Monday, December 24, 2012

Sydney glee

Hello from Sydney!  Guess what l can see from my hotel room? A very large old sign on the neighbouring building! I'll take a photo tomorrow when the light is better.

I'm getting a little excited about going on a sign-spotting jaunt in the next few days.

I had a very pleasant taxi ride to the airport this morning. I was only going to go as far as Southern Cross station to catch the Skybus, but the taxi driver was having a slow day, and offered to take me the whole way for $40 - only a little more than l would have paid for taxi and Skybus, but waaaay less hassle.

The driver was chatty and polite. He's from Bangladesh and has lived in Australia 27 years. He kept calling me ma'am, which made me laugh, and when he dropped me off he apologised for talking too much.

I had almost an hour to spare after checking in. I wandered about the many bookshops... l told myself l wouldn't go in because l had enough reading material with me. And then l went in and bought a book. It's called Embracing the Ordinary: Lessons from the Champions  Every Day Life by Michael Foley.  Not prizes for guessing why that appealed to me.

I started reading Wild, Cheryl Strayed's memoir of her solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail on the US west coast. So far, so good, though her account of her mother's death nearly had me blubbering on the plane,  because l've been through a similar experience and it brought back sad memories.

It's good to see my mum again. I last saw her in July, but didn't get to spend a lot of quality time together.

Off to bed for me. (I'm posting this from my phone, so the formatting will be sloppy.)

Below is Sydney Town Hall all tizzed up with a light show.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hooray for holidays

Oh, frabjous joy! I'm on holidayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees! I was even able to leave work a couple of hours early after rushing like a madwoman to get everything done.  Sixteen blissful days of no work, here I come! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What's that Skip? A plate, figs and bread

I was wandering around Chapel Street Bazaar yesterday afternoon when this caught my eye:

A SKIPPY PLATE! My brother and I had these exact melamine plates with Sonny and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo on them when we were young uns. I'm not sure what happened to them, but I'd long forgotten about them. There were two plates at the bazaar, in pretty good condition considering they're more than 30 years old.  Yes, I bought one.

According to the Skippy Wiki (hehe), Skippy was banned in Sweden because psychologists thought it would fool kids into believing animals could do things they can't actually do! It also says Skippy is still being aired in Iran. How delightfully odd. (Click here for a collection of Skippy-related videos, including the opening titles and a Fast Forward spoof.)

I bought two fresh figs at the green grocer yesterday. Yay! It's fig season again. I'm going to have them for dessert tonight. 

We bought a slab of Turkish bread from the kebab shop on Swan Street yesterday. It's so soft and light and delicious...and I might not have eaten anything else today apart from the rest of the slab. Oops.  

Only FIVE DAYS of work to go before I'm on holidays - or only 4.5 days if I'm lucky enough to leave early on Friday. Of course I have a packing list of stuff to take with me to Sydney and a rapidly expanding list of things to do when I'm back in Melbourne. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Salad days

I made a salad on Sunday night to take for my lunch on Monday - or at least I chopped up all the ingredients and packed them into the little containers and compartments of my nifty Nude Food Rubbish Free Lunchbox, ready for assembly and dressing at work. 

Then on Monday morning I went to the fridge, grabbed my breakfast shake, snacks and the salad dressing, shut the fridge, packed my bag and left for work. Forgot the salad, dammit. 

But I remembered it this morning and it was still good. Delicious, in fact. 

The ingredients are rocket, baby spinach, roasted pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, baby beetroot, bocconcini and toasted pinenuts, with a garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Simple, but tasty and good for me. 

I've roasted more pumpkin for my lunches for the rest of the week. I didn't like pumpkin as a kid, but I've really grown to like it in the last few years, especially roasted. When I was cutting it up before, I could its sweet, fresh aroma. Yum. 

I ran/walked around the Tan again after work. I really, really didn't feel like it, but I tricked myself into putting on my exercise gear by telling myself I'd just walk around the Tan because that's still better than nothing. It was harder tonight than the last couple of times, but that's probably because I added a few extra sets/reps to my gym routine last night and it was nearly 30 degrees this evening. I still passed a couple of people though. Go, me. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A good sign on Goodwood Street

Yesterday I went back and took photos of the old signs on the building in Goodwood Street we saw on our Friday night meandering around Richmond. 

Here's the whole building. I've fiddled with the photo (and all the others) to make the signs a little more visible, which gives you an idea of how hard it was to see them in the fading light.  

There's a phone number painted on both ends, beside the windows. It's a phone number, but it must be a very old phone number because it's prefixed with the letter J.

I only noticed when I uploaded this photo to my computer that you can still see the name of the sign writer on the bottom right above. It says Butcher Signs and something I can't make out that begins with "St". 

You can't make it out in the top photo, but there's also a sign above the door (click to enlarge).

It looks like the business name across the top - maybe Weer & Sons? - but it's hard to say because I'm missing the bit on either side.  I couldn't see very well with the sun in my eyes and the sign might have been too faded to see anyway.  

Below the name it says "Established 1860." 1860! No wonder it's so faded.  The bottom is "Also at Sydney and Newcastle". 

A very cursory Google search didn't shed any light. I might have to delve a bit deeper. 

But wait! There's more!

There's a sign on the east side of the building too.  It looks like it says LAMPS and below is the same phone number the appears on the front of the building.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday night replay

This evening was a carbon copy of last Friday night for Luke and me: a balmy evening stroll through the backstreets of Richmond for a burger and gelati on Bridge Road. 

This time we walked there along Rowena Parade and The Vaucluse to have a look at the grand old houses in daylight. Before we turned the corner into Rowena Parade, we stopped to look at the strange new gate on the old building on the corner of Lennox Street. And then I noticed what I had never seen on the dozens and dozens of times I've passed by previously: very faint old signs. 

 General house repairs

There's a sign between the upper and lower windows, but
 all I can make  out is "& Sons Carpenters"

I'm usually too busy admiring the building's peeling shutters. 

Moving right along... there are some beautiful old houses at the top of The Vaucluse, which is possibly the most elevated spot in Richmond. All the better to look down on the heaving mass of working class people  around you, way back when. 

 Shady garden path 

 This is probably the grandest house. It's 
for sale if you  have a few million dollars
 spare to splash around

A window of St Ignatius 

A less grand home a few blocks away  on the 
corner of Mary Street

Lady Santa 

The evening's best sign find: 

Sack merchants! 

The building is now a dwelling 

Help me! 

We had burgers at Grill'd and then gelati at Fritz. I had blood orange as usual - it was a super zesty batch - and I also had a scoop of caramelized fig and roasted almond. It was as tasty as it sounds.  That reminds me, fig season is pretty much upon us! Yay. 

We walked back along Bridge Road then through the narrow streets between Church Street and Punt Road.  If we keep this up, we'll have traversed every street in Richmond before too long. Like last Friday, it was a very pleasant evening for a stroll - it was warm  and the scent of flowers and garden sprinklers were in the air. The smell of garden sprinklers reminds me of being a kid. 

As we headed along Goodwood Street towards Punt Road, I commented on a stern looking building and Luke (who obviously has better eyesight than I do) spotted a bunch of very faint old signs on the front. It was too dim for a photo by then though, so I'll go back again. 

 Pretty flower 

Bird on a wire

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Handsome wunderpus and demented charm

The octopus book I'm reading continues to fascinate me. Did you know there is an octopus called the wunderpus photogenicus? There is. Really. I'm not making this up. Obviously somebody - a science person - did make it up, and clearly nobody pooh-poohed the suggestion. Which is awesome.  Apparently it is considered a rather handsome octopus. You can judge for yourself here.  

There are also numerous other flamboyantly named cephalopods - indeed, there is a creature called the flamboyant cuttlefish - but I'm not going to regale you in this post because I want to go and soak in the bath soon. 

I bought another book today - The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism by Geoff Nicholson. I'm a big fan of perambulation, but what sold the book to me was this sentence from the back cover:
Mr Nicholson relates his story with such brio and demented charm - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Demented charm! Geoff Nicholson has written many books, including Flesh Guitar and Footsucker, which both seem to suggested he is a little demented. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Well spotted, lamb on a ram, old school

I walked home from work via Coles on Swan Street in Richmond, just to add a bit of extra exercise to my day (and buy something for dinner). As I walked along Stewart Street, which runs between the train line and a pocket of light industrial buildings, I glanced left and saw this old sign:

The degree of difficulty of spotting it was quite high - it's partially hidden in a sort of courtyard, behind the building fronting Stewart Street. Well done, me. 

There was a sign on the other end of the building too. 

I like the old painted street sign as well. 

Above this sign was a kookaburra with a snake in its beak.

Further along on another building I saw this: 

It's a LAMB ON A RAM!!! There's a painted over sign along the top of the building but I can't quite make out what it says. 

I forgot I took this photo at the Little Library at Melbourne Central on the weekend. As well as borrowing books, you can also leave a book review. They're handwritten and organised alphabetically. Who needs the internet, eh? 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Giant fairy floss, pink sunglasses, skater man

Ghost window

This morning as I walked through Federation Square, I saw two men carrying what a looked like giant tub of pink fairy floss. They deposited it near the steps facing Flinders Street Station. I have no idea what occasion called for a giant tub of fairy floss. 

Coming home tonight I saw two women practising juggling, which reminded me I had a dream last night that I was trying - and failing - to juggle. This is vexing, because I actually can juggle...or at least I could. I haven't done it in ages. I might have a go on the weekend to see if I still can. 

On the weekend I saw a man towing a little trailer behind his bike. The trailer contained a small black dog, which was wearing hot pink cat's eye sunglasses. 


There was a story on The Age online today about the unconventional commuting habits of businessmen. One man, a solicitor up north in Rockhampton, rides a skateboard to his office

"I'm usually wearing my ridiculously large headphones and listening to AC/DC screeching out Shoot to Thrill, ” he said. 

I forgot to mention he's 45. I think that's fantastic. 


I ran/walked around the Tan again tonight. Go, me. 

I started reading my book about octopuses on the weekend. It's fascinating.  

Friday, November 30, 2012


It was so warm last night - the hottest November night in 111 years, in fact - that we slept without even a sheet over us and with the blind up so as not to impede the little puffs of cool breeze blowing through the window. But when the blind's up and I'm lying on my right side (my preferred side) the light illuminating the billboard on the Nylex clock silo shines in my face, which annoys me. 

To solve this problem, I moved my pillow to the foot of the bed and slept up that end instead. But I'm not sure this was a conscious decision, or if it was just the latest odd act in the bizarre nocturnal theatre of my life. I also woke up to find my bedside lamp sitting on the floor beside the bed, which does suggest sleeping up the wrong end was an unconscious decision... Either way, it was an effective solution. 

Here are some photos from my walk home from work.

 Vesper 1, Little Bourke Street

 Vesper 2 - Degraves Street
(Vesper + Clementine = vespertine)

 Clementine's is next door to the Little
 Bookroom I posted a photo of yesterday

 The footbridge over the Yarra has its Christmas clothing on 

 Jacaranda in Queen Victoria Gardens
 (for Piggywhistles)

 The trees are outgrowing their bark
 (also for Piggywhistles)

Luke and I meandered up to Bridge Road this evening for a burger and...yeah, Fritz Gelato again. I'm a gelati junkie. 

We walked along back streets on the west side of Church Street. We saw some beautiful old houses, some grand but most more modest and nicely restored. There were also quite a few that looked as if a stiff breeze would blow them down. But you might already know I'm partial to urban decay. At least dilapidated houses have more character than the modern concrete boxes dotting the backstreets of Richmond.

For those times when you can't control yourself...

We decided to walk home again after our gelati. It was a lovely balmy evening to be out and about. The streets were lined with people enjoying their dinner and drinks al fresco and the cicadas were buzzing. There was a gentle breeze. 

We walked along The Vaucluse, Richmond's hoity-toity enclave, which was pretty even in the fading light. Closer to home, the bubble dome was lit up and twinkling. We could hear the crowd roar as we passed by. A group of girls paddling canoes passed under Morell Bridge as we crossed over it.  

There was lightning in the distance as we neared home. Not long after we installed ourselves on the couch, scarier lightning lit up the sky and thunder rumbled. It rained a little too.   A nice way to end the day. 

Speaking of endings, I finished reading The Horologicon at last. It was an engaging and chuckle-inducing read, although not quite as captivating as The Etymologicon, which had me riveted from start to finish. Even so, I'm looking forward to Mark Forsyth's next book. 

NaBloPoMo also comes to an end today. I've made it through 30 days and 30 posts. *pats self on back*   Thank you for reading. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Droopy, icy treats, little reader

Even the daisies were droopy

It was stinking hot today. It hit 40 degrees C (104 F) in the city. My boss left the office in the afternoon saying he'd be back in a little while. When he came back he had icy treats for everyone - Icypoles and Frosty Fruits. What a champion. It really hit the spot (not that it was hot in the office).  

I took a break from exercise today because of the heat...but I still walked to and from work. I was a puddle of sweat when I got home, but thankfully my flat was still relatively cool. I stood in front of the fan in my undies for about 10 minutes to cool down. 

I walked through Degraves Street on the way home and spotted this little fella in front of The Little Bookroom. 

Several people stopped to let me take the photo so they wouldn't photobomb it. It's nice when that happens. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's a miracle!

Miraculously, I wasn't crippled when I woke up this morning after my run last night. I wasn't even that sore. I was surprised - stunned -  that I only felt a little worse than the morning after my usual gym workout. I did stiffen up as the day wore on (especially my hip flexors),  but I was in good enough shape to go to the gym and do my usual workout this evening. Maybe the epsom salts bath I had last night had something to do with it? I'd better have another one tonight then, because the second day is usually the worst...

I've done more than two hours of cardio exercise today, including walking to work and home from the gym. Only a few weeks ago I was struggling to find the energy to walk home from work. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Run, run, run, Ollie the Octopus and the monkeh

I ran most of the way around the Botanic Gardens after I got home from work. That was after a brisk walk home, which took about 35 minutes and left me feeling quite weary, especially after my hard workout at the gym last night. I decided I'd compromise and just walk around The Tan tonight, maybe jog a little if I could. And then I jogged more than half way in a little under 30 mins. Not a remarkable time by any means, but I'm happy with it. Running on a treadmill is one thing; running on the ground where you have to propel yourself is another, harder, thing. I was surprised and pleased that it wasn't as hard as I  expected. I won't be surprised, however, when I wake up tomorrow unable to walk.  

Just as I got home from my run, the Graveyard Train song Run Billy Run came on my iPod. It goes, "Run, run...Billy keep on running". More lyrical coincidence...

I forgot to show you my octopus! I bought him at the toy shop in Maldon. I have named him Ollie, because I like alliteration. He's keeping my (as yet unread) octopus book company. 

While I'm in show and tell mode, here's the 'monkeh' from the PG Tips TV ad I mentioned a few months ago. 

The reindeer on his jumper looks non-plussed. I guess you would if someone sewed a row of stitching across your face. 

I also forgot to mention I bought two books at a new bookshop at Melbourne Central that was having a buy-one-get-one-half-price sale. I bought Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which I haven't actually read, and also Cheryl Strayed's best-selling account of her 1,100 mile trek along the west coast of America after the death of her mother. Cheryl, as you might recall from one of my recent posts, is the advice columnist known for The Rumpus, where she goes by the name of Sugar. 

That's my holiday reading sorted then. I still haven't finished The Horologicon. I'm getting close to the end, but I've been too tired to read before bed lately.  

Now I'm off to have a soak in an epsom-salts-infused bath in the hope of alleviating some post-run soreness. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Maldon sign spree

 Rego the ruling brand...Rego self-raising flour

 We sell Rego products for goodness sake...Buy your Rego
 products here

 Produce stores 

Victoria Bitter, on the wall of the Kangaroo Hotel 
(apparently the only pub in Australia of that name) 

 A two-in-one. I think the top line says R. Mathias and the 
bottom line is Merchant

 Another produce store 

Luke saw this one hiding on the side of a building on 
Main Street, mostly obscured by greenery. 

 Pennant something 

The first of many old Lanchoo and Bushells tea signs. 
Lanchoo takes less in your teapot!

Left - Bushells delicious coffee. What? Coffee?
  Right - More cups, finer flavour

Lanchoo again

Bushells again. This sign appears to have been
 restored to its former glory, but I'm still counting 
it as an old sign