Monday, July 22, 2024

I cannot be the only one…

 … Who doesn’t give two hoots the Olympics.

Is this unpatriotic?

Is this Un Australian?

Is this a character flaw?

I have a funny feeling. I’ll be watching a lot of Netflix over the next couple of weeks.

And it’s not that I don’t wonder at the scale of the people participating. What some of these people do is amazing, however, I have the following issues with the Olympics, particularly from an Australian perspective.

Firstly, so much money gets put into getting our team to wherever they’re going, to win medals. That money could be put too much better things. Australia is always seen to be punching above its weight, but participation Getting people prepared for the Olympics that of Russia or China. Think about it.

Secondly, I don’t like that. You only see snippets of everything. It used to be that you could watch all of the swimming, or all of the dressage etc etc. Now you’re just getting into it and it changes onto something that you don’t want to watch on the telly. 

Sod that.

Thirdly, get pissed off with this fixation medals. Isn’t the Olympics about participation, As an amateur, in your favourite sport? Why is obtaining medals so freaking important. 

This is not to detract from other people getting enjoyment from the Olympics. I'm sure if they had channels for just diving gymnastics and dressage I'd happily watch along. I find athletics and swimming rather boring - I mean, just running around a track or doing laps really fast,

I have a friend heading to Paris to support one of our marathon runners. Good on her, I say. I believe her friend is in with a change of a medal. I understand what it is to support your friends.

But I will be watching a lot of Netflix over the next few weeks. It's unpatriotic and un-Australian, but it's how I feel. 

Today's song:

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Sunday Stealing: Time Capsules

 I am just back from two days away from Darwin. My colleague EH and I drove down to Mataranka and Nitmiluk (Katherine) to bear witness to the amazing natural beauty of the place. And because of this, I am currently very, very tired - and a little bit sunburned. Oh well. 

Quetions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing Sunday Stealing

1.  What would you put in a time capsule?

I really don't have any idea. I did see a video about them opening a time capsule from the 1970s which was filled with all sorts of unmentionables. I worry that if I put things in a time capsule, that would happen. (This probably only works for the Brits - the Plastic Mancunian understands.)

2.  What’s something you’re really good at?

I'm pretty good at knitting, writing stroppy letters, thinking my way out of problems and ironing. 

3.  What part of society would you like to change?

Everything. I'd like to get rid of the rich/poor and the class divides. It's so harmful. We could also get rid of the patriarchy and right-wing politics. That too would help a lot. 

4.  What have you eaten in the past 24 hours?

Crap. EH and I only got back to Darwin a few hours ago, but we had a sensible hotel breakfast in Katherine, a muffin and a coffee at Nitmiluk, I had a fish burger and chips at Pine Creek, and some salad and a little bit of ice cream for dinner. 

5.  What is an unusual fact about you?

I'm a practicing witch. That unusual enough? I am a white witch. No cursing or doing harm. 

6.  Do you collect anything?

Not really, but I do like it when people bring me back small elephants from countries which have elephants. 

7.  Have you played sports?

I do gym a lot, and I love exercising, but I've never played team sports. Unless you count pool. I love playing pool.

8.  What is your favorite blog?

The Plastic Mancunian. I have to admit, I don't read many blogs. 

9.  Ketchup vs. mustard?

Both. But I put tomato sauce (ketchup) on lots of things. I love all sorts of different mustards, like Dijon, seedy, Hot English, Horseradish... We don't really use American Yellow Mustard around here. I like the French style mustard used at IKEA. 

10.  Do you believe in ghosts or aliens?

I have a healthy belief that both ghosts and aliens exist, but they probably don't come in the way we think. The universe is too big to have this planet as the only inhabited one. And I've been around too many ghosts not to believe in them. 

11.  The last movie you saw in a theater.

Oh, that was Yorgos Lanthimos's Kinds of Kindness. I normally love his work, but I really didn't gel with this. It was VERY dark. 

12.  The silliest thing you have done this week.

Doing a 800 kilometre round trip road trip was pretty silly - but very rewarding. But now I'm really tired. 

13.  Have you ever done anything illegal?

Yes, but I've never been caught. Other than the odd speeding ticket, I did live in England without a visa for six years. But I paid my taxes and National Insurance.... swings and roundabouts. 

14.  What would you wish for right now?

World Peace. A kinder, gentler, less selfish society. 

15.  What shoes do you wear the most of?

As I am currently in Darwin, I'm living in Birkenstocks. In Melbourne, as it is in the middle of Winter, I live in Chelsea boots and Ugg Boots and trainers, but here, in the heat, it's sturdy sandals. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Notes from the Road

 Today’s road trip took us from Batchelor, down to Mataranka, and back up to Katherine. It’s been a fantastic day.

After EH picked me up at Wolf Creek Batchelor, at 7 a.m, we high-tailed tailed it out of this rather strange place, deciding breakfast in Adelaide River would be a good thing to do. It turned out to be a great idea. The roadhouse made an excellent egg and bacon pie and cup of coffee.

Note on getting a cup of coffee in outback Australia. Don’t try and be flash. When I asked for a coffee I asked for a standard skinny flat white hoping that my request for skinny milk be accepted. I explained that I was a Melbourne wanker and normally had an almond decaf latte. The lady behind the counter thought this was the funniest thing she had heard all day. The Melbourne wanker thing, not the skinny milk. Turns out they had soy and almond milk in this cafe. Well flash . (In Darwin, they punch above their weight when it comes to coffee).

People are very chatty out of Darwin. You don’t quite know what to make of it, but EH and I decided to run with it. Thankfully, the locals are friendly.

We had a few dramas with the music. Once again, being out of the metropolitan area, the is rather patchy.When trying to play music from my phone into the car, we found that we only had four songs able to be played. Now, I love the song Overkill, and the three Paul Simon songs are excellent, but after the second listen, you want to throw the phone out of the window. Once we got to Pine Creek, we downloaded a lot more music thanks to a working Telstra network.. EH has been subjected to my encyclopedic knowledge of 1980s music most of the day. I still don’t know how he didn’t  know about The Violent Femmes … or The Pogues… And he’s been submitted to a lot of very bizarre music trivia, but that’s one of the joys of going on a road trip with me.

The hybrid RAV4 we’ve hired, an upgrade from something small and tinny, is an excellent car, even if the start-up process is rather annoying.

Our main place to visit today was Mataranka, and the thermal springs. I can safely stay that this bucket list item has been knocked off. We spent about an hour in the pools floating around on pool noodles, chatting to other people, who have mistaken us for a couple and for grey nomads. I find this quite scary but dealing with it. The pool noodles were liberated from a manager’s office in Darwin. I will be returning them before he misses them. EH didn’t know why we should bring them, but they were excellent. He sees just how good these silly pieces of plastic really are. When you are walking around these hot, every has pool noodles.

My Darwin friend, Liz, told us that we had to visit Bitter Springs, Which is just the Darwin side of Mataranka. These pools were just as the thermal pools, however they were larger, and there was a current that could take you to another part of the complex, all the time on your noodle. Utterly glorious.I wish we had factored in more time there.

And now we are in Katherine. The Knotts Crossing Resort is a huge upgrade from where we were staying at Wolf Creek oops, Batchelor. The sheets, for one, are a lovely soft cotton. The rooms are old red brick, not a shipping container converted into a cabin. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable. The restaurant at the resort is very good. We tried crocodile spring rolls for a starter taste like a bit a mix of fish and chicken. 

And there is internet!

Tomorrow, we go on a boat cruise of Nitmiluk Gorge, then meander our way back to Darwin, stopping in at Edith Falls and Pine Creek on the way home.

I had forgotten how much I love road trips.

Today’s song:


I am travelling with my workmate this weekend, who I’m going to call, EH. 

We’ve been planning this trip for a month as we are travelling for the next two days, saying “my colleague ,my colleague “ over time will get repetitive. Therefore, I am breaking my strict rule of not mentioning  colleagues by name. EH often reads this blog, so he’ll hopefully be cool with this. 

Anyway, I am currently in what feels like a converted shipping container, which probably was converted in around 1973, lying under what can only be described as polycotton sheets, which are a fetching shade of elephant shit brown.

I’m located about 10 km from the township of Batchelor. There is next to no Internet which means I’m writing this on my notepad and I’ll put it into the block tomorrow morning when I’m on the road and there is Internet again.

Going bush reminds you of how reliant you are on the Internet.

Then again, we have come all this way only need to find one of the biggest computer crashes has occurred. After picking up the car we tried to find supplies. We took our trusty Toyota Rav-4 down the track (the Stuart Highway) stopping off at a shopping centre on the edge of Darwin. There was a big Coles there. Only to find nearly everything shut. The computer shut down had completely decimated the place. Not so strangely, the bottle shop was open where we could get some water, paid by cash of course. There was also a Thai. Food place open. It was a very good decision to grab some food there. It was alright. Not the pub dinner I was expecting.

Bachelor is an interesting place. EH and I reckon it is the town in which Wolf Creek was based. We turned up at my camping ground just before eight the fellow was quite adamant that he texted me asking where I was the only thing is that the Internet, being so patchy on the track, meant I didn’t get his message. Regardless, I was settled  into my little cabin, with its own bathroom. Despite the 1970s decor and the ageing fittings, the place was spotlessly clean and the shower was really good. I can’t complain.

EH was staying in another part of town, at another holiday park. His reception was far scarier than mine. He picked me up at seven this morning, and looked a little rattled.

But I’m not sure about the point of this, other than to say that I want to say, other than I am on a road trip with a colleague, and we’re having a really great time. I’ll post the highlights in my next blog post.

By then, the duelling banjos might have stopped in my head.

Today’s song:

Thursday, July 18, 2024

War Games

The walk was needed. From the hotel, around the back to the Waterfront, up past the Deckchair Cinema, which I was tempted to stay for their showing of The Motive and the Cue, then around to Bicentennial Park for the sunset, a stop at Subway for a quick and easy dinner, then back to the hotel before the real dark had set in. A nice hour loop around the city, my audiobook in my ears. After the day spent at the call centre it was bliss. 

The alternative was to go with my colleagues to this event called Pitch Black at Mindil Beach. The evening event had the participating military flying squadrons doing a fly past the beach. As there are international military games going on all around Darwin over the next few weeks, this is their big showcase, with the participating militaries showing off their hardware. 

For me, it was a matter of crowds and noise - no thanks. You can't go to everything, and I wanted to go for a walk. By myself. Without five thousand of my best mates gawping at the big birds as they flew past.

But if you want to see what was on offer, here's a link to the livestream.  Exercise Pitch Black 24 | Mindil Beach Flying Display Livestream ✈ - YouTube

Also, just wandering around the Waterfront, I got to see the planes as they flew back to base. Big, noisy, fast war planes. 

As I walked down to the Waterfront, I got a great view of some of the planes. Something stirred in my belly. 

We live in a peaceable country in peaceable times. 

Maybe it's because I'm reading a lot about World War Two at the moment, but I found the drone of the planes unsettling. 

As much as I know that these planes are here for practices, and games and show, there is a darker, more sinister reason for them being here.

These planes aren't going to drop bombs on Darwin, or hopefully anywhere in the near future, but this is not to say that they don't have the potential to do so. 

And it might be a spectacular sight to see all of these planes fly by, but I'm glad I got my necessary evening of solitude, avoiding the drone of the machines as they flew off into the horizon. 

Today's song:


For Darwin, this is a first. 

I'm cold. 

I don't get cold normally. I rather like feeling a bit cold. But not up here. 

It's the windchill factor. It got to about 28 degrees today, but there was a stiff breeze, making it feel cooler. It's supposed to get down to 13 degrees tonight. Positively Antarctic for up here - and I'm getting why they're saying it's horrible cold up here. 

As usual, I went for a dip after work. I stayed in about fifteen minutes, but with the pool being in the shade for most of the day, and the wind chill factor, and the fact that Territorians don't heat their swimming pools, it was bloody cold. On getting out, I listened to my colleagues count the clothes horses on the balconies that overlook the area. Oh, the fun we have. 

But I'm cold. 

Tonight, I chose to hibernate - have some leftover salad from last night's family dinner and get reading my book group book. I also found The Talented Mr Ripley and Heathers playing on SBS World Movies, so there way my night sorted. 

But I've put an extra blanket on the bed. 

And turned the ceiling fans right down.

And turned up the air conditioning a couple of degrees (normally it's as low as I can get it)

And put on the hoodie that I brought up to wear when I get off the plane in Melbourne next week. 

And still, I'm feeling a bit chilly. 

I get what my local colleagues are telling me about it being "cold". 

The stupid thing is back home in Melbourne, in the middle of winter, I wander around in thongs and Birkenstocks and a t-shirt and I feel nothing. I don't feel the cold in Melbourne. 

This is a very strange feeling. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The Knitting Lesson

 I'm teaching a colleague how to knit. 

To me, knitting is an extension of myself. I've been doing it since I was child. I've been knitting myself jumpers and other things since I was a teenager. I can do cables, and lace patterns at a push - although I can't be asked to do things like Fair Isle - that's a bit too much for my head. 

Regardless, tonight, at family dinner, I sat down with my colleague on another colleague's balcony (because it was family dinner night - where we get a chook bag, some salad and other bits and pieces and wash it down with a gin and tonic in somebody’s apartment) and started them on the process. 

Anybody who's learned to knit knows you have to start easily. There was no way I was going to bamboozle them with learning how to cast on or do purl stitch. For the moment, we'll stick to the plain old knit stitch. Purl will come in a few weeks. First we’ll let their hands get used to the yarn and the needles. 

I cast on 20 stitches of the chunky wool onto a set of bigger needles - 5 mm needles. Not too big, not too small. Then, I did a couple of rows to start them off. As any knitter knows, the first few rows is when you find your feet, but you have to find your tension. 

Then came the instruction part. 

"First, it's about relaxing your hands. In your left hand, hold the needle with the work on it. In your right, hold the knitting needle like a pen. I'll teach you about wool tension in a bit. But do try to relax your hands. "

They did as I instructed. 

"Now, let's make a stitch. It's in three parts. It's a crime scene."

"What?" They were bemused. Knitting seems like such a calm and placid hobby.

"Well, first you stab it, then you strangle it, then you loop the noose."

"What are you talking about?"

I thought this was an ingenious way to teach somebody to knit. 

"I'll show you."

I took up my own knitting. 

"First you stab it." I hooked the first stitch onto the empty needle. 

"Then you strangle it. Wrap the wool around the needle from the back." I demonstrated. They copied my example. 

"Then you loop the noose." The new stitch was formed on the needle. 

"Then you repeat. And repeat. Until the end of the row."

I watched as they concentrated making the stitches. "Stab it, strangle it, loop the noose." I heard them mutter under their breath.

We knitted, while chatting with our other colleague, and having a gin and tonic, and watching the sunset over Cullen Bay. 

"It gets easier. This is all muscle memory."

"I can see that. You don't even look at what you're doing."

"I do sometimes. I watch and count when I do cables. It's like a meditation."

"Is that why you knit in meetings? » 

"Partly. It's fun to attend meetings when you're knitting. Nobody has to know that in your head you're repeating the words, "Stab it, strangle it, loop the noose..."

Today's song: