Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Queen Victoria Market on a wet and windy Saturday

This weekend has brought much needed rain to Melbourne and so the bike stayed in the shed for the weekend.
In a momentary lapse of thought I suggested to Sue that we take off to the Queen Victoria Market. Without delay she agreed and next thing I know we were in the car and off to the city.

The Queen Victoria Market established in 1878

This weekend is Grand Final weekend for the Australian Rules Football. Neither of us has much interest in footy and the good thing is everyone is either at the game or at home watching it on TV.
Last year we were in Lygon Street Carlton when the Grand Final was on and the shops and cafes were empty.

The fruit and veg section of the 7 hectares of market.

Anyway, although the Queen Vic Markets wasn’t deserted, it at least wasn’t overcrowded. The market has a long history, being established in 1878. It is the largest market in the southern hemisphere with an area of 7 hectares or around 17 acres. The covered areas of the market contain 1328 solar panels, 2000 square metres generates 252,000 kw hours of electricity over the year.

Under cover area for seafood and meat - those prices are AUS$

There were other markets in the city such as the Eastern Market which no longer survives. The Eastern Market was demolished in the 60s and was replaced by Melbournes first high rise Hotel, the Southern Cross hotel. The Hotel’s claim to fame was that the Beatles stayed there on their concerts in Melbourne during the mid 60s.

The specialty stores are presented beautifully with lead light glass and gold leaf signage in many cases. Sue bought a wild rabbit from this stall.

The Queen Vic has had a bit of a shady past with supposed Mafia connections and certain criminal element at times. These days its rather trendy with some interesting specialty shops selling a huge range of produce from many other countries as well as the best of local produce.

This has to be my favorite stall - The French shop selling chesses, etc but look in the background, cycling jerseys and a classic steel framed road bike from the 70s.

My role in this trip to the market was pack horse and Le Banque. The more Sue became excited with the specials, the heavier the back pack became. Seafood, meat, fruit, and veg started being stuffed into the pack to the point that even the store keepers were showing signs of sympathy for me.

The corner Deli selling local King Island produce.
The benefits of course are the end results of enjoying Sue’s cooking of the produce, always washed down with a bottle of wine, in this case a Bordeaux 2005 blend of Merlot, Cab Sav and Malbec. We have this great wine chain called Dan Murphy, Uncle Dan’s, which has a marvellous array of local and imported wines.A stall selling chocolate, nuts and coffee - yum, yum.

The Bordeaux was just the perfect drop for the rib eye steak cooked beautifully with broad beans and potato slices cooked in duck fat.
As I write this blog the view from the study window is filled with the swaying of the Gum tree branches as the wind and rain lashes down. What happened to spring?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

South Melbourne - a suburb of peaceful elegance

Breakfast in Emerald Hill

An early etching of the Emerald Hill Town Hall

I worked in South Melbourne about nine years ago - it’s a great part of Melbourne with a rich history and a diversified range of architecture. Like many suburbs of Melbourne it had many pubs or hotels, almost one on every corner especially as it spreads towards Port Melbourne but that’s another area and story for a later blog.

My view from the cafe window

Originally settled in the 1840s, it was named Emerald Hill during the gold rush days of Victoria.
South Melbourne’s civic centre is dominated by its huge town hall built in the 1880s grandly overlooking the suburb from Emerald Hill. Quietly sitting in the town hall’s shadows is a row either side of double story Victorian era terrace homes. As I walk beside the Town Hall to explore these homes, the trees are starting to blossom and the flower boxes on the second story windows are colours of spring.

Clarendon Street

The gothic style of the ANZ (Australia & New Zealand) bank

A short walk to the main thoroughfare brings you to Clarendon Street, the shopping or commercial district of South Melbourne with its range of cafes and restaurants.
It’s in the side street leading to Clarendon Street I stopped for coffee and toasted fruit bread for breakfast on my way to work.

Obviously a favourite with locals, the person serving coffee seemed to know each customer by first name. It was interesting to sit there with my book watching people come and go. I sat with a full view to the street where people were on their way to work. A young couple parted with a kiss as they went in opposite directions with their takeaway coffees.

Terrace houses beside the Town Hall
Colours of spring

But its her back streets that intrigue me more. Sometimes you’ll find what seems like a grand residence, yet if you look closely, a faded painted sign gives away the building’s past. The name of an old hotel or pub can be seen just slightly against the upper regions of the building.
The Shamrock Hotel, now commercial office building

Just a couple of blocks back from Clarendon Street is the South Melbourne market, a place where a wide range of produce can be purchased. Surrounding the market are interesting little shops and cafes that need exploring. One such shop has taken on the French term Brocante for the antique and junk flowing out of the front door.

South Melbourne has an feeling of relaxed elegance that needs more than just a quick breakfast stop on the way to work. Maybe I’ll take Sue there for breakfast this weekend to explore.

Australia's Kangaroo and Emu look down upon the shoppers of Emerald Hill

Sunday, September 20, 2009

There's been a murder

My mate Nico had a birthday and we were all sworn to secrecy by his wife Bet, there was to be a murder and we were invited.

Da boys

Da broads

It would be a surprise to him.

Have you heard of murder mystery parties. Sue and I have been to a few and even held one ourselves. They are a lot of fun and Sue always slips into her Sarah Bernhart personality. It doesn't matter what her character might be, her accent always takes on a southern belle.

Da card game

On arriving at Nico and Bet's home, the rooms were decorated out as 1920s Chicago nightclub.

The men were dressed in 20's gangster suits with the women in flapper garb.

We were given the descriptions of our characters and certain dark deeds that we needed to perform during the night's entertainment.
Sue won a prize for best performer - why am I surprised?

Needless to say we were all totally in confusion but a great night was enjoyed.