Friday, 27 December 2013

It's Bah Humbug time again!!

Sunday 8th December to Friday 27th December 2013

OK, so it has been a while since I have sat down and put fingers to keyboard.

Life in a regular house and neighbourhood does not provide the same diversity as one in a boat (even one not moving).

There are more usual things that need to be done each week and work does not have the same feel as it does when on the boat.

Actually going into work once a week is a bit of variety, only in terms of the travel – trains and commuting in general -  but don’t get me wrong – I certainly do not want to go back to doing it every day or even every week.

What has happened then in the last 3 weeks?

Not very much.

Mitch and Sara have flown off to the USA – to Dallas in particular for a holiday/Xmas/family wedding and in the process catching up with plenty of football over there.

They are having a good time and beginning the process of setting up their lives for the future and we say good luck to them both – they have a plan and are pursuing it – and we support them 110%.

I have ventured off by train to see my aunt in Warrnambool and mighty happy to see Brenda again – it has been about 20 months since we were together and she remains the favourite aunt.

Brenda - not about to face the camera - just like the teenage
brigade - far too interested in the phone.

Buddy (Brenda's dog) - he has turned out to be a really good dog

We went off to Port Fairy to visit another aunt and uncle – Heather and Ron – who do at times follow the blog – so if they are reading this – hello to you both.

Ron - obviously concentrating on something else

Cousin Fiona - cheesey grin and all

...and the delightful Kitty Rose - only 3 but clearly is much older
by the way that she speaks
For the past 29 years we have really enjoyed the kids visiting Santa for the obligatory photo - we did give the stipulation a few years ago that whilst they live at home then this was a requirement. It pleases us a great deal to say that they do not need any reminding to go and get it done - in fact we think that they may just enjoy it.
Certainly it seems that Mitch likes the tradition - this year apparently he got all of the photos out from previous years to show Sara - there is now about 32-33 of them (some years like this there are two photos as they are in different places).

Sara and Mitch

... and Sam too (American style)

The weather, for this time of the year, has been rather coolish with plenty of colder winds and conditions – but it hasn’t been completely so – Thursday last week (19th) – reached up to 40C – mighty glad it didn’t stay that way.

It will not be an especially joyous week to come – this will be the first Xmas that Diane and I have been apart, but for us it simply is another day and we will have the usual fayre when I return to the boat in January – in the  meantime I will be working right through every day. Time off will come later.

I am very thankful to the guy still staying with us – Speedie – he is one of Mitch’s mates who lives here and he is such a nice guy and pleasant that it makes a great deal of difference. With Mitch, Sam and Diane not here it would have been less than enjoyable to be without all of them – Speedie has helped quite a lot.

Speedie - in his natural habitat - and this was on a good day too
I am looking forward to the next week – at least the holidays and weekends will mean that there will not be the usual hour-to-hour rush requirements from customers – it will still be busy – but by the end of it all, 2013 will be at an end and then it will be just over 2 weeks to go.

The effort that has been put in to bring the house back up to scratch has had its effect; the list of things that I needed to source for bringing back with me has been almost completed; the sorting out of paperwork for the last 20 months has been done.

One more highlight of the week – perhaps the best – Dorothy turns another year older – that is Diane’s mum – I cannot disclose her age but it is more than 60 and less than 100 – so the phone call went through and she is very well and ready for a special lunch – Happy Birthday!!

Given the situation this year – with Diane still being on the boat in Stone and me here in Melbourne – I was mighty happy to spend it on my own and not have to endure people commiserating with the two of us not being together.

Boxing Day was the same, but I have occupied myself by being able to work and then take the days in January.

So here I am, Friday night and have just spoken with the favourite in-laws – well I did manage to get a few words in edge-wise – at least after I had spoke loudly. Millie (Dot) does like to sometimes take a breath whilst talking – but only sometimes. Never-the-less they are both well and as I have said before doing very well with the computer based stuff – and continuing to learn all of the time.

Nothing much coming up in the next week – apart from work – so as I started off this blog – life at the moment is just a bit different to being on a boat.

This fellow was hanging around waiting for his photo to be taken

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Man Heaven

Saturday 30th November to Saturday 7th December 2013

After a week of hot weather, although fortunately the humidity wasn’t too high, what do we get on Saturday – when I am due to fly out – lashings of rain.

The drive down to the airport was wet and then more wet, but we got there without incident.

After a relaxing coffee, I said goodbye to Dot and Terry – it was a week worthwhile – next time when we are both back in Australia it will be even better, but it was good to see them both in reasonable health.

So now off to Melbourne and stepping off the plane after a very uneventful flight, there were Mitchell and the lovely Sara to meet me.

He has done well, the boy has; Sara is such a delightful bubbly girl and such a fun person to be around – she has coped well with a new country and has taken in the essence of Australia and retained all of the nice things we associate with American culture.

This is Sara - the boy has done
well for himself

and then there is Mitch - here is he in in his natural
habitat - on the couch
The house was still standing when we got home; the general impression was that it was all fine and no problems – later the situation of 4 under 30’s living together appeared, but I have to say I am pleased with the way everything was.

As cold and wet as Brisbane was on my departure, Melbourne was hot and dry and if I had any doubts about returning to Australia in summer they were reinforced – I DON’T LIKE THE HEAT.

It doesn’t take long to fall back into life in familiar surroundings and quickly it was thus again.

This time is revolved around work and also my own fussiness about how I like things to be – so I am slowly doing some neatness work and more cleaning to how I like it.

Melbourne has always been a delightful city to live in – if only for the changability of the weather and it didn’t take long to live up to it’s reputation – from 34C on the weekend and early on in the week to 16.8C on Wednesday with rain that night – the coldest December day since Christmas Day 2006 which was just 14.5C.

More rain followed and then the cycle continued with the temperature increasing for the weekend.

As with Brisbane, I have a list of things to be looked at, sourced, checked out and bought – this list being from she who must be obeyed and who seems to be frequenting the pubs and searching for mulled wine.

It is never easy being away from the one whom you love so much and the present is just that, but as she has a countdown on her facebook page each day is one day closer.

For the moment it is about work, new computer, some training, cleaning and seeing the kids and friends.

Our dear friend Helen, from across the way, informed me that she had been diagnosed with cancer – this time breast cancer but appears to be beating it, so we hope for the best outcome.

In my adventures as far as finding things that we need, I stumbled upon the new extra-large Bunnings hardware store – the old one, which was plenty large enough has been supersized with a new one just 300m up the road.

This one is massive – occupying easily 3 acres and with a full sized upper floor – that’s right two floors – so let’s say 6 acres – and as well as that there is a huge area outside for gardening – plants etc etc.

And not only that but there is a well stocked cafĂ©, so here is almost the ultimate man heaven – easily able to wander around here all day plus be able to get sustenance as well – just need to get a liquor licence and we are well set.
Diane sent this one through to me of a lovely sunset at the marina

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The flying is the easy part - just try the training

Thursday 21st November to Friday 29th November 2013

Having made the trip numerous times and with both of us doing a fair amount of travel this year, the staff at Emirates check in Birmingham provided a breath of fresh air – so simple to go through the whole process – less than 5 minutes in total – and all done with a smile and friendliness that we had seen lacking with our October trip.

Landing in Dubai and clearing through to the transit area – which is really the whole terminal, I had a chance to have a shower and refresh and then off for a coffee, I managed to glimpse some of the action in the first test – having seen the first day score of Australia 8/273 it was very satisfying to find that England were 7/91.

Not long after we were off on the second leg of 13 hours albeit with a delay of 90 minutes.

Arrived in Brisbane – no not to see the cricket – off into the city to sort out a sim card for the phone and other things, and then to take the train up to see Diane’s parents.

What should have been a 90 minute trip turned into a 4 ½ hour exercise in frustration.

The initial delay was cause by an unfortunate fatality – no details known, but sad situation whatever the reasons. What followed was out of some comedy.

The driver informed us of the situation and that the train would be terminating; then it wasn’t and we moved to the next station where it would; then it wasn’t – next station and it did – we were all off and had to wait for buses – after a 45 minute delay, one of the other passengers rang to find that no-one even knew we were there; then another half hour and buses were coming – three duly arrived, but full of passengers from other stations – no room at the inn.

Then we were back on the train to the end of the line for that train – I still had a bit of a way to go – but as well as many others the story given to us was that we had a 60 minute wait for another train (from platform 1) – 5 minutes before it was due the platform was changed to number 2 and along with a number of others with luggage following international flights we had to negotiate the railway bridge.

Special thanks to Queensland Rail for their “kind” (of) consideration for their paying customers – if I don’t need to use their services again then I certainly won’t be doing so.

Dot and Terry were both there to meet me and bundled me back to the new house – smaller than the last one but still very nice – at their age they needed something more manageable.

Like any newer house there are things that need changing and after 3 days the garden is essentially finished and looking pretty good – the muscles and bones of this poor old fellow have been well exercised.

Just be careful - the wand is in her right hand behind her back
and she can quickly turn you into a newt

Forgot to say that luggage wise, I was spot on the 30kg limit; the carry on was a little over and yet I seem to have little clothing available to me – a single pair of boots; a spare pair of jeans; a pair of shorts as well as a few shirts and smalls.

Why so little you may ask? There was an extraordinary amount of things that needed to come back to Melbourne and had to go now – I didn’t get much of say about it – Sam would need her stuff in January and Diane had things that needed to go.

So it is day-to-day wear for a little while.

There are times when you think it is safe to go back into the water – I thought that I had finished the work listed out for me for a while, but I had forgotten the power of the mother-in-law – I had a list awaiting for me – aaarrrrggghhh!

The back garden is a bit smaller than the previous one, but
needed a bit of work to bring it up to scratch...

...and a bit more work to bring it up to mother-in-law satisfaction.
But job done and both are pleased with the outcome
But now as the week draws to a close this list has been done; and I have had a very good week with the favourite in-laws.

They have joined the rest of the world – we have passed on Diane’s laptop for them to use and they have been connected to the world-wide web, so emailing and google searches have rapidly become part of their language now.

They are doing very well and being in their late 70’s you indeed have to admire their desire to learn something new and so foreign – Good on ‘em.

So it will soon be off to Melbourne to see Mitch and to at last meet Sara

Cruising – Nil

Flying – 20,000 km (approx)