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.

i love smith street (the city end)

You know, I used to live off Smith Street, on Otter Street (the main drag between the housing commission high rise on Wellington Street and Safeway).  20 years ago it wasn’t the most salubrious of neighbourhoods.

If we didn’t have people kicking our door in (really, we came home and the front door was on the floor) and robbing our house while we were asleep (we did leave the back door open on a hot night), or stealing furniture off the porch, and strangers climbing over the fence to fill plastic bags with the plums from the tree in our backyard when we weren’t home, it would have been ace.  Actually it was ace – despite all this.  Who doesn’t have fun hanging with their friends in their first student house?

Back then Smith Street already had the great asian bakery opposite Safeway, the galleries down the city end, the dodgy chicken shop (we could just afford the Tuesday 1/4 chicken and chips deal on our Austudy allowance), the organic shop, Jonathan’s (the flash butchers) and a nice selection of op shops and $2 shops catering to our meagre budgets.  And just as we left the scene started to change – Gluttony opened. Wow, a cool cafe. Maybe it would become the new Brunswick Street?

Yesterday I parked in the Safeway carpark and took a stroll down to the city end and back.  On my way to The Design Files Open House (on this weekend). I haven’t done this for a while – walked down this end of Smith Street in the day.  And it made me so happy.  You know, there have been changes (I notice a few op shops missing and some major building works going on) but the vibe is still the same.  Here were the best bits (for me anyway) …

Of the Open House …

1.  I was super excited to see these impressive hung planters made out of …. twigs and twine just like my star.  A bit more tying involved here I think, but still.  It made me feel a little bit like I knew what was going on – you know?


2. Seeing Kirra Jamison’s work in real life.  I can see why Lucy (Design Files) is always pointing it out in houses.  It is quite something in the flesh.


3.  These chopping boards – really and truly, ever since I made salad servers I have been envisaging ‘dipped’ chopping boards.  Treehorn Design beat me to it … but it was a good idea huh?  And truth be known I would have made, like two, and then moved on to the next project.  They look cool as.


4. And I am very glad I made my own terrarium (thanks Wendy) – terariums are clearly the go and everyone should have one in 2014!

5. These bats.  Love a bit or recycled art. I took photos of some like this at Melbourne Art Fair this year … I wonder if these are by the same person?  These ones have a bit more on them, so maybe not?  I forgot to look who the artist was.

6. Works by Elizabeth Barnett (she was one of the feature artists at Art4All this year).


And then, I walked along Smith Street and found ….

1.  A sign calling to me … And I went inside and found this paper.  Love it.

2. And then this sign … which I love in itself.  Oh blue, blue, blue ….  And check out the tiled counter inside Storm In A Tea Cup. If only I hadn’t just finished a coffee…



3. Port Jackson Press – so many great works – Kyoko, Damon, Rona, Martin, Dean.  I could have bought everthing there.  I might go back for a little something for Clive for Christmas.

4. A book/art/design/homewares shop (super combo) back up near Otter Street. Called Happy Valley.  I just want to point out that I got my $85 grey cross Pony Rider cushion at the Brunswick Brotherhood for $3.  And bugger, I left the acidic yellow one there (what was I thinking). And, also, what do you think … I might need some copper spray paint ASAP.



I found two planters like this in hard rubbish. Don’t they look good in copper.

5.  And finally, I popped in to Tanner and Teague and saw this advent calendar.  Which the lady in the shop told me they made as part of a workshop event they held upstairs a couple of weeks ago.  Hmm.  I’d like to go to a workshop and come away having made something like this.


And I ate delicious rice paper rolls as I walked along (from my old haunt the asian bakery).  And had a great Seven Seeds coffee and a chat with the barrista at the open house (nice). And got back to my car in the Safeway carpark within the allotted 1.5 hours (the City of Yarra parking inspector had marked my tyres – so lucky I believed the sign about car parking limits being enforced).

Maybe you should take a stroll there too.  The Design Files Open House at 12 Smith Street is open til Sunday from 10am to 5pm.