Garage door

The garage door was clunking and was erratic in adhering to the “limits”, that is it sometimes banged against the stop  when going up or down, instead of at the programmed point.

The service guy told us that the mechanism that sets the limits was worn and couldn’t be repaired so the only option was to get a complete new motor.   Somewhat reluctantly, we agreed to this and in due course the brand new motor arrived and was installed.  Needless to say, technology has moved on, so we also got a new chain mechanism.   However, the results are great:  everything is much quieter and smoother.

As he was leaving the technician offered me a word of advice:   the mechanism needs to be serviced every year or so.    The reason for the wear in the old motor was because the various components, such as the door springs as well as the operating chain, had got out of alignment, thus putting extra stress on the control mechanism.

Lesson learned:   devices such as this need to have a little loving care now and then!


Railway works

I see that there’s going to a complete closure of the railway line through our suburb for a week in January.   I know that this has happened on other lines, but because we’re not too far from the city and there are 4 tracks, we’re accustomed, when works are occurring, for one pair of lines to continue to operate.  However, on this occasion, it seems there are going to be big electrical works at Caulfield, so presumably there’s little alternative?

Signage at station

There are signs around as well as information on the internet (and here) stating that there’s going to a be a total closure.     Amongst other “issues”,  I notice that the replacement buses from Flinders Street station operate from way down St Kilda Rd, in front of the Arts Centre, and that if you want to go to a loop station, you’ll have to take a train from Flinders Street.

And from reading Daniel Bowen’s blog, when a similar massive closure occurred on the lines through Camberwell, there were plenty of hitches with the replacement bus services.

It sounds that this week will be a good time to avoid the trains!


(Left - looks as tough some materials for use during the works have already been pre-placed)

A good week at Westfield

Couldn’t help noticing that it’s been a good week for the Lowys.

First, Frank gets a knighthood from the Queen.  It’s a British award, and I guess it comes if you’ve developed two of the largest shopping complexes in London.

Westfield London (Shepherds Bush)

Then the Lowys recommended that the shareholders in Westfield Corporation accept a $33 billion takeover offer.

Well, actually the Lowy family own only about 9.5% of Westfield Corporation, but they’ll end up with over $3 billion if the deal goes ahead (although some of this will be held in shares in the bidder, Unibail-Rodamco).  They also get to keep an interest in the Westfield retail technology platform (OneMarket).

I’ve never quite worked out how the Lowys and Westfield managed to construct two large shopping centres in inner London, with no-one else being able to build anything like them.  That said, I think Chadstone is “shiner” and more impressive than either Shepherds Bush or Stratford (although whether or not that makes Chadstone “better” I’m not sure).

Of course, a big difference is that the London centres both have good access to the Underground and rail stations, whereas Chadstone has only buses.


At left - Westfield Stratford

Vivid White

The Fairfax review was unflattering, to say the least.   The Australian’s review wasn’t quite so harsh nor was the Herald-Sun’s,  but they still had reservations.   MTC’s Vivid White is supposed to be a satire on housing affordability.

Well, let’s understand what it is:   think “student review”.   Perhaps consistently with this, the ensemble includes students from the VCA Music Theatre class (seemingly on a rotational basis).    The language at times and some of the jokes are also in line with what you’d expect at a review.  There’s a lot of music and yes, the basic theme is a satirical commentary on housing affordability in Melbourne and home renovations.   But there’s a lot of idiocy and absurdity and jabs at other things too, such as the adoption of lost dogs, putting wheelie bins out  and even at the nature and role of satire itself.

My initial reaction was “weird”, but on reflection, there are some very good parts and excellent performances (in particular, the auction scene and the Dulux lady scene are memorable).   But it’s inconsistent and seems to wander around, and frankly I’m still bewildered by the last scenes involving the tentacles of a mind-controlling creature.   I must have missed the point somewhere along the way.

However, the full house seemed to enjoy the performance.

Meriton and TripAdvisor

I mentioned that I’d received an email from Meriton via TripAdvisor seeking feedback about our stay.   The property is allowed by TripAdvisor to ask customers for feedback. The review when posted has a note to it that states, “Review collected in partnership with this hotel”, and by clicking through on the question mark next to this note,  it’s stated that the “business uses tools provided by TripAdvisor …. to encourage and collect guest reviews”.

I wasn’t aware when I wrote my earlier post that Meriton have been in trouble about the way they solicit these reviews.   It seems that Meriton had been “editing” email addresses so that guests who had raised complaints with reception weren’t sent an email inviting them to submit a review.  From the report about the Federal Court proceedings, it seems that about 14,000 emails were “masked”.  Wow, this number in about a year?

Given that at least some of the reviews now appearing on TripAdvisor are less than enthusiastic about some aspects of the Meriton property that we stayed at (such as the lifts), it seems that Meriton are now playing by the rules.  However, because there are so many reviews, any negative ones tend to be quickly smothered by the ones that are basically favourable. Within 2 weeks my review was on the 8th page  of the TripAdvisor review site.   For the record, we were quite happy with most aspects of the accommodation.

French Brasserie

We went to dinner with T and W, who suggested The French Brasserie.   We had a great night.

The French Brasserie is in the city, down Malthouse Lane, which is an alley that runs off Flinders Lane.

The night was pouring rain, but the restaurant is spacious and we were made comfortable at a nice table. There was lots of activity around;  it seems that Flinders Lane is now a “lively” area, and it was the night the “Same Sex Marriage” legislation passed Parliament which may have had something to do with it.

The approach is very French in staff, service and food.  In fact, most of the staff  appear to have French as their first language (are they here on working holiday visas?);  obviously this is appropriate in this environment, although there were occasional moments when things had to be repeated to ensure there was no confusion.   The menu isn’t extensive, but it does appear to be authentic.  Our only issue was that the “Le Canard Rôti” was described as “Roast duck breast with slow cooked egg”.   We mistakenly (as it turned out) assumed that the duck would be roasted and hence more than pink, but we managed to sort this out amongst ourselves.

The Trip Advisor reviews are very positive.  They mention the comprehensive wine list, but seem to gloss over the cost!   Sure, you get a lot here, but you need to pay for it, so this is not the place for a bargain night out!

Choice at the ATM

The bank has been renovated, and along with the  ramps and “accessibility” features come new ATMs.   One of the machines had a sign on it to the effect that it “offered” a wider choice of denominations.

A nice idea, I thought.  It would save me choosing a withdraw amount that forced the machine to dispense some $20s as well as $50s.    So I selected a withdrawal amount of $210, wondering what I would be offered.   “Offered”?   Nup, no choices provided at all, as there was no option to provide any input at all into what notes might be “offered” (remember, when ATMs first arrived they sometimes allowed for this?)   I had no choice but to accept the 4 $50s and one $10 that emerged.

Perhaps the word “offers” on the sign ought to be changed to “dispenses”?    Or perhaps the screen that enables a choice is still “work in progress”?