Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Which dwarf are you?

My delightful friend Rachael sent this to me for a few minutes entertainment, so I am passing it on to you this Tuesday morning. I think it's inspired by the movie Mirror Mirror, which I sadly have not seen.

For the record, I'm Grumpy and Rachael is Bashful.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy from the top of the New York Times Tower

This is a live camera feed from the 51st story of the New York Times Tower as Hurricane Sandy comes in over New York.

There are trackers and images all over the net, and the storm hasn't even struck yet.

One I've seen a few times is these images of the eerily abandoned New York Subway.

You can check out the latest news from #Sandy on Twitter. You do not need a twitter account to check it out or follow any of the links you see. There are scores of updates every minute.


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Looking back on uni group projects

I know perfectly well what group projects in university were supposed to teach me, but this pie chart is so much closer to the reality.

Don't tell me you don't feel the same way.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Exciting news for the Brisbane fashion-lover

A new store is about to open in the shiny new Wintergarden complex: Designer Archives.

Designer Archives is a depository of designer clothing and accessories for those of us who might lust after a Chanel 2.55 and are happy to accept a version from a season or two ago.

The brain child of three sisters who have sourced selected wares from all over the world; auctions, stylists and film wardrobes. Designer Archives will stock pieces that are from previous seasons and items that were immediate classic sell-outs at the time.

Prices will reflect that these are no longer fresh items, but that they are still designer. If you want Chanel pumps you pay for them, even if it is at a quarter of the price. It’s a kind of high-end vintage op-shop in the manner of vintage stores or flea markets you find in European capitals, where you never know what genuine treasures you might stumble upon. They will also be opening an online store in the next few weeks.  

I cannot afford the latest designer wear. However, I have learned from the purchase of the one current designer piece in my wardrobe – a pair of vintage Bally heels – that provided you choose well, the investment is well worth it. They are amongst the most comfortable shoes in my entire collection, despite being 3inch strappy stilettos. Though I may not technically be able to afford even the cut-price wares at Designer Archive, I suspect I will become a regular visitor because when I spot those Blahniks that I fall instantly in love with, I will be happy to lay down my credit card to make both my feet and my wardrobe happy.

Designer Archives in Wintergarden. If a city-based friend checks it out, I’d love to know what you think! 

Five for Friday no. 42

A book for the children: an alphabet of terrible advice.

Another reason to go to Paris - like you needed one. An art installation of an inflatable trampoline bridge across the river Seine.

25 most devoted fan bases. Seriously interesting.

 Fans of the show 'Community' come in at no.13.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

TV review: Pan Am

I am quite aware of how ridiculous it must seem, to be reviewing a TV show that only lasted one season before getting cancelled earlier this year.

However, I have only just discovered Pan Am and I thought the chances that other people had heard of it at all weren't high so I was safe to do a review without too much ‘ last season…’ eye rolling.

Pan Am, named after the iconic Pan American World Airways, follows a group of stewardesses and pilots living the glamorous life of Pan Am employees in the swinging 60s.  All the ingredients for a successful drama are there from episode one. The 60s had so much going for it as a decade for screen drama. Women's liberation, the Cold War, the breakdown of the traditional class systems to be replaced by an idealised meritocracy and the rise of the working woman. It's all there in Pan Am, perfectly exemplified by the 20-something girls taking charges of their lives, not prepared to settle just yet for marriage and children, but preferring to assert their independence and take to the skies.

The four stewardesses who make up the core team in Pan Am are led by Maggie (Christina Ricci), the purser and also the rebellious at-home-bohemian who is enjoying life to the full. Karine Vanasse plays the subtly chic and world-wise Colette, the only non-American on the team. Laura (Maggie Robbie) is the newest recruit, having run away from her picture-perfect wedding to join her sister Kate (Kelli Garner) in her life as an independent woman. But behind the perfect eyeliner their stories are so much more. Colette lived through the horrors of Nazi-occupied France, co-pilot Ted is intensely angry and unable to deal with the changing class system and Kate is drafted into the CIA and slowly drawn deeper and deeper into Cold War espionage.

Maggie, Kate, Colette and Laura. Exemplary Pan Am stewardesses.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Two of the best things on the internet

Found yesterday and both make me very happy. This first one in particular.

Cat Bounce.LOVE IT!

Apparently the Best Gif Ever. I don't think so, but it is pretty damn good none the less.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Street Food Australia: a Pozible Campaign

Why do we have no street food culture in Australia? It is one of my gripes about this country (which I love, don’t get me wrong) that we have no street food when most other countries in the world have. Street food and the culture that surrounds it is democratising and enlivening. Anyone and everyone can stop to grab a quick, cheap bite of something simple and delicious at their local hole in the wall or street stand. It exposes you to different people and cultures you may not otherwise come in daily contact with. Carts, like cafes, enliven footpaths and public spaces. Which brings me to a Pozible Campaign I can really get behind

Street Food Australia is a start-up social enterprise dedicated to helping migrants start their own business in the food industry. This will not only bring some vitalising and enjoyable street food to citizens such as ourselves, it will give people in need of a fresh start a hand up and the possibility of an independent income.

There can be no arguing that Australian cuisine is truly international. Lacking our own solid national culinary identity, we love to indulge in the cuisine of other cultures. We have Indian takeaway on Tuesdays, tapas on Fridays and treat ourselves to the most deluxe of Japanese and French cuisine when we treat ourselves to a special meal out. If you go to ‘modern Australian’ restaurant, you are more than likely to see those French, Japanese and Spanish influences splashed across your main dish. I for one would be delighted to walk down a Brisbane street as spot a dumpling cart or one serving Afghan, Burmese or Sudanese cuisine.

I think this is a wonderful opportunity to provide meaningful assistance to people who deserve a chance to start a new life in Australia. As a side benefit, we get to further expand the culinary diversity of our tables and palates.  If you're interested to read more about or are already keen to support - check out the campaign on Pozible. Depending on how much you give, you get goodies to say thank you!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

In January 2007, I went to Vietnam with my older sister. It was a very different trip - we started in Hanoi, then went about 2 hours south to a city called Ninh Binh. We circled around to the coast, to  Haiphong, and then we went to Ha Long Bay. We didn't get a tour, we just showed up, and this was possibly a misstep on our part, with some interesting results...

We went to the docks on the day we arrived, and booked a tour for the following day. We stayed in a random hotel in Ha Long City that night. (We actually spent the evening out on the beach with some beers, which was kind of nice. The enormous rats in the drains nearby were less nice...) The following day, we were brought to our "private" boat, only to find the tour operator had booked two other tourists on it with us, and they'd paid about a third what we paid. Lunch was also not included, we had to go and buy bread and Oreos and Coke before we left.

The trip itself was not too bad - we followed all the other tour boats out to the islands, and we got to sit on the roof of the boat. We went to see the Cave of Wonders, and then another island where we climbed to the lookout at the top. When we got back to land, we went to dinner, and the owner of the restaurant asked us what we had been doing. We showed him the boat tour operator's card, and he took one look and told us it was 'mafia'. Now, he may have been referring to the whole "private boat that actually had other tourists on it" rip-off, but... Well, we decided it was good enough that we got out in one piece.

Not actually our boat - this is a fancier version.
Four years later, I like to think that B and I benefited slightly from my previous experience. We booked a tour with the Kangaroo Cafe in Hanoi. (Their website is a little eye-bending, but they really provided an excellent, high quality tour for us. The owner, Max, was super-helpful and friendly.) Despite the 2007 experience, I had always thought staying overnight on Ha Long Bay would be kind of amazing, so the tour we picked out was actually two nights; one on the boat, and one at Cat Ba Island resort, where, apparently, we would get to see monkeys.

So, we showed up at the Cafe at about 7am, ready for a bus to take us to the tour boat at Ha Long Bay. We had four other tourists with us, all British - a couple, and a pair of young guys. They were all travelling through Asia, and, as happens so often with randoms you meet, especially when you're sharing meals, it was pretty easy for us all to get along. We also had a tour guide, who was very nice but told some kind of appalling jokes.

Unfortunately, on the two-hour drive out to Ha Long Bay, the weather was already turning. We'd been lucky so far, to come to Vietnam in monsoon season and not really be affected by the rain. (The storms were downright pleasant in Hoi An.) We boarded the boat, explored the rooms we were assigned, then went to the dining room for a fairly amazing three-course lunch. The boat was still moored in the harbour, which didn't really bother anyone until our tour guide came and let us know that the coast guard wasn't giving us permission to leave. Apparently there had been one too many tourist boats capsizing in the heavy weather, and they'd prefer not to risk it.

The news cast a bit of a downer on the next few hours, but we still hung around and started to get to know each other. Nothing like shared disappointment to bring a bunch of strangers together. Outside, the weather was definitely pretty dark and gloomy, but the rain seemed more like showers, rather than downpour. The British folks especially couldn't understand why we couldn't go out in this; they claimed that in Britain, this weather would be classified as a nice day!

Then, at around 3pm, the coast guard gave us the go ahead to leave! They got the boat going, and we chugged out of the habour, into the bay. It was still raining, so photo opportunities were limited, which was a shame since the sight of the dark, mountain-like islands appearing through the grey cloud and rain was fairly picturesque. (Maybe for someone with a better camera than mine...)

On the first day, I think we were supposed to tour a few of the islands. Due to the delay, we only made it to the Cave of Wonders. We got there just in time, right before it close, which actually meant that all the other tourists were gone and we had the place to ourselves. It was exactly the same combination of amazing rock formations and hilarious Vegas lighting that I remembered from the trip with my sister.

Pretty nice digs...nice view...
We returned to the boat, and set of for a bay between some islands where we would moor for the night. The staff served dinner - another three delicious three course meal in the dining room - and we had quite a few drinks. B and I hadn't really been partying during our trip, and this wasn't strictly partying anyway, but it was the closest we got. And honestly, drinking on the rooftop deck of a tour boat in Ha Long Bay is not a bad way to spend some time, let me tell you. (The drinks weren't included in the cost of the tour, so at the end of the night we got a bill we had to settle. We were alarmed to find it came to almost 1,700,000 dong - by far the most we'd spent on anything in Vietnam, excluding tours and travel tickets. Of course, once we converted the currency, we realised it was all of $75, and we've spent far more than that at bars in Brisbane, so it's all a matter of perspective.)

So, we spent the evening on the boat, mostly on the roof, looking at the sky and what we could see of the islands around us. There were several other tour boats moored in the bay with us, including one or two that seemed to be having dance parties or karaoke or something. Snatches of music kept floating across the water when the wind was blowing the right way.
The karaoke coming from the boat on the left
was kind of terrifying.

In the morning, we went for a swim before breakfast. The water was the same salt as you get in any ocean, and the diving competitions we had off the first and second levels of the boat kind of negated any ideas of reverence or mysticism, but something about swimming in a world heritage site still seemed a bit strange and special to me. It was cool.

After breakfast, we got the bad news; Cat Ba Island was flooded from the rain, so we wouldn't be able to stay for the second night of our tour. The boat did dock there to pick something up - we could see how the water level had risen above the jetty - and then we headed back to Ha Long City. The tour guide took us to a restaurant for lunch (I swear I ate more on this tour than we had been eating for our whole trip) but then we got back on the bus to Hanoi. Kangaroo Cafe was kind enough to offer a partial refund, as well, and they were apologetic considering flooding wasn't exactly something they could control.

So, we got rained out of Ha Long Bay. At least we got to see some of it, and I don't know about B, but I had a great time on the boat. We had an extra day in Hanoi, as well, and our hotel didn't care that we were back a day earlier than we said we would be. Another trip to the Bay with mixed results, but hey, there was no mafia this time...

Ha Long Bay - one of the must-see places in Vietnam.

When I watched Twilight through the bottom of a wine glass

As I have previously mentioned, I have never read any of the Twilight series. Instead, I have read the entire list of Mark Reads blog posts from when he read the books. They are hilarious! And hateful. He loathes the books, as do most other readers and reviewers, with the obvious exception of teenage girls with strange ideas about sexuality and what is acceptable behaviour in a 'loving' relationship.

Putting my judgemental hat on; everything I know about this series leads me to think it is tragic and truly awful and a terrible book for young women to be reading. 

However, for some ill-judged reasons I decided a little while ago that while I will never read the books, I will try to watch the movies. I think I felt I was missing out on a significant if unfortunate piece of pop culture. Like if I'd never seen the Old Spice ad, read Harry Potter or watched Star Wars (none of which are unfortunate but all of which are vital artefacts of our modern culture). 

So on Friday night I armed myself with a bottle of plonk red and an empty house and I sat down to watch 'Twilight'. I also decided to text Jane throughout the evening and perhaps even send out some tweets. Because there is nothing like Twitter for over-sharing.

Here is a selection of texts and tweets I sent out that night:

Half a bottle (of wine) down, about to start watching and already regretting this. I hate the menu music!!!
This movie is creepy and suspiciously green-tinted already. #Twilightwhiledrunk
Second bottle opened for second half of the movie. How can this be a kid's film, it's so bad on the liver!?!

Bella Swan; least interesting character ever devised? Yes. Fact. #Twilightwhiledrunk 

Wow. What genuinely tragic special effects. This movie was made in the 80s right? The Princess Bride is more realistic. #Twilightwhiledrunk 

Tom Cruise as the Vampire Lestat was scarier and more intimidating than this bunch of sparkling butterflies. #Twilightwhiledrunk

I think watching this film without reading the book is like doing the same thing with Harry Potter; you miss all the subtext. Except in this case, there is no subtext.
2 hours of my life I'm never getting back. I am now going to drink the rest of this bottle of wine so my evening wasn't a complete waste of time. 


So now the big question; do I keep going and watch the next one? While drunk, obviously.

Friday, 19 October 2012

So, I've been watching The Borgias. And I have to say, I give it two thumbs up. It's got a great cast, wonderful costuming and set dressing, and it's full of murder, sex and intrigue. Exactly my kind of TV. Although, really, what's not to like about a show about a controversial Pope and his illegitimate children? (Especially one created by Neil Jordan. Yes, that Neil Jordan.)

The Pope plotting with Cesare.
The show starts off with the death of Pope Innocent VIII, and Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, played by Jeremy Irons, immediately begins his machinations to succeed him. His eldest son, Cesare Borgia, played by Francois Arnaud, is Bishop of Pamplona and his father's right-hand man when it comes to bribes and threats. He helps to ensure Rodrigo's ascendancy, and then he goes on to protect his father's rule and the rest of the Borgia family during the ongoing power struggle. He enlists Micheletto, an exceptionally effective hitman played by the awesome Sean Harris, to assist him. Jeremy Irons is excellent as the manipulative Pope, and Arnaud and Harris share excellent master-and-servant chemistry. (Irons' voice always reminds me of Uncle Scar from the Lion King, it's an association I cannot erase, but in this context I find it completely appropriate.)

The show also includes the infamous Lucrezia Borgia. Played by Holliday Grainger, she is first shown as young teenager, unspoilt and lovely. She befriends her father's new mistress, Guilia Farnese, and begins to learn what her role in life will be - someone with little power unless she uses her beauty and wit to her best advantage. Lucrezia's mother Vanozza makes up the third in this triangle of women. She portrays Rodrigo's former mistress and mother of his children, cast over by him once he became Pope.

Guilia and Lucrezia.
The casting here is excellent; Grainger successfully conveys innocence, followed by a growing awareness of her effect on men and capacity for manipulation, and Lotte Verbeek plays Guilia with the kind of guarded awareness and restraint you'd expect from a woman in her position. Johanne Whalley plays Vanozza, and the moments between the three of them are mined with the underlying subtext of the bitterly limited options women had open to them in their lives. Men held all the power, and women were lucky if they were loved enough or pretty enough to be spoken to. Even when they were loved, it was dicey; Lucrezia is bargained off at 14, sold into marriage as part of a larger plan to consolidate Rodrigo's power against threat of a French invasion.

The Pope, getting a headache from his Cardinals.
This show would also, of course, be nothing without its design. The sets and costuming are spectacular, creating a beautiful visual aesthetic that highlights and complements the characters and storyline very strongly. It's not a completely realistic look - everyone's a lot cleaner than they probably would have been, for starters, and it doesn't quite get to HBO-levels of realism (eg. Deadwood, where you feel like you can smell everyone through the TV screen). But there's just enough realism, so that even though some of the costumes are stiff and new, you do still get a clear sense that this was how people lived and interacted, with all these manners and rules, and in these huge houses, or in the Pope's chambers. (There is also the occasional bit of dodgy CGI, but that's most often in the long shots of what's supposed to be 15th century Rome, so I feel I can excuse it.)

Some of the marketing for this show described Rodrigo as the first Godfather, with Cesare as the first consigliere and Lucrezia as the first mob princess. While this is possibly appropriate for Cesare - he was already fairly unscrupulous, and his new BFF the assassin Micheletto merely enables him to branch out into murder - it seems like only a partially accurate description. There are power struggles in The Borgias, sure, but comparing this show to something like the Sopranos is setting up false expectations. Think less organised crime, more power politics. And family drama; Rodrigo craves power, and his whole family pays for it. I suppose they are like a mob family, in their loyalty towards each other and ruthlessness towards anyone standing in their way, but I'd compare them more closely to a political or business dynasty. (Or Game of Thrones, but without the dragons.)

Cesare and Micheletto, negotiating their friendship.
Within the family, Cesare and his brother, Juan, clash frequently, most often because of the careers Rodrigo assigned to them. Cesare would rather be in the army than the clergy, and Juan takes his soldierly duties too lightly but refuses to listen when anyone points this out. The children's illegitimacy is sometimes an issue, and Rodrigo's 'lewdness' is a major factor in the arguments against him as a Pope. Then there's the way everyone sleeps around, and the way Cesare occasionally organises a murder. While I have no idea if this is a realistic portrayal of this infamous family, it all makes for very intriguing TV.

The politics of 15th century Italy are a primary driver for much of what happens, as the Vatican was a huge seat of power in an unintegrated land. Italy of the time was divided into many principalities, all with a variety of rulers, and the security of Borgia's reign depended greatly on his ability to secure allegiances with the great houses - the Medicis in Florence, the Sforzas in the north in Milan and east near Forli, the rulers of Naples, and so on. Rodrigo marries Lucrezia off to the Sforzas and opens communication with Florence, Milan and Naples, but someone else seeks alliances with the major houses - Cardinal della Rovere, played by Colm Feore, whom Borgia defeated in the competition for Pope. He has become determined to see Borgia deposed, and it becomes a race to determine whether Borgia (and Cesare, and Micholetto) can secure his Papacy before della Rovere returns.

I won't tell you how it ends, or give away the many and varied storylines and intrigues I haven't mentioned. You'll just have to get hold of a copy of season 1, and see for yourself. As for me, I can't wait to start watching season 2.

Well? Do you think you could take them on?

Five for Friday no. 41

11 wonderful words with no English equivalent. For a language with so many words, I often feel that we miss out on these more interesting sentiments or shared experiences all wrapped up in one word. Courtesy of Jane.  

Cardboard bicycle close to mass-production.

The beautiful artwork of Helen Musselwhite.
The Look of Love by Helen Musselwhite. Image courtesy of her website

100 greatest non-fiction books, according to The Guardian. I have read exactly one of these books. But at least I have heard of most of them!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Today my fringe is long and sort of voluminous. I can almost kid myself it's a bit like Ariel's from The Little Mermaid.

Which is pretty much the fulfillment of a childhood dream, right there.

Book review: The Baroness by Hannah Rothschild

If you’re looking for an in-depth look into the life and times of the Rothschilds or indeed, of a significant member of this infamous family, this ain’t it.

If you want a light read about a woman who lived in interesting times, then this is ok.  But I’m not going to recommend it to anyone.

The Baroness is a superficial biography of Pannonica Rothschild, born into the English branch of the family when Rothschild was a byword for big money and grand spending. She made a good marriage, had children then left her husband of 15 years to live in New York and obsess about jazz. There you have it.

Sure, there is more to her life story than that, but what Hannah Rothschild (a relative of Pannonica or ‘Nica’) has written is a simple, conversational pseudo- account of a life that could have been fascinating. Unfortunately, the friendly-biographer style of Rothschild, constantly referring to ‘when I interviewed Aunt Miriam', combined with either a lack of good information about Nica or a lack of research, means that this book feels short on both professionalism and those delicious details that allow the personalities of the individuals to leap off the page and engage you in their stories.

Nica as a young woman. 
Rothschild provides just enough historical detail to paint the picture of who the Rothschilds are, where they came from, and what they do. There can be little doubt that her insider knowledge and probable unrivaled access to Rothschild family members and paper has given this book a nice personal touch.

There are few people in this world born into the privilege that many Rothschild children receive. While it is true that with that privilege comes expectations, the weight of history and a version of ‘lack of freedom’, many people, including myself, would be happy to be born into such a world of wealth and connections.

Nica's Bentley. The Bentley and 'The Baroness' became icons in the down-and-out jazz scene of 50s and 60s New York.

Nica Rothschild came across as a character but also an almost cookie-cutter product of her time and class. The author would violently oppose this view, I am sure. However I felt that as much as she was a ‘rebel’, Nica’s unabashed confidence, brashness, spending and don’t-give-a-damn attitude are very much by-products of belonging to a class where you could afford to act that way.

Nica’s great act of rebellion - leaving her unhappy marriage to become a matriarch of the New York jazz scene in the 50s and 60s - led her down an un-trodden path and brought her into contact with some of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century. Most notably Thelonius Monk, the jazz genius, drug addict and troubled soul who became the great obsession of Nica’s life. Interesting, yes. Rebellion? Not really. Not if you think of other society ladies who break free from expectations – people such as Jane Digby or the Mitford girls. Maybe I’m missing the point and not really allowing myself to be impressed. However, it seems to me that when you can keep hold or your Bentley, pearls and furs while patronising all and sundry in the New York underground, life can’t be that tough.

 Nica and Thelonious Monk - the great obsession of her life.

I have read some biographies of society ladies; people who seemingly live quite shallow, uninteresting lives. However, the details that are revealed and the personalities that are allowed to come through the writer’s words create interest in their stories. To gloss over an incident is to make it ordinary: 'Oh, they stole light aircraft from the army and flew over Africa, one time landing amongst a tribe of pygmies' sounds almost commonplace when you don’t put any layers into the event. It is the impressions, the people and the details that make a story worth reading and that is what is lacking in this university assignment of a book.

Perhaps I am being too harsh. I do tend to judge more severely a book that doesn’t engage me and I did not want to pick up The Baroness once I’d started it. However, to each their own and if you want a light-hearted portrait of an interesting woman, look at this book.

Meanwhile – can anyone recommend a good history of the Rothschild family? I’d love to read one.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

NaNoWriMo: The Challenge

Yesterday in a moment of madness I signed up for NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo is in its 13th year. It is an international project where would be-novel writers from all over the world sign up to write a novel, 50,000 words, in one month, starting on 1 November and finishing midnight on the 30th.


I am not a writer.

I am not pretending to be a writer. I am not pretending that I am about to write the next literary sensation. I’m not even pretending that my words are even any good. However, I have for a long time wanted to sit down and write a book. A short book. Even if it never left the top drawer of my desk, I don’t care! It’s something I have wanted to do for years and I hope that by signing up to NaNoWriMo and committing to at least try, then I will get further than I have managed so far.

Participation in NaNoWriMo is free. It is a mostly online community of fellow writers – some professional, many amateur – who all share the same 50k word goal. Online you can read success stories and writing tips, make writing buddies to share your progress and ideas with; just generally be part of a writing community who support you towards this very tough goal.

Depending on where you live, there may be a municipal liaison officer in your area who may arrange get-togethers at book stores where you can meet fellow novelists and discuss your progress.

NaNoWriMo is run as a small not for profit organisation The Office of Letters and Light, servicing not only the hundreds of thousands of people who participate in the program every year but also establishing programs for  children, teenagers and adults to help them discovery their written potential. You can find out all about them on their website or through NaNoWriMo and you can donate to this worthy cause.

In the meantime, I need to get properly started on the outline for my novel, so that when November 1 rolls around, I am prepared to give it my best shot.

If anyone else signs up to NaNoWriMo for 2012, let me know, I'm love to exchange writing related stress stories. For anyone else, donations of wine to help the writing process will be much appreciated.

Or if you're doing NaNoWriMo yourself - be my writing buddy!

The upside of moving

You know who likes moving house? People who relish the opportunity to be Super Organised, that’s who. And those of us lucky to move into their newly bought / dream home. Those are the only people who like moving. For everyone else it would be a tough decision as to which is more unpleasant; moving or going to the dentist every morning for a week.

However, I have just discovered an upside to moving.

Having lived on the western side of my hometown Brisbane for my entire life, this week I moved to the northside. I have gone from knowing every street, the best delis and bottle shops and which supermarkets are open ‘til 10 to not even knowing where to find the nearest petrol station.

So – what is the benefit? I get to be an explorer! I get to find out all about this new part of the city that is apparently a bit hip and happening. I get to discover new favourite restaurants and cafes and bakeries. Once I have recovered from the pain of moving and can see my floor again, I get to discover! Hurrah!

If anyone has suggestions for northside dining locations or is keen to try some out with me, please let me know.

On my list so far:
  • Simply Duo – French/Vietnamese fusion
  • Dandelion and Driftwood
  • Stockholm Syndrome
  • Hosokawa
  • Willow and Spoon
  • Elixir Coffee
  • Brewbakers
  • The Junk Bar
  • C Word Bagels and Coffee

Fellow explorers welcome!

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Pork Cork and Fork Festival

It was called the Pork, Cork and Fork festival. That was reason enough for me to go, and reason enough for a few of my friends to tag along with me. How could one resist such a title? Particularly when the words 'Tiki Bar' are thoughtfully broadcast across the publicity posters as well.

Over last Friday and Saturday 12/13 October, a restaurant bar called Alfred and Constance held a sort of warm-up pre-opening event; the Pork Cork and Fork festival. The restaurant is opening in late October, but they're warming up and educating their potential clientele with some tasters of what the joint will be like. The restaurant is being constructed in two old Queenslanders (on the corner of Alfred and Constance Streets in the Valley, go figure) and is promising to be a relaxed 'come with friends and stay a while' sort of place.

That was certainly the vibe of the 'Festival'. Held on a grass patch opposite the restaurant, next to a car park, it had a blissful  young-garden-party atmosphere with tents, benches, a Tiki bar and coloured lights. It was enchantingly kitsch and very laid back. People were just there to hang out and have a good time. Aside from a couple of drunken fools treating it like a dodgy beer garden, the atmosphere was convivial and low key. The drinks were tasty, the pork sandwiches cold but flavourful and the DJ played a great mix of mostly 80s tracks that had us gently swaying where we stood.

 The chef may be blurry but the pork is in focus.

Pork sandwich and jar formerly containing luscious passionfruit flavoured beverage. The desserts were all delicious too, but there are no photos of them because they got demolished too quickly. 
I did, as you see, take some photos. They aren't my best, I am quite prepared to admit, but I was there to enjoy an evening out with my friends. Plus, there seemed to be at least 4 pro-am photographers hanging around that evening, so if you wanted to see some good photos I am sure some will be popping up on newsletters coming to your inbox soon.

 I don't know how people got leis.
We appreciated the DJ, even if we didn't dance.

I really enjoyed the vibe of the evening, as did my fabulous friends. If Saturday night was anything to go by, I can't wait to give the proper Alfred and Constance a try when it opens. Good food, good drink and a nice place to chill out and spend some time sounds like my idea of a nice night out in the Valley.

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