Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stage fright

Thank goodness that's over. Stage fright. In front of a live audience. Talking. Worse still, being asked questions. And yet somehow we survived. The good thing was that I wasn't alone. I had my good mate Tracy, our magazine's cookery whizz, along to share in the whole stage fright experience with me. A pair of newbies, and we managed all right. Although I talked too much (not the first time that's happened, won't be the last, either). Sorry, Tracy!

This is what I mean. There's a home-show style of event happening in Sydney now called 30 Days of Home & Entertaining, and our magazine set up the 'garden' component out in the former car park. Included in the garden is a little stage for talks and demos, etc. This is its first weekend of opening, and yesterday Tracy and I were one of the opening acts on Day One. The 12.30 show, then the same show again at 2.30. Tracy made and cooked yummy Thai-style chicken skewers, while I talked about growing coriander and limes. During the show, caterers came out with trays of skewers cooked to Tracy's recipe for the audience to munch on. There's nothing like a free feed to keep audiences happy! If you want the recipe (and the coriander growing tips), they're here.

In a moment I'll show you the 'before' shot of the area we set up, but this is it before the gates opened. Haybale seats with cushion covers, huge potted fig trees laden with fruit, hundreds of French lavenders in bloom, olive trees, surprisingly realistic fake grass, even a chook shed with Silkie chooks in the corner. It looked really pretty, a credit to the design and construction team, especially Nic, the guy in charge of construction, and Don, who came up with the design concept.

Here's that chook shed with its gaggle of chooks. During our talk one of them even laid an egg and started clucking loudly about her achievement. How farmyard can you get! It doesn't say much for my talk, but I think the chook laying its egg was the highlight of that hour.

Here and there were espaliered citrus trees. In this corner, a Eureka lemon, in another a wrinkly, thorny Thai makrut lime. There were huge galvanised iron tanks filled with soil and planted out with vegies, and other pots filled with water were planted with taro and water chestnuts. Everywhere you looked there was something interesting growing.

This is the 'before' shot. A week before the show, it was the warehouse parking lot, with an ugly electrical transformer down one end. The ground is lumpy, sort of slopes right to left. Seeing this grim looking starting point, the final result is even more admirable.

This is Bruce the Chook Expert, who followed us, and there's nothing Bruce doesn't know about chooks. Behind him in the purple shirt is Christine, the person who makes things happen. She's a producer, organiser, fixer of problems, can do woman extraordinaire. Needless to say she made sure Tracy and I stayed on schedule and turned a nervous first-timer's bout of Stage Fright into pretty good fun in the end.

The audiences weren't that big, less than 50 people each time, and they were lovely. All of them were into their herb, fruit and vegie growing and had good questions that lasted all the way to the end of our allotted time, God bless 'em.

On the right you can see those big galvanised steel vegie tanks I mentioned earlier. They looked really good overflowing with salad greens and herbs.

And hopefully I won't have to ever do any more live performances on stage again! It all actually went quite well, and Christine said we did OK, so that's all that matters in the end.

Final footnote: for the first time ever on my blog, all photos are brought to you by mobile phone. Most are mine, but naturally enough the photos of Tracy and me onstage come from Christine's iPhone. They're getting better, these mobile phone cameras!


Shailaja said...

Your talk seems to have been received well, going by the rapt attention on the faces of the audience! The transformation of the warehouse parking lot is awe-inspiring. The back-drop to the stage (in the last pic) was just perfect. I am wondering, though, if the galvanised steel veggie tanks shown there aren’t a little too deep to grow just salad greens and herbs.

patientgardener said...

I couldnt beleive the before shot, amazing what you can do.
I dont envy you having to stand up in front of people, my idea of hell, but at least you did it and survived - well done!

Chandramouli S said...

Congratulations on your first, Jamie and I'm sure you'd do good in future too. The transformation was amazing! I love the lemons! Nice touch and the seats with hay were brilliant! May be you should keep doing this often as you have lots of knowledge to be shared!