when a cafe is better than a milk bar


There used to be the world’s worst local shop on Thomson Street Northcote. A milk bar that never had anything you needed, was dreadfully dark and dreary with bars on the windows, and to top it off NEVER open.

When it closed (finally, completely) I was so hoping that something good would replace it.

And it did. Some locals turned it into a cafe, Thomson Street Foodstore.

I have to say that MY MOST FAVOURITE MUFFIN EVER came from here … It was vanilla and lemon curd. Sooooo good. I still think about it.

I love this sort of cafe. Catering to the neighbourhood, with shared tables and some outdoor seats bringing life back to suburban streets. There is always someone in there. And it feels like home.

And yes, there’s some second hand stuff. Check out the ceramic ware on the shelves! How 1980s. And the big table is recycled. And my coffee came on a great yellow floral saucer – that’s enough to cheer anyone up!


This time when I visited had avocado toast. With feta and seeds and a lemon wedge. Yum.

it was the worst house in a great street

the worst house in a great street - My sister Elise has restored her house from the ground up.  Literally.   Her house was on the ground when she bought it.  And it was the wonkiest house I have EVER been in.  You got seasick walking around as the floors were so up and down.

The master bedroom with a second hand blackwood bed and Ikea 100% linen doona, art by Jenny Riddle –

As soon as they settled Elise and Nick went straight to work.  It was stripped and restumped, rewired and replastered.  The floors were pulled up and re-put-down with ducted heating underneath.

At the start it was a bit of an extended family project (luckily for her she did it before the children arrived – when we all actually HAD spare time).  Still some things took a while.  For example, the asbestos cladding on three walls of the outside toilet (the only toilet) was removed early on and replaced with an elegant green tarp.

It remained this way for TWO YEARS – a joy for the neighbours I am sure (their outdoor entertaining area was about 1 metre from the breezy loo).

The original green bath and basin were incorporated into the new bathroom. Oil painting by local artist Stephen Armstrong – the

Since then they have had builders in twice to do bits and pieces (hooray for an inside toilet) and have also kept doing lots of things themselves.

It is not a renovated house as such, just restored.  They have basically worked within the original footprint of the house and made the most of what they had.

It is now a great 3 bedroom weatherboard home, full of character, with a lovely, restful native garden.

The rug in the lounge room was purchased on Ebay, the large picture is by artist Suzanne Hutton, the cushions are home made –

The white extension table comes from Ikea. The chairs were bought on Ebay and came from a lovely old house in Mornington. The artwork is from Papua New Guinea –

The counter in the kitchen is actually an old timber cupboard with 2 drawers and 2 doors. The kitchen is still a work in progress,


This red chair is one of a pair purchased on Ebay, the cushion is home made from a teatowel -

This red chair is one of a pair purchased on Ebay, the cushion is home made from a teatowel –