Monday, 14 January 2019

Enjoy a glass or two of wine - and do some good at the same time

Wobbly Boot vineyard in Tasmania's Coal River Valley describes itself as Australia's most dog-friendly cellar door - and hosts a wide range of events to raise money for animal welfare organisations.

Wine and Woofs is Wobbly Boot's quarterly fundraiser for wildlife rescue and animal welfare organisations. It is a day where dog lovers gather to celebrate with wine, food and music - all for a good cause.

There are three fully-fenced off-lead areas: Maeve's Vineyard (named after resident woofer Maeve) is a large area for medium-to-large dogs, The Orchard is for small dogs and Elsa's Vineyard is a quiet zone for older and less active dogs.

The next Wine and Woofs is this Sunday, January 20, from noon to 4pm.

There will be food Manneken Eats, live music with Stacey Loukis and Grant Woodward, and dog art with Penny Ruthberg.

Visiitors are invited to bring a picnic, rug, chair and shade. Barbecue facilities will be available and wine, craft beer, cider and soft drink will be on sale.

Entry is $10 per person with kids and dogs free.

The charity being supported this weekend is Ten Lives Cat Centre. Dogs helping cats! 

Wobbly Boot has so far raised over $35,000 for the Devils in Danger Foundation, Wombat Rescue Tasmania, RSPCA Tasmania, Dogs Homes of Tasmania, Ten Lives Cat Centre, ROAR, Brightside Farm Sanctuary and Pets in the Park.

Treasury in; Jacob's Creek out

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has been announced as the official wine supplier for the Australian Open 2019 - on the opening day of the tennis tournament.

TWE, taking over from long-time partner Jacob's Creek, will supply a range of premium Australian wines to many of the restaurants and food outlets across Melbourne Park, with a special showcase within the vineyard precinct at Grand Slam Oval.

The tournament offering is led by Victorian winery St Huberts from the Yarra Valley, who will host The Stag tasting room within the Grand Slam Oval. 

There will be tastings each day of the tournament, some of which will be hosted by winemaker Greg Jarratt.

"We are delighted to announce Treasury Wine Estates as the official wine supplier for the
Australian Open,” Tennis Australia’s Chief Revenue Officer Richard Heaselgrave said.

“We look forward to bringing a traditional cellar-door concept to life at the Australian Open and showing off some of TWE’s world-class wines to the world.

“Fans can enjoy amazing Australian wines at the AO, all matched to the many and varied food options across the site and supporting the ongoing work we’ve done over the past three years to bring our expanded food and hospitality vision to life.”

TWE Deputy Chief Marketing Officer Angus Lilley said: “We’re thrilled to share some of Australia’s most loved and renowned wines with visitors to the Australian Open this summer. 

“It’s extremely exciting to showcase wines from across the portfolio including Penfolds, Wynns and Seppelt. Our on-site activation will be led by St Huberts The Stag, a range of wines which embody the very best of Victorian winemaking and continue to see strong growth and popularity in the market.”

The Vault – St Hubert’s The Stag Tasting room will provide a full cellar-door wine tasting experience in the heart of Grand Slam Oval.

TWE will serve a range of wine from across their portfolio - including iconic Penfolds Grange in a number of the Australian Open’s premium restaurants.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Pot smokers happy to also enjoy a drink or two

The legalisation of marijuana in American states has not damaged liquor sales, a new survey shows.

Observers expected that the marijuana legalization trend in the US would impact liquor sales, but that hasn't been the case in the three states where spliffing has been legal the longest.

Overall industry trends remained consistent, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, which did the study. Spirits sales went up in the three states — Colorado, Oregon and Washington state — although wine and beer stayed on their mixed to negative course, CNBC reported.

"At this point, we've seen no impact on spirit sales from legalised recreational marijuana," said Chris Swonger, the DSC's CEO.

The council analyzed per-capita alcohol sales in the three states for the two years prior to marijuana being legalized and up to four years after using state-level alcohol tax receipts and shipment data. Sales of spirits increased in all three states, from 3.6% in Oregon to 7.6% in Colorado.

Wine sales were up in Colorado and Oregon, but down in Washington state. Beer sales, which have been losing market share to spirits and wine over the last decade to begin with, were down in all three states.

"The trends in alcohol have been fairly consistent regardless of whether or not you have legalized recreational marijuana in a state or not," said David Ozgo, the council's chief economist.

The study found that overall sales of spirits, wine and beer were roughly flat. Colorado was up 1.7%, while Washington state and Oregon were down 0.2% and 0.5%, respectively.

Ten US states and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational marijuana. Several more are considering legalisation in 2019.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Cruise nightmare as tummy bug strikes

It is every cruise passengers' worse nightmare; massive a ship full of sick people, a journey cut short. 

Royal Caribbean Cruises has this weekend cut short a sailing of the giant Oasis of the Seas to the Caribbean after almost 300 people complained of suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms.

The ship returned to its Florida base after the number of passengers suffering from the sickness bug rose to 277.

Royal Caribbean spokesman Owen Torres said: "We think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health."

Although no consolation to those currently suffering, the number of cases of shipboard gastrointestinal outbreaks is on the decline, and was significantly down in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Last year just 547 cases were recorded on 10 cruises by the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program.

An outbreak is classified when at least 3% of passengers and crew fall ill. It is unclear what caused the outbreak on the Royal Caribbean liner.

The Oasis of the Seas carries up to 5,400 passengers and over 2,000 crew.    

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Getting up close and personal with baby turtles

Heron Island, off the coast of Queensland, is one of the best places on earth to observe Baby Green and Loggerhead Turtle hatching season. 

From January until May, and undeterred by human presence, the hatchlings emerge from their sandy nests between 25 to 50 metres from shore and make their way to the reef, just beyond the water’s edge.

Positioned on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island is a protected habitat and national marine park for the turtles that return each year from October to December to nest on the island sands, upon which they themselves hatched up to 30 years earlier.

Heron Island General Manager Tony Barradale says: “During turtle-hatching season the babies' journey to the sea is an imprint on the environment to them so they know to return to these sands as mature adults, it’s therefore very important that they’re permitted to make their own journey to the water without assistance or hindrance.”

Located on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island is 72km off the coast from Gladstone. 

Naturalist guides on Heron Island lead educational tours for observing the hatchlings each evening, the best time to view the turtles hatching. The optimal time to view turtles is two hours each side of the high tide.

Bed and breakfast turtle-hatching packages to Heron Island start from $347 per night, based on double occupancy, including daily buffet breakfast, a turtle gift, turtle talk and snorkelling trip for two. 

A variety of accommodations options are available including tropical garden and reef view rooms, beachside suites and a beach house. For bookings and enquiries call 1800 875 434 or visit

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Resort offers optional puppy cuddling activities

Think of the perfect spa package; then include cuddling a puppy as an optional extra.

Sunrise Springs in Santa Fe in the US, is one of the first health resorts to offer interactions with puppies as part of a package.

The Santa Fe destination spa’s snuggling services aren’t just about making humans happy, but about helping the puppies learn, too.

Sunrise Springs has partnered with Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW) - a non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs for those in need - to create the on-site Puppy Enrichment Centre, currently home to eight puppies training to be service dogs, USA Today reports.

Puppies training to be service dogs require lots of socialisation, so they are prepared to calmly handle any situation when they are older. This is where Sunrise Springs steps in. The spa resort uses its puppy play and cuddling packages as a way to help both humans and dogs.

ADW executive director Linda Milanasi says humans get a chance to lower their blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels, while increasing oxytocin levels by interacting with the puppies through spa programs like Upbeat Canine Play and Puppy Preschool. And the service dog students get the opportunity to socialise and learn basic commands from a variety of friendly faces.

Sunrise Springs’ puppy activities are among the resort’s most popular features.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have the puppies here and to support such an important program,” general manager of Sunrise Springs Mara Bouvier told USA Today

“Our guests rave about their experience, no matter what age the puppies are. To see them from newborns to six-months-old, in all stages of development and learning, is often the highlight of their stay.”

The puppies are pampered, as well. All of the little dogs’ activities are supervised by trained ADW professionals, and when the canines aren’t learning from guests, the puppies can often be found eating, playing on the resort’s property or resting in their luxurious accommodations.

For those who prefer feathers over fur, Sunrise Springs also offers interactions with pet Silkie chickens. 

Now an airline wants you to tip its flight attendants

In the United States, just about everyone has their hand out for a tip. 

Your waiter/waitress (justified because they are on ridiculously low wages), your hotel porter, the person who shows you to your seat at the baseball. 

Now an ultra-budget airline under fire for not paying its crew enough, wants passengers to tip flight attendants to boost their take-home pay.

Frontier Airways, an ultra-budget airline based in Denver, Colorado, began encouraging tips on January 1, when a message was first issued via a digital payment tablet that said: "Gratuities Are Appreciated!"
Frontier said it will no longer require flight attendants to pool their contributions and will allow them to accept personal tips from customers ordering food and beverages.
Passengers were offered the choice of a 15% tip, 20% tip or 25% tip. 
'We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well, so (the payment tablet) gives passengers the option to tip," said Frontier spokesman Jonathan Freed. 
If Frontier appreciate their staff so much they might want to try paying them a living wage.
How long will it be before Jetstar staff in Australia hold out their hands for a tip for having poured a cup of coffee?