TOPICS: Love your work, Alana

TOPICS doesn’t know much about surfing, though we bowl a mean game of ten-pin (bumper bowling only).

But we gather that Alana Blanchard, the Hawaiian boardrider who’s here for Surfest, is kind of a big deal.

Blanchard, 22, has been ranked as highly as seventh in the world, models bikinis in her spare time and featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. 

In fact, type ‘‘Alana Blanchard’’ into Google and it auto-fills with ‘‘Alana Blanchard bikinis’’.

So it caused a ripple or two at Merewether when Blanchard seemed to hit it off with Queenslander and world junior champ Jack Freestone, 20.

What a life, eh? He’s even got a coffee.

You can meet Freestone, Joel Parkinson, Mark Occhilupo and other surfing luminaries at a signing session at Sanbah surf shop in The Junction today between 5.30-6.30pm.

Tawny spotting

PREVIOUSLY in Topics: the Browns were worried. 

There’d been no sign of the beloved tawny frogmouths in their yard since January’s record heatwave. Had it all been too much for them, and the other Hunter tawnies, to survive?

The Myers family of Warners Bay, sadly, have a similar story to the Browns.

‘‘We moved into a lovely new home next to a reserve in Warners Bay last August,’’ say the Myers.

The family had been delighted to find, most days, up to five tawnies at a time perched outside their windows. There were more tucked away in the reserve.

‘‘By coincidence, we were recently discussing with our lovely neighbours how they have just disappeared since the extreme weather,’’ they told us. 

‘‘We will miss them.’’

But chin up. There’s better news from East Maitland. Carina Francis found four tawny frogmouths in a tree next to her house – on February 4. They stayed for two days, then moved on.

And Matt Lewis keeps finding one in his family’s backyard in Mayfield, mostly in the evenings and early mornings.

‘‘We believe it is attracted to an owl statue we have in our backyard,’’ says Matt.

‘‘This photo of the adult tawny on our clothesline was snapped on the night of the February 18.’’

We ran the photo by a NSW Environment spokesman, who confirmed it was a tawny frogmouth ‘‘looking for insects in the backyard, no doubt’’. 

Prolific Peter

SELF-described president of the Punching Above His Weight Society Peter Fitzsimons spoke at Charlestown this month, as we previewed.

Lisa Wilkinson’s other half told the Central Leagues Club audience that he bought his trademark red bandana in Spain. His son said it looked cool, which was all the excuse he needed. Presumably, they weren’t at the running of the bulls.

The former Wallaby and now author is keen to tackle a book about the Sydney Opera House once he finishes the one he’s working on about Ned Kelly. Seriously. The guy churns out books like we change Facebook status.

The lunch raised cash for Central Newcastle Rugby League Football Club, and Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell offered to reward anyone who donated $500.

Mr Cornwell decreed that such a generous donor would be entitled to have his or her lawn mown (by him), and share a case of beer (with him).

Dave Sheerin from Dudley took him up. Apparently his yard is pretty small, so the afternoon could be largely devoted to beer. Ah, NSW politics.

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