Saturday, May 04, 2019

This week's flowers

The tulips looked absolutely at their prime when I took the photo one evening. R subsequently straightened up the leaning miscreant. By the next evening they were cactus. A quick death is not a bad thing. It's hard to believe how quickly it can happen.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Notre Dame, 30th April, 1969

The Vietnamese war was very present in my childhood. I think by the age of ten I already thought it was terribly wrong. Would I have been an independent thinker back then? Not likely. Someone or something influenced me. Once I began secondary school in 1969, my classmates had older siblings to sway their opinions and my classmates, and teachers I think, were very much against the futile and most horrible war for all involved.

Over the years I have read and learnt a lot about the Vietnamese War and my opinion of the wrongs of it have been fortified.

But one thing I did not know was that on 30th April 1969 a North Vietnamese supporter climbed the Notre Dame spire and raised the (North?) Vietnam flag. The colonial French in Indochina were generally not kind masters to the local population. It is amazing that after the French fled, the US interfered and began their own war there.

The chap who raised the flag on the Cathedral spire cut the ladder on his way down and the French Government had to hire a helicopter to remove the flag. Respect, man.

Great reading is the historical novel, Saigon. A paste of a book review.

Joseph Sherman first visits Saigon, the capital of French colonial Cochin-China, in 1925 on a hunting expedition with his father, a US senator. He is lured back again and again as a traveler, a soldier, and then as a reporter by his fascination for the exotic land and for Lan, a mandarin’s daughter he cannot forget. Over five decades Joseph’s life becomes enmeshed with the political intrigues of two of Saigon’s most influential families, the French colonist Devrauxs, and the native Trans―and inevitably with Vietnam’s turbulent, war torn fate. He is there when the hatred of a million coolies rises against the French, and when the French Foreign Legion fights it’s bloody last stand at Dien Bien Phu.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Tech Troubles

Yes, we all have them. For some reason I cannot get the Westpac Bank app on my phone to work for me. I will go to the bank and someone will clue me up. I have four digit PIN for my card, and a password for online banking, but the app wants some six digit or password. I don't have a clue and so much is greyed out when I try to sign up.

ABI somehow managed to set up a second identity on his desktop. He keeps getting out of his main identity and twice I have gotten him back to his right identity, but the last time he signed out of Google/Gmail and had forgotten his password. At the same time I tried to set up the tablet his phone company gave him for free. I went through the lost password process, expecting it to be easy. It wasn't. Believe me, your Google account is very secure.

I reached the Google Account Recovery page. Various question are asked. The date when you set up your Gmail. No idea. Text verification to your phone. The phone number was his landline, which won't accept texts. Recovery email address, our old ISP email address which no longer works. Last password you can remember using did not help.

I went to the online forum. This all happened over a number of days. Essentially, if you can't do any of these things, your account is lost. One piece of advice was, it can be helpful if you use the computer where it is normally used, I suppose IP address, that you normally use. But that did not seem to help either today.

I could get a code sent to our email address to unlock his account, but I am not a trusted person. I tried the account recovery several times, to no avail.

I was just about to tell him today that all is lost, when I saw something. Send a text unlock code to the phone number, which would not work, but I had missed the call the phone button. I clicked, his phone rang and an auto system gave a code and hallelujah, it worked. I had to enter a new password and I was into his Gmail. I did not really look at his emails but I did note his lust for Dannii Minogue has not abated. He has not had access to his email for about three weeks, and there were not many new emails. I would have hundreds if not thousands.

I changed the recovery email address to ours, and the recovery phone number to my mobile. It shouldn't happen again.

I had already set up his tablet for him, with a button to click for Chrome browser and another for Gmail. I explained to him about holding down a button for the mouse right click menu. I also suggested he buy a stylus if he becomes serious about using the tablet. I told him about the clicking on the eye to see the password rather than seeing *****.

In spite of all that, he will remain computer illiterate. He can browse and do email but if something doesn't work, he won't investigate. He won't look around or go through processes. That is ok. Big Brother will fix any problems, and he did.

Forgotten Ferry Business

When we were on our return trip on the Sydney ferry from Manly, we sat up front in the open. I noticed a sign that said 'Area subject to spray'.  It can be rough when the ferry crosses the open water between the heads but sadly was not so rough this day. Nevertheless, a bit of spray did come and sprinkle us. Everyone took it in good humour with some laughter.

Then suddenly we were dumped on by a big wave. We were seriously wet. Inside passengers were in hysterics at our sad situation. I had a salt encrusted pair of sunglasses and phone screen.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Funiculi, Funicular

As you may know, I do like a good funicular.

We know a few Maries, so when I am speaking to R I have to refer Marie in London as Marie in London, except she doesn't actually live in London proper, but he knows who I mean.

Marie has been taking some leisurely strolls with her walking group who meet at a different location each year. When I say leisurely, I mean like 16 or more kilometres (10 mile) per day and often over steep terrain. They stay in local village and town accommodation each night and set off after breakfast, often with a packed lunch . Their little luxury is to have the luggage transported each day to the new location.

This year's walk is along the stunningly rugged northern coast of Devon in England. You can follow her walk at her blog. I think she has completed the walk now and is home.

It must a be few weeks since I mentioned a funicular, the cable car in Wellington, New Zealand.

I was looking at the path her group were following on Google Maps and one place where they stayed overnight. There was a map marker locating the Lynton Cliff Railway. That sounds interesting. I was on to it. The website for the railway says it is the highest and steepest water fully water powered funicular in the world and one of only three remaining in the world. Don't ask me how it works. I kind of know but I couldn't explain it as it would require me to think, which I do try to avoid. I was pleased that Marie and her walking comrades used the railway. In case you have forgotten, a funicular is for hills, and the weight of the carriage descending helps the ascending car up and the ascending car brakes the descending carriage. Balance is a wonderful thing.

So, take a look at the Lynton Cliff Railway. If you are like me and have a low boredom threshold for such videos, watch a bit of the carriage ascending and then skip to three minutes to see stunning views from an ascending carriage. The blonde woman with the white top at the beginning looks thoroughly bored, but she does show interest once the carriage is moving.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Mother's local Labor Party candidate came a'calling to my Brother's place where Mother now lives. She had a good long chat to him and really liked him and has decided to postal vote for him. This is a change in history for Mother, as I believe she has usually voted for the Liberal(conservative)/National(country party) coalition.

Her parents for some odd reason voted for the Democratic Labour Party, a party with worker sympathies but conservative Catholic social mores, although they were Protestant.

She is in the new Federal Seat of Latrobe and Simon Curtis must be the local Labor candidate. Like her shallow son who would vote on looks (not really), Mother at this election will change her vote because the local Labor candidate was so charming and listened with intent and respect to all her old lady whinging and moaning. Actually, knowing my mother, she well may have been on the charm offensive herself. Underestimate my frail old mother at your peril.

When we at the zoo last Saturday, Hippie Niece told me and Ex Sis in Law told R that Tradie Brother's beloved dog is dying from cancer. He is mostly Labrador, but not a big dog and as we say in Australia, he was as fit as a Mallee bull. He was only six years old. We saw him on Sunday and he was fine, although had seemed to have lost condition a bit. He was expected to live for less than three months. Tradie Brother called me this afternoon to tell me his dog died at 6pm last night.  His dog was running around in the morning and quite ok. In the evening he wandered about the backyard for a resting place and died of natural causes, probably an organ failure. The love between Tradie Brother and his dog was something quite special and I feel so sorry for my brother. He asked me to tell Sister, ABI Brother and Mother. I guess he doesn't trust himself to not crack up if he spoke to them. Friends had invited him around this afternoon and he was going. Better that he has company when he drinks himself stupid in his grief.

I haven't been to my skin doctor for a couple of years. Today he burnt areas of concern off me with liquid nitrogen and three areas he was concerned about will have to be biopsied, which he will do in a couple of weeks.

I go back to work for nine weeks next Tuesday but I am not caring about taking sick leave for medical appointments. I used to try arrange them on my days off. At my age, I have to see doctors often enough and I know it only gets worse as you get older. 

My last usual doctor visit had him a little concerned about my blood pressure, in spite of the medication I take. The time before, when I was working, it was fine. I have been monitoring my blood pressure with R's machine that he no longer uses and it is all over the place, just like Mother's. I too have her same itchy back, which I try not to scratch in case it becomes an unattractive habit I do in public.

Sydney Day 2

What to do with a short spare day in Sydney? Go to Manly for lunch by ferry of course.

This is where I conducted my business at our Sydney apartment. The balcony is large enough for another of these settings and the other balcony could have held at least the table and a chair. One item of business conducted was to text Victor about arrangements for the night's spectacular West Side Story on Sydney Harbour. Once that was sorted and an early dinner arranged, I emailed James to ask if he would like to join us for dinner at the ungodly hour of 5.30. Pleasingly, he said yes.

Rainbow pedestrian path at the Pullman Hotel next door.

We caught the train from Museum Station to Circular Quay. I would have liked to stay aboard to see this intriguingly named suburb, Welcome Aboard. It does sound friendly.

Such signs for seats for the less well abled are often convoluted or too specific.  This is simple language and covers everything.

The former Customs House is a wonderful public asset, with really interesting exhibitions, often with a historical focus.

There'd be people on top of the bridge arch.

Friendship is a First Class catamaran ferry.

Very shabby and dated up close, but what a delightful vision the opera house is from a distance.

As usual Fusion Point in Manly did not disappoint with its food, service and ambiance. It is way cheaper than restaurants on South Steyne, facing the beach and Pacific Ocean as pictured below. Plenty of surfers were out and plenty of shirtless trim young men lazed on the beach. I averted my eyes, of course.

We weren't in a hurry. We wandered up streets to the western side of The Corso and to our surprise, there was a whole world of cafes we did not know about. I loved these what I assume are newspaper headlines.  Bloomin' Marvellous Colours sounds like a quote from gardening guru and former tv presenter, Peter Cundall.

That wasn't very successful. Manly residents are primarily older, straight and wealthy people, but still, rather ambitious for 1954.

Surfing rabbit told to hop it! What was that about.

MP's pour cold water on it, almost as much as Flying Fish hit Manly Ferry Trumpeter.

Wow, the Queen Mother loved Manly when she visited. She must have been served a very good gin.

Wow, what is behind this headline? A piano on a ferry? Swept upwards? 

This is the the Manly Pavillion.  I am not sure what it is used for and it looked rather deserted and unloved.

Nearby is a small public art gallery, and we had time to visit. It was free, donations welcome, and it was interesting enough, with a local focus. These are old surfboards, heavy and cumbersome.

Is that our ferry back to the city? I am not sure. I knew the ferry departure times, so no rush.

A bathing area protected by shark nets.

This is certainly our ferry arriving, The Collaroy, the same ferry as we arrived on and it is a Freshwater Class ferry. There is talk of that class of ferry being retired. More on that in a future post.

While he was a person of his time, the first British Governor of Sydney Admiral Arthur Phillip wasn't a bad man. He interrupted a beached whale feast by an Aboriginal tribe at Manly and was speared in the shoulder for his trouble.

Betty's Burger I get. But "& Concrete Company", nah. If it is for publicity reasons, it worked.

My idea of how to canoe.

The New South Wales Roads and Motoring Association has set up a fast ferry service from Manly to the city in competition with the government owned Manly Ferry. This is rather curious to me. I think the ferry takes a bit over 30 minutes and the fast ferry, about 20. Local Manly people like the faster ferry. More on that in future post too.

Back at the Quay.

Still some barrier fencing at the War Memorial. Will it ever end?

Rainbow flags sticking out a few floors below us. Our apartment is the perfect place for Mardi Gras Parade viewing as you would be able to watch them set up in Hyde Park, and then start marching along Oxford Street. I would guess the apartment is booked out well in advance for Mardi Gras.

Busy, busy, down below.

Griffiths Tea and the former Sydney department store institution, Mark Foys.

We met Victor for dinner at 5.30 at an Asian restaurant just a few doors from our hotel. Soon after, James joined us and stayed for a couple of drinks but not dinner. It was terribly early to dine. So far, bloggers I have met have been exactly like they are on their blog. James was no exception and the conversation flowed easily. He is a nice bloke, confirmed by R's opinion later, who also said how he really liked Victor.

A taxi cab to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, and what a setting it is, with the backdrop of the city, the Bridge and the Opera House.

We loved the show. There were only a couple of down numbers that I didn't enjoy. The first part was longish, and the second mercifully short as the seating is hard plastic chairs and was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Why didn't we remember from last year and take cushions? Nevertheless, what a spectacle it was. I wonder how the numbers will match last years adapted to the 1970s performance we saw, La Boheme, and what might be on offer next year.

We had to wait ages for the shuttle bus to take us to where Victor's car was parked. That could be better done, and of course the traffic congestion was heavy. Victor kindly drove us back to our hotel and we arrived about 45 minutes after the performance ended, which is normally an eight minute drive. Yes, we should have walked. Thank you Victor and thank you James for helping to make our Sydney visit so enjoyable.

We slept the sleep of the innocent and were back home the next evening and all was back to normal.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Officially Old

I know I am officially old as a beggar today told me so. I arrived in town just as a business in Chinatown was going up in smoke.

I encountered an ever so polite beggar when shopping last Friday, and after I murmured no to her request for money, she said, thank you Sir, have a good day. If it was a tactic to work in the future should I see her again, it may well work.

Not so the lad today sitting in Elizabeth Street in the city. I really don't know what I did wrong. Did he ask for money? If he did, I didn't hear him. I was preoccupied with my phone as I walked past him. I deliberately remained preoccupied with my phone as he called me an effing old c**t.  I had to wait for the walk light at the intersection, and he was still screaming out at me. I crossed the road and started walking up the right angle street, and still he was screaming at me but the voice was becoming more distant, so he was not about to stab me in the back.

Did it upset me? Yes, big time. If that was his intent, it worked. Beggars seem to target me. I am not sure why.

I had an appointment and I did not want to be late. Had I have had more time, I would have gone to the opposite side of the street and taken a photo of him and sent it to the police.  I avoided the corner upon my return, but from the other side of the street, he was gone.

This is my city, my town. I will not be intimidated from going out and about but geez, that was really not nice today. I've experienced worse in Acland Street, St Kilda once and I did call the police and he was picked up.

Monday Mural

Seen in Manly, Sydney. I love the cockatoo.

Sunday, April 28, 2019


I hoped to have our second day in Sydney post up but I am so tired, I can't deal with photos. We had a family day at the zoo today, and tomorrow another family day for the parade in the town where Mother and ABI Brother live and where my siblings grew up.

The aforesaid was wonderful, as I am sure this Sunday will be. R is very tired and snappy and we argued about nothing aside from the ethnic origins of a person we knew while we munched on a delivered pizza. I say she is French Canadian, he says she is North American. Well R, you are wrong, and if you were right, with her name, she would come from somewhere like Louisiana, certainly not New York. She is French Canadian born.

I received a metaphorical slap across the face for being a smartarse bitch. He hates me being right about everything!!! End of conversation. At the age of 70, R needs lots of sleep. He didn't have enough today.

Ah, on the tram to the zoo today, he did sit next to the oldest supermarket checkout chick in Australia today, the something like 88 year old Brenda at Coles in Malvern.