Sunday, July 31, 2011

Signs of Spring

I've been renovating No 2 son's bedroom, so during the morning I was indoors. Towards the late morning I took a wander around the yard and noticed that colour was returning. Splashes of pink and white seep out from the green on the jasmine. The Camellia is blooming and the weeping cherry has numerous buds. I think spring may be early this year.

The blooming Camellia.
Do you enjoy a Rose?
Time for the first Rose for the season.

And the first BBQ - Many more to come we hope.

We had a top of 20 degrees, wispy wind and a sunny day encouraged people to be out in shorts and T-shirts today as I drove through the city. I saw people sitting on sidewalk cafes and bars taking the warmth after a cold winter this year - well when I say cold, we never reach those minus things. Brrrrrrrr, not for us.
So now the first signs of spring are upon us.

Remember this piccie from during the week? I passed by on the weekend in day time.

It looks different, doesn't it??

I found this building nearby the Collingwood Town Hall.
Bit of an unorganised weekend but really pleased to feeling the onset of spring. I might even get a little more enthusiastic about getting up for early training rides. - Hmmm, we'll see. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friday Foto

Driving home from watching some friends racing at our indoor velodrome, I drove by the Collingwood Town Hall. Our early family grew up in this district and its surrounds in the late 1800s to the 1950s.
It was an area that thrived on manufacturing, especially the textile and shoe trade. Today these trades are virtually non-existent.

I took this photograph on my Samsung mobile phone. A friend of mine posts on his blog, exclusively on his iPhone - you'll see his blog on my side-bar.

Have to go now - it's almost pass my bed time.

Collingwood Town Hall, Hoddle St - 8.45 pm Thursday Night.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On the way to Confolens

It had been an awe inspiring week in the Dordogne but it was time to move on. Our next stop was Confolens via Limoges for a morning tea stop, and lunch. We drove the 40 odd kms to bypass Perigueux which was a shame as our "Rough Guide" told us that the original site was founded sometime around 400BC. Then came the Romans followed by the Germanic Barbarians. Later the city was affected by both the Wars of Religion and the 100 years War. We missed seeing its Medieval and Renaissance heart. The next 100 kms on would be our coffee stop at Limoges.

I must admit that except for the coffee and the Brocante we might not have enjoyed Limoges but there's always hidden treasures in every village or city. The bigger the city the harder it is to find those treasures sometimes.

Limoges was midway between our time in Provence and the Languedoc on our way to Normandy and then back to Paris.

We found parking in a side street and walked by shop fronts with the crockery of Limoges and then on to an open square - It all seemed deserted until we discovered that most people were at the Brocante. How lucky were we to discover a "hidden treasure".

By chance it was Saturday and Limoges was having a Brocante.

A side walk cafe stop for coffee before discovering more interesting Brocante stalls.

I can't resist a pic with a Deux Cheveaux in there somewhere.

What do you think - Gaudi comes to Limoges??????

Its a bit of a worry when you come across "the Ladies of the Night" with a sign with a map of Australia outside.
Ohooo La La

The narrow lane ways and wooded houses did offer some ambiance of Limoges.

 We actually stayed longer in Limoges after discovering the Brocante and decided lunch there - the city started to buzz in the late morning and into the early afternoon.
It was still another 60 odd kms to go but we decided to let Tommy take us his way to Confolens and we are so pleased he did - he showed us some wondrous pieces of history that we may never have discovered - BUT more next Wednesday.

OK maybe a little teaser


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Friday to Sunday

Driving home from work Friday night, I knew it would be a tiring weekend to come. Late nights with watching the exciting last three nights to the Tour de France and helping my son paint his bedroom were on the agenda.

Sue told me she was in a cooking mood, something that always fills me with anticipation on a Friday night.
Fish was on the menu and I couldn't wait to get home to open a bottle of white wine to compliment the fish.

All I'd  fancied for a few days was fish, and the tinned tuna sandwiches I'd been having for lunch just weren't doing the trick!  So this is what I ended up with after a visit to my fishmonger. Some mussels and a couple of baby snapper, both from our bay and sparking fresh. Yummo!

The daggy, cut off the fins bit....why did you photograph that Leon? Especially with the strange band aided alien finger!

I cooked the mussels in a little white wine until they opened. Made a quick stuffing of sour dough breadcrumbs, garlic (lots) lemon rind, spring onion and popped it on top a mussel. Drizzle of olive oil and a couple of minutes under the grill.
Very noice. (That a very broad Aussie accent:))

Filled the cavity with lemon slices and a couple on the top. Then wrapped in buttered parchment paper and foil and popped it in the oven. Opened the parcel in about 10 minutes and turned the heat up so the skin would go a bit crispy. Served with an avocado and lettuce salad. Home made oven baked fries in  a little bowl on the side.

Our cat, Gem, was NOT amused! The happy ending for her and our other cat Rosie, was that I couldn't finish my fish and they both feasted very well later, AND the following day.
All in all, my fish cravings are sated ...for now.
Late nights were instore for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Alp d'Heuz on the Friday night was "edge of the seat" stuff with Cadel having bike problems but his team waited and brought him back into the race at the important moment to limit any losses.
Saturday night with the time trial and Cadel lying 57 seconds behind Andy Schlek was always going to be the pivotal point - Cadel did Australia proud by not only making up his deficit but motoring to a commanding lead over his opposition to take second, only seven seconds behind the Time Trial winner Tony Martin from Germany.

Cadel after his 2nd pace and rising to 1st overall in the penultimate stage.

It seems that Australia closed down and out whole population are in France - That is except for us.
Aussie flags, kangaroos were everywhere to be seen.

The overall classification puts Cadel in a commanding lead for the ride to the Champs on Sunday.
Will I be watching - you betcha...
The first Australian to stand on the top step of the podium is history making.
I remember the pride I felt when we won the America's Cup.

Cadel signs his first yellow jersey for 2011.

I did this little tribute to a nice bloke that just won this year's Tour de France. We are very proud of Cadel.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Because - Moonlight Sonata - Inspiration or what!!!!

I loved John Lennon's music - He was inspirational in many ways when I was young.
Tell me, was he inspired by Beethoven when he was young?

Tune in Monday

Shane Howard & Saturday Song

In the early 80s I had Goanna's first album - it was a time of change in Aussie Music. In latter years, maybe around 2000 I discovered Mary Black. She probably discovered Shane Howard at the same time. She also recorded a Neil Finn (Crowded House) song. Both Shane and Neil have enjoyed some recognition in Ireland due to her successes with their songwriting.

In 1993, Shane made his first tour of Ireland when Irish star Mary Black's recording of Shane's song, "Flesh & Blood", was a Top 5 hit there. He has since toured Ireland and Australia regularly with Black, who has recorded several of his songs. (From Shane's website)

This clip comes from a local Melbourne show, "ROCKWIZ" and at the end there is usually a duet. On this occasion, Mary Black was in Australia and invited to Rockwiz to perform with Shane.

Solid Rock was the first hit for Shane Howard's Goanna. He's one of the few Aussie Rock Bands in the 80s, along with Midnight Oil to write and perform songs dealing with Aboriginal Rights in Australia.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Limeuil - 5 Kms from Le Bugue

It was on another early morning ride that I discovered Limeuil, a village perched on a limestone ridge overlooking the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere rivers. There was more to meet the eye than what I saw on the surface of this quaint little village on the ride - but more about that later.
Back home after the ride, I said to Sue, "Do I have a surprise for you today, no not diamonds dear, but certainly a rough diamond." So after pottering around at home and then into Le Bugue for the morning email catch up with family, I drove Sue to Limeuil. You take a road that mostly follows the Vezere river until you get near the village (about 5 kms) but instead of following the lower road you take a right hand turn that takes you up a steep incline. I have to say that earlier in the morning it did take some effort to climb into the village on a single gear bike.

It was May 8 and as we arrived the villagers were slowly wandering up to the church. It was VE Day of course and French flags were flying on many of the Medieval houses of the village, some are quite large where others are minuscule as if they were inhabited by hobbits. The lawns and gardens of the village are beautifully manicured and you can see why it is rated as "One of the Most Beautiful Villages of France".
As the villagers wandered up to the church I couldn't help noticing that they were all older people going to pay their respects to the fallen. Maybe there are no young people in the village!
Limeuil's website tells us that this limestone outcrop has been inhabited since prehistoric times and artifacts dated from 10,000BC have been found. The village has a very authentic Medieval feel about it with its three fortified gateways and the ruins of the castle and ramparts.

Travelling through rural France in your own car has its benefits and for us, travelling on a guided tour with other tourists is not to our liking. You miss these rough diamonds, the hidden treasures that are not on the tourist bus route. Its also nice not to hear another English accent.
And its even better on a bike.
Hidden treasures around every corner. You just needed to explore.
Is this a Hobbit house or what?

The villagers were obviously proud of their surroundings.
The lawns and gardens were picture perfect.

The obligatory  French village window picture.

And there it was - just waiting for some TLC, a Citroen Mahari. Just a beefy 2CV really.

Not sure if this place was inhabited but there was this French flag out for VE day.
Love the textures and various colours of the stones on this house, and its wheelchair friendly as well.

Every French village has its "Place" or square and the Marie. I took this as people started to gather for the VE service. Look further up towards the gap in the buildings in the distance.

We left by this lovely little road that took us back to Le Bugue.
This would be our last full day in Le Bugue - the next day we needed to be in Confolens for a two night stay on our way to the Loire Valley. Along the way we stopped at Limoges and followed the path of Richard the Lionheart, and then stumbled upon a ruined castle. The ruins were deserted, that is until nature called, but that's another story next Wednesday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our Village is Changing.

Mentone when we moved in during the early 1980s was where you went to buy clothes, hardware, groceries and go to the local bank or Milk Bar. Things have changed. The ambiance is changing. We don't know if its good or bad.
Just near the railway station is a multi-level apartment building going up with shops and cafes below. It looks like an exciting project but will we like it? More people, more cars, making it harder to park at our local village shopping centre.

In our time the good changes have been the various cafes and restaurants that have opened. The clothing and furniture shops have closed down because the people go to the huge shopping centres. If you need materials to renovate your home then the local hardware shop has been replaced by the huge Bunnings renovation warehouses. Maybe its good but I do feel sorry for those local village stores that have had to close their doors.
Called in to a cafe after 45 min into our ride this morning - it was 3 degrees and my fingertips were freezing even though I had thermal gloves. We decided that wrapping our hands around a Hot Chocolate was a good idea.
They even had a replay of the previous nights TdF. The signed Australian Jersey to the left on the wall is Robbie McEwan's. Other elite Aussie cyclists signed jerseys adorn the walls of CAFE RACER.

I just love this poster on the wall. Dad in the French colours with his son. 
The businesses that have closed have been replaced by many cafes and restaurants which is a bonus. Looking for a Sunday brunch - no problem in Mentone, maybe a coffee and a read of the local newspaper, several choices there. What sort of cuisine to you prefer, Asian, Eastern, Italian, Indian - its all there in Mentone.
Our population is growing - as prices closer to the city increase, commuters to the city are looking for apartments close to railways - this new complex is across the road from Mentone Station.

Fancy a coffee while waiting for the bus or train?

Or maybe a Sunday Brunch at this cafe (JAVA). No shortage of choice in Mentone.
Perhaps take a way noodles for a quick meal at home in front of the telly.
Or Italian here before going home!!
Maybe Thai would be to your liking.

Greek could be nice for tonight's meal.

Then of course Chinese with chop sticks might delight.
 I guess we'll have to see where the next few years take us - our choice is to roll with the changes or move. This is a choice we will contemplate over the next few years as we look at backing off from the fast life.