Saturday, April 27, 2019

Removing cards from your wallet

Thanks to Snoskred, I have a rather useful new phone app called Stocard. Instead of carrying loyalty cards in your wallet and purse, you use the app on your phone.

After downloading the app, you select a company whose loyalty card you have from an extensive, I think world wide, list. There seems to be a bias towards where you live, so that is helpful and it is easily searchable. You click on the name and your phone camera switches on. You then scan the barcode on the bach of the card and it is done. You can manually enter the number if you are struggling with that(I had my camera set in the wrong direction the first time).

Keep it in a ready place to find place on your phone. When in the store, open Stocard and select which card matches the business, then scan the barcode as you would your plastic card.

How well it works depends on the types of scanners in the various businesses. We've only had one fail in Big W. I will seek staff advice next time. You can always get the staff to manually enter the number. They will be really happy to do that?

So, that is four less cards I don't have to carry and I know there five there, but we rarely use Vintage Cellars and don't carry the card, but why not if it just sits within my phone.

I suppose the reason this app exists is to gather information about our spending practices. Whoa, way too much at Dan Murphy's. I really don't care what information about my spending practices are gathered. R always skims through the weekly emails from Coles and Woolworths to see what is cheap. Targeted advertising, I don't mind at all, as long as it is properly targeted and possibly of interest to me. If it is not, I just unsubscribe from emails, as I did with Dan Murphy's who was sending me a daily email of nothing I was interested in.

If you join up with your email address, you can see within the app your points on each card.

I am not quite ready to do pay by phone as it requires facial or fingerprint recognition, nor our public transport card Myki on my phone, which seems from my observations to be very slow recognition. But getting rid of these loyalty cards from my wallet is so good. Thanks Snoskred. I guess I would have eventually caught up. There was a news piece about Stocard in the Sydney Morning Herald not so long ago, but I missed it.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Flying visit to Sydney Part 1

We went to Sydney to see West Side Story on Sydney Harbour. I had booked the Long Term Carpark at Melbourne Airport well in advance for the two nights for $61. It took us ages to find a vacant space. You then have to catch a bus to the airport from a nearby pickup point. At least the buses are well organised now, with a weekday frequency of four minutes. When we returned after our Sydney visit, I overheard a passenger survey person interviewee on the bus saying he was upgraded to the undercover walking distance car park once, when the Long Term Carpark was full. I noted there was no spare spaces when we returned and a polite woman stalked us as we walked to our car from the bus station. We desperately need a train to airport, but it looks like it won't open until the late 2020s. I am sure I will be dead by then.

To the cost we had to add road tolls in both directions of about $15, so the cost is now up to $76 with us having to make a huge time allowance, plus petrol. For $110, we could have just caught a cab, door to door in both directions, without the huge time allowance.

Oh dear, our Sydney Opal travel cards were in deficit. I topped them up. The increments weren't so friendly, so I made a $30 top up and then a $5 top up. That amount covered our deficit and after our travel, we have a couple of dollars left on our Opal Cards. The usurious airport train gate fee was covered by the weekly Opal travel card cap for oldies at $26. That covered all our train fares and ferry fares, as well as the airport train.

The train trip to Museum Station was as painless as it always is and the station is close to where we stay.

We stayed at the Hyde Park Plaza on College Street. We have stayed there three times already, but in the private part of the hotel, where the owner comes alongs and gives you the key. It was a sudio where we had stayed before, large and with a balcony, but rather dated. When I looked at her prices this year, it was up to $190 per night. Using a hotel booking app, I found what looked like a better room for under $180 as a normal hotel guest. We were astonished when we entered the room(s). It was fabulous, modern, all equipped and with a separate bedroom with two beds. One of our two  balconies overlooked Hyde Park and the intersection below.

Ok, not all perfect. As we arrived in Sydney, a cool change hit and it was quite windy on the balcony. In the place we had stayed at in the past, it would have been sheltered.

We shopped for breakfast food, snacks and drinks, remembering the IGA and BWS places nearby.

Via email we had arranged to meet blogger James O'Brien that evening for a drink, and if that went well, maybe even a meal. Our friend Victor in Sydney was to join us. I kept Victor informed during the day that I had not heard back from James. I was becoming quite annoyed. I thought James would be a reliable person. R said I should email James to find out what was happening. Stubborn pride stopped me. Yet in the back of my mind, I knew something tech had gone wrong and I knew R was right. I really wish I had contacted James via email.

We had a drink at the open window of the Colombian Hotel in Oxford Street, such a good people watching spot and then a nice dinner at Belloccio where mine host came and chatted to us.

Bleary eyed, the next morning I woke at 6.30 and rose from my slumber. There was an email from James, and he had suggested such a cool place to meet last night, but had sent the email to himself instead of me. I then beat myself up about not contacting him the day before when I had not heard from him. His mistake was not my fault, but I really should have contacted him as I knew full well he was reliable person.

Oh well, we have a whole day in Sydney before West Side Story, what shall we do?  As you would expect it will be in the next Sydney post.

Here are a few photos.

The very steep Wentworth Avenue, which does not look so steep. For our last Sydney visit, we stayed down the hill at The Travelodge, which was good.

Buses have numbers on their roofs. What a good idea.

While I don't know what they are like inside, I love the apartment building opposite.

Drawer dishwasher even. We did not use it. It kept beeping and I did learn how to kill the beep.

The renovations to War Memorial are complete and it looks just wonderful.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Who not to vote for

The name and the boundaries of our Federal Seat of Melbourne Ports has been changed to Macnamara. I like our old name. I've no idea who the Macnamara is or was.

The (Liberal) conservative candidate is the best thing the Labor Party has going for it to win what has become an increasingly marginal seat, especially so after the retirement of the popular local member Michael Danby.

Chloe Shorten is the wife of the Labor opposition party leader and daughter of former Governor General, Dame Quentin Bryce.

Yes, private schools can be very good, but they are not for everyone. What a low thing to say about state school teachers; the many dedicated teachers with much less resources at hand than the posh private schools.

Kate Ashmor sounds like a right charmer.

From The Age newspaper.

The Liberal Party candidate under fire for referring to Chloe Shorten as a pig once declared private schools were "far superior" to state schools.
Kate Ashmor, the candidate for the Melbourne seat of Macnamara, refused to comment further on her remarks in which she said teachers in the private system were better than "the vast majority of those" in the public system.
In a letter published in The Leader in 2001 under her maiden name Kate Ash-Burner, Ms Ashmor wrote of her support for the policy of using taxpayer funds to subsidise private schools and talked down her experience in the state school system.
Her comments come two days after The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed Ms Ashmor referred to Bill Shorten's wife as a pig on social media - something for which she has now apologised.
Before the election was called, she questioned Josh Burns, the Labor candidate for Macnamara, about whether he was as proud of being Jewish as she was.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A visit to The Bellarine

We went down to The Bellarine Peninsula yesterday, Thursday, to see Sister and Little Jo for Easter. We had been invited to stay over Easter but R would not. While Sister makes us very welcome, we do like the comfort of home.

Sister and Little Jo prepared a nice snack lunch, served on my late grandmother's English fine china plates, cups and saucers that she took, along with the crystal cabinet, from Mother's place. Neither of my brothers care and nor do I but for some reason R does. Sister had an even older almost complete dinner set for eight of my grandparents, dating I think to 1924.

Little Jo had made a cake, and R was her master chef at making cakes at a very young age. Along with her Easter Egg Bilby, we gave Little Jo something over NZ$30 spending money for her sea scout trip to NZ next year, our left over money from NZ.

In our car, we visited Queenscliff and climbed caught the lift to the top of the tower with Little Jo just as the ferry was coming in. Sister soon joined us, having walked a decent way from where we dropped her off after ordering her hot cross buns at a posh French Bakery, only $18 per dozen. At times Sister is so thrifty to the point of seeming mean with herself, but other times she likes to spend on quality.

We had a drive around Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale and after some refreshment back at Sister's we headed for home. Three hours of driving for about a four hour visit, but it suited us to not stay.

Mother and ABI Brother called in for a break on Saturday. R went overboard with food, and now I am the worst in the world for saying he put in too much effort. I should know better. He complains endlessly about Mother, but he never complains about doing food for people.

This Tuesday they called in again on the way home and this time it was only bought fruit cake and tea.

At the two year old twin's birthday party the week earlier, Mother was determined not to go to Sister's for Easter. R talked her around. The day before she was due go, she called me and said she didn't think she could do it. I was very encouraging that she should. She laid down rules for ABI Brother. No phone calls, no staring at paperwork, just a relaxing time for them. I enforced the benefits of a break from home for ABI Brother, with Sister and Bone Doctor looking after them, which they did. It was so important that Mother went to Sister's for Easter for the following reason.

On Sunday Sister took them out for a drive, which ended up near Colac where late Step Father lived for much of his former married life. They arrived at 1.30 at one of late Step Father's daughter's brand spanking new home, huge, full of marble and shiny surfaces. And then they started to arrive, late Step Father's children, their children, their children and their children. Mother remembered all of their names except the last children who are very young. She never misses sending a birthday card to them. Mother was treated like royalty and clearly she is held in high respect by all of the family. She was absolutely chuffed. She was however critical of Sister for not warning her in advance, but had Sister told her, she would have been panicky, overexcited and shaking.

Here are a few photos from our visit last Thursday. Hidden behind a chocolate rabbit is our Easter card from Little Jo.

Here comes the Sorrento to Queenscliff Ferry.

The ferry docking.

Within a minute the ramp was down and cars were driving off.

Swan Island is a military base covering most of the island, but there is a golf course there, so some access is allowed.

Sister took us to their secret place, where canoes and modest boats are stored unlike at the Queenscliff Marina where there are million dollar boats and berthing fees to match. A barbeque facility is available and can be very social for like minded people of the area. Bone Doctor has three canoes stored there and as well as her GP work, her Sports Medicine work, her surgical sessions at Epworth Hospital, she is also a Sea Scouts leader and now a trainer of canoeists.  

One of the two Point Lonsdale piers. One is within in the bay and this one sticks out into Bass Strait, wild waters, although not too wild this day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


I am not sure what pictures I was searching for, but I came across all these Dad/Son photos, most promoting tee shirts for sale. I think I have stooped lower with a post.

Bit old for daddy worship.

Pranked his father. Father not happy.

Missed one. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Nice Jugs, Copperwitch

My, what a lovely pair of jugs Copperwitch mailed to us. They are perfect for our needs and take up much less space in the fridge. Thank you, Jah Teh. You are a treasure.

New Zealand Cruise. The End.

The very last New Zealand cruise post.

Children were very well catered for on the ship, not that there were many. There were supervised areas and activities for them, leaving their parents free to do whatever.

The posh people were catered for too, but I never saw anyone use this area. Are posh people and cheap sea cruising an oxymoron? I suspect so.

Helpful information sheets were delivered to our cabin for each place we visited.

The ship's log extract was delivered to us at the end of the cruise.

 The highest point on the ship, deck 17, I think, where the people are coming down the stairs.

Looking down on Deck 14, one of many areas to lie about on the ship. Deck chairs on Deck 12 (no Deck 13) below in the shade but with a view of the big screen were coveted.

I can't remember if I used this photo or not. It is looking across to the north shore of either Auckland, I think.

Wake. This aft area was not very popular. Not sure why. We sat there once and R was sunburnt a little. There isn't much shelter.

Not quite Mediterranean blue, but blue enough. Different time and different camera.

Was I drunk, was he handsome and did my Ma give me hell. Nah, the ship must have been listing. Victor hates it when a video goes off the page, but he is in Singapore and not reading. He received a surprise upgrade to first class for the flight. I don't really hate him, but I am jealous. I just came across one of the many posts I have forgotten about, I was very uncritical here, not like me at all.

The ship is maintained while at sea, with scraping, sanding and varnishing.

Ice sculpting.

Pretty moon. I think we were close to home.

Rock outcrops in Bass Strait.

I think I did tell you about the free meal in an expensive restaurant with a $70 bottle of wine for R's birthday. I have never seen this before. It was Bombe Alaska Parade by all the restaurant staff. Great fun.

Each day of the cruise the ever so camply named Princess Patter was delivered to everyone's cabin stateroom. The PP listed what was happening on the ship for the day. As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do, but frankly we just could not be......bothered. We did attend one Art Auction and got to know some of the art that was up for auction, sale or just on view. We attended a few of the shows. We enjoyed some of low key daytime performances, often just a pianist/vocalist with a string player. We saw a couple of comedy performances. I remember this from our Mediterranean cruise, and I meant to look it up but never did. What is The Friends of Dr. Bob and Bill W Meeting about? I have looked it up now, Alcoholics Anonymous and the the two named were the founders of the organisation. At sea without a drop of rum? I don't think so.

Of course we interacted with people on the ship. It is unavoidable. It is normal to greet people as you come across them in the long corridors and people and generally everyone was so friendly. There was the Riverina Couple, the Ballarat Couple and a few others. Val from Ulverstone who's daughter lives in Geelong and works in South Melbourne. I met a Melbourne train driver, so that was interesting for me.

And then there was Steam Train Man, so called by me because he emitted huge clouds of vapour as his vaped away. He was in his thirties and one night he asked if he could join me when I was sitting alone watching the big screen. His name was Rob and he was kind of attractive, well he could have been if he wasn't trying to downplay his rich man private school boy status with daggy clothing. But he could not make himself talk in an Ocker Australian accent. We had a great chat for a couple of hours, and yes, alcohol was involved, loosening tongues, as it happens. His parents and his grandmother had booked the cruise for themselves and sadly his not so old father died, so Rob came on the cruise with his mother and grandmother.

The next night again I was watching the big screen but with R there too. Rob joined us and again a lovely and interesting chat but we wore R out and he went to bed. I stayed on for a bit until I wore Rob out and apart from a casual passing hi, we never spoke to Rob again.

Oh bless. Home. Let me off, pronto, rapide, schnell, rapido, snel!