Saturday, January 28, 2012

To the hills

Last Sunday we started at Grants Picnic Ground. It was very busy with people barbecuing. The rosellas have been driven away by the cockatoos, it would seem. There was only one rosella, hanging back in a tree. Others had the cockies on their arms, but I find they scratch my tender young skin.

I seldom drink tea, but coffee does not go with scones like tea does, so a fine pot of tea each with our scones.

I heard a slight laugh in the trees. More half a laugh. Yep, there is the culprit, a kookaburra. They apparently like eating snakes and lizards, which they kill by carrying them up into a tree and dropping them, repeating until the reptile is dead. We have seem them do it with a sausage off a barbecue.

Onto Mount Dandenong, which is absolutely wonderful now. The five dollar entry charge keeps the hoards away a bit, thankfully. Every other park was so crowded. We have given up on barbecues in parks in the hill and surrounds. They are always too crowded now.

This pole has Australian animals and an Aborigine carved into it.

This world globe has figures linking hands on its circumference. It sits on pumped water and with some effort, you can get it turning and its momentum keeps it going for some time.

This is or was a tv broadcast tower. Now, I don't know if they are still used. At the base of one on a building looked to be an old sign, perhaps Channel 9. The elm tree was just glorious.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nice work Jetstar

Unbeknownst to us, R's sister and and her friend spent five hours at Melbourne airport after their Jetstar flight to Sydney was cancelled. I suspect the flight was cancelled because of insufficient numbers. It is Andrew's fault. We wanted to go Qantas.

Upon arrival at Sydney airport they caught a taxi to their hotel. The taxi gave them a Cook's Tour and charged accordingly, about 30% more. Andrew said taxis in Sydney are really good.

It rained and it rained. Andrew said Sydney weather is lovely.

They went for a drink to the pub opposite the Travelodge. A old guy tried it on with them. He was more successful with another lass. They observed him crossing the road with her to the hotel where they were staying. Andrew has put us up in a knocking shop.

Lasses, did you have a nice view from your hotel? No Andrew, we had a view of the pub across the road.

They et in Chinatown. Andrew, that takeaway Asian food we had at your place was so nice, we thought we would try some in Sydney. It was awful. It is your fault.

Andrew said how sparkling blue the harbour will be. It isn't.

Yep, it is all my fault. All a joke of course.

As Victor pointed out in a comment, the full day they were there it just rained and rained. They did go on the ferry but came straight back. A couple of nice young men bought them vodkas in the hotel opposite where they were staying. They also had fish and chips, which were lousy too. At least the hotel room was good.

We collected them from the airport at about 5pm and immediately they were back here, they wrapped themselves up, still not rid of the Sydney damp.

Some spark plugs for the diesel electric

I like trains. They are a marvellous way to travel. I have a vague understanding of electric trains, they have electric motors and electric bits and the power comes from an overhead wire or a rail on the ground. It is all I need to know.

Steam trains are so cool. All that smoke and steam, shovelling coal into a boiler, pressured steam moving pistons to drive wheels. Not too hard.

Modern diesel electric trains just seem to work without a problem. They are high tech beasts and there is nothing really to see. They just work.

But old diesel trains have become quite fascinating to me, especially the starting up of them. It is not a simple process of pushing a button and the engine starts.

There is a long whirring I think of a starter motor. There is what looks like steam belching out, and then the steam is combined with black smoke and lots of putt putt noises. Sometimes the engine settles to a regular beat, but not always. Is that a fail to start?

Like cars, of course of diesel engine needs a starter motor. What powers it? Batteries? How many and what voltage are they usually? How long does the starter motor engage?

What is the steam? Or is it not steam but white smoke?

Do the engines kind of start, but don't really, and hence the starter motor has to keep turning? They seem to start a bit, like firing, but don't really start for quite a long time.

In the probably forlorn hope that I have reader who understands old diesel electric trains. I might have to go to a website forum and ask questions there.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stay in Florida. Cheap digs.

Another fine photo from It is the Tampa Bay Hotel in Florida in 1902. It is a big photo and if you click it, you will see the fine detail. I do love restrained architecture. Can you imagine staying there, the interior, the uniformed staff tending to your ever want. I was made for such a life. Pity it didn't happen.

Happy Oz Day

It is Australia Day today. It is a public holiday and we celebrate.....umm, being Australian I suppose. At times you will see cars with Australian flags attached to them. I have never felt comfortable with the use of our flag in such a manner. To use a word my grandparents used to use, it is skiting. Apparently flying our flag on the car is a favourite things for racists to do. I'll make do with the toothpick with the Aussie flag.

I like my country as much as the next person. There are many people in Australia who will justifiably disagree with me, but Australia truly is the lucky country. By this I mean it is relatively successful for no reason other than succeeding by arse rather than class.

I am sorry for being so negative on what is supposed to be celebratory day, but I have and most of you have seen many changes in Australia, and mostly they have been for the good. What troubles me is the lack of political passion, be it left or right, it doesn't matter. What is wrong is that no one believes anymore. Everyone is so cynical. It is easy to blame the politicians who literally or figuratively pork barrel. It is easy to blame the shallow five second grab media.

But no, the fault lies with us, you and me. We have fallen for the 'give them cake'. We are fat and gazing at our navels.

Australia has such a huge potential and many individuals do fine things, but collectively, we really need to get our act together.

I would like to expand further, but I have to write an email to the manager of the building next door to query why the air conditioning is running at night time and disturbing my sleep.

Later edit: This is all very glum. Try last years Oz Day post or the year before for some nice music.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sent to Coventry, well Sydney

Last night and tonight we are guest less. Earlier in the week at their request I booked them flights and accommodation in Sydney. They were about to go out and I asked if they wanted to hang around while I made the bookings, but no, you do it Andrew, and they left me with a credit card.

It took quite some time, but eventually I got them a good flight to Sydney and a less than ideal flight back tomorrow. We will pick them up at the airport tomorrow.

I wasn't keen on making the booking on my own. I would have liked to ask and check if things are ok as I found what was available. As it was I did not know which last name to use for R's sister. It could have been any of three, and naturally I chose the wrong one. Fortunately she has a driving licence in that name, so that will do for id at the airport for a domestic flight. I couldn't book the accommodation as the Barclay card want some extra verification numbers. I thought the booking might get taken, but no it was still available that evening. They took and Jetstar flight up and will catch a Virgin flight back and stay at the City Travelodge.

I should have gone through the paper work. Apparently they should have printed boarding passes, or so the emails said that arrived an hour before they caught a taxi to the airport. As we haven't heard otherwise, we assume they got away ok. Really though, they ought to check their own paperwork.

They will only have one full day and R's sister's friend wanted to see the Opera House and the Bridge, so I suggested a trip to Manly on the ferry whereby you get a good view of both and Manly is a nice place for lunch and a wander. I printed out a google map showing them where their hotel is and Museum Station to catch a train to the Quay. I expect they will get a cab, if they get their act together and go.


I like to bring this subject up every so often, and with a new blog comment on a old post, and a post by Julie at Sydney-Eye, the time is ripe.

Briefly, Juanita was murdered by persons unknown solely because she agitated against inappropriate property development in Sydney's Kings Cross and Potts Point and perhaps more importantly, it is suggested she was about to expose corruption in NSW. Maybe her death wasn't in vain, as the developments were stopped by Jack Munday and the Builders Labourers Federation's Green Bans.

Whatever the real reason she was murdered, it was somewhat of mistake to take the life of an heiress to the Mark Foy's empire.

This actually the fourth post I have made about Juanita. I doubt those involved will ever be named or charged until after all the parties, that is politicians, police and developers are dead. Everyone knew how crook the system was in NSW and very few did anything. (this one has the latest of Barry Ward's comments and links)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Random Sydney Photos

Sydney's magnificent Chinese Friendship Gardens, a gift to Australia by China for Australia's bi-centennial in 1988. I think I took the photo in about 1991. They are, or certainly were, very beautiful.

I took this photo at Bondi Beach I think in the early 1980s. If it was 2012, it would have been on You Tube in five minutes flat. The situation is a little puzzling. Had the mini bus reversed over the edge, it would much more understandable. I often don't mind public art on buildings etc, but gee that wall is ugly.

Just not cricket, or tennis

Something that I can never remember not happening in tennis is the shake of hands at the conclusion of a match. While it could be because I don't really watch tennis, Czech, Tomas Berdych, shamed himself and those he represents by refusing to shake his opponent's hand at the conclusion of a match. He was booed by the crowd for his impoliteness and lack of sportsmanship, and I doubt he will have much support in the near future. I don't believe there is a financial penalty for such behaviour.

This is his photo afterwards. The Age.

But this behaviour by a spoilt and immature brat who is exactly not so young should have resulted in him being sent immediately home and a fine proportionate to his tennis income. Well, I think he immediately went home anyway, as he was out of the tournament. How can anyone possibly achieve so much in tennis, and yet have so little self control off the court? Greek Cypriot Marcus Baghdatis smashed four tennis raquets in succession. I think it is intolerable behaviour by a supposed sports person.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The visit goes on

The visitors seem to have adjusted to Australian time now. They did go missing in action a few days ago when Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo were staying at the Sebel in Queens Road, due to lack of accommodation at the Highrise. They were up for the tennis. R was going to take them there to show off his treasured Little Jo, but alas, they got 'lost' in the wilds of St Kilda so R met the Bellarine family on his own. They had been upgraded to an executive suite, which is not bad when all they paid was $150 for a lucky dip hotel within a ten kilometre radius of Melbourne. Little Jo spent the night and next day with the Bone Doctor's very un-indulgent parents. Character building for Little Jo, and good for her. Life is not always like you want it to be.

R's sister and her friend stayed in bed until I left for work at 9.30 this morning. They hung around here until mid afternoon, which was not following the plan of them walking to Albert Park Lake, then onto the beach and then catching a tram to either the City or St Kilda. Instead they ended up going to our local pub where we took them the night they arrived.

Did they leave a message for us? A note? No. Well, they didn't know what they were doing. R cooked us a nice meal and they missed out. They came home at 9pm and interrupted our Midsommer Murders. They had a long list of phone numbers of blokes they had met and bars where they were going to meet said blokes tomorrow. Hey, they were all rich. One owned a construction company in Sydney, another, a ranch in Queensland. Do we have ranches in Australia?

Tomorrow morning we are taking them for shopping for groceries. They will probably come because what English person could resist bacon and eggs for breakfast at Mojito's?

Later: Apparently they could resist bacon and eggs and stayed here while we went shopping. In the afternoon we took them to Victoria Market to buy some things to take home as gifts. I have never been to Vic Market on a Saturday, so it was interesting to see and hear the vendors trying to get rid of the fruit and vegetables.

Saturday evening we took them to meet up with friends at a Caulfield hotel where we had a decent meal.

Sunday, we took them up to the hills to Grants Picnic Ground to feed the birds and have Devonshire Tea and then to Mount Dandenong to gaze down upon Melbourne. It was a very pleasant afternoon, even if it was a bit warm. I'll put some photos up in another post. They are now down stairs having a swim and a spa.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Isolating the board

Youse are a useless lot. I remember posting once about the trouble R and I had had with the laptop where after we plugged the mouse into it, we started having problems when typing. The text would jump around sometimes, going back of forth and doing other things. It took yonks for me to work out the problem. We were accidentally touching the pad with our palms or our wrists.

Once we were aware of the problem, we tried not to touch the pad, but it is hard not to. I was fiddling the other day with the laptop, wondering what it was so beastly slow when it has been used so little. The buttons that do extra things, such turn on/off, volume control, hard drive activity etc have some pretty indecipherable symbols. What does this one do? Oh, a blue light has come on at the pad. Wow, the pad is isolated and won't work, and none of you told me about the existence of such a button.

An acronym that has appeared in print and suddenly is everywhere is most appropriate here. RTFM. Read The Manual......ah, missing letter. Let me think. Ohhhhhhh. Yes, very much RTFM.

I overheard a conversation the other day about lap tops and mouse from someone about forty. She was asking someone to get her a mouse to plug into her new laptop. As I suggested, and she agreed, young people are quite happy with just using the pad of laptop, but older people like to have a mouse.