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Thursday, 30 October 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 43: There Will Be No Rodeo

The Woolshed on Hindley Street has its own mechanical bull so that all the drunk people who attend the joint can make fools of themselves and entertain the equally drunk crowd. Jerida reminded me of its existence, so we made plans to go on Sunday night.

We checked the pub's website to make sure it would be up and running. It said it was available to use every night of the week. But when we turned up to the venue, it seemed to me to be very closed. Our friend Brooke, who knew of the plan, speculated that it didn't open until 9 o'clock. So we went to have dinner and came back. Still not open. What was going on?

'I just Googled The Woolshed,' said Brooke via text. 'It says it doesn't open at all on Sundays.' Back in town, Jerida and I sighed heavily and gave up to go home. We'd have to come back on Tuesday, when I was next free.

We got back to the carpark that I'd left my car in and put in the ticket to pay. And it never came back out again. Jerida and I watched as the machine made a lot of really unhealthy-sounding grinding noises, and then spat out a receipt saying "Error. Your transaction did not process."

'Press the intercom button,' said Jerida. I did, and nothing happened. Jerida tried pressing it. Still, nothing happened
'I tried that!' I said.
'Well, you never know with you,' she retorted.
Yeah, I guess that's true...

We stood there for another 10 minutes, pressing the intercom button, looking around for inspiration and then giving up and pressing the button again.
'There's another intercom button at the exit gate,' I said. I walked over there and tried the dirty green button. Nup, nothing. We stood for another 5 minutes, Jerida at the pay machine and me at the exit gate, taking turns pressing those darn buttons, expecting something to happen. What did we think that there was someone on the other end just taking a nap and pressing the buttons enough would wake him up?

I started looking for a phone number to call. Couldn't find one. A sign above the machine said "Secure Parking, Plaza Hotel." So we rang up the nearby Plaza Hotel to see what they could do about it.
'Plaza Hotel, this is Andrew.'
'Hi Andrew, we're stuck in the carpark next door. Are you able to help us?'
'Oh for goodness... We've got nothing to do with that carpark. I don't know why people keep calling us about it.'
'Because it's called 'Secure Parking Plaza Hotel?'
'Well we didn't name it that. Try calling Secure Parking.'
'Do you have their number?'
No, sorry.'
'Okay, well... have a good night.'

Okay, what's our next move. The internet? Jerida looked up Secure Parking on her phone.
'Let's see, contact us... You can email them... There's no phone numb- oh wait, here it is.'
I called the number.
"Hello, you've reached Secure Parking. Our offices are closed at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep and one of our representatives will contact you as soon as they can. Alternatively, if you're at one of our carparks now, you can use the intercom button to contact a staff member immediately."
'I can't press the intercom, it's not working! We're just stuck here, after hours, and we can't get out. If you can get back to me before tomorrow morning, that would be great,' and then I hung up without leaving a return number because I knew that wouldn't happen.

'Where's the nearest Secure carpark to here?' asked Jerida. 'Maybe we could got there and use their intercom.'
Good idea. The nearest one turned out to only be a few hundred meters away. We made our way there and pressed the intercom.
'Hello, Secure Parking,' came the voice of our saviour.
'Hi! We got trapped at one of your other carparks and the intercom won't work!'
I won't go into how long it took her to understand our predicament, but eventually, she took down my phone number at got us to walk about to the original carpark. She called us back once we were there.
'Okay, I've had a look at the machine, it doesn't seem to be working.'
'Doesn't it?'
'No. So what I'll have to get you to do is drive your car up to the exit boom gate, lift it up by hand and then put it down behind you once you've driven through.'
Can they be lifted by hand? I walked over to the boom gate and tried to lift it. The moment my hand hit the bottom of the gate, it flew up and tucked itself neatly aside, waiting for its car to pass. Man, turned out to be pretty darn easy in the end.

So Tuesday came around and we met up in the city again. This time, Brooke was able to join us. I had been nervous for the last two days - as far as this challenge is concerned, the new week starts on Wednesday and I don't like leaving things to the last day, just in case something goes wrong. The Woolshed's a big place, so when we got inside, I thought I'd ask a bartender where to find it.
'It's around that corner,' she said. But it won't be open until Wednesday at 9:00.'
'Right... Thanks for your help,' I said. I walked back to the girls and said 'Have you got a spare 25 hours to kill?'
'You're kidding me, right?' said Jerida. 'Don't these guys update their website?!'
'We've got a more pressing issue,' I said as we walked out of the pub and down Hindley Street. 'We now need to think of a good new thing for me to do within the next four hours. What ideas have we got guys?'
'Hm...' said Brooke with a cheeky smile on her face. 'Have you ever done shisha?'
'No, and I don't plan to.'
'Have you ever worn a tutu?'
'Have you ever been to Strats?' I retorted, referencing the town's low-class strip club.
'I have actually, have you?'
'Um, no...'
'Have you ever walked down the street wearing nothing but a barrel?'
'Ever been rolled down a hill in a barrel and then into a river?'
'Ever done the splits in a phone box?'
'How even... Never mind, I've seen how flexible you are.'
'Oh, I've got it! Have you ever had escargot?'
'Hey no, I haven't!'
'There's this little French restaurant we're coming up to that Jason took me to once. I think they sell it.'
'I'm in, let's go!'

The restaurant in question seemed more like just a gap between buildings, but it was well-decorated and obviously fancy. The busboy who seated us looked like he had homework to get to, but he was very proper and eager to please. As he sat us at our table, Jerida looked around.
'I just realized we're very underdressed,' she said. 'At least this is a first for me, I've never been to a fancy restaurant in denim short-shorts and a hockey jersey.'
I know how you feel,' replied Brooke, scanning through the menu. 'Have you ever paid more than $1000 for dinner?'
The meals did seem awfully expensive. But I've certainly paid more for my experiences in the past. The chef came out to our table.
'Would you like to hear about today's specials?' he said in his stereotypically French accent.
'No thanks,' we replied. The girls had just decided to order desserts and I sure knew what I was getting. As the chef trudged off, I leaned over the table and whispered
'Was that bad etiquette? Did we just offend him?'
'Probably, replied Jerida. 'Further proof that we don't belong here.'
The busboy returned to take our orders, Still trying to be the utmost professional.
'I'll have the escargot, thanks,' I said.
'I'll have the creme du caramel,' said Jerida.
'And I'll have the poached pear,' said Brooke.
'Excellent, and would you like all those at the same time?'
'Yes,' I said. 'And preferably in the same plate.'
There was a moment's hesitation as the busboy took in that last sentence, then his face broke and he snorted with laughter, quickly collecting himself before the manager could notice.
'That will be out soon,' he said and he moped off, embarrassed.

The conversations we had while we were waiting for our food were of a very high standard, They were the type of conversations I point to and go "This is why I'm friends with these people". Here's a selection of some of my favourites...

Brooke: (Showing off the amount of French she can speak)
Busboy: Would you like any drinks at all?
Michael: I got this. Mais oui 'ave some watere?
Brooke: No Michael. Just no.
Busboy: (trudges off laughing again)

Customers who have just entered: Oh! You're wearing a Boston Bruins jersey! That's where we're from!
Jerida: Hahaha, lovely to meet you! (turns to us) Great, call more attention to how I'm dressed.

Brooke: My Dad's last name is Irish.
Michael: And your Mum's last name is Scottish, right?
Brooke: No, Walsh is very Irish.
Michael: You're from all over Brittain.
Brooke: No... I'm just Irish.
Michael: Oh yeah...

Brooke: I can do accents really well.
Jerida: I can't do accents at all.
Michael: I can-a do-a a veddy good-a Italiano accent-o!
Jerida: (laughing) That was the worst accent I've ever heard!
Michael: What's-a wrong-a with-a my ac-a-cent?
Jerida and Brooke: (more laughter)

Michael: See, I know that failure causes laughter, but I don't like people seeing me fail. It's quite a conundrum.
Jerida: Yeah, I think that sums you up perfectly.
Brooke: There are so many things going through my head right now that you'd fail at!
Michael: Doubt it.
Brooke: Ballet, diving, singing, dancing, doing accents...
Michael: Alright, let's not-
Brooke: Gymnastics, horse riding, basic etiquette...
Michael: Okay, I get it!
Brooke: Cooking, medicine, DJing...
Michael: Alright!

Jerida: I guess they'd have like, snail farms for the escargot right?
Michael: Holy... (leans forward and whispers) How do snails reproduce?
Brooke: Hahahahaha! That would be the slowest sex ever!
Michael: And who's house would they go back to?

Michael: Where did your nickname come from?
Brooke: Chook, it rhymes with Brooke.
Michael: Makes sense...
Brooke: And if you say may name like (makes chicken noises)
Michael and Jerida: (laughter)

So at last our food came out. Brooke's dessert looked amazing.

Jerida's food looked pretty good too.

My food... Not so much.

They seemed to have mixed in the snails (have I mentioned that escargot is snails? Seems pretty important) with equal amounts of ham and spinach, possibly to mask the flavour. I very slowly pierced one of the snails with my fork...

It was okay, but not great. They had a bit of a chewy texture and tasted strongly of garlic. I later found out that the sauce in was mainly liquefied garlic. It actually reminded me a lot of seafood. I hate seafood.

Jerida tried some too.

And she wasn't a fan either.

That was a lot of lead-up for one little moment of experience. As we were leaving, Jerida breathed a sigh of relief.
'I feel better now. I explained to the manager why I was dressed like this.'
'You're kidding. What did you say?' said Brooke.
'I told him we weren't planning on coming here tonight. We were going to go ride the mechanical bull at The Woolshed.'
'Did he forgive you?' I asked jokingly.
'Oh yeah, he said his sister did that once. Apparently, she broke the bull.'
'Yeah. Apparently there's footage up of it on YouTube.'


  1. The story about being stuck in the car park is hilarious! :-) It's good you were able to find another challenge on such short notice. I've never had escargot, and I don't think I really want to try them. I probably would have eaten the ham out of that dish and left the spinach and snails behind.

    1. I think the flavours all ran into each other in the end, you couldn't enjoy one part and not the others :P

  2. As someone who has snails in his garden, I just can't imagine frying them up and eating them. And I'll eat a lot of adventurous things, but they just seem so... slimy and textureless.

    Also, getting stuck in a car park sounds hilariously terrible. I've only ever had the opposite problem - getting back into one so I can drive my car out. But I imagine it's a lot easier to get a person inside than it is to get a car out.

    1. How did you get in? Was there a chimney involved?

    2. I did a long series of yoga stretches, limbered up my spine, and then limbo'd under the 2 foot tall lift gate like a pro. I was informed only after that I could have just walked around.

  3. I enjoyed your post. I bet that place is never open, and the bull is still broken so it doesn't matter that it's not open. I will not try escargots.


    1. I'm pretty sure it's been fixed since then. Either that or they bred a new one.

    2. Oh, I'd like to see the baby bull.

  4. Well, you're a braver man than I, Gunga Din. I will not try escargot. But I've eaten frogs legs! Maybe order those if you ever go back to that French restaurant.

    1. I was wondering if they had frog's legs, are they good?

  5. Snails and oysters.... mucilaginous instruments of torture; existing to give chefs (and other devilish creatures) the amusement of watching hapless diners ingest globs of - well never mind - whilst pretending it's delicious.

    1. Hahaha I guess people will do anything if it makes them look cultured.

  6. She tasted your snails but you didn't taste her creme. That doesn't seem fair to me. And the girl who broke the bull seemed very pleased with herself too. Aussie girls just do whatever they want!

    1. They do! They're very fun to be around. I did actually try some of her creme, I just didn't include that part in the story :P

  7. Snails are delicious when cooked properly . . . in France you can buy packets in the freezer section to heat up in the oven or microwave, like you would a frozen pizza.
    I'd bring you sone back in Feb if I wasn't certain quarantine would have a field day over it.

    1. Hey Saz! Well if you want to try bringing it home, I'd love to try it!

  8. Great grand finale to this post. Now, nothing short of breaking the bull would make for a remarkable ride. We have one of those at a bar/club in Chico. The bull would break me before I'd break it.

    You make me laugh with how friendly you are to people who are being rude or completely unhelpful to you.

    I've never had escargot. I wouldn't think that it would taste better with ham. Sounds pretty horrible. Bacon, maybe, but not ham. =)

    1. I really like how you point out the specific parts of posts that you like. It lets me know you're being genuine rather than just polite :)

      I think ham and bacon taste almost the same. Am I an inexperienced pig-eater?

      I'd love if it became a thing where bloggers took turns uploading video of themselves taking on a mechanical bull.

  9. blah, that food of yours does not look appetizing in the least. Looks like something the cat coughed back up. haha she took no bs off that bull. Although my money would be on the bull breaking me before I broke it.

    1. I didn't mind it. If I was asked to eat it again, I could.

  10. "Well, you never know with you." What does that mean... do gadgets suddenly stop working in your presence? You might have a super power like one of the X Men.

    1. It means I often have lapses in logical thinking. It was perfectly possible that instead of pressing the intercom, I tried to start a fire and send smoke signals to the company in question.

  11. Well, now that you know the secret of the car park exit, you'll never have to pay again!!

    I just don't think I'm interested in trying escargot. I mean, I would love the garlic part of the deal, because no amount of garlic is too much as far as I'm concerned, but really, every creature was not meant to be eaten! Slimy, sluggy things would be included in that, I think. But good job for trying it!

    1. Yeah, it's one of those things that's got such a stigma around it that you have to try it.

  12. Got to learn something today .... escargot is snail.

    1. Yep. The French are known for three dishes - escargot, croissants and frog's legs.


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