Australia – Frying tonight!!

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

Our little corner of the Universe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

Salt Lakes and Camels

The Foreshore Cafe and the Umbrella
The Foreshore Cafe and the Umbrella

After the week out and about with Benji it rained most of the day Sunday and almost all day Monday. Today (Tuesday) wasn’t too bad and we were able to get out to the beach this afternoon. I love  this since it’s a school day and the  beach is  empty – not a soul – well a few teenagers in cars but no one walking along the beach and I discovered that the Benji doesn’t like the sand – He Loves It ! He loves running on it and he loves exploring the seaweed. Once we got away to the very far end of the area where there are never any people, because it’s too far away from children play areas, I took him off lead (leash) and let him romp around on his own for a little while. Playtime over we made our way back to the main area again and went to the

Not the best because he was pulling
Not the best because he was pulling

Foreshore Cafe for  some Ice -Cream.  After the cafe we drove to the Wetlands and had a short wander mainly to get to the cold water fountains – the Boy had a drink and I had a drink from the peeps fountain. By then I felt that it was  starting to get a bit warm so we cut over the bridge and back to the car and home. I did notice on the bridge that some people have started this French thing about  locking padlocks on the  bridge  sides. I wonder how long that will be allowed before the Council get out the Bolt Cutters. I also took some photographs of the Black Swans and what I thought was a baby swan. However, when I looked at the photograph later you can clearly see the markings that it is a small black duck who just happened to be close to the black swans.

Little black duck
Little black duck

The next week is not going to be a great week and I don’t think the Boy and I will be doing a lot of wandering and I think the picnic is out for the moment:

Wednesday  43   / Thursday  44  / Friday / 43 / Saturday 41 / Sunday 39 (Subject to change)- that being so I don’t think we will be out much. In the morning I will bring all the pot plants under the  extended carport and at least give them some shade and make sure that have water as soon as we get back from our 5:40am walk.

I did just that, gave the plants some water and carried them  to a spot under the  pergola. At least I have tried to keep them from  being burned by direct sunlight. Friday and I have to drive to Adelaide. Tomorrow (Thursday) I will check oil and water and make sure I have extra water with me for the car – and for me. At the moment the Benji is unhappy because we had to go out and we left him at home. I had to go to the optician for my new glasses and  to leave Benji in the car in this heat (42c) would have been a death sentence – but of course, he doesn’t understand that – he just knows that I am going out without him.

Well, Hi there Stranger!!
Well, Hi there Stranger!!

The drive to Adelaide was interesting in that I took a couple of photographs of some unlikely visitors to this part of the world. Yes, they are common  the further north  you go but not so much in this corner of the planet. It was interesting that so many people – me included – pulled up and got out of the car to take photographs. There was quite a herd of them scattered across the paddock. But that wasn’t the only interesting things this weekend. The highway passes through the small town of Lochiel then continues on to Port Wakefield. The industry of Lochiel is the salt lake. Normally these are covered in water but this time, perhaps because of the extreme heat, as I passed through there were people walking out on what was lake but now was dry land. The remainder of the lake was a bright pink – which does not show up too well. Some of the

Bumbunga Salt Lake
Bumbunga Salt Lake

photographs are not so good because a cool change was starting  to push through and the wind was fairly high. I tried to steady myself against a tree so some of them were not too bad. The lake, incidentally,is called Bumbunga and was part of the Micronation  “Province of Bumbunga” – which is a long story of recent South Australian History.

When the meetings are over I am always happy to get back in the car and head from home. After this meeting I couldn’t wait to get back in the car and get the A/C on full – the A/C in the church wasn’t working and it was pretty hot and sticky. By the time I reached Lochiel and Lake Bumbunga, the cold change was sweeping in and there was a fair wind.  The temperature crashed from 40 – 21 and it will stay down for most of this week.

Fires, Dogs and Thank you.

winmalee
Winmalee after the fire had passed

The situation in NSW is not getting any better. This morning a further 70 firefighters left South Australia to head to the  crisis center. There are additional fire units coming from as far away as Western Australia. We are fire free but we are back to Severe Wind Warnings again and at the moment it is blowing pretty bad – just keeping an eye on that other gum tree.

The military are believed to have been responsible for starting of  one of the larger fires through “live-fire” exercises. They are being very cagey at the moment. However – as I have said we are not really in a fire area but I also said that the military have taken over several stations (ranches)  – not too far from here  our emergency services were called out to assist in fighting a bush fire in one of the “training” areas. Anyway, that was put out.

Since starting this the fire situation has improved and the firefighters are starting to get things under control, but it is a concern that we have this kind of crisis and the fire season has not really begun. There is a very strong indication that the military were responsible for the  fires at Lithgow.

The dogs have been good. The Man sleeps a lot but  he seems to make up for it in bouts of high activity. He’s eating better since I gave up the chicken and rice and 20130723_114204started him on “puppy food” on the understanding that this should help to bring his weight back up again. I gave up on the chicken and rice because he just wouldn’t eat it – Strange dog!!  He uses a lot of energy during the high activity periods, then he sleeps. I also feed him treats and because I have two dogs and not one, Chienne also has to have a treat – can’t give to one and not the other. They have walks twice a day – morning and evening.

I am  humbled by the fact that a number of people thought of us during the height of the fires in NSW. We are  one thousand miles away from the fire front ( about 1700 kilometres) but as a friend said, all the rest of the world hears is that Australia is burning. Thank you for your concern – Herself, the Dogs and Me are fairly safe.

History, Fires and Blame Game

battlelinesThere is always a silver lining in everything – if you know where to look for it. I looked for it in “Revolution” no, not me – the TV Programme. Incapacitation has allowed me to start to catch up on series 1 of the programme, so I can look at Series 2 knowing what is happening.  I remember years ago when the boys and I went to see “Patriot” and there were young people sitting in front of us who thought it was all stupid – “I mean, come on, lines of soldiers walking towards each other and standing fifty feet away and letting other soldiers fire guns at you – that’s just stupid, they never did that”.   This should have surprised me, but it didn’t. Australian Students know very little of history, next to nothing about international history not all much more about Australian History.  History is a dirty word that many schools have done their best to expunge.

There is no one like Mother Nature for putting things into perspective. Here am I in the Arid Lands, complaining and being grumpy about a few miserable trees that have fallen, made a mess  that I have to clean up, whilst our neighbours in New South Wales are fighting a desperate battle to save lives and property. Only one killed, thankfully, but the homes lost will number in the hundreds. Already over 80 properties have been lost to the fires. One Hundred firefighters from the MFS fire threat(Metropolitan Fire Service) and the CFS (Country Fire Service) have set out  from South Australia to take over part of the work from the exhausted NSW Fire Service. Units and people are also setting out from Victoria. Being in a non-fire area it is difficulty to imagine the terror of a bushfire. Of course we could have a grass fire but it’s not the sam thing and if the bush beyond us caught fire then the levy bank that was created for the once in a generation flood, would help to contain any fire that came even remotely close.

I did get The Man to the Vet and  we adopted him 11 years ago but the Vet. thinks he is closer to 13 – perhaps older. Difficult to tell because of his background. However, he has lost weight – from 3.5kilo to 2.6 kilo. and there seems to be no reason for that.  Yes he  wobbly on his rear legs and his joints are pretty slack. There is some pain there but not a lot and  apart from the weight loss, he’s in reasonable

A Man and His Chair
A Man and His Chair

shape for his age. When we closed the doors and put him on the floor he ran around without any signs of distress.  However, I have to give him 10 ml of Carprofen per day and Pernaease Powder also daily. I have been out this morning and he has been running around with no discomfort,  I will, however, take the “Dog Sling” out with me when we go for walks at night – which we have not been for a few days now, but I should be able to get out with them tonight.

Addition: So far reports are that 194 houses have been destroyed,  83 properties destroyed with a further 37 damaged – and it’s still goes on. And although they only took up the reigns of government last week, the Greens have blamed the government for this disaster.  ” Don’t know how or what, or why, but let’s just blame the government anyway”.

Bigger is not always better

2013-01-01 07.47.00The State of South Australia covers some 983,482 sq.klm. It’s bigger than Texas but with a total population only marginally greater than  Phoenix,  I suppose we do have a lot of environment. To the west of me – the town of Cowell some 115 klms away   -the photograph is in the general direction of Cowell and there is nothing in between except the general assortment of Australian wildlife. Like many places in the USA  South Australia  punishes people who do not take the environment seriously – they die in the harsh, hot conditions of outback SA. There was three travellers died only a few weeks ago when the car they were driving in broke down and they decided that it was only twenty miles to the nearest settlement, so they could walk there for help in a 45c temperature. They  became lost and didn’t make it and their bodies were recovered only after a massive police  and ranger search. If you treat it with disrespect and are unprepared for the worst that could happen,  the far north of South Australia can be very unforgiving.  Even driving between here and Adelaide, I carry 2 x   3 litre water containers in the boot (trunk) and I always have drinking water with me in the car. When I take the dogs out during the summer months – in the morning before the heat and in the evening when it’s little cooler,,  I generally have a small backpack with a bottle of water and a bowl.

The South Australian Dog Rescue ended the year fairly well and  400 dogs have been saved from the pound and have gone to new furever homes. I have been involved in ten of those, which I have taken from here the 400 klms to the State Capital and their new owners. I hope to be heading that way sometime next week, once this heatwave breaks. At the moment it is 35c but this is expected to rise and to mid 40+c over the next few days and into the start of next week with a cool change coming mid-week.

In the garden it has generally been a tidy up and keep up the watering to what plants have survived the heat of the other week. I have not been able to replace them because it is New Year and most places are closed until today, so I will probably get over to the Garden shop  during the course of the day and have a look at what I think might survive. As I said before I have doubts about labels that say “Full Sun”

“Aye, aye the year’s awaking, the fire’s among the ling”

Winter is slowly loosing its grip and we are starting to have a few warm days in the north of the state. I did, however, spend a few days in the city for a funeral. The funeral was of a dear friend of ours  who helped our church look to the future when everything around us looked pretty bleak and people in Adelaide gave us three months (if we were lucky) before we would have to close the doors. That was twelve years ago and here we are, through God.s grace, still flourishing. Adelaide is a strange place and unlike the other major states, South Australia is a one city state – 77%  (1.3 Million) of the population of 1.5 million, live in and around the City of Adelaide, so Adelaide people were not really not too concerned about a small, relatively unimportant, country church. They still are not – something that was brought home to me at the funeral judging  by the remarks that were made.

Brian was one of the very few that were willing to travel the 400 klms from Adelaide to help us out. The current hierarchy are still not interested in travelling north and believe that having to come up here  once a year for a meeting is an imposition that they can do without. We have people who, regrettably,  tell you what hey think you want to hear which may not necessiraly be when you need to know. We will miss Brian and there are not many of the few left now and those of “The Old Guard” that are left are piling up the years. Brian was in his mid 80s.

With the warmer weather starting to come in I should be able to get back out and get some work done. The trial has been the back garden and the trees, which, because of the constant wind, has been a nightmare to keep tidy. I must also get the front finish off and the driveway water blasted clean. So, as the weather improves I have a lot of work ahead and  “she who must be obeyed” has decided that the inside of the house could do with a lick of paint.  I really don’t know how I ever found time to go to work.