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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Thank Goodness Its Friday

Once Dougal went home, the times walking were a little more comfortable and less frustrating. Dougal is a barker  and tends to go gaga if he hears another bark or, indeed, any noise. It does not make for a really enjoyable  walk with him dragging and pulling. Benji, on the other hand is sort of like a  modern teenager – some other dog barks  –  ” meh whatever!”. Although we never had any concerns, because our fences are secure, I am told by other people that Dougal tends to be something of an escape artist and Sam has had to go searching for him more than once.

The empty bird area at the back pond

I took Benji to the Wetlands this afternoon and it really is starting to look quite sad. The birds have deserted the back pond where they generally hang out.

I am told they are Wild Geese.

The four wild Geese have taken to wandering around the area of the main pond, the ducks and swans have gone and the back pond – what’s left of it – has become the haunt of seagulls. Thursday week – 9th May – I set off to Narracourte for the quarterly conference.  There will be one overnight stay in Adelaide and a second overnight stay at Padthaway. The meeting does not begin until 12:30 so it is likely to last for most of the afternoon since each of the churches has to bring their  Books for inspection, stamping and cleared  by Presbytery. That wont take five minutes so it is unlikely that I will get much farther than back to Padthaway since I will not drive on the Riddoch  Highway and the Dukes Highway  at night. There has been several accidents recently on that stretch of the road recently. Apart from which,  I like staying in Padthaway since it is one of the few places that are dog friendly.

The flood waters from Queensland continue to pour down the Diamantina River  into  South  Australia and then drain into Lake Eyre. Having said that I have also to

say that it has been raining for a good part of the late evening and into the night. It was not the soft, silent rain that really doesn’t do much but a decent rainfall for several hours.  I must try and get down to the Wetlands and see what difference – if any – it might have made. Wednesday:  Never got out to the Wetlands, had a bit of a wetlands in the back garden. It’s chucking it down here again and I I was surprised to learn that despite the widespread rainstorms, some parts of the State missed out – bummer. Looks as if we wont be going out for our walk tonight again.  Well, as it happens, the rain went off and we did get out for our walk. I went directly to the water catchment area at the end of the street and although there was a good amount of water in there, I  did believe that there was less than I thought there would be.

I thought that I would be able to go to the Wetlands tomorrow (Thursday) after the 10 am  Hospital appointment with Annabell, but as of this afternoon,(Wednesday) we have a further appointment on Thursday at 2:30pm. However, at this stage, Friday is looking good  :o) Talk about ‘Things Fall Apart” – I take Annabell and another lady to the  Tuesday coffee evening and she and the other lady get picked up on a Wednesday. This same lady picks up Annabell for visits and other meetings. Well, this lady now has a new car and guess what?????   Annabell cannot get into this new car, so I have more driving around to do. Oh well, I do believe it’s part of the job description.

Dougal and Benji together.

I think it comes under the heading of “Sickness and Health ” :o) And, since the Universe is not altogether finished with me for the moment, Dougal came back this afternoon – right after we came back from the dentist.   Sam is heading off to Adelaide to be with Ina for a little while – then when he comes back he is going into hospital himself, so I have no idea how long we might have Dougal this time. He’s not a really concern, just the fact that he has never learned to ignore  barking and other sounds without going gaga, I’ll have to put on the harness again if I take him out walking but  we have had a fair belt of rain here the last few days, so we’ll see how things go. I didn’t expect to have Dougal back quite so quickly but at least Sam knows that he can go  visit his wife in Adelaide safe in the knowledge that his dog is being looked after and taken care of.  It’s Friday – no doctors, no hospital visits – FREE…  Woo Hoo

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.

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.

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

Lovely weather and visiting dogs.

I still miss this little face.

This is the photograph that I submitted for critique  and whilst they waxed lyrical about each other’s photographs they were not thrilled about my photograph – bad lighting, poor composition, were two of the  comments and when it came to scoring, it didn’t do well at all. I am not averse to criticism, even negative can be helpful, if done correctly, but they just didn’t like this and there was no constructive criticism. Anyway, I’m fairly comfortable with my photographs. I agree they could improve but not this way.

Got back from Adelaide last night. Was midnight before I got home and  close to 1am before I got to bed and then back up at 5;45 to take the dogs out. It took me a while to settle the dogs down when I got home – you would think I had been away for weeks instead of just one day.  I had to have everything done on the one day because I needed to be back for Annabell’s medical appointment. It was a fairly good trip – and I got everything that Annabell asked me to get for her but when it came to me – fail. David Jones has very little in the way of Organizers, or inserts these days, Kikki.K had nothing, Typo had nothing, same story at Officeworks, which I did find surprising. I have some things coming from the USA so I

Benji at the Port.

shall just have to exercise patience and wait until they arrive before I can finish the change-over.

I did, however, get Annabell a new cookbook.

We bought an air-fryer and although it has a small cookbook along with the instructions, Annabell wanted something more so I looked for an Ari-Fryer Cookbook for her. I got this at Dymocks in Rundle Mall. We have no book shops at home. The last one closed down years ago. Yes the newsagent sells a limited number of books and the library has not caught up with Air-Fryers yet. Come to that, neither has Dymocks and there were only four books to choose from. Even in Adelaide many of the bookshops have closed down -Dymocks, Borders, Angus & Robinson, were the main bookshops in Adelaide. By contrast, Dymocks, the remaining bookshop, was crowded and many of the customers were young people. Anyway, I got her a cookbook and she is quite happy with it.

We have a Nursing Home here  but the beds are very limited and it is not unusual for people to be sent to care  in other places where a bed is available. This could mean they are sent over 100 miles away. If you remember I did visit one of our congregation who had been sent to a nursing home in Quorn which is about 90 miles from here. We have another person who has been sent there and I am going to visit him early next week.

Ferry at Tailem Bend – River Murray

The four Test Cricket matches against India have ended with a well deserved win for India. There’s no question of the fact that India really dominated the entire series and in all honesty should have ended 3 1 instead of 2 1. India dominated the last Test Match from start to finish and should have come away with a win, but bad light and  bad conditions means that the match was abandoned and it became a draw. Be interesting to see how they do with a different set of skills in the ODI (One Day Internationals) ( Not very well, I fear!!)

In ten days from now we would have had Dougal for three months in what was to be a week to ten days visit. Anyway, he went home today. I took him round to Sam this afternoon. I think Dougal was glad to be home and glad to see his people. I’ll miss him but it’s nice to be back to me and Benji again. I think Benji will be quite happy and we had a good walk – just the two of us – this evening. We should be clear now until sometime in December when we get Yogi back for a bit. You never know, we could have Dougal back for a few visits if Sam has to go back to Adelaide for tests.