Taylor Swift Delicate video review

Taylor Swift has just dropped her brand new video, and in true Taylor style the release was big. Delicate was first shown at the iHeart Radio awards on Monday Australian time and it instantly got people talking.
It’s the fifth track off her album Reputation and shows a more vulnerable side to the previous singles from the album. Coincidentally, on all of her previous albums track 5 has been a vulnerable track. This song is about Taylor taking a hesitant approach towards a relationship- most likely her relationship of more than a year with Joe Alwyn. It’s all about not wanting to ruin something that is good and despite her reputation, finding someone who likes her for who she is.
Like the previous 3 videos released for reputation, this too is directed by Joseph Kahn and it seems that he and Taylor create magic together. The film clip is a little more expressive and obscure than previous videos, but I think that Taylor is trying to send a strong message throughout it- that she just wants to be herself and invisible sometimes. We all know that in recent times, the media have portrayed Taylor in a very negative light and I think that she is trying to show that she is beyond over it and will continue just doing what she does on her own terms.
One thing that Taylor does well with music videos is hidden messages and many fans now know to look out for these hidden messages in her film clips. Delicate is no exception. These are a few I have noticed.
There is of course the snake ring, which Taylor has made famous following the snake comments made by Kim Kardashian-West. But if you look back on Shake It Off from 2014, Taylor was wearing a snake ring back then. I feel that Taylor is using this image of a ‘snake’ to her advantage, that it really doesn’t bother her anymore.
The Hotel that Taylor is dancing in is called Hotel Delicat, French for delicate. Also while she is dancing in the subway, there is graffiti that reads ‘Track 5’. Taylor is certainly making sure fans know the name and track number of the song. This isn’t the first time she has done this in videos though and probably won’t be the last time.
Following the trend, when Taylor is dancing in the rain (which is very reminiscent of Fearless days), she walks past a brick wall that read ‘Echoes of your footsteps’ which is a line from Delicate.
But probably the most heart-warming hidden message and almost a confirmation that the song is about Joe Alwyn, is the ‘Joe’s Deli’ sign behind Taylor when she is dancing on the car. Joe is obviously nodding to Alwyn and Deli, which is generally short for delicatessen, could be short for delicate in this case meaning that Taylor and Joe’s love is delicate. Or maybe I’m just reading into this way too much.
I also feel that the way the film clip ended could be a hint at the next single. It ends with Taylor entering a bar and looking for somebody, presumably the man who have her the note that is lit up and Taylor carries for the majority of the film clip. Is this man Joe? I think so. It may just be coincidental that she meets this person in a bar and the first line of track 7 So it goes… is “Met you in a bar”. Or it could mean that So it goes… may be the next single.
A lot of people have compared the Delicate film clip, which so far has over 33 million views, to Sia’s ‘Chandelier’. The dance style is similar yes but I think the whole premise is totally different.
Prior to this film clip, we had seen Taylor dance but not really in an interpretive/contemporary style and I actually think she does a pretty good job. Taylor has never flaunted herself as a dancer but she does give it a good crack in this film clip. She also released the rehearsal videos for the dance, so she obviously put a lot of work into it. The dancing goes with the whole idea of the film clip- that Taylor is trying to be herself and is absolutely loving it. It really doesn’t matter how awkward she may look dancing, if she enjoys it and it fits the story then what is the point in judging her?
Overall I think Delicate is one of Taylor’s best music videos. It isn’t as intricate or special effects filled as some others like Ready For It and Style. There aren’t the amazing costumes like we have seen in Look What You Made Me Do and Blank Space. But there is creativity in a different way and a deep emotional connection. It’s simple but for the song, I don’t think it needed to be fancy. While Taylor has some fans absolutely hating this video, I like it because it is something new from her that we haven’t really seen. You can’t blame a girl for trying or wanting to be herself.

Taylor Swift Delicate

Emma Terry- from Ballet to psychology

Emma Terry graces the stage with pure elegance. Although she is only 22 years old, her career so far as been as stellar as her dancing.

Emma first began dancing at the age of 5. “I started doing the usual styles- ballet, tap and jazz”. But it was ballet that became her true passion.

The first dance school that Emma attended was the Lisa Williams Dance Studio. Emma tells me what it  was like to be so young and doing dance exams. “I was 5 and I still didn’t know my right from my left. Mum (Donna) took me in beforehand and said ‘See that window? When she says to go right you go that way. When she says to go left, you go towards the door'”.

But Emma’s passion for the art form began a year earlier. Donna took Emma to see The Australian Ballet perform Swan Lake. At only 4, Donna was surprised that Emma knew and understood the story line, even though she herself didn’t entirely understand the premise. It was then both Emma and her mum knew that she had fallen in love with ballet.


From the Lisa Williams Dance Studio, Emma went to various dance studios before coming across Classical Dance Academy in 2005. This is also the year that I first met Emma and began taking classes with her. The dance studio ran by the amazing Kelly Edwards (nee Watson) was ballet based so was a dance studio that both Emma and I thrived at. “I loved dancing there. I loved and gained so much knowledge about ballet there”.

Emma became such a wonderful dancer that she decided to audition for Sydney’s most prestigious Performing Arts High School, The McDonald College. “My stepdad took me to their open day and I fell in love with all of it; the dance studios (all 12 of them), the entire vibe of the school environment was amazing”. And so Emma auditioned successfully and began attending the school. She felt accepted and for the first time in a very long time, Emma felt that she finally fit in and could be herself and not what she felt she had to be to fit in.

At the age of 15, whilst she was attending The McDonald College, Emma decided that she wanted to start auditioning for companies in the USA. “I don’t know what drew me to there but it was where I wanted to go”. So, Emma sent off an audition tape to the Boston Ballet and got accepted into their Summer Program. Originally, Boston was where Emma envisaged herself performing for awhile, but once over in the US she decided to take a trip to Florida. On a whim, she decided to audition for the Orlando Ballet School.

It was also during this time that Emma realised the career she could have in ballet. “You want it badly before of course, but once you are one of the few left getting interviewed for the final audition process, it kind of hits you”. Of course, it has been a dream of Emma’s for many years so getting accepted was really a dream come true.

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During her time with the Orlando Ballet School, Emma got to perform many times and being only 16 years of age, that sort of opportunity is rare in Australia. “I was at Orlando for a few years. I had my eyes on the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago for awhile. I flew up with my parents and saw the company and studios. I was in love”. And so the audition process for the Joffrey Ballet begun. It started with Emma attending their Summer program and whilst there, auditioning for the Joffrey Ballet Trainee Program. It’s no surprise that Emma was delighted to receive the news that her audition had been successful.  “It was a dream that had literally become a reality. Chicago still is to this day one of my favourite cities in the world”.

Emma enjoyed her time in Chicago and tells me that she learnt a lot dancing in the U.S. “Dancing over in the US taught me to step outside my boundaries and comfort zone. I was constantly evolving seeing dance styles I had never seen before and learning new things from people all over the world”. She also says that whilst over there she met lots of great people and formed friendships with dancers from all over the world. Some of these friends became more like family and would even host Emma at their house over special holiday periods such as Easter and Thanksgiving.

In a way, Emma never got a chance to be a regular teenager as she was constantly busy dancing in a foreign country. “I never had the normal, crazy teen years”. Emma continues to tell me that being over there without her parents forced her to mature and become an adult sooner that she would have if she danced for a Sydney based company. The U.S taught her to be courageous and independent; how to push for her goals and work hard towards something; along with dedication and passion for what you do. With all of these Emma believes that you can conquer the world like she did.

Of course with the highs comes the lows and because Emma was so young and living on the other side of the world to her family, there were of course difficult times for her. The first night after her mum left was one of the hardest Emma tells me. “I watched mum go outside and get in a cab in the pouring rain. I bawled my eyes out into my pillow which mum had secretly sprayed with her perfume”. It is indeed amazing that Emma was able to do what she had done at the age of 16, a time when most teenage girls need their mum the most. “I think the absolute worst was when I was sick, and even though I felt like an adult for sure, it brought heartache for home”.

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Emma feels that the downs helped prepare her for many things in life that the ordinary person wouldn’t necessarily know how to handle, a true sign of her maturity. “I know what it’s like to be turned down from a job you desperately want. I know how competitive the world is out there. In ballet you turn up to an audition with over 100 girls all wanting the one position”.

Sometimes Emma feels that young people tend to forget that there is always another opportunity around the corner so if you want something so bad, don’t ever give in. Emma has learned along the road not to take rejection to heart, as most performers have also learned, because there may just be something better down the road.

Although dancing can seem like it’s all glitz and glamour in certain Hollywood depictions, there is also a very competitive and hard side to it. Not necessarily as dark as Black Swan but definitely more cut-throat like in Centre Stage. This is something that I feel many young dancers may be disillusioned by which can lead to severe mental illnesses. Which is why Emma’s experiences have now lead her to the path of psychology.

Since her return to Australia, Emma has begun studying Psychology at Wollongong University. “There was a long time where I felt lost after finishing dancing in the US. I think that’s something many dancers go through at some point in their life. You go from doing something 6 days a week for many years of your life to trying to be a normal person and it’s really hard”. This loss Emma describes is felt by many dancers when they retire either due to injury, illness, age or any other serious issue. This is now why Emma wishes to be able to help dancers deal with certain psychological illnesses they face during their time performing. Dancers have to be both physically and mentally tough and in a lot of cases the latter is more difficult than the former. “I wish I had someone to turn to and talk to who could understand, other than a teacher or parent”.

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As Emma describes to me, the show must go on so more often than not, dancers push any anxiety, stress or depression aside and continue performing to their highest ability. “But in all honesty, it needs to be talked about. In ballet you are rewarded for your ability to ignore pain. If you have a mental breakdown, you are strong enough to do it”. Emma goes on to tell me that in elite ballet, it’s all about mental toughness which comes at each dancers wellbeing. Those performers who are mentally tough and have the ability to shut everything out get promoted but those who show any sign of weakness are replaced. Yes, it really isn’t all tutus and pointe shoes!

“I suffered from anxiety as a dancer and I’m not afraid to hide it. I always just thought I was weak, not capable, and not normal because I felt this way”. That simply isn’t true though, Emma stresses to me. This is why psychology is now her calling. Why should other dancers suffer or go through the same thing that Emma did? “Dancers need to know that they aren’t alone. You’d be surprised how many of them are just good at hiding it. The truth of your pain and suffering does not negate your talent or drive as a dancer. It merely means you are human”.

So although the curtain has closed on Emma’s career as a ballet dancer, a new and exciting curtain raises for her. It gives her the ability to help others who may be facing a similar situation to what she did. But above all, it lets these dancers know that they actually aren’t alone in the big, exciting but exhausting world of dancing.

©Creative Collections 2018

Camila Cabello album review

‘Havana ooh nah nah’. It’s the infectious song that’s been playing on radio stations all around the world. And it’s the song that has put 21-year-old Camila Cabello on the map as a solo artist. Having recently released her debut solo album Camila, this girl is proving that she can do things on her own.

Camila Cabello first burst onto the music scene in 2012 on the U.S version of The X Factor. After initially not being successful as a solo artist on the show, Camila was put into a group formed by the judges called Fifth Harmony.  The group finished in 3rd place and had great success. In December of 2016, Camila announced her departure from the group and began to pursue her solo career.

She had little success as a solo artist to begin with, which forced the delay of her debut album. However, once Havana was released, Camila’s popularity continued to grow. Reaching number one in Australia, Canada and the U.S, she began to show potential as her own artist.

Havana like a majority of tracks on the album, has a Cuban feel to it. Given Camila’s birthplace is East Havana in Cuba, it really isn’t surprising.

Upon it’s release Camila debuted at number one and upon listening to the album in depth, it’s not hard to see why.

Camila’s latest single Never be the Same is the opening track of the album and really invites the listener in. If you haven’t heard this track, it’s very catchy and really demonstrates the vocal capabilities of Camila. The general meaning of the song is that love is like an addiction that changes you. The ear-worm tune will be stuck in your head all day.


There are many other catchy, Latin pop tunes that will have you humming and dancing along. She Loves Control is upbeat and heavily synthesised but definitely a memorable track on the album.

Inside Out has a very repetitive chorus that is sure to get stuck in your head but it does emphasise the point that Camila is trying to make. This track also salutes to Camila’s heritage with her singing Spanish in the third verse and the whole track feeling very Latin.

The final track Into It is also memorable and a great way to conclude the album.

There also more stripped back ballads on the album that really showcase Camila’s vocal skills, something which fell under the radar a little when she was performing with Fifth Harmony.

All These Years is a beautiful love song that is stripped back. It’s about missing somebody who once had a big impact on your life. In a previous interview, Camila stated “I think I miss you means more than I love you because you can love a lot more people but there are really just a few you can miss”. This quote speaks volumes for the track.

Consequences is another stand-out track. The piano accompaniment is simple and Camila’s voice really shines through. It also shows off her creativity and ability as a songwriter. I really feel that Camila has put her heart and soul into the conviction of this song as the emotion really comes through.

Something’s Gotta Give is another stand-out ballad. This song is about a potentially toxic relationship and breakup. Again the emotion in this song is so raw.

Overall, the sound of the album is fantastic and also quite unique. Each song is well written, well produced and well performed. Camila shows her versatility and vocal abilities throughout the whole album. It has an infectious sound and is a very solid effort for a debut album.

For now, Camila will focus on her solo career and support and her friend Taylor Swift on her Reputation tour in the U.S as well as take on her own headlining tour. Camila’s star continues to rise and rightfully so because this girl has talent.

©Craetive Collections 2018

King Brian- Western Sydney Legend part 2

Brian Mcombe has been a prolific entertainer for over 40 years, worked in electrical retail for over 50 years and is a valuable asset to the greater Blacktown area and an even greater asset to those who know him.

In part one of my interview with Brian last week, we discussed his charity kidney golf day event. Although the amount raised is not yet known, Brian has since informed me of the day’s success. With 120 attendees, the day was a hit. “We had the best day. Everyone had a great time,” he tells me over the phone. Brian is still adamant that this is his last charity golf day after 13 years of hosting it, but time will  only tell.

This week’s article will focus more on Brian’s successes and achievements in the industry as well as his Facebook fame.

From his days as King Brian on the TV commercials, to his work within the Blacktown Community, Brian’s career has been honoured with many different awards. To the left side in his living room is a tall trophy cabinet filled with various accolades from over the years. Some are more special than others he tells me as he takes me through a few of his most honourable ones.

Brian McCombe and trophies

Sitting in a black frame is an Australian of the Year award, which Brian received in 2014 for his efforts in the Blacktown community and services to charity. These awards are only given to those people who have made a big impact in some way, so I am not the least bit surprised that Brian has received one. There’s several Blacktown Sydney Business Awards trophies that Brian has won through the years. He has even assisted other businesses in winning their awards such as Anytime Fitness, which he visits on a regular basis and the Stanhope Fitness Centre where he was an ambassador for 5 year. “All these lovely people I know. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

In 2016, Brian was also nominated as a Legend of The West for the Nepean News paper. This is something that Brian holds close to his heart and is very thankful for. He was the first to be nominated as a Legend of the West for the newspaper.

I can’t help but notice an oversized drum kit trophy at the top of the cabinet, so of course I am intrigued to know more about this. The ‘Drum Beat’ award was presented to Brian last year by the debonaires. “That was fabulous actually. I didn’t think I would get to keep the drums. I thought they were just for on the day. But I got to keep it.”

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Last year, Brian received the most outstanding citizen award for the Blacktown area. “That was a great award because the guy that introduced it to me, that was the first award of the night in front of over 700 people at Blacktown Workers Club, and he announced it as meeting me all these years ago.” Brian continues to tell me that they met on the main street of Blacktown in the 1980’s when Brian was still at Chandlers. “He approached me for a gift for the business awards and I came up with a coloured television for them and he said if that’s the way the people in Blacktown are gonna be, how friendly I was towards him, he said he’s gonna enjoy doing the awards in Blacktown.”

In recent years, Brian has become known as the most photographed man on Facebook, even receiving a trophy for this. Every day, Brian posts several different photos on Facebook with different faces at different places. Everybody seems to know him. In fact, when I take a short walk with him through the Rouse Hill Town Centre, several people stop to say hello to him and ask how he is. Even on his recent cruise, people had recognised him from Facebook and wanted to get a photo with him. “When Sue and I boarded the ship recently, I had a lady come on, Diane, and she sent me a message ‘it sounds like you’re a fun guy Brian. I’m looking forward to meeting you.’” Diane got a photo with Brian, as did her two children. It seems that everywhere he goes, photos are always taken which he enjoys, although not everyone enjoys it as much as he does. “Some people get a bit upset cause they think I overdo it,” Brian tells me but I can sense the enjoyment that it brings him.

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Brian will often get photographs with his satisfied customers at The Good Guys and with the staff of restaurants and pubs that he frequents such as The Brewery and The Fiddler and he tells me that they are always very obliging to it.

Sue, for the most part, enjoys the impact that Brian has on people’s lives and how happy he can make them with one photo. She is often with Brian when these photos are taken. “Strangers come up to me all the time and hug me and she’ll say ‘who was that?’ and I say ‘I don’t know’ but they knew me”. Brian and Sue have been together for 5 years and Sue tells me that those 5 years have been so amazing because of all the things she has had the chance to experience with Brian. She counts tickets to see Celine Dion as one of her favourite moments. “She’s a cougar” Brian laughs because Sue is 5 years older than he is. “In the last 5 years we’ve been together I’ve taken her to so many shows and introduced her to so many people which she’d never done before.” Sue loves every minute of it, especially making the Cupie Dolls for the Westmead Children’s Hospital.

Brian puts his successes all down to hard work. He would never have achieved what he has and been where he is today if he didn’t work hard for it. Working in electrical retail for over 50 years has introduced Brian to many different faces and different events. He still works for The Good Guys and loves the enjoyment that he gets from satisfied customers who keep coming back. He also loves the opportunities that are presented to him, which come from being so successful. Straight after our interview and lunch, Brian heads to the Echidna’s Show at Croydon RSL. He’ll usually attend Studio 10 twice a week and then works 4 days a week, whilst also fitting in shows, dinners and awards evenings. Brian attends the Debonairs Luncheons at Sails Waterfront once a month. “They love me there and always take the mickey out of me,” Brian smiles. In April, he will attend the Australian Club Entertainment (ACE) awards.

For now, Brian will continue working, entertaining people and uploading hundreds of photos to Facebook. His positivity towards life will keep shining through. As our lunch comes to an end, it’s clear that Brian McCombe has left an impression on me- one that’s positive, good-natured and caring. Brian takes pride in all that he does and doesn’t see his lifestyle slowing down or stopping anytime soon. “I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke and my heart’s still pumping so touch wood.”

Brian McCombe and trophies 2

I would like to say a thank you to everyone who has supported this blog over the last week and for all your kind comments regarding my first article with Brian. I hope you all enjoyed this one just as much. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or via the Facebook page. To read more articles like Brian’s, sign up for email notifications below, or ‘Like’ the Facebook page.

© Creative Collections 2018

King Brian- Western Sydney Legend Part 1

It’s a warm day in the Western Sydney suburb of Rouse Hill. I am not familiar with the area, so when I pulled up to the address that Brian McCombe had given me for his apartment, I surely think I’m lost. I’m surrounded by shops and restaurants. Surely this isn’t where he lives? I turn around and see my subject walking towards me with a big grin on his face. As Brian approaches, I know that I am in for a wonderful interview.

I wasn’t in the wrong place, as it turns out. There are apartments above the Rouse Hill Town Centre where 67-year-old Brian resides. I am amazed as I walk into his apartment and see his impressive trophy cabinet, which I will get to in part two. There are many signed canvases and framed images on his wall along with framed photos of Brian with many different famous faces.

Brian grew up in Riverstone. He is the son of Lillian and Sam who have both passed away. Growing up, Brian had a fairly ordinary childhood until his entertainment story began when he was 13 years old. He started to play the drums in his school band and continued to do so for 17 years. “I love entertainment and keeping others entertained,” Brian tells me. He gave up the drums at the age of 30 after his son was born but he doesn’t miss it because he has found other ways to fill that entertainment void.

Brian married at the age of 26. The marriage resulted in two children together Melissa and Matthew and  2 grandchildren Olivia and Ava. Sadly the marriage ended after 27 years. But since then, Brian has met Sue and they have been together for 5 years. I meet Sue during my interview with Brian. I can tell just how much she enjoys the entertaining life of Brian McCombe. “I’ve introduced her to so many people and taken her to so many shows. I always get asked to go somewhere on the weekend and bring Sue along,” he tells me.

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Brian and Sue

Brian often talks in tangents, but it affirms his passion for life and entertainment as well as his energetic personality. Brian’s real career began in the 1990’s when he started doing ads for the electrical company he worked at, Chandler’s.  It was not too long before Brian became synonymous as ‘King Brian’. “The lady who owned the business didn’t really want to be on TV, so I started doing it.” He enjoyed the ads and the sudden fame that they brought. “Being an ex-musician, it didn’t bother me so I really enjoyed doing them.”

So how exactly did the ‘king’ come about? “They thought of the idea on the Queen’s birthday and they gave me a crown to wear. We went through different kings from Elvis to Neptune”. The ads were mostly broadcast on Channel 10 and radio stations 2UE and 2GB. To this day, many customers still refer to him as ‘King Brian’. The ad campaign was Brian’s first foot in the open door to the world of entertainment.

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Brian and Ita Buttrose

Since then, Brian has met many people and done many different things for the entertainment industry and charities. In fact, it is rare that a day goes by when he isn’t attending an event. So it’s only fitting that our next topic of conversation happens to be Brian’s charity event.

Coming up on the 2nd March for the 13th year in a row, Brian will be hosting his annual Kidney Fundraising Golf Day. 13 years ago, he was invited as an ambassador to the day. “When we finished, I asked the crowd if they all wanted me back next year.” The unanimous answer was yes. It is held at Fox Hill Golf Club. During the time that Brian has been involved in the charity day, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised. The big money maker of the night are the auctions along with the raffles. The raffles bring in around $1600 on the night. One year, they made $25,000. Due to his connections, there are some pretty big ticketed items up for auction each year. During our interview, I notice a large canvas that is signed by radio hosts Kyle and Jackie O. This will be going into this year’s auction along with a meet and greet and tour of the studio with Kyle and Jackie O. There are also a pair of very high, bright yellow pumps sitting on his bench. These are signed by Ita Buttrose and are expected to go for a sizeable figure on the night. “There’s 22 teams booked in this year,” Brian tells me. He also tells me how each year there is an Elvis impersonator who entertains the audience. Unfortunately, the usual Elvis, John Collins, is unable to perform this year but Brian assures me that there is an excellent stand in for him.

Brian intended to give the charity day up after 10 years but 3 years later he is still hosting it. “This year will be last. But I don’t know because I love doing it. We’ll play it by ear.”

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Brian is also involved with work for the Cancer Council and Variety Club and holds charity work close to his heart. Later, over lunch at the Griddle Restaurant, he and Sue tell me about the Cupie dolls that Sue makes and hand delivers to the sick children at Westmead Children’s hospital. I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that even the security guards there know Brian. “I’ve always believed that what you give out, you get back. I’ve always been like that. It’s a great way to live.”

Our conversation continues to flow as Brian tells me more about his entertainment life and being so widely recognised. Although he still works part-time at The Good Guys in Blacktown after more than 50 years of service in electrical retail, Brian always manages to find time to do and see things.

Brian regularly visits the Channel 10 morning show ‘Studio 10’. “I know a lot of the entertainers on board. I have a photo with them at the end of the show. I’ve also made friends with a lot of the regulars who go to the show.” In fact, when Brian and Sue recently took some time out to go on a cruise, the crew from Studio 10 kept asking him when he would be returning, a sign that Brian’s presence is most welcomed.

Before Studio 10, Brian used to be given 16 tickets for ‘This is your Life’ each week. He has also attended ‘Dancing with the Stars’. With Brian, it really is a case of who you know not what you know. Having met the likes of Celine Dion, Tim Webster, Ray Hadley and Rove McManus, Brian certainly knows a lot of people, but he never forgets those within his community.

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Brian and Rove

Being a local to the Blacktown area and community and having worked in the area for so long, I’m not surprised when Brian tells me that he has a hosting spot at the Blacktown City Council Show. “I do the Showgirl quest. For a few years I was the judge and now I ask the questions. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that and it keeps you in touch with the community.”

Brian is always sure to give local businesses a shout out too. Whenever he attends an event or a restaurant, he is sure to give them a mention on Facebook. He is always very happy to help with the exposure of people with up and coming talent. When he attended Dancing With the Stars, aside from getting a photo with his look-a-like Darryl Somers, Brian introduced them to a young dancer Natasha, who now owns her own dance studio. Because everyone knew who Brian was, they kept asking who this beautiful young woman was that he had brought with him.

Brian says that meeting people and families in a round-a-bout way through his work is something that he enjoys. “I promote them all, anyone new. They love it. I like the enjoyment they get out of it,”. This is probably why he suggested we go to his friend John’s restaurant ‘The Griddle’ in Rouse Hill for lunch. Brian frequents this restaurant and the staff all know him by name and ask him what he has planned for the day. It’s not hard to see why Brian promotes this business so much because both the food and service are impeccable.

With all the success that Brian has had, it’s only fitting that he has an impressive trophy cabinet. Known as the most photographed man on Facebook, my discussion will continue with Brian next week as he takes me through his trophy cabinet and more of his achievements.

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Brian and I during our interview at The Griddle Restaurant

To keep updated when part 2 is released, be sure to ‘Like’ the Facebook page from the link below.

© Creative Collections 2018



Review- Jodi Picoult ‘Small Great Things’

Small Great Things is Jodi Picoult’s newest book and probably her best to date. I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult’s books since My Sister’s Keeper and have read all of them more than once. I’m actually upset that it has taken me so long to read this masterpiece, well over a year.

In true Picoult style, the story is written from three different perspectives. The first is Ruth, who has been a nurse for over 20 years. She delivers babies and cares for them for the first few days of their life. She is capable and highly skilled but unfortunately for Ruth, she is African American which shouldn’t really affect her job. Suddenly Ruth meets Turk who would shortly ruin her nursing career. Ruth finds herself being accused of the death of Turk’s baby after he told the supervisor that Ruth was not to touch his baby. Turk is a neo-Nazi and believes that white supremacy rules the U.S and all others shouldn’t be treated the same. He and his wife accuse Ruth of murdering their newborn baby. The third perspective is from Kennedy, Ruth’s lawyer and lifesaver who will stop at nothing to prove Ruth’s innocence.  But can they prove in time that Ruth wasn’t responsible for the death of baby Davis? Or will Turk’s prejudice win?

As with all Picoult books, I was gripped within the first few pages. Her writing really draws the reader in and leaves the reader begging for more. It’s a real page turner.

One of Picoult’s biggest assets I think, is writing from different perspectives because that forces us as the reader to see things from different angles and feel different emotions. We may not always like the emotions that are forced upon us though.

Ruth is a caring nurse and mother whose husband was killed in the War. Ruth is the first character we meet and identify with and I really felt I was being taken on the journey with her. I felt joyous when she spoke about the different emotions of helping to bring babies into the world and I felt upset and angry when Ruth was accused of killing baby Davis. I found myself really being in her shoes and felt the prejudice and racism that she faced throughout the whole book.  This actually made me feel quite upset that in the 21st Century such hatred towards people of different races or religions still exits. I felt I identified with Ruth on a personal level, which Picoult often does in her books.

As much I don’t like to admit it, I also found myself identifying with Turk as well. Although he made me very angry and frustrated with his views on non-white Americans and the fact that he has a blog encouraging people to hate them, it also made me realise that I have been prejudiced before. I think we all have. And I think that Picoult wanted us to connect with that idea and really think about why we are prejudiced towards people who may be different to us in some way. I think she wanted us to identify with Turk in some way in that as humans, we can’t help but judge. Think about a time when you judged somebody because they have a different religion to you or because they might not eat meat. Indeed, simply judging someone is prejudice. And I think this was a clever move from Picoult to bring us, the reader, into the story. Still, no matter how much Turk irritated me and rubbed me the wrong way, I understood that his anger from losing his baby boy caused some of his actions. And I think that in life, when tragedy happens, we do find a way to blame others. Unfortunately for Turk it was all a matter of race. But there is a defining moment in the book that changes Turk for the better. Of course you have to read it to find out.

I found myself connecting with Kennedy to a lesser degree. I could connect to her as somebody coming to terms with that fact that she is prejudiced. I could also connect with her tenacity and her headstrong personality and the will to stop at nothing for justice.

Overall this book is gripping and very hard to put down. Picoult writes with an excellent knowledge of the subjects at hand, proving that she has done her necessary research as a writer. There is various medical terminology and protocols throughout that Picoult writes, which really gave me the sense of believability about this book, even though it is a work of fiction. Like in a lot of Picoult’s book, there is a lawsuit and subsequently a court case. And like in her previous books, Picoult’s knowledge of how court cases operate shines through. We as the reader are taken through the court case as if we are a member of the jury. I certainly felt like I was having to decide in this particular case who the guilty party was.  This is what draws me into Jodi Picoult’s book. I can really feel like I’m involved with them on a deeper level than most fiction books.

I cannot recommend this book any more. There’s twists, like most Picoult books and suspense so you really find it hard to put it down. Although on a few occasions in this book, I did find it a little predictable, but that’s the only negative comment I can make about it. Probably Picoult’s most thought provoking work thus far and my favourite to date. Do yourself a favour and add this book to your must-read list. You will really won’t be disappointed by that. I definitely feel that those who read it will get something positive out of it.


Have you read this book? I would love you to share your thoughts of it with me.

If you have a book recommendation, email it through to creativecollectionsblog@gmail.com.

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Christine Shaw makes yummy cakes

Frosting, fondant, naked. Whatever cake you desire, Christine Shaw will make it. This cake baker, or should I say cake artist, is extremely talented and can make absolutely anything.

Christine Shaw first discovered her love of baking and crafting cakes when she was studying as a mature age student at Emily MacPherson College, which is part of the Melbourne University of Technology. As part of the electives for this course in her fourth year, Christine decided that she would try her hand at the patisserie, continental chocolate work and cake decorating courses. And she was loved it from the start.

It was during this degree in her second year that Christine would meet her husband Michael. “I married him in the 3rd year and fell pregnant in the final year”, she laughs. And having children early was planned Christine tells me. This meant that she could specialise and work from home with children around and having a newborn baby didn’t stop her. She and Michael are now the parents of three sons and have one grandchild.

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Christine was working at CRA Mining Company in their kitchens and had her first major project when she was asked to decorate 200 chocolate plaques for the entire International Olympic Committee during the Melbourne Olympic bid in 1989. She describes this as a dream job and was amazed with what she could do, even with having a newborn to care for.

From there, Christine’s cake artistry continued to grow and she now makes cakes for all different occasions at a very affordable price. With the process that Christine goes through to bake and then decorate a cake, I really am surprised that her prices are so modest.

I ask her about her cake process and how long one cake takes to make. 5 hours? 10 hours? Maybe 15 hours? No, it’s actually between 20 and 30 hours depending on the requirements. “The first thing I do is consult with the client to work out their requirements, flavour and vision.” Christine then tells me that her next step in the process with the client is to consolidate the cake design, quote and gain approval from the client to continue the process. “After the client is happy, I begin to source or make the required decorations,” Christine continues. Such decorations may be flowers, figurines, chocolate curls, biscuits, meringues and signage. Once these are sourced, Christine can then start baking the cake. “Because I rarely get asked to do a fruit cake nowadays, I have to make the cakes as close to the function date as possible. This usually means sleepless nights on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights to ensure on time delivery on Saturday.” I ask her to go further into detail about what she does on these sleepless nights to ensure these cakes are perfect. On the Wednesday, Christine will bake the cake/s and allow them to cool. On the Thursday she will fill the cakes with whichever filling is required (usually buttercream or ganache) and do an initial cover of the cake. Friday is where the magic happens and the cake comes to life with the final covering, usually with fondant, and decorating. Then the cake is delivered to the clients ready to be enjoyed.

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Christine, who has been baking cakes for 30 years, has had her fair share of unusual requests, but being the highly competent and amazing cake artist that she is, she delivered on all occasions. Christine was asked to model the bride, groom and their pet dog sitting on their favourite couch to top their wedding cake. As far as flavours are concerned, Christine says that the most odd one she has had was a caramel cheesecake filling for a cake. It was a first, but Christine assures me that it actually turned out to be quite nice. But the one that makes really makes Christine smile, and probably one that she is most proud of, is when her client requested a gluten, lactose and egg free cake. “I did consider giving them a lettuce leaf,” she laughs. “However it did turned out to be quite tasty. Who would have thought?!”

Like all artists, Christine finds inspiration from a few things. She draws inspiration from cakes she might see in a magazine or book; something she may findonline across various platforms; pieces of art; her own imagination; and the most easily accessible thing of all: nature. Inspiration can do great things for an artist like Christine and help make her cakes look (and taste) stunning.

What really draws people to Christine’s cakes, apart from the fact that her prices aren’t extreme, is the amount of flavours that she offers. Of course there’s the usual chocolate, caramel, vanilla, banana, strawberry and white chocolate, but there are also many other different flavours. Christine offers Greek Style Yoghurt cakes in chocolate fudge, mocha, chai and hazelnut flavours. She also offers lemon sour cream cake; sticky date; orange and coconut; orange poppyseed; lemon poppyseed; lime poppyseed; carrot; hummingbird; red velvet; caramelised apple cake; and pear lime and almond cake. She even makes a Nutella cake (my favourite).  But she is always happy to experiment with flavours too, especially for the fillings. Christine offers a variety of fillings which can be tailored to your taste. These fillings might contain alcohol or may be just a standard chocolate or caramel ganache. Or you might prefer to be more traditional and go with jam and cream.

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So what still draws Christine to baking after all these years? Passion. “It’s a sense of satisfaction that it looks and tastes great and the thought that people are excited to eat and enjoy it too.” Repeat customers and word of mouth ensures that Christine is always baking cakes.

Aside from baking, Christine also enjoys cooking. “I love creating and I love making food look appetising. I love making food that people will love eating and get great satisfaction out of it when they do”, Christine tells me. Among her favourite cuisines to make are Asian, Greek and Italian, especially pasta. With her cooking, Christine offers catering to parties and different functions. She also works as food tech support, canteen supervisor and breakfast club coordinator at St Mary’s Catholic College in Gateshead, a suburb of Lake Macquarie.

I’ve had the pleasure of tasting Christine’s cakes and they are very delicious. The mud cake isn’t too dense, and the fondant is just the right amount of sweetness. The filling is delectable and adds to the taste. Her cakes always look finished and she is capable of making anything you desire, which is why she has become so popular. Christine’s cakes are made with love which really shines through.

Christine Shaw is a talented and crafty cake extraordinaire.  Nothing is too hard for her. However you like your cake, Christine can surely make it.


Book review- ‘A Changing Land’ by Nicole Alexander

A Changing Land by Australian author Nicole Alexander is a book that I wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to in an ordinary book shop. It’s not because of its cover, which I think is a great choice as it is very relevant to the premise of the story being the Australian outback. And it’s not because I had never heard of the author before. It’s simply because this is not usually the type of fiction I go for but I am very happy to eat humble pie in regards to this book.

This book was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I wished I had come across it sooner. I came across A Changing Land when my mother-in-law was collecting books for elderly clients at work. Upon reading the blurb I thought I would try it for something different and I am very glad that I did. This book shines.

A Changing Land is actually a sequel to Bark Cutters, but I didn’t find that out until later. I didn’t particularly feel like I had to read the Bark Cutters to understand what was happening. It all made sense. It’s got everything I like in a book: romance, misunderstandings, secrets and, on a lesser scale, tragedy. Whilst I usually prefer to go for biographies, sappy love stories or teen fiction, it only took me a few chapters to realise that this was a book I could really enjoy.

This book follows the legacy of the Gordan family. Beginning in the early 19th century, we meet Hamish Gordon who has a rural holding built on stock theft called ‘Wangallon’. Hamish is determined to ensure that his son, Angus, will inherit an enlarged property and will not stop at anything to do so. This includes a plan to purchase the neighbouring property. Because of his greed, Hamish nearly destroys everything, resulting in major repercussions.

We then meet Luke who is Hamish’s eldest son from another marriage. Luke feels deserted as he lost his mother and siblings years earlier. Upon hearing of his father’s plans, Luke is forced to choose between a new life or protection from the home has only ever known.

Flash forward to the end of the 20th century, we meet Sarah Gordon who runs Wangallon with her fiancé. As all good family stories go, Jim who is Sarah’s half brother from Scotland turns up unannounced. What does Jim want? Will Sarah’s fight sacrifice her happiness? Who will succeed in the acquisition of the property? These were all questions I was looking to be answered during the book. Don’t worry though, I won’t spoil it for you.

One thing that really drew me into this book, aside from the fact that it is Australian, is that it shows rural Australia in both past and present times and how these farms often remain in families for decades. I also really love Australian history so seeing the growth of Australia in the book was something that I really enjoyed too.

Upon reading this book, I learned that author Nicole Alexander actually grew up in rural Australia so she really knows what she is talking about. I find that her knowledge and experience makes this book shine and also makes it very believable.

As I delved deeper into the novel, I really did struggle to put it down. The storyline and the words on the page just kept drawing me in. I was always curious to find out what would happen next and also couldn’t wait to find out how it all ended. Of course I was sad once the book ended though.

Overall, this book is very well-written and interesting. It kept me entertained and enthralled. Nicole does an excellent job at making the reader feel like they are a part of the story. That’s how I felt anyway.

This book is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys modern historical fiction, particularly Australian history. It is within my top 5 books from Australian authors (and I’ve read quite a number) so I very highly recommend it to everyone.


Jordan Pannowitz- Photography and everything in between

Jordan Pannowitz is bubbly, friendly, talented and extremely busy. And, as I soon found out, she is caring. The 26 year-old photographer from Newcastle is more than just handy with a camera.

Jordan’s passion for photography began when she was 16 after her Aunty got a professional camera and taught Jordan how to use it. So that Christmas, Jordan’s parents got her a camera so she could start fulfilling her love of photography. “I started off with taking free photos for my family and friends. By the time I was 19, I started doing weddings for them as a back-up photographer”.

Jordan created her photography business JPannowitz Photography when she was 23 and began to charge people for her services. Since then, her business has only continued to grow. Last year, Jordan was shooting roughly 8 weddings a month and is already nearly fully booked for weddings this year. “I have a lot of loyal clients who just kept recommending me to people. It just kept going,” she tells me during our phone conversation. I can hear the passion in her voice whenever she speaks about her photography work.

I ask Jordan about her photographic style, something that is an important aspect to know when choosing a photographer to cover your shoot. She explains to me that her style is what is known as high contrast, meaning that the blues and greens stand out more. Given that a majority of Jordan’s photoshoots occur either on the beach or in the Hunter Valley, this chosen style is very fitting. Although the moody style is becoming very popular, and Jordan is happy to edit a few photos this way, she prefers to be a little different and stick with this high contrast style for all her photo shoots, and they certainly look amazing.

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Photo: JPannowitz Photography

Unlike other photographers, Jordan does not put a limit on the number of photos that her clients receive. “I edit every single photo, and you get every single photo. I believe that you are paying for a photography service so I don’t think that you should be limited”. As Jordan continues to tell me, there really would be no point in her keeping all these photos to herself rather than showing them to the world. “I try to differ myself from everyone else. So at the end you could have 1600 photos.”

Another thing that sets Jordan apart from other photographers, and something I think reflects Jordan’s personality, is that she doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for her wedding services. Whilst most wedding photographers price their packages around $4000, Jordan’s most expensive package is under $2000. I am curious about this and ask Jordan just how and why she does it so cheap. “I do it because I love it. I don’t do it to become rich. I use the money to pay for my equipment.” Jordan’s photos are of an amazing quality but she can’t justify asking people to spend an obscene amount on photos for their special day and believes that there are better things they could be spending their money on. I can’t help but agree with her.

One of the reasons why Jordan is not fussed with making a huge profit from her photography is because she has another job- one that she worked very hard to achieve. Jordan has a degree in Medical Radiation Science and works at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital in Radio Oncology. She works down in Sydney 4 days a week so between that and her photography, her schedule is usually full.

Still, Jordan finds time to volunteer for children’s cancer charity Camp Quality, something she has held close to her heart for the last 5 years. “Working in oncology, I get to see up close what adults as well as kids go through when they are diagnosed with cancer. It’s hard enough being an adult, let alone being a child and being 2 or 7 with cancer,” she tells me and I can hear the passion in her voice. Camp Quality does amazing work to help children who are suffering from cancer, but they also help their families as well. I find out from Jordan that siblings of those battling cancer have a 200% increased risk of becoming depressed. “We have family camps where the whole family can come along.” Through Camp Quality, Jordan travels around Australia and visits different schools with a puppet show that helps educate kids about cancer and what to do if one of their class mates has cancer. “It’s very rewarding”.

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Photo: JPannowitz Photgraphy


Although Jordan is busy with her radio oncology work and Camp Quality, she wouldn’t change her work for anything, and that includes her photography. “It’s a great way to balance out of my life and to see people crying happy tears instead of sad tears is what I really like”. Jordan’s photography is all about her clients, so naturally, seeing her clients reactions to her images is a reminder to Jordan about why she does what she does. “It’s nice when they see their family all together in the one photo”. Jordan tells me how even in this day and age with camera phones being so popular, it’s actually really rare to get a whole family together in the one photo. “They may have a huge family that they don’t often get together but they do for the photo and so when everyone is together it’s quite emotional and just, to see that on their faces, I really love that”. And weddings are an excellent occasion to bring everyone together for photos which is probably why Jordan loves covering weddings so much.

One of the weddings that Jordan has covered, and possibly one of her most memorable one, was a cultural experience which is why it stood out so much. It was a Fijian/New Zealand wedding and was completely different to anything Jordan had shot before. Of course there were cultural dances, both Fijian and New Zealand and the groom and his groomsmen performed a choreographed routine to Bruno Mars. Jordan tells me that as per tradition, all the male guests danced around the bride and put money down her dress. “It was just amazing. I’d never been to anything like that before”. Jordan had previously done a Scottish wedding where the father of the bride wore a kilt, but never had she done a wedding that was completely culturally influenced. In fact, this wedding made Jordan feel like she was in Fiji herself. There were prayers in a different language and the dances were performed by family members of all ages from little kids to grandfathers. “It made me want to get up there and dance with them”.

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Photo: JPannowitz Photography

Jordan Pannowitz may have only just begun her photography career but she is already very popular and I have no doubt that, with amazing images like hers, her career will only continue to grow. Her generosity with Camp Quality really shines through and sums up her personality. And her work in Radio Oncology shows that there are things other than photography that interests Jordan.

As our phone call wraps up, it becomes clear to me that Jordan is a very caring person. And that is probably the best quality to have.