Wednesday, December 28, 2016

my (sand) bucket list

I'm on holidays. I adore holidays. No alarms, nothing urgent to do, just endless time spread before you. Don't worry, I'm making the most of it. In fact, I've decided to create a little list of things I'm keen to do in the summer months.

And, in typical me-fashion, I've already ticked on off before curating the list! Here's my summer (sand) bucket list.

  • Swim in the newly reopened Bogey Hole (I did this yesterday after RIDING my bike there - and pushing my bike up some of the bigger hills - I really need to master gears...)
  • Have an evening picnic at King Edward Park using my new pale blue picnic basket.
  • Ride the Fernleigh Track.
  • Eat fish and chips from Scotties.
  • Have a night swim at Merewether Ocean Baths.
  • Have an early morning swim at Newcastle Ocean Baths.
  • Hone up on my French speaking skills.
  • Read a book a week.
  • Cook a new recipe per week.
  • Paint all the outdoor furniture.
  • Ride my bike every day.
  • Swim at least every second day.
  • Listen to more music.
Do you have any summer to-do items? 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

love this city

When we were in Venice in 2006 I was delighted to see that buildings undergoing restoration were wrapped in a photo-image of what lies beneath. So I couldn't be more happy to see that my hometown has done the same.

Newcastle City Hall is undergoing a restoration (not just a spray from a high-pressure cleaner - NOT what heritage sandstone needs!) After last year's stunning restoration of the clock tower I hold high hopes that this glorious building will live on for another 100+ years to serve as a stunning centrepiece to our city.

So, are you on the countdown to Christmas? We are. In fact, we even hung some lights out the front of the house! Blue icicles, which give it a very pretty glow. I seem to see a lot more lights in our neighbourhood this year - I think we all need some joy after a very trying 2016.

I have two more days of work before a blissful two weeks of time off. Bring on swimming, cycling, reading and hopefully a lil bit of French language learning. Yep, I'm doing it again. With any luck it'll sink in a bit more this time around.

Have a lovely Christmas PPMJ x

Saturday, December 10, 2016

back in the blogger's seat

Well hello there! It's been a while hasn't it? You'll be please to know that it's because I've been blissfully busy. I am besotted with my new job. I work with the NICEST people and have what seems to be an illegal amount of fun doing what I do.
What do I do? Well, my job is to share the research of talented researchers at the Uni. And boy, is there some talent there. I'm yet to interview anyone who hasn't left my mouth agape in wonder at what they do, and the enthusiasm with which they do it. I can't wait to get to work every day and get started. That's a nice way to be isn't it?

Family life's been fab. That pic is my glass of bubbles held up right near hubby's as we celebrated 15 years of marriage with A Day On The Green with the Temper Trap and Garbage. It was fitting, as we met going out to see live music and spent our early years immersed in music. (Still love it actually - and have passed it on to our gal).

Our Gal's finished year 11, only a couple more days of school then next year BAM it's into Year 12. Please explain to me where those years have gone! She's currently the world's happiest girl as it's her fave month of the year. You will be lucky to meet a bigger Christmas lover than this kid. It's her birthday month, so we like to celebrate all month long. 

Why not?

I'm still getting utter joy from my bike rides, and why wouldn't I when this pic above is my mid-way point? No matter what time of day it always turns on a show.

I hope you're all well, and prepped for the festive season. All you need is love really isn't it? From family or friends. Enjoy x

Sunday, August 28, 2016

vintage tweed ride #4

You know a good time was had when there are few pics to tell the tale!

Today's Vintage Tweed Bike Ride was, as always, utterly magnificent. This year Vicki handed over the reins (or handlebars) to her daughter Jess - and what an organiser Jess is. The ride was brimming with people all decked out in their Sunday best tweed (except me, who, as always rebelled - blue floral frock and red cape in case you're wondering).

The array of bikes was breathtaking, so many original vintage lovelies in glorious colours. Check out this one above which is like a clotted cream with a little lemon curd swirled through.


Excuse me, would you have a look at that sky! And the peeps on parade. Seriously, everyone just looked so darned spiffing. Can we make it a law for people to dress up more often? I will put up my hand to police it! In the nicest possible way of course!

We rode the usual route, through Islington, along the creek, then the harbour until we reached Nobbys. Delightfully, the sweet peeps from The Commons had a wee coffee wagon set up with delightful cakes such as rhubarb and nutmeg (that had my name on it) lemon myrtle and yoghurt and authentic-looking shortbread.

And all funds raised from coffee and cake went to a fabulous thing called Bike Pirates a community bike shed and hangout space. Sweet huh!

Now, I felt VERY IMPORTANT as Jess asked if I'd help her judge the prizes. What an honour! Now, I am a bit of a crap judge as I am VERY Hot Chocolate (as in, Everyone's A Winner Baby That's The Truth) and it was very, very, very hard to choose. But choose we did: best dressed woman, best dressed man, best picnic, best kid, rarest beast (this went to a woman in a fur, with a cigarette in a long holder, riding a unicyle with a wheel the size of a penny farthing!) ...

And best restoration was totally in the bag until I walked past this guy.

Now, I'd seen his bike at the start of the ride and it was so shiny and new I just assumed it was shiny and new. So as Jess and I wandered to confirm out Best Dressed Man award (penny farthing socks and leather pant protectors sealed that deal) I said to this guy "Love the colour of your bike!" and he said "Thanks, it's a match to the original,"

Well, that stopped me in my tracks. So I had to learn more.

Then I heard the tale.

This 1967 Malvern Star was found on the tip, and he's spent the past two years painstakingly restoring it. Right down to re-chroming nuts and original handlebars. Hunting down original stickers. Seriously, it's breathtaking.


Today was its first-ever ride.

And we had our winner.

What a day. Jess, thank you. Vicki, thank you. And every single person who participated, or who smiled at us along the way, thank you!

I love this city.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

newy night ride

So, last night I had the best night in, like, ever.

It was the very-first Newy Night Ride - where people gathered in Wheeler Place, decked out their bikes (and their helmets - and for some, their bodies!) in solar or battery-powered fairy lights and rode around Newcastle.

77 people came along. The bikes were all in varying shades of fabulous (from fabulous to FABULOUS) and everyone wore a gigantic smile.

My bike was on the understated side.

But my lights were pale blue loveheart lanterns.

And yes, in case you were worried I was too understated that IS a disco ball in my basket.

We started off a little after 6 as we were waiting for Bernie. I wasn't sure who this was at first (until I found out he was the owner of my fave bike shop - Metro Cycles) and then when I saw him, I knew why we'd waited.

Not only did that disco ball top my disco ball, Bernie had a full-on sound-system in this cargo carrier bike. And he blasted 70s disco for the full ride.

Was I in heaven? Oh yes I was.

We rode around Honeysuckle and over and around Carrington, bringing smiles to people's faces as they glanced up from their dinners. Mobile phones were raised and I'll be there are plenty of videos on Instagram and Facebook saying "I have no idea what this is, but it's fabulous!"

The ride was so well-organised. We had marshals throughout who guided us across roads and waved and smiled at happy cars who would let us through. A highlight was when we filled a sidestreet, and a police car came down the other side of the road, and lit up his car and whooped the sirens in solidarity with us.

The night ended at The Edwards in the new beer garden. I love how these guys embrace fun Newcastle things. It can't have been easy finding parking for 50-odd bikes in the new space!

So many people say to me "I don't know how you do it" when I say what I've done on the weekend - but I feel it's so important to make an effort to support new and fabulous things. I was so tired yesterday that I just wanted to flop on the couch, and then, when my solar lanterns didn't charge, it could've been easy to give up. But no, I nicked my daughter's loveheart lights from her bedroom wall (with her permission!) and went along on a night that will bring me joy whenever I recall it.

Thanks Tom and Gus and all the team for organising this. And thanks to the Sydney Night Ride peeps who came up to share in this event. Legends all.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Looking up when you're walking around

I've been making the time to exercise lately. The days are getting longer, and the skies are looking spectacular! Check out this incredible cloud formation on sunset the other day.

It just got better. It was so fab in fact, that I was inspired to go for a before-dinner walk AFTER sunset. Luckily I live in a safe suburb - where many, many people are also out walking, running or riding (or catching PokemonGO).

I had to walk through this, my new favourite thing in my suburb. Mr Trevor Dickinson's fabulous underground aquarium. It's such a delight.

Then it leads to this. Merewether Baths are just always glorious, and at dusk they take on a special hue. I think there's nothing more fabulous.

The starters blocks are iconic. I walked past a house that had a fab duo of photos on the wall that was obviously a 50th birthday pressie - a kid on the five block, and next to it, a shot of the zero.

Very clever and effective.

Today was a Good Drying Day so I spent the morning washing the sheets and letting them bleach in the sun and dry in the wind. There'll be sweet dreams tonight! Then, even though there were a lot of clouds, I got on my bike.

I did my usual ride out to Nobby's Breakwall (dodging 9 million black-clad PokemonGo players) and decided it was so lovely I should just keep going.

I rode down to Honeysuckle, stopping only to take shots of glorious clouds. (Seriously, how glorious are clouds!)

Then off to Wickham, up through Maryville and on the shared pathway to Islington Park.

Two hours later and I'm home. Sure, I'll be sadddle-sore tomorrow, but it was sooooo worth it.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

so they call this shutter love

For YEARS I've wanted shutters in our bedrooms.


But they're ever-so-exxy and husband wasn't quite sure if they'd suit the heritage style of the house. We've had them for a month now and I. Am. In. Love.

They look glorious, keep out a fair chunk of sunlight (and moonlight!), and the team that fitted them ensured that all the beautiful Victorian features of our bay window were still highlighted.

We got them in our room and our gal's room and couldn't be happier.

How good is it when you finally do something you've been wanting to do for yonks! Now, for that bathroom reno I've got planned in my head...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

isabella + frida = perfection

So, I had my second mental-health cleanse, trip-away. I went to Sydney for two days and stayed overnight in the VERY fabulous QT Hotel. All alone. How much did I love that hotel? Well, this morning my husband actually asked "Do you want to marry that hotel?" and my answer was a resounding, well, YES!

My friend M and I went to check out, and be enthralled by, the Isabella Blow exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum. Oh my. I walked in knowing little about Blow, but walked out wanting to learn so much more. Her dedication to fashion was one-of-a-kind - and her love for hats just blows my mind. We were treated to snippets of her wardrobe, from Philip Treacey headpieces, down to Manolo Blahnik shoes (with a lot of McQueen in between!)!

 It's impossible to pinpoint the one outfit I fell in love with - but this glorious red number below is pretty much top of the list. Can you EVEN?

Then I checked into my hotel and LOOK at the bedside lamp. IT'S A HAT!

The QT reno is Deco-delicious. Check out the moody hallway!

Here's the view of the QVB through the sheer black curtains in my room!

 The parlour downstairs is the perfect spot for a breakfast if you want to feel like you've been transported to Berlin (which I very often do)

Oh, and how's this? The makings for an espresso martini on a glass tray. Merely call room service for some ice, mix, shake and sip.

On Monday we headed to the Art Gallery of NSW to see the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit. Appropriately there were MASSES of these shocking pink blooms dotted around the place. I can just see Frida casually grabbing a few and weaving them sensuously through her hair...

Serendipitously we were early which meant that we could immerse ourselves in Cate Blanchett's Manifesto. This extraordinary woman crafts 13 different characters in short films that are a surround-sound-and-sight extravaganza.

Never before have I been so utterly blown away by art.

How popular was Frida (and Diego)? Um, this popular. Yep, it was chockers. And slow-going. But so worth it.

Frida was an amazing woman, and the odd love story between the two made for compulsive viewing.

I left both exhibits wanting to make fashion more a centrepiece of my life, and to make the political even more personal.

We're only here for a short time. It should be for a good time, and to do good.

Don't you think?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

garden glories

These roses are the gift that keeps on giving. While our hybrid teas are mere sticks with a couple of leaves, Duchess de Brabant is still delighting with musk-scented pale pink nodding flowers (with a David Austin red peeking its head over the back!).

I finally found a gardener recently, who's pruned the four metre high, 10 metre long lily pilly hedge by the pool and weeded and mulched the front garden. It's a delight. I think I've gained more benefit from getting a gardener than a housecleaner (particularly as the cat sheds hair faster than anyone can vacuum!).

I'm driving down to Sydney today to catch up with some friends, check out the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition and stay in the fancy/schmancy QT Hotel (now this is LUXURY - a hotel room, BY MYSELF for a night).

My emotional cleanse between jobs is going swimmingly well I must say. If ever you get a chance to just do something for yourself, no matter how small, may I highly recommend it.

Even if it's just taking time to smell the roses.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

escape to melbourne

I had a sneaky couple of days in Melbourne this week. I've actually (for the first time EVER) managed to get myself two weeks off before starting a new job (with a lovely, lovely team, doing very fab things - still at the Uni) so I took advantage of my friend saying "Wanna come down to Melbourne with me?"

The answer had to be yes.

And, as it was winter, I got to wear my cape (hurrah!).

I took this extraordinary book with me to keep me company. Anna Spargo Ryan's words are just so achingly beautiful that I'm taking it slowly. To savour them

Speaking of savouring...

I caught an earlier flight than my friend, so I made straight for Degraves laneway and went to Degraves Espresso for this utterly delicious slow-cooked ragu.

Deadset, it was one of the most exquisite sauces I've ever tasted. Rich, decadent and divine.

I got tremendously lost on a tram, then on foot, and finally found my way to the hotel. One gin and tonic the size of my head later we checked in, then caught up with an old uni friend and her partner in their new pad. He cooked dinner, we drank wine and chatted.

It was perfection.

The next day I caught the train to have coffee with my baby bro, mum and step dad. Then mum and I caught the train in to the city where I gazed in wonder at the extraordinary ceiling and chimney structure inside Melbourne Central.

Isn't it something!

I had to buy big at Sephora to make it up to my gal for leaving her alone for a couple of days (well, not alone, my husband was here!). So what better way to make it up to a sixteen-year-old than with French make-up? (I may have purchased a few pretties for myself...)

We checked out 200 years of Fashion at the National Gallery of Victoria and marvelled at the handiwork and incredibly teeny-tiny sizes of women 100+ years ago.  As mum spent most of her younger years making her own clothes it was great to check out the handiwork together and reminisce of covered buttons and seamwork.

I spied with my little eye this incredible work of art by Adnate. This guy painted my favourite artwork in Newcastle - an extraordinary piece of a young Aboriginal boy who looks up over Newcastle Harbour from Wickham. What he conveys with the eyes, and all through the work of spray paint is just amazing. Such a talent.

We didn't feel like lunch so mum suggested coffee and cake. I knew where to go. Now, here's my theory - if you're going to have cake, make it worthwhile. So we headed for French patisserie Laurent. It was lovely. While we sat at a marble counter sipping coffee and eating sweets a man walked down the laneway in front of us with a massive ram on a lead. Yep, a boy sheep (he was VERY obviously a boy!). Not exactly what you expect to see in Melbourne let me tell you.

 How much do I love Melbourne laneways, let me count the ways.

Mum left to go back on the train so I checked out the Scorsese exhibit at the ACMI. It was. Well. Powerful. And violent. And dark. And confrontational.

But extraordinary.

This was cool - an insight into Scorsese's childhood dining room. With an interview with his parents playing on a tv. Amazing.

Then back to the hotel before going to an impromptu catch up with another friend from Uni. We went to a very fab bar in St Kilda before trying to perfect the perfect selfie in his apartment. Too much fun.

But how good is this pic? Just shows the whole joy of the couple of days.

I love a random adventure.

Oh, and before flying out this morning I got to catch up with my step-sister for a lovely breakfast in a laneway before bussing it out to the airport and home again.

My soul's refreshed.

Nothing like a good soul cleanse is there?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

it's science bitches

I get to do the most fun things.

For example, over the past few months I've been working a group of young scientists on this! Bringing science to the pub in Newcastle. Well, The Edwards to be exact.

Pint of Science is an international event that came to Australia and now we've brought it to Newcastle. And, in very chuff-worthy-news - we were the first team to sell out (every single night!)

Yep, three nights of science with a sold out crowd.

Here is the very fabulous Chloe modelling the super-awesome shirt that we all received thanks to national sponsor Young Henrys (a damned fine beer).

photo: Chris Brown

Emma is one of my favourite scientists, and here's why - she made a roomful of 50 people stick a tasting stick on their tongue and poke it out. See, these sticks let you know if you're a 'taster' or a 'non-taster'. For some, the strips just tasted like paper - for others - they were a little tasty - for others, it was like they'd sucked on a whole bag of lemons.

Apparently I'm a non-taster. Non-tasters tend to eat more and be less fussy than tasters. That explains A LOT.

photo: David Beckett

Over three nights we gathered together the most incredible array of MCs, speakers and audience. Here's our night two: Down To Earth crowd. We learned about the ocean, clouds and coasts on this night - it was bloody brilliant!

There are so many things I'm proud of. 

One: we brought science to a whole new crowd and they loved it! We had people begging us to put on more events (and we will - next year!) and people turning up on the door hoping to be let in to a sold-out event.

Two: three nights went off without a hitch - diverse speakers, entertaining MCs and an enthralled audience in a very cool venue.

Three: gender equity baby. A team of five women brought together 3 women MCs (one man) and four women speakers (three men). This was coincidental - we just chose the best people for the job - and we happen to have awesome women in Newcastle. The only night we were conscious of balance was the final night when we had two male speakers so we had two women MCs balancing it out.

photo: Jazz and Jeyn

This is what a group of very happy women look like after pulling off something that we'd only dreamed of. The very fabulous Chloe had the idea to bring this to Newy, and thanks to her organisational skills (and the brilliant National Organiser Mayan) we did it.

Bring on next year.

And thanks Emma for the blog title inspiration.