Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hilly Melbourne

While much of Melbourne is quite flat, we do have some steep hills, but nothing compared to Sydney. Here are a few and most of them are just names I use, which may or may be in general usage.

There is the Punt Road hill. It is steep, very steep. These old tramway buses used to crawl up the hill at about 15 miles per hour while belching out thick black diesel smoke. Photo by Roderick Smith.

There is the parallel Anderson Street hill, which is a challenge for joggers who are runners who 'do the tan'. I only do the Anderson Street hill in the car.

St Kilda hill, where Dame M used to live.

The Collins Street hill in town, leading to the so called Parisian end of Collins Street.

There is the Burke Road hill in Camberwell. It is quite steep.

And the Calatina hill or Scotch College hill in Glenferrie Road.

There are some others and you can point them out by name but these are the ones that come to my mind.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Burnt Zig Zag

As awful as it is that so many people in New South Wales have lost their homes to bushfire, it is also a tragedy that the historic Zig Zag railway operation in Lithgow suffered very bad fire damage.

I wrote a little about the unusual railway back here. The operation has been closed for a while with rail safety accreditation issues but it was almost ready to re-open. It certainly won't for some time now. Here is a news report from the ABC.

Sucked in by Audrey's Kitchen

Spoiler alert! I knew the recipes were simple. I knew she was attempting humour. I thought at times Audrey of Audrey's Kitchen went a bit far, such as when she said it is bad enough catering for vegetarians, just don't encourage them, or there is no such thing as attention food allergies in children. It is just bad parenting.

My much loved ABC publicises the show thus.

What I did not know is that Audrey is an Australian comedian pretending to be another version of Britain's Nigella Lawson. Although, I think Audrey despises Nigella, no doubt due to Audrey's husband's sudden interest in cooking and his obsession with watching Nigella's cooking shows late at night on his own.

Audrey has her own website, here.  It could do with some improvement.

While I did essentially think it was more about comedy than cooking, I really had no idea it was an Australian comedy show with the Australian accented actor Heidi Arena pretending to be English, and her fake accent is pretty good to my ears.

Audrey's Kitchen airs at 6.55pm Monday nights on ABC1. You can watch it on ABC's Iview too, unless you are a foreigner and don't pay Australian tax and therefore have no right to watch our tv shows.

Here is a 24 second promotional video.

I have no idea what Peanut Gallery is, but I found Audrey's appearance on the show quite amusing.

It seems there aren't full episodes of Audrey's Kitchen on You Tube, but here are a few lines from different episodes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The cruelty knows no bounds

It goes on and on, relentlessly. Our mistreatment of animals will come back to haunt us.

Authorities are investigating the deaths of dozens of Australian cows believed to have suffocated on a flight from Melbourne to Kazakhstan.

I'm as cross as patch

Federal Minister for the Environment has a Chief Scientist he could consult about the connection between climate change and extreme bushfires. So what does the member for the Victorian electorate of Flinders Greg Hunt  do? He looks it up on the internet, and no doubt finds answers that suit his purpose. Hunt is a tosser.

Prime Minister Abbott dismisses a statement on a connection between climate change and bushfires by the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres. The Abbott also dismisses the advice of someone who has made climate change his business, Al Gore. The Abbott is a tosser.

New South Wales Premier Fatty O'Barrell says, let us not judge yet, in spite of the fire service already stating that the army started the Lithgow fire while on exercises. He went on to say the army did a great job in assisting the fire service help fight the fire. So they bloody well should, as they started it. I hope there is a class action against the army. He should have immediately condemned the army. O'Farrell is a tosser.

New South Wales Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts filibusters about greedy landlords profiteering from people who have lost their houses in the fires. The landlords are putting their rents up, banking on their being a shortage of rental housing. Yes, and? That is the free market, you know, supply and demand, capitalism and all that. When demand is high and the supply is short, prices go up.  I would have thought a conservative government minister would understand that. Perhaps, shock horror, he could regulate to prevent rent rises. No, he would prefer to stand on a soap box and preach about the gouging of greedy landlords. Roberts is a tosser. And an honourable tosser award to the ABC AM reporter who indulged him with leading questions and a non critical interview.

In some ways I rather prefer conservative governments in power.

Kids day at Fed Square

Sister arrived Saturday afternoon with Little Jo while I was at work. Once I was home, we walked to the Palmerston Hotel for some nosh. It was a fairly early night for all, consequently I was awake by 5.30 in the morning but stayed in bed with the notebook until I heard stirrings. I turned on ABC for kids and sat Little Jo down to watch and went back to bed with coffee while Sister busied herself in preparation for her 100 km bicycle ride.

R heard Sister leave and found Little Jo at the computer at the ABC for Kids website, as well as watching ABC for Kids on tv. She has become rather fond of screens and quite adept in the use of computers. In fact we have to carefully watch her in case she stumbles across something unsuitable. An example was she wanted to see photos of mermaids. I thought that was fraught with risk, but it was pretty well ok. R later wisely said, put in mermaids for kids. She managed to keep an eye on Peppa the Pig on tv.

Sister had stripped the bed and left a book on the new mattress. Yep, next to the book was wet patch. Little Jo has not wet the bed since she started school. R was furious that Sister did not put a nappy on Little Jo, even though it is a long time since she has wet the bed. I already had plenty of washing to do today and with having to wash all the bedding as well, it was pretty well all day, apart from when we were out. The overhead fan is on in the spare bedroom and it should be dry in a couple of days.

Museli Little Jo? No.
Corn flakes? No.
Toast? No.
Across the road? Yes.
So we had a McDonalds breakfast.

Back home to organise more washing and then off to town, Federation Square to more specific where there were some children's things happening. We checked out some tents decorated by blind people. I had an odd experience as I was standing watching Little Jo and someone came next to me and half slumped against me. He had eyepatches on and I suppose it was performance art. It was a strange experience.

We went inside out of the heat to an animation activity area for kids. It was related to Shaun Tan's book The Lost Thing and the movie which we watched. It was quite good. It took nearly an hour for Little Jo to colour in and cut out some items from the book and then under a camera using a computer a woman consulted with Little Jo about how the shapes should move and it was recorded, shown a big screen as it was being done and then the end result of something like 25 moved pictures made into a movie of a few seconds. It was great. What a pity we could not get a copy, although I did film it with not much success. I would have happily paid $10 for the animation on a memory stick.

As the animation was in production.

One the drawings for use in the either book or for the video.

I caught a couple of seconds of Little Jo's five second video.

On the big screen at Fed Square ABC for Kids was playing more Peppa Pig! We went down to Riverland at Federation Wharf on the bank of the Yarra River for lemonade and iced coffee and then up to Big W on the tram as Little Jo had complained that the toothbrush we have for her to use here was too small. We bought her a cheap electric toothbrush and a couple of things for craft.

Back home to wait for Sister and Bone Doctor, who both did different rides, Bone Doctor's a little longer. They met up at Mordialloc and arrived back here about 2pm looking the worse for wear. It had been hot and they rode most of the way into a north wind. While they recovered and showered, we put the tv on for Little Jo, and there was that damned Peppa Pig again. By the time I finally installed Flash on the tablet, it was time for Little Jo to leave and thank god, or it would have been more Peppa Pig on the tablet.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Electric Grandma

My grandmother taught us that we needed to be very careful with electricity. It was dangerous. She unintentionally demonstrated the danger to us by putting a knife into the toaster to remove some stuck bread. The knife flew across across the room and took out a chip of plaster from the wall.

She was very careful to always turn power points off before removing the plug and of course a switch should never be left on if nothing was plugged in.

"Why Grandma?"

"The electricity will leak out."

While logic tells me this is not so and for me it is probably more about aesthetics, I can't help but think at times of the electricity slowly oozing from the power point, invisibly charging everything around, including me, with unused electricity.

So should I visit you, don't think I am too odd if I behave strangely near the power points on your walls. I will only be turning unused points off.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


In the eleven years we have lived here, never have the tops of the balcony windows become wet. I knew we would get a nice soaking rain as last night there was an easterly wind blowing and easterlies always bring good rain. I also noticed some very busy ants. Fortunately I don't have arthritis. If I did, that would have been the trifecta of confirmation of approaching rain.

What an extraordinary thing it was to get our whole balcony windows wet. Ok, an eleven year record is not a great indicator of climate change, but still.

Let us hope that tomorrow's weather in the state of New South Wales will be not as bad as forecast and the fires will not flare up as they are expected to do. Many thought our then Victorian Premier Brumby was being alarmist in 2009 when he warned the next day would be calamitous. It proved to be so. Fingers crossed for NSW tomorrow.

Post seniors travel week

Any plans for today, I asked R. No? Let's go to Geelong for lunch. R has never used his two free train passes he receives each year, so here was an opportunity to use one. I checked the train times and there was an express with only a couple of stops at 11.00 and the country train from Warrnambool stopped at Geelong to pick up at 1.50, with only two stops between Geelong and Spencer Street. Perfect. We had to reserve seats on the country train for our return journey, so we did so at Southern Cross Station. We had time for coffee and a snack before boarding our train.

I hate this gambling advertising at So Cross Station. It makes the place look very cheap.

Our train was a VLocity, described as high speed multiple diesel unit, and was waiting at a platform I had never noticed before, 8S, the S for south. It was not too busy and we sat opposite some backward facing seats for extra legroom, club seats I think they are called. The seats are incredibly comfortable. I have been on a VLocity once before to Sunbury and back. They have a top speed of 160 km/h and I am sure we reached that speed at times on the way to Geelong. The only problem I have with them is that the motors are under the floor and are quite noisy, especially when under load, but the ride and air conditioning is quite good. A fellow traveller was ferreting around under a luggage area and found a power point to charge his phone. Three times the train had to slow for trackworks and once for bad track, I think by the way the train was moving around. Still, it reached Geelong only one minute late. It was a 52 minute trip with three stops along the way. (I assumed Vlocity trains had diesel engines connected to electric generators. Is this not the case? They are direct drive through a fluid transmission?)

Odd building just out of the station.

It appears the repairs to Melbourne's embarrassing large ferris wheel are complete. 

We kind of know Ryrie Street in Geelong and the waterfront, but little else. When Sister lived there, we usually just drove straight through, as we do now when going to The Bellarine. Malop Street proved to be quite interesting with lots of shops. I had no idea Geelong had so many fine, preserved and restored buildings. I won't bore you with them all but here are a few.

I have since read that a mayoral candidate wants to increase the building height limit in Geelong City. No, no and no. Nothing should take away from the existing buildings, least of all  glass towers.

We had some lunch and I bough a new pair of jeans in Myer. I was looking at them and I then said to R that I wasn't in the mood for clothes shopping. I seldom am. Then I saw a sign that said they were 25% off, so I decided I was in the mood for clothes shopping, tried them on and bought them.

We wandered around the shops for a bit. Had the weather been better, we would have gone down to the waterfront. 

On the way back to the station we walked through Johnstone Park, with what must surely be one of the best rotundas in the world. In the small but very nice park, lots of birds were darting around at speed. I don't know the name of the breed. They just flew around constantly without landing.

Here we are, back at the station. To the left out of shot are the bus parking bays.

The station waiting room had some interesting photos. There are no longer passenger trains from the regional city of Geelong to the regional city of Ballarat. It is now a coach service but I think the railway line is still operational for freight.

The opening of the railway line in 1857.

A tram waits in the forecourt. That would have saved us a walk. I suppose there are buses now but who could be bothered working out which one to catch. How good would it have been to just hop on the tram for a couple of stops.

Our journey back took much longer and was not so pleasant. We had been allocated seats facing backwards. The elderly couple opposite us never stopped talking. The seats were incredibly uncomfortable.  As it was a conventional train with the engine up the front it was quieter than the Vlocity we travelled on earlier. I later worked out the carriage must have been about thirty years old and it was showing its age. The N Class engine appeared to be unable to go much faster than 100 km/h and even with one less stop on the return journey, it took its full 64 minutes, that is 12 minutes longer than the down trip. We did have to stop at Little River, while another train passed by. I think it is double track, so that seemed odd. However, it arrived at So Cross on time.

We really do need some new country engines and carriages. In spite of the noise level, maybe more of these Vlocity trains could replace the old engines and carriages. Perhaps 1st class needs to be added to them, or is the present 'quiet carriage' adequate?

I sent an sms to Sister who replied and inspired this post's heading, and to Bone Doctor about the outing. Bone Doctor replied she was doing a sports medicine clinic in Geelong and could have met us for lunch. Later Sister said, you could have caught a train to Pakenham if you wanted a train ride. Where Mother lives? No thanks.

I think next year the Geelong train will follow a new route via the regional rail link project line. I am pleased to have have travelled over the old route before it closed.Well, not actually closing but used differently.

Monday, October 21, 2013


In the mid eighties I was mentioned by broadcaster Mary Adams on ABC Radio 3LO. In the 2000s Tony mentioned me on ABC Melbourne Radio. I was inadvertently photographed by a local newspaper and I appeared in the paper.

Now, I have made a one second appearance on ABC tv's Victorian news, standing on the steps of Southern Cross Station. An explanation will be written later in the week. In the meantime, feel free to bathe in my celebrity status.

It was the Hawke who done it

I never saw a man cry until I saw ex Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's quivering lip after he lost an election. Ex Prime Minister Bob Hawke crying on tv when talking about his daughter's drug addiction was remarkable. He cried again when China slaughtered its own people in Tiananmen Square.

My father never cried. That was how it was back then. How curious that suddenly men started crying, in public. Isn't crying kind of involuntary?

Mother told me the only time she saw Step Father cry was about a month before his death when Sister wrote to him a moving kind of thank you letter. He was angry that he was dying and angry that Sister wrote such a letter that made him cry, yet thorugh his tears, he knew that all the effort he had made for my brothers and sister over the years were appreciated.

A couple of days ago the fire chief in New South Wales broke up on air when talking about the fire fighters at his command.

I am not critical of blokes crying in public, but I just wonder how in years past they never cried. I can cry at the drop of a hat and often tear up when watching the news.

Men, who can understand them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Battle Royal

On the way home from the pub last night I asked Little Jo if her mother had educated her about the letter h, as per the text I had sent Sister a few weeks ago. Sister knew I was right, but she had done nothing about the poor child's ill education.

R was no help and not supportive, mouthing off common usage. I prefer correct usage.

Sister said most of her students in her posh religious school say haitch. Well Sister, you do teach in a mick school. You don't have to have your own child condemned by posh people because she says haitch.

Once home I searched online for letter spelling and found it easily enough. I did not know e is spelt e. But certainly h is spelt aitch. Another screaming match with Little Jo as she tried to tell me it was haitch.

Her accent, influenced by Australian voices and media, along with English media accents and Canadian and American accents is quite ok. Her pronunciation is quite good.

But I simply will not have her saying haitch. If R was reading this, he would say I am a stupid old man living in the past. I had my hands beaten with a cane for saying haitch. The child will learn by convincing and understanding the written word. Her spelling is not quite good enough yet.

Sunday Selctions

River will have her Sunday Selections up by now and Jackie often participates too. Here are a few of my random photos not used elsewhere.

Boring old Telstra workhole covers. 

Not as decorative as those found in New Zealand or Japan, but an improvement.

 Some animals tagged this very nice Prahran mural.The stocks for them, I say.

A city flower box. They are well maintained and the flowers are regularly changed.Watering lad is not unattractive.

Melbourne's Lord Mayor Doyle announced with great fanfare some sculptures to adorn the tram super stops in Swanston Street. So where are they? I think they are supposed to go where these bits of plywood sit at the bases of the poles. Note, car rego LM 000 parked at Crown this evening for a few hours, 16/10. Driver was patiently waiting for Lord Mayor to return from dinner or a function.

'What a pity my hotel burnt out. Now I will just have to put up some new apartments and make a mega profit. What else can I do?'

Drugs, lots of drugs for sale here. Each different pair of shoes indicates a type of drug available. Just say no to drugs, although at my age, take the drugs that are prescribed.

I think Mamma Vittoria's is famous. It opened in 1982.

A movable workers' lunch room? Lonsdale Street. I then caught a bus, which was a bit slower than the cable tram that used to run along Lonsdale Street.

No. 3/4 Queens Road. It is a lot easier to spot the supports for the globe than the supports for the globe at the National Gallery in Canberra.

What are these red flowering things? I have never noticed them before and I have seen three different lots this year.

Dual poles are all over Melbourne where trams run. New poles were put in where old ones were decaying and the tramway wires connected, but it seems electricity companies are not in a rush to move their wires or lights. I am speaking of years, not months.

I think this new pole was planted about February this year. It is already falling down, or maybe a car gave it a bump. A new pole has been erected.

Our rotating building notices are a mix of dire warnings and nice nudgements. It is quite a sad ass bird pictured and a most unlikely balcony invader.