Tuesday, April 17


Ze blog is on ze move!!!

I'm tired of the limitations of blogger, and I want to revamp my blog with a new look, a new name and a new panache.

So we are moving. Ash Reports is no more (though I will probably be dragging my archive of old posts over to my new home).

My new blog is called betty loves blogging, and you can find it at http://bettylovesblogging.typepad.com.

Please bear with me while I experiment with the design over there, give me any feedback, and please update any links you have on your own blogs. Thanks lovely lovely readers.

Monday, April 16

Maybe Kate and Wills...

... just got tired of each other. Grew apart.

(I'm talking Kate Middleton and Prince William here for the clueless)

Maybe there was no royal family conference. The Queen probably didn't butt in. Maybe Kate and Wills had a screaming match with each other in the kitchen and decided to end it. Maybe she was sick of being chased. Maybe she was sick of him never doing the dishes. Maybe he wants to try and find himself before making a big commitment. Maybe they are just young, changable, and everyone should get over it.

It seems that the most plausable explanation (that their lives had changed dramatically in the past four years and they had possibly grown apart due to that) has been completely overlooked. But hey, that's not an exciting read, is it?

That is all.


Sunday, April 15


My housemate was baking cupcakes for a friend's 21st, so I decided to get in the way with my camera to play around with black and white. And then I helped iced some. And then I ate some. And they were good.

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The Great Escape Festival

Over the Easter long weekend I went to the Great Escape music festival at the Newington Armory at Homebush. It went for three days, and it was Glastonbury-style, with camping (I didn't camp), and it even had really cold weather and constant drizzle, as well as mud. But other than the weather it was pretty good, saw some cool acts. Missy Higgins played some of her new stuff with such bravado that I will probably rush out and get the album as soon as it comes out. Also saw some cool bands that I hadn't heard of before like Fourplay, Coda, Waiting for Guiness, Lou Rhodes and stuff. Ziggy Marley bought the peace and da love man... the mosh smelt so strongly of weed it was amazing, but it was very peaceful for a mosh! Bob Evans, as well as Ben Kweller, were very cool indeed, and the John Butler Trio also did an amazing job at holding the Saturday crowd there until the end despite the freezing weather.
Overall it was pretty cool... (disclosure: I had a complimentary ticket to the festival). There were markets and rides and stuff, and the stage down by the riverside was very chilled, and with the sun setting over the Parramatta River, quite a gorgeous setting. It wasn't at all crowded, plenty of muddy grass to hang out and chat on.
I didn't take many pics of the bands or anything unfortunately, so sorry bout that.

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Thai photos

Here are a couple of photos I took while doing a food review for work a week or so ago. It got me thinking... being a food photographer would be a pretty awesome job. Food doesn't talk back... it doesn't blink when the flash goes off... and you would get to eat the yummy food after the shoot. Sounds like a pretty sweet gig really. Dealing with the chefs might not be so fun though.

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Thursday, April 5

Shorthand from hell

We have to do a Teeline shorthand course at work. Three hours once a week, a group of us young journos are crammed into a meeting room around a little crowded table to learn how to write quickly. Our teacher says we are the worst group we have ever had. Especially the girls... apparently we just sit around looking pretty. She also thinks that many of us may be dyslexic or stupid, and she has told us this on multiple occasions. A colleague of mine was called "ridiculous" in the first week, and at this weeks lesson we were all labelled "disgusting" and "a disgrace".

For our teacher, shorthand is a way of life. She even seriously recommended that we practice shorthand while driving... I kid you not. "Look at the street signs and think about how you would write them in shorthand" she said. Parramatta Rd... pedestrian on windscreen... accident... ambulance. How would I write that in shorthand? Maybe I could write my insurance details down in shorthand for whoever I ran in to, I'm sure they would appreciate that.

We are also apparently supposed to practice shorthand for several hours a day. In fact, our teacher vouches that if we read our shorthand book on the bus, people will approach us because we will be cool and they will think it is cool that we know shorthand. The only people that approach each other and talk on the bus are either nutters or someone trying to steal your wallet/ipod/phone while distracting you. I don't want to attract these people by reading squiggles in public.

She also actively encourages us to go home and show our shorthand to mum and dad, who will apparently be impressed. This goes down really well with a group of cynical young professionals in their early or mid 20s. We really appreciate being patronised. The beauty and lifestyle writers are particularly disgruntled at having to waste their time at a shorthand class. As one girl beautifully put it; "Why do I need to know this? I write about handbags and lip gloss."

The irony is that learning something that is supposed to save time is really wasting me a lot of time. Time that I doubt I will ever get back. When I get back to the office I have a backlog of phone calls and stuff to tee up. The sad thing is that my own pride will not allow me to suck at shorthand and bomb out on the speed test, so I feel like I should actually practice it at some point. *sigh* It only goes until July....

It seems like shorthand is some sort of right of passage passed on from the old days of newspapers when stories were clanged out on typewriters and nobody went to university. You have to learn it, but then barely anybody actually uses it. Ask most editors or high up journos if you need shorthand and they will say "oh yeah it's really important", ask them if they actually use it and they will often answer "no" or "not much". I can see it would be important for court reporting and stuff like that, but it's just such a chore...


Sunday, March 25

Something to love....

With the cold (poms.... don't laugh.... cold for Australia) weather starting to begin, it makes one want to nest. It makes one want to settle down, potter around the kitchen and make comfort food, and look after something. With no child (a very very good thing), no pet (also a good thing.... especially for the pet), no man (not such a great thing)... what can I mother and fuss over while indulging in seasonally influenced nesting?

Mine is the one in the blue pot. Aren't they cute? It was hard to decide which colour pot to choose. My last fish broke my heart by suiciding when life in the tank became too much for it, so hopefully this plant will live for a while.
I bought it at the Norton Street Festa, which was a big Italian festival happening in Leichhardt this weekend. There was lots of yummy food, stalls selling cute things, cultural performances and even Bob the Builder! Yes!!!
In a grand stroke of luck, I managed to lose my wallet while taking photos... and have it returned to me by a valiant policewoman on horseback. I was very grateful indeed.
Oh it's raining outside. I wonder if my plant needs attention?


Polled over

Working as an "election official" at a polling booth in the Balmain electorate for the NSW State election wasn't just a nice way to make a bit of cash for a days work... it also provided thrilling insights in to the following;
a) the complete lack of knowledge most people have about politics and the way in which the democratic system functions (even in an electorate with a high proportion of university educated professionals). This also includes people actually working at the polling booths, who frequently gave voters incorrect information about how to vote, what the different papers were for, and had no clue themselves.
b) voting is for everybody... that includes idiots, assholes, cranky old people and crazy people reeking of booze who spent all day drinking in a seedy bar and declared it loudly over and over again while I was trying to issue their ballot paper
c) counting things is boring, especially when it's not money

Some of the classic moments included dealing with people who when asked for their surname, would give me their first name.

"Good morning, surname please?"
Find Barry in electoral roll.
"first name?"
"Oh nah Barry's me first name. Barry Jones*."
Then have to find Jones in the electoral role while Barry grumbles about how long it all takes. This happened sooooooooooo many times.

Or people that would say a surname.... I would ask how it was spelt... they would say "oh, the usual way". Spelling Smith Smythe is not usual.

Or the people who didn't understand the question "are you enrolled in this electorate?" that they were asked in the queue. So they would get to me, make me search for their name, get shitty when it wasn't on the roll and rant about it for ages about how they had voted a million times before. When I ask where they live, they would answer a suburb that was sometimes as far away as Bankstown.

Another classic moment was a young gentleman who when handed his ballot papers, looked at me stunned and asked "so like how do I know what their policies are and stuff?".... I was gobsmacked, but withheld making a comment suggesting that maybe he should have taken notice of some of the media saturation coverage in the past few weeks.

Most people looked completely shocked to be handed two papers.... not just because of the size of the upper house "tablecloth" paper... but because a lot didn't seem to know there was an upper and a lower house.

Counting the papers was also interesting. One person (I assume a young gentleman) had drawn a giant picture of a penis and wrote "I have the biggest dick in the world" across the senate paper. I wonder if he realised it's an anonymous vote?

Another person wrote across their paper "this is such a huge waste of paper and is so bad for the environment". They then didn't vote. Maybe putting 1 in the box for the Greens would have made it less of a waste of paper?

A vote for the Fred Nile Christian Democrats was accompanied by a senate paper covered in quotes from the old testament. Freaky.

Ah, democracy.

*names changed to protect the stupid

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Monday, March 19

Happy birthday bridgey!

All the celebrations for a birthday for an inanimate object might seem a little crazy to most people, but Sydneysiders get it. They are happy to say happy 75th birthday to the harbour bridge, even if it can only give a frown in return.

The bridge means a lot to people. It is so distinctly Sydney, and many people cross it every day. It's also a symbol for struggle, progress and change... but over 75 years, it has stayed pretty much the same. And in a city where skyscrapers are constantly being built, torn down and rebuilt, and heritage suburbs are being tunnelled under to make room for new motorways, the fact that the bridge stays the same says a lot about it.
Inspired by the bridge's birthday, I headed down to Balmain East wharf last night to take a few photos. My lack of a tripod makes it difficult for night shots, so I ended up taking some rather "artistic" shots of the city at night. For me the bridge is significant because I used to work there for a while at Bridgeclimb, and because seeing the bridge reminds me of why I came to Sydney in the first place... which is sometimes easy to forget when you are stuck in traffic, choking on smog and stressed to your eyeballs. It's also pretty beautiful at day and night... for a big iron coathanger. I can't imagine Sydney without it.

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Mardi Gras 2007

Here are a few pictures that I took at this years Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. As always, there was lots of colour, sparkle, fun and crazy costumes. Unfortunately it was hard to take good shots in the jostling crowd but these are some of the better ones in my opinion. Sorry it took me so long to post them!

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Tuesday, March 6

Laneway Festival, Sydney

On Saturday I went to Mardi Gras, and I most post up a few photos of that tomorrow. I also pranged the car by driving it in to a pole in a carpark... not sharing pictures of that, its embarassing enough driving around with the battle scars.

But on Sunday, I went to the St Jerome's Laneway Festival, which despite the humid weather, was good fun. It was set up really well, with two outdoor stages and an indoor venue. It wasn't too crowded, there was a nice crowd, and it was over 18's so no kids. As the lovely Heather put it, it was a bit of a boutique festival, and that gave it a nice feel. Also, a lot of my friends ended up being there as we had all bought tickets so long ago that we forgot to tell each other we were going, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Some of the highlights were The Crayon Fields starting off the day in the Basement venue, Camera Obscura rocking out on the park stage, Peter, Bjorn and John playing a great set and of course Yo La Tengo getting the crowd going at the end. I particularly enjoyed Camera Obscura, a band whose music I have had little to do with but will endeavour to get to know better because they played a great set. The lead singer also had a super cute haircut.

Peter, Bjorn and John were fantastic, I am a big fan of their album Writer's Block, and the song Young Folks is undeniably catchy. Plus they are Swedes, and hence are cute with cute accents to match. The performance of Young Folks with Tracey from Camera Obscura singing the part of Victoria Bergman was great, and had the crowd singing along and dancing. The bass line just makes you want to move in that song, and the whistling refrain is sooo catchy. Super fun!

I found a recording of the performance that someone made on YouTube if you want to check it, I will post it in a bit.

Yo La Tengo were also great... I found the extended guitar playing earlier in the set to be a little indulgent, but as the set became more poppy stylistically, I soon found forgiveness in my heart and really enjoyed their performance. A great way to finish the night.

Youth Group also played a solid set, they are a band that handles live performance extremely well, and it was great to hear their cover of Forever Young and their song Shadowland played live. The Crayon Fields suited the cosy basement venue really well and I am thinking of investing in their album.

I heard bits of pieces of sets by Love is All (seemed quite fun), Sleepy Jackson (I wasn't that taken with what I heard), My Disco (loud!), The Walkmen (was busy eating crappy overpriced food at the time), Holly Throsby (I love acoustic, but she is a bit drab). Another strong performance came from Fionn Reagan, except he was a bit lost behind a big hat and oversized sunglasses... I would have preferred to see his face while he was singing. It also looked a bit faux Bob Dylan.

Here's a few snapshots we took on the day on my camera phone. Unfortunately without a media pass I wasn't allowed to take along a "professional" camera, so couldn't take any pics of performances.

Anyway, I'd definitely recommend Laneway Festival, depending on future lineups, but it was worth the dosh and was an enjoyable experience. There were even real toilets to use, not just portaloos. Food and drink was super expensive though, but that comes with the territory really. The next gig I'm going to will probably be to see The Waifs at the Metro in April, which I am really looking forward to as A Brief History... was a travelling companion for me on my iPod and I've heard they are amazing live. Back to the acoustic stuff again, these days my tastes are swinging between blues and roots/acoustic to indie pop/rock.

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Thursday, March 1

Scooped on my day off

Today I had the day off work. It's been so hectic lately I've been working lots of overtime, and we don't get paid overtime, just time in lieu, so today was a bit of a catch up, as you can probably tell by the several blog posts I have put up tonight.

Anyway, this month for our paper that comes out tomorrow I had a big story that I was tipped off on by a source. Secret documents, the works. Guess what story was on the front of today's Daily Telegraph? Yep, mine. Scooped. Oh well, I'm still proud of the work I did on the story, it was just a bit annoying... but also slightly flattering in a way because I proved to myself that I could do what they did at a national daily.

Other than that, slept in, went in to uni to catch up with some peeps (it was a bit weird being back at the old UTS now that I am no longer a student), we went and had yummy burritos for lunch, and wandered around the shops in Newtown (see purchases photographed below). Pretty chilled day, twas nice. This weekend will be busy, Mardi Gras and St Jerome's Laneway Festival. It was really nice to have a day off.


Happy birthday Jimmy

Here are a few photos I took of well known indigenous Australian entertainer Jimmy Little for work the other day. Today is Jimmy's 70th birthday, so happy birthday! If you want to know more about Jimmy, or help support the work he is doing for kidney disease in remote Aboriginal communities, visit his website at www.jimmylittle.com.au.

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Today I had a day off work and ended up at one point in a cutesy little knick knack shop in Newtown where I invested in these two cute windup toys that charmed Meredith and I. Charmed me to the point where I spent a good half an hour playing with both the toys and my camera around the house and in the back courtyard. Here are a few of my favourite shots from playtime.

Cute, are they not? Don't try and tell me these toys were a waste of money. Everyone at work I'm sure will have fun racing them down desks tomorrow as well, so they were so worth the investment.

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Photos of sister

Here are a couple of random photos and some photos that I took of my little sister when I was back in Albury for a couple of days a few weeks ago.

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Sunday, February 25


Apologies for my lack of blogging, I've been super busy. Which is why being stuck in a shopping centre carpark for two hours today was quite an inconvenient waste of my time.

I went to a hideous soul zapping monolith otherwise known as Westfield Burwood to do some shopping. As one does. I parked, did said shopping amongst crowds of pushy people with strollers and packs of teenagers in short shorts chewing gum and saying "omigawd" constantly, and then returned to my vehicle. On my return, I noticed the massive traffic jam that seemed to be clogging the entire five storeys of the carpark. I couldn't reverse out of my park because of said jam, so took the opportunity to make a couple of phone calls for work and to my mum to prattle on. 45 minutes later (my mum talks more than I do), and I was still stuck in my park (oh my editor would roast me for starting a sentence with a number, oh well). So 15 minutes later I decided to go back and do more shopping. The car I had my eye on as an indicator for the expediency of carpark exiting had only moved about 10 metres in an hour. I had forgotten to buy museli you see. That took an additional half hour, so I returned to the car to find myself still stuck. Luckily a kind driver let me reverse out and join the queue snaking towards the exit. Another half hour later and I was out. What an ordeal. I still don't know what caused the jam, but it was incredibly frustrating, and a Westfields carpark wasn't where I wanted to spend the afternoon.

One thing though that was interesting to observe was that just like copious amounts of alcohol, being stuck in a shopping centre carpark reveals people's true colours. Just like the lovey dovey drunk, those people who normally feel compelled to hide their friendliness behind an apathetic Sydney mask (best used on public transport) suddenly strike up conversations about the traffic and the weather and the state election, while those people who after a bottle of bourbon begin punching walls begin punching walls, or swear loudly in the presence of small children, or beep their horns even though it will clearly not produce any sort of outcome. Interesting indeed. Perhaps the most curious behavior was those that got out and tried to look over the sides of the carpark to see what was causing the chaos when there is no view at all of the road below from the carpark. Or one man, who got out and started polishing the fittings on his car with a tissue and a bottle of water... even though the weather was drizzly.

Wednesday, February 7

The crazies come out to play...

For some reason at work the other day my phone was like a hotline for nutcases. Three examples;

1. Politician calls to fill me in on his conspiracy theories about community forums being "stacked" by an opposing party and to rattle on about his election chances. It doesn't sound so crazy, but it kinda is. Especially since it was accompanied by an email saying the exact same thing.

2. Old man rings to tell me some tiny insignificant detail in a story isn't quite right, but he doesn't blame me, it's the council. They have apparently given me the wrong information because they are out to get him and all that he stands for. This was a minor story about a carpark that we are talking about here, but apparently its all part of a council plan to undermine one individual in the municipality.

3. Was ringing around local real estate agents to talk to them about Sydney's rental crisis. Crazy one calls me back, here is the conversation.
"Between you and me, I'm not actually a practising real estate agent anymore. This is my home phone number and I just keep the license because I want one of my sons to become a real estate agent. They are 21 and 23 but they can't decide what they want to do and they don't listen to me when I tell them that real estate is a very good career choice. I don't understand why they don't want to do it. I don't know what to do with them. They are very lazy. So between you and me I don't really want to talk to the media, you should try somewhere else."

WTF! He didn't have to tell me his life story, and he could have just ignored my answering machine message if it wasn't relevant. But hey, it's more entertaining this way I guess.


Afternoon Tea

Because we are ladies who lunch, and our dear friend Ella (in the first picture) is going to Spain for a year, the ladies who lunch decided to do afternoon tea at the Sheraton on the Park on Sunday afternoon. It was a lovely affair, there is something very charming about things being in minature. Little cakes, scones, sandwiches and of course, copious amounts of tea (Earl Grey thankyou very much). And a glass of Moet to toast our dear friend. It was all very sophisticated and fancy! After tea we went to Hyde Park to sit around and chat, and take a few happy snaps.

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Saturday, February 3

Picnic in the park

Last night we had a picnic in Victoria Park to say farewell and happy birthday to a friend who is going on exchange. It was really lovely. The park has great views of the city lights, and it felt somewhat mischievous to be indulging on wine in the dark park when I am pretty sure you aren't supposed to drink there. The only problem with parks in Sydney is that there are no public toilets, and a trip to relieve ones self behind a bush could well put you in full view of an overenthusiastic dog walker, even when night has fallen. A friend who moved to Melbourne and we haven't seen in about 18 months also showed up to the picnic, so that was really cool. It was just like old times... things have changed a lot recently, but it really was how it used to be, us all relaxing and talking at a million miles an hour. A nice night was had by all. Tomorrow we are having high tea to also say farewell.... tonight I am lolling about with sore muscles from yoga, tired eyes from a stressful week at work, and a full stomach from overindulging on some yummy toffee flavoured icecream.

Sunday, January 28

Yum Cha in Hurstville

It's been a pretty alright long weekend. Went to a housewarming last night then went out on Oxford St... ended up sleeping on a friend's sofa, her mum made us scrambled eggs in the morning, which was awesome. Just after I had done the walk of shame home in my evening attire at midday on Sunday (while all the Italian families were pouring out of church haha), a friend from home who is in Sydney for a while messaged me and we ended up going for Yum Cha for lunch in Hurstville. The weather today is great so it was a nice drive. When we got to the place, there were families outside all over the footpath waiting for a seat in the restaurant. We had to get a number and stand outside for half an hour in order to get a table, which was quite surreal. Especially since the numbers were being read out in Chinese... we were the only Anglos there, so we were excited cos we knew that meant the food would probably be awesome. Once we got in, it was worth the wait. Yum Cha is so fun, with everything coming in little size... not very healthy, but oh so tasty. We ate heaps, and it only cost us $17 each. The restaurant had fantastic service as well, especially considering how insanely busy it was. I think it was called Sunny's Seafood Restaurant... highly recommended. It was very nice to catch up with my friend, and fun to venture out of the inner West and city for once, as I'd never been to Hurstville before.

I'm really sleepy now though, my friend's sofa was good, but I think I might need a nap. Especially after all the food I have eaten today haha. Back to work tomorrow though, ugh.

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