New Zealand / Australia Diary
Tuesday 1 May 2012

Colourful Hobart shopfronts

Today it was back to being on holiday with no teaching, radio interviews or any other work related items in my (virtual) diary. With Krista & Peter having things to do I took the opportunity to get out of their hair for a while and went into Hobart for some touristy wandering and (possibly) some retail therapy. The day looked grey and foreboding at the start but things gradually improved and I spent most of my time with jumper & jacket wadded up in my backpack.

Central Hobart is fairly compact and easy to get around on foot, the pavements are wide and the pedestrian crossings don't keep you waiting for very long. The ground rises quite sharply as you get further away from the central harbourside area so gravity acts as an unconscious homing device, if you're not specifically heading somewhere the tendency is to drift back to the center. On top of this the streets form a very regular grid pattern making it easy to keep your bearings. Wherever I went I always had a good idea of where I was.

There were a couple of items on my shopping list, nothing essential but things that I hoped would be easier to find in Australia than back in the UK. I'd seen the film Lantana during one of my earlier Aussie visits and although I couldn't really remember much about it I had the feeling that I'd enjoyed it so I was looking to see if I could pick it up on DVD, having failed to do so from home. A friendly tourist information person directed me into what seemed like an electronic hardware store but as I explored deeper into its subterranean depths I found the computer games section and beyond that the CDs & DVDs. A quick alphabetical search led me straight to the disk I wanted. Result! At this rate I'd be loaded down with purchases in no time.

Thompson waited lazily outside the shops. Apparently.

The other items I was searching for were both by Mark Seymour, former lead vocalist of the Australian band Hunters & Collectors. The first was a book, 13 Ton Theory, an autobiographical account of his times with the band. In each of the bookshops I visited there was the good news that whoever I spoke to instantly knew of the book (one of them proudly revealed that she owned a copy) but the bad news that they didn't have a copy and that it was out of print. Sigh! I worked my way around the bookshops and then worked around the secondhand bookshops but all to no avail. I still have one shop to try before I leave Hobart but after that it'll be down to eBay.

I was also looking for From Bondi To Bedlam, a live performance by Mark Seymour on DVD. This too turned into a fruitless search and the people I spoke to said it would be very hard to find. Sigh!! For some reason I assume that any foreign artist I like will be lauded & venerated in their home country and their most obscure works will be easily available from any high street store. Oh well, such is the path of the eclectic aesthete.

While wandering around chasing books & DVDs I (somehow) ended up in a bar that sold Tasmanian whisky (really!) and while waiting to try a sample I spotted a bottle of Benromach scotch for sale, my local distillery when I lived in Scotland. I'd never seen a bottle outside of Scotland before and this led to a discussion on the unlikeliness of circumstance with the barman (actually barwoman but both it and barperson are awkward words). I tried the local malt and found it very palatable, so much so that a bottle somehow ended up in my bag. Something to savour when I'm back in England.

MY experience in Launceston had taught me to look above the shopfronts and take in the fascias above them, and once again this revealed some delightful and very colourful buildings. In many ways these were grander & fancier than those in Launceston with a greater variety of colours, more intricate detailing and, especially in the more official buildings, some very grand stonework. Sadly the grey skies didn't bring out their glory in my photos, sorry about that.

On getting back home I found out that my Launceston workshop had made the local paper (click here to see the online version). It was only on page 9 and I was sharing the space with Man loses legal fight to keep his pet sheep but I figure every media personality has to start somewhere.

With all the work & activity of the past few days my blog had fallen long out of date so I took advantage of my lazy evening to catch up on it and the neglected emails in my inbox.

More colourful Hobart buildings

There are gargoyles up at the top!

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