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Free gigs at Comedy Festival
Market watch
Country festivals
Terrorist alert
Melbourne's Hidden Gems

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Free gigs at the Comedy Festival

There are several free gigs associated with the Comedy Festival. This Saturday & Sunday there is The Big Laugh Out at NewQuay from 1 to 4pm each day. On Tuesday evening at 6pm in the Town Hall is a Melbourne Conversations event featuring a number of Comedians. On Friday April 11 at Malvern Town Hall is free screening of short comic films. Details at Comedy in Melbourne.

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Market watch

Since I visit the Vic Market most market days, I thought it may be useful to occasionally alert you to what is good value. At the moment lemons and limes are at their best and cheapest. Lemons 10 for $1, limes 5 for $1. Now is the time to drag out those Thai and middle eastern recipes calling for fresh limes. You can always juice the limes and store them as ice blocks to be used when needed. If, like me, you use a lot of preserved lemons in your cooking, now is the time to make up a batch. You can buy them at some delis for exorbitant prices, but it is easy and much cheaper to make your own. You can find a recipe at Preserved Lemons.

Tonight I am going to make a goat tagine with preserved lemons. Fortunately, La Porchetta is just up the road, so if you see me there late tonight you will know that it didn't work.

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Country Festivals

If you are interested in church music, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the South Grampians Festival of Church Music. It is quite unique to sit in church in the middle of the countryside and see it packed to the gills. Last year the festival ended with Doug Lawrence conducting the massed choirs in a rarely performed French work for choirs and two organs. The concert also contained spirited congregational singing. Fortunately there were no city OHS officers around, for one look at the packed choir loft would be enough for them to declare "everyone out".

Although the obvious tourist route to Hamilton is along the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool, those of you who know that route may want to consider the inland alternative from Ballarat to Hamilton. This gives a stunning panoramic view of the Grampians, and one which I have never seen used on travel brochures or the like. You could stop for a picnic near the Dunkeld racetrack under the craggy outcrops of the Grampians before heading on to Hamilton. While in Hamilton, I would recommend a visit to the gallery to see the important Paul Sandby collection. Good cheap fresh food is hard to find in the country, and last time we were in Hamilton we ended up eating at, you guessed it, La Porchetta. If you have time, you might visit Coleraine - scene of Adam Lindsay Gordon's steeplechase daring and home to an impressive arboretum.

Albury Cup festivities start this weekend. Closer to home there is the Scottish Festival at the Gulf Station in Yarra Glen. Details of these festivals at Events in Country Victoria.

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Terrorist alert

There are two innocent looking little old ladies who sell Habenero chillies in the carpark market at Wangaratta. They should be approached with extreme care and wearing only the right protective clothing (both the ladies and the chillies). I am used to birdseye chillies even though I often openly weep in Thai restaurants. However these cunningly designed WMDs have been designed to have several delayed actions to incapacitate the Australian population. Firstly they render the innocent eater speechless for some minutes and unable to communicate in any coherent way with the rest of the world. The first planned delayed effect was then experienced by She Who Must Be Obeyed when she removed her contact lenses. Despite all the usual washings etc, anyone coming within remote proximity of these weapons can be rendered sightless and incomprehensible for some considerable time. Several pairs of contact lenses have been rendered unusable by one single chilli. Finally, after a recovery period and a little fitful sleep, the danger has passed. The cunning design of these weapons is to lull you into a false sense of security, because this is when it strikes its lowest blow of all. Not content with rearranging your internal organs, it leaves its cruellest effect until you attempt to expel the demon from your body.

I rang the number on my fridge magnet and soon expect to see pictures of armed men pouncing on these women and dragging then away. I will also lobby for these weapons to be banned by international treaty. We all have to do our bit if we want to live in a country where we can be relaxed and comfortable.

Keeping this warning in mind, you can find a full list of country markets (including farmers' markets) at Markets in Victoria.

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Melbourne's Hidden Gems

Wonderful cheap places to stay in Melbourne

Please note: This section of the newsletter has been removed as it forms part of a forthcoming publication.
 
You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.