Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spice Racks can be Expensive ......

When we were at Ziegler Parade, I attached a couple of racks to the inside of the pantry door.  Robbie found this to be an invaluable aid and was impressed with the pure artistry & professionalism of my work.

Well, we've been in the new house for a while, and just last night she said "I think I'd like to have spice racks in the pantry, you know, just like at Ziegler Parade".  So, today, the shopping trip was on, but it seems like spice racks are hard to come by.

Went to a few places - no luck.  Finished at Bunnings (now they would HAVE to have them).  Still no luck.  But all was not lost, for we did come away with something that could be hot (just like many spices) but certainly not suitable for mounting on the inside of the pantry door.

Turned out to be an expensive trip for something so simple.  Still, the sunroom has certainly been "spiced up".  We even had to have a couple (okay, three or four, but who's counting?) drinks out there just to check it out.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Continuously Sunnyside Up - At Last .........

Have finally finished off a couple of projects that we were keen to do in the new Castle - weatherproof the pergola (now officially called "The Sunroom") and increase our privacy by putting up continuous curtaining in all the main rooms.

Got Apollo Patios to do the sunroom, using clear "twin wall" at each end, insulated wall materials and "zip-track" blinds to provide the finishing touches.  Wasn't cheap, but they were the cheapest quote by far.  Their communication could be improved, but apart from that, very happy with the result and follow-up.

The room is fantastic on sunny, autumn mornings - a delight to just sit and relax in the area.  It will get quite hot in summer, of course, but as we found during the last "hot" season (did we have one?) the area gets very warm anyway, and with the blinds we can raise them as needed to catch any breezes that are around.

Inside, the continuous curtaining looks great.  It adds that little bit of extra privacy when the internal blinds are up, without losing any significant external light that may be around.  Next step, in the bay window area, is to set-up a nice reading area for Robbie so she can sit and relax - with South facing windows, especially on sunny mornings.

The Castle is definitely meeting every expectation we had prior to making the decision to build, move and finally settling in.  By far the best move we have made.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Final Word on the "big flood" .........

Okay, so it wasn't really a big flood around these parts a few weeks ago - but the river certainly threatened to threaten.

Have now measured with the water back to 'normal' levels.  May not sound much, especially when compared to the incredible rises they get up North, but our little stretch was running at a level of 2.7 metres above normal.  Given that the river widens out considerably at Jubilee Park, that's a hell of a lot of extra water passing us.  Most local opinion is that it's the highest level in living memory.

The good thing is that it still had a long way to go before it would have posed a problem to the Caravan park - so we are reassured by that.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

There goes the diet ..................

We are discovering all sorts of ways in which living in a Caravan Park can have advantages (so far, haven't found any disadvantages), however, the latest innovations by Park Management are certainly not conducive to good dieting.

On the weekends during the busiest periods (the Park is now relatively quiet and empty, and will no doubt stay that way until Labour Day weekend or Easter) we have had regular visits from a number of vendors plying their trade, to their and our benefits.

We have had the "coffee Man" who sets up and sells the usual fare in coffee to anyone needing their caffeine fix.  The usual array of styles and flavours are available, so you can satisfy whatever craving you may have at the time.

The "Spud Caboose" has been dropping in selling baked potatoes, hot dogs, etc.  He has been a little inconsistent with his visits; not calling in at advertised times and sometimes setting up outside those times - so he can be a little difficult to catch.  It has certainly cost him some business with us due to these irregularities.

My favourite, of course, has been the Ice Cream Van.  Beautiful, flavoured soft-serve in a waffle type cone.  I can heartily recommend the boysenberry from among the many, many flavours on offer, including strawberry which Robbie loved.

As well as these weakenders, a local butcher comes through a couple of times a week and you can buy direct from him.  A local baker also visits so fresh baked bread is always on the go.

Aaaah, it's a difficult situation - but someone's gotta do it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why do they rope areas off? ............

Still keeping a photographic log of the river level at Jubilee Park - but I won't bore everyone with constant updates here.  When it has subsided to normal level, I will measure (using the post that I have made infamous) the final distance and post that.

However, we were just down at the jetties to take the latest series of photos when one of them, badly damaged, suddenly and with a great "thud" fell back to something approaching normality.  The two pictures included here show that transition.  The really unfortunate thing was that I had just finished taking a video (using my new HD Digital Video camera) when it all happened, so I JUST missed getting the whole thing on film - or these days, should that be in memory?

But, it does show why the authorities cordon off these areas.  If anyone had been clambering over the structure at the time, they could have been seriously hurt.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What goes up, must come down ......

Monday, 8.30am
The level of the Hopkins at Jubilee Park continues to fall, as evidenced by the two pictures - the first taken yesterday at 8.30am and the second taken today at about 11.30am.  You can see by the position of the pole upon which the jetty floats that the waters are definitely receding.  In case anyone didn't realise, you can see a much larger version of any picture in this Blog simply by clicking on it.  Then use the "back arrow" on your browser to return to the Blog.

Tuesday, 11.30am
Did a bit of a drive around Allansford.  A lot of the sandbagged areas have been opened up, and the S.E.S is busy collecting all the bags - no doubt for storage so they are ready to be used again, if needed.

It would seem that the pending crisis is over.

As a matter of interest, I have purchased an HD Digital Video Camera - so any future movies should be excellent quality when compared with what's available on the mobile phone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

You just can't help the timing ......

Level at 0845am
Level at 5.00pm
Robbie & I went down to check the level of the river at 5 pm.  I reckon it has subsided by about 30cm, or one foot since this morning (see two pictures).  In the first, the post on which the Jetty floats has all but disappeared; whereas in the second, it is starting to protrude through the end of the Jetty.

However, that is not the point of this story.  On our way back, there was a Real Estate Agent (Lucas Wilson, to be exact - but I won't mention any names) showing a couple through one of the houses that is for sale on the Estate.

I imagine (just my purely evil thoughts at work) the conversation went something like this:

Agent:  "You'll love the environment here - so peaceful and quiet."

Prospects:  "Yes, it's nice to be so near the river, my husband loves fishing.  By the way, what are all those people doing down at the river's edge?"

Agent: "Oh, they are just checking on the condition of the water."

Prospects: "And why would they be doing that?"

Agent:  "Well, ah, aaaaaah, I guess they are worried that the whole place is about to flood."

As Sherwyn from 'The Big Bang Theory' would say - BAZINGA!!

Things that go bump in the night .......

Swollen River at Allansford
"Knock, bang, rap, thump, knock, knock ...."

Sandbagging in Allansford
"What the hell is that, I thought?" A check of the bedside clock shows it's just a little after 5 am. Go to window (in jocks and T-shirt), and there is Teresa, one of the Park Managers. "Well," I thought, "if it's my body she's after for an early morning romp, she's definitely got poor timing - Robbie was snoozing not 10 feet away."

Princes Highway Bridge, Allansford
"Prepare to evacuate," said Teresa, "the river level is of some concern. No need to panic, or anything like that, but just wanted to give you time to get ready."

Now, this is not the best of news for a notoriously bad morning person like myself. So, bleary eyed and bushy-tailed it was a flurry of activity - well as flurry as the Marr's can get. Shower, pack the computer (most important thing to save), a few clothes, all of our combined tablets and that was about it. We walked down to the river and though it was certainly higher than in the deluge of August last year, it was not looking as if it was of any immediate concern.

Overlooking Hopkins Falls
The consensus of the Park workers who had been monitoring it all night, was that the level was going down. We haven't had any significant rain in the area lately, so this was obviously the run-off from the storms in the Grampians about a week earlier. As such, high levels would obviously be around for a while as there was probably still a lot of water to come down the River.
Upstream from Hopkins Falls
With nothing really to do, we decided to do a bit of a tour. We had heard that parts of Allansford were preparing for evacuation so went to have a look around our old stamping ground. The level was certainly up on last August, almost up to the road bridge on the highway. There was some sand bagging in the town, but apart from one house, there didn't seem to be any imminent danger to other houses. From there, we took some back roads to check out the Hopkins Falls. These were certainly running a lot faster than last time, in fact it was more like a series of rapids coming down the river, rather than a waterfall.

View from Western Platform

We returned to Jubilee Park to get a look in the better light and the level did not appear to have risen. The floating jetties were in a bad state and the wooden jetty near the boat ramp was completely under water - not even the tops of the posts were visible.

Not so Floating Jetty, Jubilee Park
Then we did the logical thing - went and had a Macca's breakfast before continuing into town. The area just upstream from the Hopkins River bridge near the mouth was in some danger of inundation - Proudfoot's was definitely in some trouble. However, the rowing Club and others who occupy the Proudfoots area had obviously been very busy overnight and had moved a lot of their stuff to higher ground.

Rowing Club Gear High & Dry
We then checked out the River mouth at the beach, and discovered the probable reason why the levels were not rising significantly upstream. The mouth had been opened up completely, with the river occupying the entire expanse from bank to bank, even to the extent of forcing itself wider by washing out some of the sand dunes on the eastern bank. Have never seen the river mouth as wide.

River Cutting into Sand Dunes at mouth
Back home then, just in time to meet up again with Teresa who was advising people that the danger had passed for the moment. First task, re-install the computer so that I could get the Weather Station back on line and prepare this blog entry.

River Mouth - no longer blocked
Certainly a different start to the day.  We were originally going to go to Colac today - the exciting prospect of photographing more headstones at the Cemetery.  Given the circumstances, this has been put on hold, and anyway, there has been occasional drizzle here, so conditions may not have been ideal there.

Included below are three videos (phone quality only):

Allansford Bridge:

House on River Bank under Pressure:

Hopkins River Falls:

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Did Santa arrive - depends on whether I was good .........

Christmas Tree & Presents
Well, the festive season for 2010 has been and gone.  We did the usual things (are we in a rut?) - Chrissy tree with all the presents scattered around underneath and a bang-up Christmas luncheon/dinner with the family with FAR too much food on hand, but we'll get through it eventually.  I know what I'll be getting for lunch for the next month.

Weather Station with Temporary Fixings
As far as pressies went, the hints I dropped obviously worked.  Main item was a weather station.  I have always wanted one of these, but have been realistic enough to know that if it needed me to check it and note the results every day, it just wouldn't get done on a regular basis.  This one is wireless and connected to the computer via USB, so all the recording and analysing is done for me.  Just wish I had it when we had the huge storms a month or so ago - would have been interesting to see if the rain gauge would have coped.  I have found a different software package - called Cumulus (these people obviously have as much imagination as I do) -  that works with the weather station but better than the one bundled with it.  It provides for an internet interface which is updated every ten minutes, so I  have just finished setting it up.  Really exciting stuff, this is, I tell you!

This means you can check out the weather here whenever you want to.  You just go to:
Check it out, you'll just be beside yourself and filled with awe, fascination and envy.

Had the usual, but not usual, New Year's eve.  Usual in that we had an "open house" for any friends to drop in.  Had a great turn-up (once everyone managed to find the house in the middle of what is currently a crowded Caravan Park).  Very pleasant company and a great night.  Unusual in that it was our first at the new house, and the Park management had put on (for the first time) a DJ with light show for the evening.  Robbie reckons they did this especially to welcome her to the Park.  This provided a great backdrop to our own celebrations.  We all wandered over there for the countdown to midnight so we could blanket the place with our sparklers.  Certainly a different New Year's eve for us.

Adrian & Chrissy are visiting for a week, so there is always something on the go.  Kermond's hamburgers for lunch is popular.  Golf, fishing and a well known blood sport called tennis.  Blood sport? I hear you say.  Well the way they play it, there is no other way to describe it.  Just to prove the point, in their last game, Chrissy pulled a calf muscle or ligament.  Had to be helped back to the house where ice-pack and bandaging didn't do much to help.  And, of course, the Gallery Nightclub (or "The Gal") will take several months to recover.

That's about it for this year's festivities, I guess.  Now just need the chance for everything to get back to normal.  Happy New Year to everyone.