Paul Gascoigne will use two-month I’m A Celeb stay to overcome fear of snakes


Paul Gascoigne will use his Italian I’m A Celeb stint to finally overcome his lifelong fear of snakes.

He is jetting off to Hondouras to take part in their version of the show, which involved a two month show on a desert island.

The football legend, 53, has a great relationship with the public in Italy after playing in Serie A for Lazio.

He can’t to show them what he can do but accepts he has one problem – snakes.

He told The Sun : “What is really going to scare me is the snakes.



Football legend Paul Gascoigne has a big plan to cure his snake phobia

“Anything else I can put up with, lack of food, the trials, but what I’m really scared of is the snakes.

“I think I will either be out in 24 hours or win it — there won’t be any half measures.”

His I’m A Celebrity spell comes as the 53-year-old admitted he was now drinking again, after his long battle with alcoholism.

But Gazza insists he’s now able to control how much he has, revealing he can limit himself to “a couple of glasses of wine or a few glasses of beer.”

He explained that during the interview process for the show’s UK version he was asked to meet with a psychiatrist.



He is loved by Italians, she can't wait to see him on their version of I'm A Celebrity
He is loved by Italians, she can’t wait to see him on their version of I’m A Celebrity

He told the publication: “I did interviews for I’m A Celebrity in the UK but they pre-judged me. They wanted to sign me for the show, but when it came to speaking to the psychiatrist they really p***ed me off.

“I wasn’t happy about that. And the questions she asked me were ridiculous.”

His campmates will include former Miss Italy Carolina Stramare and actress Angela Melillo.

Gascoigne spent a three-season spell with Rome-based club Lazio between 1992 and 1995 and shone as the Three Lions finished fourth at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.



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EU edges closer to vaccine passport but says travel curbs will stay for months



VisitBritain has announced that tourism businesses in the UK registered to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ scheme, which assured visitors of a safe visit last year, will now be automatically awarded an international ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The stamp means destinations meet international health and hygiene protocols and will aid the recovery of UK tourism, especially following any future reopening of borders to foreign visitors. 

“The globally recognised stamp enables both business and leisure travellers to distinguish destinations around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so they can experience ‘Safe Travels’, and VisitBritain’s adoption will help to restore consumer confidence,” said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC.

More than 44,000 businesses across the UK are registered with the ‘We’re Good To Go’ scheme.

“We are delighted that businesses certified to We’re Good To Go can also automatically register for the WTTC’s global Safe Travels stamp, recognising the standard of protocols and processes we have in place in the UK. This is also testament to the hard work and commitment of tens of thousands of businesses right across the country who have adapted and innovated to safely meet new ways of working and are already ‘good to go’,” said Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain.

“This international stamp sitting alongside our We’re Good To Go mark also serves to reinforce that ‘ring of confidence’ for visitors that UK tourism businesses, attractions and destinations have clear processes in place to welcome them back safely as travel restrictions can be lifted.”



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Coronavirus: Guide dogs sit, stay while COVID-19 restrictions in place


TORONTO —
The pandemic has changed the way we shop, work and act over the last year, and it’s not only humans who have had to make changes, guide dogs are also being impacted by COVID-19.

Training guide dogs is long and complicated, it not only involves teaching the dogs commands, but how to avoid and handle distractions. Before the pandemic, taking a guide dog outside and to such places as train stations, libraries, stores and other public spaces would be a form of distraction training, but now it’s another story.

“That’s part of the challenge, is finding spaces for the dogs to get trained,” Beverly Crandell, CEO of Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.

Even guide dogs are turning to e-learning. To help guide dogs learn to deal with distractions, they’re using apps like Skype and Zoom.

“We’re finding creative ways to get the dogs trained,” said Crandell.

What would normally be group sessions have become one-on-one, she added.

It’s not only the dogs that are getting different training, but their soon-to-be handlers have also made some changes.

“Some of our clients have to defer their training,” Crandell told CTV’s Your Morning.

Normally, a residency program sees clients spending from one to three weeks living at a facility where they get to know their guide dog. Due to coronavirus restrictions, they’re not able to do that now.

“Handlers being able to work with the dogs is critical to their success,” she said.

But, they’re not letting the pandemic slow them down too much.

“We’re ready to go, as soon as restrictions lift we are ready to go full speed ahead.”



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Tamil family to stay on Christmas Island after Federal Court upholds previous ruling over youngest child’s immigration status


Lawyers for the family are now calling on the Federal Government to immediately release the family from detention.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their Australian-born daughters Kopika, 5, and Tharunicaa, 3, had been living in Biloela in central Queensland, but in 2018 immigration officials transferred them to a Melbourne detention centre.

They remain in detention on Christmas Island off Western Australia after a last-minute injunction on an attempt to deport them to Sri Lanka.

Last year, the Federal Court ruled Tharunicaa was denied “procedural fairness” in an assessment by the Federal Government and ordered the Commonwealth to pay legal costs of more than $200,000.

The Federal Government appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court, and on Tuesday the court ruled that Justice Mark Mochinsky’s original ruling stands.

A separate appeal brought by the family was also rejected.

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Is there a place for morality in ‘brothely’ places where US soldiers stay?


How long will Germany remain Europe’s “brothel”? The answer is very simple, but German politicians and news hounds will not like it.

Benefits for prostitution during pandemic in Germany

In Germany, prostitution has been legalized since 2002, but calls to criminalize it can be heard frequenty.

Deutsche Welle (DW) wrote on the subject in the article “Will Germany remain the brothel of “Europe?” The newspaper quotes Bundestag deputy from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) Leni Breymaier, who is outraged by the fact that brothels that have been closed for a year receive state assistance during the pandemic.


“The state must not support brothels in which women are forced into prostitution by giving taxpayer money to criminals,” she said.


This and other critical statements made by the politician have led to about 20 lawsuits from as many as 50 brothel owners from all over Germany.

The northern model of prostitution

Breymaier, who considers voluntary prostitution something unreal, is a champion of the so-called northern model of its criminalization in Scandinavian countries, where it is clients, but not prostitutes, who can be brought to criminal account.

In 2014, the European Parliament passed a resolution recommending that member states implement the Scandinavian model.


Sweden was the first to have implemented it 20 years ago while Norway, Iceland, Finland, England, France and Italy followed its example. Similar laws on prostitution are in effect in Canada and Israel.

Prostitution enjoys strong lobby in Germany


“The more countries decide (to implement this model), the stronger the pressure on Germany will be,” said the SPD politician.


In Germany, a law has been in effect since 2017 to “improve working conditions” for women involved in this “profession.” There are about 40,000 of them according to official reports, although the actual number ranges from 200,000 to one million, DW points out.

This is due to the fact that Germany allows Eros Centers, where “women of the night” can rent their own rooms for the day and there is no “madam” involved. Therefore, many supporters of sex for money in Germany believe that legalizing this “business” is of little use as long as the majority of prostitutes continue working illegally.

So far, no party represented in the Bundestag has included a ban on the purchase of sexual services in its program, DW states.


“Prostitution and sex industry has a strong and vocal lobby,” Breymaier said.


A number of organizations also oppose the criminalization of prostitution in the country:


  • the Council of German Women,

  • the Organization for the Fight against AIDS,

  • the German Bar Association and others.

Those organisations believe that such a move will only harm women in the “industry.”

“There are women who work and make money as prostitutes at their own discretion. Instead of criminalizing sexual services, one should take measures to improve working and living conditions of women involved in this profession,” organisations said in a joint statement.

Prostitution thrives wherever U.S. army bases are located

There are about 45,000 US troops stationed in Germany. One of the largest red-light districts in the world used to be located near the now closed Rhein-Main airbase. Brothels near US bases in Baumholder and Kaiserslautern do not complain either.

As long as the US army stays in Germany, state assistance to prostitution will be guaranteed. After all, Germany needs to try hard to help its allies relieve their sexual tension not to provoke acts of unsatisfied aggression.

On the other hand, US media will continue making references to historical promiscuity of the Germans, and how the Nazi party decided during the 1920s that there was a place for brothels in the society, they just had to be under their control. One can already come across materials like that on The Culture Trip, for example.

Germany is not alone in its experience. The Philippines, South Korea, Colombia and many other countries, where US army bases are located, can be referred to as “brothely” countries.

The “Scandinavian model” will go down in history as soon as Sweden and Finland join NATO and station the American contingent on their territories. Norway may wish to expand the presence of American soldiers. For the time being, it goes about only 700 rotational marines. Those countries may also invent a cover for prostitution, like Japan did, where prostitution is illegal, but there is the “cult of geisha”.

It just so happens that high morality does not exist in places, where US soldiers stay.

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Tasmania’s smallest schools justified their existence 10 years ago — was the fight to stay open worth it?


For Penelope Smith, multitasking is a necessity.

Ms Smith is a teacher at Natone Primary School, in Tasmania’s north-west.

It is one of Tasmania’s smallest schools, with 26 students split into two classes.

She takes the grade three to six class.

But she is not your average classroom teacher. Ms Smith is also the school principal and music teacher.

“I really like the engagement with students and staff on a day-to-day basis and I also really love the fact that you prioritise the administration tasks that are really important to students learning,” she said.

Penelope Smith believes teachers at small schools can better cater to children’s specific needs.(ABC News: Erin Cooper)

She said the benefits of a small school to a child’s education were clear.

“As a classroom teacher you can spend more time giving individual support to individual children, specific to what their needs are,” Ms Smith said.

“You can do that in a larger class but in a smaller class you have a bit more time to spend on that.”

Primary school aged children fly kites.
Parents of students who attend small schools tend to be much more involved, one expert says.(ABC News: Erin Cooper)

Natalie Brown, the director at the Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment, agreed there were advantages to small schools.

“One of the biggest advantages of small schools is they are very close to their community, so parents tend to be much more involved,” Professor Brown said.

“Positive engagement of parents in learning is something that is really powerful in education.

“That’s really powerful and extends learning beyond the school gates.”

Ten years ago, the future of Tasmania’s smallest schools was in doubt when, in a bid to save money, the Labor-Green government slated the closure of 20 small schools — 16 of those primary schools.

It sparked the Save Our Schools campaign, led by local communities.

Map of Tasmania showing locations of two primary schools.
Natone and Collinsvale Primary Schools are two of Tasmania’s smallest schools.(ABC News: Paul Yeomans)

Collinsvale Primary School Association chair Malcolm O’Day joined the 2011 protests.

“It was a time of a lot of uncertainty that’s for sure. We had planned out our daughter’s schooling the year before and all of a sudden we didn’t know if it was going to be at this school or not,” Mr O’Day said.

He said a lot of parents in the community thought the same way.

“The school is sort of the hub of the community, so it was fairly important to a lot of people that it stayed open,” he said.

Man stands in front of school playground with weatherboard building in background.
Collinsvale Primary School Association chair Malcolm O’Day helped save the school from closure 10 years ago.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Since 2011, school closures have occurred. Those decisions were made by the communities involved.

But 10 years on, some still believe the closure of small schools is a discussion that needs to be had.

Independent economist Saul Eslake said it remained hard to prove whether the high running costs of small schools impacted the educational outcomes of students right across the system.

“But it is unarguable that Tasmania spends more per government school student than any other state and despite that achieves poorer outcomes,” Mr Eslake said.

“That isn’t specifically because we have a higher than average number of small schools, but [because] small schools mean that a relatively bigger part of the education budget is absorbed by fixed costs such as the cost of a principal or providing ground staff that are spread over a smaller amount of students,” he said.

Primary school aged children work in classroom.
Collinsvale Primary School has just 52 children, among them this composite class of year two and three students.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Professor Brown said it was important not to underestimate the value of small towns in the fabric of society.

“Some of these communities are really important to Tasmania,” she said. “Farming communities, other communities are contributing to Tasmania and to the economic prosperity of Tasmania.”

‘We’re all equipped to protect our school’

Collinsvale Primary School student Rex McDonald is one of the beneficiaries of the Save Our Schools campaign. He attends the school with his little sister Audrey, who is in kindergarten.

The school has 52 students and employs three full-time teachers, plus one on a part-time basis. Another three specialist teachers work there one or two days a fortnight.

“We’ve got a really strong family connection [to the school] because my husband went there and so did his siblings, so it’s really special.”

Rex’s teacher, Larissa Reason, is new to the school, but has worked in even smaller schools before.

Woman carrying toddler walks with two primary school aged children dressed in uniform.
The McDonalds have a strong family connection with Collinsvale Primary School.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Not many teachers would know how to use a fire pump, but she does.

“The teachers here, on our pupil-free days at the beginning of the year, all learned how to use the fire pump,” she said.

She said while small schools had advantages, there were also challenges.

“You don’t have other teachers on the same level to compare the curriculum or to compare your class with, which at times can be a little bit worrying,” she said.

“Getting relief teachers is a challenge. If someone is sick it can be difficult to fill that body which is away, which can impact us at times.”

Primary school aged children jump off log in bush reserve.
Schools are often seen as the hub of smaller communities.(ABC News: Erin Cooper)

Technology could help bridge divide

Professor Brown said another challenge small schools faced was a lack of specialised subjects and programs.

But the pandemic has given them confidence to experiment with technology — something that is already benefiting small schools.

“During COVID we actually found out that we’re pretty good at using technology and coming up with innovative ways that we can collaborate and we can work with each other,” Professor Brown said.

Ms Smith said technology had proven to be a powerful tool.

“We had a grade six student last year who worked with a teacher based in Hobart,” she said.

“[That student] really flourished with that opportunity.”

The NBN rollout is complete, but Ms Reason said gaining internet access could still be tricky in rural Tasmania.

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Terrorist Abdul Benbrika to stay in jail, High Court rules



The High Court has upheld a law keeping convicted terrorist Abdul Nacer Benbrika in jail, beyond his original sentence.

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My fiancé wants me off the deed and mortgage to our new home. If I don’t agree, he says we’ll stay engaged forever


Dear Moneyist,

My fiancé — or should I say eternal fiancé because he never wants to get married — recently shocked me when he flatly stated that he wants me off the mortgage and deed to our newly purchased waterfront home. We have lived there for a year and pay 50/50 on everything. He didn’t want to debate or talk about buying me out, he was more insistent and will not budge.

This happened following a conversation I instigated and in which I suggested we see an attorney to have a will drawn up, in case one of us passes away. The house is appreciating in value daily due to its location (it’s worth $50,000 more already) and he wants his children to inherit it. He wants me to pay rent, which essentially leaves nothing for my children.


‘I moved from another state and sold my beautiful home to be with this man. He sacrificed nothing.’

I didn’t want out prior to the conversation. I still love him, but I wanted to live a committed life where we were building a future together living in the same home. I feel like it is a slap in the face. I am shocked and brokenhearted and he is making me feel that I am making it all about me. I already gave up my dream of marriage.

He said that if I don’t want to pay rent, we can live in separate houses and continue to date eternally, which to me sounds completely like a huge step backwards. I am a hard-working person with a very good credit rating, and I always pay my half of the mortgage a month in advance. He thinks I am unreasonable.

I moved from another state and sold my beautiful home to be with this man. He sacrificed nothing. If I buy my own home, I doubt if he would stay overnight at my home. I just feel that his decision was influenced by money. I hate the way he is making me feel emotionally unstable and insecure because I disagree with him.

What should I do now?

Fiancée

Dear Fiancée,

Asking you to both quit-claim your share of the property to your husband and take yourself off the mortgage — assuming the bank would even allow that, which is far from a given — is unreasonable. Using a wedding ring and your clear desire to get married as leverage is despicable.

I disagree with you on one salient point: not getting married to this man after such a long engagement would be a huge step forward, as long as you take one more leap forward to freedom, with exactly 50% of this home that you purchased together.


Let me introduce you to the sunk cost fallacy.

Let me introduce you to the sunk cost fallacy: You spend an hour waiting for a bus so you wait another hour rather than taking a taxi. Or you sink $100,000 into a bad investment so you spend another $100,000 to keep it afloat because otherwise that first $100,000 would be wasted.

This is the dilemma you face with your fiancé. Let’s start with dropping the term. It doesn’t mean anything, except the promise of something happening that has not happened and is unlikely to happen and, I hope, with the right support, you agree would be a disaster for you if it did happen.

If this is how he treats you and your relationship now, imagine how he would treat you if you signed over your half of the house? Imagine how he would treat you if you did get married, heaven forbid. A girlfriend or wife who pays rent on a home she used to co-own?

Whatever social contract you signed up to by becoming engaged has now been broken by his indecent proposal. If this house is rising in value, I suggest you both rent it out, live separately, and show him that what he thinks you want you don’t want anymore. Or else sell the home.


Whatever social contract you have signed has been broken.

Did he need you to co-sign this mortgage, or is this just a random change of heart? Either way, stop calling him your fiancé for the purposes of this dilemma, and just view him as another human being who is offering you a bad deal, and using emotion to get it over the line.

If he tries to woo you back, remember this is who he is. People don’t change. A partner who would make such a suggestion won’t change who he is, he will merely put up a different type of wallpaper and move the furniture around to make you think everything is shiny and new.

You stayed with this man not because you wasted years but because it took the amount of time it took to learn what it was you were supposed to learn from this experience. Among the lessons: You deserve a good relationship, and you are able to face life on your own.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

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Brisbane Lions hold Gold Coast Suns to lowest score in AFLW history, North Melbourne beat St Kilda to stay unbeaten



The Brisbane Lions have consigned the Gold Coast Suns to the AFLW’s lowest score in a 63-point Q-Clash drubbing.

Best-on-ground Jesse Wardlaw and Dakota Davidson both kicked four goals for the Lions in the 10.5 (65) to 0.2 (2) win on Sunday at Hickey Park in Brisbane.

Earlier, North Melbourne were short of their best but still good enough to beat an impressive St Kilda team at Arden Street.

The Suns’ two points eclipsed Richmond’s three-point effort last season as the lowest score in the competition’s fifth season.

Brisbane, who drew with the Suns in last year’s inaugural QClash, registered 21 marks inside 50 to the Suns’ one as they improved to 2-0 and the Suns’ dropped a second-straight game.

Sophie Conway, Nat Grider, Lauren Arnell and Greta Bodey (two goals) were all dominant for the hosts as they notched their highest AFLW score.

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Conway gained 364 metres from her 13 possessions, most of which hit targets.

Wardlaw had a hand in two other goals to win the QClash medal, while Arnell weaved her magic down the left flank and the Lions’ defence intercepted whenever called upon.

The Lions led by 15 in their inaugural QClash last season but did not kick a second-half goal as they split the points with the Suns in a Queensland derby cliffhanger.

There were no signs of a repeat on Sunday though, Wardlaw kicking her second to begin the third quarter to end any hopes of a comeback.

Meanwhile, premiership favourites North continued their perfect start to the AFLW season on Sunday by accounting for the Saints by 26 points at Arden Street.

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The Saints made it hard for the Kangaroos in the first three quarters, but North gradually wore down St Kilda’s resistance before winning 5.6 (36) to 1.4 (10).

As they did to Geelong last week, the Kangaroos kept the Saints goalless in three quarters, including a scoreless second half, to start their season 2-0 for the second time in three years.

North have now conceded just 19 points in two games in 2021.

Compounding the result for the Saints was Bianca Jakobsson taking no part in the second half with what appeared to be a badly corked back, just three weeks after breaking her collarbone.

AAP

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Melbourne’s five ultimate city staycations for a post-lockdown stay


As a blow-in to Melbourne two decades ago, a new-found friend welcomed me to my adopted city with a local’s guide in the form of a photocopied map on which each important place of the CBD was neatly marked in pencil.

During that grey winter wandering the laneways and surrounding parks, comfort eating at the likes of crowd favourites Pellegrini’s Italian, Stalactites Greek and various dumpling houses, that increasingly dog-eared map, now long gone, was a gift that helped me form an enduring friendship with the city.

This is the city which just last year attracted almost 14 million visitors, 2.9 million from overseas, and which has, for the best part of this year, been shuttered up and without its all-important ingredient – its people.

So while the rest of Victoria seems to be celebrating the end of one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, driving beyond the so-called ring of steel to reunite with friends, family, the forest and the sea, I’ve chosen to catch up on some cushy places much closer to home.

I’ve headed off to celebrate this new joyous, albeit cautious, COVID-19 reality with the ultimate city staycation – five nights at five of Melbourne’s best hotels, every one as different as the last, but all going above and beyond with health and safety practices.

However there will be the occasional appearance at home so the family won’t forget my face (though after months homebound together I guess that’s unlikely).

And while I admit that almost a week tucked in for some of the time beneath high-thread count Egyptian sheets is hardly an exercise in altruism, I’m hoping that it will be a demonstration of how we can all re-engage with our city and help its hard-hit hospitality sector which has been hit for six.

THE HOTEL

UNITED PLACES, SOUTH YARRA

United Places, South Yarra.

United Places, South Yarra.

What better way to emerge from lockdown and move beyond that five-kilometre limit than by slipping into a true boutique hotel opposite the Royal Botanic Gardens. There are just 12 suites and no lobby abuzz with phones and people. Instead, a quiet battened corridor inside this sandblasted concrete and bronze trim hotel by Carr Design Group leads to the most soothing of suites. Hotelier Darren Rubenstein’s devotion to creativity and sustainability extends to an artist in residence program, compostable toothbrushes and rainwater harvesting.

THE STAYCATION

There are no sharp edges in this suite that overlooks the gardens. The bathroom, a mirrored pod in the centre of the room, manages privacy and a double shower. An automated velvet curtain cocoons the sleeping area at bedtime and the velvet Redondo sofa by Patricia Urquiola – its gentle curves inspired by the American cars of the 50s and 60s – is the ideal place to watch runners circle the Tan track. Favoured by international guests, today the hotel is fully booked with locals whose homes are not more than 15 kilometres away, including the couple who have cycled in and another who have eloped on the first weekend out of lockdown. From the hand-loomed organic fair trade Turkish throws to the ride in from home in a BMW X5 plug-in hybrid, also available for use during a stay, this is a carefully considered place to escape. All that’s left to do is to immerse yourself in a most luxurious home away from home.

WHAT THEY SAY TO DO

Sure, you can take a casual stroll through the gardens or you can take your relaxation up a notch, and join a Forest Therapy (Shinrin-yoku) session in which a trained guide helps guests tune into their senses and surrounding nature and focus their minds. The two-hour sessions, a recognised public health practice in Asia and Europe, are run by the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, In My Nature and the International Nature and Forest Therapy Alliance and are exclusive to hotel guests.

WHAT WE SAY TO DO

While there’s priority booking at ground floor restaurant Matilda 159 by Scott Pickett, opt for in-room dining which on this balmy night is served on the spacious balcony. The clink of glasses and chatter of guests below is a delightful, perfectly socially distanced way to re-enter the world, or another suburb at least. Back it up the next day with lunch at Gilson, a few doors along from United Places.

THE DETAILS

From $390 a night. United Places 157 Domain Road, South Yarra. Phone (03) 9866 6467. See unitedplaces.com.au

OVOLO LANEWAYS, CITY

Ovolo Laneways

Ovolo Laneways Photo: Supplied

Donning my mask (remember when they were compulsory outside?) the St Kilda Road walk takes me past the Shrine of Remembrance and smaller tributes worth pausing for, including the striking stainless steel Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial. I pass The Forum Theatre, with its Moorish revival exterior complete with minarets and gargoyles and head into the normally buzzing laneways to the hotel of 43 rooms, which is tucked away at the Spring Street end of Little Bourke Street, just around the corner from the Princess Theatre and Parliament House. In keeping with its sister hotels around the world, Laneways embraces its unique location which means guests can too. Four-legged friends are also welcome. As I’ve checked in, a French bulldog and two dachshunds have just checked out. Even canines need a staycation after what Melbourne’s been through these past months.

THE STAYCATION

Behind the bright blue door of the appropriately named OMG Terrace, there’s enough room to swing a disco ball; fortunate as that’s what’s on the kitchen bench alongside a greeting note of “Yo J, enjoy yo’ stay.” With two double bedrooms, cushions for days and chalk art depicting the number 96 tram headed to St Kilda beach, it’s a fun space. Take a drink from the fully stocked all-inclusive fridge onto the private terrace for city views. If the fun factor needs to be dialled up, check in at the penthouse next door which houses a pinball machine and outdoor terrace with spa. The social hour in the lobby, where breakfast is also served, has been COVID modified. At unsocial hour every day, a drinks trolley will arrive at guests’ doors.

WHAT THEY SAY TO DO

Join an exclusive and ever evolving street art tour with Blender Studios and finish at the hub in West Melbourne that hosts the 24-plus street artists and fine artists. Or let Spring Street Grocer around the corner pack a hamper and head to Carlton, Treasury or Fitzroy gardens, each under a 10-minute walk for a picnic.

WHAT WE SAY TO DO

You’re already in the heart of the city’s laneways so cast aside Google Maps for once and stick to anything with the words Little or Lane attached. My wanderings through ChinaTown take me past Amphlett Lane and artwork featuring the iconic schoolgirl uniform of Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett; old school barbers Vince and Dom displaying photos of celebrity clients, including a young Barry Humphries; and the Kuo Ming Tang building, built as a pair of shops in 1903 with a facade redesigned by American architect Walter Burley Griffin. The only upside to a quiet city is that there’s a seat without a booking at Hu Tong Dumpling Bar in Market Lane for vegetable dumplings and a prime view of the dumpling maker behind glass. Melbourne, I’ve missed you.

THE DETAILS

Ovolo Laneways 19 Little Bourke St, Melbourne. Rooms from $249 a night. Phone (03) 8692 0777. See ovolohotels.com hutong.com.au

THE LANGHAM, SOUTHBANK

The Langham Melbourne

The Langham 

It’s a warm welcome from staff in the grand marble lobby area of fountains, chandeliers and plenty of room for social distancing. This hotel of 388 rooms, just off the Southbank Boulevard, continues to exude glamour as well as its distinctive ginger flower scent, with notes of lilac and violet (take a bottle home to keep your staycation alive). One will not be getting on the beers at the Aria Bar but the hotel’s celebration cocktail is in order.

THE STAYCATION

It’s been a long time between day spas but the hotel’s ethereal Chuan spa helps make up for lost time. And a massage wearing a face mask is preferable to no massage at all, right? For COVID-safe dining, Melba’s popular buffet is, for the moment, buffet to table, with plates of freshly sliced sashimi and five-spiced duck pancakes swiftly served. The teens are in tow and are delighted to have a change of scenery, even with the olds present. We choose in-room dining from an expanded post-COVID menu that ranges from eggplant curry to king george whiting to the classic club sandwich, as we watch the four seasons in one day unfold over the Yarra and the trains slide in and out of Flinders Street Station.

WHAT THEY SAY TO DO

For families with younger children, a camp-out stay includes an in-room play tent, mini bathrobes and backpacks filled with activities. Or take a cruise in the hotel’s pink water taxi along the Yarra up to Toorak or down into Docklands that includes a picnic lunch, dessert and sparkling wine.

WHAT WE SAY TO DO

There is more to see and hear beyond the familiar five kilometre lockdown limit. The new Six Walks downloadable audio is narrated by Melbourne-based writers who each talk about an area of significance to them. They include Christos Tsiolkas’ 25-minute loop, Silver Screens, among the city’s laneways (adult themes) and 30 minutes with Eleanor Jackson in the arts precinct .

THE DETAILS

From $345 a night. The Langham, 1 Southgate Avenue, Southbank; Phone (03) 8696 8888. See langhamhotels.com acca.melbourne

THE HOTEL

THE PRINCE, ST KILDA

The Prince, St Kilda

The Prince, St Kilda Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts at St Kilda treasure the Prince of Wales. Its dining and sleeping spaces are now reconnected thanks to a new internal staircase where the original was believed to be. The Prince Public Bar, remodelled in art deco style, first opened in 1937 and is one of the city’s longest standing LGBTQIA-friendly venues. It has been reborn thanks to a large oval island bar with a subtle rainbow glass surround and restored original floor tiles. There’s also newcomer Little Prince Wine with its underground cellar and private tastings. That staircase leads to 39 rooms and the dining room where famed photographs of Bon Scott and Angus Young by Rennie Ellis grace the walls.

THE STAYCATION

It’s hardly rock ‘n roll, but an early night in this suite of brass pendants and pastel drapes, stretched out in a Jardan armchair, suits me just fine. Overlooking the boulevard with its distinctive palm trees and beach beyond and hearing the ding of trams on Fitzroy Street below, there’s no mistaking the location. If you’re ever going to have breakfast in the front bar of a pub this is the place.

WHAT THEY SAY TO DO

Discover how St Kilda’s fortunes waxed and waned through the centuries with the help of true local and professional photographer and banjo player Daniel Bornstein on a private walking tour of the busy esplanade and quieter streets. Spot important places of the First Peoples of Port Phillip, and the boom architecture including mansions of ruby glass and ornate iron lace work said to be built from ship ballast. In harder times these standouts became boarding houses. One such mansion, Linden New Art, is open to the public and this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Postcard Show, a competition for small artworks. Nearby Point Ormond, Elwood, became Victoria’s quarantine station in 1840 after the ship the Glen Huntly arrived from Scotland flying the yellow fever flag. We finish with 100-year-old Polish cheesecake at Bornstein’s favourite European-Jewish bakery on Acland Street.

WHAT WE SAY TO DO

The vast open beer garden with market umbrellas and hanging lights that’s opened on the rooftop of The Prince is the stuff of lockdown fantasy, with Brick Lane beers on tap and Nagambie 3608 Gin cocktails. Serving pizza and picnics, the rooftop is child and dog friendly. No bookings required. What will need to be booked is Random International’s Rain Room, on the Prince rooftop for summer and an installation in which visitors navigate a torrential downpour.

THE DETAILS

Rooms from $209 a night. The Prince Hotel 2 Acland St, St Kilda; Phone (03) 9536 1111. See theprince.com.au localingtours.com jackalopehotels.com

THE HOTEL

LANCEMORE CROSSLEY ST, CITY

Lancemore Crossley St

Lancemore Crossley St

I’m back in the theatre district where the curtains are up on the city’s newest hotel which just opened on December 1 and I’m embracing the neighbourhood’s performance pedigree. Carr Design Group is behind the new hotel which features an upturned chandelier rescued from Georges Department Store above a circular banquette, making a dramatic centrepiece for its communal – or onstage – areas. While offstage, guests retreat to one of 113 rooms.

THE STAYCATION

Stay offstage in your plush room of leather seats, sheer room dividing curtains and intriguing photographs by Andre Donadio of humans at the theatre wearing animal masks (reality has an intricate connection with the oneiric world, says Donadio). In a rare and refreshing occurrence, the mini-bar is stocked with local spirits, beer and wine at retail prices. The hotel welcomes you to take your drink in a cut crystal glass to the rooftop terrace of daybeds, lounges and an open fire.

WHAT THEY SAY TO DO

Head underground to the neon-lit Bodega with more than 70 bottles of mezcaleria and tacos. A few doors up and Daughter in Law Indian has an outdoor “parklet” extending the dining area, compliments of a pandemic. In-room or rooftop dining from neighbours Longrain Thai and Ginger Boy, south-east Asian is yet another initiative borne out of COVID-19. Banquet dinners delivered to the hotel are plated up and serve to guests in-suite or on the rooftop terrace.

WHAT WE SAY TO DO

After the year that’s been, it’s high time to take a moment and a SLOW (sensory laneway orientation walk) is a salve. Led by Fiona Sweetman, of Hidden Secrets Tour, we pause at the rear of the Wesley Church on Lonsdale Street with its ancient olive tree and navigate a quiet laneway to the sounds of lyrebirds. Part of the charm of this normally bustling city is the fact that heritage buildings saved from the wrecking ball sit next to new builds, says Sweetman. “It’s what keeps us positive and what keeps us global. Take a moment to really see the space, enjoy its textures, the nostalgia and memories lost, or yet to be made,” Sweetman says .”This city needs its people and its visitors back.”

THE DETAILS

Lancemore Crossley St, 51 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne.

Rooms from $269 a night; Phone (03) 9639 1639. See lancemore.com.au; hiddensecretstours.com

Check with individual operators regarding opening times.

The writer stayed as a guest of the hotels and Visit Victoria www.visitvictoria.com

traxxstaycation
Adina Apartment Hotel, Southbank

Adina Southbank

FIVE NEW FACES ON THE BLOCK

ADINA SOUTHBANK

On the intersection of Southbank Boulevard and City Road, the apartment hotel has a glass curtain facade, floor to ceiling windows in every room and an impressive light-filled pool area. The Bates Smart 220-room property of Cross Laminated Timber is a fifth of the weight of concrete and said to be the world’s tallest engineered timber extension. From $159 a night. 99 City Road, Southbank. See adinahotels.com

W HOTEL MELBOURNE

The finishing touches are being put on this hotel of 294 guest rooms including four wow suites and four restaurants. Damon Page, who has been at the helm of W properties in the Maldives and Hong Kong, returns to his home city to run the hotel which opens in February. From $369 a night. 408 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. See marriott.com

VIBE HOTEL, CITY

On the corner of Queen and Flinders Streets, 206 rooms rise above the Renaissance-style building that was once the headquarters of Fletcher Jones. From $143 a night. 1 Queen Street, Melbourne. See vibehotels.com

ELEMENT, RICHMOND

Element Melbourne Richmond. Offers 163-rooms, is pet-friendly, close to the Yarra and has bike hire for guests. Rooms from $169 a night. 588 Swan Street, Richmond. Phone (03) 9112 8888. See marriott.com

OVOLO, SOUTH YARRA

Set in the heart of South Yarra at the intersection of Toorak Road and Chapel Street and opening early 2021, it will have 123 rooms and suites. Check rates closer to opening. 230 Toorak Road, South Yarra. See ovolohotels.com



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