Auto Italia 2015

29 Mar

Auto Italia is a fantastic car event. I love that you can have a fantastic day admiring the cars whether you know a great deal about them or whether you know nothing (me). I often marvel at the effort the car owners put in – not just for this day, but every day, being responsible for vehicles like these.

As usual, it makes a lot more sense for me to let the pictures do the talking!

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Cafe Okrich, Kippax

24 Mar

Cafe Okrich comes to me as a recommendation from one of my readers, who frankly isn’t sure about sharing the secret of what she describes as “the best new cafe in Belconnen”. I’m so glad she does!

My Sunday morning starts with a large breakfast at Local Press in Kingston. Local Press’s food is really tasty, but I do wonder how I end up paying close to $30 for breakfast.

Early afternoon I’m peckish again, so we head down the road to Kippax. Next to Kippax Fair at the bottom of the reasonably new apartment blocks (between the Magpies and Aldi) are a large range of new eateries and shops, including Quan’s Kitchen, the Kippax Cake Shop (large cakes are under $30) and Cafe Okrich.

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Heather’s House of Cake, Belconnen

19 Mar

I hear a lot how people would love to see better use made of beautiful Lake Ginninderra. More recreation. A variety of accessible water sports. More sophisticated paths and cycleways.

But the number one desire seems to be for restaurants and cafes – existing or new – to make better use of the lake. Along Emu Bank, many of the restaurants face the street, not the lake. (Ha Ha Bar and La De Da are notable exceptions.) The access point for the restaurants is from the car park next to the road, not the boardwalk which frames the water. People find the lake paradoxically energising and relaxing: there’s more and more going on around the lake, and it’s fun to be part of it, and to watch it – not to mention just enjoy the beautiful views.

I’d heard rumours about Heather’s House of Cake opening up for a little while. You might recognise the name: Heather’s been around the market scene for quite a while and creates – as you might have guessed – a wide range of pretty cakes. On the Friday of its opening week, I walk around the building which also houses 2 Yummy, Princes Palace, Sanur’s Balinese and London Burgers to the side which has Up 2 You restaurant.

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Evita, Erindale Theatre*

6 Mar

* I attended the opening night of Evita as a guest of the Canberra Philharmonic Society

There’s an overwhelming amount of events on in and around Canberra at the moment. In addition to Canberra Day, Enlighten (and the Noodle Markets) and the Balloon Spectacular, we’re spoilt with some pretty charming theatre – Mary Poppins starts next week at the Canberra Theatre, and this week has seen the launch of Tuesdays with Morrie at The Q as well as Evita at Erindale Theatre.

Unlike Tuesdays with Morrie, I know nothing about Evita. Well, almost nothing. I know it’s an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, that Madonna played the titular role in the movie adaptation in the mid-90s, and that it’s about the wife of a dictator. I also remember as a kid I hated the famous song for which Evita is known and would warble – in that way that screams ‘only child’ – ‘Don’t cry for me I’ve got tinea’. Classy, I know.

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Tuesdays With Morrie, The Q

5 Mar

There is no ‘point’ in loving; loving is the point.

Tuesdays with Morrie is the real-life story of sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, in the final stages of his life as he learns how to die (and what that means to live) and imparts life lessons to an old student of his, Mitch Albom.

I first read Albom’s best-selling book – which became a movie, and then a theatre production – in the Easter school holidays of Year 11. It changed me, and I don’t say that lightly. I read it twice, quickly. I then vividly remember transcribing quotes from the book to a notepad and filling up page after page with inspiration. Whenever I’m asked to name a favourite book, Tuesdays with Morrie invariably makes the list (because, honestly, who can choose just one favourite book?). So, on Wednesday night, I take this longstanding relationship with the book to Queanbeyan’s theatre, The Q, to see it recreated on stage, starring locals Graham Robertson as Morrie and Dave Evans as Mitch.

Mitch’s friendship with Morrie begins at university in the 1970s, with Mitch soaking up Morrie’s wisdom – beginning by taking his lectures, to turning up at his office, to having lunch at the cafeteria (where eating plays second fiddle to animated conversation) – usually on Tuesdays. Morrie is the sort of person who quite literally dances to his own beat. But way leads onto way: Mitch graduates, and while he emphatically promises to keep in touch with Morrie, life steps in: profoundly affected by his young uncle’s death from pancreatic cancer, Mitch abandons ambitions as a jazz pianist and throws himself into the hustling world of sports journalism, living each day to the fullest, not missing a second (or so he thinks). Mitch spreads himself thin, trying to cover as much ground in life as possible, with little thought for his old professor.

Fast forward 16 years, and late one night Mitch is flicking through TV channels and spots Morrie on Ted Koppel’s Nightline. Morrie’s dying of ALS (remember the ice bucket challenge?) aka Lou Gehrig’s disease aka motor neuron disease. He’s agreed to share with a national television audience what dying is all about, in the hopes that people can learn something from it. (Bear in mind this is a true story – you can see these very episodes on YouTube.)

Mitch hops on a plane to pay his respects to Morrie, intending to visit once – a guilty obligation. But as soon as he arrives he’s captivated again like he was 16 years ago, and agrees to drop in every Tuesday. Morrie wants to treat these visits as lessons, and asks Mitch to be a diligent student; to prepare questions for Morrie to answer. In the lessons they cover life, death and love – the latter being the only rational act – as Morrie grows weaker, and Mitch fights off the pressures from his work.

I can appreciate it sounds a bit weird to endorse a play that’s essentially about someone dying – and Robertson portrays this in equal measures of punch and sensitivity – but Morrie’s death is in fact a vehicle for the real story: how to live. Like the book, the lessons are conveyed with fierce warmth, and here Robertson really shines. Despite being wheelchair-, La-Z-Boy- and bed-bound for most of the play, there’s no mistaking the very nature of Morrie – a testament to Robertson’s skill and respect for the role.

The play itself is focused on the relationship between Morrie and Mitch, with only side references to the superficial life Mitch leads which is inconsistent with the teachings of Morrie. While there are occasional references to how much the time with Morrie changes Mitch, a fault of the adaptation is how little it draws on the key conversations, quotes and exchanges conveyed in the book which are instrumental in these changes in Mitch. Overlooking these exchanges means the emotional reaction of Mitch by Morrie’s bedside near the end loses its potency.

Evans and Robertson keep perfect pace with one another, particularly when they’re trading witty remarks. However, at times Evans shows restraint in his role as Mitch, serving more as a platform than a companion to ensure the character of Morrie receives the audience’s focus. This would be smart if Evans was paired with a weaker actor, but Robertson is never going to be outshone as Morrie. Evans evidently has the skill to really embrace Mitch – to make him bigger and more complicated – and should.

Given how immobile his co-star is, Evans does a wonderful job in filling the space, and making the stage feel like a working home. Some lighting to reflect the changing seasons, and many – many – more books would perfect the setting.

No matter the format, Tuesdays with Morrie is a remarkable story which needs to be told, and told again. This stage production does justice to the story’s warmth, spirit and heart. Bring tissues.

Date: 8pm-9.30pm, Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Where: The Q, Queanbeyan

Cost: $47 for non-subscribers (as a subscriber I paid $37)

Value for money: High

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? Buy tickets here. Read some of the beautiful quotes here.

Night Noodle Markets, Enlighten

1 Mar

AKA here is a not very good poem! The photos do the talking a little better!

 

Bloggers gather on a Friday arvo
At Canberra’s Reconciliation Place
Where our host Natasha Rudra
Will guide us ’round the space

Welcome to Night Noodle Markets!
Their first year in our town
I’m happy to say I leave the tour, convinced
It’s the jewel in Enlighten’s crown

We stopped first at Thirst
Canberra’s very own casual Thai
Who served us bright yellow chicken curry
But it’s their glass noodles which are must-try

At Daniel San are GIANT skewers
But then it’s time for boat noodles at Morks:
a family recipe served in broth or dry
(Tip: it’s more enjoyable eaten with forks!)

But then – then! – we have THE dish
Glazed Pork belly from Hoy Pinoy
I can’t begin to tell you how good this is
Take my advice: get it, enjoy

Liquid nitrogen is key at N2 Extreme gelato
Serving ice cream creations with hard chocolate tops
Syringes help you inject even more flavour
To accompany textures of crunch and pop

As the darkness grows longer
So too do the lines and the crowds –
But Canberra’s support of events like this
Is something of which we all can be proud

Come back next year,  Night Noodle Markets!

Date: Friday, 27 February 2014

Where: Reconciliation Place, Parkes

Cost: I attended as a guest of Fairfax’s Good Food Month; food is about $8-15 a serve

Want more? Check out the posts from other bloggers for their views and (excellent) tips: Her Canberra, Rachi, Shari, Liz, Kristy, Food Porn Journal, Eileen

First look at Enlighten 2015

26 Feb

There’s no mistaking it: Enlighten is one of the best events in the Canberra calendar. I love the fast moving pictures on Questacon, the reflections of our history on the National Library, and Old Parliament House is always exquisite. Here’s a little of what you can expect to see what it kicks off on Friday night (27 February):

Yes, they are on water!

Gotta get the rain out of the way…

Enlighten is on from 27 February to 8 March, and has a range of events associated with it.

Here’s a little look at what it looked like last year.

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