Angry Old Dad does Coronavirus Rant

I know. I did one of these the other day. But I made the mistake of watching a bit of “news” on TV. And boy, it pissed me off!

I was going to file this one under ‘Grumpy Old Dad’ but I think “Angry Old Dad” would be better.

Open the pubs you ©*#%s

A few days ago, I included a short piece on the alcohol limits that have been imposed by ‘the powers that be’. I know; it was funny. That’s why I included it in the blog post (click here for that post). But since then – on TV – we have had to listen to some so called “experts” talking about people drinking in their own homes. Telling us how the government needs to clamp down on alcohol limits. Where the hell do they find these people? Under slimy rocks at the bottom of sewage ponds is my best guess. Why don’t they just feck off and live in China under a proper commie state? That is what they seem to want for us lot.

If they want to stop people drinking at home then they should open the bloody pubs.

Screen Time?

Here’s another one: After years of parents trying to prise their kids away from the bloody TV, iPads and PC screens, what have we got now? Yep! The authorities are now telling them to spend all of their school days hypnotically sat facing a computer screen to do this latest craze – “home schooling”. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Mr. —Cock

While the good people of the UK are being held under house arrest the government are allowing over 100,000 people a week who arrive at UK airports to walk off without any testing or strict quarantine. Truly amazing. When questioned about this the health minister Matt Hancock said it was not a problem. Yes; the health minister! Honest people who just want to get out and continue their work are being taken for mugs. If that doesn’t make you angry then I am sorry, there must be something wrong with you.

And here comes the reality check…

Amongst all the news, fake or otherwise. Amongst all the advice etc… One thing is clear, and this one is irrefutable. Our governments have no idea what they are doing today and even less on what to do tomorrow. I only spend a short time reading or listening to them on TV or internet news but every day it’s the same old shit. Well, almost. Because it actually seems to get worse. They are hopeless. And as for their advisers? I don’t know where to start, but it does lead me into a serious question: How many bloody Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) are there?  Who knew we had so many?

I wonder what they get paid? I bet it’s a lot. Good work if you can get it. Come to think of it, I could do that job. Easily from what I have observed recently. Hmm… what do you think?

Time for another Coronavirus Rant

I thought a coronavirus rant was long overdue. There has been so much garbage going around lately – and I do not hardly listen to the news. So here goes… Buckle up, pour yourself a drink (make mine a nice craft beer or a large Gin & Tonic) and get into this one…

Flattening the curve? Do me a favour.

“Flattening the curve” Ugh!!! That phrase is now one of the more annoying things about this “crisis”. I know exactly what it means. At least what it is supposed to mean. I suppose there are quite a lot of people watching TV presenters spouting this phrase day in, day out, who do not really understand it.

As I explained in a previous post, it really means “prolonging the agony”. But could you imagine some fool on tv or a politician saying that? Exactly. ‘Flattening’ is certainly not the right word to use. Because they need to eliminate the curve altogether. If they relax these ridiculous lock-down measures it only takes one case to become the new “patient zero” – or whatever the hell they call it. It’s just common sense. That is probably never going to happen, at least for a VERY long time. Furthermore, they could only know it was safe to let everyone go back to normal if they had the capacity to test every single person. That would be the only way to be sure there are no carriers or infected left alive. Having “no new cases” for a few days is not enough to be fully sure.

Alternatively…

On the other hand, the disease will run out of steam on its own, with or without lock-downs. Obviously, a lot sooner without a lock-down. I think they refer to that process as getting a “herd immunity” – not a big fan of that phrase but I do see it as the best way. Again, it’s all down to common sense. And since when did your government have much of that? Ask yourself that question.

The reason the governments have gone the lock-down route is driven by the inability of the respective health services to cope with a rush of patients. A huge spike in numbers if it was left to just run its course (quickly) would overrun most country’s health services. Especially the NHS in the UK (the one I know most about). So, they decided to come up with this “flattening the curve” bullshit and basically prolong the agony over a much longer time period with no real end in sight.

But remember: These huge patient numbers are only predictions, taken from computer generated models run by the likes of that prat (professor) Neil Ferguson. This is all a new level of insanity folks.

Where have the daft Videos Gone?

There is one ‘curve’ that I can say for sure has definitely flattened. That is a curve of the number of daft videos which were everywhere on the first week of lockdown. When it was all still a novelty.

That has slowed to a trickle. Almost dried up in fact now, as the UK is well into its 4th week of lockdown. I fear that the people have been worn down.

I know the same is true from Spain, which was fully locked down before most countries on 11th March. The Spanish too were making daft videos and spreading them via their mobile phones. Ironically many of these videos went “viral”. Maybe not the best word given the real situation eh? But that’s the word they use for those things.

Meanwhile there are still more than a few silly videos being made by police and health workers. Many seem to involve some sort of formation dance routines. I am sure you will have seen some of these. What are we to make of them? Personally I have a lot of respect for the front line health workers (but not the police). However, when they are supposed to be swamped with virus deaths and hamstrung by a lack of equipment etc (if you believe all the media hype) then is it really appropriate to be making such videos? Especially those wearing the very same (supposedly) short supply face-masks etc…? There is something not right about all that… On that subject…

Brave Journalism

I make no apologies for sharing part of an article written by Charles Moore for the Daily Telegraph. This is one very brave journalist to go against the new religion that is the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

“As its name suggests, the National Health Service is there to serve the health of the nation. In this crisis, the roles have reversed — it is seen as the duty of the nation to serve the NHS. “Protect the NHS. Save lives,” says the slogan, in that rather surprising order. Children are made to recite it like a prayer. How are we to do this? We must help the NHS by avoiding hospitals and surgeries, we are told. The Government’s policy of lockdown is in significant part dictated by the demands not of patients, but of the NHS, and by its lack of adaptability and readiness.”

Spot on Charles. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Thought for the day…

Coronavirus thought that is.

India has apparently announced that there are some 12,380 confirmed cases. The population of India is supposedly 1.35 billion. I doubt that either of those figures is anywhere near true. How would they even know? Anyway, these are the ones I will use. It basically means that less than one millionth of the population has contracted this virus. An incredibly tiny fraction. Is it just me or do you find that hard to believe? This is, they tell us, a “highly contagious virus”. Yet in a place like India less than one millionth of the population are infected after (probably) several months of the virus doing its thing. Is anyone else refusing to buy into this crap?

Damn. That’s a Really Bad Aussie Accent

Coincidence?

Here’s a daft one I want to share. I had only just written about that World War 2 prisoner of war movie The Great Escape (in this post) and it was on TV here, on Easter Sunday.

To anyone in the UK that will not seem like such a coincidence. There was a time when that film was on TV every single bank holiday. At least it seemed that way. Still, it was good to watch it again. It must be 10 years since I last saw it.

Now here’s the thing…

One thing really caught my attention this time around. Probably because of where we are now living. James Coburn, an American actor, played an Australian prisoner. His Aussie accent must be the worst example of bad accents in the history of movies. Damn, it was really bad.

That Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep character in Mary Poppins is possibly the most famous – or infamous – bad accent. Van Dyke’s attempt at a cockney (East London) accent is the stuff of movie legend. It has been the butt of many a joke, and rightly so.

That said, I would contend that Coburn’s Aussie accent is at least 100 times worse. Could they really not find an Australian actor to play that part? Did they even need to have an Aussie prisoner? There was only the one so why couldn’t he have been just another Brit or American? Crazy.

Comparing the two

First of all, it is important to remember that Van Dyke was in a Disney movie meant for kids. Also, that movie was part animated so was never meant to be serious. The Great Escape, while it had humour and was completely jingoistic, was at least meant to be an adult movie with a serious theme. It was also based on real and very serious historical events.

James Coburn sounded like an Irishman, pretending to be an American imitating an Aussie accent. Possibly even worse. When I first noticed it the other day, I sat to attention waiting for him to speak another line. It turns out he never had that many. Very few for one of only three top American actors in the movie. I wonder why?

Watch that film again and judge for yourself.

Dani and the Giant Cheeseboard

Dani and the Giant Cheeseboard? Sounds like the name for a kids’ book doesn’t it? Hmm…Not a bad idea that. But in this case it is just a few things I missed out of previous posts. A mixed collection with links back to the original posts (for those that may have missed them).

Dani and the Giant Cheeseboard

That is actually the title I have given the photo below. I forgot to add the photo to the Hunter Valley trip post. As well as wine tasting you can do a little cheese tasting and even visit cheese factories. There are plenty of shops selling local produce and this was one of them.

Dani and the Giant Chesseboard

Check out the price of that cheeseboard! Almost a thousand dollars! For a piece of wood?! Where would you even use it? As a small table for tea and snacks? Or just to slice up a six year old boy? Nah. As if… As I keep saying, I am doing this blog so that Dani can enjoy it when he is old enough. At the moment he hardly has even a passing interest in what I type. But in the near future he will love looking back on this cheeseboard photo and the whole trip.

Semillon – Discovering a great White wine

Another thing I forgot to mention from that trip was the white wine we discovered. Semillon.
Well not quite ‘discovered ‘ . Most people will have seen and/or tried it before.  Most likely mixed with other grapes; such as Sauvignon-Blanc-Semillon or Chardonnay-Semillon. That never works for me. If anything I think it spoils the classic Sauvignon-Blanc or Chardonnay tastes.

However, on its own semillon makes a fantastic white wine. At least as good as a decent Sauvignon-Blanc. Possibly even as good as my go-to white wine of choice – Albariño (that Spanish classic from Galicia). They grow quite a lot of semillon grapes in Australia. Particularly in this area.  So there are some great bottles of semillon wine to be found.

White as Sugar

Here is a photo I made of the Hymans Beach sand on our first visit to this area.

Sand vs Sugar

Two small piles of similar size. One is of the sand, the other pile of sugar. Can you spot which one is the sand and which is the sugar? It isn’t exactly a trick question nor is it very difficult. But it does show how white the sand is at Hyman’s Beach. Said to be the whitest sand in the world.

Comical Alcohol Purchase Limits

I touched on this in a very recent post and it made me laugh. So on this next visit I took a photograph. Is there really anyone who would even try to exceed these so called ‘limits’? (You may want to zoom in on to have a laugh.)

Australia’s Alcohol Purchase Limits – Hilarious!

Remember this is per transaction. Not necessarily even a daily allowance. If you are very lucky you may be able to buy a single packet of rice or pasta for your family to wash down all this booze…Hahahaa…

And the sand vs sugar?

Oh; and in case you were still wondering… The white sand is the larger of the two piles.

Easter Sunday on the Beach

This Easter Sunday we went to the beach. While national and state governments alike have been preaching to their citizens to not go to the beach, I just thought… Ah. Let’s go to the beach. Because we can.

Collingwood Beach

There were never more than thirty people on the beach at any time while we were there. I more or less counted them (squinting into the distance). More than enough space and certainly not as crowded as the beaches the politicians are worried about.

Collingwood Beach is just over two kilometres long. Although it seems to be called Sailor’s Grave Beach for its northern part, it remains one continuous beach. Picture that. Two kilometres of beach with hardly thirty people spread across its length and breadth. No wonder there is no fuss being made down here.

Dani Auditioning for a new Lord of the Flies movie
Anybody seen my William Golding novel?

Fantastic Location for a House…

Just behind the beach the dunes remain unspoiled and wild. Some ten metres deep. Then there is a public footpath. Well used by walkers, joggers, cyclist as well as skateboarders. It is very popular but not too crowded. There are some great properties on this walk. Like these:

And these…

And the only thing these lovely properties have to look out on are scenes like this…

Or this…

And this…

Or maybe this…

Wildlife

We spent some time watching the cormorants plunge diving to catch fish just off-shore. Surprisingly quite relaxing. The narrow untouched stretch of dunes attracts lots of birds. One or two new species for me. I couldn’t get close enough to take any decent photos though.

And then suddenly a small clearing with one of those old car tyres hanging from a rope. The sort of thing you might see in chimpanzee compound in a zoo. Perfect for Dani.

Breaking the law?

Or just breaking the rules? When is a rule a law? Who cares? Not me. I don’t think those new rules quite apply here. We have to make the most of being in this fantastic location because things will be far more grim back in Sydney. And we should be back there in a week.

Escape from Sydney

Escape from the City. Any City

Following on from my short “escape” themed film reviews this is a short post about our escape from Sydney.

Not a film by John Carpenter – that I know of. Nor is it about to be made into one – as far as I know. We were faced with a simple choice:

  1. Spending the three weeks of Dani’s school Easter holidays in an apartment with hardly any furniture. Or,
  2. Booking somewhere outside of the city as a short-term holiday let.

Which do you think I went for? I have read that one of the rules of life, survival or anything related to an epidemic or similar crisis, is always  “get the hell out of the city”. I don’t  think this situation is that serious, but I don’t even need that kind of advice. We were off…

Our case was complicated by (still) not having our furniture and other possessions delivered. The container is in quarantine. Obviously. So, we packed up and headed to a house in Jervis Bay. It was only place we were familiar with really and not too far to drive. We booked it via AirBnB that now well-known online connection between property owners and travellers looking for somewhere to stay.

Fugitives from the Law?

Things have been changing daily basis in Australia. They never went directly for the complete lock-down (as such) but have been gently nudging people in that direction bit by bit. Two days after arrived it was announced that the government had made bookings through Airbnb illegal. One of the latest ‘nudges’. Are we now effectively breaking the law or what? Have we become fugitives? To be honest I couldn’t give a shit. We are here now and booked for another week so that’s it.

By the way; ‘they’ are still allowing flights in from all over the world. And worse. But I don’t want to go into it just yet. This farcical overblown “crisis” is just a joke now.

The Familiar…

We knew the area and we knew exactly where we could go for our (supposedly) daily exercise – weather permitting of course. We have been staying about 50 metres from a great beach and a short walk from the supermarket and other shops. Even better than that there is hardly anyone else on the beach most of the day. Even when there is it is so big that you hardly notice them.

Practising Perfect Social Distancing

Pandemic Bargain…

Almost immediately after we arrived Dani’s mum found a bike on Gumtree. We arranged to go and see it. I had a $5 note in my pocket and after checking the brakes were working, I said:

“OK. Five dollars, right?” The guy said “Well actually, it was ten but…”
“Well here’s five”, handing him the note. “Erm…OK”. And that was that.

A functioning second-hand bike for less than three quid. What a lock-down bargain! It was a little big for Dani but I adjusted the seat to its lowest setting and bingo!. He has used it to ride down the sea front paths as well as riding it the length of the local beach. He has already had his five dollars’ worth.

The weather has not been quite as kind to us since this day however. We have had some serious rain. But what the hell? We are on holiday, whether the government likes it or not.

A Sundown Bike Ride on the Beach

Limiting your booze?

The supermarkets still have ‘limitation’ signs on certain products. The ones that people are, for some mad reason, still trying to horde like rice and toilet rolls. Not to be outdone the local liquor store has some of its own ‘limit’ signs.

” One case of Cider, One case of beer and 12 bottles of wine per person”

Seriously. It made me laugh. That was per visit by the way. Not even per day…

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

After writing the previous post about the Predator movie it got me thinking about other movies. Those with an escape theme.

This coronavirus crap has created an amazing opportunity for people to live out their great escape fantasies. Here is a light-hearted look at a few ‘escape’ themed movies, some of which have a tenuous link to this present farce.

The Great Escape:

A fantastic, if jingoistic, second world war movie and clearly the first one most people would think of. I am not advocating digging a tunnel under your floorboards of your house. But if you do please be aware of the neighbours. They are highly likely to snitch on you in this current climate. Remember; “We are all in this together.” Yeah; as if!

If you have an old motorcycle you could even try outrunning the local nazis – sorry – police. A lá Steve McQueen. Possibly best to wait for them to put up some barbed wire road-blocks first though. For authenticity.

Escape from New York

A classic dystopian movie made in 1981. Blimey! Nearly 40 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. This John Carpenter film was supposed to be set in the (then) near future of 1997. Right now, in the year 2020, the people of New York’s Manhattan island can actually try their luck and attempt to mimic the movie’s hero, Snake Plissken (brilliantly played by Kurt Russell) They’ll need a trustworthy taxi driver who knows all the routes and a ‘pimped’ Cadillac for the final drive.

New York City is on lock-down in real life. I wonder how much longer before some of the inhabitants of Manhattan attempt to cross one of the bridges… It could be very interesting.

Midnight Express:

Based on real events. Poor Billy Hayes got careless. He tried to smuggle some blocks of marijuana resin out of Turkey in the year 1973. Hardly the crime of the century but a bad move by young Billy. Now I am not trying to excuse the smoking or smuggling of even small amounts of cannabis but this one is a little more involved.

At that time in history diplomatic relations between Turkey and USA were not the best. William Hayes quickly became a political pawn. For the heinous crime of smuggling a small amount of dope Hays received a sentence of 30 years as the Turks wanted to make an example of him.

If you think Billy Hayes was harshly treated (and he certainly was) then ask yourself what the hell is happening to whole populations right now. The planet is under house arrest. Mostly on the say so of doom-data from a “computer model” produced by a Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London. How the hell is that justified? Police swooping on anyone out for a walk in the park when they have previously been conspicuous in their absence for well over a decade (in the UK at least). Maybe like me, when you see that man’s name and the word ‘professor’, that’s enough. Yeah, exactly; Get a real job mate!

Papillon:

Probably this one belongs in my all-time top ten. Whenever this movie comes up I always refer to the 1973 version starring Steve McQueen as real-life Frenchman Henri Charriére – known as ‘Papillon’ for the tattoo of a butterfly on his chest. There is also a 2017 version which is supposed to be just as good. I must try and watch that. Bet it’s not on bloody Netflix though…Nope. Just checked. Typical.

The best thing about this movie (for me) is that it is set in the French equivalent of Australia. As recent as 1933 ‘Papillon’ was sentenced to life imprisonment within the penal system in French Guiana. This was the French way of hiding their prisoners as far away as possible. Amazingly it only closed in 1953.

From what I have seen of the coast of Australia that famous cliff-jumping scene near the end of the movie could have been filmed here. In fact, it took place from cliffs in Maui, Hawaii.

Escape to Victory:

Dreadful movie but a bit of a cult classic. Set in a second world war prisoner of war camp, starring Sylvester Stallone plus a host of real footballers like Bobby Moore and Pele. The allied prisoners play a game of football against the krauts  squareheads  boche Germans. While they are supposed to be showering after the game they break out through a tunnel dug by the French resistance into the changing rooms. Of course, they had just won the game despite heavy refereeing bias and constant German fouling. All in all, a corny and rather shit movie. Don’t you agree?

No obvious links to the present apart from the increasing tendency of your friendly police force to imitate the Gestapo. That will only get worse, trust me. When given powers above their IQ level it always goes to people’s heads.

Shawshank Redemption:

Surely everyone’s favourite escape film. Almost certainly the best ‘feelgood’ escape film and definitely one of my top 10 all time films (of any genre).

So much is great about this film it is hard to know where to start. There are top acting performances by Tim Robbins , Morgan Freeman and Clancey Brown to name but a few.

Perhaps the best thing about this movie is that truth and justice win in the end. Take note you hopeless politicians.

Battle Royale:

A kind of escape movie, made in Japan. Also, a kind of crazy movie. In fact, this one could become reality in the not too distant future if they try to keep up this global imprisonment farce. It follows a group of junior high-school students that are forced to fight to the death by the totalitarian government.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I can highly recommend it. But beware. It is not for the squeamish.

Final Word

If you think any of those films are far-fetched then consider this latest development. In the USA right now, there are people campaigning for the release (escape if you will) of real prisoners because of this virus thing. Really! You could never make that up. Even in the movies… Life is definitely stranger than fiction.

Get to da Choppa!

One of the best things about having a kid of Dani’s age is being able to introduce them to some old classics. Music, films or just lines from films – like this one: “Get to da Choppa!”

Recognise that classic line? It is possibly the best piece of acting never to win an Oscar. Often imitated (by old dads like me) but never bettered. Yes. It’s that line from the one and only Arnie!

Kid, you are gonna love it!

I came out with it the other day walking Dani home from school. A helicopter flew overhead – probably looking for someone out on their second walk of the day – when it just popped into my mind.

“Get to da choppaaa” I shouted, doing a bad Arnie imitation.
“What the hell was that?” said Dani.

Exactly. I had to explain that it was a great line, expertly delivered, from a fantastic film. Also, that he was going to love that film. That great 1987 movie, Predator. He soon became interested as I knew he would. Like all boys (and men) he loves all that kind of crap. Who doesn’t?

Netflix Let-down – Again

Ever since, he asks me if we can find the movie on Netflix. I knew it wasn’t there. Not just because I had searched for it recently, but because pretty much every film I look for on Netflix is not there. Their choice of movies is poor to say the least.

I believe part of the problem is that they give too much space and time to long drawn out series. Some are OK. Occasionally there is a really good series – Breaking Bad being the standard by which they are all now measured – but generally they are just average. And certainly too drawn out with no realistic finale in sight.  Why can’t they put up more classic old movies? Some seem to come and go. It’s almost like a game of ‘watch them while you can’.

I have the movie on DVD but it is packed in a box and stored – in Madrid. Typical.

Has anyone else noticed how bad Netflix really is? Whenever I search for a film I want to see (again) it is never there. Is that just my taste in films or has anyone else discovered the limitations of Netflix? Please let us know what you have searched for and failed to find on Netflix.

Youtube to the rescue?

We looked on youtube, but the full movie is not there. Dani just wanted to see the Predator after I had described it. So, I showed him the scenes available on youtube. Now, as expected, he wants to see the whole movie.

Incidentally Predator 2, made in 1990, is on youtube, in full. That was not a bad sequel.  There have been several others also. All fairy poor and to be frank, pointless. Most importantly, none of them have Arnie and definitely do not have any line to compare with this one…

 

Three Newfound Interests

Since arriving in Australia I have discovered an interest in three things that I would previously not paid much attention to. I have not quite gone geeky on them yet. But my curiosity is almost turning into a hobby. The three things are completely different too. But the one common denominator is of course clear: Being Australian…

Three Newfound Interests

First there is the bird-watching thing I touched on in previous posts. More on this one below.

Second. I have developed an interest in the residential architecture. Not as weird as it sounds (and no disrespect to architects) because there are some interesting styles of housing that have a definite time-line and reason. I think the houses tell a story about how cities like Sydney grew up.

Third (or lastly) is the convict history of Australia. I find myself reading about different characters whose actions and decisions basically shaped present-day Australia. I guess that one is excusable (not that the other two need to be excused. I think it is hard to come to Australia and not be interested in its convict past.

Anyway, more on the second and third of these new found interests to come in future posts.

Budgies – Smuggling them is illegal…

Due to its location and climate, Australia is home to a wealth of bird-life. Much of it is what us northern Europeans would call ‘exotic’.

For us poor northern Europeans our first experience of an exotic bird would have been our first pet, the humble little budgie. (Budgerigar to give it its full name). When I was Dani’s age everyone seemed to be buying a pet budgie. Now of course they are more famous for being smuggled inside small swimming trunks. Allegedly. Ours was a blue one, called Peter for some reason. Probably because of that old children’s TV programme Blue Peter. Or some equally daft reason.

Parrotry?

The budgie is not alone. This huge island is home to all sorts of cockatoos, lorikeets and other such “parrotry”. Is that even a word? Probably not, but I will claim it as it works to serve my point. Actually, parrots and lorikeets belong to the same family of birds while the cockatoos are from another group. The budgie is a member of the parrot family.

Twitching Again

Here are some of the exotic birds we have seen and managed to photograph. Not being a full on twitcher (yet) I only get to take snaps of them if I am lucky. Very lucky and very quick in most cases. We have seen quite a few more…

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Rainbow Lorikeets
The Galah – also known as the Pink and Grey Cockatoo

The galah is widespread in Australia and a member of the cockatoo family. It has a distinctive salmon-pink neck and underparts.

Little Corella

When I first saw the little corella I thought it looked like the psychopath of the cockatoo family with those big, wild, blue eyes. The large “eyes” turn out to be blue skin. They still look quite intimidating though eh?

Big Blue “Eyes”

Nothing New (for me)

I always did have an interest in bird-life. It stems from way back when I was Dani’s age. I used to go fishing with my grandad Danny (who our Daniel is partly named after). He not only taught us how to fish but he knew all the birds along the river, where they nested and could identify their eggs. He would often stick his hand into a bush where he knew they were nesting and pull out an egg to show us. He always put them back though. I loved all that. It brings back some great memories. When you go fishing you can relax and take in your surroundings.

Trying to get my lad interested in any such things is not easy. He would rather play with the iPad. That’s the (pre-coronavirus?) world in which we live. Will it change? Doubtful.

Other Types

Oz also has its fair share of birds of prey. Not just the ones frequenting the bars where rich businessmen go for a drink. There are plenty of large predatory feathered birds too, including eagles with wingspans of over two metres. We are yet to spot these however.

We saw this one the other day in a park near the wine tasting areas. The black swan.

I have only ever seen white swans and now I know why. It turns out that this is the world’s only black swan. Every bit as majestic as the white swan and it is native to Australia.

I hope to update this blog with more bird sightings as and when we spot them (and photograph them) and get Dani involved in doing it.

 

Dani Invents a New Board Game (Sort of)

Dani just invented a new game. To be more exact he merged two well-known games that often come together in the same pack.

This is ‘Chessdraughts’

Yeah, I know it’s a crap name but that’s the only thing Dani could come up with.

Draughts is the English name for the game. I think they call it ‘checkers’ in America. You could go the American English route and call it ‘Checkerchess’. Or ‘Chessckers’? Yeah those do sound a bit better… If you have a better name please let us know.

Yesterday, we arrived in our new temporary accommodation (more on this at a later date) to find the classic board games. Dani raced over and shouted “Chess”. But then when he opened the drawer of the box below the board he noticed the draughts pieces. Before I could even be bothered registering any interest, he had set up the board using most of the ‘checkers’ to fill  the middle of the board.

“Come on dad” he says confidently. “Let’s play.”
“Play what?”
“It’s a new game. Chess and draughts together.”
“Eh? You can’t play that. There is nowhere to move any pieces. Where are the draughts going to go?”

The Penny Dropped

I could only see a few moves for half of the pawns. I clearly wasn’t paying attention. Just as well the little lad was.

“Yes. You can move the knights. They can jump over remember?”
“Erm… Oh yeah.”
“Come on let’s play. What are the rules?”
“Erm… let’s see…”

Sure enough you could indeed start a game by bringing the knights into play. While I was still getting my head around it all Dani decided that the draughts pieces would move as normal and jump diagonally over other pieces to take (or capture) them. This would work for taking chess pieces as well as the ‘checkers’ discs. By the same method any draughts disc could be taken by the opponent’s draughts (As normal) and by a chess piece as if it was in the line of capture (just like any other chess piece capture).

Bring the Knights into play first…
After a few moves it opens up…

The Rules

Basically, played as mentioned above. Each piece moves and takes other pieces according to its own game’s rules. The only other rule we came up with was that the King was immune to the threat of the draughts. This allowed the king a little more scope for moving out of trouble near the end of game.

If any draughts piece makes it to the other side of the board, we decided that it would become a “super-king”. Three pieces high instead of two and able to jump and take two diagonal squares instead of one. Not that any ‘checkers’ made it that far in our games. It is far less likely than a pawn turning into a Queen.

The overall aim is generally the same as chess. Capture the opponent’s king. Simple eh?

It may not catch on, but it is another game anyone can play at home. Nearly every chess set comes with both game’s pieces, and of course the same standard board. Who knows it could become popular during these virus lock-downs? Give it a go…