Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Au Revoir Bowen Cottage

After 10 rewarding years this will be my last post about Bowen Cottage as I have sold it - lock, stock and smoking barrels! I hosted my last clients for the Australian Open Tennis and then it was time to pack up and shut the red door behind me. The day was tinged with relief and regret. It has been an extraordinary ride and I have hosted some wonderful clients (and the odd one who spoilt it for the rest). A decade is a long time in my business life. I seem to need to press the refresh button more often than most and each journey is always totally different. 
Sold to the highest bidder!
The Cottage has been host to some special surprises including the wonderful humanitarian - Moira Kelly - 'fairy' godmother and legal guardian to the co-joined twins Trishna and Krishna (separated in a marathon 32 hour operation) and to her Iraqi born 'sons' both of whom have severely underdeveloped limbs due to chemical warfare. Ahmed - a quadruple amputee represented Australia in the swimming at the 2012 Paralympics. Extraordinary. The cottage was bursting at the seams with the girls, the sons and all the carers. It was a humbling experience. You can visit the websites by clicking either Children First Foundation and/or Global Gardens of Peace. 
From this to ....

To this - Trishna and Krishna with Moira

Ahmed at the 2012 Paralympics - and we think we have it hard
And then there was another surprise with the stay of human rights lawyer, the beautiful Jessie Taylor who at the age of 27 when most are out disco-ing adopted a 14 year old Afghan 'boat person' Jaffar whom she had met when visiting a refugee camp in Indonesia. You can read their remarkable story here or watch the ABC Australian Story programme here. I encourage you to do both! 
Foster mother at 27 - Jessie Taylor
And then there have been so many wonderful and loyal clients who have returned again and again - and again - to stay at their 'home away from home'. Many I have never met (they let themselves in, settled down and then departed with ne're a sighting from me - lucky them!) 

Nudge and Emmi guarding the front door
We've had some special dogs with names to make you smile. There was Dyson (was he named because he hoovered up all his food - now I'll never know), there's been Polly and Winston (who replaced the beloved Angus), there's been Milly and Tommy and then there has been Crash whose been coming since he was just a young dog and his owners are devastated that this last visit was probably to be his last (age has caught up with him - and me!) Photos of 'man's best friends' have been sent regularly - usually featuring the cottage in the background. 

An etherial bride in the Cottage hallway
We've had brides dressing to head off to their weddings, we've even had a wedding reception. We've had family Christmas celebrations, we've had 'the gathering of the clans' from all corners of the globe. There have been christenings, I don't think any wakes but ..... and then there have been those who have discovered the Cottage and just wanted to come back whenever they could.  
The late and great Santa Lucia who guarded the door in all our promotions
My final clients seemed to sum it up so well "You should be proud of the way you gave visitors to Melbourne such a special place to stay. The cottage was always fresh. It was always a joy to walk into." And it was a joy to host such wonderful clients. Richmond Rambles will continue even though there will be a break but there are plans afoot (perhaps even walking tours of Richmond - Richmond Rambles!!) for the future. And so till then it is au revoir from Bowen Cottage. As Frank Sinatra would sing "Thanks for the memories". It's been a priviledge.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Gog and Magog

With names like that who needs an introduction!? Well I do! You will find their names in both the Book of Ezekiel, and the Book of Revelations, and they are mentioned in the Koran and the Hebrew Bible. You can see these mythical figures of Gog and Magog in the beautiful Royal Arcade which runs between Little Collins Street and the Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne's retail district. Royal Arcade is the 'extension' of the beautiful Block Arcade (see earlier post here) Gog and Magog are kept busy 24 hours a day as they strike the chimes of the clock on the hour so do try and be there to hear their resonance throughout the Arcade.
Ding Dong
Royal Arcade was completed in 1870 to the design by the architect Charles Webb who also designed among other buildings Melbourne Grammar School, the historic Windsor Hotel on the corner of Bourke and Spring Streets and Tasma Terrace located at Parliament Terrace on the diagonal off Spring Street and now home to the National Trust. 
Light-filled old fashioned elegance
It is such a light-filled Arcade with some interesting and quirky shops. It has that sense of history where you can imagine the elegant ladies and gentlemen of Melbourne promenading.

Bowen Cottage client comment: The cottage was perfect for our two week stay and the location is great

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

this one is for chocoholics

Church Street hosts two very important shops if you are a chocoholic. It may come as a surprise but for someone who loves food I can take or leave a chocolate! But for those that do love chocolate you will find The Richmond Chocolate Factory Outlet just around the corner at 133 Church Street (near the corner of Highett Street) It's the outlet for Ernest Hillier and Newmans Chocolates. 
You can't miss it!
The history of Hilliers is interesting. Ernest Hillier was Australia's first chocolate maker and he began making chocolates in 1914 - a cause for a centenary celebration!  I didn't grow up in Melbourne but for those who did one of the highlights of a visit to the city (a big thing in the old days!) was to have a hot chocolate, or a chocolate sundae at Hilliers, their famous old Collins Street store in the Regent Theatre. And if my memory serves me correctly (!) you could buy a yard (for those modern guests - about a metre!) of Newmans chocolates (in a long red box - I think!!) 
A reminder of the past
A feast for the eyes and tastebuds!
All wrapped up for Christmas
What a choice! Fill your own bon bons, bowls or even your mouth!!
There is also a cafe - so stop by for a piece of chocolate heaven. Or pop next door for a coffee at yet another new cafe.

Boutique chocolatiers are all the rage at the moment - from Koko Black Salons (don't you love the addition of salon!) - they have a lovely one in the Royal Arcade in the city. And now there is Pana Chocolate at 491 Church Street (between Swan Street and the Yarra River). Their chocolate is raw, organic and homemade! The first time I noticed it I was driving past and wondered what the crowd in the street were looking at. Well it seems they were drooling at the window watching chocolate creations being made. It sparked my interest as well. So back I went a few days later to see for myself. Unfortunately although their neon sign was telling me that they were Now Making there was not a soul in sight. I popped inside. Still no-one - they must have been busy making out the back. But here is a view of their selection. 
Now making - the lights were on but there was no-one home!
An elegant selection
If you can't get enough of chocolates then of course you should visit one of the Adelaide owned Haigh's Chocolate shops (see my post on their shop in the beautiful Block Arcade here). Haigh's began in 1915 (just after Hillier!) and is Australia's oldest family owned chocolate maker. Still needing more? Then why not take an ever popular Chocoholics Tour (see link here) For a sweet tooth the possibilities are endless!
A bedside welcome at the Cottage
Bowen Cottage client comment: I always look forward to the welcome Ferrero Rocher on the bedside table. It's such a great welcome.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A model Tudor Village

As I am writing this on Remembrance Day 11/11/14 it seems appropriate that I mention the Model Tudor Village which you will find in my favourite Fitzroy Gardens just a 10 minute walk from the Cottage en route to the city. You will find it next to the Pavillion Cafe (the signs will point you in the right direction). 
A little peoples village
It was presented to the "City of Melbourne by the city of Lambeth, England in appreciation of gifts of food dispatched from Victoria to England during the food shortages following World War 2". 
The Pavillion Cafe is on the left and the fairy tree on the right

It's right next to the Fairy Tree (see earlier post here) which is rather sweet so it's a great combination if you happen to have children with you (or you could bring your inner child) and then have a coffee or even a tipple at the cafe!!
Detail from the Fairy Tree  

Carved by Ola Cohn 1931 - 1934 - it is marvellous.
"I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you, and the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary - a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures."

Of course a visit to the Fitzroy Gardens must include a visit to the Conservatory (not far from the Pavillion, the Fairy Tree and the Tudor Village). It's always a joy to behold. (see earlier post here)
Sooooo beautiful
Such a pleasant walk through East Melbourne to the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens - it will take you to another world - and it's so good for the soul.

Bowen Cottage client comment: We don't want to leave

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Stork nests in downtown Richmond!

Driving along Swan Street - between Hisense and Rod Laver Arenas which are part of the Australian Open Tennis courts (you can book a game of tennis on the famed outside courts) I was greeted by what looked like red stork nests. But of course they aren't! This marvellous 'stand' of extraordinary plants look like they have just popped out of the ground. 
A stand of stork nests!
They remind me of the extraordinary stork nests I have seen particularly in the Middle East including Egypt, Jordon and Morocco.I think they are amazing.
The real thing! (naturephotoblog.com)

Sprouting - Hisense Arena in the background
You will find them opposite the 1956 Olympic Swimming Stadium which is now the home of .... aaagh ... the Collingwood Football Club. 

The old 1956 Olympic Swimming Stadium - you can see the tiered seating design
In any event if you happen to be passing or visiting the sports precinct - which also includes the marvellous AAMI Park Stadium (see earlier post here) which looks like a caterpillar to me and a witchety grub to others - you can't miss them. 
The AAMI caterpillar or witchety grub lit up
They're are pretty striking and rather fun. Standing tall they have just popped up in the last few weeks. I don't know how long they will last before they wither and die but they make an impressive sight. I wish I knew what they were called - do you?
Walk between the stork nests (!) to Rod Laver Arena - the city in the distance

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

And they're racing - again!

I've talked in the past about my involvement with the Spring Racing Carnival (see earlier post here) so it's always a relief to 'do anything but go racing' at this time of the year! In fact I was reminiscing the other evening with my good friend who was the former Marketing Director for the TAB (now Tabcorp). In my past life the TAB was a great client for my company for over 14 years and I worked closely with Maurice to achieve some pretty great results. Maurice and I had just attended a meeting at our local Yarra Council regarding yet another over-development application and as we wandered home - he to his magnificent Edwardian home in Waltham Street on Richmond Hill - we laughed with relief that we 'don't have to do it - or go - ever - again'!
The boomtime home on the hill (hard to see through the greenery) - look at that gargoil on the roof!
But that doesn't mean that others really love this time of the year because of the racing, parties, dress-ups and much more. It just ain't for me (or Maurice!)

I've written about a well known local Richmond artist - who is also busy 'decorating' the blank walls of Richmond (see earlier post here). Nick Howson has had another wonderful time under the railway overpass in Swan Street (just near the T of Swan and Lennox Streets). 

Swan Street railway under/overpass - near Richmond Station
I photographed the artwork on a bright sunny day with shards of light slashing them through the darkened 'tunnel' - so forgive me for their 'impurities'. 

Number 3 heads off towards Punt Road!

Number 5 looking behind!

Number 7 - working hard (put that whip away!)

Number 9 - flying along the wall!
Do pop along and see them. I have to admit I must have driven past them a 1000 times and only registered on them recently. It's amazing what you can pass with your eyes open and yet not see!

And if you are off to the races - perhaps a bet on 3, 5, 7 or 9 will bring you luck - or not! Enjoy. 

Bowen Cottage client comment: Just lovely to have a home to stay in rather than an impersonal hotel room. So quiet and yet so convenient. The little touches make such a difference.    

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The King Sun

Sitting at my kitchen table with the sun streaming in on my back this week I felt that summer really was on its way. It reminded me of a wonderful ABC documentary on one of our national living treasures - John Olsen the painter - a young and vibrant 86 year old. (you can see and listen to him on a short utube video creating it here - I recommend it) It was a marvellous programme. His King Sun painting can be found at 1 Collins Square - which is located in Docklands - along the extension of Collins Street just past Spencer Street. I decided to go and take a look - and how glad I am that I did. It was wonderful.

But first I had to find it! 2 buildings towered over me. I had expected to be 'greeted' by it due to its size - but no. So I thought I would pop into a travel outlet to ask directions (for the sake of courtesy I won't name it!). "Do you know where the huge painting of the sun is?" I asked. I was greeted by a blank stare. "It's was recently featured in a wonderful TV programme" I continued. (I didn't mention the ABC!) After a bit of pondering and with her face screwed up came this reply "Oh you mean that big yellow thing. I wouldn't really call it a painting" she replied! Trying not to look too stunned by her response I received instructions regarding where to find the 'big yellow thing' and off I went!
The King Sun or in anothers words "that big yellow thing"
Shards of sunlight across The King Sun
And there it was in all it's vibrant glory in the foyer of the Commonwealth Bank and Transurban reception area. It was magnificent. And to make it even more interesting shards of the suns rays were touching the surface. The 'big yellow thing' looked alive.

The mural is so large that Olsen needed not only to stand on a series of 8 wooden panels and use brushes attached to long sticks to paint but also required an assistant. He was also hospitalised during the creation. A longer version of the programme and some still photographs can be found here
86 year old John Olsen with cane and beret

I love John Olsen (his daughter is the creator of the marvellous Dinosaur Designs) for his talent and for his enthusiasm for life (which you will see on the video link above) But it hasn't always been this way. A few years ago I read an article about him in which he spoke about life and his 2 failed marriages. And yet he still had the optimism to think that number 3 might be the one for him - at the age of 60! This is what he said:

"I am in the transit lounge of hopelessness, 
ready to rush to Gate 19 for the Flight of Hope"

And I'm pleased to say that a mere 25 years later number 3 is still the one!

Thank you John Olsen for your prolific output of paintings and for giving Melbourne The King Sun. It's worth a visit - as is the Art Series Olsen Hotel in Chapel Street (near the corner of Toorak Road - each room is 'Olsened'!). If you are in the Docklands area (near the Southern Cross Station) then do pop in to see 'that big yellow thing'.

Bowen Cottage client comment: It's been Gr8!!