Friday, October 13, 2006
The fish was good but small, the chips minimal, cold and greasy, the company great. We walked around, watched the Spirit of Tasmania being loaded and home in time to watch Andy Mooeyhead in The Collectors talking about train timetables. Impromptu can be very good.
Back to work Sunday, so this will be the last 'tourist in your own town' post for a while.
I needed to go into town for a couple of things, so instead of tram, bus or feet, I walked to the Shrine and caught the Melbourne Tourist Shuttle to the corner of Little Bourke Street and Exhibiton, walked to QV and did what I had to and caught the shuttle again around through Carlton and Parkville, back through the city and got off at Casino to see the flower display. From there I caught a normal bus home.
The tourist shuttle seems to run to time, not that I knew the times of arrival, but I noted four times that the spacing was pretty close to the fifteen minutes. The first bus was probably close to peak time for tourists, 10.55 and it had a reasonable load. The next one was even busier with two lots of people using it as public transport, a woman and a large pusher and her brats and another woman with two brats, a shopping jeep and a cake in a box and almost incapacitated by her mobile phone conversation. The bus that followed that I saw from the Casino later was much less busy.
Total circuit time, 45 mins, service interval 15 mins equals three buses required to run the service. Except, when do the driver's go to lav? When do they eat? Assuming one driver drives the same bus continually and the service orperates from 10 till 4, that is 8 hours plus time needed to get to and from the depot. At any point, the bus can have passengers on it. How can this work? Normally tram drivers get on and off trams near a depot or for buses, sometimes they have a lunch break at a convenient place along the road when no passengers are on the bus.
I did have a bit of a chuckle at the tourist family probably from Asia, but could have been from Australia. The running commentary, perhaps a little loud and the accent a little broad for clear understanding by those who English is not their first language, mentioned the elm trees in Royal Parade. The older male of the group jumped up to look out the window, right next to me. "I am looking at the elm trees," he exclaimed to the group. "I can see that they are some type of eucalypt, but have smaller less pointy leaves".
For you Australians who don't get it, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. For overseas types, an evergreen eucalypt, aka Aussie gum tree, is Australian and an elm is a deciduous European tree. The are alike as chalk is to cheese.
I don't what this service costs, I guess approaching one million a year and it is perhaps worth the cost. I know Sydney has a circular tourist bus that travels a longer loop I think, and the price is quite high. As a freebie for tourists, the shuttle is ok, but it travels through parkland (looking a bit dry), beautiful, but could be anywhere, sports arenas, there was a distinct lack of interest, city and Chinatown, a useful stop, but not very interesting apart from the theatres, Carlton, looks good to eat at and some ok housing along the way, Royal Parade, a street with nice
When you are paying for free, the City Cirle Tram is probably more fun and more useful. It just travels in a rectangle, left, left, left and left again or vice versa and you know pretty well where you are, and what it travels past is more interesting.
The shuttle commentary did make a couple of mentions of the City Circle tram and it is also mentioned in the brochure.
Almost unrelated, a neighbour volunteers at the tourist information booths, Fed Square, Bourke Street Mall and unbeknowst to me, there is also a booth at Station Pier where the Tasmanian ferry and the cruise liners dock. She is very disappointed to see one day only visitors from cruise ships whisked off to the Dandenongs or Great Ocean Road and never actually see inner Melbourne and the city. She is very pleased when they come up and ask how to get to town and she gets some feedback, invariable complimentary. It is lovely, we will come back for a longer visit.
Pics are of a couple of the Casino flower arrangements and a nice place for a homeless person to have a good night's sleep, so long as they don't mind curling up a bit, wading shin deep and are alert for flash flooding.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I had already called to ascertain that school groups have left by about 2, so I need to visit after 2.
It started badly. After letting a non air-con tram go past, the air-con model behind was very crowded and had stupid little seats so that really only one person can fit onto a double seat. I sat side saddle. I was was pretty well straight onto the train to Spotswood. The Siemens train was blissfully cool. How come these manufacturers can get it so right with train air-con and so wrong with tram air-con? Were trains expensive and the trams cheap? Notice that city train loop underground in that direction nearly reaches North Melbourne.
I alighted at Newport, yes Newport. I had blanked out and for some reason thought I needed to alight at Newport. I walked in the direction of the beach with a growing sense of unease. While there were some nice houses, I don't think Newport or Spotswood are going to be the new Yarraville.
When I got to Douglas Parade, I knew I had gone wrong and should have alighted at Spotswood. I knew I now had to go north. I started to cut across a park, but buildings, a sports centre prevented me and I had to return to the road. I was walking into a blustery north wind, blowing grit over me and the sun was beating down on my unprotected head. Did I have water with me? No, and I normally don't leave home without it. Only when it is 37 degrees in the shade do I leave home without water.
I walked along the beach track. There was little shade. Had a taxi come along, I would have jumped in and said take me back to trees on the south of the city. But there wasn't a taxi, there wasn't even a road.
Trudged is a good word. I continued to trudge. Eventually I caught a glimpse of the building. Not too far. No, here is a sign, 1 km plus yet. It was eerily quiet too. Not a soul about. No other mad person about.
Am I old enough to have a heart attack? This is reassuring, as sign that says 'Emergency, call 000 and quote PMC 05'. Apart from me, what emergency could there be? Ah, is this where someone was stabbed a year or two ago. I think it was.
A Caltex sign. Service station? No, bloody oil refinery or something. Still nothing to drink. A BP, ditto.
Made it. Immediately asked the desk person where I could get a drink. I didn't say a G&T, but gosh that would have been nice......a large one, full of ice. In spite of my somewhat spent state, I must have been charming enough for the desk bloke to be friendly, musta have been a gay, and he direct me out an exit door as a short cut to the cafe.
Now if you are not from this part of the world, we can sometimes have humid heat, but today's was not. It was dry heat and you don't seem to perspire. That is until you sit in air condioning drinking expensive but barely cool water after walking a few kilometres. Then the sweat pours off you. I was dripping everywhere.
Priority, the pump house. I like mechanical things. It was an old sewerage pumping station. Idiot again, went in the wrong entrance and instead of a quick walk down some stairs, I went down ramps that went on forever. The pumping station was interesting. A chappie appeared and asked if I wanted to see it operating. Of course I would. He squirted some oil in a couple of places and away it went. It was a beautiful piece of machinery, almost silent with just a hiss of air. Although some of the machines used to run on steam and later electric motors, it is now driven by compressed air. I was feeling my suffering was worth it. I chatted to him about facts etc. All very fascinating.
I went into the main part of the building, which is really for kids, but it is also interesting for adults. It is very interactive and I think I pretty well pushed every button I could and tried out all the sports/fitness tests. Pulse rate 115, should be under 100. No surprise there. Lucky there wasn't a blood pressure machine.
The most interesting thing I saw first, an electrical game of noughts and crosses. It was a big machine from the early sixties. You play against the machine. It whirred and clanked and took about 20 seconds to decide it's move. I lost both games because I made silly mistakes. Evidently, it is not hard to beat the machine.
Shut up time of 4.30 arrived and I think I saw everything that was included in the normal admission of $6.
Back to heat. As I stepped out, a train in the distance went past. Good, twenty minutes before the next one. I did not know there were non stopping trains going past. I arrived at Spotswood Station and as I was about to walk under the underpass, I half heard an announcement. I am not taking a chance of missing of a train, I ran under the subway. Nah, not my train. I studied the timetable, next train 4.54. But what was that I saw go past earlier? Did it really take me less than ten minutes to walk from the museum. I was very confused and still haven't worked it out, coz it is not that important to bother about.
The family who haunted me in the museum arrived at the station and squashed up my bench. If there was a better place to sit, I would have moved, but there wasn't. Noticed that I had not seen a train in the other direction during my wait. Father of family announced the train was coming. I stood up. Walked toward the front of the platform. The train did not stop. Hey!!!!!! Only trams do that.
Check timetable properly this time and gained a little understanding of this train line. The 4.54 arrived on time. I got into the front carriage, a Comeng train, again blissfully cool.
Arrive at Footscray Station and I noticed a train sitting at the opposite platform showing an Out of Service destination. There were many people on the platform. I bet the air-con has broken down.
Further down the track, a suburban train being held at signals. A total of five trains spaced out and being held a signals. Something really wrong there.
Arrived at North Melbourne Station? and see a Broadmeadows train absolutely packed to the rafters. A fellow passenger engaged me in conversation about the delay in the opposite direction and I mentioned about the packed Broady train and he said it was normal. Eek. Then he overheard an announcement, something about an accident at Footscray. Nothing on the news tonight. Not sure what it was about. Only the western suburbs, not so important.
I am not normally at train stations at peak time. Southern Cross, packed, Flinders Street packed.
A marvellous articulated and cool B class tram home. Home was lovely and cool. I shoulda just stayed there. But then you would have had to read about me making christmas cakes.
Later note. Notice in brochure that the pumps at the pumping station operate at 3.15pm, the exact time I was there. Seems I did not get any favour there.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
He cut it out there and then and sent me home on my own. In review, I now know that I was in shock and I should have had someone with me. I did not know he would cut me on the day. I thought it was just a consultation.
I denied that it was a problem back then, hoping that it would one day heal.
It re-occured three months ago and again I denied it. But today I felt the need to do something about it.
So in a couple of weeks, after umpteen phone calls today, I will be back at the surgeon's office and I am guessing he will cut me again. At least this time I am prepared.
He told me that it was an unusual place to get a skin cancer. The cogs in my mind worked quickly. Nose protects what is below my shading it from the sun, but when lying horizontal in a solarium bed with the rays coming straight down on you square to the face, it was a very vunerable area.
I passed my electric beach credits on to R. He is a gorgeous brown and I am horribly white.
I overheard the sales assistant telling a customer, that the chemist was travelling. I then further heard, 'she always decides last minute where to go. She has travelled all over the world. She got caught up in trouble in Vietnam once'.
I missed some of what she then said but caught, 'as soon as she arrived, she hired a bodyguard'.
God knows where chemist is. Will she come back alive and in one piece?
For a gay boy in the country I knew mecca was South Yarra and the mention of exotic places like Balwyn, Carlton and the South Yarra Arms excited me muchly. So that is the album I voted for. Oh, I haven't said what it is. You can guess.
Vote here for the survey. One week to go.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I like a good whinge about Melbourne. I don't like hearing people who don't live here complain about it though. Compared to twenty five years ago, it is almost a totally different city. It now has such a vibrancy. It is alive with people.We have urban consolidation, that is more people living in inner areas. I do have issues about VCAT and what they are doing to outer inner and middle suburbs by over ruling council decisions, along with overcrowding certain areas. But essentially, more people in areas where the infrastructure can cope, must be a good thing.
I like a good whinge about Melbourne's trams too, but really they work pretty well, most of the time. So it is nice to hear some praise (if we are Mexicans, are they Canadians, or just Alaskans?), Queenslanders.
So here is today's good news story, courtesy of today's The Age. Perhaps they want to bolt to Melbourne from their very water short city. They should have said yes to drinking waste water. Softening us up so they can get a visa to come here.
Melbourne, the friendly city
MY FAMILY and I have just returned to Queensland after a week's holiday in your fabulous city.
Having been born and bred inSydney and lived in Brisbane for several years we can say, unreservedly, that Melbourne takes the prize for restaurants and cafes, shopping and transport (the trams in particular were wonderful). The layout of the city and the fact that there seemed to be an endless stream of trams running on time were an absolute revelation. Other cities, particularly Sydney, could learn a thing or two here.
The thing though that struck us the most about Melbourne was the overwhelming friendliness and willingness of total strangers to help and assist in all manner of things. People everywhere were only too happy to chat and offer advice on the best things to see and do.We were so impressed with all that Melbourne has to offer that we are already planning our next holiday there.
Thank you, Melbourne, we can't wait to see you again!
Steve and Gail Cassidy, Toowoomba, Qld.
Monday, October 09, 2006
One reason for my errors is poor education and that is not going to get any better at my age.
Another is that I may have had a couple of drinks, but I did learn back in the mid nineties that alcohol and internet do not mix well.
The main reason is, I can't see very well is I can't be bothered putting on the reading specs.
It is interesting to observe the ageing process in yourself. Not that interesting that you enjoy it happening, but interesting from an observational aspect.
Your eyes fail for reading and you start to depend a bit on shapes of words, rather than the literal. Sometimes it is easier to walk to a window for bright light than put your specs on. The eyes started to go quite suddenly, at around forty. At my present age, I don't buy a new shirt that doesn't have a pocket to slip the specs into.
I never had a six pack, but my waist was slim. That went wrong about the same time.
Head hair, well we all know what happens to men's hair as they age. Mine thinned at the age of 35, but thankfully has not got much worse.
Sex, well this one fascinates me. But I will leave that for another post.
You know what the worst is? More hair. At around 30 I started notice hair growing inside my nose! Gross and disgusting and have plucked it out ever since. Then hair around my nipples, I plucked it out too, until it started to grow on my chest too, so I had to drag a razor over it. Remember I was slim and very smooth, otter like is the term perhaps. It was spoiling my image.
Then it started to grow in and on my ears, more plucking and shaving.
Horror of horrors, the other day I noticed a fine lot of hair on my stomach. You can only see it against the light at the right angle but eeewwwhhh.
I wax, pluck, shave and then not long after, have to do it all again. Bit like doing the washing. Great when the basket is empty, but it fills up again quickly.
Perhaps it is better to be a hairy bloke, and then you have to worry less. A few stray hairs does not look good on an otherwise smooth bod.
Later edit: Sorry about the flood of posts. This is the last of the written, dated back to mid Spetember, but saved for serious editing later because they weren't right. Can't be bothered now.
While I don't look at the details nor the ip addresses, I have a thing called stats counter and I can easily see how many people have looked at my blog.
It surprises me and gives me heart to continue blogging.
More and more people comment on my blog.
I assisted the computer illiterate brothers a couple of weekends ago with a problem with their pc and noticed my blog is bookmarked. Not sure if they actually read it though. Hope they haven't recently.
But as time goes on and more and more people read my blog, and friends and new blogging mates read my blog, I feel somewhat constrained in my freedom to blog how I want to, lest I offend other bloggers who are kind enough to put a link to my blog on theirs and the afore mentioned.
Freedom when blogging becomes more constrained the longer you blog.
My beer was bad.
I was aiming for eight percent alcohol beer. I think my beer was zero percent, not that it was drinkable.
Beer needs warmth for the yeast to work. I thought the perfect place was in the outside cupboard next to the hot water service. I monitored the stick on temperature indicator carefully. The stated time had well passed before the hydrometer gave a reading that was acceptable. Bottled it anyway. Into lots of sterilised stubbies and tamped down the seals.
Once bottled, beer still needs warmth to mature, so stubbies next to hot water service. No explosions.
Beer sour at maturation time. Pour out beer and slowly put out many stubbies for recyling.
Beer needs a heating element. Beer making heating elements are cheap. Do not bring home a beer kit without one.
Of course invitations are no longer appended with Ladies bring a plate. Usually I think it is, Please bring a plate.
I know some from other countries or cultures would be very offended by guests bringing anything. Some party givers even provide cigarettes for the guests who attend. Well perhaps that one is not appropriate now.
I wonder if this really is an Australian customs and what are it's origins?
It is an excellent idea for the UN to discourage countries from steering the defence of their respective countries in a nuclear direction.
But it does puzzle me how countries with le gross bomb say that other countries cannot have one.
One in all in hey? Oh, only the good countries can have them, not the bad ones. Fair enough in MY opinion and I hope it is in yours too, even if you are in one of those bad countries. Just cozy up a bit to you know who, and all will be well. Works for us,
Bloody cheek. She should only get special treatment for significant birthdays, like the rest of us.
But, yes, two celebrations in a week and as my birthday is nearby, it was sorta a celebration of mine too. Bah humbug, I'll just skip mine.
There was one person at the party who I had seen before, but did not really know. She has been Dame M's life long friend. They both used to regularly attend the (I will get this word wrong) Theosophical Society. Said person has literally lived in South Melbourne for all her life and the times she has been to St Kilda can be counted on one hand and they were only to visit Dame M.
Dame M's upstairs tenant brought along a guest, who none of us knew. She arrived drunk, and although she has a paid off house in South Yarra (she quickly let us know that), she was still a drunk and became more offensive as the night wore on. "What are you doing tomorrow?", she asked me. "Among other things, we will probably go down to the street and watch some of the Melbourne Marathon runners go past". "Ah, you two have really exciting lives." When she suggested to R that he was really missing out on something because he did not do chicks, he glared into her eyes and said, "I don't think so". Her peace de la resistance was when she asked Dame M why she did not want a man anymore? Dame M replied that she no longer cooked and cleaned for anyone. Dame M glared at her all night. I doubt we will see this person again. It was a bad call by her tenant.
Somehow I was given DJ duties for Jasmine's (the long time drag boarder) numbers. I did an ok job, but only because I turned the lights up bright and put on my specs to learn by heart where the buttons and dials were on the sound system were well before hand.
A couple of residents from our building were there, friends of the Brighton Antique dealer, but they were not much fun as one is prick and the other is in Ramadan mode, so was thoroughly boring. I did clue the Muslim lad up that the barking dog that disturbs their sleep may belong to the famous bearded media person's wife, who lives on the same floor.
Better add a Dame M tale. One of her other tenants moved someone else in to his flat and asked Dame M if it was ok. "God, I don't know what made me say it", she told us, "but I asked if he was black". Spookily, he is part koorie.
Here are some pics to click on or not.
This is the birthday cake that we paid $37 for. I am p'd off and R is feeling a little guilty. I don't even like mud cake. I will make my own in the future.
The orchids Dame M's great nephew brought her. His inheritance is looking good.
And Jazzie looking resplendant. I didn't see, but glimpses were had of a merkin. Funny, you can only see three other people, but there were about fifteen watching plus another half dozen at the adjacent bar, and yours truly behind the arch twiddling the dials.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
But yeah, Ada and Andy (only old people will get that), Adam and Andy, both linked on my blog, were very helpful to The Age for their story about public transport enthusiasts.
I no longer buy the Saturday Age as R always manages to find some dream property while reading it to move us to, so I had to wait until we were at a barbecue tonight and a friend had a copy.
Without disrepect to the afore mentioned bloggers, it really was a nothing article that was stretched to four pages.
The photos were ok though, it showed one's face and the other's best angle, and a hot angle it is.
The article also mentioned Mathew who very kindly assisted me with a bus enquiry some time ago. He likes buses.
A person at the barbe asked what I was reading and when I told him, he said, 'Ah, tram fanciers'.