Sorry it has taken me so long to write again. I am always owing someone a letter or a reply. I get tied up in doing things or else I go into some kind of fugue and wander lonely as a cloud through the vacant spaces of my own head. Last week my head was not vacant, it was full of mucus. I had a bit of a cold. Sore throat, cough, sore eyes and runny nose, so I had a few days off work. I vegetated in bed for most of the time when I could have been writing.
On the weekends I usually try to get out of the house, ride the bike somewhere and get some exercise by exploring the nature reserves with my camera. Just lately the weather has been too chilly and wet, and I have not felt like stirring from the flat. So I stay home, listen to music and do stuff around the place. I spend a lot of time cleaning and tidying up, and preparing food. Too much food. It is a comfort thing, I think. My latest invention was a chicken, leek and feta pie. Trouble is I end up eating it for 5 days.
I had a friend of a friend come and stay for a while. A chap called Tim Hayter. I had never met him before, but we got on quite well. It was quite good while Tim was here, we got out in the car a fair bit and explored some of the areas I was planning to ride to. One Sunday a couple of weeks back we explored the Stirling Ranges by car. I was showing Tim around the Great Southern, and so we did the trips I was planning to ride myself later; Down through Cranbrook, along Salt River Road and up Red Gum Pass. It was too wet to go by bike anyway. In summer I shall do it again. Now I have seen it, I can see it will be a great ride, when the road is dry. Some spectacular scenery but the weather was not really good for photos.
I took a load that I was not overly happy with. (Click this link to see them).
We hoped we’d see some wildlife, but all we spotted was an emu in the bush on the side of the road. By the time we had stopped and readied the cameras, it was gone. So we drove on at the ready but saw no more. After a pie and chips from a roadhouse on the Chester pass road, we drove down to Albany, just for the hell of it, and had a very quick look around
After I dropped Tim off in Kalgoorlie I realised how much I miss having company. So far in Katanning I have made no friends of the sort who drop by, or invite one over.
I even hung out in the pubs for a few nights, but the sort of people I met there were not the kind I would invite home anyway. Even three bottles of Strongbow original cider didn’t make them any more interesting or attractive.
I don’t like being alone. It was different in Fiji. I had friends with whom I could go to the pub or out to dinner, but the main difference was that Fiji was a temporary expedient – albeit, as it turned out, a particularly bad idea – and I had a home to return to. At least I thought I did.
But enough of that line of thinking. Have I mentioned that I have invented the extreme sport of hollowlogging? This involves finding hollow logs, and finding out what is in them. You can see pictures of me and Eric the Chicken in action here.
When I was in Ireland, and visited my Grandmother’s birthplace, I discovered in Quin near Ennis in Co. Clare, a memorial to Paddy Hannan, credited with discovering gold at Kalgoorlie. (click). Last week when I was in Kalgoorlie, I was reminded of this as I encountered a statue of Paddy in the main street
Kalgoorlie was a very interesting place. The amount of money being made – and spent – there is astounding. I was reading about a chap who made 15 million in one afternoon when he found a huge nugget just lying around somewhere that he won’t reveal. The gold in large nuggets sells for up to 7 times its intrinsic value, because collectors like big nuggets… Even a trainee truck driver, or trainee technical assistant (fitter’s mate), starts out on around 86k until their 3 or 6 month probationary period is over, then move onto at least 109k. And that is for 7 day on / 7 day off shifts. Pretty cool. One only has to work 7 days in a fortnight rather than 10. Sometimes the day is longer though. In any case it is not quite the 6 months per year that some mistakenly describe it, but a damn sight better than unemployment, and better than many other forms of employment. What the hell am I doing being a health inspector? Surely some of my technical background fits me for something in Kalgoorlie?
On the other hand, they work really hard for their money there, whereas this job is easy and reasonably well paid. I cannot and should not complain, I have subsidised accommodation, a much better retirement plan than I could get in NZ (and I need one – I lost my NZ retirement fund in a rather unequal three way division of the spoils between me, 10%, June 50% and the IRD 40%) and here I have no real stress to speak of so long as I don’t think of the IRD and the 20 grand I still owe them. Don’t ask why June got away without paying half my tax bill! My lawyer convinced me not to prolong the fight.
But I digress. I was talking about my job. I can do the work with both hands behind my back. After the roles I have fulfilled over the years being a country town EHO is just going back to my roots. It is pretty mundane here most of the time. The biggest crisis I have to face is placating someone whose rubbish bin was missed by the collector, or trying to get some dozy old food premises operator to wear his hair covering. I spend a lot of time inspecting old brick churches (we have about 25) and community halls (about the same) to make sure the congregation or community can safely escape in the rather unlikely event of conflagration. I also had a lot of fun GPS mapping our landfill and refuse site, and writing its operational plan. The Shire has just booted the contractor who ran it (badly) and taken over operation itself.
Some excitement coming up soon. They are sending me on a bushfire-fighting course. That should be interesting.