Swanning about

I thought I was coming out of my vintage tat phase, but alas possibly not.  Concrete garden ornaments were genuinely fashionable in Australia for about five minutes in the 1950s and then by the 70s, certainly, they were more likely to bring joy to lovers of kitsch, people from Mediterranean countries and old people who hadn't moved on, in more ways than one.  Thank goodness.  They are always a delight to find tucked away in a garden.   Usually still there because they weigh as much as a small car and Granny's just worked around it since the 60s. 

This episode of ABC's blueprint for living (available to those in Australia) deconstructs the fetish for concrete garden ornaments beautifully.  I couldn't have said it better.   Tyre swans.  I'd forgotten they ever existed until I heard this and then had a sudden urge to consider making one.  Maybe not.

However, yesterday I was poking about in a second had shop (I know! I know I said I never would again!) and came across this. 

I'm struggling to think of much else, and how wonderful it would look in my front patch with a bit of old-lady-plant of some description cooking away inside.  Hmm...


Uptown Fairbridge

We've just been to a music festival.  Getting teenagers to do anything that their parents think will be 'fun and cool' is generally a lost cause but somehow we managed to pull this one off. 

Fairbridge Festival is held just out of Perth every year.  It's a kind of folk / world / indi type of event which they sum up by calling a festival of 'inspired music'.   It cleverly attracts people of all ages, except maybe if you are between 20-30 with quite mainstream tastes and would rather stick hot pins in your eyes than listen to anything involving a fiddle.   That's not us.  Kids endured most of it and enjoyed odd moments which is on balance a pretty good outcome.  

I won't prattle endlessly about all the incredible acts.  There were many,  but there's nothing more boring than someone talking about something you have not seen or heard.  Teen faves were Bullhorn, a seven piece brass outfit from Brisbane with rapper MC;  hard not to like them.  Chris Matthews who grew up in Kununurra (WA's godforsaken back of beyond) who has never had music lesson in his life played guitar like, well, I can't even begin to describe how good he was.  Canadian group Opposite of Everything who looked utterly missable on the programme were mesmorising and super clever musos. 

But most amazing was a guy wandering around the festival, a one man band, if you like.  Uptown Brown pipes music straight out of the 20's from a contraption on his back involving a synthesizer, and assorted instruments.   The sound coming from him was like a gramophone. He was extraordinary and sweet and appealed to absolutely everyone.  

Unlike the morris dancers who had me cringing along with the kids, at least we could agree on something.  Old people desperately trying to be to be wacky and out there, please don't let me ever be one of those.   I love morris dancing but this was way too messed around with.  Some things are best left old school!


Killing it softly

These pictures are from a place in Perth perched high on a hill, overlooking river and sea.  Monument Hill in Mosman Park   It should be lovely but it's not; it's shabby as.  There's two wonderful relics there; the obelisk (built in colonial times as a navigation point and moved in the 1980s to make way for a bigger water reservoir), and also an observation post from WWII (I think that's what it is but it's hard to know really, no signage).

Once upon a time this area was home to lots of thriving industry providing stacks of local jobs for the workers living in their weatherboard cottages, and a motorcycle scramble track (environmentally sensitive no, fun and useful, yes), but the land is now worth a squillion so all that's gone and it's now covered in big ugly gaffs.  Except around the foot of Monument Hill which was sold off in the 90's or thereabouts which has plenty of cheaper but equally as miserable housing jammed up against each other.  Think: that gorgeous and popular development, the 'group of 8 townhouses' lined up like teeth in a denture someone left lying around.   There's often no footpaths, but that's OK because you never see any people on foot.  Clearly there's an arbor aversion from the new settlers too cause there's not a lot of foliage action up high in residential Mossie.  What's left of the natural bush is really just scrub with plenty of litter spread about, for colour.   If you want to see how a site like this could be, look at Bold Park in Floreat.  All timber walkways and decorative steel handrails and plaques about the regenerated flora.  

These slightly arty snaps make it look pretty good though, if I say so myself.  

Don't get me wrong, we definitely need more affordable housing in Perth's inner and more desirable suburbs, but jaysus it sure is hard to to get right, glad it's not my job.  It's all wrong in Mosman Park.  And we haven't even started talking about the blocks of flats built in the 1960s when a certain developer (with, I've heard some help from his friends in office) managed to acquire large chunks of housing stock to build ten story blocks of flats and create a pop-up slum on the apt named Battle Street.  Thankfully the vibe and name has improved in recent years, and apart from the odd junkie swaggering down the middle of the road it's a place where many young people might dream of being able to get a toe hold in the property market (grappling irons recommended).   There's also lots of good stuff going on around the place: the most amazing kids' natural adventure playground down by the river, a luxury mens' shed and restored WWII tunnels.    

But for all its woeful failures, I really like Mosman Park.  It has a bit of everything and all ends of the social spectrum, keepin' it real.   Like an ageing divorcee it's made plenty of mistakes along the way but has some excellent stories to tell.    This place would be one, the rope and twine factory which gave up the good fight in 1990.   The rope walk that stretches out behind it (towards the hill) was used for making the long heavy lengths of massive rope. How amazing that must have been to watch.  (Pic: thanks SLWA, taken 1930s).  

In WWII there was a ban placed on all Americans from crossing the highway into Mosman Park after a pub brawl got out of hand and someone got stabbed by a yankee serviceman. But that, is another story.