Sunday, June 29, 2014

Do you ever wonder what you will post on - I do. I thought, what have I done this weekend - not much...

But then I began to think, what we did do. Still recovering from broken ribs two weeks ago, Sue and I are also keeping each other awake with constant coughing from our chest colds (not real good with the ribs, I can tell you!)

I must be on the mend though because I've again continued on the house makeover for the pending sale within the next 2 years. We had the family areas repainted by so-called professionals and were NOT overly impressed by their "Professionalism". We decided that that front of the house will be a family effort by ourselves. OK, I know we are doing this to sell but there's that pride thing. This is the house we've lived and loved in with our two boys for the last 30 odd years.

Way back, maybe 10 years ago we decided to paint the inside with heritage colors of the 20's.
It was nice at the time with all that kitchy frieze under the picture rail but things have changed, so the revamp is to suit a new market. 
Mind you, I could leave it with that distressed look!
Out came the sander and I started the preparation of the hallway, and next weekend, we'll start the first coat of paint. You may well ask why I do this myself? It saves $4000!

It looks a bit blotchy at the moment but next weekend might see the first lot of undercoat.
One of the things that disappointed me with the professionals was the lack of presentation.
I think its a matter in personal pride you take in what you do.
The other thing I did this weekend was to almost complete the research and 1st chapter draft on my book "Six Day Bike Racing in Australia". I have this Face book page called "The Cycling Scrapbook" based on another blog I do and currently it has 3800 members who are potentially my research team. I didn't start the page for this reason but it just happened that way - serendipity!!

Australia had their first Six Day bike racing events in the 1880s as did England, the US and Europe. Our first event was in Melbourne 1881. I am researching these events via the Internet with the digitized newspapers of the era - how convenient is this?

Early six day bike races were held over 12 hours a day over those six days.

Those early days went hand in hand with Cycling exhibitions of trick riding , and endurance events.

These are the bikes that our first six day riders travelled close to 1000 miles over that period of six days. 
So I guess that next weekend there will be more of the same - more research, writing, painting, that is unless we go away for the weekend, in which case, we'll blog on it.
Have a good week.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Lady on the $10 Note.

It's not that I have any great knowledge but blogging does make you a little inquisitive, do you agree?
I found that after leaving school much too early, my thirst for learning increased, trivial facts seem to have stayed in my head where my times table didn't. They still don't but at least my phone has a calculator and many other things including a camera which I seem to use more frequently in our blog posts. The iPhone is a great camera and so simple to handle. Ooops, there I go again, off on a tangent.

Back to the subject in hand - a week ago I posted the Aussie 10 dollar note and it got me wondering who is the lady on the other side of Banjo Patterson. Well I can tell you, she is, or was Dame Mary Gilmore.

$10 dollar note by iPhone
Why is she there on our currency? I didn't have a clue until I Googled her. She must have been an amazing lady and probably seen as rather out of place when women were to take a back seat and look after family matters.

Wikipedia best describes her literary career better than I could.
In 1890, she moved to Sydney, where she became part of the "Bulletin school" of radical writers. Although the greatest influence on her work was Henry Lawson it was Alfred "A. G." Stephens, literary editor of The Bulletin, who published her verse and established her reputation as a fiery radical poet, champion of the workers and the oppressed.
She followed William Lane and other socialist idealists to Paraguay in 1896, where they had established a communal settlement called New Australia two years earlier. At Lanes breakaway settlement Cosme she married William Gilmore in 1897. By 1900 the socialist experiment had clearly failed. Will left to work as a shearer in Argentina and Mary and her two year old son Billy soon followed, living separately in Buenos Aires for about six months, and then the family moved to Patagonia until they saved enough for a return passage, via England, in 1902 to Australia, where they took up farming near Casterton, Victoria.
Gilmore's first volume of poetry was published in 1910, and for the ensuing half-century she was regarded as one of Australia's most popular and widely read poets. In 1908 she became women's editor of The Worker, the newspaper of Australia's largest and most powerful trade union, the Australian Workers' Union (AWU). She was the union's first woman member. The Worker gave her a platform for her journalism, in which she campaigned for better working conditions for working women, for children's welfare and for a better deal for the indigenous Australians.

Dame Mary Gilmore had a long fruitful life reaching her 97th year and she, as was Australia poet Henry Lawson given a State Funeral. 
Portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore by William Dobell
I can't really say that I know a great deal about Mary Gilmore's history other than the research did over an hour while writing this post but I hope that it inspires you, as it has me to learn more about a great lady that adorns our ten dollar note.

I will never look at that note in my wallet the same again without wondering more about Mary Gilmore's Life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Somethings Don't Change

Death and Taxes - I think I heard somewhere that everything changes except death and taxes.
You've heard me whinge about the changes happening around our local suburb. Increases in population and traffic due to the building of apartments in our area are several changes that really is causing concern.

So it was nice to be pleasantly surprised by such a simple commodity in the laundry. It was time to give my favorite shoes a bit of a spruce up. There it was - the KIWI shoe polish in the same tin that I remember as a child. It still has that little swivel propeller thing to open the can. Such a simple little thing brought a contented smile to my face to know that somethings don't change.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sister In-Law's (SIL) Birthday

Just another excuse between blog posts!
I was hit from behind by another cyclist and finished up with two broken ribs the previous Sunday.
Its been over a week and I seem to becoming a little more human.

Not wanting to spoil Sue's cooking project and my sister in-law's birthday, I feigned my manly bravado of feeling no pain so that all would still go ahead - silly me. I spent the Monday having scans, etc to discover two broken ribs but fortunately no spleen damage. You'd think that being home for a week convalescing, I would have time to blog - nope!!!

Back to the subject in hand. It was only this week that our friends on the river Cher (Carol and Mikee - well Carol really) commented that Sue hasn't posted on her kitchen escapades. As I mentioned earlier our sister in-law, young Janice Gibbons asked Sue to be her host chef for her birthday lunch with her immediate family.

 Over to you Sue

We started with a minty, fresh pea soup with pan fried scallops and proscuitto crumbs. In my new soup plates. Everyone was happy,,,, even my niece's  husband who received a fair bit of teasing that it was broccoli. He doesn't eat broccoli. Phew...what a relief!'
My SIL has plenty of bench space. I managed to take up most of it!  Please note my glass of WATER in the foreground.
I made my own confit duck. Proud of myself. This started at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago when I ordered confit duck and it wasn't. Shock! Horror! It was slow roasted and quite pleasant but not the real thing. A three day process but worth it. Made potato bake thing with cream in muffin tins (not sure what to call them..galettes?) The duck was on a bed of garlicky spinach. 
My SIL made some lentils to go on the plate because she thought I was going to starve everyone. Ha! They were good though. I made a dark caramel and turned it into a sauce with orange juice, red wine vinegar and chicken stock and then reduced it until it was a bit syrupy, then mounted it with a little butter. Was all good.
Jan and I both absolutely lurve it when Leon tells us to smile...but we sort of did.
No pics of dessert by the look of it. I made a Tia Maria baked cheesecake covered on top with a dark chocolate ganache laced with more Tia Maria. Nom nom nom
Just as an addendum - Jan's husband John knew that I needed some pain medication and a glass of scotch was handed to me on arrival, followed by several glasses of red wine.

You will be glad to hear that when it was time to go home, I poured Leon in the car for the trip as a passenger. No sleep that night, and next day we spent 6 hours in the emergency department. Men!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Australian Money

There's this bloke you see on our $10 note
Now who is this bloke in a hat, tie and coat?
Banjo is his name
poetry brought him fame.

Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson OBE (17 February 1864 – 5 February 1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales, where he spent much of his childhood. Paterson's more notable poems include "Waltzing Matilda", "The Man from Snowy River" and "Clancy of the Overflow".

Readers have been acquainted with my lifetime interest with cycling but I've also had a liking for the arts - painting, sculpture, music and even dance. I've been known to turn up the music and dance like no one is watching - don't we all?
BANJO wrote a poem about Mulga Bill that discovered the bicycle.
Personally I think he should have been on the $50 note, not the $10.

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"

"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But 'ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver steak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dean Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Wednesdays in France

Our first trip to France was 2006 - on the border of France and Italy is Menton.
We went there only for the reason that "Our Home on the Bay" is Mentone, Melbourne.
That's where our suburb gained its name.
On a clear sunny summer day, Port Phillip bay is not unlike this photo.
Sunny skies, azure waters with a glass of chilled Rose - how good is that?

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Searching for a New Home

We drove to Melbourne Airport on Thursday afternoon for a three day stay at Launceston, Tasmania. Why? 
Well its still a consideration for the next phase of our life. As we sat in the airport lounge we struck up a conversation with a lady who was from Launceston who mentioned how she enjoyed the lifestyle of the city - she lived in an area where we hope to see some property on this visit. She offered to help with Sue’s bag, how kind. As we boarded the plane, there she was in our row of three so we chatted some more on the less than one hour flight from Melbourne to Launceston. It takes the same time to drive from our home in Mentone by the bay to Melbourne Airport.

A pretty impressive bedroom for three nights in Launceston.
Looking out from the garden.
As we left the plane at Launceston, she offered advice on where we would pick up our hire car and also some nice places to eat in town. As we bid goodbye, Sue formally introduced herself as did our new found friend - she was also a Susan.

We picked up the hire car, unlocked with the keys in the glove box - trusting souls!!
Our accommodation, Auldington House began as a convent in the late 1800s up until it became a private hotel in 2005. Our room was huge with a large en suite and a spa bath. (and most reasonable rates I must say)

Being hungry we took the advice of our new found friend on the plane and went to Calebrisella in Wellington Street. The owner Lorenzo greeted us warmly and we exchanged pleasantries. Being bold as I’m sometimes inclined to be, I started asking questions - such as, how long have you been here, what enticed you to settle here and many other interrogations. 
It seems that Lorenzo met a Launceston lady over 30 years ago while working on a Caribbean cruise ship and they clicked. He came to Launceston and made a life for himself while building an authentic southern Italian restaurant in a city where there would have been very few Italians back then. Most Italian immigrants came to Melbourne and that’s why we have such a great Italian culture of food and coffee. We slept well that night.

Friday we went to look at two houses. Both were on the outskirts of Launceston - that’s about 15 minutes from the CBD, with views to the mountains in the distance. In the depths of winter you can see snow on the top of the mountains.
The first house was almost perfect for us and for friends to visit. What more could a man want, a four car garage with his own rumpus room and en-suite. Just a shame that it 18 months too early for us. The other we looked at was fine but not quite right.

Dinner was at the Brisbane Street Bistro with Duck for Sue and Veal for me. Nice but not up to the standard we expected.

Saturday morning started with the local Farmer's Market in the CBD and I have to say that it even had that village feel about it. Some great local produce was available but except for some locally grown garlic, there was no room in our carry on luggage.

 Late morning was another house hunting escapade looking at a recently built home at a suburb called Riverside no more than 10 minutes from the CBD. Nice but not us - too modern, no charm, but a good price. 30 minutes later we were on the other side of the city looking at a 1930s home in Newstead that oozed with charm in a delightful neighbourhood. It did require some attention in the areas of the bathroom but Sue was captivated by the kitchen.

In the afternoon we were off to meet and greet cycling people at an annual bike race - it's all about creating a new social circle in advance of making a new like elsewhere before making the big plunge.

There was an annual cycling race on and we (I) decided we needed to meet some new friends and we did. It’s important with a move to create a social circle and the sport of cycling makes it very easy. On the return to the city, we stopped in at a Vineyard called Velo. It is run by a past Australian cyclist who raced on the continent at the Tours of Spain and Italy. Michael Wilson produces a great Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay that has that French Touraine style.

The end of the afternoon was descending on us and we (I) wanted to see the Tasmanian Motor Museum in the city. They had some great examples of motoring history that started me salivating over the exotica on display. 

Saturday night we went back to see Lorenzo at his Italian restaurant with a bottle of Michael Wilson’s Pinot Noir. Again we were welcomed with open arms - just the garlic pizza and a bowl of pasta each this time but the highlight was Lorenzo's home made Limoncello. He gave us two glasses - one of an Australian commercial brand the other,  his own concoction - no competition, his knocked the socks of the other as well as ourselves.

So ended a long weekend in Launceston - it was mainly to see if we felt the same about the city, explore the real estate possibilities and see if we could fit in socially. I think we came away in a positive frame of mind and we shall keep our options open.

Although the weather was cold, the people are warm.