Things Fall Apart

I have to be honest and say that Benji and I have not really done very much of late. This is the coldest winter period we have had in many years  with the overnight temperature and the early morning  down to 1c. The Port was down to 0c and over the last few days this has been the morning temperature and just too cold to go wandering  around in the dark, and to be honest I sense a lack of keenness  in Benji to go wandering in the cold morning. Like me, he sticks close to the heater.  Daytime temperature is around 13c / 14c, which,  for us is cold. However, the winter sun sees us wandering abound the Wetlands and observing the progress – or lack thereof – of the new kiosk. I don’t wish to be negative about these things, but can you come back next year. The local council own and run the wetlands and the local council are building the kiosk. I mean, it might be very nice when  it’s finally finished but at the moment it looks like two side by side shipping containers.

The Ferry today with the Tall Ship in the background

I recently read a post  that, apart from the mention of a place I had never heard of, wandered around Glasgow to places I remember, yet don’t remember. The

Now this is a ferry !!

places and things I remember have gone or have changed beyond recognition. One example of this was the Govan Ferry, which today, I think,  is a smart boat that crosses the River Clyde in next to no time unlike the BIG Govan Ferry I remember, which was slow and ponderous.   I worked for HM Customs and Excise. I was stationed at the White Horse Distillery in Port Dundas. Part of the Bonded Warehouses had been built by Prisoners of War  – French POW who fought for the Emperor Napoleon. You felt that the place had been there forever and would never change – yet it is gone – flattened, the Distillery and the Bonded Warehouses – I have no idea when but it’s all gone. “Things fall apart” to be sure. On of the men in the church took his two daughters back to Scotland  and when they came home he wrote a piece for the “New Voice” the church magazine which I edit. In it he talked of his holiday and the places he and his daughters visited. Before he left Jennifer, one of his daughters,  asked if there was anything I would like from Scotland. I asked if she could bring me back a few postcards from Glasgow. Anybody asks me, that’s what I always suggest. I use them as monthly dividers for my Filofax. Anyway, they travelled across the British Isles and finally came back to Glasgow – Govan, where John was brought up. It was mostly about Govan he wrote and expressed his sadness that the places of his childhood were gone. He tried to find the houses he and his wife lived in when they were first married, but they too have gone. Certainly the official buildings are still there, but other places are  destroyed and built over. Some of the places he talked about I knew, particularly the Cinemas – none of which remain. The Govan he remembers has gone forever.

I miss  the Dear Green Place, and I really do believe it is true ‘You can take the man from Glasgow, but Glasgow from the man” I get irritated with people who bag Glasgow, particularly a Minister, who I will not name,  who bagged the city just before the Commonwealth Games. Which, I understand , was an outstanding success for the games and the city.

Not a lot of progress on the Kiosk

But things do change – even here. As I said before, when we moved here this was the last house in the town. There was only bushland beyond us. The Mining Boom happened and what was empty land became a private housing estate and places I walked the dogs, were now gardens. I don’t see the Kangaroos as much.  But the mining boom has been and gone and went, and so has the big pay packets. They can no longer afford the big boat, or the Jeep or even the five bedroom house – so the jeep’s gone, the boat’s gone and the house is up for sale. Sad but no one thought to put money away it was just earn and spend. And they borrowed – so what they get for the boat, vehicle and house will mostly go to pay debts. That is the sad aftermath of the mining boom for some.

Ambulance, Cell Phones and a Birthday.

Costly things

A few weeks ago – as you know – Annabell had a fall and was taken to the hospital in an Ambulance. On Monday we received a bill from the Ambulance people ( St. John’s)  for  a thousand dollars – well actually $997 to be exact. Fortunately my Medical Insurance covers this so they will pay it. This is the first time – ever – we have used an ambulance and the cost kind of shook me a little. True they were very kind and really did look after her  so I have no complaints regarding the service, but I did think  nearly a thousand dollars was a tad heavy. I could have flown to Glasgow,  London, or Paris for less.  She is much better now and  almost back to herself with a few additional pains for her trouble.

Sometimes I think life likes to play practical jokes on people. For instance, the other night I was very tired and did not set the alarm before I went to bed. I figured  I

I have an iPhone. Going back to Samsung after this contract

would take Benji  to the Wetlands to make up for not walking in the morning. I was in bed by 11:00 and woke up looking up at the skylight expecting to see daylight. I did not. So I got up and checked the time – 05:41 and had I set the alarm it would have gone off at 05:45. I got dressed got Benji ready and we went out on our morning walk. Sometimes you just can’t win. You are probably wondering why I didn’t see the time on the clock – I don’t have a clock. I use my  Mobile (Cell) Phone as my alarm, and I do not keep it near me.

It is starting to get really cold in the mornings so I think it’s time I laid aside the Baseball Cap and started with the Beanie. The long range weather forecast is for very little rain but for colder  than usual mornings and evenings, so the Beanie and gloves. But things change and one can never be sure who to believe as another report says that there will be no rain but the forecast will be for warmer than usual mornings and nights. Anyway, for the moment it’s the Beanie.

One of the sites I go to put some photographs of sunset over her area and it reminded me of the photographs I took here. Mind you my camera is probably not as good as hers but  I think they came out not too badly. I’ll put one in the next post and you can decide. Although having said that some friends recently visited Washing DC and sent photographs. I asked her what  camera she was using and she floored me by telling me she was using  her cell phone. The clarity and quality was amazing. She was using a Samsung. This iPhone is the first Apple phone I have ever had. I have always been with Samsung and it was a sudden rush of blood to the head that made me pick Apple, so I am stuck with the decision for two years. However, as soon as the contract has expired I will be going back to Samsung.

Connor, our one and only grandson, is a year old today. Nothing much happening since it’s Saturday  and there are games to be played – netball for the girls – Hockey for Andrew. However, tomorrow Andrew is having a  Barbecue at Wilson Park, which only a short walk from his house.

That’s the man!

After church on Sunday, I took Annabell home and let her get changed – I changed into slacks and a heavy pullover and we drove up to Wilson Park. It was very well attended and I found it  good fun. Sadly Annabell was not at her best, but we looked after her and she was not left out of anything. I think she did enjoy herself despite not being able to walk around. Andrew very kindly walked back to the house to get a seat for her. It was, as I said, fun, but very much a chocolate overload  :o)  We stayed until the sun started sinking and moving away from where we were. By then Annabell was cold and I got a blanket from the car for her and about 2:45 we left  and came home.  Today (Monday) Benji and me went out for our morning walk – it was cold and very misty with visibility  down to about 20 or so feet – less at the top end of our walk. I think winter cometh.

Walks, Fete and and second dog.

Best I could do
I thought it was funny

Getting much lighter in the morning, but not all that much warmer. The days, however, are warmer and we had a little taste of summer when the temperature climbed up to 35c. That was exciting!! The following day it was 28c then fell back to  normal early spring temperatures of 20(ish). However, high 20s – low 30s and the flies are out in force already. One of the advantages of the light in the morning is that a number of Kangaroos have been gathering at the far end of the fence line. Not that we get anywhere near them as they bounce off before we get even close enough to take a photograph but, still, it’s nice to see them and take what photograph we can. I carry a Nikon with me, it’s not really up to serious photography, but it is easy to carry around. When I go to Mount Gambier I generally take the larger camera with me..

Our clocks went forward an hour so it’s back to dark in the mornings. We had a few days of really nice spring weather then back to sort of late winter – cold, wet and miserable. Today (Saturday 7th) it had been raining much of the night and it’s still raining. We did not go out for our walk this morning, but he still got his morning treat – which I thought only fair because he was up and ready to go. The church mini Fete took place today and given the early heavy rain we were concerned that it might have to be cancelled again. However, by 7:30 the rain cleared and the sun shone brightly. The Fete was well attended and overall we raised over $1400. I paid for it in that I was on my feet for much of the day and my knee has been playing up something shocking. This evening I lay down and read a book – vegged out I think.

A recent comment mentioned the surprise that Mount Gambier is over 1000 miles round trip. This is part of the problem living in South Australia and partly why it continues to be

Towards the Flinders
One of the gorges through the lower Flinders

underdeveloped – the tyranny of distance and a lack of a major water supply. Just driving to the Lighthouse and back is nearly 50 miles. This distance will take you from Glasgow to Lochearnhead or from Edinburgh to Callander ( give or take a couple of miles)  Some of you may remember that one of our elderly ladies was moved from here to Quorn Hospital because there were no beds at any of the aged care facilities here. I visited her several times as did some of the other ladies – a round trip of 145 miles. For me the problem is that we here are “inbetweeners” too far north to get the benefit of the rolling landscapes of the south, and not far enough north to get the benefit of the rugged  mountain country of the Flinders Ranges. To get to either means several hours driving and of the two I prefer the Flinders Ranges.

For the next three days I will have two dogs. When Ina had to go down to the hospital in Adelaide, Irene – a mutual friend – looked after Dougal. Irene is not in town any more so when I was round there the other day getting some things for the Fete, Ina  talked about her need to put Dougal into care for a couple of days. I said she was not to do this and she was to bring Dougal round to me and Annabell and I would look after him for the two days. I went home and told Annabell what I had done and she said “good, Dougal is a lovely Shih-Tzu and should be no problem”.  Ina brought the dog this evening and after she went home, the three of us- Benji, me and Dougal went out for a walk. Dougal and Benji hit it off and currently they are wandering around outside like old pals.

 

Adelaide, Games and the Man

Glasgow of the Commonwealth Games.
Glasgow of the Commonwealth Games.

I had been telephoning Alan every couple of days to have a quick chat and see how he was. I tried to call him last week without success. This worried me a bit so I called my niece and was informed that he had had a major stroke and was moved to the  HDU at the Flinders  Medical Center. I called the Flinders a little while and was told that he is not good. I  think I might be heading to Adelaide soon. If he is still with us, I will drive down on Friday anyway and see him. I cannot get away before that because I am contracted for the week and will be out of town – not out of touch, just out of town – until Thursday afternoon. Herself cannot travel –  John is in Florence so it will be Andrew and I that will attend when necessary. He’s had such a poor time over these last few years, not being able to do anything , hooked up to oxygen and watching TV all day. He’s six hours  and over 530 klms away so getting to see him is not easy, but I have been calling him and chatting to him a couple of times each week.  On Monday night I got the call that I had been  expecting, but not quite so soon. Alan died on Monday evening. The remains wont be released until tomorrow (Thursday) and the funeral will be organized for Monday early afternoon. It will only be a small funeral for family and Monday afternoon is to give Andrew and I time to drive down. Also we have to get back on Monday night because I have to take herself to her doctor on Tuesday. I will be home all of next week then I’m out of town again, then down to Adelaide to collect John from the Airport. At the moment he is in Florence and will be heading off to Berlin and Munich next week to start a tour of Northern Europe, a cruise on the Danube and then home.

The first two days away were fairly good but today the weather closed in again and it rained for much of the day. As far as I can see, tomorrow wont be much better, but at least that’s the last day for the moment.

Hmmmm.. :o)
Hmmmm.. :o)

Thankfully, home but getting ready to head off to Adelaide for a funeral. The day and time has been changed, which rules  out Andrew. Herself has had to change her hospital appointment.  This means I will be going down on my own, and it’s at Hackham West, an hour+ out of Adelaide. Of course I have been offered a bed for the night but I am yer aktual weirdo who dislikes staying with people. Going down to Adelaide people offered me  a bed for the conferences, but I never took up any of the offers so they understood and stopped offering to put me up.

Tomorrow I head off to Adelaide for Alan’s Funeral. I believe it is going to be a quiet, private family funeral – which is probably best. I’ll  stay overnight in South Terrace, I think there’s a nice park bench there, and  travel through to the funeral on Tuesday. I have booked two nights so I’ll leave early Wednesday morning and be home just after lunch. So far the weather looks like – Monday dry and sunny – Tuesday, Wet – Wednesday, dry and sunny. If it’s a nice day on Thursday I might go over and attack some more of that vine. I can see the main roots now, so once I cut away more of the actual vine I should be able to get to the roots of the thing. That would be good and probably help.

I have not seen a lot of the Commonwealth Games and when I did turn on the TV all I did see was talking heads and repeats of repeats, so I kind of gave up. I think Australian Television works on the theory that if it’s worth showing once, it’s worth showing forty times.

The Man is  well and as soon as I get back from Adelaide we are going to order the wheels for him. I took them out the other night and I carried him most of the way. I asked about his medication and the Vet says 1 half tablet per day is enough for his weight. He sleeps a lot and when hes awake, he eats – boy does he eat, but he never seems to gain any weight. I sort of envy that  :o) Chienne is fine and doing well. She came in and slept with me a couple of times, but like the Man she prefers her own bed. John is heading to Berlin and Munich. Was not impressed with either Rome or Venice.

Travelling, cars and planes

This is the new groomer
This is the new groomer

First off – an apology to CDL for ever doubting her! I was asked this holiday weekend to help a friend in his back yard. They have just bought this house and the area along the back of the fence has gone wild – feral even. The previous owners planted  Bougainvillea, never cut it, never trimmed it but allowed it to take over. As if that was not bad enough they had also planted a creeper called here in Australia ‘ Mile a Minute”  and a vine that’s called  ” Clematis Virginiana”  masses and masses of that stuff. Cutting the Bougainvillea was a nightmare but it fell quick enough – after it had poked its way through my gloves a couple of times.  The biggest problem, however, is that vine – it’s everywhere, over sheds and over the garage roof. We took two full trailer loads to the dump and were still only at the start of it. The vine is quite nice but again it had been left, never cut never trimmed, never looked after and as a result it is invasive. We also discovered that the back fence was badly damaged and will have to be replaced. The weight of all the years of plant neglect have really  taken a toll.

I head off to Adelaide tomorrow, stay overnight in Adelaide then head off to Mount Barker for a conference.  I will be staying at the Grand Chifley in South Terrace. and depending on what time the conference finishes I may have to stop somewhere overnight and travel home on Sunday morning.  I have to be very honest and say I had fully intended to have a “cold” this conference and put in an apology but the place is in crisis and there will decisions made that could seriously alter the entire structure of how things run. There may well be – and probably will be –  things touted that we in the north will have difficulty living with and I will oppose them, but once upon a time there was a balance between liberals and conservatives but that balance is gone and I am, in essence, the last of the liberals and I am always outvoted. TeeHee – there’s 14 of them and 1 of me. Why do I even bother going? Good question, but the  rules are very clear that every site must elect a representative and that representative must attend  the bi-monthly conference. The consequences for not attending for at least three meetings without a valid reason, can have consequences for the representative and the area represented. I am very selective on when I am ‘unable’  to  attend and this weekend would have been one of those. Why?? Well,  Herself and  the ladies are having a big  fundraising function for  the Hospital Cancer Unit this weekend – Saturday to be precise. There will be coffee, tea, cakes, scones,  biscuits, cookies, scones, all sorts of goodies- and did I mention scones.  Anyway, I had intended to be here but now, because of the crisis that developed I need to be there, if only to ensure that the rules are adhered to and insist that my objections  be noted in the minutes to show people here that I did not sit quietly and allow us to get railroaded. Travelled down yesterday and it poured all the way down. Went for coffee with friends then made my way to South Terrace and my hotel. I had a good comfortable night and sorry to say to CDL it rained for a good part of the night – and cold with it.

This morning I set off to Mount Barker a again the rain poured down and on the Freeway that was not too comfortable. Still made it with time to spare  as I write this on my tablet I am having coffee and cake ( don’t tell herself – about the cake) in  place called Gawler Street Cafe and very nice it is too. Still chucking it down and the cafe is nice and warm. Will have to drag myself away in a little while and it will be cold  — and the

Glasgow of the Commonwealth Games.
Glasgow of the Commonwealth Games.

weather is not all that much better.

I just had a look at the lunch menu and it looks good. May well come back here for lunch. Actually I did come back for lunch. Had a nice lunch here and they have a wood fired oven. If I had had more time I would have ordered a pizza. The meeting finished at just before 3pm and I wasted no time in getting back on the road.  I wanted to be on the motorway (freeway)  and heading home as soon as I could.

Ok that was last week. This week I have just once again come back from a cold, wet and miserable Adelaide. My son has gone off to Scotland and Europe  for six weeks and I took him down to Adelaide Airport. By and large the two days were not too bad but the first half on my journey home was up South Road, to the  Motorway and then to the Port Wakefield Road, in the dark and rain. Had breakfast at Port Wakefield, by which time it was light, so I and drove home – and didn’t even stop at the Tin Man.  John called at 11am to say that he had arrived in Dubai then a quick  call to say that he had arrived in Glasgow. He’s looking forward to his adventure and I’m looking forward to having him back safe and well. He’s meeting up with some Engineering people in Munich, so that should keep him happy. Three more weeks and I’m in Adelaide again.  Oh Joy!!

“Gam zeh ya’avor” – this too shall pass

This week we think of the people or Arizona and the heavy loss of 19 Brave Young Men who gave their lives  defending their community. The loss of life, for whatever reason, is  never easy to bear,  but to lose so many  young men so quickly, is davastating.  As a caring community our hearts go out to the family, friends and loved ones of these young men. But we should also remember that there were 20 in the crew, and the 20th man had only just moved away to shift the truck and in that short space of time, his 19 friends and colleagues  were killed. His wounds will be deep and he will feel the lost keenly.  This man will need to be carefully monitored and helped to come to terms with his loss, and his sense of guilt as he tries desperately to answer the question that will be in his mind, Why Me?

Like many  who spent their childhood in the City of Glasgow, 19 is more than just an arbitrary number. In a single night 19 firefighters were killed at the Cheapside Street, Bonded Warehouse fire, when over one million gallons of Whisky and thirty thousand gallons of Rum erupted in an inferno that took a week to finally extinguish. It was the worse fire since World War Two and is still the  highest  peacetime loss of firefighters lives in British History.

People don’t understand why so much inflammable spirit was housed within almost the heart of the city and the answer is really very simple – Glasgow was once a very busy port as well as a shipbuilding centre and  Cheapside Street Bonded  Warehouse  was at  Anderson Quay  and the Bonded Warehouse was an export Warehouse. I do not know what the law is today but in these days only certain Ports were  allowed by Customs And Excise Law to be registered for the importation of Tobacco and   Glasgow was one of those – it was the largest and the oldest.   Right next door to the Bonded Warehouse was the Glasgow Tobacco Warehouse and next door to that was a large Ice Cream Factory. So there it  is –  a major disaster waiting to happen –  over one million gallons of inflammable spirit,  tons of tobacco, gas and and chemicals – and on March 1960 it happened.

I can imagine that there will be people in Glasgow who will read the reports from Arizona with deep sadness and the number 19 will be etched in their minds. True,  things are different today and in 1960 we did not understand much,  and the support services were not  what they are today  -if they existed at all – other than family and friends.  I do know from my mother that many of the wives never came to terms with their loss and I hope and pray that Arizona can and will do so much better.