Monday, November 18, 2019


I was still sick at the beginning of October, my throat and voice and cough consistent, this led to x-rays and CT scans and lung specialists at the end of the month. Things looked grim for a bit, I was pretty scared...again...but it appears not to be anything too major which is wonderful. I still need to go back and things sussed out next year. I guess the thing about having had cancer is it is the first thing you go to...which is awful, but it is also the first thing the doctors go to, which means it gets ruled out (thankfully thus far) really quickly!

So due to this, the month was fairly quiet, a lot of sleep, or rather a lot of weird sleeping, due to not great sleep during the night.

I did manage to whisk my best friend away from her dramas to Maitland Art Gallery for a late lunch and then get lost in their art. Maitland Art Gallery cafe is always amazing and the gallery second to none in the Hunter.

I also saw Blak Douglas in conversation with Ursula Yovich at Newcastle Art Gallery. He painted her for his amazing Kilgour winning portrait. She then gave us an amazing mini concert, singing some sublime tunes. A really divine afternoon.

I headed to Scottys cinemas at Raymond Terrace to see the filmed theatre production of Fleabag and it was everything. This is the second run of the theatre show that started the whole Phoebe Waller-Bridge phenomenon. It started as a theatre show, then was series 1 on television. I picked it up a few years back a little bit before things got nuts. Then she redid the theatre show and did series 2, in the middle of all that, Killing Eve. 

Anyway, the theatre show was just her talking to the audience, it was very full on. It covered a lot of the topics in S1 of the television show. It pushed boundaries and was more dramatic than the television show. Mostly as a lot of the humour on the show bounces off the other characters which are not in the theatre such. Occasionally she talks to voices from off stage. What I took the most was what a great physical comedian/actress she is. Her facial expressions and body contortions, which you see a little on the television, but so much more in this.
My nephew turned 17, which feels shocking wasn't I babysitting him the other week! We had a lovely family BBQ to celebrate. He is such a great young man, kind and generous, funny and smart. A real credit to my sister and brother-in-law. 

The Final French Friday of the year was Return of the Hero, starring Jean Dujardin and Melanie Laurent. It was a great period drama/comedy/romance. As usual there was a great french market to partake of prior.

I also had a great and exciting thing happen, I arrived home one Friday afternoon to an anonymous present, for my vinyl area. It is perfect and used and loved. I still have no idea who this lovely giver was...

There is the usual markets.

And photography


What I've Been Reading

Angel in the Rubble by Genelle Guzman-McMillan -  Genelle was the last person found alive in the World Trade Centre rubble on the day after 9/11. Her story is remarkable and touching, and a great insight into the panic and terror those who were in the WTC on that must have felt.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – this is one of Neil’s great children’s books that I have read, but I listened to him read it on Talking Book…divine. It is the story of Bod, an orphan who grew up in a Graveyard, surrounded and raised by ghosts. As he gets older he decides to investigate what happened to his family and realises he is in grave (ha ha) danger. Neil Gaiman is one of those people who was born to read aloud, listening to him read his own books is one of my greatest delights. Even though I knew the story, it was still wonderful.

Courage calls to courage everywhere by Jeanette Winterson - Teeny book but packs a great punch. Jeanette Winterson on #metoo and other feminist movements. How far we've come but how much more we have to go. Also includes Emmeline Pankhurst's suffragette speech from 1913.

Our Zoo by June Mottershead - Spoken word about a zoo in an English town in the 40s and beyond. It was an interesting story, but ultimately very sparse in detail and of course zoos in those times were not really great for animals. A few stories horrified me including the lions who were allowed to roam the fields close by that anyone could access and the monkey that literally hung itself with a piece of rope.

What I've Been Watching

The Righteous Gemstones -  I am unsure about this show, I really liked it at the beginning but the shine is wearing off. It is about a family of evangelists headed by the great John Goodman. There are no likable characters, which usually does not bother me, and I guess it is dark comedy showcasing the church at it's worst. It has moments that makes me smile, but I think it is too heavy handed and cartoonish to really pack the punch it should.

Les Norton- this is another one I am unsure of. The characters in it are fabulous but the stories are weak. The lead of Les (Alexander Bertrand) is charismatic, as are most of the other characters, especially David Wenham, Steve La Marquand, Rebel Wilson, and Rhys Muldoon, all playing murky underground or in with the underground characters. I loved Syd Zygier (daughter of Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier) as a fresh faced young constable trying to keep on the right side of things. I guess the most interesting character was 80s Sydney/Kings Cross.

Utopia- Utopia is as brilliant as ever, but honestly it gives me PTSD and I find it very difficult to watch. For those that do not know, it is an Australian comedy series about a government agency and it very close to the bone in it's storylines. Written and created by the Working Dog people who can do no wrong in my eyes and starring the ever affable Rob Sitch, it is brilliant, but so incredibly spot on, I wonder how they do it!

90210 - I love this 'reboot' or behind the scenes of a reboot. It is vacuous and doesn't take itself seriously and a load of fun along with a walk down memory lane, really miss Luke Perry though.

X-Files - slowly working my way through the seasons, halfway through S4 and loving it. Anderson and Duchovny still look super young but have lost that wooden feel and are starting to showcase their talent much more. All the other regulars are featuring more, Smoking Man, Skinner, Lone Gunmen, Krycek, and X. The show really takes flight in S3 and S4 with many continuous episodes surrounding aliens and alien abductions. Spooky!

Summer of Rockets - great cold war series about a Russian business man who is asked to spy on friends during a difficult time in all their lives.

Peep Show - this is one show I missed the first time around and been really getting into the repeats on the tele. I'm up to S6. Jez and Mark are flatmates but totally opposites. Mark (David Mitchell) is straightlaced, holds down a job and it hopeless with the ladies, Jez (Robert Webb), is laid back, unemployed and thinks he's a hit with the ladies. It follows their hapless lives and is hilarious. Olivia Coleman also stars as Sophie, Mark's on/off girlfriend.

Gavin and Stacey - watching the repeats on tele of this gem, every re-watch it gets better and better. Written by James Corden and Ruth Jones, Smithy and Nessa, it is funny as heck! To be honest Gavin and Stacey are a bit painful, and it is the supporting case that make this show. In particular Jones' Nessa and ROb Bryden's Bryn. Dry as hell, and funnier than anything!

Stella S1 - a sweet little family comedy from Ruth Jones (Nessa in Gavin and Stacey) about a single Mum in her 40s in a small town. It follows her family, loves, and life. Not as great as Gavin and Stacey but still pretty good.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee S10 - Jerry, a fellow comedian, driving in a fancy car around LA getting coffee. It doesn't get old, is just the right amount of time and always a laugh. Some guests resonate more than others, this season the hits were; Dave Chappelle, Elle DeGeneres, Tracy Morgan, Dana Carvey, Alec Baldwin, and Jerry Lewis.

The Set - really getting into this great little (little as in 30mins on a Wednesday evening) show with the latest in live Australian music. 

The Pool - excellent 2 part documentary about Our love of pools and swimming in Australia, featuring a lot of outdoor, ocean pools, including 2 of our locals, Merewether Baths and The Bogey Hole.

Escape to the  Chateau S4 - this is another favourite, only 3 episodes in this season. It is a 'reality' series about Dick and Angel who have bought a Chateau in France and are doing it up to use as a wedding (and other events) venue. It is just wonderful, mostly because Dick and Angel are truly unique individuals and people I just know I'd love and get on with in real life. He is a retired army man and engineer and can pretty much put his hand to anything from building, gardening, cooking, you name it. Angel is is gorgeous wife, a true individual with the most amazing design ideas. They both love old things as they say, as do I, and I just love seeing them turn this rambling old building into something magnificent. 

Gogglebox - this is one of my favourite shows, and before you diss me, you obviously haven't watched it. I too thought poorly of it, a show about people watching television, oh my! And then quite a few people I know recommended it to me, people with good taste, I was shocked, but sat down and gave it a go and I was immediately hooked. The people chosen to commentate on the television are beautiful and varied, incredibly diverse and very human. You come to know and love these people, just being themselves and you realise they are a wonderful cross section of the best of life, in terms of the best of people. Trust me, and give this little gem a go. They might watch shows I would never watch in a million years, and often shows I do watch, but it isn't really about that. It is about humanity, and I love humanity!

Let the sunshine in - interesting French film about an artist in her late 40s, Juliette Binoche, who is dating and struggling to find 'the one'. It follows her on a series of dates and relationships and you feel like an intruder at times. She is marvellous and the final scene when she decides to ask for 'help' is quite a relevation, as to how she asks for help and who that is, or rather the actor playing that character, but I will leave it for you to find out.

Perfect Strangers - Interesting and funny Italian movie about a group of friends who have a dinner party and deep secrets about each other are revealed.

Little – this was a fun movie with Regina King and the fabulous Issa Rae. Regina plays Issa’s nasty and mean boss and one day wakes up as her 13 year old self which leaves Issa to take reigns of her life. This has been done before but it is still fun.

The Hustle – I really wanted to like this, I love Anne Hathaway, and I don’t mind Rebel Wilson, but whilst they were both funny and surprisingly worked well together, it was just another one of those vacuous, crass comedies that seems to be around lately. Not really for me.

Destination Wedding – romantic comedy teaming Keanu and Winona as star crossed possible lovers at a wedding, of his brother and her ex, both of whom they loathe. The script was very clunky but the chemistry between the two shone through.

The Price of Everything  - This was an outstanding documentary about the contemporary art scene in New York, surrounding Christies and the sale of said art. It was an eye opener in terms of the prices of the art and how very little the artist gets…for the most part. It features interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, and those that work at Christies. Fascinating people, amazing art, outlandish stories. A fair bit of time is spent chatting to Jeff Koons, and there is something magnetic about him. I ‘discovered’ some amazing new artists with amazing art, including Larry Poons, who has been around a long time but I had never heard of. He is in his 80s and paints the most beautiful abstracts on huge canvasses, very much what I would call a post modernistic impressionistic style, beautiful colours and whimsy. And his way of putting paint on the canvas is so delicate and beautiful. They also followed Gerhard Richter painting one of his colossal pieces, and that was something else, woah! If you love art and are interested in the behind the scenes, this is totally worth watching.

What I've Been Listening To

Bob Marley/The Beatles - Bob and The Beatles seems to be my go to listening at work at the moment and I am a-ok with that, as are my customers. I see loads of dancing and singing as they select their books!

Abba - Starting to listen to my vinyl alphabetically and of course Abba comes first! I have every album now and loving hearing the album tracks for the first time in a long time! Glorious.

Australian Crawl - I haven't listened to these guys in a while, huge fan in my teens and they really hold up. You don't hear much about them these days and for the 4 studio albums they made, they are definitely underrated. The hits come fast and quick, very Australian, very surfside, very cool.

Jimmy Barnes - also been listening to the early solo albums, some real cool tunes in there that showcase Jimmy's great voice...yeah, he does have a great voice when he doesn't scream. You don't hear these tunes much these days, which is a shame.

Mamas and the Papas - been spinning the best of at work and singing along, lovely voices, great tunes.

Podcasts - still listening to the usual, but a standout was Trent Dalton at the SWF earlier this year talking about his remarkable book, Boy Swallows Universe. If you have read this book and loved it (how could you not, it is an instant classic), you MUST listen to this podcast, as it is one of the best behind the scenes of a book I have ever heard. And if you haven't read the book, go NOW, you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


Well, the past two months have flown by. There's been a lot of fun and amazing, and a lot of crap. To be honest, I am over the crap, and sharing it whilst cathartic, will actually only lead to more crap I guess. I've also had a throat infection which has led to more leg problems, as per this time last year. Not as bad, but equally as frustrating. Mid August I did have my first yearly check up with my oncologist and all going well there, so that is incredibly wonderful and I am grateful.

My mantra to get me through all that is going is this: I am here, I am alive, and I have a job. And we'll leave it there and look at the fun stuff!!!

Filtered through these months, there was one constant! And it was pure joy. It was my vinyl project. I have always listened to and bought vinyl, it had never disappeared, even though technically it had. So with the resurging trend of vinyl actually being a thing again, I was like a pig in mud. A cool vinyl shop popped up nearby and my collecting amped up. But my faithful stereo of over 30 years was failing me. The turntable broke for the third time and I needed to upgrade it. I had brought a little portable turntable but the sound was tinny. So for Christmas and birthday everyone gave me money to put towards this project. But with being unwell I hadn't really spent time working out what I needed. Stereos had changed very much over the past 30 years, and I needed better storage and it became a egg and chicken situation. Finally in early August I got into it and bought lovely while cube storage with plenty of room for adding to the collection. I sourced a great stereo and bought a fantastic new turntable. 

I spent a lot of time making it all work and sorting my collection. As a Librarian, this kind of organisation is extremely pleasurable! On Father's Day, my Father decided to give me his entire collection (it had always been promised to me) and I had this to add in and I needed to buy more storage. The project was a little out of control and I was very overwhelmed by the enormity of gaining this beloved collection. But I got there, and I cannot begin to tell you how enjoyable it was. I am currently adding the collection to discogs, an app on my phone that catalogues each piece. It is mostly to have so I don't double up and can work out where the holes in my collection are. I'm only up to C! I also intend to write some pieces about the collection, specifically my father's and how it influenced my own musical tastes growing up.  But at least it is all there looking good and with decent equipment to play it on now and that kind of pleasure and enjoyment is immeasurable. 

The month started celebrating one of my heroes, Frida Kahlo. Linda and I headed to Thai prior to meeting Jayne to see the doco on her life, and I decided to dress up because I needed some fun.

I also saw the wonderful film, The Public, about a large public library during one night when it was overrun by a group of homeless people. It showed the relevance of libraries and how they are the great leveler of our society. I highly recommend it.

I attended one function during the Newcastle Music Festival, a fabulous Opera Soiree at Adamstown Church. High Tea and opera are meant to go together, and it was a glorious afternoon of indulgence.

I went back to The Edwards to celebrate it's reopening for lunch, it all looks much the same and the food as amazing as always.

Athena, Jayne and I saw the wonderful Thelma Plum at the Cambridge. It was a great night, albeit over packed and hot. The following night Yes Commissioner at The Stag to celebrate Alex's birthday, much fun and dancing were had!

Amanda flew home to celebrate her birthday before heading out to Paris, we had an amazing Italian restaurant in Medowie of all places. It was a great family night out.

I saw the new Tarantino, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. It was superb, and possibly his best since Pulp Fiction. I loved the nod to that era and the acting was just brilliant. 

Athena, Jayne and I headed to Hudson Street Hum, a cool arts venue, to see the booklaunch of State of Origin by David Kelly. Launched by the one and only Helen Garner, it was a great afternoon.

Mum, Dad, and I had a lovely Father's Day lunch and later that week we all met for a family support of Lachlan in his mixed ages soccer Grand Final. It was a dark, cold night up at The Terrace and they sadly didn't get up. It was a rough game against a vile and nasty team who played dirty, the boys can hold their head up high of being the better team on the day. Morals are far more important than winning.

Mary and I had a lovely long lunch to celebrate her birthday at Merewether Surf House. Whilst it was a super windy and cold day, the views never fail to amaze.

Mid September I headed up Coffs Harbour via Bellingen Markets for a family weekend to support Charlotte in her special girls team in the State gala. It was a slow drive up as I was unwell, but a lovely drive without too much traffic so that was good.

I had lunch at the markets at Bellingen, a wander and a shop. There was a nice vibe, it was a little muggy after raining. The drive in and around the area was divine, but it was busy in the main street and I needed to be at my destination.

We mostly watched the girls kick arse at soccer throughout the weekend, the stadium at Coffs was newish and comfy. I stayed in a lovely motel on the edge of Coffs but we dined at Sawtell mostly as the rest of the family stayed there. A good solid Chinese meal at the Bowlo on the first night and a seafood meal at the pub on the second night. The girls did extremely well winning 3 games out of 6, I am in awe of my niece, as goalie she has the toughest gig on the team and she is amazing and fierce.

On the last time I had a little time to myself and had a lovely breakfast at the yacht club overlooking the beach and then had a drive and wander around the beaches.

On the way home i headed back into Bellingen and had a lovely walk in the much quieter main street and a little shop before heading home. It was a much needed break and time away, very relaxing.

We had another family weekend the following weekend, with Amanda home for Charlotte's birthday seafood extravanganza and BBQ the following evening. A good time had by all.

I ended the month with a Sunday afternoon bus trip around a few art galleries with the Art Gallery Society. Linda and I had a lovely time on a perfect spring afternoon, visiting Timeless Textiles, Curve Gallery, Art Systems Wickham, and Creative Incubator where we bought some art as jewellery and had a lovely afternoon tea and wine.

As always my regular outings to the markets, soccer, bookclub, and One Song Sing. Still meeting at Babylon, a glorious venue, in August we got our rap on with TLC's Waterfalls, and in September, our 80s vibe with Hold Me Now by The Thompson Twins. Always fun and joyful!

My reviews for August and September.

And additional pics.