Friday, April 29, 2011

Men at Work - Saturday Song

I heard "Who could it be now" on the car radio in the early 80s and thought exactly that - who could it be, who was that band. I had no idea that they were a home grown band. I bought the LP that night on the way home and just played it all night. Later the track - Down under became a hit also.

 Colin Hay from Men at Work gets just a little help from Paul Carrack (Mike and the Mechanics) on keyboard and Ringo on Drums. This song was used as a theme for Australia II when it won the America's Cup - How proud were we. The Aussies were the first to take the Cup from Newport.

Is Edna Funky enough for Friday

Graffiti can be a bit of a blight on the community, but with thousands of years of this "art" its hard to ignore. I think we all consider tagging (someones name or initials) a bit senseless and even vandalism. Then there's the clever or even whimsical.
I once saw some graffiti that said, "What would you do if God came to Carlton" and the answer below from someone else said something like "let him play full forward". To be expected in a football town like Melbourne. My memory fails me a little, but you get the general picture.
I even saw tagging on the many buildings in our travels through France and Italy. This was back centuries ago and instead of a pressure can - a sharp steel instrument was possibly used.

Back to this graffiti I saw in Melbourne recently - It was of our self proclaimed Dame, Edna Everage. I like this form of graffitti which is a paper stencil and so easily removed too. But not this one of Dame Edna. It still exists, obviously others like it too.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vers near Cahor on the Lot River

Since last Wednesday's blog, I've been following our drive from Saint Antonin to Vers with Google Earth and discovered the location of a photograph we took but could not remember where. Someone else took the same subject but on a different angle. It was the wash house or Lavoir on the outskirts of Limogne. We remember driving along the hills of the area and seeing for the first time a Lavoir, but not our last. There were so many villages that we drove through or bypassed undiscovered. I guess you need to live in an area for awhile to really appreciate these hidden treasures.

Vers is just a small village with a population of less than 400 and you really wouldn't see a reason to stop there however with two nights we discovered those hidden treasures I mentioned earlier. Vers sits on the confluence of the river Vers and the river Lot. It had its own Chateau but I can find almost nothing of its history on the internet and we might not had even known about it except for an afternoon walk on the banks of the river Vers. At some time the Chateau sat on its own island but today the island doesn't exist. The walls and some of the foundations are still visible and subsequent buildings rest on the ancient foundations.
We sat by the river watching ducks paddle by, children play on the river bank while imagining what the Chateau may have looked like.
From what I can gather the Chateau fortress was established in the mid 1300s at the time of the One Hundred Year War, possibly a little before the battle of Poitiers 1356. By enlarging the photograph of the sign below (all in French) I tried to gain further information without success - maybe a reader out there can help me.

The History of Chateau de Vers - can anyone translate please?

A view showing some of the original fortress walls
Peter Young Pic from Google Earth. He has some great pics of the region.

Another view of further structures built on the old foundations of the Chateau.
Possibly part of the internal walls of the Chateau with steps leading up.

We stayed in this hotel with our balcony overlooking the river Vers.

Sorry, but I couldn't resist a pic of my bike on an early morning ride around Vers.
Next Wednesday takes us to the most interesting hilltop village but our GPS, Tommy took us on the most scary route that was in itself a great memory.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter in Australia

The Easter Bilby needs to replace the Easter bunny, and not only in chocolate either. The Bilby is a traditional marsupial of Australia. The rabbit which breeds so prolifically in Australia has been a competitor for the Bilby's habitat. Portion of the profits of all chocolate Bilbys goes towards funding its survival.

Happy Easter to all our readers.

For further info on the Bilby, go to

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Broderick Smith - Saturday Song

As a young bloke I remember this big thing with Aussie bands doing their own thing. Writing songs about local themes and taking their own direction. The Dingoes and Broderick Smith was one of those bands and Brod was one of those guys.
I saw him when I was a teenager at a concert. He wandered up on to the stage a suit, I thought he might have been a bank teller with the way he looked. He had a pocket full of harmonicas and played the meanest blues harp I had ever heard locally. Brod still plays around Melbourne, still writes and still records.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Funky Friday - at last

Funky Friday returns with an extended long weekend - Yes, Good Friday, the weekend and Monday make for four days rest, but wait - that's not all as the man on the commercial said, "do you want steak knives with that?"
What is he talking about do I hear you say - well here in Australia we also have ANZAC Day falling within Easter and that means we get Tuesday off as well.
Seeing that for some reason our workload has become very busy lately and we should feel grateful that we are busy, I thought that this little clip might give an indication of why I can use a looooong weekend.

Here's wishing you a happy and safe Easter with family and friends.

A little something about ANZAC Day as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Leaving Cordes-sur-Ciel we travelled the twisty back roads towards our 2 night stay in Vers, not far from Cahor in the Lot.
Our next stop before reaching Vers from Cordes was Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val which sits on the banks of the Aveyron River. I’m not sure if we planned to stop here, maybe we did, but it was worth sacrificing the fast trip up the motorway to discover this lovely village. We approached Saint Antonin from the south and crossed the river but not before taking a photo of the “Stairs of the Promenade des Moines”.

The Stairs of the Promenade des Moines taken from the south of the Aveyron River.
We drove up the main road and parked the car so that we could enjoy a bite to eat. Not knowing much about the village we decided to walk the back streets and follow our noses. You might miss some sights that way but you discover others. Wandering the narrow lane ways, crossing small walkways over narrow streams, we discovered an open square with a large covered Halle. It wasn’t market day so we had the whole square almost to ourselves – it was time to enjoy a light snack while enjoying the spring early afternoon.

Sue wanders the lane ways of Saint Antonin - Yes Sue I'm still here but I need to take another photo.

This small waterway, surrounded by greenery appeared to my left down a narrow pathway.

She's smiling but she's really saying, "It's lunch time, order food and buy a bottle of Rose."
And that's a very cute 2CV in the background with the covered market. OK, so is Sue, cute I mean.

Back to the car to reach our destination of Vers, it was difficult to leave Saint Antonin Noble Val, but that's the way of travelling to your next destination.
In reflection, isn't a bonus by staying off the motorways?
Time was running away from us and we were only halfway to Vers and allowing our GPS, (Tommy) to take us without motorways, we found ourselves zig-zagging our way from Saint Antonin to Caussade and then to Limogne (not to be confused by Limoges, that comes later) on the D911.
We finally reached Vers late afternoon and as we parked the car there happened to be a Peugeot 307 with an MG Racing sticker. Being both the owner of a 307 and an MG Car Club Melbourne member, I couldn’t let an opportunity to go by without a chat to the owner. I introduced myself to discover he and his wife were from Belgium and on holiday for a few days. We also discovered that he was an actor of some sort and had a role in a Belgium Soapy as a barman. Maybe some of our European readers can tell us what that might be.

Vers had very little to offer in the way of restaurants and so we decided to walk across the road to a small café bar for dinner. Think we had pizza and a glass of wine before have an early night. It was fun as once again we had an opportunity to have a chat with locals. I think I might take after my Dad who chats up anyone in talking distance.

With a two night stay, I was looking forward to taking the bike out of the car to explore the surrounding area of Vers on the Lot.

Relaxing after a long drive from Albi, via Cordes and Saint Antonin. Check out Sue's smile.
The product of a very wonderful day's experience.
And I felt the same - More wonderful sights and experiences were still in front of us.
Sue speaking: All romantic. Yeah, sure. I specifically booked our room with the mini waterfall right outside our window. And as we had our glass of wine in the afternoon, I congratulated myself on a wonderful idea. kept on during the night and we both had to get up and go to the toilet about a million times!  Slight exaggeration...I'm just saying..
Thanks Sue - Toooo much information Dear.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A No Cycling Weekend

That's right - can you believe it, no cycling this weekend. I had projects on my list for this weekend and what a perfect weekend for it.
It was one of those autumn weekends with cloudless skies, probably in the low 20s but with a cool morning around the 12s.
Just as compensation for a no cycling weekend, we started the Friday night with a gathering of the faithful to watch a re-run of the Paris to Roubaix cycling classic. It's always been a favorite of mine since discovering the sport in my early teens. I remember reading about it several months later when the English cycling magazine, "Sporting Cyclist" arrived in my local bike shop. Newsagents never stocked it.

The Hell of the North, the road to Roubaix.

We enjoyed a Guinness and just a few glasses of red, (that would be Leon, I drank bubbles) so it was with a heavy head that I started on my list of weekend jobs. The first was to clear the driveway of accumulated rubbish that needed to go to the local tip.
After thirty years in the same house, you do collect a lot of useless things, plus my son occasionally will bring something home such as a couch or two found on the hard rubbish collection. It usually finds itself back on the nature strip for the next hard rubbish collection.

Due to the friendship of two fellow cyclists, I was able to borrow a trailer and two extra hands to load and dispose of the rubbish at the local tip. My friend Bob is a hoarder. He has every possession from childhood to this very day - well he has one more thing. While unloading the rubbish, Bob spied an old very large luggage case about the size of a coffee table, and that is what it will probably become in its new life.
Before returning we filled the trailer with mulch - this was the second thing on my list. The garden needed weeding and mulching but that was for Sunday.

Sue must have been very impressed  with (or sorry for) me as she was cooking up a storm for a Saturday night dinner. She said she had a cooking Mojo happening.

Thank you Sue

It was a Jamie Oliver  6 hour slow cooked shoulder of pork which ends up meltingly soft with really crispy crackling and a rich gravy from the vegies it sits on.  Served it with a 2 hour braised red cabbage and apple with spices and such, and celeriac mash. Was very nice. Followed with some Gorgonzola (it was on special!) with muscatels, some Corella pear and amaretto biscuits. Very nice again.
Sunday morning and the bike clothes were on the chair but that's where they stayed - it was time to do the garden weeding and mulching. There's something to be proud of when the garden is in order. Sunday was another perfect autumn day with a cloudless sky, not even a puff of fluffy white in the sky.

Autumn is here and leaves are falling but look at that clear blue sky.
Taken at 5.30 in the afternoon.

Sue doesn't like straight so I do wavy. (Correct)

No more weeds - or out of place grass.

Although its Autumn, there's still some brilliant colour in our garden.
So now the back and front gardens have been mulched, and as I type this, I notice little spots of white paint on my hands. That was the third item on the list. Two weeks ago, I replaced some more rotting timber window frames and they needed undercoating. I can see the list growing for next weekend but I hope I can get a ride or two in first..... 
Mission accomplished this weekend - time to get back on the bike.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vika and Linda Bull - Saturday Song

Vika and Linda Bull are from Tonga - It's not far from Australia and so we claim them for us on today's Saturday Song. They started as back up singers with the Black Sorrows, and then progessed on to solo, well duo singers really.

 Paul Kelly writes great lyrics - this is one of his songs.

 And finally a Gospel Song - it suits their voices, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Cordes sits in the sky and on the day we arrived it certainly gave that impression. It was a spring morning when we left Albi as we drove out along the bridge over the Tarn river. Sue wanted to visit Cordes after reading about it in our DK Eye Witness Guide of France. I have to say that our guide book has become a little tattered after four trips since 2006. Pages are highlighted in various colors of fluro pen and notes which remind us of the places we have been so fortunate to have experienced.

Cordes above the clouds. (from the Internet)
 Cordes-sur-Ciel is one of those places that will always remain in our memory as a special visit.
During the 13th century wars against the Cathars, Cordes was excommunicated. The plague devastated the existing population and the hilltop village fell into disrepair. It wasn't until the 1940s that restoration brought the village back to the wonderful experience that we had the good fortune to enjoy.

We rolled in at about mid-morning looking forward to a good strong espresso which we found in the village square. We were the only ones to enjoy the slightly chilly, yet sunny morning. Our waiter was chatty and while there were no other customers he took time to ask us about Australia and what it was like to live there. Happy to tell them about "Our Home on the Bay", but when travelling we prefer to hear the life of the locals.
Cordes has some wonderful architecture of the Gothic 14th century period . You almost feel you are back there, especially with no other tourists being there. You can imagine the fear that the inhabitants may have had during the Cathar persecution and the devastation of the plague. Our DK guide stated, "Everything is beautiful there, even regret" which was written by Albert Camus in the 1950s.

The only way to Cordes is through narrow ports - a truly protected fortress.

Sue enjoys the grand Le Halle of Cordes while we waited for our mid-morning espresso
The Port at the other end of the village. Check out the groove in the arch. A gate would drop down, blocking the entrance to the village.

I discovered this derelict building just outside the village walls.
I hope someone will bring it back to life someday. Maybe that will happen before we revisit one day.

Sue haggled over a purchase here, can't remember what it was but she made a connection with the lovely shop owner. I decided to wander off to take more photos while Sue chatted on.....

It's spring in France as I write this and it brings back the memory of Wisteria everywhere.

Spring in Cordes-sur-Ciel, the place to be as Sue looks down from the village in the sky.
Leaving Cordes-sur-Ciel was difficult as we could have spent a full day enjoying the atmosphere of this delightful village but we needed to make our next stop in daylight for a two night stay in Vers, not far from Cahor.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Saturday Night in Maldon

A few of us "Boys" had entered for a Criterium. That's a bike race around a short city block, not more than 1 km around and usually run for 30 minutes to an hour. That was on the Sunday which seemed like a good excuse to get away for the weekend. The race was in Castlemaine which is reasonably large and well set-out on the grid system of town planning. On the way we decided that the little town of Malmsbury would be our late morning stop for my favorite pie and coffee. The whole township would be no longer than one kilometre long, but it has the best bakery. After some tom-foolery and a chit chat with the lady behind the counter, I discovered that she was the daughter of an old cycling colleague. Small world, huh!!!

Entrance to the Malmsbury Bakery outdoor Cafe area - Yes, Autumn is here!

A view from one of the tables in the outdoor tables.

Looking down the main street of Malmsbury.

Early Australian building materials consisted of
Bluestone, Timber and Corrugated iron.

We couldn't get accommodation in the town of the race which was Castlemaine, so we booked in at a B&B 17 kms out at a place called Maldon.

Palm House, built in the 1860s was our Saturday night stay, our room and the other three were all decorated of the era.

We've been there previously. It has several annual events to draw revenue into the town. In Europe, you'd call it a village. Maldon grew out of the Victorian Gold Rush era of the 1850s, as did many of the surrounding towns in the area. We visited Maldon in our classic car days. The Town runs the annual Tarrengower Hill climb for Historic cars - On this particular weekend the town was swamped by classic and historic motorcycles. Many of the riders looked like members of the band, ZZ Top.

The sign says it all. Maldon is in the middle of western Victoria's gold discovery region of the 1850s. I guess it was all very much the same in California's Gold Rush period.

A couple of photos for my blog-mate Jean who likes motorbikes

It's a very friendly town and people stop in the street to chat. The occasional smile and hello can open up a conversation that offers fond memories of a weekend away. We stopped to talk to a few of the motorcycle riders. We even stopped a man that we thought looked familiar and found that he was the brother of a fellow cyclist we rode with many years ago.

Captain John Mechosk found alluvial gold in December 1853 in the Bryant Ranges, now known as Mt Tarrengower. This find was the beginning of the Gold rush in this area and within a few months the local population had swelled to 20,000. In 1856 the new settlement was named for the town of Maldon in Essex, England.

Grand houses and buildings grew on the back of the gold rush and we were fortunate to stay at one in Maldon - The Palm House was established in the 1860s on the main road into Maldon and easy walking distance to the many shops and antique shops. We bought a few bottles of a lovely Rosé that Sue likened to the ones she has tasted in the Touraine.
We wandered around Maldon for the afternoon, intrigued by the originality of the town, it's under Heritage listing.

Dinner that night was at one of the few remaining pubs in town, the Kangaroo. In it's heyday, Maldon had numerous hotels and grog shanties, even it's own brewery.

After a wonderfully sunny afternoon, we oozed out of the Kangaroo pub with a bottle of port under "My" arm to be greeted by a torrential downpour. Those bluestone gutters were flowing with the rain waters and I could see why they were built the way they were.
Arriving home it was time for coffee and port, stories, fibs and jokes ending a great day in Maldon.

Good friends, good food, good wine, good times. I took the pics.,_Victoria   For more info on Maldon

Sunday morning, us blokes decided that we would ride to Castlemaine for our race - the weather was sunny but cold and the ride was enjoyable despite the heavy heads from the night before.

A great weekend was had by all.