Cath Styles is the Accidental Cougar

Love what Cath Styles brings to the table every year, but this show has been a long time coming! Cath has some amazing “Cougar” material and it’s been part of her regular sets for many years … but then! It all came true! She is an Accidental Cougar!

In the wake of becoming unexpectedly single, and even more unexpectedly turning 50, this fierce, funny feminist finds out what it’s like when your favourite joke becomes a reality!

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From break-ups to wake-ups (and make-up!), Accidental Cougar is a fresh and funny look at dating later, and ever

after.

Two jobs, two cats, two countries and four kids… nurse, comic, mother and mad international traveller Cath Styles finds a keepsake in Africa which turns her life upside down and makes her ask the big question…

Can you live your own punchline?

Cath Styles brings her new show Accidental Cougar to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2018. It’s funny, it’s real and it’s certainly relatable to many of us who’ve been thrown a curve ball in life. Come along and laugh with Cath as she navigates dating, life and everything in between.

This is a must see show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and one of my top picks for the fest!

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Venue: The Upstairs Lounge @ Little Sista, 230 Lt Collins St, Melbourne Dates: Wednesday 28 March – Sunday 22 April 2018 (no show Monday) Time: 6.30pm
Tickets: Wednesday 28 March (Preview) $20; Full $25; Concession and Tightarse Tuesday $20; Group (+6) $22

Bookings here and at the door.


That time I was silent for 10 days

Hard to believe eh? Emma Lovell! The woman who runs a business called Lovelly Communications. The constant social butterfly. Was silent … for 10 whole days! And it was one of the most profound and enriching experiences of my life.

Vipassana is the practice of silent meditation. Totally cut off from the world with no phone, in a remote location and with no words being passed between you and the others taking part in the course. I chose to do mine in Jodhpur while traveling through my favourite country, India, in 2012. It was a massive turning point and I’m forever thankful for that experience.

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Vipassana Class of April 2012

It sounds hard – it is. But actually the easiest part is not talking. To many people’s surprise, I spend a lot of time not speaking. Because of how much time I talk to people for work, I actually really enjoy quiet time alone without using my voice.

What is hard, what’s really challenging and can almost break you, is the deafening roar of the wave of thoughts that pass through your mind. Every day we block out these thoughts with work, music, tv, talking over them and basically anything to not let them surface. Without any outside stimulations, your thoughts have free reign over your mind.

But it’s not all bad! The thoughts that come, don’t have to hurt us. They can arrive to be acknowledged and be let go. That’s what Vipassana teaches you. To observe, to be patient, to address all of the things in our mind, but not to obsess or anguish over it. We are constantly moving and changing. Things will come and go. Change is the only constant.

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My place to sit in the afternoon and just take in nature

At some point, I would like to go back through the day to day of this 10 day experience. I have notes that I furiously wrote once I was out of the course, and I actually still vividly remember a lot of it. But right now, I want to share the top 10 things I learn from Vipassana and still reflect on regularly, five and a half years on.

  • Don’t react immediately
    Take a moment before reacting – so many fights would never happen if we all took a moment
  • Breathe 
    Yes – I do forget to do this from time to time
  • Don’t let your goals get in the way of your humanity
    I was so determined to be good at meditation and be silent, that I was actively ignoring any form of human contact. You can pursue your goals and still be human.

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    My room – I freaked out when I arrived to it. In the end I loved it.

  • Eat until you are 70% full 
    You can’t meditate on a full stomach
  • Thoughts will come and go
    Good or “bad”, they will continue to come and at some point they’ll leave. Letting them wash over you like a wave is truly freeing.
  • Emotions and thoughts can cause physical pain
    Holding on to your feelings, pushing emotions down can actually create pain. And letting it go can feel like freedom. So don’t hold onto your hurt.
  • You don’t need to talk, to form a bond
    This goes for cross cultural barriers to! We can say so much without saying anything and it can be so beautiful.

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    I’ll never forget this little boy and his family

  • Not talking is easy
    Talk less. You’ll be amazed at what you hear, see and feel.
  • Compassion
    We never know what another is experiencing. I felt so much anger and annoyance towards an older woman who was snoring and snorting and falling asleep in the meditations. I thought “Just go home! This isn’t for you!” But the course taught me to think differently. By the end I thought “how brave, how resilient of her to continue despite clearly being uncomfortable and in pain”. I hugged her on the last day, it was one of my favourite moments.
  • Do your best
    You may not be the best in the world, but show up. I had to work at the meditation. I had to try hard. But I did it. Everyday. Show up and give it a go. That’s all you can do.

I’m grateful to Vipassana for all that I’ve learnt and I’m excited to say that yesterday I enrolled for my first refresher. Almost six years on, and I’m going to experience it again. I’m open and interested to see what I learn.

If you’re interested in doing a Vipassana course, visit the Dhamma website and find a centre near you. Or, use it as an excuse to go to India (I would!)


Taking the original Free Walking Tour in Munich … 11 years on!

It’s lovely to be back in Munich again. I do believe it’s my fifth visit to this lovely German city and I truly never tire of it. One thing I discovered on my first visit was the SANDEMANs Free Walking Tour of Munich. It was my first experience on this type of tour and I’ve done many around the world. I highly recommend it, so much so that I did it again today – granted it was 11 years since the first one.

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This time I’m in Munich with my Dad. It’s his first visit to Germany since he was 16 … so 45+ years! I had an idea of the things we could do and the most famous spots, after a number of visits. But when someone is new to a city and newish to a country, the basics of the history and the top cultural sites are a must. So the free walking tour was an easy choice.

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Despite being -1 degree celcius in the city today, we were happy to walk around. It’s Sunday and it was super quiet throughout the main streets. We learned that all shops are closed on Sunday in the centre. Which is quite refreshing. We quickly found the crowds – in Marienplatz! The main meeting spot of Munich and a highlight for many visitors. And thus began our two hour tour.

 
First, the DPTX9998Glocknspiel! It tours above the square and it’s bells are a delight to hear whenever walking around the city, we then watched the dancing characters and little show they provide –  depicting a famous royal wedding, jousting and the bier makers dance. Very German! Well, very Bavarian!

Next it’s on to some of the dark history of Munich – talking about the place where the Nazi party essentially started the horrible war against Jewish people – now known as the “Night of broken glass”. With the grey clouds and cold weather, you could feel the dark and terrible time that was.

On to the epic Frauen Kircher. I remembered this church very clearly and some of its history. I had thought that it was extremely damaged during WWII, most of Munich was. The point I missed was that actually the English army used the two tall towers with onion like tops as beacons so that when bombing the city, they knew they were hitting the right spot. The roof and one of the towers was damaged, but no where near as bad as it could have been. I also remembered the story of the footprint on the floor – known as the devil’s hoof. It’s a nice tale in a way and a fun thing for tourists to photograph – my foot almost fit the mark!

I won’t bore you with all the history, and we must save some things for when you go on the tour. So here are some of my lovely pics (I think so anyway) from walking around the city.

Another famous stop has to be the Hofbrauhaus. One of the most famous, if not THE most famous Beer Hall in the world. We stop there on the tour for a toilet and coffee break (much needed in this freezing weather). However, I said to Dad, it had to be our lunch place. It was lovely to go in and see so many people enjoying, and although there are many other bier halls all over the city, it’s sometimes nice to go somewhere so iconic.

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The tour ends back where we started after a swing by another church with more great stories, a wonderful food market that looked very sad and sorry but in Summer is pumping (I’ve luckily visited there in peak time) and back to Marienplatz.

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Big thanks to our wonderful tour guide Karl who gave great info, told some fun stories and gave helpful advice at the end. Highly recommend the tour.

After the tour, it was straight to the bier hall for some lunch! For me, it had to be my favourite Schweinshaxe mit knodel und krautsalat. Pork knuckle with potato dumpling and fermented cabbage salad. Yum! Dad went for the classic bratwurst. And, beers! Prost (cheers in German). Loved it! The atmosphere was great, the food was delicious and the beer as always, was wunderbar!

A walk around the beautiful Christmas markets, my favourite ones next to the Residence and the day was complete. We were a bit cold and a bit tired and we hit up the U Bahn to go home for a rest. I think there might be a seperate blog for the markets, and maybe the Hofbrauhaus too. All in all, a fab day in Munich! Danke!


Reunion with Betsy – my 80 year old Dutch friend

Today, I get to see my dear friend Betsy in the Netherlands and I could not be more excited. We’ve been talking about meeting again since we last saw each other in February 2015. We met on a cycle tour in Vietnam with Plan Nederlands. Despite being exactly 50 years apart, we had an instant bond and I consider her a life long friend. Now, dear Betsy will show me her homeland!

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Betsy loving life cycling in Vietnam, I’m in red next to her.

At 77, Betsy was by far the eldest on our cycle trip to Vietnam. I was the tour leader for the group along with my colleague Nicola. We had a group of 32!!! Dutch women to wrangle from Hanoi to Da Nang and back. It was daunting I must say. Despite her age, Betsy fit into the group perfectly. She was up for every challenged and relished the experience.

I did have some concerns about Betsy and worried for her safety and her ability with the group, but within hours I could see that this fire cracker was going to tackle anything we threw at her. From long days on the bike, to hiking up hills and partying til the wee hours in a karaoke bar, Betsy was there! I loved seeing her take on every experience with gusto and her pure joy. She truly was loving every moment and her openness and eagerness to make the most of life set her apart as a role model in my eyes.

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Betsy and other #Cycle4girls team members training in the Netherlands.

On one occasion, we were a little misled by our Vietnamese guides as to the terrain and the weather conditions which resulted in a very difficult ride. Half the group, the casual cruisers, which I was leading were soon off the bikes and trudging through mud and up slippery roads. Even the truck that drove ahead of our group seemed to struggle on the hills. I told the group to take it easy and we’d just take our time, to be safe. I soon noticed that Betsy had cut her leg. It must have been on the pedal and I felt awful that she was injured. She said it didn’t hurt and wanted to keep going but I had to insist we stopped to tend to her leg. With some of my rough first aid skills, and despite the heavy rain, we managed to secure a band aid like device to her leg with lots of medical tape. The rain was hindering my ability to execute but it seemed to suffice

After we’d got that sorted, we had to continue up the hill to meet the group. It was quite steep and I was a little worried about the strain on Betsy. We were pushing our bikes as well and I did offer that I might push both our bikes. However, I quickly realized, it was actually helping her to balance. A strong woman, and not easily seeking help, she insisted on continuing side by side. Our whole group was watching us trudge up together. Eventually, she let me take her bike.  Betsy obliged but insisted on placing a hand on my shoulder, to steady me and help me up the hill. I understood that actually it helped to steady herself and get better balance by having her hand on my shoulder. I called to the group “Betsy is helping me to keep balance, look at her go, steadying me up the hill.” The group all cheered us on and it was such a beautiful moment. When we reached them everyone celebrated with us and Betsy just had the biggest smile – I’ll never forget it. She turned to me and threw her head back in a joyous laugh. We then brought it in for a huge hug! The day wasn’t over, but that sure was a highlight.

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Betsy won our best dressed competition, it was dress to represent Vietnam! Nailed it.

Betsy and I spoke often on our trip and I would try to sit near her wherever possible. She would tell me about her family, her home, and her many hobbies and activities. This woman’s zest for life, huge smile and bubbling laughter drew people to her.

Saying Goodbye to Betsy was so hard. Standing by the bus in Hanoi. I saved her til last. We hugged for so long and so tight. She pulled me away and held me by the shoulders. “We will meet in Holland and we will sit under the oak tree and drink red wine.” She had told me about this favourite past time of hers from her lovely home and garden, we had made a promise to meet there. And I knew I would do it someday. Through tears I nodded in agreement and promised again. She embraced me and I told her “my heart is so full from having met you.” I felt truly grateful.

So, after almost three long years of email communications and beautiful hand written letters (and a few postcards from me) we will meet again. I’ve received these beautiful copies of paintings that Betsy has done. She posts them to me and on the back are long letters about her life, her family, her history and more. Every time I cry a little – it’s just so beautiful I get to share these moments with someone so far away and from such a different time to my own.

Together we will see the sights of Amsterdam, visit our. Plan Netherlands Cycle Tour friends and enjoy visiting her home town near Aalten. I look forward to sharing our wonderful adventures with you.


An assistance dog could change my friend Emma’s life

Sharing my beautiful friend Emma Miceli‘s story and fundraising campaign to help her get an assistance dog! Emma has severe autism and an intellectual disability. An assistance dog could change her life and support her everyday.

Please donate, share this page and help spread the word: https://www.mycause.com.au/…/help-change-a-young-womans-life

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On the Disabled Wintersport Australia Women’s week camp, I was snow boarding with and guiding the beautiful Emma. She has severe autism and an intellectual disability. She’s also prone to wandering off and has been in quite some danger at times – something we witnessed even on the camp. I’m a volunteer guide with DWA and we support people like Emma to go to the snow.

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To help her, Emma is getting an assistance dog. This will help with panic attacks and also help to find her if she does get lost.

Seeing someone with autism have a panic attack is heartbreaking and traumatic. It was hard to see her in such pain during these panic attacks. It’s also difficult to know how to manage it, but we did. The week taught me so much and gave me such a different view of what the world is like for others.

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The assistance dog will be a great support to Emma in her everyday life. But they are expensive. So Emma’s family is fundraising to help with the cost of the dog and the extensive training it will need.

I’m sharing her fundraising page here and would be so grateful if you can share her story and/ or donate.

Thank you x

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Emma and Emma at the Women’s week camp with DWA


The Strength in Fragility

Brilliant article by my beautiful friend Naomi for World Mental Health Day. Proud of her and all those who can stand up and say “I’m not ok”, to seek help!

“”It takes more strength and courage than you could ever know (unless you’ve been there) to admit to yourself that you have a mental health illness, it takes an enormous heart to be honest enough to tell your support network that you need help, it takes an open mind and a strength of character to take that help and improve your life one day, one moment, one breath at a time.”

Mental Health Mountain Climber

The 10th of October yearly is World Mental Health Day. Think about it right now as you are reading this there is someone in your life who is suffering from a mental illness whether you know about it or not, there is. And today is a day where we can all open the doors of communication and talk about it, enrich and even save lives, with the goal of making every day a day just like this.

Here are the bare facts that as a citizen of the human race you need to know about. In Australia alone:

At least 6 people commit suicide everyday

For every failed suicide there are 30 attempts

More people die from suicide than road accidents

1 in 5 Australians suffer from a mental health problem

54% of people with a mental illness do not access treatment

These findings are for lack of a better…

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If you see something, say something!

If you see something that’s not right, you must speak up!

Last Friday, I stopped a girl from being mugged on the train on the way from Sydney city to Miranda. A bunch of thug like teens, no more than 13 or 14 years old, lined her up and I saw what was going to happen, so I stepped in.

A poor young school girl, also maybe 13, was on her phone in the middle compartment of the 8th carriage. No seats, no other people. These girls who had been swearing, kicking the boys and generally being horrible, saw her and pounced.

They were so obvious! The two of them went a meter either side of her and I knew they were waiting for the next stop where they would take her phone, potentially HIT her, and run off the train.

Sadly I saw this happen when I was 15 to a fellow girl in my year. She was punched in the face and mugged by two girls her own age. I to this day am ashamed that I didn’t step in, nor did any other person in the carriage, and it just slowly unfolded in front of us. It was pathetic and cowardly.

Today, I chose to stand by that girl. I walked up to the middle platform and stood near her. One girl had gone down to say something to the boys, the other didn’t dare do it with an adult standing near. She mumbled something about “b%#*^” and went back downstairs. I leaned into the girl and whispered “you must move carriages. Now.”

I took her with me and led her through two carriages and kept an eye out behind us. I didn’t want to freak her out so explained that the two girls were looking at her phone and were going to get it if we didn’t move. She stood near the doors in a crowded carriage and I sat downstairs and kept watch over her. I was shaking with rage and fear and adrenaline.

The girl got off the train and mouthed thank you to me. I stood at the doors and watched her move safely into a crowd, keeping close eye that the teens hadn’t got off.

Once I reached my station, I asked a nearby man to walk with me as I was worried the teens may now target me (and my laptop and phone!) He was very kind and walked me to the guards office to report it. The woman who I called from the station took it very seriously and alerted stations ahead. So thank you Jane from Miranda Train Station.

This behaviour is unacceptable. Cowardly. And dangerous!! I could not stand by and watch that girl be attacked, nor let those children get away with such behaviour.

Apparently this has been happening on sydney trains of late. So do lookout and report what you see.

If you see something. Say something. And be kind to one another!!!

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Be Kind image photo credit: https://kindakind.com/random-acts-kindness-spread-act-kindness/

My first trip back to Nepal, post 2015 earthquake

In March 2015, I trekked to Everest Base Camp with an incredible group of supporters from World Vision Australia, raising more than $100,000 for women and children in Nepal. One month after I returned home to Australia, on 25 April 2017, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. Now, two years and four months on, I’ve returned to Nepal and I’m overwhelmed with emotion.

This country I love so much has been through so much in the short few years since I last visited. It’s my fourth visit to Nepal and it certainly won’t be my last. Since my first trip in 2006, I fell in love with this naturally beautiful country. The passion of the people, the rich culture and the epic natural wonders keep me coming back. I don’t know what to expect returning.

Being a World Vision Blog Ambassador and a contracting stuff member to World Vision Australia, I’ve had a lot of information about the destruction of the earthquake and how it’s impacted the communities where World Vision works. Although there has been so much done to move on, and it’s certainly what the people want, I didn’t know what the state of affairs was now. I know the funds that have been raised, the work that has been done for health, water, education and child friendly spaces. But how does that look? What is day to day life going to be like.

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World Vision’s work immediately after the 2015 earthquake

My father and I will spend two weeks in Nepal. Our primary purpose for returning is to attend a conference. I’ve been going to these meetings to support my father since 2006 and this will be my 9th event. I’m also thrilled to be able to have time to visit World Vision’s office in Nepal.

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Dad and I at a conference in Bangladesh, 2011

Some of the key sites I would like to also visit during my time will be Bouddhanath, Swayambunath, PashupathiNath and Durbar Square Kathmandu. These all were impacted by the earthquake in various ways and are key cultural sites for the people here. They’re also busy tourist attractions and so I’ve seen them on a number of occasions.

I didn’t actually think much about my return to Nepal in the lead up. Busy with work and day to day life, I didn’t realise until I spoke at the Country Women’s Association of Australia in early July about Nepal, how much the trip meant. Perhaps I’ve been actively putting it out of my mind.

Finally, when the day came to head to Nepal, I felt excited. Nepali words were drifting into my mind and I couldn’t wait to enjoy some momos and dal bhat for dinner! On the plane ride into Kathmandu, I caught the first glimpse of those famous mountains and the steep hills at their base. The cloud cover shadowed the peaks but the valleys below were clear. I got choked up as memories rushed back into my mind and the differences I may encounter upon my return were rapidly approaching. It’s amazing how one scene can bring so much emotion. And this is before we’d even hit the ground!

I plan to write daily diaries of my time in Nepal. Reflections at the time of what I’m seeing and doing and the comparison to my past trips in the country I love so much.

You can also follow me on Instagram at @Lovellyem where I’ll be posting A LOT of photos of my experience there. I’ve created the #tag #Lovellynepaltrek for when Dad and I trek from Lukla to Namche Bazaar in the second week of our trek.

 


A day in Delhi and the road to Agra

These blogs from my India and Singapore trip at the start of 2017 are so far behind. As I’m now on my way back to South Asia, I thought it might be time to get them up! They’re written and ready to go – so here you are! I’ll also be posting everyday from Nepal – so it’s going to be a whole lot of South Asia on the blog right now.

After spending a lush night in the Holiday Inn, Delhi Aerospace, we had a half day of hectic Delhi sightseeing planned. We were meant to head straight off from Agra in the morning but the drive is just 3-4 hours. As Matt would only have this one night in Delhi, I thought it was important to see the capital of India. So, our half day tour began.

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Red Fort, Delhi.

Oh, a note. Holiday Inn knows how to do breakfast! This is just the pastry bar. Wonderful service and amazing chefs ready to make you eggs any style or your favourite Indian breakfast dish. They also had cold coffee on tap – heaven!

Our first stop with our helpful guide, Sanjeev, was one of the oldest and best kept monuments in all of Delhi, possibly India, Qutb Minar. I had been on my first ever trip and on another of my stays in Delhi. I just love the structure of this minuet and also the grounds surrounding it. It’s a magnificent sight to see and once you hear the history of the area, it’s even more impressive.

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This monument signifies the triumph of the Mughal empire over the Rajputs, the hindu kings of India. It was a new era and the Mughal kings wanted to make sure this was forever remembered. Construction started in 1192 and didn’t end until (date), three different dynasts added on the different parts. My partner Matt was blown away by the shape and the history of this area. I knew this was important for him to see.

 

We strolled around asking questions for some time and really enjoyed our time. We got there before the real crowds came. All students of Delhi at age 15 come to these important monuments as part of their schooling and history classes. All paid for by the government. I will write a blog on this area- it’s too fascinating not to. We were also quite fixated here on the wildlife. Fern squirrels (so cute!) green parrots, eagles and black kites all roaming the grounds

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Next stop was Jama Masjid, the largest Mosque in India. I don’t think I’ve actually been to this site before. It was very interesting and beautiful inside the main archways. Our guide didn’t come in with us so we just roamed around looking at the architecture and enjoying walking on the stones and marble with no shoes on. We got quite a few interested looks here. The mother of this little girl asked me for a photo and I was happy to oblige. So lovely!

The mosque is situated next to Old Delhi. This is one of the largest markets in Asia for electronics. Largest Spice Market in Asia. It’s got some modern parts, but a lot of it has the older buildings and markets are still structured in old alleyways as they would have 100’s of years ago. You can buy pretty much anything here, though there are sections for particular goods. We caught a battery powered rickshaw (trying to reduce the impact on the environment) and got a quick taste of the area.

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We hopped down at the Spice Market. You instantly can spell the wide array of spices on offer. Weaving through passageways past so many shops offering all the spices, nuts and sweets you could imagine. Whole stores dedicated to chilli. Another dedicated to turmeric. It overpowers the senses and definitely was an experience I hadn’t had.

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We went to one store where they could explain to us the different spices and they actually had pre-packaged spice mixes. They are made by the Master Blender A. Kumar who has been visited by World famous chefs including George Kalamatis from Australia. We couldn’t resist and decided our Indian cooking adventures start now! Aloo Gobi, Butter Chicken Masala, Dal Makhani and some Mango Tea.

Our hectic tour ended at the Red Fort. We weren’t going to go in as it’s reasonably similar to the Agra Fort which we would see tomorrow. It was also difficult to access due to Indian Republic Day the following day, January 26th. We got o see some concerts going on at the fort and some of the setup for the parades near the India Gate earlier too. Here we parted with our guide and started our journey to Agra.

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The road has been rebuilt since I last travelled to Agra and what was a seven hour journey can now take just 3-4 hours from Delhi. We caught the train the first time as it as much faster than car at the time and very possible to do a  day trip. WE did unfortunately pass an accident on the way which certainly had killed people. Many people stopped their cars and ran over to see – I couldn’t look even in the direction. The unfortunate result of a fast and straight road.

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We arrived to Agra by early evening, still in the daylight which was good. Our hotel, only built in the past two years, was the Four Points Sheraton. It was lovely and we were welcomed by our local tour operator and the manager of the hotel. Take Me To India really know how to care for their guests. Again a lovely room and a sweet welcome.

 

For dinner we went to Pinch of Salt, as recommended by our driver. It was certainly catering to the tourists as it was packed at 7.30pm (Westerners eat early, locals eat late.) The service was a bit odd, they seemed either distant and disengaged or there was the manager who kept creepily peering over customers shoulders to see if they were enjoying. The food was delicious, though there was A LOT of it. We enjoyed some meat which we had been abstaining from in rural parts. Very good.

Shattered again by night, we enjoyed the luxury of watching TV in the hotel room bed. I never do this at home, I’ll never allow a TV in my bedroom. Keep it as a treat when away.

 

Tomorrow…. TAJ MAHAL!!!!!!

If you would like to check out our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

Written on Day 10 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.

 


Got Beer? Join the Hop on Brewery Tours, Gold Coast

Beer, amazing venues on the Gold Coast, great company and did we mention beer? When I heard about Hop on Brewery Tours I was a firm “YES!” If you’re not a “beer drinker”, this tour will open your eyes, expand your pallet and change your mind about the whole beer thing.

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I heard about this great idea while at a Women in Tourism breakfast on the Gold Coast. Jos got up and passionately spoke about her beer tours. She knew a crowd of women may be a tough audience but by the end of her talk, we were all hankering for a ‘cold one’. I knew first and foremost this would be an excellent activity for guests and I’m always looking out for things to do when people come to town.

Soon after this talk, Mum booked a trip to the Gold Coast. Since moving to a regional Australian town, Mum has become dedicated to local producers and learning about unique products. I knew this would be right up her alley and as soon as I mentioned it, Mumma said ‘BOOK IT!”

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The Quickie on the Coast Tour was our tour of choice. Two venues, an afternoon of beers and touring around the GC in an air conditioned bus with excellent hosts. Excellent. We were picked up at Broadbeach and were joined by another lovely couple. Jos and Matt, the tour operators and owners, are welcoming and warm and gave us a quick run down of what to expect. Must point out we were also treated to a third venue – but the tour usually includes two. YAY!

 

First stop – The Bine Beer Bar

A big perk for me of doing such tours is learning about venues in areas I would never normally explore. I’d driven past Nobby’s Beach a bunch of times and seen the little cluster of bars and cafes but wouldn’t think to stop. This cute little bar is tucked in amongst the eateries and wine bars and has a great atmosphere. There’s a wide range of craft beers on tap and it offered a great intro for the tour. Jos and Matt went on to explain some of the ways beer is made, key ingredients and we even had a little quiz. Mum appears to be quite the beer expert now and loved sharing her new found knowledge with the hosts – to the point where I had to nudge her and say ”Mummmm”.

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My favourite beer here was the sour. I like “light beers”. Not light in alcohol, but light in flavour and colour. This one resembled a cider/ beer and is a great entry to the beer realm for those who are not “beer drinkers”.

Back on the bus all feeling a bit lighter, and a bit peckish. Jos and Matt provide the perfect snacks for their thirsty tourists;pretzels and popcorn. And being the responsible tourism company that they are, they gave us all water! It was nice to chat along the way and Jos provided more of her extensive knowledge of the beer industry telling us about the first brewers … Women! I’m not going to go into it at length here – so google it – or go on the tour. It was really interesting to hear how the predominantly women founded industry has now become so male dominated.

Note: The tours locations often change so depending on the day and the tour you choose; you could get a completely different variety of stops. Meaning you can do the tour a number of times and experience something new!

 

Second stop – Burleigh Brewing Co.

Hands down my favourite stop. I loved everything about this awesome location. Great beers, amazing beer hall, food trucks out front, live music and an awesome atmosphere. I can picture many more Sunday chill sessions at this place. We got to try six beers here and the best part was that based on our sampling at the first bar, Jos had personalised each of our sample paddles here. How cool is that! She did really well with mine and I felt like they really cared about our enjoyment and our experience.

By far my favourite flavour was “The Hef “– I love a cloudy and rich beer, it actually tastes like banana! Plus, the label was super cute. I also loved “My Wife’s Bitter” because who doesn’t love a pun! We opted to take one of these homes as a gift/ joke for my boyfriend. He was very appreciative.

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After our sampling we got a tour of the brewery from the knowledgeable staff. I was really interested in their bottling process and distribution. Amazing how this little local brewery has grown. Great range of flavours and a company who seem to tailor the tastes to their customer’s desires and demands. I was almost sad to leave, but I’ll be back!

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Sporting my fave Champagne Cartel tee!


Third and final stop – Balter Brewing Company

The outside of the building, and the interior, get a big mention here. Clearly labeled what their primary business is: BEER, and a smiley face. Inside there are murals, a funky re-worked warehouse and fun names for their products. This brand has grown exponentially since opening only a few years ago.

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Another round of generous samples. I was by this stage a little full so only sipped each one of the beers. It was definitely worth the value of the tour for all the great samples you get. Here we also got crackers made from the left over ingredients of the beer – I am terrible with food stuff so forget the exact ingredients! This was a lovely stop where we got to reflect upon what we sampled and really just felt like an afternoon chilling with mates. Balter Beer is another cool venue with great beers that you can just spend time enjoying the atmosphere while drinking tasty beverages. We got another couple of souvenir takeaways from this stop – keep the good vibes going.

Delivered back safely to our original pick up, I was so happy that I had taken mum on this tour. It was my first ever beer tour and it really opened my eyes to the wide range of varieties of beer and breweries on the Coast. Jos and Matt were made for this job and offer such a friendly, relaxed and professional experience. I would happily go again, so if you wanna come visit – let’s go together!

To learn more about Hop on Brewery tours and book your outing, click here.

Cheers!


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