Monday, July 26, 2010

Oh Dear! "Modernisation" of literature strikes again.

In a move that will slash a wound deep into the heart of generations of children from the 40's to the 50's, Enid Blyton's works are about to have their language "modernised' by the publishers.

"Lashings of editing jolly bad for Blyton books

Phrases like "jolly japes" and "lashings of ginger beer" look set to vanish from children's vocabularies for good, with publishers announcing they are re-editing Enid Blyton's classic books.

The publishers of Blyton's children's books, such as the Famous Five series and Faraway Tree series, say they are erasing some words and phrases from the novels to replace them with modern versions.

Words and phrases reportedly getting the chop include "house mistress", which will be replaced with "teacher", "school tunic" which will be pasted over with "uniform" and "dirty tinkers", which now becomes "travellers".

But children's literature experts say it is tragic that these expressions could be lost forever.

Children's Book Council president Maj Kirkland told ABC Radio that the language in Enid Blyton's books is unique and loved by children. ..."

Oh! What a crying shame!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cold, damp and foggy ...

Rhonda's on a morning shift and its Saturday morning as well, so she knows the ward will be short-staffed as the O/S students who are doing time to become credentialled in Australia will probably not turn up.

The fact that they are from tropical climates, its -2C, damp and foggy will add to that belief - they'll pull their doonas over their heads, switch of the alarm and go back to sleep.  Rhonda will round them up from their quarters later in the morning and they had better not be expecting breakfast when they do arrive!

Weather has been most unusual to what we've experienced over the past two decades of drought.  This July has been quite moist - almost 75mm of rain locally - which the farmers are loving as its keeping their fields moist and green and growing good sillage fodder.

I woke Rhonda at 4.45am with a cup of tea and it was already -1C under our pergola area and a heavy fog was moving in.  After she was up and moving I went back to bed (maybe those students are onto something LOL!) and slept until 10am.

When I woke up there was still a lot of fog around so I grabbed a few snaps:

Rhonda took my truck this morning as it needs a run - neighbours would have appreciated that beast starting up and choking down to idle speed at 5.45 am but they are all young and it is 'payback' for their noisy 1am arrival home from the pub this morning!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ducks on the pond .... again

Over the years our town pond has become home to a number of domestic ducks that have either escaped from their pens, or, been deliberately released onto the pond. The pond is part of the Yass River and is formed by a low level concrete crossing at one end and a 2 metre high wall which forms an overflow weir at the other end.

The ducks have been adopted by many of the regular visitors and dog walkers along the pond pathways and are fed liberal amounts of bread - and the odd hot chip I suspect.

Despite the unbelievable amount of trash that the heavy rains have flushed down the town storm drains into Chinaman's Creek and on into the Yass River our ducks have returned to the pond after the rain cleared.

It is truly amazing to see the amount of trash - mainly take away containers - that finds it way through the storm drains. We do have "Trash Traps" - large rope nets placed over the direct dtorm water inflow points, however, further up stream where Chinaman's creek enters the system there are no such "Trash Traps" in place.

For at least a decade I have been a strong advocate of redeveloping Chinaman's Creek into a large covered drainages system that opens into a series of stepped shallow ponds supporting wetland plants and reeds that would act as a filter for this trash and prevent much of it from entering the Yass River pond area.

Letter to Council and to the local Tribune newspaper coming up - we need additional "Trash Traps" installed along Chinaman's Creek.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It Rained and it Rained and then it rained some more ...

We took a few days off and headed up to Wyangala for some R 'n R - no phones, no TV, no computers, no radios - just pure peace and quiet, real bliss.

And it Rained!

Tuesday was not too bad - just some heavy showers came in.  I took this image during a short break in the rain:

This is the normal view of the same angle:

During Tuesday night a southerly gale hit with rain and high winds coming straight off the southern snow fields - it bucketed down and we got over 65mm (2+ inches in the old scale) during Tuesday night.

 During all of this a little old lady and her dog were trying to survive in a tent. She was on a return trip from Townsville, visiting her daughter and new No. 4 grandson in Canberra and stopped at the campsites for a few days.

That's her little tent that she and her 12 year old dog slept in during the night.  Next day she told us that she thought she was going to end up like Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" and take of airborne, dog and all, during the night.

Footnote: 150klms away we had 35mm of snow overnight. Tonights local temps are forecast at -3C and going up to a top of 10C tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Taking risks as children

Thank you John Gill (these “Johns” can be confusing, ehhh?) for your comments on the bike riding schoolchildren -  - that I previously posted.

I know my comments are made in ignorance of the 'full facts' - there is always more to be said from both sides – and I’m sure you garnered more information from the radio talkback.

I refer to the comment in the original report I published:

"Oliver and Gillian Schonrock allow their eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son to cycle the one mile (1.5 kilometre) journey to school on their own. The couple taught their children a route on pavements through the backstreets of the London suburb of Dulwich to teach them independence and self-confidence."

Just how risky is Dulwich these days, anyway – I still remember it as a quiet, neatly established urban area with plenty of cycle pavements that were well frequented?

The parents took the time to teach their children the ride route.

It was only a mile (1.5klm)?

Please tell me, has the H and S environment swung so far to the right that bike riding children have replaced the fear of damage from conkers?

I am aware that due vigilance and care needs to be exercised, especially where children are concerned, however, the parents seem to have that responsibility well in hand. I love to see independence fostered in our young and I believe that some risks are well worth taking.

I repeat - these children were in their own time and not in school time. Other than riding to school and home I would suggest it is none of the school/teachers business and falls solely within the precinct of parental responsibility and appropriate decision making.

At age 8 I was riding a BSA Bantam motorcycle, hunting with a .22 bolt action single shot rifle and riding in the back of a trailer being towed by a tractor as we gatherered fruit from the pick-up points in an orchard!

What do we do next? Perhaps we should stop the Duke of Edinburgh Awards for venture scouts, or, maybe, ban all school excursions?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I have just this minute finished reading this article on ABC Online (Aust).

Parents under fire for letting kids cycle to school

By Rachael Brown

"Teachers and parents have criticised a British couple who allow their children to go to school unsupervised.

Oliver and Gillian Schonrock allow their eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son to cycle the one mile (1.5 kilometre) journey to school on their own. The couple taught their children a route on pavements through the backstreets of the London suburb of Dulwich to teach them independence and self-confidence.

But parents and teachers at the children's junior school say it is irresponsible and dangerous, and the school has told the couple it can refer the matter to social services.

London mayor Boris Johnson has slammed the health and safely rule as "barmy", writing in a newspaper column that he commends the Schonrocks for "taking the sword of common sense to the great, bloated encephalopathic sacred cow of elf [sic] and safety".
The world is going mad with this cloistered, over-protective attitude - let the kids ride, after all, they are the parents responsibility until they get to school and after they leave school for the day!

Modern planning has a lot to answer for

It was so cold here we ducked down to Batemans Bay on the coast for the day and an overnight stay.  Didn't really get away from the rain but it was more temperate.

There's a new shopping centre and re-built car park down there. When the car park was re-aligned the street lights were installed during construction. When it came time to put the footpaths in to access crossings, parking fee machines, or, to merely push a shopping trolley along, this was the result!

Still, it was nice to get some sea air for a change!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Growing up, slowly but surely!

The four young men pictured in the post were myself, extreme left, and my three best friends, Mick (his mother called him ‘Michael’ and always looked sharply at me when I referred to him as “Mick”), Kevin and Peter.

Me you know most about.

Mick was first a railway guard then joined the ACT Police and was lead Police Motor Cycle Rider for the Governor General’s official escort until one too many falls during general duties on our ACT icy winter roads left him with crippling back injuries. Mick now resides on the north coast of NSW looking after his grandkids, doing good works and assisting his daughter and son-in-law to run their family restaurant.

Kevin worked all his life in the electronics industry in Sydney until he retired and moved to Hawkes Nest NSW to retire and where he loves playing his golf.

Peter became apprenticed as a boilermaker at garden island dockyards and worked as a boilermaker until he retired and moved to Grenfell NSW – the home town of Australia’s renowned poet, Henry Lawson - where Peter is now a respected member of the local Probus Association.

We were four of the closest friends and even girlfriends and future wives could not break that bond – tho’ I’m certain some parents would liked to have done so.

To us, growing up was bush, creeks, gullies where we built ‘hides’ to avoid other adolescent groups. One of our most famous was in a time of a ‘power struggle’ over territory – a huge defunct quarry – where we built dugouts and fortifications around the top of a 10 metre cliff to protect ourselves from the dreaded “Princes Street Gang”! It also commanded access to the short cut through the quarry to the Lane Cove River and the prized ‘swimming hole’ at Magdala Road.

We had catapults, spears and bows and arrows in our armoury as well as rocks and other weapons such as cudgels for ‘close combat’. We had also roped-in some of our sisters and brothers and other 'hangers on' to reinforce our position.

The day arrived when the Princes Street Gang (Yes! another group of 12 year olds) mounted their assault on our fortifications. The battle raged for what seemed like hours as we repelled assault after assault as they clambered up the slope to where we commanded the high ground. (Why they never tried flanking us along the ridgeline I have never understood until this day!) We were almost over-run and running short of armaments when someone fired off an arrow which lodged in the thigh of one of the Princes Street Gang who collapsed screaming in the midst of the melee.

I stood up and called a halt and made our lot cease and hostilities and went to the stricken lad. It was only a flesh wound but I pulled out the ‘arrow’ (a sharp stick) and bandaged his leg with my handkerchief.

A “Truce” was formally declared and we all agreed that it was too hot to continue fighting, so after a short discussion it was agreed we’d all go down the river for a swim!

Ain’t kid’s life grand – who would let their nearest and most precious engage in those activities these days?

Frosts in the backyard

It's Sunday morning here and Rhonda was rostered off for today and tomorrow so she got a 'sleep-in' for a change - no 4.45am getting up and making her a cup of coffee before she headed off to the shower before preparing for her 90klm drive to the hospital,

We knew it was going to be cold last night - could feel winter's 'bone-chilling' effects and a -5C was forecast.

Well, we slept under the doona snug and warm until Denny-the-Dog came down to the bedroom at 9.00am and told us that it might be OK for us guys but he really needed to "GOooooo!"

When I took him out the sun was already on its way up but the yard was still covered in frost even at that hour!

Thought it had been cold - even the garden gnomes had a frosty beard!

Aldi comes to town .... at last!

We have a new player in the supermarket stakes! 

Aldi had long purchased a site next to the council chambers and just 100 metres down the road from Woolworths Supermarket, however, construction ground to a halt 'cos of "heritage concerns" for the site they wanted to occupy when the foundations of an original flour mill were excavated and because of concerns of damage to an existing historically significant (tho' long defunct) adjoining structure.

Didn't matter that immediately prior to their purchase of the site it had been used as a farm produce supply store and a bulk fuel supply depot. Suddenly there were objections from all quarters. It must have been very threatening to Woolworths almost complete monopoly of grocery supermarkets. in our town - there is an IGA/Franklins on the Northern side of town, several klms away.

Suddenly, this week, everything changed and on the concrete floor slab that had been previously poured some time ago the walls started to go up this week!

This is a view to the rear of the site that shows an historic flour mill storehouse site that had fallen into disuse and disrepair that suddenly become a point of interest for the historical society (wonder who was 'urging' them on?).

I had had the occassion to refute the viability for restoration of the old mill storehouse in the local press by pointing out that a survey I had made of the mill on behalf of the local council while I was employed by that council had revealed it was in an advanced state of disrepair and would cost a fortune to make it fit for any useable general purpose and a king's ransom to make it viable for human occupation - the historical society wanted it turned into a multi-story museum of local history - a use purpose which our council simply did not have the $1M (+) to put into restorative work when we already had more pressing civil works needing attention.

Nor was there any sign of a cashed-up benefactor on the horizon!

Apparently Aldi have now agreed to preserve within their floor area a view of the foundations of the very first commercial flour mill built in Yass that were uncovered during the original excavations of the floor area. This has appeased the objectors who were also under pressure from townspeople who wanted a second supermarket in the central area of town.

So it's a case of "Up!" "Up! and away!" for Aldi and we will have another supermarket operating by December, complete with its own 'off main-street' dedicated parking and drive-thru parcel pick up point at the rear!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More growing Up Days and some background

From my thread, “Growing up days” you may begin to suspect that I was a bit of a wild boy in my younger days. When my mates would tell their parents that they were going swimming, fishing, or camping the inevitable question from them was (nearly) always “Is John going as well?”

Trouble just seemed to find me! LOL!

I have no regrets, however, as I led a full life growing up and had some wonderful mates. The image below was taken at the wedding of my best mate and all the guys in it were all part of a very best friends group and we remain so today, even if geographically separated.

(That's me on the far left at my mate's wedding and those were the group that were known as the 'Four Horseman')

I was the one who would always be ready to lend a hand – like the time I called on Kevin with the intention of going out on the town. He was stuck concreting for his Dad (and making heavy weather of it too) so I just jumped in and gave him a hand. We soon had the job done and were able to head out.

(I'm on the Mixer, Kevin's Anglia is partly obscured and the cream car is my Vauxhall Velox)

Sometimes I would just take off for a month or so – go fishing – or borrow a shack near the water and do very little but lie in the sun. I was every mother’s worry as a bad example for her boys! Me? I was just finding my way in the world and along the way found some nice companions.

This is the guy who matured to become a top Mental Health Nurse and a specialist Occupational Health practitioner, pictured here in my capacity as Chairperson of the South Eastern Risk Management Committee for south east NSW councils and a leading Safety Officer in Local Government construction work – ensuring that roads, bridges, water treatment plants, water supply pipelines, etc were all built safely and with minimal harm to the workforce.

All my workers knew me as being tough but fair and if they did the right thing by me I did the right thing by them and there was no task that I asked them to undertake that I was not prepared to do myself – be it bridge repairs, repairing busted water mains, operating heavy machinery. My ID photo reveals a jutting chin an fixed determination and that tinge of Welsh red hair that matched my temperament.

Of course, it was not always smooth sailing and I rubbed many contractors and sub-contractors the wrong way who wanted to ‘cut safety corners’ and this often ended up with some undesired consequences – like the one who slashed my arm in a pub when I told him he was finished and not to come back to the job!

Hard man?  Narhhhh!  I was a big softie who just loved playing in the water at the beach with my grandsons.

Guess that’s why I worked until I was 68 – 51 years from the day I started – ‘cos I always loved what I was doing and every challenge was a new mountain to climb!

Water Tanker - v - Concrete Truck

Further to John Gill’s account of the water tanker driver and the fence - - I add an account of my own experience.

We have a new estate going in about 2klms up the hill and have put up with months of percussive rock hammering as they change the face of the slope.

A few weeks back a concrete agitator truck came down the hill and pulled up at a storm water inlet drain opposite our place where the driver proceeded to empty the agitator of its concrete sullage down the drain.

We walked over and I told him he was not allowed to do that as it was storm water pollution and that drain ran to the river where there was a large amount of local wild fowl and other wild life living down there that the town folk cared for. He told me in no uncertain terms that he WAS going to dump his sullage and was also going to wash out the agitator and empty that down the drain as well and that he did not give a 'flying F' about any wildlife.

I walked around to the cabin of his truck and, as luck would have it, there was a large bunch of keys in the ignition- far more than truck keys. I removed those and went back to where he was pumping out. I said to him:

"And, when you are finished, you might haveto go fishing for these!" Showed him his keys and threw them towards him but he missed catching them as they slipped down the 2 metre deep S/W inlet.

He went off his peanut and began calling the police while he tried to shut down the agitor and turn off his water pump. We merely walked back across the road to home.

Later the police arrived at home and asked me about throwing his keys down the drain. I denied any knowledge of them and suggested that he may have dropped them down the drain himself when washing out his sullage - after all, it is illegal isn't it officer to leave keys unattended in the ignition of a vehicle and no responsible commercial driver would do that, would they?

I asked the police what action they were going to take about his environmental vandalism. The police left.

The agitator truck remained there overnight until a spare set of keys for it could be fetched the following day from the depot in Goulburn, 84klms away.

They ARE amazing, tho’, aren’t they?