South West is best

I just can’t seem to get enough of our South West.

I’ve been down three or four times the winter just gone. Sometimes for camps, and the other times for a weekend getaway.

There’s something about leaving the ‘burbs behind and getting out into the fresh country air that feels so good for the soul.

My last trip was with my dear friend Allison to show her a bit more of our lovely state before she heads back home to the US of A.

We spent two nights at Dunsborough Railway Carriages and Cottages – a place I had remembered staying with my family at least 10 years ago. Then we stayed in a cottage, now we had a cute old railway carriage. It was simple but neat and just what we needed for a weekend.

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This weekend was about getting out and seeing the Margaret River Region and we managed to squeeze a whole lot into our day and a half.

I enjoyed a morning run on Saturday, exploring the grounds of the place we were staying. They had cows, alpacas and chickens on the property who all stared at me as I ran past as if to say ‘why on earth would you do that?’. I also saw several kangaroos as I ran a small trail through the trees, finding bridges and native flowers. It truly was incredibly refreshing and serene.

Our first destination was to explore the town centre of Margaret River. We found an amazing bakery for morning tea that was a little squishy due to it’s popularity but offered an amazing selection of breads and desserts.

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Next stop was Rosa Brook for some hose riding. It was a pleasant ride despite a bit of drizzle. However we both wished we would have had the opportunity to canter our horses but we rode in quite a large group with several young children.

Afterwards they served some fresh bread with dukkah to enjoy, which was a nice touch.

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Having worked up quite an appetite we drove to The Berry Farm for lunch. It’s a sweet little spot for a meal. Expect a few little chirpy visitors at your table as you eat. The birds are quite happy to come close, especially if there’s some sugar to eat on your table.

I imagine there’s more to do here in the warmer months as visitors are free to pick berries, but as our visit wasn’t seasonal there wasn’t anything growing.

We did really enjoy sampling all the unique jams and couldn’t help grab a couple, as well as a bag of avocados for $5!

We hit up the Margaret River Chocolate Factory for some free samples on our way to Indijup Beach.

Another stunning location, we trekked across the beach to watch the sun start to go down atop some impressive rock formations. It truly was a beautiful sight.

I love how it doesn’t seem to matter how often I visit our South West, each time I discover just how little of it I have seen and just how many more hidden gems there are to find.

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John and I love cooking with lots of vegetables. Any dish we make – curry, enchiladas, burgers, stirfrys – we add about five different varieties of veggies, whether the recipe calls for it or not.

Being keen eaters of colourful food we’ve said how cool it would be if we could take vegetables from our own veggie garden.

So last weekend, inspired by the sad news about Masters closing down, we headed to the hardware store to pick up some seedlings to begin our garden (despite the closing down sales not actually beginning until later).

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We picked our favourite and only herb for our garden at the moment, a small rosemary bush as well as the very necessary lettuce seedlings and some cute accompanying baby carrots.

We decided to give two of our favourite vegetables a go from scratch as seeds so we grabbed packets of capsicum and zucchini seeds as well.

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Now we’re fairly novice gardeners, in fact we have no experience at all (although John once grew a thriving spinach plant, so that’s a plus), so our expectations of being able to produce a harvest from these seeds are not high especially given how temperamental some plants can be.

However, I have great hope that at least one of the 125 seeds we planted may bring forth a shiny red capsicum or even a teeny zucchini.

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We began our planting as the sun was going down, which made for a more exciting experience as we used the light of our phones to plant.

Before choosing our plants we researched online the best vegetables to plant at the end of winter/beginning of spring and read and reread the back of the seed packets to make sure we were planting them correctly.

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We’re still fairly confused about how often to keep them watered though as different sources say different things and many say nothing at all about the watering processes prior to green shots. I’ll be so excited if we can get that far!

I didn’t think I’d be quite so pumped about growing vegetables but I can’t wait until we can see some progress and I’ll be so proud of our little seeds if they can reap a harvest.

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Edit: John would like to add that both capsicum and zucchini are technically classified as fruits, after some extensive research. However, they are considered vegetables for culinary purposes.

 

Fair ladies at Fairbridge

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Our state is so beautiful. Whether it’s the bustling city, the rough and tumble of the red outback or the tranquility in the lush south I can’t help but find myself in awe of the beauty that surrounds us.

I spent the last stormy weekend on a retreat, with a bunch of beautiful women from my church, at the quaint Fairbridge Village near Pinjarra.

This was a wonderful time to get away and share connection with one another and hear and experience some powerful things God wanted to do over that weekend.

The first morning we woke to the great storm of 2016. The thundering of rain on the tin roof of the dorm while I was cocooned in my sleeping bag was the most cosy sensation.

Although the rain pelted down and the wind was fierce it didn’t dampen our moods in the slightest. And for those like me who love winter weather, made it all the more enjoyable.

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During a period of free time, my lively and lovable friend Jordi and I ventured out of Fairbridge, through debris on the road from the storm and into Pinjarra.

We had a quick squiz in an op shop and enjoyed a little walk around one of the town’s churches and then by the Murray River. It was a gorgeous place and we took some snaps that were quite insta-worthy (that is how you rate quality pictures theses days). Enjoy!

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Social media: The time cruncher

Everybody’s pet peeve is the same. I can almost guarantee you.

While one person might think their’s to be traffic jams, another person finds people who take more than the designated 12 items through the express checkout simply unbearable, or still another feels ridiculously slow internet upload speed is the worse thing they can bare. All these frustrations have one thing in common.

Time.

None of us like to have our time wasted. And almost anything that really annoys us has to do with this.

I’d say this has a lot to do with being largely impatient people, living in an instantaneous world. But it also has to do with the intrinsic value placed on our time.

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When I started working full time I valued my time far more highly than I had before, because I suddenly had much less of it. Most of the hours from Monday to Friday had been written off for work and so now I found myself with precious few hours each night and on weekends that were mine to decide what to do with.

These hours are quickly filled however, with other commitments, simple necessities such as cleaning and organising meals, exercise and training, and the remainder dedicated to catch ups with friends and some time for myself to read and relax.

Whenever something unexpected comes up, I can be fully aware of it cutting into my quickly disappearing free time. Making the most of my time is the main reason I switched from driving to work every day, and consequently wasting almost 10 hours a week in traffic, to catching public transport and fitting in an hour of reading or listening to a podcast on the way to work and then another hour on the way home. My commute is now often the highlight of my day.

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Several days ago I made a list of all the things I spend my time on, in an effort to find places where I can declutter my life and spend more time on the things I really care about.

I was slightly disappointed to find there was really hardly any wiggle room to cut anything at all, deeming it all too important.

Although, one small but significant user of my time could be amended and that was social media.

I wrote down the use of social media platforms on my list as it’s something I use every day so I know full well they must take up a fair amount of my time. I’m also the type of person who will recheck my newsfeeds within several minutes of closing the application for no good reason at all.

I’ve had intentions about changing this for a while now. While I still want a social media presence, I would like to shake the hold it’s got over me where I fear missing out on something significant if I haven’t read my newsfeed all the way back to the point I finished last time.

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It’s funny how protective of our time we can be and how easily frustrated we get with things that demand our time and really give us nothing in return, such as waiting in queues or having to refill out an application, when we willing chose to engage with the thing that’s crunching away at huge portions of every day and leaving nothing of lasting benefit in our lives. More often than not it actually makes us lose any bit of contentment and joy we do have about our own lives, because of what we see in our feeds of what other people have. It’s something that would not have bothered us at all if we hadn’t decided to mindlessly scroll down the newsfeed for 15 minutes before heading to work.

So if you’re like me and feel like there’s never enough time to do the things you enjoy. Can I encourage you not to waste the time when you get it just checking how everybody else is spending there’s and whether yours measures up.

Disclaimer: If I’m being completely honest I was scrolling through my social media while writing this post. It probably meant I spent twice as long writing this.

 

Let’s put travel in perspective

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed – like any typical Friday (or Monday or Tuesday or any day for that matter) – I came across an article titled Why Not Quitting Your Job to Travel is a Waste of Your Life.

Wow!

Now I don’t know if your first thoughts upon reading that were at all like mine, but I was fairly taken aback.

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First, let me put it out in the open that yes, I am a full time worker who has evidently not quit their job to travel. But, anyone who knows me knows that I love travelling. In fact, I have done more than many people’s fair share of travelling for my age. I owned a passport before the age of 4, have spent extended periods of time abroad, flown on multiple solo trips from 16 to countries where I didn’t speak the language and I have loved and treasured those experiences.

I truly believe that travel is far more than a money-can-buy-experience and teaches us many things… BUT, and I want people to understand this, travel is not the be all and end all and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having not been anywhere, nor having little desire to venture beyond one’s own shores.

Back in my grandparent’s days very few people could afford the luxury of holiday adventures. The concept of backpacking through Europe in your 20s, family holidays to Disneyland, snow adventures in Japan or exotic South American treks are relatively recent and have gained momentum fast.

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People who have travelled little, or not at all, often receive a bizarre look as if they are from somewhere completely foreign (‘scuse the pun). There is nothing wrong with these people and I think we have a very valuable lesson we can learn from them – the importance of finding contentment wherever you find yourself and for however long you may be there.

When having seen as many places as possible on Earth as you can is highly regarded among our friends. It’s almost as if travel has become a bit of a competition, who’s been to the most remote place?  Who’s been to the most countries, airports included/excluded? Who’s climbed all 669 steps of the Eiffel tower? (For the record I have done that and never again!)

So, why do I have such a problem with the title of this article?

It’s simply this. The implication that those who have not travelled are wasting their life is quite frankly nonsense. Ask them what they’ve been doing with all the time they’ve had while you’ve been away and you’ll likely discover something pretty extraordinary. Maybe they’re creative and they’ve spent time writing a book or making music, maybe they’ve hung out with their friends and built fantastic relationships… or maybe they have followed ‘convention’ and ‘stereotypes’ *gasp* *scream* (the horror!) and got themselves a job. A job they’ve worked hard to get, a job they rock up to every day, some days joyfully others a little reluctantly but either way they’ve committed, they’ve pushed through the long days, the busy schedules, the mundane tasks, the irritable co-workers to bring home a wage for their family, or for their saving plan, or to work their way to their goal position.

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Quitting a job to roam our beautiful earth can take courage, but more often the real courage is overlooked, of the people who choose to stay and find contentment in their lot.

By no means do I mean to kill your dream of seeing wild elephants in Africa or make you feel selfish for your wonderful adventures. For those of us who have travel consider yourself blessed, treasure your memories and continue to plan your next trip if that excites you and you are able, but may we consider there is far more important things than how many places we can tick off our bucket list.

For the record I do hope to continue to post travel articles to all the exciting places I visit because it’s something I love to do!

 

 

Roaming Perth’s north (or north of Perth)

In my head I come up with really good plans.

I mean, I have great ideas, they’re executed exactly how they should be and everyone involved has a really good time. Unfortunately, that’s only in my head.

Last week I had decided to organise a bit of a weekend adventure for John and I, to do something we wouldn’t normally do. I thought a road trip to go swimming in Serpentine falls would be lots of fun, but then I heard a billion leeches live in those waters and I thought ‘hm, maybe we’ll revisit that idea the day I need to lose a bit of blood’.

Instead I researched Yanchep National Park and discovered they have caves you can explore, koalas, hiking tracks, tearooms and a bunch of different things that I thought could be really cool to discover.

So, I told John to pack his camera and some walking shoes and that we were headed on an adventure. We left mid-afternoon, which ideally would have been a bit earlier but I had other things i had to get done that morning.

By the time we arrived we were about half an hour too late for the final cave tour for the day, which was a real bummer. I thought that would be the highlight of the trek up that way and was now a bit annoyed that the ‘adventure’ I had talked up lacked much venturing.

Despite my poor planning skills (to check when the cave tours actually operated) there was still some cool things for us to see like the super cute snoozing koalas and plenty of kangaroos around the park.

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A lady at the visitors centre showed us a collapsed cave system on the map that we could still visit on our own, so we drove through the park roads to have a look.

We arrived at the entrance to a cave, which was closed for a private function, but we had a quick little peek through the corridor and saw it beautifully lit up with fairy lights – apparently people can host their wedding receptions inside one of the caves.

Nearby we found a track and eventually stumbled upon the collapsed cave system, which was huge walls of limestone surrounded by shrub and trees.

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On the way back to the car we heard lots of rustling in the bushes and out bounded a whole mob of kangaroos (sir Google tells me that’s what a group of roos are called).

It was pretty cool to be out in the bush just us and the wildlife. There are also huge numbers of black cockatoos at this park and they made quite the racket our whole visit.

20160305_162830_resizedAfter leaving the park we headed for Two Rocks. I’ve seen countless pictures of it but have never seen the famous King Neptune statue from the old Atlantis theme park in person, and since we were already so north we thought we might as well.

As luck would have it today it was closed, but of course it would be open tomorrow. Still, I didn’t even know it was something people could still visit but it did appear visitors can walk the stairs to the base of the statue at certain times.

I wasn’t exactly sure of how to get there either but once we came into Two Rocks there’s no missing it, it looms overhead quite impressively, if not a little creepily in John’s books.

20160305_165536_resized_1With the gate closed for another day we bid our farewell to King Neptune and headed back to Yanchep for a quick dip in the ocean, eagerly devoured fish and chips for tea and headed back to the ‘burbs.

It’s only half an hour from home but Yanchep felt almost like a country getaway for the day and offered some great hidden attractions for Perthians to explore.

That does raise a question though; is Yanchep in Perth’s north or north of Perth?

Perth’s most quirky iced drinks

Summer is well and truly upon us and with the unrelenting heat bearing down you’ll want to find a place to cool off. Treat your tastebuds and refresh yourself from the inside out with a cool drink or icey treat from one of Perth’s many delectable eateries.

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Walking around the City of Perth I soon discovered just how many wonderful places there are to sample and enjoy.

There are old favourites cafes, cute and quirky nooks and streets of hidden gems.

While the good old-fashioned ice coffees and spearmint milkshakes are readily available when it comes to cool summer treats for 2016 it’s all about the simple cold brew coffees as well as more eccentric flavour varieties.

Max + Sons

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Situated in Perth City’s freshest dining precinct Globe Lane, or 140 William Street, Max + Sons is bright little café and the perfect place in this thriving hub to grab a coffee on the go or stay for a chat.

If you’re craving that coffee kick but the stinking hot temperatures have you desperate for an alternative to the toasty beverage then swap your regular cup of joe for a revitalising cold brew.

This cold coffee option is rising in popularity all around the city and Max + Sons provide a great take away or dine in option for $5.

Because cold brew involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water and leaving it to infuse for long periods of time there is some bitterness associated with the flavour of cold brew.

Max + Sons’ cold brew wasn’t overpowering in terms of coffee strength and although there was a little bitter aftertaste it was a mostly smooth and refreshing.

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For the tea drinker Max + Sons have their home made iced Yerba Maté tea for $.4.50.

A caffeine free, Brazilian medicinal tea with lovely subtle flavours, the Yerba Maté is easy to drink with light flavours that provide a nice hydrating alternative to water.

In addition, the café sells small glass bottles of their house made juices for $8.

Juices vary each day but there are normally a handful of flavours to choose from including a green juice, summer fruits, watermelon, orange/apple/turmeric and beetroot/apple/ginger.

Location: Shop 23, 140 William Street Perth

Open: Monday-Friday 6.30am-4pm and Saturday 9am-4pm

Website

Willie Wagtail

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There were several things that stood out to be about this sweet little place.

The first was the location. I had never before noticed this café sitting opposite Jamie’s Italian on William Street.

With only small signage facing the street, the café sits tucked away with its entrance a little corridor that leads to a courtyard of tables and chairs.

The second thing was the friendliness of the staff who all clearly held such a delightful passion for the job.

They eagerly explained the differences between cold brew and cold drip coffee and gave advice on the best ways to make both.

Thirdly Willie Wagtail’s cold coffee menu is as extensive as your own imagination. By that I mean if you can think something up the staff here are prepared, and excited, to make it happen for you.

On their written menu are iced long blacks, iced chais, iced chocolates and iced teas.

Enticed by the varied menu I sampled a few of their exotic delights including the Ethiopia di Bello, a milk chocolate, strawberry and plum cold drip.

This iced coffee was silky smooth, full of flavour and reminiscent of a liquor. Perfect for those who like striking flavours, it had a much more refined taste than that of a cold brew.

Next was their iced long black of the dark chocolate and date variety. The coffee was quite strong and would be perfect for someone seeking a cool sharp coffee hit.

I also sampled their much lighter cold brew mixed with sparkling water on ice, colourfully named the Willie Tingle.

All cold drips, brews and iced long blacks are $4 for a small or $4.50 for a larger size.

There’s even an assortment of cold drip devices on display to view and purchase to make your own concoctions at home.

Location: 131 William Street

Open: Monday-Friday 6.30am-4pm

Website

Moana Coffee

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One of my favourite places to dine, Moana Coffee served up the goods in the iced delights department on a sweltering day.

Tucked away above Hay Street mall, this charming little café is a hidden gem inside the renovated Moana Chambers building.

For the tea drinker Moana has a green sweet treat in the form of iced matcha for $5.50.

The best thing about this milky drink is while it tastes deliciously sweet there is no added sugar. It’s simply the delightful taste of the infused tea.

Their homemade iced orange pekoe tea is a wonderful bargain on a hot day at $2.50.

My personal favourite was the iced London fog ($4.50). Essentially a cold version of a white Earl Grey tea, this drink has beautiful fruity and floral aromatic flavours.

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Moana’s cold brew comes served in cute little 200ml glass bottles for $5.50 each.

There is a great selection of flavours to choose from including, Sparkling Lime and Ginger, Almond Milk and Maple and Classic Sparkling Orange.

There is also a larger 500ml bottle of cold brew concentrate available.

I sampled the Sparkling Lime and Ginger and found the addition of the sparkling flavour to give the coffee more of a hydrating feel.

The ginger flavour is what hits you on the first sip, followed by the kick of the coffee in the aftertaste.

It’s handy to know that if you bring the bottle back on your next visit you’ll get a 50 cent discount off your next cold brew.

Location: Upstairs in the Moana Chambers building at 618 Hay Street

Open: Monday-Friday 7am-4pm, Saturday 10am-3pm and Sunday 11am-4pm

Website

Little Angel

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For a truly unique iced dessert experience head to Little Angel at the bottom of the Exchange Tower in Perth’s CBD.

The only place in Perth to serve liquid nitrogen affogatos, known as their Nitro Affogatto, Little Angel provides an experience for all the senses.

It takes about five minutes to prepare the dessert and I would highly recommend watching it being made.

It’s exciting to watch as the barista dons gloves and glasses and carefully pours the liquid nitrogen with the gas pouring out everywhere. It looks more like a cool science experiment than food.

As recommended by the staff, and confirmed by my experience, the best way to eat the dessert is to first sample the gelato and then add the coffee to taste.

The pandan and coconut gelato was extremely smooth as a result of the liquid nitrogen and the 5 Senses Coffee was the perfect accompaniment.

It is worth trying each bit separately and then together as it brings out many flavours.

Coming in at $8 each, the price will seem steep if you are only after a coffee, but very reasonable for a coffee and an ice cream.

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Currently on their menu, Little Angel have the popular pandan and coconut flavour, along with hot buttered popcorn, and their new cookies and cream flavour.

Location: Ground Floor Exchange Tower, 2 The Esplanade

Open: Monday-Thursday 6.30am-3.30pm and Friday 6.30am-3pm

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Babooshka Bar

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If there were ever a place in Perth for an elaborate drink, this would be it.

Babooshka Bar rose to fame on the Perth food scene for serving one of the most ostentatious milkshakes (or rather ‘freakshakes’) this city’s ever seen.

A triple-donut, chocolate-coated bacon shake is their signature masterpiece for $20.

For those of us less daring, but still eager for something more than the old vanilla milkshake, they serve up a unique range of gourmet shakes.

Starting at $10 each is the Fruitloop and Marshmallow milkshake and their Golden Gaytime shake and for $15 you can replace a meal with their Pancake, Milo and Maple Syrup shake.

In preparation for sampling the pancake shake I passed on lunch, a move that proved to be wise.

It takes five to ten minutes to make each milkshake, as the place is popular, with several people ordering the donut and bacon delight during my visit.

As a drink and meal all rolled into one I wasn’t sure how to begin on the pancake shake, even the boss admitted that “no-one really knows” how to tackle it.

All I can say is be sure to grab some cutlery and plenty of serviettes, as this is one messy drink.

The ice cream, maple syrup and milo makes for a great combination, and hidden under the pancakes is a stack of whipped cream to top off the milkshake.

The first sip brings with it all the maple syrup drizzled through the straw, giving you a quick sugar hit.

After enjoying this huge treat, clear your schedule because you’re going to want to submerge into the food coma that follows.

Location: Arcade 189, 7/189 William Street

Open: Monday-Friday 7am-3pm and Saturday-Sunday 9am-2pm

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Notable Mentions

I am yet to make it to every great iced drink place in the City of Perth, so here are some that I think are still worth a visit.

Henry Saw

From peanut butter smoothies to orange infused cold drips, this little café by Perth’s museum has it all in a charming setting.

Location: 117 Grand Lane, Perth

Open: Monday-Friday 7am-3pm and Saturday 8am-2pm

La Veen Coffee and Kitchen

La Veen recently announced an exciting new addition to their menu, their own coffee granita.

This drink will be sure to keep you cool all summer long.

Location: 90 King Street, Perth

Open: Monday-Wednesday 7am-3pm, Thursday-Friday 7am-4pm, Saturday 8am-4pm and Sunday 9am-3pm

Utopia Bubble Tea

For the widest selection of iced tea flavours anywhere, you can’t go past Utopia Bubble Tea.

With sweet fruity teas, traditional milk based flavours and a range of toppings and jellies to suck up that thick straw there’s plenty for all tastebuds.

Location: 109 James Street, Northbridge

Open: Sunday-Thursday 11.30am-11pm, Friday 11.30am-1am and Saturday 11.30am-2am

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