Upholstery Course

So…..I thought I’d try upholstery!

Forever fuelled with a desire to stretch my creative capabilities to their limits and with my ongoing and fruitless search to find the career of my dreams, I happened upon an intensive four-week workshop in Upholstery Resurrection. Better still, the course was conveniently a two-minute walk from my home.

Maaike Furniture Restoration is a one man band located in Darlinghurst Sydney in the more colourful part of Oxford Street near Taylor Square. A small establishment unlikely positioned between an ‘adult supermarket’ and various late night bars and eateries. The atmosphere along the stretch outside the shop is vibrant to say the least.

Maaike (pronounced mike-a) is the name of chief upholsterer extraordinaire and owner of the business. What she doesn’t know about the ins and outs of a chaise lounge is hard to imagine! This lady is a font of knowledge which would rival older masters of the trade. If there are any gaps in her repertoire they would be made up for by her boundless enthusiasm and creativity. Maaike has acquired a vast depth of skill and know how about her craft and is generously happy to share with anyone prepared to listen – all of her trade secrets! Maaike also has a strong recycling and up cycling ethic. Chairs may be lovingly rescued from the kerb side, springs can frequently be reused and fabric remnants are often perfect for different projects. This encourages you to feel virtuous about sustainability whilst at the same time, beautifying your house with your own personal creation.

See below how my bridge chair was transformed in four lessons!

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If I am honest I had not really stopped to consider just how much work is involved with the innards of a chair as it’s not really obvious from the finished product. The outer wooden parts on show such as arms also, have to be stripped back and sanded down which is in itself a very time-consuming process. I now understand entirely why it is so costly to get anything re – upholstered professionally.

Each three and a half hour session leaves me exhausted and ready for my bed. My head is throbbing with the extra knowledge and skills I have acquired.

At the end of class the lovely Maaike is not pushing us out of the door either – In fact, so generous is she with her time that she allows people overstay so they can refine their works of art.

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Will I continue with upholstery? Well – yes I think I will. Tools are needed obviously but nothing you can’t buy from Bunnings. You also need a space to work and store projects as there is no quick fix if you want your finished pieces to look beautiful. Some projects will be heavy work and physically demanding and will more than certainly take a few weeks to complete depending on how time rich you are.

It is time to confess at this point that I am a bit of a workshopoholic! I have definitely sampled a few since I moved to Sydney four years ago. I can also say with certainty that this course is one of the best I have experienced. I love the intensity of it. The fact that after fourteen hours graft under Maaike’s kind and patient guidance you have acquired enough skill and confidence to potentially go it alone!

Maaike Pullar




122 Oxford St, Darlinghurst

Open Tues – Sat 10:00AM – 6:00PM


KATE BUSH – Gig Review,

London, Hammersmith.

It was an incredibly tense moment as I found my ID being scrutinised by security at the door of the concert.I look nothing like my passport photo and my maiden name printed on the tickets does not correspond either. This and a moment earlier being approached by a shady character asking if I had any money or ‘Cake’ I could give him certainly got the adrenalin pumping pre concert and me feeling very Rock N Roll!!

It is a reality check when scanning the line. I sum up that the average age of these gig goers is 55 and rising. There is a fair smattering of women wearing token crushed velvet and pieces of Ivy adorning their hair. Assessing the men it’s less about clothing and more about their manner. Many seem to posses an expectant and distant, dreamy look on their face – We have after all, waited our whole lives for this moment – it’s a dream come true!

Once inside, the four merchandise stalls are heaving with hoards of people trying to show restraint, buying any Slice of KB memento they can lay their hands on. They then frantically fish out reading glasses from bags or pockets in order to tap in pin numbers to pay.
Anticipation for the show to start found me un-characteristically making animated small talk to strangers and neighbouring fans all commenting on how lucky we were to have acquired tickets….Chatting to an American guy it was decided that being in the fan club and purchasing from another country where the servers were less mobbed might be one explanation as to why we were so fortunate – we are the chosen few!

Exactly on time Kate is received by a standing ovation as she appears stage left, flanked by her backing singers bare footed and clad in a long black coat with heavily embroidered hemline.
She launches in to Lily (Red Shoes album) – her voice so powerful and bang on key. Her beauty and humble down to earth manner is quite bewitching.
Some of the songs to follow are Hounds of Love, Joanie, Top of the City, Running Up That Hill & King of the Mountain.
The mood changes dramatically as the stage is transformed in to a production of the songs from The Ninth Wave. (B side of Hounds of Love album).You feel as if you are watching a film as what follows envelops and transports you on a roller-coaster of emotion as the story of someone who is lost at sea is told.
Kate is able to convey every form of emotion in her voice and her amazing band of musicians, singers and puppeteers only enhance what she is trying to say.
A highlight for me is listening to her sixteen year old son who is given a solo verse. His adolescent, not yet fully matured voice is then joined by his mothers soft velvety tones, enveloping but not dominating his. This culminates in to a perfectly balance duet.
This first half of the gig is an hour and a half!
The second half is mainly songs from the album Ariel. Once again the stage and lighting crew have excelled in creating a mesmerising and captivating backdrop to Kate’s haunting and breathy tones. At one point I felt so hypnotised that I wasn’t sure if I was awake or not…..must have been a bit of jet lag creeping in!
The last song and climax of the show was ‘Cloudbusting’ after which we were all released back in to reality and the lure of the West London streets.
The concert left me emotionally drained and exhilarated at the same time if that’s possible and as we streamed out of the venue we were treated to a waxing moon in a cloud free sky making even The Hammersmith Fly Over not such a bad place to be!


Fish Spa Treatment

Changi Airport, Singapore

Travelling on Air Miles meant a switch of plane and a few hours to kill at Changi Airport (terminal 1) in Singapore.
It was with trepidation that I found myself committing to a Fish Spa Experience at the Airport Wellness Oasis
A Weirdly contradictory choice for a vegetarian I agree as it’s a flesh eating practice. Quickly tossing that thought aside however, I washed my feet with soap and towel dried them as instructed and then delicately lowered my piggies in to the medicinal fish pond.
I find that within seconds I am being eaten alive!!! Hundreds of tiny little suckers or biters…do they have teeth?! Start working away at my feet.
At first I am not very keen and I am also really worried about squashing them between my toes. When I satisfy myself that it is less of a bite and more of a tickle that I am feeling, I slowly start to relax and begin to fantasise about the prospect of possessing heels as smooth as a baby’s bottom!
The session lasts for half an hour – they should be able to perform the task by then. Mentally I encourage them on…come on guys – keep it up!
My thoughts start wandering off as I take in the ambience and tranquility of rest of the spa. Amist the calming music, lotions and potionsI am now feeling incredibly decadent and pampered.
As I slowly bring my vision back to how my feet are looking I am shocked back in to reality because by now a few of the larger fish have gone off together and created a gang. They are taking a smaller fish down…. This is hardcore – the survival of the fittest! I am horrified to find as I further scrutinise the bottom of the pool that there are one or two tiny skeletal remnants of fish for whom whatever reason in this underwater world, have been alienated, picked out and turned upon by their extended family.
It is gruesome to admit that these tiny featureless creatures are in fact carnivorous Cannibals and I want out ASAP!