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


I’ve got mixed feelings about the Honours that are handed out twice a year.  There certainly appear to be plenty of awards to go around!    I know there are some deserving recipients, but likewise I’m personally aware of a few people who have received them for doing little, if any, more than their “day job”.

Supposedly the reasons for each award are summarised in the published list, but I’m left to scratch my head when the award is stated to be no more than “for service to the community of …[name of town]”.


Hickinbotham of Dromana

We’d been visiting a friend down Dromana way, and were in the mood for a break before the drive home.   Instead of heading up Red Hill to any of the wineries up there, I had seen on the internet that Hickinbotham of Dromana was close by, on the  Nepean Hwy on the Melbourne side of Dromana (requiring a short deviation off Peninsula Link).

Driving up the driveway, I was a little apprehensive;  it all seemed somewhat “rustic”.

But inside, while still quite “casual”,  it was warm and comfortable, with a range of both wines and beers (from the on-site micro-brewery) to taste.   We didn’t need anything to eat, but there was a small range of foods listed on the blackboard which would have been good for a mid-range lunch.   There was plenty of space outside, too;  I suspect that the place could be very popular on warm afternoons.  In fact, there was a program listing the live music that had been held mostly on weekend afternoons over the past summer, with an emphasis on acoustic guitar and jazz blues.  Yes, it did seem that kind of place!

We enjoyed a pleasant drink and will return, should the occasion arise, although if we’re making a trip down that way to visit a winery or two, the wineries up Red Hill way are better “destinations”.



The Olympics

The media seems to like the Olympics:   there’s so much going on, so there’s plenty of relatively easy-to-access and more-or-less predictable material to meet the insatiable demand for content.   But, while I agree that the opening ceremony had its moments of interest, I certainly didn’t feel the need to watch team after team enter the arena.  Likewise, no-one takes any interest in some of the sports at any time other than during the Olympics (archery or trap shooting, anyone?), but it seems that a medal is a medal, no matter what the event!

IMG_6921IMG_20160806_155503Even the local shopping centre has a screen set up so that people can  watch (even if it was showing football when I went past!).


Wildlife Habitat

We spent a pleasant few hours at Wildife Habitat.  I’m not really a zoo person, and I wasn’t impressed at all by the conditions the koalas and bandicoots were in but otherwise the environment for the birds and animals here didn’t concern me.   There are numerous types of birds (including jabiru storks, which breed here), kangaroos, wallabies, cassowaries, and of course the crocodiles in more-or-less natural surroundings.   Part of the walkway above the crocodiles is closed (for reconstruction?), but it was still possible to view an enormous one plus 7 (according my count) others.

We heard the presentations by the keepers on reptiles, wetland birds and koalas, and were impressed by the commitment, knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff.

Handler with python!

Some of the infrastructure looked as though it was getting to its “use by” date (such as holes in the mesh above the bird enclosures), but this didn’t detract from our experience.



Reptile handler with small crocodile – mouth taped shut, but it didn’t seem troubled at being handled!
Walkway in cassowary walk enclosure
Koala (obligatory photo)
Mid-sized crocs
“Big Daddy” crocodile


Yum Cha

We had Sunday yum cha at Silky Apple.  It’s been years since we’ve been to Silky Apple, and the family wanted to go there.   It’s still got quite a nice decor, and the yum cha selection was pretty good.

The catch, though, is that S is intolerant of MSG.   This can usually be handled at Chinese restaurants when dishes are cooked to order, but with yum cha, things are much harder.  All the dishes are pre-prepared, and apparently often bought in, so restaurants can give few if any assurances about the absence of MSG.    Hence, S ordered her own meal and refrained from participating in the yum cha selections.   The meal took a while to arrive (I guess the kitchen’s energies were being devoted to keeping up the supply of the yum cha dishes) which created a bit of angst since the rest of us were eating.

IMG_3947aHowever, with the passage of time, her food arrived, and a little wine helped things along, so things brightened up by the end of the meal!   But we probably won’t be doing yum cha again anytime soon.



I attended a funeral for an acquaintance with whom I had quite of lot of contact over a number of years (although not in the immediate past).    It was conducted by a celebrant at the funeral director’s facility.   The celebrant did a good job, along the “celebration of life/keep the memories” theme.  Although I suspect that the core of his …errr…presentation (?) was based on a template text, he managed, for the most part,  to personalise it well.   I only cringed a couple of times at his “ad libs” (but, in discussing things with others, it seems I may have been super-sensitive)!  But some of the anecdotes and personal memories by family members brought ears to the eyes of some.

Funerals are always interesting.  You always gain an awareness of other sides of the person’s life.  In this case, the acquaintance had reached the age of 87 years, and so there was some insight into his early years during the depression and World War 2, as well as into his life after that.   The hearse left very quickly after the event (for the cremation), but the family all stayed behind and joined with everyone in the sandwiches/cake/coffee provided.  The flowers stayed behind too, and attendees were invited to take a flower or two home with them.

The hearse leaves…..
…we look after it.