Roadtrip to Horsham
One of the many reasons why I tend to be so delayed when it comes to uploading photos is simple: my Macbook is a piece of shit. Understandably I’ve had it for nearly 3 years now and it’s filled with so much crap but still, I know that when I open Lightroom to get cracking on editing photos it would take me forever to the point I usually just give up on it. Or when it crashes.
I’ve been telling the guys my plans of buying a new iMac desktop computer since last year. Understandably those plans were put on hold as I had to save for my end of year trip to the US/UK/Paris and forking out $3000+ on a new computer didn’t seem like such a great idea. But once I got back I figured it was time I invested in one. With all my plans of future adventures meant more photo/video opportunities. Meaning I really needed a new computer to edit because if this continues on, who knows when people will ever see anything.
I decided to look on Gumtree/Ebay instead and after many days of constant browsing, I found one which I quite liked and thought was a decent price. There were two options for the winning bidder: postage of pickup. The guy lived in Horsham which is a good 3.5-4 hour drive from Melbourne. I immediately told him pickup would be my preference.
Now understandably for some, they must think I’m pretty crazy to drive 4 hours to and back just to pickup a computer. I’ve always felt it would make more sense to pick it up rather than getting it posted since who knows what could happen in transit. Plus this sounded like the perfect opportunity to have an adventure. I mean, it’s like another hour past the Grampians which meant I’d be seeing some great views along the way.
My original plans was to leave on Saturday night, stay overnight in the Grampians where I’d watch the sunrise at Boroka Lookout. Later on I’d head to Horsham, pick up the computer then slowly make my way home.
Those plans went out the window once I realised we’d be drinking the night before. Yep, our ritual Valentines Day Drinkup.
Surprisingly with less than 6 hours sleep (I slept at 4 and found myself up by around 9:30am) I was still in decent condition when I left in the afternoon. Neil decided to join me which made the journey much more enjoyable. I mean, here’s the guy who decided to put on Mariah Carey’s Christmas album on even though it’s February.
Many laughs were had along the way as we discussed many topics such as our roles within the group, arranged marriages and maintenance of sewerage systems. Felling a tad peckish, our discussions led to burgers with the lot from fish and chip stores which solidified our cravings. Hitting Ararat we headed to the nearest store where we got two burgers, minimum chips and a corn jack. I’m surprised Neil didn’t remember what they were but one bite into it and all the memories came flooding back.
Making our way back onto the road again, I decided to stop the car when I saw Mount Zero on the left hand side. I guess that’s one thing I’ve always liked about being the driver: stopping to take photos whenever you feel like it. During my trip to Reno/Lake Tahoe in the US I was stuck on a bus full of Vietnamese oldies and it just made me wish I could have driven and explored on my own. Nevertheless the warm afternoon light made everything looks so pretty. Definitely need to stop by this area again in the future.
Entering Horsham not too long afterwards, I was greeted by the parents of the seller who were extremely friendly and kind. It took me and Neil a good 5 minutes to figure out how we were going to secure the computer in my car but we finally got it done. The lady even offered me an old picnic blanket which I am definitely going to store in my car.
On the way back, I would tell Neil that by the time we got to Ararat, I’d take a break and we’d swap. Mind you it was already 8:30pm by then. With the sun setting I knew I had to make the most of it and find somewhere to view this occasion. Having past a lake on our way to Horsham, we decided to stop by and check it out. We were tripped by the fact that:
- The lake had sand
- There were waves. WAVES.
I’m sure there’s some logical explanation for it all (Neil’s probably going to make one up) but it sure did feel like I was at the beach instead of out in the countryside. Photos were taken and I tried to soak it all in before the surprisingly cold howling winds overwhelmed me.
Back into the car, Neil ended up sleeping whilst I put one of the many compilations for the Raye’s Outdoors Mix to keep me awake. Stopping by Ballarat at the petrol station, Neil paid for my petrol (cheers man!) and also bought me a Golden Gaytime since he knew I was craving ice cream. I continued driving back until we got to Bacchus Marsh where I knew I needed a break.
In all, I drove for a good 7.5 hours with stops along the way. Quite an achievement I think.
This trip me and Neil felt was a taster before we head to Byron Bay in April for the Blues Festival. But in the grand scheme of things, I like knowing that at least I’m trying to make the most of my weekends. Going out and exploring is something I always say I’ll do but usually don’t end up doing it. Sometimes I’ll look at Lynh’s photos and find myself envious of her ability to just go out and do it. I’ve received many compliments on Instagram for some of the photos I took (posted below) and it does make me feel good. I guess if my own random adventures/travels can inspire others to get out there and do the same then I must be doing something right.
Valentines Day 2014
Who knows how this tradition of us getting drunk on Valentines Day started. Apparently it began four years ago when Tish and Frannie went over to Peter’s place to drink and wallow in sadness about their single status. The following year we had some drinks in Maribyrnong when we came back to my place and all hell broke loose. In the best way of course!
Last year turned out to be an even more eventful drink up but nevertheless it was once again a night filled with heavy drinking, lots of vomitting and many of our favourite love songs being played. In some ways we were hesitant to how it would be this year. Would it live up to the expectations of previous years? And most of all… will anyone actually drink?
Luckily it turned out to be a great night. A few new faces who sadly didn’t drink but still joined in the festivities with lots of serenading and general cheesiness in the room. For awhile Tish has been saying she missed the drink ups at my house where we’d just sing and dance to ballads so I’m glad she finally got to experience it once again.
As everyone departed I was feeling pretty good on the inside. There were still so many ballads to sing and dance along to but hey, at least there were no dramas. Everyone seemed to leave in good spirits and no-one seemed hungover. A good night of drinking and fun I felt.
Then I found out the next day Tish was hungover. Three years and counting ;)
Movie/Favourites Night: Two Year Anniversary Edition
Traditions are a funny thing. Sometimes they’re born out of sheer necessity and yet othertimes they simply grow organically through the passing of time. If you had asked me at the end of 2011 that a simple night spent at my house introducing my close friends to the cinematic masterpiece The Room, I would have laughed and said ‘What a story Mark’.
Like anything in life, there’s always going to be ups and downs. Sometimes I find myself questioning whether it’s even worth continuing having Movie Night at my house. But there’ll be moments where it all clicks and I remember why we have it to begin with: kicking back with the boys (when the girls don’t rock up) talking about our favourite topics #sexbusters2000, watching shitty so-bad-its-good films and in recent times, experimenting/cooking for NGC.
That’s why we have Movie Night. That’s what it’s all about. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be here to write about the future anniversary in years to come.
Travelling to the UK made me realise how easily time can be wasted. I had left on a Sunday evening and through the magic of travelling ended up in the UK just after midday. Yet somehow I had managed to lose a day. And personally, I found that pretty disheartening. All those hours that could have been spent doing something productive (not really) were instead spent on a plane. And yet it’s the price we pay to see the world, to be in a different place than where we are right now.
What’s most bizarre is the sense of losing any sense of time. I’ve always what it must be like to cross that barrier: where one minute it’s night then miraculously it’s daytime in that region. Obviously not that simplistic but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought about it. There were so many times I simply didn’t know what time it was and it seriously messed with my head big time.
I guess in many ways it reminds me of when we all go camping: as nightfall arrives we usually find ourselves surrounded by darkness with the flicker of the campfire providing us a source of illumination and warmth. As the drinks keep coming and dnm’s conversations take place, the sense of time has sped to the point where we feel like it’s really late.
It’s only when someone looks at their mobile do we discover it’s only 7pm.
Everyone is doing something with their time: whether it’s wasting it, using it, making it, buying it or simply letting it pass. With the new year I found myself wondering what would I be doing with my time.
Because we all know as slow as it may be, days turn into months and before you know it, we find ourselves seeing top ten lists and anticipating what the new year will bring. I’d like to think I’ve learnt a lot last year and even if I didn’t, at least I’ve been in many situations outside of my comfort zone. And I hope with this year, I’ll use my time more wisely with more things to do and places to see.
What will you be doing with your time this year?
People always say that you learn more when you travel, so did I learn anything? The answer is No. I spend enough time as it is thinking about everything. All this trip really did was reiterate what I already knew about myself and re-enforced my perceptions about life. Having the chance to camp and getting to see the views that I’ve been lucky enough to have seen, I always thought to myself that never will there be a moment where a man made structure can put me in awe as something as seeing an endless horizon of mountains. I found that this wasn’t the case when I saw the Eiffel Tower glitter at night and seeing a glimpse of the Louvre through some dark arch ways. I didn’t spend much time overseas but the one thing that I have to say to you all is, hold the people you care about close to your heart and hold your family even closer and EXPLORE, whether it’s just jumping in the car for a road trip or hopping on a plane, I urge you to do it. There’s nothing better.
Tuck Shop Take Away
Our burger cravings aren’t as strong as they use to be as we seemed to be focused much more on fried chicken nowadays. Still every now and then I’ll stumble upon some new place on Broadsheet and suggest it to the guys. Generally it never happens but every now and then the stars align and we actually do have another Burger Crew outing.
This time round Law couldn’t come so Tom came instead. He was working full-time for a long time hence he couldn’t make it to many of our random adventures whether it would be camps, daytrips or when we eat out. The guys were out playing golf in Albert Park so they were going to meet up with us at our destination.
It was a Friday night and by the time we got there it was filled to the brim with people ordering their dinner for the night. We all basically ordered the same thing: Major burger with side of chips and a milkshake. Some of the guys also ordered jaffles which were good enough to inspire us to make some for NGC/Movie Night.
With limited seating we decided to head down to the Caulfield Park to enjoy our feast. The burger was quite good - more akin to a gourmet version of the Lot burger you’d find at fish’n’chip shops. Can’t comment on our triple fried chips since by the time we ate them, they were a tad on the soggy side.
And then came the infamous rom-com session. I’m not sure how it came about but I seriously do question whether other people have the kinds of discussion we have. Basically we began creating romantic comedy ideas/scenarios for each person within the group: the basic sypnosis, specific cliches/tropes and who would play our respective roles.
Yep, our group is awesome.
Tuck Shop Take Away
273 Hawthorn Road
Caulfield North, VIC
Tel: 0431 406 580
Raye’s Outdoors - BBQ
River Walk - Royal Botanical Gardens
When we were having lunch up in Malmsbury Gardens back in April, Tish brought up the idea of having a barbecue at the park one day. I guess for many of us, barbecues were generally something we’d go on with our families/friends when we were younger. I can’t honestly say we really do go out and have bbq’s - generally we just have them at someones house for Australia Day or what not. Still, it seemed like a great idea and one I’ve quite excited about for sometime.
Cut to six months later and I’m sitting at Cairnlea park with Mike and Peter when we could smell intoxicating aromas of sausages and onions sizzling on the bbq machines. It’s something that we find simply irresistible and we made defiant that we would have abbq at the park once the weather picks up. Even though it’s Spring here in Melbourne (nearly summer), the weather we’ve been having lately has consisted of cold winds and rain hence any plans of having one were put on hold.
That day we were contemplating either going to the Spanish Festival down at Johnson Street or going on a hike. In some aspects I do wish we did stop by the Festival though I can assume it would have been rather packed and probably would have been a turn-off to the guys. Still I standing outside church with Peter when it was decided that we should have one down in Botanical Gardens. Well, along that area anyway.
Peter bought the essentials, I brought along my picnic rugs and we all waited for the others to convene at my house before we took off. Neil called me and asked if we wanted anything from the Lebanese Bakery. I was rather puzzled as we were going to be having sausages for lunch and told him that. But alas another misunderstanding as he thought I was referring to the sausage pizza (so good) when in fact I was talking about our sausage sizzle. Oh Neil. We headed off and found a bbq machine, started cooking the food whilst the others kicked back. Frannie came along afterwards, it’s good to see him when he’s not too busy playing games at home or falling asleep.
Slowly the others left and we laid there on the grass doing acapella renditions of our favourite songs. One day we’ll nail the crossover mix of Teenage Dream & Call Me Maybe and it’s going to be awesome. The fact someone left their keys in the car meant we had to babysit and hopefully wait for them to come so we could return their keys. The car had L plates on it which, many would assume, must have been some young kid who accidentally forgot them in the keyhole. Wouldn’t it be funny if they turned out to be someone older instead.
An hour later, an Asian couple in their mid forties with a young child came to the car.
Figuring we might as well make the most of the nice weather, there was only one thing on our minds: coffee. Originally our plan was to head to The Town Mouse but the thought of dessert quickly entered our minds. And once again we found ourselves back at our old stomping grounds: Brunetti’s. Coffees and cakes were consumed as intellectually stimulating conversations about the importance of the porn industry were discussed.
I guess for many people, having a BBQ at the park isn’t any thing remarkable to blog about. Many teenagers would be sneaking off to their local parks, drinking and probably pissing all over the gas bbq’s. Still, I think you’ve always got to have something to look forward to.
Even if it is just having a few snags with your close friends on a nice sunny day.
A Shared Meal
Back in the day me and Raye would talk about our extravagant plans of hosting our own dinner party. One word would always be the driving factor to these discussions: Kinfolk. As I’ve said to many people at the Melbourne Kinfolk dinner party two weeks ago, it’s amazing how much of an impact they’ve had over the last two years or so.
I remember being at the Finder’s Keepers market back in April last year where they were selling volume 2 and thinking ‘Wow, this looks like an awesome mag’. Anyone who’s surfed through tumblr would have seen at least one of their photos (though most probably didn’t realise it was for the magazine) and I just find it mind-blowing how a year later, people around the world are now having their own ‘Kinfolk’ styled dinners with close friends and family.
Generally we’d go on a tangent and start talking about how we’re going to make it pretty with flowers, glass jars with rustic cheese platters and good ole home cooked meals. But as per usual, these discussions never really came into fruition though we did attempt it at our picnic up in Maroondah Dam earlier this year.
But I’m looking at photos from Tish’s facebook and it’s dawned at me that we have had dinner parties over the last year - I’ve just never thought much of it simply because it wasn’t styled as one. In a way I’ve just placed Kinfolk on such a high pedestal that I was too blind to realise I had actually forgotten what it really was all about. You don’t need fancy plates, pretty flowers or tealights in glass mason jars to have a dinner party. I had simply lost sight of what it’s really all about: enjoying a meal with each other’s company.
What made me realised this was when i had a browse through the new Kinfolk cookbook and was shocked to find how they too spent their nights back in college cooking lasagne and eating it off paper plates. PAPER PLATES! I found it amazing as that was always the mindset that many of us here at Backseat Ballads have - if it’s convenient for us then that’s what we’ll use.
And funnily enough, our NGC (Nice Guy Chicken) meals before Movie NIght encapsulates it all. Who knew what we’ve been doing for fun was actually meaningful in it’s own way?
One day it’ll happen. This Kinfolk dinner party we’ve talked about for so long will come into fruition. Raye probably won’t be back anytime soon though that does give me more time to stock up on a few essentials.
Which reminds me, I still need to complete my picnic/adventure kit for my car!
Let Go [Update]
A few weeks ago I decided to take a break from social media. Initially it began with Instagram (both accounts - @mbhwee & @backseatballads) but I also decided to include this tumblr as well. At that point I was simply exhausted - my creativity was running thin and I wasn’t sure what I was doing anymore.
Me and Jamie have been working on the new website for some time and it’s certainly much more work than I initially expected. In my mind it was a simple job of simply copying and pasting the content we have into Wordpress and that’s it. But as I started to go through all our entries, the true reality hits me.
Fuck. We have so much content!
The amount of writeups we have was staggering and it sure definitely became a mammoth of a task. Most of us have been so use to writing our entries for Tumblr that it brought upon new challenges as we made the switch to WP. I’ve spoken to my buddy Henry who’s also an amazing designer and he’s given me some help in regards to the overall design of the new website. I’m not gonna lie: it’s going to take awhile. Hell, if we could have it up and running by the end of this year would be a godsend.
But as the days went by I just found myself in a rut which I simply couldn’t get out of. Instagram has allowed me to meet some new people and establish new friends. Yet on the flipside, I’ve found myself becoming very insecure about my work and constantly comparing myself to others. It’s bitterness, that’s for sure. And let’s not get into followers - it’s shallow but it does begin to creep in as you question whether the content you create is as meaningful as you hope it would. Sometimes, that just isn’t the case.
Nevertheless it felt refreshing to get away from Instagram. Those two weeks I found myself free from constantly checking to see new updates or simply new content from others. Kind of sucks as I feel out of the loop but definitely good for me. I’ve also been questioning the purpose of this site and what I want to make of it. Backseat Ballads was initially started as a way for me to document the adventures I go to with my friends. It’s grown in ways I’ve never imagines, yet why does it feel unfulfilling at times?
I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply have to let go. Not so much of the website but moreso the need to promote and get BSB out there. Self promotion is something that’s entirely new to me and it’s something I’ve always been lousy at. Everyday the thought of making a new post crosses my mind, as though we need to constantly have new content to up to the standards of what other bloggers do. It’s never that easy. I seriously do not know how people can do it with a full-time job in the mix as well.
Regardless I hope to get back into it the near future. The thought of letting this die a slow death has crossed my mind many times. But deep down I know it’s something that I must continue, not for anyone else’s sake but for my own. Once I am able to let go on this innate need to preassure others into following the site is when I’ll finally be at peace with it all.
Just let it go.
Raye’s Outdoors - Hike
River Walk - Werribee Gorge State Park
We tend to organise a camp every 2-3 months, which is fine though I’ve always felt we should try to have more regular adventures in the meantime. It’s quite startling when people come to us and enquire about places they to go and things they could do for daytrips and what not. I mean, it’s flattering don’t get me wrong. But I just feel in comparison to others out there, we’re still newbie’s and there’s still many places we still want to explore as well.
There’s been discussions about doing bi-weekly hikes during the weekends (working full-time does limit your ability to go on random adventures) and find more local ones to do. Lerderderg is one we still want to revisit Brisbane Ranges is another. But that day, we decided to head towards Werribee Gorge.
Stocked up with water, Pringles and our cameras, we made our way to the Gorge. There’s a few tracks that you can do there, though we opted to do the River Walk. The walk wasn’t too bad - you did have to be careful as you were walking along a narrow-ish pathway and if you were to fall… it’d hurt.
We rested along the creek which in some ways felt like a mini beach of sorts. Along the way we’d see areas where we felt ‘Damn, we could totally camp here if we really wanted to’. Further out we reached the rocky area where you literally had to hang from a wire cable in order to continue your journey. In our minds we felt like real rock climbers - which is hardly the case since we were so close to ground level. Still, hanging out in the cave was refreshing and climbing up to the top of the rocky ledge was an experience.
If you’ve got a weekend free and would rather be doing some productive than being on the computer all day, I suggest you go on a walk. Or hiking if you want to sound abit more adventurous. Werribee Gorge isn’t too far from us (30 mins give or take) and it’s definitely a place I’d want to revisit soon.
I just hope we can do the entire circuit this time round.