Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tall Ship in Port Phillip Bay

As I travel home from work each day, I cross the Yarra River on the Bolte Bridge. From the top of the bridge you get a great view of the city and the bay. Sometimes you can see visiting Ocean Liners docked at Port Melbourne.

The Bridge, one of two great bridges in Melbourne spanning the river outlets into Port Phillip Bay.

This week however, a tall ship sailed into Melbourne's Port Phillip bay. Sailing through the heads it echoed the scenes of the 1800s. This ship was on a re-enactment journey of the Charles Darwin's adventures on the Beagle.

"The Dutch tall ship Stad Amsterdam sailed into Williamstown yesterday on a journey into the past and an exploration of the future. The three-masted clipper is following the route of HMS Beagle on which Charles Darwin made his voyage of discovery 178 years ago. It led to Darwin's theory of evolution and the publication of On The Origin of Species.
The ship began its nine-month voyage in Britain in September and has sailed to Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Tahiti.(From the Age newspaper)
After its Melbourne visit, it will sail to Adelaide and Perth followed by Mauritius and South Africa.
The Stad Amsterdam was accompanied by tall ships Young Endeavour, One and All, and Enterprize for its arrival yesterday after sailing from Sydney."

In the background is Melbourne's skyline seen from Williamstown.

Today is only three weeks before we fly out to Paris when this blog will change its name to "Melbourne Our Home but holidaying in Paris" or something like that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our Funky Boys

Our boys have a band called "In Tongues"!!!
Don't even ask, I don't know what it means or even where it comes from.

Just recently the "Tote" closed its doors due to laws introduced by the Victorian Government that enforced that there needed to be more security bogans than patrons. A very sad situation for live music in Melbourne. On this night the boys headed the bill.

In tongues, in action

Andy Sims - lead guitarist and writer of music.

Do I understand their music, did my parents understand mine - does it matter?
They enjoy what they're doing - they're good boys and we are extremely proud that they have a passion.

Mitch Sims, the dynamic drummer and cool dude wearing the "In Tongues" T-shirt.

Mitch and Andrew started music as teenagers, now they are in their 20s and gradually gaining a following. No covers for these boys: Andy, Luke, Mitch, Starbuck and Jack pen their own music.
It's not Van Morrison, Phil Collins or Rod Stewart, maybe closer to, well I can't really give you any insight at my age.
All I know is that people within their peer group like what they are doing (and I do to).
Any way, here's a link to their "myspace" site.

And a review or three.
"Their time changes work in effortlessly and the two guitarists compliment each other like twin sisters dancing in their bedrooms (what does that even mean?), they’re perfect. The lead guitarist dances better than most do without the awkwardness of a guitar hanging from their shoulders. His hair is fantastic also. These things are important in cool bands. The bass player, like all good bass players, goes unnoticed. I’m sure he must have done a good job."

"...the infectious angular rhythms of Melbourne's In Tongues swept up into my legs and into my hips making my pelvis gyrate, thrust and shake in time with their beautiful jangly tunes. The vocalist had the most ridiculous and I mean ridiculous, yet sensational way of dancing I have ever seen. This got the crowd into the show, because obviously they wanted to join in on the fun, and were safe in the knowledge that no matter how stupid a move they pulled out... the frontman was likely to bust an even sillier one. Fantastic."
Beat Magazine 09/09/2009

"Post-Punk, Noise Rock, whatever you choose to call it is a tough genre. Unless you are a die-hard fan of the genre itself the music can be very difficult to swallow. In Tongues however, seem to have enough of a footing in the indie and new wave camps that it allows them to write music that is not only more accessible, but actually pretty damn good. Not to mention they did put on a bitchin' live show."

Beware and turn the sound down if you are under 30.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spider homes, cats & birds

Who lives here?
The home of someone I have NO need to meet!!!!

Our old gum tree is home to many. Parrots, galahs and occasionally the odd cockatoo. Mainly though wattle birds, sparrows and the very nasy and LOUD Indian minor birds.

My favorite are the peaceful and courteous doves. Fat ones that bob their heads back and forth as they make their way along the ground. Unfortunately they're the ones that meet their maker due to their trust (or stupidity).

That's because Sue owns two cats, I prefer dogs. Dogs are so grateful that they can live with you, where cats treat you as a servant.

Rosie is our Moggie - She's brain damaged from being run over by a car many years ago. She was missing over many days but eventually returned home, skinny and destitute just after a Christmas period. She's become more amicable since her traumatic experience, but only when she wants attention, oh yes, when she wants food or to be let out..........

Now this is Gem, she's a jewel, so precious. Sue has always had orientals, but this one - let me tell you, she is the Paris Hilton of cats. I'm sure she feels that we are all her servants.

Back to the old gum tree. It was there before we bought the house and the house turns 81 this year so it must be close to 100. Its dropping branches occasionally and may need an amputation or two soon.
Other than the bird life, it is home to possums and many other smaller life such as SPIDERS!!!!
Sue hates spiders and won't go near the gum tree. I noticed that a very hairy legged spider had taken up residence in the bark, hence this photograph. Judging by the opening in the web, this fellow must be hugely obese.
I wonder if he has family members?
I do feel I need to add a little extra.
Leon, of course is totally right about our cats....but in mitigation...Rosie is a lovely girl, brain damaged of course, but nice in her own way and very gentle.
Gem is a world apart.  She is a blue Burmese. She believes she is very special and expects all to behave accordingly, but she is very affectionate, especially to anyone who doesn't like cats. You can almost hear the smirk.  Both girls are 13 years old and qualify as seniors. Gem has a long line, of just about everyone who has ever met her, who have asked to be on a list of possible adoptees should the worst happen to us. Master manipulator!
Sweet pussies both.
As for the spiders..yecch!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Melbourne's Oldest House

Melbourne is a young city compared to Europe but we do have buildings still standing since our settlement in the 1830s. One of my favourites is the Mitre Tavern that I stumbled across as a young man starting his working career in the city. I would take lunch time walks and wander the laneways and arcades to discover the hidden treasures of Melbourne.

The Mitre Tavern dates from the mid 1830s

Not that long ago I posted a picture of the oldest house in Willamstown on my sidebar - I did some research on it and found this article from our Melbourne newspaper "The Age".

"A RAMSHACKLE mess in Williamstown is the centre of a bitter conservation row because it is thought to date from 1842, making it possibly Melbourne's oldest house. It is also on a prime development site and has an owner who needs to sell to prop up his dwindling superannuation.
The weatherboard house, which has been unoccupied since at least the early 1960s, was listed in 2007 by Heritage Victoria on its heritage register after considerable debate.
This makes it technically one of the state's most significant buildings. But the owner said he had been told as little as $10,000 would be available as a grant from the State Government to restore it, despite an estimate that proper repairs would cost $200,000.
The 839-square-metre block has been estimated by the real estate agents who want to sell it to be worth about $1 million.
"This cottage represents the first settlement in Melbourne. Before it was built, more than likely there would have been tents. In America, Europe or England, remnants of first settlement are made national monuments."
But while Victoria's National Trust believes owners of such buildings should be given much more financial assistance to preserve them, its senior historian, Celestina Sagazio, said there was not enough evidence that this was Melbourne's oldest house. She said there had been considerable debate in Heritage Victoria before the building was finally listed on its register.
"What we do know is that the block was first gazetted in 1837. Its first owner was a James Cain who bought it in 1841 and then sold it to William Pope in 1842," she said.
"The first reference to a house on the site was the first local council rate book of 1856, which said there was a four-room timber dwelling occupied by Clara Pope, the widow of William Pope."
Mr Page said he did not want to see history destroyed. "Someone suggested it should just catch fire, but I don't want that to happen. I have been approached by someone who wants to restore the building, and if I get a demolition permit I will let him take it."
He said he was retired and living on superannuation. The imperative to sell had resulted from the decline in his super due to the economic downturn.
"I offered it to the council to rent it as parkland, but they rejected the idea, so here I am getting no rent and having to pay big rates on it each year."

It was hard not to feel some compassion for the owner and yet do we preserve our heritage to the disadvantage to this gentleman who initially saw this property as just an old house. I'd be interested in the opinions on these sorts of conflicts between heritage and financial gain.

Another building I pass almost daily on the way to work is this one. It has intrigued me for years and so I googled it to find the following information - a lovely story.

"A plaque in the wall says: 'This shop and dwelling built in 1850/1, by James Heffernan, is a reminder of Melbourne before the gold rushes. It has been owned by a single family since 1899, when V.S.Azzapardi established a newsagency and general store. His daughter and son-in-law, Beatrice and Georges Russell established the present business in the 1930's. The building was restored in 1989 by his grand-daughter and her husband."
These words came from another Melbourne blog that is well worth a look.

A building of this history if lost to developers would be a travesty but how long can a family resist the financial gain from the sale of a such a prime piece of real estate?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pentridge Gaol

"Bluestone College" or as it was officially known Pentridge Gaol, home to many students of crime.

It had been a gaol a life time before I was born. No, probably more as it was established in 1850. As a young boy of twelve, I remember riding my bike beside the bluestone walls of Pentridge gaol. It didn't have any relevence on me at the time. I was young with no knowledge of its history.

Opposite the gaol in complete contrast to the evils and stresses behind these walls was the serenity of a small lake that today is the playground of swans, ducks and families enjoying picnics. I use to run through the undulating hills opposite as part of my training program.

Ned Kelly's remains were buried within the walls of Pentridge Gaol. Above: Ned's portrait (he had been beheaded after being hung), his grave and the armour he wore at his last stand at Glenrowan, Victoria.

Inside the walls back then were criminals no more than 200 meteres away from the lake opposite. Some escaped and were caught fortunately. Ned Kelly the infamous bushranger was held at the Melbourne gaol in 1880 before being hanged. His remains were believed to be buried within the bluestone walls in 1929 after being discovered by workmen when building the Royal Institute of Technology.

The last hanging was Ronald Ryan after being caught from his escape with other inmates from "Bluestone College". Ryan was charged with the murder of one of the wardens.

Today the land within the bluestone gaol has become a residential site, but to me and people of my generation, we would wonder why you would want to live there. To us, it still has an unpleasant aura about it.

Sue had no previous history with the prison but felt an unpleasant feeling within that made her quite emotional.
The souls of the past imprisoned still give off a presence that I would rather not be close too.

One of the entrances to your apartments. No, not for us!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Funky Friday

Yes, Funky Friday has rolled around again and our weekend starts soon. I look at our calendar and see we are having dinner with friends on Saturday night. They want to us to offer some experiences of our trips to France. They tossing up between France (the Loire) and/or Spain.
It should be a good night!!!

Sunday will be difficult with a few choices - Bike racing, the MG Car Club's annual Concours de Elegance and it's Valentine's Day. Well, I wonder what the day will bring - maybe Monday's blog will have the answers.

I was in a quandary with this Funky Friday's subject. There were two unusual pictures I took around Melbourne during my travels this week. Tuesday morning I have a gym session in the Jewish district of Balaclava - it's both funky and traditional, but interesting. I've got know some of the locals and my after gym coffee is one of the best I've tasted. The place is run by a passionate coffee maker in a "hole in the wall" cafe.
Anyway, after finishing my coffee, I wandered back to my car and had the feeling I was being watched. I looked up above the overhanging veranda of the shop front and there he was. This sculptured man looking down towards me. I'm parked here every Tuesday morning and this is the first time I've seen him. I gave him a nod of recognition before driving off to work.

Two days later I was driving home through the same suburb and I noticed a very "funky" restored white van. Now recently there have been a few photos of white vans on the blogs that I regularly read but I think mine has much more character, don't you?

It's a bit fuzzy, but that's because I reached for my camera while travelling at 10 kph.
As we say here, "havagoodweekend".

Monday, February 08, 2010

Home Made Pasta

Sue and Leon's Pasta Making night.

Our entree was Tasmanian oysters with spring onion and a few drops of Verjuice

I was a keen cook way back 30 something years ago when Leon and I met. He was keen for us to move in together, (it was a mutual decision) and on one occasion told me that he too was a pretty good cook and would like to cook me a meal. Great! I was to just sit in another room with a glass of wine and wonderful spag bol would soon come my way. So far so good eh? Then came the concerned voice from the kitchen, "Sue, I've just forgotten how long you boil the meat for." (I don't believe that to be true Sue)
The pasta is rolled into shape before being inserted to our little machine

And that is why I've done all the cooking for the last 30 something years. 
Oh well, can't have everything I s'pose. (Yes, but who cleans up afterwards. Honestly, she is the messiest cook)

 The pasta being threaded through - about 3 times at different thicknesses. The only reason you see Sue's hands was coz I took the photos, true dinks!!!!

All that changed a week or so ago when Leon decided to get involved to help make pasta. I have a simple but wonderful recipe for prawns cooked in a lemony, garlic sauce. It is much nicer with freshly made pasta. (It was special, but I put that down to my pasta making)

We have this terribly technical way of storing the freshly made strands of pasta by using a broom handle across two benches.
Happy to pass the recipe on if anyone's interested.
The pictures tell the story. He did most of the pasta rolling (the food processor makes the dough in this house)

No, it wasn't two serves for me and one for Sue. The other was for our son, but I did eat the left  overs and took the balance for lunch the following day.

The pasta was silky and the dinner was delicious.
My question now is, how long till the impulse comes to him again.
It was fun. (Yes it was fun, but guess which little black duck had to do the cleanup afterwards)


 This close up reminds me of how silky smooth the pasta was. and all washed down with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc of course.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Funky Friday

Seen on the beach at
These cute beach ladies started life as very large bollards that have been sculptured and painted. There are many that decorate Geelong's Eastern Beach.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

In the course of daily work

My work takes me to various areas of Melbourne everyday - that's why it's worth having the little Canon pocket camera. You never know what might present itself at any time.
Yesterday took me down to the bayside outer suburb of Mornington and Mount Eliza to see one of our clients.

The sky was cloudless and the bay was like a millpond. As I passed the vineyard between Mornington and Mount Eliza, I took a side road that I had never before been down. It was rather steep and came to a dead end to a small car park. A few people, probably locals were enjoying a walk in the shallows and taking in a short walk before the temperture rose into the 30s later in the day.

Time to get back in the car and return to the office..............................

The vines in the foreground are covered in a thin gauze to protect them from the birds. Looking into the background, the bay can be seen on the horizon. What a perfect spot to have a vineyard.

Further on past the vineyard and finishing at a dead end was this picture perfect almost deserted (except for locals) beach.