Wednesday 31 January 2018

A Month in St Kilda.

St Kilda Pier.
I've just achieved a small goal - to live somewhere different for a short spell. After spending December with my daughter and son-in-law, I moved to an apartment nearer to the city of Melbourne for the month of January. In the the heart of buzzy St Kilda, a stroll of a few yards took me to Acland Street, full of restaurants and shops. A little further on is the Esplanade or, in the opposite direction, the peaceful Botanical Gardens.

There was so much to do and see. I swam in the sea-baths followed by a wallow in the sea-water hydrotherapy spa. The breakwater at the end of the pier is home to a colony of penguins so I visited them after sunset one evening as they come back from the sea. The Sunday market on the Esplanade offered beautiful hand-made crafts. I spent a whole day catching up with a friend while her eight year old daughter made the most of St Kilda's famous Luna Park. While Olivia whizzed around on rides guaranteed to make most adults dizzy, we chatted at the same sort of velocity. My friend had been at the Australian Open the day before and had watched Carla Suaraz-Navarro win her match, and now the tennis pro was being filmed at Luna Park on the same ride as Olivia (who just missed being screened on TV but her leg was in shot for all the world to see!)

I explored what was on my new doorstep or hopped on a tram to discover more of central Melbourne. I wandered the arcades, the markets bursting with fresh fruit and veg and other produce (yes, you can get kangaroo steaks,) craft items as well as the usual household goods and inexpensive clothing. I visited the Yarra Valley for a gourmet tour of its wineries and other local produce. How can you go wrong with wine, cheese, fruit and chocolate? I visited art galleries, the pop-up Shakespeare's Globe, the moonlight cinema and, of course, bookshops.

There was a bookshop about a hundred metres from my door and in the little community garden nearby was a tiny free library! I also had a brilliant Op Shop, with plenty of books, on my street. So I didn't starve! And, even better, Melbourne is renowned for coffee so I had to sample some of that.

I also visited the small town about 60 miles out of Melbourne where my mother spent her first 10 years. I saw the school she enrolled in some 90 years ago which looks much the same although the street where she lived looks totally different. In the library's local history section I found school photos which included her elder sister and her best friend, although she herself was not listed. I also visited the cemetery where her sister, who died aged thirteen, is buried.

To keep me writing I joined a couple of writing groups, one of which meets in the courtyard of an independent cafe on Sunday afternoons for some dedicated writing time. The lovely waiters ensured coffee and snacks arrived with a minimum of fuss for those who wanted them. Another group met for writing support with opportunity to read out work and listen to others' WIPs. Some days I spent the entire day writing.

The Internet enabled me to keep up with writing news from UK and in touch with fellow writers. I also made several submissions. One was rejected with some encouraging words, others will keep me waiting for some time and I will hear only if I'm successful. (I hate these but appreciate that hundreds or thousands of submissions can't always receive a definite rejection.) I hope something comes of my St Kilda days' writing but whatever happens, the memories of the joy in discovering a new city will stay with me forever.