Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What a night...

White Night - 
ooh what a night it was 
It really was such a night....
White Night and crowds everywhere
I was just one of an estimated 300,000 who visited the city of Melbourne last Saturday for the wondrous White Night. Nuit Blanche first began in Paris in 2002 and I am thrilled that Melbourne has 'obtained the rights' to stage the only Australian event for the next 2 years - and hopefully for many more years to come particularly after this extraordinary initial success. Now running in 23 cities worldwide it thrilled and entranced those who braved the crowds to see our buildings lit up so beautifully. In an earlier post I talked about the Christmas projections on the Melbourne Town Hall and also our own Richmond Town Hall. Well this was just a taste of what was produced for White Night
'Live' painting
It was an all night event for those with the stamina to celebrate our city from dusk till dawn. For me a stroll around the sites for a couple of hours was enough! There is something magical about seeing people smiling, laughing and entranced by the fairyland of it. 
Flinders Street - a wall of lights and people!
Stretching along Flinders Street and Flinders Lane between Russell and Elizabeth Streets and along St Kilda Road it encompassed both National Galleries of Victoria (NGV International and Australia) both of which stayed open all night. Singing, dancing (a 12 hour dance-a-thon entitled 'I could have danced all night') and music events took place throughout the area and in particular Federation Square, the steps of Flinders Street Station and Degraves Street.
The Forum Theatre
As luck would have it Melbourne gave us perfect balmy weather for an outdoor event. No rain, no wind and not too cold. A miracle! Sadly some of the events did not seem to be well advertised and we missed 2 of the highlights - Michel Blazy's foam sculpture at the NGV International and the ice sculptures at the State Library of Victoria. Extraordinarily bizarre was the fact that there were no projections on the Town Hall.
Always a head in the way - Flinders Street Station
What a celebration. What fun. If you didn't go then don't miss it next year. It's worth a visit to this city (and a stay at the cottage!) to experience the joy of White Night fun and light. Let's hope next year will be better advertised!  
Projection equipment - with the beautiful Chapter House in the background
And finally I loved this Golding cartoon in The Sunday Age. Yes - one night we turn off the lights to save energy and another we turn them on!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

To market, to market, to buy a .....

Just a short walk from the Cottage is a real hidden gem and a bit of a secret to many. It is Victoria's oldest street market. 
Join the locals - stop for a chat, browse the stalls, it will be gone by 1 pm
Located right next to the Richmond Town Hall in Gleadell Street it runs from early (too early for me!) Saturday morning until around 1 pm - when the garbage trucks sweep in to remove all that the vendors leave behind. And miraculously it turns the street back into a street!
A variety of quality - to fit your budget
It has such a community spirit with such an eclectic group of citizens - which is a great reflection of the vibrancy of Richmond. 
The choice is yours
Watch for shopping trolley drivers and those on a mission to self-serve the best fruit. Shoppers can be ruthless when there is a bargain in the air! And what bargains there are to be had. 

Help yourself - choose carefully!
Making tomato or red pepper sauce - then this is the place to buy boxes of tomatoes and red peppers in season. Making pickles - this is the place to come. Making jams - the fruit choice is yours. It is all there and often at ridiculous prices. 
Peaches - $6 a tray, Tomatoes - $5 a box!
If you don't want a whole tray of peaches or mangoes - then 'negotiate' with the other shoppers and you might be able to 'do a deal' by taking half a tray each. Of course you can buy just enough for your own needs. It doesn't have to be enough for 'the weekly shop' or a cookathon!
What a delicious fruit salad
Stop for a coffee, a croissant and a chat under the trees, or queue up for an egg and bacon roll while listening to a French busker - it might even make you think of the local markets in Europe.
Hot work at the barbeque
It's a fun thing to do on a Saturday morning. And it's a great way to see the locals enjoying a unique street market. And of course pick up a bag of fruit or vegetables - or even fish, eggs, chicken, breads and nuts as well as the odd bargain.
Who could resist a bunch or two of sweet peas to tuck under your arm
Just remember to take your own carry bag - this is a 'bag free' market. It's a little piece of Richmond history - right on your doorstep (well nearly!) Don't miss this Saturday ritual.

Bowen Cottage client comment: We didn't fill out the Guest Questionnaire because you know we will always rate the cottage a 10.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

There are fairies at the bottom of the garden

When I was growing up I always found fairies at the bottom of our garden. I could see them everywhere. My favourite book was 'Jennifer and the Flower Fairies' by Annette Mills. I still have it.

I guess it was the English version of our very own May Gibbs' 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie' and 'The Gumnut Babies'. Gathering Gumnut hats was always a favourite of mine - and when I see them now I am still taken back to my childhood with the Gumnut Babies. Her home Nutcote in Sydney's Neutral Bay is open to the public. But there is an entry fee.

Gumnut Poster - available on line from Nutcote
In Melbourne we are lucky to have our very own Fairies Tree in the gorgeous (and free) Fitzroy Gardens. The tree was carved by Ola Cohn from 1931 to May 1934 for the Victorian Centenary year. 
Australiana Fairies Tree
 The following is an extract from her book The Fairies Tree written in 1933:
"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."
Special carving
Ola Cohn has also left her mark in nearby East Melbourne. On her death in 1964 she bequeathed her home and studio in Gipps Street (opposite the Darling Square Park - bounded by Gipps, Simpson and Grey Streets) for all who wish to take courses in art, sculpture, writing and other creative ventures. It is run under the auspices of CAE (Centre for Adult Education). 
The family - tucked in the tree base
Annette Mills, May Gibbs and Ola Cohn have allowed children to continue to dream and imagine. How lucky that the Fitzroy Gardens are so close to Bowen Cottage! I encourage you to visit - with or without children. And take your child within! You never know what or who you might see!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


I wonder how many of you know who Molly is without explanation. Probably most of you! Well it is of course Richmond's (Ian) Molly Meldrum - he of 'always wear a hat' fame.
Molly studying the form at the 2012 Melbourne Cup

This Richmond resident (some would say icon!) who recently turned 70 lives close to Bowen Cottage in Highett Street between Lennox and Church Streets. I'll leave you to source the 'exact' address - it isn't hard to find - the entire front fence is painted with his loves - Egypt and the Pyramids, the Melbourne Storm and the St Kilda Football Club.
Molly's hard to miss fence

During the enormously successful Tutankhamun exhibition at the Melbourne Museum last year Molly was 'instructed' by an over zealous Council to remove the 'advertising' on his wall as he had not put in an advertising application and with it the Council advertising fee! What a pity that Council worker isn't as zealous about the removal of anything as important as the removal of laneway weeds and the ever growing graffiti walls (some of which are terrific)! Advertising - no. Passion - yes. Length of time on the fence - ages (I can't be more specific). Suffice to say after the press got hold of this piece of Council over-regulation gone mad - Molly was 'allowed' to keep his (non) advertising Egypt fence!
'Advertising' for Tutankhamun - an outrage!

I see Molly at the local supermarket occasionally. Pre-Christmas 2011 he fell from a ladder whilst erecting Christmas lights (a word of warning to all 'aging' friends - be careful on a ladder - don't do it alone!) and spent months in our wonderful local Epworth Hospital and their rehabilitation wing. The locals were pleased to see him finally return to the local shopping centre. (You may even spot him at Coles if you are staying at Bowen Cottage - keep an eye out for him!)
Molly Stamps (his mark!)

And now Australia Post has included him in the recent Australian Legends series. Now that tells me that he has 'arrived'. Free spirits like Molly (no first or second name required) certainly add to the fabric of our suburb.