Monday, August 30, 2010

It's our Birthday

Today we turned 175 years old.
I thought I would do a quick post drawing some quotes from the Internet news today. It's amazing to realise we as such a young city, now have a population of 3 million people of many different cultures. These cultures give Melbourne a rich choice of cuisines that Melbourne is famous for.

The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle was reported as saying,
"I think I would be really happy if people stopped for a moment and thought what is it that makes our city great," he said.
"We're one of those rare cities who can actually name the real date. That's when we can actually nominate the moment when white settlers stepped onshore and started construction of some small huts."

From the website - "Melbourne today" announced the following,
Monday August 30, 2010, represents a milestone in Melbourne's history, marking 175 years since the city's founding - the day the first European settlers landed on the north bank of the Yarra River from the schooner Enterprize in 1835.

The Enterprize lands on the banks of the Yarra River, 1835
This pioneering group was led by Captain John Lancey with Launceston builder George Evans and his servant Evan Evans, carpenters William Jackson and Robert Hay Marr, ploughman Charles Wise and blacksmith James Gilbert and his wife Mary making up the party.

Founding fathers of Melbourne - John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner

It was on 30 August 1835 that these first settlers landed and commenced with the building of a thatched storage hut and the clearing of land along the north bank of the Yarra River. This location today is known as Enterprize Park where Williams Street and Flinders Street meet near the old Customs House.
The people of the Kulin nation are the traditional owners of the land that became Melbourne, including the Boonwurrung, Woiwurrung, Taungurung and Djadjawurrung people, who gathered in this place for ceremonies and cultural activities.
Melbourne Day celebrates more than just the day the city was founded. It represents the point at which the proud community of Melbourne began.
And it is a day to celebrate all that makes Melbourne one of the world's most liveable cities.

The spot where the Enterprize sailed up the Yarra River and founded the City of Melbourne.

Happy 175th Birthday Melbourne

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don't you love weekends? Just bits & Pieces.

Not far off entering September and spring, Sunday offered us clearing skies but later this week the rains will be back, but that's OK coz we will get to wash our cars again. But just with a bucket only!!!!
We can water our gardens but not the lawns. Sue says we can start on the veggie garden soon.
The water reserves are improving after Australia and our part of the country emerge from a few years of drought.

I had a small ride this morning as my back is improving with still a little niggle down the left leg. One of my training partners, Paula is a masseuse and she said it was time for some real pain. After the ride I was on the massage table and giving the occasional yelp. Ouch!
Feeling pretty good after that, I said to Sue, "Let's grab a quick lunch and then go shopping."
Food and wine shopping that is. Other than the chocolate I bought, I have no idea what else was in the trolley. The wine included some Montepulciano D'Abuzzo from Italy, some white wine and some raisin port.
Should last us until the end of the week.
Mow the lawns and some weeding saw me relaxing with our first Rosé for Spring.

I saw this bus pass me and I thought, there's a great blog piccie of Lizzie in rollers.
Sue decided she needed some tea at Tea Too........
I was really impressed with their innovative display though.
I'm about to start on painting the interior of the house, starting with the study. The colours have been selected by Sue. I'm a bit out there but Sue prefers subdued colors so that she can add light and shade later - maybe she's right. The subdued white is for the walls, and the grey is for the cornice.
The cornice is the bit between the ceiling and the wall - that picture on the wall is a poster from Albi where we visited my favorite artist's exhibition - Toulouse Lautrec.
A very casual dinner on a Sunday night -
(Sue speaking now) One of my favourite shops here is called T2.  It's all about tea.  Anything you can think of regarding a cuppa is there. From teapots to fabulous cups to strainers to tea blends and's there. All presented beautifully by someone skilled at making you want to spend money!
I'm not a fan of herbal teas. In my opinion most taste like dirty's where the big but comes in, can you tell?
This weekend I bought a tisane of lemongrass and ginger which can be mixed with another of Turkish apple and cinnamon....and it is very nice indeed. Subtle but feels like it's doing you good and tastes great as well.  My son smells it and to him it smells like apple, where to me it smells like ginger. Go figure.
I also bought one called French earl grey, which is a lot more subtle than the Twinings one I know. It is still aromatic but a lot less bergamotic (if that's even a word).
Anyhow, they cost a bomb, but I reckon it's my treat for the month and a lot more healthy than the multiple kgs of chocolate that is Leon's habitual treat! So tell me what's your treat?  Chocolate, tea, or something different?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Torquay and the Great Ocean Road

I’m sitting in the restaurant of the Crowne Hotel in Torquay overlooking Bass Strait. It brings back memories of surfing here in the mid 70s. Other than some puffy little white clouds, the sky is blue as the waves flow in to the beach. I'm down here for for a work conference and decided to duck out for a bit of a squizz. It's a bit of a sleepy beach town at this time of the year. When summer comes, the population of 10,000 will double with holiday makers and the surfing crowd.

Torquay is the home of Ripcurl

And Quicksilver - renown the world over
In our mid-20s we would put the surfboards in the car early in the morning and drive down to what now is well known as the Surf Coast and the start of the Great Ocean Road. Bell's Beach is down the road a piece, venue for many world surfing titles. Today its the home of the famous surf gear, Quicksilver and Ripcurl.
To my surprise, I've seen these labels being sold in the middle of France - do they surf there?

The morning sun rises over Bass Strait as I arrived in Torquay.
And at mid-day, the sun had warmed the day enough to walk out towards the beach.
I just had to get the Aussie flag in the picture.
These are about the only waves that I would ride these days, if any!!!
There are creepy things out there that I don't care to meet.

The Great Ocean Road was built after WWI as away of offering employment to the returned soldiers. This piece of scenic road takes in magnificent views of the southern coastline where many early ships were dashed upon the treacherous rocky cliffs. In fact it also goes by the name of the ship wreck coast.

Wikipedia has a good historical account of the Great Ocean Road - better that I can explain.

As I sit here Thursday night writing this, I wonder what the weekend will bring - the wind is howling outside and it looks like the rains will continue - we can still use a bit more to fill the reservoirs. With only a few more days left of August, daylight saving and spring are just around the corner.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scenes from Rome

Rome could thrill you, impress you with its rich history, while depress you with its scenes of poverty, graffiti and frenetic pace. We didn't realise the serenity that we would experience in Tuscany, but that was still a few days ahead of us.

Andrew I decide we needed some exercise, so a run thru the streets of Rome was in order.
Many huge monuments of ancient Roman times make you gasp, but this was a memorial to some local person. A family member possibly, but no less important to those of history.
My son Andrew and I ventured out for a run through the streets of Rome and as we left the apartment, there was an old man collecting discarded fruit and vegetables from the bins of the morning market. His take home basket was probably no less impressive as our own and a lot cheaper.
Our run took us up towards the Colosseum and along the Tiber where we came across more homeless people. It was unnerving to see the poverty of Rome, not something that we often see at home. It is there but we don't often see ourselves amongst it as we did in Rome. As we ran up towards the Colosseum we saw people dressed as Gladiators being photographed with Tourists willing pass over a few euros for the privilege.
The Gladiators would take turns of being photographed while the other would take the opportunity for a "smoko". Not sure if the Romans had a "ciggie" in those days.

The Ponte Fabricio built in 62 BC is still in use today.

The run took us to the oldest still used bridge across the Tiber.

While the remains of an earlier bridge stands in its shadows.

But below were some homeless that had taken up residence with their dogs.
Yes, we saw some sad scenes during our run but the most impressive scene to me was one that you couldn't see but had to visualise. The Circus Maximus was the scene of chariot races and I had read about it before we left Melbourne. I needed to see it.
No more than a a parkland these days, I sat there for some time while imagining the races that took part there. From 400 BC to 549 AD when the last chariots raced, it was the largest spectator arena holding up to 500,000 people.
This grassy area seems not to be held in awe by the locals as there was rubbish and the remains of small fires littering this famous location.

Circus Maximus - Today!

The Circus Maximus then.

Our run then took us further along the Tiber towards the Vatican and back to the Campo and a cool beer.

We would return to the Vatican and the museum with Sue but on our run we passed by Piazza San Pietro on our return to the Campo de Fiori.

But of the many scenes of Rome, I think the Fiat Bambino and the Vespa say it all for me!!

Our afternoon run offered us scenes of Rome that we may not have experienced on a tourist bus or guided tour. It was an experience of mixed emotions. One one hand you see fashion conscious women walking in high heels on the cobble stoned piazza while the homeless sleep under bridges of the polluted Tiber. Such extremes, such contrast but such memories running through the streets with my son. I'm sure in many years to come we will discuss that run.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Some things are meant to be!!!

Not much of a blog after the weekend and this is the reason why.
We decided my 22 year old son needed to have his car replaced so we went car hunting with a budget in mind. The budget didn't but much after much looking and kicking of tyres. We didn't even want to waste time driving anything. It was even a pain having to deal with used car salesman. I put them and politicians in the same category. By the way - after our elections this weekend, it looks like a hung Parliament. The outcome is yet to be determined.
Back to the car searching. We arrived back home feeling depressed until I said to Sue, "Lets buy you a replacement car and pass your Citroen Xantia on to Mitch." Sue was due for an update so Sunday it was out and about looking at cars again. Her requirements were - it had to have a sunroof. That's easy, type in sunroof and our budget figure.
Up pops these choices and guess what - her Citroen gets replaced with a Peugeot. What is it that we always seem to have a French car in the driveway. Some things are just meant to be.
Anyway, more news later - I'm off to work now.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Federal Elections in the land of OZ

You better believe it - It's a bit like the yellow brick road in the land of OZ with the opposing federal political parties throwing gold at us so we will put them in government.
Yes, I am cynical and why wouldn't you be when instead of telling us what they can do for us, they are telling us what their opposition can't do for us.
I'm in sales and the first golden rule is not to denigrate your opposition. A good rule for our politicians I think.
I'm more concerned with what they can do for health, education, infrastructure and the aged. Judging by the election advertising, they are more concerned with either keeping their jobs or improving their jobs.
This has got to be one of the worst political campaigns of all my years of voting - and I am a fence sitter. I vote on political party policies, not on personalities - not that many of them have a personality, well let's just say one that's not manicured by their minders.

Julia and Tony, which will be Prime Minister in the land of Oz on Sunday?
Having said that, economically, Australia has weathered the GFC better than most countries so the current government must have done something right, but why did they do a Judas (Julia) on their Leader. (that's Kevin if you didn't know)

Yes, I'm sure political cartoonists the world round can be cruel.
The political cartoonists are having a great time leading up to our elections this weekend. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always cruel. They seem to exaggerate the worst points of Politician's appearance without fear of retribution.
I'll let you know the outcome after the weekend if I find out - I really need to mow the lawns this weekend.

Funky Friday Stuff
On a lighter note, I was in Collingwood, home of creative graffiti and spied this huge mural wall and the little angel with a broken heart - how sad.

I promise to be more positive next post after I've voted.
Did you know voting is compulsory in Australia otherwise we get a $50 fine. It might just be worth it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Our first full day in Rome
After a well deserved good sleep and a light breakfast, we ventured down the stairway. Opening the front main door we were confronted by the Campo de Fiori market. Sue wrote in the diary;

Out the apartment door.


1 butcher, 2 fish stalls, complete with whole Marlin from which they cut steaks to order – and a great many veggie stalls. The quality and freshness of the produce was fabulous. Tiny aromatic wild strawberries, fresh as anything. A number of salad veggies I had never seen before – everything so fresh and inspiring to cook with.

And into the market place. This is what confronted us each morning.
I bought some produce to cook with tonight – warm salad with potatoes, fennel, beans with pesto and steak for us. I do however miss French bread.
This market is amazing in that it appears every morning and disappears for the mid-day lunching crowd.”

An unbelievable choice awaits you.

After returning to the apartment and filling up the fridge, it was time for a light snack and a cool beer before trekking off for our walk of discovery.

Our walk took us out of Campo de Fiori to the Piazza Navona where hundreds of years ago chariot races were held. Three beautiful fountains take central focus as you walk the length of Piazza Navona amongst the shops, cafes and street performers. Just writing about it makes me want to return.

The Pantheon - looking in.
As we wandered off down narrow laneways, not knowing where our walk would take us, we came out of a walkway to be confronted by Rome’s Pantheon. This temple of all Gods was designed by Hadrian and built on the foundations of the first Pantheon of 27-25 BC.

The Pantheon - looking out.

We just spent some down time absorbing this amazing structure before venturing on to be impacted with modern day Rome at the Piazza Venezia. Cars, motorcycles and scooters fight modern day duels with pedestrians – a pure scene of possibly organised chaos but I couldn’t see it. We had to just stand there and absorb what was happening around us.
An actual quiet moment at Piazza Venezia.

Largo Argentina sits in a depression, rectangle in shape while buses, cars and the locals pass by without a second glance. This historic site is home to what seems like hundreds of cats sunning themselves in the afternoon as we we passed by. Largo Argentina is the site of Pompey’s Theatre. Thought to have been built 300 BC, the site is a refuge for homeless cats as well as a visual museum of early Rome.
Scenes of Largo Argentina
From Wikipedia:

After Italian unification, it was decided to reconstruct part of Rome (1909), demolishing the zone of Torre Argentina. During the works (1927), however, the colossal head and arms of a marble statue were discovered. The archeological investigation brought to light the presence of a holy area, dating to the Republican era, with four temples and part of Pompey's Theater. Julius Caesar was killed on the steps of the Theatre of Pompey, and the spot he was believed to be assassinated is in the square.

Another well deserved beer was enjoyed in the Campo de Fiori, just out side our apartment doorway before taking a well earned rest after a delightful day’s discovery walk in Rome.

The Campo de Fiori at night - full of excitement

Just writing these memories make me want to return to Rome armed with an increased awareness of its history.

Monday, August 16, 2010

SNOW in them thar HILLS

Monday morning I was hoping to have a ride for the first time in a week. At 5.35 am I looked out the window and it was wet. Next was a quick computer check and sure nuff, the rain clouds were looming towards the bay area in Melbourne. No ride this morning so back to bed for an extra hour. When I did get up, the TV was on and the weather forecast said 12 degrees maximum in Melbourne. Check out Darwin at 34 degrees. It sure is a big country.

And as I was buttering my crumpets and having a cuppa at 7.38 am, the weather man appeared at Mount Buller, Victoria amongst some of the best snow at the ski fields for some time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rupert Bunny - Melbourne Artist - 1864 to 1947

I use to draw things as a child at home, later I would draw cartoons. Terrible at the more scholastic subjects, I went to art school, not that it did much good - although it did give me an appreciation of art and an interest in the Heidelberg School of artists. They were my favorites along with the French Impessionists.
A group of Australian Impressionist (late 1800s) initially painted in the Bay area of Melbourne (where we now live) before they moved on to the then rural district of Heidelberg. I grew up in this district and enjoyed riding my bike there as a teenager.

Rupert Bunny - Self Portrait

I was aware of Charles Condor, Walt Withers, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, well known Australian impressionist artists, but not Rupert Bunny.
You can read more about the Heidelberg School artists here.

That is until I was driving down the freeway and saw that the Rupert Bunny exhibition was advertised. This Melbourne artist spent most of his life in Paris and areas of France during the end of the 1800s and the early 1900s.

Summer Morning

If you click on the link below a video will describe his career better than I can here.
A video of the Rupert Bunny Exhibition

Last Fine Day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rupert Charles Wulsten Bunny (29 September 1864 – 25 May 1947) was an Australian painter, born in St Kilda, Victoria.
Bunny was the third son of Victorian Country Court Judge, Brice Frederick Bunny, and Marie Hedwig Dorothea Wulsten. He travelled to England in 1884 and studied at Calderon's art school in London. After 18 months he went to Paris to study at the atelier of Jean-Paul Laurens. In 1902, he married Jeanne Heloise Morel, a former art student and model, who appeared frequently in his paintings. He lived in France until 1911 when he returned to Australia for a visit. For a number of years he travelled back and forth between Australia and France. After his wife died in 1933, he returned permanently to Australia and settled in South Yarra, Victoria.[1]

Dolce Farniete - Sweet Idleness

From the ABC website -
Rupert Bunny is one of Australia's best known and loved artists, at the height of his career at the end of the 19th century he was living a life of success in Europe, befriending some of the most brilliant painters, writers, musicians and dancers of the day.

Returning from the garden
Dame Nellie Melba - Australian Opera singer. Her home in Coldstream, Victoria is about an hours drive from home. The area is in the Yarra Valley, home to many fine vineyards.

We still don't why we didn't get to the Exhibition that was held here at the time. We have missed seeing a great Melbourne artist's works. I have enjoyed researching through the above links and hope you had an opportunity to appreciate some of our Australian artists as well.