Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Shopping and a Long Drive

On holidays - time to relax, yeah right, not on your Nelly!!!!!

Up at 5.30 that's AM to go for a ride with my son Mitch on Beach Road - the Bay looks fantastic at that time of morning and we finish off with a muggachino while telling each other tales and experiences of  the past.
Mostly exaggerated of course. our memories extend the tales to humour with much guffaws - that's what blokes do.

Mitch didn't join us for coffee and when I arrived home, I discovered he went back to bed. Young fella couldn't live up to us old blokes. (mind you, I feel like a nano nap now at 4.00 pm)

Mitch is working at a music festival so we dropped him of at a friend's home so he could get a lift. I said to Sue, "Why don't we do some shopping at Mediterranean Wholesaler". It's a traditional Italian Supermarket in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Brunswick is not easy to get to from Bayside but its worth it when you get there.
And we always buy more than we really need - then there's the coffee and little Italian pastry to enjoy during the shopping expedition.

Five different pasta we bought - there were more but we didn't want to go overboard.
Arborio rice for Risotto and Fine Italian 00 flour for making pasta.
Pesto, capsicum, artichokes and Italian peeled tomatoes.
I picked the spreads for my morning toast.
Porcini stock cubes - dehydrated porcini that Sue will use to enhance  risotto or pasta meals.
Montipulciano D' Abruzzo takes its name from the grape not the town in Tuscany.
While I write this today, I'm on the Gold Coast with My daughter Carly. We drove approx 2000 kms in 20 hours door to door with stops. Being a southerner, I find the heat up here in Queensland takes a little getting use to so I can't imagine what it might be like as you drive further up into the tropics. Its a big country which I'm yet to discover and may never.
Hopefully I can get some photos and words on the blog while I'm here. There's not a lot of history, well old history about the Gold Coast. Being developed over the last 100 years, I find its more like a mini Miami or Los Angeles. "All Show"

Anyway I'm here to help my daughter to pack boxes to drive back to Melbourne at the end of the week so she can settle back in the town where she was born. While here I'll also spend some time with Jack my father and sister Faye.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

An Aussie Christmas

Christmas day this year was a small affair with six of us at the table. The two boys, Andrew and Mitchell were home and Carly and Sharn were down from the Gold Coast so that made it perfect.

We also have a tradition of an open house in the morning when the other "Rellies" pop around to share the Christmas spirit. These days the (relative) families have grown with grandchildren. We are yet to get to that stage.

Sue organises platters of fresh fruit and as per tradition, makes her own paté that always seems get devoured  early in the morning. Then there's the slices of ham, olives and fresh baguettes all washed down with bubbles and orange juice.

Chrissy brekkie with fresh cherries, rock melon, strawberries and grapes.
Present giving begins once everyone arrives and I'm continually picking up wrapping paper while trying to serve more Champagne with orange juice. This year I gave Sue an updated Kindle and the Rachel Khoo book, "My Little French Kitchen". Sue would get her newsletters via email and thought it might be possible to catch up in Paris but then she became famous with a Tellie thing and now these books.
Sue is not hard to buy for - it just needs to be something she can read or cook. Oh yes! There are diamonds.

Sue presented me with a new bike bag so I can take my bike to Italy and France next year - only nine more months of saving to go.

First course was the traditional prawn cocktail
Sharn, Andrew, Carly, Mitch and Sue - just immediate family.
Main course not far away.
Oops! I was supposed to take a photo but it looked so inviting, I totally forgot.
Roast pork, stuffed turkey breast, honeyed carrots, buttered beans, roasted potatoes, pumpkin and parsnip with gravy.
As usual, we all decided we would take a little rest before our desert which again, I forgot to take a photo which only confirms that we were all enjoying ourselves for the first Christmas as a full family for some time.

Sue snapped this without my permission. Maybe its coz I didn't take photos of her wonderful Christmas lunch.
My apologies to all.
This should keep me in a few meals next year.
To all our good friends in Bloggersphere - Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve in Melbourne by the Bay

Shopping all done
presents under the tree.

Wine for Christmas lunch cooling
Dinner table set for tomorrow,
starting with prawn cocktails.

The sky is blue
and bay is calm.
The weather is perfect
for Christmas day.

Have a safe and happy festive season
to all our friends
both local and overseas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Prahran Market

With Christmas just around the corner, Sue wanted to do some shopping at the Prahran Market. She wanted a turkey breast. A while turkey she thought would be too large for our small immediate family gathering this year which be the six of us.

We posted on the Prahran market previously. It's the one that has Sue's favorite Foodie Shop - Essential Ingredient. She always buys something even if she doesn't need it. We also usually grab a snack and a glass of wine during the shopping spree. On Saturday when we decided it was that time for a glass of wine there was a three piece group, a guitarist, an upright bass and the vocalist and she sang like Doris Day - it was just a perfect interlude in our shopping day.

There's always something that I notice that previously I may not have seen. On this occasion it was a work of art in the form of a wall mosaic.

I'm not sure of the significance of the theme of the mosaic but the colours captured my attention, especially when I looked much more closely to see how these tiny pieces of coloured glass came together to create the above image.
Prahran Market 1864
Just after the fire that ravaged the rear section of the market.
The Prahran market credits itself as the oldest continually running market in Melbourne - there were others but now defunct. Prahran's community started to grow from the early gold rush days of the 1850s and the first Council was elected in 1856.
First opening in 1864, it was later moved from Greville St to its current location in Commercial Rd during 1891. The market has been running for over 150 years. Back then it was known for its market gardens and small farms - today its a hub of shopping, nightclubs and an eclectic population.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Friday of Fridays for 2013

Well, that's the end of the year for me - almost!!!
I still have to finish off Friday at the office with a few appointments on the way in and one at the office in the early arvo. Who knows what else will crop up before I leave the office for the last working Friday for 2013.

Talking 2013 - where did it go?

Sue and I took a few trips this year. We went to Launceston in Tasmania, Warrnambool in the Western District of Victoria and Warrigal to the east in Gippsland. These are areas that we have contemplated making a new life in retirement. Consequently with these thoughts in mind, much sprucing up of our 1929 Californian Bungalow house of 30 years has been achieved in 2013. I'm sure regular readers are very familiar with these exploits of ours.

So! Two weeks of annual leave from Friday onwards - bliss! What will I do?
You know, I have not read a full book in one day, I might try that. Will definitely meet my cycling friends for some long slow rides. There's a few jobs around the house - that's never ending.

More importantly, I will spend some real time with family. We have the two boys and my daughter and her partner with us for Christmas and that's a first for many years now.
We'll be off to the market on Saturday so we can purchase all the produce for Christmas dinner. It's the Prahran Market which is very special for Sue. It also has her very special Foodie Shop - Essential Ingredients.
 I'll tell you all about it after the weekend.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesdays in France - with friends

Our memories of France is as much about people as it is about great scenery, food, wine and experiences but the special moments are with people. We've been so fortunate to have made such rewarding friendships in our travels.

Do you know that I've discussed our travels with friends at home and they actually don't meet people - why is that? Maybe they don't spend enough time in one place. With five trips in France under our belt since 2006, the country has become a spritual home. Maybe we've missed out a little by not exploring more of Europe but we feel richer for it. The Loire is Sue's favorite. She says that each time we've driven into the Loire, who blood pressure lowers. She feels at home (away from home that is).

Mikee training for the Tour d France
Mikee with his good lady Carol live in the Loire.
Gerard who lives no more than a KM down the road from Carol and Mikee we met because I spied his bike leaning against his shed. I said to Mikee, "Can we go back and look at the bike". "Of course but let's pick up the girls and we'll go back for a glass of wine".  Gerard grew up in this same house where he lives with his bubbly wife Annick.
Carol said to Sue, "You must cook in my kitchen and invite Ken and Walt".
So off to the Amboise market".
Walt, Mikee, Annick, Carol, Gerard and Ken - a night of fun and a morning of sore heads.
Have you ever seen such a bunch of smiling faces - a night to remember.

Until we return next year.
Have a happy and safe festive season.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The West Gate Bridge Disaster - a possible close encounter

A Face Book friend of mine put me on to a great site where people post photos of old Melbourne. I spent most of Saturday arvo just going over some of the contributions. There are some really fascinating photos of yesteryear. Being interested in architecture, automobiles and bicycles of the past, you can imagine the time I wasted in place of mowing lawns, and other forms of house duties. These photos brought back some memories - the one below is one of them - only because it shows a Citroen Traction Avant, a car that I've owned several over the years.

Around 1970, Melbourne's western suburbs were divided by the Maribynong river from the Melbourne CBD. To get across you needed to drive further inland to cross the river or take the ferry. During that time the Melbourne Airport was being built and for a few months in 1970 and I worked as a labourer at the Airport. When the contract was over, the company had another contract on the West Gate Bridge project that would unite the city to the western suburbs. Fortunately I gained a position in sales with an electrical manufacturing company.
I say fortunately because one of Victoria's major disasters was the collapse of the bridge during the period of the construction.

The Williamstown Ferry
The West Gate Bridge today looking towards the Melbourne skyline.

Just before lunch on the 15th October 1970, the West Gate Bridge suddenly groaned. An eerie pinging noise filled the air. A storm of rust flakes peeled off weathered steel. The girders started to turn blue. The bridge fell away beneath their feet. Minutes later, 35 workers were dead. Only

The Melbourne Sun's report.

The view to the west from Melbourne.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fishy Friday

I had reason this week to be in the city CBD during the week to have a coffee with a client. As I walked to the meeting I noticed these huge metal sculptures in the laneway between two buildings. After the meeting I decided to to a walk down to the Yarra River, along the promenade and back along the laneway for a better look. I wish I could tell you more regarding their significance.

Melbourne never ceases to surprise me with her hidden treasures - I just wish I had more time to discover more of the nooks and crannies of Melbourne.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wednesday's in France returns

With our impending trip to Italy and France in September next year, I thought it might be time to return to a regular Wednesday's in France. These will be photos from our five adventures in various areas of France.

These few photos are very sad and maybe some readers have been there. There was an element of happiness though as we met a couple of blogging friends that we hope to see again next year. They know who they are but do you know where we were?

Monday, December 09, 2013

Great Graffiti

The weekends pass so quickly when enjoying friendships and family so here it is into Tuesday already. Again as so many times recently I see something on a Monday that takes my interest around Melbourne.
This time is was the St Kilda Primary School. Each year the students add the the colour of the school with murals or maybe we could label it great graffiti.

From the school website;
St Kilda Primary School opened in January 1875. When it first opened it had 604 students with 12 teachers. In 1913, the school (then amalgamated with another primary school nearby), had over 1,269 students. Our current student population is 497 lovely students. Our most distinguished former student was Sidney Nolan (1917-92), one of the most famous Australian artists. Indeed, one of his famous paintings is of the school, with the school’s number (1479).

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Funky Friday

Fridays - I wonder if retired people look upon Fridays as anything special!
I know - yes I do talk of retirement often in this blog but that's because these days I seem to mix many retired people. Having Jack, my father here in Melbourne for the week makes me think that if I have his longevity, I may have a retirement span of 27 years. I've always thought that we've got it wrong!!!!!
Why not be retired when young, have pension payments and then work for a pay when you reach 35 or 40.
Retirement could be so much more fun when fit and healthy - stop dreaming Leon.

Carly, Mitch and yours truly - 3 parts of the family
So! I've taken Jack to two lunches in two days and today (Thursday) we joined his cycling cronies at the Skinny Dog Pub. Now this is a Who's Who of Cycling. Olympic medallists and representatives, classic cycling race winners and just a helluva lot of jolly good blokes. I get to go with Jack because he's a Legend.

It's great for Jack staying with us because as I've mentioned earlier, our oldest son Andrew returns from 2 years studying in the UK. He's doing his doctorate and presenting papers in different parts of the world. All very unfamiliar to me and I don't even pretend that I understand his world but very much proud just the same.

My Daughter Carly from a previous encounter has moved back to Melbourne so its looking like a great opportunity for a BBQ on Sunday with three generations of our family being together.

Happy Champagne Friday to all.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Jacaranda is starting to flower

I'm not quite sure how many times I've posted on our Jacaranda tree blooming, I just know we've been posting on "Melbourne Our Home" since 2009. How time quickly passes. Initially we set up to keep family and friends informed of our travels. The Blog has been very rewarding as our friendship circle has grown with many new friends met while travelling.

In all that time we are progressing towards the 200,000 hits - other than the people that comment on occasion, we have no idea who reads our ramblings and we only have a small but intimate group of followers. I see such things as Facebook and Twitter connections with some Blogs that obviously increase the following, maybe some day I'll look into to those but at the moment we are happy with our band of followers.
BUT, if anyone has some advice, please feel free to offer input.

Back to the Jacaranda - we initially had it planted in the front garden along with another rather sick tree. Both have grown enormously in the back yard. The Jacaranda seems to have bloomed late this year and with some heavy rain and strong winds, the purple has ended up on the grassy back yard.

While sitting here writing this post, Melbourne has just had another downpour and more purple sits on the grass. This week is going to be very exciting for us. Our son Mitch has been home from India and South America for two weeks now - My father Jack with my daughter Carly have just arrived down from Queensland and our son Andrew is home on Saturday after 2 years in the UK and Europe.
One big happy family again.

Billy 78, Jack 92 and Willy 94.
Took my father to lunch today to meet a couple of his cycling friends, Billy and Willy. With Jack that's 264 years of pedalling history. Tomorrow we are off to another bikies luncheon of famous Aussie bike riders, a few with Olympic gold medals amongst them. More to come soon.