Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Steptoe in Mansfield

Last weekend I visited Mansfield in the beautiful High Country for the second time in recent weeks (a dear friend has recently moved there). It's always fun to go exploring and on my first visit we happened upon an extraordinary discovery - Mr Steptoe's relative had moved into Mansfield - in a very big way! It would be described in real estate terms as 'acreage'. As I've mentioned before - someone's trash is always someone's treasure. On the first visit we were looking for window shutters - and after much poking around we found them - $30 a pair! Rather less than my friend had been quoted - for - yes I admit better ones - around $250++ each. So if they fall apart after a few years I'm sure Mr Mansfield Steptoe can accommodate a replacement - or 3 or 4!
A door, a set of windows, a defunct computer screen, an old sink - all neatly in place - NOT!
On that first visit I was ecstatic to find some rusty metal offcuts but didn't have time to really poke around through the piles of junk in order to see them properly - it was either that or miss the back-to-Melbourne-bus! So I was excited to go back for a second visit. I'm looking for a 'feature' for a new backwall at my home. 
The soon-to-be-demolished fence with baby yukkas (you should see them now!)
Unfortunately the 60+ year old wall together with the enormous yukkas (they've grown like triffids) need to be replaced when the horrific development occurs behind me in the not too distant future. Now it may sound strange but we fought the development no only because it is obscene but because of the fence! So although we won the fight sadly the developer won the war as once they start digging the dear old wall will just 'collapse'. So I've been looking for a 'feature' to enhance the replacement wall - rusty metal cutouts - perfect!  So back we went last weekend and oh what fun we had! Here are some of the cutouts that may or may not be attached to my new wall! You'll need to use your imagination!
This could be the start of something good!

How many do you want? I'll take the lot! No - not the tyres!
And I thought you'd enjoy a few of the amazing finds that not only caught my eye - but also my fancy!
A sea of sinks
A field of - loos
FIRE! Oh - and just look at those gorgeous slabs of stone - now what can I do with those?
Mr Squiggle's home? Or perhaps a bike storage!
Can you see Mr Squiggle?
Now there's a nice bedhead in there - somewhere!
And I'll leave you with this gem - somehow it sort of summed up the chaos. This was a system like no other.

A new style of BBQ - fill the birdcage with wood, attach a red (gas?) bottle and pop a frypan on the top - voila!

Monday, 21 April 2014

La Brocante v Garage and Car Boot Sales!

Oo la la! How can one be lured by a car boot sale in a carpark in the city/suburbs/country or the dreadfully named 'garage sale' in the same way as one can be lured to a brocante sale of nickety nackety noos when travelling in France. The French have it down to a fine art. There are the brocante shoppers and the brocante providers. The providers move from town to town (or city to city) usually on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday - but on others as well - depending on the area and the 'demand'. And demand they have. There is nothing more wonderful that coming upon a market that includes brocante. 
A square in Provence just waiting for a brocante to set up - heaven

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is here at My French Country Home (take a look at her house and the one you can rent!). Not only does Sharon go brocante shopping she also takes people shopping near her home in Normandy (she'll take you if you want - she's recently taken some Aussies!). Now I hasten to add that she doesn't keep all of it - it goes into her very successful brocante on-line shop. I love these photos of a few of her hauls  - can you imagine finding this at a car boot sale here downunder. Sadly I don't think so. I do so wish there was one here - should I start one!? It would be a great way to clear some of my 'extras' (of which there are many!)
The dogs were not among the brocante purchases - nor are they for sale!
Yum - what a Normandy collection (Sharon has a bit of a chair fetish!)
I could go on but I think you've got the picture!
And then there is my other favourite blog where Corey from Tongue in Cheek (I've mentioned her before gathering and cooking 'weeds' here.) Just imagine the finds and the perusing that can be done - it would be perusing heaven.  
Part of a baby rattle - just look at the lace it's 'sitting' on
I mean why wouldn't you get the brocante bug with a backdrop like this

One (wo)man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure
Tempting? Dream on!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Hop! Hop!

Well it's Bilby time again - somehow as much as we Aussies should be exchanging Bunnies for Bilbies I just can't get that excited about a Bilby hunt. Perhaps it's my age showing here! After all I've been indoctrinated with the excitement of an Easter bunny hunt and hot cross buns with lashings of butter for longer than I care to mention - let alone count!
What a combination - buns and bunnies - now I know why you can buy chocolate hot cross buns!
I did one of my favourite things and Googled the history of Easter, hot cross buns and bunnies. Easter treats were originally hot cross buns made by monks and were given to the poor during Lent. 

Now with regard to the bunny - he/she dates back to 13th Century Germany where the people prayed to the Teutonic deity Eostra, the goddess of fertility and spring (we downunder need to convert to autumn - not quite the same meaning!). Fertility was symbolized by the rabbit - due to its high reproduction rate! However the first mention of an actual Easter bunny wasn't until the 1500's and it was in 1682 that the story of the German tradition of an Easter hare bringing Easter eggs for the children was published. As for bunnies laying eggs and hiding them in the garden (or popping them in nests or baskets) - well.....  
A tisket a tasket - Easter eggs in a basket   
Like so many traditions there is often a 'sensible story' behind the tradition. During the Middle Ages the Church forbade the consumption of eggs during Lent, so the large supply of eggs were preserved and then eaten at Easter. 

For all chocolate lovers it is to the Germans that you should give thanks as they first made chocolate eggs for Easter in the 19th century. 

The ancient custom of decorating eggs is unknown but it is thought to celebrate both fertility and the blooming of spring (autumn!) and bringing spring (autumn!) into the home. The Eastern Orthodox Church typically dye their eggs red - in recognition of the sacrifice of Christ and the renewal of life - and spring (autumn!)

Although the Easter egg is symbolic of rebirth, the symbol of the egg also being used for celebration dates back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and the Zoroastrians in Persia who dyed eggs to celebrate the start of spring (autumn!). Interestingly the Chinese also dye eggs to celebrate a newborn child. 
Green bunnies (don't ask me why on earth I bought green and not brown ones?!?)
So as you spring (autumn!) off to go (chocolate) hot cross bun and Easter egg shopping, hunting and stuffing (never!) just think of the tradition that you are carrying on. What justification!


Monday, 7 April 2014

Oranges (and Lemons)

There's been a lot said recently about farmers pulling out their orchards and the unprofitability of our fruit canning industry. And the lack of support for our growers. We hear about orange growers struggling to compete with cheaper oranges being 'dumped' here from other countries. Now this is not a political post but it did make me reflect on the wonder of how we could market our oranges to allcomers. 

A few years ago when visiting Seville, Cordoba and Granada it seemed to me that the Spanish certainly knew about marketing and 'branding'. Their streets and squares are lined with orange trees - and the citizens are free to pick them as they pass. The trees are well cared for (would they be trashed in this country....). The smell of orange blossom is divine in the spring, the smell of ripe oranges is wonderful and the green leaves not only shade the streets but they stay green all year. I was entranced. So here are some photos that might encourage you to 'lobby' your local Council. They would be so much nicer than the ratty trees which seem to be favoured in this country.
Lining the main square of Seville
Oranges aplenty in the gardens of Seville
Lush, green healthy trees
A square in Cordoba - don't you love the idea
Outside the walls in Cordoba
A Cordoban orangerie
At the Alhambra in Granada - just a touch of orange peeking out on the right
Another 'orange' view at the Alhambra
I follow a blog http://www.anaffairwithitaly.com and was interested to read about Parco Savello, also known as the Garden of Orange Trees. It is considered one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Rome. You can read the story here

The garden of orange trees in Rome
What a wonderful way to enjoy a wander amongst fresh fruit from the trees - they are lush and green all year - give me a fruiting tree over a deciduous anytime!

What a pity that we don't promote our own struggling industries/growers in the same way. Do you agree?
Whiling away the time, watching the world go by under the trees in Cordoba