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.

The Sands of Time and a Crazy (Confused) Dog

Our Local Hospital

Tomorrow (Saturday)  my son and I along with another person will be running an RFDS fundraising event at a local hardware store:      We did this and I tell you it was the coldest I have ever been all winter – thus far. It was freezing cold down there with practically no shelter from a cold, biting  wind. I did have a jacket on but it was a light jacket and not a lot of help. Still we got through the day. Otherwise it has been a pretty quiet week.  Last week one of the coffee days was cancelled because of the lack of numbers and the evening group has also dropped in numbers – not quite as bad as the Wednesday morning group, but still down from when I set up this place for them coming here. I set out the room for seventeen ladies now there are only about 11 of them. This week  Annabell will be part of the missing number as she drops out for the two meetings. On Monday (tomorrow) I have to take her to hospital for 7am and she will undergo an eye operation.  It’s day surgery and she should be out in about three hours and I’ll take her

It’s all go around here today

home and watch over her for the rest of the day.  I was told  for at least 24 hours after the  surgery. I am also responsible for getting the drops into her eye three times a day. I was given instructions about washing hands before administrating the eye drops, use A bottle first – wait ten minutes, wash hands (in case I may have touched something)  and use the B bottle. I have to administer the first bottle for a week only and the second until finished. So, for the next week or so I am Chief Cook – and bottle washer, as well as being chauffeur, although  my driving duties are somewhat curtailed until such time as she can go out without dark glasses.

You gotta love the timing –  as I am in the process of re-decorating  and painting. I did stop painting for a few days whilst she recovered but I am back into it again and hope to have everything finished by this evening. True,  I get almost as much paint on me as I do on the walls, but  still, I find it enjoyable and therapeutic  with the added joy of pulling one end of the

At the Wetlands a few days ago

blue masking tape and watch it all fall off.    I know, I know – small things and all that  :o)  I did finish the painting this evening. cleared up and tidied up put things back together for the moment until everything has to be moved for the new floor covering to be laid.  Presently I am sitting in front of the computer with a coffee which I will sip quietly whilst contemplating Annabell”s  words to me – “You know the bathroom is looking a little jaded. Could do with a lick of paint”.

Nice Day.

I had come to the end but something happened this morning that I want to mention. Because of the painting I had taken Benji’s bed into my room and that’s where he slept these last few nights. Generally he  sleeps at my back so I felt a little bit abandoned. Anyway, I got up this morning and made ready to take him out. He didn’t want to go. Fair enough, it was a tad cold. Sat at the computer and after a few minutes he started pawing at me. I asked him if he wanted to go out – the ears came up and the tail wagged, so I took that as a yes and off we went. We walk some 1.75 miles in the early morning, come home and he has his after walk treat, then he heads to bed. He wandered over to the area where his bed generally is – no bed.. So I  took him through to my room  and he went into his bed. I left the room, he followed and went back to sniffing the area where his bed should be. I think there might have been some message in this so I went to the room (he followed) picked up his bed, brought it back to where  is should have been.  He had a sniff, jumped into his bed and promptly went to sleep. Perhaps it’s me! Perhaps I’m just a slow learner and should have realised that the bed should have been available right after he had taken his human for a walk.  It’s a worry.

John’s wheels, Benji and the WaWa

Took the dogs to the Wetlands this afternoon. The rain we have had over the last week has had  a reasonable effect but it still needs more to bring the ponds back to capacity. The boys were very good and walked well – like old pals, in fact. Pity they could not behave like that at home.  Still to be fair, it’s not the fault of Max – Benji is the culprit here and as I said, for some reason he does not like Max. On Sunday, Max went home.

I have just returned from a trip to Adelaide. My son’s car has “given up the ghost”so he needs a new car. He asked me to take him to Adelaide since there was nothing here that he liked.  There is only one car dealer here and private buys are a bit “dodgy”  I took him to a decent dealer, “Adelaide Auto Sales”at Mawson Lakes. We spent some time there looking at various SUV models and he finally settled on a Ford Territory. Personally I preferred the

John’s new Wheels

Sliver-Blue one, but he settled on the Black.  The reason for the SUV is the high clearance which on the back roads could get him out of any trouble a lot easier.  I had booked two hotel rooms but having got his vehicle, he decided he wanted to go home, so I led him back to the Port Wakefield Road and after a stop at Bolivar when I asked him to call me from Wakefield,  any other stop and to call me when he gets home. I went back into town and did some shopping before heading off to the hotel for the night. John called me from Wakefield, Tin Man and when he got home. I had intended to head out to Bunnings this morning but decided I would follow John and head for home. I started out at 6am expecting to be in Wakefield by  sunrise and continue the rest of the way in the daylight.  I did, of course, but it was not without its interesting moments. There is a lot of reconstruction and road works  at the bridge where the Northern Express branches off. It was dark, I was unaware of  the situation so I followed what I thought was the right traffic cone-lined lane and ended up on the Northern Expressway. My GPS, which I had programmed for home led me off the Express to the Penfield Road, exit then to Virginia and back to Highway A1 – The Port Wakefield Road,  and all of this was done in the dark and I don’t like driving at night. Still the Port Wakefield Road if a fairly large, well divided  four lane highway from Gepps Cross in Adelaide all the way to Port Wakefield and I generally  drive this in the dark to be in Wakefield for the sunrise  so that I can  continue by daylight. Wildlife on the Port Wakefield Road is unusual.

After my unscheduled  detour I drove directly to Port Wakefield and stayed there for  breakfast before heading off to the Tin Man.  I decided, since I had sufficient fuel,  not to stop and drove

Benji and Bowtie

directly to Port Augusta, did some shopping there and headed for home.  Crazy Benji went gaga and I eventually had to sit on the floor with him for a bit until he settled down. You would think I had been away for weeks instead of just a day and a half,.  After I emptied the car and sorted out my case, I took Benji out for a walk. That made him happy, just him and me together.  I actually do miss him when I am away. However, all being well, I wont be away again until August and then only for a day and a half.

I have been looking through some old photographs and I came across photographs of Kongsoon ( the WaWa) and oddly enough, I do miss her and wonder how she is. We never hear from them

The WaWa

so we’ll probably never know. Sad, but there you are.

Dogs, Heaven and the RFDS Jet

Glen Coe

… then I’ll hike it through Glen Falloch where the mountain breezes blow

And I’ll draw up in the evening  in the Valley of Glen Coe.

Of course, in my idea of heaven the road wouldn’t be there and all the dogs I have had throughout my life would be with me.  There  would be cloud and mist but  it would never be  cold. There would be sunshine sometimes, but not too much and if food was needed, then it would just be there as required.  I think there would be no people – I have never really been much of a people person – at least I don’t think so because really, I prefer solitude. I loved the isolation of being in the mountains, away from noise, people and civilisation  and yet, many of the things I do or am involved in,  are serving or helping people.I used to think that  this was God’s idea of a practical joke – He knows I am not really a people person, so  He sees to it that all the things I do I am involved with people. But then,  God is  just and to balance  this out He also gave me a love of dogs, and over the years all the dogs that I have had, each one has been the joy of my life, all in their own different ways. In a blog I read recently I wrote about this and mentioned that for some time after Benji was adopted I was calling him Chienne, but he was very forgiving.  You know, you read it all the time but  it never really becomes trite “A dog is the only creature on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

We definitely cannot have Max back again. I know I keep saying this but twice already today there have been several  ‘spats’ between the two and when Annabell and I have to go out, we do not leave them together – something we have never had to do with any other visitor – not even the WaWa. There has been rain and high wind over much of the State. We have had some rain and some wind but nothing like the lower areas. About twenty miles further out in the bush there was some flooding and the road to where my son works was flooded. He decided to come in the back way, which, as it turns out, was not a great decision. He ran into a pothole and  damaged the converter and tore the exhaust system. We got it back and into the garage and his  ‘detour’ will set him back about $600.  I will be leaving the post as Secretary of the  RFDS Branch at the AGM in July. Don’t know what happens after that – we’ll see. I  decided to leave because at one point I was concerned for Annabell after the car crash  and the fact that we never seemed to be away from the hospital or the Doctor Surgery. Things have calmed down, everything seems to have cleared but we have a  young lady who is very keen to be secretary and she has sort of taken over, and come the AGM, we will elect her as the Secretary and I will bow out. Well, not really, there are some things I said I would continue to do

People said it couldn’t be done. They said no one could do it. So we tackled this thing that couldn’t be done and we did it – a world first.  The  Royal Flying Doctor Service was under a bit of a cloud with the new  Intensive Care

The New RFDS I C U Jet.

Unit (The new Jet).  People were concerned that it wouldn’t work in South Australia because it wouldn’t be able to land on a dirt strip in the far northern outback of the State. So the RFDS organised an outback Sheep station get the airstrip ready because the jet was coming. The sheep station is 370klms north of Port Augusta, a 7 hour drive from Adelaide. The jet covered the distance in just under 40 minutes and made a perfect landing on the  dirt runway.  It made just as  perfect take-off. There is a you tube of the landing, which I have saved,  and I hope it works. In areas further north than the Flinders it would take the  normal RFDS Aircraft about 1 hour and forty-five minutes to cover the distance back to Adelaide. The Jet will do it in just under an hour, which makes a big difference in a life emergency.

We have not seen the jet up here and it is unlikely that we ever will – well not for a medical emergency anyway – perhaps for a goodwill visit.  —- I have deleted the You Tube Video as I have been told that it is a channel 7 video and thus copyright.

Heatwaves and temperature crashes.

The highest temperature recorded in the town’s history, was how the temperature of Port Augusta was described. The  “Official Temperature”was recorded as 48.9c but the temperature monitor in the center of the town recorded 52.6c. Here, my monitor recorded a temperature of 43c as did the monitor of a friend in another part of town, yet the “Official Temperature” only recorded 37c.

Well, Hi There, yáll.

Part of the local legend and conspiracy theory is that  in the early days of the town, the temperature of the area was “adjusted”  so as not to discourage people from coming here. It was advertised as having a “Mediterranean Climate” although off-hand I can’t think of many places in that area that experience temperatures of 40+C. Anyway, the higher temperatures meant  lower and sometimes, no wind. I  thought this was great and suitably attired,  I managed to get almost all of the leaves swept up. Didn’t bode well for my plants despite the  daily watering and monitoring. It’s also been a busy week in that I have had three medical appointment that were  unplanned. What I mean by that is that doctor called and said he wanted certain tests for Annabell and I  took her for these. And a call that he wanted to see her – that’s later on this morning.

Still and Calm

Last night it was suddenly quite mild and Benji and me visited the Wetlands  and had a good walk around the place. The thing I found surprising is that despite the coolness of the evening, there were not very many people about. I was, however, disappointed to discover that the Wetlands Kiosk was closed. I would have thought it would have remained open late, which would attract more people to the area in the mild evenings. There was not a breath of  wind in the air. The water of the ponds were still and calm – sort of like me, really – still and calm — Yeah in my dreams!

Today – Friday – the wind came back, the temperature fell to the low 20s and we had a few spots of rain – so few spots I think it was scared to show its face after being away for so long.  The heat, is some parts of the state and the country, only served to exacerbate the drought, pushing our farmers further into depression. Many of my plants did not survive and I did have concerns with my young Mulberry Tree, but it seems to come through ok – as far as I can tell.

Walk at 6:10am.

I was hoping to go through to the Port this week and then on to Quorn Hospital but all these doctor dates with Annabell kind of knocked that on the head. She is ok otherwise. She coped reasonably well with the high temperatures this last week and we are going to look at replacing the Air Conditioner in her room with a reverse cycle Air Conditioner. It will give her more control to regulate the temperature to what is comfortable for her. I took Benji out for a walk this morning and it was – as they say -“Fresh”. In fact it was so fresh that I was sorry I had put on only a light jacket – and yes, that’s how far the temperatures have fallen. Sort of giving us a breather before the heatwave forecast for next week. Today, and tomorrow  I have  fundraising days for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This will take up much of the day. Fortunately it’s not a hot day – I think about 24c. We should be ok today and the team out tomorrow should have about the same,

Trip to Port Pirie Pt. 2

Having had lunch at the Tin Man, we had a bit of a walk before going back to the car and heading off to Port Augusta. He did his usual – curl up on the front seat and go to sleep – whilst I concentrated on the driving. On arrival at the Port I managed to complete the remainder of the shopping and we had a small snack and a good long walk along the Esplanade, sat down and had a bit of a break. Oddly enough, although it was  quite warm in Port Pirie, Augusta was not quite so warm and instead of the A/C I put the heater on for a bit. The drive back was uneventful and as we neared the town, I noticed a cloud of dust. As I drew near to the source of the dust I discovered that it was caused by several of the Army Tanks heading towards the live-fire area. (more on this later) The boy and I had been away since about 8am and it was now approaching 4pm, so all in we had a good day out together, The Shopping Center at Pirie was really interesting and I would liked some time to explore it. I have a ‘thing’about shopping malls and centers and find them fascinating places. It probably comes from the fact that when we were growing up in Scotland there were no shopping malls or shopping centers. In fact there weren’t  supermarkets until the mid 1970s – and they were few and far between. Most shopping was done in individual shops – Fishmongers – Fruit and Veg at the Green Grocer – Grocers,( butter, milk, cheese, bread ) Butcher, Baker and yes, we did have a Candlemaker. (Shearer of Govan) We had two big grocer shops close to us, Galbraith and the Co-op. There were probably others that I don’t remember. All-in-all, we had a really good day out – well I did, he just curled up on the front seat.

Flowers along the pathway at the Wetlands

On Friday, Annabell had medical appointments so not much doing. Saturday I spent the day working in the garden sweeping up leaves and doing a general tidy up. I bought  two new plants and will attend to them on Monday. On Sunday (today), after church and lunch the boy and I got in

The Black Swans

the car and drove down to the Wetlands. Lovely day with a nice temperature of 25c, just the job for a circuit and a half together. Flowers out and to add to the  day, the Black Swans were back again.  The Kiosk is still not open. It was supposed to be open this week but there you are – perhaps next week.

This morning (Monday) was a bit on the cool side for our morning walk. Still it is supposed to be around 28c during the course of the day. A nice day in the Arid Lands. On the subject of Arid Lands, the Arid Lands Botanic Garden is under a cloud – re. funding. The ALBG was started many years ago as an initiative of the Port Augusta City Council, but with budget being “tight” the Port might not be able to  keep  the funding going for much longer. However, having read that I have to say the recent trip to Pirie showed me the amount of redevelopment going on in the port. The Feds and the State Government will start construction on the new major bridge soon. so there will be a fair amount of work at

Not too bad looking – but who minds as long as the coffee is good and it sells scones.

Port Augusta.  I have  started extra work in the back garden and have planted three new plants – two in the front garden and one (so far) in the back. The soil here is poor and thin so I  do have three raised flower beds – two front and one back. They contain 280 ltrs of potting mix rather than soil. In the front I have  a Plumbago and a Coleonema and at the back I have a second Coleonema.  I also have a  growing Sturt Desert Rose which I will plant in a different area. I have

Native Bush from the Arid Lands B.G.

a lot of hope for this because the native plants are growing well. I would like to get time this week to  drive out to the ALBG but in order to do that I would have to leave Benji at home – and he wont like that. He does not like getting left – not at all. It’s bad enough when I have to go to away for days at a time.

And the winner is……………………………….

It’s coming soon.

I left home on Friday morning, it was quiet, no rain, no wind and the sun was showing its good side. For most of the day the weather  was good for a winter day and I had a fairly enjoyable trip down until I reached the city, that is. I had programmed the GPS to take me out to Adelaide Airport and the RFDS Base. Never having been to that end of town before I had to rely on the GPS – bad mistake. It took me the best part of an hour and a half to get to the Airport as the GPS led me into just about every street in the entire  side of the city. “Take the second turning on the left” or words of a similar nature are words that I came to hate. Speaking to friends later I was told that I was  in roads that I should have been no where near. However, I did arrive at Adelaide Airport only to discover that the RFDS Base is not there any more. It has moved to a new area. After being told where the new Base is I set off again, with similar results. I finally gave up and pulled into Harbour Town. I telephoned the Base from the car-park and was told that I was only minutes away and that the base was in the Airport grounds behind Harbour Town. Three minutes later, and after instructions from Lindy & Mary  (RFDS Staff) I was at the Base. I wasn’t lost, you understand – I do not get lost, although from time to time I do become “Geographically Misplaced”  I collected all things that I needed to collect and made my way back out. Tapley’s Hill Road, took me to Sir Donald Bradman Drive, which I knew would take me directly to town and less than 20 minutes later I was in town and heading out to North Adelaide. Not my best day and by now it was raining. After a coffee in my hotel, I decided to  go into town. By this time the rain was pretty heavy so I gave that a miss. I never got half the things I wanted to do. By the time the Conference finished on Saturday, It was chucking it down , so I decided to go home rather than go shopping. Driving out of town was an illustration of what I have been saying to you – the further north I drove the less rain. By Snowtown (150 klm North) the sky was blue and the clouds were white rather than gray. A few spots at the Port and that was about it.

In the last two years I have lost a number of people that I did not expect to lose. I felt all was well, but they just stopped writing – well at least to this page, I still see them on other pages. In the last two months a further two have left and I can’t help wondering who will be next. So, I am considering what I do from here.

Not a lot happens up here. At the moment we are like a potato – everything that is really good is underground – waiting. I would not go so far to say that our glory days are over and that we

Well, are we :o) ?

just go quietly into the night, but there are promises and we live on promises – many of which remain unfulfilled. The  buying of Arrium;  the company brought from the brink of death by Mr. Gupta and the GFG Alliance. Lots of promises, lots of plans, but not really a lot on the ground. Impatience?? Perhaps but it has been a year this month since Arrium  was bought and whilst there is some returning confidence, it’s not as much as was expected.  Some things will have to change, no doubt about that and at the moment we have no real idea of what these changes might be. We look outward and see that one of the largest construction companies, involved in multi-million government projects, has collapsed and closed its doors,  and many people came to work on Monday  morning and by Monday lunchtime, had put their personal belongings into boxes and were out the door for good. It was that fast. That could have happened to us, but it didn’t. Theirs was a sudden shock, ours was a long, slow, painful decline and we are still to raise ourselves up from that.  There is supposed to be a “Big Announcement” today by Mr. Gupta and GFG Alliance, with Mr. Gupta here in town. So we will see what that brings.