Thursday, 21 April 2016

Steps in the Right Direction

This is a picture of Mark, post-extremely rainy run this evening. It is absolutely chucking it down and he got a dousing but good on him for committing to his marathon training. Just 25 weeks to go!

Not quite in the same league but I have given up caffeine. And, despite this small sacrifice, it is killing me!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

New House Alert

SO ... much to our surprise (given our shaky employment status) we won an open-house bidding battle to become tenants of this lovely terrace cottage in Fitzroy today! 

From the front

The house is old and very basic but full of charm (like our old sweetshop in Berkhamsted) but its it's pretty large inside. We were both really keen to move into a house in this style because it is very typical of the city.  

To get your bearings, we are just north of the CBD (Central Business District) which is shown on this map as Melbourne. Our area is Fitzroy which is generally a bit hipster - lots of people wearing black, great restaurants and bars, and lots of creative people. 

Below are a couple of photos from the agent which will give you a flavour of what we're in for. Below: the front bedroom (with the only stick of furniture throughout, a BIR - a built-in robe)

Below: the living room

Below: the ill-equip'chen. Mod cons include (and are limited to) a sink and a stove. Whoop! Good job we have some wooden spoons coming in the shipment. 

Below: Garden needing TLC. Our Air B'N'B host (where we are now) has offered us cuttings of the succulents that we have been looking after for him so these will be going in our new (desolate) garden. 

So ... we are now landlords AND tenants. Cheesy-grin-outside-new-front-door alert. 

Finally, two notes:

1) There is a big spare room and it is yours if you want to visit. Come and see us! Book it, just do it!

2)  Do not send post here, we won't be living here for a while! We'll let you know when moving in day is. 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

St Kilda Calling

Mercifully, Mark is still gainfully employed so even though it feels like we are on a holiday, weekends are still sacred. So today the weather was lovely and we decided to head down to one of the beaches in Melbourne, St. Kilda. We stopped off at a familiar haunt, The Galleon, for an epic breakfast. 

 Above you will observe Mark, in his new habitat, wishing I wasn't taking a photo. 

And Luna Park, an ageing seaside amusement park we have never been to. 

But we did do a good walk - 10,000 steps from St Kilda up to South Melbourne Beach prospecting places to live. 

And we dipped our feet in the water. And yes it was bloody freezing (Neil we think you'll be ok in there though). 

Friday Night at NGV

We have arrived in town just in time to catch last few days of the Andy Warhol and Ai Wei Wei exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Mark has missed going to see gigs due to his mega commute for work so when he saw that the exhibition was open in the evenings with a gig by LA-based singer Deradoorian and the opportunity to enjoy both over a beer he booked it straight away. So ... on Friday night off we went. 

It was amazing to see so many of Warhol's principle works - the screenprints below were stunning in neon colour - and the show was jam-packed. 

Ai Wei Wei's work was harder to deal with. Lots of it was in video format and to be honest, on a Friday night, the last thing I wanted to do was sit with headphones on watching him dance to Gang Nam Style as a political protest. I think we got the gist though. He's an important voice against oppression. Video work aside, his physical pieces were more impressive. A huge sculpture - think 500 bicycle frames go Human Centipede - which you can see below, was stunning. It was like a hologram. Epic.

And again below, about 5 metres squared of handmade porcelain flowers - it was hard to capture.

In terms of the two artists being shown together, yes there were similarities - both often work as creative directors rather than creators, both like cats, both have dealt with the concept of death, both wore trousers with two leg holes. But for me that's where it ended. Though I couldn't see the link, I was pleased to come out feeling more educated about the two artists' work. And you can't ask much more than that from a gallery!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Great Bazza Reef

So, after a couple of days in the vicious grip of bone-bending jet lag, hidden in the depths of an anonymous hotel in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, we emerged bleary eyed to the realisation that we once again had to board a plane for our next destination - Proserpine (amusingly known as Prozy to the natives) which is close to Airlie Beach and is the gateway to the Whitsundays Islands.

Airlie Beach

As you'll see, it's a beautiful spot and was a welcome sight after the relentless travelling, but this sea is an unfulfilling temptress as we could but dream of getting into our swimmers and diving in, but a sign next to the beach gives some compelling reasons not to:
If in doubt, treat as a box jellyfish...

However, we didn't have long to wait, as in just 24 hours we were scheduled to depart for our ReefSleep experience, which is hosted on an old marine research platform permanently connected to Hardy Reef and for my 40th birthday, Tory had bought us a night aboard with almost exclusive snorkelling of the reef.

A picture paints a thousands words, so here are five thousand words:

ReefSleep Platform at sunset
Team Roberts - Pre-Snork

Tory - Underwater Wife

Fish - everywhere
Our local, friendly turtle eating part of the platform

If a picture paints a thousand words, then a video probably paints about a million words, so here are three million words:

Although the snorking was amazing and we enjoyed being under the waves, this was upstaged later on by the light show put on by the stars that night. As there was no light pollution that far out on the reef it was possible to see the stars in a way that we never had before with the naked eye.  Who knew that you could just see the milky way?  The only thing that detracted from this amazing event was the extended monologue of our extremely stoned host, who spoke at length on his pet conspiracy theory that part of the milky way had been physically removed and placed into another part of space.

In our next episode, we move to Melbourne. Stay tuned...

Todays trivia -  for those who don't already know, our f*cking tenants pulled out the day before moving in, so we had to start the whole process all over again.  The good news is that it has only taken two weeks to find another tenant who is moving in next Friday :)

First Steps...

After nearly a full year of applying, worrying, planning and organising, we are finally in Melbourne. 

The jet lag has set in and we're a bit like furtive, narcoleptic shrews who occasionally poke our noses out of our hotel for a couple of hours but never too far or for too long, as we know that at any moment we may fall asleep wherever we are, but here are a few pics of our first steps...

Laneways - a bit like The Lanes in Brighton

Self-explanatory really, it's a tram
The Yarra River
Flinders St. Station - central hub for public transport
Nice fountain...
...shame about the terrified boy having his wang spat on by a turtle
AC/DC Lane - Why don't we have a Led Zeppelin Avenue in the UK?

Lord of the Fries - 'nuff said

We Made It!

Just a quick opening post to let you all know that we have arrived safe and sound. The flight was long, as expected, but we did manage to sleep – Mark not so much! – there were lots of free seats so we were able to spread out and hog a few choice seats.
We are now set up with Australian mobile numbers. my old UK number is therefore not working any more. You can still reach Mark on his but if you are calling from the UK then do use his Skype number (you’ll only get charged UK landline numbers to call him and you  don’t have to arrange for him to be by a computer because you will get him on his phone). We will email the numbers.
Today's trivia: Even though you have waited a year and paid thousands of pounds for a visa, you do not get a passport stamp when you emigrate to Australia. 
Lots of Love,
Tory & Mark
P.S. New films to add to those to give a miss: The Lady in the Van, Joy, Last Knights and Victor Frankenstein.