Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Bridge Road - a heritage area

Bridge Road is currently going through rather a slump with many shops closed. It's a little bit sad really but as one of the more successful shop owners said recently "It will come back". She has opened a second one so she must feel confident! And I have to say that the successful shops will 'survive'. The rents for the shops are still exhorbitant - up to $95,000 per annum - you have to sell an awful lot of coffee or cotton Tshirts to even begin to pay the rent - just imagine! So rather than counting the empty shop fronts as you walk up and down why not take your time to stop and read the 'history of Bridge Road' on the various signs dotted along the way. 

Bridge Road is actually classified as a heritage area as it dates back to 1837 (the first European settlers arrived just two years earlier). The first land sales were recorded in 1839. The Yarra Council even has a Heritage Walk - click here. I wrote about some of the signs in an earlier post entitled 'The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker' - and here is one (well two actually!) just to give you an example:
Drapers and Grocers seemed to abound in the 19th century
But I want to focus on some of the more detailed signs that you will find as you wander along. You will find a sign on the corner of Bridge and Punt Roads (in a little 'park') which really shows the difference between then and now!

Imagine horse drawn vehicles sloshing through the mud (and droppings!) - loverly!
The building on the right currently comprises an array of shops including a 7-Eleven, a 'naughty shop' (!) and other equally exciting finds!
Perhaps a cheap Tshirt shop would be more successful as a 'lolly' shop!
It shows the fascinating history of the area - and this is just a snippet of the signs along the way.
Paperhangings, Oils, Colors, Glass - well before trams arrived in Bridge Road!
As you wander along do stop for a coffee - perhaps try the new 'hot' cafe - Fifty Acres at 65 Bridge Road. It's almost opposite the famed Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder (I wrote earlier about the cheese room - smelly heaven!). It's always fascinating to see how one cafe can be 'hot' when just along the street there is another which is 'not'. I guess you either have the IT factor or you don't. Fifty Acres currently has IT.

Bowen Cottage client comment: Charming, comfy and quirky

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Mirror Mirror on the wall!

Mirror mirror on the wall
Who is the fairest of them all

For years I have driven past a nice old building at 172 Hoddle Street (the extension of Punt Road) in nearby Collingwood. There is always a large mirror or three or four leaning on the building and tree trunk in the street to lure the passers by - 100,000++ cars pass by each day along with another #30,000 bus travellers. It has pretty good exposure!
Mirror heaven!
I had always promised myself that I would pop in one day but not needing a mirror and with the pressure of traffic bumper to bumper (particularly during the week) I never did! That is until recently! I had suggested to a friend that she pop in to see if there was a mirror for her hallway.

Every size and shape - stacked to the rafters
Was there a mirror! I've never seen so many mirrors - ceiling mirrors (!) mirror balls, animal encrusted mirrors, furniture covered in mirrors - and just 'regular' mirrors. It was a strangely uplifting experience.  
Mirrored furniture
This is the Aladdin's Cave of Mirrors and perfectly named Mirror Mirror! It was magical mirror heaven. And to think it has been there for 14 years!
A 'sea' of Venetian mirrors
And there's more!
So don't be frightened to stop the car and pop in to have a look. There is car parking at the rear if you can't or don't feel you can stop in Hoddle Street - although I have found a park easily both times I have visited. 
You'll be like a (mirrored) bull in a (china) shop!!

I felt as though I was on hallowed ground! I didn't know where to look next! If ever there was a wow factor then this is it!

Bowen Cottage client comment: We have enjoyed all aspects of Bowen Cottage and its central location and its lovely homely feeling - a really great stay

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Fireworks attempt to get Docklands firing!

There's something rather sad about Docklands - Melbourne's newest inner city suburb. Right on the water it should/could have been wonderful. But urban planning has given us soulless high rise, after high rise, after high rise apartment and office blocks and with them dreadful wind tunnels. It feels like a desert city. What a location. What an opportunity. What a waste. When it was first mooted it was to be THE new waterside city of Melbourne (to compete with Sydney!?). Historically Melbourne has always turned its face from the water - think the Yarra River before Southbank and even to this day the 10 year old Melbourne meeting place Federation Square does not embrace the Yarra. 
Docklands looking towards the city
Docklands has struggled to attract visitors and the word now is that it will be at least another 10 years before it 'settles into the psyche' of Melburnians. Sadly I wonder if it ever will. There seems to have been one disaster after another. The enormous 38 storey ferris wheel (to compete with London's Eye?!) buckled in the heat of its first summer (great engineering in the land of heat and weather extremes!). At the time the Chairman announced that "the excessive heat over the last few days has buckled some bracing members" (members? - is that another weasel word!). Built in 2008 it was originally named the Southern Star Observation Wheel and it has now been renamed the Melbourne Star. It will take more than a name-change to get it going!  Nearly 4 years later it is still not re-opened. (It might have been quicker to re-build it entirely!) How sorry I feel for the poor shop owners who have no thrill seekers to sell to!
The Melbourne Star with broken 'members' - The Age
In an effort to 'get Docklands going' the City of Melbourne is putting on free fireworks every Friday night in July and August starting at 7 pm. Located at 429 Docklands Drive (near Harbour Town) it might be worth a visit - if you have children! From the Cottage the number 48 tram will take you to Docklands. Alternatively if you are off to see the footy at Etihad Stadium before going into the game walk along the promenade to the western end and you might just catch some sparkle arkles. Just remember to rug up!
City of Melbourne ad for Docklands fireworks
I couldn't believe it when I was enjoying a marvellous concert at the South Melbourne Town Hall on a recent Friday night to suddenly hear boom-bash-boom-snap-crackle-pop - not from the world-renowned quartet - but from Docklands! 20 minutes of fireworks certainly made it an explosive and disconcerting beginning to Shostakovich!

I'm afraid it will take more than a free fireworks display to ignite my fire for Docklands.

What do you think? 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Heide (l) Heide (ll) Heide (lll) I love you!

It had never occurred to me before but as I write this the suburb of Heidelberg must surely be 'related' to the Heide Museum of Modern Art (I must be 'thick'). This is a little piece of paradise not only for gallery junkies like me but also those who love gardens. Although it's closeish (?!) to the city (and Richmond) it's not all that public transport user-friendly (there are instructions on the website but....). So if you have a car and a few hours to spare I recommend it. It's a hidden gem.
The pretty original farmhouse - Heide (l)
Renowned art benefactors John and Sunday Reed moved to the former dairy farm in 1934 - I recommend a visit to their original house (Heide l - well not called that but...) which now includes part of the Collection and Archive. The Heide Circle of the time included those who later became renowned Australian painters - Albert Tucker, John Percival and Sidney Nolan to name just a few. Our own Richmondite Mirka Mora (see earlier post 20 March 2013) was also part of the extended 'Circle'. In the early 60's the Reed's built a modern home which is now called Heide ll. It is fascinating to step back in time to view this marvellous gallery/home (with its one time must have - a 'conversation pit'). Finally in 1980 the Reeds sold Heide ll and much of the property together with the majority of their art collection to the State Government thus creating a public gallery and park. In 1993 Heide lll was born. 
John and Sunday Reed in front of the construction of Heide ll
The 15 acres of gardens include a marvellous kitchen garden. The grounds are beautiful, the sculptures dotted throughout the park are outstanding and to top it all off you can enjoy a coffee or breakfast or lunch at Cafe Vue (for those who don't have hundreds of dollars to visit the 3-hatted Vue du Monde in the city). You can even organise a divine picnic hamper (24 hours notice) and enjoy it in the park when the weather improves!  Of course you can always take your own picnic. 
Heaven at Heide
One of the current shows at Heide lll is extraordinary. I was in awe of Fiona Hall's Big Game Hunting. As it says in the catalogue '(she) is best known for extraordinary works that transform commonplace materials into vital organic forms' and 'A 21st century hunters den Fall Prey comprises a macabre yet wondrous wunderkammer of trophy-style sculptures of endangered species'. In order to get the picture here are some to wet your appetite.
Detail of the above = money has the domino effect of extinction of the bear
The disappearance of the apes
Glistening beaded skull
Beaded flower - note the stamen (are we washing it away)
Detail of the above - war - drowning - bombs the shape of the shark
Time is running out
Major cities of the world - icons
I could go on and on. I found her output and her thought processes absolutely riveting. My friend found it a bit depressing. But for me the ideas behind the pieces and the creation of them - and there were many - was extraordinary. I'll finish with a gem.
A sardine can with a video of flying fish - the symbol of escape from predators and also the historic Naval emblem of the ship of life
Whatever you do - don't miss it - you only have until 21 July.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Come fly with me

Who said Frequent Flyers had to be two legged? I've just received advice that Virgin Australia are the first airline to announce a Pet Frequent Flyer Programme downunder! 4 legs = 300 points! A bit mean really - you'd think they'd make it 100 points per leg!
Do they have their own pull-on luggage?
Frank Sinatra's voice - or more recently Michael Buble's - keeps ringing in my ears!

Come fly with me
Come fly, come fly away

Although the remainder of the lyrics are rather less doggie (!) you might want to pop over here and read them if you feel so inclined!

I was pleased to see that points can only be earned if you accompany your dog - so now you have no excuse not to bring him/her/it/them with you when you need a break at Bowen Cottage. You'll find a list of Doggie Things To Do to keep them happy in Richmond. Here is just a selection of my late Santa Lucia's favourites. 
The late Santa Lucia at the Cottage door (Santa brought her one Christmas!)
MCG Park - what better place to run and ‘kick a footy’! Walk towards the city – it is almost on the corner of Bridge Road and Punt Road - and head for the ‘G’. (You can’t miss it – huge light towers). Dogs can run free in most of the park (look for the signs/maps) and there is a gum tree that has had a canoe carved out of it by the aborigines. See if you can find it on the hill!

Barkly Gardens – these lovely gardens are doggie heaven – no leads, trees to smell and mark, grass to run on and lots of dogs! It’s great all day but for a really fun time make sure you are there in the early morning or after 5! The more the merrier!

What fun there is to be had and being able to earn points as well - what a bonus! Now there's no excuse not to bring the master or the mistress of your home to the Cottage Woof! Woof!