Melbourne – Yarraville and Williamstown by train boat and plane

One of our days out while in Melbourne was a trip to Yarraville and Williamstown. The people we were house and dog sitting for had driven us out there and we were quite taken by the quirkyness of these two suburbs so decided to revisit them.

Flinders StreetNot brave enough to drive there (Melbourne drivers are scary and there are Hook Turns to scare you even more) we jumped on the train at Flinders Street. Got totally confused and went round in a loop to get off at Southern Cross.The wedding party

Across the platform I captured this group of people, and guessed they were off to a wedding.

As we got off the train in Yarraville we saw this.Birmingham Street

Our home town in England is Birmingham. And how cute, they have this at the station. Something we need to have at all stations, I think.Kiss and Ride

We had a stroll around the area and were quite convinced we could live here. That said up until then we were pretty sure we wanted to live in St Kilda. Time seems to have stood still in Yarraville and I would think it is a popular suburb for young families and commuters. The Sun TheatreThe Sun Theatre opened in 1938. It is a beautiful building and another reason to live in Yarraville. They even used to have baby room, so you could leave you baby while you watched a film. Given my experiences where parents take children far to young to see some films (see A guide to cinema etiquette) I think we need to introduce a crèche in cinemas in England today.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The railway goes right across th main street and I love these crossing so yes, going to share. The town goes at a slower pace than most of the other suburbs we visited in Melbourne. No one was in a rush to do anything.

No standing

We jumped back on the train to Williamstown and saw this. Tempted to sit down imediately, it was getting very hot by then.

Drinking fountain Williamstown

Wilkinson Memorial Drinking Fountain 1875 Williamstown

This came in handy.

As did the ice cream.  There were so many to choose from. There were lots of ice cream shops in Williamstown.

We then decided that we may like to live in Williamstown. It had beaches and good places to eat, and we could commute like this.Sea Plane

Or like this.Wiliamstown Melbourne Ferry

 

With views like this.Melbourne skyline

We caught the ferry back and got chatting to a man on the boat who had moved from Sydney to Melbourne. After a long discussion about politics and advice as to where to get the best pies in Sydney, he then told us about the bridges we were travelling under. One not very pleasant story about this bridge (which I won’t share). 

And a funny story about this one.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Apparently the concrete columns were put there to make people feel more confident using the bridge. Travelling on the bridge you would think they were supporting the bridge yet from the sea, you can see that they are not attached. Not my story his. Just telling it.

If you are going to Melbourne I would thoroughly recommend you visit both Yarraville and Williamstown. After the bustle and hustle of the busy city,mad drivers, trams and traffic jams, these are places to come to slow down and relax.

And get the ferry back as this is your welcome back to the city.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We ended the day at the Young and Jackson, dining with Chloe and people watching from the window.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I love Melbourne.

Advertisements

Melbourne for Free Part 2

We found Australia a very expensive country to visit. I posted while we were in Melbourne on our quest to find things that were free in Melbourne, here. We were house and dog sitting in Melbourne so our accommodation was free which saved us lots of money. Food and the cost of transport using Myki (think Oyster but complicated and expensive) really took a chunk out of our budget. We wanted to make the most of our time there, yet we needed to find free things to do and see. Fortunately my old uni friend, whose house and dogs we ‘sat’ for a month in Melbourne advised us to bring our National Trust card with us as we could use it in Australia.

And this is where we visited.

The Old Melbourne Gaol

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

This would have normally cost $25 per adult if not for our trusty National Trust Card.

To visit the Gaol you need to book a timed tour. This is no ordinary tour as there is a lot of role play. We were taken into the police station, assigned names and had our charges read out to us. The police officer then accompanies you to the cells and divided up the men and women and then locked us up in separate cells. Even though you knew it was  all part of the ‘experience’ and fully participated in this, it was still very unnerving. I was glad to hear the key turning in the lock to set us free.

The most famous prisoner here was Ned Kelly who was hanged there in 1880. After the tour you are able to explore the rest of the gaol, and learn more about some of the prisoners held there. There are some very sad stories. While highly recommended, a visit to the Gaol comes with a health warning; you will probably leave with low spirits. I recommend that you line something up afterwards that is outside and cheers you up such as …

Polly Woodside

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you enter the visitor centre you are assigned a role and then treated accordingly on the guided tour. We were the only ones on our tour, the upside was we got the guide to ourselves, the downside was that some of the role play was impossible with only two of us. This wasn’t the only time when visiting attractions that we had a guide to ourselves visiting Melbourne attractions. The Polly Woodside was built in Belfast and was sold to the National Trust for one cent in 1968. Great for families, children, big kids and history buffs alike. A good place to visit after the Gaol as it is in the open air and fun, and you can purchase a combined ticket with the Gaol for $30.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once more this is by guided tour only and according tp the web site:-

Como is not open to walk up visitors in the short term however, the site will continue to be available for bookings covering group tours of 10 or more people (a minimum of 20 people on weekends), as well as events and private functions.

We were lucky as we turned up on spec and joined the a small guided tour of just four. The house and gardens are beautiful, a real insight to how the privileged lifestyles of the rich. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, it is a shame that they have limited opening now.

Rippon Lea House and Garden

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our tour guide informed us that the family that built this house had made its fortune in Manchester. As there were only two of us on the tour (do you see a pattern emerging here?) I gently pointed out that most, if not all Brits, would think she was talking about the city in England. The guide was surprised to learn that it is only in Australia and New Zealand that bed linen and towels are referred to as ‘manchester’.

IMG_6318

Once we had cleared that little misunderstanding up, she went on to tell us that this house, amongst others mentioned in this post, had recently been used as a film set for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Labassa

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Labassa was closed when we visited. It was within walking distance of where we were staying, and is surrounded by residential properties.We did manage to get a few photos of the interiors. Stunning house and disappointed that we were unable to go inside.

Use them or lose them Melbourne folks

What struck me was how few visitors most of these really interesting places were getting. By far the most popular was Melbourne Old Gaol. At most of the other places we were often the only ones there. Why is this? Was it the time of year, mid December, just before the school holidays? Do visitors to the area not know or are not interested in this part of Australian history? In the UK most National Trust properties are full of visitors. There has to be timed entrances due to the volume of visitors. Yet these beautiful properties are struggling to remain open due to lack of visits.

The guides at Como and Rippon Lea were baffled, as to why people from England were interested in these houses, when we had much older and grander properties to visit in the UK. We explained that we knew very little about the history of Australia, I frankly had no idea that we would find properties to visit like this. My limited knowledge of Australia was that it was hot, had kangaroos, spiders that would kill me and sharks that would kill me. And what I had seen in Neighbours and Home and Away. I thought everyone would have swimming pools and that most people living there were descendents of criminals or £10 Poms. OK I may be over exaggerating just a bit, yet Australia was full of surprises for me, (rain, cold, bad tv, heritage properties) despite reading Down Under by Bill Bryson who writes:

‘It was as if I had privately discovered life on another planet, or a parallel universe where life was at once recognizably similar but entirely different. I can’t tell you how exciting it was. Insofar as I had accumulated my expectations of Australia at all in the intervening years, I had thought of it as a kind of alternative southern California, a place of constant sunshine and the cheerful vapidity of a beach lifestyle, but with a slightly British bent – a sort of Baywatch with cricket . . . ‘

Yes, he loves Australia as much as I do. The rich culture, the amazing food, the skyscrapers in the CBD and these beautiful properties to visit, all knocked me for six. I cannot wait to get back there and spend some more time in this beautiful country.

Have you been to or live in Melbourne? What would you recommend to a visitor?

And if you live in or are visiting Victoria, go visit these properties, while you can.

Melbourne Memories -St Kilda

The far sickness has kicked in big time today. I think it is because I have committed myself to a paid job, which means that the travelling plans are truly on the back burner. But that’s another post for another day….

Time to revisit some memories of a very happy time in Melbourne. IMG_4658

We loved St Kilda. We were there every week as we were volunteering at Lentil as Anything.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After our shift we usually had a wander around. There was always something to see.IMG_4673

We loved this community garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And the cakes.IMG_4657

And the record shop.IMG_4662

And of course Lunar Park.IMG_5967IMG_4738

Hope to see you soon St Kilda.IMG_4787

Melbourne for free

travellingcoral

As part of our round the world trip, we are house and dog sitting in Melbourne. After being on the road for a month and a bit, having a comfortable bed, our own shower room and a kitchen is fantastic. Beats a camper can, hands down.

We are very lucky to have essentially free accommodation for six weeks, which is a bonus. Another bonus is we get to live like Melburnians not tourists. Well mostly!

Other bits of this trip are going to take serious chunks out of our travel budget, so we are more than happy to look after a house and the dogs and be able to explore this great city, which is consistently voted one of the best place to live in the world.

What I hadn’t reckoned on was how big the place is. And that it’s divided up into mini towns, all so very different…

View original post 332 more words

Still travelling

I started this blog to document my round the world trip with my husband. That was October 2011 and now we have been back in our home in Birmingham England, since February 2012.

So I have been back longer than I was away, yet my blog is still called travellingcoral and so it will continue to be. I was a traveller before my blog and I continue to travel. I may not be flying thousands of miles and living out of a back pack, yet I am still travelling. I carry my camera everywhere and look at my own country, my town, my city, as a traveller does. I have become a tourist in my own country. I see England and the UK differently now. And this is why.

When we were in Melbourne last year we met a man called Rob in Federation Square. He was in in 70’s and we got chatting as we sat on the deckchairs there. He gave us lots of tips about what to do and see in Melbourne. He told us of his work back in the 60’s and filled us in about the history of Melbourne. He was so proud of his English Heritage and of Melbourne. By coincidence we met him again the following day in the Botanic Gardens.

Now that place is huge, and the chance of bumping into someone are slim. We were meant to meet him I am sure of that. He then offered to give us a guided walk of the gardens and surrounding areas, which we were happy to do. Again his pride of Melbourne was impressive, sharing his knowledge of the history of the city and the country with us gave him joy. It was a brilliant day.

I struck me then that most Brits don’t seem proud of their heritage, are not very knowledgeable about the history of where they live, and are more likely to criticise the country rather than big it up. Rob wasn’t the first person we met who wanted to show off their city. Tim and Jo Anne who we met in Northland invited us to stay at their home in Wellington and took us to The Roxy Cinema after dinner at Coco’s. The next day they took us on the cable car to the Botanic Gardens. Tim also gave us an insiders tour of WETA.

Barb and Pete who we met in Haverstock took us to see our first Kangaroo in the suburbs of Lysterfield, Melbourne, picked us up to go to the Victoria Markets and invited us to share Christmas Day with their family.

Since I have been home I have revisited Weston, Stratford upon Avon, The Cotswolds, Winchester, Brecon and Hay on Wye. The family visited Sarehole Mill during the Tolkien weekend. I visited my daughter in London and went to a concert in Hyde Park.  I have started a list of places I have never visited in my own city including the Barber Institute. I visited the Love and Death exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which also has the Staffordshire Hoard.

English: The Round Room at Birmingham Museum &...

English: The Round Room at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Source – FlickR (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever possible I big up Birmingham  I met a family at a food festival in Birmingham who were here for the World BMX Championships They were really impressed with how beautiful the city is. And it is! They admitted that they had thought Birmingham was a grey and dirty city that they bypassed on the M6 to get to Manchester or the Lake District. When I told them that Birmingham hosted the biggest Christmas Market outside of Germany the mom was immediately making plans for her friends Christmas shopping trip. To Birmingham.

So I am still travelling….. are you?

Go travelling. While you can.

DSCF2609I have been putting off writing this for days, weeks even as every time  I think about it I find myself getting tearful. Yet I need to do it. While I can.

Last year I made a major decision to go travelling. I have wanted to visit New Zealand for longer than I can remember. I had an old uni friend in Melbourne who I wanted to visit and wanted to see some kangaroos and koalas and Sydney Harbour.  My husband has always wanted to visit California and drive the Big Sur and slowly we built  a bucket list  round the world itinerary.

And we knew we had to do it sooner than later as we both had 79 year old moms who had had a few health scares. It was agreed that our children would update their grandmothers on our progress as we intended only to keep in touch on line. No phone calls. No post cards.

Despite having failing eyesight my mom was at the time relatively digitally engaged. She was on Facebook and used email regularly to keep in touch with friends she had made around the world on her own travels. So that she could still use her computer she had invested in all sorts of gadgets and software.

The mom in law, on the other hand thinks computers are the work of the devil. She also thought going off round the world at our age was a teeny bit selfish. It wasn’t. It was very selfish of us. That was the point. After 30 years of doing jobs that sometimes we loved, often hated, a combination of at least 7 redundancies between us (we stopped counting) living below the line when on benefits and bringing up two children, we decided that it was time to do something just for us. While we can.

So here’s the thing. If we had put off travelling when we did, because of all the excuses we had made for the past 26 years we may never have gone. So many travel bloggers say don’t put it off, because you have kids, you have a house, you have a good job, you don’t have a job, you are scared, you have a boy or girl friend who doesn’t want you to go, it’s not the right time, and they are right, none of these are good enough reasons not to go.

In July 2011 I was offered another 6 to 9 months contract in my job. If I had accepted I would have been unhappier than I could imagine, doing a job I no longer loved. I had achieved everything I had set out to do and needed a new challenge. I begged to be made redundant. I told my stunned boss that there was a plane ticket with my name on it and now was the time to use it.

The day I accepted my severance package everything else fell into place. The Melbourne visit became a house sit for 6 weeks, we found perfect tenants for the house, and the airfares were exactly the same amount as the enhanced part of my redundancy pay. So we booked our flights and did it, while we could.

Mom was delighted when I told her we were going. And actually she is the only person who, on our return, was genuinely interested in where we had been and what we had done.

In the past 3 months my mom has become more or less housebound as she has to have oxygen 24/7, can barely walk across a room without becoming breathless, has to have  a carer come in to get her out of bed and wash her and has had a stair lift installed. I could not go off on a 5 month round the world trip now as I want to be near to my mom. Having a mom who is blind and wheelchair bound, is a reason not to go. Mom doesn’t want to be a virtual prisoner in her home she wants to be boarding a plane to go somewhere warm to escape the cold and rain in England. She wants to be in Luxor or Bangkok or Singapore or… well anywhere but home.  But that is unlikely to happen. So what she talks of now is a short stay in Switzerland.

So do it while you can.

This is my mom. As I know her. Not the frail woman I hardly recognise. Thank you mom for giving me the travel bug.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

#indielove

Today, because it was raining and the thought of being alone in a cold house all day, I decided to try out a couple of coffee shops that my friends rave about. I got into coffee in a big way in Melbourne and one place I visited set the bar very high so I can be um, hypercritical, and this was Mart130. Another place I love for brunch, not as faraway as Melbourne is Pinky Murphy’s in Fowey. Still not somewhere I can just pop out to though.

First stop was Yorks Bakery and Cafe. I have been there before so it’s not new to me. It is very New York lofty industrial style and the bread they bake there is truly wonderful. It was just gone 11.30 and they were winding up breakfast, so on the suggestion of the barista (who I think used to work at SixEight) I had a pulled pork roll with my small latte. Just under £8 is isn’t cheap but then I did stay there until 1.00. Also it was very cold in there, and I’m usually hot everywhere I go, so I was sitting near the door on one of the wettest Mondays that has caused flooding and train cancellations country wide. I could have moved seats I guess. I wish they did an all day brunch. The barista thinks so too!

Lots of suits in there over lunch time and I’ve been so out of the smart clothes loop, I’d forgotten that people wear ties to work and so many women in boring black suits. Shudder. No, I cannot go back to the corporate life. So seeking somewhere more me and wanting tea I went in search of Brewsmiths which claims it’s in the JQ. It is under a railway arch and I have to say while so less über cool than Yorks, I like it. I had my own armchair and coffee table, and tea and a bacon butty cost £3.20 which is a bargain. It’s cozy. It has bunting, books, magazines and music I like. I could move in.

The downside is that to get there from Snow Hill you have to go through an underpass. And they scare me. I had to use this one every day when I worked in Cornwall Street and there was a resident tramp, which bizarrely made me feel safe. He’s not there anymore.

Anyway. Another indie I have visited. If I lived or worked nearby I would come more often. So it’s back to Bearwood with frankly its poor choice of coffee shops with wifi and atmosphere. Sigh!

Far sickness part two and why some things in Bearwood are less than awesome

Bearwood Interchange

Bearwood Interchange (Photo credit: tim ellis)

I chose to live in Bearwood because almost everything I needed was in walking distance including schools, a range of shops, green space, a library and a swimming pool. When I moved here about 25 years ago I could buy lovely bread from The Old Bakery, get almost every type of fruit and vegetable from Mike Drapers and meat from a number of butchers. We had a book shop, a music shop, a toy shop, a post office. Now most of them have gone. Slowly Bearwood is changing. Our high street like many others across the country is dominated by pawnbrokers, multiples, fast food and charity shops. And empty shops.

And I hardly noticed that this was happening.

Three things made me realise how bad it really was.

  1. I went around the world.
  2. I took part in the 4am project.
  3. I got involved with the Portas Pilot bid.

I had enjoyed vibrant neighbourhoods in Melbourne such as Brunswick, Armadale and in St Kilda I volunteered for Lentil as Anything. I visited fantastic markets with an amazing range of produce. Bearwood is closer to Birmingham than most of these Melbourne suburbs are to the CBD and equally well served by public transport, yet they each seem to be able to support a thriving and unique high street. They were social spaces where people met, worked and shopped.

I photographed Bearwood at 4 am and the bleakness of the high street at that time shocked me. Litter from the fast food outlets, lights flickering in empty shops and battered litter bins. This is Bearwood.

The Portas Pilot bid was an opportunity to transform the high street into one that reflected the community that lived in Bearwood. The vibrant, musical community who organise brilliant concerts in Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods. The crafty community who transform a church hall into a bunting strewn lively craft fair. A community that makes Bearwood a destination. A community full of hope and optimism.

And that was reflected in The Bearwood Blog post Has West Norwood got it right?

Yet somewhere along the line it has all gone horribly wrong. There is now a community hiding behind keyboards, determined to jump on any suggestion of an independent coffee shop where home workers could network. A community that believes that artisan bread and organic produce is not wanted ’round here’. A community that believes farmers market are a threat, not an opportunity. A community that doesn’t seem to want change. A community who wants it like it was when they were children back in the good old days. While I miss some of the old shops, I believe we have to look forward and not back if we are to bring the high street back to life. We need to be realistic that the high street is changing. And we can influence this change by developing a Neighbourhood Plan.

We need to capture aspirations and ambitions to ensure we all contribute to the function, liveability, economic advantages and environmental credentials of Bearwood. And I admit I have borrowed those words from here. They were good words! I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, just Bearwood.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Related articles

Round the world with my kagool

Gallery

The one item of clothing I lugged around the world that I do not regret taking was my trusty kagool or kag in a bag. It was well used in New Zealand when we went on a wine tasting tour … Continue reading

Live Below the Line Lentils

Day 3 of Live below the Line Week started really well. I made a lentil curry. Using fresh vegetables and lentils and coconut mil from a local independent store this was a very cheap and nutritious meal. It was also really tasty. I am not a vegetarian and I don’t think I ever will be, yet, having no meat days is a the way to eat well on a low budget.

I ate a lot of vegetarian food when I was a volunteer at Lentil as Anything in St Kilda, Melbourne. I really enjoyed my time working there, they are a great team and the philosophy of this social enterprise is amazing. There are no prices on the menu. Instead customers are invited to give what they feel the food is worth and have the opportunity to donate to the philosophy.

The food there is so tasty and filling, you do not miss meat. I had one customer, who had never eaten in a vegetarian cafe before. He was a retried man from Yorkshire. Now Yorkshire men are weaned on roast beef! If there is no meat on the plate, it isn’t considered a meal. Needless to say he loved his Moroccan Hot Pot. He was cool guy actually, taken early retirement and was visiting his children who lived in the USA, Melbourne and New Zealand. Living life not watching it from afar.

Working there had inspired me to make more vegetarian meals. this was from a Weight Watchers cook book and the ingredients were very cheap.

Lentils £0.80 as used half a bag

Coconut milk £0.25 as use 1/4 of a tin

Carrots (6) £0.18

Potato (1) £0.06

Onion (3) £0.09

Curry Powder £0.10

Garlic £0.03

Organic Vegetable stock £0.10

Total £1.60 and it made 5 lunches so that is about 32p per portion. I had egg on toast for breakfast. Home made bread and an egg from my chickens comes to about 10p.

So far so good. I can live below the line if I eat like this. Only 42p of the £1 allowance per day gone and I have had two meals.

So here comes the #fail. I went out that evening to a Social Media Surgery. I also had to go to the Apple Store to fix a problem on my iPad, so I was in Birmingham most of the afternoon and evening. I was hungry. I bought a pasty from Gregg’s at 91p. One pasty and that would break the budget for those living below the line.

It doesn’t stop there. A friend had come to the surgery and we had arranged to eat out and try out beer at a pub I had been recommended. Dinner at Bodega was £10 and the real ale at the wonderful Post Office Vaults was £3.40.

Definitely went over the budget then. I don’t regret the money spent on a really good meal at Bodega, but the 91p for a vegetable pasty, I do. For those who have to live on a limited budget in the UK every day, a 91p pasty may seem a cheap and filling option.

Learning to cook is one of the most important life skills. Headlines like this Our Hidden Poor and the growing number of food banks is worrying and are not a solution. They are a band aid. I hope that those taking part in Live Below the Line will continue to consider the cost of the food on their plate, reduce waste and whenever they can, share cooking and shopping skills to help those who live below the line, not from choice for 5 days but from necessity. Every day.