Intending to leave work 4:00pm on Friday, but was a bit delayed. Friday afternoon was the office Secret Santa, and we had to wait for one of the guys who was flying in from on site. His plane was late, so we were late, however not too late. I was out of there at 4:15.
Home, feed the kidlings, feed me, get sorted.
Then the intention was to walk to the station and take the train to the airport, however about that time the heavens decided to open up and I changed my mind and decided to take a taxi to the train station instead. After a number of attempts to get through to either of the taxi companies I gave up and walked anyway. Thankfully the rain had been brief. Trying to get through to either of the taxi companies on a Friday or Saturday night is hard to do. Trying to do it this close to Christmas with all the Christmas parties going on is next to impossible.
Running a little bit late by this stage (not really a problem as I was intending to get there fairly early anyway) which meant by the time I got to the train station (hot and muggy, ugh!) the station office had closed. I just barely had the money to get my ticket from the ticket machine ($14.10) and then had to stand around and wait. Took the train to central, and then had to stand around a wait more, and then finally got to the airport about an hour behind schedule, but still an hour before the plane took off (I tend to be paranoid).
There was a lady on the Airtrain complaining on her mobile phone (which she was on the entire trip to about six different people) about how she tried for about 2 hours to get through to the taxi company and couldn't and she was going to write and complain, winge, winge, winge... I was very close to telling her what a dumb bint she was (considering how short her skirt was bint is probably a good start) but thankfully I decided not to. :)
I love Virgin Blue web check in. I had checked in that afternoon via the web interface, so when I got to the airport I skipped the big check in line and got in the much smaller and much quicker bag drop off line and was out of it in less than 5 minutes. Then was through the security station and to the gate and wait. My iPod Nano proved to be a big help as it made the waiting so much more enjoyable.
I always feel wrong at the airport. I didn't get on my first plane until I was in grade 8 (I was 13) and that was for the big overseas trip to Canada to meet all my relatives. As a result I've always had a sense of awe with regard to air travel. Sitting at an airport doesn't feel right for me, because only important people fly. It's an odd feeling that I've had ever since then.
Took off on time at 8:35. Flight was uneventful, and passed very quickly with the iPod Nano and the book I was reading (the first three of the Anita Blakely: Vampire Hunter novels - think trashy goth/horror style, so bad it was pretty good).
Landed at Melbourne a few minutes past midnight local time (without daylight savings it was a few minutes past 11 Queensland time) and got met by Hilary (arienmir, grabbed my bag (yay for short waits) and trundled off to her car and the trip back to St Kilda.
Of course we we stayed up and chatted, so I didn't get to bed until sometime after 1:30 local time.
Got the wake up phone call from paradigmshifty at 6:22am local time, and about half an hour after that I jumped in his car and we headed off to Avalon airport to pick up nikkicat13. We arrived a short time after she did, so I helped her grab her bags while Stephen stayed with the car so we wouldn't have to pay for parking, and then transported her with lots of chatting to the house of kitling, nigelw and others. Eventually people worked out some sort of plan, so we left her there and headed off to Carlisle street at Balaclava for Stephen to buy some tea. We also stopped and had lunch.
Word of advice: Feast on Carlisle (240 Carlisle Street, Balaclava) has what I consider to be the best chicken I have ever tasted, plus their service is superb and the salads look really good. Give 'em a go people.
Then back to Hil's place, and after some more chatting (there seemed to be a lot of that going on) Hil and I went into the city to meet up with people at the Lounge. I took a detour via Haighs for more chocolate (I have some for you greenglowgrrl) and then to the Lounge for a large part of the afternoon. There were a lot of people there and I can't remember who most of them are, but I had fun anyway.
Hil and I had been intending to wander back home and then drive to teknohippi's place for the party, but we ended up joining a few others (kitling and vaingloriesque I think) and taking the train directly there, after doing a brief detour to do some shopping for what we were bringing to the bbq. Hil and I ended up having peri-peri chicken burgers with lettuce, tomato and cheese. Very yummy!
The party was fun. Fi and Adam have a lovely house, and a lot of very fun friends. Much breakages of psuedonym777 occurred (I ended up getting 5 1/2 points over the weekend), and at one stage I was laughing so hard I couldn't breath (ask Kim about the day her father exploded the custard). kitling does great mushrooms! Lots of chatting and evil plans. Memo to self: Find out who I have to talk to to submit games to Pheno next year.
Eventually we left and Hil and I got a lift with thorfinn and seedy_girl. Something weird was going on in the city and streets were closed, so getting home was an interesting experience. Then to bed after a very long and tiring day.
Sunday got up and made my way into the city for the love_diversity rally. I was running a bit late, but so were they. What I saw of it was good. Unfortunately I had to run away part way through because I was freezing! When I packed I hadn't expected freezing cold weather, so I didn't pack any long sleeve shirts or any jackets or jumpers, so I had to buy myself something or I would freeze. Since it was "summer" no one had jackets, but I did pick up a very nice long sleeve shirt from Colorado, so I was happy with that. I also bought donuts and distributed them to people back at the rally.
As the rally was about to turn into the march, someone handed me an end of one of the banners, and I ended up carrying it at the front of the march for the first part of the march. As a result I ended up on ABC news (http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200512/r67675_187311.asx - we only get a brief showing as most of the article is on the Sydney peace rally, but I'm there.)
Then to the Treasury gardens for a picnic and a lot of fun. I ended up sunburnt. After arriving and getting settled, psuedonym777, punk_rock_nerd and I wandered off to buy food for the picnic. We wandered here and there and broke Fergie a couple more times and ended up missing the visit from nikkicat13 and friends. Oh well. We got back and ate our food (Nando's chicken and chips) and ate other people's food, and other people at our food, and it was fun.
Eventually joined in to the frisbee game that was going on and had fun with that as well. After a while I sat out of it, theoretically because I was tired, but also because I wanted to pull the camera out and take photo's, which I did. The picnic finished up about 6 or so, and I made my way back home.
Official numbers are about 250 people for the rally, and about 400 people for the picnic. Numbers where down on what people were expecting, but I think that was mainly due to the rain more than anything else. It was overcast and cloudy for the rally, and we had a little bit of light rain for part of it, and then it decided to rain during the march to the gardens and then clear up for the picnic.
Made my way back to Hil's place (with a phone call from a non-sober Hil while I was in the tram) got ready and then wandered down to Soulmama at St Kilda beach. Got there about 10 to 8 and waited for the rest of them to show up.
The one thing I still find hard to get used to while in Melbourne in the summer is the time of day. I was sitting in Soulmama's at about 8pm and it was still bright sunshine outside. It wasn't even looking like twilight, it was full sun. Weird.
People turned up and things got fun. There ended up being 10 of us for dinner (me, arienmir, gypsyamber, Sean, punk_rock_nerd, psuedonym777, nikkicat13, kitling, the_tao and dancingnat) so we ended up doing the group banquet option. We also started breaking the wait staff.
Our waiter was a rather cute guy by the name of Rob. Rob had a good sense of humour and joked around with us, but I don't think he was originally expecting us to play back as much as we did. :) At one point nikkicat13 was hugging someone who had just arrived (dancingnat I think) and he walked in to get new drink orders. He of course pretends that he's next in line to get a hug from Nikki. Nikki of course notices this and stands up and goes to give him a hug. The look on his face was priceless. The "They're not supposed to fight back" look of shock combined with large quantities of amusement.
Dinner was great. I whole-heartedly recommend Soulmama even if you are not a vegetarian. The food is so superb that even devout carnivores should enjoy the food. thorfinn and seedy_girl arrived in time for dessert, and much dessert was had. Then unfortunately people had to go (it was almost midnight by this stage) so people started making their goodbye's. Thorfy, Cara, Simon and Fergie joined myself and Hilary back at Hilary's place for a while before they went as well.
I got a Christmas present from Fergie! It's a lovely coaster set in a Celtic design with a dragon holder for them all. It's also a phallic object, something that Fergie didn't realise until we pointed it out. He's a lovely boy.
Got to bed around 2, and got up again around 6 to get ready to run away for an 8 o'clock flight. The ever-lovely Hilary gave me a lift to the airport thankfully, and again I was thankful for Virgin Blue Web Check-in. Then a short wait till boarding and another uneventful flight, except this time I was actually wanting to fall asleep on the plane. Got in a bit early at about 10 to 9 Queensland time. I decided not to take the train and walk, but decided to take a taxi the whole way.
Got home and the kids weren't sure whether they missed me or we annoyed at me. Eventually they decided they missed me. :) Fed them, sorted myself out and made it to work by midday. Actually had some work to do (shock! horror!) and then after work had a personal training appointment at the gym. By the time I got home from all of that I was completely and absolutely stuffed!
Went to bed early on Monday night, for some strange reason.
Photo's for the weekend are at http://pics.livejournal.com/halloranelder/gallery/0000dfzs. However, due to the fact I don't have permission from all the people I took photo's from, that gallery is limited to my friends only, so you will need to be on my friends list and logged in to view them. If I have a photo of you there and you don't even want that much visibility on the web. let me know and I will restrict them to only the people you want to be able to see them.
Thank you all for a wonderful weekend. See most of you at Arc.