Today our target was to eat fish’n’chips. Not much of a target, you might think, but these were no ordinary fish, and certainly no ordinary chips.
There is a fish’n’chips shop in Canterbury, a leafy suburb in Melbourne’s east, which according to a survey last year in The Age makes the second best fish’n’chips in the city. (It may account for the astronomical price of houses over there, who knows.) The best, they said, was in Bentleigh, but we’ve been there a few times and we reckon that despite their judicious use of beer batter, they’ve lost ground to Canterbury.
So we decided to head over to Canterbury, to sample that fish and those chips, and to explore Maling Road. Maling Road is a bit like an old village shopping centre that’s stuck sometime in the 1920s, except that there’s more cars now. It’s difficult to exactly put your finger on what gives it that olde worlde atmosphere, but whatever it is, it works.
After dutifully exploring the Maling Road shops, we headed around the corner to the fish’n’chips shop. Which was closed. Because it was Monday. When it was always closed. A fact that we had neglected to check in advance.
After some debate we decided to get back on the train and head for Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. This is a spot with zillions of shops of all shapes, sizes and persuasions. And, most importantly, a fish’n’chips shop that’s open on Mondays. To our surprise, their standard of fish’n’chips proved to be excellent. I’m not sure how I’d rate it with the place in Canterbury, but it was very good indeed.
We ate it out on the curb, though al fresco almost turned to al soako when it started pouring with rain. Fortunately we were able to move our table slightly further from the street and get undercover before the chips got soggy and the fish got as wet as… umm.. a fish.
Having finished the fish’n’chips and thus achieving our target for the day, we went home to rest. No, we didn’t. We kept exploring Glenferrie Road, along the way finding some truly delicious Hedgehog slice. We also found a Bowen Street (which was a good photo opportunity) and shops varying from hippy goods to antique and obscure books. I didn’t notice, but you could probably get hippy books and antique and obscure goods, as well. Not to mention obscure books about antique hippies.
Next we headed into the city for a stroll around the gardens. We crossed over Princes Bridge and through some of those obscure parks just south of the river that nobody knows the name of. We passed the Flower Clock, which these days still looks brilliant, apart from the fact that it doesn’t have the right time. The Flower Clock was donated by a bunch of Swiss watchmakers, who would probably be winding in their graves to know that the time always seems to be wrong.
We walked further down, past the statue of Weary Dunlop. It’s a truly humbling experience to stand and read the story told in the plaques there about the man and his deeds. No wonder they gave him a state funeral.
Further humbling is the Shrine of Remembrance. This is something that shows that Melbourne knows how to build a war memorial. (Insert Paul Hogan voice here: "That’s not a war memorial – THIS is a war memorial!") It’s massive, and can be seen from way up at the top of Swanston Street, a huge grey reminder of a part of history that some people would rather forget.
When viewed from the outside close-up, it’s grand and impressive yet when you get inside, you realise that this isn’t some huge glorification of war, but rather it immortalises the deeds and suffering of ordinary individuals caught up in something that we all hope we never have to get caught up in ourselves.
From the Shrine we walked over to the Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are celebrating their 130th anniversary this year, and it looks like some pretty good care has been taken over those 130 years to keep the whole thing looking lovely. We strolled through, gazing upwards at the flying foxes (the organic kind, not the playground ride), and watching the swans and the ducks frollicking on the lawns.
It was just starting to rain again when we stopped off for some well-earned hot drinks at the lakeside cafe, whereupon we discovered that Isaac had done a truly impressive poo and thus needed to have his nappy changed.
When the rain had let up, we headed out of the gardens down to Toorak Road, South Yarra. Toorak Road has two main distinctions. (1) It’s fiendishly congested at peak hour, which it was, but that was okay because we were walking. (2) There’s a whole bunch of very exclusive looking shopping. I almost feel intimidated just going into a newsagent to buy a paper.
We strolled down Toorak Road and on to Chapel Street. Chapel Street is a very long shopping strip, maybe three kilometres long, and varies from your average everyday shops down on the southern end, to the So Fashionable You Can’t Wear It Anywhere Except Somewhere Ultra Hip clothes shops. It’s not quiteup there with the stuff that’s only ever seen on catwalks, and never actually worn by anybody, but some of it’s not far off.
By this point most of the shops were starting to close, and having eaten out already that day we didn’t fancy hanging around to dine there, no matter how excellent the choice of restaurants. So we headed back to South Yarra station and home.