I’ve made my bed …

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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!

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The Hammer Fell!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 …