July – Full of Winter Warmers

Whilst the weather has continued to get colder we’ve been keeping things bright at Laneway Learning, helped by the abundance of delicious coffee and steaming soup at The Little Mule.

First up this month we had an evening of makeup and travel. Rhiannon Rodgers of Hands Off! Make-Up Artistry taught us more about Makeup and You than we knew existed! We looked at different products and tools of the trade and learnt that perhaps the most important thing in a makeup bag is a good quality brush or two – every makeup artist’s best friend and a very solid investment. Rhiannon talked us through a step-by-step guide to a flawless finish as well as highlighting some common problem areas and pitfalls.

How to achieve big, bright eyes was definitely the most popular topic of conversation and Rhiannon explained and demonstrated the various techniques to use depending on your particular features. We also found out that rather than just plucking a few strays, we should be giving our eyebrows a decent amount of attention all to themselves. They are one of our most important features and give overall shape to our face. So there you go!

Then in The Right Way to San Jose Lauren Basser imparted her pearls of wisdom regarding travelling alone. With some entertaining role play she got us thinking about solo travel and showed us that travelling alone doesn’t have to be lonely. She also gave us some great tips and more than one story to whet our appetite for the big wide world.

The following week we were very excited to have Robert Redpath from Bee Sustainable and some of his bees down at Laneway Learning to talk about Urban Beekeeping. We learnt all about bees and the intricacies of a hive. Did you know that in any given hive there is one queen bee (for laying 800-1000 eggs per day!), up to a thousand drones (males for mating with the queen bee) and thousands of worker bees (that literally do everything else)? During the class we were able to observe part of a working bee hive and got a bit hands-on making some frames for a hive. So now we know a lot more about what bees do for us (aside from making honey!) and what we can do for them.

After Robert and his bees we had Peter Lake come in to talk about Citizen Science: Astronomy For All. Peter is an amateur astronomer and member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers and Variable Stars South. Although ‘Citizen Science’ and ‘amateur’ might make you think that this is just playing with telescopes to look at pretty patterns in the sky, the Citizen Science activities work towards and help improve ‘real’ science ventures. And that was exactly what we planned to do. During the class Peter hooked Laneway Learning up to his telescope in New Mexico, USA with the aim of tracking a meteorite that may one day strike the earth. Unfortunately for us the clouds were out in the States and we were unable to follow the meteorite’s live progress. However, Peter had been clever enough to take a series of images and data sets the night before so we could still learn how this project works and get a feel for astronomy. For anybody who missed out or wants to go through the class again you can find a video of it up on YouTube and if you want to find out more about Citizen Science Peter keeps a popular blog which regularly carries news of amateur astronomers working in ‘real science’.

For our third evening of the month we got a bit mechanical, looking at watches and cameras. First off, Felix Scholz of The Tailored Watch talked to us about the world of Watches: Tiny Wrist Machines. We uncovered how they came about, how they work, and the different types of watch and watch features. Did you know that the first mechanical watches were around in the 13th century with pocket watches coming a few hundred years later? And it was the ladies who first started wearing wrist watches although soldiers in the First World War made this common practice. During the class we also spent some time looking at modern designer and vintage watches, picking out the genuine articles from clever fakes, and learnt what to be careful of when buying a second-hand watch.

Afterwards, local photographer Brett Robson talked to us about Photography Fundamentals and his love of cameras – he even brought down about three suitcases full of his prized possessions. After a brief introduction to the history of photography, Brett discussed the different features and functions that cameras possess and the common difficulties and issues that people experience when snapping away. Hopefully we now understand once and for all what all the buttons do and can finally stop using ‘auto’.

In the last couple of weeks of the July things got really busy. We set a new record for the amount of people – and equipment – that we can squeeze into The Little Mule as Gruen Transfer panellist Russel Howcroft took to the front of the class to teach us Yo-yoing. You heard me right, our first teacher to have their own Wikipedia page confessed his love for the childhood toy and soon there were bits of plastic on string flying around everywhere as we walked the dog, rocked the baby and took a few trips around the world. For this class we were also hosting the film crew of Coxy’s Big Break so keep your eyes peeled as we will be appearing on a television screen near you soon.

Dhanya Gunasekera talked to us about the glamorous world of Bollywood, beginning with the revelation that Bollywood only refers to films made in Mumbai and not the whole of India. Bollywood cinema has grown into one of the largest centres of film production in the world and is exceptionally popular as, in an area where many people live below the poverty line, it allows the viewers to escape from their troubles. We talked about its stars, themes, and of course we watched lots of scenes. We even had our very own Bollywood dance lesson! We finished off the class by designing our own films ready for the silver screen.
Hugh Gundlach then returned to Laneway Learning, this time to teach us about Movie Musicals. Again, whilst watching all of our favourite clips we discussed the various elements each movie musical contains and looked at character types, themes, settings and more. We had some trivia and of course, there was just a little bit of Disney. We learnt that in lots of movie musicals the main star will actually have their songs dubbed over so that a big star of the era will do the acting whilst a singer does the singing. We also agreed that some common elements are catchy montages and reprises and some (really cheesy) choreography.
In Tequila! Tequila! Nick Reid from Tequila Tromba taught us enough to start distilling our own batch of this Devil’s Water… or maybe just impress our mates in the bar. We now know that tequila is named after a town in Mexico and by Mexican law tequila is only allowed to be made of the blue weber agave from just five of the Mexican states. This plant grows in the mountains and is harvested, cooked and distilled twice before bottling. Just like wine, tequila can then mature, with the age distinctly altering the colour and flavour. To round up the class we tasted several different types and maturities and we even went home with a few awesome cocktail recipes. Now doesn’t that sound better than necking it at 3am with salt and lemon?!
To round up the month it was time for Music Theory: Easy as A, B, C with Neil Boland. Starting with the very fundamentals of clefs, notes and chords we finally worked out what all those dots with sticks mean and progressed our way up to rhythms and harmonies. To put things into context Neil strummed away on his guitar to explain ‘major’ and ‘minor’ and then played a selection of tracks so we could get a feel of the different rhythms and timings across the genres.
Finally, Cate Lawrence from Green Renters was back at Laneway Learning to guide us through Homemade Bath Products. But more on that one next time…