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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fabulous


Its Sunday night and im feeling like something to cheer me up, so what better than something frothy and fabulous with the costume budget larger than the income of a small principality. Grab your feather boa, and sprinkle a bit of glitter about...









Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flesh and Blood

Flesh And Blood Flesh And Blood by Michael Cunningham


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the third Michael Cunningham I've read, Starting with the beautifully poetic 'The Hours'. This one, dragged just a tiny bit, I was ready to move onto something else. None the less, its full of uniquely Cunningham style depth, emotion and life observations as seen through the various points of view of different members and generations of an American family. I love how with Cunningham you know its always going to be a bit left of centre, he shows how what starts as your peachy clean 2.4 kids, white picket fence American dream family inst necessarily going to turn out just quite the way those parents had imagined it. I love how he takes inside the different characters and the way they think and see life seems unique to them, from children to grandparents. I have Specimen Days still on the shelf to read.

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India

I've been playing with Flickr today, Heres a slideshow from shots of India i've uploaded there, all from quite a few years ago. Ive taken two trips there, once to the North, Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra, and another to the South, Kerela, Cochin, Mysore and Madurai. India is a fascinating destination, it can be overwhelming at times, totally worth it though. Its the sort of place you just want to lose yourself in, a real feast for the senses - the smells, the colours, the heat, the noise, the people, the religion and spirituality, the palaces, forts and history. Its also the sort of place you feel you could go back to again and again and there would always be something to see.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kyoto, Japan. May '10


kyoto 082
Originally uploaded by jfitzsimmonds
Travel Philosophy number 3 : Just Do It. You wont remember the cost or travel times, you will remember the experience.

I had access to a very budget flight from Sydney to Kyoto via Cairns on the outbound and Gold Coast on the return and jumped at the chance of taking a long weekend there, despite 15hr journeys in each direction and having to factor in the hotel etc etc. Too good an opportunity to pass up.





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As it happens, and in fact I still have only revealed this to a select few out of embarrassment at my own stupidity, I completely missed my out bound 6.00 Am flight on the Friday morning. For a whole day no one on earth really new where I was, as I lay in bed feeling like an idiot and trying to decide whether A. I went back to work 3 days later pretending I'd been to Japan,. B. Just came clean about it - after all I had been working to 10pm the night before, finished packing at 2.00 am and my taxi pick up was for 4 Am - it was understandable!. or C. just bought a brand new one way ticket over there, damn the expense and have just 2 nights away instead of the allready crazy 3.

So after some deliberation I went for C - Im not even going to go there with what that cost me, of course if I hadnt done it I still would have been wasting money as id allready paid for non-refundable tickets.

Anyway...moral of the story was. As soon as I walked outside my Kyoto hotel the next morning with that buzz of discovering something new and feeling like my life was enriched because of it, the money and drama was forgotten.

Yes I only had 2 nights away and a 30 hour journey, but i zipped around with a Kyoto travel pass, visited Zen Temples, Rock Gardenes, mingled with Stunningly Kimonoed ladies having Sunday walks in the park, wandered through the floating world at night time having my own memoirs of a Geisha experience, cracked up at the uniquely Japanese Quirkiness of heated automaticaly opening toilet seats complete with choice of bum sprays and stunning assortments of vending machine consumables on every corner.

Kimono Vending 2
I was overwhelmed by bowing super polite service industry staff who left me walking out of shops with a huge grin every time. I even squeezed in a blissed out 'OMG' travel moment walking stocking footed past paper screened slide doors in a labyrinth of a temple as a room full of ladies kneeling in kimono finery attended a Sunday service, while others sat and contemplated timeless intricate and exquisitely planned gardens.

Would I do it all again - absolutely! It actually cracks me up now, to look at the map at the top of this blog and see just how far I went for a weekend!.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh Margaret youve done it again! . Well I mean you did it years ago but this is now the third Atwood Ive read and the third to score the feted 5 stars. The woman is quite simply a genius, smart clever and touching writing. She makes us completely believe in her dystopic USA of rigid gender roles and a police state - and how easily it could happen. I will say I was glad it was a short one but I can completely see how this is seen as a masterwork from the Author. I will know happily read anything by Atwood regardless of genre.

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Ubud, Bali April 10.


Travel Philosophies Number one: Me-Time is the Right Time

Have you ever noticed those absulute blissed out 'moments' where youre suddenly overwhelmed by where you are and what your doing, usually happen when your on your own? Think about it.. even if your travelling with someone, its often when you step away and have a quiet moment to your self that things sink in.

So..this April this was brought home again to me, when i took the time to have a compeltely self-indulgent me-time holiday alone treating myself to the most amazing private pool villa up in the hills surrounding Ubud, the cultural captial of Bali. I cant even begin to describe how wonderful it was to be so selfish that even having a travel partner posing questions such as 'what shall we do for dinner' 'where shall we go tomorrow' was banned. Pretty anti-social of me you could say, but it was really what I needed. I answered to absolutely no one, got up when i felt like it, ate where and when I chose, read, snoozed, soaked up the atmoshpere, skinny-dipped chilled and spoilt myself absolutley rotten. You just have to do it sometime - for YOU, dont worry about being bored or what people will think or 'what if' anything, take time out for yourself sometime.. the 5 star villa may have helped but was not essential!

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Im having a bit of a warm glow now, thinking back to wandering around that place giggling stupidly to myself like a crazy person at the shere indulgence of it all.







These were the mossy steps up to my Villa. If your tempted to go, I'ts the Pita Maha, Ubud. If slightly too much of a splurge, they also own the Tjampuhan Resort and Spa closer into town. If you're headed to Bali try to take a few days at least away from the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak scene to feel the Balinese spirit in Ubud.

Travel Philosophy Number 2 : Indulge your senses, Dont Worry about the season - Tropical Rainstorms make you feel alive and in touch with nature!



Monday, June 14, 2010

Defining Moments in Music - Part 3 'The Nineties'

The Nineties marked sowing a lot of wild seeds, falling in and out of love a few times, having my heart broken, having some VERY big nights out, traveling on a few round the world trips, and eventually dipping a toe in the waters of Sydney life with a year long working holiday.

I was often to be found of an early nineties weekend, quite happily dancing on my own to this one at Heaven nightclub near Embankment tube station. The start of a few nights of adventure.



This takes me straight to sharing Hagen Dasz in bed in Brighton where I was escaping to for the weekend for a short period of time.



My First big solo Round the World trip, had me capitolising on my 21 year old twinkiness and British accent in the USA, where i realised all i had to do was say 'excuse me am i going uptown or downtown' or 'please may I have a coca-cola' and the world was my oyster (note - same trick does'nt work 15-20years on!). This song reminds me of a trip through the redwoods staying in motels and the first time I had ever experienced being able to listen to a CD in a car. In fact id probably only bought my first CD as opposed to vinyl in the couple of years prior to that.



Speaking of the first CDs i owned - this would have been one of them, I still love this song, this is smooch music central.



Then Another Pivotal relationship and regular nights out at Ciao Baby in Brixton, sometimes followed by Trade in the east end. Often getting home at midday the next day. How did we have the energy? No comment but lets just say we had ALOT of fun and Tuesdays were not pleasant. These take me straight back there.. good times (grins insanely at the memories). Although one could feel a little bit inadequate mixing with those beautiful shiny people all the time (even if one of them was your partner!).





This was speeding home through early morning rainy streets in the BMW afterwards



All good things come to an end though.. this one marks the devastating end of that relationship, still going out, but single again and totaly blown apart by it. Wallowing in self pity with stuff like this on the car stereo - driving through tears. Ah well, What doesnt kill us makes us stronger ..or at least assists in building up a few layers of baggage that take some years getting rid of in the aftermath!



Those pivotal moments can send us in a new direction though - without that blow, I would never have set off for Australia, initially on a working holiday.

This track totally defines, working in a cafe on Taylor Square around Mardi Gras time, with the beautiful people dancing behind the bar while serving cappucinos. Have you ever had that feeling, the huge adrenalin rush of being in a vibrant new city where its all happening? This was it. If you ever have one - cherish it, it doesnt happen often and it doesnt last long - the reality of daily life soon sets in. Enjoy those bliss junkie moments when you can! They may not have had a club or music scene to match London but what those Aussies didnt know about putting on a huge Mother of a dance party wasnt worth knowing. Still probably isnt although as time goes by its often said they are not they way they used to be. Maybe thats just us oldies being bitter about handing the party baton to a new crowd. In my case that baton got passed on quite some time ago!.



Then a new relationship, someone still close to me, actually as they all are (Im weird like that) - and a dance party in matching sailor outfits. The Aussie Dance party matching dress up couple, it has to be done at least once!



We ended up going back to UK together for most of the rest of that decade eventualy splitting up but paving the way for me to move out to Sydney as a resident and eventually citizen on a De Facto status. Hey it doesnt ask you anywhere in any of those quesitons if you sleep together! I always felt I answered those questions in completete honesty when they talked about providing each other emotional and financial support blah blah.

Is anyone bored of reading someone elses life story yet? oh well.. suck it up and work out your own defining tunes - im enjoying this!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Defining Moments in Music - Part 2 'What I was listening to in the late 80's'

Ok, that first music post was fun. Im notoriously sentimental and nostalgic when it comes to cherished moments from the past, what ever may have happened since - you cant take those moments away, they are what defines us. And most of those moments are defined by music. So I think that period 1986 to 1989, the University years in good old Pompey, UK deserves a re-visit. A journey of discovery with a soul-mate who was instrumental in catalysing my transformation from schoolboy geek to fledgling adult with life experiences. You know who you are and I'm forever grateful.

Most of this music was not current to the time, it was a period of discovering artists and devouring their back catalogues, sadly a couple of these dont seem to have a decent you tube vid but you can sit back and listen while you browse posts.

Who remembers their first real kiss with someone they cared about?, shared a chemistry and electricity with, transport yourself back for a moment, mine was to this. I was so happy. I'd been building up to it for a while.



Uni was also marked by periods of introspection and questions of where i fit in, Joni Mitchell has stayed with me ever since, I never travel anywhere without access to some of her music. She a genius of the highest order, her lyrics are profound and really speak to me. This song conjures up images of sitting in my red mini parked at night on he seafront, rainy night, windscreen wipers going. Alone, feeling gloomy but probably enjoying the drama. Theres no video, close your eyes and dive into the mood if you have the time.



Lets just say this one defined a moment of a narcotic nature and leave it there...



We took several trips to the Glastonbury festival in Somerset of a summertime, back when it was more hippy than rock. Camping in muddy fields and loving it. Proably a highlight was seeing the cure and them playing 'A forest' Those guitar rifts. I actually had a minor Robert Smith look in those days. Grandad shirt and tousled up hair with hairspray blow dried into it.



Lets face it who didnt have a Bob Marley period at Uni, its sort of traditional Is'nt it?. This was my favourite, I just love the I-Trees at 2.37. This also takes me back to late night visits to a totally non-student, and there for rebel feeling Reggae club located somewhere in the bowels of a multi-storey car park in the rough part of Portsmouth. I don't think ive listened to Bob Marley at all since the 80's. It was definately something for then and there.



Ok, lets not pretend I was too cool for school the whole time in those days. Sad but true - I used to go nuts dacning my little booty of at student discos to this one, 'Fith Avenue' on the seafront somewhere i seem to remember was the club. And the dance floor and outfits on it were probably not too dissimilar to the one in this video towards the end. Perhaps even the dance moves!.



Finaly back in the vein of female, deep and introspective singer-songwriters another artist that defined that period for me. Joan Armatrading. Again the music wasnt current but the backcatalogue was certainly rifled through around that time and struck a chord,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stand Back Buenos Aires...

And if ever i go to far...its because of the things you are..beautiful town..

So my main international tickets were issued today. All signed off and not required back at work until Jan 2011. Im bound for Buenos Aires on 28 July and Can't wait. Definately a Bucket list destination for me, the plan is to hang out for a week, get an apartment and exprerience it at leisure. Wander round, soak it up


Just a little touch of.. just.a.little touch of, just a little touch of star quality..

Mama Mia that Tango is Hot! - hit me up with some hispanic passion!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mid Life Crisis - Defining Moments in Music Part 1 - 'School Days'

This last week saw me turning an age I don't care to put down in Black and White at the present time but, if i tell you that this was the first record I walked into a shop and bought with my own money it should give you a fairly good indication! Ah..happy days, a few years later i was screaming at my Mum until she took me to one of their concerts. Yes thats right folks, I saw them live - so uncool then but something a kin to having seen the Beatles now!



I had a giant sized Poster of these guys on my bedroom wall..Oh yes I was all class..



This Marked my moving from Primary to Secondary (High) School, my big brother probably had pin-ups of Debbie Harry. Most boys did.



Somewhere in those confusing days of teenage adolescence and anxt,
this one came along. Im not entirlely sure I'd figured out what it was about and what it meant at the time to be honest. I certainly felt like I didnt fit in though. Boys schools are tough. I have very few fond school memories.



I think the group i was most likely to be told off for blasting out too loud in my bedroom in the first half of the Eighties was The Eurythmics. I still admire Annie Lennox.



Alison Moyet and Yazoo saw quite a bit of room-play too, another woman who's voice has stood the test of time and survived the 80's pop product to be taken seriously.



Oddly as far as 80's pop goes, I detested both Madonna and Kylie at that time - I thought they were both talentless trashbags, but they would both feature as the concert id most like to go to right now. Madonna for someone iconic Ive never seen who i started to have a respect and admiration for in the 90's, and Kylie because..well.. its just the campest most feathered and glittering good time of a night out your ever going to get these days - you know your going to have a good time! Fingers crossed for another tour soon.


This Chart-Topper marked my leaving school for Uni. Im seeing a theme here that would bury itself for a good four or five years more lol.
(Did i really do a degree in Biological Sciences?...it seems like another lifetime)


And this to graduate into the big wide world..Doesnt this take you to Summers in London? ..well i mean if you were in London and old enough to be listening to music I mean. Stuff like this makes me miss London.



Well.. I think you get the idea, its doesnt seem possible that I can now employ people im old enough to have parented. Now as much as this sounds like a woe is me wallow.. I have to confess to a certain sense of satisfaction in having made it this far, remembering life before blogs and face book, before internet and i-pods, mobile phones and CD's for that matter.

I remember travel in a time where you had no contact with people you knew for months on end until you went into a randomly pre-arranged post office somewhere and asked hopefully if there were any letters. If you were lucky you came out with a bundle and devoured them excitedly in a cafe. You really did feel a million miles from everything and everyone you knew, which often was a very exciting experience.

So now we are at the other extreme of everyone in the world being connected, of no-where being so remote that you cant find away of checking an email or receiving a text. We really are a global community. A buzz word sparked off in London could be doing the rounds in Sydney by the next day. Many of us have 'online' friends living in other countries who we have never met yet who we have shared things with that we may not have revealed to the people we sit next to at work every day in real life.

So now after having reached the great Aussie milestone of 10years working for the same employer and 3months paid long service leave, Im about to embark on some travel, exploration and contemplation - and this time i shall be taking my newly purchased cuter than cute itty bitty notebook computer. I'll be looking out for that domain of the internet generation - the Wi-fi space, be it in a cafe or hotel. In other years I would always keep a journal of my thoughts and ponderings, I'm getting a huge buzz out of the prospect of updating and sharing these with you as I go by means of this blog.

So this old poop, currently has approximately six weeks left of this year that he is required to be present at work...and just quietly is begining to get just a little bit excited.

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