18-11-2016: I can't believe I've never put into words here just how angry I get when I go to the post office with cards, letters or parcels,
and without even asking,
the clerk puts a printed label on the article instead of a proper stamp. Why does the post office print stamps if not for the purpose of putting on items being posted?
You have to actively ask to have stamps, and often it is a real battle. The computer printed labels are plain and uninteresting. Surely post offices must see that they
are discouraging an interest in philately and in people communicating by mail. Stamps have so much history, are attractive and interesting and give
an insight into the country they come from. What is more exciting than receiving a parcel adorned with a variety of fascinating stamps?
In the lead up to Christmas, please insist on proper stamps on your mail
12-9-2016: It is so hard to find attractive and comfortable clothing. I like a
neat uncomplicated style using pretty, practical materials because I am quite short.
Here are some of my current pet hates with explanation:
1.Big wide deep necklines (at left)-freezing in winter and too much exposed flesh for burning in summer. You always have
to wear layers underneath and scarves if it is cold.
2.See through tops-once again you have to wear something underneath making it hotter than necessary, and good luck finding anything smooth and silky
so that the top layer sits and moves well.
3.Zips down the front of EVERYTHING- I hate zips. They buckle and bend and make you look like you've got lumps and bumps in wrong places. Often the
zips get out of kilter and it is hard to make each side connect. I had polar fleece tops which were just like jumpers a few years ago, but now, every polar
fleece is automatically produced with a zip up front. Why does EVERYTHING have to be the same all the time?
4.Big cardigans-if you are 6 feet tall they may be OK. I don't want layers flopping around and getting in
the way and uneven hems are of limited appeal too.
5.Rayon tops-they look lovely in the shop but they get impossibly wrinkled and out of shape just hanging in the cupboard and are hard to get in shape after washing and ironing.
6.Necklines shaped but not supported-a V drops down at the sides, grandfather edges (at right) also drop away. It seems as though a proper collar
is taboo this year unless it is in a denim or similar shirt.
7.Stripes- I've always loved them but I am SICK, SICK, SICK of them. For goodness sake come up with something different-florals are in
and there are millions of other patterns available-but if you are not skinny, stripes are IT.
29-5-2016: Having had a number of long holidays overseas and in Australia staying at hotels and motels, not on organised tours of any kind,
I have a number of complaints.
1.If there are 2 of you on a trip, and you rent a double room, chances are you will each have a suitcase. That's 2 people and 2 suitcases.
It would be nice if a few more hotels actually provided somewhere to put the 2 suitcases. If you are lucky there is one stand or shelf and some don't even
have enough floor space for the second suitcase. You have to put it next to the bed and fall over it if you have to get up to go to the loo at night.
2.The second biggest complaint is the lack of shelf space for toiletries bags in bathrooms. Everyone has such a bag. Please supply a decent sized
shelf near the basin to put them on. And don't fill shelf space with hotel toiletries either. They can go anywhere.
3.The fancier the room, the more the furniture, it seems. Get rid of all that unnecessary stuff. If I am staying 1 or 2 nights I do not need
a full lounge suite and a chest of drawers. Just give me enough room to fit the suitcases!
4.I don't want cushions or other silly decorations taking up room. What is the purpose of a 40 cm strip of material at the end of the bed?
5.I'm not the only person who complains about the sheets being tucked in. Seinfeld and
Danny Bhoy, Live at the Apollo, Series 1, Episode 6 also had something to say on the subject. Why do they do it? You have to untuck them before
you can fit into the bed and it messes up the arrangement of sheets. Often the beds are rigid and very hard to untuck too.
It must be hard for the housemaids to do that in the first place.
6.Many hotels have become lazy with dunas and I understand why because getting them in and out of covers is hell.
They are using them like blankets with a sheet under and over. But who needs a duna in the middle of Summer? They need to have
season appropriate bedding. We have sweltered through summer in Europe, USA and New Zealand with bedroom windows that don't open,
no airconditioning and the only cover a duna.
7.Do not fill the fridge with drinks, chocolates and other inordinately expensive snacks. We do not want them but we do need room for our own stuff.
8.If no parking is supplied by the hotel, give us a sheet with information about parking printed clearly and simply in the appropriate languages.
Don't wave a hand and say there is parking just around the corner. We have never been here before and we don't know what bloody corner you are talking about.
MYERS, MEMORIES AND UPGRADES
12-9-2016: Ventured into Myers second floor clothes again. The larger sizes department is a packed and chaotic jumble of expensive larger size designer
brands including Maggie T and Taking Shape among others, mixed up with petites, smaller sizes and maternity garments . I can't understand
why the sizes are mixed but presume that because Regatta makes Regatta Woman and regular sizes, they've put all the Regatta up there, for example. It's a mess.
Since I have lost some weight, I thought I'd check out the women's floor below, but it was even worse. True to their promise, it is all designer brands,
many ridiculously expensive. Each company has its small area and there are dozens of them all over the floor, each containing a mixture of garments-tops, jackets, dresses etc.
I was at a complete loss as to where to look. Can't stand the place and spoke to 2 other ladies about my age who felt exactly the same. We were queued up outside
the ladies toilet on the ladies clothing floor just before midday when all the toilets were closed for cleaning again! That's when you clean the
ladies toilets, of course, and have a male cleaner to do it! It's the 3rd time this has happened recently, and I don't go to town very often. Surely they
can clean those toilets, which must be the most used, early in the morning and then just check them out later without closing them. They've lost me.
I have a $20 voucher I have been trying to spend for months and can't find anything to buy. This mad devotion to brand names has ruined shopping.
29-5-2016: Contrary to my prediction below, Myers, Adelaide, last month announced they were expanding their range of larger sizes,
having apparently noticed that most women are not size 10 or 12. They are still locating their larger sizes in a back corner on the 2nd (plus mezzanine) floor and
weirdly, now lots of smaller sizes are taking up room in that small area too, arranged by brands. It is difficult to find which are the larger clothes
because they have Regatta (for example) in all sizes. I didn't see any new brands, just that BIB has gone and been replaced
by the ubiquitous multi size Regatta. Like, I do spend most of my time down at the yacht club! And it really gives me the pip that sizes are not real.
In the larger size department, a size 16 or 18 is much larger than a size 16 or 18 in the smaller brands. How is that even legal?
31-8-2015: Checked out Myers for clothes today-up 3 flights of elevators to the toys floor. All the larger sized brands were being moved
elsewhere on the floor. When I asked why, it is apparently for Xmas decorations! And I was told that the clothes are being moved again upstairs soon. I suggested
that it was discrimination against larger people and that perhaps the skinny girls should be heading up to the 4th floor and they could
then put the larger stuff on the first floor where "there isn't room for it " at present. Yeah sure. If they put the larger sizes far enough away they won't
sell anything, can close the department and that will mean that they will have got rid of those unglamorous overweight people for good.
29-7-2015: Myers have just announced they are getting rid of hundreds of brands and revamping their stores because of falling sales.
Instead they are going to bring in more designer brands. I can't believe it. Every shop in Adelaide revamps, chucks out all the stuff you
go there specifically to buy and 'upgrades' all the products they sell. They divide the shops into smaller and smaller departments
making it harder to find anything.
At the risk of sounding like an old person, I remember when my darling mother took
me to the beloved Adelaide department store, John Martins, when I was first appointed to teaching, and said "We'll get you a dress to wear every day."
We went up to the first floor and bought 7 very nice dresses from the huge round carousel type rack on which all the size 12 dresses in
the shop were to be found. I don't know what brand they were, just reliable brands stocked by the shop. We knew that we had checked all
that was on offer in the shop.
Now, you go to a shop and you have to search through 10 different designers to see if there are any garments your size. If you are no longer
a lovely size 12, you could be relegated to the back of the second floor as women's larger sizes now are at Myer Adelaide. Can't have the young or thin
ones being contaminated by women or a larger size! Sorry if I sound bitter, but it is the truth. Fortunately some of the larger sizes have fought back with
interesting and adventurous styles and I quite often see thin women browsing among the larger sized garments bemoaning the fact there is nothing that fits.
I feel like screaming-why don't you try the 97% of boutiques and department stores which stock your size?
But to get back to my point. I remember when Myer built their new shop in Rundle Mall. Gone was the wonderful old bargain basement.
The shop looked better and so it couldn't have anything that looked cheap and nasty. The same thing has happened with every store upgrade since in Adelaide.
Target, Castle Plaza, upgraded about 20 years ago and I've hardly bought a garment there since. Big W upgraded last year and this year you can no longer buy
the wonderfully warm and cosy fleecy lined track pants and windcheaters that I have bought there for about 20 years. Even my son complained about that.
They cost about $10- $12 and have been winter staples forever. Big W no longer have plants-too untidy, might require workers-or many other useful and
practical day to day products. Don't even get me started on Harris Scarfe's. It was a wonderful shop quite a long way down Rundle Mall but you walked in off the street
to the best crockery and cutlery department in Adelaide. One elevator up was the women's clothing, plenty of it, a great range of styles and sizes. They rebuilt the shop.
I have been there twice in about 3 years. It is located down a mall, up an elevator, not even on the ground floor and has a weird range of clothes and products
and absolutely no staff-you have to do everything yourself and take it to the checkout counter-it's like Target or Big W but it sells products which require
Myers, please STOP. Do some customer surveys. Do some statistics. What are your best selling brands? What do your customers think?
What do your customers want? Send a letter to everyone who has a Myer card and ask them what they want. Ask them for some ideas on how to do better. Don't, please,
bring in all the stupid brands that you can get in every capital city in every town in the world because a)they are too expensive and
b)we live in Australia so we need clothing that suits our climate and lifestyle.
29-5-2016: I was in a Coles supermarket in March when I found a nice vinyl placemat, red with white spots-just the one. I bought it, took a note of the model and
checked it out online. Coles did stock it and it was available. I could order it online through online Coles which is a different website from regular Coles. It
was very complicated. I began checking out every Coles store for more. Imagine my delight then, that in April I was at Coles, in Casle Plaza and on special
at 77 cents were
as many red and white spotted placemats as I wanted, together with blue and white striped Greek style placemats too. Well done, Coles! All you have to do is
bring back the thin face washers again and I will love you forever.
29-7-2015: When I was growing up my family always had a tablecloth on the table for meals but when my children were little we had so many problems
with cleaning and mess
that we adopted printed vinyl placemats. I knew they were not classy but they were very practical and we got used to them. I do use a proper
tablecloth for important meals but for most meals when there are only 2 of us we still use the place mats to protect the table. But the inevitable has happened.
Vinyl place mats are not sufficiently elegant for anyone any more so you can't buy them. I used to get them at Big W and at Spotlight for at least
30 years but now you can only get woven mats or material mats, none of the old fashioned but very practical mats which were $1 - $2 for many years.
Ashdene do make a similar mat which are quite expensive. We know because we were able to buy some on a holiday at Hawker, of all places, but they
are nearly square and not as comfortable to use. We saw vinyl mats in Mariehamn, Finland in July, 2015-lovely pink and lime green mats with white spots but
I couldn't justify carting them around for 3 more weeks in our already overstuffed bags. Is it just me? Am I a dinosaur?
Must the whole world be run by good taste? I am sick of it.
TOWELS AND FACEWASHERS
29-7-2015: Granddaughter likes the thin patterned flannels/facewashers I have bought from Coles supermarkets up until 2014. Guess what?
They have disappeared completely from Coles. In fact, we haven't been able to find any flannels with patterns of owls and frogs and
mermaids etc on them anywhere. It's one-colour, thick flannels or none, apparently. The edges were not that well made so I used to zigzag them as soon
as I got them home to prevent unravelling and they lasted until worn out after that. But they were obviously not tasteful enough.
3-4-2015: I am amazed at how hard it is to buy thin towels and face washers. Everything is so thick it can hardly fit any crevices and the
fluff is unbelievable. Most old bathrooms are quite small and many people live in old houses. We don't have room for these thick towels or
for the other bane of old bathrooms, the gigantic bath sheet. How do you dry out a thick, enormous towel and more importantly, where the hell do you hang it?
Please towel manufacturers, have some common sense. I suppose you are the same people that make the 1000 count bed sheets that are impervious to air.
5-3-2016: Happy to report that the fences are being kept almost graffiti free. It is all olive green paint now, no cream remaining, and the maintenance is working well.
26-10-2015: The fences are staying graffiti free across the open bike path at the end of the street, possibly because they've given up on the
fences further along where they are hidden from easy sight.
18-10-2015: The fences were done a couple of weeks ago, just past the bike path opening, and again look very nice.
7-9-2015: The olive green fences are covered with cream paint overlaid with innumerable graffiti tags
and haven't been repainted in months. Similarly the cream fences are
painted with olive green, cream and tags. We were so pleased when they built the bike path, thinking that it would add to the value of our house and look much nicer.
In fact it looks much uglier all the time and you see very few bicycle riders, although a lot of walkers use it.
31-5-2015: Getting worse and worse but a week ago someone sprayed
over all the graffiti and olive green paint with cream paint. It looks bad but not as bad as the graffiti, and perhaps someone who
had a cream fence originally was making their point.
3-4-2015: It lasted exactly one week and by now is 10 times worse with a multitude of ugly tags in many colours.
Morons-tag your own houses if you think it is so wonderful.
16-3-2015:Whoops, just went out to take a photo to illustrate my point and the
graffiti has been neatly covered again-the olive green paint even matches the previous lot. Well done whoever. Let's see how long this lasts.
15-3-2015: The new bike path is continually being hit by taggers. Thousands of dollars of new fencing has been defaced.
After months of complaints to the council and to the railways, all the graffiti was finally covered with olive green paint, even that on the cream fences.
After about 2 nights it was back-the same tag over and over again, and it's been there for weeks. It is a well known fact that the
only way to beat graffiti is to remove it at once. I offered to do my bit if they would supply some paint, but haven't ever heard back
and it is in an awkward place for which I would need consent.
22-4-2014: We bought a new fridge about 2 months ago. The old one still worked well but it made lots of strange noises in the night, was
becoming rather worn after about 25 years and had lost the kicker plate at the bottom front. We chose a Fisher and Paykel because it fitted the space in the kitchen, was white
rather than the steel finish, which I don't like, and seemed to be economical and neat. The shelves are solid glass whereas the old
fridge had plastic covered wire shelves. I thought solid shelves would be good because food falling through and down is always an issue, but they
are always misted and easily become sticky. We can cope with that, although it seems a shame to be going backwards with a new product, but what is
driving me mad is the beeping. Apparently grown ups can't close a door any more and so the fridge beeps after you have had it open
for more than about a minute. It then beeps again a minute or so later before getting really angry and starting to beep continuously
while simultaneously putting out the fridge light. I can see that it might be trying to save energy but if I have the groceries out
of the fridge on the floor and am on my hands and knees cleaning it, I don't want to have to close the door to stop the beeping. Even
if I am only putting the shopping away or filling the ice cube trays and leaving the freezer door open so that they are easy to put away,
the beeps start.
It's not just the fridge, though. I have always loved my big Simpson washing machine so when the last one died with a load of wet washing inside,
after a fairly good run, I ordered the same machine in its newer incarnation and had it delivered. Of course, it had been "improved." Now, when it
finishes a load, it beeps, and it goes on beeping loudly forever, about every 3 minutes. It was only when I was visiting next door that I realised how
piercingly loud the beeping is, and I used to go out and leave a load of washing on so that it was ready when I got home! I won't dwell on all the other
"improvements" like no simple spin only cycle, the removal of an indicator as to where the machine is in its cycle etc.
The same thing happened with a Sunbeam iron. Bought a newer model and before I knew it, it was beeping merrily away. If it wasn't used about
every minute, it was beeping and beeping-doesn't matter if I had to brush off lint or undo all the buttons or do something other than iron
constantly, off it beeped. After about a month I chucked it in the rubbish bin. It's a bit hard to do that with an expensive refrigerator or washing machine.
Please, manufacturers, stop the beeping and do some proper market research about what people want.
It is only when you buy a new product that you realise how important certain features which you have taken for granted, are,
but it is fair to expect manufacturers to know what counts.
14-8-2013: Doing a little bit of painting and touching up. How much does paint cost? Well, it depends on the size of the tin you buy, what
kind of paint it is-enamel, acrylic, gloss, semi gloss, low sheen, flat, what brand it is, whether it's a light or dark base,
whether the moon is in the ascendant etc. Basically, unless you have more time to spare than it would take to paint the whole house
it is almost impossible to work out what a tin of paint actually costs until it is all coloured up and too late. Is it better to buy 4
litres because it's only twice the cost of one litre, use only one litre but have the rest to spare if you need to do some touching up?
That was my thinking until I looked at the tin and it was dated September 1999! Time flies. The paint is a solid block in the bottom
of the rusty tin and the walls look perfectly OK, just need a touch up where there are a couple of scratches.
Where do I go to buy the paint? Solver, Bunnings, Home Hardware? I feel as though I am being ripped off everywhere
because nowhere are paint prices clearly explained.
One litre Dulux Saddlebag semi gloss acrylic paint for walls=$39.99
Two litres oil based full gloss enamel paint for doors=$44.61
That's an awful lot of money for some very small painting jobs.
TOO MUCH ALL AT ONCE-INFRASTRUCTURE OVERLOAD
7-3-2014: Our part of the train line is finished and the bicycle track alongside it is completed with a neat, black, cyclone fence, lots of new fences at
the back of properties beside the bike path and attractive vegetation. It is a great improvement except that now the council might
block off access to Black Forest by banning left hand turns into Canterbury Tce from East Ave. If you don't live in the area,
you will not understand the issues, but we are hemmed in between a tram line, a train line running diagonally across the suburb, and
a bridge blocking access to our street, so it is quite difficult to get home by car at times. The train and tram were there when we
bought our house but the bridge and road blockages have happened since. And now the bicycle track! They are going to block a road
used apparently by over 600 cars a day for the few cyclists who are using less than a kilometre of bicycle track between
South Rd and East Ave. We were here first and we are actually the ratepayers in the area, not passers by. Hopefully they are now going to extend the
bike track all the way to East Ave and fix the problem anyway. There is enough room if they move the fence 2 metres closer to the train line.
Update 15-3-2015: They didn't block off Canterbury Tce but they also didn't extend the bicycle track. The track itself is quite popular
with walkers and bikers but really not justifying the cost yet. I'd say there might be 30 bikes a day.
Woolworths/Big W at Cumberland Pk finally reopened near the end of 2013. The Woolworths/Big W complex was built when Simon was a baby and we
all grew up with it. Big W had a small cafe AND a materials department at that stage and most of our garden plants came from their garden shop.
I never went there without checking out the plants, but that has gone. I'm not sure who makes all the decisions but Big W is a much less
interesting shop than it was and so much is missing. Their greeting cards are not as good, their homewares are reduced, and every time you
go to buy some small thing they don't stock it any more or the product is out of stock. They seem to have more clothes but I miss the useful things.
Woolworths is now like an enormous barn and it is a trek to find almost everything in the far back corner of the shop.
It looks very utilitarian and there is too much ugly concrete.
All these changes. The trains and train line are better. The shopping only gets worse. It's as if every shop is a specialist shop now
and the choices are decreasing.
WELCOME TO MADELAIDE
Every year in February and March we have so much on on in Adelaide that March is now called Mad March.
Events include the Festival Fringe, Festival of Arts, Writers' Week, Clipsal 500, Adelaide Cup and Womadelaide.
It makes for excitement and a lively city but I don't know why so much has to be packed into such a short space of time.
The weather in April is usually much nicer, for a start.
6-3-2016: To be fair, Victoria Square at rest, after years of debate and redesigning, looks quite nice. The fountain is atractive in its new location,
the seating is being used and it is generally a tranquil space, though there is far too much hot concrete on the northern side. The cycads struggle
to survive but have been replaced and maintained where necessary, at a cost. I don't believe the wooden seating here and in Rundle Mall is at all practical
as it is discoloured already from the weather. Still, perhaps they will be able to paint it in the future, if necessary. The main complaint I have is the
frequent pop up food vans that appear in the square. Hipsters, they may be retro but are not attractive -often just old caravans with gas bottles hanging off the back and
cords going everywhere parked in the space where there used to be a large bed of flowers at the city end. Visitors must wonder why we allow
derelicts to camp in the centre of town. If you are going to pursue this pop up madness, have pretty or smart or arty vans, manage the rubbish and electricity
out of sight and make them a feature not an eyesore.
March 2016: Same old story with the Festival Fringe this year. The Royal Croquet Club is now occupying both upper and lower Victoria Square in an outbreak
of ugliness, though the south side looks much better than the north.
They've constructed raised seating at the northernmost point of the square so that the view looking down King William Street is of
rough metal and wooden beams holding up the undersides of chairs. It towers way above the fence and is accompanied by the usual tin sheds and portaloos.
The rusty metal lean-tos constructed towards the middle of the square look positively artistic in comparison.
Peter Goers has again attacked the appearance of the square in his Sunday Mail article on Feb 20, 2016, but the best column was that by Deborah Bogle
in SA Weekend of Feb 27-28, in which she pointed out that if you are having visitors for a party at home, you do your best to spruce things up and make
the garden look as pretty as possible. This certainly hasn't happened in Adelaide. In every city you visit overseas,
there is an effort to beautify with hanging baskets and potplants-New York, San Francisco, Karlstad in Sweden. I'm not sure if greenies are responsible here,
the idea being to plant native grasses and save water or something. This is a big city. Most of the country is covered with native grasses and gum trees
which are beautiful in a country setting, but in town we need greenery and flowers and tough plants. I see roses and beautiful hibiscuses surviving on
almost no water, lots of beautiful plants that have proven their toughness and adaptability. Please Adelaide Council, get back to planting cooling,
attractive plants and ditch the dead grasses.
It's as if the Adelaide city council or whoever is in charge of roadworks all over Adelaide, asks when is the time they can create the maximum ugliness and
cause the most inconvenience to city goers. Hence, the war memorial on North Tce is a work site. The whole of West Tce is under reconstruction. The Garden
of Unearthly Delights is
surrounded on the North Tce side by a fence lined with what looks like black plastic bin bags.
We went to Writers' Week and they go to a great deal of effort
to make things look attractive, but there, on the footpath which runs behind Government house and has done so for as long as I can remember, some guru interested
in health and safety had erected
3 yellow signs, drunkenly tilted and held up by large metal disks. 2 said PEDESTRIANS and one said PEDESTRIANS WATCH YOUR STEP. In the narrow space beside them,
pedestrians were just able to squeeze past. The path looked as it always looks. There didn't seem to be large holes or broken bottles along the path.
What were the pedestrians meant to watch?
Photos above: Two of 3 meaningful pedestrian signs; a random detour sign left at the corner of North Tce next to the Boer War memorial; Croquet Club on the north side of the square
March, 2015: Once again Victoria Square has been transformed for the Royal Croquet Club. The northern and southern parts of the square have the
indescribably ugly fences again. Added to that are temporary corrugated Bianco Co. iron huts and a bevy of Portaloos.
What a delightful look in the centre of our city. If they (The council? The Festival of Arts Committee?) are going to build temporary premises for a
multitude of outdoor events to be held in city parks throughout the year, they must come up with alternatives which are aesthetically pleasing, or build them somewhere else.
I have written to the council suggesting that there should be permanent holes for temporary fence posts around parks and similar provision could be made for other
temporary constructions-the wiring and plumbing must be in the ground ready for use when the need arises. All buildings should look good or be banned.
1-3-2014: Victoria Square is transformed for the Fringe into the Royal Adelaide Croquet Club. It is exciting, but contained within an ugly temporary fence. I can see that
they probably have to fence off our public land because of all the stuff in there for the festival, but it is not a good look. I am still waiting to see the completed square as
it has been fenced off continually, for finishing off, during the Tour Down Under and now for the Festival.
26-12-2013: Quite a bit of the walkway is in, there are patches of bright green lawn with sprinklers pumping on water and the amphitheatre is taking shape. Along the tram
side of the northern part of Victoria Square they have planted many palms (cycads) like those in North Tce, which look good. Things are moving along quickly now.
At the edges of the southern side of Victoria Square (more like Victoria Diamond), however, are unattractive native grasses. What botanical expert decreed we must plant these
spiky, dying off grasses everywhere? They may be natives but they look like dead weeds. There are many lovely small shrubs which could be planted instead-what about hardy coprosmas?
22-11-2013: Huge progress has been made and the Square is taking shape. They are paving the northern end around the Christmas tree and the framework for the
walkway around the square is up. Apparently the area is going to be a venue for the Festival fringe in February so they are moving fast.
1-8-2013: It's a wasteland. There must be enough underground plumbing for thousands. The rest is holes and piles of dirt.
10-5-2013: I'm not feeling optimistic about progress. Much has been removed but nothing added. The ground is just dirt and the black mesh on the fence surrounding
the square has been replaced by slightly better looking printed screen, but bits of that are hanging off, and access to the footpaths is blocked. The fountain stands dirty and dry.
Personally I wish they would get rid of that ugly fountain and get some more attractive water works-keep the sculptures.
6-4-2013: The best trees for
Victoria Square debate continues in The Advertiser. Can't they just check street trees around Adelaide and decide from that? Jacarandas are lovely, but messy,
slow growing and not deciduous. I definitely do not recommend any gums as they are incredibly messy too and you do not want that in a limited space.
Plane trees are very nice but perhaps you could have 2 or 3 different trees. People speak very highly of ornamental pears but I have no personal knowledge of them.
Liquidambers are glorious and deciduous but they have big prickly pods. John Lamb is so right when he asks for deciduous trees-sun in winter and shade in summer.
20-3-2013: Hooray! The council has
to complaints and has agreed that lemon scented gums are not the
best trees to have around the events lawn in Victoria Square. Of course, on radio this morning an expert was declaiming on how we need Victoria Square to be
significantly Australian. That is so stupid-we are Australian, we don't have to prove it all the time by only planting Australian grasses and trees.
Many native trees and shrubs like melaleucas and grevilleas become very ugly and there are lots of gum trees in parks around Adelaide anyway.
Go and see gum trees in the open countryside around Strathalbyn. They are glorious there.
13-3-2013: The whole fence around Vic Square is covered by black plastic, to hide the
fact that the current trees are being removed, no doubt. I remember when those trees were put in during the last redevelopment and they have never looked
very good. I cannot believe that any urban planner would suggest lemon scented gums to take their place, however. The trees recently planted along
Cross Road are beautiful and would be perfect for the square. Just because a plant is native does not mean that it is attractive or user friendly.
The appearance of so many public places has been ruined by ugly native grasses, which mostly look no better than dead weeds.
The centre of the city is not some untouched wilderness and if it is going to be torn up, at least put in plants which are attractive and manageable.
6-3-2013: In his opinion column in the Messenger press,
Matthew Abraham says it all
(but I said it first). He has also written about the
Mall's balls and I loved his column
on shopping (nothing to do with Mad March except that it happened in the city).
5-3-2013: The Mayor has apparently turned the first sod to start the official
of the Square.The proposed lemon scented gums are the worst possible choice. We were foolish enough to plant a small gum in our yard and it is constant work.
They are lovely somewhere out in the country where the endlessly shedding bark, falling branches and gumnuts don't matter, but in a confined space,
over grass or concrete, they are a nightmare. Maybe they don't need much water, but the area around them will need major upkeep forever.
These urban types don't have any gardens, so haven't learnt about trees the hard way.
Royal Croquet Club
by Peter Goers. I agree. It is outrageous that they have to pay thousands to replace the grass after the Festival, and Victoria Square looks so ugly while it is on. Go away.
4-3-2016: There was only one big hole being worked on in Rundle Mall today. The street
looked busy and lively with cafes and vans, the Fringe stage and booking office and several good buskers. The wooden seating was totally unoccupied in the
boiling heat and people stuck to the shade on the side of the street.
5-3-2014: The Mall is buzzing with activity for the Festival and full of people but I still hate the stupid pavers. It looks like they ran out of the right bricks and
filled up random spaces with whatever came to hand. It enrages me every time I look at them-zigzags, stripes, waves-there are so many patterns that would make sense but
not the current mish mash. They are covered with sticky patches of food and drink wherever you walk. Maybe drinks should be banned in the mall if idiots
continue to splat them everywhere. The bins are excruciatingly ugly too. The council should conceal them behind wooden slats like those used on the benches,
not highlight them like industrial waste bins.
19-12-2013: The western end of the Mall on a boiling hot day was barren, with shoppers sticking to the shade at the sides. Nice trees have been planted
but it's going to take a while. Please, please make the Council see sense and leave the remaining lovely trees in the centre of the street, rather than removing
them and replacing them with new trees about two metres to the left or right of the ones already there. I don't care about seeing the hills when I am shopping.
Numerous utilitarian steel waste bins have appeared, labelled in huge letters for the visually challenged. There was a machine washing the new pavers and another mall cleaner at work too,
but already there are hundreds of spots of black chewing gum. And how many idiots drop their drinks every day, for others to walk in and spread everywhere? The council need to be getting the
gum off the pavers immediately each night and there should be much more advertising about littering. Whatever happened to "Keep SA beautiful." Where is KESAB when it is needed?
24-11-2013: In his column in the 'Sunday Mail' of 24-11-2013,
Peter Goers explains that the patchy mall paving is deliberate, but it certainly doesn't look like it to the average pedestrian. Couldn't they have had strips of a different
colour or some comprehensible design? The council MUST also see that the pavers are kept clean. The new trees look good though small, but the weird wooden and metal, 3 tiered seat
will be unbearable in summer with the metal parts too hot to touch, and there is not a tree in sight to shade it. I'm not knocking the council for re-vamping the Mall as it did
look tired and messy, but the trees already there were quite new and perfectly OK and should have been retained.
22-11-2013: There were 'pop-up' tents and tables all over the place in a Mall sale today, and they were REALLY ugly with cords and speakers everywhere. If they are going to have pop-ups,
they need to be self contained and not making the place unsightly with rubbish bins and messy surrounds.
12-11-2013: The refurbishing of the western end of Rundle Mall seems to be finished. The already stained pale grey granite look pavers are quite attractive, but for
some reason there are random groups of dark grey pavers scattered among them, looking like there's been a shortage of the right colour and they've had to make do with these.
10-8-2013: A walk down Rundle Mall on Saturday evening showed work proceeding apace with the paving of the King William St end of the mall. I fear the colour of the pavers is
too light as many already laid look dirty with all the muddy work going on around them. Lots more spills of coffee. How stupid are people to be dropping their drinks all
over the place? Let's hope that they are regularly cleaned when all this work is done.
1-8-2013: Progress at the King William end of the Mall. The first excavations seem to be filled in behind the fence in the middle and a lot of the pavers
are down. They are large, rectangular blocks in a pale brown granite look composite with quite a bit of sparkle. Even some of the footpath next to the shops has been done.
Myers have chosen to do renovations at the same time-fair enough, I suppose, in view of the enormous disruption caused by the mall
26-6-2013: The mall is divided by a huge excavation (pictured at right) which runs from King William Street to Gawler Place. They must be replacing the sewerage pipes,
since the pit is about 2 metres deep. Given the speed they work on city projects it is going to take forever. There is a green shadecloth fence enclosing the site.
I suppose they must be making progress but it doesn't look like it. It is also a major hike to walk down to Gawler Place to cross the street. Goodness knows what effect it is having on the businesses at the start of the mall.
26-3-13: Rundle Place, the new shopping development, looks good in Rundle Mall. It is not too high so lets the sun in and it's lovely to have Harris Scarfe back
in the Mall proper. HS has kept its serve yourself and take everything to the one cashier layout, which I hate, but it has not gone ridiculously upmarket which is pleasing.
The new small shops in the complex look quite nice if you like the high end market where about 10 things are tastefully displayed. But there were a couple of nice
cheaper places too, so a good mix.
26-3-13: The enclosure at the start of the mall is looking empty but messy, there is asphalt replacing some of the tiles where pipes or cables have been dug up, which is OK,
but the most exciting addition to the mall was a group of temporary toilets under the James Place awning, discreetly surrounded by black plastic. Right outside
that shop Matthew Abraham was chastising for their pretension, recently. Take that. And why do the providers of all this temporary fencing have to advertise themselves on it all the time?
13-3-13: Almost all of Buskers building has gone and the entrance to the Mall looks clearer, just a mess. The information Centre is still
there, closed of course. Maybe they could have opened it during March. In fairness, the bins in the mall were emptied and someone was picking up rubbish,
but there is still a collection of especially ugly bins next to the fruit stall. You don't leave those industrial waste bins out in the centre of a mall!
26-2-13: Half the Buskers Cafe has been removed from the start of the mall and it is looking a bit neater inside the ugly fence.
WORLD CLASS SHOPPING PRECINCT
The council is desperate to reposition Rundle Mall in the heart of the city to make it a
world class shopping destination, unique, captivating and connected and to future proof it. We have travelled extensively over many years, and I feel qualified to
say that there is nothing wrong with Rundle Mall that a bit of simple care and maintenance wouldn't fix. The trees don't need to be ripped up. The pavers do need to be
replaced in many places and some of the rusty and tatty metal constructions which the council has allowed to be built in the first place, need to be removed.
It is too hot most of the time to walk down the centre of the mall, so even if it is cleared, no one will walk there, preferring to stick to the shade at the sides.
LITTER AND VOMIT
Where the council has lost the plot is in maintaining the city so that it looks clean and pleasant.
In Rundle Mall, rubbish bins are often overflowing
onto the ground. All around the rubbish bins are spilt liquids and disgusting food stains. Footpaths are spotted
with black chewing gum and no scrubbing ever seems to happen so that if someone vomits, the stain is there forever. Outside of shops and in alleys, dirty, big and
rusty rubbish bins overflow with plastic and boxes. There's graffiti on side walls and bins in many places around the city.
Light poles and posts and benches are scratched and worn. Maintenance is expensive but redevelopment on the scale that is happening costs many millions. If you go to Disneyland or Legoland
you won't see a paper on the ground. Everything is beautiful and meticulously maintained. There are hanging baskets of flowers, as there are in many big city centres around the world.
In contrast, Adelaide currently looks disgusting.
King William Street is a disgrace. I know which bank is the worst offender. How many million profit did they make last year?
Maybe they could employ a cleaner who does out front too. There is a bus stop in front so perhaps some more benches and bins need to be provided,
together with a few reminders about litter.
Of course, it doesn't help that time after time we have to watch the stars of TV shows such as 'Madmen' and 'Scott and Bailey' (31-5-2015) merrily chucking their cigarettes on
the ground wherever they go. Can we get over the idea that tough and gritty is showing people smoking and littering, especially when they are police?
WHO IS TO BLAME?
The council alone is not responsible for the state of the city
and it is not just up to them to keep it clean. Manners have changed.
Where once people would sit inside at a table and eat, it is apparently now acceptable to be walking around eating and drinking. On the benches in the mall,
people sit cramming in overstuffed wraps, with carrot and mayonnaise oozing out all over the place. Teenagers with burgers and chips and litres of drink scatter
debris willy nilly. And who is chewing all that gum and dropping it on the ground? I can only think it is all the former smokers, who are used to dropping their
butts on the ground. I never see anyone chewing gum and yet apparently they must
since it makes a mess of every footpath in the city, from the black slate tiles in King William Street to the motley tiles along the mall and the new rather
pretty mosaic look paving in Hindley Street. Gum is a menace and should be made illegal as in Singapore. On the other hand, littering is illegal and yet
no one is ever prosecuted here. Everybody needs to take care of their surroundings and not leave it to others.
Don't just drop cigarettes near the expensive cigarette disposal containers the council put on bins in the city, you actually have to put the
cigarettes IN them. Wrote a letter to the paper about cigarette butts but it did not get printed-not a glamorous topic, obviously.
26-2-13: Had lunch at a small cafe with a few tables next to pretty greenery in brick planters near North Tce, looked over and counted
15 cigarette butts thrown in the bark chips next to my table. Disgusting pigs to do that where others are eating.
CLEANING UP ADELAIDE
There is no publicity anymore about keeping the place clean, be it SA
in general or Adelaide City in particular, no signs, no advertising campaigns, apparently no KESAB,
although their website says that cigarette butts are the largest source of litter in the world. Websites are good but
if you are the kind of person who drops butts, you probably wouldn't look at Notagoodlook. KESAB needs TV ads and hoardings to get the message across.
Once a year there is
Clean up Australia Day. Every
day should be a clean up Australia Day.
Once upon a time, shopkeepers cleaned the area in front of their shops. It was part of the deal. It would be good to see this done by businesses
all over Adelaide again. Some soap and water would go a long way towards improving footpaths. The council also needs to have machines that
scrub around bins and gutters, not just sweep up rubbish.
Teams of offenders on community service could descend on the city every night and spend 2 or 3 hours scraping and cleaning chewing gum off
the footpaths before it spreads everywhere.
Footpath cafes need to be more careful in cleaning tables and surrounds.
We need a new and forceful government education campaign about littering and cleanliness-TV ads works the best.
On an individual basis people must not litter, take care not to spill food and drink, put rubbish properly in bins and
sometimes even push the things overflowing from bins down-often a foot on a bin full of paper hand towels will stop them
falling all over the floor in public toilets, for example. Look around you and do something positive.
THE MAIN ISSUES
Really, the core problem with attracting people into Rundle Mall is parking. People aren't going to the city because it is easier to shop in suburban shopping centres
with free car parking. The Adelaide City Council needs to provide affordable
parking in the city and people will come. I think it should be for a minimum of 3 hours because that is enough for shopping and a quick lunch,
or lunch and a quick look at the shops. Most people could probably afford to pay $10-$12 for that-but not much more. The mall is not the problem, getting there is.
On the other hand, the council can just keep working on improving and maintaining things in the city with plenty of
attractions and the public will come via good public transport.
The revitalised tram has been a wonderful success and free buses are a great way to move around the city if people know about them. Thought needs to be given to
park and ride systems to get people to the city too. The new trains will also probably be very popular once the lines are rebuilt.
Caught the tram to the city from the lovely new tram stop over South Road. It is very elegant and well planned. An Adelaide Metro employee
waiting there with colleagues, squashed out a cigarette butt on the ground and promptly kicked it onto the tram line where it joined hundreds
of others. There are 2 bins with special attachments for putting out cigarettes and disposing of them correctly available. How's that for setting an example?
Above: Footpaths, benches, the bins and King William Street.
Bottom: Cigarette butts at tram stop and King William Street splashes.
28-5-2013: There has been publicity about the high but unjustified cost of many things in
Australia recently, including computers, books, accommodation. If you've tried to buy a paper sewing pattern you will find that
it costs about $20 for a pattern to make clothing for a one year old. That is ridiculous.
Modern patterns actively
discourage people from home sewing. Each envelope contains the patterns for about 5 garments in a multiplicity of sizes. It is
so overwhelming that by the time you have opened out all the paper pieces, chosen which size you want, worked out which bits
you need and tried to refold the ones you don't, and attempted to put unwanted pieces back in the envelope, you have totally lost
interest. Not only that, but if you want the smallest size, you've either got to cut off the bigger sizes on the patterns anyway
copy out the pattern onto different paper. Why are patterns made like this nowadays? It's all too hard so that the few
remaining haberdashery shops don't even bother to have paper patterns half of the time.
Material and thread are also
hugely expensive. It's easier to buy some cheap, imported ready-made garment than have the satisfaction and pleasure of making
Patterns should come in a single size and a single garment e.g.overalls for a one year old, at a
cost of say $3-$5. We don't need all those sizes, all the different garments and the huge price, which I am sure is inflated in
Australia anyway, because they can.
Having written about patterns, I thought I should just check on the internet and found that you can actually download
patterns from Printsew, for example, after you have logged on and got a password. I chose a
cheap pattern in case something went wrong, and paid for it online-$3.99 for the pattern and $0.75 for processing. It said it
could take up to 2 hours to download or even 24 hours. Nothing seemed to have happened after 12 hours so as I have a Mac and it
often has trouble with material designed for a PC platform, I tried using Firefox as a browser rather than Safari, as they
suggested and the pattern was in the Mypattern box on Printsew. It was a complicated process logging on and going to My Pattern.
I had already
downloaded Adobe Reader Version 11 and a plug in but I couldn't get anything to work. I contacted Printsew and they soon
emailed me back asking me to download a different plug in and after much mucking around that did work and I was able to print
off the pattern-32 pages organised into Rows A-E. Each piece is labelled A1, C3 etc but it would have been good to have some
instructions on the actual pattern about what to do. I am now in the process of gluing all the pages together and then I will
have to cut them all apart again! Row E turns out to be 6 blank pages except for about a centimetre of pattern at the top
of one of the pages! It is quite clever, but it would be even more clever to sell each piece as a separate package.
It's been very interesting. $4.74 for the pattern, 32 pages of paper, considerable quantities of ink to print, at least an
hour to cut and put it together (but you'd get faster once you had the hang of it) and an hour or so working out the
downloading. I'm too tired to do any sewing now!
HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES
May 2013: We hear again and again about how expensive it is to run our hospitals and yet there are
private hospitals run by organisations with shareholders, who must make a profit, and they don't seem to be going bankrupt.
Surely hospitals should be run by the government, not with the aim of making a profit but with the idea of providing medical
services and, if possible, breaking even, paying for themselves. It is disgusting to think of investing in sickness and old age
as a way of making money. As soon as profit is involved, you know that corners will be cut-everything is sacrificed for the
almighty dollar. People should pay for hospital treatment, but it seems that private hospitals, like private schools, get to
choose their customers, while the public institutions are left with all the problems.
Similarly, nursing homes are run
for profit. Why? Is someone's life about profit? People need to pay their way, but they don't need to be ripped off and charged
exorbitant amounts for very minor services and help. Perhaps community cooperatives need to be involved in such organisations
which should be completely transparent in operation and administration. Only the government has the power to see that things
are run according to the strictest and best guidelines.
May 2013: Why are the labels on clothes at the back of the neck edged with metallic thread or, in some
cases, what feels like fishing line? This is so itchy and painful that I end up cutting the labels off most of my clothes which
is very annoying as I like to know the brand, size etc. for future reference. The care instructions lower down the garment,
usually sewn into a side seam, are generally on satin type labels which do not hurt. Why can't these be used at the neckline
too? I notice that mostly soft labels are used in baby clothes, but apparently it's OK for older people to be driven crazy by the
My second complaint about labels is how intrusive on the product the labels are. You buy a flannel or towel for
bathing (like the bright red towels at right) and they have large white labels sewn into the hem.
If you cut the label off you risk cutting the fabric or the
stitching so you have to leave a white strip. This even happens with pretty, floaty scarves-lovely fabric, daggy tag hanging
somewhere unsightly just when you are trying to look your smartest. Teddy bears, dolls, baby clothes, bibs, tea towels- all
have these giant, unsightly and unnecessary tags. The manufacturers have to use a stick on tag or a removeable one, not ruin
the product with the label.
And while I am on the subject, shops and manufacturers should not put labels on plastic food
containers or similar where removing the label could damage the surface. Put the labels underneath, at the bottom, out of
sight, not on top or at least use plasticised labels rather than paper and glue.
Jan 2013: TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
I hate this.
It started with Coles and Woolworths and their bread...with just two of us in the house I don't want an extra loaf of bread
that will eventually be thrown out (I hate frozen bread). Now it has spread to clothes. I don't want to buy a pair of shoes
only to get 50% off a second pair. Just make the first pair cheaper.....not rocket science.
Again, just make it cheaper and don't treat us like idiots. I am not going to spend $170 at Coles just to get 18c per litre
AND THIS ONE BEATS THEM ALL
I needed to get my sewing machine serviced so phoned a company that advertised free quotes. Yes, absolutely, no
problem. The quotes are free. However, if you want to have the machine put back together after they have discovered the
problem, it will cost $25. The mind boggles!
I know that artificial colouring and flavouring is
bad but when I make raspberry or strawberry flan, trifles and other desserts that involve jelly, they all look anaemic
and faded now, as though I have lost my touch, because all the jellies have natural colours and flavours. Please bring back
nice raspberry red jellies and let the greenies eat cake if they're worried.
Dec 2012: It's
happened without me noticing. When we were first married and I wanted curtains, I went to any department store or local curtain
fabric store and bought the fabric. There would be bolts of it sitting on poles on display tables. You picked a bolt and took
it to the counter to buy as much as you wanted. I chose colourful scrims in those days as they were the fashion, with florals
for the bedrooms. Over the years, I have come to prefer simple sheer curtains with a holland blind. That way you get the
greatest amount of light inside and the best view of the outside. I am aware that it is considered low class to have net or
sheer curtains-apparently the higher your class the more elaborate your window treatments should be, so that makes me the
lowest of the low! I don't care.
Anyway, back to the point. Over the years I would occasionally rush in to Harris
Scarfe's or Myers and buy new curtain material and in recent years it would be Spotlight for affordable fabrics. Last year I
finally took the plunge and had curtains made to measure for the lounge. They are very attractive sheer material with matching
new pelmets but it cost a lot of money and the curtains are made in exactly the same way I have always made them. Suddenly, in
the lead up to Christmas this year I have looked at my kitchen curtains and realised how shabby and tired they are. But where
do you buy curtain material to make your own curtains these days? As far as I can see, the ONLY place in town for curtain
material which is there on the spot is Spotlight, and with their recent so-called renovations the variety of materials has been
reduced and the way they are displayed in giant, sloping shelves is unmanageable unless you are at least 6 foot. If you want
curtain material you have to order it in. It's hard to imagine what a big curtain will look like from a small sample-some no
longer than 10cms. And don't even mention finding it on the internet. I've never seen so many woeful web sites under the
heading of curtain fabric. How do I know what brand I want? Show a sample of each fabric at least and don't give me stupid
brand names. I don't care who made it or designed it, I just want something that looks nice and is available-preferably before
Now I've got myself started. There are pictures in the social pages of nice looking young
ladies, dressed for outings. Below are not details of the occasion or comments on the style but such informative stuff as:
Who cares? Since when has the most important thing
about an object become who designed or made it? Oh, a new strapless dress with some sequins! Earth shaking.
CLEAN UP THE CITY
Nov 2012: Time and again they talk about revamping our
main shopping mall in Adelaide. We were there on Saturday night and it was quite nice. They don't need to redo it, just look
after it. Clean the bins out as often as is needed to keep them from overflowing, even during the evening, and especially
for Saturday and Sunday trading. Paint the posts, lightpoles, bins, benches often so that they look fresh and clean. (See
pole in photo below) Have people picking up loose litter all the time, even on Saturday and Sunday-especially on Saturday
and Sunday, when visitors most often are there. Clean that bloody chewing gum off the footpath and greater mall as soon as
it appears. I never even see people chewing gum in Adelaide so I don't know where it comes from. If people can't do the right
thing, ban chewing gum and impose a fine just like in Singapore and use the people caught chewing to clean it up. The trees
are looking good but we need more flowers. Take a lesson from England where public places are adorned with glorious hanging
baskets and big, 3 tiered pots of flowers. Put up some NEW, FRESH Christmas decorations. This must be about the 5th year in
a row for those big, ugly baubles and candy canes. Move the real rubbish bin away from the lovely pigs and let their bin be
obviously ornamental only! They are one of the favourite attractions in the mall yet scattered with rubbish. Fine more
people for dropping rubbish. No one ever polices this. We have gone backwards in relation to public cleanliness. Whatever
happened to KESAB? The areas around bins are also disgusting with black, foetid looking stains. The Adelaide city council
should be doing much more to make the city look clean, fresh and attractive. Don't spend millions on re-doing things, just look
after what we have. Make sure all the shops are occupied-you may have to subsidise rental to attract some businesses. If
they are not occupied, make sure the windows are attractive by advertising other businesses or tourist sites. Please do not
renovate, repair or dig up anything and cover the city with ugly, horrible, stupid, orange plastic mesh during the festival
season, February and March, 2013-like last year. Just keep things clean and tidy during the busiest time of the year when the
most visitors come to the city. Get some pretty new banners and flags for King William Street.
FORMER REGISTRY OFFICE
I realised I didn't have a nice picture of the
Registry Office where we were married in Adelaide in 1974. I knew it was no longer a registry office but was saddened and
amazed to see it was a drop in centre for migrants or refugees. This beautiful Victorian building, originally a bank of South
Australia, was narrowly saved from demolition by a Sydney firm which wanted to build a tower block on the site, and purchased
by the state government in 1971 following an extensive campaign by the public. Named Edmund Wright House after the original
architect, this glorious building should house historical documents or become a museum for post or transport, and be used to
attract visitors to the city. It would especially be a perfect place for the Tourist Bureau. It seems ironic that one of the
best examples of Victorian architecture in the city is being used to provide a service for newcomers to the city who have, as
yet, no involvement with it and probably little interest in history at this stage of their life's journey.
I ONLY WANT
This year I've become a grandma and need a supply of baby equipment at my place for visits. It would be good if you
could buy ONE baby wrap, or ONE feeding spoon or ONE of just about anything you need. So much stuff comes in packs of 3 or 4
and I don't need that many. I'd rather buy another little toy with the money than get more items than I need.
Jan 2012: Is it just me, or do Captcha, (I'm assuming it is the same in both singular and plural form,
like 'sheep') those wiggly nonsense words which security conscious people add to their websites to stop spam, drive you crazy?
Mostly, I can't read the captcha and have to type several versions to get it right. On some websites they then lock you out
because of too many tries. Now they have come up with the 'clever' alternative of having someone speaking words in a room full
of noisy people. Now, do I write down all 4 or 5 words that the person says, or just choose one? By this time I have swapped
out of the website and said, 'Forget it.'
And going into the shops I feel that old familiar panic. But why? I only have a few people to buy
presents for. I know I can make nearly all the food we can eat the day before Xmas. My usual pudding made the day before and
the cake a couple of weeks before Christmas are always very nice. Do I need a whole Xmas dinner set just for Xmas Day, or even
special Xmas platters? I can just get out the best and nicest china I have and use that. The table setting is the same every
year- as nice as I can make it with the best accoutrements I have that already sit in the cupboard unused most of the time.
Dec 2011: I intended this page to be complaints about consumer products, but I thought I'd have a
seasonal whinge about the Christmas letter. Everyone has had such a wonderful year. Their kids are doing brilliantly at work or
study or school and the grandchildren are Einsteins and tops at sport too. They are beautiful and cute into the bargain. Older
correspondents belong to photography clubs and choirs, get out and about constantly and are leading a rich and full retirement
interrupted frequently by loving visits from family and friends. It is only when you receive this yearly missive of cheer that
you realise how boring and unproductive your life is. That huge pile of ironing in the cupboard. You don't even go out to work
and still you can't get it down to manageable proportions. And as for the cleaning-it takes you twice as long to do things as
it once did and by the time you've got the windows and curtains washed you just about need to start again. Enraged you bang
around the house all day, swearing and creating cutting remarks you will make when next you meet your happy and gainfully
occupied relatives or friends. Don't send Xmas letters to me, or if you do, send them one year when everything isn't perfect.
Or tell the truth. You will make one recipient a lot happier.
Feb, 2017: Well, I've had my come-uppance re the Xmas letter. Not only are people not sending the letters, they are
not sending Xmas cards at all. Someone decided that this was OK, apparently. "Friends" now smugly inform you that they don't
"do" cards anymore. No reasons given, of course. It is just so much easier on Facebook. You simply do a mass greeting to your 200 best
friends in one go and that's that. It all seems a bit heartless and misses the point, if you ask me. The Xmas card allows me to
stay in touch with people I rarely see, once a year. Not everyone is on Facebook, and even if they are, there's something more
personal in writing a card and in receiving it. It is a long tradition suddenly almost extinct with hardly a word spoken or written
about it. While it is an effort to sit down and spend a couple of hours reviewing your year and thinking about your friends, it
is time well spent and I will try to maintain it for a bit longer.
Aug 2011: I am really annoyed at the stupid electrical cords you get on products. I have an electric
digital radio with a thick, black cord aboout 2 metres long but the radio is right next to the switch and I only need about
30cms of cord. Folding it up is ugly and so I thought I'd go to an electrician and have it shortened. What a joke! For a start
the only electricians you can find will come to your home for about $100 callout fee -half the cost of the radio. All the old
electrical shops have long gone. I suppose appliances are so cheap now it costs less to get new ones than have them repaired,
but that is not my issue - the cord would still be too long. Why don't more appliances have plug in cords which can be of
different lengths for different needs? Cords are really ugly and the computer industry, in particular, ought to apply itself
to designing a better appliance cord and plug. I know it has to do with creating magnetic fields but with all this fantastic
technology, surely someone can invent something better than the current ugly situation where dozens of cords are jumbled
together collecting dust? Perhaps the cords could be retracted inside appliances, as happens now with vacuum cleaners. I know
more processes are becoming wireless but in the meantime we need something better than the 'current' arrangement.
March 2011: It is impossible to buy affordable, good-quality pure cotton sheets and pillow cases
anymore. I am not interested in 500-800 thread count Egyptian and other cotton which is so closely woven that the air can't get
through and so slippery that you're liable to slide off the bed. Who invented thread count anyway? I only heard of it about 7
years ago. There's a great comedy skit on the subject by Aziz Ansari (no longer on You Tube).
Once upon a time you just bought fresh, crisp cotton bedsheets that were firm, even a little coarse. Now, you have
to buy polyester cotton because people are too lazy to hang out sheets to dry but spin them in a dryer while at the same time
demanding no creases (to avoid ironing, of course). Who is silly enough to iron sheets anyway? Less than 10 years ago you could
go into an average suburban department store and get cotton sheets like the ones I am describing.
And as for coloured and patterned sheets, whether cotton or polyester, don't dare to ask. Your
condescending dealer in bedroom decor will suggest that you may be able to get patterns elsewhere, but that she certainly
doesn't have any. Apparently everyone in the world prefers white and beige now. Of course it is so uninteresting that you then
need at least 8 cushions to make your bed look prettier and the manufacturers richer.
BLANKETS VERSUS DUNAS
It gets worse. In the last century, Australians used woollen blankets on beds in winter. This was a
good idea because Australia had a plentiful supply of sheep, providing wool for local industry to make blankets. Blankets were
very light, breathed well and were extremely warm during winter. Then along came "European" style, and now we have dunas, hot
and sweaty polyester filled things which we had previously known as eiderdowns. They are heavy and putting on covers is a
marathon event. I'd be surprised if most people who use them change them once a month. And when you have a duna, it doesn't
cover the whole bed, so then you need to buy a frill/cover to go around the base of the bed and special, expensive pillow shams
that you can't sleep on because they are only for decoration too. They have to match all the throw cushions, of course (see
Finally, there used to be a thing called a bedspread. That was padded a little like a duna and in a pretty
pattern and you could put it over your whole bed and only wash it a few times a year. It didn't matter whether your sheets were
floral or beige because the bedspread hid it all, covered the pillows and looked very neat and attractive. It was folded back
each night and didn't touch your body like those tastefully-coloured, hot, polyester-blend, infrequently-changed duna covers.
Good luck if you want to buy a bedspread now!
Update: November 2011: The Christmas
Innovations catalogue advertised a number of bedspreads. I rang and they were most helpful so I ordered one online, only to
receive a letter saying that it was unavailable but coming in November. Dec. 2011 Received the bedspread. It does not have a
sham which I specifically asked about when ordering. It is long enough to cover the pillows and I have removed one layer of
patchwork to make it the right width. It is all cotton, including the padding, and looks quite pretty but is enormously heavy
because of flat cotton filling. Because the bedspread has no sham, I thought I'd unpick the rectangles long wise, join them
sideways and add them to the length better to cover the pillows.I would then be short one or 2 rectangles, but no problem, I
should be able to buy some similar rose pattern material at a quilting shop! Well, they must have 2000 patterns of material
and not one of them simple old fashioned roses-I still haven't fixed it because it is a complicated process.
Aug 2008: About 10 years ago, over a few months, we bought some ordinary looking knives at a Woolworths
Supermarket and they soon became the most popular item in the kitchen. By the time we realised that we should buy some spares,
they had disappeared from the shop and we have never found them anywhere again. They are light, flexible, sharp, easy to hold,
great for spreading bread, cutting tomatoes, just good for everything and we love them.
Unfortunately we took 2 on a trip
to Europe in 2005 along with other expendable cutlery, to use when we made breakfast in our hotel rooms, accidentally left them
in our hand luggage and had them confiscated by smirking customs officials at Frankfurt airport. They put our luggage through
the scannners and made us unpack to reveal a pathetic looking assortment of cutlery wrapped in an old Aussie teatowel. From
potential terrorists we were reduced to objects of pity, certainly not glamorous international travellers. We often brood that
some German official is delighting in using our, apparently, humble knives.
The knife is 20 cms long, the blade about 9 and a half cms and the comfortably shaped,
black plastic handle 10 and a half cms long. The blade is wavy and serrated. Unbelievably, I walked into a church op shop once
and bought one for twenty cents but no luck before or since then. They are getting old, we have 4 left and we want
replacements. One has Wiltshire stainless -nox?, on it and Made in Hong Kong and another has Laser
Stainless and China while the other 2 have no brand name. Update:12-6-2012-broke one 3 days ago when the blade
snapped off the handle- found one yesterday at a thrift shop at Lyndoch for 10 cents! The quest continues.
The second knife we are looking for is a bread knife. I bought one at
a fete and, once again, everyone in the house wants to use it at the same time and we are always fighting over it. It is a very
light, Feathertouch-brand, stainless steel knife with a serrated edge, a cream plastic handle and it was made in the USA.
Success-found one in a an antique shop in Mannum, SA, on 8/3/2009! Always willing to buy another.
25/8/2011 I was in K
Mart today when they announced a free gift for anyone over 21. As I wasn't in a hurry, I thought I'd see what it was about.
I've heard it announced many times at different shops and knew it had something to do with knives. When the woman started her spiel she held up a knife and asked if anyone had a knife like it. I said
yes, and that I'd been looking for one everywhere. She asked what colour the handle was and when I said cream she pulled out
the knife we so love from under her bench. She said ours had to be at least 25 years old. This new version is called Forever
Sharp and she claimed it was exactly the same knife. I ended up buying the deal-$39 for 3 of the Forever Sharp knives, 2 paring
knives, a fillet knife, and wait, there was more. When I actually got the knives home and unpacked them, I had a sinking
feeling, however, because I realised I already had one that I'd bought at a garage sale. It has a much thicker blade than the
cream handled knife and is nowhere near as flexible. Still, I have put the second hand one away and am using the new knife at
every opportunity to test it thoroughly, and have to say that it is cutting through everything beautifully so far. I gave one
to a fastidious son and have one in reserve + the garage sale version. Perhaps with use it will get a bit lighter and more
PLASTIC GARDEN TABLES
The gods of good taste
have decided that plastic garden furniture, in fact plastic anything, is not acceptable. I know it doesn't last forever, but it
is light and easy to move, relatively inexpensive and looks quite nice in green to blend with the garden. For 3 years I have
been looking for a small, square, green plastic table for my back verandah. I have a round table but the legs are too close
together and you can't push the chairs underneath neatly. I have finally found and bought a table (30/8/08) like the one on the
left from a big local hardware store, but guess what? The chairs still don't fit between the legs! I am now looking for a
green, square, plastic table about 150 cms a side. There were actually quite a few white plastic bits of garden furniture and
very few green. Strange.
STAINLESS STEEL KITCHEN IMPLEMENTS WITH STEEL HANDLES
At garage sales I have bought a
good supply of egg slicers with wooden handles because we noticed that all the equipment in the shop has gone from having
plastic or wooden handles to stainless steel, like the one on the left. I don't know about you, but I find a steel handled egg
slicer left in a frying pan for a few minutes becomes too hot to handle, however streamlined it may look. Do designers even do
any cooking? It is also hard to pick up a fried egg on the thick blade which seems to come with such an implement. While
trawling the internet, I now find that this implement, always called an egg slice in my family, is called a turner or a fish
slice by those who know no better. There isn't even a definition for an egg slice.
Commerce runs the world and even
controls the vocabulary. I am sick of being told repeatedly by shop owners that what they have in stock is what customers want.
Apparently someone as absurd as me doesn't count. NO ONE asks what customers want-we are dictated to by fashion and so-called
style and by manufacturers who give us what they want. Very few people think for themselves or buy with common sense and
practicality in mind- appearance seems to be the only criterion. There are more and more shops, a global economy and yet the
varieties of some products seem fewer-cheap and fast is good but catering for a range of tastes is nice too.