Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Very quiet day

This morning, I got ready for the end-of-month tomorrow. P. went off to do shopping for Noel T. (just some extras after the main shop). Tonight, leftover soto for dinner.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tour finish

Up early this morning for the last stage into Paris with no big dramas or changes. Not a bad finish with my pick, Tom Dumoulins, coming second, and my wish for not winning (Chris Froome) coming true. The only-cyclist-in-the-village, Geraint Thomas, was a good winner. A bit of computering before soup for lunch (tinned). In the evening, we had leftover moussaka for dinner, followed by baby cheeses. Normal Monday night teev to follow.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

At home day then into the woods

P. ventured out yesterday (Saturday) to do some shopping twice: once to the Convent Market and once to the IGA. I stayed home and did some computer work. All of our Kangaroo Island holiday is now done. We had pies for lunch from the market and P. made delicious moussaka for dinner with some leftover for later in the week and some in the freezer. I made soto ayam for tomorrow. More teev and Tour de France later. On Sunday morning, we finished the crossword earlier than we ever had, then headed to Southern Cross to join Polly, Rennis and Sally on the train to Castlemaine. There we joined Ann de H. to go to Grenada eatery for a splendid Spanish lunch in memory of Liz Kelly. It is 27 years since she died and I pondered what has changed since then. Probably not much, though some people suggested that the cult of the celebrity has got stronger especially with the rise of social media. Home again in the freezing cold early evening for soto ayam and the departure of Lee Lin Chin from SBS. Jack Irish and Vera followed but the Tour's end will have to wait till the morning.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Very chamber

This morning I've been still tidying up the Adelaide/Kangaroo Island trip, plus getting some other chores done. For some reason, I am resisting doing the filing. I wonder why? It surely can't be that I hate doing it. I also arranged for flowers to go to Margaret O'Brien and Ing Nelly for the launch of Ing's book next week as I can't be in Perth. They are both wonderful women. P. and I went to the Recital Centre in the evening for a very nice meal at Blondie, then the Australian Chamber Orchestra in trio mode. Richard Tognetti has a minor arm problem so his place was taken by Kristian Winther (erstwhile of Australian String Quartet). He was joined by Scottish pianist Steven Osborne and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve. They performed the slow movements from two Schubert piano trios and Dvorak's Dumky trio, followed by Brahms' trio no. 1. Too much of any of these composers is not enough. It was a bravura concert followed by bravura performances at the Tour de France which will be effectively over in just one day. At home, I checked as Winther was listed in the program as having joined the Australian piano quartet. There was no evidence of this on the web and the APQ website still lists Rebecca Chan as the violinist. I suppose the web hasn't caught up yet with ructions in the chamber world. The APQ is now apparently all male, not a good look these days.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hit the Ground Running

Yesterday (Tuesday), we picked up Franz the Corolla and did our shopping plus some for Noel and delivered that. Home again for salmon fishcakes for lunch, then a quickie at Yoyogi before Bell Shakespeare's excellent Julius Caesar. It was a very good production. The Bell Shakespeare audience is refreshing. Perhaps Shakespeare weeds out the wankers. The only problem with some of the cast was articulation. Perhaps it's a problem of growing up with microphones. Today (Wednesday), had a bit of space to catch up on some administration and accumulated emails plus some booking for our forthcoming trip to Kangaroo Island. In the evening, I went to a seminar organised by Monash University Law School on Freedom of Religion or Freedom from Religion. Chaired by Damien Carrick from the Law Report, the speakers were Luke Beck whose book about religion in the Australian constitution was launched by Mark Dreyfus, shadow attorney-general at a little too much length, Ron Merkel QC an ex-judge, Gillian Triggs, Fiona Patten whom I had already met chez Noel, and Morgan somebody from the Institute for Paid Advocacy. He actually said that the provision of services was a contract between the provider and the purchaser and that therefore the provider could refuse the contract. Pressed on whether this meant that a bus service could refuse a black customer, he said, amazingly, 'Yes'. He also quoted the bogus Bishop Porteus case from Tasmania, which is a lie constantly dredged up about free speech. When I challenged him on this at the end, he didn't really know what Porteus had said. I suggested that in that case he shouldn't use it as an example. The general drift of the panel was directed towards a view that if an organisation (such as a school, hospital or charity) received government money, it should not be able to discriminate. Apparently, it has recently been ruled that aged-care facilities run by churches cannot discriminate, as an exception to their general right to do so. It is a very vexed question, particularly in respect to schools. I came home on the train with much to think about and had a scratch meal at home. P. had already eaten.

Far and Away: Sydney

Sir Stamford, the hotel, is very comfy though hardly budget and we settled in on Friday before heading off for dinner at Bea at Barangaroo with Kit, her son Ben and his friend Hayden and Jo U. It was a great meal in a good location and we went off into the night replete with food, plonk and good talk. On Saturday, we went to the police and crime museum next door which was great for social history, thence to the Museum of Contemporary Art which had some good exhibitions including Chinese artist, Sun Xun. We also had a good lunch at their rooftop courtyard which has one of the best views in Sydney. We swallowed our principles about underpaying chefs and went to Rockpool's Bar Patron for an excellent short evening meal of the Mexican variety (and it was just around the corner). The food was quite reasonably priced. I think they are counting on you drinking a lot, including their $100 margaritas. On Sunday, we met Kit in Croydon and went to the local nursing home to see Neville who is recovering slowly from bedsores and might be out in about a month. It was good to catch up. We then went to Queen Chow in Newtown where Kit gave us a delicious lunch with dumplings and desserts. Back at the Stamford, we had, wait for it, a fondue (!!) evening meal in the bar. On Monday, we went back to Barangaroo to see their waterfront park which was very impressive but small compared to the huge commercial development and casino next door. Thence to the Art Gallery for two very impressive exhibitions: John Russell, the Australian/French impressionist and the Archibald (so-so), Wynne and Sulman prizes (very interesting). Off to the airport on the convenient train near the hotel, a bite to eat at Movida at the airport and then to Melbourne via Virgin after a great little holiday.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Far and away: Moss Vale

Last Wednesday, P. and I got up early and caught the XPT going from Southern Cross to Sydney, but we got off at Moss Vale around 6pm. It was a very pleasant train trip, helped by being in first class (but on senior concession). The catering is not plush, but the microwaved meals are very good value and in the afternoon we had devonshire coffee. We had good books to read and the scenery was great. We were picked up by Nick and daughter Allie and then went to their place where Kirrilly had cooked a huge dinner. The whole family was there, Maggie, David and Mark plus Paul from France (the brother of the young girl who was an exchange student with them years ago). Next morning, Nick took David, Mark, Paul, Allie and Maggie and us on a tour of the local lookouts (very spectacular) and a few of the many local wineries. In the evening, we had quite a cheery meal at the Moss Vale Taphouse. P. and I stayed at the golf club Dormie House, which was a bit old-fashioned but quite comfortable with a good breakfast. On Friday, Allie took us to the train where we left for Sydney, arriving at Circular Quay quite close to our hotel, Sir Stamford, where we have stayed before. The only catch is that the hotel, in Macquarie Street, is uphill, so it's quite a climb to get there requiring stops for rests along the way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ready to go

This morning, I tidied up leftover admin. tasks and went to the bank. P. went to lunch with the S. sisters. We had leftover chook from last night for dinner then watched leftovers on tellie. We both packed for Sydney in between watching the Tour de France near Annecy.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Quiet Monday

I finished off the short novel this morning and sent it off to the author so my desk is clear before going to Sydney. I also received a hefty wine delivery and did some more holiday sorting. We had leftover fritatta and onion soup for lunch and P. cooked a delicious roast chook for lunch. We watched the Helpmann Awards which were boring beyond belief. Whoever wrote the script on the autocue deserves a PhD in banality and cliche.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Papers then operatic archery

Yesterday, all the Saturday papers arrived AGAIN, so we settled in for good reading and P. went to the Farmers' Market for various goodies including quiches for lunch. We joined Frank in the early evening for a very good dinner at Cicciolina's in Acland Street. Then we were off to the Palais for William Tell presented by the Victorian Opera. Richard Mills, the conductor, had done a great job with the whole team in presenting a splendid, if spare, production, beautifully sung and dramatically effective. It was the first Australian production since 1876, a long time between arrows. Now, on Sunday, the crossword is finished early, so there's time for some novel, then off to lunch with my sister, Julie, and her husband, Ian, for lunch at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in the city where we were surprised by huge numbers of people lunching before heading to Her Majesty's for The Rocky Horror Show! We had a good lunch, a mag and a look at Ian's Kimberley photos. P. cooked steaks for dinner and we watched Jack Irish and the Tour de France (interspersed with Vera).

Friday, July 13, 2018

Shopping plus not much else

We went to Victoria Gardens this morning with Franz (but not Frank) and did normal shopping for us and for Noel. We delivered Noel's to him then came home for fritatta lunch. In the evening, we had beer-battered fish followed by baby cheeses and Endeavour then Tour de France. A very quiet day. Oh, and I finished off the short story and sent it off; now, only the short novel to go.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Barber not of Seville and Coral Browne

This morning, I went off in search of a new barber. I tried two in Johnston Street, both closed. One opposite the Trades Hall said I would have to wait an hour and a half for an appointment. Back in Johnston Street, this time in Carlton, I struck oil and got a good haircut. Morning wasted. We met Frank in the evening for a very good meal at Mamasita at the top of Collins Street, though it is very popular and hence very noisy with lots of wood surfaces, not a fabric to be seen. We loved the Asian-Mexican fusion (most of the kitchen staff were Asian). Then off to 45downstairs to see Genevieve Mooy as Coral Browne, a very funny one-woman show which was also very moving.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Very pleasant work

More work this morning on the short stories and the novel, both of which I should finish tomorrow. P. went off to do some shopping for Noel (eaten out of house and home by dinner guests). We then had tinned tomato soup for lunch. In the evening, I made an onion and rosemary fritatta before which we had French onion soup. That was a lot of onion. It is hard to resist the Tour de France but we both went to bed before the end.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

More stories

Back in China this morning finishing off the first story and starting on the second, as well as beginning a last proof on the new novel. The ABC noted (among other names) the Aboriginal name for the Collingwood flat where we live, Yalla-birr-ang. I'll try to learn it. It's better than Abbotsford. We had leftover vera bol. on toast for lunch. After a nap, we went to the Recital Centre for the usual excellent performance by Syzygy, this time still channeling Debussy with his cello sonato followed by three works by Australian composers all with lunar references, the third being songs to poems by Apollinaire sung by Jacqueline Dark. We then repaired to the NGV for a wonderful members only viewing of the MOMA exhibition where we revelled in being able to see it without the crowds. It is a great exhibition and we will return for a more crowded look. After 8.30pm on a Tuesday we went in search of 'vibrant' Melbourne for dinner. Southbank had mostly closed down, though we eventually found Tutto Bene for a very good meal. Melbourne is certainly not the city that never sleeps.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Off to the past

This morning, P. and I went to the NGV Potter to catch Colony, a large exhibition which shows artwork and objects up to 1861 in Australia, interweaving settler things and Aboriginal things in a very telling way. It is hard to take in at one viewing (P. had been before) but I'm glad not to have missed it before it goes off shortly. I was particularly interested in the parts which showed Hobart around the time the first members of my family arrived. What a dump! Its companion exhibition: Colony: the frontier wars is on till September. We had lunch in Fed Square at a soup and sandwich place which was quite good. Meanwhile, the cleaners had whizzed through the house. They have obviously decided that P. and I are real slobs, so to lift our act they have offered to clean out one cupboard or drawer in the kitchen at each visit. (They will force us to clean out the mankier ones to preempt them.) We also increased their pay by $10 as they hadn't had an increase for ages and they didn't take it. W'll have to phone them. In the early evening, we had unfrozen vera bolognese for dinner then went into the Arts Centre to see Robyn Archer sing songs from cabaret in Germany in the '20s and '30s. It was a combination of well-known and unusual songs but all with a contemporary purpose, the current rise of right wing politics. It was a clear warning and Archer has lost none of her skill and touch.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Quiet Sunday

The Sunday Age arrived today for a change and we did the crossword lickety-split. A bit more planning of next year's possible trip followed plus a bit of housekeeping on bills and so on. We had salmon cakes for lunch. After a pleasant nap, I'm making beer-battered fish for dinner followed by the new Jack Irish.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Shopping plus

Yay! All of the papers were delivered today. I hope this is the start of a trend. We had a busy, busy morning with Franz this morning (but not Frank). First we had to pick up a book from the post office (Grrr! Australia Post left a card when I was five feet from the door). Then, we went to the Health Centre as I needed some pills. Thence to Brunswick Street for coffee beans and then to Victoria Gardens for P. and my shopping and Noel's. We dropped things at home, then at Noel's and had leftovers on toast for lunch. In the evening, after a nap, P. made leftover Asian chicken for dinner, which was delicious, then we settled in for the start of the Tour de France, which had a few thrills and spills. We'll see what happens next.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Story plus Myki

Today, I did a bit of work on the Chinese story which arrived yesterday plus (long overdue) checked my Myki account for errors. Unlike the last two times, this time there was only one error over six months and Myki had cheated themselves by $1.15. I won't be sending them a cheque. P. went to U3A to discuss Garrison Keillor. We had leftover lamb shanks for dinner and settled back with the teev.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Planning (hush, hush)

This morning, I did more housekeeping, saving my computer contents to my remote hard disk. I also did some more planning for next year's holidays, so far a big secret. (I'm only joking: we're tossing up between going to Europe, to maybe meet up with David in Cannes and do other things or go to Te Waipounamu, South Island of NZ for non-Maoris). P. went off for lunch with Robin Shaw and I finished off the pea and ham soup, at last. In the evening, P. and I went to Fatto, near Homo Hall, for a very tasty dinner, though not cheap, then into Homo Hall for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simone Young. They played the Britten violin concerto in D minor, with soloist Kolja Blacher. It was very enjoyable and hard to believe Britten wrote it when he was only 26. I suppose Mozart was nearly dead by then! This was followed by Bruckner's symphony no. 6 in A. Young did a very energetic conducting job and the orchestra produced a big sound. There were large forces (8 double basses for example). It was very hard to come down after such a big sound.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Not the usual housekeeping but computer housekeeping. Tidying up things on the computer files and also collecting more information for my tax return. I think I have all of it now. P. went off for a checkup at the Health Centre and got his flu vaccination. I can't have one as it has a live component in it. I had some of the never-ending pea and ham soup for lunch while P. lunched out. In the early evening, I went up to Mario's to see Louis Dickins' exhibition and caught up briefly with him, Barry and Sarah Mockridge as they arrived. Home again for P.'s delicious chicken chinois a la David Herbert. It was delicious!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Tax to the max

This morning, I spent most of my time collecting information so that I can fill in my tax return as soon as it has performed its autofill tasks which might take a while. It will also allow me to check the autofills, which I didn't do last year and probably diddled myself out of some money as a refund. I struck a problem when Computershare (computer says no) threw up a security question which I had never set up. 'What is your favourite movie quote?' I have no idea. I tried a few obvious ones then it blocked me for not knowing. I'll see what happens when I'm removed from the naughty corner but I might have to ring them up to sort it out. P. and I had pea and ham soup for lunch, and there is still some left! In the evening, we went to Yoyogi for a quick meal, thence to the Recital Centre for the Australian String Quartet (minus Mrs Gegoryan on maternity leave, plus Michael Dahlenburg standing in) for a great concert with Beethoven's last and first (composed) string quartets sandwiched between an (almost) contemporary work by Jorg Widman called the Hunting quartet in which the cello gets murdered! It was a good value concert.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Long lunch

Yesterday (Sunday), after the crossword, we joined Margaret N. and some of her available friends at the North Fitzroy Arms (run by the indefatigable Percy Jones) for lunch which went on till after 5. The food and the company was good and it was a change being in a nice space where you could talk (though not so good for the establishment as we were the only people in the dining room). In the evening, I cooked garlic scallops, preceded by pea and ham soup and followed by baby cheeses. Today, I did some more work on my tax return, while P. went off to the pharmacy to get drugs to deliver to Noel T. I also made slow-cooked lamb shanks for dinner.