Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christmas Cake

I have usually made our christmas cake(s) in the past. I am over it. R, with more spare time than I have is making it this year, with some suggestions from me. I know a bit about making cakes. I used to do it. R has bought brandy for the cake.

In years past I recall that the brandy bought for the christmas cake was drunk before the christmas cake was made and we had to buy another bottle. Tomorrow we are jointly making the cake. R has decided it will be a no icing cake. Huh, icing is the hard part, with marzipan and royal icing. Making the cake takes some time, but is quite easy.

I'll just have the one brandy before bed. There will be plenty left for the cake. Oh dear, such a sense of deja vu.

On this week

Time, time. There is never enough of it. I have enough time to put up a couple of photos I saved from and recommend you read Victor's piece of his memory of the shocking event of fifty years ago. I may or may not remember the front page of The Sun. I was six and I really don't know. What a terrible thing it must have been to be covered in your husband's blood and brains and trying to hold intact what remained inside his head. There is no doubt Jacqueline Kennedy was glamorous, but was she particularly good looking?

I am often given to pondering what the first white people must have thought of the weird creatures in Australia when they first arrived on our shores. I can recall reading a description of a platypus written by an incredulous author. As our waterways become cleaner, platypus are being found close to the middle of our large cities. As we voraciously eat into the land surrounding out cities, so too are kangaroos eating into ours. They may not be bounding along Bourke Street, but they have been seen in Victoria Parade.

Friday, November 22, 2013

There is nothing wrong with a banjo or bagpipes

I like banjo jokes, such as 'What is the difference between an onion and a banjo?' 'You don't cry when you cut up a banjo'.

What is wrong with banjos anyway? I know full well what is wrong with bagpipes. They play something that approximates music, almost, vaguely.

This joke amused me all day. 'What is the difference between a trampoline and Scottish bagpipes?' 'You take off your shoes when you jump on a trampoline'.

Ok, you aren't laughing. Back to the banjo then? No? How about a lawyer joke then?

What does a lawyer get when you give him Viagra?

It is 11pm. You expect a quality post at this hour?

You're not in Rio now Dorothy

One windy Sunday accompanied by localised but only occasional showers of rain we headed west on the Calder Freeway towards our destination of Macedon. As we approached it became clear that there is Macedon and Mount Macedon and they are very different places. We decided to see Mount Macedon first and slowly ascended the steep and winding road past the most glorious houses with even more glorious gardens. The lucky country is very lucky for some.

Ok, so it isn't Christ the Redeemer looking over Rio, but it is quite impressive. We are nearly 1000 metres above sea level and it is noticeably cooler than down on the southern plains.

The rhododendrons were at their peak and looked wonderful.

The 21 metre tall cross is a memorial to those who died in the Great War and WWII. The last lines on this old plaque say, "Death cannot rob them of their glory, nor time efface the memory of their gallant deeds". I think it should say, "Thanks English Army Commanders, for sending our Australian lads to a futile but certain death".

The white area in the far distance is Melbourne, about one hour's drive away.

The cross was privately built in 1935 but the surfaces deteriorated significantly over the subsequent decades. After a few lightening strikes and the 1983 fire, it was damaged beyond redemption. In 1995 it was rebuilt with funds generously donated by property developers the Grollo brothers. That is what philanthropy should be about, not providing services for sick kiddies that should be funded from taxes.

A couple and their pooch depart the cross along what could nearly be described as a rhododendron walk. Good, they kept getting in the way of my lens.

Mount Macedon was very severely affected by the 1983 bush fires. There is evidence of more recent fires here, which was probably protective burning by authorities to reduce fire fuel loads. Along with the cross being burnt in 1983, the public gardens were also ruined.

It is a short walk back to the carpark. There is a dining venue adjacent to the carpark and can be seen in the left of this photo. Oh dear, the reviews aren't good.

Poking up through the trees is what I would guess to be some Telstra infrastructure.

R, please take some photos from the car as we drive back down to the township of Macedon from Mount Macedon. He did.

Mount Macedon township was established by the rich and elite in the 1800s. It was a much more pleasant place to endure the summer months of heat, wind and dust.

The 1983 fire did not show any respect to the rich and and elite, with many grand century old homes destroyed and even more English style gardens and rare plant specimens engulfed in the raging fires.

We could almost be in a well tended English village.

The township of Macedon, not Mount Macedon, is pretty ordinary. The local bakery was ok, but oh the coffee. It was vile. I'd rather drink Pablo instant caterers' blend.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mother's last train trip

This is compiled from what I recall Mother telling me at the time and what Mother recently told me.

Many people in Pakenham did it and Mother was no exception. The good folk of Pakenham used to catch the country train from town to Pakenham even though the train was pick up only at Pakenham. The reason was that it was faster, being an express train, quieter, there was a conductor on board and it was less likely that there would be rowdy youth on the train.

At various times there was a clamp down on Pakenham people who had a suburban train service but used the country service. Mother of course, took no notice of any clamp down. Into her sixties she was still a user of buses, trams and trains.

Now she has the luxury of a bus going past her house that can take her in two directions, most importantly to the local shops, but she says she is past using public transport.

The last time she caught a train was from Flinders Street Station. She waited at the usual country train  platform for the train that was due about 5.30. She waited a good while. She thought it was late. It did eventually arrive. After Dandenong Station the conductor checked her suburban train ticket and informed her that there had been a timetable change and the next stop would be Warragul, a good half hour on from Pakenham.

Mother was loaded with shopping bags as well as her own handbags, plural. She put on a sob story to the conductor that her husband would kill her if he had to drive to Warragul to pick her up from the station. Whether the train was going to stop anyway or not I don't know, but the conductor indicated to Mother that it was making a special stop just for her at Pakenham and she needed to be ready to jump off really quickly as the train would only stop for a second or two. Mother was in panic mode and jumped out of the train so quickly she half fell onto the platform on top of her parcels.

She then carted her parcels to the phone box to ring the home phone for Step Father to pick her up from the station. She just rang the home phone and someone would come to pick her up. No need to pay for the call.

My mind boggles if she had gone on to Warragul and had to find change to make a phone call to Step Father to collect her. I am sure she would have called on the kindness of strangers to help her. Mother is rather good at that.

So there you go. That was Mother's last train trip, and apart from going on a couple of trams under our care when she expressed an interest in seeing Docklands one Father's Day, it was her last public transport experience.

I think there is only one more Mother's last posts to go. It was the last time she walked to the local shops and  it is not particularly amusing or pretty.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If I close my eyes, I won't see it

I can't remember the flat number of R's flat in Elwood in about 1980. I think there were 25 in the block but numbered to flat 26. You guessed it. Just like our motel in Cooma, there was no flat 13. I think nowadays such suspicious nonsense has disappeared. Maybe it hasn't. I can imagine the comments if you bought a flat 13 now, or lived at number 13 in a street. There is not an apartment 13 in our building, but that is because there is a service area where apartment 13 would be.

But what to make of this, the external display for one of our lifts?

When we first moved here none of the lifts externally or internally displayed Floor 4. Now after 11 years, 13 for the building, all but one display shows Floor 4. Why is it so?

Our building was primarily marketed to Asian investors and Asian owner occupiers and a good percentage of buyers of apartments in the building were of Asian heritage, and for Chinese and maybe other Asian races, four is an unlucky number, like 13 is to many Anglo people.

So, initially none of the lifts displayed the fourth floor and also there are no four apartments in the building. Most floors are configured like this, apartment 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7.

I wonder how widespread this practice is?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


"Sister", I asked, "how come Grandmother and Mother could and can write copperplate script, with correct grammar, correct spelling, nicely constructed sentences and something that is agreeable to read when they had minimal education? They certainly weren't read to as children. Do you have an answer Sister?"

"Crowded curriculum, Brother. We don't have the time."

What would Sister know. She teaches 16/17 year old boys who are generally quite privileged and attending a posh private school. I am scratching my brain now. Where else did Sister work? She worked for the advertising company, Monahan Dayman and Adams, the Adams being the Phillip Adams on Radio National. She washed dishes in a Chinese restaurant. She worked at a bank. I remember this because she got us very cheap travel insurance once when we went overseas. But as far as I can recall, she has only worked at the same school, teaching the same subjects to the same aged boys for what must be twenty years.

Given how many ex school teacher readers I have, I should probably keep my gob shut, but at times I do wish Sister did not treat her family like they are teenage school children. I am afraid it is a trait of school teachers.

This was supposed to be about education, instead it has turned into the personal. R is always p'd off with Sister for various reasons. At times he has a right to be p'd off with off with her.  I am a little more forgiving. I called her early in the week to discuss family matters and Bone Doctor answered. We had a chat and I then asked if Sister was available. She is putting Little Jo to bed and reading her a story. Then, it wasn't,  is it ok if she calls you back tomorrow night, but she will call you back tomorrow night.

Oh, ok.

She did call back the next night, but had BD had said is it ok? instead of she will, well, it would have made all the difference. Words, they are so very important.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Metro Muddles

You would think that a shuttle train that travels for only six stations could stay on time. Metro says no.

I was at Ashburton Station, slowly ambling to the platform, stopping in the middle of the tracks to take a photo when the pedestrian alarm sounded and shortly after the gates closed.

But this is not right. It is 1.14 and the train is not due until 1.23. Maybe I made a mistake with the times. We arrived at Camberwell Station where we had to transfer to another train to complete the journey. In my memory from when we used to sometimes catch the train from Burwood Station, it should only be a minute or two to wait. The announcement boomed out, next Flinders Street train in 12 minutes. Wtf is going on?

In the meantime another train from Alamein pulled in and disgorged its passengers, meaning a double load of Alamein line passengers to transfer to the Flinders Street train.

Once home, I checked the timetable and sure enough, the train I caught was late and had missed the connection to the city bound train and we had to wait for next one. Passengers were now twenty minutes later than they should have been.

Why on earth was a shuttle train running late in the middle of the day, Metro? Like why Sunday was there half an hour plus gap in the service at Port Melbourne with the 109 tram, Yarra Trams. And why Yarra Trams was the 9.42 67 tram at Elsternwick Station running so late on Friday night?

I used to catch the 69 tram (no sniggers please) from Balaclava to work, but then it was extended to the city and became route 16 and it became too unreliable. That was supposed to be an improvement to the service. I think it was a cost cutting measure.  Just as well I have a car and I don't have to depend on public transport to get to work. I now only use public transport in my leisure time.

If this sort of rubbish happened in Japan, you would see the transport minister bowing very deeply on the tv news and giving most humble apologies.

Ownership of Harrods

R doesn't break me up too often, but he did as we were perusing fine food in David Jones. We looked at all the jams, teas, coffees, marmalades, mustards, Indian pastes and English relishes. There is even an area for American food.

Nearly everything we looked at seemed to be priced at $14. It is not a place to do your daily shopping. Nevertheless, it was a very busy place.

We were weighing up the prices of Fortnum and Masons fine peel cut breakfast marmalade as against Harrods breakfast marmalade.

We bought neither, but R clearly expressed his opinion. "I don't think I want the Arab jam". Ok, you probably had to be there at the time but it was funny. R is in a period of low moods so it was nice to have a bit of a laugh.

Walking the Outer Circle Day 2

The weather was cooler this day. I had a jacket with me but I became quite warm while walking. I travelled on the 48 tram to East Kew where my last walk ended. A cute little house hemmed in by large neighbours. Maybe it is a cafe. Not even google will tell me what kullmif is. (If I spelt it correctly, it would help. Kuul Mif is a designer furniture outlet)

The old Kew Post Office has a very well patronised and trendy cafe. Ah, it is called QPO. Clever.

Well here is the old Outer Circle railway bridge at East Kew. Refer back to my first post for the Outer Circle Railway Line map.

Clearly the tunnel underneath has been pretty well filled in. I expect the Kew East Station was here where the land is wide.

Later edit: This was the site of the goods yard.

Along the way a bit some bare earth showed bluestone

It's a long way between stations. I am a very expensive area now. The linear park is beautifully maintained in the City of Boroondara and well used too by cyclists and an extraordinary number of mothers pushing children in expensive looking prams. Gosh, I should have have dressed up a bit. Quite a few daddies were with children too, no doubt having the extra day off on the eve of the Melbourne Cup.

I am roughly at the location of Deepdene Station, as this signboard tells me. I had just crossed the mighty Burke Road, one of Melbourne's most horrible roads. The Deepdene Dasher ran from here to Ashburton, later truncated to Riversdale when the electric train began to run from the city line at Camberwell to Alamein. I don't know why it was called a Dasher.I expect it went at a quite leisurely pace.

A little nod of the head to the train line with this railway looking fence.

I crossed over the roadway of Whitehorse Road, although there was clearly a railway bridge there, the tunnel had been filled in. From a distance I thought this might be infrastructure but no, it is a small amphitheatre.

Later edit: This was the site of Deepdene Station.

I completely missed the site of Roystead Station. I am very clearly now walking in a railway cutting.

Under Barnsbury Road I go. I've never heard of it.

And under Mont Albert Road. Not even a bit of soot to be seen in the tunnel.

Later edit: Roystead Station was just south of this tunnel.

The site of Shenley Station.

The cutting bank is not as steep here and wider. It may be where the Shenley station platform was.

Later edit: I believe this is incorrect and Shenley Station is now where there is a tennis court.

The Canterbury Road bridge with quite a steep rise out of the tunnel.

I don't know if you will be able to read this but essentially it says that where the line crossed Canterbury Road the intention was to just have a level crossing where cars on the road stop to let the train past, but the authorities insisted a tunnel was built, adding a lot to the construction cost but who cares about a few £s a century later, when we still have many level crossings in greater Melbourne and it takes millions of $s to rectify.

The reservation is very wide here as the line split with a branch going off to connect to the Box Hill line and straight ahead to Alamein Station.

Is this some kind of railway power substation? It look like it. Is it still operational?

I have only put this shot up because I like the 'coolie hat' lampshade. This appears to be operational equipment. It wouldn't surprise me that this could do everything that could be done inside the building in days past, but I don't know much about matters of the electric.

The final station for today is the operational East Camberwell Station where I caught the train back to town. My goodness, is the track rough out this way. The train was bucking and swaying around marvellously. When looking down at the track, I noted that about every third sleeper was concrete, with the rest being timber in various stages of decay.

My next walk will be along the still operational part of the Outer Circle line, from East Camberwell to Alamein. Well, depending on my feet, maybe just Ashburton.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mash Up

I am very confused about this boat people business. Stop the boats, was the cry from the Abbott opposition. Now he is in power, the boats are stopping, as they do at this time of the year every year as the monsoons approach northern Australia.

But I suspect his real policy about the boats, and the policy is now in action, is stop the people hearing about the boats.

And then there was buying boats in Indonesia, so that people who transport those who want to claim refugee status in Australia to our shores, would not have access to boats. How many useless boats have we bought? Will they show on the balance sheet as an asset of almost worthless value? Will they be burnt? Will the Abbott government destroy Australia's assets, the bought boats?

Instead of buying boats from Indonesia, we are giving boats to Sri Lanka. We are bribing them. You stop the prospective refugees leaving Sri Lankan shores and you can have the old big boats we no longer want.

Confusing. I am all at sea. To corrupt a classic line, there is nothing quite as messy as boats.

One does have a good laugh about spying though. Apparently we spy on Indonesia. Who would have thought. In a state of high moral indignation, one of the most corrupt countries in the world lets its displeasure be known by not stopping boats. At least Indonesia doesn't spy on Australia. Yeah, right.

Change subject. I took no exercise today. I like walking but I did not walk far today. But around the world and especially in Melbourne, people were very active. As an aside, hats off to those who participated in the rally for action on Climate Change. Apparently our ex Prime Minister Howard is very doubtful about climate change. Howard is a clever man, but I think I would rather take notice of what climate scientists tell me. Unlike Howard, a friend of big business, climate scientists look at the science of climate change. Cheers to all who participated in climate change rallies around Australia today.

I took no exercise today. I walk at times for exercise but I am a pretty lazy person. 2,500 people ran up the stairs of our tallest building, the 88 storey Eureka building. Good on them. I think the winner did it in ten minutes.

14,000 runners passed The Highrise today, as they participated in the City to Sea run.

10,000 ran in the Run Geelong race today.

Our friend is in Penang for a week or so. He is in the company of a friend from Melbourne and some Malaysian friends, and today was the Penang Marathon race where 43,000 participants ran including at least two Melbourne guys, along the coast over the bridge to the mainland and back again and then back along the coast.

Jeez, I better do some exercise. Tomorrow. Well I am going to walk a few kilometres tomorrow, as I continue my Outer Circle Railway line walk, the third stage. The second stage will be online tomorrow morning.

Sunday Selections

River and Jackie both participate in Sunday Selections, and I have enough random photos to put one together today.

A large sign had been erected on the grass of this building. I thought, gee it is big. I hope it is well secured. It wasn't and along came a big wind and blew it down. As it was the weekend and no management in the building, I called the State Emergency Service. They arrived within half an hour and secured the sign and cut holes in it to let the wind pass through, haha. A smaller sign has now been erected and better angled to the prevailing wind.

Only once before have I seen the people using the spa in the building opposite. I am not sure I would want to use it with so many eyes peering down.

We were in David Jones Food Hall. It was quite busy. Oysters and champers for the Anglos. Noodles for the Asians.

Yours for a mere $650. I am sure it would lovely when lit and the train was circling around.

The lift has only been refurbished and the handle mount for lift attendant operation is still there. I only know of one building in town that has a lift operator now. If you know of any please mention it in the comments.

We met four friends for a meal of Korean Fusion. I wasn't sure if I would like fusions, but I was prepared to give them a try. We had a fantastic meal of delicious food and first class service at reasonably cheap prices. I highly recommend The More The Better. This is the old Elsternwick Post Office.

Next door is a building that quite fascinates me, the Caulfield City Rifle Club. Well not so much the building, just the name.

The name made me suspect the ethnic origin of the business owner, or the signwriter. The text at the bottom confirmed my suspicions. Shorten JEAN HEM only 15 minutes service.

A bit of cuteism at the restaurant till.

Now for a double rant. It was an eclectic mix of people on the tram on the way home. R asked as we alighted, why were there so many crazies on the tram. Ah, look in the sky, a full moon. The tram was nearly ten minutes late, at 9.40 at night. How can that be? The driver just ambled along and I got my phone out to check our speed. He once hit 40 km/h, for about a second. Otherwise it was between 20 and 30. Pathetic.

And I haven't finished with trams yet. That was Friday night. Today, Saturday, we were having coffee at Beacon Cover and the cruise ship Radiance of the Seas was docked at Station Pier. A tram had just departed the terminus as we arrived in the car and in the half hour we were there eating a muffin and drinking our coffee, there was not one tram. People, including many from the cruise ship clutching their shiny new Myki cards, milled around the live timetable indicator trying to make some sense of what was happening. I tried with both Tram Hunter and Tram Tracker and I could not make any sense. Three trams travelling together, the first disappeared, then nothing was moving. There still wasn't one when we left and felt Melbourne has given a very bad first impression to the cruise liner passengers, who were no doubt wishing they had booked a tour on one of the very many coaches that were arriving and departing.