29-9-2018: Every Saturday morning for about 10 years now, I've been going to garage sales, graduating from white elephant stalls at fetes etc.
I don't find it easy getting up out of bed early on a Saturday, even though I'm retired, and
it is an effort looking up the locations of the sales and driving to them, especially if it is cold. But what is really infuriating me lately, is that sellers
advertise their sale and only include the suburb, not even the time.
On Gumtree and on Facebook, they say what's for sale, sometimes the date but don't give the time or address, just the suburb.
If you have enough time before 8 am when most sales start, you can go back on Gumtree and they may have added the street name and the time, otherwise,
I suppose, you are expected to drive randomly around a suburb and try to find the sale. It drives me crazy.
There are stories out there about householders being woken up at 5 am by dealers knocking on the door or the gate. That is probably
only if you put in the exact address. How would dealers know you're having a sale otherwise, unless you put out all the signs the night before? Don't do that. Wait until
you are ready to start and then put out your signs. Keep your goods out of sight in the shed or behind the house and no one can
see you are the one about to have a sale. Even if a dealer does come, is it that bad that the whole garage saling community has to suffer with the
inconvenience of trawling around? Often I just drive on home. You are the ones that don't sell the gear.
Here is my advice for people holding a garage sale:
- Advertise the sale in the paper or free online, giving the date, time, street and suburb. Don't give the house number unless you want "early birds."
- If you are going to have a sale, organise it in advance. Get some cardboard and proper large textas to write the signs. Cardboard boxes are fine.
You may want a sign at each end of your street or at the nearest intersection.
- Write in neat, large letters so that everyone can read it, especially from a car.
- Secure the signs so that they are not able to be blown off course, and point in the right direction.
- Don't just write no. 48. Also have an arrow pointing to left or right.
- Put up a big, clear sign on the actual house and balloons on the gate or fence, so that they can be seen from a distance.
- Put everything out on tables or trestles or at least unwrapped and on the ground. I am not interested in stuff that has been
in your shed for 10 years and you haven't even bothered to unwrap.
- I like things organised by kind and price. So toys might be in $2 or $5 groups. It is up to the individual but you are not a high class antique dealer so
don't ask ridiculous prices for what you think may be collectables.
- Be friendly and greet visitors when they arrive. On the other hand, don't have a large group of friends drinking coffee and eating croissants
and acting like they are better than the buyers.
Had a letter published in "The Advertiser," 21-11-2017, a complaint as usual, about the cost of a cup
of tea at a small cafe in a local shopping centre. Radio 891 ABC rang up and interviewed me on air about the letter, but they obviously thought I was a crank,
writing about such a thing. After all, there is the SSM debate which has occupied the letters column on and off for most of the year,
not to mention electricity supply and cost. IMHO the cost of drinks at local eateries is a worthwhile topic for a state newspaper and one
that relates to everyone. I didn't get a chance to tell them of my many complaints about being a tea drinker, in Australia and overseas.
I have mentioned it in other web pages, but I'll recapitulate here.
POTS: As I've said in the letter, when you ordered tea at a cafeteria like John Martins or Coles when I was younger, you usually got 2 little pots, one
for tea made from tea leaves and one of hot water to regulate the strength. There were no tea bags
readily available in Australia that I was aware of until about the 1980s (I tried looking it up but can't find when they became common). When we had
the Beach Palais at Pt Germein during the 1950s, people would order tea and we would serve up a pot of tea, a pot of hot water, however many cups and
saucers were required on a metal tray and the customers would take the lot out to the beach. As far as I remember, there was no cover charge.
They just brought back the tray when they were finished.
TEMPERATURE AND DRIPS: Once teabags became common, there was no need for a pot and soon a cup of tea became a tea bag floating in water, possibly boiling if you are lucky.
In case you should burn yourself, many places turn the temp down so that hot water is only 95 degrees-making for a pathetic luke warm cup of tea.
The cafe will serve up the cup with sugar in small wrappers on the saucer and no where to put the tea bag when you remove it from the cup
but in the saucer where it soaks into the sugar. You dab at it with the small serviette supplied and then that is another bit if rubbish with nowhere to go.
Surely it is not so hard to supply a small disposable saucer about 5 cms wide in which to put the used tea bag?
TEABAGS: Overseas it is quite hard to get real tea in hotels and cafes. Tea to them is any herbal infusion. In hotels for breakfast
they will have a huge range of 'teas' in a glamorous container but none are actually tea. After battling over it for years I now take a supply of
my own tea bags and have them in my handbag. If you do not specify a flavour at a cafe, and ask for tea, they will ALWAYS serve Earl Grey. I think they
imagine it is more classy because of the title, but Enda Kenny
perfectly describes my opinion of bergamot flavoured water.
TRENDS: Now tea is back in fashion, fighting for survival against the current mysticism of coffee. It can't be just ordinary tea, it has to be specially
blended, expensive, sourced responsibly etc and it comes in strange little pyramidal shaped gauze bags with big leaves. Even though I am a tea lover,
I'm still not in fashion, because I like ordinary tea-happy with Liptons, Nerada, Bushells, not so keen on very strong tea
like Yorkeshire though I love their ads.
There's a lot of bull associated with food and drink. Have whatever the way you like it, and don't be patronised by others who claim to know better.
ADELAIDE (S. AUSTRALIA) DEPARTMENT STORES
28-7-2017: I'm repeating myself here (see Myers, Memories and Upgrades
below) but it is an ongoing problem getting worse. When you go to Myers or David Jones or Harris Scarfe at Marion or in the city to buy clothes, it
is a nightmare. The clothing departments are divided up into dozens of small brand name areas blocked in by racks and fake walls such that it is
confusing and irritating trying to find items of clothing. I DO NOT CARE who makes the product. Why is the 'designer' the be all and end all in
retail these days? 'Designing' a shirt or dress is not very hard. It's the clever ladies actually doing the work and physically creating the product
in some crappy little factory in China or Vietnam who deserve the credit.
Open up the shop floors so that customers can get an overall view of
what is there. Put all the tops or skirts or jackets together - sort by article of clothing not by designer.
Even better, retailers, talk to
designers and get them to stick to a standard sizing code so that sizes do not vary between brands.
I have always loved the department stores as
they were a part of my growing up, but you've lost me and, I suspect, most of your older customer base. Why would you alienate a demographic which is
currently said to be the most wealthy and is more likely to shop in stores than young people who may prefer to buy online?
The advantage shops
have over buying online is that the clothes and other products are actually there to see and touch and try on. Why make that so hard that customers
actually prefer to shop online?
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 Australia Post 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? Please insist on proper stamps on your mail, like the lovely jetty series at right
released 21-2-2017-click on them to go to Australia Post.
12-9-2016: It is hard to find attractive and comfortable clothing. Being short, I want a neat style using
pretty, practical materials.
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.
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
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 U neck drops down at the sides and grandfather edges also flop. It seems as though a proper collar is taboo unless it is on a denim or linen
shirt. In winter I used to wear light silky-type shirts with collars under a jumper. They didn't look bulky or stick to the jumper and provided
warmth at the neck, but those shirts no longer exist. I live in hope - after all, navy blue clothes are back after about 10 years when the colour
disappeared from the clothing spectrum.
7. Stripes - I've always loved them but I am SICK, SICK, SICK of them. For goodness sake come up with
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.
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
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. 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
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
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 assistance.
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 Castle 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 make vinyl mats but they are expensive, rare and many of the patterns are weird. We know because we
were able to buy some on a holiday at Hawker, of all places. 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. You can get some movie character mats
but they are thin and slippery, more like laminated paper . Is it just me? Am I a dinosaur? Must the whole world be run by good taste? I am sick of
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
March 2018: Much activity has moved this year to North Tce where there is a sensational light show featured on the facades of many of the old buildings like
Elder Hall, Conservatorium, University front office, Museum etc. Unfortunately the new tram extension is also under construction so metal fencing surrounds
huge poles on the footpath which have something to do with the tram, I suppose. There are inconspicuous black boxes for the light show but the
jolly folk of the fringe have plastered them all over with fringe posters and left any unwanted posters ripped up on the ground. There are poles and cables
and temporary booking offices, all sorts of mess-with not a single pop-up catering van in sight for the thousands of thirsty sight seers.
Our lovely elegant street looks like a tip. Maybe one festival they will not be doing roadworks, NBN, major renovations etc
in the centre of the city during the festival season. I'd like to see that.
5-3-2018: Went past Victoria Square and it actually looked neat. The Fringe and Festival options have moved elsewhere. There is too much cement,
not enough small trees, shrubs and flowers and it is baking on a hot day. Who can believe they spent so much on the upgrade?
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
1-8-2013: It's a wasteland. There must be enough underground plumbing for thousands. The
rest is holes and piles of dirt.
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 listened 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 renovation
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.
Photos show the orange that plagues Adelaide.
The minute something happens, be it roadwork, a missing paver or elecrical work,
orange people emerge and drape everything in sight in orange plastic mesh, and set up posts of orange and orange witches' cones, which
remain in place for months.
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.
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 council need to be getting the gum off the pavers immediately each night and there should be much more advertising against
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 wood 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.
TRANSPORT & PARKING
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.
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 do they make each 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'(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? Caught the tram to the city from
the tram stop over South Road. 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 on the platform with special attachments for putting out cigarettes
and disposing of them correctly available. How's that for setting an example?
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. (And I said it before they
had it on their website.)
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
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.
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 overstuffed wraps into their mouths, 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,
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.
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 and 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 or somehow 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 something yourself.
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 itch.
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.
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 off fuel.
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
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 Christmas.
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. 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 ONE
It would be good if you could buy ONE toothbrush, or ONE paintbrush 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 something else with the money than get more items than I
need. And it's spread to food. It is so hard to buy small amounts of meat like 2 chops-you have to buy a pack of 5.
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. 2017: I have found that flannelette sheets are allowed to be patterned, for some reason. They even stock them at Pretentious
Home Decor of Macboring East.
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 above).
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 Nov/Dec 2011. Received the bedspread. It did not have a sham which I specifically asked about when ordering. Still, it was long enough to
cover the pillows and I removed one layer of patchwork to make it the right width. It was all cotton, including the padding, and looked pretty but
was enormously heavy because of flat cotton filling. Indian made, the cotton fabric was very thin and the stitching between the patches began to
unravel. It has now been superseded by a patchwork look Morgan and Finch bedspread which is better quality cotton but still too heavy with mostly
cotton filling. It's hard to convince the good taste gurus that polyester is better than cotton for some purposes - a bedspread is mainly decorative
and it is much easier to manage and more hygienic if it is light and easy to wash and dry.
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! Update: 8-7-2017-Yay! Found one at a garage
sale-all the serration worn off but still sharp. 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 flexible.
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.