Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Bookshelves with books

Books are pricey in Australia (Image of Berkelouw Books in Paddington, Sydney)

As a keen reader, I took it forgranted in the UK how cheap it is to buy the latest paperback books. Wander into any supermarket and pick up 3for2, 3 for ten pounds or buy one get one half price on best-selling authors.

Over in Australia I had a shock in the local bookstore when I found average paperbacks retailing at around $25 each (GBP15 pounds). Like the cost of many everyday items in Australia, it’s been hard to adapt to books being so expensive.

So, over the last few years I’ve taken to visiting second-hand bookstores in Sydney to pick up nearly new versions of some of the best selling books on the high street. A bonus is that the sellers will often buy back books from you as well, so I try and take in some to sell before I buy any more too. Here’s my selection of my favourite second-hand bookstores in Sydney.

1) Darling Street Books, 648 Darling Street, Rozelle

This really is the treasure chest of second-hand books. Every single nook of this tiny store is crammed with books – fiction and non-fiction. From the latest best-selling chick lit, to autobiographies of Australia’s past prime ministers, you can find anything you want here. Worth the visit alone is the opportunity to see the shopkeeper tally up your sale and pencil it into his thumbed notebook of books sold – there’s no cutting-edge till system in use here and it’s a quaint and traditional shopping experience.

Darling Street bookstore in Rozelle

Entrance to bookstore

The entrance to Darling Street Books in Rozelle

2) Gleebooks, 191 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Three years ago as a skint backpacker I took a walk out to Gleebooks from my hostel in search of a book to read. I wasn’t disappointed. There’s a huge range to choose from and reasonable prices if you’re on a budget. Plus it’s an easy stroll from most of the backpacker accommodation in the Sydney CBD, which means it’s top choice for the traveller.

3) Sappho Books, 51 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

If you’re visiting Gleebooks, then you’ll also want to pop into Sappho Books a short walk down the street. Settle in to the bookstore for the afternoon as it also doubles as a cafe and wine bar.

4) Berkelouw Bookshop Paddington, 19 Oxford Street, Paddington

Not only does this bookstore sell new AND second-hand books, but it also houses a cafe and is open til late in the evening.

Better still, it also looks completely amazing and is my favourite for a Saturday browse followed by brunch in the local area.


The beautiful Berkelouw Books in Paddington

So, that’s my top picks for second-hand bookstores in Sydney. Where are yours?


Read Full Post »

Anyone who has visited Sydney will have spent some time at Darling Harbour.

And if you’ve been to Darling Harbour, you’ve probably walked across the Pyrmont Bridge, which connects the city to the harbourside.

Living in Pyrmont, I walk over the bridge twice a day to journey into the city. Early on when I moved to Sydney there was a rumour going around among my British friends that the bridge splits in half four times a day to let  boats through.

It was hard to believe that this hundred-year-old bridge could actually separate in half.

I’d walked across the bridge hundreds of times and never seen it swing open.

But then, one sunny weekend, it happened! At the approach to the bridge, wooden gates blocked our path and the crowds watched as the central island of the bridge pivoted around to create a gap to allow tall ships through.

It all takes just a few minutes, and then the bridge swings back into place allowing the tourists to carry on their way.

So, now I know. Pyrmont Bridge does still open to let ships pass. Every day without fail at 10.30am, 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. What’s more, it’s one of the world’s oldest surviving electrically operated swingspan bridges. It really is a sight to behold.

Last weekend, I captured the bridge opening in photos from the other side of Darling Harbour. See for yourself:

Pyrmont Bridge opening

The centre island of Pyrmont Bridge swings open to let ships through – yet the monorail still passes overhead

Pyrmont Bridge opening

The bridge begins to close, as the monorail approaches overhead

If you’re interested in reading more, the Darling Harbour Pyrmont Bridge history is available here.

Read Full Post »

Despite living in Australia nearly two years now, this ANZAC Day – 25 April – was actually my first in the country (owing to our trip back home last April).

And I must say, it’s been a complete eye-opener.

I’ll explain exactly what ANZAC Day is all about, but firstly, I should confess that sadly I wasn’t able to participate in any of the activities due to a monster cold that hit me out of nowhere on ANZAC Day Eve. But, a day in bed feeling sorry for myself, did give me the opportunity to write this blog, so it’s not been a total failure.

Here goes….

1)   ANZAC Day is basically a ramped up version of the UK’s Remembrance Sunday

It’s celebrated each year on April 25 to remember the armed forces in World War One. The best overview of the main traditions of the day is here, on this government website.

But, what struck me most is the (rightful) prominence Australia gives to this day. Allowing people to have the day free from work to celebrate just that – freedom – and everything the armed forces did for today’s people.

It means that it’s hard for anyone to ignore the day and to understand its importance. However people choose to spend their time, the ANZAC celebrations will play a part. Pubs are decorated and themed with ANZAC remembrance and the TV stations, newspapers and radio shows will be filled with coverage of the remembrance events.

2)   ‘Two-up’ isn’t just an extra drink in the pub

When I first heard people at work saying they were going to spend ANZAC Day ‘two up in the pub’, I just assumed they meant they would be drinking lots of alcohol.

But after the third person had said this phrase to me, I decided to google it and found out that 2UP is actually a game of odds, where players bet on whether coins will land heads or tails. The link to ANZAC comes because the Army would play this game during the war. It’s actually now banned in many pubs because of the fear it encourages gambling.

And 2UP isn’t the only tradition of the day to help get Aussies into the spirit of the event. Delicious oatey Anzac biscuits have been a staple in the office this week too. Yum.

3)   It’s good to get up early.

I did set my alarm, I really did, but this cold just got the better of me. The Dawn Service of Remembrance took place at 4.15am(!) in central Sydney, attended by thousands of people from all across the region. Public transport opened early for events to help people easily get into town. And, if that was too difficult for people, hundreds of similar ceremonies are held in local suburbs too.

4)   It’s for all ages

I watched on TV the crowds gather in Sydney for the parade which began at around 9am this morning. Young and old together joining to cheer the servicemen travelling through the streets. Whilst the older ones were able to remember grandparents or great-grandparents they had once known to serve in the wars, the parade is a way to educate the young, in a fun way of what has passed into history. That seems the greatest outcome of ANZAC Day: that it will live on for generations to come.

5)   It’s a great day to be in Australia

I thought Australia Day was Australian patriotism to its best, but ANZAC Day has been something very special to have witnessed….even if it was just from my bed.

Read Full Post »

”]One DirectionCelebs from all across the world have flocked to Sydney in recent months.

The lovely Leo DiCaprio set up home over the summer to film scenes for The Great Gatsby.

In recent weeks Will.i.am and Paris Hilton were in town for the opening of Marquee, the city’s newest nightclub.

And this week we’ve been spoilt with Rihanna, Zac Efron and the latest boyband on the block One Direction all flying in for a visit.

Too much effort

It used to be the case that Sydney, as with all of Australia, didn’t get much of a look-in when it came to promotional touring or A-list attendance at events.

For a country of 20 million people and around a day’s travel time from the US or the UK, it was always easy for Aussies to be pushed off the list of important crowds to please – versus the effort, cost and time required.

Reading the celebrity pages of the newspapers and magazines when I first arrived here in 2010 I was struck by how distant everything showbiz seemed from this place. The duopoly of the UK and the US in terms of the celebrity world became so much more apparent since I wasn’t in either of those places, but rather somewhere else, looking over.

Giving the thumbs up

But now, the shift is happening.

Zac Efron – here for the world premiere of his new film (yes, a world premiere in Sydney!) gushed to breakfast TV on Tuesday morning about the surfing, the laid back lifestyle and his love for Australia. Rihanna was spotted taking snaps of the Opera House from her hotel bedroom. And those One Direction boys have been spending their days off cruising on the Harbour and this weekend plan on doing the infamous Bridge Climb.

And Aussies love this. They love that when the celebrities come to Australia they aren’t just hiding in the hotel room, but are checking the place out, just like a regular tourist. They are flattered and proud when an A-lister – in fact any visitor – chooses to come here and gives the thumbs up to everything that they find.

Australia can’t be ignored

So why has the shift taken place?

  • The rise of social media has no doubt had its impact. No longer can you ignore the Australian fans when that fanbase is so actively demanding attention through the likes of facebook and twitter. According to a Nielsen study last year, Aussies are topping the list of social media users in the developed world, meaning that a higher proportion of the population are speaking out via these mediums.
  • Celebrities who do come over get greater cut-through and exposure across all media platforms as there’s much less competition for coverage. I doubt there’s an Australian who doesn’t know about One Direction right now. Amongst everything else, they headlined the 7pm news here tonight and were interviewed at prime time on every breakfast show, both radio and TV.
  • Businesses and key influencers are doing everything they can to use their positions of power to bring celebrities to Australia. Australian tourism was hit hard in the last few years because of the strong Aussie dollar discouraging overseas visitors and because of natural disasters in key markets such as Queensland. Oprah back in 2011 was a highlight for Tourism Australia, and set the benchmark for others who know they need to do their bit. Australian Director Scott Hicks’ insistence that the world premiere of The Lucky One took place Sydney last week is another testament to that.
  • On the flip side, the economic crisis has not hit Australia as it has done in Europe. Those key markets for filmmakers and pop starlets are not quite as lucrative as they once were. Australia in comparison is doing very well. We’re now seen as the opportunity to fill the income gap for the music and film industry.

And finally. Let’s just state the obvious. Australia’s a beautiful place to visit with citizens who love making visitors feel welcome.  Maybe it’s not that complicated a reason after all. Maybe it’s just that the celebrity world is finally getting it.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: