A room with a view #blogjune

This is one of my favourite places in Melbourne. 

It is in the Paris End of Collins Street, but it looks as if it would not be out of place in some suburban shopping strip. Nestled above a 7/11 up a set of stairs is a large room, with a mid-century design feel of open space and pine. At the moment, it is Mamasita, but when I first discovered this place, it was the Recorded Music Salon.

It was where 6 years ago, during a lunch date with my friend Pete, I decided to start a blog- this blog :). It was where I would cajole friends to lunch, and where I introduced Mr BG to the joys of Mexican cuisine (that have only been surpassed by tacos from the Mission in San Francisco).

I would sit at those windows and look at the passers by, the people at the tram stop, the trees and the beautiful buildings opposite and think how fabulous it was to be right there.

Reestablishing an acquaintance

A workshop in Melbourne today had me taking my old train. I recognised many familiar face amongst the commuters, all bleary eyed and quiet, functioning on auto pilot.

While I would not exchange my current travel to work- a 10 minute walk!- I did enjoy the quiet time of my hour long trip in which I could read or simply look out the window. It was also lovely to catch up with a friend at Mr Tulk for a coffee and chat.

Walking through Crossley Street was also a delight. It was like a reunion with an old school friend- it was essentially the same, with minor changes to make it interesting. I stopped by my favorite store, Blonde Venus to say hello to the beautiful dresses. I couldn’t stay too long as there was a gentleman sitting outside having a coffee from the hole-in-the-wall cafe which had set up shop next door.

2014-11-13 08.30.05Heading around the corner, I was struck by how pretty Bourke Street is at this time of the morning- and there is a Melbournalia store nearby too!

2014-11-13 08.31.00Strolling past Parliament and up to Victoria Parade, I arrived in plenty of time for my workshop which proved to be very informative. Commuting like this can be good for the soul, in small doses 🙂

Curriculum Day

Yesterday was a curriculum day for the teachers at the local primary school, so the little BGs and myself took off to Melbourne. I decided to take them to two places very special to me, the State Library, where I worked a very long time ago, and the National Gallery, where I spent a lot of time skipping uni classes cultivating a life long appreciation of art. I didn’t want to overdo the day with packing heaps of stuff in, but just them a taste of being on a fun day trip to Melbourne.

On the way to Melbourne! #curriculumday

We headed down on the train, armed with a variety of boredom busters including books, snacks and the tablet. In order to ensure little feet didn’t get tired, we took a couple of trams up to the library.

At the SLV

The kids were suitably awed by the library. Master BG made me a proud mum by confiding he’d love to work with books one day :). We played some computer games in the Experimedia space, oohed and ahhed over the Domed Reading Room, then went downstairs for a hot chocolate at Mr Tulk.

In the Domed Reading Room #melbourne #SLV #curriculumday

Followed by the obligatory pitstop at Readings, we stepped onto another tram down Swanston Street. When we got to the National Gallery, I introduced them to the water wall. The look of wonder and joy on their faces was priceless, feeling the water cascade on their fingertips. They could have stayed there for ages playing with the water!

Sean meets the water wall #curriculumday #melbourne #ngv

The next stop inside was the stain-glass ceiling, where I got them to lie on the floor and just look up. I think the word Master BG used to describe it was ‘Epic!”

Emily meets the water wall #curriculumday #melbourne #ngv

We headed up to the 19th Century European collection, mainly to see if there were any Van Goghs. There wasn’t, but there were a couple of paintings which caught their eyes, Ulysses and the Sirens for Master BG’s current interest in Greek mythology, and the toilette of Venus for Miss BG (‘she’s naked mummy!” she said, very scandalised).

Greek mythology at the NGV #curriculumday #melbourne #ngv

After another bite to eat, we headed for home. The kids behaved well, and really only started swinging from the luggage rails in the last 20 minutes of the trip!

Swinging#curriculumday #melbourne#train


Dizzy, I’m so dizzy my head is spinning
Like a whirlpool it never ends

My break from stuff online was brief but productive. I read a couple of books, hung out with the kids and was there for  Mr BG and and my sisters in law after Max passed away. It was hard to stay away from online land and while I wish it had been longer, there is a great deal of my life and connections with people that occur online.

There was a weekend trip to Melbourne which included a visit to the Melbourne Museum to look at some dinosaurs,

View this post on Instagram

Dinosaurs! #melbourne #museum

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

ride the roller coaster at Luna Park and see a dead horse,

View this post on Instagram

Trip to Melbourne #melbourne #museum #pharlap

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

and the Vic Market to look at the longest queue for… donuts.

View this post on Instagram

Queue for donuts at Victoria Market #melbourne

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

Max’s wake was also attended in Melbourne, which was a fitting way for people who knew him well from work and his life to get together, charge their glasses and toast his life.

Even after a week’s leave from work, I don’t feel particularly rested, in fact at times it felt my head was still spinning when I hit the pillow at the end of the day. And with it being Dry July, it was not alcohol-induced :(. It was just the whirlwind of life and trying to cope with things.

Kate mentioned in her recent post about her sabbatical in which to write her thesis that while you can take a sabbatical from work you can’t take a sabbatical from your life. Yep, life goes on, despite all the slings and arrows which are fired at you. People have to be fed, clothes washed, appointments made and attended, and hot water systems have to be repaired (the timing of no hot water coincided with the morning temperature of -4.3 degrees). Yes, there were days when all I wanted to do was curl up into a little ball under the covers and stay in bed. However I came across this mantra on another blog which has kept me going…

And that is what I will continue to do with this blog, keep on going and not giving up.


Review- Steal my Sunshine


Emily Gale’s novel Steal my Sunshine is a coming of age tale set in St Kilda, aimed at young adult readers.

Hannah’s life starts to fragment during a Melbourne heatwave. Her parents separate, and Hannah feels the only  strong people to whom she can turn are her grandmother Essie and her best friend Chloe. However as she soon discovers, these stalwarts have issues and secrets of their own.

Hannah’s teenage social awkwardness feels so realistic, and I so related to Hannah’s experiences with her friends, especially her devotion to Chloe. Her blossoming relationship with Chloe’s older brother Evan is told with excruciatingly honesty. The family dynamics which were wrought by the separation are explored, Hannah’s brother siding with her mother, and Hannah siding with her father.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this book is the revelations from Essie. As a single and pregnant young woman, Essie’s journey to one of the infamous Magdalene laundries attached to convents is told in detail. Reading this in conjunction with Maureen McCarthy’s The Convent, you get yet another perspective of the life behind the walls of a convent were less of a sanctuary and more of a prison.

A beautifully written tale of teenage angst, Steal my Sunshine is definitely worth a read.

The obsession continues. ..


Today I finally entered! I was emboldened by a couple of ladies and a gentleman who ventured inside, with me following in their wake. The frocks were all gorgeous, with a few which had never been seen in the window. There were a couple of shift dresses wirh Picasso style prints that felt so silky, satiny pencil dresses and some exquisite full-skirted frocks and coats. The gentleman owner was incredibly polite and came over, while I was stroking the beautiful fabric of one of the dresses. Maybe he was afraid I would start drooling, but he may have seen the gleam of frock worship in my eyes, as we started talking about the fabric and the tailoring. The prices befit the quality of the frocks, and sadly beyond my reach at the moment. But I have finally braved the doorway, and I hope to be back soon.

Blonde Venus- An Indecent Obsession

My obsession continues #crossleyst

Just around the corner from work, is a beautiful shop called Blonde Venus. It’s in Crossley Street which is also home to lots of other cool shops and eateries including Becco and Gingerboy. I have become somewhat obsessed with the dresses in this shop, as they’re beautifully structured and tailored with a waist, full skirts and some of the most divine fabrics. I will sometimes get off the train at the State Library and walk up to work, passing through the street in the early hours of the morning. For me it’s like a Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment, where you can go, have a look in the window and feel nothing can go wrong.

This lacy dress  above is the most recent one on display which would be gorgeous for the party season.

Monochromatic #crossleyst #melbourne

I see this and think Sailor suit :).

Derby Day fashion in Blonde Venus, Crossley St

This was on display just before Derby Day in early November. The black and white fabric was amazing.

Leather and chiffon at Blonde Venus #crossleyst

The leather dress with chiffon blouse screamed out for stilettos, hair in a bun, and glasses perched at the end of one’s nose- perfect for a librarian with attitude!


I usually wear black, rather than navy, but seeing this dress I would change my mind…

Coat, Blonde Venus, Crossley St

The coat! I would feel like I had stepped out of a Dior photoshoot on the streets of Paris if I ever wore this :).

I’ll keep walking past and taking photos, with a New Year resolution to finally go inside.

Mads and Glads

When I take stock of my day, I will divide it into mads and glads, things I am unhappy about and things I am happy about.

These are the mads and glads for today. I have felt the need to add more glads, as my mad has made me very, very mad.


I was raised as a Catholic and was very observant in my youth, going to church and attending Catholic schools with my siblings. When I was 18, I began to question my faith and my place as a female in a very patriarchal institution and now describe myself as a happily lapsed Catholic. My parents still attend, but the closest I come to a Catholic church is for baptisms- I spent last Christmas at an ANGLICAN service (much to the disquiet of my father).

The whole furore over paedophilia and sexual abuse on the part of priests and brothers sickens and maddens me. I knew one ‘religious’ brother who had been recently jailed- he had retired to the school my brothers attended. Apart from the systemic abuse of power and authority over young and vulnerable children, the fact that these individuals were and are still protected by their association with the Catholic Church makes me furious.

The Victorian Parliament is currently undertaking an inquiry into the how the abuse has been handled by religious authorities in Victoria, and a special commission of inquiry has been commissioned in New South Wales to deal with how police have handled sexual abuse claims. However, there are many victims and advocacy groups such as Broken Rites who believe a Royal Commission, with the capacity of greater powers, could be more effective and comprehensive.



Captured on my walk to work. Pellegrinis is a Melbourne institution, where nonnas cook in the kitchen and the waiters talk to each other in Italian. It made me homesick for Rome the last time I was there, and I’m Irish!

This weekend will see the Bookgrrl family attend the Ballarat Show- a day where fairy floss and hot dogs on sticks are considered  major food groups, where showbags will be bought, and where I will escape for 20 minutes into the CWA Craft Pavilion to get my annual fill of award-winning sponges, slices and granny squares.

Just like the old days


Long before we met at a library, Mc BG was playing shows in Melbourne and overseas in so many bands he’s lost count. He would be heading out nearly every night of the week to see a band, or play when he was at uni. A lot of his friends played in bands or formed part of the audience that made up the indie-pop scene of which he was a part.

Last Friday night, he played  a show supporting The Sugargliders, a band who had just launched their 20 year retrospective CD. Josh and Joel from the Sugargliders had given the band in which Mr BG was playing their first big gig as support, and had become friends. The band dissolved and Mr BG went on to form his own bands, but he remained friends with Josh and Joel.

The gig was at The Empress in North Fitzroy, a favourite venue for the scene, and relatively unchanged since the last time we were there. The pool table had disappeared (a good place for entrepreneurial types to set up a merch stand), but the carpet (dark wine to match the stains) had not changed. Even the pole against which we had always stood was still there. It’s funny how you gravitate to the same spot at a venue :).

In many ways, the show was part 21st birthday party, part reunion. We were celebrating the music of our young adulthood and catching up with people and former band members we hadn’t seen in years, even decades. It wasn’t as angst-ridden as a reunion though- everyone I spoke to were quite relaxed and content with how their life had turned out. The audience was very much the same composition as it had been 20 years ago, give or take a new partner. There were  more wrinkles, more kilos around the waist and chin and less hair, but the infectious enthusiasm when the music started was still the same as ever.

As there were 7 acts performing,  and the sets were short and sweet at 15 minutes each. The acts played their favourite songs and a Sugargliders cover each. One of my favourites was this one from Mark Narkowicz.

Mr BG was second last

Everyone left the pub in a cheery mood, no doubt helped by the amount of beer imbibed!

Review: Melbourne

How can a place shape a person? Inner-city Melbourne is closely intertwined with the personal history of author Sophie Cunningham who explores her Melbourne in the book of the same name.

Part memoir, part social history, the book covers the course of the year 2009, a year marked at the beginning by Black Saturday bushfires, and towards the end by Geelong winning the AFL Grand Final (huzzah!).

Roads, transport, natural history and planning are highlighted along the way, as is the legacy of Melbourne’s original inhabitants.

An interesting chapter was the exploration of Melbourne underground, starting in Hawthorn. What was funny was to read of Sophie’s somewhat panicked reaction to being back in the suburb in which she had grown up, and her sharing her fear with her companion, Jeff Sparrow, also an inner-city individual who originally hailed from another middle-class suburb.

The book is part of a series in which authors were invited to write about the Australian state capitals,

It is not my history of Melbourne, not having grown up in Melbourne, but rather commuted in, or lived in the suburbs. The inner city and CBD, though has been part of my student and working life, and there are many aspects of the book which strike a key with me.

I recently had dinner with some friends in Carlton and had to dash for the train back to Ballarat. I headed up Elgin to Swanston Street, where I could grab a tram at the terminus outside Melbourne Uni. The facades of the buildings may have significantly altered since I was there nearly 20 years ago, but in that the tram ride, surrounded by students, I felt I was home again. Melbourne is a place that will always be part of you.