Friday, October 30, 2009

Melbourne Cup Day

Just got home from work and thought it was time for a pre-weekend blog.

"Thank God It's Friday" is a term that is so true after a long week at work - I should be pleased to be so busy, it means that our business is successful. Things are good in OZ with a strong dollar and the country's finances in better shape than many other countries.

Melbournites are taking an extra long weekend with Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday.
Many take the Monday from annual leave to have four days to relax. Some, actually thousands attend the historic Melbourne Cup Day horse race at Flemington racecource.
We will be attending the many backyard BBQs around Melbourne homes with friends - but more about that in another blog in a few days.

There have been many champion horses that have won this race but none so well known as Phar Lap.

The following little article comes from the WWW with a link of Phar Lap winning the Melbourne Cup if you want more.

On the Saturday before the 1930 Melbourne Cup, there came an unpleasant reminder that racing can attract men with rotten intentions.
In a quiet suburban street next to Caulfield racecourse, as Tom Woodcock walked the champion back to his stable after a morning gallop, a car rounded the corner and a masked man in the back seat shot at Phar Lap.

The crowds in their thousands at Flemington Raceway - No TV in those days.

Amazingly, Phar Lap still ran that afternoon in Derby Day at Flemington. And he won. But to leave it at that is to miss the point: he beat them, he humiliated them, he streeted them. His winning margin in the Melbourne Stakes was ten lengths, making it clear that the shooting incident had not affected him at all.
Further, it showed that Phar Lap was very much in contention for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup. But Harry Telford was taking no chances with the champion. He quietly shifted him in the dead of night all the way to a friend's property near Geelong.
Not until just a few hours before the Melbourne Cup was due to start was Phar Lap loaded onto a float for the journey to Flemington. But the best–laid plans often come to grief. The float would not start. All manner of tinkering and swearing and pushing was tried before it eventually spluttered into life and they got moving. The float arrived at Flemington with a police escort and with only one hour to spare before the race.
After such a hectic couple of days the race seemed like the easy part. The 1930 Melbourne Cup was the first to be captured on 'talkie' film. It shows that Phar Lap won easily—very easily. Despite the huge weight given to him by the handicapper (9 stone 12 pounds), Phar Lap was able to move right away from the field at the top of the straight and come away to win by three lengths.
To use the popular phrase of the period, it was another example of 'Phar Lap first, daylight second.'

This link shows some historic footage of the race.

Hope this works for you - see you in a few day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Veggie beds and wheelbarrows of lettuce

Sue's veggie garden has struck a bit of a snag.

When I made the future veggie garden bed from the timber of my youngest son's old bed, Sue later took me to purchase and load up the potting mix and the chook poo in the back of our Citroen hatchback Xantia.

Well since last week, it seems that certain veggies love digging their roots into chook poo - and some don't!!!

The beans are not quite sure that they like their new environment.

The coriander loves chook poo.

The rocket, coriander, capsicum and especially the basil were delirious in the chook poo where the beans and zucchini were a little more precious. The tomatoes were not quite sure with some being a little bit miserable and others rejoicing.

Some of the tomatoes seem a little sad while others are enjoying their new home. Time will tell.

It seems now that all the veggies are becoming accustomed to their new home. Sue has been watering most nights so they must feel nurtured.

Cycling is my mantra, however a sense of guilt draws me to the garden (sometimes)......
This weekend for me was very self indulgent with lots of cycling so feeling a little guilty, I suggested to Sue it was time to get her lettuce wheelbarrow started.

Did I hear you say, lettuce wheelbarrow? What is a lettuce wheelbarrow????

Well Sue's brother and sister in-law gave Sue this quaint little blue wheelbarrow already filled with a range of assorted lettuce a few years back.
I've used the barrow for wood, rubbish and carting things around the backyard. Not really fitting for a heart-felt Christmas present from family members is it?
Since two harvests of lettuce, it was time to restore the barrow to its original use.

Today, we went to Bunnings for potting mix so Sue could plant her lettuce. I'm hearing you say, what is Bunnings?

Well its the biggest hardware and gardening emporium in OZ. People make a day out visiting Bunnings. You meet friends at Bunnings that you may not have seen for years, and you might even have friends that work there. Such is Bunnings.
I have friends that work at Bunnings that range from retired people to young adults that are friends of my son. Bunnings is a social meeting place, particularly outside the front entrance where various community organisations are selling sausages & onions with mustard or sauce on bread. And this is all for raising funds for worthy organisations.

Anyware after our sausage we chucked the potting mix in the boot of the Citroen, along with all the other things you buy on impulse at Bunnings and drove home to our next garden project.

Our Moggie, Rosita inspects our wheelbarrow of lettuce and decides it could become her next kitty litter - Oh no!

I filled the little blue wheelbarrow with potting mix while Sue later planted her new lettuce. With some spring sunshine and regular watering, I can see a lot of salads coming our way this summer.
I wonder what next weekend's project will be????????????????

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Mornington Peninsula

Bathing Boxes line the beaches throughout Port Phillip Bay - a Melbourne Icon.

Well, we are back from our weekend on the Mornington Peninsula visiting our good friends Barry and Gloria. And what a weekend it has been!!!! They have a lovely beach style home in Blairgowrie.

We decided to take Sue's Citroen Xantia for a run, it is still a low km car even thought it is now 9 years old. It probably never goes further than 10 km from home during the week. I don't get much of a chance to drive the Cit so I was looking forward to the drive along the winding road that hugs the cliffs of the bay road from Mornington to Dromana. It is truly a lovely car to drive and the views overlooking the bay are magnificent.

Sue's Xantia parked beside one of the decorated bathing boxes along the beaches of Port Phillip Bay.

On the way we just happen to discover a Triumph Sports Car "show and shine" day on a grassy park near the beach in Rosebud. Having owned a few Triumphs in the past, a stop was in order to admire some beautiful examples of this marque.

Racing Triumphs have so much character.

Although a little late we finally arrived at Blairgowrie and were greeted by our friends. After a well earned coffee we decided to become tourists and see the sights of the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula.

The Peninsula is such an Historic part of Victoria and Melbourne's rich past. Sorrento was the first ill-fated Victorian settlement in 1803 before Van Dieman's Land or Tasmania was to become one of Britain's penal colonies after Sydney.

The father of Melbourne was John Pascoe Fawkner and he arrived on this first landing in Port Phillip Bay as an 11 year old boy with his convict father. He would later return to settle Melbourne (originally named Bear Brass).

Convicts were brought to help clear the land and build a settlement at Sorrento. Of several convicts that tried to escape, William Buckley was the only one to not be captured. He survived by living with the natives for 30 years until Melbourne was later settled in the 1830s.

Four graves on the original 1803 site have been preserved and the small part of the surrounding land includes a walking path with plaques describing the history of the settlement.

One of the four remaining graves from 1803.

Our friends live close by Sorrento at Blairgowrie and their home is only walking distance to the back beach which faces towards Bass Strait and Tasmania. The surf rolls in on the back beach and is in direct contrast to the mostly calm Port Phillip Bay no more that 2 kms away on the opposite side.
In 1967, our then Prime Minister, Harold Holt went skin diving at Cheviot Beach, off the tip of the Peninsula. He disappeared without a trace.

Above: London Bridge on the back beach.

Below: The back beach overlooking Bass Strait.

The local antique shop in Sorrento.

There are so many events on in Victoria this Month. Last weekend was the Melbourne Marathon with over 20,000 entrants and this weekend the Motorcycle Grand Prix was held at Phillip Island.

The Jayco Herald Sun Cycling Tour finished today in the suburb of Carlton after taking in seven days of competition around Victoria. Not the Tour de France by any means but the weather conditions during the week were gruelling. This week we recorded our highest rainfall in years and our Reservoirs are starting to fill again. The Tour was won by Bradley Wiggins, 3rd place getter in the Tour de France. Young Chris Sutton, son of Gary Sutton, ex-World Champion and past Sun Tour winner was second. (I had the good fortune to have ridden on the same program as their fathers many years back)

Another event on Sunday was the "Round the Bay" cycling charity ride of 200 kms. I decided to ride home from Blairgowrie (approx 80 km) and joined the approx 7,000 plus riders enjoying the sunny spring day.

Amazingly, I just happen to meet another old friend (read old fart) I hadn't seen for years and we rode together, reminiscing about our past cycling careers (all exaggerated of course).

Even seagulls enjoy the odd bicycle ride.

Our short weekend on the Peninsula can't allow for describing the many features of this playground of Melbournians. It features water sports, cafes, vineyards and a rich history that needs at least a week to absorb - below are a few links that will give a better insight to the Peninsula that my short blog can't offer. See you next Monday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Friday, AGAIN!!!

A scene of Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula - Taken on a recent :Mental Health Ride. On occasion will will take a day off work and ride to Sorrento (150 kms) for lunch and a glass of wine.
Sorrento on Port Phillip Bay was the first settlement on the bay and there are still a few graves of the first settlers that perished there.

Well, it seems like Fridays come at least twice a week these days. For this once a week Blogger, life moves too quickly and if it wasn't for my reduced superannuation I would retire soon. Never mind, the share market is improving and our dollar is close to parity with the US$.

This weekend is going to be spent with friends at a Mornington Peninsula town called Blairgowrie. They live on the back beach, walking distance from the ocean of Bass Strait and to the other side is Port Phillip bay. Barry is a school mate of mind and our best man when Sue and I married. His wife Gloria and Sue love entertaining and so I expect Barry and I will enjoy a few bottles of wine while the girls cook up a storm.

So on Monday, my blog will feature the Mornington Peninsula, a beautiful place only an hours drive from our home in Mentone.

Talk to you all Monday.......................

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Don't you just love weekends?

Don't you just love weekends - well us working people do.
Retired people may not know which are weekends or week days, a situation I look forward to.
Mind you, I don't want my life to go into fast forward. Please let it just flow slowly.
Having said that, this weekend like others has been filled with great stuff. And shouldn't they always?

Sue methodically selects her choices for our Veggie Garden.

My fantastic veggie garden bed in preparation for Sue's plantings

Yes, I know it might sound boring but I just love my Saturday morning rides. To experience an early morning ride with your mates along Beach road when Port Phillip bay is like a mill pond, no wind and you join many like minded cyclists is something I have never become sick of.
The sky was clear and yet the moon, a crescent in the cloudless morning sky gave us a welcome.

After my end of ride coffee, I arrived home to suggest to Sue we see Julie & Julia at the movies. Well after all I had some free tickets, didn't I. (Hey, big spender). What a great movie and Meryl Streep did a fine job of portraying Julia Child. Later Sue showed me some of the cooking episodes of Julia Child on You Tube.

The plantings lovingly positioned for planting. Will they survive - keep tuned in for future episodes.

On Sunday Sue asked me to build a veggie garden. With our youngest son leaving home, I had a spare wooden bed to build the garden surrounds from. The veggie garden is above the area where I buried my old mate Murphy. Well I should explain Murphy was a dog, an Irish Wolf Hound. He loved cherry tomatoes and would gently nibble a few as a treat on our past plantings. He was a great dog and it is fitting that the veggie garden is above his resting place. From this day it will be known as Murphy's Garden.

Our Murphy with his tinnie of Guinness - what else would an Irish Wolf Hound drink?

Off to the local nursery, Sue purchased the necessary requirements, bags of potting mix and a bag of chicken poo. Some further plantings to add to the tomato plants included capsicum, beans and zucchini were purchased.

At the end of the day, Sue had her veggie patch and we'll await the progress of her folly. After all she admits to not having a green thumb.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Oh No! Not another market Sue.

The Prahran Market - Est 1864

Feeling guilty as I was going to be be out most of Sunday, I said to Sue, “Why don’t we try another market on Saturday?”
We have a Saturday market in the inner suburb of Prahran. It’s about a few kms out of the City.
It was originally established in 1864 just after the gold rush era.
During the late 1960s I actually worked across the road from the market but being a teenage boy it had no attraction for me at the time. I did however enjoy Prahran as it had a sort of alternative grunge factor that lives on today.

From the Prahran Market website
Although land was sold throughout Prahran in 1840, it was not until the gold rush days of the 1850's that the community really began to grow, and in 1856, Prahran's first Council was elected. Prahran was famous for its small farms and market gardens, and at first goods were sold or bartered locally or carted into Melbourne.
What was needed was a central market place in the municipality of Prahran and this was organised by the Prahran Council in 1864.
The spot originally chosen was near the corner of Greville and Grattan Street, where the garden is now located.
Eventually the Grattan Street market became hopelessly overcrowded and a new spot had to be set aside. In 1881, the market was transferred to its present site on Commercial Road.

Sue's favourite shop at the Prahran market - Essential Ingredients

Anyway Sue said that she didn’t want to spend too much, yeah right!!!!
A new fry pan from Essential Ingredients was purchased. It is the most marvellous cook and chef’s shop. Essential Ingredients is Sue's very, very favorite place to be. A cook's heaven.

Marinated baby figs - one of Sue's many favorites.

We bought some marinated baby figs which are devine. They also have a foodie book shop which included a couple of new releases, one in particular from Stephanie Alexander. Her previous books have included a book she co-wrote with Maggie Beer about their Tuscan cooking travels and another about her time in the Dordogne.

Products by Maggie Beer.

Maggie had her own TV program called "the Cook and the Chef" which has just finished after four very successful seasons. Her products sell in this shop. Check out her website Well worth a look with a few cooking videos from the show. and also Stephanie's

From the market Sue also purchased duck breasts, wild rabbit (again), quail, strawberries and mangoes.
Looking like a good week out of the kitchen for me.......

I love big chunky field mushrooms - as good as a big fat steak.

Tonight we ate the duck breast.
How was it cooked Sue?
Pan fried slowly to get a very crispy skin, then finished in the oven served nice and pink, with a blood orange sauce made with red wine vinegar, chicken stock and a little sugar, pommes anna and a salad.
I needed to think about something other than the fact that our youngest (21) moved out today, and I’m feeling sad. Happy for his new adventure, but sad ‘cos I’ll miss him. So…I cooked.

It was probably good therapy for Sue as Sunday I was out most of the day racing on the Velodrome.

Wild rabbit, duck breast and quail went into the back pack for next week's dinners.

Fennel, beetroot and leak.

Tonight I've come home to a lovely meal but a sad wife with her youngest just flying the coop. But like a homing pigeon, I'm sure it won't be long before he returns.

That reminds me that I need to change the door locks next weekend.