Before & After #51 : Footstool

Saturday, 9 July 2022

I am no upholstery expert but I figured in this case I couldn't do worse than the state of the Denny's foot stool before I started..


Yep it's not perfect. But it's better: 


Revenge of the lawn mower

Friday, 8 July 2022

A few weeks ago I spent a few days in Melbourne for work. The work part of my trip was fine - in fact it was quite fun as we had mid-season drinks and celebrations on the Friday night. The rest of my trip wasn’t quite so great though..

I flew early on Thursday then had an intense day in the studio. So when I arrived to check into my 'boutique residential hotel' at about 7pm I was already pretty tired and looking forward to a relaxing evening.  The first thing I noticed about the place was that the 'reception open until 8pm' was not open at all. In fact the entire time I was there the reception was never open.  It wasn't a big deal though, I just had to ring someone to be talked through the process of entering a pin and releasing a little fob key - it was like using a vending machine.

So I let myself in and found my room after passing through a particularly heavy firedoor which shut itself with a loud clunk behind me. Pushing my own door open my heart sunk.

The last few trips I have been lucky enough to stay in a nice apartment with city views, a decent kitchen and a couch, so this place was a big let down.  It was a small room with a tiny bathroom that could only just fit the toilet and shower.  

It was clean enough, and I didn't yet know about the problem with the fire door, so I ordered some uber eats and waited on the bed for it to arrive.  When it was delivered I discovered that the only cutlery that could be found in my room was a tiny plastic spoon, so I ventured out to the rest of the hotel and found the shared kitchenette.  Aside from one bent spoon lying in the bottom of the cupboard marked 'cutlery' it had absolutely nothing. No plates, glasses, nothing.  Oddly it did have a dishwasher but I can’t imagine what dishes it washed.

Disappointed I settled back on the bed (there was no chair, only a tiny provincial style foot stool pushed under the tiny provincial style desk) to eat my noodles with my plastic teaspoon.  Luxury.

Afterwards I realised the room didn't seem to have a fridge, which was going to make it hard to store the leftovers and the iced coffee milk I’d bought for breakfast.  I was starting to get pretty annoyed by this stage, so I distracted myself by tidying up and getting prepared for the next day. I decided to iron my shirt, so I opened the wardrobe to find the ironing board which is when I found the fridge! yay!


 I was able to stash my leftovers and my iced coffee and yoghurt for the morning.  Unfortunately the ironing board housed with the fridge was a mini one that you have to put on the bed (or a table if you are rich enough to have one ).  I unfolded it and attempted to iron my shirt, only succeeding in ironing into it the criss-cross marks of the metal from the ironing board, as it seemed to be devoid of padding. I was starting to get pretty pissed off by now.


 But not as pissed off as I was 10 minutes later when, with my badly ironed shirt ready to hang, I realised there was no hanging rail, or even clothes hangers in the fridge-drobe.  


That was it.  I hung the shirt on the TV, pulled out my computer and composed an 'I'm very disappointed with this room blah blah blah…’ email to the reception email address.    I mentioned the lack of cutlery and glasses, terrible ironing board and non existent clothes hangers.  It was polite but I didn't mince words, and I finished it with 'I've got another night booked and I'm not looking forward to it'.   My finger hovered over the send key for a while as I deliberated about sending it after my stay, but thinking that I might be able to get a room upgrade to one with a full-sized spoon, I sent it. Then I went to bed.

 The next morning I headed out early-ish for a run around Albert Park Lake. It was a drizzly grey day but quite nice for running.


About 10 minutes in I stopped to check my phone which is when I discovered that I didn't seem to have my fob key anymore.  I patted down all my pockets but it had simply disappeared - so strange as I thought I had been super careful about taking it with me. I ran the rest of the loop with a heavy heart, knowing I would have to contact reception again. The same reception I sent that email to last night.  Oh god.  


Arriving back outside the hotel I checked my email on my phone and sadly confirmed that they had in fact read and responded to my complaint, justifying the lack of hanging rails by the inclusion of the fridge.  It was odd this fridge/hanging rail thing seemed to be an either/or situation.  Anyway I took a breath and rang reception to explain my predicament.  They weren't too frosty but did take the time to explain (again) that I was lucky to have a fridge and that's why I couldn't have a hanging rail, before giving me instructions for accessing the spare room key. I retrieved it, let myself in, showered, put on my badly ironed shirt and went to work.

Luckily I had a function that night so I didn’t have to spend too much time back in the room before going to bed - although I was woken regularly through the night as other people slammed their way through that bloody fire door.  

On my final morning in Melbourne got up early to retrace my run from the day before. Incredibly about 5 minutes in I spied my original door key lying on the grass to the side of the path - a miracle!  The only bummer was that it appeared a lawn mower had found it first - it was pretty destroyed. 


But it was with some satisfaction that I deposited the mangled key together with the replacement key back in the key return box as I left later that morning (I did email them to explain what happened just in case they thought I did it in an act of vengence).  I was relieved to be leaving and looking forward to going home.  I spent the morning at the South Melbourne Markets &  Botanical gardens and the afternoon at the Essendon DFO. 


It was only when I sat down in the departure gate at the airport that I realised the crappy hotel would have the last laugh - I had left my ereader under the pillow of the bed.  Aaargh! Needless to say my efforts to contact them have been met with silence.

not a windsurfer

Thursday, 7 July 2022

When I finished grade 12 I told myself the first thing I would buy when I got a full time job would be a windsurfer.  It was peak windsurfer era back then - the river was chock full of them.

It wasn't long before a series of aptitude tests and interviews did actually land me my first job - working for the enticingly named 'Department of Public Administration' writing code to maintain & enhance payroll and leave systems for the rest of the state government departments.  It was highly unsupervised yet high stakes stuff  - me and my other 2 cohorts could have easily manipulated and/or accidentally deleted every government employees payroll and leave details - it certainly was cowboy times back in IT in those days (1987).    Anyway - as a 17 year old doing what was called a 'traineeship' I was only entitled to 75% of the minimum wage of a non-trainee 17 year old which was in turn 75% of the wage of a 21year old doing the lowest paid job in government.  We were so poorly paid I was extremely envious of the 1st year apprentice hairdresser who played on my basketball team who got paid significantly more than me.

Come to think of it's kind of been my whole career since then really - I seem to end up doing jobs that in similar yet slightly different circumstances would have paid three times as much. 

Anyway - needless to say, a windsurfer was completely out of the question for 17 year old me, so the first thing I actually bought when I could finally afford something, was a popcorn maker.

So it is with a heavy heart that I must report that my beloved and 35 year old popcorn maker has finally died.


Whilst it finally failed during a routine popcorn making operation, it did at least stand on enough ceremony to go out loudly, and very very smokily.  


I'm not making excuses...

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

but this is often what my lap looks like when I sit down to update my blog..


Teal mousse

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

In celebration of the recent federal election results I made some themed desserts for family dinner.


Full moon

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

I'm REALLY looking forward to longer days but today I could at least satisfy myself with the nice views from my office window at about 5pm.


Autumn outdoors

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Some photos from recent-ish runs and hikes..





The Kauri Wood

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

When we tidied up dad's shed a few months ago we came across a lot of wood.  Most of it was scrap, but there was also a pile of long planks taking up a fair bit of floor space - in fact they made it impossible to access many of the shelves without awkwardly squeezing your feet alongside them.  Those six thick and 3 metre long planks had been there for at least 20 years - Dad had shipped them down from Sydney when he went to clear out his mum's place many years ago.  Mum had previously learnt that these were kauri wood planks, reclaimed by my Sydney grandfather who worked for the Tooth's brewery in Sydney.  He re-routed the wood from a certain tip ending when the brewery's wooden hop vats were replaced with stainless steel ones (which he helped design) a zillion years ago.  It seemed weird to me that the brewery would use such expensive and rare wood in the first place, but in all likelyhood, when the company bought the wood in a job lot a hundred years or so earlier, it probably wasn't valued very highly.

A few months ago I got Zali to help me lift one of those dusty, dirty and insanely heavy planks onto the roof racks of the car and we drove it home. Later that day, after I hauled it singlehandedly off the car, nearly killingmyself in the process I noticed it had a lot of termite damage on the underside. Looking closer still I realised the holes running widthwise through the plank would make it next to impossible to use for anything.  So with much annoyance I dragged the plank around to the side of the house and left it there - thoroughly regretting moving it in the first place (as now I was going to have to get rid of it).  

I went about my business for another month or so (trying to avoid eye contact with the plank lurking next to the wheelie bins) before I suddenly felt inspired to give it another chance.  I pulled out my electric planer and ran it over the top..


Huh, I thought to myself. This might actually be ok.  So I continued planing and sanding and filling the gaps and holes, and leaving other imperfections (for character of course), and staining and sanding then staining again..

Until I eventually decided I actually needed another plank to finish my projects so I took Jett with me and we collected another one. This one was in even worse condition than the first but now I had a solid plan and technique so it didn't matter.

In the end I made a long entertainment 'plank' for the new shack, and 3 bench seats.  The wood is lovely and heavy and has weird holes and termite marks and a long history and I love it.





Gold Coast Day 4-10 - It's all a bit of a blur

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

We are now just one night away from being able to fly home.  It's been a long, weird, fun, boring, frustrating, disappointing, expensive & memorable time being isolated together with friends at the Oceana on the Gold Coast.

Over the last week we've entertained ourselves with endless movies, puzzles, eating and the kids have done lots of crafts. 

First they spent a day painting by numbers:


The results actually fit in quite well with the apartments' decor. 


Then they moved onto something called GemCraft - sort of a plastic embroidery I guess. These projects actually took a few days, and we all ended up chipping in to get Jett's finished. 


Now they are working on embroideries:


The craft has been interspersed with various puzzles:



and we've had plenty of opportunities to work through all the leftover food items from other holidayers.


A few days ago we moved apartments from level 2 in one building (where we could hear the happy and annoying laughter of the families in the pools outside), to level 8 of a different building - it was nice having a change and the view definitely improved:


We can't really complain about the spacious living conditions, and it's certainly been a treat to have friends around, but we've all had moments of feeling like this: 



and this: 



Yesterday I logged onto work to try to do 2 full days before we fly home tomorrow - unfortunately it was too hard and after a few hours I gave up and applied for 2 days sick leave instead. It was simply too stressful and hard trying to work on my laptop, particularly when I wasn't feeling very well at all.  

So tomorrow we'll pack up and make our way home.  There is only us, one other family and one abandoned teenager (Niko) remaining as all the others have escaped at various times during the week - either to fly home as their close contact time expired, or to get out before they too tested positive, or to local friends who have already had covid. 


Gold Coast Day 3 - Well that took a turn.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

We'll laugh about this holiday one day.  

Zali got up this morning and having felt dodgy since the middle of the day yesterday, decided to take the one RAT test that we had on hand.  She promptly tested positive.  Alarm bells ringing, I took Riley (who conveniently got covid a few weeks ago) to the shops where he ducked out and got hold of 5 tests.  At home Jett tested positive too - he was actually showing symptoms a few days ago but we assumed he'd just got the cold that another Tasmanian had (who had been testing negative). Nup that was positive too.  

Jon tested himself next but the result was inconclusive, so we took ourselves to get PCR tests after dropping Riley off at orienteering near Seaworld. The queue for PCR testing was very short so we were able to pick him up before he had to resort to the share bikes for the 7km trip home.

Once we reported our positive tests to our friends we received many kind offers of shopping and other services - we even got some flowers delivered which was lovely.  Then the rest of the Tasmanian gang started going down too.  By the end of the day, 4 out of the 5 Tassie families staying in this apartment block have covid cases, and apparently 11 apartments in the whole building are positive too.   While this is extremely disappointing (and expensive as we've had to rebook flights and accommodation), it's kind of a great place to be isolated - we've got friends in the same situation (Zali sent Riley out to kmart for arts and crafts supplies), and as close as next door - so we can share resources and company without having to get in the lifts or go very far.  We're soldiering on as best we can!


Now if this had happened in Kingaroy (like it did to Jon's brother and sister in law) it would have been a different vibe - we were living in a shoebox there with almost no facilities and we wouldn't have got to do any orienteering at all. I'm certainly sad, and it's going to be a hassle trying to work from my laptop next week, but in the grand scheme of things, it's fine. 


Gold Coast Day 2 - Before and after and after that.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Today Jon and the kids and their friends headed to Movie World for the day.  They had fun but did spend most of the day in queues by the sounds of it. In the 7 hours they were there they got onto 5 rides and spent the rest of the time queuing with a 30 minute break. One of the queues was 2 hours long, only slightly better than when we queued to see the Statue of David in Florence. The last time we went to Movie World was at the same time of year but only Tassie kids were on holidays so the queues were much smaller - checking back through my blog I can see that we only queued for up to 30 minutes for any one ride. 

So Movie World sounded like a dud pick except when we heard that other friends who went to Wet n Wild water park, queued for the day and got onto 4 slides.  Gosh.   

I spent the day relaxing at home then strolling to the shops to get my first haircut in over a year. Jo insisted I take some before and after photos so here we are:

Before the haircut:


After the haircut (looking serious about boogie boarding):


After boogie boarding:


Once everyone got back from the park we joined our friends (who are all staying in the same apartment block) for a mexican dinner. It was a nice finish to the day.   

Gold Coast Day 1

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

It took a while to leave the apartment yesterday but we finally got out the door around 1pm with a plan to visit some waterfalls then a glow-worm cave as it got dark.   

The first destination was the Twin Falls circuit walk - which was really fantastic. It was an hours fairly arduous driving to the west of the Gold Coast up into the green hills.

The circuit was 5ish km and took us down, around, behind and above a beautiful series of waterfalls that looked out onto lush canyons with the buildings of the Gold Coast in the far off distance. 







It was a tropical version of similar Blue Mountains walks around Wentworth Falls.  We had entertained thoughts of swimming at the bottom of one of the falls it wasn't as hot as down on the coast so we really just carried our towels around the circuit. 

After we completed the circuit we drove half an hour around to Natural Bridge.



It was a short walk to the bridge which had a cave that is filled with glow worms. Our plan was to stay until it was dark so we could see in their full glory but the kids were freaked out by the bats who also lived in the cave - so we spotted just a few glow worms then left it at that.

Also there were gangs of youths in the area so we thought it was wise to leave before it got dark


We drove back to the Gold Coast where the kids made dinner while Jon and I swum in the pool. perfect. 



Crazy week part 3 - Easter 3 Day Kingaroy

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Please note that I am writing this update sprawled in the lounge in the living room of our spacious apartment on the Gold Coast. The master bedroom here is bigger than the entire motel room that we all stayed in in Kingaroy  - the last 7 days feel a bit like a blur now. 


Good Friday

After our late arrival we were up and about pretty early so we could avoid traffic getting out of Brisbane.  As we have picked up an extra passenger (the lovely Riley who travelled with us in NZ), I grabbed a lift up with Jo who was staying nearby, so we could fit everyone and the bags into the mitsubishi ASX we hired.


It was about a 2 hour drive to the first event which was the family relays and elite prologue. It was a nice grassy area with big boulders and a few creeks. I managed to miss a control but luckily I wasn't selected on the family relay team so I didn't ruin it for them. I think they finished a respectable 10th or so.


We then drove another hour or so to Kingaroy - peanut capital of Australia. We checked into our dodgy but completely acceptable motel then immediately went over to our friends' cabin in the neighbouring holiday park to use their kitchen and pool.


The first official day of the easter 3 days competition - I had a good run, Jon was good for the first half, Zali made a dumb mistake reading the number upside down on the control and thinking she was in the wrong place then spending 30 minutes looking for what she had already found, while Jett did fine. In the afternoon we hit the big Kingaroy tourist destinations.

Namely here:


and here:



Day 2 of competition - fun again but I made some mistakes which permanently cost me the overall lead.  Jon went about the same, Zali improved her reading skills and won the day, and Jett and Riley both did really well to finish their long courses (13+ straight line - 16ish by the time they were done).   We had a nice dinner with our NSW friends at the RSL before collapsing in our little motel room to recover.


The final day. I made one dumb mistake and finished 2nd over all. Jon was the same, as was Zali (which was a good recovery after her disaster on the 1st day). Jett had a good run and was very respectable overall given he's running 20E and he's 16. Riley had a rest day to recover from the big run yesterday. 


The arena on Monday was fantastic. There were beautiful grass trees everywhere and a nice little clear area to watch all the orienteers on their courses running around the nearby rocks.



After the event and the presentations we went for a swim at the local waterhole/waterfall. It was really lovely.



Then we drove the 3 hours down to the Gold Coast where we are for the next week.


Crazy week part 2

Tuesday, 19 April 2022


After finishing work later on Monday, Jon and I both worked longish days on Tuesday, followed by a zoom call with the bank, followed by driving to up to St Helens in the dark, arriving after 10. Luckily we had some accommodation organised in our friend's holiday house, so we had a good night's sleep.


But there was to be no sleep-in. We were up at 6 so we could go to the site before everything started happening. It was pretty exciting to see a huge crane towering over the street - according to its minders it had arrived and been set up the night before after doing a job in Bicheno.


We had time for a quick walk around the site before the first truck rolled around the corner.

The truck later drivers told us they left Westbury at 3am that morning so it had only taken 3 hours to get to St Helens (via the Lake Leake road as the alternatives had too many tight corners). They also told us they had a delivery to Port Huon the previous week which had them doing a 7 hour drive from midnight. Our blocks were far from the widest structures they'd delivered.   

When the first truck arrived there were a few discussions but generally the whole process was performed pretty calmly by the large crew as I guess they've done it heaps of times before. 


Discussions over it was action stations as the crane was manoeuvred around, the temporary roof over the bottom section was removed, two large slings were attached and eventually 1/4 of our holiday house was lifted up and onto the block.


While the first bit was secured to the footings with by the on-site welding crew (of 1), the next truck was driven into position.


This part had to be lifted from the top rather than with slings, as the floor structure wasn't as rigid since it was the upper story. The lower part had steel girders underneath it. 





It looked to be a lot harder and slower to lock the top story in place so Jon and I took the opportunity to go and get hot drinks and choose the carpet from the local flooring shop:


Once back on site we could see everything was secured and the welder was busy attaching tall poles to the other half of the site to hold up the other half of the top floor (the bottom right hand side will be the front door and enclosed garage which needs to be built on-site onto the concrete slab).


We had to leave at this point, but before we did, Jon talked the site manager into letting us go up a ladder to take a look at the view from the upper story. Yay - we could see the water!

We are next to an even taller & wider house which is still being built, which blocks out the neighbours behind even more than we do:


As our house is fairly narrow, our behind-neighbours (tenants) can still see out their left and right end main windows. Although I wouldn't be surprised if that place is demolished and something even taller is built behind us - they are currently very basic little units. The owner bought them after all our planning had been started - so they knew what was coming in front of them.

Anyway - at this stage we had to say goodbye and zoom back to Hobart for us both to catch up on our work, and pack for Queensland. It was great to see the photos of the house when they were sent through at the end of the day. It's no architectural marvel but I think it looks great.  The bottom rhs will be enclosed.



Now there is a few more months of waiting while the garage/front door area is completed, the stairs are installed, the deck is tiled and the deck railings attached. The kitchen benches and tiling needs to be finished too, and lots more things that we probably aren't even aware of. 


After the big day, Thursday was also pretty huge with a hectic last day of work, last minute packing and then cleaning for the house sitters, followed by a late evening flight to Queensland. Amazingly we arrived on time at 11pm, but we had to endure a few hours of stuffing around picking up the hire car which was off site and involved a shuttle bus which couldn't fit us all in at once.  It was amazing to finally get to bed at 1am. 

Crazy week part 1

Friday, 15 April 2022

Work is crazy at the moment, I'm working long hours and seem to be living with heightened anxiety levels between 8am and 6.30pm every working day. It's wearing me out.

So this week was always going to be extra daunting.  Exciting, but daunting.

It started last Saturday:

Jon and I volunteered to be course marshals on the new kunanyi mountain running event - our mission was to sit at Junction Cabin and encourage and direct the runners through to the correct track of the 5 available choices at that particular junction (theirs was the most uphill on).  It was an easy and fun gig, the only less than easy bit (but still fun), was the bit about getting up at 4.30am so we could drive up to the springs then walk the 3.5k in the dark to get to our position in time.   


Not surprisingly we were running a bit late, so we had to jog the last 2 ks - luckily we have good head torches, and lots of warm clothes. As soon as we got to our position we changed out of running shoes, and into ugg boots and puffer jackets.  We didn't need them all day though, by the time we clocked off at around noon, it was t-shirt weather. I think it was a great day out for all the runners - we certainly had a good time.


Once we got home around 2, we had originally planned to pack the car and head to launceston but instead we decided to stay at home for the night as we weren't ready to go anywhere and it meant Zali and I could watch the F1 Grand Prix qualifying.


Getting up early again, we drove the 2.5 hours to go orienteering near Evandale which was fun. Then we sent Jett home with Jo, while the rest of us continued on to Launceston making it to our budget motel minutes before the start of the F1.  This was the moment when Zali finally let us start eating the delicious F1 themed biscuits she had made.



Thankfully we could sleep in until 8 before packing up and heading to Westbury to do our first (and last) inspection of our holiday house which is being built at the Tasbuilt site there.  It was exciting to see all our choices come together:




After our pretty quick look around the 3 sections, we scooted back home and to our desks to work the rest of the day. That kind of ended part one of the crazy week. 


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