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An Iconic end of an era!

It has been a week since the curtain fell on the final STYLEAID and what a week it has been.

StyleAID 2017 ICON

Every year when the dust settles and sleep has been caught up I reflect on the journey to date and this year it is tinged with both joy and sadness.

Joy because the night was such an amazing look back and celebration of what we have achieved over the past 20 years and also sad because it is the last STYLEAID as we have grown to know and love.

STYLEAID has certainly been on an amazing journey over the past 20 years and in that time the event has managed to raise over $1.6 million for the important work of the WA AIDS Council.

Each year I have been blessed to have been supported internally at the AIDS Council with the most amazing staff and volunteers and with the most talented and hard working STYLEAID Committee who have each year worked to make the event a memorable one!

For the final STYLEAID we moved into the new Crown Ballroom in Crown Towers and it was the most amazing space to put the show together in and gave us more room than we have ever had!

When we were planning the night we wanted to go out on a high and bring back a range of elements from previous years whilst still giving the event the edge that we have become famous in creating.

To start the evening people were greeted with 4 Angel boys in black wings taking centre stage and they were then joined by the incomparable Ali Bodycoat who wowed the audience with the most powerful, scene setting songs that raised the roof and set the mood for the night ahead!

Then there was a parade unlike anything we have done before, featuring 20 ICONIC WA Designers and 20 of the top models in WA.  This was followed by a breathtaking performance from the WA Ballet, a drag performance that hit the right note and got the party started at the end of the night, a DVD that reminded the audience about the impact that HIV still has on peoples lives in 2017 and a memorable finale which saw the committee take a final bow.  We were fortunate to once again have DJ Shaun Sandon close the night of with the best music for the guests to dance to and remember the ICONIC finale!

STYLEAID has been instrumental in supporting not just the work of the AIDS Council but also a range of WA designers, emerging designers and new and established models.  All of these elements have been central to the event.

LUX Events created a mind blowing series of 4 runways with central screens that set the mood and Fox and Rabbit created the most amazing flowers for the front row tables and also created a piece for the entrance to the ballroom that had guests oohing in amazement.

This was a fitting finale for STYLEAID and the feedback has been so fabulous and I am grateful to all those who have been involved in the journey so far.

What’s next, was a question that I got all night – WATCH THIS SPACE is all I can say.

StyleAID 2017 ICON

Thanks to the amazing John Koh for the fabulous photographs xx

ICONIC Photographs take center stage

After a triumph last year out at Karrinyup Shopping Center the STYLEAID Photographic Exhibition returned to Center Court last night to showcase the work of 15 talented West Australian photographers.  As you will know Fundraising and events have played a central role in my work at the AIDS Council for the past 20 years and this year the suite of amazing events has continued!

I had a fabulous day at Karrinyup working with an amazing team to get the exhibition ready to open to invited guests. With Annette Hasluck, Bill Wenham, Tania McGuinness, Ben Conroy and the team from LUX Events our day was spent hanging, cleaning, preparing, creating and turning center court into a gallery space for the wonderful photographs.

The theme for STYLEAID this year is ICON and this was also the theme for the exhibition.  Each photograph that was selected represents the photographers’ unique interpretation of the theme.

They are all one off prints and so each one that is purchased gives the person who buys it the knowledge that they are getting an individual piece that no one else will have.

100% of each photograph sold goes back to support the work of the WA AIDS Council thanks to sponsorship from Karrinyup Shopping Centre, AMP Capital, Spice Digital Printing, Plastic Sandwich Company, Vinaceous Wines, Matso’s, San Pellegrino, Hart Black and LUX Events.

Over 100 photographs were submitted for consideration and 40 were selected to be featured at the exhibition.

The theme really resonated with the photographers and also with the guests who attended last nights opening!

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Andrew Shugg and his team from Your Bartender, set up and served libations to guests all night and Styled Notion created another memorable food tasting table.

I was especially taken by the work of Carlos Fernandes, Christine Kopti Dirksz and Richard Matias who all did very different but breath taking interpretations of the theme.

Liam Rhys Jones created 4 very special photographs based around ICONIC fashion designer Alexander McQueen, whilst Shift Creative once again grabbed the theme and created 3 stunning images that reminded of those seeing the photographs of the sensuality and strength of women.

Ryan Ammon went for ICONIC fashion to create his homage to looks through the years, whilst Matt Ranford created 4 images that represented Icons of music – the tape, the CD, the vinyl record and an iPod.

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Nikki-Marie Rogers presented 2 images that challenge gender and societal expectations of what it is to be a lesbian in 2017 with a sensual and powerful representation of 5 young Perth lesbians.

Tristan Jud was another favorite of those in attendance with his clever shots encouraging us all to be our own Icons.  Rounding out the photographers on show were Bharathan Kangatheran, Craig Williams & Shane Newton, Fifi Robinson, Derec Ethan Lee and Michelle Miretha who all put their own personal talented spin on the theme.

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The exhibition will run until July 2nd, so if you are in Karrinyup or even in the area, stop by and have a look.  15 of the photographs were sold on opening night so there are still plenty on offer.

If one takes your fancy give Tania a call at the WA AIDS Council and get your hands on one of the stunning one- off photographs on show.

 

A Bali Odessey – Seminyak has lost its lustre

Having just returned from Bali a couple of weeks ago I have had time to really contemplate and think about this latest trip.

Of course as someone who is based in Perth, one of the cheapest and easiest holiday destinations is Bali and so for the past 30 years we have been heading up there fairly regularly when we wanted a few days break, some respite from the hustle and bustle of Perth and some chilled out down time.

On the recommendations of friends (some of whom where with us on parts of this trip) we did things a little differently.  Trevor had decided after our last trip that he did not really want to spend time in Seminyak again for a range of reasons that I will talk about later on.

So it was some new parts of Bali that we headed for the first 11 days of our 2 week stay with a final 3 nights in Seminyak for last minute shopping and the chance to re connect with some of our favorite spots.

The first 5 days were spent up in Ubud, a place that we had only every visited for the day and what a purely magical place it was.  There was not all the chaotic times on the roads, the pace was more laid back and the foot paths and roads were not filled with people touting and selling.  The locals were more respectful and friendly and it really set the scene for 5 magical days of exploring, sitting by the pool and exploring some great new restaurants.

The Komeneka Rasa Sayang

We stayed at the Komeneka Rasa Sayang and were spoil t with a stunning large room with balcony and a bathroom that was perfect – 2 sinks, great tub and a stunning large shower!   The pool was a nice size and the staff were professional, courteous and never in your face.  It was the perfect way to start the trip.

It was great to wander the streets and never feel hassled.  We had some great meals in the local warungs and a stunning meal one night at Bridges where there was a group of 14 of us.  The food was sensational and this is really one of the best restaurants in Ubud. The only thing that let it down was the mediocre service.  They got a couple of the orders wrong and they never seemed to be around when you wanted to order another drink.  But making up for that was the food, which was simply some of the most amazing that we had in Bali.

The other simply breathtaking spot that we went to for dinner was The Chedi Club.  A small boutique (and very expensive) place to stay that has an incredible restaurant that serves and exceptional degustation menu with matched wines.  It is a fabulous resort and the food, service and night that we had there was truly memorable.

The Chedi Club

After our time in Ubud came to an end we then headed to Sukawati to the Royal Purnama Art Suites and Villas.  We found this spot on Luxury Escapes and booked a 7 night stay in an ocean view spa villa.

The Royal Purnama

They picked us up from the Komeneka in a stunning car that had leather reclining seats and had chilled towels to cool ourselves, snacks for the trip from Ubud and bottled water.

This was just the perfect way to start this next part of the trip and 20 minutes later we arrived to be greeted by very welcoming professional staff.  This is a real 5 star resort and as it was low season there were not many other guests which made for a truly magical experience as we really wanted to chill, lay by the pool and read a book and just enjoy the down time.

Our villa was simply divine! With a large front balcony with views of the ocean and an on balcony spa the room then opened up the a large king size bed, a sitting area, even a small kitchen and then the largest most luxurious bathroom.

The amazing Villa with gorgeous amenities and views

The deal we had included breakfast every day, afternoon canapes, an afternoon tea by the pool, a seafood dinner for 2, a beach side BBQ for 2 and 2 ninety minute bamboo massages.  Each one of these was fabulous and it really was the perfect spot to unwind and really relax.

Fabulous food at the Royal Purnama

They also offer daily trips to Sanur and Ubud if you get a little stir crazy just staying at the resort.  We did a couple of trips to Sanur and 1 evening went back to Ubud and found the most wonderful French Bistro.

The food was delightful and they really went to town with breakfast each day.  Unlike the big resorts who offer a buffet breakfast this was a more tailored approach that really worked.  Firstly we were served coffee and our choice a freshly squeezed juice combinations such as beetroot, apple and ginger.  This was followed by fresh cut tropical fruit, freshly baked pastries and then we had the choice to order from the menu our main dish.

A memorable breakfast each day at The Royal Purnama

This was the perfect way to start the day and every meal that we had whilst we were there was delicious and the prices were reasonable.

Then it was time to head to Seminyak for the final 3 nights and a stay in the Villa Mystique with our friends Ken and Karen.  The Villa was huge, well appointed, if a little dated but with our own large pool and plenty of space it was a nice haven to get away from the chaos that rains supreme in Seminyak.

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As you will know if you have read any of my previous reviews of Bali, I love the restaurants in Seminyak but what I have noticed over the past couple of trips is that the prices have been going up – closer to Perth prices than what you expect from Bali, the roads are always busy and chaotic and it takes much longer to get anywhere than it used to (the roads are simply not made for all of the large people movers that now dominate the roads) and it is just packed everywhere you go.

It seems that it has moved from being a relaxing time away in Seminyak to being a chaotic, full on, pricey spot to stay in.  Really it has lost its lustre for me and from now on when we choose to head back to Bali we will be heading straight for Ubud – a true Bali oasis that offers the things that I have come to expect from Bali.  Seminyak for me is like Perth in a tropical location now…it does not offer much of that traditional Bali culture and experience.  Most of the top restaurants are owned by Aussies, which of course is fine, but they forget they are in Bali and have set Australian prices and over the past couple of trips I have seen the prices go up and as that happens the tourists stay away and so the landscape continues to change and evolve.

They need to be careful because if the prices do continue to rise then people will find that Bali and in particular Seminyak is just too expensive and for the same price  you can experience somewhere else such as Singapore or Thailand.

We will be back but Ubud it will be from now on!

 

Bentley – simply the best!

 

Just by chance on our recent trip to Sydney where we happened to be staying at the Radisson Blu for the weekend did we realize that we had a Good Food Guide 2 Hat restaurant at the hotel.

Having moved into the Radisson from its original location the Bentley has continued to build on its stellar reputation by offering an innovative, delightful, well considered and constructed dining experience.

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We chose the Saturday night to dine at the restaurant and every Saturday they offer 2 different degustation options – a 5 course or 8 course opportunity to sample the magic that the chefs weave.  Of course we chose the 8 course option because it gave us the chance to really indulge in some of the most amazing food and really get a sense of what was on offer.

Along with this there were 2 options for matching wines – either a $90 range or the premium range of wines that was $150 per head…and of course we chose the premium wines and what a real treat they were.

What I love about fine dining and eating in a restaurant where the team that serve you really know their stuff is the attention to detail, without being overbearing. The other thing is that all the staff really knew and understood the menu they were serving and the Sommelier understood and explained the significance of each wine and the role that is played with each course and exactly why it was chosen, where it was from and a little about the winemaker.  All of this just added to the occasion and created a truly memorable experience.

As with all top restaurants we began with the Amuse and then we jumped right into the menu and wines.

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Firstly we were served Alfonsino with yellow pepper, marigold and finger lime.  This was such a perfect way to start the meal and the finger lime added that extra tartness that really engaged and woke our mouths up with each bite.

This was followed by Kangaroo with plum, onion and freekah.  Oh my goodness another taste sensation (you will get used to these sorts of remarks all the way through this review as there really was not one course that disappointed and each had stand out elements that you just could not fault).  The plum added an amazing surprise and gave the whole dish an element of freshness but did not detract from the kangaroo at all.

The bass groper was next and this was served with shaved pumpkin, green olive and shiso. The stand out of this dish was the sweetness of the groper and the just blanched pumpkin that completed the dish completely and was a stunning addition to complete the dish.

Then it was time for the duck with pickled muntries, comta and kohlrabi.  The duck was melt in your mouth perfection and I have not had kohlrabi since I worked as a chef in Melbourne a million years ago and it added yet another dimension to the dish with along with the muntires and comta completed the dish perfectly.

Pork cheek with garlic and yoghurt puree served with grilled radiccho and jamon  was another stand out.  The pork cheek was seared and cooked to perfection and the grilled radicchio did not diminish the bitterness of it and yet again added a sense of complexity to the dish.

Before we went to 2 of the most amazing sweet courses we were served the wagyu skirt steak that was served with charred onion and woodear mushroom.  This again was melt in your mouth, full of flavor and a truly memorable dish.  Each of the meat courses offered very different flavors and the flow of them was well thought out and a real delight.

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And now to what we agreed, if we had to choose, were the 2 highlights of the night.  Firstly it was the apple sorbet that was served with fennel and native thyme.  Oh my what the most perfect palette cleanser this was.  It was full of apple flavor and was the most perfect sorbet I have ever had.

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The final course of the night was simply the best – sweet corn ice cream with puffed sorghum wheat and dried blueberries.  There really are not enough words to describe the delight of this dish.  It was surprising, light, fresh, clean on the palette, filled with amazing flavors that just worked incredibly well together and was the most amazing way to complete these 8 courses.

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Finally there was some small petite fours the complete a truly memorable night and what I think has been the best degustation dining experience that I have ever had.

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Now for the wines…I would love to list them all here and tell you all about them, and the restaurant did say they were going to send me the list and I am still waiting for that but I was paying so much attention to what the sommelier was saying that I did not take notes.

We did however experience some truly memorable wines including:

Terjola Tsiska Dry White 2015 from Georgia (I was not even aware that they made in Georgia) but it was full of complex flavors and an interesting first wine.

Then there was the 2014 Chablis Premier Cru Montee de Tonnerre, a simple chablis that we rated as one of the best of the night.

The Cote du Py Morgan was a 2012 vintage filled with raspberry notes and a nice acidic response in the mouth that went perfectly with the duck course.

The Vina Tondonia Gran Reserve 2004 was dry with dark fruit top notes and a more traditional finishing palette but a delight none the less.

The 2015 Olberg Riesling was the perfect riesling for dessert, not too sweet with an slight acid after taste but a fresh palette and just added another dimension to the sweets.

The final wine for the night was from Sauterne and was a 2000 Barsac Permier Grand Cru Classe.  It was filled with toffee, sweet fruit and a true delight.

This was truly a night to remember and if you are in or heading to Sydney then do yourself a favor and check out this amazing restaurant I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

The Bentley

Upscale Modern Australian cuisine, plus an acclaimed wine list, in an industrial-chic luxury hotel.
Address: Corner Pitt + Hunter Streets, Sydney NSW 2000

The hunt for a great breakfast in Perth continues!

If you are a follower of my posts you will know that over the past couple of years, Trevor and I are always on the look out for a great spot to have breakfast.

In telling times here in Perth it seems that the landscape of cafes is coming and going at a rapid pace.  It almost seems that each week there seems to be a new place opening whilst 3 or 4 close their doors.

There are a couple of things that I need to make me entertain going somewhere more than once and I am a creature of habit, so if all the boxes are ticked then I will become a regular.

Over the past year we have settled into a routine with 3 particular spots and do also occasionally venture into new territory when we want to test a new spot that has cropped up or something changes in one of our current favorites.

The three things that are a must for me when choosing a cafe for breakfast are:

  • good coffee
  • free WiFi
  • good service that is not intrusive.

If you tick those 3 items and you serve a good selection of breakfast food options then you will be a place I love to have breakfast in.

The reason I am putting this post out there is over the past weekend 2 of our regular spots let us know that for very different reasons they would not be there any more.

Every Saturday morning for the past 3 years we have headed to Boho Espresso in Scarborough opposite Observation City.  In that time Donny and his team have given us great coffee, free wifi and some of the best poached eggs on toast.  Add to that the locals who meet and greet each other and you have a great location for breakfast just near the beach.

All that is about to change as Donny is going to be closing the doors after this coming weekend because the disruption that has happened to his business because of all of the redevelopment happening in Scarborough on the foreshore and with the closure of the end of Scarborough Beach Road has meant that his business has seen a massive decrease in people stopping by.  There is no real foot traffic and it is just the regulars that were keeping the doors open.  He is having to let his staff go and is just not bringing in enough money to actually cover costs let alone make any profit.

This is a travesty really, the local Council is not really interested in anyway in supporting any of the businesses that are all suffering (and goodness knows that those that have survived will deal with winter when traffic is even less in the area) from the disruption of all the work going on.

Whilst most people are agreed that the update is necessary and will really add another level to the Scarborough area, no real thought has gone into supporting the local businesses who are all suffering badly from this.

And then we come to our second breakfast spot, FEZ in Mt Lawley,  which we have been heading too for about 5 months and that we fell in love with the first time we went there because, as you would know if you follow my posts, the coffee is some of the best coffee in Perth and we have felt at home there since our first visit.

Sunday Julie, the owner let us know that she had been given on offer to sell the business (even though it was not on the market) and much more than she paid for it and being a switched on business woman it was an offer she could not refuse.

So this coming weekend we lose not 1 but 2 breakfast spots and the hunt is now on for somewhere new to go to.  Whilst Fez is not closing, Julie is one of main reasons for heading to Fez and really adds another dimension to the breakfast experience.

It seems that the rotation of cafes opening and closing continues as we all deal with limited budgets and selecting when and were we spend our hard earned dollars.  Even though we keep getting told that the mining boom fall out is over, I think we are all still being cautious about our spending and so lots of areas of retail are suffering!

If you have any suggestions about a great spot in Perth to head for breakfast on the weekend then please let me know…but do remember my 3 needs for a good breakfast spot!

First world problems but hey the search for some new breakfast locations continues!

 

7 Reasons Why My Being Gay And Over 50 Is Tragic, According To Everyone Else

I found this article today on Huffington Post and it really resonated with me and so I just had to share it.  Thanks to the amazing David Toussaint who hits it out of the park with his observations on life for those of us over 50 who are gay!

1.) Because I’m way too old to be sexually active.

It’s not uncommon to get a Scruff message from a stranger along the lines of “What are you, like 60? Jesus.” That’s the one I received a few days back. I didn’t engage, but if I were 60 I don’t think being on Grindr or Scruff or any other hookup app would be a bad thing. On the contrary, being sexually active at any age is a sign of health and spirit and enjoying our sex-drenched fingertip world. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. If you do have a problem with people older than you being sexual, you’re looking at your own repressed future.

 

2.) Because every conversation with men my age should center around the time when we were younger, and better.

Many men my age talk incessantly about younger times, forgetting that we’re still alive and kicking and, hopefully, in good health. Some do it to such excess that I avoid spending time with them—I’m over college and “boys” and I’ve got TMC if I want to indulge in the Golden Days. I’m the biggest sentimentalist alive, but I wake up each morning wanting to live in the moment and enjoy every minute of what the past has presented. It’s not always easy, and growing older has its hardships. But I’m still living “In my day,” and I hope that day stays as bright and long as a June summer night.

 

3.) Because I’m too old to have new ideas.

Never mind getting turned down for a writing job I initially created (they gave it to an underwear model who doesn’t write), I’ve learned that, in gay world, my creativity should have ended about the time many of my friends’ lives did. I’m under-represented in gay-themed films and TV shows, and print publications don’t seem to know that I exist. If I submit an article idea about life over 50, it better be tragic, and short, because we’re not marketable. Unless we’re tragic, and short-lived.

 

4.) Because I need a chemical boost to my sex life, a fat freeze, Botox, steroids, and everything else science offers to make me young again.

I’ve not indulged in any of the above, and I don’t begrudge anyone who does. But go to an age-appropriate dinner party and admit that and you’ll find you’re in a new minority. Here’s the natural rub: I have a great sex life, I like my non-enhanced muscles, and I like the lines on my face. Sacri-ageous, right? We’re taught all of our lives to eat healthy, exercise, and not to jump in front of traffic so we can live long happy lives. Only to find that, once we’re over 50, we should be ashamed of those achievements and Benjamin Button our exterior. Sure, and I’ve got a portrait in the attic I’d like to sell you.

 

5.) Because the more memories I have the less valuable I am.

“That’s way before my time” is a common, friendly joke, and say it to me and I laugh. But when it’s stated as a derogatory comment, it’s actually offensive. If someone doesn’t know about Boy George coming out on TV or Truth or Dare’s gay kiss or the AIDS quilt, then scoffs it off as “an age thing,” they are literally saying that ignorance is preferable to knowledge. There’s nothing I love more then when young gay men ask me about LGBT life in the 80s, and I’m thrilled I can tell them about the ups and downs. My own favorite sentimental gay-old story? Having a relative come out to me in his 80s, and then tell me about closeted life as a marine in World War II. Hint: It wasn’t easy. He died after passing on a treasure trove of gay history. I hope that my own past can someday influence someone’s present.

 

6.) Because I’m not married and am thus a “tired old queen who missed the boat” (Yes, that quote made it to my inbox not so long ago).

Who would have thought the notion of marriage being the measure of true happiness would become a gay norm? I love the idea of a legal commitment and think it would be wonderful if I found the right man and took that step. But I’m not living my life in waiting, and I’m not going to settle to feel more accepted or to have an automatic date on Friday nights. Since the end of DOMA, I’ve also witnessed a few hurry-up marriages that ended in quick, ugly divorces. I also urge men to be more careful when they make generalizations about older men not being lucky enough to find their soul mate. Maybe they did, and maybe they couldn’t get married because it wasn’t legal or there was too much hatred from the outside or the love of their life died. Once again, that’s a memory we need to keep in the present tense. Same-sex marriage is a right, not a toy. Treat it like any fragile object—with careful hands.

 

7.) Because the best years of my life are over.

As many people have said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” They’re correct, and the more we age the more we have to fear, especially in regards to physical decline. FYI, losing your hair sucks! But life’s fulfillment is not linear, and youth, like the middle ages, can be terrifying or wonderful, full of despair or filled with joy. I wouldn’t tell my 20-something Leukemia survivor friend that his best days are over, and he should punch anyone in the face who does. The more we perpetuate the myth that happiness has an expiration date, or a starting date, the more we perpetuate the notion that, if your youth sucked, you didn’t just miss the marriage boat, you missed the “life boat.” Grab on now and enjoy the ride.

 

When We Rise – a must see!

SBS Miniseries “When We Rise” Features AIDS Activism [VIDEO]

Real-life heroes inspired this chronicle of LGBT history. The first episode airs Saturday March 11 at 8.30pm on SBS.  All too often we get asked about the history of the LGBT movement and its affect on our lives as we attempt to move forward and linked to this is HIV/AIDS history and the affect that the epidemic has played on many aspects of the story.

An epic retelling of the LGBT civil rights movement in the US , spanning four decades and based on real-life pioneers, the SBS miniseries When We Rise  of course includes HIV/AIDS as a prominent part of that history.

The four-part series is written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his Milk screenplay, about assassinated gay rights leader Harvey Milk. According to SBS press materials, Gus Van Sant, who directed 2008’s Milk, helmed the first episode of When We Rise.

Starring Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Michael Kenneth Williams and with guest appearances such as Whoopi Goldberg, T.R. Knight, Debra Winger, David Hyde Pierce and Phylicia Rashad, the miniseries centers on the stories inspired by real-life LGBT leaders, including Cleve Jones (played by Austin P. McKenzie and, later, Guy Pearce), who created what became the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Jones, along with transgender activist Cecilia Chung (played by Ivory Aquino, who is transgender and was recently profiled in the US People magazine) and several other people in the story are HIV positive.

“There have been so many points in my life when I thought I was done and the movement was done, and I want people to be aware of that right now with Trump,” Jones told The Daily Beast in an extensive interview. “When it seems like it may be over, it’s never over.” In talking about the AIDS crisis, he adds that in San Francisco’s Castro area, “the total death toll in this neighborhood was 25,000—half the gay men of my generation. Half died, half of us survived, and many of those who did survive are still here. That’s a lot of personal tragedy.”

Guy Pearce plays AIDS activist Cleve Jones in “When We Rise.”ABC/Eike Schroter

The battle against HIV/AIDS is portrayed in the miniseries alongside other social justice causes such as same-sex marriage equality.

Parts of When We Rise are based on Jones’s recent memoir of the same title.

 

 

My continued odyssey for great breakfast in Perth!

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I have always and will always love searching out new and interesting breakfast options here in Perth and sometimes just by accident stumble across a real gem that ticks every box!

That is what happened late last year when we had to head to Mt Lawley for an appointment early one morning and found ourselves early enough to want a good coffee and some sustenance to get us through to lunch time.

I had passed by, but never been in to Fez and so we decided that was a great chance to head in a try their wares.  Oh boy we were pleasantly surprised by the welcome we received from the fabulous Julie and so much more in this cute little cafe in Mt Lawley.

Situated on Walcott Street Mt Lawley just near Beaufort Street is this gem of a cafe that serves what both Trevor and I think is the best coffee north of the river in Perth (for those south of the river you just cannot go past the fabulous Grouch and Co).  The roast, the taste, the temperature all combine to make a perfect cup of coffee.

Then there is the menu and having just returned 4 months ago from the US and Canada I fell in love with the stunning pancakes served with mascapone, berry compote and of course maple syrup.  The three stunning pancakes were light, hot and delicious.

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Trevor stuck with the usual of eggs on toast with mushrooms on the side and was not disappointed.  The addition of a home made salsa just added another dimension to the dish and the fact that the mushrooms were juicy and full of flavor just made this a perfect dish.

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The other thing that is great out Fez is the price.  When compared to many of the other cafe’s around Perth that we have headed out to, Fez has been the cheapest we have come across.

So add that to the great service, the amazing coffee and the fabulous food and you have the perfect breakfast destination.

If you are in the area then do yourself a favour and pop into see Julie and her team for an amazing breakfast treat!

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FEZ Cafe

83 Walcott Street, Mount Lawley WA 6050

7am – 3pm Tuesday – Sunday

Ph: (08) 9328 9999

An Indian Odyessey

Gosh how time flies and although I had hoped to spend some more time chronicling my recent trip to Canada and the US I have now just returned from 2 amazing weeks in India and Thailand!

I just could not wait to share with you all the wonders and delights that India offered us on this first (and what will not be our last) trip to this amazing country.

I have been hesitant to take a trip to India for a range of reasons over the years – crowds, traffic, reports of people getting sick from the food and other things but with careful planning all of this was unfounded for us as we had a week of the most amazing travels through what is known as the golden triangle – New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

We decided when we were looking at dipping our toes into an Indian trip that for the first visit we would do it with our own guides, transfers, first class transportation on the trains and top hotels and we were spoilt as soon as we landed in Delhi.

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Adventure World did an amazing job of ensuring that every aspect of this trip was planned, that we had the best English speaking guides and that the sites that we saw in each of the cities that we visited were memorable ones.

We were greeted on arrival and as India is going through an issue with money presently found that we needed to change some cash at the airport before we headed to our hotel because the money changers were all closed and none of the ATM’s had any money in them.

India is attempting to move to a card only society and I think that this will be something that will be very hard for them to achieve as so many of the market stalls and small vendors that we encountered all rely on cash.  We did however end up paying in Australian Dollars a few times when they could not take credit cards and that was fine too.

We were quickly whisked out to the airport in our air conditioned van to our first hotel – the Taj Palace.  What an absolute delight it was.  From the moment that we walked in we were treated like royalty and the rooms, restaurants and amenities are all first class.  This is one hotel that we will not soon forget.

We were greeted by the Manager and seated to take us through check in and then escorted to our delightful room and asked which type of refreshment we would like as we settled in for the afternoon and evening.  This is how hotel check in should be – respectful, professional and easy.

After settling in we headed down stairs to enjoy a late lunch and then to explore a little of the surrounding area before we had an amazing dinner at the Taj Palace signature restaurant Masala.  We chose to dive right in and had the set menu which consisted of 10 incredible dishes that gave us a real sense of authentic Indian Food and the service and the food were sensational.

Then it was an early night so we could be up early to be ready for our full day tour of Delhi that included a range of mosques, temples and an amazing 3 hour tuk tuk ride and walk through the central markets.

I think one of the highlights was the visit to the Sikh temple where each day they feed over 40,000 local people.  They have staff and volunteers who work all day to prepare meals for the homeless and the needy so that they can at least get one good meal each day.  (This increases to over 50,000 on the weekends!)

We were lucky to get a tour of the kitchen and to see the huge cooking pots and the people making Naan bread for the lunch crowds who were patiently waiting to get into the dinning room.  This was such a humbling and incredible site to see and we were touched by the commitment from this community to assist those not as fortunate as them.

Wandering through the markets, enjoying the plethora of sites and smells along the way was a really fabulous experience and one that we really loved.  We looking in spice markets, tasted local samosas and experienced fresh brewed chai.

This was a great first day of introducing us to India and we headed home for a quiet night before we were to head on the train the Agra the next day.

After a hearty breakfast filled with some of the local Indian tastes, once again, we were collected from our hotel and headed to the train station for our trip.  Our fabulous tour guide accompanied us onto the train and ensured that we were seated in our correct seats (so often people just climb onto the train and sit in whichever seat is free, so this was another reason we used this great company!)

This was a great train journey and allowed us to see some of the country side on the was to Agra and to just sit back and take in the surroundings.  This was the fast train which was supposed to take one and a half hours but as it is currently winter in India and there is lots of smog and fog the train trip took 3 hours.  Really in the scheme of things this was not bad and we just sat back and enjoyed the trip through little towns along the way took in the sites, that we could see as the fog cleared before safely arriving in Agra.

We were collected at the train station and again whisked off in our private van to our hotel the ITC Mughal in Agra.  Our guide checked us in and we made our way to our room and after a bit of discussion realized that we had been put in the wrong room.  This was soon sorted out and we were transferred to our correct room in the Royal Mughal wing.

This was another lovely hotel and the staff were once again courteous, thoughtful and professional in their approach.  We enjoyed an early lunch and then headed out to what would turn out to be one of the many highlights of this trip – a visit to the Taj Mahal.

It really is true what people say about the photographs you see not really doing the Taj Mahal justice.  You really do need to stand there and take in the majesty and wonder of it to really appreciate the magnificence of this wonder of the world.

One of the other great things about having our own guide was that we did not have to cue to get in anywhere as our guide took care of getting tickets and ushering us into each of the sites we visited.

Next we headed to the Agra Fort, filled with amazing history, sensational architecture and spent much time wondering, learning and enjoying this incredible site.

Another amazing Indian dinner followed and the next day we were collected, checked out and headed to see some more sites during the day before we headed to catch the train to Jaipur.

We marveled at the streets, the sites and were taken to the park that sits opposite the Taj Mahal and across the river so that we could get another view of this superb monument.  It was still a little hazy but it the majesty of the Taj was of course still evident.

Then it was time of board the train and head to Jaipur.  This was a 5 hour journey that saw us arrive later in the evening at the ITC Rajputana and get settled into our room. (Just a note here, on our itinerary it said that we had a Executive Club room – and what we had thought would be a top room with all the usual Executive Club perks turned out to be the standard room in the hotel and was not nearly as nice or in my opinion 5 star compared to the other 2 hotels we had enjoyed.)

But settle in we did and then we enjoyed a late meal and then were ready to face our next day exploring Jaipur and all of the amazing sites on offer.  We saw the pink city and the most stunning Jaipur Pink Fort and the 27km wall that surrounded it.  Each of these had the most fabulous history and stories behind their construction that our guide was only to keen to share with us and really put them each into perspective.

We went to the stunning Jaipur Observatory which was created hundreds of years ago and today is still the most amazing outdoor observatory that you can find.

One final night at this hotel and we were collected the next morning so we could catch our flight back to Delhi for one final night in the Taj Palace and our last evening in India (this time!).

Before we left Delhi the first time we were advised by our guides that we really should try and get in for dinner at Bukhura Restaurant which was located next door to where we were staying as it has been consistently voted in the top 50 restaurants in the world.  We booked for our last night in India to go an enjoy this amazing Indian tandoori/bbq restaurant and we were not disappointed.

This was a traditional meal – eating with your hands, tasting some of the most amazing spices throughout each of the dishes and enjoying yet another highlight on this trip.

You will see in this post that there are so many photographs that I wanted to share with you and I still have so many more!

This was a trip of a lifetime to the most amazing country and we were so lucky at this time of year to get the perfect weather and to get a fabulous first taste of India!

We are now planning to head back again next year to explore more of this amazing country!

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