Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Our Chloe

A few years ago I decided to show a 'young man about town' (the only-just-met son of a friend of mine) some of Melbourne's famous sights. Now I hasten to add that I was not being a - I think they're called cougars - I just thought that as we were en route to the National Gallery International Collection to see the Monet Exhibition we would just pop in to see Chloe at the infamous Young and Jacksons pub on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets.
Young and Jacksons Hotel (wikipedia)
And what a corner it is with the Flinders Street Railways Station, Federation Square, Young and Jacksons (with Chloe) - and just to sober up the area St Paul's Cathedral! Now I need to admit here that although I had heard a lot about Chloe I hadn't actually seen her up close and personal. So acting as a 'tour guide' we swept into the hotel and up the stairs only to be confronted by a very nude - although rather beautiful - Chloe. 
The nymph-like Chloe
What was I thinking? What was he thinking? I was mortified as I tried to carry off this embarrassing situation. I couldn't get out of the room fast enough as the 'young man about town' lingered over the painting!!  I think the message here is - do your homework before you go!

However I do encourage you to pop in to see her if you're passing. After all she's a Melbourne icon. And in the right company there would be time to have a drink and 'enjoy her'!

Chloe was painted by French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre in 1875. It hung in the National Gallery of Victoria in 1883 for just three weeks before being withdrawn due to the uproar it created - especially by the Presbyterian Assembly! Young & Jacksons purchased her for 800 pounds. Apart from being damaged by an American serviceman throwing a glass of beer at her she has remained in the bar to host Prime Ministers, artists, poets, drunks, soldiers, sailors, celebrities, bushies, labourers and art connoisseurs - and 'young men about town' with blushing older tour guides! 

All that is known about Chloe is that she was a young 19 year old Parisian artist’s model named Marie. Sadly two years after modelling for the painting she boiled a soup of poisonous matches and after drinking it she died. It is thought the reason for her suicide was unrequited love.
Chloe's Bar
And so she remains as a Melbourne icon - albeit one with its own scandalous history - to grace the hotel built on land first purchased by the 'founder' of Melbourne John Batman in 1837. A visit that bought an uprepared blush to my face. 

C'est la vie!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ballooning over Melbourne

Quite often I am woken by a wooshing sound and when I open my shutters I'm greeted by a wondrous view of balloons floating towards me - I just hope they can't see in the window (they do come pretty close) as it would be a sight to behold! Ballooning is such a great way to see the city from a different angle.
How low and close can they go!
Landing - I hope!
Deflating nearby!
I've ballooned on the Atherton Tablelands in the hinterland from Port Douglas and Cairns. I must say it was pretty underwhelming. I had expected to see wonderful rainforests - somehow from above they looked a bit scraggy. And I thought I would be able to see the Great Barrier Reef or at least some of the closer islands. Sadly I didn't - we were probably too far away. And then there was the noise. I had never thought about the noise that the gas flame makes as it wooshes up into the balloon to keep the basket and the passengers aloft (thankfully). It was unbelievable. So instead of a gentle quiet float we had a gentle exceedingly wooshing noise float. 
Blowing up in Cappadocia
However I must say that when I ballooned in Cappadocia in Turkey a couple of years ago it was pretty amazing. But again the wooshing noise was pretty loud for one who would like to float sliently and gently above the sights. But the wooshing was worth it when you see what I saw!
Up up and away
It's getting crowded up there!
And there's more!
What a view!
Sometimes I thought the balloons were more amazing than the landscape which was 'awesome'!
I tried to go ballooning over the stupas in Bagan (3000+ of them) when in Myanmar last year. But sadly the weather was against us. We were woken at 4.00 am and told the flight was going, only to be followed by another call 15 minutes later to say it wasn't. Back to bed I fled! Still I would prefer that a balloonist didn't take a chance - and the Aussie female 'pilot' made the right decision. Plunging to the ground due to the weather - as has happened over the years - doesn't endear me to take a risk. 
What I missed in Bagan (remotelands.com)
So if you want to see Melbourne from above then Global Ballooning are Richmond based. I have often seen their baskets on the back of a trailer parked off Swan Street (and even outside the Hilton Hotel - that's where they have a champagne breakfast after the flight (and to warm up - it's kinda cool up in the atmosphere!)

Of course it's always an early start and subject to the weather. So if you want to go - you may have to try, try and try again until the weather is suitable. Its an odd thing but so often we have adventures out of our own city. So perhaps I need to go ballooning in Melbourne and have a look in my own window! Have you ever ballooned over Melbourne? Of anywhere else for that matter!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Kermit the Parking Permit

As those who stay at the Cottage know Kermit the Parking Permit is a very important person! When I first opened the Cottage one of my biggest concerns was to have a client depart with the 'rare as hen's teeth' parking permit. As I state in the welcome letter - he is your lifeline - and mine! Our local Council certainly makes having a permit (paid for) extremely difficult. How to have clients remember to leave it as they departed so that the next client can use it to park certainly put my mind to the test. And so I sewed Kermit the Frog onto the permit and I have to say that in the 10 years I have been running Bowen Cottage - he has only hopped off twice! And it's amazing how many clients comment on him. He is now into his second incarnation - and one client even bewailed the fact that he had changed his suit!
Kermit the Parking Permit - what a smart outfit to greet you!
So I was thrilled to read recently that the Melbourne City Council (not the local Yarra Council) in conjunction with philanthropist businessman Eddie Kutner is creating the most marvellously named Wonderment Walk. Their website (www.wondermentwalk.org.au) states:

Great societies are defined through their art, science and knowledge. Wonderment Walk Victoria (WWV) will strengthen Melbourne’s reputation as a creative city of knowledge by enhancing walking routes connecting places of significance with sculptural wonderments. We aim to create accessible open air galleries of sculptures & installations combining science, mathematics and art to engage passers-by with wonder, delight and curiosity.

I love the sound of a sculptural wonderment! And I was even more excited to read that the first 'sculptural wonderment' is a 2 metre tall Kermit (well frog actually!) who will have a frog's eye view of the city. His creator and 'father' is the renowned artist John Olsen who says he's very quiet - he just makes 'ribbit ribbit' noises. Now we might all laugh at the choice of the first sculpture being a frog but frogs are so important to our eco-system and environment. If frogs are 'ribbiting' then our community is singing. They are sensitive to our environment and absort water and chemicals (including ghastly ones like pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) through their permeable skin. So they are under threat not only from pollutants but also their habitats. 
'Ribbit Ribbit' - The John Olssen frog
A number of years ago I was entranced to hear Melbourne Philanthropist and Educator Ellen Koshland (of the Levi Strauss family) talk about bringing frogs back into the then highly polluted Maribyrnong River - she backed a project with the local schools to clean up the river and the children celebrated the return of frogs to the waterway. It's only now that I realise how important those frogs are to our lives. 
The remarkable Ellen Koshland
I have reflected on why I chose a frog for the Parking Permit - yes I know Kermit the Parking Permit has a certain 'ring' (ribbit) to it, but perhaps Helen's story (and now John Olsen's) just rang a bell (ribbit) with me.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Richmond gates

It's the quick and the dead here in Richmond. For ages I was charmed by some wonderful blackbird metal gates in Bridge Road. I always promised myself that I would stop and photograph them - and suddenly they were gone! They had 'flown' away to make way for another highrise! I miss them. Discussing 'interesting gates' with a Richmond friend the other day he said "Oh you should go and see the blackbird gates in Bridge Road", "They're gone" I replied. He was also shocked and saddened. So you see what I mean! And so it was that I determined not to be 'too late' in the future. One of my favourite sets of gates are in Stanley Street just up from Swan Street. They fascinate me. A twirly here, a twirly there, it looks as though the creator couldn't stop!
A work of art - so much more interesting than a boring metal gate
But it was some gates at 208 Lennox Street - just down from the Cottage (between Bridge Road and Swan Street) that I've been watching for ages. And so one day I stopped to photograph them - only to be welcomed by the front door opening and the owner 'greeting' me! I'd never seen a soul in all the years I'd been passing them. But all was well once I explained my reason for snapping. And so I heard the story of the gates which the owner - Mark Schaller - had made himself. The piece-de-resistance of the gates are large globs of glass that look like crystals (they are what I will call 'the glob wastings' from the Pilkington Glassworks which were collected during cleaning of the machinery). Now Mark is a famed artist (I didn't know!!) and he showed me around his studio - an old Richmond drinking house. The Melbourne Art Series Hotels (Olsen, Blackman and Cullen) are soon to include the Shaller Studios in Bendigo. I was on 'hallowed' ground. We'll visit the studio in a later post - I'm waiting for a Vogue Living spread coming out soon to show you the 'before and after' photos. But this post is about the gates - and here they are in all their glory. Mark tells me that only one 'glob' of glass has been removed - stolen by a Collingwood supporter!!

Ye olde drinking house with hand crafted gates (you can just see the canvas stack inside)

A 'glob' of glass!
Up close and personal - 3 'globs' here
So the moral of this story is - take a photo when you see it - otherwise like the blackbird gates they might 'fly away' or a Collingwood supporter might help themselves to another 'glob' at the olde drinking tavern!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Celebration Cakes!

Right across the road from the Richmond Town Hall is a cake shop that has always fascinated me. Their cake window displays are - how shall I put it - kindly - 'magnetic'. There seems to be a cake for all occasions - both tasteless - and otherwise. 
I'll have a number 4 please!
As I was photographing the window displays another face was peering in fascinated as well "I wonder what the actual cake tastes like" said the peerer! So do I!
For the princess before she grows up
And for Princess Kylie when she has grown up - every princess needs a Chanel bag!

Amazingly the Purity Cake Shop has been there for as long as I can remember at 296 Bridge Road. So they must be doing something right!
Wedding cakes (and even a wedding pillow stack on the right) for all occasions - walk in/walk out

I'm sorry to say that the leaning tower of choclolate mud cake which 'lived' in the window for ages has now been replaced by the leaning tower of red rose petals. But they are only just leaning - the mud cake really worried me. Perhaps gravity finally won the day.
The leaning tower of red roses - all tied up in cellophane

So do stop for a peek in the window if you're passing. It's a very good indication of what is 'hot' at the moment!
An iphone with apps aplenty

2 year old Tom - he's rather cute

I think this must be Tom's 'graffiti' grandfather - just around the corner!
And while we're on the subject of cakes and all things sweet - I was fascinated by the display of macarons in the supermarket Thomas Dux in Bridge Road the other day. I am seriously embarrassed to admit that for a minute (or more!) I thought the umbrella handles were some new macaron varieties being offered as a free tasting!
I'll have a pistaccio and a lemon macaron - oh and a raspberry, lavender and perhaps an orange one - oops they're umbrellas!!