Tom Curtain Comes to Scone, NSW

Tom Curtain and his band play real Country Music

We were lucky enough to be in Scone, NSW when Tom Curtain's Outback Experience arrived to entertain us. Although he is a renowned country singer, having recently won Australian Independent Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Single of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year at the Southern Stars Australian Independent Country Music Awards in Tamworth, Tom Curtain also entertains his audiences with an outback show using his working dogs and horses.

Working dogs demonstrate their skills

The show began with Tom demonstrating his work with dogs, where they had to hop on and off barrels to his command. He then showed us how he would get them to run in different directions, and stop and start just using his voice. We were so impressed with the control he had over them.

Amazing to see! Dogs sitting on horses.

Even more amazing to see them staying on while the horses walk around the arena. 

This was followed by Tom riding his horse while playing his guitar

The horse went faster and faster until it was galloping, while Tom continued to play.

He then stopped the horse, using only his legs, and stood up on the horse to play us a tune.

The second half of the show was all about Tom's music. Not only is he a great country singer, but writes a lot of his own music.

One of the songs he was inspired to write, was "Speak Up". He wrote this following the suicide of Amy "Dolly" Everett, who took her young life at just 14 years of age after being relentlessly bullied. 100% of all proceeds and royalties from the song go to 'Dolly's Dream', which was developed by family and friends to help raise awareness about bullying and get more programmes into schools.

At the show, Tom Curtain called up any children from the audience, 
who would like to join him in singing the chorus to "Speak Up".

The chorus is as follows:

Speak up, even if your voice shakes
Stand up, even if your world breaks
You gotta Speak up, even if your voice shakes
You gotta stand up, even if your voice shakes
Be there for one another, we’re all in this together
You gotta Speak up, even if your voice shakes

Tom Curtain is a great showman, and we were so grateful to have the opportunity to watch his show.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Swiss Christmas Market, Abu Dhabi 2018

I can't believe it is Swiss Christmas Market time in Abu Dhabi already! I can't think where this year has gone. It seems to have passed by in a flash.

I accompanied a group of the Expat Ladies, Abu Dhabi, to the Beach Rotana hotel where we walked around the market and then had a Christmas High Tea together.

The Swiss Christmas Market is where locals and expats can share sell their handicrafts, and this year I spotted some really interesting ones.

These products are made entirely from recycled material. Their message is: "When advertising posters are at the end of their campaign and destined to be destroyed, Etuix recycles them, transforming them into purses, bags, backpacks, wallets, shoes and belts." Their motto is "Don't spend to destroy...Invest to create." You can find out more from etuix.com.

Here is their General Manager, Matteo Boffa, showing a backpack made from a PVC advertising poster.

This lovely lady in the next door booth was selling her own handmade products.

I then came across Gunjan Shrivastrava selling her amazing art. 

Her wonderful pictures are made by rolling strips of cloured paper, and glueing them to her base. It must take hours of dedication to achieve these beautiful works of art.

I just loved this couple selling camel milk soap. 

These two turned out to be South Africans enjoying their time here in Abu Dhabi.

Apparently, camel milk is especially high in valuable Alpha-Hydroxy acids, which plump the skin and help to smooth fine lines. It is also effective at repairing damaged tissue. I just had to buy some. If you want to know more, visit the camelsoapfactory.com.

After having experienced the wonderful offerings of the Swiss Christmas Market, It was time for our high tea.

Here is the group of Expat Ladies, who I am delighted to call friends...

...and here is one of the tiered trays of Christmas goodies.

Although there were only eight of us, we had 4 of these, and, as there was so much on offer, some managed to take home a doggie bag. I hope I get to experience next year's Swiss Christmas Market. They are always such fun.

And no Swiss anything wouldn't be complete without Swiss chocolate.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Italian Cooking Class, Grand Hyatt, Abu Dhabi

Our master chef, Marco Pistillo, on the right, with his assistant, Andre,
and the restaurant manager, Pedro, on the left.

I was fortunate to attend another cooking class, organized by the Expat Women’s group in Abu Dhabi. This time it was an Italian cooking class, in the Grand Hyatt’s Verso restaurant, where we learned to make Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmigiana).

Marco Pistillo, the Italian chef, initially gave us an overview of the history of the dish, the one his mother used to make. Here is the information he gave us:-

“Although eggplant parmesan is one of the widespread recipes in southern Italy, it is uncertain where the recipe actually comes from. Some believe it is Sicilian, while others claim that it comes from Naples or Parma. There are even contradicting theories on the origins of the name of the dish. People make the obvious connection with the city of Parma, or at least with Parmigiano Reggiano, but there is also a theory that the name comes from the Sicilian term parmiciana, which refers to the wooden blinds that are layered when closed – just like the layers of eggplant in the dish.

What is certain, however, is that the first recipe for eggplant parmesean was written by Vincenzo Corrado, the personal cook to various noble Neapolitan families between the 18th and 19th centuries and also the author of "Ïl Cuoco Galante”.

In his recipe, Corrado suggests layering the eggplant, however, the first recipe that is most similar to how the dish is made today was written by Ippolito Cavalcanti in his book, “Cucina Teorica-Pratica", in which he suggested alternating the layers of eggplant with cheese and tomato.”

Marco showed us how thick to slice the eggplant…

…and how it would look deep-fried

He followed this with demonstrating the layering of the eggplant, parmesan cheese and tomato sauce, to make the completed dish.

Our group watching the demonstration

Here is Marco Pistillo’s recipe (quantity depends on the size of the dish, but I have given his measures).

Passata (I give the quantities Marco uses)
2.5 kilos Tinned tomatoes
250g Sliced Onion
25g Chopped Garlic
100g Olive Oil
30g Salt
15g Sugar
Parmesan Cheese

1 Slice the eggplant into 1cm wide slices.
2 Sprinkle each side lightly with salt and leave to stand over a sink for about 30 minutes.
3 Rinse well and pat dry on paper towel.
4 While the eggplant is draining, prepare the passata. Drain the liquid from the tinned tomatoes and mash the tomatoes. Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer slowly for 1 hour while stirring, until the sauce has reduced slightly.
5 Spoon a small amount of the passata into the bottom of a deep baking dish.
6 Place a layer of eggplant over the top, then layer with sauce, cheese, eggplant and continue until all ingredients have been used.
7 Top with cheese.
8 Bake at 180C for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

After watching Marco prepare his delicious -looking dish, we had lunch. Here are the dishes we were served:

Tomatoes with Cheese


Cheese and Walnut Salad.

Beef Slices with Rocket

Delicious Pizza

Eggplant Parmigiana – unfortunately, I was too busy eating and didn’t remember
to take the photo until it was too late.

We ended the meal with our choice of ice-cream

We had a fun day watching Marco prepare his dish, and the following lunch was so delicious, I, for one,  didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk, Abu Dhabi

Traditional fishing boats in Abu Dhabi, in the early morning light

Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk has been running for 11 years. It is held on the first Saturday of October each year when photographers around the world meet up to socialise and take photos of their surroundings. It really is a worldwide phenomenon, as the walks happen annually in nearly 1,000 cities around the world. The walk also supports the Springs of Hope Kenya Orphanage, an organisation that feeds, houses, educates and empowers young orphans, so they can grow up to not just survive, but to succeed.

This year I was lucky enough to join two walks in Abu Dhabi, one beginning at 5:30 am, and the other at 4:30 pm. For both walks, my leader was Marvin Nuto (philosopher, fine artist, professional photographer, educator, and public speaker).

The first walk was around the Al Meena Fish Market. Located on Port Zayed, an important international port for trade. Al Meena Fish Market is one of the few remaining historical areas of Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, the day was hot, humid, and very foggy, but we persevered.

Marvin photographing one of the iconic fish restaurants near the fish market

We walked down the harbourside, where we saw fishermen constructing traditional fishing nets.

These nets are towed behind the fishing boats to trap the fish

We left the quayside and entered the fish market. As we entered through a small door, I was amazed at the size of the place, and how busy it was. Workers were fully engaged in wheeling in and loading the fish onto slabs, ready for sale.

The fish looked and smelled really fresh

This man was delighted to show us the size of this Kingfish

The evening walk started on Manarat Al Saadiyat. This is a purpose-built art and culture centre with many galleries housing collections from both international and local artists. They also hold a number of different exhibits and concerts throughout the year.

There was a really interesting photography exhibition, with wonderful
images by local photographers

The entrance to Manarat Al Saadiyat.

From there we went to the Louvre, Abu Dhabi, in the hopes of capturing some interesting sunset shots. Unfortunately, because of the high temperatures and humidity, we weren’t as successful as we hoped, but we did get some interesting shots.

I like this one of the restaurant in the evening light. What do you think?

Lights gradually coming on inside the museum, as daylight fades

Scot Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk is a great way to explore a city and take home great memories. Thank you Scot Kelby, and my leader on these walks, Marvin Nuto.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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