Saturday, March 30, 2019


My virus checker popped up a box to tell me it had been updated. Good. I failed notice that two buttons had check marks in them until just as I hit the close button. My default Chrome browser was changed to AVG safe browser and many file associations had been changed. It didn't take too long to fix, but so annoying.

The temperature today dropped from the high 20s to the high teens within half an hour. Autumn is here and Winter will be soon upon us.

Cuteness for R's birthday from our Friend in Japan. It is a hook for whatever. There was cake too, but I'm afraid it did not last long enough to take a photo.

Day 4 in NZ was a great day, but there are many photos to sort through. Maybe Sunday, but it is busy weekend as it is the first anniversary of the death of our friend. Because of work I missed the internment of the ashes. We are going with his widower to the cemetery today and will have lunch then he is putting a bring a plate lunch on Sunday for all friends at their home. We are taking some pastisties and mini quiche. For you foreign types, bring a plate is not to be taken literally. Your party host is not short of plates. We do little socially now, so it will be nice to catch up with people we know but don't really count as friends.

This news from The Age is concerning but it would be so hard and expensive to cancel our flights to England with Royal Brunei Airlines but we will have a good look this morning.

Beginning next week, adultery and sexual behaviour between people of the same gender will be punishable by death by stoning in the small Asian nation of Brunei under a new law that comes into effect on April 3.
A strict set of new laws was announced back in 2014 by the country's sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, who doubles as the Prime Minister. The country became the first in its region to adapt Islamic sharia law. But the laws' actual implementation in the small kingdom, just north of Indonesia, has been gradual. A notice of the April 3 start date went up on the Brunei Attorney-General's website on December 29.
We are not overtly gay, just two older men travelling together and it is most unlikely we will have gay sex with anyone in the airport while we stop over for an hour or two. The younger me has moved on. Nevertheless, it is of great concern. I wish we were richer and could just cancel our flights and fly with another airline to make a point.  The US actor who all women seem to adore, but I don't, is calling for a boycott of the Brunei owned hotels in the US. 
Apartheid in South Africa was killed by global boycotts. Anti homosexual laws in our state of Tasmania were killed by boycotts.  This Brunei law can too be killed by boycotts.  Of course the funny thing is that like in all Asian countries, very effeminate men will be accepted as part of society. It is the non girly gay men they have problems with.
Make of this tram shelter ad what you will.

You don't get out and experience things enough lovey.

Friday, March 29, 2019

NZ Cruise D3 Milford Sound

What a bun fight the first night was on the ship for dinner. We were supposed to go a restaurant to dine but chose the buffet instead. Unfortunately so did many others. The buffet dinner did settle down in subsequent days.

R joined the passenger ship choir with me along for support. The noting of the choir practice in the daily newsheet Princess Patter was a total fail. It was listed when he was told it would not happen and he went along. Then it wasn't listed again for days and he missed rehearsals. It was very badly managed and on the last day when the choir was supposed to perform publicly, it did not go ahead, I think for there being too few people. R was over it due to the erratic scheduling. It is such a shame as on our Mediterranean cruise I saw the choir performance and it was great. The choir performance was very carefully planned and the songs good.

On the way to New Zealand we saw Bohemian Rhapsody on the large outdoor movie screen and caught comedian Sam Cooke one evening.

At the first light of day we entered New Zealand's South Island, Milford Sound. Our ship made a 180 degree turn on the spot to leave the sound. At times we were terribly close to the rocky walls.

It was a pretty grey and bleak day. This part of New Zealand has extremely high rainfall and many small and larger waterfalls cascade into the sounds. Milford Sound has little in the way of sea life, as though it is saltwater, a layer of freshwater sits over the top of the salt water.

Back to ocean and further south we entered Thompson Sound but there was no need to turn around as we exited using the linked Doubtful Sound.

On the big movie screen was a concert featuring Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, which was more like Bennett performing with backing vocals by Lady Gaga.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

NZ Cruise D1 Departure

Not so many taxis in St Kilda Road on a Saturday afternoon. If the driver was disappointed that it was a fare with suitcases to Station Pier and not Melbourne Airport, he did not show it. Boarding times are staggered over a few hours, nevertheless it is well organised chaos. Buses and taxis go right onto the pier to unload their passengers. The Spirit of Tasmania was also loading, adding even more traffic chaos. The pier's efficiency is constrained by its small size and there has been talk of extending it out further.

We queued to check in, not too long. We were then seated to wait for our turn at Border Force (I hate the name, but that is what it is now called, formerly Customs and Immigration). The area we were in did not have heating or cooling, which is not a problem as cruise ships don't operate from Station Pier in Winter, but it must be terrible on a hot day.  We were soon on board and found our cabin, which was on Deck 11, called Baja (pronounced Baha). I think decks 7 to 12 are for passengers, below for entertainment venues, administration, the crew, engines and whatever else a ship needs to sail. There isn't a Deck 13 and the highest is the small Deck 17.

When we sailed on the Royal Princess in the Mediterranean we had a balcony. We did not this time and it made the layout of the same sized cabin stateroom better and more spacious. But I did miss a window as an indicator as to whether it was light in the early morning. There was so much storage space. We used less than a third of the space. Unlike most accommodation, there was an adequate number of coat hangers in the open wardrobe. The shower stall was on the small side, and there were plenty of large to very large travellers on the ship who would struggle a bit, along with many people on walking frames and in wheelchairs. The lighting was quite adequate.

I wanted to be aft as we departed at 4pm to take photos. We left at 3.50. Bye bye Melbourne.

Deck 15 overlooking Deck 14 for good views of the city, views that no one will ever see unless they are departing by ship from Station Pier. There was a bottle of sparkling wine for the first passenger into the pool while clothed. I hope he took his phone out of his pocket.

Melbourne's notorious West Gate Bridge to take traffic to the western suburbs.

A bit out of order. The chaos on the pier had cleared.

If you see the ferry The Spirit of Tasmania on her own, she looks big, but our ship dwarfed her.

Looking towards Port Melbourne and Albert Park.

A forest of apartment towers at Southbank.

A friend lives in one of these very expensive apartment blocks in Beacon Cove.

Let's get the party started with crew and some passengers dancing. The bear was to have your photo taken with, which are then on public display and you can buy the photos at a rather high price. We had our photos taken a couple of times during the trip, once while boarding, but no one, least of all me, would pay for photos of us.

Melbourne's tallest building, Eureka Tower is in this photo.

Far left in the photo is a glass faced building and the top of The Highrise can be seen above it. So there Margaret, now you know.

The top of The Highrise can be seen a bit better in this photo, a little right of centre.

Container moving machinery at the docks. Melbourne has Australia's busiest container port.

The tug boat departing.

Looking towards Williamstown.

The lighthouses at Queenscliff. The next village is where Sister lives.

And out through Port Phillip Heads.

The next two days were at sea, so the next post will be Day 4 when we reach New Zealand. If you are wondering about anything about this kind of cruising, feel free to ask in comments or via email. This is our second sea cruise, third if I include our Budapest to Amsterdam river cruise which we agree was our best holiday ever, and the most expensive. You get what you pay for.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

No cruise post yet

I just can't seem to get my act together after our cruise. Well, we have been a bit busy. Two nights I have fallen asleep in an armchair while watching tv, woken at around 2am and gone to bed. Last night R said I was sitting at the computer until 1am. I still woke at 6.30 and rose about 8 and felt like crap all day.

I was supposed to collect R from a medical appointment at 10.00 but I received a call to say he would not be ready until 11.15. He had been fasting so we immediately went to a cafe for a bite to eat and coffee. I left my sunglasses in the cafe and had to go back for them.

I had a doctor's appointment at 4pm. I went early and had a snack and bought some things in the supermarket. Once at the doctor's surgery I was asked for my new Medicare card as the practice only had my old expired card details. Where is it? Not to be found in my wallet. How did that happen? My current wallet is very tight on cards and they don't fall out. I don't even remember getting a new card in February. Only ten minutes wait and talk time to Medicare and a new card will be sent within two or three weeks. Doctor said my blood pressure was a bit high. I was not surprised. No Andrew, said Doc, where you had your heart stress test has not sent on the information on to me. Another thing to deal with.

Then there is Wordpress. Don't take this personally if you use WP as I know it my fault and I think Wordpress is superior blogging platform. I have tried and tried to get my Blogger identity right for Wordpress over my desktop, phone and tablet, but I just can't do it. I have two Wordpress identities and I can't seem to make Wordpress understand that one is an old one I no longer want to use. So many times I have written comments, only for them to disappear because of my identity issues.

There is another card disaster that happened on our cruise, but I will tell you about that later. Early night for me. The world can get stuffed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Post Cruise

We were off the ship before 8am and caught a taxi home.

Straight away off a tangent, both taxi drivers to and from the ship were white Anglo Saxon males, yet the ones who have taken me to work at around 6am earlier in the year have all been from the Subcontinent or the Middle East. Taxi driver profile of times at work?

I washed four loads of washing as we were desperately short of clean clothing after two weeks cruising. We then caught the tram to Prahran to pick up pre ordered cakes for the following day's family celebration (three for $80 but they were so good), went to the chemist and bought a couple of things in the supermarket. Once home we fell into a state of exhaustion even though we had not returned home from a long flight, just a cab home from Station Pier.

Sunday, Club Officer is quite new and rather a good place for family celebrations, especially as it has a great child play area.  In the lake just outside I saw coots, ducks and swans and some graceful big winged birds that I could not identify. All family attended, with the exception of Fire Fighting Nephew and his wife. Extras were two of Ex Sis in Law's husband's children including one of the daughter's twenty one year old partner 😜. He is slim and good looking but so sadly at his age, balding. He and his betrothed are just great with Hippie Niece's twin daughters. While one of them is ok with Auntie Andrew, the other one runs to Hippie Niece screaming if I go near her. Even R cannot not conquer her, and that is saying something.

We were dreading the lunch but it was actually quite good and relaxed. Over three hours we ate, drank very little, laughed, loved, chatted and took photos.

So, what was the family gathering about? Little M turned five on the 18th, R turned seventy on the 22nd and Mother turned eighty five on the 24th. Mother doesn't mind sharing birthday celebration with R, but she does not like the spotlight being off her for her great granddaughter Little M's birthday. Just bad luck Ma that she was born near your birthday. Anyway, Mother says that she won't be around for her 86th birthday. R says otherwise and that she will last ten years at least yet. I think he is right.

Sister has invited us to her place on The Bellarine at Easter, and Mother and ABI Brother will be there. The next big family get together will be for Hippie Niece's twin daughters' second birthday in April. Hippie Niece is on such a tight budget that she was scrounging in her purse to pay for her lunch yesterday, and then R gave her $50. Yet she has grand ideas of celebrating her daughters' birthdays. I keeping putting her expectations down, as that is what grumpy old aunties do.

R's sisters back in England sent him this bunch of flowers and his former workmate who he catches up with for brunch at times gave him this cactus bowl. Little Jo shopped for R's birthday in the international aisle of the local supermarket. Sister and Bone Doctor bought R a single malt bottle of Scotch. We bought Little M a made in New Zealand cotton tee shirt with cute kiwi birds on the tee. We gave Mother a birthday card and a nice but cheap box of flowers from the supermarket as a last thought.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sad news

Australian actor Tom Long has an incurable skin cancer melanoma and is expected to die within months. My often dodgy maths tells me he is only 51 years old.

He was a great actor, remembered by me especially as the surfer boi in in the mega successful  ABC TV show Seachange. He was handsome, a bit boyish and somewhat laconic.

Former industrial lawyer Ana Kokkinos directed the very gay movie Head On, aka Loaded. She has many skins under her belt now, and in 2006 she directed the movie The Book of Revelation, where the actor Tom Long was abducted by three women, raped and sexually abused by them over a couple of days. I found this a little exciting, so of course I skimmed through the quite heavy movie for the good bits. It was a intense movie and probably one best seen in a cinema, just once.

But Tom Long (I used to call him Long Tom as he was not behind the door when equipment was handed out, like I change the name of Hugh Jackman to Huge Ackman) was very nice looking and a good actor and his eminent premature death is not welcome at all. Go well dear Tom.

Cruise in brief

Hello everyone. Missed you heaps. My rss feed has 514 posts to read so my apologies if I only skim read.

Our cruise to New Zealand was ok. We are in agreement that we won't do another cruise, with or without three days at sea. I will write more about that in the future. To put it frankly, we both screwed up in some ways during the holiday. Myself more than R.

My mega muck up was ten minutes before we were due to go downstairs to catch a cab to Station Pier and board Golden Princess, I decided I might take a lot of photos with my my phone so I inserted a storage card into the phone. My plan was use a build up of phone data while in New Zealand. I didn't and still don't know about using the ship cellular network while at sea, but I doubt it would be free. Casual internet use was charged at $70 for 100 minutes. Outrageous. The cruise itself was very cheap, about $1750 each for 13 days. You can pay for no more than that but few do and the cheaper cruise ships get you every which way with everything being extra. Drinks were on the expensive side but I heard that duty free cigarettes were incredibly cheap. Most on the ship were older than me. It was a very grey cruise but there were a number of younger people and some children of various ages. It is usually me who comes up with something like this, but R pointed out, if a few of the these cruise ships sank and took all passengers with them, Australia would not have any kind of budget problem for years because of savings on paying pensions. 

Ah, I have drifted off my point. So I inserted the storage card into my phone but it restarted and oddly did not need the SIM card code. Why did I not take notice! We had a chatty taxi driver and of course I polite enough to respond but really, I would have preferred to concentrate on what we were doing. At some point during the cab ride I realised my phone was not operating properly and I could not do anything such as message or check messages. Damn, what is wrong! I will sort it out once on the ship. We paid the cab driver and while I was trying to work out what was wrong with my phone, R had left his backpack in the cab. Fortunately, the cab hadn't been able to move, so he went back and grabbed it off the back seat. High stress levels, oh yes. Once in our cabin stateroom, no cabin, I opened up the tray on my phone and there was the storage card but no SIM card. I guessed, subsequently proved correct, what had happened. It had fallen out and I had not noticed. It was sitting on my bathroom floor when we returned home. So, no phone data for me but not that much of a problem as R has even more accrued data than I have. We use his for data roaming and I can use his mobile hotspot, effectively piggybacking on his phone.

Before we left, I had ensured data roaming was turned on at our service provider and on our phones, but do you think I could get R's phone to work once we reached NZ. I could not. I hear stories of people unwittingly using huge amounts of data when overseas and I could not make R's phone to work. We did eventually pay the usuras charge of the ship internet, paying $70 for the 100 minutes. Again I could piggy back on R's phone and had internet access after about three days. We used about 70 minutes and the remained on the journey home.

First world problem? You betcha. 

A week ago on Friday we were moored at Akaroa, perhaps 30 km from Christchurch. Some of of the ship passengers had taken tours to Christchurch. Thank goodness our ship, the Golden Princess, had ABC News 24 available on out cabin tv. I was informed quickly by Our ABC about the Christchurch massacre. Some of the ship passengers were in Christchurch and caught up in the lockdown. Our ship left three hours late from Akaroa but we arrived on time at our next destination.

We just happened to be in our cabin when NZ PM Adern addressed the nation in the immediate aftermath, so reassuring to her people. She spoke off the cuff without notes and she was magnificent. The only politician who have seen come close to her was former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh in during the Queensland floods a few years ago. Adern was just magnificent. I don't know how much of her first speech was seen in Australia and elsewhere, but we watched it in full.

With notes, again the next day PM Adern addressed the nation with sympathy, reassuring words and strong action about gun control and again coincidently we were in our cabin and caught her speech. Of course we saw a good bit more of her and the aftermath of the shooting via Our ABC.

When ship announcements are made, people keep talking but at six pm on the day of massacre when our captain spoke about the events of the day and our late departure, you could have heard a pin drop. Our Italian captain's voice was a little shaky, clearly showing emotion in his speech. A sombre mood settled over the ship for the evening as people digested the day's events.

I don't really care for the Muslim religion and culture but I certainly don't want to see people killed for their religious beliefs.

Our taxi driver on the way home from ship two days ago told us that the shooting video had now been taken down from the internet but he offered it to us on our phones. Weird and he was a bit weird. I expect he may well have not been so unhappy about the massacre. It took me about two minutes to find the video, once home. It is as bad as you would expect. The way such a gun can kill so many people in such a short time is why such a gun should never be in the hands of a private citizen but I do understand why it is so in New Zealand. The gun lobby is strong, but the best time to restrict firearms is after mass shooting events (except it doesn't seem to happen in the US) and the PM and parliament of NZ seems quite firm on this. It needs be done quick and fast before the gun lobby can get into the ears of politicians.

With the PM Adern's image lighting up the tallest building in Dubai, I expect she has hit a very sweet spot around the world and especially the Arab world.  I expect the massacre will do little harm to NZ image as a friendly and welcoming country for immigrants.

To our shame, the person it is alleged to have committed the crime is Australian.