Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Painting 'the trams' red!

Art trams were first introduced to Melbourne in 1978 as part of the Transporting Art project which ceased in 1993 - budget cutting!?!? Back in the 'good ole days' we loved the art trams - with works by renowned artists including Howard Arkley, Clifton Pugh, Mike Brown and the cartoonist Michael Leunig. Our own Richmondite Mirka Moira (see earlier post March 2013) also painted one. They pysically painted their designs directly onto the old W-class trams.

Ye olde Leunig Tram outside Luna Park
Now as part of the 'extended' Melbourne International Festival of Arts, Arts Victoria - and surprise surprise - Yarra Trams a new generation of artists have created 8 artworks (tramworks!) The 7 individuals and one 6-member collective were chosen from over 100 entries. However instead of painstakingly painting their own creations their designs have been printed onto vinyl and then affixed to the trams.

The one that most appealed to me is the art of David Wadelton which features houses from his own suburban Northcote neighbourhood. He used his photo archive of over 700 images to create a wallpaper to wrap the tram.
Bit hard to see but up-close-and-personal the Northcote house tram is a great concept
And another that appeals is the Lakorra tram. As it states on the website "Lakorra is the Wathaurung word for sky. Once upon a time, Melbourne city would have been an open expanse with a generous view of the sky, offering a reminder that it's not all about self. Today' the city is densely populated with skyscrapers and billboards dominating the landscape, full of consumerism with a constant focus on the self. Lakorra brings a bit of that sky and open expanse back into the streetscape. It reminds everyone of a time before the city stood in its place and of a people who walked those streets long before they were streets".
Lakorra Sky tram
And while we are talking trams if you are a tram obsessive (except to ride on one) then why not visit The Historic Tram Depot to see one of the world's most significant collections of heritage displays at the equally historic building (just a hop, step and a tram ride from Richmond. From the Cottage take the 75  to the depot on the corner of Power Street and Riversdale Road). It's open 11am - 5pm every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month except December when the trammies are obviously having holidays!!
Ye Olde Historic Tram Depot in Hawthorn
So keep your eyes out for one of the new vinyl artworks affixed to 8 of the trams running around Melbourne. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Beautiful Burnley Gardens

The greater Richmond suburb incorporates Cremorne and Burnley and at the Burnley Gardens is the Melbourne School of Land and Environment - part of Melbourne University. It is here that students learn their 'gardening' and other skills to take out into the big wide world. But their world at the Gardens is pretty special. 
'Abseiling' a tree! Learning how to lop a branch
Students can be found throughout the gardens weeding, planting, digging, learning to lop a branch and generally keeping the beautiful grounds in tip top condition. I guess they get good marks for good weeding, good tree lopping, mowing and much much more! The gardens were established way back in 1863 and are listed under the auspices of the Australian National Botanic Gardens. They are located at 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond and are open to the public 7 days a week. The coffee shop however is only open Monday-Friday mainly to serve the staff and students of the campus - but as it is run by Tansy Good (of the famed Tansy's Restaurant in Carlton which sadly closed a number of years ago) if you drop in during the week there will be a great cake, coffee, soup and famed chicken sandwiches etc to fill the cockles of your heart! 
The on-campus cafe
What is not generally known is that the gardens are open to anyone! And what gardens they are - just look at the following! The Heritage listed Summer House was built in 1911-12. It's a lovely place to sit and ponder the gardens and their lovely vistas.

The pretty heritage listed Summer House with the ubiquitous palm in the background!
Then there is the 'sunken garden' which is built on the site of the Principal's House (lucky him - I'm sure it wasn't a her in those days!) c. 1870 - 1980. 

The sunken garden on the site of the Principal's House
And then of course there are the vistas - of which there are just so many on this 8 hectare site. 

Rolling lawns and ancient trees
More gorgeousness!

I hope you've got the picture!
So take yourself off to visit this hidden gem. You'll have it to yourselves except for the students and staff on campus and just a few visitors. The gardens are tranquil, interesting and frankly a joy to behold. 

Bowen Cottage client comment: Thanks for the chocolate treat by the bed!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Como House and The Stables

The first time I tried to get into the trendy new cafe The Stables at the elegant National Trust Como Historic House and Gardens in Toorak (just across the river from Richmond) was on a Sunday. It was packed to the rafters with eaters and those waiting to eat. 'Bookings' were being taken by Prue and Trude look-a-likes (as seen in Kath & Kim). We fled the scene! Well I have now been back mid-week and although popular certainly not overflowing as it had been that weekend (and not a Prue and Trude in sight - well except for some of the clientelle look-a-likes!). And I discovered that they take bookings - 9827 6886. (I'm not sure if they do at the weekend - but I'm sure Prue and Trude will put your name on the list and you can wander the divine gardens and admire the house until your table is ready)
Prue and Trude - awaiting your visit to The Stables (twitter)
The Stables of Como is open for breakfast, br/lunch and afternoon tea daily. They will also organise a picnic basket for you to enjoy in the gorgeous gardens (of course you can take your own!). With or without Prue and Trude it is well work a visit.
Entrance to The Stables (Prue and Trude were absent)
Inside - light, friendly and tasty!

Sitting next to us was Andrew Prior - now unless you follow Masterchef you may not know who I mean. He was in the show this year but due to stress fractures in the feet (not from the cooking!!) he could not continue. He is now doing some terrific Food Tours of Melbourne (and France!) and was having a reconnoitre at The Stables of Como.  Hop onto his website to join one of his tours (www.queeniesfoodtours.com) they are fun, informative and most importantly yummy!
Andrew from Queenies Food Tours (recognise him from Masterchef?)

Spend some time wandering through the gardens and admiring the elegant Como Historic House and Gardens which was build in 1847. It was established by Edward Eyre Williams (not a relation unfortunately! - but his name remains as the House is on the corner of Williams Road and Lechlade Avenue). It is thought that Edward proposed to his wife at Lake Como in Italy (lucky her!). 
The elegant Como House - I love the all-white look
It was sold to Frederick Dalgety in 1852 (founder of the Dalgety Pastoral Company) and finally came into the hands of the Armytage family (10 children!) in 1864 for the princely sum of £14,000. The family remained at Como for 95 years until they handed it over to the National Trust in 1954. Unfortunately the house is only open to group tours at this time. 
Through to the herb garden
Stroll in the gardens or take a picnic

Bowen Cottage client comment:  To say that this cottage is a 'home away from home' is an understatement. We are regular visitors to Bowen Cottage and enjoy spending time there, as do our little dogs. It is perfectly located for people who love AFL, shopping, walking, eating out, and keeping fit at either the local pool nearby or the many yoga classes in Bridge Road. We look forward to getting back there again. (normally I don't include such a long comment but how could I resist this one. A big thankyou to Lisa, Will and a woof woof to Betty Jo and Este Belle)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Spring into Spring Street!

One of my favourite city 'streets' is Spring Street - rather appropriately named at this time of the year. There is so much to offer whether it be a visit to the wonderful Treasury Building (see post July 2012) the old Windsor Hotel (my parents loved staying in this once grand hotel and in particular in room 323 (I think) because it was larger, on a corner and had - wait for it - an ironing board included! - oh how things have changed!) Then of course there is our magnificent Victorian Parliament House. 
Parliament House  (wikipedia)
But it is the block between Bourke and Little Bourke Streets that I think really typifies Melbourne and all that it has to offer.
The view of Spring Street from The Supper Club
This mini-precinct comprises the continuously hatted restaurant The European, the divine clubby The Melbourne Supper Club on its first floor, The City Wine shop (and bar), The Spring Street Grocer and in its bowels (!) the very new and wonderful The Cheese Cellar (ooh the smell - cheesy heaven) and my altime favourite for rooftop views of Melbourne is Siglo (open from 5pm - 3 am daily!) When I'm at Siglo (2/161 Spring Street, 9654 6300), and in fact at any business in this mini-precinct I always feels as though I am transported to Europe! All businesses are owned by the same company and what a great entrepreneurial development it is. 

The Siglo view looking towards Parliament House and St Patrick's Cathedral
And of course there is the grand old Princess Theatre right next to The European, The Melbourne Supper Club and Siglo. What a city block! 

Arriving at Siglo - met by the Princess Theatre wall - amazing
The Princess Theatre wall abutting Siglo - Sir Benjamin Fuller - a theatrical entrepreneur 1875-1952
The Princess Theatre 'dome' (a bit washed out!)
While you are in the vicinity do pop over to see the pretty fountain and the Sir Doug Nichols sculpture (see post May 2013) in the lovely Parliament Gardens opposite, and just a hop step and a jump away you will find the Suffragettes Sculpture (see post September 2013) and also the rock bollards (see post July 2012)

As far as I'm concerned this precinct is Melbourne style personified and a must for locals and visitors to experience.

Bowen Cottage client comment: Wonderful cottage - many thanks