'Tours for people who don't want to do tours': an interview with Margaret River tour guide Sean Blocksidge

'Tours for people who don't want to do tours': an interview with Margaret River tour guide Sean Blocksidge

I had a lot of fun recently chatting with Margaret River tour guide Sean Blocksidge, who I interviewed for the inaugural issue of Your Margaret River Magazine. In 2010 he won Western Australian Guide of the Year, he’s been rated the #1 Thing To Do in Australia on Trip Advisor, and he once took Jeremy Clarkson on an adventure tour and lived to tell the tale, yet the journey hasn’t always been a smooth one.

Being a tour guide myself it was fascinating to get his perspective on the scene, and the story of his business, as well as  some insider tips for that even a locals will appreciate. 

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Anna's Adventures: Rock climbing in the Portuguese wilderness

Anna's Adventures: Rock climbing in the Portuguese wilderness

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine November 2015

I’m in a tough position and I can’t see a way out. My chalky fingertips are pressed hard into the rock. The knot at my waist grates against the wall, and my legs are zinging with tension. I look like a ninja mid fly-kick, splattered against the front of an unyielding cliff. It seems that every muscle in my body is flexed, straining to keep me perched in this unlikely position, and I’m burning energy fast. My right leg begins to ‘Elvis’, shake uncontrollably under the pressure and I know I have to make a move soon. I really, really don’t want to fall.

Rock climbing in the wilderness is well, exactly as tough as it looks.

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Anna's Adventures: Brewing beer on a 40°C day!

Anna's Adventures: Brewing beer on a 40°C day!

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine October 2015

It’s more than 40°C inside without a hit of a breeze, and I’m standing over a cauldron of bubbling broth, wrestling with what looks like a giant, hot tea-bag. Sweat pours off me as I press and squeeze the precious juices out of the sopping, heavy mass, labouring to get every last drop. My arms tremble with the fatigue. I need a beer.

And I’ll have to wait another eight weeks to get it.

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Anna's Adventures: Cooking authentic French cuisine

Anna's Adventures: Cooking authentic French cuisine

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine September 2015

“Turn it! Turn it!”

Oil spits out of the sizzling pan, splattering my white apron and everything in the vicinity. I stand back, wielding shiny kitchen tongs like Steve Irwin fending off a particularly aggressive snake. Amid the encouragement of my companions, I flip the excitable chicken pieces one by one.

I like to cook, but usually without an audience so I can hide the chaos, the panic, the improvising and the fact that I’ve used every single dish in the kitchen. Yet here I am, in the beautiful Parisian home of Paule Caillat, aka, a proper French cook.

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A Mini Guide to Paris: Eating, Visiting and Loving in the City of Lights

A Mini Guide to Paris: Eating, Visiting and Loving in the City of Lights

Published in Marque Magazine August 2015

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and home to some of its most iconic monuments. Crammed with historical sites, museums, fashion boutiques and fantastic restaurants, it provides endless entertainment for those that choose to visit. It can also appear overwhelming and visitors often make the mistake of trying to cram in too much. After four years in the City of Lights, I still haven’t seen everything, so take my advice, relax, breathe, and hold onto these basic tips when planning your Paris escape. 

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Rediscovering Russia, one vintage Soviet lens at a time

Rediscovering Russia, one vintage Soviet lens at a time

When Valentin Tchoukhounine returned to St Petersburg for the first time in ten years, to sort through the home of his late Grandfather, he discovered a box of dusty Soviet-era camera lenses, last used in the 1950’s and 60’s. 

Drawn to their unusual design and archaic features, he decided to adapt three of them, a Zenitar 16mm f2.8, Helios 44 f2.0, and a Helios 40 f1.5 to his own digital camera, and use them to document and reimagine the city of his childhood, which had changed so dramatically in his absence.  

The romanticism of using these vintage lenses appealed to Valentin, as did the irony of literally viewing Russia through Soviet glass, but what he quickly learned was that he was in the possession of no ordinary lenses. 

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Oh Brothers, where art thou? Exploring New Norcia, a Benedictine monastery hidden in the Western Australian outback

Oh Brothers, where art thou? Exploring New Norcia, a Benedictine monastery hidden in the Western Australian outback

Published in The Washington Post, June 18 2015

"You can find some incredible things in the outback of Western Australia, and after about two hours of driving we come upon one: a Benedictine monastery. This is New Norcia, founded more than a century and a half ago as a mission and now one of the state’s most unlikely tourist destinations."

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Anna's Adventures: A 70+ Year Old Camera + Darkroom Magic = The World's Slowest Selfie

Anna's Adventures: A 70+ Year Old Camera + Darkroom Magic = The World's Slowest Selfie

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine June 2015

Taking a picture with a persnickety 1950’s Linhof Technika camera is hard work, but when Kit, my friend and artist invited me to try out large format photography using a technique that is over one hundred years old, I couldn’t wait to get started.

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Just For Laughs: My First Attempt At Stand Up Comedy

Just For Laughs: My First Attempt At Stand Up Comedy

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine Winter Issue 2015

Within ten seconds I’ve used two of the foulest swear words in the English language.

It gets a laugh, and I get to stay on stage for a bit longer, which is a huge relief because if there is one thing more awful that realizing that you aren’t funny, it’s realizing that you aren’t funny in front of a live audience.  

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Surf's Up: In Which I Wipe Out, Drink Salt Water And Fall In Love With Surfing

Surf's Up: In Which I Wipe Out, Drink Salt Water And Fall In Love With Surfing

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine April 2015

I clear salt water out of my nose for the thousandth time, spit out a mouthful of sand and look around. My fellow beginners are in varying stages of surf: some unsteadily getting on their feet, some lying flat on their bellies, cruising in the whitewash, some wading back out into the line of breakers.

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Artistic Licence: A Luxurious Weekend In The South Of France

Artistic Licence: A Luxurious Weekend In The South Of France

Yves Saint Laurent, Brigitte Bardot, Pablo Picasso, Bernard Buffet…

Wait who? Although his name is little known today, Bernard Buffet was once one of France’s most wealthy and successful artists, critically acclaimed at home and abroad.

So what happened? Due perhaps to his fame and the resentment and jealousy of Picasso, Buffet suffered from a severe critical backlash in the 1960’s. Although he remained well-loved among the “ordinary people”, the art world firmly turned its back on him, right up until his death in 1999. Now more than 15 years later, there is proof that the world is re-discovering Buffet, and liking what it sees. 

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Mountain High, Yodel Low: One Unforgettable Week In Switzerland

Mountain High, Yodel Low: One Unforgettable Week In Switzerland

Before August of this year I’d never knowingly tasted a drop of Swiss wine, and I haven’t tasted one since. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, it’s just that Switzerland only exports 1% of its yearly production so it’s not terribly easy to come by.

That’s Switzerland in a nutshell: full of interesting treasures which it is happy to share, but which you will have to go there to enjoy. Luckily, I got a whole week to explore some of this small but remarkable country. 

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French Kiss: Popping The Cork On The Champagne Region of France

French Kiss: Popping The Cork On The Champagne Region of France

It was Rob Lowe who first introduced me to champagne, way back in the early 90’s. “Actually all champagne is French; it's named after the region. Otherwise it's sparkling white wine,” he smiled knowingly at me as the character Benjamin Kane in Wayne’s World. This guy clearly knew the good things in life, and the allure and prestige of the exotic French drink stayed with me. Since moving to France in 2011, I have certainly quaffed large quantities of the bubbly stuff, but I’ll admit that my knowledge of it has not vastly increased. I knew that it was an appellation d’origine contrôlée product, which means only sparkling white produced within a very strictly defined area could legally be called “champagne”, and that it was good for spraying on your teammates when you had won a Formula One Grand Prix, but that was about it. So you can understand my excitement when almost 20 years after my Wayne’s World initiation, I found myself whizzing on a high speed train towards Rheims, the capital of the Champagne-Ardenne region.

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The Sweet Science: Learning To Box, And To Take It On The Chin

The Sweet Science: Learning To Box, And To Take It On The Chin

Getting punched in the face is a weird feeling. Punching someone in the face is also a weird feeling, particularly when you aren’t angry or in danger. These were just two of the many things I learned when I began to box. In an era when One Punch deaths dominate news headlines and we drink ginger tea to boost our mental performance, boxing is generally seen as old fashioned, barbaric and downright smelly. This is a great shame, because as a comprehensive cardio and strength training workout, combined with discipline, strategy, and combat, it is one of the most rewarding and thrilling sports I’ve ever done.

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Derby World

Derby World

Changing derby leagues isn’t always as simple as dropping a Facebook message to your new team,  rocking up with your skates and slotting into your accustomed position on the track.  An expatriated player herself, Cat Cholera interviews two globe-trotting former Perth Roller Derby  players, Dame Edna Haemorrhage and Lorrae Evans, exploring the ins and outs of changing countries,  languages and cultures to play roller derby around the world.

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