is a most spacious lodging and a brilliant venue for parties. Their guest bedroom is a former shipping container that has been used for a myriad of things – a great a many of which I can’t mention in polite company.

Then came the delightful Daniel, whose centrally located apartment proved most handy when having to freshen up between my various rendezvous. Not to mention the lovely time we spent bonding on the couch while drinking and watching old episodes of Star Trek Voyager. Replete with a gym and pool in the basement it also helped me fight off all the holiday calories I was intent on consuming.

hosts

Lucky number three was the ever-friendly Feargal and his beautiful Art Deco apartment in the city. Not only was the building itself a delight to behold, but the city and harbour views from the rooftop terrace were simply stunning. I was also lucky enough to be ferried about the place on his scooter, which is all very liberating as you zip through the traffic on a hot summer’s day and never have to worry about parking upon arriving at your destination.

The bubbly Bastien was the next to have the pleasure of my company…well I enjoyed myself at any rate.  Her wonderfully thick, and insanely healthy, morning smoothies are the perfect start to every day. Another conveniently situated residence – I wouldn’t have friends anywhere else – right by Rushcutter’s Bay park, it also had amazing view of the striking Sydney cityscape. The nearby rail line also brought back fond memories of my childhood where our house was in a similar position. Don’t know why I find it so comforting – possibly something to do with long things going into tunnels… who can say?

The next charming couple to welcome me into their home, when I ventured up North to the balmy climes of Mackay, was the marvellous Jason and Shiran. Their house backed onto the beach and every morning it was like waking up to a tropical paradise, which it pretty much is really. During my time there, Jason, who is a fashion designer by trade, rescued a crumbling PVC coat of mine that had been very much on its last legs, and fashioned not one, nor two but five new pieces from it in a single day – the man is a miracle worker, I tell you. I can’t wait to debut the new outfit at a suitably themed event in gay Paris in the not too distant future.

The last kindly soul to provide me with shelter was the generous Gav in his brand new swinging bachelor pad. Back in the heart of the gaybourhood, it was only ever a quick hop, step and a skip to wherever I needed to be to meet with my adoring fans – or anyone that turned up at the events I organised. I do blame Gav, however, for introducing me to both the Cronut and its equally as fattening cousin, the Cruffin.

Truly, I was absolutely spoiled in my time there and can’t wait to repay the favour to all those who wish to come visit us in gay Paris…. just make sure you book well in advance to secure your place at the Pampered Parisian Housecat Café.

Tchao! Tchao!!!

Moments in Mackay…

If bronzed, half-naked men with a penchant for tattoos are your cup of tea then I heartily recommend a trip to Mackay to quench your thirst. I recently had the pleasure of visiting this Northern Australian city, during my down under tour, and found it to be all rather heavenly – the combination of balmy weather and equally as hot men undoubtedly contributed to my very pleasant stay.

Admittedly, I was quite spoiled by my hosts – dear friends from my former Sydney life – whose generous hospitality gave me the impression of staying in a wonderfully relaxing resort. The beach view from my balcony, coupled with the soft sounds of the waves lapping against the shore, only added to the tropical getaway vibe. Not to mention the apparently endless, daily cocktails – Jimipolitons – a lovely mix of sparkling raspberry and Beluga Vodka. Indeed, it was just like a mini-holiday within my holiday, as I wasn’t in a great rush trying to see a whole host of different friends and family and was able to spend my time doing nothing but writing and sunbaking – predictably I was far more successful with the latter but it’s best not to dwell on such things.

The Ties That Bind.

Hey Campers,

Let me tell you dear reader, last weekend was a maelstrom of emotion; so much so that’s it’s taken nearly a week to recover. Well, maybe not quite to that extreme but my mood did swing from delighted to dejected and a made quite a few stops along the way. The cause for all this great turbulence of feeling was, unsurprisingly, family-related.

The first event to throw my world into upheaval was dropping off my beloved husband at the airport on Saturday afternoon, as his quick sojourn is sadly already over – the one consolation is that the time I’ve spent here has sped by at an alarming rate meaning that we shall be reunited again soon enough. There wasn’t a great deal of time to dwell over this, however, as I then had to drive like a demon back up the coast to make it back in time for my niece Chloe’s naming day ceremony – which I wretchedly missed by about fifteen minutes. On a side note, if my brother-in-law happens to be reading this – it was his car I borrowed – by “demon” I obviously meant quite carefully and around the sped limit…ish.

Fortunately, all was not lost as I did make it back in time for the shock twist to Chloe’s special day – the wedding of her parents. Admittedly, it wasn’t a surprise to me as I’d been let into the secret a few weeks beforehand. So yes, I attended the wedding of yet another sister, and have yet anoter new brother-in-law. Honestly, it almost seems like we’re recruiting for a cult at times.

Nice Day for a White Wedding.

Hey Kids,

This past weekend we welcomed yet another new addition to our ever growing clan, in the form of a brand new brother-in-law, Adam. Yes, that’s right, my baby sister Rebekah is all grown up and made a most beautiful bride…although she’ll always be my little sea monkey no matter how big she gets. I’m man enough to admit that I shed a tear or two – buckets worth – throughout the proceedings. Thankfully, I was far from the only one with many an emotional, bleary-eyed guest to be seen – admittedly this may have been just as much due to the copious amounts of alcohol consumed.

The wedding was actually one of the reasons that my biennial tour was moved from its habitual Xmas/New Year slot to earlier in the year – that and the many first birthday parties of my nieces that I couldn’t bear to miss. I was extremely honoured when my sister asked my brother and myself to co-MC the reception. One can well imagine the big brother pride I felt to be a part of such an important day…even if I wasn’t going to be the centre of attention.

And so it begins…

Hey Campers,

That old adage is most definitely true – Time does fly when you’re a blond having far too much fun…or something along those lines. The first two weeks of my Australian sojourn have seemingly disappeared in the blink of an eye. That being said, I’ve still managed to squeeze in a fair bit of socialising and family time…not to mention so much sun worship an Aztec would be jealous.

My first host – the delightful Daniel – provided a most wonderful base of operations for me to attack the long weekend in Sydney. Centrally located, I was only ever a quick prance away from getting to my pressing engagements and a short walk of shame back home afterwards. The gym and pool in the basement were also rather handy in cleansing away any sins that I happened to consume/perform during my many outings.