Sunday, December 23, 2007

St. Kilda Esplanade

Today Missy and I took the tram to St. Kilda to wander around. Our first stop was to look in the windows of the cake shops on Acland Street. From there we walked to Luna Park so Missy could get photos of the entrance and then we headed to the stalls of the Sunday Esplanade Market. There were quite a few vendors there who were also at the Night Market on Wednesday. Unfortunately for Missy, the one vendor she wanted to buy from who had paper-mache ornaments was not there. For lunch we walked down the pier to the kiosk, where we had toasted sandwiches and hot chocolate. A brief rain shower passed over while we were eating, but the weather was calm again when we headed back towards the beach.

Once we were back in the city we stopped at a few shops so Missy could buy some souvenirs and gifts to take home. She headed back out to Brunswick Street for more shopping while I headed home so I could get some groceries and food for dinner. It has been great to have Missy here for a visit and I think she has enjoyed her stay in Australia. Tomorrow she flies back to LA, just in time for Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yarra Valley Wine Tour

Missy and I were up bright and early this morning to meet up with our van for a wine tour of the Yarra Valley. Our tour guide was Cameron from the Australian Wine Tour Company and he gave us amusing commentary as we made the hour drive to the Yarra Valley from Melbourne. Our first stop was Yering Station, where we had our first taste of wine at 10:45 am! Missy and I sampled probably half of the wines available for tasting. After checking out their gift shop we went for a wander around the lush grounds and took pictures.

Our next stop was Rochford Wines. We went to their tasting room first, where we got to sample more wine as well as hear about the Day on the Green concerts they hold at the winery. After our tasting we went into their large dining area and sat at a table by the fireplace for our gourmet lunch. Both Missy and I had the grilled tuna with Asian greens, which was yummy. We also got a full glass of wine with lunch, and it was funny to see how most of the group were barely touching it. After lunch we checked out the grounds before heading back onto the van.

Yering Farm was the smallest vineyard we visited. Their tasting room is a former hay shed and they joked about the fact that the rust was authentic. Their wines are more boutique and aged longer than most other places. We were able to taste wines from their different ranges, which were all good. While we were there the skies opened up and it just poured rain. Thankfully it stopped as we went to leave.

The last place we visited was Domaine Chandon, the complete antithesis of Yering Farm. Our guide Cameron gave us a tour of the winery and cellars, explaining the different steps taken to make the sparkling wine along the way. We then went to their huge tasting room and had a glass of the sparkling wine of our choice, along with some cheese and crackers. Missy went for the red sparkling wine while I stuck with the classic dry. As the rain began to fall again we all headed back to the van for the drive back to Melbourne. The tour was really good and I highly recommend it if you are ever in town.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Evening Adventures

My cousin Missy has come to stay with me for a week, so we have been out having fun around town. On Tuesday night we headed down to the Corner Hotel in Richmond to see Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set in concert. The first opening act was Whitley who was drunk or on something because he didn't make much sense when talking. We thought shoegazer music was over, but he is bringing it back. He even did an emo version of Bjork's "Hyper-Ballad." The real stars of the night were Little Red, who played a very energetic set on the smaller second stage, including my favorite song of theirs, "Misty I." Missy was impressed and deemed them a band to watch. We stayed for most of Clare Bowditch's set but left around 11 pm as it was hot in the venue and we were both tired.

On Wednesday we were joined by Belinda and went to the Night Market at the Queen Victoria Market. It was another hot evening, but we checked out all the various booths and sampled the food. We had gozleme first and then the honey dumplings with chocolate and ice cream. While wandering around we even ran into Michelle and Ruth.

Tonight Missy met me at work and we headed across the road to The Commune for dinner and jazz, which is a regular Thursday night event. Mel had reserved a table, and it was good to see both Carlene, who is teaching at the Victorian International School of Sharjah, and Marg, who is doing teacher coaching at schools in New York. They were both back in Melbourne for the holidays. The jazz music was good (they played some Jobim) and my dish of pad thai was yummy. Missy and I had a delay of 20 minutes at the train station because of all the thunderstorms, but we managed to make it home safe and dry.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Party Season

It's that time of year when you can't escape attending a bunch of parties. On Friday we had our Department Christmas party at work. By 2:30 pm most people were outside in the Printer's Court vying for shade and a cool drink. It was a very hot day so I only lasted an hour and a half before heading home.

On Saturday Michelle held her 30th birthday party at the Fitzroy Victoria Bowling and Sports Club. After eating a barbeque dinner we headed out to the greens to commence lawn bowling. By the end of the night my bowling had improved significantly. Michelle had four flavors of cupcakes for us to eat for dessert. It was a fun night and good to catch up with everyone.

Today I headed up to Kalorama for Peter and Mark's Christmas party. Rosemaree was kind enough to give me a ride. The boys have purchased more art since I was last up there, so we had a bit of an art walk around the house. Lunch was good but we had so much food to eat I was bursting by the end of it. I got a nice picture frame from Rosemaree and this beautiful bronze statuette with mirror from Peter and Mark. Overall it was a very busy weekend but nice to spend time with people I haven't seen in a while.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bit By Bats- R.I.P.

I just found out that Melbourne band Bit By Bats have called it a day. It's sad when a talented Aussie band decides to break up. I first saw them on the Live and Local stage at Big Day Out in 2006. Unfortunately I never made it to any of their live shows around town (let this be a lesson to us all- go out and support your favorite bands). I really liked their debut CD "Go Go Go!" and I'm just bummed that there won't be any more music. Here are a couple of their video clips:

All Night

One Six One

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Age EG Awards

Last night Belinda and I headed down to the Prince Bandroom in St. Kilda for the The Age EG Awards. The evening was MC'ed by actor Angus Sampson and featured a wide variety of Melbourne artists. We missed a majority of the awards because we were eating dinner and didn't get there until an hour after it started. We did see Kim Salmon get inducted into the EG Hall of Fame and a two song acoustic performance by Nic Cester of Jet.

However, the main reason I wanted to attend was to see The Living End play their only concert of this year. The boys are currently recording a new album, but even though they've been in the studio they played an excellent set. The set list:
- Roll On
- We Want More
- I Can't Give You What I Haven't Got
- What's On Your Radio
- One Step Behind
- Uncle Harry
- How Do We Know
- Second Solution
- E-Boogie
- Raise The Alarm
- Who's Gonna Save Us
- Carry Me Home
- Long Tall Sally (with Nic Cester)
- West End Riot

It was a fast paced hour-plus performance. We had the perfect spot to watch the show off to the side and up on a platform. The horn section from Hunters and Collectors came out to play on "One Step Behind" and a raucous version of "Uncle Harry." We were also treated to two new songs: "How Do We Know" and "Raise The Alarm." The new material sounded like dirty rock and was a throw back to their earlier material, but with less rockabilly. It will be interesting to see what the album ends up sounding like. I personally hope that they keep on the same path of growth that they showed on the last album "State of Emergency." In the encore Nic Cester came out and sang "Long Tall Sally" with the band and the night finished with an energetic sing along of "West End Riot."
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