Around the World in 186 Days – Day 2

We are going to have the same featured image for this blog each day. That way it’s easy to see if we are in the past or the present.

Backstory: When I met Stephen he had already booked a year of long service leave on part pay and planned a 12 month trip around the world. So, he had to decide whether to keep me and do the trip together, or split up after dating for a few months. Being Stephen he dithered a fair bit, but when the die was cast he suggested that I move in with him and shortened to trip to six months so that he afford to pay for both of us.

We went overseas after knowing each other for less than a year. It was pretty difficult on the relationship front as you can imagine, but it was a wonderful travelling adventure.

August 2nd, 1987 Sunday

This morning we got up early and had crumpets and yogurt. Our chore (this was back in the days when staying in a YHA hostel was fairly cheap and part of deal was helping out around the hostel) was to empty all the bins in the hostel – as a shared task it wasn’t too bad. We caught a bus to the city, then caught a train to the hills to a place called Fern Tree Gully National Park. The train journey took an hour. We had to ask a local person the way to the park and once there we sat down for a while as we had already done a lot of walking.

Then we walked along a steep but beautiful nature trail until our energy ran out. We returned to the city by 4.30 p.m., caught a tram to the hostel, had tea, then rested for a while. Then we had supper and I wrote to Matthew and Stephen wrote to his parents.

It takes a long time to get anywhere because there is always a great deal to work out before you can actually get anywhere. We became very tired today, but should get better as the days pass. Stephen keeps more in touch than me by reading much of the newspapers. I’ve looked at the Arts and Entertainment pages so far. It’s not possible to be bored as there are always little things to do even if you don’t have a house to take care of.

We are coming down to earth a little today – realising that we have to be careful not to try to do too much. And that all the walking we do will be very tiring. There is a large group of young people here tonight and it is particularly noisy.

I don’t want to edit the journal too much and intend to keep grammatical errors and clumsiness – after all, I wrote this by hand without being able to easily correct my mistakes at the time (except with a rubber).

Musical week

The past week has centred around Stephen singing in a concert with the WASO chorus. He had rehearsals each night, then concerts on Friday and Saturday night. He had comps for the Friday night concert as the choir was not needed for the second half. On Saturday night the choir were told they could sit in the choir stalls for the second half, and many did. On Friday night at the interval I bought myself a ticket for Saturday afternoon. The concert was a 90th anniversary of the WASO celebration of favourites, and was particularly lovely. I wanted to hear it all again.

After the concert we ran into a friend and her date, and had a drink and talk with them. On Saturday afternoon we also ran into friends after the concert and stayed talking with them for about an hour.

We catch buses to and from the concert hall these days, saves the hassle of finding parking (especially if you don’t like paying), and the bus services are reasonably frequent. It was cold in St George’s Tce last night waiting for a bus. We had some warm gear, but not really enough. The weather seems to be changing now, some cooler temperatures, with a heatwave forecast for later this week. At least it’s a bit more interesting.

When the sound was particularly rattly and grumbly on Friday afternoon I took my camera, stood on the garden bed, and took some video. It turned out to be a pile driver that was causing all the sound/vibrations and it reinforced the side of the huge hole on the Albany Highway side. Apparently they have given up doing small repairs in our house as they expect there could be more problems over the next couple of weeks.

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This is how close the hole is to our back fence – the temporary fence put in by the builder. It is difficult to not be concerned about how our little house will stand up to all of the vibrations from the building site. The hole is much deeper on the side next to Albany Highway.

We had a swim on Friday morning, with Stephen taking it easy, and me doing more laps than usual, with the idea that my body has probably adapted and can take more strain. I wasn’t particularly tired afterwards, but noticed during the swimming that I was getting pretty warm. I swim in the indoor heated pool, but don’t usually notice warmth.

Today we can relax until about 4.20 p.m. when Matthew arrives.

Around the World in 186 Days – Day 1

In 1987 – 1988 Stephen and I had our first overseas trip together. I kept a journal and Stephen took some photos. For many years we have meant to type it up. When I was sorting through Matt’s photos I found a few from our travels. We must have sent them to him and I put them in his photo album and wrote labels. I was also prompted by meantioning it at our Writers’ Group on Tuesday morning. I mentioned that the journal is in pencil and I was inferring that it was hard to read. When I looked at it, the pencil writing is quite legible in good lighting. I obviously wrote as neatly as I could.

The featured photo is of an incident that came when we were in England, but that isn’t where the journey started.

Saturday August 1, 1987 – Day 1

Melbourne

We arrived at about 5.00 p.m. and caught a Skybus to our Youth Hostel (or close). It is a modern set up and we have a small room with bathroom and laundry facilities on our floor, plus the kitchen and common room near reception. We are allowed late entry (on a code system) – all very civilized. Stephen has put in a call to his friend Lance and we are awaiting his return call. (We met up with Lance again on our 2011 tour of the Eastern States with our caravan.)

I enjoyed the flight – we got away in good time and had breakfast with Stephen’s parents, Grace and Len (was I really allowed to shorten his name?), sorted things out, then headed for the airport. Marie and Geoff and Glenn and Roslynn came to see us off. We kissed everyone goodbye, then headed off. It was a beautiful morning, cold, clear and crisp.

Chapman Street Hostel – comfortable atmosphere. We may stay a little longer, just depends. Stephen says we should buy our own supplies.

Lance rang and we have arranged to see him on Monday night.

We went for a walk towards the centre of the city. We bought some food for breakfast and had tea – Greek takeaway. We bought some tickets at the subway which will give us unlimited travel in the city for a week and caught the tram home.

Tea, muesli bar 10.00 p.m.

The room is noisy, but pleasant.

This noisy, dusty life

We have been having a lot of rumbling and things rattling in the kitchen as work is done on the foundations for the new apartment block being built behind us. The rumbling has eased a bit in the last few days, Stephen found out that our neighbour complained about the effects of the compacters to the Council. The neighbour had originally told me that the compacting can be done more gently these days. However, he felt that lately they had tried to speed things up, sending sound and vibrations through our homes. We have had another light fitting come down, but the builder has not sent anyone around to repair it.

Yesterday evening I did a fair bit of sorting out of stuff, including a box of photos from Matt’s room. I found the lovely photo of Matt with Katarina, taken we think, in 1988. Brian’s family always had their Christmas celebration on Boxing Day, and in the year Katarina was born we put her on Matt’s lap for this photo. In subsequent years we tried taking the same photo – of course she got too big in the end. When I posted the photo on Facebook Katarina posted a couple of photos of later years, including one where she is standing next to Matt holding his hand. Katarina is actually Matt’s cousin on his father’s side – she must be 29 now.

Katarina and MattKatarina and Matt 3

I’m not sure who took the photos – I think it was someone in Brian’s family.

Today we took the Winnie up to Marie and Geoff’s place in Roleystone. I miss it terribly already, but am glad to have it in a safe place, with shade for part of the day. We left there at about lunch time, so dropped in at the shopping centre to get a pie or something. We ended up at the Orchard Expresso Cafe having a light lunch. We go into discussion about our books and ended up leaving there at about 2.00 p.m. We had told Geoff Stephen needed to be home, so it was a bit embarrassing to see him at the shopping centre as we left the cafe. We couldn’t really explain that we got immersed in things and hadn’t realised the time.

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Stephen did his usual thing of posing so that I could take a photo. We were particularly noticing how beautiful it is in Roleystone, with gum trees in bloom and all the green. It was a bit cooler than Victoria Park as well. We are looking forward to staying there for a while whilst we have guests from England staying in our house. I was noting all the useful shops for future reference.

We did a major shopping expedition this morning and our freezer is full (it’s a small, front loading freezer). I have bought a few things that don’t need to be cooked in my electric pressure cooker, but it has definitely become my favourite way of cooking food.

On Monday morning we had our routine swim as usual, so routine that we didn’t even have a discussion in the morning, just got up and ready at the right time. Going swimming tomorrow morning was discussed today, Stephen is singing in concerts tomorrow evening and Saturday afternoon and has had rehearsals each evening from Tuesday so he is not sure if it is wise to push things. I want to go by myself if necessary, but would have to push myself a little to go on my own.

On Tuesday morning we had a meeting of the writers’ group organised by Eversley. We meet in one of the social areas at her retirement village. The room is large and attractive, with a kitchen area for making hot drinks and preparing our food for the shared lunch. This was the first meeting of the year, with two new people, and there was really good energy in the group.

I’ve finished both of my books – and enjoyed reading them although they have not left me feeling optimistic about life on earth. The Chinese author writes of being happily settled in the US, able to speak far more frankly than she could when living in China. I suspect she did not lose her ingrained politeness when she disagreed with people. She found her new country very open and accepting of people from different countries and ethnic backgrounds and I feel she would not feel the same way if she was writing now.

Daniel’s book left me feeling depressed about the future of the world where the US is unlikely to lead with getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. Which means that all we can do is hope that the horror of the thought of killing off all life on the planet is enough to deter them from being used. Stephen and I were discussing this at lunch time. He, as always, took a much more optimistic view.

Working Voices Choir was supposed to start this week, but there has been a delay. The Teacher’s Union have not long moved in and they weren’t ready. We hope to start next week.

Don’t forget to write!

The above phrase is being used as a workshop title for a talk at our local library soon. It seems very apt for people who aspire to be writers, and I must count myself amongst those, especially as I now belong to a writing group.

We went to Opera in the Park twice, on Friday night after our choir committee meeting in Leederville. We were there for about an hour before we decided to pack it in and come back on the next night.

Friday morning I was getting anxious about the thought of the Winnie being at the repairers for another weekend, exspecially as it wasn’t with Ken Peachy. We went for another swim on Friday morning, taking advantage of our relatively quiet week. The call came around mid day and we went to pick it up after lunch. The panel beaters had repainted the hood, but there is a little paint missing on a side panel as well. I should probably get some vehicle paint and fix it up myself until it gets to the stage where the whole panel needs doing. Ken Peachy had fixed the lock and we can now lock the door with three levels of security. A normal lock, a deadlock, and the screen door. We have a new grey water hose, and the screw on the top panel was fixed.

It felt a bit cooler last night and I decided to wash the floor. It didn’t look dirty, but the amount of dirt on the floor was amazing. It means that the lino is very good at hiding it. I still want to clean the rest of the interior and tackle some stains on the outside, so it is parked on the front lawn for now as I wait for little windows when it is cool enough to do some work. Last night I ended up bathed in sweat – it must have been very humid  and with no electrical hookup I couldn’t run the floor fan.

The committee meeting for the choir went well, with decisions being made unanimously. Our chairperson will respond in writing to the choir director regarding the next six months. We met at the Dome near the Luna, Leederville. Dome cafes near restaurant strips stay open until 9.00 p.m., about the only cafes open that late.

On Saturday night we took a picnic organised mostly by Stephen, though I went out and bought some flat bread and a tray of fruit which made a nice contribution. I stood for about half an hour to get us hot chocolate, not quite realising that other stall could also do hot chocolate. The show started whilst I was there, but I was back for the main aria.

We took a selfi when the light was still good, and apart from the camera focussing on the background instead of on us, it’s quite a nice photo. We look like a match, we were wearing similar shirts, both have dark framed glasses and grey hair. Of course the missed focus has a softening effect on our faces, which we appreciate very much.

Hastings Twins (1 of 1)
The Hastings Twins

The opera was staged, with cameras giving us closeups that were very necessary, since the orchestra was in front. It was being simulcast to many regional venues and I imagined lots of people sitting in parks enjoying food and wine and enjoying the music. It was fairly warm, with a slight cooling down towards the end of the evening. We caught the bus there and back, along with other opera lovers.

Part of the opera takes place in winter, with the singers having to wear coats and scarves. There was even a little artificial snow.

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artificial snow falling
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Rudolfo and Mimi
background (1 of 1)
background lighting of palms in Supreme Court Gardens
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Before the show

On Saturday morning we went for our monthly Gwelup Walk with Eversley and Colin. The summer time of 8.30 a.m. meant that we were out during the cooler weather. We started with the boardwalk and noticed ducklings in the water. Then around the longest section of the walk, hugging the shade, to the cafe. When we got back, Eversley gave me a book from the libary by Nien Cheng ‘Life and Death in Shanghai’ – a first person account of her experiences during the Cultural Revolution. She seems to have used her strong sense of personhood to cope. I am sort of enjoying it, her writing is very vivid and personal, but the subject matter is difficult.

The other book was recomended by Stephen from reading the Weekend Australian review. It’s ‘The Doomsday Machine’ by Daniel Ellsberg. Daniel was involved in finding out about the nuclear programme in the US during the Cold War. It’s a pretty scary book, if we had known this level of detail at the time we would have worried even more than we did. Of course, the threat of nuclear war is back on the table.

The administration has adopted a couple of his recommendations, including a way of stopping hostilities, which they didn’t have before, and perhaps a more cautious approach since we now know about the ‘nuclear winter’ that would happen even if there is only a small nuclear war. The nuclear bombing plan set up for the Cold War involved bombing cities in the USSR and also taking out all of the major cities in China, for good measure. I think taking out China if a nuclear war starts is still a part of the battle plan. It is chilling to read about because there is no thought of the horror of deliberately targeting civilians when it is governments that decide on war.

Another good thing is that there is no nuclear button, as such, and the military would never trust a civilian, even the President of the United States (no matter who that is), or Secretary of Defence, with the actual codes. The briefcase that is carried around by an officer wherever the President goes is a dummy. Of course, the miliary are not guaranteed to make good decisions either, as there is still a tendency to ignore the effect of firestorms resulting from nuclear explosions that would send smoke above the atmosphere into the stratosphere and cause a 10 year nuclear winter. People in the southern hemisphere wouldn’t die of blasts or fire or radiation, but would die of starvation because food production would be impossible. Most people on the planet would die, apart from the preppers (perhaps) and very rich people who already have their bunkers.

I suspect I should not be reading such a frightening book, but having started, it is hard to stop. I was reading in the news this morning that China has just accused the US of going back to the Cold War by wanting to bring in less powerful nuclear weapons as part of the deterrent. This is based on the idea that their enemies would never expect them to actually use the most powerful nuclear weapons because of killing most people on the planet. However, smaller nuclear weapons might not have this effect. Depends how many are used by both sides?

Of course, the Chinese government must be aware that the US regards China as a main target even if though China would not initiate a nuclear war. Although China is a nuclear power, they have nothing like the arsenals of the USA and Russia.

The Moon, the Smoothie Bar and the Light Fitting

We had a lovely lunch outing with Mum yesterday. I had a look at her head and there was definitely an injury, but it looked like it was on the surface. So glad they sent to her Emergency to have it checked out. She seemed fine and was quite bright. Stephen says he thinks she will be with us for quite a long time as she seems so lively and ‘with it’. I think the stimulation helps.

Before going out, we checked on her seeing the visiting doctor to have her blood pressure checked. After asking several people and consulting with the RN, it was decided that she will see the Clinical Nurse on Friday. The nurse is there all day, so Mum can go out with Robyne without worrying about when the doctor is coming.

We went to the Parky for lunch and shared a couple of light lunch items and a bowl of desert – which worked well for three people. We also had coffees and went outside after our main meal so that she could smoke and enjoy her coffee in a leisurely way. She talked about her father and mother as the Parky brings up good memories. As usual, we shared the cost of the lunch with her, especially important as today was a little more expensive than going to the Mt Helena cafe.

In the evening we were rather entranced by the combined Blue Moon (2nd full moon of the month), Blood Moon and eclipse. I’ve not had successful photos of moon events with a good camera, so just took my littlest Sony and a basic 55-210mm lens to the end of the driveway for some shots. They were surprisingly clear. We had binoculars, which gave us an amazing view, and in the end took chairs out to watch for a while until the mozzies drove us in. Whilst sitting in my low chair I was able to use my knees as a tripod to get steadier shots.

The first one was taken quite early in the cycle, with just some shading at the bottom. The photos are cropped, with a slight use of the ‘clarity’ slider in Lightroom.

early in eclipse cycle (1 of 1)

early in eclipse cycle coloured (1 of 1)
A bit more shading
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earth shadow as a ‘bite’
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Stephen the Moonwatcher. Our neighbours came out a few times as well to check on progress.
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This is not quite full coverage, but shows the colouring well. Later, the moon was much higher in the sky and too dark for getting good photos.
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one more view

The video clip below shows how difficult it was to hold the little camera steady to get clear photos. I had it set on spot metering, so even when there was light in the sky, the background looks black.

This morning I had an appointment with Glenda at the Ability Centre to discuss NDIS funding. Basically we don’t have to worry about the transition which will happen next year as the Ability Centre will do all of the work of setting up the plan and we just have to be careful to not lose funding by saying something dumb.

We also discussed her ideas about community building in the local area, something that she is hoping will happen gradually over the next couple of years. It reminds me of the community building that is happening here in Victoria Park – driven mostly by the council, and warmly embraced by the residents.

We also discussed the possibility of Matt having a couple of  breaks from his Opportunities program during the year so that his Christmas break can be a bit shorter. I think it’s an excellent idea as three weeks off must seem a long time to him. He has periods where he doesn’t feel well, and appears to be in pain. This can affect him for a week or more. We discussed him maybe taking a break when that is happening so that he has a chance to get better. The pain is likely to be in his muscles as his body is changing as he gets older.

The great thing about having the meeting today is that is coincided with Matt’s Smoothie Bar. I had a mango, coconut milk smoothie, just lovely. Although they use ice, they keep it going for an extra 30 seconds or so to warm it slightly so that you can taste the full flavour. Matt has his own mixer and is now using a switch near his head to operate it. He has to use his manual wheelchair as his powered chair doesn’t fit under the table due to the control display on one side.

Matt's Smoothie Bar (1 of 1)
The plastic bowls are filled with stuff, then Matt slides them to the edge so the contents spill into the mixer. He practiced doing this whilst Scott, his helper, was away. They landed in the bucket of ice rather than going on the floor, fortunately.
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Scott took some photos of us together.
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I like this one as he is looking at the camera.

One of the huge machines on the building site behind us sometimes makes a curious rumbling. It gets particularly noisy in the kitchen and makes things rattle in the cupboards. A light fitting became partly detached in our ‘powder room’ and Stephen took a photo and sent it to our contact person at Celcius who own the project. They sent the builder over with a ladder to fix it. We were very pleased as we thought we would need an electrican. But, it does demonstrate how the grumbling and shaking can loosen things.

Still no call about the Winnie being ready. Maybe tomorrow?