Frustration – Update


07/04/2020 – Update

This morning I tried calling BA and, after 40 minutes of once again listening to “that tune”, I was eventually connected to one of BAs agents.

After explaining that the BA app would not help me sort out a booking for the Perth / KL leg of my journey, even though I had seen flights available on the Malaysia Airlines site, the agent put me on hold while she tried to sort out a flight.

When she came back, she informed me that the flight that I had seen, with availability yesterday, was fully booked in both Economy and Business classes.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But I am still frustrated that there is no proactive help from BA.

After all, I booked tickets for all of my journey with BA. Their partner airline has cancelled the flight and my feeling is that BA, in sending the email notification have just washed their hands of the issue. If I don’t keep harrassing them then they will forget bout me and my wife.

So, the agents advice is that I should wait until next month to see how the worldwide airline network is looking. That, in May I should try booking flights via BA again and in the meantime, just sit tight.

Of course, that is all well and good. In May I can choose to either re-book, accept a voucher for future air travel or I can request a refund.

If I go down the refund path then I am fully responsible for my own travel. At the moment I have tickets, bought at October 2019 prices. Who knows what the prices will be for future flights.

Who knows how many of the major airlines will still be in existence since most are already requesting government handouts, are laying off thousands of staff and have grounded most if not all of their fleets.

This is a complex problem and I guess I will revisit it in May.

06/04/2020 – Initial Post

This is my first post with a Coronavirus link. Don’t panic, I’m not about to join the ranks of covidiots. What, I am about to share, is my frustration with the folks that I contracted to take me home.

Last October, my wife, Gerry, and I flew out to Perth WA. We booked return tickets with British Airways (BA), the flights being London to Perth via Kuala Lumpur (KL). BA serviced the London / Kuala Lumpur leg and partners Malaysia Airlines serviced the remaining Kuala Lumpur / Perth leg.

The outward journey was almost trouble free, apart from a little glitch over boarding cards for the KL / Perth leg. However, we duly arrived in Australia, met up with our family and here we have been ever since.

Little did we know, at that time, what the world had in store for us. In fact, little did anybody know.

So up pops Covid-19 or Coronavirus, throws the whole world into chaos. Not the least of which is the worlds airlines.

A short while ago I received an email from BA informing me that my flight from Perth to KL is cancelled. Of course behind this cancellation is the fact that Malaysia closed its borders to all foreigners. Amazingly, the KL / London leg is still scheduled.

Which is where my frustration comes in.

The BA email provided links to change my flights or accept a voucher … aka … IOU or grab a refund. Since I still need to get home I chose to explore the flight change option.

Of course things are changing so rapidly I didn’t really expect this to go smoothly. However, I was surprised that the BA supplied link came back with the following …

This was a surprise since I had already been on the Malaysia Airlines website and it was indicating flight availability.

It seems that the BA app can only see BA flights.

So, I thought I would try going direct to Malaysia Airlines. After a surprisingly short wait I was connected with a very pleasant lady. I explained my dilemma, she called up my details on her system. She then politely explained to me that she cannot transfer my booking to a new flight.

The reason for this, is that my tickets are not on Malaysia Airlines “ticket stock”.

This confirmed, apparently, by the ticket number commencing with “125”. Bottom line was that I had to go back to BA. Obviously I need to speak to a real person, not an app.

The BA Customer Service number is for an office over east. What that means is by the time you get up in Perth, they have all gone to lunch. It’s obviously not that bad but it might just as well be.

I listened to the “all our customer service reps are busy” message many, many times. In between messages, I listened to an ear bleedingly tinny recording of the BA theme, The Flower Duet from Léo Delibes Lakmé. Not the beautiful operatic version but one that sounds like it is being played on a National Steel Guitar recorded through a length of steel pipe. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the National Steel Guitar. Over and over I listen while waiting for a customer service rep. After an hour I have a headache and have lost the will to live. Eventually, I hang up. Resolved to call again tomorrow, earlier.

I used to like that tune.

Frustration


This is my first post with a Coronavirus link. Don’t panic, I’m not about to join the ranks of covidiots. What, I am about to share, is my frustration with the folks that I contracted to take me home.

Last October, my wife, Gerry, and I flew out to Perth WA. We booked return tickets with British Airways (BA), the flights being London to Perth via Kuala Lumpur (KL). BA serviced the London / Kuala Lumpur leg and partners Malaysia Airlines serviced the remaining Kuala Lumpur / Perth leg.

The outward journey was almost trouble free, apart from a little glitch over boarding cards for the KL / Perth leg. However, we duly arrived in Australia, met up with our family and here we have been ever since.

Little did we know, at that time, what the world had in store for us. In fact, little did anybody know.

So up pops Covid-19 or Coronavirus, throws the whole world into chaos. Not the least of which is the worlds airlines.

A short while ago I received an email from BA informing me that my flight from Perth to KL is cancelled. Of course behind this cancellation is the fact that Malaysia closed its borders to all foreigners. Amazingly, the KL / London leg is still scheduled.

Which is where my frustration comes in.

The BA email provided links to change my flights or accept a voucher … aka … IOU or grab a refund. Since I still need to get home I chose to explore the flight change option.

Of course things are changing so rapidly I didn’t really expect this to go smoothly. However, I was surprised that the BA supplied link came back with the following …

This was a surprise since I had already been on the Malaysia Airlines website and it was indicating flight availability.

It seems that the BA app can only see BA flights.

So, I thought I would try going direct to Malaysia Airlines. After a surprisingly short wait I was connected with a very pleasant lady. I explained my dilemma, she called up my details on her system. She then politely explained to me that she cannot transfer my booking to a new flight.

The reason for this, is that my tickets are not on Malaysia Airlines “ticket stock”.

This confirmed, apparently, by the ticket number commencing with “125”. Bottom line was that I had to go back to BA. Obviously I need to speak to a real person, not an app.

The BA Customer Service number is for an office over east. What that means is by the time you get up in Perth, they have all gone to lunch. It’s obviously not that bad but it might just as well be.

I listened to the “all our customer service reps are busy” message many, many times. In between messages, I listened to an ear bleedingly tinny recording of the BA theme, The Flower Duet from Léo Delibes Lakmé. Not the beautiful operatic version but one that sounds like it is being played on a National Steel Guitar recorded through a length of steel pipe. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the National Steel Guitar. Over and over I listen while waiting for a customer service rep. After an hour I have a headache and have lost the will to live. Eventually, I hang up. Resolved to call again tomorrow, earlier.

I used to like that tune.

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.