Friday, 31 May 2013

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Australia Zoo

My plus one is British, recently arrived in Australia and keen to have as many great Australian and Brisbane experiences as possible. Beaches, great cafes, hot sunny winter days (he's been loving those) and tropical island escapes. Of course, no visit to Australia is complete without a trip to Australia Zoo. In fact he told me that Australia Zoo was 'number one on his list of one things-to-do in Australia'.

Croc displays at Australia Zoo.

So when was told he'd have last Friday off from work, I hastily took a day off as well and that's how we came to be cashing in our tickets at the 'Steve Irwin Zoo' gates on a glorious week day morning.

 A surprisingly active Shingeback Lizard

In the large Tasmanian Devil enclosure, this was the only one we spotted. Tuckered out and enjoying the sunshine. 

A Cassowary.

A Dingo surveying the land.

Let me tell you, if you can get to Australia Zoo on a weekday, perhaps especially in winter, it is worth it. There were so few people around, even less small children, it makes moving around and seeing the exhibits easy and much more enjoyable.

I had sent the Boy a link to the show times on the Australia Zoo website (see it here) and he came back with an impressive day plan of shows. We missed the tortoise feeding at 10 because I was having a lazy breakfast at Gramarcy (delicious, must try) but we made it to the Wildlife Warriors show, which is my favourite for the incredible bird displays, the tiger show (Boy's favourite), we fed the elephants at 3pm and then rounded off the day by watching the Asian Small-Clawed Otter feeding at 3:30. The only show we missed was the croc show. Shameful, perhaps, but we saw a croc display  in the Wildlife Warriors show and tigers and elephants could not be missed.

A Jabiru flys into the crocoseum from her enclosure on the other side of the zoo. All the other birds moved too quickly to photograph. 


The crocodile display as part of the 12noon Wildlife Warriors show. 

Displaying natural behaviours in the tiger show.

It was a truly great day out. We took our time going around all the exhibits, took a couple of hundred photos of us posing with all the animals, munched on a home-made picnic while watching macaws and kites circle the crocoseum. We fed the kangaroos, another of my favourite zoo activities. Such a simple, enjoyable interaction with our native animals, I can never get tired of it.


Feeding our little group of 'roos.

My Boy could not get over the difference between Australia Zoo and zoos he had visited in England. Obviously here a big difference is in the activity of the animals. Being in warm sunshine, even in winter, encourages them to be more active and visible, rather than curled up against the cold and rain in the secret holes of their enclosures. Also, the level of interaction Australia Zoo in particular allows with the animals is outstanding. Because the animals are more active in their relatively open and visitor-friendly enclosures, you can get up-close and personal. The Zoo also provides a lot of additional opportunities to see the animals by taking them on walks around the zoo and feeding sessions, such as with the elephants.  All of this helps to create a memorable day.

Having a real Moment when Bashi, the male tiger stalked up to the glass and vigorously licked his face.We would as a result splurge on a painting of Bashi's paw prints made during the tiger show. All proceeds to tiger conservation efforts in Asia.

A male Cheetah being taken for a walk to survey his territory. 
The smaller but cheekier otters being fed.

A hint from the keepers; come to the 3pm elephant feeding. There is the same about of food and a third of the number of people as the 10:30am session, so you can go around the feeding line multiple times really quickly.

 Asian Elephants feeding during the official show and then I get to feed them a few hours later.

The Africa exhibit was still under construction the last time I visited in 2010, so I was glad to see it on this trip. Unfortunately, it was being re-constructed to make space for the baby rhinoceroses  that will go on display from 22 June. So the giraffe were hidden away elsewhere as their enclose was having a redesign. Disappointing for me, because they are one of my favourite animals.

Southern White Rhinoceros taking a nap.

The ticket price to get in may seem steep - between $53 and $59 dollars for an adult, depending on if you have a discount voucher, which you can get if you are an RACQ member - but when you consider the over all experience and that it is most certainly a whole day trip, it is worth the money. We were there for five and a half hours, making the ticket price an average of $10 per hour. Pretty good for the quality of the entertainment.You can also save a lot of money by taking your own food as we did and not being tempted into any of the official photo opportunities, tempting as they may be.


So that is one more experience ticked off the list. Thanks to Australia Zoo for a tremendous day out. It was everything we were both looking forward to!



You can also read the Boy (Pumba as he is affectionately known) on his brand new blog; Pumba's International Escape.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Five for Friday

Happy Friday everyone! It is a particularly splendid day for me because I spontaneously was given a day off, so I am off to the Sunshine Coast to eat, drink and be merry.
Still, a five-for-Friday;

Scientific 7 minute work out. Even I could manage that.



Mr and Mrs Smith; luxury and boutique hotels. I can't afford any of these but a girl can dream. And drool a little in hopeful anticipation.

And on a more sobering note;

Excellent analysis by Time on our costly and ineffectual asylum-seeker policy.




Thursday, 16 May 2013

Anywhere Theatre Festival Review: Sans Love

Sans Love is the story of a young woman named Mercy who is surrounded by people afflicted with heartbreak. The loss of a grandmother, husband, girl-of-your-dreams, cat or the first love of your life leaves people desolated and hurting and perhaps never wanting to feel that way again. Enter Mercy. She has a special gift. She can ‘fix you’. She can take away the heartbreak; quite literally remove it from your body. The downside is that you will never love again. 

Sans Love is an utterly delightful and human piece of physical theatre. The cast of 7, including a chorus of 5, play off each other in a fast-talking, leaping, action-packed 70 minute investigation of love and loss and how we feel when love does not return.

Mercy is the protagonist but it’s the chorus that makes this story. Perfectly timed to interact with each other and the audience, they fling out lines and songs while throwing themselves all over the room. I particularly enjoyed their performance of the typical broken-hearted playlist. So accurate and sad but very funny. Each of the chorus members has been ‘healed’ by Mercy, a decision some are accepting of and others are purely angry about. They now surround her and help her in her treatments for the never-ending line of the broken-hearted.

Sans Love is playing in one room in an art gallery and the artwork on the wall, including some beautiful nude photographs, accounts for the shows’ ‘nudity’ rating. The set could be part of the exhibition proper, taking up the centre of the room, with props of the detritus of dates and relationship strung from the ceiling.

This is a clever, intricately-thought out show on a topic that everyone can relate to. You could feel the enjoyment amongst the audience, all huddled as we were on cushions on the floor, as we were made to laugh at the accuracy of the stages of heartbreak and get quietly depressed with the stories of loss that made each person choose to have their love removed.

Sans Love is being performed in Love Love Studio in the heart of Teneriffe, in a great spot if you want to have dinner / drink / dessert around the show.  Love Love Studio is one of those great random space that used to be a house and is now a bit run-down so it is now used as a gallery with a skate shop and probably a few other temporary residents as well. The current exhibition is suitably themed on love and loss.
 
Sans Love is a truly fun and clever piece of theatre. The sort of show you want friends to see and enjoy so they can understand the value of start-up theatre and initiatives such as ATF.

Review of Sans Love presented as part of the 2013 Anywhere Theatre Festival.

Tickets: All tickets $20
Dates: Wed 15 to Sat 18 May @ 7:30pm
Place: 27 Florence Street, Teneriffe, 4006
Duration: 70mins
Transport & Places of Interest: Love Love Studio is on the City Glider and 199 bus routes (stopping at Commercial Road) and is less than a 400-metre walk from the Teneriffe ferry terminal.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Anywhere Theatre Festival Review: Viva Verdi


In the thoroughly modern Ecosciences Precinct by the Boggo Road Gaol, Opera Oceania honoured the 200th birthday of Maestro Giuseppe Verdi with their production Viva Verdi.

The repertoire was a selection of some of Verdi’s best-known arias from opera such as Rigoletto and La Traviata with a few surprises from Otello and Il Trovatore. Fortunately, each aria was preceded by a short explanation for those amongst the audience who were not clear on their overly-complicated opera plots.

In such a no-nonsense venue, accompanied only by a piano keyboard (played expertly by John Woods) the audience can truly appreciate the magnificence of the human voice. With no orchestra to hide faults or override the pianissimo passages there is only the voice and the words for the opera-loving audience to appreciate.

As a venue, the Ecosciences Precinct certainly had the soaring ceilings reminiscent of concert halls but the all-glass surrounds and overhanging walkways did no favours to the Soprano and Mezzo-Soprano in particular. Joshua Rowe, Baritone, put on the performance of the day with 'Per me giunto รจ il di supremo' from Don Carlos. His magnificent tone did not disappear into the glass walls and he imbued the aria with tragic emotion as the dying Rodrigo.

Viva Verdi was produced by Opera Oceania. You can find out more about them through their Facebook page.


Review of Viva Verdi presented as part of the 2013 Anywhere Theatre Festival.


Anywhere Theatre Festival Review: Overexposed



Overexposed is a show about dating but it may not be the best place to take a prospective date. For a start, you don’t get to sit next to the person you come with. On arrival, you are shown in and separated to encourage you to meet a new date for the evening (though they, like you, are probably taken). Also, the content may be a little too much for potential couples. You don’t want to take a date to a show about sex if you’re still unsure whether or not you want to sleep with said date.

Overexposed is a mix of stand-up, music and film with just a tad of audience interaction thrown in. My poor date was made to participate and he survived admirably and as a bonus, learned the phrase ‘as you wish’ (from The Princess Bride). The show is open, honest and genuinely funny at times.

If you think you’ll be shocked, don’t worry. Though this may be a cabaret about relationship and sexual mis-adventure, there is not much to horrify or embarrass, despite the Adults Only rating.  Unless you have very fine sensibilities, in which case go see 1066: The Bayeux Tapestry Brought to Life. No sex or foul language in that one.

This is a show with some great ideas and a lot of work has gone in to it, but it just didn’t quite hang together. It needed more time to fully develop all the devices that the creative minds behind it imagined rather than stuffing the show full of half-completed ideas. Separating attendees – sure, but why? After some uncomfortable chit chat that was it. Film of people discussing relationships in cafes – yes it went with the theme but didn’t have a place in the show. This is still an enjoyable show but I think I’d like to see the full hour and a half version more.

Overexposed is presented in the foyer of the Bell Brothers Building in Fortitude Valley.  A slightly run down location intermittently filled with arts companies and start-ups, the foyer has a quiet grandeur to it and was an ideal location for a one-person cabaret. Intimate, with stage space a sweeping staircase for the performer to descend, it was a delightful impromptu theatre venue.

If you enjoy plays, relationship dramas and / or are a little dramatic when it comes to your own forays in the mess that can be romance, you should enjoy Overexposed. It’s a fun show that deserves the time (and money) to develop it further. 

Overexposed is showing this weekend and tickets are available through the Anywhere Theatre Festival website


Review of Overexposed presented as part of the 2013 Anywhere Theatre Festival.  

Friday, 10 May 2013

Anywhere Theatre Festival Review: 1066: The Bayeux Brought to Life

If you’ve ever taken an interest in European history or secretly enjoyed history at school or perhaps you have children you want to get interested in that huge general topic, take yourself to Small Crown Production’s 1066: The Bayeux Tapestry Brought to Life, performed in the Collector’s Cafe at the Queensland Museum.

Some context: the Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 70 metres in length that tells with beautiful detail the story of Harold Earl of Essex and Duke William of Normandy, who were both at one time designated heirs to the crown of England. When King Edward the Confessor died in 1066, Harold was proclaimed King, inciting the Norman invasion of England which culminated in the Battle of Hastings. William (known to history as William the Conqueror) triumphed and was crowned King, beginning the Norman occupation of England. 
 
1066: The Bayeux Tapestry Brought to Life opens where the tapestry begins, with events years prior to the final battle. First up we meet Harold Earl of Essex, a great warrior devoted to England, who having successfully quelled uprisings in Wales has been charged by King Edward to travel to Normandy and inform Duke William that he (William) is the chosen heir to the crown of England. Not a pleasant task for a man who thought he would be named so himself. Both men were skilled soldiers and politicians and the show sets up their differences in personality and perspective and how they came to believe that they were the rightful heir to the throne of England.

Small Crown Productions have done a tremendous job of fitting a complex story with a cast of thousands in to one hour and a cast of seven. They are helped by the ingenious shifting scenery which could be taken apart to construct keeps, ships and castles. I was not the only audience member who when watching the cast yell heave to and construct the ships for the invasion, wanted to leap up and lend a hand. Simple block-coloured costumes helped the audience identify the key players as each cast member played several roles on both sides of the feud.

The cast were clearly enjoying themselves and worked hard to deliver the story in all its’ dramatic glory. James Trigg, who portrayed Harold, has the square jaw, beard and booming voice evocative of a youthful Henry VIII and a great seriousness of purpose, which contrasted well to the more jovial but equally determined William, played by Silvan Rus. The team behind the show, lighting, sounds, animation, costuming and of course the Director Paul Adams, have also done a tremendous job on all the important minutiae the made the performance so enjoyable.

If you want to brush up on the tale before the performance, there is a scroll explaining the events and key scenes from the tapestry for you to peruse.  The scroll also pointed out key characters and pieces of scenery that would be appearing in the production.

Small Crown Production’s 1066: The Bayeux Tapestry Brought to Life is a dramatic piece of history brought to life with great enthusiasm. Educational and enjoyable, it is an excellent original production.



Tickets can be purchased through the Anywhere Theatre Festival website or at the door.  

See also the Small Crown Productions website or follow them on Twitter

Five for Friday

Neil Gaiman on entitlement issues; namely fans expecting George R. R. Martin to produce his next book immediately.

Some of the world's amazing places.

Charming artwork and obscure words.

Frank Warren, 'the most trusted strange in the world' is the keeper of post secret. Started out as a spontaneous project, people from all over the world tell him their secrets. He now posts them anonymously, of course, on his website Post Secret. The secrets we can never tell can be told to him. Read more on Mamma Mia.

Phoodie: my latest food blog discovery!

Image courtesy of Phoodie.com.au

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Anywhere Theatre Festival Review: The Travelling Sisters Let Loose

Nestled in a quiet corner of Kelvin Grove is a stately Queensland, complete with sculpted lawn and wide verandas. In the high-ceilinged living room, two sisters who stumbled on the house late one night have made their disorderly home and have now invited an audience to come and hear their tales of love, loss and youthful confusion.

The Travelling Sisters Let Loose is an eclectic 2-person show of original songs, personal stories, fantastical tales and laugh-out-loud moments. The two actors and creators of the show, Lucy Fox and Ell Sachs, threw heart, soul and a whole lot of energy into entertaining their audience. They leapt from couch to table, flirted, chatted and sang for our entertainment as we collectively inhabited their personal space.
The most enjoyable moments for me came courtesy of Lucy and her alliterative original compositions. Her Tim Minchin like lyrics told a tale cowboys, shamans, seas voyages and pirates accompanied by delightful animation and Ell’s sound effects and well-captured characters. At one point I thought the whole audience would be called upon to help Ell construct a blanket fort, but it was only my wishful thinking.   
If you like theatre with extras, this is a wonderful show for you. Tea and coffee on arrival and delicious brownies for sale, bags of popcorn when the film began and home-made biscuits at the half-way point. There was even a friendly house cat for you to stroke, to heighten the feeling of snuggling down in a dilapidated but welcoming home. 
The Travelling Sisters Let Loose is an intimate performance, with only some 20 people allowed in to the living room to get comfy on couches, armchairs and cushions.  The show is sold out for Friday 10 May but there are four more shows. Travelling Sisters is a welcoming, personal, enjoyable show with a little something for every audience member. Particularly enjoyable on a chilly night.

Review of The Travelling Sisters Let Loose, presented as part of the 2013 Anywhere Theatre Festival.

Buy tickets online or at the door.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Anywhere Theatre Festival 2013

Brisbane’s Anywhere Theatre Festival opens today and in some exciting news, I am one of the volunteer reviewers! 

The Anywhere Theatre Festival gets theatre out of its traditional confines and into accessible, atmospheric public spaces. Shows may be held in foyers, in private garages, in the Museum or parks.

This is also a great chance for the dozens of small production companies in Brisbane and Queensland, who may not be able to afford to rent theatre space, to show off their talent and creativity.

If you’ve never heard of the Festival, check out the website here; http://anywherefest.com/ 

This festival is all about accessibility. Offering a range fun, innovative theatre shows, there is something to suit just about everyone. The tickets are affordable and the locations are the essence of accessible. Unsure about being in QPAC? How about seeing a show in the foyer of the Bell Brothers Building on Brunswick Street?

ATF starts today and runs to 18 May. Check out the program, or if you know me and feel like coming along to one of the shows I’m seeing and giving me the benefit of your opinion, these are the shows I’m excited to be seeing;

The travelling sisters set loose – Wednesday 8 May
Overexposed – Friday 10 May
Viva Verdi – Saturday 11 May
Sans Love – Wednesday 15 May
Three Easy Steps – Thursday 16 May
Au audience with Tomas Ford – Thursday 16 May
A world without sex – Friday 17 May

Book review: A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage



Tom Standage’s A History of the World in 6 Glasses is a pint-sized history of humanity and our beverages of choice. Starting with beer and moving through to the cola-based beverages that can be found in red and blue cans in just about any country in the world, Standage takes us on a cruise through the world’s most popular beverages.

The story begins with beer in the ancient world. Beer was first brewed around the time of man’s monumental lifestyle change from hunter-gatherer to farmer. Likely created entirely by accident in the Fertile Crescent, beer was man’s first mass-produced affordable alcohol.

The alcoholic fermentation of fruit was likely discovered much earlier than beer, however the expense of using fermented fruit to produce an alcohol was prohibitive. Beer, made on cereal grains and water was affordable to all people. Wine came to the forefront thanks to the Greek and Roman proclivity for ‘the water of life’.

Skipping much of the dark ages and medieval times, Standage moves to the golden age of exploration and the role Rum played in maritime history, as well as in the history of the slave trade as conducted by almost all European countries and the beginnings of revolutionary rumblings in North America.
Coffee is heralded by the Age of Reason in London, while tea discusses to the age of empire and revolutionary America (think the Boston Tea Party) and cola-based beverages are the era of globalisation.

This is a light historical read. Written in accessible language and broken down into short-story sections, Standage has an excellent knack for writing enjoyable non-fiction.

This is not a book bogged down in referencing and unnecessary detail. This is popular history that anyone could read if they have even a modicum of interest in history. If however, you are more of a buff, this is not a book for you. The over-simplification of complex webs of circumstances and situations make for digestible reading if not quite reassuring accuracy.

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