Escape to the Country

Oh; what a breath of fresh air. Literally.

This weekend is the first chance we have had to get out and go somewhere – different. I just wanted to get out of the city. Anywhere would have done. In the end we went for a well-trodden tourist destination, but it was so worth it.

Go West Young Man…

As it turned out we headed west to the famous Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains National Park to give it its full title, is a huge area covering some 267 thousand hectares. It is part of the Great Blue Mountain World Heritage Area – an area of a million hectares stretching for 230 kilometres along its ranges.

It took nearly two hours of driving to get there but it was well worth it. Beautiful scenery and open space. Of course, there was the usual crowds of tourists (just like us) but nothing too bad.

First Stop Wentworth Falls

With the mountain range covering such a huge area it might be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, the more famous areas and vantage points that you see in all the travel brochures are clearly signed.

First stop was Wentworth Falls. Parking was tight. We had to do a couple of laps of the car park until someone left. It was one out, one in. Dani needed to stretch his legs, so we set off walking. We spent an hour there including climbing down to the source of the falls. Here is a taste of some of the sights.

  

On to Katoomba

Next top was Katoomba. Another small town – village really – with access to the mountains. This place has possibly the most famous photo opportunity in the area. The famed Three Sisters rock formation. You see it in all the tour guides.

The Three Sisters – The Blue Mountains most famous landmark

Three Sisters side-on

Scenic World

This area also has the ‘Scenic World’ area which is part nature part theme park. It has two cable cars and the world’s steepest passenger train ride (apparently). The train descends over 300 metres at an angle of 52 degrees. That’s 128% drop (or climb) in old money (or is that new money? – I never know).

We took the cable car over the 300m gorge then the train down to the rain forest where there was once a coal mine. After a 10-minute walk we reached the 2nd cable car which took us back up to the cliff top. The back across the gorge on the 1st cable car.

Dani watching the train ascend

Along the way we met this little fella. At first Dani thought it was the venomous redback spider. It turns out that this fearsome looking rascal is a harmless ‘red and black’ spider. Similar name for obvious reasons but perfectly safe. We called him the red jumper spider as it looks like he has a red jumper with his eight black arms sticking out.

Our “red jumper spider”

I really needed to get out of the city. This first experience of countryside and mountain air did me the world of good. It totally tired the little boy. He fell asleep in the car while we were still winding our way past other Blue Mountains villages on our return to the big city.

More please…

Many of the tour groups we saw today would have been those on a flying visit. This was their one day, tick it off the list, sightseeing of the Blue Mountains. Been there and got the T-shirt.

Not for us. Now we are familiar with the area we can go back again. And again. Please. If it was up to me, I would go there every weekend.

School Swimming Carnival – What a Location!

Dani’s school have their annual ‘swimming carnival’ this time of year. In the UK we would call it a swimming gala. The swimming carnival took place yesterday at the Drummoyne Swimming Centre. I urge you to look it up on google maps and zoom in an out to get the perspective. What a stunning location!

An Historic Location

This place is right on the Sydney Harbour waterfront. An Olympic sized pool that will have been used for countless swimming events and has featured heaps of famous swimmers. I am actually a little envious of the little boy. He gets to swim like an Olympic superstar.

Here are some views of the pool from the main road bridge and from the starting blocks side.

At the entrance there is a gallery of some of the high achieving past members/competitors of this  famous swimming club. One caught my eye immediately. In 1971 Shane Gould broke the world records for the 200 metre and 800 metre freestyle in this very pool. The following year she won three gold medals in the Munich Olympic games and broke the world record in each race. She was still only 15 years old. I remember her well because she was one of the stars of that games, which was the first Olympics I can really remember.

Read what else it says about Shane Gould. She truly was phenomenal.

The School Swim

Basically it runs like this. The event is a ‘house’ based competition. Everyone is expected to take part but not forced to. The school has three ‘houses’. they are named after the local beaches; Bondi, Bronte and Coogee. Dani is in the Coogee house. Every swimmer gets at least a point for taking part so every event counts as does every child. Before the day I thought that the younger kids would take part in only one event each. It turned out rather differently – read on…

Races and Results:

Much to my amazement they had even the youngest kids competing in all four swimming strokes.

First the ‘freestyle’ race. So called because you are free to swim it however you can. But as the aim is to win the race everyone chooses to swim what is referred to as ‘front crawl’, the fastest stroke. In this particular event I think the term freestyle meant exactly that. It was funny.  Young and free spirits thrashing about trying to attract sharks. Doing what the hell they want in the water with little thought for style and technique. Or so it appeared. But they are only young and their technique will get better. The older kids prove that – see below. Dani came in second to last.

This race was his first in a pool this size and I thought he was going to pass on it. But he was chatting to his friend Winston at the start. Winston is a year older than Dani and the chat was all one way. The reason became apparent once the race started. Winston was not a very good swimmer. But whenever he stopped to catch his breath Dani also stopped to check on him. Some mate eh? But at the end Winston beat Dani when he should not have.

Second, every age group did a backstroke race. Dani can do this stroke quite well but came in last. Awww… Never mind eh?

The third event was breaststroke. The last time I was in a pool with Dani he was quite good at this. He came in 6th – out of 8. So more points on the board.

Finally they actually had the kids doing butterfly! Blimey. Even I struggle with that one. Dani has never even tried it as far as I am aware. But he watched what the others were doing and gave it a go. Over a full length of an Olympic pool. God lad! He came somewhere close to last, if not last. Actually I think it was 6th. Out of 7 ! By the time Dani had finished there was a sudden downpour of rain. It passed and none of the kids seemed bothered. Half of them were already wet..

Overall Result?

Which house won the swimming carnival?
Coogee of course. Did you need to ask?
With the help of a few points earned by little Dani…

I was a little surprised to see that they made even the little ones do all the Olympic strokes. But as I said above it is no wonder Australia has won so many swimming medals over the years. Could Dani be joining the likes of Shane Gould on the wall of fame in the future? Not on the evidence of today. But that doesn’t mean I am not immensely proud of him for what he did. And before too long he will be beating his old dad…

The Older Kids

It is quite obvious why Australia produces so many swimming medal winners. With facilities like this one – and there are many around Sydney and every other city in the country – it is bound to happen. Judging by the quality of the swims by the older kids in just this one small school I can confidently predict the medal haul to continue.

Some of the 10 year old girls swimming butterfly looked like future Shane Goulds in the making. I was very impressed with their technique and speed at this most difficult of swimming strokes. The boys too. So you see Dani and his buddies will definitely improve over the years. I just hope they all keep it going.

A final word for the older kids who watched over the youngsters’ races and dived in to help and coach them along when needed. Fantastic stuff and wonderful to see.

Film Review – Richard Jewell

One of the advantages of being settled into our apartment is that I can now visit the cinema during the day while Dani is at school. On Tuesday Dani finishes a little later which means I can now get to watch a movie that I would not be able to take him to see after school. There are a few I wanted to see over these next few weeks.

One of them was Richard Jewell, directed by Clint Eastwood.

The Plot

In 1996 during an Olympic Games celebration at Centennial Park in Atlanta a pipe-bomb exploded killing one and injuring over one hundred. Richard Jewell was a security guard at that event and was the person who discovered the bomb (as a suspicious package, back-pack actually). His quick thinking and reporting to the police undoubtedly saved many lives. Initially he was declared a hero by law enforcement and media alike. However, later things started to turn sour when, during FBI investigations a former employer of Jewell comes forward with tales of how he had acted outside his jurisdiction while serving as a security guard at a college campus.

The FBI decide that Jewell is a lone white male, living with his mother who is a “wannabe” police officer. They believe he fits a “profile” and that he panted the bomb so he could “discover it” and be the hero. Ultimately hoping to join the police force in recognition of his bravery etc…

Once Jewell realises what is happening he calls a lawyer (Watson Bryant) who he had more or less befriended when he was a clerk at a public law firm several years previous. Bryant, now a struggling solo legal operation, soon realises Jewell is innocent and does everything he can to help him.

Although Jewell was never formally charged the story goes deep into the heart of trial by media and false allegations by character assassination.

I cannot spoil it as this is all based on the real events. Jewell is taken off the suspects list and eventually gets an apology and a job in the police force.

The Cast

Jewell is played magnificently by Paul Walter Hauser. His mother ‘Bobi’ Jewell is played by the well-known actress Kathy Bates.

Sam Rockwell is excellent as Jewell’s friend and lawyer Watson Bryant. I think Rockwell is one of those under-rated actors. The main roles that spring immediately to my mind are as William “Wild Bill” Wharton in The Green Mile (1999) and Justin Hammer, the arms producing nemesis of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 (2010). But Rockwell has been in movies since the late 1980s including: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heist, The Call Back, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Frost/Nixon and Vice – to name but a few.

Clint and Conclusion

Eastwood the actor was never that great for me. Sure, I always liked him and he was in many enjoyable, even great, movies. Some of which I have watched multiple times and could do so again. As a director however Eastwood is becoming a master of telling the true life story. American Sniper and Sully were two of his other ‘real life is stranger than fiction’ masterpieces. Both excellent films. Richard Jewell is equally well told and is both gripping and emotional.

I remembered the park bombing in 1996 but did not recall hearing or reading about what happened to Jewell. Even if you know the full history it would not spoil the viewing and I can thoroughly recommend this movie.

Another Aussie Cinema thing…

The theatre was sparsely populated due to the time and it being the day’s first showing. Initially I thought there were only four pensioners. Five if you count me! But the Aussies seem to come in late, just before the start of the movie. They do not seem interested in the trailers for other movies. Personally, I like all that. It is part of the cinema experience.

How Many ‘Degrees of Separation’ are you from Thor?

In all the excitement I almost forgot. Or did I do this already? It is all a bit confusing with so much going on. Anyway, apologies if this is a slight repeat but Dani did his ‘show and tell’ research for a famous Australian. He went for Chris Hemsworth in the end. Hardly surprising as he doesn’t really know any Australians but he does know Hemsworth’s alter ego (i.e. most famous role) – Thor! One of the Avengers and a regular in movies in the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU). Anyone notice how I slipped that acronym in there? Down with the comic lingo and all that…

Two Degrees of Separation?

The most impressive thing about Dani speaking about Thor – sorry, I mean Hemsworth – is this: Dani’s Spanish grandmother knows Hemsworth’s father and mother in law. That’s right. Hemsworth is married to Elsa Pataky who is from Madrid. Her father was in college with Dani’s grandmother – admittedly some years ago now… The class still have the occasional reunion and there have been times when Elsa’s father has mentioned that they have moved back to Australia etc etc…  Well next time they have a college reunion Dani’s grandmother can respond in kind. She can now say that her grandson is also living in Australia.

Degrees of Separation Explained

This is a case of ‘two degrees of separation’. Isn’t that what they call it? The main one being ‘Six degrees of separation’ whereby you should theoretically have a link to anyone on the planet within six people.  The idea is that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of “a friend of a friend (of a friend etc…)” can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

So, for example; Dani knows his grandmother who knows Elsa Pataky’s father who knows Chris Hemsworth. Is that two or three degrees of separation? Ah who cares? Close enough. The point is, if you know Dani, then you are only three (or four?) degrees of separation from The Mighty Thor!

Even if you don’t know Dani but know me, then you still make to Thor (aka Hemsworth) within the six moves. Let us know if you have a ‘six degrees of separation’ tale to tell. Are you within the six of anyone more famous than Hemsworth?

Furniture, Fights and a Piano

We finally moved out of the apart-hotel and into our apartment. Last night was the first night we slept there. So far all is fine. But it has been another full and hectic weekend…

Another Busy Weekend

Moving luggage, buying furniture and trying to buy more furniture but failing. It has been almost non-stop. The ‘failing to buy furniture’ involved a second-hand dining table and chairs. A rather nice set actually, and a bargain. But it would not fit in our bloody hire car and was difficult to take apart. I had no option but to leave it. In the end we bought a new but cheap one. Even though we have a dining table en route in a container we need one right now. This new one will serve as a desk at a later date. Somewhere for Dani to do his homework.

The weekend finished with a visit to a pub to watch a heavyweight boxing word title rematch. A very hyped dispute between one Tyson Fury (UK) and a certain Deontay Wilder (USA) over in Las Vegas, Nevada. How I would have loved to have gone there. I actually looked into it. From Sydney you can fly via Hawaii to Vegas. That would have been a great trip. But of course, having been here only one month it was always just a dream.

A Different Time

It seemed very strange watching a live fight from Vegas at a sensible hour of the day. The boxers entered the ring at around 4pm Sunday. It would have been 5am in the morning back home. And 11pm Saturday evening in Nevada. Dani really enjoyed it. We saw the previous two fights on the under-card also. Dani picked the winner in all three bouts. I must start putting some bets on when he comes out with his sporting picks. He does seem to get it right more than anyone I know.

Tyson Fury won the main event convincingly in case you don’t know…

Waiting for Internet

As discussed in a previous post we still do not have an internet connection. I am writing and posting this from the local library but will need to return home soon to meet the NBN installer. Even that will not be the end of it. The internet service provider is a different company (see earlier post here) and they are supposedly mailing us a modem to connect to the NBN device. Nothing has arrived yet.

Dani hits the keyboard – but not the computer this time

Dani also acquired a small electric piano this weekend. Courtesy of a Cash converters store (so yes, it was cheap). Most of the kids in Dani’s class are learning to play a musical instrument. For many it is the piano. For others it is the violin. I think the sound of a kid not being able to play piano beats one not being able to play a violin any day of the week. Hands down!

Personally, I would have chosen the recorder for him. It was actually a third option too. Much cheaper, far more portable and best of all a very quick win in producing some bearable tunes. I was over-ruled by both Dani and his mum. What do I know eh?…

Sonic the Hedgehog – Film Review

After school yesterday I took Dani to the cinema to see Sonic the Hedgehog. As he finishes at 3pm and there is a cinema in the shopping centre near his school it is a great opportunity to go and see the type of films he likes. A very convenient time slot.

I was never into video games, but I do remember the Sonic character being one of the early popular games on the SEGA consoles. The game is back in vogue – apparently.

Some Cast Members

The thing that caught my eye about this kids’ movie was that Jim Carrey plays the chief villain. Back from what seemed to be a short-term exile. Back to his nutty best.

Dani’s nana always said that Carrey was like Jerry Lewis on speed. And there was certainly the odd scene where he exhibited such qualities. Like he had never been away.

Naturally the star of the show was not even real, but he was voiced by a real actor. Ben Schwartz; who it turns out has been in quite a few movies but mostly ones I have never heard of. Although he did play the voice of BB-8 in the latest Star Wars movies. That’s odd. Doesn’t that BB-8 droid only make R2D2-like squeaking noises? Hmm…

Plot – Spoiler Alert

Sonic comes from some other planet. I really wasn’t paying attention at the start but if you know the game then you probably know the place. When he and his guardian (a female owl) are attacked she gives him some magic golden rings. Each ring can open up a gateway to other places. Even other planets. He ends up escaping to earth where he lives in the woods near a small town in Montana, USA. Funny how all aliens in films end up in America isn’t it?

Despite being able to do what he wants – as he is too fast for anyone to see – he realises one night just how alone he is. Then, in frustration, he unwittingly unleashes his supersonic powers which cause a power outage in the whole state. This attracts the attention of the military top brass who unleash Carey’s character, Dr. Robotnik, to search for the cause of the power surge. Dr. Robotnik uses his intelligent drones and robots to discover and then try to capture Sonic.

While running from the drones Sonic ends up in the home of the local sheriff (Tom) who he befriends. Dr. Robotnik turns up at Tom’s house and when the sheriff and the hedgehog escape Sonic loses a blue spine. The two new friends quickly become fugitives being pursued by the increasingly crazy Robotnik. The mad scientist soon discovers that Sonic’s spine has immense powers that he can harness. This makes the final chase and fight scenes a lot more even.

And so on… Enough of the plot spoiling. Hey, some of you may even want to watch this movie.

Suffice to say that there are some hyper-active scenes. One of which ends in a bar fight where Sonic does his lightning fast thing on the bullies.

Conclusion

I could tell that Dani loved the film, although he rarely lets on too much. I enjoyed it too. Much more than I expected. I would recommend this film to anyone who has young kids but also to anyone who ever played the SEGA video game. Finally, of course, this movie is worth consideration for any cinema buff. If only for the chance to see Jim Carrey back on the big screen.

Aussie Cinemas

Oh; and a top tip if you want to go to the cinema around here. Take a jumper or jacket. It is freezing. It is not a good thing when these indoor places are over air-conditioned. It’s like travelling on the trains here. They are too cold. Then you have to come out into the hot and humid streets. Not unlike Madrid in that respect.

NBN Anyone?

We have only a few more days in the aparthotel. While the apartment is habitable, we have not got our container which is probably somewhere in the Indian ocean as we speak. Hopefully still on board the container ship. Apart from the obvious things like fridge (check), Washing machine (check) and furniture (ahem… still working on that one) there are other things to consider. These days one of those is the internet. Hardly an essential but still a (very) ‘nice to have’. Although in this day and age many people (of a certain age group) would say it is more important than running water. Not much hope is there in a decade or so time?

Apologies. As usual I have digressed slightly…

Welcome to NBN

NBN anyone? What? Nobody has heard of it or knows what it means? No; me neither. At least not until last week.

NBN stands for ‘National Broadband Network’. As the name suggests it is a nationwide government controlled broadband internet provider. A government owned monopoly no less. The corporation tasked with designing, building and operating all this is NBN Co Limited (now known simply as nbn).

Sound Familiar?

Now wait a minute. If you live in the UK or know a lot about its political parties this may sound more than a little familiar. Read these quotes taken directly from a document produced in December 2019.

We will establish British Broadband, with two arms: British Digital Infrastructure (BDI) and the British Broadband Service (BBS). We will bring the broadband-relevant parts of BT into public ownership, with a jobs guarantee for all workers in existing broadband infrastructure and retail broadband work. BDI will roll out the remaining 90–92% of the full-fibre network, and acquire necessary access rights to existing assets.”

“We will deliver full-fibre broadband free to everybody in every home in our country by creating a new public service, boosting the economy, connecting communities and putting money back in your pocket.“

And, in case the penny hasn’t yet dropped…

“Labour will deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030.”

Yes. This was part of the Labour party manifesto for the UK general election in December 2019. An election in which, it is widely stated, that they got slaughtered. And policies like this were considered to be largely to blame for the scale of their defeat. Yet here in Australia this is more or less exactly what is happening. It has been ongoing for some eleven years now.

I will freely admit that I too mocked their nationalised broadband plan. Maybe they just failed to explain it properly. I certainly don’t recall them comparing their plan with something already up and running in Australia. Odd that…

Where they went wrong

Instead of the Labour party explaining that they want to do something similar to an existing system in Australia, they added this socialist clap-trap – and this is what most voters picked up on. But only after strongly mocking the idea as a whole.

“BBS will coordinate the delivery of free broadband in tranches as the full-fibre network is rolled out, beginning with the communities worst served by existing broadband networks. Taxation of multinationals, including tech giants, will pay for the operating costs of the public full-fibre network. The plan will boost jobs, tackle regional inequality and improve quality of life as part of a mission to connect the country.”

Unfortunately for them, people are starting to see through this kind of Utopian bullshit.

My Concerns…

Back to the Aussie NBN. This is the bit I am concerned about. Taken from one of those wiki pages:

There has been a significant failure of the NBN to deliver nominal performance to end users. There has been contention between RSPs and NBN on the reasons for this. Bill Morrow, then CEO of NBN, admitted in 2017 that 15% of end users received a poor service through the NBN and were ‘seriously dissatisfied’

Note: RSPs are Retail Service Providers. The same as Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Europe. These are the companies that the government (NBN) allow to use their network. For a fee of course.

We shall see. I still need to get it installed and up and running. Interestingly the standard of service I have received from the retail RSP (not NBN) has so far not been great. Judging by their initial lack of ‘support’ this could become a series of grumpy old dad posts. Today for example it took me three calls of 10 minutes each before I actually got to speak to a human. Listening to those recorded messages is soul destroying. Although, I suppose this is typical when dealing with any large company. BT or Sky, in the UK, or Movistar in Spain – to name a few.

If there are any issues with our NBN connection I will be writing these blog posts from the local library while going round telling everyone that NBN actually stands for No Bloody Network!.

I will keep you posted. One way or another…

House Sorting Blues

So, we have an apartment. But what we don’t have is a key to get into the building. An owner/tenant cock-up for sure.

Oh; and the building has a name (as well as a number), as many do here. I never noticed it when we first viewed the property. But when we turned up to collect (half) the keys I spotted it. Immediately!

Savile – One “L” or two?

To anyone from the UK the name ‘Savile’ has two instant meanings. One is the famous London street Savile Row, where the rich and famous go for their tailor-made suits and handmade shoes. Well known but hardly visited by the majority of the population. On the other hand, to most people in the UK, the name Savile conjures up images of one seedy, horrible, now thankfully deceased and sick individual: Jimmy Savile.

The odd thing is that the building name is spelt with double “L”; but look at it. One of the letters has fallen off. How spooky is that?  An omen? I am sure a lot of people will see a funny side to this, however. So called ‘gallows humour’ being what it is in the UK. I admit that I am among the many who share the dark humoured social media jokes about Jimmy Savile.

Here it is. The building with a spooky name?

Good bunch of Guys…

After picking up half the house keys we picked up a hire car. Now we needed one. It was off to a shopping centre where they had those ‘white goods’ stores. We need the essentials. A fridge, washing machine and (curiously) a dryer. We managed to get a reasonable deal getting all three from the same store for just over $1000. Sounds a lot eh, but really not that bad. The store name is great too. ‘The Good Guys’. A household name in this part of the world.

Now that would have been enough for me. But as there were plenty of other things we needed it was off to find the nearest Ikea store. Having a car now, I could hardly make excuses, could I? As it turns out the nearest Ikea is right next to the airport. A worthwhile trip as the airport is a place I will need to know how to get to and from as and when we have visitors coming over.

The Joys of Ikea?

Ikea is like Marmite. Or should I say, Vegamite. You either love it or hate it. I fall into the ‘hate it’ side of the debate. Ikea that is. I happen to love Marmite. And Vegamite too – which I only tried since coming here. Basically, they are the same thing. Same taste anyway…

I really can’t explain why I don’t like Ikea but after a certain amount of time in there I can’t wait to get out. I sort of understand why some people love it though. It’s cheap (and nasty) – they have simple furniture like the ‘LACK’ (of class) side tables for only a few dollars. It has more or less everything under one roof;  but at least 50% of the products you would never want nor need if they weren’t so bloody cheap.

Some items catch your eye because they seem to be well made and not cheap looking. The reason for that of course is that those items are not cheap. In fact, most of the decent products in Ikea are no cheaper than many other furniture stores.

Two hours later (!?) and seven hundred dollars lighter we made it back ‘home’ – to the hotel. At least I had the experience of driving around Sydney. Something I have to get used to of course. Easy for me, not so for Dani’s mum who has never driven on the right side of the road; ‘right’ as in ‘correct’. Meaning the left hand side.

The white goods were indeed delivered today (now Monday). But not without the usual cock-up and me hanging around for hours. Despite them texting me a 12.30 – 2.30 p.m. time-slot last night. Same as the UK then…

Cut to The Keys….

A day after picking up the keys we had the owners get us a copy of the building main entrance key. Then I had to get a new spare cut so as to hand back the spare. What a caper! Not quite a ‘nightmare’ – despite that spooky building name. Is it just me or does anyone else think that name is a bad omen?

Ah…Being able to settle into a routine in our own place is still a way off it seems. Such is life. Sometimes…

A Place to Live

We have finally found a place to live. It has only been three weeks but seems much longer as most of our spare time has been taken up looking for a permanent address. Rather, I should say, we have been accepted for a place that we applied for. It is not exactly what we were looking for but after three weeks in a hotel it’s time to compromise. When you accept a place, it is inevitable that within the next week or so you will see something which is exactly what you were looking for. What do they call that? There is a phrase for this kind of thing but right now it escapes me. Sod’s law maybe? That’s life though…

This Saturday, instead of zig-zagging across this part of Sydney we will be going to collect the keys to our apartment and starting to buy what we need so that we can move in at the earliest date possible.

Despite signing for this apartment I had two more property inspections booked in this week. The first one I wanted to see because both the apartment and the area looked great. But they emailed and texted me early yesterday morning to say that it was now off the market.  Then as the second of the two came closer I just thought; Nah, I can’t be bothered. For the time being I am sick of looking at properties. So, I texted them to cancel. That’s just the way it goes.

Parents Cocktail Evening

Last night we attended a parents evening at Dani’s school. We arrived late because the school had put a time of 7pm on their website. Then about midday I received an email that it was to start at 6pm. There was no way we were going to make 6pm as Dani’s mum only got back from work around that time and we had to arrange for someone to look after Dani (a colleague of his mum). These things are no longer easy when you do not have family close at hand.

Anyway, by the time we arrived we had missed the chat with his teacher and the chance to see the parents of his classmates. Well not quite. His teacher took us up to the classroom and gave us a quick rundown on what had been said. But by now all the parents were in the meeting area enjoying the drinks and cocktails. It was very noisy and very busy so we never really had the chance to find anyone to talk to. Apart from Dani’s music teacher who just happens to be the wife of one of the people Dani’s mum works with. What a Coincidence eh?

The evening was for kindergarten, year 1 and year 2 (Dani’s) and by now most of the parents of the year 2 kids had started to disappear. They have done it all before of course. There will be other events. After a couple of beers and wines we left.

Now we need to plan the move. The end is in sight. No more house inspections and we will soon be settled. I will then be able to get into a routine, do some of the things that I want to do and start having a proper look around the Sydney area. It’s time this part of our lives got interesting…

The Easiest Job in Australia

What do you think the easiest job in Australia is?

Film or TV star? Easy money and lots of it for sure. But they lose their privacy and are constantly hounded by the media/paparazzi.

Top sports star? Well, they do earn lots of money just for playing games. But no.

There is one job in Australia where they earn money and do not have to do anything (hardly) The title of easiest job in Australia goes to the real estate agent.

You’d better believe it…

Most agents cannot be bothered doing viewings more than twice a week. Even if they are just around the corner. Many only seem to do Saturday mornings.

The agents often don’t even visit the properties to check and confirm details like whether or not the cooker is gas or if there is a bath and/or shower. Minor details obviously. Trivial. Who the hell needs to know such stuff? Only maybe the perspective tenant; I guess… But the estate agents just don’t give a shit. You want to know the room sizes? In most cases forget it. And take your own tape measure. They hardly ever give a floor-plan. They can’t be bothered to go and measure up. Let alone draw out the information on a floor-plan.

Yet another failing is the lack of photos they put online. In this day of digital imagery, it costs nothing to make a few more snaps of a room or building does it? But once again they really can’t be arsed (i.e. bothered)

But here’s the thing:

They don’t have to do hardly any of those things mentioned above. After one Saturday morning inspection someone will make an offer and apply to rent the property. Round here the property would have to be completely ruined for it not to rent. There is a huge transient population in these areas so, all but the worst property is guaranteed to rent with or without an estate agent. And don’t they know it.

Try Viewing a Property

The websites say things like: “Arranging an inspection is easy! You can use our booking page to view available times to inspect and pick one that suits YOU.”

NO! YOU CANNOT!!! It’s a f*#king lie!

They only do one or two inspection slots a week. And one of those will definitely be Saturday morning. Quite often you will receive a text message telling you that the day’s viewing is cancelled. Sometimes that will be because the house has just been leased. Often it will be because they can’t be arsed going to the property just for one person to inspect it. So they wait till the Saturday inspections when they know it will be busy.

Here is another good example. I had arranged to visit a property at 1pm yesterday. I took a taxi. The driver didn’t have a clue where he was going. I had to tell him he had gone the wrong way. This meant I arrived a little late at the property. I phoned the agent. He told me that they had “taken a deposit just this morning” and then asked why I was there. I told him that he had called me two days ago to bring my original appointment forward. Ah. The penny dropped. At least he was apologetic. First verbally and then later via a text message and an email.

By the way, the taxi fare was a real rip off but at least I got to see some streets I hadn’t seen before. Very nice too. A little tour now and again is not a big problem. Especially when you are still getting to know the areas.

Every cloud…

It seems wild goose chases are the order of the day around here. But there is always an upside. This property was just around the corner from the Golden Sheaf pub (click to see photo in this earlier post). I concluded that it was about time I ventured inside. And very impressive it was too. Very large with a huge garden bar area and serving what looked like good food. Next time we can all go and have a meal. ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ as the saying goes…

Spot the Difference

Here is another great example of what goes on. When they can actually be bothered taking any photos, they often do this kind of thing…

The photo on the left is a still from a video taken by me during the property viewing. The other photo is from the website advertisement of the apartment.

Hello! Forget the different dishwasher for a moment. Where the hell did that sleek new oven and hob go to? Where did that crappy white cooker come from? At least the wall tiles remained the same colour. So not all bad eh?

As stated above, generally the estate agents can barely be bothered taking any photos. There may be only 5 or 6 photos for a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom property. If you are lucky. But as you can see here it is not only that they can’t be arsed to take photos; they then doctor them!

So, the obvious question has to be: How do I get a job as an estate agent? All jokes aside, it could be an option…