Thursday, December 24, 2009

Festivus, it's all going to fall into a big heap

This was the response from MDR when I asked him for a quote about the MB family's preparedness for Xmas Day. MDR then made MB repeat the mantra "Be nice to everybody, no matter how much they're annoying you!" MB, being the glass half full partner, is feeling rather smug, she's never been so ready for a Christmas day lunch. She's already made the Breton style crepes for the smoked salmon and creme fraiche appetisers, the potatoes are cooked and ready to roast (nothing like a twice cooked spud). The pudding is cooked and the egg custard is nicely chilled down in the fridge. A few non-drinkers will be in attendance tomorrow so a big pot of tea has just been made to put together a festive fruit punch. A first for MB this year is the making of a home made cranberry sauce from frozen cranberry fruit, MB has just consulted Margaret Fulton's excellent Christmas cookbook and found a suitable and fairly easy recipe.
The grand-kids will be over in the morning to tear into their presents, little LJ (3yrs) has asked Santa for an ambulance, he seems to be past the garbage truck phase now.
Oh for such simple pleasures, enjoy your Christmas Day

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cacophony at Tongarra

Last Saturday Aunty & Uncle took MB for a visit to Annie & Steve's new digs just outside of the Gong, which is an easy 1.45hr drive from Manly. The first thing that struck MB was the cacophony of cicadas
in the bushland surrounding the homestead, very loud, but one becomes accustomed to the sound quite quickly.
Annie & Steve have found a real piece of paradise, off the grid, with views to the Illawarra Escarpment, hard to believe this rugged country is so close to Sydney.
Photo above is the amazing picture window view from the bathroom.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pilgrimage to Newtown

MB has a few days in Sydney with a free day today so it's off to Newtown, home of funky shopping and great secondhand bookstores. Before leaving home base in Balgowlah she entered "Newtown" into Google Maps and came up with Black Star Pastry in Australia St, Newtown. As she was feeling patriotic she thought this would be as good a destination as any.
After a bus to the city and train to Newtown she found the cafe it quite easily, virtually across the road from the station, a little behind King St.

Black Star has some mouth watering delights on offer, too early for the Lamb Shank, red wine & vegie pie so MB settled for a strawberry, watermelon and rose gateaux with a flat white. The cake was sublime, coffee was pretty good but a touch too cold. The cafe is tiny, in a converted terrace house, very cute with lots of boy couples lolling around.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Last Night in Twisted River

MB has just received notification from her Library that the new novel by John Irving, Last Night in Twisted River, has arrived and is available for collection. MB will be the first borrower so she'll be able to caress this new book and drink in that crisp just bought fragrance. MB is positively salivating at the thought of burying herself in another of John Irving's spellbinding tales. Ever since discovering this author when she read The Cider House Rules, MB has sought out every book by John Irving and with the exception of The Water Method Man, has never been disappointed. Some of the recurring themes through Irving's stories are New England & Maine, bears, tortured relationships and of course very complex characters. His multi-layered story telling genius really makes you feel as if you are there inside the story and his humour has MB laughing out loud - to MB this is truly a marker for a great read.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shinto Stool

HTML MessageHot out of "The Shed", MDR's latest creation, a pair of Shinto style bar stools, a Christmas gift for PTA & his beloved Mamiko.
As usual MDR has lavished a great deal of time - and sweat - to craft these works of art and not one nail has been used. The timber used is Cairns Pencil Cedar, from a tree that was felled in nearby Kamerunga about two years ago. The stools are finished with a clear matt oil based seal, unstained.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Family Fun Day at the MRF aka The Dump

Cairns Regional Council opened up the Materials Recycling Facility today which was a great chance to take little Levi, the would be rubbish truck driver. This 3yr old is completely obsessed with rubbish trucks, wheelie bins and any other rubbish related item. He loved seeing the conveyor belts that sort the recyclables, and amazingly enough he even spotted some empty milk bottles from home that he had put in his recycle bin!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Banana Pecan Muffins

Mr & Mrs MB have been very lucky to share in their neighbours', John & Teresa's, bounty of home grown bananas. These bananas have been just delightful, so full of flavour they leave the shop bought fruit a million miles behind.
After watching Tony Bourdain today MB was inspired to make some banana muffins with a difference and here are the results, the muffins also have bits of dark chocolate in them as well, so MB could clear some lonely looking chocolate from the fridge. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

6 Coffees a day to keep the Doctor Awake

The brains trust at Queensland Health have responded to their overworked doctors' complaints with the most novel of solutions, drink at least 6 cups of coffee a day. MB must remember if she needs to visit a Queensland hospital to take a few jumbo sized triple shot freetrade arabica beverages for the attending doctor. Of course after the lengthy wait the coffee will be stone cold - hope that still counts as a fatigue cure.
Better still MB could install a 24hr coffee vending machine at the entrance to the Emergency Department, could be a quite a money spinner...

Monday, September 07, 2009

$20,000 Toaster

If one spends $20,000 at Coles, KMart, Target and related merchants, within a 3 year period, one will be able to redeem with the points earned, 8000, for a Tefal 2 slice toaster using Flybuys points*. The toaster is probably worth around $40.00.
When MB first joined Flybuys in the early nineties the points per spend were much more reasonable but even then she could never amass enough points to redeem free air travel, which was used to market the program.
Every two to three years she was able to accrue enough points (11,000) for 12 x movie vouchers, but since the reduction to 2 points earned per $5.00 spend this is now impossible.

With points expiring after 3 years, it's well nigh impossible for MB to even reach 6,000 points, so she has taken the decision to cash in what she can (2 x $20 vouchers) and drop out of the program.
Flybuys is obviously a fantastic data collection tool for Coles but MB for one is no longer going to have her shopping habits logged for little or no recompense.
*Flybuys hot rewards August 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whale Frolics Fitzroy Island

A work colleague of MB's captured this great pic whilst out fishing near Fitzroy Island last Saturday. This whale was one of a group of 3 whales frolicking quite happily near colleague's boat.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chandler Markets, Brisbane

MB stumbed upon a huge market at the Sleeman Sports Centre in Chandler early on Sunday morning when she dropped MDR off at the Aquatic Centre for the Qld Underwater Hockey Championships.
She was just leaving and saw a vacant car parking slot near the entrance so decided to stop and do a walk through. The markets are a great mix of farmers market and second hand. One chap was selling a fantastic selection of heritage tomatoes which MB couldn't resist, so she bought one Black Krim & one Black Russian for a taste test with MDR. The Black Krim won hands down, a nice meaty tomato with lots of flavour.

Rocklea Markets, Brisbane

The dynamic duo arrived into Brisbane early on Saturday morning, the pefect time to visit Rocklea Markets with Hana.
After checking out some pretty heliconia plants and nice produce with Hana, MB thinks $2 for a lovely fresh cauliflower is amazingly cheap, the pair stopped by the Fromart stand where VT is moonlighting to sample some superb swiss cheeses, some made locally and a couple of imported ones - including a nice raw milk cheese.
MB was hoping VT would have the Raclette burner there so she could gorge herself on fondue, but not to be. Alas she'll have to wait for a dinner party invitation. She did however find a Hungarian food hero making fresh Hungarian donuts which were lovely, very light with a subtle taste of orange.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cadbury Backflip

Readers may be aware that Cadbury recently "dumbed down" their chocolate products by replacing cocoa butter with palm oil and reducing the block size. The paper wrap packaging was increased to a cardboard package to disguise the 10% decrease in size - whilst keeping the retail price the same.
The inclusion of palm oil has infuriated conservationists, particulary those concerned with orangutangs losing their rainforst habitat in South-East Asia to palm oil plantations. Cadbury claims the palm oil is from some sort of "eco-friendly" palm oil source.
Cadbury's lame and insulting excuse for the reduced block size is that it reduces one's "DI" or daily intake of a calorie laden food.
Needless to say all of the above has whipped up a storm amongst Cadbury consumers and today's press reports that Cadbury has backed away from using palm oil.
Picture above is a scan of an old paper wrap.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

One of Marc's colleagues tragically lost his beloved pet cat this week. Due to the cooler weather the cat had taken a liking to climbing onto the roof of the house to sun itself. One morning colleague heard some commotion on the roof and raced out to investigate. He was completely taken aback to see a hawk carrying off kitty. Colleague was completely helpless and unable to do anything. Unbelievable but true!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Peter & His Droughtmasters

MB, plus 4 female friends who were visiting from Japan, were very lucky to visit Peter & Maureen at their sugarcane farm near Mossman on 23 July. Peter & Maureen are growing many acres of sugarcane not only in Mossman but also at their second property in Julatten, just up on the tablelands behind Mossman. After a lunch feast prepared by Maureen, Peter took the 5 girls on a tour to the Julatten property, over one hundred acres with 3 creeks and a beautiful rainforest backdrop. Peter also has a herd of Droughtmaster cattle there which he started in 1979. When the cattle realised Peter had arrived they bounded up quite happily to the gate and Peter gave them all a treat of molasses to slurp on.
Peter is a great racontuer and had the girls giggling all afternoon.

Food Hero Discovery

MB was pretty chuffed when she stumbled upon a stall at the Cairns' Rusty's Markets selling locally grown organic vanilla. She had quite a chinwag with the grower, Russell Spanton, who with his wife, Mary, grows the vanilla in Port Douglas and are the first commercial vanilla growers in Australia.
Russell has had the vanilla tested by the CSIRO and was told it has 4 times more vanilla content than any other beans tested, including beans from Tonga, Tahiti, PNG and Madagascar.
Russell also shared some of his colourful experiences with other local vanilla growers, lots of argy bargy going on. Up until encountering Vanilla Australia ( at Rustys Markets MB had no idea any vanilla beans for commercial sale were even being grown in FNQ.
MB did of course purchase some beans but as yet hasn't used them. She's planning to make some crème brûlée soon and will report back.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cairns - New Ukulele Capital

If Val has her way (Mayoress of Cairns) her city will be the festival capital of the world with a film festival to rival Cannes.
The similarity in names may just work in favour of Cairns. If the Cairns Film Festival was convened on exactly the same dates as the one in Cannes, MB could easily imagine some literacy challenged travel agents booking travel for festival goers to Cairns, rather than Cannes.
The gutsy 10 year old MB spotted busking with her ukulele at Redlynch Shopping Centre recently would no doubt be happy to hear about a possible ukulele festival in her hometown.
The festival would have real credibility if Val has lined up Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele virtuoso, to perform. He is a true master of the ukulele.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Atherton Poultry Show

After visiting the Atherton Orchid Show at the Atherton Showgrounds MDR spotted another event in the nearby poultry pavilion. Turned out the local bird fanciers had also put on a show of their poultry. MB is a bit of a closet poultry fancier herself so the pair decided to inspect Atherton's finest.
This show was just wrapping too, so the pair did a quick tour.
MB's favourite was the White Pekin which the owner happily took out of his cage so she could take a photo. MB thought this lovely looking bird with silky feathers was a "she" but the owner, trying to hide his smirk, told her the fowl was a "he". MB asked how did he keep him so clean, apparently Dynamo does the trick, as does keeping the fowl on clean wood shavings.
MDR is pictured above next to a cage containing two of the biggest fowl the pair had ever seen, unfortunately couldn't find out what breed they were. The diversity of poultry is truly amazing and never fails to fascinate MB.
Where would mankind be without such an easily and quickly raised source of protein?

Atherton Orchid Show

Queen's Birthday long weekend saw MDR & MB make their annual pilgrimage to Lake Tinaroo for the Wooden Boat Assoc. of Cairns' annual "Tinaroo Raid".
This is a fun event which is beautifully organised and very relaxed. Weather was superb and the company great.
After the Raid finished early Sunday afternoon the pair made a dash for nearby Atherton to visit the 44th Tropical Queensland Orchid Council Conference & Show at the local showgrounds. The conference was just wrapping up but the floral displays were still in place and MB wasn't disappointed, the orchids were enchanting.

Lake Tinaroo Terraces - Thumbs Down

MB & MDR were really disappointed with the 2 nights in their 2 bedroom lake view lodge at Lake Tinaroo Terraces.
On arrival they report to reception, which looks like a radioactive waste dump, but it's unattended. Eventually a slovenly looking man who bears an amazing resemblance to Jabba the Hutt, waddles in, apparently from a house across the road. He grunts, we supply our name and he can’t find the booking, even though MB phoned twice and emailed once (no reply to the email). Jabba swipes our visa card and with a huge sigh, forces himself upright & waddles out to show us where the lake view unit is.
The "lodge" turns out to be a tiny painted corrugated iron tin shed that shakes & groans every time you walk in it. The "lake view" is actually the back of two tin sheds immediately in front of the tin shed.
Not long after arrival MB boils the jug for a cuppa. MDR had bought Danish pastries from his favourite patisserie in Redlynch so MB grabbed a plate. When she picked up the plate it was stuck to the plate beneath it and on closer inspection she noticed it hadn’t been cleaned. She checked the crockery and noticed many items were dirty, so of course she had to clean all of the dishes! There was not a drop of milk in the fridge, not even some little UHT packs.
One of the light fittings on the lounge wall was missing its cover and didn’t have a light bulb in it. Great if you have kiddies with you!
Cleaning and upkeep of the tin shed was rudimentary to say the least, filthy crockery, musty soft furnishings, coating of dust on everything and grimy windows. God knows when the bedding was last washed..
The master bedroom was in a loft and was the most spacious room. Only 1 light bulb missing there. The bed lamp was a doozy, looked like it had been dropped as the base was cracked and a large opening revealed internal workings. The clock radio was helpfully switched off at the power point
First night in MB & MDR settled down to watch a DVD (French Classic Cinema bought from home) but of course the remote didn’t work, checked the batteries and find none in the remote, just a rusted out cavity where batteries are meant to be go.
The second bedroom had a bunk bed squeezed into a room not much bigger then the bunk itself. Again the clock radio was helpfully switched off at the wall.
Any chance of a hair dryer in the bathroom? No way, that would be far too generous.
On day 2 when MB walked past the unattended reception there was a sign advising the office was closed as there were no vacancies. No details on how one can contact the manager and no emergency contact details.
Also in the tin shed there is no information and no way to contact the "on-site" manager as there are no internal telephones, just a bare phone point on the nano-kitchenette wall. Can't have pesky guests bothering the management.
Of course one could just call Lake Tinaroo Terraces on the mobile. That is if there is mobile phone coverage. MB has a Vodafone and MDR has a Telstra mobile, both of these did not have a signal there. MB is sure Jabba would gleefully let guests know there is a public phone booth about one kilometer away, if you could track him down that is.
Needless to say hospitality at Lake Tinaroo Terraces is absolutely zero and it was one of the most unpleasant stays MB has ever experienced. Accommodation standards do not merit the tariff charged by a long shot.
MB's advice - give this place a very wide berth.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Biltong at Yeronga

Check out VT's super home made biltong dryer.
Whilst in Brisbane on Monday MB had few hours to spare before flying back to Cairns so dropped in for a quick visit. Hana whipped up a great dinner in no time which was very much appreciated, and much nicer than eating at the airport!

VT has constructed a plywood biltong dryer which uses 1 x 100 watt lamp to dry out strips of marinated beef in approximately one week. The beef strips are marinated in a vinegar and spice mix beforehand.
Hopefully next visit a small sample will be ready...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Adelaide Central Markets

The two chocolate fountains pictured above were almost irresistible to MB & MDR. The perfect combination - melted Belgian chocolate and fresh strawberries. MB & MDR reluctantly settled for a photo rather than the calories....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Coffin Bay National Park

Approx. 30k from Port Lincoln is the Coffin Bay National Park, well worth a visit to see the rugged coastline and amazing sand dunes. MB & MDR lucked out with the weather with a warm northerly wind so nearly t-shirt weather. Pictured above is Almonta Beach, just near Point Avoid. More pics on Flickr.

Port Lincoln

View of Port Lincoln from our B&B, The Yardarm, which turned out to be a wonderful spot to stay. Our hosts, Judy & Ken have thought of everything ensuring a stay in the fully self-contained studio is incredibly comfortable. Plenty of hot water too, unlike MB & MDR's city digs, Walter St Mews! Port Lincoln is a small and very prosperous city centered in what appears to be a thriving wheat growing area, judging by the massive silo & grain handling complex which dominates the waterfront. Of course Port Lincoln is famous for white pointer sharks, tuna and seafood and has many wealthy fisherman, including Tony Santic the owner of Makybe Diva. This famous racehorse has been immortalised on the Port Lincoln foreshore reserve in the form of a bronze statue.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Adelaide to Port Lincoln

The duo made a short side trip to Port Lincoln which was a three stage journey:
Adelaide to Wallaroo, Yorke Peninsula - approx. 1hr 45mins
Ferry across the Spencer Gulf from Wallaroo to Lucky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula - approx 2hrs
Lucky Bay to Port Lincoln - just over 2 hours by car.
The ferry shaves about 2 hours off the car trip which would necessitate driving north to Port Augusta which is at the top of the Spencer Gulf and then south down to Port Lincoln.
The ferry was excellent, very comfortable with a snack bar, drinks and even wireless internet. MDR spotted an historical SA Ketches doco on one of the big plasma screens dotted around the cabin so sat down to watch it and was snoozing away in no time.
As the weather was pretty good, MB went up to the top deck to get some photos and had a chat to some of SA's finest from Moonta (near Wallaroo) on their annual pilgrimage, sans wives, to their shack at Lucky Bay. These chaps very kindly invited MB & MDR to their cabin number 16 for drinks, directions from one of the guys were "you'll be able to find the cabin easily, just look for the spew!"
Due to time constraints the pair had to decline.
Stop Press from SeaSA website:
All ferry services have been temporarily suspended until October 2009. Sea SA apologises to customers for this unavoidable disruption.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


One dozen fresh Spencer Gulf oysters - picked 'em up at the Caltex Servo in Cowell, on the Eyre Peninsula. MDR remembered to pack his oyster shucker this trip.
MB was intrigued to learn that Cowell is also home to a Jade deposit, so she bought herself a jade pendant at the Jade Motel.
From SMH 08 Feb 2004 - Cowell Jade Factory
"The history of jade in the Cowell area is a recent development. In 1965, Harry Schiller, a local farmer first discovered significant deposits of nephrite jade near Cowell. The next decade saw little real development and it wasn't until 1974, when the South Australian government became involved, that the potential of the area was realised. A geological assessment found a total of 91 separate jade outcrops (this has subsequently been increased to 115) in a small 10 sq km area which is now known as the Cowell Jade Province. The deposit is recognised as containing about 80 000 tonnes which means that it represents about 90 per cent of the world's known jade reserves (this excludes China for which figures are not available). In the decade to 1987 over 1500 tonnes of jade had been extracted of which 40 per cent was either dark green or black. Cowell jade is now exported to countries as diverse as India, West Germany, USA, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy and New Zealand."

Walter St Mews

Our accommodation in North Adelaide, has it all - location, location, location.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Wednesday the pair decided to take a run up to Rosesale in the Barossa to see if their 1.5ha of vines were still extant (it's one of those MIS investments).
The vineyards looked pretty healthy and well tended so that was a relief. The pair visited the office to find two farmhands who told us that the office had moved to "Waltons" in Seppeltsfield. One of the guys generously offered to show us the way. The new office is an old bluestone farmhouse and it turns out Barossa Vines has set up a wine making operation, Rosedale Wines, with the actual winemaking contracted out to Martincellars and Barossa Valley Estate. The duo met with Rosedale Wine's winemaker Matt and sales manager Chris and sampled the 2007 Shiraz & Shiraz Grenache which were pretty damn good.
Had a stopover in very picturesque Tanunda and found a little cafe doing steak wraps which were delicious.
Made a nice coq au vin for dinner with a bottle of Rosedale Shiraz Grenache, Mt Lofty thyme and beautiful fresh swiss brown button mushrooms from Adelaide Central markets.

Mt Lofty

Tuesday dawned clear and sunny so the pair headed for the hills to visit Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens. The autumn colours were delightful and MDR & MB got a quite a workout walking up to the lookout, via some quite steep tracks.
Stopped in at nearby Hahndorf for lunch and spotted little cafe offering minestrone. Weren't disappointed either, it was lovely, hot home made soup, just the ticket for such a cold day. The Adelaide Hills are such a contrast to Adelaide, rolling green hills rather than flat desert.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Landed in Adelaide Mon. morning, a very grey day, cold and wet so headed straight for the Central Markets in the city, but not open on a Monday. Not to worry went to Chinatown next door and found an Asian food hall, MB opted for some Vietnamese Pho Po (beef broth) and MDR got a trayful of Yum Cha, a nice, cheap and cheerful lunch.
Lodgings are called Walter St Mews, just off O'Connell Rd in North Adelaide. Not a bad location, lots of pubs, restaurants & shops within walking distance. The Mews is a heritage listed cottage which is very quaint indeed, looks a lot better from the outside. Interior is a mix of seventies vogue and op shop shabby. Our first night there was freezing, got down to 9C and we didn't realise there was heating in the bedroom until the next day!
Picked up a fantastic takeaway dinner from a nearby Thai restaurant, "Basil & Lemongrass", one of the best Thai curries we've had.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Move over Hills Hoist

Browsing today's Google news MB stumbled on this headline: "Australia's CSIRO wins big Wi-Fi patent battle". Turns out the CSIRO registered a patent over wi-fi way back in 1993 and have successfully claimed royalties from many of the major technology giants.
This is sensational news but MB has not seen anything in the mainstream media, guess it's too positive!
Just last week an Aussie successfully sued Microsoft for using software he developed to lock software programs. The gist of the story was that he took his software to Microsoft in the 1990's, Microsoft declined to purchase it but then started using it in all of their software shortly thereafter. The judgment amount (which is being appealed) was around $500 million dollars, a great result for the Aussie battler.

If I had a week in Melbourne

Apart from eating herself silly, drinking lots of latte and reading The Age everyday MB would:

View the iconic photographs of Max Dupain on exhibition at the Victorian Archives -

Visit the National Gallery on St Kilda Rd:

At least one visit to the Queen Victoria Market is mandatory: Jam donuts there are the best. Prahran & South Melbourne markets are worth a visit too.

Take a stroll through the Botanic Gardens:

On Mothers Day - 10 May: MB would head out to Langwarrin to check out Lady Elisabeth Murdoch's gardens which will be open to public -

MDR would love to do Foster's Brewery Tour in Abbotsford:

MB would definitely catch some Cuban music

Browsing in Chapel Street, eating in Brunswick Street and at little Vietnam in Richmond. A kebab at Alasya always goes down well too.

Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Fat Controller

To keep little grandson LJ entertained during his frequent visits with the oldies MB bought a DVD of Thomas the Tank Engine which he enjoys very much, so much so he wants go to the Island of Sodor.
MB & MDR thought TtT, which is written by a Rev. W.V. Awdrey, was a very conservative, safe program suitable for very young children, so they were pretty surprised when the narrator, in his very best children's program voice, referred to the "Fat Controller". At first they thought they had misheard the narrator but it turns out to be correct and he's the manager of the railway company. The Rev. Awdrey has a very dry sense of humour indeed.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

British Tories on Fire

This would be perfect for the current Queensland state elections, much more entertaining than watching a bunch of mediocre candidates from both sides of the political spectrum pork barreling their way around the state:

"In his speech to Congress, Gordon Brown yet again bottled out of saying sorry for taking Britain to the brink of bankruptcy. So we have set up where you can write an apology note from Gordon Brown and send it on to everyone you think the Prime Minister should say sorry to. Jeremy Hunt, our Spokesman for Online Campaigning, said, "If Gordon Brown is struggling to spit the words out, hopefully our online viral will give him a few ideas."

Another Gourmet Delight

A lovely gift of Marzipan from the Stumpf's in Germany was had by MB via VT en-route to Brisbane in Janauary. This is a most delicious marzipan, not too sweet. A truly delightful, and much appreciated, gift.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


MB was forced to buy the Cairns Post yesterday as she had a long wait at the Doctor's (she may have Dengue Fever).
The Cairns Post doesn't appear to hold to any rigorous standards with regard to factual reporting, literacy and grammar but it seems the good folks at the CP are trail blazing the use of a new word, "Keenie".
An enraged husband* from Machans Beach accused his female neighbour of having a lesbian affair with his wife and stated "She was denying the fact that she had a keenie on my wife."
Apparently this came about when the hapless neighbour sent a thank you card to Mrs & Mrs Enraged Husband and failed to write His name in the card.

Naturally MB googled "keenie" as she hadn't come across this before and came up with the following at:
It appears the Urban Dictionary editors may have to add a second definition. BTW this site has an hilarious definition of "AFL"

*Husband Attacks Lesbian Love Rival, Cairns Post 3 Feb 09

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Banana Fritter Day

The MB family got to enjoy some calorie laden banana fritters and ice cream today as it's JB's birthday (MB's late father). You guessed it, JB's favourite dessert was banana fritters. His favourite meal was a couple of lamb chops cooked in lots of extra fat, a real Aussie classic. He was also a huge fan of freshly shucked natural oysters. A more formal commemoration would have to include all of the above food items (in a room filled with "Drum" cigarette smoke of course!)
MB always has a chuckle when she remembers her Dad returning to Oz after his first trip to Hong Kong and exclaiming that none of the Chinese restaurants there had banana fritter on the menu, he was awfully taken aback. MB could just imagine him winging his way to Hong Kong and dreaming of banana fritters every time he ate out in HK.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Movie Reviews

MB has endured a longish podcast drought due to her Creative Zen MP3 player packing it in last year.
On learning that digital radio broadcasting is being introduced this year she decided to try to future-proof herself by buying an MP3/MP4 player with DAB radio but after lots of googling it seems that there are hardly any portable DAB MP3 players anywhere in the world.
MB has settled instead for a basic Philips 2gb MP3 with FM radio (thanks to her Mum who sent her a Dick Smith voucher for her birthday).
After downloading over three months' worth of podcasts MB is enjoying a feast of Jonathon Dawson film reviews. JD bounces his movie reviews off Tim Cox on ABC radio in Hobart, presenting remarkably funny and entertaining reviews. This program is a real treat if you like dry humour from two unpretentious guys who don't really take anything too seriously.

Fatwa against Smoking

MB congratulates the Ulemas Council in Indonesia for proclaiming a Fatwa prohibiting smoking in public places and also prohibiting children and pregnant women smoking. 
Indonesia must have one of the highest smoking rates in the world and this Fatwa is certainly a novel way to deal with such a serious health issue.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ABC Style Guide

Browsing on the ABC Radio National website MB stumbled on this excellent online style guide.
When writing MB often trips up on grammatical challenges such as accents over the "e" in French words, ie café or résumé.
Buying an Australian style guide sets you back a quite a few dollars, so this online guide is an excellent resource for writers and bloggers.

Well done Aunty.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Veronica Loop Track, Mt Taranaki

As you can see in the photo, MB & MDR managed to do a walk on Mt Taranaki. The pair opted for the 2 hour Veronica Loop track from the North Egmont Visitor Centre in the Egmont National Park. They also detoured to a lookout a bit higher up and met some locals who showed them a better lookout site further up - this is where the photo of the pair was taken.
The weather turned out to be absolutely perfect with not a cloud in the sky to block the view of the cone. The walking tracks are excellent, albeit lots of steps and the National Park is only an easy 30klm from New Plymouth. MB is looking forward to returning some day to tackle some more tracks.
On the way back to NP the duo visited Lake Mangamahoe and were surrounded by a posse of hungry ducks, quacking for some food (shades of the "Penang Botanical Gardens Monkey Incident"). The not so shy ducks really enjoyed the sesame crackers MB & MDR shared with them.
This was also another good spot for yet another photo opportunity...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wilderness in the 'Burbs

This beautiful stream is just down from the Timandra Lodge in New Plymouth where MDR & MB are staying, apparently trout can be caught in this stream too. There is a rather steep track down through the reserve and at night you can spot glow worms with a torch. There are quite a few trails in the reserve and they are really well signposted, a delightful reserve to have on one's doorstep.

Capt'n Chaddy

First full day in New Plymouth and the weather is superb, a great day for a harbour cruise on Happy Chaddy's harbour tour, in his 1953 built British lifeboat. This is a one hour tour that starts with the boat free falling down a slipway into the water, bit like a theme park (Tip: Do this tour on the low tide as the slide will be longer).
Captain Chaddy is a real identity and full of amazing stories, a real old sea salt, during the tour he plays some cheesy sea shanties and takes the boat around some sugarloaf rocks where you can play spot the seal.
The passengers down the back can put out a fishing line and tinny MDR's line picked up a nice sized Pacific Salmon, which the pair cooked up for dinner that night after handing over $2 to have it filleted.

Before the tour the pair dropped into the Govett Brewster Art Gallery which is hailed as the best regional gallery in NZ. It's a very nice venue but the modern "installation" type of art doesn't really do a lot for MB. The coffee shop was pretty good, apart from the snooty harridan at the counter.
MB overindulged the night before at Andre's L'Escargot and had to have an afternoon nap, which severely cut into the touring. Andre's L'Escargot should be added to the NZ Foodie's Hall of Fame, a wonderful restaurant, superb service and a really lovely dinner, venison for MB & duck confit for MDR.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pukekohe to New Plymouth

The duo set out at 8:45am today from Puke for a few days down in New Plymouth. Back in Pukekohe Mike recommended we visit the Waitomo Caves en-route and of course do some hiking around Mt Teriyaki near New Plymouth. As Hamilton is also on the route MB insisted on visting the Hamilton Gardens, with a perfect sunny day for strolling through gardens.
The 120 acre gardens turned out to be the best MB has ever seen in the southern hemisphere with MDR seconding that opinion. There are a series of "paradise" gardens, with themes from Japan, China, India, Italian Renaissance etc. which are stunning. MB also enjoyed the herb garden and the "sustainable backyard" food garden, she also saw for the first time a Chinese gooseberry (kiwifruit) plant, in fruit too. The on-site Cafe was excellent as well. The pair plan to visit again on the way back north as time didn't allow them to explore more.
Next stop was the Piopio berry farm for a picnic lunch on their shady lawn with fresh strawberries and blueberries for dessert, doesn't get much better than this, although pick your own berries would have been fun.
At about 4pm just before New Plymouth is White Cliffs Organic Brewery, dropped in there as well for a taste. MDR inquired as to where the ingredients are sourced and learnt that the hops are bought from Motueka on the South Island and the grain comes all the way from Germany. MB was interested to see that they were selling two litre plastic bottles of beer, just like a big bottles of soft drink.
Arrived in NP not long after and after a bit of tooing and froing (sans Tomtom) found the Timandra Lodge and checked into a little cottage which has turned out to be delightful. The lodge is actually an old mansion set in bushland and boasts a tennis court and outdoor BBQ, no spa though. MDR has his cable TV sports channel and MB has a wireless internet connection, plus a bunch of walking trails at their doorstep.
MDR has found a local acquatic centre and is off doing laps. Dinner tonight at Andre's L'escargot, which has pavlova on the menu - MB figures as it's her birthday she can indulge in her favourite dessert.
Haven't seen the volcano yet, it's shrouded in cloud today. MB can't wait to see it, as volcanoes go it probably rivals Mt Fuji for scenic value.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Walking Mt Treppass in Pukekohe

Just behind Philip & Emma's house is an excellent walk which starts as a boardwalk over some swampy land, then rises steeply through a little patch of forest. The path then switchbacks up to the summit of Mt Treppass where one can enjoy 360 degree views of Pukekohe from the rotunda there. MB is now just about able to do the whole walk up without stopping, good practice for walking Mt Taranaki, near New Plymouth, where the pair are heading to tomorrow for a few days.

Yum Cha at Sunshine, Auckland

MDR & MB visited the concrete jungle (Auckland) yesterday for some retail therapy, a visit to the Maritime Museum and the movies. The pair had one of the best Yum Cha meals they had ever experienced at Sunshine Restaurant in Market Place, just near the waterfront in Auckland CBD. Sunshine was recommended by Lonely Planet and didn't disappoint.
The portions were large, the buns were full of meat and the service was super fast and reasonably priced, 10 out of 10.

Spearfishing in Crayfish Bay, Coromandel

MDR taking advantage of local knowledge. These three young chaps took him to nearby Crayfish Bay where he speared 9 fish.
The young chaps had just bought spearguns that morning and speared 3 fish between them.
Getting to the bay involved a walk up to the southern of the beach at Opito Bay, then a hike over some hilly private farmland to the small cove called "Crayfish Bay". Didn't spot any crays. MDR dubbed the outing the "Biathlon".

Otama Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

MDR & MB visited the very large contingent from Pukekohe making a two week camp at the Otama Beach Summer Campground. This site is a lovely grassy area with very basic facilities - long drop dunnies and water fed to parts of the campground from an adjacent dam. It's a true getaway with no power and no mobile phone access.
The beach is stunning, bordered by a very large sand dune and one never tires of the view to the outlying islands off the beach. Walking over the dune is something else, the sand is white, silky and feels almost sensuous.
The Pukekohe crew are great fun, incredibly generous and could not have made MDR & MB more welcome. A spare tent and airbed was available so MDR & MB could stay a couple of nights. The pair abided by the camp rules and did the dishes that night with the other new arrival, Janine. Dinner numbers on the first night were 21 and the next night increased to 28.
Philip was pretty chuffed with his new speargun, he had speared a fish without even diving underwater, just merely floated on the surface in a life jacket. He was giving MDR a hard time about it and challenging him to an Aussie v NZ competition and pressing neat tequila on MDR to give him a hangover. This spurred MDR the next day to head out with Philip's speargun and spear 9 fish. Yet to hear of Philip's latest catches as he is still there and out of phone range.
MDR & MB happened to be there while NZ was having a heatwave and did catch a bit of sunburn, but it still wasn't as hot as home in Cairns.
Lots of holiday homes in this area and MB would love to go back for a longer stay some other time.

Fruits of the Sea at "Club Med" Otama Beach

A bucket of NZ Greenlip Mussels harvested by Jeremy, Janine & MDR at low tide on Otama Beach.
Jeremy cooked up a storm with these mussels, they were absolutely superb and went down a treat with the 28 guests at the campsite!

First day at Otama Beach

Took this pic during the "heatwave". More pics on flickr.

Coromandel Oysters

MB & MDR spotted this shop on the road just in front of the oyster beds in a large bay south of Coromandel township. Naturally the pair visited so that MDR could get a fresh oyster fix.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


If you heard an advertisement on the radio in Australia offering security services from a company called "Cactus Security" would you take it seriously? MB heard just such an ad. yesterday on the radio whilst driving into Auckland. This company really exists. Not long after that she spotted a "Gull" service station. She wouldn't go near that servo with a bargepole. A few days before in a fashion boutique in Whitianga (pronounced "Fitianga") browsing for a hat, MB was told to try the "Show Shop" further down the street. MB was a bit perplexed as she wasn't sure what a "Show Shop" could be. The sales assistant repeated it again a bit more slowly and was actually saying "Shoe Shop". MB never ceases to be amazed at the never ending variations of the English language that develop between disparate groups.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Rooseville Reserve, Pukekohe

MDR & MB didn't do their after dinner hilltop walk (just behind Philip's house) last night, got carried away watching episodes of Kenny on DVD. So today they went to a large reserve in Pukekohe which is cris-crossed with walking tracks. Today is another picture perfect day, again with just a hint of a cool breeze.
The reserve resembles a mini rainforest, filled with Totara trees and native palms, even found some indigenous art! Reminds MB of Summer Heights High. Graffiti appears to be a big problem in NZ, it's absolutely everywhere. MB even noticed some of the orange direction tags nailed to trees on the walking trail had been painted over with black spray paint.

Downtown Pukekohe

Nice olde worlde shop in main street of Pukekohe. This lovely old sign is a classic.