Surprise Tea

During the show Extended Play Stories – part of Fringeworld – I heard tell of something new.  Something delightful.  Something I immediately resolved to do.

I love a cup of tea and drink at least 2-3 cups a day.  I always have English Breakfast.  Twinings. Which I buy only when on special, in large quantities.  No milk.  No sugar.

English Breakfast Tea

So when the storyteller started telling us about Surprise Tea I was immediately intrigued.

Surprise Tea is when you’re asked “Do you want a cuppa?”  And you say “yes”.  And then they say “What kind?” You say “Surprise Tea”.

Sometimes people will say “How about English Breakfast?” and then you say… “No… it’s not a surprise anymore.” And you might pout a little.

Sometimes people get completely freaked out.  What will their choice say about what they think about you?  Will they reveal how little they know about you?  Or how much?

How delicious!

And then of course you can’t complain of their choice because of course, you asked to be surprised.

As Shona was telling her story I started to wonder how that would work at my place.  I really only have the one type of tea.

It won’t be a surprise to anyone to get English Breakfast.

So today I went out and bought some more teas.

tea collection

So go on.  I dare you.  I double dare you.

Ask me for Surprise Tea.

I’m ready.

Cigars and Stories

Where have I been?

Well its been busy and I have been a poor correspondent.

So this post is a catch up on stuff… and I won’t get caught up in trying to put things in order… you’ll just have to roll with me here.

OMG so good

It’s been a week since I caught up with my Brisbane colleagues and went out for an amazing meal at Cutler and Co in Melbourne.

The food was amazing… those little ‘cigars’ were filled with foie gras, which I know is not particularly good for the goose, but tastes amazing.

The cigars were one of the ‘surprise’ courses.

The wine was even better thanks to the superior judgement of the two in charge of the wine menu and I was quite glad that I didn’t see the prices so that I could enjoy the wine without the taint of “OMFG How much???!!”  You know how it is.

It felt good to be in the Queensland gang and I am still chuffed I was included.

What a sexy cycling get up

Okay this was a couple of weeks ago when Groover joined me in Melbs for a dirty weekend.

We went to Lygon St to catch up with The Cuteness (see below somewhere) and then picked up bikes at the share bike station, bought a couple of helmets at the local 711 for $5 each and cycled our way through the CBD back to the hotel.  Great fun and good value.

The helmets are good quality and we squeezed them into our hand luggage for use at home.

Not that we have bikes but you never know when they might come in handy.

The cuteness

Enough said.

This is my niece.  She is very gorgeous.

Foggy Melbourne

I hadn’t seen foggy Melbourne before.

At Pony Fish Island

We went to this little bar which is on an island in the middle of the Yarra.  Very groovy.  They even serve mulled wine there sometimes.

Brisbane sunshine

This is the week before in Brisbane.

The view from the training rooms at the office.

Great view huh?

In full flight

A week after the bike riding back in Perth, we go out with some friends to see Ira Glass and This American Life in the cinema.  If you missed it, you can hear what we saw here at This American Life.

It was a great show.

It underlined to me a couple of things… one:  how distracting the visual can be!  David Sedaris dressed up as a clown for his story and I don’t remember the story AT ALL.

Two:  How telling stories without notes is SO MUCH BETTER than watching someone read.

I am going to aim for NO NOTES in future.

It is one of the very impressive things I’ve always noticed about Colin Barnett btw.  He must have to give hundreds of speeches and I’ve never seen him with notes.

And for those freaking out that I’ve mentioned a person from a political party – I’m sure it is not because of the party he represents.  He’s just a good public speaker.

After the film we trooped around the corner to a little lane way bar called Ezra Pound.

It’s a tiny bar full of mismatched furniture, with a limited wine and even more limited food menu but it’s cute and groovy and a little bit hip.

I felt very much in-the-know taking my friends there…

We told stories, drank wine and beer and ate some pretty sexy olives.

My new office

When I got back to Perth I had to find somewhere to “live” at work.

I’ve been seconded to another position for a couple of months.

So I now have an office.

Very exciting and a bit lonely too if I’m honest.

Apart from all that.  Not much storm damage and all family well.

My new outdoor office

A water view and decking beneath my feet

You find me this afternoon, dear reader, writing from my new outdoor office.

I’m mid holiday, we’ve finished the pergola and the decking.

It’s 35 degrees and hot so I’m in my wet bikini (imagine me slim please) with a large glass of icy water which I hope will be replaced by a St Clair Savignon Blanc within the hour.

I am a third of the way through my reading list for this year’s writers’ festival.

I’m chairing the bloggers’ forum and for once feel a tiny bit qualified to be amongst the literati.

Of course all the bloggers on my panel have also written books.  Show offs.

Apart from appearing as an extra in my very own version of The Renovators, this week I’ve been going along to the “advanced” storytelling course led by Brian Finkelstein from The Moth.

It’s the advanced course because I did another course this time last year with Margot Leitman, not that I consider myself advanced at all.

I was a bit nervous this year.

Last year, well I was a n00b wasn’t I so it didn’t really matter if I was rubbish… but now… I’m “advanced”.

There are expectations.

And everyone else is so good, including my partner in crime when it comes to storytelling – Feline.

Still, four more lessons to go before we begin the show at The Blue Room.  There’s hope.

In fact I’m hoping to get inspired by the fabulous Ira Glass who is in town tonight.  I bought my tickets MONTHS ago and they’ve been pinned to my noticeboard winking at me ever since.

Ira is the host of This American Life, my favourite podcast, in fact I’m listening to it as I type.

He is another fabulous storyteller.

I wonder if I’ll get to meet him?

Should I take my radio to get him to sign it?  My ipod?

A sad little groupie, that’s what I am.

Still it could be worse.

I could be a fan of Justin Beiber. (is that how you spell his name?)


My first time in Bali, told live without notes

So The Bird was a revelation.

What a great venue.

Small, intimate – yet with quite a lot of seating.

Cute bar.

Great acoustics.

(a little warm – but hey it’s winter soon… please tell me winter is happening this year)

It was the first night of Barefaced since the Blue Room season ended and we were all pretty hyped up.

Would anyone come?

What would the venue be like?

Would our stories be any good?

Can I remember my story??

No notes remember.

And how would the “out of the hat” idea work?

Well it was a great success IMHO.

First, the venue was packed, and thanks to those of you who came along to support me, and the other story tellers of course.

The venue was great.

Our stories were good – and I remembered (most of) mine.

And the out of the hat idea where two wildcard storytellers were drawn out on the night to tell their stories worked too.

Highlights – Shirley’s reaction when she wins the blue ribbon, Andrea’s Chooky Fowler (OMG hilarious!), Alison telling how she wagged school and was sent to hospital was classic and George’s trekking tale brought back some memories – I related!

The next session is last Tuesday of April – which is the day after Easter – and the theme is Heroes and Villains.

If you want to have a go – go to the website – and come along to our workshopping sessions – the more the merrier!

You can hear my first story here.

Baring all at The Bird

Don’t get too excited – the clothes are staying on.

Artwork by Matt Cipov

What am I saying?

Get excited!

This is stage two of the story-telling project I’m involved in.

You remember part 1 don’t you?

Barefaced Stories.

Part 1 was me doing the course and then telling my nude beach story at the Blue Room in February.

There is a lot more detail in the story that was told on the night and you can listen to that below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Did you have a listen?

Well that gives you a good idea of what we are doing – true stories told in front of an audience without any notes.

Tonight I’m telling a story about my first time in Bali.

It’s a gentler story.

Not quite as racy but I hope will be entertaining.

After my first experience I’ve been dying to have another go.

It was so exhilarating!

And we’re opening the floor up so if you think you might want to have a go, come along to our fortnightly Sunday practice sessions.

Or just come along tonight and enjoy the party.

It’s all happening at The Bird, a tiny little pub on William St, Northbridge, just opposite the new State Theatre Centre.

And come up and say hi!

Here’s the official blurb:

Perth’s newest underground storytelling night.

Barefaced Stories recently featured as part of The Blue Room Theatre’s Summer Nights  and is moving to The Bird in Northbridge.

This exciting new regular storytelling series features trained solo raconteurs, from comedians to prowrestlers, who will take the stage with nothing but their true life tales – some humourous, some sad, and some downright perverse.

Join Barefaced for an entertaining night of intimatedisclosures and heartfelt anecdotes.

“Storytelling has exploded into a thriving genre all itsown.” – New York Times

Last Tuesday in March, the 29th.

Show starts at 8pm

Tickets: $10 at the door.

The Bird, 181 William St, Northbridge

Barefaced Stories website

Barefaced Stories on Facebook

Barefaced group on Facebook

Finding Nigel

Alison with her newly discovered vagina

So we found the sculpture (pictured above) and now Narelle wants to find Nigel.

Narelle being Alison, or at least Alison when she was 20, and fresh born into the city.

The back story.

The search.

Anyhoo the thing is that Alison is in Sydney this week – and so is the artist that sculpted her veejayjay back in the day and she wants to find him.

She has an mp3 of the story she told at our storytelling sessions and a photograph of… well… herself to give him.

(get your mind out of the gutter – its a photo of the sculpture)

It’s just for old times sake (she is in a relationship at the moment) so she isn’t stalking him or anything.



So if you know where the artist is – please let us know!

We have a twitter search going on – have a look on

Oh and his name isn’t Nigel.

A story from my first trip to Bali

Cocktails at the swim up bar - deluxe

Ah back in the day when I thought flouro pink was an acceptable colour to wear on your head (in the early 1990s) Groover and I went to Bali.

White water rafting

We went white water rafting in Ubud and banana boating off Nusa Dua.

Monkey forest

We went to the Holy Monkey Forest and suffered Bali Belly – at the same time.

Yes that was a fun trip.

We bought fringed leather jackets that we never wore.

We bargained for copy watches that we didn’t want to see who was the better haggler (I was).

Groover dived into the swimming pool, banged his head and had a huge egg on his head for days.

It was my first ever overseas holiday with a boy.

Alison’s vagina

I was witness to a very special moment this weekend at a barbecue celebrating our storytelling success at the Blue Room… watch out for Barefaced Stories at a pub near you soon!

Alison with her newly discovered vagina

The backstory:

A few weeks ago, Ali and I signed up for a storytelling course… you remember that nude beach story… that course…

Anyway during that course Alison told this fabulous story about how as a 19 year old girl fresh from the country she met an artist (read: picked up an artist from a bustop) and how he was keen to sculpt her vagina.

The story is fabulous and when the podcast is out I will share it here.

So I won’t go into details… but after she told that story, two other participants decided they HAD to find the sculpture.

I had the same idea and I was going to use social media to find it but they were far more practical.

The guy who found it – lets call him Sean – just went round to the house and asked the guy living there if it was still around. The guy said he’d look and three days later Sean drove past and saw it on the verge ready for him to pick up.

Alison had no idea.

And no one told her.

For hours we watched and waited for her to notice the small “half-a-carton” sized piece of limestone on the grass.

When the moment came, her reaction was priceless.

Witness for yourself.

Nudie Rudie

Generic beach shot because taking out a camera at the nude beach is probably not the done thing

I am doing a storytelling course (Barefaced Stories) at The Blue Room Theatre with Margot Leitman (check out one of her stories on The Moth).

Eight sessions and at the end we will have a polished story.

Each session we have homework.

The first assignment – “do something outside your comfort zone”.

This required some deep thought.

Then I remembered the time Groover and I  – in our 20s when we had hot (ish) bods – stripped off and drove naked down West Coast Highway – at least until the adreniline wore off and we thought about all the what ifs… what if we broke down? What if we get pulled over by a cop? And we quickly scuttled back home.

So I thought okay, let’s up the ante and go for a swim at Perth’s favourite nude beach – luckily not far away – Swanborne – public nudity.

First question… what does one wear to Swanborne because clearly you can’t rock up nude – does one wear bathers?

I decided to wear my bikini, as it seemed appropriate, and with towel and sunblock in hand casually strolled down the beach.

OMG!  There are naked people there!!

First thing I saw from a distance was the silhouette of a man and let me tell you he was hung.

Second question… where do I sit?

I don’t want to sit too close to anyone else but I do want to get the Swanborne experience so I don’t want to sit completely on my own and I don’t want to sit up by the dunes as I figure the creepy guys hang out there perving, so I plonk my stuff down in the middle and undress.

Well that feels a bit weird and as I slide my bikini bottoms off I’m thinking some trimming might have been in order but it’s too late now.

Lying on the beach I’m conscious of what everyone is doing.

People are moving between groups chatting, there’s a very tanned girl to my right doing a job interview on her iPhone, and there are people – clothed people – walking by all the time.

But I can’t lie on the beach forever – for one thing I can’t stay out in the sun too long and for another – well a swim is part of the challenge.

So choosing my moment I stand up and walk into the surf.

The water is cool, the surf a bit dumpy but this is no time to get into the water gingerly.

Before long I am enjoying my swim and getting chatted up by a tanned fellow in his mid forties who turns out to be the pilot of our flight home last Sunday – I kid you not.

Anyway I go back to my towel and air dry.

I notice that I’m possibly one of the younger women on the beach – hard to tell as all the women have VERY dark tans – and also, I’m not that uncomfortable.

And I notice the men – it’s hard not to.

One guy I swear has more metalwork “down there” than the Bunnings tool section.

Another guy has tats all over his body – except “down there” and frankly who can blame him.

There are men of all sizes – and that’s when I realise that actually there are way more men than women.

Why did that surprise me?

I get dressed and get up to go and as I’m leaving the pilot starts chatting to me.

Now that feels a bit weird… chatting to a completely naked man while fully dressed on the beach.

Anyway we chat for a bit and I’m thinking well this will make a great addition to my story when…

Groover walks by!

OMG and I’m chatting to a naked man!

Anyway it takes me a while to catch up with the groovy one because by the time I noticed him he was about 20 metres away and the wind is whipping away my voice and hey, I’m not that fit so running in sand isn’t very fast but eventually I catch up with him and we walk back  and I tell him about my experience and he remembers the pilot’s name and I suggest that he might like to go in for a quick dip.

He (surprisingly) agrees and we have a little swim and then start to get dressed.

Do you want to meet the pilot I ask?

The pilot is now under his umbrella – still nuded up of course – but Groover says no.

I guess meeting a naked man on the beach is outside his comfort zone.

So this is the story I tell at my storytelling class and it goes down quite well.

The next day I decide to go back to the beach – because it was fun, there was quite a nice community feel to it and I was still on a high from the day before but it’s different.

For one thing it is much windier so there are fewer people and there are only two other women.

That friendly community atmosphere has blown away with the wind and what is left feels somewhat seedy.

The pilot is there and comes over to chat but it all feels a bit wrong.

I go home after about 20 minutes and shower.

If I go back – I won’t go alone.

Besides – I had my next assignment to do – ” to stray from my routine”.

Ah but that is another story.