Saturday, 13 January 2018


I’m grateful to my new blog proof reader (thanks Marilyn) who has [yet to] volunteered to check my posts.  Jan has lost interest since we left Waiouru and I’m rather lazy when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuations.   I remember writing a essay only to have a member of the staff give me two A4 sheets covered in rows of commas along with instructions to insert them where appropriate.  So it’s Stralya rather than Stralia

One of our readers asked about Stralyan spiders and after searching Jan found the following poster.


Of course this is just a small sample.  Jan doesn’t spray them with the insect aerosol… she drowns them!  She has a particular dislike of the Huntsman.  I suppose it’s the eight eyes following you!  It would probably be better to not kill the Huntsman as it dines on flies, cockroaches and small lizards.  However you do need to be careful about the female Huntsman which is quite aggressive when carrying her young and will give you a venomous bite.  

When we last lived in Perth two decades ago flies were a big problem; mostly because our suburb had market gardens on its northern outskirt.  Animal dung and compost heaps were the problem.  Two things have happened in our absence.  The market gardens are now residential housing estates and the introduction of the dung beetle removed much of the animal waste issue.  It wasn’t until I backpacked through Egypt that I realised the ancient Egyptians revered the dung beetle as a god.  I’d probably do the same if it totally eliminated the flies.

So while Jan chases down and exterminates spiders I’ve been re-examining the Dyson vacuum cleaner.  I’ve now discovered two additional filters whilst the third (foam) filter has perished in storage and crumbles when touched.  Unfortunately Dyson stopped supporting our model in 2015 and no longer carries spare parts.  However eBay has come to our rescue and I was able to order a replacement set of filters for $40.

It’s 37C today so all outdoor work has been cancelled whilst we wait for the arrival of the cooler temperatures and rain from Cyclone Joyce which is battering the State further north.

Oh, Jan’s new fridge was delivered yesterday. The courier driver wouldn’t bring it into the house claiming he wasn’t allowed to do this in case it was damaged.  I suspect it was more a case of he was running late with his deliveries.  However we managed to squeeze it through the back door using my brother-in-law’s sack trolley.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Table, the Bread and the TV

Jan very kindly assisted me move the heavy Jarrah BBQ table to the back of the house and place it upside down on the assembly table.  I’m probably asking too much of a great grandmother, however I know the exercise will be good for her.  Once it was on the assembly table I disassembled and sanded the timber back.  This is the first time its been sanded since we bought the table 20 years ago.  With a little luck it will also be the last time for me!

Fortunately there were no ‘tricky’ sections requiring hand sanding which enabled me to complete the task in a day.  Then it was reassembled and given two coats of oil.


Meanwhile Jan had gone back inside (and away from the stifling heat) where she dragged the Aldi bread maker kicking and screaming into the galley kitchen.  Jan only uses the bread maker to kneed the dough.  If it’s used to bake bread the machine leaves a hole from the mixing paddle.  We’re having 'Lidl Scottish Baps’ for lunch.


I’ve been spending hours most evening attempting to get MythTV working on an old 386 pc.  I must have reinstalled the operating system two or three dozen times before realising the latest version of Linux wouldn’t recognise the TV capture cards, or if the pc did, it was intermittent.  Eventually I rolled back to an earlier version of Linux and the three capture cards were successfully recognised. BUT the cards would either report they had failed to record TV programs or simply not record.   After a week of pulling out my hair I realised the old 250GB hard drive I’d been using had an intermittent fault.  When I pulled it out of the computer I discovered there was a label on it with the word “Defective???” in my handwriting <Duh>.

Fitting another drive fixed that problem only for me to discover the capture cards were unable to obtain a signal for all the TV channels.  Being lazy, I first attempted to solve the problem by cutting 6 inches off the coaxial at the socket in the lounge room and refitting the plug.  That didn’t work, so I went up onto the roof and did the same at the antenna.  Actually the antenna looks like an old analogue aerial rather than digital.  Well that didn’t solve the problem either, so we’re stuck with a limited number of available channels.

However at least I have a working computer running MythTV which is able to simultaneously record six separate channels. 

The next step was configuring the electronic program guide (EPG).  Stralia is one of the few countries in the world where it’s difficult to obtain an electronic copy of the program guide.  Most providers broadcast it as part of their signal and it’s free.  To overcome this problem some clever people in Stralia have written a program that grabs and sorts the data from various sources before making it freely available over the internet.  It’s a separate program which the user needs to integrate with MythTV.  Well I managed to complete that yesterday.

Now I don’t want a second pc with it’s own screen, keyboard and mouse.  I want to be able to remotely access our new “MythTV box” from the main laptop.  I managed to do that today by installing and configuring “MythWeb”.  This gives me access to the TV box through the web browser.


All that is left is the problem of the missing TV channels and as we are NOT going to buy a new TV antenna for this house it will have to wait.  

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hours of Sanding

Our beautiful Rimu (NZ native timber) dining table was damaged in storage and I’ve been spending hours repairing it.  The hardest part has been the legs.  These are turned and as a result have to be hand sanded back to bare timber.

I made a small stand to hold the legs whilst they were varnished.


The leg on the left is awaiting its first coat of varnish and the one on the right a second coat.  Once I’ve completed this table all that’s left in the way of major refurbishment jobs is the underside and legs of the Jarrah BBQ table.

Research into identifying a suitable camper trailer for my planned outback trips continues.  One manufacturer looked very promising until they advised their two retail outlets are on the other side of the continent.  Transport costs would add another 25% to the total purchase cost ($2000+) which probably puts the trailer outside my price range.  I’m now considering purchasing a suitable used camper which I can modify to meet my needs.

Meanwhile Jan has started cross stitching again.  All her cross stitchers were damaged beyond repair whilst in storage but fortunately she kept the original patterns in a sealed plastic container.  Actually she was doubly clever because she had me scan and print a copy of her original patterns when she purchased them so they are in excellent condition.  Of course I’ve done the same thing again scanning and printing them on A3 paper.

There’s no sign of Jan’s new fridge, but then it’s probably coming from the other side of the continent by camel train.  Fortunately it’s not urgently required as we have the use of my sister’s old fridge.  This will become her beer and wine fridge once ours arrives.

Another thing I’m thinking of doing is removing the 3rd row of seats in the 4x4.  This would lower the cargo floor level thus providing more storage capacity.  I could also fit a 12V fridge slide in the back.  This would mean Jan could purchase frozen items secure in the knowledge they won’t start to defrost on the way home.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Jealous Male Camels

Male camels can get very jealous and possessive.  Particularly when it comes to the wandering eyes of their harem.  Now the last thing I want to do is have a jealous bull camel thundering into my campsite foaming at the mouth spitting ½ litre of gooey saliva because he has seen me showering in the open in front of his ladies.  So when Aldi advertised they had a cheap collapsible tent that would probably make a suitable shower tent we had to buy one.


It collapses into a disc about 700mm in diameter and when erected the tent floor can be removed.  I’ll make a combination peg/pole on which I can mount a shower rose.

The other newly identified maintenance task is repairing the splits in the top of the Camphorwood lined Teak Chest.  We purchased two whilst living in Singapore back in 1981.  One was given to our daughter for her ‘Glory Box’ and Jan has been using the other to store her linen and clothing.  The smell of the Camphorwood discourages insects.

I made the mistake back in 1982 of using our chest as a TV stand and the heat from the TV dried out the top causing two wide splits in the Teak.  After 35 years I finally decided to do something about the damage, so perhaps this isn’t a new job!.

The first step was to test clamp the top to ensure I could close the cracks.  Having satisfied myself the cracks could be closed, I worked PVA wood glue into the cracks using my finger and a feeler gauge.  Then the top was clamped horizontally and vertically. 


The split used to run from the edge of the top to the red arrow.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Don’t interfere with Darwin

Herbert Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” after reading Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory on natural selection.  Darwin phrased it as "Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations."  Sometimes I despair that modern society is interfering in an attempt to discredit Darwin’s theory.

Two days ago a letter from the USA was delivered to a house in Perth whose occupants consisted of 11 overseas ‘backpackers’.  The letter wasn’t addressed to any of them, but the nine occupants currently in the house decided to open it (an offence to open someone else's mail).  Inside they found a small package with a bolt of lightning symbol on the front of a sticker.  After removing the sticker they discovered a small piece of aluminium foil containing a white powder.  So they divided the powder into nine equal portions and snorted it.  The two absent occupants returned to the house a short time later to discovered the nine either unconscious or semi-conscious twitching, convulsing and hallucinating.  They promptly call the emergency services.  A third of the available ambulances in the city were used to take the nine to various hospitals.  Six were released the following day and were photographed by the local media laughing and joking; two remain in intensive care and one is in an induced coma.

Obviously they learned nothing from the event.  I’d like to think they will receive a bill for all the avoidable expenses.  Their medical insurance would probably be void…… But then they probably don’t have medical insurance.  Surely we need to start think whether we should be interfering in the process of natural selection?

Writing of strange life forms.  Jan took a photo of me and a former classmate when he visited yesterday.


I should mention both of us had been supping on sparkling non-alcoholic apple juice but somehow Jan managed to craft a photo in the best possible light! Winking smile

It was good of Doug to visit us during his trip to Perth.  We last met when he visited us on Waiouru whilst moored in Rugby.

Whilst I’m on the subject of Darwin and natural selection.  Yesterday evening I went for a walk through part of the nearby conservation park and came upon Skippy who had paid the price for a poor decision.


Somehow Skippy got herself on the wrong side of the fence and paid the ultimate price.  That’s one genetic line which will proceed no further.  There were good views to the east as the sun slowly started to set.


And finally an interesting house bordering the conservation park.


Each corner of the house is exactly the same which means all four sides are exact replicas.  I suspect it’s four houses in one built for an extended family.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

I did tell you!

Seen in the supermarket this morning


I’m far too sensible to carried away with all this New Year revelling.  Jan is very quick to point out we’ve only celebrated a New Year once and that was two weeks after we were married. 

I used to get woken by the sounding of horns or fireworks, fortunately deteriorating hearing has eliminated that problem.  However I do recall we were moored in Birmingham for the previous New Year and was woken by the rocking of the boat.  A couple of young male revellers had decided to untie our frozen mooring lines.  There I was at 1.30AM standing in bare feet on the icy towpath dressed only in my cotton PJ shorts attempting to retie frozen ropes.  Fortunately I was able to get a warming cuddle when I returned to bed (actually I think she attempted to fight me off)

Plans for 2018.  We’d like to sell our Adelaide house and build another.  I also need to buy and then modify, a cheap camper trailer for my first outback journey.  Jan has very sensibly decided she is not going to accompany me.

We hope your 2018 plans also come to fruition.