Monday, February 24

Tradesmen - A Rant

When I moved into his brand new duplex last year I was thrilled - in part because I had never (as an adult) lived in a brand new place.  I was 4 years old when we moved into our Adelaide house way back a long time ago - and clearly I have no memory of it.

The new home was clean, pristine, and I loved it - but I knew that there would be some issues, as there often are with brand new premises.  I seem to have had more than my fair share of them.
  • the garage door made a noise that was far in excess of what anyone would expect
  • the air conditioner saga - it has never worked properly
  • the smoke alarm system is always causing problems
Plus we have regular inspections, regular checks for termites etc, and regular (apart from my extra callouts) inspections of the smoke alarms.

Also I have had connection to NBN, and new blinds.

Of course all these "visits" require someone to be home to give access to the various pieces of equipment or the whole house, and since I live alone it does take some planning on my part.  However, I often get little or no notice, and sometimes when I am told that a technician is due "between 8 am and 12.30 pm" or similar I can wait during that time and no one appears.  On one occasion I was 50 kms away and a technician was due in an hour - I rushed back but no technician ever turned up.  That was a big drama with the real estate people who had clearly given me the wrong information.

Caboolture River near the Old Beachmere Road.
I do understand that technicians are unable to correctly/exactly know when they may arrive to do the work, but surely they have (a) some idea and (b) the skills to contact the person who is waiting or them to advise of expected arrival time, and a quick call or SMS to advise of revised time.

About ten days ago the battery in one of the smoke alarms went haywire and during the night beeped for 5 hours.  I don't have a ladder here, and anyway I was told NOT to touch it.  It is wired to the electricity too.  That was on a Thursday night, so early on the Friday morning I advised the RE agent, and was later advised that a technician would come on Monday morning.

It was 1.30 pm on the Monday that I gave up - I had been waiting all morning, and late morning I had phoned the company and the technician and the latter did not respond.  I left home at 1.40 pm (I had things to do!) expecting that the technician had again forgotten to attend.  He phoned some time later when he was apparently on his way to my home, but I had long gone.  We made other arrangements and one did turn up a few days later. (And as it turns out could not repair the alarm and now I am waiting on an electrician!!)

Waiting.  Waiting.  

All the problems I have had are not my doing.  The air conditioner was never installed properly and as I am only an infrequent user of the a/c it wasn't until the hottest day in 100 years that I needed it - and it didn't work.  It took 6 weeks of various visits by technicians before it was repaired.  There is clearly an ongoing problem with the smoke alarms.

What amazes me is that there seems to be an expectation that someone is waiting home with nothing else to do but wait for these technicians to attend. Some are good with making arrangements, or re arrangements.  Some are just ..... incompetent?


I have had in all three almost full nights of no sleep due to the strange behaviour of the smoke alarms, and I don't have confidence that there won't be more.

I wonder if they will work if I really do have a fire!!!!!  Apparently the alarms are so sensitive that they pick up ANY changes in atmosphere.  What nonsense!!!!!

I wait.  I wait.

Postscript

6 days after the technician had been and told me that my problem should be fixed quickly as my smoke alarm, being faulty, did not comply with the rules.

I had heard nothing from the company - Smoke Alarm Solutions - so I sent an email.  

Some time later I received a phone call that the electrician will be here NEXT Friday - March 7th.  Priority?  

I wait. I wait.

Thursday, February 20

I've Killed my Goldfish!!!

Three of them.  Dead.  I'm shattered.  I went on line and learned a few more things about caring for gold fish.  I've been away and I think I overfed them, and the water was not clean enough.  After lashing myself and recovering I have cleaned out the fish bowl, and tomorrow will get three more fish, and some piping so that I can refresh the water more often and more easily.  I think I overfed them as I was going to be away.  Darn. I am so upset.

Blogging Workshops

This week was the first week of my Blogging Workshops at the Caboolture Hub.  Some of my readers may know that I started Blogging in 2005 when I travelled via Los Angeles, London to Dublin and drove around Ireland (not Northern Ireland) doing some research.  I was asked my family and friends to send emails, post cards, but chose to do a blog.  I used Type Pad at the time, but later I learned that I could use a free platform e.g. Blogger so eventually changed.

It is an Introductory Course and there are 8 participants/students and in their first lesson, I took them on a brief journey of learning about blogging and they all set up their own blog using Blogger.

I'm in the process of planning Lessons 2 and 3.  One of the things that I have discovered is that though many Australians blog, we are not as addicted as Americans.  I know from participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge in January (2014) that the majority were from the US.  Australia has a number of blog directories including The Australian Index which I am renewing my acquaintance with.  I've created a couple of newer blogs so will submit the details to them.

I am a member of Blog Chicks Directory - clearly for the "chicks" who blog, but I find it a quite static/slow directory.  Australian Women Bloggers Directory/Blog Chicks is I think the only such directory in Australia for women, though there is another one for women publishers, but it focuses on publishing, though clearly a link with blogging - Women's Publishing Network  Again, there is limited action on that site too.

There are a number of other blog directories - but I can't determine if any are working really well.

However, I do think it is worthwhile participating in these directories and seeking out others - sometimes that one new reader/potential customer is worth the (small) effort!!!!

Here is a list of 10 FREE Blog Directories in Australia - some may be familiar to you..  Click here.

Another one I have just found is Australian Blogs - which I will investigate. 

Monday, February 17

Stomaltherapy.

I was reading an Obituary in the Courier Mail (from Saturday February 15th) and realised that I had a connection with one of the subjects.  I wrote about the Obits in another blog.

It was mentioned in the obit that the lady was a stomaltherapist and had attended the World Stomaltherapy Conference in Perth in 1986.  I was not a stomaltherapist - but was employed by a company that sold stomaltherapy products.  What is stomal therapy?  Read here.  I did meet her and had contact with her later on.

I had recently been employed by a company selling stoma products, and within a couple of weeks of starting with them I was sent to Perth for (a) the World Stomaltherapy Conference and (b) a company conference at York.

There's a funny story with this - another lady was booked to go to the conference and the air ticket was not transferable, so I flew in her name.  In those days we did not have to provide evidence (ID), so it worked, although there was some drama around the return trip from Perth to Brisbane.  I had stayed at the Sheraton, and apparently when Qantas phoned the Sheraton to advice that the flight was delayed, the Sheraton said that the woman named had not stayed there!  True, but it was me that was expecting to fly!  It wasn't until I got to the airport - and it was the Red Eye Flight due to leave around midnight, that I learned the story and quick talking enabled me to get on the flight rather than be left at the Perth Airport.

All the other company members had flown out - I would have been stranded.  I had rented a car and driven with another person from the conference driven to Freemantle and then back via the Perth Casino.  It was before mobile phones too!!!

The company that manufactured the stoma products was from Denmark, and I can recall going in the minibus to York with a couple of the Danes when we passed a road kill - a dead kangaroo, and they insisted that the vehicle stop.  It was their first sighting of a kangaroo.  We all climbed out of the minibus and approached the stinking corpse.  We Aussies were aghast!!!  (We do hope that later they would have seen a real life non stinking one!)

We stayed in a lovely old motel in York - the whole town is fascinating.  It is the oldest inland town in Western Australia and is very interesting.  I remember going on early morning walks, including having to climb over a fence via a stile to see an old church, and one morning further out of town I was taking photos of a goats in a fenced yard, when one of the big goats (a billy by the size of his horns) leapt over the fence and chased me down the road.  It did curb my early morning walks!!!

As well as products for stomas (colostomy, ileostomy bags etc) the company sold a range of products for men with incontinence.  Now that is another story....................

Movies at Bribie Island

I do like to go to the movies - though I admit to being somewhat fussy about what I see.  I like real life stories, limited violence, limited animation, feel good stories.

In the past few weeks I have been to Bribie Island Twin Cinema to see several movies.   I have seen The Book Thief, Philomena and The Railway Man.  All excellent.





The story of Philomena is one that is very close to me - not that I have an Irish heritage, but I am still working on the story of a man who was born in Ireland in 1925.  Clearly the standards that we expect of people (governments, institutions, families) now, are different, but one wonders about the heartlessness of people within a church.  How Philomena could have been treated by the nuns of the Roscrea is heart rending.  How they could do what they did is appalling.

The story of Philomena is a true story and the full story is here.

I left the theatre with tears rolling down my face.  I tried to stop before I got to the exit door, but as hard as I tried to stop them, the tears came in floods!!!  I loved the movie.  Judy Dench was great!!!!  As could be expected.

A couple of days later I went to see The Railway Man - and again I left the theatre in tears.  Happy tears I guess - again an extra ordinary true story.  Here is a trailer here.




The cruelty of men and women in the past is well known, and for us living in the 21st Century much of it is hard to digest.  

Two excellent movies - must be seen.  Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth were excellent.

I hadn't known that there was a movie theatre at Bribie Island - I had driven past it on more than one occasion, and thought it was some sort of museum piece.



I had been going to the theatre at Morayfield in the shopping centre there, but I prefer the Bribie Theatre.  In part it is because it is far cheaper than at Morayfield, and I never liked going there.  One thing that occurs is that you have to choose your seat when you go to Morayfield, which is a challenge if you don't know the theatre, and your ticket has your seat number on it.  There was someone in my designated seat the last time I went, so I moved to another spot.  Yes, you've probably guessed - it appears I was in someone else's seat, so I had to move again.  I will keep going to Bribie - a much better drive too!!!

Saturday, February 15

Something beautiful at Sandstone Point

Sandstone Point is a suburb on the shores of Deception Bay, on the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge (the bridge is 50 years old this year, or was it last year?)

It is a modern settlement, with a shopping centre and some beautiful parks and gardens.  I have to confess that I have done little more than drive along the road - that goes through the suburb.  I know little about it.

One day last week I attended a meeting at someone's home - and being a first time visitor to the area I did get a bit lost - in fact my GPS sent me on a wild goose chase, and even though I was by then running late, I found a wonderful lake full of Lotus flowers and I stopped and took a few quick photos.

This week when I was coming back to Beachmere from Bribie Island - I went to the movies at an amazing little theatre there - I detoured through Sandstone Point just so I could take some photos of the Lotus.

One doesn't see them growing in Australia very much - and I have great memories of seeing them in bloom in China and I was enthralled.  As I am still when I see them.




There's a lovely park, and a gazebo - a beautiful place to visit.

Friday, February 14

Beachmere

Beachmere?  Where is it?  I hear that so often when I mention that I live at Beachmere - so many folk haven't even heard of it, and fewer have been here.  I remember looking at the map and trying to decide if it would fulfil my desire to live within 100 kms of Brisbane, and near the sea. 

When I "found" Beachmere I was thrilled and after my drive around Australia, I set out to find suitable accommodation for me - so here I am.

It is not a swimming beach - in fact (unless you are lucky enough to have your own pool) you have to go to Bribie or Caboolture to find a swimming pool, but there are other bonuses!!!  It is tidal of course, and when it is low tide you will see many Beachmere residents taking a walk out along the sand flats. 

There are many spots between the Caboolture River and the northern end of Beachmere - so that one can walk in a different area every day, and because of the tides, there are many changes on the sand. Different patterns in the sand, some days there are battalions of soldier crabs, or other sea creatures, and a range of flotsam and jetsam.

Recently the beach has "coughed up" piles of pumice - as a result of an undersea earthquake some time ago, sometimes there are pieces of trees, piles of shells, and so it goes.  As I said, it is as each day the scenery has changed.

Today I went for a walk from the park at the southern end of Biggs Avenue (called Poo Park by the locals - it is an off leash dog park, but the owners don't always clean up the poo.  Keep your eyes open.

I went for a long walk, with my car keys dangling from my neck on a lanyard and my hands very busy with my camera.



Sometimes the soldier crabs are hidden under the sand, but the little holes and balls of sand indicate that they are there.  Today I found battalions of them running around.  They move in a mob - and if someone or something (e.g. dog) is on the beach, they move in a group in a futile attempt to avoid the "visitor" - and then they panic and quickly dig into the sand and disappear.    I love watching them, and laugh as I try and tell them that I don't plan to hurt them!


Towards the mouth of the Caboolture River it is very swampy (hence the name Beachmere -mere meaning swamp!) but it is clear that a long time ago there were many trees growing in the sand, but now they are dead and dying.  I always find it fascinating that there are trees quite a way out in the sea at high tide - but at low tide it is possible to see the remains of many old tree stumps.  A stark reminder that what nature gives, it sometimes takes away.

Old stumps


An old tree at the mercy of the sea.





Sunday, February 9

More photos - Greenhead to Dongara

I have spent time reminiscing about my journey last year.  On the day I visited the Pinnacles at Nambung National Park I drove back along the coast road to Dongara where I was staying.  The coast road has spectacular scenery at every corner - and I stopped often and explored little tracks that headed seawards.  There are many little fishing shacks along the way - apparently there were many more, but these days only a few remain.

Here are some more photos of that journey.

 
 



More Pinnacles photos


This strange machine is on the beachfront just south of Dongara - I think it is an incinerator, and I think the toilet bowl is something that would not be suitable for the incinerator.  Still I thought it funny.



 
 
Fire had ravaged this part of the area some time ago - the new growth is healthy and it makes an interesting photograph with the dead/dying branches above the new growth.
 



Interesting landscape after the fire - you can just see the side of the toilet block on the left edge of the photo.  It appeared to be as spot where fishermen launched their boats, directly from the sand into the water.



 
 

Another Caboolture Discovery

I am volunteering at the Caboolture Historical Village and working on a function for International Women's Day - looking for a caterer.  I discovered the Lagoon Creek Function Centre and went to have a coffee and chat with them.

It is a wonderful little place hidden in the northern part of Caboolture - and the staff are wonderful people with disability challenges.  They were wonderful and showed me around.

 
 
I was disappointed that the café didn't actually overlook the lagoon, and I am keen to go for a walk along the pathway to the lagoon one day, but I was unable to do so on the day I visited, though I did get to look around the place.
 
 
 
There is also a gallery -  a number of those who are associated with the Lagoon Creek Function Centre create paintings and other paintings.  I certainly will visit again, and I hope to get them to cater for the IWD function at Caboolture Historical Village.
 
I had quite a list of things to do around Caboolture, and one of the places on that list was Spotlight.  I had been doing some sewing as I have created a new costume for me to wear at the Village, and wanted some more fabric.
 
It was there that I saw a sign "Maningrida" - I knew it was the name of an aboriginal settlement in the Northern Territory - on reading the sign I discovered that the fabric is designed by some of the ladies at Maningrida.http://www.babbarradesigns.com.au/about-babbarra  It was not on my shopping list, and I will go back.  It is wonderful fabric for women's clothing - skirts, dresses etc.
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, February 6

Loads of Pumice

Beachmere is to the south of Pumicestone Passage - where it is common to find pieces of pumice stone washed up on the beach, but recently huge piles of the stone have appeared, and the origin is most interesting.

 


According to recent press reports it comes from a volcano which erupted below the sea in 2012.  It appears that just after the eruption huge rocks of pumice were found floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean - here is an article about it in National Geographic - read it here.

Reports of pumice being washed ashore are coming from the Queensland coast area and New south Wakes, where huge junks of this lightweight rock is being discovered. 

The size of some of the rocks are reported to be as big as "melons" - but it doesn't say what sort of melon.  Certainly there are some big ones - more like large mangoes!!

Luckily the pumice is very light, and floats - but I can only imagine what a huge chunk of floating pumice might look like in the ocean if it was as big as reported.  Go to www.google.com and type in "giant pumice island floating in pacific"  to see the articles and photos of this amazing natural wonder.







 

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was staying with my friend Bev at Dongara in Western Australia.  I was of course midway through my drive around Australia.

One of the most awesome trips I did was to the Pinnacles.  I hadn't really heard of this place until I reached WA - and did some research about places to go.  Of course I doubt if I have visited even 1% of the amazing places, but I am so glad I went to this place.

There is so much beauty around here - including Greenhead and so many other spots along the coast overlooking the Indian Ocean.

It is like walking on another planet - the sand (which seems to change colour depending on where the sun/clouds sit in the sky.)

Greenhead Jetty
 


At the Pinnacles
 

 
 
 

Wednesday, February 5

Two Amazing Finds

Weeks ago I had found a photo of me and a friend taken at the Empire Games in Perth in 1962.  I had lost contact with Judy - who married and remained in Adelaide, when I set off to do my nursing training in Mount Gambier, married and went on to live in various states of Australia before settling in Brisbane.

When I found the photo I jumped on line to see if I could find her - and eventually phoned someone at an address that seemed to be hers.  As it turns out she had left her husband about  10 years ago, and her ex-husband gave me scant detail about her whereabouts though he did give me her new surname.

I found the White Pages, and found someone with the surname in the phone book but for weeks I had phoned and no one answered the phone.  I emailed a friend in the town and she was going to look for me, but so far no luck. 

I thought I'd write a letter, but just one more call.  I was gobsmacked when someone answered and it certainly was my friend Judy, who was most surprised to hear from me after 40 years!!  We chatted for a while, laughed a lot, and exchanged stories.

I was so pleased with myself and have written to her already.  She's not much of a computer fan apparently so we will have to write letters.  Doesn't worry me.

Then I went off to Sandstone Point to meet someone and there I found a wonderful lake full of Lotus flowers.






Despite the fact that I was running late I had to stop and hurriedly take some photos.  I will go back and take my time to get some more photos.

It is unusual to see Lotus flowers in Australia.  It always reminds me of my time in China.  They are such beautiful flowers - so perfect as buds, and the flowers are so delicate looking and so beautiful, and when the flowers are spent, the lotus seed pod is amazing.