N ude Live at the Art Gallery of New South Wales is anything but ‘still life’.D ancers twist, entangle and plunge; in the nude; unselfconscious, trusting and brave, emulating the extraordinary art and sculptures in the exhibition of ‘Nude: art from the Tate Collection’.
The choreography for the hour-long ‘performance’ displays the creative talent of Sydney Dance Company’s Rafael Bonacela. The choice of music further deepens my involvement in the whole experience.
I was fortunate to be invited to the opening performance this evening – a wonderful collaboration between the Sydney Dance Company, the Art Gallery of NSW, and Sydney Festival.
The initial voyeurism (inevitable), and the novel of nudity very quickly gives way to an appreciation of the dance. The closeness and audience involvement with the dancers in the informality of a gallery setting completes a spectacular triumvirate of exhilarating connectedness.
I know those of my friends who’d wish I had more of the ‘inside’ shots to illustrate this event more in the flesh, but you have to be content. I can’t go around photographing a person’s bottom or ‘dangly bits’, even in this day and age.
This one minute video is but a teaser to the real ‘Nude Live’ experience.
T hree ‘drop-in’ events this on New Year’s Eve, all with marvellous views of Sydney’s now world-famous Fireworks extravaganza.
My first stop of the evening is just after nightfall. Thanks to Brad, I have an excellent vantage point. Australian Navy ships dock in Woolloomooloo Bay right below me and then there’s sweeping views over to the Sydney CBD, Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
With a glass of chilled white in my hand, I’m ready and waiting for the first NYE fireworks like all the other kiddies who’ll then go home to bed, sensibly.
F riends Joy and Wrix live only two doors down the street. This drop-in affords me the added opportunity to meet Joy’s brother Michael and children visiting from New Zealand.
Wine in hand, my eye goes straight to the gyoza in Joy’s beautiful spread. Michael’s been busy making Japanese gyoza, and after tasting my first, I was wishing that I was staying for the yet-to-be-served home-made Malaysian chicken curry.
T he final stop was at Pat and Vic’s (a friend of 52 years!) apartment in Ikon, also with commanding views for the midnight fireworks views of bridge and Opera House.
You might imagine how ‘twixt and between I was at times this evening. Between Joy and brother Michael’s Malaysian catering – and Dr Pat’s mother’s Vietnamese cooking, I was spoiled for choice.I could easily forego fireworks but . . . it might be something to do with distance away from the action, and my camera not being good enough to capture the ‘perfect’ shot. I blame the graininess on iPhone, but gee how I use the camera on that handy little device to capture ‘moments’ all the time.
B ill and Mindy hosted me to the delicious bacon and egg toasties at Pickled, but that doesn’t mean I got away scot-free. I think I ‘engaged’ the little boy not only by arranging for him to get a cold iced chocolate, but also promising to get him his first camera and show him how to use it. Silly uncle.
New Year’s Day Mass brings the chance to meet-up with Joy’s family from New Zealand again, and also with my nephew Bill and Mindy, and my soon to be seven grand nephew, Jude. See how they grow!
A busy month at home in Sydney entertaining and being entertained.
Click on the first photo and a Lightbox opens to a Slideshow and also allows you to use the arrows at the side to scroll through and to read the captions.
A ndrew knows how to throw a party and make good use of his garden. But how he manages to prepare the meal and seat all his guests has become something of a legend.
Threatening skies didn’t deter him from setting-up the lunch table in the garden, and those of us outside had sufficient pre-luncheon bubbles not to worry about the few sprinkles.
R ay and Robyn entertained on the back terrace overlooking the harbour with Robyn’s home-made hot savouries to accompany delicious chilled Mumm.
A couple of days before Christmas I had the chance to catch up with Hyunju and Dave, sitting at an outside table at Apollo.
P opolo in Rushcutter’s Bay is a traditional Italian Restaurant that’s going from strength to strength. My guests, Pam and Ken, Paul and Shenagh all agree.
A fter a lovely meal, we walked up the street to St Canice’s for an early Midnight Mass at 10pm. Gerhard had done an amazing job transforming the church into a Christmas wonderland. The major installation was an old lichen-encrusted crabapple from the Blue Mountains with candles hanging from its branches – surrounded by red poinsettia.
S horts and a cool shirt were the order of the day for very casual Christmas Day lunch at the home of Wei and Ron with traditional roast turkey and glazed ham. Home by 6.30pm. Asleep by 6.35pm! A good day.
R oast Pork was on the menu at my place on Boxing Day. I was standing for six hours straight preparing the vegetables and learning how to do the pork – thanks to Anne’s telephone instructions, it was excellent – flesh moist and crackling crisp!
M y nephew Bill and Mindy enjoyed a night out with me at Cho Cho San – the babysitter was at home looking after Jude.
T he Baptism of cousin Julie’s grand-daughter Olivia
I t’s good to catch-up with friends visiting from Brisbane, Jude and Sophie.
We drove up to Brisbane from the Gold Coast to the home of big brother,Tony and Ruth. Younger brother Mark and Jenny joined us in a very relaxed family pre-Christmas get-together. And so, the four Musgrave siblings were together. Jenny brought along my favourite curried egg sandwiches.
Another pre-Christmas lunch, this time at Nobby Beach to share a plate of prawns with my nephew Mark, Chrissy and the girls.
My visit also coincides with the 75th birthday of friend of 50 years, Alan, who came to dinner to share a few glasses of bubbly, and bowls of freshly-peeled prawns.
I’m not doing anything overtly festive this year but that doesn’t prevent me in the lead up to the ‘main event’ on Christmas Day from setting the scene to mark the festive season.
Gerhard was in yesterday with pots of poinsettia and herbs to give the balcony a touch of Christmas colour (and fresh basil for those summer tomatoes that I’m looking forward to).
Then over the bridge in an Uber to cousin Julie and Dennis’ to join friends for a pre-Christmas meal of Sydney rock oysters, and swordfish from the barbecue. Reminds me that I should go back to swordfish again and got search for my old mango and cucumber salsa recipe as the garnish.
A plaintive plea from 100-year-old Aunt Beth (via a one-finger, one-line email) telling of her craving for some easy to handle stone fruit had me busy pressing the new-season nectarines, plums and apricots at Harris Farm wondering which of the wide choice might be the sweeter, and ready-to-eat. My friend the Chookman, Ian, kindly walked around some little chicken sandwiches to compete the mini-Christmas lunch in Beth’s room.
The final Christmas touch for my apartment has always has been to retrieve the Lladro ‘Flight into Egypt’ porcelain from its box (that I’d bought years ago in New York with my late good friend, Joe Walsh), and set it up in pride of place, until Epiphany.
The seven years since we all were all together at a Susan and Bill’s previous home on Miami Beach seems more like seven days. Tonight we share a meal, much laughter (and minimal Hillary/Trump differences of opinion) in their new home in Miami Shores – with the four Westies members of the family – Cupcake, Winston, Annabel and Muffin.
B efore coming to North Carolina this weekend, the only thought I had was for a chance to perhaps see some late Fall foliage. I wasn’t disappointed.
The crisp, clean, green of this place is an environment that I embrace – very much like those cold, blue sky days up in Connecticut in the years that I was living here in the US. (And so unlike the piercing cold of air conditioning inside buildings in Miami where I have to carry a coat.) I had a chance to see many beautiful homes set in the woods and on the lake as we drove around visiting artists in the home studios on the annual ‘Open Studio Tour’.
The ‘southern drawl’ of so many you come across in the stores and restaurants gives North Carolina a special sense of place here within the US. I love it. At the same time, there’s many foreigners studying here or working in the faculties of the three main universities.
Welcome parties on ‘pre-election’ weekend could have been rather dangerous affairs. But I find that most of the guests, Republican or Democrat, have already cast their votes for . . . . . Hillary. “The devil you know” seems to have been the underlying sentiment.
Politics was verboten at the luncheon gathering at the Key Biscayne home of Tere Benach on Sunday, but Aperol Spritz cocktails loosened tongues. Thankfully, respectful and restrained conversation let me understand different points of view while thoroughly enjoying the ‘Arroz con Pollo’ (a delicious Cuban chicken and rice dish) that Tere had made especially in my honour.
At a gathering of old friends at Edmundo’s home from our time at Lake Como , the case of Taittinger didn’t quite make it to the end of the evening, but a quick dash to the cellar to find more bubbly saved the night.E dmundo has a new toy – little 2016 Chinese Red Fiat 500 Abarth. Out driving, he loves engaging the ‘Sports’ control button that makes such a terrible noise. Meanwhile I’m admiring the streets of ‘Mediterranean Revival’ Coral Gables with their shaded canopies of mature oaks, and the masses of bougainvillea and pink Bauhinia trees.
more to come
I’m staying on the 23rd floor of a brand-new hotel on the Bund with uninterrupted views out over the Huangpu River to the futuristic skyscrapers on the Pudong side. Fortunately, there is no smog and the skies are blue.
On my first visit here in 1985 while I was living in Hong Kong, the whole area was marshes and rice paddies. The changes since then are incredible. Click here to read.
Grey Mao suits and simple clothing of Shanghai in the 80’s has been replaced by conspicuous consumption reflected in the latest Western fashions – clothes and hairstyles. Roads once clogged with bicycles, grey trucks bearing commune numbers, and a few cars are now log-jammed with late model vehicles.
The Middle Kingdom will rise again, as sure as the sun that beautifully back-lit the silhouetted skyscrapers outside my bedroom window this morning!
A Sunday afternoon stroll along the waterfront promenade gives me a good view of architectural relics along the Bund from Shanghai’s days as a treaty port. I walk into the now restored Art Deco Peace Hotel looking for the old-timers jazz band, but I’ll need to come back later.
Thankfully, the local government has protected the heritage aspects of this precinct while private interests have restored the beautiful old buildings to their original glory.
A taxi-ride away is the buzzing Xintiandi area, part of the old ‘French Concession’. Rather than razing a block of dilapidated shikumen (“stone gate homes”), here again, the Shanghai government (in cooperation with private interests) commissioned an American architect to redesign and renovate them. I went for a walk down memory lane and took an outside table at Wolfgang Puck’s for a good Aussie beef hamburger and a glass of beer to watch the world go by.
Using the hotel’s handy printed list of places to see in English and Mandarin, I hopped another taxi and went to
The three of them rattle-up to our villa in their little car most nights lugging bags of fresh produce, and it’s through these lovely people, that we’re feeling truly integrated into Puglia . . . and connected to the earth around us.
One day this week, Marco and Isabella even went driving into the countryside to forage under old olive trees to collect a haul of special cardoncelli mushrooms to bake with fresh peppers and Italian sausages for us. (I have this dish on my ‘to do’ list.)
The opportunity to have true locals cook in our own villa kitchen (at reasonable prices), and at such a high standard, is a priceless part of our Puglia experience. We discuss menu options daily (using google translate), and then they buy the fresh vongole or mussels, and all other fresh meat, produce, local sausage and cheeses.A s the relationships develop we get first-hand experience of the true warmth, life challenges, and generosity of Pugliese people.
Michael Schramm RIPL ast night, the eleven of us in our extended Puglia family joined Anne and Trevor at a Feast Day Mass in the church in Locorotondo to commemorate the first anniversary of their son (and my nephew) Michael’s death last year.
Fr Frank, my old Amex friend and now the parish priest of two parishes in West Berlin, concelebrated the sung Mass at which the local Fr Francesco offered special prayers for Michael and his family.
The church was full to overflowing. After the Mass a band struck up outside the church and led the local confraternity through colourfully illuminated arches in the narrow streets of this hilltop town – carrying the statue of their patron saint, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows (appropriately for us).
In remembering Michael, we harken back to a very comforting message from good friend Fr Steve Sinn SJ that Trevor and Anne truly appreciated at the time.
“Will always remember my time with you Michael.
Your dreams live on with me and I pray that you walk beside me and guide me.
Peace now my brother.
Our 2-week stay at Villa Trullo Pinnacolo in the countryside of Pugia was a series of welcomes, reunions, and surprises. My sister Anne and Trevor and I were ‘in residence’ for the whole fortnight. The first week revolved around Musgrave family, and in the second week my ‘extended’ family from different parts of the world, all of whom know each other, arrived.
Click here to view Photo Album
El Duque de Cobos choreographed the opening sequence of the Latin Dance ‘performance’ and ‘rehearsed’ the Baroness to ensure a flawless ‘performance’ for the august audience of expectant guests.
However, the sultry, black-veiled ‘Baroness’ was later chastised severely for not following his specific direction to slap him twice with her fan after he boldly pulls the black veil from her face. Later, the ‘Baroness’ confided that it was the two young chefs, with eyes as big as cannonballs (in wonderment or sheer disbelief), who distracted her.
Fortunately, for posterity’s sake, Naser suggested that we get some ‘wedding photos’ while it was still light so that we could share the colour of the costumes more clearly.
More to come.
We are staying at Masseria Trapanà, a restored medieval masseria that was once a fortified farmhouse. It’s located a few miles out of Lecce and set amongst sixty hectares of olive groves. Inside the dry-stone walls, it’s an oasis of cool, with manicured gardens and a carpet of green grass miraculously thriving in the shade of an orchard of citrus trees.O ver the last couple of years, the property has been painstakingly restored and decorated with impeccable taste by Australian expat Rob Potter-Sanders. (I know of only two others who could have conceived such a tasteful, comfortable establishment, with services to match. My old friend, the late David Michôd, and the omnipresent Edmundo.) The unflappable general manager of the masseria, Giuseppe, is there too keeping the operation quietly ticking-over – leaving us to live without a care in the world.
We’re very comfortable here from the outset, but an invasive sense of freedom, after the frustrating wasted morning trying to visit Lecce, seals it for us. Any future sightseeing will be considered only as an adjunct to relaxing in the confines of the masseria!
There’s ne’er a thought to get in the car and drive to town in the evenings for dinner either. We are content to ‘stay home’, turning-up at 8.30pm outdoors under the citrus trees for a four course dinner of simple regional cuisine of the chef’s choosing – and for the princely sum of Euro 35. The enthusiastic, ever-smiling Giorgio, Gian-Marco, and Marco serve the drinks and dance attendance on all the guests – as usual.
T he public areas and guest rooms are simple and contemporary but retain the limestone characteristics of the region including barrel-vaulted ceilings. Light streams into the expansive sitting areas from huge floor to ceiling windows inviting to kick-back comfortably in oversize comfy sofas with a book, or a glass. Who could want for anything more?
‘Kicking-back’ is a luxury. We all reach a point where simply being comfortable in our surroundings is more gratifying than constantly being ‘on the go’.
Locorotondo appears ethereally as on a cloud floating above the red dirt, olive groves, and trulli (͚hobbit-like͛, conical stone dwellings) that are scattered across the countryside in the Valle d’Itria in Puglia.
It͛s not just another Italian ͚white city͛ on a hill, but one with an obviously proud community in neat white cottages and colourful blooms along the maze of narrow paved alley-ways. centred around the Cathedral church on top of the hill.
Down in the Friday Market in the piazza and streets below the church there͛s a ͚ring-in͛, an aggressive misfit, not of this happy community.
He is selling the most delicious-looking plump porcini mushrooms the size of dinner plates. Shouting obscenities to be understood by any ear, he grabs Paul͛s camera as he attempts to photograph the ͚mushies͛. Paul’s angry response with equally colourful expletives and red face had me as referee to avoid a nasty incident.
Rain buckets down all the way and much too heavy even to stop and make a dash for a coffee break. Arriving in Molfetta as the rain eases and squelching all the way along the seafront under an umbrella to the cathedral, we are rewarded with a festa atmosphere to mark the birthday of Our Lady.
Perchance, the local bishop catches sight of two soaked Australians and beckons us to say hello and to be photographed by one of his young priest assistants. After ͚saying one͛ in front of the relics of the patron saint Corrado, we step otside to find the clouds parted and patches of blue. Palms around the large enclosed harbour and sweeping limestone piazza add a touch of Arabia to this East-facing Italian city.
Molfetti and the old city of Trani just up the coast formed part of the historic routes to the Middle East. They are treasure troves of beautifully restored houses, palazzos, churches and streetscapes, and where, in earlier times, Crusaders, Templars, pilgrims gathered.I n Trani, the finely located cathedral is beautifully located on a promontory jutting-out into the Adriatic. It gleams in what is now a sunny afternoon.
With so many tempting restaurants to choose from with the promise of freshly caught seafood from colourful trawlers with fishing nets still on the decks that lined the harbour, we pause at what Paul likes – a ͚cheap and cheerful͛. I͛m subjected to a very ͚rustico͛ lunch of ͚baked leftovers͛ at in a hole in the wall establishment next to a statue of an early pilgrim enroute to Rome from Greece that caught Paul͛s imagination. I now count the hours wondering how long it will take for the pile of re-heated mussels, rice, potatoes, tomatoes and rice doused with oil will take to ͚be my undoing.
My idea of days exploring the 17th century city of Lecce in Puglia, located in the heel of the Italian boot, with its buildings all built from pietra lecese, the creamy white local limestonetakes only a couple of hours in reality.