Let me tell you about… The Places And Novocastrians That Made My 2016 Pretty Darn Great. / by Laura Kebby

For me, 2016 has been one of those whirlwind years. I’ve taken a bit of time to look back and realise all the things I’ve seen and done this year, but most importantly the Novocastians I met that made it a year that I can chalk up to being one of the best of my 26 years of life. Except for the year I was given a bike for Christmas, that was a really great year. Anyway, in line of what the increasingly ever famous Kian West wrote about his top Ten people of Newcastle, here’s something I wrote. In a kind of wordy, Laura Kebby-esque way. 

I’ve been going to Welsh Blacks on Bull street for a long while now. I’ve mentioned before that I probably spend more time there than I do at my own house. It’s not just because they have excellent cold brew but it’s a place where there is the perfect balance of no one bothering me whilst I write and just the right amount of banter to start my day off on the right foot. It will forever be one of my favourite places in Newcastle. If you haven’t been here yet, you should definitely make the venture to Bull Street to try the cold brew but stay for the banter. When I have a day off, my trips to Welsh often involve a little detour to visit one of my best mates (it’s in print now mate, it makes it legit) Melanie Mitchell over at Diabolik tattoo on King Street. Mel is someone I admire a lot and I’m glad to call her a mate going into 2017, expect big things from her in the coming year. She’s a ridiculously talented artist and will happily ink you up and ensure your parents are extra proud of you. Her wife Cindra Banks is also a ridiculously wonderful human and if you’re looking at doing the whole get fit and healthy thing for 2017, look no further. As one half of Two Feet Yoga, along with Cat Mead, Cindra will happily help you chase that #blessed feeling. For those playing at home, she’s just ventured into the Podcast world (hot tip you should definitely check that one out). 

Speaking of coffee, I’ve been spending a whole bunch of time in the West End lately, thank you to Emily from Dark Horse Coffee for making me feel very welcome, serving wonderful coffee and accepting my apologies for not being a morning person.  

This year I really decided to chase after some things I’m really passionate about, for this I have to thank wonderful people like Spencer Scott, William Houlcroft and Rachel Maria-Cox. The Hamo has hosted some incredible live music this year, this is where I saw Camp Cope for the first time, when they played to about 12 people. I saw Paper Thin launch their EP here and Bofolk Ballico perform his incredible tunes, they also have a great happy hour - super important. Thank you all for helping a very awkward punk kid find her tribe. A special thanks to RMC for letting me bug artists on their behalf and giving me a platform to hone my writing and interview skills and just letting me yell out Girls To The Front… a lot. To Adam Miller, for sharing his music with me and quite literally blowing me away with his tenacity and talent. (If you have not yet seen this man play guitar, do so immediately.) He also runs NIMA, held in the basement of the Grand Hotel every Tuesday. If you’re looking for a breathtaking night of music, look no further. To Holly Clayton, for reminding me how much better life can be with music and happiness and for sharing her heart and home with me. If you’re looking to be savvy, Holly Who is an incredible band that way you can see Holly and Adam do their thing, very very well. To Joab Eastley for being a wonderful human and for smiling at me the first time we met. He is a fantastic musician and congrats in advance to RAAVE TAPES and everything they will achieve next year. 

To all of the local artists/individuals I got to interview this year, in particular The Cereal Picnic (you never forget your first, right boys?), Amos (from Amos and Emily), and Sol. A special shout outgoes to Amy Vee for being one of the most passionate, articulate and complex artists I have ever had the pleasure of interviewing. To Sophie Mathisen for reminding me and everyone around her that you really can do anything and everything you set your mind to. And for swearing like a trooper during our interview. 

To Dan Beazley for being an incredibly enthusiastic and passionate Novocastrian, thank you for helping me fall in love with our town again, and taking me seriously despite walking into your office for the first time in full length overalls and sporting a collection of slightly sarcastic badges. Check out Newcastle Live if you haven’t already, and keep up to date with our great town. Also Dan is a great guy, if you see him about, buy him a beer. He also does a podcast - with NM’s very own Kian West. 

To the wonderful people who run Cooks Hill Books, thank you for letting me walk around your store for hours, with headphones on, and most likely walk out without buying anything. Also to the person who gave me the copy of Rolling Stone with Shirley Manson on the cover, you made my day so much brighter. Other small businesses like Blackbird Corner, The Edwards Record Store, and The Embassy Cafe for being places I really enjoy spending time. Support local businesses, they are the best kind. 

To Ryan Williams for being one half of the dynamic duo that makes up Newcastle Mirage. For being soft spoken and hilarious and a stoic and talented muso on stage and just an all round good guy. Thank you for chatting with me this year and letting me ramble on about the noise in my head. 

To Kian West. For being the person who inspires me the most. For being wonderful, straight to the point, tenacious, and the most hardworking individual I know. For being the direction I have always needed when my mind is going a million miles an hour. For never ever letting me settle for anything but my best. For forcing me to take a break. For being my best mate and one of my favourite people. For looking at me and asking why, letting me hang out and walk your dog when all I really needed was someone to listen to the words in my mind. For being on my side but also being my favourite debating partner. Just thanks for doing the things you do. 

To every single person who read something I wrote and either shared it, or told me that they read it and then went one step further and told me they liked it, that was really something. Especially for someone who spent the majority of their time writing in black books and never ever telling a soul about it. 

And finally… To the ‘Out And About Girl’ Kira Jones. For being my partner. For looking at me like you love me and reminding me that you do, every single day. For being on my team, understanding my weird writing habits, and not (really) questioning why I love Shrek so much. But really, just for being you. I’m really really lucky. 

I’ve got some really great things running around in my brain for next year and I am so ridiculously thankful that I get to write for Newcastle Mirage. This has read more like a massive thank you letter, but I’m a writer, I don’t get that opportunity very often and I’m pretty darn grateful.