Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Man's Rubbish is another Man's Treasure

It's been happening for a couple of weeks now - people are putting their rubbish out for the annual hard rubbish collection. Scavengers are lurking the neighbourhood streets in search of treasure.

Our hard rubbish consists of two "cat scratched" couches. Our poor departed Rosie refused to use the cat scratching post. She waited till we went to bed and then started to work on our couches.

There are a few chairs out there as well. My brother in-law found them on the hard rubbish many years ago and with our house sprucing, we don't need them any longer so maybe they'll be recycled by a scavenger.

By leaving our hard rubbish late to put out, it stays neat.
Our neighbour across the road started early and the scavengers picked what they wanted and left their neat stacks terribly untidy.
Our next door neighbour has no hard rubbish but then they have always been very neat.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wot Pisses me Orf!! Or, my Friday Grump

Wot pisses me orf about Melbourne lately - or maybe more about Mentone is the high density living in our once backwater peaceful little village atmosphere of Mentone. We moved here 30 odd years ago and it was full of old folk that were welcoming and friendly. They have passed away and now we, yes that's Sue and I have become those old folk in the street.

Once we would meet people in our street and chat, we'd close off the street for the Xmas street party. It hasn't happened for years. In fact,you hardly get a wave from some neighbours. Fortunately we do have some close neighbours still and that's really nice and reassuring that that village feel is not totally lost.
But as the years go by and us older residents move on, I'm sure what we have enjoyed with our neighbours will be lost.
This is what I see from our backyard over our garage - what are they building over there?

Many multi-level apartments are being built in Mentone. The old buildings are being replaced to house those Double Income No Kids (DINKs) professional couples. I'm sounding like a grumpy old man - well I'm getting to that stage. I hate the multi-rise buildings in our area, I don't like the fact that the new neighbours don't have the time to say hello when they walk by while I'm in the front garden.

Cranes blot our skyline to build more human filing cabinets and we are 20 kms from the Melbourne CBD.
It reminds me of the Tom Waits song - "I wonder what he's building in there".

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Wednesday in Italy

Both these photos are of a hilltop village in Tuscany.
Montalcino is where we will return in 2014. It's hard to believe it was 2006 since we were last there.

The reason for our return is to meet a group of cycling friends from Australia to do a ride called "L'Eroica". The event is basically a Gran Fondo, a ride for fun over three choices of distance. It covers the hills and dirt roads throughout the Chianti district on October 5, 2014.

Our bikes must echo the romantic period of Italian cycling up until the 1980s, before carbon fibre frames and all the modern technology of today. As we cycle from village to village we will be fed along the way by the friendly local inhabitants with cheese, pizza, pasta and of course the beautiful wine of Chianti.
Talking of wine, the most furthest distance from the start of the ride will be Montalcino where the famous Brunello di Montalcino rosso is produced. It lies about 30 miles from Siena where Sue and I hope to stay for two nights before the ride.

Looking out from an archway of Montalcino over the Val d'Orcia
A wall hanging bought in Montalcino will always bring back memories from Tuscany.

Just a teaser for our ride

Sunday, September 22, 2013

From Empty Nesters to a Full House

From empty nesters to a full house in December - Our two boys will be home from overseas. Andrew has beem in the UK and other places for two years. Mitchy took off for India and South America and both will be back home in late November/early December. So from just the two of us, we'll be five soon

Just got off the phone to Jack, he's my Dad - a regular feature of the blog. He's visiting in December to come to what he calls the Boozy-do. Its a meeting of old bike riders. If he never won a bike race (but he did) in his life, he's winning the race of his life because he's the oldest bloke there. Recently I've been filling his chair for him but I feel like a youngster although his old mates make me feel welcome.

As you may know I've been painting our bedroom and I'll expect that I will complete it next weekend. Next project is too do the study (or 4th bedroom) before Jack comes down from the Gold Coast.
The great thing about his visit is that he'll spend time with our two boys, Andy and Mitchy, his grandsons.
Jack also has a great grandchild so he's doing OK.

Jack with Andy - He's studying in Leeds and will be back home soon. Andy is the academic in the family , just like his mum Sue.
Jack with Mitchy - Mitchy is in Peru or somewhere in South America.
You can read his blog on our sidebar on our post.
Jack and me. He's doing his Leonard Cohen impersonation.
Probably sings as bad as Leonard. 
How many of us live to be a great grandfather - go Jack.
Sorry my post is short but its been a very busy weekend. Hope yours has bee a little more relaxing.
PS: We are also planning our next overseas trip to Italy and France at the end of September next year.
More to come on that soon.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Wednesday in Tuscany

San Gimignano - a Medieval New York

13 towers in all - just like the ones you see here
The plague of 1348 held its people in fear
Although it put the town in decline
It was also preserved it in time.

From our 2006 trip - a week in Tuscany

Monday, September 16, 2013

Long Weekend at Lorne

Lorne is 138 kms from the Melbourne CBD - add another 25 to that and that's how far it is from our home in Mentone. The hard part of the drive is just getting from our side of Melbourne to the freeway that takes you by Geelong and down to the Great Ocean Road but its well worth the effort because then you come across the most inspiring piece of Victorian scenery. 
Lorne is situated on Louitt Bay within the Surf Coast Shire. During the off-season the town is home to 1000 full timers but as the holiday season arrives, Lorne grows to 13,000 with the influx of holiday makers.

The reason we were in Lorne was for the 120 kms Gran Fondo bike ride starting from Lorne to Skene's Creek where we were then confronted with a ten kilometre hill climb into the Otway Ranges. The terrain then becomes what I guess you would call undulating before reaching Dean's Marsh where we decided it was time for a coffee break before tackling another ten kilometre climb to the official finish. Having said "official finish", it was actually another ten kilometres back to Lorne for a cool beer. Fortunately it was all down hill from the ranges where we were hitting speeds of up to 70 kph. I love downhill.

To the left are two of my fellow riders, Kim and Paula who with their friend Jenny enjoyed their experience of the first Amy Gillett Gran Fondo. They did themselves proud.
4000 plus riders lined up in perfect weather conditions for the 110 kms course.
Lorne has a rich history from its foundation in the mid-1800s. Folklore tells us that it was inhabited by the King Parrot people or maybe that's what the early settlers called the original native inhabitants. With the amazing bird life here, such as the King Parrots, Kookaburras and Cockatoos, it may well have been an appropriate name for the indigenous people of the region.
The first European settler was William Lindsay, a timber cutter in 1849. During that time the bay was only accessible only by boat. Later a bush track found its way to Lorne but it wasn't until the early 1900s that Lorne really became accessible with the building of the "Great Ocean Road".
It was built between 1919 and 1932, mainly by returned soldiers in memory of their fallen mates. Being 243 kms long it is deemed as the world's longest War Memorial. 

One of Australia's great tourist attractions.

1891 Rudyard Kipling visited Lorne and was inspired to write the poem, 
Buy my hot-wood clematis
Buy a frond of fern
Gathered where the Erskine leaps
Down the road from Lorne
Kipling was writing about the Erskine falls a little less than 10 kms into to the Otway Ranges behind Lorne.
On arrival we thought a glass of wine at the famous Grand Pacific Hotel located on the point of the bay would be a nice thing to do in the mid afternoon. It overlooked the ocean through a filter of conifers.
Through the conifers you can see a pier. Every year a swim that goes by the title of "Pier to Pub" is held here.
We stayed just one street up from the main street of Lorne in my employer's holiday apartment for the long weekend which over looked Lorne and Louitt Bay. In the morning we looked out from the balcony and we were faced with an amazing sight of the sun rising from the horizon and we knew that we were gifted for a perfect day for the ride.

Early morning before the ride overlooking Lorne.
Clouds are burning off as the sun rises and we are looking forward to the perfect riding conditions.
Bad photo but needed to show you these guys (King Parrots) come to eat from your hands.
We decided to drive back home this morning via the coastal towns of Torquay, home of the world wide surf clothing label of Rip Curl, Anglesea and on to Queenscliff for lunch. Queenscliff sits on the opening to Port Phillip Bay. A ferry travels from Queenscliff to Sorrento which may well be a future post on "Melbourne Our Home by the Bay". We'll see.

Meanwhile, I think I may need to get back to painting the bedroom so we are back in there before the end of the month.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another Wednesday in Italy

The Tuscan autumn morning sun
highlights a shuttered window
in the hilltop walled village of
Monticchiello - 2006

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Leading you up the garden path to a purple patch

Its back - spring purple patches all over our garden. Well I call it a garden but really it's just a hotch potch of whatever survives. It seems that purple survives very well in our jungle. In the front we have lavender, wisteria and blue bells (that really are purple). Neither of us have green thumbs. 
These photos were taken on my iPhone as I left for work this morning.
A Melbourne Spring Morning

Lavender is poking out of the soil and cracks in the garden path.
Wisteria is now climbing our walls after being savagely cut back by our gardner son, Mitchy.

Why call them blue-bells if they are purple or did I get that wrong?

How about a bit of Purple Haze by the 2 Cellos

Sunday, September 08, 2013


A milestone completed - the Bedroom Renovation is one step further along.

The whole room is now undercoated and the ceiling has its final coat of paint. There are some minor imperfections. Well after all the house is 84 years old. That's obviously young by European standards but in Melbourne many houses in the Bayside area this old have been pulled to make way for more modern homes to suit the needs of the modern family.

So here I am painting and the spring sun shines through the bedroom window and started to make patterns on the walls and ceiling.

The spring sunshine casts a shadow on the ceiling with the impression of the bedroom lead light window.
And who is this? The painting man.
Our house still has the original light fittings - they add that charm of the era.
Being only the "really" only second owners of the house, many of the original  features remain.
If memory serves me correctly, this would have to be the bedroom's 3rd incarnation in the 30 years we've been here - it will be the definitely the last. The carpet layer comes next week to measure up by which time I hope to complete painting the walls and woodwork. By the end of September we'll be back in the bedroom.

The room is now ready to add paint to the walls before the carpet arrives.
Sue decided on new knobs for the built in robes. Should go well with the French theme.
I think the next room will be the study/fourth bedroom in time for my father's visit in December.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Weekend Renovations

I call my girlfriend Hinges because she's something to adore. Bad humour I know but I'm tired after the week's work and now its back to the bedroom renovation.
I've now undercoated and have to top coat before we have new carpet laid in two weeks.
Sue is helping with preparing the doors and then painting them - great job Sue.
Somewhere in my sub-concious this song by Steve and the Board came to mind with the work Sue was doing and I have to say that she really is someone to adore.

It's going to be a busy weekend.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Let's do Italy on Wednesday

The Church
in Monticchiello.

We'd just returned 
from Firenze
where we delivered our son Andrew
to catch a plane to Moscow.

Sue lit a candle
in the church
for our son not yet 21
to symbolise
a safe journey.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Spring comes to Mentone

End of August - the start of September and Spring - life is good.
The sun is shining - our first BBQ and possums in the garden.

Actually no pedal pushing this weekend - spending time with my daughter.
Doesn't the jasmine look great and the perfume - spring is here.
My lovely daughter is down from Queensland to visit for a long weekend and Sue's brother joined us for the BBQ. 20+ degrees. just perfect. It's good to be in Melbourne today.
The garden is starting to bloom, not to mention the weeds.

Limes are growing - a sure sign of spring.
Maybe the Jacaranda will start adding purple to the back yard soon.
Lavender and Wisteria are showing their colours in the front garden.
Just outside the bedroom window - red hits us in the face.
Just a quiet family BBQ with Sue, daughter Carly and the Bro-in law, John.
The possums came to join us for a spring evening BBQ.
Mum and baby possum. Taken by bro in-law John.
We did get a few hours in on both days to continue with the bedroom renovation.
This one is for a retired Blogger Craig who said he'd pop in from time to time.
Not as intensive as the bathroom saga but it does take up relaxation time on weekends.
Back to work tomorrow.
How was your weekend?