August was busy, crazy busy. But I managed some quiet moments and I felt great mentally. I did feel physically unwell most of it, fighting off a weird fluey bug, aching bones, headaches, swollen glands, sore throat. This came and went, came and went, and left me feeling tired and poorly. Not enough to have time off work or need to see a doctor, or even really be 'sick' but enough to slow me a bit, and want a lot of sleep. But you know, I survived!
At work I have been juggling multiple projects, on top of my usual work, each of them inching along slowly, but starting to form into something great as the month progressed. A few weeks prior to going on leave right at the end of the month I did have a minor anxiety attack when I looked at what I needed to achieve prior to my holidays to ensure they all came off as well as I wanted to, but I managed to work my way through them. This is the kind of stress I do well in...mostly...anxiety attacks aside!
One of my projects is a Social Media talk for seniors, I have done many of these before but not on this scale. It will be presented at the very end of September and will (hopefully) turn into multiple one on one sessions over the following months. At the time of writing it has been very popular which is incredibly exciting, and I had better actually finish putting the presentation together! The other project is one I have wanted to do for a long time, Rocktober. Children of the late 70s and early 80s will remember Rocktober! So Rocktober will turn Swansea Library into all things musical during October. I have a lot of things in the mix, and so far it is going as I hoped, more information to follow. The final project I can't talk about yet...but soon...and it's fucking fantastic!!!!!!
We also put up a magnificent Book Week Display, had schools visit us for storytimes, showcased local embroidery, discussed The 100 Year Old Man at Bookclub, had my baby storytime, and watched The Matrix at Movie Night. I really love the diversity of my work.
I have also been out and about in the community of Swansea and surrounding areas, spreading the word about Swansea Library, feeling like a preacher, but hopefully not coming across like one! This is an ongoing project for some years now but it's gaining momentum and I'm feeling the love with those I am collaborating with. This includes my wonderful team and the people we are working with, mostly schools during this past month or so. I am just hoping all this hard work will result in better statistics and more people walking through our doors. So much to compete with these days, but libraries are still relevant and exciting places to visit...so make sure you visit your local library!!
I started the month with a lovely family dinner, we don't do this as regularly as we should, but it's always fun when we do. My niece and nephew - the loves of my life - are growing up so beautifully and are smart, funny, but normal kids. My sister and brother-in-law are doing good!
I finally got to have a meal at Foghorn Brewery, at an ALIA (Library) function. I had their Foghorn Burger and their locally brewed Summer Ale - both great. It has a lovely atmosphere and interesting design, you can see the vats and beer brewing, very industrial, hip, and cool. After the long lunch, I took a long work in the sun, and then checked out a few exhibits at Newcastle Art Gallery. The bottom floor was closed for a new exhibit but upstairs had a few interesting small exhibits. Brett McMahon's Installation was large pieces of geometric abstracts and mixed media, I spent time looking at and meditating there. Different Realities by Peter Boggs was hypnotic oils including some pieces from/on Boboli Gardens in Florence, where I've been. They were lovely. Interior Lives featured pieces from the larger collection depicting domestic spaces and including some beautiful works by Grace Cossington-Smith, a National Treasure for sure!
I still had time to kill so I made the most and read in the sun before meeting A and L at the movies. We saw Trainwreck - we had planned on seeing the Amy Winehouse doco but it was pushed back a week so we choose another Amy - and it was a lot of fun. No Oscar winner here, but that's ok, sometimes you need a mindless movie to just take it as it comes and have a laugh. There is definitely something charismatic about Amy and a scene stealing character from the always remarkable Tilda Swinton. Afterwards we had planned on visiting Parry Street Garage but you couldn't book and there was a very long wait, so we ended up at The Junction Inn and had a great meal, followed by a Blue Heaven milkshake from Jims - that's so Newcastle!
M and I dined at The Clarendon and then headed to The Playhouse for Dylan Thomas: Return Journey, a one man show/play. Bob Kingdom embodied Thomas during this 90 minute show, he was wonderful, witty, poignant. The show was pieces of his life, I guess taking from historical information and fleshed out, laced with his beautiful poems. The pieces were very funny, wry witted, and just lovely. The poems were, without a doubt, show stopping stunning. Every night at The Theatre should be this good!
The following night I headed to The Conservatorium to meet L and C for Visual Arts. This was a wonderful evening of homegrown Novocastrian Music, Film, and Dance. It was a magnificent collaboration with performers ranging from very young to 86. The music was a joyous combination of jazz, classical, and choral works, all modern and all composed by Novocastrian Frank Millward. All the music was backed by interesting visuals which added to the experience.
I also had a long weekend where I chilled at home, walked, read, and slept and I really needed that. I do got out a lot for an introvert, so these quieter weekends are really important to help me recharge my batteries and give me the quiet I often crave.
C and I had dinner at The Clarendon before spending a delightful evening at The Ballet. It was her maiden expedition to The Ballet and I loved seeing her excitement.
The second last weekend was intense, soccer semis, the new Woody Allen, Amy Winehouse doco, Hamlet, and Go Set A Watchmen. Sometimes I don't think these things through!
Irrational Man, the new Woody Allen, was pretty good. Not one of his best, but certainly better than most movies out there. I loved the dialogue and script, particularly the first half of the movie. Emma Stone was a delight as always, and Joaquin Phoenix also good. Lovely to see Parker Posey in a small role, shame it wasn't fleshed out better. The ending left a lot to be desired, and the plot kinda reminded me of Crimes and Misdemeanors, I must rewatch to see if Woody is starting to rehash!
My nephew won his semis for Soccer which was exciting. It was a tight match and you can see these young boys starting to grow into fine, athletic men. I was away for the finals, but they went down 1 point. Apparently he was gutted, but put in a gallant effort. That afternoon I headed for my Book Club to discuss the controversial Go Set A Watchman. You can read all about my thoughts leading up to, reading, and of course our discussion of the book here.
J, L and I had Napoli for dinner. I hadn't been there since it opened, and was pleased to see nothing much had changed. It was still as busy and popular as ever, and the food amazing. Pizzas as they are meant to be eaten, just like we did in Italy. Afterwards we saw Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary.
M, J, C, and I dined at The Clarendon (yes it's the place to go before the theatre, mostly as parking is shite in Newcastle, and it's nearby and you don't have to move cars!) before M, C and I headed to The Civic for Bell Shakespeare's Hamlet. I do love Shakespeare, and had seen Hamlet a few times before, but this was a superb production. I have been quite open in my love and then unlove for Bell Shakespeare over the years. I feel they went through a rough patch where they just either tried too hard or not hard enough and the plays presented were ordinary. I kept the faith until they ruined my favourite, Macbeth, with a very ordinary production including a Coles plastic bag for the witches cauldron and the weakest Lady Macbeth I had ever seen. I think I even dozed off in parts!! It took a while for me to see them again but they won me back with a very wicked and clever Richard III a few years old. Hamlet was very edgy, modern, with a stasi edge of spying on the key character, in terms of reporting what was happening, which sounds convoluted but worked well. Hamlet was sexy and wild and completely mad, also hilariously funny. In fact, the play had been tweaked to include far more jokes than it usually had and it was all the better for it. Hamlet is touring still, so if you get a chance, it's a must see.
The month ended as it began with a lovely family dinner out at Verda Luna, for my sister, A's birthday. We had amazing Italian feast, followed by delicious Red Velvet Mudcake back at my parents.
And the final weekend I flew out to Melbourne for 10 days. I will blog about that very soon!!!
And some photos...