Saturday, December 31, 2016


Ahhhhh December!!!

You are Dickensian, the best of times, the worst of times.

Seriously, it was the best December I've had in a long long time.

It started on holidays and was full of joy and fun and festivities!

Of course that last week of the month/year can be intense. It is for most people I think, but given my birthday also falls in that week, it means extra scrutiny! From me, of course, those big events always bring my introspection to the forefront and this year was no exception. 

So I had a few melancholy moments, but that's ok I think. It's very difficult to be one person - no partner, no kids - generally, but most certainly at this time of the year. SM is full of photos and fun and families and couples. And I genuinely wish them all the happiness in the world, but it does make me feel sad not to have those experiences. 

But I try not to let such things knock me around too much, and try and accentuate the positives, as the song goes. Plus I have great family and friends who listen and help me through these patches!

So December started with a long overdue hair cut and then a short road trip to The Entrance where I had a few days of quiet before heading back to work. It was lovely down there, loads of fab restaurants, beaches, channels etc. I must go there more regularly.

 I came home to have Christmas lunch and belated birthday celebrations with R at Greenroof. Excellent lunch there and even better company.

And spent my final day of holidays in Newcastle with a lovely lunch at East End Hub.

Then it was less then three weeks of work before 10 days off while we close over the Christmas/ New Year break. It was a very relaxed but full three weeks. But I feel ready for my lovely team to grab 2017 and make it great!

We celebrated my Dad's birthday at our local pub, J and I had a Christmas get together at Poppys. I caught up with A, B, and T at Cannon. N and V at Warners Bay Hotel. And had the most amazing meal at the Ethiopian restaurant with my gals. 

C, E, and I saw Rogue One which was fabulous, followed by Grilld, which is always great.

I headed up to my sister's property Christmas Eve for family festivities through to Christmas afternoon. Christmas Night spent quietly at my parents.

My Birthday is Boxing Day, so after a lovely sleep in and a breakfast of leftover trifle, C collected me and we saw La La Land, which was divine, followed by a late lunch at The Mattara, then a family dinner at The Duke. Spoilt rotten and was a good day.

The heat in the few days leading up to NY was horrendous, I don't do summer well I must say. But I did manage a trip to The Entrance for a lunch date and a catch up with a good friend at Foghorn. Mostly I lay on the couch watching DVDs and napping under the air con!

As always here are my reviews...

Stay tuned over the next few days for my 2016 Round Up, best ofs, and thoughts about 2017!

and some pretty pics...


What I've Been Reading

Art as Therapy by Alain de Bottom  - This was a lovely philosophical look at art, how one can use it in life, not just to look at and appreciate but to help us, make us feel better, or any type of emotion. It was beautifully put together and a lovely read.

The Odd Woman and The City - Vivian Gornick - this was a slim but an exceptional read by Gornick. It is little vignettes of her life living in New York. She tells her stories with the wisdom of age and the humour that only a seasoned New Yorker can.

Special Deluxe - Neil Young - this was a memoir of Young and his cars, which is very different. Neil has loved cars and had many, so this was an unusual walk down memory lane.

Give me the excess of it - Richard Gill - a great memoir about the quirky maestro of Australian Opera and Classical music. Funny and poignant, I loved this story.

The Paper House - Anna Spargo-Ryan - this is the debut novel from this Australian author. The female character delivers a still born child and her life is torn apart. She was in the middle of moving house when this happens and finds her new place a source of comfort and pain as she delves into the deepest of emotions. I found this mostly a sweet book to read, but at times I felt the emotive elements were a little forced and too much. But this is her first novel, so an author to watch out for possibly.

The Strays - Emily Bitto - This was a great piece of fiction about a woman looking back at her life. As a young girl she ended up living with her best friend and their extended family. The friend's parents were artists and lived in a commune with other artists. The story of their intertwined lives was tempestuous and fascinating.

Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher - it's a little difficult to write about this given I read it while she was still alive. Like her previous memoir, it is bits and pieces which at times is in need of clarity and at times is sheer brilliance. This is her mind. A lot of the book is dedicated to her 'relationship' with Harrison Ford and yet really doesn't divulge as you would think. It is snippets of this and that and is simply honest and you would imagine.

Travelling Companion - Ian Rankin - this is a cute little mini mystery about a Scot travelling in Paris and residing at Shakespeare and Co. To say anymore would be to give away the plot, but when the Scot - a Robert Louis Stevenson fan - is sent on an errand by George (owner of Shakespeare and Co) he encounters a mysterious old man and things start to go awry.

Everywhere I look - Helen Garner - This is a remarkable collection of essays and diary entries by our country's finest author. I worship Helen and her precise and spare way of writing. She sees it all and writes about it in the most unique and outstanding way. This collection is full of beauty and wonder, her take on the world. Her diary entries and mixed and fascinating.  Her essays cover movies, ageing, Russell Crowe, Dawn Service, chance encounters, and memories from yester-years. This is one of the best books I have read this year.

The View From the Cheap Seats - Neil Gaiman - this is an huge tome, full on Neil's NF writing. From literature to libraries, gender, writing, his favourite writers, Science Fiction, film, comedy, music, and fairy tales. These are specially written for other publications, or speeches, or stories from his spoken word shows. A lot will be familiar but a lot are not. He has such a brilliant mind, you just grin and feel good inside reading these pieces. Again, one of the best books I have read this year.

The Dark Net: inside the digital underworld  - Jamie Bartlett - this was a fascinating spoken word book about the underbelly of the net. Horrifyind and amusing equally.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay - Elena Ferrante - I have no idea why I am still listening to these awful spoken word books but I guess I want to know what happened. It's the story of two 'friends' and I use that term lightly. Not a single redeeming character, misogyny, and poorly written, I will never figure out why these are popular!?!

What I Have Been Listening To

Civil Dusk by Bernard Fanning -  this is a solid solo outing from the Powderfinger frontman. Enjoyable but not as good as his first album.

Hell Breaks Loose - Shane Nicholson - I enjoy Nicholson's alt country music, and this was no exception. Worth listening to.

American Tunes - Allen Toussaint - this is a lovely jazzy album of early blues and jazz tunes. As always Toussaint is in fine form.

Earth - Neil Young - this is a new live album, and, of course, excellent!

In The Now - Barry Gibb - this is a new solo album from the remaining Bee Gee and it is excellent. He is in fine form and has written many of the songs with his son. Worth a listen.

Rain Crow - Tony Joe White - you are never disappointed in anything by Tony Joe White, Swampy blues and alt country, this album has it all, White just gets better with age!

Human - Katy Steele  - this is a good solo album from the Little Birdy lead. the songs are more poppier and rockier than Little Birdy but still with her distinctive voice.

In Winter - Katie Melua - very sweet, very jazzy, very Katie.

Porridge and Hot Sauce - You Am I - this is a great kick-arse album as you would expect with some lovely melodic pop also!

Hopelessness - Anohni - this is the new album from the artist formerly known as Antony Hegarty and it is simply stunning. Anohni's voice is simply divine as is shown here. Highly recommend.

What I Have Been Watching

Nashville S3 and S4  - this is pure soap opera set to the backdrop of Nashville and country music. But I do enjoy it, great characters and most importantly great music, with real production values.

House of Cards S3 - Great season with the president trying to stay one step ahead of everyone. Spacey is deviously great but Wright makes him look like nothing, she is that superb.

Silicon Valley S3 - I loved S1 but thought S2 was meh, this was better than S1. Hilarious, great writing. Must see!

Walking Dead S7.1 and Talking Dead - I wasn't sure how I would proceed with this fave after the deadly horrendous opening episode of the season. But I did cause the writing is so freaking good. The characters and the stories just keep revealing layer upon layer and I am drawn to it as I always have been and having Fox also lets me see it's companion piece, Talking Dead, a show about the show! How Meta, how wonderful!!!!

Westworld S1 - this fantasy series had me confused, I struggled to keep up and every week was going to give it up. Until I read an article spoiling or revealing the series' secret. I was gobsmacked and felt completely stupid, once you know the reveal the show is something else all together. So now I need to go back and watch it again!!!

Blacklist S3 - started with a bang with Red and Keen on the run, got little boring in the middle section and the boom heated up in the second half. I've said this before it si Spader that makes this show, he is superb.

Please Like Me S4 -  oh my, this lovely little Aussie comedy/drama just gets better and better. A stunning episode with Josh and his parents in a fancy restaurant was unlike anything you've ever seen on television. Funny, honest and heart warming. The episode that follows sucker punches you so hard I thought I wouldn't make it through. I have never been so sidelined by a plot twist nor upset. Fuck, this show, it delivers and then some. With exceptional acting and the most stunning and realistic writing. I wonder whether there will be a S5, I hope so, and if not, the first 4 series are perfection anyway. IF you haven't seen this show, just go now!

Divorce - the new Sarah Jessica Parker Series with the fabulous Thomas Haden Church is outstanding. Sharon Horgan (Catastophe) created and writes for this, so it has fine pedigree. It took a few shows to get into and what I really love about this as the layers are peeled back, you just don't know who you like better. Him or her, then her, then him, then them both, they you hate them both, it's clever, sharp and well written. I guess it is not for everyone, but def worth checking out.

Vinyl - this could have been so good, but it lacked something, unsure what. About a record company in the 70s created by Scorsese and Jagger, it should have been better. Bobby Cannavale was, as always outstanding, and the music divine, but the storylines lacked and hence no S2.

Parks and Recreations, final season - I love this show, but felt this was one season too many. It was disjointed and lacked the warmth of previous seasons. Still it was fun and worth watching.

One of Us - a superb British thriller. A young couple are killed on their honeymoon, and a strange man turns up at their families (who live next door to each other) farm. The night is stormy and the man is injured in a car accident, the families take him in but soon realise he is the killer of their children. They lock him up until morning when the police will arrive. WHen they wake up he has been killed, but by whom, only someone in the family. This twists and turns until the big reveal. Oh my!

Love Nina - is a cute UK mini series with Helena Bonham Carter as a single mum in the 70s and the nanny she gets to look after her children. Sweet and funny, based on a true story, worth checking out!

The People Vs OJ Simpson:American Crime Story - wow this was superb. Great cast, great story, unbelieveable outcomes!

Joanna Lumley in Japan  - a lovely three parter with Lumley being her divine self, Japan looks pretty good too!

Gerard Depardieu Bon Appetit- this is a hilarious (though unsure it is exactly meant to be that funny!) romp through Europe with Depardieu sourcing the freshest food (even if he has to shoot or pick it himself!) and getting local chefs to cook it for him and a friend. 

Cyndi Lauper, Still So Unusual - this was a one off reality show following Cyndi around as she does her thing. So good.

Son of Saul - highly rewarded Hungarian film set in Auschwitz about a young man working the ovens and saves the body of a young dead boy he believes is his own son. He goes to great lengths to get the boy a proper burial. Heart breaking but outstanding. 

Little Girl Blue, Janis Joplin - outstanding documentary about her life and music.

Sinatra at Madison Square Gardens, 1974 -  wow, this is Frank at his height, every song a killer!

Sing Street - this is a great film set in the 80s following a young band intent on making their own music but in the style of the times. Heart warming, gritty, funny, and a superb soundtrack!

Monday, December 19, 2016


So I got my Mojo back in November!!!

Things started to turn around for me, became less stressful and my anxiety started to pull back. Being back in therapy certainly helped as did lovely friends, but things just started being less awful and less intense. The universe eased off, lol and that was very good!!!

Having a month off also was a huge help.

As always the month starts celebrating my brother-in-laws birthday. This time we dined at the Junction Inn Hotel, located on the river at Raymond Terrace, and always a great meal.

My final week at work was very hectic but also included some great moments. I love our Movie Book Club group and the fabulous discussions we have. This month we discussed the book, The Devil and the White City which was a great historical story about the Chicago World Fair and spurred amazing discussion. and Friday night was our Movie Night, which keeps growing and growing. This is thanks to my fabulous colleague T who runs the show and charms our attendees Bill Collins style. The movie was the cult classic, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, which everyone loved!

I have never felt so in the moment as I did whilst in Melbourne, it made me realise I was getting back on track and my worries were somewhat behind me.

I arrived home from Melbourne, had a nap and headed out for a movie with J. We saw Girl on a Train. I had read the book when it first came out and it was ok. One of those blockbuster, page turners from the airport, not really my thing and I found all the characters annoying. The book was better than the movie which would have been god awful if it wasn't for Emily Blunt's performance.

I also saw the new Woody Allen later in the month. Beautifully shot, but the story lacked somewhat, I think the casting left a bit to be desired actually. But still an average Woody film is better than most of the shite out there!

That second week of hols was fairly low key. I had a lot of little jobs to do at home. I slept in, I napped, I read, I wrote, I watched DVDs etc, I went for walks. It was really lovely.

I also had a work thing, although it was so much fun, it hardly felt like work. We hosted William McInnes as part of the Share The Story with Carol Duncan event that I look after. It was a hot evening but 120 people turned up to Toronto Library to hear William talk about his latest book. He was hilarious and kind and generous and had everyone in the palm of his hand.

L and I attended opening night of the Italian Film Festival seeing the funny film, God Willing. It had a huge attendance with the film needing to be shown on two screens.

Saturday was Rodriguez and you can read about that here.

I caught up with my lovely friends A and B for dinner at Supper Lane. I have been busting to eat there since it opened. The food was outstanding but the company perfection. Love those gals!

The third week saw more pottering at home, with lunches and brunches and dinners with family and friends added in.

Monday I caught up with M at Qs, Tuesday dinner with family, Wednesday supper with B, Thursday Christmas shopping, and Friday dinner with my sister and a mammoth binge watch of the new Gilmore Girls, which made us laugh and cry. It was a lot of fun.

Also during the week I took a flying visit to Sydney to catch up with my cousin D and see The Nudes at NSW Art Gallery. D was heavily pregnant and luckily bubs decided not to test Aunty Cathy by coming too early. He decided to appear a week later...what joy, and soooo cute!!!!!

D is an artist and always has interesting insight into what we see. The exhibit was from The Tate in London and was a range of Nudes throughout the years. It was a stunning exhibit, with my highlight being Rodin's The Kiss. A remarkable white marble sculpture of a couple intertwined. Huge and breath taking, it gave me shivers down my spine.

We had a lovely lunch at the Art Gallery, then parted ways as a storm hit and I hot-tailed it for Central!

Saturday was huge. I did my usual market thing after a sleep in. But still tired from a huge night of binge watching Gilmore Girls and a big night ahead of me, I had a lovely nap to ready myself.

I had back to back events at The Basement, a newish cocktail bar. Our lovely Bibliotweeps Book Club had out final meeting of the year there, discussing Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods. This morphed into out yearly Newy Twistmas outing. This is where Newy Tweeps catch up IRL and have fun. We've been doing this for a few years now and it is always fun to see old friends and make new ones. The Basement was a great venue, had an amazing burger for dinner, and some lovely cocktails. I spent the night at Js which was fun as always.

I caught up with J at Canon and had the most amazing smoked salmon salad.

I also had a lovely afternoon in Newcastle where I did some Christmas shopping on Darby Street, caught the John Olsen exhibit at the gallery, indulged in Popolo Gelato finally, and attended the opening of The Civic Subscription Series for 2017.  I must admit in recent years this has not been a great series, but this years was stunning and I cannot wait to see all the fabulous shows.

And here are my reviews for the month.

And late November means getting Club Cathy ready for Christmas.

And some pics as always.