Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Busy, Busy, Busy

Last Sunday was calm enough. Lunch with Stella at a new (to us) pub in Mornington.  I think Stella had been there before, but a long time ago. Jim and I had not been there. I had driven past the Mornington Hotel many times but hadn't paid it much attention. Stella said that she had been told that the food was good so we decided to give it a go.

They have an interesting menu. You don't often see King George whiting on a pub menu. Stella LERVS King George Whiting. My lamb backstrap was delicious. The chips passed the pub chip test. My only complaint would be that there was far too much protein and not enough green and orange stuff, for me at least.  I would have preferred half the amount of lamb and green beans or asparagus or baby carrots to supplement the spinach  and baby potatoes that my meat came with. (No chips for me, I had to pinch some of Stella's to apply the chip test.)

After that, the week went bonkers.  I was expecting it. It wasn't a surprise. The surgery had been expecting to move to a new computer system from Friday to Sunday. Much preparation had to be done. The surgery was to be closed on Friday and Saturday (we aren't open on Sundays). The computer people were busy. We were busy.  But we were, more or less, ready.

Then on Thursday the computer changeover was postponed.

We re-opened the surgery on Friday but not Saturday. We did quite well. By the end of Friday the doctors who came in had been pretty much filled up. It wasn't a bad day.  And we are still ready for the changeover when it happens.

Today is the 29th of February. Jim has found it very confusing when the radio or television have declared it to be Saturday the 29th of February. There are only 28 days in February.  He hadn't realised that this is a leap year.  

We have been busy today too, but busy in a different sort of way. Lindsey, Jim and I went out to the Wendouree shopping centre this morning.  I don't go there very often but they have a shoe shop that I wanted to go to. I don't actually have any shoes, only sandals and sometimes you need a pair of actual shoes.  Jim and I did a bit of gardening and a bit of pottering and a bit of sorting. Much more relaxing than preparing for a computer changeover!

Tomorrow Lindsey and Ian are coming for lunch then on Monday Jim and I are taking ourselves to Melbourne and then heading to London for a month pottering around in England, with a week wombling around in France, Spain and Switzerland by train in the middle of it all. One reason why I need some proper shoes - it was cold and wet in Salisbury yesterday. Definitely not sandal weather!

Monday, February 17, 2020


We woke up, at Hill House, yesterday to fog, drizzle, wind and chilliness. The sort of weather you expect in April or May. Less so in February!

Rupert and Hugo were unimpressed with our summer weather!

It didn't really lift all day, although the evening cleared up a bit.

Freyja and Simon came to lunch. We had chicken schnitzels, not chicken schnitzels, potato gems and green things with gravy.

Then they went back to Brunswick, Jim and I went back to our place and Lindsey and Ian came back from Melbourne.

All the excitement of the weekend clearly exhausted Jim. He sat in his chair, turned the telly on - and promptly went to sleep. He slept through dinner and woke up just as I was heading to bed. He can have his Sunday roast tonight instead.

And here we are, back at Monday. It's still not exactly hot but at least it's not particularly foggy- at least not down on the plain where we are.  Lindsey and Ian's hill, however, seems still to be enveloped in cloud. We'll see how things are up there later today when we head up for our usual Monday night with Rupert and Hugo.

It's Hugo's birthday tomorrow.  He will be three.  I am going to make a chicken, veg and pasta stew for them for this week to celebrate. Usually their stew is made with pet mince. They do like their stew but they LERV chicken.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Time Bandits

I swear there are time bandits lurking in my house.

At first, whole mornings would just disappear.  I would sit down first thing to do my French or Japanese vocab practice which takes 10 minutes, 15 minutes tops and suddenly hours had disappeared and I was running seriously late for things.

Then it was days that vanished.

And now it is entire weeks.  Gone.  Just like that!

(I worry that the time bandits will soon start to steal months, years or even decades - and then where will I be???)

It's not even as though nothing has happened.  It's been quite busy in my world recently. I have had plenty to write about but no time to write it.

Hugo got better and is now behaving as though nothing had ever gone wrong.

We had a visitor last weekend. Flora came to lunch on Sunday, bringing Irene with her.

Flora, checking out the garden

Chris, John and Gillie came too.  We had a Picnic in the House, with cheeses and pates, barbecued chicken and lamb, roast veggies and steamed green things.

We had a trifle, using my new trifle bowl. It had no alcohol in it so everyone could have some.  It was very delicious.  I have rediscovered a liking for trifle

We had our 6 monthly rental inspection during the week. I think we must have passed it.  The estate agent asked, somewhat anxiously, if we had any intention of moving.  I have no intention of doing anything quite that energetic, although we are going overseas for a month in two weeks. (See, I said we had time bandits in the house. The overseas trip is AGES away. Or it was. When I organised it)

It is very foggy today.  We are having autumn weather at the moment. We are wearing jumpers. And it's still February.  We really should be complaining about how hot it is.

Right.  I'd better go and do useful things before the time bandits steal all of Saturday.  But first, a cup of tea, I think. (And there goes Saturday morning.  Just Like That!)

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Last week started innocuously enough.  Monday was a public holiday for Australia Day so Lindsey, Jim, Stella and I went to Pipers by the Lake for lunch and then I took Stella back to Mount Martha.

I stayed overnight and went directly to work from there.  Jim was at our place and moved up to Hill House when Ian picked him up mid morning.

Thereafter nothing particularly interesting happened. The week progressed in an orderly manner.

Until Friday.  It was a high fire danger day, and a total fire ban day in our region (which includes both Ballarat and Melbourne.)  It wasn't a particularly unpleasant day.  A bit hot, but not too bad.  Not too windy. Nothing particularly exciting.

Until I went home from work.

As I was approaching Bacchus Marsh I could see smoke.  I couldn't see where it was in relation to Bacchus Marsh. The road winds around the mountains and hills and I don't know the geography well enough to be able to pinpoint the location of the smoke.  But I knew it was unlikely to be a planned burn off.  They don't tend to happen on total fire ban days.

I went past Bacchus Marsh and the smoke disappeared.  It reappeared in the form of a grass fire burning a slope in the Pentland Hills on the approach to Myrniong.  Excitingly, it was lapping at the side of the freeway on the inbound side.  I was on the outbound side heading away from Melbourne. In places it was stepping over to the median strip. There were vehicles stopped on the outbound side. I don't know what they were doing. Calling 000? Taking photos? No idea.  But there was no way I was stopping. I kept going, wondering where the emergency services were.  Then they started heading towards me from Ballan and Ballarat. Inbound traffic was diverted.  Lindsey says that she, passing by around 30 minutes after me, was diverted off the freeway just before Bacchus Marsh but was put back just before the fire. She assumes some sort of accident.

I got home and it started to rain.  Rain was very welcome.

The next morning our rain gauge said we had had 14 ml since it had last been read.  Good.

Lindsey, Jim and I went to the Bridge Mall market on Saturday.  It wasn't actively raining but it was cool and damp. It was a smaller market than usual.  I think the rain and wind overnight had put some of the traders off. It didn't put us off

On Sunday Lindsey (but not Jim who had discovered the existence of a Sunday sports program on the television) and I went to the Buninyong blueberry farm and picked blueberries.  Lindsey said that Hugo was subdued, off his food and vomiting. He wasn't tormenting Rupert or jumping around, but he was chasing rabbits and magpies.

In many ways, Hugo is a much fussier eater than Rupert. But of the two of them it is Hugo who is more likely to eat carrion and other manky stuff. So it seemed a likely explanation of unexplained vomiting, especially since he didn't seem to be in distress.  Subdued, yes but not distressed.

On Monday Lindsey and Ian headed off to work. Jim went up to Hill House.  I stayed in Tani for the morning doing Useful Things. Jim reported that Hugo had thrown up his breakfast and was looking a bit sorry for himself.  By the time I got there he had perked up and was eating small titbits. He positively demolished some roast chicken and rice in the evening. There was some running about in the evening but Rupert was still being very gentle with him.  He (Hugo, not Rupert) also had diarrhoea.

I went to bed reasonably early and suggested that Jim leave the back door open for Hugo Just In Case.  Jim closed our bedroom door so the dogs could access the back door but not jump on our bed. At midnight he got up and made Rupert come in. It is very unusual for us to close our bedroom door and Rupert had gone outside to our floor to ceiling windows and was banging at them and howling. He closed the back door but did not open the kitchen door.

At 2:00 the dogs were whining.  I got up - and found puddles of diarrhoea dotted around the kitchen. I wasn't cleaning up at that time of the morning.  I opened the kitchen door and the dogs went out.  I went round and put layers of kitchen paper over the puddles I could see.

I went to go back to bed. And found one husband and two great danes on the bed.  No room for me.   I couldn't be bothered arguing and went to the spare room, where I was joined ten minutes later by Rupert looking to see where I was.  Hugo came in and got up onto the bed. Rupert went back to our bed.

And that would have been all fine, except that Hugo took up the middle of the bed, leaving me not much room.

Not much sleep for me that night.

Normally I head down to Melbourne fairly early on Tuesday mornings and don't come back until Wednesday evening.  I didn't really feel that I could head off, leaving Jim with a sick great dane, a poo-y kitchen, general chaos and no car. I rang Lindsey and told her I wouldn't be in.

By lunchtime I had: cleaned up the poo, washed the affected areas of floor, swept the slate areas of the South Wing of the house, washed the slate areas, swept them again, washed them again, washed the dog blankets and hung them out, cleared up the kitchen, been out and bought chicken fillets, poached the chicken fillets. By bedtime I had walked over 13000 steps.

Hugo was off his food and very subdued all day. He spent all afternoon asleep on the bed.  I was just saying to Jim that I might put him in the car and take him to the vet in Buninyong because eating carrion really shouldn't still be affecting him - when he came in, sniffed both the dog bowls, rattled them, snuffled at the treat box.  I gave him some poached chicken. He wanted more.  I waited a while and gave him some more.  He ate that and rattled his bowl.  I gave him a small amount of pasta and meat.

Next thing I knew was that he was rushing up and down in the backyard, jumping all over a rather surprised Rupert.  Whatever it was, the long afternoon sleep seems to have fixed it.

No excuse to stay at home for another day, then.

The kitchen end of Hill House did look very, very lovely after all that sweeping and washing. Before the dogs started rushing around in it!