I’ve made my bed …


Saturday, 30 March, five days to go. I bought a King Single sized bed and mattress today, for delivery to my new house next Friday so that I can sleep for the first weekend without worrying about the rest of my furniture. That’s all I need. I’ve got a new King Single fitted sheet, and my trusty feather doona and my own pillows. That’s all I need. Bliss!

The “Shed of Beds” missed out on my purchase – I patronised a local shop at Ocean Keys shopping area. Crumbs, I was the only customer. How do they stay in business?

I took the opportunity to drive slowly around the area, getting the feel for the streets. I still rejoice in my decision to buy that particular house. No doubts, no hesitations. Love at first sight. It sounds ridiculous, but it ticks all the boxes, as if I’ve fallen into the place I’ve always wanted. I could wish for a slightly larger block, so I could have a pool, but I reckon a spa will do just as well, one day.

Then I drove the 1.5Km to the ocean front at Jindalee. Beeeyoootiful day, and the ocean and beach looked very inviting. I actually went down the 78 steps to the sand and back up again. That will be a goal – do that without stopping for breathers. The beach looked too prone to rips, though, so I didn’t try to go in.

There’s a terrific Chippy’s Fish Cafe there, too. Bit pricey, but lovely menu – Italian as well as seafood. I think I’ll be a regular.

So with the warm, autumn weather and bright sunshine, a nice day. Five days to go!


The Hammer Fell!


Blue Wren

Bastards. Yesterday (Wednesday) I had to get out of the caravan park two days early. That’s $140 wasted.

About 9.30am the boss man came to the door and said “Mate, I’ve had several people complain about your dog barking. She’s got to go.”

Several people? Well, I just don’t believe him. Everyone who saw her either smiled and wanted to pat her or stopped to chat. Three people actually brought me food for her. The only time she barked was when I went to the showers — single barks, woofs actually, spaced about 5-10 secs apart. “Dad, where are you? Why have you left me?” This was only after 8am. I was only away for about 10-15 mins and I came out when I could, to let her see me. For 99% of the day and night she was completely silent.

But I suspect he just didn’t want my dog in the park, even though they advertise as dog friendly and they’d taken my booking and taken my money in advance. There were other dogs there, including a German Shepherd that wandered around without a leash and a yappy little silky terrier that barked like mad at Minnie whenever its owner took it past. Minnie didn’t respond.

So this was a blow to the guts. I considered pleading to stay one more night but I was too worried and upset, so I packed up and headed out as soon as I could, about 11am. I left the key in the door to the cabin and told the cleaner I was going. Cleaner? Only when cabins are vacated. I found a bag of the previous occupants’ rubbish in the cabin when I arrived, dammit!

My sister had previously offered to put me up but I’d resisted because she’s not well and I didn’t want to impose Minnie on her. But she said it would be OK, so I took her up on the offer and came back to Duncraig. What a relief it feels. That caravan park stay turned out to be awful. I had to be constantly alert to any problems and that meant I had to stay at the cabin most of the time. I was bored!

And what a cruddy cabin! This park is supposed to be 4 star, but it’s not, in my opinion. The shower block was clean, but old. The cabin was old, 1980s vintage, and grubby and worn out, with rough timber edges and peeling fake wood grain. No hot water, no microwave oven, just an old electric stove. No aircon, of course, just a fan. No linen or pillows supplied – luckily I needed new stuff so I bought my own. And hard, incredibly uncomfortable stackable plastic chairs. I had to buy a folding camp chair.

Another couple showed me their cabin – it was anew one and it was far better than mine – it had an en-suite bathroom, a separate bedroom and full cooking facilities, including hot water. It was built like a big modern caravan, in other words. $88 a night, linen supplied.

I got talking to the couple in the cabin and later she brought me cooked food, for me! Savoury scrambled eggs and buttered bread. Wow. I must look needy 😉 But it was very kind and I thanked her profusely.

So all in all, another rough week. Thank goodness I’m back near my new place and in comfort. I must admit, I’m nervous again at the moment because before I realised it, Minnie had started digging a pit in my sister’s flower bed to lie in. Uh oh! I’ll fix it, I’ll fix it, don’t fret!


I took the slow road back to Perth yesterday, through the Ludlow Tuart Forest near Busselton, for example. I love that drive.

Then into Bunbury to have a quick look, and what a modern city it’s become, full of luxo looking houses and apartments. The traffic was a bit heavy so I didn’t stay.

Then through Australind and Eaton, along the estuary. Again, very developed now compared to over 10 years ago when I last saw it. A bright sparkling autumn day made it nicer.

Then up the Old Coast Road through Mandurah and near to Rockingham. Wow, the roads have been developed since I last saw them, more than 10 years ago. Heavy traffiic spoils it, though, especially after Kwinana. Too many heavy vehicles for my liking. Nose to tail traffic nearly all the time. And traffic lights!! Endless stopping, no synchronisation at all. Just get moving and you have to stop, over and over again.

So you have the choice – take the Forrest Highway and Kwinana Freeway and get a smooth flow, but a totally boring drive, nothing to see. Or put up with congestion. At least I know, now.


Coming up Leach Highway and West Coast Highway, I got to Trigg about 3.30pm with time to spare, so I took Minnie to an old familiar place, the oval near the North Beach Rugby Club where I used to take her all the time. It’s nice soft lawn and shady. I could tell she was a bit stressed (lots of panting) and when I got her out, she very quickly had a pee and drank all the water I gave her. Unfortunately, she fell off the ramp as I got her down and landed on her side, but after lying there for a few minutes, she got up, with a deal of difficulty, and walked to the grass.

Then when I tried to get her back up the ramp about half an hour later, she fell off again. She broke a toenail this time. She was reluctant to have another try, but I had no choice and had to pull and push her up. We got there.

Only two more ramps, Minnie: once into the car from here, then the final egress at your new and final home, and mine.


One thing I’ll have to do first thing is put some rubber or plastic sheeting (blue tarps) down over the white quartz leading to the rear lawn area at the new house. There are stepping slabs in it, but even I find them a bit far apart and hard to negotiate. The quartz is hard and sharp.


The settlement agent has been here this morning and I’ve signed the required documents and been given notice of the amount to be paid on Tuesday. The termite inspection was clear/OK, so it only remains to do a final purchaser’s inspection next week some time. I’ve told Barry that I won’t make any fuss. I know full well how stressful it is to move, so I won’t hassle the previous owners over anything trivial. I wasn’t even aware until now that I did have the right to object to anything. This is new since I last made a purchase in 1986. The process has become much more legalistic. What a surprise.

Minnie, Minnie …

I’m on edge. Minnie is dead quiet 99% of the time, but she likes to know where I am and gives single barks if she can’t see me. When I go to the shower block, she can’t seem to realise that I’m only 50m away and out of sight. She’s quiet for the first 5 mins but then starts barking.

As I came out this morning after my shower, the park manageress came up and said someone has complained. I said I’m doing my best and she seemed sympathetic, but what else can I do? As I said, 99% of the time she’s silent. I could easily complain about other people too, as I wrote yesterday. I’m very nervous.

Barry called this morning and due to next Monday being a public holiday, I may have to come up to Perth on Tuesday to get a bank cheque to pay for the house. But I’ll be back at the farm then, so Minnie will be OK. I go back there this Friday, Good Friday. It will be good to get out of this place.

5pm: Aaaah. I’ve bought a steel framed canvas director’s chair to sit at my wobbly plastic table. The plastic stacking chairs were incredibly uncomfortable, digging into my thighs. Now I can work in some comfort.

It’s looking very cloudy outside. I hope it rains, but I hope it doesn’t thunder. Minnie can’t bear thunder and I obviously can’t bring her inside.

Gimme some peace!


Oh, the noise! This place is bedlam. There seems to be a Harley Davidson convention in the street outside the park at the moment. For the past half hour it’s been loud motorbike engines, non stop. It’s still going on.  (Later: it went on for another two hours.)

If it’s not that, it’s the lawn mower. Or loud 4WD diesel engines as people move around. Or an angle grinder somewhere, incessantly grinding. Or guys doing burnouts on nearby streets. Or loud conversations from nearby caravans. Or power sawing at the cabin building site (they’ve stopped on Sunday, thank goodness). Quiet!!!

Found it


I found the DVR remote control. It was in one of my many plastic bags, but out of sight under my medicine box. I knew I’d brought it. Now I can attack the nearly 60 programs on the hard drive that I always meant to get around to watching …  I started pruning today, watched a few and deleted about 10.

I must say, from the days of crappy, almost unwatchable analogue TV in hotel and motel rooms, this cabin is not bad. It’s got a TEAC 19″ LCD with a DVD player in it, receiving the digital channels, so the quality is OK. If I bought a long cable, I could actually connect the antenna to my DVR and watch in HD on my own monitor. If I could be bothered, which I can’t. Similarly, if I bought a DVD movie I could watch it. Is there any movie that grabs me? Nah.


This has been a trouble free day, thank goodness. I’ve been out to buy food, beer and the papers, and had a good nap. Stopped off at the pub nearby, sat outside in the fading light to drink it and it’s very nice. A middy was $3 in Happy Hour, which is OK.

I also went to the dog beach to check it out and actually waded into the water up to my knees for a while. That’s the first time for several years I’ve been into the ocean, for various reasons. It felt good. Next step is to take Minnie there. I’m not sure if she’ll be able to walk in the sand.

Minnie accepts me going out in the car without fuss (i.e. she doesn’t bark). But when I walk to the shower block here, even though it’s only 50m away, I can’t seem to get her to accept that I’m only going out of sight. She gets agitated and I can hear her barking when I’m in the shower or toilet. Problem.

Only one of the shower stalls has a bar on the wall for someone like me who’s prone to slipping and falling (but I haven’t). But the water pressure is so bad in that stall as to be almost unusable. It just falls out of the shower head which is almost flush with the tiles. Terrific. I can’t use it. That’ll go into my letter of complaint.

And still they come

My Dog, the shocks still keep coming. I was sitting at my table this morning and the woman I made the booking with last week came to the door. She said she must have my mobile number wrong because she’d been trying to ring me and couldn’t get me.

She said she had made a mistake taking my booking because dogs are not allowed in cabins, and did I have somewhere else I could go, any friends in the area? I said No! I came here because I’ve had to move out of my friend’s place at Margaret River. This is why I’m here. I have nowhere else to go.

She sucked her teeth and reiterated that dogs are not allowed in cabins. I said, she’s not in the cabin and never will be, there’s no way she can get up the steps. With that, she relented.

But dammit, they’ve taken my money for the full eight nights. They knew last week I had a dog. It’s too late to back out now. I’ll stand my ground on this – I have a contract and I’d be prepared to see a solicitor if they forced the issue, with the idea of damages. I hope that’s the last I’ll hear of it, but I can’t take many more of these shocks. It left me trembling.

For once, I’m happy that Vodafone reception was so poor at Alan’s farm. That’s probably why she couldn’t contact me. Thank goodness.

4pm: This place is going to get a letter from me after I leave! A while ago a bloke (park owner?) was operating a pump switch near me and when he got up, he said “Hey mate. Are you picking up your dog poo?”  I said yes, because I had, a couple of hours earlier. “Well, there’s some here”, and he gestured in a brusque way.  I said “OK, sorry, I hadn’t realised.” I wanted to add, “There’s no need to be so curt about it!” He was ordering me about. I’m the bloody paying customer. How about a bit of respect, mate?

I am not liking this place. It’s far too crowded. I can’t get my car into my carport easily, there’s no room to turn. The noise is incessant from a cabin building site – drop sawing every ten seconds all day today. Power lawnmowing noise. And I hear every conversation from the too close caravans. The showers are 1970s vintage, clean but small, utterly basic and old. The plastic table and chairs wobble around when I use them. Four star? Must be joking.

On the road again


Caravan of ships (C) PJ Croft 2012

Here I am in Busselton now, in a caravan park near the beach front. I’m in a cabin, paying $70 a night, and although it’s adequate, it’s pretty low quality. Everything is old, scratched, stained. Clean, but hardly 4-star, which is what they claim. Cheap plastic chairs, very uncomfortable. I’ll have to buy a cushion, I think.

They were going to charge me $14 a night for linen too. Kerrrumbs, only a few nights and you’ve paid for a new sheet set. I needed to buy new sheets anyway, so I bought a new set of very nice quality in QB size (to suit my bed) for $69 at Target. I also found a very nice QB quilt cover marked down to half price at $49.75, so I bought that too. It included two pillow cases, so with the sheet set, that’s four. All 800 thread count sateen. I bought two pillows too.

Minnie seems to have settled down OK. She’s lying on her cushions on a concrete car port and I’ve had to keep her on the long wire leash. She’s been quiet so far. There seems to be enough  movement and people around to keep her stimulated. I’m worried that she’ll bark, but she hasn’t in the past 6 hours or so.

I got another shock today. I chose this park because they take dogs, right? I talked about her to the woman last week when I made the booking, so they took my booking for a cabin knowing I have a dog.

But today when I arrived and went to register and pay, it was a different woman and she said, “Oh. No. No dogs are allowed in cabins.” What??!! I explained that I’d pre-arranged this and she relented, but I was very nervous for a while, because I could see the notice up on the wall, “No dogs in cabins”. I explained that there’s no way  Minnie will be in  the cabin – she can’t get up the steps. I’m told the gardener is a bit of a policeman, so I’m a bit worried, but they took my money, so they’ve made a contract. The people across the way are dog lovers anyway, so it should be OK.  But there goes another assumption again – I assumed it would be OK. I hope so.

Couldn’t ask for nicer weather, anyway. Very still, cool, but not cold. Nice.


For the first time on the “trip”, I’ve got my Panasonic HD Video Recorder out and set up feeding my 19″ LCD screen. But I can’t find the remote! I know I brought it, I’ve seen it – it must be in the car somewhere, but at this moment, I can’t find it. The button controls are useless on the machine itself – it needs the remote. I thought, OK, I’ll buy a cheap multi-brand remote at Jaycar in the main street. Nope, they don’t sell any. At least there’s a Teac 19″ LCD TV in the cabin and it’s digital reception, so I have a good choice of programs. Good.

PS: I only listed driving in Malaysia once yesterday, but I did it twice. The first time was in 1986 with  a friend who was a biologist and excellent photographer, so we went right into the jungle in search of insects and plants. That was such a great trip that I did it again in about 1991, on my own that time, but driving myself in a hire car.

Malaysia is a much underrated country. I love it. It’s mostly English speaking from colonial days, very British in some areas (Cameron Highlands, Penang) and full of interesting places to go. KL is like Singapore used to be in the 70s, but maybe a bit better. Great shopping, great food, and with the A$ equal to about M$3.30, you can afford to stay in great hotels too. Just like Singapore used to be. I could easily live in Penang. Much like Bali …

More on yesterday


Trigg beach (C) PJ Croft 2012

OK, 8.0 litres per 100Km = 35.31 mpg. Pretty good for a 3.5 litre V6 at nearly 100Km/h. For some reason on the way back it stuck at 8.6 l/100Km = 32.8 mpg – still very good.

And the cost for the trip? Going up was 276Km at 154.9c/l, so 2.76 x 8 = 22.08 litres = $34.20.

Coming back, 276Km at 134.9 c/l (Perth price) = 23.76 litres = $32.01.


Thoughts on the drive:

* What a difference dual lane dual carriageway makes. So much safer, so much easier to drive. You never have to worry about overtaking or being overtaken.

* I thought the standard of other drivers was quite good. Good lane discipline, good use of indicators and few serious speeders.

* Although the road is great, there are very few places to pull over and stop closer to Perth. Down nearer Bunbury and Busselton it’s not bad, but there are almost no stopping places north of Mandurah, unless you pull right off one of the Kwinana Freeway exits. I think a couple of service stops are planned. They’re needed.

* There are some small parking places, but by the time I’ve noticed the blue P sign, I’d have to brake hard to pull in. There should be more warning, 300 – 500m back.

* It’s a rude shock when you get back to single lane single carriageway after Busselton. Maybe my car is a bit old (2001 model), but I’m being thrown around by the bumpiness of the Bussell Highway, and Caves Road is terrible.


Also, thinking about driving experience yesterday. In my time (48 years licenced) so far:

* I’ve driven across Australia and back twice. The first time was as far as Brisbane, via Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney cities. The second time was as far as Rockhampton, on my own, and return.

* I’ve driven a hire car all around Cairns and Port Douglas, the Atherton Tablelands and down as far as Mission Beach. Then I drove a camper van from Cairns to Brisbane, again solo.

* I’ve driven the west coast of USA from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon through Death Valley to San Francisco, driven in SF itself, down to Silicon Valley and back, then from SF up to Seattle and around the Olympic peninsula. All solo (meaning I did all the driving) and on the wrong side of the road.

* I’ve driven in Bali twice on motorbikes, including solo up to Kintamani and back to Kuta.

* I’ve driven in Malaysia, from KL to Cameron Highlands, across the country to the east coast and back to KL. That was defensive driving, with a capital D. Only one rule: expect the other guy to do the wrong thing! Passing on a blind corner? No problem for them.

* I’ve acted as navigator to Geoff W. driving from London across the Channel, up through Denmark, Sweden and Norway to Bergen and back to London. Wrong side of the road again.

* I’ve driven myself solo from London across to Calais, then across France, Switzerland to Austria, also on the wrong side of the road, and back to London again, .

* I’ve driven solo from Cambridge to Edinburgh, then to Dornie in Scotland, then back to Edinburgh, all solo. I reckon the drive from York to Edinburgh was tougher than yesterday, being all day in rain and fog and on motorways, then having to negotiate inner city streets to find my hotel and a parking spot. That was tiring and fraught, but satisfying and trouble free.

All accident free! So yesterday was an absolute breeze by comparison. Don’t you worry about me. I’m experienced. In fact, I’m finding that the more driving I’ve been doing in this past couple of weeks, the easier it’s getting, like old times.

I’ve been driving for 48 years now, and I’ve never had an accident. I’ve had only two minor traffiic pings (one for backing into a parked car, one for doing 50Km/h in a school zone at 3.50pm). I’ve never had a speeding fine and only two parking tickets in all that time.


Trigg beach 2 (C) PJ Croft 2012

Nearly time to move up to Busso, as they call it here. I’ll be in a cabin in a caravan park right on the beachfront for eight days until Good Friday. Right next to the cemetery! Is it an omen? The pub is next door to that. Uh oh.

Along the beach front is a dog beach with a wooden ramp that I reckon Minnie will be able to handle, and the sea is very gentle too. I wonder if I’ll be able to coax her in? She finds walking quite painful now but she’ll do it if she wants to.

I forgot to mention – last Friday I walked to Alan’s gate at the road, about 200m. I was resting there and looked around and she’d followed me, parking herself under a peppermint tree about 25m back. She’s a good dog. I reckon she’s really enjoying it here.

What a good day!

Monday 18 March – a good day. First, Oh Ye of Little Faith, O Ye Doubters. Thanks for your concern, but don’t you worry about me. Margaret River to Perth and back in one day? Easy. Piece of cake. Great drive. No trouble at all. (More on this tomorrow.)

I left Alan’s farm at 0630 in fog and mist – very nice. The drive was non stop and by 0930 I was driving across the Narrows, sooner than I expected. I don’t drive at the speed limit – I drive about 10Km/h lower, so it’s safe and sound. And I announce a new world record: 8.0 litres/100Km. That’s xxx mpg, I’ll work it out later. The best I’ve ever had previously was 8.6.

By 0940 I was driving past Lake Monger and realising I was two hours early! I had breakfast at Floreat Forum and read the paper, then arrived for my specialist’s appointment at 1130am.

Then I waited an hour past my appointment time. Grrrr. Finally, at 1230 I was in, and less than five minutes later, I was out.

So. get this: I’ve waited two and a half months for this appointment, thinking and worrying that I’ve got a leg vein problem that needs surgical fixing. I was told I may have congestive heart failure, so I made an urgent appointment with the cardiologist, and was told, no, no problem; so, today I’ve driven three hours, had to wait an hour past my appointment time, only to be told, no, your leg looks OK, there would be no benefit in doing surgery, just keep on with the pressure stockings, see how you go and if you have a problem, come back and see me. No further appointment made.

Kerrumbs! I’ve been worried about this. I thought I was going to need surgery. I thought I had congestive heart failure. But no, “take two aspirin and see how you feel in the morning.”

Well, it’s good news, but … I’ve had two months of worry for nothing. Even my GP said, “Why don’t you go to Bali?” I thought I was in danger of DVT or similar, but he says, no, no need to worry when you’re on Plavix and aspirin.

OK, relax. Deep breaths. Caaaaalm.


After the doctor I had coffee with Barry and it looks as if settlement on my new place will be as scheduled, i.e. Wednesday 4 April. Therefore, barring the unforeseen, I can take possession on Thursday 5 April. Whoopee! I can’t wait.


My first action will be to order a bed as near identical as I can get to the one I’m sleeping on at Alan’s. It’s very comfortable and I awake with no back problems and feeling refreshed. Bed Shed, Alan tells me. I only need a single bed for one of the bedrooms in my new house in order to move in. Then I can get my stuff delivered at leisure. What a relief it will be to be back in my own house on my own bed. I am overwhelmingly grateful to my friends who’ve helped me out in these past few weeks, but boy, I want to be in my own place!

More tomorrow.

Another bad assumption!


Gracetown, a stitched panorama (click to get the full effect)

Crumbs, I keep assuming things that turn out to be wrong.

I need to move from here (Alan’s Margaret River farm) next week and I was going to work my way back towards Perth, staying in caravan parks. I assumed I’d be OK with Minnie.

Oh no. Most caravan parks say “No pets”. Each one I looked at on the web seemed to be the same. I was getting a bit nervous for a while. Then realising it’s Easter coming up, the choices were really narrowing down.

So I decided to visit the Busselton tourist bureau and bless ’em, they had a list of dog friendly places to stay in Busselton. The first one I tried had a cabin vacancy for most of the time I need, so I’ll be in Busselton from next Thursday to Good Friday morning, when I have to vacate. Then Alan says I can come back here over Easter. Phew. That’s a relief. This being homeless is a bit stressful. If I were on my own, it would be OK, but travelling with a dog is complicated.

Not long to go, I hope. Barry hinted that there may be a delay in my moving in date due to finance complications for the sellers, but not too long, I hope. I’ll be finding out more on Monday when I have to come up to Perth to see the vascular surgeon.

More pics:




It was quite wet here yesterday, but Alan, being a true farmer, is not satisfied. He wants much heavier rain. Don’t we all? I was driving in the rain yesterday and got totally disoriented leaving Busselton. I took one roundabout exit too many and was on the Perth road for nearly ten kilometers before I realised I was going in the wrong direction. With no sun, I lost my sense of direction. Duh!