Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Drive with David Iliffe 'Sunshine' Interview

Angela Gilltrap: Sunshine on Sugar Hill
Apr 30, 2009
Who was it who sang "Love Changes Everything"?

It certainly did for Angela Gilltrap. You may remember her as one of the judges, alongside Lex Marinos on ABC Television's Strictly Dancing a few years back.

Well .. soon after that show folded, she was on a working holiday in New York when a chance encounter with the man of her dreams in a bookshop resulted in her moving into an apartment in a part of the city most visitors to New York don't even consider visiting, let along living in: Harlem.

She's written about her experience of going from being the only white girl on the block, to "Miss Ghetto Fabulous" in a great book called Sunshine on Sugar Hill.

I had a terrific chat to her yesterday about what life in Harlem is really like, what's happened to her since the book was written - and also the stark differences in attitudes between Americans and Australians. `

Click here
to download the audio file.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Dangers of Red Nail Polish

Of all the things you should know about grooming, the combination of red nail polish and potential iguana attacks are rarely mentioned.

Personally, I've never been a pedicure gal. I'm not one to spend a leisurely afternoon lacquering my toe nails scarlet red. Little did I realize this reluctance is not the result of some subconscious anti-feminist movement but an in-built survival skill.

Visiting the Blue Iguana Recovery Program on Grand Cayman Island I was informed that in fact, Iguanas are drawn to red and have been known to race towards it and sometimes attack - not good news for the lady next to me sporting bright red toe nails.

Located in the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, the Blue Iguana facility is unique to the world as it works to preserve one of the rarest reptiles on earth; the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. Visitors can view these rare creatures from yearlings to full grown adults which can be over four feet long! A walk through the park's nature trail is included and your knowledgeable guide will point out the various Cayman wildlife and plants along the way.

Blue Iguana Safari Tours run Monday-Saturday at 11:00am CD$24 adults, CI$12 children under 12.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tales from Grand Cayman


Okay hands up, who enjoys a leisurely browse through Sky Mall on route to their chosen destination? On my way to Grand Cayman this weekend I found myself drawn to the inflight magazine’s version of the shopping channel. With it’s endless supply of weird and wonderful items it’s a great way to entertain. For those who haven’t picked up a copy in a while, I thought I’d relay what’s hot and what’s not in the airline shopping scene.

"Big Foot the Garden Yeti" Sculpture ($98.95)
With his characteristically big feet, our over two-foot- tall Garden Yeti will have guests doing a double-take as they admire your creative gardening style! With alleged sightings the world over from the highest Himalayas to the northwest United States, this elusive, mythical legend has been captured exclusively for toscano in quality designer resin and finely hand-painted for startling realism. (12 lbs.) 19 1/2" W x 19" D x28 1/2" H.

Jumpin Jammerz ($59.99-$76.99)
For the 'big kid' in all of us, now the same footed pajamas you loved when you were a child are available in adult sizes!
For those hot summer days and nights at the cottage, our classic footed pajamas are now made with the same MOISTURE ABSORBING fabric technology used in the latest yoga and sportswear.
Soft, lightweight, and breathable, this amazing fabric is also antibacterial--so you stay clean and cool as you fly into style and comfort!!

"The Zombie of Montclaire Moors" Sculpture ($89.95)
Not for the faint of heart, this Toscano-exclusive, life-size, gray-toned zombie will claw his way out of your garden plot, office, or family room corner, pleading for assistance with the most lifelike eyes you've ever seen.
Captured in meticulous detail in quality designer resin and finished so realistically that you'll swear you can hear him breathing! Arrives in 3 pieces.(13 lb.)

Carry eyewitness in your pocket ($149.99)
Click this pen and it doesn't just write words it records video. With a tiny color camera and microphone, it makes AVI movies with sound and stores them in 2GB of internal memory. Nobody needs to know that you're recording. USB cable connection lets you transfer data to your computer. By the way, this pen writes, too.

For more ingenious offerings head to

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beverage is the new black

In our increasingly frantic, double-booked and over-complicated lives it seems even hydrating is causing us anguish. Gone are the days of a leisurely cup of tea. Banished are the simple pleasures of enjoying a cold beverage. Today, it’s all about hydrating on the go which, much like overhearing your neighbour’s phone conversation, tells us a lot about the strangers who invade our personal space.

On crowded sidewalks everywhere, harried passengers, exhausted commuters and serial over-workers are pounding the pavements clutching their drink of choice. Evian is the new Prada; Pelligrino (in a glass bottle) the new Gucci, these drinks are branding us in a way marketers could only dream.

This alarming development came to my attention whilst waiting patiently at La Guardia airport - destination: a fashion week, far, far away. Clutching my plastic bottle of coke I became somewhat self conscious of my beverage choice. ‘I’m much classier than this’ I wanted to scream. ‘I just need the caffeine!’

Looking around at the many people darting from gate to gate I began to realize that it’s not only our clothes, haircut, tattoos (or lack thereof) which are visually categorizing us, it’s our beverage choices. More than food, it’s the one thing we carry with us as an accessory, the one thing that defines our lifestyle and choices simultaneously. As the new age of intelligent consumers refuses to be branded by any one label, beverages are taking over where fashion left off.

The luxury items pertaining to beverage consumption, for example, include most of the European brands just as in fashion. Any beverage, Italian or French, is deemed couture on the drinking scene with San Pelligrino mineral water (in a glass bottle ) as well as the original luxury drink, Evian branding a person: rich enough to afford superfluous items, pretentious enough to want everyone to know it and fashion conscious enough to care about quality.

I myself, am a Pelligrino (in a glass bottle) drinker and to me it’s the champagne of bottled water, the Italian leather handbag of the drinking world. And yes, like a good pair of Italian loafers it’s worth every penny.

A little down the scale on the more Zara/Gap level are the waters in plastic bottles, a mainstream attempt at couture beverages. Much like its fashion counterpart it provides a convenient, less high brow way to get hydrated.

For the Nike crowd the endless brands of Vitamin water and energy drinks are the ultimate accessory. Similar to the brand of shoes they wear, their drinks must be seen as having the latest technological advances. Beverages with words like ‘electrolytes’ spur on these consumer’s choices. They want a competitive edge, even if it is just in their water.

For high powered execs, the new power suit is not the Chanel, hounds tooth matching two-piece, rather, the Starbucks mega latte, double shot espresso. Bounding, self importantly through peak hour traffic this group of consumers are simply running on caffeine. They are too busy for food (or so they would like you to think) and often shout out their well rehearsed order for all to hear.

And so the list goes on and on. Every minute someone is hydrating and high tailing it into a beverage, branding boutique to purchase an item that will tell the world what sort of person they are. And we all, subconsciously (or consciously), sit back and judge in our own special way - something to think about next time you’re clutchin’ and struttin’.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


In our 'Behind the Book' Series, you get to meet the people, behind the book.

“As I arrived my sister ran out. She hugged me tight, tears in her eyes. I thought she might never let go.” - Sunshine On Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap (

INTRODUCING MY SISTA - starring in several pivotal chapters throughout the book

She’s my sister by choice not birth, she is the one that makes me laugh and cry, threatens never to let go when I head for the airport and is always amused by my funny stories. I totally adore her and despite her protests each time I head back to Sugar Hill I know she supports whatever crazy adventure I choose to undertake. She has listened sympathetically as I tried to piece together the story of my life over the last two years. For that and much more I thank her. In the words of the great Austin Powers ‘you complete me’.

What do you love the most about your Sista?
As she mentioned above, she makes me laugh out loud. We know each other so well, there is no pretending with each other. What you see is what you get. She knows all my secrets and still loves me.

Was it weird to read about yourself?

Totally, I had to explain to everyone (that I was telling about the book) about our “sista” relationship. She isn’t my blood sister, we have known each other nearly as long though. We are as close, if not closer then what families are.

Do you think I did you justice?

Yes. There are small snippets of our conversations and annual celebrations that the book has covered. It wasn’t about me or our relationship and the content that you read does do me justice.

What was your favourite chapter (yes it can be the one with you in it)?

I must admit I do love the “Home is where to heart is chapter” and not just because I am in it, but also because, we see Angela when she arrives home and embrace her, feed her, love her and then have to let her go all over again, we never see what she has to go through to get here and the heartache she goes through leaving. And also what she faces on arrival home to ‘sugar hill’. It was humbling and I really loved the private thoughts and struggles she goes through.

Any words of advice for people who are contemplating spending the $32.95 on groceries rather than ‘Sunshine on Sugar Hill’?

Go and buy it and support an Aussie talent that has worked hard all her life. Have a good laugh, cry and read at another person’s experience. She is living her dream and it’s exciting to read.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What author is worthy of your love?

As I start to recieve pictures of the book on shelves, it occured to me that all of us like to be associated with particular people. We all have heros and idols that we look up to; people who we like to think we have something in common with, be they of the literary, political, musical or sports variety.

In New Idea recently 'Sunshine on Sugar Hill' got a write up featured above best-selling author Jodi Picoult's latest offering. On shelves, the book has been seen in great company next to White Tiger and even hitting the top 10 list among some of my favourite authors.

Of course as all things go up, so must they come down but if it's in good company it makes the journey so much more pleasurable. When a friend called to tell me they picked up my first book 'Strictly Dancing' from the bargain bin, they quickly pointed out the Davinci Code was right next to it.

The question becomes then, in a perfect world where you get to pick and choose your pretend celebrity friends who would you like to be on a book stand with?

My perfect line up would be:

Joanne Harris 'Chocolate'
Mitch Albom 'The Five People You Meet In Heaven'
Anchee Min 'Empress Orchid'
Augusten Burroughs 'Running with Scissors'

Ah, good times.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


In our 'Behind the Book' Series, you get to meet the people behind the book.

“By 10 a.m. Jen and I were seated in our usual place, Paris Le-Go. It was our ‘Central Perk’.” - Sunshine On Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap (

INTRODUCING JEN Starring in chapter 5 - Moving on up

I’m sure Jen wouldn’t mind letting you know that her real name is actually ‘Jennifer’. We had been flat-mates for about three years when I packed up and moved to Harlem. There simply wasn’t enough room in the book to write all the good times and hysterical experiences we shared at Club 525; the crazy coffee, the road trips to Byron, the Beach Road shenanigans and the competitions for the coveted prize of ‘Worst Gig I Did Today’. A year ago she came to visit me on Sugar Hill. I miss her dearly and always chanel a Jen-dance-off when times are tough.

So what is crazy coffee?

A very funny experience, ending in a sweaty anxious come down…..basically when you don’t know how much coffee to add to a plunger if your coffee looks like black tar you may have added too much. Although for at least an hour you can get so much work done.

Is it true that birds starting eating my bedroom window?

Yes absolutely, they almost pecked it out of the wall if I remember correctly……I’m in that room now and they have not come back – ever. I was never sure what you were doing to bring the birds – bird woman…

What’s the best thing about living in Bondi?

Easy, the perve factor, when summer hits there is an incredible influx of backpackers. There is nothing better than hanging out on the grass near the showers just before sunset discreetly perving on the travelers coming up from the water. There is also the gorgeous beach, relaxed vibe, clothes shopping on Gould Street, great food and coffee, when you move to Bondi you never want to leave the suburb.

Where you sad when I left – come on tell the truth?

Of course, my partner in crime, gone, I was devastated. Thankfully you left me your couch, fridge, television, toaster, kettle and even an iron at a very reasonable price so I managed to get by……without these everyday items and you gone club 525 would have been very bare, and uncomfortable.

What did you think of Sugar Hill?

Well, it was very different from Bondi…. I loved my visit, saw a lot of Sugar Hill in the very early hours of the morning thanks to jet lag……I did always feel a little out of place in my sundresses, but was fine when we were together as you seemed to have the neighbourhood on your side. The day I woke early and wanted to surprise you with grocery shopping, went out on my own and was asked ever so politely ‘Hey whats up princess…..Hey….Hey!…Hey! Little white princes doesn’t wanna talk to us’ by a group of men that looked like Law and Order characters in a line up, I think I moved down town that day. But I remember you assured me they were just wanting to chat with me. But again I loved my visit, Sugar Hill has a lot of character.

When are you coming back to visit?

I was hoping to go on another trip this year, but I’m afraid I can’t do another summer with no air-con in my car and so a new car might win….keep you posted.


Jen x

Monday, April 6, 2009

Book sold out!

My little Aussie angels have informed me 'Sunshine on Sugar Hill' is sold out in many ABC stores around the country. Do not fear! They will have some more in in a couple of weeks, or simply let your fingers do the walking and dial it in/order online at

In the meantime I have finally got my copies. It's big right? Doesn't quite seem real as my copies are perched on my dining table rather than a book store but surreal nonetheless.

This morning I interviewed Rosie and The Goldbug ( a British female-fronted trio for a music feature in Zink. Have caught up with some great chiks so far, Nina Persson from A Camp (formerly of the Cardigans & also now a Harlem local), The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Ida Maria (Norwegian rock chik) and finally Elizabeth from Elizabeth and the Catapults later in the week.

Another jam packed seven days headed our way.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Do not attempt domestic chores caffeine free

I like to learn the hard way. After overflowing my washing machine last Friday I did one better and washed my cell phone this morning. Oh yes, two rinse cycles later, complete with fabric softener and detergent I found my phone all squeaky clean looking up at miserably from the bottom of the washing machine. Needless to say if you've text me today I won't be getting back to you anytime soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book cover confuses toddlers

In an unexpected twist, my very proud sista excitedly held up 'Sunshine On Sugar Hill' for my 3 year-old nephew to see.

"Look it's Auntie Ange' she said, pointing to the book cover. He clapped along enthusiastically and set off through the house. She was somewhat surprised however by his quick movements.

Half an hour later, as he continued to search, she realized he hadn't quite grasped the concept. Poor thing thought I was there. He couldn't work out where I had hidden!

It would seem for some, two dimensions are just a tease.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thinking about heading down under...

Good news is the book is doing really well and as the buzz gains momentum it would seem that there might be some room for a signing or two. Am thinking about making the trek to say hi to you all will keep you posted.