The moderate majority


Unless the moderate majority organises itself into an organised, aggressive and verbal lobby, the angry minority will win (this) argument.

— Analysis, Anne Applebaum, Washington Post. Brexit paralysis will feed witch hunts, published in The Age, Saturday, December 3, 2016, p18

Let us remember that the moderates are in the majority (not just relating to Brexit).

Let’s be heard above the rants of the radical minority.


Refugees are human beings


Sadly, the word refugee today has become so politicised and the narrative so polarised, it’s been stripped of all its tragedy and the human suffering and sorrow it carries. It is heartbreaking to see something so fundamentally humanitarian transformed into something political, and exploited to garner popularity and votes. At the core of the refugee crisis are human beings who have lost everything through no fault of their own.

— Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Interview Being a Queen is a job like any other published in stellar, Sunday, December 4, 2016, p13

Let us not exploit refugees for political gain.

Let us be humane and compassionate.

The lure of the DVD Box Set – Part 2

It goes like this…

You are seated together on the sofa, each with a glass of wine, engrossed in the story. You are often surprised by something that happens in the storyline and you talk about it, not always agreeing. You think you know what is going to happen next, but you are usually wrong. When one of you hasn’t followed the plot, the other explains. You marvel at how the creators have ended the series.

And there it is: you have been complicit in the experience and have lived through the story together.


Continue reading

Ready to drink

This year we took advantage of the Penfolds Wines Re-corking Clinics to have the single bottle of Grange Hermitage (vintage 1979) in our cellar checked out.

img_4467The clinics give wine collectors the opportunity to have their cellared (over 15 years) Penfolds bottles assessed by a winemaker. If necessary they are opened, tasted, topped up, re-corked and re-capsuled. Continue reading

The lure of the DVD Box Set – Part 1

It’s late; I’m usually in bed by this time. I look at myself in the mirror: my eyes are bleary and I feel like a zombie. What’s happened to me?

I have just spent another evening in front of the TV with my husband watching the last episodes of a quality TV series, the series Breaking Bad*. Continue reading

When I grow up I’m going to be…

 student_1980481a www telegraph co uk ALMAY student thinking

Photo: ALAMY

 What is the right age to decide what you want to do with your life?

While we are still at school we are required to make choices that start channelling us down a path – we choose the subjects that we are going to continue studying, generally following a humanities, business or science stream.

But can we really know at that age what type of work will suit us and that we’ll find fulfilling as we earn our living? Continue reading

Faces of Kerala

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On a recent trip to Kerala in southern India, I was taken by the people that we came into contact with on our travels. These photos are taken from visits to villages, from a road stop in the tea plantations, and during a visit to a grand timber palace.

All were keen to be photographed, unselfconsciously. And aren’t they all photogenic!

Their smiles make me smile.

About Kerala

Kerala scenes - aucourantnowKerala is the south-west state of India. It is a lovely place to visit with its diverse scenery of tropical landscapes, hill stations and tea plantations, beautiful beaches, and an extensive network of waterways (lakes, rivers, canals).

Spending on social welfare has been a priority over a long period of time; hence, the standard of living in Kerala is among the highest in India. Literacy and life expectancy rates are high; birth and poverty rates are low (compared to other states). Kerala is considered to be the cleanest and healthiest state in India.

Major industries are spice exporting, fisheries, and tourism; Kerala also has a long tradition in ayurvedic medicine.

More information:
Kerala (wikipedia)
Kerala Tourism


Art from function—Princes Pier

Princes Pier piles aucourantnow

For the first (almost) 100 years of their life, these piles performed their utilitarian function. Today, they form a work of art.

In their wisdom (and likely for pecuniary considerations) the state government at the time opted for a low-impact restoration of the derelict Princes Pier in Port Melbourne in 2006. The result is this evocative sculpture comprised of 380 metres of unrestored piles that were left in place, exposed in their raw beauty.

The redevelopment of Princes Pier

While nearby Station Pier has remained in operation, Princes Pier was closed in 1989.

The pier, built between 1912 and 1915, suffered neglect and vandalism following its closure. By 2006 there was virtually nothing left of the original buildings on the site. From the early 2000s, options for the development and use of the site were debated.

Early proposals submitted to the state government for the restoration and redevelopment of the pier included plans for apartments, restaurants and cafes.

In recognition of the heritage value of Princes Pier to Australia’s war effort (departing soldiers during the two world wars) and immigration (post-war migration arrivals), the state government decided on a low-impact redevelopment. Budget considerations may have also played a part—the cost of total restoration was estimated at $60m, while partial refurbishment could be achieved for $14m.

The final project allowed for the first 196 metres of piles to be repaired, the deck and the gatehouse to be restored, and the remaining 380 metres of the pier to be cleared to expose the piles. The final budgeted cost was $34m; the restoration was opened in December 2011.

Then and now

img677 As the daughter of a post-war migrant, I have fond memories of being packed up as a child to head to Princes or Station Pier to greet the latest arrivals from my father’s Italian village.

Today, whenever I pass by this site, I take time to stop and reflect upon the piles—the grace of their lines and the grandeur of their scale. And I remember my father.

Princes Pier piles aucourantnow (2)The pier in numbers:

  • It is the second largest timber structure in Australia (Station Pier is the largest).
  • The pier is 580 metres long, made up of 5000 piles.
  • The length of the piles ranges from seven metres at the shore to 21 metres at the end of the pier.


Princes Pier is located in Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
My father is the man on the left in the family photo

Major Projects Victoria – Princes Pier Restoration
Major Projects Victoria – Princes Pier Project Update September 2010 (pdf; 2 pages)
Interpretive signage at Princes Pier

Street Art – George Town, Penang

On our travels we like to ‘collect’ the street art, where it is a feature of the location.

Recently in George Town, Penang, we spotted examples in different styles:

  • images created using black wire against a wall
  • witty images using props

Even building sites contribute to the street art (last image).

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About George Town

George Town (also Georgetown) is the state capital of Penang, in Malaysia. It has a rich colonial history, in addition to well-established cultural diversity. Malay and Chinese are the two major ethnic groups in Penang, with Indian the next largest.

A self-guided walk of the streets of George Town winds you through avenues of grand colonial architecture, to ethnic concentrations such as Little India. Fort Cornwallis, originally built in 1786 stands watch on the waterfront.

George Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2008.

Update: Travel article on George Town street art
George Town: the unexpected street art hub of Southeast Asia

The Cult Of The Celebrity Chef – Good or Bad?


I’ve recently written about my restaurant gripes. Only three so far!

These are: The No Bookings Policy, The Two (or more) Sittings Policy,
and The Need To Plan Your Outings Weeks In Advance.

Admittedly, these gripes apply to the better, more popular, and most lauded restaurants. But are these policies and practices what we have to put up with to get a quality dining experience?

And am I alone in thinking that these policies have become more entrenched with the rise of the celebrity chef?

For A Good Cause

But credit where credit is due…

The cult of the celebrity chef has resulted in a heightened interest in the profession as a career choice.

Interest is so high that some of these chefs are harnessing this momentum to support worthwhile causes.

We watched Jamie Oliver establish Fifteen, the training restaurants, taking unemployed young people and offering them an intensive introduction to the hospitality industry.

And earlier this week I caught a show on ABC 1 TV that brought me to tears.

Inspired by Celebrity Chefs?

110912tod_tv_pohs_kitchen_2_184t5gf-184t5gsPoh’s Kitchen Lends A Hand focussed on Aaron and Ben, two previously homeless young men (in the program they show us where they lived rough), who had the courage to take control of their lives.

They left the world that they knew, and connected with a support program that introduced them to STREAT*. STREAT is a social enterprise that provides hospitality training in their Streat cafes for at risk young people.

Aaron and Ben have completed the six-month training program learning to cook. They both want to be chefs—Aaron wants to run his own restaurant by the time he is 26.

If the ‘celebrity chef’ pull is such that it can take homeless young people off the streets long enough for them to have some chance of getting their lives back on track, then I’m all for it.

Follow your dreams, Aaron and Ben.

What do you think has been the impact of the ‘celebrity chef’?

* STREAT is a social enterprise providing homeless youth with a supported pathway to long-term careers in the hospitality industry.
Image Credits:
Celebrity Chef photo montage – images sourced from Master Chef Guest Chefs except for Pete Evans, Manu Feildel, Karen Martini, and Guy Grossi, sourced from My Kitchen Rules Judges

Poh with Aaron and Ben at Streat cafe – Picture: Alexandre Schoelcher, sourced from