Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesdays in France - where to from here

Been a hectic week and I'm off to Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Hope to post from there over the next few days.
I'm afraid that Wednesday's in France missed this Wednesday but I thought I would post a few pictures of where we will be going over the months ahead on Wednesdays. Our 2008 trip took us from the Dordogne, to the Loire and on to Normandy before looping back to Paris for a week.


Arromanche and the D-Day landings
Lot's more to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


As most readers would know, I have a little bit of a passion for cycling. Once a year one of my cycling colleagues who is passionate with the history of cycling and all the great European Classics runs an annual event called the MELBURN ROOBAIX. It travels the bluestone back lanes of Melbourne and the riders fantasize that they are riding the PARIS to ROUBAIX. Its a lot of fun and riders get dressed up to add colour to the event. In my case, I wear the Brooklyn Chewing Gum outfit that won the great classic many times on the shoulders of Roger DeVlamnick.

Leon say's "this way, I'm sure kiddies" 2010.

Definitely a very brave lady, 2010.
 More about that later - Saturday was a casual affair with a bit of a sleep-in before shopping. Sue asked what I'd like for dinner. My usual answer is Pasta or Meat. I suggested steak with some mushrooms.
I thought that it should get me through the Melburn Roobaix on Sunday.

That's Sue saying "hurry up and get a basket". (remember, Sue only talks in green) Sicluna's was having a tasting day. There was even a 3 piece jazz band entertaining the customers. So much more welcoming than the major supermarkets.
 So shopping it was on Saturday Arvo. We have this great shop in Mentone called Sicluna's that sells wonderful and sometimes hard to get produce, but always quality. On this particular Saturday, the place was very busy and there was much produce tasting and a small 3 piece jazz band playing some trad jazz. The staff are really helpful and friendly - no grumpy check-out chicks here.

So  many choices and so well displayed - Food Art.

Corn and asparagus.

I just love mushies - these are Swiss Browns.

She walks the streets of Mentone with goodies for tonight's dinner.

OK, we are home and we have the produce for tonight's dinner.

Oh, soooooo yummy. Feed the man meat.
OK, its now Sunday night and I'm home from the Melburn Roobaix 2011. A great day was had by all and I only put down one person on the cobbles. He's OK. The weather was chilling at the start @ 12 degrees and later warmed to around 17...The costumes were "interesting".... too say the least.

Got to the start in plenty of time which was a velodrome I raced on in 1965 - Gosh am I that old?

My mate Peter was Cat Man.

And Lawrence was showing her furry tongue - sorry folks.

The bikes were many and varied - its just a fun day...

Places to park your bike was at a premium, especially at the pub afterwards.

PMU was a sign that we saw in our travels throughout France. Sponsor of the green jersey for the Tour de France.

Cargo bikes have the capacity to carry precious goods.

Baguettes, Champagne, cheeses and other delights.
Melburn - what a great place to live.
 And that was the weekend that was.

From Thursday next weekend to Tuesday the following week I will be in Queensland - that's Brissie and the Gold Coast. I will post on my new surroundings then.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday - Not Funky

I worked from home until 9.30 am then had an appointment at 10.00 am. Leaving from my appointment, I opened my sunroof in the MG while on the way back to the office. Mid winter, 17 degrees, trees with no leaves....ooops, that rhymes. Not intended really!!

View from my sunroof, late morning in mid-winter.

Arrived at the office - rather bland, don't you think - all concrete and glass. Well, they keep my life style intact. Love the work, just a long way from home really.

BUT!!!! Would you believe that there is some history amongst all this industrial concrete and glass. The Harricks settles here and created a community in the mid 1800s.

Harrick's Cottage is of cultural significance as a rare surviving example of a pole constructed, tent shaped dwelling and is an example of an Irish immigrant settler's hut dating from the early 1860s. The pole and scantling tent structure built in 1861-62 forms the central part of the timber and weatherboard cottage complex added in 1886. It is of interest in demonstrating early vernacular building techniques commonly adopted by Irish farmers in the gold rush and post goldrush period in Victoria. The weatherboard and iron hipped roof cottage and skillion addition of c1886 is typical of the majority of Georgian style farmhouses and cottages which found widespread application in Australia as a result of immigration from Ireland and other parts of Britain (Criteria B.2 and D.2). Harrick's Cottage is of cultural significance because of its links with the sub-division and agricultural settlement of the Keilor region and for its association with James Harrick, a Councillor of long standing on the Keilor Shire Council from 1898 to 1910.

Then around the corner, I discovered another piece of architectural heritage in the style of a bluestone church.

I work so far from home that Friday nights its really nice to be welcomed home by a glass of sparkling white from Samur, dinner and a delightful desert that Sue put together while we relaxed in front of the tellie.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

La Madeleine - A Troglodyte Village

Mornings were taking on a pattern at Le Bugue – The morning ride then off to the local bar/café for a coffee and croissant while catching up on news at the local wifi hot spot. Each morning about 10.00 am, there was a dapper elderly French gentleman that would sit himself at the bar and have a small glass of Kir. He was of the generation that wore a beret and a tweed coat. A rather proper looking man he was.
He would look around and occasionally give us the eye but never acknowledged us.
I’ll let Sue tell you more.

OK. The beret for sure. Don't think the coat was tweed...but I digress....
Also, the kir was NOT small!
Each day I would smile, nod etc.. etc.
We were here each day because they had wifi and had the chance to catch up with home.
Finally Leon said. "you have to say hello".
Now I know that this is certainly not the French way. We should have kept going there, smiling and nodding for 3 or 4 years BUT, we're brash sort of Aussies and have no difficulty trading on that!
So the next day, the poor, unsuspecting bloke took his place and I went up with a big smile, introduced myself in French, told him we were Aussies (in French) and bought him his drink! How bold!
The next morning we were there when the man came in. He walked straight to our table, wished us a good day and shook my hand before making his way to the bar. That continued for our time in Le Bugue, and put a big smile on my face! I have to say the  man was also pretty smiley as though he appreciated our cheek!

The day’s adventure would not take us far from Le Bugue – not that you had to find something interesting in this region. La Madeleine was our destination.
The Abri de la Madeleine (The Magdalene shelter) was a prehistoric shelter and is now a site of Magdalenian prehistoric finds situated near Tursac, in the Dordogne département and the Aquitaine Région of South-Western France. It is the site of the discovery of the Bison Licking Insect Bite, a carving estimated 20,000 BC. (Wikipedia)
It’s only in relatively recent times that the cliff face town was abandoned, well compared to some of the other Troglodyte villages in the region. This one had a feeling of authenticity - others in the region had a touch of Disneyland about them. With La Madeleine, you could use your imagination to conjure up sights of what life may have been in this village. It was only discovered in 1863 and many of its treasures are now on display at Les Eyzies.
Further up the road there were more commercialized sights such as La Roque St-Christophe - they were decorated with furniture, implements and figures dressed in the era. More crowds, more costly - yes great sights But!!!
We did the drive-by with these sights and took in the exterior views - La Madeleine had a haunting atmosphere that the past inhabitants spirits may have still been there looking over our shoulder. Maybe it was because Sue and I were almost on our own.

Looking down on the Vezere from La Madeleine

La Madeleine sits on the huge bend of the Vezere River giving a great position of protection of any invaders on the river. It actually travels a couple of kilometres to retrace its course within 100m.

This carving of a bison licking itself was discovered at La Madeleine and is believed to be around 20,000 years old - carved by a neolithic artist

We looked out across the Vezere Valley from what was the home of a Troglodyte family of the past.

And we even walked into one of their homes set on this rocky cliff side.

La Madeleine Chapel, still well preserved - even to its stained glass window.

Just above La Madeleine are the ruins of the Medieval Chateau of Petit Marzac and the Dojon.

You almost expect some medieval knight to walk out of the ruins.
Sights like this that rose out of the forest made La Madeleine a place that I could revisit.

We did take a drive and came across La Roque St Christophe but there were just too many crowds and the car park was full, so we just took in the sights from the roadside.

Those holes in the rock face supported wooden walkways for the inhabitants. You can see how they carved the soft cliff face for their walkways.
In most cases, the only way to the cliff side villages was by a rope ladder and they had pulley systems to raise their provisions up the rock face.

The Dordogne and the Perigord Noir is a fascinating area and we could write so much more but on a blog there's just too much to describe - maybe there's a travel book in the wings one day. Maybe I'll call it "Wednesdays in France".

Here's two links if you'd like to read more on La Madeleine.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On My Way to Work - 1966

Friday’s post was a short one with three photos of Flinders Street Station.
When you live in your home city, sometimes you take these wonderful architectural structures for granted. Many no longer exist and they are forgotten. I know that when I was doing this post, many buildings that I would pass on my way to work in the late 1960s have gone.

Celebrating 100 years of the Victorian Railways.

The Flinders Street Station Ballroom - no longer in use.

The Ballroom as it is today.

Inside Flinders Street Station.

In my latter teenage years, and it was time to leave school, get a job and pay board at home (1/3rd of my salary), I traveled by train to Princes Bridge Station in the city. Later it became an extension of Flinders Street Station. The station was named after the bridge that crossed the Yarra River between the two stations. It was the first bridge to link the south and north of the city, before people crossed by punts at various locations along the river.

Princes Bridge crossing the Yarra River.

My first job was as an Interior Display Trainee at the Myer Emporium in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Sidney Myer was a pioneer of retailing in Melbourne. He started his business initially in Bendigo during the Gold Boom era. I was studying art and a fellow student mentioned that her brother worked at Myer as a Window Dresser and Interior Display officer. I thought that I could enjoy that sort of creative work, gained an interview and next thing I'm working at the Myer Emporium. It was a great gig for the next two years.

Princes Bridge Station with Saint Pauls Cathedral (to the left) before the spires were added.
Saint Pauls with the spires and Princes Bridge Station to the lower left corner.

The Princes Bridge Station has had a few incarnations, the most recent being Federation Square.
After a couple of years at Myer, I worked for the Gas and Fuel Corporation which was on this site. It was built in the 60s and considered an eyesore as it cut off the views across the river from the city.

The Gas and Fuel Twin Towers building was only two years old when I went to work with the Corporation as a Window Dresser. We call them Visual Merchandisers now. Back then we designed our own windows, painted the props and assembled the window display on our own.
It was demolished to make way for Federation Square which also had its detractors but is now a great part of Melbourne.

At the time our family home was in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and it could be considered to be the outer fringes, although from memory it was only about 7 miles out (we spoke in miles back then).  The train station of Keon Park was a short distance from home and the 4th station from the beginning of the line. This ensured a seat at that time of the morning. Coming home was a free for all to get a seat.

My train at my station - Keon Park.
Note the doors that you had open and they were all separate compartments.
In those days I rode the “Red Rattlers” to work. These trains and carriages, surprisingly were painted red, and they did rattle. They had these wonderful big chrome handles and you had to open the doors to the compartments yourself – no automatic doors then. I used to enjoy seeing the different advertisements inside the carriages – scenes of rural districts such as Noojee and Walhalla. These were places that the country trains could take you to for holidays in the country.
The carriages also had these metal and wire shelves for you to put your “kit bag” on. What’s a kit bag or should I say, a Gladstone bag? Some blokes would have a Gladstone bag for their lunch, newspaper and what ever so this, with their hat would be placed on these shelves. Gentlemen would never wear their hat in the carriage.

The Gladstone bags used by men on the way to work.
 My Red Rattler would stop at Princes Bridge Station and as you would walk up to street level, there on the opposite side was Flinders Street Station where those from the west of Melbourne would meet those from the north and east.

These workers most likely just stepped off from Flinders Street or Princes Bridge Stations on their way to work. The other side of the Yarra River was a manufacturing precinct. Note the hats and the Gladstone bags.
After arriving in the city it was a walk of three city blocks to the Myer Emporium. I used to wander through the laneways of Melbourne to get to work – how they have changed today. The laneways now have the most wonderful Cafes and eclectic shops.

The laneways that I would travel to my job at Myer are now filled with Cafes, and interesting shops.
Back then they had a sort of bohemian atmosphere.

I remember at Lunchtimes we would sometimes run down to Degraves Street to a club, a little like the Cavern in Liverpool to watch and listen to local bands before rushing back to work for the afternoon.

There were also some great record shops hidden away in the laneways where you could buy some hard to find jazz and blues records that weren't sold in the larger retail outlets.

A commisioned painting of the Myer Emporium.
My first job in 1966 was as an interior display trainee in this building.

The Myer Bourke Sreet store was located next to Sidney Myer's competitor, Buckley and Nunn. Myer still exists but Buckley and Nunn like many other great retail emporiums have now gone and are forgotten by today's generation.

The Mural Hall especially built for fashion shows and special events on the top floor of the Bourke Street store. Most likely taken in the 60s judging by the fashions.

These many early buildings were demolished by Sidney Myer to establish his Lonsdale Street store.
Although many buildings in Melbourne have been lost in time, we are very fortunated to have sources of photographic history thanks to the Internet. They have helped me remember my travels to work in those first years of employment.

My apologies for a self indulgent post - Maybe we'll do this again sometime!!!!!!!!!!!!