Saturday, July 21, 2018

A change in the routine

Most weeks I go to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, staying over in Lindsey and Ian's flat in East Melbourne on Tuesday night. Then I go to work on Friday and mostly go down and back on the day, usually with Lindsey.

This week just gone I went down to work on Monday with Lindsey and stayed over on Monday night.  I had intended to head back to Mount Helen by public transport after work on Tuesday, however Ian said that he would be coming back on Wednesday morning in time for a mid-morning meeting, if I wanted a lift. So I stayed over on Tuesday night as well.

The re-scheduling was because there was a talk at the Ballarat library at lunchtime on Wednesday about growing vegetables in Ballarat and Jim and I thought that we might go. It was quite an interesting talk, although I don't suppose Jim or I really learnt much that we didn't already know.  He did confirm that Ballarat is about 6 weeks behind Melbourne when it comes to planting seeds. He said over and over again that you shouldn't go by the calendar but by soil temperature. But we knew that. He said that he covers his carrot seed with shade cloth. We covered our carrot boxes in Tupton with perspex or glass sheets but the carrot tub here is too big for that so we hadn't really put anything over it apart from netting to stop the birds. I hadn't thought about shade cloth. I have now :-D He gave advice how to prevent blackbirds eating your seedlings. We don't have a problem with blackbirds. Our problem is rabbits.  He didn't address rabbits.  Even so, rabbits notwithstanding, it was an interesting talk. Pity that the TV screen wasn't higher, though.  We couldn't see it at all from where we were sitting.

We had Wednesday and Thursday nights at home. We went up to Hill House on Thursday afternoon to play with Rupert and Hugo, then I went to work on Friday with Lindsey as usual.

And now it is the weekend. The weather is set reasonably fair, if a bit windy.  I am going to go and do useful things this morning before a Japanese class at lunchtime. Then we might go out play this afternoon and tomorrow

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Rupert and Hugo's Adventurous Day

Rupert and Hugo had a very adventurous day on Sunday.

After breakfast they got in the car and set off on a long, long drive.

The car stopped in Rockbank and they got very excited, thinking we had arrived at our destination.  But no.  We had stopped for toasted sandwiches.  They were happy to be fed a second breakfast.  We were happy to have our first :-D

The car stopped again in Mornington and they were very excited again.  But we still hadn't got to where we were going.  And there were no toasted sandwiches this time.  Lindsey and I had gone into Tully's for supplies.

Finally we got to Mount Martha.  Hooray! This time we had arrived.  We had gone to Grandma Stella and Grandpa Tony's place for lunch. Rupert and Hugo were very well behaved.  They didn't knock anyone over. They didn't eat the lunch while it was being prepared. They didn't eat Grandma Stella's teddies. They did have a nice run around in the courtyard and a play with their own teddies and they did snuggle Stella. I think they had a good time.

Then we got back in the car and Rupert and Hugo settled in for the long drive back. They were much surprised when the car stopped just three or four minutes later.  They were even more surprised to look out the window and see that we were at a park.  And there were LOTS of Great Danes in the park. It was another Great Dane meet.  We all got out of the car and went into the park.  It was a gated off-lead park for dogs!  This was very exciting. They ran and ran and ran and ran and ran.  Some of the dogs had been at Lake Wendouree a fortnight ago.  Others were new friends.  There were about 12 Great Danes, a deerhound, a mastiff of some sort and two Great Dane puppies. Confusingly, there was another Dane called Hugo and he was also a blue dane!!  Fortunately Lindsey had brought bandanas for her dogs so we could tell them apart from all the other blue and black dogs.

Great Danes gathering

Hugo and Rupert RUNNING



They slept well in the car on the way home!

Jim and I had quite an exciting weekend too.  Not only did we accompany Rupert, Hugo and Lindsey on their adventure on Sunday but on Saturday we had been unexpectedly summoned up to Hill House for dinner.  Ian wanted to use the rotisserie on his barbecue. So we packed up and went up for the night, to feast on rotisseried tandoori chicken. Much more exciting than the sesame salmon that I had been thinking of

I have been looking at the photos I have taken this year with a view to putting some into folders for the calendars I make at Christmas.  I seem to have lots of photos of dogs, lots of photos of sunsets and sunrises and not very much else.  They are not going to be very exciting calendars at this rate :-D

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Fairly Quiet

It's been a quiet few days.

The Weather Dogs have brought rain, wind and cool temperatures to Ballarat, although they did take their clouds and rain away when Jim, Lindsey and I went to the monthly Bridge Mall market.  I particularly wanted to go for the mushrooms and the eggs, plus the bacon if the pork people were there.  Both the mushroom seller and the egg seller have bags and trays of seconds mushrooms and eggs at bargain prices. I do not mind mis-shapen produce, nor do I mind if my eggs and mushrooms are not of uniform sizes.  If you want to sell me bags of mushrooms and trays of eggs at half price, then I am happy to buy them and eat them. The bacon people were there. I bought bacon supplies and pork chops.  Lindsey bought us all egg and bacon rolls for breakfast.

Back at home I had a Japanese lesson that was more complicated than I expected it to be. I was the only student and the sensei decided (rightly) that I already knew the grammar point that the lesson was covering and turned it into a conversation lesson.  Stretched my vocal and grammar, that did!

We went out the Elaine farm shop in the afternoon and are now set up with provisions for the next little while. We'll need milk, bread and fresh veg but for the rest I think we're good.  I bought apples, oranges and mandarins at the market, which should keep for a while.  And, of course, we might eat them! So the fruit bowl is full, the veg bowl almost so. The freezers are satisfactorily stocked. We are not likely to starve :-D

We had a very quiet Sunday and then moved up to Lindsey and Ian's place on Monday afternoon. It was almost a catastrophe.  We had been there for an hour or so when I realised that we had left our wine supplies at Tani no uchi!!!!!!!  Fortunately, our place is only a five minutes drive from Lindsey and Ian's place. I went down and retrieved some.

Aside from that, not much has happened.  The weather remains cold, wet and windy in Ballarat.  Less so in Melbourne but you wouldn't exactly call it warm and sunny. And now I am off to work, then back to Ballarat this evening. Another week progressing without incident. (So far, at least)

Monday, July 02, 2018

Weekend Report

We have had a lovely weekend.

On Friday Jim came down to Melbourne with me. He took the tram from Reservoir to the flat in East Melbourne and spent the day there while I was at work. I met him there later in the afternoon and we took the tram to Queen's College in Parkville.

We had gone to a party to celebrate Robert and Susan's 50th wedding anniversary.  50 years.  That's quite some achievement.  I first met them when Robert came to be chaplain at Ormond College, where I was living at the time.  Both Queen's and Ormond are residential colleges attached to the University of Melbourne.  I was pregnant with Tabitha at the time which means I have been friends with them for 41 years.  This comes as something of a shock to me!

It was a nice and gentle party. It was good to catch up with bygone friends, to catch up with not so bygone friends and to meet new people. It was also good that we had gone on the tram. There was nice wine to be drunk and some delicious finger food.  But not too much of either.  We were supposed to be going out for dinner!

Back to East Melbourne, and into the Prince Patrick pub for dinner with Lindsey.  You may remember that Jim and I went to the PP earlier in June and had a very pleasant pub food meal. We had another very pleasant pub food meal this time. And they are quite obliging.  I asked if it was possible to have chips rather than bread with the steak sandwich and they said "But of course - steak and chips; a classic combination".  Lindsey had the pie of the day. It was HUGE!

We had a leisurely start Saturday. I fetched toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches and hot drinks from the cafe under the flat for breakfast. We went to Ikea with Lindsey and bought a chest of drawers for our bedroom.  Then Lindsey headed off to Mount Martha, and Jim and I made our way home - where Jim spent the rest of the day assembling the Ikea flat pack drawers.  He only swore a few times, largely when he misunderstood the picture instructions for assembly.

On Sunday there was a meet and greet for a facebook group that Lindsey is a member of.  It's a Great Dane lovers' group which I believe meets quite regularly but not usually in Ballarat.  They met at this time last year by Lake Wendouree and had decided to do it again this year.  And this year Lindsey and Ian, Jim and I and Rupert and Hugo went too.  We were spectacularly lucky with the weather. It was a glorious winter's day.  Hugo and Rupert were delighted to meet a whole group of great danes. We met in one of the pavilions by the lake, had a walk around the botanical gardens, a barbecue lunch, some of the dogs had a massage and we went on a tram ride.  The tram had to slow down or even stop from time time so people could take photos of the tram with loads of great danes hanging out the windows :-D  Generally, the dogs attracted quite a lot of attention with people wanting to pat them and talk to them.  It was a good day and Rupert and Hugo seemed to enjoy it, although they weren't so keen on the massage. Lindsey is keeping an eye out for other meetings that we can take them to.

Lake Wendouree on a sunny winter Sunday morning

Hugo: What are they? Swans? Can I chase them?

Great Danes in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens
(across the road from the lake)

Lindsey and Rupert (and another swan)

Rupert on the tram

Hugo on the tram
And now it is Monday and we are poised for another week.  I am off to Melbourne tomorrow morning, leaving Jim, Rupert and Hugo at Hill House.  I *think* that this should be a "normal" week, with people following the usual routine. Might well be wrong though :-D

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Sunday morning was much duller (weatherwise) than Saturday morning had been, but it was also much less cold:

The cloud and mist lifted as the morning got up and got itself organised.  And in the mid-morning Jim and I set off for a day in Daylesford in pleasant sunshine.

We had thought that we would go to the Daylesford Sunday trash and treasure market, given that it was a nice day. Then Lindsey said that we should try the Mill Markets. We drive past the Daylesford one whenever we go there and do think that we should drop in one day.  Come to that, there's one on the road to Melbourne in Ballarat that I drive past several times a week and think that we should drop in one day.  Sunday was the day we dropped in to the one in Daylesford.

It's huge!  And full of everything that anyone could ever want to buy from such a place. We could have spent hours and hours in there and not looked at everything.  We did run across this gentleman and think he would be a useful addition to our front porch:

He would keep weird men away from our front door!

Alas, he was not for sale. But even if he had been I'm not sure he would have fitted in our car.

These young lads, however, were for sale and did fit in the car. They came home with us:

I'm not sure if they're frost proof.  If they are, or when the weather warms up, I'm going to put them in our herb garden. They're a bit small to act as protectors against weird men on the front porch but they should be ok in with the sage and oregano.

We did go to the trash and treasure market for a wander round, then we went to Gillie's place for lunch.

Gillie has gorgeous little cottage on the edge of Daylesford, with lovely gardens which have vegetables, fruit trees and chickens - amongst other things.  She fed us a delicious lunch, the centrepiece of which was a proper British steak and kidney suet pudding. This was sandwiched between zucchini fritters with smoked salmon to start, and lemon surprise pudding to finish. Irene was there (she made the lemon pud), and so too were Chris and John. It was a lovely meal. And very satisfying.  Jim and I only had a slice of apple cake each in the evening.

All in all it was a lovely day. Next time we go to Daylesford on a Sunday we must bear in mind that there is a small, local veg market across the road from the trash and treasure market.  And we really ought to go and look art the Mill Market in Ballarat. It's only in Warrenheip. We wouldn't even need to cross the city!  I am, in fact, about to drive past it.  I am just waiting for it to get light and then I am heading to Melbourne for a couple of days. 

Monday, June 25, 2018


By and large, we had a quiet and peaceful Saturday.

We woke up to a glorious sunrise, with the promise of a lovely day to come.  It was definitely on the chilly side though. All the roofs around us were covered in frost

The day proceeded without anything very much happening.  At about 4 o'clock I suggested that we do a bit of a Masterchef catch up.  We had both missed Sunday's episode and I had only caught odd bits of subsequent ones (although we had both seen all of Thursday's, which is the last for the week).

So I poured us a glass of wine each and we sat down for a Masterchef banquet.

At about ten to five, Jim saw a couple of people walk up the drive.  I didn't see them.  I did notice a couple of other people walk up past us a few minutes later but didn't pay much attention. I was, after all, watching Masterchef.

I did notice when they all walked back down a minute or two later (must have been an ad break 😀). One of them waved at Jim who was stood at the window watching.  Jim waved back (Yeah - don't do that again! Where's your British reserve gone? 😛)

The bloke turned back and came and knocked at our door.

         "My daughter is thinking of buying this place," said he. "This place or #5."

Really?  The estate agent hasn't mentioned it.

          "She came and looked at it last week."

No, no she didn't.

          "Oh no.  It was #5 that she looked at. But she would prefer to buy this place"

Really? But she hasn't looked at it. Why would you buy something you haven't looked at?

           "Well they're identical. She doesn't need to look at it.  What's it like living around here?" 

(I pondered the logic of wanting to buy something you haven't looked at when you have looked at something the mirror image of it and there is, apparently, no difference)

Well, we've only recently moved in. But it's a lovely place to live. Nice and quiet.  We're tenants and we have a year's lease.

           "Oh that's not an issue.  We can always break the lease"

No, no you can't.  We were explicitly told that the lease couldn't be broken when we rented the place.

You can see why this conversation was proving to be unsettling.  We had no idea who this bloke was. He might well have had a daughter who was thinking of buying but equally he might not.  And it hardly endeared him to us when he casually announced that our lease didn't matter and they could easily break it.  Then he asked a load of very odd questions.  Or they were odd in relation to Mount Helen.

How much petty crime do you get ?  (What - in Mount Helen?)

Much anti-social behaviour? (I say again - in Mount Helen?)

What about fly-tipping, violence in the complex, domestic violence?  No, not at all (I'm sure there is domestic violence in Mount Helen but it isn't played out in public and certainly not in the units around us.  No massive arguments on the doorstep, no shouting so you can be heard)

I asked, I think somewhat incredulously, why he would expect any of those things. He replied that the units in the area he lived were very unsavoury places.

Our units are so quiet that it is noteworthy when we encounter our neighbours face to face. We see them in their cars and everyone waves when that happens, but you don't often see people ambling around.

I said to him three times that he was making me feel uncomfortable. I must say that I didn't feel in any danger.  Jim was there too but even if he hadn't been I don't think the bloke was dangerous.  But he was making me very suspicious. My librarian's antennae were on alert. In part it was because when I said he was making me feel uncomfortable he didn't go away, which most people would. In part because it is very unsettling when someone you don't know says that your 12 month lease doesn't mean anything. And also because I hadn't seen a daughter and he could have been anyone. Anyway, it was unusual behaviour, especially since it was beginning to get dark

He took serious offence when I said for the third time the he was making me uncomfortable and disappeared in a cloud of umbrage declaring that least he knew how his daughter would be treated. Only she wouldn't be if she didn't bale people up their doorsteps and refuse to go away.

I waited a couple of minutes and then went out to see if he was still about.  He wasn't. And then I rang the Ballarat police, not because we felt threatened but Just in Case. If he did happen to be a chancer who was casing the place I thought the police might want to know. The nice police officer who answered the phone said that they would definitely want to know. She suggested that if it happened again I should call the emergency number. I had already pondered if ringing the police at all was a bit of an over-reaction.  Calling Triple Zero would definitely have been overly dramatic.

So that was Saturday. Mostly quiet but ending in a very unsettled manner.

Today (Monday) I rang the estate agent who is managing the sale of the place. It seems there is a young woman interested in buying #5. The estate agent and the daughter have had no conversations about our place. She says that our place is being marketed to investors as having stable, long term tenants and not to the private home market. And our lease can't be broken just because the new owner wants to move in.  And if such a thing should ever happen again that I was to tell the person that all enquiries were to go through the estate agency and to close the door.

Actually, I think if he had said "I'm Fred from Upper Woop Woop and my daughter is thinking of buying one of the units that are for sale; do you mind if I ask you a few questions about the local area" neither Jim nor I would have thought anything of it and would have cheerfully answered questions about the local area.  His was very odd behaviour, I tell you.  Though I am fairly certain he thought our behaviour was odd too.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Kitchen Utensils

I can't remember if I was reading or listening, but I recently read/heard a story that someone was telling of when their mother went into an aged care facility.  The mother had chosen some of her things to take with her, had made a list of other things that she wanted kept and had told her family to dispose of everything else.  Over time, of course, there were some things which had gone which she regretted not keeping. And as she got even older she forgot about the list and the decisions and wondered where all her lovely things had gone to

As I read/listened, I reflected that you don't need to be old or forgetful or confused to have similar thoughts and experiences.  I still can't imagine what nearly Two Years Ago Frannie was thinking when she decided to leave her large Le Creuset stock pot in England (and then to bring the small one that didn't get used all that often!)  It doesn't matter now because the single pot has been replaced by another stock pot plus a smaller casserole dish (neither is Le Creuset), but it is still a puzzle to me.  I know why I didn't bring some things that I miss a bit, like my cast iron dachshund boot scraper - which would have had to have been cleaned to within an inch of its life if it was to be admitted into Australia. But the decision making behind other things is lost in the mists of time.  And mostly it is kitchen equipment

I quite like the fact that we have a mix of things that have returned to Australia after being taken to England with me (a very small collection!), some things that have come from England and some things that are newly bought. But from time to time I go to get something that was in the Tupton kitchen and is not in this one. Such as, last weekend,  an apple corer.  Not sure why the apple corer didn't come but it clearly didn't.  I'll just have to get a new one.  No hurry, I don't actually de-core apples very often. Mostly I used it for baking.  So I put it on my list of things to buy and used a sharp knife instead.

The next time I was in Coles, I looked for one.  No joy.  I looked in Woolworths the next time I was there.  Nup.  I tried the Kmart in Reservoir. They don't stock them.  I tried the kitchen shop. They have run out.  I tried another, bigger supermarket. Nope.  Eventually I ordered one online.  But who would have thought it would be quite so hard to replace an apple corer.  Wouldn't have thought they were a particularly niche bit of kitchen kit!

If I ever emigrate again (unlikely) I will take absolutely everything that is in the kitchen and sort it all out later.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hellenic Republic

Lindsey's friend, Sandy, is over from Perth for a couple of weeks.  Sandy, Lindsey and I are going on a Girlfriends' tour of Japan later in the year and, although I have know of her for many years and we have been friends on Facebook for a couple of years, I have never actually met her.

Sandy, Lindsey and a few other friends arranged to meet for dinner and Sandy and Lindsey decided that it would be good if I went too. After all, it would be unfortunate if we set off to Japan for a fortnight only to discover on Day 1 that we couldn't stand each other!!!  Fortunately I don't think she did take violently against me. The trip to Japan is still on :-D

They had arranged to dine at the Hellenic Republic in East Brunswick. The Hellenic Republic has long been on my hit list so I was not unhappy with the choice.  And I very much enjoyed it.  It mostly does sharing menus.  We decided not to have the set menu but to go freestyle, with a main course and several sides to share.  The food was lovely.  It was all delicious but I especially enjoyed the roast beetroot in pomegranate molasses.  I must see if I can replicate it.  And a special mention must also be given to the pita and tzatziki.

You can't fault the staff who were lovely.  Our booking for 8 was reduced for various reasons (and at very short notice) to 4.  No worries at all - they just shifted the second table, set for 4, away from us and gave it to some walk ins.  All good!

You also can't fault the price.  Trip Advisor has some people complaining that it is too expensive, but it worked out for us at about $34 per person, which included a chicken main for 3 and a spinach pastry main for 1, plus the sides.  Granted we didn't have wine - three of us were driving and Lindsey had to observe a webinar on the way home.  But even so, I think that represented very good value.

If Greek food is your thing, I would thoroughly recommend it.  There are other locations as well, in Kew, Brighton and Williamstown, should East Brunswick not be convenient.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rain, wind, fog, hail

My goodness but it was dramatic getting to Mount Martha on Sunday.

It didn't look as though it would be when we left Mount Helen. True, it was misty and drizzly and you couldn't possibly say that it was hot, or even warm.  But the weather wasn't doing anything noteworthy to say that it is June.

As I drove past Gordon, the mist turned to fog, the drizzle turned to rain and it got darker and darker and darker.

The roads got wetter and wetter. The wind picked up.

We stopped at the Ballan services for fuel - and both got soaked as the wind blew the rain in under the canopy.

It was horrible driving down over the Pikes Creek Reservoir bridge, but fortunately there was a roadwork truck emblazoned with lights ahead of us, so we could at least see where we were going.

Then it all lifted a bit and was much easier driving by Bacchus Marsh and Melton, down past the Western Ring Road and onto the Westgate Freeway.

Until we got to Footscray, where it got very, very dark, the heavens opened, hail came to join the party and it was almost impossible to see. They've been doing roadworks along there and in the rain it is impossible to see which road markings you should be following. The traffic had slowed to a walking pace. We all inched along and took very great care.  Except for the idiots who decided that they didn't need to put their headlights on and so were very difficult to spot. Made merging lanes an even greater challenge than it would have been anyway.

We all inched our way over the Westgate Bridge, heading towards the city.  It didn't look as though there had been a storm in the city and when we emerged from the Burnley Tunnel everything was pretty much dry.  All we encountered from then on were patches of drizzle.

We had a good time at Mount Martha. Stella and Tony both seemed to be in reasonably good form. We had beef and rosemary pie with roast potatoes and veg, followed by apple pie for lunch. We looked at some old photos and postcards. It wasn't a long visit but we enjoyed it.

Heading back home again we had reasonable weather and good driving - until we got back to the Ballan/Gordon area where once again the heavens opened and we had to drive with even more care than usual.  I am coming to think there is a permanent weather system tethered to that bit of the world.  The last few times I've been through there with Lindsey it has been pouring down.

We had dinner and then stayed over at Lindsey and Ian's place on Sunday night. Lindsey and I left early on Monday morning to go to work. Ian also left for Melbourne. Jim, Rupert and Hugo were left in charge at Mount Helen until later today when all three of us, but separately, will return.

This was my view from East Melbourne this morning:

Friday, June 15, 2018

And a quiet week

And we did indeed have a quiet couple of days at the end of the weekend.  I made soup and cooked a lamb backstrap for Sunday and Monday evenings.  We dropped down to our place to check up on it and to make sure it remembered us. I made stew for Rupert and Hugo for the week.  Otherwise we didn't do anything very much.

I went down to work on Tuesday morning and stayed over in the flat.

Lindsey and Ian came back from their exciting trip to Canada.

Lindsey reclaimed her car ;-(

She and I came back to Mount Helen late on Wednesday afternoon, leaving Ian languishing in Melbourne.  Rupert and Hugo seemed mildly pleased to see her :-D  Rupert behaved as though he had springs on his feet and their tails wagged and wagged. They were quite pleased to see me too, but I had only been away overnight so my reappearance wasn't quite as exciting as Lindsey's return after almost three weeks.

We stayed at Hill House overnight and then moved all our stuff back down to Tani no uchi yesterday morning.  It was surprising quite how much of our stuff had made its way up there. Last night we abandoned Lindsey to her own devices, and ate and slept at our place for the first time in three weeks.

For mysterious reasons I was awake at 4:30 this morning.  This was slightly annoying because I really needed to be up between 5 and 5:30 and it's hardly worth lying in bed trying to sleep for a mere 30 minutes.  It seemed a bit odd not to be greeted by sleepy Great Danes when I went to put the kettle on, but it was quite nice to get dressed ready for work and not to get muddy marks all over my clean clothes!

It's been a quiet-ish week.

So.  A cup of coffee, I think, and then Lindsey and I will head back to Melbourne for a day in the surgery. I must remember to take the lunches I prepared yesterday evening!

Oh - and after I published this I noted that this is my 1600th blog post. I completely missed the 1500th. I was slightly surprised to note this milestone. When I started the blog, largely by accident, I wasn't expecting to write more than a dozen or so posts.

Right.  Must get ready.  Lindsey will be here soon to pick me up.