Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last week P&B and I went to see the Victorian Opera production of Julius Caesar which was presented at the Melbourne Recital Centre in a spare, but effective, production. The singing was uniformly excellent with the two counter-tenor leads showing off their abilities brilliantly. There was a bit of extraneous business with the dancing supers, but I suppose that's to be expected when the director is an ex-dancer (Stephen Heathcote). Considered with the other works we've seen presented by VO, the future of opera in Melbourne looks very healthy.

Saturday before last P, LE and I went to see the entertaining Bill Bailey in his first performance (of four) at the Palais. Unfortunately we were stuck up the back of the Dress Circle (near the ceiling) and didn't have a fabulous view of the stage, but it didn't matter that much. He was very amusing; I particularly liked his take on art history, especially when he animated the doubter's hand in and out of Christ's side in Caravaggio's The Incredulity of St Thomas.

On Sunday P&B and I met up with LP, LL and MP for brunch in town - as our first choice, The European, was packed we wandered down Little Bourke Street and went to Dragon Boat for yum-cha. It wasn't fabulous, but it was a lovely chance to catch up with the Canberra lot who I hadn't seen for years.

Afterwards P&B and I set out to explore some of the buildings open for the Melbourne Open House - this picture was taken at the ANZ's flash new building at the bottom of Collins Street. We also visited the Missions to Seamen (yes, I know it's now known as Missions to Seafarers, but that's what I grew up calling it), the new bowls club in the Flagstaff Gardens and the Royal Historical Society headquarters in the old Army Drill Hall in William Street.

Yesterday I went over to BN's to deliver her Stephen Fry tickets - this was the first time I had done the trip using my myki; it went live on all modes of transport on Sunday. Everything worked fine; I don't think I was overcharged. The only drawback is that on the buses the scanners don't seem to be able to detect my card while it's in my wallet.

Today I had an enjoyable lunch with JW at Birdman Eating - I had the pork belly and JW had the braised oxtail with noodles. Both were delicious. I am planning on buying myself a new desktop computer and JW gave me some advice on what I need to ask for which I really appreciate. He's currently on holidays and is taking the chance to get to some sessions at the Melbourne Film Festival - I'm thinking of going on Thursday to see Pianomania, a film about a piano technician which comes with strong recommendation from BO.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Vale Charles Mackerras

An extraordinary musician who almost single-handedly introduced the operas of Janaček to the west. He pioneered the idea of historically informed performances, and as well as conducting the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Dvořak he also left several excellent recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

This is one of the many appreciations published over the last few days.
More at On an Overgrown Path.

Opera and a farewell

Last night P&B and I went to the Playhouse to see Victorian Opera's production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw. An excellent cast brought this spooky work to life supported by a small but terrific orchestra - the production brought out the eerie qualities of the opera, particularly the appearances of Peter Quint and Miss Jessell. Danielle Calder's Governess was wonderful; in a long demanding performance she was able to show the character's concerns, particularly her doubts about what she thinks is happening. It's not my favourite Britten opera, but I won't pass up a chance to see it.

This afternoon I went into The Age for a farewell to LC, who has been working there for several years in Photo Sales. There was a good spread of food (thank you to NE for the chocolate/rice bubble slice) and, more importantly, a lot of my ex-colleagues to catch up with.

The weather continues cold, but hey, it is Winter.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Films and music

Busy day, today. This morning I had my coffee at Journal, the café at the CAE. Then I headed to ACMI, only stopping at an ATM to get some cash, to see the Tim Burton exhibition. It is full of some amazing drawings and film-clips - some of his cartoons remind me of a cross between Ronald Searle and Hieronymus Bosch. There was a nice one of "the hunch-back packer at Notre-Dame". There were lots of people there (I had to queue for about 10 minutes) and it was a bit hard to get a good look at some exhibits.

The exhibition reminded me of a number of his films I'd forgotten about, including Beetlejuice and Ed Wood, which I should chase up.

After a quick lunch in the ACMI café I jumped on a tram down to South Melbourne where I met up with Peter Rowe at ANAM for a splendid recital by three talented young pianists - playing Franck, Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Chopin.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday: shopping and stock

It was farmer's market this morning so I went around to P&B's early and we walked over to the Children's Farm. I bought some rhubarb, and some globe artichokes which I haven't cooked for a very long time (like, over 30 years). Then it was off to Brunswick St to pick up the car and we set off for Vic Gardens for Coles and Toscano's. At the chicken place I got a bag of chicken frames (three for a $1 - what a bargain) which I am presently making stock with - the house smells wonderful.

As P&B were having a birthday lunch with B's father (happy birthday Bob!) they dropped me back at the house. BO was at the market so I called and suggested he drop in - he did and we went around to 3 Bags Full for lunch. It was very crowded, as usual, but we fluked a spot in the window. We had good coffee, good food and a good chat.

BO came back afterwards and we spent the afternoon talking about anything and everything. After he left I briefly roasted the chicken carcasses before throwing them into pot with everything else needed to make the stock.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Temptation conquered, but not for long

Just for a change this morning I took the bus up to Brunswick Street. After a coffee at Don Vincenzo (alas no Age or even Herald Sun available) I wandered up to the Brunswick Street Bookshop, but while I saw a few books that looked quite interesting I resisted the temptation, but made a mental note to return.

I walked up to Gertrude Street and then down to Title, the book and record shop on the corner of George where I found a couple of items I decided I did want - as it turned out there is a 20% off sale on at the moment so the damage turned out not to be as bad as it could have been. I may even go back.

This evening I cooked up the remaining rhubarb with a couple of apples and half a vanilla bean ... it's delicious.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

"It's been a blast, Sugartits"

Today I had lunch with PR at 3 Bags Full - he's just back from two months in South America and Europe so we had a good talk about his trip ... and lots of other stuff as well. He was lucky enough to get a ticket to see Götterdämmerung in Buda Pest, which he said was terrific.

I spent the afternoon in the spare room doing a bit more sorting through stuff - I found some photos I hadn't seen for ages and will pass copies on to the appropriate people.

Tonight DK came round again after his yoga class - I heated up some of last night's beef stew for him and we sat and watched the Glee series final. We actually talked more than watching, which was good as we haven't had a chance for a while.

After DK went I sat down to watch the last episode of Gavin and Stacey, a little gem of a program which deserves more attention than it got. A nicely written (and performed) rom-com that I like to think of as a cross-cultural love story: boy from Essex, girl from Wales. In turns funny and tender - a great cast.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

One posting in search of a title

After coffee and walk this morning I got back to sorting through the mess in the spare room; I even managed to almost fill the recycling bin with stuff. As well I'm building piles of books to either sell or throw away. I also put some quinces on to cook - they filled the house with their unbelievable smell.

This afternoon I went up to the Nova cinema in Carlton where I met LE and we both went to see Toy Story 3 which I thoroughly enjoyed; must confess that I blubbed a little near the end. Mind you, that's not totally unexpected with me, I do tend to have a low threshold for crying at films.

Then I had to make a quick return home as P&B were coming to dinner - the beef casserole I had made yesterday was delicious and the quinces from this morning were superb.

On Monday I sent emails off to RH in Derby and DP in Brighton - mostly just chatty stuff to let them know what I've been up to. Today I was very pleased to get a reply from DP. All seems well with him and AC: this year's Brighton Festival was deemed a success, though they are expecting cuts in the funding they receive from the Arts Council.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Another Tuesday past

Not much to report today except for the glorious weather - still cold, but clear skies all day. Coffee today was at Cavallero in Smith Street, followed by a nice walk the long way home.

This afternoon I attacked some of the stuff filling up the spare room - more programs (including one for the very first opera I ever saw), and some other stuff which straight into the recycling bin. That felt good.

Monday, July 05, 2010

My less-than- interesting life

This morning I was a little late getting up so I had my breakfast at the Bomb café in Johnston Street - rather nice toasted fruit bread and the always-good Genovese coffee.

Later in the morning I walked down to Bridge Road where I caught a tram out to Hawthorn to meet up with MG. We walked down to Readings in Glenferrie Road where we decided to have lunch at their newly refurbished café. It was worth it: I had very tasty gnocchi and MG enjoyed her BLT.

After lunch and a browse in the shop MG headed off home and I walked up towards Barkers Road - I stopped briefly to drop a CD in for AF at his work before walking along Barkers Road to catch the tram home.

This afternoon I made Stephanie's Beef Stew (which is smelling very nice indeed) which I will probably share with B&P later in the week.

* I am going to attempt to blog every day this week, to attempt to get back into a routine.


Sunday, July 04, 2010

It's been too long

I do hope there's someone out there who still looks at this silly little blog. I'm afraid I spend much too much time on Facebook and Twitter at the expense of this blog, but I will make an effort, particularly as it can serve me as an aide memoire.

The last couple of months has been full - much coffee-drinking and walking, lunches and dinners out, a performance of "The Threepenny Opera", concerts, etc. At the moment I'm watching the BBC's excellent version of "Little Dorrit" - another book I must read, though it will have to wait until I've finished the giant biography of Darwin I've just embarked upon - it's a marvellous cast and looks wonderful in high definition.

This winter we've actually been getting some proper cold weather, and some rain, too, which is good. Despite the weather I usually manage my walk (and coffee) every day - last week I spent an enjoyable time wandering around the National Gallery, renewing acquaintance with various paintings.

Last week I lunched with RdS and helped AR move house; on Thursday evening I went to Alliance Francaise for the opening of a splendid exhibition of illustrations and paintings by Leigh Hobbs. It was a great turnout with a lot of people I hadn't seen for some time.