Friday, June 27, 2014

Sam and Lili and Heidi

Our morning started early with an 8.00am date at Chez Dre in Coventry Street, South Melbourne, to catch up with niece Erin and all the W family........which included a first sight of (and cuddle with) baby Sam (he's not even 3 months old yet and look how alert he is!).

Baby sam put up with all the cuddles and goo gaa-ing - all the while maintaining his general adorableness.

Lili is a very grown up big sister now and took a l-o-n-g breakfast session in a crowded (but wonderful) cafe with a bunch of adults in her stride. I really enjoyed our little D&Ms about Peppa Pig and co. Apparently she loves Peppa Pig just as much as her (second) cousin Abi does.

After our lovely catch up with the W family we dropped Claire back at the Intercontinental and then headed east of the CBD towards Bulleen, to the Heidi Museum of Modern Art.

Heidi (1) (the site of an old dairy farm) was bought by John and Sunday Reed in 1934. It was restored by them and eventually, throughout the 40s, right through to the 70s, became home to a collection of Australia's most important painters including Albert Tucker, Sydney Nolan, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Mirka Mora among others.

Sydney Nolan painted his iconic Ned Kelly series in the original Heidi dining room in the mid 1940s (allegedly with Sunday Reed's help).

We were stoked to find an exhibition of George Baldessin prints on show at Heidi 1 today - and to learn that Baldessin's original printing studio was in the old Winfield building on Collins Street - which has been absorbed into the Intercontinental Hotel now. Claire, Jeremy and the boys were possibly staying in a room that may have been a part of the old Baldessin studio!

I loved seeing the Mirka Mora "murals" painted on the glass windows of the old Heidi sunroom. She's 86 now - but just as much a free spirit as ever - a real Melbourne institution!

Heidi (2) was built for John and Sunday Reed in the early 1960s as a "gallery to be lived in". It remained their home until 1980. Today in the still very contemporary spaces of Heidi 2 we saw an exhibition of works curated from Mirka Mora's own personal collection.

This is the outside view of Heidi 2 complete with kangaroo installations.  We are lucky enough to have our own real life kangaroos in our front garden in Canberra.

The Reeds returned to live in Heidi 1 in 1980 after selling Heidi 2, their land holdings, and most of their art collection, to the Victorian government, after which Heidi 2 became a public art gallery.

After major re-development in 2005-2006 the current version of Heidi 3 opened as a contemporary gallery space adjacent to Heidi 2.

Today in Heidi 3 we were thrilled to see a room full of intricate and meditative work by Michael G Prior, based on the idea of the "Organum". His work was in the Explorations 14 show at Flinders Lane Gallery too, which we'd been to on Thursday night. well as Emily Floyd's playful but carefully constructed Far Rainbow exhibition in the main gallery......

As we were leaving the gallery I am thinking....... this is a really interesting garden space I see in front of me ...hmmmm....espaliered gum trees...hmmm....never seen that before.....hmmm.... Then I see that Fiona Hall is responsible for this garden...she of the amazing fern garden installation at the National Gallery of Australia...hmmm. Now I see why it is such an interesting garden!

Before we left we walked around Sunday Reed's kitchen garden to the side of Heidi 1 - noting her poignant little heart garden created by Sunday when her beloved Sydney Nolan departed Heidi in the late 1940s.

..and her expansive kitchen garden, now fully restored and in full use by the on site Cafe Vue at Heidi

24 hours in Melbourne

Claire's work was selected for the Exploration 14 exhibition of emerging artists at the prestigious Flinders Lane Gallery. We were all in Melbourne last night for the official opening of the exhibition - so exciting!

Each year one of the emerging artists "wins" a solo exhibition at this beautiful gallery. Because Claire had prepared us we were fairly unsurprised to hear that Annika Romeyn (another ANU student and coincidentally a former student of Claire's at Lyneham High School in another lifetime) was announced the "winner" of this rather wonderful opportunity, as her work was a clear favourite of the gallery  director.

The night didn't end there. We celebrated Claire's amazing achievements with a wonderful Italian meal after at Yak on Flinders Lane - with flavours to die for!

We kidnapped the boys this morning and took them for a tram ride up Elizabeth Street to the lovely old Victoria Markets. Rob had promised them a brattwurst and sauerkraut, but they were in no hurry, and spent ages taking a keen interest in all the food stalls, even the old school seafood and butchers' stalls.

They were amazed by seeing rows of beautifully arranged pigs trotters, livers and pigs ears for sale.

Ollie enjoyed his brattwurst but Rob couldn't tempt Angus - he preferred the raspberry doughnuts from the Polish baker.

The Victoria Market has an area out the back devoted to the sale of cheap bling and ticky tack and the boys were looking forward to checking that out.  But they were easily distracted by these cages of gorgeous chickens (for sale).

The boys eventually chose wisely at the bling stalls - selecting Pokomon cards to build on their existing collections.  I watched them play a game with them as we tried to warm ourselves over a hot coffee - It was surprisingly mathematical!

The boys showed us their hotel afterwards - the Intercontinental on Collins Street.  I offered to swap them our room keys at the Melbourne Citigate (on Flinders Street) but they wouldn't agree!

We love Melbourne, especially in Winter. The laneways are full of convivial warmth and life, the shopping and food outlets are amazing and we love the surprises around every corner - like the old ANZ bank building on Collins Street - still trading to this day - and looking amazing!

We met up again tonight: drinks at the old Young and Jacksons Pub opposite Flinders Street Station and then the most wonderful Japanese meal at Kenzan on Flinders Lane.  Claire chose beautiful dishes for us - fresh, delicately balanced flavours - enhanced with Japanese plum wine and semi dry sake - unforgettable! The boys just adored the food too. They'd been looking forward to it all day. They knew what to expect as they'd been before!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It's winter

We're not talking about why we were in Bowral the other weekend (this is a blog about delightful things after all!) but there were a few aspects of it we really enjoyed. Staying at Links House, opposite the golf course, was an unexpected pleasure. Built in 1928 as country guesthouse it has loads of character and charm while being immaculately maintained.  I won't forget the wonderful breakfast, cooked to order and featuring all local produce, in a long time.

The drive back to Canberra gave me an opportunity to photograph the Lake George wind farms on one of our early winter, big blue sky days.

Our new Conservative government is introducing legislation into Parliament to repeal the Carbon Tax this week and by way of introduction Joe Hockey, our country's enlightened Treasurer, has announced that this wind farm is a blight on the landscape - something ugly, that offends him every time he drives past!!!!  Obviously, open cut coal mines are much more to his taste.

We visited the very classy Bowral Farmer's Markets (takes place every second Saturday of the month) on Saturday morning. We resisted the temptation to buy a couple more cymbidium orchids in fabulous flower, but succumbed to the charms of the French guy flogging his smoked spiced sea salt and organic garlic.

Rob purchased a bagful of goodies fresh from local farms and was inspired to get cooking.

Another charm of cooler weather is the Sunday night roasts we enjoy with J & J and A & E. Joshy does a wonderful job with his spit roasts and the girls are the greatest fans of what he creates.

We always talk about the similarities (or not) between Abi and Ella - so I decided to present Exhibit A and B as evidence. Exhibit A (above) is a picture I took of Abi last night (age 2 years and four months). Exhibit B (below) is a picture I took of Ella at exactly the same age. I purposely chose pictures with similar positions and expressions. But even if you discount this you can easily see the similarities!

 .....but still some differences!

This girl is one cheeky monkey!

Abi loves playing with her big sister - which can result in some real disruptions at times. Ella's big girl, highly focussed activities are usually much too hard for a two year old to cope with.

Last night there was quite a long period of peaceful play with the wooden tiles from the Hungry Caterpillar set. Ella was stacking them into threes and then calculating 3 times multiplication formulas while Abi was happy matching apples.

... (and black olives).

Monday, June 2, 2014

Brisbane wedding

We got back to Brisbane late on Thursday in readiness for Matt (Rob's nephew) and Mel's wedding at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday afternoon/evening 31st May.

We'd booked into Kirribilli Apartments overlooking the river, on Oxlade Drive, New Farm, only a few minutes away from the Powerhouse so on Friday afternoon we thought we'd head up there for a coffee and a look see.

The building was once a working power station which electrified the city (especially its tramway system) from the 1920s - the 1970s. It was abandoned for many years but used by artists, rebels and fringe dwellers as a performance space and hang-out. The first redevelopment of the building was completed by 2000, achieving its current form as an edgy, alternative, performing art space and cultural centre by 2007.

By Saturday morning more members of the P family had arrived - great excitement: Ella's third wedding, Abi's first - probably the first one Ella will remember in detail.  There'd been a few rain showers, so plans for a ceremony in the adjacent park were changed to under canvas on the rooftop of the Powerhouse, overlooking the Brisbane River.

Ella's and Abi's (2nd) cousin Zoe made a sweet flowergirl. 

.....And Matt and Mel made a very handsome couple (of course). Their ceremony was very thoughtful and heartfelt, and brought tears to the eyes of most of the guests.

Matt later told us a funny story about how he'd hurriedly decorated that lovely arch only an hour or two before the wedding. Apparently it was one of those jobs that was overlooked in the rush of the wedding week. He raided the flower garden in nearby New Farm Park for the required greenery and white blooms - but don't tell anyone that though.

Abi slept through the lovely ceremony and Ella looked incredibly serious and a little overcome by the presence of so many unfamiliar relatives.

But after the ceremony Zoe took her around and introduced her to everyone properly.

This group includes Rob's older brother and his sister-in-law - Matt's Mum and Dad.

There was a short break after the ceremony while Matt and Mel had photographs taken so we took the girls to the park for some active play. Abi woke up just in time for this.

As dusk settled we returned to the rooftop terrace where a bar had been set up and lovely antipasto platters were circulating around the candle lit tables.  Matt and Mel had organised a very child friendly wedding with little tubes of colouring pencils and notepaper provided for each of the young ones. It kept Zoe, Abi and Ella absorbed for AGES during cocktail hour.

Abi stayed entranced by that river all evening - she was picturing all those bub ubs (fish) swimming in the water and wanted to know ALL the details. Girls who grow up in Canberra don't see too many rivers up this close.

With dinner underway - there were more fun tasks to undertake - polaroid selfies, with the opportunity to create fun messages for Matt and Mel to keep as mementoes.

This gorgeous couple have been married 10 years already...fancy that! 

There weren't many speeches, but they were all sweetly funny and loving. Matt scored quite a few laughs with his.

The pic below is one of my favourites of the night. That's Rob's Mum with two of Matt's younger sisters. Bec and Jo MC'd the night - with lots of spirit and flair - all the P girls are pretty outgoing........nd they adore their Granny. Apparently they helped her organise her outfit for the wedding, including accessories and underwear - gorgeous girls!

Sunday morning and A & E were awake early, and enjoying the croissants available from about 6.30am at the wonderful Double Shot Cafe opposite the Kirribilli Apartments.

That kept them going until we were able to organise breakfast at nearby Merthyr Village. We were unbelievably lucky to get this table - everyman and his dog who live in New Farm go out for breakfast on Sunday morning.

All too soon we were heading off to the airport after a wonderful week reconnecting with family from Brisbane and sharing a gorgeous couple's wedding with so many of our favourite people.