Saturday, May 26, 2012

Racing to the Garden, Racing to Lunch...

  Here I am on the tram, off to lunch at Jimmy Watson's in Carlton with my friend Ian, but before I do, I'm stopping off at the University of Melbourne to try to capture some of the spirit of the many pieces of garden there...
The university is old. How old? Older than me. I first attended the university in 1977, but it was founded in 1853. I love that in a university, aspects of life that may be chopped off in the wider world are allowed to loom as they will.
Despite its age, significant attempts have been made, throughout its time, to keep its surrounds contemporary, interesting, and alive. A courtyard, above, circa 1970s.
And here, a piece of some old building's been incorporated into landscape.
Not being a plantsman, I've no idea what you call this glorious green and gold thing, but I love its boldness, set as it is, against old stone.
Look! Someone's decided to transform a bit of old industry into sculpture. Despite my checkered history as a student of this university, I only feel at home here contemplating its spaces.
I hope to be able to post a more comprehensive survey of this university's grounds before too long, but racing off to lunch as I was, I had little time to spare. Fortunate then, that time stands still sometimes... Swanston Street, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, or its facade, seen here, is an integral part of the university.
Just down the road, an example of the streetscape the university belongs to...
...and here, a dunny, or to European/American ears, a toilet, of an outdoor variety.
And here, the wonderful King and Godfree's, a delicatessen, wine store,a  place to lose or find your senses...
The neighbourhood is intoxicating. A local church, above, gives a sense of the age of this most popular of Melbourne's shopping precincts.
 At last I've made it to Jimmy Watson's, an institution in Melbourne for 60 years. My Dad used to come here. You go in, and everything's the same as it was then, even the menu, more or less. Was it the first wine bar in Melbourne? It was certainly the most popular place to stop and enjoy friendship and good, honest, Italian-inspired food for the University of Melbourne's academics.
I am not an academic, but I enjoy a simple meal, good food ( a seafood risotto ), and a decent red. More than that, after all my racing, I enjoy my friendships, whether they are here in this very cultured city, or far away, across the world, in gardens, or not.


  1. I loved seeing the odds and ends used in the gardens. They make a distinct statement. I would love to have one of the cornices (?) in my own garden. I'll take the one with the most moss. The industrial piece which looks as if it might have come off a a chimney of some sort looks regal; a crown from a mythical God perhaps. The plant in question looks somewhat (I am no expert) like a variety of a mahonia. Possibly a Burmese. Thanks for the wonderful tour, you have made me sufficiently hungry. Seafood risotto....yum! It is early here so I suppose I will stick with eggs and coffee. Enjoy your weekend.

    1. Bonnie, I think you're right about the Mahonia. Yes, seeing bits of architecture wedged into gardens can be really exciting. They give a sense of scale. The university, like many, I hope, has been very liberal, and has included in its scope the most talented of creators. All I have is an Arts degree, but I am seriously in love with the place.

  2. Hello Faisal:
    We really do hope that you had an excellent and entertaining lunch with your friend, Ian, in surroundings and with food and wine which would appeal to us enormously.

    Melbourne is a city which we are certain we should love, not least for the splendid Victorian architecture which we believe it contains and which you give sight of here in this brief tour of some of the University buildings.

    The facade of The Ian Potter Museum of Art is absolutely splendid, as is the crown sculpture in the University gardens. We rather like the way in which things can be adapted in such a way.

    1. Hello Jane and Lance,
      I can see that the two of you would love the Ian Potter Museum of Art. The facade is on the street, 'falling down' on the public.
      Yes, I love Melbourne for being do advanced, for having within it a spirit of adventure, for being able to accept multiplicity.
      Lunch, oh, I always love to eat out. I could/would eat out every day. An absolute delight. The pinot noir was especially fine, very jammy. I grew up eating out, thanks to my father's love of restaurants and my mother's cooking. It's a very European city here, so maybe you'll get here?

  3. Hi Faisal, phew! what a rush! I enjoyed that tour of Melb uni and its surrounds, but was quite relieved to finally get to JW's. I would have had a glass of white though. btw my grandfather arrived from Russia via Palestine in the 1920s and set up a grocery store in Lygon Street, selling unusual exotic stuff like yoghurt that he made himself before the shop opened. Children used to come in for broken biscuits. cheers, catmint

  4. Hi Catmint. That's an amazing history to have - your grandfather coming from Russia - must have taken considerable courage and enterprise. Lygon Street's alot smarter these days, but still has strong multicultural presence and small-town feel. Yes, I was very glad to sit down!

  5. I have been missing visiting you dear Faisal.
    Enjoying some local history and lovely facts about friendship.

    Same here

    1. The rhythm of our life changes, Demie, and we need to find what matters...

  6. you've made my foray to melbourne even more enticing!

    1. Velma, stick to either Melbourne's inner suburbs, or get right out of Melbourne, into the countryside.