Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dramas and excitement we didn't really need.

The last thing that you need to happen a month or so out from Christmas is a house fire....and that is exactly what we suffered on November 7th. - my daughter's birthdate and also the date of this year's Melbourne Cup.
So that is a date firmly embedded into our memories for evermore!

Fortunately, the fire itself - and local damage from the heat - was confined to one bedroom and the immediate external area outside the window............

However, the rest of our home was severely affected by smoke and the subsequent soot deposits, which were carried right through to the front of the building. Ceilings and upper wall areas were black.........

On the Tuesday afternoon the specialist cleaning company arrived and over the next three weeks they cleaned the soot off every surface they could see, including individual items on bench-tops, in cupboards, crockery, cutlery, food packages in the pantry, framed pictures on walls......everything was wiped down and placed back in the cleaned location then covered with plastic........

The job that they did was amazing, leaving painted surfaces fifty shades of grey (apparently the soot leaves a microscopic "etching" in the paint surface) but ready to be primed and painted when the restoration work takes place.

Right now our home is uninhabitable, with the living room and main bedroom looking like a furniture warehouse or ready for a garage sale!
But everything is operating....fridge, freezer, washing machine, etcetera....and the computer equipment in my study/office is fine.

All we are now doing is being patient; it is unlikely that building works will start before the Christmas holidays due to the annual summer shutdown.
We are very fortunate in that we are renting a vacant, furnished, house for sale within the resort and which is less than 100 metres from our place.
The view from the front verandah is very relaxing and with a nor-easterly breeze, most pleasant on a hot afternoon.
Panoramic view from three separate photos.

On a final note, the cause of the fire was most probably a short-circuit in either a bedside radio or the power board into which it was plugged.

Every cloud has a silver lining - we were both out of the house when the fire occurred (about 10:00 AM) and the neighbours had the fire out before the brigade arrived.

You can't ask for more than that in a situation like this.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The new Pacific Hwy. bridge over the Clarence....update

Two months ago (August 23rd.) I took some photos of work on the pilings for the northern approach for the new crossing. I made a blog entry HERE.

This morning I revisited the construction site to get some pics of the work underway for the pilings on the southern side, such work commencing only a couple of weeks ago.

So this blog update will consist mainly of photographs (all enlarge to full-size when clicked) and I'll kick off proceedings with a comparison between what the southern approaches looked like then and what they look like now. The shots were taken at about the same location...........

Here is another set of comparisons, with a view north across the river back in August (top) and a view from the same location taken this morning................

As you can see, the work for the northern piling tubes has been completed, as has most of the pile-driving for the tubes across the river and work on the southern tubes is well underway.
Look closely at the full-size image of the shot immediately above and you will see that one of the first concrete pylons on the north bank is being constructed.

The following photos are all from my visit this no particular order but showing the work being carried out on the southern side of the river.............
The earthworks in the right-background is part of the on/off ramp arrangement.
Plumes of steam rise from Harwood sugar mill.
Looking south and the piling tubes yet to be pounded into the ground.
The RMS are taking a photographic record of the construction. One of two cameras seen here.

The shot below is of one of the several trawlers which operate on the river. In the background is part of the village of Harwood, on the upstream (western) side of the bridge.

More galleries will be added as the bridgework continues.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Music! Music! Music!

Margaret, Me and Michele, our patient music teacher!
What a wonderful night we had on Saturday (9th. September) when we had a "Fifties" musical evening at the home of very good friend, Margaret, here in Yamba.

Twenty guests were invited by our hostess and a selection of Fifties pops were performed by both our ensemble (Marg on organ, Michele and I on Yamaha keyboards) and also individual presentations by Margaret and myself.
The musical "menu" consisted of the following classic pop-music items:-

  • Theme from "A Summer Place" (Margaret)
  • Love Is A Many-Splendoured Thing (Margaret)
  • Medley of Mona Lisa, Bluberry Hill & The Twelfth Of Never (Bruce)
  • A "sing-along" of Rock Around The Clock & Rockin' Robin (Michele on organ))
  • Fly Me To The Moon (Margaret)
  • Ensemble performance of Singin' The Blues, Love Me Tender & Music! Music! Music!
  • Bye, Bye Love (Bruce)
  • Diana (Bruce)
  • Chanson d'Amour (Bruce)
  • Catch A Falling Star (Margaret)
  • A "sing-along" of See You Later, Alligator (Michele on organ).

The musical evening was rounded out with a menu of "Fifties-style" dishes which included such delights as cheese cubes & cocktail onions on sticks, bacon & prune delicacies on sticks, beef stroganoff & rice and finished off with desserts of bread-and-butter pudding and ginger & fig pudding with cream.
Excellent! Thanks go to Venette, Graham and Ben.

It was a really fun evening and I am delighted that just over a year-and-a-half ago I had the opportunity to become one of Michele's students.
I love being able to "make music". 😃
Trying to be a kool-kat! (Fifties-speak!). Keyboard is Yamaha PSR E443

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Emile Mercier - a cartoonist of note.


I grew up with Emile Mercier.
When I was a child, my father bought two daily newspapers - the Sydney Morning Herald and, in the afternoon, The Sun.
Emile Mercier's work appeared in every edition of The Sun from 1949 until he retired in the late 1960s (see Wikipedia article - link above). I used to buy The Sun myself when living and working in Sydney.
It was a sad say when he retired - a little like the sadness felt when Charles M. Schulz drew his last 'Peanuts' strip in 2000.

Mercier's style was unique; for instance, in many of his cartoons there were springs under the floorboards (example above) or even under footpaths.
He also drew wonderfully-scraggy cats and scruffy dogs and most of his works which featured race-horses had at least one of them named "Gravy Bones".
His inventive mind also came up with alliterative names for businesses and products.

The Wikipedia article to which I've given a link has good information about Emile Mercier. There are many other sources on the internet, too.
I just wanted to pop up a few of his pieces from the 1957 booklet entitled "Follow That Wardrobe!",  bought quite a few years ago and which I unearthed yesterday when sorting through some books.

You will find the occasional Mercier booklet on eBay. They are not cheap, having become sought after by collectors. For example, right at this moment there is one available for $40 and, from another seller, eight first-editions going as a job-lot for $260.

So enjoy the following examples, straight from 1950s Australia...............

The two pieces below certainly sum-up Mercier's view of road workers!

Those who are familiar with lawn bowls will get the gist of the comment below.

Nothing changes in politics, does it?!
When this cartoon was published (1957), Australia's television industry was only one year old. Politicians were very quick to take advantage of the new medium.

Every oil company had their own additives, each touted to provide some sort of improvement or benefit to the engine.
You might recognise the legitimate brands in the fictional names which Mercier has used below. Two of them have long gone from the roadsides of Australia.

Mercier's love of "gravy" and "shrdlu" come to the fore in the public bar and the horse stables.

That's probably "Gravy Bones" who ran last.......a very long last!

I'll round out this gallery with Emile Mercier showing that even Santa could get a "bluey" for illegally parking his sleigh.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The new crossing of the Clarence River pushes ahead.

Viewed from the southern riverbank, with the original bridge at left.

Although the construction site is about 9 kms (as the crow flies) up-river from our home, for the past several weeks we have been hearing muted "thuds" and feeling faint vibrations through the ground as enormous steel tubes are pounded through a thousand years of river silt and down to bedrock, some 50 to 70 metres below the surface of the water.

The site to which I refer is that for the new bridge which will carry the dual-carriageway Pacific Highway upgrade over the Clarence (which is approximately 620 metres wide at this location); add the approaches and the structure will be over 1500 metres in length.

Work is now well underway and yesterday I visited the site, parked my car on the southern (Yamba) side of the river and walked along the footpath on the existing bridge to the northern side, where the pilings for the northern approach are underway.

Looking south towards the Yamba/Maclean interchange.
At the southern end, work currently in progress centres on what will be the interchange, on-ramps & off-ramps, for traffic to and from Yamba and Maclean. Pile-driving at this end has not commenced.

Looking north and the piling work for the approach.

Whilst talking with two members of the construction team I was amazed to learn that these steel tubes have to be driven through such a deep layer of river silt before reaching bedrock but, as one of the gentlemen said, the location (seen above) was actually the bed of the river itself some thousands of years ago.
That red device with the tube projecting from it is the pile-driver.
As the tubes get driven into the ground, sections are added by welding them to the top until finally the tubes are of the correct length to just leave a small portion projecting, as in the photo below, which shows the first set of steel tubes - just off the north riverbank - completed and ready for the next stage in the construction of a pylon.
Tubes ready to become the base for one pylon.
The road-level on the new bridge will be about as high as those concrete blocks in the towers.
The original bridge (seen above and opened in 1966) will continue to be maintained by the State government (RMS) even though it will, in reality, become part of the local road system rather than part of the Pacific Highway once the new bridge is completed.
Northbound local traffic - i.e., that coming from Yamba & Maclean - will use this bridge and the original highway until joining the new carriageway near the Iluka turnoff, some 9 kms north of Harwood.

I met and chatted with a couple of the workmen who are removing rust, repainting and generally sprucing up the old girl.

No doubt it will be standing for another 50 years.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New Trees and Bridge

NEW TREES........
A  couple of years ago the large, old, Banksia tree which stood at the back of our replica lighthouse died. Then we had the Big Wind of 2016 and dead branches started falling. The dead tree had become something of a hazard and it was finally cut down and the remains removed late last year.

Some months ago, after a chat with our benefactor, John Ibbotson, we decided to plant a new tree. Not a replacement Banksia, but one of these.........
..........a Poinciana - the tree which has spectacular flowers in springtime and in summer acts like a leafy, shady umbrella.

So yesterday John and I dug holes and planted not one, but two of these trees; one will bear red flowers and the other, yellow.
Yes, yellow! I have never seen a yellow-flowering Poinciana but here's a photo of one:-

So we now have the red one planted a few metres away from where the Banksia stood.........

  ......and, on the other side of the building, the yellow one.

Hopefully they will flourish and grow to maturity.
If so, then the view of the lighthouse from down the grassy slope will be spectacular in springtime.

.....and NEW BRIDGE
Work on the new bridge at Grafton, which will provide a replacement for the old "bendy bridge" across the mighty Clarence, is starting to get underway.

The week following Easter saw the arrival off the mouth of the river at Yamba of a very large (48 metres in length) barge carrying equipment, including a very large crane, that will be used as a work platform for the construction of the pilings and the bridge itself.

The photo, which I took with my little Panasonic Lumix, shows the barge under the control of two towing and the other (tucked right at the corner of the barge) assisting at the it arrived off the mouth of the river.

After negotiating the bar the trio proceeded up river to Grafton.
Only another year or so and the new bridge will be in use.