Monday 30 May 2011

Packing Can Be Deadly

Packing for a return home is not half such a bother or a worry.  You know just what things must go without the trouble of selection, and you also know that the going is a necessity, and that if they refuse to accommodate themselves to the limited space of the boxes, force may legitimately be employed. 
(Lillias Campbell Davidson, Hints to Lady Travellers)

Packing to go home, while perhaps less stressful than packing to go in the first place, is not without its challenges.  Like, how are you going to fit everything you accumulated after almost a year in Australia into your checked bag allowance - bearing in mind that excess baggage costs $50 a kilo.

Yesterday I started the process of sorting my belongings into three piles:
1. to give to the Salvos
2. to post
3. to pack

This involved much weighing and at one point it occurred to me that I should also weigh my suitcase.  When pulling it down from the shelf on the wardrobe it (all 4kg as it turned out) hit me in the face.

How I wish I could be like Sir Richard Burton*, who famously instructed his long-suffering wife to 'pay, pack and follow'.  But, alas, I have no wife and, contrary to Miss Campbell Davidson's suggestion, force has only resulted in a bruised nose.

*The 19th century explorer, not the Welsh actor.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Art Collector

Inspired by Mighty Girl, I have, over the last few months, been working on my own Life List.  One of the entries is 'buy, exchange, or otherwise acquire a piece of art every year'.

With this in mind, and also because I thought it might provide an interesting souvenir of Australia, I attended the Affordable Art Fair in Melbourne on Friday evening.  To begin with, I didn't expect to find anything to buy, but then one piece caught my eye.  It's a print, by an aboriginal artist, and every time I passed it (once, twice, three times) it spoke to me (buy me, buy me, you know you want to!)

I'm not going to post a picture of it here, but it is very colourful, very Australian, very beautiful.  It will remind me of this vivid country every time I look at it.  And if you want to see it - well you'll just have to visit me.

Friday 20 May 2011

Overheard: North Fitzroy, Melbourne

Where: North Fitzroy, Melbourne
When: a wintry evening at dusk
What: a learner trumpet player playing the main theme from Star Wars ... very, very slowly
Effect: made me laugh - and also feel nostalgic for the days of homework and my mother's attempts to cajole us into piano practice after school.

Since I can't recreate the effect exactly, I offer this instead for your amusement:

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Fit For a Queen

I have been following the Queen's state visit to Ireland with interest.  It is a historic occasion and HTLT has a keen sense of history.  Also a keen sense of the ridiculous.  I found it amusing to note that the pool in the Garden of Remembrance (the pool of remembrance?) has been cleaned to within an inch of its life.  I don't like to suggest that this is the first time it's been cleaned, but it certainly wasn't this pristine when I last visited, just over a year ago.



(image via

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Handsome Steve's House of Refreshment

Lonely Planet suggests (and I concur) that visiting Collingwood Children's Farm is one of the best things you can do in Melbourne.  Also well worth checking out is the neighbouring Abbotsford Convent which houses artists' studios (that you can visit), hosts regular markets and is generally an interesting place to look around.

And if you're in need of refreshment (as I was on a recent visit to the farm) there's Handsome Steve's.  You need to find your way through the Convent, past the crosses and religious frescoes ... but if that doesn't daunt you, you'll be rewarded with a Campari Soda and this inimitable decor.

[Click to enlarge; yes it does say 'no poofter drinks']
More on Handsome Steve's philosophy here.

Monday 16 May 2011

Australia: Well-known Eurovision Winners

While I'm sure that some long-term readers of this blog are aware that the Eurovision Song Contest was held on Saturday night, I'm equally sure that it passed others of you by.  Anyway, le Concours Eurovision de la Chanson a eu lieu a Dusseldorf (do you think I could get a job as a host?) and the winner was the Azerbaijani entry.

The Australians are quite keen on Eurovision and show all the semi-finals as well as the final.  This morning, a TV pundit was discussing the reasons why.  So many Australians are of European heritage, he explained; it's a way of connecting with their roots.

And has there ever been an Australian winner?

Why yes, the pundit replied.  Johnny Logan was born in Melbourne and he won Eurovision heaps of times.

The video is pretty funny ... Johnny Logan murmuring 'I still love you Ireland,' and 'come on Ireland'; heinous outfits on the backing singers AND the host has knitting needles sticking out of her ears.

But it also brings back memories of my childhood, when Eurovision was great (and not in an ironic way) and Johnny Logan's win was unimaginably exciting.

Australia, you can keep Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.  But Johnny Logan is not up for grabs.

Saturday 14 May 2011

My Easter Egg

[It seems cruelly ironic that the week I resolved to be a better blogger, Blogger experienced some technical issues.  My last post briefly disappeared, though I'm glad to see it back.  Comments seem to have vanished for good, though.]

Would you know what a peripatetic museum curator/interpreter wears to meetings?  Behold my green Karen Walker dress, bought in Auckland in lieu of an Easter egg.  More long-lasting than chocolate and also a very pretty souvenir of New Zealand.

Unfortunately, I wore this outfit to a meeting on a very cold winter's night.  The vest underneath it and the jacket over it, not to mention the tights, were not warm enough to protect me from the chill - so the Easter egg may have to wait for another outing until I'm back in warmer climes.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Cold Snap

We had a very pleasant autumn in Melbourne (as you can see from this photo taken a couple of weeks ago.)  So I was in a state of denial about the approach of winter.  I was convinced I could see through my remaining weeks in Australia in my summer wardrobe with the addition of the occasional cardigan, perhaps a pair of tights and my possum fur scarf (which deserves a post of its own).

I may have to go to Plan B.  As The Age reports, yesterday was the coldest May day in Melbourne since 2000.  Snow fell on the Victorian Alps - which, all things considered, might have been funner than the sleet that fell here.

Shopping List:
-Flannel pyjamas 

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Remember me?

I used to write this blog almost every day … but then my appearances became less and less frequent.  There were occasional apologies, promises to do better, but you only have to look at the Archives to see that I have been a bad correspondent lately: 9 entries in April, 0 (so far) in May.

Because I love diagrams, I drew one to represent my changing circumstances:

When I started this blog I was fresh off a month spent sun-baking and wine-drinking in Greece.  Apart from a mildly traumatic journey with The Adorable Nephew (plus Panda) from Greece to France, my life as a Universal Aunt and honorary au-pair was very relaxing.  Plenty of time to take photos, come up with hints, write the blog.

After France I went to Cape Town.  Sure, there was some work involved, but I had lots of half days and holidays to soak up the heat and colours of the city and have my gob smacked by the beauty and wonder of Africa.  And, of course, plenty of time to blog about all the new experience.

After that it was back to Dublin.  Here I occupied myself being a Home Town Tourist.  The day job was writing a book, but let’s face it, that still meant plenty of time sitting around in my jammies researching and blogging.  (I’ve discovered that bookwriting is about 65% procrastination, 35% furious activity.) 

In June 2010 I left Dublin to explore the Far East.  Lots of blog inspiration there.  And even when I got to Australia, my re-entry to the world of gainful employment was gentle: as a curator and part-time lecturer, I still had free time to explore and photograph and write.

And then in January everything changed.  I went back to pre-Lady Traveller levels of busyness.  I missed Hints to Lady Travellers, but blogging was at the bottom of a to-do list of scarifying proportions.

But now, now – hurrah! – a great many of the things on that list have been crossed off.  I don’t want to raise false hopes, but I think you may be hearing more from me.  SOON.