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 Hateful Mates.

What is wrong with people? Sadly, this is a question I find myself asking on a regular basis. What’s riled me up today, dear reader, you may ask? Well, that would be the recent unprovoked attacks on men in my beloved hometown of Sydney, with the gentlemen in question targeted simply for the being gay.

Of course, it wasn’t one lone bigot who attacked these men; rather, they were violently set upon by groups. How fucking cowardly! People may talk of mob mentality and use the defence of being swept up in the moment but that’s no excuse for such appalling behaviour. Theoretically, everyone has a brain and should be able to think for themselves.

For my part, I just can’t comprehend the mentality behind such hate crimes. Honestly, I don’t understand what they can possibly get out of it. Is their moral compass broken? Does it reaffirm their masculinity somehow? Do they feel somehow superior by inflicting pain? And who the fuck is raising these people?

To bobo, or not to bobo…

One criticism that I’ve heard levelled against Paris, time and time again, is that it’s basically a living museum, devoid of architectural innovation. Granted, its strict conservation laws have stopped a great deal of the development, which would bring it more in line with other modern metropolises. That being said, I don’t see that as being a particularly bad thing. Personally, I think part of Paris’ charm is that it hasn’t become one of those cities with a hodgepodge of skyscrapers marking the skyline.

I do, however, strongly contest that Paris is stuck in time. If anything, I think it has progressed into the modern age while holding onto its unique character. Indeed, there has been a sense of renewal and change quietly going on for many years. My part of Paris – the Dixième – is a fine example of this. Since moving here, close to a decade ago, we’ve noticed many new boutiques, speciality shops and restaurants taking over, and in turn the area has become ever so more bobo – bourgeois-bohemian.

This boboification has expanded even as far as Barbès, traditionally an area known for its cheapness and dubious character, especially around the metro station. It started a few years ago with the refurbishment of the Louxor cinema, which was protested against at the time by those who feared that it would, quite rightly as it turns out, start the process of gentrification in that area. A bright new shiny bistro, which wouldn’t look out of the place in the centre of Paris, has since popped up across from the cinema, with more places now under renovation.

Happy Australia Gay!

Even though, I’ve been living in Paris for the better part of a decade, I do still get a tad homesick from time to time. Usually, this happens around special occasions, such as family birthdays, Xmas, Mardi Gras…or anything involving a party really. So, I tend to celebrate my Antipodean heritage whenever I get the chance. As was the case last Sunday when I hosted an early, celebratory Aussie-themed lunch in honour of our National Day.

To be honest, it was partly due to my trying to banish the winter blues with thoughts of summer in Sydney. To invoke the true spirit of the occasion, I pranced about in a brightly coloured t-shirt, short swimming trunks and a pink Australian flag worn like a cape – a present from a dear friend during a long ago Mardi Gras season. Not that I’ve ever needed much encouragement to play dress up, mind you.

Also, I do so enjoy trying to convert foreigners to the ways of the land Down Under, particularly in relation to our food. To this end, the lunch was a bit of a hybrid affair – much like my marriage – with a delicious mix of Australian and French fare…baguettes and wine thrown together with a sausage sizzle and TimTams. I even managed to have non-Australians trying and actually liking Vegemite. Admittedly, I was a bit sneaky about it, as I’d spread just a smidge of the salty, black goodness inside a cob of bread and then covered it with a ridiculous amount of cheese – it is a bit of an acquired taste, after all.

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.

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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!!!

No Place Like Home…

As I sit here in my ever-so-comfy bed, loyal kitties by my side and the central heating cranked up high to stave off the frostiness of the approaching European winter, I find myself looking back upon my Australian sojourn with great fondness.  Indeed, I almost wish I were still back there, although being reunited with my husband and feisty felines more than makes up for missing the rest of the summertime. That being said, I could have done without the nearly 40° drop in temperature between Sydney and Paris upon my return.

Sadly, the second half of my trip whizzed past at an alarming rate, with the remaining four weeks gone faster than a packet of dark chocolate TimTams placed in front of my husband. Admittedly, the last week was tinged with sadness, in the wake of the Parisian terrorist attacks, which was coupled with an overwhelming urge to be back home with my nearest and dearest. Fortunately, I was still able to enjoy myself and fit in a great deal, with trips to Melbourne and Mackay, as well as bouncing between Sydney and the Hunter Valley, to see family and friends. Speaking of which, I shall have to write another missive thanking all of my wonderful hosts and hostesses for their graciousness.

My final Sydney Sunday saw me sent off in style at the Beresford, surrounded by a gaggle of gays and floating along in a cider-induced haze. There was also a Teamm8 fashion show, which consisted of ridiculously ripped guys prancing about in not a great deal of clothing – so nice of them to organise it for my farewell. Thankfully, I received a similarly warm welcome back home at a Mad Hatter Tea Party, where I introduced those in attendance to almost the entire TimTam range – ten different flavours in total. Unsurprisingly, these were then eagerly consumed…they do go awfully well with champagne, after all.

Off the Rails!

It beggars belief that a city of Sydney’s size and population doesn’t have a decent public transportation system. Give me the crowded, urine-soaked Parisian metro over Sydney trains any day!

Formerly City Rail – or Shitty Rail as it was more commonly referred to – Sydney Trains is well renowned for being woefully inadequate for an international city. Granted, I am probably spoilt by having lived in cities where the transportation of the masses actually works and runs much more efficiently.

Surprisingly, my dealings with the aforementioned organisation had gone rather well for the first few weeks of my holiday. Of course, the timing between trains did take some adjustment – fifteen minutes seems like a lifetime when you’re used to barely waiting for two. I was even marvelling at the ease of using the Opal card and its daily cap – very handy for popping all about the city and over to the beaches – as well as the cheapness of off-peak fares. This did, however, bring up another travel related issue. Why do Sydney Ferries charge the same fare all the day-long? Honestly, it shouldn’t cost the same amount for a twenty-minute ferry ride across the harbour as it does to go from Sydney to Newcastle…but I digress.

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.

The Bitch is Back and Barely Soiled Tour.

Hey Campers,

That’s right, dear readers, the Jimi has landed! Direct from Europe to bring you The Bitch is Back and Barely Soiled Tour, which is lasting an unprecedented two months! Reserve your places today for a gay old time!

It’s been some years since I’ve been back in my beloved homeland – well two but it feels so much longer…although one imagines not long enough for some of my “friends.” I must say that I’m glad to be back, even if the weather was a tad alarming for my arrival. Happily, the cold and rain has lifted and the sun and warmth has returned to the land. Just as well, really, as if I go back to Paris with anything less than a golden honey brown complexion, I shall be laughed at and no doubt ostracized.

Speaking of my Parisians, they sent me off in style, by which I mean a haze of alcohol. I was reassured many a time that I’d be terribly missed but that could have been more due to the aforementioned copious consumption of alcohol. I’ve already planned a similarly drunken gathering for my arrival there in November. But I digress.

God Botherers!

As my beloved Sydney prepares to celebrate one of its most magical events – the fabulous and altogether glamorous Mardi Gras – it saddens and angers me that there is still so much bigotry and intolerance in the world. A celebration of love, life and equality it’s a beacon of hope that also serves to illuminate the terrible darkness of discrimination. Of course it doesn’t help that the current Australian leader – he who must not be named – views us as something of an abomination and who’d be a dare sight happier if we all just climbed back into our beautifully appointed closets and left him in peace.