Another year

Both barrels

Here we are, at Xmas again and soon to see the clock turn over to another year. It’s been a good year for me, mainly due to my wonderful partner. We’ve been through some turbulent times, learning to live with each other at this late stage in our lives, but I’m glad to say that we’re stronger than ever.

She’s with me now for the summer and we’re planning our Xmas festivities, frankly, the first time I’ve had a partner for this. We’re expecting a couple of good friends for the evening too, so V is happy planning what she’ll cook, enjoying being in a good, well functioning kitchen as well. Some of my appliances, pots, pans and utensils are getting their first serious workout and new ones seem to be appearing, sometimes over my protests. And we’re thanking Buddha for the dishwasher! It’s so good, never having to wash up, and getting sparkling clean dishes and glassware. Miele.

I had been promising V that our summers are hot, but she noticed the coolness of the first couple of weeks of December and had to really rug up at night. But after a few days of 36C, 38C and 41C it’s becoming much more to her liking. She’s loving it now, although wishing the ocean could be warmer. We haven’t had an ocean swim yet, but we will soon. It’s frustrating here: I’m only 1.3km from the beach, but it’s so hard to get to, down 75 steps or more. When you reach the beach, it’s a fairly strong surf with lots of undertows so I dare not go in.

We did find a water exercise pool nearby and availed ourselves of the free introductory session. Phew, it was led by a large fit lady and we both felt we’d had a workout by the end. We’re determined to find a good pool for aqua-robics – it may be at Joondalup. One thing is certain, it’s good to have a companion to push me along. I provide the transport but she gives the shove.

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I’ve finally decided solar power is worth going for, so I’ve committed. I’ve paid the deposit for a 6.6kW system from a firm called Infinite Energy. I was impressed by their professional presentation, both on their web site and by their representative. I had another couple of firms making approaches but I was put off by their high pressure sales tactics from the very beginning.

By paying and signing now, I qualify for this year’s federal government rebate. I expect installation will be mid next month. I wish I could afford a battery, but they are far too expensive. Even so, my daytime aircon, dishwasher and washing machine will be sun-powered in a few weeks. I don’t need aircon very often, but it sure bumps up the power bills from Synergy and I’m a bit reluctant to use it. Now I won’t need to worry, in summer anyway. I’ll still have to pay for winter nights on reverse cycle.

One surprise was that this house has 3-phase power connected. I didn’t realise. In theory, I could run very high power machinery in the workshop, but I don’t think it will be needed. I wonder why it was installed when the house was built.

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I’m loving the feel of driving the Honda MDX. It weighs a full 2,000kg, two tonnes, so it’s a heavy car and the economy gauge shows 14.4l/100km, but that’s not much above the Magna’s 12.5l/100km. Both are much better on long country drives. But the Honda’s weight makes it feel smooth and stable and the leather seats are nice on the bum. Unfortunately I’ve got another warning light on, the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA). I don’t know what’s wrong, but as long as I drive conservatively, I don’t think it matters at the moment.

The Verada’s roof lining velour covering has almost completely come adrift except at the edges, sagging down. I’ve been wondering how to get it out. it seems to be a Mitsubishi characteristic fault, going by the web forum. Amazingly, I found a Facebook ad last night from a guy who fixes this very thing, roof linings. Shazzam! I’ve sent a message and I’m awaiting a call back. PS: he’s replied and wants a photo. OK.

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Holy smoke, I only discovered Facebook’s Marketplace a few weeks ago, but it’s like a crack addiction. I can hardly tear myself away at times. So many desirable cars! At affordable prices. I can’t help thinking that if you bought a few and had a good workshop to fix ’em up, you could have some great drives and make a bit of money when re-selling them. I wish.

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I’ve recently started watching the Outlander series on Netflix. I’ve known about this for quite a few years but never got into it.

Wow, I should have started years ago. What a great series! It’s crazy: by touching some stones on a hilltop, an English woman is magically transported back 200 years, from 1945 to 1745 Scotland.

Despite the silly idea, the story, the acting and the production are just superb. I’ve learnt some things about the Scots that I didn’t know. There are around 60 one hour episodes, so being only up to episode 11, no doubt I’ll learn some more. Recommended.

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So then, it’s a very Merry Christmas to all my readers, and Best Wishes for the New Year 2019.

and Best Wishes for the New Year 2019.

What a change in my life in the past three years! All my wishes have come true for me, adding to my long held belief that I’ve lived a charmed life. I’ve always felt that I’m lucky, that the dice always fall my way in the long run, although they take their time sometimes.

But now, in the final years, I’ve been happily retired for nearly 20 years, I’m living in the best house I’ve ever known, finances are not a worry and at long long last I have a companion in life. We are so alike it’s uncanny. I’m finding I no longer think some of the old unpleasant thoughts. We’re busy planning trips to satisfy visa requirements, and also to see the country. It’s fun.

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Am I crazy, or what?

My latest “new” car, a Honda MDX.

You can now call me Peter “Four Jacks” Croft.  Or Pete “Two Tow-bars” Croft.  Yes, I’ve bought another car, making three cars now.

I wanted a reliable car for some longer distance trips in the next few months, and I’ve been thinking about one of these for some time, so when a 2006 model came up on Facebook Market a few weeks ago, I enquired. It was advertised at $4,500, but the owner, a mechanic, said a warning light had come up and he’d need to test it.  A week or two later, he said it’s a catalytic converter (in the exhaust) that’s the cause, and that won’t stop it being driveable, and he dropped the price to $3,000. OK, I said, I’ll take it. And I did, last Sunday.

Mine  looks its age, not like this, and needs some TLC.

It’s mid blue metallic, alloy wheels (my second set now), with black leather upholstery. The wood grain is plastic, but it looks nice, and it drives beautifully. It’s a 3.5l V6, fuel injected OHC automatic. with on-demand 4WD. It mainly drives the front wheels, but the rear wheels kick in if it senses the front wheels slipping. You can lock the 4WD on.

Lovely Honda engine.

That makes three cars I own now, all with 3.5l OHC FI engines, and the Verada has an anti-slip mode as well.  The new car also has a tow bar and roof rack, so that’s two cars with those now. I’d better start towing something. The ball assembly is removable on the MDX, so that’s good as it only just fits in my garage. Garaging is a problem, of course, with three cars in a two car garage, so the oldest, the Magna, is out in the laneway.

Three rows of seats but the back (kids’) row folds down flat.

So what am I gonna do? At least one has to go at some time, probably the Magna. It still drives beautifully but needs a new timing belt, an expensive job. The Verada needs new brakes, new exhaust, new tyres and an oil leak fixed so I can’t really drive it at present. The MDX feels great, but it’s heavy on fuel (14-15l/100km around town) and needs TLC all around. I suspect it will be a keeper, maybe.

Both the Verada and the MDX have the potential to be sold again for a profit if I put some work in, so I will eventually go back to being a one car man. Meanwhile I’m enjoying this.

Mine is like this, the 2006 model.