Thursday, November 30, 2017

Computer fixing

I got very little work done this morning as Shane the computer man came to give the computer an oil and grease. Everything seems to be okay post-fix. We had minestrone for lunch and P. had leftovers for dinner while I went off to join the old Penguinis for dinner. The group was Bryony, Roseanne, Lou, Jackie, Ann and Andrew, plus me. We had a very good mag and a good meal. Roll on next year.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Productive morning

Not only did I do my Luminosity brain training this morning (though I'm still not up to my best score) and two Spanish online lessons (I am supposedly 14% fluent in Spanish; believe that and you'll believe anything) but I did significant work on the remaining novel. I now have a novel and an autobiography to edit, but neither is very difficult as both are very good. There are a few tricky questions but both should be ready by Christmas. I also made French onion soup for lunch and f'rafter. Off to Chocolate Buddha in Fed. Square in the evening for an excellent dinner, then to the Song Company program at the Deakin Edge. It was an interesting recreation of the pageant of the company of shearmen and tailors in Coventry along with old and new 'Christmas' songs with an interesting emphasis on refugees and their parallel with the 'holy' family.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Medical morning

This morning, I headed off early to see Genie the Nephrologist. My blood tests were 'perfect', so P.'s kidney is doing its job very well. Genie okayed my innoculations for South America and will do her yellow fever letter when I see her in March. I then picked my microphenelate (sp?) and tacrolimus from the hospital pharmacy. I'll have to work out how long they will all last. Then I got my nose Flo powder from the commercial pharmacy at the hospital, then visited the Health Centre pharmacy to get more pills. All of this medical supplies carry-on prevented me from doing any work so far but at least I read a lot of my Griffith Review while waiting. On the way home, I got some quiches for dinner to have with our minestrone.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Work and Tracker

I did lots of work this morning and have nearly cleared all the reports. Now I only have the edits on one novel and one autobiography and not too much pressure on either. Early this evening, I went to the launch of Alexis Wright's new book, 'Tracker', about Tracker Tilmouth, whom I was fortunate enough to have met once. It was also announced that Alexis has been appointed as Professor of Australian Literature under the Wiley Bequest at Melbourne Uni. It has to go to an Australian writer. Bravo!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday lunch

This morning, I got up early and went to Smurf Street to get baguettes for lunch, the paper for the crossword and, in vain, some krupuks for the gado-gado. In the end, we had nearly a full complement for the Kelly lunch which went very well, I think. We had leftovers for dinner.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Working and cooking

This morning after a quick peruse of the Saturday Paper, I tried my best and did a fair bit of work. Unfortunately, one of the novels has returned, so I now have two novels for report, one for editing and an autobiography for editing. Ah well! After fish cakes for lunch, I'm making a frittata for the Kelly lunch tomorrow. P. is making the gado-gado and we're having leftovers for dinner to make room in the fridge, though I doubt we'll have enough impact to make significant space.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Shopping plus a bit of work

This morning, P. and I picked up Franz but not Frank, who was busy, and went to Victoria Gardens where we did a super-efficient shop preparatory to hosting the Liz Kelly lunch on Sunday. Home again for quiches for lunch from Herpes Headquarters (Glaxo Smith Kline) across Johnston Street near where Franz lives. In the afternoon, P. made a superb minestrone which we had for dinner, followed by baby cheeses.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Vampires plus plus

This morning, I got up early and headed for the Club (Royal Melbourne), visited the vampires who were very efficient and left a scrip to pick up next Tuesday at the pharmacy to avoid the long wait. Then I went to the magicbank in Lygon St and got Parisienne Pates quiches for lunch. Then to the Health Centre for another scrip and I managed to see Dr Jessie to renew some other scrips and do some preliminary stuff for a later appointment about innoculations for South America. A busy morning followed by a bit of work. P. and I went in the evening for a good meal at the Malthouse, then a very good performance by Pamela Rabe in a rather obvious and tedious play by Colm Toibin, The Testament of Mary, which quite predictably tells us what the real Mary might have been like (or not).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Getting productive

Today I succeeded in getting a deal of work done, partly because the computer repairer forgot to arrive to give my machine an oil and grease. He's coming next Thursday now, if he doesn't forget again. We had soup for lunch. In the evening, P. made a Brahimi recipe for roast chook. It wasn't very different from St Stephanie's but was a lot more trouble. It was delicious, but never again.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Work getting somewhere

Yesterday (Monday) and today, I have finally made some progress and got a couple of things off my desk. Now I just have one novel for report (a hard one), one novel for editing and one autobiography for editing. It's a lot but manageable. P. went to town to have lunch with Robin S. Last night, P. and I met my sister Julie for a quick meal at Yoyogi then we went to the Recital Centre for the Australian String Quartet who performed works by Scarlatti, Bartok and Beethoven. It was a very good concert and also good to have a catch-up with my sister. Strangely, when we got home the ABC was screening Scott Hicks excellent film about the quartet (among other things), Highly Strung, so I stayed up far too late to watch it. P. wisely went to bed. This morning, it was back to the desk while P. went off to Noel T.'s to help him out. In the early evening, we went to the Recital Centre for a wonderful concert in the Salon, booked out. It was Ludovico's Band supplemented by the Consort of Melbourne doing two pieces by Monteverdi, beautifully played and sung, and after doing it at six, they did it again at eight. Frank came back to our place for Vera Bolognese and baby cheeses.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Shopping and Grotesque Opera

Yesterday (Saturday) we picked up Franz and Frank and went to Victoria Gardens for normal shopping. After that we dropped Frank and went home for soup for lunch. Then into town to the Athenaeum for the opera, Roberto Devereux, presented by the increasingly impressive Melbourne Opera with a bravura performance as Elizabeth 1 by Helena Dix in a powerful and grotesque showing. All the other principals were good, but the opera is spectacular but means no more than a hill of beans. Both the Victorian Opera and Melbourne Opera show that you can present good opera with lower production values at a lower price than companies which aim for lavish spectacle as a substitute for interest. (Hear that AO?) Home for oysters and fish soup and a night of drama and detectives. Today (Sunday) was a normal morning with the Sunday crossword and a bit of work. In the afternoon, P. and I went to the Recital Centre for a Melbourne Chamber Orchestra concert with Shane Chen as the violin soloist. It was all works related to or by Tchaikovsky and was most enjoyable. Home for leftover risotto and spinach for dinner plus a very affecting concert by Paul Kelly and Co. at the Opera House in Sydney. Thank God for the ABC as no one else would do something as culturally significant as this. And Linda and Vika Bull were superb.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Work and Bohemia

Yesterday (Thursday), I did a fair bit of work but not enough. We had leftover lamb for lunch with Greek salad, then in the early evening went to the Recital Centre for the every-reliable Latitude 37. They did a program of 17th century Bohemian music which feature von Biber, a composer of great excellence. They had recruited Lucina Moon as their second violin as most of the pieces were virtuoso for two violins variously tuned. It was a gratifying concert. Home again for leftover bolognese from the freezer. Today I have valiantly tried to increase my output but still have not done enough. Ex-wife Tricia is coming for dinner as she is in town visiting her brother in hospital (he is okay it seems). I put together a first course of soto ayam (dependable) and a second course of spring vegetable risotto (experimental via Matthew Evans) which worked well. P. did dessert of ice cream and raspberies.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Very dreary Musica Viva

Yesterday (Tuesday), I did some more work in the morning. Just as well, as things are pouring in at present. I now have on my table three autobiographies, two novels and two short stories, all of them active to a greater or lesser degree. There is not a 'set and forget' among them. I'll just have to knuckle down post-holiday to get them all done. Also, yesterday morning, we were visited by Barry D. who stayed for some French onion soup for lunch. He is dealing with the aftermath of the de-bagging saga which seems to know no end and no limit for police vindictiveness against Barry and The Age for daring to report the truth. He was followed by Helen S. whom I haven't seen for ages. It was good to catch up and talk over some contractual matters affecting her. We joined Frank for a good meal at Yoyogi, then went to Musica Viva at the Recital Centre. Rachel Polger and the Orchestra of the Enlightenment played works by Mozart, JC Bach and Haydn very well. However, it was a very dull program and I couldn't help feeling that I was listening to a good CD and when I played it again it would be exactly the same. I suspect I was overstimulated by the Plex Concert the previous evening. This morning I resumed work though didn't get as far as I would have liked. I'll try again later, after a nap. Peter made a very good chicken curry for dinner and another novel turned up for report. I'll have to get busy tomorrow morning.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tidying up and work then musique moderne

Yesterday (Sunday), I nearly finished all of the tidying up after the holiday. P. made a delicious butterflied lamb with Greek salad and creamed potatoes which Frank joined us for. Today, I got on with the work things left over: autobiographies 2 and 3, plus novel no. 2 (which mercifully I only have to report on, not edit). After an arvo nap, P. and I went to the Salon where Plexus did an intriguing program which included three world premieres by Christian O'Brien, Christine McCombe and Brenton Broadstock plus Debora Cheetham singing a new arrangement for quintet of Strauss' Four Last Songs. All of the premieres were splendid as was an 'old' work by Bright Sheng, Tibetan Dance (2000). The whole program was very impressive and worked extremely well. It was very stimulating. Home for leftovers.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

History walk and Robyn Archer

Still tidying up after our trip this morning (see below for blogging on the trip). Sally S. dropped by to say hello. We had tomato soup for lunch then went to the famous Collingwood history walk, organised by the incredibly creative Janet and Karen and others. This time was around the old Collingwood Tech., now the Contemporary Arts Precinct, with highlights including a visit to the old building before it is done up with CEO Marcus Westbury of Newcastle fame, a wonderful old bluestone double cottage in Napoleon Street and numerous old shops and factories. We repaired to the Robbie Burns for some drinks and tapas before heading to the Arts Centre for dessert at Barre. We then saw Robyn Archer and friends (piano and accordion) do French cabaret songs in the Playhouse. It was a great concert full of life and verve.

The Indian Pacific and Adelaide (briefly)

Early on Sunday, we caught the Indian Pacific, our home for the next two nights. The 'gold' cabins are a little squeezy but adequate. It was an interesting experience with good food on the whole, under difficult circumstances (smallish kitchens having to serve a lot of passengers quickly and still give us a choice). The night tour of Kalgoorlie/Boulder was less than impressive though the Nullarbor breakfast at Rawlinna and the stop in the middle of nowhere at Cook were both quite interesting. The views of the Nullarbor from the train were amazing. The sense of space in land and sky were breathtaking. We arrived in Adelaide around 8am and got to our hotel around 9.30am where, to our surprise, we got an early check-in. We then hiked off to the art gallery which was good value with good representation of women artists and had a coffee with Jill Walsh, whom we haven't seen for years. We lunched at the Museum, as the gallery was too noisy and busy. We had an outstanding dinner at Shubosho, a sort of western-fusion Japanese eatery near the hotel. Next morning, Wednesday, we went to two galleries at the University of SA, the Samstag which had a very interesting exhibition of Asian art and the Packer Gallery which had a show of illustrators trained at the university. We then visited the suburb of Marino to see author Betty Snowden and her husband Dave, who are building a large extension on to a house overlooking the sea. We lunched at a nearby cafe overlooking the sea as well, then went on a tour of the area. In the evening, we went to the airport for a very bogan dinner at the Cooper's Alehouse. There is not a lot of choice at the Adelaide airport. It was very welcome arriving home after an invigorating holiday.


On Friday, the guesthouse provided a do-it-yourself breakfast then we visited author, Gus Henderson, who has a debilitating disease. His wife, Jeni, is a stalwart carer as well as working. They are very nice people and it will be good finishing off his novel with him and his PhD supervisor at Edith Cowan. We then went to the Dolphin Discovery Centre where the dolphins were not playing ball and coming in to the shore. We saw a large lobster in a tank! On the way back to Perth, along the Old Coast Road, we went to Yalgorup National Park with superb coastal scenery and at last found some wildlife, thrombolites, prehistoric beasties which survive in the lakes. Unfortunately they just look like rocks. We got back to Perth after two traffic jams on the 'free'ways just in time. We had a good meal at Jaws Japanese Train around the corner. Next day, Saturday, we caught the train the Fremantle where we went to the very interesting Roundhouse, an old prison and then to the less interesting Maritime Museum which mostly seemed to strip items of context. We had a magnificent prawn lunch with avocado dip at a Bottega in the main drag, then retired to our hotel for a nap. We then had a very good Thai dinner at a restaurant strip around the corner which we discovered too late.

Margaret River

On Wednesday, after having a nourishing breakfast at the guesthouse we took the recommendations of our hosts and went for a good but not outstanding lunch at Waterford Wines, then went and bought a few bottles at the Brown Hill Winery, a boutique winery nearby. We then went to an old homestead, Ellenbrook, the oldest in the area (called Modidup in Noongar) which was unfortunately not open but could be viewed from outside as it was under renovation. It has a superb view over the sea. Nearby is the Meekadarribeg trail which leads to a small waterfall feeding the creek. We went back to the guesthouse which was superbly equipped and very friendly. They even provided cakes for arvo tea. Unfortunately, we failed to find the touted gastronomic delights of Margaret River. On our first night there, we had a fairly ordinary dinner at an eatery called Goodfellows. On the second night, we had an excellent tapas-style meal at a bar/eatery called Elkano which semi-redeemed the place, but the area is not dripping in what look to be mouth-watering watering-holes. On Thursday, we rejoined Caves Road and visited the very fine Canal Rocks along the way and then went to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, at the other end of the Cape-to-Cape Road. We did a 2km walk around the lighthouse and spied a couple of whales spouting in the ocean. There were also lots of flowers along the route. We went on to Dunsborough with pies for lunch then joined a whaling tour. In spite of the best efforts of the crew, we only saw a few whales and calves, none of them very close. Them's the breaks. We drove on to Bunbury though the Tuart Forest National Park. In spite of so many national parks, my ability to distinguish tuarts, karris, jarrahs etc. has not been enhanced. We arrived at our Bunbury B&B which was very comfy (like the Margaret River one).

Magnificent parks

On Monday, we left Pemberton and went to the Warren River National Park. There is a very pretty drive there along the Heartbreak drive trail which in places looks over the Warren River. There is also the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree which has spikes driven into it so that, if you are brave enough, which we weren't, you can climb to 40 metres above the ground. A bit further on is the Beedelup National Park with a splendid waterfall and suspension bridge. We failed to identify the promised rare snottle gobble tree. We drove on to the little seaside town of Augusta where we stayed at the bog ordinary Georgiana Molloy Motel. Pickings for dinner were meagre so we had simple Nepalese/Himalayan curries (I kid you not) in preference to mediocre fish and chips, which was all that was on offer otherwise. Next morning, Tuesday, we went to the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, the largest on the Australian mainland on the south-west tip of the country. There was a good commentary and signage and we put our toe into the start of the Cape-to-Cape walk which we got to the end of in a couple of days. We then drove up the Caves Road to the Jewel Cave which was quite impressive in spite of having a zillion steps. Off then to the splendid Margaret River Guest House for two nights.

Giants of the Forest and coastal delights

On Saturday, we drove to the West Cape Howe National Park not far from Albany. We went to Shelley Beach, a rather windswept but spectacular place. The park is very beautiful though camping near the beach is not for the fainthearted. Some hardy souls had set up a tent completed unsheltered from the gales. We then went on to Denmark where we had a good trendy lunch worthy of Fitzroy and went on the Scotsdale Tourist Drive through more forest and some wineries. We then did one of the highlights of the trip: the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk among the high Tingle trees (yes, we had never heard of them either), then at ground level followed the Ancient Empire Walk along past 400-year-old trees with their knobbly growths and cave-like hollows. We arrived at the Tree Top Motel in Walpole where we had a simple dinner. Next day, Sunday, we went on a local drive to a lookout over the Walpole inlets, into the forest to the circular pool on the Walpole River which is both serene and spectacular. We lunched in Northcliffe,the most basic on our trip, a pie and hamburger. Being posted as a teacher to the Northcliffe High School would be a real hardship post. Then, we took the appropriately named Windy Harbour Road to the spectacular D'Entrecastaux National Park with its magnificent coastline. We didn't spot southern right whales from the Tookalup Lookout, but the views were sensational as were the wildflowers. We stayed overnight at the Pemberton Old Picture Theatre Apartments, a converted old cinema hall with beautiful timber panelling. We dined at the pub (in Pemberton there are not a lot of choices) where I indulged in delicious local marron. Unfortunately, there was also a gargantuan serve of not-very-good salad to go with it.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Stirling National Park

The next day (Wednesday), we headed for the Stirling Range National Park. On the way, we went through Cranbrook, which had a short 2km nature walk through bushland which had lots of wildflowers including some tiny orchids. The park itself was splendid, like a garden, and the Stirling Range Drive had magnificent views and stopping spots. We then went to Bluff Knoll, and though we didn't walk to the top (very gruelling), we viewed it from the parking area, then retired to our rather quaint Dutch-style house for the night in a place with a genuine Dutch reproduction windmill. We made our own dinner from supplies we got in Katanning. We went on the next day (Thursday) to Albany (with a short A). From there we went south to the Torndirrup National Park on the coast where there is a fascinating old whaling station We would have gone to the nearby Botanic Gardens except the rain came down in buckets so we retired to our accommodation, a bog-ordinary but quite comfy motel in town. We had an unusually flash dinner at the Liberte Restaurant in the London Hotel. Sadly, the denizens of Albany seemed not to agree as there was not much patronage, except at the Irish band next door. The next day (Friday) back to the Gardens but the weather was still foul (we were warned about Albany weather by Ing's husband, Orly) so we retired to the National Anzac Centre and perused their expensive offerings (the whole deal cost about $11 million, a hefty piece of pork-barreling for Albany) then had a good lunch at their cafe. The centre was predictably opened by a triumvirate of tories, Tony Abbott, Colin Barnett and John Keys for the New Zilanders. In the evening, we had a good Indian meal near our motel.

Back of beyond

On Tuesday, we picked up our Corolla, nicknamed Francine, after Franz from Trenerry Crescent in Abbotsford, and headed off towards Katanning, a fairly backblocksy town over 250 km. from Perth. On the way, we passed the famous Bibullman Track which we crisscrossed throughout our tour. I christened it the Bibbulbum Track. We stopped past Bannister for a visit to the Crossman Reserve where we saw our first real wildflowers though nothing compared to what was to come. Then we had lunch at Williams, at a pleasant cafe. We drove to the old town of Woodanilling then on to Kattanning. Our B&B there was a bit squeezy but adequate, though the three crucifixes were a little intimidating. We didn't combust in the night. Our host gave us a good tip. On Tuesday nights, they have a diner at the saleyards (the biggest covered saleyards in the southern hemisphere). The cooks were like old-fashioned shearers' cooks, serving up huge meals, but very tasty ones at very reasonable prices. The wife of the house served a very fine breakfast midst tales of southern Africa, where they are from.

Today and backwards

This morning, P. and I picked up our old friend, Franz, and headed to Victoria Gardens to stock up on food after our holiday. There wasn't much rancid in the fridge but a bit had to be thrown out. We were a bit less than three weeks after we headed to Perth via Virgin which was boring but okay. We caught a cab to our hotel which was spacious but basic and adequate in a good location on Adelaide Terrace. We went off to the art gallery using the excellent Perth shuttle service which is free. The gallery has good representation of Indigenous art and local WA artists. There was also a special exhibition of Heath Ledger artefacts for local fans. There was much more about Ledger than I needed to know. We went back to the hotel, thence to an eatery in Mount Lawley called the Dainty Dowager which was not bad. Then we went to the famed WAPA for a double-bill opera program, believe it or not, of Mozart's The Impresario and Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tiresias. They were energetic performances which worked in the Poulenc but which didn't in the Mozart where attempts to bring it up to date failed. Musically the singers and the band worked well in both pieces. Next day, we had the adequate breakfast at the hotel and found our way (via two cab rides) to Zamia's eatery in King's Park where we met up with Ing Nellie and her husband Ron Hall (Orly) and her niece, her co-author Margaret O'Brien and were joined by Rachel B-S. We had a good lunch and chat. It was good to meet the people I have been working with on Ing's autobiography. Then we joined Rachel and Matt and their four sons for dinner at Chutney Mary's, an Indian joint in Subiaco. It was very good to catch up after such a time. Next day we were picked up early for a tour north of Perth to a wildlife park (so the foreign tourists could be photographed with kangas, koalas and wombats), then to the Pinnacles Desert which is a very impressive National Park. Beforehand, we had lunch at Cervantes where we paid the supplement for a lobster upgrade. It was a very long trip home after a busy day. Next, into the wilds.

Back home

We got back home again last night from Adelaide after our 18-day adventure in the west. Most of today was spent on the administrative tidy-up which still is not finished after such a time away. Tonight we made up for our (nearly) musical desert while away by going to the Recital Centre for a concert followed by a visit to Yoyogi for a cheap and cheerful meal. The excellent concert was pianist and composer, Joe Chindamo, and violinist, Zoe Black, playing works by Debussy, Schnittke and Chindamo himself. More to come in subsequent posts about our travels which were very successful.