A timely bath

How true the adage that you don’t know what you have until it is gone. Showering is convenient, quick, economical, eco-friendly, and healthy. It has been part of my daily routine for the last four decades.

After eight years we again live in a house with a bath. Yesterday, I took the ‘plunge’ in making use of the modern plastic tub. Lying on my back; knees bent, in water that was not deep enough to cover my ever expanding stomach and arms wedged against my sides, thoughts of childhood bath time drifted through my mind. Especially the rose tinted memory of my grandparent’s vintage 1920’s bathroom in Warley, West Midlands, UK.

The room had dark brown linoleum floor covering, cream painted walls and gleaming white fittings with chrome taps. These were no frills taps; tee shaped from the side, they were connected through the back of the square porcelain sink and the end of the claw foot iron bath. The water flowed from the bottoms, nothing as fancy as spouts. The horizontally mounted, cross headed taps with small white porcelain discs, indicating ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ resisted when they were turned, emitting satisfying grinding screeches followed by soft pops.

It seemed that water gushed with the force of fire hoses, even though it took forever to be deep enough before I could slowly lower myself into this gargantuan steaming vessel. Once inside, the bottom and sides would feel icy against my skin. Also, the enamel was a little rough from eons of scouring with Vim powder. Time scented with the fragrance from Radox salts drifted up towards the ceiling. Dreamily I would exit when my fingertips had puckered and the grey soapy liquid had become chilly.

Even with its shortcomings, the contemporary experience of fifteen or so minutes, spent splashing about in late afternoon resulted in a physical and psychological calm that lasted well into the evening.

Box mystery

A week last Sunday, we returned home from our travels. Since then our days have been filled with moving and unpacking boxes, stowing contents, hanging pictures and redecorating the guest bedroom. Somewhere along the journey we seem to have misplaced two cartons; one containing a hifi the other, precious porcelain things 😱.

Our first task after getting over the thirteen hours drive from Sydney to Brisbane, over two days, was to remove the thicket in the tiny back garden. A lack of attention over the last six years had resulted in three plants creating a bizarre intertwining twisting structure that threatened to engulf the neighbourhood.

For the past week it has rained every day. What was a couple of muddy puddles have become a quagmire; ideal housing for a colony of mosquitoes. Clearing the undergrowth has revealed a drain that sits aloft the lapping waters of ‘Lake Morningside’. The Body Corporate have let us know that as the issue is in a private courtyard it is our responsibility to fund remedial works. The joys of home ownership.

I suspect the missing caskets have been taken by a creature from below the brown sludgy waters of the swamp.

Birdsong

Before our trip to Europe we were awoken each morning by a rousing chorus of crows. A month on, jet lag has us awaking around 4:30 am and falling asleep a little after 8:00 pm.

Thankfully the nearby birdsong has changed to tweets and flute like birdsong that is much more pleasing to the ear.

The other afternoon, I found it satisfying to hear a kookaburra calling.

Smell it in the air

As with most parts of the World, the Australian east coast is experiencing freaky weather. Forecasts of Brisbane receiving monster electric storms followed by a deluge of biblical proportions have so far not eventuated.

Official sources report that since the beginning of October temperatures have varied from 12.5oC at night to 27.5oC at their peak. On Wednesday afternoon our car recorded 33oC when we left the hardware store in Cannon Hill.

Fortunately there are major supermarkets located about ten minutes’ walk to the right of our home and smaller specialist stores to the left.

Yesterday, I ventured out to the shops a few times. While walking along the street I noticed that the air felt silky against my skin and I could smell the heat of Summer in the air. The local fragrance is one of slightly damp earth warmed by the Sun combined with the faint scent of bark, leaves and some flowering trees.

Happy memories

The great green glory of nature is encapsulated in the hypnotic rustle and sway of the grasses, surrounding Coate Water.

Nine years have passed since I last trod upon this pleasant land. Sadness and loss formed the backdrop of that visit. It took the wedding of a special family member and much coercing to get me to make the journey.

Time with family in celebration and basking in the warmth of friendship have made many happy memories.

In drinking deeply of the verdant oases of Swindon, Portishead and the surrounding countryside of Wiltshire and Somerset, I have renewed my love of England, country of my birth.

Invigorated and refreshed; we soon commence our return to Australia, via Italy.

Goddard Arms, UK

Swindon’s oldest hotel started life as a coaching inn when it opened its doors in 1810. It was named in honour of the Goddard family.

The following is taken from The Swindon Advertiser from 11 April 2008, Hotel’s History of Love and Murder:

The Goddard Arms became, for more than a century, the focus of Swindon’s commercial life.

Livestock and property auctions were held there and magistrates and county court hearings were held in its Assembly Rooms.

The hotel also saw drama and tragedies.

In 1819 hangman Jack Ketch, and the criminal he was to execute early the next day, both spent the night there.

The criminal, named Watkins, convicted of attempting to murder a Purton farmer on his way home from market, was reported to have eaten a hearty last meal before being taken in procession to the gallows, which had been put up at Purton Stoke.

The public hanging took place in a heavy thunderstorm and was witnessed by a large crowd, many of whom believed the condemned man was innocent.

In 1863 the body of a newborn infant, hidden in a lumber room at the hotel, was found by a shocked boots boy whose job was to clean guests’ shoes.

The body had been there for so long that it was impossible to discern the cause of death or even the baby’s sex.

Another, and perhaps even more shocking tragedy, took place at the Goddard Arms Hotel on April 29, 1914.

A 22-year-old painter and decorator named Walter James Harris arrived at the hotel and asked if he could see Frances Hunter, who worked there as a between floors maid, or ‘tweeny.

Unknown to anyone, Harris, described as “an eccentric but harmless-looking” young man, had a pistol in his pocket.

He had been walking out with Frances and was devastated when somebody told him she had had an affair with a married man while working in South Wales.

Harris took her to a coal shed at the rear of the hotel and asked her if the story was true.

When she admitted it was, he shot her dead.

Then he waited quietly to be arrested.

Within a week Swindon Magistrates sent him for trial at Wiltshire Assizes, where he denied murder.

His trial lasted less than a day and the jury took only half an hour to find him guilty.

They added a strong recommendation for mercy on the grounds of his youth and 5,000 people signed a petition asking for clemency.

Neither carried any weight with the Home Secretary. White was hanged at Winchester Prison on June 15, less than seven weeks after killing the girl he loved.

An estimated 10,000 people thronged outside St Mark’s Church for Frances’ funeral.

Lunch destination

When walking Stan at the weekend we often include lunch at a cafe. We had our favourites in and around Leichhardt including, Monté, Capriccio, and the Pig and Pastry.

After collecting a set of keys and remote control for the aircon from the real estate agent we tried out the Little Hideout Café, Balmoral.

Delicious food, great coffee, and friendly service combined with outdoor seating make for a perfect destination that is 20 minutes walk from home.

Unexpected turnaround

Our ISP, iPrimus let us know that the phone and ADSL would be connected on Friday 31 August. After receiving notification of the number, we connected the modem/wireless router. Based on experience I was unsurprised to find that neither the Internet nor telephone was working; from all four outlets in the house.

At 8:30 am on Saturday we sought assistance from iPrimus. After escalating our enquiry they let us know that we would receive further information in the next 24 hours and that we would be liable for $165 if the fault was due to our equipment. It is not the first time we have received this warning, on all occasions our equipment was found to have been functioning perfectly well.

At around noon there was a knock at the door. A burly ‘Field Technician’ (FT) from the phone company who provides infrastructure, bustled into our home brandishing meter adorned devices, with cables dangling. After poking and prodding, emitting high pitched noises and making himself comfortable on our soft furnishings he went to the ‘exchange’ to fix the problem. The FT returned two hours later, fault fixed, somewhat exasperated by the time it had taken.

To say we were gobsmacked would be an understatement; fixed on the same day!

Day three of our new life

Day three of living in Queensland, coincidentally the first day of Spring in Australia.

Wednesday

The day was taken up with cleaning the house in Sydney, as Bob and Daz from Mullumbimby Removals did a sterling job of packing our household and garden into the truck. After eight hours, we were pleased to see it begin it’s ten hour journey, north.

We wasted time waiting around for the real estate agent to take back the rental property in Leichhardt. He didn’t show as he “had a lot going on”; tell us about it!

Brisbane boys, Wade and Ben made our Virgin Australia flight enjoyable, delivering us to Brisbane at 8:30 pm; exhausted. The Colmslie Hotel, Morningside provided respite from the day’s trials.

Thursday

10:00 am, the unloading began. Thankfully, Bob and Eddie (Daz’s replacement) had a couple of helpers. Only six hours from arrival to payment.

In addition to moving boxes and furniture we ticked off the day’s goals of assembling the bed, sofa bed, and daybed.

Friday

We spent the day:

  • Installing the fridge’s innards;
  • Assembling racking in the garage;
  • Getting the espresso maker working;
  • Unpacking boxes; and
  • Arranging plants, so that they could be watered. The picture, above is the result.

Saturday

Today, a sore lower back is limiting my ability to do very much.