Beach, Wetlands and Dougal is Back

Benji at the Beach

On Friday I set out to Port Augusta -80 klms away. Annabell had been sent a cheque from the UK and  it was in  Pounds Stg.  – no one here would even look at it because it was a foreign currency cheque. Added to the fact that it was a crossed cheque, meant that the trip to our branch in Port Augusta and back  was necessary.  We set off around 9:30 – oh “We” that’s me and Benji not me and Annabell – but I did the medication in her eyes before we left. Benji really likes road trips. He gets his car harness on, is clipped into the seat and he settles down. He watches me just to make sure I am concentrating on driving and not being distracted. We have this all worked out, I drive, he supervises – it’s a good arrangement.

The bank was a great help even if it did take up more than an hour of our time. The cheque had to be  confirmed by Adelaide which required  a confirmation email, paperwork to sign and wait. Left said bank,  got Benji out

The Feral Geese at the Wetlands.

of the car and took him for a short walk. Back to the car, seat belt on and I went back to the bank. The email had arrived from Adelaide  and I had to sign an agreement that meant I paid the fee of $15 for the clearing of the cheque and the depositing of same in Annabell’s account.   That done, I drove round to Big W and did some shopping, then went for some lunch. I had  fresh cooked chips (French Fries- sort of) and a bottle of water. The Benji had   cooked Chicken and share of my water. I have a collapsible silicone bowl that I keep in the car for just such times   We sat on a bench at the jetty and watched the world.  That done, another short walk then headed for home. I would liked to have stopped in at the Arid Lands Botanic Garden, but no dogs are allowed, so that was out.

Nice Day – Empty Beach

This afternoon- Sunday – we took a walk down to the beach. I didn’t stay there long because I only had a single waste bag with me and the Council have not seen fit to replace the bag dispensers. The area was almost empty. There was a few children in the new  play area with parents  close beside on benches, but otherwise, not busy at all. As you can see from the photograph that the beach is all but deserted I used the bag I had and decided to drive back to the wetlands. The wetlands has become very popular and the Kiosk was  crowded again. I managed to get a place in the car park, got some bags from the dispenser and set off.  Like Friday, it was another warm and sunny day – bit cool at times but generally a good day for walking. We did find the  birds. I have asked some people who know these things and I am informed that the birds are “Feral Geese, Domestic, Non-Native” No one seems very sure where they came from, but they are there and settled in by the looks of things. Apart from the geese there are Muscovy Ducks and  an interesting little bird – black and white with long pink legs – which I discovered are called Black Neck Stilts – apparently native to much of the USA but we do have them here in Australia..

Annabell is improving, just in nice time for the grocery shopping tomorrow. She goes to the supermarket, I do all the other jobs, post office; newsagent,: chemist then meet up with her

Dougal at the beach

to help her  finish off and then checkout.  After that – generally a coffee before we head home.  Ina has has to be taken to Adelaide for  check-up and more tests. She is not a well lady. Sam is taking her down tomorrow (Wednesday) and later on this afternoon he will bring Dougla round here. Annabell and I will look after him until they get home – they hope Friday but probably Saturday. I don’t mind, Dougal is no trouble and he and Benji get on well together.

Dougal came to visit not long after I brought Annabell back from her Coffee Morning, and after a little while I got  both Benji and Dougal  ready and took them down to the Wetlands. We had a good wander around the wetlands and although it had been my intention to stop off at the Kiosk, the fact that there were people with dogs there already deterred me from doing that. However, we did go down to the foreshore and had a wander and a play on the beach.  I understand that Yogi is not a well dog at the moment. I hope he gets better soon. Still, he has a good Vet. – not the same Vet as Benji, but a good Vet.

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Past, Present, and Future.

I think both here and overseas, one of the major talking points is the weather and how strange it has been – we expect winter snow – and we get none / we expect summer heat – and it’s limited to a couple of days.  We had a heatwave a few weeks ago when the temperature topped 44c. Last week, and this week we were warned of another heatwave and possible power cuts – neither of which happened. I took Benji out this morning, turned round and came back inside and changed into a heavier jacket. True it was still dark, but it was cold – not winter cold, but cold enough for a different jacket. Temperatures have been warm to very warm. Using the term “Hot” would be – for us here anyway – a slight exaggeration.  I look on the weather people as I look on the South Australian Government – take everything they tell you with a large pinch of salt.

Michaela Denis

When I was growing up in the 60s there was a pioneer couple appeared on Television – black and white, of course, we didn’t have colour until the mid 70s – anyway,  this pioneering couple were Armand  and Michaela Denis. As far as I know they retired in 1961,  but their films and the Wildlife TV Programs were shown well into the  1960s because they were pioneers in Wildlife Filming, setting man of the standards. If I remember correctly I think one of their  TV programmes was “On Safari”   Interesting in that the  Denis couple were closing their career just as another broadcaster was starting his – David Attenborough.

Took Benji and the WaWa down to the Foreshore for a Beachie. There is a small problem here – in order to have a beachie you needs a beach. Today was not a good day with about 10% beach and 90% seaweed. Oh  a Beachie is South Australian for a romp around the beach. Depending on the weather we might go North sometime this

A Seagrass Beach

week. This morning we didn’t go anywhere. Generally I get up with the alarm, get dressed and the Boy and I go out for our morning walk. Well, I got up and I got dressed and I got ready to go out, but he refused. I don’t know what was wrong with him, but he just didn’t want to go out. In fact when I produced the leash, he looked and went back to bed. Going back to yesterday, it’s not really seaweed on the beach –  it is seagrass, which is a different thing altogether. The area of sand in the photograph is all there was and the photograph makes it look much larger an area that it really was.

Tanks for the Memory.

Lots of rumbling – like thunder – the army is back playing in the Play-Pen again. Apparently  there are some War Games going on. No idea how long this will go on  or how long they are here for. I have not seen any  army people around the place. The photograph is from when they were here last year and conducted Operation Hamel. —- Sorry about the caption, I couldn’t resist it. I’ll try harder next time  :o)

This morning I sent yet another email over to Korea (South) and at the moment it has not bounced back. Of course this is not to say that it wont during the course of today, but at the moment it’s looking fairly good.  The Coffee Ladies are here this morning and they were here last night. They are lovely ladies and many of them have dogs so they don’t mind Benji and the WaWa wandering around – which is good. They pay the host a few dollars each for coffee, tea and cookies, but what remains they save and bank  for the year and  this is donated to several charities. Last year they presented me with a cheque for $1000 donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service,  $1000 to Riding for the Disabled and $1000 to help with the medical bills of a young boy who was involved in a serious accident and requires a number of operations. So, they do good and sometimes someone brings scones, or Annabell makes them – I likes scones……. I can be bribed so easily  :o)

This morning (Friday) I opened my mail box when I came back from our walk and there was an Email from Sooah. She is doing well and loves the photographs I have sent her. She says that it looks like Kongsoon ( WaWa to us) and Benji are good friends and she is pleased. ( Shush – our little secret!) She says she hope to see us soon – but that could just be politeness with no

Somewhere, underneath this is a WaWa

indication if and when she is returning. However, the note did sound positive so that was good. I will keep sending and even although things bounce back from time to time, I wont give up. At the moment no one is really sure what is going on – there is still major uncertainty in the town and our Shopping Mall – Which was once billed as the largest outside of Adelaide – has 19 empty shops. There are so many houses up for sale it’s unreal – there is an offer ( two I believe) for Arrium and the Feds have made it clear that if the buyer is not willing to commit to a long term future for Arrium and the Steelworks and upgrade the outdated equipment, then they would not be inclined to give approval to the sale. At the moment there is still some hope that things will settle soon and we can get on with life.  ==== Past, Present and Future / The Past was exciting / Present full of uncertainty / Future has limited hope – but still hope)

Driving with Benji.

The other side of the hilols is where we are bound.
The other side of the distant  hills is where we are bound.
Ok! Let's go.
Ok! Let’s go.

Tuesday of this week was not such a bad day with regard to the weather – warm, humid and overcast at times, but nice for a drive with the Benji. Trying to think of someplace new around here is difficult, but I realised that we had not been out to the lighthouse – about 23 miles away, so that’s where we headed. When we came to Australia my brother in law took me fishing and we drove along this road in his   Jeep. Mind you, this wasn’t a road then, merely a dirt and gravel track that only an SUV could negotiate. A lot has changed since then – as you can see. The reason for the change is  that the road is the main highway out to the Santos Processing plant ( should have taken a photograph!!) at Point Lowly. It is the end of a 660 kilometer pipeline from the Moomba Gas Fields and from here is is shipped to places  across the Asia-Pacific region as well as supplying the gas requirements for South Australia. An important plant, so it requires a good quality road – and it is!!  However, it is like most roads in and around this area, flat land;  not a lot to see. Anything that was worth driving out to is now out of bounds and part of the restricted army playpen.  An access road was constructed during the building stage and then rebuilt when the plant came on line. We drove past the processing plant out to Point Lowly and the Lowly Lighthouse. By then the boy was anxious to get out and do his business – then we went wandering. It was quiet and peaceful and there were no flies around, which was a bonus. I did see three

Point Lowly Lighthouse
Point Lowly Lighthouse

people – a family out for the same reasons I was, but no dog, thankfully. We spent  quite a while just wandering about the place. The lighthouse is, of course,

securely locked up. However wandering around the area I had a thought and it was that I could put the camp two burner stove in the boot, pack some food for

Benji by the Sea
Benji by the Sea

him and me, a small metal kettle, a container of water, coffee – and we could have ourselves a little picnic. Ransacked the garage  – when I got home – and found that we had an old metal kettle from years ago that we never use. It’s a heat on the stove kettle, not an electric one. I also found a small pot and a small frying pan, so, in essence, we are ready to

Still at Sea
Still at Sea

go whenever the mood takes us. Probably go back to the lighthouse   so we are still within striking distance of home  in case of any mishap.  My next meeting is in Adelaide next week so  we will see what we will do after I get back from Adelaide.

It was a reasonable day today so I decided to make up for Sunday and take Benji and I back down to the beach to wander along the sand – and have the Ice-Cream that we missed. It was a bit on the windy side so there were a few wind surfers out on the water. We walked for a fair bit along the beach then came back and had our ice-cream, sitting under the cafe umbrella.

Benji at the Beach
Benji at the Beach
The Wetlands main pond
The Wetlands main pond
The Black Swans
The Black Swans

That was Thursday,-today Friday we went  back to the wetlands and had a good wander around there. However it was starting to get a bit on the warm side and the Boy was panting a bit – even after a drink of cool water, so I decided not  to go back to the beach but to go home. I was going to take him over the new bridge but after I put my hand, palm down, on the  metal base of the bridge I decided that it was too hot for dog paws, and went around the pond to the car and then home with the A/C on full. At the moment he is curled up beside my chair. TeeHee, it’s been a busy few days for the boy.

A week after the storm —-Warning Photograph Heavy..

dsc01982 dsc01983 dsc01984 dsc01985Friday:

Was a near perfect spring day here. Bit of wind but 33c – warm and sunny. That being so I decided that it was time. Got into the car with the Benji and we drove out to the wetlands. I did a circuit of the main pond then did a half circuit and used the new bridge to cut back to the car. I pushed but I didn’t want to push too much. It was slow in places and I rested a little AND thank goodness for drinking fountains for humans and animals. I did not take the cane with me even although it was suggested by certain people that I should. As far as I am concerned, it has served its purpose and will now go quietly into a corner and stay there.

On Monday afternoon I have to go to the hospital for an Echocardiograph  Last time I had one of these done I had to travel down to Adelaide to the Flinders Medical Center. Yes we have all the equipment here – we just don’t have the professional people to operate it. Why am I having this done – well the simple answer is that it has been a year since it was last done and my Cardiologist likes his tests. I go see him in three weeks and one hour before the appointment, I go for an ECG – ho yes, he likes his tests  :o)

Saturday:

There were more things going on up in the grass so that’s where most people were at the time. The Whyalla Players are  rehearsing  “Mary Poppins” and they asked  people  to turn up today with an umbrella and they would take a series of photographs as a promoting thing. That’s why I was down there – no I am not from the players, just an interested citizen with an umbrella.

I didn’t have Benji with me. Only 29c but too warm to leave him in the car – even with the windows cracked open. Was different yesterday – we were out walking and driving with the A/c on.

 

From Hummock Hill.
From Hummock Hill.

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An unexpected Adventure!

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Sunday – apart from church – is family day and in the evening the family all come over to our house and share dinner together. Last night, however, was special for me. Although my birthday is not until April, the family –  Annabell, John, Andrew, Patrica and the Girls – decided on an early Birthday Gift. In February my boys are taking me to Melbourne to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. A reconstruction of the front facade of the Castle is being built in Ethiad Stadium in Melbourne and the permanent staff from Scotland will be coming over. I am so looking forward to this – the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scot Dragoon Guards.  They (the family) all know that  I have a great fear of flying so we are driving there and the boys want to go via the Great Ocean Road, which means I will get back to the  Memorial Arch but this time I have will my photograph taken with each of the boys.  This is the area where there was a deadly fire a few months ago but it has now been cleared for travel.  We should also make time to stop at Bell’s Beach. Isn’t it interesting that I am already  creating photographs in my head and what I want to do.It would be really neat to make a detour to Drysdale and see what’s happened to my  Sister’s property, but I don’t think we will

The WWI Memorial Arch - Great Ocean Road
The WWI Memorial Arch – Great Ocean Road

have the time for that. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is just magic and I  will have to contain myself until the week after I come back from Presbytery, which, fortunately, is in Adelaide this time.

Apart from the Tattoo, this will be the first time in years that the boys and I have been away someplace together – so I am quite looking forward to that. Of course it’s four days that I will miss Benji and I will miss our  splashing around at the beach. He will miss his  hotdog reward, but I’ll make it up to him. It wont take us long to get back on track. However, it is going to be an interesting start to the month – Adelaide this coming weekend – Adelaide the weekend after – Melbourne the week after that. Yes, Benji will think I’ve abandoned him.

Benji and I tried out a new walking route this morning. Interesting but turns out to be over 1000 steps shorter than our current route. Since today is a public holiday ( Australia Day) I might drive round the route and see where I could make a detour to make up the additional steps. If you’re interested it is calculated to be 1320 steps per kilometer and Benji and I cover about 12500 steps per day which is about 5.7 miles or 9.5 kilometres and we do this every day. I realise this to professional walkers, this is probably just a warm up,  but it’s a lot for  the dog and me – 50+ klms per week.

At this point I wrote some thoughts on Australia Day and deleted them. Better to let the so called elites of society have their say because at midnight I think they turn back into pumpkins. I just  have to say though, I love the way some Australians get elected as “Australian of the Year”and use the opportunity not to celebrate their achievements but to tell the rest of us what a racist, guilty of religious discrimination lot we are.    For me – well I often think of Sir Walter Scott “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”

O Caledonia! stern and, wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e’er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand!
Still, as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been,
Seems as, to me of all bereft,
Sole friends thy woods and streams were left;
And thus I love them better still
Even in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow’s streams still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way.,
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my wither’d cheek;
Still lay my head by Teviot Stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The Bard may draw his parting groan.

The Sands of Time

Today is Sunday 27th December – four more days and we reach the year’s end. I suspect the year may not be the only thing that will end in four days.

Benji, sand and sea
Benji, sand and sea

I love my dog to bits and I would not change him for anything but I do miss Chienne and I expect that in the “fullness of time” I will stop – in  off moments –  calling him

We paddled in the Gulf
We paddled in the Gulf

Chienne and  perhaps giving the poor lad a complex. Unlike Chi. Benji loves the car so we have been going places, mainly to the Wetlands and a walk around the site. (2.4 klm)  He loves those walks – or is it the hot dogs and coffee  we get at the end. Provided it’s not  hot I’m quite happy to take him with me when I go out.

Early in the New Year I will start to recover much of what has been lost this year, i.e. the garden. However I find that I am no orphan in this regard and as many of the new houses are experiencing the fact that it only takes a drop of water and the weeds take over. I go out and pull weeds, use environmental friendly weed killer, but you pull out one weed and five take its place. I spent a lot getting the front garden the way I wanted it – coloured wood chip is not cheap, but all that will have to be redone. Between me ending last year in hospital,  restricted for several months until things were sorted out, then driving all over the State like a demented will-o’-the-wisp,  the area has  just become weed central. Time to get the grader back,  clean the whole area  and start over again.

Took Benji back  over to the Wetlands  again and had a walk around the ponds and gardens. By the looks of things foundations are being made for a  small footbridge over to the largest of the islands. Sadly I did not have my camera with me but if it’s not too hot we may go down again  in a day or so. I have yet to take him down to the beach and introduce him to the water. It’s an interesting area – a good defined path round the gardens and lakes,  human  drinking fountains and two dog drinking fountains, a play area for children, a good grassed area for  ball sports and a good barbecue area,  with a standing covered pergola. There is no permanent cafe but the temporary one can make hot-dogs and coffee. There are also male and female rest areas.

Yesterday – Tuesday – I drove from the wetlands to the beach and introduced Benji to the sea. After parking the car I took off

The end of the road
The end of the road

my sneakers and walked down the sand and into the water and he followed after me and the two of us happily splashed  our way along the shore. He was quite content and seemed to enjoy the experience. Certainly today (Wednesday) is a bit warmer but I think we will go back down tonight and have another paddle – probably followed by a hot-dog and a coffee. A pleasant way to end the year – and anything else.

 

Dogs, Gardens, R & R

With all this Biblical stuff going on, fire, floods, pestilence, snow, the garden has been very much neglected.    Ok, ok, I lied about the snow!!!                    The adverse weather conditions, being surrounded by trees  that drop branches and leaves at the slightest cough, and  my being inconveniently ill,  the garden has the appearance of a building site ( actually bomb site would be a better description)  I would love to get out there and get on with things and I will – with some things –  but I am discovering that there are limits to what I can and cannot do at the moment.  I made that mistake in Adelaide last week.  I am sort of trapped between a rock and a hard place – I want to get out there and get on with things, but I know that I am limited in what I can do until such times as we discover just what exactly is happening. Will know more after Tuesday when I undertake some tests.

In the 60’s, people took drugs to make the world weird.

Now the world is weird, and people take antidepressants to make it normal.

The "Young"Man
The “Young”Man
Guard Duty is exhausting
Guard Duty is exhausting

Chienne is much the same and the Man is still with us. He’s slowing down and I  still have to rescue him, but he’s fine. I hand feed him in the morning and I have started to hand feed -sort of – in the evening. What I do is bring him and his dinner over to my chair. I sit on the floor with legs out. I put him over my left thigh – back legs one side front legs the other – with the food bowl on my right thigh and he eats away quite happily without falling or in any pain. I know it might sound a bit awkward but he’s comfortable enough and eats away until his food’s finished, and, more importantly, without any stress. Yes, I was born for this – to be a food trolley to a Maltese Dog.  :o) Oh, and why the left thigh? He does not like  the right thigh – different aspect perhaps. However, something odd has cropped up in recent months. I thought at first it was a “one off” when I watched it, but I see it happen a lot these days and Herself says Chienne has been doing this for a while. She is grooming  The Man. He just sits there and she licks his face and his ears. I  am puzzled – I thought only cats did this.

I did some work out in the garden today. Nothing too much, just some sweeping up leaves and using the leaf blower/vacuum. I did throw some rubbish into the trailer but nothing heavy.  I was also thinking that if the weather remains fine, I might just break out the hammock and stand. We’ll see how things go.  I should be heading off to Adelaide next Friday morning but I will have to wait and see. It’s  only been two months since the last meeting and I guess it’s a bit much to expect the minutes of that meeting to be available this early. – The meeting, it would appear, has been put off until the 14th Feb. so, in essence I have been two and a half months at home without really doing anything much other than catching up with some reading;  a little bit of work outside and going for walks with Chienne and sometimes with The Man. When he is with us we don’t go very

This used to be the end of the road.
This used to be the end of the road.

far and even the little distance we do do, takes ages since he is slow and tends to wander. It makes for an interesting walk. If Chienne wasn’t so freaked out about going in the car, I would take them  to the beach. I could take him on his own but if I strap him into the seat he screams and cries all the way. He wants to come and sit on my lap and whilst I used to do this, it is now illegal  to have an animal on your lap when driving and it carries with it a hefty fine and demerit points. In fact to have an animal in the car not strapped in is illegal.