Saturday, June 13, 2015

Melbourne from way above

No, I haven't been on the roof of the Highrise with a camera. This image was taken by astronaut Scott Kelly in the International Space Station and tweeted by him. I hope it is large enough for you to make out after clicking on it. If you are unfamiliar with Melbourne, you might be interested in some detail. Bottom right is Port Phillip Bay, apparently so I have just leant, now just Port Phillip. The dominant pier is Station Pier where cruise ships and the Spirit of Tasmania ferry berth. Station Pier is in Port Melbourne and along the coast are the suburbs of Albert Park, Middle Park, St Kilda and part of Elwood. The large area of sandy beach is next to the visible and famous St Kilda Pier with its marina and breakwaters which are home to Fairy Penguins.

Out of shot is the mouth of the Yarra River, dredged deep enough for the largest ships to enter the river to just past where the winding Maribyrnong River enters the Yarra. This is where ships are unloaded and sometimes even get loaded. The wider water area upstream is Docklands with its many highrise office and apartment buildings.

Just to the top of the city the Exhibition Buildings are visible in parkland. The green to the right, Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens and the oval of the Melbourne Cricket Ground with 'not round ground' below that, used for rugby and soccer I think. Less clear and kind of between them is where the Australian Tennis Open is played. Below that and across the Yarra is the Royal Botanic Gardens and government house, the home of our State Governor, mostly a ceremonial role but he/she does sign important documents. If the Governor is 'at home', his flag flies. If it is not flying, he is away.

Along the left  of the river are the suburbs of Spotswood and Yarraville and near the bend in the river can be seen Flemington Racecourse, home of the horse racing Melbourne Cup and the Royal Melbourne Show. Royal Park containing Melbourne Zoo is up near the top to the left with Moonee Valley Racecourse to the very left at the top. Gee we have a lot of 'Royal' things but we have heaps more Victoria things, after Queen Victoria.

The body of water in the centre to the right is Albert Park Lake within its parkland and home to the Australian Grand Prix car race. On the top side of the of Albert Park Lake the high rises of Queens and St Kilda Road lead out from the city and near the top hump of the lake about 300 metres away is our building.

Friday, June 12, 2015

About who?

Inspired by a post by John Gray of Wales.

Let me be self critical. I often am.

Well, that is how the post began went nowhere. I have deleted the nonsense I subsequently wrote and you should be grateful.

Indulge me in a brief moment of introspection.

In my life I have always made an effort to 'fit'. Not that much effort really, but a little effort. Yet, I don't think I have ever fitted anywhere. While I do a working class job, I don't feel part of what I do. I go through the motions for the income. While I consider my job is important and I think I do it well, at every step of the way bosses and authorities block what I do to the point where I don't think I can do what I do for much longer. The people I work with are mostly wonderful, but I don't fit with them. I tried in the past being social with some of the ones I really liked but I and my life did not fit with theirs. It is not that they are not accepting of a gay couple but there was a lack of anything in common apart from work.

I am certainly not part of Melbourne's middle class, to be found in our better suburbs, yet I come from landed families of early settlers of Brighton, Bentleigh and Oakleigh.


Japan now has railway apps which  has live data including the crowding of each carriage and inside train temperature.

I hope Japan is not still on its saving energy drive as it was when we were there in summer. Thermostats on public transport and in many buildings had been raised and many places were uncomfortably warm. I remember being really quite hot on a train. Every so often the air con would come on and a wave of lovely cool air would wash over us but after it minute, the system would go off. Once home, I emailed a letter to a Tokyo English language newspaper with my opinion of their energy saving practices but then forgot to check if the letter from the whingeing gaijin was ever published.

French India

To paraphrase two separate workmates, one from India and one from Sri Lanka, both countries went to hell in a handbasket after the British left. I add that they both have Anglo blood and so they, their parents really, weren't particularly in favour when they left after losing their right to an automatic higher social status and select civil service jobs.

I was astonished to learn from chef Rick Stein that there was French India. I knew of Portuguese India, Goa etc. I think Hels has educated me on Jews in India. Where were the French in India?



GLBTI GLBQTI stands for Gay, lesbian, bisexual, later edit: queer,transgender and intersex. Sometimes the word community is tacked on to the end. I have issues enough with just the idea of there being a gay community let alone there being any sort of community of the above. I have one thing and one thing only in common with other gay men and maybe something in common with bisexual men.

Why are such disconnected people lumped together? I suppose it is for convenience when lobbying for rights and improvements.

A mini rant

I hope the late entrepreneur Alan Bond is remembered as the gaoled crook he was, one who lost people vast amounts of money, as well as winning the yachting American Cup for Australia for the first time from America.

I hope the seemingly about to retire retired Australian Rules football hero Chris Judd is not only remembered as a fine footballer with such longevity but also as a player who tried to gouge another player's eyeballs and used neck pressure point police tactics on another. But wait, Judd tried eye gouging twice.

All in a name #325

In my younger years I have been known to pronounce, in my head at least, Tanzania as I would Tasmania with the ending 'ania' pronounced the same.

The different pronunciation of another two place names occurred  to me the other day, Tallangatta and Coolangatta. I rather like saying Coolangatta as I say Tallangatta. Try it yourself, with the emphasis on lang in Coolangatta.

Well, it amused me for a minute or so.

A letter to oneself

Dear Andrew,

I know you are quite stressed, nervous and not really looking forward to your holiday, which is odd really as I know how much you hate work and will pleased to be away from work. Please believe me when I tell you once it is underway, you will enjoy yourself.

You have planned, prepared and catered for every eventuality, but it is the eventuality that you have not foreseen that worries you most.  Please do remember to load some things on to your partner too. As you are prone to wrongly think, it is not all about you and you are not responsible for everything.

It is nearly all organised and paid for with only very minor details to sort. All you have to do is be at Melbourne Airport at the appropriate time, with you passport, etickets, vouchers, a change of clothes and it will all just happen. The rest doesn't really matter so stop worrying. Yes, you know full well there will be taxis on St Kilda Road at 5am to get you to the airport. You have seen them often enough. For goodness sake Andrew.

You really are such a fucking tosser, silly sausage. It'll all be fine.

Best wishes,

Towns I would not like to live in

This is a post going nowhere. Clearing up.

They may be very nice towns, but the name puts me off. This has been compiled over some time as I hear town names.

Let me start with the newish Melbourne suburb called Doreen. I associated it with a frumpy, stupid, niave Australian country girl from the 1920s.Was there a Doreen in the Dad and Dave movies?

England now, Scunthorpe and Skegness. The sk/c sound must be the problem.

Bogside in Ireland.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday Post

There is going to be a flood Friday of unfinished posts, drunken rants and opinionated nonsense. One post accidentally came through to blog readers but I pulled it back for Flood Friday. Getting up to near forty unfinished posts is giving me head botheration. They are all short, so don't stress but gird your loins.

I have amazed myself that I managed to produce something daily over the last two weeks when it has been such a busy time work wise and in personal life too.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Your secret internet exposure

Don't worry, I am not asking what you look at on the internet but I am curious about how many of you, especially with a partner/husband/wife but even family,  know if you blog and if so, do they read you blog, and if so, do they criticise what you write? And what do they think of your blogmates?

Am I referred to as 'that old poofter/fag in Melbourne' by someone's partner? I care about being old more.

I am really interested to know what you share.

For the record, R knows I have a blog, obviously as we or I have met people through my blog. Just today I showed him an Instagram photo of Kath in Geneva who I think does some organising for a junior Eurovision. You remember her R. I've mentioned her before. Lived here in Kensington and moved to Geneva. The photo was with her boss and our Eurovision commentator Julia Zemiro.

Again today another blog mate arose when I told R I had seen the bloke in the city who used to have the cafe in Prahran. I told him something and he asked how I knew? Ah, that must be from Fen. I've told him many times about Fen, but she does not stick in his brain.

I didn't finish the 'for the record'. R read my blog at the beginning but remarked that he did not agree with my recollections of life and once even criticised me for what I wrote. I replied, fine, don't read it then and he said fine, I won't. But he did make a remark recently and I realised he could only have known that from my blog. I asked, why to you ask? No reason, he replied. Apart from one very long term friend, Our Friend in Japan, no other friend or family of mine knows or reads my blog. It does give me somewhat of a luxury in what I write but I do keep in mind one day, a friend or family may stumble across it and put two and two together.

So, to repeat after waffling, does your partner, your family, your children or the whole world read your blog?

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Catching the UP Express

It was a long and tortuous process but finally the Union Pearson Express train has opened in Toronto. It is not a high speed train, but it is a direct link from Toronto's Pearson international airport to its main Union Railway Station right in the city of Toronto. Note, we will be in Vancouver, population less than 3/4 of a million. Toronto, something over two million. Compared to Melbourne's over four million and Sydney's around five million, we shan't be fazed by them being big cities. Of course it is not about the size of a city that matters. It is how they function that is so important. Good public transport and walkability are the essences of a highly liveable city.

After our Rocky Mountains tour from Vancouver, why are we going to Toronto? I am sure it is a great city, but the only reason is to see Niagara Falls. We have three nights in Toronto. One day we arrive, the next we will explore Toronto, the following one a day trip to Niagara Falls, and the next day we leave. We will undoubtedly be left wanting with such a brief visit to Toronto, but that is how travel is at times. The easiest way to see Niagara Falls seemed to be by staying in Toronto and seeing Niagara is one of R's life dreams (as is seeing New York, I might add).

Back to the train. The trains to run the new Toronto airport service were bought from China and are a low emission diesels, and not electric. It could well be that low emission diesels are better for the environment than electric trains. The jury is still out, but for mine, I like electric trains as electricity can be a generated from the sun and diesel fuel cannot. In the interests of expediency, after so many years of planning and arguing, diesel trains were chosen.

Courtesy of Jackie in Toronto, today I looked at the UP Express website. We can book our our train trip on the website for around CA$27. There is no mention of Toronto's Presto public transport card that while it costs $6 to buy, will charge us only $19 for the journey and we can use it to travel on Toronto public transport at reduced prices over pay as you go fares.

As with many airport trains, it will be a marginal operation because of the premium pricing. For two people paying the full train fare, it would be about the same cost to catch a cab from the airport  to the city. Only in times of heavy traffic will the train be significantly quicker.

Anyway, how cool that Toronto now has an airport train but if the UP Express had been done properly it would be a fast ten minute trip. Any airport train in Melbourne that I doubt I will ever see needs to be the same, that is a ten minute trip. In our mega growing cities, speed and convenience are of the essence and the only way trains will compete.

Photo from the Toronto Sun.   

Monday, June 08, 2015

Wrong way officer

As you can see in this photo. I didn't get to take the photo as there was no need. There are two lanes for traffic heading east into the beginning of Toorak Road. It is rare for it to be a deliberate act but quite often a motorist will make a mistake and reverse from a parking space and drive west or turn from the side street and drive down the east bound lane in a westerly direction. Gosh, I sound like a cop describing the situation. It is amusing to watch how long it takes them to realise and their subsequent remedial actions.I have never seen how the situation arises though. Maybe they make a u turn from outside McDonalds.

Sometimes they will sit there for a set of traffic lights, which is odd given they don't have any facing traffic lights. Mostly they will will  U turn and go back once they realise that cars are coming towards them in the lane they are sitting in, or at times turn left and get out of the way.

This evening, which ever evening that was,  there was a particularly truculent motorist who refused to see the evidence of what confronted him or her. I think it was the third change of traffic lights that the car reversed back to the parking area opposite the synagogue and then made a u turn. Lo and behold, on went flashing blue and red lights as it did so. What a laugh. It was an unmarked cop car.

It would have just amused me as something I had seen often enough and seeing one person pulled over by police for the offence, but the temerity of them for turning on their flashing lights as if it was an emergency to cover up their stupidity.

The evening was Saturday, 19.30 06/06/15 I don't want the police driver to get into trouble, but how great if he/she could be pinned down and given heaps by their workmates.

Well, could the timing be any better? I just stood up to stretch from typing this and there is a car doing exactly as I was describing the unmarked police car doing. This may seem a little confusing to foreign types who drive on the wrong side of the road.

These are the two Toorak Road west bound lanes with the east bound lanes on the other side of the small triangular park. The driver could not see any traffic lights to indicate whether he or she should go. He sat there for perhaps two changes of lights and it was cold outside and I was wishing he would hurry up and do something. As you can see, he is not even properly in the lane, no matter that he is going the wrong way.

Reversing took him into the other lane, still facing the wrong way. No, he decided, that is not solving anything.

Back to where he was.

Finally the penny dropped and he turned left, simultaneously receiving a horn blast from the blue car, probably accompanied by some gesticulations.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sunday Selections

River's Sunday Selections are here and Elephant Child's are here.

Puzzling. What connection does Melbourne have to Ghurkhas?

Formerly the famous and infamous Chasers nightclub, I think. As always, in one of Melbourne's inner suburb's  busiest street, I managed to take this photo without a person in it.

South Yarra's Temperance Hotel is promoting a whiskey night. Does temperance not mean what I thought it meant? I am unable to easily establish if this pub has always had the same name. Apparently it is a blonde, fake tan, stiletto venue and for those who are attracted to them.

Once a Baptist Church, Bridie O'Reilly's has been around for ever. You can guess the theme of the interior by the name. We have had a drink outside but never entered. Note there are two people in one of Melbourne's inner suburb's busiest street.

A little curious art work in Toorak Village. Up and down the wealthy Toorak creatures parade yet I have managed to make the street look empty.

Kind of cute.

The dawn correctly indicated it would be another grey and damp day.

The gay man across the road often changes his balcony around. As well as the two fake dogs, he has two small real dogs. Worth clicking to embiggen.