Saturday, July 1, 2023

Making danger more dangerous

Note in advance: This is from what I think I know and not checked for accuracy.

CYP stands for Cross Yarra Partnership, a government organisation to oversee and ensure a smooth construction of Melbourne's Metro Tunnel, a long underground railway system. 

Near to us a new train station is being built. While we thought we were far enough away to not be affected, we have at times been greatly affected by local road closures, footpath closures. At the moment we can't turn right coming from the direction of the city and so if coming in from the east on the toll road, we are close to being forced to use the Domain Tunnel at a significant extra cost. Any other way to get home will take much longer. Believe me, I've tried.

There has been much work happening below. Residents in our building are angry that all parking in front of building will be removed for the construction of a separated bicycle lane. While people are generally not against the safer protected bicycle only lane, the God of Cars rule, with two lanes for motor cars, a cycling lane and no parking. Nowhere for delivery drivers to park. In advance our public post box has been removed so parking for the postal van is not required. The disabled parking space will be gone, where my brother parks while Mother gets out of the car. He then unloads her walker and she is soon at our building. It will be a much longer walk, which she simply cannot do. Fortunately we have one car with two parking spaces, so he can park within the building but that means him calling us, us going down to let him in, then meeting him on our parking level at the second floor level, and moving our car forward for his car to park behind. 

A few weeks ago when the right turn was banned below, barriers were put and pedestrian told to walk 100 metres towards the city to cross the road and 100 metres back. People did not comply and continued to cross the road below using an west to east traffic lane. I can't see why some kind of temporary safe crossing could not have been built. In its wisdom, CYP put up another fence yesterday, to deter pedestrians. The fence has deterred some but for the more determined to cross at this point, they are in even greater risk as they now need to walk along the fence on the roadway in either direction to reach the footpath on the other side. Hopefully the photos will make that clearer. 

People were just walking around the orange barrier into the traffic lane and then going towards the former pedestrian crossing point. You can see the newly erected fence on the far side of the street. People are now walking on the roadway to get around the fence to cross the road.

These people waiting to cross would have walked along the roadway to get to this point. 

And cross they did. 

CYP or its contractors has made a bad situation even more dangerous. I spend a good bit of time on our balcony looking down, and I cannot see any reason why pedestrians could not have been catered for with a temporary crossing, moved at times as the works dictated. If someone actually looked with an overall view of the crossing before this crossing was 'closed', people's behaviour was perfectly predictable, rather like goat tracks, now called desire lines. Here is a classic example of desire lines and again, perfectly predictable human behaviour. I am unqualified in any profession yet a probably highly paid planner designed the footpath, and even without seeing the desire line path, I can tell in advance where people will walk, as I am sure you can. 

For anyone who thinks an extra 200 metres to walk is nothing, you have no imagination of what it is like to get old. 

Later edit: This Saturday evening so many people are crossing the road, dodging around the fencing. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

Friday Fun

This must be one of those viral TikTok crazes. 

Nevertheless, what great fun. Oh the young, fit and stylish. Each clip is only a few seconds, which is perhaps the attention span of TikTokers (and perhaps mine). 

Bound to lift your mood and apologies if the song becomes a flea in your ear for the day. 

Men who perhaps think their dancing is undignified and hid their faces. No need. You guys are great.

The not so young nor svelte are also welcome.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

England 09/5 - 10/05

One place R wanted to see was the interior of  York Minster. Only our first breakfast was included with our hotel accommodation, so we visited a close by Wetherspoons for some morning nourishment. I wanted to take the tourist bus with its route encircling the city and stopping near tourist places.  We combined both. Near our hotel was a stop for the tourist bus and at 11.35 (note the time as it is relevant in the next later) we boarded the bus and bought our twenty four hour tickets. 

We weren't on the bus for long. A ticket seller at York Station sold us tickets at what must have been about 11.45. We left the bus at the stop nearest to York Minster. The stop was a short walk away and we followed the crowds to the main church door and paid our £16 to see the church interior. I fear I've seen too many English churches and I find them depressingly gloomy and far from uplifting. Even in Bavaria, I saw a church or two that were bright and welcoming. 

But having said that, there was much beauty within York Minster, and so much history.

I think this was a mould for the statue of Queen Elizabeth II, with the statue placed in a niche on the exterior of the church. 

From the city tour bus, Blood and Fire, at the Salvation Army. The tourist bus trip was well worth while. 

See the small cat on the ledge? It was an architect's symbol piece, added to quite a number of buildings in York. 

Bye bye York.

The next day we were at the tourist bus stop again to catch the 11.35 service to get to York Station. You will remember we had a twenty four hour ticket from yesterday, which should be fine for today's 11.35 service.  I am still stewing over this. The bus arrived three minutes late and the driver said to us, you are past your ticket expiry time, but I'll let you go anyway. Since we did not have to pay more, I said nothing but in my head I was screaming, 'If your fucking bus was on time, then we would not be past the 24 hours'. Now I am going to wake up in the middle of tonight feeling angry as I remember. I should have sounded off. Actually, I should contact the company and complain, which is what I would normally do. 

Our train trip back to Newcastle was luxurious, with two seats opposite us at the table vacant as Sister 1 had not cancelled their booking. That was after we glared at a woman sitting in our booked seats under the digital sign that said seats booked, York to Newcastle. 

We had decided to stay at Sister 3's high rise apartment for a few days and we needed bus 10 when we exited the station to Sister 1 first. Google maps and an app told me where the bus stop was and we stood at the shelter that said route 10. Two buses passed us by. We decided to get a taxi. Infuriating and I am still waiting for a proper response from Stagecoach who run the service. Really though, there was no signage at all at the station about catching buses. It is so poor compared to much of public transport wayfinding in England. 

I am not sure what we ate that night but I am sure we did not go hungry.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Tub in the kitchen sink

All three of R's sisters use a plastic washing up bowl in their kitchen sinks. I washed the dishes once at Sister 1's and I tipped the stale water out and removed the bowl. It was much easier. The are reasons I've read on the net, but none of them seem very strong to me. I don't believe it was a custom in Australia. 

It really makes little sense to me and the younger members of the family don't use one in their kitchens.

Look at the size of bowl. It is not going to save much water.

I've never broken or chipped crockery or glass in a sink, whatever material the sink was made of.

Before I fill a sink to wash dishes, every glass or cup is emptied of dregs and poured down the sink, and plates scraped. 

An anecdote I read today was from a woman who always cut a bit off the end of a roasting joint, because that is how her mother prepared roasts. Her mother died while her mother's mother lived on and the woman asked her grandmother about cutting off the end of meat. Ah, I had a very small roasting dish and I always had to cut the end off to fit the roasting dish. 

Maybe one of you can give me a good reason why the bowl in the sink, and do you use one?

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

England 08/05

While York Station was quite attractive I thought the forecourt entrance was rather disgusting and really needs an overhaul. Grubby, grimy, grim, ghastly, get the idea. 

The station roof from a distance was stunning. 

Our first night we dined at our hotel and that was fine. The buffet breakfast was included and next morning we really enjoyed the breakfast together. Sister 1 and her partner headed off toward the city centre while we returned to York Station to meet our friend from London, Marie, who had travelled up from London to just see us and keep company for a few hours. 

The internet can be a bad place for some but wow, has it given me some wonderful experiences. Just by she finding my blog and/or I finding hers, we connected and we met up in London several years ago. We met again in London in 2019. I hope she is not reading this because what I will say is Marie is intelligent, smart, knowledgeable, non judgemental, caring and best of all great company, good for a laugh and just such a nice person to keep company with. Her blogs are  62 and the next 10 pathways, detailing her visits to the areas surrounding every London overground stations and a more personal blog After 60 the next ten Part 2: 70 and onwards, mostly about her travels and visits to English attractions. 

These are a mix of photos, some from the evening before. 

Not a Disney or Mattel toy to be seen.

The evening before, a ghost walk tour group assembled. 

The light was fading as one of us took this snap of York Minster. 

The Micklegate Bar (gate) near our hotel. 

We caught a taxi with Marie to the centre of town. She is fit and would have walked. We are not. I think we just wandered, chatting away and not taking too much notice of anything. Marie suggested we might lunch at this place, Ask Italian. 

It was just a weekday but quite busy. I doubt tourism ever stops in York. While it looks quite grand, the prices were reasonable, the food good and the service excellent. I recommend Ask Italian in York. 

We wandered about some more and then the three of us met up with Sister 1 and her partner for afternoon tea at Bennett's Cafe. I think afterwards we wandered some more with Marie and we were near a taxi rank where she could catch a cab to the station to return to London. No, she walked from there to the station. It was just so lovely to see her again.

This is a bit of a Shambles

This statue looks new at York Minster, and it is.

We were back in town with the sister for dinner at York's oldest hotel, a title that seems to be claimed by a number of such venues. I think the pub was Ye Olde Starre Inne. Damning with faint praise, it was ok.

Over dinner Sister told us that her grandson who was staying in her house to look after her cat had locked himself out and as such the cat was alone and would be until two days later when she returned. The cat had some dry food to eat, but not a lot. Sister 1 had recently needed her spare keys kept by her son and she had not returned them. Her first born grandson not only locked himself out, but his phone and wallet with his transport pass, university card and bank cards were all in his wallet. He was close to tears when he spoke to his grandmother and confessed how stupid he had been. Hey, none of us have ever locked ourselves out, have we. He is not an outgoing lad and in spite of his parents having Geordie accents, he does not. His accent is very neutral British. R did once engage him in conversation at an earlier family gathering. He is also a musician, although I don't know details. 

Sister 1 told us about what they had done that day before we met for afternoon tea, and I was gobsmacked at how far they had walked. There were repercussions. 

We met up before our hotel breakfast the next day and overnight Sister 1's partner had a bad angina attack, and along with her cat being locked in alone at home, they were cutting short and had booked train seats later that morning to return home. 

After breakfast they checked out and headed for the station. R and I were all alone. In spite of our concern at their situation, it was rather good to be alone. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Driving in England

 As for driving in England, I have come away with different feelings after each visit. My first visit when we hired a car, I found the English too polite when at the wheel. You go first, no you go first. There are clear road rules about who goes first. I guess that must have been twenty years ago.

I recall driving from Newcastle to Blackpool via Carlisle, mostly on the M6. It was a wonderful drive with mostly three lanes and trucks and heavy vehicles in the left hand lane at 60 mph, general traffic at 70 mph in the centre lane and the third lane used for overtaking and by speeders. It worked brilliantly.

The same applied this visit when using the M/A1 motorway, except it was much busier. Trucks in the left lane moving to the centre lane to overtake a slightly slower truck in the left lane caused bother and it was not really possible to maintain the 70 mph in the centre lane for very long. Then there was the unnecessary slowing of traffic a long way before roadworks, that weren't even happening. In some places there were what looked like permanently placed traffic cones. 

As for the speedsters, here if you are caught travelling 15 mph over the speed limit, it is an immediate driving license suspension. I don't think it must be like this at all in England, given the number of people speeding on motorways. 

However, I found the standard of driving in the north excellent, only falling apart in the inner west area of Newcastle area where a lot of immigrants live. I felt sorry for the bus drivers. The large roundabouts can be intimidating but drivers are very forgiving if you are not quite in the correct lane. I seldom heard a blast of a horn. Many roundabouts have traffic lights and that all works quite well to ensure everyone gets their turn. A roundabout in Chesterfield was the worst for me and there was no way to avoid it after leaving our hotel. There were good road markings indicating which lane you should be in to use whatever numbered road you wanted, but they were faded to the point of being unreadable. 

R's Sister 3 will not drive further along the West Road than the A1 roundabout because as she said, she has lost confidence. She drove us to Sister 2's place one day and her driving was fine. Perfectly competent and safe. If she needs to go further, one of her three children, grandchildren or partners will take her.

Unlike here, no one really needed a horn blast from the car behind to move when a turn arrow came up. Clearly drivers were focused on their task at hand and not surreptitiously looking at their phones or in car screens. From what I have learnt, it is much harder in England to obtain a driving license and perhaps behind Germany, it must be nearly gold standard. It seemed few people pass the driving test at their first attempt. Clearly driving while distracted by devices and screens as a bad must be drummed into new drivers. 

I may as well include public transport here. I was disappointed that the electric buses have disappeared on the West Road. However, the current buses are first class. They are smooth, quiet, comfortable and the drivers are excellent at making your journey smooth and fuss free. Buses in cities in Australia are generally dreadful, noisy, rough and just unpleasant, though at least ours are air conditioned. 

Taxis and minicabs are similarly priced to here, but in England there is never a complaint about a short trip to the shops from the driver. People generally use the same  minicab firm, they become known and even there are short trips, they know at times the same person will require a longer trip. 

There is a plentiful number of helpful road signage, although for me, turn left in  246 yards was not helpful. Later I thought about it. A yard is less than a metre, so maybe it was say 200 metres, but I can't think like that on the road in a an area I am not familiar with and concerned about my driving when confronted with a yard distance number. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

England 07/05

Unless there is someone who is better at organising than I am, I prefer to do it myself rather than trust others. I do know some who organise better than I do. We wanted to go to York, to see the city and to see the train museum and R especially wanted to see York Minster. R told Sister 1 and without consultation, she organised a three night stay at a hotel and booked our train trip.

The problem was firstly we would be missing out on staying at R's oldest niece's rather spacious house with her two lads there. The following weekend would have been much better. Secondly, she booked from Sunday to Tuesday. When I checked I found the train museum was closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 

So we were missing out staying in spacious accommodation and almost missing the train museum. We arrived in York after a taxi ride to Newcastle Central and then train early on Sunday afternoon. After checking into our hotel R and I went off to the train museum. It was a short distance from York Station we caught a bus from our hotel, a five minute trip, and then found our way around to the back of the station to the museum. It was quite a walk for R and there was an easier way to get there. 

It was only a donation to enter The National Railway Museum, I think we paid £5 each. There were desperate warnings on its website to book in advance online, but it was no problem to just turn up. 

The museum was great, only marred by us fruitlessly trying to find the Flying Scotsman  locomotive. It was out on tour but there wasn't a mention of that anywhere other than elsewhere online which I found out later.

We looked at some marvellous trains, paused for coffee and a snack and looked at more trains. R's phone camera excelled with photos. Mine did not, badly affected by light coming in through windows.

Newcastle Central is quite a nice and rather large station. 

We had a bite to eat before our train arrived.

Here comes our London North Eastern Railway train. 

We crossed the River Tyne.

Oh my, our train is a long one. The fast train from London to Edinburgh has nearly killed domestic flights between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The train was very nice, smooth and comfortable.  We sat at a table with two seats either side. Regardless of the terrific electronic signs at each seat indicating whether they were booked, from which station to which, some that may be booked and some available as open seating, still people sat where they shouldn't. Everyone moved when someone boarded and the arrivals had booked the seats. 

In less than a hour we were in York. We caught a taxi the short distance to our hotel, a Premier Inn in Blossom Street, which was very good.

City walls. The train used to enter through the walls but logistics ensured the station was moved outside. 

We checked into our hotel and off R and I went to the train museum. 

This is a replica of Stephenson's Rocket. There are originals around the world so I am not sure why the museum doesn't have an original.

What a pretty train.

A Japanese Shinkansen, bullet train which if not the first model, surely one from the 1960s. 

A Eurostar nose.

Early Art Deco, in my opinion. Nice.

A Royal locomotive. 

The famous Mallard train. 

This looks like a workhorse train. Substance over style.

A pump to fill the water tanks of steam locomotives. 

This train looks interesting. I will do my own research on this later as I know nothing of it.

Wow, what a train. Another I need to check out soon. My favourite I think. 

An early Eurostar locomotive. 

Made nicer by an inspired paint job.

 We were going to walk the same route home but as we left the museum, I spied a carpark and a set of stairs that looked like it led to the station. We headed that way, climbed the stairs and just walked through the station. It was a much shorter distance and I don't know why it is not promoted. It is late here and I can't be bothered checking what I have written for typos etc. 

Sydney Day 7, the end

Having had dishwashers for most of my life, I hand washed dishes while we on holiday and it was revelation. Each morning after R's showe...