Thursday, June 29, 2017

Viva La France – Bastille Day in Sydney

On the 14th July, the globe will celebrate Bastille Day. It’s called la Fete nationale and the Storming of the Bastille taking place on 24th June 1789. This was a major pivot in the French Revolution and celebrates the unity of the French on the 14th July 1790. The whole country (and most of the planet) now rejoices to their hearts content. Here are a few fun facts for you to embrace; maybe some that you know about and others that will make you ponder of your frogs legs appetizer and champagne…from Champagne:

The French celebrates this achievement 10 days after the US celebrates its own Independence Day from the British, and has done so since 1880.

A flurry of revolutionaries stormed the Parisian based Bastille fortress, used as a prison for political prisoners. Even though there were only seven prisoners at the time, the number is irrelevant as the invasion was purely a symbol of oppression by the Bourbon monarchy. The date marked the start of the French Revolution that eventually would overthrow Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI. This milestone marked the end of the ancient regime, whereby the country’s new revolutionary government tore down the Bastille prison – the last stone being removed in 1790.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower is surrounded by fireworks and usually runs for a solid 30 minutes plus. The French proudly scream Vive le 14 juillet (aka: long live the 14th of July).

Originally, the name Bastille derived from the word bastide, translating to ‘fortification.’ When the tower was built in 1357, it was ironically designed to keep invading armies out, not hold prisoners in. Over the centuries, it grew to encompass a massive gate, a moat, a fortress with 75 foot towers and eventually converted into a state prison, holding up to 55 captives.

On the day of invasion, the captured held in Bastille, were never fully confirmed. Some say that four have committed forgery, two were pure lunatics and one was a disgraced nobleman. Others say that four were forgers, another from aristocracy and two vanished without identification. The Marquis De Sade was believed to be in the thick of this prison number, famous for his erotic writings and the rise of the word: sadism. As the most famous inmate, this aristocrat penned various books including the famous One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom, but he was removed from Bastille 10 days before the invasion.

This holiday is now absolutely internationally hyped up. Franschhoek, South Africa hosts a two day celebration, New Orleans goes all out on dog costume contests (!?!) and Puducherry, Eastern India has a massive firework display. Sydney will honor this day with all things French at the Argyle, The Rocks where tickets cost $15 and you can learn the Cancan…like you do. What better way to end the oh la la celebrations than at Cremorne Point, overlooking the Harbour, sipping French vino, eating baguettes and brie with that beret perched on your head! And the next day, any mild hangover can be easily cured with a lot of H2) and French Toast. Voila!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sydney Spooky Attractions

For all that love a bit of a supernatural, spine chilling adventure, we’re not going to wait to Halloween for this post. It’s too good not to share now. The city has incredible events, attractions and nonstop entertainment throughout the year. But how about for those that want to try something different in NSW? Here are a few blood curdlers that will deter most but attract the thicker skinned ones to visit our diverse region:

Did you know that Wakehurst Park is the most haunted road in Sydney? At the point where Narrabeen and Seaforth intersect, by Deep Creek Reserve, the latter has been famous for body dumpings and murders. As a result, if you’re driving down this road, predominantly at night, there have been reports where car doors randomly lock by themselves, the radio turns itself on and windscreen wipers either start working or suddenly stop. Drivers have also reported of a green man that flashes at pedestrian crossings around 3.00am. Spookier than this, is that no one seems to be there.

Fables and history states that this area is obviously haunted by two ghosts: a young girl called Kelly that died in the 70’s and a nun that died around five decades ago. The word on the street spreads the good news of joy: if you don’t tell the girl to get out your car, she’ll ram rod you off the road.

A pure magnet for psychics, Mary Loughland states she’s seen young Kelly and feels her presence. Not only that, but Mary’s daughter sighted Kelly and the nun. Her theory is that a haunting take place where tragedy’s struck, so Kelly may either want to deliver messages or can’t transfer to the other side as she’s traumatized. Possibly, she’s been subject to a driving related death and wants to warn others through protection...or is angry and wants to just scare anyone in four wheels.

Other beauties, if you’re still reading this without shuddering, include the Gladesville Mental Hospital, the Haunted Quarantine Station, Redbank Range Tunnel and Studley Park House. You can read more about each here.

On a positive note, even though Cremorne Point Manor is one of Sydney’s oldest hotels, established in a heritage building, we’ve never even seen a Casper friendly ghost potter by. But if you want to feel the hairs on your arms spike up: at night, sometimes you’ll hear lions roar. Don’t worry though – they’re just talking from nearby Taronga Zoo. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

To Market, To Market, To Buy A...

Just under an hour’s drive North West of Sydney, is a gem of a farmers market. The Richmond Good Food Market operates every Saturday from 8am to 1pm in Richmond Park, as this family business opens its floodgates for farmers, tourists and locals in the scenic Hawkesbury area.  

Now we all know farmers markets usually sell extortionately overpriced food but this little beauty is about cost efficiency to sustain local businesses. Not only are they supporting local farms, but you can chat with the farmers about how the food is raised, including chemical (and additive) free produce. The market website claims their prices are cheaper than Woolworths and Coles which is a nice little, penny pinching bonus.

Every tomato, carrot, bunch of flowers or apricot (markets always over-excel on apricots, for some fabulous reason) that you purchase; you’re giving back to the little SMB’s and not the big, bad national, gluttonous corporations. You’re also obviously reassured that what you’re picking up is absolutely fresh, right from farm to stall.

It’d be an early morning start for Sydneysiders but if you make the most of the full morning market, you can refuel on some of the food vendors. These include Kalye (meat skewer specialties) or a slice from Pizza Napoli. Want to wow your partner? Roses and More sell fresh cut flowers at wholesale prices so consider that if you need to be back in someone’s good books. And for those little furry pets you bring along: give them Koly’s chemical free, freeze dried dog and cat treats. Who’s up for high end sugar? The Real Fruit Ice Cream stand should not be passed by without a quick purchase. Blended on site, you can sugar-load yourself up on the good stuff or try one of their super noisy slush drinks.

The market’s packed with a bundle of alternative stands including health & beauty, kitchenware, clothing, accessories and condiments. One stand we love is Mini Garden Creations that sells native plants and succulents. Bought the muchkins along for the ride? Then you need to check out Amanda’s Place where she sells everything from bibs and baby changing mats to mittens and door snakes (draught excluders). If that’s not satisfied the little ones, Mr. Arthur’s Puppets absolutely will do the trick. It’s hosted by owner Kieran Arthur, a talented puppeteer who was featured on Australia’s Got Talent. Maybe you can schmooze him to host a puppet show the next time your rugrat(s) celebrate a birthday.

It’s 1.01pm and you’re wiped out from shopping, the car’s full to the brim so you’ll take a leisurely drive east back to Cremorne Point. Chill out on our guest-only balcony overlooking the Harbour and chomp away at your foodie purchases.  Those apricots won’t eat themselves!