Thursday, January 30, 2014

Where Have You Been Lately?

I can't believe our last post was Wednesdays in France this time last week - Life has been so busy lately but a full life is so much rewarding than an empty one so we consider ourselves fortunate. It would be nice though to smell the roses occasionally.

Seen in Marseilles 2012
A church in Thenay, Loire 2010
Standing under a street signed named after one of Italy's most admired cyclists - Viareggio 2006.
What's been happening in the Sims household since last week? You may well ask!!!
Your cycling tragic Blogger has started racing again - I realised that 2014 celebrates 50 years since I took out my first racing licence as a 14 year old budding cyclist. My first race in over 8 months rewarded me with a second place and $40 for the effort. It make me wonder why a 63 year old wants to race against kids that could be my kids, possibly my grand kids. All good fun and pleased to still enjoy the sport that's rewarded me with such great memories and friends.

Just some of the little foodie things for the cycling widow's get together.
Wish I could tell you more but I was pouring drinks and washing up!!!
Last Friday Sue had her girlfriends or maybe I should call them "the Cycling Widows" because their hubbies were in Adelaide South Australia playing on their bicycles during the Tour Down Under. Wish I had been with them but someone was needed to pour drinks and wash up after the girls little soiree.
Mind you, I wouldn't have minded being with the boys but Sue and I have bigger fish to fry with our impending trip to Italy and France starting next September - 10 weeks requires a little of saving of finances and holiday leave.

I think Saturday may have been just Sue and I on the couch watching a nice movie but for the life of me, I couldn't tell you what it was.

My mates returned from the Tour Down Under and there was another gathering of the faithful at the home of one of the cycling widows and what a night it was. Great food, great friends = great times.

And oh yes, did I tell you my son Mitchy rode his bike with a mate from Melbourne to Adelaide, 1000 kms in 9 days for a rock concert. He has sensibly decided on taking a plane home.

Family - Friends - Good Times - Life is Good.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesdays in France

We decided to take a coffee stop at Portiers on our way to the Loire in 2008, our second trip to France. Parking in an underground car park, we emerged to be confronted by this amazing house of worship.

Monday, January 20, 2014

An experiment based on a Monday night dinner

On Monday we caught up with some friends for dinner. One of them is Thai, and she and her partner chose the restaurant. A Thai one in Melbourne. The food was wonderful and an added bonus was the Thai grocer next door. I most certainly wanted to go there after dinner, and our friend generously took charge. She helped me fill my basket. Leon was very patient. I guess he knew there would be food for him from the process!
One of the dishes we had was soft shelled crab in a curry sauce. Apparently it is a very commonly cooked dish, but usually made with fresh, large crabs. Look Moo (our friend) knew how it was made and shared the recipe with me. From the grocer, she ensured I had the correct ingredients. All I had to get later was the crab.
The meal was very experimental as I had little idea of quantity and was a bit sketchy on sequence, but hey....
I have to say that my dish tasted great and quite similar to the restaurant one. I did remember though why I seldom buy crab. It is sooooo messy to eat! Needed a shower by the time we finished and all the slurping! You could never eat it when you were out!
I am definitely going to make it again. But next time will have a try with squid and maybe prawns. 

Garlic and chili, carefully chopped by Leon
This is the special curry powder. Now you know as much as me!
Evaporated milk, oyster sauce and sugar, an egg and that powder. Apparently it is also possible to use fresh milk.
Blue swimmer crabs all cleaned and sectioned
This is the rice cooked. Red cargo rice. It's nutty and delicious.

Crabs and spices

Also it has celery and spring onion
The finished dish
Totally enjoyable - Leon

Friday, January 17, 2014

Frying Friday

Friday @ 7.00 am after a pleasant morning ride.
A Salvadore Dali front page.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Melbourne Melts

We thought Melbourne had missed out on its summer this year. While we were complaining that the warm weather had passed us by, it snuck up from behind with a vengeance. Today's forecast is for 44 degrees and last night it didn't drop below 30 degrees.

Last night also saw storms come through the state with lightning igniting several fires and one person being struck by a bolt of lightning, fortunately surviving.

Yesterday's news reported 250 fires around the state and without any fatalities so far. Several years back we had bush fires that equaled or possibly surpassed any in history for life and property lost. Since then the Government with the Media are more vigilant with their fire plans and getting information to the public.

Let's hope we get through this heat wave with a minimum of drama.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

New Italy

Only arrived back home on Saturday morning at 6.00AM after leaving the Gold Coast 23 hours before. It's a long drive especially when holiday traffic is also coming home to start work on Monday. In actual fact, Carly and I probably drove 3600 kms in 43 hours door to door and back again.

We both had a nap in the passenger seat while the other took the steering wheel. In our trips to France we usually clock up between 2500 to 3500 kms over the six weeks we are there. I was starting to look at hill tops for walled medieval villages on our epic journey to the Gold Coast and back.

Naturally we didn't see any hilltop walled villages as life in Australia since the First Fleet we've not had any of the conflicts such as those in Europe, although WWII did have the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese.
Although we have no Hilltop Villages, we do have New Italy which we stopped at on our journey back home. We'd been on the road for a few hours and our first stop coincided with our arrival at New Italy.
It was an opportunity to view the Museum as well as have our first coffee for the day.

From Wikipedia
In 1882 Italian immigrants from the region of Veneto in northern Italy, most of them survivors of the ill-fated De Rays Expedition, took up a conditional purchase farm of 40 acres (160,000 m2) near Woodburn at what was subsequently known as New Italy. By the mid-1880s, about 50 holdings of an aggregate area of more than 3,000 acres (12 km²) were under occupation, and the Italian population of New Italy has increased to 250. It was a small farming community growing fruits and vegetables including grape vines. The school was opened in 1885 but ceased operation in 1933 due to decreasing enrolments. The New Italy settlers built mud brick houses, a church, school and community hall in traditional style of northern Italy. Due to it remote location the population of settlements was stagnant. In the 1930s a Park of Peace was established to remember the pioneers of the settlement. In the late 1950s the regional significance of the settlement began to be recognised. The Bicentennial Museum was opened in 1989. Following the World Expo in Brisbane in 1988 the Italian government presented the contents of their Expo Pavilion to the New Italy Centenary Committee and the Italian Pavilion at New Italy was opened in May 1993. The Museum presents the history of Italian migration to Australia and the memorabilia from the New Italy settlement.

The pictures below are from the Museum website which can be located through this link;

When we put our journey from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and return in context to the immigrants of New Italy, our little trip becomes insignificant. These early Immigrants from the Veneto region of Italy brought their culture to Australia and we are better for it.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Classic Graffiti on Funky Friday

How can graffiti be classic, you may well ask!!!!
There is someone around Melbourne painting graffiti - in this case on Vic Roads property. The person has been inspired by Australian artist, John Brack.  This piece of graffiti is on a busy intersection and imitates Brack's painting "Collins St 5PM". We need more classic graffiti rather than the mindless tagging that goes on.
What do you think?

Collins Street 5PM - John Brack.

On the Gold Coast in Queensland.

Did I mention that I was in Queensland - maybe I did, the memory gets a bit vague these days. I liken my memory to a computer, in that it over the years it collects all this data and like a computer you need to either delete data to allow for more data to be installed. Being a bit of a Bower Bird (collector of shiny things) I'm reluctant to delete data. Maybe I just need a bigger hard drive.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, yes - why am I here?
Well, I have family here, Jack my father, Faye my sister and my daughter Carly. My daughter is returning to Melbourne and I'm here to see the family and help with driving the 4000 km trip to pick up belongings and help Carly settle back in Melbourne.

Brought my bike with me so I could explore my surroundings so here's a few photos with captions.

We arrive after a 20 hour drive and 2000 kms from Melbourne to Surfers Paradise.
Except for the last few hundred kms the highway is pretty much a multi-lane divided 
highway. Many of the small to large towns are now by-passed making the trip faster but less interesting.
Note that my hat came along.
I may or may not be aware that I am a man of many hats.  My Brooklyn cycling cap joined Carly and I for a ride to Robbie McEwan's cafe on the Gold Coast. Piccolo is a cyclists stop off point for many local cyclists.
Robbie won the Tour de France green points jersey on three occasions in his international career and has a home in Belgium as well as here on the Gold Coast.
It's a long way to come to have a beer with my Father Jack but well worth it.
On one of my rides, I encountered this interesting restored building from 1896 which sits on the slopes of a huge lake.
Living in Melbourne by the bay, the terrain is mostly flat so when I uncounted inclines of  12% and 13% I found myself confronted with a challenge. The challenge was well worth the sights.
There's not many of the true Queenslander homes left as new modern estates take over the hilly terrain out the back of the Gold Coast. I spied a few in my rides and this one only slightly out of the path of the Gold Coast to Brisbane freeway. 
Grand gates to the side of a main road that lead to the modern estates made me do a u-tune to see where the dirt driveway went. There up on the hill at the end of the dirt track was one of the area's original farm homesteads. I wish I could have been bold enough to knock on their door for a closer look.
All along the modern roads there was much road kill, snakes being the most prevalent. There were also several lizards, frogs and the occasional kangaroo, but the suburbs are quickly encroaching upon their natural habitat.
Our stay comes to an end when we repack the car tonight and take off for Melbourne early tomorrow (Friday) morning. I expect I'll need to get Sue out of bed in the early hours as I left my keys at home.

Happy New Year to all and have safe and healthy 2014