Monday, September 30, 2013


That's how it's spelt on the window of Craig's Hotel in Ballarat. P. and I went there over the weekend, mainly to go to the opening of a retrospective of the work of Chris Nicholls called 'Landscapes of the Mind'. He was the brother of Bron Nicholls, the writer. It was a very impressive (and moving) exhibition introduced by the curator Merle Hathaway and Claire Nicholls, the artist's daughter, very eloquently. There was also a very large attendance of the Nicholls' friends and relations, as well as the art maevens of Ballarat. An enormous amount of work has gone into preparing the exhibition and cataloguing Chris's work by his widow Ros and others. A very limited edition (ten) of Chris's work sold out instantly. Let's hope it reprints. We had a very good night, dinner and breakfast at the well-renovated Craig's (1853 in a previous incarnation) which was only sewered in 1926. What did Mark Twain, Nellie Melba et. al. do before then? Chamber pots perhaps. The dinner was very good. I had scallops followed by duck leg confit. On Sunday, Harley the Corolla took us to the spectacular Lal Lal Falls and lunch at the Mill Cottage in Ballan, proving reliable on a second visit. I had an excellent lunch of field mushrooms, asparagus and egg with spicy tomato and onion, all fresh ingredients.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quiet week

It's been a quiet week, with an hiatus of work leaving time for a bit of tidying up, of bookshelves to make room for the books that came from Queensland and of some of the mess in my room. Other distractions (some of them wilful) have prevented this from moving very far, but I think if I do a bit each day I'll get there eventually. As well, Noel has now gone home and I've had one mercy dash this week to get his bed back on one of its blocks and a table back on its castors. Also, the computer failed to connect to the internet this morning and after a fruitless online session, I got the Iitechiis to come and fix it. Incredibly, I rang at about 8.30am and they (one was a trainee) were here by 10.30. I call that service.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mine's bigger than yours

After a fairly quiet Sunday (crossword, scrambled eggs), P. and I went to Mahler's 8th Symphony at the Melbourne Town Hall. It was presented for their 80th anniversary by the Zelman Symphony, who did their first concert in the Town Hall in 1933. Conducted by Mark Shiell with a number of community choirs making up a huge ensemble, it was a very impressive performance. A bank of 8 soloists sang very well against sometimes very large forces. Particularly impressive was Antoinette Halloran, soprano 1, but all of the performers were very moving. Mahler can be accused of never knowing when to shut up or of playing 'mine's bigger than yours', but in this case, there was never a dull moment and the one and a half hours sped by. Afterwards, we went home for oysters with piquant sauce (courtesy of Greg Malouf's recipe) and garlic prawns.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday, busy Saturday

Yesterday, P. and I picked up Harley the Corolla then Frank and went shopping. We then had a very pleasant brunch at Backstreet Eating then went to rehab. in Royal Park to visit Noel. He should be home on Monday, which will be both a relief and a fairly difficult trial, at least to start with. In the evening, it was off to South Melbourne, with Frank again, to more in our very busy week of concerts and theatre. Beforehand, we were going to a new Thai place but it didn't open until 6pm (the family were inside consuming a large roast chook). So we went for a walk and found, in the street behind the Town Hall, an excellent Indonesian restaurant. We were the only non-Asians in the place, a good sign. The food was excellent, especially Frank's beef redang. I'll try it next time. So now, with the Thai, we've got three eateries near the ANAM Town Hall. The concert itself, led by clarinetist, Michael Collins, included a fascinating reconstruction by Colin Matthews of a projected but never finished Britten clarinet concerto. It was a fine piece, conducted and played by Collins. Then Belgian trumpeter, Jeroen Berwaerts, played 'Nobody Knows the Trouble I See', a work by Bernd Zimmermann (no neither had we). He lived near Cologne but took inspiration from the old spiritual. A global village even in 1954. Next was Polish Witold Lutoslawski's concerto for orchestra from the same period, a very noisy and lively work for a large version of the ANAM orchestra. The extremely vigorous concert was remarkable, and also celebrated the centenary of the births of Britten and Lutoslawski.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dickins festival

In a week full of eating, theatre and music, last night was the second play in the 'Dickins festival'. It was 'Lost in Ringwood' at the Courthouse in Carlton in a very evocative production by Greg Carroll and two fine performances. Including songs by Faye Bendrups, the play concerned a poisonous (literally) mother and daughter lost in Ringwood. Somewhat surreal but compelling in its awfulness, the pair lie their way through an evening, alternatively expressing their dependence and venom. Beforehand, we had a superb meal at DOC Carlton, corner of Faraday and Drummond Street (the site of an erstwhile shooting). It is very popular, at least on Friday night, but probably all the time. Fortunately we were ushered upstairs away from the noisy downstairs and had a very pleasant dinner of buffalo mozzarella with anchovies, followed by a swordfish, pomegranate and aioli pizza. I know, it's appallingly trendy but it was also delicious. The menu is the same as in Mornington without the few pasta dishes. Pasta in Carlton would be like coals to Newcastle anyway.

Friday, September 20, 2013

All Haydn

Last night, P., Frank and I had a delicious pre-concert meal at Blondie (in the Recital Centre). P. and I had the bouillabaise entree, I had the seared tuna entree next followed by whiskey sticky date pudding with sorbet. Yummy, all of it. We then enjoyed a Melbourne Symphony all Haydn concert. In the Marie-Therese Mass, Fiona Campbell was superb in the mezzo part, but all the soloists and the chorines were good. The whole concert was played with verve and, almost as importantly, obvious enjoyment.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oven Poetry

As predicted, I made a trip yesterday to the Hospital to pick up drugs, thence to Royal Park Rehab to see Noel T. He now has a new leg (with plastic skin) and should be at home on 23 September. He is, unsurpisingly, going a bit stir crazy in rehab. In the evening, P. and I caught up with Barry D. outside 45 Downstairs on the way to his play 'A Kind of Fabulous Hatred' a fantasia on the last night of Sylvia Plath. It was a very powerful play with a great performance by Caroline Lee, in an evocation and reflection on Plath's life and language. We had a quick meal afterwards at Wagamama down the road.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I dream of...

Well, I don't really, but today I went to see Genie the nephrologist. My blood tests were fine, except she has adjusted my medication because my tacrolimus levels are up. Instead of taking 1mg morning and night, I now need to take .5mg in the morning, and 1mg at night until I see her in seven weeks' time. Unfortunately I've run out of .5mg so I'll have to go back to the hospital tomorrow to get them, so I'll probably visit Noel as well.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

To market, to market...

Yesterday, Frank joined P. and I in visiting the farmers' market and didn't buy a fat pig, but lots of other things like olive oil and rolled turkey breast. Then to the shopping mall and a quick lunch at Red Tongue which seems to be not as busy at it used to be. Out of fashion? A new cook who is not quite as good? New management? Thence to Hamer Hall for the Melbourne Symphony in a (nearly) all-English program with a Mozart piano concerto thrown in for popularity's sake. The pieces by Tippett, Britten and Elgar were all good. My father was there as well. Now for a festival of (two) Dickins plays over the next few days.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Debussy plus

On Wednesday night, P. and I had a quick meal at Blondie, not at the bar but inside. We both had two very satisfying entrees and a bottle of NZ riesling to celebrate the confirmation of our short trip there. Then we saw the Australian String Quartet perform Mendelssohn, Debussy, Ford and Part, all very crisp and good, especially the Debussy (his only quartet and a marker for music in the twentieth century). We sat for the first time in the balcony, which, though a long way from the doll-like figures on stage, still shares the excellent and clear acoustics of the whole venue. Today, I had to visit the vampires as a preamble to my visit to Genie next Monday. I also dropped in on Noel at rehab. as it is only a quick tramtrip from the Melbourne Hospital. Unfortunately, it was a very quick visit as he was whisked away to physio. He is progressing well though. Yesterday, he made it up some pretend tram steps in/with his new leg and will be taken soon by the therapist on a real tram trip. Yahoo!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Vote early...

We did vote early at the polling booth near Frank's place (the elderly cits) then picked up nearby Carmelita the Yaris, did the shopping and brunched at Gutz in Brunswick St, a very good Turkish snack place with tasty dishes and friendly service. Then off to Royal Park Rehab to see Noel. In the evening, we had a good election rogan josh and lemon delicious (not together) chez Frank and groaned through the election result. One of my wishes was fulfilled: Adam Bandt was re-elected and the other, the dumping of Sophie Mirabella might still be achieved. I have lost my bet on a hung parliament, though the Senate will be hung (and not well!). On Sunday, we had a deferred Father's Day lunch at St Crispin (300 Smith Street). We had an eight person table in the window and some very good food. They have a three-courses for $60 deal, which is quite good value for what you get, though the wines are a bit steep. I had a seafood melange for entree (shaved calamari, fish, oyster etc.), then the pork cheek which had a scrumptious sauce, then a chocolate dessert which was very tasty. The only problem with the place, which is fairly casual, is that it was full, counters and all, so it was quite noisy.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

My head is shpinning

I'm slowly emerging from the very intensive government job, the equivalent of producing a 220-page illustrated book in about five days. I've said goodbye to the proofs and probably won't see it again, unless it comes back for revisions in a few months' time after consultations. Phew! By way of relief, P. and I went last night for another bar meal at Blondie, near the Recital Centre. We had almost the same as last time and it was very satisfactory. Afterwards, we went into the Centre to hear 'Conversations with Ghosts' written by Paul Kelly and James Ledger, supported by Genevieve Lacey (recorder-player extraordinaire) and students from ANAM. It was a gripping 80-minutes rendering of poems written by major poets, Australian and foreign, and lyrics by Kelly himself, all around the cheery subject of death.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Pleasant weekend

We had late shopping on Saturday as we were waiting for a furniture delivery. The four dining chairs were easy but P. and Gus the delivery man had quite a job getting the display/book case upstairs. It was very heavy and just fitted round the stairs. We then had a quick shop with Frank and a nice brunch at Backstreet Eating, reliable as always. In the evening, we had a very pleasant dinner with Lesley P. whom we hadn't seen for a while. We finally went to Gorski and Jones in Smith Street which has imaginatively got a lot of space out of one shopfront. The meal was good though not cheap. On Sunday, P. and I went to the again ever reliable Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. It was a program of hoary old chestnuts by Bach, Schubert and Beethoven but delightfully clear with the smaller forces. Aura Go gave a very subtle performance in the Beethoven first piano concerto. We've had an avalanche of subscriptions for next year including the MCO.