Well, Xmas eve once again, and I find myself seated on my sister's balcony at Gwandalan. The weather, though a little sticky, isn't that bad, and a pleasant breeze is just gaining momentum, caressing the sweat which has had ample time (and opportunity) to accumulate across my chest and back.
Out on the lake, I can see someone trying to manoeuvre a one person sail boat in order to gain momentum. And seeing that they have now disappeared from sight, I assumed (for the better) that they have been successful. The only other craft that I have seen out there was a speedboat, and now, all I see is just the aqua coloured water, with little white caps on the waves.
The camera has already been pressed into service since I got here, around an hour ago. In the backyard I spied a collection of birds, including two pairs of courting rainbow laurikeets, and a solitary kookaburra which was quite content to just survey the yard, and whatever was fluttering above him/her. I was surprised, when I was informed fairly recently, that the large member of the kingfisher family has a liking for ducklings. Considering the size of the bird's beak, and the general weakness of the baby duck, I could imagine it wouldn't take that long to subdue it, kill it, and eat it. I honestly had not thought that the Australian icon liked a bit of duck, and thinking back a decade and a half, I can recall other carnivorous birds, such as the currawong, had no problems going after smaller species of birds, including escaped domesticated budgerigars.
Anyway, this particular kookaburra wasn't interested in the other occupants of the tree, for it spied something else and went off after it, effortlessly flying away over the neighbouring house. They're so stocky, yet in flight they appear so aerodynamic.
But this serene scene of water, trees and birds is in dark (light?) contrast of the one I had to put up with a couple of hours ago. Awake early this morning around 7am, with barely five hours sleep, I breakfasted, showered, and with nothing further to do, grabbed my luggage and headed out the door. Grabbed the first bus to the station, then a train to Wyong, where I had to wait all of five minutes for the bus to Lake Haven. However, upon arrival there I found myself with nearly two hours to kill before my bus to Gwandalan departed, so I had to amuse myself as best that I could.
It wasn't easy at first, but I managed. After struggling through the throng that had infested the shopping centre, I reached the sanctuary of the library, where I read a manga that I had brought with me, and scribbled down a journal entry. I also had a rather early lunch, and after finishing the manga I realised that ninety minutes had passed, so it left me time for a call to nature, and to get a drink before the bus showed up.
The bus ride was rather pleasant, especially around Lake Munmorah. I didn't care that it was going the long way round – I had Moby on and was quite enjoying the ride. It was quite amusing that I could recall all the places that I had personally dropped papers to, but kinda sad in a way that I could also recall how many as well...
(A little later)
Yup, taking advantage of a washing machine and a warm day. Yes, a bit of a pain dragging the duffel bag up here (not really designed for cross-country trips), but it was worth it. With the first load already on the line and the second in the machine, I'll have completed one of my tasks before Xmas day arrives.
My dislike for the festive period has not changed in the slightest. It's the crowds that I have a lot of problems with, having just managed to get through the Friday (Dec 21st) arvy crowd at Erina Fair, braved the Sydney CBD last Saturday afternoon, and then today's mass at Lake Haven. The car park was absolutely full, with security doing regular rounds through it. Inside, well, the sort of scene that spree killers dream of. One could've emptied a full clip from an assault rifle and killed fifty people it was so packed.
I find the whole festive season rather hypocritical. People are urged to spend, spend, spend, for the sake of the economy, then we discover all those credit card bills in the mail and we're paying off Xmas 2012 until Xmas 2013. We have people wasting power (and money) on Xmas light displays the world over, and there are people on this planet who have never seen a light-bulb. We eat and eat and eat, and there are families (even in this country) going without and are queing up at soup kitchens for a hand-out. Then there is so much being spent on presents, alcohol, food, etc. and 10-20% of the people in this country are living below the poverty line.
And then there's the Xmas carols. We sing songs about reindeer, and gees, I've never seen one in the flesh. White Xmas in Australia? Only if you paint your house white, or are based in the Australian Antartic Territory. Santa Claus? Don't get me started about that fizzy black liquid promotional icon. Twelve different presents on the twelve days of Xmas? Refer to the previous paragraph. Even Australianized songs about six white boomers and rattling along in an old ute seem a bit ridiculous.
Sigh. I must be getting older and more cynical.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, I don't like crowds. Shopping centres, live shows, sporting events, etc. I'm very much ill at ease, and with good reason too. Sporting events, I find, bring out a lot of idiots, such as the over intoxicated spectators who generally have had too much to drink before half-time, the “experts” who believe that the referee is always supporting the opposition or that the side should be doing what they say rather than what they're actually doing on the pitch, and, sadly enough, closet racists like the one that was present at the recent Adelaide vs Wellington game, and has had his membership with the club revoked and banned from attending any A-League matches for two years. Personally, he should've been banned for the rest of his life.
I try to go to a game to enjoy it, but I find it quite hard sometimes. The last game that I attended, that being the Mariners vs Melbourne Heart clash, was spoiled for me by three mature-aged male spectators that, by chance, chose to move into the three vacant seats next to me during the first half. Twice during the game, I was clocked by flailing arms, seeing my neighbour was getting over excited. All three of them were “experts” I should add.
Then there is my usual pet peeve. Regardless as to where I sit in a row, or whatever bay I sit in, I always find myself having to contend with people who, for whatever reason, just have to squeeze past me to accomplish whatever task it is that they have to do. Generally, it is usually for beverages.
Why do I put up with it? Because I love the game, especially the local team. A good, hard-working side, that generally play a tough game of football. There are no big names in the side, but there is plenty of talent, and going into Xmas the side is two points clear at the top of the ladder, seeing Adelaide were thumped 6-1 last week by newcomers the Sydney Wanderers, and the locals managed an away draw against Wellington.
The last week of work felt like the longest week that I have done all year. Tuesday was warm, and made more unpleasant by being accosted in the street by an off-duty shopping trolley collector that had a go at me for borrowing a Woollies trolley, ten minutes after I started my first run for the day. It really did bug me for the rest of the day, and I was left scratching my head wondering why that I was singled out for attention at that time.
So, I posted a complaint at a site that hosts a lot of customer complaints about various businesses. I also directed an e-mail to the corporation as well, but doubt anything will come of it. So I've now decided to stop shopping at said store, and shop at their competitors instead.
Wednesday I had been called in to work, to do a mail-out for their monthly music magazine. So, I got there around 10am and waited. Twenty minutes later it's “the magazines won't be turning up until tomorrow”. Guess where I was on Thursday – Wyong.
Thursday & Friday's run was, well, tiring. First up, three locations were doubled-up on with papers. We had done two that were on the walk-around guy's list, and he had done one of ours. He then couldn't find a pizzeria in Wyong. Between all three of us we got the address muddled up, but I found it in the main street just opposite the train station seeing that we had to do it. Didn't help that the sales staff had given us the wrong name for the shop as well to begin with.
Then I got confused about the street numbers. As it turns out, house/business numbers on the Pacific Highway reset as Tuggerah becomes Wyong. So, effectively, there are two 104 Pacific Highways. However, one is 104 Pacific Highway TUGGERAH, and the other is 104 Pacific Highway WYONG. But, as I soon discovered, it isn't the same going the other way. The Pacific Highway also runs through Lisarow, Niagara Park, Narara, Wyoming (North Gosford) and into Gosford, where it becomes Mann Street. Not only do the numbers not reset at the change of each suburb, but they continue to countdown as the the highway becomes the main street of Gosford, even though they are two seperate thoroughfares.
Finally, the most annoying thing for the day was that at the end of our two day run, we discovered that we were 30 bundles of newspapers over, which equates to 1500 papers. The boss claims he used the number that I quoted on my e-mail that I sent him earlier in the week, but somehow we still had way too many papers.
On returning to the office, around 3.30pm, we discovered that it was closed. So we couldn't pass on our news about the run. Not only did we have to lug in 30 surplus bundles of newspapers, but there were nearly that many in leftovers from previous runs as well that we brought back.
So I was looking forward to Saturday, and a game of Blood Bowl, but it wasn't a good match for me and after completing it, I was harassed by some smart-arse adolescent card game player as I was trying to get past him in the narrow aisles between tables.
It took a while for me to calm down on both occasions, but I found the best way was to have my thoughts distracted by something pleasant, and, thankfully, on both occasions I was able to enjoy a pleasant moment or two to suppress my anger. The first was getting a smile from a rather cute policewoman whom I passed on my round, and the other was being politely asked for a loan of a pen on the train going home from Sydney, by this petite doll of an Asian girl.
Taking some pics during my walk through the botanical gardens in Sydney helped as well. Though I would've been content to photograph the flora and fauna in the gardens, on the spur of the moment I decided to extend my walk for another five minutes, going right down to the bay, and was rewarded with the sight of a Chinese military naval vessel, the Plan Qiandaohu, being guided out of the military anchorage at Woolloomooloo by two tug boats.
The ship (and two others), as I soon discovered by the expediency of the internet, had been visiting Australia after completing an anti-piracy tour in the Gulf of Aden. Needless to say, I stayed another half hour to take plenty of pictures and even shoot a couple of minutes of video footage with the camera.
And I plan to take a few more pictures a little later on, of the little hamlet which is Gwandalan. That was the secondary purpose of coming up here for a couple of days. The other was to spend time with the family.
Well, I think it may be time to hang the second load of washing out, seeing that my sister has just showed up.
(A little later still)
Well, I did go for a quick walk before dinner. Took some good pics of various things. I look forward to editing them as soon as I can.
The weather for Xmas, I must say, doesn't look that promising. The skies are greying, I can hear thunder in the distance, so I should go grab my washing seeing most of it should be dry by now
My nephew, being the idiot that he can be, decided that smacking a large battery around with a cricket bat was a good idea. Whack! The battery is suddenly sailing towards my head, but thankfully drops suddenly and smashes into the railing.
Never a dull moment visiting this place. All the best for the festive season, and the new year.