fluffy towes
Carmen

Carmen Jenner is a travel, food, and lifestyle writer, wanna-be photographer and the founder of Fluffy Towel. She specialises in travel memoirs, destination pieces, hotel reviews, guidebook contributor, travel advice, restaurant reviews, family travel, and copywriting.

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where in the
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Perth, Australia

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Confessions of a travel writer

filed25 Sep 2016 from

mexico-city

This stunning cathedral in Mexico City seems like a good place to confess

Forgive me travel gods, for I have sinned. I’m a travel writer and it’s been an eternity since my last confession. Perhaps after these 10 confessions, absolution will be granted.
1. Press trips are really hard work. Press trips, also known as famils or familiarisations, aren’t holidays. I think of them as boot camp for travellers, except I’m expected to produce engaging copy on top of a gruelling itinerary. Throw in a foreign language, strange food, a distinct lack of good coffee on tap, long hours and living in close quarters with other writers (many who were strangers at the beginning of the trip) all vying for the scoop, and it’s usually a hotbed of temperaments. It’s also often the makings of wonderful long-lasting friendships.

I don't really live here

I don’t really live here

2. I don’t really live the life I write about. It’s just not my reality, certainly not on a writer’s salary. While you might think I’m permanently sprawled out on the massage table or exotic beach, or taking selfies at amazing destinations around the world, I’m paid to show you the highlights.
3. It’s a life full of extremes. One minute I’m receiving the royal treatment with personal concierges, extravagant accommodation and indulgent feasts and the next I’m living off boiled eggs and nostalgia, while trying to re-live the experience to deliver all those stories I promised.

Tonight its utter decadence at the Viceroy, tomorrow its reality

Tonight its utter decadence at the Viceroy, tomorrow its reality

4. I’m addicted to travel. I’m always looking for my next hit even though most of the time it makes no economic sense, time is limited, I’m still selling stories from several trips ago and it clashes with my real-life responsibilities. It’s hard to resist an all-expenses paid trip to some far flung destination I’d never normally have the opportunity to visit.
5. Ego is a dirty word. I find trip invitations and editors seeking me out for work extremely flattering. And I’m not going to lie, I love seeing my name in print. If I ever make the cover, interviewed for a feature or win an award, I truly become intolerable; until reality thankfully brings me crashing back to earth.

I'm not going to lie, I love seeing my name in print

I’m not going to lie, I love seeing my name in print

6. Small talk is excruciating. I’m often singled out at social events and subjected to stupid questions like “How do you make a living from something like that?” or “Is that an actual job?” or “Are you published?” It pays to have a list of stock-standard answers ready.
7. Promiscuity all part of the deal. At least on the publishing front, I’ll whore myself out to almost any publication willing to pay. Exclusivity? It’s a rare beast saved only for guaranteed well paid coverage.

Promiscuity is all part of the package

Promiscuity is all part of the package

8. Honesty is in the eye of the beholder. There I said it. Sometimes a press trip isn’t great or not to my personal taste or doesn’t match the commissioned story. On the rare occasion I have written about something I didn’t even do to keep an editor happy or overcompensate for an experience which didn’t live up to the hype. I’m torn between pandering to my hosts, editors and conscience. But I know which side my bread is buttered.

This isn't even me

This isn’t even me

9. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t party hard and for the most part, my soul isn’t tortured. In order to work long hours, meet deadlines and physically take the trips, I’m mostly healthy in body, mind and soul; apart from an addiction to coffee and travel.

I don't do this on nightly, weekly or even monthly basis

I don’t do this on nightly, weekly or even monthly basis

10. I’m not intrepid. I’m a writer not a mountaineer or triathlete or enjoy backpacking. If an itinerary doesn’t feel right, I’m happy to pass it on to a more suitable writer for the good of the industry. After all, no-one has any sympathy for a travel writer complaining about their dream job.

My fear of heights was put to the test in a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon

My fear of heights was put to the test in a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon

Why should you hire a professional freelance content writer?

filed05 Sep 2016 from

 

Hiring a professional writer can be as care free as walking the Cape to Cape track

Hiring a professional writer can be as care free as walking the Cape to Cape track

Even in this day and age of DIY renovators, when most of us have a plumbing or electrical issue we hire a professional. Sure, we could Youtube it or find a handy friend to help out but it’s often a false economy, usually with costly and inconvenient consequences. So why would you let someone who doesn’t write for a living write about your …

Shreyas: A Indian journey of self-discovery

filed30 Jun 2016 from

shreyas statues

Shrouded in mist, the yoga pavilion sighs with guests working their way through the Sun Salutation routine. Despite the obscene hour and chilly morning, I’m in a state of bliss. Who am I? I don’t normally “do” early mornings, or even yoga for that matter, and yet I’m happily performing my poses in a dreamlike state.

We unravel our bodies into horizontal positions beneath our blankets with the intention of emptying our minds as our bendy instructor guides us through …

Interview with the real housewives of Melbourne

filed07 Jun 2016 from

real housewive pin-up

In a haze of Dior, Louis Vuitton, Scanlon and Theodore, Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo, in breeze the Real Housewives of Melbourne. Well, at least three of them. Pettifleur Berenger, Chyka Keebaugh and Jackie Gillies exude polished glamour from head to toe. Our TV screens simply don’t portray just how beautiful and classy these ladies are inside and out.

It’s a pleasant surprise given the show hones in on their extravagant lifestyles peppered with scandal, gossip and arguments. I’m assured …

Careening around Colombo

filed01 Jun 2016 from

 

tuk-tuk pin-up

The swanky homes of Cinnamon Gardens and the Town Hall resembling the White House in Washington are hard to miss when careening around Colombo in a tuk-tuk. But many of the city’s secrets and surprises are hidden behind walled courtyards and held by the locals themselves. Breaking the ice is easy at the mere mention of the favourite national past-time of cricket.

Cricket Crazy. Even if you secretly don’t know Don Bradman from Ricky Ponting, you can fake it …

Put down the bison

filed18 May 2016 from

Bison Eyes-ID10737-1920x1280

The other day as I popped into the shops I noticed a toddler locked in a car alone. I paused wondering if I should intervene. The window was ajar and it wasn’t a hot day anyway and the little girl seemed pretty content with her doll. Who’s to say her mum wasn’t simply returning the trolley or just a short distance away keeping a watchful eye. I decided to not interfere, especially as I had made it through my childhood …

Picnic at Hanging Rock review

filed12 Apr 2016 from

0054 Nikki Shiels. Picnic at Hanging Rock. Photo by Pia Johnson

“Miranda! Miranda!” You already know the chilling story. In fact, you can still hear the pan pipes, right? It’s probably safe to assume more have seen the movie than read the book. Which is why writer Tom Wright’s adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock for the Black Swan State Theatre Company leaves so much to the imagination; in the best way possible.

The stage is stark, the props minimal and apart from some sticks on stage, the “rock” itself is …

Truffle hunting in Manjimup

filed12 Apr 2016 from

On the 28th July in 2003 the first ever (well, the first documented one) truffle was found in Western Australia’s Manjimup. Thirteen years on, the Truffle & Wine Co. is so successful they now export to the US, Germany and France.

I went on a truffle hunt three years ago and I can still smell that earthy aroma. And as you can see below hunting for truffles is a very simple process…once you’ve selected the right plot of land, inoculated …

Gently Bentley

filed30 Mar 2016 from

driving

Pulling out of the Bentley showroom in Claremont onto Stirling Highway, I’m very much aware many houses cost less than the Bentley Continental GTC V8 S we’re test driving. However, given the craftsmanship on this elegant beast, it almost seems gauche to mention to money.

Our automatic seat belt presenter embraces us as we head up into the Perth Hills for a night of indulgence. It doesn’t take long to relax into the ventilated massaging leather seats with contrast cross …

Emergence Creative

filed18 Mar 2016 from

Function Centre Exterior wiht pots

It’s the conference for those who don’t do conferences. With the backdrop of Margaret River as their muse, some of WA’s most creative come together 16-19 March 2016 for Emergence Creative. I checked out the conference venue last weekend, and I have to say Willy Bay Resort is the epitome of what Margaret River is all about. Luxury villas set within the region’s famed vineyards and forest. Bliss!

For more information check out my article Meeting of Minds Meeting of …

The Colombian Cloud Atlas

filed07 Mar 2016 from

El Sauce 5

In one of the most dangerous countries in the world I stand on the side of the road with my thumb out. There is another woman striking a similar pose except she’s poured into the Colombian uniform of jeans tight enough to make out the lace on her g-string and, of course, the obligatory stilettos. This attire applies to women of any age, size or shape and I admire their fierce quest for sexiness as dust settles on my sneakers.…

La Soiree

filed25 Jan 2016 from

Bret Pfister Photo by Kim Haugaard

Bret Pfister Photo by Kim Haugaard

The night is heavy with humidity, smoky pop-up food vendors, busty vixens, flirty lashes, candy striped silliness and circus folk flitting about. It’s the opening night of La Soiree and one of the first events of Perth’s Fringe Festival 2016. If the size of the program is anything to go by at over 700 acts performing between 22nd January and 21st February, this year’s festival is going to epic.

La Soiree has graced …

Kimberley cravings: celebrating Shinju, the annual pearl festival

filed05 Jan 2016 from

Schmicko Pedicab

It’s easy to spot my ride when I land at Broome’s International Airport. The pedicab and Schmicko’s appropriately tropical shirt gives it away. His name derives from his former life as a tradie (hence the “o”) and because he always does a good job. He’s full of tales about his beloved town as we whizz past old homesteads with lattice windows in Brunswick red and green.

Japanese cemetryWe make a pit-stop at the Japanese Cemetery, one of the largest Japanese cemeteries …

Next to Normal review

filed11 Nov 2015 from

You know you’re in the presence of outstanding storytelling when you’re surrounded by audible sobs. Next To Normal is a musical about bipolar and is as moving as it is dark, but then that’s to be expected since it’s about a family’s battle with mental illness. I mention it’s a family’s battle because even though mother and wife Diana Goodman is diagnosed with bipolar, mania and depression, the entire family are propelled along for the bumpy ride.

057 Brendan Hanson, James Bell, Joel Horwood, Rachael Beck, Shannen Alyce. Next to Normal. Image by Gary Marsh

Gary Marsh Photography

Extinction review

filed24 Sep 2015 from

On first glance, Extinction appears to be about the demise of Australia’s endangered species’ and the dangers of global warming. Well, it is except the species includes humankind; and how do we choose what’s worth saving.

030 Myles Pollard, Hannah Day. Extinction. Image by Gary MarshRepresenting life and hope, an injured Tiger Quoll is brought to veterinarian Andy (Myles Pollard; A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Drift) after mining mogul Harry (Matt Dyktynski; Black Swan roles include Day One, A Hotel, Evening and Boundary Street) accidentally hits the rare marsupial …

Blithe Spirit – review

filed30 Jul 2015 from

As if Blithe Spirit wasn’t already captivating enough with its ghostly themes and marital discord. Throw in a last minute cast replacement and it’s positively riveting.

116 Ella Hetherington, Adam Booth. Blithe Spirit. Image by Gary Marsh

I can’t imagine how disappointing it must have been for actress Roz Hammond to have been taken ill and relinquish the role of Madame Arcati. Or how nerve-racking it must have been for actress Alison van Reeken to suddenly step into the role of a medium, script in hand. She was as superb as …

Skydive the Beach and Beyond

filed16 Jul 2015 from

Win a jump with Skydive the Beach and Beyond by signing up to the Fluffy Towel newsletter and answering this simple question in the comments below:

Who do would you like to see jump from a plane and why?

Click here to find out who won

Lee-Anne thumbs up flying

My friend flies through the air 14,000 feet above me and the turquoise coastline of Rockingham. Even from the ground I can hear her screaming. Screams of delight, she later assures me.

I suspect …

Glengarry Glen Ross

filed14 Jul 2015 from

Black Swan 2015 Glengarry Glen Ross 23 May to 14 June Peter Rowsthorn, Damian Walshe-Howling & Will O'Mahony image 2 by Robert Frith Acorn Photo

Gary Marsh Photography

Aptly named after two real estate developments, Glengarry Glen Ross is a satirical dark comedy. At first glance, it delves into the cut throat business of the Chicago real estate world, but on a closer look, the theme is broadened to examine the sales industry in general.

Originally written and then performed on Broadway in 1984 by screenwriter and playwright David Mamet, it’s based on his experiences of working in a Chicago real estate office during the …

Why you should visit Launceston

filed12 Jul 2015 from

Hollybanks Reserve

As Big Ben chimes in the background and the autumn colours adorn Launceston, you can almost pretend you’re in the UK. Teeming with art and architecture, some of the freshest produce I ever tasted and the kind of scenery which will turn even the most cynical of travellers snap happy, I can write with complete sincerity that Launceston should be added to many a travel list. And I haven’t even mentioned the locals. Everywhere I went I was given advice …

ANZAC centenary Western Australia’s Great Southern Drive

filed22 Apr 2015 from

Greens Pool...too beautiful to be real

Greens Pool…too beautiful to be real

The approach into Western Australia’s Great Southern region is a mix of weathered scrub bordered by the rugged peaks of the Stirling Ranges hovering in the distance. This idyllic scene has been a fixture on the landscape for over one million years, but is a world away from how our ANZAC troops left the region to fight for Australia’s future.

The 25th April 2015 marks the ANZAC centenary and the 1st November 2014 …

All aglow on the streets of Paris

filed19 Apr 2015 from

Photo 28 model 2 poster 1AS Simone de Beauvoir put it: “One is not born a woman; rather one becomes a woman.”

The French model wears a petticoat crafted from balloons. The model behind her flaps wings styled like a bird of paradise.

Men sit rigid in their seats during this Parisian couture fashion parade, admiring these heavenly beauties.

Cameras flash, flattering some of the models and insulting others, who sneer at the audience. We are engulfed in wall-to-wall white balloons, as if we are …

Stars in the Sand: touring Morocco with Jeff Martin

filed01 Apr 2015 from

MOROCCAN TOUR WITH JEFF MARTIN

 

coversm1

On the back of a mammoth year of touring and recording, including the release of the Tea Party’s first album in a decade, “The Ocean At the End,” Jeff Martin further delves into the exotic and Middle Eastern melodies on his return visit to Morocco.

Much has been documented about Jeff’s music and mystique, particularly his instrument collection from around the world, which includes the Hurdy Gurdy, Sitar, Harmonium, Oud and a 1916 ‘harp …

Smokin’ in the City

filed24 Mar 2015 from

About 20,000 carnivores followed the waft of barbequed meat to Forest Place last April. The smell was strangely familiar but exactly what was that extra smoky aroma that brought them in droves to the inaugural Smokin’ in the City BBQ Challenge?

Forrest Chase

Hang on to your tongs, it wasn’t a simple backyard grilling affair. Grilling? What about that great Aussie tradition? However lovingly you marinate and tenderly place your high-grade meat onto a direct source of fire until its cooked; it’s …

Dinner is served

filed19 Mar 2015 from

“Apocalypse this way, salvation the other way!” declares Paige Janssen, the hostess with the mostest.

Black Swan 2015 Dinner 14 to 29 March Tasma Walton image by Robert Frith Acorn Photo

 

Raise your glass if you’ve ever been to a dinner party where you’ve longed to sneak off, if only to that happy place in your head. Now add vomit-inducing food and a hostess who planned the inedible menu as cunningly as she has choreographed the impending verbal slinging …

Mango madness

filed09 Mar 2015 from

mango boxWe generally associate mangoes with the tropics but about an east of Perth in Gingin, there are about 20 commercial growers handpicking their juicy fruit as I write this. The Mediterranean climate in the part of the world allows the fruit spend 120 days on the tree, which is one month more than in the tropics. The extra time before harvesting allows the sugars to become more developed, making them sweeter to eat, and the warm temperature also means minimal …

Wagin: An outback gem

filed06 Mar 2015 from

paddock art

Almost exactly halfway between Perth and Albany, the dusty outback town of Wagin toils away beneath a vast expanse of nothingness except for clouds swirling on a background of blue.

Wagin Little GemAs the outback scrub gives away to hills of faded gold, the Southern Wheatbelt region is dotted with cattle languidly grazing in paddocks while lorikeets and galas nibble on roadside picnics of seeds. The quintessential outback town of Wagin is at the crossroads of the Great Southern region; with Albany …

Far Out, Queensland

filed25 Feb 2015 from

Thala's private beach

Lonely footprints on sandy white beaches, swaying sugar cane fields and an outrageously turquoise sea. I’m starring in my very own travel brochure. Far Northern Queensland is the epitome of life in the slow lane and thankfully, I can’t see it ever speeding up.

The beauty continues at Thala Beach Lodge; it’s almost shameless. Located on a private 145 acre peninsula between Cairns and Port Douglas, you’re ideally situated to explore the hinterlands, Daintree rainforest, Cape Tribulation and of course …

Hola Colombian coffee

filed05 Feb 2015 from

Coffee cupping with La Jacoba

Coffee cupping with La Jacoba

Oh, the lengths I’ll go to for a decent cup of coffee. Like to the other side of world. I’ll soon be in the city of Pasto, in the department of Narino in south western Colombia, and bordering Equador.

It’s well and truly off the beaten tourist trail and yes, I promise to be careful of machete wielding drug lords cruising around the streets in search of random travel writers. This is generally the kind …

Barberyn Ayurveda: Sri Lanka’s Science of Life

filed19 Jan 2015 from

Deep sense of relaxation after the oil massage

There are few destinations as jam-packed as Sri Lanka with beaches, ancient civilisation, wildlife, spices, tea, culture, cuisine, gems, adventure sports, luxury hotels and the ancient philosphy of Ayurveda. Meaning the “Science of Life,” Ayurveda has been passed through the generations for over 5,000 years and is still practiced today. But I must confess, I’m slightly anxious about my stay in an Ayurveda resort, even though Barberyn is considered one of the most authentic and holistic healing retreats in the …

Feeling Freo: off-the-ship foray’s into Perth’s port town, Fremantle

filed15 Jan 2015 from

Cappuccino strip

Cappuccino strip

 

passengersWhere those of ill-repute reigned over what was once Australia’s roughest port town, Fremantle reinvented itself in the 1950’s with the arrival of Europeans immigrants. Then after winning the America’s Cup in 1987 the town rejoiced as the streets became lined with cafes, bars, shops museums, and buskers; the revellers may have dispersed but the party still remains 30 minutes west of Perth.

Seafarers, artists and misfits 4 hours or more

Explore Western Australia’s rich maritime history …

Houseboating through the backwaters of Kerala

filed12 Jan 2015 from

houseboats on river

Palm trees lean over the water’s edge to greet us as breaks in the foliage provide glimpses into a world of rice paddies. Every shade of green is startled by iridescent saris in blues, oranges, reds, and pinks. Escaping the hassle, wanna-be hippies and eye watering smog we board a houseboat on the backwaters of the state of Kerala. Located in the south-west corner of India and covering four districts Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha and Kochi, the waterways snake across 900 …

Singapore’s Chicken Rice War

filed07 Jan 2015 from

Beloved chicken rice

Beloved chicken rice

When Chinese immigrants arrived to the island of Singapore in the 1960’s, they brought both a strong labour force, and their beloved chicken rice. Since 77% of Singapore’s five million residents are Chinese, their favourite meal was soon adopted as the national dish. Eating is a serious business here: even the local the local greeting “sudah makan” means “Have you eaten?” Read the full article published with Ensemble Vacations Summer 2014 to see how seriously Singaporeans take …

2014 Newsletter…it’s a wrap

filed02 Jan 2015 from

me & carina

With Carina Hoang at the IPPY awards in New York

2014 was a huge year of travel and assignments with the highlight being winning an award for Permanent Impressions: A Salute to Contemporary Heroines. Not to mention the thrill of receiving the award in New York City. Most of you already know about my obsession with New York. I’m a writer without the appropriate words to describe its frenetic pace, inspiring urban landscape and coolness. As I write this, I …

Astor: the reluctant cruiser

filed19 Dec 2014 from

 

The luxurious Hanse Bar

The luxurious Hanse Bar

When it comes to cruising, I’m a novice. The extent of sailing the high (and low) seas includes a two night cruise from Mykonos to Venice on a Contiki tour, and living up to the tour company’s raucous reputation, most of it’s a blur except for cruising into Venice because who’d ever forget their first glimpse of that magical destination. The other two cruises were aboard houseboats; one through the verdant back waters of Kerala …

Interview with Cis & Barbiche writer Jenny Davis

filed11 Nov 2014 from

Cis and Barbiche cast outside York Royal Theatre UK July 2014

Cis and Barbiche cast York Royal Theatre UK July 2014

Cis and Barbiche is a moving tribute to the humanity of WWII as part of Remembrance Week. Presented by the Perth Theatre Trust and Agelink Theatre and returning from their UK tour, the play is based on the 200 passionate letters received in 1944 by a young Barbara Rigby from her lover French airman Francis. The story is brought to life by director and writer Jenny Davis who was kind …

Katie Noonan and Avedeon at the Artbar

filed04 Nov 2014 from

Katie Noonan and friends

Katie Noonan and friends

As Katie Noonan’s exquisite voice soars into the night with an Annie Lennox rendition of “There must be an angel,” I’m inclined to agree. The heavens concur with a light showering from above as a symphony of frogs joins in for the chorus.

Alongside her versatility and goose-bump inspiring renditions, is singer/songwriter Angie Har, poetic lyricist and vocalist Sam Buckingham, and Melody Pool, whose latest album The Hurting Scene is described as “These are songs that …

What Melbourne Cup race?

filed04 Nov 2014 from

donkey

I had lasted 11 hours in my silly shoes, but there was no way I could wear them for the twenty-minute hike back to the car. As my sandals dangled from my hands, the cool tarmac had taken a velvety texture beneath my bleeding feet.

The brisk air itched my sunburnt shoulders and ached every muscle as my hangover kicked in. However, I was healthier than many of the other punters we passed along the way. Some were in vomiting …

Gasp! review

filed31 Oct 2014 from

Lockheart's steam room

Lockheart’s steam room

Ben Elton’s latest satirical offering Gasp! is also his first stage production, and not only is Perth lucky to be the first audience to see it, but to also have a starring role.

But don’t be too flattered; remember we’re at the hands of Ben Elton’s caustic wit. And boy, does he nail it with every quick witted quip taking a swipe at our mining boom, the advertising industry and a few well-placed digs at the Minogue …

ANZAC Centenary

filed30 Oct 2014 from

Greens Pool...too beautiful to be real

Greens Pool…too beautiful to be real

The 1st November 1914 marks the day where 40,000 Australian and New Zealand troops set sail for the Western Front and Gallipoli. A third never returned and many of those that did never recovered. This weekend Albany commemorates the ANZAC Centenary with the opening of the National ANZAC Centre with events all over the region. Come and pay homage to these brave souls who helped shape Australia and explore the region in Great Southern

Uncovering the Peel region of Western Australia

filed27 Oct 2014 from

Lane Poole Reserve

Lane Poole Reserve

Just an hour’s drive from Perth and you can lose yourself in amongst the rugged scrub, a stunning coastline, rolling farmlands, majestic native forests, the languid Murray River, one of the world’s longest walking and cycling trails, waterfalls and Lane Poole Reserve; one of those special spots the locals would prefer you didn’t know about.

Uncover more here Uncovering the Peel region as published in Horizons Magazine August/September 2014

Raven foods

Raven Wines

 …

Gasp! interview with Greg McNeill

filed23 Oct 2014 from

Image by Rob FrithImagine having to pay for the air you breath? Or worse still, not being able to afford it? Injected with Ben Elton’s signature sharp wit, Gasp! will leave you, dare I say it, gasping for air between laughs at this satirical poke at Perth’s mining boom and political landscape. Co-produced with the Queensland Theatre Company and the Black Swan State Theatre Company, Gasp! showcases some of Brisbane’s and Perth’s most talented actors, including Greg McNeill who I had a chat …

Meandering Melbourne

filed17 Oct 2014 from

I was a little late to discover Melbourne's secret laneways

I was a little late to discover Melbourne’s secret laneways

Melbourne’s adorned laneways aren’t exactly a secret. Neither is the city’s vibrant food or shopping scene. It would be so easy to pay homage to its Victorian roots or compare it to the megatropolis of New York City. I’m not a local (although I’d jump at the chance to be one) and nor would I want to insult Melbournian’s with an outsider’s lowdown on their beloved treasure. But I am …

Land in hot water: Japanese style

filed26 Sep 2014 from

In some cultures floating around naked with strangers would land you in hot water. In Japan it quite literally does, but this is not a story about exploits in a far flung destination but a story about Japanese hot springs.

PR hot springs l_159767

The Japanese have been soaking in hot springs (onsens) for over 2,000 years and it’s safe to say they know a few things about this ancient tradition. With over 138 million people visiting 55,000 onsens every year and …

Bali: Eat, lay, bend and write

filed18 Sep 2014 from

statue2On a recent journey to Bali’s tranquil Ubud I didn’t find myself and despite hunting high and low not even Javier Bardem frolicking in the rice paddies either, sorry girls.  I did however discover many enticing ways to eat, lay, bend and write, with a few naughty detours along the way.

Nestled into the hillside and offering flourishing views every which way, ONEWorld Retreats (www.oneworldretreats.com) offer unique experiences at Ubud’s boutique hotel Kumara Sakti.  There’s no questioning the …

Laughter on the 23rd Floor – review

filed09 Sep 2014 from

 

Credit Gary Marsh Photography

Credit Gary Marsh Photography

Setting fire to the desk, throwing clothes out of the window and punching holes in the wall is just another day in the life of a writer; at least in many a writer’s head. Who hasn’t fantasised about throwing their computer out of the window? This probably would have happened too during “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” had computers been around in 1953.

Laughter on the 23rd Floor  Peter Rowsthorn as Max Prince  Image by Robert FrithSet during a time where writers and actors were black-listed by …

24 hours in Brisbane

filed08 Sep 2014 from

do not disturb

The Brisbane River weaves around the city’s peninsulas as freely as the friendly vibes float along the undulating streets. Brisbane is one of those cities which embraces its visitors immediately on arrival. Ask any local for recommendations and they’ll probably be able to list enough activities to keep you entertained for much longer than your intended stay; which in my case is just 24 hours.

I flew out of Perth early with Virgin Australia ensuring I have the maximum amount …

Stay fit and travel

filed22 Aug 2014 from

Staying in shape while on vacation can be difficult especially with the changes (and temptations) in your eating habits, environment and sleeping schedules throwing your usual routine out the window. Although a departure from the norm is kind of the point of travel, you can still stay healthy. Work-out sessions can be difficult to squeeze in while on the road, high seas, mountain ranges, hot air balloon or exotic waves, but these tips by guest blogger Gavin Apter, innovator of …

The Seagull Review

filed21 Aug 2014 from

0099 Leila George, Luke McMahon. The Seagull. Image by Gary Marsh

When The Seagull first opened in 1886, the reviews of Anton Chekhov’s labour of love weren’t favourable. Ironic considering the play deals with the woes of struggling writer Konstantin. As Chekhov refined the script and direction, it became a work in progress and had Konstantin also refined his own play within the play, Chekhov would have been telling a different story entirely. Art imitating life? Or the other way around?

Interestingly, to this day the play receives mixed reviews and …

The Last Confession review

filed11 Aug 2014 from

last confessionConspiracy theories will always abound about Pope John Paul I’s death. Never accepted into his sudden position of power after the death of Pope John XXIII, speculation festered about how he met his maker, especially among those closest to him during his brief 33 day reign in the Vatican in 1978. The Last Confession examines the unsolved crime, if in fact a crime was committed?

The performance is momentarily paused as David Suchet, famed for his role in over 70 …

Win a night at an ibis hotel near you

filed08 Aug 2014 from

You can now experience how great it is to stay at an ibis hotel and explore the city! ibis hotels Australia is giving away one night’s accommodation at an ibis hotel in/nearest to your home city in Australia. Head to the ibis Facebook page here and tell us in 25 words or less, what is the best activity to do near the Ibis hotel in/nearest to your home city. Comment on the status of this blog post and the best

Richard Avedon photography collection comes to Perth

filed06 Aug 2014 from

See if you can find Bob Dylan?

See if you can find Bob Dylan?

Never has the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words” rung more true than in the instance of photographer Richard Avedon.

Currently displayed at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth is very fortunate to only be the second city in the country to host Avedon’s exhibition. It’s the closest most of us will ever get to the famous faces peering out of their frames; especially since many of them are no …

Bangarra interview: Jasmin Sheppard & Thomas Greenfield

filed04 Aug 2014 from

Jasmin & Thomas in the throws of Partyegarang

Jasmin & Thomas in the throws of Partyegarang

Based on Lieutenant William Dawes notebooks during the arrival of the first fleet, the story of “Patyegarang” is released from the page and onto the stage. Powerful, evocative and exquisitely performed under Stephen Page’s choreography from the Bangarra Dance Theatre, I interview leading lady Patyegarang, played by Jasmin Sheppard, and Thomas Greenfield who plays the character of William Dawes.

 

Jasmin, you have an eclectic background of Irish, Chinese, Russian Jew and

Amanda Harrison Interview: Up Close and Reasonably Personal

filed31 Jul 2014 from

Amanda Harrison may be famed for her role as Elphaba in “Wicked”, but if the Melbourne reviews of her very own show “Up Close and Reasonably Personal” are anything to go by, the role of quirky diva may just her most ingenious career move yet.

 

Photo credit Kurt Sneddon

Photo credit Kurt Sneddon

What can Perth audiences expect during “Up Close and Reasonably Personal?”

The performance is humorous and intimate with a combination of me talking and singing about my life and career. …

Bell Shakespeare’s Henry V: Review

filed25 Jul 2014 from

Bell Shakespeare’s Henry V is a play within a play where the play is staged within a classroom during an air raid. Inspired by a true story about a group of 40 boys stuck in a bunker for 57 consecutive days who formed a “Boy’s Club.” Each week they would rehearse and perform a new play to raise the spirits of the other people in the bunker. It’s unknown if Henry V was performed by the “Boy’s Club”, but given …

Carluccio’s Recipe for Life

filed13 Jul 2014 from

As two anaconda pasta sheets snake along the walls of Perth’s Government House, Antonio Carluccio claps his hands in delight. The pasta-making competition is held in his honour for his first ever visit to Perth and the room is abuzz. The 75 year-old has taken the time out of his gruelling Australian tour to support the charity Mondo Community Warriors (MCW) founded by his close friend and butcher Vince Garreffa, aka the Prince of Flesh. Before entering the function he …

Interview with Luke McMahon

filed04 Jul 2014 from

At just 26 years of age Luke McMahon is another of WAAPA’s (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) rising stars. He might be based in Sydney but Luke has a soft spot for Perth, after all that’s where it all started.

 

LUKE MCMAHONTell me about your character Konstantin in The Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of “The Seagull”?

Konstantin (pronounced as though there’s an “e” on the end) is a tortured writer living in a time when symbolism and …

Dust Review Perth Winter Arts Season 2014

filed03 Jul 2014 from

It’s the morning of your wedding day. You’re all dressed in white, the flowers are white and so is the ice-cream wedding cake. In fact, the entire theme is white. Well, it was. After a night of unbridled passion, you’ve woken up in a hotel room with a stranger you had planned on never seeing again. But now you can’t leave the hotel. Dust. 28 June to 13 July State Theatre Centre Charlotte Devenport as Emma. Image by Robert FrithYou’re an Egyptian immigrant working as a taxi-driver to put yourself through university. Your passenger is unbelievably …

Perth Winter Arts Season 2014: Interview with Juliette Barton, Sydney Dance Company

filed20 Jun 2014 from

It’s not like Perth doesn’t already have a plethora of talented dancers of our own, but we’re very fortunate to have the Sydney Dance Company join us this season. What makes “2 One Another” special for Perth audiences is that three of the dancers are locals, two of which studied at WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). I was lucky to have a chat with delightful Perth girl Juliette Barton.

Sydney Dance Company

Juliette Barton and Andrew Crawford in 2 One Another

Why

Perth Winter Arts Season 2014

filed06 Jun 2014 from

The Perth Winter Arts Season is upon us again. Where has half the year gone already? As the town settles into winter and the locals’ endless complaints of the crisp mornings are usually accompanied by powder blue skies which hardly threaten to interrupt our endless pursuit of warmth, there is a bit of light on the cultural horizon.

Perth Winter Arts Season

The Black Swan Theatre Company’s production of Dust runs 29 June – 13 July

This June I don’t know whether to laugh, …

Permanent Impressions: Independent Publisher Book Awards Winner

filed01 May 2014 from

I’m very proud to report Permanent Impressions: A salute to contemporary heroines won Bronze in the Best Regional Non-fiction category for the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as the IPPYs. It was an absolute honour to work on such an amazing project with the incredibly talented artist Jana Vosedil and dynamic Carina Hoang of Carina Hoang Communications, who incidentally won Silver for her Boat People book in 2012. Permanent Impressions pays homage to 50 of Western Australia’s …

Singapore’s Chicken Rice Recipe

filed24 Apr 2014 from

Singapore’s chicken rice is the Asian equivalent of what chicken soup is to the soul and is eaten any time of the day or night and served everywhere from school canteens to high-end restaurants. Originally from Hainan Island, south of China, the dish is also often called Hainanese Chicken Rice, and is a meal of steamed or blanched chicken, fragrant rice and chicken broth eaten with soy sauce, spring onions, slices of cucumber and a ground chili and ginger sauce. …

Smokin’ in the city BBQ challenge

filed01 Apr 2014 from

BBQ challenge

 

Come down to Forrest Chase on 13th April for the ONLY authentic US-style BBQ challenge! Sample the spoils, put together a team or provide sponsorship. There’s cash prizes and all proceeds go to Mondo Community Warriors charity inconjunction with Lifeline, Eat Drink Perth and the Butcher’s Picnic. For more details go to www.smokininthecity.com.au or contact Stephan Jenner on stephan.jenner@mcw.org.au

And here’s a little something about authentic US Style BBQ-ing to whet your appetite Where there’s smoke there’s flavour

meat on BBQ

Sex, lies and fire at the Guildford Hotel

filed07 Mar 2014 from

guildford hotel b&w

 

Our party of three devours Devonshire teas beneath the flamboyant burgundy and gold ceiling rose in the café of the Guildford Hotel. Built in 1886, with an imposing Italianate style typical of the gold boom period, its location, at the junction of James and Johnson Streets, captured the traffic to and from the Goldfields. And according to my companions, the Guildford Hotel was once run as a brothel. The twins, Elsie and Sylvia, were born, raised and have lived …

Take five in Bali

filed12 Feb 2014 from

banana crepes effect

My day begins with a breakfast of sweet banana crepes wrapped around avocado, mango cream and sliced bananas topped with a fresh fruit compote and chocolate cream, followed by a flower facial tonic and virgin coconut oil body scrub, and then a recline in a private bathhouse lit by chromo-therapy lighting. All of these activities occur by the rambling rapids of the Ayung River in Ubud, Bali. Fivelements certainly dispels the myth that health retreats are gruelling.

For the full …

It’s Kung Hei Fat Choy time again

filed01 Feb 2014 from

dragon_edited-1

It’s that time of the year again when you’re happily slurping up your noodles and then suddenly there’s a dragon and its show time

This auspicious day falls on 31st January and is followed by 15 days of celebrations all over the world.

Perth is no exception with plenty of horsing around all over the city but most notably is the community event held in Northbridge by the Chung Wah Association on 9th February. Along James Street there will …

2013 in a camera case

filed31 Dec 2013 from

camera at sunset

I may be a writer, but as one specialising in travel, this online world demands pretty photos as much, if not more so, as words. Hence, most travel writers are also professional photographers by default.

When packing for a trip the bulk of my luggage is books, beauty products (yes, I know I have a problem) writing materials (including the old fashioned method as well as a laptop) and my Canon with an assortment of lenses. I never seem to …

Fluffy Towel’s Travel Trivia Challenge

filed09 Dec 2013 from

If you’re a fan of Fluffy Towel’s Facebook page you would have probably noticed, if not participated in Fluffy Towel’s inaugural Travel Trivia Challenge. Last week I released four questions a day as below and the person who answered the most correctly is the winner of a $50 Amazon voucher. Wanna know who the winner was? Well, you’ll have to like the page to find out. I know, I know, I can be such a tease sometimes. Anyway, here’s the …

Manila Madness

filed24 Nov 2013 from

We’ve all seen the heartbreaking photos in the wake of Haiyan. And while many of us probably won’t be rushing out to book our next holiday to the Philippines, it’s a shame, because not only do they need tourists more than ever, it’s a fascinating country.

The sprawling metropolis of Manila has many mini cities within its labyrinth and several years ago I took a walking food tour through Chinatown, actually it was more like an eating tour as I …

5Pointz(less) act of destruction

filed20 Nov 2013 from

In what is deemed as a spiteful act on the owners part, 20 years of graffiti art has been wiped clean at 5Pointz. The sprawling warehouse in Queens has been a graffiti mecca for artists all over the world. The dilapidated building complex has been earmarked for demolition for the end of 2013 to make way for luxury apartments. Perhaps the whitewashing of the artwork is a humane approach to the art-clad walls being pulled down, but I’m in …

Bunker Bay, takes my breath away

filed13 Nov 2013 from

bunker bay

 

I recently had a glorious stay at Pullman Resort Bunker Bay and all the words and photos in the world can’t do this part of the world enough justice. No wonder all Western Australian’s get a dreamy look on their faces whenever you mention the Margaret River region. Read the full article published in Qatar Airlines inflight magazine here Pullman Resort Bunker Bay

 

 …

How to survive a health retreat

filed02 Nov 2013 from

Whether it’s an ashram in rural India or a 5-star facility in some far flung destination, you’ve done the research and selected the ideal health retreat. Or so you thought as you’re poked and prodded, basted in oil and prescribed foul tasting medicinal potions. Here are 10 reasons to stick it out.yoga

 

  1. Feeling good. No matter what happens, or how tired or confronted or hungry or sick you feel, it passes. You will feel better and be healthier than

Finding Perth

filed29 Oct 2013 from

I’ve landed a great gig writing for Findery where I get to “find” cool stuff in my hometown Perth, Western Australia.I’ve seen dead animals at the Natural History Museum in Guildford, got my girls out with a Breastique Art workshop, braved a storm in a campervan in Denmark, discovered some great coffee at Love Thy Neighbour, unearthed why honeymooners once flocked to Ngilgi cave in Yallingup and even did some of my research in the horizontal position at Hidden Valley …

Around the world in 43 fluffy days

filed21 Oct 2013 from

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

The past few weeks have been quite a journey. I traversed the globe in 43 days from Perth to Qatar, New York, Philadelphia, Alabama, Memphis, back to New York then San Francisco and onto the Ubud Writer’s Festival in Bali. I’ve met many wonderful and inspiring people along the way and encountered overwhelming hospitality and generosity. I’ve been awe of astounding beauty, music and art. Hell, I’ve been to Graceland, walked in Jack Kerouac’s footsteps …

Van Gogh, Dali & Beyond: The World Reimagined

filed02 Sep 2013 from

The Perth Winter Arts festival may officially be over for 2013 but the delights continue with the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Dali. Since they’ve travelled in outstanding company all the way from New York’s MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) it would be foolish to not rush to the Art Gallery of Western Australia to bathe in their glory, angst and pain.

Van Gogh, Dali & Beyond: The World Reimagined is visually stunning and inspires many awe-inspiring moments where …

Feeling porky

filed29 Aug 2013 from

Some of you Perth-ites might have attended the Butcher’s picnic back in March. My husband competed in the Home Cook Competition and although he didn’t win, his pork chops were a hit with the crowd and so popular the West Australian published his Crumbed Pork with Corn and Sage Pancakes recipe.

Crumbed Pork Chops with Corn and Sage Pancakes

Crumbed Pork Chops with Corn and Sage Pancakes

A Saucy Little Secret

filed14 Aug 2013 from

Saucy Little Secret

Its 1920. The mood is as slinky as a satin gown and the air reeks of scandal.

Undressing Ellington’s audience with her eyes, Ma Rainey (billed as The Mother of the Blues and played by Di Shaw, co-founder of the Deck Chair Theatre) makes a bee-line for the damsels before her. No-one in a skirt is safe and there’s no question her tastes favour the fairer sex, as do the rest of the characters from A Saucy Little Secret.

While …

Other Desert Cities

filed14 Aug 2013 from

Other Desert Cities. Rebecca Davis. Image by Robert Frith

Any member of a dysfunctional family will spend the duration of Other Desert Cities nodding and chuckling knowingly. It’s safe to say it’s a performance which appeals to the masses.

Set in Palm Springs on the edge of the desert, there is an immediate sense of remoteness which many Perth-ites can relate to. The entire show plays out in witty Polly and, former actor and politician, Lyman Wyeth’s contemporary home. Given the slick setting, the mood is deceptively serene, at …

Truffle Time

filed29 Jul 2013 from

On the 28th July in 2003 the first ever (well, the first documented one) truffle was found in Western Australia’s Manjimup. Ten years on, the Wine and Truffle Co. is so successful they now export to the US, Germany and France.

I went on a truffle hunt last week and I can still smell that earthy aroma. And as you can see below hunting for truffles is a very simple process…once you’ve selected the right plot of land, inoculated the …

Permanent Impressions launches in Perth

filed14 Jul 2013 from

I’m thrilled to announce that Permanent Impressions has been officially launched and here I am holding one of the first copies to land in Perth! It was a great honour to be asked to write the profiles to accompany 50 portraits of WA’s most influential women. The portraits are not for sale and will remain as a collection as a whole, however the book retails for $45. Find our more about the exhibition dates and order your copy here

Permanent Impressions & me

 …

10 Reasons to Desert Yourself on Gaya Island

filed14 Jul 2013 from

yoga

 

As the speedboat zoomed towards Gaya Island Resort, I was already devising ways to never return to reality.

A few minutes off the coast of Kota Kinabalu on the Malaysian state of Sabah lies a refuge away from life as most of us know it. Located on the island of Pulau Gaya within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Malohom Bay sweeps majestically at the Gaya Island Resort’s feet.

Gaya Island villas

1. Lay down and weep

On the approach in it’s …

What a lovely way to burn with Grace Knight

filed12 Jul 2013 from

Grace Knight

Perth holds great sentimental value for Grace Knight as it was her first port of call in Australia and a place she called home for many years. It’s where she formed Eurogliders and confesses if it hadn’t been for her escape from the UK, she may well have become a guest of her Majesty’s.

No doubt the animated performer also holds many dreamy memories for her abundant fan base; she does for me after a performance at Belvoir Ampitheatre several …

Writing Workshop with Amanda Curtin

filed12 Jul 2013 from

Amanda Curtin

As soon as I entered the room, I knew I’d arrived. Sounds like an opening to a novel. Just as well since I’ve landed in the fiction writing workshop of esteemed author, Amanda Curtin. As she gently guided us through our writing exercises she set a reassuring and calming tone that all aspiring writers crave. The underlying theme throughout was the golden rule of writing, “Show, not tell!”

We began with a “wild writing” session where we’re encouraged to write …

Perth International Burlesque Festival 2013

filed12 Jul 2013 from

Jacqueline Furey opens the show in a blaze of waist length strawberry locks and ends with little more than red feather fans

Jacqueline Furey opens the show in a blaze of waist length strawberry locks and ends with little more than red feather fans

I was lucky enough to be invited by Show Me Perth to the opening party of the Perth International Burlesque Festival 2013 and here’s what I had to say about it:

The crowd ducks as blonde bombshell Banbury Cross sprays her adoring fans with champagne. Holding the bottle above her, she drizzles the remaining nectar over her body …

Ayurveda Unveiled

filed27 Jun 2013 from

Shirodhara with therapist -IMG_0849_small

 

One of the oldest forms of holistic healing in the world, Ayurveda promotes natural beauty, positive health and a long life. Sri Lanka heaves with Ayurveda practitioners and treatments vary from wandering into a centre for a relaxing massage to an intensive stay at an Ayurvedic resort where you’ll be revived physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Before booking your plane tickets and going all zen-like here’s the lowdown on life at an Ayurvedic resort.

1.       Up close & personal

It’s …

Fluffy Towel Relaunch

filed25 Jun 2013 from

Just doing my thing in the stunning Santo Domingo Church and former monastery in Oaxaca, Mexico

Just doing my thing in the stunning Santo Domingo Church and former monastery in Oaxaca, Mexico

Welcome to the relaunch of the Fluffy Towel web-site. The Fluffy Towel travel philosophy remains intact and is for travellers (armchair travellers included) who enjoy their adventures with a fluffy towel at the end of the day. Although sometimes the towels won’t necessarily be all that fluffy, like for example with my upcoming trip to Western Australia’s Greater Southern region in a campervan. Yes, …

Author of Sex and the City, Candace Bushnell is coming to Perth

filed20 Jun 2013 from

Sex & sarong party

I don’t mean to name drop, okay maybe a little bit but Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City, is coming to town so don’t miss out on having Cosmos with Candace. She’s an absolute delight, a New York broad through and through and it’s like talking to the real Carrie Bradshaw.

I heard her speak a couple of years at the Galle Literary Festival, as above, at a wonderful event called Sex in a Sarong on the …

The Mexican Suitcase

filed19 Jun 2013 from

zocalo fish eye

How fortuitous for a suitcase containing thousands of lost negatives from the Spanish Civil War to be found by a film-maker. In fact, the story of the journey of the suitcase is interesting on its own, but not nearly as fascinating as its contents.

As war survivors share their horrific tales, The Mexican Suitcase incorporates many of the retrieved photos into the documentary with disturbing images of ravaged corpses, boy soldiers with rifles, women performing hard labour and sad-eyed children.…

The Artist and the Model

filed19 Jun 2013 from

spanishff

Set in the Pyrenees in occupied France during 1943, The Artist and the Model depicts a time where men dressed elegantly, creative types didn’t rely on technology to produce art and models had bodies that embraced their womanliness, body hair and all. So when model Merce, (Aida Folch) reveals the wisps of her armpit, it’s almost as shocking as the complete nudity she displays for much of the movie.

After escaping from a concentration camp Merce is picked up off …

Rooftop Comedy

filed19 Jun 2013 from

conservatory_cropped

As patrons perched on top of the Conservatory Rooftop Bar bathed in red light while giggling about the ridiculousness of life, it was easy to forget about the crisp night air. With a New York meets Miami vibe, the light changed to blue and then green to match the palms and turf flooring.

MC Dan Willis swifty carried the show and was surprisingly gentle on the “white collar crowd” considering he was no doubt more liberal with his previous performance …

Apache CLIP Award

filed19 Jun 2013 from

Svetlalana Baily_CLIP 2012 Winner

If photos of pretty landscapes are your thing then you won’t mind that the Apache CLIP Award is over. On the other hand, if you’re swayed by the grittiness of reality you’ll be watching this space, particularly the exhibition space of the Perth Centre for Photography (PCP) for its next exciting instalment.

CLIP stands for Contemporary Landscapes in Photography and the criteria of the competition was to create original and stimulating pieces to challenge traditional landscapes. The Apache CLIP Award …

BBQ-ing US style

filed07 Jun 2013 from

The Australian Tongmaster Team, MLA, BBQ aficionados and Kevin

The Australian Tongmaster Team, MLA, BBQ aficionados and Kevin

After the sun had long disappeared I pondered on how I ended up in a field in Lexington’s North Carolina passively smoking a beef brisket and drinking the local moonshine. RV’s with palatial proportions steamed into town for the BBQ-ing version of Woodstock at the Annual Capital BBQ Cook-off 28th-29th April 2012.  Heaving with 50 competing teams vying for the $15,900 prize money, many of the competitors were …

Antonio Carluccio: Interview

filed07 Jun 2013 from

smiling

In 2012 I was lucky enough to not only meet Antonio Carluccio in Perth but to also spend about 24 hours with the delightful chef and author. An absolute pleasure so stay tuned for a more in-depth story coming up soon.

Read my interview for Scoop here

Don’t look out the front windscreen

filed07 Jun 2013 from

ongoing truck in tuk-tuk

When travelling around Third World and developing countries I have a rule. It’s the only thing I have control over when being flung around the back of a stinky taxi in KL or griping onto the side of a tuk-tuk in India. DON’T look out the front windscreen. Trust me, its better that way. You don’t see the oncoming trucks or the cows who refuse to move away from a mad intersection. You don’t even notice the look of terror …