Saturday, August 24, 2019

Travelling Companions

There were 39 people in our tour group. As the second pick up point, we were down the back of the bus. One man was behind us and shortly after out guide introduced himself, the man called the guide to the back of the bus. The guided returned to the man with what turned out to be a garbage bag. Just two seats behind us, the man vomited for two hours solid. The noise of him puking got to me. The smell got to R.

He was clearly very unwell. While we saw Stonehenge, he went and bought a burger and a milk drink and subsequently vomited for the next hour on the coach. He was diabetic too, so our guide took him to Accident and Emergency in Bath and he rejoined us a few days later I think in Liverpool. He was a troublesome person in more ways than one. More to come about Joe.

Most of the tour group were from The States and sadly some quite a few of them fitted the stereotypes. One couple were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary and bragged about it. I did not tell them that R and myself have been together for forty years. She and and he were big units and she always wore a tee praising the lord, or some other religious slogan. Trumpet voters, I suspect.

Another was in his mid forties and incredibly handsome and a total bore as he banged on about war service in the Middle East, serving in Germany and Scotland with US Forces. He was a non functioning person and his wife did everything for him. All he had to do was be where he was told to be at the right time. Did I mention he was terribly good looking?

There were the mother and son from New Jersey. He was pretty hot in a lanky marine kind of way and favoured singlets and shorts as his preferred dress. I don't mind seeing young skin. His accent was fairly neutral, but his mother's accent sounded like she came from The Bronx. I am not sure that we earned her eternal gratitude when we found her lost phone on the coach.

I should not judge a country by one person, but oh the super arrogant Swiss man. He would have been mid thirties, his Canadian/Asian wife of plain looks a similar age. Physical assault is not usually at the fore of my mind, but I felt like punching him in the face at times. I pointed out something to his Canadian wife, saying doesn't that look like an Inuksuk? She said sorry, I don't know what that is. A fine Canadian citizen.

There was an Canadian/Asian couple. They were ok. There was a younger French Canadian couple who kept to themselves. While she could speak English, I don't think he could. From Montreal I think.

There was a three generation family from Eastern Europe? Grandma maybe my age, daughter and granddaughter. They were all slim and so fit and walked and walked.

There was a chap, European born, moved to Canada and married a woman of Indian heritage and they moved to Florida. They were quite nice. I heard at some point he came from Hungary to Canada. Then I heard heard him talking to the above mentioned family in a foreign language. Hungarian is a language all on its own, so I guess that is where the multi generational family came from.

Another couple came from Florida. They were my age and terribly fit and out and about walking and seeing things early in the morning, in spite of him drinking triple techilas with his dinner, and she have a good drink too. She could be a bit loud at times in that American way (sorry), but I had a couple of really nice chats to her and I liked her and she showed concern for us.

Stereotypes are often valid, but don't take them down to a personal level.

Also along for the ride was our tour guide's sister. They are South African born and quite English. She was nice enough and I noted took a lot of detailed hand written notes. I've probably forgotten some people. No matter. We did not really connect with anyone.

Our travel group last year in South Africa was nicer.

Gattina will know all about coach seat rotation but again on this trip it failed, with a favoured couple up front twice. Not as bad as in South Africa though.

Friday, August 23, 2019


Dearest Elephant's Child, did you send your vandals down south to massacre our potted cacti? The pleasure of see the sulphur crested cockatoos land on our balcony was short lived as one quickly dived and snipped off some cactus before I could say oh. I indicated to them I was a little cross and so they left the plant but hung around for a while. Still, it was not like the damage they made some 15 plus years ago when they massacred a plant and knocked the pot off the table and it smashed.

Better cockatoo visiting photos than these are back here.

National Gallery

I thought I felt ok to go out today, but given I took about a dozen photos for the whole day, perhaps not. I managed. No need to offer sympathy. It's just by way of explanation that we would have liked to have done a lot more in London but we weren't up to it.

While we have been before R wanted to visit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It was the usual 422 to the station and the Jubilee line to Waterloo to change to the Bakerloo line to Charing Cross.

Good to see some of these still around. Many have been converted to Wifi hotspots.

Just a few paintings at the gallery I liked. My heart really wasn't in it.

The gallery is a glorious building. Both it and the Museum of London are free but certainly at M of L where staff actually approach you and ask for a £5 donation and at the National Gallery, where the suggested donation is $5, the pressure to donate is high and many do. I would be prepared to make a £2 donation, but £2 coins seem rare in England.

Marie had warned us in advance that Trafalgar Square was cordoned off for a live broadcast of a cricket match between Australia and England. My god, people by the hundreds were streaming in to presumably soak up the atmosphere as they watched the match on a very large screen.

I wouldn't call him a porky lad and he looked fit enough, but he only made it to 1 minute and 35 seconds. Obviously it is not easy.

At a station somewhere.

I had an idea of going to Greenwich for another wander. Ok, Charing Cross using the Southeastern line to London Bridge and then Thameslink to Greenwich, but using Overground Trains, not The Tube. All very confusing. Back down into the Tube at Charing Cross, but this is not right. This is not the station we needed. I remembered there is a Boots (pharmacy) nearby in the Strand. We bought some medication. Here is the right station at Charing Cross.

We didn't end up going to Greenwich but back to our hotel and slept for a couple of hours. It was an early start the next day when our tour picked us up at the hotel at 7am. 

It was Sunday and I felt like a decent meal and R did too, like a lovely English pub Sunday roast. Could we manage to walk to The Pilot pub, perhaps a kilometre away. I ummed and ahhed. Finally I said yes. We arrived just after six and and were greeted with, sorry Sirs, meals finished at six. We ate back at the hotel and were in bed early.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tim Fischer

Possibly homophobic, a staunch Catholic and anti same sex marriage. His political views were opposed to mine. Why would I like Tim Fischer, a former high flying politician?

Well, he was very decent bloke. He was kind. He was charitable. He was generous. He has just died, probably from the result of cancers caused by the wicked dumping of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War when he was a decorated soldier.

I've heard anecdotes and I am still hearing them and reading about what he did for society over his lifetime. One magnificent task was supporting former PM John Howard's gun control laws after the Tasmanian massacre while he was a leader of a party made up of farmers.

His mind had extraordinary recall and I used to think he was on the autism spectrum. If it is inherited, then it was not a surprise that his son was born autistic when Tim married late in life.

If you like trains, if you like old and new trains, if you are interested in public transport, if you like hearing about overseas trains, if you have an interest in trams, if you like hearing about transport museums, then Tim was you go to bloke and while Our ABC has changed the web address many times, his various episodes of The Great Train Show are still online.

Vale Tim.


Although I haven't worked for some time my last official day at work was Saturday past. Tuesday I went into to work to finalise matters and clear out my work locker. I used to use my locker a lot, but over the past decade or more not so much as I don't work times where I have to eat at work, and if I do, there are many places to chose buy cheap, good and bad food and almost acceptable coffee for $1 a cup from a machine means I don't even bother making my own.

My locker turned out to be a bit of cave of my work history. Here are a few photos, not so clear. I badly need a new camera and I'm about to do something about that.

The huge card must have had 100 messages written, with quite a number from people who I have no idea who they are. Some messages were really so sweet and I felt quite humbled. There was also the gift of a wallet in a metal case. The champagne sparkling wine I won in a raffle I never entered. Go figure.

The glass had a dead blow fly inside. I hated the thick and chunky mug on the left. I loved the black mug and I was shattered when the handle snapped off. We had a set of six at home in the '80s. I'm not sure how old the Yarra Trams mug is, but it lists many places where good coffee was to be had in Melbourne.  The Band Aids are of the type that still had the red pull thread to open them. The Disprin expiry date was 2004. The jar of instant coffee is Nescafe and it was bought very cheaply at South Melbourne Market more than a decade ago. It is from Indonesia and is quite different to our local Nescafe, a little darker, stronger and bitter. I had a cup of it a few months ago and it was fine.

It's a pity the crossword at the back isn't visible but it is similar to the one in the second photo. Bar two words, it is completely filled in. I thought it was older but is from 1996. As you can see, I had a spare crossword, just in case I had some idle time.

It looks like I filled in the top part of this one fully. It is funny to remember sitting down and concentrating on something other than the internet, your Kindle or your phone. 

I should have gone to work at a quieter time when there would be less workmates around to wish me well. The boss at work wished me well, my immediate superior carried out the short finish work questionnaire, debrief and a friendly chat. It was somewhat emotional saying goodbye to workmates and caught me unawares. I also learnt that the other person at work who received a gold watch for 40 years service now has early dementia. 

Once home my eyes welled up, but there was one last thing to do. I sent my former superior, a lovely dyke who has just added another son to her family, a nice message and she responded in kind. Much earlier than usual, I poured myself a glass of wine before five o'clock. It was a bit of a rough day.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Stopped train

Metro Trains advises there is a delay to services on such and such line due to trespasser on the train tracks. Police are assisting.

Well, that it something like the message comes from Metro Trains Twitter feed. What actually happens when there is an trespasser is that trains are halted until police arrive and remove the person. This could take up to an hour but usually less.

Of course no one wants their train to hit and probably kill anyone. These may well be people with thoughts of suicide by train. But why stop the trains? Surely they could proceed slowly at say 20 km/h.  Halting trains causes such a flow on mayhem.

It is not like the London Tube where there is the electrified third rail that powers trains and anyone down on the tracks is at grave risk.

Museum of London

Oh gosh, we are both so unwell. It was a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Our joints and muscles seemed to be not working.

But like you are going spend a day in London lying about in a hotel and feeling sorry for yourself. No!

Sister told us about the free Museum of London. Well, like the National Gallery, it is free but you are certainly pressed to donate £5 for your visit.

Our usual 422 bus to North Greenwich and then the Jubilee Line (sorry I keep mentioning the lines but if I don't write them here I will forget) and then a change at London Bridge to the Northern Line to Moorgate, except............

Well, as R said to Marie the day before, I get public transport and directions right 90% of the time.  Today was the 10%. R hopped aboard the Northern Line train at London Bridge and the doors closed in my face. He was on his own with no idea of where he was going. I caught the next train to the next station where I expected he would have gotten off, but no, no sign of him as he didn't realise I wasn't on the train for a couple of stations. I am not sure if he was panicking, but I was. There was not a phone signal underground so once I reached Moorgate, I surfaced and tried to call him. Stay calm Captain Mainwaring. I did not and kept trying to call him and receiving weird messages about costs of such a call. Fu Damn, I was trying to call his Australian phone number, not his English phone number. R eventually answered his phone and he was back at London Bridge. He caught the next train to Moorgate and I was so relieved to see him. All he said, well that wasn't a good start.

Well, I got this right. We caught the 76 bus one long stop the Museum.

Yeah, too right. I agree.

We had coffee and then set off to explore the Museum. The address of the Museum is The Wall. That would be the Roman wall, built when? A very long time ago.

A bit out of order but we were in London not long after Gay Pride.

I have no memory of this old motor car. The museum was quite good. I've heard a lot of London Roman history. I was more interested in the big blaze and the plague.

There was probably a quicker and better way to go, but we caught the bus back to Moorgate, the Northern Line to Bank and changed to the DLR. At the bus stop we had a good view of the Roman wall.

Yep, 90% of the time I get things right but again I got it wrong by chancing it with the next Docklands Light Rail that arrived, bound for Lewisham. We had to backtrack to Westferry and then to Royal Victoria Dock. R wanted to travel back home via the chairlift Emirates Air Line over The Thames. Random photos.

The omnipresent O2.

The omnipresent gasometer.

We hadn't done much but we were exhausted. We ate a quite nice meal in the hotel bar and we were early to bed. Tomorrow is our last day in London.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sunday Selections, late

It is 5am here Monday morning, but the blogging world knows no borders or time zones, so it is still Sunday in some places in the world.

Just a few random photos. These reflections only happens in early winter and again in late winter.

You would not believe the mayhem that this driver in the red car caused.

The driver wanted to turn right and should have been where the closer black car is waiting for the green arrow.

These always fascinate me when I see them flower. I am not sure if the plant dies after flowering.

While the boulevard looks wonderful when the trees are covered in fresh green leaves, I like it also in its winter bareness and I can see things that I can't when the trees are in leaf. Elms are on the outer edge and London Plane Trees in the centre.


The road is not too busy. I will just step around then shall I?

More mayhem down below caused by a so called professional truck driver being on the tram tracks waiting to turn right. He blocked trams in both directions and right turning motorists were not game to make the right turn as he did. 

That kind of stupidity can lead to this, a long line of cars banked up waiting to turn right into Toorak Road. #Rule128 See the cars illegally queued across the intersection. There is large fine for this offence, but has anyone ever been fined? I think not.

Heating hastens. Bought closed Friday. Opening Friday night when photo was taken. Saturday looking really good. Sunday, just perfect. By Tuesday they will be cactus.

It is bit hard to see but the bloke leading in the pink jacket is wearing gold lame pants. The woman trailing is wearing a gold lame jacket. Just another working day in St Kilda Road.

R stays up later than I do and so as not to disturb me he uses headphones to listen to his tv in his bedroom. While our apartment adjoining walls are very thick, the internal room walls are not. He was finding his old set bought for $50 quite a number of years ago at Aldi on the Bellarine were increasingly uncomfortable, with the ear foam parts wearing out. I am not saying how much he paid for these at Norma Harvey's but they had been reduced by $90. The set up was easy and he is very happy.

His bedroom tv is getting on a bit and is not a smart tv. While he does have a digital recorder connected he thought it would be good to use the home wifi to watch whatever programme he wanted using the home wifi, so we bought a Google Chromecast for $50, which plugs into the power and an HDMI input on the tv. It was a bit of an impromptu purchase and I have should have done some research. Once set up all I could see was access to Stan, Netflix and Youtube. R wants our free to air tv and to watch what he wants when he wants without recording. I had downloaded the control app to his phone.  I had to Guffle a bit and found out I had to download apps to his phone of each of our five free to air stations. It works quite well really, but much to R's disappointment, he cannot fast forward through commercial tv ads as he can with his digital recorder.  

Saturday the Hong Kong students in Melbourne were revolting as we sat and drank coffee but nothing like Friday night when it really kicked off between Hong Kongese and Chinese mainland students and the cops were caught unawares. I am so fearful about what will happen in Hong Kong.

Clouds, blue sky, bright evening light. What can one say?