We’re down on the Bellarine Peninsular, so headed to the Jack Rabbit cafe for lunch. It seems the kitchen is undergoing renovations, so a temporary kitchen has been set up in a marquee! However, the food was good, albeit served in boxes rather than on plates. More importantly the view out over Corio Bay was fantastic as usual. The forecast was for rain, but this didn’t eventuate although the sky was stormy.
I like good “true crime” books, but I was a little under-whelmed by “Underbelly – Where the Bodies are Buried” (John Silvester and Andrew Rule). On the plus side, some of the stories are fascinating, and in particular I found the chapters about Carl Williams and Paul Dale very interesting, as most of us have a general awareness of these men, but how they actually fitted into the jigsaw isn’t always top-of-mind for many of us. There are lots of anecdotes, with many of the major crimes (solved and unsolved) and criminals over the last 30 years or so being mentioned somewhere, along with a few of the detectives who were involved. “Chopper” Read, a number of bikie gangs, Denis Tanner and many others are mentioned. In short, the amount of ground covered in the book is extensive and makes Melbourne sound like a hotbed of crime (perhaps at some stages, it has been?)
I gather that the stories in this book and in those of its companions have been used in the Underbelly TV series.
Just the same, on the whole, the writing isn’t great and there are some obvious proof-reading errors. At times things are repetitive and the sequence is hard to follow. The authors are experienced crime reporters (and have written other books in this series), but the lack of a sub-editor shows!
As I’ve already said (and here), I really liked reading Walking the Woods and the Water. If I may indulge myself, I’m going to do just one more post mentioning that one particular aspect I enjoyed is the insight given by the book into cultural issues – even in the 21st century – that Rick Hunt encountered along the way.
One such issue was when he was discussing with his host in Vidin her thoughts about Romania. Vidin is in Bulgaria, across the Danube from Romania, and at the time of Rick’s trip (2011) there wasn’t a bridge over the Danube at that point, only ferries. I see that the bridge which at that time was under construction was completed in 2013. Be that as it may, Rick asked his host whether she often went over to the Romanian side. Her answer, as quoted by Rick, was “To Romania? Of course not! I’ve never been there”.
When questioned further, she expressed no curiosity about Romania. “The Romanians are not like us. They are different people”. Rick goes on to state that he found this attitude on a number of times amongst Bulgarians; not hostility towards Romanians, but a “profound lack of interest”. Instead, they looked culturally and spiritually towards the Balkans, even Russia and sometimes even to Turkey.
And a day or so later, he had a discussion with the manager of a guest house, whose attitude was that Eastern Europe was basically peopled by Slavs, with the Romania and Hungarian being a “wedge” of non-Slavs.
The interesting thing is that these attitudes reflect my own experience in Serbia. On one trip, when I raised with some of S’s family members in Belgrade that we were considering a day or so in Timișoara (a city in Romania not far from the Serbian border), the reaction was along the lines of, “Why go there? That’s not an interesting place”. Yet, from what I have read, I think I’d find a lot to interest me there. If we ever return (no plans for this!), I will ask again, and perhaps follow-up by asking if they have ever been there.
Moreover, the transport links – or lack of them – between Belgrade and Timișoara reflect this attitude, too. They are virtually non-existent, yet it’s 155 kms which according to Google Maps should take less than 3 hours by car (although, there’s a border crossing and I’m not sure of the condition of the road, so this timing might be optimistic). From Rome2Rio, it seems that currently there’s no direct train or bus connection between the two cities; apparently you have to make your own way across the border (there’s a 22 km gap between the two closest towns). However, although not on Rome2Rio, from TripAdvisor it seems there is a mini-bus which runs a service but only when booked. Presumably this would be our mode of transport if we ever made the trip to the city which was the starting point of the uprising against Ceaușescu.
Ooops, I may not have told the whole story when I asserted that Metro were culling the seats at Flinders Street station. Yes, indeed, the number of seats at the western end of the platforms has been reduced, but it seems some additional seating is being placed in the centre of the platforms – where the little kiosks are being culled!
The work is still in progress, so it’s hard to know if the total number of seats will be reduced, but what appears to be definite is that the kiosks will be culled. The work is at different stages on different platforms, as the photos below show. I’m reserving my judgment about this, save to note that I do like to sit down if possible but I have never bought anything from any of the kiosks. I do wonder, however, what has become of the former lessees?
We’d been putting off removing a Japanese maple that had grown too large for its position. However, the work eventually just had to be done, so the guys turned up. There were four of them, and they came equipped with a big chipping machine which they parked in front of the house. We asked them to remove a couple of other trees and some creeper as well as the Japanese maple. They had powerful saws and the like, and breezed through the work.
I was most impressed when the whole task took just under an hour.
Bastille Day (14 July) seems to be observed more around Melbourne than American Independence Day. There was publicity material on the tram for a series of events at the North Melbourne Meat Market to occur over the Bastille Day weekend. Yarra Trams are a sponsor, perhaps because about the only viable way of getting there is by tram.
Over in France, Donald Trump will be in Europe, but there’s no suggestion that he’ll drop into Paris for the festivities there!
As I’ve said, we’re doing some cleaning out, as it looks as though the house is going to need some substantial work. So some things have been going to one of the local op shops. We’ve collected quite a few jigsaw puzzles over the year. I think this is common; it’s fun to do a new puzzle, but then you put it away, intending “one day” to come back to it – but you never do!
Anyway, as part of the cleanup, S took a number of jigsaw puzzles up to the op shop. They were appreciative, but let it drop that one of the volunteers was going to count the pieces to see how many was missing! Some of these puzzles had 1000 pieces (and, so far as we’re aware, there weren’t pieces missing from any of them) – so some counting!
I’m sure the op shop customers will appreciate knowing that the puzzles are complete, and perhaps the shop will sell them for a dollar or two more than might be the case otherwise. However, I do wonder if this is the most productive use of a volunteer’s time!