Category Archives: melbourne

Unfulfilled expectations

Poached eggs as they should be...

Poached eggs as they should be...

A couple of weeks ago I went in to a little cafe in West Preston to have a quick lunch with a friend. The menu boasted an “all day breakfast” and as I’ve always had a fondness for breakfast at lunchtime, I ordered poached eggs on toast.

What arrived was literally that – two poached eggs on a single, if large, piece of dry toast. No butter, no salt and pepper, no Worcester sauce, and definitely no greenery in sight.  My friend quipped that at least the menu had described the dish accurately, but I was so gobsmacked that I couldn’t talk. And, as she was technically correct in saying that I got what I ordered, there was really no way for me to complain, although I did feel very hard done by.

I felt compelled to make myself poached eggs for lunch a couple of days later, though, to restore my faith that they could be appealing and delicious. And, of course, before I ate I took the photo above and sent it to my friend. I’m thinking of sending a copy anonymously to the cafe, to show them what this dish should look like!

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Drizzle; Precipitation; Rain. Whatever you call it, boy is it welcome!

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It is finally raining !

After having had something in the order of 0.2mm of rain for the year to date (compared to our usual 77mm), and after the record temperatures and devastating fires of early February, today Melbourne is wet and cold.

It is delicious – cold enough to make you want to put on your favourite hoodie (I have), and run to the shop for a new umbrella (will do this later), and to feel happy sitting inside, drinking hot cups of tea.

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The rain is refreshing everything –  giving the garden a welcome drink as well as washing the petals clean of the soot and dust of the past month. I heard a whisper, too, that the fire-services are hopeful that this cool, wet weather spells the end of the fire season for this year. We can only hope…

Our hearts go out to them, and to everyone who has been touched by the fires.

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This brave little avocado tree –  a Christmas present to my husband that we planted on B0xing Day – is making a valiant effort to recover, having lost nearly all of its leaves during the heatwave, and having had to be protected by a portable beach shelter for the last three weeks.

You have to wonder, with the way that the drought is going, if it will ever really end. I heard someone from the Bureau of Meteorology speaking on the radio last week, and was depressed to hear him ask the same question. As he said, we are in un-charted territory: the drought has gone on twice as long as ever before; we’ve had the highest temperatures ever recorded and the lowest rainfall for this period since records began being kept. We can only wait and see, I guess…

Sorry about that; I didn’t mean to get depressing. To lighten the mood,  I have another couple of unrelated pictures to share with you.

These were taken at the Melbourne two weeks ago when we went to the zoo for a wander. By sheer luck, we were in time for a ‘keeper’s talk’ at the giraffe enclosure.

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This giraffe (above), with the very long tongue and a taste for carrots, was born at Perth zoo, and was made famous by the photograph below (he was the little one):

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Now he lives at Melbourne Zoo and has fathered a number of babies of his own.

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This meerkat isn’t famous, as far as I know, but it was very cute as it stood sentry.

Stay safe and well – and if you are in Melbourne, enjoy the rain!

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Canon SX110IS and great kids make for a happy New Year

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Where ever you are – Happy New Year to you (albeit a little late).

I hope you had a good (and safe) time, and that 2009 brings you much happiness and satisfaction.

We (M & I) spent New Year’s Eve on the grassy bank bordering Birrarung Marr, watching the fireworks with Meg and five of her friends.

We thought we were brave taking six fourteen and fifteen year-old girls into town, where the crowd numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but they were a real delight – all skipping along arm-in-arm and having a lovely time. The worst problem we had was keeping up with them as they practically ran through the crowd!

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These (obviously hand-held) photos were taken with my Christmas present – a Canon SX110IS compact. I’m in the process of putting it through it’s paces, and must say that I am impressed so far. A (largish) pocket-sized camera with the equivalent of a 36 – 360mm lens and everything from fully auto to fully manual control is hard to beat, and Canon’s menus are consistently easy to navigate, making it easy to take advantage of its many features. I think it performed really well under difficult circumstances – I mean, who would try to take photos of fireworks without a tripod?!

Just wait til you see the photos of the hippos at Werribee Open Range zoo…

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Singing season

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I’ve renamed the period from the end of October to the middle of December this year as ‘singing season’, rather than ‘silly season’ as it is usually dubbed. Though maybe some would say I’m silly to be doing what I’m doing, at the busiest (crafting, studying and social) time of the year.

You see, a couple of special projects mean that I am involved in three choirs at the moment, and am taking part in a couple of really special performances. From my point of view, this is heaven.

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One project culminates on November 29th with a performance by a 472 voice choir (at last count!) at the BMW Edge theatre in Federation Square, here in Melbourne. This performance celebrates the 100th centenary of women getting the vote in Victoria, and the amazing work of the women who tirelessly strove to get us this right.

The Women’s Anthem was commissioned by the VWT and written by Kavisha Mazzella, and is really wonderful. It is reminiscent of folk songs from the turn of the (19th) century, and will be a fitting end to the year of celebration marking this momentous anniversary. And – what an amazing experience to be in a room with so many wonderful voices! The full choir hasn’t even been together yet, with many women rehearsing in regional choirs and joining us on the actual day, but even with 300 voices it is incredible. Gives me goose bumps just to think of it.

 

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The second special gig is a Roy Orbison tribute gig to mark the 20th anniversary of his death, and to raise funds for the “Close the Gap” project being run by Oxfam. This one is a Lipstick & Spurs gig, and we will have the great pleasure of singing backing vocals for Kutcha Edwards and Dave Arden, and not only will be raising funds for a very worthy cause, but will also be fabulous fun! Might have to borrow M’s tuxedo for this one!

The final event – the Carols in All Nations – will be on December 13th. This is the City of Darebin Christmas Carols event that takes place at All Nations park each year. Lipstick & Spurs will sing a couple of our own Christmas songs, and we’ll also sing with the Massed Choir for the main part of the festivities. The Rusty Springs will also be playing with Lipstick & Spurs on one song!

So – all in all, the next few weeks will be a blur of singing and happy exhaustion. Must find time in there somewhere to make the Christmas cakes and puddings, and finish all of the present making…

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The Audreys at the Dream Festival

The audience watching The Audreys perform

One of the things I did while I was absent from the blog, was attend the Dream Festival held in Birrarung Marr in early October.

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It was a beautiful day and The Audreys – one of my favourite bands – were playing. I’d never seen them live before, and they did not disappoint: they were every bit as good live as they are on their albums. Combined with the atmosphere you get from seeing a band on stage, their performance was a real treat.

The Audreys on stage, with Taasha playing the melodica

Taasha’s vocals were at their delicate best, and I got to see her playing both the melodica and the ukulele as they performed a mixture of songs from both albums. (If you’ve read Blogday before, you’ll know how much I love the ukulele and will understand why I was so excited about her playing one.) For me the highlight of the show was Banjo & Violin . The first verse applies to me so well, with my foray into country music over the last couple of years, that it makes me laugh.

Taasha Coates from The Audreys, stands at a microphone singing

For me, they sum up what I love in music at the moment – they’re local (as in Australian); their music sits across a number of styles that I love (folk, country, rock and pop), and they play a great range of instruments: ukulele, banjo, double bass, violin. Aaah – heaven!

Looking down the Yarra River towards Princes Bridge

As an added bonus, I caught up with someone I hadn’t seen in 22 years – one of my best friends from my university days. She was there listening to music and taking photos as well. I smiled at her as she walked towards me through the crowd, recognising that she was a kindred spirit (with the camera and everything), only to then recognise who it was that I was smiling at! The most bizarre thing of all is that we both have daughters named Megan!

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Bill Bailey at Hamer Hall

 

Last Saturday night, when we were in town to see Bill Bailey at the Arts Centre, Grand Final fever was in full swing. There were people EVERYWHERE, in different stages of euphoria or despair. I didn’t consider the fact that it would be Grand Final day when I booked the tickets, but it wouldn’t really have mattered, because nothing would have stopped me in any case.

And it was SO worth braving the crowds – he was amazing (unlike my photographs, but this is the ongoing disappointment of trying to take pictures of gigs without the proper equipment, so we won’t dwell on it here). Needless to say, I’m looking at investing in a compact camera with a good zoom on a fast lens – maybe a Panasonic Lumix, because of their Leica lenses – for just this situation. Until I’m well known enough around the venues to be able to get away with taking my DSLR, that is… Oh well, I can dream, can’t I?

With his last show on in Melbourne tonight , I’m not going to give anything away other than to say that he includes local content that will have you in the aisles (can you say bogan?); plays a Theremin incredibly well (though you probably knew that already), and through the show swapped between it, an electric piano, a synthesizer, acoustic and electric guitars, a mandolin and a didgeridoo.

His story-telling is reminiscent of Billy Connelly’s meandering style, although with a more political bent, and his musical ability is staggering. The show was two hours long, not counting a twenty minute intermission, and during his time on stage he took us on a world tour through political commentary and his natural curiosity. Power companies, political leaders and tv shows all copped it, as did the Geelong Football club…

Speaking of which, I’m never going to be able to watch Friends again without thinking of Bill Bailey, though I can’t look at him without thinking of Manny in a shepherdess’s costume in the “Big and Beardy” magazine , so it only seems fair!

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Sweet success!

Months ago, I entered a number of competitions in the Royal Melbourne Show, mostly as a way to give myself deadlines on a couple of projects, but also – in the case of the cookery competition – because everybody who eats the bread I make is VERY complimentary about it, so I thought I would see how it stacked up against other people’s.

Out of the blue, we were very kindly given a weekend in the snow at Falls Creek by some friends, and it happened to coincide with the day for delivering food entries to the showgrounds for judging, so I had decided that I would just forfeit my entry fees and have another go next year.  Until we had to cancel at the last minute, that is.

Meg was sick with bronchitis – and I mean really sick  – so I was up most of Friday night with her. Seeing I was up, I decided to make my bread after all.

  

I made two batches and ended up with a couple of loaves I was really happy with, so I took them over and dropped them off at about 10 in the morning, just for the hell of it. I certainly had no expectation of winning anything…

Last Thursday, the day the Show opened, I hopped onto the website to look at competition results, and was absolutely stoked to see that I had won second prize! I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes! It’s now become a running family joke that I am an ‘award winning’ bread maker.

I’ll admit, too, that my first thought after Oh my god, I’ve won second prize! was What do I have to do to win first?  I guess I’ll be practicing a lot more during the year!

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