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Published: February 27th 2019
Having spent his birthday - 19 February - last year with the grandkids in Copenhagen, this year Kevin wanted to spend it with his Melbourne grandkids. Two of our darling daughters - Kerrii and Nicola - live in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick East, and, luckily for us Nic has a spare bedroom with ensuite in the apartment she recently bought when she was transferred from Sydney to Melbourne with her job.
So we flew into Avalon Airport early Sunday morning, picked up a hire car and drove to Nic's place to spend a few days in Marvellous Melbourne.
Before long the three of us were off to meet Kerrii, Seb, Grace and Rupert at Fairfield Park Boathouse and Tea Rooms for a family lunch. There is also an Amphitheatre there as well as the lake to have a paddle or row in. In 1908 the Fairfield boathouse was established by John St Clair - a piano tuner from Fitzroy, who had a vision to open a picnic, camping and refreshment room area. Having written to the Victorian Premier with his suggestion the Premier had to seek the approval from Yarra Bend Hospital of the Insane because the proposal
for the boat shed was actually on their hospital grounds. With permission granted, six years later Fairfield Park was also set aside. In the 21st century with events and functions taking place there, it is now once again a popular place to visit and, while we did consider taking out a boat, we piked on that idea and just went for a walk instead.
Despite enjoying lunch, by the time we got back to Brunswick East, and with many restaurants on Lygon Street within walking distance of Nic's place, on Sunday evening we went to Mama Manoush, a Lebanese restaurant offering contemporary Middle Eastern food. Thoroughly recommended; it was delicious!
Monday, with Nic off to work we caught the tram to Carlton and went to see the movie Green Book
- a road trip set in 1962 when a racist chauffeur Tony Lip takes the African-American pianist and composer Don Shirley from New York to Alabama and back. Based on a true story it shows how ideas can change when you see first-hand the life another person lives. We enjoyed it. Since then of course Green Book
has won the Best Picture at the 2019 Academy Awards, however
Spike Lee was one of the many celebrities to express their displeasure when the night's biggest prize went to Green Book.
Ah well; you can't please all of the people all of the time!
With Kerrii's office just around the corner from the Nova Cinema, Carlton, she was able to join us for lunch after the movie. Then it was off to ACMI in Federation Square to see some of Christian Marclay's The Clock,
a 24-hour video installation created from over 12,000 clips of clocks, watches and other references to time from over 100 years of film and TV history. And it's free! Plus the time on the screen is always the actual time which helps you to keep track of how long you've been there. With very comfy lounge chairs in what was a huge room where it was showing, Kev and I stayed for around 45 minutes before heading home. We had seen some of it a few years ago when it was featured at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art but that didn't stop us popping in again the following day at a different time so the film clips were all different. Fascinating!
What a fantastic
night Monday night was! Kev and I went to see the Melbourne Theatre Company's The Lady in the Van
by Alan Bennett at the Playhouse starring the Marvellous Miriam Margolyes who just so happens to be the NSW Dickens Society patron. Together with a stellar cast and brilliant staging, Miriam was a joy to watch; she was on fire. After the show we joined the inimitable Miriam and most of the cast, almost all of whom we managed to have a chat to. The event showcased Miriam and the actors to a group of MTC donors with celebratory nibbles, drinks and socialising. For Sydneysiders like myself, do yourself a favour and fly to Melbourne to see the show before it finishes on 6 March! It's well worth it!!
Tuesday of course was the birthday boy's big day although the family celebrations didn't begin until the evening. Again it was a local restaurant on Lygon Street within walking distance; The Stone Mill 347 which boasts an authentic Italian kitchen. Beautiful food and friendly staff where a good time was had by all.
The following day we were at the National Gallery of Victoria, ready and waiting for it to
open at 10am. Knowing that the exhibition we were going to see was extremely popular we didn't want to have to queue for a long time and that turned out to be a good move on our part. The exhibition we went to see was Escher X nendo / Between Two Worlds
featuring the work of Dutch artist M. C. Escher (Maurits Cornelis) together with the work of acclaimed Japanese design studio Nendo. The exhibition began in early December 2018 and continues until 7 April 2019. M. C. Escher's work is made up of lithography, woodcut, wood engravings, etchings, linocut and pencil but it wasn't until his 70th birthday that the first full retrospective exhibition took place in his native Netherlands. Escher was admired mainly by mathematicians and scientists, and found global fame only when he came to be considered a pioneer of psychedelic art by the hippy counterculture of the 1960s. Nendo was founded in 2002 by Oki Sato, one of the world's best known and most prolific designers. Based in Tokyo and Milan the studio designs graphics, products, furniture, installations, architecture and interiors and has presented exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art in NYC, Centre Pompidou in Paris,
Fairfield Park Boathouse
One of the rooms where wedding receptions take place
the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and Design Museum Holon in Israel. It's an exhibition which calls for a visit to Melbourne if you can possibly make it.
With Nic having to fly to Sydney for work early on Wednesday morning and not due back until Friday we had her apartment to ourselves. Wednesday evening we went to have dinner with Kerrii, Seb, Grace and Rupert before having to pack up and leave on Thursday. But with our plane not due to leave Avalon until 5.30pm we first drove to Williamstown, the first white settlement at the top of Hobsons Bay which was founded by John Batman in 1835. Then the Gold Rush in the early 1850s saw the seaport grow like topsy! The home of the Victorian Navy, Williamstown Dockyard began shipbuilding in 1913. Hobsons Bay is also where the first shipload of female Irish famine victims arrived in 1848, three years after the Irish famine began. And to top it all off the Williamstown Customs House Hotel offers the best calamari we've tasted so that's where we ate our lunch. After a wander around exploring some of Williamstown we finally drove to Avalon airport to head
back to Sydney. We had plans to catch public transport back home but, as soon as our plane landed and we were able to turn the phone back on, there was a message from Juan David telling us he was going to pick us up and drive us home. How lucky can you get; thanks JD!!
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