I’m picky about my fudge

What is it that spans a couple of Swedes, wild rain, fudge, a crafty mountain village and pork ramen? My last day in Oz. What else?

It all started with a long farewell with Ulla and Bjorn as we parted ways after two weeks which felt like a life long friendship. I was very serious when I said I’d stay there next year. They were superb hosts and I agreed when Bjorn suggested that next year we should sit and have a beer together as well.

But the farewells were soon over and Denise and I headed out for our day together which started at Coles and the Coffee Club in Sunland before winding up at her place for a cup of tea.

The weather was undecided whether to rain hard or soft but, by the time we were ready to head to Montville, the clouds had left for a bit and we figured we’d chance it. This was fine until we were halfway through lunch at the Edge when the rain came down in torrents, blocking out the view and making everyone but us scramble up from the actual edge to the dry interior of the covered bit of the restaurant.

It didn’t spoil our lunch as we sat, dry and famished beneath the big umbrella over table 43. It was almost spoiled by Telstra who Denise had a long phone call with regarding mum’s landline phone but we soon forgot about them as we tucked into our delicious meals.

Having visited Montville last year, I was keen to return and I wasn’t disappointed. After the sudden storm, the weather cleared and we enjoyed a lovely wander up and down the main street.

Montville cafe

One shop I didn’t remember from last year was, unknowingly, the inspiration for this blog post title. I over-heard a woman say it to someone she was with before entering the shop mentioned below.

Hard to argue with this

We managed to avoid entering and, instead, bought some tea in a tea shop run by a woman who once ran the Chevron in Sydney before going broke and heading for the no as bright lights of Montville. She seemed lovely and far more suited to selling tea than running a big city venue. (By that I mean she was lovely.)

Still, as usual, all good things, etc and we headed back down to Denise’s place.

We sat and chilled, watching two movies on Netflix (one about Agatha Christie, the other with Ricky Gervais) before I had to present myself outside her house, ready for the shuttle bus.

We hugged and kissed and I joined the bus where things almost came a-cropper when the driver asked me how to get out of the maze of streets that is where Denise lives. I laughed and explained I’d only been there twice and this was the second of them. I also suggested that the rapidity by which the streets appeared and disappeared made it next to impossible to navigate successfully for anyone visiting. He agreed then, almost by a miracle, found a way out.

Arriving at the race course we were required to wait a while for a late running bus to cast off its passengers for us to collect. This was quite handy for the woman who was so desperate to go to the loo that she almost hid behind a distant tree to relieve herself while her husband told us all waiting, what she was up to. When she returned I helpfully suggested she might want to swap her husband for one with a little more discretion.

Soon enough we arrived at Brisbane International where the usual long wait entailed until, finally, I could check-in then head out to wait at Gate 80 for a few hours. Although mostly the usual, mindless journey through the various stages, I was surprised by one security guard who, on taking my walking stick, handed me one to use to go through the metal detector. I thanked him and, on handing it back on the other side, said it was the first time ever, in any country, that I had been offered one. The guard was surprised, saying they had a lot of them scattered around.

I was so delighted I decided to celebration with a delicious bowl of pork ramen at Tuk Chop.

Seriously good ramen

And so the clock slowly ticked over to midnight then beyond before I boarded the first plane on the long journey home.

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Regarding time

As I sat at the bus stop, waiting for the 603 to take me to the home, Bjorn, my landlord, came over and sat with me. At first he offered me a lift, which I politely declined – it’s quite difficult explaining to people that I am fiercely independent and accepting lifts makes me feel the opposite – and then sat with me, chatting away the wait.

He told me that they (Ulla is his wife) go home to Sweden for three months every year. They leave the Queensland winter and enjoy the Swedish summer. He told me that they visit their continually ageing relatives and friends and their daughter who moved back as soon as she finished her nursing training because she hated the Queensland heat. Clearly a woman of my own heart.

He told me a bittersweet story about his mother. A few years ago they had gone home, as usual, and were driving to his mother’s place when he spotted a strawberry stand. Knowing his mum would love some strawberries he bought a bag full then added some chocolate to go with them. She was also a big liquid chocolate fan.

When they arrived, the three of them sat at the dining table and enjoyed a lovely visit with talk and laughter and, naturally, the strawberries and chocolate. Bjorn remembered it quite fondly.

His mum was 96. Three weeks later she died, without fuss and having had a full and happy life. Best of all, I suppose, her son was with her at the end.

My bus arrived and I left him to go and play golf (he plays off 30 which is pretty good for a man of 70+) while I headed for Little Mountain.

Then, as if some sort of sadness fairy had descended on me, I was sitting with Les and Glennis at morning tea and they both told me how utterly bored they were. I suggested that they could write their life stories. Just a bit each day would keep them busy and interested and bring back little snatches of the past.

Glennis said, “Mine would only fill a single page.” I thought that was incredibly sad.

Not that our day was particularly sad. Tracey took mum and me to Sunland where we had lunch at the Coffee Club following a wander around K-Mart and Coles.

I had a very nice omelette with smoked salmon and very few carbs.

Back at the care home we sat around while the Telstra man did weird things to mum’s phone. Then Mitchie turned up to visit (and wish me a fond farewell) then left shortly before Denise turned up to take me away.

As we left, we walked with Kevin and his wife. Kevin really doesn’t want to be there. Apart from being shaky on his legs, he feels perfectly alright. His wife explained that he couldn’t get up or down the stairs in their house which he would need to. Rather than sell and move to a bungalow, she felt the best thing was to put him in the care home. He doesn’t agree. She plays bowls.

Anyway, enough sadness for one day, my last. I’ll miss the staff and residents that I’ve met over the last two weeks. I feel like I’ve become a part of their lives in a very transient yet close way. Also the cafe women will now be able to forget my latte order.

Spotted in the care home car park and costing $5,000
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Double sars

One annoying thing about the buses over here is the artwork. We have the same thing on some of our buses. They dress the sides and windows of the bus in all sorts of ads. From the inside, the windows are covered in a sort of dotty back image which you can see through, sort of. It makes it impossible to take photographs.

This morning, however, I was lucky enough to get a window without the dots and on the correct side of the bus to snap the white lions I mentioned yesterday.

Born free

The dotty windows also make my brain go a bit weird if I stare out of them for too long. I guess it’s a way of getting revenue but, as usual, it’s not taking into account the people who are using the service. Other than the dots, the buses are lovely and comfortable. And clean! Though that could be because people are too car obsessed to catch them.

Anyway, today was about seeing Lorna and Bob so, after sitting with mum, Trace and Kevin over morning tea, mum and I hopped into Lorna’s incredibly red car for the longer than necessary trip to the bowling club, where we always go for lunch when I’m here. As Lorna suggested, as we parked, we could easily have gone to the tavern near mum’s place instead of coming all the way back to Caloundra. Next time I’m thinking that might be an idea.

The bowling club is still very nice if you ignore the crappy technology which means you have to stand in a queue waiting till breakfast time to order your lunch. Still, that was eventually achieved and we sat and chatted.

As usual, Bob told me a story about his days on the trawler.

Way back then, he would charter the boat for English tourists to experience a bit of sea fishing. He’d have a minimal crew to help get the boat out and back and, naturally they were all brown as brown could be, given they’d all spent their lives aboard some boat or other and generally under the Queensland sun. One particular Englishman decided it was a look for him.

Bob was coming out of the wheelhouse and suddenly stopped as he was presented with a massive, lily white bulk of flesh blocking his way. The Englishman had stripped off his shirt and, wearing just shorts (and I can only imagine he had socks and sandals on as well), was trying to fit in with the crew.

I want to be like the boys,” He declared joyously.

Bob tried to explain the differences between living in the sun and visiting it rarely but the advice fell on deaf ears and stupidity won the day…by the end of which the Englishman realised he’d actually lost.

According to Bob, the man was covered, front and back, in massive blisters, the largest two inches across, the smallest just shy of two inches across. He ended up being taken directly to hospital when they docked. I’m sure Bob and his crew just stood on the boat and shook their heads ruefully, preparing for the next load of inexperience.

For my lunch I had a very nice crunchy chicken and avocado salad accompanied by a few Iron Jack beers, very cold and refreshing and recommended not only by Trace yesterday but also by Max the barman. Lorna and mum had their usual lemon, lime and bitters (it took some convincing that this is what mum likes rather than the shandy she asked for) but Bob had, what he called, a double sars.

I figured it was a sarsaparilla but had no idea what the double bit was or if it was some sort of pensioner cocktail. I went to the bar and asked if they had something called a ‘double sars’ and the young barmaid surprised me by producing a bottle from the fridge and pouring some into a glass full of ice.

I had a smell. It had the unmistakable aroma of sarsaparilla. Bob loves it. Odd chap.

Bob and his brew

Eventually, lunch was done and we decided we’d had enough of the school holiday kids and their bowls antics (who knew it was a primary school sport these days?) and returned to the cherry red Lorna-mobile. She then took us on a wonderful, mystery tour of the surrounding suburbs, ignoring the satnav which kept telling us about dead ends.

I told her she could be a bus driver given the extended journey. She said she’s trying to work out a better way to get from Caloundra to mum. I told her she couldn’t get a worse one so she’d sort of achieved it really.

It was lovely seeing Lorna and Bob (it’s a once a year pleasant ritual) but all good things, etc and so they dropped us at the residential care home and we went inside to wait for Trace (she didn’t come for lunch because she was feeling a bit yurk) who eventually dropped me back at the house.

Lunch at Caloundra Bowling Club
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Living with the large

My journey to the residential care home every morning consists of many twists and turns as we navigate our way through a number of streets outside Caloundra and into Little Mountain. Along the way I get to see enticing views of the sea (complete with container ships), dense bushland hiding all manner of things and lots of houses. Two of these houses are of particular note because of very large things.

The first house is one of many normal looking houses in a street that winds down a hill. The only view is the houses on the other side of the street and the trees in the distance down the hill. One house in particular seems to have left taste somewhere in another country. In the middle of normal, if expensive looking, Queensland suburbia stand two oversized white lions.

They both sit, either side of a small staircase leading up to the front door of a particularly non exceptional house…well, apart from the lions. They are bright white and each one has a name. The one of the right is Loewburg, which is a place in America. The other one’s named after the street and, consequently the address.

Whatever the meaning of the giant white lions, they are certainly a statement of an enormous lack of taste. To live in this street and go by these lions every day must make the neighbours feel immensely superior knowing that no matter what they do, their houses could not look as tasteless as the one with the lions.

The other house isn’t so much tasteless as Biblical. In the front garden which was never very big to begin with, there is a very big fishing boat. It is directly in front of the house and towers over it. It’s quite impossible to describe the actual house because the boat obscures it almost completely.

That is all well and good and it’s a lovely boat so perhaps it’s hiding an ugly house. However, the real reason to comment on this boat is the fact that it appears to have been built in situ prior to a hedge and a fence having been built around it. These make it impossible to get it out.

I guess the owners could use a crane to lift it up and over but I reckon that might be a bit expensive every time you wanted to go catch some fish. However, I can’t see how there’d be any other way of manoeuvring the boat out of it’s spot. There’s hardly room to get around it let alone remove it.

Anyway, they are just two of the many odd things I see every day on my ‘commute.’

While at the care home…today we had a visit from Trace who had decided to come up and see mum (and me, I suppose) given she’d finished up one job and is waiting to start another. It was, obviously, lovely to see her especially given it was unexpected.

Of course, she told me to keep it a secret but then told everyone. I’d not mentioned it to Mitch or Denise when I saw them for fear of spoiling the surprise and, although I’d mentioned it to mum, I figured I’d manage to gloss over it again. When I arrived at mum’s I discovered that she knew all about it and that she and Trace had been exchanging text messages about it all night.

Anyway, all was well and Tracey turned up as mum and I were having our morning latte in the cafe out the front.

They know my order now

We sat and chatted until it was time for mum to go in for lunch when Trace and I went out onto the verandah to chat and wait. I gave Trace a taste of what my days have been like since being in Caloundra. Trace told me about her life in Coffs Harbour.

Sitting at the bar-b-que area at one point in the day, I had a chat with Frank. He’s one of the other residents and married to Lorraine who keeps introducing herself to me. Frank told me a very disturbing story about their two Alsatians which I’m not going to repeat. I was unsure whether it was true or made up but Lorraine backed him up, claiming it was why they moved on to cats.

Denise arrived at 4:30 and mum was quite pleased to have all her kids in one place at the same time, something which rarely happens, before the three of us left her to her dinner.

Trace went off to have dinner with Mitch and Nathalia while Denise went home to sleep and I sat and worked on Mirinda’s bibliographicals.

Tracey doing some work

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How to argue by text

Today, being a Sunday, was Market Day in Caloundra. This meant, naturally, a walk up Bulcock Street where I had a bratwurst and sauerkraut. I do this every time I’m here on a Sunday for one, simple reason: The German woman who runs the sausage stall sells the best bratwurst I have ever tasted, outside of Germany. And she didn’t let me down this morning.

Totally yum!

Having eaten that little beauty from the safety of a bench, I strolled on and up to the Kai Cafe at the top of Bulcock Street where I sat and had my usual latte, watching people wandering around looking at strange wind ornaments and surf clothes under the almost cloudless sky.

Stalls in Bulcock

And the day was indeed glorious (though too hot for me). The sky was deep blue all day and the temperature a laze inducing late 20’s. It was the perfect day to go for lunch at the Kawana Pub where you sit around a massive deck and watch the forests of masts in the marina with an occasional boat heading out for a bit of a sail.

We were there with Jen, having lunch, chatting and trying our best to ignore the mis-named entertainer with the guitar and double microphone.

I figured that, given I’d had bratwurst for breakfast that I’d indulge in pizza for lunch and numerous glasses of beer. The pizza sort of helped with my digestion but the beer worked a treat with the heat.

It was while we sat and talked and ate and drank that I discovered that these days the kids argue by text. (I should probably explain that the ‘kids’ I refer to are the age of one of Jenny’s sons and his girlfriend. I don’t know how old they are but they are not teenagers.)

Apparently her son has a girlfriend who is very high maintenance, mimicking the type of American TV ideal of plaster of Paris faces and fish pouts. It’s always an education for me when I’m involved in these sort of conversations because this is an absolute alien world. I have no idea why people want to spend hours making themselves look like plastic. Still, what do I know?

So, this girlfriend is apt to be somewhat jealous so Jen’s son tries to let her know everything that is happening to give her no cause. In doing so, he winds up giving her cause. Like the party he went to without her. It was meant to be a bunch of blokes but about 30 girls turned up unannounced. He immediately texted her about it, thinking it would be better to tell her before rather than after the fact. It didn’t help.

They then had this massive argument but, rather than face-to-face or over the phone, it was via text. I asked at this point whether such a thing was satisfying at all. No-one knew. I fear it’s probably more frustrating than satisfying but, again, what do I know?

Jen and Denise at the Kawana pub

Eventually our lunch arrived and we tucked in as lots of people arrived for various booked engagements. Which reminds me, this is a bit of a legendary place for engagements. Chris and Chloe had their’s here as did Mitch and Nathalia. I’m not drawing any conclusions.

We must have sat at the table above for about three hours. It was easily through three sets of the musician who shouldn’t. Oh, how I prayed for the World Champion Piano Accordion player of 1980-something…which, as I remarked to my dining companions, I had met only a week ago but felt like months. It has been a surprisingly interesting week, full of other people’s stories.

Eventually it was time for Gaz to visit Dan Murphy for a bit of a beery top up and for us all to go to our respective homes. For Jen to cuddle her Beagles, for me to drink beer and for Denise to get ready for work tomorrow. It really was a lovely, lovely day.

Looking out at the marina as we left

I took a short video at the market but think I’ve probably taken the same one on a previous visit. Regardless, I’m including it here. I’m not sure why I did it in portrait.

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Seenager

The bus times are different on a Saturday so I found myself with more time to wander around Caloundra than on previous mornings. Obviously I had a coffee in Kai Cafe but I also went to the top of Bulcock Street to top up my Go Card.

I tried to top it up at the Owl Convenience first but they were having an issue with their machine so, feeling in the wandering mood, I headed to the only other place (apart from on a bus) where I could go. His machine was working perfectly.

I’d never been that far up Bulcock before and was surprised to discover a Sex Shop sitting beside the newsagent. There’s also a bottle shop and I can guess which one has the more patronage. Ignoring the obvious pleasures afforded by both these establishments, I popped down to the IGA and did a bit of dairy shopping (milk, kefir, cheese) before heading back to the flat. On the way I was ‘tooted’ at by my landlady in a hire van.

When I reached the house she was standing waiting for me. She had forgotten the keys to the house and she was wondering if she could go through my accommodation to her place. Naturally I said of course, however did she remember that she’d locked the door that separates us?

She eventually went and met her husband who had the key and they went off on a catering job, which is what the van was for. Though not before telling me about the phenomenon known as Seenager-ship.

She says that at our age (she’s only two years younger than me) we are enjoying our second stint at being teenagers but it’s difficult because we have so much more data in our heads given the experiences we’ve collected since our first one. This means that, metaphorically, our brains are a bit bulgy.

The pressure of the bulge means we sometimes forget things which leads to doing increasingly silly things (like forgetting one’s keys) and this is because we are, in fact, almost seniors.

I agreed wholeheartedly with her explanation for the minor slips of memory and the need to live life fully but carefully. A wise women is my landlady.

Speaking of my landlady (and her husband)…the ceiling in the place I’m staying in is not particularly sound proof. So far this holiday I have heard footsteps going back and forth, shuffling that appears to be someone practising dance moves and what I can only assume are bed springs above my bed room. Not that I mind but it’s interesting what people are unaware of.

Enough of that though because today I saw Kelly, Jaxon and Maddy (as well as Denise and mum). They were up, staying with Denise and had come over to visit the residential place. I think one big reason was also so that Maddy could bounce on the frog in the playground.

And Maddy is a good name for her because she’s mad as the proverbial.

A rare moment of peace

She reminds me of Kelly at that age. Everyone reckons it’s karma.

Jaxon, by contrast, is quite quiet, content to sit and play Pokemon or Lego games on Denise’s tablet. And he’s very chatty about it as well, assuming I know nothing and claiming I’m ridiculous for not knowing who Mimikyu is. (I’m fairly certain I had the exact same conversation with Rafi so I’m well versed in this Japanese cultural stuff.)

And this is Slowbro, Uncle Gary…a bit like you!”

We had a lovely morning spent sitting by the cafe, being entertained by the kids. By the way, Maddy can’t say ‘Uncle Gary’ so I’m C’Gary…which I rather like.

Mum then went in to have her lunch while I said my goodbyes before settling down in the bar-b-que area with my book. After an hour I figured I’d been forgotten. There’s not a lot of people around on a Saturday and a couple of times I was mistaken for a resident. Eventually I figured I’d better be a bit more active or risk being medicated and confined to a bed ala Randle Patrick McMurphy.

I found the dining area empty and mum, happily reading in her room. She swore she hadn’t forgotten I was waiting.

After a lot of chat about the past, I headed back to Caloundra and my dinner date with Mitch and Nathalia.

They were very excited about taking me to this really, really nice restaurant at Dicky Beach. I thought it sounded very good. Mitch said they’d been wanting to go for at least six months. He’d been ringing all day but there’d been no answer. He’d even chosen what meal he was going to have from the on-line menu. We drove over.

We quickly discovered why Mitch hadn’t been able to rouse anyone with a phone call. The restaurant was not only closed it had moved to somewhere else. The building has been abandoned; boarded up and gathering tumbleweeds rather than patrons. It was very funny.

We wound up at the Surf Club at King’s beach where Mitch and I enjoyed our pork belly while Nathalia was put off food for life because of the all pervading taste of fennel.

Regardless of the food, we had a lovely chat, mostly about bad drinking experiences, until finally, they dropped me off perfectly fed and ready for bed.

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Mr Bus Authority

This morning, I started to walk down to Sunland to meet Denise for a latte. She happened to be passing as I reached the main road and pulled over to give me a lift. It meant I didn’t get a walk (I remedied this later) but helped me get over the lack of footpath.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a grass verge and it’s perfectly safe to walk on (unlike an English country lane) but, given the torrential rain we had all morning, it’s not particularly pleasant. I then realised just how much pedestrians are undervalued here.

Not only is there an occasional lack of footpaths but the roads take precedence over everything. I’m really surprised when there’s a helpful pedestrian refuge because most of the time you have to walk ten miles in order to cross a busy road.

There’s also the bus stop to return to Caloundra from mum’s. The traffic lights at the top of the hill take an age for the little green man to appear and when he does he starts flashing red almost immediately (that’s NOT an exaggeration). And there’s only one way to get across because, while it is an intersection, it is decidedly pedestrian unfriendly.

I guess the love affair with the car is alive and well here. The lack of bus passengers attests to that. Speaking of the bus…I was an hour later this morning and didn’t know the driver. This meant I had to go through the whole non-existent ‘J Pole’ bus stop nonsense again.

Seriously, can’t TransLink get it right? Or is this just one more step on the non-pedestrian road to America?

Still…Denise and I had a lovely latte and a chat before I headed up to Bulcock Street and a new pair of shorts I’ve been threatening myself to buy. Denise was expecting Kelly and the kids so she had stuff to buy. They are all visiting mum tomorrow.

For Queenslanders: This is a walk friendly footpath.

I then headed back to the flat for a quick change and loo break before taking my seat at the bus stop.

The day at the residential home was about as exciting as it has been all week. We basically sat around talking and reading and gossiping about various residents who never leave their rooms.

The one highlight of the day was when mum’s phone was suddenly connected. Her first phone call was a cold call who we hung up on. Mind you, as I said to Denise, it could have been Telstra for all I know given mum answered it and had no idea what the person was saying.

And so the day passed until it was time for me to head back on the bus, stopping off at the fruit and veg place just up the road to stock up on two of the best avocados in the world.

Super creamy, perfectly ripe

Possibly the biggest news of the day was the fact that Bob and Fi were dragged into economy class on the first leg of their flight because of some booking mishap. This has to be a first for Bob and I think he may never fly again.

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I wrote the bloody book!

It was another day of intermittent showers sprinkled with downpours and moments of intense heat. Well, intense for me, anyway. According to most of the people around here the breeze made it ‘freezing’. I’m pretty confident that 24° is not even close to freezing, regardless of the breeze.

Ignoring the wind, the rain put paid to a pretty exciting bowls match scheduled for play this afternoon. Mum and I managed to bag a couple of ring side seats, waiting for the game to start but the weather decided otherwise.

The barbi blocking the bowls green from this seat. We moved across.

Mind you, a lot of that was because Sue (the activity coordinator) was busy elsewhere and didn’t start gathering players till late on.

She had a couple of volunteers to show around. Two ladies who will sit around with the residents, chatting and generally making life a little more interesting. Or that’s the idea.

One of the ladies sat down with an old chap while we were waiting for the bowls. She had a book with her and was flicking through it. It was one of those coffee table books full of beautiful photographs. It was about far north Queensland. The photos looked gorgeous from what I could see.

Anyway, the lady was flicking through the book, commenting on how lovely it all looked and the man was grunting without a lot of enthusiasm. This didn’t put her off. She kept trying to get him to talk about himself and the book. Eventually he spoke though it surprised her somewhat.

She had been told that he was originally from New South Wales so, naturally enough, she pointed to the book and asked if he’d been to the north at all. He gave her a withering look and said “I wrote the bloody book!

You’d think that would put paid to any further conversation but, actually, it sort of broke the ice and the two chatted happily away after that. It turns out he took the photographs as well as wrote the text. He sounded like a man who’d lived a very interesting life as the two discussed snorkelling and scuba diving and so forth.

My interesting life, at the moment, consists of trying a different cafe every morning. Today, wandering up to Bulcock Street first thing, I went left rather than right and wound up at the quite funky looking Kai Cafe where I had the best latte so far this trip. (I’m ignoring the weird double thickness glass it came in.)

Coffee at Kai

They almost didn’t have any hazelnut so it was a close run thing. According to the guy who served me, they had had a plague of sugar ants last week which meant throwing all their sweet syrups out. His eyes lit up when he produced a brand new bottle.

Suitably sustained, I headed down to the bus stop only to get the same bus driver as yesterday. I was almost prepared to get off at the stop before my stop but he informed me that he’d had a long chat with someone about the J Pole lacking bus stop and all was well. It was a bona fide stop.

The J Pole was scheduled to be put in but the location was, mistakenly mapped as being about 150 metres further up the road and the footpath is closed off for now. This meant the pole had to be taken back, to wait for access…which is seriously weird given the bus shelter is there and completely accessible.

Denise was home sick today so I took the bus back again as well and, of course, I had the same guy. We discussed the state of the roads in Queensland, the weight of the bus, the risk of fire on the top deck of double decker buses and the rain. Strangely, I thought it was just me and the driver on the bus but when I left the bus at my stop I glanced back and there were about four other people sitting behind me.

Anyway, the day passed pretty much like the others this week except I was roped in to the quiz they were playing in place of the washed out bowls game.

Following a stint of anagrams, Sue decided we’d all play a game of naming a country or place starting with the letter of the last letter of the previous country or place. Mischievously I kept choosing places that started and ended with the same letter (Africa, Austria, Australia, Andorra, etc). It helped pass the time.

Where’s the kid with the banjo?

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Send in the clowns

This morning I went to Bulcock Street and had a coffee at the Chilli Jam Cafe. They didn’t have hazelnut syrup. I had to make do with vanilla. I don’t think I’ll revisit. I mean, really. Surely everyone has hazelnut syrup.

Meanwhile at mum’s place…each day the Activity Person, Sue, arranges things for the residents to do, to keep them occupied. Most days it’s some sort of quiz or bingo or the suchlike. And today the care home was invaded by clowns. Mum didn’t like that.

We’re not children,” she insisted.

And, to be fair, before I hurriedly left the invaded space that is the main room of the home, I did think they sounded exactly like a group of clowns would at a kindergarten. As I told mum, she didn’t have to stay and be patronised. She agreed and thanked me for being there, giving her an excuse to leave.

This was the first time I’ve felt the place missed the mark. Of course, there are some people there who may have slipped a bit in the mental stakes but the majority (as far as I can tell) have adult brains and don’t really like being treated as if they’re stupid. I do think the clown event was misplaced.

Still, what do I know…except it pissed mum off a bit.

The weather was once more full of tropical uncertainty. Rain then sun then wind then humidity then rain and so on and so forth. All a bit uncertain. I did get a bit damp once but otherwise I managed to keep dry. Of course most of my day is spent at the home and there is an ingenious system of shelters throughout meaning it’s quite difficult to get wet unless you really, really want to.

I had an interesting chat with the bus driver this morning on the way to the home.

He pulled up at the stop I’ve been using for the last couple of days and prevented me leaving the bus. He said the stop shouldn’t exist because it didn’t have a ‘J Pole’ which, I assume, is the bus stop sign. The stop has a shelter and a bench and is right outside the home but, I guess, they’re waiting for the pole.

Given I was the only passenger I’d had a bit of a chat with the driver and I thought he was an okay kinda guy. This opinion was completely overturned when he started to claim I couldn’t get off the bus. He called his base in a very official sounding way and wanted to know if the bus stop existed or not.

The navigational system on the bus claimed the stop existed and, as I insisted, I’d used the stop for the last two days and it appeared on their app but he was having none of it because there was no ‘J Pole’. Eventually I just left the bus. Clearly this guy is a bit of a jobsworth. I’m thinking of complaining though I might wait until I’ve finished using the bus given I might come across him again.

The main problem is that the next bus stop is after a long stretch of road without footpath – it’s being built at the moment – and the other side of the road has a fence division in the centre. It would mean a major inconvenience if I couldn’t use the stop that I have been.

Maybe that’s why the Translink service in Caloundra isn’t used by more people. It’s not because it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable it’s because the drivers are intractable and don’t have a service mentality that even approaches the reasonable. The fact that it is convenient and comfortable is not enough.

Anyway, I managed to get off the bus and spent the day with mum, the clowns and various members of staff who now know me well enough to stop and chat.

Much later, Mitchie came and picked us up in order to take us around to see their new house. It’s in the same area as Denise’s place and is a brand new build. In fact, it’s so brand new that it isn’t quite finished yet. The drive only just went down a few days ago and the back decking is happening this Friday. And there’s a definite lack of furniture.

We had a lovely wander around the new house, admiring the general lack of furniture and drinking Mitchie’s beer before sitting down in front of the biggest TV in the world which was busy playing Muzak for Business (easy listening tunes to work by) which I assume was because Nathalia works from home most days.

Eventually we took mum back to the centre, just in time for dinner then they drove me back to the flat. Actually, when I dropped mum off (and signed her in) the residents were all sitting down for their food and they all said ‘Hi Gary!’ then ‘Bye Gary!’ as I left. I think everyone might miss me when I go home.

PS: Most of the tables have a Himalayan Pink Salt grinder on them and mum was very confused, asking me what it was. I tried to explain the concept of pink salt. Eventually she ground a bit into her hand and tasted it. She exclaimed that it was VERY salty.

Posted in Australia 2019, Gary's Posts | 2 Comments

Richest girl in Caloundra

This morning, just gone midnight, I woke up suddenly alert. It was very quiet and very dark. I couldn’t return to sleep. I read for a bit then gradually my eyes closed and I drifted off again. I then woke at 6:15. Bloody jetlag.

Today was all a bit tropical. Sudden downpours in that specific Queensland, drenching fashion which, by some miracle of timing, I managed to witness from the benefit of shelter each time it happened. One of the most fortunate timings involved being at a bus shelter rather than on a bench in the open, waiting for my bus.

The latter was because I decided to buy a Go Card to ‘…use on all public transport throughout the south eastern Queensland area’. There’s only two places to buy them here in Caloundra. I decided to go to the Night Owl Convenience knowing it’s close to the Gloria Jean on Bulcock Street.

Gloria Jean on Bulcock Street seems to have gone so, instead I went to the cafe next door to where Gloria Jean used to be. Mind you, according to their store locator, it is still there. Curious. Anyway, the coffee at the other place was fine and I did get to meet the richest girl in Caloundra who works there.

Bulcock Street

As I was walking down from the Night Owl Convenience, happily clutching my new Go Card, a man who sounded like he’d had an 80% proof breakfast started telling everyone how this particular woman, who was delivering coffee, was “THE RICHEST GIRL IN CALOUNDRA!

She kept denying it but he would have none of her excuses and decided to proclaim it far and wide. It was very funny. It was even funnier when he was on my bus and claimed I was stalking him. I told him I was and he should be careful.

While waiting for the bus, the heavens opened up and the street was drenched. I watched many people running for shelter while happily sitting under mine.

A dry moment before the rain

And the day was spent very similarly to yesterday (and probably the rest of the week) sitting and talking and, basically, being with mum. Though there was an incident of blood on the floor which had to be cleaned up. The blood was from neither of us, I should add.

After work, Denise picked me up and we drove back to flat for a cup of tea before she left me to my salad tea. I managed to go OMAD again, Mirinda will be pleased to note.

Speaking of my salad dinner, I keep forgetting to include the photo below. I found them in Coles on Sunday. I like to think of them as a martini without the nonsense.

The best olives EVAH!
Posted in Australia 2019, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment