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: http://www.transdevmelbourne.com.au/talk-to-us/Feedback-and-Comments/

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 - http://www.abc.net.au/reception/radio/dr_coveragemaps.htm. 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.




Monday, April 14, 2014

A London Surprise

When we arrive in London after our European river cruise, we will need to get to our hotel in Lancaster Gate from St Pancras Station. I thought R might want to get a taxi, given we will be lugging suitcases. But no, he said he is quite happy to catch the Tube. I checked and although the distance is not far, to get to Lancaster Gate Station involves a change of trains from the Victoria Line to the Central Line at Oxford Circus. Well, that is what we have to do then.

My extra hour of time from daylight saving ending was spent looking at maps. I love looking at maps. Right, here is our hotel and here is Lancaster Gate Station. Hmmm, Queensway seems a bit closer.  Actually Paddington is not that far away. When we were last in London,  we walked from our Sussex Gardens digs to Lancaster Gate to catch the tour coach to St Pancras to catch the Eurostar to Paris. If I had better knowledge then, we would have just caught the Tube from Paddington to St Pancras. So Paddington Station is not so far from Lancaster Gate, walking distance even with suitcases really. That would mean just one train, direct from St Pancras/Kings Cross to Paddington.

We will walk along Praed Street, which changes to Craven Street then Craven Hill, left into Leinster Terrace, then left into Lancaster Gate.

Leinster Terrace! That rings a bell. Ah yes and we will almost walk smack bang into a particularly odd house. I posed the question here and answered it here.While I would not have bothered to see the house, what a coincidence that we will see it, probably more than once.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jirrahlinga Sanctuary

A couple of years ago there was a fire at Jirrahlinga, an animal sanctuary on the Bellarine. Sadly six animals were burnt to death. I looked at some details about the sanctuary at the time and he who won't donate to save the starving children of the world immediately promised myself to make a donation to Jirrahlinga. It is a sanctuary that looks after injured animals and large Australian birds who people can longer care for, remembering that if you are given a cockatoo when you are born, it may outlive you. 
More than once when visiting Sister on the Bellarine, we were going to visit Jirralinga, but for whatever reason, it did not happen. During our last visit to the Bellarine we did pay a visit and I made my promised donation, which raised R's eyebrows when he saw how much I gave. This is a place with many workers, volunteers. They need money for housing and feeding animals.

We travelled through Barwon Heads and found the place and parked next to a paddock where Ibis were grazing.


There were many cockatoos of sorts in care, mostly from people who could no longer look after them.


The sign says it all. I don't think it was this one, but a galah seemed to be the best talker of all with, 'Give me a kiss'.


A Corella.


Another type of Corella.


Is this a Major Mitchell Cockatoo?


This one is a very pale pink.


No idea what this is.


Koalas from outside the fence.


Oh, a fox. Not sure we care too much for them, but we have to be kind to critters.


Dingoes, which I am sure are derived from the Japanese dog Shiba Inu.


A python getting ready for winter hibernation.


A kookaburra, so very Australian.


Parrots.


Cockatiels, the most destructive bird known to humankind. We had some. I know.


The keeper let us in to have a close view of koalas. They eat leaves and do the biz, with males at times fighting, but mostly sleep.



What I imagine a Magpie Goose might look like.


Not a clue. Pea hen?


There'd be a wallaby.


There'd be a wombat.


Budgerigar of some type. Unusual colouring.


Maybe the same unknown bird as earlier.


Extra special, a blue winged kookaburra.


Kangaroos. Note the joey (young) trying to fit into his mother's pouch. It is clearly too  big.


This joey has its face peaking out  from its mother's pouch. It is a more suitable size for a pouch.


Old man emu.


Could be a kite.


A barnyard owl.


We thought this was a statue, but then it moved. I guess it is an owl of some type.


Emus and kangaroos have been known to fight, but there wasn't any fighting here. Nevertheless, the emu did not like the kangaroo so close and rose to move away. It became clear as she/he struggled to her feet, she had some kind of arthritic disease.


More pretty parrots, badly photographed.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

A laugh and dinner

Only $20 a ticket, plus $6 booking fee which is so annoying, we decided to see a Comedy Festival performance. As a long time listener to Tommy Dassalo's podcast, Little Dum Dum Club, I thought we might see him live, so we did. It was in a very tiny room at ACMI called the Games Room and consisted of tiered benches, most uncomfortable. There were about twenty people there on a Tuesday night and the performance was good, but I am inclined to enjoy two performers with a good rapport. One comedian on stage, with a small audience and being funny for an hour is quite a challenge, but Dassalo succeeded.

We had dinner at the venerable hotel Young and Jacksons and finished off with a drink at the rooftop cider bar where we had a chat to a pleasant young Irish lad who was either just being friendly or he may have thought two older gay men might buy him a drink. We didn't.

We were home by nine and while it is an effort to go to things at times, we are pleased we did.