Friday, September 7, 2018


August was insane, which was not really what I needed while I was still not quite myself, but I have realised that this year is some kind of perverse ride that I have absolutely no control of, which for a control freak is well, rather frightening, I guess that is the reason!?

At the beginning of the month I was 2 weeks back at work, still tired and my heart not quite 100% in it, so I decided to go back to choir. Get a little soul and life back into me. It was great but entirely exhausting, I think I went back too soon. As a Soprano singer, you put you everything into song, and it is a physical thing, which I love, but if you are not on top it is shattering, well for me anyway. So i had to put that on hold again.

Work also got very crazy, with huge change in me being seconded to a Research Project position for a year. It was what I need, something to chew on, something different, less responsibility and stress but same money, a bit more flexibility and closer to home, which will help my recovery. It is also in the middle of a huge restructure and it looks highly likely my position at Swansea will not be there for me to return to. This is very stressful, but I have to have faith in those above me and the new structure and hopefully there will be something appropriate for me to slot into.

So the skills and things I got out of being sick earlier this year continue to assist me to get through life day to day, week to week. Be in the moment, be present, give my all, don't overthink, have faith things will work out. Weirdly, getting through cancer feels easier than this, I guess I just need to try harder!

And so on the 17 August I had my last day at Swansea, it was bittersweet. I was excited for my new challenge and sad to leave my friends, colleagues, community after 12 years of extremely hard and rewarding work. There are no words to do it justice.

In that last week I assisted with a new exhibition opening, Dead and Buried, an exhibit on the history of interment and burials at Lake Macquarie. I was a guest at Blacksmiths school, one of my favourites, talking about the library and reading to the kids and chatting to the community. And I packed up 12 years of work and memories.

I finished at lunch, and went for a walk at Greenpoint and sat under my favourite tree and had a little cry. I am sentimental and silly like that.

After a Saturday morning at Maitland Region Art Gallery, I met Jenny at Morpeth pub for lunch and then watched Lachlan play soccer.

The following week I had 4 days in my new job, a huge learning curve, but exciting and much to do. 

I also got to see Bob Dylan again, you can read about it here. Prior I had a lovely dinner at Limoo, a Persian Cafe in Hamilton with Alastair and Alexandra. Highly recommend a meal there.

And then I had two weeks holidays, the first week I spent in Melbourne seeing my sister and catching up with friends and the usual exhibits. 

I ended the month, spending the afternoon with my other sister and niece, and quietly unpacked from a lovely week away.

As always, here are my reviews, and some pics:


It has been 2 years since I was last in Melbourne, way too long.

I had planned to head down to see the Alice in Wonderland and MoMA exhibits before they ended. Then my youngest sister moved down there for work and her birthday was coming up so the timing was perfect.


I headed down on the Friday before her birthday. I love that familiar feeling of getting off the plane in Melbourne, the surroundings of the airport and waiting for my pickup into the city.

This time I was taking a St Kilda pickup which dropped me near the pier at the beach. I trodded along the cobbled sidewalks of Acland Street to Fitzroy Street and topped up my Myki card, then headed along the mainstreet opposite the water to my sisters, it was about a 20 minutes walk which would have been pleasant had I not been dragging my suitcase behind me. The sunset was divine though and I was there before I knew it.

My sister has a lovely apartment on the second floor with views out to the water, and we settled in for a night of catching up and Uber eats!


The next day we headed for a cafe my sister likes on Acland and had a yummy brunch and a little shop before heading to the South Melbourne markets. I had visited them on my last visit and was suitably impressed with their wares and their fresh food.  We had a fun afternoon wandering and shopping and picking up fresh food for the next few days.

An afternoon nap and then out for dinner at a fancy restaurant on the banks of the Yarra was a lovely way to end the day.


Sunday we headed into Fed Square for Melbourne Writers Festival. The Arts Centre put on lovely markets of a Sunday so we had a wander first before heading to a cafe for something light. I then lined up for the first session, which I was doing solo.

Melbourne Writers Festival - Sacred Texts: the book that made me a feminist
This was a large panel with a lot of women I admire, Neko Case, Emily Nussbaum, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Michelle Law and also a poet called Hollie McNish. I loved their answers to what made them feminists. Mostly they realised when looking back they all were young feminists without really realising it.

Neko spoke about studying Art at University, and the very expensive art book she had to buy and realised there was only 5 female artists within it. She constantly queried her professors about this.

Emily remembers a book on record by Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda called Free to be me and you. About equality generally, I recall this book, unsure how or why, but I do.

Maxine said The Babysitters Club and Judy Blume. Michelle Amy Sedaris and Margo Lanagan book, Tender Morsels.

The panel were witty and smart and fascinating, my only negative was one hour was just not long enough for five people to get their thoughts across.

But I was thrilled to be listening to their brilliant minds and thoughts.

Melbourne Writers Festival - Leigh Sale's Dream Dinner Party
The next session Amanda joined me, the panel led by the lovely Leigh Sales, included Tony Martin, Lachy Hulme, Jan Sardi, and Samantha Winston. The panel was about writing for television and film. 

Tony Martin was brilliant and funny as you can imagine. Jan Sardi (wrote Shine) was more restrained but had much to say. Sam Winston has written for Wentworth and Rush and much more and was more practical in her chatter. Lachy had worked with all of them as an actor and spoke about writing and what he looks for as an actor.

For those that know and love Lachy in Offspring, he gave wonderful and hilarious anecdotes on how he developed the character of Dr Clegg. Tony Martin sung lyrical about his love for Singin' in the Rain, and what a great timeless story it is. I so agree, as if I could not love him anymore! Jan spoke about listening to Rachmaninoff the entire time he wrote the script for Shine. All these insights were fascinating to me and made the session great.

We had lunch at Degreaves, a little shop and headed home for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I had a little sleep in and then headed into the city. The tram ride from my sisters to the city is a sheer delight. I wandered down to my sneaky little French Creperie, Roule Galette. It is a teeny little cafe hidden in one of the lesser laneways, and authentic with a quirky French guy running the show. And the food is divine.



From there I headed to NGV, my favourite place possibly in the entire world, but at least Australia. Whenever I walk towards that building, I feel my heart skip a beat in the anticipation of what I will see, the pieces I know like the back of my hand and the new exhibitions. Oh boy, the joy and peacefulness of being in that building. It is perfection. This time I was there to see the MoMA exhibit. I have been to MoMA so have actually seen most of the pieces before, but not one to shy away from a blockbuster art exhibition I had to go. 

It was a wonderful afternoon of amazing art. I realised as I moved through the exhibit I had seen a lot of these pieces in other exhibitions over many years of observing art. It was still great, and the shopping in the Art shop (one of my other favourite things) was superb, I went a little nuts. Thank goodness for reciprocal art gallery card. A tip for art lovers, I am a patron for Newcastle Art Gallery, for all of $70 (I think) I get two years worth of membership, which gives me a whole lot of stuff for Newcastle but also gets me into most other Australian art galleries at a cheaper rate and at NGV $15 off shopping!!! I make my money back easily between Sydney and Melbourne let alone Newcastle each year! And I get to assist my local art gallery!

After the exhibit I took a quick little tour through the modern section of the galleries permanent collection to visit a few of my faves.

Australian Music Vault
After NGV I popped into the Arts Centre and had a look at the Australian Music Vault Exhibition. Over the years I have discovered a lot of great exhibits there. It is a smallish space to the right of the building and always free. This was full of memorabilia from Australian Music, posters, costumes, instruments, videos, interactive bits and pieces etc etc. Totally worth a good hour or so of your time if you are there. This will be a long running exhibit from what I can make out and they will exchange some of the display for newer pieces over time. So def one to keep your eye on.

I then headed home taking in the amazing architecture of the city as I love to do.

Tuesday was my people day. I had a lovely long sleep in and headed into the city to meet Julie for lunch. Julie is a Tweep I have been friendly with for years but have never met. We met at the 1932 Cafe, a lovely deco cafe in the Manchester Unity Building that does a great all day breakfast menu. Julie, of course - like most Tweeps I have met - was delightful and we had a great time.
Next I headed out to Brunswick to catch up with my dear friend Michael (another fabulous Tweep and fellow Librarian, we have been friends for years thanks to our mutual friend Anita), who was convalescing in hospital after a Scooter accident. We spent a splendid afternoon in the hospital cafe chatting and catching up.

I next went back to the city and killed some time at the State Library of VIC before meeting Marnie at Chinatown for dinner. Marnie is another tweep from Newcastle who happened to be in Melbs, so was a good opportunity for us to catch up. We had a delicious feast and some wine.

I realised I didn't take a single photo this day!

I had started to feel tired so took this day as a slow and rest day. Long, long sleep in, then headed up to Acland Street, did some shopping, and settled into Abbey Road for lunch and a read of my book. Abbey Road is a huge cafe in the middle of Acland, like a diner with loads of memorabilia and I guess a bit cheesy, but they do great burgers, the music is fab, and you can sit there and chill. Which is just what I did. I then had a little walk and picked up some cakes for later and went home for a nap!

Thursday was a chilly day with rain expected so I headed into the city for a shop and to see the Alice exhibition.

Alice in Wonderland
This exhibit at the ACMI was fabulous. I love this book and collect various editions and memorabilia of it. I had heard about crowds and so forth but was lucky to visit on a cold and quiet day. It was a great exhibition. The earlier stuff was a little freaky, there was a lot of footage of earlier films that were almost horror films, creepy looking rabbits and so forth. Loads of interactive things, and many doors to walk through. Great things for children too. It works through Alice and her history in book and film through the years right up until the Burton film. There was an interesting tea party sans Mad Hatter unfortunately and some great crafting, which I couldn't help but join in on.

The shop was low key which was probably a good thing. Most of the books to buy I already owned, so I didn't have to go overboard. 

I then had a shop in the Ian Potter Gallery Shop, and picked up the most stunning Margaret Olley Calendar for next year.

I then met Anita for lunch, she was there for a MWF event with local schools and we had a wonderful lunch at the ACMI cafe taking time to catch up on our lives since we last saw each other on her last book tour in Newcastle.

By the time we finished lunch the rain had hit, so we dashed off in separate directions, I did a little shop and then headed home for a nap.

That night I met Amanda for dinner at the closest restaurant to her place, we had looked at it and it looked good. A pub feel with a bar and a good classic, reasonably priced menu. We ended up having a three course meal and it was delicious. I think this will easily become her local.

Was a lovely way to spend my last night there.

We said our goodbyes and I finished packing and walked a few blocks to the tram on Fitzroy that would take me to the shuttle collection point. This was only a few stops away but it was cold and looked like rain and I was dragging my suitcase. I got to the shuttle stop easily and took a few pics and just as I got on the shuttle the rain hit. The trip to the airport went smoothly and once my bags were checked I could do what I love to do, airport people watching. It is fun to watch people and wonder what they are up to and make up stories.

It was sad to leave after such a great week, and also sad to leave my sister, but I felt happy she was happy and settled into her new life and with her there now I can visit far more regularly.