Saturday, March 30, 2013

Not to miss in St Kilda

1/ People watching. St Kilda has three main tourist streets, Acland Street, The Esplanade and Fitzroy Street. The former and the latter are great for people watching. You will hear languages from all over the world, predominantly Irish, a mix of down and outs and local yuppies to older people who are surprised they live in a trendy area, and must pay council rates accordingly.

2/ St Kilda Botanical Gardens, also known as the Blessington Street Gardens.Go on a sunny day and see Rain Man in full action. Now the weather is cooler, there is much less chance you will step on a syringe.

3/ You simply cannot visit St Kilda without taking a walk out on the pier. Never mind that you will blown into the sea, right by a southerly gale, or to the left by a hot northerly. You haven't been to St Kilda if you do not walk out onto the pier and partake a cup of very ordinary coffee. To the right of the end of the pier, there is a little sand and some rocks. Unless you travel for a couple of hours by bus, this might be your only opportunity to see a penguin, well penguin eyes, as they are trying to hide from you. Look for their deposits on the rocks for a clue as to where they are hiding.

4/ The Sunday market on the Esplanade is a must see. Depending how busy it is, you may be wondering what the point of it is, as you can't get near a stall, or you may wonder why so many spots are empty and why there are so few people there. Nevertheless, it is pretty dinki di Aussie product on sale, no matter how kitsch.

5/ Acland Street is renown for its cake shops. I think three or four are still left, and this is surprising as most people don't like stale and overpriced cakes.

6/ Coffee, most places in Acland Street serve great coffee. They could not get away with less as no Melburninan would ever go there.

7/ Acland Street does not end at McDonalds. It runs right through to Fitzroy Street. Take a walk up and down the hill from the former to the latter, or vice a versa. You will come across the really local loon residents, not the ones you see on the main streets who come in from socially and economically deprived outer suburban areas.

8/ Trams. You can't help but be overwhelmed by them, especially on weekends. There are everywhere, coming and going constantly, that is until you want to catch a specific tram on a specific route. You may have to wait for a bit. Look out for the occasional ghastly yellow Bumble Bee tram, especially if you have kids. It like the other other trams, only there is a lot more of it and the kiddies will love the faded bees on the side.

9/ The Farmer's Market at the Peanut Farm happens on the first Saturday morning of each month. My advice is to catch a train to country farmer's market where you buy the same thing for 1/3 the price. Oh, I forgot, the government took the train away from St Kilda.

10/ There are some fine restaurants, mostly cafes actually, in St Kilda. The service is usually good. The Irish are so grateful to be here and have a job, any job. The rest of your waiting staff will be Asian students who get underpaid and work cash in hand, so be nice to them.

11/ While you are indulging in everyone's favourite pastime of people watching, St Kilda is a mecca for the mentally ill and drug users, so do give them a good look over. I have been visiting St Kilda for 35 years and aside from the beggar woman twenty years ago who complained when I only gave her $2 rather than $5, I have only experienced one unpleasant incident in the 35 years. Perhaps it is getting worse.

12/ Look for traces in Acland Street of its days when it had a strong Jewish flavour and colour. Nah, don't bother. There is nothing left. They have been and gone, except for their ownership of every building along the street.

13/ Stand across the big roads opposite McDonalds and swivel your eyes right to the pedestrian traffic lights and look up at St Kilda's glorious architectural heritage.What copper cladding is not heritage?

14/ Just to help you foreigners, Safeway and Woolworths are interchangeable supermarket names. In St Kilda, it is Safeway. This is where to do your celebrity spotting. You have to look closely as they disguise themselves as ordinary people and don't wear Jackie Onassis sunglasses. The larger older lady at the checkouts is perfectly pleasant but don't give her crap. You'll be sorry if you do. The staff there are experienced with all kinds and they will know how to deal with you. Nobody of note goes to the other one, Coles supermarket, not even if they live next door.

15/ Can I tempt you with pony rides for the kiddies in the Catani Gardens on Sundays? Probably not. Pity, as it is so close to another St Kilda icon, the Cowderoy Street Drain, a significant local feature.

16/ Ok, this one is serious. Remember this post? Mirka remains a Melbourne institution and was on tv just this week past. The western side of Fitzroy was the location of her restaurant, now Tolarno Hotel

17/ St Kilda West is the western side of Fitzroy Street almost. But St Kilda goes quite a distance to the east. Catch the 16 tram east to the bagel belt suburb of Balaclava, which is still St Kilda really. What is there to do there? Nothing much really except more people watching. The library is rather good and the St Kilda Town Hall impressive. Up a lane, across a carpark, in a shed, you will probably find the best cup of coffee you will ever have.

18/ Take a walk along Wimmera Place and check out the lorikeets, assuming they are still there.

You may wonder why you have selected St Kilda to stay in or visit it at least, when it might sound like it is not such a good place.  Let me assure you, St Kilda is a fabulous microism of Australia and perhaps the only Melbourne suburb where you might meet a real life Australian Aborigine.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What is going on here?

I am a Twitter user but I rarely tweet. I don't have the time to devote to it. I think one of the last times I tweeted anything, I suggested the Queen might be taking down a portrait of herself from her wall. It was a cryptic tweet, but I expected a media explosion to follow. Nothing. That was months ago.

Let me make it clear here and now. I just googled Rolf Harris arrested and there is not one Australian mainstream media link coming up. I put his name into a couple of Australian newspaper's search areas, and nothing. Australian media is pretty well free to say anything about him, within libel laws. There is no threat to any pending legal action in England from what is said in Australia.

What is going on here? Surely this is news.  Eventually it will all come out, so why is our media not reporting the matter. They don't have to make a scandal of it. A simple, 'Rolf Harris has been arrested on charges of...'.

Related, ex ABC personality Andy Muirhead has been released from prison in Tasmania. He sure got off lightly as far as his sentence goes, but who would now possibly employ him. Prison was the lesser punishment he received. The despise from all who liked him was surely worse.

Going down in Zurich

I think it was our resident Francophile Grace from Perth Daily Photo who mentioned a funicular at Montmartre in Paris. I took a look at it and I judge it to be modern and very functional, but not so interesting. Sorry Grace. Budapest's funicular is still streets ahead with character and the Leas Lift with mechanical interest.

This one though, in the hills around Zurich in not bad. Might Kath in Geneva have travelled on it? How many more blog people can I ingratiatingly slip in? The view becomes nicer as the funicular climbs, and possibly the socio-economic demographics increase. There is a view of the city of Zurich down below. The down hill car crossing is obscured by the a building, but you know it must be there to follow the funicular principle, something must come down as something is going up, and both help each other up and down. Might be a good idea for life.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mash Up (sad old person using young people's words)

Tuesday evening.

I don't think I have done this for a long time but I liked the look of someone who commented on someone else's blog, so I looked at her blog and it is a good one and I made a comment. Oh, she seems quite productive, been around for a while, is a bit tech savvy and posts daily. Can I possibly add another blog to read and give it due focus? It is a blog that needs proper reading, not a single quick click.

I have little in common with her, but what do I have in common with other blog mates? Precious little. I don't think I have any regular readers who are gay, of a similar age as myself and in a relationship. Well, maybe one.

The only common links I can manage is a sense of social justice, an interest in the world and the ability to write and entertain. Well, there is the disproportionate ex school teacher factor too.

Little Jo has just kicked the wall, I think. 'Let her be', I say. R goes and settles her some more. Sister and Bone Doctor are at Rod Laver Arena and probably singing Born in the USA as I type.

R cooked a wonderful dinner, eaten in 20 minutes by them. I had to do prep, shock horror. Get everything ready, as the 'retired' R had to work until late and did not get home until ten to six. Dinner was served by twenty past.

Dinner conversation:

Me: "So Bone Doctor, will you be getting into the mosh pit?"
BD: "I don't think so."
Me: "It strikes me that it would be rather good for your line of work if 40/50/60 year olds did get in a mosh pit".
BD: "True."
Me: "It just occurred to me that you, as a doctor, aren't interested in curing people, because once cured, they no longer need your service".
BD made a wry grin and possibly wished Sister did not have such family encumbrances.

Little Jo is silent now. R is showering and 'taking his eyes out'.

Tomorrow, I must face the second day of work training, the final day. After doing the same job for 34 years, apparently I need re-training. Today was not all bad. There was a cuteish guy at the session and I had a laugh with long time workmates.

Killer hot day tomorrow. Will the endless summer ever end? Surely there can't be hot days in April.

Later: I rarely remember dreams, but I had a very silly one Tuesday night and I do remember it vividly. In the dream I was about to grab a feather duster from an old lady who was being threatening with it and what I actually did in my sleep was swing my arm out from the bed, hit the bedside lamp and it crashed into the wall. I woke with a start and that is why I recall the dream. It's never happened to me before that I know of.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Not for bikes

Sometimes it is useful being old as you recall things that no longer seem to be documented, or at least have been forgotten by most people.

A case in point was a recent discussion elsewhere and in more than one place about the conditions under which City Link, a pay road, was built. I did not correct anyone who had things wrong and things may have changed since I gained my knowledge. I recall it vividly because it was such an outrage, and even now I can feel my temperature rising. Without going into the detail, people were deliberately funnelled onto City Link so the the private company who owns it would make more money and public roads, with some improvements to them, were turned into private roads. Go south, north or west in Melbourne, and there will be a toll road. Not so for the freeway to the expensive eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Oh no, they have a lovely wide freeway which is actually free.

This talk I will scotch though. This is Melbourne's Princes Bridge and a lovely and fine old bridge it is too. There is chatter about it it becoming a one lane in each direction for cars, the extra space taken by a bicycle lane and and more width for trams. You can see where the pedestrians walk in this Google Map image. The line beside them is a dividing line on the footpath for cyclists using the bridge, the other side of the bridge having the same treatment. What about where the bicycles are now? That looks like a bike lane on the roadway, albeit a narrow one.

It is not a bike lane and was never meant to be. There were incidents of pedestrians on the footpath walking in the bike lane being whacked by mirrors of passing vehicles. The line was painted to keep vehicles away from the very edge of the footpath.

So, there is not a bike lane on Princes Bridge, only a pedestrian/bike shared path.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Well dressed woman

There is an odd time when you have a dawning moment. In media we are assaulted by power dressed female high achievers, in their smart suits, never mind gorgeous young women in whatever apparel they choose to wear, at times quite unflattering. All blokes have to do is put on their normal suit, that disguises their fat gut, small penis and saggy arse.

I saw her in Swanston Street. She was wearing a subdued floral dress, with a pulled in belt and smart slightly raised heel shoes. She may have been mid forties, maybe fifty. I don't know if it was an expensive dress or if the shoes were expensive, but by golly, she looked all class. If you were a watcher of Keeping Up Appearances, think a bit younger Liz in similar clothing, except the Swanston Street lady was perhaps a bit wider hipped. I can't judge sexy with women, but she looked just great.

I was recently on the other side of the river, translated as the other side of tracks, but in a trendy grunge area and I started noticing girls and women who were wearing proper dresses. How nice they looked, and I don't mean dresses with a waist line under the bust or anything else silly.

I'll ignore blokes in this post, as apart from some gay guys, most older blokes dress very badly.  I often puzzle about blokes; how they can step out of a $300,000 Mercedes wearing clothes that look like they came from Target. I may well have some clothes in my wardrobe with a big red circle on the label, but I don't step out of a $300,000 car.

Big or small, skinny, svelt or fat, every woman can wear flattering clothing. Very few women over a certain age can get away with denim jeans. There are exceptions, take a bow someone, but truly not many. They may be able to get away with jeans, but are they flattering? Mostly not.

Another female blog mate who I have met,  is not Twiggy. Yet she wears clothes that look good. The focus becomes the overall picture, rather than her size. It is kind of like seeing a work of art, an effective creation.

I can only recall seeing another friend by way of blog in black slacks. I don't think she is fat, but truly, I don't know. Apart from the slacks, I don't really recall what she wore. If I did not notice, then obviously she did dress in a flattering way, at least appropriate to her age and shape. Perhaps I was more focused on her, than what she was wearing.

I often see the posh ladies in the posh suburbs and yes, tailored looks good, be it a suit or slacks and a shirt with a jacket but I must say, slacks without an overhanging top look the least flattering.

While the Swanston Street lady inspired this post, I am now recalling the last time I took Mother out to her local shopping centre in her far eastern suburb. Mother was the odd bod there in a dress. Nearly every woman was wearing something that was not flattering. Yes, ok, we all like to be comfortable, but isn't a dress comfortable to wear?

The right dress, and it does not have to be expensive, can really make a woman look so good.  Ok, I will wear the argument that dresses are not always practical, but I like to see women in dresses.

PS, another very old post that needed heavy editing, but I am so time short at the moment, so it this or nothing.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Who has been sleeping in my house?

There was only one episode of Who's Been Sleeping in My House I did not like and that was when it was about ghosts and spirits. If you haven't caught the show, it has the show's host investigating the history of a house with an architecturally or historically interesting past. For example this week in the most recent series covered both, an interesting house and where British MP John Stonehouse hid from the authorities after faking his suicide.

At times the people who own and live in the house are just as interesting. More than once I have seen the woman of the house behaving a little bit as an English country house mistress, with pearls around her neck, carelessly dressed in quality clothing, no make up and hair a bit wild. What often lets them down is their speech. Certain words give away that they, being of a certain age and having gone to a posh private school, would speak a certain way, and they don't. In fact they drop some real classic speech clangers that marks them as being very very Australian and have not kept company with well and privately educated people in their formative years. I don't focus on the blokes of the houses so much, as they are usually in the background.

Not that any of the previous matters too much. Just an observation. Anyway, I quite enjoy the show and it is ages since I have written anything about tv.

There is a little snigger matter and person connection about the host of the show I have learnt, so if you are interested and I know who you are, send me an email.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Diary March 19,20,21,22,23,24

Tuesday 19th Mar

Drive to Knox Shopping Centre with K&J and meet up with three of R's ex workmates for lunch. Order stuff up and receive free coffee. R cooks lasagne for dinner.

Wednesday 20 Mar

16 tram to Balaclava and put K&J off at Esplanade, St Kilda, tram up Chapel Street, bus home. Barbeque dinner at friends'.

Thursday 21st Mar

We all have lunch with our dyke friend in town near her office, Japanese bento boxes. Dinner, home made sausage rolls from freezer and vegetables.

Friday, garden show in Carlton Gardens. What a rip off. All stalls were commerical with a $25 entry and appalling coffee at $4.50. Wise Sister would have done sandwiches with a thermos. Birthday dinner for R at Balaclava Hotel with a few friends. Me&R, K&J, D& R, J.

The flowers were exhibited in glorious Exhibitions Buildings.

The dinosaur is animated and roared.

Paul Mecurio and a chap from tv spruiking  for the Jenny Craig weight loss company. He had lost about 12 kilos.

Saturday, shopping while K&J go to Vic Market. Birthday dinner for Mother and R at Pakenham. Mother, me&R, K&J,Tradie Brother, ABI Brother, Sister, Bone Doctor, Little Jo, Oldest Niece and partner, Non Dreaded Nephew and two of Mother's friends.

Sunday I work. K&J depart 7pm for England via Singapore and Dubai.