Wednesday, June 25, 2014

THE SAX IS BACK!

A very early memory of mine is the time I told my mother I wanted to play the saxophone. I was sitting in the back seat of our station wagon, my mum was driving and her friend was in the front passenger seat. When you're a child, anyone who isn't your immediate family represents an audience you're always seeking to impress. Mum's response to my statement might well have been only to show her friend how darn cute kids could be but it tore me up: "Is it because Lisa Simpson plays the saxophone?" She was totally correct and I was totally embarrassed. As a child, there's little that could be more humiliating than being caught out being a copy-cat. My denial was disproportionate to her question (but totally proportionate to how embarrassed I felt): a loud, obnoxious NO! (and I would be unsurprised if it were also accompanied by a frustrated kick to the back of the seat in front of me).

I wish I could say that I did end up playing the saxophone. It was, after all, the only instrument I was destined to play, given my excellent lung capacity, good ear and capable fingers! (Honest, they're some of my best traits!!!) But that didn't happen. Instead I moved on from the saxophone, in much the same way most musicians did after sax saturation of the 80's and 90's. Though I loved the way it turned a great song into one that makes you wait for the good bit, the way the electric guitar or an awesome middle 8 does, I didn't see a place for it in the present. It was all nostalgia, and I kick myself for thinking this way because now it's back, in a new and exciting way! Here's two songs which make the sax star again. I'm completely addicted.

SHARON TATE: RECOLLECTION


It is so sad and completely unfair that recollections of Sharon Tate are often only associated with her untimely death. To many, Sharon Tate was one of the most beautiful women to ever have lived and even to this day her style is emulated by photographers, designers and fashionistas alike. Finally, though, we have a book that celebrates her life and the beautiful person that she was, rather than the manner in which she was taken from the world. Fans, those who knew her, and those who appreciate her impact on popular culture know that Sharon deserved this beautiful tribute. For those who aren't familiar with her as a model, actress and icon, this book is the best possible introduction. Her story is told through hundreds of stunning images, quotes and short essays from those who knew her. I absolutely love this book, for both its incredible content and what it ultimately stands for. This is a must-have. Find it here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SO YOU'VE BEEN INVITED TO AN 80'S PARTY...


On Saturday we celebrated my best friend's birthday. The theme was 80's and it took me about half a second to decide that James and I would be dressing as punks for the occasion. I know my hair is pretty tame for a punk - I had actually teased the absolute life out of it but it just wouldn't hold. Moral of the story: always work with unwashed hair if you want a style to stay put. I'm kicking myself because, in the rush to get ready, I completely forgot the tube of purple hair gel I had bought for myself. James' green hair more than makes up for it though, don't you think? He's going to hate the fact I'm posting these images but he'll be on a plane for the next few hours so...

Friday, June 6, 2014

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS


This happy, smiling, oblivious girl was me mid last year. We had just gotten on the train that would take us from LA to San Francisco. I know James doesn't look excited but he was, he just doesn't know what to do in photos. Shortly after this picture was taken, I started the book I had packed for the trip: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The photo below is me a few hours later, after turning the last page.


I look like I have seasonal allergies with my blotchy skin, pink eyes and nose, don't I? Well, I suppose I was suffering a sort of allergic reaction that day: TFIOS caused me to sob with such a force, and produce tears of so unprecedented a volume, that my face became the reactive mess you see above. I'm not ashamed to say that a piece of Young Adult fiction caused me to fall apart. I'm also not ashamed to say that I bought tickets and attended the film version yesterday, the day it was released. I can totally wear the fact that we were the oldest people in the cinema except for some parents who were chaperoning their teenage daughter and her friends to the screening. And that I bawled just as much as I did the day I read the book, along with every other person in the cinema. Until then, I had never experienced being in a cinema and hearing almost every member of the audience sob and sniffle. Have you?

If you haven't read the book, don't feel like you must: the film is a fantastic adaptation. And you probably don't need to fall apart emotionally twice, like I did.
Let me know what you thought of TFIOS - have you read it? Seen the film? Both?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A DAY AT THE FARM

A few hours from Sydney on New South Wales' mid-north coast is a place called Gloucester. James' mum grew up here, on her parents dairy farm with her two sisters. Though James' grandparents have now passed on, the property remains with the family, a cherished reminder of their parents and their past.

Ever since we met, James has wanted to take me up to Gloucester. For three years now, we've been saying we'll drive up there and, of course, never have. When the whole family was reunited at a recent wedding, it was decided we'd all get together once again up at the farm. And so it happened that last weekend, when James' late grandfather would have turned 94,  I finally got to see the stunning place that James had been telling me about all these years.

If you look closely in the picture below, you'll see the farmhouse down at the base of the mountains. It must have been an amazing place to grow up and I can understand why it is still so meaningful to the family today. James' mum told me there was never any time for rest on the family farm. Back breaking work day in, day out. I wonder what would happen if you plucked a bunch of kids from suburbia and put them on a farm for a week. Would they sink or swim? Relish the change or complain? Have they done a reality show about that yet?


For a good few years, the farm was in a state of neglect. James' mum had warned us in the past when we were saying we were thinking of going, that it wasn't the same as it used to be. Recently, though, one of James' cousins, her husband and their two kids moved in and restored it to its former glory. The only difference is, it isn't being used as a dairy farm at the moment. As far as I know, dairy farmers have had a tough run since industry deregulation back in 2000.


There was about 27 of us (including about 6 kids) at the farm that day. James and his cousins shared many fond memories of times spent at the farm and, at one point that afternoon, most of the family went down to the river where the kids used to play. I don't know why I am using the past tense, since some of them got stuck in skipping stones and dipping their toes that day. Apparently there used to be watermelon (!!!) growing along the riverbed. I don't think I've ever considered where watermelon actually grew but fortuitously in a creek wouldn't have been a guess of mine. 


Turns out watermelon isn't the only thing this farm yields. I am guessing this is what truly organic pumpkin looks like?


Before we left the farm that day, we headed for the hills at the back of the property. I took this last picture from up there, using my iPhone. Isn't it heavenly? 


Hopefully it won't be too long before the next family catch up - there's something incredibly special about being able to hang onto, or at least go back to a place that holds many of your memories and stories. For some people, the place they grew up has been bulldozed and built over or at least changed so much they barely recognise it. I wonder what that must be like to experience?

FRONT ROOM = COMPLETE!

Since we moved in this time last year, our front room acted as a storage space for all of our junk. A shame, really, because we knew it had the potential to be a really special living area. Finally we are enjoying it more than we imagined we would - it's now the room I spend most of my time in.


Sofa: Domayne
Chairs: Max Sparrow
Coffee Table: Orson & Blake
Photograph: Hugh Stewart