Sparky Travels

June 28, 2010

Book Review Pt2

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Neil Gaiman does fantasy better than almost anyone else and his novel American Gods is an enthralling adventure. Twisting the symbolism we take for granted in life into intricate plots about worlds existing in the shadows of ours, as The Guardian would say. Gods, in America as The Sun would say. Cracking read.


Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything is a brilliant book that attempts to provide exactly what it’s title says. As a travel writer, Bryson displays a layman’s curiosity in how the earth and universe work. With anecdotes and descriptions of the people who shaped our understanding of the world and simple descriptions of complex ideas it really makes you marvel and the wonders of life.


Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh is an unconventional book, about mathematics and the personalities behind it. It tells the true story about a lone englishman’s attempt to prove one of the greatest ever mathematical theories. Gets kinda bogged down in the middle and not as good a book as I hoped it’d be.


Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein is the story of a human raised by martians returning to earth and trying to understand humanity. Overly long and although it starts from an interesting premise it becomes muddled with attempts to be intentionally provocative. Controversial in its day it has now aged badly.


Joseph Heller’s  Catch 22 is  hysterical. No really, it’s probably the funniest book I’ve ever read (yes, better than Joe Pasquale’s latest opus) and clever with it too. No surprise that this is a classic. A book I look forward to reading again. Heller’s blending of the realities of battle and the ridiculousness of war until the two become indistinguishable is masterful while his characters are full and colourful.


June 11, 2010


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I arrived in Melbourne at 8:30am after a 12hr overnight bus and met my good mate Russell in the city centre. Weet-bix were holding a Socceroos celebration so we had a free breakfast (who knew that the secret to british weetabix’s tastiness was the letter ‘a’ between weet and bix?!)and saw some Aussie ’soccer stars’. Russell and Susie showed me round the city as I stayed with them for a week. We went to Victoria markets which had food as lavish as Harrods but other goods straight out of Ingliston market. We also walked along the Beach from Brighton to St Kilda and spent a few hours in funky Fitzroy. I spent the week orientating myself with Melbourne and beginning the job hunt.

On the 24th of May, Helen arrived back from New Zealand. Fuss and Susie kindly let her stay as well. A week later we thought we’d better move out before we outstayed our welcome. We Checked into the Back of Chapel Hostel nearby in Prahran.

I managed to find some work at the Good Food & Wine show at Melbourne Exhibition Centre from the 2nd to the 7th of May. For the first two days I was helping set up the stalls for a promotions company. Along with the two Aussies we were working for there were a couple of fellow casual workers: Swedish pretty-boy and semi-pro footballer Marcus and a guy from Mauritius who’s name escapes me. The Mauritian only lasted half a day before quitting after copping some abuse from the local forklift drivers. We only noticed he’d gone when the boss got a text saying simply “sorry guys, I’m slowing you down”. The days of the show itself were spent in the stock room frantically filling showbags to cope with the demand. The bags were $10 and contained $70 worth of sample products. e.g. Angostura Bitters, aloe-vera drinks, cereal bars, lip balm, teabags, spicy broad beans and other unappetising products.
The hours were long and hectic especially on the last day where it was 2 showbags for $10. One perk of the job was that we were able to take away as much swag as we could carry home at the end of the show. We’ll never run out of spicy broad beans ever again!

While I was working at the show, Helen was trying to find us somewhere more comfortable to stay. The Back Of Chapel hostel was small and situated in a nice area but the place itself wasn’t great. Our room was tiny and cold and the place was pretty grubby. The people were friendly enough but we were tired of hostels and just wanted a place to settle. Most of the time we were there I was working late and it wasn’t ideal with the kitchen closing at 9pm.
Every day Helen and I had been checking gumtree and other websites trying to find a place to rent. Without full time jobs and no idea how long we were going to stay in Melbourne it was difficult to find a suitable place. Most 1 bedroom places were out of our budget and the majority of shared places were verging on, and in one case actually was, condemned.
Finally, on the 9th of June we found a shared house which suited and moved in the very next day. Our housemates are two couples, Dave and Crystal (English) and Marco and Tatiana (Brazilian). The house is in a private complex with a pool and gym.
The place is very homely and close to public transport. As an added bonus we are on the street parallel to Russell and Susie! Its almost worthy of singing the ‘Neighbours’ theme tune.

The Shrine War Memorial

"The Shrine" War Memorial

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