Friday, July 31, 2015


Last night, P., Frank and I went for a quick Mexican meal in Swan Street, then marched up the Richmond Hill to St Stephen's Anglican Church for a concert by the Melbourne Metropolitan Sinfonietta. A small symphony orchestra, they played six works (one a premiere) by six Australian women composers. It was a very pleasant concert of varied works conducted by Sascha Kelly and well played by the ensemble.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Last night, P. and I went to the Collingwood Historical Society AGM, always a good event because the inestimable committee always invites a good guest speaker. This year, like last, was at the Leinster Arms in Gold Street, Collingwood, which is an inviting eatery (once frequented by the late Chopper Read). The food is solid and good value. This year's speaker was historian Dr Val Noone (descended from the Noones of Noone Street). He spoke of Daniel Mannix's opening foray into the World War I conscription debate from a bazaar in Queen's Parade. This began his championing of the cause and vilification from some quarters. Later in life, he became quite conservative but at this point he was a quite radical champion of the working class. Dr Noone gave a convincing exposition of this point of view. We were also pleased to catch up with Teresa P. who was there with many University of the Third Age afficionados.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Good Greek Girl

After a morning doing the Sunday crossword, P. and I went in the bus, tram and tram to West Brunswick to Lesley P. and Louise L.'s place for a 'salon'. It was Maria Katsonis talking about her book, 'A Good Greek Girl', which is about the stigma of mental illness and how to combat it. Many other themes are treated in the book, including Greek families. Being a lesbian coming out in a Greek family was central. There was a good roll-up and many people brought good nibblies. There were thoughtful questions and a good atmosphere (P. and I were the token men). We went home to a duck dinner (delicious) cooked by P. and the end of the Tour de France which was pretty stunning this year (both the racing and the scenery). Unfortunately, the wet cobblestones caused a few rather nasty crashes in both the women's and men's sprints.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Busy Saturday

Yesterday was Melbourne Open House. P. and I decided to try again after a pause last year, but it was a victim of its own success, like Amsterdam. We couldn't get into the Salvation Army in Bourke Street for their tour of the old Limelight Studios, nor to the office building on the corner of Exhibition and Little Collins. We retreated to the Myer Mural Hall only to find I had misread the program and it was open on Sunday, not Saturday. Last ditch effort was at RMIT, where we saw two buildings including the Design Hub. Both were, to me, architectural failures. The first, a new one in Swanston Street, by Lyons Architects, was too jangly, angley and brightly coloured to be comfortable and relaxing, while the Design Hub was industrial minimal, all metal surfaces and spareness, again very uncomfortable and uninviting. Architects need to think more about the purpose of their buildings and less about the impression they are making. We then met up with Tricia B. for brunch at the European in Spring Street. It was a very good meal with excellent service and we had a good catch-up. In the evening, we went to 'I am a Miracle' at the Malthouse, a slightly bemusing play starring a curtain that moved forward and a large revolving square in the centre, both of which seemed to have very little purpose. The human cast, however, were excellent. We followed up with a quick late meal at Trotters in Carlton.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Stunning Stagg

Again, we huddled by the heater, but went out last night (Thursday) to the Recital Centre to hear Siobhan Stagg, accompanied by Eldit Golder, sing music by Korngold and Strauss. The recital was well appreciated by a sellout audience in the Salon and Stagg's heartfelt versions of the songs and operatic excerpts kept everyone on the edge of their seats or in tears. Afterwards, we had a quick and good meal at Blondie next door.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cold but warmed by Sweeney

We spent Sunday and Monday huddled by the heater, but on Tuesday ventured with Frank to the city for the usual at Yoyogi, then to the Arts Centre Playhouse for Victorian Opera's production of 'Sweeney Todd', a splendid production which was by Stuart Maunder. Everything about it was good including the well-worked 'ensemble' (so many costume changes). Antoinette Halloran was impeccable as Mrs Lovett, and even though Teddy Tahu Rhodes' acting was a bit wooden, his voice was splendid. The show is touring to three NZ cities. I hope the New Zilanders and the cast enjoy it.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Molto musica

Yesterday, Frank and I went with Delila to do the normal shopping, then picked up P. (after his next dentist appointment), to have lunch. We tried the Rochester Hotel with the kitchen run by Katie's Crab Shack and had a very good meal, though my serve of fried chicken was so large (nearly a whole chook) that it had to be shared with P. My mash and gravy was very yummy. In the evening, we went to the Australian Youth Orchestra conducted by Mark Elder (I'll omit the 'Sir' which they give out like lollies in the misnamed 'United' Kingdom or 'Great' Britain). However, he did conduct well and the young players gave splendid renditions of Debussy's 'La Mer' and Mahler's thundering Sixth Symphony. It took a while to come down afterwards watching a very thrilling stage of the Tour de France finishing in beautiful Rodez. Then on Saturday arvo., we made it just in time because of heavy traffic to Humour Hall to see the Melbourne Symphony in a varied program starting with Sibelius' 'Valse Triste' and Seventh Symphony (a bit pale after Mahler), then a splendid world premiere of a Percussion Concerto by Ian Grandage performed with panache by Claire Edwards. It was a thrilling work much appreciated by the ageing audience. A bomb on Hamer Hall would have saved the state a fortune in future aged care. The concert ended with Ravel's 'Bolero' which was, well, Ravel's 'Bolero' but it was quite well done. Home for beer-battered whiting from Lakes Entrance.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lots of things

The week started with the cleaners making their fortnightly visit and leaving behind their squeegee (which they returned for while I had lunch). Pui foxed me after we got back from Vietnam by asking which I preferred, Vietnam or Thailand (which she comes from). I said it was impossible to say as one was a capitalist country and the other a socialist one and they were very different, which is true. Peter and I each went separately to the Health Centre to top up on pills. On Tuesday, we went in Delila to see George P. and take him a memory stick with his writing on it, which fortunately I had saved on my computer and had been gobbled up by his. He will give me updates as they occur in future. Frank came round for an excellent roll of roast lamb dinner (even if I do say so myself). On Wednesday, I spoke again to the Neighbourhood Justice Centre about Barry D.'s book. The e-book version is being laid out at present. In the evening, we had an excellent meal at Pei Modern in the Collins Place building, then went to 45downstairs for 'Cuckoo' a very good and intriguing play by Jane Miller. The performances were all excellent and it was well directed, about a nineteen-year-old man who turns up to a couple who lost their infant son. He purports to be that son.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday lunch

We were enticed out into the cold by Lesley P.'s invitation to lunch at Benjamin's Kitchen in Heidelberg Road, Alphington (diagonally opposite Dan Murphy's). It's a kind of Asian fusion menu. I had the soft crab roll (in fact there were two) and the tuna barely seared with soba noodles and salad. They have a really peculiar crumbed calamari with spiced, crushed corn flakes (!) and P. of course had the pork belly (after the equally inevitable prawn dumplings). It is well worth a visit, but make sure that you book as it is very popular.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lots of shopping

On Friday, Frank and I went in Delila the Corolla to Victoria Gardens. P. was at the dentist, poor thing, for the first stage of an expensive crown. He got home in time for lunch and we went up to Gertrude Street feeling very trendy to the pop-up Broadsheet Restaurant which later in the year is going to become yet more yunits, plus ground-floor shoppes. The idea is that they use dishes from a number of other trendy restaurants to make up a menu. It seemed to work well, though we only tried the lunch menu, but our three choices were all good. P. had the burger on a blackened (?) bun, Frank the Reuben Sandwich on Rye, and I had salmon, cream cheese and devilled egg on rye. It was all delicious and not to expensive, as I had feared. On Saturday morning, P. slept in, so I went to the Farmers Market alone and got a roast of lamb, full cream milk, cheese and fish (put in the freezer for next week). Now we'll snuggle up inside for the coming cold days.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Too busy to blog

On Friday, P., Frank and I did normal shopping with Delila the Corolla, then had a splendid brunch at Addict which was exceptionally tasty. In the evening, P. went to dinner with Robin and friends, we had a quiet weekend, then a very nice dinner chez Noel on Sunday night. On Monday morning, I was up early for a scan of my chest at the Club (post-penumonia). It was in the 'private' pathology at the Hospital and I had one of the best vampires I've ever had, Shemira from Iran, to cannulate me (new verb which they used). It was very quick and painless. Home again and picked up Delila in the arvo ready for our two-day holiday on the Mornington Peninsula. We set off early on Tuesday morning for Peninsula Spa which turned out to be very good, in spite of it being school holidays. We were, of course, oblivious to this. However, it wasn't too crowded as kiddies are restricted from much of the spa. Unlike the spa at Hepburn Springs which has a lot of continentals, this one had mainly skippies and Asians. Everyone was very friendly and considerate. The outdoor setting wasn't too cold on a not very hot day, though it would be unpleasant in the rain I suppose. The landscaping is splendid. Also, we visited the Old Quarantine Station in the Point Nepean Park which was very absorbing and London Bridge which was near the Mercure, where we were staying. We had a good if rather strange night at the hotel in the golf club in Portsea. Their eatery was closed so we went to the Continental in S'reno which was not bad. Their aglio e olio prawns were very spicy. Next day, we had a good drive along the beach to Mt Martha, though the stretch of houses at Safety Beach is truly appalling and should never have been allowed. We dropped in for a coffee with Julie and Roger W. and had a good gossip about our health, our parents' demises and travel plans. Their new house and garden are delightful. We planned a visit to McClelland Gallery on the way home, and maybe lunch, but couldn't even get a park, never mind lunch, so just went straight home. School holidays again and the place was dripping with sprogs. In the evening, we had pork chops for dinner with garlic potatoes and chili spinach.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Busy day

I started yesterday early with an 8.30am appointment at the Respitory Lab at the Club (Royal Melbourne). This was a follow-up for my pneumonia to see if my lung function was okay. The man said it was, even though my fake nose prevented a proper testing. In the arvo., P., Frank and I went to Fitzroy for Dick Barnes' memorial 'service'. Even though it was led by his reverend father-in-law it was fairly secular and the family and friend tributes were very moving (and funny). It was a good end-off though the efffects of his passing will be felt for a long time. We then went to Yoyogi for a cheap and cheerful meal and off to Hamer Hall for a concert performance of Bellini's 'I Puritani'. The bar didn't have bellinis on offer, but as P. said, 'It's not peach season.' The show was excellent with all the principals (and chorus) doing a fine job. Jessica Pratt was outstanding as Elvira, ably supported by Celso Hernandez in the tenor role. The bass and baritone duo Paul Whelan and Nathan Lay were excellent, as was Tania Ferris in a minor role (I'd like to see more of her). It was a three-hour marathon and it took a while to come down afterwards, especially as we saw it from the second row (thanks Victorian Opera).

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

More Female Parts

Last night, P. and I went to the Arts Centre to have a meal at the new eatery, Teatro, under Hamer Hall. It was quite good, sort of tapas style, but not cheap and not near as good as Movida. We then went to Evelyn Krape's 'More Female Parts' in the Fairfax Studio. It was a fine, bravura performance from Evelyn Krape, well directed by Lois Ellis. Though the script by Sara Hardy sparkled in parts, it didn't completely work, so the performer worked hard to less effect than was needed really. The best piece was the most literal, the first 'Can't Sleep, Can't Sleep'. As the show got more fastastic, it lost energy and relevance, to me. Perhaps cutting the third piece back a bit (it did go on a bit) and adding a rather more punchy fourth might have worked better. However, it was not a wasted evening: there were enough gems to satisfy.