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Hotel rooms are perfect for suspending reality.

I stayed in the Palais Royale hotel at Katoomba last weekend, thanks to hotels.com and their Welcome Rewards program- it’s like a coffee card, but for accommodation, and the records are held electronically so you can’t just invest in your own novelty hole punch and get free coffee (not that I would do that, of course… really, who does that?). For those out of touch with their Australian geography, Katoomba sits at the top of the New South Wales Blue Mountains, a two hour drive from Sydney. You pass by Katoomba en route to Orange (and Ophir).

It’s a strange place, Katoomba, in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s large, but it seems small. It’s exquisitely isolated– the Mountains roll and spread for countless miles around where the city sits on top a peak. Katoomba is connected by a string of smaller town with names like Wentworth Falls, Leura, Lawson and Lapstone; and they make small black map-dots all the way up and down the single highway linking the Mountains back to the Sydney suburbs via Penrith. These tiny hamlets are no more than ten or fifteen kilometers apart, twenty k’s at the most; each with a tiny train station, a general store, and each seemingly with their own unique draw card, their own tiny tourist attractions to lure travelers, cars loaded with kids and bags, to stop and rest, enjoy the local flavour as they go.

The Mountains were, a hundred years ago when they were first settled, a daunting, long and potentially dangerous journey; a trek that took days, not hours, clumping over cleared dirt rocks rather than eating up fresh, smooth bitumen at a hundred kilometers an hour.

But worth it, I imagine. As much then as it is now.

Katoomba boomed in the early 1900′s, an opulent township for the holidaying wealth of Sydney. It seems the majority of structures here where built at about that time, and very little has been changed since. While everything modern you need is here, somewhere, and it’s home to world-famous tourist attractions such as the Three Sisters and the terrifyingly ancient Scenic Railway (a train carriage does a sheer vertical drop down a rock cliff face); it’s as if time itself has simply meandered by most of Katoomba, not bothering to poke or prod on it’s way. Cafes with names like the Paragon, the Carington and the Niagra reamin in business and in their original art-deco decor. Buildings and brickwork are crusted with slow–growing lichen from the damp, chilled air; and its actually impossible to walk the Main Street without a good dose of daily exercise– the entire town is tiny hills, rolling footpaths and houses on built-up uneven slabs.

And the shopping is freaking awesome. There’s tiny hippy shops, a piercer and, to my delight, one shop that sells nothing but juggling supplies. I count a dozen funky cafes, all which smell divine, and there’s street buskers and a craft market early on the crisp Sunday morning. Op shops and recycled fashion outlets sell genuine vintage clothes and bags and shoes, all reasonably priced and all in gorgeous condition. It’s that isolation again. As in Paradise, material things seem to stick in this place the way people do…. it’s such a long way, back down the Mountain.

The Palais Royale, where I find myself in the king deluxe room 315, is just five hundred metres from the plethora of shops on Main Street, and, truly, just as old as most of them. It was built in the late 1890′s and it feels like old fashioned glamor and warmth, with chandeliers and big soft arm chairs in the lobby. My room’s big and old, and the bed is huge.

I find myself struggling to stay awake mid-afternoon both nights of my stay– I’m just so relaxed, it feels like an impossibility to keep my eyes open. I think the only reason I’m wide awake most of the time is that I’m running on anxious, nervous energy at a rate that I can only sustain for so long. I’m like a rug on Valium, once the pressure’s off.

I’m sprawled on the hotel’s massive bed, reading longform articles on my phone, belly full of chocolate, with bad TV (Antiques Roadshow, for those playing along at home) making comfort-noise in the background, chatting with the peeps on Twitter (as you do) and mulling over my tired relaxation when KateSaysStuff Keep Cate Busy said… well… stuff. This, in fact…

… then this…

And I felt her pain. Because there, ladybugs and jellybeans, lies the crux of it. The reason, I think, that just about every person I know who is the proud owner of one or more small children (and a lot of people without small children) are so freaking tired all the time.

Because there’s always, always, always, something else to be done. Dishes or folding or blogging or email or washing or phone calls or paying bills or more washing or feeding cats or whatever. How do you find a sense of peace, relaxation and accomplishment when your inbox is always near overflowing, when there are always at least three more things you should have done today…?

Evidently, this weekend, I found the answer.

You go to hotels.com, and join the Welcome Rewards program. You check into your hotel. And, out of the 40 hours you send in the hotel, you sleep like a petrified log for 24 of them.

Then you come home, and kid-wrangle until you are on the very verge of some kind of breakdown (again). And lather, rinse, and repeat.

***
Thanks again to hotels.com. In the interest of disclosure, I
was not paid for this post, but I was more than happy to take a few free nights accommodation off their hands.

Naturally, being somewhere old and kinda creepy like Katoomba… I went urban exploring. Details, photos and tripping security alarms– coming soon.

***
I dare you to tell me these are not the absolute cutest pair of elves you’ve ever seen. Introducing- Santa Chop and Bumpy Claus. 
The kidlets and I- all three of us, family style- are doing the Variety Santa Fun Run this Sunday on behalf of RocketMan Media. All three of us will be dressed as Santa Claus’ (Santa Clau, perhaps? What’s the plural, anyone…?) and the Bumpy thing will probably be wearing her fairy wings.
If you could sponsor us here, I’d very much appreciate it. I cannot promise you we will complete the fun run. And I’m certainly not promising any running. I do promise to record every second of our sweating, tantrum-throwing humiliation on a video blog for you next week. So, if nothing else, you should really donate just for that…

Cheers, jellybeans. See you Monday.

***

ETA- I can’t believe this post was up for 30 hoursbefore someone pointed out I’d used the wrong person’s name. Despite having an image of their name embedded beneath it.

It’s OK… I promise. I won’t hate you, nor will I cry (for long!) if you point out when I do stupid things.

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When Fan Heaters Attack.

by Lori Dwyer on July 5, 2012 · 12 comments

As we know, I’m a big fan of online shopping; for it’s convenience, thriftiness and minimal–effort–requiredness.

But, like most things in life, it doesn’t always work out as planned.

And if it seems to be good to be true, it probably is.

Allow me to explain. Two months ago- just as temperatures were starting to drop in Australia– I got online and purchased, extremely cheaply, two small fan heaters from a country in the Northern hemisphere, where– and hence the total genius of my plan– it is currently summer; and, naturally, heaters are cheap.

Brilliant! Right…?

Wrong.

After the first shipment of heaters didn’t arrive at all, the next shipment took another two weeks, so it was eight full weeks– one whole month into winter– before fore–mentioned electrical appliances finally showed up.

Finally. TinyTrainTown temperatures were already dropping below zero at night, and the heaters were specifically to take the edge of cold off the kids rooms or my ’study’ (the outdoor laundry where I write blog posts on my iPad and smoke copious amounts of cigarettes. If only the wifi reached down here I’d be set.).

Have you already spotted the major fail? Clever you. Don’t rub it in.

Why yes, electrical appliances from the Northern hemisphere do have Northern hemisphere power plugs.

Which don’t fit in Australian outlets.

It’s also extremely difficult to find adapters to go INTO Australian plugs, unless you happen to be in a country that’s not Australia.

So… in the end, two small fan heaters, plus their adapters, cost me $75. Had I have just bought the from Woolies with my weekly shop, it would have been more like $40.

To add insult to potential frostbite, safety standards in the country of manufacture of these over–priced, energy–sucking fan heaters differ greatly from those here in Aus and that the concept of a cut of switch so the whole house doesn’t catch fire should they tip over, I think it safe to call this…..

Major. Fail.

Obviously, if I’d been shopping with an Aussie site- say, an online coupons site- this never would have happened. Like them on FaceBook here. And don’t let this turn you off online shopping– one person’s stupidity is not the e–commerce’s fault.

* This edition of “Stupid Things Lori Does” is sponsored, obviously- I’m imagining you picked that already. 

***

You may have seen on Twitter… my chickens, Ethel and Lucy, who I was unreasonably emotionally attached to, had a run in with the neighbor’s dog yesterday and definitely came off losers- they’re both dead, and I’m heartbroken.

I know, I know- just a pair of stupid chooks. But I loved them and I wanted to keep them and the universe should have at least given me that- two stupid chooks. It’s not a lot to ask for, really.

More on the Chook Tragedy, next week.

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Happy Flogging Friday!

And welcome Blog Floggers. If you don’t know what I’m waffling on about, get thee butt to Brenda’s blog, grab her cute button, and get McLinked. It’s worth your while. Promise.

And in honor of this, the ninth ever FYBF, I’m quite chuffed to bring you the following. The title says it all, really.

My top 27 signs that you are totally, completely, mercilessly addicted to blog.

  • Your two year old points to the computer and calls it “Mummy”.
  • Your husband is threatening to divorce you if you don’t get off that bloody Internet RIGHT NOW.
  • And he means it.
  • Really.
  • Forget bookmarks. Your blog and your Dashboard are both top of your ‘Most Visited’ drop down.
  • In fact, never mind either of those- your blog is set as your home page.
  • You see two cows in a playground and your first thought is to pull out your phone and take pictures… for your blog.
  • This leads you, once again, to the conclusion you really need an iPhone.
  • Or, at the very least, a compact digital camera for the nappy bag.
  • Until then, you’re tempted to carry round the big camera with the long len-sy thing in it’s padded bad doovie, everywhere you go. Just in case. But given I live in south west Sydney, this is probably not a good idea.
  • You find yourself wondering “I wondering how many details of this story I can change, to protect anonymity, and still blog about it…?”
  • You also find yourself waiting to do something stupid. So you can blog about it.
  • You dream about blogging.
  • And have nightmares about blogger’s block and connection interruptions.
  • You have Follower-related anxiety.
  • And a slight obsession with your Follower numbers.
  • You have been known to slump into a drunken depression upon losing a Follower.
  • And spend the next week staring at your Follow box, trying to figure out who it was.
  • So you can stalk them.
  • The thought of socially or personally awkward situations no longer bothers you. It will be worth it if you can get a blog post out of it. 
  • None of your friends ring you anymore. They don’t need to. They read your blog.
  • You’ve signed up to Twitter. For blog purposes only.
  • Traffic turns you on. And not the kind with wheels.
  • Comments are your crack.
  • Each new Follow requires a full blown bum-slapping Happy Dance.
  • A little part of you thinks you may have a problem with how much you blog.
  • And another little part of you says “I think you’re right. Let’s blog about it!”

*Herumph*. Problem? Who says I have a problem? I can stop anytime I want to. Right? Right.

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