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V from my workplace had invited me for a weekend at her place, which was very nice of her.  We had arranged 19-21st August while she was on long service leave at home.

It was a gloomy, rainy day – pouring at Mont Albert, when I caught the train.  Got to Southern Cross then waited for the 3.10 to Geelong.  It had been a while since I’d been on a V/Line train (last time to Bendigo last year).

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It looked a bit brighter towards the west. The suburb of Deer Park looked awful – houses so close together you could jump from roof to roof.

Further out I saw half-grown lambs.  I hadn’t seen lambs since last spring.  It’s odd not to have seen sheep for about nine months.  I was delighted to see a flock of galahs flying and also some shags around a pond.

We arrived at an ugly industrial area that sounded like Kurayo, but discovered it was actually spelled Corio.  We were basically at Geelong and it hadn’t even felt like an hour.  I had enjoyed the trip.

V met me at Geelong station just as it started to rain.  We headed to a fresh food place in Pakington Street and V bought some ingredients for the evening meal.  She was going to make pizza bases.  I spotted some rather nice pizzas and pointed them out to her out of interest, and she decided to buy them instead – good choice.  I’m all for time-saving.  The houses in West Geelong were wooden and reminded me very much of NZ.  V’s house was no exception and had lovely oak-panelling.  Lovely big kitchen, split level, an office each for her husband, C, and herself and a library with shelves built by C.  It was a wonderful room with a large selection of fiction and non-fiction.

After pizza V showed me some of her genealogical research.  She also had a mini office next to the kitchen (perhaps it used to be a walk in pantry) which was filled to the brim with folders, boxes, filing cabinet, etc of her research.  She had obviously been doing it seriously for years.  I was envious of the space and organisation.  She showed me large sheets of a family tree that an ancestor had drawn up.  He had collected family details in 1870 which made for such a treasure trove.  One branch of her family alone filled most of those boxes and folders.

Saturday dawned sunny but windy.  After breakfast, V visited the fresh food store again.  It was a good shop full of nice things I would love to try.  V’s mother dropped by and it was arranged that C would drop her off to the hospital to visit V’s father who had pancreatitis, and then drop us off at Eastern beach for a walk to Western beach.

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On the way we passed a fabulous old house, known locally as the ‘wedding cake house’.  Apparently it had been shipped over in bits from England.

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Google Street view

It was a cold wind and we were heading into it on our walk, but it was an interesting one with all the differently painted bollards.

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We had a cup of coffee at one of the cafés along the way – this one more of a fish and chip shop, but a nice view.  We chatted about work and her insane boss.  It was her boss that put the kybosh on me working longer there, only to be contrary.  Apparently she was dismissed from her last job (why do these people get employed?).  Anyway, having got that out of her system, we continued on, past the ‘carousel’ (which I just call a merry-go-round).

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The horses had been found in a state of disrepair (with an example to show), which they had restored and made into a fully-working carousel.  I was tempted to go on it.  There was also an old organ there which had, until recently, been in working order.

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Just lovely.

The sun appeared as we headed towards the end of our walk and C came to pick us up.  There was still a cold wind though.  After picking up V’s mother from the hospital we headed back for lunch – a roll with cheese, ham, etc.

After lunch we went into Geelong centre to visit the wool museum and library and heritage centre.  We spent quite a bit of time at the museum, which was hosting a scarf exhibition/contest with some of the scarves for sale.

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Apparently it’s an annual event.  Many of the scarves were lovely and some, of course, quite weird.  We didn’t think much of the judges’ decisions as to at least three of them.  One looked like doilies sewn together, made of plastic, another was made up of cut up coloured plastic straws and another was just skeins of wool in a loop, tied together in about four places (no real skill involved there at all).

The museum itself was well done, even though I come from the land where back in the day there were about 60 million sheep.

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Carpet making

There were reproductions of shearing and other sheds and workman’s cottage, and the three of us (V’s mum included) pointed out old things we had had in our houses growing up, such as aluminium teapots, old tins and enamelware, etc.  On display were three uniforms from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and we thought the designer should’ve been sacked.  At the end of the tour through the museum they had a reproduction of typical suburban house of the 50s and it immediately reminded me of my grandmother’s house in Westmead, NSW.

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The hallway, apart from the carpet, was pretty much exactly as my grandmother’s had been, with the same layout.

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There was little time left to explore the new library and heritage centre but we headed over there anyway.  The library reminded me of the public library at Palmerston North – a bit of an industrial feel on about three levels with a mezzanine.  I was pleased to see Australian literature was separate from the rest of the fiction.  My local library lumps them all in together, which is frustrating if you’re wanting to read Australian fiction.  Nice views from the higher levels.

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The heritage centre was closed, unfortunately, but V took me up to look through the glass door to get my opinion on the colour scheme.  It was horrendous.  The walls were a luminous hot pink, not at all restful for study.  V said she was going to let them know how awful it was.  Perhaps if enough people complained…

Back home and V’s mother headed off before dark as she lived in Clifton Springs, quite some distance away.  V made a lovely chicken and vege meal taken from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes.  I missed seeing the rhythmic gymnastics on TV (Olympics) as C thought it was rubbish.  Naturally, he was more into the AFL games.  We did, however, see an interesting documentary on Versailles.

Unfortunately, my mobile phone battery was getting low and I had forgotten to bring a charger (idiot).  Daughter, C, sent me photos of Jasmine on her lap (she was staying over at my place).

Sunday dawned and the plan today was to head along the Bellarine peninsula.  V took me first to the botanic gardens which had been set up very nicely.  In all I was impressed with what the council had done around the place (even though they’d been sacked) – better than Palmerston North’s council in my humble opinion.

After V got her drive-through coffee, we headed to Portarlington (for some reason written as one word instead of Port Arlington).  The wind was still cold but we had a pleasant walk along the main street and popped into a couple of interesting shops.

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I saw a beautiful little bird with yellow wings, but didn’t have my camera.  (Always the case.  If I had had my camera it would’ve flown off.  Birds only hang around long enough for a shot when I don’t have a camera!)  I didn’t attempt to take a photo with my phone – it would’ve been too small to see.  I think it was a New Holland honeyeater, judging by photos and the brief glimpse I had.

On the way to Queenscliff (which I knew of from Phryne Fisher stories) V stopped at a place where ex-convict, William Buckley, was said to have met up with Europeans after spending 30-odd years with local aborigines – a fascinating story.  Apparently a book has been written about it and we both agreed it would be an interesting one to read.  From the coast we could see the skyline of Melbourne on the opposite side of the bay.

On arrival at Queenscliff, through a beautiful tree-lined avenue which reminded me of driving along the shores of Lake Taupo for some reason, V saw that there was a tour of the fort soon.  I didn’t know there was a fort at Queenscliff (and if mentioned in the stories, I had forgotten).  It was lunchtime and cafés were full so after a look in one shop we headed for the fort.  On arrival we were asked for identification and wrote down names and addresses.  It was then I saw some cadets coming out – I hadn’t realised it was a working fort.

The tour was an hour-and-a-half long and included the haunted keep.

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Apparently the windows in the lower section were often found open even though people kept closing them.  Some windows were slightly ajar and the guide asked us to close them.  There were once some archives kept there but a man who worked on them was plagued by ghostly noises, etc, and had everything moved out.  I didn’t see any apparitions or feel anything, sadly.  The ghost was shy.

The tour went past some buildings that had been part of the original township of Queenscliff, but were now in the confines of the fort.

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The higher lighthouse (there is a lower white one to the south) is one of only three black lighthouses in the world, and the only one in the southern hemisphere.

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The tour continued along the coast in bitterly cold winds and the guide told us about German ships and Japanese submarines trying to get through the heads in wartime.  This I did not know.  I thought only that the Japanese had bombed Darwin and got into Sydney harbour.  I hadn’t realised that they, or the Germans, went as far south as the entrance to Port Philip Bay.  The navigable space between the heads is very narrow – amazing that large ships can get through.

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Old naval mine

There was lots more to see including tunnels, cannons, guns, and the museum was interesting, but my phone battery was in danger of giving up completely, so I turned it off.

Unfortunately by the end of the tour it had started raining.  We returned to the full café and had coffee and cake.  I would have loved to have walked by some of the impressive buildings there but it will have to wait for a nicer day another time.  Instead, we had a quick look in a couple of the vintage shops.  I wouldn’t call them antique – I don’t think anything was older than the 1940s-50s.

V continued on through Ocean Grove where relatives still had one of the original old holiday homes (what I would call a bach), surrounded by large new mansions.  Barwon Heads was nicer, but it was getting too late for another stop or walk (the rain had stopped after we left Queenscliff).  On the way back V drove round a winery/restaurant where she had married C just last year or the year before (I can’t recall).  She had shown me a wedding invitation which was in the form of a penguin book – it was fantastic.

A fabulous day, marred only by heavy rain in Queenscliff.  The evening meal was a lovely one of Thai beef, this time a recipe from River Cottage, with wine, naturally.  There was a fascinating movie about Genghis Khan on TV (“Mongol”) that held us enthralled (in Mongol with Mongol actors, unlike some movies that use Japanese actors).

Naturally, a beautiful sunny day greeted me the next morning.  I had a leisurely breakfast and V dropped me off to catch the 10.46 train back to Melbourne.  A pleasant journey back, this time on the other side of the train.

I took a couple of photos despite protests from the phone (warning, warning, beep, beep, battery low).  The You Yangs, although not very high, had dominated views from everywhere.

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I love the cloudscapes.

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There was quite a wait at Southern Cross before I realised I needed to change at Flinders (and the trains were doing the loop not heading my way).  Got home in time to have lunch and see Jasmine had been sleeping.  She enjoyed purring on my lap that evening.

 

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Beautiful – I always perk up when it’s warm and sunny.  But the day has gone so quickly.

The first half of the day was spent doing stuff in silence, then I realised how silent it was and put music on.  Currently listening to some funky didgeridoo, after just having read Bill Bryson’s “Down Under” for the second time.

I went through an old tin trunk and sorted contents – mostly memorabilia from a trip to Europe yonks ago, and my grandmother’s paintings.  Emptied out the trunk and discovered it had a bit of rust in the bottom and two small holes.  Bugger.  Decided to sell it.  I sold the other two trunks that came over from England in ’61.  Both damaged by damp, thanks to a leaky garage roof, etc.  Even now the neighbour’s high driveway (created from multiple gravel drops) means the floor gets damp in places.  Thanks, neighbours.  Also put some shit on TradeMe – old heater (wrong time of year but never mind), set of drawers (surplus to requirements) and the record/tape converter now that  I’ve done all my conversions to MP3.

There was an open bag of naphthalene in the trunk and I accidentally spilled some and swept it up.  I had stupidly thought that stuff was relatively harmless (I mean my parents used it everywhere, right) but after a while I felt like I’d been dreaming.  I had no idea how much time had passed but I googled it and discovered my confusion was probably from sweeping up the spill.  Great.  Let the fresh air through everywhere and isolated the stupid bag of crystals, also locating another I had in the cupboard and getting rid of them.  No wonder my parents died so early with all that lethal shit in the house (not to mention the borer bombs and garden sprays).

Feeling way better now after fresh air but man, that was weird for a while.  Still, a bit headachey.  I did feel a sick day coming on but feeling ok, sadly.  I’ve had a stressful few days.

I might have some news soon.  I may be moving on (and not a moment too soon).  Watch this space.

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The weekend just gone was Queen’s Birthday weekend, but I took today off as well.

Saturday I met A in town to listen to some jazz groups – the weekend was also the local jazz music festival.  However, before meeting her I went to Bunnings to buy an anti-fatigue mat for work (because of the standing desk on a concrete floor).  In order to provide us with a free one we’re supposed to have a workplace assessment which is just ridiculous and timewasting.  Anyone will tell you if you’re standing on a concrete floor at work, you need some sort of mat.  I didn’t even like the one we tested – made no obvious difference – so I decided to buy the Bunnings one which was half the price (although I’m paying for it) and felt better underfoot.  I can’t be arsed waiting around for an unnecessary “workplace assessment” and getting an overpriced thin mat as a result.  Anyway, that purchased, I did a bit of top-up grocery shopping then went to the annual/bi-annual? Red Cross book sale.  I don’t want to accumulate more books but last year I picked up a couple of handy books on Australia, as well as a DVD on Australian towns, so I just thought I’d go along on the offchance I’d find Australian or British county histories.  I never find British county histories, but there’s always hope.  As it happens there wasn’t much on offer in the non-fiction part, so I bought five fiction books to read over lunchtimes at work.

I then walked to the first venue to listen to a jazz trio, meeting A.  The trio didn’t actually turn up until after the stated time.  We needn’t have been there early either as there weren’t that many people.  We had a cup of tea and a muffin, met D and T who arrived later, then headed over to another venue for a larger band, who played more upbeat stuff.  A’s partner, S arrived, as did T and D and we sat at the table sharing salty fries and having a beer/wine, listening to the music and people-watching.  We headed to one more venue to listen to another group, this one with a singer, and had one more beer/wine before heading our separate ways.  I didn’t join A and S for dinner, but grabbed a pizza and drove home to feed Jasmine.  Very pleasant to sit and listen to good music.  They should do it more often with live bands on an afternoon.

Sunday I did a bit of decluttering of kitchen cupboards (or was that Saturday morning?) and filled a box to give to charity.  One day seems much like the rest so I’m not sure what I did when.  I did mow the lawn finally and put on more washing.

Monday I put on a lamb roast for myself in the slow cooker.  I need to use up some of the lamb my bro has given me.  It takes longer to get through with it just being me.  I took photos of items I wanted to sell (hopefully) and went through some CDs on the desk.  I threw away several, copying some onto the computer.  I filled a couple of bags with clothes and shoes to add to the box for charity.  (I listed the items on TradeMe this morning.)  Sadly, I finished Series 2 of Ripper Street (which ended on a bit of cliffhanger, dammit).  I continued watching “Anno 1790” online.

This morning I went through my drawers properly to sort them out and added a couple more items to the clothes bag.  After lunch I headed into town to drop the donations off.  (I have to choose a week day when I’m not working in order to do so as they’re only open when I am working.)  Unfortunately, I came across more than one idiot driver (all old people and women?) – the perils of driving on a week day during work time.  I decided to drive past a suburban hairdresser’s that I’d found positive reviews for.  The hairdresser I’d previously used, that I really liked and trusted, had left a while ago and my hair needed cutting.  This place was able to do it that afternoon so I crossed my fingers that it would be ok.  I was surprised at how much they charged for a dry cut (no washing, no hair products, no glass of wine, no massage chair) which lasted half an hour.  Once I got home and looked I thought the layering was too obvious.  I won’t be going back there.  Positive reviews were probably from old ladies with short hair.

Back to work tomorrow but at least it’s now only a three-day week.

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C had one more day off and it was the start of H’s “weekend” so we arranged to go on a train to Bendigo.  I had wanted to go, on a previous trip to Melbourne, when I saw the train at a Southern Cross platform for Bendigo.  Perhaps it was the postcards sent by my aunt years ago.  She would send me details of her trips around the country including Ballarat (visited last time) and Bendigo.

It was a sunny day – yay!  C and I got the train to Flinders Street and changed for the one stop to Southern Cross.  Unfortunately, they changed platforms on us so it took longer to get to the connecting train and we were running late.  Once at Southern Cross, we hurriedly topped up the Myki cards and ran for the platform where H was waiting.  Phew!  For decades I’ve had recurring dreams about missing trains and planes so it’s always a huge relief when I catch one on time.

It was about a two hour train journey, but I like train journeys and it was nice to see the outer suburbs and countryside.  Castlemaine (or “Casselmaine” as it was pronounced) looked pretty.

On arrival, a useful sign directed us to the town centre and we followed others walking in the same direction.  We wandered around until we found some grand old buildings.

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Town hall

Post Office building

I love old architecture.  Such a change from the bland modern rectangles of concrete and glass.  We have little of it in NZ (and even less since the Christchurch earthquake).

By this time we were hungry so sought out a cafe.  C consulted her trusty smartphone again and directed us to a cafe called  “Old Green Bean”.  (I can now see the benefits of a smartphone, particularly in unfamiliar surroundings.  At home I have no use at all for one.)  It was a quirky place with crocheted blankets on mismatched chairs.  It was rather stuffy and noisy inside so we sat outside in the sunshine after ordering.  It was more pleasant, although there was the noise of tyre-changing machinery at Beaurepaires opposite.

H is also into beer so she and I bought local brews (from Bendigo and Beechworth), while C had a cider.

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I ordered a “Middle-eastern roti” (fusion food?).

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It looked nice but lacked some spice or other flavouring.  Something different anyway.  Whatever H ordered (I can’t recall) looked huge and a woman at the neighbouring table commented on it.  It was very pleasant in the sunshine.  In fact we felt like we would get sunburnt.

We wandered some more after lunch (including through the original Myer, which felt like the old Collinson and Cunningham in PN in layout and vintage) and found our way to the Info/visitors’ centre housed in the old  Post Office building (opened in 1887).  We grabbed a couple of pamphlets about buildings, etc.  Apparently there wasn’t a general museum, only a Chinese one (which charged for entry) and a Soldiers’ Memorial (which we weren’t in the mood for after all the ANZAC coverage).  We started walking in the direction of the Golden Dragon museum anyway, past a conservatory full of dahlias and alongside a park.  We crossed a bridge over a creek and suddenly saw hundreds of bats hanging from trees above and flying around.

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What a racket!  The locals must be used to it.  Few others took any notice of them.  As we weren’t prepared to pay for the Chinese museum and garden, we headed back (past a giant red and yellow lotus.  It looked like a McDonald’s playground.).  Toilet stop, then a wander up View Street past some more lovely old buildings.  Bendigo has trams too.

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If the tram doesn’t go, get a tractor. to pull it.

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We laughed.

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Typical Aussie hotel, complete with gum tree.

 

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Want to catch a bus?  Let’s go to Bendigo.

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On the way to the old gaol (now a theatre), we came across my beloved crows.  (I don’t know why, but I love rooks, crows, ravens, and magpies.)

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Old Bendigo gaol, now Ulumbarra theatre)

We did the circuit and ended up back near the Chinese museum.

Coming from the other direction, with the sun behind me, I could get a better photo of the bats.

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Just across the road was a charming old bookshop,

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so we had a look in there.  Large number of books, with a mezzanine floor above and well laid out.  H was interested in travel books, that weren’t too old.  She found a book of German sayings and bought that.  (She asked me to take her German lesson exercise books over for her, as she wants to re-learn in preparation for her trip to Europe.)  I didn’t buy anything.  I’m trying to get rid of excess books, not accumulate more.

Normally C and I would, by now, get a coffee or something at a cafe, but H wanted to go into the Shamrock Hotel for another beer.  I never say no to a local brew.  I had a “Fat Yak”.  Not sure what H had.  C had another cider, I think.  We found a table by the window, which was perfect for people-watching.

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We wandered up to look at the fountain on the corner of a busy road, before heading back to the station.

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On the way we spotted a Kathmandu sale and went in.  H found a warm jacket in her size for a good price and bought it.  There were also some nice shoes at a good price, but I was not in the mood for shopping and didn’t have warm socks with me to try any.  We also went into a Chemist Discount store, where I bought some cheap Oral-B toothbrushes (for a fraction of the price in NZ) and a couple of moisturisers.  The Sukin brand was about half the price in NZ.  We really are ripped off.

Unfortunately, we miscalculated the timing and only just missed a train back to Melbourne.  Across the road was a shopping mall so we went into the supermarket and wandered round.  We then looked in the bag shop.  C wanted a new suitcase and H wanted a backpack which would also accommodate her laptop.  Finding nothing suitable, we returned to the station and waited 20 minutes or so.

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It was getting dark on the way so I didn’t see much countryside heading back.  I did spot a kangaroo near Kangaroo Flats, though.

On arrival at Melbourne we caught a tram to Richmond and made our way to Burmese House, a restaurant serving (obviously) Burmese food.  W was meeting us there.  Very nice food and lovely owners – a gentle middle-aged man and his wife.

W had brought the car but we dropped H off at the nearest train station to catch a train back to Fairfield.  I wondered why we didn’t just drop her home but it would’ve taken an extra half hour and I’m guessing W was tired.  You forget how long the distances are in Australia, when used to small distances in NZ.

Anyway, a longwinded entry to say “Fabulous day!”.

 

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Wonderfully short week at work.  Next week will be a full five-day week – might need dark chocolate in the afternoons.

Lucky that Facebook reminded me this morning that it was H’s birthday today.  I knew yesterday but this morning had forgotten.  Uploaded photos and posted message and pic on her page.  Would have liked to have sent her something, but I’ll see her soon.

Two weekends before I head to Melbourne for a too-short break.  Had to sort things out in my head.  I wrote down a schedule of when I had to be where when – i.e. dropping off Jasmine at the cattery, when check-in times were for the various airports, etc.  Couldn’t really call it an itinerary.  The flight back is without food, so will have to have a huge breakfast. Made a list for groceries.  Then started a list of what to take.  Changeable weather in Melbourne so hard to plan.

Finally ordered some duty free alcohol online, using the work discount.  Got that done after thinking about it all week.  H wanted spiced rum and I got some nice NZ wine for C.

While online I paid for just three months of car registration due early May.  Fees are reducing in July so they suggested paying for a short time so you don’t waste money – nice of them.  Also paid electricity bill.

Next on the list, checking whether H’s duvet cover she wants would fit in my small suitcase.  Went to try it out and discovered some damage from the last trip.  I hadn’t noticed when unpacking in February.  I sewed what I could of the stitching that had come undone, but it’s now not strong enough for rough handling.  It’s had its last journey in the luggage hold – will only be good for carry-on now.  This meant a journey into town to buy a new suitcase.  I know I bought one recently but it’s a big one – unnecessary for a week.  I needed a medium-sized one.  I hadn’t planned on going to town today but now there was a reason other than groceries, I wanted to get it done now.

Dutifully headed into town, parked the car and went to the Plaza.  I had a brief look in K-Mart for hoodies while I was there but saw nothing.  Will have to go to Warehouse.  Went to Strandbags and they conveniently had a sale on.  Some of the luggage is still overpriced (over $200), but I found a nice purple one for $89, down from $200.  Job done, I came home again, via supermarket and fruit/vege place.  I had forgotten the list, typically.  I had also forgotten to go to Warehouse to look for hoodies.

I suppose I should do some weeding while it’s not raining, but I really can’t be bothered. AL had invited me up to her son’s 21st next weekend, but it’s my last weekend before Melbourne and I don’t want to use it driving up to Tauranga and back.

Finished “The History of Scotland”  It was ok, I suppose.  Tried watching “Hunger Games” on TV last night but thought it was rubbish.  I don’t understand why people rave about it.  I’ve never been interested in reading the books.

I’m procrastinating again.  Time to do stuff around the house.

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Yesterday, as I was cleaning the garage, a friend from down the valley turned up and we had a nice chat and cup of tea.  She gave me a bottle of wine.  Every year we’ve exchanged bottles of wine before Xmas but I didn’t see her and have since used all the wine I had.  Oops.  Promised her a bottle next time I saw her.  Oh dear.  I didn’t think I was going to see her for a while and hoed into the last bottle of wine on New Year’s eve.  There’s still 2/3 of a bottle left which I’ve vowed not to touch this month.

I’m glad I have this exercise goal – keeps my mind off being alone and lonely.  Last night I did 20 minutes of belly dancing.  It felt good to get back into it.  It was a warm evening, so I did some of one dance outside on the deck under the bright moon and stars.  Magical.  I should do that more often when the weather permits (which won’t be often, let’s be realistic).

This morning I did some more aerobic activity via the Xbox360 “game”.  I’ll do another walk this afternoon and continue with the garage cleaning.  I’ve logged back into MyFitnessPal to keep track of my progress.  I didn’t find it very useful last time.  I found it annoying trying to deconstruct what I ate.  I’ll keep it more general I think and concentrate on the exercise part of it.  Last time I exercised just enough not to gain anything but didn’t lose anything.  Making much more of an effort this time.

Today’s the anniversary of my mother’s death.  She died in Croydon, Sydney, 36 years ago, of bowel cancer, while we were visiting relatives.  It was her goodbye trip, I think.  I was just a teenager.  She was a strong-willed, outgoing woman, well-liked by everyone.  She suffered no fools,  however.  It was a family trait.  My great aunt was the same, and judging from diaries and stories, my grandmother was the same also.  Cynicism is a common element from her side of the family.

On an entirely different note, Goodreads has an annual “Your year in books“.  Apparently, I read 39 books in all (I probably didn’t count some unfinished ones or ones I just skimmed).  I sometimes struggle to find something that interests me, limiting myself to an academic library.  I need to expand my literary horizons and visit the public library more often.

Onwards!

 

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Well, I suppose I ought to update my blog.  It’s the final day of 2014 and I’m back at work in too few days.  The last week-and-a-half have gone so quickly.

It took me a bit of thought to remember what I did every day since we got back from our trip north.  I struggled to remember on about three of those days when I was home just doing the usual: weeding, mowing the lawn, washing, etc.  One day is much like the rest.

We’ve been lucky with the weather since the rain of mid-December.  The original forecast of a wet Christmas was, thankfully, wrong.  We’ve had hot, sunny days.

H, L, and I returned from Tauranga on the Thursday of whatever date it was.  H spent a couple of nights at L’s place.  C and W had continued north, exploring the Coromandel and Waitomo.  They returned on the following Monday.

I did some grocery shopping for food and drinks for Christmas, and also joined W on his shopping trip to town to buy something for C.  He drives a hard bargain, asking in two shops if they could give him a cheaper price or include something for free.  He got something for free with his final purchase.  Incredible.  I have to say that there didn’t appear to be enough staff on at both shops.  We had to wait a while to attract the attention of someone.  You expect much more staff at this time of year, just before Christmas, for those last-minute shoppers.

Anyway, that over, we could relax.  We wandered up to Mt Lees Reserve for a bush walk on a hot afternoon.  Always pleasant to be under the trees.

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H used my car to spend a night with L and Xmas morning with his family.  C, W and I headed over to the Wairarapa in their car on Christmas eve.  Bro was still working but arrived soon after we did.  We had a lovely meal of salmon on a bed of spinach with some delicious sauce.  The obligatory game of Settlers of Catan was played in the evening.

On Xmas morning we went for a walk through the neighbouring fields.

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We entered one paddock that had three dead sheep in it.  Three or four others were in the same paddock and didn’t appear to have access to water.  The majority of sheep were in the neighbouring paddock.  We did a rescue mission and herded the waterless sheep through the gate to join their mates, who had water.  They must have got through a fence to get the longer grass, or something.  It’s such a shame that farmers don’t give their animals shelter.  Just one tree would offer shade for several.  The sheep were crowded round the water tank under a sweltering sun.

H and L arrived in my car in the afternoon.  We sat outside with drinks and nibbles, played boules and threw a frisbee around.  It was very pleasant in the late afternoon sun.

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We’d had ham at lunchtime, and had turkey for the evening meal.  A couple more games of Settlers of Catan.  I was on a losing streak, while everyone else won at least one game.

Boxing Day was similar to Xmas day – eating, drinking, and a walk.  We went over to the neighbouring farm to feed ducklings in a cage.  We felt the cage was inadequate – just a frame with chicken wire over them.  No shelter or much room for the mother and her 10 or so ducklings.  There were two dead ones in the cage, one in the water and another as if strangled trying to get out (halfway under the frame).  It was very sad.  I do wish people would give their animals better conditions.

In the evening the “kids” played Settlers of Catan while us oldies watched “The Killing III”.  More drinking, games and in the evening we brought out an old packet of sparklers and danced around the garden acting like lunatics in the dark, “wheeeee”s and “la la la la la”s, skipping madly with sparklers in hand.  Yes, I think we were all a bit tipsy.

On the following morning, us olds checked on the ducklings and were shocked to see four dead and the rest missing.  Obviously a stoat or something had got into the inadequate cage.  It was shocking.  There were holes in the wire and ducklings under the frame with heads bitten off.  It was a gruesome start to the day and we were stunned into silence.  W commented on the look on our faces as we returned “as if someone had died”, he said.

In the afternoon, after a wonderful barbecue of steak and salad, C and W drove off to Wellington and H, L and I headed back home.

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Once back at home, H borrowed my car again and took L back to his place and stayed the night.  I was on my own again.

The following day I did loads and loads of washing and mowed the lawn.  I finally finished the gigantic tome that was Diana Gabaldon’s  “Breath of snow and ashes”.  All the action was in the final little section of the whole book.  I’d waded through a whole lot of nothing happening just to get to it.  I won’t bother with any further books in the series.

H returned unexpectedly that night.  She had planned on arriving the following morning but realised she still  had a lot of stuff to sort through in her room.  She brought back takeaways, then we went for a walk at the domain.

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Swan family in the wetlands

 

I was lucky enough to capture a bellbird with my point-and-shoot.

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And so to the last day of H being home.   She finished sorting through her stuff, leaving some to give away and some to recycle.  We headed off to Wellington, where she’d join C and W for the final day before flying out.

It was another lovely day.  We all walked through the Botanic gardens and had a beer at the Sprig & Fern pub in Thorndon on the way back.  We visited the nearby supermarket briefly, returned to the apartment and said our goodbyes.

Back to an empty house.  I’ll have to get used to the emptiness all over again.

Yesterday they were visiting cousins in Wellington.  I went into town for grocery shopping and dropping off bags to charity bins.  I got the DVD set of “The Killing III” from the library so I could continue to watch it.  I was just watching an episode when bro turned up unexpectedly.  He said he wanted to get out of the house and came over for a trip.  He’d visited a friend and some old haunts in town, including our first family home (now a community centre) and primary school.  It was good to see him.  We shared a beer and chat before he headed off back.

Girls flew out this morning and are about to land in Melbourne.  I don’t know when I’ll see them again.

Tonight will be a non-event.  I was invited to a New Year’s Eve party in Tauranga but I wasn’t about to drive up their again – six hours to reach their house.  Nope.  An early night, and contemplation on the year ahead.

 

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