Jun 23, 2015

The Renovation

We bought our circa 1905 Renovator's Delight in 2003, and quickly found the renovating part...the delight was a little slower to appear. Bit by bit, as time and finances allowed, we've done the old girl up... Kitchen, bathroom, every bedroom, living room, gardens front and back, new front fence, added a carport and pergola, built on a new family room, re roofed the whole house, and painted everything....some things twice already.

The one area still lacking was our laundry and back porch. We knew what we wanted to do out here right from the start...including adding a second bathroom... but knew it would be a big job requiring big dollars. Finally, almost twelve years after my brain started whirling with ideas, it is happening.

The laundry and porch were basically a tin shed attached to the back of the house... corrugated iron walls, concrete floor, all wiring and plumbing exposed. It was as hot as hell's dance floor in summer, and as cold as a witch's tit in winter. Doing laundry for the last twelve years has not been much fun. And let's face it, doing laundry is bad enough, if the environment is challenging too....then it can be as soul destroying as binge-watching Toddlers & Tiaras.

When we moved in, this area didn't even have proper windows. The laundry, on the left, had louvres, and the porch just had fly screens. And because these face west...the direction most of our weather comes from.... the rain used to pelt in, along with cold winds in winter, and dirt and hot winds in summer. Awesome. Needless to say, we had these green aluminium windows whacked in reasonably quickly and they served us for 11 years. Frustratingly, the rain still got in occasionally....... we have surmised the original builder of this laundry/shed knew nothing about roof flashing or guttering. Or building.

Anyway, down came this iron contraption..... WOOHOO! ....revealing the ugly back wall of our house, which was a little worse for wear. 

I remember this stage being quite exciting because I had wanted that corrugated monstrosity gone for so long, but also a little sad at the thought that the original owners' simple, early 20th century construction efforts were disappearing.
No, I'm lying. I was ecstatic.

And then....madness. Machinery and men, digging trenches and laying the foundations of a new, much bigger area to house a new bathroom, laundry and study nook. It all went at such a cracking pace, we could only stand back and watch in awe as within a week we had this wet slab in place of a wet shed.

From there, it has continued along like greased lightning. (What even is greased lightning? Never mind...). I swear, we had the BEST team of carpenters ever. They were hard working, efficient, smart, full of ideas, productive, helpful, hilarious, great company, and had 80s music blasting all day. What's not to love? They did all the framework, roofing, windows, and boarded the bathroom and laundry, and will be coming back to do all the finishing touches, like doors, skirting boards and architraves. 

We are about five weeks into the renovations and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. 
Of course, the light is from a portable fluoro because there is no power in the extension yet, but that's ok. Plastering jobs are about three quarters done (would be finished if it wasn't for the first plasterer, who may or may not have been stoned while working...he got the boot, set us back several days), tiling is half done, outer brickwork is half done, I have all my fixtures and fittings ready to go in, and things are coming together rather well.

I've even had an ironing station installed in the wall.
For The Husband, of course.

We've only had one slight mistake occur so far, which we realised this weekend, but luckily it's not too late to remedy it. We would have had a lovely new clothes dryer mounted on the wall, but no power supply to plug it in to....oops. Not one of the three power points in the laundry would've been in reach. Details, details. 

The only slight downside of this renovation has been our bathroom situation. As we are adding a new one, we have modified our existing bathroom into an ensuite to our main bedroom. And as that part of the work has almost been completed, it means everybody has to trek through our bedroom to use the bathroom. 
Like, The Son. When he comes home at 1am. And we're asleep. And suddenly I wake to this large figure looming over me as he tries to tiptoe past me. Slightly disconcerting.

All in all, it has been a reasonable experience so far, and all the early starts on these cold, wintry mornings, all the noise from power tools, all the cleaning of layer upon layer of red brick dust and grey plaster dust which travelled through the house, all the inconvenience of doing my washing out in the garden.... it will all be worth it in the end. 


Fingers crossed.

stay tuned

Jun 18, 2015

Minions: The one where I was surrounded by kids but still had a good time

So, when this invite landed in my inbox, I thought....a kids' movie? In 3D? Do I really want to go? There might be...y'know....actual KIDS there.

Let me point out why I hesitated...

1. While I do go to the movies regularly, it has been a long time since I went to a kids' movie. My offspring are now 22 and 20, and whilst they sometimes act 12, mess up their rooms, do dumb stuff, and still go to see silly movies, they can now indulge on their own. Though I'm pretty sure I'm still funding it.

2. I have not been to a 3D movie for more than 30 years. Remember Jaws 3D in 1983? It was shit. And as someone who wears glasses all the time, because I like to be able to see, I have avoided all 3D movies ever since and been perfectly happy in my limited dimensions.

3. It's winter, cold outside, and I have a comfy sofa and warm fire at home.

But then I watched the trailer.
I laughed out loud three times and came away with a smile.
So I guessed that this was going to be like many other movies I've enjoyed (like Shrek, Monsters Inc, etc) which might be predominantly aimed at kids, but has plenty there to keep the adults entertained too.

And I was right. It was SUCH GREAT FUN! I loved the minions, there are some excellent characters throughout, the storyline was fab, the 3D effects were AMAZING (the glasses have come a long way in 30 years), and I laughed a lot. And not just at childish jokes! There were some funny references that only adults will understand, unless you've managed to educate your kids on the 1960s era (oh, how I LOVED the music).

So take your kids....borrow a friend's children if you have to.... and go see Stuart, Bob and Kevin (Pierre Coffin) take on the world's greatest supervillain, Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). 

Or be brave and just take your adult self. I was surrounded by youngsters and had a good time.
Good preparation for when I have grandkids....

Thanks to Universal Pictures for the invite, it's always good to have a midweek laugh.

Jun 9, 2015

My Paris Dream

I have an as yet unfulfilled Paris dream. It involves a Spring weekend, a cafe and a baguette. Maybe a Frenchman. Or the Husband will do. Fairly simple.

But Kate Betts, whose work resume would come to include editor-in-chief at Harpers Bazaar and #2 editor under Anna Wintour at Vogue, had dreams which were much bigger than my musings of a possible four day stay at some point during my life. 
When she finished college, Kate took the plunge and moved to Paris to immerse herself in the culture, learn the language, and hopefully land a job that would keep her there long enough to fulfil her dream. 

In Kate's memoir, My Paris Dream, she brings to life her early days in the French capital; from the job searches, the language difficulties, the loneliness and feelings of being an outsider, to her initiation into the high fashion world during a time of change, which saw the likes of Helmut Lang and John Galliano rewriting the rules.

Kate delights with anecdotes ranging from the everyday life of the family she first boarded with who gave her a crash course in French slang, her story assignments, hectic fashion shows, and falling in love, to receiving huge baskets of roses from Karl Lagerfeld, and how she feels whenever she returns to the country she once called home. "I revisited the same spots, like a record needle in a groove."

My Paris Dream ultimately brings to life the romantic fascination many of us have for France. Nightclubs, restaurants and food, shopping, fashion, travel and lavender fields; there is a little of something for everyone. 

Kate Betts found her dream, found her voice, found herself, and as she says, "I found my tribe."

If you have ever lived in France, or visited, or even just dreamed of it, like myself, you may find this memoir truly enchanting. And have you craving a baguette.

Jun 1, 2015

I'm Gonna Tell You Something...

I think we all have one, or at least know of one.
That friend, relative or acquaintance who is always "gonna". 
Gonna do this, gonna do that.
Gonna send you a message.
Gonna reply later on.
Gonna send you that information. 
Gonna show you that thing you wanted to see. (Not a euphemism, keep it clean folks)
Gonna give you those details of that thing.
Gonna look up that book title and tell you. 
Gonna organise that thing.
Gonna explain that thing.
Gonna answer that question you raised.
Gonna get back to you tomorrow, because busy today.
Gonna let you know how it goes.
Gonna tell you about it next time.
Gonna keep you updated.
Gonna do that thing for you.
Gonna get it to you soon.
Gonna call.
Gonna text.
Gonna email.
Gonna stay in touch.
Gonna try harder.
Gonna make an effort.

Yeah. And mostly they are just gonna let you down.

I think there are a few different ways to deal with the varying types of Gonna.

1. Accept that this is totally who they are. Believe that they are a Born Gonna, and are like this with everybody - closest friends and immediate family included - and don't take it personally. Take every "gonna" with a pinch of salt, and forget it as soon as you hear it. Do not dwell on it, or your head will explode and every "gonna" they ever said to you will cause the brain condition called Irreversible Expectation Damage. Shut up, it's a thing. You know, deep down, that you should have no expectations of this Born Gonna. And yet they creep in, undermining your intelligence, because you are only human and hope that maybe this time will be different. And it isn't. And your brain starts eating itself. Or something. So stop that shit. The Born Gonna will not change for you, no matter how much Damage you sustain yourself....or threaten to inflict on them.

2. Accept that this is just a part of who they are. They are a Recovering Gonna. Perhaps with their immediate family and besties, who are in their face daily, reminding them of their promises, they are more reliable. Maybe only their outer circle of contacts get the more disappointing Gonna persona. Again, don't take it too personally - unless you didn't realise you were in the outer circle until now. This is particularly embarrassing if the Gonna is your partner. I'm terribly sorry, but I guess they're just not that into you. It is perfectly understandable if you let yourself have some hope when dealing with a Recovering Gonna, as they do sometimes come through for you. But keep your expectations low, so you can be pleasantly surprised when they actually get back to you the next day. This may help to counter future Expectation Damage to your brain. Like building up your immune system.

3. Accept that this is who they are when they are dealing with you, and possibly just you. They are a Selective Gonna, and you may well be the selected one. To everyone else, they say what they mean and mean what they say, but you are fobbed off with a stream of dismissive "gonnas". Take it personally. They just don't want to deal with you. It's not necessarily your fault, or theirs, but there just isn't a strong enough friendship/chemistry/incentive for them to commit to anything for you, no matter how simple, and they are too weak to just say no or terminate contact altogether. You will probably have to be the one to end your relationship with this Gonna, but honestly, are you gonna miss their "gonnas"? Again, if it's your partner, start googling lawyers.

4. Accept NOTHING.  All Gonnas are arseholes. Seriously Gonnas, just do it or shut the fuck up.
I mean, even Rick Astley was a NEVER Gonna.

*Allowances should probably be made in most cases for someone who could quite feasibly qualify as a Potential Forgetful Gonna. This includes the elderly, sleep-deprived-gin-drinking parents, women of a certain age approaching menopause, and Ten Second Tom.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna.... do that thing I said I'd do.... .

May 27, 2015

West of Sunset

When I think of F Scott Fitzgerald, I think of Gatsby.
How could I not? It is one of my all time favourite books, and possibly the only one I have read multiple times. 
But beyond that....well, I knew he and his wife Zelda were the darlings of the Jazz Age, and that he died far too young, probably due to his life of excess and alcoholism. And that's about it, I'm ashamed to say. 

So when Allen & Unwin sent me a copy of West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan, a fictionalised biographical novel covering the final three years of F Scott Fitgerald's life, I was instantly excited to learn more.

While, of course, not every intimate detail of his final years can be verified (hence, the 'fictionalised novel' part), Stewart O'Nan has painted a vivid picture of Scott's time in Hollywood in the years leading up to his death; the major movie studios, the stars, the writers, the affairs and the politics. 

This engrossing, sometimes heartbreaking story follows the troubled and broke Scott as he tries to scrape together enough money to pay for Zelda's treatment in a mental asylum, and their daughter Scottie's education. His health is declining, his literary success is mostly forgotten, and his only option is to call on some old friends to give him a shot as a screenwriter. After moving to Hollywood, Scott falls in love with English gossip columnist Sheilah Graham and embarks on a passionate affair, while guiltily trying to maintain some sense of loyalty to the unstable Zelda.

The Golden Age of Hollywood is brought to life with fascinating depictions of stars including Joan Crawford and Humphrey Bogart, studio bosses, various directors and the other screenwriters holed up in the "Iron Lung", where movie scripts were churned out constantly, written and rewritten on a director's or producer's whim, until they were sometimes unrecognisable from the original drafts. I found this creative process both intriguing and depressing, and can imagine how stifling and frustrating it must have been for someone with Scott's talent. No wonder he drank.

Stewart O'Nan, on the other hand, was free to write this novel as he saw fit, and he did so beautifully. This bittersweet portrayal of Scott's struggle to keep his life together, and regular failure to do so, was written with sensitivity, grace and wit. O'Nan is no slouch himself; he has written many fiction and nonfiction books, including a collaboration with Stephen King.

With West of Sunset, we have, as author George Saunders says, "One brilliant American writer meditating on another - what's not to love?"

I certainly loved it, and I feel like I now know a little bit more about the man behind Gatsby.

May 5, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2 is ACA-AWESOME


And they have not lost their touch. Three years have passed since the Barden Bellas had us tapping our feet, laughing loudly, and discovering A Cappella competitions are "actually a thing". Now they're back, as three time defending champions, and ready to take on the rest of the world.

Beca, Chloe, Fat Amy and the girls are as tight as ever, until a hilarious mishap involving a "birthday gift from down under" in front of a very important audience humiliates them and has them banned from competing.

As the Bellas try to regain both their dignity and their place in the collegiate competition, their attempts result in disaster and disharmony. The only way to be reinstated is to win the World Championships. The girls have to break everything down to build it back up and find their sound again.

I was invited to the Adelaide premiere of Pitch Perfect 2, and I was aca-excited, I can tell you. I loved the first movie, and often get nervous about sequels not living up to the original, but I had seen a couple of trailers which had me feeling optimistic. And I wasn't disappointed. 

It was a rollicking rollercoaster of fun, hilarity and aca-awesome music from beginning to end. I loved it all; the familiar faces, the new faces, and the introduction of a new rival team to take on the Bellas. I laughed so much, my face ached, and as soon as it finished, I said I desperately wanted to see it again straight away.

Fat Amy (the incomparable, side-splittingly funny Rebel Wilson) once again stole the most hilarious and slapstick scenes, and Lily's (Hana Mae Lee) few whispering lines had us in stitches. Newcomer Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), a Legacy inductee as her mother was once a well known Bella, is a delightful addition to the lineup, with a lovely voice and sweet, slightly dorky character. Beca (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (Brittany Snow) make a great team as leaders of a group which is on the brink of splintering as graduation approaches, and find they need to be reminded of their strengths - as Fat Amy says, "You're Beca and Chloe, together you're Bloey".

Anna Kendrick excels in her role, although I think she does every time I see her on screen. Her performances appear effortless, as though she isn't "acting", but really is whoever she is supposed to be. She is one talented chick. Act, sing, dance. The whole package. 

The introduction of Das Sound Machine from Germany as rivals to the Bellas for the world title brought a new enemy into the game to replace the Treblemakers (who do make a fabulous early appearance), and I thought that was a really good, fresh touch. Their musical performances were sharp, dynamic, and absolutely stunning. DSM's statuesque leader, played by Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (you may know her as Katrine if you've ever watched the Danish tv series, Borgen), is a tad nasty in a beautifully confident and sexy way, and throws the Bellas, particularly Beca, for a bit of a spin; when Beca searches for an insulting jibe, all she can come up with is, "Your sweat smells like cinnamon!"

And of course, everyone's favourite A Cappella directors and commentators, John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks), are back again with (her) unveiled sarcasm, (his) blatant misogyny, and resultant downright hilarity. This time, Banks not only acted and produced, but also directed the movie, and I thought she pulled it all together brilliantly. I have great admiration for everything Banks does, and this movie is no exception. 

Thanks to Universal Pictures and Event Cinemas, it was a wonderful premiere. We were aca-flashmobbed by the Festival Statesmen group, had a glass of wine, and we even got our own Pitch Perfect cupcakes....which Rebel Wilson herself thought was cute!

So, go see it, Pitches! If you enjoyed the first instalment, you won't be let down by Pitch Perfect 2.


Oh, and don't leave the cinema when the credits start to roll.....just aca-saying.....

Apr 27, 2015

Mother's Day ideas. A few serious. Most totally not.

As April draws to a close, the first thought in major Australian retailers' minds is "flood the market with what every Mum had no idea they needed until now!" It probably starts as soon as Easter is done and dusted, but I tend to tune out. Because I have chocolate.

However if, like I may have done in the past (once or four times), you find yourself buying your own gift, handing it to the partner, who hands it to the kids to wrap, and then you try to act surprised on the big day...sigh, we all deserve Oscars for Best Performance by a Parent in a Childhood Ruse....you may need some fresh ideas.

If you are into books, of course there's Emerald Springs by Fleur McDonald, which I have reviewed here. It Started With A Kiss by Lisa Heidke, Mothers and Daughters by Kylie Ladd, At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen and The Chocolate Promise by Josephine Moon may be your thing, or even The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox.
 And if you're a bit crafty, there's always these...

Good old Eleanor. When you've got it, flaunt it, hey.

For the budget conscious player, where you can learn to crochet your own gimp mask....

Not very handy? Crafts not for you? Single? Finding yourself surrounded by cats?
You have your own action figure!

Comes with 6 cats...like you need more....
Maybe you're not a pink towelling robe type, but a fashionista? Even on a picnic, you like to look good whilst being comfortable.
The Picnic Pants are perfect for you!

You can move freely, sit cross-legged, AND EAT OFF YOUR LAP!

Thinking of treating yourself to cosmetic surgery? You don't need to!
The Ducklips Face Slimmer will do the job and save you thousands!

Work those muscles, ladies! 
Elongate your face, iron out those lines, and look slimmer!
To be honest, I suspect it's designed for something else, amiright?

Ahem, anyway....

Need new slippers?

Dick slippers! Who doesn't need those?

Or maybe you can't decide between new jeans or new shoes...

The mind boggles.
So, maybe this should be a guide to what NOT to get for Mother's Day.
With that in mind, I'll be showing my kids this....

Enjoy, mothers.

Apr 2, 2015

The Perils of Naked Dating

Our family had a bonding session last night. I always say the family that laughs together, stays together... because everyone else thinks they're crazy.... so we watched, and roared hysterically throughout the Dutch naked dating show, Adam and Eve.

We'd only heard of it for the first time the week before and stumbled across it last night when flicking channels. The host, Fully Clothed Nicolette, explains the premise and introduces the naked daters. 

Firstly, Naked Deveron, a barman, who is looking for love with a fun, attractive, curvaceous girl with nice boobs and a nice arse. He laments that as a barman, he doesn't always meet girls in the right situation because they are mostly drunk. I suspect this has never bothered Naked Deveron before, but his desire to be on TV has changed his view, for now. Naked Deveron is, ummm, well, let's just say, it wasn't a cold day.

Then we meet Naked Eva, a marketing student, who is looking for deep conversations with an intelligent but manly guy. She seems quite pleasant, but very studious, and I am already suspecting the producers do not take their match-making seriously. Naked Eva has several piercings which glisten in the sunshine and are quite mesmerising.

The two naked hopefuls are dumped on an "uninhabited" island (camera crews don't count), with nothing but their winning smiles and some secret, personal items they chose to bring along in their "Love Bag". I thought we had already seen Naked Deveron's love bag, but apparently not. 

They walk towards each other for the first time, trying to avoid eye-to-genitals contact. It seems that despite agreeing to be completely naked, they don't want to come across as too pervy. After lots of stilted conversation, excruciating pauses, nervous laughs, and full body twirling (to get the perving over with), I am blown away by the fact that the Dutch word for awkward, is simply... awkward.

At this point, there has already been much laughter in our living room. For some reason, the Daughter finds the oft-used camera angle showing a side-on silhouetted schlong quite hysterical. The Son is trying to study the aforementioned piercings in between his loud expressions of great mirth and, unsurprisingly, it takes him til almost the end of the show to even notice the jewel in her navel. 

Anyway, the Nakeds discover a "hut" and bare essentials... a pineapple and some rice.... and I must praise Naked Deveron for being brave enough to pick up the machete and actually use it on the fruit within castrating distance of his good self. We were a little scared for him, I can tell you. The attempts to start a fire and cook the rice are clumsily slapstick, and Naked Eva tells us she is a little disappointed that Naked Deveron is a bit quiet, and doesn't seem as manly and capable as she hoped. In fact, they both talk to us and tell us what they're feeling and thinking far more than they seem to talk to each other. I am starting to feel sorry for them and their sunburned extremities. 

The chemistry between the Nakeds does not improve, and they spend an uncomfortable night lying next to each other on a mat on the floor of the hut. The upside of the lack of spark between them is that Naked Deveron can get up quickly and easily in the morning with no embarrassment, because "I didn't have a hard-on". Good to know, dude.

Just when you think this episode is about as exciting as watching our Prime Minister eat an onion, along comes a third wheel known as Naked April! She is a young, loud, voluptuous party chick who spends a great deal of time playing with her exceptionally long, curly hair...on her head. Naked April arrives on the island and marches straight past Naked Eva (who is showering under a tree, posing like a naked water nymph) without speaking to her, in search of her "Naked Adam".

When she cannot find any exposed penises in the vicinity (I assume Naked Deveron has been lured away to do an interview, in order to set up this first Two Naked Girls clash), Naked April turns back to Naked Eva to find out what the fuck is going on (or its Dutch equivalent). The realisation dawns on both of them that there is only one "Naked Adam" and they will be competing for him. I swear I can see Wolverine claws appearing on Naked April's knuckles.

Finally, Naked April finds Naked Deveron further along the beach, and ERMAHGERD...... THEY KNOW EACH OTHER! Turns out these two losers in love have been on another dating show together, where Fully Clothed Deveron REJECTED Fully Clothed April! But will this change when he sees she has areolas the size of dinner plates? And what does Naked April think of him, apart from "He's somewhere about average, although I haven't seen his erection yet"? By now, 'awkward' has become the most used word on the show. 

So the Two Naked Girls have a cooking contest, and the winner gets a private date with Naked Deveron. Yep, it's sexism time. They are handed some ingredients and given twenty minutes to produce something edible. Naked Eva makes a huge mistake by choosing chicken, as it doesn't cook in time, and I am impressed that Naked Deveron knows the word 'salmonella'. Naked April's beef stir fry wins, more by default than by success.

Naked April and Naked Deveron head off for their date to a separate campsite, where they are both almost overcome by the smoke from the fire, and had to move their cushions to another spot. This is probably the most interesting that happened. I thought cushions were a bit of a luxury, but I guess sitting on a log when naked would create a splinter issue that NO member of a film crew wants to take care of. 

At last, Naked Deveron gets to use the contents of his impressive Love Bag...he brought cocktails. He tries to impress with his shaking skills, but he ain't no Tom Cruise. The date seems like a bit of a drag, with Naked April trying to explain how she's a far more serious person than she appears to be on the surface, all while continually playing with her hair and trying to keep her massive breasts under control.

They return to the hut, where Naked Eva awaits with the news there is now one double mat and one single mat to sleep on. Who will sleep where? Naked Deveron announces he's on the double, and it doesn't matter who is next to him as "we won't be touching each other anyway". Looks like there'll be no morning wood for him yet again. Naked Eva takes the place next to him, while Naked April goes it alone. Something I suspect she's used to.

The next day, we discover the secret of Naked Eva's Love Bag....she brought boxing gloves! As you do. The initial excitement in our living room turns to disappointment when we realise it will not be a Two Naked Girls fight, but a 'date' of sorts with Naked Deveron. Naked Eva wants to know what sort of man he is, and claims she will after a bit of sparring. There is some light hearted banter, a few jabs, and a couple of decent punches....all by Naked Eva....while Naked April watches on jealously. "I would've joined in, but not in this heat, and I don't want to get a black eye". I'm genuinely confused when Naked Eva is disappointed that Naked Deveron didn't really hit her properly. "He ran away!" I'm pretty sure if he belted her, his career as a serial dating show contestant would be over. Smart move, dude.

We also discover the secret to Naked April's incredibly long hair that she can't stop touching.... when enormous clumps of it come out in her hands and she rinses them under the shower. Extensions! This now has me wondering if her areolas are real.

Naked April, playing with her hair

Talk turns to sex, I think (I'm not certain, I'm laughing so much at all of the things, especially how "oh my fucking God!" in Dutch is simply "oh my fucking God!"), and Naked April asks Naked Eva if she's read 50 Shades of Grey.

Naked Eva looks as haughty as one can when naked, and says, "I have it, but I won't read it."

Yes! I'm totally voting for Naked Eva. She's my pick. Until....

"I don't like reading. I only read business books to improve myself" she continues.

Oh dear, she's won me and lost me in one conversation. The Son still loves her and her piercings because he doesn't read either. Maybe he should go to the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, on a boat floating offshore, Fully Clothed Nicolette rings a bell three times to signify it's time for Naked Deveron to choose which Naked Eve will accompany him on a few days holiday at a nearby resort (I suspect it's just on the other side of the same island). After much fake procrastinating and genuine condescension, Naked Deveron unsurprisingly chooses Naked Eva. Poor Naked April takes her surplus hair and wanders off, trying to be cheerful about the fact she has been rejected by the same guy twice and she still hasn't seen his erection (she actually doesn't mention that, I'm just supposing).

Back at the resort, we watch Naked Deveron put some pants on and wait for his 'Eve'. I think he has flowers and champagne in his hands...I'm not sure, I'm too fascinated to see him in clothes to notice. As the now Fully Clothed Eva approaches in a skin tight red dress ("I used to worry if this dress was too tight, now I don't care, I've been naked!"), the Fully (but badly) Clothed Deveron tells us she looks hot and sexy.  As he had the integrity to not say these things out loud when she was naked, but waited til she was clothed, I'm finally starting to like him.

But wait.... Fully Clothed Nicolette suddenly appears and stops Sexy Eva to offer her a deal. 

Continue walking towards your holiday with Fully Clothed Deveron at the resort, or 250 Euros to walk away.

Sexy Eva knocks back the offer with red-lipped confidence, and I'm thinking maybe there was a spark between her Naked Self and Naked Deveron after all. A non-hard-on producing spark, but a spark nonetheless. 

Fully Clothed Nicolette ups the ante to 500 Euros (about 700 Aussie dollars) and Sexy Eva turns to briefly look Fully Clothed Deveron up and down.

"Ok, I'll take it."


Poor Fully Clothed Deveron is left to be politely let down by Fully Clothed Nicolette while Sexy Eva takes the money and runs off as fast as her second degree sunburn lets her.

And we still don't see his erection.

Awkward, in any language.

Mar 25, 2015

Emerald Springs

You may remember that almost exactly one year ago, I was in hospital recovering from surgery, with Fleur McDonald's new novel keeping me company when I couldn't go back to sleep after the 2am obs checks. Or 4am. Or 6am.

Fleur's latest novel, Emerald Springs, nearly became all night company again...not because I was in hospital, but because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! Yes, I was so engrossed in it that it barely left my hands unless it was absolutely necessary. In related news, I must apologise to my children and pets for refusing to feed, or even acknowledge them for about 24 hours, but, you know the rules...

Clearly, the kids' and pets' survival and wellbeing were not deemed 'absolutely necessary'.

With Emerald Springs, Fleur has produced yet another cracking novel with a strong female protagonist, a lot of action and mystery, and a strong focus on relationships, all with the backdrop she knows so well...beautiful rural Australia.


Amelia (Milly) Bennett finishes university with a degree in Commerce and returns to her family property to look after their finances, as well as those of several other farming families in the district. When she lands the job of treasurer of the local rodeo committee, her fierce desire to prove herself results in the most successful rodeo the town has ever seen. 

Amelia's triumph is short-lived when she becomes the victim of a terrifying crime, leaving her physically injured and emotionally wrecked. Her devastation intensifies when gossiping locals begin to doubt the innocence of Amelia and her always-broke boyfriend, Paul. Even the rural detective investigating the crime is unconvinced by her story, despite his connection with Amelia's family.

As Amelia struggles to remember exactly what happened, she too begins to suspect everybody around her, including those she loves, and realises she must investigate the events of that fateful night herself....despite the possible danger.


Once again, Fleur has drawn inspiration from her own experiences of rural life in South Australia and Western Australia (and those of her Dad, who really was a rodeo committee treasurer!), and woven a brilliant story that will keep you turning pages. Fleur has the ability to make me see what she is seeing when she writes...I can visualise her settings and characters perfectly. You don't need to be from the country areas Fleur describes to understand the surroundings and the people because she'll help you understand them with her words. (Although I do get excited whenever there are mentions of places I know and I can say "I've been there!" Yes, I know, I'm such a city slicker)

I had the opportunity to catch up with Fleur in Adelaide last night in the midst of her current book tour. She spoke about identities, in particular of women, and how we can often lose ours when we are "someone's wife" or "someone's mother", and how she likes her female characters to grow and strengthen as they discover their own identity. Just as Fleur herself, I believe, has grown and strengthened as an author.

Emerald Springs is Fleur McDonald's best work yet. 
And yes, I'll probably say that about the next book too. And the one after that. And the one after that.
Seriously, it's another winner from the Voice of the Outback.

The beautiful Fleur, me, and Fleur's lovely publicist, Amy

Check out all of Fleur's books and where you can see her in person during her book tour on her website. She is in South Australia for two more days, before moving on to the Eastern states. If you get a chance to meet her, tell her Cate sent you. But don't try to drink her wine.

PS. For some strange reason, a nine month old blog post was randomly emailed out last week, probably to all my subscribers. No idea why, I can only think that it was lonely and wanted attention.
This seemed to prompt a few people to unsubscribe for whatever reason. Just know I wasn't spamming you with old crap, there must have been a weird glitch in bloggerland. Or Cateland. Whatever. You have to laugh or you'll go nuts.


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