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.

 

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.

Broadstairs…

The summer is drawing to a close and it is always a good idea to squeeze a few mini breaks in as you can while the glorious weather remains.  Sometimes it is a worthy notion to explore a place you haven’t visited for a while and so Broadstairs became the obvious choice.

The drive through Kent takes about an hour and a half, especially if you attempt the journey during August.  But it is worth it.  Parking is ok for a start and then the day improves as soon as the first glimpse of the beach is spotted.  Broadstairs has seven sandy beaches and bays and the views are spectacular.

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Viking beach has everything for everybody, including beach huts, deck chairs, windbreaks, rides for children, cafes, a harbour and an impressive cliff top promenade that encompasses a band stand, café and park area.  As you saunter along the promenade you will come across cafes, pubs, art shows, gift shops and of course, Dicken’s House Museum.  This was the home of Mary Pearson Strong, who inspired the character Betsey Trotwood in Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield, one of my all-time favourite novels.

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The quaint buildings are a wonderful sight to behold and to be honest, I had forgotten how charming Broadstairs is with the distinctive architecture, independent shops, restaurants, pubs and nostalgic magnetism.

Also, the community spirit seems very much alive.  It has a great music scene (folk festival during a week in August), food and Dickens events during the year.

I really enjoyed a walk along the promenade looking at the enticing surroundings, then visiting the town and lunch in a café with a wishing well in it!  The food was yummy too.  After lunch wandered down to the beach and enjoyed the sun.

So what are the advantages of a day out in Broadstairs?

  • 7 sandy and safe beaches
  • Array of eateries
  • History (Dickens’ Museum etc.)
  • Quirky town (gift shops/pubs/restaurants)
  • Community (Friendly and has many events and festivals)

Really enjoyed the day out and feel Broadstairs is a celebration of a great day out enjoying some sea air.  No wonder it is known as the jewel in the Thanet crown.

5 reasons why you should take a mini, mini break…

Windy times on the beach at glorious Brighton...

Windy times on the beach at glorious Brighton…

The trouble with going on holiday in June, is you have to suffer everybody’s glorious, happy holiday pics, in July/August.

The best way to alleviate the envy is to take yourself off on what I call mini, mini breaks and enjoy the free time you do have.  To be concise the mini, mini break is daft language for a few hours off.  Do something extraordinary, explore and then explore some more. This mindset will endorse spontaneous action, not only for yourself, but also the family or friends that are accompanying you.

To get over the wish-I-was-on-holiday feeling, I recently went on a short trip to Brighton. I tend to go to Brighton, only once or twice a year, mainly because it is so flipping difficult and expensive to park.  (Next time I will go on the bus.)  However, Brighton is great for the quirky shops, pubs, galleries, restaurants and beach life.  It has a hippy, soulful vibe and the shops and stalls are fascinating due to independent traders and their array of talents and well, being Brighton bonkers with the erratic fashions and dreadlocks.  I found it a great place to spend time, wandering aimlessly, exploring the lanes, eating tapas in the Spanish restaurant and people watching.

The result, after recovering from the cost of parking fiasco, was super.  Invigorating in fact. If you feel fed up it revives you to have a day by the sea.  Or anywhere outdoors.  Like having a holiday without packing.  Also, the excitement does not dissipate (unlike long holidays).  Wander around the shops, have a glass of red and soak up the atmosphere as I did.  Or go for a walk in a local park, lounge by a lake or walk in your local woods.  Have a coffee in your local high street and watch the world go by.  But go outside, walk, explore and explore some more.  It will enlighten your life because you will be enjoying experiences and new adventures rather than wasting money on material objects.

A city break, even for a day or two, can be very satisfying and makes you feel you have been away for a week or more.  Doing something different lifts your mood, makes you happier and recharges your mind and body.

Here are the advantages of taking a mini, mini break…

  • Endorses spontaneity
  • Enables exploration
  • Makes you happier
  • Provides experiences (rather than material stuff)
  • Recharges your mind and body

Overall, it is good for your health and well being.  Where are you going for a mini, mini break?  Tell all in the comments section.

Thanks for reading my blog it is appreciated and don’t forget to follow.  🙂