I know that this is mainly a weekly blog but I'm on leave for a week and its good to kick back, read a little, write a little, eat a little and drink a little.
One of my favourite presents this Christmas came from Sue - its a book titled "Cycling's Golden Age". It is a superb account of the cycling legends from 1946 to 1967. The forward is written by Belgium cyclist, Eddy Merckx. Many of the pictures capture scenes from France, Italy and Belgium.
You may have noticed that the Bathing Boxes have been replaced by a night scene of Melbourne as our header (well, one of my readers kindly noticed and made mention of it). I should explain firstly that it is not taken by me but borrowed from Wikipedia and so is the one below.
The scene is of area known as Southbank and the river running through the city is called the Yarra.
Looking down on Melbourne CBD you see Southbank to the right hand side of the Yarra. To the left is the famous Flinders Street Station where people meet "under the clocks".
Before British settlement, the area now called South Melbourne was a series of low lying swamps inhabited by Aboriginal tribes.
From British settlement the area which is now Southbank consisted of some old factories, warehouses and wharves mostly built between the 1860s-1920s when the area was part of the first port of Melbourne. It had a few old bridges, the first being the first Princes Bridge and later the Sandridge Bridge which was formerly part of the Port Melbourne railway line from 1888 to 1987, and the Arts centre precinct which opened in the 1980s on a former parkland.
The suburb was the subject of urban renewal in the early 1990s aimed at stimulating development in a period when Melbourne was experiencing an economic downturn.
Its 7.00 am and the Bayside Bandidos meet for their traditional Boxing Day breakfast at Southbank and to shed a few calories gained from the previous Christmas Day feast.
That's Stats, Nico and Dancing - Hummm, not their real names, but then none of the group do have real names. We also have an Elvis and a Mavis (big bloke).
Every year on Boxing day my cycling friends do a traditional ride to Southbank for breakfast and just take in the serenity of the Yarra river. There's not many people around at 8.00 am when we arrive. The weather was just perfect with clear skies and a very slight wind. My cycling friends are called "the Bayside Bandidos - Mid-Life Cycling Gang" and range from their 30s to 60s. Its a great group of people and we have had some fantastic cycling adventures over the last 10 years.
The boys and girls await their coffee and raisin toast.
Southbank has progressed from an area of warehouses, factories and slum housing to the tourist precinct of today. I'm old enough to remember some of the area before redevelopment.
New Years Eve will see 1000s of people along both banks of the Yarra to wish in the New Year and view the fireworks at midnight. Some will take in the more rural stretches of the Yarra River seen below.
Some people prefer this part of the Yarra River to Southbank. It meanders from the hills of its source and through the country-side before reaching Southbank and the Melbourne CBD. At this point in the country, the river is fresh and clean. It is home to Platypus, trout. Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats can occasionally be seen along its banks. Some of my early cycling days were in the upper Yarra district.
Christmas and Boxing day have now drifted in to 2009 history and its only a few more days before we start a new decade. I've always felt that each new year is a good year.