Holiday Car Hassles

My old friend from primary school, Edmond, and I are in the midst of a two-month house swap. We came up with this as a solution to our mutual need for a holiday somewhere far from home – that’s Scotland for me, and here in Australia for him. So here I am in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, waiting to hear back from Edmond about getting his car to start.

It looks for all the world like he hasn’t bothered to have this pile of junk serviced for years. He told me he drove a good car, but all I’ve gotten out of it so far is one problem after another. Now the danged thing is refusing to start, and I want him to give me the okay on taking it to a car mechanic for repairs. Ringwood, fortunately, has car service centres and also decent public transport options, so I should be able to manage the whole thing with a minimum of fuss.

I just need Edmond to tell me if he’s an RACV member before I hook this up – if he is, I might be able to get a free towing service or something. I mean, ideally, I’d love it if Edmond could send me some cash the fund the whole business, but I’m a realist – judging by the state of the car, I won’t be too surprised if I’m left holding the bill for this one.

Maybe I should just do the guy a solid and cough up for his car service. Ringwood residents out there: any recommendations for the best mechanic in town? That can be his birthday present taken care of for the next three years or so. And it would be less stressful than waiting for him to respond to my email.

I do love Edmond, even though he drives me crazy. That’s another reason to book his car in for a service, I suppose – it’s not like he’s going to get the brake pad replacement he needs off his own dime.

Dad Wants A Boat

It was bound to happen at some point. We’ve always lived close to the ocean and dad’s been fishing for as long as I can remember, although mum insists that he took it up when I was seven (who knows – maybe he was doing it in secret before then). Anyway, now that he’s retired, he’s starting to get serious about cobbling some kind of custom water-faring vehicle together.

We all think he should just buy one, seeing as he has zero mechanical experience, but dad claims it’s in his Viking blood to create one from scratch. I really feel strongly that he should at least consult with a professional marine fabrication specialist in Melbourne next time he can tear himself away from his beloved shack on the coast. This thing needs to be seaworthy!

Honestly, I think the real reason dad is so keen to create this thing himself is that there’s a bunch of custom features he wants, and he’s concerned that he won’t get all of them if he buys a boat ‘off the rack’. I’m talking things like bait boards, snapper racks and bow rails – it’s all completely alien to me (I’ve never been interested in fishing), but he’s super pumped about it.

What dad doesn’t seem to realise is that a professional boat fabricator will obviously be capable of putting together a custom fishing rod holder. The other thing he doesn’t seem to be acknowledging is that he doesn’t know how to weld. Not to say that he couldn’t learn – I have no doubt he could pick it up in due course – but I’m just not sure that a seafaring boat should be his first DIY project.

Having said all that, it’s great that dad has such an ambitious hobby to get fired up about. I wasn’t sure how he’d go when he retired from finance three years ago, but he’s proven himself to be quite the fisherman. Maybe I should trust him on this. Still, I think some support from a pro wouldn’t go astray.

Work Stress? Not Right Now

I’m okay with work stress. We just had a seminar- pretty considerate for where I work, let me tell you- where a motivational speaker taught us to recognise the seven signs of stress. Not sure I needed it, but at the same time, I was in the room with people who were getting stressed at the thought of remembering all seven signs. And then the concept of forgetting even one of them set some folks on edge. I guess it was helpful for them.

I just think I’ve always been naturally chilled. Mum had a few mental health issues after my brother was born (and if you met my brother, you’d understand). She went on a sort of…’family-sponsored’ holiday to Mornington. I think she might’ve been hooked up with a Mornington professional psychiatrist, just to make sure she was working through everything. But still, I don’t know if I’d count that as mental health being in the family. Pregnancy can bring all sorts of strange problems, both physical and otherwise.

See, with how much I work and the stress I’m under, you’d think I’d be a wreck by now, and they’d be shipping ME off for some psychiatric treatment. Or at least I’d want to lie on a sofa and talk about my problems. But…I’m not, and I don’t.  I just take things as they come, I suppose. I don’t mean it as an insult to people who go and see psychologists or anything. Some people are just born to cope with the many and varied stresses of life, and some people need a bit of help.

And here’s me with sixteen reports due, meetings all of tomorrow and a conference call after work with Lawrence Corp. They always go for ages, so I’m not getting anything done in the evening…

Case in point. Maybe I feel fine, but actually, I need a visit to a well-known Mornington psychologist where I can iron out my trials and tribulations in therapy. Who knows? I’m not the professional.


Rocky Start to DIY Driveway

Did you know that the Vikings used to grind the bones of their enemies for use in creating lovely crushed-gravel driveways?

That’s not true. But did you know that 60% of internet facts are total made up? I totally made that up, but the important thing is that it COULD be true, and it does seem to be the case. Honestly, the things people will believe just because they read it online…it’s astounding. Like how fifteen gallons of water are used in the creation of one pint of beer. I thought that one had been debunked in the late nineties, but it still endures among the gullible.

Case in point: my next door neighbour, Ian. Ian is getting on a bit in years, bless his soul, but he had his grandson set up an internet connection, and now he’s paranoid beyond belief. I just had a driveway put in- one of those nice ones with crushed rock, from a place in Cranbourne no less- and I saw Ian outside collecting his post. He’s not too mobile so it takes him a while, but he’s also fiercely independent so he won’t accept help. I asked him what he thought of my new crushed driveway- he’s usually so keen on DIY projects and home affairs- and he said it made him sad to think of all the cows who gave their lives for the cause. Apparently, he read somewhere that crushed rock driveways are actually created with 60% rock and 40% animal bones. It’s how the charnel industry stays afloat, so he said: sneaky backroom deals with aggregate companies.

I would’ve thought the charnel industry stays afloat by providing us with meat- which is still in pretty high demand, so far as I know- but Ian was adamant that my driveway was a carpet of animal cruelty.

Actually, genuinely unbelievable. I mean, that wouldn’t even work. Bone would turn to powder as soon as it gets driven upon. And I know the people who do crushed rock driveways in Cranbourne; they’re reputable and not quite so underhanded. Then again, I did just get a lecture from Ian about postmen, and how 70% of them are culled from the ranks of former arson prisoners. I want to know which site he’s using for these statistics, because it sounds like a hoot.


Cooking, for Party Fun and Education

There really shouldn’t be an art to making a good cup of tea, but alas, this is where we find ourselves. I know we’re in Australia, and we don’t have half the tea culture of some other cultures, but…come ON. We’re not talking about lobster carbonara here. This isn’t a delicate operation where adding the ingredient at the wrong time leads to total culinary failure. Bag + hot water = brew. Good grief.

It’s getting to the point where I think this stuff needs to be taught in schools. Or really, anywhere children gather. I take mine down to the local indoor play centre in Bundoora, and while it’s great that they’re climbing and getting all their energy out, I’d also like to see culinary lessons. The very basics, obviously, but that’s not to say the basics aren’t important. If schools aren’t going to teach kids how to make tea, cook al dente spaghetti or brown chicken without burning it to a crisp, then who? Parents are stressed out enough as it is without all that stuff added on. I’m just saying, we take our kids to a play centre to stimulate them, both physically and intellectually. They learn maths and science at school, so a bit of food technology wouldn’t go awry. Maybe there can be classes atop the gigantic, castle-shaped climbing frame. That would add in an element of adventure.

And then I had the idea of a cookery *party*. All you’d have to do is frame the whole thing as fun and interactive, and you could have a whole party where kids have a good time AND learn the basics, so they can at least cook for themselves in later life. Or, potentially, if I ask my daughter to make me a cup of tea, she can do it…properly. Just saying, if there was a kids party venue close to Melbourne that offered such a service, people would be ALL over it.


Christmas At the Play Centre!

Indoor play centres are great, but there’s one thing that would just make them better: Christmas celebrations.

I’m talking an entire centre that can be hired out for a massive Christmas party, either for kids or…maybe for adults, I don’t know. I saw an idea for it recently, some guy saying we needed to reclaim our childhood. Not sure how I feel about that, and also not too sure of what would happen if our entire office went to a huge play centre for our annual Christmas party. I can see half of us really getting into it. Beats ice skating. Why do we keep going ice skating?

Uh, anyway…I like the idea of a Christmas thing, for the kids. I’ve been looking around Jandakot for a highly rated kids party venue, and I’ve isolated several possibilities. Well, a few…it’s not a massive place. Honestly, I don’t think Jandakot does Christmas very well. We don’t have any fireworks, or Christmas markets. I know it’s sunny in this hemisphere, but come ON. You have to try just a little bit. That’s why I think we need to make children’s Christmas parties a big deal. Kids are the ones who retain that sense of Christmas fun, you know? They get excited, in the way that we all wish we could get excited. They keep the magic alive. I’d love yearly Christmas parties to be a big deal, with the play centres being decorated , someone dressing up as Santa, music, adults invited to maybe eat mince pies and mulled wine/juice while the festivities are going on.

Honestly, I think it could work. The kids could transfer all that joy over to us joyless adults. I just need to find a birthday party venue. The best in Jandakot! Actually, we’ll need a few…got to fit everyone in. And then, it’ll be just like Charles Dickens, and how he saved Christmas. Or was that the Brunch? Who saved Christmas again…?


The Advantage of High Quality Windows

This summer is set to be one of the hottest on record, as well as one of the most picturesque. You can help take advantage of all that view by making sure your windows are up to the task this Summer. Both window repairs and replacements are something that can and should be done in the lead up to Summer, to ensure that you and your home is well prepared. Some homes do better with these changes than others, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Window seals that have deteriorated over time or are damaged will not block out the heat like they should.

The best candidate for window repairs or replacements are older houses. One of the major problems that older houses face, compared to newer houses is that the wear and tear tends to be greater, and the overall maintenance costs tend to run a little higher. This can be avoided in part, thanks to repairs and replacements that can get rid of the old and bring in the new. This is especially true for things like windows, which in older houses, can tend to break. It’s simply a matter of newer technologies outclassing older ones, and newer window replacements in Melbourne outclassing older ones.

Windows that are both high quality and long lasting don’t have to be too hard to find, not if you know the right place to look. The first thing to do is go online, to look for the best rated and most trusted timber window installers Melbourne has to offer. Then speak with a qualified and experienced professional in the field for more information regarding your home specifically. Once you have that, you can work together to implement an effective replacement or repair strategy.

Getting ready for the big day, as well as the big summer ahead of us, can simply be a matter of finding the right place to get your windows from.

Bring Out Yer Dead (Trees)

We finally bought a property! It’s in the perfect forest-edge location and has all the right zoning for the type of build we have in mind. It does have a couple of drawbacks, though, that need to be dealt with before we can get started. For starters, the main point of vehicle entry is blocked by a huge dead tree. Seriously, this thing is a monster – by far the biggest trunk of any tree on the property and, yes, it’s still standing.

It’s definitely dead, according to my dad, who’s a retired horticulturist. It very much looks that way as well. Most of the branches have fallen off, there’s no green in sight and the trunk has gone a fair way in the direction of rotting out. Add to that the fact that it’s blocking the property’s critical entry and exit point, and it seems there’s no other option than to have the remains removed. We had this done once in Perth, but I don’t know of any tree removal companies for Melbourne suburbs yet.

Come to think of it, we should probably have an arborist assess the tree situation on this property in general. There are quite a lot of trees on it, and most of them aren’t small. It would be good to map out if any of them are likely to interfere – or, rather, to be interfered with – by our building, either now or down the track. I’m sure whichever tree removalists we recruit will be up for doing some trimming while they’re at it. Feed me your Melbourne tree trimming and pruning recommendations.

I suppose this is the thing about living in a tree-dense area – you actually have to think about how the beautifully established trees (and the dead ones) on your new property are going to affect your safety. I mean, there are bushfires to think about as well. But it’s worth dealing with this to wake up surrounded by these tall friends.

Sport, Without That Cumbersome Gravity

The time-honoured profession of sport must be preserved; that much is extremely clear. To lose such an art would be a tragedy. The long-range communications team is still working on broadcasting signals from the Earth to the Moon, so that we can watch the grand final, but our glorious leader recently suggested that it may not be necessary. Our glorious new kingdom will soon have its OWN grand final, and we won’t need anything from the planet below. Still, we shall see, and it is something to build up to.

For now, I must organise the procuring of sports items, with netting being a top-tier item. And I’ll tell you why! It’s because of the moon. Specifically, the fact that we want to organise zero-gravity events, and obviously some quality sports netting is required to stop the ball from going straight into the cosmos. We’re going to rig the netting so that it forms a perfect dome of sorts, thus making it so that we can play sports on the surface of the moon and add an extra dynamic experience never before seen on Earth. Sports nets are going to be essential if this is going to work. In fact, it would be impossible to replicate this is any other environment. This will be the first of many things that our new kingdom will do far better than the one we left behind. The planned list is (preferably in this order) democracy, coffee, sport, cybernetic augmentation, keeping bananas from going brown, figuring out why hitting your funny bone makes your arm feel so weird, tracksuits that don’t look tacky and truffles. We shall grow such truffles, they shall be admired throughout the galaxy. But first I need to source some quality cricket netting. It NEEDS to be quality; the alternative is a single good swing sending a precious resource into deep space. I wonder if we can get make cricket nets made out of a Kevlar weave.


Boat-Wreck Television, Seriously

Sooner or later, the people on this show are going to have to complete a task with actual lives at stake. Like, they’ll get them to take on the jobs of window-cleaners for a skyscraper, and two candidates will die in the attempt and ‘Jack of All Trades’ is going to be cancelled right there and then.

But until that happy day, I’m stuck watching this thing under duress because my GF loves it and wants to turn every night it’s on into an event. Whatever…at least they were working on boats in this episode, which is my own area of expertise. I love a good bit of boat tinkering, which made it all the more cringe-inducing when people fluffed it up. I KNOW people in the Melbourne outboard motor servicing industry. Some of them might even have been there, watching this happen. Probably the worst thing was when Moira thought she could just chuck away the whole engine and start again from scratch, putting an engine into a rowboat that was about six-times too powerful for the model. Like…wow, just THINK. Even if you know nothing about the subject matter, you should know that the motor is far too big for the boat. It practically sank the thing as she was trying to install it.

And then Giles! Man, GILES, I would give him a slap across the face if he tried to suggest that he could service my boat. No technical expertise, but he talks like he’s some kind of mechanical genius who knows boating inside and out. At least he shut up after he accidentally dropped the anchor winch into the sea.

These people…I just…honestly, I’m glad there was a professional there who knew outboard motor repair. Melbourne’s reputation hasn’t been damaged by the show. And the worst thing? I have to keep watching. I’m invested in these stupid people and their stupid lives, and there’s no getting free.