Showing posts with label Newcastle Writers Festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Newcastle Writers Festival. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2015

hello old friends

Oh my goodness, where does time go?

If you'd asked me recently when I'd last blogged I would've said, "Oh, a few weeks ago...." But January? Eep! Back to putting 'me' first (and that includes this blog!)

So, I shan't be filling you in on everything I've been doing recently - ain't nobody got time for that!

I know I bang on about Newcastle being spectacularly beautiful - but hello! It IS spectacularly beautiful. A few weekends ago I trekked up this hill to Nobby's lighthouse with some friends to see Elsewhere - a music festival with a difference.

The difference was that it was held in what must be the most spectacular venue in, well look, I'm gonna say the world.

Come on. Check it out!

The performances were sublime, especially Paul Dempsey and my new love Steve Smyth who has the voice of an angel and a devilish grin. He also plays his guitar so hard the strings pop.

Then it was off to this fab venue, Newcastle City Hall, for the Newcastle Writers Festival. Three days of fabulousness. My head's still exploding with ideas. Don't ask me what my favourite session is - I don't think I could tell you (although I think it's the session on Biography with Erik Jenson and David Leser). The program was chockers with interesting people and topics. Can't wait till next year!

I moderated a fab panel on self-publishing with these guys. Now, I've interviewed many people over the years, but these three were just so wonderful. So honest and open with their answers it was brilliant. We stuffed a lot into that hour, but could've talked all night. Greg Field, Francesca Suters and Nim Gholkar are the authors - look them up!

Now, another Novocastrian blogger, A Curious Novocastrian, Instagrammed a fabulous piece of art over the writer's festival weekend and despite having spent HOURS in City Hall I'd never seen it. Well, how on earth I missed something so enormous and so gorgeous is beyond me but here it is.

Friday night (yep, I'm up to this weekend!) I went to the opening of a freshly curated exhibition at The Lock Up. I love The Lock Up. It's such a unique space. Even to this day it freaks me out, and I can't spend more than a minute or two in one of the old cells without feeling claustrophobic - but it's a space that challenges your ideas.

Look at what was happening in the old exercise yard! Music, critters stuck to the roof and lots of people chatting over a glass of wine. Bliss.

Hope all's well in your world. See you again really soon x

Sunday, April 06, 2014

it's only words

I'm pretty sure that my idea of heaven is being surrounded by people who love books as much as I do {oh, and sleeping in this bed may *also* be my idea of heaven - hello!}. So this weekend of the Newcastle Writers Festival is ticking all my boxes.

The opening night with Wendy Harmer started the weekend off beautifully. Wendy was in fine form regaling us with tales of chick lit and hen lit - highlighting that while chick lit isn't considered highbrow, it has so many attributes that make it valuable. The after-party at Newcastle Art Gallery was worth the soggy walk in the rain from the Con. I got to chat to so many inspiring people - surrounded by glorious art. What's not to love?

I only managed to make two sessions yesterday, thanks to netball taking up the hours from 8am to 1pm, but both sessions were outstanding. I loved listening to former Vogue Editor Kirstie Clements in conversation with Newcastle's Jean Bas. As a mag-hag of old, getting an insight into one of Australia's leading magazine editors was just fascinating. Sipping a glass of Dom Perignon while I did so iced a rather magnificent cake!

Then last night I went off with my gal-pals to The Edwards for the Dear Diary session. I was tagged in a tweet before we left from author Jack Ellis who'd just happened to nab the last table, one for six, so my friends and I caught up with Jack and Summer Land who's on my panel this afternoon for pre-session drinkies and dinner. Jack's got a new book that's just been released this month, and it sounds so awesome that I'll be adding it to my to-buy list today. After a dinner that included pork scratchings and chips {hi, Cholesterol? I'm PPMJ, pleased to make your acquaintance…} we went out the other room for the Dear Diary session.

Panelists included Tim Ferguson, Monica Dux, Linda Jaivan, Jeff Aptor, Summer Land and Dom Knight. They read excerpts from their childhood diaries, which made for hilariously squirmy listening. The panel had me in hysterics, and had me quickly following Monica Dux on Twitter {why hasn't anyone told me about this witty and fabulous woman before? WHY?}. Summer's reading had me doubled-over - let's hope I don't collapse in too many giggly fits on my panel with her and Carol Duncan this afternoon. She's a scream.

While this weekend may have my credit card screaming in agony, and my bookshelves buckling under the weight of all my new purchases, I can't think of a better way to support a creative community that trades in my favourite commodity - words. Thank you Rosemarie Milsom for making the Newcastle Writers Festival a reality.

This is fast turning out to be the Best. Weekend. EVER!

image from here

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

confessions of a book lover

You know what I love? Books.

I've been an avid reader as far back as my memory takes me {which, to be honest, isn't a long way…} I've always been surrounded by books, but, as this pic shows - there's no particular order to my shelves…

Take a closer look. I'm lucky to have books by the same author next to each other. Some of the Harry Potter series are here on this shelf, the rest? Probably on another shelf in another room… I'm a librarian's nightmare, not to mention those people who alphabetise or order by colour...

So, for a booklover, what's the ideal event on a literary calendar? Yep, a writer's festival! The Newcastle Writers Festival in fact. I *think* I have my weekend planned out. I'm starting with the opening on Friday night featuring Wendy Harmer, who I've adored ever since her The Big Gig days.

The Saturday's going to be tricky, as it's my teams first netball game of the season. Our first game's at 9am, so I should be able to coach the team, race over to City Hall to check out Rough and Tumblr at 10am and then get back for my daughter's game at 12. I have a break before Vogue and Beyond at 2.30 at Reserve Bar (we get champagne with this session darling). Then I'll duck down to Newcastle Art Gallery for a book launch before going home to freshen up in time for Dear Diary at 8pm at The Edwards.

Sunday will start at 10am with She: True Stories, followed by ABC Open Reading at 11.15. Then I have a quick lunch break before Radical Newcastle at 1.30. Then it's my session, I Blog Therefore I Am at 2:45. {Goodness, best not forget that one!} After all that it's home for a wee rest I think.

What a chockers weekend. But gee, I can't wait. I always walk out inspired by weekends such as these. The creativity and generosity of the panellists is always overwhelming. Hey, if I see you there, please say hello!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

newcastle writers festival: i get around

Today the program for the second Newcastle Writers Festival was launched. Hurrah! Opening on Friday April 4, and featuring a packed program on Saturday and Sunday, lovers of literature from Newcastle and beyond will hit Newcastle for a literary fix.

For those who are new to Newcastle I thought I'd write a bit of a guide to getting around and grabbing some food or coffee in our fabulous city. To make things easier, I'll divide the city into sections: West End, East End, City Centre or Honeysuckle. Ready?

West End

There's been a lot of action in the West End of late, with fab coffee shops popping up in the most unexpected places. The latest launch is festival venue The Edwards - open from 7am till midnight is a must-visit. A gorgeous space with great food, drinks and atmosphere. While you're in the West End check out Bank Corner in Bellevue Street Newcastle West (open late with a secret courtyard that makes for a fabulous Deco winebar), or take a short stroll around the corner to The Social for fab coffee and food with a cuban influence.

City Centre

There's always action on Darby Street - a hub of cafés, restaurants and funky shops filled with bespoke beauty. If you fancy a cider or cocktail between sessions check out 5 Sawyers or The Hop Factory - both on Darby Street. Don't miss festival venue Agosti Espresso with their divine Art Deco reno and, as the name suggests - coffee! (and food and more). Or just around the corner back in Hunter Street try The Clarendon Hotel - pub food with a fancy twist as the kitchen's now held by hatted Chef Lesley Taylor.

One must-not-miss venue is The Press Book House - a café combined with second hand bookstore - any reader's dream. They have a delicious range of tea, great coffee and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves groaning with vintage fabulousness. I swoon.

Now, hopefully Coal & Cedar will be opening soon. However, it's a speakeasy so keep its location hush-hush...


Down on the harbour is Honeysuckle, and if there's one thing I'm proud of, it's our beautiful working harbour. My fave spots down here are MoneyPenny with their ever-changing bespoke cocktail menu and The Landing and their truffled fries (oh my!)

If you have time, go for a wander along the foreshore. If you're lucky you might see a couple of cute tugboats guiding in a majestic bulk carrier. Take your phone - it's very Instagramable down there.

East End

Hello fancy pants. The East End is where Newcastle gets really swish. There are bars-a-plenty and plenty of cafés to get your caffeine fix. For bars, check out:

  • Casa de Loco - hello tequila and mezcal bar with brilliant *real* mexican food
  • Name the Lane - cool cocktails and tapas
  • Le Passe Temps - authentic French wine bar, with French staff. Le swoon
  • Reserve Wine Bar - high end wines and divine whiskeys in a gorgeous location
  • Grain Store - beers-a-plenty of tap, the good stuff, not the average.
When it comes to food, well, you can get food at all the bars mentioned above - or you can have a Spanish feast at Bocados, German delights at Oma's Kitchen, fab coffee, breaky or lunch at One Penny Black or Sprocket or Good Brother or fab Japanese at Asa Don. Oh, and cupcakes, coffee and drinks next door at Hello Naomi.

Phew, it's too much for one weekend isn't it? And I haven't even mentioned the awesomeness that is Maitland Road Islington, the vintage shopping delights all over town, or Maryville and Baked Uprising

However, I will insist that you allow yourself a moment to check out our wonderful Newcastle Art Gallery (where the beautiful Lucas Grogan mural above features). 

Actually, you can't possibly do all this in one weekend.

You'd best come back again - we haven't even spoken about our beautiful beaches... 

Saturday, April 06, 2013

be inspired

I knew I was going to love seeing Miriam Margolyes open the Newcastle Writers Festival. But I did not expect to fall deeply, head-over-heels for her. I didn't expect that I would soar to dizzying highs of hysteria, to tears of empathy, to clasping my hands together in sheer delight.

What a magnificent woman.

What presence.

What a voice.

What a face.

What a once-in-a-lifetime-experience.

When Rose-Marie Milsom, organiser of the Newcastle Writers Festival spoke she said: "Once I had Miriam, I knew everything else would fall into place."

No wonder. Miriam took us all into her heart, and had us eating from her palm. Speaking of Why Words Matter, Miriam said: "Voices and words are what truly connects us as human beings. Clearly words matter dreadfully; they express joy, anger and passion. Vowels carry the emotion, consonants carry the sense. So it's important to not mumble!"

My favourite quote was this: "The arts hold the soul of a nation which is why it is CRIMINAL to reduce their budgets. Let's get that into the heads of the government and councils." This was spoken to tremendous applause from an audience clearly in favour of the Newcastle Art Gallery Redevelopment, and still in a state of shock that some of our councillors don't understand its value.

What a start to a fabulous festival, all the product of one person's passion, and a powerful team behind her. Bravo Rose-Marie, and thank you for organising this rather fabulous festival. I can't wait to see what else it has to offer.