Events

Beatrix Potter’s beloved Peter Rabbit, hops into theatres this Easter with all the hallmark characters rendered in CGI. The reimagined classic features an enticing plot full of slapstick mischief to enthral new audiences, and the right amount of tribute to satisfy fans of the original.

To celebrate the films release we have a delicious recipe inspired by Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tale of Petter Rabbit’ excerpted from: The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young, courtesy of Harper Collins.

Then old Mrs Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella, and went through the wood to the baker’s. She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter

Afternoon rain in Australia is often intense – it’s the kind that will drench you through to your bones in seconds. If I was caught in a deluge on my walk home from school, my backpack full of textbooks and sports kit, I could easily have reached for the umbrella underneath it all. In reality I almost never did. Instead, I took my shoes off, turned my face up towards the clouds and belted out ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at the top of my lungs. I jumped in puddles, and danced around, and sometimes even took the long way home. And when I finally walked through the front door, I had a hot shower, a toasted fruit bun spread generously with butter, and a cup of tea.

I still love being outside when it rains – especially when there’s the promise of tea, buns and a bath at the end of it. These are my favourites: dark, moist and full of flavour. The type of thing I imagine Peter would want after a tiring day stealing vegetables in Mr McGregor’s garden.

The recipe below makes wonderful hot cross buns each Easter, with a line of flour and water paste piped down the centre, but I love them unadorned through the rest of the year too. They’re ones I’ve developed from a Dan Lepard recipe: his Short and Sweet is a complete baking bible.87

Currant Buns (Makes 12)

Ingredients

150ml apple cider/hard cider (at room temperature)
2½tsp fast-action yeast
¾ cup rye flour
150ml double/heavy cream
4tsp mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
3tbsp honey
2 eggs
2¼ cups dried currants
3 cups strong white bread flour
¼ cup cornflour/cornstarch
1tsp salt

Glaze

2tbsp sugar
5tsp water
1tsp mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice

Method

1. Tip the cider, yeast and rye flour into a bowl. Stir and allow to bubble away for 30 minutes while you put your feet up and enjoy the rest of the bottle of cider over ice.

2. Warm the cream, mixed spice and honey over a low heat. Remove from the heat, beat in the eggs, then pour into the cider mix. Add the currants.

3. Sift in the flour, cornflour and salt, then mix by hand to form a sticky dough. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.

4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface (grease it with a little flavourless vegetable oil first, so it doesn’t stick) and knead for 10–20 seconds until noticeably smoother. This really won’t take long at all, so don’t over-knead it. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove for an hour.

5. Once visibly risen (it doesn’t need to double in size here), weigh the dough, and divide into 12 balls. Roll each under a clawed hand until smooth, then place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Leave about 1cm/⅜in between each – you want them to join up while they prove, so that you end up tearing them apart after they’re baked.

6. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and leave the buns to prove until they’ve doubled in size: about an hour.

7. When the buns are approaching the end of their prove, preheat your oven to 220ºC/425ºF. Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 15–18 minutes, until browned.

8. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, water and mixed spice. Reduce by half and remove from the heat.

9. Remove the buns from the oven, allow them to cool for a couple of minutes, then paint the glaze over the top. Serve warm, or toasted the next day.

About the Book: Paddington Bear’s marmalade, a Neopolitan pizza with Elena Ferrante, afternoon tea at Manderley… Here are 100 delicious recipes inspired by cookery writer Kate Young’s well-stocked bookshelves. From Before Noon breakfasts and Around Noon lunches to Family Dinners and Midnight Feasts, The Little Library Cookbook captures the magic and wonder of the meals enjoyed by some of our best-loved fictional characters.

About the Author: Kate Young is an Australian-born, London-based food writer and cook. After moving to the UK in 2009, she started her blog, thelittlelibrarycafe.com, which now has readers all over the world and is regularly featured in the Guardian.

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Wildscreen is the world’s leading international festival celebrating and advancing storytelling about the natural world.

For over 30 years our prestigious biennial Festival has been convening and celebrating the world’s best natural world storytellers.

Through collaboration with our ever-growing community of filmmakers, photographers, broadcasters, technologists and conservation organisations we aim to transform the craft of natural world storytelling across platforms and across audiences, ensuring as many people as possible experience the natural world, feel part of it and want to help protect it.

FESTIVAL PASSES ON SALE NOW @ wildscreen.org

During last year’s UK National Whale and Dolphin Watch, a record-breaking 1,529 hours of dedicated watches took place. Some 300 hours more than any previous occasion, this represents 2,500 volunteers all around the British Isles getting involved to report on the UK’s whale and dolphin species.

2017 was the sixteenth year that this huge citizen science scheme had taken place and clearly the event is building on popularity year on year. “It’s so important for people to join in helping us to track whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK waters. The Sea Watch Foundation database holds hundreds of thousands of records which are used by scientists and governments to inform research and policy on these wonderful animals” says Kathy James, Sightings Officer for Sea Watch. “By taking part, people are directly contributing to their conservation”.

Aside from the expansive effort put in by volunteers in 2017, there were also a huge number of whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings reported as part of the event. 1,410 records of cetaceans, the collective term for whales, dolphins and porpoises, were reported from land and at sea.

“The wonderful thing about watching for whales and dolphins in the UK is that you don’t necessarily have to get on a boat to see them” adds Kathy.

More than half of the reports received came from land-based volunteers stationed at one of 108 survey sites or those who were lucky enough to spot a cetacean as they went about their other business. Forty-eight vessels were also involved with the event, from pleasure craft and fishing vessels to ferries and cruise ships.

The reports received during the 2017 National Whale and Dolphin Watch amounted to around 6,500 individual animals “captured” by the survey, a powerful testament to citizen science.

This most recent effort also showed that on average around the UK, a cetacean could be spotted once an hour! North and East Scotland, South Devon, Cornwall and North-east England all had a greater sightings rate than the national average. These excellent cetacean-spotting areas clocked up between 1 and 5 animals per hour on average per site.

Eleven different cetacean species were seen in UK waters during the National Whale and Dolphin Watch. All in all, 29 species of cetacean have been recorded in UK waters although only fourteen are recorded regularly. Seeing a good proportion of these in just nine days goes to show what people can achieve when they work together.

Sea Watch Foundation are seeking volunteers to come forward to take part in the National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 this summer, which takes place 28th July – 5th August. Surveys can take place from your favourite or closest bit of coastline and boat-users are urged to get in touch too. No experience is necessary as the team at Sea Watch will offer you training and advice on how to take part.

Find out more about the event: seawatchfoundation.org.uk

Whilst UK gears up for their annual watch, Jonas Liebschner, a photographer and guide with Whale Watching Sydney, releases ‘Whales of Sydney: and other visitors to our shores’. The book due out in March 2018, beautifully documents the annual migration of whales past the coast of Sydney through engaging photography. Their behaviors and the interaction between them have changed our understanding of the whale’s importance and the need to protect them for future generations.

New Holland Publishers, ISBN: 9781925546132

Sera Wright’s stunning shots of pastel pink sunsets, pristine beaches and glittering seas have earned her a legion of Instagram fans.

But the self-taught landscape and travel photographer doesn’t just want to share pretty pictures—she’s sending an important conservation message.

Through her striking images taken around Australia and overseas, the digital influencer from Byron Bay hopes to inspire others to appreciate and protect nature.

“I hope that my photos will inspire people to get outside, explore and travel to as many destinations as possible,” she says.

“I am extremely passionate about nature and conservation, and I use my photography to raise awareness and educate people on why it’s so important to care for our amazing country and planet.”

It’s this environmental ethos, combined with her creative talents, that lead to her appointment on the judging panel for The Nature Conservancy’s 2017 photo competition.

The competition aims to inspire Australians to engage with nature through photography and celebrate Australia’s natural beauty, and Sera is looking forward to being on the other side of the fence as a judge this year.

“I am a big believer in photography inspiring people to get outside and appreciate nature, so I can’t wait to see what the Australian public deliver in this year’s competition.”

One of Australia’s top social media influencers, Wright boasts more than 54,000 Instagram followers and has worked on tourism campaigns for the likes of Olympus Australia, Canon Australia, Intrepid Travel, Singapore Airlines and Destination NSW.

Her beautifully-crafted web and Instagram pages are filled with pastel-hued summer skies in Byron Bay, turtles swimming on the Great Barrier Reef, Samoan waterfalls and unexpected pockets of natural beauty.

For Sera, one of the biggest keys to innovative nature photography is ensuring optimum lighting conditions, and advises shooting close to sunrise and sunset.

Other tips include using people in landscape shots to add an extra element of interest, photographing scenes you personally connect to, and finding a point of difference, like a new angle or perspective.

She dismisses the two thirds rule of conventional composition as not essential, but says “leading lines”, which draw the eye to the subject of the photo, is a good technique.

Wright believes photography can be a valuable tool in creating change and educating the community, particularly on issues like the environment and conservation.

“With social media, you can reshare and repost photos, articles, videos, and other digital content around the world and create a movement.”

More and more people are jumping onboard and realising what an important role photography has in helping create awareness of the environmental issues around the world—especially when it comes to climate change, the decline in the Great Barrier Reef, and endangered species and their habitats.

But she is concerned that there’s not enough respect for the environment in the quest for the ultimate, Instagram-able photo.

“I believe that as photographers, influencers and visual artists we have a responsibility to encourage others to do the right thing,” she says.

I see a lot of photos on social media of people or photographers standing in a location which is restricted or prohibited entry due to the fragile environment (Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, Queensland for example) just to get ‘the shot’. We should be promoting the right thing to do, how to help conserve the ecosystem and environment and planet on which we live.

Wright became interested in landscapes and wildlife at an early age, watching David Attenborough documentaries on repeat and flicking through National Geographic magazines at home.

Now 35 years old, Sera owned her first camera at the age of 10 and learned the basics at high school, but only taught herself the rest when photography turned digital.

Sera feels blessed to have grown up in the nature lover’s paradise of Byron Bay, and has fond memories of spending her childhood exploring the great outdoors.

“I think being brought up camping and out in nature most weekends and school holidays, instead of going on holidays to resorts or cities, made a massive impact on me at an early age. I’m so thankful to my parents for bringing me up this way. It made me appreciate the natural world and learn the importance of protecting and conserving the world around us early on.

“Without a healthy environment, ecosystem and planet, we won’t have a world to live on. Every species on this planet has a role, a purpose and needs to be saved. The Nature Conservancy’s photo competition is a great opportunity for photographers of all levels to raise awareness on these important issues.”

Categories for the photo competition include landscape, wildlife, water, urban, nature, people in nature and whacky wildlife. There will also be a People’s Choice winner, so even if you’re not a photographer, you will still be able to participate by voting for your favourite photo.

The photo competition runs from September 18 – October 27, 2017.

To learn more or enter a photo, visit natureaustralia.org.au/photo and for more information on Sera visit photographybyronbay.com.au

The world’s most prestigious mountain film festival is coming back to Australia: the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour presents over two-and-a-half hours of the most enthralling mountain adventure films that will have you on the edge of your seat.

This year we will recreate a world first with an adventurous trio of paddlers, take a long hike in the desert with Ace and his human companion, attempt heinous chossy, run out new climbing routes in Venezuela and take an impossible ride on a mountain bike with skill master Danny MacAskill. We’ll go on a personal journey back to the infamous Totem Pole, in Tasmania, with an unrelenting climber, join a band of crazy French musicians over a cavernous gorge, ski remote and untouched slopes in Iran and take to the sky with a crew of inexperienced but tenacious paragliders as they attempt to bring their dreams to life.

Get ready to experience incredible highs and agonising lows through the lenses of some of the most accomplished climbers, paddlers, skiers, snowboarders, mountaineers, mountain bikers, explorers and adventure filmmakers alive today. You’ll be planning your next adventure before the credits roll!

Presented by World Expeditions, The Banff Mountain Film Festival Australia Tour will show at various locations from April – June 2017. banffaustralia.com.au