Sunday, September 30, 2012

No Weekend Post

Well when I say no weekend post - I mean that its been so busy, that I haven't had a chance to actually put something together.
Those who read "Melbourne - Our Home by the Bay" may know that my 91 year old Dad is staying with us, He's kept me on my toes over the last week. My older brother just had a triple by-pass so we went to visit him in hospital and only today at home.

I also had to take Jack to court this Friday because he was driving on a suspended license - How come a 91 year old can be so delinquent. Anyway we got to court and explained the situation which was a mass of confusion on the part of his age.
Modern technology these days puts the aged at a disadvantage. Ring a government institution these days and you need to press a multitude of numbers before you speak to a human voice and sometimes that voice comes from a country outside yours.

The gist of the story is that my Dad gave up on the system and kept driving - and got caught!
I should explain that he had an accident in a car park and the other people thought Jack was too old to drive and called the police. So he needed to have an eyesight and medical report done. This is where he found the system too difficult to cope with.
Come court day he was wondering the size of the fine that might come his way - it could have been anywhere up to $1400. We rolled up with no representation as Dad decided he would just plead guilty and cop a fine. Legal aid was offered and we took the offer.

Finally we made an appearance before the Magistrate - Legal Aid presented my father's case based on information I had given to him. The Magistrate was most impressed that a man of 91 years had only three previous prior offenses over a 73 years of driving.
She said that she was impressed that a man of his amazing longevity had such a good driving record and that he should continue not driving until he had his license back in order.
So he walked from court with a slap on the wrists, and some good advise.
As I walked from the court, I turned to the Magistrate, nodded with a look of gratitude and she offered a kind smile in return. It restored my faith in the legal system.

The following afternoon, Jack, Sue and I joined friends to watch the Australian Rules Football Grand Final with special friends.It had been a good weekend.

Jack with his Grandson Andrew who now lives in London and continuing his studies.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Ramblings

Yep, Jack - that's my Dad. I'm 62, he's 91. Sharp as a tack - cheeky like a teenager - him, not me. He's like a Dorian Gray but much nicer in real life.
He's staying with us for two weeks down from the Gold Coast in Queensland. He's a Melbourne boy but these days, enjoys the warmer climate. Jack gets a bit of a circulation problem in the cold weather and his hands turn purple. When this happens, I call him Jacaranda just like our tree in the backyard that turns purple in spring.

But I digress - this Saturday I put out a notice on Facebook to let people know I was bringing Jack to watch our training session at the Melbourne indoor cycling velodrome. Now I have to tell you, my Dad is a cycling legend. When he was 17 years old, he rode from Melbourne to Sydney for a 100 mile bike race and then rode back home. In those days many of the roads were dirt and his bike only had two gears.

Taken on a recent trip to Queensland to see my father. He loves the warmer climate.
Probably taken in his first year, 1921.
During the years, Jack also had a passion for horses.
Still enjoying the bike at 91. Him, not me!
While I have my father visiting us for two weeks, a fellow blogger, Jean is also spending time with her father at their holiday cottage in the Loire - You can read about her time with her Dad here -

Maybe I'll have a few more stories to tell about Jack before he leaves for Queensland next week.
We have our Australian Rules Football Grand Final on this weekend which is an Australian institution, but not being a footy fan - I say, who wants to live in an Institution?????
Still, I'll enjoy a few cold beers in front of the tellie with my Dad watching the match.....
Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Montmartre was one of those places we never seemed to have experienced in the coming and going of Paris in 2006 and 2008. This particular year (2009) we put it on the list.
It was to include a visit to Sacre Coeur and the Salvador Dali exhibition. Many of you would know that it was a favourite place for artists, poets, writers - home to bohemia and the Moulin Rouge.

What I had read was that the first Bishop of Paris, Saint Denis was beheaded on the hill around 250AD. The area was named Montmarte - Mountain of the Martyr. It is said from what I've read, that after being beheaded after causing disturbances with the Pagan Priests, he bent down, picked up his head and walked to a shrine within 10 ams away while preach a sermon. The final resting place is where the Saint Denis Basilica now sits - the resting place for the Kings of France. But that's another story for the future.

Our visit to the highest point in Paris took us by several some lovely shops, houses and cafes. We decided it would be a good place to rest and have lunch. The place we selected for lunch was very casual with the ceiling covered in post cards, photos and currency from all over the world. I had in my wallet, an early $1.00 note, now long out of circulation. I stapled it to the ceiling and signed my name - I wonder if it is still there today?

On the ceiling of a cafe in Montmartre is my 1970s $1.00 note with my little character drawing of myself. 
A vineyard in the heart of Montmartre.
Lapin Agile - the haunt of paris Bohemia.

Sacre Coeur. 

Looking down from Montmartre to Paris
You know, I don't think you ever get to see all the great delights of Paris, no matter how many times you've been there. I have a friend who has lived there for a decade and yet he hasn't experienced many of the sights that we have. Hmmmmm, it makes me wonder if we ever take the time to become a tourist in our own environment.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Little bit of France in Melbourne.

Friday Foto
Driving home Friday afternoon from work, this bright and chirpy Citroen 2CV  sat outside its home.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

At the Opera House

The Paris Opera House or Palais Garnier was on our list during this visit to Paris. We'd previously passed by, looked around the outside but never ventured inside. This time however we did.
The opulence of the interior is amazing and one could imagine people in their finery of days gone by, coming for a night out at the opera.
I wonder what opening night must have been like. Construction started in 1861 but people waited until 1871 for it to be finished. It was the inspiration of the 1911 novel "Phantom of the Opera" by Leroux and also Andrew Lloyd Webster's adaption as a musical. Sue and I saw it twice in Melbourne and would go again.

And here we were in jeans and sneakers - it just didn't seem quite right. As you enter you are greeted by the Grand Staircase which is illuminated by the many statue and hanging lights. The curved staircase takes you to the next floor. We then walked to the Grand Foyer surrounded either side by a shower of chandeliers. Just over the top!

All paths lead to the Opera House - Not such a busy time when we arrived.
The entry facade.
The Dance by Carpeaux.
The great classical composers look down upon us tourists. Mozart, Beethoven all their mates.

The actual opera area on this day was closed at the time of our visit but we stumbled upon a stairway that took us to the "Gods" seats and had a great view looking down on to the stage and the surrounding seats. I now why people have those funny little opera glasses so they can get a better view of the stage.

Everywhere you looked, there was something to marvel at. Even the ceilings were masterpieces , works of art.
Baron Hausmann was commissioned to clear the area where the Opera house now stands - he demolished much of Paris and established the many grand boulevards of Paris that we now appreciate as the Paris we see today. I'm pleased that Sue and I decided this time to pay the fee to see inside Palais Garnier. So often you can say, "that's too much too pay as an entry fee", but you travel back home, 1000s of kms and miss a unique experience because of an extra few Euros.
We are richer by being poorer.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why do Weekends go so Quickly

Why do weekends go so quickly - Saturday I was in my car to Lorne, a seaside town with a little more than 1000 permanent residents. It was founded during the 1850s and was named after the Marquees of Lorne from Aryleshire, Scotland. I discovered this little piece of trivia from Wikipedia.

Last year I joined some cycling friends to ride the Amy Gillett "Gran Fondo" and we did the same this year. The event swells by more than 4000 riders and of course their support crew of wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and other family members. The roads are are closed for the 110 km course and takes in some of Victoria's most beautiful coastline and inland forests.

Amy was tragically killed while out training with the Women's Australian cycling team while in Germany several years back and the Amy Gillett Foundation has been established in her memory for the betterment of cycling and various charity causes.

I'm afraid that we were so busy that I didn't have time to expand on our weekend, hence this pathetic post.
Which only proves what a great weekend it was.

What's a GRAN FONDO you may well ask! It's just a great lot of fun for 4000 cyclists.
The old Lorne Cinema - still in business to this very day.
And the local Timber and Metal roofed church.

The Lorne Sea Baths where one can enjoy the salt water without sharks and jelly fish!!
I did however sea dolphin frolicking on my arrival along the Great Ocean Rd when arriving at Lorne.
I winter when the residents are no longer joined by the summer holiday makers, one could walk across the street without fear of being run over but with probably the population expanded 10 fold, one needed to be vigilant of not only cars but 1000s of lycra clad Tour d France wannabees.....
It seemed that most cars carried bikes that were valued at the cost of a low mileage second hand car.
An arty farty photo of a seaside tree.
I wish I could have enjoyed Lorne more for you but I've promised Sue that we will return to enjoy a weekend holiday with food and wine experiences we can share with you. It really is a magic place with the coast on one side and the rain forests inland.

Wednesday sees us still in Paris 2009 - see you then.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Funky Friday Foto

We've gone Apple @ Melbourne Our Home by the Bay.
Even the apples have gone Apple.

Taken on our iPhones by Sue
MacBook Pro, iPod, iPad, and now iPhones.
Looks like we love our Apples now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our Week in Paris - 2009

Pere Lachaise was one of our first destinations - it wasn't that far from our apartment in the 11em. We hopped on the Metro which was only a short walk to the entrance. We decided to start from the top end as it would be all downhill from there to the exit.

I think we were on line 3 and alighted from the Metro at Gambetta station. It was in Napoleon's time that Pere Lachaise opened in 1804. Wikipedia tells me that both La Fontaine and Moliere's remains were the first to be transferred there. As more famous people's remains were transferred there, it became the place to rest by the rich and famous.

As you walk the cemetery, you get to view not only the final resting places of the many famous names but also to see some amazing pieces of sculpture. It's almost as much a gallery as it is, a cemetery. The sculptures above the grave sites range from the most intricate works of art of over 200 years to the very Art Deco style tomb of Oscar Wilde. The sculpture above his resting place is covered, literally covered in lip stick kisses.

Other tombs have miniature chapels above them, the size of a phone booth. As we walked among the grave sites with no real plan in mind, we stumbled among some favorite names of politics, the arts and the sciences.
All walks of life have found a place to rest at Pere Lachaise.

In fact, Napoleon declared that all had the right to find a final resting place at Pere Lachaise regardless of race or religion.
As we walked the cobbled pathways, we gave a nod to Jane Avril - I remember the posters of Jane Avril painted by Toulouse Lautrec. Others we passed by were of course Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, Edith Piaf and so many painters around the world that were drawn to Paris as the hub for so many painters over many centuries.
To walk the pathways of Pere Lachaise is to absorb yourself in another side of French history.
Sadly we couldn't find the modest grave of Jim Morrison - lead singer of the Doors.

I was amazed by the fantastic sculptures above the tombs to the extent, I felt I could have been strolling through an art gallery at times.
These little chapels were no bigger than a phone box. Just big enough to offer a prayer to a loved one.
A youth with the family dog, I wonder how young he was - such a short life.
The lip stick kisses on the grave of Oscar Wilde.
I have no idea whom this grave belongs. Was it of the woman draped across it or was she the mourning wife of the man buried here?
It was a quite warm day from memory but with the dappled shadows from the trees overhanging, it was very pleasant.
From the grand........
To the not so grand.

So if you are ever in Paris and not been to Pere Lachaise - put it on your list for a lazy morning or afternoon stroll.
Or - if you have been, leave us a comment on your experience.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Just a Simple Weekend in Melbourne

Bit of a quiet weekend for us - nice for a change. Sue made Vanilla slices, the best I have ever tasted.
Did you have a rude name for these when a child? I couldn't possibly repeat what we called them now that I'm a grown-up.
Anyway, she has her own special recipe and we all love them.

You might note that my laptop has a couple of blokes that look like they may well be singing. They are.
One of them is Neil Finn, a founding member of Crowded House. The other Bloke is Jimmy Barnes, an Aussie-Scot that has become a music icon. On You Tube you can see a series where he invites people into his home studio and reminise their first gig. There's two of those at the end of this post.
We spent our Saturday night sharing you tube selections played thru our Apple TV to the big screen.