Greetings reader!

Today is a very good day for you if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site Four Senses- Touch Smell Taste Sound! As you’ll lose yourself in hours and hours of reading, and leave with a long list of things to try, be that restaurants, recipes, products, or stuff to hear or do. Please feel free to click on the different category tags to read all the different posts we’ve accumulated over time.

The majority of posts aren’t time sensitive, so don’t limit yourself to only reading the most recent posts, but check out the vast archive of Restaurant Reviews we’ve compiled (which we’ll keep adding to on a weekly basis).

We’ll keep adding more recipes for you to try, when we can certify that they have been tried and tested by us, and proven not to give us (or you) the runs. Haaha.

Check out our Kombucha journal where we’ve documented our steps to success, and will journal our future batches as we experiment with different flavours and ingredients. Our journal is detailed enough so you can replicate and produce a brew which will rival a store-bought beverage.   

And each time we come across some good products which we think you might also like, we’ll post these things under ‘Product Recommendations’ so you’ll have all the details if you want to check them out.

We’re also known for being eclectic in our listening tastes, which include music albums, podcasts, audio books and rando stuff from Netflix, so we’ll post recommendations as we come across some good stuff which you might like to see and hear.

And there’s just so many things to see and do in Ol’ Sydney Town, so we’ll post up monthly lists of what festivals and activities you can partake in; we have a Live Gig guide which we’ll update on a regular basis; and we’ll explore a Sydney suburb each month and we’ll document each step of the way so you can replicate our travels if you like.

So in short, if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site! Happy days! As you’ve just uncovered a whole entire avenue of cool stuff to read, interact with and try! So don’t be a stranger, bookmark our site and check back often as we’ll be uploading posts several times a week. We guarantee that each time you visit there will always be something new for you to Touch Smell Taste and Hear!    

Audiobook recommendation- Harry Potter series

It is finished.

Can you believe it? After 6 long months, we’ve finally finished all 7 books of the Harry Potter series! We literally listened to a chapter per night, and as soon as one book ended, we embarked on the next and after 180+ nights of this, it is finished!!!!

And has it left a Harry Potter shaped gaping hole in our lives? According to my wife, “I feel all empty inside.” Was her response to me after coming home from work the first evening after we’d finished Deafly Hallows. But for me? I was left reeling from the ending. As the first time when I had listened to the Deafly Hallows, I had actually unknowingly skipped the second last chapter! Yes, I only came to this realisation 2 nights ago, so for the past 12 -13 years? However long it has been, I had always thought that the ending of the Harry Potter series was one big, massive disappointment! If you do recall the third last chapter, this was where Harry Potter was in that dream like after life scene, speaking to dumbledore where Dumbledore explains a whole bunch of things which fills in the gaps for both Harry and the listener, before he informs Harry that he had an option to stay or to go back and fight.

And for me, the next scene was 19 years later when Harry has his own kids and their about to start school at Hogwarts. So, you can imagine my shock when this time round Harry leaves the dream state and he awakens in the forest, surrounded by Death Eaters, and there’s actually a final showdown between HP and Voldemort and the tying up of some loose ends. Mind blown! Throughout that chapter I kept muttering under my breath, ‘is this a re-imagining?’ As to me it felt like a fanfiction, a re-writing  of the ending, to end in a more satisfying way according to diehard fans!? But no, it was just silly me from 12 -13 years ago, I probably fell asleep during the first listening and had entirely skipped this chapter (and I hadn’t seen the movie ither). So now that we’ve finally finished the Harry Potter saga after 6 long months leaving my wife in a funk,  but for me it has entirely changed my perception of the series and  it has left me in a greater appreciation of the artistry of J. K. Rowling!

And a big special mention to Stephen Fry, I think he really made the audiobook version of Harry Potter amazing! I think he brought each character to life and in my wife’s opinion the Audiobooks have been better than the books and better than the movies. As the movies were too brief, and the novels relied upon the reader to do all the hard work. But the audiobook was the perfect coming together of the two medias, to create a 100+ hour long feature length film for your ears and your imagination!

So again, if you haven’t listened to the books before, and you’re a massive Harry Potter fan! Check-out the audiobook version, it’s pretty special!

Audiobook recommendation- And Then She Vanished

How I too, became a time traveller!

‘Included’, isn’t that the best single word to Audible subscribers!? And how chuffed am I since Audible introduced Audible Plus, an all-you-can-listen smorgasbord of select audio books, podcasts, and original Audible content, and here is where I found ‘And Then She Vanished’ by Nick Jones, the indicator that it was included in the all-you-can-listen catalogue was that single word “Included”! Yay!

  I have to admit, the title of a book heavily influences whether or not I’d ever listen to it. Perhaps it’s because I’m blind, and I’m not drawn in by the pretty colours and illustrations of a book jacket, so if the book title itself sounds boring? I don’t invest the 30 seconds to click into the title and read the blurb. And “And Then She Vanished”, was almost a victim of this character flaw of mine. To me, the title didn’t speak to me. However, when I saw it again listed under Science Fiction, I clicked in, as I was now intrigued as the title originally suggested of a run of the mill Murder Mystery, but it was science fiction and I wanted to know why?

And if you’re like me, and was going to pass-up on it? Don’t! The book is darn good, darn good.

So, the story’s protagonist Joseph Bridgeman (a 30 something guy), lives alone in his old family home, haunted by the past- where his younger 7 year old sister vanished back in the late 90s never to be seen again. The incident caused the gradual unravelling of his family and particularly Joseph’s life, and where the novel starts Joe hasn’t been able to sleep for days, he hasn’t left the home in a while, he’s all out of food and the bank is going to repossess the family home- all that he has now. Then he’s talked into seeing a psychiatrist to help him with his sleep problems and whilst practicing the relaxation methods, he accidently time travels back in time. And once he comes to grips with his newfound ability, his mind entertains the thought “what if he travels back in time to the day when his sister goes missing, could he save her?” Which would then right all the wrongs which plagues his family after her disappearance!?

Sounds interesting right?

And let me tell you, the book doesn’t disappoint! It’s thought provoking, as the concept of time travel is so intriguing that my wife and I had to stop the recording several times, just to discuss the theory of time  travel. Multiple times we thought that Nick Jones had incorrectly captured the outcomes of travelling back in time and space, but I think Nick did get it correct in the end.

And when the book was starting to unfold, we started to think, “was the sudden disappearance of his sister? Could it have been the result of Joe’s meddling as a time traveller?” But you’ll just have to read the book for yourself, to find out how the story unfolds.

And in the process, I too came to the realisation that I too was a time traveller! Yes, I am a time traveller! And let me explain.

So, living here in Australia, as a blind person we have access to the Vision Australia Talking book library service. So long before Audible came onto the scene, I was already listening to FREE audio books. Now this library wasn’t like the 2 shelves found in your local library, which housed a limited assortment of cassette tapes, but we’re talking about thousands and thousands of titles! From what I’ve heard, it was a huge warehouse like space with shelves and shelves housing countless containers of cassette tapes, a robot arm was required to retrieve the containers off the shelves, so they could be mailed out to their Vision Australia Library users.

And since I’ve been blind (2003), I’ve seen the Vision Australia library service evolve. When I first joined they had started to phase out four track cassette players and their accompanying four track cassettes. Then it was the gradual phasing out of two sided cassettes, to be  replaced by standard Compact Discs (which actually occupied the shortest stint). Then it was the introduction of the DAISY player and DAISY CDs, and at that time it was revolutionary! As here were single standard CDs which could store 20+hours of audio recordings! And you have several options now, you could wait for the VA library to send you your single CD in the mail, or you could burn your own copy onto your own blank CDs so now it was close to on-demand, or later on with a portable audio player you could download the title straight to a SD card and do away with the wastage of buying blank CDs!  What would they think of next- so I thought? And finally, the VA Smart phone app was introduced, and all titles were streamed from a cloud based library, which brought it in-line with how we access most of our medias these days. So, in a way I’ve been brought up on the idea of free all-you-can-listen to audiobooks, but here is where I started to realise I’m a time traveller.

If you can imagine, the average Vision Australia Library user is probably an older person, as deteriorating vision is often associated to age related illnesses. And you can imagine, once an audio book has been recorded (oftentimes as a result of donations to pay for a professional narrator, or narrated by an untrained volunteer), of course those recordings will not be discarded when the physical title is digitalised. So, you can imagine the types of books which are available in the Vision Australia Library catalogue aimed at this population. You’ve got narrators with prim proper British accents, who sounded like they laid down their audio tracks all the way back in the 1950s (but realistically it was probably the 80s). And you can also imagine the types of stories they were reading- yep, Cold war stories about espionage between the old world order.

And I remember how happy I used to be, when I could get my hands on books about modern conflicts, like accounts from the first Gulf war…… From back in 1990…. Ok, ok, I’m probably exaggerating  a bit now. But being totally honest, a new book in the VA catalogue would be a title from 2008, if the book referred to a modern day time like the early 00s, it would blow me away by its recency!

But now with Audible Plus, the titles you’ll find in there all-you-can-listen-to catalogue are NEW++!I’m not talking about titles which have sold enough copies, that the Author has approved them to be offered ‘free of charge’. But take ‘And Then She Vanished’, it has a copyright date of 2021! Yes, from last year! And the second book in the series, is also included in Audible Plus! It’s almost hard to fathom why they’re giving it away for free, if it’s so brand spanking new!?

So, all of a sudden I’m a time traveller, even last year the majority of books I was binging from the VA library (because they were free), were titles where if the protagonist operated a PC computer, I was already blown away! But now, I’m taring through the Audible Plus catalogue, and the characters have freakin’ Smart phones! Yes! Freakin’ Smart phones! It’s like I’ve time travelled 30 years into the future! Amazing!

So, if you’d like to check out ‘And Then She Vanished’ by Nick Jones, and other awesome Audio books. Just search for them in your Audible app, or consider subscribing? Currently there’s a 2 month free trial offer going on! Check it out, you’ll see why listening to books is the best way to consume a good story!  

Netflix recommendations- Buy My House (season 1

What did we learn from ‘Buy My House’?

I’d explain it as Shark Tank meets Selling Sunset. And that is no exaggeration, as a panel of 4 property investors listen to a pitch presented by the homeowner, before the panel put forward their bids to own that piece of property!

We enjoyed it as who doesn’t like a sneaky beak into someone else’s home! And who doesn’t like to see the true value placed on bricks and mortar. So, in 6 half hour episodes a handful of sellers find out whether or not they’ll be walking away with a cash deal for their home, or be served with a cold harsh reality check, that their home perhaps isn’t worth as much as they imagined it to be. A famous Australian line comes to mind ‘Tell’em they’re dreaming!”. But it’s great to see that the majority walk away happy, and in the cases where Glenn Kelman (CEO of Redfin) is successful in his bid? Down the track there will be another happy family, moving into a newly refurbished affordable home!

What had we learnt from the show?

United States is huge! We had a reasonable understanding of US geography, but we’re even more clued in now after the 6 eps. So much useable/liveable space out there!?

Houses can be affordable! Now if you live in Sydney Australia, seeing those US home prices almost makes you want to cry. Sure, they’re talking US dollars, but where in Sydney can you buy a free standing home for under $400K? But in the United States you can!

Negotiation tactics. We’re pretty bad with negotiating, especially I! Perhaps I don’t want to come off looking like the ‘cheap Asian’, so the several times I put in a bid, I’ve actually offered a couple Gs above asking. As I want to be victorious with my first blow! But seeing those Property moguls’ low ball the sellers. It was quite incredible. A few tactics I’m going to exercise the next time we go property shopping. Moohaaha!

The role of the Agent. And as much as we enjoyed seeing the buyer and seller coming together in ‘Buy My House’, however several times you do hear the Property Tycoons, lamenting the reason why they don’t like meeting the sellers. As it puts a face and story to their situation, which then makes it more difficult to low ball them. Haaha. So yeah, let the Agent do all the work on your behalf!

And no one wants a condo! And I’ve heard it a thousand times, land is land and you must always have land! And in this hot property market, only homes on land are selling at a premium, while condos (apartments to us Aussies), they’re not selling at all! From the two condos which appeared on the show, if I remember correctly, neither of them sold. Boo!

So yeah, a quick glimpse into the “real” real estate market in the US, and the format of the show made it fun and insightful! If you want to check out ‘Buy My House’, just search for it in your Netflix app! Now who wants a holiday home in the US!? I  know I do!  

Product recommendations- Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRay

Could it be the best Short-scale bass out there?

Unlike my three part Hofner 500/2 Product recommendation post from last month, there’s no need to devote an entire post on the thought process to buy this bass, because I was sold from the get-go! How can I not be? Being a Leo Fender fanboy, it was natural for me to follow his next step in his evolution as he moved from Fender and started Music Man, and now that the Import line ‘Sterling’ was producing an affordable Short-scale, it was a no brainer!

But the biggest challenge was ‘how to get my hands on one?’ As the first store where I placed my online order with, I was informed that there was going to be a 6 – 12 month wait before the next shipment arrived in Australia. What the! But when asked if I wanted a refund, now that I knew it was going to be 2023 before I got the StingRay into my hands. I told them ‘Hell no’, because if I decided 12 months later that I still wanted one, the chances were that I’ll be waiting for a further 12 months after that to get a StingRay, and that would be 2024 by then……

So, the purchase was made, and I was settled in for a long wait. And as one evening as I aimlessly perused ‘Bass Centre’s web-site (I usually don’t peruse, as I just rely on the product pop-up which appears at the top of Google searches), but this time I just felt like scrolling down Bass Centre’s Short-scale bass guitar page, going through a guitar at a time, and low and behold! They had 3 Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRays in stock, in the colour which I preferred (Olympic white). And not only did they have the StingRay, but they also had the last Hofner 500/2 in stock as well! So that evening I bought them both! Moohaaha!

Shipping was going to take a couple of days, and the battle plan was that as soon as the Sterling arrived, I’d ask for a refund from the first music store. So yeah, I unboxed the StingRay late on a Wednesday evening, made sure it played and that was that. To bed as it was midnight.

The very next day, I get a text on my phone, stating that my StingRay had been shipped and was due to arrive in the next 2 days! What the!? Wasn’t that first bass not going to arrive until at least April 2023!? So, after several attempts to stop shipment before it made the Newcastle to Sydney journey down to us- at the courier depo we thought had been successful as the customer service representative told us that they will retrieve the package and return it to sender. But it eventually showed up on our doorstep, we were advised to just tell the courier driver to take it back with him, but he adamantly refused, and all of a sudden I had 2 short supply Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRays! Lucky me! Right? But yeah, we ended up sending the other back to the store, took a $20 hit with shipment costs, but at least we weren’t stuck with 2 $1,499 guitars!

So how is the StingRay and how does it play?

First impression was that it’s light in weight, I already thought the Fender Mustang was light, but the StingRay was even lighter than that! Due to the cut-out at the back where the guitar hugs your body, and the slight cut-away at the bass of the guitar where your forearm rests when playing. I love the body shape, with the deep sweeping shoulders, I’m assuming this is how it got its name as the ‘StingRay’. And in my mind’s eye at least, I love the gleaming white of the guitar, it came in both Olympic white and Daphne Blue (a pail blue), but I think the white suits the guitar better.

The knock on the quality is the untreated nature of the neck wood. It’s not lacquered nor has a satin finish like the Fender. Instead, it feels a bit like a rustic table leg. Which first annoyed me a little bit, as I didn’t like the feel of it in my hands. But as time has passed and I’ve played it more, the wood has actually gotten smoother, just from handling. So, I do find myself rubbing the back of the neck whenever I have a down moment in-between songs, to hasten up its path to utter smoothness!

And the second issue I had with the fit and finish, was the single pickup- as it floats. So, just the smallest amount of pressure on it, the pickup sinks down, but springs right back up once you remove the pressure. At first I just thought it needed a few extra turns of the screw, which I then proceeded to do. But the pickup actually sits in a recess in the guitar, so after 6 or 7 rotations of my screwdriver the screw was still boring its way into the body of the guitar. So much so that I ended up having a lop sided pickup, where the left side of the pickup was noticeably lower. And when I played it, the booming sound was actually 50% less. So, it seems like the height in which it first came, that was the proper setting, so I went about reversing what I had done, returning it back to its original height where it sounded thumping again! So, I guess I just have to put up with the floaty feel of the pickup.

The Sterling has a single Neodymium Pickup, positioned towards the bridge of the guitar, so the character of its voice is a deep clear tone. The strings are awesome! They have a great spring feel to them, and of course they’re good as they’re Ernie Ball strings! The bass has three nobs, a tone and volume nob, and in-between them is a three way twist nob, which cycles through Parallel (a more mellow tone), True Single-Coil (a little louder and booming), and Series Mode (louder and more booming still). And if Series Mode is not enough for you, the volume has a push boost, which pops the button out, giving you at least a 20% sound boost! Which is plenty loud, very loud in-fact for a home set-up. Haaha.

And for the first time, with all the guitars which I own, the StingRay is the first guitar which doesn’t have an issue of fret buzz. Which I’m so thankful for. And I’d say it has the best tone from the lot. It has a deep clean sound to it, a modern sound which isn’t grungy nor retro  sounding. A nice deep sound to be played with modern genres of music. As mentioned before the strings are great to play, the guitar is light so you can play for hours on end. And the neck feel is only getting better with time! So, I’d say it is probably the best Short-scale bass out there at the moment! And I highly recommend it.

So, if you’d like to read more about the Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRay bass, and if you’d like to own one yourself (there’s 2 more in stock at the Bass Centre), just click HERE! And let them know that sent you……

Netflix recommendations- Instant Dream Home (Season 1

Or was it Dream Home Makeover? *Shrug*.

One particular gripe I have with Netflix, is the lack of imagination when it comes to naming their shows! Half of the time I pass on programs due to the fact that the name of the show doesn’t grab my attention, and the one sentence blurb doesn’t do it either. But as you know, 95% of the time the show is amazing! But it just needs a show title ‘makeover’ of its own.

And that’s the case for ‘Instant Dream Home’, which sounds all too similar to their other home renovation show ‘Dream Home Makeover’. *Confused Look*. At least on 2 occasions, I asked our Google Home to play the incorrect show, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Although the show titles are eerily similar, however they’re quite dissimilar when it comes down to it- as Instant Dream Home is a home renovation show on copious amounts of PEDs! Not only are the homeowners completely unaware that their home is being made over, but the transformation is achieved in under 12 hours! Yes! 12 hours! And it’s not just one room, or a smallish space which realistically could be made over in the given time, but the transformation occurs to the entire house! Both inside and out, and inclusive of the front and back yards! And no, its not just a team of 5 handymen, but it’s 200! Yes! 2 0 0 human beings! And not only do they achieve the task due to overwhelming man-power, but they bring in the big guns as well! A forklift is a given, but they even use a helicopter in one build, and a high tech robot to do the heavy lifting! I’d say it’ll be up there with the largest budget shows for Netflix!?

So over 8 episodes the core team made up of Paige Mobley (Stylist), Adair Curtis (Interior Designer), Erik Curtis (Carpenter), Nick Cutsumpas (Landscaper), and host and comedic relief Danielle Brooks sweep into a property early in the morning (7am), and keep going and going until 7pm when the unknowing family returns home. The camera crew focuses on the 5 as they trouble-shoot their way through various problems during their whirlwind 12 hour build. And throughout the show it cuts over to footage from weeks prior, during planning meetings and test runs as they plan and trial their design creations in their project warehouse (not always to success).

My wife kept exclaiming throughout the season “Surely one of them has to be an Engineer!” As they demolished walls, added annexes to homes, and generally transformed old, tired houses into nothing the homeowner could ever dream of! But sure enough, armed with only a Carpenter as the most technical of their team, they re-built the homes, to a level when the owners eventually come back, they could barely recognised their old cribs anymore! And the looks on their faces? PRICELESS!?

Being suckers for a feel good reality TV show, Instant Dream Home hit on all marks with us! Only if they had an Australian version of this, as we have 2 tired bathrooms and a crumbling kitchen desperate for a rapid makeover!

To check out Instant Dream Home, just click HERE! And instant ‘warm & fuzzy’ feeling coming your way!

Product recommendations- Hofner Contemporary 500/2 Club Bass (Part 3

How the Club bass plays & sounds!

‘A small package, possessing a big punch’, would be the best way to describe the Hofner. Although it’s the lightest bass I own, with the lightest gauge strings, however it has the loudest and deepest bass tone of them all! Go figure?

But the secret sauce is in its hollow body, and no doubt in those German staple and toaster pick-ups, therefore the lightest flick of a finger to start the reverb, the deep bass sound already booms from my simple practice amp. So, in that respects, it makes it super easy to play. As it requires so little effort to get a satisfying sound from your bass.

And there’s so many tonal variations to play with! There are 2 volume nobs, one to adjust the volume of the neck pick-up, the other to adjust the bridge pick-up. And there’s three switches to flick between treble or bass, and the other two essentially switches off one or the other of the pick-ups. Flick them both off, and you essentially stop all electronic feed to your amp (not recommended). So, turning the neck pick-up all the way to 100% and bridge all the way down- results in the loud deep bass tone which I had previously been gushing about. Twist the bridge pick-up to 100% as well  and you get a nice, moderated sound, the hollow body tone (in which you bought the Hofner for), immediately comes to the party. And turning the neck pick-up down to 0% while keeping the bridge at 100%, gives you the full hollow body ‘Beatle’ sound. So cool! So cool!

The only downside of the toned down bass sound is that the quieter sound now exposes the fact that I have fret buzz when playing a G on the E-string. Argh! It’s super annoying. And looking at the bridge, to date I haven’t worked out how to adjust and increase the string’s action to eliminate the buzz. So, to date I’ve just been putting up with it. *Grumble, grumble*

The playability of the Hofner is absolutely effortless, the smallest of flicks will make the strings sing! So, you can play for hours without having your fingers start to smart with every pluck and pull. Meanwhile the downsides of the playing experience to date has been the proximity of the strings. As the distance between the strings remain the same distance from each other, from nut to bridge. Therefore, it does require some getting use to, when switching from a conventional electric bass guitar to the Hofner. I honestly can’t see how people with thicker fingers than mine could play the Hofner, as there’s little space between the strings to get in there and do a clean pluck. So, it usually takes me a couple of songs to adjust to the narrow spacing.

And the distance between frets is closer than a conventional Short Scale bass guitar, so again it takes a little while for your muscle memory to adjust to the closer frets. I imagine this would be even more of a shock to the system for those who are accustomed to the Full Scale 34 inch bass, as this is a a SSS (Super Short Scale).

But overall, I’m pleased with the sound and playability of the Hofner CT 500/2, It has super deep bass tones which belies its size; possesses tonal variation which could keep you entertained for ours blending in and out the two pick-ups; that classic  hollow body sound which can’t be replicated by a non-hollow body; super light so it’ll never break your back; effortless to play so you can just keep playing for hours and hours; and the finish is perfect as well, hand gliding up and down it’s silky smooth neck.

So, my end verdict, is that I’m super pleased with my Hofner Contemporary 500/2 Club bass, I’ve got the sound that I want, it looks gorgeous, and it’s a lot of fun. If you want to buy your very own Hofner CT 500/2, just click HERE! Happy shopping!