Saturday, April 8, 2023

Saturd'y nonsense

R is in a grump as always happens after we see Mother. When R gets in a grump, I don't function so well. I become unfocused and make mistakes. Really for Mother visits, I should now just tell him to stay home and relax. But he and Mother have forty years plus of history and he remembers her when she was younger and accepted him into our family. No matter. All will be ok in the morning. We need to buy birthday cards for soon to be six great nieces' party next weekend. 

This is one of the coldest Easter Melbourne has ever experienced, but we don't have the heating on, yet. The thermal mass of the building hasn't cooled. It is just over two weeks until we will be in England, enjoying the late spring warmth and sunshine. Thankfully in late spring, we should not experience extreme English heat as we did four years ago, just delightful warm sunny days. 

Fly overs

I dislike Good Friday. Shops shut, nothing normal. I felt discombobulated. We caught the tram to St Kilda for brunch. I didn't even go out this afternoon. I spent the time sorting photos and fixing up my blog homepage links to my old High Riser blog, motivated by finding it can be seen on the Way Back Machine, as well as Trove.

Last night was an early dinner in town at Brunetti's with Ex Sis in Law and Little M. We escorted them to the theatre and we were exhausted but home by 7pm. They returned back here to retrieve their car and go home.

As always Little M's questions exhausted our brains.

Why can't we catch a number 1 tram back to your place?

Because it turns off before before our place.

Where does it go?

To South Melbourne and Albert Park.

You have lots of trams past your place so if one breaks down, you can get another. What if the number 1 tram breaks down? People can't get home.

There is more than one number 1 tram. I didn't encourage further conversation about how if one tram breaks down, it blocks every tram behind it. 

I just heard Aunty Andrew from the tram driver (auto announcement) that we are now in the 'free tram zone'. Does this make it cheaper.

No, you've already paid for the tram trip. 

That is not fair. We should now be travelling for free. 

Yes dearest oldest great niece, it is not fair and just shut the fuck up.  

Anyway, this Good Friday I culled all the rubbish photos and did quite a bit of cropping to feature my photos of the Grand Prix flyovers by RAAF Roulettes. I started with about 100 photos and reduced them to these.

They flew every day of the GP. Aside from Sunday, the preceding three days were cloudy, as when this photo was taken.

And this one.

Fail. Just contrails. 

Magnificent men in the their flying machines, and possibly women too.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Merton Place

Sometimes a casual comment on a post can lead me to action.

During Covid lock down I got into the habit of an afternoon walk for maybe ninety minutes with a take away coffee stop along the way, an iso (isolation) walk. I haven't maintained the walking but every normal afternoon I get out and about which does involve walking. Sometimes I struggle to think where I would like to go but the comment I am referring to was a stimulus no brainer for me and it turned out to be rather interesting. 

So, let us take a look at Merton Place. It is a short street in the inner southern suburb Albert Park running between Richardson Street and Merton Street. It has a dog leg at one end. I was specifically looking for a single storey house, they all are, with a tin roof. That only eliminated one.

This is unusual for Australia. While there is the standard council street name on a post, this original street sign is mounted on a house and has been protected. 

Here are numbers 2,4,6 and 8, with 10 in the distance. The nightsoil lane is now called Johnston Lane, but I suggest the naming is recent.

Across the street is number 1.

3, 5, 7 & 9

9 & 11. 

Back on the other side, 12 just sold, 10 & 8.

14 & 16. 16 has a tiled roof but that could be recent. Write off 18 as it has an old concrete tile roof.

As you can see, 11 is very hard to see and sits beside another nightsoil lane now called Rankin Lane. 

The next two photos show the street dogleg. While the houses after the dogleg look newish, they are not. The are just extended houses from older times, and have a Richardson Street address.

Now, did you notice the sold sticker for number 12? I thought I vaguely knew Melbourne property prices, but clearly my focus has not being on Albert Park. Number 12 is probably nicely done out inside, but please it is a two bedroom timber single fronted home with a tin roof. It does seem to have offstreet parking from Little Finlay Street for one car at its rear. In the rear of the house will be a modern kitchen and living area, with one bathroom located somewhere. 

Number 12 has just been sold for a price undisclosed but it was sold last year too, for the gobsmacking price of AU$2,110,000. If you are struggling to comprehend the price, over two million Australian dollars. GB£1,134,100 US$1,413,400 €1,300,000.

Albert Park is a long way from being our poshest inner suburb but bang for buck, it is terribly expensive.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

One's Plumbing

One's personal plumbing is not perfect and as I type this, I am to have kidney surgery on the 1st of June. 

No matter. A couple of years ago we had hot water coming in through our cold water taps. The building's plumber who was replacing the water tamping valves, that is the valves that stop gravity increase of water pressure as it comes down from the top of the building, was conveniently on site. He quickly stopped the hot water at the cold tap. But things weren't' right. Our hot water was not hot. He increased the hot water temperature and all was good, until we showered and the water pressure was too low. A couple of days later he returned and worked out a balance between hot water and pressure.

A couple of years before this, we had renovated our kitchen. We bought a beautiful and stylish sink tap. R has only recently told me that the plumber who installed our beautiful tap, that we will hate it, and we did. The pressure was so low that we could not get really hot water to the sink and it was even worse after the aforesaid plumber adjusted the valve.

We put up with the lack of decent hot water at the sink for a time but Household Management started to complain, use bad words and started talking about downsizing. When my evening meal is at risk, I need to act. I measured the kitchen tap flow, 3.5 litres per minute. No wonder the plumber told R we would hate the tap. We went to the big green shed and chose a tap with 7.5 litre flow. The building's plumber company installed the tap and even with better flow, still the water was not hot. The lads fiddled with settings and after they left, we barely had really hot water anywhere. Less than an hour after they left, the shelves under our sink were wet with leaking water. One of them immediately returned and fixed the problem. In his tight shorts with muscular legs, the hot young lad lay on our kitchen floor on his back with his head in the sink cupboard. Your correspondent felt faint and was badly in need of smelling salts. No man should look so good and so vulnerable while lying on kitchen floor. 

Nothing was fixed, in spite of the new tap and now our hot water in the bathrooms had gone cool to point of not needing to add cold water to a shower and then to lukewarm. It was so cool, I felt cold as soon as I stepped out and began to use the overhead heat lamp. We learnt that turning on a second hot water tap a bit did give us proper hot water, R turning on his bath tap as he showered and me turning on my basin tap as I showered. 

As we were about to travel to South Australia, I did nothing until we returned. A week or so later I came across our building manager, the very handsome Sri Lankan born, with great dress style. I explained our issue, and he came up with us to our floor and played with the settings, and wow, we had hot water again, very hot water. However he said our tempering valve was twenty five years old and f*****. I called the building's plumber and a 7.30 Monday morning appointment was made.  After the building managers adjustment we had really hot water at the kitchen sink and hot showers too, until something kicked in and the hot water reduced to a trickle. Turn the hot water off for two minutes and it would return to normal. This is not satisfactory for showering.

The plumbers arrived promptly and mostly worked outside our apartment as they replaced the tempering valve and a metre of copper pipe. They came into our apartment a few times to check water temperature and pressure, and at my insistence, the  water temp was set at the highest level. which would be fifty degrees. You can keep you fingers under that temperature water for a few seconds.

The luxury of simply turning on a hot water tap and adding some cold, without stoppage of hot water, and having really hot water at our kitchen sink is simply marvellous. Building supplied hot water may be cheap, but it is better to have your own water heating system.

But there is more to this story. We are billed by a meter for the gas used to heat our hot water. I don't understand it. It is something about pressure factor. The bill used to be about $40 a month but about two years ago we were told we had overpaid and we were in $20 credit. Over the subsequent two years, our hot water bill dropped to about 50 cents a month or less. We are now in $16 credit. Being an honest person of honour, of course I informed the gas company.  I expect after this tempering valve change, our bill will return to the normal amount. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023


Do you remember how I cut back the petunias in a pot on our balcony? I hope so because I can't be bothered finding the old post to link here.

It was a partial success. I perhaps did the cut back too late and I needed to cut sideway stems harder and keeping the centre stems longer.

I judge it as a minor success. Our cool summer did not help the petunias that need lots of dry warmth and sunlight to flourish. Within a week or so, the plant will be disposed of. Lessons learnt but not necessarily remembered for next year.

It took about ten days for new green shoots to appear. A week later, we had blooming white flowers but the red were slower to appear. 

Not bad but nothing like how good the plant was when it was bought.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Yarra Trams

I've ridden Australian trams in Sydney, Gold Coast and Adelaide. 

I've ridden trams in Toronto, Manchester, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona, Vienna and Wursburg. 

I've used Melbourne's public transport trams for forty years. I am pretty well a daily user now. I know our trams well.

I have a theory that if you don't notice your tram ride, it was a good experience. This is not so in Melbourne, the largest tram city in the world with our trams operated by a private company under the moniker of Yarra Trams. The company has to meet performance figures and it generally does, so how come Camberwell route 72 trams are such a mess (it passes through many congested shopping areas, but nothing is done to fix the delays). How come a simple route like the 1, East Coburg to South Melbourne Beach is such a mess?

The performance figure by Yarra Trams for January was 84.5% of trams on time. That is a lie. The figures are doctored in some way. To note, the allowance made for a late running tram is it has to be five minutes late before being judged as late. With tram services on most routes being every 12 minutes or better, you can wait 17 minutes for a tram that is not officially late.

Anyway, that is not what this post is about. It is about the poor training of tram drivers by Yarra Trams.

Some drivers surge drive with the accelerator and brake,  On, off, on off. It is very unpleasant for passengers. Some start off so abruptly even an experienced passenger like me gets caught out. Some brake so hard at the last minute, there are strong G forces at work.

I can ride for a couple of kilometres along St Kilda Road and one tram driver won't ring the tram bell once. The next time over the same distance, the driver will ring the bell 40 plus times, I guess warning a sparrow flying overhead of the tram's approach. 

Some drivers move forward at platform stops and won't open doors to allow newly arrived passengers to board. I understand why they may do this in the city at times when there is constant stream of people wanting to catch the tram, and why they might if the tram T light signal is brief, but in that case, why do it well before the T light signal comes up. That is just plain nasty behaviour. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Yarra Trams' driver training is very poor, very inconsistent and the drivers unmonitored for driving standards. Female drivers seem better. Younger drivers seem better. Older male drivers of Asian and Middle Eastern appearance seem to be the worst. 

While waiting for a city bound 58 tram last weekend, two 3a trams arrived, one behind the first. Clearly the tram was quite late. The old driver of the first tram slowly left his tram, used the porta loo and slowly returned to his driver cabin. No rush just because your tram is late. But as he was returning to his tram, for about ten seconds he paused and smilingly and lecherously stared at a young and attractive Asian woman. 

Yeah, I look at guys on a tram but discreetly, not like an old lecherous man. It was sickening to observe. 

Yes, I complained but Yarra Trams want times, dates and details about each incident. I am not about dobbing in individuals as the issue is about training and monitoring of Yarra Trams drivers. 

Melbourne might have the largest tram system in the world but it certainly doesn't have the best drivers, and it one of the world's slowest tram systems. 

Monday, April 3, 2023

The Grand Pricks and all about me

It has been a busy weekend in Melbourne, with the annual flower and garden show, a few big football matches and of course the Grand Prix motor car racing.

I think of Gattina, whose late husband would have been glued to the tv screen watching our GP. She misses him terribly.

There are people like us who hate the disruption to roads, traffic and trams. The high pitched scream of the racing cars less than a kilometre away from us is of the past. The cars are quieter now. What is so noisy now are helicopters covering the race. Why three are needed for one car race, I do not know. Couldn't they use drones anyway?

Our trams over the four days of the Grand Prix have moved hundreds of thousands of passenger, mostly efficiently, to and from our two major train stations, Flinders Street and Southern Cross where trains come into their own to get people home to their suburbs. However, for those who would not dream of ever using public transport, a nearby commercial car park has offered all day GP parking for $10, a bargain, especially if there are a few of you in one car. It's about a ten minute walk to the track.

I said to R Saturday night, why are they letting this boy drive cars? Australia's Oscar Piastri came 8th in the GP.

The still handsome and cool Lewis Hamilton came second.

The winner being Max Verstappen from the Netherlands. 

The GP is not of interest to me and rather an inconvenience. However, be afraid, because the GP comes with plane flyovers and fireworks each night and I've taken lots of photos. 

We are well organised for our forthcoming trip to England. Flights, tick. twelve hour accommodation both ways in Colombo, tick, ETAs as transit done, hotel at Heathrow booked, flight to Newcastle booked the day after arrival, train to London from Newcastle to return to Heathrow for our flight home booked. R is talking to his sister on the phone as I type and it sounds like she has organised accommodation in York and will get a smart younger person to organise our train tickets. Nevertheless, we are both feeling mild panicky feelings about the trip. I tell myself I have never had a holiday I haven't enjoyed. R is so looking forward to visiting York, having not been there before. He especially wants to see York Minster Cathedral. But he was there before, as my photos proved, and already seen it all.

I woke early this Sunday on the day daylight saving ended, ten minutes after my usual get up. I was wide awake so I stayed up. The sun was up early. R must have gotten spring forward, fall back thing a bit wrong as he did not arise until after ten. His normal time is between 9.30 and 10.00. He just slept an hour longer. I usefully spent my extra hour on the internet, but also changing the microwave, oven and mantle clock times. The spare room digital radio clock was corrected by turning the radio on.   

Our March calendar was rather full with so many birthdays but April before we depart our shores has gone crazy. It will help me to write them down here.

Monday 3rd, plumber at 7.30 to install a new tempering valve that controls our hot water. That is a huge story in itself. 

Tuesday 4th, two medical appointments and buy socks and under tee shirts for English possible cold.

Thursday 6th, dinner in town with Ex Sis in Law and great niece Little M before they see the musical Mary Poppins. Ex Sis in Law will leave her car here.

Easter Saturday 8th, take Mother out for lunch. That sounds simple. It won't be. There will be excessive alcohol consumption afterwards to recover. 

Easter Sunday 9th, drinks with Brighton Antique Dealer and her toy boy at the RACV club where they will stay in the city and then an early dinner with them.

Easter Monday 10th, Sister and Jo arrive to stay overnight. Sister will see a football match in the afternoon. 

Tuesday 11th, Sister very generously bought R a theatre ticket to see Mary Poppins with Jo. Sister is busy doing other stuff during the day. Evening, Bone Doctor arrives for she and her wife, Sister, to see a comedy show.

Sunday 16th, family gathering to celebrate Cafe Latte Twin's 6th birthday. Bring 7 year old great niece Little Em home with us to stay two nights.

Monday 17th, booked circus tickets to take Little Em to her first circus. 

Tuesday 18th, return Little Em home. 

I really need to learn how to use Google Calendar. Instead I took a digital photo of our wall calendar where everything is witten. 

This Sunday with pasties from our favourite Elwood bakery, we moved on to Elwood Beach where we sat and ate our pasties and drank our coffee. This Sunday was just one perfect Autumn day in Melbourne. The eye candy was stunning with all off down to Speedos in the water. We were kinda of reluctant to leave. A person of certain age tried to jump over a wall and ended up with a minor skun shin. I is a stupid old man.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Strath 4 Finis

We had two options to travel back to Melbourne on the Friday, one being to be up early and get along early and arriving home before the Friday evening peak traffic. The other was my suggestion made the day before, why not check out at the usual check time of 10am and then set off, arriving home after the evening peak traffic. We won't have to be up so early, rush at all, and begin the drive quite relaxed. Apparently I was a very clever possum, so that's what we did. 

We stopped for brunch in Tailem Bend. Back in 1983 I took a couple of photographs of I assume the same train.

We again stopped in Coonalpyn where the silo art was when we travelled to Strath. This is kind of shop or a museum. Who knows. I note I was noted taking the photo.

Yes, toilet stop. We went this way.

But not this way. I really like this work of a well nourished and nicely turned out woman. 

For a late lunch we stopped in Kaniva. What a delightful place for a driving break. We immediately found a nice cafe with a nice sitting out area. 

I could hear an erratic sound of water falling into a pond. Little fishies warming themselves in the shallow part of the pond.

Water was coming out of this spout, erratically.


Which is because the wind was variable and at times the windmill stopped pumping water. 

Many of these small sculptures can be seen in Kaniva. 

Good toilet facilities.

I wonder if this Chevvy Ford 100 has been to the levee. That didn't work well, hey. 

No one would call these great murals, but they did amuse me.

Yeah, well, stop in Kaniva if you are on your way past. It's a good place.

The traffic as we hit Melbourne at 6.30pm was a little slow, but no real delay. What a grand short time away we had.

Words #397

I pronounce words so differently to many people in Australia. I don't know why. It is just how I speak. Here are some  examples. Integra...