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dscn2108Often when you live in your own town you avoid all the typical tourist areas.  However  while scoping out new cafes in the CBD I decided to experience Townsville a small city located in North Queensland Australia as tourist would see the city and came across this minimal designed cafe called Stone’s Throw attached to Rambutan a 5 star backpackers.

The cafe aesthetically is what you would expect in a tropical climate with an open design bar and seating area with relaxed friendly staff.  Their tagline which is on the blackboard above the bar reads: Keep Calm and Drink Coffee which shows they have a little bit of humour encouraging customers to embrace the North QLD lifestyle.  While it was too hot in the middle of the day for me to try out their coffee I did try out their crispy chicken burger with real succulent chicken, fries and aioli by head chef Nate Barbaric. The burger was really good and the whole meal was just the right portion size.

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The Positives

* Friendly fast service, good vibe and cafe music

* Delicious Food that is presented well

* Competitively  priced cafe to cater to all budgets

* Inviting minimal designed cafe

Things that could be improved

* I am not convinced the fully open designed doorway works in the middle of summer especially when flies are present it could be a challenge eating your meal if seated near to the entry.

* The open entry means the strength of any air-conditioning is reduced which can be a deciding factor on a hot day whether you go here or not.

Apart from these few minor things I would rate it at a 4 out of 5 and would recommend trying it out sometime if you can manage to get a table that seem to get snapped up very quickly

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Tips on getting here

Locals if you hate paying for parking in the CBD mid week and don’t mind walking free parking can be found near the Strand a short  10 minute walk away.

Visitors if you are staying in the CBD the cafe is located on the Flinders Street night life precinct a  short walk from many of the hotels.

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A bright red retro turntable that is fully manual, belt driven, with counter balance weights, a stylus needle that needs to be maintained  and everything minimal in design. If that isn’t scary enough the manual turntable type if left unattended could potentially damage your vinyl collection.  Is this really worth the effort if you like living without many material things? The short answer is YES

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In a way it is a great way of turning back time and escaping living in the hectic 21st century for a few hours a day. Especially when it comes to 60s and 70s music which was meant to be listened to on LP vinyl records.   Over the years people have ditched these large records for the cassette, compact disc, music file downloads and more recently  music streaming sites but recently there has been a revival from a much younger generation that enjoys the deeper bass/imperfect sounds and novelty experience of having an unusual hobby.

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I think this interest comes down to being able to physically hold onto a record which takes a little effort to hear the music compared to electronic music files that can be played anywhere instantly with no connection to the full album.  With a turntable setup you need to find a spot for it along with the amplifying equipment and not to forget storage space for those large records.  While from a physical point of view this would go against living a minimalist lifestyle, this is about living minimally in your mind which is a great way to disconnect from technology while sitting back and watching/listening to that spinning record.

I think the balance comes by limiting your record collection to records that you really like while keeping the technology based music for when you do not have time to sit down and only listen to music.   This month I have been listening to The Beatles – Abbey Road along with Fleetwood Mac – Rumours on vinyl and the experience is like nothing I have heard before when played with simple vintage equipment.

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Most adults would have remembered a time when a traditional circus involved a big tent outdoors, with lots of wild animals and associated smells and tramping through mud on some occasions to get to your cramped seat.   However as times change what was once acceptable last century such as keeping wild animals locked up and only brought out to be exploited for entertainment is now becoming socially unacceptable to a new generation of circus goers.

This is where Circus 1903 satisfies this new generation by taking aspects of traditional circuses back in 1903 and modernising it for 21st century audiences using modern special effects. Puppetry, lighting and illusions are a few methods used to create realistic looking animals such as the massive elephant. As a circus goes it has everything from acrobats, knife throwing, fire throwing, juggling and a tight rope along with many other acts.

While I don’t want to give away too much specifics for those that have not seen it yet, no doubt the ringmaster  does a great job in leading the circus cast and interacting with the audience especially the young children.  Whether you are a child or adult you will have a big smile on your face in just over 2 hours.

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One of the latest action Cameras on the market is the Nikon KeyMission 80 Rugged Wearable Action Camera.  This little camera is smaller than a deck of cards and claims to be very powerful yet away from the promo video featuring the adventuring wandering music and good looking athlete does it live up to expectations by a real everyday user.

If you have not seen the official promo click on this link:  Nikon Key Mission 80 Promo it runs for a short 1 minute 52 seconds.

The pictures and video you are about to see are shot in various settings in New Zealand and Australia using the KeyMission 80.

Firstly because it is a new release it was hard to source and at the time of purchase in Sydney the guy at the Camera shop only had five available. However having said that the price was reasonable at only $425 AUD so nobody was trying to take advantage of the low stock situation.  In the box it comes with a power charger, backpack strap/holder for hiking and instruction booklets.  Like most camera devices you will need to buy your own micro SD card.

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Above non KeyMission 80 photo taken of device and what you get in the box

Initial thoughts were I could not believe how tiny this device was, in real life it looks smaller than depicted in photos/videos and easy to lose if you’re not careful.  If you are not familiar with Nikon products like I was it will take time to be comfortable with the device.  All up while you can be up and running within minutes I would allow at least two weeks of experimenting with the various features for the novice Nikon user to be at ease.

One of the great things about Nikon is they have this App called SnapBridge which enables you to download pictures in real time to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.  Again if you are not familiar with these Apps it can be a frustrating experience getting it setup but when it finally works it is a great experience.

Now to the images:

Panorama Mode – Essentially you hold the camera and pan the camera 180.

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KeyMission 80 Panorama of wilderness & retreat scenery in New Zealand by Marty Sharp

Interval Mode – Choose between 30 seconds to 5 minutes interval automatic shooting which is great when you are out hiking; strap it to your pack choose the timing and nothing to think about.  Enjoy the scenery and have a look at the surprise shots later.

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KeyMission 80 interval shots hiking in New Zealand by Marty Sharp

Selfie Mode – In the promo the good looking actor/athlete makes it look easy.  Here are my average person selfies both outdoor and indoor.  I’ll let others be the judge whether the quality is good.  I have to say because the device is small it makes it easier than using your phone and no silly vain selfie sticks needed.

KeyMission 80 Selfies taken in New Zealand by Marty Sharp

Regular Still Images – At any time you can remove the camera from the strap/holder and take still images.  Here are a few demonstrating the detail both outside and inside.

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These six still images were taken at a remote retreat in New Zealand by Marty Sharp using the KeyMission 80

Action Still Mode – I strapped the camera onto my pack while cycling in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.

Image taken with KeyMission 80 hands free at speed imagery by Marty Sharp

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Above non Nikon KeyMission 80 photo taken with regular Samsung mobile phone to demonstrate how small the camera looks when worn on the person.

So far I am really impressed with the Nikon KeyMission 80 picture quality and ease of use.  This really is a great camera for someone that does not really know how to take professional pictures and wants a light weight option for when on the go.

My one disappointment is the camera does not come with a lanyard which made it impossible to hold while walking on a suspension bridge without fear of dropping it into the river below.  A minor limiting factor to consider if you are going places that are unstable you really need a secure strap if removing the camera from the holder to take shots.

My number one tip is the camera is much more powerful than you realise so view the images on high quality desktop computer screen as they look much better than on a mobile device.

Part 2 of the review will contain video using the device and final thoughts on the KeyMission 80.

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I think there comes a time when you need to take your Italian cooking skills to the next level.  When I say next level I mean thinking beyond the stereotypical pasta staple dishes as there is more to Italian cuisine than this.  This is what Silvia Colloca’s Made In Italy recipe book will give you,   the cookbook is not really what we traditionally know as a cookbook rather more like a journey of self discovery.

This great book which is more like a cooking journal with many pictures of Silvia and her Italian friends along with the mouth watering food  is like having a glimpse into the life story of Silvia Colloca as she takes you through Italian dishes unique to Central Italy and the Abruzzo region.

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So today I am going against my natural cooking instinct and trusting the directions provided by Silvia Colloca in preparing some great Italian food.   My first attempt will be Silvia’s AGNELLO allq GRIGLIA con ASPARGI.   I have partially started it and just allowing the marinade to do its magic if it all goes well I’ll plate it up and post it to instagram.  I have to say uncooked it already smells great so it is little surprise these cooking books are in high demand.  I highly recommend buying one of these wonderful  books.

Latest Update: Pictures of the end result: 

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Of Course Signora Silvia Colloca’s probably tastes and looks way better than mine but this is achievable for the average home cook.

Instagram:  marty.sharp

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