Wednesday: Yes it’s still Wednesday and it’s still wet. It has been raining for most of the night and it’s still raining now. Needless to say Benji and I did not go out for our morning walk. If it stops during the course of the morning I will take him for a walk around the wetlands – staying on the bitumen, of course. At the moment it is pretty heavy with no sign of any let up. Mind you the forecast did say rain today and there you are – it’s really raining
There is a dispute ( like we need more!?!) with the decision to break up Arrium and sell it off. The State government, whilst not entirely opposed to the idea, expressed the view that Arrium should be sold as a whole, not broken up, it stated this morning that if anything in the sale was to the determent of Whyalla or SA then they would pull the tax-payer funded support package. Love this State Government it so inspires confidence! Today is Friday and it’s still raining off and on and tomorrow – Saturday – the ladies hold the “Presbyterian Ladies Brunch” which raises funds for the local Cancer Support Group, which is based at the hospital. Much of the funds raised by various groups goes to a central place in Adelaide and not all that much ever comes back here. Like others we were doing this whilst our local support group struggled but then the ladies decided that this was not right so they stopped supporting organizations that do very little for the local community and instead they wanted to keep the funds they raise local to benefit local people – much of which is breast cancer. I was in favour of that since Annabell went through all this some years ago when they discovered a lump, which after several tests and biopsy, turned out to be a benign cyst. It was very scary for a while. The local people
were very supportive. The Session Clerk went through the same only hers turned out to be cancer.
I am generally a scones and butter person but I have been told that scones and honey is very tasty so I am going to take some honey with me tomorrow. Well, I will be there from start to finish and then help with the clearing up. Not sure but I think the Scones and Honey might by an Easy suggestion. Speaking about Easy, I think Easy and his staff are still having a difficult time with the spread of the strikes and disputes – according to the news, France is not all that pleasant at the moment. I remember what life was like before we left Scotland – Miner strikes, Rail strikes, Transport strikes – power cuts. I remember going to the newsagent every day to get the paper because the centre pages
contained a map of the city and highlighted the areas that would be affected by power failures that day and night. Annabell and I and a baby went through similar problems, Easy, so we have a bit of an idea what you are going through. In Scotland army units took to the street because the garbage men were on strike and that was the only way we could keep the streets clear and stop any spread of disease. The month after we left to come to Australia, Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister.
Attendance was down this year and a rough estimate is about $840, but given the industrial climate at the moment, this was to be expected. We believe some families have already left for other places. Still it was well attended and everyone was quite happy. We had a small table with Gluten Free food option and that went well. No one ever leaves our table feeling that haven’t been fed :o)
Having got the car home at the weekend I booked it into the garage for repairs and service on Monday afternoon. It was returned to me yesterday afternoon ( Tuesday) repaired and serviced. It was mainly ignition problems which meant a new ignition coil assembly and a new set of high tension ignition wires. A few things besides plus a general service and new spark plugs. So the car seems to be running well, but no trips for a little while. I did call the clerk and asked if there were any papers I needed to have or anything I need to be aware of arising out of the meeting I missed. He will send me copies of the paperwork and I’ll send him copies of the Annual General Meeting Report. I know that one of the issues discussed was the introduction of SKYPE as a means of conducting the meetings. I objected to this last time it came up and I will object to it again, and fortunately, I am not alone in this. Those who advocate Skype do so on the basis of use for small meetings or the fact that they call their children inter-state several times a week and the system works well. Yes it does for small meetings and for individuals but in our case I do not believe that Skype should be used as it is a poor substitute for face to face meetings and useless in determining the overall mood of the meeting and at times body language is as important as the spoken word in determining the mood of the meeting. Anyway, that’s part of my view and I have no doubt the issue will be raised again in August.
The news from the Administrator of Arrium, however, is not quite so good. It is now generally believed that Arrium will be broken up and sold off. Much of the Arrium holdings are profitable but the steelworks is running at a loss and is responsible for much of the current debt. The University of Flinders have produced a projected model of the consequences of the demise and loss of the steelworks to the region and the State. The immediate consequence would be the loss of some 3500 jobs, but then there are the suppliers and contractors and the businesses that supply Arrium locally – about 4000 jobs locally and regionally – so overall about 7500+ jobs. The financial consequences to Whyalla and surrounds would be the loss of half a billion dollars in revenue. The consequences to the State is estimate at $800 Million in lost revenue. But according to Arrium there are two sides to Arrium – the good Arrium which has mining interests and two electric arc
furnaces on the East Coast that produce steel products and makes good profits selling these to the construction industry. The Bad Arrium is the Whyalla Steelworks and the South Australian Mining Operations that are burning cash faster than the Good Arrium ( Moly-Cop) can generate it. One of our major hotels has closed down and gone into liquidation as a direct consequence of the Arrium Debacle – it was the preferred hotel for visiting staff, for Arrium Functions and various courses. It had become dependent on Arrium for the majority of its business and revenue, so when Arrium went into administration the hotel lost its main source of revenue. The banks are – at this stage – opposed to any plan that means the closure of the Steelworks – understandable self interest. What has been calculated is the proposed loss of revenue locally and State, but what has not been calculated is the loss to the banks – the actual money owed by Arrium aside. There are hundreds of families, these families have mortgages, have loans, have credit cards. If the steelworks were to close and all these people were without jobs – and given the state of Arrium it would be unlikely that they would get anything near their redundancy entitlements – people unable to pay their mortgage. What happens? does the bank take control of this property? Well yes, I guess so. Does this then mean that the banks now have millions of dollars in property that no one wants- well can’t afford. Given that in the late 1970s / early 1980s when BHP Steel were in trouble – the shipyards closed and the steelworks contracted, we went from a population of 36,000 to about 23,000 – the same could happen again. The Administrator suggests that the South Australian operation s – Steelworks and Iron Ore Mines – could be up for sale in July and he hopes to see Arrium out of the hands of an Administrator by Christmas. I sincerely hope so.
I was going to quote Robert Burns again about the best laid plans and such like, but decided not to. You probably know it anyway. My plan was to drive to Adelaide, stay two nights in Adelaide then drive to Mount Gambier, visit the sailing ship The Lady Nelson, then out to the Umpherston Sink Hole Gardens, then the Englebrecht Caves. Busy day planned, but none of that happened. Left home on Wednesday morning and drove to the Tin Man and the stop for fuel and food. From there I drove to Lochiel. The reason for Lochiel was simply that I had been up since 5:00 to take Benji for his walk before driving off at 7am, so by Lochiel I was a tad weary and wanted some air (rain) and some coffee . Got back to the car and it wouldn’t start. I had brought the charger with me so after a bit I was able to get the car started and continue on my way. A short while later, at Port Wakefield I had a similar problem. By this time I was getting a bit concerned and began to notice things, like the way the car surged when I put on the lights. I decided not to go shopping as I had planned but drive directly to the hotel. Driving through the city of Adelaide was a nightmare for me and I was scared that the car would suddenly stop at one of the many sets of traffic lights. Booked into the hotel then came back out to get my cases. I called Annabell to let her know what was happening and that the battery had really cut out and I could not get the car open – pressed button – boot would not open – pressed button – car door would not open, so I could not even get to the charger. Was talking about things when Annabell cut through my rant with the words “have you tried using the key?” You can imagine how disappointed I was when the ground below my feet did not open up and swallow me to hide my embarrassment nor protect me from the hysterical laughter that could be clearly heard coming from my phone. You can bet your very last penny that she wont let me forget this in a hurry.
In the mid afternoon I walked into town and did some shopping. The evening was fairly quiet and I spent much of it watching a movie. Thursday I left the car and took the train and bus to Norwood – most of the storm damage had been cleared. I spent a few hours there, had lunch and made my way back to the city center. Friday and the car refused to start so I was forced to call out the RAA again. The mechanic examined the battery and that was good and the alternator seemed to be good, but something was draining the battery and we had no idea what. I did have a battery charger with me and decided that if the need arose I would use that, but driving through the center of Adelaide was again scary and I feared at every set of traffic lights. I was glad to reach Gepps Cross, which is the northern boundary of the city and leave the traffic lights behind. Fortunately I had enough fuel to get back to Port Wakefield where I knew there was a good garage if I needed it. I expect there are good garages in Adelaide but I have no idea where. All that surrounded me were FFOs – Fuel and Food Outlets. I used the charger at Lochiel and Port Wakefield on the way down but I did something wrong in Adelaide and drained it, hence the RAA call. I telephoned Annabell to let her know that I was coming
home. She suggested that Benji would be pleased because he had been sulking and hiding for the last two and a half days – poor thing. I was disappointed because there were things I wanted to do on the way to Mount Gambier and in Mount Gambier itself but I felt if I was going to break down it was better to break down on the way home than to break down on the South Eastern Freeway. As it happened the car drove quite well and I was able to stop for a little while in Port Augusta. Tomorrow I will take the car to the garage and book it in for a complete service and find out what the power draining problem is. – Hopefully it’s something simple.
It has been raining since the early hours of this morning and it has not let up yet. It’s not heavy, bounce off the roadway, kind of rain but it is constant and it is steady. Needless to say we did not go for our morning walk and by the looks of things the Wetlands are out for the time being. Still, good rain and everyone is quite happy. The forecast for the weekend for our region is rain for most of the next two days. Have to say though, I was supposed to be at Mount Gambier this weekend – postponed until next week, so hope the weather is better for visiting the sailing ship and the gardens. I would also like – on the way through- to stop off at Padthaway Estate Winery. Rain kept up until about nine(ish) last night and I took Benji out for a walk. Forty minutes later and we just got within 100 yards of the house when it started again – fortunately slowly.
Sunday 8th – Mother’s Day
Now it really is bouncing off the roadway. It’s 4am and it’s pounding down and there is a very strong and high wind at its back. Looked at the weather forecast for today and it tells me that it will be cloudy with periods of rain and a temperature around 20c. Probably all this will kick in at dawn but in the meantime, Welcome to Mother’s Day !! It went on most of the day and when it did stop there was a high wind. This morning ( Monday) there was no rain to speak of but there was a very high wind and a bit of a battle walking with Benji at 5:50am. We drove into town to do some things and on the way back – it really started to rain. We just made it in when it when it became dark and then really came down; heavy bounce of the roadway rain and a driving wind. That was about an hour ago and now, looking out, I think of the old song – “Blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see”. Weird weather!!
We, as I said, took a fair belt of rain and wind but no real damage other than some minor road flooding. Elsewhere, when the storm really hit, there was serious flooding, power lines down and trees down cutting off roads in Adelaide and Norwood. Several thousand were left without power before the lines were repaired. For us, storms either go above us or below us, very rarely do we ever get caught in the actual path of a storm. If the storm front is big enough, we get a bit of a side-swipe, but nothing really major.
Bluechickenjay wrote a post recently about stats and I agree with much of what she wrote although she talks about 50 visits and she’s quite happy whereas I have never had fifty visits in me life :o) – Well that’s not true – there was a lot of kind and lovely people who visited me and left kind words when Chienne died so suddenly last year. She is right in one respect that it really is not about the numbers. If that were the case I would have left long ago. My Mother’s Day post had three visits and one (1) comment. In these last few weeks I have been touched by the departure of CDL and I thought that would be a good time for me to go also, but here I am, still here.
True to say I am not frightfully good at this but I enjoy doing it and it is not about numbers – it is something I like to do and I felt that I would miss it. However, having said that, I still think the life span on this is drawing to a close – the sands of time are sinking.