Monday, 25 February 2013

Photopost: Saturday on the Sea Wall

Last weekend Matthew and I wanted to do something idiosyncratically Vancouver. This was inspired in part by our week in Melbourne doing tourist things, and also by the inauguration of my new 'Things to do' page (see above menu). In short, we wanted to be strangers in our own city, and also take advantage of the clear sunny weather.

We breakfasted leisurely and bussed up Granville into town, and then caught the Stanley Park bus to the Aquarium. Starting at Lumberman's Arch, we walked around the Sea Wall to English Bay Beach.

Matthew looking windswept under Lumberman's Arch (notice the swathe of actual blue sky!!)

In Coal Harbour, a Flock of Loons (represented on the Canadian $1 coin) and Matthew swears he's never seen one in real life before! Score for our running tally of Canadian Wildlife Bingo.

Stiff breeze

View of the North Shore

More loons, under Lions Gate Bridge, Grouse Mountain in the background

Adorable tiny birds fossicking on a scrap of shore one foot wide against the sea wall. (NB: blogger spellcheck doesn't recognise 'fossicking' as a word! ... I googled it and it turns out it's a cornish-aussie-nz goldrush term??)

Siwash Rock

And from a distance. When we rounded the point, it was full-on sun glare all the way to English Bay! (...Okay fine don't believe me.)

A seagull having an elaborate picnic.

Just when we were flagging, an appropriate throne presented itself.
A spontaneous collection of inukshuks (or inuksuit plural??) on English Bay Beach.

'A-maze-ing Laughter' by Yue Minjun, of 14 laughing men at Davie and Denman. (worth clicking to expand for detail) It's funny to watch how this sculpture encourages interaction, because people always seem to be mimicking the poses.
It took us a bit over an hour to walk the five or six kilometres, I think, although it was one of those delightful weekend afternoons where we stopped and started and didn't keep time. We did have to be in Burnaby by 5pm though, so we did a bit of frantic watch-checking towards the end.

In the evening we had an invitation to my cousin Eleanor's birthday, where we caught up with the family, ate Chinese food and birthday cake, and exchanged holiday adventure stories.

Birthday girl Eleanor, Gramma, Carolyn and Me

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

One Week in Melbourne

Welcome back! Matthew and I landed in Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, after the shortest and most whirlwind of adventures to our old hometown, Melbourne, to see Matthew's dad, John, marry his lovely fiancé, Sally. Matthew was the Best Man.

Here's what went down:

Sunday 10 February

Fresh off the plane, we went to Malvern and got installed in John and Sally's gorgeous new house, our home-away-from-home for the week. We were excited to explore life South of the Yarra! Matthew and I were Inner North people to the core when we lived in Melbourne, so we were very curious about Malvern and surrounds. We especially enjoyed trying out the restaurants and shops on Glenferrie Road and High St Armadale. That night John and Sally took us to their favourite local Greek restaurant and we ate more fish than you can imagine, and then some baklava. It felt like a real Summer-in-Melbourne thing to do, eating Greek food in the warm evening sunshine.

Monday 11 February

Matthew and I got up at the crack and had stewed rhubarb for breakfast. It was already hot and sunny. This was to be our new routine for the week. We got a tram into the city at peak hour, but it wasn't too packed. It did cost us a pretty penny though. Don't even get me started on the new public transit ticketing system, Myki, the rocky implementation process of which we consider ourselves blessed to have missed when we moved to Vancouver. Shame, Melbourne, shame. (Side note: Vancouver will also be experiencing a similar public transit ticketing overhaul in 2014-ish... time for Matthew and Zoe to flee?)

Anyway, we crossed the city in good time and met some of our nearest and dearest friends at King and Godfrey on Lygon St, in Carlton. Matthew met Tom and his pal visiting from Byron Bay, Troy, and I met Tess, my bestie who featured on this blog in January 2012.

Tess and I left the men and went to D.O.C. Espresso on Lygon for a long-awaited latte and breakfast. We sat outside in some warm shade for an hour, catching up on gossip. We plotted out an epic day of touristifying, and then walked into Melbourne CBD. In Melbourne Central we found me a dress for the wedding on Thursday, and then in Myer we found Tess some hot patent coral pumps. Success!

For Chinese New Year (Monday), Myer department store had a giant golden snake hanging from the ceiling.
More Chinese New Year celebrations, this photo was taken by Matthew
 We then did the arcades, Block and Royal, admiring the beautiful jewelry stores. Then it was time for lunch, so we caught a tram to St Kilda and found a cafe on Acland St, The Vineyard.
After lunch we took a stroll along St Kilda Beach, trying to pep-talk each other into getting our bathers on and hitting the waves. But alas, the breeze was too strong, the sand too gritty, and the waves too choppy. 

We lamented, but only until the St Kilda Sea Baths hove into sight. We bee-lined there and paid the exorbitant extrance fee (YMCA this place is not), and then spent the next hour floating and chatting to our hearts' content in the salt water spa. Funny thing, when we got out, I felt a heaviness of limbs, like every step was hard. I've since learned that this is Thalassotherapy (written on the walls of the sea baths, we wondered about this at the time) -- hanging out in sea water feeling the lightness of being.

We then noticed that 5pm was approarching, so we walked back to Fitzroy St and got a cocktail at one of the many bars (can't remember which, was too blissed out from all the spa-ing). It was delicious, a French Martini (I was so impressed that I had one later in the week as well), and such a delight to sit outside in the sunshine with our fancy drinks.

Tess and I trammed back to the city and parted company for another unbearably long time (or so we thought! ...more later). I found Trunk on Exhibition St, with Matthew and our friends Leigh and Kate already in attendance in the garden out front. We were soon joined by Ruth, Lorenzo, Morgan, Tandy, Simon, Tegan and Gavin. (You may remember Ruth, Lorenzo, Tegan and Gavin from our Portland Roadtrip in the summer.) 
Matthew and Leigh

Tandy and me

Simon and Morgan

Tegan, Lorenzo and Ruth

Matthew, Gavin, and me

We took advantage of the perfect summer evening to stay outside dining until it was very late, catching up on life events (PhDs! Marriage proposals! New houses! International travels! People's lives are so exciting at the moment!). Tegan and Gavin kindly drove us home because they too live South of the Yarra.

Tuesday 12 February 

Again, we got up early and ate the rhubarb. We trammed and trained and trammed again to West Brunswick, where our dear friend Jane fixed my poor tresses (I recently had 5 inches hacked, and I really mean that, off) and fed us cupcakes and tea in her amazing new penthouse apartment overlooking the Inner North West. 

Then Matthew and I went our separate ways again: I trammed with Matthew to Leigh and Kate's house and left the men setting up their Warhammer table, and trammed on to North Melbourne to meet my sister Jessie at her place.

Since we moved to Vancouver, Jessie has a new pet Alexandrine parrot called Dandy. This is Dandy and Rafi (Jessie's special cat), but the picture is from a couple of months ago:

 Jessie and I played with Dandy for a while but Dandy was a bit afraid of me. Then we left Dandy and headed into town (on, you guessed it, a tram) for a coffee. We went to Laurent Bakery and sat upstairs and we had the whole place to ourselves. It was nice and cool.

Then we went shopping in Bourke St Mall. Then we met our cousin Gypsy, who is newly engaged!, for lunch at Oriental Teahouse in Melbourne Central (near Gypsy's work) and ate duck dumplings and Chinese broccoli! Gypsy told us all about her amazing nuptial plans with the lovely Glen, including romantic international escapades, of which I strongly approve.

We farewell'd Gypsy and trammed back to North Melbourne for side-by-side manicures (de rigueur for the wedding party, and also, why not?) and another latte in the garden room at the back of the delightful new cafe on Errol St, Auction Rooms. Then we revisited Dandy and Jessie's flatmate Jenna for a cool drink in the shade of their apartment balcony.

Jessie drove me as far as Royal Parade and then I hopped out and walked the length of Princes Park in Parkville. I arrived at The Retreat in Brunswick approximately a million hours early, and so I had the pick of the beer garden picnic tables. Matthew turned up after his long day of wargaming, and we were soon joined by our excellent friend Nick. We caught up on Nick's life (our life is pretty much an open book, what with all the exciting bits free to the public on this blog), and then Nyssa, Neil, Jane, Becc, Colin, India, Marcus and a nice guy we just met called Paul (friend of India and Marcus) arrived and it was hugs and kisses all round.

Paul, Marcus, Colin and Matthew

India, Jane and Becc
Neil, Nyssa and Nick
A delicious parma.

Matthew and I ordered parmas, because you can't get them in Vancouver, and we sat in the sunshine with our wonderful friends and talked and drank like it was 2011 again. Everyone was exchanging wedding stories (many of those present are engaged, some were to be married within the week!) and fitness goals (I am comforted to learn that I'm not the only one struggling with the whole 'health kick' phenomenon over the last year and a bit). At one point, someone said it was like we'd never left. That felt good.

Despite it being an ordinary Tuesday (work night) for all present except Matthew and me, we didn't finish up the evening until quite late. Nyssa and Neil walked us to the tram and we made the long journey to home to Malvern

Wednesday 13 February

Matthew and I actually managed a sleep in on Wednesday, and we enjoyed a leisurely tea and baklava breakfast with John and Sally in their lovely light-filled kitchen. Then we set off for Mulgrave. When we lived in Brunswick, Mulgrave felt like Tasmania in terms of distance from the city. But since we were in Malvern, it took no time at all. Matthew had arranged to meet with some chaps at his old work, and I discovered that my dear friend (and onetime flatmate) Erin works close by, so I went off to long-lunch with her while Matthew talked business.

Erin and I caught up on all things work, family, and plans for the future, and then some hours later Matthew met me and we drove back to Malvern for a quick siesta. Then we trammed back into the city to meet Jess and Aaron at Transport Bar in Federation Square at rush hour... golly Matthew and I have not witnessed crowds like that for a while! It was a real reminder of how much smaller Vancouver is (and not in a bad way). You may remember Jess and Aaron from their summer visit to Chez Beavis. They looked relaxed and corporate chic with a cocktail in hand, and our rendezvous with them was far too brief. We were also scorching hot in the front sunroom of the bar. Ah, summer!
Aaron and Jess

We made it back to Malvern with only minutes to spare... we met our friends Sarah and Dmitri at the house and then walked with them around the corner to High Street for a dinner on the patio under the stars. 

Sarah and Dmitri teased us with their possible plans to visit Whistler on a ski holiday within the year... friends, you are always welcome! And we talked the night away quite literally... it was nearly midnight when we finished dinner and walked home!

Thursday 14 February: The Big Day

Matthew and I kept a low profile as the happy couple went about their last-minute wedding business. We headed for the local Gloria Jeans and wi-fi'd for a couple of hours (while Matthew put the finishing touches on his killer Best Man Speech).
Matthew quietly fretting about the niceties of The Speech over an iced latte... it went very well, and got several laughs.
Then we headed home for lunch and beautification, and thence to The Olsen hotel on Chapel Street for the ceremony.
Matthew and his dad
We had a lovely catch up with the Beavis family, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Everyone looked amazingly glamorous, and everyone admired the newlyweds.
Sadly some beautiful people were outside the frame, but here is most of the Beavises in one place.
Afterwards Matthew and I met my mum and dad (also at the wedding) and they generously took us out to dinner on Chapel St. Again, we sat outside in the warm evening, eating fish and enjoying the cool breeze.
Outside the hotel after the ceremony.

Friday 15 February

At the wedding, we plotted with various Beavis cousins to catch up throughout the day. Friday was indeed the Day of Cousins. Matthew and I trammed in to Brunetti on Swanston Street and met Cousin Emily for a before-work latte, and then trammed back out to Prahran for brunch with Aunt Margie, Uncle Guy and Cousin Claire at the Prahran Market.
Guy, Margie, Claire and me
Mushrooms at the Prahran Market!
Happily, we were soon joined by Aunt Sass (who also visited Matthew and I in Vancouver about a year ago). We had second lattes and cakes, and tried to keep in the shade as the midday sun got fiercer. Margie then took us on a tour of the market, where we collected half a kilo of fresh dates (which I then had to carry around in my handbag all afternoon). We said goodbyes, and trammed back into the city.

Since the Malvern tram goes down St Kilda Road, and since we had been back and forth on it approximately twice a day since arriving in Melbourne, the Neo-Impressionists poster at the National Gallery of Victoria had caught my attention. By Friday I was positively ravenous for some Neo-Impressionist art. Matthew kindly agreed to accompany me, but in fact he totally loves art, so I didn't feel bad about making him attend.
Matthew did his best to set up the camera on time delay on a chained-up bike seat... sadly we got photobombed.

It was a really big poster.

Matthew playing with the famous water wall at the NGV
Me having a half-time break in the middle of all that art.

After the NGV exhibition (faaaaabulous, if you're in Melbourne, go to it) Matthew and I headed to what used to be the Belgian Beer Cafe on St Kilda Rd. (Now 'The Village' or some generic name). We grabbed an artisinal cider and staked out a table among the roaring Friday-after-work crowd. We were soon met by Cousins Emily, Will and James. We were also most delightfully surprised to catch Tess again at her own after-work drinks! So unexpected!
Em and Matthew discussing Art.
We enjoyed some cool ones and talked about art for an hour in the hot shade. Then we all fled to our Friday night plans, hugging and dashing for trams and all that stuff.

We met John and Sally for a lovely home cooked dinner in the perfect air conditioning, and enjoyed an evening of peace and quiet which was much too short.

Saturday 16 February

Mum and Dad gave us a lift up to Harcourt on Friday night after the concert they went to in the city. On Saturday morning we got up and had local eggs (from the chickens in the back yard) for breakfast with mum, dad, and their friend Colin who is staying with them. We also played with their very cute dog Milly. Milly was an unexpected delight of the weekend. She has one cocked and one flopped ear, just like a picturebook dog, and she is forever rolling over and showing off her portly naked polkadotted belly.

Matthew went to Bendigo to see his mum, Hilary, and spend some quality time, and I tagged along with my mum on a shopping trip into Castlemaine which turned into a antiques-and-boutiques treasurehunt.
This awesome vintage dress made me look quite literally, like a gallah. Mum was rolling her eyes as she took this photo.
 After finding all the twee things in town, we had an iced coffee at the Theatre Royal and then did the actual shopping.

Jessie and her boyf, Lloyd, had arrived at Harcourt in our absence. Mum and I set both to work in the kitchen making dinner and also mum's birthday cake (with 6 eggs, which is how many the chickens lay every day). It worked splendidly.

In the evening, my Aunt Liz (mum of Cousin Gypsy of Tuesday lunch) and Uncle John came over, and Matthew brought Hilary back from Bendigo. We had a big barbeque on the deck and Matthew got eaten by mosquitoes. After the barbeque was birthday singing, candle-blowing, and cake-cutting. And after that was some long-awaited spa relaxation.

Matthew, Lloyd, and my mum

All the crew on the deck

Lloyd and Jessie

Mum blowing out her birthday candles, Liz beside her

What happened when the candles blew out!

Mum, Matthew and me in the spa

Hilary and Matthew
 We talked with Hilary until very late, and then we packed up for the flight home.
Sunday 17 February

We had to leave Harcourt at 6:30am to make our 11am flight. Matthew took some beautiful shots of the sun rising.

We said goodbye to my mum and dad, and cooled our heels at this and that airport until we reached Vancouver, some 30 hours later.
The duty free at Melbourne airport had cocktails. Matthew decided that 8am is the best time, so he had one.

Our warmest and most heartfelt thanks to
John and Sally, for opening your new home to us. We loved staying with you and we are so proud to have been part of your special wedding day.
Mum and Dad, thanks for having us at Harcourt. It was great to see what you have done to the garden, and to meet the sweet Milly.
Hilary, for the beautiful dessert you brought, and the very amusing photos you took!
Beavis family: Margie, Guy, Claire, Sass, Imre, Em, Will, Rob, Anne, James, Eleanor and Hugh.
Carthew family: Liz, John, Gypsy.
Jessie, for lattes, manicures, handbags, everything.

And to our friends

Tess, Kate, Leigh, Tom, Tandy, Morgan, Simon, Ruth, Lorenzo, Tegan, Gavin, Jane, Nick, Nyssa, Neil, Becc, Colin, India, Marcus, Erin, Jess, Aaron, Sarah and Dmitri

Thanks for an excellent week. We loved seeing you again, and we think of you often xoxo