Saturday, October 19, 2013

The birthday

It was Sister's fault, but I got the blame. She suggested a picnic for my birthday. I imagined a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon, sitting outdoors, Little Jo playing, having a game of bocce or flying the kite if there was a breeze. Even as she mentioned it the previous weekend, the weather forecast was not good.

I gave R the perfect opportunity for him to say, I told you so. The fall back position was lunch out, with me suggesting the day before the beach cafe that was the old St Kilda Yacht Squadron building. I had no intention of going to a closed in pub for lunch.

For some reason Mother decided she would have lunch before she came. Then Sister decided they would have lunch first. The weather forecast did not change through the week. Ok, coffee and cake at the aforementioned place. Oh, have to do birthday cake and sing and have candles, mostly for Mother's benefit. Can't do that at the cafe. R decided we would have afternoon tea here and we went to shops, except we could not cross St Kilda Road because a marathon was being run, so we went to South Melbourne. I kept my mouth firmly closed as the goods mounted in the trolley for the afternoon tea, $50's worth, no less. Remember it was all my fault for suggesting a picnic, which I didn't.

It was a splendid afternoon tea and no one behaved like they had already eaten lunch. The food was devoured, the lamington sponge adorned with birthday candles was eaten, along with the Little Jo made and iced chocolate cup cakes. Nanny managed to drop her plate onto our unsullied new carpet, with a mix of chicken bones and chocolate mud cake crumbs. She was all ready to pick it up. Sister and I told her to freeze, while I went and got the vacuum cleaner. Funnily she did freeze, bent over to pick up the crumbs, and would not move out of the way. Little Jo insisted on a round of pin the tail on the donkey. Nanny won.

They had all gone by 4pm. Sister drove for 3.5 hours here and back to attend. I appreciated that. She only mentioned once about the driving time. Ah, we have to look after Little Jo next weekend while she cycles to Frankston from here and back again in the Round the Bay bike ride. For goodness sake, we said, get the train back. Bone Doctor is cycling from Geelong to the City via Queenscliff and the ferry.

I gave R a list of three books I would like, one of which I would like for him to buy for my birthday. A history of Flinders Street Station was a good choice. The railways had their own egg and poultry farm, and market garden at Noble Park, a fact I picked up as I flicked through it.  A total surprise, a book about trams, the funicular and trolley buses in Penang. I did not know Georgetown even had them. A large bottle of wine and their left over pounds sterling, (£4.90) from their visit earlier in the year, in a Tiffany Jewellery bag for us to use next year. A bunch of strelitziers? from our hair dresser friend and a very heavy decorative dish with a nice relief from Brighton Antique Dealer. Lots of cards too, of course.

Our friend in Japan's card arrived too today, with a nice cardboard sculpture, and the the promise of an ebook once it is published at the end of the month.

A bit stressful but not a bad day.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The dying Myki

I don't know how the subject arose, but R was incredulous when I told him his Myki would expire. Why, he asked. Just how it is, I replied. In a remarkable co-incidence, the following day this appeared in our email inbox.

Your myki card will soon expire

What you need to do to get your free replacement myki:

myki Replacement at a Staffed StationYou can now get a free on the spot replacement up to 60 days prior to the expiry of  your myki or if your myki has expired.

Simply visit a staffed station with your expired myki or soon to be expired myki and  they will provide you with a free replacement card of the same type. Your card will be linked to the replacement card, any balance will then be transferred instantly and your myki will be ready to be used straight away.

Your replacement myki will also be automatically registered to your account.

That sounds simple enough. Now I am wondering about the un-registered  Myki cards we have for visitors. I suppose one day they will just not work and it will be a matter of taking them to the station for the balance to be transferred to a new card. If I think of it, I will check at a check point to see when they do expire. It is not good having them for visitors if they won't work.

R has a vintage person's Myki, ouch R, don't hit me so hard, that were all issued around the same time, so I expect stations will be busier than a Sennalink office in the next couple of months. Oh yes, if you have to wait for an extra long time in a Sennalink office or on the phone to them, apparently they were busy with election work!!!

A Communicatvie Teen

Are teenage boys really this uncommunicative? I can't remember. All the same it does seem quite plausible.

According to Shazam, the track is called Sort of Dunno Nothin' by Peter Denahy who comes from, some of you overseas types will like this, Yackandandah.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


We went out today. From the photo can anyone guess where we went?

Later edit: It's no surprise that Marcus of the blog Waking up in Geelong knew the photo is the of stairs to the platform bridge at Geelong Railway Station. More about our trip in a few days.


Park Street, South Yarra is a street often walked by us, for the reason that we like it. We watch for the magnolias blooming and the constant renovations of properties that line the street. This relatively modest place has just had it interior space tripled or more, with a second storey addition at the rear.

A row, or a terrace of cottages. Isn't it strange the the decorative gable is not on two of them. Removed or just not built? One even has the chimney missing. Now that would be a removal for sure. Bit of foliage growing from one of the chimney pots.

The traffic sewer of Kingsway is not our favourite place to walk but walk it we must to get to our local watering hole next door, The Palmerston Hotel next to this new building. We wondered what would happen to these sole remaining houses when we became a aware of the new development. They have been renovated, but I doubt they originally looked much like this when they were built.

This new development in Albert Road is a odd beast, especially from where I am standing and it dominates what was a dominant building. The building it frames is The Hallmark apartment building, formerly the Holiday Inn, but best known by people of a certain age by its original name, the St Kilda Road Travelodge.

Here it is viewed from Albert Road.

 Finally, another new building in Albert Road. It lends dignity to the house it towers over? No?

I like this work at the entrance though.

Does the foyer decoration speak to you of something? Yes, it is very Asian style decoration and quite appropriate as I have only seen Asian residents coming and going from the building. R has looked at it on the net and says the rooms are very small.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Train Rant

Two mornings in a row I have heard on the radio that the 6.49 train to Pakenham has been cancelled with the next train being at 7.22, Monday and Tuesday. This is outrageous. It is supposed to be a suburban train service.  I have checked the timetable and this means there is not a direct train from Flinders Street arriving in Pakenham between 7.09 and 8.30. There are ways to get there in between these times by changing trains, but I expect this requires some train knowledge and a reading of timetables, clearly beyond the skills of the traffic reporter. I should think that when there is already a large service gap, trains should not be cancelled to make it into an absurdly long gap. Why are so many trains cancelled anyway?

Speaking of knowledge of the system, we all know trains on the Sandringham line don't run express. I am so sure of it, I would never bother to check to see if for some reason it was otherwise.

And I expect nor did the distressed man who was lost in the wilds of Kew who I came across.  He had an appointment, the time of which had long past, at the corner of St Kilda Road and High Street. English was not his first language but I gleaned enough information from him to piece together what happened. I can be kind at times and I gave him the best directions I could and drew him a little map showing how to get there using two trams. It is important when giving directions to strangers not to give them the quickest was to get somewhere, but the simplest, even if it takes a bit longer.

He had planned to catch the Sandringham train to Prahran and then walk ten minutes to St Kilda Road. I think he must have been travelling from the city, or less likely in the other direction from a station along the way. If it was the latter he must have realised at Balaclava that the train wasn't going to stop at Prahran and left at Balaclava. The more likely is that he was on the train from the city and the train did not stop at Prahran or Windsor and so he got off at the next station when the train stopped, Balaclava. He saw a tram with St Kilda on the destination and thought it said St Kilda Road. Regardless, the tram had long passed along St Kilda Road and through St Kilda and he ended up at the end of the line in Kew. Had he have caught the same route tram going the other way, he would have been fine.

My sense of direction is usually good, but I recall being completely bamboozled when we stepped off the train in Ueno in Japan at night time after we arrived from Australia. I knew our hotel was very near the station and I had a mental image of the way to go. I did not realise the station would be monstrous or there be big roads, pedestrian bridges and overpasses. I was ill prepared. Lesson learnt. I could not even work out which side of  the station we had exited. R wanted to get a taxi, but I was determined that one of my first memories of Japan was not being laughed at by a taxi driver who we would pay to take us two hundred metres. I asked a policeman and he showed me on a map where we were and which way we were facing and we worked it out from there. So I do know what it is like to be in an area you are completely unfamiliar with and quite bewildered.

As for trains running express on a line where there are never express trains, bad form Metro, although I would just about wear it if it was very well publicised before anyone boarded the train. But if you don't speak the lingo or read English, you are done.

Later edit: The 6.49 to Pakenham was cancelled again this morning, for the third day in a row. Further, cancelled Thursday too. It seems it is a planned cancellation because of works, which makes it even worse that a train is deliberately not run and there is such a huge gap in the service.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I am rather impressed by some of the larger matters that has been involved with and has influenced change for the better. Sometimes you wonder at the effectiveness of signing an online petition but normally it does not harm and may do good.

Clearly the organisation has been quite successful with smaller matters too.

Hi Andrew
Most often, we pop into your inbox with breaking and popular petitions started by users that you can support -- today, we thought we'd share some of the fruits of your labour: the victories!
Every week, hundreds of Australians start petitions using's platform -- about big national issues as well as local changes they want for their neighbourhood, town or state. Like these little beauties:
  • Lismore's public library has been saved from closure and further budget cuts after 619 people signed Louise's petition. 
  • A local council in Victoria will ensure a kids playground is made safer after 47 people joined a parent's petition to build a fence between the play area and a road. 
  • Residents started a petition and came together to convince their body corporate and shopping centre to start recycling properly. 
What's great, is that people like you are helping these petitions to win. By moving your cursor, signing your name, and sharing it with friends, you are making the difference between these changes happening or not. It's a domino effect. What we like to call people power. 
There's a lot to celebrate -- so have a read below about what people have won recently using petitions and people power, then start your own if you have something you want to change.
Karen, Owen, Tony, Nathan and the team.

The ones you might have seen in national media:

Sapphires DVD distributor apologises over "racist, sexist" cover
After the iconic Sapphires movie was released in the US with the cover relegating the Aboriginal female stars to the background, more than 18,000 people joined Lucy's petition asking for it to be changed. Now Anchor Bay have issued an apology and committed to reviewing the DVD cover -- with Lucy saying it helped shine a light on sexism and racism in the entertainment industry.
Middle Earth is saved
New Zealanders celebrated the protection of Milford Sounds, which played the part of Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings movies. Over 30,000 signed a petition against the construction of a massive, environmentally destructive tunnel through the area, and in July, New Zealand's Conservation Minister rejected the plan to build the tunnel!
Twitter adds a "report abuse" button to crack down on rape threats
Talitha, a 23 year old woman from Sydney, started her petition after experiencing an "horrific torrent" of abusive and threatening tweets, and hearing many other women were having the same issue of Twitter deeming them acceptable. After 130,000 people signed petitions across the globe, Twitter have now rolled out a "report abuse" button and other measures to protect users from abuse and rape threats.

A heap of local wins happening around Australia:

  • At risk of being closed due to funding cuts, a local childcare centre in South Australia will now get ongoing funding thanks in part to this petition started by a mum.
  • Security and safety at O'Sullivan Beach boat ramp will be upgraded after 153 people signed a petition to their local Mayor.
  • After fans petitioned Sony Pictures, they gave the film "Evil Dead" a wider release in Australian cinemas.
  • Qantas have removed American Staffordshire Terriers from being banned on flights -- 6,000+ people used Pauline's petition to pressure the airline.
  • The Federal Government has granted a mother permanent residency so she can stay with her family after 900+ people signed her family's petition. 
  • A "miracle" melanoma cancer drug will be made more affordable after families needing the drug and supporters petitioned the government to add it to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  • Bellingen Hospital replaces leaking roofs after online and offline petitions from staff, patients and families gathered 2,847 signatures.
  • A rape crisis support centre has been saved from closure after the Northern Territory government to reversed a decision to cut funding following a petition and media pressure.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Grooming under the influence

I am a firm believer in never going to bed with a piece of meat between your teeth. So many lines I could add, but I shan't

I use either a toothpick or floss if brushing won't remove a piece of after dinner crud and I have discovered why alcohol was used as aesthetic for surgery in days past.

After just the one wee drink, ok a little more as it had been a stressful day, a particularly stubborn tightly jammed in piece of crud that needed a good flossing to remove it was troubling me. I assiduously devoted the mint flavoured waxed thread to it but by golly it was stuck. Maybe I had earlier snapped off the end of a toothpick and jammed it in the tooth gap. Ah, blessed relief, as I swallowed the removed crud and possibly a piece of Asian grown timber. I can feel the gap nicely with my tongue now and all is well. Time to pass out sleep and I will sleep the sleep of the innocent with exceptionally clean teeth. Should I have not woken in the morning, I hope it would be noted on my autopsy file, stomach contents, steak and Greek salad including a possibly accidentally swallowed olive pip, but no traces of the meal between the teeth.

I awoke the next morning as fresh as a daisy. After showering, I cleaned my teeth. Ouch! As I spat out, blood was mixed in with saliva and toothpaste. Lordy, my gum is sore.

I learnt my lesson. No body maintenance under the influence. I should have learnt when I gave my self some foot maintenance and a pedicure and ended up with raw flesh, or the time I attacked a deeply buried pimple and ended up with a half of my face looking a baboon's arse when infection set in.

All body maintenance is herein to be done in the cold harsh light of day. Fortunately I have never been tempted to do any depilatory work after a drink. That really could be an ouch.

I hasten to add these three events were over many years. I don't want to sound like a lush. Wombat and Pants, silence if you please.

My Birthday Today

Those who had the good fortune to be born on my birthday.

 Cliff Richard, singer

e.e. cummings, poet

Lillian Gish, silent movie actor

Roger Moore, actor

Ralph Lauren, fashionister 

Usher, singer

Best of all, Ben Whishaw, actor

A happy birthday to you all

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Selections and The Caulfield Cup

River regularly has her Sunday Selections. I, not always. I use Sunday Selections to post a mix of photos that haven't been used elsewhere. These are mostly phone photos.

However, I will interrupt with some other writing. I did not know that yesterday was the Caulfield Cup, an important horse race here, until I saw all the men and women in their finery. I love the mornings of Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup week where everyone who attends dresses up.

What I don't like are the after effects of good day out. Half of the attendees just go home, dignity intact, a quarter of the remains leave and seemed wired to continue to party on well into the night and the next morning. The last quarter are slovenly, pathetically and disgustingly drunk. They have vomit down their suits, they have pissed themselves, they find that gutters are a great place to sit and the blokes are even worse.

While I can hardly stand on a soap box and criticise, it is a bit sad that their last memories of the day will be where they passed out.

Later edit: No, it was the Caulfield Cup. That is next weekend.

As Autumn arrived in southern Australia, it became Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It proved to be an ok summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

My late Step Father had an image of this woman in a print on the lounge room wall. Mother hated it. It is hardly appropriate for a lounge room. As soon as he was he dead, Mother removed it.

What is this arched opening at  ground level for? Please tell me if you know, or suggest something. Wood storage?

No, not a trendy inner suburban hotel in Melbourne, but at the Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan.

 Looking down at the garden of the building next door to the Highrise.

I am not keen on roses as flowers for home, but these worked well enough.

An elm tree is removed. They are old and sick, so City of Melbourne tells us. I am not so sure.

In front of the building across Kingsway, this renovated garden looks quite ok.


I have made it quite clear in the past that I am not keen on horses. Nothing has changed. Nevertheless, Bush Babe's son Dash has lost his horse Pickles. Your heart does not melt when you see them in this photo? Bless.