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.

Arid Lands, Dog Friendly and Hospitals

Been a long day. Need rest!

The house these last few days has been very quiet. I have gotten so used to the WaWa , barking and running to greet me that I miss her. Benji is there but he is not the demonstrative  dog the WaWa was so his greeting – whilst no less loving – is a quiet affair.  Since the departure of the WaWa last  Thursday Benji and I have been out and about again – the Beach several times and the Wetlands several times. I would like to go to the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens for some new plants,  but dogs are banned from the area, so I could not take him with me – which is a pity. South Australia is largely behind everyone else and we have – to my knowledge – very few places that are dog friendly. Some places that are supposed to be “Dog Friendly”have so many restrictions  that it’s hardly worth while – unless you are towing a caravan or a driving a  motorhome. There are some places that are catching up, but it’s a slow process. However, I am heading off to Adelaide in ten days so if I get away from Conference at a reasonable time and make  thee Gardens before they close.

A lady – Samantha Grant – writes about her travels in Scotland with her husband,  her Westie and sometimes her daughter. In reading her posts I have been amazed at the number of places she has gone to that are “Dog Friendly” many of which I associate with my growing up in Scotland.  I think it’s great but I have to confess that such a concept  as dog friendly would never have been considered when I was growing up in Scotland. You were more likely to be shouted at “Get that +#$$%y animal out oImage result for no dogs allowed clipartf here ”  It’s certainly changed days – and changed for the better in some instances.

Still on the subject of dogs, Benji is much, much happier, and it shows, but he still stops and looks before he comes into the living room and jumps up on to my lap. I did put his extra bed back where it used to be but he hasn’t used it yet. Even today, when Annabell come in to my room, he grabbed one of his toys and started squeaking it at the open door – It may take him a while but he will get used to the WaWa not being here. Oh, and we will not be looking after Yogi after all, so Benji has the house to himself (apart from us humans)  for the foreseeable future.

It is now  eight years since Annabell was cleared of the Golden Staph Infection that put her in three hospitals for months.In the last hospital there was some concern that the amount of drugs she was being fed was starting to compromise her liver and kidney functions. So here we are, eight years on and I now have to take her to hospital for x-rays because her recent  blood test shows that there may be some problem with her kidney function.  She was about an hour or so in the clinic where she underwent an ultra-sound on both kidneys. We should get the results once the doctor gets the report – which will be posted directly to him. The following evening I had to take her to Physiotherapy, so both nights were take-away dinners – and my diet went out the window  :o) Anyway, at  least we have the weekend to wind down and relax and the  report

Hospital

should be with the doctor on Monday. However, she said herself that she feel fine so we are not expecting anything too drastic.

An unexpected Adventure!

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trip to the South East (pt. 2)

A small part of the many  fields of vines
A small part of the many fields of vines

As for the reason for the trip — well we are in serious decline across the state,  but what you have to remember is that when they talk about “The State” what they actually mean is “Adelaide”. We here are not in decline, we have increased and are continuing to do so, but we are not in Adelaide, so it doesn’t count. If the negotiations bear fruit – as far as the leadership is concerned –   we will lose our identity. Doubtless we will be assured that this will not be the case, but when you are managed by someone who  may well have a different outlook on things, we will come off second best especially if the  “Management”has the financial clout. However, I take heart from the poem by Dylan Thomas –
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

At the moment we are not included in their plans – which are all about Adelaide –  and although it would be nice if they just quietly forgot us, that’s not likely to happen. We may had differing views on things but one thing we do agree on is that we cannot continue on the way we are.  Things have to change and I have no doubt they  will have something  festering away in their collective minds.  However, this is not going to happen overnight – but it will happen before the year’s end.

Presently it is cold here. We did have a little bit of rain but not much here. Up north we had floods, swollen creeks (usually dry) and travelers and communities stranded. Of course it was not bad for everyone because the  farmers were quite happy.  This is always our problem – the rain bands pass north of us – so we miss out – or they pass across the bottom of the Peninsula and we miss out again. Sad really. I am always  amused when people come back from a holiday in the UK and tell me they went up to Scotland. They generally remark on how fresh and green things are and I just nod.  Things tend to be sort of fresh and green looking when you get as much rain as Scotland does.

The River Murray
The River Murray

The return journey from Naracoorte was a lot more relaxing than the journey out, but isn’t that always the case? On the outward leg everything is new and unfamiliar and you have no idea of the road conditions ahead, whereas coming back you are traveling back through familiar territory and you seem to get places faster and the South Eastern Freeway looks very different coming back than it did

Tree out back and Galah's
Tree out back and Galah’s

going out. I would loved to have taken photographs but stopping on the Freeway can mean a hefty fine. I did stay for a break at Tailem Bend and then drove through to Adelaide. It was my intention to drive directly to Bunnings but by the time I got to Adelaide I was starting to feel a little weary so Bolivar it was. I did get on the road at about 6:30 the following morning and  got all the things that Annabell wanted me to get for her. I was glad to be back home and glad to see Herself and Chienne. Chi is still fairly well. Not a lot we can do but I understand the tumor is very slow growing so we will have her for a good while yet and besides she is over 14 now.

Since I came home I have had a very busy time working in the garden and several days when I have been asked to come in to work.  I have decided – after all this time – that I am not going to get anything to grow here so a touch of landscaping with river stones is in order. Clean the area, put down weed matting, concrete

IMAG0503
The Office Area

paving stones and cover the area with river stones (20mm). Tomorrow I’ll go to the hardware shop and get a bunch of  interesting and colourful artificial flowers and put a flower pot on either side of the door – brighten the place up a bit. The place has changed a little since I took that photograph and I now have coloured solar in ground lights.

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!!

Adelaide, Driving and Bushfires

Friday Adelaide:

They grow them BIG in Scotland.
They grow them BIG in Scotland.

The run down to Adelaide was quiet and uneventful. The temperature was  38c and it was hard to get out of the air – conditioned car at times  :o) I managed to get all the things I wanted done and was able to get repairs to my Filofax. It’s close to 25 years old and with TLC it should be still going in another 25 years.

Rundle Mall was  most entertaining, despite the heat. I always like the buskers in the Mall.  I had been asked to get a couple of things but in that I failed – out of stock. Of course it was crush room only – half the Mall is being dug up again so there were narrow walkways at either side of the construction areas.  The fellow in the photograph is quite real, I had to crane  my neck just to talk to him. Lots of people were taking photographs with their children standing next to him. Actually, If you really look at the hands, they don’t really match up with the size of the person, so, although I was not about to ask, the person was real enough, but I don’t think the height was. But regardless, he was walking well and it really was well done – however it’s done.

Tomorrow the temperature will be 42c and I will be driving in the hottest part of the day. By the time the meeting finishes, I do not stay for lunch, and I get on the road again, it will be well after 1pm. Of course that’s depending on several people  not talking for as long as they generally do.

Saturday -Adelaide

got bigger as I got closer.
got bigger as I got closer.

Head off to the conference this morning. It’s only 7:10 am and already there is a bit of heat in the air. As I said yesterday, I hope the “hot air” is kept to a minimum and I can get away at a reasonable time. All very good and I was on my way home by 12:40.  From Port Wakefield onward there were constant warnings about the fires off the Main Highway. I was concerned when I saw the smoke cloud from far off and knew that I was heading in that general direction.  Beyond the Tin Man there were police cars and emergency vehicles and several ambulances. We were safe, but that is the

Now out of control
Now out of control

nearest I have ever been to a bushfire. The emergency services on the car radio were informing people to be ready for evacuation and that the fire had breached the containment lines and was now out of control and the flames were now visible as it sweeps towards the National Highway.

Sunday – Home.

This is now the worst fire since Black Tuesday when the Mount Remarkable National Forest went up in flames and threatened the towns of Wilmington and Melrose  not to mention the fuel depot at Mambray Creek. Unfortunately Wilmington as well as Warnertown are both in the firing line.  The fire can now be seen from here  as it lights up the horizon on the other side of the Gulf.

Can it be that it was all so simple then?

Ah Australia - 22 million people, 10 Billion Flies
Ah Australia – 22 million people, 10 Billion Flies

Growing up in Scotland was different from Australia. Family and friends lived within walking distance and, since there were lots of people about, walking to and fro to different houses, was generally quite safe – even for a person on their own. Many people and families were out and about after midnight on New Year.  And that was the thing – you walked –  rugged up against the cold. Even when herself and I got married, our house was not all that far from her parents in one direction and my family in the other. When we first came to Australia it was like that here. This was very much a British Community and we all shared the same values and traditions – sort of.  The family all  lived within walking distance and we took turns each year of hosting Christmas and New Year. All this began to change with the depression of 1985/6.  The story takes too long to tell but suffice to say after 1986 everything changed. Most of my family and many of the friends we had made, all  left to find work in other places.  We no longer had family Christmas Dinner together but my remaining sister and I looked after  Mum until she died a few years ago.

I was thinking about that last night and chatting with my oldest son about tradition,  the concept of  “First Footing” and the fact that my father took it

Works for me!
Works for me!

very seriously. But it was not really a problem because the first person to set foot in your house in the New Year was generally a Neighbour, and so they all went first footing each other – then branched out to walks to family. And the Scots who came out here brought these traditions with them – all gone now,  along with the traditions of other communities – The Croatian Club- gone/ Club Italico (now the haunt of a few very old men) the German Club – gone / The Burns Society – gone / St. Andrew’s Association – gone / the Masonic Lodges – gone.  What has taken their place is open all night hotels and pubs, mostly haunted by teenagers who go there with the sole intention of “having fun” and for many of them, having fun is getting plastered ( like the classy lady Suzie81 wrote about some time ago) – although many of them are half tanked before they get there. True, we are not too bad here, but in Adelaide it’s a nightmare – alcohol fueled  violence most weekends in Rundle Street (Street – not Mall) and politicians and police seem to be unable to stop it. Of course having a bunch of Justice Jokers who think a serious punishment is a severe talking to and a three week jail sentence- suspended – doesn’t help.  People have been giving a suspended sentence for killing a person – drunk driving. The family of the victim are outraged – the public are outraged – the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) throws out his chicken chest and talks about a sentence that is ‘Manifestly Inadequate” promises an investigation – then quietly  forgets about it as soon as the furor dies down.  And that’s why we have continual alcohol-fulled violence – consequences for most things is minimal – look contrite, tell the Justice Joker how sorry you are and how you feel for the family of the victim, and Bob’s your uncle – home in time for dinner.

Isaiah 59:11
We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.

I am so tempted!!!
I am so tempted!!!

Some parts of Australia, mainly inland , have brought in the New Year with temperatures of 50c. We were 44.5c , which Is just a tad warm. I took the dogs out walking after the bite had gone out of the sun, and was silly enough to think that the wind would keep away the flies. As I said, silly decision, and I gave up after about ten minutes. One thing I have never adjusted to in Australia is the continual flies – hoards of the things that follow you around like a cloud. I hate it. I like Australia but I hate going outside and spending half my time batting flies away from my face. As I said before, the  personal fly-nets that fit over your hat are becoming quite popular. It still looks a bit silly, but then people with very painful sunburnt feet think the “English Thing” – wearing sox with sandal -, looks silly  :o)