Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jacks Magazine

I can't remember what day it was, but it was a weekday. I wanted to see Jack's Magazine at an old explosives site in Maribyrnong. We had visited the housing site adjacent to the old powder magazine, but there were few houses there. I did have a couple online, but I can't find them now. You can make do with Daniel's photo taken in 2004.

Well, it is nothing like that now, as you can see from the photos below. We seemed unable to get into Jack's Magazine, and with its high bluestone walls and could not even see the buildings.

Where there was grass up to the banks of the Maribyrnong River, now there are apartments, lots of them. Pelicans and other assorted birds don't seem to mind.

We walked along the river bank for a bit. Acquaintances of ours had a house built there, but they did not stay there long and moved back to Sydney.

This one has a terrific position on the river bank, but it is not complete and it was clear to us that no work had been done for some time.

There is still a decent amount of open area.

More construction.

Looking over the estate from near the top. These will have city views, but we could see some of buildings underway were going to block other properties' city views.

Down within these earthen embankments is Jacks Magazine. Can't see much.

This photo is from The Age and there is an interesting little read there.

I see the same dominant building in the distance as in Daniel's photo taken ten years ago.

When we returned to the car after looking at what we could see of the magazine, a woman was getting into a car parked behind ours, the same make and model but a different blue. We stopped for some brunch at a cafe in Edgewater Road and she pulled in a parked one space away from us. Hers in the closest blue sedan, with ours next to the car next to hers.

Our brunch was delicious and served by a very attractive Middle Eastern lad. It was last hot day for the season, 30 degrees. We asked him to raise the umbrella to shade us and unlike most young people, he said he was fed up with hot weather and hoped it would cool down soon.

I had intending taking this trip on my own and using public transport to get there, but I was pleased I didn't as the hills of Edgewater Estate were quite steep. We then took a look at nearby Pipemakers Park and then our cool home beckoned us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our state government has failed us

Our State Government was partly elected by promising improved public transport. Three and a half years into its term of government, little seems to have happened. Not even the very specific promise of a train station at Southland on an existing line has happened. Ah, but a good bit of money was spent on Minister Louise Asher's bete noir for her constituents,

Suddenly six months short of an election, the government has made multi promises about improving public transport if they are re-elected. Sorry, it is all a little bit too late. The proof is surely in what the government has done, and from what I see, it is not much. The trains and trams are still very unreliable and terribly overcrowded.

The government is about to sign we citizens up to a multi billion dollar road project that may benefit a  trucking company, but few others really.

While I doubt it will be in my lifetime, eventually Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be linked by a high speed train. Its point of departure will probably be Southern Cross Station and the train will initially head north west.

That is the same direction of the proposed Metro Tunnel, linking Footscray to St Kilda Road via the city by train tunnel (yes, some self interest here). It is also the same direction as the government's just announced airport train.

Pretty obvious really. Build an underground line from St Kilda Road to Footscray, then on to Melbourne airport and make is suitable for a high speed train to Sydney.

Melbourne is a large and growing city and spending money on huge road projects is not the way to go. The best cities in the world, that is cities people really like, have great public transport.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Nations

I was watching an English tv show about the restoration of neo gothic house. The presenter was Caroline Quentin, a great English actor and she does a fair job of hosting of the show. It struck me how different England is to America. The clothes, the hair, the teeth, the makeup, obviously the accents but even the body language and the way people move. Interestingly, the male house owner on the show had no discernible accent. He did not pronounce cooker in that certain English way. He sounded like a perfect English speaker to my ears. There used to be a quite neutral accent that was described as mid Atlantic. I am not really sure what it sounded like, but perhaps that was his accent.

Australia sits somewhere in between the two, taking the best and worst from both but also adding our own touch with what has been described as larrikinsism and a sense of a fair go for all. We accuse ourselves of becoming more selfish, and we probably are. Our integration of migrants has been exceptionally successful, but I am not sure that is happening now. Our most recent African and Middle Eastern immigrants over the last decade seem not to be fitting into Australia well, which is unusual for this country of predominantly immigrants.

But back to Great Britain and America, I heard the most wonderful quote comparing the two and I can't recall where, but it was along these lines, 'two nations divided by a common language'. Yes, the language is vaguely similar, but almost everything within the two countries is different.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Details, details

I am not bothering with the language of the Netherlands or Belgium, as we will be there so briefly but I thought I might learn a hello and thank you in Hungarian, as we will be there for a day or so.

Seems to be four different hellos in Hungarian, depending on the time of the day. I suppose there is in English too, but hello or hi covers everything. I will probably say hello or bon jour. I am yet to investigate please or thank you.

I've checked the pronunciation of the Hungarian currency, the forint. A friend has bought some for us and I hope he can return them as I am sure 42,000 for R and myself is too much, about AU$250. We don't think we will need much in the way of Euros but we have some. We have a decent amount of English pounds but I expect that won't be enough. We bought the currencies some time ago and the rate was very favourable compared to now.

A taxi from the airport to our Budapest hotel costs about AU$20. For four of us and luggage we would need two taxis, $40. The taxi system at the airport sounds like it is well organised, as it was in Malaysia, where you pre pay. But we have paid $80 for a chap in a van to collect us at the airport in a mini bus. We have never done this before but a chap holding up a sign with my name on it will greet us at the airport baggage area. An NB said the driver will be non English speaking, which is fine, their country, but I would be surprised if drivers who did airport pick ups did not have some level on English.

From Melbourne door to Budapest door will be about 30 hours. We are dreading that part of it.

There is a very popular Hungarian fast food that sounds particularly unhealthy but rather nice. I have forgotten the name. No, it isn't goulash. Goulash is ok, but not a favourite of mine.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Suanday Selections

Check out River's, Jackie's and Elephant's Child's blogs to see if they have posted Sunday Selections.

The face off over parking lasted only a few seconds until one motorist decided it was a battle not worth fighting. I honestly could not judge who deserved the spot. They both swung in at the same time.

Nice arrangement R. Orchids can be difficult to arrange, so I've been told. I wouldn't know.

Overnight our dishcloth disappeared. We use open weave Chux giant cloths. R thinks it may have gone out with vegetable peelings. Once while waiting for the lift something caught my eye and the Chux dishcloth has attached itself to the velcro on my work bag. Could have been embarrassing had I not noticed. We had no spare Chux so R bought what I used to call a Wettex at the local shop for local people. For some reason he thinks it is a good idea to drape it over the tap. I not like! It belongs in the cupboard under the sink.

At Flinders Street here used to be banks of telephones either side in boxes lined by fine metal mesh over insulation, to deaden external noise..........or was that somewhere else. I have a vivid memory of the phones, but it may not have been here. To the left and out of shot is the external gate of an old lift cage. Melbourne is such a modern metropolis.

Pansies. No, not you chaps. As the US army says, they are collateral damage.

Something strange was growing in Fawkner Park.

Good god, they are multiplying. Actually, they had just landed, the white one in a very confined space and it was a long time before it deflated. I suspect something did not go quite to plan.

Does my bum look big in this? You can check with butt cam opposite the clothing shop changing room.

Later edit: Suanday? Maunday in the subject line? Must have been Maundy Thursday on my mind, been the good Christian lad I am.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Complain and complain often

I complained to Yarra Trams about the delays to trams in the evening peak traffic when cars block the intersection and trams can't cross Flinders Street at Swanston Street. The tram just sits there at the blocked intersection as minutes pass, and eventually the tram will be able to proceed. This is a snip from their response that tells me nothing and I don't give a hoot about Northcote or route 96. Yarra Trams did not address my specific complaint.

Thank you for contacting Yarra Trams regarding delays caused by traffic congestion at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets. I would like to apologise for the frustration and inconvenience which you have experienced.

Yarra Trams is committed to providing a reliable and efficient service for all passengers and appreciates your interest in improving tram punctuality. We do work closely with external stakeholders including VicRoads and local councils to work on improving tram efficiency across the network.

I can confirm that the busy traffic conditions at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets can delay tram services. This is most often evident during the evening peak hour period.

Yarra Trams has recently worked on projects to improve tram punctuality on busy areas of the network including High Street in Northcote, Domain Interchange and currently along the entire Route 96. The intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets, the busiest on our network with 12 different routes passing though it, provides a unique challenge greater than other areas on the network.

We will continue to work closely to provide the best possible service on all tram routes and use your feedback to assist our planning for upcoming improvement works.

I wanted to use the bus to town on Labour Day, but because of the Moomba Parade in St Kilda Road, the buses were diverted, so I caught the tram. I had a look at the diversion. Instead of travelling up St Kilda Road, then through Southbank, past the Casino and over Queensbridge to Flinders Street, the bus routes 216/209/220 turned into Kingsway and travelled on to Flinders where they turned right and picked up the normal route. There was no information about temporary stops and why couldn't the bus turn into Kingsway and then right into Sturt Street and pick up the normal Southbank route? I can't find my email now, but I don't think I would have suggested using Power Street, but if I did, Transdev is quite correct that Power Street can't be used, but the bus could pick up the normal route in Southbank Boulevard. Transdev is a big company, owned by several companies, yet it does not employ a serious professional to respond to complaints, suggestions and queries. Make of its response what  you will, replete with spelling errors. I make spelling errors, but no one pays me to write.

We are writing to you in response to your feedback dated 8th of April 2014; case number 01612008, regarding the 216/219 and 220 services this year on Labour Day. Thank you for taking the time to contact us and giving us the opportunity to respond.

Public Transport Victoria is the body that is responsibly for the placement of temporary bus stops and in the case of the Moomba Festival the reason that there are no temporary stops put in place is because the diversion for half of the day. The drivers are unable to pick up customers from a non-designated but stops, only bus stops; the diver can incur a fine and loss of demerit points for doing so.

The main reason that the buses don’t go down Sturt and Power Street is because there is only an exit, no entrance for the freeway.

If there is anything further we can help you with, please do not hesitate to call 03 9488 2100 or to leave additional feedback please visit our feedback and comments page on our website:

Friday, April 18, 2014

More Miriam. X rating

It is not really x rated, but I suggest it could be described as having adult themes and perhaps best not played in public.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Digital Reception

For some reason our digital radio signal has been breaking up when we are in the kitchen. Is it because we stacked on a kilo or two and we are blocking the signal? Well, it seems our bodies do block the signal, but after two years of perfect reception, I wanted to know why and went to the ABC digital reception site and followed through its process of suggestions to no avail. I am fairly convinced that something is wrong at the ABC end, but not according to the ABC techies who replied very promptly. Atmospherics indeed. The point is it used to work but no longer does.

I checked the predictive coverage maps and your location is in what is called the "Rural" coverage area - It goes on to say -" Difficult reception indoors. Possible outdoor or in car reception. This area provides coverage highly dependent on geographic location. Good reception may be had in high locations on radios with external antennas. In some cases an external antennas and boosters maybe required on the fringe".

If you were receiving good reception up until fairly recently this may be due to atmospherics and may return to how it was before.

As mentioned above an external antenna may help improve the reception.

Here is where it used to sit. The corner was a perfect spot in the kitchen arrangement.

With the radio on top of the refrigerator, we have perfect reception. We just don't like it sitting there. However, we have both recognised that as well as now having perfect reception, it it much clearer to listen to without turning it up too much, especially in the lounge room . I still wonder what changed that spoilt our reception.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Sister Visit

Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo stayed last Wednesday night. They went to a comedy festival performance. Before hand I said to R, they will be going to see Hannah Gadsby. Hannah comes from the same Tasmanian town as our Dyke Friend. Sure enough, that is who they saw.

Little Jo and R decorated some Easter eggs, made pizzas for dinner and watched a dvd with Andrew serving them the ritual popcorn. When Sister and Bone Doctor returned, we poured glasses of wine and stayed up a bit too late having a great chat. Too late for me, so I had call work and tell them I would be unwell the next day.

Bone Doctor had to leave early in the morning to saw off a leg or two and I am not sure who did it but I had little cellophane bag of tiny Easter eggs slipped inside my bedroom door when I woke this morning.

R's birthday gift from Sister a few weeks ago was tickets for he and Little Jo to see the Dr Seuss musical Seussical. Sister went into town with them and moseyed around the State Library and shops. R and Little Jo agreed the show was fantabulous.

I stayed home and did washing and tidied the place up, best as I could. I did go out for coffee though to a place that had closed and has reopened. A couple of police people were sitting near me and their voices were loud and it was interesting to listen to their conversation. You know where Annie.

Mother has absolutely refused to go on the trip with Sister to Bright to see the Autumn trees. R should go in her place as the accommodation is already booked. Sister and Bone Doctor are more of a camping types, but they booked very nice accommodation assuming Mother would go, without checking with her first. I want to go. Pity about work. This is where they will stay in Bright.

To conclude I must tell a Little Jo tale. You probably won't remember when I mentioned that Sister opened Little Jo's money box when she was about three years old and found a fifty dollar and twenty dollar note stuffed inside. Little Jo 'had found them' in one of her mothers' purses. For some reason this was mentioned in front of Little Jo last night. We didn't think she was listening. Ah, that's right. I was offering to exchange four big silver coins to her for one gold coin, telling her she would have more coins by the swap and therefore more money. My devious profit motivated plan to cheat a child failed.

'Andrew, sometimes I find gold coins in the laundry from the washing and I put them in my money box'. Sister and Bone Doctor sat up straight, raised their eyebrows and then the questions began.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The good, and the bad and very ugly

I quite like the series of tv ads promoting Singapore to Australians tourists. I liked Singapore after spending a few days there in 2008. A friend has swum in the pool featured at the end of clip. Magical.

However, Singapore Tourism had an epic fail with their promotion of Singapore to Filipinos. It is close to one of the most excruciating advertisements you will ever see, so bad it is almost hypnotic. The ad has been taking down by Singapore Tourism, but removing things in these days of the internet is not so easy.