Friday, November 09, 2012

First Tuesday in November

I had the luxury of three days off in a row over the weekend. We didn't plan anything special it was just good to relax and spend some time with the family.
We did have a celebratory meal on Sunday night, the first chance we'd had to mark Spike's 21st birthday which happened a couple of weeks ago. The Heir and his girlfriend were headed for Lorne for a couple of days so they couldn't join us but the rest of us ordered Chinese takeaway and had a lovely night sitting on the back verandah, laughing, eating, telling stories and reminiscing. The weather was good and a great time was had by all.
It is two years since we moved from Busselton and we agreed that while the time had gone quickly, a great deal has happened  since we moved to Victoria.
On Monday Mrs Holt Press and I went up to Melblourne to see her old school friend Tracey who is an art curator at the Gasworks Gallery complex in South Melbourne to discuss the possibility of me having an exhibition there next year. She was very encouraging and keen to see it happen which was very affirming. From there we went to Ikea to buy a few frames to see how some of my drawings would look framed. We ate at the Ikea cafeteria. I had the meatballs.

The first Tuesday in November will be memorable for three reasons. Australia stopped for the Melbourne Cup. Barack Obama went to the polls and emerged victorious and won a second term as President of the USA. And I was in hospital!

It started on Monday night. We went to bed early as I was due back at work at 6.22 Tuesday morning.
However, neither of us could sleep. Sleep is not normally a problem for me but after two hours laying in bed and Mrs Holt Press tossing and turning in shared frustration, I got up and sat in my recliner chair, hoping a change of setting might do the trick.
Instead over the following hour I started getting stomach pains which intensified with every minute.
I took some Nurofen but that didn't help.
I moved to the futon couch but sleep eluded me and the pain just got worse.Added to the pain I had the worst case of explosive belching and burping I've ever experienced.Not normal burps, not even the kind brought on by Coca-Cola. Relentless deep rumbling gaseous eruptions . Did I have food poisoning? Were the meatballs wreaking a terrible revenge? There's been a gastro bug going around? Was I the latest victim?
I tried going to the toilet but there was no tell-tale diarrhea, in fact there was nothing at all.
Then I vomited.
Not much sadly. I'm a believer in the theory that the sooner you get it all out the quicker you feel better.
That was not to be my fate.

By 5.00am I was in desperate straits.
I rang work to let them know I was sick and couldn't come to work.

By 5.30 I had no choice but to wake up Mrs HP who had at least fallen asleep some time earlier.
"I'm sorry to do this but I'm really sick. I've had terrible stomach pains for the last 4 hours and have just thrown up"
She was very sympathetic and supportive, administered paracetomol and offered to take me to the hospital.

We delayed that until she'd gotten Sport Boy up and on the way to school at 7.30.
Before that I suffered the sort of gut-wrenching vomiting that starts at the toenails and grabs everything in its path and forces it upwards and outwards in excruciating heaving waves of pain. By this stage, all that came up was liquid and bitter tasting bile. I was a mess.

The drive to the hospital was awful. Every bump, every breath, every movement sent pain shuddering through me. We had to stop enroute as I feared another vomiting attack but it mercifully subsided.

I literally staggered into the emergency dept and told my sad tale of woe to the duty nurse.
They swiftly took me into emergency and began assessing and assisting me.
First priority was getting the pain under control.
Bring on the morphine.

"How is it now Mr Holt?"

A bit better...

"I'll give you a bit more...don't want to knock you out..."
 Three doses finally did the trick.


Next came "the champagne of anti-nausea drugs", "just let this dissolve under your tongue Mr Holt"

OK, I no longer felt like throwing up. Instead my mouth felt like a dried up dingo dropping on a December day in the Simpson.

Can I have some water please?

"Sorry Mr Holt, but I'll get you some ice chips"

This wasn't exactly a lie, he just waited a further two hours to deliver!!
In the meantime...
Over the next few hours they tested me for a variety of things, ruling out the worst systematically.

Chest and abdominal x-rays. All clear.

CT scan. All clear. (In a classic case of the sublime to the ridiculous I was forced to drink a litre and a half of aniseed flavoured liquid in the 45 minutes prior to the CT scan. CT stands for Computer Tomography by the way. I asked Bruce the radiologist)

"Mr Holt, we're going to do a gastroscopy and have a closer look for the problem"

"We'll just spray some local anaesthetic down the back of your throat and some general to knock you out. Open wide please..."

"Mr Holt, wake up Mr Holt, you're in recovery..."

"We're admitting you now Mr Holt, the orderly will take you up to the ward..."

It was about 4 o'clock by this stage and Mrs HP had moved the car three times. She went home to check on the family and fetch me a few things.

I slept on and off for the next few hours.

I was allowed to drink but no food!

Mrs HP returned with various items and some TLC. She was wonderful throughout my whole ordeal. Tender, concerned, supportive, helpful, loving, patient and kind. I realized again why I love her and told her so.

I should say, in case anything is misconstrued that the staff at the hospital were fantastic throughout. Every nurse, orderly, doctor, med student, specialist and ward staff who dealt with me was wonderful. I felt very well cared for.

There were three other blokes in the ward but none of us were up for any conversation.

I slept for 2-3 hours at a time throughout the night, a couple of panadol all that was necessary to keep the pain at bay.

Next morning the doctor informed me that the gastroscopy had revealed small ulcers on my osophagus, signs of Reflux Disease. They were giving me Nexium through the IV.

Still no food, just water and apple juice.

By mid-morning my signs were all significatly improved.

Food was back on the menu. woohoo!

Sadly hospital food maintained its underwhelming reputation but at least it was something to stave off the hunger.

"How are you feeling now Mr Holt?"

A lot better than I was yesterday

"OK, you've manged some food without further problems, I think we can let you go home this afternoon"

A couple of hours, some paperwork and a prescription later they were true to their word.

Mrs HP collected me at about 3.00pm, just in time to see on a TV monitor that the President had been re-elected. More good news.

Thursday was a rostered day off so I spent the day recovering and resting. Most of the pain has gone. The tablets are working. I felt a bit tender and washed out  but otherwise not too bad.

So much so that I returned to work this morning. (5.30 start!!) and got through the day in one piece.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Planets Align

Once in a while everything falls together at the right time in the right place to create something good.

Like this afternoon.

Mrs Holt Press worked in Torquay this morning. She has started doing some cleaning work after making some connections in the local area. She enjoys it and it provides a break from the family routine and caring for her Dad Alan. 

I finished work just after 2pm, having started at 6am.

We arranged to meet in Torquay for lunch.

On a hunch I rang her Dad and asked if he'd like to come with me to Torquay.

Surprisingly he said yes. Bear in mind he is 93 and has significant disabilities so getting around is a bit of a challenge. 
I said I'd be there in 15 minutes to pick him up.

"I'll be waiting" he replied cheerfully.

We met at a Pizza and Pasta restaurant in the seaside town of Torquay.

Alan worked out that although it was a place the Jones family often went when the kids were young, he hadn't been to Torquay in 33 years.

An even greater revelation was that he had never had a pizza!!

Emboldened by his surprise outing he also decided to try  pizza for the first time.

He had a traditional Aussie pizza: Hawaiian ham and pineapple!!

And he liked it!

On the way home we drove along the beachfront at Torquay. He smiled as he recognized a few familiar sights amidst all the new development and growth, and pointed out the Bowling Club overlooking the ocean.

A simple but very rewarding afternoon.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Warrnambool, Mildura, Swan Hill, Benalla

 I had two weeks off work recently and took the opportunity to do some touring around Victoria.
Mrs Holt Press and I had a day out to Warrnambool in the south west of the state on the train.
 I then took a train and bus journey to Mildura to visit Julie and Mrs King before going on to Benalla via Swan Hill to see Mum and Vicki. As "promised" here are a few pics from my travels.
Art at the Swan Hill Gallery

 Billy Brownless' pub in Swan Hill
 Old paddle steamer, Swan Hill
 Greg, a fellow Cats fan at his photographic shop in Swan Hill.
 Top quality car dealership, Swan Hill
 With apologies to Arnie, Swan Hill
 Two lovely ladies at Benalla train station
 I am a lot bigger than them!!!!!
 Art at Swan Hill
 An artist we met at a gallery in Mildura with some of his work which he did while living in China
 Art in Mildura
 Julie and her Mum Mrs King
 Not even my bulk could block out all the quilts on Julie's walls!
 Makeshift cinema in Swan Hill
 The old Fletcher Jones factory in Warrnambool, now home to the Mill Markets

 Public art re. the Warrnambool bike race along the Great Ocean Road
 Mrs HP rugged up against the cold overlooking the bay in Warrnambool
 The train we were about to catch back to Geelong
Warrnambool is a pretty little town on the ocean which reminds me a bit of Albany

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Broadie's Boys

My mate Broady sent me the link to this great video of his kids Tom and Ned trying to win Freo's goal of the year comp, AND providing their own musical backing. Very cool.
Nice work boys.

Tom & Ned

Talking of cool, the Cats were that and more on Saturday arvo in beating the high-flying Crows.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Mighty Cats

Just enough time before I go to work to say the Cats were awesome last night!
I went to the game with Favourite Daughter who, with the benefit of a radio and binoculars loved it too.
We sat next to a family from Kojonup who know my Cats mad friend Julie, and in front of us was a family from Manjimup.
It was Geelong's best game of the season, right when they needed it.

Go Cats.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Recent Drawings

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sleep? What Sleep?

My holidays ended yesterday. I leave for work in 10 minutes.
In honour of this occasion I had the worst night's sleep in the history of sleep.
I was still hyped up after getting back from the football, despite Geelong's disappointing but expected loss to Collingwood so the first half hour was doomed to keep me awake. Just when sleep looked possible the loud and distinctive car horn beep of my phone in the study shattered the silence. Who on earth was texting me at 1 in the morning? Some unaware Magpie fan on the other side of the country no doubt! 5 minutes later the reminder beep went off and the third and finally signal followed 10 minutes after that. 
From that point on there were snippets of sleep but nothing restful or extended. I observed the clock change from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 throughout the night. I tried changing positions, deep breathing, holding my breath etc all to no avail until of course the inevitable irony! With less than an hour until I had to get up I fell asleep for the longest uninterrupted stretch of the night!
The 7.20 alarm was not received with joy.
Despite this sad tale, I had an excellent two weeks off , and I'm not unhappy about returning to work.
There are worse ways to spend a Sunday than being paid double time to drive a bus and listen to the footy all day.

Pictures and stories of the holidays to follow, including visits to Warrnambool, Mildura, Swan Hill, Benalla and Tatong.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


I'm on holidays! Woohoo! Two weeks off. In the middle of Winter! We had hoped to go up to Queensland but the trip to Perth to sort out Spike's move to Victoria scuttled that plan. It's great having him here though so it's all good. All of the Holt Press kids have been here for the weekend and this afternoon I took The Heir, Favourite Daughter and Sport Boy to the footy at Kardinia Park. It was a cold wet grey wintery day but we managed to enjoy ourselves and the cats had a win. If you want to read my report on the game you'll have to wait until the publication of the 2012 Footy Almanac because I have the gig of writing up today's game for the book. This occurred because Mrs Holt Press and I chatted to John Harms (TFA Editor) at a Lord's Taverners Dinner we went to in Melbourne on Thursday night, this a gift from the kids for my birthday. We enjoyed our night out, tasty food and interesting discussion.
Yesterday was a momentous day in Holt Press family history: Sport Boy played his first game of Aussie Rules, turning out for Barwon Heads against Corio in the U14s. Having spent all of his sporting career up until now playing soccer , he did not star, in fact his modest statistics read 1 mark, 1 handball and a few scrambles according to his Mum's match report, sms'd to me as I drove a bus to Deakin Uni, but he apparently enjoyed himself greatly.
He too is on holidays for the next two weeks and in a bizarre observance of this fact has committed an act that has brought shame on the family name: he has got himself a mullet!!
Needless to say, the rest of the family are not impressed! He, for reasons known only to himself, is very proud of it!!!! In the interests of public decency I will not be posting any pictures of it on this blog!!

Meanwhile, Favourite Daughter concluded her first semester at the photography school with a presentation of her portfolio of pictures to her classmates and lecturers. She was pretty stressed getting it finished so I'm glad to report that she received a lot of positive feedback and feels very pleased with what she accomplished. We looked at the pictures, in 4 categories, people, place, object and concept on the big screen TV on Friday night and were all impressed with her pictures.
The Heir and Spike are both injured at present. Spike  broke his hand in a skateboard crash and it will be in a cast for another couple of weeks and his brother had boiling water spilled on him at work and his foot is burnt and blistered and he's struggling to walk on it.

I am in both good health and good spirits, all the more so that I don't have to go back to work for two weeks. For those who have been following my exploits on ebay selling old Coles Football cards I'm pleased to report that a new record high price was reached today. Last week I sold a John Coleman card for the most impressive sum of $113 but today that mark was soundly beaten with the sale of another Essendon legend, Bill Hutchison, for the price of $150!!!!! Remembering that I bought the cards along with a box of old footy records for the total price of $50 a few months ago, I have now sold cards to a total of over $1500!! And I still have several left including some big names that I hope will continue to bring very good prices.

Tomorrow , after watching the EURO 2012 Final, Spain v Italy, The Heir and I will pick up the stuff we shipped over from Perth from their Geelong depot and then I'll take him and his big screen TV up to Melbourne in time for him to start work at 5.
I have no other firm plans for my break but I hope to take a day trip on the train to Warrnambool and go on a family excursion to Daylesford. Throw in some reading, some drawing and some watching of the Tour de France and it should be both relaxing and enjoyable.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Other than having to get up and go to work at 5.30 on a cold dark and stormy morning I had an excellent birthday yesterday.
True, not one of the several hundred passengers I picked up wished me a happy birthday, despite it being only a year since my last one, and on that occasion I wore a large "50" badge to signify the event. Never mind. My family all remembered (well nearly all but we won't quibble!)
With Spike now living here, Big Sister having returned from her visit (clean up mission) to Queensland and Mum having come down from the cold at Tatong there were plenty of family members to celebrate with when I got home.
A beautiful roast lamb dinner was prepared, followed by my favourite dessert, chocolate mousse, and a cake without candles with Spike substituting a lighter hovering above it.
I got what I asked for, a book about Geelong's third premiership.
And a surprise from The Heir and Favourite Daughter, a dinner in Melbourne with John Harms, he of The Footy Almanac fame, as guest speaker.
And, by fortuitous circumstance, I got something I've always wanted: a trailer! Spotted on a shopping centre noticeboard, I rang the owner/seller, checked it out on the way home from work, discovered it was excellent in every way, and was able to haggle $50 off the asking price of $300. Brilliant AND a bargain :)
We finished the night off brain-storming 51 one things about me (!) memories, stories, observations etc. A most enjoyable reminiscence.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

To Perth & back

I'm home again in Ocean Grove after the whirlwind trip to Perth.
I had a great time seeing a heap of people and the "mission" to bring Spike home went very well.
All 6 of the Holt Press family were together under the one roof on Sunday night. 
Thankfully, having arrived home after 1.00am, I had arranged a shift swap and started work at 1.00pm Monday and not 5.52am as originally rostered!
Here's a few pics from the trip.

 Sally Callum & Warren
 The Claremont Share House!!!!!!
 Big Bruce
 The Busso Vets footy team in the wet at Subi

Catching up with Patesy

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Back in WA

It's been a busy 36 hours. I finished work at 10 on Wed night, drove to Melbourne and stayed the night at The Heir's apartment then flew out of Melb for Perth at 6.30 Thurs morning.
Alex picked me up from the airport and helped me collect boxes and gear before dropping me at Claremont.
The last 2 days have been spent packing up and preparing Spike and The Heirs gear in preparation for shipping to Vic. On Sunday Spike and I will fly back to Melb and the whole Holt Press family will be reunited again and living in Victoria. We are naturally pleased and excited at the prospect.
Also squeezed into the last day and a half has been:
Watching St Nick and my former teammates from the Busselton vets footy team playing Mandurah in the curtain raiser at Subi before the Eagles game last night. It was great to see the boys and catch up with a couple of mates.
Last night Letchy, Hugh, Broady and I convened the Breakfast Club and had a great night of talking laughing eating and praying at Broady's place. Our meetings are necessarily irregular these days but always good value. Phil was not there but the big news is that he and his family are returning from Afghanistan shortly to resume life in WA.
I spent this morning hanging out with Letchy before picking up a small truck from Bruce & Paula's neighbour and heading back to Claremont to finish the packing and getting all the boy's gear to the freight company.
Tonight I am staying at Sally & Warren's and we've had an excellent time catching up on one another's news.
It's good to be back in WA for a few days, not because of the place but because of the people. I've loved seeing a number of friends and there are more to see tomorrow night at the mid-season draft BBQ at St Steve's.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Many Happy Returns

There's been lots of family oriented stuff happening lately. Mrs Holt Press has returned from her trip to WA where she got to see lots of friends from Busselton and Perth, as well as seeing Spike. He is working part time and slowly making preparations to move over here, something we're all looking forward to.

Pop,Vicki, Mum and I went to Shepparton on Thursday for lunch with family and friends to celebrate Auntie Merle's birthday. I took the train, just managing to get on board at Broadmeadows station. Auntie Merle seemed to really enjoy the day and it was good to see a couple of old family friends.

The birthday theme continued yesterday with a joint celebration lunch for Pop, 76 and The Heir, 25.
Our eldest child is quarter of a century old!!!!!
The food was ordinary but the company was good with plenty of laughs and reminiscences.

Vicki and Pop are setting off for Queensland tomorrow, it's been great to have them here on and off for the last couple of weeks. Favourite daughter has moved back home for a while to help her regain her health as she's been a bit crook. She gets allergies and things and the cat and dog at the hippy house in Barwon Heads seem to have triggered this last episode.

Sport Boy has missed a couple of days school too but when he's not sick he eats like a horse, literally, grazing continually! Despite eating us out of house and home he has not put on an ounce of weight. He has however shot up about 6 inches in the last few months and now stands taller than his mother.

I've picked up a minor cold so was glad to have today off. It's back to work in the dark tomorrow though, starting at 11 past 6! 

Tottenham !

Mum returned from Europe bearing gifts. I was mightily impressed with mine.

After the disappointment of the Champions League Final and Chelsea's tinny victory denying Spurs entry to next year's UCL it gave me some cheer.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Comings and Goings in the Family

Mrs Holt Press has gone to WA for a week's holiday and is enjoying catching up with friends in Busselton at the moment. She'll head up to Perth mid-week to see more people up there and in fact the timing of her visit is excellent as there is a reunion for Joondalup Church of Christ, which we attended for sevral years, next weekend. Life gets pretty intense for Mrs HP with the ever increasing amount of time and energy required to help look after her Dad, on top of keeping the family and household running so I'm glad she's been able to have this break, even though it's only short.

The house is not empty though.
Pop has come down from Queensland for a visit and will be around another couple of weeks, long enough to celebrate Auntie Merle's birthday on the 24th and his own, his 76th, on the 28th of May.
Vicki has arrived back from South Australia having just about completed all required business associated with her settlement and impending relocation to Leopold where she is building a new house and future.
And Mum has returned from her two month trip to Europe with her friend Mona, staying in Greece, Italy and France and is with us for the next few days before returning to Tatong.

The other good news is that Spike, our one child still remaining in WA has decided to move over to Victoria following the end of the relationship that was keeping him on that side of the country. He has got a job for a few weeks in order to get some money together and get himself ready before making the big move. Hopefully Mrs HP will be able to help him with a bit of that while sh'e there this week.

See the Bombers Fly Up!

Further to my recent post "Louie Louie" regarding selling football cards on ebay, my sales have gone from strength to strength.
In the last two weeks I have sold three cards featuring old (obscure even) Essendon players for the following prices (remembering that the whole lot of footy cards, footy records and assorted other cards cost me a total of $50 and that the starting price for each of these particular cards was $15).
Reg Burgess: shot up from $20 to $76.95 in the final 10 seconds of bidding.
John Gill: similarly rose from $20 to $78 in the last 10 seconds.
Fred Gallagher: Final price, $88 (I was having a nap at the time it finished so not sure of the rapidity of the ascending bids but naturally enough I was delighted with the outcome when I awoke!)
 I will progressively sell most of the other cards and records over the next few months but without question the diamond in the rough has been these 1950s Coles Cards.
In total I have made a bit over $1100 just from the sale of this one set of old footy cards already!!
The good news is I still have about 20 cards left to sell including a few famous names such as Charlie Sutton, Ted Whitten, Bob Davis and John Coleman which I expect to fetch handsome prices.
The bloke who bought this Fred Gallagher card sent me a message that he requires just two more cards to have the complete set and one of them is a Coleman card!

On the Buses

As a bus driver I see some strange things. I see a lot of bad drivers and quite a few unusual passengers although unlike many of my colleagues, I don’t subscribe to the view that 
“This would be a great job if it weren’t for the passengers”!!
I’m smart enough to recognize this simple truth of public transport:
Passengers = customers = a bus service = my job
And the converse truth, equally as important:
No Passengers = No customers = No bus service = No job.

I see a LOT of car drivers talking on mobile phones as I drive around the city but last week I saw something new; a truck driver driving with two mobile phones, one in each hand!!!

On the #11 to Corio we go via West Geelong, past West Oval, home of former VFA team Geelong West whom I used to go and watch some Sunday afternoons as a kid in the early 70s. The #11 then deviates via North Shore where the timetable instructs us to sit for about 15 minutes before continuing on our journey. While this time is handy for reading the paper or going to the dunny it is frustrating for the passengers to sit idling idly for no apparent reason.
We wait at the first stop in Seabeach Pde. The next stop is, at an absolute maximum, 150m further up the street. However, the farcical nature of this enforced layover is made comic by the following behaviour which I have personally experienced 4 times, the most recent of which was last week.
After the obligatory 15 minute wait I took off and immediately the bell rang signalling a passenger’s request to get off at the next stop!!  They had endured a 15 minute wait on the bus to travel a distance they could have walked, back and forth, a dozen times whilst waiting!
Before you make excuses for them on the basis of ignorance, anybody who has ever caught the #11 knows about the stopover and even if they’re a first-timer, there are a few tell-tale signs like the driver putting the hand-brake on, going for a walk, taking out a newspaper, having a short nap etc to indicate we are going to be stationary for a while!
It’s as much as I can do sometimes not to burst out laughing when the bell rings but, it’s the passengers’ prerogative to get on and off when and where they choose, my job is just to drive the bus!

There is another regular passenger who cops a fair bit of criticism from other drivers. I think she has some mental health problems and admittedly her behaviour can b a little odd at times and this can stir up some drivers. I have made an effort to get to know her a little bit and be courteous and hospitable and we are on a first name basis. She did surprise me this week though when upon boarding my bus she asked if she had to pay a fare because she had “stepped on a piece of foam that morning”. To the best of my memory fare exclusions only cover certain disabilities and age categories; I don’t recall the stepping on of foam as qualifying for free travel so I made her pay the fare!