All’s Well That Ends Well

20111010-203725.jpgDone and dusted! The 2011 Ubud Writers Festival draws to a close with a big shin-dig at the Blanco Museum. Not quite the white walls and empty room I was expecting…Come on, it’s called the “Blanco” Museum! Instead, we were greeted by an enormous statue and a monumental building enmeshed within an ornate exotic garden. Spectacular!

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After the speeches, we were entertained by fire dancers and possibly the most amazing band on the entire island! Gotta find out who those guys were, because man, they were sensational. Lucky Oceans was a guest member on slide guitar, but the main singer had charisma, charm, energy, a booming throaty sound like velvet and blues and was an amazing trumpet player as well. A really awesome night to end out the festival.

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Foreign Correspondents

preparations.jpgOur final day of volunteer events at the Ubud Writers Festival. This time, I’m MC-ing a Literary Lunch with Alexander McCall Smith at the magnificently exotic, Maya Ubud Resort and Spa and Fiona is assisting with checking tickets at the door. Jaw-droppingly A-mazing place, nestled away in the mountains of Ubud…(insert “drool” here).

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This is my most nerve-racking of all our events, because Alexander McCall Smith is one of their biggest draw cards. He’s written over 60 books! More than I’ve read in my entire life!! (Who am I kidding?…10 books is more than I’ve read in my entire life…8 maybe?). He’s most famous for his No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which has now also been made into a TV series. Remarkable man, and very amusing.


The other highlight for me, is that the moderator leading the conversation today, is none other than renown respected Aussie journalist and TV Host, Jennifer Byrne, and reading her resume, you could easily confuse her with G.I. Jane! What an incredible life she’s led. And super lovely, smart and approachable…but that’s enough about Fiona 😉 (Who am I kidding?…there could never be enough of Fiona).

I feel incredibly privileged to be rubbing shoulders and working with such respected and inspiring people, at least, that’s what they said about working with me 🙂


Show us your Betelnuts!


A lightning dash to Ubud in the rain at night, for our 2nd official volunteering event, the Sounds Of Seasons with Paul Kelly Fundraiser, raising funds for next year’s Ubud Writers Festival.

We’ve only just had time to breathe, finishing up our earlier event at Biku in Seminyak,


then dashing up to look for and check into our hotel in the wilds of Ubud, the Casa Ganesha Hotel (once again, Google maps and Ubud; like Kate Moss and donuts – they just don’t mix. And frankly, where’d you find a glass big enough?), then high-tailing it to the event at Betelnut – Noodle, Satay Bar & Music Lounge. Which was infinitely better than the music bar and noodle lounge. You can’t believe how difficult it is sitting on a lounge made from noodles, especially in white pants!

But we’re buzzed and charged, because we’re spending our night with Paul Kelly!!

Nina, the event coordinator, placed us specifically in this event because she knew what great fans we are. How nice…and cool, of her. She said it’s mostly all Aussie volunteers on that night, so you should have a blast! And what a night it was!!…

…(insert crickets “chirping” here)

Turns out, she had us running the silent auction…outside…the venue! What the? So all us Aussie’s, specially placed so we could have a blast with Paul Kelly…ended up with a just a breeze from the local drunks, outside. Awesome!!

Mind you, it did have it’s perks. We did meet a myriad of weird, crazy and lovely people. Basically, we had all kinds of donated prizes that people would stagger out and write down a bid on. At the end of the night, whoever had the highest bid on that item, wins that prize. So, we had all kinds of people to talk, laugh and poke fun at…but that’s enough about me 🙂

Lovely people, like 70yr old, Sally Sweetapple (yes, that’s her real name). And the crazy woman who almost bid on everything and damn well almost won everything (last seen fleeing from her husband and trying to eat and swallow all her credit card statements). Me old mate, Steve Bisley, wandered out for a chat or two and we did make friends with another Aussie in the group, a professional photographer named Sally.

As I said, it did have it’s perks because running the silent auction meant, we could bid on anything we wanted. And so it is, that I won a 4 hour music studio session and night for two in a beautiful villa, for a measly $100. Watch out for my demo, coming soon!!

Ballzup @ Biku

UWRF Banner

Here it is, our first official event of the Ubud Writers Festival…High Tea with Juan Gabriel Vasquez at the Biku Tea House in Seminyak.

I can hardly keep my mobile to my ear at the crackling expletives being choked down the crackling phone line, worthy of any old sea-dog, but hardly expected from the beautiful mouth of a Princess!

Thank god we live just round the corner. A major mix-up with the sound guys. They were supposed to setup last night and the Biku staff waited until midnight but no-one showed. They finally turned up 2 hrs before the gig, but can’t setup because they’re in the middle of serving lunch. If it wasn’t for Fiona and her melodic soothing charms, it might have been, “off with their heads!”

Tempers were soothed, ego’s were stroked…but that’s enough about me.

The gig went on as planned except for one thing…the audience. Where the hell were they? 28 seats booked and paid for, but 18 of them didn’t show up! We held things off for half an hour before kicking into it, and boy, did those guys ever miss out, BIG TIME!!

The conversation between our moderator, Geoffrey Williams (ex General Manager of the Australian Film Institute and Chambermade Opera Co.), and Juan Gabriel Vasquez, was absolutely captivating. And the audience was thrilled to have an up close and personal, intimate experience with the author, but again…that’s enough about me.

This man’s life, his views and opinions not only sounded like rich dark chocolate flowing smoothly through his lips, but was filled with more conviction, understanding and heartfelt sentiment, than a soft caramely-nougat centre. He spoke with a worldly knowledge far beyond his years and I couldn’t believe he was younger than me (I jealously suspect he copied off his Grandfather’s exam paper). He spoke so passionately about his life and growing up in Columbia, but I was disappointed that not once, did he mention the cigars, quirky-eye and trench coat…oh wait, I think that was Columbo. Peter Falk’s TV detective from the 70’s…my bad.

The actual event itself, went quite swimmingly. As would be expected, being helmed by Captain Jack (Fiona) Sparrow, we were definitely in safe hands. And dappling a little spanish into my MC announcements, was certainly acknowledged and appreciated by our Columbian guest author…if only he spoke Spanish.

A great afternoon was had by all…now, quickly Robin…to the Batmobile! A quick change back into our tea bags, to brave the journey in the rain and the night on our scooter to our next gig in a couple hours…all the way back up in Ubud!


Paul Kelly makes us cry over gravy…

So the 2011 Ubud Writers Festival has kicked off. The events we’re involved with are a couple days away, so we had time to come up to Ubud to take in a couple of events that were of significant interest to us. However, there was some apprehension because it must have been laundry day for “the man upstairs”, as it was bucketing down, on the island of the Gods. Not a problem for us of course, because we’ve got a scooter!…Oh, wait…

A quick duck into the local Carrefour Department Store on the way, and quicker than you can type who’s-a-weather-beaten-dork-then?…

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…Problem Solved!

It’s amazing how many brightly coloured ponchos were suddenly on the road. Like a Walt Disney symphony of magical dancing tea-bags…on ice!(well…wet wheels, perhaps?)

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By the time we got to Ubud, the rain had temporarily cleared and I introduced myself and my beautiful wife, to the incredibly humble, yet incredibly talented (sounds a little bit like me?), Paul Kelly, before he began his riveting conversation about the release of his book, How to Make Gravy. And privied us (is that even a word?) to a spellbinding mini-acoustic concert, to boot. The link below gives a great account of the entire session.

Paul Kelly makes us cry over gravy… | 2011 Ubud Writers & Readers Festival | Nandurin Karang Awak | Cultivate the Land Within.

Paul Kelly

Interestingly (to us, at least), was that actor, Steve Bisley, sat opposite us and was also there to enjoy the session. He must have known Paul Kelly, as he gave him a cheeky pinch on the bum as he walked past…although, he also groped a pineapple and made out with an origami swan, so I could’ve been mistaken.

Spent the afternoon being entertained by some funny panelists including Australia’s, Corinne Grant, a Sri-Lankan writer who thought he’d written a serious book and suddenly found himself on a comedy panel, a “Guido-esque” Iraqian who lives in Holland and is only famous in his street…not for his writing, but for his long black hair (not common with Dutch folk), and a very comical MC who looked Indian, had a well-rounded English accent and lives in Hong Kong (so no telling where he was from), and their subject for discussion? The delicate art of putting humour on the page…was hardly (if at all), even discussed.

More rain on the way home, but thanks to our newly acquired uber-sexy teabags, we were drier than a dead dingo’s donger!

Offering to the Gods

An interesting morning so far. Woke up to the joyous feeling of rumbles & nausea, which can only mean one thing…either I was pregnant or I had gastro? Either way, I’m about to scare the crap out of myself and seeing as I’m a man, then the latter is most probable.

The main issue is, we have a long ride to Ubud this afternoon & if things don’t clear up by then, well…at least we’ll be able to follow our tracks back home! Or rather, my tracks.

So we had breakfast at Biku (the Princess’s Tea House), to test the PA system for Saturday’s event, and it was very slow going, making sure not to rock the boat. Wheatgrass shots & peppermint tea certainly did the trick…for a little while.

On the scooter on our way home, just two corners away from leaving Biku, Fiona must have thought she was married to James Bond, as I ejector-seated myself off the bike, with a double twist in the half pike position onto my hands and knees, leaning over the open drain on the side of the road…and made a very colorful… offering to the gods!

Thank god my helmet visor was up, or I could have had a front row seat to Jason & His Techni-coloured Dreamcoat.

Anyway, feeling much better now after getting that off my chest (or out of my system), and just so you’re not completely turned off…here’s a picture of a kitten 🙂