Posted by: glenswatman | December 31, 2010

20101216-31 AUSTRALIA Victoria, Mildura

 

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THURSDAY 16 DECEMBER – Think it is a first for Mildura in December as Steve needs to mow the lawn, the grass is almost a foot high and we are in danger of losing the dogs!  In the evening our friend Dave comes round for a meal.  We met him back in 2006 and he introduced us to Globalfreeloaders which in turn led us to Couchsurfing so we have a lot to thank him for.  He is still managing the Centro shopping centre here but taking long service leave next year and visiting his daughter who is working in England.

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FRIDAY 17 DECEMBER – We are both feeling much better but rather than risk things and strain himself Steve prefers to rest in front of the TV watching The Ashes being played out.  As we have had no rain for just over a week we need to irrigate which means turning pumps on then different taps and swapping hoses to give all the areas a fair share.

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SATURDAY 18 DECEMBER – Reckon we are both back to normal now and ready for the usual 3 meals a day.  Tonight we have a problem with the white duck going AWOL.  It is such a game each night wondering what mishap is going to prevail with the animals.  We spend ages going round the garden in different directions making quacking noises and even let Denis back out to try and find his girlfriend but to no avail – looks like she is going to have to have a sleep out

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SUNDAY 19 DECEMBER – Steve gets up early and finds the white duck waiting outside the pen.  The minute he lets the others out Denis jumps on her and gives her a good seeing to so that will teach her a lesson!  The weather takes a turn for the worse and by lunch time it is really cold and we have strong winds, rain and even a shower of hail stones.  When Steve goes to round up the chooks and ducks he finds a few chickens missing.  He spends ages looking then comes back from the Orchard with bad news.  He has found the chickens scattered all over the place but still missing 2 and 1 chicken is injured.  I go to see what I can do for the injured chicken and when we get to the coop the other chickens are all around it pecking at its back.  At first Steve thinks this is a nature thing and they are cleaning it up but I suddenly realise they are in fact eating it alive.  We quickly get a small metal cage and put it over the injured chicken.  Walking around the orchard we can see lots of feathers so assume the missing 2 have been taken, probably by a fox.  We phone the neighbours to see if they know any more about it and I check up info on the Internet.  Conclude the best thing is to remove the injured bird, bathe its wound and try and keep it in a warm dry place.  Neighbour Jeannie shows us a small chicken coup in the garden so we relocate it there. I bathe its back with diluted disinfectant, it has raw plucked skin an area about the size of a large avocado and in the midst of that 2 deep puncture wounds.   At this stage due to the time difference we can’t get Jude or Garth to get their opinion so will just do our best.

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MONDAY 20 DECEMBER – In ICU (Isolated Chicken Unit) Kat (like a cat with 9 lives) is still alive and has actually moved around a little.  In the main coup we can now see that one other chicken plus the rooster have also been attacked but to a much lesser degree although this does explain why they were so stressed last night.  Seems best if we leave the chickens and ducks in their coup for the day bearing in mind the dogs were no use at warning us of the fox attack.  Steve has been having a few light headed spells since his black outs and now realises he needs to be checked out at hospital.  They are very thorough but initially think it is a form of Vertigo, BPPV (benign positional paroxysmal vertigo) as his blood sugars and blood pressure are normal.  I had this many years ago so know a little about it.  To be sure they do a cat scan and rule out anything wrong with his brain (they got that wrong didn’t they) and send us on our way with a sheet of exercises to help him overcome it.  Apparently if he does the exercises he could find he has no reoccurrence whatsoever or it could come back in a few months.  We’ve only been back about 10 minutes when our visitors from Melbourne, Ruth & Tony, arrive.  It’s a pleasant afternoon so we sit out by the pool and drift into happy hour and a delicious pasta evening meal cooked by Ruth.   As fellow Couchsurfers and house-sitters there is heaps to talk about plus Ruth’s blogging and the new house they have bought for renovation.

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TUESDAY 21 DECEMBER – We’ve had messages from Garth and Jude to say to keep the chickens in and that they feel sure Kat will die but this morning she is still more than holding her own in ICU.  Steve gathers dandelion leaves to supplement the chickens feed whilst they can’t go out and scratch around.  Ruth & Tony set out to explore Mildura and surrounds but end up back by lunchtime.  In the afternoon I join them as we first visit Woodsies Gem shop just down the road.  Without Woodside himself doing the ring making demo it is a bit flat.  Next our proposed 1-hour walk around Etiwanda Wetlands only takes 15 minutes.  We are all keen to see what the houseboats are like and visit Bill at Acacia Houseboats for a viewing ready for our return as 4 couples!  The boats are nice enough but you can only travel 50km up or downstream so really the object would be for the pleasure of floating on the water and being with friends rather than the sightseeing and at around $700 (£420) per couple per week they are certainly not cheap.  The weather has improved so again we can sit out and enjoy the veal roast that I have cooked.  What could be better, good food, good wine and good company, well maybe a few more family and friends to share it?

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WEDNESDAY 22 DECEMBER – We guide Tony & Ruth on a ride out towards Red Cliffs taking in the tourist attractions then heading to Horseshoe Bend on the Murray River.  We camped on a lovely sandy beach 5 years ago but today we cannot even get to the river’s edge as it is all flooded.  The rest of the day is spent chilling out by the pool, eating, drinking and socialising – life is good.  Early evening get the news that David’s kidney operation is going ahead so guess we will be spending a sleepless night awaiting news.

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THURSDAY 23 DECEMBER – At 2am I get a text to say David was late going to theatre.  6am Claire texted and I phoned her to here operation was a success, although they did have a small complication meaning he had a 4 ½ hour op instead of 3 hours but he is now back on the normal ward on drips.  Not easy trying to get back to sleep with all the birds chirping and the sun blazing in so give up at 8am.  We sit out eating hot croissants before Ruth & Tony head off back to Melbourne.  We gather some of the plums and I make a crumble ready for when our next guests arrive on Sunday.  Love having produce in the garden to use fresh.  As soon as I have got the washing out we let the ducks out.  Yesterday we had a problem with the pool pump and someone is coming round to luck.  So much for Taco & Pepa warning us of visitors, the guy is hanging over the pool fence before they bark.  A quick scurry and we are soon decent enough to let him in.  Turns out it is just a fuse in the sealed control box so we couldn’t have done anything about it.  Later on the dogs make a bit of a commotion; I dash out and find 2 ducks in the newly cleaned swimming pool.  I’d left the gate open after playing ball with Pepa.  It is quite a challenge getting them out of the pool then through the gate before the others come to join them.  Of course by the time we have done this the ducks have been stressed and we have duck poo in the pool.

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FRIDAY 24 DECEMBER – With a chance of last minute bargains we head to the shops after lunch.  We are either way too early (they close at 10pm) or they are not clearing things out as there is little to be had.  It doesn’t feel like Christmas at all, the shops are not busy enough, no Christmas music and few decorations – perfect for grumpy old men.

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SATURDAY 25 DECEMBER – Merry Christmas, we wake to a nice sunny morning and Steve is soon sat out by the pool.  I put on some Christmas music and once I start in the kitchen it feels more like Christmas.  We eat by the pool; the naked chef has prepared roast potatoes, pork mignon stuffed with garlic butter, broccoli in cheese sauce and red wine gravy.  We’ve got a plum tree in the garden and I have an idea that I will make a plum pudding but find out that plum puddings don’t contain fresh plums!  End up making a plum clafouti served with brandy custard followed by coffee and homemade shortbread.  With a bottle of bubbly sunk between us we now feel like Christmas pigs.  In the evening we make our round of phone calls to England and find that David is able to come to the phone for a chat, he’s still in pain but less so which is encouraging.  There is plenty to watch on TV, mainly British sit coms like The Royales so that rounds off our day nicely.

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SUNDAY 26 DECEMBER – In the afternoon our friends Grant & Anne from Melbourne arrive after which we are busy chatting.  There’s a strong wind but we still manage to sit out by the pool for our evening meal.  They have bought up a ham on the bone and some extra bits of food so we are certainly not going to starve.

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MONDAY 27 DECEMBER – We go for a run into Mildura and cannot believe how quiet it is, certainly no sales fever here.  The rest of the day is spent out chatting, eating and drinking.  I am really enjoying being able to entertain and do a lot of home cooking and there is no doubt Grant & Anne appreciate it.

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TUESDAY 28 DECEMBER –Today’s little run out is along the river from Bruce’s Bend to Psyche Pumps.  Grants friends were hoping to come up here to camp but the Victoria Parks and Recreation have told them all the riverbanks are flooded and closed.  This is totally not true as it is not flooded at all and already people are taking advantage of the beautiful riverside setting to camp out.

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WEDNESDAY 29 DECEMBER – We leave Steve watching The Ashes and head west towards SOUTH AUSTRALIA.  This is a trip down memory lane for me as we have done this run a few times in the motorhome.  Today it looks quite different with so much water around.  We enjoy a picnic lunch at Pelican Point, this used to be one of our favourite naturist free camping spots but you can no longer stay overnight due to some new Aboriginal regulations.  Returning through Berri there is another disappointment, the Berri Direct factory clearance store has changed hands and upped their prices.  Return to Mildura, VICTORIA, where it has been a very hot day with higher temperatures forecast.

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THURSDAY 30 DECEMBER – Alisha, Jamie and family are driving up from Melbourne to camp on the river so I invite them for lunch.  Using the garden produce I do a zucchini (courgette) bake and an apricot and plum sponge pudding.  The kids absolutely love the pool and the dogs and don’t know which to play with.  For once Pepa actually gets fed up of playing ball.

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FRIDAY 31 DECEMBER – It is a really hot day, 40C+ so we spend most of the time in the pool.  It is cooler outside than in and it must be even too hot for the mosquitoes to come bothering us.  In the evening we head into Mildura for the free festivities by the riverfront.   The family join us and the younger kids seem to enjoy the Scooby Doo show.  We make a good move doing the early, 9.40pm firework show as we can see a storm brewing.  The fireworks are pretty impressive but there is an alcohol ban in public places so it suits us to go back home to have a few bevies and snacks.  Come midnight we watch the amazing firework display at Sydney on the TV but shelve our plan to jump into the pool as it is raining heavily.

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