Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Phone rings, door chimes...

Last night, P., Frank and I had a very good meal at Pei Modern, then went to 'Company' at 45downstairs. The production was spare but very good, making a good use of the space. Nick Simpson-Deeks made a good fist of Robert, the main role, all the better for not being a classic 'leading-man' type. The rest of the cast and the small musical combo were excellent and the value of the piece shone through. It's only on for a few days and nearly booked out but don't miss it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Big novel off to China

The very large novel (Book Two) has gone off to China. Shanghai, actually (we've bin there). I've enjoyed working on it, even though my role has been only to proofread and check a few names and facts. The author, a lawyer, is very good at court scenes which make up a large part of the book. In other news, the gas heater has been serviced with a new fan. We're off on the Western Highway again soon for a fine meal at the Royal Mail, Dunkeld and the Grampians in wildflower season. Meanwhile, 'phone rings, door chimes, in comes company'.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ballarat or bust

On Friday morning, I picked up Delila the Corolla and P. and I headed for Ballarat. We stopped for a yummy morning tea at the Mill Cafe in Ballan then had lunch with Carmel B. at the Art Gallery in Ballarat. The other aim was to have dinner with Nick, Kirrilly and their brood which we had at an eatery called Fu Man Lou (!!) a kind of dumpling joint. It was a very enjoyable occasion and it was good to catch up with the whole crowd of them, who seem to be doing quite well. Our hotel was Reid's Budget Guesthouse, a fine old pile which has seen better days. We didn't know that it had Rules. No alcohol. No telly after 10pm. We ignored those or we would have missed half of the last episode of 'Line of Duty'. But we won't be back, even though the room was capacious and comfy, if a little down at heel. On Saturday, we headed home, pausing for a short stroll at Werribee Gorge. As we had the car for the afternoon, we went shopping, then in the evening went to the Fairfax Studio for 'The Weir', an Irish play set in a pub with ghost stories. The stories were not especially scary but the performances and production were as good as you could wish, but the overall effect was a bit limp. Today, Sunday, we will just rest up after a very busy two days.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Thylacine triumph

P. and I went off to the Malthouse last night. We had a quick meal beforehand then saw 'They Saw a Thylacine', a play written and performed by Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton. The two-hander showed how two Tasmanian women interacted with the end of the thylacine. It was a moving account of conservation and sexism. Though the play was only an hour long, it had a far greater impact than many more long-winded exercises. Well worth seeing.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lively lunch

Phew! The final version of the large novel has gone back to the author for approval. Yesterday, P. and I had lunch at Huxtable with his friends Jan and Ian from Brisbane. There was lively conversation and the food for every course was very tasty indeed, a bit pricey for a normal lunch, but this was a special occasion.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Coffee concert plus

On Sunday, P. cooked Stephanie's famous roast chook which will keep us supplied for at least two other meals. On Monday night, we went to Frank's for some delicious beef spiced stew followed by strawberries and home-made ice cream. Delicious. This morning, it was off to the Recital Centre (AGAIN) for the Orava Quartet at the Musica Viva Coffee Concert. Frank was occupied at 3MBS so Sally came in his stead. It was an excellent program with Haydn, Mendelssohn and local Kym Dillon with a world premiere. The concert was well constructed and beautifully played.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

We had to do shopping on Saturday as P. had his Friday flicks with U3A and Frank was unavailable, being on air. So P. and I did normal shopping with Delila then had a very good brunch at our local, Dr Morse. More work intervened and I am going gangbusters to finish the big novel this week. Today, we resumed our residence at the Melbourne Recital Centre to see the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra Octet perform works by Stanhope (again a world premiere and very good), Bruch, refreshing, and Tchaikovsky 'Souvenir de Florence'. The works were variously (in order) double quartet, octet (including double bass, thanks Emma), and sextet (two violins, violas and cellos). To my disappointment, the sextet did not take their clothes off.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Brahms plus

Most of this week has been spent working on the big novel but last night P., Frank and I had a quick meal at Yoyogi then headed to the Recital Centre for what seems like an annual, Simone Young with the ANAM orchestra. There was a lush work by Paul Stanhope, some songs by Duparc expertly warbled by Emma Matthews, then after interval Brahms second symphony played with panache. It was an enthusiastic and great concert with the young orchestra giving their best for Young. Let's hope it repeats next year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Out bush

On the Saturday of our visit, we were picked up early by Christie, our driver and guide, for the next few days. There were only four of us tourists in a huge four-wheel drive bus, but the other two, New Zealanders, Shirley and Paul, were on a further five-day tour, so the normal requirement for six guests was waived. We were very lucky to be so well looked after. Christie drove the 200 kms along the old Corrugation Road, though its second 100 km is now sealed, so it is a bit easier. The dirt part had been graded three weeks earlier, but you would hardly know it. We arrived at Kooljamon via the beautiful churches at Beagle Bay and Lombadina communities. We had uprgraded to tent beds, rather than stretcher beds and had a bit more room to move and stand up. Christie cooked a good BBQ meal (all her meals were simple but good). We had a good swim on the beautiful beach then next day, Bardi guide Bundy took us on bush tucker and bird walk. Then we were off to Cygnet Bay pearl farm for a look around and then a launch trip by the islands of King Sound with its large tides causing big whirlpools and a horizontal waterfall over a reef. The boat then dropped us at the Kimberley Wild camp which is quite isolated, so the five of us dined on pasta in the middle of nowhere and slept in tents right on the beach. We then went to One Arm Point to see their aquaculture operation and loads of interesting sea creatures. Then on the long Corrugation Road back to Broome. On our last day, we lunched in Chinatown at a new eatery, described as Japanese fusion where we had dined a few days before. It is very good food indeed, with splendid local fish (and some not so local). However, given the homogenisation of Broome, I'd very much recommend, as well as the tourist things like sunset on Cable Beach, getting out of town a bit to see some of the real vast Kimberley.

Back from Broome

Late last night (Melbourne time), we got back from Broome after a bit over a week away. It was warm and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky, a few puffs on a couple of days. We flew via Sydney, had good flights (thank you, leprechaun) and settled into the Mercure (the old Conti). Its back bar, which used to be mainly populated by local Aboriginal people, is now an Irish bar! It was fairly typical of what has happened to Broome which is a kind of whitification. The old multicultural Broome is still there, but has been swamped by about 8,000 more white faces. As one visitor said, 'This is just a resort.' New acolohol restrictions might be meant well, but are clearly aimed at the Aboriginal population. Imagine having a rule that you can only buy booze IF YOU ARE IN A VEHICLE. No sales on foot unless you are a guest of the hotel. The night we arrived and the night we left, we had a meal at the very good Matso's brewery which makes its own beer and serves not bad munga. Next day, we visited Town Beach and the Historical Museum, and had a swim at our hotel (no crocs). Early the next morning, we were picked up and whisked away out of town to the Broome Bird Observatory to see an enormous number of shore birds whose numbers are just picking up. Unfortunately, their Chinese stopping habitat is fast disappearing, so their numbers are bound to dwindle. That night, we had a very pleasant dinner with Rachel Bin Salleh and family (including guest Alison Fong). We also went to Magabala Books in its new location next morning for a real blast from the past. When you enter Broome town by car, the first thing you come to is Magabala Books, then the next is Macca's.

Monday, September 07, 2015


Tonight, P. and I went to the Recital Centre to hear Wilma and Friends in a program called 'Americana'. It mainly featured pianist and composer Joe Chindamo with three commissioned works from very generous donors, who by the way are not uber-rich people but committed to music. There was also an early quartet from Charles Ives, which was wonderful. Smith was joined by Zoe Black (violin), Christopher Cartlidge (viola) and Rosanne Hunt (cello) and the composer himself. Afterwards, we had a cheap and cheerful at Yoyogi.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Happy 21st Michael Podesta

On Friday, P., Frank and I picked up Delila and went shopping and to pick up Frank's hifi plus other errands we needed to do, like pills and coffee (drugs). In the evening, we reconvened with Michael Podesta at The Commoner at the beginning of Melbourne celebrations for his 21st birthday. Can it really be that long? The meal was very good. In very short order, Kit and Nick turned up from the airport from Sydney. Kit, Nick and Michael had the feed-me option and enjoyed it. Frank, P. and I ordered a la carte. I had mushroom croquettes, wallaby tartare and kingfish ceviche followed by a decadent mandarin trifle dessert. Replete we bussed home. On Saturday, K. and N. went to the Collingwood pool, then we joined my sister and her husband at the Crab Shack for a good lunch of various fishy things and had a good catch up. In the evening, K. and N. went off to do the pubs with Michael and some French young women who are staying with the Podestas (Air BNB). Today, we're off to Docklands for the oldies yum cha as yet another birthday celebration which turned out to be a lot of fun. The place was packed as it is Father's Day but our two tables had lots of food and chat. Kit and Nick headed to the airport to go back to Sydney and everyone else headed home. It was good to catch up with some people I hadn't seen for a while like Lesley's mum, Margaret, and Angela Bolger.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Master Class

Last night, after a busy day's work, I went with P. and Frank for a very good meal at Pei Moderne, thence to 45downstairs to see Terrence McNally's play 'Master Class'. Maria Mercedes did a wonderful job of playing Maria Callas, ably supported by the rest of the class. It was a tour de force, well worth seeing. We were also surrounded by thespians (I said thespians, not lesbians) asit was opening night. On my side was a blast from the past. I narrowly resisted asking her, 'What do we do now, Bea?'

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Busy working

Over the weekend, I worked hard on both projects on the go, the government one and the novel, so that by Monday I was able to send the government one in completed, for this stage and was well enough advanced on the novel to be sure I could get enough done by the time we go to Broome. On Saturday, P. went to the Melbourne Symphony with Frank and on Monday morning, I went to town to Mr Tulk at the State Library to catch up with Max Lane and his partner after a very long time. It was good to get his news and find out about how he is going in Indonesia. On Monday night, P. and I went to the program launch for 2016 at the Malthouse. It was a bit disappointing. How can a so-called theatre company keep a theatre full of people waiting for half an hour with nothing happening? They could have had circus, stand-up or anything to keep the crowd entertained. The program for next year doesn't seem too good either, but we'll subscribe and see. Last chance, folks.