Tuesday, December 23, 2008


MB is puzzled by the popularity on her Flickr site of a rather obscure photo of a pavement tile she spotted in Tokyo illustrated with a Panda Bear.  This photo was uploaded in May 2005 and is now the most viewed photo her Flickr site, just trumping her photo of Norm's Coolie Dogs taken in Tanunda, South Australia.
MB finds that collecting photos of things she loves, ie Panda Bears, is much easier than cluttering up her life with panda toys and other panda ephemera. 
One would be hard pressed to predict the popularity of these photos.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Mike Silverman, aka That1Guy, was in town last week and did a show at the Tanks last Friday night.  MDR spotted a newspaper article about the show and remembered seeing this guy on Spicks & Specks.
Mike is a one man band, a classically trained bassist who has developed a home made pipe and string instrument/synthesiser, shaped a bit like a harp, he calls it his magic pipe.
The Tanks is as the name suggests, an old water storage tank, converted to a very funky venue, only downside is there is no air conditioning, so That1Guy performed in what must have been 30c and 95% humidity.  He put on an amazing, energetic and intriguing show, his music covers the whole spectrum from classical to techno, using his magic pipe as well as a cowboy boot, and a carpenters saw (both of these were plugged into the amplifier by the way). 
A really good show, amazing music and the lyrics of some of the stuff he has written are crazy, reminiscent of Frank Zappa.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

DVD Rulz

Flicking through today's Weekend Australian Magazine MB was struck by the many advertisements for DVDs, 9 large adverts in total, compared to 4 adverts for books. She then read in the The Australian Review that Aussies are bigger consumers of DVDs than Americans & Brits (Michael Bodey "DVD Letterbox"). MB thinks she knows at least one of the major reasons why this is so, both free to air and pay TV push so many damn ads on us the viewing public that we now prefer to watch our favourite series on DVD.
I noticed on free to air TV in the UK that ads were infrequent and limited to 2 or perhaps 3 ads per ad break, I found out the reason for this some time later when I was looking at the BBC website, TV licensing. Every TV in the UK must be licensed with the annual cost per TV being £139.50 per annum. This funds the great tv programming being produced in the UK.
There is also some wonderful TV being produced in Australia, albeit on a much smaller scale, mostly by the ABC. I notice Channel Nine's latest local offering is "The Waiting Room" a reality series made in a hospital waiting room. The think tank must've been working overtime to dream that one up. To give them credit though they did produce Underbelly which was sensational, all the better too as a lot of unknown talent starred, giving the series a really fresh appeal. Due to the aforementioned advertising down your throat issue, the MB family only watched Underbelly on DVD and is looking forward to the next series - on DVD of course!
Even good ol' SBS is running advertising during programs which is such a dreadful shame. It won't be long before someone puts a subscription only ad-free channel on air, MB for one would happily pay a couple of bucks a week for the privilege of not having to endure inane advertising during her TV viewing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

£1,000,000 Prize for 100% Chemical Free Material

Some very frustrated boffins at the Royal Society of Chemistry have become incensed that the word "chemical" now more or less means "poisonous", and have offered one million pounds to "the first member of the public who can place in the hands of the director of the RSC any material considered 100% chemical free".

Red Pen Detrimental to Mental Health

Queensland teachers are being advised not to use red pen to mark students' work as it may affect their mental health.
Apparently red "can be seen as aggressive". See the full article at http://tinyurl.com/5byzpb
Might be time to get into Bubblewrap Futures it will no doubt become a growth industry!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Asper Park Open Garden, 30 November 2008

One couldn't find nicer and more convivial hosts than Viv & Susan Stephens, pioneers of bamboo shoot farming on the Atherton Tablelands who opened up their property to the public yesterday under the banner of the excellent Australian Open Garden scheme.
Asper Park is little gem of an acreage just outside of Atherton on the Ravenshoe road which the Stephens have converted from bare farming land to an oasis of European style gardens with an adjoining bamboo grove.
The farm is named for the variety of Indonesian Bamboo the Stephens are growing for it's shoots, Dendrocalamus Asper, a large clumping variety that grows to 30m tall.
A group of about 20 visitors from all sorts of backgrounds, farmers, retirees and urban types with dreams of farmlets, turned up at 9:30am on an overcast and humid Sunday morning for a 2 hour tour of the property and learnt just about everything there is to know about cultivating and harvesting bamboo shoots.
The Stephens are passionate about bamboo and were unstintingly generous in sharing their extensive knowledge and experience of bamboo farming since 2000 when they first planted their bamboo culms.
Not only is the bamboo grove an incoming producing farm, it is incredibly peaceful with a stillness and serenity that feels other worldly, it would be a wonderful place for contemplation and meditation.
Viv & Susan's gamble to grow a food crop that is barely known in Australia has been spectacularly successful with all of their bamboo shoots pre-sold to mostly Asian restaurants in Sydney. Viv explained the myriad other uses for bamboo which have not taken off in Australia; pulping of bamboo cane for fibre which can be used for flooring, fabric and paper, activated charcoal products - bamboo produces very high quality carbon and the obvious other bamboo appications fencing, screening and furniture making. Amazingly enough this is only scratching the surface as the uses for bamboo in Asia are even more surprising; bamboo is trained and grown into specific shapes to make musical instruments, such as saxophones and horns, as well as the better known flutes. MB saw for sale in China bamboo sleeping mats which were made of very small bamboo "tiles" woven together. Didn't look very comfortable but millions of Chinese can't be wrong!
MDR has been looking for some bamboo poles for some time to build a fence and Viv was kind enough to offer him some bamboo poles when the next thinning is done in about a month's time.
MDR & MB did also get to taste fresh bamboo shoot, and some of Susan's pickled bamboo shoot, which is very popular with corned beef at Olivera's deli in Innisfail. The fresh shoot was very refreshing and juicy with a slight nutty flavour, would be absolutely delicious in a stir-fry dish. Alas the shoots are only just coming into season, perhaps later in the month MB can get her hands on some fresh shoots to experiment with at home.

Leapin' Leeches

A hot summer's day on the Atherton Tablelands wouldn't be complete without a waterfall visit.
After visiting Asper Park MDR & MB went for a dip at Elinjaa Falls near Millaa Millaa which has a beautiful deep rockpool at it's base, just the ticket for a hot and humid day.
MB was trying to photograph some gorgeous irredescent blue dragonflies (unsuccessfully!) on the creek and noticed when she got back to the shore that a leech had attached itself to her arm, the ruddy thing was sucking her blood.
With some difficulty she pulled the little critter off then horrified some tourists that had just arrived at the falls with her leech story. The poor tourists looked a bit nervous about staying there when they realised there were leeches lurking!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bamboo Extravaganza

A pioneering farming couple on the Atherton Tablelands are opening their gates tomorrow to the public via the Open Garden Scheme.
The farm is called Asper Park and their speciality is Bamboo, both ornamental and edible.
Who could resist a visit after reading the blurb from ABC Far North
"Sample delicious bamboo shoots in marinade and learn the secrets of bamboo production.
Picturesque Asper Park is a working farm with over 20 varieties of bamboo including many rare and unusual varieties. The bamboo grove appears like an ethereal living sculpture: wind whispers through skyward-shooting stems; peeling sheaths balance delicately. An avenue of jacarandas leads into the garden, which features shady mature English oaks, plane trees and a palm grove. Shingle-roofed summer houses and weathered pine dwellings evoke a European air..."
MDR & MB are booked in the for 9:30am tour and are looking forward to a sensory overload and tasting some freshly harvested bamboo shoots.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Red Sky at Night, Sailor's Delight

Phew... the MB family is frying in FNQ, 37C in Cairns yesterday (heat index of 41C). Lots of extreme weather events all over our vast continent, with a very unseasonal cold snap in southern Australia, it actually snowed in the Blue Mountains and at Thredbo yesterday.
It's also quite dry in FNQ, but there are flooding rains falling in the south-east of Queensland, it's normally the other way around at this time of year!
MB snapped last night's sunset in Cairns, the colour of the sky at dusk was a sight to behold.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eggs on Steroids

MDR is back from his 12 day whistle stop tour of USA & Nova Scotia (via Japan) and was up bright and early this morning, showing very little sign of jet lag, so off he went to Rustys. Yamagishi eggs are always on the list and MDR loves the Super Jumbo eggs (around $5.00 per dozen), the Japanese guy on the Yamagishi stand even greeted MDR with "Gidday Mate" today, his English is improving no end. The super jumbos often have double yolks (luckily neither MDR nor MB have problems with cholesterol) which is always a delight when one cracks open the egg to find it's a double yolker, for some reason it feels lucky. One egg in particular in today's purchase weighed in at 120grams. MB had picked up some Extra Large Yamagishi eggs (around $4.50 a dozen) during the week so compared one with today's, the XL was about 70grams. As you can see in the picture, the Super Jumbo dwarfs the XL egg.

Friday, November 14, 2008


MB couldn't resist posting this pic of first born son and girlfriend Mami taken at a Halloween party on 1st November. FBS hired a white suit and wig and managed to look quite grotesque. Mami did an amazing job with the face paint. Of course the white suit got black face paint on it, however it was water soluble but to be on the safe side FBS took the suit to a local dry cleaners (5 Star Cleaners), who managed to get the face paint out but stained the suit all over with something else. FBS took it back to the costume hire who rejected it, so it was back to the dry cleaners.
FBS mentioned that when he went back the counter staff were drinking cans of premixed Bundy & Cokes, even had a six pack on the counter, sort of gives one an idea of the calibre of these cleaners.
MB became involved when FBS was working and couldn't pick up the suit in order to drop it back to the costume hire, so she dropped in and picked up the suit after it's 2nd clean.
The cleaning was a disaster so MB decided to consult with another cleaners, Alsco, and discovered the most wonderful cleaner, Ray. Ray has cleaned for over 40 years, mostly in London. He took one look at the suit and explained that it had been cleaned in dirty spirit. Ray said to give him two days and he'd have it like new.
A mere 6 hours later he called MB and advised the suit was ready! Sure enough it was spotlessly clean and Ray had even starched it. Amazingly Ray refused to charge for the clean, saying that FBS has been cheated.
Due to Ray's professionalism and generosity a very negative experience had a wonderful outcome.
How many Rays does one encounter? He is a true gentleman.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Taming of the Trivia Queen

MB has enjoyed victory in past trivia games with family and friends and was emboldened enough last night to call Tony Delroy's late night radio quiz show on ABC radio. She often listens to this program and finds many of the questions pretty easy. MB has tried calling before but was never able to get through, last night though she got through on the second attempt.
This particular quiz has 25 questions and contestants drop out once they make a wrong answer. MB listened in as quite a few contestants succeeded then failed, she had no idea when her turn would come up.
At about question 12 the going got tough when Tony Delroy asked what title of a Shakespeare play included an animal in it. MB never studied Shakespeare and was hoping against hope she wouldn't have to try to answer this as similar literarily challenged contestants were dropping like flies. MB could only think of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Romeo & Juliet", "Macbeth" and "Hamlet". Sure enough MB's turn came up, MDR heard MB talking on the phone and he was wondering who the hell she was talking to so late at night. Needless to say MB's attempt at radio quiz glory fell apart before it even got off the ground!

MDR tuned in as well and he couldn't think of the answer either. Finally a couple of contestants later, the correct answer was proffered, "Taming of the Shrew". MB had always thought a shrew was some sort of medieval harridan.
The next day MB told first born daughter of her previous nights travails on late night radio and FBD, obviously the better educated one, immediately came up with this answer "Isn't that the play with 'shrew' in the title?"

Monday, October 06, 2008

Iron Horse

Check out little LJ on his "new old" rocking horse. This isn't just any old rocking horse, it's an industrial strength rocker made from scrap metal and car parts lovingly put together by a friend of MB's dear friend, SG. This rocking horse has been entertaining kids for the past 20 years and is still going strong. It's a unique item and sure to be going strong for at least another 20 years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Road Trip - Day Four: Charters Towers to Cairns

Last day of the road trip was a relatively short hop, approximately 5 hours from the "Towers" to Cairns.
The trio even slept-in a little, departing at around 9am and taking the road more travelled, heading to Townsville and Highway One (Bruce Highway) on the coast. The increase in traffic was enormous, finally saw police for the first time in Queensland on the Bruce Highway, so had to stick to the speed limits, unlike the inland route.
The trio stopped at Muddys Restaurant in Cardwell as Mami was keen to sample their Chili Crab, however with the listed price as "POA" she changed her mind, just took a photo of the giant crab instead.
Arrived in Cairns at 2:45pm and little Eljay was asleep so wasn't at Granny's house the greet the weary trio who were hanging out to see him! MDR though had a very welcome roast leg of lamb on the Weber, and served up a fantastic dinner by 6pm to the hungry hordes.

Road Trip - Day Three: Charleville to Charters Towers

Another long day, 8am departure from Charleville to Roma, Mitchell and up the inland route to Emerald, Clermont then Charters Towers.
As on previous days MB and FBS did shifts at the wheel. Mami suffers from motion sickness and slept for much of the trip, popping Kwells every few hours.
Lots of triple decker road trains on the inland roads and with the mining boom in central western Queensland there are also many trucks carrying huge loads of mining machinery. In Mitchell both sides of the road were blocked by a truck coming through carrying part of an enormous mining dump truck.
Picture show FBS in the main street of Mitchell which even has a windmill. The main street of Mitchell is also lined with very picturesque baobab trees.
Car parking in Mitchell was reverse 45 degree, funny how every town has a different rules on parking.
The final leg of the day was pretty punishing, Clermont to Charters Towers on the Gregory Developmental Road which is close to 400klm. There is one outpost roughly in the middle called Belyando Crossing, which consists of one roadhouse. The trio pulled in to fuel up and were welcomed by a large bonfire in a 44gal drum just near the petrol bowsers, with one patron dressed in an akubra and drizabone lighting up his cigarette next the "no smoking" sign. The Gregory is a surprisingly good road, however one has to be wary of the road trains, with one 20klm section of the road single lane only.
After traversing a very large section of Queensland, the exhausted trio arrived at Charters Towers at 9:45pm and stayed in a very comfortable cabin at one of the local caravan parks. Dinner was cold roast chicken on french stick picked up in Emerald.

Road Trip - Second Leg: Broken Hill to Charleville

Day two was very long, 8am departure from Broken Hill, driving across north-west NSW through Willcannia, Cobar and Bourke and across the Qld border to Cunnamulla and rolling into Charleville at 9pm.
The lowlight of the day was Willcannia, a small outpost that feels very lonely and neglected, stopped there for the most expensive petrol of the entire trip. The town's only claim to fame is that it's located next to the Darling River.
Lunch stop was plannned for Cobar, a reasonably sized town. The trio found the visitor centre which had some nice outdoor picnic tables. MB had bought some rolls, sopressa and rocket to make lunch but as soon as the trio got out of the car the cold biting wind (even though it was sunny) convinced them to change plans and find a cosy cafe for lunch. Gecko Expresso on the main street was very nice.
Luckily the trio saved their lunch supplies as dinner was over when they arrived in Charleville at 9pm.
Overnighted at the overpriced Charleville Mulga Motel, the hosts made sure the trio were up early by ensuring the empty room next door had it's alarm clock going continuously from the early hours.

Road Trip - First Leg: Adelaide to Broken Hill

After 3300 klm, lots of very long, isolated roads and hundreds of litres of unleaded petrol, first born son, girlfriend Mami and MB arrived home safe and well on Sunday afternoon in the trusty ol' Mitsubishi Magna.
Day One the trio left Adelaide on Thursday morning with their first overnight stop at Broken Hill, which is about 5.5 hours drive north-east of Adelaide. MB prebooked the cheapest accommodation she could find on the excellent Broken Hill Visitor Information website, at the Old Vic B&B. Staying there turned out to be the highlight of the trip, the hosts Anne & Paul were marvellous, the rooms were gorgeous, beds even had electric blankets which were a Godsend as it was bitterly cold, dinner that night was two blocks away at the Old Royal Hotel (host's recommendation), for their steak special. The $12 t-bone steaks were massive, juicy and cooked to perfection.
After dinner the trio dropped into the local supermarket to pick up some supplies for the next day. Mami got very excited in the Deli section and it transpired that she had spotted Dixie, a contestant/participant?? in Big Brother. The trio approached Dixie who was very friendly and even allowed us to take a photo of her and Mami together. A little later Mami called her best friend in Adelaide to relay the exciting news, her animated Japanese conversation in the Broken Hill outback shopping mall had a few heads turning...
Broken Hill looks pretty interesting and warrants a longer visit. The city centre is dominated by a huge slag heap on top of which now sits a couple of buildings.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

South Australian Living Artists Festival

Adelaide is currently hosting SALA, a huge exhibition of every conceivable type of art in all sort of venues, including retail shops near first born son's place, which is located at the south-western, and decidedly downmarket, corner of the Unley City Council local area. Unley appears to be a pretty ritzy area and this was soon confirmed when MB decided to visit Robin Eley's exhibition, just off King William Road in Unley. MB used a gps and enroute was taken through Victoria Avenue which is truly a millionaire's row, lovely old mansions surrounded by very well manicured gardens and secure walls.
Robin Eley is an affable, young and very talented illustrator who has trained in the USA and much of his work has featured in very high profile publications there. His work is nearly photographic and his take on his subjects is subtle and surprising at the same time, very entertaining. MB also managed to catch a few other small exhibitions in shops along King William Road, and of course ended up finding a great shoe shop where three pairs of essential shoes were bought.
SALA is a great way to celebrate art and makes it very accessible to anyone who is interested.

Protection Japanese Style

First Born Son and girlfriend have just arrived back from ten days of Club Med Phuket, both are looking very tanned with FBS even sporting a bit of a beard.
The pair met up with GF's family there and MB is waiting for the "meet the parents" stories, so far not many amusing anecdotes happening, probably due to the pair having flown most of the night and arriving 7:30am this morning.
Some gifts have surfaced with GF's Mum sending MB a set of beautiful lacquerware bowls decorated with cherry blossom and a "chop" with her name in Romaji on it. Very thoughtful gifts which MB will truly enjoy using.
GF also had her Mum stock up on some items which she misses from home in Japan. Various medicines and hair products mostly, one item which tickled MB was the personal battery powered mosquito repellent.
MB is very familiar with mozzie zappers which one plugs into a power point at home to keep the mozzies at bay, however the Japanese have gone one step better and produced a portable version which the manufacturers recommend one straps onto a limb, or around one's neck, or even over the fly of one's trousers (see picture).
When FBS first saw a Japanese tourist in Phuket wearing one on his lower leg he thought it was an ankle cooling fan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Best Friend

MB's new best friend, "Love". Shown here staring MB down while she's using the laptop. MB is sure Love's pining for her doting "Mum & Dad" and wanting to check the email to see if they've written to her from Thailand, but so far not a word. MB is agonising over how she is going to break this devastating news to Love.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers' Market

The inclement Adelaide weather certainly doesn't deter the local fine food hunters at the weekly Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers' Market, held every Sunday morning. The stalls were doing great business and the beautiful fresh produce was selling like hotcakes. Grazing was the order of the day with MB snacking on samples such as Bierwurst from Hahndorf, organic Murray Bridge yoghurt, Barossa cheese and Lacewood Spicy Plum Sauce from McLaren Flat.

Unique Art in the Burbs

MB spotted this quirky mobile phone "installation" in someone's front garden just near last born son's place in the inner city suburb of Everard Park.
MB has done some exploring of the neighbourhood and when returning some DVD's to the very nearby video library was struck by the beautiful old art deco building in which it is housed, turns out it was once the Roxy Theatre.
Things have gone downhill a bit since then though, as this corner is now home to an adult bookshop, a photography shop with an exterior sound speaker playing scratchy music, which is more or less drowned out by the six lanes of continuous traffic thundering past on the Anzac Highway. There is also a travel agency that operates "by appointment only" and a pine furuniture shop.
Luckily the Adelaide Farmers' Markets operates on Sundays at the nearby showgrounds, so MB was able to walk up there this morning to pick up some essential supplies, such as goat's milk feta and dried muscatels.

Winter Frolics

MB took the tram into town on Saturday for some shopping therapy which included Haigh's and Adelaide Booksellers, an excellent second hand bookshop.
Above is a photo of the Victoria Square tramstop, with commuters huddling under the shelter out of the freezing wind and rain. This is the stop closest to the Adelaide Central Markets where MB stocked up on some fresh provisions.
By the time MB got home her volleys and jeans were pretty much soaked. MDR's Helly Hansen spray jacket has turned out to be wonderful, kept her warm and mostly dry.
The weather is still a novelty for MB, so no complaints whatsoever will be voiced here!

An Adelaide Institution

Haigh's Chocolates at the entrance to the wonderful Victorian Adelaide Arcade off Rundle Mall in Adelaide city.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Flynn's - Yungaburra Food Hero

MDR & MB unearthed a rare gem at Yungaburra on Friday night. For their first night at Tinaroo they decided on dinner at Flynn's, a charming little restaurant that serves very good classic dishes with great service.
The duo shared an entree of duck liver & cognac pate which turned out to be quite a large portion with lovely fresh ciabatta, also made on the premises. The pate was sublime and the pair quickly scoffed the lot, MDR was practically licking the bowl he was so enthused with it.
For main course both went for the duck confit and were not disappointed, the duck meat was so flavoursome and tender. The duck was served with some fresh, lightly cooked cabbage and some sliced potato, the duo were pleasantly surprised that a bowl of lightly dressed fresh salad leaves was also included.
To prolong the pleasure even more MDR had a slice of chocolate torte which more or less had pure chocolate oozing out of it's centre. MB opted for the creme caramel, another classic that was very enjoyable.
The service was efficient, unfussed and very affable and the restaurant, while quite compact, has great ambience. Can't wait to return for more.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Tinaroo Raid

The Wooden Boat Club of Cairns organised a gala event for Queen's Birthday weekend at Lake Tinaroo, dubbed the Tinaroo Raid. It's really an excuse for builders, collectors and restorers of traditional wooden boats to compare their prized wooden boats. The club organised an excellent curry night on Saturday in the marquee by the Lake. Sunday was the important day with a tongue-in-cheek competition which centered around a pirate boat throwing coloured ping pong balls into the water which contestants then had to retrieve and throw into a basket suspended between the two masts on the pirate's boat. MDR was in his little dingy acting as safety officer and actually rescued someone from a capsized dinghy.
There was also a peoples choice award for the best boat and a dragon boat demonstration. The dragon boats were actually Crocodile Boats as featured in the accompanying picture. The croc boats scooped the pool, winning both the pirate competition and the peoples choice award. The work and skill that went into these boats was amazing, really spectacular and very deserving of their popularity.

The Dinghy

MDR's dinghy finally gets a workout! Here he is launching it at Lake Tinaroo, ably assisted by John Breen (born in Gordonvale of Dutch parents).

Tinaroo Lakes Resort

MDR & MB really lucked out with accommodation for their weekend jaunt to the Tinaroo Raid, ended up in a huge townhouse on the waterfront. The townhouse was superb with 3 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, fake log fire heater and all the modcons you could ask for, including 3 televisions. The view was a delight, this photo taken from the front deck. The BBQ by the way is a council installation however it looks as if it's part of the resort, it's very nicely designed and very handy to the folks staying at the resort.
The only downside of the stay there was the reptile incident. On Saturday, after a drive to Herberton MDR & MB returned to the townhouse and encountered a baby black snack inside, a few metres from the front door which has a large gap at the base. MDR managed to rustle up the little blighter with a beach towel and relocate it outside. MB was very cautious after that just in case any of the baby snake's siblings were also thinking of visiting!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Welcome Winter

The MB family celebrated the first day of winter with a visit to the Flecker Botanic Gardens.  A nice lunch was had at the cafe then it was a stroll through the gardens to see what was in flower. 
The most spectacular flowering plant at the moment has to be the Jade Vine, it has masses of weeping tendrils with the most unusually coloured flowers, photo below.

Jade Vine

Currently putting on a glorious show at Flecker Botanic Gardens, Cairns.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Warm Tinny

Those creative ratbags in the ad agencies have been at it again and produced an hilarious advertisement for Campbells soup.  MDR keeps telling MB about it but she keeps missing it on TV, luckily though it's on Youtube.  A great send up of Aussie beer ads.  Speaking of advertising the MB family are also enjoying Wil Anderson's new program on the ABC "The Gruen Transfer", this is another great vehicle for Wil Anderson and uniquely entertaining.


Remember when the "wireless" was the big chunky radio with the scratchy sound? The MB household was propelled into the new wireless age today with the help of neighbouring MENSA member, CC, who installed a new Linksys Wireless-G ADSL2 802.11g Gateway. CC very patiently explained all of the marvelous security features and has set up the wireless network to accept only computers that are registered at the gateway device. CC also made the wireless network invisible to all other computers as well as encrypting the wireless signal. All in all MB is very impressed with this new device and is thoroughly enjoying the extra internet speed or as Linksys put it, "blazing fast connection", as well as the portability offered by the wireless network.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Government Charges Rant

MB hasn't renewed her passport for some time and recalls that the fee when she did so in 2004 was around AUD$100.00 for a passport with a validity of 10 years.
Just heard from PTA who renewed his today that the current fee for a basic 32 page passport with 10 year's validity is now $200.00 and as he'd mislaid his old one, which was about to expire, there was another fee of $66.00. Jeez Louise, that's a huge slug. What with income tax, GST, stamp duty, land rates, exorbitant parity pricing fuel excise and alcohol excise to name a few we must be shelling out at least two-thirds our income to the bloated ranks of fat cats in the City Councils, State and Federal Governments.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kevin Rudd's Love Child?

Whilst browsing through a friend's friends on facebook MB came across Tapio Shrey, a member of the European Youth Parliament, who looks uncannily like Kevin Rudd.  Young Tapio shares Kevin's boy next door looks and aspires to politics, could they also share DNA?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gecko Chronicles

Some freaky news from Darwin this week about a rather adventurous gecko. Living in the tropics means sharing your living space with a bunch of geckos.  They especially love hanging around walls and ceilings near the lightbulbs so they can catch unsuspecting insects and many a night the MB household has observed large geckos cannibalising baby geckos. 
MB's pantry has one very large gecko dubbed Gary. Gary ventures out of hiding when the pantry door is closed, then when one opens the pantry door one sees a sudden movement out of the corner of one's eyes which always gives one a bit of a start. Gary is the biggest gecko MB has ever seen and he's still growing.
In view of what's happened in Darwin MB recommends you always keep your trousers on when in the tropics!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Save the Pandas

Pictured is Eljay feeding the panda bears, plus one polar bear. Eljay picked some leaves off one MB's indoor plants, piled them all up nice and neat on the landing then arranged the bears around their "snack" in a very neat circle.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trivia Games

Just read in the Green Guide (Melbourne Age) that Buzz!: Quiz TV for PS3 is due out soon. Any mention of electronic games usually make MB's eyes glaze over and bring on a fit of yawning, but mention Trivia Game and MB is agog. 
If only she had a Playstation 3.  This latest version of Buzz, made in the UK with Australia's own Jason Donavan doing the voice of the cheesy host, looks even more promising with users being able to download additional question packs and even write their own questions.  There will also be a facility for players to compete with others over the internet. These are definitely wishlist items.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lesson #2 with the FBI

Learnt some more staples of Italian cuisine last night with Daniele. Daniele very charmingly stresses he is a "full born Italian" or FBI and has been classically trained in Italy. Daniele likes acronyms, one of his printed recipes calls for EVOO and MB was completely mystified, turns out it's extra virgin olive oil, obvious really.
Last night it was Osso Buco, Risotto alla Milanese and Biscotti. The Osso Buco was served with the Risotto and was superb. Risotto is a fairly tricky dish to make so it was good to learn the proper technique. MB however did manage to toast the rice in the first stage and thought it was ruined, but thankfully it turned out fine in the end.
The Biscotti were amazingly easy, again this is something MB has struggled with in the past.
You really can't beat learning by doing. Next week it's seafood dishes, including the ever popular calamari.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ASX Investor Update May 08

Feature article in the latest bulletin from the Australian Stock Exhange - "Better returns from long-term investing".  What a scoop!  They must have had to really draw on some huge resources to work that one out. 

Thursday, May 08, 2008

First Class at La Scuola Italiana di Cucina

Four hopeful students turned up for Daniele's class on Tuesday night. First lesson was how to make that perennial favourite, Tirami Su. Ill Maestro's (Daniele) version is very rich and actually easier than the one MB learnt years ago from her Italian language teacher. Tirami Su actually means pick me up and it's not pronounced Tira Misu.
Next up was Bruschetta, then Pasta Amatriciana. The pasta dish was a lesson in simplicity and absolutely superb.
Daniele is very passionate about his food and his teaching is really quite inspiring. One of the students doesn't eat tomatoes which Ill Maestro handled pretty tactfully considering the tomato is the cornerstone of Italian cuisine.
Next week's class will focus on Biscotti and Osso Buco.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow

The Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow rolled into Cairns last week with three shows over the Labour Day long weekend.

MDR had seen it advertised in the papers last week but with most of the weekend spent building a vegie garden and chopping down trees at father of MDR's, it was forgotten about until Sunday.

The duo hastened into the Civic Theatre on Sunday around lunchtime to buy tickets but were told tickets would only be available one hour prior to the 8pm show.

Not to be deterred MB jumped online back at home and bought two tickets which turned out to be in the second row, this had the pair speculating that the third and last show in Cairns wasn't going to be very well patronised. This turned out not to be the case, the show was in fact a full house.

The 2½ hour comedy gala had the audience doubled over in laughter the whole time with the highlight being Tripod, these guys are really talented entertainers with their lightning fast repartee and songs with ridiculous lyrics.

The stand up comedians were amazing and entertaining, MB never fails to be impressed with their bravery in fronting a crowd with absolutely no props and actually making a bunch of strangers laugh, it has to be most daunting experience ever.

Dave Thornton, Hannah Gadsby and Asher Treleaven were the standup highlights for MB. Greg Fleet was OK but his long winded LSD trip story wasn't really that amusing, although some his observations around Cairns were pretty good, especially his take on the Cairns' Table Tennis Stadium, which is really just a small building no larger than an average size restaurant.

The roadshow is a great way to showcase a sample of Melbourne's truly singular festival in far flung places around the Australia. MB noticed on the website that the roadshow is also being taken to Singapore this year. Will be interesting to see how it's received there.

La Scuola Italiana di Cucina

Daniele the chef at the nearby Crystal Cafe in Redlynch Shopping Centre is starting up Italian cooking classes tonight.
MB has heard that Daniele is an ex-chef from Panaroma Restaurant in town so has decided to attend the first class tonight to try and get some more knowledge on genuine Italian cooking, one of her favourite cuisines.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What a Load of Horsesh*t

The Vegetable Garden project for CF is nearly complete. To ensure a bountiful crop MB advised that plenty of manure and blood & bone is necessary, so MDR put out some feelers and was told by an equestrienne colleague where he could find some free horse manure.
MB & MDR called in today and filled up the ute. Surprisingly enough the horse manure didn't smell at all, resembling more a mound of dry compost. Luckily this was so as the wind was very strong and blowing "manure dust" over the pair.
Will be unloading the manure later today into the custom built vegie garden enclosure. The topsoil will be delivered tomorrow (Labour day public holiday) from Limberlost and seedlings can then be planted.

Sausage Tree

Cairns Botanic Gardens are home to some very weird and wonderful botanical specimens. Pictured above are the fruit of the sausage tree, a native of tropical Africa.
MB took Hiroko & Keiko for a visit to the gardens on their second last day in Cairns. The trio also had a delightful long lunch at the Botanic Gardens restaurant, always worth a visit.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beach Shack - Macham Manor

Went down to Bramston Beach last Saturday for lunch with Hana at her friends' beach shack (friends live in Switzerland). Hana was down there doing some maintenance, including tiling a bathroom, she is a pretty handy lady to have around.
Bramston Beach is only an hour south of Cairns and another world away. Mobile phones (including Telstra) don't even work there.
It was a picture perfect day with loads of Birdwing and Ulysses butterflies showing off. An ideal day for a lazy lunch on the verandah.
MB was so enthused she made a website for the Holiday Shack as the owners are keen to get more holiday rentals, check it out at http://machambeachmanor.com.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Harp Recital

Cairns was very lucky to enjoy French-Australian harpist, Sebastien Lipman and his Japanese wife, Sayo (pictured above at right), also a harpist on April 20.
MB's good friends from Tokyo, Hiroko & Keiko, were in town, so she purchased 4 front row tickets to attend the recital. MDR however wasn't keen to go so another great friend, Jan, stepped into the breach.
The modern harp is an amazing instrument, it actually has 7 pedals so a huge multitude of notes and tones can be produced.
The harp music was divine and the duo were very entertaining, going to a lot of trouble to explain each music selection and the mechanics of the harp.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April Harvest

MB got back home during the week and found to her delight that the monsoon has moved on, the southerlies are blowing, humidity has dropped dramatically and nights are cooling. 
Cairns is emerald green, has water galore and the MB family garden is showing off it's bounty.  The lemonade tree, a lemon & orange cross, is bursting with fruit, the first year it has produced anything of significance.
MB's Panama Red passionfruit which wasn't even flowering in March is now laden with fruit and the sweet potatoes are growing like trifids and continually need cutting back.
Yes that's yet another snake skin, noticed this skin today just lying on the grass under the lemonade tree.
The juice from the lemonade fruit is superb and does really taste just like it's name!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Out 'n About

MB's visit to the desert city is drawing to a close so a night out was in order. After much research and discussion, it was decided to try out the Queen's Head in North Adelaide. All agreed their menu looked great and as it was a Sunday no live band would be playing.
On the way to the pub the trio noticed lots of people in the city dressed up in costumes, a roman centurion and samoan girls in traditional dress (luckily it was very warm), it then dawned on them that these were supporters leaving the Rugby Sevens and the nice little quiet pub was actually full of very merry supporters and a really loud band, making a dreadful cacophany that could not possibly be called music. Anyway the restaurant was down the back, a little way from the noise.
Dinner was excellent, Mami & MB had wagyu rump which was delectable and PTA had a pork dish, the name of which escapes MB now. MB had a funny time of it, nearly getting knocked out of her chair by a drunken rugby supporter who was trying to find the toilets.
On the way out of the restaurant PTA asked a rugby supporter in an Aussie guernsey who won the Sevens, the guy told him he left after Australia got knocked out so PTA was none the wiser until the following morning.
Mami suggested dessert at Spats in Hyde Park (on the way home), PTA described it as very olde worlde with lots of kitsche and would you believe it an olden days cash register - Ka Ching - that was still in use. This is a really charming spot with little booths and comfy sofas for each dining party, the sort of place you'd love to go to on a really cold night for a hot chocolate. Pictured is Mami's banana waffle, Mami is very lucky to have a galloping metabolism, never puts on weight! Spats has a prodigious selection of desserts, coffees, teas and loads of other beverages. MB is very much looking forward to going back there next trip.

Saltbush Chevon

Sunday dawned clear with a forecast top temp of 20 something and MB got to the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market just in time for opening at 09:00am. Lots of other like minded foragers waiting at the gates, which were opened on the dot at 9am, causing quite a stampede. This really is a superb market with a great selection of produce being sold directly by the growers. Some stalls such as an organic orchard's apple & pear stand had very long queues snaking away from it. The highlight for MB was the Willabrand Figs, the last week of the season with two luscious varieties on sale, a very red one that tasted like sherbet and a light green one that tasted like warm honey, absolutely divine.
The oh so cute kid pictured is from Rugosa Paddocks which markets saltbush chevon (goat fed on saltbush). MB bought some shanks and later that day made some oven roasted shanks with chermoula, a huge hit with the human kids.
Many stallholders have generous samples which MB prepared for by not breaking her fast that morning.
PTA & Mami are so lucky to have such easy access to this market, which is less than 2 klms from their apartment.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Adelaide City

Adelaide is bristling with beautiful stone buildings, large squares, wide roads and plenty of pedestrian space.

Foodie Heaven

The mecca for Adelaide foodies is the Adelaide Central Market, just near Chinatown on Gouger Street in the city. The market is very accessible, only about 150m from the tram stop and it also has plenty of car parking. The location is great, the rest of the street is humming with restaurants, cafes and cookware shops. MB, PTA & Mami walked through yesterday and MB couldn't help but stop here and there to exclaim over the beautiful produce, but PTA kept getting impatient and dragging his Mum away. Mami however did manage to buy some Kaki (Japanese for persimmon), one of her favourite fruits which has just come into season.
MB went back today, by herself, so she could have a good look around and picked up some fresh supplies for tonight's dinner, a beef stir-fry. Figs are just coming in so a few of these delectable treats were also picked up. MB also had a very good piroshki for lunch, made by two Kazhakstan ladies who make and cook fresh piroshki at their stand, genuine food heroes these two.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Auction Fever

MB spied in last Saturday's (29 March 08) Adelaide Advertiser an article noting that a collection of memorabilia belonging to the Australian artist Pro Hart was going to auction in Adelaide. Further investigation revealed that Pro Hart was quite an avid and eclectic collector, especially of matchbox cars, glass paperweights and antique furniture. On perusing the catalogue MB spied an interesting Huon Pine chest of drawers, MB being a fan of huon pine furniture decided to inspect the piece and subsequently attended the auction (her first auction ever) on Sunday 30 March 08.
After a browse through the auction room with PTA, MB took a seat to await the auction which began at 12 noon, she then realised that with over 700 lots she was going to get hungry as she hadn't had any lunch. PTA kindly ducked over the road and picked up a bag of nuts to keep the old girl sustained.
Seated next to MB was a Chinese lady who pointed out two lots in the catalogue that she was interested in, her English was practically non-existent and she eventually communicated to MB that MB was to tell her when these lots came up for bidding. MB obliged and ended up writing down the bid amounts on paper as Mrs Chinoise didn't understand when the numbers were pronounced in English! She successfully bid on a large oak dining table and seemed very happy with her purchase.
MB had set a limit on her bids for the chest of drawers and is happy to report that she succeeded in the bidding which came in just under budget. Some of the collectibles seemed to sell for very reasonable prices and there was some spirited bidding for many items. The most notable item probably was one 1930 penny. MB asked the auctioneer the next day how much it went for and was told "18 plus 20% buyer's premium", MB asked if that meant 18 hundred dollars, wrong, it was $18,000.00. By the way the auction house was also the British Consulate office for Adelaide.
MB rather enjoyed the auction and would like to do this sort of thing more often.

Zen Garden, Adelaide

Adelaide is home to a most delightful Japanese garden near South Terrace on the edge of the CBD. This is the Himeji garden celebrating Adelaide's sister city ties with the city of Himeji in Japan. Mami (Paul's girlfriend) is from Himeji which is near Osaka.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Adelaide Rugby Sevens

Hard to believe in this one-eyed city of Aussie Rules supporters that an international rugby sevens tournament is being hosted here this weekend. The local paper mentioned a laser light show being staged tonight from Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide so the trio of MB and son with girlfriend went along for the show. St Peter's cathedral is just near the hill and the trio were delighted to hear the bells pealing as they passed by the brightly lit twin spired cathedral.
The actual light show was located at a statue of the aptly named Colonel Light, spotlights were placed behind the colonel so that the beams of light would appear to be coming from his raised arm which is pointing directly at Adelaide oval. The light show also turned out to be a small VIP event with local dignitaries quaffing drinks and nibbling on canapes. After a dull speech by the sponsor, the SA premier, Mike Rann, stepped up and patted himself and colleagues on the back for pipping Singapore to host this event. Mike Rann also revealed he was born in UK, grew up in NZ and is now an Australian citizen. This goes a long to way to explain how a Rugby event could be staged in Adelaide!
The light show consisited of a handful of fireworks over Adelaide oval, then the spotlights behind Colonel Light were switched on. A chap adjacent to the trio summed it up with "is that all?"
The chap pictured was posing for the press with what appears to be the tournament trophy, he looks like a male model, not sure if he is a player or not?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Holy Trinity of Food Trails in Tasmania

MDR fortuitously found this brochure in Zeehan whilst the pair were en route to Burnie. After an overnight stop in the port city of Burnie, a fairly ordinary city which is desperately trying to become more attractive, MDR & MB headed south-east to Swansea via Latrobe so the food trail could be "sampled". The duo stumbled on the Cherry Barn first so popped in and bought a little cherry & apple pie plus a delightful mini cherry cheesecake. Got directions to Anvers which is a quaint little chocolate factory in a California bungalow which also houses an excellent restaurant, so lunch there was a good choice. MDR had a type of steak and kidney pie that included chocolate in it, however he couldn't taste it.
Next stop was Ashgrove to pick up some of their novel but nice Wasabi cheese, had to jostle with a very large group from a tour bus, but also managed to pick up some nice blue cheese and a small piece of Red Leicester. A few clicks down the road was the Christmas Hills Farm Cafe, by then MDR & MB were feeling very overfed from the lunch and all the samples, so just picked up a punnet of fresh raspberries for later consumption.
Great fun and definitely worth the drive.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hahndorf Food Hero #2

Saturday 29 March 08: Last stop of the day on the Adelaide Hills tour was an afternoon tea (not necessary but nice) at Udder Delights a boutique cheese factory/shop and cafe on the main street of Hahndorf. This place is fresh, clean, immaculately presented and the cheeses are divine. Their goat curd and chevre are particularly noteworthy.
MB had the best cup of Earl Grey tea ever, made with loose leaf tea and piping hot water and MDR enjoyed a very high quality coffee & chocolate cake with service that was exceptionally pleasant and professional. Simple pleasures like these are in reality not that easy to find but Udder Delights is a true food hero.

The Cedars, Hahndorf

MDR & MB were scratching around for something to do on MDR's last day in Adelaide and saw in an Adelaide Hills guide a small mention of the family home of the famous artist, Hans Heysen, which was open to visitors. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the Adelaide visit, a beautiful home and studio (pictured) set on 130 acres on the outskirts of Hahndorf, and hardly changed within the last 80 years. This home, which is very comfortable but not at all grand, is filled with Heysen artworks and other beautiful objects, books and publications. Not to mention the gardens which are a lovely haven featuring Himalayan Cedars.
Hans Heysen was an exceptionally talented and prodigious artist with an output of over 20,000 artworks in his time. Heysen's famous paintings of eucalyptus trees are iconic and one learns during the tour of his property that he was an ardent conservationist who kept buying land to save the gum trees. He would even pay nearby landholders to stop them from felling gum trees on their land. Heysen was born in 1877 in Germany and emigrated to Australia when he was 7 years old. When Heysen died in 1968 his collection of Rembrandt & Vermeer paintings tragically had to be sold to pay SA death duties, most of these paintings ended up overseas. Luckily in 2003 a Rembrandt self portrait was found in the house and it is now there on display. MDR reckons Heysen is a much better artist and MB wholeheartedly agrees.
It was a real privilege to visit this property as it still a family home for the Heysen descendants and therefore does not look nor feel like a museum.

Hahndorf Food Hero #1

Saturday 29 March 08: MDR & MB took a leisurely drive up to Hahndorf with a view to visiting Hans Heysen's family home. Hahndorf is in the Adelaide Hills and less than 30 minutes drive from Glenelg along an excellent motorway.
Readers may remember an earlier visit by the MB family to Hahndorf in 2005. It was with some trepidation that MB & MDR crossed the threshhold of the Kaffeehaus, MB expected heads to swivel and a hushed silence as they broached the entryway, mustn't be that famous though as no one took a jot of notice. The Kaffeehaus does not appear to have changed greatly, didn't actually stop for coffee just a quick reccy.
After walking the length of the very picturesque main street, MDR decided he was going to have a pie at Pot Belly Pies. MB followed suit and both ordered a beef mushroom & guinness pie. This is a very small shop that only sells hand made pies (12 varieties) and rightly deserves it's award for best pies in SA. One of the best pies MB has sampled. The special of the day was a chicken brie and cranberry which had sold out, not quite to MB's taste but obviously there are punters out there who fancy that combination.

Feeding Frenzy - WOFTAM

MB dropped into the Jurlique sale early on Saturday morning (29 March 08) hoping to snag some of their very nice skincare products at bargain prices. MB saw the sale advertised in the Adelaide Advertiser and was hoping not too many folks saw it, she couldn't be more wrong however as it looked as if half of the female population of SA were there.
There were about 6-8 small tables with a limited range of discontinued Jurlique products, four checkouts and queues to each checkout that were easily 200m long, definitely not worth the wait.
MDR had dropped MB there and gone off the find a servo and was quite surprised when MB called him within 5 minutes of being dropped off. A bit disappointing but worth checking out nonetheless.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Presently staying in sunny Glenelg, quite the tourist hub. Found a very nice apartment on Colley Terrace which is just opposite the beach. Didn't realise when we made the booking that the World Beach Volleyball Tour was being held practically on our doorstep. Quite a huge event with lots of tall, athletic types from all over getting around. Eljay scored a lanyard and other merchandise from the sponsor, Swatch, when we walked by yesterday. He must've flirted with the nice lady handing out the merchandise as none of us grown ups were offered anything! CF & PTA spent a while arguing over who was going to keep the lanyard, looks like CF won that round.

Norm's Coolie Wonder Dogs

A trip to the Barossa Valley is not complete until you've visited Norm's Coolie dog show near Tanunda.  Norm is still going strong with his not so funny sense of humour, giving all the kids in the audience a hard time.  First part of the show was rounding up some sheep, the dogs were a little disorganised and it took quite some time and countless attempts for the dogs to get the sheep corraled.  Eljay spent most of the show playing on the hay bales in the shed behind the paddock where the show is held.
Norm also got the dogs to sit in a circle and bought the sheep in, then he got all the dogs to lie down togther in row.  The show is set in a lovely rural setting and the property is dotted with old yellow utes and trucks that double as dog kennels, very Aussie.  At the end of the show Norm got all the dogs to jump in the back of a yellow ute so the visitors could pat them, Eljay got up close but some of the dogs were pretty jumpy and snarling at the strangers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pear Ridge Restaurant, Margate, Tasmania

Such a promising restaurant, just south of Hobart: "Pear Ridge is the beginning of your discovery of what we're all about. It's really terrific ingredients, many grown in our own garden, which our customers can see in progress. Serving local produce in a way that entices you to explore different tastes each time you visit."
MB was delighted to discover this place, which sounds just like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage, and dropped in for lunch on their Huon Valley day trip. Soup du jour was cream of spinach and after enjoying some delightful fresh spinach in the campervan MB was keen to sample some more. MDR ordered lamb cutlets which he pronounced very good. The soup unfortunately was a disaster, it tasted like water thickened with flour, unseasoned with no stock nor herbs, just some unidentifiable green flecks in the "paste" which is all one could describe it as.
MDR had also attempted to order a pear juice but this was another menu item not available.
Not to be completely deterred MB decided to try the French Pudding for dessert as it contained seasonal pears and cherries (pear trees laden with fruit in the garden were in plain view). Unfortunately this dessert wasn't available and the chef recommended the hot raspberry waffle. MB thought this was a safe bet as fresh raspberries are still available. The dish that came out did not resemble a waffle at all. Instead we were served a large ramekin of stodgy bread and butter putting with a half dozen raspberries on top. If one wanted to eat a large stodgy pudding this would have been fine, pity their menu descriptions are completely misleading.
The service was super slow and only a handful of diners were in attendance. After lunch MB & MDR strolled through the garden and were amazed to see ripe apples & quinces falling off trees and rotting on the ground. Masses of large pears were there for the picking and there was also an impressive stand of ruby red rhubarb plus a large stand of fennel - none of these were even on the menu. The garden, whilst large and well laid out, looked very sad and neglected.
One wonders if this place has recently changed hands, the present management do not seem to take any pride nor interest in the concept that they are advertising.