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May 31, 2015


On Saturday I decided to check out the beaches at Yamba, which is a small town about an hour away from Grafton, as I'd heard it was nice there. It was more a case of wanting to go somewhere, rather than actually wanting to go to Yamba itself.

On the way, I stopped for breakfast at Botero at Maclean, which is famous for its coffee. To be honest, my tastebuds aren't refined enough to be able to tell what good coffee is, but it was nice.

Yamba is then about 20 minutes down the road. If your town has a lighthouse, I will find it!

I spotted a beach from the hill and wandered down.

I saw people walking on the breakwall and I wanted in as well.

The lighthouse, where I'd walked from, in the distance.

On the way back I stopped at Maclean lookout, which I'd forgotten to check out in the morning.

Driving through those rolling green fields and hills is actually quite nice.

I feel like I've done too many seaside picture posts in the last two months. This is my last week here, I'm driving back to Sydney on Friday, definitely looking forward to getting home!

May 28, 2015

Young adult reads

I have been on a serious YA kick lately! I hadn’t read much YA for a while, I’d forgotten how entertaining it is – plus they usually come in a series so I can devour them in binge-reads. Here are the ones I’ve worked through over the last couple of months.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. This series is a sci-fi retelling of several fairytales, involving cyborgs, robots and spaceships. The world that Meyer has built is amazing, and I love the diversity of the characters. The first book, Cinder, is set in New Beijing, and I couldn’t put it down (even the romance, a prerequisite for YA fiction apparently, didn’t annoy me). Scarlet, which follows, was a bit disappointing (the romance did annoy me), and Cress after that was an improvement. The series is currently three books and a prequel novella, with more to come, which I will be watching for.

The Diviners by Libba Bray. The first and currently only book in the proposed series. This one goes back in time to 1920s New York City, and is mystery-catch-the-killer-supernatural-powers themed. To be honest, I didn’t care much for the characters, and I didn’t find the plot that intriguing, but I really loved the setting of it. The city almost feels like another character, glitzy and fun but also ominous, and a really good backdrop to the occasionally creepy events of the story.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Standing at three books right now, also with more to come. All three kind of blend in my head, so I’ll talk about them together. These books are about a girl named Blue, her family of psychics, and a bunch of boys she meets who are on a holy-grail type mission, with a bit of what is apparently going to be ill-fated love. I’m not sure how I feel about this series. It might be the writing (the style I’m not 100% a fan of but it works), but it has a different kind of feel to other YA books. It’s definitely atmospheric. I found the characterisation a bit odd at times but still ended up liking them and caring about them. But the finer details of the plot confuse me a little bit, especially when the story weaves in and out of reality and more magical and whimsical elements. Anyhow, I want to know what happens so I’ll be waiting on the next book too!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (plus novella) by Laini Taylor. I got drawn in by the blurb which describes the initial setting as Prague, and I love Prague and hadn’t read any books set there. This series is really well written. Taylor has a way with words, her writing is fancy yet unpretentious. The story is set in our present world, but also involves a parallel world featuring angels and chimaera. The backstory and mythology is amazingly detailed. Karou, the main character who has blue hair that grows out that colour, becomes entangled in both worlds. As with a lot of YA series, the romance is overly sappy and ends up taking over a lot of the plot towards the end. I feel like the last book was a little over-ambitious to its detriment, but overall this is a really good trilogy!

Any YA fiends out there who can give me some recommendations?

May 24, 2015

Byron Bay

I took an undeserved study break to make the drive up to Byron Bay. It's a small beach town on the north coast of NSW, popular with tourists and drunken teenagers post-exams. I only went up for a day, but it has a similar atmosphere to Queenstown NZ in that it attracts a younger crowd, but swapping out the snowboards for surfboards. It also reminds me a bit of Venice Beach in LA with the hippie culture, but with a smaller town feel.

My first stop was doing a walk through the Cape Byron State Conservation park, part of which is a coastal walk and has really nice views.

The weather was slightly dodgy, half sunshine half rain, but I reckon clouds like this make for better pictures. They turn out nicer than a flat cyan sky.

Very Romantic sort of lighting. Byron Bay was actually named after Lord Byron's grandfather, but a bunch of streets are named after other poets, like Keats and Tennyson.

One of the lookouts in the Park is the most easterly point of mainland Australia (as shown by the E).

That's where the most easterly lighthouse in Australia is.

The beach on the other side of the cape. Look at those waves!

The walk is a loop track, so instead of doubling back I continued on. The rest of it goes through this forested area, though, and was pretty much devoid of people - I started thinking about how if I fell and broke my leg no one would find me, I could get stabbed and mugged and no one would hear my screams, I hadn't told anyone I was coming to this exact spot- oh wait, there's the road again.

I went to the main street to find some lunch.

Had a pastrami sandwich and indulged in a lemonade at The Eatery. It was really nice, but I may have been biased by how hungry the walk had made me.

Afterwards I went to the main beach, at the end of the main street.

Just chilled out watching people chill out for a while.

It would be cool to come back here in the summer, when it's warm enough to swim, with a bunch of friends. The nightlife would probably be fun as well. But alas, I was alone and feeling antisocial and had a two-hour drive back to make, so I left in the early afternoon.

May 20, 2015

Stars + stripes

On the weekend I visited the Grafton Regional Art Gallery, which is the major gallery of the NSW North Coast. It is still quite a small gallery, and it didn't take very long to look at everything. One of the exhibitions they have one right now is Stars + Stripes, featuring contemporary American art, which I liked.

The gallery is in an old house, built around this courtyard.

I wouldn't come out of the way for this place, but if you happen to be passing through, it's worth a look!

May 17, 2015

A blue room

Ha, so much for renewed inspiration while I'm on my rural term! The only thing I've been inspired to do here is sleep. The hours have been pretty long and at the end of the day I can barely cook dinner, eat it, and shower. Since I've been spending most of my spare time in my room at the hospital accommodation, here are some selective snaps (I'm sure you don't want to see my bag of dirty laundry). As you can see, it is a very blue room.

The bedside table. I loaded up my Kindle before I came, but brought some extra books just in case.

My blanket from home was a last minute addition into the car before I left, but I glad I brought it because hospital linen sucks.

My sparse wardrobe (to be honest, even a button-down feels like too much fuss these days).

Where the magic (?) happens.

The important stuff.

Saddle shoes I got for my birthday (thank you friends) that I've been wearing inside to break in.

I actually made a sign to remind myself to grab my keys whenever I leave my room, because the doors auto-lock, and I managed to lock myself out on the second day.

It's been interesting this past week - I've never actually lived alone before (I live with my family back in Sydney). I mean I've travelled, but that's not quite the same. I have been learning a lot about cooking regularly for myself (frozen vegetables have become my new best friend).

I didn't do much this weekend (apart from visit a gallery) because I wanted to get on top of my reading (the consultants have roasted me to a crisp) but I promise I will have something fun to write about next week.

May 9, 2015

Countryside bound

I haven't been in a blogging sort of mood this week! I'm feel a bit unmotivated, probably because I haven't got anything to really post about - I'm trying to cut down shopping and going/eating out to save money (besides, I really should be studying). I've been feeling content with the routine though - come home, have dinner, study in bed with a cup of coffee, read a bit, sleep.

I guess a change of scenery might help get things going and - how convenient - I'm off to do my month-long rural surgery term tomorrow in a small town up in northern NSW, a 7 hour-or-so drive from Sydney. I'm looking forward to doing some national park exploring, and maybe a weekend trip to Byron Bay if I can muster the energy.

Here is a last bit of Sydney as a round-up before I leave (my friends say I make it sound like I'm leaving forever).

The city at dusk.

Dollar dog night at the Soda Factory on my birthday a few weeks ago.

My favourite place in Sydney.

My favourite pan-fried pork buns at Taste of Shanghai.

Tacos, quesadillas and margaritas last night at Los Vida, a Mexican restaurant I didn't realised existed at the top of Westfield Sydney.

"Jane, are you taking a photo of the moon? You realise you're going to be able to see the moon there as well, right?"

I'm sad that I'll be missing most of Vivid (making it back just in time for the last weekend though!), Eurovision fun (as Australia is in it this year I wanted to watch it live with friends), a Matildas match I wanted to go to, and the opening of Muji (which I strongly suspect will still be there when I get back). Anyway, as I'm taking my laptop and camera and everything, look forward to seeing my country bumpkin life updates!