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

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

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.

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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.


Sami’s Crazy Love album launch

Young singer/songwriter Sami, who has recently moved to Newcastle, has just announced the title of her new album. The album is called Crazy Love and is sure to follow in the footsteps of her debut album Every Passing Minute.

To celebrate the release of her new album, Sami is hosting a launch party on the 7th April at The Small Ballroom is Newcastle from 7pm. “I am so excited about the new album,” Sami says. Along with Sami, the launch will also feature music from Georgina Grimshaw, with more artists to be named over the coming weeks. Sami will perform with her 6 piece backing band, giving fans a taste of her new album. Sami estimates that 150 fans will be at the album launch.

Crazy Love will feature songs about love (of course), life and summer. As Sami told me in our previous interview, each track was co-written by her so this album is sure to be very personal. Sami also got to work with some top song writers including Steve Deal, Dane Baldwin and Troy Kemp.sami crazy love album launch.jpg

As Sami prepares for her massive album launch, she will continue to perform gigs regularly around the Newcastle and Hunter Valley areas. This weekend is her 22nd birthday so she is celebrating in style. On Friday the 9th February, join Sami for her birthday bash at the Commercial Hotel in Boolaroo from 6:30pm-9:30pm. Entry is free but Sami only asks that you wear something silly and enjoy yourselves. Then on Saturday 10th February, she will be performing at the Neath Hotel from 8pm-11:30pm. Again entry to this event is free. To top of her birthday weekend, Sami will be performing at the Lakeside Tavern in Forster between 2:30pm and 5:30pm. You guessed it, entry is free.

Since our last interview, Sami has acquired a job working for the Hit Squad on Newcastle’s Hit 106.9, another thing that she is very excited about.

So while Sami keeps busy with her music and writing career, be sure to check out her gigs when you can. You don’t want to miss her album launch. It’s going to be huge.  Tickets for this event are $10 each. To buy tickets, head to the store on Sami’s website: http://www.samicooke.com.au


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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down is a strange title indeed, but for author John Green that’s nothing unusual. Like his 6 titles before it, there is a subliminal meaning behind the title, but I will get to that later.

Following a five-year hiatus, since the release of smash The Fault in Our Stars, Green released Turtles All the Way Down in October 2017. To say it was much anticipated would be an underestimation. In fact, Green had begun to create hype for the book in December 2016 by reading an excerpt during a live stream. He also posted cryptic clues in his ‘vlogbrothers’ videos. It wasn’t long before fans began to piece the clues together and thus, Turtles All the Way Down was anticipated.

To give you a brief run-down of the plot without spoiling too much, all I can say is: read this book with your mind open to mental illness. The story follows Aza Holmes, a 16 year-old school student in Indianapolis. Aza suffers from severe anxiety and believes that she suffers from an infection, Clostridium difficile (C-diff for short) as a result of a callused finger which hasn’t quite healed properly. Her best friend Daisy is a Star Wars fanfiction author and follows Aza on a hunt for a fugitive billionaire. Along the way, Aza finds herself getting closer to the fugitive’s son, Davis, than she anticipated. She also goes on a psychological journey to help find herself. As in all John Green novels, there are unexpected occurrences but, for the most part, a very witty and entertaining storyline.

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Photo: Goodreads

John Green has always had a way of drawing the audience in, and this book is no exception. After reading the first few pages I wanted to know: who is Aza Holmes? What is going through her mind to make her so obsessed with C-diff? What will John Green write next? Indeed, it really is captivating.

Now most of you are probably under the impression that John Green only writes for teenagers so therefore his books can only be read by teenagers, right? Wrong! This book takes on a new maturity that even adults can either relate to or learn from. Like other Green book, there’s a strong theme throughout the whole book, from more than just one character- mental illness.

Mental illness is something that affects almost everybody in some way, whether it be yourself or a loved one, so I really like that John Green has taken such an important issue and has woven it throughout this story- with great talent might I add. John Green writes from experience though, having suffered from a mental illness himself from a young age. John Green told TIME “I still can’t really talk directly about my own obsessions. The word triggering has become so broadly used in popular culture, but anyone who has experienced an anxiety attack knows how badly they want to avoid it”. This comes across in the story as Aza goes through a journey of wanting to avoid her obsession with C-diff and avoid opening her callus that has ‘caused her C-diff’. She also craves the ability to avoid this anxiety when it comes to her relationship with Davis because every time she goes to kiss him, all she can think about is the eighty million microbes being exchanged in that kiss.  I really think that John Green is almost using Aza to tell his experience with mental illness. No matter how attached or detached he might be from the main character’s specific mental illness, it is written about with knowledge and passion- to, in a way, educate the readers.

John Green has once again created a thoroughly entertaining novel that takes the reader on a journey with the characters, which is something I really admire in novels. I found myself feeling the same emotions that Aza did, whilst also feeling empathetic towards her. I found myself taking this journey with the protagonist as she discovered not only who she is, but how much friendship means. After a short falling out with Daisy over her fanfiction and, upon reading Daisy’s apology to Aza in her fan fiction, Aza realises that friendship is one of the true things in life and something that helps her get through the day.

The title of the book is obscure yes, but upon conclusion, it becomes clear what John Green is trying to portray throughout this whole book. It’s really an anecdote depicting the issues of infinite regression. The title Turtles All the Way Down comes from a story, which Green heard at college and it stuck with him. He told TIME “The point of the (original) story is that the scientist is right but the old woman saying that the world resets on a turtles all the way down situation, she’s also right”. What John Green is suggesting is that the world is the stories that we tell about it, which matter. “They shape the actual world and they shape our actual lives,” Green continues to tell TIME. I find this particularly relevant in the case of Aza because although her illness continues to regress, her life can reset. Her story is important and shapes who she is as a person and also shapes her relationships. I think that is a super powerful message.

Over all, John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down is an enjoyable read and is also a lot of fun. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Green’s other books or doesn’t mind a bit of witty teen fiction. With news of the book being adapted in the film, John Green has definitely produced yet another hit novel and a must-read.


Exciting things ahead

2018 is not just a brand new year, it’s a brand new opportunity for me and this blog.

Now I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say I was more than happy to kiss 2017 goodbye. I’m not meaning to sound cliche, but it really was the worst year of my life thus far.

So 2018 has come around and there are some exciting things happening for me. Aside from getting married in August, I have some big articles coming up that I can’t wait to share with you all. I’ve made this blog my priority this year so I’m definitely going to pour my heart and soul into bringing you some interesting articles.

Just over a week into the new year and I have 5 interviews set up. Sami Cooke from Young, now residing in Newcastle, will be one of my first stories for the year. Sami boasts an amazing talent and has some big things happening with her music career this year.

Kate Hindle, another musician who  resides in Western Australia, has overcome some pretty big things lately and will be releasing her new album later this month. I will be interviewing her to find out more about that.

16 year-old singer/songwriter Lili Crane has an amazing talent for someone so young. I will be chatting with her to talk about her current music career.

This one is for the older readers. You probably all know him as ‘King Brian’ from the Retravision commercials, but lately Brian McCombe has made a name for himself as one of the most photographed people on Facebook. Just how does he manage all these selfies with people? I’ll find out when I interview him.

Finally, Alex Shepherd A.K.A Asylem is an up and coming rapper from Newcastle. The 18 year-old will be releasing an EP at some stage this year and will feature in one of my articles this year.

I will also be following and updating news from Georgina Grimshaw and Kendall King.

I really can’t wait to share these articles with you.

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Wedding Tips for a budget conscious bride

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, maybe even expecting. He’s finally popped the question. You tell all your family and friends, post it on social media. But then the reality settles in- you have a wedding to plan. If you’re a budget conscious bride like I am, then just thinking about the cost of your wedding could be enough to give you cold feet. But weddings don’t have to be expensive. Now I’m no expert, but hopefully these tips that I’m about to offer you, will help you save on your big day.

The average Australian wedding costs around $40 000, which for somebody like me seems too much to spend on one day. In fact, I am doing my wedding for just a quarter of that and not skimping on anything. Yes, I still have the dress of my dreams, a photographer and videographer, lovely flowers and cake and a venue by the water. You just have to be clever and shop around.

The first thing my fiancé and I did as an engaged couple was sit down and decide on a budget. We looked at how much each of us is earning and how much we could put away each week without breaking the bank. This is how we came up with our budget of $12 000, plus we’d still have money left over for our dream honeymoon to New Zealand.

With our budget in focus, we began to look at venues that would suit our budget. I really didn’t see much point in even considering venues that we knew would be way out of our price range. That way we couldn’t fall in love with a place where we would have to live off 2-minute noodles for 18 months in order to afford it. We’ve chosen a beautiful place by the water in Newcastle where, for just over $100 per head, it includes canapes and 3 courses; beer, wine and soft drink; table centrepiece and chair ribbons plus more. And because we knew we would only be having a small wedding, we looked for places that specifically had a low minimum number.

Through my research, I found that most places can be quite a bit cheaper if you have your wedding during Winter or through the week, so also consider this as an option if you are looking to save money. Most venues will also give you a discount if you wanted cake as dessert.

Once we worked out the total budget for our wedding, we were then able to put on a budget on all the different elements. So for my dress, the limit was $2000. I think it’s important to know your limit when it comes to dresses and only try dresses on within that budget. The last thing you need is to fall in love with a dress that you can’t afford. Thankfully I found the dress of my dreams for only $700!

In terms of photography, it can be one of the most expensive things on the day. In fact, most photography companies charge in excess of $2500 just to capture your big day. For some people, they wouldn’t mind paying this much for photography but for couples like my fiancé and I, we just can’t justify spending that much. So we shopped around and asked friends and family for recommendations. We have found a photographer who takes amazing pictures and doesn’t actually earn anything from doing so. As a couple, we make a donation to the charity of her choice and she then photographs our day. For us, this was an easy decision because helping charity is the ultimate gift.

The same went for videography, we could not justify spending $3000 on someone to video our big day. Again, we have shopped around and found a lovely couple to video our big day for a fraction of the cost of what most people pay. We get 2 videographers for 14 hours who follow us from preparation until our first dance. We also get a 2 hour feature length film of our wedding day completely edited. This is only costing us $1800, nearly half of the average video company charges, Again, every couple is different and may wish to spend more money on videography than other things.

One can also save money by DIYing. We are making all our stationary (invitations, place settings and cards), saving hundreds by doing so. We are also using the help of family and friends to help us save money. My dad is making the wishing well, saving us a couple of hundred dollars.  Our MC is a family member and our wedding performer is a friend. Our cake is being made through a friend and is costing less than $200 and because I know a florist, I am getting the bouquets made way cheaper. I also know the Hair and Make-up artist so am getting a great deal on these also. Use your friends and family’s talents to your advantage, then you are saving money and can spend more money elsewhere. Trust me, friends and family will actually feel privileged that they can help you out on your wedding day when there are so many other vendors out there you can use.

Now, I don’t need to go through all the elements of planning with you, but what I will say is that every decision you make needs to be one that both of you are happy with. Remember to shop around and do your research- attend wedding expo’s, join social media groups, negotiate prices etc. Above all do what you want. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone by feeling obligated to invite all of your cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, your mum’s best friends friend etc. We are only having parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and our closest friends because we want a wedding of about 50 people. We haven’t let anybody influence that decision. Your day is about you as a couple, and you need to be happy with what you have planned together.

So when you’re planning your wedding with a budget in mind, remember to research, shop around, negotiate, do some things yourself and utilise the talents of family and friends.

Featured Image: KLK Photography



The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara


Forget the Sugar Plum Fairy and everything else you ever thought about ‘The Nutcracker’, for this production is about Clara and the life she leads, weaving in both the history of ballet and its revolution in Australia, and history itself.

It has been 25 years since Graeme Murphy conceived this extraordinary production of the classic ballet. Murphy, who has danced with the Australian Ballet and was the artistic director of Sydney Dance Company for over 30 years, has become known to take classical ballets and delve into their deeper stories.

“When you take something that’s inherently fanciful and weave some truths into it, that for me works. And if you can find a context dancers can relate to they will invest so much more,” Murphy says of his work.

Since this work, Murphy has reinterpreted ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Firebird’, to name just a few, for The Australian Ballet, cementing his place as one of this country’s most creative and cotemporary choreographers.

‘The Nutcracker-The Story of Clara’ follows the back story of the protagonist. The ballet opens on Christmas Eve in the 1950s somewhere in Melbourne. Children are playing and Clara, a former Russian Ballerina, returns home from shopping. As she turns on the radio, the sweet sounds of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’ fills the small room as nostalgia hits Clara.

Clara’s Russian friends visit her and they share a few drinks and dances together. Clara’s doctor arrives with footage of Clara’s performing years with the Russian Imperial Ballet. Her body weakening, the guests leaves and Clara is ordered to rest. And so her hallucinations begin.

Through Clara’s hallucinations we discover that as a child she strived for perfection in ballet classes which lands her an acceptance into the Imperial Ballet. We also learn of her love affair with a Russian soldier, who upon the Russian Revolution breaking out in 1917, is killed.

What is most significant is how Clara’s performances weave in the traditional story of ‘The Nutcracker’ and the history of ballet in Australia. As a prima ballerina, Clara performs the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy for the Tsar and Tsarina. When her beloved dies, dancing becomes her only companion whereby she joins the Ballet Russes. She spends years touring the globe with the Ballet Russes, arriving in Australia in 1940. Due to the second World War, she is forced to stay in Australia, taking her last curtsey at war’s end.

‘The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara’ offers an intriguing 2 hour performance for the audience as the story unfolds in different ways. For starters, this ballet opens with characters speaking dialogue rather than dancing it, which is almost non-existent in ballets. In fact, the dancing doesn’t actually begin until nearly 5 minutes into the performance and even then it isn’t your traditional classical ballet. A lot of the choreography we see from the elder Clara and her friends is influenced by styles other than ballet: folk, contemporary and character. As the performance progresses, we begin to see more of the classical ballet through Clara’s performances as a ballerina. Act 2 showcases Tai Chi and Contemporary dance as a homage to the original Chinese and Arabian dances in the classic Nutcracker. Clara’s final performance in the ballet mimics the choreography of the Ballet Russes production of ‘The Nutcracker’ truly tying her story into the original. Murphy’s choreography is unique, thoughtful and executed well by the performers.

There are three Clara’s in this production- Clara the Elder, Clara the Ballerina and Clara the Child; all of which play a vital role in the story.

Clara the Elder was performed by Ai-Gul Gaisina, a Russian Ballerina and former Australian Ballet dancer. Gaisina captures the essence of Clara the Elder perfectly, with her theatrics and dance talent conveying the role as the storyteller to perfection.

Principal artist Leanne Stojmenov shines in her role as Clara The Ballerina. Her talent is alluring, her stage presence felt by the audience. The expressiveness in her movement tells of the beautiful and sad life that Clara lead. She possesses a particular grace that makes her dancing truly mesmerising. Stojmenov is partnered perfectly with Kevin Jackson who fulfils the role of the Doctor and Beloved Officer. Jackson’s strength and skill shines in his performance.

Clara the Child was performed by Emma Gavan, a guest artist of the Australian Ballet. Other guest artists included founding Australian Ballet performer Colin Peasley, Graeme Hudson and Audrey Nicholls who dance the roles of Clara’s Russian friends.

‘The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara’ is a fantastic and unique production that cements The Australian Ballet as a diverse company that represents Australia and its history. Through choreographic storytelling, Murphy has created a ballet masterpiece that strongly lives on 25 years later.

2016 Olympic Games begin in Rio

It’s a major worldwide sporting event that happens every four years. Over 11000 athletes representing over 200 countries participate in the Summer Olympics.

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are the 31st Olympiad in the modern era and they are certainly the games for firsts. These are the first games to be hosted in a South American country, with the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil being the city of choice. This will also be the first Olympic Games to feature a Refugee team. The Olympic Refugee Team sees 10 athletes competing who have fled countries such as Syria, Ethiopia and The Democratic Republic of Congo in three sports- swimming, athletics and Judo. We will also see South Sudan and Kosovo debut as delegations.

From the beginning of the opening ceremony, it was clear that this will be an Olympic Games like no other. They will be all about celebrating culture, equality and inequality amongst all the nations competing and the opening ceremony definitely was like no other. It may have been the spectacle that London and Sydney were, but it was definitely amazing in its own merit.

In typical Olympic fashion, fireworks ignited the Maracana Stadium, indicating the beginning of the ceremony. Brazilian singer Paulinho da Viola sang the Brazilian national anthem. From there, the ceremony was filled with culture and history featuring the good, the bad and the ugly moments for the host nation. Spectacular laser lights and dances were used to highlight some key moments in history- From the birth of life represented by stick-figured animals; to the natives frolicking in the forest; through to the arrival of the Portuguese and the invasion of the Europeans; the African Slaves brought to Brazil by force. There was an acrobatic and dance spectacular depicting the move to an urban rooftop scene which led into the building of an aeroplane. In Brazil’s history, they flew the first plane which they recreated during the ceremony. Although unpolished in some areas, the entertainment provided was engaging, educational and just a taste of what these Olympic Games will bring.

Following the spectaculars of the dancing and lights and the replica plane flying above the stadium, Supermodel Gisele Bundchen closed the entertainment component of the ceremony, taking her final catwalk to the song “Girl From Impanema”. Then, in true Olympic tradition, Greece began the march of the athletes.

The march of the athletes, although long and tedious, depicts exactly what the Olympic spirit is all about- representing your country. There are 207 delegations represented in total at this year’s Olympics. Each nation that marched, no matter how large or small were excited, happy and proud to be in that stadium. Brazil were the final team to march, resulting in a roar of cheers and emotions from the nearly 80,000 strong crowd.

From lone competitor Etimoni Timuani, the only athlete from Tuvalu, to one of the largest teams Australia, it certainly brings joy to every athlete to be in that position. And it makes a nation proud to see their representatives marching with their flags. Australians were left beaming after watching Anna Meares carry our flag followed by some 400 plus competitors wearing our national Green and Gold. And it brings a smile to my face to watch the other countries, no matter how many competitors they have, march out. Each country was given a different plant seed, as part of Brazil’s plan to combat deforestation, with each athlete planting that seed at the end of their country’s march. Brazil is sending a message loud and clear this Olympic games- the Earth matters and they will do all they can to help preserve it.Anna Mears.jpgSource: Getty Images

Following the march and the formalities, the Olympic flag was raised and a brief celebration of the party culture of Brazil was had. Finally, the cauldron was officially lit, in spectacular style. Although simple, the final effect of the lit cauldron was mesmerizing. Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, a marathon athlete, was the man for the job.

After travelling through more than 25 places in Brazil, the Olympic torch was carried into the stadium by Gustavo Kuerten, a Brazilian tennis player. Kuerten passed the flame onto Women’s Basketballer Hortencia Marcari. Hortencia then passed the flame to de Lima who carried the torch up a flight of stairs before igniting a flower-esque pot. The pot ascended into a hybrid cauldron, with the flame backdropped by a sculpture created by Anthony Howe. The rotating sculpture was lit to represent the sun, and looked truly amazing. Another mini-cauldron will be lit in the centre of Rio, as the Maracana stadium will only be used for soccer semi-finals and finals.

  Source: Getty Images

The lighting of the cauldron and fireworks closed out the show, but only marked the beginning of the next two exciting weeks in sport.