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Archive for the ‘Perth & WA’ Category

There’s no point having a blog if you don’t update it regularly so on my recent track record, I should be thinking about closing this site down.

Working full-time, watching preview DVDs at night, doing interviews as early as 6am and raising a family leaves me with little time to update this but I am going to have another crack.

There’s also the issue of public versus private. How much do I reveal here now my face is in the paper most days of the week? Do I even need this as an outlet?

For starters I am going to post a few links to stories that have been in The West.

Last week I chatted to Dr Andrew Rochford for The 7pm Project’s special report on the state of mental health funding.

I also recently chatted to Bondi Vet and all round nice guy Dr Chris Brown

Chaser performer and writer Chris Taylor took time out from shooting to talk about The Chaser’s new series Yes We Canberra! although my byline seems to have fallen off this one.

All in all it has been a busy couple of months, with a flying set visit to Melbourne in June that allowed me the opportunity to squeeze in a meal at Grossi Florentino.

Over the coming months this blog is likely to become more food focussed as I leave my TV commentary to the newspaper and Twitter.

So, having just backed up my iPhone, let’s start with a few foodie pics.

Inspired by MasterChef and my sweet tooth I have been trying macarons from just about everywhere, though I am still hanging out to get to Sydney to visit Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie.

Here are some recent purchases, top to bottom, from Jean-Pierre Sancho in Perth and Cafe Vue in Melbourne. I can’t seem to find any photos of macarons from Choux so will add them later. And I was about to upload one of Rochelle Adonis’ chocolate macarons when it disappeared.

Photos backed up from my iPhone seem to be appearing in totally random order, not by date taken. Frustrating!

Macaron Madness - macarons from Jean Paul Sancho, Perth

Macaron Madness - macarons from Jean-Pierre Sancho, Perth

Macarons from Cafe Vue, Melbourne

Macarons from Cafe Vue, Melbourne

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Well I survived my first week back in full-time employment.

Things that have changed since I left The West in 2007.

*The side gate I used to use as a shortcut to the foyer is now locked. Padlocked and covered in cobwebs, in fact. I felt pretty daft marching around to use it, then marching right back again.

*There’s still next to nowhere to eat. Maybe I should buy a Jiffy food van?

*Sky News has a reporter in residence. I wondered who the pretty girl was who was talking to herself; then I realised when I stuck my head past the partition she was doing a piece to camera. It’s amazing the set-up she has and apparently it doesn’t pick up all of our noise.

*For a whole day I wondered why they had only hand sanitiser in the toilets, the stuff you don’t use with water. Then I realised the soap dispensers were built-in next to the tap. Like they had always been.

*It’s not a good idea to go to the loo around lunchtime. That’s when they are closed for cleaning.

*The editorial computer system is far more user-friendly (though some users found it hard to believe I’d said that) and the internal message system has gone.

*You need to dial 0 to get an outside line, not 9. Or you end up ringing random people in sport by mistake. I think.

*That it’s a good idea to tell switchboard you’ve returned to work, or they accidentally tell people you don’t work there anymore.

*Home -baked goods are embraced and encouraged – although I was a bit shocked to overhear one colleague saying my Chocolate Crackle Top cookies looked like dog poo circa when dogs ate bones. She thinks I didn’t hear her because I was on the phone several rows away. Ha!

*Travelling reporters can borrow a Dell netbook and wireless USB modem. Amazing! I’m testing one out tomorrow.

*I received mail from a movie company on my third day, before I had changed my address with them. I realised that mail had probably been coming in and going in the bin since 2007. I hadn’t realised because I also get their mailouts by email.

*I could spend several weeks explaining how long I was gone for and why I am back.

There’s nothing quite like a newsroom, especially when you started working in one aged 17. Only newspaper people really understand newspapers and newspaper people  – to this day I’ m pretty sure 75 per cent of my non-media friends have no idea what I actually do. Actually some media people probably don’t either, since my round is TV but I’m not on it :-)

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As promised, here’s an update on how my first online shopping experience went with Woolworths.  Unfortunately, not well.

Looking back at my order, it looks like I ordered about 52 items. Of those, one was out of stock and I got an email alert. No biggie. But there were about 10 other things that went wrong.

I got beans instead of bean sprouts. One can of tomatoes instead of two – but charged for both. Ice cream and sorbet that were both melted enough to be oozing out of their cartons (possibly because they were delivered about 9pm, the outer limit of the 7-9pm window I requested).

Let’s see what else? Caged eggs instead of free range, two small chickens instead of one, a small box of green tea instead of a large bog of chai tea.

Less bothersome were the bake at home bread rolls sent instead of bake at home baguettes and the three boxes of hash browns instead of the one kilo bag on sale.

So in some cases I was overcharged and in others, such as being charged for one free range chicken then getting two smaller ones at a higher price, I was under charged.

After unpacking and noting all the errors I called customer service and could not get through. At that time of night I suspected they weren’t actually there (there were conflicting hours on the website and the order confirmation email).

So I followed up with a polite and detailed email. When I got no response, I called late on Saturday afternoon and was told I could have the problem items re-delivered but not for a few days. Or I could get credit. I went with the latter for the four items that were the biggest mistakes – giving me a refund of about $14 (the order was about $174).

I had hoped for a reply to my email but a week on and I haven’t heard a word. The customer service representative I spoke to  said the service had been operating in my suburb for three weeks and would improve.  She didn’t sound terribly surprised by the mistakes nor terribly sorry.

Compare this with my first Coles delivery a year or so ago where I alerted them to the rather trivial matter of frozen spring onions. They credited my account without question and were pleased to have been notified.

What seems most strange about this whole situation is Woolworths is playing catch-up in a market Coles has had to itself for about a year.

Why haven’t they done some homework and tried out the Coles service? Coles has better delivery windows for starters, not to mention giving customers an estimated price to take into account the final and actual weight of items like meat, whole chickens and fruit and veg.

Part of the problem is Woolworths appears to be giving its personal shoppers’ a computerised list of items to tick off with pencil but the final results, weights and prices are not being taken into account in the way Coles does.

It surely can’t be good business sense to give me two approx 1.2kilo chickens worth about $17  instead of one 1.7kilo chicken for $13.60 or  to charge me $9.27 for 450g chicken breast that actually turned out to be $7.55.

Unable to secure a delivery window and not really having the time to take the risk with Woolworths, this week I went back to Coles. My delivery for 6-8pm arrived at 6.05pm with everything itemised and in their bags in good condition. As has become Coles’ habit, I also received some free samples.

Now that’s service. I think I’ll give it another few weeks or even months before I try Woolworths again.

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Many years ago, after the birth of my first child, I used an online grocery shopping service in Perth called Electrolley.

The food was fresh but it didn’t do many deliveries to my suburb. It no longer operates and I always presumed it had been too ahead of its time.

A year or so back I started to use Coles Online and have found the service to be very good, complemented by a Twitter account where shoppers can and receive give instant feedback.

The advantages to shopping online are numerous – not having to take the kids to the shop, only buying what you need, being able to use shopping time to do something else, like, erm, washing the car.

The service also has its drawbacks  such as  out of stock items and not being able to check nutrition and ingredient information.

One of the main reasons I didn’t use the service every week was the delivery charge and the delivery windows. Sometimes by the time I had decided to shop online that week, there were no convenient delivery times left.

Coles has recently addressed this by introducing free delivery and also increasing the delivery windows to include Saturday afternoon to early evening.

I also discovered quite by chance that part of the underlying motivation for free delivery throughout Perth was probably the arrival on the scene of Woolworths Online.

The arrival of Woolworths a month or so ago has been very low-key. No TV ads, no email alerts, nothing in the sale catalogues. I even asked the Woolworths Everyday Rewards team on Twitter and got no response.

Today I got a flyer among some sale catalogues but there still wasn’t anything about the service in the weekly sale brochure.

I have also tried registering for Aussie Farmers Direct to no avail. Although I have seen them delivering in my suburb, I must live on the wrong side of it. I have entered my postcode, been told computer says no, been referred to customer service, only to get an email five days later to say computer still says no.

I discovered Woolworths had started delivery to my area simply by creating an account and entering my postcode and address. When it was approved and I got to the delivery window screen I was still doubtful so-called the customer service line to check.

Excited, I tried for about three weeks to use the service to no avail because I couldn’t find a suitable delivery window. So I continued to use Coles or physically go to the shops.

This week I have secured a delivery window so will be trying the Woolworth service for the first time. Already there are things about it that are inferior to Coles. Like selling brocoli by the piece? What’s with that – why can’t it be by the kilo? And bananas are sold by the kilo in the shops, not by banana like online.

Also, once the order is placed there doesn’t seem to be a way to add to it or change it. Coles lets you do that up to about 11pm the night before.

Coles gives a price estimate based on the fact it can’t tell you online exactly how much your fruit, veg and meat with weigh. I have an apparently exact total from Woolworths and fear I’ll probably get about 400g of gravy beef rather than 500g.

So why don’t I stick with Coles all the time? Good question. Dumb answer – I like collecting Everyday Rewards linked to Qantas Frequent Flyer. No matter how much I buy, I  just don’t ever seem to accumulate Flybuys points from Coles – reminding me of a certain amusing bank advert.

Like many working parents, online shopping is going to become an  increasingly invaluable part of keeping my sanity and my pantry stocked.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shop in one store alone, simply because not one store stocks everything I need.

Only IGA stocks Billington’s dark muscovado sugar, Nemar’s natural coloured 100s and 1000s and Eta 5 Star margarine – a staple for my daughter who has dairy allergies. IGA also usually has the best milk specials.

So my independent grocer really doesn’t have too much to fear from the multinational with the fleets of refrigerated trucks.

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Choo-Choo Express

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express

Parents often complain there are no suitable movies to take children to outside the school holidays. 

Complain no more because from May 6 the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express is pulling into Greater Union and Event Cinemas in Perth for a series of special $6 screenings aimed at pre-schoolers and their families. 

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express sees Mickey and his pals putting together the Clubhouse Choo-Choo Train to help Professor Von Drake deliver his special non-melting Easy Freezy Snow from Mistletoe Mountain so they can play in the snow year-round. 

Choo-Choo Express aims to inspire children with messages of teamwork, problem solving and adventure. For many children it will also be the first time they have seen Mickey Mouse on the big screen. Joining him for the adventure are old favourite Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck. 

As a special bonus, a never-before-seen episode of Playhouse Disney favourite Handy Manny will screen before the film. 

The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express will also screen on Foxtel’s Playhouse Disney channel on Saturday, June 26 and be available for purchase on Disney DVD on June 30. 

For the chance to win one of three family passes (admit four per family pass) courtesy of Disney to a special preview on Sunday May 2 at Event Cinemas Innaloo at 10am, visit my Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/sueyeap  for details on how to win by answering a simple question. 

*Trivia: Trivia – Walt Disney originally wanted to call Mickey “Mortimer Mouse” but it was changed to “Mickey Mouse” when his wife Lillian said she felt that “Mortimer” sounded too pompous and suggested another name that personified the qualities of fun and humbleness. 

Visit Mickey House at Playhouse Disney Australia here 

Or click here for more information about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express. 

You can even get an idea of what Choo-Choo express will be like by watching this video from IMDB.

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While many Perth families have been obsessing over the MySchool website, this week I have been I’ve been concerned with the big issues.

Such as, what is it with Perth people and trolleys?

I hate having to pay to use a trolley at the airport but I am more and more inclined to support moves for a pay for use/deposit system at shopping centres.

Perhaps I am more sensitive than usual, having only picked my car up from the smash repairers last week, but it seems trolley laziness is at an all time high.

I have four shopping centres within a five to 10 minute drive. The closest is the one I favour the least because no one seems able to put a trolley away anywhere other than between parked cars.

On Thursday night I went to the centre that is furthest away, parked relatively close due to the time and moved a trolley from in front of my car to the return bay.

Half an hour later I emerged to find  another trolley stuck in front of the car.

But today’s incident takes the cake. I pulled into the busy car park at another shopping centre (not a major), spotted one free bay and as I indicated to pull in, a man with a trolley used the spare bay to park his groceries.

Noticing my plan to park, he moved the trolley a bit closer to his station wagon and continue to unpack. I got out of the car, said thanks and went to get my bag from the boot.

Then, the man moved the trolley up between our cars and went to get into his car to leave. I couldn’t believe it – the trolley return bay was directly opposite his car, about 5m away.

So I promptly walked back to my side of the car, grabbed the trolley and marched it to the bay, saying loudly I couldn’t believe how lazy he was.

To which he responded “maybe I shouldn’t have been so courteous earlier” (bearing in mind – he was actually hogging an entire car bay with his trolley during peak Saturday shopping hours). To which I responded “you win some, you lose some – that was going to blow into the car.”  To which he responded “it would have blown the other way”- as in, not into my car but whoever parked there next!

Our civilised exchange was observed by several people including a couple whose Hyundai Getz was parked in front of us and could just as easily have been damaged by said trolley.  But no one seemed to care.

I am thinking that from now on, I will park my car covered in bubble wrap.

Hoons, tailgaters, people who refuse to let you merge, people who don’t wave to say thanks when you let them in, people who don’t care if they hit your car with a trolley…Perth driver, you really are crap.

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On Saturday I travelled to the Margaret River region with Channel 7 and assorted media types and Perthonalities for the launch of Seven’s new reality cooking series My Kitchen Rules. 

WA contestants Marc & Natalie with MC Mark Gibson at MKR launch

When this show was announced last year, I groaned. It sounded like a knee-jerk, copycat reaction to Ten’s hit Masterchef Australia. Worth noting I also doubted Masterchef would work when Ten announced it in 2008. 

Paul & Melissa, SA contestants in MKR

I’ll start by saying I am yet to see a full episode of MKR, which some including Reality Ravings have already called a cross between Seven’s previous hit series My Restaurant Rules and Come Dine With Me. Hopefully I’ll be seeing it early this week. 

Having watched a lot of TV over the years, I was asked by other guests/media  on more than one occasion the million dollar question – how I thought the show would go? 

Again, not having seen a full episode, there are several factors to consider. First, the talent. Whether we like or dislike the contestants and how they behave and react under pressure is pretty important  (I have an inkling there’s at least one person viewers are going to find irritating – it is after all, reality TV). 

Then there are the judges; Peter Evans and Manu Feildel both have plenty of TV experience, Evans on Nine’s Fresh (he was also cooking for IGA at the Perth Royal Show last year) and Feildel on Ready, Steady Cook and Masterchef. 

Crispy skinned salmon with salsa

Yet  some media didn’t seem to know who they were. Still, that’s not such a concern – how many TV viewers had heard of Matt Preston this time last year? It’s their advice and how they give it that will count (some are predicting Frenchman Feildel will win over female viewers). 

Also worth considering – timeslot. MKR is being launched in double chunks, at 7.30pm Mondays and Tuesdays from Feb 1. Is that too much to swallow? Not when you consider Masterchef was stripped every night bar Saturday. 

But what will MKR be up against? On Nine, the answer is all new  Two and a Half Men/ Big Bang Theory and Survivor (for week one at least). On Ten, The Biggest Loser Couples and So You Think You Can Dance. 

That’s tough competition and not everyone can come out a winner. On the positive side, there will be no other cooking shows on prime time commercial TV – with Masterchef not on air until The Biggest Loser concludes around May. 

But if I had to pick a winner at the launch, WA contestants Marc and Natalie (the only married couple on the show) got the big thumbs up for their grilled lamb with Moroccan cous cous (maybe I am being parochial, maybe Sam Kekovich has me brainwashed and maybe it was Moroccan lamb, not cous cous). 

Marc & Natalie's Lamb with cous cous

I’m not sure if the side serves of potato salad and spinach salad with roasted sweet potato were also their handiwork but the results were delish. 

Apologies that there are no photos of Gen and Tanja from Queensland’s prawns, they were on skewers and eaten too quickly. 

*In my original post, I didn’t factor the food into how MKR would rate. Once I would have said accessible food we can easily make at home is the key – but the croquembouche challenge on Masterchef proved otherwise. 

And let’s not forget where the launch was held – award-winning home/luxury retreat Incognito 

Imagine waking up to this… 

View from Incognito luxury retreat

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