Tuesday, 27 June 2017

At the wheel

This is the blog post I wrote yesterday and then forgot to post!

For the first time in six years Jan got behind the wheel of a vehicle and did some local driving.  It’s like riding a bike….. You never forget!  Well that’s how Jan went.  A slightly nervous start, but it quickly came back to her.  We kept to the quieter residential roads until the navigator (me) forgot where he was and suddenly she was on a busy road with traffic lights.  That was all taken in her stride, although there was some muttering about traffic going to starboard instead of port and why was the steering position so far forward!  Like me; she found the lack of voice street names from the gps slightly disconcerting.  Our  8 year old Garmin Nuvi GPS has audio street names, so why can’t a 2017 system have the same?

Once back home I decided to fit the electrical energy monitoring hub to the house.  There wasn’t much to do.  Electrical mains power was turned off at the meter board before removing the screws holding the panel in place.  Once access to the rear was obtained I clipped the sensor around the main supply cable.  The sensor was then plugged into a battery powered waterproof wireless transmitter which was located outside the meter box.  Then the switchboard was reinstated and the electricity turned back on.

Inside the house I plugged the monitoring system hub into the internet router, before also connecting the hub to the nearest 240V power socket.  The transmitter and hub then automatically wirelessly linked and the hub started sending our electrical consumption over the internet to the website.

After registering on the website I configured the hub data by entering the electrical tariff rate and our initial power consumption target.

The website dashboard then started to record and cost our electrical consumption which you can see in the screen dump below.

Electrical Monitor

The top left box shows our real time usage.  During the initial 90 minutes we consumed 0.12kW of electricity.  The middle box shows our running cost as $0.08 and my budget of $150 for the month.  The top right box has three options:

  • Total cost since implementation
  • Cost for the current month
  • Today’s cost

The graph at the bottom shows usage by minute/hour/day/month,year

You can see a spike in the graph when the fridge was opened to retrieve items for lunch!  All this usage data can be downloaded into a spreadsheet.

There are two reasons we have fitted the monitor.  First, hopefully it will assist us to reduce our electrical consumption and also identify energy hungry appliances.  Second, by recording our daily electrical consumption I should be able to calculate the required size of the planned solar array.  We will need an array that has sufficient capacity to power the house during the day and also provide additional power to charge the lithium battery I’m thinking of building.  The long term idea is to build a battery of sufficient capacity so we can go “off grid”.

Perth has a kWh rate of 26.474 cents and a daily supply charge of 48.60 cents which equates to $177pa just to have the grid connection.  Whilst the electrical company charges consumers 26.474 cents per kWh, they only pay 7 cents per kWh for surplus solar power sent back into the grid from residential solar arrays.   It’s therefore more cost effective to use you solar electricity rather than sell it.  Moreover, if I can build a cheap lithium battery we won’t have to buy electricity when there is no sun.

Lastly, the electrical companies have recognised the threat residential solar power poses to their business and have successfully lobbied the state government to introduce legislation limiting the size of residential solar arrays connected to the grid to a maximum size of 5kW.  Their claim is if too much solar power is fed back into the grid it might overload it or provide a safety risk to employees.  Also, recognising daylight demand is reducing, they have increase the fixed daily supply charge.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Who said retirement was relaxing?

We’ve both been rather busy over the last few days and next week isn’t any better.

Monday – stay at home, parcel is arriving

Tuesday – Take 4x4 to have the towbar fitted

Wednesday – stay at home, chest freezer is arriving

Two days ago we visited the auto store where we purchased vehicle shampoo, clay bar, wet look polish and CRC 808 silicone spray,

On Friday I managed to thoroughly spray the engine compartment with the CRC 808.  It’s supposed to be heat resistant.  The theory is the coating of silicone will make it easier to wash down and clean the compartment.  If that doesn’t work then at least the engine bay looks shiny!

20170622_105837

There’s not much room in there for my fat fingers, let alone all the bits & pieces I will need to install for my planned outback trips.

Saturday I pressure washed the car and then used the snow foam attachment.  That was a failure!  The cheap foam gun that came with the pressure washer isn’t up to the task so we will need to buy a better gun.  The foam was then pressure washed off before the vehicle was dried with a micro fibre towel.  It’s the first time I’ve used a micro fibre towel.  In the past I’ve used a chamois.  The towel is much easier!  Wish I’d known that when drying the boat.  We also went out and purchase a large rubber floor mat for the back of the vehicle in the hope it will stop items  sliding around when being transported. 

Sunday (today) I gave the 4x4 two applications of Meguiars ‘Wet Look’ polish.  I must be getting old because every previous car we’ve purchased has always received an initial six coats of polish. Smile

Jan noticed the nearby Auto One store had an end of financial year 50% off on sheepskin seat covers so we drove down and bought a pair for the 4x4.

Jan was also pleased when she noticed in one shop what she thinks is an equivalent to Yorkshire ‘Pink

20170619_150838

I failed to mention the cost of petrol.  We needed to fill the hire car before returning it.

20170619_105211

Approximately 65ppl.  That’s better than the UK!  Diesel is about the same price……



Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Fruit and the BBQ

Almost every morning I rise and go outside to pick up more of the damned oranges which have fallen off the tree overnight.  I wouldn’t mind if the oranges were a decent size and the inside didn’t smell like cat wee.  As a consequence of the latter they are being thrown in the rubbish.  Yesterday I got heartily sick of the task and used a broom to shake most of the fruit from the tree before collecting all of it.   Well it rained last night and there was also a reasonably strong wind.  Yes, this morning there were more bl**dy oranges on the ground under the tree!  The Frangipani decided to join in on the action and discarded leaves across the back left corner of the lawn.  No doubt the farmers will be happy to see some rain.  Winter is definitely late this year!

Later in the morning we took the new vehicle for a drive down to Morley and called in to the BBQ Galore store.  Our old BBQ had lasted 20 years and was starting to look the worse for wear when we were packing to leave for the UK in 2011.  It didn’t make it on the house pack list so we need a new BBQ.  It’s the end of the financial year on 30 June so now is the time to buy.  BBQ Galore had discounted many of their BBQ’s and we were looking for a bargain.  We couldn’t have done this two days ago because the BBQ box wouldn’t have fitted in the rental car.  Anyway, we bought a four burner stainless steel BBQ with 5th wok burner for approx £150.

It took me a couple of hours to assemble it.

IMG_1689

There wouldn’t have been any room for it on Waiouru but it might fit in the cratch of Still Rockin’ where that master BBQer George could have cooked up a storm! Smile

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Shipping

WARNING   This post has a slight nautical theme.

Pickfords last email included the name of the container ship that is conveying our UK possessions to Australia.  Armed with that information I went looking for a website which would provide more information.  After a brief search I discovered the https://www.marinetraffic.com  website and entered the ship name into the search field.

The MAERSK MC KINNEY MOLLER is currently between Tunis and Sicily heading towards the Suez Canal.

Shipping

Let’s hope Somali pirates don‘t acquire’ our “stuff”. Smile

This morning the car dealer arrived at 7.30am and took me to the dealership where I signed for a courtesy car.  It was a manual D-MAX dual cab ute.  After infrequently driving small rental cars for the past six years the ute seemed huge.  Once driving one of the first things I noticed was the truck-like feel of the six speed gearbox.  Had I erred in my judgement opting for a manual?  Once home I swapped vehicles and returned the rental car before walking home.  We then took the ute the 12km to our bank and withdrew the necessary funds for our MU-X.  We had only been home 10 minutes when the dealer called to advise the MU-X was ready for collection.  It was then a case of returning the ute and receiving the introductory briefing for our vehicle before being given the keys and driving it home.  It was somewhat of a relief to discover that despite having many similar components driving the MU-X was totally different to the ute.  A much smoother ride and easier gearbox.  The owners manual is the same size as the first two volumes of Winston Churchill’s History of WW2.  I’ve only managed to skim through one volume before settling down several hours later to write this post.  Actually when I sit behind the wheel and look at the dash instruments I feel like Captain Kirk at the helm of the Starship Enterprise.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Success with the router VPN

After some fiddling around the Netgear router now has the alternative firmware correctly installed (Tomato Shibby).  This has unlocked a number of hidden router features which has enabled me to install and configure the Virtual Private Network (VPN) on the router, rather than individual devices.  There is a financial saving as we only require one subscription for the router rather than a subscription for every device.

VPN

You can see in the above screen dump I have the VPN Client running.  As part of the setup I needed to decide where the other end of my private tunnel would be located.  Our internet provider uses the Telstra network and I remembered Telstra had a good link to Hong Kong.  So I set the destination to Hong Kong and tested the data speed.  I was expecting some speed degradation as the router now has to encrypt and decrypt all the data going out and coming in.  Our internet provider can see the data but can’t read it.  Nor can they follow us down the VPN tunnel.

The next step was to see if there was a “leakage” of our original location (ie, Perth, Australia).  Companies like Google and Facebook are particularly interested in where you go on the internet and employ some sophisticated technology to track your viewing activity.  I used the DNS Leak Test website <here> to check if my public location was Hong Kong.  I was slightly surprised when a number of companies had been able to identify our true location.  To rectify this I went back to the router configuration and changed the VPN setting from ‘Relaxed’ to ‘Strict’.  you can see that in the bottom right of the above screen dump.  I ran the test a second time.

DNS LeakThat worked and our location is Hong Kong.

DNS_HK I then checked our internet address to confirm as far as the rest of the world is concerned we are in Hong Kong.

The next stage of this project will be to further configure the router so that only certain devices use the VPN channel.  I will also be able to allow only approved devices to access our home  network through the VPN.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Vehicle

This post is in response to a query from reader Ade regarding the Isuzu vehicle we are purchasing. 

I’ve have been researching vehicles for almost two years.   My criteria was:

4x4.  Off-road travel through the Australian outback is on my bucket list and a two wheel drive vehicle will not be able to cope with the conditions.

Cab-Ladder Chassis.  The vehicle will be travelling over thousands of kilometres of corrugated tracks and sand dunes.  The vehicle will go through a torture test and in my opinion a monocoque chassis is weaker in these conditions.

Reliability.  The engine and drive train must be strong and reliable.  The vehicle must have a proven track record.  Breakdowns hundreds or thousands of kilometres from a workshop are unacceptable and potentially life threatening.

Power.  The vehicle must have plenty of power (torque) to two a trailer loaded with fuel, water and other supplies.

Price.  The lowest price to met the above criteria

Initially, I started looking a dual cab diesel powered utility vehicles but after several months of research realised this type of vehicle was just as expensive as a 4x4 SUV.  Why pay for a utility when you can have a wagon for the same price? 

In the end I was left with three options.  The Mitsubishi Pajero Sports, Nissan Pathfinder and the Isuzu MU-X.  The Mitsubishi has a rear diff lock but it’s a monocoque chassis.  The Pathfinder only has a towing capacity of 2700kg.  The MU-X has a towing capacity of 3000kg and a cab-ladder chassis. 

The Isuzu comes in three variants.  The base model is; as you would expect; very basic.  The top model has fake chrome trim, keyless ignition, a 10 inch ceiling mounted TV for the rear passengers and only comes with a automatic transmission.  We don’t need the chrome, keyless ignition or the TV.  We also want a manual gearbox.  In my experience it’s easier to start and tow a manual vehicle.  We also won’t need to worry about the automatic transmission overheating out in the desert.  Finally, why pay an extra $2000 for something the brain, hand and foot can do when coordinated.

isuzu mu-xIsuzu MU-X in Titanium Grey 

The MU-X isn’t without it’s weaknesses.  Like most 4x4 SUV’s that are derivatives of dual-cab utes they have a small fuel tank.  The MU-X has a 65 litre tank which means I’ll need to carry plenty of extra fuel in the trailer.  It’s also possible to fit an after-market long-range tank however I can’t justify the cost.  Notwithstanding the exclusion of the tank modifications I have a number of other modifications to prepare the vehicle.  These include:

  • Heavy duty towbar
  • Front LED light bar (emergency only as I plan to only move in daylight)
  • 2nd Battery for the fridge
  • CB radio (to communicate with other vehicles haha)
  • Front wheel hub locks
  • Tyre pressure management system (TPMS)
  • Dashcam
  • Scangauge
  • Trailer brake controller
  • Diff and gearbox breather extenders
  • Set of outback (steel) rims and appropriate tyres,

The TPMS has already been ordered from China.  The remainder will only be purchased after I have had the opportunity to completed a detailed examination of the vehicle

Friday, 16 June 2017

Has the tide turned?

It’s still early days, but the tide might have turned on our personal circumstances.  Readers you may recall we purchased very cheap airfares for our return, around £300 each.  When we arrived in the UK back in 2011 Jan picked up a very useful tip from Sue of nb No Problem and joined Quidco.  During our time in the UK she collected approximately £160 in discount rebates, and they continue to flow in.  When we arrived in Australia Jan checked on Quidco and was advised she was to receive a £32 refund on our airfares..

I hadn’t been doing so well in the car front.  After three visits to the nearest dealer he wasn’t offering any form of inducement to finalize a deal.  Perhaps I was being optimistic as I wanted the latest model which has only just been released.  However June is the end of the business financial year which I thought might make them keen.  Isuzu are offering an introductory discounted price as a promotion on the new model for $46,990 plus $450 for metallic paint.  Jan had selected Titanium Silver metallic as the colour and I had resigned myself to paying $47,440.  I’d been informed during an earlier visit that the vehicle was in Perth.  The salesman took me to the manager who looked at his computer an told me the vehicle would be available in late August.  That was a shock and when I queried him I was told Isuzu had delayed the arrival of the new model in order to clear the old stock.  He then informed me the price was $48,990 plus $450 for metallic paint.  When I informed him the price was $2000 less he told me that was the price of the old model.  There wasn’t any point in getting angry and I just walked away. 

On reaching home I phoned a second dealer who told me the price was $46,990 and the vehicle was in Perth.  Back into the rental car to visit the dealer.  Once there I confirmed the price, colour and availability before asking “What can you do for me?”  The end result was he included the metallic paint in the base price of $46,990, agreed to filling the fuel tank along with rubber floor mats.  Well that was a second positive.

Today we received an email from Pickfords UK advising our unaccompanied boxes will arrive towards the end of July.  That’s about a month earlier than anticipated. 

Jan has been searching online for a chest freezer.  Of course she wants a bargain and today she found one at AOL (Appliances On Line)  The order was placed using a discount voucher for $20 off and delivery will occur early in July.

The final outstanding item is my application for a credit card.  We don’t particularly need one, but it’s very hard to hire a rental car without a card.  I think I must have now told the bank everything about myself, including my inside trouser leg measurement!

I managed to go for a local walk this afternoon and decided to walk around the ‘Summer Lakes’ part of the sub-division.  We used to live in this area back in the early 90’s.

IMG_20170614_162624 - CopyIMG_20170614_164604 - Copy

Most of Perth is built on sand and land developers have utilized the low areas to create or enhance existing lakes and ponds as storm water soak pits.

IMG_20170614_163334IMG_20170614_163823

It has always bemused me that in a vast land the cost of a house is usually a third of the price of the land it sits on.  The houses above are some of the more expensive in our suburb.  I’ll take photos of the more ‘average’ homes on another walk.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

His ‘n’ Hers

Yes there has been a gap in the blog posts.  Sorry about that readers, but we’ve been busier than flies at mustering.  The rental car is certainly getting a workout as we flit from store to store either researching or comparing prices.  Jan appears to have selected a fridge (Hisense) and potentially a freezer.  The fridge will be four door (2 x fridge & 2 x freezer) with a white glass front on the doors.  Obviously it is much warmer here and food that ordinarily wouldn’t require refrigeration in the UK must go in the fridge here.

At Hardly Normal (Harvey Norman) the fridges were down the back requiring shoppers to pass through the furniture department.  That’s where Jan noticed the His ‘n’ Hers couches.

20170612_11174920170612_111849

Electric recliners for the home theatre room.  The centre seat converts into a snack bar with room for the coffee/beer.  Two 240V sockets and two USB ports along with individual LED lights.  This wasn’t on our shopping list….. but might be now!

This afternoon we visited one of the larger residential developments to get an idea on available land.  Jan also wanted to visit the display homes but we couldn’t find them.  Another day!

We arrived back at our accommodation to find Jan’s Seniors Concession Card had arrived.  Mine will probably arrive in another three days.  Tomorrow we plan to visit ‘The Reject Shop’ (Poundland/99P).

I had to phone the bank this morning which turned out to be rather frustrating.  UK call centres are frequently located in India.  Australia locates theirs in the Philippines.  I’m a little deaf and when combined with a poor quality phone line and someone speaking philipish I usually get the conversation wrong.

Hopefully I can get the blog post back onto a regular schedule shortly.

Jaq I think having an open fire on the exterior of a boat is more than a little foolish.  However I am looking forward to using a Kelly Kettle during my outback travels.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Embracing the Lawn and the new TV

Debby (nb Chuffed) left a comment suggesting I should try embracing the lawn rather than feel compelled to attack the weeds.  I tried that this morning lolling around on the grass and staring up at the blue sky before my other half kicked in and I sneakily managed to rip three clumps of clover out whilst they weren’t watching.  This might have continued, except it was the coldest Perth winter morning in years (1c).

It’s actually been a rather busy day.  We purchased a new TV to replace the old Pioneer plasma which is boat energy hungry and makes growling noises.  Perhaps in consternation about my actions with the clover.  Now we have a rental car it’s possible to get around the shops.  This morning we visited the three closest after doing some online research which identified the bargain set as a 58” Hisense 4K ULED.  This isn’t a top range TV and was on special at $995.  All the shops prices were within $3 of each other so naturally we went with the cheapest and purchased it from The Good Guys at Malaga.  Everything was going well until I tried to fit the set in the boot of the car. The problem was length as I’d already lowered the back seats.  The damned TV was too wide.  The storeman told me I’d have to pay for delivery at $70.  No way was I going to pay $70 and I phoned my brother who has a Toyota 4x4 asking if he would collect it.  Well what are relatives for.  Actually we’re very grateful for his assistance.

Once the TV was home we removed the old TV from the top of the cabinet and unpacked the new TV.   That’s when we discovered ‘size matters’.  The base of the Hisense 58” TV was longer than the top of the cabinet.  Another problem to overcome.  My temporary solution was to make a trip to Bunnings (Bunnings recently purchased Homebase in the UK).  I managed to buy a length of white melamine particle board which I’ve temporarily fixed to the top of the cabinet with clamps.

Hisense Red arrows point to the clamps and you might able able to see that the white particle board extends beyond the cabinet at the right end.  The TV isn’t HDR capable or a Premium UHD set, but that doesn’t matter because it will eventually go on the wall in our bedroom when we move into our new house.

I’ve connected the NVidia Shield to the TV where it will be the client end of our planned home media streaming network.  

The ADSL internet connection to the house was activated today and I spent much of the afternoon configuring the router and local network.  I’m halfway through configuring the extended network which will include a second router.  The plan is to run two networks in the house.  There will be an unsecured wifi network (password protected) and a secured network involving a VPN.

I’ve tested the internet speed and it’s woeful.  Download is 3.7mbs and upload is 0.8mbs.  A 4G mobile phone in the UK usually runs at 12mbs.  Australian politicians are always feeding the electorate the line that Australia is the ‘lucky country’ and has the best internet in the world!

I think Bolivia might be faster.  Smile

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Smokey Day

We awoke to the smell of wood smoke and very poor visibility.  We are into the first week of winter and with lower temperatures (27c) the authorities have started burning off all the undergrowth to reduce the fuel loading on the ground in an effort to minimalize the risk of bush fires next summer.

The young lady who completed the paper work for our hire car had a lovely Irish accent and when I asked how long she had been in Perth she told me “Four years and I’m hoping to get residency!”  She would only go back to Ireland if their summers were as warm as Perth winters.

It’s been a busy day.  We were up at 6am and the first delivery was at 7am.  The courier delivered a package which turned out to be the NVidia Shield I had ordered from the USA.  It was scheduled to arrive on the 13th but was delivered 6 days early.  I didn’t buy the NVidia Shield in the UK because it’s cheaper in America.  I would have paid VAT on it if I’d ordered from America and taken delivery in the UK.  Australia doesn’t collect VAT (GST) on imported goods for personal use if the value is below $1000.  The NVidia Shield is part of one of my bucket list projects and will form the client for my planned network media server. 

IMG_1681

The Shield with its remote.  The remote has a microphone enabling the user to command the Shield by voice.  The Shield will plug into our TV and wirelessly connect to our media server (yet to be built) and stream videos from our library.

The second delivery was the energy monitor.  This consists of three components.  There is a clamp which gets fitted around the main electrical supply cable into the house.  The clamp records the amount of electricity being consumed by the house  This is connected to a “Hub” which wirelessly transmits the information to a second “hub” which is connected to the internet via a router.

IMG_1682

First hub and clamp

IMG_1683

Second hub connected to the router.

The collected data is sent to a website where we can monitor usage by hour/minute/day/week etc.  The data can also be downloaded into a spreadsheet.  The reason for purchasing the energy monitor is to get detailed and accurate data on our electrical consumption so I can calculate the size of our planned solar array and battery storage system.

Jan is feeling particularly pleased.  She wanted to buy a vellux blanket and after an extensive internet search found a source selling them for $197.  Then she identified they had been discounted to $127.  After even more searching she found a discount code.  The final price was  $105

Hopefully the ADSL internet will be connected tomorrow relieving us of the necessity of carefully managing our small mobile data allowance.

Dave,  the Kelly Kettle is cheaper in Australia.  Probably 10% GST vs 20% VAT.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The NZ Thermette

In 1929 a Kiwi named John Hart invented the Thermette.  It quickly became a ‘must have item’ for many New Zealanders.   I remember my parents always having one in the car when we travelled.  They would stop for a break and light the Thermette for a cup of tea.

The Thermette consists of a tube shaped outer metal jacket and a cone shaped inner.  A fire is lit in the base and the void between the inner and outer skins is filled with water. Additional solid fuel can be dropped down the chimney.  It takes approximately five minutes to bring the water to boiling point.

wind-blows

During the Second World War, the Thermette was issued as standard equipment for New Zealand troops in North Africa. The soldiers named the Thermette the `Benghazi Burner’.  There was very little local wood so the troops would fill an empty food can with a mixture of sand and petrol to heat the Thermette. 

Much of the Allied forces petrol was delivered in thin four gallon cans nicknamed the ‘4 gallon flimsy’.  These same cans were also often reused to carry water which would be tainted with the taste of petrol.  Tea masked much of the taste in the water which meant the Kiwis treasured their Benghazi Burners.  Camp sites occupied by New Zealand army units always left the distinctive circle of scorched earth from where the Thermette stood. This puzzled the enemy troops for sometime, until they learnt that it was only New Zealand troop camps that left this distinctive tell-tale sign.

Thermette with a cooking ring on top

campmaster_thermette_copper

The modern Thermette has a copper body with a galvanised iron fire chamber.  A stainless steel cooking ring for the top is also available.

The Thermette is still manufactured in NZ by Wilson & Co.  They retail for NZ$219.

An alternative is the Kelly Kettle which originates from Ireland.  This operates on the same principle but is made from stainless steel.  It also has a number of accessories.

ss-scout-set

The Kelly Kettle is available in three sizes with the midsize costing approximately £50.

I couldn’t see us having much use for one of these cookers living on a narrowboat but one might be useful in my longer term plans.

Both work equally well so any decision comes down to method of construction and price.  Whilst emotionally I favour the Thermette, the Kelly Kettle is superior in material and price.  Therefore I would choose the Kelly Kettle. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Assimulating

I don’t believe it.  This morning I was down on hands and knees weeding the lawns.  Gosh that three leaf clover is tricky!

After numerous emails to the internet provider we finally made some progress right at the end of the day.  When we moved into the house we were informed the phone line was active and given the number.  I used this number when applying for the internet.  Then we discovered the line wasn’t active and needed to apply to Telstra for that to occur.  I was informed this would take two days and when, after four days, I didn’t hear from Telstra I phoned them.  That’s when I discovered they hadn’t actioned the request and I had to reapply.  In the meantime the ISP connected us and sent the first bill.  Three days later Telstra also sent a bill, but didn’t tell us the line had been made active.  Fortunately I noticed the new phone number on their account.  I then sent this information to the internet provider.  Five days later the internet still wasn’t working so I contacted the ISP support desk.  They talked me through all the router settings only to discover I had done everything correctly.  I then reminded the technician about the change in phone number.  He didn’t think it was important!  Yesterday I spent another hour on the phone with the ISP support technician before he gave up telling me I probably had a dud router.  This afternoon I managed to hire a car (another story) and we were able to visit BigW and buy a $20 (cheapest we could find) phone.  Using this I was able to confirm the phone line was active and confirm the number.  Next I contacted the ISP Support Desk and told them what I’d done.  The light finally went on in the technicians head and he told me “We have the wrong phone number in our system!”  That would be the number I gave them four days ago.  So it’s going to take another three days to reconfigure and apply the ISP setting for our connection.

Meanwhile the credit card company has sent a letter demanding I provide proof of income before they will consider my application.  That would be the proof of income I provided and attached to the initial application form.  I know…. I’m feeding strawberries to donkeys.

After not paying rent for his final five weeks the tenant finally vacated our house today leaving it dirty.  He also had the electricity cut off.  We now need to create an account with the electrical company to get the power back on so the cleaners can sort out the house.  The bond money won’t cover all these costs.  Actually knowing how the Rental Tribunal works they will probably return the bond to our ex tenant.  

The foresight on the revolver barrel is scratching a deep groove in the roof of my mouth!

Never mind, things will get better…….. <coz it’s bloody hard for them to get worse!>

The good news is the rental car.  Having transport will enable us to get around and do more shopping. (eg, a second chair for the table will mean we won’t have to eat in shifts) 

Monday, 5 June 2017

More Nerdie Stuff

It’s Foundation Day (Bank Holiday weekend) here in Western Australia and our already quiet neighbourhood is so quiet you can hear the birds breaking wind. 

My sister has kindly loaned us her old TV.  After looking at it for a week we’ve now realised it’s the same model and size as the TV we left behind when we moved to the UK in 2011.  At that time it was the best TV you could buy.  A Pioneer 50” plasma screen.  There wasn’t an internal tuner which meant a separate set top box was required.

IMG_1677 Yes that’s a reflection of me on the screen.  The small set top box is in the cavity underneath the stand.  In their day plasma screens produced a much better quality picture than LCD/LED.  But they are very heavy and consume considerably more electricity.  You can feel the heat emanating from the screen when you stand close to it.  We are going to need a new TV as a replacement for our original plasma Pioneer so I’ve been doing some research.

Yesterday we received an email from Telstra which was the first monthly rental bill for our phone line.  You know……. the line they haven’t connected and failed to respond to our initial application!  Until the line is activated they can stick their bill where the sun doesn’t shine.  But their email did include our new phone number.  So armed with that I was able to write to our internet provider and ask them to activate our ADSL connection.

My sister also kindly left us a Netgear ADSL modem/wireless router.  It’s not particularly modern, but all we really need is the ADSL modem part of the device.

IMG_1679

Our youngest son kindly gave me a powerful Netgear Nighthawk R7000 router as a 2016 Christmas present.  It doesn’t have the ADSL modem functionality my plan is to connect the two devices to create a combined powerful modem wireless router.   This is part of one item on my bucket list.

IMG_1678 The Netgear Nighthawk router with the Raspberry Pi on top.  You might recall I wrote about the Raspberry Pi during the winter of 2015 when we were cruising on the Llangollen Canal.

Whilst the Nighthawk is a powerful router I can make it even more powerful by replacing the standard Netgear firmware with open source software which will give me access to more functionality.  There are two options;  DD-WRT or Tomato.  I’ve decided the Tomato firmware aligns more with my requirements.  Replacing the firmware on any device carries the risk that you might “brick” it.  “Bricking” a device means you stuffed up the change in firmware making the device useless.  All it’s good for is being a brick!  I was so worried about bricking the Nighthawk I read the instructions three times before starting and then carefully referred to them during the process.

The standard Netgear firmware looks like this

Netgear

And Tomato on the Nighthawk looks like this

Tomato

So a completely different operating system.  Why did I want to change the firmware?  Well I want to install VPN (Virtual Private Network) software on the router.  The VPN will protect our privacy.  This is a whole new subject which I may write about in a subsequent post.

Marilyn I’d be like Canute if I attempted to convince the locals to change their approach to lawns.  You would think that people who lived in a very dry environment would cultivate hardy weeds.  We’re actually considering artificial turf!

Jennie,  I don’t know where Jan found the narrowboat…. but she knows how to sniff out a bargain!

Jaq we hope your boat mechanical issue have ended and your cruising only gets better.  Of course we are having withdrawal syndromes.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

A shriek and BWS

My sister came around this morning to check up on us visit us and see how we were settling in to our temporary accommodation.  After living in Western Australia for almost three decades she is as paranoid about lawns as her husband.  So it probably wasn’t surprising when, on arrival at the front door, after glancing down at the lawn, she gave a shriek .  There it was, a lone weed struggling to survive in a sea of manicured grass.   She promptly crouched and mercilessly grabbed its head before tearing it from the ground roots and all, thereby snuffing out a young life!

It’s a short life and cruel death for a lawn weed in Perth!

IMG_1676

The small dark spots in the above photo are where my brother in law ripped out earlier weeds in the fortnight before we arrived.  I guess I’m going to have to get paranoid about weeds.

Meanwhile Jan is suffering from BWS.  That’s not Beer, Wine & Spirits.  It’s Boaters Withdrawal Syndrome.  The condition became so acute she went and bought a narrowboat.  I know readers; we’re in the process of selling one and Jan goes out and buys a second boat.  It was delivered yesterday and it appeared to have an instant calming effect.


IMG_1675

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Why me lord??

Jan is talking divorce.   Almost everything is not going to plan and apparently it is “Jones luck”.  After applying for the phone line to be activated four days ago and being told by Consuela (in the Philippines) it would take 1-2 days, I phoned Telstra (that Australian company with a monopoly on the POTs {plain old telephone system]) to ask about progress.  Today Pablo informed me the application hadn’t been processed.  That meant spending another 20 minutes listening to the options (and up selling) whilst the money trickled out of the mobile phone account.  This time I was informed it would take 5-7 working days to activate the line.

Meanwhile, after giving us notice the tenant hasn’t moved out of our house.  Apparently he has nowhere to go and has decided to stay.  Moreover he hasn’t paid the last months rent telling the property manager to take it out of his bond money.  But the property manager doesn’t have the bond money, by law it gets deposited with the government rental tribunal.  In the meantime the council rates (tax) bill arrived.  The property manager didn’t pay it as he had no rent from the tenant.  The rates went unpaid and we have now incurred a financial penalty.

Someone doesn’t like me!

I’ve even received some bad coverage in the local press

pig In an effort to release some of my stress I went for another local walk.  This time it was through the linear park and lakes (actually ponds) which the houses back onto.

P1030991P1030992

Readers I can’t end on a negative note.  Back to the bucket list and my solar array project.  I’ve placed an order online to purchase an energy meter.  There are three components.  The first is a clamp which will be fitted around the main electrical supply cable to the house.  The second is a small transmitter which plugs into the clamp and transmits the data wirelessly to a hub.  The hub connects to a router using a data cable.  The electricity used in the house is sent to a website where we will be able to view usage by minutes, hour, day, week, etc.  The information can also be downloaded into a spreadsheet.  The purpose of doing this is to work out our average electrical consumption by hour of day.  From that I’ll be able to calculate the required size of the solar array I plan to have installed on the roof.

Monday, 29 May 2017

NET framework Problem

Well there has been a slight delay with the blog posts because Open Live Writer stopped working.  I tried reinstalling it without success and eventually resorted to completely erasing it off the laptop.  That didn’t work so I also searched the Registry removing any entries.  Sadly, when I reinstalled OLW it would only appear on the screen for a millisecond before disappearing.  Finally, tonight I worked out the problem.  OLW was incompatible with my version of Microsoft NET Framework.  Once I’d updated NET Framework OLW loaded without any issues (I hope).

Today I contacted Telstra to arrange for the house phone line to be activated.  The lovely young lady in the Philippines call centre wanted to upsell me an expensive bundled plan but I pleaded retiree poverty and managed to work her down to the basic plan.  Once we get our pensioners concession card I’ll get the cost down even further.

This morning my sister and husband offered to take us to Ellenbrook.  This is a relatively new suburb inland from the Indian Ocean and adjacent to the international Vines Golf Course.  The suburb didn’t exist when we were living in Perth 20 years ago.  Their son (our nephew) has recently built a home in the area and it was a good opportunity to have a look around. 

IMG_1674

Our nephew’s new house.  5kW solar array on the roof and a swimming pool at the rear.

The size of residential blocks of land has certainly compressed since I was a lad.  Our house had a large back yard with plenty of room for two young boys to play along with room for a veg garden.  The smallest blocks of land in Ellenbrook were approx 150m2 and our nephew’s house is on 550m2.  Many of the blocks are 330-350m2.  Build a sandard sized residential house on one of those and you can shake hands with your neighbour out any of the windows.  We’re looking for something larger, around 1000-1500m2.  They exist, but are scarce and obviously cost more.  My bucket list requires a workshop and Jan’s list includes a swimming pool so I was taken to look at a couple of 1400m2 blocks.  We want one that has a north facing elevation to ensure there will be maximum sun for the solar array (on the bucket list).

This next block is just under 1500m2 and on a corner, so only neighbours on two sides.  However it’s on what might become a busy corner and might be why it hasn’t already sold.  The asking price has dropped $30,000

IMG_1671

The next block was in a new subdivision (Annie’s Landing).  The block is a similar size and only has a neighbour on one side.  The other two sides are adjacent to parklands and a cycleway.

IMG_1672IMG_1673 As you can see, Perth is built on sand!

Hi Jo,  It seems strange to be in a standard sized 3 bedroom house after six years in a steel tube.  No doubt it will fill up when our Australian and UK possessions arrive.

Halfie Aldi is across most of Australia and are certainly providing stiff competition to the “Big Two” (Coles and Woolworths).  My sister had never been into an Aldi and commented about the lower prices.  We might have a convert!  Jan thought the range of products was smaller than the UK.

Marilyn there is a possible reunion in Wellington next March.  If it goes ahead I may just be able to arrange a meeting.

Geoff I still find your comments in my Blogger spam box.  Google must hate your ISP!

I apologise to our readers who have left comments which were delayed in being published.  For some reason Google didn’t send me the advisory email.  We’ve been rather busy and I’ve only just caught up with blog maintenance.  Who said retirement was relaxing   Smile

Saturday, 27 May 2017

As one is done another appears

It seems that as we solve one issue another appears.  An example of this would be our internet connection.  We’re currently using the small amount of data on our mobile phone but submitted a request for an ADSL connection to the house three days ago.  At the time we were informed the phone line to the house was active.  Today the ADSL provider sent us a text message telling us we were connected.  But we don’t have a connection.  It appears the telephone line may not be active!  The house has been unoccupied for several months so today we borrowed a stepladder to clean all the light fittings and ceiling mounted air conditioning outlets.  Jan also managed to move some money but we have to be careful as we currently only have one working card and can’t afford to have a machine swallow it!

My sister kindly let us use her car today which enabled us to visit the nearest Aldi for a large restock of the pantry.  Food spoils much quicker here which is why we need a big fridge.  Jan also has to remember not to throw stale bred out the window.  There are no local ducks!

I went for a local walk and took a few photos to show our UK readers what a typical Perth suburb looks like.

IMG_20170526_093119IMG_20170526_093216IMG_20170526_135601

Wide suburban roads, palm trees and blue sky.  It’s winter and the locals think it’s cold.  I’m wearing a Tshirt and shorts!

Jan thinks she might have found a ‘back door’ way to get a credit card.  Without one we can’t hire a car and Australian public transport is nothing like England’s.

There was a moment of nostalgia today whilst Jan was watching TV.  There was a scene involving  narrowboats and living on the Cut.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Early Start

Jetlag is still with us.  I awoke at 2.30am and never managed to get back to sleep.  Dawn was coming up when I wandered outside to take a few photos of our temporary home.  You will see in the following photos that we are struggling for room.

IMG_1660

Typical 3 bedroom West Australian bungalow

IMG_1661

West Australians are obsessive about their lawns.  My brother-in-law has been mowing these with an expensive reel mower to give them a bowling green finish.  When he heard I intended to cut the lawns with a rotary mower he promptly informed us he would continue to come around and mow them fortnightly (my little strategy has worked). 

IMG_1662

The formal lounge room

IMG_1663

Galley Kitchen

IMG_1664IMG_1665IMG_1666

Laundry

IMG_1670

Casual Room.  We are going to spend most of our time in here

IMG_1669

Pergola and backyard.

Full sized oven, double fridge, washing machine and large TV.  Plenty of gas and electricity with unlimited hot water.  We should manage until our effects arrive.

Hopefully the internet will be connected either tomorrow or Monday.  The electricity is now in our name, which means we will have an invoice with our name on it and this address.  That will enable us to apply for credit cars, seniors cards, etc.  We can’t hire a car without a credit card so plenty of exercise at the moment walking to the nearest supermarket!

Today our lovely niece kindly drove me to the car dealership which enabled me to do an initial check on available vehicles.  Despite having told me they had what I was looking for in stock…… they didn’t! <grrrr>.  Looks like there might be a two week wait for more stock to arrive.

Jan has been busy cleaning (the house has been empty for several months) and even managed to squeeze in some baking.

ABNB have been in contact to advise there have been a number of viewings of Waiouru.

Both of us were saddened to see the Manchester bombing on TV.  So many unnecessary and pointless deaths.  When can we expect to see the senior figures in ISIS blow themselves up to make a statement about their beliefs, rather than sending disillusioned and indoctrinated cannon fodder?  They will not win!