Conundrum


I am currently languishing in the Perth suburbs, Western Australia.

Last October, my son-in-law Steve was diagnosed with a brain tumour (glioblastoma). Very quickly, following the diagnosis, he was whisked into hospital for brain surgery. At the time we didn’t know how much after care he would need but we offered to help out and so my wife and I travelled out to Oz to provide support.

After care wasn’t the issue. Steve really recovered well after the surgery with no real pain and none of the residual weakness that would have been present following an abdominal or chest operation.

No, the follow up treatment and schedule was the real issue.

The radiotherapy was daily, Monday to Friday, for six weeks. Whilst the chemotherapy was tablet form, taken daily Monday to Sunday during the same six weeks. Following the surgery Steve was forbidden to drive for the next six to twelve months. So, to enable my daughter to carry on working, my role was to act as chauffer. Daily trips to Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth interspersed with trips to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, also in Perth. As well as various trips for blood tests and scans.

As the chemo built up in his system, the expected nausea and fatigue and exhaustion also built up. Alongside all this came the loss of appetite and corruption of taste buds.

And here is the conundrum.

What do you feed someone, who has all this going on ?

Even after the initial course of chemo and radio therapies has been completed, the dietary disruption continues.

After all, it is hard enough, under normal circumstances, to cater for the normal familial likes and dislikes of

  1. a granddaughter who doesn’t eat meat that isn’t chicken or ham (unless its a burger or a rissole, then almost anything goes) and has a limited set of veggie likes (eats broccoli and cauliflower but not green beans or pumpkin). By the way she loves fish but won’t eat salmon.
  2. a wife who loves fish especially salmon, has a short list of veggies (eats cauliflower but not broccoli and no sprouts or carrots) and doesn’t eat “spicy” food or creamy food i.e. white sauces are something of a minefield. Still waiting for the clear definition of what constitutes spicy.
  3. a daughter who also doesn’t like “spicy” food, likes fish that isn’t salmon or trout. Not sure about tuna ??? Eats most veggies (definitely no sprouts) and all non chicken meats have to be cooked to near charcoal point i.e. no pink

Before the tumour and chemo, Steve used to pretty much eat everything. Now he finds the flavour of most foods to be too strong, overpowering.

So, bland is the order of the day. Steamed fish or chicken predominates. Or the same but simply pan fried or baked. No sauces and definitely no herbs or spices. Some meals comprise just two tenderloin chicken pieces, total weight around 60g, steamed and maybe accompanied by a couple of carrot batons and/or a small broccoli floret.

So, how do I feed Steve without overpowering his hypersensitive taste-buds ? How do I coax him to eat a bit more as his energy levels are already depleted due to the chemo ? The lack of food does nothing to boost those already depleted levels. How do I introduce a bit of variety to his diet ?

Although he completed the initial concurrent chemo / radio therapies, my son-in-law has now started a new regime. He takes a five day course of tablet form chemotherapy, one week in four.

So, the disruption to taste, appetite, stamina and energy levels will be continuing for the next six months at least, maybe even for twelve.

Any suggestions ?

Shannon’s Classic Car Show


Shannons are an insurance company, in Australia, providing Car Insurance, Motorcycle Insurance, and Home Insurance products for motoring enthusiasts who drive imported, modified, classic, veteran or vintage cars. 

Each year they host a classic car show. Somehow, despite numerous visits to Perth over the years, I have failed to hear anything about the show. Until now, that is.

Which is how I came to spend around three and a half hours of this past Sunday, being totally surrounded by some of the most amazing classic, veteran and vintage vehicles.

Well OK, I did take a break during that time. One does have to keep body and soul together and a fabulous Brisket Burger, courtesy of “Up In Smoke”, helped with that task.

The show presented a vast array of vehicles. As soon as I had paid my $10 entry fee I found myself surrounded by several Lamborghinis

…. I still think the Miura P400 is the best looking Lambo. No sign of one at this show.

But who wants to waste time looking at high tech super cars …

… when there are classic Volvos. Who remembers The Saint, starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar in his white P1800.

… or Fiats … My wife and I used to own a dark blue Fiat 128. It took us, with two daughters, all the way from Portsmouth in the UK, down to Port Grimaud in the south of France where we toured around Cannes, Nice, St Tropez and Frejus. A glorious two weeks.

… and VWs … Note the strange protuberance on the side of the Herbie lookalike. It’s not a rocket booster but a retro-fit air conditioner. Working in much the same way as the evaporative air conditioners used on many Australian homes.

… no Classic Car Show would be complete without Citroen, responsible for some of the most innovative, technologically advanced cars. And, at the same time producing some of the, mechanically, simplistic vehicles that became iconic in their own right.

… 3 Wheelers like the Messerschmitt, with its aircraft cockpit bubble and even an aircraft style yoke to steer by. The Isetta could be driven in the UK on a motorcycle license, because it was classified as a three wheel motorcycle. I did note the absence of Rodney and Del Boys vehicle of choice, the Reliant. I guess WA is a little too far from Peckham for Trotters Independent Trading Co.

… a few Rileys with their gorgeous curves.

… a few fabulous Austin Healeys. As a school boy I used to lust after a 3000 that I would see regularly in Battle High Street. It was aubergine in colour and had a roll cage, wide wheels and leather straps to hold the bonnet down. The typical “Frog Eye” Sprite was a bit girly by comparison.

… there were a few Fords … what is there to say. Cars for every man. Although not everyman wanted to have the same as everyone else. Hence the many uprated, sporty customisations. I have to say I never thought I would see a Mustang towing a trailer. Especially not a trailer made out of another Mustang. Sacrilege !!!

… Chrysler were well represented by the R & S series Valliants

Never too old to learn something new. I was informed, by a very friendly fella, that the Slant 6 Engine is really a thing. Until Sunday, I had never heard of such a thing. Apparently the Slant 6 enabled the cars designers to achieve a lover profile for the bodywork.

… There was a strong showing from the Holden camp. Many examples especially given the recent news that Holden are ceasing production . My favourite is shown below.

… no show is complete without a Cobra or two ….

Of course it is hard to tell an original, from a replica licensed as a Shelby authorised continuation of the original AC-built Cobra series. Whatever they may be, they are fabulous looking cars.

Of course I could go on throwing up image after image of classic cars but that isn’t all that was available here.

There were trucks …

… Busses … apparently the City Clipper used to offer free rides around Perth city. Interesting that Luxembourg has just announced free public transport in a bid to alleviate traffic congestion. It remains to be seen if the scheme works. Nice to know that Perth was such an innovator, back in the day.

I’ve already shown you a VW camper of sorts. Here are a couple of other campers.

And finally, something most unexpected …. Perambulators ….. Prams !!!. I remember my sisters being pushed around in something similar. No collapsible buggies back then. Definitely not car friendly.

I have many more photos. If you are interested they are available on my Flickr Photostream

Matilda Bay


On the Swan River there is a natural bay, Matilda Bay which is believed to have been named after Matilda, the wife of John Septimus Roe. He was, in the 1800s, the first Surveyor-General of Western Australia and was, for a number of years, a member of Western Australia’s legislative and executive councils.

Whats so interesting about Matilda Bay you may ask.

Nothing, I might have responded, if I hadn’t be commuting along the Mounts Bay Road, every day Monday thru Friday for the last couple of months. Due these regular trips I became aware of two features of the Matilda Bay shore line.

The first being a bronze statue, of a woman preparing to dive, mounted on a pedestal some meters offshore.  Eliza  is located at the site of the former Crawley Baths.

Apparently, when they opened in 1914, the baths were the largest enclosed body of water in the southern hemisphere. They were demolished in 1964.

Eliza – Matilda Bay, Perth, W.A.

Although Eliza was just dressed in seagull poo yesterday, during my many passes she has been adorned with all manner of clothing, banners and balloons. No one is sure who dresses Eliza but past costumes have included a Santa Claus outfit with beard and coincident with the Melbourne Cup, a frock and champagne flute.

The second feature to catch my eye is the Crawley Edge Boat Shed

Crawley Edge Boat Shed – Perth, W.A.

A few years ago this structure was due to be demolished. Like the phoenix it has risen again and has become another icon of Perth, with many tourists travelling here to specifically take selfies.

Crawley Edge Boat Shed – Perth, W.A.

Note: Mounts Bay Road is a very busy road. There are no parking facilities adjacent to either of these features. The nearest parking requires a short, not unpleasant, walk along the shore line.

Kings Park


Many years ago, nearly 30 I think. During my first ever visit to Perth, in actual fact my first trip to Australia, my daughter took us up to Kings Park.

Kings Park

At that time, as I recall there wasn’t much in the way of commercialism. Just a small kiosk where you could get a drink and a hot pie. Mrs Macs I believe.

But we weren’t there for the pies, we were there for the view. Unfortunately, I don’t have a digitised photo from that time.

Around 15 years ago we once again visited Kings Park. The view was still there but a new adventure was in store for us. Not long opened was the new Federation Walkway with its elevated section and glass bridge.

And so, here we are once again, back in Oz and I felt it was time to revisit Kings Park and take another high level look at the city ……

Perth, W.A.

The views from the park are, as ever, amazing. Not just the city but the great expanse of water which is the Swan River and Matilda Bay, with a shore line that seems to extend for ever.

Swan River, Perth W.A.

The city still rises like an island from the sprawling suburbs which are spreading further and further towards the horizon in all directions. In my mind I often parallel my view of Perth with the conceptual city in Stargate Atlantis. Although high rises are, more recently, springing up further away from the city centre.

Swan River – Perth W.A.

However, the most noticeable thing, is how dense the high rises have become within the city centre. New buildings are seemingly filling every gap and are now spilling onto the foreshore.

In a previous post I mentioned what the city planners had allowed to happen to the Bell Tower, calling it architectural vandalism. Built in 2000 the bell tower stood proud as a Perth icon. It seems the vandals are still at work. What was once a clean, fresh looking city skyline is now becoming a jumbled mess. A couple of years ago Elizabeth Quay opened with great fanfare and celebrations. Since then the tower developments have continued. Having swallowed the bell tower, they also oppressively overlook Elizabeth Quay.

I have to say that, from Kings Park, it looks a mess. Nothing stands out. The only way to see Elizabeth Quay is from one of the river cruise boats.

Perth W.A.

So, in my opinion Perth is in danger of becoming a smudge on the horizon. Meanwhile Kings Park is a gem. A place where folks can escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Where they can get back to nature, either making use of the various lawns and park benches, or walking the forest ways.

From that humble kiosk, dispensing Mrs Macs pies, Kings Park now boasts a gallery, a large eatery and visitor centre. Here we partook of toasted sandwiches and cold drinks.

Kings Park is also home to various war memorials and artworks …..

Visiting Kings Park should be on every Perth visitors todo list. The views are gorgeous and the surroundings peaceful. The park and river are the lungs of the city.

Come and enjoy.

P.S. And if the city planners are listening. Please do not spoil this fabulous view by allowing a cable car attraction to be built between Kings Park and Elizabeth Quay. The additional traffic would also spoil the tranquility.

Mugging at Local Beauty Spot


After our visit to Cohunu we drove out to Serpentine Dam, or more precisely The Cafe On The Dam for lunch. We have visited before, the food is very good and the location good too. Well away from the hustle and bustle of city suburbia and where you can see the local wildlife.

During the course of our meal Steve was mugged by a Kookaburra who, along with his parrot accomlices, took the opportunity to raid Steve’s dinner plate and stole some chips. At the same time the errant bird knocked over his cold glass of Lemon, Lime and Bitters, drowning his Chicken Parmigiana, salad and fries.

Unfortunately, there is no CCTV footage of the crime in progress but I did manage to get some mug shots of the perpetrator and his accomplices.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt during this despicable crime.

Cohunu Koala Park


Earlier today we spent a delightful couple of hours at Cohunu Koala Park. The park is located near the town of Byford, just 40 minutes drive away from the city of Perth in Western Australia.

According to their own website ….

Come and make friends with some of the unique Australian fauna living in the park. Stroll the bush tracks and pathways. Hand feed many of the free roaming animals. Have a chat with over 30 talking parrots, see dingoes, kangaroos, emus, deer and koalas, just to name a few of the animals that live at the park.

Needless to say I had my camera to hand so here are a few snaps of the, always photogenic, creatures.

First up are the Koalas, after which the park is named ….

Never the most dynamic of animals, the Koalas were, for the most part, sleeping.

Again, from the parks website ….

The Cohunu Koala Park colony was established in 1982 with the arrival of 4 koalas from South Australia. It now boasts more than 25 koalas in its colony. Our colony in Western Australia has an increase of approximately 4 baby joeys each year.

Koalas are marsupials, the female carries its young in the pouch for 6 months then on her back for a further 4 months.

Koalas live almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves which have a poor nutritional value, thus to conserve their energy koalas sleep 18-20 hours per day, rarely drinking but relying on the water content of the eucalyptus leaves.

18-20 hours is pretty close to the sleep time for the average teenager. I wonder what their excuse is ?

Next up, here are a few Kangaroos. Also mostly asleep but there are a few that were hopping around.

It must be the heat that makes the kangaroos seek shady corners to doze in. They certainly didn’t seem to be too interested in the popcorn that we offered them.

Unlike the birds, and in particular the biggest bird on the planet, the Ostrich.

Two examples certainly made light work of the popcorn that we offered them. And, when shown empty hands, scarpered pretty quickly. I guess it was cupboard love after all.

One of the nice things about Cohunu is the fact that many animals are allowed to roam pretty freely. Although they may be kept segregated to different areas, Joe Public is still able to get up close and personal.

The pony, above, made itself known by nudging each of us in turn. Usually in the rump, as if to say “Gimmee the food”. It followed us round until, I guess, it got bored. Certainly the Emu was quite inquisitive too. Due to their size, they can be fairly intimidating but they are small when compared with the Ostrich. The Kangaroos didn’t seem to be phased by close proximity of us humans.

One species not encouraged to mix with us humans was the Dingo, although this one did seem to be quite friendly. At one time coming over and sitting by my feet, the two of us separated by wire mesh.

Dingo – Cohunu Koala Park

I got the feeling he was just looking for some company although, even mine wasn’t good enough, and he took himself off to the shade of the pipe.

In their blurb, the Cohunu folks claim to have over 30 talking parrots. Of course that is probably true and I am not here to dispute that figure. All I can say is that I am glad they weren’t all speaking at the same time.

Many did indeed say hello and at least one seemed to be apologising although we couldn’t work out what for. They are all characters and at least one let rip with the loudest bird call I have ever experience at close quarters. The repeated shriek fair rattled my ear drums. Here are just a few of the residents.

All that remains is for me to show you some snaps of some of the other residents of the park.

Also to be found around the park are a number of unusual creatures.

All in all, a very enjoyable visit.

This One I Want To Take Home

Araluen – An Afternoon Stroll


Monday and it’s time to clear out of the Perth suburbs and get some fresh air. Where better to go than Araluen Botanical Park.

We have visited a few times before but never tire of returning. There is always something to see and during the week, in term time, so tranquil. There were only a few cars in the car park and once we were in the park everyone was so spread out it was as if we had the place to ourselves.

 

Part way round the park we popped into Chalet Healy Cafe, where they prepared lunch, a very nice Seafood Basket for each of us. Each basket comprising fish, prawns, scallops, and fish bites with chips and salad. Very tasty.

On any visit to Araluen, you never know what you will see, as you follow the many meandering paths. On this occasion we were treated to a close up view of a bird of prey, too quick to be captured in a photo. A large, almost black, lizard that darted under the steps to the cafe. Around the pool there were several families of ducks, Terrapins and large gold fish.