It’s probably not the first place you’d choose, but I want a holiday house in Newcastle. Yes, yes, Bryon is lovely, Bateman’s probably rocks and I know Sawtell is superb. None of them hold a candle to Newcastle. I grew up in Newcastle (so shut your gob). I was dead keen to leave when I was 21. Now I fantasise about moving back (when not dreaming about becoming Doctor Who’s assistant, being thinner, having a pool and assorted home renovations). But a holiday house would do quite nicely. Sure, there are disappointing things about Newcastle: the southern hemisphere’s largest KFC. There are funny things about Newcastle: the pub with carpet on all the table tops. And there are scary things about Newcastle: bald guys with tattoos of one-finger salutes on the back of their heads. Actually, there seem to be a surfeit of tattoos generally, especially on strapping young gentlemen’s forearms. There are bad things about Newcastle: the semi-derelict main street is depressing. And there are impossible things about Newcastle: entering a licenced venue after midnight (local grog law to avoid drunken violence). But I reckon the good outweighs the bad. It’s so easy compared to Sydney. Brilliant houses way under a million bucks, speedy work commutes, sensible working hours, parents to babysit, gorgeous beaches, great parks … I spent three glorious days in Newcastle last week and loved every minute. I took the Sprogs to the beach; parked right beside it. I took the Sprogs for preservative-free burgers (with my best friend when I was 4); parked just around the corner. I went out for drinks and dinner (with my best friend when I was 10); parked the Sprogs with my parents. Mum even drove me to the pub. Score! The pub was great too. A big, old converted warehouse, right on the harbour. Awesome views. It was a bit annoying when they ran out of Diet Coke – who runs out of Diet Coke? – but other than that, lovely. Mum and I hit the sales at Garden City (or whatever its Westfieldy name is now) – they had Mimco and everything. We went to the movies – Tower Heist – only $9.95 and parking (again) was a breeze. If I’d had more time, I could have dined at Good Food Guide approved restaurants. As it was I enjoyed some very nice oysters above the fishermen’s co-op and survived a $7 pasta at the bowling club. What’s not to like?
DIET LOG: Groggy, but basically good.
WHAT THE SCALES SAID: 68.9kg. Bah humbug.
TONIGHT’S MENU: Might keep it simple, steak with dijon mustard and salad. Or perhaps a mushroom sauce (fry thinly sliced garlic clove and chilli flakes in a splash of olive oil. Add sliced mushrooms, cook until soft. Toss in some fresh thyme sprigs, add a dash of lactose-free cream. Simmer very gently for one minute. Serve.)