Kinross Parking Lot

We purchased in Kinross in mid-2008, just one month before the Global Financial Crisis would strike. About six months before we purchased our home Connolly Drive had been extended north from our suburb to link up with Clarkson to help alleviate traffic build-up on Marmion Avenue. Sadly for those of us living in Kinross that decision meant that the ability to exit the suburb became far slower if you didn’t depart before a given time, earning itself the nickname the ‘Kinross Parking Lot’.

One a good day it takes just a few minutes from my door to exit the suburb, however on a bad day where traffic decides to come via Connolly Drive in a big way it can ramp up to 25 minutes at its worst. This is exacerbated by the fact that I live on the easter half of Kinross, our half of the suburb has only Connolly Drive from which to exit whereas the western half has this or Marmion Avenue.

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Our (former) local member Albert Jacob fought to have the Mitchell Freeway extended, and through his persistent efforts the State Government eventually agreed to its extension. The extension has taken two years to complete and this Thursday finally opens, I can hard contain my excitement at the prospect of being able to exit my home at 7:50am in the morning and not worry if it might be a 20 minute escape plan, or just a regular one.

 

A lovely Winter’s day

I booked a night’s stay in Crowne Plaza Hotel in East Perth a few weeks ago as I had a dinner party I was attending just down the road and a late night return to my own home in the northern suburbs late at night was not something I was keen for. A few days beforehand the weather forecast was looking grim, heavy rain and winds due. Come Saturday it hadn’t improved one iota.

Driving to the hotel was stressful enough, I almost never venture into the city, and never to this side, thus I have no experience how to get there. Indeed, the last time I had been here was prior to major changes to the Perth foreshore to develop the new Elizabeth Quay. All I can say is thank god for Google Maps, it told me which lane I needed to be in in order to navigate the maze of roads, but for this app I would have certainly ended up somewhere else.

Arriving safely at my hotel and headed up to my room on the seventh floor keen to check out the view.

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I had a wonderful view of the pool and grass across the road, but the Swan River and South Perth further beyond were nowhere to be seen. The wind was howling, screaming through my sliding door, and the rain was heavy. I was now worried, I was going to have to walk in a few hours to my friend’s place, heaven help me if the weather was like this.

Thankfully the weather settled down come time to head off the Kath’s, it was just lightly drizzling by this time, to my total relief.

The following morning the weather was beautiful and South Perth and the Swan River were restored to the view from level seven.

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Sleep eludes me

I’ve never had much trouble adjusting to travel, this despite the fact that I cannot sleep on a plane to save myself. This was proven back in 2011 when after 40 hours awake I finally arrived in Calgary, Canada, hit the bed within 30 minutes of arriving at my hotel and was up and hitting the ground running at 8am the next morning. 

Having returned from two weeks in France just 9 days ago I have found this time I am definitely not hitting the ground running. I got home and after getting some food went to sleep for some 16 hours, then the next two nights I slept 11 hours a piece. I had thought on my first day back to work I was reset, I awoke nearer to my normal waking time, but the next day I nearly didn’t wake in time to go to work… oops!

I’m wondering if our being in winter has anything to do with my having trouble with adjusting, the mornings dark into 7am at the moment. 

My doctor prescribed me Melatonin this morning. I have never had this before, but she assures me it is wonderful at helping to reset the body clock. I hope so. 

French holiday ends

It’s hard to believe that several weeks can pass so quickly, but I think when you’re holidaying somehow time manages to move at a faster pace than when you’re waiting for that holiday to arrive.

My time in France was met with some particularly hot weather, the French kept assuring us that it was abnormally hot for June with temperatures ranging from 36 to 38 degrees most days and also humid. I’m not one for spending much time in the sun, thus I was the most obvious candidate for sunburn, I kept forgetting to apply the cream to protect myself, or reapply it when I had put it on. Thankfully by the time my Trafalgar tour returned to Paris weather returned to a more normal mid- to high-20s, though still humid.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to France was to finally use that French I’d learned in school all those years ago. For six years I’d learned the language, and achieved high grades, thus I was keen to apply that which I’d learned. It was immediately apparent when listening to the French speak I was never going to be able to keep up with them, or fully understand all that was being spoken, they were too quick and there was no way our classes could span the entirety of the language. I found it interesting between different hotels I’d stayed in that some used “etage” for floor/level whilst most used “niveau”.

One observation I made during my time in France related to French waiters and their confidence with English and taking orders. When in Rennes our waiter spoke very limited English, in fact most waiters in that restaurant indicated this, thus most in my group just pointed to the menu items when ordering. For myself, I chose to speak to the waiter in French hoping it would make the already nervous individual feel more comfortable, funny enough it didn’t. I found here and in other places despite ordering in their language often items never turned up, either they were on the bill (Rennes) and not delivered, or just not included at all (Tuileries).

I had a great time in France, as well as a day trip to visit the stunning Belgian city of Bruges. I very much enjoyed visiting the many old buildings, many of which pre-date European settlement of my own country, their utter beauty, craftsmanship and engineering skill leaving me in awe. Completing my third Trafalgar tour I am again glad I selected them as my tour company, I have again walked away with several new friends as I did from my first tour sixteen years ago.

One thing I think I have learned is that I really should upgrade my flying from now on to at least Premium Economy, the extra legroom is worth the added expense. Following my arrival in France, and after having walked around the Notre Dame area waiting for my hotel to become ready, that night I had the worst cramping in my right leg and did initially fear the worst that I might have a DVT. I had a massive bruise appear mid-way on my left thigh which really did scare me, it didn’t occur to me until two days later that it had been caused by a Paris Metro turnstile having jarred rather nastily against that thigh when I had to force my way through – I was much relieved once I recalled this.

Returning to Perth on the Wednesday flight I made sure to drink plenty of fluids and for the first time I swapped to the aisle seat instead of my usual window seat preference. The ability to jut my legs into the aisle for additional stretch not available within my usual seat was certainly nice, as was the ability to just get up every so often and not annoy someone to do so.

Now back in Perth it is a chilly 16 degrees celsius, though I think we may have been cooler today and had a crap load of rain, what a difference half a world makes.

Travels in France

I flew out of Perth on the 15th June for France on Singapore Airlines, excited as it was to be my first flight on the A380, which I had heard was supposed to provide greater leg room. Well I can sadly lay that rumour to rest, it was not a comfortable flight for me at all, it was warm and leg room was awful.

The net effect of my leg room issues was that the night if my arrival I had terrible leg cramps, primarily in my right leg, but also some uncomfortable ones in the left. 

Two days in I commenced a Trafalgar CostSaver Tour of France, taking in the sights at: Paris, Rouen, Honfleur, Deauville, Mont Saint Michel, Omaha Beach (D-Day), Rennes, Amboise, Tours and the Loire Valley chateaux. We started out with nice, mild weather, but by the time we left Paris for Rouen the weather warmed, and by the time we’d reached Honfleur a few hours later the sun was out in force and so to was the humidity. The heat remained with us for 5 days until our return to Paris, it made for hard going as we were often having to go up and down stairs in unconditioned historic buildings. 

Our Tour Director, Brian Tait, a half-American half-French man, was very good at keeping us on track, entertaining and informing us, and providing support for those who needed a bit of language assistance. On one evening we had an optional dinner out, a 37 degree day and high humidity, we were all a tad worried, and getting to our dinner venue nothing was allayed when upstairs the had only pedestal fans and windows that didn’t open. Despite this, our arranged entertainment was great, he got us involved singing various songs throughout the night, and later Brian joined in with mouth accordion and sang a French song, we loved it. 

As with my first-ever Trafalgar Tour, also a costsaver, where I made lasting friendships with some wonderful women in Mexico, I also made friendships with several women from New Zealand, Canada and the United States. I’ve found the people in the costsaver tours often mingled more, but also generally my experience with Trafalgar has been one of a company that encourages you to early-on get to know others in your tour, something I haven’t experienced with other organised tours sadly, something that always attracts my return. 

My Trafalgar Tour now over I have a few days now where I am doing day tours, the first to Versailles & Giverny, and the following day to Bruges in Belgium. Then, one free day before I fly home, I’m not looking forward to those return flights, I’m currently waiting to hear whether I will be upgraded (at a fee) to Premium Economy.

Paris terrorism, again

 

I cast my mind back to September 11, 2001 today with the events in Paris. On that day I was meeting up with my brother and his wife in King’s Park, Perth, they’d just flown in 2 days earlier from Europe and we were having a family get together. Earlier that morning of course terrorists had crashed planes into the twin towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

Rather than just being a usual family get together we’d expected you could see, naturally, the concern written across their faces; how would this affect their return to Europe in just over a week’s time. All around the world I guess everyone was in a state of shock, our world had changed for the worse. They did return home to Europe without a hitch, though interim directions from airlines and countries placed some limitations and requirements with travel.

Most might look upon those events and avoid or reschedule their travel plans, however I felt I could just as easily be hit by a bus crossing the road as be hijacked or be shot when travelling. Several days after I decided to book my first trip to Europe, to do tours of the continent and Britain with Trafalgar. I wanted to do first-class tours, and was initially booked on these tours, however due to events the first-class tour of Europe was cancelled and I ended up on the budget tour – this ended up being a wonderful turn of events as I made some wonderful friends on this tour.

Ever since the events of September 11th we’ve seen many terrorist-related attacks on western cities, for what reason I will never understand, it only serves to further alienate. Funny enough I am again to travel to Europe (France) in the coming months, again to travel with Trafalgar, though this time on a budget tour. The terrorist attacks in Paris today do have me wonder whether they will impact on my tour, the date for which I’ve already been forced to swap to an earlier guaranteed date.

I do wish these terrorists, irrespective of their faith or beliefs, might choose just to shoot themselves rather than inflict their hatred upon others, they are such a waste of space.

Bad and aggressive drivers

Here in Perth we’re often accused of being “shit drivers”, worst in Australia. I think it’s perhaps because our road rules are perhaps slightly different from those in the east, who knows?

One thing is for sure I have seen a crap load of awful drivers here in the 18 years I have been driving, and an awful lot of aggressive drivers over the past few years. Lately I have seen so many drivers rapidly weaving in and out of other cars, some dangerously close because clearly they are confident in their skill. Their aggression on the road is so evident, I have even experienced this sitting at the lights waiting for the light to go green, the very millisecond the light went green the person behind me tooted their horn, I was so annoyed at their impatience.

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The other day an inattentive driver, clearly had to be paying more attention to their mobile phone, hit a 23 year old motorbike driver sitting at the lights, he was sadly sent flying forward into oncoming traffic, his injuries so bad he eventually died; others were also injured as they’d caused a 5-car pile up. It makes me so mad that these drivers spend time on their phones and others are injured or killed as a result of their selfishness, I myself had a late-teens driver crash into me in 2014 when she decided the road deserved less of her attention than her phone.

Some solution needs be found to disable phones when we’re driving, to prevent drivers from making use of their devices to discourage access. Removing the temptation and distraction of these devices from those who clearly are easily distracted is a must. I wonder if perhaps a short-term solution is for our phone manufacturers to implement a speed detection mode, if detected it implements silent mode to prevent distractions to drivers.