Sunday fun

Sundays are definitely my favourite day of the week at the moment. These are the days when we really plan very little, usually sleeping in before heading out later for something fun to do. We had had a quiet Saturday night, with Lotte preferring to stay home to get over her ‘flu shot and me going round to Crinnie’s to watch the new Lano and Woodley DVD. But we still needed to catch up on some sleep, so it was at least 11.00am before we got out of bed.

Our Sunday agenda was then organised: a yoga class at 4pm at Clifton Hill, and a party at 8pm. Somewhere in there we would need to eat, and there was some talk of stopping by Mayfields for a secret meeting or something, but that was as far as the planning went. As it turned out, the yoga class was really excellent (and badly needed). I have a major crick in my back at the moment and I need as much stretching and strengthening as I can get. Lotte also liked the class, although she found it pretty tough with her ‘flu-ridden muscles complaining to her all the way.

We did stop by Mayfields briefly and I got a few dances in before the secret meeting was completed. Then we offered The Swede a ride home because she was looking decidedly down in the mouth about not being able to dance. She finds out tomorrow if she will be going in for an operation on her hip. Poor Swede. After that it was straight to the cast party for Ursus & Nadeschkin. Nadja is a Lindy Hop friend from Switzerland whose show has been playing at the Comedy Festival. It was very good — we saw it on Wednesday night — and it was a big success from their point of view. The party was at a huge place on Richmond hill with a magnificent big outdoor spa, so Lotte and I braved the evening cold and took advantage of the bubbles. It was very warm in the spa and we soaked our yoga-extended muscles. There were only about 15 people at the party but it was fun just being at this place. It concluded with a battle for honour with a game called Boccerball — a sort of table soccer game where you have to roll large ballbearings down chutes to knock the ball into your opponent’s goal. I won my match 5-2!

Dutch brunches rule

Regular readers might recall that we were hosting a special Dutch Easter brunch on Friday morning with 10 of our friends squeezed into our living room. Lotte went to the Dutch shop in Blackburn especially to get supplies. These are all things you’d find in the pantry in most houses in Holland. It was funny to see the reactions as people tried out various things. I think the weirdest reaction was to Lotte’s favourite — vlokken (echte chocolade!). The closest equivalent to these chocolate shavings in Australian culture is hundreds & thousands or chocolate sprinkles. However unlike the Australian version, even grown ups sprinkle these real chocolate pieces on their bread for breakfast. Remarkably civilised, you’d think, but everyone just stared at Lotte when she suggested it.

[g-161879]

We also spent quite a while boiling and colouring eggs with food dye. The tradition is that there are at least 3 eggs per person. When you get your egg you’re supposed to challenge someone to an egg-breaking dual. The winner gets to fight another battle while the loser gets to eat their battered goog. My super egg was the outstanding performer, winning 10 battles (5 eggs, both ends) before finally cracking. I was pretty hungry by that stage.

[g-161880]

Doz brought her honeymooning friends from Malaysia & Singapore to the brunch. You can see them in the background in the photo above. They were really nice. We all went down to Fairfield Park Boathouse afterwards and mucked around at the concrete pagoda overlooking the river there. It has a decent floor for dancing and we put on a mix of swing, soul and hip hop stuff on our trusty portable CD player. The Swedes decided that dancing wasn’t good enough and started wrestling instead. I think Pelle was doing the splits while Linnea helped.

[g-161881]

Well, it all helped work up enough of an appetite so that we could go to Doz’s place for a Mexican feast afterwards. Then everyone else played board games while I slept on the couch. It was an excellent finish to an awesome day.

One ‘flu over the Easter eggs

It seems that there is some kind of ‘flu going around Melbourne, and today is Lotte’s third day in a row of suffering. I seem to have been lucky to escape with a day of headaches, whle she has the full-blown symptons. So she’s back at the doctor today for an assessment. Being an asthma sufferer, she has to be careful. Unfortunately this has put a bit of a dampener on the last day of work before Easter. The Easter Hop is tonight, but Lotte will probably miss it, and then we are having a Dutch Easter brunch at our place tomorrow. She’s concerned that she might not have enough energy to do everything she wanted to do before the brunch. Our plans for a getaway over part of Easter could also be in jeopardy.

Anyway the plan for tonight is that I’ll get there around 6.15pm, set up the Easter Hop decorations and organise the raffle. I have tickets and various prizes. Just need to get an Easter hamper of some sort today (mental note). Tomorrow we’ll be boiling lots of eggs (we seem to have about 4 dozen in the fridge at home) and painting them, Dutchie style. Lotte’s also planning to make a few other Dutch treats like paasbrood (Easter bread filled with almond paste). Lekker. There should be about 12 of us at the brunch all up — quite a test for our humble abode. I’ll post pictures.

Sleepy Sunday

[g-154014] [g-154015]

Yaawwwwn! Sunday morning was a sleepy one. With both of us feeling somewhat the worse for wear, we headed around the corner to our favourite cafe and ordered the French toast with maple syrup, stewed rubarb and pistachio ricotta. Hit the spot.

Later we went down to the Fairfield boathouse and saw lots of African and Aboriginal music. We also did a bit of dance training on our own stuff, which we like to do as often as we can. Hopefully we’ll get more time to do it in the future. It always takes a while to work things out and at the moment we’re just exploring new options for performance stuff.

Party time

The other thing we did yesterday was attend parties. First there was Olivia’s 30th at La Camera at Southgate. An excellent lunch with good company, including our new friends Sherry and Jason. For some reason we’ve met them several times over the past few weeks at dinner and jazz related activities organised by Ben & Olivia. We just seemed to hit it off. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia, and has the kind of unshakable accent you can only find in the south of the US. The trick is that the Georgian drawl shares some vowels with a broad Australian accent, and having been here for a couple of years Jason tends to say names and proper nouns in the native lingo, so you’re left staring at his mouth wondering exactly where to place him. Anyway it turns out that Jason is a jazz and MST3K fan and Xbox enthusiast, so we have a lot to talk about. We’ve decided we’re getting together soon for an MST3K night.

Yesterday night after Dance Card we headed to The Swedes’ abode for their official housewarming. I can’t quite figure out why the house needed to be warmed, because they moved in a fair while ago and one of their housemates is moving out as well, but we had fun nonetheless. Here’s a pic, courtesy of Doz.

[g-153244]

Crazy Busy weekend

The weekend was all about hanging out with friends. It might have been a long weekend for most, but Lotte was working for much of the time and the University doesn’t believe in Labour Day so we had to make the most out of our time. So we organised a packed schedule.

Friday night was busy, with a 2 hour meeting with Ryan about the MLX video production followed by Diga Diga Doo (see previous post) while Lotte was working. I went to bed fairly late as a result, and Lotte came home with the new car around 10.30am. We went for breakfast at A Minor Place (pictured below) which is one of our favouite weekend indulgences.

[g-147289]

We decided we wanted to test out the new car and called the Swedes and the Crinster for an impromptu trip in search of a swim. It was a hot day and we felt like having some fun. We ended up at Sandringham beach at around 4.20pm, which meant that Lotte had a quick dip before we needed to get her to her shift. She was late even though we had the new shiny red auto at our disposal. I dropped her and headed back towards St Kilda to meet the others for what turned out to be a delightful meal at Soul Mama in St Kilda. Highly recommended. After wandering down Acland St for dessert at Big Mouth I headed back east to pic Lotte up. Phew — quite a few clicks on the digital odometer that day! The rest of the night involved some much needed household chores and an early night.

We must have been pretty tired because on Sunday morning we were nowhere near ready for James the Builder’s arrival (see previous post). That was pretty funny because we actually had to ask him to wait while we got out changed out of our jim jams. Oops. Well in our defence, he was a quarter of an hour early.

So after that we meet up with Doz at A Minor Place to plan out our trip to Europe. She’s going to come and hang with us at Hameau du Lac and then spend some time up in Holland.

After the Dozmeet we went to pick up Thepaulguy from the airport. TPG is here until Wednesday and will be staying at our place on his way out to the States for some film school interviews. Here’s a picture of Paul trying to look like Guy Sebastian:

[g-147292]

So after we picked up Paul we went over to a BBQ organised by Ali and Kat at the house they are sitting in Northcote. It’s been quite a while since I got to hang out with the swingtwins so it was really fun to see them, and once again I decided that it should happen more often.

[g-147293]

Then we all headed down to Mayfields. It was the first time back to Mayfields for a few of us for a loooooong time. Sam and I think we haven’t been there for about 2 years. DJ Doz was in da haus and Crin was there too. It was way too hot and I was wearing jeans but I still had fun.

[g-147290]

Afterwards we went to Trampoline in Brunswick Street and ate ice cream. I had pear-caramel, bloody orange and wild berry. The bloody orange was one of the nicest flavours of gelati I’ve ever had. Mmmmmmmm.

James the builder

Luckily for you, dear reader, this blog started well after a very long and very expensive court process involving a claim against the builder of our house. The short story is that the court found in our favour and we are now able to get the house fixed up entirely. This is the happy ending we’ve been waiting for.

James (not the original builder) is in charge of the reparations, and today he came over to discuss the work with us. What we most wanted to know was whether and for how long we would have to vacate the premises, as well as a few other logistics. Would we need to move our stuff out? How long will all of the work take? Are you gonna fix the back door??

The news was all good, it seems. Work will start in about a month. We may not have to move out during that time at all. We will need to move our furniture around a fair bit though, because they’re going to bring the floorboards in our bedroom up to do some ventilation work. We’ve decided it’s a good idea to find some storage space for some of our boxes of stuff to provide more shifting room while the work is going on.

The builders will re-hang all of the doors and windows in the whole house that need adjusting after the work too. They’ll replace all the broken tiles and fix the paintwork and skirting boards. And all the cracked plaster will come off too, of course. Dusty work, but they also clean up as they go, so it shouldn’t be too disruptive. Very good news.

The best thing of all was that James himself was patient and easy to talk to. He gave us a lot of confidence without trying hard at all — he’s got about 22 years experience and for the last 3 or 4 years has been doing only insurance repair jobs like ours. We just can’t wait for them to get started.

And here it is

Lotte arrived up this morning after her overnight shift with the new Corolla. And here it is:

[g-144627]

The only sad part of the story is that they apparently didn’t fit the driver’s side front wheel guard correctly, so that on its maiden journey the wheel guard came loose and started rubbing on the tyre. It snapped off, of course, and wore down immediately. Even though Lotte pulled over straight away, the damage had been done.

[g-144633]

Did I say Thursday?

Silly us. We thought that when they called us to say that the car would be ready on Wednesday afternoon, and we called back to specifically arrange to pick it up on Thursday, that they had meant it would actually be there for us to pick up on Thursday.

What they apparently meant was that they would be quite happy to take our money on Thursday, but that the car would not be able to in fact deliver the car until Friday afternoon.

So Lotte is now on a train home without the car even though she’s dropped off the cheque into their greedy little hands.

Note to self: next time we sign a car contract we should never allow anyone to write “ASAP” anywhere.

Thursday is New Car Day

We take delivery of our new car today. Well, our almost new car. It’s a demo model 2004 Corolla Ascent, straight from that sunny playground of the rich and famous known as Nunawading. Not many people know that “nunawading” is actually an aboriginal word meaning literally “heartland of suburban new and used car dealers”. In some dialects it also translates to simply “shady deal”.

The story about our own shady deal is short and quite boring, but this is a blog, so I am going attempt to make it seem much more entertaining and involved than it really was.

Last week we began our journey by visiting the Westpac website to apply for a personal loan. Before I get into the actual car purchasing bit, a word to the wise about financing: you know those interest rates that you see quoted on the website? The ones that say their rates are (unequivocally, it would seem) between 8.95 and 10.5% or somesuch? They are just joshing about that really. But they won’t tell you the punchline until you have completed the entire process of application, made your offer on your car, and have supplied the contract to them for scrutiny! It’s quite hilarious actually — a really good belly laugh at a time when you are not feeling very vulnerable at all! You are sitting in front of some kind of jumped up bank teller with greasy hair and a cheap suit who hands you three copies of an extensive loan agreement with the essential details printed right on the front. The interest rate catches your eye… 10.95% it states. Right there. In front of your eyes. A rate that was not within the range quoted on the website. A rate that actually doesn’t appear anywhere on the website. It seems they calculate your actual interest rate based on dividing the total sum of your loan by what they think the value of your new car is (without any of the on road costs or insurance). If that figure comes to greater than 120% (in Westpac’s case) you fall into a new category of loan — meaning a higher interest rate.

So you are staring at your bank person in disbelief when he informs you that you were told about the interest rate. Weren’t you?

Anyway so before all this, we received notification about 3 days after applying online that we had been successful. So last weekend I went out to the eastern suburbs in search of a new car. I wasn’t completely decided on which model I wanted, but I was pretty sure I wanted something along the lines of a Toyota Corolla. Very reliable, 1.8 L engine, hatchback, and a few extra features without being over the top. I decided to look in some used car lots first. Surprisingly the sales guys (why are there no saleswomen in used cars?) were pretty frank and forthright with their information. I expected them to try to convince me to get something similar to what I wanted. They all, without exception, told me that I should just go straight to a Toyota dealer if I wanted a late model used Toyota. They just don’t get many of them in used car yards.

That made it simple. I headed to Nunawading Toyota to look at used late model Corollas. The weird thing is, they didn’t have many. Most were not quite what I wanted — either over 100,000kms, autos, or higher end models with spoilers and leather steering wheels for a small matter of about $10,000 more than I wanted to spend. So I strolled over to the new car section to look at the sticker price on the new model Ascent (the lowest end model). Turns out I actually found a sales guy who was helpful. He said they had a demo model Ascent that might be cheaper and only had 2,500kms on the clock. So I took it for a test drive. He gave me a price that was still a bit out of reach. I said I might give him a call back but it would have to be a lower price.

Then I went and looked at another Toyota dealer in the city and found absolutely nothing in the right category at all. There was a 99 sports model that was more expensive than the demo Ascent. Sure it had a sunroof, but who cares? One more thing to go wrong I reckon. So the next day Lotte and I went out to Nunawading to test drive the demo. We hadn’t really decided if we would make an offer but I wanted Lotte to see the car for herself. While we were waiting we wandered over and looked at the used cars and there was an Ascent I hadn’t seen the day before — it had 35,000 on the clock and was a reasonable price. This is where the story gets weird. We decided to try and ask to see the demo model, but it turns out they didn’t have it in the showroom — it’s being used by one of the new car sales guys as a company car. Our new car sales guy wasn’t working either, so another guy referred us back to the used car guys to get a test drive of the used one sitting there. It was the spitting image of the demo anyway.

We approached a young guy and asked for a test drive. “I can ask, but I highly doubt it”, he said. He spent about 20 seconds on his phone talking to his manager (apparently) and seemingly talking him out of the idea of a test drive himself. I wasn’t impressed — we hadn’t made our mind up to buy either the demo or the used car in front of us, and we were being told they didn’t do test drives on used cars just for the sake of selling a new car. “They are an independent business” he told us. I politely told him that he was saying no to potential buyers who had travelled about an hour out of their way to come here and test drive a car. I asked for the manager. Strangely enough the manager was more than pleased with the idea and agreed immediately — making me think that maybe he hadn’t been on the end of the phonecall at all.

So we tested the car, and ended up having a brief chat about the difference in price before deciding to make an offer on the demo model. They didn’t like the price — in fact the new car sales guy told me after we’d signed the contract that he’d never put through a sale within $1k of the price we’d got it at. But I reckon demo models always go for a bit less. Anyway we got it for about $3k less than new. Not a bad deal.