VALE WILLIAM EDWARD BRYANT, 21st FEBRUARY, 2020.

WILLIAM EDWARD BRYANT, AFFECTIONALLY KNOWN BY EVERYONE AS  'BILL.'
WILLIAM EDWARD BRYANT,  AFFFECTIONALLY KNOWN BY EVERYONE AS, ‘BILL.’

When Bill passed away after a long illness, his sister, ‘Polly’ asked me if I would deliver an eulogy for him at his funeral service.

Bill had been a close mate of mine for over twenty years and I was proud to accept.

The following is a precise of that eulogy.

‘Bill,’ as he preferred to be called was a genuine, fair dinkum, Aussie bloke and I loved the way he always called young women, ‘Darlin.’   Bill said those words in such a way that the young ladies always laughed and smiled. No one ever took offence.

My knowledge of Bill began many years before I met him in person. That was because SWMBO grew up with Bill and his family. Together, Bill, his sister, brother and SWMBO enjoyed a great country childhood full of adventure and fun.

Although Bill was the youngest in the family, SWMBO remembered him vividly and often told me amusing stories about him. So, when I first met Bill, it wasn’t like meeting a stranger and our close friendship began.

Bill was a man of imposing stature. He carried himself well, was always smartly dressed and well groomed. He even had a favourite hairdresser and he spoke of her in glowing terms.

We shared a love of bicycles and often talked about training methods, equipment and the maintenance of our bikes.  How to endure the pain associated with long distance, fast cycle races was often a topic for us.  Bill proved that he wasnt just a bike rider. He was a genuine, committed cyclist. As a member of the local cycle club, Bill trained hard and competed in the Goulburn to Liverpool cycle races, almost 200 klms of undulating countryside. On one occasion Bill would have been in his grade’s final bunch sprint had he not punctured close to the finishing line and couldn’t continue.

As a perceptionist, Bill’s cycles were full Campagnolo equipped. This Italian Group Set, as it is described, was engineering perfection and was used in those days by leading international cycle teams competing in the annual Tour de France.

Then there was his love of model cars, boats and planes. He was a regular, welcome customer at local specialty model retailers and he had a keen sense of which models would become a collector’s prize. His collection today recognises that fact.

In keeping with his commitment to detail, his models have remained in their original packaging and boxed condition. They represent a genuine investment on Bill’s part, not frivolous spending as some might think.

Here are just two examples from Bills vast collection.IMG_0475

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Bill also took great pride in his car and it was always professionally serviced at the specified mileage. Bill ensured that the tyre pressures were at exactly the recommend presure with deep and undamaged tread.

However, there was a lot more to Bill than just collecting models, racing push bikes and looking after his car.

Bill lived in the family home for the greater part of his life. When his mother passed away, Bill and his father, affectionally known as ‘Chummy’ occupied the house and as Bill’s health began to deteoriate, Chummy cared for him.

Chummy instilled in Bill the fact that good tools were essential if a craftsman was to produce good work. Bill observed that advice to the letter and his toolkit of hand and power tools leave absolutely nothing to be desired.

On one occasion I sought Bill’s assistance to complete a photography assignment that included a portrait. Bill agreed on the proviso that if the photo involvied having to pose he would decide how he would be  involved.

I agreed.

Here is one of the images that met Bill’s requirements, complete with a drill he purchased according to Chummy’s recommendation. It’s his step adder too. Always the perfectionist.

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Then, as Chummy aged, the rolls were reversed and Bill looked after his father.

Bill was well known around his home town and was highly respected. It would be a safe bet that everyone who knew him would have an interesting ‘Bill’ anecdote to relate.

Bill was a lover of good food,particularly a good steak, cooked to his liking. He particularly liked the way his steak was grilled at a motel restaurant not far from his home and he invited SWMBO and I to dine there with him one evening. The moment we entered the dining room, Bill was greeted like royalty.  We were ushed to his favourite table. His preferred red wine was produced without a word being spoken and SWMBO and I ordered from the menu. The staff knew exactly what Bill wanted and, sure enough, when the meals arrived Bill had a fine steak complete with chips and a salad.

When it was time to leave, I went to pay. That was the first time I heard Bill in full voice. People driving past the motel, radio playing at full volume, air conditioning on, windows up and engine reving whould have heard every word Bill uttered, even if they were wearing ear plugs. Bill firmly informed me that I was out of order.

On another occasion, when Bill was satisfied that I was competent to drive and  understood the location and operation of all his car’s controls, he suggested I drive his Toyota sedan when SWMBO and I took him to lunch at his favourtitew pub in nearby Crookwell.

As we approached the first decent gradient on the Crookwell Road, Bill directed me to push the ‘power button’ on the transmission tunnel and informed me that by so doing we would maintain the same speed up the hill without pushing further down on the accelerator. Then, as we neared the top of the rise, Bill, in full roar directed me to switch the power button to off inorder to save fuel. That was Bill, roaring and thus ensuring that he got his message across.

Bill was  always in employment until his failing health made full time work impossible. Never one to sit on his hands, he enrolled at the local TAFE and learned to touch type. He followed that up with a Small Engines course and learned to rebuild lawn mower engines, whipper snipper motors and repair chain saws. That course was followed by enrolling in the TAFE art school where he learned to draw using  pencil and charcoal together with oil and water colour painting. He produced some great images that are his sister’s pride and joy.

Bill passed all of his TAFE examinations. His aptitude, determination and approach to his TAFE studies were recognised and rewarded by the local TAFE and the TAFE’s Sydney Head Office administration.

Despite all of his accomplishments Bill was unable to re-enter the work force and this hurt him greatly. Never the less he remained positive, active and enjoyed doing his shopping, banking and taking care of his house and its gardens. He also assisted me in establishing and maintaing quite a number of native trees, shrubs and grasses around Casa Creakingbones. He proved to me in no uncertain terms that he had a ‘ green thumb,’and knew what he was talking about when it came to horticulture.

Recently I was fortunate to read all of Bill’s references that he had received from past employers and also from his school days. Each reference was full of praise for Bill’s atitude, work commitment and competence.

Bill was employed full time at the NSW Teachers College until 1984 when the college was taken over and recreated as the NSW Police Academy.  Bill’s services were retained as a general hand by the NSW Police when he satisifed all of the Police strict security and character requirements.  I was aware that Bill served for ten years at the NSW Police Academy,  finishing there in 1994.

Amongst his references I was delighted to come across one from the Police Academy’s Marketing and Customer Services Co-ordinator  which outlined in glowing terms the important and successful role Bill played in fulfilling the Police Academy’s aims and objectives. No easy task I can assure you.

One of Bill’s assignments required him to collect the daily mail from the local post office and on return record and distribute it across the vast Academy.    Because of traffic congestion at peak times in the central business district and the limited parking around the post office,  it regularly delayed Bill in distributing the mail.

The Academy Senior Police management soon solved Bill’s dilemma. He was sent to the Police Driving School and quickly passed the exams thus becoming a fully qualified police driver.

Thus qualified, Bill was allocated the Academy Commander’s V8 Holden sedan complete with siren and flashing blue lights for the mail run. Thereafter Bill was never delayed, red lights, limited parking at the post office and slow traffic were no longer a problem. Sirens and flashing blue lights certainly assisted in meeting the job requirements.

On another occasion, Bill was in charge of all Academy stores. His absolute adherence to established store protocols ensured that no proper paperwork, no stores issued.

In one famous incident a group of highly trained, heavily armed special weapons and operations squad members arrived at the Academy to engage in special operations training. One problem though, they had neglected to bring some of their heavy calibre rapid fire weapons.  Off to the stores they went and on arrival, they ordered Bill to make the Academy’s arsenal available to them. They certainly ordered the wrong man.  No paperwork, no entry. They made frantic phone calls. Bill’s stand was fully supported and the training operation was cancelled.

There are many other anecdotes about my friend Bill that I could share with you and perhaps when we gather for a beer or two after his service concludes we may do just that.

Good bye my friend. I’ll miss you. We shared many fun times together, especially at Christmas and on other public holidays when we all went to the South Coast or into the wilds of Bungendore for a feast and fun.

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CHRISTMAS IN THE WILDS OF BUNGENDORE.
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RELAXED IN THE WILDS OF BUNGENDORE.
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JUST BILL AND HIS FAVOURITE MATE.
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THE EYES HAVE IT WHEN YOU’RE UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL.

 

Hoo roo.

DROUGHTS AND FLOODING RAINS.

I’ve taken the liberty of pinching the words of my heading from Dorothea Mackellar’s famous Australian poem, ‘My Country’ that she wrote as a 19 year old in 1904.

In the second stanza of the poem Mackellar wrote:- ‘I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains’.

Her poem epitomizes our climate here in the Land Down Under and for the last couple of years we have experienced a national drought followed by massive bush fires that  caused enormous destruction during the latter part of 2019 and into February this year.

Additionally, the bushfires created massive areas of smoke haze, so much so that people with breathing problems were advised to remain indoors and the wearing of face masks was recommended. In fact, our local pharmacies were offering their customers free masks. They were uncomfortable but at least made breathing easier and safe.

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A small price to pay for clean air.

Here where I live, the drought’s impact required the local council to impose water restrictions that limited household usage, maintenance of gardens and of course, car washing.

The Wollondilly River which runs through our City was reduced to a trickle and it dropped over a meter below the top of the Marsden Weir.

Then came the rain. Not just a sprinkle here and there but massive falls, some in the north of Queensland  in excess of 500mm a day.  Most of the Nation received good falls and our City and surrounds didn’t miss out. Some local farms received up to 100mm.

Our main water catchment, Peejar Dam is now at 100% capacity and the water restrictions have been lifted.

Then, the floods arrived, Queensland has been strongly hit as has the eastern seaboard of New South Wales and many inland areas.

Here in our City, the Wollondilly River broke its banks and the water volume was such that whole trees were uprooted and carried down stream, over the Marsden weir and onwards towards the dam many kilometers away.

The water level has now dropped.

I was able to make the following images from the road bridge over the river.

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A nice goanna heading for high ground beside the Wollondilly.

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Marsden Weir overflow.
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Looking towards the weir using a variable neutral density filter on the camera lens.
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Flood waters over the river side walking/cycling track.
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Part of a large tree floating down stream.
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Looking upstream towards the road bridge.
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Around a bend down stream, the water was a little more placid.

Over the next few days, the river will drop to it’s normal running depth and any damage to the walking/cycling path and its lighting system will be repaired. At the same time an assessment will be made of any debris left in the river as the flood subsided and the action that may be required to clear the water way.

To end on a positive note, the grass outside Cassa Creakingbones will require mowing this weekend.

Bummer.

Hoo roo for now.

 

FEEDING NATIVE BIRDS DURING DROUGHT AND BUSH FIRES THAT HAVE CAUSED SEVERE HABITAT DAMAGE.

Here in the Land Down Under we are blessed with many native birds and regular back yard visitors are often from the parrot family.

Generally, feeding of our native birds is frowned upon as it encourages them to neglect their normal eating habits in favour of bread scraps and items of that nature.

However during times of drought, bushfires and floods which are a regular part of our natural weather cycle, it’s not unusual for families to feed the native birds that come foraging in  back yards.

Here at Casa Creakingbones we fortunately are out of the fire zones but the severe drought has compelled our local Council to  introduce water restrictions.

Again, we are fortunate that years ago when we sank a bore we discovered that we can draw up to 3,000 gallons of water an hour from the two acquifiers which pass about 30 meters or 100 feet below the surface of our block.

Of course we don’t squander this great resource and limit its use to watering our native trees and grassed areas.

Our flourishing green native trees attract many species of native birds with Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Carellas often in quite large mobs. Their calls are a  pleasure to listen to and their antics around the place are quite hillarious.

There is only one down side to the pleasure they give and the culprits, in the main, are the Suplhur Crested Cockatoos. You see they really enjoy cleaning and scraping their large and powerful beaks on the timbers that are exposed on the exterior of Casa Creakingbones.

Not structually damaging, just untidy and expensive to continually replace.

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Fortunately all of our windows are framed in aluminium making them immune from attack.

However, the seeds and grasses favoured by the parrots are few and far between and have been so for quite some time and many of we town dwellers have taken to feeding real seed to the visitors. That way we are not harming them as does providing scraps of bread and stale biscuits etc.

Our large Australian parrots have a real liking for sunflower seed, either the grey or the black variety and fortunately supermarkets and pet food suppliers usually have the seeds in stock. However, feeding with loose seeds encourages unwanted visitors like Pigeons, Starlings, Indian Minors and otherspests to join in uninvited.

Our supermarkets stock the ideal answer to the loose seed issue. They have a great product called, wait for it, ‘Bird Munchies – Sunflower Seed Block.’

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It’s just a matter of tearing off the wrapper and hanging the block in a handy tree.

Here are a few images of this morning’s breakfast session on a Sunflower Seed block:

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As the weather improves and the natural environment again provides the  feed that these birds thrive upon, avian breakfast at Casa Creakingbones will gradually be off the menu and all of our feathered friends will depart, only to return when next the weather conditions again turn crook.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

HENRY LAWSON – AUSTRALIAN POET ON AUSTRALIA AND ITS BUSH FIRES.

The current Australian Bush Fire Season has apparently started earlier than usual.

The severity of the wide ranging bush fires across the nation this season has drawn international attention  because of their ferocity and the extensive destruction of bush land and pastures, thousands of homes, thousands of farm buildings, motor vehicles and equipment together with the shocking loss of human life and the death of millions of native animals and birds.

Bush fires, drought, flood and temperature fluctuations( both up and down the centigrade scale) are common place in this wonderful country, ‘Down Under’.

Without entering into the ‘Globing Warning’, debate, our weather patterns have been written about and been the subject of verbal debate for centuries.

One only has to read Dorothea Mackellar’s epic poem, ‘My Country’,  written in 1904 to learn about ‘A Sunburnt Country’ with it’s droughts and flooding rains.

However, the poem that most sticks in my mind is Henry Lawson’s 1911 poem, ‘ A Bush Fire.’

Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson, 17/6/1867 – 2/9/22 was one of Australia’s best loved and admired writers and poets. His work centres on the Colonial Period and his novels and poems depict Australian life duringthat time.

Here is Lawson’s poem to which I refer:

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I found this poem to be quite moving and its few lines so well describe the way  our bush fires spread so rapidly and with such destructive force.

I encourage you to read more of Henry Lawson’s works and I’m sure you will also enjoy those of Dorothea Mackellar.

Hoo roo for now,

Perc

MASSIVE BUSH FIRES SAVAGE PARTS OF NEW SOUTH WALES.

The Australian landmass has always been well known for its droughts, floods and bushfires.

The country has been enduring extreme drought conditions for over a year now and water restrictions at various levels have been implemented in many areas.

Although Casa Creakingbones is connected to the town water supply, many years ago SWMBO and I had contractors sink a bore and we also installed three 20,000 litre rainwater tanks. These mesures have ensured that at least we can  retain some green grass around the house and if circumstances require it, our rain water tanks can be utilised for drinking water and household use.

Fortunately, our town is generally not endangered by bush or grass fires.

However, for the past few weeks many areas of Australia have been ravaged by ferocious bush fires including areas less than 100 klms from here.

The South Coast of New South Wales is a summer/Christmas/New Year holliday destination for thousands of people and its beaches and natural beauty are second to none.

However horrendous bush fires are now burning across hundreds of kilometers of the South Coast with mass evacuations and power, communications , fuel and food either unavailable or in short supply. Over 50,000 homes along the South Coast are now without power.

Since last Monday the 30th December 2019, seven people have perished in the fires, people are missing,  small towns have been totally destroyed and hundreds of houses and out buildings have been razed to the ground by the fires.

The Bush Fire Brigade volunteers and professional firefighters are doing a magnificant job protecing property and saving lives. They are being assisted by the armed forces who have been committed by ther Prime Minister, Scott Morison.

Total fire bans have been declared in many areas of the State, including our local government area. This means that even the outside use of BBQ’s is totally prohibited.

The main impact on us is air quality. For a few weeks now, like the Sydney metropolitan area, many  town on what is known as The South West Slopes have have been enveloped in smoke haze generated by the bush fires.

As we are residents of the South West Slopes, air quality has become a major problem, particularly for sufferers of asthma of whom I am one. Venturing outside for any length of time is risky, particularly if physical activity is involved.

Here are a few images taken around Casa Creakingbones in the last week or so:DSC_1083

SUNRISE ON 31/12/19

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SUNSET 1/1/2020
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LOOKING NORTH FROM CASA CREAKINGBONES 7.20AM ON 22/12/2019
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LOOKING SOUTH WEST FROM CASA CREAKING BONES 7.25AM 22/12/2019

 

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LOOKING NORTH ACROSS THE ROAD FROM CASA CREAKING BONES, 11.10AM ON 20/12/2019.
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LOOKING TOWARDS OUR TOWN’S CBD, 11.15AM, 20/12/2019.

The weather forecast for next Saturday, 4th January, 2020 is for temperatures in excdess of 40 degress celsius or 104 degrees farenheight if you haven’t gone metric.

Either way, it’s going to be bloody hot.

However, please spare a thought for the people across NSW and the rest of Australia who have lost everything in these dreadful fires.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.

My ‘A LUCKY FIND’ blog the other day sent me rumaging through my files to see if there were any other bits and pieces that recorded some of the events in which I became involved during my thirty four years as a member of the New South Wales Police Force.

What I found sent me on a journey back in time from my start as a Probationary Constable in May 1961 until my retirement in May 1995 at the rank of Chief Superintendent.

I was proud to wear these epalettes identifiying my rank.

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Wearing this insignia was a far cry from the simple number and NSW Police Force badge I wore on duty in 1961.

Way back then, a workmate took this photograpoh of me when we were performing duty on a public beach on the shores of Sydney harbour. It was every uniform policeman’s wish that a strong gust of wind would blow our summer helmet under a bus. That didn’t happen to this helmet until my wish was granted in Wagga Wagga in about 1964.2019-12-06-0001 copy.jpg     As was the process way back then, not long after I’d successfully completed my 12 months as a Probationary Constable I was transferred, without notice, ‘In the Interests of the Service’, from Sydney  to rural Wagga Wagga in the Riverina district of New South Wales. As I was a single man I was graciouslly given a week to pack, find accommodation there and complete my move.

I during my five years on General Duties in uniform in Wagga Wagga and it’s surrounding police stations I learned a lot about policing and that experience served me well when I was transferred back to the City of Sydney in late 1967.

Then, in March 1968 I was transferred to  a plain clothes investigation section at the Criminal Investigation Branch(C.I.B).

Then on Sunday, April 21st, 1968 the fun really started.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper on 22nd April, 1968 ran the following story:

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The Telegraph’s coverage was followed up by this article in Everybody’s Magazine  on the 1st May, 2068

2019-12-06-0004   I was attacked from behind by a man who attempted to tear my eyes out but I was able to arrest my attacker and one other man. By that time a very large angry mob had gathered and they were eventually dispersed by uniform police who arrived on the scene in large numbers.

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Me.1968 copy 2  Fortunately my injuries were not serious and after I’d charged the two offenders I was photographed for evidentiary purposes and taken to the Sydney Eye Hospital where my injured eyes and facial injuries were treated and I was discharged.

After a week or so of ‘Hurt on Duty’ leave when my wounds had closed and I could see without too much difficulty, the Police Medical Officer cleared me as ‘Fit for Duty’ and I returned to work to continue with my normal investigative duties with no continuing anxiety or distress.

At a later date my assailant returned to court, pleaded guilty and  was dealt with appropriately. I was extremely happy with the Court’s decision.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A LUCKY FIND.

A few days ago a friend and I were having a yarn about a book called, ‘Bradstow, a study of Status, Class and Power in a small Australian Town’, authored by a G.R.A Wild.

The book is about Bowral, a small town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It’s been long out of print but used copies occasionally pop up on the net. If you feel inclined look it up on Google. It’s worth the effort.

Anyway I told my mate I’d lend her my copy. Unfortunately the volume is nowhere to be found in my book collection.

    Now, during my search for the book I came across something totally unrelated and it was indeed, A LUCKY FIND.

   My find had absolutely nothing to do with the first three paragraphs above.

Now, back  in the Dream Time.

Before I retired I was the leader of what was known as ‘The Policy Unit’. The Unit’s task was to analyse arising issues and develop appropriate responses for implementation.

On this occasion the Policy Unit was developing responses to a long list of recommendations arising from a Commmission of Inquiry into the organisation conducted by an eminent Judge.

From time to time the Unit’s responses to the Commission’s recommendations were not well received by the areas of the organisation concerned and the same applied to the personnel impacted by the responses.

Often, the grievences were made directly to the Minister of the Crown responsible to the Government of the day for the Department and this was one of those occasions.

As a consequence I was a regularly summoned to the Minister’s Office to advise on implementation progress and what steps were being taken by the Department to ensure that these specific recommendations of the Commision of Inquiriy would be implemented in full.

My frequent Ministerial visits drew the media’s attention and were often reported in newspapers and occasionally on TV news bulletins and interviews.

One positive outcome of the media’s attention was being sent for specific media presentation training that I received from a firm of consultants.

Now, back to my LUCKY FIND.

Tucked away in the index of my book collection I came across a cartoon that related to my time in the Policy Unit.

Here it is. I had to touch up the Policy Unit printing as it wasn’t clear in the original.POLICY UNIT

The Bulletin was always a top publication and one I always enjoyed reading. It was founded way back in 1880 and continued in circulation until it’s last issue in January 2008.

By the way, the Policy Unit recommendations I referred to above were fully implemented.

Hoo roo for now.

TIME GOES BY SO SWIFTLY.

Its hard to believe that it was on the 6th September, 2018 when I last posted here on WordPress.

Things certainly haven’t stood still here at Cassa Creakingbones during that time.

Age has suddenly crept up on SWMBO and myself with the inevitable increase in health issues, both major and minor for the two of us. As a result I’m now SWMBO’s official carer and many adjustments have been made by both of us to accommodate the changes that have taken place.

One casualty of the changed circumstances was quitting my volunteer role as Photography Tutor for a class of nearly twenty mature students at the local University of the 3rd Age (U3A), an organisation for advanced learning.  The local U3A offers over sixty courses including Astronomy, German, French, Spanish, Yoga and Thi Chi for example.

A further casualty was my motorcycling. During the past four years I’ve only  travelled a mere five hundred and fifty kms on my beloved Harleys.

However, a couple of great motorcycling mates and two of my health advisors whose advice I value, have, over the past twelve months or so, gently lectured me on the need to ‘get out more’ when the opportunity presents itself.  Putting it bluntly, that meant, ‘RIDE YOUR BLOODY HARLEY.’

Once a week SWMBO has a supervised day away from home in what is known as Respite.

Knowing she is in safe hands and well cared for, the day gives me the opportunity to undertake activities that are not possible at other times.

Have I taken the opportunity to ride?

No.  Why?

Firstly the winds have been too strong to make a ride totaly unenjoyable. Secondly, SWMBO has had a minor surgical procedure with post operation attention that requires regular home treatment.  As her carer, that’s my responsibility.

Thirdly, and probably the most significant reason is that my two wheel riding confidence has severely diminished and I’m delaying my return to the road until my confidence is restored.

To assist in the process I’ve purchased a new pair of kevlar lined riding jeans and another pair of Harley sun glasses. I’m feeling more confident already and I’m preparing to venture out as soon as SWMBO can return to her Tuesday respite regime, weather permitting of course.

Here it is, my 2019 Harley Davidson FLHCS, minus the removeable touring windscreen. In common parlance, Harley owners refer to this softail as a Heritage Classic. It’s been a popular Harley for many, many years and with  its new and more powerful engine sitting on a brand new softail frame it’s sure to retain its popularity.

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Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEMORIES, OR LACK THEREOF, ARE MADE OF THIS.

As I was growing up, books and reading formed an important part of my life. In fact, I was surrounded by books. My father was a bibliophile, my mother was not far from becoming one and I must confess that now, I too almost fit that description.

From my father I inherited a love of the classics,  Roman and ancient Greek history, biographies, poetry and, dare I say it, Shakespeare .

From my mother I inherited a love of novels, particulalry where mystery and crime were the theme with a good plot and,  poetry.

Even with the advent of ebooks, ipads and the like, the printed volume remains my reading choice, particularly when travelling or relaxing.

Poetry has always been a source of great pleasure for me, particularly the works of the great Australian bush poets of whom I intend to make the subject of a future post.

British poets, and to some extent those hailing from the United States have also fascinated and enthralled me and that brings me to todays heading.

A few nights ago I was watching a program from the BBC about a couple who were roaming  through Shropshire looking to purchse a property to turn into a bed and breakfast.

As the show progressed and more of the delightful Shropshire countryside was revealed, I remembered how much I enjoyed A.E.Houseman’s poetry, particularly,’ A Shropshire Lad.’

I knew that somewhere in my collection I had a copy of his ‘Collected Poems’ that contained the poem, ‘A Shropshire Lad,’ and I set about to locate it.

Lo and behold, find it I did, a 1961 edition of ‘The Penguin Poets’,  priced at five shillings and sixpence, tucked away on the top shelf of one of my book cases.

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Now 1961 was an important year for me at it was my 21st birthday year and making the purchase of ‘A Shropshire Lad’ way back then must have had some significnce for me but if that was so, I can’t recall what that may have been.

Anyway, I skipped straight to reread the various sections that comprise the whole poem and I was horrified to find that page 38 was dog eared.

I’d learned from a very early age that a book lover would never, never, stoop to dog earing a page. That’s what bookmarks are for.

Here’s the offending page, image courtesy of my iPhone taken just a few moments ago.

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PAGER 38 – A.E. HOUSEMAN, ‘A SHROPSHIRE LAD,’ PENGUIN 1961 EDITION.

The discovery of the unwanted dog ear gave me cause to wonder if any other pages had been so damaged and how it had occurred.

As a result I returned to the very first page of the book and made another discovery.

Here it is, courtesy of the iPhone taken just  few moments ago:IMG_0203

Now to save you searching for a copy of ‘A Shropshire Lad,’ I took the liberty of photographing, again with my iPhone, pages 38 and 43 and here they are in sequence:

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PAGE 38
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PAGE 43

Once again I was presented with something I would never do nor encourage others to do and that is make notations on a book’s pages or underline.

Now I often lend books to friends and in recent years I’ve kept a basic list of the names of individuals to whom I’ve loaned a book or books.

But way back when?  In those days I always relied on my memory.

Here we are in 2018, fifty seven years after I purchased the book.

Who is ‘Carole?’ I haven’t the slightest idea. I can only surmise that ‘Carole’ was a close friend to whom I had loaned the book. Perhaps the two stanzas on page 43 are indicators of this. The second last line on page 38 indicates that I may have been twenty two at the time of the loan.

I guess when one is young and green, Houseman’s lines,

‘ And now the fancy passes by,

And nothing will remain,’

are true indeed.

Perhaps being unable to remember can be a good thing.

One interesting memory that has come back to me after this little exercise is Palonius’s advice to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

‘Never a borrower nor a lender be for loan oft loses both itself and friend and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.’

Hoo roo for now.

 

HOW TIME JUST FLYS BY……OR……OUT WITH THE OLD(ALMOST) AND IN WITH THE NEW.

It seems a long time ago but in reality it was only on 20th July 2017 that I took delivery of a new 2017 Harley Davidson FLSS motor cycle.

Here it is in all its glory:2017 FLSS _DSC6453 copy

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The bike had to be run in, 1,600 klms in all, before the engine’s full potential could be unleashed. As deliverd, this model Harley had been factory fitted with a Screaming Eagle performance motor and a few other bits and pieces to transform it into a genuine weapon.

Over the following two weeks I rode about 350 klms, adhering strictly to the running in procedure and enjoyed every minute, with a some exceptions.

Firstly, this Harley was fitted with an hydraulic clutch. After 25 years riding Harleys with cable operated clutches I felt that it would take forever for me to master this new Harley technology.

Secondly,  there was my problem with the ergonomics. The standard seat, although comfortable enough seemed to place my knees in a position that was slightly uncomfortable and my feet felt wrongly positioned on the foot plates.

Thirdly, after I replaced the original seat with an aftermarket one I found the riding position was first class, but, it was like sitting on a pile of broken house bricks. Problem far from solved.

Whilst all of the seating arrangements were being sorted out I decided to add a quick release Harley windscreen to the bike. This is where the forth problem arose.

To match the bikes colour I needed a windscreen with the connecting mechanism in black chrome. When it finally arrived, normal chrome had been supplied, minus the attachment kit.

Back to the supplying dealer, change over no problem. The new screen and all the correct attachments arrived post haste. Problem solved? Unfortunately, no, which led to problem five.

I’d ordered an 18″ screen. Only 21″ was available.  On this occasion the problem was solved by a local motor cycle expert modifyer who swiftly reduced the screen from 21″ to 18″ as perfectly as one delivered direct from Harley Davidson.

Now you might think that all of these little issues were over and done with but the seat problem still exixsted.

Finally to solve problem number three I ordered an Harley Davidson Sundowner two up seat.

It fitted the bike like a glove, looked perfect but there was only one problem, let’s call it number five.

The new seat put me too far forward towards the fuel tank, so, back to my friendly motor cycle modifyer where the seat was slightly modified and hey presto, all problems solved.

I took it for a run and after about 60  klms I found the new bike was perfect.  It not only looked great, it’s performance, even though not fully run in was subperb. And best of all, it seemed to be very comfortable to ride.

On arriving home after totting up a total of 120 klms I found it extremely difficult to dismount. My neck, lower back, left arm and wrist seemed frozen in place.

Finally I made it inside. I wasn’t cold, even though it was mid July and the outside temperature was hovering around the 8 degree centigrade level.

When I could move unaided, I got the bike back  into its shed and secured it to the floor.

Shortly thereafter,  another series of events, totally unrelated to motorcycling  took place at Cassa Creakingbones, effectively stifling my general activities, including motorcycling.

The months dragged by, my beautiful, yes that’s the correct description, Harley FLSS sat in the shed, chained to the floor and attached to the battery minder. Every time I approached, I imagined the bike begging to be taken out of the shed, ridden, shown off and returned with the oil heated, the tyres warm and the odometer proudly recording more and more kilometres.

Unfortunately the situation at Cassa Creakingbones hadn’t changed and tearing off into the countryside was still out of the question.

The final days of 2017 came and went, PC-99 still sat, unused and alone in the shed.

Then, late in March 2018 I got a call from an old motorcycling mate who told me that he’d been into my favourite Harley Dealership to kick a few tyres and whilst in there, the Dealer Principal told him that there, amongst the new 2018 Harley Davidsons was the perfect motorcycle for me.

I’ve been dealing with that one dealership for over twenty five years and I obviously value their advice and the way they look after me as a customer. Interestingly, on reflection I can recall their advice that although the customer is always right, I was barking up the wrong tree with the FLSS. How right they were.

Anyway, I had a long yarn with a local professional I respect and she advised me that I should place Cassa Creakingbones unfortunate issues on the back burner for at least one day a week, circumstances permitting, for my own good and get out and about, solo.

The very next day SWMBO and I headed down to Sydney and straight to my favourite Hartley Dealer.

There, in gleaming vivid black was the Harley my mate and the Dealer Principal had described as perfect for me.

In true Harley rider style, I threw the leg over the seat, grabbed the bars and stood the bike up. Turning to SWMBO I asked if I passed the, ‘How do I look,’ test.

Her answer was in the positive. Very positive in fact. I immediately felt relieved.

If you don’t look good on the Harley then it’s not the bike for you.

I only looked good on the FLSS because there was no chrome, just all black. Hardly the shop window test.

To cut a long story short, grasping the appropriate Harley Brochure we returned home and I studied everything I could about the 2018 Harley Davidsons and read many, many rider reviews. I was cautiously convinced that my mate and the dealer were correct and began to plot and plan for a future acquisition.

Then to my surprise I read a wonderful piece here on WordPress extolling the virtues of the new Harley Davidson engines and monoshock suspensions on the Softails, not to mention the significant weight savings thanks to the new frame.

Next day I set the wheels in motion and on Friday 13th April, 2018 my brand spanking new vivid black 2018 Harley Davidson Dulxe (FLDE) was delivered my door.

I experienced no feeling of loss when the FLSS was loaded into the back of the dealer’s van and driven away towards Sydney. All I could think of was hopping on the FLDE, tearing down to the motor registry and retreiving my PC-99 registration plates that I’ve had on my Harleys for yonks.

So here is the new pride and joy, resting on a piece of artificial grass outside it’s personal garage:

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I’ve clocked up 257 klms now and although I’m adhereing to the running in rules everything I’ve read about the performance of the new Softails is absolutely correct.

On this Deluxe model, the steering is crisp and exact, in fact the bike is far more twitchable than any of the Harleys I’ve previously owned.  The front and rear suspensions are absoluterly the ants pants, cornering is enhanced, the brakes leave nothing to be desired and, to my great satisfaction, the clutch has reverted to the cable actuation method. Good on you Harley Davidson engineers.

The standard seat is comfy and places my knees in a comfortable spot with my feet positioned correctly and comfortabley near the foot controls.

In standard form there is a toe only gear selector lever. I’ve always used the heel and toe Harley system and fortunately provision is made for conversion to the old way. Of course I’ve had that carried out. Perfecto.

A quick release windscreen is on the way together with a few other little goodies to increase the shop window impact.

Am I a happy little chappie( usually the term is happy little vegemite) and I reckon this new Harley will fulfill every one of my motorcycle expectations.

Hoo roo for now