Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Apple & Blackberry loaf (gluten free)

2 Apples
125 grams Butter
Half a cup Sugar (or 1 cup Rice Malt syrup)
2 Eggs
2 heaped teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
Half a cup Almond Meal
1 cup Sorghum flour with 2 teaspoons GF baking powder
Handful of frozen or fresh blackberries

Heat oven to 180c.  Peel & core one apple and chop into small chunks.  Cream the butter & sugar, slowly adding each egg, mixing well.  Add vanilla, almond meal, sorghum flour, baking powder - mixing well to combine.   Fold in chopped apple, then gently fold in the blackberries.  
Core remaining apple (don't peel it) and slice it into discs as thinly as possible.
Pour into a greased and/or lined loaf pan and arrange the thinly sliced apple discs on top.  
Bake for appoximately 30mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Queen Emma Chocolate Company

What a find!  Single origin chocolate grown and processed in PNG.  Spotted this for sale in yesterday in the Departure Lounge duty free shop at Jacksons Airport in Port Moresby.
Opened the pack of Stone Ground last night when I got home for MDR & myself to taste. The fragance when I opened the package was gorgeous, heady & aromatic.  The chocolate has a very intense and fresh flavour, quite something.
I think it's the nicest chocolate I've ever tried.
Did some research online and found that it's made by Paradise Foods in PNG, they're definitely onto a winner with this.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Domestic Travelling in China (Shanghai, Xi'an & Chengdu)

No trip to China is complete without a visit, at the very least, to the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an & the Chengdu Panda Base
Before leaving Cairns did some research and worked out that booking flights and hotels via the Ctrip website looked pretty straightforward, however decided to wait until we were there before making any firm bookings.
Once in Shanghai and after checking with Hong Kong based brother who also recommended Ctrip, decided to take the plunge and travel "freestyle". 
Shanghai Pudong Airport - Terminal 1
After allowing for an important business meeting in Aust. that MDR had to do via Skype we decided to head over to Xi'an on a Monday night (2h 40m flight), then head out early Tuesday morning to tour the Terracotta Warriors site allowing a whole day in Xi'an, overnighting for a further night there, then flying to Chengdu (1h 30m flight) early the next morning, spending half a day at the Panda Base and returning to Shanghai that evening.  This would mean avoiding crowds on weekends and allow us to visit the important sites early in the mornings when it would be less busy.  Lucky also that our trip to China was in November, which is low season, no local holidays and also cooler weather - just perfect!
Ctrip listed many domestic airline options with very cheap to very pricey fares.  Our China Eastern flight from Cairns had been good so ended up booking all of our flights with them.  China Southern had been recommended to us as well by Allen's Tours in Xi'an but China Eastern worked out to have more flights and cheaper fares.
Domestic Flight on China Eastern
Booking via Ctrip online with the iPad was fine until the payment page, tried three times but it kept crashing. Getting a bit dispirited by then as I didn't fancy calling Ctrip and struggling with language difficulties, however it was either calling or not going!  Pleasantly surprised when I called the English booking line, the sales agent at the other end had great English, was very fast and our three flights were booked in a jiffy.  Also helped a lot that I'd entered in our details and passport numbers and taken note of the flight details.  Just had to read out my credit card number and the flights were confirmed via e-ticket with emails arriving shortly thereafter.
Our of our flights were ex Shanghai Pudong (East) as that was the airport we were familiar with, however in retrospect it may have been better to return to Shanghai via Shanghai Hongqiao airport which is on the Puxi (West) side of Shanghai where we were staying on our return from Chengdu.  But we did have to leave our big suitcases somewhere and it turned out to be very quick and easy to leave them at the baggage storage facility which was about 30m from the China Eastern (MU) check-in area at the excellent Shanghai Pudong airport.
The domestic flight on MU was seamless, quick check-in using just our passports (no annoying e-ticket printouts needed), new aircraft, on-time, and polite co-passengers on board.
We were surprised by the level of security, just like travelling international.  Passports are checked then there is a very rigourous security check which included being "frisked" with the metal detector wand.  This turns out to be the case on all domestic flights so it's smart to allow plenty of time to get through security checkpoints.
China Eastern In-Flight Meal - W Class MU5410  CTU - PVG
The airports at Xi'an and Chengdu were very similar to Shanghai Pudong, very large, quite new and very efficient.
Aviation Radish - Too scared to try this!
All of our flights were seamless and where we used taxi's, very short queues.
In-flight meals were pretty good, quite substantial compared to Australia.  Forget the in-flight coffee though, it's served lukewarm in a plastic tumbler with that awful "Coffee Creamer" powder.

We managed to find nice coffee shops at all the airports so have your coffee fix before you board!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

SmartShanghai Website

Found this website to be invaluable for getting around by taxi in Shanghai, one just has to bring up the destination and it lists the address in Mandarin as well as English.  With the iPad I just had to show the driver the webpage on the iPad screen, who would read the address in Mandarin script and we'd be away. 
Twice though we encountered taxi drivers who couldn't read so were forced to find another taxi.

Foodie Heaven in Shanghai

Every meal in our 10 days in China was wonderful!   MDR was able to indulge in lots of Chinese roast duck and even French confit duck.
All cuisines are on offer in Shanghai and it's hard to go wrong with food, prices range from a few yuan to completely over our budget and into the stratosphere.

The very fat mushroom dumplings in Huaihai Road were divine and MDR was able to go back to his Gallic roots with a Marseille pizza  at a Cote next door to La Petit Franck in the French Concession.  The petit pan au chocolat at nearby Farine (Franck's too) were to die for, and half the price of what we pay at home.

We really enjoyed the streetside kebabs in Xi'an at the Muslim Bazaar and also the home delivery to our hotel in Shanghai by Sherpas from Cafe Montmartre.  Sherpas were awesome, all of the local restaurants were listed on their website, pick your cuisine and place an order from the online menu and it's delivered to you for 15yuan plus the restaurant cost.

Shanghai Shoe Woes

Anticipating lots of tramping around China, MDR invested in a sturdy pair of new 100% Australian made Redback boots. He has had a pair now for a couple of years that he wears to work and swears by them.
After 4 days in Shanghai we went to a standup comedy show by the Punchline Comedy Club at the ritzy 5 star Shangri La Kerry Hotel when MDR was nobbled by the Redbacks.  The damn soles started disintegrating and MDR was forced to slide around so the shoe soles wouldn't flap - not happy Jan!
The standup comedy was hilarious, Arj Barker was the drawcard but the two Brit comedians were actually just as good if not better.  The event was spiced up even more with a loud mouth Kiwi lass in the front row having to be ejected, she wouldn't stop talking and even claimed to the room that she would be more entertaining....
Kind of ironic that these very expensive Aussie made boots fell apart in China.  This forced us to go to the one of the knockoff markets near the Science & Technology Museum metro station the next day, where MDR bought a pair of "Clarks" and I bought a handbag. 
We made a narrow escape from the touts there, the worst we've ever experienced.
Visited the Science & Technology Museum which is housed in a fantastic glass building, the displays were fairly underwhelming though.

Shanghai Public Transport

Probably the best Metro in the world in Shanghai.  Extensive, very cheap, clean, safe and very frequent trains - every 2 or 3 minutes.
Have to admit feeling a bit daunted but after a few days of wild taxi rides and sitting in traffic jams, bit the bullet and googled the Shanghai Metro, found a webpage that explained in English the 1 day and 3 day passes but for longer trips the Shanghai Public Transportation Card is recommended as it works on all public transport and taxis. 
Found an information desk at LongYang station (Line 2), showed the girl there the iPad with the webpage photos of the SPTC and she barked LINE 7!  
Found another information desk at Line 7 and again showed the iPad with webpage open.  Too easy, paid 20Y each and charged up the cards with a couple of 100Y and we were good to go.  
Also downloaded a Shanghai Metro app to the iPad which was invaluable.  The printed metro maps at stations are very small and hard to read.  The app was clear and easy to use and tremendous with trip planning.
The Metro stations all have place names in English and once inside the trains station names are displayed and announced in Mandarin & English.
Awesome that one can use these cards in Taxis as well - Seamless!

Shanghai, Nanjing Rd

Day 3 in Shanghai - Heading up Nanjing Road from the Bund.  Guessing the Apple store is legit...
Part of Nanjing Road is closed to traffic, lots of interesting shops along here and not overly crowded. 
Walked up to Peoples Square and visited the Shanghai Musueum (free entry), well worth a visit. We saw some fascinating Chinese artefacts on display and also stumbled on a visiting exhibition from the Moscow Kremlin Museum, works of Carl Faberge no less.  This was a stunning display which included four intricate eggs, amongst other treasures, one egg celebrated the opening of the Trans-Siberian Express with a solid gold miniature wind up train inside the egg.
Got into trouble taking photos of the Faberge collection!  Photo here shows a gold spectacle case with tiny portraits of the Tsar's children.  Unfortunately the photo doesn't do it justice.

The Bund

Wow, first day in Shanghai dawned cool and clear, perfect for a promenade on the iconic Bund.  Not ready to tackle the Metro so caught a taxi from Citidines.  Had an idea to get a ferry from the Pudong side across to the Bund on the Puxi side so asked the concierge at Citidines to write down the name and address of the Pudong ferry terminal.
Must have lost something in translation as the taxi took us across the water on the bridge with a huge corkscrew exit and straight the Bund.

It was a beautiful day so did lots of walking and exploring this beautiful area.  Stumbled on an area that was teeming with brides & grooms being photographed. Had our first roast duck meal at a Chinese restaurant on the Bund, the first of many excellent meals.

Discovered the amazing Fairmont Peace Hotel later, a truly lovely art deco gem built by a Sassoon in the 1930's.   Coffee at Victor's Deli in the Peace Hotel went very well with the great ambience.

Biyun, Shanghai

After a relatively easy flight, nice exit row seats on a newish aircraft and a quick transit through immigration at the massive Shanghai Pudong airport the first port of call in Shanghai was the Citidines in Biyun.  MB had visions of Shanghai being crowded and awful like Mongkok in Hong Kong (was quite wrong in this regard).  Tripadvisor reviews for the Citidines were good, and the rates were pretty good.  It appeared to be close to LongYang Metro Station where the airport Maglev train terminated, however it was a lot further than it looked on the map.
The Maglev from Shanghai Pudong airport is amazing, turns a 40min taxi trip into a superfast 8 minutes, very smooth and quiet with no real sensation of speed, especially at night.
The Maglev was very easy to access from the China Eastern airlines terminal, just a short walk to reach it.  Maximum speed of the Maglev is displayed in the carriages, ours reached 301klm.
Had to get a taxi from LongYang Metro station to Citidines, showed the driver the printout from the hotel with the address and map in mandarin. The driver got to the right street but the Citidines was nowhere in sight, he was jabbering away in mandarin of course....  Had to call the Citidines with the China Mobile SIM just purchased at the airport and get the receptionist to give directions to the driver, turns out the taxi was only about 200m from the Citidines.
After an 8 hour flight it was good to go for a walk and get a bite to eat and some supplies at Carrefour, a massive supermarket - could barely see from one end to the other it was so huge.
The room there was quite good, more of a serviced apartment with a little kitchen.  Great wifi in the room, enough even for MDR to have a Skype teleconference back to OZ one morning.
The neighbourhood seems to be pretty cosmopolitan, spotted some international schools and lots of foreign restaurants, Costa Coffee, Bollywood Indian restaurant, Japanese sushi places, steakhouses etc. and a Carrefour and Decathlon nearby.
Also a nice park and canal area across the road from the Citidines.


Winning a trip to Shanghai from a promotion by Cairns Airport on direct flight on China Eastern from CNS to Shanghai Pudong (PVG) in October was quite mind blowing!
MDR & MB scrambled to set travel dates in the small window of travel dates supplied by Cairns Airport.  Once dates were settled visas were obtained by sending passports to China Consulate in Brisbane.  Then it was research, research, research.
Neither MDR nor MB speak mandarin however the internet came to the rescue. 
Tripadvisor in particular is fantastic for finding accommodation and also for checking out restaurants and tourist attractions.
Many reviews noted that wifi wasn't always available in hotel rooms (as opposed to their lobbys) and many recommended one take a travellers wifi router that could be plugged into an ethernet port in the hotel room.
Luckily Jaycar in Cairns had just got some of these in so was able to get this locally for under $30.  This unit does need power via USB which can be limiting so made sure to take a USB extension cable to plug it into the iPad USB charger in a powerpoint.
The decision to take an iPad also turned out to be a lifesaver, bought a local SIM card, China Unicom 3G with 500mb of data, from a China Mobile shop in downtown Shanghai for around 130RMB.  The guy cut the SIM card to size and installed it in the iPad, with nice fast internet working in seconds.
MDR took his iPhone but the local China Mobile SIM didn't work in it.  A search on Google revealed that iPhones with IOS 5 or later won't work with China Mobile SIM.  We had a spare Nokia so used that instead.  China Mobile prepaid SIMs are very cheap and easy to buy at the airport on arrival, no ID needed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Seriously Good Advice

The lyrics to Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen, by Mary Schmich:
Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lamb Souvlaki Par Excellence

MB & MDR enjoyed a super lamb souvlaki in New Norfolk at "Number 10 on High Street", a cafe opened last July by Majella who hails from the Darling Downs in Southern Queensland.  The souvlaki was very generous in size, hot and packed with succulent lamb, a real winner.

Island Markets

Dropped into Island Markets this afternoon on the way back into Hobart from New Norfolk.  MB was lured there by the invitation on their website to "Come and see olive oil being produced at Island Markets."  The pair walked around the ragtag building looking for the olive press, eventually asking a shop assistant in the food shop where it was, she didn't know and neither did her colleague, she directed us to the foodstore manager who offered to ask the complex manager.  We followed at a distance and complex manager who looked like the lovechild of Telly Savales told foodstore manager he didn't have the key and "just tell them it's closed".  Foodstore manager came to tell us but we'd heard it all.  Couldn't get out of there fast enough!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Morello Cherries

Finally got to taste fresh Morello cherries from a pick your own orchard in Plenty, north west of Hobart. Quite tart in taste and a lovely change from "regular" cherries


The pair hosted MDR's niece, Poochie, and her mum last week as Poochie has enrolled in a BA degree at the University of Tasmania.  Poochie will be living on campus at Jane Franklin Hall and after a tour of Poochie's digs MB is thinking of enrolling too!
The Hall is located in a very ritzy part of Sandy Bay with sweeping views of Hobart and the harbour, surrounded by gorgeous Georgian sandstone mansions, well done Poochie.


The duo are loving their accommodation at Werndee, just north of Hobart CBD. The property has an orchard groaning with stonefruit, berries, figs etc and guests are welcome to enjoy the bounty. Pictured above are greengages, a type of plum, very sweet & delicious straight off the tree.
The property has a federation mansion which was built by the first premier of Tasmania, plus two cottages and a block of 4 very well appointed holiday units.
The hosts, Jan & Robyn, are hospitality heroes, never has MB felt so welcome.

Wooden Boat Festival Hobart

MDR had a ball at the biennial WBF in Hobart on Regatta Day weekend 11-14 Feb 2011.  MB was a little ambivalent about this festival but it was free and nicely located on the docks at Hobart which is an easy stroll from the city.  The festival turned out to be wonderful, with contigents from Indonesia and Japan, great music, nice food options, boat building classes for children and lots of other great kids' activities and last but not least loads of old and new beautiful wooden boats of all shapes & sizes.
The Indonesians were selling fantastic chicken sate and the Japanese from Yaizu (sister city to Hobart) were doing demonstrations of handmade soba using Tassie buckwheat, okonomiyake, tea ceremony etc. and MB was able to sample all.  While MB was taking a photo of a buckwheat plant she looked closely at the guy standing next to it and it turned out to be Tetsuya, he was at the Festival giving cooking demonstrations as well.
The festival really had something for everyone and must be one of Australia's premier events, MB ended up spending two days there, MDR did all 4 days as he was also helping a mate who had a trade display there.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fruit Wine Festival

Luckily MDR heard this show being spruiked on the local ABC radio on Saturday.  The Sorrell Branch of the Rotary Club put on a great event at the very pretty Bellerive waterfront.  For $9.50 you could sample as much fruit wine as you could drink.  There were over 110 varieties including banana and coffee liqueurs from Mt Uncle Distillery near Cairns.  The sun was shining and the music was good, a band doing great Sinatra covers. PTA loved June Allsop's number 61, banana liqueur declaring it tasted just like banana fritter, which it surprisingly did.  MDR loved number 97, Wayne Hewett's strawberry liqueur, the colour, fragrance & taste were out of this world.
Picture above is the rear end of an old ferry which is jutting out of the side of a nearby waterfront bar.

Hobart Farmers' Market

A great haul was had this morning from the one of the best farmers' markets in Tassie.  The team are eating very well indeed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tasvegas Vacation - Day 1

After an epic journey to Hobart yesterday the team arrived at their digs in Sandy Bay around 9:45pm. 
MDR & MB had a 5 hour stopover in Melb so they went to the Qantas Club only to find that MDR's membership had lapsed, the gatekeeper however took pity on him and allowed the pair in "this time". MDR then sashayed his way into the Business Class section of the lounge, with MB in tow, where it was much quieter and offered a much nicer range of snacks & meals, a very nice spot to while away an afternoon.  First born son PTA & partner, EMI, were in Melbourne already and met the oldies at the airport. After the skybus left they realised Emi's new Lumix G2 camera was still on the bus so after some frenzied phone calls they were very lucky to have the camera located and returned to them within a few heartstopping minutes of boarding the flight to Hobart.
The team hit the ground running this morning with a walk through Salamanca markets, MB loved the buskers doing duelling banjoes, the gypsy lamb rolls and stocked up on a $6 bag of cherries (1kg) plus some apricots and apples and some berry cheesecake. PTA & EMI cut loose and did some shopping in the city to pick up some warmer clothes. 
The afternoon itinerary was a trip to the famous block in New Norfolk, first time MB has seen it, photo above was taken at the bottom near the Lachlan River back up to the top of block which is roughly 90 meters away. 
Great weather today, warm and sunny and about 25c in New Norfolk, did the tiki tour of the town and the Derwent River parklands and had a beer at the Bush Park Hotel.  MB managed to spray the interior of the rental Hyundai with soda water, to the amusement of some and consternation of MDR.
Did a detour into Stefano Lubiana winery on the way back to Hobart but they're only open 11am - 3pm which was a bit of a disappointment.
Veal with mushrooms & cream sauce tonight with some local bintje potatoes following by the most fragrant strawberries MB amazingly found at the nearby Woolies of all places.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Flash of the Titan

Great excitement at Flecker Botanic Gardens in Cairns this week with the flowers of two of their Titan Arums about to burst forth.  The duo dropped in yesterday to check on progress, alas no flowering yet.  
The FBG have installed a time lapse camera to catch the flowering, which they promise to post online for those who miss this momentous event.  MB did ask about a webcam but was told by the nice FBG chappie that the Cairns Regional Council IT boffins claimed it would take at least a month to install one.

It's mine! No it's mine!

MDR snapped these great pics of our neighbourhood Kookaburras squabbling over a canetoad. One sneaky kookaburra tried to snatch the canetoad from his mate and at one stage was tenuously suspended by his beak which in turn was clamped onto the canetoad.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Telstra Rant

MB is off to a great start in this new decade. First call of the year is to Telstra for her elderly Father-in-Law (FIL) who is 81 years young, he has a Telstra mobile phone for emergencies. He isn't confident using it but is fine to receive calls on it.

When trying to call FIL on the mobile (due to his Telstra landline service being out of order) the calls kept diverting to the message bank before he could get to the phone. This causes him major stress as he doesn't understand how to use the message bank and can't get his head around SMS messages. MB thought this is easily fixed, just cancel all diverts which she successfully did for him.

However when one cancels all call diverts MB discovers that Telstra unilaterally diverts after 3 rings or less than 10 seconds, the unanswered call to a Message to Text Service. Again FIL can't make it to the phone in this time to answer the call before it diverts, making him very frustrated and angry. MB checked online at the Whirlpool forum and found the code you can use which delays diversion of unanswered calls by up to 30 seconds and has successfully done this.

MB tested this and still finds FIL isn't always able to catch the call before it diverts causing even more anxiety & stress for FIL.

MB also discovered on Whirlpool that one can request Telstra deactivate the message to text service however one has to call Telstra to have this done.  MB calls 125111 and gets Amber in Manilla, after a very long, confusing, convoluted and difficult to understand conversation with all of the loud background noise of her colleagues' in the call centre Amber finally seems to understand what is required and puts MB on hold.  After about 15mins the call dropped out. The entire call took 40 minutes.

MB does a test call to the mobile and finds that Amber has switched on all of the diverts and reactivated the Message Bank! MB promptly turns off all diverts again and tries calling Telstra Countrywide and managed to get onto Rick in Melbourne - but only after some backwards and forwards with the irritating voice robot thing. He understood exactly what MB asked and confirmed he would cancel the message to text immediately.

After 2 hours MB does another test call and finds the Message to Text is still activated.
MB is on Vodafone and and has probably racked up about $20 in mobile calls to FIL's Telstra mobile phone testing the call diversions.  BTW don't ask MB about Vodafone! They have been causing MDR some major grief as well...  Luckily Adam Brimo is sorting Vodafone out, see http://www.vodafail.com

This only reinforces MB's refusual to use Telstra for voice services anymore as every contact she has with them takes at least one hour, and more often than not many more hours of her life and it's just not worth it.

It's very hard for her to let the buggers get away with this so she will take this further and to the TIO if necessary.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Toymaster to the Rescue

MB has been on a mission to find a toy rubbish truck for her favourite grandson, LJ, who is totally obsessed with all garbage collection machinery.  
She's visited all of the toy shops in Cairns, plus the usual department stores, to no avail.  Amazingly enough an online search turned up Toymaster which is actually based in Cairns.  
Better still she can buy a Playmobil rubbish truck.  MB has fond memories of her own children enjoying their Playmobil toys, in fact the grandchildren are still playing with the same toys which are now nearly 30 years old.
MB also found on Google a Playmobil Airport Security Checkpoint set, quite hilarious what the toy boffins can come up with.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Open Garden - Kuranda Palms

Thanks to Mike Moore over at Cairnsblog MB & MDR were able to visit a gorgeous open garden in the Kuranda rain-forest today.  The owners of this 100 acre property, David & Graham, have carved out a 3 acre garden filled with spectacular palms, cycads, heliconias, gingers and bromeliads surrounded by rainforest with not only a creek but a waterfall as well.   
It was wonderful of David & Graham to share their little paradise with the great unwashed.

Tastes of the Tablelands

MB was excited to learn of the Tastes of the Tablelands fair held in Atherton last Sunday.  This is the second time it's been held and looks to be an event that is growing in popularity.  
MDR & MB arrived just after opening time to find quite a queue at the entrance.  MB made a beeline for the Farmers Market tent to try and snap up some fresh tablelands produce and wasn't able to even get inside, it was jam packed.  Hopefully next year the Farmers Market will be extended as it was far too crowded to be in one tent.
The fair has something for everyone.
Some very cute goats at the Goat's Milk Soap stand.  
MDR sampled a Buffalo Pie which was very good, nice & meaty, just how a pie should be.  
The Marroo grapes which are grown locally were fantastic and the OzChoice dried rambutans were amazing, the fruit is dried with the seed which then tastes like a nut.  Normally one tosses the seed away when rambutans are eaten fresh.
There was even a collection of vintage cars & motorbikes for the more mechanically minded enthusiasts.
The fair is held in the grounds of the old Chinese Temple and is a delightful area, lovely and green and right next to the platypus park where an old locomotive is also located, so it's a great spot to take the kids to.
The Atherton Tablelands has the potential to be a real foodie paradise and this event is a very promising sign that things are moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Swedish Perry

Found a delightful tipple at the First Choice liquor store in Cairns last week.  First time MB has ever found Pear Cider on sale in Australia.  
It's a very nice drop called Rekorderlig, highly recommended.