A find


I was at a lovely joint last night in Lyneham, as the crow flies from my office. It’s Tilley’s and it is a rustic place, a bit of a throwback to yesteryear.

The furniture – especially in the booths (yes booths) – were aged and unadorned. The little tables near the stage evoked scenes of 60’s cabaret clubs characters like gangsters from “Goodfellas” would have frequented.

The stage seats an old piano and I was told live bands sometimes play there on that stage.

The bar – with good inventory including lovely Pinot Noir selections – stretches across one half of the hall, with high ceiling throughout. It all made for a lovely and likeable experience.

Tilley’s is apparently an institution in Canberra.

That it has lasted so long means it is probably making money, which is fundamental of course. No enterprise can run at a loss  over a period of time, no matter how lovely the experience it provides.

Further cause for its longevity and (therefore?) profitability can be seen in the crowd. For a Tuesday night the place was bustling and with mixed demographics too – groups of adults who look like work colleagues or university study groups as well as couples and young families. So I guess Tilley’s is also a successful enterprise because other than facilitating a welcoming environment it also facilitates engagements across different levels.

The food was nice – not great but not bad either. I guess there are so many compensating factors to elevate ordinary food to a better experience as a whole. Food I guess, is secondary when it allows people to come together, meet and talk and share their lives together in a homely and welcoming manner.

Tilley’s at Lyneham is so close to home (and work), evokes pleasant nostalgia throughout and provides promise of an enduring local. It’s potentially memorable and promises to stay.

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Cold Walk


My back is nearly completely recovered. I can only feel a slight soreness/stiffness now. I decided against riding the push bike in this morning however as being on a bicyle entails bumps, sudden movements, etc. But I could no longer drive in to work, in the sense that it felt ridiculous to drive that 2km stretch. So I walked to work, which I haven’t done for a little while. It was nice to feel the cold air in my face again, without the fingers freezing over. As cold as it was (a “feels like” of -6.5 degrees!) walking always feels less cold than riding. By the time I got in, I felt a little warmer. I think I’d alternate between walking and riding from hereon in, although walking back at night can be a bit of a bummer…

Chook Dinner, 6, Quentin T and Mamee Master Chef


I did my back in, sometime last week. I think it was Wednesday morning. I felt a spasm as I was putting the toilet seat back on, and knew immediately that it was gone. For the rest of that day it was very sore and stiff. It has since improved ever so slowly and now, on the sixth day, it is probably about 75% back to its “before” state.

So there has been no runs, push up’s, rides or even walks (until yesterday). On Saturday I was itching to do light walks so I went to the Belconnen fresh foods market and got some stuff for dinner later that night. I did a baked chicken dish and had a good time with Kiddo and Mic over dinner. They also did a magnificent job with the cleaning up so it was a very good day. Unfortunately we finished by watching the very gory Quentin Tarantino classic – Reservoir Dogs – which I thought we then needed to be sanitized somewhat. Though artful and well acted/delivered, the script was littered with obscenities it’s hard to think it’s anything but gratuitous. I guess it portrayed the characters but it was still very difficult to sit through.

I had also – while in Belconnen – dropped into the Mazda dealership in my quest to seek something more attuned to my Hume hikes. The 6 Wagon felt right and this morning the dealer rang with some very interesting numbers so I could be on my way to a change of wheels soon.

Sunday I was in Crossroads again, with Simon Nixey preaching the first sermon of a new series on Ezra/Nehemiah. It was a gloomy day with threats of rain petered with drizzles. I had walked to church and after, I walked to Canberra Centre, did a bit of grocery shopping, and then walked to the Unilodge area and had lunch in a Japanese place. The ramen was good for a wet and cold day but it was no where near as good as the ones I had in Melbourne. Then I walked back home, and did some ironing. I had put away the laundry earlier that morning – I had woken up early to watch the Man Utd/Barcelona friendly game and at half time, decided to keep away the laundry which had been hanging on the dryer frame sine Saturday morning.

Sunday arvo the whole being alone in Canberra thing hit again and later went out for another walk, once the sun started to peak through. I walked to the Canberra Centre again, this time in near freezing conditions. On the way back I picked up some nostalgic snacks – “Mamee” noodle snacks – and headed home to wait for the first night of the Master Chef finals. The funky Jessica Arnott lost out, and Billie McKay will slug it out with Georgia Barnes for the title of Master Chef 2015 tonight. As usual, Tress and I were on Skype through the show and I hope she’d be there again tonight, to check out if Billie. the overwhelming favourite, will take out the title or Georgia will set off hounding,

The trunk shot is used in many Tarantino films...
The trunk shot is used in many Tarantino films, including Reservoir Dogs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

frustrated and angry screams by flustering her way to glory.

Mamee Double-Decker
Mamee Double-Decker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Ashes to Ashes


Tress drove the Xtrail to the office on Friday arvo and I left early – just after 4pm – and made the journey back to Melbourne with her. We arrived just before 11pm and managed to catch Steve Smith earn his double ton at Lord’s to seize control of the second Ashes match.

On Sat morning we went to a car dealership in Nunawading to kick some Skoda tyres. I’d been looking at the Skoda Superb wagon but would probably abandon the idea for now. Later, we went to do some shopping at the Forest Hill Chase and then went to pick LBJ up from his sitter, which was just 2 streets from us. Rosemary had been introduced to us by Amber, his groomer, and she was very good for him.

We got him back home, walked him for a bit, and then I washed him while Tress did some gardening. Later that arvo – after the customary lunch at Madame Kwong’s in Box Hill of course – we went and watched a movie at the Forest Hill Chase again. Pixar’s Inside Out is such a clever idea and cleverly executed. Kiddo had watched it a few weeks back and told me it was very good and earlier in the week Tress had suggested we watched it over the weekend. It was thoroughly enjoyable, even with dozens of kids chatting away in the cinema before the movie started.

Back home after the movie, I eagerly awaited the start of the Sydney Swans v Hawthorn game. I was expecting a tough battle – instead, Hawthorn completely decimated Sydney Swans. The final margin was even bigger than the Grand Final last year and the way Hawthorn doggedly and brilliantly went after each contest and steamrolled Swans when the ball is won, was breath taking. It was even better than the win against Fremantle Dockers last week.

Sunday morning was freezing cold. There was frost in our backyard and when we drew the blinds at the front of the house, the oval in front of us was also covered by a blanket of frost. It was just under zero. After brekky and church we went to Madame Kwong’s again for lunch. These double treats on weekends back to Melbourne are almost worth the 6-7 hour drives each way in themselves. The only downside is for the Sunday feed, the post lunch drive leaving Melbourne to head back to Watson Street is always something of a challenge in so many ways. I took a few DVDs (The Godfather box set) to “listen” on the way but the footy games (Melbourne v Brisbane and Adelaide Crows v Port Adelaide) took up most of the drive.

Back at Watson Street last night, I watched The Ashes again – hoping to catch the Aussies get a few quick wickets to seal the second match and level the series. In the apartment by myself watching The Ashes in the middle of winter reminded me of my student days, when I would listen to the radio broadcasts in my room on the first floor of the shop on Anzac Parade in Kingsford NSW. Instead of Allan Border, Steve Waugh and Terry Alderman, the heroes now are Michael Clarke, Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson. That was almost 30 years ago now. This weekend which was sandwiched by the first and last days of The Ashes felt like a microcosm of a bigger slice, sandwiched by The Ashes of the late 80’s and 2015. And these have straddled Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

Mid Winter


It’s the middle of winter and it has been 8 weeks since I moved to Canberra to start my new role here. It’s cold here. On most morning it’s sub-zero. These past couple of days have been wet as well. Some days I feel staid and as though it’s all a drone like experience – just whirring away with no undulation of note. Kiddo’s away for a camp so I’ve been alone at home the past couple of nights. Thankfully Tress is coming up tonight on a late arvo flight and I’d be picking her up from the airport straight after work. I cant wait to see her again, having spent the last weekend here in Canberra.

Last Sat I spoiled myself by going for a fun test drive of a new car. I drove the Volkswagen Passat Wagon. I’d thought about getting a different car to better cater to the needs which come with frequent Canberra-Melbourne-Canberra drives. A 4 wheel drive SUV is great and fun but when the bulk of my driving is going to be on the Hume with over 1,500km each round trip other factors come into play. I have not made the plunge though – buying a car is always such a painful exercise. Better fuel economy, better handling and safer ride become more important for me under my present circumstances.

The car dealer was in Belconnen so I did some grocery shopping there as well. I had been to the Canberra Region Farmers’ Market at EPIC with kiddo earlier in the morning too so that’s all the week’s grocery all sorted out, and more.

Sunday was very cold again, and wet too. So I drove to church instead of the usual ride. Marcus touched on gay marriage. Graciously oppose is his mantra. AS I’ve read from numerous sources anyway, the institution of marriage in Australia has been dramatically changed since Lionel Murphy changed/amended the marriage act and turned marriage from what was intended to be a permanent covenant into a temporary contract, where parties can walk away when that contract no longer suits. Guys like Scrutton had also written on this so Marcus’ talk wasn’t so revolutionary. It wasn’t designed to be in any event.

I went back after church, put away the washing, did some ironing, cooked lunch and then went for a walk – first to Canberra Center and then to a pub to watch the Hawks v Port Adelaide game. PJ O’Reilly’s was closed on Sundays so I went further down the street to a joint called Hellenic Club. There were more people there than my last game at PJ’s. The sound however wasn’t turned on. Instead some dub-dub music was playing away which was annoying but Since Hawks were annihilating Port, and most of the viewers were (surprisingly) Hawks fans, it made for a much better atmosphere than at PJ’s.

I’m now looking forward to Tress visiting, and then our drive back to Melbourne together – probably on Friday night. It’s the middle of winter and I no longer wish for an exit from this roundabout. I don’t know what to make of that.

New Diamond


United signed a couple of very good midfielders overnights. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneirderlin. I just made those spellings up. The Mega Shop would have to have these names in large prints for those people doing the embroidery on the back of guernseys.

2 Spaniards, a German, a French and a Belgian. No British, let alone English.

Man Utd new look
Man Utd new look

Compared with Sir Alex’s days – where the likes of Keane, Scholes, Becks, Giggs, Butt and Neville brothers were all Brits.

Here’s hoping the new diamond sparkles again for United…

Good strong stance


institutionalizing same-sex marriage is nothing other than to “give approval to those who practice” the things that God’s word condemns (Rom. 1:32). And behind this moral affirmation, Paul tells us, is the religious “exchanging of the immortal God for images” (Rom. 1:23). To establish same-sex marriage, in other words, is an utterly religious act, by virtue of being idolatrous.

Extract from a good strong article that speaks to our present day.

Dreams


I had a strange night last night. I went to bed relatively early – just after 9.30. I then woke at 3.30 and did not go to sleep again till nearly 5. I had strange dreams, which I cannot recall when I woke. I only remember a lady coming into my office to say my boss is going to counter offer. I was excited at that prospect. I must have been thinking about Melbourne opportunities (ie Aus Post) a bit too much during the day in recent days. That lady didn’t look like anyone in this office. Then a group of us were gathered around someone’s table looking at a computer screen when someone tapped my on the shoulder saying my boss was looking for me. Then there was a restaurant scene where I was about to leave when I saw my brother seated on another table. We talked but I can’t remember what about.

I wondered about those dreams which made me wake in the middle of the night.

It’s a cold morning again with a “feels like” temperature of -6.8 degrees. I was glad I picked up a pair of thick skiing/riding gloves over the weekend from the cheap $2 shop. It made the ride in to office less painful for my fingers.

Swinging Times


English: Intersection of the Federal Highway, ...

I left work early last Friday – a tad after 4pm – and drove straight towards the A25, the Barton Highway. After a couple of stops at Gundagai and Euroa to refill and for toilet, I got home to Vicki Street just after 11pm. It was very good to be home again, and be with Tress and LBJ. Kiddo had woken early on Friday morning to say goodbye however, and as always, it was a blend of pain and gain. As is most of life.

We didn’t do much over the weekend. The weather was typical Melbourne winter. It rained all day on Saturday and was cold. Canberra was apparently just as cold as it was on Friday, so I was glad to be in Melbourne for an additional reason. After a home brekky we just milled around and watched a movie on Netflix (Mel Gibson’s Patriot) at home. Then it was lunch at Madam Kwong’s at Box Hill and some shopping at Westfield Doncaster. We then headed back home to continue with Patriot before heading to Forest Hill Chase around 6.30pm to watch Jurassic World, which was a bit of a return to Spielberg’s swashbuckling days of old. He was executive producer and his Amblin Entertainment made it and his fingerprints were indelible across the movie. We couldn’t work out if the GM’ed dinosaur or the T-Rex triumphed in the end (I thought it was the GM thing). It was fun however but we finished the night by rounding up the last 20 minutes or so of Mel Gibson’s aged Patriot.

Sunday it was church and the sentiment was that of a “back to MY church” sort. It was a local mission theme, with school holidays program (“Going Bananas”) starting today. Mavis Payne preached and it was good to be taught the importance of bringing Jesus to the people around our daily lives. In some ways I hadn’t viewed 1 Peter 3:15 through that lens before (as opposed to an apologetic reasoning lens). The local Federal MP, Michael Sukkar, visited and Peter gave him some time on stage for a short interview. It was good to see honest responses, including a brave declaration of support for traditional marriage.

After church it was back to Madam Kwong’s again for lunch before heading back home to pack to return to Canberra. I left Vicki Street around 12.40. That blend of pain and gain made its way to my emotion again as I pulled out of the driveway and waved goodbye to Tress and LBJ. Not long after that Kiddo rang, said it was still very cold in Canberra and my thoughts were a blur for the next hour or so. I had the St Kilda v Essendon game on the radio but other than picking up how the Saints were surging ahead towards a huge lead, I wasn’t following the game.

My mind was meandering its way past a maze of thoughts. Tress, Vicki Street, LBJ, Kiddo, Australia Post, National Blood Authority, St Alfred’s… The challenge is to embrace the present, which includes this very act of walking on this treadmill between Melbourne and Canberra. I remain in this cycle – this roundabout – without an exit in sight. Maybe it’s simply a season of not settling. It could be simply a time where I cling on to this swinging pendulum. Embrace the swing that is the present season. Enjoy the oscillating between the two cities. Where and when it lands, settles, exit and how that ends – that can all happen when the Lord decides it’s time.

Tress rang not long after I finally left the traffic of outer Melbourne and started to cruise the Hume. My hazy maze of thoughts faded away. I listened to the game, wondered how Essendon gave us (Hawks) a close game last weekend and appear to fold so badly a week later against a bottom of the ladder team. I was still about maybe 4 hours from Canberra. It’s a long drive in this roundabout.