Saturday, September 07, 2019

Snogging a bit of rock

Travelling south west from Dublin we stopped off to see the Waterford Crystal factory. While some Waterford is now made in Europe, this is still the Waterford 'head office'. In the early 80s in Christchurch, New Zealand, we bought a Waterford crystal decanter duty free for about AU$170, a lot of money then, and we still have it on the auto trolley full, or at times not so full, with sherry. No one told us it should not go in the dishwasher and while it looks fine, on close inspection it is not.  Crystal is not fashionable now and Mother has a trolley load full in her house that has to be gotten rid of somehow. Waterford was a nice little town and we had a pleasant lunch.

Take care when you step out your front door. Still, it was worse in Lisbon where a tram went past some folks front door less than a metre away.

Did Obama give it back?

Workers went about their work as we looked on. Blow man, blow.

Fashionable or not, crystal really is quite beautiful.

What is this tall building in the mural?

It'd be Blarney Castle.

What do you do at Blarney Castle? You kiss the Blarney Stone of course, that is if you are young and agile and can lie on your back after climbing quite a number of stairs. A couple of people in our group did, including the ex marine from New Jersey. Sorry, no photos of the ex marine pashing (passionately kissing) the Blarney Stone. We didn't pick up any good luck there, but then we didn't contract some horrible disease either.

I am not sure if these gardens were at Blarney Castle or nearby but they are very nice.

Wonderful stone bridge.

This was interesting. One river crosses another. I better go back and find the plaque.

It may well be that this wedding was at Blarney Castle.

But an ashtray provided just in case you tend to anarchy.

Serious lack of blue hydrangeas in England.

These are what I mentioned to the Asian Canadian woman and said they looked a little like the Canadian Indian inukshuks. She stared at me blankly and then said she did not know what an inukshuk is. That's the non English speaker from Montreal in the photo.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Houses of Dandenong Road

Dandenong Road is the principal arterial road leading to Melbourne's south east and is part of Highway 1, a series of highways and main roads running around much of Australia's coast. It has been referred to as the Great Three Chain Road, being in parts 60 metres (200 feet) wide.

Parts were once lined with very fine houses and later some rather nice apartment buildings. The area where I photographed was only about a kilometre long and has five lanes of traffic in each direction with a central grassed area with tram lines in each direction and lined with London Plane trees. Plane Trees also line the sides of the road, along with a few other odd species thrown in.

But like all over Melbourne, especially in our leafy expensive suburbs, such houses are coming down at an alarming rate, leading to drastically changed streetscapes, a huge loss of private open space and worst of all a loss of trees, grass and vegetation. Our governments argue that we need denser populations to absorb our absurdly exploding population, and so apartment buildings where once a single house stood is good policy. Our state government and local councils have very much neglected the heritage aspects that make our leafy suburbs what they are, never mind the congested roads and overcrowded public transport, schools struggling with numbers, stretched medical know what it is like. It seems to be a world problem and has eroded our standards of living.

There was quite rightly outrage when this house on the heritage register was recently legally demolished, with the local council and the state government passing the buck back and forth. While the house was not in Dandenong Road but the suburb of Hawthorn, I think I should share some photos of some of the housing along Dandenong Road between Wattletree Road and Alexandra Street before they are all demolished.

Mature trees and possibly a nice garden, lawns and the house in Hawthorn gone. Photo from The Age.

A very large Dandenong Road house. It will stay as it is part of St King David's School (omg, what a clanger that would have been if it passed the keeper).

Here is a paste from a real estate site in perhaps 2002. "Frank Tate House" One of the last opportunities to purchase a grand un-renovated mansion in Armadale Rich in history the property was originally named "Noorilim" and was the residence of William Winter Irving MLC. Following this it became the Rio Grande Hotel/Guesthouse before passing to the Education Department in 1950 and being renamed Frank Tate House after the first Director General of Education in Victoria in 1902. Ideally located between Hampden and Denbigh Roads on a magnificent allotment of 4,100 square metres approximately (44,000 square feet) this grand late 1800's Victorian mansion is currently student accommodation but the possibilities are endless (subject to council approval), including: * Restoring the home as a residence * Development potential * Aged care facility * Educational facility. 

This is the type of apartment building replacing the old homes, occupied by older people (wealthy widows) who no longer want a large house and wealthy Asian immigrants. Strange mix really.

It is very hard to do much with a block of flats if they are individually owned as a very high percentage of owners have to agree to sell. If these are individually owned, then I expect the block will be safe. Quite spacious inside I should think.

Bit hard to see, but I expect it will go in time.

This is not so old but my absolute favourite. It was probably built in the 1940s. Nicely proportioned and now well maintained. It was a little neglected at one time but repairs were made and it reappeared from a very overgrown garden. 

This is one I feel no sentiment about. I think it is apartments. Let it go. Developers do your worst.

What a weird little house, well medical place I think.

Not bad apartments. It appears the third storey was added later.

Fine Art Deco.

Unlike England's Tudor houses, ours are very neat and straight. I'd like this one to stay.

I can picture the interiors of these apartments. Very nice indeed. Late 40s or early 50s.

I'll just throw in from left field this Italianate? house with the gorgeous magnolia that can be seen from our apartment. Rarely driving the car now, I am out of touch with bloomings and so I was surprised to see this normally late bloomer in full display. Magnolias and many other spectacular flowering trees are being lost in the race to demolish 150 year old Melbourne housing and build a brand new city of buildings that will be demolished in 30 years.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Good Deed

We did a good turn today, taking old towels and a couple of picnic blankets to the Gracie Street Lost Dogs Home. R agreed that we hadn't used the picnic blankets for years and that if he sat down on one on the ground, he would not be able to get up without help.

Quelle horreur, I had to drive through the city and into unfamiliar northern suburbs. My thoughts of taking the tram and train as I have in the past was killed by the volume of old stuffs. For our good turn, I was pulled up by the police, before noon, breathalysed and my driving licence checked. The cop was polite and friendly and I really don't have a problem with being pulled up, but was I targeted? As R said, there were other cars who could have been pulled over. Why us? Are two older men in an average five year old car suspicious? Maybe, but I can't think why. Is it like Border Control in Ireland where being seen by your average person being proactive is a good thing to make the public feel safe?

There was almost a parking incident at the Lost Dog's Home where I and another driver travelling in opposite directions both saw a vacant parking space at the same time and we put on our indicators at the same time. I pulled in as I thought I had a little more right as the space was on my side of the road. It was a hard call really. I think he was a bit cross.

After leaving I managed to find a tram line and so I knew where I was. We had a very nice lunch in Errol Street, North Melbourne.

Ah, I didn't mention that I had to be at the Alfred Hospital by 8:30 this morning. In the fullness of time, but I won't be dying any time soon. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

One sausage or two

A while ago we established by general agreement that it is acceptable to eat cold leftover pizza for breakfast. Maybe you don't agree or didn't back then.

Here in Australia at what I refer to as the big green hardware shed, at weekends there are normally charity fundraisers for different organisations each day. Funds are raised by selling a single barbequed sausage in a roll, with or without fried onions and your choices of a few sauces, at times used to give it some taste as quality of the sausages varies, as does the skill of the chef. They also sell cans of soft drink (pop). Sorry vegos, there isn't alternative to a beef sausage.

R participates in one of these for his volunteer organisation about one or twice a year. The food is usually donated by local businesses and I think the gas is donated by the hardware store and they make two to three thousand dollars, a lot at $2.50 per sausage.

We hadn't eaten much and I think we did something ever so naughty. We bought a sausage on our way into the store and another as we left about 15 minutes later. We felt very guilty.

Has anyone else ever done this? Acceptable or gluttony?

Random Thoughts About the UK

It is noisy, rough, hot, there is a lot of walking involved, ofen with stairs but London's Tube train system is brilliant at moving millions of people around the city daily. To have a great understanding of the different lines and how they all intersect and where you can change and where it is quicker to walk must be a wonderful thing, and I know many people do have this knowledge.

Marie remarked to R how she loves The Tube. By the end of our time in London R said, Marie can have her Tube. I don't like it. I think the Jubilee Line which we used frequently is one of the busier lines but not the busiest. Even though there is a train every few minutes, it was always crowded, standing room only when we boarded at North Greenwich.

When we returned to London after our UK tour and were stuck in stop start traffic in our coach, I remarked to R, it would be good if we could get off and catch The Tube.  He gave me a dirty look.

Within greater London there is also the overground train system and national rail and it is so complicated to a stranger. It would be easier to use terms suburban trains and regional trains.

The stored value Oyster Card system works well, although who can work out on which buses you to scan off and which you don't. You have to watch out when using the Docklands Light Rail as there aren't barriers to open when you scan your Oyster, only a single? point as you enter the station area and they can be easy to miss when you are concentrating on where you going.

As I said, the heat at the underground stations and on the trains makes for an unpleasant trip. Air conditioned trains are being built and in service now, but I don't believe it is possible for all trains to have air con because of the very tight tunnel clearances. The open windows facing the direction of travel did let in a huge flow of fresh air and R one day ended with what I called Tube Hair.

Not too many buses seemed to have air con either and there is no excuse for that. Even the new Routemasters (Boris Buses) buses don't have aircon. Absurd.

Often on buses people would crowd the lower floor and not climb upstairs. An unwritten rule should be for younger people to go upstairs if they are travelling any distance and leave the down stairs seats for the less abled. Speaking of which, about twice each we were offered seats by someone and they were usually getting off at the next stop or station. Young people thought nothing of stepping in front of you to take a vacant seat as you were moving to towards it. It is a generalisation but I think here in Melbourne as an older person, you are more likely to be offered a seat.

But generally people are super polite in GB, at times annoyingly so. I shouldn't be such an old grump. We never felt unsafe anywhere we went, although we were on the tourist trails.

London is a very multicultural city and seems quite harmonious. Yes, I know there are problems at times and in some areas, but you don't have that feeling as you move around the city.

Now to phones. I don't think we need to qualify with mobile/cell anymore. Many people using The Tube used their phones but passively for listening to music. There isn't phone reception in The Tube, although I think there may be Wifi and perhaps that has something to do with it. But even on the street, people weren't walking along slowly while staring at their phone screens as they frustratingly do here. When in the company of R's family up north, while people would check their phones in company, that is all they would do. They weren't using them obsessively as people do here in Australia. Our Friend in Japan when she was last in Australia remarked how frustrating phone usage is on the streets. Of course sometimes pedestrians are using them for directions, as we did in the UK.

I did not like the early BBC news on tv. It was so slow and boring. The BBC News at 10 was much more what we are used to at home. When I heard a BBC reporter refer to vertigo for weed pickers at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, I was very disappointed. Vertigo is not a fear of heights.

What else.... the Docklands Light Rail, DLR is a driverless train with an attendant who can manually drive the train if they have to. The Jubilee Line, London's newest Tube line, is also a driverless train but there is a driver there ready to intervene if necessary. The driving had me puzzled until I found out it was automatic. There were instances where it would brake and then speed up and then brake again. If there was a driver at the controls, they would have just coasted.

Obesity: If you live in London and regularly use The Tube, you are probably not obese. Like inner city Sydney people, Londoners walk, a lot, and even older people are generally slim, trim and fit.

I've been to many places in the world where there have been wars, but learning about and seeing Northern Ireland was truly scary.

To wrap, here is a short video of me 'driving' the Docklands Light Rail. Hey, the windscreen wiper is in front of me, I must be driving.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019


As we left the ferry when we arrived in Dublin our tour guide told us it is very rare to be checked by Irish Border Security, but all we threatening older western country people having a cheap UK coach tour were checked, lest one of us had a bomb in our luggage. I understand how nasty it can be for so many who are not Anglo to be racially profiled and targeted at borders. I have non Anglo friends who have been so harassed at customs and immigration, but really, the targeting of fat old white people on a coach by Ireland Border Control is an absurd waste of resources. Is the point that I should write Irish Border Control take their role very seriously and don't allow anyone into the country without scrutiny. I am not.

We bailed on the optional tour of tour of Dublin. We needed a day to ourselves. We slept a bit late and did not have to rush off anywhere. I probably managed to paint my nails that morning and pluck away a few stray hairs. We had explored the Temple Bar area the evening before and we had no reason to do so again.

I am sure Dublin used to have trams, but closed the system down, as so many cities did. However, a few years ago new tram lines called the Luas was built (well 2004 actually). It was good but although it passed by our hotel, it was quite a long walk to the nearest tram stop and not a very attractive concrete walk at that. I can't remember how we bought tickets, but we did of course. Probably a machine at the tram stop.

I am not sure why we chose to leave the tram at a certain place. I guess I looked in advance. It was at the corner of Jervis Street and Abbey Street Upper. Right near the tram stop was the National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland. Yeah, we are up for that and it was quite entertaining. Our guide was good.

There was a nearby shopping centre where we lunched and bought a couple of bits and pieces. We hunted around for something, I think an ATM. We headed back to the hotel and had a g&t before an afternoon nap. It was a day off we needed.

But not totally a day off. That evening we had chosen to visit The Merry Ploughboy pub for an included meal and show. The show was good and it was a nice evening. R posted a photo of  us standing outside The Merry Ploughboy to FB and one of the lovely Irish nurses who we met during our South African holiday in 2018 and is an FB friend of his commented that we had driven past her home to go to the The Merry Ploughboy.

Not too many photos. I will make up for that in the next post.

Leprechaun story telling.

We stayed at the Red Cow Hotel.

Doesn't The Merry Ploughboy sound so gay.

My choice may not have had his leg lifted the highest but he was rather cute.

He does carrying a roll of lino hands on hips rather well too.

For you public transport nerds, this is seriously heavy tensioning of the overhead Luas tram power wires.