The Trip: Italy and France

NAMES Vincent and Swee Chong
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THE TRIP Italy and France in April/May 2017 (food, glorious food!)

THE ITINERARY We started in Milan and took a Bernina Express tour which included a coach ride to Tirano and then a train ride to St Moritz. The journeys and destinations were spectacular. From Milan, we also went to Bergamo, and Citta Alta was fascinating and the polenta cake yummy. The Milanese veal cotoletta and risotto in Osteria Brunello in Milan were exceptional.

In Venice, we strolled leisurely and loved the chichetti and frittura mista. In Rome, we ate seasonal Roman food like carciofi alla romana and alla giuda. Fatamorgana’s innovative gelato flavours were delicious. We also enjoyed a food tour in Trastevere which highlighted Roman specialities. In Sorrento, the seafood at Porta Marina was unforgettable and unpretentious. Raki is now our top-ranked gelateria!

We now know there is more to Positano than just the tourist area. We had wonderful seafood and smoked mozzarella grilled between lemon leaves. In Florence, we enjoyed lampredotto sandwich, bolitta, trippi, tortelli with wild boar sauce, spaghetti with fresh anchovies/capers and bistecca alla fiorentina. From La Spezia, we went on a Sunday to Camogli which celebrated its annual fish festival. We saw the biggest frypan and longest queue for seafood! The Porta Palazzo market and Egyptian Museum in Turin were excellent. We tasted delicious Piedmontese food which included Fassone and Grissonipoli beef and “bonet” pudding.

We loved the markets and chocolates from Sebastien Bouillet in Lyon. With minimal French, we ordered many a meal with difficulty but ate with ease. In Tours, we toured the impressive Chambord and Chenonceau castles and ate delicious French food. Our last stop was Paris and we loved the French Open tennis. We ate comfort French food and pastries, watched the ducks in the Tuileries and walked the Promenade Plantee. C’est bon!

BEST BITS Being at Roland Garros was special. So was eating confit of goose and carciofi (Roman-style artichokes).

WORST BIT We had only one bad meal, at a bouchon in Vieux Lyon – the duck and quenelle were uncooked!

BEST TIP Take the trains in Italy and France and use local transport wherever possible; you will see the land and live like a local.

WHERE TO NEXT A food tour in Morocco with side trips to the tapas/pincho bars in Spain.

‘That one really cuts the heart’: the pain the Wallabies will channel in Brisbane

Kurtley Beale has urged the Wallabies to channel the pain of Dunedin to erase their heartbreak and restore credibility against the All Blacks this weekend.
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No n player was more broken than Beale after full-time in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in New Zealand when the Wallabies blew a golden chance to beat the Kiwis on their home turf.

Standing in the players’ tunnel at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Beale could barely get his words out, repeatedly looking off into the distance and contemplating how close he and teammates came to breaking a 16-year drought on New Zealand soil.

“That one really hurts, heartbreaking stuff ??? that one really cuts the heart,” Beale said in the aftermath of one of the great Bledisloe Cup matches.

Eight weeks on, Beale and the Wallabies have made steady progress and since Dunedin are unbeaten.

The suggestion that Saturday’s clash in Brisbane will carry little significance will be met with a scoff from n players who have recalled the pain of that night.

Asked whether the team could use intrinsic motivation from the last loss, Beale replied: “Yeah I think so. Some guys might forget about it, some others might still be hurt by it and use it to advantage on the weekend. I think we have a really good balance.

“Even though it did hurt in the end, I think individually in my own game it felt good to be part of a huge game like that. Looking how far we came from the week before gave me a lot of confidence in guys around me. It allowed me to look forward with excitement and enthusiasm to keep building and learning off each other to try to reach that No.1 spot that we want.”

‘s spatial awareness in defence might look better than earlier in the year, but numbers show the team is still leaking as many points.

From 15 Tests last year the Wallabies averaged 27.1 points against them per game. From nine matches this year, the figure is, remarkably, exactly the same, while during the Rugby Championship that number has inflated to 29.8 points per game.

Beale is confident his men are more assured in their defensive roles ahead of a third bout with the All Blacks.

“Defensively it’s all about attitude,” Beale said. “If guys are ready from the first whistle I think we’ll put ourselves in a really good position to aim up in our defence.

“If we are urgent around that from the start I feel like we have got the confidence in our defensive structures to be able to shut them down.

“It’s easy to say that but it’s a matter of getting out there and doing it. You can’t lose focus for a second or they’ll come back and pounce on you and take that opportunity and turn it into points.”

Beale crunched All Blacks No.12 Sonny Bill Williams on two occasions in Dunedin and since then the 32-year-old former NRL star has been under significant pressure from the New Zealand media regarding his performances.

Beale, however, was quick to praise his opposite number.

“Sonny Bill is no different; another guy who can create something out of nothing,” Beale said. “Obviously a world-class player, another danger man.

“It’s just going to be a huge challenge – No.1 to No.15 to get on top of your man. We’ll be doing everything possible to try to shut those threats down.”

Beale will hold onto his No.12 jersey but the question on everyone’s lips is whether Michael Cheika will recall Karmichael Hunt, ‘s inside-centre in June, to get a maiden crack at the All Blacks.

Hunt’s astute rugby brain, fearless attitude in defence and inventive style of play are three traits Beale believes the Wallabies must use if they are to snap a seven-game losing streak against their trans-Tasman rivals.

“I think [he can bring] creativity and I’ve always said that in Test match footy you need creativity along with a lot of one-percenters,” Beale said. “Obviously this week we’re up against New Zealand and their whole team is full of that.

“They have X factor, they have game breakers across the whole park and we are fully aware of that. To have someone of K’s calibre ??? he can add that to our team and help us get the right result.”

ASIO warns of overwhelming foreign spying threats

Domestic intelligence agency ASIO says it has not been able to keep up with the growing level of “harmful espionage and foreign interference” operations being carried out in , which have sought to steal sensitive government and corporate information and covertly influence public debate.
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The secretive agency said it had struggled to meet the demands of confronting two major threats, terrorism that “shows no sign of diminishing” and an “unprecedented” level of hostile foreign interference that was “expanding in its scope and complexity”.

“Foreign intelligence services sought access to privileged and/or classified information on ‘s alliances and partnerships, our position on international diplomatic, economic and military issues, our energy and mineral resources, and our innovations in science and technology,” director-general Duncan Lewis wrote in ASIO’s annual report.

ASIO chief Duncan Lewis. Photo: Andrew Meares

On top of these operations, the spy agency “identified foreign powers clandestinely seeking to shape the opinions of members of the n public, media organisations and government officials in order to advance their country’s own political objectives”.

“Ethnic and religious communities in were also the subject of covert influence operations designed to diminish their criticism of foreign governments,” ASIO reported.

“These activities – undertaken covertly to obscure the role of foreign government – represent a threat to our sovereignty, the integrity of our national institutions and the exercise of our citizens’ rights.”

Much of the interference, according to the report, is an “insidious threat” and the significant consequences may not be immediately felt. The threat of state-sponsored cyber-attacks is also expected to increase due to their affordability and “plausible deniability”.

ASIO’s comments follow accusations that one of ‘s biggest political donors engaged in clandestine activities to “advance the interests of the People’s Republic of China” and concerns that Chinese students at universities are agitating against free speech and political expression.

Earlier this year, a joint Fairfax Media-Four Corners investigation exposed ASIO’s concerns about foreign interference, including the targeting of Chinese ns who are critical of Beijing and influence on university campuses and in Chinese language media.

Attorney-General George Brandis is planning a significant shake-up of the laws governing influence in n politics amid the fears centred around the Chinese Communist Party.

In recent days, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Frances Adamson, head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have called for respect of freedom of speech at universities and “secure and resilient” campuses in the face of “untoward influence and interference”.

ASIO’s report suggested some government departments or agencies felt that “more resources should be devoted…to our broader counter-espionage and foreign interference efforts”.

The agency also singled out the rising popularity of encrypted communications, saying its use “by security intelligence targets remains an area of particular concern”.

“Rapid technological development and the increasing use of encrypted communications devices by individuals planning attacks impacted on intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ efforts to detect their activities,” the report said.

Mr Lewis also expressed concern about the “re-emerging” terror threat in south-east Asia, pointing to the ongoing influence of the so-called Islamic State, the significant number of south-east Asian foreign fighters involved in the Middle East, the release from prison of convicted terrorists “who remain capable and influential” and the existence of “ungoverned spaces…which can be used as safe havens for planning and logistic support by terrorists” .

The n government has been assisting the Philippines in a domestic conflict with Islamic State-aligned militants, who have laid siege to the southern city of Marawi.

ASIO warned that “any defeat of ISIL will not be absolute”, predicting that the threat – including from returning foreign fighters – would endure for a long time.

Newcastle start-up Feike takes the hassle out of a night out by cycling to your car to meet you and dropping you home

Let me jump your car: FEIKE founder Daniel Spitieri drops a client home in their car. You were an apprentice at Gough and Gilmour, an earthmoving company in the Hunter Valley. What sort of apprenticeship did you do?
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Plant mechanic. I have been injected with what they call “yellow blood”.

You were then a marine engineer on a 115ft mega yacht in the Caribbean – what led you there and how was that experience?

​I set off on a working holiday through the United States, ended up scoring a job down in Dominican Republic and stayed on the vessel for three years. It was an unbelievable experience to travel through the Caribbean, Bahamas and USA working on a mega yacht which was loaded with jet skis boats diving equipment.

You were a workshop supervisor at Longwall Haul in Redhead for the past six years – what were your core duties?

Organising workshop employees with daily task, making sure safety and compliance was being held to a high standard in accordance to the latest WHS guidelines. Trouble shoot and diagnose complex machine faults on safety systems and machine systems. Organise maintenance service intervals and repairs.

You’ve recently started FEIKE, a company in which you basically ride your bikes to meet clients who have consumed too much to drive their car, or just pick up their car and drop it to their house. Where did you get the idea and what made you think it would work?

After leaving my previous job I was often wondering what my next move was going to be.

It wasn’t until we met up with a group of our friends, with who we take it in turns and do a “Master Chef” cook off, we all have kids and there is plenty of wine involved, so one of the partners always has to not drink to be able to drive home.

One couple said while they were overseas a guy used to pick them up and drive their car home after drinks all the time.

I said “this is brilliant, who wouldn’t want this service, and we would use this service right now!’

Especially in Newcastle, parking meters everywhere, people risking DUI the next morning, having to get up early the next morning to go and get your car. These are all the reasons I knew it would work.

When did you launch and how is the start-up travelling?

I have had a soft opening the about two months ago with friends and family, then I opened it to my network about two weeks ago, next week my FEIKE APP will be ready so the full scale launch will be happening in two weeks.

So far business has been great;a lot of families have been using the service as both mum and dad want to drink at barbecues and still be able to take the kids home in their car seats.

I have covered a lot of distance through Newcastle as well, which is why I am looking for more FEKIE riders so I can meet the demand.

What have been the hardest lessons so far?

Business is a whole new ball game to what I have been used to in the past.

How much have you tweaked your business model?

If you believe me, I literally started with a four-line business plan! I thought yep, I’m good to go. How wrong I was.

The business plan is now over 20 pages long and involves scaling the company globally.

Daniel Spiteri

Why should people use FEIKE over UBER or a cab?

Both companies can’t get your car home. Plus I have been very competitive with my pricing with no surcharge or hidden fees.

Once you fill your details out on the App you get a quote, and that is it, very transparent and clear.

The client’s car needs to be empty so you can put your bike in it. Have you had any hitches if a boot is full?

Yes, personal trainers car boot full of training gear was a little bit tricky, but we managed.

How far will you ride to get a car – you must be pretty fit?

The service area is 6km from Nobby’s Beach as the crow flies, but I have been regularly going out to Dudley, Redhead, and the outskirts of New Lambton. My fitness is improving to next level.

What’s the best thing about working at FEIKE?

Lifestyle (working hours), paid to exercise and customer interaction – everybody is always so pumped to see you.

And the worst?

Riding up Fernleigh Track at 12.30amis quite scary. Peaceful but scary.

Funniest client award goes to….

Some interesting conversations surrounding topics that can’t be published, If there was not privacy acts surrounding what I am allowed to publish, “FEKIE customerconversations” would be a TV show!

Do you hope to make it your full-time job?

It is my full time job, there is a lot of planning and organising that I am involved in behind the scenes, also with the ambition to scale FEIKE, processes and systems need to be refined.