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What didn’t I do in Cairns this past weekend?

What didn’t I do in Cairns this past weekend?

Things to do in Cairns Queensland

The weather has been so perfect here that I decided to take the chopper out for a spin …

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Oh wait, that’s not mine – I get so easily confused these days. Alas, I was on foot on Friday, headed firstly towards Canopy Arts Space on Grafton Street to find out all about Inkfest initiatives (awesome!)  + Inkmasters as part of Festival Cairns.

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Inkfest is an innovative addition to Cairns Festival showcasing the fascinating and diverse artform of printmaking 17 August – 2 September, 2012. The Inkfest program includes a number of inter-related printmaking activities, for indigenous and non-indigenous artists, emerging and experienced professional artists, and community engagement. It includes two exhibitions, at the Tanks Arts Centre and Canopy Artspace (pictured below), where some of the best local print media artists will be showing works alongside Australia’s most celebrated printmakers.

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Visitors are welcome to drop by the gallery on Grafton Street – it’s huge, interesting and informative. Well worth it!

Next on Friday’s adventure …

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It’s not as scary as it looks. A bunch of travel journalists and I visited James Cook University’s Cairns campus to explore some uniquely ‘Tropical North Queensland’ areas of education.

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Baby Nemo! :-)

We went behind the scenes of a marine research centre that is used to film nature docos including the BBC’s The Great Barrier Reef that aired internationally earlier this year. And we discovered impressive research into the Eliminate Dengue project.

 

It was actually really interesting to hear about this research, and we did learn that mozzies are attracted to those of us who have ‘hotter body temperatures’ or people wearing dark clothes – so be warned.

The aim of the experiment is to breed the dengue gene out of the mozzies that have it, then all these new mozzies are released into the ‘wild’ to hopefully breed with the other evil mozzies. Such amazing stuff – but we don’t envy the poor guys at JCU who are continually getting bitten!

All this talk of mosquitoes made me thirsty, so we decided to nip out for a quiet Friday afternoon drink at The Pier Bar. A few champers later and it was time to dance, so we visited one of my fave clubs in town, The Attic. Even discovered an awesome new mix of Super Bass mixed by Liam Keegan (love it).

Attic DJ you *rock* for sharing Liam’s details with us! Cheers to you :-)

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YUM.

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OMG… empty much?

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Panic over… thank you kind lady. BTW these fab cocktails (think Appletinis, Cosmos, Martinis) are all just $6 at The Attic on Friday nights – they have a new menu and are testing it out. Bargain!

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We’re looking to reno our bathroom soon (too much The Block for us, methinks) so paid a visit to Status Plus‘ fabulous showroom in Cairns on Saturday morning. Good timing too – they were hosting an outdoor broadcast with Zinc FM, there were cook-offs, demonstrations and much more. Big thanks to Shar’ron for all her knowledge and help during the morning. One such delight we discovered was this magic tap – the stream is blue when it’s cold, and red when … you guessed it, hot.

Beer o’clock (actually, we were waiting for Cooper’s mum who got lost among the Cairns shops – as you do), so we decided to take a quick pit stop at The Courthouse, sipping on $4 Coronas under the winter sunshine. .

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On Sunday, after a little morning clean up and walk with the dog, we took a drive to stunning Paradise Palms Resort & Country Club for a catch-up with some friends and family. Nice day for it too.

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There’s a beautiful under cover dining area, and Sunday was blissful here. We ate, drank and were merry.

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Then? Time for a nap!

 

Dining in the Dark: Gordon’s Wine Bar

Dining in the Dark: Gordon’s Wine Bar

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Thankfully, my two lovely mates, Nicole and Iain, thought to take me for a cheeky drink at a charming little place called Gordon’s Wine Bar. Located just near Embankment tube (but not too far from Covent Garden, or Charing Cross tube), head down some steep narrow stairs to a confined, cosy space lit by candles. It’s almost ‘tunnel’ like – probably not for the claustrophobic – but definitely for those who tend towards old, historical and possibly a little creepy (in a cool way of course, chimes the crazy X-Files fan in the back of my mind).

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Another nice feature, aside from the general ambiance, is that the walls are lined with old newspaper clippings and front pages from The Daily Mail, The Observer etc. from over the past 60 years or so. They have even included The Evening Standard from April 29, 2011 (a paper I also have stashed away to commemorate The Royal Wedding).Evidently, this bar is the oldest wine bar in London (est. 1890), and I do kind of like that it’s named after my grandfather (well, not really but he was a Gordon, and a popular publican in Toowoomba ‘back in the day’, so it’s fitting…).

I’ve had a few friends pop up on Facebook who also know of this little ‘hidden’ gem, although from what I understand it can be near impossible to get through the door most afternoons and weekends… old and candlelit is evidently favoured by many more than just me. Anyway, I’ve nabbed some images from their website to give you a better idea of what it looks like inside.  S X

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Undiscovered London: Angel and Islington

Undiscovered London: Angel and Islington

One of the things I love most about living in a city like London is that every day you can find somewhere different to explore. Although this weekend has mirrored the past few – cloudy and windy with bursts of sunshine – we managed to catch a nice few hours this morning, so jumped on a bus just up the road, destination Angel / Islington.

Friends had often said this was a nice little part of the world, and they’re totally right! Perfect for a few hours out, morning coffee or evening drinks and tapas, the walk along the high street from Angel Tube to Highbury & Islington Tube (both Zone 2) is pleasant, filled with cute boutiques, delicatessens, clubs, bars, pubs including a few we want to head back to (a Japanese restaurant, Spanish tapas diner and a couple of Mexican stops too)! Reviews imminent… Long story short, this area is definitely worth a visit if you live in or are visiting the area.

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Glasgow glamorous? You bet!

Glasgow glamorous? You bet!

For those of you who missed my Tweets, we had a brilliant time out in Glasgow. We were lucky enough to be guided to some of the hottest joints in town – places we definitely would not have found ourselves; but boy, are we glad we found them. I’m talking top class, schwanky and simply gorgeous venues – no cover charges, good music, amazing atmosphere, beautiful people and well-priced cocktails and beverages. If you’re heading to Scotland, and keen for a night out in Glasgow city, follow this route:

1. Some cheap pre-evening drinks at The Walkabout (particularly good value if you invest in one of their £3 member cards), 128 Renfield Street.

2. Share amazingly good Spanish Tapas at La Tasca, (39-43 Renfield Street). Book ahead by jumping online and securing your reservation – this place gets busy, but you’ll see why when you’re there.

3. Following dinner, we made our way to the gorgeous Corinthian Club – 4 elaborate levels (at 191 Ingram Street) of divine bars and restaurants. The martinis were delicious, and cheap! This beautiful venue was originally the site of a lavish mansion built in 1842, and in 1929 the building was converted into justiciary courts. Experience the splendour of a bygone era within a very contemporary context… well worth your time!

4. Once you’re keen to see something new, head over to Citation Taverne (40 Wilson Street), another glamorous location set on several levels. Here we enjoyed a few drinks on the upper outdoor terrace overlooking the street. Mirrors and candelabras set the mood as diners and drinkers revel in this uber-chic establishment.

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5. Not sure that anything else could exceed our expectations here, as these previous venues had, we ventured out to find “somewhere to dance”. Already well past our usual bedtime, the next venue would have to be good to keep me going…

…then we stepped inside The Social (27 Royal Exchange Square) – a vibrant club with awesome cocktails and kickin’ sound. The dance music was cool, and then the live sax and drums started in sync with the DJ. Absolutely amazing! Evidently the people to thank for this brilliant live evening of music were DJ’s Craig McHugh and Kevin Austin alongside Craig Nelson on Sax and Gary Kainth who was laying down beats on the drums. Best night I’ve had in ages!

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Glasgow – who would have thought? Each venue – 5 out of 5 – a top night out – and one I’d love to repeat at some stage in the future.

 

Tips n Tricks living in London

Tips n Tricks living in London

Along our path of discovery as ‘Londoners’ we’re slowly picking up some tips and tricks to life as an ex-pat. The aim of this blog is to help others crazy enough to follow in our footsteps, so we are learning the lessons and letting readers know what to avoid or what to pursue. Firstly, we’re really warming to the area we live in – Notting Hill/Bayswater is safe and brimming with convenient amenities like shopping, laundries, pubs, internet cafes, transport and Kensington Gardens just down the road. We had a brilliant sunny day here yesterday so I went for a wander around our neighbourhood. Some images HERE. London is so vast, unless you have a suburb aim due to work it’s hard to know where to start looking for a reasonable address, but this area is a good place to start, at least in our experience.

Be wary of so-called Real Estate Agent fees – am still trying to determine whether a random GBP99.00 fee is legitimate, and have been advised to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for information. Same goes for anyone who needs some advice here.Emergency number is 999!

There is a popular online directory here called Gumtree. It’s useful for sourcing for all kinds of things from flats to computers and TVs. However, there are quite a few dodgy operators advertising on here, or utilising its services. We were definitely linked up in a too-good-to-be-true accommodation scam which others could have quite easily fallen for if desperate or not overly internet savvy. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid… just be careful and don’t be too naive. A friend warned us the other day of another mate who was selling a computer on this site. Someone registered interest and dropped around to this guy’s place to check it out – turned out the ‘buyer’ was just a psycho who turned up, beat the man senseless then went to the police to let them know he thought he’d killed someone. This person (not made up – known by friends of ours) is still paralyzed. Another friend bought a TV and DVD set and made the mistake of having the goods delivered to her flat – she was jipped out of part of the deal, then threatened because she wouldn’t pay the whole fee. Use these sites but ensure transactions take place in public, and your whereabouts remain unknown.

On a bright a note, we want to recommend a few fab places we’ve discovered: Bar Soho for half price drinks and food 6 to 8pm! Westbourne House for fabulous tapas – 3 dishes for GBP10.00 Sunday to Wednesday. Kahn’s Indian Restaurant in Bayswater – dine in and take-away yummy, and the delicious Banana Tree Canteen (our nearest outlet is 21 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater W2) which offers a quality array of Asian inspired cuisine and an Express lunchtime menu which runs all afternoon, not just during strict hours of say 12-2pm. Finally, we love love love Loco Mexicano, 107 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater.

For film buffs, a trip to the cinema in London can be quite expensive, if not totally out of the budget. However, if you’re signed up with Orange for a phone deal, look out for their weekly 2 for 1 cinema tickets, issued by text message. Simply present at most box offices around town and enjoy!

SB