Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Thursday and Friday

The plan for Thursday had been that Jim and I would head to Melbourne at midday or so.  I would tidy the kitchen and guest bathroom and toilet at Hill House before we went. Then I would do Stella's room and ensuite on Friday morning.

Lindsey rang while I was in the shower on Thursday morning.  Her meeting which had been scheduled from 10-1 had been moved forward (by agreement with all the participants; it hadn't just randomly been altered) to an 8:00 start.  So she would head down and collect Stella and bring her up a day early.

This threw my plans into complete chaos!!!

But I had to tidy Stella's room.  As it stood, she wouldn't be able to get to the bed. The room was full of suitcases and bedding and other stuff. By the time midday arrived, I had done our washing and hung it out in the sunshine, tidied Stella's room and cleaned her bathroom and vacuumed the floors, sorted out the kitchen, tidied our room.

We organised the dogs, then drove down to the surgery in beautiful sunshine - and in very little traffic.  It's school holidays and a long weekend was upon us so there wasn't much traffic.  We arrived in good time, had lunch in a nearby Red Rooster and arrived in the surgery a little more than 5 minutes before Jim's scheduled appointment with the audiologist.

Deb the receptionist said that the audiologist had been asking if Jim had arrived for around half an hour, though we were not late.  So we went down to the room she was using.  She was not there.  We returned to the reception area waited and waited and waited. She did not come and call him.  It got to time for my appointment.  She did not call me. Then someone who we assumed was the audiologist walked past, smiled at us, stopped at the desk and then left.  Jim and I were confused.  So I went to see what was happening.  Deb was also confused.  She thought we had already been seen.  We went and waited the audiologist's room until she came back.  Having come all the way down from Ballarat, we did not want her to glide over our appointments completely and to call the next person who had, by now, arrived for his appointment.

She returned full of apologies. In a massive confusion of understanding she had assumed that we had not turned up (not helped by someone else telling her that I didn't work there on Thursdays, lived up country and therefore was unlikely to come in; she didn't ask Deb, who knew we were coming and in any case knew that we had arrived).  But never mind.  We eventually had our hearing assessments.  No real surprises.  My hearing remains good.  Jim's is also good but he is losing the upper registers, which is not uncommon as you get older and which we had already surmised. I can still hear high pitched sounds that he doesn't hear.

We got back to Hill House not long after Lindsey and Stella had arrived. Lindsey was still unpacking the car.  We stayed up there overnight.  Lindsey had raided Tully's in Mornington and there was beef pie, mash and green vegetables on offer.

And also, Freyja and Simon were coming for lunch on the Friday, which was a public holiday in Victoria for the football Grand Final parade in the Melbourne city centre.  We had arranged for them to go to Hill House in the expectation that Lindsey and Stella would be on their way up from Mount Martha.  Also, they were coming to collect the newly repaired UIW.

I made a vegan friendly gardeners' pie for lunch.  Lots and lots of veg, a tin of baked beans and some gravy.  When Lindsey had made the mash to go with our beef pie on Thursday night, the potatoes went from rock hard to mush in the space of around three minutes (so clearly an issue with boiling that variety of potato rather than my ineptitude :-D ). I didn't really want to spend my time watching potatoes with an eagle eye so that they were at an exact consistency for mashing for my gardeners' pie.  Frozen mash from the supermarket tends to have milk and butter in it, so not suitable for vegans. Then I remembered that one of the food magazines, on the cover of one of the autumn issues, had had a photo of a shepherds' pie topped with potato gems - which are vegan friendly.  I dashed to Mount Clear and bought a packet. They were perfect!

Freyja and Simon crossed their fingers and set off back to Melbourne in UIW.  We got a text message to say they had safely passed Gordon, where they had broken down on the previous attempt. Then another to say they had safely arrived home.  By that time, Jim and I were also at home, having packed up Ziggy and left Stella and Lindsey in the tender care of Rupert and Hugo.  I think it's almost two weeks since we last spent the night at Tani.  Lindsey says we have a holiday house (Tani) a mere 5 minutes away from where we live (Hill House) :-D

And now we must get on. The morning is moving on and we are going out with Lindsey and Stella at lunchtime. If nothing else, I must iron something to wear today. I seem to have run out of clean, ironed clothes!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Lindsey and I went into town on Thursday morning.  She dropped me off and went on to Tai chi and then her piano lesson.  I went into the Honda Hospital and picked up UIW, now with a new alternator and new starter motor but not a new battery, which they had managed to re-charge.  Then UIW and I went back to Hill House.

I had a culinary disaster on Thursday evening.  My potatoes and leeks, intended for mash, turned into mush!!!  They were ready before the chicken kievs and mushrooms were, so I turned them off and left them to keep warm.  When I came back the potatoes had gone all mushy in the hot water.  So I blitzed them up into soup and added a larger dollop of butter. I put the soup into big soup bowls and decorated the soup with slices of kiev and lots of crispy garlic mushrooms.  We had it with a chunky salad on the side.  It tasted lovely!  I had assumed it was because I left the potatoes in hot water to wait until the kievs were ready, but I am coming to think it might be the kind of potato.  We haven't had them before (they're called Bliss) and they are much inclined to go from rock hard to mush in water unless you keep a close eye on them. They make very excellent chips and roasties, though.

The weather in the latter part of last week was warm and very windy.  Perfect for drying the clothes. Not so perfect for drying the bed sheet which made a bid for freedom and tried to fly to Bacchus Marsh. Fortunately a bush near the washing line captured it and I brought it in to finish drying inside. Then the weekend arrived and with it arrived cold, wet, misty weather.  No wind, but there was no point trying to do anything outside.

So Jim and I stayed inside, up at Hill House, with Rupert and Hugo. Lindsey and Ian were in Sydney. It was a pleasant, quiet weekend in which very little happened. A soup and toast sort of weekend.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


So a tow truck came and collected UIW on Friday and took it to the Honda Hospital, ready for its appointment on Monday.  It was to have a new alternator and a new underskirt around the front nose. You may remember that the underskirt had weathered and the nose of the car would become dislodged if you got too close to  a kerb, or even to the agapanthus in our driveway. It was time for it to be replaced

I went into town on the bus on Monday afternoon to go to the library and then to collect the car.  I rang from the library to find to what time I could collect it, only to be told that they were having trouble starting it. They rang back ten minutes later to tell me that when the alternator had died it had taken with it the starter motor and the brand new battery, which now needed replacing as well.

UIW was left in the Honda Hospital and I went back to Mount Helen on the bus.  It should be ready to pick up by now - I haven't heard of any further problems.  But it will have to wait until Thursday.

We had a good day on Saturday.  It was a glorious morning, so Lindsey, Jim and I went out to the lakeside market, which was busy and bustling. We went out to the farm shop in Elaine. Jim and I went out to Delacombe in the afternoon.  I have put some little seedlings in the small pots on our patio. It is almost time to start planting the small, summer seeds like tomatoes. The bean seeds I planted earlier are starting to shoot.  Not the zucchini, cucumber or pumpkin seeds.  i wonder if they got too wet and rotted.  I'll give them another few days and then re-sow.

Our early spring harvest. The sprouting broccoli has just started.  We have almost finished the cauliflowers. The Brussels sprouts didn't really come to anything but we have been eating the tops and the leaves.  We also have carrots in a box at our place.  Must sow some more carrot seeds soon.

I remembered, during a conversation with Lindsey over the weekend, that once, long ago, we had considered the possibility of a rail trip across France and Spain to Morocco.  It never eventuated because Lindsey and Ian didn't come back to the UK after we had thought about it.  But Jim and I will be in the UK in March and have a free week for a "holiday".  No reason why we shouldn't do it on our own.  I spent most of Sunday afternoon putting a rail trip together.  I can't actually book the trains yet - it's too early.  But I can see what the timetables are like and I can book accommodation.  So I did. Accommodation booked in Paris, Barcelona, Algeciras and Marrakech.  Flight booked back to London. I'll book the trains when the tickets open.

It was slightly chilly when I left to go to work yesterday morning.

It's long time since I went out to find the windscreen quite so iced up. The advantage to being at Hill House was that I could turn the car on and put the heater on full bore onto the windscreen. By the time I had gone inside to tell Jim about it and come back out again, the windscreen had started to clear.  Had I done that in Tupton I suspect I wouldn't have had a car to go back to :-D  And it's just as well that the bean seeds are on the window sills in our lounge room. I don't think they would have enjoyed quite such a cold night. outside

We are at Hill House this week and next.  Must remember to pop down to our place from time to time and (lightly) water the seeds and new seedlings.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Rain and Cars

The weather at the weekend was definitely not springlike - well, not unless you think spring weather is cold, persistent rain and strong wind!

Even so, we braved the Bridge Mall market with Lindsey and came away with scones and cheeses, veg and eggs, tiny cakes  and some packs of sausages.

Then Jim and I drove down to Mount Martha, where we ate the scones, the cheeses and the tiny cakes with Stella.  (We ate them in the company of Stella; we didn't eat Stella as well - that would have been very greedy :-D )

We did all the usual Mount Martha Sunday things.  Supermarket, lunch in the Dava. And I cleared out the bathroom cupboard for Stella.

Back in Mount Helen, Freyja and Simon had arrived to collect the Accord, which had been sitting, unused, over the winter.  It hadn't been used much before that, not once we took over the care of Ziggy.  Simon has recently got his driving licence and Lindsey and Ian felt that UIW would be happier if it was being used and offered to lend it to Simon.  A new battery was put in. They took it for a spin. All seemed well, except that the battery light on the dashboard wouldn't go off.  But it was a new battery so they tightened up the connector and off Simon and Freyja set.  They only got as far as Gordon before the indicator lights stopped working.  The speedo stopped reading. One by one the electrical things stopped working.

I've been in a car before when that was happening.  It was Emily's old car and we were hitching a ride with her from Mount Helen to Melbourne some years ago when we were over visiting from England. We came off the freeway in Melton and rolled to a halt outside a Nandos where we had lunch while waiting for the breakdown people.  It was a problem with the alternator.  And so it was with UIW.  They rolled off the freeway at Gordon, alas not outside a food outlet, and waited in the cold until a breakdown person came and took them back to Mount Helen.  And there UIW remains.  Freyja and Simon took the train back to Melbourne.  UIW is booked in for a new alternator on Monday. We just need to organise a tow truck to get it there

In the meantime, Lindsey's car went in to be serviced in Ballarat on Thursday. When we collected it we were told that it urgently needed new tyres and that really it wasn't safe to drive very far on the old ones. Alas, they can't fit new tyres for another two weeks. So Lindsey and I are driving around in Ziggy (who recently got new tyres) and Lindsey's car is booked in on Friday in Reservoir for its new tyres. She is not best pleased that her (branded) mechanic for her expensive car can't fit her in for new tyres but the Kmart service place in the Summerhill shopping centre managed to find a space for her.

It's still raining. Not quite as windy.  But quite cold.  Typical spring weather, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Fathers' Day

It was Fathers' Day on Sunday in Australia.

Tony, of course, is no longer with us but that didn't seem a reason not to Have Lunch.  Anyway, Jim is a father and so too is Ian. Not everyone could join us so we organised to meet in the Prince Patrick across the road from the flat, which was more convenient for the majority of us than the Dava in Mount Martha.

Wendy brought Stella up from Mount Martha. Jim and I came down from Ballarat.  Lindsey, Ian and Emily were there and Susie and her partner Chris also joined us. It was a lovely day, the company was merry and the food was good.  Some of us went to Bunnings after lunch.  There's one a very short walk down the road. Then Jim and i headed back to Mount Helen to stay with Rupert and Hugo.

It was a good weekend all round.  The weather was lovely during the day, with rain overnight (much like Camelot :-D)  We went to the Elaine farm shop on Saturday, and to the garden centre for various necessities of early spring.  I have planted some early sowings of beans, zucchini and cucumbers, although they are inside rather than in the little greenhouse. It's really a bit early but I thought if they are inside we might get a few weeks extra growing time.

A plumber came on Monday and mended our toilet, which had developed a very slow and gentle leak from the cistern into the pan.  It needed a new washer.  I had never thought of toilets having washers so hadn't even looked to see if it was something I could fix myself!  While he was there he bounded up a ladder and cleared out all our gutters. This was something of a relief to me.  I knew the gutters needed clearing but had assumed that tenants were responsible for that.  Neither Jim nor I are planning to scale ladders onto the roof, whether bounding or crawling slowly, and I had been wondering how to employ someone to do it for us.  Fortunately it turns out that in Victoria owners are responsible for the gutters, not  the tenants and the letting agent sorted it out.

I had an appointment with the hand therapist at St Vincent's on Tuesday morning. She is very pleased with my hand.  The little finger has gone from 44d to 29d.  My fist is almost ready for me to recommence my boxing career.  The strength in my palm is improving.  I go back in 6 weeks.

And I may need to dig out my spring clothes. It is far too early to declare winter over and I have no immediate plans to put my cold weather clothes away - but I was far too warm yesterday in my winter shirt and jumper.