Saturday, August 02, 2014

An Icy Friday

I recall Gosia saying that our winters did not look so cold, and compared to Europe, they are not. However yesterday was very cold as a series of storms or fronts crossed over us, bring snow to the nearby hills and freezing blasts of cold air, rain and hail to Melbourne.

Daniel took this terrific, terrific in the old sense of the word too,  video as a storm passed through his local area of Bentleigh. He has shared it on You Tube. It's only a minute or so.

Relationships, who needs them

Where'd it go?

My wise readers have convinced me that my post about family and friends' relationship problems was a little too frank and may have personal repercussions, so I have removed it. My apologies to those who have commented already as your comments now have no context.

If I know you by reading your blog and you commenting on mine, you can email me at ripppon @ for a copy.

Friday, August 01, 2014

A Quick Friday Extra

Apparently our Myki public transport card pay system is the envy of Sydney with its newer Opal Card system. I am not sure Melburnians would agree, but we have few problems with Myki personally.

Hong Kong's Octopus Card has been around for nearly two decades. The more recent London Oyster card was based on the Octopus Card. Why has it been so difficult for Australia, especially Melbourne and Sydney to come up with a system that works well and easily for everyone, and not disadvantage some? It seems Australia has to constantly re-invent the wheel before we ever do anything.

London is now proceeding with contactless technology, already in use on some buses. You can simply hold your credit card or phone to a reader and the fares will be cheaper than using an Oyster Card.

Meanwhile in Australia, the world is about to implode because banks are dropping the signing of credit card slips, forcing people to use a PIN. It must be a very long time since I have signed a credit card slip, and then it was because the EFTPOS was not working.

This piece first published in the Sydney Morning Herald makes a scathing attack on the New South Wales public transport service. I have linked to the Illawarra Mercury, hoping it is not a pay online newspaper.

Crushing cans

"Dad, why to you crush the cans before you put them in the rubbish", I asked.

"Because animals can put their snouts into the cans and the can might get stuck on their snout", he replied.

He was specifically referring to dog food cans, so the open end was flattened. But he also flattened out cans, like a beer can, in the middle. I was concerned for the welfare of animals, and so I picked up the habit. It is quite pointless with drink cans with a small hole to drink from, nevertheless, any can I put in the rubbish is squeezed together in the middle.  Open topped cans are squeezed shut at the top.

I noticed Tradie Brother does the same. He must have picked it up from Father.

Hippy Niece stayed overnight recently. She brought along half a bottle of some spiced spirit. I thought it would be too sweet for me to try, but R and she had a couple of drinks mixed with Coke. When I took the recycling down to the recycling room, I noticed she too had squeezed the cans in the middle.

Even though she was less than ten years old when he died, I can only conclude that my late Father's can squeezing legacy lives on to his granddaughter.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Funeral Processions

The Netherlands lost 200 people when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, compared to Australian's loss of 36. The Dutch have handled everything was such amazing dignity and for everyone, not just their own citizens. Our heart felt and continuing thanks go to the people of The Netherlands who show they care. This AFP photo shows a procession of hearses in Eindhoven.

It struck me though, what we don't see now in Australia are funeral processions, as I remember them from years ago. There would be the hearse containing the body of the deceased, followed by the mourning car with immediate family and then a trail of cars following with their headlights on as they journeyed from the church to cemetery.

I am mostly in the inner area of Melbourne, where there aren't open cemeteries, only old and fully used ones, so perhaps I don't see them, or is it that people no longer have a service in a church for the departed, but use the cemetery premises for a remembrance and eulogy, burial or incineration?

I recall once coming across some old Melbourne tramway regulations. While all vehicles must give way to trams, the exceptions were trams must give way to emergency vehicles, the Governor's and Governor General's cars and funeral processions. Interesting that Premiers and Prime Ministerial cars were not mentioned, the Queen's representatives clearly being more important.

So, has anyone seen a funeral procession of cars with their headlights on of late?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Eurocruise The Cost

I often complain about the cost of things and I am inclined to save a penny rather than a pound . R has to drag me kicking and screaming into any big expenditure, as he did for the holiday. We could have had larger room on the boat for more money. We could have added a balcony onto the room we had. We could have had both, a larger room and and a balcony for a lot more money, or we could have gone cheaper with just a high level port hole window. For me, there would have been no point taking the cruise if you did not have proper ceiling to floor windows to look out to the passing scenery. Not that we spent a lot of time in our cabin, but enough to appreciate what was passing by.

The price of the cruise and 'free airfare' was AU$20,000 for both of us. US$18,900, €13,800, £11,000, just for JayLa, HUF4,300,000. For the rest of the holiday accommodation, train travel etc, including spending money, about $5,000. (exchange rates were in late June)

That kind of expenditure on holiday was beyond anything I imagined and my life savings has gone, but I have no regrets.  It was terrific value. All the meals for the two weeks, as much as you could drink (I think I got my share), the tours with local guides were brilliant and so well organised. The personal attention from staff on the boat was without question. Admission fees were all paid for, as was bus/coach travel. The only thing that might be considered hard was to be in the right place at the right time for tours. There were always alternative arrangements for the less hale and hearty, and the highly active people who liked to cycle. 

Divided by two, total, $12,500 each. No regrets at all, good value for money and I recommend APT river cruises but do look carefully at what is a 'free' airline flight. It may take a long time to reach your destination.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Little Jo at 7

It is hard to believe seven years have passed since Little Jo was born. Some of you have been with me for the whole of her life. Again this year her birthday was celebrated over three weekends, one a kids party at home and two family celebrations. The final was a lunch at the Dick Whittington Hotel. The food is good, the dining area light and bright with views outside and the staff are brilliant.

After lunch R, myself, Sister, Little Jo and Hippy Niece drove to the St Kilda Botanical Gardens. Sister had never been there. Naturally mid winter, the roses were quite dormant. There is a very large number of them.

I will have to return to see what the Dolly Parton rose looks like when it is in bloom. Large blooms?

I don't know the purpose of the nets on the palms.

I thought this might have been a possum breeding box of sorts, but no, it is a piece of solid wood. Why?

The gardens border the suburb of Elwood. There are some terrific old apartment buildings.

And some not so terrific sixties style apartments. They would be quite spacious inside though, and how nice to have balcony views over the gardens.

A treasure hunt, and the note requests things to be left there and not spoil the hunt. It was after 3pm though. Surely the hunt would be over. I hope they didn't just leave the clues and not tidy up.

Here is another clue.

I've always thought this was an odd structure in the gardens.

And these even odder. What targets for a baseball bat.

Sweets for the kiddies. A few have fallen or been prised off.

Flower beds yet to reach their prime.

Once again Rainman is missing and the pond is empty. Go to here to see my photo of the original Rainman.

I don't believe palm trees belong in Melbourne but there are rather a lot of them.

These metal bands are controversial. They are placed there to prevent possums climbing into the trees and spreading a palm disease from one tree to another. Possum lovers are against them. Tree lovers are for them. Given the palms could die from spread of the disease and then we have no palm trees, I think the bands are a good idea. Oh, yes, I still don't believe palm trees belong in Melbourne.

St Kilda Botanical Garden aka Blessington Street Gardens is very beautiful, peaceful and well used by many diverse people.

Monday, July 28, 2014

First we nick at the corners of the mouth

(This was possibly meant for publication, or maybe not, but I have nothing else ready for today)

What an awful business in Ukraine where a number of Australians lost their lives, but heaps more people from the Netherlands lost their lives. What goes on Gaza and Israel is beyond the pale.

How terrific was the Commonwealth Games opening in Glasgow. Great Britain is such a civilised place. My nephew lived and worked in Glasgow for a couple years, well just out of Glasgow, in Paisley. I once asked asked him if he ever felt in danger, and there was one night when he was on his way home from work at a nightclub where he outcycled some young men who had bad intents.

R's sister's sister in law's husband grew up in Glasgow. He told us things that made our hair curl about Glasgow, including telling us about the Glasgow kiss. It is a head butt, if you don't know.

I was looking up something and I came across really disturbing stuff. While my head told me not to look further, I could not help myself. What is the Cheshire Smile, or the Glasgow Grin? 

And we can feel so sanctimonious about those damned foreigners and their fighting and violent ways. You can find out yourself about the Cheshire Smile aka the Glasgow Grin. The process is too horrible for me to describe.

Australia is no shrinking violet in gang violence either, especially in the early to mid twentieth century.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Sunday Outing

(This was a couple of weeks ago)

I am sorry to hear my European readers have been experiencing bad summer weather. We in Melbourne are mid winter and this winter is very cold for us, with the temperature at times during the day not rising above 10 degrees. We don't have the heating capacity, well economical heating, or the clothes to deal with temperatures like this for very long.

Two Sundays ago we visited Tradie Brother and Oldest Niece brought four month old Great Niece to see us at Tradie Brother's abode. Oldest Niece feels guilty among others with young babies, as she puts her baby to sleep at 8.30pm and she does not wake until 9.30am. Great Niece was looking around and absorbing things, but became a little grizzly after a bit. It is not normal for her, it was said. I've noticed four month old Great Niece already has a Face Book page, with lots of photos of herself, sometimes with her Mummy and sometimes with her Daddy.

Oldest Niece did not hang around for long as she to return home as her husband's grandmother was coming for lunch. Her husband called her, why aren't you here? They are already. I love Oldest Niece's attitude. Doesn't matter. Although when she was younger, she had no interest in her gay uncles, now, as I forecast to R, she has come into her own as she has become older. She makes an effort to see us and for us to see her daughter.

Tradie Brother is the nicest looking among we three brothers. I have written about this in the past and why he looks different, and Mother has confirmed it. However, his teeth were absolutely shocking, with no dental care ever. He spent a few thousand dollars on his teeth and they look really good and have much improved his appearance. He has a girlfriend who stays with him at times but they sleep separately. She is very nice.

Tradie Brother has an elderly female neighbour, whose husband died a while ago. TB and his neighbour used to have bells to ring to contact each other, but TB built a new and high fence and his old neighbour fell off the fence when she was chatting to him. He has cut a 2' (less than one metre square) hole in the fence and Joyce can call out to him anytime.

TB still has his tenant who lives in the attached granny flat at the back of his house, where Ex Sis in Law's parent's used to live before they died. He also has his daily companion, Cobber, his eighteen month old dog, who he loves dearly. TB, myself and R took Cobber out for a walk. We were throwing a ball for him at a nearby park, and then the rain started. We went back home and TB doesn't believe much in internal heating, and as he always sits outside. He does have a gas patio heater, and he turned it on without me asking. Bit different to Sister, who would have us freeze when we visit them on the Bellarine.

We chatted for a while with TB. To my amazement, and later I learnt to R's, TB mentioned the 'g' word. "What's this about a football commentator making a slur against gays?" It is the first time I have heard him use the word gay. From him being a homophobic teenager with an older gay brother to him saying that word some thirty years later is quite a milestone.

The overnight temperature within the Highrise never really drops below 16 degrees, but when I rose this morning, it was 15.7. Whether it is 16 or 15.7, the heating goes on regardless. It had been a clear and cold night, with an absolutely brilliant full moon. But as I said, at TB's place, the rain came. Nevertheless we journeyed on from TB's place to our ultimate destination.

I thought it would be quite curative for my slightly down state, but it wasn't. We stopped off at Red Rooster and ordered an Hawaiian meal each. What? No grilled chicken, chips, and deep fried battered banana and pineapple? The pineapple could be ordered as a side dish. The rain kept falling and the car kept fogging up, requiring bursts of the air conditioning to clear the glass.

We arrived at the Mornington terminus of the Mornington historical railway service. If you pick the right timing, a round trip is under an hour and it was our intention to take a trip. But the weather was just so awful, we did not do so. We will return on a nice day and take the trip. We waited for the arrival of the train and its departure.

What is wrong with the camera? Every photo was so dark. I had to trick the camera into taking brighter photos. Why is this tree in Australia and what purpose does its flat top serve?

There were quite a few people ready to board the train when it arrived.

K163 was built at Melbourne's Newport Railway Workshop in 1941 for light country railway lines. In 1968 it was declared unserviceable at the town of Ararat. In 1973 Frankston's Apex Club bought it. Mornington Railway bought it in 1984.

It is a terrific little engine.

In spite of the weather, the service was quite busy, with many children clutching their teddy bears. It must have been a special occasion. Weather doesn't bother children too much. The  train carriages are as I remember being used on country railway lines when I was a kid.

Doing the run around to get the engine back to the front, and now facing the right direction.

Clunk, it is hitched.

We'll be back to take a paid ride.