Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

Pooh Bear would be delighted by the number of beehives that now grace our city and suburbs. 

Isn't it funny
How a Bear likes honey?
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
I wonder why he does?

It's a very funny thought, that if Bears were Bees,
They'd build their nests at the bottom of trees.
And that being so (if Bees were Bears),
We shouldn't have to climb up all these stairs.

I love that we are slowly becoming aware of how important bees are to our survival. Without them busily pollinating the world our plants would not 'bear fruit' and feed us. The first time I became aware of honey being collected in a city was a film I saw about the nee-baroque Paris Opera House. To see beehives on the top of this wonderful building astounded me! 
Can you see the hives - I can't!
And now we have our very own Roof Top Honey Company. What a great initiative. There are beehives dotted around the city and on the roof of Federation Square there are now 10 beehives in a 'bee village'. They will deliver around 15-30 kilograms of honey in the 'high honey season' of October - April. The busy bees travel around 2-3 kilometres to collect their precious nectar. 
Scary - but look at the view!
I was surprised to read on their website that 'city' honey is more productive than 'country' honey The main reason for the success of urban bees is the variety of flora growing in the city compared with to what is now present in much of the countryside which often has just one crop dominating an entire area.  When that has finished blossoming, there is no more nectar for the local bees.  In Paris, after analyzing the honey it was discovered that it contained more than 250 different pollens. In the countryside there can be as few as only 15 or 20 different pollens. 

My friend stocks it at her marvellously eclectic Ganim's Store at 61 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. You will also find it at the wonderful new Spring Street Grocer (more on this precinct in a future post) at 157 Spring Street in the city. 
Honey jars or tubes (Pooh would love to drink straight from the tubes without getting his fingers sticky!)
Heide Gallery also have their own hives which are dotted around the property. Of course the honey is available at the lovely Cafe Vue (see earlier post 9 July 2013). And more people are now putting beehives in their backyards (I hope with Council/neighbour approval!) 

There are Apiary courses held every weekend at the Abbotsford Convent by the Urban Honey Co. The bees are moved around the area (Ceres, Abbotsford etc) on a trike - what fun! 
Beehives on the move!
So with Spring in the air the Abba song seems pretty appropriate  
Honey, honey, how you thrill me, ah, ha, honey, honey!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Les trams

Bridge Road is great for tram travellers (and therefore Cottage stayers!) as there is a choice of two trams heading into the city - the 75 lumbers along Flinders Street (Federation Square) and around past Southern Cross Station while the 48 lumbers down Collins Street, past Southern Cross and over to Docklands. Either are great for the city and also for Etihad Stadium. To have the choice of two trams so close to the Cottage really is a bonus. And they run pretty regularly - except when you're in a hurry!
Laying the lines in 1927 - ready for the 75 and 48 trams!
I used to receive a questionnaire from Yarra Trams who have the contract for both tram routes but obviously I didn't answer the surveys with enough positive responses as I have been 'dropped' from their circulation list! One of their proposals was for 2 mega-stops in Bridge Road. I questionned why and recommended that they spend the money on more trams and better service. Silly old me! As you will see if you board near the Cottage my answer was ignored and Yarra Trams have now installed what I consider two dangerous mega-stops along Bridge Road. One wonders why? I suspect it has something to do with easy access for the disabled, wheelchairs and prams. Now I have absolutely nothing against those very valid and important needs but by providing only 2 stops between Punt Road and Church Street - and no others - seems rather bizarre. If you need to board the tram with a pram or wheelchair on the remainder of the 50 stops (on the 48 route) then it's back to the old way of boarding (passengers helping and/or sometimes the driver having to help passengers to board and disembark). And - most of the trams still require a step up into them even from the mega-stop island. Which rather defeats the purpose of the exercise in my opinion. I think the mega-stops are dangerous - not just for those wanting to access the trams but also for cars travelling past them. 
When is a road not a road - when it's a dangerous ramped mega-stop
A friend reported seeing a car mounted at a bizarre angle - half on the road and half on the mega-stop. I watch drivers dithering as they try to decide whether they are allowed to travel following the tram tracks or whether they can drive over the hump of these new instillations. Strip shopping which is so integral to Melbourne with carparking along the kerb has also been diminished. Around 24 carparking spaces (6 x 2 x 2) have been removed just for the 2 stops - I just can't fathom the reasoning behind it at all. It can't make the shop owners who are already struggling very happy.
The tram recovery vehicle - a good old truck!
I hate to think of the cost of these two mega-stops.  And for me the piece-de-resistance recently was seeing a bevvy of 8 trams (if that's what a line of stationary trams is called!?) in a row waiting in Bridge Road for the lead tram to be towed away by a truck! And to make matters worse it was one of the new French trams that wobble at speed and turn corners with difficulty, but do provide access for those wheelchairs and prams. It certainly made a farce of bringing our trams into the 20th century!
A 'bevvy' of 8 trams waiting patiently (?!) for the new tram to be towed away!
If you have a smartphone you can make your tram travelling easier by downloading the free apps. For your iPhone it is Tramtracker and for android phones it is Tramhunter. Both give you the time of arrival to the minute of your choice of trams/routes. I find Tramhunter great to ascertain when the next trams are coming as it lists their arrival time at your chosen stop - for example 3, 9 or 15 minutes. It gives me time to cram another thing into my schedule and not waste time waiting for the tram - or worse still - missing one by 30 seconds! 
A great app - as is Tramtracker
So armed with my MYKI card (a pretty useful tool now that I'm used to it - sort of!) and taking 'on board' the above provisos I do use the 48 and the 75 a lot. They're pretty quick, easy and safe. On the whole we're lucky to have them. Enjoy.

Bowen Cottage client comment: What a location! (and near the trams!)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Success of the Suffragettes - 111 years ago

Well the Federal election is over - thank goodness. But this is an opportune time for all women to reflect on the extraordinary work of the suffragettes who ensured that we were able to vote in the election! It is almost unthinkable to imagine not having a voice. 

111 years ago this month Australian women won the right to vote federally. (My home state of South Australia was the first to grant the right for women to vote in 1894 - while Victoria was the last state to grant the right!). In 1902 Australia was the first country to give women both the right to vote in Federal elections and also the right to be elected to Parliament on a national basis. The Indigenous population was only given their right to vote federally in - 1962.  

Suffragettes was a worldwide term used to describe all women who campaigned for the right to vote in elections (the famed British political activist and suffragette Emmeline (Emily) Pankhurst comes to mind). The thought that a woman was capable of focusing her attention on matters such as politics was incomprehensible to many men, and some women, who opposed the fight for female suffrage. They portrayed women as emotional, weak and unable to make decisions as well as being consumed with domestic and trivial matters. (I wonder how many still think this!)
Thank you Vida Goldstein
The first petition sought that 'Women should Vote on Equal terms with Men', and was gathered during 1891 when a few dedicated women including Marie Kirk, Vida Goldstein and Annette Bear-Crawford, literally went from door to door, eventually gathering almost 30,000 signatures from women all over Victoria and from all walks of life. It was presented to Parliament in September 1891.

Now one of Victoria's archival treasures and UNESCO listed, the document is known as the Monster Petition because of its size. It comprised fabric-backed sheets of paper glued together and rolled onto a cardboard spindle. It bears the statements ‘that government of the People, by the People and for the People should mean all the People, not half’, and ‘that all Adult Persons should have a voice in Making the Laws which they are required to obey’.
The Unesco listed Monster Petition
At 260 metres long it takes three people three hours to unroll it from one spool to another. Although this petition did not have an immediate effect on the voting rights of women in Victoria, it was an early and important stepping stone towards women's participation in politics, not just in Victoria but for all of Australia. (wikipedia and Public Record Office Victoria).

Beautifully located, beautifully simple
One of my favourite outdoor sculptures can be found in Burston Reserve/St Andrews Place (near the Park Hyatt Hotel and St Patrick's Cathedral) on the very edge of the city (off Spring Street!). The Great Petition was installed in 2008. I think it is beautiful.
I wonder if the young man climbing it stopped to read the history of the sculpture
Have you seen the sculpture? If you haven't do drop by when you are in the area. We take so much for granted these days. Did you know the history of the Australian suffragette movement?

Bowen Cottage client comment: The 'girls' (rather appropriate in this post!) give the thumbs up for my choice of the Cottage. Thank you for allowing us to stay. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Melbourne = 10/10

I was interested to read that Melbourne celebrated Melbourne Day last week. Not only have I never heard of it but I saw no marketing on how it was being celebrated. Melbourne was founded on 30 August 1835 - just 178 years ago. We really are a young country. It seems that we need a celebration or an 'event' or a 'festival' for everything nowadays. I feel 'overloaded' just hearing about yet another.
Melbourne - an 'open book'
Still we Melburians do have reason to celebrate winning the world's most liveable city for the third straight year.  As reported in the Huffington Post - The Economist Intelligence Unit (that sounds frightening) take into account: stability, calculated via crime rates and other forms of civil unrest; access to and quality of healthcare; culture and environment; availability of and quality of education and infrastructure. 

It was interesting to read that the top 10 included 4 Australian cities - Perth, Sydney and Adelaide. Vienna was second and Vancouver third. But I was stunned at the ratings that were given for Melbourne with a total score of 97.5.
Stability: 95
Healthcare: 100
Culture & Environment: 95.1
Education: 100
Infrastructure: 100

How can the EIU give this city a rating of 100 for infrastructure when we don't even have a rail network to the airport! I would have given us a 100 for Culture and Environment and an 80 for infrastructure. I hate to think what the politicians will do with this!
The world's most liveable city in danger of turning into skyscraper city (wikipedia)
Still I have to agree that for Richmondites (and of course those staying at the Cottage) there is plenty of public transport - tram, train and bus all within walking distance - and then it's just a hop step and a jump into the city. But woe-be-tide those who live on the outskirts of this city. A 1+ hour commute with no public transport must be horrendous. 

Let's hope we don't rest on our laurels for too long or we'll plunge fast right out of the ratings. Until next year......

Bowen Cottage client comment: It truly is a haven