If you’ve been away for a while, returning to all the things you used to do is so exciting and fresh. It’s like breathing new life into old memories. The weekend in Melbourne was grey and rainy and abruptly, blindingly bright. More importantly it was cold, really painfully chilly (by Australian standards, I mean); I missed hurting from the cold when I was in Sydney. Winter in Melbs is so delicious and cosy — just cold enough to make being warm really valuable. Much appreciation for winter sun, too.
Saturday was beautiful in the beginning. I wandered around the neighbourhood with sunglasses on and admired all the old buildings. At least a third of all houses in Williamstown must be converted pubs. Ended up at Cobb Lane for coffee and doughnuts with M, who has the most wonderfully infectious laugh I’ve met. Maybe not the most nutritious breakfast going but I feel like the lemon doughnut covers part of my fruit intake (it had zest in). The other was salt caramel which probably doesn’t.
Williamstown was hosting its annual vintage fair at the weekend and I ran into some good luck to get a ticket from the fine ladies of Dames of Distinction. It was all the things suburban vintage fairs should be; heavenly good fun. There were lots of sweet old ladies pointing and saying, ‘Oh, I had one just the same,’ before silently adding (I assume), ‘Think of the money I could make today if I’d held onto it’. Nothing for me but a lot of heartache.
Such dreamy jewellery too from Vintage Sisters, sent direct from one sister to another across a few oceans.
The town hall is so pretty, too. All the old signage is still up, wish I could have taken a picture of the entrance to the bathrooms without the possibility of an arrest.
The weather turned in the afternoon when I went to see T in the city. Haven’t seen her since London so it was a sort of reunion. Talked about travel and cake and the benefits of Melbourne having a Uniqlo (these benefits are endless and come in every colour).
Little details I love about Melbourne.
Finally to finest Nieuw Amsterdam with lovely flowers for a lovely birthday girl. More doughnuts — this time pumpkin with cinnamon and buried in brandy-cream. Could go on for years about this food.
An extra for dreaming:
It’s been a year since I backpacked around Europe now. Maybe it’s the fact that I just moved, maybe it’s that everyone I ever added on Facebook seems to be in Paris or Barcelona or Berlin — whatever it is, nostalgia is getting to me. I’ve put together a few pictures from each place I travelled (less Munich and Česky Krumlov, because I was too busy eating chocolate and buying shirts with little foxes on). If I can’t travel the least I can do is wallow in my own wanderlust.
The nice thing about saying goodbye is that you finally see everything you’d been meaning to with everyone you’d been meaning to. My last week in Sydney was relaxed for such a hectic time; mostly just good cafés with good people. The best was probably Cornersmith, which everyone in Sydney has been, or has been meaning to go, to. They make their own honey on the premises. I thought this might have been a workplace health and safety issue but maybe they have bee suits.
Had a cute day with M and T around Marrickville, looking around fabric stores and op shops. Scored a collection of Gibson sketches which made up for a total lack of my favourite cheap 70s Agatha Christie paperbacks.
Vargabar, who make pesto fetta scrambled eggs to convert vegans and was a only heavenly minute away by foot.
I’m really going to miss living in Newtown. Of course there were downsides (the busker who only knew I Love You Baby, the busker with the penny whistle, etc), but it was so convenient. Maybe it’s a blessing and a curse to have everything within walking distance — it makes it difficult to get motivated to go anywhere else. I’ll sure miss walking to uni, though.
Poor Sydney; poor International and Global Studies. Bluntly: I’m moving back to Melbourne and transferring into an Arts degree for a lovely, untainted schedule of history (+German, +Film Studies, +etc). It means moving back in with my parents after 18 months out of home, but most importantly it’s moving back to a city where I know I thrive. I can wait out my undergrad years, get the piece of paper and move on (probably to Bath — I’d like to study museums in a living museum). I can not pay rent and hang out with my dog and take cheap flights to Hobart. Who knows, I might actually get a life.
I have a month off over winter and I really can’t bear to wait. Current plans: coffee, scarves, the lucky Swedish coin in my coat pocket, berets, rabbit meatballs, braids, Russian folk tales and learning dates.
See you in winter!
Le Week-end holds the record: I’ve seen it five times at the cinema. For once Australia’s absurdly delayed releases were a blessing and I managed to split my viewings between late last year and late last month. It’s fair to wonder what the attraction could be — it’s received some condemnation for being boring. I don’t think boring is the word at all but I do see where they come from — Le Week-end is one of those films where nothing really happens. It’s just a weekend in two lives. Nothing’s changed too drastically and there aren’t any explosions, nobody steals any art, nobody rides a jet ski.
But what it is is a weekend in Paris. It’s a weekend of extravagance and cheekiness and dinner parties with Jeff Goldblum; it’s a weekend of two regular-ish people with regular-ish problems. And, for a film about a couple on the edge of retirement celebrating their wedding anniversary, it’s wonderfully relatable. Maybe it’s the snooping round alleyways, or eating, or the constant desire to do and be something fantastic.
Don’t expect anything from Le Week-end. Like any weekend away, if you expect grand things you’ll be disappointed. Go in with an empty head instead, and I promise it’ll be filled with good things.
I’ve been heavenly lucky and to have back-to-back autumns. Autumn #2 is passing quickly under the weight of uni — that is, under the weight of actually having something to do — but Autumn #1 stretched out and lasted gloriously; and it was cold. Scotland delivers.
Sometime in the middle I had a visitor from my gap year muse, a beautiful and excellent human being. We met in London by her walking past the kiosk where I worked and recognising my voice from the one time we met at a mutual friend’s party — in Melbourne, months earlier. The weight of coincidence is so staggering that it affirmed my belief in something spooky and beyond our understanding — but that’s another story. I’m talking about a long weekend we took in Glasgow to see the Cat Empire and Flap!. Glasgow’s a pretty cool little city; rough around the ages but with a great heart. Also it has the tallest cinema in the world so, really, it had me at hello.
Digging through the archives I found these, and also realised (too late!) that I didn’t manage to get any half-decent pictures of the two of us. But the memories are good: we treated ourselves to shopping at Waitrose (the snobby supermarket), visited heritage buildings, went to creepy markets, drank hot chocolates, laughed at postcards, ate risotto and lived well. Also, we stayed around the corner from this magical Victorian conservatory.
Granted, there’s a decent risk I’m just going to spend all my time here telling you about film soundtracks. I thought Carter Burwell’s score for In Bruges would never be topped, or even equalled, but hot and holy damn. It’s a lot of Owen Pallett and a lot of Arcade Fire and just enough Karen O. I want to have it playing always. I think life would be really manageable that way.
So: if I were you I’d listen to it all; if I were you in a hurry I’d skip ahead to the 8-minute mark.
(PS: YouTube’s been scrubbed of copyright infringements but there’s a playlist of the songs individually here.)
Pull enough money together, somehow, someday, and rent a cottage in the forest. Spend two weeks: take a first aid kit and a big bag of lentils and a stack of books the height of me. No clocks, no phones, no internet, no noise. Sort of like shutting your computer down properly instead of just closing the lid. Take long walks through the ferns and pictures on film, and drink the local mineral water (which is always awful) and don’t meet a soul; don’t say a word, not even to yourself. Forget what it is to be a functioning member of society for a while. It’s important to dream.
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Things have been quiet, I know. I keep waiting for life to settle down and to do what I tell it, but I’m starting to realise that that isn’t going to happen. I’m faced with a choice that keeps me awake, sometimes: Sydney or Melbourne? I know that, whatever happens, I won’t be in this degree after June; economics has chewed me up and spat me out. The choice now is between histories, and really it’s very lucky to have to pick between two lovely outcomes. There are days, though, when it seems like I can only see the negatives of each choice.
What’s that Sylvia Plath line? i remember reading it in the Bell Jar; I’m sure all you clever blogging types will know it. She describes herself as faced with this tree full of delicious fruit, and each is a glorious future — she only has to pluck one, to decide how her life ought to go, and all the others will fade and wither away. So rather than taking one fate from the tree she sits by it and agonises, and watches the tree rot and die without having picked anything. I feel like that in many ways; whenever I’m about to make up my mind I realise how much I’ll be sacrificing and, again, I’m caught in this evil indecision. And it’s already May: the year isn’t waiting for me.
It isn’t all bad — in making like another gal-pal of page and screen I’m savouring the little things, Amélie-style. Afternoons listening to good music, stretched out in the pale sun on the lawn, and cute dogs and chai lattes and golden teacups. It’s a good time to look inward and take life day by day.
These pictures are from trip in the Blue Mountains with my parents, at Easter. Like most things in and around Sydney, it’s a very beautiful place but somehow feels very wrong to me — thanks, in this case, to an plague of tourists. Maybe that’s something my quiet Melburnian soul struggles to deal with — lord knows I had the same problem in London and found solace in peaceful Edinburgh. But nothing could really ruin such a wonderful day as this, with the best weather going: clear, blue, cold and crisp. We’re really sitting on the edge of winter, now, and it’s so special.
It snowed twice. By the end of autumn we would stand around the hot cabinets at work and warm our hands, and my co-workers (Polish, jaded) would insist on sleet and hail. They said that when it did come — in January at least — it would alarm the population and the supermarkets would sell out of salt. This was hilarious, apparently, and I laughed as hard as the desert and the ocean and the rainforest can. Then I walked to the bank and came back with white hair and refused to work because it was a Snow Day. It lasted for about fifteen minutes in vague, thrilling flurries. And when I walked home, a week later, it was already too dark but it caught in the beam of a streetlamp and I stood and watched it until my feet lost feeling.
Hindsight is wonderful because it makes me miss Edinburgh. I remember the golden post-box and the cold and that Starbucks wasn’t really dreadful, and how all the short-cuts led somehow to the bank. I think I miss it. Familiarity fades and so do my memories of the horrible things that happened: the sexist boss, the boredom, the 34p pasta I lived off. Instead I remember how strange and lonely and wonderful it looked in the small hours, and how once we walked for miles from a weird, sad party, and I met a pretty cat and got lost in the dark. Edinburgh is magical at night.
Do you remember cresting the hill and seeing the little bud-lights of the Christmas market spread beneath you? Do you remember when everybody came to visit and slept in your tiny bed with the broken springs? Do you remember learning and forgetting the dance from Bande à part in the kitchen at work?
And the memories I documented, carefully: the beautiful Meadows (where I walked home, pale with exhaustion), and the sweetheart dog of my flatmate (who coated my life in clinging white hair), and a dreamy bob (that drove me crazy). So, nostalgia.