Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fit, Queen Vic, frisbee fun

Street art in a city alley

I was expecting a dreary, wet day when I got up today, but it was another perfect winter's day. It was clear and sunny, but very chilly, as cloudless winter days often are. 

I had a fitness assessment at my gym this morning. I was hoping I would fall somewhere in the average range given my gym attendance has been sporadic over the years, but I'm more active than the average office worker. I was pleasantly surprised with my results -  my fitness is excellent compared to other women my age. EXCELLENT! EX. ELL. ENT!!! 

I'm kinda wishing now that I'd had an assessment when I first went back to the gym so I could see how much I've improved in the past six weeks. I'll definitely be booking them in at regular intervals from now on.  

To celebrate, I bought some new jogging shoes (which I needed). They're very bouncey. Boing! Boing! I'm looking forward to taking them for a run. 

Vic Market (the bit without food)

After the gym, Luke and I went to the nearby Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne's foremost fresh produce market, to buy our meat, fruit and vegetables. It's quite an experience - so much activity and noise and colour. And the deli hall... The bread! The cheese! The antipasto! It's a  droolworthy feast for the senses.  *drools*  

The meat is definitely WAY cheaper. We got lamb backstrap for $22 a kilo - it's $40 a kilo at the supermarket, which makes it a special treat, rather than a staple. 

We also got a 600g punnet of strawberries for $4. That's a LOT of strawberries. I'm going to freeze some so they won't spoil before we can eat them. 

And look at these teeny tiny bananas! 

The lemon and lime are average sized. Apparently they are called señorita or monkey bananas. There's certainly a lot more variety of fruit and vegetables at the market. I don't think we'll go weekly, but I'd like to go more often. 

In the afternoon we went over to Gosch's Paddock (the sports grounds next to AAMI Park) to throw the frisbee. Luke bought it last year, but it only made its maiden flight today. I was pretty rusty to begin with since I haven't thrown a frisbee in a long time, but I soon got into the swing of it. There were a few running, leaping catches. Definitely a fun way to get some  exercise. 

We could see very dark clouds coming towards the city as we played, and eventually it started to rain so we headed for home. The frisbee doubled as a (rather small) umbrella. I put it on my head and pretended I was at finishing school learning how to walk with good posture. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Balloon, blimp, glow, run

There were three hot air balloons floating above Richmond(ish) when I left the house this morning. I haven't seen any that close for ages. It's a magical sight. 

When I got closer to the city I saw something hovering high up over the CBD which looked like a blimp. I lost sight of it for a minute when some trees blocked my view, but when I looked again it was nowhere to be seen. That's weird, I thought. Then when I was crossing the street to get to my office, I looked up just in time to see it bob up over the top of a low building next to my work and then disappear again! What's that all about then?

The sun rises at almost the same time as me at the moment. I love getting up to that golden glow shining into my flat. 

Tonight at the gym I ran more than I walked for the first time since I started my health kick. I sweated A LOT. When I finished my cardio and lay down to do my stretches, my glasses fogged up. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Warm, coincidence, two, many

It was a very chilly walk home tonight. I donned my furry earmuffs for the first time this winter, as well as gloves and scarf. I rarely wear a scarf when I'm walking because I usually warm quickly and end up carrying it in my bag most of the way. But tonight I wore it the whole way home...home to my nice, cosy flat.  Aaaaaaah. After more than seven years living here, I still don't take my warm flat for granted (the heating is on all the time in winter and it's free. Not so great for the environment, but I have no control over it. I try to shrink my ecological footprint in other ways in an attempt to compensate). 

I got an email from a friend and Gleeful reader who is also currently reading The Etymologicon! What a coincidence!  She is also loving it. I told you it's good, didn't I?

I saw two Nankeen Night Herons on the walk home tonight. So there actually is more than one of them. 

Speaking of more than one bird, have a look at this video of a Chinese farmer taking his flock of ducks for a walk ('flock' doesn't seem to be an appropriate collective noun for birds on foot, rather than on the wing). I've never seen so many ducks in one place! They're very well behaved. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not exhausted, good news, word nerdery

The river was very still and glassy tonight

I've turned a corner in my quest to get fit (no, I wasn't walking around the block!). Tonight is the first time since I went back to the gym that I have left the building without feeling utterly exhausted. I did my usual workout (plus 1 minute of running) but I skipped down the steps of the gym after my workout, partly because I wasn't worn out and partly because I'd just heard some good news: pilates classes are now included in my gym membership instead of being an extra charge. Hurrah! I've done a few 6-week pilates courses at the gym before, but I've always resented having to pay extra. I'll be far more inclined to go regularly now.

Although losing weight isn't my main goal at the gym, I noticed today that my clothes are a little roomier. It's a nice feeling. I actually went back to the gym after my doctor 'prescribed' endorphins as a mood enhancer. I should have been going anyway, but that gave me the nudge I needed. I'm certainly less grumpy, but I think that's the endorphins, as well as the satisfaction of meeting the challenges I have set for myself and feeling myself getting fitter and stronger. 

My next book...

I've started reading The Etymologicon: a circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language  by Mark Forsyth (aka The Inky Fool) and it's stupendously fascinating and surprising and funny.  I fear I will struggle to put it down and keep reading into the early hours... (Yup, if proof were required of my wordnerdery, the previous sentence would do it.)

I'd regale you with some of the things I've learnt, but each page is so dense with revelations of the surprising connections between seemingly unconnected words and I'm tired, so I can't remember any that particularly stood out. Oh, here's one: avocadoes are so named because the Aztecs thought they looked like testicles. And...and...the words testament and testimony share the same origin as the word testicles. I'll tell you about the words that are related to farting another time. 

Anyway, if you are a word lover, you must read this book. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday, beautiful Sunday


What a glorious winter's day it was in Melbourne! Completely at odds with the forecast earlier in the week for a cold, wet and miserable Sunday.  I was planning to hide from the cold at home, but since the sky was blue and the sun was shining, I headed to Chapel Street on a mission to find a little deer figurine to graze the moss in my (as-yet-unplanted) terrarium. 

Chapel Street Bazaar was my first port of call, but everything I liked was way too expensive and everything that wasn't was a bit ugly. They were, however, selling a stuffed (as in taxidermy) hedgehog and skunk. Taxidermy must be cool now? I've been seeing stuffed stuff in quite a few places lately. 

I poked around in some of the other second-hand shops up the Windsor end of Chapel Street (the best end) before buying a trio of little ceramic rabbits at a cute vintage store called Dorothy & Evelyn. They're the same as these ones, only grey. I want to get another plant to go in the terrarium before I plant it. I wish there was a nursery in the CBD!

While I was on my way to Windsor, I stopped to take a photo of an old sign I'd seen while driving down Commercial Road with Luke. 

And I found this one as well: 

I also stopped in to Handiworks, one of my favourite shops on Chapel Street. They have so many beautiful cards, notebooks and journals... I contented myself with caressing them lovingly, since I don't have a need for any of them.  Perhaps I need to send more handwritten cards for no real reason (other than to use the beautiful cards I bought)? That would be a fun thing to do. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Foys, matching, spoilt for choice

I saw this old sign quite a while ago, but had to wait for the trees to lose their leaves for a clearer shot. 

Foys was one of Australia's earliest department stores. The Melbourne store was on Bourke Street, I think where Target is now, but I'm not sure. I found a photo of the store from 1957, but can't pinpoint the location. The sign is just around the corner on Swanston Street, on the side of Curtin House. 

I went to the hairdresser again today to get my blue highlights touched up in a few places. The salon manager and I were wearing matching outfits (except I wasn't wearing a plastic apron). She and the other hairdresser make me laugh. My highlights are more of a royal blue than turquoise now. 

Luke and I dropped into The Book Grocer in the city this afternoon. I bought The Superior Person's Second Book of Words by Peter Rowler, which, according to the inside cover blurb, will unquestionably establish me as the most interesting person at any dinner party.  I hope it won't matter if I read the second book before the first.  I also bought a biography of Samuel Johnson (the "dictionary dude" as I described him).  

I'm nearly finished reading my current book....which one to read next...

There were globe artichokes in the fresh produce section at the supermarket today. I held one up and pretended to be an Olympic torch bearer and the Statue of Liberty. 

The sky aglow at sunset tonight, as seen from my window

Fabulous Friday

The State Library on a damp Thursday night

I had a fabulous night out tonight with the girls from my old job (the two I see regularly, but also a few of the others). We met up for a drink before heading to a restaurant for dinner. 

I've had a tiring week so I was wavering on whether I'd stay on for dinner, but once I was with them I forgot about being tired. It's such a nice bunch of women, aged from their mid-20s to mid-40s. Great conversation, and lots of laughs. I do miss them. (I like the secretaries I work with in my new job, but there's only three of us. It's just a different vibe.) 

And the meal! We went to Society, a stalwart of the Melbourne restaurant scene, although this was the first visit for all of us, and we only went there because the other places we tried were booked out. I'm so glad they were because...the lamb! Oh my god, THE LAMB! Three of us had slow-cooked lamb shoulder, which was melt-in-the-mouth tender, and delicious. We rhapsodised over it for about 10 minutes. I was almost tempted to cast aside my manners and lick the plate when I was done, just to prolong the pleasure. I think I need to buy a slow cooker otherwise no other lamb I eat from now on will be anywhere near as good. 

The rest of my meal was also delicious. Oddly for me, I ordered a wild berry salad for dessert rather than one of the chocolatey sweets, because I wanted it, not because I've been trying to eat better. It came with raspberry sorbet, which was a perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and some nutty praline stuff. Yum. 

As well as scrumptious meals, the waitstaff were great. One of the waitresses in particular was gorgeous, gregarious and fun, and she had a fantastic accent. I wanted to give her a tip just for the way she rolled her R's. 

Society also has a cosy bar upstairs with lots of dimly lit, intimate alcoves lined with velvet banquettes, and above that is a function room (Roberta and I had a nose around on our way back from the ladies). I love that there's always a fabulous new place to discover in the city - or new old place. I don't know about the upstairs bits, but Society started out as the Italian Workers' Club in 1932! I've walked past it plenty of times but had no idea what was hidden away inside. 


I have been back at the gym for a month and already I've noticed improvements. Tonight I crossed my arms and noticed my upper arms have toned up. I had to resist the urge to flex my bicep in Bertie's face and say, "Feel that! Go on!". (I'll make Luke feel my biceps when I see him tomorrow. He's away for the night). I'm fortunate that I tone up quickly, and get good results with two gyms sessions a week, although my aim is to go three times. (Is it ever possible to say "thrice" without sounding like a pompous twat?) I haven't weighed or measured myself because I don't care what the numbers are - I just go on how my clothes fit, and weight loss isn't my prime motivation anyway; it will just be a bonus. 

I think I've thrown myself into it a little too vigorously though, because the day after my workouts I've felt so tired - sleepy tired, not just muscle fatigue - despite adequate sleep. Or it could be that I don't have enough fuel in the tank. I've concocted a pre-gym snack with yoghurt, blueberries, maple syrup and a mix of seeds that I dry roasted and ground up with my mortar and pestle, to sustain me through my workout. It's pretty tasty. I also bought a protein powder for after my workouts and it wasn't cheap. This is gettin' serious! 

 Friday morning vignettes

On my way to work this morning I saw a rower come ashore at the boat sheds on the opposite side of the river. Her dog was on the river bank and when it saw her, it  bounded excitedly up to greet her. She threw a ball to the dog and off it went.

Two women cycling in opposite directions recognised each other and stopped to have a  chat. 

One last thing

One of my friends posted a link to this video on Facebook. It's footage from security cameras, but it shows people being kind and silly and brave, instead of doing dodgy stuff.  Yes, it's a Coca Cola ad, but it's still pretty awesome.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I think I'm being stalked by the white faced heron and the great white egret. The heron takes the morning shift and the egret does the night shift. I saw the egret in that same spot under the bridge last night on the way home from the gym at close to 8.00pm, and then again tonight at about 5.45. Coincidence? I think not.  Every time I see them they are staring intently in the opposite direction, but I'm sure that's just so they don't look suspicious. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weekend of glee

Luke and I had lunch at Booktalk Cafe in Richmond yesterday. As the name suggests, it's a café and a bookshop rolled into one. Although I've been there numerous times, I only just noticed that there is a little brass plaque on the back of each chair with an author's name on it. Mine said 'Anita'. Dunno who that is, but I like the idea.  I also liked their collection of games, though we didn't have time to play.

'Please enjoy of puzzles and games and fish
(written before the fish went to fish heaven)

After lunch I bought supplies to make another terrarium - a much bigger one this time. I can only just get my arms around the bowl when I hold it in front of me. I got a ladder fern and some moss to go in it, but will get another fern as well. The moss came from a damp spot on the ground at the nursery; the nursery lady slid a knife under it to loosen it and wrapped it in cellophane for me. 

I'm going to plant this one myself, but haven't had time so far. The moss has a temporary home on top of a pile of potting mix. I've been misting it with water to keep it moist and happy. 

On Friday one of my workmates told me she was going to the Studley Park Boathouse for lunch on Sunday and I decided I wanted to go too. I haven't been for more than 10 years, even though it's a short drive away. Luke and I went on Saturday afternoon.

The Studley Park Boathouse opened in 1864 and is Melbourne's oldest operating boathouse. It's set in extensive bushy parklands along the Yarra - if it weren't for the hum of traffic, you could easily forget you're so close to the centre of a big city. 

You can hire kayaks and canoes, as well as the row boats for a punt on the Yarra, but we only took photos of them. Here's an old sign of a different kind: 

Not sure how many swamp hens the boats can carry



Kane's Bridge. It was rebuilt in the 1930s after being 
 washed away in a massive flood 

Crossing over

Swirly tree

Red gums

The Yarra is brown because of the highly erosive soil in the
 catchment area. It's extra brown after rain.

 The boathouse's resident geese

No Gleeful post would be complete without a duck

Boat garden

On Saturday night we had dinner on Chapel Street. For dessert I had stewed rhubarb with meringue, and rosewater sorbet, served in a glass with a woolly ball of pistachio Persian fairy floss on top (as was Luke's pistachio icecream). I've seen the fairy floss in shops before, but never tasted it. It was yummy, but weird, like eating air (like normal fairy floss, I suppose!). 

Then we headed to the Astor Theatre to see The Avengers.  I love The Astor. It's the last single screen cinema of its kind still operating in Melbourne and stepping inside is like travelling back to the art deco splendour of 1930s, when the cinema opened. 

The ladies powder room

Marzipan, The Astor's calico cat, was in attendance and enjoying the comfort of a moviegoer's lap in the foyer when we arrived. As we were leaving she was sitting on a comfy lounge chair being fussed over by people. I love that the cinema has a resident moggy. There was a cat in residence when I first went to The Astor in my uni days, so Marzipan is obviously not the first feline to fill the role. 

Oh, the movie was good, but I knew it would be since Joss Whedon wrote and directed it. 


I got my hair cut and coloured today. I've added some blue highlights to the top of my usual blue/black hair. As you might have guessed, I have no plans to start acting/looking my age despite my impending 40th birthday. (I'll post a photo another time). 

It was rather chilly and raining lightly when I left the hairdresser, so I got a hot chocolate to warm me up. I don't think I've clutched a hot beverage so enthusiastically before. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Brolly good and creatures of habit

I wandered up to Australia on Collins at lunch time today and was met with a burst of colour. What a cool display. 

I saw the Nankeen Night Heron in exactly the same spot again. When I was focusing this shot, its little eye glowed red from the light on my camera.

And I saw the White Heron in exactly the same spot under the bridge too! Must be happy hunting grounds for them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Forty schmorty

White egret spotted on the way home tonight
 under  the Swan Street Bridge

This is my third week back at the gym. Yep, I'm still going. Wooh! This morning my muscles were still feeling sore from Tuesday's workout so I wasn't sure if I'd be up to doing my usual routine. But I felt OK by the time I left work, so I did my usual resistance workout, with an increase in reps on one exercise. I've altered the intervals of my cardio routine to jogging for a minute and walking for a minute, but still running for a minute more than last time...or maybe more than a minute - I keep losing track of how many minutes I'm up to so I err on the side of doing more, rather than less. And when I thought I had exhausted my lungs and energy supply near the end of my workout, I made myself sprint the last minute. 

Have I mentioned that I'm turning 40 in just under a month? That's not the reason I started back at the gym, but it is helping to keep me motivated. I've been fitter in my 30s than I was in my 20s (not necessarily super fit, but fitter), and I see no reason why I can't be  super fit in my 40s. 

It's Friday tomorrow already. Love a four day working week. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday stuff 'n things

Last week there was a girl in the kitchen at work watering a little terrarium she kept on her desk, and I decided I wanted one for my workspace too. I have heaps of room on my desk (it's built for two) and it gets plenty of natural light and sun.  Perfect for a plant, and I like that a terrarium is a little bit out of the ordinary (although less so these days - they seem to be in fashion right now).  

Today I went up the street and bought a medium-sized glass bowl and then dropped into the Glasshaus nursery on Stanley Street to get the stuff to go in it. The woman working in the nursery helped me pick out two succulents and she put a couple of handsful of gravel and potting mix in the bottom of my bowl. Then she asked if I wanted her to plant the succulents for me and I thought, 'Why not? She'll do a better job than I would". 

The nursery has expanded into a old house on the adjoining block and she took my terrarium into the kitchen and put it on the sink to do her thing. The kitchen had a really old set of wooden cupboards (perhaps dating back to the early 1900s?). The cupboards needed a lick of paint, but they had these lovely porcelain door knobs with peacocks on them which were in perfect condition. 

When I got my terrarium home I added the smooth stones Luke brought me back from the beach on the Isle of Wight last September. Here tis: 

I've decided I'm going to make a larger one with ferny-type plants for home. And moss. It has to have moss. I got a bit obsessed with moss when we were in Tasmania. 

Yesterday in Armadale, Luke and I had a look in the Malvern Antique Market. There were a few stalls selling little fancy silver match cases, which reminded me that I had one at home that belonged to my grandfather. Today I dug it out of the desk drawer it's lived in for years. It has the initials CS (Charles Simpson) and the year 1904 engraved on the front, which means it would have belonged to my great grandfather, not my grandfather. It was quite tarnished so I gave it a really good polish and now it looks almost as good as the ones at the market. 

I really should do something with it. It has a little loop on the top so I could wear it around my neck. I could put something it in...but what? If I were a cokehead I could keep my cocaine in it like Sarah Michelle Gellar's character Kathryn in Cruel Intentionsbut it's probably a little drastic taking up a drug habit just to make use of the thing. Snuff? See previous comment re cocaine. 

I also have a cigarette case that did belong to my grandfather, which I dug out of a cupboard today. Inside I found the little bluebird bracelet I was given as a baby. Here it is being modelled by My Little Pony:

I finally finished making my belt today (the one that I bought the sewing machine for). Here it is being modelled by a cushion:

The trees in my neighbours' back yards are a picture of autumnal loveliness at the moment. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Winter fare, signs, stuffed animals

Luke and I had lunch at Borsch, Vodka and Tears on Chapel Street today. I had the Hungarian Lamb Stew, which was perfect fare for a chilly winter day, and Luke had the pierogi (Polish dumplings).Yum. We sat outside under the gas heater and it was very toasty.

While on Chapel Street, we poked about in the new Salvos op-shop. I love the way the Salvation Army is turning its stores into visually pleasing, cool places to shop, no doubt driven by the popularity of retro and vintage gear. We bought three classic Australian novels - The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Such is Life and Robbery Under Arms, all for total of $1.50.  This imprint of Such is Life dates back to 1943 and it has what looks like the original price written in pencil inside the cover - 30 cents!

We also dropped into Tarlo & Graham, a shop crammed full of an eclectic array of industrial, religious and science stuff. It's a bit like Wunderkammer, particularly the  eye-popping (and slightly disturbing) taxidermy. (I doubt taxidermy can ever not be disturbing.)

Please, sir, can I have some more? 

This is/was an eland. It's hard to tell in this picture, but it is HUGE. According to Wikipedia, they can grow up to 2.9 metres long and 1.75 metres high at the shoulder, and weigh up to 900 kilograms. Crikey!

Aw, poor ducklings

What say you, Mr Zebra?


They had an old sign in the window. 

I also spotted this sign on Chapel Street, which I must have walked by many times before. 

Anyone for billiards?

After that we drove to Armadale to visit the Silver K Gallery, which specialises in animation art and rock n roll photography. Some cool stuff, but way out of our price range. And yes, for any Melburnians reading, the old dude with the long silver hair who does the Silver K Gallery TV ads was there. 

I spotted a couple of great old signs on High Street. 

One side...

 The other side (stupid power pole)

This rather lovely old building is now home to a bookshop called Berkelouw Books, which we had to enter because bookshop and it had a display of Dr Seuss in the window. The Dr Seuss collection was disappointingly small, but I did buy a book called The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth, whose bio in the front of the books described him thusly: 

Mark Forsyth is a writer, journalist, proofreader, ghostwriter and pedant. 

Ha! He sounds like my people. I love reading about the origin of words, and I'm also partial to a book bound in a pleasingly old-fashioned style, such as this one. 

The shop has an open fireplace down the back with a couple of leather couches to sit on, but the fire wasn't burning today. What a pity. It was a perfect day for an open fire. That would have been ace (but maybe not so good for the books).

PS Blogger is very cantankerous tonight, and I've had enough of wrestling with the formatting, so this is as good as it gets.