If you’re a regular reader of Iced Vovo you would know that I have been travelling up to Melbourne for the past few years to attend the Melbourne Writers Festival and this year was no different with me packing up my suitcase and getting Mum on board for another weekend adventure.
With Twin share accommodation hard to find, this time we stayed at Rydges on Exhibition Street, and whilst the room was fine and beds comfortable, the bathroom was very squeezy and with the shower over the bath it was not the best option for Mum with her reconstructed knee!
What was good was our dinner and drinks the first night at the bar downstairs. We opted to share a sweet potato, pine nut, rocket and lemon yoghurt pizza and a classic Caesar Salad.
Friday morning we strolled around the corner to Bourke Street and straight in to Pellegrini’s for coffee and whilst we weren’t that hungry we could not resist sharing a slice of the apple strudel. I’m glad we didn’t resist as it was absolutely fabulous! Not too sweet and VERY flavoursome and the coffee was perfect – hot and strong.
Friday night we caught up with family and after a lovely dinner at Self Preservation Cafe on Bourke Street (Thanks M-AS for the reco) we headed to Gin Palace for a night cap. Gill and I went for two Gin tasting boards. Gill’s some of the classics and me a selection of the Aussies both accompanied with a variety of tasty tidbits and some good tonic (Fever Tree and Capi) and ice too for us to mix and match as we liked. We both pretty much opted for trying them straight which was a great way to get the full flavour of the gins. However, after tasting all I did add a little ice to one but drank the tonic (Capi)by itself.
Saturday we had a full day of MWF sessions to attend. I was nearly caught out this year with a change to the program seeing the opening night shifted from Thursday to Friday and the first full day of sessions from the Friday to Saturday.
Our Saturday sessions included:
Irish writer Eimear McBride talking about her latest novel The Lesser Bohemians in conversation with Jane Sullivan. Inspired by James Joyce, McBride talked about her life as a young actress, the struggles of trying to get her first novel A girl is a half-formed thing published and its subsequent success, the 9 year break between novels and of course her latest hit The Lesser Bohemians.
Next up was a panel discussion between Poets Tracy K Smith from the USA and Maxine Beneba Clarke from Australia talking about their latest publications – both memoirs about growing up as women of colour. This was an interesting discussion about their transition from poets to memoirists and the difficulties personal writing raises. We learnt how its a delicate balance traversing family dynamics and that not everyone is going to be pleased to hear about your life history, especially if they are involved…. Also revealed was the endemic racism still apparent in both countries today.
Our third session Truly Madly Guilty with Liane Moriarty explored her latest New York Times Best-seller and its exploration of guilt – of course! Having not known anything about Moriarty’s work I was interested to hear from an Australian author who has written over 7 novels and sold over six million books!!!! (I really don’t know why I hadn’t heard of her before this) Moriarty revealed how her other best seller, Big Little Lies, was snapped up by Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon for a HBO TV Series already in production. Interestingly Moriarty’s two other siblings are also writers.
Our final session was with East West Street author, Philippe Sands, also a lawyer and human rights activist, who delivered the Alan Missen Oration on the parallels between prominent Holocaust figure Hans Frank and Hersch Lauterpacht, one of his prosecutors. Lauterpacht can be attributed to coining the phrase and legal processes of “The crimes against humanity”.
Afterwards we retreated to the ACMI Bar and Cafe for fish and chips and a well earned beverage.
Sunday we had just enough time to stroll down to the Hopetoun Tea Rooms (no journey to Melbourne is complete without a visit there) for breakfast. Mum and I both selected the warm French crepes filled with Spring berries, with berry sauce, lemon curd and whipped cream. I went for coffee and Mum a pot of green tea and pear. We then had time for a quick browse around that part of town before heading back out to the airport for our return trip home.
A highlight of the trip was coming across the exhibition of Del Kathryn Barton’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Nightingale and the Rose which I am going to feature in my next post so pop back soon…