Thursday, February 28, 2013

Photo February Day Twenty Eight

Blogging daily is not easy.

Blogging daily is harder when you're struggling in muggy weather, a little bit of sleep deprivation, a big dream at dream group that knocks you for six and makes you prefer to sit  on the couch eating fruchocs, navel gazing... Trying to be interesting and fresh is hard and I feel like I've failed.

And my novel is only 1000 words longer in length - so much for that. It will happen one day - just a matter of time - and making the time, not just finding the time.

Ah, never to mind. Everything else is ticking along nicely.

I just look at this selfie and I'm happy that I'm getting my eyebrows waxed tomorrow.

And I happy I can go back to blogging when I want to.

Thanks for putting up with me and my dodgy iPhone photos for the last month.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Photo February Day Twenty Seven

Full Moon from the Kitchen Window

Waking this morning to go running with Desi - the full moon hangs between storm clouds.

There is something very cool about the constant inconstancy of the moon.

Much prettier than the sight I must have looked after my run - it was like running through custard - the humidity was that bad.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Photo February Day Twenty Six

Scenes from Under the Umbrella

Two very rare things have happened today.

First up, it's bucketting down in Melbourne. An inch of rain in about three hours. It was wonderful. Proof I'm from the country at heart - rain makes me happy.

Although I wish it wouldn't rain between the hours of 7.30 am and 9 am - as it really stuffs up the traffic and it puts the trams out. I got to the tram stop at 8.05am. I walked into the office at 9 am. Normally, when it is not raining, I can walk to work in 50 minutes. Grrr.

Second rare occurence - I had an umbrella with me.

I'm normally one who doesn't have an umbrella. It has to be tipping down for me to take one with me. Most other times I just let myself get a bit damp and deal with it later. My hair is always messy so you I won't bugger that up. I don't wear that much makeup - and that can be fixed. Clothes dry in half an hour - it's just water. Unless it's bucketing down. In all the years I lived in London, I rarely carried an umbrella.

Today, the rain was sufficiently heavy, I grabbed the Manet brolly, given to me by a friend for my birthday a few years ago. 

It feels quiet strange to be standing under a brolly under people who are standing under a brolly.

Though there is a part of me who would love to experience Paris in the 1870s - what a glorious time that must have been, although the scent of damp tweed would not have been pleasant.

The scent of wet dog would have been all pervasive - not unlike the scents taken in on the tram this morning.

Photo February - Day Twenty Five

New Elephants

My colleague outdid himself.

When ever somebody I know goes to India, I ask them to bring me back an elephant.

My colleague brought me back five. Well, this little carving has one big elephant and four little ones around the base. It got through customs without a question.

I'm going to have to start to look for more places to put my elephants. The collection keeps growing.

Very spoiled am I.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Photo February - Day Twenty Four

Missing and Memories

It's been a hard weekend. 

Not that anything bad has gone down - far from it. It's just that it's been a weekend of reflection.

Weddings can do that to you.  

Maybe it's why I don't like them so much.

From the last two days of photos, you;re aware that I went to a wedding in Friday. The bride, Tori, is the daughter of my mother's best friend. Over the last forty odd years, I've spent weekends, Christmases, family functions and the like with this family. My "Aunt" and "Uncle" have been part of my family for as long as I can   remember. They took me in when I was at university, spending many a weekend evening with them getting a feel of home when my mother was in Saudi Arabia. They've always been around. When in Adelaide, I've always made an effort to go and see them.  

I've always said that if I was ever to get married, Uncle John would be walking me down the aisle - though I think that he'd have to fight my step dad for the job. 

Not that I'm getting married.

Weddings brings out so many emotions. Being in my forties, partner-less and alone, I do keep telling myself that it doesn't matter - I'm fine. The bride was in her forties showing that there is hope. I wasn't going to be attending the reception on Friday. When I saw Tori a few months ago I said I'd make an effort to come to the ceremony, not expecting an invite. I was called the day before the wedding. My uncle rang - would I like to come to the wedding? There was a last minute cancellation - the seat was paid for. I was honoured to go.

At least now, after years of attending weddings, people no longer have the bad grace to ask you when it is going to be your turn.

I've asked myself that questions a few times over the weekend, but as it leaves me all too morose, I think of other things. I have a great life. I can do what I want when I want. I had a breakthrough after the gym about home ownership thanks to one of my gym buddies who's a mortgage broker.

Just keep looking at the positives and keep moving ahead.

The day was great. After leaving work early I raced home, showered, changed and went out to Werribee making it to the ceremony with about five minutes to spare. After saying hello to the folks and a couple of other family friends, I went and stood by Tori's brother, Toph.

Toph and I are different people. Barely seen each other in twenty years - Toph's lived all over rural Australia, he captain's fishing boats. A man of few words is Toph.

After the normal pleasantries and being introduced to his new girlfriend, we stood and waited for his sister and father to appear.

We looked at each other. Tears were streaming down both of our faces.

"I'm missing your mother." I mumbled to him.
"She's here."
"Yep. "

My aunt passed away nearly two years ago. She should have been there.

She was there. We could feel her there.

Inside the door of the reception were the wedding photos from my Aunt and Uncle's wedding. My mother, in a younger incarnation, was smiling up the back, a newlywed recently back from her honeymoon with my father. 

The candle was lit in my aunt's memory.

I don't think I have ever missed anybody in such a total manner until this day.

I think, maybe, for the first time in my life, I am experiencing what it is to grieve.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Photo February - Day Twenty Three

And the Bride Played Cricket
Between the ceremony and the reception there were games.
After taking a breather with the bride's brother, his girlfriend and another family friend, where we ended up at a local winery sharing a bottle of wine (better than paying the Belgian National Debt for a glass of house white at the hotel) we came back an hour later to find the rest of the wedding party making the most of the a near perfect summer evening - complete with manicured lawns and glasses of wine (or light beer in my case)
What else are you supposed to do whilst waiting for dinner?
I didn't get a photo of the bride's footwear at this time.
Like me, she was wearing thongs. (Flip-flops, jandles, shower shoes...)
It was a hot day. We were in a garden. We're from Adelaide. What else are we supposed to wear on our feet on a hot day? Huh?

Photo February - Day Twenty Two

Corridor, Werribee Mansion
Have a bit of catching up to do. Friday saw me going out to Werribee Mansion for a wedding.
Unfortunately I got to the ceremony without having a chance to look around the old bit of the Mansion, only seeing the inside of the five star hotel corridor.
More on the wedding to follow.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Photo February - Day Twenty One

Wear Green

I am under instructions from dream group to wear more green.

This happens now and then. You give a dream at dream group. Something goes on in the dream that is the crux of the dream, and you end up wearing a colour you wouldn't normally wear. It's all too hard to explain, I just need to wear more green for a bit.

And I don't wear much green.

I wear lots of black and red and quite a bit of blue and loads of grey. I love blue/greens, like teals and peacock colours, but real green I don't normally wear - not that I have nothing against green - I just haven't thought to wear much of it.

So I went shopping at lunchtime to bolster the wardrobe so that maybe, in wearing green, I can soothe the metaphysical disruptions that my dreams are indicating. (Does all this sound a bit hippy?)

Half an hour later, $50 poorer, I found a lovely mint green cardigan on sale at Sussan, as well as an emerald green t-shirt at Zara. The scarf type thing with the green border - that was a five dollar sale item that will go on the Bali pile. I need a new sarong for my holiday.

I love how colour can make your feel - wearing red makes me feel really attractive. Black - somewhat invisible (Melbourne uniform) If I wear mustard I feel like I'm the size of a house. Blue tends to calm me down. White has the effect of making me look like an Eastern Block seventies shot putter - so I only wear white in combination with other things.

My other colour association is with orange. I was going through a glum patch - think I'd just broken up with a boyfriend and Alice said she had a solution. I was presented with a pair of orange underpants. "How can you not have fun when you're wearing orange undies?" she asked me. Not so strangly, when Blarney was spending a bit of time at the Children's Hospital with the boys, I gave her a pair of orange undies in a care package for the same reason.

But green - I was turned off green at primary school - it was one of my primary school colours (just as I didn't wear blue for a decade after high school, for the same reason)

Maybe it's time to wear green again.

Or maybe it's time to look at why I often hold back my emotions.

We will see what happens.

(Happy now, Viv?)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Photo February - Day Twenty

Peaceful Demonstration, Federation Square

I saw this scene on the way home from book group last night. A candlelit vigil demonstrating against the genocide of the Shia Muslims in Pakistan. Men, women, children sitting quietly by candlelight, holding up signs, bothering nobody. A couple of people were out the front talking to passersby about what was going on in Pakistan.
A workmate of mine, originally from Pakistan once told,"I come from a place where they take out people of my religion and nobody gives a damn. It happens every day."
How very, very fortunate that I don't come from such a place - where some human life has no value. Where people are persecuted for their race of beliefs.
I can't remember the last time I felt so fortunate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Photo February - Day Nineteen

Feddish on Urbanspoon

Feddish Fish and Chips

Our book group meets once a month on a Tuesday night. Over the years we've searched for places across the city to have dinner which are affordable as well as close to transport. These places also need to be quiet enough for us to talk so we can all be heard. Over the years, Feddish, on the banks of the Yarra at Federation Square, has been our summer meeting place.

Last month's meeting was not the Feddish we knew from earlier last year.

We returned last month to our haunt to be really disappointed with the service - horrendous service. How hard is it to clear a few dishes after everybody is finished? How hard is it to let a large table know that dinner will be running late - especially when you booked ahead and the restaurant isn't that busy. We weren't happy at all last month.

This book group was Feddish's last chance. If they messed up tonight that was it - we'd be finding another place to hold our meeting.

Well, thankfully, the experience of last month was not repeated.

As a group, we like Feddish for the location and the easy Australian classic menu. It's in the not too pricey range and generally the food is always pretty good, nothing flash or fancy, but you are fed well and there is lots of choice. They used to have a veal schnitzel with apple coleslaw that was to die for. That's no longer on the menu unfortunately.

Tonight's meeting was great for a number of reasons. A slightly smaller group we were discussing Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl" A brilliant read - so worth it.

Also, unlike the last meeting where we were met with indifferent service, we had no complaints with the service at all. Jackie, our waitress for the night was attentive, on the ball, friendly but not in our faces. We were offered coffee and dessert - unlike last meeting. Dishes were cleared quickly after the table had finished their meals - unlike last meting. Also unlike last meeting, the food turned up promptly in half an hour. There was no hour wait with no explanations.

The Feddish we know and liked was back.

I had the fish and chips tonight. I loved the crunch factor of the chips and the fish was lovely and fresh. Also, I asked for a pot of tomato sauce because I have a lot of bogan tendencies and need chips with my tomato sauce. This came in a pot on the board without a blink - really happy with this. Our requests were met with a smile.

Of the other's meals, there were no complaints either - in fact it appeared everybody was happy - Kez to my left said her lamb shanks were lovely, Blarney was really happy with her salmon, though served with a Caesar Salad, she was a bit overcome by the amount of anchovies in the salad. I thought it a bit strange that a nice piece of salmon is then served on a really fishy Caesar Salad. Other than the anchovies, Blarney said that the fish was great.

The highlight for me -  the chips - Feddish really do great chips. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and the serves are generous.

We had a chat with Jackie on leaving. She said that they were working on ironing out a few difficulties. On tonight's performance, we have no problem with going back there for the next meeting.

It's not fine dining, but good honest food - and Feddish doesn't pretend to be anything else. It never appears to get too busy and the location, overlooking the Yarra, is great. It's a wonderful place if you need to hold a meeting or a mid-sized get together where you need to talk - and we like the place for that reason. The location is especially superb on a balmy summer night where you can sit on the balcony and look over the river.

We also hope that the service stays on a par with what we found there tonight. We were pleasantly surprised which was very good indeed.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Photo February - Day Eighteen

Visionary, Treasury Gardens

Statues have always fascinated me, sad creature that I am. Even as a child I'd been asking, "Who's this? Why is there head made of metal sitting by the side of the road? Why are they sitting here? What did they do?" My poor parents. At least they told me to go look up what people had done in an encyclopaedia (before the times of the internet) and I didn't get spun the story about the Emperor Nasi Goreng building the Great Wall of China to keep the rabbits out.

Then you find out more about how they used to commemorate war veterans with a statue. If the horse has two legs in the air, they died in battle. If the house on which they are sitting has one leg in the air - they were wounded in battle. If the horse has all legs on the ground, then they came home unscathed. I wonder what it means if the horse is kicking it's rear legs.... not a nice fellow? Dishonourably discharged? Couldn't ride a horse for peanuts? Bad with animals?

Then you hear about Queen Victoria who proclaimed that no statue was to be made in her image with her feet and ankles showing - after she was told that she had cankles.

You'd think that statues have some value - especially as they replaced rooting corpses and moundering effigies over the years. Oliver Cromwell's head , posthumously removed at a public re-exection sat on a pike outside of the Houses of Parliament for nearly twenty years. Westminster Abbey used to contain the effigies of the kings and queens of England until the early fifties when they were replaced as they scared too many young children. (They really are creepy - but they are on display in a room of the cloister - fascinating, yet macabre stuff).

Statues are there to be ridiculed and enjoyed. I've seen a bra hanging off the finger of Colonel Light in Adelaide on a number of occasions.

So this fellow, Mr Rupert "Dick"Hamer is cast is bronze and sits beside the Treasury Gardens - a perfect place for pigeon poo to rest. For what else are bronze statues good for except for collecting bird excrement?

Reading up, Mr Hamer appears to be a nice chap - patron of the arts, he was in power when some of the more odious laws in in the state were repealed - the death penalty was abolished, his government gave Aboriginal people ownership of their lands, decriminalised homosexuality and abortions... Seems like a good sort. Fair and moderate by most accounts.

There are only three of these bronzes outside of Parliament House. Mr Hamer, a Mr Bolte, who had a bridge named after him, and a Mr Dunstan, who is very different to the Don Dunstan of South Australia who shooed the wowsers out of the state in the seventies. I want to know where the rest of the bronzes are?

Where is Mrs Kirner with her pleated skirt and sensible shoes?
Where is Jeff Kennett? He's been out of office for nearly 15 years though he pops up in the media like a fart in a lift.
Where is Steve Bracks's bronze? Why can't he have one?
And mind you, John Brumby is just out of office - mind you, he's short in sature and his bronze might be mistaken for a hobbit.

Ted Baillieu, the way he's going isn't going to be in power for much longer and the teachers need something to throw rotten fruit at  - a bronze is easily cleaned.

Maybe they should be getting it ready now.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Photo February - Day Seventeen

Alternative Captions:
a) I'm hot, go away!
c) Do you think I'm sexy? Do I make you horny?
Sunday is the day I go out and see Blarney and Barney and the boys.
It's also the day I go and see my favourite cat in the world. The Maow Maow.
Only thing is that Melbourne is having a run of hot weather - not freaky hot, but hot enough to drain you completely by mid-afternoon. It should cool down a little on Tuesday, but still, the thermometer isn't dipping much below 20 at night for the next week. Doesn't make for good sleeping weather.
It must be hard on those who wear fur coats all day every day.
Poor Maow Moaw. This appears to be the most comfortable postion for the lad. On the floorboards with his legs in the air.
Such a pity it makes him look rather untidy.

Photo February - Day Sixteen

Five Minutes from Home
Blogging took second place to life yesterday.
After an epic fail at the gym yesterday - epic fail meaning that after five minutes on the treadmill I gave up in utter disgust and walked home.
It's a bit hot out there.
I don't like being hot.
Anyway after my gym fail, I took myself to a happy place two minutes walk from the gym.
This is the view from the footbridge near home.
Hard to imagine this is only three kilometres from the city.
It's so peaceful here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Photo February - Day Fifteen


Meet my best friend and my nemesis rolled into one.

Today, my keyboard is my arch enemy, sitting in front of me like a malevolent slug waiting to laugh, hyena-like, as I fail to produce anything remotely productive.

It's Friday - I'm not that good at being productive on Friday.

Though saying this, I've been for a coffee and arranged a meeting and read a document already.

That's sort of productive.

Welcome to the world of being an instructional designer.

Writing online training courses for Poles and Wires is a great job, but I'm on the last of three courses that are all pretty similar. It feels a bit like Groundhog Day. Oh, what's that an image of yet another electricity meter. How thrilling! Go talk to the expert and spent an hour looking at pictures of fuses. Joy oh joy. What's that, let's make a schema of systems architecture both sexy and interesting. Yep, I'm right on it...

Of course, it's been rather warm and humid around these parts for the last couple of days, so my patience is wearing a bit thin. Last night's session with Pinochet has left my pinged deltoid even more pinged, so giving anybody a left upper cut for being annoying is out of the question. I'll just have to battle through todays course planning time, a review meeting and a feedback session on the last super-exciting course and I will be free for two days.

Then I can let my arch enemy become my best friend once more.

Have to say, I do like the way instagram makes an bog standard keyboard look so pretty.

Right, back to the joys of electricity metering and fuses.

(Yeah, run out of ideas today... will have to get creative over the weekend)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Photo February - Day Fourteen

Moreton Bay Fig, Treasury Gardens

Allegedly it's Valentine's Day, that most insidious of Hallmark Holidays designed to make those in love feel wonderful and those who are not feel completely inadequate. Why anybody would want to celebrate a feast day of some nondescript-alleged-Christian martyr is beyond me, but there are a lot of people making a lot of money out of soppy sentiments.

The most I will get on Valentines Day is a damp peck on the cheek from Pinochet after training tonight. Hmmm, sweaty, tuna kisses - dead romantic.

Rather than writing about love, I'm going to write about something I love.

And I love this tree.

This huge Moreton Bay Fig that sits outside of the Victorian Parliament and it looks like it has done for decades.

It's huge.

You want to climb it. I still want to climb up it and I'm over 40.

Hundreds of possums must live in its branches. There is a slight scent of excrement about it.

It provides shade in summer. How cool and useful is that?

It's not like the nearby elms which all have metal and plastic collars around them to stop the possums climbing up it - this one is too big for that. The trunk must be a few meters in diameter.

I love the sense of continuity and permanence provided by this tree. The feeling of protection that you feel as you walk by it.

This tree has outlived generations. It will hopefully out live me.

You can't say that about much these days.

And as for Valentines Day.

Well, Billy Bragg says it all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Photo February - Day Thirteen

Little Audrey, Victoria Street

When I think about endurance, I think about Little Audrey, the Skipping Girl Vinegar lass who skips rope through the night down my end of Richmond.

The first animated neon sign in Australia, Audrey lights up at dusk every evening and she skips her way until dawn, watching over Victoria Street like a young, hyperactive angel. You can hear her chant, "Salt, vinegar, mustard, pepper, if I dare, I can do better..." as the rope, which would go around faster if she were a normal kid, remains at a steady bea..

(Do kids still jump rope? And play marbles and knucklebones and elastics? I loved my skipping rope as a child. Now it's more an instrument of torture used by boxing instructors - jumping rope when you are endowed with a set of DD breasts can be painful if you don't have the correct support on.)

The fact that Skipping Girl Vinegar went out of business long before I was born is not the point. Little Audrey has been a part of Melbourne for decades - long may she remain. According to Wikipedia, she's financed until the end of 2014 - after that - who knows?

The Skipping Girl has also been a part of popular culture. Other than being the name of an indie rock band, she's mentioned in the song, "All in the Way" by a band called My Friend the Chocolate Cake. The lyrics are apt.

The skipping girl vinegar she skips all through the night
Everything is effortless and out of control
And I don't want it to change, at least not for awhile

So poignant. So true.

Not all Melbourne legacy items have remained - case in point, the much loved Nylex clock which gave the time and temperature to beleaguered travellers coming out of Richmond Station until it broke in 2006 never to return to the Melbourne skyline. It's a pity. Many still look to the top of the silos just off Punt Road as they pass, looking for the familiar flashing time and temperature, not to find it there any more. I'm not sure if Nylex are still making garden hoses any more either, but that clock was wonderful.

Still, I go back to Little Audrey's endurance and I take heart. This not particularly good shot was taken last night as I left the gym around 9.30 pm. I'd just done a slowish five km run/walk.

Finally, after a back injury and a few months of serious CBFs  (Can't Be F#*&eds) on the running front, I've signed myself up for the 15 kilometre Run for the Kids at the end of March and I'm in training.

After five years of running I've found that my body goes back to it easily after time off. I'm not going at any cut-throat speeds at the moment - I'm run/walking intervals and this is good. Seven to eight kilometres over an hour - after a stretch when I finish all is well. My joints feel fine, my back, strained by Blarney's toddler a few months ago, cannot be felt. Just a bit of tingling in my right foot that comes and goes resulting for a trapping nerve. It's fine - I'm seeing my massage therapist on the weekend.

I love being back on the road and on the treadmill, no matter how much I complain about it.

On arriving home after the gym I found an email from Gloria and Gaynor. Did I want to do the great Ocean Road Half Marathon? 23 kilometres along some of the most glorious coastline in Australia (with koalas watching you along the way) Mid-May. Last year was a hoot.

I've not committed to the race yet, not that it will be a race where I either run all the way or break any personal best records. I pinged Gaynor an email and asked if she was serious. Her reply, "We can do what we did last year and just run the downhills and half the flats."

Sounds like I'm about to pay my entry fee and find another pair of ASICS Kayanos on eBay.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Photo February - Day Twelve

Assume the Position, 109 Tram, Victoria Street

I can't comprehend the silence of the inner city tram. It's not so much silence and the lack of any sort of real communication going on around me. Everybody in this shot is either looking down, pawing at a smart phone or they are staring into space, earphones in, oblivious to everything around them.

From my position, behind a pole and jammed up agaist the door, all I can hear is the rather loud doof-doof-doof of the bass coming from my left and the metallic clack of wheels on the tracks amongst the ambient white noise of the early morning rush hour traffic that encompasses the tram. I want to tell the owner of the doof-doof music to turn it down and that he must be wrecking his hearing, but that he is dressed in a sharp suit and an angry snarl makes the think the better of it. I was on the verge of telling this woman to turn her music down - Nicky Minaj and some other crimes against humanity she was playing, but she got off at the next stop before I could say anything.

Nobody talks to anybody on the tram - unless you are a couple. Then you talk about the banalities of little Tarquin's schooling or discuss what you're doing for dinner. Nothing that interesting really. We have dancing couple on our tram - I see them now and then. Anybody with doof-doof music and dancing couple will bop along to the beat - normally shaming the owner of the doof-doof music.

Actually, I lie. There are three types of people who talk to you on the tram every now and then.

The first type, we have a are the certified crazies. The 109 has a collection of nutters who will talk to you, or the tram at large in very loud, slurred voices at all times of the day and night. We have an aboriginal gentleman with St Vitas's dance who will take you out with a stray limb if you don't offer him a seat. There are the junkie couple, Collingwood scarves and duffle coats, looking for spare change for their next fix. There are the folks who live at the halfway house in Kew who are always ready for a chat. They'll always try and spark up a nonsensical conversation with you.

The second type of person who talks to you on the tram are people from the country.

People from the country always talk to you. And it's always variation of the same conversation.

"Hello, I don't take trams much. Where is St Vincent's Private / The Eye and Ear Hospital / Southern Cross Station?" This comes from the mouth of a later-middle-aged person, normally wearing Mum jeans and a windcheater with an overnight bag in tow.
"You're about four stops away."
There is a look of relief on their face. "Oh, that's good. I don't take trams very often and I don't know where I'm going really. Do you know if I have to swipe this card thing on the way out?"
"No, you don't. Only if you take a train do you do that."
"Oh, and how do I stop the tram? I can't see a cord."
"There are badly placed red buttons. Don't worry, we'll get you off in time. I'm going past there"
"Oh thank you. I find it funny that nobody talks on the tram."
"You're from the country, aren't you?" 

You have to ask.

Normally these chatty people are from somewhere at least 100 kilometres away. Sometimes the venture from far a field as Adelaide or Queensland.

"You you hang on the the rail. Don't want you falling over." You tell them. The tram will lurch forward at this time and the person will nearly fall over, their overnight bag flying down the aisle with the force of a cruise missile.

"How do you know I'm from the country?"
"You're talking to me, and you're talking to me because I look friendly. Only people from the country talk to strangers on trams. It's a pity. It's nice to have a chat on a tram every now and then."
"But you're talking to me."
"I'm originally from the country. It's okay. I get it."

The conversation will continue until they get off. You get to hear all about their medical woes, transport nightmares and the fact that their son is marrying a sweet but daft woman from the outer suburbs.

The people from the country are great. There should be more of them on the trams.

The third type of people who will talk to you on the tram are ticket inspectors - but since the introduction of our much maligned new ticketing system, Myki, I don't think I've seen one.

Maybe Myki, a system that calls out to everybody to fare evade because the system is so dreadful, has made ticket inspectors defunct. Maybe the fact that they were starting to get nicknames like Stormtroopers and Press Gangs has made them consider their tactics - the bad press running them to ground and check your tickets by radio wave. Maybe they're waiting for another billion dollars from the state government for them to develop Myki checking machine. Knowing how this project was run, it wouldn't surprise me.

Regardless, I look at these people on the tram assuming the required position, either head down looking at a small computerised gadget, or staring into space and I know how much they are really missing out on.

What would happen if they looked up and took in some of the world?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Photo February - Day Eleven

Making Baby Blankets

I haven't made one of these for a while.

There was a time where it was all I did most evenings, especially as there are three sets of twins in my circle of friends.

Yes, I can crochet. So mark me with the uncool brush. I also knit well and I'm not too bad a doing tapestry - though I can't cross stitch to save my life. Handicrafts are something my grandmother taught me how to do when I was a child and I've never forgotton how. I find it really relaxing.

This is my one little talent of sorts. When friends bring a baby into the world, I will get out my crochet hook and make the baby a blanket for their cot. It's a tradition handed down from my grandmother who used to make baby blankets as well, but she made the small squares and sewed them together, always ensuring that the colours were co-ordinated - although if the selected colours were blue and green she had to label them clearly - strangely, my grandmother was blue / green colourblind - one of her many foilbles along with not being able to say Czechoslovakia and quiche properly. Funny the things you remember.

Anyway, as I'm not that neat a sewer, I just make nice big square blankets. I have one on my bed that I made when I was in my teens - it covers my double bed. It's the perfect weight in summer to give a bit of weight without the warmth of a duvet (doona).

Over the years I've made a couple of bedspread sized ones for friends. It's not a hardship - actually it's something to do in front of the television. I rather like making things for friends. Okay, who am I kidding, I just love making things - and making baby clothes and blankets is something modern society no longer does as much.

The blankets are also a lovely keepsake although it's nice to know that they get used. I made Blarney's boys one each, and they've been sleeping with them since they were babies. Blarney was telling me on the weekend that she had to wash Lance's blanket and he stood watching it go round and round in the washing machine, crying all the time saying that it was broken. That's cute. The boys love their blankets.

I've also made mini ones for Maow Maow's bed. Whipping them up in an evening or two, my favourite cat thinks that these are the best things ever to sleep on. When he stays at my place he makes a nest out of my blanket (as does Mrs Squeaky Puss come to think of it) so he feels quite privileged to have his own. Unfortunately he destroys them over time so every year or so I whip him up a new one.

So this blanket will be for Georgie and Thom's bairn when it arrives in a few months. She doesn't know what sort of baby she's having but said that if a blanket was to be made, nice bright colours would be the go - none of this pink for girls, blue for boys deliniation any more. Two blues, a purple,  a green and white seem like a funny mix, but they work. I tend to use the cheapest acrylic wool I can find at Kmart or Lincraft. The blankets all turn out the same - and they are easily washed and don't shrink. Another necessity.

I hope she and Thom like it.

And I have enough wool so that once this is finished my favourite cat will have a new mat to grace the back of the sofa by the start of winter.

That will make him very happy indeed.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Photo February - Day Ten

Fountain, Albert Street, Melbourne
I worked in a building opposite this fountain for years, but never ventured to have a better look at it while I was there. I've walked past this fountain a couple of times a week for nearly ten years. Often called a shower for the homeless, this fountain sits in a park not far from Parliament House and looks like a big shower block when it's going. During the big drought it was rarely turned on, but it's always fascinated me. The fountain has a walkway in the middle of it where you can get shots like this.
When this fountain is turned on, which thankfully is over most of the summer months, if gives you a nice misty spray as you walk past on a warm day. The number of times I've threatened to dunk myself under this fountain when the weather gets over 35 degrees is countless. I'm still quite partial to running under a sprinkler in the Fitzroy Gardens in the way home just put my handbag in a plastic bag and run under so that the contents of the handbag doesn't get ruined. I always have a folded up plastic bag somewhere in my handbag.

Okay, I just have to deal with the fact that I'm a large child that loves being in and around water. 

So the fact that I'm heading off to Bali in a couple of months time and for part of the trip I have a villa with a private pool is not surprising. That I probably will not be out of the water at all in that week, not surprising either. The all over tan I should have at the end of the week, nope, that won't surprise anybody either.

A week with a private swimming pool to do as I wish... life can't get much better than that.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Photo February - Day Nine

The Rivoli, Camberwell

My book group will tell you that there is one thing that will make me roll my eyes and groan quicker than the mention of "That Cat Book".

This object of disdain is Russian Literature.

Russian Literature is in my bucket of pointless things - it's up there with zucchinis / courgettes (the world's most pointless vegetable), Pomeranians (World's most pointless dog), Crocs (The world's most pointless shoe) and Tony Abbott (annoying and pointless - just like his policies)

Okay, I can take Chekhov, but as he writes plays, its over and done with quickly. When it comes to your Tolstoys and Dostoyevskys and Turgenevs, sorry, I find their works as interesting as watching paint dry.

This all stems from having to attempt to read Russian Literature at university and compounded by the Anna Karenina debacle at book group a number of years ago, back before the lolly vote came in. Since the lolly vote, we've had very little to complain about (just that Cat Book), thank goodness.

When some nuffer suggested Anna Karenina, I put up objections that an 800 page book was too long to read in a month, knowing that wading through this turgid dross was going to be almost impossible. Somehow, this objection was overridden and Anna Karenina was supposed to be read. In the end, the book group meeting was delayed on a number of occasions and eventually three of us turned up to the meeting and only two of us read it. Most of the group gave up after 100 pages siting it was all too hard.

A big thing about Russian literature is that you have to decipher everybody's names - everybody has three multi-syllabic names and then a nick name or two. Drives you up the wall. The other thing I really don't like about Russian Literature is that it takes a couple of hundred pages to for anything to happen. Not that much happens anyway.

See, pointless.

Anyway, all I can remember about reading Anna Karenina was thinking every twenty pages, "Has she jumped under the train yet?" Okay, its a bit wrong, but you're listening to the person who thought the best thing about Les Miserables was when Russell Crowe jumped off the bridge.

It's fine, I just don't like Russian Literature. The rest of my book group doesn't appear to like Salman Rushdie (other than Merijn - I think Rushdie is the only writer we agree on) so it's not like we don't accept differing opinions.

Today, despite all my objections to the dreary Russians, I took myself off to the cinema to see the new film version of Anna Karenina. At two hours and ten minutes I thought I could do that without cringing too much. Knowing that Joe Wright was directing - I've loved Atonement and The Soloist, and with Tom Stoppard adapting the screenplay, how bad could it be?

Actually, I have to say, I loved it. Okay, there were times that I wanted to scream at Keira Knightley to go and eat a couple of kebabs, but other than the emaciated star's protruding vertebrae, I loved what they did with the film. Set in and around a theatre, the sets and costumes were sumptuous. The acting was fantastic, though Vronsky did look like he'd just got out of puberty and he had to work hard to make up for a really dodgy moustache, which was a bit unsettling. Seriously, I loved what they did with the film. Not too long, the main points were settled - wonderful. Best of all, the way the film was styled, and stylised - you always knew where to look, but were taken in my the beauty of the whole film. It's a gorgeous film to look at.

And just like any film that pays homage to a piece of literature, you're left wondering about the characters. Karenin - cuckold or conniving? Vronsky - playboy or pawn (or Mummy's boy). You have the wonderful counterpoint of Anna's brother Oblonsky and the wonderfully idealistic Levin. And Anna - a woman in the wrong or a wronged woman?

It was all there.

And I realise that I took in more of the book than I thought. Just like when I saw "Life of Pi" a few weeks ago. I wasn't that enamoured with the book, but really enjoyed the film. However I found myself discussing the film with a colleague and being rather disturbed by the fact that they hadn't read the book.

"It's all in the book - it's allegory. It's the whole point of the book - what we do the keep ourselves sane and alive. The whole book is an extended allegory for the human condition."
"Really, what's allegory?"


So on leaving the cinema today is it any wonder that I wanted to throw a fellow patron down the Art Deco staircase?

"I didn't like it," was the comment that came from behind me as I went down the stairs at the Rivoli. "Why did she have to die?"
Sheesh! Anna Karenina has been taking a swanny in front of a steam train for over a hundred years. And just as Piscine Molitor Patel was in a boat on the Pacific with his mother, a recalcitrant cook and a vegetarian sailor, not a hyena, an orangutan and a tiger named Richard Parker, just as the last fifty pages of James Joyce's Ulysses mimics a woman's been there for years.

It's written like that.

Read the freaking book!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Photo February - Day Eight

My mother ship is currently ten minutes away from the office.

This is the place I go to to debrief, get some frankincense and patchouli air into my lungs and remember that I'm not just an office dolly but also a working member of the craft. I pop in around once a week to ground myself. It's also a good place to pick up supplies like tarot cards, smudge sticks, incense and other paraphernalia you tend to need when you're a practicing member of the craft.

It's also nice to go in and not have to be an office worker for five minutes. I've been known to give impromptu quick tarot readings in there. I find it's just nice to put myself in another, nurturing, creative, energetic space, even if it is just fore a few minutes.

I don't get to talk about my "witchy" side in my day-to-day life - its a part that Corporate Australia doesn't need to know about, but its not something I denounce either. When the need arises I take myself off here for a few minutes to let myself know that there is another side to my life.

My work mates know if it as "the witch shit shop".

I think of it as my city home.

The Wheel is at the back of the shop, tucked behind a curtain at the start of a staircase, however, Danae, being the consumate business woman has put a version of the wheel online. Click here to give it a try. (It won't bite you!)

I'll normally go in and have a look around, saying hello to whoever is serving on the day. then, I make my way down to the wheel, find five cents or some other small coin contribution to go in the moneybox in front of the wheel. You have to pay to play - thems the rules.

I then close my eyes, take hold of the wheel then spin.

As the wheel spins, the incantation goes on in my head:

Tell me what I need to know
Tell me how I need to grow
Tell me what I need to see
Tell me where I need to be

It's one of little rituals.

The wheel spins and delivers the outcome - one of twenty two separations that are in alignment with the Major Arcana of the tarot. There is a shelve with pigeon holes that deliver slips of paper with your fortune.

I find that whatever comes out is of some relevance to the day or the week I'm having. I find the wheel really encouraging for the most part - or else it gives you something to look at.

On this trip, this is what my fortune said:

10: The Wheel speaks of: Change of Luck

The wheel of life turns bringing changes
New ways, new luck, new exchanges
This turn of good fortune is of divine plan:
A dealing of cards from a mystical hand.

As I said, a lovely and encouraging message seeing that I'm starting to put feelers out for a new job.

Not that any of the messages delivered are bad or unhappy.

The wheel is always positive.

It's funny how this all works, this universal energy per se. It's cool to be given the encouragement to move on.

Spellbox, Shop 17 Royal Arcade, Melbourne, 3000

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Photo February - Day Seven

Tuxedo, McKillop Street
A lunchtime walk to collect the mail provided dividends.
There, in the middle of a pedestrianised side street stood a disembodied tuxedo just minding its own business.

One of the great things about Melbourne is that you don't know what you're going to find around any given corner.

A look around the street and I found the tux's owner - it was all a publicity stunt. Bespoke tailoring is on the rise according to the young fellow making sure the tuxedo didn't go walkabout.

A closer look showed fine hand stitching. a handmade shirt, tucks and darks in unexpected places, fine material.

I've never seen a tuxedo close up and the fine stitching was a wonder - all of my clothes come off the rack.

It was a but strange - you wouldn't expect a tuxedo to be waiting outside of Red Spice Road - a wonderful restaurant - some of the best pork belly in Melbourne, but it's not a place you'd wear a tux. I'm not sure where you would go to dinner in Melbourne wearing evening dress.

Regardless, it made a nice diversion on the way to collecting the bills from the letterbox.

(Suit by Oscar Hunt:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Photo February - Day Six

Door Handle, Victoria Street, Richmond
This was found on my walk home last night at the entrance of a Thai restaurant.

I did a double take as I passed, thinking of the impracticalities of such a door handle. Okay, it looks likes the door opens out to the street, but where do you pull om the handle - like do you make a monkey grip of the thumb or do you grasp the fingers? Who else has been pawing this handle? How do they keep the brass so shiny? What is that thing in the middle of the palm? Is there hand sanitiser just inside the door for those who don't like shaking hands?

So many questions.

I've been to Thailand - I've seen the Buddhas - I know what preying hands look like - it's an interesting addition to the door. Do the restauranteurs want you to pray that the food is edible and won't give you food poisoning? Do they want you to ask for the prosperity of the place? Are you supposed to pray for yourself for not choosing one of the other hundred or so eating establishments down Victoria Street?

For those out of Melbourne, Victoria Street is the home to a large part of the Vietmamese Community. Also known as little Ho Chi Min City, there are what appears to be around a hundred Vietmanese restaurants down Victoria Street providing truckloads of steaming bowls of Pho, rice paper rolls, pork buns and barbeque pork served with picked vegetables in soft on the inside, crispy on the outside white bread rolls on a daily basis. There are also a number of Thai restaurants, the odd Chinese fusion restaurant a number of  pubs and most strangely, one of the best Italian Pizza joints in Melbourne (

Still, I go back to the hand-shaped door handle, and I think of the humble handshake. Surely I can't be the only person who judges people on their handshake. There is nothing worse than a limp fish hand  presented to you. It's the squidgy fingered handshake is far worse than having some person try and break your fingers and pump your arm off. Of the person who hands on for far too long. making you wonder just what the person is after. Perfecting your handshake should be taught as a rite of passage.

This door handle would give you the perfect mix of presure, movement and time holding hands. Such beautiful long, graceful shapely fingers are possessed by the hand.

I remember once going out with a guy who had a withered right arm - the result of an injury at birth. To shake hands th presented his left hand backwards. Strange fact.

The other thing I love about this photo is the position of the 109 tram. it's a pity the shot wasn't captured a second or two later as the tram passed through the hand's index finger.

I wonder where it would go if it did.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Photo February - Day Five

Beach Balls

Not that you can get close enough to them, but I see these balls and I can imagine the smell of the plastic.

I don't think I've ever owned a beach ball, nor do I know anybody who owns a beach ball. My childhood was spent on Sellicks Beach chasing round manky tennis balls that we used for beach cricket (normal rules, esky lid wickets and full toss into the sea was six and out). Balls weren't a big part of my childhood. They were something the dog chewed up.

I don't like summer that much anyway - well not Australian Summers. We can't romanticise long evenings on balmy days, Pimms Number One Cup, cucumber sandwiches and picnics on soft green grass like the English.

Summer to me means burning the back of your legs on he vinyl car seats, waving away sticky flies, taking a damp towel to bed with you at night and reading a book lying on the bathroom floor in an attempt to keep cool. The latter tactic worked for the dog - why shouldn't it work for me?

Beach balls don't remind me of summer either - they remind me of Coca-Cola advertisments from the seventies and some picture-perfect life that we all allegedly aspire to but never appear to obtain.

Besides, these polyeurethane objects smell funny.

The only thing I ever owned that was made of this peculiarly smelling plastic was a blow up mattress, used in our water tank as a raft. The water tank, containing the water we drank and bathed in, was a great place to swim, well, that was once we cleared the top of algae and the odd dead magpie, six foot off the ground, it was deep enough to tread water and dive bomb into, but that was about it. The sides of the tank were like gravel, so you'd often come out of these swim sessions with road rash.  The boys next door used to join us now and then for a swim. It was either swim in the tank or the dam - and everybody knew that you had to wade through a few meters of mud when you swam in the dam. It took ages to get off all the mud when you got home.

The joys of growing up in the country.

Currently suspended over a food court in the centre of Melbourne, these beach balls also remind me of visits to the Clark Rubber shop and an episode of Six Feet Under.

Just like the character about to meet her demise, we all need something to believe in - whether that is a perfect Summer filled with perfect looking friends tossing around a beach ball or the ultimate Rapture for which she is obviously ready - prepared with tips from

It's amazing what you can see when you look up.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Photo February - Day Four

The Fix-Up

In the words of any self-respecting five-year-old, everything is made better with glitter.

Case in point was this weekend's pedicure. Jonella, Teddie and I try and go for manicure and pedicure every six weeks or so. We frequent a nail bar in Camberwell where for the princely sum of $30 we treat ourselves to a hot oil mani/pedi. It's a friendly place, clean and hygenic and not a franchine chain nail bar that features so often on the sensationalist foot-in-the-door news magazine shows that are on after then new of an evening.

The lay of the land states that we go in, choose our colours (I'm normally pretty decisive, Jonella takes a bit more time and Teddy really has to think long and hard about her colours) then we sit down and wait to get pampered. We talk about the colours of the OPI range - how "Barefoot in Barcelona" is the best nude - better than "Chocolate Mousse" any day - or how the Bond Range, with it's "You Only Live Twice" and " the Spy Who Loved Me" reds are fantastic. Jonella has only just got out of the mindset that your toenails and fingernails have to be the same colour. Until a few visits ago she swore she could not have toes and fingers that didn't match - me I've always liked being a bit different - and I soup up the colour on my toes and let my fingers be a bit more restrained. The more garish my toenail polish the better.

This weekends mani/pedi saw me have "Midnight in Moscow" applied to my toenails and "Vodka and Caviar" to my fingers. As per usual, the girl doing my toes complained about how short my toenails were. As per usual, I explained that I do a lot of exercise and long toenails in sneakers have a tendency to break off - which is not fun or pleasant.

They do a good job at our nail bar.

And in my next life I want to have a job where I name nail polishes and lipsticks. I reckon that would be fun.

Everything  went well for our mani / pedis. The problem  came an hour or so later, after a coffee and a cake at Brunettis. On the way back to Teddie's, we also went shoe shopping - popping in at the Mountfords sale. This seems to be another part of our mani/pedi day rituals - nails, coffee and cake, shoe shopping. Girlie heaven.

(Reading this, I realise that I am more of a girlie-girl than I ever give myself credit for.)

I've been in need of a pair of black flat work shoes. My old ones, magnificently comfortable and wonderfully flat were not just dead but about to stage their own zombie apocalypse. They were scuffed, no matter how much polish I put on them. They had a couple of holes in the bottom. Their pungent scent could walk them out of the room at their own volition. Time for the bin.

After a quick browse, I found a bargain - a pair of Geox flats in black leather with a snazzy buckle on the toe. $75 down form something over $200.


I asked for my size and a pair of stockings to try them on. These shoes were a great fit. Soft leather inside and out and the buckle dressed them up a bit - just wonderful - and unlike my other pair, unlikely to scream for brains or run a marathon on their stench.

The only problem - I smudged my toenail polish while trying them on.

Quelle horreur! #firstworldproblems. It was worse than breaking the yoke of your poached egg while you cook them.

Teddie came to the rescue. She's a nail varnish junkie. She recommended another coat or two of top coat when I got home should fix it she said.

I went one better.

OPI's "The Living Daylights" was applied to my smudged red/black toenails.

My Saturday crisis was over.

And it appears there is some truth to what the five-year-olds believe - everything is made better with glitter.


FeNoWriMo total - 6000 words

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Photo February - Day Three

I've had one of my cat minding gigs this weekend. Twice a day I pop around to my friend Bambo to feed and medicate him. The cat's name isn't really Bambo - his name is Sam.
You see, I rename all of my wards, other than Maow Maow (who tends to get called "Sweetheart" when  he stays over at mine). It's just the way it is. Mrs Squeaky Puss is known as Kusha to her mother. Stinkybreath is called Tia to her family. Cupboard Cat and Couch Cat are Goblin and Whiskers at home. It just seems to make the settling process easier for the beasties and for me.
And Bambo, who I've known for nearly ten years, is normally called Sam. Thing is, Sam is a 9 kg, 17-year-old, crotchetty,spayed Ginger Tom. He looks like a walking basketball. I call him Sambo Rambo Mambo Bambo - or Bambo for short. A cat that large really needs four names - one wont do the job at all.
This dragon minds the entrance to Bambo's place.
To be honest, a sign reading "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", (Abandon all hope ye who enter here) or "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work will make you free") would not go astray here, such is the terror that one Bambo can instill. To those who don't know Bambo,  a few years ago you could be excused for thinking that you'd met the fourth head of Cerberus, of the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse.
The grumpiness of this old moggy used to be pretty legendary. He settled down once my friend started giving him a daily dose of cat Prozac a few years ago.
Actually, get to know him and he is a lovely beast - you just have to get past the gruff exterior. He seems to like people who feed him and have a kind word and a pat - after a few years (I've been been feeding him periodically for as long as I've known him)
Now, at 17 years of age, Bambo has mellowed somewhat - even more since his friend and housemate went to Cat Heaven early last year.
Turning up to feed him, I found him on the landing. He snugged up to my back as I sat next to him and started to purr. His eyes rolled back into his head when I rubbed him under his chin. And he barely flinched as I tipped his pill down this throat.
Like the dragon that guards his home, there is some softness behind his gruff exterior.
And now to do some real writing:
FeNoWriMo total:  5000 (still)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Photo February - Day Two

Before and After
It's time to retire my phone cover - well, at least for a while, anyway. My much coveted chocolate bar cover given which Kath from Blurb from the Burbs gave me a few years ago is getting a bit tatty. Then again - I know the feel of the squidgy rubber in my handbag. The realistic cover has had many people whine about becoming hungry at the sight of it sitting on my desk. It's had comments from complete strangers while using it the phone in public.
The big problem with it, however, is that there is no hole for the camera lens. To take photos with the iPhone, the cover has to come off. Hmmm. This makes it a bit impractical when you're trying to find a photo a day for the month of February.
So, I've been on the lookout for a new cover for the phone.
There is so much choice out there. Bling covers. Leather covers. Soft covers. Hard covers. Novelty covers. Covers that play Space Invaders.
What does one choose?
Well, the one that stood out was found this morning after the gym. I snapped it up along with a birthday card for my brother in law and a new biro.
This cover sort of sums me up I think. I work with engineers after all...
I'll go back to the chocolate cover once the month is up.
Better get novel writing now.

FeNoWriMo total:  5000 words

Friday, February 1, 2013

Posh Dinner Night - Brooks Restaurant

Brooks on Urbanspoon

I've been reflecting on this evening's posh dinner and come out thinking that the meal was a bit like a half-grown Cocker Spaniel.

I will explain this comment shortly.

Once again Millie from Hold the Peas and I went for a planned degustation dinner since her husband was working abroad. Once again, Jonella joined us - and the three of us are happy and easy company.

The site of tonight's degustation dinner - Brooks Restaurant, downstairs off a side street up the Paris end of  Collins Street - the site where Momo used to be, along with Jamie Oliver's short lived and fire-bombed Fifteen and until recently, the site of The Kitchen Cat. The three of us were all looking forward to the evening.

One element that I didn't bank on was the fact that for the first time in weeks, it decided to rain in Melbourne. Not just a shower here or there - real rain - an inch of rain in a few hours on the old scale. Being the useless git that I am, I ignored the weather forecast and didn't think about bringing an umbrella. Subsequently, I arrived at the restaurant ten minutes early soaked through to the skin.

I was greeted at the door by a gentleman who ushered me in as soon as I drained the water out of my shoes. Thankfully I was shown to the bathroom where I attempted to dry myself off with the hand dryer. A few minutes later, Millie arrived and still saturated, but no longer dripping, we went to our table where Jonella.

There is soooo many fantastic elements of Brooks, one highlight being the service. From the time you arrive and are greeted by the doorman, until the time you leave, the service is fantastic. Attentive, friendly and no up itself - a cast of characters. It was great to be offered a clean tea towel help soak up the excess water that was still more than apparent on my person. (Seriously, I looked like I'd just got out of the shower)

As for the food and drink. The three of us started with a glass of French bubbles as we ordered the five course degustation on offer.

As I said, I think back on the meal and know that I've part I've just partaken in one of the most beautiful meals I've ever had. The presentation of all the courses was amazing, the flavours subtle and thoughtful.

We were offered a variety of breads on offer - fresh, light and glorious, along with some of the most delicately flavoured olives Jonella and I had tasted. Things got off to a good start.

The first course was a tomato consomme with heirloom tomatoes and silken milk, and herbs. Served in a large bowl, the consomme was poured on at the last minute and the scent of tricolor salad reached our noses seconds later. Light, fragrant and balanced, the silken milk, like a tofu, was a wonderful partner to the tomatoes. Jonella commented that she hadn't tasted tomatoes like this out of Italy (I was about to make a similar comment, though my best tomato experiences happened in Greece) A lovely, light, fragrant start to the meal.

One of the coolest things about Brooks is the open kitchen, where you can watch Nicolas Poelaert and his team weave their magic. A quiet, well-oiled team skate around the space in near silence - if you watch, you'll often see three grown men fussing over a plate as they serve up their creations. It's a part of the theatre of the restaurant and it is wonderful to watch.

We were also furnished with another glass of wine - although a hiccough with the wine list made us have to revisit our choices. Millie's Chenin Blanc was gorgeous - Jonella and I had a glass of Grenache, which on the cool night needed a bit of warming to bring out its best.

The second course came soon after the first - a Meli of vegetables - the restaurant's signature dish.

This is one of the most beautiful plates of food I've ever had presented to me. 24 different elements on the plate from purees, to leaves to olive soil to flowers. Exquisite. And the great thing about this plate of food - nobody will have the same experience eating it. The three of us savoured the flavours and textures presented - and there was a lot to take in. The red cabbage puree was a stand out - then again, there were hints of cauliflower, lemon, nectarine, nasturtiums, radishes... A thought-provoking dish.

The third course came. As Millie is allergic to fish, she had something slightly different.

The Moreton Bay Bug, shiso oil, mussel custard and pickled oysters came dressed under a light, fragrant, herb and salmon roe sprinkled snow. Millie received a vegetarian alternative with elements of roasted beetroot.

This dish was one of my favourites of the night - a subtle mix of seafood textures and flavours cooked to perfection. Millie said that her offering was good, but not something she would choose again.

By the time the fourth course came, I'd nearly dried out. Thankfully the restaurant is pleasantly warm being underground. The atmosphere of the restaurant is great, with the bar near the door holding up patrons as the restaurant service flows. It's a great place to people watch as well - and we were interested to see the mix of patrons who came in while we were there.

The fourth course, the meat course came with a flurry. Beef, beetroot, ginger wine, mimolette, butternut and oats. Once again, again beautifully presented, with leaves of the beetroot sitting on top of the rest of the components. Unfortunately, star of the dish, the beef, failed to shine. The other elements on the dish outdid the beef. The rest of the components were wonderful - but the small piece of beef was just a bit chewy - the flavour divine, but you had to work for it. Our waiter looked a bit disappointed when we gave back our empty plates with a nondescript, "Yeah, well..." If the beef had melted in our mouths, this would have been another stand-out. Alas, it was not to be.

The final course - dessert, was a winner. Rather than giving us all the same dish, the waiter brought out three separate dishes which we shared.

First a white chocolate ice cream, figs, milk and olives. My photo does not do this justice, but this was my favourite of the deserts. I'm a white chocolate freak, and the olives in a crisp wafer with the milk were the perfect foil to the smoothness of the ice cream.

The second dessert, berries, liquorice ice cream, rose and cheesecake had the "oooohhh" factor.

Such an interesting mix of flavours and textures, the rose petals were tart, but were a great foil for the berries and the liquorice.

The star of the night was definitely the dish described as the 'Forest Floor'. Mix of all sorts of things including pork crackling, meringue and hazelnut parfait.

Jonella and Millie, both chocolate fiends, raved about this. The pork crackling worked wonderfully, cutting through some of the sweetness - a brilliant dish all round - though I still preferred the simplicity of the white chocolate myself.

The meal was finished, the bill paid and we left with a slight feeling of being underwhelmed.

I've spent the night trying to work out why I had this feeling. The food was exquisite. The service exemplary. The atmosphere in the restaurant terrific. The company awesome.

As I said at the start, I had the feeling I was looking at a half-grown Cocker Spaniel - full of life and energy, glorious to look at, but missing a bit of substance somewhere that it will grow into in time.

Maybe it was because the weather had turned icy and the summer menu didn't leave me feeling replete - being honest, on these degustation meal days I eat very lightly - and after this meal, I found myself hungry an hour later - not something I expect from a degustation dinner. Possibly the failure to launch with the beef dish let the experience down.

Would I go back? Definitely. I'd like to try the fois gras dishes that Brooks is known for. I really did enjoy the experience, though I'm still wondering why I have this feeling of lack.

Definitely give it a go - and I'd be keen to try a winter degustation to see what the kitchen comes up with - the thought processes behind the food are amazing.