Sunshine’s Macro Monday #11

I’m now taking close-ups at home using my mini iPad. These were captured while enjoying La Dolce Vita in nearby Alassio to celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary!

I’ve had lots of helpful advice from the blogosphere, for which I’m most grateful, though I still find it easier to photograph things which don’t move! Fortunately the pigeons below were happy to pose.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday is a challenge hosted by Irene encouraging us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It’s a one day challenge without prompts.  Irene posts a Sunshine’s Macro Monday post each Monday, just after midnight Central Time (US) so don’t forget to use the tag SMM and mention Sunshine’s Macro Monday somewhere on your post, create a pingback or add a link in the comment’s section of her post.






Blogger Recognition Award III

Not long after I departed for my #adventuredownunder, Steve and Muffin from Steve’s Country most kindly nominated me for this award given in recognition of all the hard work that goes into creating a blog. It is a way for bloggers to support, motivate and promote other bloggers who have clearly put in huge amounts of time and effort, and produced valuable content.

Steve lives somewhere the sun doesn’t shine as much as he’d like but he’s befriended much of the local wildlife which feature prominently, along with the area’s flora, in photos on his blog. If you don’t already follow Steve and his feline companion Muffin, check out their blog and give them a follow.

Steve and Muffin epitomise this award as they encourage, motivate, interact and engage with the blogging community, daily delivering engaging content to their audience.

How did my blog start?

I started the blog to keep my sponsors for a cycling event informed about my progress. Initially, I just saw it as something short-term to meet a specific need. However, family and friends persuaded me to keep it going as they saw it as a way of keeping track of what we were doing. Over the years it has morphed into more of a lifestyle and less of a cycling blog, particularly as I blog about cycling over at VeloVoices.

Two pieces of advice for new bloggers

1. Write from the heart about something you know and love. If possible, illustrate your blog with your photos or drawings.

2.  Let the real you shine through and take the time to engage and interact with other bloggers.


I follow so many wonderful blogs, a number of which are deliberately “Award Free.” If you’ve been kind enough to read this then please feel to join in, either in the comments section below or over on your own blog.

Spread the recognition around our wonderful community and have a great week-end



Let’s not get carried away and forget the award rules:-

Award rules

• Write a post displaying your award.

• Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.

• Tell the story of how your blog started.

• Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.

• Nominate other bloggers for the award.

• Let the nominees know that you have nominated them.

September’s afternoon tea party with The Little Mermaid

Who doesn’t love afternoon tea? Exactly! Sadly I have to be rather more careful since most afternoon teas are chock full of dairy which is now strictly verboten. However, I have found that many hotels (pictured above) can pull off a vegan afternoon tea with a bit of notice. Alternatively, I can DIY (do it myself – pictured below).

When I first moved into my current apartment, I used to hold physical tea parties for some of the very elderly residents who’d befriended me. They used to love coming round but it wasn’t for the food, it was for the company and a chance to have a chat. I much enjoyed these as the ladies  – sadly none of whom are still with us – had all lived such interesting lives.

Consequently, I’m re-joining The Little Mermaid’s monthly tea party. This one unfortunately doesn’t include scones with strawberry jam and cream unless, of course, you provide your own. No, the whole point is to encourage an affable exchange of dialogue among the invitees because blogging is more enjoyable when done interactively.

The Little Mermaid’s tea party is the ideal occasion for socialising and making, as well as maintaining the acquaintance of those in the blogosphere. It’s a chance to truly relax and to take some time to recharge one’s batteries by engaging in light-hearted conversation, to be with friends and simply delight in one another’s company.

While her first tea party was open-ended, subsequent ones have been topical and this month’s theme is SPORTS – hurrah! What could be better for a dedicated sports’ fan like moi?

Here’s The Little Mermaid’s Questions and my Responses

1. Do you play any sports?

Is the Pope a Catholic? In truth, I don’t play as much sport as I used to but I still ride, jog, work out and do some yoga on a regular basis. I no longer play any team sports, these are all largely solitary activities. 

2. Do you like to watch sports on TV?

Sure, though I prefer to watch sport live. I watch MotoGP, cricket, football, tennis, cycling, athletics, ice skating and swimming on the television.

3. What is your favorite sports team and why?

My late father (far left) holding 1957 FA Cup won by AVFC

My first love was football. As a youngster, my father moved to the Midlands to play for Aston Villa’s Youth Squad. AVFC is my football team but, since moving to Nice, I have embraced our local team OGC Nice.

4. What does it take to be a great athlete?

Talent, attitude, focus, ability to withstand lots of pain, fear of losing and, of course, lots of training.

5. Who IMHO is the greatest athlete of all time?

This is tricky as there are so many sports. Greatest lists tend to be dominated by US athletes but here goes for my four favourite sports:-

Hayden and the Doctor (Rossi, no 46)

MotoGP – Valentino Rossi

Tennis – Rafa Nadal

Cycling – Eddie Merkx

Football – Lionel Messi


The September 2019 tea party runs until the end of the month, so why don’t you join in? If you’re quick  you can beat the deadline.

But before you do, don’t forget to check out The Little Mermaid’s tea party etiquette:

-Etiquette Number 1- Introduce yourself.

Introduce yourself, your blog or even your latest post to the community in such a way that it encourages others to converse with you. Avoid posting just a link as a comment which looks rude and spammy. Be polite.

-Etiquette Number 2- Mix and mingle.

Tea is a communal experience and there it requires that you meet and greet at least some of the other wonderful people in attendance. Participate by actively reading others’ comments and visiting their links/sites.

-Etiquette Number 3- Share & reblog the most recent tea party.

The purpose of the event is to create a platform where everyone benefits from real diversity of thought; and for that we need to find people who genuinely hold different views and invite them into the conversation. So, please spread the word in the blogosphere through reblogs.

That’s not too difficult is it?

So, drag up a chair, pour yourself a cuppa, help yourself to some cake and introduce yourself. There, what could be nicer?

Friday photos #10

Here’s a random selection of photos from our #adventuredownunder that tickled my fancy! Next week I’ll be reverting to one of the Friday Photo Challenges.

Australia has lots of big structures, one of the most colourful is The Big Mango (header above). You may recall I’ve also seen the Big Sheep, Big Lobster, Big Crab, Big Banana, Big Pineapple and Big Cow! This giant fruit only sprouted up in 2002. next to Bowen’s tourist information centre and pays tribute to the prosperous mango orchards in the area. Made of fiberglass, it cost A$90,000 when it was originally built, joining the ranks of Australia’s giant roadside attraction collection. Weighing around seven tons it may even be the largest mango in the world and is a proud reminder that in Australia, there is nothing that can’t be turned into huge a fibreglass statue.

This I am reliably informed is a humpback whale which I was happy to view from way above as opposed to beside! Adult whales range in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weigh around 25–30 metric tons (28–33 tons). They feed in polar waters but migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth. We had a number of such sightings while flying over the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, this grasshopper about 10 cm (4 inches) in length was gracing the wall of our unit in Airlie Beach.

Just what every bike rider needs, a bike station with a pump and every possible tool for changing punctured tyres to fixing deraileurs! Every country should have these dotted about the place along with plenty of public toilets and water points.

Australians love their pies! According to Mr Google, they each eat an average of 12 meat pies a year, that’s 270 million pies! I thought that this pie was wrong on so many levels but my two sisters (pictured below), who admit their favourite dish is spag bol, said they’d love to try one. Be my guest girls!

Thursday doors #37

Here’s Part II of a large selection of doors and doorways from my July trip to Brussels.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).


Moochin’ around Mooloolaba

After spending two weeks in Brisbane we finally headed up the coast towards Port Douglas but first, on the recommendation of friends, we spent a couple of nights on the Sunshine coast in the wonderfull named Mooloolaba, a mere 97 kilometres (60 miles) north of the state capital.

Mooloolaba derives from the Aboriginal word mulu, meaning snapper fish or mulla meaning red-bellied black snake – I hoped it’s the former as I certainly didn’t want to meet any of the latter. The land was originally owned by the Gubbi Gubbi nation of indigenous people but the area’s  timber resources attracted attention and by 1864, the first land was purchased at the mouth of the Mooloolah River by William Pettigrew who dominated the timber trade here for the next thirty years until he transferred his activities to Maroochydore, which offered better transport facilities, meaning less development of the coastal areas.

Originally the name ‘Mooloolah Heads’ was given to the area from the mouth of the Mooloolah River to the site of the present Charles Clarke Park on River Esplanade but its importance declined when Pettigrew transferred his activities to Maroochydore, establishing a sawmill there in 1891. Throughout 1898-1908 there was little development in the coastal areas. By 1919, Mooloolah Heads was more of a fruit growing and fishing area than a seaside resort.

In 1921 the first allotments of Pettigrew’s land which extended along the river frontage from the surf beach to Tuckers Creek were held. At the same time the name ‘Mooloolaba’ was adopted to differentiate between this developing area and the Mooloolah township on the North Coast Railway.

Always a popular destination for nearby Buderim settlers, holiday cottages and houses were built along the river and the narrow spit. These, and boarding houses, catered to growing number of visitors. Boat hire and fishing were also very popular. As public amenities and trafficable roads improved, Mooloolaba continued to develop as both a premier residential and holiday location.

Our friends are keen surfers. Looking at these pictures you can appreciate the allure of this resort. Just look at the cleanliness of its water. The photos below show that much of the accommodation along the promenade is relatively new.

The eagle eyed among you will have spotted a sculpture on the grass in the first picture. It commemorates Steve Irwin, “The Crocodile Hunter”. Irwin achieved worldwide fame from the television series of the same name. Sadly, the native Queenslander Irwin died in 2006 after being fatally stung by a stingray barb while filming on The Great Barrier Reef. And you wonder why I don’t go swimming!

We spent the afternoon wandering along the promenade and beach, quickly exhausting Mooloolaba’s charms. Consequently, we decided to spend the following day further up the coast in Noosa which turned out to be more to our liking.

Postcard from Brisbane V

Much as I love my better half, it’s sometimes nice to have time on my own. Friday morning I decided that my poor benighted feet deserved some pampering and booked a luxury pedicure and foot massage. It was sheer bliss – money well spent!

Afterwards I pottered around the CBD doing a spot of window shopping, door and building spotting before enjoying lunch at a restaurant in Queen’s Plaza, an upmarket shopping mall in the CBD. I strolled back up the hill to our hotel, admiring the historic properties littering Spring Hill.

It’s one of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in Brisbane, with many houses dating from 19th century, including quaint workers cottages and terrace houses, along with beautifully restored heritage-listed buildings. The Windmill in Wickham Park was built by convicts in 1827 and was one of Queensland’s first stone buildings. Of equal historical significance are the Spring Hill Baths, built in 1886, much updated and still in operation today.

While I enjoyed a quiet night in, my beloved went to a Gala Dinner over near the river in some renovated and repurposed buildings in Howard Smith Wharves, by Story Bridge. He managed to miss the speeches, though not the dinner, by inadvertantly gatecrashing a lawyers’ champagne reception in another part of the building!

Saturday was a day of total relaxation spent sunning myself around the pool in the hotel until my beloved returned, worn out from a hectic but successful exhibition – early night!

Sunday we enjoyed brunch at a restaurant over in Paddington, before heading out to view Mt Tamborine in what’s known as The Scenic Rim. Tamborine comes from the local Yugambeh language and may refer to the native fruit, finger lime. It’s a volcanic plateau about 550 metres (344 feet) above sea level and you can see for miles, even as far as the Gold Coast!

Narrow, verdant country roads meander around the mountains which are home to some lovely property porn and quaint villages with boutique wineries and an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. We drove around the area but could equally have visited the Tamborine National Park with its spectacular Falls probably best viewed from the elevated Tambourine Rainforest Skywalk – not for those of us who dislike heights – and the Botanical Gardens.

On Monday we enjoyed an early breakfast in the same restaurant I’d eaten lunch in on Friday before ambling along the Broadwalk which runs on the city side of the Brisbane River, walking all the way to New Farm, Newstead and Teneriffe: three adjacent areas fronting the Brisbane River, northeast of the CBD, that have been subject to significant, successful urban renewal.

These areas formerly played significant roles in the industrial life of Brisbane from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, with much of the activity clustered around the river which was an important transport corridor. Brisbane Gas Company’s gasworks opened in 1887 with the Colonial Sugar Refinery constructed in 1893. These were followed by timber yards, coal yards and wool stores which were disused and neglected 100 years’ later.

Many of these industrial buildings are now listed and have been beautifully renovated to “create sustainable livework communities in the inner city, revive local economies, deliver affordable housing and reverse the exodus of residents and businesses.”

Tuesday lunchtime I had arranged to meet with fellow blogger Lyn Douglas not far from where she works as a volunteer, over in New Farm. Lyn had just returned from what sounded like a really fabulous trip to North America, don’t forget to check out her blog for details. It was so lovely to meet with her and thank her for all the useful tips she’d provided me with while planning our stay in Brisbane.

Meeting Lyn in New Farm gave me an opportunity to further explore Fortitude Valley, particularly the shops over in James St, a tree covered promenade studded with jewel-like, largely upscale boutiques.

It’s just a two minute stroll from the heart of Fortitude Valley where we spent Wednesday morning and is without a doubt the place to be seen at one of the chic bars and cafes that line the street. In addition, the James Street Market has a fabulous selection of edible goodies.

James St is also home to an array of fashion and homeware retailers that has earned it a reputation as one of Brisbane’s most stylish strips. I was so taken with the area that I dragged my beloved back there that evening for dinner in a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant.

Wednesday and what do you know it’s time to move on to Mooloolaba. But before we said good bye to Brisbane we ate a leisurely lunch in nearby Paddington again. We’d had a wondeful time in Brisbane and if you want to know more about this city don’t forget to check out Brisbane resident Lyn’s blog (link above) and that of Sam, who spent time working in Brisbane. It’s a fabulous place and well worth an extended stay.


Sunshine’s Macro Monday #10

I’m now taking close-ups at home using my mini iPad. These were captured during a Sunday stroll along the Croisette in Cannes.

I’ve had lots of helpful advice from the blogosphere, for which I’m most grateful, though I still find it easier to photograph stationery objects!

Sunshine’s Macro Monday is a challenge hosted by Irene encouraging us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It’s a one day challenge without prompts.  Irene posts a Sunshine’s Macro Monday post each Monday, just after midnight Central Time (US) so don’t forget to use the tag SMM and mention Sunshine’s Macro Monday somewhere on your post, creat a pingback or add a link in the comment’s section of her post.






The Real Neat Blog Award II

Awards are like buses. You don’t get any for a while and then, all of a sudden, it’s raining awards. So I’ve decided to pace myself and ration them out a bit.

Back in July, Thinking Moon most kindly bestowed on me the Real Neat Blog Award. Firstly, many thanks to Thinking Moon  for nominating me for this prestigious award and don’t forget to check out her blog. It’s full of all sorts of interesting things which is what you’d expect from someone who claims she has loved the stars too fondly, to be fearful of the night. Plus, she has more lipsticks than I’ve had hot dinners!

About The Real Neat Blog Award:

Okay so what does this award mean? Well, I looked up “neat” in the dictionary and:-

1. a. Orderly and clean; tidy: a neat office; a neat desk.

1. b. habitually tidy or well-organized: was lucky to have a neat roommate.

2. Marked by ingenuity and skill; adroit: a neat turn of phrase.

3. Not diluted or mixed with other substances: neat whiskey.

4. Left after all deductions; net: neat profit.

5. Slang Wonderful; terrific: That was a neat party.

Okay, I’m going with number 5!

The rules:

  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the questions posed by the person who nominated you.
  • Thank whoever nominated you, linking to their blog.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like.
  • Let them know you nominated them.
  • Ask some questions of your nominees.

My Nominees:

Rather than list 10-15 of the amazing (aka real neat) blogs that I follow and regularly read, I’m throwing this open to all the blogs I follow (and who follow me) to accept this award and join in.

My responses to Thinking Moon’s questions:

1. If you won a Grammy for any genre of music, what would it be?

Well, I’d naturally win all four in the “general” field. In fact following in Adele’s footsteps, Sheree would win Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and, of course, Best New Artist!

2. Who is your favourite villain(s) from any universe?

I’m not sure I have a favourite villain. However, since I was born in the Midlands I’ll choose Tommy Selby from Peaky Blinders, a British television series primarily set in Birmingham in the aftermath of WWI.

3. What was your all-time favourite Halloween costume or cosplay you’ve done? Pictures, please!

It’s been awhile since I dressed up, and never for Halloween. Luckily there is no photographic evidence of when aged ten my mother made me a costume out of crepe paper, I was a playing card

4. What’s the weirdest trend you’ve ever actually partaken in?

My dear, I set trends. I do not and never have partaken in trends! That sounds like something Dorothy Parker might have said, doesn’t it?

5. What Movie / Play / Game soundtrack is your favourite?

I’m a bit of a fan of Hugh Jackman (British understatement), and have had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to him in a gym in London. So I’ll pick the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman which I saw last year with my beloved.

6. What was the best thing, before sliced bread?!

How old do you think I am? You do know the first automatically sliced commercial loaves were produced on 6th July, 1928, in Chillicothe, Missouri, using a machine invented by Otto Rohwedder, an Iowa-born, Missouri-based jeweller. Lots of good things were invented before 1928 but I’m picking the bicycle, my weapon of choice.

7. What is your favourite inspirational quote?

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ~ Maya Angelou

Here’s a great yardstick for life, not the number of years that we rack up but the number of times we have those moments of awe that make life worth living. I’m always looking for moments that take my breath away, because that’s what I’m here for, to experience joy and awe and all of the good things that life has to offer.

My questions to those who accept the challenge:

  1. What one change will you make to your life in 2020 and why?
  2. Which charities (if any) do you support?
  3. What keeps you awake at night?
  4. What did you do this summer?
  5. Any good books you’d recommend I read?

Alternatively, please feel free to join in and answer the questions in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading this and have a great day



The Musette: sticky, spicy beef ribs

When my friend’s sons come to stay with me I do literally kill the fatted calf and ply them with their favourite foods but then the way to most men’s hearts, whatever their ages, is via their stomachs. Of course, the boys have high expectations because their mother is an excellent cook.

They both love beef so home-made hamburgers, côte du boeuf (roast ribs of beef), tafelspitz (Austrian boiled sirloin of beef) and lasagne Bolognese are all popular but their favourite is my sticky, spicy beef ribs adapted from a recipe for BBQ beef ribs by Michelin two-starred chef Tom Kerridge.

I live in an apartment where BBQs are forbidden, largely because of the fire risk but, while I accept that the deep smokey flavour in the original recipe is missing from these ribs, they are still finger-lickin’ delicious. The dish takes three days to prepare but each stage involves very little actual work on the part of the cook.

Ingredients (serves two teenage boys with hollow legs)

Spice rub:

  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp  ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dried origano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 x 500g (2lb total) short ribs of beef on the bone


  • 60g/7oz pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 85g/9oz jar onion relish
  • 150ml (⅔ cup) Guinness beer or similar
  • 1 tbsp hot English mustard powder
  • 2 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 100ml (½ cup) cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar


1. Stir together all of the dry spices and herbs and rub them all over the ribs of beef. Place the beef into a large plastic bag and cover with any remaining mix. Store in the fridge overnight.

2. To make the glaze, place the chopped dates and onion relish into a bowl. Bring the beer up to the boil in a saucepan and pour it onto the dates and onions. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to cool to room temperature.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the remaining glaze ingredients.

4. When the date and onion mixture has cooled, blend the mixture until smooth and pour it into the rest of the glaze.

5. Take the ribs out of the fridge, wash off the spice rub and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place them into a large casserole dish (Dutch oven), pour over the glaze, cover with a scrunched up damp piece of greaseproof paper (cartouche) and cover with a lid or aluminium foil.

6. Put the casserole into a preheated oven at 150°C /130°C fan/gas mark 2 (300°F/275°F fan) and cook very slowly for four to five hours, or until the beef is very tender and has almost fallen off the bones. The house will smell wonderful!

7. When the beef is cooked, remove the casserole from the oven and leave to cool at room temperature. When cool, place in the fridge to chill overnight. When it’s cold the fat will have set on the top and can easily be removed. It can sit happily in the fridge for several days until you’re ready to finish the dish.

8. When you’re ready to reheat, place the lidded casserole dish back into a pre-heated oven at 120°C/100°C fan/gas mark 1 (300°F/275°F fan) and allow the ribs to warm through for two to three hours, preferably while you’re out riding.

9. Remove from the oven, if necessary, place over a low heat on the hob and slowly reduce the glaze with the beef still in the pan, basting the ribs every 10 minutes. When the glaze is reduced and coats the beef, remove them from the pan and serve with oven-baked potatoes and home-made coleslaw or whatever else takes your fancy!

Sheree’s handy hints

1. My version of this recipe differs from the original because when I first made it I didn’t have all the specified ingredients. I generally don’t tamper – well not much anyway – with recipes from Michelin-starred chefs. However the end result was truly scrummy and so I’ve continued to make them this way by popular demand of the men in my life.

2. However, I would urge you to experiment and find the combination of ingredients which best suits your tastes.

3. If you can use a BBQ, then steps eight and nine should be done on it, rather than in the oven and on the hob.