This week’s small pleasures: the Melbourne edition

This weekend saw us fly over The Ditch (as the Tasman Sea is affectionately known) for a mini break to Melbourne. I realised it had been two years since I was last there, so it was definitely time for another visit. We left early on Friday morning (really early: the taxi came at 4am), which while tiring, did at least give us a full day in the city.

We left our suitcase at the hotel, and decided to get our shopping done while we waited for our room. After successfully purchasing items for Karl, we headed to my goal, COS, where I did indeed find a few things. It was then time to head to the hotel, leave our purchases, head to lunch at a nice wee place (Brewer’s Place in Goldsborough Lane) before a much needed afternoon nap.

Relaxing…or waiting for me while I shop

On Friday evening, we stopped for a drink before dinner, and spotted this fun mural below. Look carefully! From there, we headed over to +39 Pizzeria, a place we have been to a few times now. It is nothing fancy, just good, straightforward food. I had the spinach and ricotta ‘oversized’ gnocchi, with spinach, pancetta, toasted pine nuts and pecorino cheese and Karl opted for that perennial favourite, lasagne.

Plate licking in a suit

Below: have to have San Pellegrino when on holiday; a salad full of greens, seeds, and loads of vegetables topped with a bit of salmon for lunch and gnocchi for dinner.

Saturday started with an excellent breakfast at our hotel (the centrally located Alto on Bourke Street where we have stayed before). I had the tomatoes and feta on toast, which did not disappoint, so much so, I had the same on Sunday morning.

It was such a lovely sunny day, so we took the tram out to St Kilda. I’ll post pictures from there on Wednesday, but in the meantime, have a look at the featured image at the top of the post looking from St Kilda towards Melbourne (unless you are reading this on a mobile phone in which case you might not be able to see it). We ate a good lunch at The Banff, then headed back to town for a rest before the evening. Pictured below – the breakfast bruschetta and Saturday’s dinner at The Breslin, where I had an excellent, garlicky prawn and clam linguine before the main event of the weekend…

…which was going to see The Australian Ballet’s new production of the old classic Sylvia at the Arts Centre. This revival of a rarely staged ballet with music by Delibes is choreographed by Stanton Welch and is a co-production with the Houston Ballet. The ballet revolves around the goddess Artemis, the nymph Sylvia and the mortal (who becomes a goddess) Psyche. It is quite a complicated story, so it is kind of best to just enjoy the dancing and the spectacle. I had wanted to see this ballet since I was a child, when we had an old LP at home with extracts from Coppélia on one side and Sylvia on the other, so it was a really special occasion for me to see this performance. It did not disappoint, with wonderful dancing, comic moments and stunning set and costume designs. It was also so nice to see some ballet on a big stage with a proper orchestra, something we often miss in Wellington. Below you can see the theatre as we waited for the performance, a copy of the programme and a separate sheet with further plot details where you can also get an idea of the costumes.

On Sunday, we decided to do a decent walk, starting at the Queen Victoria Market, looking at all the fruit and vegetables, seafood and other produce, before I insisted on spending a bit of time in Books for Cooks, a dangerous place full of new and old cookery books and books on food. I was also glad to solve the mystery of one of the shellfish I had seen in New Caledonia as there were some for sale here as well. Here they were called ‘crayfish’ but look nothing like what I would call a crayfish. Anyway, I guess they are of the same family?

From there we walked (yes we got a lot of steps in on Sunday!) to the Immigration Museum. Exhibitions focus on immigrant stories and the history of migration to Australia. There were some fascinating displays of advertisements, encouraging people from the UK to move to the country, such as those below. While we were there, there were also exhibitions on the art of tattoos, from the South Pacific and Japan, which were also really interesting. I guess it is not the first museum that visitors might head to, but well worth it to discover more about the history of the country. It was then back to the airport for our flight home to Wellington, getting home around midnight, having had a lovely weekend, full of small – and big – pleasures.

And that’s it for this week. What were your small pleasures?

Thanks to Mani over at A New Life Wandering for the original idea.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on


  1. Quite a weekend! Plate-licking good? Love the idea of tomatoes and feta on toast. I have a fair amount of fresh tomatoes from my little garden, and that would be a great way to use some of them.


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