Melbourne – Highlights

Botanic Gardens

I decided I wanted to visit the botanic gardens. Every city on this trip seems to have one and they all seem to be very different so you don’t get bored.

These gardens were designed by Director William Guilfoyle in 1873 with the premise of providing sweeping lawns, curving pathways, lakes and hidden vistas. The area is beautiful and centres around a volcano which influenced him during a visit to New Hebrides in 1868. The volcano is depicted with ‘lava’ flowing down (with circular paths), exotic plant beds, coloured pathways flowing from the crater and volcanic basalt rocks scattered throughout the site.

The ‘crater’ is quite surreal because it serves as a large pond area but, get this, the shrubs slowly move in the water. It was quite weird looking at the shrubs and then realising they are actually moving. All very clever.

Victoria Food Market

One of the highlights of Melbourne was the Wednesday evening food market. It is brilliant and just across the road from our flat.

When we first arrived we feared it was going to be empty and soulless. How wrong we turned out to be. It was packed full of food stalls from around the world, craft stalls and phenomenal music sets.

The standard of music whether in pubs or busking is superb in Melbourne. We’ve seen many musicians throughout our walks, pub and café visits.

During the evening, I enjoyed a pork dish from Nepal and it was delicious. Also, had a cookie, ice cream sandwich which was incredible. Sat and looked at this amazing vista of Melbourne and sculpture, as I was devouring it.

National Gallery of Victoria

Yes, of course we had to do the arty bit on the Southbank. Always a good gig especially when some of the art is focusing on surrealism and pop art.

This particular exhibition concentrates on the reasons why Surrealism, and precursors Dadaists, transpired. After the First World War, the movement flourished during the 1920s rebelling against authoritarian control whilst exploring varied art forms.

Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s controversial theories of dream analysis, they invoked irrational logic through their art whilst disparaging society’s values through perverse films, paintings and views. The idea is to liberate the unconscious through an interpretation of imagery.

Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel produced the ground-breaking film Un Chien Andalusia in 1929. Man Ray experimented with photography to project ghostly images and Max Ernst experimented with grattage art, by rubbing pigmented paper or canvas thus producing new artistic techniques.

These exhibitions included Andy Warhol Self-portrait no. 9 who is supposed to be one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. His influence was profound and included television and music and he may have been the inventor of celebrity culture? The weird and strange portrait was produced just before his death in February 1987.

The iconic Pop Art is thought to be the antithesis of industrial and commercial culture as mass production took shape. The work exemplifies significant change in society and depicts a world of mechanised aesthetics connected with advertising and marketing including labels, magazines and posters.

An interesting mix of furniture and clothing design elements also are displayed in the Designing Women exhibition which includes product design, fashion, digital and architecture innovation and show cases works from significant diverse and creative fields.

Well worth visiting the gallery and it is worth noting that Julian Opie is exhibiting if you enjoy his simplistic work.

Elegant Enclave walk

This is another walk suggested by a friendly man in the tourist office. It is fundamentally a nose around the posh part of Melbourne looking at East Melbourne’s architectural suberbs and encompasses elaborate iron work, classic columns and lofty verandas from the Victorian era. Great fun and you enjoy a walk through the lovely Fitzroy Gardens too. In fact, that was the best bits because it includes Cook’s Cottage, the Fairies’ Tree by sculptor Ola Cohn and the sweetest Model Tudor Village. The Model Village was presented to the City of Melbourne by the citizens of Lambeth, England in appreciation of gifts of food. How lovely.

Also, of course you can wander around the pretty gardens and fountains too. All very enjoyable.

Final thoughts…

Melbourne is many people’s favourite Australian city and I must say I can see why. It is FUN, musical, creative and vibrant. The tram system is ingenious if a little perplexing for the tourist. Can’t really understand why you need to drive in this city and the traffic is pretty horrendous. Unfortunately, I find the mix of old and new a little annoying because I like modern and historical architecture but it is all mingled together and this is a shame. Most cities have old and new areas which, for me, is preferable.

However, I have enjoyed visiting Melbourne and loved the creative vibe of the city, the friendly people and amazing landscape.

 

Sydney

We finally arrived in Sydney. My goodness it is built up and has building work going on. Still, I’ve parked the car and we are using the brilliant public transportation system.

Bought an Opal travel card, which covers you for trains and buses. This is a successful way of travelling around the city. You obtain the card in the newsagents, pay to put credit on ($35) and off you go. Wish we had this option at home, as it is much better than struggling with money as you embark on a journey. Ok, I know you have Oyster cards in London, but not where I live.

We arrived in the city and decided to do a walk, as mentioned in the free official Sidney Guide. Starting at the harbour we stopped to admire the bridge, which is huge, then walked towards the Opera House. Felt quite emotional when I first spotted the Opera House. It is so iconic and it’s something I’ve known about since I was tiny, and never thought I’d see it in real life.

Yes, of course copeous photography was undertaken. Wouldn’t you? I recently watched a documentary about the construction of the Opera House and it was designed by Jorn Utzon in 1957 but not completed until 1973. He won an international design competition and the work was authorised in 1958. Unfortunately, the design proved challenging with costs and scheduling overrunning and Utzon resigned from the project.

However, eventually Utzon received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2003 in recognition for his masterpiece and being one of the most iconic buildings of the 20th century. As I viewed the building and looked at the ‘shells’ which house multiple performance venues, I couldn’t help but realise, this prize was richly deserved.

Eventually, we walked to the alluring Botanic Gardens. Love wandering around these enticing parks, this part of the world enjoys, and immersing oneself in the astounding gardens. The array of colour and curious plants and trees are fascinating and disparate. Quite extraordinary to observe and admire.

Continuing on to Mrs Macuarie’s Chair, we took more photos of the harbour and continued. Rather embarrassed to admit to taking some ‘selfies’ here! Even I’ve succumbed but the views are quintessential and I couldn’t resist.

Onwards to the Art Gallery of NSW. Love going around these places and enjoyed some work by Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Bacon argued the only way to portray fact or truth, is through a form of distortion.

Freud is interested about not who but how the person is. How they sprawl, sag, stare and so on. This painting seems to convey reality and soul. Personally, I like the weird, abstract and surreal stuff but it has to be artistic and not frames with a splash of paint. Paintings that contain the reality of a situation, their passion, exhaustion, happiness or distress, etc. It definitely should convey imagery and not be like a photo either. What do you like to see?

We walked past the historic Library, Parliament House, Mint and Hyde Park Barracks and walked into St Mary’s Cathedral. The cathedral looks like one you’d see in England and reminded me of home. Inside the place has an ethereal, peaceful atmosphere.

Finally, we arrived at the Hyde Park & Anzac War Memorial. The public space of the J.F. Archibald Memorial Fountain is moving and impressive.

During the evening we frequented a couple of super pubs. The first one was called Taprooms and I enjoyed a glass of Endeavour Pale Ale (4.5%).

Also, enjoyed the oldest pub in Sydney, Lord Nelson Brewery which had some English style ales available! Hubby was rather pleased.

Jolly splendid end to our day of walking and seeing lots of amazing sights.

Visiting South Bank, Brisbane and musings…

Botanic Gardens in Mount Coot-tha and musings

Yesterday, we visited the Botanic Gardens in Mount Coot-tha and it was very hot. Lots of water was drunk as we wandered around the woodlands, lakes and Japanese garden. For some reason, probably because of the heat, couldn’t really enjoy the area as much as the gardens in Brisbane (centre). However, did appreciate the picnic areas by the lake which are truly beautiful.

After this, we went home to our flat and enjoyed some relaxation by the pool. Felt very tired, which annoys me because one shouldn’t be tired on holiday or ‘travelling’, as I’ve labelled it. Travel and sightseeing can make you weary with all the planning, walking and seeing stuff. Wonderful though, and I am thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.

Back to the City…

We decided to visit the city centre as we needed some advice about travelling north and the Great Barrier Reef. One thing that we realised is it is as quick to walk, rather than catch a train for one stop.

Brisbane has become very hot, which apparently is unexpected. Usually the temperatures soar in January and February. The walk towards the river is hot and luckily, quite breezy. We booked our visit up North with accommodation after taking advice in the very ornate Brisbane Tourist Office on Queen’s Street.

After this visit, we walked across the bridge towards South Bank and went in the Queensland Art Gallery. This is an innovative facility full of ancient and modern art of Australia, Asia and the Pacific. The focus is on indigenous art and an extraordinary light and airy WaterMall. Yes, it is water (above)! This fosters a historical impression with paintings, sculpture, film, photography and obscure installations using materials of Australian fibre art to indicate old and new stories, themes and traditions.

Then we visited the Gallery of Modern Art which has a contemporary take relating to current themes and some colourful art on a larger scale. This isn’t as prolific as the Queensland Art Gallery and couldn’t help wondering if the best things about this gallery, are the spectacular views out of the window.

We strolled along and consumed an over large ice cream, admired views of the parkland, Brisbane Wheel and city vistas. Then, for me, surprise, surprise we turn a corner and there is the most beautifully landscaped pool with beach. Flipping heck, is this the Utopian City or what? Absolutely, unprecedented sight and quite phenomenal. The area is well used by the community and even the childrens’ pool is beautifully landscaped with a pebble type stream with crane/wheel-like toys in. The sparkling lagoon is surrounded by tropical plants, sandy beaches and picnic areas. Truly wonderful.

Final thoughts on Brisbane…

We loved Brisbane. Well designed and presented, clean, tidy, attractive, vibrant and lots to do. Also, it is worth making a point that a lot of the things are FREE, including the galleries, live music venues and the wide variety of cultural activities on offer.

The CityHopper is a great way to discover the city, parks and outdoor areas whilst observing the city metropolis, skyscrapers and busy workers. You can also enjoy a variety of performing arts, internationally acclaimed cultural exhilbitions and events. The bars are friendly with a wide variety of craft beers, gins, whiskies and wines. Queen Street is fabulous for shopping and basically you have everything you need here. I can highly recommend it as a place to visit and discover all that it has to offer.

 

 

Cornwall – Castles, beaches, art, pubs, walking and opinions…

Before this blog dissipates completely, I thought I’d better write a post. This week I am holidaying in Falmouth, Cornwall and have been very busy.

On Sunday, I visited the magnificent Pendennis Castle, one of Henry VIII’s coastal forts. Really enjoyed wandering around the castle and surrounding area. The castle itself transports you back to 16th century invasions and the tensions of World War 2 defences. The grounds are equally impressive with beautiful coastline views and various exhibitions of canons and artillery.

On Monday, I drove to the Eden Project which has certainly grown up since I last visited it with rather unimpressed children 👶. Nestled in a crater are Biomes housing a rainforest, Mediterranean gardens, art installations and other events such as an over loud story teller for the bored children. Entrance fees, which are extortionate, support environmental projects. You can also enjoy or endure a zip wire which is England’s longest and fastest zip wire experience if you wish too. I was quite keen, but put off when I saw some chap get stuck half way. He just stopped. The zip wire chaps left him dangling embarrassingly for several minutes before they arrived and dragged him back with rope and poles. No to that zip wire fun then!

On Tuesday, I drove to St Ives for a day of wandering around galleries, craft shops and stuffing myself with ice cream with clotted cream on top. Some contemporary art, which I love, is very inspirational and ingenious but some pieces are ridiculous and vastly overpriced. However, this is part of the experience to formulate an overinflated opinion and be judgemental whilst looking for that piece of art you just have to have. The beach views, as a backdrop to the aimless wandering, are quite glorious too.

Today, I went on a 6 mile walk around Falmouth through farmland and ending up walking along the coast. Beautiful Cornish views helped keep up my energy as did the humongous crab sandwich and just when I thought I was full, I stuffed myself stupid with another clotted cream ice cream 🍦in the wonderful beach cafe.

So that is how the week has gone so far. Of course I have frequented a few pubs too. Beerwolf Books is my idea of heaven. A pub with a book shop. Browse the books and have a pint. Pennycomequick is a great place too for both food and drink. The staff are ‘millennials’ and extremely helpful, cheerful, efficient and enthusiastic. Having encountered many experienced but curmudgeonly  landlords during my time, can’t help thinking this is the approach to stop so many pubs closing. Be pleasant and sell a good variety of what people want in a clean and inviting ambience.

The pubs, cafes and restaurants in Falmouth are splendid and everyone seems friendly too which helps the beer go down.

Ok, I’ve walked a long way so just out for a quick drink. Thanks for reading.

Margate, England

Feel compelled to write about my wonderful day out at Margate because it is such a fabulous place, these days. Visited yesterday, so decided to write this impromptu blog post about my adventures…

I started off with a visit to the Turner Contemporary and viewed an exhibition called Animals and Us. All about the examination of humans and animals and concentrating on modern and historical art works and installations. An unusual exhibition which displays our distance and closeness with animals using symbolism, cultural and experimental views.

Next stop was lunch at the Sands Hotels. I sat next to the large window with the most spectacular view of Margate beach. Had goats cheese mousse, beef and Etonian mess. Fantastic, not expensive and once again, I felt quite spoilt.

Then I wandered around the beach area, had a few soft drinks, enjoyed the views and realised, as I was relaxing, that I should frequent Margate more often. Going to the beach for a day is like having a mini holiday because it is so much fun and very relaxing.

Then I had a look around the Shell Grotto which was discovered during 1835. Nobody knows why it was built and who was responsible for this incredible tunnel full of shells. Ornate and quite a surreal structure. Apparently, the folks of Margate have argued about the grotto’s origins ever since it was discovered. Rather a perplexing matter. Maybe an ancient pagan temple or meeting place? Very odd.

Popped in a burger place then the, what must be, the world’s most quirkiest micro pub, Fez. Really fun place, full of quirky artefacts, vinyl music and a warm welcome. What a day!

Fez

Margate has a fantastic selection of micro pubs, cafes, galleries and of course, a wonderful beach. Can highly recommend. I left Margate walking along the promenade whilst viewing this amazing sunset!

Thanks for reading my blogs. Don’t forget to follow…

Source: http://shellgrotto.co.uk

Lumiere London – Review

Liberty’s

 

I was so pleased to see the City AM email about the Lumiere London Festival. Great excuse to go to London for a fun day out.

Carnaby Street

 

It was an absolutely fabulous adventure seeing this free light festival, which brings together the world’s most exciting artists. First, we sauntered down Carnaby Street and ended up at Liberty’s. My husband, who has not been to the famous store before, was eager to explore. What a fascinating place it is and such a beautiful old building too. We looked around the whole store including clothes, ornaments, objects d’art, furniture, and of course, what they are famous for, the fabrics department. Great fun and we did every floor!

Afterwards we frequented Carnaby Dishoom for a curry which was delicious 😋 and then ventured out towards Regent’s Street.

Here are the pics…

Origin of the World Bubble
Miguel Chevalier (France)
Oxford Circus

 

The ever changing ball was the best part of the show. Surreal and so effective. It’s about the movement and division of cells and ever changing universe. This installation is suspended above Oxford Circus and a wonderful feast for the eyes.

We walked along and saw the Umbrella Project, which entailed a choreographed performance piece using LED umbrellas. I found the performance quite bizarre and good fun.

We walked further and saw Frictions, Mader Wiermann (Germany) which shows a building appear to twist and buckle and return to the original shape. Then onwards to the Piccadilly area to see Voyage Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein (France) which was again, a wonderful journey through time and space. It shows, by a moving format, the works of time and marks a changing world. Very clever and innovative.

Voyage
Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein (France)

 

Then onwards to Spectral which is a colourful cord construction and illuminated with different colours and a striking and unusual spectacle.

Spectral
Katarzyna Malejka and Joachim Stugocki (Poland)

 

Another favourite was Love Motion by Rhys Coren (UK) in the Royal Academy of Arts courtyard. Wow! This was a remarkable animation of two people dancing and kissing. It was projected onto the facade of the RAA’s building and so effective and moving. You felt like you’d had a hug after watching this!

Love Motion
Rhys Coren (UK)

 

By now, we had walked miles and was ready for a pint. We made our way to Leicester Square Gardens to observe the amazing Nightlife by Lantern Company with Jo Pocock (UK). This is an illuminated nocturnal wonderland, bringing together the garden and animals and the relationship between them. Wild spaces and urban life reflecting a celebration of the natural world. Brilliant and a masterpiece.

Nightlife
Lantern Company with Jo Pocock (UK)

 

Finally, just before grabbing a quick pint we viewed the installation called Child Hood which consisted of luminous spheres flashing on and off whilst moving in the wind. Quite mesmerising.

Collectif Coin (France)

 

We also saw some small installations but I’ve concentrated on the magnificent ones, here. So glad we went on this adventure as we had no idea what to expect. My idea of bliss is finding an excuse to walk around London. A lot of the major roads were shut so it was a truly, surreal and magnificent occasion. Next year, we may try to see more during several evenings.

For more photography, film, comments and stories visit the Mishmash Media Blog Instagram. Thank you.

Andy 🙂

More photos…

Leicester Square – Nightlife

Off Carnaby Street

Harmonic Portal
Chris Plant (UK)

 

#London Adventures… Art, Decorations, Curry and Beer…

Enjoyed a busy weekend which included a trip to London and a sunny and cold walk on Sunday. The decision was made. Go to London for a day trip, but what to do?

The website https://www.timeout.com/london is an excellent source of inspiration and I soon spotted an art exhibition that will interest us… Dali Duchamp at the Royal Academy of Arts.

After suffering the train journey which was expensive, late and crowded, a soup and sandwich had to be consumed in Pret. Ok, I’m well aware the skeptical could go on about a marketing ploy, but I love the way they care and don’t waste food at the end of the day. See the pics at the end of this post!

After relaxing with my warming soup and sandwich, we ventured forth to the exhibition which was very interesting and informative on a variety of art movements (Dada, Surrealism, Readymade, The Surrealist Object, Eroticism and Paranoiac-Critical Theory). My only complaint was that it only kept us quiet for about two hours and unlike other exhibitions you pay for, there weren’t any free exhibitions in the same facility. Never mind, it was a magnificent glimpse into the legendary Dali and included paintings, drawings, book illustrations, prints, sculpture, photographs and historical film. You can submerge yourself in their subversive work and satisfy your curiosity about Dali’s friendship with Duchamp.

Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp maintained a bond of mutual admiration despite having different artistic endeavours. Ultimately, it is clear, from this fascinating display of their work, that they shared absurdity and cynicism which subsequently led them to challenge conventional art. Duchamp’s legacy was often hailed as the father of conceptual art and his friendship with Dali, who was flamboyant and dramatic, puzzled Duchamp’s admirers. However, upon examining the juxtaposition of their work, you can see common ground because of their experimental and philosophical associations. Both are quite bizarre but absolutely fascinating. Highly recommended.

Afterwards, we wandered over the road towards Fortnum and Mason to gaze at the glorious, colourful window displays. Then, of course, I could not resist a look around the store. It was packed full of shoppers, mingling amongst the impressive Christmas decorations. Good grief, bit early, isn’t it? Not even December yet. They do this, in case you are wondering, because everybody shops in November now, to miss the crowds (hahaha). If you go up the magnificent staircase, you can visit the cook shop, ladies department and the posh men’s accessories too. Lots and lots of leather. The food hall is downstairs where you can by miniature bananas and other stupid things, normal people don’t want. The glamour and grandeur may be over the top, but it is London and amusing to visit.

Upon arrival at Kings Cross we popped in a pub called The Betjeman Arms for a quick glass of Beavertown IPA. Delicious! We sat outside overlooking the amazing arches of St Pancras. Yes, there was heating, thank goodness and it was a relief to sit down. Next time, we will go to London during the week. What was I thinking?

Next stop, was Kings Cross for the curry. Although not a big curry fan, I had heard about the restaurant, Dishoom, and wanted to visit. The restaurant at Kings Cross, was featured on Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, Channel 4, UK. We arrived at about 4.30 pm and it was packed. There was me thinking the place will be empty! Nobody eats curry at that time, right? Wrong!

It is based on:

“THE OLD IRANI CAFÉS of Bombay have almost all disappeared. Their faded elegance welcomed all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples. Fans turned slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.

Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost four hundred cafés at their peak in the 1960s. Now, fewer than thirty remain. Their loss is much mourned by Bombayites.”

So the food is traditional curry and encapsulates quality food without fuss. The service was excellent as the waitress skilfully guided us through the menu which was useful because it is quite different from your usual curry establishment. Again, I can recommend this immersive experience. Be warned though, it is very popular. As we left we passed a long queue outside! Everyone must have been freezing.

Overall, a great day out viewing superb art, shopping (although I didn’t buy anything), eating and drinking. Oh, the beer was good too! Dishoom IPA, oh yes.

 

 

Other photos of bits which I found interesting. Good intentions from Pret and art on a building (Kings Cross)…