Albert and Annie Say:

Be kinder than necessary because everyone
you meet is fighting some kind of battle.


      Pam's Journal For April 2009

  Wednesday 1st April 2009  

Work as usual for me during the day and in the evening for Pete Mate. Between me finishing work and Pete Mate starting we both went for a hearing test. Why am I telling you this? You must already know, the crowing coming from him could be heard world wide. I am deaf, he isn’t. I still think he bribed the hearing centre to get the result he wanted. Anyway I decided to leave my ears as they are and go back in twelve months for another test to see if they are deteriorating as at this stage the deafness is only mild. I knew my right ear would fail the test as I damaged it when I jumped out of the plane in October 2006. Anyway you do not need perfect hearing to drink red wine!

[I think it's only fair to point out that for some years herself has been accusing me of being deaf, to which I retaliated by claiming she didn't speak clearly. Now we know the truth! P.M.]

  Thursday 2nd April 2009  
  Work as usual, then shopping. We enjoyed a rather nice coffee with two free donuts before facing the laborious task of grocery shopping.  
  Friday 3rd April 2009  
  Work and then home for a very nice and relaxed Happy Hour. We met Bernice and Clive, a New Zealand couple here on holiday.  
  Saturday 4th April 2009  
  We awoke to pouring rain which put paid to my plans for the day. I was going to give the caravan a spring clean but turfing stuff out the door into the rain would not have been a good idea. So I did a few chores then put my feet up and finished my library book. By late afternoon the rain had cleared and the sun was making an effort.  
  Sunday 5th April 2009

The sun is shining which is good for the people of Kootingal as today is their annual pumpkin festival. (Kootingal is pronounced K'tingle, similar to Catarrh). As we hadn’t ever been to a pumpkin festival we made our way along there as it is on the way to our usual Sunday haunt, the Banalasta Winery. At the festival we searched around for a pumpkin but couldn't find one; it was more like a Sunday market. Music was featured, as was wood chopping and sheep shearing. There were all the usual stalls plus vans selling different kinds of food.

We eventually asked a stall holder where the pumpkins were but he was no wiser than us! Finally we did find someone who told us the pumpkins were in the shed, so to the shed we went. We had a look around and saw some weird-shaped pumpkins, with others dressed to look like anything but pumpkins. There were some normal ones but nothing very large. Other attractions were Pumpkin Princesses and Pumpkin Pirates, which were little boys and girls dressed up. On our way out, however, we spotted some rather large pumpkins and a range of scarecrows with pumpkin heads.

  Well we have now been to a pumpkin festival so we can cross that off the list of things to do. At the winery we enjoyed our lunch, wine and music. The music was supplied this week by a favourite of ours, Matt O’Leary. Great music, great entertainment.  
  Monday 6th April 2009  
  Work as usual, not much happened.  
  Tuesday 7th April 2009  
  The day was pretty much the same as yesterday except today was pay day.  
  Wednesday 8th April 2009  
  Work as usual for both of us, me during the day, Pete Mate in the evening.  
  Thursday 9th April 2009  

Work as usual but there was a party atmosphere about the place as we enjoyed hot cross buns and chocolates. This, of course, didn’t distract from the mountain of work that we had to accomplish by close of day. Pete Mate collected me at the appointed hour and we went off to do our shopping, as we do on a Thursday.

We were in the supermarket when I noticed that the butcher had closed. Panic set in as he had the prawns that we were taking to the Hunter Valley tomorrow. The reason I ordered these was I had been told that everything would be closed on Good Friday. Pete Mate to the rescue – he went off and found the butcher having a beer at the back of the shop, so money and prawns changed hands and I sighed with relief.

I sense you asking yourself: “Why would a butcher have prawns?”
We do not have a fresh fish shop in Tamworth and the butcher had done a deal with a fish supplier, just for Easter.

Shopping completed we wandered home to eat, drink, and be merry. Well, actually we ate drank and . . . fell asleep.

  Good Friday, 10th April 2009  
  How wonderful, four glorious days of holiday to look forward to. We had a good run though to the Hunter Valley with me driving most of the way. We listened to a 'talking book' I had borrowed from the library – what a weird book it was too.

We arrived at exactly the same time as our friends, Greg and Bev. We couldn’t have timed it better if we had tried. We found the cottage without too much trouble, quickly settled in and cracked open that first bottle. We ate succulent prawns whilst we drank and chatted. Eventually the chatting and the drinking took over until we had none left. Never mind, tomorrow we will stock up and then it will be no holds barred.
  Easter Saturday, 11th April 2009  
  What a treat for me, a cooked breakfast and not cooked by me! Don’t get excited, Pete Mate didn’t break his non-cooking record, Greg cooked it. Very nice it was too.

Once we were out and about we travelled to the Upper Hunter to visit a winery known to Greg and Bev. In the tasting area was a beautiful version of Fred Flintstone's car (well, that's what I called it) that had been made for the proprietor.
  'Flintstones Car' had a Volvo grill, a ship's wheel and an anemometer (wind speed gauge) that really worked. It was beautifully made and just my size.  
  We were as impressed with the wine as Greg and Bev, so bought plenty. Just to keep the economy moving of course – our own stimulus package. From there we visited Denham where we enjoyed lunch at the pub. We had a wander around and before long we were ready to make the homeward trek.

Once home and sampling our wares we decided to order pizzas. Eventually they arrived and we ate our fill before continuing to top up the wine in our system. All too soon it was bedtime for Bev and me. The men, I believe, sat up chatting. And drinking.
  Easter Sunday, 12th April 2009  
  After breakfast we graced the Country Markets with our presence. There were many stalls selling all manner of things. Bev and I bought a couple of items and then we all retreated back to the car. On our way from the market we passed a row of cars queuing to get in and were glad of our early start. The rest of the day was spent sampling the wares of the Hunter Valley – cheese, chocolate and wine – what bliss. We manage a gallery or two, one being full of very beautiful artifacts made from wood. The range varied from Grandfather clocks and tables to bowls and little scoops. I might add that they were as expensive as they were beautiful.

During the afternoon we visited a brewery where the men purchased a ‘paddle of beer’. This was the beer drinker’s equivalent of wine tasting. After tasting all the beers and deciding on which one was to your taste, you were given a beer free.
  Now which of these six is the best? Thanks for the picture, Greg.  
  Later we went back to the cottage for a drink before heading out to Harrigan’s, an Irish pub for dinner. Returning, we ensconced ourselves in our very comfy cottage where we drank plenty of the good Hunter Valley wine we had purchased yesterday.  
  Easter Monday, 13th April 2009  
  We four had a lazy awakening followed by a leisurely breakfast. Let’s face it, who wanted to rush anywhere? We said our sad farewells, sad because we had spent a wonderful weekend with two really special people that we see far too seldom. When we said our sad goodbyes in Perth at least we had the excitement of the festival to ease the pain. This time we just had work to look forward to.

We had a good run home enjoying our talking book, borrowed from the library, though it rained nearly all the way. It was a little depressing, on arriving home, to find everything outside the van sodden. At least we were better off than our poor neighbours who were departing for a motel as their bedding was soaked.

  Tuesday 14th April 2009  
  It was so hard to go back to work after four days off. Normally, with a two day weekend break, you haven’t got time to get used to it before you are back at your desk. Four days is long enough to remind you about the joys of retirement and of how you miss it. Pete Mate had to go to work this evening. It must be much harder going to work so late in the day when all you want to do is curl up with a glass of red and a book.  
  Wednesday 15th April 2009  
  Work as usual for me. Pete Mate got the ‘we don’t need you’ call. Surprise, surprise! They used him last night and they seem to keep him on a minimum of one night a week. My opinion is that they keep all these people on a few hours a week so that they don’t have to pay superannuation for them. This is not fact, just my opinion.

Anyway their loss is my gain as I love having him home with me.
  Thursday 16th April 2009  
  Work as usual. After work Pete Mate dropped me at the hairdresser's, collecting me later to do the shopping. Shopping after working all day would have to be the pits. No . . . shopping for food at anytime is the pits. We again enhanced the experience by indulging in coffee and donuts before embarking on the main mission. We have to eat the donuts as they come free with the coffee and we would hate to hurt the feelings of the young, vulnerable people that make them.

For the record I love my haircut. When we leave Tamworth, Casey the hairdresser comes with us.

  Friday 17th April 2009  
  Work was as usual. Busy, nothing unusual happened.  
  Saturday 18th April 2009  
  The sun was shining but the air was cool. Not that it worried us as we had work to do. We cleaned the inside of the van thoroughly and sorted through cupboards and drawers having a good clear out. Pete Mate, now being an expert at doing the washing, was given that as one of his chores. Much later in the day he declared it was difficult to get inside the park laundry due to our discarded items. The laundry is the unofficial but widely recognised repository of unwanted items that others may value. I cannot bear to throw anything in the garbage if there is still life in it. It is called recycling.

At the end of the day we sat back with a glass of red, basking in the knowledge that we had both done a good day’s work, when we heard a small commotion coming from next door. The youngest child of about three years was missing. We are camped on the bank of a river; terrible pictures came to mind so we both shot out of the 'van to join the search. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the little tyke was found on the other side of the park, chatting. We returned to our wine, a roast dinner and the Bill. Ah, bliss!
  Sunday 19th April 2009  
  We awoke to another fairly cool morning; I definitely think winter is soon to be upon us. We had a lazy morning and then set off for our usual Sunday haunt, the Banalasta winery. On arrival we heard the sounds of Buddy Knox drifting through the car park. We looked at each other and mumbled some remark about him not being our taste in music.

How wrong can you be? Once we were settled in with wine in hand and a delicious lunch in front of us we immersed ourselves in his music and found ourselves really enjoying his mix of country, blues and plain ole ‘Buddy’.

Later in the afternoon, Fiona, a friend of Buddy’s, accompanied him on a piano accordion and it was absolute magic; we enjoyed ourselves very much.

We were about to depart when we were aware that two ladies were stranded at the winery because their car had broken down. They thought they might have a lift arranged but our consciences wouldn’t allow us to leave until we knew they were okay. So by the time we left, the hour was late and the temperature very cool indeed. In fact, it had been quite cold all day. By the time we arrived home I felt so unwell that I made for my bed and stayed there for the night. Now I know you are thinking: winery – wine – too much. But alas, that was not the case; it was a good old fashioned chill that made me very sick indeed.

  Monday 20th April 2009  
  I awoke, not feeling one hundred percent as the flu-like symptoms I experienced last night were still with me. Anyway a shower, a coffee and some breakfast saw me rallying enough to venture out into the mad world of business and commerce. I arrived at the office only to find everyone else sick and poor Roslyn (my friend and boss) worse than any of us. She is a true trooper, carrying on when she clearly looked like she should have been tucked up in bed. I, for one, was grateful to see 4.30 p.m. and even more grateful to my dear husband who was waiting to drive me home to a nice glass of red. A glass of red cures all ills.  
  Tuesday 21st April 2009  
  It is official, winter has arrived in the Ranson’s caravan. Last night we had the heater on for the first time in a very long time and this morning the pantyhose came out from under the bed. I cannot remember the last time I wore them.

It was work as usual, the troops were all present and correct but still not 100% - me included. It was a very busy day that flew by at an alarming speed. At close of business my faithful chauffeur came to collect me. We called in at the agency to collect my pay and then made our way home. Pete Mate, during the day, had walked the nine kilometre round trip into town and back. Pretty damn good for someone who hasn’t been walking much lately. I better add, neither have I. I always mean to do something about it. Perhaps tomorrow . . . or the next day . . . or the one after that.

On our arrival home we found our neighbours packing up. We have become quite fond of our family of Mum, Dad, four great kids and three dogs. So once again we had to say sad farewells to some really nice people. Tell you what - we'll miss them.

  Wednesday 22nd April 2009  
  D Day today. It was work as usual and then when Pete Mate collected me we went off to the Doctor’s. As Dr Daniel was running late we read most of the magazines which were contaminated with other people’s germs, so if we weren’t sick when we went in, we would be on the way out. Actually I probably was imparting a few of my own germs about the place as I still have the sore throat. Now back to Pete Mate. Eventually we saw Dr D and he gave us the good news that all Pete Mate’s blood tests came back fine. However, the CT scan film of his brain couldn’t be found. I said the ‘scan’, not his brain, couldn’t be found! Fortunately good ole Dr D has a marvellous memory and thought he could remember seeing the pictures and seemed to remember everything was all right. To say we weren’t impressed is an understatement. I took reassurance in the fact that when he did first look at them, if something had been amiss he would have seen PM right away.

[Excuse me, but an earlier scan showed a dead area in my brain. If this scan is alright, then either the dead area has come back to life, or the doctor never looked at the film! Which do you feel is most likely, dear reader? P.M.]

Pete Mate does however have a slightly high blood pressure reading so is now on tablets for that, plus he is not allowed to drive for the charity so has decided to become a carer instead. Later PM went off to do his shift at Coles.

  Thursday 23rd April 2009  
  Work as usual and then shopping as usual. We gave ourselves a change tonight and shopped at a different shopping centre. The coffee was good and the donuts free, we know all the free places. After shopping it was home for a late dinner and a glass of red.  
  Friday 24th April 2009  
  We both enjoyed busy days today. Usual work for me, Pete Mate visited his two volunteer places and then he went home to do his chores. Apparently the women of the park think he is wonderful because he does the washing. They must think I am a witch as he told them I complain when he doesn’t do it right. What lies he tells, it is advice I am giving, not complaints! In the evening we visited our favourite Chinese restaurant and ate far too much as usual. The food is so yummy we are reluctant to leave any. Once home we enjoyed another glass of red whilst watching the television. Well, actually we pretended to watch as we both fell asleep and we still don’t know who committed the murder. Free advice: Never move to Midsomer.  
  Saturday 25th April 2009.  ANZAC Day  
  We didn’t make the dawn service but we did attend the march. We were so amazed and impressed by the amount of people that had come to watch the parade. It was very emotional to watch those brave service men and women march past heads held high. Some alas were too frail to march so were driven by in jeeps.  

Peel Street, Tamworth's main commercial street, is divided down the centre; the 'foot' marchers and bands can be seen beyond the jeeps in which the older veterans rode.

  The bands were excellent and the number of school children who marched was uplifting. Some of the kids looked too small to be in school, let alone march.  
  What's this young tyke in the middle up to? She's out of her row and is attracting attention. The girl behind her is giggling but 'Miss' has noticed too . . . and she's not laughing.  

The Army provided some serious hardware for the parade which was very well attended.
Some people were in formal attire, some were in uniform, some in casual clothing. Then there was us.

  After the parade had finished we found ourselves at a coffee and donut place. We tried their iced coffee but it wasn’t very nice. Donuts were good. By the time we arrived home Pete Mate had come down with the flu bug I had. That is how it hits you, one minute you are fine, the next you feel dreadful. Once home he went to bed and stayed there for the rest of the day.  
  Sunday 26th April 2009  
  Quiet day today as Pete Mate is still sick. I used the day to do a million little jobs that I had been putting off. It is now official Pete Mate hasn’t just got flu – he has MAN flu. He only surfaced from his sick bed to go to the toilet. Poor ole thing.  
  Monday 27th April 2009  
  Pete Mate is still very sick so I was allowed to take the car to work. Work was as busy as usual. Once the day was over I drove over to the supermarket car park. Now, while this is not spellbinding news, for me parking that big car is always taxing. Goodness knows why, I tow the 'van, park it and rarely ever get stressed . . . but parking Billy in a car park stresses me no end. Anyway, shopping done, library books changed, I was homeward bound. I found a very sad sick man still in bed but once I was home he rallied round and I saw the beginnings of his old self filtering through.  
  Tuesday 28th April 2009  
  The patient is a little better today and decided he was going to work in the afternoon. He dropped me off at work but by the time he had returned home he wasn’t feeling the best so decided to have a ‘sickie’. He collected me at the appointed hour, not feeling too bad, but grumpy, boy, was he grumpy!!!!  
  Wednesday 29th April 2009  
  Work as usual for me during the day and in the evening for Pete Mate.  
  Thursday 30 th April 2009  
  Work as usual then shopping in the evening. All good fun – not really – too much of a routine happening here and we thought we had given away being in a routine in 2004.