Sunday, September 06, 2009

Emma by Jane Austen

I actually finished reading this a few weeks ago and though I found the characters a bit pretentious at the beginning by about half way through I became used to their foibles and had settled in to enjoy the story.

Naturally, I liked Mr George Knightley, he being the "hero" of the story and all, and thought it obvious that he was hopelessly in love with Emma. Even better, of course, that he loved her for her bad points as well as her good, and appreciated the growth in her character as she grew older (guided in a way by him as she was). Also, she was allowed to make mistakes and be disagreeable. It drives me crazy to see unhappy agreeable people (in books and life).

I also enjoyed the relationship between Emma and Mr Frank Churchill - a fine understanding of personality and character between these two. I think them both "deep" thinkers in their own way, hiding behind a mask or veneer of Georgian society. This is something perhaps that even Mr Gge. Knightley didn't quite understand and it helped show him in a more realistic rather than idealistic way.

I have a few more JA novels to read before I can pass judgement on whether Emma is her worst or not, but so far, it certainly has my tick of approval.

As I'm still waiting for Northanger Abbey to arrive at the book shop (I've now ordered it twice!), I have discovered the delight in reading Oscar Wilde's plays. I've seen Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Ernest on television, but haven't really read any of Wilde's works before. I started with Mrs Windemeyer's Fan (sorry if I spelled that wrong) and loved it! I also liked A woman of no importance, and of course, loved The Importance of Being Ernest. I've started The Picture of Dorian Gray now and am off to a good start.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Article: Event Marketing

copied from: Coffee at Peace blog

I am experimenting with web marketing for an event. My goal is to increase awareness by having lots of mentions all over the place (ambient advertising, I suppose). I'm not sure if it's working as I'm waiting for hit reports on our website .

So, I thought I'd do a bit of writing to track the process.

Step 1.

Blogging - Creation of the Coffee @ Peace blog. Aim of the blog is just to talk coffee, keeping it friendly and personal, and hopefully generate a little bit of traffic. I've kept it very simple so far - under the radar. I may be a little too far under the radar though and over the next few weeks (which covers the event date - Sunday 12 July, in case your wondering) I'll step it up a little. This isn't a short term project though. I want to build it up over time and so the benefits may not come into realisation until the 2010 Shire Coffee Festival (as long as I can keep the event coordinator sane, yes, there will be one next year).

Step 2.

Twitter. I started a twitter account (coffeeatpeace) in which I was originally going to "tell a story". I found this hard to keep up though and exchanged the story with weekly updates that occasionally included mentions of the coffee festival, more regularly talked coffee and now include marketing. As soon as I mentioned "marketing" my followers list jumped in request numbers. I do not follow back everyone. I pick and choose. I prefer Australian followers, coffee interest followers, and marketing/graphic design followers who aren't trying to push their services or software too much.

It seems to be going okay. Again. though, I'm unsure as yet to the impact and am currently researching measurability.

Step 3.

Alerts. I have registered with Google Alerts to pick up mentions and although we have sent out a press release we're not getting a lot. That's okay. Small, first time event is not going to make the news in a big way (again, may be next year).

Step 4.


- One way of getting hard data on how people heard about our event is to just ask them. We'll be doing this on the day (Sunday 12 July, btw) with volunteers undertaking surveying.
- I have an order in for hit reports on our website though I am unsure if this will include where people came from to get to our webpage.
- Alerts are activated in order to track web mentions.
- Blog traffic tracking - I follow stats for this blog on MyBlogLog.
- Finally, queries via email and telephone. Again, we simply ask where the caller heard about the event.

It's been an interesting process, at times fascinating, and I'm keen to see what impact any of it has had. I know there are applications out there that I can use to push the event in people's faces, but I'd prefer to avoid that at this stage. I want people to talk about the event and to do it naturally.

And the event?

Shire Coffee Festival

Sunday 12 July, 2009

Peace Park, Sutherland

Sydney, NSW, Australia

For enquiries, leave a comment here, follow me on twitter, email to or visit our webpage for our telephone number.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Jane Austen

I've always loved Price and Prejudice though it's been years since I read it. I blame that on the great BBC series which has replaced the need to reread. Especially as my youngest girl fell in love with the series and over the last 12 months I've watched it many many times. Also the Keira Knightley version which I also love. Matthew McFayden does a brilliant job of Mr. Darcey as does Keira of Elizabeth!

A few weeks ago I decided that I needed to do more than watch P&P on DVD yet again and started reading Sense & Sensibility. It took a while to get into though I'm not sure if that's the seeming bog of characters in the beginning or the fact that I was dead tired. At any rate, get into it I did and I ended up loving it. My favourite characters were the Palmers! I'd love to get a glimpse into their lives. I think those two understand each other very well.

Yesterday, I went to the bookshop to buy Northanger Abbey. Mainly because I can never get it from the library. I came out with Emma . My eldest daughter tells me this is the worst of Austen's novels, but I don't care. It has a wonderful cover. Congratulations, Word Press, it's a great publication. I haven't even read it yet, I'm too busy admiring the cover - just holding it makes me feel good. It's plain black with only Jane Austen and Emma embossed on the front. There's a lovely illustration inside with several introductions and other info inside. I don't care much about that either, I just enjoy the simplicity and feel of the cover!

I'll start reading it this weekend. I'm looking forward to the discovery.

Coffee Festival

Coffee @ Peace

I've been having a great time over the last few months working on the marketing for a coffee festival being held down my way in July. My way is Sutherland (just south of Sydney).

The Shire Coffee Festival or Coffee @ Peace will be on Sunday 12 July so we are daily praying for good winter weather. July is usually a fairly good month here in Sydney. March and April are usually damp, May cold, July and June okay, and August windy. So far so good. The last few weeks have been a mix of cold, wet, and sunny (the usual mixed up mix).

Our progams come back from the printer next week, but I've had a look at the proof and they look great! I believe that I may have done a pretty good job of these given that I have a strict corporate styleguide to adhere to.

We have 8 coffee vendors booked and piles of food stalls. The arts and crafts section is going to be amazing! Our live entertainment consists of The Peter Morgan Band (latin jazz) and a comedy act called Pull Your Head In! I can't wait to see these guys as they are cartoonists who include celebrity characterures as part of theiir act. In between their on-stage performances, they split up to do separate cartooning and magician acts at some of the local cafes. We also have a guitarist "busking" at the cafes.

There's stuff for kids - art making, storytelling and Walkabout Reptiles - and stuff for the culture buffs - Japanese Thin Tea Ceremony and a Turkish Coffee Ceremony.

I wish everyone could come to Sydney to attend this event!

If you are in the area and want more information, just go to the Sutherland Shire Council website and type "shire coffee festival" into the search engine box. Alternatively, click on one of the Coffee @ Peace links I've left lying around, or leave a comment here and I'll get right back to you.

Coffee @ Peace

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yarra Glen heritage railway line and bridges

Before the fires...

Photos taken by Kathy and appear on her Facebook page.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Yarra Valley

I took a trip down to the Yarra Valley in Victoria last weekend (27 Feb - 1 Mar). An early morning flight from Sydney, car hire from Tulla. airport (snazzy baby blue Getz) and an hour drive south-eastish (I've never been great with compass directions. From the airport we took a left, a right and didn't stop until we reached Yarra Glen).

We were expecting fairly hot weather, but found it a little cool until mid-afternoon and then it heated up. By that time, we were already touring the wineries so we didn't really care.

Our guide (my sister, whose birthday we were in town to celebrate) took us for a drive down Steels Creek Road, one of the areas recently affected by bushfire. It was a sobering trip. Several homes and outbuildings were destroyed. Several weren't. Hectares of farmland and bush were gone. We drove as far as the turn-off to Kinglake and no further. Yes, the roads were closed (entry to Kinglake, one of the towns severely beaten by the fires, was and is still restricted), but we didn't want to go further. The road was lined with the blackened husks of eucalypts. It's a morbid sight and one we found waiting behind more than one corner.

The town of Yarra Glen sits in a haze of smoke. Sirens and the roar of truck engines now as common as birdcalls. The black reach of the fires is visible everyone - the hills, the paddocks, the vineyards...

We decided to do our bit to support local business (the tourism trade has dropped somewhat since Black Saturday) and bought several bottles of wine and food for a barbecue (which we took indoors due to a total fire ban). The wine went down very easily!

On the Saturday, we slept in a little arousing ourselves in time to go for a walk along the Yarra Glen railway line. The railway hasn't been used in a few years and the rail bridges are... were considered of heritage value. Photographs certainly show very quaint, very beautiful bridges across green, green paddocks and a gentle river. The paddocks, the railway line and the 100-year old bridges are now a charred, twisted mess.

We walked up an appetite and stopped in town at the Yarra Flats Bakery. The best pies and cakes in the world! Lunch was so yummy! Naturally, all that exercise and food led to nap time, otherwise, how would we be able to visit any more wineries?

So, we rested until about three and then got up to hit the wineries once more. We did Sticks, Yering Station and The Dairy (in reverse order) on the Friday. And i've neglected to mention that The Dairy is wine and cheese-tasting with a cafe area where we shared platters of cheese (the cheese-tasting leaves you wanting more) and some lovely coffee (okay, we ordered our own coffees rather than share but you get the picture).

Back to Saturday... De Bertoli, Sutherland Estate, another winery whose name has slipped my mind (no, I wasn't drunk!) and Hargreaves Brewery. Sutherland Estate has a beautiful tasting area. Very peaceful, harmonious, lovely architecture and great views over the yarra valley. The brewery lost just about everything in the fires. Their tasting bar is in the Yarra Glen township so it is just about all they are left with. That and the good will of the community. Other brewers in the area have loaned them facilities to restart brewing and get back on their feet. I don't drink beer so I left that tasting to Craig (Darling Husband).

With dinner time nearing we raced home to change and then on the road again to The Innocent Bystander at Healesville. Lovely family restaurant that is trendy and still friendly. Food was wonderful and we had lots of fun.

Sunday morning we packed our car and visited the Yarra Glen markets before driving back to the airport. Craig had freshly cooked calamarri for breakfast and I enjoyed freshly baked scones and coffee. Lovely breakfast!

Well, it would have been but I'd managed to catch a yukky tummy bug. I ate. I enjoyed. But I felt really crappy afterward.

It was a miserable drive with lots of stops to the airport, but I made it. Stocked up on Immodium at the airport pharmacy and came home. Ended up taking Monday off work - slept half the day - and felt good again by Tuesday.

It didn't really matter that I picked up that bug though. I had a lovely weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Low Road

The low Road The low Road by Chris Womersley

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
An interesting read wavering between depressing, confronting and " eye-opening". Eye-opening I think not in the actual story but in the way it is told, the words and descriptions used. Skirting close to the edge of description overload at times yet so observant and original that it doesn't matter.

A story around an anti-hero of a type that we want to like, want to see succeed. Futile-seeming hope is intertwined with "well, why not...", the dreams aren't so large afterall that they cannot be accomplished.

A book worth reading, a story to relish and digest.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Great Arch

The Great Arch The Great Arch by Vicki Hastrich

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is about the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, its impact on the city and residents, and the toll it collected from the workmen who brought it to life. The Bridge plays a central role in Sydney culture today, learning a bit about its birth, I think, needs to be included in teaching Australian history. Not just for the benefit to Sydney-siders but to know more about the people and culture from the time of its building.

The story though is not an easy read, especially for someone (like me) who's eyes glaze over when conversation turns to detailed technical specifications. But don't be put off, there is no info-dumping. It is the character's personality, his obsession with the Harbour Bridge, and his desire to educate everybody around him on its feat of magnificence. Looking back over his life, the main character, bed-ridden with a stroke, relives his favourite years. The times when life really meant something and passion ruled his thoughts and actions.

The author breaks through reminiscences with less-rosy reports on the growing cost in human life. Fills in gaps with stories of a parish in decay, not through natual attrition but through fast-moving progress.

Stick with this one and you'll experience a slice of life not usually looked at in an area not quite as "famous" as the other side of the bridge though both areas must have been similarly afflicted.

When you've finished, catch the train to Milson's Point, go for a walk around to Lavender Bay and look up at that bloody bridge. I wonder if the bridge-walkers have any inkling of what it is that they're traipsing all over.

I wonder too what the Reverend Ralph Cage would have thought of Luna Park...

View all my reviews.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Good Mayor

The Good Mayor
by Andrew Nicoll

The Good Mayor The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Good Mayor was recommended by a friend who wasn't sure quite what to make of it, but was fairly sure she liked it, even maybe loved it. So I took it home and started to read and was about a quarter the way through when I realised that i was hooked, but on what? The story, the characters, the imaginative wordplay, the twist of fantasy with reality, magic with emotion, love with hate...

Half way through the book I wanted to make sweet love and eat a sumptious meal - not in any particular order, possibly at the same time. The descriptions are detailed yet not overdone. The "narrator" humourous and observant yet not intrusive.

Three quarters the way through, names like Dot and Dash and Ampersand made perfect sense, and stregas were clearly the font of all wisdom in the matters of love and sensibility.

By the end of The Good Mayor, I knew I would need to think on this one a few days more before i could chat with my friend about it, and understood that bits of it were going to come floating to the surface to remember, test out and ponder even further.

My recommendation is - Read it. Let the words soak in, taste them, feel them in your mouth then get comfy and let the story wash over you. Trust me on this, I am a strega from a long line of stregas....

View all my reviews.