Saturday, April 29, 2017

red(y) freddy

I thought I'd lost my blog.

A few months ago someone hacked our credit card, so we had to get a new one. You know how the biggest hassle about losing a card is working out where it's connected? The biggest pain was my domain registration for my blog.

Many hours of angst trying to find out how to log in to my google account and update it led to the ticking frustration of it being one day before my name expired and "POOOOF!" my blog would disappear.

You know how you only appreciate something when you lose it?

I didn't want to lose it.

So I switched back to blogspot - just in time to work out how to update my credit card details...

All's good yeah?

Well, no.

See, I couldn't work out how to get google to recognise my domain name (despite my actually owning it for years). Posting in a series of incoherent codes into various pages around the web just wasn't working.

And my blog was gone. For a week!

But then a hero came along.

Brendan from Hyperweb Communications heard my cries of distress over twitter and came to my rescue. And see, it's fixed. Hurrah!

This makes me as happy as my new red tights (pictured above).

Thursday, January 26, 2017


I can't imagine that there's a better feeling than FINALLY doing something you've been vowing to do for years. Ever since MONA opened in Tasmania I've had a desperate hankering to attend. And to top it off, I wanted to visit during MOFO - the summer festival of art and music.

So last year, I said "right, that's it, I'm going in 2017."

And I did.

Hubby had his cycling trip to Bright planned, my gal's not interested, so I asked my bestie from Uni. She was IN. It helped that as an academic this was basically a work-related trip for her - made the choice even easier.

Now, when it comes to travelling to MONA, the cry from those who've been there before was loud: travel by ferry and get thee to the Posh Pit. At first, my inner scrooge baulked at the tiny extra cost. But then, in the interest of really experiencing it, we went for it. On the Friday, we wandered down to the Ferry and caught the special MONA ferry.

I heart the posh pit.

Greeted with a glass of bubbles that attentive, boiler-suit-clad staff insist on regularly topping up (yes, even at 9.30am - what of it?) I was already in love.

Then check out the canap├ęs on offer.


Gone to heaven.

Arriving at MONA we had timed tix to the free exhibition On the Origin Of Art. Four scientists curated four exhibits that you viewed after choosing a doorway (so much like choosing a window on PlaySchool!).

This was mind-blowing. We spent hours immersed in these rooms. Words can't describe. It was just the best thing I've ever seen that's all.

This Leda and the Swan was stunning. Bold, lush, compelling it dominated the room.

This, check out this.

Because it was MOFO, there were musical acts in the most surprising spaces. This gallery was one. Haunting.

I had to buy the book on the story of MONA - M and I couldn't believe that an architect and David Walsh could have such grandiose vision realised. Look at this incredibly long concrete tunnel that leads to an intensely powerful pavillion.

If you're going to ferry people to your museum you SHOULD custom build a multi-million dollar ferry with sheep for seats up the back. How can something be simultaneously ominous and welcoming? How?

Look, everyone's been drinking whisky for yonks. Except me. I decided Tasmania would be the place to rectify that. And that this bar underground at MONA would be the optimal venue.

It was. An attentive barman listened to our tastes and selected these babies. Neat.

We visited Battery Point, where a lovely woman in a lovely shop told us we must see the dusk light show in the Turrell Pavillion at MONA.

Holy dooly.

Sitting on warmed marble benches, with the Tasmanian dusk already turning on a show - we were treated to this. Doesn't do it justice - you have to see it.

You really do.

If ever I were to be inspired to take up landscape painting this would be my muse. 

And then, on the final morning, we bid farewell to our heritage sandstone AirBnB, gazed down over West Hobart, and plotted our return. Dark MOFO 2018 - see you soon.

Monday, January 02, 2017

new year, more joy

Hello 2017!

I'm facing this year with optimism and joy. It's a big year in our house - it's our daughter's final year of schooling, so we'll be all hands on deck helping her not just survive, but thrive through year 12. That means a lot of smiles, a lot of support, loads of healthy snacks and meals and whatever it takes to make the year as stress-free and successful as possible.

She's also got a reward to look forward to, Christmas in England with our relatives followed by her birthday and New Year's Eve in New York. If that doesn't inspire her, nothing will!

I'm also looking forward to a new year in my new job. I love it so. I'm surrounded by people in my team who love what they do - and love what I do. It's a joy to go to work every day. Having come out of a very negative and stressful work experience a while back, I won't ever put myself through that again. Life's too short - you've got to do what you love - with people you like.

My motto this year is 'smile first'.


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?