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Saturday, 16 January 2021

'Magic Mike Live': REVIEW

'Magic Mike Live' is the tonic we all need right now.

Let's get some questions out of the way immediately, the ones I have been asked already, and perhaps some you may be wondering yourself...

- is there full frontal nudity?

No. There isn't. One lad comes pretty close... though he leaves his hat on.

- can blokes come along?

Of course! We spotted a few guys in the crowd, and they were having a brilliant time. Plus, there's some eye candy for them too...

- do the performers get you up on stage?

Well, yes and no. A few lucky people are called up... but I will leave the rest for you to find out, as half the fun are the surprises in store for you at this show

- is this a strip show?

While there is plenty of shedding of clothing, it's not a straight up nudie-rudie strip show. There is much more to it than that. Yep, a really fun storyline you'll love to see unfold.

The official Magic Mike Live Australia site says it best:

No. Magic Mike Live is a high-end production show in a state-of-the-art venue with some of the most talented dancers from around the world performing amazing choreography amidst over-the-top production values. It’s a place where women can feel what it’s like to exist in a world where their desires are heard and they are treated like goddesses…a place where they feel comfortable and proud.

- is 'Magic Mike Live' exactly like the storyline of the movie/s?

No, it loosely follows the film's story hook where the protagonist kinda finds his truth and purpose through dancing/getting his kit off, but it's more like a bawdy, fun cabaret where women are left feeling rather empowered...

- does Channing Tatum feature in the show?

No, sadly.

Says the site:

Channing is the director and creator of the show and does not appear in it, but as Channing often says, he “can’t wait until he’s in Magic Mike shape” so he can perform in the show! He also loves to surprise audience members by turning up at shows every now and then, so do keep an eye out!

- Where is Magic Mike Live held?

In Sydney, it is located at The Entertainment Quarter (aka Fox Studios).

Says the site:

Australia will recreate the mythical club in The Arcadia, the world’s largest Spiegeltent, named after the ancient Greek Utopia. The Arcadia is a beautiful two storey, fully-customized venue where every detail has been meticulously curated by Channing and the Magic Mike Live creative team especially for the women of Australia.

How do I get there?

- Fox Studios, Entertainment Quarter, park in the parking station and walk towards where the markets as usually held, and you can't miss the Spiegeltent just beside it

More info:

Guests are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes prior to the start of the performance to enjoy food and cocktails or just take in the atmosphere and details created for your experience.

Says the site:

The show will start promptly as advertised and we recommend all patrons take their seats upon arrival. Please note that beverage service will also be provided in the venue throughout the performance. 

The seating varies. We were given a front row seat (see @josiesjuicejournalist for pics) on a comfy lounge, where the people next to us where well spaced away.

Yes, you need to wear masks. No, it's not big deal, and in my case, you will be eating and drinking most of the time anyway...

You can buy drinks at the bar before the show, there is no intermission, and the show is 90 minutes long. Or order the drinks and food straight to you while you enjoy the show.

You will want to come early so you can experience the incredible Spiegeltent.

It's designed by Belgium's Rik Klessens, and INSANE! Rik's family has been constructing te travelling 'magic mirror tents' since the 1920s.

Says the site about the bar offerings...

A full bar with specialty cocktails and a selection of wine, prosecco and traditional cocktails will be available in The Arcadia lobby prior to the performance.  Patrons can also enjoy a mini-food hall and pay one low price to sample a variety of curated snacks and mini-meals prior to or following the show. Bottle service, champagne, cocktails and other beverages are also available throughout the show from our waitstaff.  We encourage patrons to come early and stay late to enjoy the unique indoor-outdoor atmosphere and delicious food and drink offerings. 

 A final word about the show.

'Magic Mike Live' is an extravaganza.

The ensemble of dancers are a professional lot.

Blake Varga, who was front and centre on the night we went only (some performers vary from night to night) has performed with Kelly Rowland and Guy Sebastian.

Another dancer, Charles Bartley, has danced in 'The Great Gatsby', the Baz Luhrmann blockbuster.

Sam Marks has toured globally with 'Tap Dogs', and aerial performer and dancer Ned Zaina has been a principal dancer with Opera Australia, and was dance head at 'Turandot'.

Max Francisco (not a guy, an incredibly talented woman) is INSANE. She was dripping wet by the end of her performance, and you'll have to watch it to know what I mean...

And Amy Ingram, take a bow.

She's the MC for the show, and makes a clever entrance which almost had us. Think next level sass and unicorns and female empowerment.

The male MC who introduces the show is so good, I wish I knew his name. Funny, clever, and has you thinking he'll run the whole show... he commands the stage for a short while, then makes way for the laydeez.

Alison Faulk is the co director and choreographer. She says: "Just watch an incredible show... forget your troubles and just laugh, sweat, dance, have fun."

Vincent Marini is the Executive Producer, and says: "Every fabric that we chose in the theatre, every piece of lighting... the idea was to make it feel it personalised for every person in the audience, and to experience this huge extravaganza on one level, but on another level feel like we are speaking specifically and uniquely to each person."

No matter who you are, what you do for a living, who you in corporate world, I guarantee you will LOVE this show.

Go see it!

On until April 2021.

Tickets and info here:


Some moments here (all photos: Peter Brew Bevan):

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Vuly Play: REVIEW

Kids never stop wanting to have fun. No matter if they're on the cusp of teenage-hood - get them on a swing and watch them spin, daydream, and just relaaax.

Now, I'm going to preach to you about the perils of excessive screen time. You know the drill, and so do I.

And as a mamma of 12 year old twins who are on devices a fair amount, I feel like a superhero when I wrangle the electronics and GET THEM OUTSIDE.

We had a hand me down swing set which had kinda had its day, kinda lifted up on the ends when used, and kinda needed an upgrade.

We are lucky Sydney folk who bought a house in the 'burbs and therefore have the space to have a swing set, a trampoline, a granny flat, a cubby house, and a pool (not bragging, super grateful, and the hubby and I bought this space pre kids).

Vuly Play is a brand I have been curious about for some time - but with a pretty full backyard with all the accoutrements, we didn't give it much thought.

When the offer came to trial a set, we jumped at it. Well, I did. Le Husband simply got the measuring tape out and thought about the logistics. I am glad he is the practical one because I'm not gonna lie - you need that skill in spades (plus a big dash of patience) when you commit to buying a Vuly swing set.

Don't worry - it's absolutely worth it in the end!

The choosing process itself is super easy - simply jump online and browse the options.

The only hard part is choosing which three attachments you'll get on your ports. Or of course go the even larger set where you get to put attachments on the outside of the frame, even one with a cubby house! Super cool and imagine how much your kids will have and the memories they’ll make.

The FANTASTIC thing is: the options for your swing set are SO easy to interchange, you may as well get several attachments you like and chop and change as you go.

Trust me, I don't like relying on anyone when it comes to doing things when the kids want to play, so the capability to interchange the attachments is very appealing to me.

The flat bed attachment was also a no brainer for me.

It was reminiscent of a flat bed swing at my son's special needs one on one sessions he'd have at Learning Links with his Occupational Therapist, where sensory needs were met by the sensation of the swing.

Delving deeper, a swing set in general - and anything with jumping, spinning, swinging, and rocking - are motions that all work to help regulate the vestibular system in our bodies.

For kids with autism, swinging can impact the brain’s ability to process sensory information, which assists in the early stages of brain development.

Swinging has the potential to strengthen specific sensory experiences for a child with autism.

Sensory movements are described as touch, motion, bodily awareness, sight, sound, and the natural pull of gravity. As kids swing, they're able to process these sensory movements which work in conjunction with therapy solutions.

Swinging movements can help kids with special needs relax, ease their anxiety, and calm their minds. These types of therapy solutions can also assist at the times kids with autism feel upset.

Swinging also can help kids with special needs combat their difficulties with balance and coordination. The simple act of enjoying swinging into their daily routine can help the development of their gross motor skills and muscles. The more swinging is practiced, the more balance and coordination can be achieved.

THIS is the set we chose, the 360 Pro Max!

And you can see that and the whole range right here:

And here are some photos of handy husband putting it all together.

All the pieces are delivered in separate boxes, then my advice is call a mate or enlist yourself/your partner to put it together as a team,

Instructions are included, and we also found that Vuly YouTube how to videos are very helpful.

Simply go to YouTube and look up Vuly Play and all the videos are there.

Here are some snaps of the process:

And voila!

For more info and pricing:


Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Shoal Bay Country Club: REVIEW

I'd never been to Port Stephens.

I know!

But I broke the drought with style, and made sure I included a visit to the place I'd heard about for years: Shoal Bay Country Club.

It's more beach club than the kind of country club you might be picturing, as it's located directly across the road from the beach, and has a buzzy vibe and quite a family feel, and it's also a perfect spot for post-beach, pre-dinner drinks after you've drunk in the sun all day at glorious Port Stephens.

Insider tip: ask for a table overlooking the water... better still, a table outside under the fairy lights opposite the ocean, while you enjoy the late afternoon breeze, devouring your lunch or dinner.

Another insider tip: order that seafood platter.

The highlight: oh my GOSH, that kingfish ceviche!

The deluxe seafood platter - feeding two-four people, at $179 - also features a whole lobster mornay, fresh Port Stephens oysters, Aussie prawns, delicious marinated octopus, sweet blue swimmer crab, grilled barramundi, salt and pepper squid, and chips.

Ah, that tender crab meat:

Back to the ceviche: with a deliciously zesty dressing, and laden with jalapeƱos, radish slices, lime, and a side of crunchy flatbread, it rates up there with the plentiful lobster mornay.

We had seven in our party, and I am pleased to say that Shoal Bay Country Club also caters for fussy eaters.

One of our mini diners yells 'PIZZA!' when asked ahead of time what he wants to eat at SBCC, and luckily, they have two hard working, on fire pizza chefs who pump out those pizzas like nobody's business.

Here are some sneaky shots of pizzas at the pass, ready for some hungry diners.

Are they good? Yep, he gave them the thumbs up, choosing the Italian classic margherita pizza.

We started with the crispy fried buttermilk chicken wings which were craved by my daughter, and we all enjoyed these. They're served with a lime and chilli mayonnaise. Fifteen bucks for a generous serve to share.

The classic fish and chips is always a good choice at a seaside restaurant, and these did not disappoint our mini diner. Beer battered, with tartare sauce, $25.

Burger aficionados (again, my daughter) will love the grilled beef burger. Melted American cheese, crispy bacon, tomato, lettuce, pickles, onion, garlic and lemon aioli, and served with chips. It was so big she couldn't finish it. Twenty fours bucks and a good feed.

We also enjoyed a woodfired garlic and herb flatbread to share ($10).

A serve of chicken nuggs and chips ($12 for kids under 12) can also fill the belly of a small member of the group. Usually, my young guy goes for this dish. Instead he chose the chicken schnitzel and chips and salad. We ate the chips and salad... standard for this super fusspot.

We were so full we couldn't order dessert!

Should you be able to squeeze it in, they have assorted cakes for $15 each, served with whipped mascarpone, or a trio of ice cream for $12 per serve.

We did have room for drinks, though! A robust glass of red, and an Aperol spritz: the latter is Aperol and fresh lime topped with French sparkling wine and a dash of soda (we do prefer it with Prosecco, though this was still refreshing). $17.

See the full drinks menu HERE.

We came to enjoy Shoal Bay Country Club after seeing it from across the road on a beach day during our mini break from Sydney.

I love nothing more than a day at the beach then off to dinner at the local, so the experience feels almost European, and depending on where you sit and the time of day you go (it can get quite busy inside during dinner time, though feel less busy if you're sitting al fresco), that's exactly how you'll feel!

It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the venue also features live music. And if you want it to be a super quick pitstop in the am, then Mermaids Cafe is the place you'll head (downstairs at street level, for a quick bite to go).

HERE is the full menu.

HERE is more about the venue.

The Shoal Bay Country Club kitchen is open from 11.30am til late, with a 3pm - 5pm bar menu also available.

More specific hours are here:

Monday 6:30am – 2am

Tuesday 6:30am – 2am

Wednesday 6:30am – 2am

Thursday 6:30am – 2am

Friday 6:30am – 2am

Saturday 6:30am – 2am

Sunday 6:30am – 12am

Bottleshop opening hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-10pm

Bonus: they operate a courtesy bus for those living or just visiting locally, which operates Wed-Sun from 5pm, and is available for pick ups and drop offs. The service covers Shoal Bay, Fingal Bay, Nelson Bay, and Corlette. You can call the bus driver on 0431 725 928, during bus operation hours only.

Oh, you can download the SBCC too! It'll keep you up to date with day to day activities, featured events, live entertainment, weekly performing artists, dining menus and daily specials.

Apple download HERE. And Android HERE.

You can call them on 02 4981 1555, and email them here info@sbcc.com.au

And find them here: 35-45 Shoal Bay Road, Shoal Bay.

See you there!

Friendly staff at SBCC:

Yep, that seafood platter was demolished:

More on that seafood platter: