Saturday, October 21, 2023

Forget the world troubles. This is important

We were in the supermarket and as often happens, Cherry Ripe bars were reduced from between $1.50 and $2.00 to $1.00. We'll have two of those, thanks.

Once home I put the few grocery items we bought away, sour cream, yoghurt because it was on special, tins of chilli tuna for me because it was on special and picked up the Cherry Ripes. They seemed different, one felt bigger and heavier. A closer examination resulted in me noticing the different packaging.


One may seem bigger but they were both marked  with the odd weight of 52 grams. Why not 50? It is not an even ounce either so I can't lambast the US or UK for controlling the weight of our Cherry Ripes. 

I weighed them on electronic scales. One was underweight at 50 grams and the other was 55 grams. 

R was having his nanna nap afternoon rest and he rose and straight away ate his Cherry Ripe before I could point out the difference. Even R who is like our friend in Sydney, curiously uncurious about who, why and how focused on what I what I was saying. "So did I eat the 55 gram one or the 50 gram one?"

I weighed the remaining bar and with great glee I told him it was 55 grams, all mine haha. Suffer bitch. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Sydney Day 1

This is the longest post you will read about our Sydney holiday. 

Shortly after Mother died we decided we better get to and book some short holidays. The first was to make our annual Sydney visit and travel by train to get there, with flying home. We booked well in advance and with not much of a price difference between economy and first class, we paid for first class.

We were allocated seats that could have had a better window alignment and the seats could only be changed over the telephone and not the 'Manage my booking' link on the website. I decided to stick with seats 5 and 6 in B carriage. 

Some background here where we were caught out. Because of the way the seats are shown, we assumed we would be on the right hand side of the train, best views and best for my arthritis and at the back.

Now at similar times  XPT trains (eXpress Passenger Train) leave Melbourne bound for Sydney and Sydney bound for Melbourne. The train after reaching Melbourne and unloading goes into the rail yards for some TLC and fuel, and the seats are all reversed. So, when it returns to the platform the next morning to make the Sydney trip, the seats are on the other side and at the opposite end to the diagram. Got that? I am not even sure I have.

Later edit:

Where the map below says Car B First class is the carriage nose coming from Sydney to Melbourne. The seats have their direction reversed in Melbourne and from Melbourne to Sydney the nose of the carriage is at the other end. 

So, we were on the left hand side of the train and second from the front. Our view was quite good but we were under a very noisy air conditioning inlet that kept cutting in and out. I discovered during a roam of train, the temperature was set to the standard 22 degrees (74F). It was very comfortable inside, mostly heating I would imagine, certainly as we departed.  

I am getting ahead of myself though. We left home at about 7.45 and caught the 58 tram to the city and walked down Bourke Street to Melbourne Southern Cross Station. There was an XPT train sitting at platform 2 and train had passengers already seated inside but  I understood we would depart from platform 1. Both tracks are dual gauge as our local trains mostly use broad gauge tracks and NSW uses standard gauge tracks. The service is run by CountryLink, owned by the state government of NSW. 

We were more than half an hour early so bought some coffee and tried to relax R was concerned about the train already being nearly full of passengers. I managed to drink some of my coffee before at R's urging we returned to the platform to see the train had gone! 

I looked around and to our relief, an XPT was on platform 1 with prospective passengers milling around. Oh well, lets board. The other train must have been the just arrived overnight sleeper from Sydney and people on board were waiting for the doors to be unlocked. Whew. 

If the train looks familiar to you English, that's because the design was based on one of your trains. It was built here forty three years old and was adapted for Australia, with a wider body, the appropriate wheel gauge, suspension better able to cope with poorer tracks, better air filters for dustier operating conditions and stronger air conditioning. While the original could travel at 200 km/h, ours were hobbled by gearing changes to 160 km/h (100mph). While our country trains reach that speed at times, I don't think our XPT did once, though it did get up to about 130 km/h at times in Victoria.

There is an engine at each at each end, so I suppose it is a push pull affair. I believe it is a diesel electric train, that is it has electric motors powered by electricity generated by diesel engines. Enough train nerd stuff.

The seats were very comfortable with a great seat back recline, a sturdy fold down table on the seat backs, plenty of leg room. The minus was rock hard arm rests, no power points and no USB charging. Just out of shot at the top was the noisy air con intake. 


The big Ferris wheel no longer operates. Want to buy it? Great views of railway yards and a new road construction project. Perhaps that is its problem. 


Off we go without even noticing the movement but before fully leaving the platform, we came to an abrupt stop. A late stop signal perhaps.

I thought this might be the North Melbourne flyover, but is that dual gauge? I think not. Somewhere else. 


As when we caught the Overland to Adelaide, there are so many containers stacked along our exit from Melbourne. I am talking about thousands, plus the thousands along the Overland route. We entered a long tunnel and I didn't have a clue where we were. I must check that. The dual gauge track is obvious in this photo but I find them impossible to understand when there are points where trains change tracks. I would have to stand and study them with lots of finger pointing and tracing. 


I've put the above photos in order but the rest are not. Is this because of the new photo upload system? 



Somewhere around here there was a change of crew. I guess the crew take a break and then staff the ex Sydney XPT to Melbourne from here. 



A nice looking church somewhere in NSW.


This wind farm photo turned out better than I expected.


Northern Victoria and southern NSW were as green as I have ever seen them.


This must have been on the outskirts of Melbourne.







I wonder what this building is about. Of course Andrew, you will remember the location once home to check. I don't. 



That is it for photos. 

First class is two by two seating, as is economy. The only difference I can guess is first class seating has more leg room and a better seat recline. Aside from the quiet factor that first class might offer, I am not sure it is worth the extra money.

We had a snack for breakfast and coffee. The bar was open for lunch and I had a g&t and then a sandwich, although a hot meal could be ordered. We had a nice afternoon tea and ordered a hot dinner. I can only remember my meal was a curry and R's was not. They weren't what you might envision for first class but both meals were both nice.

As we left Melbourne Southern Cross through rail yards with tracks in all directions, there was a loud rubber on metal grinding noise for a few kilometres. Once we were reached a certain speed on straight track, the noise stopped, thank goodness. 

Even though the train had engines separated from carriages, I could feel the engines struggling as they propelled us up the bank to the Southern Tablelands after Junee. At Junee the train had to reverse into the platform. I am sure that is not normal and added to the journey time. We saw the driver walk past to the rear engine to reverse and walk back again to get on our way. I think after that we were forty minutes late.

At some point I guess over bad track the carriage suspension made some loud and annoying noise as we travelled at a slow speed.

There seemed to never be straight track after that. The train constantly went around curves at slow speeds and even when the curves became less as we approached the outskirts of Sydney the train must have been under speed restrictions because of track conditions. R was getting armrest banging frustrated as we were so late. This is amusing because before we became so late, R was saying we were silly to not book a sleeper back home from Sydney. I had to text our meet and greet person at our accommodation as we just became later and later. No way would I get travel overnight on an XPT sleeper. 

While I was pleased to travel on this old train, Sydney train yards are full of brand new replacement trains but as they were wholly imported, are not right for Australian service. Tunnels had to be modified as the trains wouldn't fit, and all sorts of issues with the trains. It has been a disgrace, under the former state conservative party. The current Labor government has promised to build trains here, from local and imported ingredients. 

We arrived at Sydney Central the very predictable hour late, managed to walk quite some distance through the mega station to catch a suburban train one stop to Sydney Museum, where we walked uphill towing our suitcases to our accommodation. We waited ten minutes in the hotel foyer for our meet and greet person. In the past she has well overstayed her welcome in our apartment as she told us about her Mardi Gras experience, other personal stuff but this time I got up from my seat and started pacing around as I was tired of hearing about how she met her second husband, a stunning and hunky South American guy who she pays to do maintenance on her the apartments she looks after. I think we saw him in the lift, and he is rather nice for a fifty year old. She soon took the hint and left. 

Never again am I catching a train like this, R told me. Fortunately we had brought with us a bottle of the Scottish Doctor and his nerves, and mine, were soothed.

I have lodged a complaint to TrainLink about the hour late arrival time, not because it happened, but because it was known about and we should have been told. The published timetable needs to reflect what has been happening for who knows how long, months I should think, as 'new tracks are embedded'.


Note, the train doesn't have Wifi and the phone service is very patchy along the way.  

Thursday, October 19, 2023

No post today

I was too busy today to write a blog post for today. 

We took a tram into town today where my new glasses lenses were replaced. They are still not right and I will return  They are for reading and desktop computer use. They are good for reading but after a second try, they are still not right for computer use. All those tests and reading out lines have not worked. I am not wasting a couple of hundred dollars, cheap because they are my second pair of glasses.

R's not so old shoe sole broke at the back. We took them to a cobbler in town and he said no problem, I will fix, $25, come back in twenty minutes. We had some brunch and R picked up his mended shoe and was told to not wear it for some unqualified time. Once home with the mended shoe, R checked his bank account on his phone and realised he been charged $35. We will return.

Twice when I was roaming Sydney, R went out and had coffee and an almond croissant. He loves the croissants. I tried one for brunch and I don't like them. I should have chosen a sausage roll with tomato sauce. Ah, a Greggs sausage roll would have been so nice.

I washed a load of towels, hung them on the rack in the spare bedroom and turned the overhead fan on. I cleared away some dry washing from the rack.

We sorted out our finances and my share of our Sydney visit what wasn't  prepaid was AU$1000. Half was accommodation.

I washed a couple of plant pots in the laundry trough and did a very quick run around with the vacuum cleaner.  

I sorted out our Sydney photos, after downloading them from our phones. I delete photos on my phone, R does not and has about 2800 photos on his phone. He will ask me at some point in the future about why his phone camera will no longer work.

I went out for a brief walk after taking the recycling down to the recycling room. I ran into a neighbour and had a brief chat. I was going to have coffee but the cafe was closing. 

Over the course of the day I watched a few YouTube clips. Phillip Mallis described the local tram timetable changes very well and what a shocking train accident north of New York City some years ago, with a train crew being stoned and possibly alcohol affected. 16 dead. The drain cleaners in Lahore, Pakistan cleared a drain, as they do and the Man in Seat 61 travelled on the Glacier Express in Switzerland. Stunning scenery. I may not have commented, but I read all of your blog posts. 

I spent a bit of time on hold when I called my superannuation company to make an appointment.

I rested in my bedroom for an hour or so with my tablet watching all sorts of stuff, and then it was time for a pre dinner drink.

We had a serious discussion about R changing his will.  

From the freezer some left overs were extracted for dinner, some of my most excellent fried rice with a chicken curry.

Then I got busy at the keyboard, writing some complaints, some nice and some feedback emails. 

This retirement business is damned hard work. 

Sorry for no post today.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Local troubles and troubles to our west

We've returned from a great short holiday in Sydney. I will tell you about it soon. I am always slow to restart blogging after a holiday. There always seems so much to do when returning after even just a week away, never mind sorting through photos.

Two matters of great concern occurred while we were away and the most obvious happened in the Middle East. What Hamas did is unbelievable, that is a direct and personal attack on people of Israel. It was brutal and how I hope those who were abducted by the Hamas animals are safe. It is just so wrong to target people for being no more than what they are and where they live. If they live on contested land, that is because their government approved the occupation. It isn't their fault.

I will die with bad feelings towards the Kremlin (Russia), and now Hamas (Palestine). 

But we have to remember that it is not the Palestinian people who did this but its extreme government which I am sure never told the citizens of its war plans before being 'elected'. 

Naturally Israel will respond with great anger, and that is hardly surprising. However Israel also must remember the innocent people as it responds. I hope not to add the Knesset to my bad feeling governments. The world is watching you Israel and you will be judged by your humanity. An eye for an eye has a bad ending.

It is all really so sad and I am sure to become even more so.

The second.

The no vote for our indigenous voice to parliament was also sad, but not unexpected. I think it has been proved that Prime Minister Albanese made a political mistake with this referendum. It has been so divisive and the best line was 'If in doubt, say no'. The opposition party and many commentators told outright lies, yet our ABC gave so much air time to absurd 'no' arguments. The ABC's own highly respected gave some truth to this. The evil Murdoch media empire did exactly what one would expect. 

I wonder when you are old, how will you answer your children and grandchildren when they ask how you voted? "Grandma, did you vote yes in the referendum for something that could improve the life of Aborigines by giving them a say in laws that affected them?" I hope you are proud of how you will be judged by your descendants.  

I can proudly say that my parents were among the 95% of Victorians who voted yes in the 1967 referendum.

Voters were asked whether to give the Federal Government the power to make special laws for Indigenous Australians in states,[1] and whether Indigenous Australians should be included in official population counts for constitutional purposes.

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...