Wednesday, April 8, 2020


What I've Been Reading

Notes from a Small Island and Neither Here Nor There - Bill Bryson - I am re-listening to these classics as read by the author himself. Notes is Bill exploring England and it's quirky little towns after he moved there from the States. Neither is Bill exploring Europe based on his original backpackers tour in the 70s with Katz (who we know from A Walk in the Woods) but as an adult. Both are filled with his quirky and clever observations and that wry wit, made all the more amusing by him reading it himself. I love these books and return to them again and again.

The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag - this is a lovely biography about the famous Durrell Family, of the television show The Durrells, which was based on the books by Gerald Durrell of his childhood on the island of Corfu with his family. It delves into their lives pre and post Corfu and pulls together the facts of what did happen on Corfu. As Gerry wrote the book of his childhood later in life, he took a little poetic license on some of the tales. So this book pulls together - as best as one can - the life of this wonderful bohemian family. I really enjoyed being back in their world. I always do.

Auctioneer by Simon de Pury and William Stadiem - This was a fascinating insight into working for the big auction art houses. Simon is known as the Mick Jagger of the Art world and he has all the tales to tell, from being a green young guy to the experienced seller he is today. Great behind the scenes stories of art and extravangance and Sothebys.

Growing up African by Magan Magan, Ahmed Yusuf and Maxine Beneba  Clarke - another in this great collection of Australian writers, this time writing about being African in Australia. Tales of heartbreak, humour, survival, love, and wisdom. Every book in this series is really worth reading.

The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole - this was a great little book about books. It is about the wonder of books, how they are put together, how people read them, how some people write in them, what they mean and why they are beloved and on it goes. It was a great and enjoyable read.

A Psychic's Life by Michael Bodine - This probably needed a better edit, Michael tends to ramble a bit, which is a shame as there were some interesting and chilling stories within. Michael grew up in a family of psychics and steered away from the business for a while as he mentioned constantly through the book. Probably only for people really interested in the subject matter.

By Sea and Stars: The Story of the First Fleet by Trent Dalton - this was a lovely little book, beautifully written by Trent Dalton. Based on a lot of research from the State Library NSW that has a lot of diaries and First Fleet first hand information. Dalton tracks a young boy who travels to this harsh land and what happened on the way from the research. I am sure a little liberty took place, but it was easy to understand and interesting. It also looked at both sides of the coin in terms of the invaders Vs the original land owners, the indigenous.

Fake by Stephanie Wood - I remember reading the original article that this books was based on. It sucked me right in and horrified me. It was written journalist, Wood, and is about the man she met online who after 18 months of dating ended up not being who he said he was. In fact, he was quite the liar and the more Stephanie investigated the more hurt she found. This is her story, and others he also hurt story, along with a bit of psychological - why do people do this. Written beautifully with heart and soul, this is actually a ripper of a read.

What I've Been Watching

Peep Show
 - I finally finished all 9 seasons of Peep Show and I'm very sad to see it end. Of course this is an older show and i had seen much of it before, but never the entire thing back to back as I have been doing over the past 6 months or so. It has been wonderful, it consistently made me laugh out loud, and was clever and also terrible - but it the best possible way! I loved Robert Webb's Jeremy the best, such a layered charismatic character, but David Mitchell's stitched up Mark was pure genius. Also loved a young, pre-fame, Olivia Coleman as Sophie. 

The Importance of Being Miriam  - filmed version of Miriam Margoyles' one woman show. Absolutely brilliant, from songs, to stories to reciting works, voices and laughter and tears. A must see. I love this woman so much.

The Movies - this was a wonderful detailed documentary series about Movies on the National Geographic channel. It started with films from the 90s, then moved forward, before going back to the 80s, 70s, 60s, 20s-50s. Detailed and fabulous as it was it could have been doubly as long and still not tipped the iceberg. No documentaries or Foreign Films were included. It loads of great interviews with actors, directors, writers, critics etc. Some talking about their own work, some talking about what they loved growing up etc. It was beautifully packaged and really easy to watch. Highly recommend.

Escape to the Chateau - this has moved to Channel 9, grrrr. The episodes are topsy and turvy and all over the shop. The main reason why I never watch commercial tele. But as that is where it is and it is one of my favourite shows, watch I am. The Chateau is becoming more amazing internally with each season. Dick and Angel's ideas and ingenuity knows no bounds. They are the perfect couple and I just know we would be firm friends. The gardens are looking amazing, the new ideas superb. There are visits to Paris and antique markets in the country. Sigh, it really is all my dreams come true.

Taronga Zoo - I have binged this fabulous series about behind the scenes at Taronga Zoo. I have to admit as an animal lover and someone who has been privileged enough to see animals in the wild in Africa, I am not really a fan of zoos. However, Taronga do a lot of rescue and saving of species, especially those that are endangered, as this series will show. And they genuinely look like they are doing the right thing, and the animals look happy enough. There were some great sections, an albatross healed and sent back to the sea, many koalas from the fires saved and healing, a baby Rhino, and much more. A lovely family show that is worth checking out.

Russian Doll - late to the party as usual, everyone has been raving about this and you can see why. It is a great little series, 8 half hour series, so easy to digest. Nadia, the brilliant Natasha Lyonne, is out looking for her cat on her 36th party, while a party for her is starting to come together. She is struck by a car, but finds herself back at the bathroom at her party, only to have the same things happen to her again and again. But why. An existential Groundhog Day, this is astonishing and very addictive. I guess those are spoilers but that isn't even the first episode. There is much more to this show, and if you haven't seen it I urge you to now! 

Everything's Gonna Be Okay  - I finished the new Josh Thomas show and I love it so very much. It has a similar style to Please like Me; not a lot of plot development, time for characters to breath and grow, fabulous characters, great humour, dramatic moments, romance, gay love, dogs, music, and this time added insects! After his American father dies, Nicholas (Josh) gets custody of his teen half-sisters.  The girls are brilliant, especially Kayla Cromer as Matilda, who like Kayla herself, has autism. I really loved this, a little showier than Please Like Me, but still great.

What I've Been Listening To

Kenny Rogers - been listening to a lot of Kenny since he passed. Huge longtime Kenny fan, thanks to my parents who loved him. We all know the big hits, but it really struck me listening to the albums I have how great he was over many decades, and what a good voice he had. What an incredible legacy, I'll be listening to him for years to come. 

Womad music - I obviously had an amazing experience at Womad, so have been living off that for a while. I will be doing a blog about Womad soon, so stay tuned.

Podcasts - I've been using this time to catch up on my usual podcast including: Rumble with MIchael Moore, Guardian podcasts, Melbourne Writers Festival, New Yorker Radio Hour, WTF with Marc Maron, Here's the Thing, Chats 10, Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda, Hit Parade, and Unspooled.

A couple that stood apart were Marc Maron interviewing the legendary Carol Kane. Her career is immense and still going strong with her in the new Pacino show, Hunters. There was so much to talk about, it could have gone for hours.

Also Chats 10 live with visuals from their homes, sooo funny. I love those girls so much.

And Alda did a great one with a lady called Cleo Stiller on the #MeToo movement based on her book Modern Manhood, which sounded fascinating. It was a great example on how to help men - those that actually want to be helped - better work their way through these new times.

I have added a few new ones, but the only new one I have commenced has possibly shot to the top of all the podcasts I listen to!!!

Strong Songs - is the most amazing podcast. I heard Salesy rave about it on Chats 10 and have been listening from the beginning. It takes a popular, classic song and the guy, Kirk Hamilton - a real musical genius - pulls apart the song musically and explains why it is so special. So far each episode goes from 20-40 minutes so I good length of time, and I have loved each and every one. These are mostly songs I know really really well, and a lot I guess I sort of knew, but he explains things really well, so I am learning so much. The one on Art Blakey's Moanin was spectacular if you are into Jazz. My other faves have been You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon), I wish (Stevie Wonder), Dancing Queen (Abba), Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen - I seriously thought there was nothing new to learn about that song, I was wrong!) and Mr Blue Sky (ELO). I look forward to more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Once I had decided to go to Adelaide and Womad, the first thing I did was research what else there was to do that I would be interested in.

d'Arenberg was the first thing that came up in my searches and I knew I was holidaying in the right spot for me.

d'Arenberg Cube is an amazing piece of avant gaarde architecture that is placed in the middle of McLaren Vale wine country.

AND it has a Dali exhibition!!!!

I tried to find more information, but all it said there were some original large sculptures temporarily in the grounds and an Alternate Realities Museum in the Cube.


Once I arrived in Adelaide, I realised this was not an easy place to get to. After a bit of investigating, I found a Hop on Hop off Bus Vineyard Tour. There were 15 or so vineyards to choose from over a day. Ideally you would choose 4 with an hour at each. I choose 3 to give me 2 hours at d'Arenberg.

When I was dropped off I was overcome by the large Dali Sculptures outside at the entrance. The Vineyard was large and sprawling with outer sheds and gardens. There was a smaller cafe, and wine tasting area in a lovely old wooden cottage away from the main section, an old converted shed, where you collect your wine as you leave. Gardens of sculptures and odd things, and a marquee with a temporary, contemporary art exhibition. Mostly paintings that you could purchase.

But it was the cube itself that stuck out beautifully like a beacon amongst the vines. Huge, unusual, and just simply glorious, it made me smile.

I walked up the path curious about my adventure.

Inside the entrance was dark and quirky, with odd sculptures and prints on the walls. I had pre-booked, so my name was ticked off and I was given a token for the Dali section.

This bottom floor was the Alternate Realities Museum. It was a selection of joined rooms, each with oddities within. There was strange dioramas and sculptures, some with a weird circus sideshow feel. A movie room with a Daliesque film showing, trippy and psychedelic. A room with Dali inspired paintings and portraits. Some things were interactive and people were wandering around mouths open and eyes wide. It was my kind of place. I spent a long time exploring there.

I took a lift up to the first floor. I was keen to explore it all, but needed to use the bathroom of which this was located. The floor was simply the bathroom and the kitchen for the restaurant on the floor above. There was a wide glass window and an area with lounges near where you could sit and watch the action in the kitchen. Also large windows on the outer edge of the cube giving you views of the area.

But the Bathrooms were the most remarkable bathrooms I have ever been in.

You enter Tardis like doors through to a wonderful open room with loads of glass views. There was a wash area that looked like a sculpture and inside the toilets themselves was something out of a Dali or Surrealist painting. The tardis like booths were indeed larger than they seemed, painted with various designs and suitable decor. Yes! I looked in several.

I then headed up to the Third Floor, missing Floor 2 as it was the restaurant and you could only go in with a booking and they were booked months in advance.

The Third Floor was more than I could even begin to have imagined.

Oh My Goodness!!!

Soo many Dali Sculptures, large and small and a few prints also.  The story goes like this: towards the end of his life Dali was convinced to make molds of the sculptures he was doing at that time, so those in the future may be able to own a piece of his art. Everything here was NOT the original but a cast of it. This may seem disappointing, but it was not at all. They were glorious and so many, you'd never see that many outside of a proper Dali Museum. Each were priced, and indeed - had I had the money - I could have purchased whatever I liked.

I bought a melting clock necklace, lol!!

I spent a long time there, looking at each piece, taking pics, and looking at the stunning views. It was an overcast day and some of my pics are not great. So much light coming in from the glass cube it made some pieces difficult to photograph. There is so much more than what I have to show! I think a sunnier day would have made it even more difficult, but I was glad of the overcast, it adds drama to some of the pics.

Once I was finished I went up to the top floor for some more views and pics. No, I didn't taste any wine, lol. That was not why I was there. 

Then right down to explore the grounds before being collected by the bus.

It was a tremendous 2 hours and I fully recommend it to anyone to visit. I just loved my experience there.

Monday, April 6, 2020


AGSA was a great little gallery with a wide ranging collection. I had a lovely time wandering through the levels and looking at the collections.

They had a great selection of Australian Art and artefacts. McCubbin, Heysen, Preston, and Cossington Smith, Klippel.

They had an exhibition called Monsters scattered through the building and in various separate collections. It was a wide and varied selection of art.

Their Islamic Art was quite remarkable and large.

The outside courtyard showcased some stunning architecture.

There was Rodin.

And some modern sculpture.

And this special exhibit by Chiharu Shiota. It was commissioned especially for the space and is called Absence Embodied. It was an amazing experience wandering around the red wool. The detail was intricate and expansive and it was incredibly comforting. It is meant to reflect the feeling of being within the womb.

A small section of Modern Art: Lucien and Camille Pissaro, Francis Bacon, Sidney Nolen.

And more sculpture.

The building, of course, was quite stunning.