Tuesday, 31 December 2013


From the Lorne Independent: “..we implore all homeowners to screw a piece of heavy hardwood to the inside of your household garbage bin now! Otherwise our very smart cockatoos will flick back the lid, no matter how many bricks you put on top of it, and distribute your rubbish everywhere......”.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Bridge!

We're at Lorne, and I'm glad to say that not much has changed. A few of the shops and restaurants have changed, but no matter. The main thing is that the iconic “swing bridge” has gone. I always thought it was a suspension bridge, but I suppose “swing” describes the action that occurred whenever a few people were on it.

I read a notice in the estate agent's window explaining that it had had to be closed for safety reasons. But it was a shock when I saw that it had been totally demolished! I heard that this occurred as long ago as February.

I bought a copy of the local newsheet, and now understand that progress is be made in replacing the bridge. In fact, it was stated that part of the delay was because the Heritage Advisor required some design modifications “to ensure the new Bridge is an exact replica [of] the old one...”. Well, well! Some delay was also caused by the fact that there was a single objector following the public display of the plans (who subsequently purported to withdraw his objection)!

It's apparent that there's been a lot going on, but in the far-away city, I have been oblivious to it all.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Aquatic Club

The Lorne Aquatic Club has for what seems forever enjoyed a prime location close to the pier. It's always conveyed the impression, at least to me, as being a pseudo-private retreat.  And it's never been apparent to me what the the members of the club actually do, apart from socialising and enjoying their view!

However, this year, a “Save our Club” banner has appeared on its walls. And there's now a sign at the entrance, which includes the words “Visitors Welcome”. And I spotted a courtesy bus (apparently owned by the local council). I have no idea of what might be going on here, but the thought crossed my mind that it's interesting to observe that a challenge sometimes promotes change!

Friday, 27 December 2013

The old sign re-emerges

The recent demolition of a building nearby has revealed an old advertising sign.  

However, its appearance is likely to be short-lived as a block of studio apartments is to be erected on the site.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas 2014

Best wishes to all for Christmas!
You can eat Indian on Christmas evening, if you wish
One of the issues that comes up in forums such as Trip Advisor is, what's open on Christmas Day?   So when we went for our walk in the evening on Christmas Day, I was interested to observe what, if anything, was open in the local area.

The answer was, not much.   If you wanted to eat, a couple of Indian restaurants were open, but apart form that, nothing (at least in the evening).
The supermarket was closed (I think it's the law)


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

"No junk mail"

I occasionally distribute flyers in our area regarding activities at the Church.  We're always told, don't put one in any letterbox marked "No junk mail".
But what exactly is "junk mail"?   It reminds me about one person who complained that she never received the local paper.   When asked, she explained, yes, she did have a "No junk mail" sticker on her letterbox.   But, to her, the local paper wasn't "junk".

True, some signs say, "No advertising material".  I think this is intended to convey the message that the local paper is OK.  But I don't know whether a flyer produced by the Church giving details about the times of services over the Christmas period is "advertising material", so I take the cautious approach and give these letterboxes a miss.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas decorations

The City of Melbourne has produced a guide to Christmas decorations in the city.  I suppose this is a useful way to spend ratepayer's money?

Be that as it may, the house in a nearby street didn't get a listing.  Well, it's not in the City of Melbourne, so I suppose that explains it?  But if there was an award for being "over-the-top", it would have to be in contention. I just hope that it doesn't start a trend in our area.

...and there's music as well

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Mixer tap

The mixer tap in the laundry was leaking.  The plumber came and replaced the "cartridge".  A couple of weeks later, it was leaking again, so we rang up another plumber.  "Have you got a replacement tap for us to install?"    No, we didn't, so we took ourselves to the local mega-hardware store, where we were confronted with a choice between the economy tap, the mid-range tap, or the top-of-the-range tap.  They all looked quite similar, but.......?  Anyway, we settled on the "mid-range" model (isn't "compromise" great?)

Before calling the plumber, I thought I should check the contents of the box, just to make sure that everything was there (imagine, the plumber arriving to find out a vital bit was missing!)    I also ran my eye over the installation instructions.   Ummmm, although they were written in plumber-ese, the task of installing the tap didn't look too complicated.   This was verified by inspecting the existing tap.

Sooo....20 minutes later, the new tap was installed!   There was some luck involved, in that amongst my random collection of spanners, there was one that was just the right size to tighten the nut.    I only got a little damp (!), so we took ourselves out to dinner with the money that would otherwise have paid the plumber (and there was change left over!)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Scoopon - and Rococo Lane

We had lunch at Rococco Lane in Beatty Avenue (in Armadale North) a little while ago.

I overhead the staff talking about coupons.   I did a little research and found out that there are "coupon deals" available here.   It looked as though  the coupons come from "Scoopon".    I was just slightly put out that we'd missed an opportunity, although on reflection,  we use the Dine-Out book, so I don't suppose we can complain too much.    However, it prompted me to look at the Scoopon site, but it all seemed just so hard.  I was particularly put off by the fact that it was hard to get past the demand that I provide an email address, and when I did get into it without giving an email address,  the site was a mis-mash of offers with so much "stuff" to trawl through, etc etc.   Hence, it didn't come as a surprise to me to hear that Scoopon were in the news for all the wrong reasons (and also here):    they have been fined $1 million for deceptive conduct.   While it's true that some of the problems appear to have concerned what they told businesses, the nature of their website left me with the impression that it was sort of operation where things could "go wrong" - as apparently they have. 

Just for the record, what did we think of Rococa Lane?   There's some tough competition down there (Rouge and Amalia, in particular) and at least one regular in the area had suggested that Rococo Lane suffered by comparison.  And if an establishment has to resort to coupon deals, does that say something about it? But perhaps we were lucky, as our experience was positive.    Our lunch there was great (an all-day breakfast egg dish and the gnocchi), and the coffees were up to standard as well (even though they had run out of soy).   Prices?  Well, this isn't a "cheap eats" part of town, and in that regard Rococo Lane was about  in line with its neighbours!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Murder on the Ballarat train

I blogged that Kerry Greenwood's research for Raisins and Almonds seemed to be quite impressive.   So, when I came across Miss Phryne Fisher's investigations in Murder on the Ballarat Train, I wondered about the quality of the research for this book.    Based on a fairly quick review, it doesn't seen to have been of the same standard as the Eastern Market mystery (which included a list of sources).  I understand that Murder of the Ballarat Train dates from 1991, whereas Raisins and Almonds dates from 1997; perhaps the author became more interested in historical details as she developed as a writer?

In particular, it seems to me that Kerry may have taken a few liberties with the location of the murder.   The closest timetable I could locate was a 1924 Working Timetable.  The events in the book are set in 1928, so in theory there may have been some changes (but I doubt it).  Assuming things in 1928 were similar to those in 1924,  there was no train departing Flinders Street for Ballarat at 6 p m (see page 14) although there were trains departing Spencer Street for Ballarat at 5.05 and 7.09 pm.  In fact, my impression is that it would have been very unusual indeed for Ballarat trains to have departed from Flinders Street.  The murder is said to have occurred at a water tower about 10 minutes before Ballan (pages 28 and 140), but this could not have occurred, as the only water towers were at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan.  There was an electric staff station at a small sttion called Ingliston, but no water.

No "W" symbol between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan in 1964

A missed opportunity in the book is to refer to the long climb up the Ingliston Bank, between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan, which has also resulted in on optimistic schedule (1 hour 15 minutes after leaving the city) in the book (page 16) for the train to arrive at a point 10 minutes before Ballan.   The 1924 train that departed Melbourne at 5.05 pm took 52 minutes between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan, mostly spent in climbing this bank (arriving at Ballan at 7.12 pm, over 2 hours after leaving the city), and the 7.09 pm departure took 54 minutes. The distance from Bacchus Marsh to Ballan is 17¾ miles, with a climb of 1323 feet.  Although trains in 1964 still crawled up this bank, times are much improved today according to the V/Line timetables.

Ah well, the book is fictional in so many other ways, and quite a good read, so perhaps a few liberties can be excused!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tune Hotel

There's a new hotel on Swanston Street just up from the corner of Queensberry Street.  It's part of the Tune chain.  It seems that this chain is attempting to bring to the accommodation world what low cost airlines did to the travel world:    the basic rate gets you the bare essentials, and you pay for anything extra.  On the website, click on the "optional add-ons" button, and you find that a towel and TV are optional extras!  Well, the web-site makes it clear that pay TV is an extra, but isn't clear whether you have to pay for free-to-air (is this lack of clarity deliberate?).   Early check-in is an extra charge, as are baggage storage and room cleaning on a Sunday.   At least you don't have to pay extra for air-conditioning in Melbourne (this is based on the property's response to one of the reviews on Trip Advisor).  Wi fi is also an extra, but unfortunately that seems to be a "given" in Australia.

It seems that, like budget airlines, the cheapest rates come from special offers and from booking online and in advance.
I haven't been inside, but apparently the rooms are small and basic (no tea/coffee facilities and no fridge), but the chain's pitch centres on having "five star beds and one star prices".   It seems to get satisfactory reviews on Trip Advisor, at least from those who are familiar with the concept (in some cases, based on their experiences with this chain in various Asian locations).


Monday, 16 December 2013

The January train timetable

A reduced train service will operate during January.   Perhaps some reduction is understandable, but on our line (in broad terms) the number of trains is down by half.  Yet by the middle of January, I'd guess that something in the region of about 75 to 80% of people will be back using the trains.

And from our local station, there's a gap between 8.29 am and 9.08 am - that's right, an interval of 39 minutes, at the time when people are going to work - when NO train will stop to pick up passengers.  Normally, there would be 4 trains in this period, but it seems none of these will run.   And this is on the back of an increase in the fares?

Update:   Daniel Bowen has also blogged about this issue.
Update 2:    Metro have quietly plugged the 39 minute gap. by changing one of the expresses so as to stop at 8.48 am (see Daniel Bowen's blog).  Just the same, I think the trains at this time of day will be very crowded by the time we get to the second part of January.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Garden Lights

We didn't need them, but we were checking out the Masters store, and they were "good value".   So now we've got a number of solar operated garden lights.  I'm still not certain whether they serve any useful purpose.......

After leaving them in the full sun for a day, we were disappointed that there wasn't even a glimmer of light when evening fell.   But closer investigation revealed that there was a little switch inside that needed to be turned on.

Then we had some heavy rain.   A couple of the lights
failed to operate the next night.  Well, we thought, they didn't cost much, so perhaps they're not completely waterproof.  However, a day or so later, after some warm sunshine, all was well again:   the warmth appears to have dried things out and the lights were all operating again.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

But has anyone actually bought a Holden recently....?

Yes, the loss of jobs at Holden is disappointing, but just how much in the way of government hand-outs would have been needed to save them?  And it seems we're not buying the cars they make anyway.

The media mentions that there are 3,900 jobs directly involved, and presumably there will be flow-on effects in suppliers and the like.

However, let's get this into context.   On gazing through the National Bank's annual report (please don't ask why I was doing this..... but it's here if you want to look at it), I noticed with interest the statement that NAB is "making significant progress in the convergence of 14,000 Melbourne-based employees into three locations....".

I was surprised that the number was as large as 14,000, but that's what the document states.   And presumably if they're going to be in three locations, this doesn't include staff working in branches.

Perhaps instead of worrying too much about the seemingly inevitable loss of manufacturing jobs, the powers-that-be ought to be taking steps to ensure that jobs in the service sector remain in this country, given the risk that at least some of these jobs could probably be moved to locations with lower costs.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Getting used to a new camera

My new camera is the same brand as my previous camera, so it was quite straight-forward to operate, at least in "point-and-click" mode.  Of course, it has quite a number of additional options, which I am gradually familiarising myself with.   But one early action required was to be adjust the size of the file.  I quickly found out that the default file size of the images is quite large (some are over 5 MB!), being the price you pay for high-resolution images.   However, they take a long time to upload to the internet (as I need to do, for example, when inserting an image into this blog), so for everyday use, I have contented myself with a lesser size.

Another early impression was that  the battery life is pretty woeful.  The reviews had mentioned this, so it wasn't a surprise, but I had been living in hope.  Presumably use of the zoom in particular  shortens the time between re-charges.  I turned the GPS function off, but this didn't seem to make much difference.   I quickly got  a spare battery so that I'm not left short. This is a "compatible", which although it cost $30 is more reasonable that the Canon battery (nearly $80).   Even if it doesn't have the same capacity as a "genuine" battery (notwithstanding the sales talk when I bought it!), it ought to be sufficient to get through the rest of the day until I can re-charge.

I was interested to read a review in Choice magazine of various cameras in the category that I bought.  Isn't it so often the way - this information only comes to hand after you've made the purchase?     The one I bought was somewhere in the middle of the field.   One of the things I have noticed with my purchase is that the controls can be a bit "fiddly" at times, but I notice from Choice's review that none of the cameras in this category rate highly in this respect and that in fact my purchase is rated significantly higher than some of the others.

In hindsight, based on a combination of the features I was looking for and the price,  I think I would still have decided on this camera even if I had read the review before I bought it (although I am still waiting for the "cash-back"!)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The trail we leave......

I recently saw a note about a legal case where the employer suspected that an employee had misappropriated the employer's confidential information shortly before leaving.   For me, the interesting point that emerged was what computer experts who examined the various computers could find out.

This included:
-   that a work computer had had devices (such as a USB stick) attached to it, and the nature of the information that had been downloaded to these;
-   that file destruction applications (such as "File Shredder" and "CCleaner") had been run on the work computer and a home computer, and the date that this software had been run; and
-   various Google searches had been undertaken on a computer, including the exact nature of the enquiry (such as, "what happens if you don't comply with a Court order").

It all serves as a reminder that you leave quite a footprint when you use a computer, which can be brought to light if someone with sufficient expertise sets out to look for it - even though a person might take steps to cover their activities.    But, for what it's worth, it was stated that the use of the file shredding software meant that the emails which had been destroyed were, in fact, irretrievable on the computer - although since the authorities are said to receive information about all our activities on the internet, perhaps this information, too, is around somewhere (even if the recipient has also destroyed them).

Monday, 9 December 2013

Auctioning the manse.

While there are quite a lot of auctions at this time of year, a recent one in our area had some significance for a number of us.  It was the auction of the Church manse, sold by decree of the Synod in order to raise funds to pay off the debt resulting from the Acacia College debacle.  There have been a lot of reports about this, here's just one.  

Locally, as I've previously mentioned, the impact has been that the manse has been sold and it's planned that Church hall will be re-configured to provide accommodation for a couple of Church agencies (whose present accommodation is being sold).   Change is indeed upon us.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Roofing and marketing....???

I just don't get it.   We're still trying to get some routine maintenance done on our roof.   I've previously posted about the reputation that roof people have as being hard to tie down, but when a leaflet arrived in our letterbox from a roofing business, and specifically mentioned the type of work that we need, I thought I'd give them a ring.
When I made contact (just a day or so after the leaflet arrived), a time to come around and have a look was set up.   He wasn't entirely sure that he could make it, but if he couldn't, he'd let me know.

So, what happened?  Yes, a "no show".   No phone call before or since.

So, why spend money producing a quality leaflet, and then pay someone to put it in letterboxes in the area in which you're seeking work...and then not follow up at all on the leads that are generated?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Fund raising for........???

I have occasionally sent donations to an organisation the provides accommodation for the aged.   I admit that, deep down, part of the motive may be a feeling that it might not do any harm to be in their "good books" when the time comes....?   Or doesn't it work that way?   Be that as it may, I'm on their mailing list.
However, I was a bit taken aback by their latest appeal.   To provide emergency accommodation?  No.  To meet essential maintenance expenses?  No.  To provide iPads for residents.....YES.   No doubt a worthy cause, but even in this day and age, it hardly tugs at the heart-strings!  Perhaps it's designed to stir pangs of guilt in family members!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


I am once again indebted to Daniel Bowen's blog for the news that the "GPO" has shifted.  It's now further up Elizabeth Street (on the corner of Lonsdale Street).  Here's Australia Post's news about this change.

Interestingly, it's still called the "GPO", even though it's really just another retail post office.   To me, the expression "General" post office carries with it the implication that it's the main, or headquarters, post office, as distinct from other post offices which in some sense are "lesser".  Maybe, however, that's just me....?

Other machines accepted cards as well

I had a quick look around the new premises.  Notwithstanding the sign, I don't think there are going to be staff there 24/7, just machines.   However, we use ATMs and self-serve checkouts at the supermarket, so I don't suppose we can complain.   You can buy stamps and other items from a vending machine, and there's also a machine for weighing your letters and selling you the correct postage amount (as there have been in London for some time).  There are lockers for parcels, too,  but I assume you have to have been advised that there is something to collect.

The original GPO - much more impressive

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Blessed are Those who Thirst

The author, Anne Holt, is described on the cover as being "the Godmother of modern Norwegian crime fiction".  In an effort to diversify the range of crime writers that I read, I picked the book up in the library.

I guess any crime writing necessarily has to be about the characters involved as well as the crime, but in this book, the studies of the characters take precedence over the crime investigation, even though the murders are bizarre in the extreme.  The detective is in a long-term lesbian relationship but still struggles with "coming out", the murder victims are refugees, there's a sordid rape to complicate matters which sets the victim's father on the investigative trail thus complicating his relationship with his daughter and so it goes on. 

In short, I didn't warm to this book and I struggled to get through it.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Platform 11

An extra platform at Flinders Street station would be very useful, especially when things go wrong and trains queue up to get into the station (haven't we all been held up between Richmond and Flinders Street?)   There used to be a platform 11, the twin of 10, facing the river, which was used by St Kilda and Port Melbourne trains before these were converted to "light rail".    Now there's just a fence and a space on the other side where the rail track used to be.

Recently some activity has been occurring in this area, and there's a sign referring to a "riverside venue" being opened here!

Daniel Bowen has also commented on this, and addresses the issue that, although this might not be the best location for trains coming into Flnders Street from the east,  it could nevertheless provide additional flexibility.  This would especially be so when Showgrounds or Flemington Racecourse trains are operating.

Room for a rail track

But no, the powers-that-be have clearly determined that Melbourne has a greater need for another coffee venue than de-bugging the train system!
Old ticket windows at Elizabeth St entrance are also apparently to be re-cycled