Saturday, May 25, 2013

La lune

As we smoked a Gauloise and sipped from our glasses filled with a drink concocted from some Scottish grain and pure water from a Scottish stream, I noticed we were illuminated by a full moon in a clear sky while we were sitting on the balcony. Lordy, it was bright. It is a full moon and very strong. I don't like being so strongly illuminated, but now I know why there are so many crazys around.

I am not superstitious  but for some odd reason, I do believe that a full moon makes people crazy.

The Domain

What is colloquially known as The Domain is actually the Kings Domain, which is parkland along St Kilda Road in Melbourne.

There is Domain Road, where the number 8 trams travels and Domain Interchange, a significant tram transfer point. The Interchange was quite horrible and was replaced over Easter and is now much more attractive, and just as importantly, much more functional.  Here are few photos taken when it had just been completed, not so much of the Interchange, but its context.

The curved building is The Domain, formerly an office building, BP House. It is expensive residential accommodation and it is no surprise that the residents were successful in stopping a tall building being built that would restrict their views, especially as there are politicians and some real high flyers who live there.


I can't believe how the new interchange has freed up the jam of trams that used to occur frequently.




While it is no longer used, especially as it is in a garden bed, this out of focus shows a Bundy clock, used to record the time of passing trams. The tram driver would jump off his or her tram and insert a a brass 'key' into the clock and turn it.


This building is way too tall and out of scale with the street, but new buildings around it are catching up in height.


Another very tall building under construction.


I have photographed and posted about this sculpture before, but I can't find the post now.  It depicts a soldier carrying his wounded mate.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Falling House

Turn your speakers off for this video and save yourself from the melodramatic commentary and there is no need to watch it over and over as it is in the clip. The building is very old, so I won't dis Portuguese building standards on this building alone.



You may feel like you are watching paint dry, but the tension is building. You just know something dramatic is going to happen. Unlike in the comments on the video, given the emergency vehicles around, I doubt anyone was killed. It is not such an old building, so I will dis Russian building standards of that time. Are building standards any better in Russia now?



These clips feel slightly relevant to the destruction of peoples houses in Oklahoma this week. Awful things happen to both good and bad people. This is not a planned part of this post, but how about the woman who's dog appeared from the ruins.  But please darls, give him/her some water immediately.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hooray for Hazel

She's such a girl, well woman (old song phrase that came into my head). She was the wife of Australia's Prime Minister Bob Hawke who ruled Australia from 1983 to 1991.

In the early days of Hawke's Prime Ministership, we assumed Hazel was just a political stay at home wife, busy with family life. She turned out to be a significant contributor to the betterment of Australian society.  Once divorced from Hawke after he left office, she became even more of a contributor and to give to society became her life.

Even once slightly doolally (that will send a few to their Oxford online) from Alzheimer's, she agreed to be featured in her diminished state for a television programme to promote the org Alzeimer's Australia.

No Prime Ministers' spouses will be better remembered than Hazel, not Dame Patty, not Dame Zara, not Lady McMahon, Margaret is arguable, not Tamie, not Annita, not Jeanette, not Therese and not Tim (I'd reckon not the next one Margaret either).

Hazel died today. Bless.


I think Hazel would have approved of this and so as a tribute.... The Victorian branch of the Liberal Party discussed and perhaps approved a motion to privatise our ABC, our national government funded broadcaster. Hazel worked hard for better and more suitable children's tv programming. Believe me, you won't get that from anywhere else but a publicly funded broadcaster and it that kids get quality commercial free tv is so important.

Knock knock

Mother is plagued by door knockers. She is quite happy to get a knock from the Jehovahs who have come to almost be her personal friends (they will hang around and listen to her list of medical problems). Most of the knockers are people who want to sell her something, change telcos, change electricity companies etc etc.

She has resisted changing electricity companies, because hers allows her extra time to pay her electric bill. But she was tempted by a door knocker with a good lower tariff from the same company. She signed a contract for two years. Then she realised that she had to pay her electric bill on time. Mother deals with bills as business accounts, that have to be eventually paid, in time and takes no notice of due by dates. A call to a provider by a poor old helpless widow can do wonders.

While it was past the cooling off period, she realised that she had signed up to Red Energy New South Wales, rather than Red Energy Victoria, quite a different company. Is it duplicitous of RE NSW to be door knocking in Victoria and not saying they are a different company to RE VIC, who was already Mother's electric supplier.

Mother called them and in spite of being past the cooling off period, she was transferred back to RE VIC. Now she has not had an electric bill for well over four months, in spite of her calling them and asking for one more than once. If only she could get to nine months and the bill will be wiped.

Life of Riley? No.

Mother was a city girl even though she grew up on the outskirts of Melbourne in South Oakleigh. Along with being a single child (explains a lot) she did not really learn proper domestic skills until she was married and had to learn them. If anything Father's domestic skills were better than Mother's.

Father built the family home in Riley Street, South Oakleigh and also a rather nicer house in North Road for Mother's parents. Who knew North Road we go on to be a truck container route?  Then Prime Minister Menzies' credit squeeze hit the building industry and the construction of new houses slowed considerably so Father decided to buy a farm with money from Mother's father. Grandpop told Father not to worry about repaying the money, just make sure my daughter has what she needs. Of course, come their divorce and the farm was sold, Grandpop wanted the money repaid, and it was.

I was four years old when our family moved to Gippsland on a cold, grey and drizzling day in June. Mother went on a quick learning experience. She did not have a clue how to light a black wood fueled stove and on the second morning at 6.30am poured petrol over the wood and when she set a match to it, the hotplates all rose into the air and then fell down with a loud clatter. Mother, in tears, went back to bed and did not rise again until 10.00 and so set a sleeping pattern for a lifetime. Father lit the stove the next morning before departing to the dairy.

Hot water? You have to light this chip heater with paper and little bits of wood for bath water. You use an electric immersion heater to heat water in the laundry. Dishes are washed with water heated in the kettle on the stove.

No Mother, you cannot use the tank water for clothes washing. There is insufficient supply. You have to pump that water from the well by hand into a bucket and carry it to the laundry, along with water for the garden. 

The black wood stove was mastered in time, but the small electric Vulcan hotplates saw a lot of use.

The toilet? Down this steep muddy track and once a week a hole has to be dug to bury the contents.

Of course you can use the telephone, so long as no-one else on the party line is using it. Be careful what you say as people can listen in.

You need wood for the stove? You have to chop the wood.

Unlike other farmers' wives in the area, Mother had nothing to do with the farming side of things and found it enough to cook, clean and wash for three, often four adults, the extras being Father's brothers, and eventually four children. Although other women in the area did similar and milked cows morning and night.

Gradually things improved. An electric hot water service was installed. A briquette burning slow combustion stove that did not go out overnight and helped to heat the hot water was a good buy. A pump brought water up from a dam to fill the well and a water pressure system installed to supply the house, which led to a new automatic washing machine. When Sister was born, the monster never used lounge room was divided into a bedroom with hallways either right angled side and an indoor septic toilet was a marvellous addition, although the occasional vegetable garden seemed to lose some of its vigour.

While Mother has never had to worry about money, until recently and even now she knows her children won't see her go without, up to a point, she did do some really hard yards when we were kids.  But Mother's situation was not so different to general society then. Mother's now may not have to pump water from a well or chop wood, but by golly in modern society, Mother's work hard in other ways. What a pity both parents seem to have to work and one is not at home to bring up children but that subject is for another post.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hotdogs got two head jobs in public

What an intriguing tidbit I heard in a podcast. The complete sentence was, 'Hotdogs got two head jobs in public and I can't even get one in private'.

Some serious questions arise from such a statement.

Who is Hotdogs and why is he well known?

Is he good looking?

Is he not good looking but hot in some other kind of way? (like really charming, or very funny or can sing French love songs into your ear while he caresses your ..... ?)

Does he have the Russell Brand mysterious pull, that I don't get at all? The only hot thing about Brand is that so many seem to desire him.

Assuming it is not his real name, why is he called Hotdogs?

Is the speaker who can't get a head job in private, of very plain appearance?

Sometimes you have forget the frivolity of life and concentrate on the more important things in society. I expect Wiki Wagnell will help me to find out who Hotdogs is and what he looks like, but you could help me along the way if you know.

I do have one clue. He seems to be Australian.

I struggle to keep up with popular kulcha. I've not even listened to the Eurovision winner's song.

Out Bundoora Way Pt 2

Bundoora Homestead was built for horse breeder and racer John Matthew Vincent Smith and completed about 1900. I can't establish how he made his money but in my brief search, I have found that Resident Judge of Port Phillip has posted some colour about Bundoora Homestead. In 1920 it was sold, along with Bundoora Park to the Commonwealth Government by Smith for £28,000 and used to rehabilitate returned soldiers with mental health problems. It was initially known as the Convalescent Farm then later the Mental Repatriation Hospital. In 1924 control was transferred to the Victorian State Government who in 1930 to 1952 used the park and stables for the police mounted unit and a small adjacent hut was used to accommodate the police Aboriginal trackers.

In 1965 the house became known the Bundoora Repatriation Hospital. It was de-commissioned in 1993 and ownership transferred to the State Government. The outbuildings and covered walk ways that had grown over the years were demolished.

By 2001 it had been restored with funding from the Federal Government, the local Darebin Council and Latrobe University and is now principally used as an art gallery. Some parts are modern but most areas have been very nicely restored.

In this photo from the Bundoora Homestead website you can see that the house was in a very poor state compared to now.


It is open to the public and is free to visit. There is also a cafe within. Here are a few photos.

This work was done with a hot fire poker. Although once reasonably common, not much of that type of work survives.



Damn, the upstairs was closed while a new exhibition was being curated. I would have loved to stand on the balconies. It is a rather odd window placement, don't you think?


I loved this small painting of a car crossing a bridge over Darebin Creek.


Lots of stained glass throughout the house.


Remember this from last week's quiz?


The Tobin ventilation system was in a number of rooms. Tubes lead to the outside of the house and apparently differing air pressures force fresh air inside with the flow being controlled by the fist. Not sure what the issue might be about opening a window instead. Here is another photo so that you can see the scale.


Some lovely fireplaces.


A few nice bits of furniture, but not properly furnished.


Massively thick and heavy doors.


Peeking upstairs. It looked  just as grand.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lickers not welcome

Mrs Woog recently posted on The Hoopla her response to two dykes being refused pre-booked accommodation in New Zealand because they were dykes. I am usually cautious about going overboard about matters as you never know the full circumstances.

The links are above and I felt driven to make a comment. Mrs Woog is quite a cool person. Good god, my comment is now scrolling across the top of The Hoopla site. Here is what I said.

Regardless of the legality of the owners’ actions, they need to be upfront in their advertising and state ‘no poofs and dykes please’ and spare themselves bad international publicity and embarrassment to their innocently booked guests. They have gone one step further than the usual preface to a homophobic comment than ‘I don’t care what they do behind closed doors…’. They do actually care.

Seriously, they could couch their advertising in discreet terms such as, 'ideal for older married couples'.  Who really wants to stay where they are not welcome.

It reminds me of when we visited Adelaide in 1983 and stayed at a West Beach serviced flat. We booked through the South Australian Tourist Bureau office in Melbourne. It was early days in our relationship and rather than book separate rooms as we would now do, well separate beds at least, we wanted a double bed. The Bureau obliged with the booking, but I assume once the accommodation couple saw two male names on the booking, we had two single beds waiting for us.

Much to R's embarrassment, I insisted, and the beds were pushed together and remade, hardly ideal. Management had changed from warm and welcoming to dour and unfriendly.

Well, that was in 1983 and I wouldn't think such things would happen thirty years later in Australia or New Zealand, but it has.

Illegal or not....

The public was warned that what had been uploaded to You Tube would not last very long before being removed, I assume for copyright reasons. It is a BBC documentary detailing the history of London's undergound train system. I wanted to see it but I did not have an hour to spare and I hated the thought of missing the show if it was removed.

Then I remember Kiss, which allows you to save a You Tube clip to your hard drive, or any other drive for that matter.

This is the url copied from the You Tube clip.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA6TuvYCA80

remove the front bits.
youtube.com/watch?v=IA6TuvYCA80

add kiss in front and then hit your enter key
kissyoutube.com/watch?v=IA6TuvYCA80

You are redirected to a site called Fetch Video and a button pops up and you need to select Run.
Then on the site you can see the links to download in varying qualities, so follow your normal method to download by right clicking etc.

Hey presto, depending on internet speeds, you should shortly have the video to keep and watch at your leisure. The morality of it is for you to decide. I have decided on the morality of geoblocking  and gouging Australian pockets with usurious prices for imported goods.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My life in washing machines

So what is wrong with women today that they don't wear a twin set or a suit and heels when doing the washing? More likely to see them in jeans and a tee, or worse a track suit. Absolutely appalling. Look at the washing machine. It is an automatic. Think of the time she has saved that can be devoted to the comfort of her husband and family. She may not even have a headache when it comes time for rest in the marital bed.


Mother's first washing machine was a Pope and although it looked like it should have a wringer, it didn't and must have had a spin cycle. Why she did not take it to the farm, I don't know. It looked something like this only without the wringer.


It is rare for me to lose anything, but I cannot come across the manual for my grandmother's washing machine which I know I would have never thrown away and I have had to search on the internet long and hard to find a similar picture as is on the front of Grandma's washing machine manual. Nor can I find a photo of it online. Grandma bought herself a shining new automatic Frigidaire washing machine and Mother inherited her old Lightburn which was an excellent washer and who knows what speed the spinner went at, but the clothes were dryer than anything modern. We used to refer to it as the concrete mixer. You had to fill the tub with buckets of water and then Mother would put an immersion heater into the water for a time. I think the lever had three positions, Empty, Wash and Spin. It travelled from Oakleigh to the farm at the foot of Mount Baw Baw in 1961.


When Tradie Brother was born, Father bought Mother a shiny new automatic washing machine and had by then installed a hot water service. It was a Frigidaire too but so much more modern than Grandmother's. As a young gay boy, I made sure the machine always sparkled, with a liberal coating of Mr Sheen. I even cleaned its crevices with a toothbrush. Quite like this, but sparkling.


Mother did have options when it was bought though and considered a Hoover Keymatic. I recall the brochure.You selected your programmes for the washing machine by slides on a square object, like a floppy disk only bigger, and inserted it into the slot in a certain direction. I was rather sorry that model wasn't chosen.


Shortly after Grandma died, I moved into a flat on my own and took some of the furniture from her house, including her still working early 1960s washing machine. It then went with me to Elwood when R and I met. When when we moved from Elwood to East Malvern in 1982, we called on dyke friends who had a flat bed truck to move us. Grandma's washing machine fell off the truck gangplank, but was none the worse for wear. It went on to serve us for a few years. It was replaced by a sturdy Hoover washing machine, that left clothes quite wet after spinning.

We inherited a small washing machine when we moved to Glen Iris which was a lifesaver as until we renovated, there was no space for our larger one.


The Hoover came with us to our unit in Burwood and the laundry door architrave had to be removed to get into the laundry. When we sold, we sold the washing machine to the buyers.

We moved to Balaclava and bought ourselves a Fisher and Paykel, which were then a very popular New Zealand made machine. It moved to the Highrise and after about twelve years service since new, started playing up.



Our current machine is its replacement, another Fisher and Paykel.The day will come when either the washing machine or dryer needs to be replaced and the next machine will be a two in one front loader which will use far less water.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Out Bundoora Way Pt 1

Where on earth am I? I have been transported by the 86 tram to wilds I do not know.


Turning around I notice city views.


I strolled up a side street past this splendid old gum tree.


Ah, this looks nice


 And so does this. Might that be a driveway gravel of a grand house?


It is Bundoora Homestead, located in the evocatively named Snake Gully Drive.


Although in the the first photo below is what would have normally greeted visitors, in the second one to the left is the side that faces you as you approach from the street. The modern public entrance is on the side that cannot be seen in either photo.



I find bricked up openings quite fascinating, as my imagination wonders about why was it bricked up and what was there.


Back in Plenty Road, I noticed Flavours buffet restaurant has closed and vegetation is starting to creep in on it. It was once a Smorgys Restaurant, known for its smorgasbord, or buffet, food.


Some house interior shots and a little history in another post.