Promotion, Fund-raising and Aeromedical Jet

Part of the Team at  OTR / with Ambulance Service.

It’s been a very busy end to the week. Thursday  we were involved in a promotion with the opening of the new  On The Run (OTR) Service Station. OTR are one of the sponsors of the Royal Flying Doctor Service so we help them out but we also have the opportunity to promote the RFDS. The OTR is the “home”of the Krispy Kreme Donuts, which we gave away for free on opening day. Personally I don’t like them. They are great in most people’s eyes and I know people in Adelaide that go for them in a big way, but I find them just a tad too sweet for my taste. But we had a good day – talked to a lot of people and gave out flyers . On Friday the Prime Minister visited the Governor-General and  a General Election was called for the 18th May, so we can expect the letterboxes to be crammed with election material for the next weeks. Friday I  took Annabell to the doctor for a check-up, called John (my son) and reminded  of the RFDS Fundraiser on Saturday. Spent the afternoon working in the garage. Saturday morning I decided to have some time off so, I did not set the alarm and slept until almost 6:30. The dogs slept too and we didn’t go for our walk until almost 7am.

The dogs are well and enjoyed the walk this morning. It was interesting in that everything was quiet. Generally it’s still dark when we go out but it was light today and perhaps the other dogs were asleep which means that Dougal didn’t go ballistic like he general does if he hears a bark – or, indeed, any undetermined noise.  The Kangaroos  were few and far between this morning but  because it was light I saw for the first time some of the damage the Kangaroos had caused. I have walked the same area for a long time and watched it change over the years. I have watched a man  lay in concrete slabs and  edging to mark out his lawn area, cover the area in new topsoil, plant seed and water the area ( got wet a couple of times) and watched the grass take root and  finally become a nice lawn, which,  thanks to the Kangaroos, is in the process of being destroyed.  I can understand the frustration that must be involved here, but I still think leaving out water for them is the right things to do.

The New RFDS ICU Jet.

We did fairly well at the fundraiser  today. Started at 9am and finished at 1pm. It was interesting in that a number of people wanted to ask about the new RFDS  aircraft – the world’s first – and at the moment, only – aeromedical Jet – a Flying Intensive Care Unit. We wont see this here and it will be used for the long haul runs to the far north of the State.  At the meeting last week were were  told of the Whyalla Child Care Center.  This Center, like  a number of places, is on the flight path to the airport and every day the children see the RFDS Aircraft fly overhead. They sort of adopted the RFDS and some of the children said they wanted to be nurses and  go on the aircraft, some wanted to be pilots and one wanted to be a

Friends together.

doctor for the RFDS. Knowing the children like to play with boxes, one of the mothers brought in some empty boxes. The children made their very own RFDS aircraft and since they see it every day, they new which colours to use.  We thought this was fantastic and contacted Central Operations, who were very impressed. They sent me up a box of balloons, wrist bands, colour-in pages and a heap of put together  aircraft.

Annabell had a telephone call from Ina in Adelaide. I was out with the dogs at the time but Annabell says she was sounding really good and she hopes

to be back home in  about ten days. This means that Dougal might not be with us for more that another week or so – if Ina is correct. Not that I want to see him go, really, but Benji has been a bit odd this time – have no idea why. They have not been fighting or causing concern. apart from two spats, but that happens. Perhaps Benji doesn’t want to share anymore, whatever the reason, it feels different this time.

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Wetlands, Lighthouse and Dust Storms

Dougal and Benji at Wetlands

Dougal came for a stay last Thursday.  Being flat out for much of last week we didn’t get out much but I did manage to get  them both to the Wetlands for a walk. Still no rain to speak of so there is no change in the water levels. It might not seem like that from the photograph, but then looks can be deceiving , however, the main pond still has water in it. Still it was a good time together and if he is still here, I  will take them both for a drive  out to the Lighthouse at the weekend.  At the end of this month we may be looking after a new dog for two weeks. One of the ladies at the church asked me if I would be willing to look after her dog for two weeks . Annabell was there at the time  and she said we would love to. I totally agree since the lady in question is one of the coffee ladies group and she has a Pug called Max – that should be fun.

During this week we experienced one of the  consequences of the drought.  The weather up until last Thursday was  fair – bit warm but fair- Friday was a different thing

This was at Port Wakefield , I believe.

altogether. Friday we had high winds – as high as 95 klms per hour in places. The traffic ground to a halt in Port Wakefield area as visibility was  zero, due to thick dust storms. We had high winds here and some experiences of the dust storms but nothing like the other areas of the  peninsula. Port Lincoln faced winds of over 100 kms. per hour and it was so bad that the power company shut off the power to Port Lincoln and the surrounding area – some 15,000 people without power. The reason was to protect Port Lincoln.  The power company was concerned that the high winds would bring down trees and branches onto power lines sparking a fire, which, in the high wind conditions, could take hold and spread very quickly. Adelaide also took a bit of a

Wont look at the Camera.

battering. As I said, we were not too bad – things happen above us or below us,

In the far north of the State, things are different  and the desert is blooming again. The flood waters from Queensland have made their way down and are currently pouring into Lake Eyre – normally  dry. As the waters have made their way down from Queensland and filled the dry river beds, the desert is now watered , everything along the way is blooming and there is an abundance of wildlife, swans, ducks, wild geese and pelicans. The  water will create islands in the lake where the birds can breed and raise chicks without foxes and dingos being able to get to them. Lake Eyre is 9,500 square klms however the Lake Eyre Basin and catchment area is 1.14 million square klms. It’s a big, big basin and lake Eyre itself is some 15 meters – about 50 feet – below sea level.  Last time it flooded my  son, John,  took the  flight up there and flew over Lake Eyre and the surrounding area. I did see the photographs and it was quite a spectacular sight to see the water flooding into the lake.

I took the dogs to the lighthouse and we had a good wander around the place and a good long walk  around the point. The weather was nice – bit on the warm side (34c) but quite nice. Benji did his usual and refused to look at the camera.  The drive to and from the lighthouse is 76 klms. or 46.25 miles, so it’s not something I do  too often but there’s no where else we can go – everything else around us is either a conservation area, or a  reserve area and  the whole of the Flinders Ranges are National Parks.

One of the things I enjoy doing is taking photographs. I agree I’m not all that good at it but I like doing it. I did go to a photography club some years ago , but  wasn’t too impressed with it. I am thinking I might give it another go. It seems to have a  different attitude to it these days so perhaps I might not find it quite as I did last time. One can but try. But then I have also changed since then and and I do believe I have quite mastered the Box Brownie now.

Lighthouse, Wetlands and Spencer Gulf

Benji at the lighthouse.

Friday 22nd. Just after lunch I  put a blanket over the front seat in the car, strapped Benji in and off we went to the Lighthouse. It was a lovely day, warm but not hot, so it was a comfortable ride for the 24 miles. Of course, with the air conditioner on it would have been a comfortable ride anyway, but he did what he usually does, curl up facing me and  have a nap. We spent some time wandering about and it was good for us to be out and about again after all the hot weather we have had recently.

We came back home by way of the town center and I  went into the lolly shop and bought 250gms of sugared almonds, because I knew she had them in for the first time in a long time. I know, but it’s my indulgence and they remind me of my childhood in Scotland – every lovely crunch of them. In the evening, after the news, I took Benji down to the wetlands. It’s been a while since we were there. To say I was shocked is an understatement. The amount of water loss is incredible. With the continued drought and the fact that there is no

The loss of water at the wetlands

water going into the system, this, plus the water going out to water the trees, lawns and plants has really taken its toll. Having said that, it did rain for a bit last night and although it rained for several hours, it was fairly light rain and didn’t make a lot of difference to anything.

Today both Annabell and I are  exhausted.  The family at the back of us were having an 18th Birthday Party. The father came around and told his neighbours  what was going to happen and said he would try and keep the music to a reasonable level. Well, that was a lie right there! He did  indicate that they were going to play music, but they didn’t. I don’t know what the heck it was they played but music it was not – it was just a thump, thump, thump. My son follows Iron Maiden, and some other sort of heavy metal and though I  don’t like to admit it, it is music – of a sort – but this last night, until 2am was just a continual thump, thump, thump. I almost took a serious dislike when the alarm went off at 6am. I did not have

The Spencer Gulf at the Lighthouse.

a good night, but Benji and I went out for our walk in the calm,  early, cloud covered morning. Today was the Congregation Annual General Meeting, so  church was well over two hours long. I think Annabell is resting – good for her. We go back to the doctor this week and we expect he will increase the  amount of her insulin again. At the moment she is not too bad, but  the readings are still higher than he would like.  ( He did increase the  level to 17ml.)

The drought continues to bite in the north of South Australia and over in Victoria. There has also been high and strong winds that have  turned the bare paddocks into dust bowls and animals are starting to perish for lack of food and water and the dust that gets everywhere – into the animal eyes and mouth. There’s not a lot of help being handed out. Must have looked away for a moment and when I looked back, March is just about finished and we are rushing towards April. Today – Thursday 28th –  Dougal is coming to stay for a little while. I have no idea how long this time as Ina is still in a Respite Center outside of Adelaide.

Under our system, you can qualify for traveling assistance if you have to travel for treatment.  The hospital at the Port does not have Nuclear Medicine facilities – our hospital does. So  this lady had to travel from Port Augusta to Whyalla for treatment –  a distance of 80 klms. ( 160kms round trip) She does not quality for assistance because the cut off point is 100 klms.  This lady is traveling 160 klms twice a week for treatment but does not  receive assistance. This was highlighted with the  Minister for Health and he  agrees that many of the  rules were made to  apply to Adelaide not the country areas. He has promised to have a look and overhaul where necessary.

Adelaide, Kangaroos and walkin’ the dog!

On Tuesday morning I set off for Adelaide. I was  not too far from Adelaide (less than 90klms) when my son contacted me and said that there had been a change of plans and that they were both arriving in Adelaide on Tuesday night and  heading home on Wednesday morning, so I didn’t need to come down after all.  I told him where I was and how impressed I was but I hope I shall be able to cancel  the second room at short notice. This is the hotel I use when Presbytery is in North Adelaide. I took a run out to the shopping center at Tea Tree Plaza and did some shopping for Annabell. I like TTP and am generally quite comfortable there. For  some reason I don’t like Marion Shopping Center. Can’t think why but I just don’t like it. It doesn’t seem to have a lot of character and I find it quite antiseptic. Later on in the afternoon I was at a place that has  an overload of character – The Central Market.  It’s one place I really enjoy wandering around.  Anyway, I  went to the hotel and booked in, explaining why I no longer need two rooms and why I need to cancel one. No problem. They were very understanding.  Once I booked in and put my case in the room,  I took the bus into town. I had some things I wanted for myself at Kikki.k and David Jones

For more years than I care to remember I have used a  Filofax but in recent years it has become ridiculously expensive to get inserts. I think I said before that I can, of course, get inserts from the

I see the moon, the moon sees me!!

UK and the USA  but the cost of shipping/postage is greater than the cost of the inserts.  Yes I can download but my printer cannot not cope with the size and I am not about to buy a printer that can so I can use it once a year. Anyway, there are several printing shops in Adelaide so at the last meeting of the year ( late November early December) I can download, save to a USB and have the inserts printed off for less than $10. For years it was so simple and there were two Filofax outlets in Rundle Mall, Adelaide –  Borders and David Jones. Borders has gone and David Jones don’t really stock much now.

It’s been ages since Benji and I were down at the wetlands. It’s really been too hot  and  sadly there is only a limited amount of shade there. This whole week the temperature will be around the mid 30c mark and still too hot to take him onto the concrete paths at the wetlands for any length of time. Interestingly, there is no shade at the Wetlands Kiosk. Not long after it opened I took Benji for a walk then stopped off for a coffee for me and a small Ice Cream for Benji. The cost was over what I anticipated which I thought was a bit much. I have not been back since. I also notice that it is closed for a number of days during the week, so perhaps it is not doing as well as was expected. Personally, I think the lack of shade might have something to do with that.  The forecast for next week is  for cooler temperatures, so perhaps we can get back down to afternoons at the lighthouse and the wetlands.

In the early evening.

This morning on my walk with Benji, the place was covered in Kangaroos – they were everywhere. Not just the odd one or two as normal, but mobs of them. Why no photographs – it’s 6am and it’s dark. In the early evening, I go around the park/ play area: I no longer go through it. There are quite a few Kangaroos there in the evening and I find that even although Benji is under control and does not offer a threat – he doesn’t even bark at them – they still take off when they see the dog, and that’s my problem. There is bushland across from the park and that’s where they make for, but it means crossing a road and they would just take off without  any concern for traffic. Hitting a Kangaroo is not  good –  it kills the Kangaroo, but  the car would be a write off and  depending on the angle of the hit – the driver could be too. So, I go around the park and leave them be – it’s safer that way

Kangaroos and Living Plants

As far as we understand, the funeral will take place at the Church on Tuesday at 11am. That’s what we organised, however, her son, breezed in from London and would have preferred the funeral to have been on Thursday past so he could catch the weekend flight back to London.  Although I have  done all the work –  the Order of Service just needs the nod and I can start printing, collating and have it ready for Tuesday, I am advised that there may well be changes  and not to print just yet. There is a meeting with the son on Sunday  and if he decided to change things to

The small park around the corner

what he wants, it doesn’t leave me a lot of time to get everything organized, printed, collated and out. No pressure, yesterday will be fine. :o)

Ina is back in hospital and  we had a phone call to ask if we would look after Dougal for a few weeks, I was out  but Annabell said that it would be fine. The daughter has been staying for a bit but we will get  Dougal when she goes home sometime next week. Don’t mind really, Dougal is no trouble at all. He and Benji get on fairly well and Benji doesn’t seem to mind Dougal sharing his toys. The only thing Benji gets cranky about is the sleeping arrangements. Dougal occupied the place next to me and Benji got cranky about that and made certain  Dougal understands who sleeps where in future.

We spent most of Monday afternoon at the church getting the place ready for the funeral.   I  printed, collated 120 copies and passed each pile over to Annabell for folding. She can’t do a lot but she was sitting down and could do that for me – I mean, she couldn’t help with moving furniture and re-arranging pews, but she could do the folding, a total of 120 x 2 double sided copies, so she was a great help in doing what she did

The funeral went well as well as funerals are and our little church was  full with close to 110 people – which is our maximum.l She joined the church in 1987 and was a Member of the Board of Management, Board Treasurer and Leader of the Sunday School. The children loved her and it was so very pleasing to see many of the former Sunday School  (grown up and married of course) there to say farewell.  It was one of the former Sunday School members who read the lesson. The service lasted over one hour mainly because the “in-thing”in Australia at the moment is to have a Power Point and that took up time. The committal at the Cemetery was relatively short and we returned to the church hall for lunch, which all the ladies of the church provided.

It still lives

I have been outside since the heatwave mourning dead plants, clearing up the mess and cleaning out the plant pots. In doing so I discovered that the age of miracles  hasn’t passed as the photograph will show. This was, to all accounts a dead plant and in among the dead and brown leaves was a hint of green, which I have worked with. It’s encouraging as we draw towards the last weekend of summer. The mess is not caused by dead plants but rather the piles of  boxes, bags of clothes and unwanted furniture that my niece decided she didn’t want to take back to Adelaide.  Some has gone and Lifeline will come and collect the remainder of the furniture on Monday. I’ll spend part of the weekend  sorting through the boxes and the bags. In a couple of weeks the boys are heading over to Melbourne for some concert. Andrew is staying in Melbourne for a few days but John is coming back to Adelaide. I said I would go down and pick him up. It’s only an overnight stay and gives me the opportunity to do some shopping for Annabell at Tea Tree Plaza or the Elizabeth Center. I have been thinking about a new camera and this might be an opportunity to have a look around.

Still no word about the specialist and the insulin stuff as yet and the earliest we can get to see the eye specialist is May

Moving, Benji, and Water for Wildlife

The Road Trains going through.

Thankfully, the weather has calmed down from its hissy-fit last week. A warm week this week but temperatures will be no more than mid 30s. The Hay Convoy of 50 B Double Trucks went through on Friday and I did get a lot of photographs and a video that had been sent to me. It really was something to behold and I am sorry that I missed it but watching the video was incredible. Perhaps next time they go through I will be able to see for myself. They always go through that way but this is the first time we have ever had notification  of the time they were going through. Actually,  they have to go through where they did – there is no other way. – Well, there is, but it would add about 1100 klms on to the journey and not really achieve anything. Saturday was Australia Day, which started out fine – a bit cool, but fine.  By 6:30, the temperature had fallen and the rain came down. It wasn’t really all that heavy but it was constant and the latter part of the Australia Day Celebrations were canceled – although the fireworks did go ahead.  John Jnr and I spent Saturday at my niece’s place moving furniture. She was only here for seven months and she is now heading back to Adelaide. Some things she didn’t want to take back with her, so they went onto my trailer and  into the garage and  the church may dispose of them.

Back to the doctor with Annabell this morning. This was a planned visit, but not a good one.  Generally her blood sugar level has been controlled by diet, but that is no longer working.  Doctor wants to put her on diabetes medication but can’t. He has to contact a specialist in Adelaide, explain the situation to them and they will decide what medication is suitable for her,  given her health concerns and her current medications. So we just have to wait.

I had a telephone call this afternoon from one of the major Hardware firms and they wanted to give us (RFDS) the space to run a fundraising event at the store. I said I would see what I could do and try and get a team together. I will call them first thing in the morning and accept since I have a team available for them. Ten days and I head off to Adelaide for conference. We plan these  days away and both of the boys either telephone her or just come over and see she is ok,  The Weather people lived down to their reputation yet again. Fine weather, they said – temperature in the mid to high 30s, they said. What they didn’t say was 43c today. It be a wee bit warm. Ah, look on the bright side – We survived 48.9, we can survive 43c. The danger period will come in about two hours when people start getting home from work and cranking on air-conditioners, which  could overload the system. Might even blow a fuse again.

As it happened a cool change swept in and brought temperatures down  quite a bit. Temps came down, wind came up and we had  dust problems which I could see in the distance when I was walking with Benji.  Come the weekend and we are looking at high 30s again, but that’s fine. I think one of the things that has made people grumpy is that many Australians have been unable to do what they would normally do in summer. Generally, in the backyard with friends and family – barbecue and a few beers, a glass of wine –  backyard cricket with the children, and so on – in the park or down the beach. Not so much since  it’s been blowing  every day for weeks, then the heatwaves came along and all of this has disrupted the Australian lifestyle. I don’t do any of this but I like to go walking with the dog or dogs and I can take them out despite the wind, but the heat causes problems  for dog paws, so it’s after 9pm when the sun has gone down and it’s starting to get dark. From time to time Benji will dig his front paws into the ground, lock them and refuse to move. I have no idea why he does this but after a  minute or so he will start walking again as normal.  I think he does this because he wants to see if my arm can actually come away from my shoulder since he does this without any warning.  The heat is not only causing problems for us uprights and our companions, it is also causing problems for our wildlife.  This is mainly exacerbated by the drought and just the general lack of moisture in the bush. It is really pleasing to see that more people are filling buckets of water the leaving them in their gardens. .

 

 

Australia – Frying tonight!!

Thursday 24th Jan. This morning I took Benji out for his walk at 05:30. I thought I might as well, I was awake anyway. Actually, I had been awake since 3;40 – it was a very hot, sticky night and I

Our little corner of the Universe

didn’t sleep too well.  We saw quite a few Kangaroos and when I got back I made certain my water container – a big blue bucket – was full. I also filled the bird dish.  Annabell and I had to go out since we had an unplanned medical appointment for Annabell. We moved across to the shopping centre and got her medication, the supermarket for milk  and a few things then we came home.  On leaving home this morning to take Annabell for her appointment, I did something I don’t usually do – I left a fan on for Benji so that he could stay cool until we got back. We didn’t waste time,  got what we wanted and headed home. Inside and put the A/C back on again. The temperature climbed to an “official temperature” of 48.6 but my monitor read 50c and the reason it read 50c is because it couldn’t go any higher. At  even the official 48c, the reverse cycle A/C had  difficulty trying to cope. The government  were noted and warned that the  electric system was “struggling” so for the first time ever, the massive generators were switched on  to help the  grid. Despite this precaution Adelaide and  some districts around, suffered power blackouts – and this on the hottest day ever.   Around 8pm it had cooled down a bit so we went out for our evening walk.  I was outside a short while ago and felt that it was warmer than when I took Benji out earlier, I checked the monitor and found that it was sitting at 36c and it is now 23:05, Might not be the best night for sleeping.

`The Hay Convoy at Iron Knob SA. * Photograph by Angel Giles *

Did sleep reasonably well. Took Benji out this morning and was very surprised to see that many of the places on our walk had also put out buckets of water. I thought this was great. One place had a cleaned  rubbish bin filled with water.  I have increased the size of the container I use.

One of the incredible things that happen here  are the Hay Convoys. Much of New South Wales and most of Queensland are in drought. Thus farmers cannot feed their  animals. The farmers in Western Australia donated about 3500 bales of Hay – enough to fill 50 trucks and these are being trucked  from Western Australia to New South Wales. The convoy was passing through South Australia on the Inter-State about 30 miles away. A number of people  were going out to the Iron Knob truck stop to greet the trucks and the truckers and wave them on . I was invited to go with them and I really wanted to, but I had an unplanned medical appointment for Annabell and that was at the same time as the trucks were going through. I did ask my friend Angel to take lots of photographs – which she did

Daddy wasn’t using it so I was keeping it protected for him.

As I said before – the weather is strange and very unpredictable. From the hottest place in the commonwealth to being really quite cool when I was out a little while ago with Benji. It was ok, but  really cool  (17c) considering the temperature over the last few days. I  did, however, remark to Annabell the other day when we were having these rolling power outages, that it was a bit sad when you have to walk about the house with a torch (flashlight) in your pocket and candles  placed around the place – just in case, you understand. I have faith in Power Networks, I mean who else can tell over 100,000 people who have just lost power of the hottest day ever, that it was a blown fuse – and tell it with a straight face? That takes talent..

When I was growing up in Scotland the early days Fish & Chip shops sometimes put a notice in their window ‘Frying Tonight” That’s what it felt like here.