Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Walhalla - 2 hours from Melbourne

I remember in my early 20s of going to Walhalla - it was not a tourist town back then and you could buy a land and house by just paying up the back rates on a deserted property. There was a cricket ground formed by the locals by flattening out the top of a hill with picks and shovels. I remember a folklore story of a funeral where the coffin was dragged to the hilltop cemetary but the coffin didn't make it so rather than going back down the hill to retrieve the coffin, the locals decided to open the keg and celebrate until the next morning.
Today Walhalla is a delightful gold mining town, restored for weekend travellers to bask in its past history.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

How Important is a Weekend?

That's an interesting question. My father Jack who is 94 rides an exercise bike Monday to Friday - Why?
That way he knows that after Friday, the weekend starts.
I guess that for retirees, weekends really don't exist - its just one whole weekend for the whole week - BLISS.
Jack knows when his weekend starts - rides only Monday to Friday
I heard people say, why retire? - what would you do with your time?????? You have to be joking!
I can't stack everything I want to do into our weekends. Sue and I occasionally use my Friday off (transition to retirement) to take a day trip, have lunch together, discover new places and plan the house renovation. That's after my Friday morning ride. This Friday I had the Citroen C4 brakes replaced, had my handyman talk about rebuilding the front fence. I sanded all the skirting boards in the dining room for undercoating on the Saturday. The first coats of gloss were on the woodwork on Saturday arvo.



Saturday night we were invited to a Creedance Clearwater revival band concert - they were really good and we enjoyed a great night with friends. BUT, it was a late night and Sunday morning was an early start for an organised ride in the hills with 400 other riders that had entered the 110 kms Whittlesea Challenge.
Look at me - yes, that's me in black 400 odd people, very odd.
We are off under the banner and we returned 
Murchinson gap is a climb with an average of 10%. I was more intrigued by the bush letterboxes at the top. I'm sure that my cycling friends couldn't give a toss. There's beauty in our surroundings and that's why I ride a bike!
In my early years, the area was where we raced however that was over 40 years ago and the hills have become higher and steeper, I'm sure!!! It was brutally cold for us Aussies at 5 degrees with the fog reducing visibility to about 100 metres at the start.

After a Pizza and a Guinness I was ready to come home and spend some time with family, dinner and a few reds. I will sleep well after my 3 day weekend.

I hear Sue calling me to watch "Master Chef Australia" her fave program so we'll all catch up during the week. Bye!
http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/masterchef/episodes Just if you are interested, last week was Marco White and this week is Maggie Beers as guests.
Tell me - how was your weekend.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesdays in France

Last week on Wednesdays in France I mentioned a special village to us, Saint Aignan. We been back there three or four times, I've lost count but we never get tired of returning. Its the people we know and the fact that we are very comfortable in the area now. We know our way around but still discover little areas that capture our imagination.
During last year when in Saint Aignan I discovered a book had been published on the history of the village.
I believe its origins date back to the 1030s but I could be wrong as the book is in French.

This illustration is from 1879 and many of the features here still remain. I've ridden my bike over the bridge that enters the village and up the main street by the church and the Chateau. To the right is a bridge that enters the Chateau. It remains to this day and in in the photo below.


You may be able to pick the streets in this modern day tourist map and compare it to the 1879 engraving above. Not a lot in the streets has changed.

The bridge that enters Saint Aignan across the river Cher may have seen changes however it does look hauntingly similar to the 1879 depiction although the toll houses are no longer there.
Here's two post cards of Saint Aignan that I picked up at a local Brocante last year. They have a lovely script handwriting on the back sent to a Mr George Devoux. They fell out of the book, I'd forgotten I had them.
All this makes us longing for Saint Aignan sur Cher.
I would think that we will return again next year - we hope so.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

HOUSE WORK

What a weekend - with my 4 day week, I thought I'd get stuck into the house thing but Sue decided that she wanted to shop. I don't understand this thing called shopping. Sue wanted to buy new couches that she had seen in a catalogue. Most of our best purchases are on a whim. So a visit to Freedom Furniture ended in the purchase of two 2-seater couches. They should look great in the Lounge room when finished.
Two of these will go in our Lounge room after we have the floors sanded, stained and polished.
So come Saturday and I needed to start pulling down the front fence. We had a quote to rebuild the skeleton, that is the posts and rails with me attaching the existing pickets. The pickets were in reasonably good condition only now needing a quick sanding and a lick of paint. My son Andrew helped with pulling out the nails in the pickets which was an enormous help. I knew his Doctorate in Philosophy would come in handy.
The pickets needed to be removed before being sanded and repainted.
That's a job for number 2 son maybe!!!
Finally after much hard work and blisters, the pickets are removed.
Safely stored for their new life.
While Andrew and I were working outside on a very pleasant Autumn Sunday, Sue was working on her project - the sideboard that previously was a dull black. It will now add a lightness to the dining room when we finish it.
This is Sue's project - don't look at the mess in the Lounge room at this stage. We'll show the finished product in a few weeks. Hasn't she done a fantastic job?
We expect that in the next three weeks we will have the floor sanders in and we can then start living in our Lounge and Dining rooms once again. I can feel an open fire coming on soon as we drop to the depths of winter in the coming weeks. Won't it be nice sitting on the new couches, sipping a glass of port with our coffee in our completed lounge room.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wednesdays in France

A small Chateau we stayed at Tarere last year on the way to the Loire.
The owner's grandfather established the house. The family's modest fortune was generated by the grandfather's pharmacy business. I think he may have been a bit of a snakeskin pharmacist due to the business posters that adorned the breakfast room. Cures for all sorts of ailments.
A very interesting overnight stay.