Saturday, June 20, 2015

The day has nearly dawned.

It is our last day before we are off travelling. Bone Doctor will drop Sister at the airport for Sister to bash off with her posh private school teen age boys for them to do good works with Aborigines in the Northern Territory.  Football is a great connector between our posh private school boys and our indigenous peoples. God help those left out of the equation, but as a person who is in a long term same sex relationship, Sister will pick up on the misfits and deal with them sensitively and appropriately. Bone Doctor will be doctoring at a football match and we will entertain Little Jo. Before we return Sister and Bone Doctor fly off and ricochet between Europe and England, cricket at Lords and Edgbaston and Tour de France, a visit to R's family and an awful lot more. They will stay in all sorts of accommodation, from backpackers in Wales and London, to R's sister's floor, to gĂ®tes in France to an expensive Singapore hotel.

All three will have their birthdays while they are away. Little Jo was supposed to see Paris Disneyland for her birthday but it is Bone Doctor's birthday when they will be at Disneyland. Let me check their itinerary. Little Jo will spend her birthday in Brittany visiting Josselin Castle. How interesting and what fun for a child's eighth birthday, not. Sister's birthday will be spent on a plane as they return to Australia.

Although this is written in advance, I imagine I will be in a state of mild panic today. A 3.30am start tomorrow. As is my custom, I won't be posting until I return but I will at times read what you have posted and maybe comment.

Friday, June 19, 2015

My store Myer

We were in the Myer department store toy department last weekend. Myer is having a stock taking sale and there were all sorts of promotions happening in the toy department. Although we are looking after Little Jo tomorrow, we won't be taking her there as her mother is dead against anything Barbie related and not keen on Disney either.

Gratuitous photo of a terrific busker in Bourke Street Mall. His hands flew up and down the keyboard and seemed to be able to play many different styles of music. As you can tell from his blurred head, he was very animated.

I found great amusement for myself in the toy department with this dinosaur in the first video and goodness knows what it is in the second video, but it certainly could and did frighten young children.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Shoe Order

R has put his foot down with a firm hand and told me to buy new and comfortable walking shoes before we depart. I don't see anything wrong with my old ones when on my feet. They just don't photograph well as a stand alone pair of shoes. They are quite comfortable. I thought I might buy a new pair in New York, but it seems that will be too late as far as R is concerned.

Checking Myer stock take sale. Checking Mountfords. Checking outlet in Carlton where my now disgraceful shoes came from. Lots of sales on. R buys a particular shoe, a Rockport walking shoe but I don't want to buy the same shoe. I did buy a pair of Rockports once. Why don't I wear them? I got them out and decided I would wear them into town while I did a few things and if they felt alright, I would wear them. If not, I would buy a new pair. They felt ok.

That is until I got home and my feet felt sore, not the skin or from abrasion but the muscles or ligaments. I worked out that these shoes are longer with more toe room and so my toes are bending at a different angle when I walk. I'll get used to them, by the end of the holiday at least.

Was it Marcus Wong who once mentioned taking a power board when travelling? There are so many things now to charge. I bought two unearthed power plug adaptors for the US and Canada and checked that none of what we wanted to charge had an earthed plug. Good. Until I took out a power board and realised that the plug for that is earthed, so as I did  for our visit to Japan, I busied myself with a drill and a knife. The hole is bit rough, but it does the job.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shrine Gardens

I was so excited that the MacRob fountain was once again working after its post drought restoration. I wanted to take a photo for you with the fountain illuminated by autumn sunshine and I planned the time. R came with me but we were significantly delayed by a chatty neighbour and missed the sunlight. I may have calculated a bit too late too. Oh well, here is a snap anyway, taken in the shade. I'll do better, promise.

Blow me down, what did I see this week from a tram? The fountain fenced off and shut down again!

The trees with their autumn colours looked lovely. The leaves should be more clearly defined in the photos, but they were shimmering in the breeze.

A majestic evergreen gum tree (eucalyptus) adds to the view.

This is not a poplar tree, but poplars make the best autumn rustling noise in a breeze.

It must have been shortly after Anzac Day in late April when I took these photos.

This nearby drinking fountain which appears to have some age to it and must have been quite advanced for its time with its overflow dog drinking wells.

Just last week, tree branches are looking very bare and I had been impatiently waiting for the cloud to burn away before going out, but it was persistent. Fifteen minutes after I took this, we had blue skies.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Stranger's Eye

We will be using a good bit of public transport during our forthcoming trip and will be reliant on good signage at railway stations, tram stops and so forth. One of the hardest things in the world is to look at signage in an area you know and see it objectively, that is through a stranger's eyes.

London's Tube is excellent in this regard and it needs to be as a lot of walking needs to be done when changing lines and entering and exiting stations. It would be very annoying to make a mistake and have to backtrack. Generally in Europe I thought the signage was quite good. I was surprised at how many signs were in English in Budapest. Many less so in Austria and Germany but Amsterdam and Brussels did well enough with plenty of signs in English. Austria and Germany often used symbols, which were helpful.

Where have I been where signage is inadequate? While I may be being unfair because it is fresh in my mind, Sydney fell down several times for us. Trying to find a particular bus stand within the Bondi Junction bus terminal was one example, with arrows pointing in various directions but nothing saying the stand was actually outside, not within the interchange.

We used two more city bus stands servicing multiple routes with multiple stands, and both had contradictory and confusing signage.

We used Sydney's Central Station more than once and we had no problem finding our way around there but I've been reading in a discussion group that directional signs have been changed. Instead of 'Exit to Eddy Avenue', 'Devonshire Street Exit' and 'Country Train Terminal', signs now say, Grand Concourse, G for short, North Concourse, N, South Concourse, S.

A quick glance at Google Maps can tell you which street exit you need from Central. When confronted at the station by the letters G, N or S what do you do?

If ever there was a need for some overseas consultants, this is one of them.  The eyes of complete strangers are needed and the signage should not designed by someone who knows all about Central.

It will be interesting to see how things are done in Canada and New York and I expect the signage will be quite good. Seems though that when we are in New York, we need to remember what is uptown and what is downtown. I studied Manhattan maps enough, but I still haven't quite remember which is uptown and which is downtown. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Not really late

I expect during our forthcoming travels we will have to be ever so often in the right place at the right time. It is quite crucial when tour travelling and if you are not where you should be, then you should expect to be left behind and serves you right. I have no patience for people who can't get their act together and be where they are supposed to be, dawdling towards the door of a coach when they are already late.

To be late seems to be human. But what annoys me more is when you are not late yet everyone is seated in a coach glaring at you as you board. You have returned on time but everyone else came back early and you are now the person holding things up. We have experienced this a few times, with one particular time in Japan at the fore of my mind where we lingered over a cup of sliver service coffee that cost 1 billion yen, each.

Our fellow travellers on the coach did not applaud us when we boarded on time, but their eyes did. Screw them. We were getting out money's worth of our rather good coffee, about what we pay $3 for at home.

Vic Pol moving home

In Victoria Police news, the major police station three doors from us is closing down with a consolidation of departments to a new premises at Cocklands Divorcelands Docklands. No longer will it be erroneously referred to by media as Police Headquarters.  While Vic Pol seem to lose files often enough we have observed a daily succession of removalist trucks being loaded with files in ever so orderly boxes, presumably being taken to the new headquarters. Major crime boss files might be missing, but your minor offence is recorded and on the move.  I did not see any stacks of telephone books being moved, the books being rumoured proved in court evidence to be used to 'encourage' confessions at the St Kilda Road Police Complex.

A developer has plans to convert the building into apartments and local residents including some in our building are submitting protests against the plans, the protests being such as insufficient parking, insufficient set back, no loading dock for the ground level businesses.  Nevertheless, I will pleased to see these ugly concrete barriers removed.  I thought they were placed there after a terrorist incident but R tells me it in response to the 2013 'Bikie (motorcyclist) Wars'. I believe a 'normal' police station will remain within the building.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Federation Square

Australians have an aversion to words with too many syllables and so Federation Square is mostly known as Fed Square, even on its website. Not every one likes it but many think like I do. I did not initially admire it architecturally but it has grown on me, and as a pubic space for a large number of people it works really well. It is not wheelchair or baby stroller friendly with its cobbled surfaces but then nor is much of the historic areas of Europe.

Here are some photos to show you around a bit.

From Swanston Street at the southern end of Flinders Street Station. Although not recently, we have been a few times to the aptly named Transport Bar, a good place to sit and people watch and tram watch too, if you are so inclined. Upstairs is fine dining, I believe. I wouldn't know.

To the right of the photo above is Federation Walk, at this point elevated significantly above the Yarra River. Stairs and and a lift lead down to Federation Wharf, and Riverland Cafe and Bar, a very nice spot when the weather is fine. 

Still on the riverside I am about to walk up some steps.

Once up, here is the large open expanse with its stage  for performances and the large tv screen above the stage.

Looking to the south east corner.

Towards the corner of Flinders and Swasnton Streets. While I have seen the area full of people many times, only once have I been in a crowd there and the occasion was for an Indian holy festival. We were surrounded by young Indian men.

You may notice the word acmi, Australian Centre for the Moving Image. It is a terrific part of Fed Square with films and permanent as well as temporary exhibitions.

Very outback Australian colours were chosen for the paving and it really does look good, especially after a dedicated removal of chewing gum was instigated.

The colours are beautiful.

Deck chairs and bean bags are brought out for appropriate seasons. Another criticism I have is a lack of shade so how about some deciduous trees.

R and I lunched with some friends who were blogmates at the cafe to the right, Ann O'Dyne, Copperwitch and Pants. Below the steps nearer to the Visitor Centre is where buskers gather the audience and perform. The Visitor Centre is mostly underground and is very very good, staffed mostly by volunteers I think.

Bit quiet up here on a cold weekday, but we have at times been unable to get a seat at any of the many cafes and restaurants.

The building are on the other side of the river at Southbank.

I did step inside and take a photo but it is too blurry. Alfred Deakin was Australia's second Prime Minister and a strong activist for the Australian states to be joined into a federation, which it now is.

Maybe this is what people dislike about Fed Square. In the short distance is.....

a performance space. It is often named after an advertising sponsor and so its name changes.

Left over poppies from Anzac Day.

A shop full of beautiful and expensive things. Remember it Copperwitch? Remember when you turned around and that really expensive vase fell down and broke? Ah, well, delicately, we received a bill. $250, I'm afraid. A cheque will be ok.

Even more Anzac Day poppies.

I stepped outside to the eastern side of Federation Square. The northern City Loop tunnel disappears into the ground. From my childhood I remember roofing over the railway yards being talked about by politicians and media. As you can see, it can take long time for some things to happen.

Near to the eastern side is a community? vegetable garden.

Are we sick of poppies yet?

Bats flying about. Well pretend ones.

Meccano gone wrong? I once had a small Meccano set. Being an atypical gay child, I was more interested in keeping in neat and tidy in its box than the chaotic constructions made by my brother.

Driving you batty.


 Looking back to the northern side from across Flinders Street. So what do think? Thumbs up or down? A bit weird yes, but does it work?