Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Monday, September 26, 2022

A Confusion of Days

It's been quite difficult working out what day it has been over the past few days.

Thursday was The National Day of Mourning for the Queen, allowing time for the Prime Minister and the Governor General to get back from London. There was a ceremony in the Great Hall in Parliament House in Canberra. There were lots of wattle flowers. LOTS and LOTS of wattle flowers. I know the wattle flower is Australia's national floral emblem and they are in bloom at the moment, but it was a very great deal of wattle, even up to people inserting sprigs of wattle into wreaths at the front of the hall. It was like watching the congregation in a cathedral all coming up to take communion. Distinctly underwhelming. In fact, the whole thing was underwhelming. I understand that you couldn't possibly hope to match the pomp and pageantry that Britain can turn on but really - a little pomp and ceremony might have been in order.

I have to admit that I wasn't properly watching it. I had gone up to Rupert and Hugo's place to do a few things and it happened to be on the television. Lindsey and Ian had gone to Sydney for the weekend and had left the TV on the ABC for the dogs' amusement. I am not sure how amusing the Memorial Event was!

Friday was a public holiday in Victoria, for the Footie Grand Final Parade. I did not go to Melbourne to watch the parade. I picked Wendy up from the station and we went and visited Stella and Jim. By now it was becoming difficult to work out what day it actually was. I don't usually work on Thursday, but I also wasn't doing the things I usually do on Thursdays. Friday was impossible to place. It had all the hallmarks of a Saturday, but we weren't doing Saturday things and it was all a bit odd.

On the actual Saturday morning, Wendy and I went to the Amazing Mill Markets at Warrenheip 

and then took Stella to The Boatshed for lunch.

I think Stella was a bit disappointed that we didn't have another seafood platter but it would have been something of a waste. Too many things that the three of us wouldn't eat. We had barramundi and chips instead

Wendy had a brown sugar meringue for dessert

She wasn't expecting anything quite this big!

Stella had her first ever affogato. I had described to her what an affogato was, but I don't think she was expecting this:

A huge serve of ice cream,
a shot of espresso
a double shot of cointreau

"I'm not sure how I'm supposed to eat this!" was her comment, after she stopped laughing

She managed 😋

Finally! A day we could identify! Sunday!

Freyja and Simon were in town, looking after Rupert and Hugo. So we had a Roast Potato Party at my place. Wendy and I were at the supermarket bright and early for a mountain of potatoes (you need plenty of potatoes for a Roast Potato Party). I collected Stella. Freyja and Simon came down. And we had roast potatoes, roast pumpkin and carrots, simmered peas, green beans and broad beans and gravy. Stella and I shared a lamb backstrap,  Freyja, Simon and Wendy shared some vegan kievs and crumbed ficken. It was all very delicious - and there are some extra roast potatoes for me to have tonight.

My Roast Potato Party lunch

And now it is Monday. Everyone has gone back to their own homes and I am here on my own.

All this excitement is quite exhausting!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lindsey and I went to Mount Martha last Sunday to carry on with the clearing out of Stella's house. 

Lindsey has packed up most of the things in the study, even if only by putting them in boxes and taking them to her place to sort out later. I have packed up more crockery and more books. We are hoping to have a day when as many of us as possible can go and pack boxes with enthusiasm. We need to get a skip or three at some point.

Lindsey found Tony's rainfall records going back 30 years or so. I've got the more recent ones, over the last five years or so of his life, but we knew that he had records going back much further than that. They're at my place now. We also found the family tree he, and before him an uncle, had worked on over many years, plus an official copy of his father's Freedom of the City of London certificate. They're now also at my place. I might try to bring the family tree up to date, as much as I can. One day - when I have time!

Rupert, Hugo and I watched The Funeral Ceremonies on Monday night, wrapped in blankets on the couch up at Hill House. We slept through quite a bit of it, but woke up for marching bands and other exciting bits. I, at least, was awake for the Windsor ceremonies. I'm not so sure about Rupert and Hugo!

Matthew was in Mount Helen on Sunday night and dropped down to my place on Monday morning to take away some of Jim's tools. I've sorted out some other duplicates for Freyja and Simon, if they want them. The sorting out of the garage has begun. It needs quite a lot more! I am also thinking of bringing the bureau desk here from Mount Martha. I have a flat desk in my study but I don't really use it now that I am here on my own. The bureau desk will take up less space and provide more storage (not that I want storage, of course, given my de-cluttering program!!!) Then I need to think about what to do with the flat desk. I might pop it on Facebook marketplace, which is where I got it from.

There were multiple major accidents on the road network around Melbourne yesterday, which closed the Western freeway amongst other roads. I didn't know about them when I left here early yesterday morning to make my way to work. I was surprised, but not excessively so, when the sat nav took me along the back roads from here towards Ballan. I was very surprised when it didn't drop me onto the freeway at Ballan but took me towards Geelong and then along a steep, winding road towards Glenmore and then Rowsley.

I've been along this road before. It reminds me very much of the road that drops down into Rowsley in Derbyshire. It's a very pretty road but I am hugely grateful that I wasn't driving it in the dark. Mind you, there were lots of cars and even some trucks driving along it as well so I could have just followed them had it been dark. I followed them anyway.

The sat nav kept me (and everyone else) on the backroads until past Melton and then finally dropped me onto the freeway. It wanted me to come off at Robinsons Road but the queue to come off was over 3 km long. I decided not to. I didn't know that the ring road was also closed! So I went over the West Gate and Bolte Bridges and all around the place and eventually arrived at work a little over three hours after leaving home.

It was a pleasant morning for a country drive but it definitely wasn't what I had planned. Fortunately I had a packed breakfast and a flask of coffee with me.

It's a national public holiday today for the Queen's Australian Memorial Day. Tomorrow is a public holiday in Victoria for the footie grand final. I have a feeling that it is going to be quite a busy weekend, despite me not going to work.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Sunday Lunch

Lindsey, Ian, Stella and I went to The Boatshed by Lake Wendouree for lunch yesterday.

Lindsey, Stella, Jim and I went there for afternoon tea in June and very much enjoyed it. We said then that we should go and try them for lunch.

I booked the table on Saturday, and asked for a wheelchair accessible table. The table they selected for us was right at the back of the restaurant, on a part of the floor which is out over the lake. More than accessible and with the best of views. It was lovely. (It would have been even lovelier if the sun had been out, but you can't have everything :-D )

Photo from Lindsey

Photo from Lindsey

View from our table

We decided to share a seafood platter, which is intended for two. Past experiences suggest that a seafood platter for two is often too much for two, so we decided to share it between the four of us and get another couple of sides. It was exactly enough food for us all, although next time we would get a second plate of chips. There weren't quite enough chips for us to share. We do like our chips!

Photo from Lindsey

Seafood platter - photo from Lindsey

Flags in Australia are flying at half mast at the moment, apart from between 12 noon and dusk local times yesterday when Charles was ceremonially named as King of Australia in Canberra, and in the various states and territories. In Ballarat the public flags are mostly, I believe, managed by volunteers and I wondered if there were enough volunteers to raise them and then lower them again at the appropriate times.

The flag people at the lake managed just fine:

The flags, viewed from our table,
just before midday

and just after midday

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Paying attention

I woke up at around 01:00 on Friday morning, cold. This is unusual - not that I might wake up at 01:00, which is more than usual, but that I was cold. I have a wool filled doona and a snuggly blanket on the bed, plus, often, two cats. I am pretty much never cold in bed.

Anyway. I went into the spare bedroom and collected an extra blanket from the wardrobe. Returning to my bed, I put the radio on, as is my habit when awake in the night. BBC World Service. The presenter was telling us that the Queen was "under medical supervision". I pondered this. It could mean almost anything from being given Panadol every two hours (although this might not be noteworthy) to having a doctor at her side at all times. Then he said that various princes, dukes and duchesses were on their way to Scotland. 

I knew what that meant. Members of the royal family do not drop whatever they happen to be doing and all hot foot it off to Scotland at no notice, without there being a very good reason. A major world event was unfolding. I decided I should perhaps pay attention, given that I was awake anyway.

Brandy and Whiskey were very puzzled. If I was awake and paying attention, even if from my bed, this must surely mean it was breakfast time for cats. They took some convincing that Breakfast Time for Cats, though clearly very significant for them, does not constitute a Major World Event. Anyway, I am not getting up and doling out cat biscuits in the middle of the night.

The radio announcer, who broke the news of the Queen's death, just before the World Service cut to BBC1 for the formal announcement, sounded slightly stunned, although he must surely have known it was coming. I knew, and I was in my bed in Australia, just listening to events not observing them.

I got up, and walked into wall-to-wall Queen. Radio, television, news. To be expected, I suppose, but I was pleased, during the course of the day, that I have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, other sources of televisual content. Sometimes you need something lighter.

I had never noticed that the petrol station in Buninyong has a flagpole and a flag until I went to the Post Office on Friday afternoon and saw the flag at half mast. I assume the flag flies at full mast at other times. I must remember to look.

We are still having trouble convincing Stella's bank that Tony is dead. I took in a copy of his death certificate and happened to get the same person we spoke to on Monday. He was full of apologies but a copy, no matter how well certified, would not do. He needed sight of the original. The certificate of probate also would not do. Original death certificate or nothing - although how you get probate without there being a preceding death is a mystery. The original death certificate is in the flat in East Melbourne where all important documents are kept. The flat is much less likely to be destroyed by a bush fire than either Hill House or Tani.  I will try again next week, original death certificate in hand.

I have put the extra blanket back in the spare wardrobe. It was much too hot in bed with it on, even folded at the bottom of the bed. My feet do not like being hot!

Lindsey and I went to the market yesterday morning, then the mushroom farm. We had a Japanese lesson at lunchtime. We went to visit Stella and Jim in the afternoon. Jim very much enjoyed the lemon meringue cookie that I took in for him. He got meringue all over his beard :-D

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Lunching and Banking

I had a rather good weekend. I did very little on Saturday. I only left the house to go and visit Stella in Mount Clear. Otherwise I just pottered around at home.

I went to Daylesford on Sunday, for lunch at Gillie's house with Irene, Chris and John. It's quite some time since we last met - not really Covid related but because each of us has been away, consecutively. It was a good catch up. And good food. Irene made a quince pie for dessert. I don't recall ever having eaten actual quinces before. Quince paste, quince jelly, yes. Actual quinces, no. They were very tasty. As were the smoked salmon we had for starters and the roast lamb we had for mains.

Yesterday was not as much fun. Stella had managed to lock herself out of her online banking and it proved to be very difficult to get it all sorted out. We couldn't do it over the phone - the bank refused to talk to anyone apart from Stella and she can't see well enough to answer questions such as the number on her bank card or her account number. In desperation Stella, Lindsey and I went into the bank in town. The young man who helped us was very pleasant, very nice, as helpful as he possibly could be but we ran up against Tony as a ghostly joint account presence - which surprised us all, especially Stella. She had converted the account from a joint to a single account when he died. We assumed it was all sorted out and that he had been removed as an account holder. Certainly all correspondence was going to Stella alone. But no. And they wouldn't do some of the things that Stella wanted to do without his permission - which is hard to get when he's been dead for almost four years. We will have to find the death certificate and forcibly remove him. 

I know banks need to be careful about their customers' money and privacy but my heart always sinks when it is necessary to deal with them directly. The staff are always pleasant but bank processes are almost impossible to navigate successfully. How many times do you need to tell them that someone is dead? Or that the account holder is vision impaired and simply can't answer their questions without the help that the bank refuses to let them have?

It would have been a much more pleasant afternoon if we had had tea and cake and sorted through some of Stella's clothes at Hill House, which is what we had planned. Stella and I can do that on Thursday. Lindsey, alas, is otherwise engaged so will miss out.

I called in to see Jim yesterday, before the banking kerfuffle. He was happy. Someone had given him a triple chocolate Kit Kat - I assume the care home for Fathers' Day which was on Sunday. He was happily eating part of it when I arrived (It was a big Kit Kat, not the little ones that I buy for him and which he demolishes in one bite)

Friday, September 02, 2022

September Already

The Bloke with the Hammer turned up on Tuesday and put up picture hooks in Stella's room so she now has some of her pictures hanging up. I've taken in her fancy bears sitting on their sofa (they look as though they are waiting for champagne and canapés!). Her room is looking very home-like and very Stella-like. She says that it still doesn't feel like home, but I think it will, eventually. She also says that it's very nice in her room - and everyone who sees photos of her says that she is looking bright and alert and well

Lindsey and I took her out yesterday, to the Stockland shopping centre in Wendouree. We had tempura bento boxes for lunch in Tokyo Sukiyaki. We went clothes shopping. We wandered around and did some window shopping. I resisted the temptation to go into House. I do not need any more kitchen equipment (for now, at least 😂) We had a lovely potter round and I think Stella enjoyed it a lot.

Out for lunch

Lindsey and I called in to see Jim after we had dropped Stella off. I must organise the Bloke with the Hammer to put some picture hooks up in his room as well. I have some photo boards that could go in there. He seems quite well, although his cognition is noticeably declining. Still, he definitely recognised Lindsey, which is good. He recognised me as well, but I call in, even if briefly, several times a week so he hasn't had much chance to forget me!

Meteorological spring has sprung with bright, sunny mornings. Cold, yes, but definitely sunny. The sun shining through the front windows reminds me that it is a Very Long Time Indeed since I last washed them. I really should! I bought a new window washing attachment for the hose ages ago and still haven't attached it. I really, really should !! 

I wonder if it's too early to try using my new seed germinating heat pad and get the tomato, zucchini, pumpkin and other seeds underway

Now, if anyone can tell me how it got to be 08:00 already, I would be very grateful. Last time I checked the clock I am sure it was only 06:00 or so. Better get on and properly start the day.