Do What You Have To Do

Do what you have to do before you do what you want to do.

My Mother

This was a saying that Naomi and I frequently heard as children and teenagers. It was what Mum would say when she found me reading when I was supposed to be cleaning my room for example.

There is a certain amount of sense in what she said. We all have responsibilities that we have to fulfil and that’s what Mum was trying to teach us I guess.

However, in recent times it has occurred to Naomi and I that sometimes following Mum’s advice meant that we would often miss out on doing the things we wanted to do altogether.

Take housework, Mum would always do all the household chores, shopping etc before she allowed herself to sit down and relax with her favourite TV programs, reading or knitting. If she didn’t get to see “Days Of Our Lives” or “General Hospital” because she was too busy she would grouse about it but she still chose to miss out because she felt that the housework was more important. Would it really have hurt anyone if she’d sat down for an hour or two to watch them? Luckily the advent of VCR’s did help with that problem as long as one of us was around to record her programs for her.

Mum at home some time in the 1970s.

During the past winter, Naomi and I were often frustrated because the shorter, darker days made it difficult for us to do our hobbies late in the day. If I wanted to photograph dolls for our doll blog indoors I needed a good light and even the kitchen, the most well-lit room to work in, could be a bit too dark after three in the afternoon. Naomi had the same problem if she wanted to paint or draw. We decided that if we were going to enjoy our hobbies we were sometimes going to have to throw Mum’s rule out of the window. We’re not fanatical housekeepers although we don’t like things being dirty. We felt that as long as we kept on top of the chores it was fine to leave them if we wanted to spend time on our hobbies. As both of us were living alone and rarely had visitors it wasn’t going to inconvenience anyone else. Once we are moved in together full time we will negotiate what needs to be done urgently and who will do it.

Photography makes me happy.

This morning was the first day for about a week that it wasn’t raining or blowing a gale. I have a million boxes to unpack and chores like vacuuming to be done but I decided to take advantage of a patch of blue sky and sunshine and take Cindy to the beach. We had a nice long walk and it was just starting to spit as we headed for home. Now it is really windy again so if I’d waited till afternoon to take that walk it’s likely we would not have gone, certainly not for as long.

So I am sorry mum, but from now on apart from appointments that I must keep everything is negotiable.

Uluru

On Friday, 25 October 2019 Uluru was closed to climbers permanently. Tourists, both international and Australian have always considered the climb a bucket list item but the local Anangu people consider it a sacred place and have always asked that visitors do not climb.

In 1985 the lands surrounding Uluru, then more commonly known as Ayers Rock, were handed back to the Anangu people to administer. Climbing the rock was not immediately banned but over the past thirty-four years, they have tried to steer tourists into other activities. As time passed fewer tourists did make the ascent and it was agreed that when the number of tourists who were climbing dropped to less than 20% of visitors the climb would be closed permanently. The decision was made in 2017 and the date of closure was announced some months ago. Over the last few months, a lot of people have rushed to have a last chance to do the climb. Many people on social media have made scathing comments about it being disrespectful but it is what always happens when people realise they will only have a limited time to do something or see something. They want to be there, the last sailing of a ship, a last train journey, the last time in a favourite hotel. It’s human nature I guess. I can understand it.

Uluru in the distance
Our first glimpse. Photo David Jensen

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post or two David and I visited Uluru in the 1980s with a penfriend of mine from the USA. I think this was just before or around the time that the land was handed back to the Anangu community.

At that time tourists were requested not to climb the rock out of respect for the beliefs of the owners but it was not outright forbidden. My friend and I did climb it.

In hindsight, I don’t know why we did it except to say that we had done it because it was “a thing”. Perhaps it was to conquer our fears because both of us were afraid of falling. I didn’t intend disrespect to the indigenous owners but I knew very little about their culture and beliefs.

Uluru NT
Christie near Uluru

I suppose that I should say that I’m sorry I climbed but I’m afraid I can’t do that. It was a special experience to be there. I remember how I felt the age of my surroundings and how it felt calm and peaceful at the summit.

In recent years when the subject of closing the climb has come up, I’ve felt relieved that my ageing body would no longer allow me to climb safely even if I wanted to. I wouldn’t have to make the decision. But if I were suddenly granted the body of a twenty-something would I go? Probably not, I may not understand the reasons any better than I did then but ultimately I think I would respect the culture in the same way that I’d accept the rules of any religious structure I visited, covering my head, removing my shoes or whatever is asked.

37 people have died whilst climbing Uluru, many more have collapsed due to heat, dehydration or the exertion of climbing. As I said, I was in my twenties when we went and moderately fit. We saw much older people struggling to get up there. We also saw people who ran up. I believe people have taken bicycles up as well. It’s really not the safest place to be. On Friday morning it was very windy at Uluru and the rangers were obliged to delay opening the track for safety reasons causing a lot of consternation amongst the line of waiting visitors.

I have added some links to news articles about the closure below if anyone would like to read more about the subject.

Uluru photo was taken on holiday around the early-mid 1980s. I have cleaned the picture up a bit as there were a few dust spots but the colours are what I saw.

Further Reading:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-24/uluru-climb-closure-gives-voice-to-other-groups/11634498

https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/hundreds-queue-for-last-chance-to-climb-uluru-before-ban-is-enforced/news-story/0344f36da37867416d8685857bfc35d3

https://www.9news.com.au/national/surge-in-visitors-to-uluru-for-last-chance-to-climb-landmark-rock/59dc749c-7a1c-4dd4-a997-6e0dc225dfe0

House Moving Day

I thought that one of the neighbours at the back of my house must be getting some work done recently, there have been diggers there and one day, a cement mixer. Then last Friday I noticed a huge crane had arrived. It appears I am getting a new neighbour. The crane was lifting a house into place.

The houses directly at the back of me are all transportable homes and were put in about ten years ago now I think. The former owner of the land built this small subdivision consisting of six or eight house blocks behind us, built an access road, and we watched as fences went up and the houses arrived. Up until that time we had an old post and rail fence separating us from the empty paddocks. The developer discovered that part of our land belonged to him, there are a lot of dodgy property lines in Tasmania. We had to lose a couple of metres but he did not ask us to pay half the cost of the new fence so it didn’t work out too badly for us. I was happy to have a more secure fence and happy it was high enough that I could not see much of the ugly houses when they arrived. Honestly, the one directly at the back of me has to be one of the ugliest transportable houses I have ever seen.

The Scene in 2009

October 2019

I looked into the back yard soon after the crane arrived and realised that they were getting ready to lift the new house of the truck it had arrived on. I had plenty of time to get the camera.

I watched as the crane operators attached cables to the house and lifted it high to swing it into position.

I know it was the angle I was viewing from but it honestly looked as if the swinging house was going to hit the one next door to it.

Finally, the house was lowered into what seemed to be an odd position, slightly at an angle to its neighbours. Now it just has to be connected to services and the owners can move in.

Scottish Memories- Fort William to Inverness

This is another look back to a post from my early blogging days. On this day in 2014, I posted the third in a series of posts about our visit to Scotland in 1990. I have edited it slightly but it more or less as I wrote it at the time. I don’t think it is likely that I will ever visit the UK again but when I dream of places I would like to see again Scotland is always one of them.


This is the last post about our trip to Scotland in 1990. We were only there a week. How I wish we’d had longer. I guess that’s why I’m so attracted to television programs and films set in Scotland. Not “Braveheart” though. Too bloodthirsty. I preferred “Local Hero”. On television I liked “Shetland”, “Hamish McBeth”, “Taggart” and “Takin’ Over the Asylum” (even before I’d ever heard of David Tennant).

Our train is delayed.
Our train is delayed.

The last leg of our journey was partly based on “Confessions of a Train Spotter” an episode of  the BBC television series “Great Railway Journeys”. The narrator of this episode was Michael Palin and I sometimes wonder if it was this program that started him on his career as a globetrotting documentary maker. In this episode he travelled from London to the west coast of Scotland by train ending his journey at Kyle of Localsh. We loved the scenery so much that when we planned our trip we decided that we wanted to see the West Highland line and Kyle of Localsh too.

Fort William

Loch Linnhe near Fort William

By Nilfanion (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

First we travelled from Glasgow to Fort William which is on the shore of Loch Linnhe, a large sea loch on the west coast. That journey was very scenic and we didn’t even mind the signal failure that delayed us en route. Our “Let’s Go” guide book described Fort William as being a climbing centre for nearby Ben Nevis and rather a boring town but we really liked it. One day while we waiting at the railway station  I saw a railway cleaner washing a carriage on the platform . Cleaning trains was my job in Adelaide at the time and I often did exactly the same job myself. I remember thinking that it would be nice if I could exchange jobs with that person for a while and stay in Fort William for longer.

We had been staying in youth hostels for a couple of weeks so in Fort William we treated ourselves to a bed and breakfast place. There were a few other guests who we met at breakfast the next day. A lady who had just returned from a trip on a sail training vessel which we saw in the loch later and another Australian couple who were a bit younger than us. I’m sure most people know about the concept of “Six degrees of separation”. Well we had that experience. We chatted to this young couple and it turned out that they were from South Australia like us and they lived in a nearby suburb. But the best part of the story happened more than a year later back in Australia. One day when David was on the train home from work, he met the guy who we’d met in Fort William and discovered that he and his wife had moved to our suburb. What are the odds of that?

Loch Linnhe at Fort William.
Loch Linnhe at Fort William.
Sail training ship on Loch Linnhe
Sail training ship on Loch Linnhe

At Fort William we had haggis for the first time; we liked it. We had plunger coffee for the first time at the cafe in the Mountain Shop which probably started our coffee addiction.  We had a huge pot of it for a Scottish “poond”. We walked 3 miles from the town to the beginning of the path to Ben Nevis.  Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland at 1344m (4,406 ft). We had no intention of climbing the mountain although many do, we knew our limitations even in those days. The photo that David took of me at Glen Nevis is one of my favourites and that day was one of the best of our entire trip for me.

Near Ben Nevis
Near Ben Nevis
On the slopes of Ben Nevis pretending to be a mountain climber.
On the slopes of Ben Nevis pretending to be a mountain climber.

We also went on a bus tour to Glen Coe scene of the infamous massacre of the McDonald Clan by the Campbell’s. Our guide, if I remember correctly, said that the historical facts of the massacre were not quite the same as popular history suggests. Of course he may have been a Campbell himself ! However there has certainly been a lot written on the subject, some of it factual and some not so much. I did have to agree with our guide that the scenery alone is worth going there for whatever the truth of what happened is.

The West Highland Railway

Another highlight was the train journey from Fort William to Mallaig on the West Highland line. In summer you can ride a steam train on that route but we were too early in the season. However it didn’t matter. It was another day of beautiful views and impressive railway engineering. In particular the fabulous Glen Finnan Viaduct. You can’t actually appreciate how amazing this is when you are on it as well as you can in this photograph.

Glenfinnan Viaduct.jpg
Glenfinnan Viaduct” by de:Benutzer:Nicolas17 – Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Mallaig is a fishing port and we enjoyed wandering around the town for a few hours. The fishing boats were very picturesque. I would have liked to have taken a ferry to Skye from there. It’s certainly a place I would love to visit again.

Fishing boats at Mallaig
Fishing boats at Mallaig
Fishing Boats at Mallaig
Fishing Boats at Mallaig

Kyle of Localsh

Our journey to Kyle of Localsh from Fort William was an anti climax in some ways as we had to take a bus, a very crowded bus, which we were obliged to stand up on for most of the journey. As I am short that meant that I was not able to see very much of the scenery.

At that time there was no bridge to connect the town with the Isle of Skye so we took the short ferry trip across to Kyleakin, so that we could say that we had been “Over the sea to Skye”. The bridge was opened in 1995 and it is now free to use, initially it charged a toll which became a contentious issue for local people, so much so that many refused to pay it. The toll was removed in 2004. We took a photograph of the Kyle of Localsh Station sign but unlike Michael Palin we didn’t take a replica home with us. Nor did we sample the variety of malt whiskies served at the nearby Localsh Hotel. Instead we continued our journey by train on another scenic route, the line to Inverness.

Kyle of Localsh Station
Kyle of Localsh Station

Wick

At Inverness we stayed at a small hotel popular with rail enthusiasts. I had found the address in one of David’s rail magazines. They were happy to leave breakfast supplies outside our door when we chose to go out early in the morning on a day trip to Wick. We were a bit surprised that they left toast though. I hadn’t realised that in parts of the UK people ate cold toast.

Wick and Thurso are as far as you can go by train in the UK. We chose Wick as our destination for a day outing. Wick is a fishing port and once again I was captivated by the fishing boats. Wick was originally a Viking settlement and it would have been interesting to spend more time exploring the area which has ruins, walks and wildlife to see. I think a car would have been handy up here though.

Fishing boat at Wick
Fishing boat at Wick
Fishing boat at Wick
Fishing boat at Wick

Loch Ness

We couldn’t leave Inverness without travelling to nearby Loch Ness. We took a local bus to visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle. We also visited a local museum which had a lot of information about the loch and the various expeditions that had been made to try to find the elusive Loch Ness Monster. I have to say that on the day that we were there we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. There have been a lot of hoaxes over the years and I think that I would be sorry in a way if scientists were able to prove or disprove that there was a creature living in Loch Ness. The mystery of it is part of the attraction. Either way tourist operators and businesses in the region have done well out of “Nessie”. 

We watched the movie “Loch Ness”  released in 1996 which starred Ted Danson. It wasn’t a brilliant movie, we watched it for the scenery really, but we did like the ending where Nessie is left in peace. I thought the castle ruins were very atmospheric and I liked hearing the piper who was playing there the day we visited.

Ruins of Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness
Ruins of Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness
Urquhart Castle ruins
The ruins of Urquhart Castle from above
The Piper
Piper at Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

We left Inverness finally and took the train all the way back to London and then on to Bexhill-on-Sea to spend Easter before travelling around southern England and North Wales. As you can tell from how much I have written twenty-five years have not made me forget how much I loved being in Scotland and I’d go again in a heartbeat if I could.

 

Further Reading:

http://www.electricscotland.com/books/paterson/glencoe.htm – The Massacre at Glencoe

http://www.seat61.com/WestHighlandLine.htm#Fort%20William%20to%20Mallaig – The Man in Seat 61 blog

http://www.lochalsh.co.uk/skye_bridge.shtml – Skye Bridge story

http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index.htm

Beijing 4 June 1989

tank-man-tiananmen 1989

I read that in China today many young people have never seen this famous photograph taken in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government has edited it out of existence.

That sounds very Orwellian to me so even though I don’t suppose anyone in China will see it here it is again. My photo of Tiananmen Square was taken just a few months later in March 1990.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/thirty-years-on-how-the-tiananmen-square-massacre-unfolded

It’s Raining Again

It has rained every day this week and the next few days are looking no better. There has been no opportunity to go anywhere except to the Op Shop and yesterday out for a meal with friends. As I’m having trouble thinking about what to write about I thought it would be interesting to go back to June 2013 and see what I was writing about back then. What do you know? I was writing about the weather. I had just started joining in with the Daily Prompt and this one was about rain. It is interesting to look back considering that since I wrote this we’ve had drought conditions again and the terrible bushfires last summer.

Singing In The Rain

When I think of these words I immediately think of the famous scene in the movie of the same name where Gene Kelly dances in the pouring rain. It’s a catchy song but I have to say that on the few occasions I’ve been caught in a rainstorm and soaked to the skin I did not feel in the least like singing and dancing. Squelching along with sodden shoes and wet clothes sticking to you is no fun, especially if you know you have an hour long bus ride home to endure before you can get out of them. I can remember two or three occasions when it has happened to me and most of them seem to involve rained out sporting events.

However, I do enjoy listening to the rain when I’m snug and cosy at home.  It feels good to be in a warm room or a warm bed listening to the rain thundering on the galvanised iron roof.

“It’s really coming down out there.” David and I used to say to each other.

“I’m glad we’re not out in it.”

Of course, there is more than just being grateful for our good fortune in having a roof over our heads.  After a hot dry summer, it is wonderful to see how everything turns green again after a good rain.

Many people think that it rains all the time in Tasmania and parts of it are quite wet at times, but Hobart itself is the second driest capital city in Australia. Adelaide, where we used to live,  is the driest.

image topiary group by dry lake.
Lakeside Topiary group, July 2008

image topiary group by lake.
Topiary Group December 2009

There were drought conditions here for some years in the mid-2000s and the Midlands and east coast of Tasmania really suffered. Farmers had to put stock down because there was no feed. Lake Dulverton at Oatlands dried up completely. I was told that years ago they used to have sailing and even speed boat racing on Lake Dulverton, I have walked around the lake and seen the remains of moorings. There was even a sailing club and the building is still there. That year the lake itself reminded me of the cover of the Midnight Oil album “Red Sails In The Sunset” which showed Sydney Harbour with no water.

It would have made a great dirt bike track at that time.

image dry lake & sign
What Water?

Finally, there came a wet winter, it rained and rained. Gradually the lake filled and finally, in spring of 2009 it was full for the first time in many years. I remember visiting the lake around this time and seeing people rowing and fishing on the lake. That did make me feel like singing.

So even though I curse it when I get caught in it or when David used to spatter the washing with mud with his car or I fell over in the garden I really do love the rain because it brings new life.

image fisherman
Fisherman December 2009