Friday, September 22, 2017

St Vincent's Hospital

I have to say that I have been very impressed with St Vincent's Hospital.

I went for my initial appointment for my hand in the public system on the 16th of August. I went for my operation yesterday!  I had been graded as a Category 2, but I was obviously offered a cancellation, so I think I was at the top of the Category 2 list.

Lindsey and I arrived at just before 7am.  The person who was supposed to be ahead of me hadn't turned up so they put me at the top of the operating list.  Every single person who I spoke to greeted me by name, told me their name and what their function was. They told me what they were going to do, how they were going to do it and what the outcome should be.  Then after they told me what had happened.  They were all cheerful and friendly.  By 12:15 I was in the recovery room, arm and hand all bundled up. As well as the general anaesthetic I had had, my hand had had a prodigious local anaesthetic so was completely numb until I got up this morning. It's hurting a tiny bit now which is a useful reminder not to try and do too much with it!! Mostly, though, it has pins and needles.

The worst thing about yesterday was the getting up early in the morning and not being able to have a cup of tea.  No water either but it was the cup of tea that I missed.  They gave me a cup of tea later and gamely tried to give me the strong cup that I asked for. It wasn't the most exciting cup of tea I have ever had but I definitely appreciated it.  I enjoyed my sandwich as well.

Lindsey met me in the discharge room and we had headed out into the sunshine by about 13:45 to the flat. We were back in Mount Helen by a little after 16:00.

I was interested in Rupert's behaviour when we got back.  Lindsey had stopped to talk to the builders who were finishing off the fittings for the new folding doors in the lounge room.  Jim was in the other end of the house with the dogs.  Normally when people come back, particularly if they've been away for more than a few hours, Rupert bounces and bounds and rushes around. When I walked into the kitchen he was asleep on the couch.  He sat up, looked at me, then gently walked over, sniffed my arm, licked my chin and leant gently on on me, wagging his tail.  I don't know how he knew but he definitely did.  He bounded all over Lindsey when she came through. Sam greeted us with his usual, dignified pleasure.

Lindsey had bought steak for dinner. She did it with mashed potato, lots of veg and gravy.  I positively scoffed mine.  I was surprisingly hungry!

My hand before the operation. This is as flat as it would go:

Back from the hospital:

And today:

There are penguin stickers to help the healing,
and seal stickers Just Because

I have a proper Getting Better Penguin as well.  Lindsey bought him for me.  He looks a bit worried, though :-S

Monday, September 18, 2017


Lindsey and I were driving from Mount Helen to work on Friday morning when Lindsey wondered if there were any markets to go to over the weekend.  It was the third weekend of the month and the ones we go to regularly are on the first, second and fourth Saturdays. We do go to Sunday markets occasionally, but not often enough for them to rise up in our consciousness on demand and we weren't familiar with any third Saturday markets.

So I looked to see what markets there were. And discovered that there is a market in Talbot on the third Sunday of the month.

Talbot is in central Victoria, about half way between Clunes and Maryborough.  It is a smallish place, population of about 350   Lindsey thought a market there might be on the small side, although  I had read somewhere that it was one of the largest Sunday markets in central Victoria. We pondered whether to go, it being about a 50 minute drive from the house.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we thought about whether to go. Jim hadn't ever been to that bit of Victoria. It was a very long time since I had had any reason to head out that way.  Lindsey also couldn't remember going particularly recently. We decided to go. After all, even if the market wasn't up to much it would be a nice outing and there would be bound to be lunch somewhere. So off we went. Ian decided not to go. He has quite a bit of travelling to do this week and felt that a day pottering about at home might be nice.

We had a lovely drive. The scenery was very pretty. The sun shone.  And it became clear that many other cars were heading along the same route.  We suspected that they too might be going to the market.  It didn't seem to be the sort of road that would ordinarily have lots of traffic on a Sunday morning!

And they were indeed heading to Talbot. We had to park some distance away and walk up. And the market was huge. It went on almost for ever. I think it had pretty much taken over the whole of the village.  It was also very busy.  Positively bustling!

It had some of the stalls that we encounter in our regular visits to Farmers' markets. It had lots of other stalls.  And it combines the Farmers' market with a town market and a flea market.  It was excellent.  We bought lots of lovely food, lots of other things, including a lovely wooden feeding station for Rupert. We made trips back to the car to offload things so we could explore more.  It was a great morning


Jim and Lindsey 

Talbot market in full flow

Jim looks as though he is standing in front of Mount Fuji :-)

We decided to head back to Clunes for lunch. We'll keep Maryborough for another day - they also have a market which we will go and inspect one day.  Clunes too has a market but it was on the way home so it seemed more sensible to call there for lunch.  And a very fine lunch it was too, at the Bread and Circus Provedore. I had fried chicken with chips - and was somewhat surprised by the size of the portion.  Jim very much more sensibly had beef and vegetable soup (although that was also quite a hearty portion.  Lindsey had a burger and chips, although her chips came in a basket and were nowhere near as numerous as mine.

A light lunch of chicken and chips

Jim's hearty bowl of soup

You can buy more than just lunch in the Bread and Circus Provedore

Our lunch venue

Clunes main street

I think there is a very good chance that the Talbot market will join our list of regular outings!

Saturday, September 16, 2017


The (second) sale of our house has fallen through.  It looked as though it was going quite well, but the buyer has changed her mind.  At least this time I suppose she changed her mind quite quickly, unlike the last one who took months before she pulled out.  We're going to try the auction thing again. At least at an auction once it's sold it's sold.  And maybe someone will be interested at a lower price than the last time we tried.  It's annoying though. And even more so because only on Monday and at vast expense we sent the contract and the Land Registry documents back by express post ready to finalise the sale.

I really do despair, though.  It's a nice little house.  I really don't understand why absolutely nobody wants to buy it.

If it doesn't sell at auction we will rent it out.  Or move back into it.  Or raffle it.  Actually - that's not a bad idea.  I wonder how you get a licence to raffle a house :-D

In other news, I have an appointment on Thursday to have my hand fixed.  I wasn't expecting to have it done quite so soon but at least this way it should be better enough for the adventures we are planning in December. It would have been very inconvenient to have my hand in plaster and thus be unable to drive in December!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Jim and I went down to Reservoir yesterday. The Australian Audiology people go to the surgery once every three months and do free hearing tests and I had booked us in.  I am happy to report that my ears passed the test with flying colours.  Jim's ears, on the other hand, did not fare quite as well.  Apparently they are completely blocked with huge quantities of wax and it was hard to tell if he didn't hear the beeps because of the wax or because of his ears.  He can't have another free test for 12 months but we can work on the wax starting immediately.

Except that we forgot last night!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

House Hunting

Jim and I went out looking at houses yesterday.  No - we haven't finalised the sale of the Tupton house yet.  We are still in the middle of filling in all the forms ready to send back to our solicitor.  But Lindsey is thinking about buying a house as an investment.  We are considering buying or renting when our house is finally sold.  So we thought we would go out and look to see what is available, taking advantage of some of the open inspection times.

We looked at a nice little unit in Mount Clear, near the little shopping complex.  It wasn't really the sort of house we would have described as our perfect house, being a fairly new unit rather than a Victorian cottage which is the style I love the best - but we were rather taken with it. It was in good condition. It had a courtyard for the dogs (it would need fencing between us and the immediate neighbours but that wouldn't be difficult). It had a functioning kitchen but you could update it if you were minded.  Plenty storage space, including a sizeable pantry.  A garage which was accessible from inside the house.  A lovely, lovely view. And therein lies the problem.  Too get the lovely view the unit is at the top of quite a steep driveway.  Jim and I walked up from the road.  I found it manageable.  Jim struggled a bit but also found it more or less manageable.  The issue isn't now, though. No worries while we are hale and hearty and while at least one of us can drive. But in five or ten years time ...

It's probably worth a second look, and there is another unit in the same complex which is also for sale and which is down by the road.  Might be worth looking at that as well.

Later in the day we pottered into Ballarat to look at a couple of houses that might fit Lindsey's requirements.  Somewhere in town with renovation potential.  The first house Jim and I walked in and almost immediately walked out again, so fast that the estate agent didn't even have time to get my details.

The second house had lots of people looking at it.  Jim and I looked at it quite carefully but came away thinking that it probably needed more work than Lindsey had in mind.  Pondering later, though, I wondered if we had been influenced by the fact that there were a lot of people getting in the way so that you couldn't see the potential.  Thinking back, the kitchen was larger than you might have expected and had loads of potential. There would have been the opportunity (if you were minded) to redevelop the bathroom, laundry and porch area. It had three bedrooms and a reasonable lounge and a surprisingly large backyard.  I think that if it hasn't been snapped up by an investor with money and vision, we should take Lindsey to have a look at it, but by appointment rather an at an open inspection

But even if that one has gone, there are lots of houses in that style in that sort of area available to buy.  But they will all be needing some TLC if you are looking in that price range.

Today the sun has shone and we have taken the dogs for a walk, pottered around, done a few useful things, pottered around some more.  A nice, gentle day.  Lindsey and Ian have been in Sydney for the weekend and are due back into Tullamarine at around 5:30.  I have dinner plans!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Father's Day

It was Father's Day yesterday in Australia and the family had arranged to gather at Mount Martha for a celebratory Sunday lunch.

Lindsey and I went down on Saturday afternoon, after a raid on the Ballarat Bridge Mall Farmers' Market and a visit to Bunnings for something slightly more robust to fence off the vegetable beds than bamboo canes and plastic trellis panels.  These were doing absolutely nothing to keep Rupert and Sam out of the broad beans, pea and onion beds!  Jim came with us on the morning excursion but stayed at Mount Helen to re-do the veg bed fencing while Lindsey and I headed down to Mount Martha.

Sunday saw Lindsey taking Tony to Frankston for an MRI of his brain.  I've never seen brain MRIs before.  I can't read them at all but there are some very pretty designs in the brain.  While they were doing that, Stella and I started the preparations for lunch.  Jim and Ian came down with Sam and Rupert.  Rupert was a bit surprised to find Lindsey and me in this strange new place. Most of the family came, excluding Jess who was visiting her father, Bethan who is in Thailand en route to Nepal and other places and Emily who was working.  Simon brought not only Noodle  but also Molly who was staying with him for the weekend.  Rupert was very disconcerted by the ongoing invasions but settled down reasonably quickly and really enjoyed having Noodle and Molly to play with.  He didn't enjoy having his ear bitten by a rose bush but quickly forgot about it - until we realised that his ear was bleeding profusely and stepped in with tissues and bandaids.  He didn't like that sort of attention at all!

Rupert getting to know Martha who lives across the road from Stella and Tony's place

Playing football with a lemon

Christian and Sam

Sam and Rupert in the car on the way back.
Rupert is exhausted from all the fun

Fancy pants bandaid for the hurty ear

Tea time!
Lindsey stayed down at Mount Martha for another night.  Jim, the dogs and I went back to Melbourne with Ian then Jim drove the dogs and me back to Mount Helen, leaving Ian in Melbourne .  It was a good weekend.

Today has been very blustery in Mount Helen.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are trees or branches down in some places.  Rupert and Sam have been very reluctant to go outside.  So have I, I suppose.  But I have an inside toilet at my disposal!  I must go out soon though.  We need a few bits and pieces from the shop and I have an online Japanese lesson in an hour and a half.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


So the results of my blood tests came back and suggested that I do not have an (anaphylactic) allergy to walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews.  Lindsey says that it is highly unusual for nut allergies to go away, but I certainly did have anaphylactic reactions to nuts in my 20s.  Mind you, I haven't knowingly eaten nuts for a very long time so I suppose it is possible that the allergy might have moderated in the interim.

I am not, however, launching myself into munching on almonds and cashews and other nuts.  My blood might not think I have an anaphylactic allergy but my brain does.  I have a feeling that if I start knowingly eating nuts my brain will tell my body to react.  I have decided to make sure I carry my antihistamines and my asthma puffer with me, and not read the ingredients lists on things until some time after I have eaten them.  If there is no reaction and there is a nut present then we can mark that nut as safe.

Coconut is a different matter.  I know that coconut is not a true nut.  I know that strictly speaking it is a fruit.  I am fully aware that allergists and other people who Know These Things say that coconut allergy is very rare (although I do know people who are allergic to coconut).  But the last time I ate coconut I didn't know it was in the food until I had had a couple of mouthfuls.  And I investigated because I had an almost immediate reaction.  My plan not to read ingredients lists may come unstuck here. I do need to check for coconut, and coconut is EVERYWHERE in Australia. It's a bit of a dilemma.  I may have to risk it.  Oh - or get someone else to check for coconut :-D

I have, however, spent so many years not viewing nuts as a food that I don't even notice them in the supermarket unless I want them for something specific.  And then I have to go hunting.

In other news, you may remember that the proposed sale of our house in Tupton fell through earlier in the year. Since then there have been plenty of viewers and even a couple of second viewers, but no bites.  We have been in talks with the estate agent with a view to renting the house until the housing market in the UK improves.  Then yesterday I had a message to say that the most recent viewer had put in an offer.  It's considerably less than the asking price but Jim and I decided that a bird in the hand ... and have accepted the offer, with the proviso that she has to take the house As Is.  We do need to remember, though, that the house is in England and not in Australia. The potential buyer has sold her house, but subject to contract.  The people who are buying her house could pull out at any moment, in which case our buyer would have to pull out too. Please keep your fingers and toes all crossed until all is complete.  This may make daily life difficult but I have every faith in you all :-D

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I have had a busy few days.  It's one of the little ironies I find in writing a blog; when there is much to say there is little time to say it and when there is time to write - there is not much to say!!

Anyway.  I went to work last Tuesday as normal and then on Wednesday  I went down to Mount Martha.  Stella and I took Tony to the Memory Clinic in the afternoon. It was quite an interesting experience.  They were testing for memory, cognition, logic and various other things like that.  Stella and I were in the room too and silently did the tests as well.  We all did quite well, though I would have failed dismally on the "count down from 100 by 7s". Quite why anyone would ever want to do that EVER is a mystery to me! They think that Tony may have some mild vascular cognitive impairment, probably from the two falls (of the many falls that he had over a period of a couple of months last year) that caused bleeding in the brain.  He is to have an MRI of the brain and then go back for more tests in three months time.

On Thursday Tony and I spent the morning running various errands in Mornington and Dromana and then we all went to see the oncologist in Heidelberg in the afternoon.  It's a relatively straight run down East Link and the Eastern Freeway from their place to Heidelberg and I wasn't expecting any real problems getting there or back (apart from finding somewhere to park - I ended up dropping them off outside the place and then parking in a nearby hospital carpark).  The freeway was quite busy as we headed out of town, but it was peak hour and the traffic was moving, even if slowly.  I was very surprised, however, as we got out of town to find that the traffic was almost at a standstill.  This is very unusual on East Link.  There had been an accident on the slip road from the services which had blocked a couple of lanes, hence the delay.  I was very glad that I hadn't been in the car which was being lifted up by a crane.  It was upside down and somewhat flat.  Fortunately, it wasn't a fatal accident - but I am still glad I hadn't been in that car!

I headed back to Melbourne quite early on Friday morning and went to work, and then came back to Ballarat mid afternoon.

Lindsey, Jim and I spent the weekend doing the sorts of things that Jim and I used to do in Derbyshire.  We went to farm gate shops out in the countryside and bought meat, vegetables and other provisions for the week.  We went to Eynesbury to the monthly farm, craft and food market on Sunday to have lunch and to potter around. We came back with spice mixes, pork pies, terrines and pate, balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, loads of very yummy things. Ian didn't come with us.  He spent the weekend at home doing useful things there.

We managed to dodge the various rainstorms that swirled around over the weekend.  It didn't rain at all when we were outside. Or, not over us it didn't. We could see it raining in other places

Rupert had his first bone, which he thought was a great new toy and a very delicious one at that.

Now he just has to work out how to stop the magpies eating it when he is not there - and how to stop Sam burying it, because that is what Sam thinks that bones are for!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Over the weekend I treated myself to this:

I had the use of a preserving pan for a couple of seasons when my cousin Penny lent me hers.  Apart from that, I've never had one.  When I wanted t make jams, chutneys and other preserves, I used my heavy duty casserole pan.  This wasn't entirely successful . Because it gets used for all sorts of things, the preserves tended to stick on the bottom and burn.  When I discovered some Seville oranges at Wilson's the Greengrocer's  I bought them, and then decided to treat myself to a proper preserving pan.  It's a small one so absolutely perfect for me.  I pretty much never need to make industrial quantities of preserves.

I also bought a sugar thermometer (I already have at least one, but it's packed in a box somewhere) and a jam funnel.

And made this:

The marmalade is a bit dark. I used brown sugar instead of white or demerara, largely because I had brown sugar to hand. Also, it's a bit more set than I would usually make it.  According to the sugar thermometer the marmalade didn't ever reach setting point.  It did according to the "drop a bit on a saucer and see if it wrinkles" test. It tastes OK though.

What shall I make next?  I am thinking beetroot chutney, or grapefruit marmalade, or ... Not jam, though. Not yet.  I'll wait for the soft fruit season. And we need to start collecting empty glass jars as they come to hand.  I have established a collecting box :-D

Oh. And today is our one year anniversary of arriving in Australia with a view to staying.  It is, of course, not our anniversary of our first arrival together in Australia. We first came together in December 2005. But On This Day in 2016 we landed very, very early in Cairns and then flew on down to Melbourne and started the process of Moving In

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Birthday Celebrations

It was Freyja's birthday on Thursday.  She and Simon celebrated by going to London on a Magical Mystery tour which involved food, more food, drink, taking in a show, stumbling upon a creepy toy museum and catching up with friends.

Jim and I celebrated by going to VicRoads and converting his British driving licence into a Victorian one.  Then we headed to the Medicare office to get him a Medicare card so he can access Australian health services.  We possibly shouldn't have gone at lunchtime, when there was one Medicare officer trying to deal with several enquiries.  And I possibly should have thought to print out and fill in the application form before we went.  Still, we got there in the end and he now has both a driving licence and a Medicare card - so two forms of identification :-)

We ought to see about getting him a Tax File Number so I can send him out to work. His bridging visa allows him to work - although I think he would prefer not to.  And I don't think we can get him a Senior's card until his resident's visa is approved.  His Medicare card states that he is a visitor and you need to be a resident to get the Senior's card.  The turn around time for the resident's visa in Australia is between 18 and 24 months.  Simon and Freyja's application (for Simon), which was submitted in London, is being processed now.  Obviously far fewer people submitted applications in the last week of June in London than did in Australia!!!!

Jim and I occupied the rest of Thursday by unpacking a couple of the boxes that came over from the UK.  We repacked most things, not having anywhere to put them, nor having any use for them at the moment.  But I was glad to see some more clothes, some notebooks and pens, and a few other bits and pieces that we have left out of the boxes.  Alas, Jim's radio controlled clock doesn't work.  I looked it up and the National Measurement Institute (who would have thought that there would be such a thing!) says that the relevant radio signals don't reach us in Australia.  I could set it up as an ordinary clock but we have plenty of those and there doesn't seem much point. We'll give it to the next passing visitor from the UK where it does work.

We might unpack some more boxes over the weekend.  There are only three or four left to unpack.  It night be interesting to see what's in them. Apart from my Toast and Marmalade crockery set, which I am assuming is taking up most of the remaining boxes.