Is love worth it?

This morning I woke up to read the papers and saw this article headline ‘Forget romance, there’s only one relationship in life that counts’, the one with yourself. It is an opinion piece written by Wendy Squires. It begs the question, is love worth it?

Garden of Love Chateau de Villandry

When you love, you can get hurt, really hurt. The romantic imagining of love can disappear. You know the one, love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…and instead of enduring romanticism, you are in unrivalled turmoil. Something like this…

The break up and the days after…
It was insanely painful in the beginning, like when you have badly stubbed your toe and you are in agony and you want the torment to stop. So, you give in to it, that pain in your toe, you make it part of you. You calm yourself down, settle your heart rate and then this gut wrenching anguish; it begins to subside. Instead of your heart feeling impenetrably tight and like it could explode because you are suffering so much; it settles into feeling heavy, each breath giving rise to a more sustainable squeeze and release. You can still feel the pain, a little less so with each step and then it becomes manageable. Everything is precarious. You are so scared the toe will go numb. You don’t want it to go numb. You want to feel. But the pain is wearing you down. You are tired, so tired. You need to let go.

It’s awful. We don’t want to go through that many times in our life. Yet most of us will go through it at least once. Is love worth it? Squires article goes on to discuss a ‘golden couple’ and states it was ‘glorious to be in their orbit’. She seems genuinely happy for them. At some point in time the ‘golden couple’ whom she states were a ‘romantic illusion’ fall back to earth and it is brutal, one of the ugliest break-ups she has seen. And that is life. Life is unpredictable and scary. There is no certainty about romance and relationships and love. There are no rules. Love means something different to each of us. We do not know what will happen tomorrow. There are infinite possibilities for passion and pain.

Squires then states that “I saw that no honest couple had what I’d assumed they had: the perfect relationship, the easy love, the lucky life.” But at some point in time they all had something, and a number of them would have had everything. And an even smaller number yet; get to have everything forever. Their love continuing into eternity, for not even death can sever their bond.

Is love worth it? I say yes. Of course, our relationship with ourselves is extremely important. We need to be kind and nurturing towards ourselves. And sometimes we need to push ourselves beyond fear, and into a reality that may be wonderous.

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Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney

A literary retelling of my visit to Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney

Nicole Cullinan

It’s a well worn path, the muse, the artist, the sex, the love, the destruction…The embodiment of a creative existence. A story that continues to captivate us throughout time. Why do we never tire of it? It is desire that holds us all entranced in this doomed narrative.

 As I wander from room to room in Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney my mind is roaming freely. There are quotes on the walls, there is paint everywhere and ‘The Alchemy’ resides here. That is one of his more famous works painted in 1972. It is autobiographical, which is easy to see and understand when one is standing before it. It is like a surreal cacophony of all that was important to him. I remember ‘The Alchemy’ but my imagination is with the bathroom series. My all-time favourite.

The bathroom series was painted in London in 1962, the same year he got married. The subject for this series; his wife Wendy, who remained a muse for him throughout his life. The series to be his first major exploration into figurative art, it was inspired by French painter Bonnard and his bath painting. The bathroom series is seductive, sensual and intimate.

London Studio Apartment 1962- A reimagining by Nicole Cullinan
I can hear the water pouring into the bath, a whoosh and a splash for the first few minutes, then it settles to a gentle flowing rhythm, water on water. It takes about 15 minutes to fill a bath. The air is very cold, and the bath is way too hot. I didn’t time my undressing well and now I am cold which makes it even harder to ease into the water. You need at least a hand width of water to get in. I take the plunge and feel hot and cold simultaneously. It’s a very strange sensation. My bottom, calves and feet are pink and searing, knees pulled up to my chest; minimising the surface area burn. I accept it has to be a freezing back bath, just for a few minutes. I lean back into the cool porcelain of the bath, relief. More time passes, all temperatures reach equilibrium and I start to relax.
The air is warm and thick with condensation, the door is shut. This tiny bathroom has a dreamscape quality. A gentle mist hangs in the air and softens everything. There is no imperfection, or if it existed it can no longer be seen. There are no broken tiles, or chips in the bath, the light is luminescent. My lazy gaze wandering, the arch of my foot, slim ankles, the length of my calf. My voluptuous hips, little waist and ripe breasts. My head is lolling gently on the ledge of the bath and I’m about to descend into a state of lapsed consciousness. I drop my novel over the edge of the bath, I don’t want to lose another one. Moments later I slide into oblivion.
I smell him before I hear him. It’s a woody, musky, earthy scent. A gentle awakening. He’s sitting on the edge of the bath looking at me. I smile. He looks content. He has a polaroid camera in one hand and a spliff in the other. I like him this way. We stay like this for what seems like an eternity. He’s talking and I’m listening, passing the spliff from one to the other. I top up the bath with some more hot water and invite him in. He doesn’t want to join me. He gestures to the polaroid. I’m not sure. He lights up another and we talk some more. I’m making the spliff all wet with my fingers, it is falling apart. He slides further along the edge of the bath, so I don’t need to touch the spliff. He turns it back in towards his hand and it looks like a little lantern, I take a long drag. I’m feeling quite relaxed now. My eyes are closed, my head is tilted, like it would take too much effort to hold it upright. I hear the crackle of the film packet being opened. I focus on the smell. It has a strong, sweet chemical smell. I am still, I am so very still…

At the time Whiteley painted the bathroom series he was concerned that being married would curb his freedom from a creative and wholistic point of view. The balance between security and freedom being something that most married people must contemplate over the course of an enduring relationship. In the end I think we all desire love. Theirs was a love story that had all the elements of a grand tragedy, like they were falling over happy in pain.

There is something for everyone in Brett Whiteley’s work. The integrity of the early works with their connectedness to nature. The bathroom series and its eroticism, or something more abstract and surreal. I can appreciate all the work, the unifying element being his truth at that moment in time. Brett Whitely Studio Sydney exhibits a broad variety of his work and is an engaging place to while away some time. (Brett Whiteley 7 April 1939-15 June 1992)

Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney, 2 Raper Street, Surry Hills, Sydney. Opening Hours- Friday-Sunday 10am-4pm. Free admission is made possible by J.P.Morgan

For more detailed information here is a link

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Rose Seidler House Sydney

Designed by modernist architect Harry Seidler

Up a narrow set of carpeted stairs, the voice is loud, it is too loud. Entering the open plan living space, it is drenched in light, it all seems too obvious. The voice comes over to invite me into a tour, I am overwhelmed, there are people everywhere. I politely decline and go back down the stairs and outside to start again. I turn and walk up the steep driveway so I can reorient myself with Rose Seidler House Sydney

There is a strong dissimilarity between the environment and the house, this makes it easy to focus. A salient presence as it rises from the earth with stone then transitions to man-made materials. The juxtaposition of all the straight lines of the building with the gnarly branches of the trees, exquisite.

Harry Seidler designed this house for his mother Rose, she lived in it with his father Max for more than twenty years from the date of completion in 1950. It is an excellent example of the Modernist/Bauhaus movement.  The balance between function and form, lack of ornamentation and no corridors; hallmarks for a new era in design. The tension between the house and the environment very alluring.

I think it was the perfect house for the uncomplicated Australian of this time. Australia was at the beginning of a massive period of European immigration that would shape our tastes and culture over the coming decades. It is no wonder that Australians and specifically Sydneysiders lauded this house, it is highly attractive, with a timeless quality.

An incredible amount of natural light flowing in, everything is illuminated, divine views from every window. The fire with its large stone hearth; it sits flush to the floor; there is enough room for a body, or two. A glimpse of the ephemeral. My senses searching for fleeting beauty in spaces. I don’t always find it, sometimes it finds me.

The inviting Euro Saarinen Womb chair overlooking the valley, the northern orientation. This would be a wonderful winter house. I can easily picture Rose in her kitchen, so much thought to function and form being placed in this space. Rose to be one of the first housewives in Australia to have a dishwasher. The moderation shown, something that must have required discipline for a project with few pecuniary constraints.

It’s difficult to fully appreciate any house when it is not being lived in, the melancholy that sits silently beside greatness. This is especially true of this house as it has become an expectation filled example of what things should be. Rose Seidler house Sydney was well worth the visit. An overt expression of the love between mother (and father) and son, introducing us to the work of an influential architect.

Post Script – I am so glad I took a few minutes to allow the previous visitors to finish their tour. It is important to pay attention to your mood when you visit anything. You want to enjoy it. Your mind needs to be relaxed and open. So if you need to reset, then do it.

Address 71 Clissold Road Wahroonga NSW 2076 Open Sundays only 10am-4pm

For detailed information http://

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How to host the imperfect dinner party.

I only have one rule for how to host the imperfect dinner party.

Leave people wanting more. Actually, this is a rule for life; but when one is prone to exuberance it can be difficult to sustain.

In relation to dinner parties there are a few key ingredients that can make an evening culminate with such cadence one will be begging for more. It settles on the balance between restraint and generosity. As host of this party a little bit of pre planning can make all the difference. Let’s discover how to host the imperfect dinner party. Consider the table setting, the guest list and the type of ambience you would like at your party. Now that you know what you want; relinquish all of your previous conventions and consider the following guidelines.

The guest list. The idea you would invite lots of one type, because they would all have things in common; needs to dispensed of immediately. Because let’s face it, an entire table of accountants is never a good idea. It’s all about diversity. Consider the following.

You need lots of different personalities. They can be any mix you choose. Here are some suggestions. A political journalist; more than one and the night becomes a bore. No more than a couple of creatives; as they are too busy thinking and by the time they have something to say the moment has passed. A radio announcer, can be super funny, but they need to be separated from the political journalist. Perhaps a lawyer, good negotiators when it all gets a bit rowdy. A real estate agent. A real estate agent you say, excellent once things are going and everyone is selling their soul to the highest bidder. I do love the world and all the people in it. So, you get it, you can invite anyone. The idea is to invite all different types of people and you can dilute each other in the most delightful way over the course of an evening.

The food. Food is about labour and love. It is not about expensive kitchen appliances or science, well not at my place anyway. Food needs to be sensual and satisfying. Act like you have made an effort, even if you have not. People love to be spoilt. Themes are okay so long as you don’t take them too far. Plan for your skill level. You do not want to feel stressed during a dinner party. That may mean you need to buy food in. A dinner party should be about enjoyment, not obligation. Judge your food choices based on your guests.

So whilst a warm gooey Brie laced with honey that drips down your fingers may be perfect for your peers…who doesn’t love to lick the stickiness from the tips of one’s fingers. It may not be the best choice for that dinner with your boss.

Be restrained when required. Do not feed your guests too much. You do not want them feeling full or sleepy, converse to that you definitely don’t want them to have to stop for pizza on the way home. Be generous but measured. As a guideline I serve a set entrée and main and then serve cheese as a third course shared plate. Those that are still hungry can be satiated here.

The fragrance of fresh figs on a cheese plate in autumn. Such a lush sweet forbidden fruit. Thoughts of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, it was a fig, not an apple. Think about it…the softness, the colour, the texture, the taste.

Alcohol. It is your responsibility as host to make sure your guests make it home safely so have a plan in place before the fun begins. There is this sweet spot with alcohol. You don’t want your guests to feel shabby tomorrow but you do want them to have a good time. As a host it is lovely to receive flowers, but never with an apology note the next day. Once again you need to find equilibrium between generosity and restraint. For me, it’s that space between the unconscious mind and the ideal, where everything is wonderful. It’s something different for everyone. By now it’s time to migrate to the lounge for some dessert and relaxation.

You only need one more ingredient, an excellent storyteller; as they can get everyone in the mood. Not the guess what happened when I went to donate blood the other day genre, more the I just visited Heide Museum of Modern Art and I found it quite distracting.

“Does everyone know what actually went on there. There was this insane love story between John and Sunday that involved incredible sexual freedom. Sunday and Sidney Nolan had this ferocious affair during the time he painted the Ned Kelly series right there at that house. And all the while under John’s nose, in fact; I think he would watch them. And then every day they would sit down to afternoon tea; like proper, civilised people. Can you imagine that?”

We can all imagine that. A hall pass every day of the week. We are way more contained than that. Never would I ever…and you my deftly host have just moved the bar so far towards the imperfect. Strap yourself in; because things are about to get crazy.

Post Script Disclaimer : Adults may find themselves swimming in their underwear in the middle of the night, stealing street signs, or watching the sun come up. But they are nowhere near as naughty as John and Sunday. And that is how to host the imperfect dinner party.

A guide to good manners. Should you be left wanton after reading this

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The Intimacy of Architecture

The enigmatic union between function, form and feeling. From my earliest childhood memories of home to my love affair with the single front cottage and all those moments in between and after. Buildings that are humble and those destined for history, each of them pulling me in. The intimacy of architecture.

We live in times when the criterion for truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive. We have moved so far along a spectrum of reasoning and rational that we have forgotten what it is to feel when we are in a space. The pleasure of giving in to a moment in time with the absence of understanding. The indefinable features arising from form and function that can imbue intimacy of architecture; the emotion. They are immaterial and impossible to measure. Yet never far away and easy to evoke in memorandum.

Reflecting on times past by Nicole Cullinan

The year was 1988. It was the year I reached my majority but not the year I left my childhood behind, that didn’t happen until much later.
A violin hung in place of a light, it was dark, the room enveloped. The carpet was itchy; but we lay there together; smoking and listening to Edith Piaf, drunk on life. The walls were close, the room was square, the coals were hot, and time stood still, my languorous gaze resting upon the intricate ceiling.
This single front Victorian house belonged to artists, the parents of my friend, although they didn’t live there. Only my musician friend Enrico resided permanently; along with a transient population of wanderers and well-wishers. I don’t know what ever became of Enrico. I remember the house and the record. The first album for their band. The End. I recall the band name because it was in that house I got to name their first album, ‘The beginning of The End’. I’ve often pondered the poetic lyricism of the meaning in that. There was an ever present melody in the air that was accompanied by the musty scent of age. A lingering reminder that many had lived there before.
The house was enchanting. I loved the separation of spaces, each of them defined by my level of altered consciousness. The room for slumber, the room for bathing, the room for eating and the room of imaginings. That was the room with the fire, the possibility for that which radiates. The patterns in the pressed metal ceiling, delicate and fragile, embedded in tin, robust and strong. It was the emphasis on form that was captured in my mind. The lack of function seemed irrelevant at the time; although years later when this house was the embodiment of my dream home I made sure we had an internal bathroom.

The intimacy of that space forever etched in my memory; unable to be removed by time. The special buildings, the ones on my ‘next time’ list. The icons you have to share with everyone; each of us jostling for our moment of observation. Noticing everything although not specifically looking for something.

The joy of finding a building that inspires feeling; losing myself in the moment, not sure if I have possessed it, or it has consumed me. I relish those times; cognisant they are fleeting. That space where you just want to stay for a while. The intimacy of architecture.

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Empire Rone

A literary retelling of my visit to the art installation Empire by Rone exhibited at Burnham Beeches Mansion in the Sherbrooke Forest.

Nicole Cullinan

Seville oranges, marmalade and ocean liners. She woke up with thoughts of a promising day, a day to go on a journey. A visit to Burnham Beeches, the three story streamlined modern mansion in the Sherbrooke Forest; designed by architect Harry Norris and completed in 1933. He told the owner Alfred Nicholas that it should be reminiscent of being on a cruise. She imagined it would be just like that and pondered the words of Rone on her way to the forest. “Empire Rone is about offering audiences the chance to create their own story; to temporarily transport their minds to another place, another time.”

She entered the mansion through a thick red velvet curtain reminiscent of a magician’s cloak. She had come for Rone. A street artist who had painted a series of twelve hauntingly beautiful portraits, inspired by the muse Lily Sullivan; a local actress. His work exquisite, exploring the materiality of life through the lens of feminine vulnerability.

Arriving amid the decadence and dusty decay, wondering just who she was, the girl in the portrait. She never looks at us. She clasped her hands for assurance, tilted her chin, stared at the stippled mouldy ceiling; and then all the way down to her feet, toes nestled amongst the autumn leaves.

The enigmatic beauty enveloping her. Gazing upon the botanical arrangement with detached melancholy she dragged her hand over the earth leaving a smudge of grey on her fingers. It did not linger like earth of the wet rich forest just outside the door.

The forest is calling her, the melodic sounds of nature entering her consciousness, each note carefully selected, pulling her like a tide, taking her past this moment in time, to enter a new space. It has been tiring to inhabit this place. Not knowing if she wants to stay or leave. The loneliness of these large rooms invades her sense of self. What is she thinking as she stares beyond these walls. She hears voices of a time gone by. “You need a spell”…

She roams the spaces to find a place for a spell, a chance to rest. There is a moment waiting for her. A cup of tea by the window, the soft light caressing her face then dipping just below her eyes. The smell of citrus in the air, thoughts of marmalade and toast.

Her mind drifts to a happy place, transported to the 1930s house in Menzies Creek, the home of her Great Grandmother. Everything seemed so big as she was so little. She remembers her fat bosom, the softness, the love. Climbing onto her lap to rest her head on the pillow. Learning the story of Marmalade. It all began with the Spaniards, their ship wreck, the abandoned Seville orange cargo and the woman who made a divine citrus jam from what appeared to be great misfortune. She felt buoyed by the idea that good could come from apparent disaster. It dawned on her that this was the lesson her Great Grandmother had intended. It was time to return to the present.

Menzies Creek 1981

With full lips slightly parted and the glimpse of two perfect teeth she contemplates whether to be satiated or sad. There is a well set table, silverware, champagne saucers, oysters. Where will her memories take her?

The nostalgia of revisiting Carlton. Memories of a time when fish swam on tables and peasants collected truffles on the hillside in France. The theatre of that little room in Drummond Street with the world view. A meal she will never forget. A time when anything seemed possible. Where it all began. Her joy in finding the unique and special.

Vue De Monde 2002

Her time coming to a close at Empire Rone. Her hand drawn to her cheek in quiet contemplation. She appears calm despite the rising water and the possibility of being engulphed. The bow is tilting, the air smells of sea sickness; yet something seems to comfort her in this maudlin situation. She is not panicked; yet unable to save herself, her fate resting in the hands of others. Each of us unable to live in isolation. Her journey comes to an end.

It is time to leave Empire Rone. It has not been an ordinary day, but rather an extraordinary memorialisation of a time gone by. The stoic irony of her impending removal hangs in the air. The ephemeral beauty revealed in the decay, imperfection so pleasing to the aesthetic senses. She looks back one last time, she can see the mansion grounded in the middle of the forest, like a ship that gets waylaid on its journey. Listing at equilibrium, confident she is going to be rescued.

r-o-n-e  Tyrone Wright (  Artist

Shannon Bennett @chefbennett23 ( Owner

Carly Spooner ( Interior Stylist

Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler ( Botanical Artist

Nick Batterham ( Music

Kat Snowden ( Scent

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Enduring Love


On enduring love. Thirty years ago today I met my love. I am in my forties. He calls me ‘Cosi’, although only occasionally now. It was a childhood name. Reserved for grandparents and parents and my love. It’s very affectionate. Everyone else calls me Nicole, this is the way I prefer it, I don’t like nicknames.

I don’t have strong memories of meeting him. I met many people that day. I recall he was shy and had beautiful eyes. At some point I became curious. And so there was the slow revelation of truths over the coming months. There was no internet at that time. Things were different. A stalker was someone who hid in a tree in your garden not a person at home hunting on their computer for pieces of information that would disqualify or promote someone’s worthiness. How different the genesis of love can be today.

As the months passed I would recall my Grandmothers words ‘ Patience is a virtue. Possess it if you can. Found often in a woman and seldom in a man’. We lived in a narrative of binary beliefs with a total lack of awareness. Everything was uncomplicated. Slowly we migrated from friendship to love. There was never a moments doubt for me. I’ve always known what I want. Such burning desire.

First ten years and then twenty. I was engulphed by breathless adoration. Should all loves be so lucky to have twenty years like this. Life was easy and we knew it. We didn’t sweat the small stuff. We never have. The affection and devotion upon which I regarded my love was intoxicating to those around us. I fielded constant inquiry as to what the secret is. I thought I knew. With unrivalled arrogance I would tell others the secret is ‘not to let the sun go down on an argument’. The ability to forgive. A lesson I learnt from my loves Grandmother. She was married for more than fifty years to a man with a similar temperament and the same moniker as my love.

And so we slid confidently into our third decade. Me, my love and our four children. I can hear the children’s laughter, it fills my heart with joy. The days pass with a satisfying exhaustion that comes from giving everything. The bedtime stories. The silence of them sleeping. The time for us. The closed doors, the fire, the heat, the dry skin, the moistness. I remember everything, like it was yesterday. Time and space recorded in little dioramas for my thoughts to browse.

Do you remember my love? The beginning, we had nothing and everything. Materiality was meaningless. I was a well that could not be emptied. I was young.  I don’t want to be patient anymore. I feel a sense of urgency, like time is moving too fast. The world has changed. I have changed. There is only one thing I am certain of, the passion I have for you my love. Tomorrow we begin our fourth decade.

Touch me and you will know what it is to be loved… Just touch me, my love.

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It’s Bondi Baby


It’s Bondi baby. Sometimes having teenagers is fun. Nothing could be more true than a holiday in Bondi with them. There is something for everyone in Bondi. We stayed at the Adina apartments in Hall Street Bondi. Great accommodation for a family as we had two adjoining rooms and there is a pool.

A quick five-minute walk to the beach and surrounded by great bars, cafes and junk food. Yep that’s correct…I said junk food. You cannot help but notice how the culture in Bondi is polarised. There is a proliferation of junk food places along Campbell Parade directly opposite the beach. Here you will find back packers and gorgeous bronzed kids. The smell of hot chips and salty sea air is omnipresent.

Walking away from the beach into the side streets and laneways there are many great places to eat. Menus laden with organic produce, activated almonds, chia and edible flowers; one of my personal favourites. Who knew some flowers could taste spicy when they look so pretty; alas I digress. There are also some great little spots to have an aperitif. Aperol and Campari are on high rotation in summer. I love them both for their pretty colour but Campari is my favourite for its bitterness. Such a refreshing drink on a hot evening.

Days are easily whiled away at the beach. Our days began with a walk or run on the beach. The beach is well patrolled and packed. It’s a large beach with plenty of sand so there is room for everyone. There are little lockers and showers on the esplanade. The Bondi Rescue film crew were out and the kids loved seeing them as it’s Bondi baby! The weather was perfect and we could swim every day. It was a relaxed holiday. There is a beautiful Bondi to Bronte coastal walk of 3km. The walk is along the cliff tops and provides spectacular views of the coastline and beaches.

We ate in and out over the course of the week. Harris Farm Markets located a one minute walk from our accommodation was perfect for fresh food. They have a great selection of fruit, vegetables and some delicious deli products, including a selection of French cheeses. There is also an IGA and bottle shop Bondi Cellars in Hall Street. There is a seafood shop located further down the street towards Campbell Parade. The fresh food in Bondi is of good quality.

Several meals were eaten at Bill Granger’s Bills of Bondi. The coffee at Bills is reliable; a compliment that lacks generosity due to my being a Melbournian. To be fair it is the best coffee in Bondi. We had a delicious brunch at Bills including the classic delectable Ricotta Hotcakes; unbeatable. Dinner is great here and a chance for Bill to break away from his very famous well deserved brunch reputation. The menu is refined and beachy, including many delicious seafood dishes. The kids loved going to China Diner as they are mad for dumplings. The space for China Diner is funky and relaxed with a modern area at the front for cocktails and quick eats or the more Shanghai inspired dining room toward the back.

Our favourite family night out in Bondi is Icebergs. Icebergs has become somewhat of an institution. It is located on Notts Avenue set above the old Bondi Baths, a historical landmark and location for many fashion shoots. We have been to Icebergs once a year for a few years running and I feel like you can take the city’s temperature when you are at Icebergs. This year was no exception. We walked in to see a beautiful group of people standing at the bar. The women were wearing floral Zimmerman dresses with flat strappy sandals. The men were tanned and wore linen. It was a rather pleasant sight. There was a bohemian vibe and that’s the thing I like about Icebergs. I know if I go next week or next year that it will be different. The glorious permanent timepiece of a pool remains but the people change. They will have wandered off elsewhere.

Bondi is a place to go and daydream. A good spot to reset and plan the year ahead. You can go fresh and organic to start your New Year resolutions or have one more alcoholic junk fuelled week before work begins again. You will see youths backpacking, entrepreneurs working with laptops in cafes and plenty of healthy bodies enjoying the summer sun. When I am in Bondi I am struck by relevance as Bondi is a happy place. It is a good way to start the year.

For travel information follow this link

Iceberg’s, an iconic spot worth a visit

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Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

Gwinganna… I Love you. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat is nestled into the Gold Coast Hinterlands. A wellness destination for both the body and mind. I attended a four night program. Whilst there I felt immersed in the experience that is Gwinganna. A few months on and when I think of Gwinganna I feel nourished. So, what makes Gwinganna amazing.

Before attending Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat I read several reviews; many of them focused on contraband and the rules. This is understandable as our days are consumed by the need for technology and the unfortunate crutch of coffee and alcohol. I too wondered about how I would manage without coffee and technology. But my journey to Gwinganna was not about how I would manage to do without. It was about new experiences and friendship.

I didn’t know what to expect as I had never been to a Health Retreat before. I imagined I may be surrounded by women who are extremely slim and fit and this made me a little nervous as I am a normal weight and of average fitness. I travelled with a friend and upon arrival was relieved to note that there were women of all shapes and sizes. The women ranged in age from 25-83 years; this made the group interesting. Most course participants did not wear make-up and this was quite liberating. An idea I appreciated at 5.30 in the morning when we were woken up. It would only take a few minutes to be dressed and outside for Qi Gong. This took place on a hillside overlooking the ocean. Being woken up at Gwinganna is a joy, no loud alarms; just a little singsong at my door “Good Morning Nicole”. If only I could wake up like this every day.

The food at Gwinganna lifestyle retreat is organic; it is also gluten and dairy free. Most importantly the food is delicious with every meal a gourmet affair. The meals were presented beautifully, lots of vegetables, delicious curries, steak, fish and yummy sweet snacks during the day. The tahini balls are on regular rotation at home now; thanks to the Gwinganna cook book.

Days at Gwinganna were filled with activities. You choose how active or quiet you would like your stay to be. You choose what time you want to rise in the morning. The activities are designed to represent both Yin and Yang. In Chinese philosophy Yin and Yang describe how two opposite forces are complimentary and interdependent in the natural world. We were encouraged to listen to our bodies and what they needed. When I did this I naturally fell into a rhythm of doing both Yin and Yang activities. I enjoyed the challenging bush walk before breakfast and then relished the long Yoga class mid-morning.

The afternoons were for Dreamtime. This was a good time to use the two wet edge pools, have a steam or treatment. The spa is beautiful and welcoming. My favourite treatment was the Lomi Lomi. The staff at the Day Spa were very generous; no clock watching here. They just give you what you need. Wow. The people…where to begin. You could remove any one person from Gwinganna and it would still be the same as they are all so giving, kind and free of judgement. I felt indulged and rejuvenated.

Staying at Gwinganna lifestyle retreat gives you the opportunity to try new things. It was so enjoyable to be introduced to Qi Gong and to try different types of Yoga. Having the time to learn about organic food and gardening was a pleasure. The programs at Gwinganna are quite structured with fantastic exercise options, seminars and relaxation activities but this is not what makes Gwinganna unique. It is not the simply divine organic food, the luxurious accommodation or the eco-tourism awards.

It is the secrets. It is the quiet times whilst taking a walk in the bush when an exquisite little feather settles on your sleeve that you are reminded Gwinganna is more than self. It is a chance to rebalance and focus on oneself but it is also a time for reflection and appreciation. A time to be thankful. Gwinganna is a magical place. Thank you.

In the spirit of transparency I wish to inform you my stay was sponsored.

If you would like to learn more about Gwinganna here is the link

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Why Coffee Is Good For You…


My work day begins with a coffee. The bitterness combined with the ability to focus. Perfection. Coffee forms the basis of many social outings for people everywhere. It’s hard for me to believe that coffee is bad when it makes me feel so good. Let’s discover why coffee is good for you.

There have been thousands of studies undertaken on coffee. Initial mid-twentieth century studies gave coffee a bad rap. The first studies found a correlation between coffee drinking and poor health of participants. To understand these studies fully we need to know the difference between a correlation and a causal relationship. A correlation is when researchers identify a link between coffee drinking and poor health, it is not proof that coffee is the reason participants have poor health. A study that proves that coffee causes poor health establishes a factual reason for the results and is known as a causal relationship. Both types of research outcomes are valuable as a correlation establishes a need for further study and causal relationships provide more definitive research results. Returning to the initial study; it was revealed that a high number of coffee drinkers smoked, consumed high amounts of alcohol and were sedentary. Further studies that separated out smokers and non-smokers found causal links. The explanation for the coffee drinker’s poor health was smoking. But the dye had been cast and coffee had been labelled as bad. Since those initial studies thousands of studies have been conducted and here is what they say.

Coffee can…

  • Provide some protection against liver disease including liver cancer
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Decrease risk of depression
  • Decrease the risk of suicide
  • Boost physical performance
  • May help in weight loss with the breakdown of fat cells
  • Help focus and stay alert
  • Helps prevent gallstones
  • Reduce the risk of premature death
  • Reduce the risk of prostate cancer
  • Reduce the risk of endometrial cancer
  • Reduce the risk of melanoma skin cancer
  • Reduce the risk of stroke
  • Lower risk against degenerative brain diseases including Parkinsons, Alzeimers, and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Reduce risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Many of the studies establish a causal relationship between coffee and good health outcomes. Next time you read coffee is bad; query how many people were in the study group, the length of the study, and whether the outcome of the study showed a correlation or a causal relationship.

Coffee is not for everyone and some people report feeling jittery or excitable. Others report caffeine affects their sleep. This is because coffee is a stimulant.  Some stimulants can be addictive and dangerous although caffeine is usually considered a safe stimulant. It is an ingredient in many over the counter drugs that treat drowsiness. It is suggested that caffeine is avoided for four to six hours prior to bedtime if you are experiencing insomnia.

Studies from all over the world have shown that coffee is the single biggest source of antioxidants in the diet. Antioxidants are known to fight oxidative damage that can cause cancer. In June 2016, The World Health Organisation stated that there is an overwhelming amount of research that coffee can promote health and inhibit cancer.

My current coffee spot is Dukes in Flinders Lane Melbourne. Amazing coffee and I love the floor. You will know what I mean when you see it… What is your favourite coffee shop?

My favourite


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