Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Back at work.

Mutterings continued.

It was my offsider's last day today so it was kind of sad. She had a nice send off and some lovely pressies, and we're having lunch on Friday. Which is nice. On the plus side, I'm getting all her left over stationery, and being the stationery slut I am, this is a Good Thing.

My Tripod hosted guestbook now has four bloody popups when I open it and that's very annoying.

Today's This Time Last Year:

Our last day in Perth, off to Hadrian's Wall tomorrow. We visited the Perth library and had mornoes in their cafe. There was an exhibition of silk painting on and the works of art, and they were art, were hung around the walls of the cafe.

Off to Stirling to visit the Dr Who Exhibition - it was closed. *sigh* Had a mooch around the town instead and then did a guided tour of Stirling Castle, a fascinating place. The Wallace Monument, a chap who was lost to history for 600 years, can be seen from the battlements. The Great Hall was built nearly 500 years ago and fell into disrepair - restoration work was completed in 1999 and is breathtaking.

We watched a huge tapestry being weaved by a group of local weavers in the Palace Apartments. The castle is also home to the Regimental Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Note to travelers - never wear shoes with stiletto heels when visiting national monuments, particularly those built on the top of a hill and have cobblestones. Ash and I watched in amusement as one fashion victim hobbled her way downhill in a pair of shoes that could not have been any more unsuitable for the terrain.

Monday, September 29, 2003


Mutterings continued.

A news item has just reported that Amanda Vanstone has been made Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. I’m sure she’ll bring the same care and compassion to this portfolio that she brought to welfare recipients in her last. None at all.

On a brighter note, it’s been raining! Thunderstorms were forecast but I haven’t heard any, dammit.

One of the great things about living here is I can hear the White-cheeked gibbons at the Zoo calling to each other. From this angle I’m not sure if it’s Robyn and Kayak or Viann and Phillip. I could hear them this morning while eating breakfast (me, not them).

Today’s This Time Last Year:

We visited the Vane Farm RSBP Nature Reserve on Loch Leven. The reserve is a mixture of wet grassland and woodlands and is home during the autumn and winter to thousands of pink-legged and greylag geese. We walked a couple of the tracks to hides and watched skeins of geese in the sky. We spotted a couple of tiny frogs on one of the paths.

In the visitor centre was a board with announcing the Arrivals and Departures of a great array of bird species. A number of twitchers and birdoes arrived with their books, maps and huge cameras, binoculars and telescopes while we were having lunch.

After lunch we went looking for the Raptor Centre and the Wildlife Centre at Comrie but couldn’t find them. Not that it mattered as we passed through some stunning scenery – changing from forest to heath to mountain. Lots of dead grouse on the road too, unfortunately. We drove past St Andrews golf course, which was very large, and just one of the many golf courses in Scotland. Such is the Scottish preoccupation with the sport, there is a degree course in golf being offered at one of the universities.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

It burns uss. It buuuurns usssss!!

Mutterings continued.

Another whinge about the weather. "They" said it was going to be 23 and it was 25! I want a 2 degree discount on tomorrow's temp.

Had Leece and Rob over for dinner last night and had a great evening of food, Honey Porter beer (mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..), the Prisoner and MST3K's "The Beginning of the End" (giant mutant grasshoppers and Peter Graves!). The Prisoner episode was Checkmate, another good 'un. So far, Schizoid Man and the one where they infiltrate Number 6's dreams are up there in the top 5. The former really did my head in and I ended up not knowing my number 6 from my number 12. Very cool indeed.

Today's This Time Last Year:

The day was spent at two castles steeped in history - Scone (pron. Scoon - insert Goodies argument about pronunciation here) and Glamis (Macbeth association). For some reason I took no photos at all of either place. I have photos from the day before (Dunkeld and Birnam Wood) and the day after (Vane Farm Bird Centre) but none at all this day. Most odd.

Anyhoo. Scone Palace is the home of the Stone of Scone, wrested back from the Sassenachs in 1950, over which Scottish kings were traditionally crowned.
Scone Palace website. As with many castles and palaces in the UK, Scone is occupied and is the ancestral home of the Earl of Mansfield.

Glamis Castle features a lot in Macbeth. Shakespeare, as was his wont, got a number of the details wrong - Macbeth wasn't the bastard he was made out to be and actually ruled rather well for 17 years, dying near Aberdeen, not Dunsinane; Macca couldn't have been Thane of Glamis as Glamis wasn't a thaneage until 200 years later; and Duncan died in battle, not at Macbeth's hands. But apart from that....!! Glamis Castle website.

Glamis has the added attraction of Highland cattle. I'd been looking for Highland cattle every day since we crossed into Scotland and I finally got to see some up close. Tried to pat one but it had a go at me with its horn.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Pics. 8-)

Mutterings continued.

And the piccies are back.

Saturday and Summer’s Coming

Mutterings continued.

Saturday and Summer’s Coming.

The forecast is for 25c and sunny today. Eeek! Too warm, too warm!! For someone of my Celtic appearance, anything over 23c and a UV level of 4 is too much. Why is it my mother, a Pom who grew up in Manchester, has a great tan and yet my skin resembles the underbelly of a fish? I think she used up all the melanin and left none for me.

I’ve just upgraded my Foxtel subscription to include Movies Plus – this gives me three more channels of films I’ll probably never watch. Movie One is showing Iris (with Judi Dench) and The Shipping News (Judi Dench). In the movie of my life, she will play my mother. Emma Thompson will play me, of course. Or Dawn French. Or Camryn Manheim.

TV1 is showing a Star Trek:TOS (though in my day it was just called Star Trek) series 1 marathon this weekend. I used to watch ST from behind the lounge, out of sight of Dad, as it was on past my bedtime. Wednesday nights were very cool – Hogan’s Heroes (very non-PC now), Mission Impossible (with the good team) and Star Trek. Next Generation I enjoyed, stopped watching Deep Space 9 after the first couple of seasons and didn’t watch Voyager at all. I’ve never bothered with Enterprise either, though I do like Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap. Wept buckets at the end of the final ep of QL.

But then, I’m a very soppy person.

Today’s This Time Last Year:

Lots of photos in this one!

Ash and I have found THE place we want to live – Dunkeld is a small village north west of Perth and just gorgeous. Stone buildings, a river, trees…. Lovely in autumn, I’d really like to see it in winter.

We had morning tea (bacon and egg sarnie) in the bakery in the main street – we sat in the window and watched the Dunkeld world go by, including your actual Scottie dogs. Opposite the bakery was what looked like an empty antiques shop. It was for sale for 125k pounds, a bargain as it had 7 rooms upstairs (bed, bath, sitting, recept, etc) and large showrooms downstairs. While neither of us has 125k (pounds or dollars) it didn’t stop us from planning what we would do with the building. It would have made a great theatre space along the lines of the Maltings in Berwick.

We noticed a number of posters around the village advising of a forthcoming meeting to discuss the future of housing in Dunkeld. Like a lot of towns, the houses are being bought up by people who don’t live in the village (no, not THAT Village) and only visit the place once a year. This is causing an acute housing shortage for young people growing up in the area.

We visited Dunkeld Cathedral which was built between the 13th and 15th centuries, though a Christian community has lived in the area for over 1000 years. The Cathedral was all but destroyed during the Reformation in 1560. When we visited restoration work was being carried out on the interior foundations. The souvenir shop (there’s always a souvenir shop) was a tiny portacabin and card table.

The lawn from the Cathedral down to the River Tay.

Passing over the bridge we walked down some steps and along the footpath by the river to a place that we, as Shakespeare buffs, just had to see - Birnam Wood. The Birnam Oak is believed to be the last surviving remnant of the Wood, the oak forest made famous in Macbeth and is thought to be over 1000 years old. The lower limbs are supported by large wooden props and the first 3 metres of the trunk is hollow.

Just north of Birnam Wood is The Hermitage, an area overseen by the National Trust of Scotland and the Forestry Commission. The forest features some of Britain’s tallest trees, including a 64.5m Douglas Fir. A couple of follies, built in the 18th century, overlook the River Braan and waterfalls.

On the walk to the folly, we passed some office types who were obviously doing some bonding wank. Some were tying each other to trees and hauling people up into the branches, while others were wandering around with their eyes closed and walking into each other. As always happens with these groups, there were a couple of guys hanging behind having a smoke and laughing at the others. That’s usually me as I find these exercises a total waste of time.

We had lunch looking at the river and spent a lot of time gazing at the waterfalls.

After lunch we drove to Loch Tay on which a crannog has been reconstructed. A crannog is an ancient loch dwelling built out in the water as a defensive homestead from around 5,000 years ago. People continued to build and occupy them periodically until the 17th century. The Loch Tay crannog reconstruction is based on archaeological excavations of the 2,600 year old Oakbank crannog and the centre houses relics of furniture, clothing and homewares, including a butter dish with butter inside. It was just fascinating.

Friday, September 26, 2003


Mutterings continued.

The last day of my holidays – four weeks have flown by, as they do. Never did get around to painting the doors. Or visiting the tax agent. Well, procrastination is my middle name.

Today’s This Time Last Year:

Superlatives Alert – I love Scotland!!

We left Berwick Upon Tweed and headed into Scotland. We avoided the Forth Bridge as there is a toll on it by skirting Edinburgh and avoiding the Firth of Forth altogether. Ashley thought it amusing that someone from Perth Aust should stay in Perth Scotland so she booked us into the Abercrombie B and B, Perth for a few days. I had visited Edinburgh by train on my trip in 2000 but had only spent a few hours, so this was my first real visit to Scotland.

Driving through Scotland is like making your way through the Scottish League Division 1 table – Lothian, Motherwell, Dunblane….

We stopped in Stirling along the way for a coffee and mooch around. A visit to the tourist bureau advised of a Dr Who exhibition at a local art gallery so I kept that in the back of my mind for our next visit to Stirling.

Perthshire is very beautiful, the Tourist Board calls it Big Tree Country, and so it is.

Perth itself is not the most attractive of cities but that didn’t matter as it was just a base of operations. The B and B, while very nice, was run more on a business like manner. The home in Berwick was more of a home.

I overestimated how long it would take to get from Berwick to Perth (always a good thing – although distances in the UK are small, travelling time seems to expand) and so we got to the B and B too early. We walked into the town centre and had a bit of a wander, and had coffee and cake in Marks and Sparks.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Spending the day inside.

Mutterings continued.

I've resisted the temptation to go shopping and am doing the housework I've been avoiding all week. Have to get the place in order for dinner guests on Saturday - an evening of good food, good friends and The Prisoner and MST3K.

Today's This Time Last Year:

Final day in Berwick. We had a great time and were planning ways of being adopted by Viv and Rocky so we don't have to leave the B and B.

We spent the morning on a guided tour of Berwick. The guide was great, the other family on the tour hideous. Only the small gods know why they bothered as they didn't listen to the guide, asked stupid questions and talked through his commentary. Even Ash, that most tolerant of people, got pissed off and walked away from them.

The evening was spent at The Maltings Theatre and Arts Centre, a gorgeous theatre opposite the B and B. Every week they show a different film - this week was the wonderful Gosford Park. Ash had never seen it so I jumped at the chance of seeing it again with her. We sat in the front row of the gods and had a great view of the screen, which was dropped from the ceiling. All for 3 quid. And we bought gold stars to hang in the firmament of the theatre entry.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Mutterings continued.

Today's This Time Last Year:

Visited Alnwick Castle which was established in the 11th century by the Percy family. Most famous of the Percys is Harry "Hotspur" (as seen in Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 and 2).

At the entrance to the Castle is a newly developed garden with fountains.

The inner bailey was used in the Harry Potter films as the Quidditch pitch. The castle doesn't make overly much of the fact that it was a location for Harry Potter - just one standee tucked neatly out of the way and a board detailing all of the films made at the castle in a garage.

The castle, while full of antiques and ancient relics, is also a family home and there are photos of the kids, rellies, etc around the place.

More expenses.

Mutterings continued.

After having spent $375 to get my car serviced, repaired and generally put back into a state where I feel safe driving it, I've just forked out $175 at the dentist for a scrape, polish and to be told that I need what will turn out to be expensive work on one of my molars.


One bright note - Coles is selling Whiskas cat food for 80c - a saving of 28c.


No blog yesterday as blogspot went AWOL. I sent a message to the blogger helpdesk about the problem but haven't received an answer. The problem has now been fixed, obviously.

Yesterday's This Time Last Year:

Spent the day on Lindisfarne, the Holy Island. The island is joined to the mainland by a causeway that floods twice a day, so it is vitally important to take notice of the tide tables! Cars have been swept away as a result of people thinking they can beat the incoming tide.

The primary school has only 2 children, a brother and sister. The priory was founded in 635 and the museum houses the Lindisfarne Gospels, produced c698.

Lindisfarne Castle

St Cuthbert, founder of the Abbey:

We had morning tea at the Lindisfarne Oasis Cafe which seemed very out of place with its pictures etc of palm trees and camels. We picked up a leaflet outlining all the new age workshops we could attend - there was even a workshop on how to have a workshop.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Still being blown away.

Mutterings continued.

In spite of all the rain, I've had to water the potplants on the balcony as the winds have dried them out. The flat looks like a bomb has hit it (hmmmmm, that's a thought) as I've decided to do a spot of spring cleaning. The cats are perplexed and having a great time investigating areas behind the furniture that don't normally see the light of day. I expect to find at least a dozen of Gus's ping pong balls.

The car is in for a service and I've had call from the garage saying that the brakes need work ($170, thank you) and the rocker cover thingie needs replacing (that'll be another $30, ta).

This time last year:

Staying just south of the Scottish border in Berwick Upon Tweed at the stunning Clovelly B and B (only 22 quid a night - bargain!). The landlady is Scottish, her husband is called Rocky and isn't Scottish. Huge twin room with sitting area, Evelyn and Crabtree in the bathroom and porridge for breakfast.

On the way to Berwick we stopped at Barter's Bookshop which resides in a converted Victorian railway station near Alnwick (pron. Annick). I bought a copy of The Hollow Crown and watched the model trains chuff along the top of the bookcases. The books are housed in 3 large rooms and there are a number of small reading rooms on the side which have leather sofas, fireplaces and tables with chess boards.

A huge mural of authors overlooks the centre room.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Blown Away (almost)

Mutterings continued.

It's been an interesting weekend. Great house for Noises Off on Friday night - nigh on 100 very appreciative people. I have now seen the play 6 times from various angles (that's the trouble with sitting on the side as an usher - you never get to see SL or SR).

Yesterday I bussed into town to meet friends at the Art Gallery. We visited the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition and I want the painting of Shakespeare's room. The Tate Gallery website. If I couldn't have the real thing, a postcard would have done but, alas, the shop had a very limited range of Pre-Raphaelite cards.

And last night was spent being luxury coached from East Perth to Dwelingup and then trained to Etmylin by the Hotham Valley train people. Very nice food, prepared on the train and cooked on a wood stove - pumpkin soup, roast beef and veggies, apple crumble.

The weather today is hideous. Very blowy (bad), lots of rain (good) and the rugs I had drying on the balcony blew away. Both were held down with heavy cement animals (a cat and a dragon) - one rug landed on the balcony, the other downstairs. Fortunately the flat downstairs is vacant (the appalling couple finally moved out) so I could retrieve the rug and dragon.

Yesterday's This Time Last Year:

Caught the train from St Pancras to Luton to pick up the hire car. I had booked the car in Perth and arranged to pick it up in the Luton town centre depot rather than the airport, on the mistaken belief that getting out of Luton city would be easier than Luton airport. Wrong. As I do every time I drive somewhere new, I got very lost.

I drove to Middlesbrough in North Yorkshire to meet my mate Ashley. It was fabulous to see her and Mam2 again.

Today's This Time Last Year:

Middlesbrough. Nice, quiet day spent walking around Coulby Newham and sitting in the garden.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Journeywoman 2.

Mutterings continued.

This time last year in 15 minutes time (eh?) I landed in London after a 13 hour flight from Singapore. After lugging a suitcase and a holdall up two flights of stairs at Earls Court station (you'd think a tube station on a direct line from Heathrow would have escalators all the way up, or a lift that works. I think it's the Poms' way of killing us Ozzies off.), I staggered to the Sara Hotel, just off Warwick Rd. A somewhat tatty hotel but cheap (for London) - 40 quid, double bed, en suite bathroom and breakfast. The Sara has a lift that actually works and is within 5 minutes walk from the station.

The woman who cleans the rooms and serves breakfast is rather interesting. Possibly Russian, she has dyed blonde hair with black roots, a bum bag and is often seen sitting in the breakfast/reception area muttering to herself in a foreign language.

I don't get jet lag flying south to north, just shocking cramps in the calves (I'm convinced at the time that it's DVT and I'll drop stone dead in Oxford St and get walked on by tourists who are too busy looking at their maps upside down and wondering where the road signs are. They're on the buildings, BTW.)

The first time I flew to Europe in '98 I was awake for nearly 40 hours. Perth to Hong Kong and then Paris, arriving at 7am. I wasn't allowed to go to bed until 10pm, woke up 7 hours later and felt great.

Last time I wasn't jet lagged, just very tired. I was walking into walls and giving the wrong money to street fruit sellers.

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. And why not, ye bilge rats.

Last night we had a great house for Noises Off - over 100. The set changes were applauded at the beginning of acts 2 and 3 and Stephen was hugely complimented by the departing crowd.

Thursday, September 18, 2003


Mutterings continued.

I've just read the latest entry Simon's blog, Null Space - he was at Changi Airport in Singapore waiting to board a plane to London.

Aaaaahhh! I want to go tooooooo!! This time last year I was sitting in the departure lounge at Perth Int. Airport awaiting my plane to Singers and then to London. I spent the night in a small but serviceable room in the Changi Transit hotel before flying out at the unsmallgodsly hour of 5.45am. We'd landed at 10pm and I didn't fancy 7 hours in the departure lounge, so I paid $35 for a room I didn't sleep very well in.

I was lucky enough to get exit aisle seats on the Perth - Singapore - London legs. The only way to travel. The flight over Europe was great as it was very clear and we could see the ground. At one stage the plane was heading straight for Baghdad, which freaked out the couple (Anne and Peter from Wollongong) sitting next to me, but we avoided Iraq altogether and flew over Iran. Which is only slightly less scary but very scenic.

Had things gone to plan this year I would be flying back from Adelaide tomorrow. Given the horrible weather in SA over the last couple of weeks, I'm glad I cancelled.

It's off to the Dolphin tonight to work on the door. I gave myself the night off last night, then spent the evening worrying that none of the vollies I'd organised had turned up, thus causing the FOH Manager to cancel the show because there were no ushers, etc. However this morning I received an email from El President Dean who said everything went well and there were over 70 in the audience.

This being Thursday (never could get the hang of Thursdays) the house will probably be smaller.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Arrrrr! redux.

Mutterings continued.

From the Official Talk Like a Pirate Day site - according to their highly scientific test, this is me. Arrr.

You are The Cabin Boy

You, me lad, are an activist! You will not only change the world, you will make a dyed-in-the-wool Pirate dream of you in a sheep costume. You are the embodiment of the love that dare not hoist its sail! Ahoy thar! You could make a two-patch Pirate turn his head - but then he would lose sleep over it and what good would that do anyone? An innovator, you are WAY ahead of your time - and everyone else's. You are sensitive and artsy-fartsy. You say things like, "artsy-fartsy" but there is always a slight giggle in your voice when you say it - like Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares delivering a staggering punch line. Speaking of "punching" the only "punching" you would do is punching up that outfit with some accessories - say, a little bandana and some glass beads. You're not the Pirate we want in a fight, but we want you there for the crying game that follows! You go, girl.

What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site.


Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Arrr, Jim Lad!

Mutterings continued.

Off to see Pirates of the Etc tonight. We're giving the poncy Gold cinema thingie at Innaloo a try - we've been to La Premiere at Carousel a number of times. Nothing like seeing The Two Towers in a comfy chair with free softies and popcorn.

Gold is dearer but the number of people in the cinema is limited - no having the exit through the same portal as the great unwashed. And there's a bar to visit before and after the flick.

I'm a sucker for a good pirate movie (Arrrr!!) and this one looks a lot of fun and anything with Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush chewing the scenery can't be bad.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Initial muttering. Having seen the .... interesting ... blogs a couple of theatre colleagues has established I thought I'd give it a go.

And here it is. But for how long?