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Free concerts in the parks Lunar New Year Festivals Shakespeare Under the Stars Pedants' Dating Service Prom Country Reader Feedback Free dance classes Even Lost Icons of Melbourne - No.2 The Flying Swallow Opera in the Alps Night markets Children's activities From the White Hat Inbox One Night in Africa Summer Jazz Outdoor Cinema Raspberries & Mussels Red Hill Country Music Festival & Ute Muster The White Hat Quiz

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FREE CONCERTS IN THE PARKS Welcome to summer and it’s time to pack a picnic and head along to the free twilight concerts in the park which commence next week. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Parks/FitzTreas.asp

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LUNAR NEW YEAR FESTIVALS This weekend there is the Lunar New Year (Tet) Festival (called East Meets West) in Footscray. The following weekend is the Lunar New Year Festival in Victoria Street Richmond. Great food, lots of colour and motion and enough firecrackers to drive out any evil spirits and bad memories that may be left over from 2008. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Festivals/Ethnic.asp

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SHAKESPEARE UNDER THE STARS This year’s play is Taming of the Shrew. If you don’t know the plot, just imagine the fireworks when Sergio, the Italian lad from Carlton, is about to marry Effie, the Greek girl from Brunswick. Who is going to buckle under first? Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Parks/Botanic.asp

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PEDANTS’ DATING SERVICE Since Sarah met Damien she found she could scale back her medication for OPAS (Obsessive Possessive Apostrophe Syndrome). They had already spent the night together but never made it to bed, having stayed up all night discussing abbreviations. Damien had taken her for a walk in Port Melbourne. As they rounded the corner, Damien gestured upwards with scarcely concealed pride. “See. I told you there were still buildings in Melbourne which use the word ‘manufactory’ instead of the abbreviation ‘factory’.” “Oh Damien, you don’t know how few people out there care about such important things.” “Well, I have a special outing planned for us next weekend . .”

Is Damien taking Sarah to Shakespeare under the Stars? What should Sarah wear for the special outing? Would the Red Hill Ute Muster attract a better class of people if it called itself the Red Hill Utility Vehicle Muster? Find out next week.

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PROM COUNTRY Next weekend at Foster (near Wilsons Prom) there is a food & wine festival called A Taste of Prom Country. Also in Foster is a children’s entertainment called Bush Magic with lots of puppets, so if you want to see South Gippsland’s answer to The Lion King, head down to Foster. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Victoria/Regions/GippslandSouth.asp

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READER FEEDBACK “Thanks very much for the fantastic newsletter. Love that droll tone. I particularly enjoyed your version of The Twelve Days of Christmas and wished Santa would bring me a bar fridge in a gum tree. UG sounds like a very resourceful guy. Jane”

“Your latest newsletter is just as good as always. I appreciate your dry humour, running jokes, and an ironic but knowledgeable and, I believe loving, take on Australia. Keep up the good work, yet again. L.H”

“Happy Christmas and many thanks for the most entertaining and informative newsletter! I am looking forward to spending 2 month is Mellers (as I call it) from January 09 and will follow your suggestions to the letter Peter Cobham, England”

“Hi just one correction [to the answers one of your readers submitted to last week's quiz], La Befana comes on 6th January. Thanks Anna”

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FREE DANCE CLASSES On Sunday evening through out January there are free sunset dance classes in the park. All ages and all abilities so you’ve got no excuses. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Events/DanceM.asp

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Seven Lost Icons of Melbourne

No.2 - The Flying Swallow

This article can now be found at The Flying Swallow.

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OPERA IN THE ALPS The following weekend there is the annual Opera in the Alps. The sponsor is not some maker of luxury cars or precision watches or fine wines – it is Leafbusters, I believe they may emulate (or should I say, take a leaf from the book of) Swallows and incorporate some subtle product placement and branding into the event. For instance Mimi opens the door to find the tenor from Leafbusters singing “Your tiny drain is clogged up, Let me clean it up for you.” When he asks her when she had intended to fix the problem, Mimi, who is always a sucker for a man in uniform, sings “One fine day.” The concert ends with a rousing rendition of Eric Coates’ Leafbusters March. Well, that might not be the exact program but you can find out more at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Events/Opera.asp

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NIGHT MARKETS January is a great month for those who love night markets. On Wednesdays there is the Queen Vic night market, on Thursdays the St Kilda Beach Night Market (which is not on St Kilda Beach) and on Fridays is the newly commenced Geelong Night Market in Johnstone Park. Then, because this Saturday is the 2nd Saturday of the month you could also go to the Goornong and Community Twilight Bazaar near Bendigo. Details of night markets at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Victoria/Markets/Twilight.asp

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CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES There are tons of activities for kids during January, many of them free. Dress the littlies up as fairies and take them along to free fairy activities at the Fairy Tree. If your children have grown out of the fairy phase (for some this doesn’t occur until they are about 26) there are free sporting classes in Royal Park and Fawkner Park. You could take them to the impressive sand sculptures at Docklands or Wind In The Willows at the Botanic Gardens. The following weekend is the Tianjin Dancing Kite Festival in Royal Park. If this festival has the same face painters they had last year then get there early. Each child’s face was a detailed work of art. Details of these and other children’s activities at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Lifestyle/Children.asp

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FROM THE WHITE HAT INBOX

“Dear Editor,

Thank you for the information re South African shops in Melbourne.

You can find information on food stores in Melbourne at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/FoodStores/FoodStoresM.asp

We also had the following personal message:

“hi from portc can u lend me $140? crystal borrowed $140 2 go 2 a rock festival – it was $120 2 get in & $20 2 buy an armband about world poverty & i asked her when she would pay me back & she said she didnt know but she had 2 go 2 make a stand against world poverty & i asked who the $120 went 2 & she said the promoters & the performers but it was the only way that people like us could make a difference and i should have gone & i said i couldnt cos id already given her my $140 & i cared just as much about world poverty as she did & she said that if i did then y havent i got an armband & i said that i did care & i was going 2 use my 2nd gap year 2 go 2 africa & make a difference & its the 1st time ive had a real fight with crystal and were not talking & when i thought about it i do want 2 make a difference & can u send me a book on africa & also $140 cos that would help a lot with local poverty here. luv nat”

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ONE NIGHT IN AFRICA This is an African-themed fundraising event to raise money for volunteer work in South Africa. There will be African music, food, dancing and drumming, raffle prizes and a silent auction. $30 per ticket (included African finger food and entertainment. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Events/Community.asp

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SUMMER JAZZ Summer in Melbourne is a great time for jazz. There is free Sunday morning jazz in the Piazza in Lygon Street Carlton, then starting this weekend there is free jazz in a variety of parks around the Prahran and Camberwell area. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Music/Jazz.asp

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OUTDOOR CINEMA The movies continue at the Botanic Gardens and on the rooftop of the Curtin Building. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Festivals/Film.asp

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RASPBERRIES AND MUSSELS On Saturday there is the annual Portarlington Mussel Festival. You can find details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Food/Ingredients/Mussels.asp and we will add a couple of our favourite mussel recipes there when we get time.

On Sunday is the Kinglake Raspberry Fair in the Yarra Valley. Grandparents should take a load off the parents by taking the kids off their hands for the day. Let the kids gorge themselves on raspberries – after all fruit is good for them. Oh, and take the parents’ car because those red stains are hard to remove. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Food/Ingredients/Raspberries.asp

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RED HILL COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL & UTE MUSTER This Sunday is the Red Hill Country Music Festival with special guest Billy Wyatt who hails from Phoenix Arizona. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Music/Country.asp

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THE WHITE HAT QUIZ

First to our Christmas Eve Quiz. Our first entries came from Dawn and Jim. Here are Jim’s replies:

Now to this week’s quiz.

Victorian Brands.

1. Vegemite was invented and developed in Melbourne. Who now owns the brand name? 2. An sermon inspired the name a Victorian inventor gave to his piece of machinery. Later a Melbourne suburb changed its name to that of the machine. What is that brand name? 3. What does SPC stand for and who owns it? 4. What brand name reflects the connection between swimming and motor tyres. 5. Aspro and Aspirin. Which is the brand name and which is the general scientific name? What does this have to do with a popular place to seek out local design, jewellery and artworks? 6. A product has really succeeded when the brand name is accepted as the generic name for a product, such as Hoover (meaning vacuum cleaner), Nugget (for shoe polish, even though the Melbourne ‘Kiwi’ was the world-leading brand), Sherrin (for football) and possibly ipod (for MP3 player). However, sometimes these brand names are not interpreted in the same way in different countries. Give an example where an Australian using such a brand name may find themselves embarrassed in a different country. 7. What Melbourne entrepreneur incorporated his nickname into his highly successful and floridly presented brand name? 8. Why do Queenslanders brand their beer ‘XXXX’?

No prizes – just glory and a warm inner glow.

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