Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Well August was pretty darn wonderful, so busy I had no time to think of anything but what's happening next! As Warren Zevon said "I'll sleep when I'm dead"! (September has been much the same hence my tardy delivery of this blog!)

So a quick look at the 42 things (to do while I am 42):
3. Have one night a week where I turn off all electronics and read
Still not weekly, but taking moments of complete silence to read, be it at home or somewhere out and about. It's my form of meditation.
4. Walk more and explore my own surroundings...there is so much I haven't seen in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and other areas nearby
I have been on a few walks in Newcastle and around Belmont and Warners Bay, not necessarily new places but I always find something new to look at. 




5. Read more of my own books. I tend to purchase these, but they get pushed aside for books I bring home from work
Some of the books read this month were my own. But being so busy, reading is very difficult to fit in.

6. More live music - the very poor list above is very abnormal for me. I'm open to pretty much anything, though snooty about venues!
I went to the album launch for Oliver Mann whilst in Melbourne, a friend of my new friend M, this was a fabulous afternoon of true indie music. I love finding new artists, especially one as talented as Oliver. His voice was remarkable doing folk/guitar type tunes but with an operatic feel.
I also won Mum and Dad tickets to see Ross Wilson at Lizottes. I have seen Ross a few times and thought they might enjoy it and they did. I even managed to tweet Ross and let them know my parents would be there and he gave them a shout out, which was so incredibly kind and very cool. Mum and Dad, but especially Mum, were rather excited by that. 

17. Mini breaks to my favourite places - Melbourne (not been since 2011!!), The Blue Mountains, Mid North Coast, and try new ones
After 2.5 years I made it back to my beloved Melbourne. You can read about it here:

And I will be back in Jan with C for the Doctor Who Symphony! And heading to the Gold Coast next month!

19. Eat and drink out more/20. Get through my list of local restaurants and cafes
How I have maintained my weight this month (and I have!) I really have no idea. Must have been all that walking in Melbourne. I have eaten out A LOT!!!

See Melbourne post, PLUS a few visits to Le Passe Temps, lunches at Honeysuckle, Crepes at Coco Mondo, Hamburgers at Brown Dog (nice meal, but small, overpriced and very ordinary service, not planning on going back and it seems everyone I talk to agrees...shame!) and Thai with C.

22. Wash my car more often
Not really doing the best of job with that, however, whilst I was away my car was left with my parents (so they could do my airport drop off/pick up) and Dad spent seemingly days washing, polishing, cleaning it inside and out. Bless you Dad!!!
26. Go to the farmers markets regularly
Yep, have discovered the Dumpling man now...oh my!!
27. Really listen to in the dark with a glass of something distractions
Yes, I had a Midnight Oil blast earlier in the month, you can read about it here:

31. Have fun and laugh more at work
Great month at work, I had the pleasure of popping out to give a talk to the local Book Club. There were a small group of elderly ladies, who were really interested in the digital collection, ipads and the 3D printer. This warmed my heart to see cutting edge technology embraced with such tenacity. They gave me a lovely arrangement of camellias.
We also had Children's Book Week, where the local retirement village put on a play of Dot and the Kangaroo for the kids and it was marvellous. The kids loved it, the seniors had a blast and the community were thrilled. The following week we had Craig Smith from NZ, doing his Wonky Donkey show. If you don't know Wonky Donkey, you must seek him out. A fabulous and uber-popular kids book set to music.
33. Go to lots of fun social events 
But of course. A couple of movie nights, and some theatre. King Kong (see Melbourne review), Ruben Guthrie (a Newcastle production of Brendan Cowell's confronting play about alcoholism) and Frankenstein.
Drinks and eats as above. I visited the Wildlife Exhibition at the Lovett Gallery, re-read Zeitoun for my Book Club and went to a Travel Writing Workshop. I had my monthly lunch with my gorgeous sisters, plus celebrated the birthday of my sister, A and good friend L. Good times!
36. Take time to do nothing and daydream more often
I did a lot of that in Melbourne, but have been doing it in bits and pieces back home too. Usually finding a spot to plonk myself down and people watch whilst out and about on my walks.
DVDs Watched:
I enjoyed the following: The Sessions, The Letter, Marilyn and Me, Ides of March, Celeste and Jesse, Two days in Paris, Blue Valentine and Barney's version. Bully - a documentary about kids being bullied in Middle America - was well shot but made me cranky and sad. And This is 40 was very ordinary, would not recommend.

The highlight of the month for me was Searching for Sugar Man: If you haven't seen this musical documentary, you simply must! It is about Rodriguez, a South American musician living in the US, he made two albums, toured a little and then disappeared, the story being he committed suicide on on stage. Over the years he got a cult following and in South Africa where he was bigger than Elvis, became a hero to many. The two amazing albums, are now considered classics, his style a slightly more upbeat Bob Dylan. I won't say anymore, though I imagine most now know how the story goes, suffice to say, it is incredibly compelling and touching. If you love great human stories and music, this is the film for you.

And Rockshow: I do not think I can love Paul McCartney any more than I do. I adore The Beatles and he is my favourite. Of course I also love Wings, they are the soundtrack to my childhood. Other kids got to listen to nursery rhymes and the like, me I got Wings and all the other cool 70s music. Rockshow is the re-release of Wings Over America, a triple album of live music recorded over a few shows in 1976. At the time, it was released as a film. I definitely knew the music, but had never seen the full footage. Oh! My! It is remarkable, remember McCartney is only 5 or so years away from The Beatles and really still a kid himself. His voice has never sounded better, he is loving touring with a band of excellent musicians and it is hit after hit after hit, most of which I have not heard in a long, long time. It gets off to a rocking start with the punch of Venus and Mars, Rock Show, Jet and Let Me Roll It! A little further in he does Lady Madonna and The Long and Winding Road and the crowd goes wild. What I love are the faces of the audiences, they are in heaven, it's fabulous! Live and let Die kills, then a little further there's a lovely section of Paul (without the band) singing Bluebird, I've Just Seen a Face, Blackbird and Yesterday. It made the hair stand on the back of my neck and brought tears to my eyes, the audience looked much the same. It moves through oodles more including  My Love, Listen to what the Man Said and Silly Love Songs, before blowing the place up with Band on the Run. It's as perfect a performance as you could ever imagine. I've lent it to my Dad to watch, cause without him I wouldn't love this stuff anyway!
I also watched the following Television:

Breaking Bad S5 - Walt has sunk down the rabbit hole and there is no return for him I suspect and I loved every freaking single minute of it! YEAH BITCH!
Smash S2 - still have a few episodes left. The first season was great, but not popular so they decided to change almost everything about didn't really work. However with a cast of Jack Davenport, Angelica Huston and Debra Messing and fab guest Broadway stars and great music I still watched.
Mr and Mrs Murder - only caught bits on tele, simple husband and wife amateur detectives but it's the pairing of Kat Stewart and Shaun Micalef that make it
Lilyhammer - This is ok, Steve Van Zandt (Sopranos and E Street Band) is a Mafioso sent to Lilihammer on witness protection after dobbing in another. He choose Lillehammer as he thought it looked nice when The Olympics were there. As someone on witness protection he is meant to behave and blend in, two things that are impossible for him. It is a mix of light humour and light drama and the backdrop is magnificent.
Offpsring - This was the season of the looming death, who would it be? I guessed early on it would be Patrick, how could it not be? I think Channel 10 really fucked up in the way they advertised this. It was easily the best season yet of the crazy Houseman family, Kat Stewart's storyline being the most catching. She just kills me, her acting, especially her facial expressions, are second to none. To me, without her, there is no show. I still think killing off anyone was an unnecessary stunt, but am sure single parent Nina will allow for some fabulous screwball comedy. But yes, manipulative as it was, I still cried buckets! Beautifully done.

Broadchurch - this was outstanding television from the Brits. Stunning set and cast with twist and turns and a shocking ending. This could have been a usual predictable UK murder show (yawn) but it was anything but that, each week I held my breath, trying to work out what on earth had happened. Olivia Coleman was brilliant and real, but David Tennant gives good melancholy and his character was a heartbreaking revelation, bravo!
Rockwiz - this is still my favourite show on tv. I think I have missed maybe 2-3 episodes over it's entire run. It's a no brainer, music quiz set in a classic pub with a great band, brilliant guest musical stars, the wonderful Brian Nankervis and the perfect host, Julia Zemiro. Even the audience participation (normally a cringe worthy ingredient to such shows) works perfectly. What a season, culminating in the most perfect finale with Tex Perkins, Don Walker, Charlie Owens and Mia Dyson. Laughs, music, duets and chills.


The Short History of Everything by Bill Bryson - I listened to Bill read his fascinating book on a talking book in the care, well worth a listen!  

After by Morris Gleitzman - this is the 4th installment in this series about a young boy against the backdrop of the holocaust. Gleitzman writes for children beautifully, I have been a fan of his books for many years, he incorporates humour and intelligence with such ease and cleverness, thought this series is low on humour (obviously) it is still a wonderful read. I also had the pleasure of meeting him last year and was pleased to find him as agreeable as his books. He is also married to Mary-Anne Fahey (a children's author herself now) who you might remember as Kylie Mole from the Comedy Company!

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers - this was a re-read for my book club. It's Non Fiction set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina and about one man who makes a difference during the storm, but it all goes pear shaped. Quite a riveting read on the human nature, politics, the US and Katrina.

Mom and me and Mom by Maya Angelou - I have no words to explain how much I adore Maya Angelou. Just read her books and you will understand my love for this amazing woman. This little gem is about her relationship with her mother, and her mother with her. It's a fascinating read, and beautifully constructed. I wish she would release more regularly.

Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey - this is another's children's book, but has a great noir feel and I think a book that appeals to both kids and adults. It's about a young and very sensitive boy, who patrols his street at dusk as a super hero. He just wants to make sure everyone is ok, but when he comes across someone who is not, what will he do? Highly recommend.


Depeche mode - new album, really good

Midnight Oil - as mentioned above

Went a bit old school listening to the newish Led Zep compilation, turned to 11 of course!

Fleetwood Mac had a re-release of Rumours, with various versions of the songs on it, was excellent

And at work I have been listening to a lovely French compilation.


Behind the Candelabra - I had been hanging out for this movie for some years. When I first heard it was cast with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon I was intrigued, I could see it and I was impressed they accepted the challenge. The movie was a load of fun, with some great cameos by Rob Lowe, Dan Ackroyd and Debbie Reynolds. But Douglas and Damon were unashamedly dazzling. Not only in acting but in their costumes. The costumes, and indeed the set, were outstanding, more rhinestones and gold than one could ever imagine. They were brave to take on the roles and should be proud. This is a must see!

Red Obsession - this is a documentary about the high end wine business in the South of France and the obsession of it by those in the East. Narrated by Russell Crowe, this is an eye opener. Beautifully filmed, especially of the properties and vineyards in France, it opens right up how business is done and it's not pretty. If the wine industry interests you or you are a Francophile you will love this, but I think the greed and the business part would be interesting to most people too. Quite shocking to see how a very small percentage live.

And finally, the new Doctor for Doctor Who was announced and I was thrilled.

You can read about it here in an article I wrote for Social/Life Magazine:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

MELBOURNE: Exhibitions and Shows

Melbourne always gets the best exhibitions and this trip was no exception. Four in total and all brilliant in their own way. And then there was King Kong and Oliver Mann’s album launch.

Hollywood Costume

I went along to this exhibit at the ACMI on my first afternoon and was completely blown away. I was not prepared for soooo many pieces. I descended the stairs to a large video screen playing clips of classic movies and to my right noticed Nicole Kidman’s Satine costume from Moulin Rouge atop a swing hanging from the ceiling. In place of a head was a video screen the size of an ipad with an image of her character moving ever so slightly. Each costume throughout the exhibition had the same technology and it added a whole other dimension to the experience.
After some time just taking the entrance area in, I walked to the main part of the hall and my jaw dropped at the array of items packed within the area. I slowly made my way through. Each area had a theme, eg Sci-Fi, Queen Victoria, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, Classic Directors (Hitchcock, Scorsese, Allen etc), remakes, and so on. There were costumes, artefacts, videos, memorabilia, interviews and much more.
Interspersed amongst all this were classic costumes. Scarlett O’Hara’s Green “curtain” dress, Marilyn’s white halter neck dress from The Seven Year Itch, The suits of The Blues Brothers, Dorothy’s gingham dress and ruby shoes, Audrey’s little black dress by Givency from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dude’s Dressing gown from The Big Lebowski! Spiderman was crawling up a wall, Superman flying overhead, I was blown away by the variety.
No photographs were allowed, I was trying to sneak one of The Dude when I noticed a guard coming my way, so I moved on. You just have to believe me in how spectacular and voluminous it was.
I also went into ACMI’s regular exhibit of Multi-media and a special exhibit about Shaun Tan’s Lost Thing. Both also excellent.

Australian Impressionists in France
Later the same afternoon I went to the Ian Potter Centre. This is part of the NGV but situated in Federation Square, opposite ACMI, and dedicated to Australian Art. This exhibition was lovely with a range of remarkable Australian artists painting in France during the Impressionism period, also featured some other French Impressionists.

As much as I loved this, being quite the ‘fan’ of Impressionism, I expected more. Still it was certainly worth seeing. The actual collection in the gallery is also worth seeing, so I had a lovely wander through also. There are some interesting pieces within the building, corridors etc that I managed to sneak some pics of. Also great views over the Yarra, and through to the MCG from the building itself.

Monet’s Garden

This was the main reason for travelling to Melbourne for this trip. After visiting Giverny last year in Europe, you might wonder why I would bother. For me Monet was my first introduction to art. As a young girl I saw his lovely lilac lily swirls and was totally and utterly in love...what girl wouldn’t be?
Over the years my art education has come from books and museums and is driven by beauty and aesthetics and I probably appreciate and love other artists more but will always come back to Monet.
So I can’t get enough, and despite seeing many, many pieces at The Musee D’Orsay, L’Orangerie, and Giverny itself, I knew most of the paintings in this collection came from another museum in Paris I didn’t get to visit.
When I got to the Gallery a little before opening on that cold Monday morning, I joined a small queue. The push across the foyer to the paying line after opening was astonishing, with elderly men being the most obnoxious in terms of rudeness and actual physical pushing!
The first room was really full, something I find annoying. However, I am a seasoned exhibit viewer. Most exhibits are chronological, with the first room being lesser works, and this was no exception. A quick zip round, got me through the room and past everyone; also being knowledgeable of the artist means you don’t need to read everything which can slow you down. This means you can get ahead of the crowd and enjoy the art as a leisurely pace without annoying tourists getting in your face!
There were many paintings that were familiar to me from books, but many, many I had never seen, including some less ‘impressionistic’ ones, using stronger colours and lesser imagery. I was quite drawn to them. There really is nothing like seeing something new for the first time and just sucking it all in, unable to move, and everything around you disappearing.
The second to last room had some interactive bits and pieces, taken up mostly by families, so I moved through to the last room with a lovely oval screen and a sweet little movie about Monet and Giverny with footage from the place I had visited not even a year ago. I stayed in the dark room for two viewings and got a little teary seeing a place I fell in love with so much, right there on the screen. The inspiration at Giverny is remarkable.
After that I took a quick tour of the NGV to see some of my favourite pieces, including Picasso’s Weeping Woman. I cannot visit without viewing that at the very least. NGV’s collection is remarkable, a great collection of international art, thanks mostly to the Felton Bequest.

Alfred Felton, a hero of mine, was an Englishman who came to Australia in search of gold. He was an importer and in time, a druggist for Chemists. He collected art and lived in the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda! He never married and gave away a lot of his money to charities. When he passed in 1904, he left half his money to his charities, and the other half and his collection of art to the NGV. The money was about $35 million by todays standards and continues to help grow the collection.
The Extraordinary Shapes of Geoffrey Rush
This fabulous exhibit was not as well promoted as the other three and I very nearly missed it! Best of all it is free.
It is at the Arts Centre (next to the Art Gallery) and on until 27 October so I highly recommend checking it out if you are in Melbourne.

It was full of costumes from some of his movies AND plays, Shakespeare in Love, Pirates of the Caribbean, Exit the King, The Importance of being Ernest and, my personal favourite, Quills, amongst many others. The costumes were a delight to look at, but there was also memorabilia, photos, videos and all sorts of extraordinary bits and pieces.

Hand written notes for characters, photos from his younger theatre career, the video of Cate Blanchett and him ‘doing’ Margaret and David, so much is such a varied and illustrious career.

It was a visual feast!
And then there was the piano...
With The Oscar, The Emmy, and The Tony sitting on it side by side.
I nearly died!!!!
I went away with a greater love of an actor I already worshipped, the man can pull anything off!!

King Kong: the musical
The other reason for being in Melbourne was to see King Kong: the musical! I love the 30s movie and the remakes aren’t bad either and I was curious to see what they would do with it on stage. To be honest I thought it would probably be a so bad it was good kind of thing, but how wrong I was.
It was remarkable, easily the best musical I have seen in Australia. It is at The Regent Theatre on Collins Street, a theatre I have never been to before and it is a beauty! I scored an excellent seat, being just me, upstairs, front row to the left.

There was nothing to fault, the acting was great, the staging beyond perfection and then there was Kong!
The staging was remarkable, lots of movement physically of the stage, fabulous lighting, lighting and sound effects. The early scenes depicted 20s Broadway with lots of musical stage numbers, colour, costume and toe taping tunes, as you would imagine 20s Broadway would be. The boat expedition to The Island was also great, with the stage transforming in to a boat. To be seen to be believed. Also the effects upon arriving at the island were brilliant and haunting and rather real.
The anticipation of Kong kept you wanting, which was just perfect. He was a huge puppet, steered by ninja puppeteers leaping around the stage. This sounds distracting but it was anything but, it added to the excitement.
I really don’t want to give much more away, as it really is something to be seen, and is still on in Melbourne, unsure if it will come to Sydney, the staging is specific. But if it does, do not hesitate, you must see it...or you know, pop down to Melbourne!

Oliver Mann Album Launch
I love the unexpected and Sunday turned out to be that. My friend, M, collected me for Brunch with S in Northcote, and afterwards we headed to the Northcote Social Club for Oliver Mann’s album launch.
M, a fellow Librarian, was introduced to me by our mutual friend A via Twitter, so we had not met until I arrived in Melbourne. Of course we had been chatting for ages online, but it’s always lovely to meet tweeps in real life – they never disappoint, and M was no exception there. After a quick meeting on my first afternoon there, outside the City Library no less, we arranged to meet on the Sunday.
Oliver Mann used to work at the St Kilda Library and is an amazing musician. His voice has incredible range and his style is guitar/singer, sort of folk spliced with Opera but a modern feel. His support act, another guitar/singer works at the local Northcote Library. And people think Libraries are daggy!!!
The Northcote Social was a great venue for this intimate gathering of hipsters. The range of ages was large and the vibe friendly and relaxed. We had some wine and enjoyed the sets.
Oliver was incredible, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Melbourne. I bought his album and have been enjoying it since returning. His songs not only sound divine, but the stories he tells through his music are fascinating.
Many thanks to M and S for their welcoming hospitality that day, their kindness was much appreciated.


Monday, September 23, 2013

MELBOURNE: Eating and Shopping

What I love about Melbourne is how laid back everyone is, most shops don’t open until 10am and it has a real European feel to the city. You can get food anywhere at any time. Most of the laneways come alive after dark with pop up cafes and restaurants, and then there are the regular ones that are always open. And of course the famous streets like Lygon Street or Fitzroy streets where the restaurants are never ending. I spent a fortnight in St Kilda once, eating my way through Fitzroy Street, and didn’t even tip the surface!

This trip because I was by myself and it was winter and a bit cold out, I tended to eat in cafes for lunch and grab takeaway for dinner. There was a fabulous Chinese place, North East China Family, specialising in dumplings around the corner from my apartment at 302 Flinders Lane. From observations, service left a lot to be desired, but the food was amazing, so takeaway is probably a better option! A really great Thai, Ratee Thai, in Port Phillip Arcade opposite Flinders Street Station. Great service, exceptional food, very busy, but they close at 7pm.
I also went to the Queen Victoria markets and bought food to cook, reheat. I bought the most amazing butter chicken pie and teamed it with Lord of the Fries fries topped with Indian style Mango topping. Lord of the Fries is a franchise that is everywhere in Melbourne and I love them! You can buy varying sizes with varying toppings. They also do burgers etc, though I usually only get fries. Another franchise I tried out whilst there was Pie Face. I had one of their egg and bacon pies and was sold. I am not normally a huge franchise fan, but these two are quite good.
Queen Victoria Markets are a favourite place of mine, not so much the wares, but the food. It is always busy and always full of more than you could ever purchase or stomach! There are all the fruit and vege stalls, with seemingly something different at every stall. The fish and meat sections are a blast, very loud with everyone competing with each other to outsell. Then there are cheeses, olives, and stalls from every nationality. Lots fresh and ready to eat, lots to take home for later. There is an amazing cake and bread stall on the corner as you enter from Therry Street (just off Elizabeth), their Macaroons are to die for and that is where I got the Butter Chicken Pie from too.
On my last visit there I was looking for breakfast and had for the first time ever, Dutch pancakes. I had a choice of toppings, but went with lemon butter and was asked if I wanted cream with that, of course I said yes. The pancakes were divine, cooked in the lemon butter, so it is crunchy on one side of the pancake and the cream – proper thick dairy farm cream from Tassie was unlike anything I have ever tasted. Every time I think of it I salivate and have never, ever had cream like it since. These were top of my list as I headed to the market. There were every bit as good as last time – you purchase them from the little Italian cafe in the food court area. The Italian always looks good, but I can’t go by those pancakes!
I escaped one windy day and had a late lunch at Chocolateria San Churro near the State Library, on the corner of Little Lonsdale and Swanston. I love hanging out near The State Library as there is always something to see, but this day was way too windy and I was hungry. So I got a window table overlooking the Library front lawn and over indulged in Spanish Churros with a chocolate dipping sauce, ice cream and strawberries and an Iced Chocolate. Good thing I had walked heaps and it was a decent walk back to the apartment that day!
Lunch the following day was a bit more refined. I took time to relax with a late lunch, after a heavy morning of shopping, at Caboose Canteen in City Square Park, Swanston Street. It was drizzly, but warm, so I ate outside but undercover. It was quiet but much to see and the service excellent. Their specialty is Steak Frites and of course I had to have that. It was outstanding.
My friend, M, introduced me to Brioche, on Queen Street. It’s Melbourne’s best sour dough bakery, and the Raspberry Brioche I had for brunch was indeed outstanding! I also had brunch on another day with M and S, at a very hipsterish cafe on High Street in Northcote called Gypsy Hideout. An amazing array of breakies to choose from, I had eggs and chorizo on Sourdough, rather spicy but delicious!
I’m not a fan of shopping, can’t stand shopping centre and can think of nothing worse than an hour of shopping, let alone a day. It’s mostly as the kind of things I would like to buy just doesn’t seem to exist in this cookie cutter world of crapola! And also I find it a vacuous waste of time when I could be reading, or taking photos or watching a film or doing something interesting.
But I do need to purchase things and sometimes need to shop.
In Melbourne I find I actually enjoy the experience. There seems to be superior shops and a better way of shopping. I adore the laneways for that, it feels like you are exploring the city and yet finding gems to buy on the way.
Even so, I usually don’t spend that much time shopping in Melbourne. However, this time I outdid myself. Mostly as I was after a few things, specifically new red shoes, so I did cover a lot of ground shopping wise!
I rarely leave Melbourne without something from Quick Brown Fox, mostly accessories and some clothes, they have always had great shoes. They are in Sydney also, but I rarely get there anymore. There is one just near the entrance to Degreaves and I bought a great pair of green flats, so soft and comfy with little holes cut out of them, I wish I had bought a pair in every colour (except the yellow, don’t do yellow!).
I got some very lovely reddish sunnies at a newish French store, with a range of accessories from exy to reasonably priced. It was in one of the laneways, but I cannot remember where, it was teeny and the lady who I chatted to delightful. She imports most of the items from France.
I went a little mad on scarves, buying some from the Markets, Target (even Target in Melbourne is better than ours!) and St Kilda.
Acland Street, St Kilda is a great little place to shop. Boutiques, bookstores, cafes and the world famous Cake Stores!!!! I bought some earrings and a brooch and Rose Garden at the Walk. It’s another favourite that entices me every time. Claude Dalbarn I adore. My fabulous cherry red wallet was a sale purchase there about 4 years ago. This time I got a classic black crocheted poncho and some scarves. Readings bookstore also packed with a zillion books I want to read.
Acland Street is also full of cafes and restaurants, it’s a short walk to Luna Park and just beyond that the famous St Kilda pier, walk back along the water front past the classic Espy Hotel (home of RocKwiz) and back up Fitzroy Street for more shops and restaurants that you would need months to work through.
This visit I had caught the tram from Federation Square and got off on Fitzroy Street and cut through the back way directly along Acland Street, a bitterly cold day so not diverting to the pier.
But really it’s the cakes that you go to Acland Street for, I can’t go past the Strawberry tart and the Chocolate cream filled brandy snaps!

Another favourite shop is Minotaur Books, on Elizabeth Street. It is a nerd and geeks mecca. Filled with books and graphic novels dedicated to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Popular Culture, and littered with dolls, toys and memorabilia. You can walk in during the day, and walk out and it’s dark, and not realise so many hours have passed. The crew there really know their stuff and are great to listen as they chatter amongst themselves. I bought a moving Tardis this time, and some great Star Wars pieces for my sister’s birthday, including Lightsabre Chop Sticks!

I ended up with two pairs of red shoes, a funky casual pair in red patent from a shop in Australia on Collins and a really classic cherry red wedge reduced down at Myers.
But really, if you want good shopping, just stick to the laneways and back alleys, you’ll always find something.
But then of course, there's always Tiffany!