I love melbourne (laneways)

Did you know that school holidays start today in Victoria?  The official very last day of school for 2014.  9am – 1.30pm isn’t much of a school day though, is it?

With this in mind, yesterday I celebrated my very last solo 6.5 hours for six or so weeks with a ‘trip to town’ as my Nanna used to say (I think I inherited my shopping gene from her).  I ticked a few things off my ‘to do’ list and met Clive for lunch.  And basically had a lovely time.  ALL … BY … MY … SELF.

In a nutshell.  I alighted at Flinders Street, walked down Degraves Street and Centre Place through to Collins Street.  I walked  through the Block Arcade and had a bit of a detour down Little Collins Street before wandering through Royal Arcade to Bourke Street.

Then I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t going to be me as I saw the lines for the Myer windows … and headed in to H&M (my first visit).  Followed by The Emporium.  Then I went up Little Bourke Street to Queen Street.  Hello Clive’s work!  Then back down Lonsdale Street to Hardware Street.  Lunch.  Home via Melbourne Central.

Here’s some of the cool stuff I saw …

Little Cupcakes in Degraves Street has little cupcakes. And it’s got a quirky mix of old stools, and old cameras and books on the shelves.


This is a super bribe shop for a mother with children in tow.  Perfect if you are catching the train at Flinders Street.

For about 6 months I did an after work silversmithing course at CAE and regularly popped in to Degraves Espresso for a coffee.  Funny how even at 10am in the morning it feels seedy.  It’s got a bit of the Fitzroy pub thing happening.  Love the emerald green chairs.

And I noticed this sign … Is was too early in the day … probably … right?


Okay, how gorgeous are these? As you know I am currently into dangles.  And these necklaces made out of painted metal tubes, combined with some wooden beads caught my eye.  Some of the metal tubes are etched with little pictures. They are really interesting.   And the brand is Cloud.  Lynette, who owns Fokus (the shop window I saw them in) told me the person behind the brand is a graduate from RMIT.  I am not sure my photo does them justice.  Some are for wearing. Some are for dangling (or wearing by giants).  All are for admiring, don’t you think?  You should pop past and see them in real life …IMG_8246-0

The Block Arcade floor is lovely isn’t it?



And this is one of my favourite jewellery shops – The French Jewel Box.  I always window shop here.  I want that little art deco ring on the right …

And window shop here … and think of my work friend Gervase (she LOVES Haighs).


Shoe detour … I tried these on in Cinori. And I popped in to Zomp too (also in Little Collins Street).


Okay, some Babushkas.  I always visit this shop in Royal Arcade. It’s been there forever. It’s just nice to have an eastern european thing in the middle of everything else … it makes the world smaller, you know?


Whoa, H&M scored big time didn’t they?  How amazing is the GPO when you look up?


And speaking of amazing, are these not THE most inviting chairs in the whole wide world?   In the window of the UGG shop in Little Bourke Street in The Emporium.  I want to get in, and never get out.  Ever. Imagine if they added one of those little pull down blind-things that they have on the IKEA kids swivel egg-chair equivalents …

And then I visited Uniqlo also in The Emporium.  I nearly bought these.  Clive loved Moomins when he was little and has indoctrinated the kids.  If Clive actually reads this post I bet the kids will be getting Moomin t-shirts for Christmas – THIS IS A TEST!  The t-shirts are only $12 Clive.  Size 6, 8 and 10 would be perfect …


So, by now it was about 12.30pm.  And I needed to be home by 2.30pm.  So I rang Clive to see about lunch, and he said he was out, but to meet him in chambers in 15 minutes.  OK.  A slow walk up Little Bourke Street (I could manage that).

Here’s what I noticed …

Some street art in Warburton Lane.  Nice.

An impressive chair collection on the roof of Brother Baba Budan … this looks like the place to go?


And loads of cool bikes in the bike racks in this neck of the woods … and the old fave, Wilkins and Kent, with a new supply of Samantha Robinson pottery in store …



And finally I arrived at Clive’s chambers (ignore the mess – Clive’s busy …).  Hello again little kangaroo-man.  I love this work by Geoffrey Ricardo. It makes me laugh every time I look at it.  And the colours are super.  Pity it’s not on the wall at home …


And finally, lunch.  Clive suggested ‘soup’.  It really didn’t sound like my thing. Not at all … I said laksa would be OK. He said that this soup had loads of mussels and I’d like it.  I still wasn’t excited … but he does go out to lunch every day in the city, and I guess he knows me pretty well after all these years … so I agreed.

He took me to Brothl.  Good name for a soup shop huh? I knew it was going to be OK when we rocked up and the chairs out the front were made of black plastic crates with groovy home-upholstered tops.  And … then the plastic crates were also used for storage inside.

I admire that sort of multi-using! And the lights were all twiggy!  And how cool, to sit IN THE KITCHEN and eat lunch.  It was just like being in the back room of Pellegrini’s watching your lasagne come out of the oven (but it was soup obviously …).


And then the water arrived in jam jars – I’ve never chosen to drink from a jam jar, but it proved quite a good vessel.  And the food arrived …  Oh, delicious!  Seriously, it was super-duper good.  You should go there!


And … so ended my ‘trip to town’ holiday day. I’m happy.  And ready. Let the children’s holidays begin!

preston market (good things)

John (Giovanni) my next door neighbour, meets his buddies down on Station Street a couple of mornings a week. His unofficial over 80s Fairfield men’s club meets outside the library on Tuesday and outside the towel clearance shop on Thursday or Friday. I think mostly they just sit next to each other and check out the scene. I don’t often see them talking. But lately the crew has been dwindling and John says he just doesn’t know if anyone will turn up. Sometimes it’s just him and one or two others.

Yesterday I was thinking that perhaps John should move to Preston. Because on a Thursday Preston Market is full of unofficial retired men’s clubs. And I don’t reckon their wives are even shopping. They are just there, hangin’ in the hood.

I am getting in to Presont maket.  I used to always go to the Vic Market, and I knew the stalls I liked. The last couple of years I have gone to Preston as my default. However I am just not sure where to go, you know? But I have persisted, and I feel like I am finally getting some traction.  So, here are some my regular haunts.

1. I love the Slovenian deli. The cevapcici are the real deal. My friend Geanette introduced us to them (her Dad was from Eastern Europe). Every BBQ occasion is made better with some of these super garlicky skinless sausages. And the German frankfurts are so much better than Don … have them in a crusty roll with mustard and sauerkraut. Just like the sign says. Delicious.

2. I reckon this fish shop is my favourite. I think this is the one Helen my friend recommended (I tagged along with her one week for some tips because she goes every week). I bought mussels here the other week and they were spotlessly clean. Lovely.

3. And my most favourite shop is the big Asian Grocers near the train line.  It’s open all week, not just market days.  It has super fresh herbs and leafy greens. And every Asian ingredient under the sun. Check out the photo below – it’s even got an MSG aisle! I buy my pho spices here. And frozen BBQ pork steam buns, and fat rice noodles, and bags of sticky rice, and every variety of frozen fish ball and cake to put in laksa. Yum!  

4. And of course, it’s hard not to stop at the pizza shop. $3.20 for a quarter of pizza. Sometimes I go to the sushi shop in the deli section just behind it and have rice paper rolls if I feel like I should be healthy. But often I just can’t walk past Peter’s. It’s my fave.

And it was while I was eating my pizza and drinking my milky coffee yesterday that I noticed all the old men hanging out. And thought fondly of my Grandpa (who used to sit himself down for a chat on a bench at the shopping centre while Nanna shopped). And John of course, my lovely neighbour.

Do you have any recommendations for shopping at Preston Market? I really would like to know.

chicken and mango salad with feta

When we have a salad at our house it’s always a bit hairy (not the salad thank goodness – how gross – just whether the kids will eat it).

My kids like their vegies separate. And I can understand that. I was the same when I was little.  And I hated raw tomato (so I never make them eat it if they don’t want to).  But that’s another story.

So, I was once again pushing my luck with this meal.  But I thought I might have some success because it contains mango*.  And they all love mango.

This salad has a thai style dressing.  I made it the first time because I had all the ingredients handy.  It is a great summer dish and very easy to make.  It’s one of those meals to save for a night when you only feel like mixing …we’ve had it twice in the last couple of weeks.


Chicken and Mango Salad with Feta

  • 1 shop roasted chicken, boned and shredded or cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 mangoes, diced or sliced (whatever you prefer)
  • 1 cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1/2-1 iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, shredded or chopped
  • feta, crumbled


  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger julienned or minced
  • 1 red chilli chopped
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp fish sauce

Place the lettuce, cucumber and chicken in the salad bowl. Just use as much lettuce as you like.  Add the coriander.  Mix the lime juice with the other dressing ingredients and drizzle it over the salad.  Crumble the feta on the top at the end (well I do this on individual serves because the kids don’t love feta).  If everyone likes feta you could just put it in at the start.

Mix.  Eat.

* Only Scarlett dug her heels in and refused to eat it.  And she’s the one that likes mango the most … I guess she is 6.