Sunday, October 28, 2012

A walk in the park

A few days ago I continued my exploration of Melbourne with a wander around Treasury Gardens and the adjoining  Fitzroy Gardens. It was very pleasant! Lots of huge trees, birds, and other folks enjoying a bit of greenery.

Treasury Gardens, just off Spring St. (click to enlarge pics)

Local wildlife: office workers taking lunchtime naps

Over the road to Fitzroy Gardens

The Conservatory, full of colourful flowers and talkative tourists

Ducks on patrol! 'Wood ducks' according to my Field Guide phone app.

A cool old tree, with St Patrick's spire in the distance

Sunday, October 21, 2012

In my natural habitat

Yesterday I spent my Saturday afternoon at the library. ;)

I'd visited the State Library before, in my one previous trip to Melbourne, and thought it a very pretty and relaxing place to be. Now that I have more time to explore, I had a proper look around the collections. It's not a lending library - it's more like NZ's National Library, where you use the books etc while you're there, and photocopy/scan whatever you need to take away.

I had lunch on the sunny lawn outside, and then sniffed out where the music scores are kept. It turns out they have their own room! I think there are more scores in storage, that you can ask for if you want them, but the selection on the shelves was pretty good. There were plenty of composers I hadn't heard of, which is always a good sign...

Mmmm, French Baroque!

Medieval goodies...

I had a good rummage through the Baroque-era stuff, hunting down solo soprano pieces I haven't sung before. I ended up photocopying a couple of entertainingly frilly Vivaldi pieces (Nulla in mundo pax sincera, and Amor hai finto), and the two solo Leçons de ténèbres by Couperin. I'd better brush up on my French-style Latin pronunciation... :)

When I was done wrangling the photocopier, I had a wander around some of the other collection rooms and the reading rooms. There were hardly any free seats to be had! I'll have to come back on a weekday, snag a comfy chair, and spend some quality time with the music journals.

One of the reading rooms, with the books around the perimeter
More books upstairs!

The dome in the La Trobe reading room

Pretty fancy!

Love the little green lamps. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oh look, a knitting post

Although I'm working on a laceweight merino scarf right now for a new design, my mind has been on summer knits of late, as the weather warms up...

Two of my knitted shawls made it into my reduced Melbourne wardrobe: my Bright Side, and my trusty black Damson. They've been very useful on windy days, but I suspect it will soon be too warm to wear wool around my neck! I like to have something to keep the wind and sun off (plus I just think shawls look cool), so I've been plotting to make a lacy lightweight shawl or two, and a light summer top.

Cotton, linen, and hemp are the classic fibres for summer knitting, and I've found some lovely cotton yarn at my LYS Morris & Sons, in a ton of pretty colours. I also have my eye on some Habu cotton and Hemp for Knitting yarn on the South Seas Knitting website. They're going on hiatus soon, so I'll have to get a move on and make my mind up! Holland Road has a gradient-dyed cotton I'd love to try, called Wolle's Yarn Creations. Also, Melbourne's Dairing stocks a lot of interesting fibres, including some blended with stainless steel. I definitely need to go and check them out.

There are some neat patterns out there for summer knits using these cooler fibres. Click the pics to go to their Ravelry pages...

Plover Summer Beach Shirt by Melissa Schaschwary

Gemini by Jane Richmond

Celine by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

Spearmint Tea by Kateryna Golovanova

Aethercopter by Jocelyn Tunney

I really want to make the Plover top and the Celine hat. They look like they would suit me and be really practical. As for shawls, I have a couple of design ideas sketched out, one for Willie and one for me. ;)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Grand Day Out

I turned 33 on Saturday, and celebrated with a trip to Melbourne Zoo with Willie, our flatmate Matt, and Willie's sister Chloe. Chloe has a car. ;)

When we arrived at the zoo, we headed straight for the monkeys and apes. My favourite animal to visit at Wellington Zoo is the capuchin monkeys, and Melbourne's capuchins were just as fun to watch. They're small, brown, clever, and agile, and so remind me of my family's cat Hazy. Willie loved watching the gorillas, and kept remarking that they're just like humans. One of them was fidgeting with its fingers in a very familiar way!

My very favourite part of the zoo was the Butterfly House. It's a warm, humid glasshouse full of plants and flying butterflies. They like to land on people, which was quite magical! Willie took this video of the butterflies:

Nectar-stations and plants for laying eggs on

What a lovely brooch!

Another colourful charmer was the peacock who was competing with the seagulls for stray chips...

And as incredible as the real live elephants were, the painted Mali elephant sculptures were a sight to be seen! We had great fun exploring all the different paint jobs and textures. The painted herd was recently scattered around the city for people to happen across, but now they've been gathered up to be auctioned to fund conservation projects.

A steampunk elephant
A psychedelic one
Annnnnd... a knitted one!

When we finally left the zoo we went for a drive to Brunswick to grab a bite to eat from Chloe's favourite Lebanese bakery, and then headed back to our apartment for a rest and a lovely swim in the pool.

Our vague plan of cake-baking didn't end up materialising, as we were too tired from walking around the zoo and too relaxed from our long soak in the spa pool! Luckily low-key birthdays are my favourites. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A most successful weekend II

On Sunday we headed off to the Queen Victoria Market, along with seemingly half the city. We grabbed some breakfast first, including some round doughnuts that reminded me of oliebollen (one of my favourite seasonal treats), and then made a beeline for the deli zone. To get there we had to pass through the meat section, which I found a bit much - loud, crowded, and omg the smell! *shudder*

The deli section was still crowded, but the huge range of cheeses and cured meats and other treats made up for it. Willie chose some cheeses, I chose some tea, and we both tasted some different raw honeys.

When we emerged from the market, we found a spot to sit and have some cold drinks, and then scored a raincoat for me from a nearby tramping/outdoors shop. The weather is no longer the boss of me... :)

Willie in cheese heaven!

Our goodies from the market

A well-deserved rest (and iced coffee)

That evening I took a tram to St Patrick's Cathedral, to listen to the choir that sings at their evening Mass (the St Patrick's Cathedral Singers). In the course of my research on choirs in Melbourne, this group had seemed like a good one for me to get back into choral singing - it's similar enough to St Mary's choir to not be too far out of my comfort zone, but it's a smaller, auditioned choir, which will encourage me to work hard.

Not even the main entrance - this is a side door!!

The choir sang some pieces by Mozart (Missa Brevis and Laudate Dominum), and various chants and responses. They have some lovely voices among them, and I was impressed with their general skill level. I noticed that there was much less Latin than at St Mary's, and a little less singing overall in the Mass. But the building is stunning, and I was especially taken with the wooden angels 'hovering' in the ceiling (see my last photo below).

Looking towards the altar

Looking back towards the entrance

I decided to take the plunge, and when Mass was over I tracked down the choir director and explained that I was looking for a choir to join. He said he was in need of more sopranos (hooray!), so I filled him in about my musical background, and did a mini audition in the choir room. That was a bit scary because I wasn't warmed up, but I gave it a shot nonetheless. I sang some scales, sight-read a little bit of plainchant, and sang a bit of the soprano solo from Laudate Dominum (which, fortuitously, I've been learning).
I made the grade, and now I have a choir!

A most successful weekend I

Now that I've (mostly) recovered from another very busy weekend, it's time to tell you all about it. :)

On Saturday Willie and I went on a clothes-hunting mission out to a suburb called Brunswick. First stop was the legendary jeans shop Dejour, where same-day alterations are included in the (very reasonable) price! This place didn't have a great range of sizes (I ended up wearing their largest women's size), but I managed to find a burgundy pair and a mustard pair that were a pretty good fit. The assistant drew chalk marks where the tweaks needed to be made, and we headed out for lunch.

Tucking into ham & pineapple pizza at Tre Espresso

After a tasty pizza at a cute bar/cafe, we wandered further down Sydney Rd and rummaged through the second-hand clothes at a vast op-shop called Savers. I found a long brown wool coat for $15, but alas, it has now been claimed by Willie. *shakes fist*

Brunswick has some neat architecture, especially if you look up!

We returned to Dejour and I tried on the altered jeans. The mustard pair needed one further tweak, and then I had two new pairs of really awesomely well-fitting jeans! In one fell swoop I have doubled my pants collection - not bad for an afternoon's work.

By the time we had caught the train back to our apartment we were pretty tired, so we had a nice relaxing remainder of our Saturday. We went for a swim, and then made pikelets for dinner, with jam and cream. Mmmm!

Catching the train back into town...