Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Shark Failed

I had a medical appointment. R thought he would fill in the time without my scintillating presence by ironing. My presence was so scintillating and he was so fixated on my witty words, he began to iron before I left. Well, that was his intention, but the Shark iron died.

Gawd, it is only a couple of years old and it has failed.

"Oi you", R respectfully asked his kind and sharing companion of 34 years, "How old is the iron?"

I had a vague recollection of posting about our new Shark iron and I knew I had not typed the word shark too often in my blog, so I should be able to find it easily.

It was a really good iron, until it stopped working. To both my and R's astonishment, the iron is nearly ten years old. I wrote about it here. What is this talking thing I wrote about at the time? Neither R nor myself can remember and what I wrote then does not make it clear. But I do recall an American accented voice saying, 'Welcome to your new Shark iron'.

A new iron is a priority. There were many things on our to do list today. We caught one bus and about six trams and walked a bit too. Our third last errand was more christmas cake brandy (yes, the first cake was a fail and the remains of the brandy evaporated). The second last was a $5 iced coffee, so refreshing. The last was the iron. The Shark came from chuck out cheap table at a large retailer ten years ago. Lo and behold, the one we have bought today also came from the same chuck out cheap table at the same retailer. We enquired of the 'stealing our jobs Irish staff person' about a box and a manual. No Sir, that is why it is reduced from $120 to $60. I had embarrassed myself by asking about the manual. Firstly I knew it would be online, and secondly, do you really need a manual to know how to operate an iron? Irish man just kept talking, as the Irish do.

The ironing board is cluttering our lounge/dining area. I don't like. But our new iron is sitting there, ready to be used. R plugged it it and a pretty blue illuminated display lit up, terralyne curtains to linen and everything in between. R, sometimes more pessimistic than myself, immediately said, 'once this display fails, how will I know how to get it to the right setting?'. 'Hon, you will by then know how many times you have to press the button to get it to the hot setting.'

Russell Hobbs used to be an upmarket brand. I think it is a bit devalued now.

Friday, December 06, 2013


as Qantas was called by some. It is crying poor and the git who runs it wants government help.

Excuse me, the government wasn't prepared to inject capital into Qantas, our country's national airline, and so privatised it so that it could raise capital on the private market. Another argument for privatisation was that it would be more efficient. Now Qantas wants to raise capital from the government.

No, sorry. Australians of my age used to take some pride in our national airline, as did the English with BOAC, the Dutch with KLM etc etc. That time has passed. I feel no more allegiance to Qantas than I do to Air Asia X.

How did it all go so wrong?

If your government mentions the word competition in any aspect of a government controlled authority, be afraid, be very afraid. They are code words for allowing its business mates get their hands on some quick and cheap profits to the detriment of the general population and the business name and how people feel about what was their own, the taxpayers, company.

A Cycling Song

I cringe when I recall that I really liked this song when I was a teen. I had never seen the film clip until I came across this clip and it is a 'spot the Melbourne location' treat. I can easily see Marine Parade, Beaconsfield Parade, King Street Bridge, Collins Street and Queen Victoria Gardens. So, turn your speakers down and have a watch.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Man Made

Busy busy. Can't even think of a good title. I must have posted a couple of these buildings before and already had this post. 

Some random buildings, this one at Docklands, an area no one really likes, myself included.

I thought I had posted this building in Kingsway. Oh well, here it is again. The old house is shown great respect, not.

I'm sure this one has been posted. We went inside last week and the one next door. Ho hum. First class in house gyms though.

More Docklands.

When a little Docklands is never enough.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


In the building's recycling room, I grabbed two tennis racket back packs that looked un-used and three sturdy document containers, with no thought as to what I would do with them. Got it, they can contain these yellowing old newspapers and magazines, and fold out maps I have kept from over the years. The newspaper lift out called Bytes was published in the mid or late nineties and is of course about computers. Nearly two decades later, it is an amusing read. So what is wrong with floppy disks?

I did have a collection of over ten year's worth of the annual Ikea and Freedom catalogues, but they went into the recycling. What was in a ten year old Ikea catalogue was not so different to the current one. I tried to keep some logic about what went into each box, but it was generally a fail. Anyway, much neater and tidier.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Outer Circle 3

My third walk of the old Outer Circle Railway Line linear park began at East Camberwell Station. I have already walked to East Camberwell from Fairfield. Check back on the first post for the map.

The section from East Camberwell to Ashburton was connected to the City to Box Hill line, now the Belgrave and Lilydale lines, and electrified in 1924. Some sections were single track but it is now dual track until just before Ashburton. I caught the train to East Camberwell and set off on a pretty warm day.

The walkway from the station seems to pass through a private development. More likely public access was maintained when a private development went ahead on public land. It may be units for retired folk.

To the right of the walkway was this gazebo in a locked private garden.

To use railway parlance, the down Alamein train has just passed over the top of the up line. There is a good bit of over and under here as lines sort themselves out to head in different directions.

I would guess it was about here where the Outer Circle Line was disconnected so many decades ago. The alignment and lie of the land just seem right, but I have no other evidence apart from vague maps.

The first station is Riversdale and I am about to cross Prospect Hill Road.

Closer view of the station.

The houses are quite substantial. This is known as a Californian Bungalow, sometimes abbreviated to Cow Bung. It is fairly original looking condition.

This is one of about four signal boxes around Melbourne that still have operators because trams cross the railway line and apparently in this modern computerised age, a train and and tram can't intersect without human interference. While they are quite high tech, it appears that some of the equipment is original. The operator still throws levers but they are all electric now. I crossed Riversdale Road to the eastern side of the line but what appeared to be a council depot blocked my path, so I crossed back to the western side. I believe a spur line used to run off into the council depot.

When there is an outward curve on a platform, as a train arrives, the shutter rises to give the train driver a cctv view of people boarding and alighting from the train. We don't have guards on Melbourne trains to signal to the driver that all is well to start.

Frog Hollow, a decent sized park.

The kind of house and garden only money can buy.

And another.

These two are a bit odd. Real Tudor, you know!

The Outer Circle linear park is part of the Anniversary Trail. The anniversary of what?

Willison Station, known as Golf Links in its early days.

I am now at Hartwell Station. I took a wrong guess and veered away from the line after Hartwell Station, originally called Hartwell Hill.

I took a break from the sun and had some nibbles and water in Toorak Road. I knew what was coming, a hill. Toorak Road is not really the most restful places, but there was shade. Local gay male readers of a certain age may recognise the Hartwell Railway Bridge very well.

Yes, a hill to climb. It was not that steep but I am from Melbourne, not Sydney. I don't have the right leg muscles for hills.

'Tis a very odd thing that I had forgotten where the bridge over the railway line was after Burwood Station. I thought it was closer and I would be able to get a decent photo. It is too hot to go back. I had walked on a path to your left along the railway line. Burwood Station was formerly known as Hartwell.

It is certainly a decent cutting.

The up train from Alamein is approaching. Note the signals on the left. We lived adjacent to them.

Our old house in Prosper Parade. It did not have a second storey when we lived in it and nor a double driveway. The area was known as Burwood but after we left, the suburb changed its name to Glen Iris. I reckon that would have added $10,000 to the price. We bought the house from the original owner, a widow, who assisted, or maybe hindered her husband with the design. I would describe the exterior as faux grand. Note the Jacaranda tree to the right. It will be in full bloom now. The falling leaves and the falling blooms drove us crazy, but the pleasure of seeing it in bloom compensated.

We lived here from about 1988 to 1991. We spent a bomb on renovations, with knocking down solid brick walls and all that is involved. Mortgage interest rates were 17.5%. Most of the garden has been changed but there are still some familiar plants. I am pleased to notice that the three years I spent eradicating oxalis was successful. A dab of liquid glyphosate with an artists paint brush on each leaf eventually killed the tiny bulbs that spread madly if they are disturbed by a garden fork.

I wonder if the current owners know they have to poke wire into the small  porch roof drain pipes to keep them clear and prevent flooding. I cannot remember if this Japanese Maple was here when we were or not. Fed up with the expense and time needed to maintain a large house, we sold and moved to a unit, mortgage free, although that did not last long.

There is the railway signal, right across the road from our house. The line soon becomes single track and trains would sit at this signal and wait for the preceding train to clear the single line. I learnt that a red over red signal means stop and wait until a green over red signal appeared. 

There wasn't a made path when we lived here, just a track. R used to park his car in the shade of the trees. His car was vandalised one night. Hard to believe in such an area.

The nearby Summerhill Park, where we often walked our two dogs.

There were certainly no lorikeets around back then.

Before Ashburton Station is a siding, where trains were stored overnight until they became vandalised way too often. (originally called Norwood)

The two tracks down to one.

With one more station on the line, Alamein, the single line passes under High Street.

Off peak the Alamein train operates as a shuttle to Camberwell Station where you change to a city service with a waiting time of a minute or two. I remember the convolutions well from when we used to catch the train. The shuttle train I caught back to Camberwell was late, and so I missed the city connection and had to wait 12 minutes for the next. Here is another of the shutter blinds covering up cctv screens. I don't know that the signals are all about.

It might be too far for me to walk in one hit, but the next section I will walk is from Ashburton to Hughesdale.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Badgerys Creek

It makes me feel very old when I hear of plans for an airport at Badgerys Creek in our state of New South Wales. Once again it is on the agenda. It is alternative for planes that now land at Sydney airport which is apparently overcrowded by too many flights. I have heard about an airport being built at Badgerys Creek for decades and nothing ever happens.

I don't know what an airport costs to build, but it would cost a lot of money. The money might be better spent on a train.

If high speed rail was built from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra, there would be no need for a second Sydney airport.  From Melbourne, the first leg could be to Melbourne Airport, and then there would be no need for expansion of the freeway to the airport. It could be incorporated into the never to be built Footscray to South Yarra underground train line.

Flying from airports is a miserable experience. Catching a train is a wonderful experience.

More Myki Madness

Remember when R went to Flinders Street Station to renew his soon to expire Myki card? In brief, he had not touched off on the tram because you don't have to, but to renew your card, you have to touch off. After queuing to find this out, staff escorted him through station gates so that he was touched off and he joined a queue to again attempt to renew his card. All went well until a couple of seconds after he left the the ticket window and realised that the ticket window person had given him a full fare Myki card, not a Seniors card. He went back, pushed his way to the front of the queue and finally had the correct card. To say he was seriously pissed orf, is an understatement.

Problems over, you may very well think. Nope. He went to top his Myki online and it would not accept a top up. He called the Myki call centre. After a decent wait in a phone queue, the person on the phone told him he had two Myki cards registered. The old one and the one that was incorrectly issued but not his current one. R is now table thumping angry. It will take up to six working days for the error to be corrected. In the meantime he topped up his card at a machine at a tram stop.

R is a responsible person and made sure Myki had his email address so that he was notified when it was going to expire. Not everyone has an email address or is as responsible as R. I have heard that if you Myki does expire before you do anything about it, it takes ten days for a new card to be issued.

It is not the technology of Myki that is the problem. It is the humans behind the system.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Just another Sunday

It is many months since I have spoken to our friend who lives at the base of Mount Elephant in Victoria's western district. He is approaching eighty and suffering from life style induced health issues. Welcome to my world.

Australian born, he lived for many years in London until Australians were no longer welcome and he was chucked out. He spent some time in Amsterdam and then returned to Australia. He was not connected with his family but he was quite ok when I met him through work related circumstances. He lived in suburban Armadale then. He retired with some money and moved to the small country town as described above. The house he bought was once a bakery. He turned it into a plant nursery which was almost successful financially, until his grand visions petered out. Just because you can identify 100 English roses and name all the best English gardens does not mean you are a good business person.

We used to visit him, but his house was becoming so run down and he run down too, it became too hard for us. The last time we visited we were served a wonderful meal, at about 10.45pm. I was so drunk, being used to have pre dinner drinks from six until a meal is served. R was not much better. Our friend functions on alcohol. He drinks wine from about midday until he goes to bed, yet it is very measured drinking and he functions, albeit very slowly as the day goes on.

I called him this morning and there was no answer. I thought the worst. But another try this afternoon got results. He is fine and sounds quite well with no serious issues apart from nearly dead legs. He has two old hand me down electric wheelchairs and is about to get a brand new one from State social services.

He is on a Federal Home Care Package and does quite well from it.

I was not looking forward to today. I am not much of one for seafood, but somehow we were at Lobster Cave in Beaurmaris, with five other people. I so did not want to be there. I needed some time on my own. R then asked if we could go to DFO in Moorabin. I said yes, but I felt unwell after a huge lunch. It was kind of good in that we cleaned up some christmas things. But the weather was hot and the water cooling air con at DFO was inadequate. I spend a good bit of time sitting on the 'husband while wife is shopping' seats.

We had been out to dinner the night before too, after I worked all day. R made a magnanimous gesture and called the ex Brother Friends who are back in Australia for a few months before returning to Thailand. If you remember, R had a falling out with them. They are now apparently our friends again and they were at dinner. Blokes, who can understand them. Our Malaysian friend Manny is in town and he was there for dinner last night and today he sent a text to join him for dinner at Crown on Wednesday night. Next Saturday, Little Jo may visit. Next Sunday is ABI Brother's birthday lunch.

I am sorry if you are lonely and have no one, but the thought of it rather appeals to me at the moment.

Sunday Seclections Nov 13

Random photos to share. River always has her Sunday Selections. Jackie does sometimes. Kath used to, but she has gone missing, as has billions of dollars from secret Swiss bank accounts. There may or may not be a connection. Forward all communication to Kath via the French Riviera.

A few photos from Mother's garden. She likes potted colour.

When I prune this rose, I am inclined to use bad words as it is very thorny. I thought it was an old wild rose, but I have seen them around in public spaces this year, so I guess it isn't 'wild'.

I don't recall Mother ever complaining that anyone stole her flowers in pots along the front fence. The passing youf certainly do damage to the fence though and once knocked down a brand new letter box.

The house is badly in need of maintenance but there  is reluctance among any of us to do anything much as it is unlikely Mother will be there for many more years and the house will probably be knocked down once it is sold.

The gusher wasn't stopping cars proceeding. One stopped under the jet for a quick car wash. The  tram I was waiting for arrived, having just driven through the the gusher with windows open. It was awash.

Success! Coffee chain Gloria Jeans, with links to the crank religious mob Hillsong, has closed in Malvern.

Vertical lines, horizontal lines, symmetry. Boring for some, but it is my preference.


The recipe said to cook the christmas cake for 2 1/2 hours. I checked it at about 1 hour 45 mins and it was burnt and dry. We thought we might cut the burnt top off and ice it, but no. It is too dry. Still, we are eating it. We still have enough fruit left to make another, the only real extra expense being another 250g of butter and four eggs. The fruit is soaking as I speak, not in brandy as last time but whiskey and more of it to keep the cake moist.

The suburbs begin to awake from their restorative slumber as the dawn rituals begin

but for us it is time for our own ritual, to close the blinds against the blindingly bright sun.

At the other end of the day the west wing of the apartment, my ensuited bedroom, is illuminated by the sun's dying rays.