LE BOAT’S TOP THREE FAMILY FRIENDLY HOLIDAYS

October 30, 2015

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If you are wanting a holiday where the kids can have as much fun as the adults, get on board Le Boat, Europe’s number one boating holiday company, for an unforgettable voyage in 2016 that the whole family will love.

Let the kids be the captain of their own boat, under careful supervision of course, and point the compass towards Le Boat’s top three family friendly boating destinations.

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In Camargue, France the glitzy beach resorts are full of activities to keep the young ones entertained and provoke a bit of friendly family rivalry, including watersports and mini golf. Older kids and teens can snap selfies to their heart’s content, with a good chance of being photo-bombed by a pink flamingo or one of the other 400 bird species that reside in the lush green grass of the marshes here. There’s also wild bulls and horses, deer, beavers and more to capture for the family album as you wind your way through the canals.

The Camargue is a mixture of the traditional and modern. Take a step back in time with a wander along the city walls of the 13th century fortified town of Aigues-Mortes and explore the town’s fascinating history, including the imposing Tower of Constance, which was once used as a prison.

Another great place to explore is the River Thames in England, especially the stretch of the River between Kingston and Oxford. This section is just like a living history book, with so much to explore and uncover. Take anchor at Oxford, home of the world famous university and also the oldest museum in the world, the Ashmolean, that dates all the way back to 1683. Stroll the cobblestones and marvel at the charming architecture and you’ll soon discover why Oxford is known as the City of Spires.

Continue your float down the Thames, taking in lush green countryside, countless quintessential English villages and other historic spots such as Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and Cliveden House. For a change of pace and a step back into the present, the whole family can enjoy fun thrills at the nearby LEGOland Windsor Resort or adrenaline pumping Thorpe Park.

The Caledonian Canal, Scotland will grab the interest of
Harry Potter fans, who will recognise the spectacular hilltop scenery of the Scottish Highlands where the Hogwarts Express ran along the same route as the West Highland Railway. Follow in the footsteps of Harry and his friends with a journey along one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world, with soaring views of dramatic green mountain ranges and the shimmering waters of the famous Loch Ness.

Back on board your boat, keep an eye out for Nessie as you cruise the lochs of the Caledonian Canal, and take in views of hilltop castle ruins nestled amongst the deep green pines.

Sandra Tiltman


LOVE STYLE BY JULIET LOVE

October 26, 2015

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Juliet Love’s creative and informative new book, “Love Style”, is packed full of helpful decorating ideas, complete with beautiful photographic images to illustrate the text. Stylist, Interior Designer and Television Host, Juliet will inspire anyone who reads the book to look around their home to seek out areas where they can make enhancements

Published by New Holland Publishers Australia, this easy to read coffee table book is the perfect gift for all first time home buyers, those moving into their first apartment or indeed anyone who wants to update the décor of their home to give it an exciting new look.

Juliet commenced her career at Vogue Living, working for clients that included Christian Dior, Home Beautiful, The LifeStyle Channel and now operates her own business, Love Style, which aims to show how a beautiful environment can make a positive difference to our lives.

DSC07650The best interiors are both beautiful as well as functional. Blending old with new, such as a vintage mirror, can look very chic and that changing your cushions, as well as mixing sizes and shapes, is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to update the look of a room, for a stylish look.

To refresh a dated bathroom, enamel baths and basins can be resurfaced, making them appear new and clever design tricks in small bathrooms can give the illusion of more space, like using wallpaper with a wide horizontal stripe.

Visual tricks play an important role in making a small area seem larger. Use the same colour on both the walls and ceiling, especially a light neutral shade, or hang artworks lower on the wall and steer away from bright feature walls. Don’t forget mirrors are very effective when trying to create the illusion of space. Low furniture works well in small spaces as it interrupts the eye line, so avoid using tall furniture. Another tip is to bring furniture in from the walls, even just a few inches, as this creates volume around it, resulting in the appearance of a larger space.

Home offices have become an essential space in many abodes, but these need to be orderly, functional and streamlined spaces. Purpose made office furniture is not the most interesting, so home decorators can use their flair in choosing out of the ordinary items which can work quite well, such as an old door for a desk. It’s imperative to locate the office away from the main living areas of the home so there won’t be too many distractions and always make the most of natural light.

Juliet stresses the importance of setting a budget when planning any renovations, as overspending is a huge issue. Keep track of expenses by using a computerised spreadsheet and add a contingency fund of at least 15% for any unforeseen expenses.

Love Style will provide the reader with the confidence to change their environment and take on the challenge of updating their home, turning it into a sanctuary where they will want to spend their leisure hours surrounded by all the things they love.

Sandra Tiltman


AQUA MEKONG

October 17, 2015

 

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In just eight years, Aqua Expeditions has become a recognised leader in luxury small ship cruising on the world’s greatest rivers.

The architect designed, custom built 12 suite Aqua Amazon and 16 suite Aria Amazon cruise ships have brought luxury cruising to the Amazon River in Peru, offering travellers nature based, professionally guided adventures combined with sophisticated 5 star boutique hotel accommodation and gourmet cuisine.

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In October 2014, building on the growing interest among travellers in small ship cruising, Aqua Expeditions launched the 20 suite Aqua Mekong on the historic Mekong River between Cambodia and Vietnam. To celebrate the first anniversary of Aqua Mekong, Aqua Expeditions have unveiled some exciting new adventures for guests of Aqua Mekong’s cruises along the Mekong River.

The leader in luxury small ship cruising, Aqua Expeditions is continually researching new opportunities for guests travelling aboard the luxurious boutique Aqua Mekong cruiser to experience fresh and novel local adventures, cultural experiences and outdoor activities which showcase the richness of Southeast Asia.

The sleek and contemporary Aqua Mekong is the only vessel on the Mekong River to operate private tenders, with a fleet of four aluminium launch boats and bikes taking guests to fascinating local settings not accessible to other cruise companies. All excursions are limited to ten guests per guide.

The adventures transport guests by boat, foot and bike, past pastoral Khmer scenes of sugar palm fronds, emerald rice fields, floating markets and families travelling by ox cart while they enjoy meet and greet encounters with local villagers, artisans and Buddhist monks.

To bring Aqua Mekong passengers deeper than ever into this tropical landscape that has long captivated the imagination of foreign explorers, one can head out on invigorating new excursions by bicycle, tuk tuks or kayak. A unique way to observe the exotic rituals of daily life along the mighty Mekong is on two wheels, stopping to photograph catfish sellers, the planting of rice paddies or local children playing with the family’s domesticated water buffalo.

Guests can hop on the bikes to explore the picturesque riverbanks of the Mekong River and stay fit cycling the flat paved and dirt trails while discovering, at their leisure, local village life.

Aqua Mekong passengers have the option of 8 to 15 kilometre biking routes to say hello to a crimson robed monk, photograph stilted Khmer houses and ornately embellished pagodas or, perhaps, enjoy an invitation from a new friend to dine in their nearby home. These all-terrain touring bikes are available for both adults and children.

Why not take advantage of eight double-kayaks throughout various locations in Cambodia. For example, kayaking in Oknha Tey, guests can paddle to see local silk weavers at work, or kayak the Moat Khla region by Tonle Sap Lake or in the waterways in the Kampong Chnnang Province.

Whether it is on two wheels, in a boat, kayak or on foot, Aqua Expeditions treats all guests with active ways to explore and discover life along the mighty Mekong.

Aqua Mekong cruises offer a choice of 3 night Discovery Cruises, 4 night Explorer Cruises or 7night Expedition Cruises, inclusive of all on-board meals and scheduled shore activities.

Sandra Tiltman


THE GOLDEN AGE OF MAGIC

October 17, 2015

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Audiences will be transported back to 1903 to experience the glory days of magic as they discover first hand the spectacles that transformed stage entertainment over 100 years ago, when “The Illusionists 1903” performs at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall for a strictly limited season from 19 to 29 December 2015.

Featuring brand new, world class Illusionists handpicked from across the globe, this new show takes the audience back to the time of Houdini and the Magic Circle, the golden age of magic, when conjurers were superstars.

Magical arts drawn from a treasure trove of long forgotten mysteries will be unveiled in exquisite, turn of the century grandeur at this larger than life production from the acclaimed creative team behind international hits The Illusionists and The Illusionists 2.0.

Showcasing some of the greatest and most dangerous illusions ever built, “The Illusionists 1903” will be one for the adrenaline lovers. Some of the jaw-dropping tricks to be featured will include a deadly bullet catch, amazing levitation and unbelievable mind reading. Audiences will watch in awe as the all star cast attempt to get one-up on each other, performing some of the most sophisticated tricks in the book and will also be amazed by the variety of interesting characters.

The Conjuress, mistress of the mystical, will highlight all that was beautiful and breathtaking during the Golden Age of Magic. Her mesmerising and peaceful presence will provide the perfect counterbalance to the more boisterous characters of the age.

The Eccentric is rooted in history as a part of the famed vaudevillian variety shows of the early 20th century, combining physical comedy with virtuosic skill and mastery, showcasing world class juggling and sleight of hand in an act that keeps audiences laughing and applauding all at once.

The “voice” of 1903, The Showman lives for the accolades of the crowd. Performing classic showstoppers such as the infamous and deadly bullet catch, his charisma and panache will charm the audience, embodying what gave golden age magicians their meteoric rise to fame and popularity.

The Escapologist will recreate the most iconic stunt in the history of magic, performing Houdini’s death-defying escape from the “Water Torture Cell”. Bound, shackled and submerged in water, audiences will witness the same near death experience that enthralled patrons wherever the Great Houdini performed.

The Immortal is the ultimate connoisseur of golden age magic, specialising in illusions that have stood the test of time. His montage of turn of the century grandeur includes the greatest levitation act in the world.

The old saying “There’s a sucker born every minute” may have been coined by P.T. Barnum, but “The Charlatan” has made it his mantra. Watch, but don’t be fooled by his simple, folksy demeanor, or you are likely to miss his tricky ways.

Sandra Tiltman


ADVENTURE TRAVEL EXPO

October 12, 2015

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If you love adventure travel and want to find out the latest on offer, the Adventure Travel Expo is the place to be at Sydney Town Hall from 12pm-6pm on Saturday 7 November and 12pm-5pm on Sunday 8 November. Operators from around the world will tempt visitors with some heart pumping adventure holidays.

From skiing the last degree in the South Pole to tracking a snow leopard in Ladakh to trekking up a live volcano, the Adventure Travel Expo opens its doors to the globe’s top adrenaline trips.

Adventure tourism is continually on the rise. “More and more Australians of all ages are seeking challenge and exhilaration on their holidays. Age does not separate them in terms of challenges” said Tim Lewis, Director of The Adventure Travel Expo.

Trek a live volcano. Part of the famous “ring of fire”, the mighty Rinjani mountain of Gunung Rinjani is a massive volcano that towers over the island of Lombok. A climb to the top is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have and at 3,726 meters tall, Gunung Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia. Widely regarded as one of the best views in the country, the climb to the top may not be easy, but it’s worth it. Around the slopes of Rinjani there are lush forests sprinkled with waterfalls and surrounded by stunning scenery.

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Ski the last degree. One of the ultimate adventures has to be Antarctica’s Last Degree expedition. This incredible journey involves skiing the final ten days of the trek to the South Pole, using sleds to haul provisions. Fly over the vast white interior of the continent to reach the starting point at 89º South. Each day you will work your way through the big white expanse of the polar plateau towards the southernmost point on earth.

New Zealand – a mountain biker’s paradise. Sixteen days of mountain biking from Auckland to Queenstown lets you take in the lush forests and purpose built trails of the North Island, then the high country and scenic tracks in the South Island. Grab an extra dose of awesome by including some add-on options such as Heli-Biking, MTB Skills Clinics, bungy and skydiving.

Snow Leopard Tracking – 20 January to 4 February 2016. This epic 16 day adventure takes you to Hemis National Park, Ladakh, India’s best protected area for snow leopards. With expert trackers on hand to trace the cats’ scents, trails and markings, this journey will keep the pulse racing as you follow every sign of their movements whilst exploring some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. This snow leopard trek offers the chance to track these “ghosts of the mountains” and their prey through the snow, with the ability to witness these sadly diminishing but stunning creatures in their natural environment.

Surf the ultimate wave – Cloudbreak Fiji. Just three miles south of Namotu Island, Cloudbreak is a world class left reef pass that’s regularly voted one of the ten best and most challenging waves in the world. Like many tropical reef-pass breaks, Cloudbreak tends to get faster, shallower and more critical as it goes. Routinely ranking among the ten most challenging waves in the world, this renowned Fiji surf spot boasts fast, barrelling lefts over a shallow reef. Even if you’re not up to surfing it, it’s equally thrilling to watch from the boat and see others attempt it.

Sandra Tiltman


MISS UNIVERSE AUSTRALIA WINNING OUTFIT

October 6, 2015
Monica Radulovic with winning designer Timothy Cubbo

Monica Radulovic with winning designer Timothy Cubbo

Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic, should be a standout when she appears on stage at the international Miss Universe Pageant, to be held overseas later this year, in the dress Australians voted the winner of the Elucent Skincare National Costume competition.

Designed by Timothy Cubbo, the Dame Edna Everage inspired blue sequined dress, with opera house sails on the shoulders and complete with a pair of spectacular iconic glasses, should wow the international judges in the “national dress” segment of the international competition.

To keep the authentic look, Monika will even wear a traditional wisteria hued wig to stay in character.

Australians can feel truly proud when they see Monika in this “very Australian” outfit.

Sandra Tiltman

Photos: John Pond

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BETTER HOMES & GARDENS LIVE TO SYDNEY SHOWGROUND

October 5, 2015

DSC07546Get ready to experience Australia’s favourite magazine and TV show in a whole new way, when Better Homes and Gardens Live returns to Sydney.

For three days from 13-15 November 2015 at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, this year’s Better Homes and Gardens Live will have everything from cooking and craft, to gardening and building gadgets on offer – all you could ever dream of under one roof.

Showcasing the talent and content from the TV show and magazine, this event will provide the perfect mix of inspiration, education, fun, surprises, entertainment and be an interactive experience for every generation to enjoy.

Watch Fast Ed, Karen Martini and Ellie Vernon cook up a storm on the Food Stage, then visit the Decorating & Craft Stage to get some styling secrets from Tara Dennis, Demi Harman, Julia Matthews and Dora Papas.

Jason Hodges on the Gardening Stage will answer your landscaping and gardening questions, while Roger Fox will help kids nurture their own seedlings in the KidZone. Carpenter Adam Dovile will be presenting at the DIY & Building Stage to share easy and quick fixes for around the home.

For all the pet lovers, Dr. Harry will be sharing his experience with our furry friends at the Pets Stage.

Among the exciting new features this year are the intimate masterclasses, which will give participants the chance to learn from and work with the experts. The small class sizes will ensure a personal approach with the celebrity teachers. Everything needed will be provided so you can walk away with your very own DIY creation.

DSC07575Another new feature is The Better You, which will showcase the latest beauty trends available. Pamper and revitalise your body and soul with everything health and wellness related. Expert advice will also be on offer on how to manage finances, boost savings and even plan that dream holiday, virtually everything needed to better your life.

Meet and greet your favourite Better Homes and Gardens celebrities in the Fan Zone where you will have the opportunity for an autograph and photo.

Whether you’re a new homeowner looking for DIY renovating tips, a parent needing guidance on the best pet to buy, a keen shopper looking for a unique purchase or a large family trying to find ideas for saving space around the house, this event is the perfect chance to get expert advice and have some major fun while doing it. With plenty of child friendly activities at every turn, there is a section and stage for everyone.

Sandra Tiltman 

Photos: John Pond