Saturday, November 05, 2016

Housing thoughts

A slightly interesting article at The Age about living in the outer housing sprawl of Melbourne (can't find the article now to link to but this graph at this site is interesting) and the choice to live in apartment near to or in the city. Most of my life has been spent in a house with a front and rear garden, the rear garden being called the back yard. Indian born people are inclined to call it the back side of the house, which can be problematic. Can I go around to your backside? You need to do some weeding work at your backside. I could go on for a long time.

Like Jackie in Toronto, we swapped to a high rise apartment from more suburban housing living and we I have no regrets. It is easy living and gives you time to do other things, such as just shut the door and travel or just be terribly lazy. Outside maintenance is paid for quarterly and not your problem as long as you can afford your building quarterly charge.

You have to be quite wealthy now to afford to buy a free standing house within ten kilometres of the city. It wasn't always the case.

I think now travelling on a freeway from Ballarat, you no longer pass the entrance to Caroline Springs but we used to and how we used to mock it. For a young gay man, to live in Caroline Springs would be a fate worse than torture or death. The estate had a grand sign above the entrance to the modern housing estate, a nice park with a lake we could see from the road and the original blocks of land were sold for $29,000. It is quite unlikely that you could buy a property there now for less than $500,000, perhaps a lot more. (I just checked and you can buy 3 bedrooms for less than $500,000)

One argument for outer suburban living is that the kids have space to play. Well, generally they don't have a lot at home. Housing blocks are now very small and large homes are built to the edges. They do possibly have quiet streets where they can hit a cricket ball or kick a footy, but will they? They are more content inside with their phone type devices.

R is a culprit of saying, well you can't bring up kids in a high rise apartment building, yet for nearly the last ten years he has seen kids (Asian and shorter term Anglo children) grow up in this very building and they seem to cope with the horror of not having a back yard or a quiet street for cricket that those gifted with such spaces now ignore as they play on their devices.

You may or may not believe me when I say there is nothing wrong with a quite new suburb west of Melbourne called Tarneit. I want to Google Tarneit to check the spelling but if I do, I know for the next week I will be bombarded with ads on the www offering land and house packages in Tarneit. However, a mobile billboard trailer promoting an open display house in Tarneit around the streets of South Yarra, is probably poor marketing, as would be targeting me to buy a house and land package in Tarneit. I am sure if I even use google maps to check the spelling of Tarneit, I will still get ads.

All around the world kids grow up in apartments. There is no reason why Australian kids cannot and the more kids who live in apartments, the better it will be for kids who live in apartments.

As for me at my age, I'd rather live in a public housing bedsit in St Kilda than an outer suburban house.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Port Melbourne

If we are down the way of Port Melbourne, usually to go to the big green hardware shed, we often go down to Station Pier for coffee and maybe a bite to eat. We usually go to the same place, Sputino next to where the 109 tram terminates. A while ago we decided to investigate further west and drove a little way along and stopped. Curiously there were lots of caravans, campervans and tent trailers parked. We thought that perhaps they were a group but pondered some more.

I think the area where we walked along the beach front was once known by gay men as Screech Beach, where many gay men took advantage of dunes and tussocked mounds and heavy ti tree shrubbery for liaisons. It has all been tidied up now and is quite a pleasant space, just not perhaps as interesting.

We were there before the cruise ship season began with the first, Carnival Spirit, arriving on the 25th October. Each year more and more cruise ships arrive. They normally arrive in the morning and depart in the evening. Passengers might just hang around the area, boring. They might go on a pre arranged scenic bus tour with some travelling up to the Dandenong Ranges or Yarra Valley wineries. The tourist double decker bus goes past the area, but I think the best option for visiting day passengers is to catch the tram into town and explore our city.

There is an anomaly in the cruise ship arrivals caused by Melbourne Cup, the horse race. Visitors want to go, and need nice suits and dresses so they must shop. The Spirit of Tasmania has its own berth at Station Pier, Inner East. As I am writing this, Pacific Pearl is at Outer West arrived 8:00 31/10 dep 17:30 02/11, Pacific Jewel, Outer West with similar arr and dep times. Carnival Spirit is at Outer East, arr 7:00 01/11 dep 16:00 03/11.

Where does the Pacific Dawn moor when all pier positions are full? Oh dear, at the very working dock, Victoria Dock, along with all the containers full of stock for $2 shops.


References to old piers.



The working port in the distance, taken from a similar position as when Margaret took her photo when on her way home to Tasmania.


I emailed Margaret as we realised all the parked holiday vehicles had found a free and pleasant place to park if they had arrived early to board the Spirit of Tasmania. I've been everywhere, man.



Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Age Not Good Enough

"...Brisbane and Mr Sharma's native India." Indeed Mr Sharma is male.

"...broke down as he paid tribute to Ms Sharma, who was engaged to be married." Apparently there is some doubt about the sex of the victim of a most horrendous crime. 

"...said Mr Sharma's death has shaken everybody in council to the core." The odds have it two to one that the late Mr Sharma really is a bloke. There is an appeal for, I guess, the family of Mr Sharma and you can donate here, which I expect will be used to cover his family's costs and maybe a memorial. Quite worthy. No, the Brisbane City Council is paying for a memorial and started the fund with a $10,000 donation. Google BCC Manmeet Sharma Trust Fund.

I am not a great proof reader of my own writing and probably not of anyone else's but with this debacle the other day, and the one above.....well, I can read The Age newspaper electronically for free. It is not so hard. I choose to pay a monthly subscription of nearly $30 for the electronic access because I believe in The Age. This sort of thing really puts me off. I know the difficulties of print media in these times, but truly, it is not good enough. I can make mistakes when I write, as can my blog mates and I care not so much. But no one is paying to read us. 

The Guardian in its Australian electronic version has made quite an impact and I love it. Unfortunately it can't cover the smaller stories in my home city, which I call the car crash stories. The Guardian Australia is asking for a $100 donation from its electronic readers. I am sorely tempted to donate and cancel my Age subscription. 

I don't blame the journalists or compilers or......do they have electronic proof readers? They are under extreme pressure from cost cutting and to produce more in a shorter time. It is management that must take responsibility. 

I used to read Thailand's Pattaya Mail online in earlier days of the internet and there simply weren't the errors that I now see in The Age. I just took a look now after many years and the paper is professional and with a quick peruse, I can't spot errors, no matter what the editorial stance of the paper is and it is not even in the language of the country. We have all been amused at times by Chinglish but it is not the case with the Pattaya Mail. 

So The Age, in my opinion you are reducing costs and standards in areas that are important to me. Save some money by dropping your sports coverage or something like that. The Guardian will probably snap up Caro. I pay my subscription because of loyalty to your product. I used to be loyal to my local chemist and to my hairdresser. I am no longer because they failed me. You are on notice. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Campervanning Day 11/12/13 Pt 2 The end

The red dot is Bright, where we stayed for our last night. The dotted line shows where we would have earlier travelled north over Mount Hotham, if not for snow and floods. So close but so far.


Many country towns are little more than a single street with perhaps one or two parallel streets and some cross streets and for some reason I thought Bright would be like this but it wasn't. We once stayed in a friends on site caravan at a caravan park in nearby Porepunkah in the mid 1980s and so I suppose we must have visited Bright, but I can't remember. Bright is quite a decent size, larger than I thought and has more than just a main street of shops. There are several shopping streets and two supermarkets and its setting with the mountains behind and the natural border of the Ovens River makes it very scenic. Here you can see the waters of Morses Creek join the Ovens River.



Much wisely spent money spent on the parkland right on the edge of town and where the creek and river join.


Recent flooding has caused some minor damage.


On the far bank. You would not want to be sliding into the fast moving and swollen river today.


It would normally be a quite still swimming waterhole controlled by this barrier.


R was looking at the water play equipment and right next to where I am standing was an enticing button to push to operate the water systems. I didn't and later found out it had been turned off, because of the flooding, I suppose.


Is this something to do with representing mining?


Through the park gates and we were soon at the shops. Peckish. It must be time for afternoon tea.




This was an excellent choice for a cake, brilliant coffee for me and fine tea for R.


Do you remember these? R suggested they were Tupperware, but I said no, however I could not remember what they were. After I while I thought to look at the base. Do you know? Answer at the end, if I remember.


Husband parking at the year round Christmas shop.


Stunning clock tower war memorial.


Bright is not a place I would want to be on a high fire danger day.


We chose to stay at the Big 4 again as it was on the river and just a short walk to the shops.


There are very few paid libraries in Australia.


Mount Buffalo is about 45 minutes drive away and I want to see it.

Some trees had been yarn bombed and so had this seat.


Visitors deciding which of the multi screens they want to visit at the cinema. We adjourned to the campervan and then later set out for dinner and chose pizza at Il Centro Pizza House. R wanted the advertised pasta, but the pasta was off the menu as the usual chef was overseas.


We had a night up our sleeve as our original plan was to come back to Melbourne from the east and spend a night at Tradie Brother's in his driveway before returning the van. He was keen to have us and see the van, but I had to call him and tell him it would be silly for us to do that now as we will arrive home from the north, nowhere near his place. I hoped to persuade R to stay another night in Bright as I thought it was just lovely but he was not keen. We checked out the morning and we could always return to the same park or another if we wanted one more night.

We had been to Mount Buffalo before, again in the 1980s but had forgotten what a steep and winding road is was to travel. The scenery was great though. R was getting stressed and I stopped. He wanted to turn around and go back down. I checked and it was only four more kilometres so he said keep going. I remembered the view was very good at the top, but this is the view that greeted us.


R got out, took a quick look and climbed back into the van.



I walked up to chalet which was having plenty of work done to it. It was once owned by the Victorian Railways and used as a guest house. Back when the train Ovens Valley trains still run, people would catch the train to Porepunkah, I suppose, and then be carried by bus up to the guest house for a holiday. It is now in government hands and has had a very chequered history over the past three decades. Hopefully it can be made into a profitable attraction soon.  


The gardens will look very nice when the spring blooms arrive. Spring is slow to come when you are up this high.



I walked back to the van feeling a little sad as I knew what was to come. "I've had enough. Just take me home now". R closed his eyes as we descended the mountain and I turned the van in the direction of home. He recovered in time for a late lunch in Benalla and we made it home before the worst of the evening peak traffic. I like this photo of the sad and lonely seat


We paid for half an hour of parking and unloaded the van, but what to do with it now. One side of the road is City of Melbourne and our side is City of Port Phillip. Parking fees are much cheaper on the City of Melbourne side but my carefully thought out plan of parking outside the synagogue and then putting money in the meter at 7 in the morning was spoilt by I think Jewish New Year celebrations. Whatever, they had paid for the use of the parking spaces but I thought to myself, well once they leave, then I could park there. No, an attendant told us. The council will come around at midnight to remove the signage and will book anyone parked here. Here, the not so bright lad said, take this permit and park in one of the seven parking spaces in the side street. Well, I just did not think the permit for synagogue parking for a Britz campervan would be believed by any parking officer. Eventually I discovered a non metered space and as well as not paying, the van could stay there until 9.30 in the morning.

Next morning we returned the van and caught the train from Tottenham back to town for brunch, once again home in our own city. So ends our campervaning adventure. Maybe a bit of wrap up to come.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

New drawers

Misleading headline really. I did not buy new frilly underwear or even plain. What we bought was a new cutlery drawer insert. The old was the original and was looking dirty and worn and a knife had poked a hole in the back. R moved the knives to another slot, which had us setting the table with odd cutlery unless we concentrated.

We then made a very grave error. The largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere, Chadstone, has been extended and the new part had opened a week or so earlier. R wanted to see it and buy something from Howard's Storage World and we knew from the Victoria Gardens branch that the shop also has drawer inserts. We had the measurements and set off along the great three chain wide Dandenong Road.

We had not even reached Chadstone when a car accident slowed us to a crawl for a kilometre or two. I didn't know which entrance to use so just guessed and we found ourselves in an underground carpark with not a clue where we were in relation to the shopping centre. The traffic stopped completely as people steered their cars into just vacated spaces. This is turning into the nightmare I thought it might be, but then Buddha smiled down on me and a car reversed out in front of me and I parked. Beads of sweat had broken out on my forehead and I could almost feel my blood pressure rising. There were attendants directing traffic and preventing a permanent gridlock, which certainly would have happened if they were not there. Where to now? Follow the crowd and we did, up some stairs and found ourselves in an area we knew.

But oh the crowds, the crowds. It was horribly congested. I live two kilometres from the centre of a city of over four million people and I never get involved in crowds and traffic like that. Firstly we needed food and the food courts were packed with people wandering around looking for a table. We eventually found a place that was smarter than we will really wanted with waiter service. The food was ok but unremarkable for the price.

I love maps and spend much time looking at maps, paper maps, in books and online, and sat nav devices but I really struggle with the interactive shopping centre maps where you select the shop you want and the screen shows the path to follow to get there. The directions don't make sense to me but we established the the shop was next to a large chain department store and there were signs within the centre indicating where the large store was. R did not buy what he wanted as they were reducing stock prior to renovations, but we did get the cutlery drawer insert. We quickly left the centre with me saying, never again. Once again I am furious that the centre does not have a train or tram running to it. Work has began on the new station to serve Southland Shopping Centre and that is where I will go once the station opens, if I must go to a large shopping centre. Victoria Gardens isn't very big but quite good and at least has a tram to get there.

As the drawer mostly was.You can see the hole where the knife went through the back.


This piece of glued down timber stops the insert sliding around and of course it was now in the wrong place. I whacked it with a hammer and the glue gave way and I reglued it to the correct position. I did try leaving it out as the new insert had non slip feet, but it still moved. Now I had to wait for the glue to dry.


Once the glue dried, I loaded it up with teaspoons on the right, then spoons, knives and forks, as you would when setting the table, so knives ended up one space to the left. Note the non slip surface in each compartment.


After R woke for his nap he said, that is not how it should be and rearranged to what I think is totally illogical left to right, knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons. As he uses the cutlery drawer the most, he can have his way. I just occurred to me, R is left handed and so maybe that influenced the way the cutlery is placed.


Monday, October 31, 2016

A fine newspaper of public record

Tomorrow is the Melbourne Cup horse race. The Age has kindly included a guide to what is open and what isn't for this metropolitan public holiday. Not a lot of effort was put into the task by The Age. One wonders if there is any accuracy at all in the guide. Best to phone ahead first, methinks.

Public transport 

Trains Services on all Metro train lines will run to a Saturday timetable, with no early-morning trains. 
Trams Trams will operate on a Saturday frequency, but times may differ slightly. 
Service changes will also affect some CBD trams during the AFL Grand Final Parade between 10.15am and 2.30pm. 
The free tram zone has been extended to include stops close to Yarra Park from the first tram on Wednesday to the last on grand final day, Saturday. 

Campervanning Day 11/12/13 Pt 1



We took a drive around Gundagai the next morning. While the weather was better, we were still being buffeted by winds and it was rather cold, such a contrast to the previous morning when we were on the coast at sea level. There are some very old and historic buildings in Gundagai.


A look out point above the town gives fine views. Centre left you can see the freeway bypass of the town.


Th old railway bridge and road bridge cross the flood plain of the Murrumbidgee River. Neither are used now for their original purpose.



You can see the river is still in a state of minor flood.



It is probably a ford under the water. You can see it must flood often as this is a permanent barrier gate.


A old mill on the river.


Down at the old rail and road bridges.


Time to go. We stopped off for lunch in Holbrook. It too has been bypassed and was often thought to be a halfway stopping point between Melbourne and Sydney. It sold cheap fuel too and there was an old submarine attraction. I am not sure about the submarine, but the fuel is no longer cheap.


Saddlery or just Saddles. We had a nice lunch at the local bakery and filled the van with diesel, trying to balance between having enough and returning the van almost empty of fuel.


Another surprise town to me where we stopped, expecting it to be dry and flat, was Yakandandah. It is a very nice little town with lots of  'olde wares' shops.


There are a couple of gay connections to Yak. One is a Paul Hogan movie called Strange Bedfellows, where two straight men pretend to be gay to receive financial benefit and the movie was set in Yak. I don't think it was a very good movie.



The movie did bring fame to the town.


The other connection is we have  to Yak is a former Melbourne acquaintance who has a business there with his partner. They were instrumental in starting the local gay festival, Spring Migration, over a decade ago.


The shop has a lot of Buddha statues. Alas the shop was closed the day we were there so we did not catch up with Andy.


We stopped for a time in another nice larger town, Myrtleford. There were some lovely gardens. I hope the wisteria is not allowed to run rampant over the cedrella tree.


I was just aiming my camera when the home owner appeared with a handful of weeds, so it is not a great photo of an excellent garden.


A short distance on was our destination, Bright.