Thursday, April 03, 2014

Aloha in Three Days ...and counting

Time has flown, and is indeed flying towards the next BIG thing... this Sunday Mrs Holt Press and I fly to Hawaii to spend two weeks with our dear friends Paul and Vicki. We are ticking jobs off our to do list in preparation: passports, visas, travel money, insurance, hotel booking, flight details, connections and transfers in Sydney and Honolulu, US plugs, packing etc. Then of course there's managing Surf Boy (formerly known as Sport Boy) in our absence. Hello Nan! He's not too hard to manage apart from being coeliac (allergic to gluten) and having a propensity to lose mobile phones. He will be kept busy in our absence, initially at Soul Survivor and in the second week "on duty" at the Bells Beach Pro surfing competition. Now that he attends SEDA surf school in Torquay he and his grommie mates will be "working" at the Pro. (Trying to get close to Kellie Slater, Mick Fanning et al more likely!) Of course, he's just a little jealous that we are going to Hawaii, the birth-place of surfing :)
Paul and I met in Cairns in 1980, both of us travelling around Oz. We've grown closer and closer as the years have passed despite living on opposite sides of the world. I last saw him in New Zealand in 2009 on a fly fishing trip. We are all very excited about catching up in Hawaii where Paul and Vicki have a house.

Following my mission to Queensland to help Pop get ready to move I spent 5 days in WA. 

It's been a whirlwind for Dad the last few months. He had his final operation following bowel cancer, sold his house in Gympie, bought a house in Geelong and moved back to Victoia after an absence of 20 odd years. And in the midst of all that his sister, my Auntie merle, passed away. He is settling in well to his new home and getting lots of stuff done to make it comfortable. It is great to have hime living so close for the first time in 40 years! Unpacking

The main purpose for the trip was to spend some time with my mate Letchy hiking on the Bibbulmun Track. We used to do this regularly but it is nine years since our last hike and we both felt the difference big time! Poor Greg ended up with terrible blisters and struggled to make it to the end on the second day. Despite the pain we had a great time together, talking and sharing and remembering. We walked from Sulliavan's Rock to North Bannister, about 40km, a journey that Greg did last year with his son Ryan and Huss, the afghan boy who had lived with them for the last three years. Tragically Huss took his own life a few months ago. Our hike was done in his memory and hopefully helped Greg with his grief and sadness. Bibbulmun pics on Facebook

Typically I managed to squeeze plenty more in to my 5 days: the CFFL pre-season draft with all the footy boys, watching the Dockers with a couple of Freo supporting bogans on Friday night, golf and catch up with my old (young) mate Ryan, a couple of days hanging out with Jordy, Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe, a night at Sally and Warren's, trawling a couple of swap meets, seeing Big Brother briefly and Sunday night with 3/4 of the Breakfast Club for dinner in Mt Lawley. Friends and family on FB

It is always great to see my mates and friends and spend time with my son but I also spent significant time talking about a major decision I've been contemplating for a long time. After many years of avoiding/delaying/procrastinating/wasting time I've decided to bite the bullet and do what I should have done years ago. I'm going to go to university and get my teacher's degree and then hopefully have a late blooming career as a teacher. It will take 4 years to get a degree which will hopefully allow me about 10 years of teaching. I'm leaning towards primary teaching.Unfortunately I left it too late to get started this year at Deakin Uni in Geelong and there's no mid-year intake so I won't be able to commence till 2015. That gives me the rest of this year to get ready and work out how to manage on a student income. I'll work part-time in some capacity while I study.It has taken me a long time to get to this point in my life but now that I've made the decision I'm excited and eager for it to begin.

Meanwhile, Hawaii awaits...

Friday, March 07, 2014

The End of Holties House, sort of...

I've spent the last week with Dad in Gympie getting him ready for his move to Victoria. Big Brother aka GHB and I came up last week and spent the first few days preparing for a HUGE Garage sale. 
It ran both Saturday and Sunday and achieved all our major goals: ie. Get rid of as much unwanted stuff as possible. Make as much money as possible. Make enough to cover the cost of our airfares. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.
Since then it's been all about packing for the big move. GHB went home yesterday and now we are very nearly done. That's just as well because I'm going

home tomorrow night. We set off for the Gold Coast in the morning. I fly tomorrow from there tomorrow night so will have just enough time to stop off at a theme park for a few hours of fun and frivolity. Just me. Dad's not into roller coasters.
Then back to Victoria and home for Mrs Holt Press' birthday on Saturday.
Dad will stay here a few more days until the property settles and the movers arrive then head south with his van fully loaded next week.
Farewell Gympie.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Farewell Auntie Merle

On Friday we drove up to Shepparton for my Auntie Merle's funeral. She died on Feb 8 aged 79 and although it was a shock to hear she had died it was not really unexpected. I hadn't seen her for over a year but Pop had been to visit her twice when he was down for Christmas and she had said to him she was ready to go. In fact she even said she wanted to go, and perhaps having seen her brother for "the last time" she had ticked off a final item on her bucket list?
I was very glad that Dad had seen her recently and spent some good time with her because due to a clash of scheduling he was unable to come down from Queensland for the funeral. The day before he had the final operation to reverse his stoma and remove the colostomy bag after a 12 month battle with cancer.Every indication so far is that the surgery was successful and Dad is on the way back to good health. 

The funeral was held at the Salvation Army church in Shepp and I thought it was a lovely service. 
Dad had written a eulogy for his sister and asked me to deputize for him which I was honoured to do. When I walked in and saw the flowers on the coffin I suddenly remembered he had also asked me to get a bunch of flowers on his behalf!! Thankfully there was a florist not far away and I had time to go and get some was Valentine's day!! Busiest day on the florist's calendar!! There were masses of red roses and romantically intentioned customers everywhere but I found a couple of lovely bunches of native orchids and the girl arranged them for me while I wrote a card and within 5 minutes I was back at the church and all set. 
I was able to set up Mrs Holt Press' ipad to record the service so that Dad can watch it later, along with Vicki who just missed getting back from her Pacific island cruise in time to make it to the funeral. 
More importanly, my cousin Kathy and her husband were able to cut short their trip to Thailand and get back in time.

I delivered the eulogy on dad's behalf and managed to keep my emotions in check, something he had feared he would be unable to do if he'd been there himself. He had written a beautiful tribute to his beloved sister and several people commented on it later.

I was followed by my cousin Geoff who spoke on behalf of Auntie Merle's kids and family and he did a fantastic job, painting a really lovely and complete picture of his Mum. Towards the end his emotions swelled up and tears flowed and it was a poignant tender moment of love and sadness.

Then came a beautiful powerpoint presentation of photos of Auntie Merle's life accompanied by her favourite songs. It was great to see pictures of her with so many people she loved and was loved by. There were many pictures of her with Dad and they were always smiling and happy together. Dad had written that apart from early childhood when they didn't always like one another, the remaining 60+ years of their relationship had been one of harmony and love, with no recollection of any argument or conflict between them. That showed in the photos.

Straight after the service came one of the highlights of the day for me. An old couple approached me and the man introduced himself as Danny Delaney.
I was stunned. I had only ever heard the name and hadn't realized he was even still alive.
"The legendary Danny Delaney" I replied!
Danny was my Dad's mate (cousin) when they were kids, living at Dixon's Creek (?). There are photos of them together as young boys and I've heard stories of some of their exploits but to meet him in the flesh was wonderful. He grasped my hand warmly and said how pleased he was to hear that Pop's operation had been successful and that he was doing well in recovery. I felt transported to another time and place and euphoric and touched and amazed all at the same time, as if a character in a favourite book had suddenly come to life and appeared off the page in the flesh. The only disappointment was that we had to adjourn to the cemetery for the burial and I didn't get to see Danny and his wife again, I would love to have talked to him some more and heard some of his stories and memories.
(When I told Dad about this encounter he too was moved and promised that once he moves down to Victoria we would go and visit Danny. I can't wait.)

The cemetery was a long way out of town and if I hadn't been following the hearse I'd have questioned whether we were going the right way but sure enough we eventually got there and a brief burial and committal was held in the lovely surrounds. Auntie Merle was buried alongside her beloved late husband Harold.

We then returned to town for refreshments at the Parkdale Hotel and it was great to catch up with family and friends I hadn't seen in a long time. In fact I was shocked, and a little ashamed, to realise that I hadn't seen my cousins Geoff and Julie in 40 years!!!! The Holt and Gallagher kids were inseparable every school holidays when we stayed at Nanny's place in Nathalia. The Gallaghers lived next door and the holidays were always full of adventures and games and family fun together. How had we let 40 years pass without seeing one another?
(I had seen John plenty of times during that period and Kathy and I had hung out a bit as young adults as well as a visit to her place when Dad was down about 12 months ago).

We resolved not to let so much time and distance pass again without seeing one another and began discussing future Holt-Gallagher get-togethers and reunions. I look forward to them already and considering that so many of us now live, or will be living back in Victoria it will be a lot easier to organize.

I enjoyed meeting several of my cousins' kids for the first time too, especially Bec who had come down from Queensland. She was very close to her Nan and has written posts on Auntie Merle's blog a number of times to keep people informed about her health and eventually her passing.
Dad has some lovely photos of Auntie Merle on his blog, Holtieshouse too.

The other BIG news is that not only has Pop bought a house in Geelong but just a week after putting his house in Gympie on the market it has sold and at a higher price than he'd hoped for! The move is well and truly on now. In fact, Alan and I are flying up to Queensland next week to help with the packing and preparation. I've been commissioned to run a BIG garage sale to help dispose of all Dad's unwanted stuff prior to him moving. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Melbourne Now Dancers

Kids at Melbourne Now

on You Tube

NB. I asked their mum's permission

Friday, January 31, 2014

Melbourne Now

Today's Culture Club excursion was to see the much-publicised "Melbourne Now" exhibition at the NGV.

Our companions were Neil and Tracey who are into art both personally and professionally.

I loved the exhibition. It is huge and hugely varied, across a range of media (and venues).

The pieces that stood out for me were:

A large 4 screen projection of socio-economic-political-environmental data about Melbourne portrayed in diagramatic form. I know that doesn't sound all that impressive but trust me, it was.
It mapped things like the 70,000 trees in the urban forest of Melbourne, identifying them by type and health (healthy through to dying). The incidence of car accidents (should have been labelled "crashes" but that's just my opinion) throughout the city, grading them in severity and cause. The drains and pipes that run beneath the city. The areas of disadvantage, colour-coded. The age of buildings, from 1850 through to the present day. etc
All done with simple, effective and surprisingly beautiful computer graphics. (I couldn't find a picture of it so have added this pic of another very interesting piece. My favourite part "Spokesman Denies He is a Spokesman")

A collection of Australiana tea-towels, some of which had been amended by the screen print artist.

A resin cast three dimensional image called "Don't Worry" portraying people and episodes from the artist's life which was incredible, though quite "dark" in feel and theme.

I'm not much of a video art fan but there was one very cool exhibit of a camera travelling down a seemingly endless laneway which was in fact a compilation of lanes and alleys from all around Melbourne seemlessly woven together.

And a lights and music installation that inspired  two wonderful kids to dance. To my annoyance I can't get the video to upload to Blogger but you can take my word for it, they were great. Here's some other kids letting their hair down instead.

Of course there were parts of the exhibition that I didn't like or that didn't work for me but there was more than enough that did to make it well worth seeing.

We also had a very nice lunch at Optics in Fed Square.

Friday, January 17, 2014


It has been stinking hot in Geelong the last couple of days which makes it difficult and uncomfortable to sleep. Therefore having to get up at 4.30 and start at 5.30 this week  has not been easy. 
After a long hot week I was approx. 60 seconds away from finishing my shift today when there was a huge bang from the back of the bus. I looked in the side mirror and saw a big cloud of smoke or dust. It looked and sounded bad whatever it was. A father and son sitting in the back seat hurriedly got up and forward, exclaiming "the engine blew up!" 
I pulled over and got out to investigate. Thankfully it wasn't the motor but one of the rear tyres that had blown out. I radioed through to let Dispatch know what had happened and what my position was. Reassuring the passengers that a replacement bus was on the way we waited for help to arrive. What followed was either confusing or farcical depending on your vantage point. A bus appeared in my mirror and I instructed the driver to park in front of us to make it easier for the passengers to switch buses. I duly escorted them onto the new bus and was about to brief the driver when I realised there was no driver! 
It turned out to be one of the mechanics who had come to pick up my disabled bus but instead of coming in a car (as expected) was in a bus. 
"Sorry passengers, this isn't your new bus, it's still on its way!" 
Sure enough it arrived a couple of minutes later but pulled up behind my bus, a considerable distance for the passengers to have to walk along a busy road with no footpath in 43 degree heat!! I ushered the second driver to bring his bus forward. When I next looked up a bus was disappearing into the distance and I was on the radio asking him where he was going! Then I realised that it was the mechanic driving away in my original bus and the changeover driver was still moving his bus into position!! Finally, all the passengers were safely onboard and back on their way, the bus with the flat tyre was on its way back to the depot and I too was driving back to base ready to clock off for the day, about half an hour later than planned!

 Talking of buses, how cool is this new advertisement on one of our buses? I've put in a request to be permanently assigned to drive this one! And no, for those looking for bad omens, this was not the bus I got the flat tyre in!
I've recounted a few of my ebay exploits and successes on the blog in the past and am happy to report the latest. A few years ago I bought four small football pennants at a garage sale for a couple of dollars. They are souvenirs of the 1971 and 1972 WAFL Grand Finals played between West Perth and East Perth (71) and East Perth and Claremont (72). On my most recent trip to WA I found them when I was cleaning out the shed and brought three of them home. The fourth, the West Perth one, I gave to one of my mates, Warren, who is not only a West Perth fan but also a repository of all sorts of weird and interesting facts and stats about sport in general and football in particular. Sure enough, he told me he'd been at the 1971 Grand Final, won by his Cardinals, and recalled the crowd figure and the score I think!

I duly put two of the pennants on ebay a couple of weeks ago and they attracted a lot of attention and many "watchers". That's ebay speak for people who have saved a listed item to watch its progress and potentially bid on it. I was at the cricket at the MCG the day the auction ended and I watched the bidding in the final minute intently on my phone. Needless to say I was very pleased when the bids jumped from 20 to 30 to 50 dollars as the seconds ticked down before the final winning bid was lodged: $82.57! More amazing than the price was that the second one which finished a couple of minutes later went for exactly the same price but to a different bidder! I was stoked and gave a whoop of delight which confused the cricket fans around me who were wondering why I was so excited considering no wicket had been taken or boundary hit!

The last pennant, the East Perth Royals one pictured is on ebay at present and finishes on Sunday afternoon. Considering that East Perth stuff sells well, and they were the premiers in 1972 which also adds to the value of footy memorabilia, I'm optimistic that it will match and perhaps surpass the prices of the previous two. 
If you're interested you can see how it goes here.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Christmas & New Year Celebrations. Interstate Visitors, plus some Surfing

Sunday night at the Holt Press household and we have some guests: 3 Sydney Christian surfers, Daniel, Ryan and Jordy. They're here because a few days ago Sport Boy met them at Dino's while he was there on dog-minding duties, heard they were heading down south on a surfing road trip and managed to convince them to give him a lift (take him with them) to Joanna, well-known surf beach and supposed rendezvous point with a bunch of surfers and grommets he hangs out with. Turns out most of the crew had already left by the time they were gonna be there, not that it mattered because following Sport Boy's directions, the unsuspecting NSW boys didn't know they should have turned off at Colac and ended up at Warnambool!!!! Only about 150km beyond their target!!! Needless to say Sport Boy, the hapless navigator was paid out on and subjected to that great surfer tradition, "Grommie Abuse", for the next few days as they made their way back along the coast. Despite navigational challenges, inclement weather and below average surf, it sounds as if they had a great time and were full of stories and laughter over dinner when I got home from work tonight. It will probably serve as a fair orientation for Sport Boy (aka Surf Boy?) leading into 2014 when he starts at his new "school", SEDA Surf School based in Torquay. That's right, you heard me correctly! Surf School! What started out as a wild-sounding suggestion several months ago has become a reality. The benefits of being the youngest child? It's not quite as loose (picture Hawaiian shirt-clad dudes sitting around on the beach) as it sounds/you imagine. There is an academic component but all of the subjects have a surfing/surf industry focus with the ultimate aim/possibility of developing a career in some sort of surf-related field. Well that's the theory! We'll see how close that is to reality as the year unfolds.

Meanwhile we have had a bevy of visitors over Christmas and New Year, starting with Pop coming down from Queensland. Then Big Brother Alan surprised us all with a quick trip over from Perth last weekend.

Christmas Day was spent at Vicki's for a fantastic meal of traditional Christmas fare. We had deliberately gone for a low-key approach regarding presents and spending which worked well for all concerned, especially the bank balance!

On Saturday 28 I went to the Boxing Day test at the MCG and met up with my mate David, a fellow Spurs fanatic with whom I converse in texts regarding all things Tottenham. It was the first time we'd seen each other since the first and only time we met, on a bus from Dunsborough to Perth in 2010.

That night Mrs Holt Press, Favourite Daughter and I met up with Chris V for dinner in Fitzroy.

We all spent another day in Melbourne when The Heir and Briony returned from their trip to Robe SA. It started with lunch at a cafe called John Gorilla, followed with a jeans buying expedition to High St Northcote before we all reconvened at the Wesley Anne pub in High St for dinner. All agreed it was an excellent day.

On New year's Eve we had an all-too-brief visit from Cam and Louise Tero and their three daughters who are on a road trip from WA to Tasmania. I nearly refused Cam and Alice entry due to the Dockers jumpers they were wearing...

Later that night more West Aussies arrived for a BBQ, Rose and Andrew Braun and 2 of their 3 girls. It was fantastic to catch up with all of them and swap news and stories. 
We saw the New Year in watching the fireworks over Barwon Heads from our front yard.

Having had 5 days out of 6 off over the Christmas period I am back at work but have a day out at the Australian Open with Chris to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

It has been a lovely, relaxed and enjoyable holiday period shared with many family and friends, without over-indulgence or excess. I trust you have had a similarly good time.
May 2014 be a year of blessings for you and your family.

With love