Monday, April 30, 2012

"Ripper" Touring Australia!!

Awesome. I'll be there!

Idiots and End of Month

It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that people can be so bloody stupid.
Actually, let's just tell it like it is. Why are there so many fuckwits in the world, and why do they seem to be employed in the workplace where I am at?!

I spent a fair chunk of my Monday afternoon last week writing emails to our counter staff, pointing out where errors were being made in regards to goods receipting products from various different suppliers into our yards and stores, and trying in the simplest terms to show them the correct way to do them. Well, that seems to have been time wasted, because on no less than eight different delivery dockets from the end of last week, the same errors were still being done. So, I asked myself, was it my fault? Was I not clear enough. Well, on this occasion, no that wasn't the problem. It was in fact all too clear that the emails had been all but ignored by most people, and they had just kept doing what they decided was correct.
Was I a little angry at this? Yes. But better was to come.

I was asked late last week to order in a face plate for a mail box as a special order, by one of our gentlemen at one of our northern yards. After I had researched said product and found it unavailable in the style and colour that was required, it was decided that the customer would purchase the entire mailbox. I then went through the process of explaining that

1. as this was a special order, it was not returnable if it was incorrect or not what they were after, and

2. that as a special order, it needed to be paid for up front, and that

3. there was also a freight charge that we would be slugged for by the company, and that it would be passed on in full to the customer.

All clear as crystal, correct? Impossible not to understand, right? Especially as our counter staff read all that back to me, and apparently had the customer in front of him as I explained it.


Within 15 minutes of my arrival I had discovered the following:

1. The customer had come to pick up the letterbox, and freaked at the price, claiming he'd never been told he had to pay a freight charge.

2. Having carried on like a goose for 10 minutes in front of other customers, our front counter personnel (not the one who took the order) allowed him to leave with the item and not pay the freight charge.

3. By doing this, we actually made a loss on the sale.

4. An hour later the guys called up, said it wasn't right, and was returning it. Again, front counter personnel allowed this to happen.

5. I then blew my top, used every word under the sun to our northern personnel, and hung up.

To top off the day, it's the last day of the month, and I'm staying back to do end of month, meaning I won't be out of work until about 7pm.

Awesome stuff. Awesome stuff.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Promised Xbox Morning and Zac's Birthday

The kids had pretty much all made me promise to play on the Xbox this morning - well, any morning or afternoon up until now. So I said they could.
Mind you, I was hoping for a sleep-in before anything. That all came crashing down when Josh started singing in his bed at 6.15am, and there appeared little hope that Helen was going to wake up and take him downstairs. Given that Maddi was also awake when I got up, there was little I could do.

So we spent a couple of hours playing golf and baseball once Jess woke up after 8.30am. It's good that the kids enjoy it so much, and also that we don't spend hours every day on it. It still makes it special.

Also, it looks like we can now purchase a basketball add-on for Kinect Sports. I'll have to look into it sometime soon when I have some money left, after Helen spent 11 hours away yesterday. Yes, that's right. She got home about 7.30pm last night. Wow.

At 12.30pm we headed off to Louise and Murray's for Zac's 14th birthday. It's a little disconcerting that he's now 14 years old. It almost always makes Helen and I think of our first pregnancy. If it had gone through, we too would have a child 14 years old, as it's due date was April 14. Probably very good for us that we don't/didn't.  :)

Stephen King - Ranked 62 to 1.

Found this article the other day through Facebook. It's an interesting read, moreso if you are a Stephen King fan. They ranked all of King's books from 62 to 1. It's an interesting idea. So, of course, now I am going to have a crack at it. Let's see how I go.

Following is the link to the article, and (in case the link is now dead) the list as it had his books.
The Complete Works: Ranking All 62 Stephen King Books

62. Rose Madder
61. The Tommyknockers
60. Dreamcatcher
59. Insomnia
58. The Regulators
57. Rage
56. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
55. Blaze
54. Gerald’s Game
53. Cell
52. Blockade Billy
51. Cycle of the Werewolf
50. The Colorado Kid
49. Black House
48. Needful Things
47. The Long Walk
46. Christine
45. Duma Key
44. Four Past Midnight
43. Firestarter
42. Nightmares & Dreamscapes
41. The Running Man
40. Bag of Bones
39. Just After Sunset
38. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
37. Faithful
36. Everything’s Eventual
35. The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole
34. Cujo
33. Thinner
32. Full Dark, No Stars
31. The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
30. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
29. Desperation
28. The Dark Half
27. The Eyes of the Dragon
26. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
25. Carrie
24.  11/22/63
23. The Green Mile
22. Hearts in Atlantis
21. Night Shift
20. Roadwork
19. The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
18. Pet Sematery
17. Dolores Claiborne
16. From a Buick 8
15. The Talisman
14. The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
13. Skeleton Crew
12. Under the Dome
11. Danse Macabre
10. Lisey’s Story
9. The Dead Zone
8. Salem’s Lot
7. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
6. Misery
5. Different Seasons
4. The Shining
3. It
2. On Writing
1. The Stand

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Champions Day at Randwick

More Joyous - champion
What another sensational day's racing at Randwick today in the last day of the Sydney Autumn Carnival. Unfortunately my run of good day's came to an end, finishing behind about $20 on the day. If only Neeson had got that extra head up in the last I'd have gotten the quaddie again. Such is life.

Fat Al was terrific once again, certainly one to watch in Brisbane this winter. Pierro was magnificent again, though a fast finishing Dear Demi is another to keep following in the future. Atlantic Jewel backed up it's $1.15 odds with another scintillating win, though Rain Affair gave her a good shake up.
Niwot won the Sydney Cup in great fashion, and was again the tip on course. This was followed by the brilliant Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where the champion More Joyous brought more joy for her followers by winning easily against a class field including Manighar and Americain. Super stuff, and just great to watch. Now Neeson, where's that extra head? The damn quaddie paid $142.90, and I had 27% on it. Oh well, only $40 missed out on there.
Black Caviar - Champion

This was all topped off by Black Caviar racing at Morphettville, and again powering away to win. Marvellous to watch. I had all the kids watching More Joyous and Black Caviar. One day they'll be able to tell their kids they saw them run.

What a great way to spend the day. pity I didn't win enough to cover what Helen has probably spent at Ikea today with Chris and Anne, but the day was still a joy.

An Injury, a Goal and a Win!!

Jess had her second weekend of hockey today, at the very impressive outdoor fields at Unanderra. As Helen was otherwise indisposed I had the care of all three kids, so we all made the journey.

The first game saw Jess suffer her first injury in hockey. In making a good save of a ball heading towards the Albion Park goal, her feet stuck on the astro turf and sent her to the ground. In trying to halt her fall, she landed heavily on her wrist and twisted, bringing on the tears and the 'medicos' to help. i was at the other end of the ground with the other two terrors and Andrew Bancroft, and by the time I had made it to where Jess was she was being administered ice, and appeared okay. After five minutes, she said she was right to go, and she got back onto the ground. What a trooper!

Having lost that game 2-0, the second game was on the adjoining ground, and the girls (and one boy in the team) all were playing well. Before we knew it, they had made a break downfield, led by Jess, and at the end of the movement Jess had put the ball into the goals! Albion Park led 1-0, and Jess had scored her first goal in hockey!
Despite the length of the second game eating into the fitness of all the players, they managed to score another goal late in the game. their opponents answered with 10 seconds to play, but still Albion Park won their first game of the season by 2-1.

It was amazing to see the improvement of all the team since their first match, and especially pleasing to see it in Jessica. As a reward - and because their mother was spending the day at Ikea (and probably spending hundreds) - we all went to KFC Albion Park for lunch.

Great job Jess. And great job Dad.

2-0 Win in Windies as Sweet as Always

Aussies wiped up the remains of the Windies this morning to win the 3rd Test by 75 runs, and claim the Frank Worrell Trophy 2-0.
It might not have been as comprehensive as it could have been, but in tough conditions and a still learning team, it was pretty impressive.

No Test cricket now until the new Australian summer, but some ODI's in England soon, and an A team tour to the Old Dart as well, to help prepare for next year's Ashes series.

3rd Test Scorecard: West Indies vs Australia

Friday, April 27, 2012


Seriously - how hard is it to do things correctly?

I spent all of yesterday (9 hours) and most of today (about 6 hours worth) trying to get all of the bricks in our MJ Rowles database to balance to their correct levels. Now this can sometimes be difficult with our everyday bricks, such as common bricks and exposure grade bricks, because all yards stock them, and sometimes they get taken from the yards instead of being delivered straight from PGH in Sydney.
But what about the bricks that we don't actually stock? the ones that people order 30,000 of, and then only get about 2000 delivered at a time? It really can't be that hard to make them all add up correctly, can it.

Well apparently, yes, it can. Because 15 hours of my week has gone into TRYING to balance them. And they still aren't completely correct. Bloody hell that is frustrating.
The result? Well, sometime in the next two weeks I am going to devise a system that stops this from happening. Because it just can't keep happening. It can't.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Anzac Day

There is nothing better than getting up early on Anzac Day morning... and turning on the TV to see Australia belting the crap out of the West Indies in a Test Match. Yesterday, the first day, Australia had been in awful trouble at 7/160, but had moved along to 7/212 at stumps thanks to Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc. This morning, Australia had finally been dismissed for 328, thnaks to a debut century by Wade, who was eventually dismissed for 106, his second fifty coming off 29 balls. Super stuff. Australia then had the Windies all over at 8/120, but a late defensive effort saw stumps drawn at 8/165. Great stuff from the Aussies, and let's hope tomorrow they can do a real number on them.

After a casual morning of music listening (by me) and cooking pumkin soup and anzac biscuits (Helen & the kids) we headed over to Mum and Dad's for Anzac Day lunch with the Peters/Wallace/Parker tribe. Dad cooked sausages and rissoles on the barby, combined with salad and rolls. He also had some special curried sausages and rice to try, which was just terrific. Helen and I will often cook sausage casserole for us and the kids, but without the curry (unfortunately). We're both looking forward to the day when they'll eat that too. It might be tough to beat Dad's recipe, even though Helen still has a good one from her David Berry Hospital days.

Collingwood and Essendon put on another classic this afternoon in their Anzac Day clash. Collingwood lead for most of the day by two goals, but surrendered that late in the fourth quarter, and with two minutes to play fell five points behind. They then (finally) answered with one of their own to lead by a single point - and they hung on to win. Amazing. Another heart stopper. It is far too difficult to be a Collingwood supporter. No wonder so many of them die of heart failure so long (not an actual fact, but realistic).
Collingwood v Essendon report

Much the same in the Dragons and Roosters clash, where a dreadful refereeing decision gave the Roosters an 8 point buffer with four minutes to play, only for the Dragons to score from their owen kick-off, and then score again in the last play of the game to win 28-24. Unbelievable drama.
Dragons v Roosters report

Helen cooked pumpkin soup for tea. For my taste, the pumpkin and cream didn't agree with me, even after a whole heap of cayenne pepper had been added. No I didn't tell her, she isn't taking that kind of truth too well at the moment. I smiled and told her it was great. She loved it, so in the long run that is all that matters.

Do we really have to go to work tomorrow? *sigh*

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Day of Peace

Helen and the kids went up to Bowral today with Chris and Chris, essentially to see a kids movie The Pirates: Band of Misfits, but also to check out the Wade's new winery-of-choice. This left me a half day at home to my own devices.

So what did I do? I hear you ask. Well... I had a hard look at the bank account, and set up to pay our upcoming bills, and realised we are struggling a little again. Oh well, somehow we'll get out of it. I guess. I also cooked dinner - beef and vegetable casserole tonight, I'm guessing that won't be super popular.
Then it was time to watch some footy, the AFL was on from 1pm, but at 4pm was the A League Grand Final between Brisbane and Perth. And what a great game of soccer it was. Tough, tight, attacking. Seriously, when the game is played well, there is no reason soccer in this country should be in any trouble. 50,000 people squeezed into Suncorp Stadium, hanging on every move. The only shame abot the game was the rushed penalty given in the 97th minute in Brisbane's goal box, allowing Barisha to score the penalty that won the game 2-1 with 10 seconds left on the clock. The game deserved to go into extra time, and the penalty probably should not have been awarded.
Not that the Brisbane team or fans cared.

Roar Win A-League Grand Final

More drama with Josh and his (non) eating of his dinner tonight. I am now honestly looking forward to the day he is eating us out of house and home, because the 105 minutes he took tonight to eat a piece of potato, a pieve of carrot and a piece of beef, being cajoled, smacked and set to a corner constantly is wearing me down. I think I should stop giving him dinner. It's becoming a waste of time.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

More Joyous - What a Champion

Had a terrific day at Kembla Grange today for the annual Kiama Cricket Club Punters Club Day. However, the numbers were disappointing. It would appear that the lure of the track is beginning to wear thin with most of our usual crowd. The thing that really makes it hard is that everyone knows the day - I let them all know in August, so it's not as though they haven't got enough warning. And even after numerous text messages and postings on the Club Forum, some guys let me know three days out they weren't coming, and others didn't even bother. I certainly won't be bothering to do it again next season. It's a shame because I do enjoy it, and the day, but with only 5 of 12 showing up this year, it isn't worth my trouble.

Anyway, despite this, Moorey, Barrie, Chook, Spud and myself met at the Grand Hotel for a couple of heartstarters and a check of the form guide. The kitty was still pretty heavy, and it was a great card. We caught the train from Kiama, and arrived at Kembla in time for the first in Sydney, and we picked up a table in the Mug Punters area that we tend to frequent every time we go.

Moorey had a pearler of a day, picking about six winners, and also had his all-up that netted a $300+ return for his outlay. We tried hard with the quaddie and the trifecta in the main races, but fell short on all occasions.
My day was pretty good in the end.

Race 1 - Dear Demi each way. 1st.
Race 2 - Meidung each way. 3rd.
Race 3 - Lightinthenite win. 1st.
Race 5 - Full of Spirit each way. Nowhere.
Race 6 - Western Symbol each way. 1st.

Race 7 - More Joyous win. 1st.
Race 8 - Temple of Boom place. 1st.

The highlight of the day was watching More Joyous coming home to win the Doncaster - not just becuase my money was on her, but because she is a great horse, and deserves the success of such a prestigious race. Just fantastic to watch.

I finished a little over $150 in front on the day, thanks to the double bonus paid by on a winning pick in the Doncaster. I've had three very good Saturday's punting in a row. I'm sure the boom will fall sometime soon.

Bonfire Time. Thanks Zac Parker for photo.
Afterwards I got off the train at Bombo and walked up to Tony & Angela's house, where they were hosting a bonfire to raise money for Relay for Life. Met everyone there, and Helen had some Jimmy cans for me, which was a welcome relief from the thousand beers I'd had at Kembla. Watched West Coast and Hawthorn battle it out before we came home about 10.30pm. as Helen has been somewhat concerned that her sleep patterns have been disturbed on the last couple of occasions I have tied one on, because I apparently toss and turn and moan, I slept on the lounge rather than continue this disturbance,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crazy Grandkids Day

The sun came out, and the day moved smoothly. Friday's at work can sometimes take forever. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can't get out of first gear. Today was a day like that. I achieved things that I needed to, but couldn't get going on starting other things that I needed to. Need to start pushing that stuff next week.

Off to Mum and Dad's this afternoon. Louise is at a wedding and Murray is out west mining, so lucky M&D are looking after the kids tonight. Angela was there with her tribe though, so it was the Crazy 12 all together in one house. Madness.

We celebrated Alex's birthday (which was on Tuesday) and Maddi's birthday (from a few weeks ago).

Rain Suffers a Draw in the Windies

Hilfy strikes! From CricInfo.
Rain has halted any chance of a result in the 2nd Test in the Windies, after more aggressive batting and declarations from the Aussies at least brought the game to life.
You can't help but be impressed with Michael Clarke's captaincy since he took over the reigns of the Test team. He wants to win, he's looking to win, and will occasionally risk losing the match in order to win it. It's what makes Test cricket great to watch.

Two more bowlers are going home with back injuries. Peter Siddle looks to have stress fractures, which is very disappointing given the amazing strides he has taken this season. Hopefully he can recuperate and return as strong as this season. James Pattinson has gone down again, which is a little more concerning. Reports suggest it is just a protective measure, and that his isn't as serious as Siddle's. We can only hope. Could open the way for Mitch Starc to get another crack, although I guess it is more likely they will stick with Lyon and Beer as the dual spin attack for the final Test starting next week.

Scorecard: 2nd Test West Indies v Australia

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Can Ear Piercing Bring on Vomiting?

It has pretty much belted down with rain all night again. It's hard to believe that the forecasters can be right so many day in a row. Almost unbelievable really.
I was hoping to see some cricket this morning from the Windies, but it has been raining over there too, with Australia 3/73 in the 2nd innings, a lead of 124 with one day remaining. Hard to see a result other than a draw now, but you never know. Good to see Nathan Lyon finished with his second 5-fa in Test cricket, and that Ricky is 34 not out.

Robyn was back this morning after two days of Troy minding. She showed off some photos of his face after his operation. He looked as though he'd been in a brawl. Still, better that and having had the cancer cut out than the alternative. The nurse told him if he hadn't had it done, he probably wouldn't have been around in 12 months time. Scary.

Work was slow accordingly with the rain. Need to start getting these stock counts sorted for EOFY, even though that is ten weeks away. With the staff changes at yards again, my routine is shot to pieces, and I'll need to get on top of that again soon. Monday, maybe...

Helen took herself and the girls off to get their ears pierced this morning. I had been against it. Six to eight months ago when it had been discussed, we agreed (I thought) that the girls could have heir ears pierced when they turned ten years old. However, when Helen decided that she wanted hers done when she turned 40, and the girls showed some enthusiasm to have theirs done, she decided that it would be great for all three of them to have them done at the same time. The girls enthusiasm ebbed and waned over that time, but they had all now decided they wanted to. Yes, I was still against the idea, but it was out of my hands.

Helen rang me at 1.00pm to say they were home. Jessie had worked herself up so much that she vomited in the chair while her ears were being done, and they had to get her cleaned up. Maddi (as was expected) burst into tears as she was about to have hers done. Helen said the girl who did the three of them was very good, and talked to them about their holiday and other stuff to take their minds off it.

Anyway, they are done, and now they can begin the two months of sterilisation and twirling to keep the holes intact. Good luck with that, dearies!

Dinner tonight was home made mini pizzas. Mine had pretty much everything on it that I'm not supposed to be eating. Probably why it tasted so good.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


It belted down rain for most of the night, about 40mm in Albion Park. This morning however there was only little splatters around the place. Given they had forecast huge wings and rain, so far our corner of the world has survived pretty much unscathed.

Work seemed to progressing nicely this morning, until Louise came in with a problem on the invoices for our cash trade customers. For some reason, this fails to print the delivery time, which caused some problems for one customer today. The cash trade account was not really set up for deliveries, and it is only because we are now pushing all our trade customers to set one up that it has appeared.
So Bill, in his haste, jumped straight into the 'set up' part of Attaché that he has never delved into, and after about 20 minutes was able to work out what fields to change to make this work. Straight forward, right? Nope. In doing so, I had inadvertently changed something else (I still don't see how) and I have now apparently stuffed up the format of the invoice, meaning it prints over itself, or prints over two pages. Annoying? Yes. After another 3 hours trying to fix it, I gave up, and hoped it won't prove too much of a problem before I can get back to it and try and work out what I've done. GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!

By the time this had eroded any semblance of joy from my day, Dennis then came forth and delivered the bad news about the statements that were now three weeks overdue - they would not be able to be emailed, and we had to print them all out and out them together with the invoice print out and put them all in envelopes and then mail them. By this afternoon. YAY!!! That's awesome. No pressure at all. In essence, Suds and Bill (with Robyn being off again today), drop everything you are doing, and get this task completed.
Well, in the long run, it probably helped that I couldn't think about my problems any longer, and got on with the mind numbing task of stuffing envelopes. Took until 4pm without a lunch break, but it got done, and Dennis began breathing a little easier, so perhaps he won't be so stressed tomorrow.

The kids each had a friend over today (Emily, Chloe-Jo and Lucas respectively) and had a great day by all accounts. The lounges also arrived, which made Helen very happy.

Helen made beef stroganoff for dinner with penne and fettucine, which was as good as always. She also had five girls over for a stitching night from 7.00pm, so I headed for the Metal Cavern, and listened to some music and wrote a couple of reviews. There's nothing like metal to get that aggression out of the body after a long unhappy work day. \m/

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Aaaaaaaaaand back to work we go. And what a surprise, there has been another staff reshuffle in my absence. In fact, the only surprise in that has been that I have been left alone! For four years, every time I have taken Annual Leave, I come back to find I have been moved positions or yards or both! On this occasion, it was not me, but most of the others in the yards who moved to a new one.

Quite a bit of paperwork awaited my arrival today, lots of fun. More than anything else, I have my eye on the ten weeks that remain between now and the end of June, when I have to have all of the stock right again. Should be a barrel-full of laughs. Still, with Robyn away (Troy was having his cancer cut off his lip today) and Hayley failing to show to cover her, it was just me and Suds holding the fort. Yeah, we got heaps done.

Helen and the kids had a big day. Went off to Freedom, as Lid had found our chocolate brown armchair, that we had purchased one of when we bought Roper Road for $599 was now at the end of stock, and on special for $299. Our last chance to buy a second one. I acceded to her request. She also had a voucher for her birthday and bought the lamp she was after, and some cushions, and some other stuff. Loves to shop that girl.

The new lamp

We also had to move our faithful blue lounge, that has done 12 years service since we bought Mayfield Circuit, upstairs to the kids rumpus room, where it was immediately jumped upon after 18 months of using just bean bags up there. I think it all works out OK.

Helen made lasagna and vegetables for dinner. Good show all round. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Last Day of Holidays

Today was my last day of leave, which will bring to a close eleven very enjoyable days away from work and with the family. Not sure I want to know what awaits me when I get up tomorrow morning.

Helen was at work at the KGC today, but when Joey started barking at 6.05am I was still close enough to being awake anyway, so I got up and watched the last hour of the first day's play from the 2nd Test in the Windies. Aussies struggling a little at 5/208, but the wicket is already a landmine, and we don't have to bat last. If we can get to 300 it might be a winning total with two spinners in the line up.

The kids woke up gradually, and I put them through their usual Monday morning routine to get them ready. As I needed to get milk, bread and potatoes (for tonight's dinner) we went for a bike/scooter ride down to Terry Street shops, which got the kids (and their dad) out of the house.

As promised yesterday, the rest of the day was Xbox 360 day, and we spent four hours playing sports against each other, which was fun. Jess did not enjoy losing at tennis to Maddi, and Maddi did not enjoy losing at tennis to Josh! Josh had an unusually bad day at golf (he usually plays much better) which he didn't enjoy. Overall though, everyone had fun.

A couple of album reviews today. They will be posted following this.

Baked dinner tonight - lamb roast with potatoes and carrots with gravy (Dad forgot to buy peas at the shops...). Josh against refused to eat, so I employed a new tactic tonight, sending him to the corner and not to come out until he was ready to eat his dinner. 25 minutes later he had a go, tried some potato and meat, and that was enough to appease us slightly. We'll keep trying.

More of The West Wing tonight. Moving into Season 5. It is still fascinating and remarkably enjoyable. One of the great American series.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Relaxing Sunday

It's been a long time since Helen and I have spent almost an entire day without children around. Funnily enough, we both still woke up by 7.00am out of routine.

And so it was a very quiet relaxing day, one that has been a long time coming. Helen chose to stay in bed and read (after I had delivered her toast and coffee for breakfast) while I went out for a quick walk. On my return, it was time to clean up a couple of things on the computer and watch some Stanley Cup play-offs. Once Helen was up at around 10.00am we had coffee on the deck - oh my, the peace, the serenity - and then she had to finish off some work, so I did some more blog updating from our holiday (see earlier posts).

I made lunch just after midday, and sat down with my lovely wife as she watched... well... her shows. Who Do You Think You Are? with Melissa George as the subject, Grand Designs Australia and Australian Story. All very good shows, but not my choice of viewing. However, it was good to watch them with no distractions and in an adult setting.

I then had the displeasure to see the Eels faulter under pressure to lose to Cronulla 24-18 in the afternoon league game. This leaves Parramatta anchored to the bottom of the table with only one victory this season. One wonders if they can win many more given their current form.

Chris and Chris dropped the kids back at 4.00pm, having spent the day in Bowral and Mittagong. They had a great day, and it was great to see that they had had such a great time with their grandparents.
I cooked tortellini for the kids and lamb rogan josh for myself and Helen for dinner. Came up pretty good. It is such a shame that lamb costs so much now, because it is superb to use in curries. Oh well, the occasional time doesn't break the bank too much.

Spent the evening watching more of The West Wing. Helen has work tomorrow at the Golf Club, and I am on my last day of a very short holiday looking after the kids.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ethiopia Brings Home the Bacon

Helen had to do some work with landscape design today, so the rest of us were left to our own devices. As the kids had had a busy week or so, I decided to leave them to their own devices as such.

With our new lounges arriving on Wednesday, I decided that we needed to move around the upstairs rumpus room to accomodate when our blue lounge goes upstairs for the kids to use. Have you ever tried to move a piano on your own? It's quite an onerous task. Still, with a lack of common sense and some unknown grunt I managed to change it to my satisfaction.

Then it was down to some serious punting. I made ten bets on the day, $2.50 each way on all. I usually put $5 each way, but with more races to bet on (given I had the time to look) I decided to pull back a little. The horses and results were:
  • Randwick Race 2 Number 2 - Now You Know (2nd, paying $1.90)
  • Randwick Race 3 Number 1 - Secret Liaison (3rd, paying $2.10)
  • Randwick Race 4 Number 2 - Neeson (4th)
  • Randwick Race 5 Number 3 - Raceway (4th again - probably your last chance...)
  • Randwick Race 6 Number 5 - Celts (6th)
  • Randwick Race 7 Number 11 - Ethiopia (wins Australian Derby! Paid $18.90 & $4.20!!!)
  • Randwick Race 8 Number 9 - Hanks (nowhere)
  • Flemington Race 4 Number 5 - Jessica Rose (5th)
  • Flemington Race 7 Number 4 - Faster Son (5th)
  • Sydney Quaddie, three horses in each race, outlaying $10 for 12.5% return. Got it as well! Quaddie paid $1033, of which I picked up $134.30!!
So it was a successful day. Looking forward to Punters Club Day next Saturday.

The kids stayed the night at Chris and Chris', and Helen and I went out to the movies to watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was just terrific. A wonderful cast and an excellently written script made for a terrific combination.  Straight up it is a rating of 4/5, and probably deserves higher.

Given we have been eating out so often, we settled for Sam's Kebabs on the way home, and watched four episodes of The West Wing to complete our evening. Very relaxed and enjoyable.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Home Again. Home Again...

We headed home from our holiday in the Blue Mountains this morning. I think without doubt it was the best holiday we have had as a family. Despite the seemingly constant drain on asking the kids to do the same thing over and over again, they were really good. They didn't drag their feet, they enjoyed all the sights we went to, and overall they were fantastic.

All the kids, but perhaps now moreso Josh, have the Peters Loud Voice. I lost count on how many times each day I had to ask them to keep their voices down. Amusing now to look back at that.

Good job by Origin Energy too. We arrived home to a new bill, after their first bill to us last week incorrectly only credited us for 6 cents per kilowatt for our solar energy instead of 26 cents. Helen spent about 50 minutes on the phone to them last week to get it fixed, and they cancelled that bill and said they would send out another bill with the correct amount.

They sent a new bill... that was EXACTLY the same as the last bill.

So as soon as we arrived home at 11.30am this morning, Helen was back on the phone, until 1.10pm. What a freaking joke. They assured her that this time it would be fixed. All I can say is... it had want to be...

Watched the movie Up with Josh today (before he fell asleep half way through). It was okay, but seemed to harp too much on the sadness of the situation. Maybe I'm just too old and taking too much of it in. It was OK.

Went to Mum and Dad's this afternoon, and saw Ange and Louise and their tribes for the first time in a month or so. Sophie has shot up about a foot in recent month's and is beginning to become a young woman. As Ferris Bueller said so correctly, time moves fast...

Dad's feast tonight was spicy pumpkin soup and musaman beef curry. Another triumph with the soup, but as good as his curry was, I think mine is still the superior.  :)

Having come home and suffered through Carlton belting the Magpies by almost 60 points, I had to endure another showing of The Towering Inferno to help to wash away that agony. There is nothing worse than losing to Carlton, but we've had a good run in recent seasons, so I can't complain too much.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blue Mountains Family Holiday: Day 4

Our final full day in the Blue Mountains was again to be a full one. We raided the breakfast once again before heading out for another trip out amongst the mountains. Th eday itself was more threatening weather-wise, with ominous clouds hanging overhead.

First stop was the Zig Zag Railway, off the Bells Line of Road towards Lithgow. I had never been on it, and was looking forward to it. As it turned out, we arrived at about 9.45am, when the first train wasn't to leave until 11.00am. Bill's obsession with being on time was on this occasion a little too far fetched.

This time was spent by Josh picking up a toy steam train (which he didn't stop playing with for days afterwards), reading some tourist paraphenalia, and having a coffee.

Jess and Maddi sign the Visitor Book at Zig Zag Railway.
Soon enough, we were on the train, and off down the mountainside. It really is a marvel of achievement, and the view is spectacular. Through the original tunnel which lasts for about half a minute, to the zig zag down the side of the mountain, it's quite a sight. The kids, when they weren't fighting to get a window seat in the train, also enjoyed it, which was good. Even though it was a diesel train that we were on, as the steam trains were all out of service at the time, it didn't detract from the scenery, and overall it didn't detract from the experience. At the bottom of the hill we had a tour of the sheds, where the trains were being prepared for the weekend for their big Thomas the Tank Engine long weekend. Given how busy and full our train was today, I'm glad we weren't around for the weekend.

Maddi, Jess and Josh on the train.

The view from the top of the decent of the railway.

"Get off the tracks Josh! There's a train coming!"

Ww left for Helen's big part of the trip - the Mt Wilson open gardens - just after 1.00pm. Ten minutes into the half hour trip, all three kids were fast asleep, with no chance of being disturbed. This meant that for a couple of hours, we would drive to different gardens, which Helen would then walk around and check out while I sat in the car and kept the kids company. To be honest, I think I got the best end of that deal.
Fortunately, by the time we reached what constituted the last garden, the kids awoke, and they got some lunch into them by mid-afternoon.

From here we moved on to Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens, where we hadn't been for 20 years. It is still spectacular, though the kids were beginning to have had enough. The milkshakes at the end helped to soothe their fractures nerves.

Dinner tonight was up at PapaDino's Italian Restaurant, and was a hit. The kids were given some pizza dough to make into any shape they wanted, and was then cooked in the oven for them to take home.
Josh and Maddi were happy to share a cheese pizza, while Helen and I shared a Supreme pizza, and Jessie wanted Bolognase, which I got some of as well as a small size was really a large size. For under $60 for a great meal, we had once again hit upon a winner.

We ventured back to the Motel to watch Where the Wild Things Are, which was really quite long, quite tedious and not fantastic for young kids or adults. Still, the kids seemed to enjoy it, and I guess that's all you can ask for. I won't require seeing it again. again

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blue Mountains Family Holiday: Day 3

The days aren't getting any warmer in Katoomba, but this was exacerbated today as we headed off for Jenolan Caves, an 80 minute journey along the ranges. We all loaded up at breakfast once again befor the trip. The kids amused themselves as they fought out Mario Karts on Jessie's Nintendo DSI, while we all were again amazed at the countryside, and how those first white explorers must have seen the country on their first forays over the mountains. On the roadside, a sign proclaims the spot where the first exploration of Blaxland, Lawson & Wentworth finished in 1813. Amazing to think that it was almost 200 years ago.

The weather at Jenolan Caves was... well... as close to freezing as you can get. The breeze just enforced the cold even more, and I began to wonder just how tough this day was going to be.

Cold? My word, yes!

The early guided cave walks had been sold out, including the Imperial Cave, which was the easiest grade, and the one we had thought of taking. However, with the popularity of the tours at a premium, they put on an extra guided tour of the Lyons Cave. This was graded as the most difficult, with 916 steps in all, and most at very steep grades. However, we were assured our "fit" kids would be fine, and so at 11.00am we ascended the moountain to begin the tour.

Excited to silliness about going into the cave.
The cave itself was fantastic. It took a little over 90 minutes to walk through, see all of the sights, and listen to the excellent commentary by our guide. In the massive Cathedral Cavern, they not only turned all of the lights off, proving that no light could penetrate from the outside, but they then even played some music ("The Ecstacy of Gold") to showcase the natural amphitheatre. The kids had a ball, and learned a lot. So did their parents.

On our return to Katoomba, we decided to go against last night's decision, and indeed go out to eat. Helen and I had noticed the Indian restaurant just around the corner from our motel, and decided to eat there, as it had appeared popular with locals. I rang to book and early table, and at 5.30pm we walked in to Anki's Indian Restaurant. As it was, all but three tables already had reserved signs on, a good sign.

Ready for Indian!

In short - it was as good a meal as I have had. The samosas for starters were very spicy and tasty. The garlic naan were huge! We had originally ordered four, but were encoraged by our host that three would be more than sufficient. The basket of pappadams was also huge. Helen ordered a chickpea and lentil curry, which she said was terrific. I was immediately drawn to what was only described as the "Chef Special" - choice of meat cooked with capsicum and onion and special "HOT" sauce. No actual description of the curry, just Chef's Special. And it was hot - it burned the lips and tongue immediately with the spice and chilli. But it was superb. With a combination of rice, naan, pappadams and about a litre of water, I ate it all with glee. It was amazing. I asked if the chef would perhaps let me know his recipe, in the hope that I could reproduce this at home. I was denied, and no wonder. If I could cook this i wouldn't be letting go of it either! The kids had a great time with rice and naan and some chicken, and at a total cost of just $78 for all of us, it was just a brilliant meal. If you go to Katoomba, go to Anki's Restaurant in Waratah Street. You won't be disappointed.

Our meal. Check out the chilli red goodness of the Chef's Special!
We returned to our rooms, and watched The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe... well, three of us did, as Jess and Josh collapsed into sleep after their big day.