An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

On our fridge there’s a red & white magnet with the initials AHVEC and a phone number and I reckon if you ask any dog in Southern Tasmania they’ll tell you there’s one on their fridge too. The letters stand for After Hours Veterinary Emergency Centre and you’ll find them in Hobart’s inner north. The nice Irish vet who triaged me yesterday referred to me as a Frequent Flyer though on reflection I’m not sure he meant it as a compliment. On reflection I’m also not so sure that he’s worthy of the descriptor ‘nice’ given the indignities he put me through, but I digress. Yes, I have overnighted at AHVEC previously ( post sock/hanky removal surgery), and Mum has had cause to do a couple of phone consults most notably when I attacked her pin-cushion and swallowed a mouthful of pins. But yesterday was a whole new ball game when I was rushed off the island after ‘the incident’ and urgent conversations.

Let’s step back a little. As many of you will know Mum’s taken up this cold water swimming malarkey and now Dad’s joined her as well. The whole Dunking Southern Rights club has become bigger than Ben Hur and ‘ a quick dip’ now extends for more than 20 minutes as they gasbag and laugh on the beach. What’s a dog at home supposed to do once they’ve finished their pig’s ear? I’ll tell you what, find something else to amuse them. Unfortunately my choice of something was a bag of citrus fertiliser that had been put up beyond my reach. I love a challenge and so with considerable effort I managed to get it down to ground level, tear the packaging open and begin to have a small snack. I was not that far into my blood and bone treat when the back door opened and I was caught in the act. That’s when the day turned sour.

Apparently there was some wording in bold about the danger of this product to dogs and ‘consult your vet immediately ‘ which resulted in a very quick departure for the ferry. Hell Mum didn’t even have make up on but I felt it was wise to say nothing.

Short version of a long story is that I’ve just returned home from 24 hours in hospital on a drip after the ignominy of being ‘induced to vomit’ – remember the nice Irish vet? Not so nice. AHVEC was in constant contact with the Poisons Information Centre and I look like a pincushion I had so many blood samples taken to measure the potassium and iron in my blood. I was finally allowed home at lunch time – I think they were sick of my ‘anxious behaviour’. The vet who discharged me suggested I be given a treat of steamed chicken for the next few days. Didn’t have the heart to tell her that’s what I eat all the time.

Currently in an out of snooze mode. Mum gave me a blanket bath to make me fresh, and there are lots of kisses and ‘love you Ruby’. I hope they reflect on what caused this and maybe roster swimming so someone is at home with me or take me with them – now there’s a thought!

Love from the Island

Ruby

For as long as I can remember I have loved getting mail, and by mail I mean hard copy ‘snail mail’ delivered by the postie into a physical letterbox. Email is all very well, but for me nothing beats the anticipation of tearing open an envelope to see what’s inside. Sad though it is even a bill has more charm presented in this way.

Given my mail fixation, the letterbox at ‘Wainui’ came under scrutiny very early in the home purchase process and was found severely wanting (thanks Google Earth street view). Others couldn’t see my objection to the ‘structure’, a cut down plastic container with cake rack in the bottom to elevate the mail from water and a rock the weigh things down. One friend even described it as a very practical country letterbox. I disagreed. Everything about it offended my senses but I decided to bide my time and before making a move. I didn’t want to be accused of being an ostentatious, mainlander interloper!

So began my observation of Bruny Island letterboxes which comprise lots of repurposing, various attempts for weather control ( heavy plastic curtain employed at # 88) interspersed with the odd commercially produced number. All letterboxes are located on one side of the main road, often in clusters to maximise delivery and to ensure that Shaun the Postie has easy access from the comfort of his distinctive white van ( music pumping from within). As we live on the Main Road for me mail collection is just a quick trip down the drive but for others it’s an excursion.

A few months ago Marcus succumbed to my not so subtle comments and a new letterbox was created. It combines the previous practical considerations with a pleasing exterior and smart brass numbers. He even made individual ‘slates’ for the roof. Clever man. Together with the previously reported on sign ad the new driveway street appeal is looking up!

My trips to collect the mail have taken on new energy knowing that there is a receptacle worthy of the letters and parcels within when I make my pilgrimage at 7.35 am on weekdays.

Hi friends, Ruby here.

I must admit I’m a bit conflicted about this whole Christmas thing. I get vibes through the ether from my big sisters, who for the most part, were Christmas Grinches of the ‘bah-humbug’ persuasion. They were of the opinion that the hype rarely lived up to the reality for the canine part of the family. I will say that I am looking forward to the arrival of the man in the red suit because it will mean a relaxation in the ridiculous diet regime imposed by M&D, and hopefully lots of Christmas treats to enjoy. Let me tell you that if mince pies are left out on Christmas Eve for the great man, he will have to be willing to share – actually he gets enough from other houses – I will assist by getting rid of them. The reindeers are welcome to the carrots.

So, on the plus side there is a lot of different festive foods to be reacquainted with and presents to anticipate. We very nearly didn’t get a Christmas pudding this year due to an unfortunate incident in the kitchen. The four-hour cooking of the pudding happened to coincide with the construction of the new Christmas present of a barbecue. Dad regrettably became too engrossed in its fabrication and forgot to top up the water in the steamer, resulting in a shattered pyrex bowl and a very burnt pudding. Thankfully he has made a replacement which I will look forward to sampling on Christmas Day.

I like the tree and I like the fact that every time I get too close, M&D instantly tense in case I try to dislodge any ornament – some of those baubles look very tasty! I do love to keep them on their toes. As you all know, I have a penchant for inhaling socks and hankies, and because of this they have become very careful to put away these tempting items. However, I pinched a sock out of the washing last week, causing great consternation lest another trip to the vet was required. Happily, for everyone, I woke them up for a two o’clock ‘up-chuck’ a couple of days later.

The definite down-side to the season is the many times that they leave me alone to attend various Christmas drinks, parties and events. They have become very entrenched in the local community and as such see the need to socialise – without me! I had to endure a whole Sunday alone while they helped out on the cake stall and selling raffle tickets at the Dennes Point Christmas Fair, another Sunday when they swanned off to drinks over at Kingston Beach. But the biggest indignity occurred last Monday when M&D hosted the annual Neighborhood Christmas drinks. When we have guests, I like to greet them with exuberance and enthusiasm and then proceed to lurk around in the hope of looking cute enough to elicit food from them (I am good at this). They thwarted me on this occasion by banishing me to the studio with Classic FM on the radio and a ‘chill pill’. They couldn’t hear my manic barking, or at least, they pretended not to. When they finally relented there was plenty of crumbs to hoover up in the aftermath.

Walking with Dad, Norman and Leanne and Kent (Normie’s M&D). Pearl was off sniffing.

The afternoon walk on the beach is happily still a constant, although the weather was so bad last week, we actually missed one evening, and I didn’t even really mind – it really was miserable. The highlights are those times when our walks coincide with my mates Norman and Pearl. We have a great time together and the added bonus is that their M&D bring Normie’s discarded beef chews for me. Sadly, my mate Mercx and his Dad have gone back to the mainland to live. At this time of the year the tourists are starting to arrive and with them their dogs. Sometimes they don’t understand that Nebraska Beach is my domain and that they should be a bit more respectful of the locals. The upshot is that I have to be on the lead a little more than I think is necessary. This might have to be put on the negative side of the Christmas ledger.

I am going to remain positive this Christmas and try not to stress M&D too much by bad behaviour. I won’t even mind too much if the presents are a little underwhelming, I really love to rip up the wrapping paper and any cardboard boxes unwittingly left around (although I do suspect that M&D leave them around on purpose).

Merry Christmas from Ruby on an island off an island.

Forget the aches and pains, the extra nose and ear hairs, the short-term memory loss and the out of fashion, curmudgeonly railing against perceived injustices, and shouting at the TV and expecting a response, there is one sure-fire way to denote that you are getting old.

I remember a time when going somewhere in the car meant getting to your destination as quickly as possible. Never contemplate even the slightest deviation from the shortest route known to man. If the trip was long enough to warrant a food stop, it had to be McDonald’s because they were quick, the coffee reputedly good and the bathrooms clean – in, out and on the road again in record time. Needless to say, speed was of the essence and speeding fines were just a necessary consequence.

So, this was the scenario in the early years for many a sojourn particularly between Wollongong and Orange. Pile us and our first dog, Licorice, into the Cortina (!), Celica etc and endeavour to reach our target in under four hours. Fast forward to the present and it was decided that we would drive over to the Cygnet markets and then come back via Kingston – a round trip of a couple of hours. We were to include Ruby because we have a great complex about leaving her on her own at home, (could we stand the recriminations on our return?).

The Cygnet markets were a little less impressive than normal, but we bought some local seedlings for the vegetable garden and it was a chance for Ruby to sniff, strut and preen around the stalls. Back in the car for the picturesque wander through orchards, vineyards, villages and farmland through the Huon Valley. And here comes the first hint of pensioner-type behaviour – a six kilometre detour to a renowned bakery at Ranelagh on the recommendation of a Bruny friend. This would never have been contemplated back in the Celica days. It turned out to be a pleasant distraction that afforded morning tea in the garden with Ruby under the table waiting for her portion of my lemon semolina cake.

Back on the road up through the valley taking in glimpses of the Huon River and beautiful surrounding farmscapes, we found ourselves on a road with 80 km speed limit. Horror of horrors, I wasn’t keeping to the speed limit, but was actually not even reaching it! I was intent on soaking in the scenery and enjoying the rather pedestrian pace. However, I was aware of four or five cars lining up behind me, and much to my absolute amazement, I pulled off the road to allow them to pass before continuing on our merry way. If that’s not a sign of getting old, I’ll take my old man’s driving hat off and throw it away. Jan’s only comment was, ‘Next time we should pack a thermos of tea and stop for a picnic, and you can really buy a hat to wear when dawdling through the country’.

Sadly, more pointers occurred on the way home. Mindless detours, scoping out where the next public conveniences might be and stops at places of interest and local lookouts. The final indignity was having to relinquish the driving duties because of aching shoulders and the very real need for a wee nap. And did our faithful dog enjoy her little outing? We’re not sure as a lot of the trip was spent harrumphing (we suspect,) on the back seat.

Now, with that 70th birthday imminent, I have to say, it ain’t all bad. No more pressure of  work, trying to keep up with technology, a timetable to adhere to, but replaced with time to sit and contemplate, read  and do as little or as much as you feel like – and in your own sweet time. Where did I put that thermos?

Not having any natural offspring to call my own, Father’s Day might slip by unnoticed in our household. Ruby, however has different ideas on this and as an integral part of the family, takes it on herself to be the surrogate daughter and celebrate the day anyway. This year she must have decided that my cultural horizons needed attention and miraculously organized a visit to MONA. She chose not to come with us as her artistic leanings tend to be more beach-oriented and definitely more olfactory in nature.

It was an early start to make the 10.30 MONA ferry for the twenty-minute trip up the Derwent. Ruby picked the coldest day with kunanyi cloaked in snow and a very icy wind sweeping across the water ensuring our coats, gloves and scarves were essential apparel. The one hundred steps up from the ferry terminal to the entrance are a daunting prospect.

What struck me way before the incredible art works and installations was the engineering and architecture of the place – the whole structure seemingly carved out of the sandstone bedrock. More galleries appear to be under construction as we speak.

One can only marvel at some of the exhibits that leave you awe-struck, stimulated and overwhelmed all at the same time. The water curtain that spells words as the water tumbles to the floor or the multi-screened theatre showcasing dance, the topical news rendered in bread sculptures, and the fire-ravaged landscape were intriguing;

The reflective, shiny cocoon, the fat red car and the wall of ‘see you next Tuesdays’ were more whimsical and fun. Amongst all the weird and wonderful, it was interesting to note that the Arthur Boyd’s, the Brett Whiteley’s and the Del Kathryn Barton’s held their own.

Lunch at The Source did not disappoint either. Shared platters of beetroot and broad beans and chorizo-infused custard with fennel followed by blue-eye trevally with scallops and squid in squid-ink for me and a baked cheese soufflé for Jan. I couldn’t resist a dessert of strawberries, panna cotta, cucumber sorbet and gin and tonic jelly.

I can’t help but be impressed by the philanthropy of David Walsh – not only to curate such an amazing art collection, but to make it free for all Tasmanians to enjoy. An added bonus of our Ruby-inspired visit is that like every other person we know, we can now say, “Yes. We have been to MONA”. We no longer have to feel culturally deprived and inferior to all and sundry.

There was, of course a price to pay for our wonderful day trip. The provider of the experience was a psychological mess when we got home. Being left all day to her own devices proved too stressful for Ruby and she went through all the usual darting about, diving under furniture, dribbling and manic behaviour to show her displeasure and genuine concern at our absence.

Readers of this blog will know that a couple of weeks ago, in a foolhardy moment, I suggested to some of my Bruny mates that I would be up for a bit of cold water swimming. Pete, who avails himself of the joys of the ocean all year round took me up on my bravado and we are now officially the ‘Dennes Point Great Rights’- officially might be an overstatement as the name only came up as a suggestion today and so far we have been pretty unsuccessful in swelling the ranks. Our respective spouses shake their heads and our friends V & G have been once – but wore their wetsuits!

So here’s the drill. 10 am ( if we’re around) we meet at the northern end of Nebraska Beach which is quite sheltered. One of us strides straight in and under. The other ( author of this post) immerses herself gradually, never getting her hair or face wet. We stay in for 15 minutes during which time we chat, then we go home. For me this involves a quick 2 minute drive up the hill and then into the shower.

The benefits of cold water swimming are well documented and I must admit I feel fabulous for hours afterwards though my cobbled together cold water swimming ensemble looks pretty ordinary.

What’s the saying about six weeks to make a habit? We’re two weeks in so next time I write about this bit of life here on Bruny it will be commonplace. Air and water temperatures will also be warmer. Today? Air = 12, Water = 11. Yes! #@*& freezing!

Love from the Island

I am now officially a Swans supporter!

I know this will surprise many of you who understand that I don’t give a toss about any kind of football, and that any sporting allegiance I may have is limited to Team AUSTRALIA at the Olympics and Comm Games plus the mighty Colour City Dragon Boat Club. But needs must, and when I had to nominate ‘my’ team for the end of season Dennes Point footy tipping ‘get together’, I followed Marcus’s lead and went for the Sydney Swans.

A bit of background here for our non Aussie readers. Tasmania is an AFL (Australian Football League) state. We come from an NRL (rugby league) state. I have a vague idea about NRL but nought about AFL!

Thankfully Mr M is more across the sporting codes and has been responsible for our participation in the competition over the past few months. My contribution has been that my email address has been used as the conduit between tipping central and M & J Richards! We came a respectable 46th out of 70 which isn’t bad for newcomers. The winner, Marilyn, maintained the lead from day one walking away with the cash prize and perpetual trophy!

We are about to head into the finals, and yesterday was the annual get together of the Dennes Point tippers. We were asked to dress in team colours (hence my having to choose my team). The Swans are red and white which allowed me fee reign in my wardrobe – who knew that those red corduroy pants would come in so useful!

The event was held at the Jetty Cafe and featured a spit roast, salads, cheese, sweet treats and lots of alcohol! It was a great way to catch up with our neighbours and there was a little silly behaviour. I have memories of volunteering for several things including starting swimming from 1 September! Hopefully Pete and V will have forgotten that conversation. We were invited to an after party at ‘Social Central’ but declined the invitation to get home to the, by then anxious, black baby.

A huge shout out to Mick who ran the competition this year and his mentor and event organiser Lynne. Thanks to Justin and Corey, spit roasters par excellence; to Kris and Ray for providing the perfect venue; and to everyone for your food contributions and good company.

I’m now learning the Swans team song in preparation for next year! ‘Onward to Victory’.

Love from the Island.

It would seem that there is a new concern for M&D relating to my health. This can be a blessing and a curse. Let me explain. The day that Mum flew out to Dublin for one of her Library ‘things’ I was taken to the vet because my face had changed shape quite dramatically over the last week or so. Unlike previous dogs in this family, I quite like going to the vet. Its good to get ‘off island’ even if it means an uncomfortable trip in the ute. Don’t worry, I’m in the cab with Dad, but he does get stressed when I insist on putting my head on the console. Anyway, the vet staff are particularly welcoming. Sheridan, the receptionist, always seems to be excited to see me and is ready with lots of liver treats and ear rubs.

Russell, the vet who dealt expertly with my endoscopy on my previous visit checked me out this time. The usual indignities were deemed necessary but this time there were big medical terms being bandied about and a distinct sense of disquiet between Dad and Russell. We left the vet’s in a very sombre mood.

I was referred to a veterinary neurologist from Melbourne, and as luck would have it, I was able to get in to see him later in the week. That meant another long trip in the ute up to Hobart. Dr. Sam seemed nice enough, and I’m sure had the expertise to match his charming ‘bed-side manner’. His prognosis was a little more positive, but still those worrying big words remained in the conversation – Mandibular neuritis, idiopathic tri-geminal neuropathy or hypo-thyroid something or other all got a run.

Snuggling with Dad

M&D are still uneasy because no one can give a definitive prediction of the future. For me, this is a real benefit and something that I can, and do, exploit quite shamelessly. They are constantly looking for any changes in behaviour that may be a symptom. Dad already thinks I sleep a lot more and so lounge-time has been increased and he has been much more likely to be close by to snuggle with.

There have been more treats (for the poor, sick pup). Mum has noticed that I have ‘broadened across the beam’ in her absence, although the blow-torch is applied to Dad rather than me. The dreaded words ‘portion control’ have been re-introduced to the vocabulary.

One minute I’m on the beach, the next minute vamoosh!

The biggest bonus has been me not getting into trouble for my Houdini-like disappearances. Last week on the beach I did my usual trick of taking off up into the shacks and staying just far enough away to be cutely annoying without being able to be caught. I got as far as my best friend’s Norman and Pearl’s before I allowed myself to be grabbed. The walk back to the car was uncomfortable but I wasn’t smacked or even yelled at. I did, however, get the ‘I’m very disappointed’ speech.

Even better, the day before Mum got home, a gate was left open which I exploited to the full and took off for an hour or so. When I saw Dad walking and driving all over the neighbourhood, I thought it best to return home. When he drove up the driveway, I was waiting for him in the fishpond. Just to extend the fun a little longer I ran across the road to say hello to Rosie. (I didn’t think that through because in playing with her, I lost concentration and was unceremoniously collared and marched home.) But here’s my point – No punishment!

So, I will continue to push the boundaries in the hope that my ‘condition’, whatever that may be, will continue to elicit sympathy and a greater understanding of my canine needs and wishes. Wish me luck!

Ruby.

Hi friends, Ruby here writing from the couch where I’m convalescing after emergency surgery. It’s been a tough 24 hours but let me reassure you that I’m fine and the many veterinary professionals who have cared for me during that time have declared me an ‘absolute delight’ – just saying.

So let’s rewind the clock and set the scene. Regular readers will know I have a penchant for swallowing socks and handkerchiefs. Not eating, more like a hoovering action. After a few days in captivity I release them back into the world, usually via the same path that they entered the dark and murky insides of one black Labrador. Aunty Adrienne describes this as ridiculous behaviour while Mum and Dad despair and keep careful watch over my bodily functions.

Over the years there have been mutterings of ‘if it doesn’t come up we’ll have to go to the vet’ but until yesterday I’d managed to perform miracles and ensured that the offending article reappeared before I was loaded in the car.

On 4 July 2022 my run of good luck came to an end and I found myself off to the Tasmanian Animal Hospital in Kingston. After the usual enthusiastic welcome from Sheridan I was ushered in to see Dr Russell who seemed to take the issue very seriously. Lots of prodding and poking and perhaps not enough of the liver treats on the counter ( just saying). Next thing Mum and I were back in the car heading to the surgery in Bellerive where something called an ultrasound was planned! I was quite keen to see this Bellerive place as I know of it from passively absorbing cricket commentary with Dad during summer. Any dreams of running amok on the hallowed ground was soon dispelled when we pulled up at yet another vet practice and I was shown into a room behind the scenes area and Mum disappeared.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur and is recounted from conversations I overheard while in the recovery position. It would seem that the ultrasound showed a mass in my stomach which they deduced was said sock and so I was wheeled into surgery for an endoscopy performed by Dr Rob. From what I understand I exceeded all expectations and made Dr Rob a superstar as he pulled not one, but two socks from my stomach – oh and two handkerchiefs as well. One of the socks went ‘missing’ when Rylee was here in February, imagine! Dr Rob offered to provide Mum with a video of the event, which she declined ( though Aunty Regina is keen to see it for professional interest).

I was then transferred to the AVEC (After Hours Emergency Veterinary Centre) for overnight care and monitoring before being driven back to Kingston this morning where Mum and Dad collected me and bought me home with a big bag of medications and many instructions. I’m already dreading the fussing, Mum will go into nurse overdrive.

I’ve been listening to M&D and they are full of praise for Tasmanian Veterinary Hospitals and the whole customer service experience where they were ‘kept in the loop the whole time’. I believe someone called Mr Joyce could learn from this. Whatever!

Love from the Island from one very sleepy Ruby

I have just completed an online customer experience survey with Air Dolomiti. A subsidiary of Lufthansa you would be forgiven for not necessarily recognising it as a brand; they were unknown to us until a week ago when we flew with them from Genova to Munich. There were a number of things which impressed me about this airline, especially their positive attitude towards constructive feedback.

It’s a shame that Qantas doesn’t take a leaf out of Air Dolomiti’s book! Almost a month after my first message to Qantas’s ‘Customer Care’ service I am still only at the ‘thank you for your message’ stage despite multiple attempts to contact them via various means. Sad when you have to resort to your blog to vent your spleen.

Let’s start at the beginning. We left Hobart on 16 May bound for Sydney and then onto London. Our planned turnaround time in Sydney was comfortable but a series of delays in Hobart made it increasingly tight. Consequently soon after takeoff we informed the cabin crew that we had a connecting international connection. The young woman who we will call K had an interesting response – ‘can you remind me again when we get closer to Sydney, I have a terrible memory’. Right! The consultant in me wanted to suggest that a pad and pencil may come in handy or that she might want to reconsider her career choice; would she remember the safety drill in an emergency? As it happened she did remember we’d asked her something and came back to ask us what we’d asked her. She was ‘onto it’. That’s the last time we ever saw her! Luckily there were another few passengers for the London flight on board, all of whom had received a similar response, and collectively we found our way to the transfer gate to be whisked across the tarmac.

By comparison my new friends at Air Dolomiti handled a similar situation in a proactive and reassuring manner. By the time we landed in Munich on our delayed flight from Genova every transferring passenger had been assured of what was happening and what steps they needed to take regardless of their final destination. Maybe K could see if she could undertake a mentorship process with the Germans?

Relived to be aboard QF1 London bound we settled into our seats. The ‘leather’ on my footrest was shredded and the whole thing was attached to the seat in front at a particularly jaunty angle and the mood lighting had been removed and gaffer taped over. Annoying but first world problem. What wasn’t so acceptable was the remnants of a previous passenger’s meal tray down either side of my seat and their used earplugs in the tray area. I informed the crew who apologised profusely and promised everything would be addressed at our stop over in Darwin. It wasn’t, and the first of my correspondence with ‘Customer Care’ began.

Lesson learnt- take a photo of your luggage for reference!

My mood wasn’t lightened when we arrived at Heathrow but my suitcase didn’t and I began the long process of 1) actually locating the company which handles Qantas lost baggage and 2) dealing with them and their website over the ensuing days. It was only after I found a sympathetic ear at the end of the line a few days after our arrival, when I may have lead her to believe that I had a more important role in the wedding we’d travelled for than mere guest, that things began to move. The word ‘gown’ is quite powerful. It was a week before my bag and I were reunited by which time some of the outfits I’d packed for specific events were surplus to requirements. I must acknowledge Regional Express (REX) here – ‘the years we prefer to forget’ mean that I now always travel with spare underwear and makeup even if it’s only meant to be a day trip so I was at least a little prepared.

Fast forward to last Monday when we turned our faces to the south and boarded QF2 for Sydney after a magical three weeks catching up with family, friends in England and being part of Sam and Guiditta’s wedding in Italy. After a couple of glasses of bubbles in the Qantas Lounge we boarded the plane and settled into our seats. ‘Better just check down the sides’ I said laughingly with my mirth turning to disgust as I ejected a salt and pepper sachet from one side of my seat and a paper napkin from the other. I was on that call button before I’d even been offered the welcome drink. While I feel some assurance that this complaint was recorded the comment that this was a now common problem didn’t fill me with confidence. I’m sure if I scroll through Qantas’s increasingly difficult to navigate site there will be a comment about COVID and cleanliness.

I decided the best way to cope was to sleep the 15 hours to Darwin which I did. I no doubt looked a sight as no care package with eye mask was forthcoming so I wrapped my scarf around my eyes a la ‘pin the tale on the donkey’ and just got on with it.

Arrived in Sydney at 5am and through to the luggage carousel soon afterwards. This time my bag appeared almost immediately but by the time the roundabout came to a standstill there was nary a sign of Marcus’s bag with its distinctive yellow wheels. Another victim of Qantas/LHR or both! The luggage controller must have come from central casting in the ‘how not to offer customer service’ training video. As we were the first flight of the day I dread to think of the help and advice others received. After days of checking the status of Marcus’s bag and a long phone call he received a call today to say it’s in Hobart and should be with us tomorrow, a week after it was last sighted.

So I can hear some of you say ‘just don’t fly Qantas’ and believe me our long-standing loyalty is being tested – this is the Readers Digest version of my complaints. The reality is that when COVID hit we had a number of flights booked with the flying kangaroo and made the decision to support them rather than asking for a refund. We’re now in the situation of having flights booked to use up our credit. Qantas communications constantly talk about respecting each other but increasingly I’m feeling that respect for the customer has gone the way of the Tasmanian Tiger.

Time to take Ruby for a walk and be grateful for the life we lead. Rant over.

Postscript: M’s bag has just been delivered by courier. Thank heavens he had gone by the consignment note not the address label Qantas had affixed to the bag which was going to a ‘Richards’ at Bicheno which is 4.5 hours north of us! The driver twigged there was a problem when he looked at the label as he had delivered to the Bicheno address yesterday. Tell me Qantas, is it that hard?

We are often guilty of waxing lyrical about the beauty of the view from our house, looking back across the d’Entrecasteaux Channel to Tasmania. It’s a scene we never get tired of due to the ever-changing nature of it. Today, for example, the gale-force winds are chopping up the water and the white caps are charging across the Channel. No water craft of any sort would venture out in such conditions. All this framed by the trees thrashing about and struggling not to be shredded by wind and rain. Tasmania keeps disappearing as each rain squall comes and goes. Even in such a miserable state, there is majesty and charm because it’s our view.

I write of this now because we have been lucky enough to experience some other pretty spectacular and/or special coastlines in our recent trip to England and Italy.

The first of which was a nostalgic trip back to the coastline of my childhood. Back in the day it was plain old West Bay, Dorset, but now it is deemed part of the Jurassic Coastline, famous for its fossils of that era. Few people would describe the beaches of West Bay as beautiful – more brutal – with its pebble beach, monolithic piers imposing themselves on the English Channel and the towering cliffs of East Beach (made famous by the TV series Broadchurch). To the east is the geographic phenomena of Chesil Beach and The Fleet ending in the spectacular Portland Bill. For the first time in living memory this pilgrimage was met with sunny and warm weather. (To be fair, most other visits have been in winter).

The next coastline on our journey could be described in gentler terms. Our hotel in Genova was situated in the heart of the marina with our balcony overlooking the millions of dollars’ worth of yachts directly below us.

We took a day cruise down the Ligurian coast to Portofino. The dramatic cliffs are interspersed with quaint and picturesque villages huddled in the many coves and inlets along the coast. Being Republican Day in Italy gave the Italians the chance to ‘come out and play’. Every conceivable water craft was being employed to catch the first of summer warmth. Most impressive of such craft was the super yacht “Arrow” a 75m monster available to rent at 850,000 euros per week!

Lastly, and most memorable, was the location of the wedding that was our raison d’etre for the trip. This gem was found east of Genova in the township of Borgia-Verezzi. The site of the wedding, and our accommodation was the Villa Sole, a stone building clinging to the side of a precipitous cliff with incredible views down to the coast. Between parties, weddings and breakfasts we spent many long hours sitting, marvelling at the vista below, always with a prosecco or Aperol spritzer in hand.

Now I type this surveying the Channel on a cold, rainy day while I contemplate how much I missed it while we were away.


I knew it, I knew it, as soon as I saw those dreaded suitcases appear, something was afoot. Why is Auntie Beb here if they are going away? Then it happened, off they went in Dad’s Ute with not a look back.


So here I am, ready to take my anger out on Auntie Beb. First there was her nice pink sock, very tasty. Then knickers – if I get my way she won’t have any left before long. Damn, she’s got the hang of making sure her bag is closed and the bedroom door too.

Oh well looks like M & D have deserted me and Auntie Beb has got treats so it can’t be all bad. I still get my walk on the beach, and breakfast and dinner are usually on time.


What’s this? Just got into a routine and strangers arrive. I’m told it’s Auntie Patricia and Uncle Mossy. They were forewarned about my addiction to socks and knickers and immediately kept their bedroom door closed. Spoil sports. Although I did try Uncle Mossy’s glasses, but then realised a Labrador doesn’t need glasses being a seeing eye dog.

I believe Auntie Patricia was responsible for M &D getting my big, big, big sister, Licorice, who they describe as the second naughtiest dog they’ve ever owned. Not sure who was judged the naughtiest. I helped Auntie Patricia in the kitchen and also assisted her in eating her dinner.


Just got used to them being here and they all decided to go out for the day and I had to take a chill pill, the indignity of it all. WHERE ARE MY MUM AND DAD????


On the upside Auntie Beb keeps treats coming and sometimes she indulges me with something special – she doesn’t strictly adhere to Mum’s words about ‘portion control’! Better not tell M & D.

Then yesterday I heard a familiar sound. Was that Dad’s Ute coming down the hill? They’re back with all sort of foreign scents about their persons and tales of lost luggage. I was so pleased I haven’t given them the treatment – yet! That will come when they least expect it.

Ruby ( with thanks to Aunty B for taking dictation).