Friday, July 29, 2011

Local profile - Fleur O'Luanaigh

I am pretty green at heart and it's hard not to be when you live in this area.  I can also vouch for the wildlife Fleur talks about - we have owls who sit on our TV aerial at night hooting their hearts out.  Mr Rosanna has also taken the boys to Banyule Flats just to see the kangaroos feeding at dusk.  Fleur also produces a newsletter called 'Greenwrap' if you're wanting to know more about all things environmental. Given it's National Tree Day this Sunday, I can't think of a better person to profile than Fleur!
Name: Fleur O'Luanaigh
Occupation: Environment Officer
Lives/works: Heidelberg Heights/Banyule
How long have you lived/worked here: 1 year

Describe yourself/what you do: My position is a grab bag of anything considered to be 'environmental'.  I undertake everything from technical writing like the development of Banyule's new Environmental Sustainability Policy and Strategy, direct the Sustainable Homes and Communities Program, and sometimes find myself counting Eltham Copper Butterfly Larvae with a torch at night on slippery slopes of Yandell's Reserve. Any other questions? No, really it is very variable and I can never quite know what each day will bring.  My manager has described me as the 'go to' reactive environment person for Council.  

Best thing about living/working in Melbourne's north-east: Definitely the lovely parks and reserves.  Fortunately for Banyulians we have the Yarra and Plenty River wildlife corridors including the fabulous Banyule Flats complete with koalas, kangaroos and Powerful owls. Take a walk there if you haven't already.  I live two minutes from my workplace and I am a big  fan of the non-commute!  The soil is good here  and I am currently developing a food production garden after having left one behind in Richmond. I grew up in the country on a farm and still very much have the need for a close intimate connection with food.  Living and working in the same community for the community is great! We have three boys and they go to school here so there are many mediums to connect with our community. 

For more information:
Fleur O'Luanaigh - Environment Officer
Banyule City Council PO Box 51 Ivanhoe VIC 309
Ph: (03) 9457 9828 Fax: (03) 9457 4690
Email: fleur.oluanaigh@banyule.vic.gov.au

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bootylicious

Contours Rosanna image via rosannavillage.com.au
I did boot camp at Banyule Primary on Monday morning.  For those of you who are interested, there are two fitness sessions being held on Monday and Thursday mornings from 9.30am - 10.30am - it's $10 per casual session or $80 for 8 classes.  It's run by Patricia - a Contours fitness instructor and she's very good.  She's also offering personal home training classes for $25 (instead of her usual $40) at the moment.  You can ring Sharon Marmo at Banyule Primary on 9459 0732 if you need more information or simply come along to a session at the school to sign up on the spot.  Be warned - running and boxing are involved and you will feel it the next day!

I've sadly not managed to get to many yoga classes or been running throughout the winter so it's definitely my Spring goal to get back into shape and regain some fitness.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

History repeating

Image via The Maltese Falcon blogspot
The Heidelberg Film Society is showing The Maltese Falcon tonight at the Heidelberg Theatre in Turnham Ave, Rosanna at 7.15 pm.  Call 9435 9960 for enquiries.  I've never seen it and both The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca are on my list of movies to watch - both were made within a year of each other in the 1940s and star Humphrey Bogart.
Image via Banyule City Council
The other thing I wanted to mention is Banyule Homestead at 60 Buckingham Drive in Heidelberg.  It's one of Banyule's oldest buildings  with great cultural and heritage significance and located near the Banyule Flats.  There is currently a case before Heritage Victoria as there is a proposed development (consisting of three double-storey dwellings on the site) which may potentially impact the view of the homestead from the Banyule flats and diminish the heritage signifance of the homestead and grounds.

You can write to Heritage Victoria, Level 4, 55 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000 if you wish to show your support for Banyule Homestead.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Of coffee and cafes

Coffee machine image via heavenespresso.blogspot.com
We caught up with some friends of ours in our old 'hood over the weekend.  It always feels a little surreal returning to Brunswick and seeing what's changed and what's stayed the same.  We drove past our old house, community environment park CERES and one of the first hole in the wall cafes (which is now a Brunswick institution) called Ray's cafe with it's middle eastern inspired brekky and lunches.  So hip there's no sign, just a red awning, stencil art and wooden crate stools on the outside pavement along with the now ubiquitous front communal table inside.  It reminded me of when Mr Rosanna and I first started dating...

Speaking of cafes, there is an Italian coffee machine exhibition currently on at the Museo Italiano Cultural Centre in Faraday St, Carlton (opposite Brunetti's).  It's open Tues - Fri 10am - 5pm and on Saturdays from noon - 5 pm.  Entry is free.  I've told Mr R to go check it out when he finally does his coffee connoisseurs course at Lavazza.  I bought the Lavazza gift voucher along with some Laguiole cheese knives (which you can buy locally at Darriwill Farm in Ivanhoe) and dark chocolate from Koko Black last year as a Christmas present for Mr Rosanna.  Cool hey?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Local profile - Wendy Brentnall

If you live in Rosanna or Diamond Creek (or anywhere in between for that matter), you've probably already heard about Wendy's Music.  I met Wendy the other night at a networking function not realising who she was at first.  After chatting for a few minutes, the penny dropped and I said to her, "Oh my god, I'm speaking to THE Wendy!". Apparently, she's gets that all the time...
Name: Mrs Wendy Brentnall-Wood
Occupation: Director of Music Education company  
Works:  I've worked in Rosanna since 1978 and Diamond Creek since 2009.
How long have you lived here?  I lived in Banyule from 1962 - 2007 and have been in Cottlesbridge (Nillumbik) since then.

Describe yourself/what you do:  I'm passionate about making music education easy and achievable so that as many people as possible can be involved in the enjoyment of making music.  My career began as a piano teacher putting myself through uni, then a classroom music teacher and music co-ordinator in several schools while continuing my private teaching.

Throughout my life I've always been fascinated by playing a wide variety of instruments. Although my formal lessons began on piano, I also learnt recorders at primary school and have always sung in a variety of choirs or ensembles.  In secondary school I learnt Clarinet, Oboe, Guitar and Percussion, then later took up violin, flute, drums and saxophone to varying levels.
Due to demand I began employing teachers in the mid '80s to assist in my goals of encouraging people of all ages to play.  We opened our first retail music school in Burgundy street, Heidelberg in 1985 known as Wendy's Piano Music and from there ran the Heidelberg Piano Eisteddfod for three years.  Eventually I wrote my own series of over 110 teaching books and other teaching materials that make learning to read music simple and structured and which form the unique Wendy's Music method, the Little Musos program and workshop programs.

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east:
I love the bush and wildlife in Cottlesbridge.  There's easy access to the city and a strong, artistic culture in both Banyule and Nillumbik.

For more information:
www.wendysmusic.com.au
http://www.twitter.com/wendysmusic
http://www.facebook.com/WendysMusic

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to the future

I've just been accepted onto the Public Art Advisory Committee in Banyule for the next three years - it's a voluntary role and one which I'm really looking forward to as it will be fantastic to have input and involvement regarding public art in the area.
McCubbin image via Wikipedia
There is also an umbrella Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee made up of some really dynamic and exciting people and I think the future looks bright for cultural facilities in Banyule.  One of the two proposed developments includes an internationally recognised purpose built gallery in Heidelberg called the Impressionist Laboratory (leveraging Banyule's artistic cultural heritage of the Heidelberg School).  I could never figure out why Banyule didn't have a gallery, and one which focused on the Heidelberg School in particular, so it's great to know there is something in the pipeline although this is likely to be a long term project.
Heidelberg Artists Trail image via Wikipedia
The second proposed development is turning the Banyule Arts Space into the Cultural Vault - a community access space and programming vehicle that creates cultural programs around the city, which would be linked to the Impressionist Laboratory.  A short-term committee has been established to further progress this development and get things happening sooner rather than later so I think it's a really exciting time to live or work in Banyule.  Here's to the future!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I heart art

Ancient Mother Earth by Denise Walker
I've mentioned landscape artist Denise Walker before.  She's actually done a tree change (for love no less!) from the Kimberley in WA to Eltham.  Her Sacred Earth painting previously featured on this blog has just won a prize at the Kimberley Art Show in Derby and she has very kindly donated her Ancient Mother Earth painting (pictured here) to raise funds for a Melbourne women and children's shelter.

Wendy Stavrianos: Fragments of Memories also opens at the La Trobe University Museum of Modern Art today and runs until 2 September.  The exhibition will be officially opened by artist John Wolseley next Wednesday evening and a public program called Wendy Stavrianos in Conversation will be held on Friday 12 August from 2 - 3  pm.  For more information call (03) 9479 2111 or visit the LUMA website.

Nb.  Miss Rosanna is a freelance copywriter for La Trobe University

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anywhere but here

I'm not a big fan of Winter and am officially over the cold as much as I love this area.  I know, I know, I shouldn't be complaining - I got to go to Hong Kong only a few weeks ago.  But there is a lot to be said for going somewhere warm to relax on a beach and do little else and that will be my next holiday with the kids.
1936 Cord, Delightfully Deco exhibition image via Art Deco Buildings
Mr Rosanna and I have done a few regional Victoria trips to places like Queenscliff, Castlemaine, Daylesford and Bendigo over the past couple of years.  We also want to take the boys to the snow next year.  We would both like to go to Beechworth at some stage - I've never been there and there's an Art Deco exhibition called Delightfully Deco currently on at Albury which I'd love to see.
My heart wanders book image via The Crafty Minx
Besides dreaming of warmer places, I also had to stop myself buying more art and design books at Andrew's Books last weekend.  On my wish list is a book about Australian textile designer Florence Broadhurst called Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives and My Heart Wanders by Australian stylist, photographer and author Pia Jane Bijkerk about her travels and setting up homes in Amsterdam, Paris and Sydney.  If you like Florence Broadhurst, you can buy her wallpaper, wall decor and fabric online from Signature Prints.  I also dream of buying a Florence Broadhurst design rug from Cadrys Rugs.  One day Miss Rosanna one day...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Flower power

Mr Rosanna, the boys and I actually spent some time in the garden on Saturday - it was great to get outside and feel the sun on our skin after such a cold school holiday break spent mainly indoors.  I am looking forward to Spring and seeing everything come to life again.
Image via Flowers Vasette
My favourite flowers are orchids, lilies and roses.  I also love the smell of gardenias and the look of tulips and camellias (Coco Chanel's favourite flower).  I do love native flowers as well for something different.  When I lived in the inner north, I used to buy special occasion flowers from Flowers Vasette in Brunswick Street, which is virtually an institution now.  In the four years I've been in Rosanna, it's been a bit harder to find a florist with a bit of style about them.
Image via Jaclyn Roma
In the past couple of months, I've had some gorgeous flowers and plants given to me by friends and family as gifts.  One bouquet from my friend Natarsha came from a city florist called Flower Temple in the QV building.  The other more recent hyacinth plant given to me by my sister in law Liz was from a local florist called Jaclyn Roma.  Jaclyn has just opened her shop at 71 Silverdale Road in Eaglemont.  I wish she had been in the area when I got married because her floral designs are absolutely beautiful.  Think I will be finding an excuse to visit Eaglemont Village very soon...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Local profile - Lene Kuhl-Jakobsen

I've talked about Lene before and her beautiful ceramics.  Needless to say I've got my eye on a few of her pieces as gifts for friends and family.  I also think working with clay is one of the more meditative arts.  Lene currently sells her pieces locally at the Ivanhoe Maker's Market which will be moving from Banyule Arts Space around the corner to the Livingstone Community Centre in Ivanhoe next month.
Name: Lene Kuhl Jakobsen
Occupation: Ceramic artist
Lives/works: Heidelberg
How long have you lived/worked here? Since 1987
Describe yourself/what you do:  I work from a studio at home hand-making high fired stoneware items mainly functional wares such as vases, bowls and tea mugs.  I participate in many exhibitions in Australia with one-off pieces such as sculptures and larger works.  I am also often asked to make special pieces for gifts.
I design and make a variety of different series of pieces to cater to various style tastes! I sell these at a few different shops in Victoria such as Craft Victoria, Twenty 21 and Wilkins and Kent.  I am also part of the Ivanhoe Makers Market which takes place on the 3rd Saturday of the month.  The next market is on 20 August at the Livingstone Community Centre in Ivanhoe.
Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east: I love the green areas along the Yarra and the creeks.  It is so special to have kangaroos and amazing bird life so close by.  I also like to go bike riding along the paths in Banyule and beyond.

For more information:
Website: www.lenekj.com
Phone: 9457 5770
Email: studio@lenekj.com

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One for the kids

I was reminded over the weekend about the Banyule Toy Library at 19 Interlaken Street Rosanna (opposite Rosanna Primary and in front of Interlaken Kindergarten).
image via Banyule Toy Library
It's a great idea if you want to rotate toys for your kids on a regular basis (without having to shell out for new toys which your kids may quickly lose interest in) and it's also good for the environment.  The toy library is open Mondays evenings 7 pm  - 8.15 pm and Tuesday mornings 9.45am - 11 am.  Email banyuletoylibrary@gmail.com or call 0450 312 004.  Cost is $50 per family per year or $25 if you have a health care card.  There are also other toy libraries around the place if you check the Toy Libraries Victoria site.
image via Banyule Toy Library
The Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra is also holding a number of educational children's concerts this month at the Performing Arts Centre at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School.  Performances will be held on Sunday 31 July at 1 pm and 2.30 pm and past performances have included themes from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones as well as classical music like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Peter and the Wolf.  Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online or by phone 9005 1792.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Books and more

Call me a nerd but I do love our local library.  The boys love playing in the kid's area and finding new books to read.  You can also pick up lots of information about what's happening out this way.
Image via www.romulusmyfather.com.au
Speaking of which, the Yarra Plenty Regional Library itself is hosting the screen reads Booklovers Festival from 18 - 29 July where you're invited to escape the winter chill and compare the book to the movie.  Books covered will include Romulus, My Father, Animal Kingdom and Tomorrow, When The War Began.  Refreshments are provided for these evening events and you do need to book at www.yprl.vic.gov.au or phone the relevant library.

Ivanhoe Library is also holding an Antique, Heirloom and Fashion Roadshow on Sunday 24 July in partnership with Banyule City council from 2 - 4 pm.  You can bring along a family heirloom for a free appraisal from Dawn Davis of Eaglemont Antiques.  Dawn will also talk about antiques and preservation and Ann Dixon from Bygone Days will talk about 1920s-1980s fashion.  Devonshire tea will be served and the event will be held at Banyule Arts Space.  Bookings are required on 9490 4222.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vive le France

I mentioned Vue de monde yesterday.  Bastille Day is this Thursday and Cafe Vue at Heide actually has a $95 Bastille Day dinner for all you Francophiles out there.  The cafe is also holding a special dinner event with artist Callum Morton as part of the Victorian State of Design Festival which kicks off on 20 July.  For enquiries call 9852 2346.

There are also another couple of things I wanted to mention.  While Iyengar yoga is my passion, I have done pilates as well - I did a great course a few years ago at Armature Pilates when I was still living in Brunswick and found it really helpful after having a child.  Locally, my sister-in-law Liz (who has a background in occupational therapy) has done classes at Seasons of Life which is run by Fiona Greuter - a qualified physiotherapist.  Meanwhile, Hardcore Pilates run classes on Thursday mornings (during school terms only) at the Macleod Community Hall.  It's $120 per term or $15 pay as you go.  Contact instructor Celia Jones on 0419 519 489 to book.

Finally one of my favourite markets is coming to Ivanhoe!  Magnolia Square will open for the first time at The Centre Ivanhoe the weekend of the 20 - 21 August.  Stalls will include fashion, homewares, jewellery, accessories, food and gorgeous things for children as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

An indulgent affair

Had a busy weekend rushing around on Saturday - Mr Rosanna, the boys and I visited the library, grabbed takeaway snacks from a jam-packed Miss Marie (which was jumping inside) and bought some presents from Creative Minds and Andrew's Books in Ivanhoe.  Sunday morning was spent attending a fourth birthday party with the boys and on Sunday afternoon I got to relax with my sisters and enjoy a belated birthday celebration at The Windsor.
It is one of those quintessential Melbourne dining experiences.  I have previously had high tea at the Aria Bar in the Langham Hotel's Melba restaurant and I know Sofi's at the Sofitel also offers high tea.  You can also experience a Viennese inspired high tea at the NGV's brand new Kaffeehaus Vienna as part of the Vienna: Art & Design exhibition currently on in Melbourne.  The beautifully restored, heritage listed Myer Mural Hall is also offering three special afternoon teas over July, August and September.
High tea at The Windsor was a very civilised affair in sumptuous surroundings - the perfect antidote to a very cold and miserable day in Melbourne.  Champagne on arrival was followed by sweet and savoury, hot and cold offerings on a 3 tiered silver stand with full table service (except for the dessert buffet).  The service by the way is excellent, the food was good - the pastries were a bit salty and the scones could have been more moist but the lovely ambience more than made up for these minor criticisms.  I also appreciated the special little touches like the waiter asking if we were celebrating an occasion and then coming out with a birthday treat at the end. 
After dining in high rise restaurants with amazing views in Hong Kong, I'd say two of the best views of Melbourne would be found at No 35 Restaurant at the Sofitel as well as the newly opened Vue de monde at the Rialto in the city if you get a chance to go to either.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Local profile - Cara-Ann Simpson

Ok.  There's talented and then there's really talented and I think Cara-Ann falls into the latter category.  I happened upon Cara while dealing with the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre not realising her artistic talent and international recognition in her own field to date.  Given the sound and light installations happening around the city, I hope it's not too long before Cara is given the opportunity to show us some of her amazing work right here in the north east.  And I really love those headphones...
Name: Cara-Ann Simpson
Occupation: Visitor services at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, freelance sound installation artist & Co-director of Electrofringe Ltd
Lives/works: Lives in Abbotsford, works in Bundoora.
How long have you lived/worked here? I've lived in Abbotsford for 2 years and also worked in Bundoora for 2 years.

Describe yourself/what you do:
I guess at the moment I have 3 distinct roles as artist, Visitor Services Officer at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre and Co-director of Electrofringe Ltd. I am a multidisciplinary artist with a focus on sound, space and the participant and my artistic practice predominantly involves interactive installation. I'm currently working on a very exciting project called Geodesic Sound Helmets (http://www.caraannsimpson.com/work/GSHelmets).

At Bundoora Homestead Art Centre I am the Visitor Services Officer during the week, which is an incredibly exciting and diverse position!
"Transitional Spaces: Underground Singapore" from 2010, medium is ink-infused metal
In January 2011 I became the new Co-director of Electrofringe Ltd, which is an electronic arts organisation with year round programming and an annual festival in Newcastle, NSW. In 2010 I received an ArtStart grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, presented my first co-authored conference paper at IEEE International Conference on Multimedia & Expo (Singapore) and received a Young Artists' grant from the City of Melbourne. In 2007, I was the recipient of the Hobday and Hingston Bursary from the Queensland Art Gallery and also received the University of Southern Queensland Faculty of Arts – Visual Arts medal in the same year.

2011 is going to be an exciting year for me, in early June I travelled to Toronto, Canada where I was invited to give a presentation, poster and demo of the prototype for Geodesic Sound Helmets, in September I will be travelling to Istanbul in Turkey to present a paper about the same project at the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2011) and the project will also be presented in New Zealand at Blue Oyster Art Project Space (Dunedin) and in Melbourne at Kings ARI at the end of the year.

Best thing about living/working in Melbourne's north-east:
Living and working in Melbourne's north-east means I have access to a vast variety of really exciting and diverse arts projects. I also love that the north-east section of Melbourne has retained some incredibly beautiful parklands, especially surrounding the creeks and rivers – I'm always walking around the parks near Abbotsford (especially the Merri Creek and Yarra River confluence) to record the sounds.

There is an abundance of fantastic galleries, cafes and shops so whenever family or friends visit me, I make sure I take them around north-east Melbourne. One of the best things about working at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre is being able to access incredible art weekly – Im really proud of the program that the centre provides and this year there are some exceptional exhibitions on the way. Keep your eyes out for 'The River' towards the end of the year that will include some historically important artworks such as John Wesley Burtt's Batman's Treaty with the Aborigines at Merri Creek, 6th June 1835, c1875 and contemporary works by leading Australian practitioners like Polixeni Papapetrou, Eolo Paul Bottaro and Sharon West.

For more information:
Artist website: http://www.caraannsimpson.com
Electrofringe website: http://www.electrofringe.net
Bundoora Homestead website: http://www.bundoorahomestead.com
Facebook Fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/pages/Cara-Ann-Simpson/139552449414071
Twitter Handle: CaraAnnSimpson

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holiday fun

So it's school holidays and the usual suspects abound in the north east.  Heide Museum of Modern Art has a great school holiday program chock full of activities as well as the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and the many leisure and fitness centres around here.  There's also a circus in town!  Circus Olympia is on at Greensborough until 17 July while for aspiring magicians, The Melbourne Magic Festival is on at Northcote until 16 July.
For those of you brave enough to venture into the city, I think the NGV , the State Library of Victoria, ACMI plus Federation Square are great places to take older children.  There's also the big three attractions - the Melbourne Zoo, the Melbourne Aquarium and the Melbourne Museum.  Don't forget the National Sports Museum, Immigration Museum or the Chinese Museum as well for something a bit different.  If you head west, Scienceworks is also well worth a visit - my boys are obsessed with the inner workings of a domestic house on the ground floor and there's a great play area on the upper floor.
Besides Federation Square and the Zoo (there is actually free admission for kids under 16 at Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary over the holidays), all of these venues are indoors and out of the cold.  I'm yet to take the boys to the Melbourne Aquarium but have heard it's a little pricey (plus they've been many times to UnderWater World in Mooloolaba).  I do love the Children's Gallery for 3 - 8 year olds at the Melbourne Museum.  It's great if you have babies and little kids in tow.  It's around $8 for adults to get in and kids are free.  There's an outdoor play area and cafes as well as full change facilities and toilets nearby.

My tip is to go early - as soon as the museum opens and see if you can find a park around the perimeter instead of having to pay for carparking.  Hope you are staying warm!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dreaming with open Eyes

How cold is it outside?  Brrrrr...staying indoors at the moment although I think the boys are starting to get square eyes.  Mr R and I were actually going to take them to see Cars 2 until we found out it had a PG rating...
For the grown ups, a new exhibition has opened at The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham called 'Dreaming with open Eyes' by Pamela Irving.  She's best known for Larry La Trobe - the bronze dog sculpture in Swanston Street.  Pamela's also done some mosaic installation work at Luna Park (near the dodgem cars no less!) and this exhibition of colourful and fun paintings in gouache is inspired by her Luna Park work.  Admission is free and the gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am - 4.30pm.  There's also a great tea house behind the gallery which serves high tea as well as other sweet and savoury offerings.
The History Boys by Alan Bennett also opens at the Heidelberg Theatre Company tomorrow and runs until 23 July.  Shows start at 8pm Thursday to Saturday with Sunday matinees on 10 & 17 July at 2pm and Wednesday 20 July at 8pm.  Book at www.htc.org.au or call 8457 4117.  Tickets are $25 ($22 Conc, $20 Groups 10+).  The theatre is located at 26 Turnham Ave Rosanna. 
Lastly for you design lovers out there, textile designer Nicola Cerini is currently on sale with 20% off her bags until the end of July.  Happy shopping!

NB. Miss Rosanna is The Light Factory Gallery's freelance PR.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Born on the fourth of July

It was my actual birthday yesterday.  Yes, I'm born on the fourth of July.  After sampling the delights of Hong Kong (and warmer weather), I've decided I must celebrate one of my future birthdays in New York (that way everyone gets a public holiday on my birthday!) or Paris (seeing as it coincides with the Tour de France).  Back in reality (also known as north-east Melbourne), Mr Rosanna and the boys took me to Yarra Glen yesterday.
It was a great thing to do on a cold, wintry day in Melbourne.  I've mentioned The Yarra Valley Grand Hotel before but hadn't been in there since it was taken over by acting couple Alison Whyte and Fred Whitlock (who used to run The Terminus in Abbotsford).  It was fabulous.  They've created a very cool interior - I loved the pressed metal counters, the huge pendant lightshades and big front bar and lounge area.  They also have regular live music which gives the place a great vibe.
Will & Thomas - rocking horse in indoor play area
It was buzzing - no doubt helped by the light-filled dining area in the bistro and cosy fireplace.  It's also child-friendly - there's an indoor play area and kids menu (everything was $6.50) as well as a seniors menu.  I didn't get a chance to view the restaurant but I'm sure it would have been even better.
Lemon myrtle salt and pepper squid
After having eaten a cooked breakfast by Mr R, I didn't actually have a huge appetite so ordered two entrees instead - the parsnip and pear soup followed by the lemon myrtle salt and pepper calamari - both were yum.  Mr Rosanna looked like a cheshire cat with his beef vindaloo and red wine sitting by the fire.
Yarra Valley Antique Centre image via Willow Valley Store
After lunch, we briefly headed across the road to the Yarra Valley Antique Centre - a good thing as the heavens opened and it poured while we were inside.  It's like a big shed so we actually managed to fit the stroller in and keep the boys amused with all the vintage toy cars while I had a look around.  We came very close to buying another art deco lamp.
Birthday berries and custard in brandy baskets
Got home and my very lovely in-laws came over last night and cooked a special dinner of salmon with roast potatoes and green beans so I've been really spoilt.  I reckon I've now been eating for 48 hours straight as I had my besties around for coffee and cake on Sunday afternoon, followed by the same at my neighbours' place before dinner yesterday.  My sisters are also taking me out for high tea at The Windsor so more eating lies ahead...
The girls
School holidays on for the next fortnight and there's quite a bit happening around the place - more in tomorrow's post.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hong Kong part two

Our third day in Hong Kong was more low key - both Mr Rosanna and I were pretty tired and took it easy.  We slept in and caught the tram to Wan Chai (an up and coming area right next to Causeway Bay) where we had drinks at the very hip Pawn before heading into the city where we met Stephanie and her family.  We had lunch at Tai Ping Koon restaurant (Luk Yu tea house was booked out) which was also an experience - the waiters are still older male career professionals (most waiting staff are now young females as they're cheaper) and it's one of the oldest 'soy sauce western' restaurants in Hong Kong.
After lunch, we walked along Hollywood Road (where my dad once lived!) from Sheung Wan to Central (the city) via Cat Street where I bought some tea at the LockCha teashop and trinkets for the boys.  We also stopped at a bar along the way to rest our poor, sore feet and aching backs.

A lot of high end art galleries and antique shops abound in Hollywood Road (named after holly berry bushes not the place).  Sheung Wan is also probably one of the last areas of 'old Hong Kong' with its tradespeople (a dying breed) and shops.  There's also some lovely colonial buildings to look at on the way.


We made our way back to our hotel for a rest before heading out for our last night in Hong Kong.  Mr Rosanna and I caught the train and then walked to the pier in Central to catch the Star Ferry across to the mainland which was an awesome ride.  Harbour cities are always beautiful and the lights of Hong Kong at night are breathtaking.
We met Stephanie at Hutong where I did feel like I was on the set of a Zhang Yimou movie - similar to our first night at Cafe Deco with amazing views of the Hong Kong harbour and skyline.  Our meal was fantastic (Hutong has one Michelin star) and we had a great night talking to Stephanie about life here in Melbourne and our little patch of the world.  Mr Rosanna had her in hysterics speaking 'strine' with a full bogan accent.  It was a really special night.  After dinner, we attempted to go to the Ritz-Carlton to check out Ozone - the bar on the top floor - but the queues put us off.  We were happy to call it a night and catch the train back to our hotel.
Our final day in Hong Kong was spent checking out of our hotel and checking in our luggage on to our plane - one of the best things about Hong Kong.  You can check your cases in early for your flight (they're sent onwards to the airport ahead of time) and receive your boarding pass while still on Hong Kong island.  This gave us most of the day (without having to carry luggage) to do some last minute shopping for the boys at Ocean Terminal in TST and have dim sum at Spring Moon at the Peninsula Hotel - another Hong Kong highlight and reflective of its colonial past and life in another era.  I loved the art deco interior of Spring Moon, the amazing service (Mr Rosanna had Birkenstocks on but instead of being turned away, some closed toed shoes were found for him so we could eat there), the washroom attendants in the toilets, the Christofle silverware.  I could go on.  Truly wonderful.
We sadly made our way back to Central and onto the Airport Express train to the airport where we caught our plane back to Melbourne.  Complimentary passes to the Qantas Club had us feeling pretty relaxed before we boarded (a good thing given we got barely any sleep on the flight back).
Overall, we had a fantastic time in Hong Kong but it's not without its downsides too.  In the time that's passed since I last visited, Hong Kong has lost some of its original charm with the proliferation of international prestige brands all vying for the attention of huge numbers of mainland Chinese with money to burn.  Mr Rosanna and I found the commercialism and the sheer number of soulless mega shopping complexes all a bit much.  I love a luxury brand for quality and style as much as the next person but the mindless, mass consumption of these as badges of success and status was pretty off-putting and quite sad.   It was almost a form of worship over there and at the end of the day morphs into sameness and something that isn't quite so special after all. 
That being said, Hong Kong is amazingly safe, relatively clean and if you are young and single, it absolutely rocks as a place to live, work or play.  All signs are in English and Chinese, most people speak English and it is so easy to get around even if you don't know a local.  The food, the sights, the culture and the internationalism of the place all make for a truly unique and exciting experience.

Hong Kong we loved you but we were also glad to come home to Rosanna - there's no place like it in the world.