Category Archives: Australia

Australia, Melbourne – the bits of life I am not so keen on at the moment and my friend Misery Bear

I have been fairly optimistic so far in my posts about all the things that are ok about the current situation – and generally I do feel pretty ok and entertained but of course there are a few things that I find particularly irritating (but not the end of the world for sure:).

CLEANING AN APARTMENT – I am renting one while in Melbourne and to be honest I haven’t done much in the way of cleaning my own place for decades – if I was down to my last dollar I would find a way to pay for someone else to do it for me. Of course not possible these days and my German mother taught me well so I have not forgotten how to use a mop or a vacuum cleaner but in the intervening years things have moved on.

Here is the mop and bucket – now with a nifty pedal to push down on to spin the mop dry before you use it – very clever.

Dripping wet before and then after the pedal is pushed and the spinner spins – totally dry – who knew?

Even vacuum cleaners are not what I remember – now they are slim and cordless (for up to 40 minutes although who in their right mind would vacuum for that long anyway?)

New (at least to me) style vacuum cleaner.

My ignorance may shock some but I have to confess that driving a rental car a couple of years ago in New Zealand after not driving for about 15 years was the first time I noticed that cars didn’t need keys to start them any more!

Will I ever get any joy out of housework? – absolutely not. I do not have a domestic bone in my body BUT like Maslow suggested – we all have our own hierarchy of needs and my need for a clean and tidy environment just marginally exceeds my intense dislike of cleaning. Although, I have to add that cleaning, while dull and time consuming, is not that difficult and I have concluded that even a man could do it!

CANCELLING OR HAVING STUFF CANCELLED – seems particularly onerous when you are permanently on the road and lots of things – flights, accommodation, cruises, theatre, exhibitions etc have been booked in advance. Some refunds are easier to obtain than others and at the moment whether it is a refund or a voucher it takes ages so having to set up a bookkeeping business to keep track of ensuring that eventually everything works out. Clearly when I can travel again my destinations will be based on what flight vouchers I have to use up by the end of 2021.

LACK OF PERSONAL SERVICES – this is really first world stuff – no nail bars (why are my toes so much further away from me than they used to be?); no brow or lash bars, no beauticians BUT thankfully hair salons are considered essential services here so I have not had to embrace grey (as if that is ever going to happen while I am still breathing).

Colour restored and I feel GOOD! (Thanks to Del on Commercial Road)

FAMOUT AND NOT SO FAMOUS CELEBRITIES TRYING TO “CHEER US UP” – please just stop. The disappointment of hearing people who I usually love to watch live with a band and other enhancements just singing to us in their pyjamas and beanie hats or in their post bath towels – is not working for me. Mostly I feel I could do just as well as them singing in my shower – which I will definitely not be broadcasting to all and sundry. I’ll just listen to the versions that sound really good on Spotify thanks.


PEOPLE MOANING ABOUT HOW AWFUL ISOLATION IS – Get a Grip! No bombs falling out of the sky; no hunger (or even toilet paper rationing); many parts of the world where you can still go for one walk a day; so much available entertainment and education at home; alcohol still considered essential; people who are lucky enough to have jobs can work from home and keep them.

The really tough time will be after we can all go out again and it will last a lot longer. But that’s just my view…..

Videos, GIFS and Memes – some funny others not so much but given sense of humour differs so much this is the one (thanks to Jane and John) that creases me up every time I watch it and is my favourite – especially for my solo friends and travellers.

Now I am going to stop complaining about things that aren’t really worth complaining about and head out on my daily stroll so that I can listen to the wonderful Oliver Kitteridge Again on Audible., Yesterday I saw these and from now on optimism will be back on my agenda:)

Australia, Melbourne – Nomadic life of the solo traveller now VERY challenged – but here’s what I am gaining from lockdown (part 1B) – What I’m learning about, what I’m watching, how I’m staying connected and how I’m keeping things a “bit normal”.

While I am still enjoying my daily walks in South Yarra (and thankfully we are having a very mild Autumn so far) mostly on my own but sometimes with the allowed “one other person at a distance”, I am also quite enjoying the time indoors as well thanks to modern technology. I really feel for some of my friends in countries where exercise outdoors is prohibited – hang on in there….

WHAT I’M LEARNING – Thanks to my friend Felicity for introducing me to free online learning – especially Edx and Khan Academy. So far I have taken three History of Art courses – and I really like the make up of written text and video and the fact that everything is in short sharp bites of info. I am now working through 20th century World History – WW1 covered and now onto WW2 (not the most cheerful of topics but especially of interest to me having spent a few months in Eastern Europe last year). Here’s an extract of a Khan Academy course page -how fantastic to be able to learn more about things that interest me for FREE! I think they are really great.

Extract of sub courses on 20th century history from Khan Academy

While my friend Marjory was over we became avid watchers of The Chase – twice a day – the UK version at 3pm and the Aussie version at 5pm. I love a quiz and although it was more fun shouting out the answers with someone else in the room I am getting used to talking to myself anyway so I shout them out to an empty room. I love knowing a little about a lot of things and it appeals to my competitive nature!

My favourite Chaser is Paul the Sinnerman

WHAT I’M WATCHING – And then there is Netflix. Whenever I travel I like to pick a genre of tv series to watch – for this Covid19 I am mostly focussing on non English speaking TV series (with subtitles – never dubbing which I hate!). My faves over the past few weeks are Money Heist (Spain), Fauda (Israel), The Break (France), Unorthodox (Yiddish and German), Giri/Haji (Japanese/English), The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch (Yiddish/German), Bonus Family (Swedish). And on my forthcoming list are The Valhalla Murders and Babylon Berlin. I generally prefer the quality of writing for TV series over movies – especially if watching at home.

Love this series

ACHIEVING SOME THINGS EVERY DAY -I have decided that while I am living comfortably in leggings, t shirts and sweatshirts – I will shower, dress and even put on my usual make up every day (that’s just my thing, I am not preaching). I also try to plan each day with a bit of an itinerary to give shape to my day and to help satisfy my achievement oriented personality! Even though I don’t work anymore I do like to organise my time and have some sense of achievement at the end of the day. So my current daily agenda might be something like: Get up, shower, get dressed and made up; watch news for no more than 30 minutes (everything is repeated after that); take my daily 10,000 step walk; buy groceries as needed; take an online class; read for an hour; do an online jigsaw; watch the Chase; do laundry; watch an episode or two of something; enjoy first drink of the day (have been strict about only drinking from 6pm onwards); make dinner; home manicure, enjoy 2nd drink of the day, sleep zzz. Maybe not the most exciting but I find I can easily fill time and do some different things every day.

The bottle isn’t always empty but the glass usually is!

And then there is also the regular chances to catch up with friends all over the world via whatsapp or zoom. I can honestly say I have probably spent more time just casually chatting with mates online since this all started than I ever have before. It’s nice:)

A modern day “Brady Bunch”moment – for those old enough to remember the credits!

As I am still loving my walks and noticing what’s around me – here are some new photos of things I have seen along the way in lovely Melbourne

Flowers still keep blooming in Autumn over here
Visions of Melbourne (from a distance)

Next update – the things I don’t find much fun about lockdown.

Australia, Melbourne – nomadic life a bit challenged!

Well it all started to well – arriving back in Melbourne 14 months since my last visit with Marjory and renting an apartment in South Yarra. There were restaurants, there was gin, there was city, there was countryside, there was theatre and of course there were old friends and new friends.

12th Night in the Botanical Gardens
Food glorious Food at Chin Chin
Cocktails with Marjory
Having fun with mates
Great times in the countryside and the city
More gin and plants for Marjory to paint

So I managed to eat at Cumulus, Chin Chin, Supernormal, Cuccineta, Maha, Botanical, Misschu, Sake, France Soir and at friends’ houses. We saw Twelfth Night, Billy Elliott, Harry Potter and a play at the MTC.

And then the cancellation notices started coming in – no Robbie Williams (still recovering from that one), no Food and Wine Festival Events, No movies, no more theatre, No NGV. Closely followed by notifications that visiting Sri Lanka (my next port of Call was no longer possible) and toilet paper wars and instructions from just about everywhere to “go home” and stay home. “Social distancing” has become the new buzz phrase.

So Marjory will cut short her visit in a couple of days to head back to Canada – that was meant to be my next stop after Sri Lanka but looks like I will no longer be allowed in there!

So my plans have had to be changed on the hoof. Road trip to NSW and Queensland cancelled, Sri Lanka cancelled – and given I don’t have a home, I will stay in Melbourne for at least another month and “wait and see”. There are certainly worse places to be “stuck” that’s for sure.

I won’t run out of things to do – books, Netflix and online courses (I’ve just enrolled in one about the pyramids of Giza (mights as well dream of travel if I can’t actually do it! And thanks Felicity for introducing me to all those free programs online).

Australia, Sydney – a week of catch ups, food and cruise ships viewings

A sunny day in Sydney (and it is not always sunny contrary to the myth) is hard to beat for jaw dropping views of two icons – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House set amongst the twinkling waters of Sydney Harbour. And at this time of year it is a different cruise ship every day. I also revisited the Botanical Gardens – one of my favorites and discovered Barangaroo Reserve (thanks for the recommendation Trish) which is a piece of land preserve with indigenous plants slap bang in the middle to an area of Sydney which is being very built up – so great a bit of green is being retained.

Night time is always special too.

I visited my friends Vidya and Gana and was treated to home cooking at “Gana’s Kitchen” – just a few samples below of the many dishes we got to taste. Wonderful meal. Great company too which included my old mate from long ago – Doug.

Talking of friends it was marvelous to catch up with more friends and get some more home cooking (thanks Jane and John and Nigel) – some of them are below. Lovely to see you Mark and Liza, Trish, Christina, Catriona, Nigel, Joel, Lana and Christopher.

Australia, Wilson’s Promontory, Victoria

My very last Australian road trip before I leave had me and my regular visitor from Canada Marjory taking a long awaited visit to Wilson’s Prom – at the helpful suggestion of one of my former colleagues Jo S (Thanks). What a gorgeous part of the world and only a couple of hours away – why did I wait so long to visit? Possibly was waiting for someone to drive me there – I have driving myself!

We stayed at lovely Bear Gully Cottages in Walkerville about 30 minutes from the park and relaxed on beaches, hiked a bit (one day was 41 degrees so a smidgen warm but obviously a good time for pesky flys) and got close to some koalas in the wild (and they are not bears in case you were wondering?). Stopped off at some lovely little towns along the way – I particularly liked Loch for the best salted caramel slice ever at Olive’s and Fish Creek because the have a mullet on the top of their tiny hotel. Squeaky beach is not just lovely but the sand really does squeak when you walk on it – sounds like You stepped on a mouse.

I will miss this place:(

Australia, Melbourne

How lucky am I to live in Melbourne. Visited the NGV triennial for the second time yesterday and saw a few things I missed the first time. It’s all free so I’m sure I’ll be back again. But in the meantime here are some of my favourite exhibits from the artists from all round the world who have contributed. Don’t miss it – you”ll have to wait another three years for the next one.

Australia, Sydney

Great last weekend in Sydney which is rocking with great art everywhere you turn. First stop was the Art Gallery of NSW which had two great exhibits – photos by Robert Mapplethorpe (whose muse was everyone but especially Patti Smith – if you like rick biographies her first one called When we were Kids is a favourite of mine).

Then on another floor – Dutch Masters including a bunch of Rembrandts on loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

A walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens revealed the quite new Calyx and the largest vertical garden in Australia – possibly the Southern Hemisphere. Thanks to Shane for sending me a photo of how it looked a few months ago – they change it every once in a while so worth going to check it out even if you’ve been before.

And finally a very cool exhibit from Pippilotti Rist at the MCA – I thought this was the best of the lot. It is all visual art so better to experience than see on pictures – if you are in Sydney – GO.

And then I topped it off by scoring a ticket to the wonderful new musical of Muriel’s Wedding – always been a favourite movie of mine and the show is excellent too with some up to date scripting and a very clever take on the whole ABBA connection.

Thank you for the music!

Australia, Central Tablelands New South Wales

Just enjoyed a mini road trip to the Central Tablelands of NSW – the are west of the Blue Mountains which included Bathurst – famous for it car racing apparently.

My friend Kaye kindly did the driving and we spent two days at Buddens, a B and B in Rockley owned by her lovely friends Deirdre and Tony. We explored the local area including Bathurst, Blayney, Lucknow and Millthorpe. As my pal Tania said “you do get around”. If you haven’t been to this part of the world it is worth the visit for the scenery and historic country towns that seem to be on every corner.Here is the area in Rockley where we stayed.

On the final day we visited Mayfield Gardens – a massive place in Oberon – built by a very rich ex investment banker! It was lovely and we had perfect weather for the visit – although flies were a little annoying. Mayfield also has a very nice cafe inside so well worth a stop if you are in the region.

Everyone told me I was bound to see loads of kangaroos around this part of the country – not to mention wallabies and maybe even duck billed platypus. They were WRONG. Not one Roo or anything else bar sheep and cows did I see!

Australia, Melbourne and Hobart

Great to be back in my own bed after a few weeks away. Also fab to have my old school friend Lorna over from the U.K. As not only is it good to see her but I get a chance to be a tourist again. Over the last few days we visited the Shrine of Remembrance (I’m ashamed to say it is the first time I’ve been inside and it is very good), a long walk to all corners of the Botanical Gardens and another quick trip to Hobart that included Port Arthur, MONA (always visit there), Salamanca Market and two excellent restaurants – Franklin and FICO?

The lovely Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. Wonderful to have all this right on the city doorstep.
Sights around Hobart, Port Arthur and MONA

Australia, Melbourne- Not a surprise that everyone is adoring Dior at the NGV

It’s Friday so I’m indulging myself with this blog on my recent visit to the Dior Exhibit at Melbourne’s NGV. If you live here, you must go if you have even the slightest interest in works of art that you can wear and if you don’t, please get on a plane and see his if you possibly can.

Welcome to a world of fantasy and do feel free to wallow and zoom in to your heart’s content.

A Dress for every Occasion

It’s all about the detail darling

The magnificent designs of John Galliano

Fantasy ball gowns – although who are the people who get invited to places where you could wear something like these???

And finally my personal favourites