Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Australia Day Holiday

Monday 27th January 2014

We don’t actually acknowledge Australia Day on the actual day, but instead always wait for the public holiday – this is the Monday after the 26th January (unless the 26th is a Monday).

With deference to the original Australians, this remains one of the two days of the year that we generally celebrate being Australian and the sooner that all Australians are happy with a date for national celebration then the better for all.

The other day being Anzac Day which is a remembrance of the veterans of all wars.

Of course, any time that we beat the Poms at any sport (especially cricket) is reason enough to have a party.

This year the flags and bunting were out again in force and anyone near the main cedar hut who wasn’t quite sure why we would have been there would have been left in no doubt at all.

It was wonderful to see so many there – most of the usual suspects and a few others – all embracing the spirit of the Southern Cross and the joy of being an Australian (or even a temporary Australian) for the day.

The masterpiece of the day - many many thanks to Roly - you
can consider yourself and honorary Australian - can't be fairer than that

The gang's all here

"Aussie" Bev

Without Elaine and Mick - the remainder of the Australian contingent
Our happiness was complete when Paul arrived and was able to announce that Elaine was doing really well and that the operation had gone as well as the surgeon had hoped.

As a semi-darkness descended late in the afternoon we reluctantly transformed the hut back to its original self and departed – all ready for their next dose of Vegemite sandwiches; Anzac biscuits; and fine Australian wine.

New Routines

Friday 24th January to Sunday 26th January 2014

Now that things were back to normal, we started getting back to normal – as you can imagine, with the time apart, Diane had fallen into a routine which suited the needs that she had and there were routines that developed as time went by, so it was just natural to continue these – one of these was an early doors coming together at The Exchange on a Friday afternoon.
Very pleased to say that definitely needs to continue – we walked into Stone with Dot and Gordon and after a bit of shopping, the table in the front window at The Exchange was then occupied by us – not long after we were joined by Lynn and Phil and then by Sue and Andy - pleasant times – only Elaine and Paul were MIA.

Eventually we made it back to the marina and home, thanks to Sue whose sacrifice of a drink is muchly appreciated.

There is one thing that happened whilst I was away which I have not yet mentioned.
For quite a while we thought (and knew) that the inside of the boat was in need of taking on a lighter appearance – to some extent we resolved this with the insulated lining paper, but the darker curtains a still detracted from this.
Whilst I was away, Diane was coaxed to spend some of the hard earned on fabric to be eventually made into new curtains for the boat – I think that Joan and Lynn may have been accomplices in this, but with Joan’s expertise, we now have a lovely new set of curtains throughout the boat and it definitely looks much brighter and a special set of matching cushion covers as well – so very special thanks to Joan.
This little fellow has found a home on the side of the toaster - now named Claude (clawed)

Saturday came and with the BBC showing the Ladies Final of The Australian Open there would be no other place for Diane than perched in front of the TV in the warmth of the front room and so she assumed that position.
Breakfast served up for her,  I headed off to Aldi with Dot to pick up the items that we needed.
After returning we all headed up to the cafĂ© for coffee – not long after we joined by Elaine and Paul and the boys.
Very shortly after that Paul and Elaine were greeted by three people – Keith, Anne and grandson Sam – bearing camping information – turns out they have bought nb Rock’n’Roll – and will take possession 1st March – previously they had nb Forever More.
Around the table in the usual boaters mode

We all had a chat about boat things and camping in England and Europe – very lovely people and we look forward to meeting up again with them sometime.
I must say we were all pretty impressed with Sam (the grandson) -a very nice young lad.
After all of that Paul and I needed to urgently return to our boats – the football was on TV, and you know that you cannot miss that, so we were off.

The remnants of the hail storm

Sunday was a pretty miserable day in itself and the mens final was on, so Diane was in her usual position – it was a bit unfortunate for Nadal to get an injury, but Wawrinka deserved the victory and a first Grand Slam.
Walk the dog and get the paper in between downpours and then settle in again for more football on TV and dinner after all of that – but by 8:30 I was asleep in front of the TV – the boat was just too comfy and cosy – I don’t think it was from doing too much that made me so tired.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

From Nice to Ice and how nice it is !!

Thursday 16th January to Thursday 23rd  January 2014

I made mention that I was looking forward to the cooler/colder weather and getting back, but I neglected to also say that of equal eagerness was the return of Mitch and Sara from their holiday time in the US – visiting and catching up with family there.

They returned with a sort of look of being tired and refreshed – in any event it was great to see them back.

And then so it was time to start the journey back to Diane.

Goodbyes, aside there was little that needed to be done – the cut on what made it into the cases and what didn’t was completed – still ended up being 1.7kg over, but the lovely young lady (aren’t they all) behind the desk eventually let me through free of charge.

Luckily she didn’t see the 2 laptops that I also needed to take.

The flights were uneventful – for the first time in a while I wasn’t able to sleep all that much.

Dubai airport continues to expand – this was the first time that I needed to actually change terminals – the complex, at present has five enormous terminals – who knows how big it will eventually get.

A 50 minute journey through immigration/baggage collection/customs was very quick – gotta love Birmingham airport –and I was out.

The good lady wife was there to make sure that I found my way back to the boat.

What a quick trip it all was – the short monorail trip to Birmingham International train station, followed by a direct train through Stafford and the wonderful Phil there to pick us both up and drive us back to the marina.

From landing (at the airport) to stepping onto the boat was less than 2 ½ hours.

The usual realignment of body clock with local time took place. A reintroduction to The Exchange was the Monday assignment, but it did allow Elaine to join us – at this late stage she couldn’t risk too much exposure to the cold.

Tuesday was Christmas Day for Diane and I - we could not be together on the usual date so this was a good day to have a lovely dinner and we were very lucky to have Dot and Gordon join us. Games ensued once the cook dispensed with the dishes – naturally we had to keep playing until Diane had won – she’s a good winner.

Wednesday was tidy up day – we finally had a chance to sort out the contents of the cases that had come back; it was also back to work day – but by the end of it all, the Xmas decorations were all packed away; the suitcases were away; the lounge and dinette were once again tidy and if only we had a cat there was enough room.

Whilst I was away Diane has kept immaculate records of the use of the diesel stove and working it all through, the usage per hour is about the same as we found in October/November, but interestingly with the weather being much colder over December than the earlier period the cost of keeping the boat warm and cosy was relatively inexpensive. The stove used 180 mls per hour of use, which came out almost 3.2 lts per day and at marina rates meant an expenditure of about £18.50 per week

We had made some visits to drop off things that had been added to my list of things to bring back; we had seen just about everyone that we needed to – everything was back to normal and I was home.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Summer Daze

Tuesday 7th January to Wednesday 15th January 2014

Diane might have her countdown on facebook which is keeping track of the number of days until I come back, but I have my own – how many days until the heat disappears.

Tuesday 14th – 43.0C and relative humidity of 10-15% - very hot and dry

Wednesday 15th – 41.9C – so a bit cooler, which was a great “relief”.

And overnight the minimum was 29.2C

Don’t anyone dare say that it was nice warm weather –there is nothing b____y nice about it – it is the type of weather where the windows and doors are closed early; the curtains and blinds the same; and then about mid-morning the air-conditioning goes on and stays on –it is a cave-dwelling hibernation existence. And you definitely do not want to go outside at all.

We did manage to get out on the weekend when the weather was definitely more reasonable and way down below the “let’s fry some eggs on the bonnet of the car” temperatures.

Saturday was a pleasant visit to the Victoria Markets where it is just a delight to simply wander around and take in the sights, the sounds and the smells – of course there are things to buy as well, which is exactly what I did.

The familiar facade - only ever seems to change from a paint job

Beautiful leafy Elizabeth St - trams and traffic together

Fresh fish everywhere....

... and shoppers....

... and our favourite deli - love to sample Dianne's Delights,
but don't tell my Diane

...fruit and vegetables as well

and a Melbourne icon - hot jam donuts - any time of the year
but especially on your way home after the football
Sunday was a lovely drive up the highway to Geelong –Victoria’s 2nd city – for lunch with Brenda. A view over the bay from a shaded verandah at the restaurant made for a very enjoyable way to spend time over lunch. Sam had recovered from her jetlag and joined us, as did Gail, a friend that Brenda brought with her.

A stroll along the waterfront rounded off a lovely day.

oh my goodness gracious, a marina - what I wouldn't give...

just to be by the water

There are quite a number of these carved and painted characters
along the foreshore in Geelong

But for now it back to the heat, some measure of sleepless nights and looking forward to getting back to cooler/colder weather – oh and back to the missus too!!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A New Year? What was wrong with the old one?

Saturday 28th December 2013 to Monday 6th January 2014

With Xmas being over I at least had a chance to see a few people that I had been meaning to get to.

First on the list were Bruce and Robert – we have now known them for just on 8 years.

They don’t seem to have altered too much at all – Bruce has lost a bit of weight and Robert has made a concerted effort to give up smoking – and all encouragement to him.

Bruce on the left and Robert on the right
NewYear’s Eve and New Year’s Day both came and went without any interference from me – for yet another year – in bed before 10pm and up by 6am – not what you would call a party animal.

The weather has not really set any records so far this summer – so few hot days in fact, that I wish now that I had packed another jumper.

I have however managed to find a few more hidden facts about the house-keeping skills of the favourite son – but I will see what answers come forth when I discuss it with him when he is back next week.

Still managing to clear more stuff that has simply been left here by people who have stayed in the house over the last 6 months – might be issuing a black list of people not staying again.

I found this old photo of Banjo when he was just 9-10weeks old.
Wasn't he cute then - gee how things change!

When I was in England we would watch the BBC news most nights and I have remained constantly surprised/annoyed at how few stories (and none of them from overseas) that they actually get through for what is effectively a 1 hour news service; so I decided that I would just check on what we get – Channel 9 do a 1 hour service which includes ads and not including the weather report, I counted 42 separate stories – local, national and international – there was none of this getting opinions on one story from 10 different people – it was straight reporting of the facts. You have to bear in mind that there were including in those 42 items, 5 sports stories which took all of 6 minutes – given the nature of one of the sports items it was incisive and to the point.

Not a word Reggie - as they say a picture is worth a 1000 of them!