Saturday, January 26, 2013


Some blog customers look askance at my involvement with Twitter and Facebook, and feel that they might be missing out. So here is my last month of Twitter comments, with most of the cricket taken out.

30 Dec Watching the 2005 Ashes for a lark. Australia's uniform included blonde tips - Pup, Lee, even McGrath and of course, classic (fat) Warne.

30 Dec But they all looked pretty regular compared with Kevin Pietersen, sporting a kind of a seagull-shat look that signally failed to catch on

3 Jan When a batsman asks for a review ump should say "Well, I wanted to like it, but that wafty off-drive was so predictable. 2 stars"

3 Jan Soviet Hobbit

4 Jan The BOM has described today's record hot day in Hobart (42°) as "unusual". Geez, settle down you guys   

6 Jan Don't just try to get rid rid of your old toilet by flushing it down the new toilet. That won't work.

7 Jan Education version of our convict history interactive needs warnings about sex, violence and of course CLAY PIPES.

8 Jan The thing about the War on Sudoku is - how will we know when we've won it? When will these commuters and pensioners be able to REST???

8 Jan "Fly Away Home" reboot. Paquin -> Beiber. Daniels -> 24 Baby geese -> 2000 Baby Giant Octopus #$$$

8 Jan Nothing can match the smug satisfaction of hearing your ten-year-old whistle something by XTC or Miles Davis.

8 Jan Friday. God: "Have a record hot day, Hobart!" Sizzle. Burn. Fry. Tuesday. God: "Too hot, little buddy? How about some snow tomorrow?"

8 Jan Yes. Hobart Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Scattered showers, falling as snow above 900 metres in the morning and afternoon.

8 Jan Shame those kids on the peninsula can't go tobogganning tomorrow cos their sled got BURNT UP IN A BUSHFIRE FOUR DAYS AGO. Geez.

8 Jan You misunderstand me sir. I was not doubting your courage, it just looked to me for a moment like you actually WERE a chicken.

9 Jan I love Ralph and Donald. "Do you do a lot of reading?" "Yeah - dirty novels" 

14 Jan Passionate Rainbow Dwarf 

14 Jan Just been to a recital played on an enormous Romantic organ.

15 Jan Shout out to my Photoshop homies. 

16 Jan What I love most about Aussie House & Garden mag is it's my one-stop-shop for great ideas about goat curd AND dubstep.

18 Jan He [Lance Armstrong] seems to be saying now: you can't trust people with cancer. Possibly a bit unfair on, you know, others

21 Jan Strong Crotch Angles 

21 Jan Semi-Weeping Habit 

23 Jan ♫ Saw a ray, a flappy little ray / it wasn't today, it was the other day ♫

24 Jan Happy birthday michael rees. You are totally nine, dude.

Tomato time

I've got four different types of tomatoes going - hopefully they will ripen at different times. These little grape size romas are going first.

Bicheno needs a hug

We just spent 2 and a half days in and around Bicheno, and the place is pretty grim. We stayed at Silver Sands again, and the shabby charm we enjoyed the first time had worn off by the 2nd night. The place is frankly a dump and it’s a real shame.

The sign at the front of the establishment fell down a long time ago. There is a blackboard on the front of the old bar (now closed) and one of the staff said she used to write SILVER SANDS on it as big as she could, but it gets washed off by the rain and she doesn’t bother now. The old dining room is now the Dog’s Breakfast Trading Company, a strange bazaar of tat. The old bar is now used for storage. The swimming pool which was the centre of the whole complex has been decked over and now has two windswept picnic tables on it.

Our room this time was smaller. When we arrived there was a bottle cap on the floor, the shower was dripping/running, one bedside lamp didn’t work, and one of those low-watt bulbs went flick flickety-flick and buzzed even when turned off. The bathroom was horrid - the shower ran into a strangely shaped bath which was seemingly designed to be impossible to clean. If you want to cheer yourself up with a cup of tea, the only way to fill the kettle was to bale water into it with a mug. The whole thing had a sort of East German Youth Camp feeling about it.

What’s most alarming is that the staff are shambling around grimly, going through the motions but as guests you feel like you are not really part of the picture. The place is staying open for some reason but hospitality certainly isn’t it.

We had breakfast on the first morning in Silver Sands’ White Dog Cafe. We were the only customers, but the lone staff member didn’t seem glad to see us. I ordered from the menu the “muesli with yoghurt and banana”. She came back to dolefully inform me that “We haven’t got a banana - we’ve had so few people in, that I got sick of having to put them in the freezer”.

The next morning we walked up the road and had breakfast at Pork’s Place. Mr Pork was a lot like Alf from Home and Away - a breezy how-you-goin’-fella type with a grin and a chuckle. But when we asked him about Silver Sands he was pretty dark on the place and on the owner, Jan Cameron. He thinks she’s choking the life out of the town. She has bought upwards of 30 properties and not done anything with them. In his view she is “doing it for the Capital Gains Tax” - maybe trying to make a loss to offset profits somewhere else. But her main investment that I’m aware of is the Chickenfeed chain and that's going south rapidly. None of it makes much sense.

The staff are all ladies of a certain age, (the type Kaz Cooke calls Lorraines) and they seem weary and morose. There was one bloke gardening, he seemed a little brighter. When we were packing up to go, Marcus and I were poking around a strange hexagonal shed in the grounds. It had broken windows, and inside you could see all sorts of gear, and really large cauldron in the centre. The shed roof was just an awning running around the edge - in the middle it was open to the sky. One of the Lorraines called over to us “that used to be the craybake - we’d get 40 or 50 people in there for an evening and cook up the crays in the pot”. Someone flicked a ciggie into the sawdust bin that was the fuel for the fire, and the whole thing went up.

I asked the lady if she had five minutes for a chat. She said had worked there for 36 years, and it used to be the premier beach resort in Tasmania. She didn’t know what the future of the place was, or why the owner was doing what she was doing. No wonder everyone’s so grim. Apart from one of the four staff at the IGA supermarket, and Mr Pork, everyone else we met in Bicheno looked like they had just run over their own cat. Mrs Pork looked like having four hungry customers for breakfast at her establishment was just the last thing she needed. We tried very hard all over town to be friendly and got very little back.

After the recent fires around Bicheno, on the Tasman Peninsula and in the Upper Derwent Valley, Tasmanians were told to get out to these areas and spend money, come and stay, we are open for business etc. We were keen to do this, and arrived ready to spend, which for a renowned tight-arse like me is pushing the boat out somewhat. I don’t know enough about it to just blame Jan Cameron, but something in Bicheno is really not right.

Bicheno area beach blog

We just spent 3 days in and around Bicheno, returning to the site of our Spontaneous Spring Jaunt. It was Michael's birthday on Thursday, and we spent it at beautiful Lagoons Beach. The weather was not great, cool and windy, vut we had a good time anyway. The birthday boy likes nothing better than simply hopping around rocks and poking rockpools with a stick, so we did a lot of that. Also a bit of paddling in the lagoon, and the boys thrilled themselves by frolicking at the edge of the incredibly powerful surf.

Now he is nine! But still not sure how to put on a jumper.
This one is still ten, for now.
A couple of pickles.

Michael at 45°, 41°52′S 148°17′E, and 22°C - Bicheno Blowhole.

Friday, January 18, 2013


I like to think I'm an open-minded groover who's down with the latest. But - I have realised I am a crusty, fusty old fraud. I don't even like new kinds of cricket let alone art/music/activated almonds/wearable nano-computers. Just give me a painting, a test match, a bit of Midnight Oil, a salted cashew and a desktop Mac, thanks.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Massive organ

We just attended half an organ recital, at the urging of Elf's mother Felicity. She has returned to Canberra, but urged us in her absence to take the boys to a couple of free concerts.

Tonight's was at Scots Church in town, home of a massive Romantic organ. That is, constructed expressly for playing the music of the great Romantic composers, such as Bach. I did not recognise any of the pieces except Mr Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, and as usual when I hear it, I thought how much more I would enjoy listening to Sky do it.

So here it is. When we got home I played it the family and everyone loved it.

(Sky were a classical/rock fusion experiment who were around from 1979 to the nineties. I used to have  this on tape, it was on Sky2 which came out in 1980. They are the sitting-downest rock band I have ever seen. The drummer is having a whale of a time and appears to be well-known deranged millionaire John Hodgman.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The arms

Michael, inspired by his grandmother Felicity, put together this beautiful coat of arms. He asked us for a motto this morning. I suggested "Do Your Best" but we went for the more motto-ey "Dare to Strive", and Michael Google Translate-d it. The supporters are our noble mammal associates Winston and Hattie.

Top left are the Jackson arms, three blue eagle heads, and a chevron with three golden clover. Top right are the Fullagar coat of arms, a bend rouge with three plates on a field of ermine fur.
Bottom left are the arms of Ware - two blue lions on gold, with a border of gold scallops on blue.
And bottom right are the Rees arms, a black chevron with three black choughs (pronounced chuffs I think) on a silver field.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Anthem recognition test

Driving home the other day I flicked on the radio.
*Subcontinental-vocal stylings and drums for about 0.7 seconds*
*Radio off*
ME: Hmm. I thought the cricket would be on by now.
MARCUS: Dad! That was the Sri Lankan national anthem. The cricket is on.

Ken Rosewall

A tiny factoid about Australian tennis player Ken Rosewall. He won 8 Grand Slams, but he played four Wimbledon finals and lost them all. The amazing thing I found out this morning was that the first one was in 1954 (age 19) and the last one was was 1974 (age 49)! Forty bloody nine and he played a Wimbledon final (where he was clobbered by Jimmy Connors, unsurprisingly). Still - hats off to him I say.


Monday, January 07, 2013

Airborne leaf

Yesterday Michael picked up something black in the backyard and said ‘Look - a burnt leaf!’ It was black, and it was a leaf, but it looked to me like maybe it was from something with naturally dark foliage, so I said to him no, I don't think it’s from the bushfire. On Friday the wind was blowing from the further fires inland, and they are 70km away, so I didn’t really believe it could be from there.

Then last night I went for a run around the soccer ground, and in that big open area with short grass, it was easy to see that in fact there were scorched leaves and bits of bark everywhere, that must have travelled from the Lake Repulse fire on Friday.

So I apologised to Michael and we agreed we should keep these leaves in a little jar and label them 4 Jan 2013, Hottest Day in Hobart Ever.

As of Jan 8 this is our collection. Amazingly, tomorrow is going to be 16° max with snow above 700m!

Sunday, January 06, 2013


Just a quick post about the bushfires in Southeast Tasmania. We are fine and everyone we know in the affected areas are OK. Hobart had a record high temperature of 42°C on Friday, high winds and inevitably when fires started they were impossible to control. So far about 100 homes have been destroyed and thousands of people have been evacuated.

Some people are yet to be located but so far there are no confirmed fatalities, and I have not heard of any serious injuries. That's a testament to an amazing effort from the fire service, other emergency services and a huge flotilla of volunteer boats who ferried people away from the stricken areas when the roads were impassable.

On a world scale I know this is a very minor natural disaster, but if anyone felt they wanted to help out, there is an online appeal for donations here - scroll down to South Eastern Tasmania Bushfire Appeal.