Thursday, 31 October 2013

Renewing Myki

When I tried to"touch off", the Myki reader flashed a message at me.  I'm still not certain what it said, because it flashed up and went so quickly.    A different Myki reader operated normally, but I wondered if the message had something to do with the fact that my Myki card might be getting close to the end of its 4 year life.  It doesn't seem to have been that long, but I checked on the top-up machine, and yes, it was indeed due to expire in a couple of weeks time.

I paused to reflect on the fact that our London Oyster cards had worked without a hitch recently, more 5 years after they had last been used (and in one case, probably about 6 years since it had been first issued).   However, I suppose banks re-issue cards regularly, so I guess Myki isn't alone in having a drop-dead date.

So I headed to the ticket office, where the Myki was changed over without problems, although they pointed out that the new one wouldn't have my name on it (if I wanted that, I had to go to Southern Cross).  I didn't see this as an issue, although hopefully this won't give rise to issues when the ticket checkers look at it.  The Myki money balance was transferred  over, too.   Later in the day, I received an email confirming that the transaction had occurred, and all seemed fine, save that it stated, "If auto-top up was set up on the old Myki you will need to set it up again on the new Myki. Auto top-up arrangements are not transferred to replacement Mykis."   Once again, this isn't an issue for me, but I can see that it could be a little annoying for some people.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


I guess advertisements in and around public transport vehicles is nothing new.   When I was young, there were neat rows of advertisements lining the ceilings of trams, and in frames on the walls at the end of the red rattler carriages (although I preferred the photos of scenic locations that were also placed there). 

Now we see the outside of some trains featuring prominent advertisements, but once again this has been happening on the trams for years.  

However, advertisements covering the inside of the train doors seem be a relatively recent development.   Perhaps the logic is that you really do have to look at the door at least for a short time during each journey?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


One local restaurant closes and within weeks is replaced by another.    Mediterranean is replaced by Thai "fusion".    The fit-out has obviously cost a heap, and the enthusiasm is readily apparent.  The food has nice flavours and is well-presented, although for some reason, one dish seemed a little on the sweet side.   Licensed to sell wine, but the BYO permit hasn't arrived yet.  It occurred to us that since we couldn't drink from our own bottle, it might have been a nice gesture if the glass of wine we bought had been filled a splash or so above the line, rather than only to the bottom edge!  There's an eftpos sign on the window, but that, too, isn't functioning yet, so cash only please.

So our niggles are only minor, but, hey, you've chosen to open in an area that's over-supplied with middle of the range restaurants.  Maybe we'll be back if the mood takes us, but really you haven't made out a compelling reason for us to return to you in the near future as opposed to eating at any of the numerous other places in the vicinity.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Moonee Valley

I had never been to Moonee Valley, but headed out to the racecourse for a function.   It was the Manikato Stakes evening (not an event that I knew existed, but apparently that just reveals my ignorance).  Since 2009, this has been on the eve of the Cox Plate.  We were in the Saintly Suite, which was very nice indeed, thank you:  lots of staff to serve drinks and food, a private TAB desk and a great view of the home straight, although the actual finish line was a little to our right (but still visible)

It was an evening meeting, and the crowd outside seemed to have plenty of room to move about in (I've since read that this is one of MV's attractions).  The space under the stand is a bit of a barn, but functional.   I went by train, but got a lift home - there seemed to be an enormous amount of parking space, which wasn't full on the evening we were there.

Not too crowded
Financially?    I lost a little money early in the evening, so gave up and concentrated on food and conversation instead, with the result that it was a satisfactory evening!

Friday, 25 October 2013


We appear to have reach new heights in our area with the dumping of rubbish, more of it, more often.  This big pile has been there for days, and it's obvious where it came from.  

The council apparently regards it as "too hard" to stop these situations from arising, such as by issuing a fine.   Eventually they come around and take it away (as the person who put it there desires).  I wonder if the delay in doing anything about this pile is a conscious effort to shame the obvious source?

Thursday, 24 October 2013


It"s amazing what a difference a bit of mulch makes.   The weeds got away from us while we were travelling, so we called in some garden maintenance people. They pulled out the weeds, then wheelbarrows of mulch all looks better.  Hopefully a few centimetres of mulch will slow the weeds' re-growth?


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A chook stamp?

I was fascinated to receive a stamp featuring a chook at the post office.   Perhaps "chook" isn't the internationally-favoured word, as I see Wikipedia states it's mainly used in Australia and New Zealand (although sometimes also in Britain).   However, it's the term I was brought up with, and I see that even Australia Post uses it (see line 3 of their blurb).

But I digress!    My point is merely that it's an interesting subject for a stamp.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Como Gardens

The weather was perfect and it was open day at Como Gardens at The Patch, so we headed up.  This privately-owned property houses historic gardens, a magnificent collection of vintage cars and a lot more.

The collection of vintage cars is said to be Australia's finest private collection of antique cars and auto memorabilia, and the garden has many bulbs, azaleas, magnolias and camellias.  It hosts two collections of plants, magnolia and prunus, which are registered with the Garden Plant Conservation Association.  In addition to a lake and a ride-on railway, there are wetlands, a forest walk, a stream (apparently containing platypus, but we didn't see any) and much more.

The funds raised from open days are all donated to the SES and St John's Ambulance.


Monday, 21 October 2013


I had never seen Carousel, so was unaware of the story line, hence when we saw it at Babirra, it was all new to me.  I'm still coming to grips with the story which "deals with domestic violence, death, regret, life-altering decisions and hope for the future",   but of course the songs are good and some of them are excellent.    And, as someone said, you don't go to a musical in order to think about the deep and meaningful.  You go to enjoy the show, and in this respect,  as in the past, the Babirra production was just terrific.

The cast of 34, plus orchestra, was great.  The singing was strong (especially, I thought, Allie Sutherland as Julie Jordan), the choreography seemed to be spot on and costumes were wonderful.  

Friday, 18 October 2013


We've got a number of insurance policies. For historical reasons, our home buildings and contents policies are separate.   Then there are cars and a couple of others.

In recent times, I have taken to obtaining an on-line quote every time an insurance renewal notice arrives.    I haven't kept all the details, but my estimation is that on over 75% of cases, it has been cheaper to change insurers instead of paying the premium asked for the renewal.   I realise that this is "churn", and if the difference was minor, I wouldn't do it (in the hope that if I make a claim, my "loyalty" will count for something) - but often the difference is significant (over $100 or more).

I guess this is all about the operation of the free market, but it does seem to me that anyone without internet access  is at a disadvantage.  I also wonder why insurers seem to prefer new business to renewals.     And I don't like to think how things would work if a person had a bad claims history.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Fine Print

I received an offer for a credit card through the mail.  The covering letter pointed out that cardholders were entitled to "a domestic complimentary return flight every year".   It went on to say "....there are no hidden fees or charges.  If the seat is available, you can book it." 

But when is a seat "available"?    Note the careful language:  it doesn't state "...if there's a seat on the plane"!    I only fully appreciated this aspect when I read the (very) fine print, which some way into a very dense block of text contained words to the effect that the seats are "restricted to selected classes" and that "some flights may not have any seats available".  In other words, there's a quota.    But obviously that's not the impression that the statement seeks to create.

I then looked for the cost of this card.    It was only set out in the "grey on grey" (hence, very hard to read) slip of paper supposedly complying with the credit disclosure guidelines.

Needless to say, I'm not signing up.  

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


There are quite a few callistemons in this area, and one in particular is looking really good at present.  However, those in our garden seem to be lagging behind.  The honey eaters enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Picket fences

Spot the difference?  It's plastic!
There are lots of picket fences in our area - but one is different!

One of many conventional wooden fences!

All made of wood....

.....and so are these.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Sisters

We went to the picnic day at the Orthodox Christian Mission Sisterhood of St John The Eleimon.  Yes, the name's a handful, but this is a group of women of the Greek Orthodox tradition who run an extremely active charitable program supporting needy people both around Melbourne and overseas (mainly within the Orthodox tradition).  They run an Op shop, and here's an article about them.

Their base is out past Gisborne, where they have a few acres.  There's a small chapel and facilities (including three big ovens!) to provide food and (if necessary) shelter for the literally hundreds of people who were there on the day.  The picnic day when we attended was in honour of their Saint, St John the Eleimon (the Merciful), even though his normal feast day is in a few weeks time.  Sister Joanna who is apparently in charge is a ball of energy:  she is busy all day, welcoming everyone, overseeing all that's going on and running the charity auction.

A group of us attended and the weather was great.    Lots of the activity is in Greek, but enough was in English for our group to work out that one of us had won a prize in the raffle! 

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Uniting Church

The Uniting Church's financial issues - and the proposed response - has been getting some media attention.

How all this (the so-called "Acacia College" issue) arose - and the failure of anyone to accept responsibility - is still an issue for me. The Moderator says there's no single person or group to be blame for this.  Maybe, but this hasn't prevented the consequences being felt far and wide.  At Armadale, we're impacted because some of the Parish's property is to be sold (although not the Church itself), and it looks as though we're going to have to share the Church complex with an agency (some of whose property is being sold).

Yes, I'm doing my best to be generous of spirit, but........

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Prince Harry's Beret

Did you notice that, when he was here, no matter what uniform Prince Harry was wearing, the beret was the same:    the Army Air Corps' sky blue beret?
Got one here in the cupboard, dating from a long-gone era! (But not everyone is/was a pilot, of course).

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Informing train passengers

It's long been a gripe of mine that Metro's information displays aren't too good.   Yes, in places they're OK,such as the displays at Richmond that (usually) give clear information about the next trains direct to Flinders Street and around the Loop (at least, until a train is changed to go direct to Flinders Street).   But there's nothing at Flinders Street to tell you where to go to for the next train to Southern Cross (or around the loop), and the displays at other stations often leave a lot to be desired.
But the French have, what is in my view, close to the ultimate answer.    Apparently they figure that passengers aren't really interested in what any particular train is going to do.   All the passenger wants to know is, where and when will the next train depart for the station that he or she wants to get to.  What does it matter where the train might eventually end up?   Interesting for the railway, maybe, but not really what the passenger needs to know.
So, I was most interested to see at Saint-Lazare (Paris) screens that listed all the stations in the Ile de France region served from that station (nearly 90), with details of the next 2 trains to that station along with the journey time.

The traditional type of displays were also there, so that passengers who wanted more information could look at them, too.
At the platform - details for the particular train

Details of all departures

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Commemorating the Navy

We watched on TV the impressive displays that took place in Sydney commemorating the centenary of the Australian Navy's entry into Sydney Harbour. (not the centenary of the RAN, even though I saw a couple of news report state this was the case).
The identification of this particular event as being worthy of commemoration may lie in the fact that the timing (and location?) was convenient, rather than it being of any more significance than other events in the history of the RAN!   However, I guess we ought not be churlish about that!
Nevertheless,  let's not forget that there were colonial navies in the era before Federation.  A reminder of this is the anchor and swivel of HMVS Nelson, now located on the foreshore at Williamstown.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Daylight saving

I'm all for daylight saving, but the timing of the switch-over this year was a little unfortunate so far as I was concerned.     We had arrived back from Europe the previous day, so I was severely jet-lagged  (as always happens to me when travelling from west to east).   But then to compound the issue with a further one hour time change a day later..... I wondered if my body clock woud ever fully adjust!

I guess it could have been worse - for example, if I had over-looked that daylight saving was about to start!