Thursday, October 29, 2009


Keren L. has arrived from Sydney via the Daylesford region for a few days. We went out last night with two friends of hers to The Commoner and had a splendid meal, as usual. Today, she is off sightseeing or art viewing in Melbourne, while I complete the history which is just waiting for a couple of queries to be answered by the author, then it is 'finished'.

Tomorrow, we are planning a visit to Heide, then on the weekend, a visit to the Healesville district, and an exploration of the Black Spur Inn (aka the Narbethong Pub). In trying to book a weekend in the area, I was stymied by the number of places set up for 'romantic weekends' and not for three people requiring two bedrooms. Plus some offerings were outrageously expensive, including one venue which was offering to put tea lights in your room after dinner for only $30 extra!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Culture Convent

Pic: Peter
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Culture Central

After morning coffee and starting the Sunday crossword, P. and I walked around to the Convent for a Sunday morning performance of Bach's Coffee Cantata, in a very creditable performance by the Melbourne Opera School, with coffee and croissants. We'll miss the rest of the mini opera day, as we're off to Dandenong for lunch chez my sister, but it does feel odd waking and walking to an operatic performance just round the corner.

On the way back, we passed a bowtied, suited gent carrying many litres of milk back to the Convent, presumably part of the proceedings. He looked a bit like a milk-fed Count Dracula.

Then Dad turned up to whisk us away to Dandenong. As usual, Ian, my brother-in-law turned on a feast. There were oysters to start: cooked, plus raw oysters 'Greta Garbo' with salmon and caviar. Several courses followed: fish, lamb, gammon, turkey. The guests proved their green credentials by descending on the food like locusts. It all finished with my sister's immaculate pavlova creations, famous throughout the world (or at least England and Australia). We also saw some of the pictures of their recent holiday at Lady Elliot Island in Queensland. It looked very restful and full of bird and fish life.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hey ho for spring

Frank's spring garden. Pic: P.

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A Moment's Pause

On Friday, I sent the last version of the history of to the author, and await its return with approvals/changes etc. Meanwhile, I have two other manuscripts to read, one of which I've printed out with a view to suggesting a restructure. As well, A. Nauthor has asked me to edit a collection of essays, which will be fun before the thriller turns up at the end of the month.

By way of pause, P. and I did the Convent market this morning, and got lots of goodies, including more licorice icecream, a leg of lamb, some beetroot gnocchi and lots of vegies. We then took Sally's woodbox back to her and had a quiet coffee in her backyard. Then more shopping in the mall.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Yesterday, P. had a rostered day off, so we went (long overdue) to 'A Day in Pompeii' at the Melbourne Museum. There were hordes of people there, and we had to wait an hour before being allowed in, so we took in the Koori exhibition, always worthwhile. The Pompeii was very good, though difficult, as it was so crowded, It suffered a bit from a current fad for underlighting, which it seems is not to preserve delicate colours, but to provide 'atmosphere' aided by spooky music. It is difficult to see why things like plaster casts can't be in full light. As there was very little that was original in the exhibition, a bit more lighting wouldn't have hurt.

We then had lunch at Charcoal Lane in Gertrude Street, which was again excellent, and good value on their lunch special ($30 for two courses). We both had oysters with delicious granita, a surprising and very delicious combination, then P. had the duck and I the yam fritters. Then P. went off to Greenaway's Last Supper, and I went home to more history work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Our normal Saturday shopping concluded with an excellent brunch at Suede in Smurf Street, then, in the evening, we had dinner chez Frank, as a kind of farewell before his trip. Most of Sunday was spent cooking up a storm in preparation for dinner with Sally M., Robert, her partner, Lorraine and Noel T. We started with leek and potato soup, then had P.'s lemony lamb with 'orzo' (much admired) and finished with icecream (raspberry, blackberry and licorice), followed by cheese. The night seemed to go well, so we'll have another soon.

Now it's full steam ahead on the history and the memoir. Things have suddenly become quite busy, with a couple of manuscripts for comment also landing on the desk.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tosca close up

Last night, my father and his friend Helen, P. and I went to the Melbourne Opera production of Tosca at the Athenaeum Theatre. It is always good to see opera in this smaller theatre, as, even if the singers are less than perfect, the sound from them and the orchestra is very good. Even though not a great Puccini fan, I enjoyed this production in more intimate surroundings. There was nearly a capacity crowd with a far younger audience than usual at the opera, probably a result of lower ticket prices. Even though the staging was simple, it was quite adequate and the last act, which often doesn't work very well, actually did work on a smaller scale.

Beforehand, we had a pleasant dinner at Bistrot d'Orsay, right next door to the theatre. Now back to work on the history.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Returns

A fairly quiet weekend except for Michael H.'s splendid birthday party on Sunday afternoon. In a little conspiracy, Helen B. produced some tasty cucumber sandwiches and savoury egg sandwiches, while I made asparagus rolls (very easy) to Bee Nilson's 'recipe'. As well, Rosalie made a massive strawberry birthday cake. The comic turn was when I told Declan (Rosalie's son) that I was Michael's father. I meant Michael P. He thought I meant Michael H. (who is one year younger than me). It will make a good story for years.

There were, of course, lots of people I hadn't seen for a while like Mitch C. and a fair bit of reminiscing and scandalous stories from the speechmakers (Leigh who gave a rundown of past birthdays, Mitch and the birthday boy himself, who got a bit teary). It was a very pleasant occasion.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Last night, P. and I had a pub dinner in Sydney Road, before an excellent performance of Dido and Aneas by the Early Music Opera Studio Project. Especially good were the chorus and baroque ensemble, but the soloists made a good fist of a difficult work. The first half consisted of short pieces by Locke and Purcell, again excellent. It was a sell-out crowd, very appreciative. The venue, the Brunswick Town Hall, described as 'iconic' in the renovation notices, has quaint signs all round the place telling you not to slide the tables and chairs to 'keep the floor clean'. Very true. The chairs were certainly not 'iconic'.

Thanks for the good wishes about my renal problems. Just to clarify: I have to go to an education session at a time to be confirmed to learn about the various options. But there is no current suggestion that anything is likely to happen before next year. Meanwhile, my kidneys just chug along in their imperfect way.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Puttering away

Now have the amended manuscript back of the history, so am busy working through that. It is reading very well in its re-ordered form. Meanwhile, a copy of the just-published The Children's Writer by Gary Crew, which I worked on late last year, turned up. It looks quite handsome in its Fourth Estate paperback livery. I hope it does well for him as his first adult novel.

On Tuesday night, I went to the launch of Tony Birch's Father's Day, an excellent collection of stories which follows on from his Shadowboxing. There was a good crowd for a speech by Allan Attwood (Big Issue editor) and I caught up with a few people.

I nearly forgot my renal appointment on Wednesday as I was so immersed in the history. The history actually transports me and, although it is fairly grim, it is gripping and fascinating. However, I remembered just in time and headed off to the hospital to be told that my kidney function is not improving and that I should be getting prepared for dialysis or kidney transplant in case of complete renal failure. Not good news and another medical hurdle. However, the renal unit at the Melbourne does inspire confidence in their competence and experience.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Recital Hall

Your blogger at the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. (picture: P.)

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Last Day for Dali

(picture: P.)
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Melbourne Chamber Orchestra again

After brunch and the Sunday crossword, P. and I went to the Recital Hall for a baroque concert with two pieces each from Brescianello, Durante, Corelli and Vivaldi. Directed by violinist, Rachael Beesley, the Durante pieces were surprising in their modernity, with stunning dissonances. Another highlight was the Vivaldi concerto for two cellos, with the young cellists, Sharon Draper and Michael Dahlenburg, playing with gusto and applomb. The strings were supported by vigorous playing by harpsichordist, Ann Morgan.

On the way, past the Arts Centre, a woman on the tram enquired who this Salvador Dali was, and why were there such huge queues to see him. P. asked her whether she had heard of 'surrealism'. She hadn't, but wondered why, if he had been dead so long, people were still interested. You can't win them all.

After a short nap, we went to Frank's for tea, with a pork and sweet potato casserole, and a sinful chocolate pudding.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Earthquake in concert

Last night, I went to see Gloriana perform in the Spring New Music Festival. I missed their last regular concert as we were in Inverloch. This one was no disappointment. The Nicolas Gombert piece, Lugebat David Absalon, was excellent in the first half. The second half was Brumel's Earthquake mass, where the choir occasionally lost its way, but perhaps partly because of the cold night. The heating was turned off at the start of the concert, because it is too noisy, but by the second half it was getting pretty chilly. Programmed ages ago, the 'earthquake' part turned out to be prophetic in view of Samoa and Padang. It is an extremely complex 12-part piece, so keeping it all together is a major effort. Being a night-time concert, rather than Sunday afternoon, many of the usual suspects were missing, but some surprise attendees were Helen B. and Drusilla M., who I haven't seen for years. We did a bit of plotting for Hurley's birthday.

On Saturday, it was shopping as normal in little Roz the Yaris. No market this week, but the opportunity to stock up on coffee beans at the retail circus act that is Jasper's coffee in Brunswick Street. This week's star turn was two customers buying a coffee maker ('Will this one "foam" the coffee?') We had a good brunch at Red Tongue, though it wasn't as good as last week's at The Commoner.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Last night, Noel T. joined us for a quick meal at Chocolate Buddha, then the Production Company's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the State Theatre. The production could have done with a bit more stylelishness in the performances, though the leading lady, newcomer Amy Lehpamer, was excellent, as was Marina Prior in the second lead. However, the total effect was quite enjoyable. Noel had seen it in New York in a much better production, of course.

Today, a visit to the hospital to give blood to the friendly vampires, before a renal visit next week, plus a visit to the cobbler/elves, where Greg produced a new nose, as the old one was getting a bit tired. A stopover at the health centre for some new pills on the way home completed this medical funfest. As a reward for all this, I got a goat's cheese tart at Parisienne Pate in Carlton on the way.