Cape Schank, and Waiting for Warmer Days

Some time last week, I saw that the Saturday was going to see good weather. So I teed up a quick getaway, and looked for an easy walk destination not too far away, say about an hour or so, driving.

After a lazy morning, I walked that little fellow while Tress did the laundry, to take advantage of the sunny conditions. Those basic chores done, we then drove towards Mornington and headed for Cape Schanck.

It was sunny with blue skies and when we got there, the car park looked busy. Numerous people were there and the walk along the boardwalk to Pebble Beach was busy. Likewise, the lighthouse area and a number of other spots were teeming with people. We had lunch at Flinders, where Tress’ bowl of soup and my humble looking sandwich were nice but the bill reminded us we were in the area commonly known as a playground for Melbourne’s wealthy people. A soup, a sandwich and two coffees ran up a bill of $54… Jules believes in fat margins I suppose. A walk through the main road in that town sort of affirmed its playground-for-the-rich status, as that short street had numerous art galleries with simple but pricey art works for sale, as well as chic fashion joints.

We got home around 4pm, and after a quick visit to the shops to get some protein to marinade for the week’s cook the next day, we settled down to await the Hawks’ last game of the season. Somehow, we managed to beat the Eagles, at the Optus (in Perth) at that. It all came to nought however, as the Doggies easily beat the Crows on Sunday, to pip us into a finals spot.

That miss proved to be only one of 3 horrible outcomes, sporting wise, for the weekend. United lost at home to Palace for a last minute goal and worst of all, the Poms – courtesy of a cracking knock from the Ranger Stokes – managed an unlikely run chase at Headingly to tie the Ashes 1-1.

St Alf saw us do the penultimate talk of the Life Explored series. It had been a curious one, where most of us struggled to find resonance. Especially between the videos and the themed messages. Maybe it was designed to stoke some flames of thoughts amongst those less familiar with the gospel.

Just before I started the cook, Tress went on her ethereal pursuits and I ducked into FHC. With warmer months returning soon (hopefully), I had wanted to go back to my low working shoes and keep my RM boots away for the season. My low black working pair however, has had a hole in it for a while. I saw a “Rockport Allander” at The Athlete’s Foot which were really nice. Black and business like but soft, light and very walkable, it felt like the perfect pair. The price tag however was a put off so I walked around to check out the Shoes Warehouse instead. Contrary to the trend of my sporting teams, my luck turned – a same pair was on the shelf! At the checkout, the lady said it would have normally sold for about $30 less than the tag at TAF, but it was a storewide “nothing over $99” promotion day. The  discount of over 55%was a no-brainer, and I’m now ready, foot wise, for the warmer months.

In fact, with footy season over I am more than ready – in all sense – for the warmer season. It has been a long, cold and wet winter and I cannot wait to bid farewell to the long, cold, dark and wet days.


Marysville and “JR”

Marysville was a bit of a ground zero in the Black Saturday bushfire more than 10 years ago. We’ve been there several times since. It is now a beautiful part of the Yarra Ranges again. I spent the whole of Saturday there, as part of St Alf’s men’s camp. Most of the campers had trekked up on Friday night, but the drive there includes the Black Spur, which is a stretch from Healesville onwards, finishing just before Marysville. The mountain ash trees are magnificent and the view is stunning, but it is also a winding, narrow and dark stretch. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the drive on a Friday night after a long week, so I decided to only trek up there on Saturday morning.

Tress and I had been out for dinner on Friday the night before, and after dinner, we got home and I toggled between the cricket and footy, although not much was happening with the cricket which was interrupted by rain. It was the second test of the Ashes Series and it was a cracking contest too, truncated play notwithstanding. It turned out to be a draw overnight, but it was by no means a dour or boring draw.

Early Saturday morning, Tress ducked out to get a couple of coffees and after a quick toast, I left home soon after 7am and drove out to Marysville. The drive was cold and foggy but when I left Healesville and started the Black Spur stretch, those trees again took my breath away. It has to be, along with the Great Ocean Road, one of Victoria’s most beautiful gems.

I got to Marysville around 8.30am, and spent the morning listening to talks about health – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health – among some 60 men from St Alf’s. After lunch there were a few activities to choose from and I opted for a forestry walk with someone who was a retired State forester. It was a really good walk, with that expert providing interesting commentaries about trees, shrubs and vegetation as well as wildlife. We saw wombat poo galore and on the home stretch of the 5km walk, we also spotted a black wallaby.

Tress’ text messages made their way into my phone intermittently, as the talks and walk happened. She had busied herself with lots of housework – cooking, cleaning, weeding – as well as some of her ethereal activities. I guess the both of us being separately engaged in entirely different activities, only enriched our relationships as when I got home that night, we excitedly told each other what we had been up to.

After the forestry walk and some chats and discussions – formal and informal – with numerous fellow men, we settled down to a substantial dinner, where I sat with Peter, the senior minister of St Alf’s, and had a casual conversation. I left Marysville after dinner and started the drive home a bit after 7pm, getting home a bit after 8.30pm.

On Sunday after St Alf’s and a quick lunch, we got home and walked the little guy before heading off to Marvel Stadium for a late game (first bounce 4.40pm). Ordinarily, we wouldn’t go for games at such times, and would more likely watch it on tv. This game however was special. It was the Hawks’ last home game of the season, and it was Jarryd Roughead’s finial home game. He would retire after this season finishes, which is next weekend, unless for some miraculous reasons, we tumbled into finals footy.

Roughead – “Roughy” – has been playing as a Hawks champion since I started following AFL soon after we got here. The Eagles got up against the Swans in the 2005 Grand Final and that was the first season of AFL football for me. I started following the Hawks that year and other than when he was out to deal with cancer, Roughy has always been part of the Hawks that I followed. Together with other champions of that cohort – Hodge, Lewis Franklin and Birchall – Hawks have had a dream decade. So to farewell Roughy was a special privilege and what a farewell it was too. He kicked 6, and even though it was a long trip home – Melbourne Metro had cleverly ignored the prospect of over 30,000 fans cramming into Southern Cross station to get a train home, so thousands of fans waited on crowded platforms for the better part of half an hour – it was time well worth spending. I also had to pick up a t-shirt with “JR” blazoned across the front, with a tiny silhouette of the champion’s kicking action embedded in the middle. Tress thought $31 for a t-shirt was a bit much. I though so too, but I just had to get it…

We got home close to 9pm and I got to follow some of the cricket as the Aussies battled to retain the 1-0 lead so far. I went to bed late and even though I was groggy this morning while on the train, this past weekend has been a pretty special one.

Good bread sandwich, Ah Meng

Melbourne is currently under a cold spell, which started sometime last Thursday. We were returning from a home group at the Maury’s when I felt the brunt of it. For much of Friday, the cold and wet conditions persisted.

That cold spell enveloping the eastern and south eastern parts of Australia saw the Hawks play the Giants at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, in icy conditions. Towards the end of the second quarter, it snowed. Hawks triumphed over its more fancied opposition, and at a margin of 56 points at that too. What a win it was.

I woke up this morning to read United had thrashed Chelsea 4-0. It was an opening game of the new season and I hadn’t seen a win so big coming.

So it was a weekend that saw two of my favourite sporting teams prevailing. Sort of like a sandwich made up of very good bread.

The meat in this sandwich was more ordinary. As it was cold and wet right through the weekend, we slept in on Saturday morning and did some housework. Vacuuming, laundry and giving the little black jedi a bath seemed like good ideas for such a weekend.

After a late lunch and some grocery shopping, we came home and just pottered around the house, streaming stuff to watch. I’ve been watching Kevin Bacon strutting in the series “City on a Hill” – a raw Boston police series on Stan. So I watched a bit of that, before turning to free to air stuff. Jake Gyllenhaal in “Night Crawler” was a tight psychotic drama and we followed that up (toggling the footy on another channel) with Tom Hanks in “The Road to Perdition”.

Sunday was the usual too (more plain meat in a good bread sandwich). St Alf’s lunch and back for the week’s cook.

Earlier in the week, we had received some sad news. Yu Ming, a cousin of Tress and a really good man, had passed away. He was only 64. Ah Meng had started work at Tress’ dad’s business from the age of 14, so he had worked for the family for 50 years. He was a hardworking, pleasant and simple man. Always smiling and often laughing, I said to Tress he was an operations backbone of the business. His daughter had also worked in the business for a number of years and Tress’ dad had relied on her for a lot of his personal financial matters. She recently left the business to pursue her own interests and broaden her experience but with her father having passed on, they are asking her to return to the business. They are literally family to Tress and her family – Ah Meng was a nephew to her dad.

Not the first nor for the last time, I am reminded there but for the grace of God go I.

Rich tapestry

We went to Marvel Stadium for the first time this season. It was a Friday night game so I went there from the office and Tress trekked into town to meet me at Spencer. Marvel is only a quick walk away so that worked out well for us.

It didn’t work out well at all for the Hawks however, as notwithstanding a really good start, North Melbourne played some good football, was very gritty and clean in midfield to deliver really good chances to their forwards, and they got up over us easily in the end. It should be the end of Hawk’s rare season with no finals footy.

We got home close to midnight again and tried to get to bed quickly as it was going to be another full day the next day.

We were going to be at Alex and Li Har’s on Sat night. We left early on Sat morning to shop for the stuff we wanted to cook and bring to the dinner party, had brekky where we shopped, and got home to prep the cook. I then left for a meeting of Steer’s out in Montmorency – Eltham way – but first dropped into an optometrist shop to leave my sunnies for a repair job.

The meeting at Montmorency was a longish one. Steer is an asset management company, a faith based not for profit, with a rich farming DNA. So the AGM was filled with rich wisdom of fiscal conservatism and lively volunteerism and with an ethos of giving. The meeting was mindful of regulatory requirements as well, spending time and attention on regulatory compliance that is an increasing focus for faith based not for profit activities. As usual, I left that meeting feeling privileged to be serving amongst such company.

I dropped into the optometrist on the way home, just after 4pm, picked up my sunnies, and went home to get straight into the cook. About a couple of hours later, Tress got back from her ethereal activities, which had only started just before I got back. When I went out to dump some veg cuttings into the compost bin, the lawn looked cleaner of weeds and Tress said she had done several hours of weeding.

We left for Alex’s close to 7pm, and spent the evening catching up with their friends. We didn’t get home till close to midnight and for the second night in a row, we ended the night really late, with me watching a bit of the Ashes on tele to wind down the longish days.

On Sunday after St Alf’s we did our usual rounds of lunch and grocery shopping and caught up with Jason and Mel in a café, before heading home to savour what was left of our weekend. Kiddo and Mic had intermittently sent us messages about a home they liked, not far from their present place, and we talked later in the arvo, about their plans to purchase this property. It would be bigger than their current townhouse, which Tress and I had bought for them to live in (“renting” from us) when they got married, over a couple of years ago now. This other property would be more spacious and would probably better suit for the longer term. As we await the outcome of the process, it is yet another potentially interesting turn of events.

When we were at Alex’s, we met their friends, who were a hotchpotch of vocations and experience.

Two of these friends, we had met numerous times over the past few years. One is a restaurateur who was retired, but recently reopened a new restaurant. He was quiet and polite, but funny, pleasant and kind. His wife is loud and entertaining, but equally kind. The other is a bon vivant, who talks about his days of golf in the morning, long lunches thereafter, and closing out with massages. He can talk about the best alcohols and foods but the only episode of work I have ever heard him talk about was a short bout of a café business, which he walked away from after a couple of months. When we once caught up in Malaysia, he showed up in a swanky Mercedes so despite a lack of visible vocation, he appears to have ample financial resources. He is however, a kind and funny person so he wasn’t unpleasant company…

A third person was a lawyer who had a practice in the city. It is a practice comprising entirely of Asian lawyers. It would not surprise me if his clients are equally representative. He appears to be a warm, generous and pleasant person – one who is more likely to blend in than stand out, and who probably stakes that trait as the source of his success. I liked him, as he was comparatively less ostentatious and was more generous with his views of others.

There were others there that night, and as is often the case with their dinner party, there was much merry making with little attention to conversations with traction. It made for a stark contrast with my other event of that day in Montmorency. I have been fortunate to have been at both ends of this spectrum. However the turn of events play out in Kiddo and Mic’s lives, I somehow feel they too, in their time, would have their own version that is the rich tapestry of life.