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Theatre
Music
Food
Other activities
Festivals
Reader feedback
Country Victoria
Valentine's Day

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Theatre

During January we were in a booking agency in the Melbourne Town Hall looking through the brochures, when a young Malaysian couple, obviously very much in love, walked in. There was little on offer – just the usual tours that always advertise themselves as half price and to which no-one has ever bought a mythical full price ticket. There was also the wonderful Midsummer Night’s Dream in the gardens. They asked the young man behind the counter (the sign says “we offer advice on a wide range of events”) if there was anything worth seeing. “Not really.” They then asked “what’s Midsummer Night’s Dream like?” “Don’t know – haven’t seen it.” “What’s it about?” “What can I say – it’s Shakespeare. I hate Shakespeare!” The young couple were about to leave when she of the pink hat felt she had to over-rule the official advice and recommended they go along for a very special Melbourne night. They went back to the counter and bought tickets.

If you hate Shakespeare then you’re in for a bad month. There is Much Ado at the Children’s Farm, a musical version of Much Ado in the gardens, and Midsummer Night’s Dream under the stars at Emerald Lake.

And for all of you who have chosen to give us a hotmail or yahoo address, Debbie Does Dallas – The Musical opens on Valentines Day at The Athenaeum and the Hookers & Deviates Ball is on soon. (If you give us your work address we promise to send this email in a plain brown paper wrapper).

Details of all these at Theatre in Melbourne.

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Music

This weekend there is a jazz festival in the Grampians, a country music festival in Whittlesea, Gypsy Swing in North Melbourne and the last of the free Sydney Myer orchestral concerts at the music bowl. Details at Music in Melbourne.

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Food

Limes are cheap again at the Vic Market and I asked Cameron the mushroom man what he would suggest as a simple salad to go with my roast beef. He suggested a crisp lettuce with lime juice and good olive oil sprinkled with some deep fried shallots. It was great and I am eating last night’s leftovers as I type this. I wasn’t sure if I had a jar of the shallots at home so called into my local Chinese grocer. In order to keep people in the store for longer they have devised a filing system for the merchandise that is only understood by the owners – I think the goods are placed on the shelves alphabetically in Cantonese There is a feeling of achievement when after several months you have mastered the layout and you are able to tell other shoppers with a superior air – “Oh yes. They’re over there in the third aisle”. Thus I was annoyed to find the owners had put up large signs telling people what was in each aisle. I picked up the shallots from their usual place and noticed the sign announced them as ‘curry pastes’. I grew increasingly relaxed as I noticed that none of the signs bore any relation to what was in that aisle, so my position of authority had not been undermined.

If you haven’t been in a large Chinese grocery, pick one at random in Footscray, Springvale, Victoria Street Richmond or Box Hill and have a wander around. You will probably be able to pick up all the ingredients for that recipe you noted down from The Iron Chef. More details at Melbourne Food Stores.

If Chinese groceries seem a bit daunting, you can try The Taste of Victoria this weekend at Flemington Racecourse. Details at Food & Wine in Victoria.

Does anyone know how to remove deep fried shallots from a computer keyboard?

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Other activities

A decade or more ago, Australian teachers were made aware that it was not legal to administer Mogodon or Valium to their students and so retaliated by inventing a number of activities that had the same effect. They gave these joyless games names like “happy sack” and it was important that they did not involve competition or have winners and losers. This social engineering was secretly subsidised by the adventure industry, because they knew that if you could produces a generation that had never been allowed to climb a tree, indulge in body contact sports or play on anything but state-approved equipment, then there would eventually be a whole captive market who would pay ridiculous amounts for bungy jumping or white water rafting. Meanwhile, for those who stuck with it, there are the 2005 Footbag Competitions at Fed Square with lots of competition and lots of winners and losers.

Also this weekend there is international wheelchair tennis and world cup skateboarding. For details of any of these go to our home page and click through to what’s on this weekend.

The Surry Hills Historical Society have a meeting coming up where visitors are requested to bring along a historical relic and discuss it. Maybe you could take along your Datsun 120Y. Details at Meetings and Forums in Melbourne.

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Festivals

This weekend is the St Kilda Festival with wall to wall bands and street activities. With all the decaying vegetable matter stirred up by last week’s storms I wouldn’t be planning a romantic walk along the beach. The smell on such occasions is not something they mentioned in The Secret Life of Us. Details at St Kilda.

This weekend is also in the height of Chinese New Year and Tet celebrations with festivals in Chinatown, Richmond and elsewhere. Details at Ethnic & Religious Festivals in Melbourne.

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Reader feedback

“Your tip on (the Footscray mansion) was superb. My partner and I had breakfast there on Sunday and it was totally magnificent. So much so that I've booked my birthday lunch there on Wednesday. Thank you so much - I have no idea how you dug it up.
Jane”

Thanks Jane – does that mean we’re all invited?

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Country Victoria

There are two major festivals in Gippsland this weekend- the Drouin Ficifolia Festival and the Mirboo North Beer Festival – and it most important that you visit them in that order. The ficifolia is a gum that breaks into red flowers and makes the people of Drouin get very excited and hold a community festival. Then someone figured out that this happens at roughly one year intervals so they changed its name to the Annual Ficifolia Festival. Apart from being observant, the people of Drouin are very friendly and will be able to direct you on your way to the boutique brewery at Mirboo North for the Beer Festival. If on the other hand you choose to first go to the Beer Festival, sample the wares and then ask for directions to the focifillia fest - - no the filiifocular fete – no hang on a minute, the . . then just be careful of the large gentleman by the name of Phil standing at the bar. Details at Gippsland South.

When an ocean liner turns up at Station Pier, large numbers of Melbournians arrive on the foreshore and stare at it. Today (Friday) the liner Queen Elizabeth II will be at Phillip Island before moving on to Station Pier thus allowing the locals an opportunity to show that they are just as sophisticated as Melbournians. Details at Phillip Island.

The Wunta Festival starts this weekend in Warrnambool and claims to be the largest festival in south-west Victoria. Details at Warrnambool.

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Valentine’s Day

If you work in the city you can take your loved one along to a free romantic organ concert at lunchtime in the Town Hall. That will free you up to take out your spouse in the evening. You can find this and other romantic ideas at Romantic Melbourne.

And if your loved one has had a sheltered childhood, you could always buy them a voucher for bungy jumping, white water rafting or similar activities at Outdoor & Adventure Activities in Victoria.

You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.