Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quiz - Wardlow

It is the house Miss Phryne Fisher bought when she returned to Melbourne in the ABC1 tv show Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

It is a beautiful house in the ever so beautiful part of Melbourne, Parkville (PV). At the end of the street the house fronts is Royal Melbourne Hospital. It is one of the best preserved housing areas of Melbourne with barely a block of cheap sixties or seventies flats to be seen.

In the tv show there is a horse trough on the footpath, the parking signs are removed, a maple and magnolia adorn the front lawn, clearly in pots and of course a lack of modern cars. What a pity Miss Fisher's Hispano Suzia was not parked our front when I visited.

The house is called Wardlow and was built in the 1890s. For some generations until 1975 it belonged to the Boyes family. The formal front rooms have been kept in a well preserved condition and although the upstairs was modernised in the 1930s, it is still very good. Naturally at the rear of the downstairs it is modern and has practical facilities. It is heritage listed, not that that offers much protection, but it is very unlikely to ever be in danger because of its location.

Something interesting that I just found out while fact checking, it was once occupied by the disgraced and disgraceful blogger Andrew Landeryou, son of ex state Labor politician Bill Landeryou. Landeryou  junior was in financial difficulties for a period and it is suggested that he fled to Costa Rica for five years to avoid his debtors.

While Landeryou was living in Wardlow, the house was owed by a company owned by Solomon Lew, he of swimming pool notoriety, and in the news daily at the moment over family financial battles. Lew had invested money in a company owned by Landeryou and when the company failed, we can possibly assume Lew kicked Landeryou out of the house and sold it. I believe this was 2005. Landeryou did not attend the auction, but was however seen slowly walking his dog past while the auction was in progress. The house sold then for $1.84 million to an Australian born London lawyer couple.

Anyway, the house is just stunning! R just cleverly noticed that in the show the horse trough sits where the modern fire plug is and the tree on the nature strip was removed for the show. You can see signs of its disturbance.

An interesting etched and repeated pattern in the render on the ground floor between the windows.

Not what I usually post

It is mildly amusing but apparently the mining giant Xstrata was not amused at all and has threatened legal action, stupidly against someone like myself and Daniel who are just showing what has been uploaded to You Tube. I did find the bit where the question was asked about why coal is washed funny. Clean coal technology of course. Read more at Daniel Bowen's website.


This is a bit of a tease. Any Australian recognise this building.

No one is warm at all. This is not the side of the house you may have seen. Maybe from another angle is grander, or maybe it isn't. Check out a label for this post and right clicking on the photo to see the photo title might help a little.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Prince among thieves in the temple

Prince is to perform in Australia. I am working on pure memory here but don't I remember Prince from the mid nineteen eighties? Thieves in the Temple? Non Dreaded Nephew was overjoyed to get tickets to the concert. I want to bop him on his head and point out Prince is my music, not his. Not that I care about Princes' music anymore, but what happened to the generational divide? Dreaded Nephew has even convinced his dad, Tradie Brother, of the merits of Prince and is taking him to the concert. That is a big change from Tradie Brother playing Patsy Cline's maudlin Stand by your Man over and over again.

Building a better mouse trap

We were lucky enough to get the game of Mouse Trap when we were kids. It is a pity this clever little clip is marred by swearing, but the chap certainly nails it when he asked who could be bothered playing the actual game. All we wanted to do was see the action. I don't think my brother and I ever played the game. At times the mechanism failed for us and I don't remember why. Maybe the surface wasn't level.

If you haven't wasted enough time yet, how about a life sized version?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tired and old

What is Instagram? What is Form Spring? What is Reddit? What is Tumbler? I only have a vague understanding of Twitter and Face Book and use them cautiously. R hates Face Book because he struggles to understand how it works. If he has asked me once, he has asked me many times what Twitter is about.

I was almost at the cutting edge of computers in 1996, ok, not quite cutting edge if it was 1996. But everyone thought I was an expert and wanted my advice and help with their new fandangled computer and the internet. Now I am I just an ignorant older person. I don't know about these things I mentioned above and I don't really care.

I checked Twitter to see if there was any goss on how musician Greg Ham died. There was nothing that I found. There were so many announcements from various folk that he died.  Five hours after the BBC alerted me to his death via my phone, Twitter folk were still finding it necessary to alert people that Greg Ham had died. If you don't speak English, no matter. His death is announced in many languages.

While I don't deny that Twitter can be very useful, mostly it is quite tedious.

Clock Chime

S'cuse the finger marks. This clock, which I think I showed readers ages ago, was a wedding present to my grandparents, so it is quite old. It still works but a long ago we let the chime run down as it disturbed our sleep. The hole on the left is for winding the chime, the one on the right for clock mechanism.

It last chimed sometimes in the mid nineteen eighties, so we were much surprised the other night when it started chiming. Six gongs and then half an hour later a single gong, another single one in another half an hour and then it returned to silence. For a moment I thought perhaps I had wound the wrong side, but I didn't.

While I hadn't published the post about sleeping with my grandmother, it was already written. As I am an extreme rationalist, I don't see it as a sign from Grandma, but it is rather spooky. I put it down to a change of weather affecting the spring mechanism.

Old unpublished post

It is a public post although achingly personal. You can read it here. The  self confessed fatty Kez doesn't think he is a good example, or as he puts it, an anti-example. I whole heartedly agree with Kez. He is not a good example, and neither am I. Why would the not unattractive Kez say this? I expect for the same reasons I would. Kez gives his reasons.

I work full time in essentially the same job I have done for three decades. No one has given me anything. I participate in society. I have friends. I have family. I have a personal life and a net life, both of which are very important to me. I have a partner who is my world. Life without him after thirty three years is unimaginable. I am not poor, but nor am I rich. I consider my life is pretty good.

Yet, I wonder why I am here? What is the point of me? I don't have dark moments, but if I did I might consider my life is a complete failure. All I am doing is going through the process of life. I am not contributing very much to anyone or anything. I won't even leave behind progeny to mark that I was here in the world.

No, I haven't been at the known to be depressive gin bottle. We just seem to be here to live a while and reproduce, but what is the point of us? What is the point of me?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Moubray Street

Moubray Street is a short street running from St Kilda Road to Punt Road, and then changes its name to the better known Greville Street.

This lane leads to the back of the Alfred Hospital. While I know Jayne likes chimneys, I am not sure that she would be so fond of this one.

Highrise apartments viewed across the Wesley College playing fields. Right to left are Yve, an office building, Aurora and The Alto.

This was part of the old Royal Institute for the Blind, now called Vision Australia. The western part is now the Belgian Beer Cafe Bluestone. It is a nice place on a sunny day and very popular at times.

The eastern end contains Ormond Hall, a multi purpose hall, originally a dance hall.

In the early days of HIV patients were treated at Fairfield Hospital, an infectious diseases hospital and research centre. The hospital was closed and HIV treatment moved to the Alfred Hospital in 1996. Many were upset by the closure of the specialised Fairfield Hospital, so a decent amount of funding was directed to make things better at The Alfred. The area for HIV inpatients is known as Ward 7 West and I believe this garden was purpose built for HIV patients.

Seeing a show

Of shows, I have seen many. Too many to be counted.

I think the last show I saw was a acrobatic performance. We received free tickets from Sis in Law after we bailed her and Dreaded Nephew out of England when they ran out of money. The show was good. I do enjoy seeing a show but I find it such an effort now.

A friend asked if we wanted see either the Yes Prime Minister show or A Chorus Line. Straight away I decided I did not want to see Chorus Line. R, you go if you want. I will consider Yes Prime Minister.

I think I wrote the above in about January or February.  I subsequently heard about Yes Prime Minister and I don't think it was a great show.

I am of the age that I appreciate why people of a certain age don't go out at night to see things. It is such hard work. Nevertheless, we are going out on an evening this week to see a show. It is a show that is part of Melbourne's Comedy Festival. Is our comedy festival second only the Edinburgh's?  I would probably like to see a hot guy on stage making me laugh. Instead I chose to see an Arab woman.

I have passed by Melbourne Town Hall and seen the crowds outside queueing to see different shows. Other venues apart from the town hall are used too. I don't like queues. I don't like not knowing about things in advance. I get stressed if things aren't planned. R gets even more stressed, which makes me mega stressed. Add to that Sis in Law is staying with us for a couple of nights while she takes an educational course in the city, so we invited here along too.

It all falls to me. The show is in the supper room at 7pm.

I booked online while Sister and Bone Doctor were here. What a battle. I complained to Sis and BD, I have been booking things online for years. Why is this so hard? What I was doing was trying to select seats when it is general admission. I did not know what general admission meant. Apparently it means you don't have a reserved seat and have to be there early to get the best seat. I was quite horrified by the prospect. Sis and BD went to a Comedy Festival show and they assured me it would be fine and they arrived ten minutes before and got good seats. Later Sis confessed they had friends in the queue who they joined up with.

'For god's sake Andrew, live on the wild side for once in your life', said Sister.

'If it pours rain while I am standing in a queue and I get pneumonia, then you will be to blame Sister.'

Seeking reassurance, I emailed the fabulous Fen, as I knew she had seen a couple of performances. She gave me a reassuring reply.

Then I was taken down by our friend in Japan who is familiar with the comedian (a train driver could be male or female. Do you care? Is there a point to distinguishing between comedians and comediennes?) we are going to see. A bit hit and miss she suggested.

I have faith in my selection. I heard her on the wireless and she is a funny Arab.

Seven is usually the hour when we dine. What to do? We will take Sis in Law out for a meal after the show and I will go to the shops tomorrow to get nibbles to have before the show. We have some nice cheese, some olives and some pickled onions. I will get kabana and a couple of dips and some breads. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Non Dreaded Nephew is quite proud of what he has grown in his vegetable garden this year. The seeds are from a sunflower.

This was found at the base of the sunflower plant. The spines are very very sharp. As best I can tell it is a seed pod from a Datura also called an Angel's Trumpet. While we have had Daturas in the past, I have never seen the likes of this before.

Journey on a train

I came across a site today that showed me the different trains that V Line, our country train service, use. I've never been on a Velocity train. It is about fourteen years since I have been on a country train and the last time I was very impressed, although I did have to complete the journey by road coach as passenger trains no longer run to Kyabram.

I had the afternoon free and some newspaper reading to catch up on so I though I would take a short country train trip. I considered just past Werribee, but it is such boringly flat countryside. After consulting timetables, I decided to go to Melton and back, which also turned out to be boringly flat.

I thought I would catch the 1.17 West Coburg tram at Domain Road to William Street, walk to Southern Cross Station and catch the 2.07 Ballarat train to Melton. I would have a fifteen minute wait at Melton and then catch the 2.52 at Melton back to Southern Cross.

The best laid plans............

I missed the 1.17 tram but no big deal. I caught the 1.29 and I was there in plenty of time. I checked at the V Line counter that I could use my Myki card for the trip and the answer was yes. I boarded the train on platform 6A at 1.55. At about 2.00 a fight started in the next carriage along. I could only see one woman who was the loudest and she was using the worst swear words you can imagine. She just went on and on. She and her male friend appeared to be going to leave the train, but then they would go back. One passenger in my carriage left and headed back to another carriage. Another passenger left the train to alert staff. Train staff were soon on the scene and then private guards turned up and removed two couples from the train, separated them and starting taking their details.While this was happening, I had to decide whether to continue or not. If the train left quite late, I would miss the train to come back. We left only three minutes late. While the fight was a problem, it was handled efficiently and the train conductor came through and apologised for leaving late and the disturbance and said she would come and chat to us about the incident  after Sunshine. Very impressive.

As I said, the last train I caught was fourteen years ago and I expected a very pleasant trip on this modern train, I guess best described as a rail car rather than a conventional train with an engine pulling carriages.  No, not as nice as my last trip. The train's diesel powered generator(s) were quite noisy and the air con also somewhat noisy. I recall the conventional train years ago was whisper quiet with only a slight occasional rattle from a light fitting. In summary, rail cars, if that is what Velocity trains are, are not as good as a conventional train but probably a cheaper option for our government.

V Line, in case you didn't know, was privatised and then unprivatised when the company bolted as their books became redder and redder.

It was a pleasant enough trip and once out of the suburbs, the train certainly hiked along at well over 100km/h. It arrived at Melton on time.

I crossed over to the opposite platform to catch the next train back, due in fifteen minutes. Given the facilities on the other platform, this side was very modest with only a couple of shelters and no information. If you are familiar with Melton Station, can you predict what is going to happen?

I can see the train coming, dead on time. My plan has worked perfectly. Ah, why is the train on the wrong track? There is a cross over for the train. It will cross tracks. I was on Platform 2 and the train pulled into Platform 1 where I had alighted. That explains why so many people were on Platform 1 waiting for what I thought was the next train to Ballarat and not due for quite some time. It was pointless running back under the subway as the train would have long departed by the time I got there.

I checked on my phone. It was 2.54 and the next train back to So Cross Station was 4.08. I was a bit so cross. Why didn't I check? Well, so far as I know, trains come in on one side and in the other direction, come in on the other side, unless something special is happening or there are centre platforms.

Should I go and investigate South Melton? Nothing I could see looked appealing. From the station kiosk I bought coffee and a lamington. I ordered a long black and the woman then checked if I wanted normal, skinny or soi milk. I replied normal, before I caught myself and repeated black, no milk. She was quite incredulous that someone could drink black coffee without sugar. She double checked a few times, as I repeated, black, no sugar. I felt like a freak. As I expected, the coffee was barely drinkable. After a few sips of the boiling hot coffee, I tipped it out.

I certainly caught up on my newspaper reading. People came and went, as they do at railway stations. I kept a watchful eye on them all, especially the brown people. Are they exhibiting signs of being bad people? They are teens and a very dark brown. They must be up to no good. Of course they were. One bounced a basketball for at least three minutes, which annoyed me intensely. Damn these brown people and their criminality. I examined the train timetables. What? The city bound train and the Ballarat train are due at the same time, 4.08. If that is the case, they can't both use the same platform. Maybe this time the city bound train will use Platform 2. I asked the ticket person. He told me all city bound trains use platform 1.

I went onto the platform to check the electronic display, but it had failed and was just blank. Perhaps if it was working when I alighted from the train, I would have noticed that the city bound train used the same platform onto which I alighted.

It was nearly time for the train to arrive and I was on the platform when the ex city train arrived. It used Platform 2 and it was a proper train. Seems the trains were doing French, that is on the wrong sides of the road. A minute later my train arrived a couple of minutes early and it waited until departure time. It paused for five minutes or so before pulling into Sunshine Station and slowed to a crawl between North Melbourne and So Cross. I assumed we would be arriving late and here I am puzzled and welcome an explanation. The train was due in at 4.49. I checked the time on my phone as I left the train and it was 4.40. In spite of the delays, we arrived nine minutes early? Deduct the five minute wait at Sunshine and maybe two minutes for a slow arrival at So Cross, and that would have made it 4.33. I am really missing something here.

I just missed a Collins Street tram and at 4.44 I checked my phone for the next William Street tram to home. Four minutes. I walked briskly and caught it.

Here came another problem. The tram stopped in Park Street as there was a tram at the terminus around the corner. Normally I would get off the tram and just walk home in less than ten minutes. But I decided to wait, in spite of most people leaving the tram. A couple of cycles of the traffic lights and the tram left the terminus and we swung around the corner from Park Street. I would nearly be home by now if I walked. If there was ever a passenger unfriendly tram interchange, Domain Road must be it. I weaved between trams to catch a St Kilda Road tram and almost made it. Three minutes to the next tram, a significant gap in trams in the peak. Two stops along where I alight, all that did not go right for the afternoon trip landed on one chap standing in the doorway of the tram blocking my exit.

In review, I didn't think much of Velocity rail cars. Melton Station cannot be used instinctively and a pity its electronic signage wasn't working and there were no announcements. Domain tram interchange is absurd. Public transport staff? Excellent, especially the conductor on the Monday 2.07 to Ballarat.

This is not the train I caught, but mine looked like this one.

I had forgotten about the government transport minister Robin Cooper, but he opened the renovated station in the nineties. It is modern and comfortable inside.

You would not believe the number of cars parked both sides of the railway station. So many people drive to the station and I guess catch a train to the city.

The old and no doubt no longer used signal controls. I have not seen an integrated to the station control box before.

You pay $50 refundable for the right to park your bike in this cage. It seems to privately operated. There were a couple of hundred cars parked at the station but only five bikes.

Looking back toward the city. There are five different bus stops and buses came and went. There was very minimal loading on the buses, mostly just one person, if anyone at all. The buses serve nearby local areas.

Here comes my train. It is going to cross over to the other track and pick me up at the platform I am standing on, isn't it? Apparently not.

Just before the next train I could catch pulled in, a proper Ballarat train arrived, with an engine hauling carriages.The carriages were attached after what I suppose are freight cars.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Devils Nose

I wonder what rail safety standards are like in Ecuador? In spite of living high off the ground, even I would be pretty worried on this train. The scenery is certainly spectacular and it is a zig zag railway, just like New South Wales Blue Mountain's Zig Zag Railway which I wrote about a few years ago. For another longer version, click here. In the longer clip, watch the man standing on the roof of the train and stumbling slightly at about 3.50.

Sleeping with your grandmother

Dear Grandma. I am not sure if you were really a believer, but you did go to church quite often. If you did believe, perhaps you also believed in the afterlife and perhaps there is one and you are reading this now.

Grandma, we really had no idea when you served us a roast chicken that was raw inside that it would be last meal you would ever cook for us. While you were a perfunctory cook, normally your meals were nice enough. I think finally something clicked for Mother with the raw roast chicken and the next day you were hospital, never to return to North Road.

Grandma, I could be very critical of you for not standing up for yourself but then in a way you did by your silence at times. The silence of Moo made everyone alert and on edge.

But you know Grandma, I was the oldest and none of the others remember you as well as I do. Dear Grandma, I loved you so much and you loved me without conditions.

I can sing songs from the nineteen twenties because you sang them to me when we were in bed together. Grandma, I can remember asking you about the street lights that peeked through the blinds. We had no street lights on the farm.

Grandma, I can remember helping you with your corset in the morning, pulling in the cords. I did not understand then, but I now I do. You were a bit fat and saggy in the stomach and the corset gave you a better shape. I just remember now as I write, the corset had clips on the bottom and you would clip your hosiery to the clips.

Grandma, you were the best person I knew. But Grandma, was I an easy child to sleep with.

Jumping forward some forty plus years.

Sister and Bone Doctor rented some accommodation pre Easter at Phillip Island. Like for me, Phillip Island for Sister is our special family holiday place. Mother was invited down to stay too. Mother said yes, so long as you collect me after 12. I have my jobs to do, Mother said. That put pay for a friend of Sister's to pick up Mother and take her there early.

Sister and Bone Doctor had there digs upgraded to a three bedroom place on the Island.

Little Jo had been warned not to come into Sister and Bone Doctor's bed again. From her haze of medications, Mother became aware of Little Jo standing next to her bed at midnight.  The last time this happened was when Mother was having an afternoon sleep and Little Jo was coming into the room and getting a Marie biscuit from her Nanny's bag. This time Little Jo wanted to get into bed with Nanny and Nanny had a dreadful nights sleep as Little Jo kicked, dreamt, talked and pushed Nanny out of the bed. Mother got out of the bed and into the other side, except that she then had a very high pillow. Mother did not have a good night's sleep and dined out on the tale and nor did Little Jo, who was grumpy the next morning.

I slept the sleep of the innocent when I slept with my Grandma. Although I may have been restless at times when in bed with Grandma, she never complained.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The brown people are suspicious

Is it gay man thing? Is it a general thing? I don't know. I think some guys are so hot looking, and I lust after them, but then would I really want to do the biz with them? No. Maybe, it is my age.

I vaguely recall Jah Teh quite liked Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan when I first discovered him in photos, oddly at our Immigration Museum. I just see him as a very attractive bloke and I don't really want to go any further that just admiring his looks. I collected a few photos of him and put them here in my celeb site.

It seems he gets a pretty hard time from immigration when he visits the United States. While I doubt there is a person in India who does not know who Khan is, and even non Indian me in Australia knows who he is, apparently US immigration remain unaware of the most famous male Indian movie star ever (out on a limb there, but I think so).

I did like his quip,

"Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always make a trip to America," he said during the lecture. "The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom."


When I say they are facts, you better be dubious. These are some interesting statistics that I have come across and they have stuck in my mind. They may or may not be accurate.

Forty people a day a killed by trains a day in India while the are walking on train tracks. Note, that is forty per day in case you think a made a typo, or nearly 15,000 a year.

Thames Water which supplies Greater London and some nearby counties with drinking water loses around 26% of  drinking water through leaking pipes. That is their pipes, not household pipes. Privatisation of public assets and services is working really well in Britain. Of course it is. Last year Thames Water made a pre tax profit of  £208 million. That is a success. Performance?  No need to worry about that.

Our big wide land, open for all, except where will they fit? One sixth of Australia is the Lake Eyre drainage basin.  Lake Eyre is chockers with water and wildlife this year, but it isn't always. For years in a row it can just be vast dry salt pans surrounded by desert. Nature has evolved to cope with this. We haven't.