Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Continuing Saga of the Bathroom

Bit of a crazy weekend really. I did get two morning rides in but the mid-morning and afternoons were back to the bathroom renovation. Time for Sue was in the kitchen with guests arriving at 7.00 pm Saturday night for dinner. I said to Sue, "Let's order in Pizza". But no, that's not her way. I'll ask her to tell you about the dinner.

Saturday was the day to start grouting the tiles and filling some gaps in the walls. I've never added plaster board to walls before but it seemed to go OK - proof will be in the final touches when it comes to painting. As for grouting, I've done a heap before in the family room and hallway leading to the bathroom. It's meticulous and time consuming and my body aches from being on my knees constantly.
I'm pleased with the results to this point. I've cut tiles in half as a skirt which I will then attach to the walls once the vanity and bath have been fitted by the plumber. One thing I'm a bit apprehensive about is wall tiling. We will be tiling the walls with 600 mm x 300 mm stark white tiles to match the white of the accessories. I'm hoping we can get this all ready for the Plumber after next weekend which is by the way, Sue's birthday. It was this time last year we celebrated her Birthday in Paris. Not so lucky this year.

I'm using a grout called charred ash - it's like a charcoal colour.
With the tiles on the diagonal, it gives a Mediterranean look don't you think?
It's a slow process of grouting, squeegeeing and wiping off the residue.
The charred ash grout contrasts well against the terracotta of the tiles.
I brought the toilet bowl and the vanity in for the plumber to fit.
The bath will also be put into place but there's further work to be done beforehand.
This is a caramelised beetroot and goats cheese tart with a salad of rocket and toasted walnuts on top. Served on a puff pastry round. The salad is dressed with white balsamic and walnut oil.  It was very nice. An interesting way to cook the beetroot, in that you cut it into batons while it's raw, then it's cooked briefly in acidulated water. Then you cook it in a little oil with a cinnamon quill, some balsamic and brown sugar and reduce it until it's syrupy. I will definitely make this again.
This is a Bill Granger recipe. Very easy, pretty quick and delicious. It's called Coq au Vin, and while it uses many of the same ingredients, it is definitely not traditional. Herbed baby chats, big green salad and crusty bread. Perfect autumn food.
Also, the leftovers, which was mostly sauce and potatoes, with just a little chicken, made a great lunch for Leon and I today.
Tried a dessert I hadn't attempted before. It was very rich, but I knew I had some chocolate lovers  coming. It was a chocolate tart that I made with 70% cocoa butter chocolate and it had Pedro Ximenez sherry in it. On top were raisins which had been marinated in a a mix with more sherry. Then the raisins were cooked until they became syrupy. The raisins were popped on the tart, and the syrup was whisked into some cream to serve with the chocolate tart. Yummo!
Leon, of course always has 50/50 tart and cream!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Maybe my Favorite Song - this week.

This has to be a great song - it mentions my favorite beatle but it shows so many more emotions.
Young Old
Different skins
Laughing Loving
I saw you first.

We saw each other second
How lucky were we?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ancanthus in the Languedoc

We have run out of Wednesday's in France travelogues. Our five trips to France since 2006 have caught up with us - what to do now. Our Blogger friend Diane suggested that we use a single photo that we may or may not have used before each Wednesday. We'll take her advice and tell you a story - relate a memory around that one picture. Hope you can still join us. It's another 16 months before we return to Sue's spiritual home.
Ancanthus in the Languedoc
Back in 2006, we took our first trip to France. It was our once in a lifetime holiday - that's what we thought at the time. We flew into Charles de Gaulle and stayed a couple of nights in Paris before taking the TGV to Avignon and doing an overnight stay at Arles in the south of France in the region of Languedoc. We'd booked a one week stay in Saint Chinian - Why? Sue's sister and brother-inlaw stayed there and spoke of it in glowing terms. We've since discovered it could be in many places of France that you would speak in glowing terms. We must say though that Saint Chinian still holds some special memories and we have been back.

The picture below is of the villa we stayed at. It was once the personal home of Andreas and Anthony who have a rental business in the Languedoc and if we return again, we would always ask their advice.
That little balcony you see gave us some very pleasurable nights after dinner, usually spent with a glass of wine and some music wafting from the sitting room.

Saint Chinian sits in the middle of the Languedoc wine producing district. It's had vineyards since ancient times of Roman occupation - since the first Roman road through Gaul to Spain - the Via Domitia.
While writing this I had a flash of nostalgia and googled the area and Andreas and Anthony's website appeared. If we arrived at the villa today and stayed for a week, it would cost us 240 euro.

She says;
Leon always asks me to review before he posts, and usually i'll just enjoy and say yes... but gosh, I loved this house! The guys who owned it lived there for a while, and their taste was impeccable. We adored our stay here, both with the house and the area, and would encourage anyone wanting to rent in this area to contact these guys!
Maybe next year...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Weekend as a Diary - or what did you do?

Weekends as a rule are a time to relax after a long working week. I tend unwind with a Saturday morning ride. Its now Autumn in Melbourne, a nice time to be here. The grass is growing with a lush greeness, and the leaves take on the colours of orange and light brown as they fall on the courtyard bricks of our back yard.

BUT, NO Saturday morning ride today. Sue is having the vanity and toilet delivered and I need to be home. Yesterday our Plumber arrived to work on the pipes and now its my turn. A weekend of flurry.

The plumber took out the toilet and the basin during the week so I had two days to get my bum into gear. I actually felt quite guilty not riding the bike this weekend.
The walls and floor require a coating of membrane that protects the base from moisture. When we had our renovations done over two decades ago, I discovered that the so called professionals took short cuts that now see the need for me to renovate the renovations. Not happy - when I see their short cuts.

He also cut the water flow within the bathroom so I could prepare for his next visit.
We are doing these upgrades for the future when we sell up,  but regardless,  our renovations will reflect a certain amount of integrity. After all, this is the house where we were married, raised two boys, celebrated many family occasions. It's a house that another family we hope will do the same.

So it was off to Bunnings to get the materials I required. On the list was fibreboard for the walls, paint on membrane to seal the walls before tiling and some other bits and pieces that depleted my wallet. No special treats this week for lunch.
Back to our weekend - it started with the membrane painting. The joins required a section of fibreglass webbing which was laid upon the first coat of membrane coat and then took a second coat to seal the joins. That took all of Saturday and part of Sunday.

All the corners have been 1st coated with a water proof membrane and a section of fibreglass webbing which is given another coating to seal the joints against moisture. Why didn't the professionals two decades ago do this when they did our renovations????
On Sunday afternoon, I'd finished the waterproof membrane base. The next step is to mark out the tile laying. We are using the same tiles that we laid in the family room and hallway the leads to the bathroom. The tiles need to convey a symmetry and so I laid out the pencil marks that would visually achieve this. At this stage I'm actually getting rather excited.

I finally completed the walls with the waterproofing membrane coating.
The next step was to mark out the tiles location. Now I'm not a square sort of person so I'm laying the tiles in a diamond shape - very Mediterranean, don't you think?
I do apologise for my poor photography but after all this work over the weekend, I'm passed it. More next weekend.
Now tell me - what did you do this weekend?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Melbourne Buskers on Funky Friday.

Buskers come in all shapes and sizes - some amazing, some not. Melbourne like any big city has its fair share.

We met this old guy just trying to make a living by busking.
But this young lady is amazing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ladybird in Melbourne

For a blogger friend of ours in Brussels. Martine (LadyBird) - were you in Melbourne this week?
 Bet you wish you had this number plate.

Ladybird's blog @

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Last Coffee in Paris

Last coffee in Paris brings us to the end of our Wednesday's in France for the time being. We've covered our 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010 trips. Our 2012 trip is not yet 12 months ago, well almost as it was Sue's 60th birthday trip last May, so I guess you followed that already.

We are saving frantically for a trip in 2014 that takes us back to France and the Loire - Sue's spiritual home. It will also take in Italy so I can ride my bike on the Strada Bianca of Toscana.
So what will happen to Wednesday's in France? One of our readers, Diane suggested that we post a picture of France from our collection every Wednesday, now that seems like a good idea.

It happens doesn't it - you leave for home and you have all this loose change that has no purpose or use back in Australia. So what do you do? You buy a coffee, your last in Paris before going to CDG airport and contemplate those great memories - experiences that live forever. The places you've seen - the people you've met (and re-met).
How fortunate are we. Thanks to those who have popped in to read of our travels through France.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World

I've just about finished reading the book, "The Most Beautiful Walk in the World" by John Baxter. He's an Australian and has lived in Paris for over two decades. He gives literary walks around Paris, lives in the same building that the Shakespeare and Company's founder Sylvia Beach once lived.
The book gave me a thought to do a post of people walking around Paris. That's what we do, don't we when in Paris. I have driven a car, I have ridden a bike but to walk the streets, smell, see and absorb the various stages of the day in Paris is an experience. Morning, lunch, night - all have a special moment, well they do for us.
The book - worth a read.
We are now coming to our last days on this, our 2010 trip to France. This was our fourth time, well we could say eighth time in Paris, City of Light. We fly in, stay a few days to recover from over 20 to 30 hours of travel and walk the streets of Paris. After driving the length and breath of France, we return to Paris and stay in an apartment usually for a week before returning home to Melbourne, our home by the bay.

Back to John Baxter's book;
It talks of walking the streets and taking in the hidden treasures, the mysteries of Paris. Being a writer, Baxter mentions the stories behind the times of Earnest Hemingway, The Fitzgeralds, and of course Sylvia Beach. He takes you to Montmartre, Montparnasse and to the seedy parts of old Paris where there were bordellos and opium dens.
It's a great read filled with great stories told with humour.

This man emerged with a file in his hand from this wonderful doorway - why?
People walking the covered hallways - it was raining outside!!!
People enjoying festivities.
Us enjoying the cool spring Paris night with friends.
Walking the Champs
Walking by doorways
Passing by shops in the rain
Buying the morning baguette
About to buy some chocolate from a very famous shop - maybe!

Or buy a book by the Seine and read it in the spring sunshine
Or walk my bike
Or just make an exhibition of myself.....Does anyone care in Paris?
Walk, walk and walking - in those shoes????????
I really need a rest - I've walked all day.
OMG - are we really in Paris, I don't believe we are really here.
Don't look dear - just some more crazy little girly tourists - not real Parisiennes like ouselves. Don't we look cool?
Our 2010 trip is coming to a close and our previous posts on Sue's 60th birthday trip to France maybe to recent to re post for Wednesdays in France so I'm in a quandary as to what we do for our usual French Wednesday posts. Maybe we might draw a scene from the 1000s of pictures from 5 trips to our spiritual home. We can't wait to 2014 when we can return to France.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Mentone's Past

Mentone Melbourne took its name from the town on the French/Italian border. It took many street names from the areas of Italy. Milan, Naples, the Corso were some. There are other Mentone town's, I found a few in the United States. California, Texas, Alabama being a few.
Sue and I visited Menton in France on our way to Italy in 2006 only for the fact that we live in Mentone Melbourne.

I thought I would post few pictures I stole from our local Council Historical Society - the "old" seems to hold a special interest to us. What is happening to our lovely suburb is not to our liking these days - it is becoming very high density and we have more traffic lights, less parking but that might just say more about us and what we would like from our lifestyle these days. Maybe you would like to make comment on your lifestyle.

Mentone early subdivision took on an Italian persona with the naming of the streets. Being on the bayside it still looks like the Mediterranean cost line,

And the French/Italian area it takes its name.
We had our own grand Movie House - Its now gone.
I wish I had the opportunity to have seen a movie here - it was demolished for a road widening project,
We had our own pier and sea baths - it's now gone.
We also had our own bakery - it's also now gone..
But it is now the local historical museum.
We had our own Metro Fire Brigade - we still have although I believe it may be in another location which is now only two blocks from our home. I wonder if this picture is of the same location. I'll look that up.
Oh yes and we had a skating rink but that's gone.

The same skating rink - a bit earlier before they paved the roads.
This was the gasometers in Mentone but that's also gone - maybe not a bad thing.
This is the local primary school which is probably now over 130 years old, Sue taught here and occasionally still does a bit of emergency teaching.
It is one of the few pieces of old Mentone that remain although it is now two story with many more modern classroom on the grounds.
Although the roads in this picture are dirt, the building to the left is still there and the Mentone Coffee Palace, now a girls catholic school still exist. It's nice to know that some of old Mentone has survived.
Maybe in a future post I might do a story on modern Mentone - the Mentone that seems to draw a greater population to Bayside living.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Jack turned 92 today

Today was my father's 92nd birthday - isn't he grand?
Since he can't ride his road bike any longer he's now on the stationary bike  still clocking up the kms.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Basilica Saint Denis. Resting Place of Kings and Queens of France

We find that we learn more after a trip to the many places that we have visited due to blogging. You tend to research these places when posting - that's a great thing because it opens your eyes to the facts and figures behind the great sights. Basilica Saint Denis was one of these experiences.

We caught the Metro out to Saint Denis. It was another of those "Must See" places on our list. I was intrigued by the legend behind the Basilica. The story unfolds with the legend of the first Bishop of Paris being beheaded at the hill of Montmartre and then with head in hands, he walked to the site of the now Basilica where he was buried. A Martyrium was built over his remains. This was followed by a church commissioned by Saint Genevieve, Patron Saint of Paris.

The Basilica holds the remains of France's many past kings and queens. Dagobert I (639), the last king of the Merovington dynasty is buried here along with Clovis I (511) . I must learn more of him as he seems to have been a most powerful reigning King over France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Nederlands.

Basilica Saint Denis

We marvelled at the tombs, effigies and the thought that we were walking amongst centuries of French royalty. The history of French rule existed within the confines of Saint Denis Basilica. The artistry of the tombs is amazing.

Most amazing of all was the tomb of Louis XII and Anne Bretagne - looking more closely you see them lying naked with expressions that would be described as at their moment of death. Above these effigies are the couple in prayer and possibly contemplating their own mortality. Who knows, but to see it is to form your own opinion.

Further below in the crypt and the foundations of the earlier church where Saint Denis was believed to have been buried lay stone coffins. Where we were standing took us back to around 260 AD when Saint Denis was said to have been buried here.

We would have to say to anyone visiting Paris to take the day and hop on the Metro to Saint Denis - don't rush it, take time to absorb centuries of French Royalty history. I think it deserves a second visit after publishing this post. It's a shame I didn't know more before our visit, I would have been richer for it.