New Konro Charcoal BBQ

One of my New Years resolutions was to improve my BBQ skills and, in the modern vernacular, take them to the next level. And what better way to improve than to buy new stuff! If it goes well I am a hero, if it fails then it is just part of the process of learning new technologies. Can't lose!

Robin and I have very fond memories of our many, many yakitori dinners in Tokyo (anyone remember 'Dodo'?), and some discount Tuesday evening 'sticks' at 'East' in Manhattan and decided it was time that we took that culinary experience home to Mt Eliza.

I stumbled across a great business 'Chefs Armoury' in Richmond, VIC, who sell many things Japanese cooking-related, including the Konro range of BBQ's.

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Our 'small' Konro Charcoal BBQ - 2017

We went small, just enough grill space for 2 or 3 serves at a time, but as the charcoal lasts several hours, any sensible numbers of servings or pieces can be prepared at a sitting.

The Konro is now starting to season and my management of the charcoal is improving with each meal.

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Tosa Binchotan - White Charcoal - 2017

Chicken skewers with spring onion and cherry tomatoes, lamb cutlets and mushrooms have been on the menu so far and the flavour from the fresh ingredients sizzling over charcoal is certainly addictive. Full disclosure: My yakitori sauce or 'tare' is not up to scratch yet, and I can't seem to get the consistent 'stickiness' and flavour profile of restaurant quality sauce. I won't give up!

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Yakitori skewers - 2017

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Welcome Zaidie!

Our new pet has arrived courtesy of the Working Dog Rescue Association.

Zaidie is a 12 month old, black & tan female Kelpie / Huntaway cross. Fair to say at this stage she is an independent thinker with a mind of her own!

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The ears have it! - 2016

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Tamworth - Sydney Road Trip

Some thoughts and plans were brewing…. Robin was keen to visit the newish equestrian facility in Tamworth ahead of some upcoming national championships as well as tying in a visit to Sydney to meet with our Macquarie investments advisor face-to-face. And there may have been a Porsche Turbo for sale that I might like a proprietary interest in… I smell a road trip!

We hit the road VERY EARLY to beat the traffic to get to the Hume Highway and on our way. Some toasted sandwiches and beverages at the Nagambie Bakery kept us watered and fed and we continued on our way past Shepparton going north. Inexplicably I now wanted to go to sleep. Very badly. So before the border I had to relinquish the driving duties to my co-pilot and within a couple of kilometres I was fast asleep in the passenger's seat, for a good half hour or so. Morning tea was at Jerilderie when I took over driving again and was fine the rest of the trip. Quite strange. Day one was long and we arrived in Dubbo around 4.30pm-ish with just enough time to unpack, and find a dinner destination.

Night 1 - Dubbo (The Comfort Inn, Dubbo City)

After much discussion and debate, dinner was at The Lions Pride Restaurant, a convenient 50 metre walk from our motel. The food was fine but the wine list left a little to be desired. Anyhow we were well fed after a long day in the car. We chose an after dinner walk down the 'Main Street' which was pretty lively on a Thursday night. Also the architecture and general feel of the town was very positive.

With a night's sleep behind us, we checked out and looked for a breakfast venue. The Grapevine Cafe caught Robin's eye. What got my attention was the temperature (see below). Yikes! Anyhow we ate well and hit the road.

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After an uneventful drive we had a late lunch at Gunnedah. Not expecting any great foodie locations and about to continue on to Tamworth we found the Chatter Chinos Cafe. With a modern look and feel and excellent food it was a great find. My steak sandwich was especially fine. In another hour or so we were in Tamworth.

Nights 2 & 3 - Tamworth (Ashby House Motor Inn)
The usual debate regarding dinner venues started shortly after our arrival in Tamworth. Especially once I found out that there (again) no coverage of the British Open golf on the motel TV system, Bah! Red Embers Italian restaurant was the chosen venue and a good choice it was too. Robin's lamb rack was excellent but the highlight was the churros for dessert. Especially fine!

After arriving at Tamworth we had the 'Check Oil Light' come on on the Cayenne. Hmmmm. After some hand wringing we went to Autobahn early on Saturday morning for advice an hopefully some Porsche diesel appropriate oil. And we got both. but wait there is more. We asked the young guys on the checkout what was good breakfast spot in town. One recommended Hopscotch. They didn't let us down on the oil and they kept their strike rate up with breakfast. It was truly excellent with creamed corn for her and savoury mince for me. And probably our best coffee since we left Melbourne.

Well fed, we started out touring. First was the Oxley Lookout which gave panoramic vista over the town. Then onto the marsupial park where I got to pat a wallaby. Aw shucks! Then a stroll through the Botanical Gardens, followed by a visit to an Art Gallery where Robin bought a couple of framed drawings then a late morning coffee to draw breath. Not sure where to go next we chased to visit the Big Golden Guitar Tourist Centre for inspiration. Boy was that expensive as one of the brochures we picked up was for The Aussie Bush Leather store in the middle of town. Sounding like a nice place to visit with probable food destinations in close proximity we made a bee-line to Peel Street.

The ABL store had two awesomely restored 'vintage' hard-wood frame lounge chairs recovered in soft 'Cigar' leather in his and her sizes. We were smitten and after a futile break for a light lunch 'to talk about the purchase. Of course we walked straight back to the store and signed up. The chairs should arrive in two weeks via ABL's preferred courier.

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A panorama of the city of Tamworth - 2016
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The entrance of the main equestrian & livestock arena - 2016
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Inside the main arena - 2016
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Fabulous street art - 2016

Nights 4 & 5 - Sydney (Sir Stamford Hotel at Circular Quay)

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Panorama of the Botanic Gardens from our balcony in Circular Quay - 2016
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Gratuitous photos of the Sydney icons - 2016

Night 6 - Albury (Albury Manor House Motel)
I thought the last night of our trip might be a slap-up dinner in high spots of Albury / Wodonga but Robin had other ideas. She figured we should just eat in the motel dining room. Oh dear… Well, she was right and I was wrong. The dining room had a bar with outrageously comfortable Chesterfield chairs that we used for pre-dinner and post dinner drinks. The food was very good and the wine list contained some enjoyable local varieties.It was indeed a fine end to our trip!
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Ah, those chairs - 2016

The run home was largely uneventful. An enjoyable and safe trip duly concluded.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Vale - Suzie Q

Good (sad) evening,

Very sad news today with the passing of our gorgeous kelpie cross Suzie Q. Unfortunately she quickly deteriorated with inoperable liver disease. Brave, loyal and loveable to the end. And we will miss her 'shadow-like' presence around the property.. RIP little one.

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A typical pose with bright eyes and wagging tail - 2016

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Uluru & the Red Centre

Good evening,

If we had a 'Bucket List', one item would have been ticked off with our recent trip to Uluru and surrounds.

Camel Ride 94

Ships of the Desert, our camel train - Photo by Nina Moradkhani (Desert Flash) 2016

We had a great time, and will return with access to our own car so that we can be a bit more flexible in scheduling and travel a bit further afield to really experience the 'Red Centre'.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

NGV - JM Whistler Exhibition

Good afternoon,

The forecast for Sunday was pretty bleak. Windy and rain. Aarrghh. Robin challenged me to come up with an interesting plan for the day. No pressure then….

We had been out and about up country recently and with the weather I was thinking about something a little closer to home. Somehow the 'Whistler's Mother' exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria seemed a good idea. Not too far away, easy parking, a wee bit of culture and I am sure we could squeeze in a decent lunch somewhere in Southbank.

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A great morning was had at NGV, St Kilda Road - 2016

It was less an exhibition of the artist's work and more a collective view of the artist's world when he painted his most famous work and the public review and subsequent acceptance and / or critique.

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'Portrait of the Artist's Mother - 2016

It had been some time since we last visited the NGV, and were impressed by the number of exhibits (in addition to the Whistler), 'other' use areas, such as an international book / publishing fair, multiple restaurants / cafes and a very diverse book / souvenir shop. We will be back!

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BBQ prawns at Breslin Grill, Southbank - 2016

One of our favourite restaurants on Southbank is The Breslin Bar & Grill who specialise in slow cooked pork or beef ribs. And we managed to find our way there again! Robin suggested that I try the BBQ Queensland prawns for entree and what an inspired proposal that was! They were superb. The pork ribs as usual just fell off the bone, however the chef recently decided to make his BBQ sauce with a little extra kick but it was almost too much for us. Robin doused the heat of the ribs with some Bread & Butter Pudding and ice cream!

For such a gloomy day, we had a super time of it!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

A wild weekend

Good afternoon,

On an otherwise quiet Friday morning at about 8.30AM, there was a large 'bang' close to the rear of the house.

Upon closer inspection, a very large pane of glass in our hallway shattered caused by some sort of impact which 'dented' and put a jagged hole in the 1/4" glass. Various theories of what caused the damage but no tangible proof was visible on site.

A quick call to our insurance company who instructed us to contact O'Briens Glass got the ball rolling. Late morning the O'Briens guy came, assessed the issue and set about clearing the damaged glass and boarding up the opening. He then sourced a security guy who arrived late afternoon to put the metal shutters on to physically secure the area. Great work to have it all done inside seven hours.

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Fast work on a Friday to secure the area - 2016

After Friday's incident, there were some severe winds on Saturday evening and overnight. Then early Sunday morning a crack came from the garden near the veggie patch and another large branch had come down. This has been a pretty regular occurrence on our property unfortunately.

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Another one bites the dust - 2016

Should all be repaired and cleared by mid week. Update: The branch has been cleared, and the new pane of glass has been installed, all 70kgs of it!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Cooking updates

Good afternoon,

I have been manning the pans recently and mostly with decent success.

I found a bolognese / pasta sauce recipe that sounded OK, tweaked a bit for our tastes and have now made it twice and it worked both times so it will be a keeper. The slower I can simmer it ,the better it tastes (of course) but can still still be acceptably whipped up in about an hour.

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Greg's Secret Bolognese Recipe - 2016

On the Weber grill side, I tried two slow cooked cuts of meat, lamb shoulder and pork shoulder. Although I cooked the pork for some five hours it still came out more like roast pork than pulled pork. Successful from a taste point of view but wasn't the pull apart with a fork tenderness I was looking / hoping for. Will try even lower temps for longer next time. Then to the lamb, four hours fully covered on low heat and it was delicious. This one really did fall off the bone. At last I might actually be learning to cook low and slow!

The side burner on the Weber has been getting a serious workout with pan-fried tomatoes for breakfast and then various combos of vegetables for dinner, like the potato and spinach dish below.

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Fillet tournedos with sautéed potato & spinach - 2016

Bring on winter!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

A new Mac has arrived!

After a few months of procrastination I finally ordered a new 27" 5K Retina iMac from the Apple Store. I maxed out the processor, the video card and the Fusion Drive, while minimising the Apple memory making up for it with some more cost effective OWC after market memory sticks.

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Exciting times upon delivery & unboxing - 2016

The purpose of the purchase was to manage and 'process' my ever growing digital libraries of music and photos. The additional performance will help the likes of Lightroom edit and render the rather large RAW image files that the Canon 5D Mk111 produces.

The machine is just gorgeous in style and the 5K screen is brilliant in it's brightness and contrast for DVDs and photos. As I don't have any 5K video (who does?) I can't speak to the ultimate end of it's performance envelope.

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My new desktop 27" 5K Retina iMac setup - 2016

The wireless keyword and mouse have fantastic battery life (i am yet to re-charge) and both are very usable and responsive.

Overall, I am delighted so far.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Easter Saturday road trip

Good afternoon,

We planned a drive on Easter Saturday to do some reconnaissance on a lunch venue for a future PCV GT3 Register event.

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Up early to wash the 4S - 2016

Robin thought Kyneton was a likely destination so we duly drove up the Calder Freeway and started to take a look at what was available. Plenty of options but we had trouble choosing one that would fit our numbers, price point and taste preferences. After walking several kilometres around Kyneton we finally decided on the Albion Hotel which was 100 metres from where we parked the car!

The Albion is an old-style pub with exposed brick and beams, plenty of atmosphere but well maintained. The food is hearty and comforting - think corned beef and mustard sauce for her and crispy pork belly for me. And the serves were huge and moderately priced. Excellent!

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Yum, pork belly & sautéed cabbage - 2016

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Enjoying some of the local wine - 2016

After the sumptuous meal, our next planned stop was the picturesque town of Daylesford for afternoon tea. Except we made two rookie planning mistakes. Firstly, Daylesford was less than thirty minutes from Kyneton and there was NO room to add any more food in at that point, and secondly, on Easter Saturday it seemed almost all of Victoria's population was descending on the main street of Daylesford. Wow, what a zoo, but great for the town.

So on we went, not quite enjoying the restricted 80 km/h speed limits until we saw a sign that said 'Geelong'. Sounds good we thought 60-odd kilometres and we would be at the recently developed waterfront in Geelong. A pleasant drive through the Brisbane Ranges duly got us there, found a park a moderate stroll away from the restaurant strip and we were mightily impressed. Family friendly, but still modern and trendy the area was very enjoyable. Even more so after Robin chose a creperie as our afternoon snack destination!

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Panache Creperie Geelong- 2016

I decided not to risk a crowded and expensive ferry ride across the bay, in favour of a leisurely loop the long way back home. After a nine hour trip we were safely home after a most enjoyable day.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Health gremlins again!

In the interests of full disclosure and including the good and bad I am forced to list further hospital stays already in 2016. After a couple of day procedures and a short visit to hospital in early February, by mid March I was struck me down with cardiac issues and severe dehydration requiring I/V fluids and other supplements to get me back on my feet again. After about a week, I am pleased to report that I am back home, feeling well again and aim to stay that way.

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Your humble correspondent laid up - 2016

Many thanks to the medical and nursing staff at the Beleura Private Hospital in Mornington for their fine work and support.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

2016 AFL Predictions

No surprises for guessing that 2016 is going to be a very tough year for the mighty Essendon Football Club with the ongoing impact of the supplements saga. But we mustn't let that dampen the enthusiasm for the great game of AFL football or totally devalue the club that has a proud history of over 100 years and 16 premierships. So who will be the winners and losers this year? Let's break out the crystal ball…

Ladder

Hawthorn
West Coast
Geelong
Collingwood
Fremantle
Sydney Swans
Footscray
North Melbourne
GWS
Richmond
Adelaide
Port Adelaide
Gold Coast Suns
Melbourne
St Kilda
Brisbane
Carlton
Essendon

Premiers - Hawthorn

Coleman Medal - Lance Franklin

Brownlow Medal - Patrick Dangerfield

No real surprises above. If Hawthorn stay relatively injury free, they should be too consistent, strong and professional over the year and especially in finals with their experience.. Lance Franklin looks to be in terrific condition and could go on a goal kicking rampage, and Patrick Dangerfield seems to have slipped into the Geelong side perfectly and will get plenty of ball.


Essendon

Best & Fairest - Brendon Goddard

Leading Goal Kicker - Joe Daniher

Most Improved - Kyle Langford


The major issues for us this year as I see will be a lack of pace, some inexperience and physical presence and strength in defence and a query on crumbers around goal to help kick a winning score. The upside will be to watch the development and fast tracking of our new recruits with no expectations on a high ladder finish. It will be a tough year for Essendon but go the kids and bring on 2017!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Happy Anniversary to us!

On February 26, we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary at Le Bouchon in Balnarring in the delightful company of Chris & Julie Mason. A great time was had by all.

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The happy couple celebrating - 2016 (Photo by Julie Mason)

Bye for now, BomberBoy

EFC visitor to 'Windy Hill'

Great to meet Justin Rodski the Chief Marketing Officer of the Essendon Football Club at our front door this morning. His mission was to deliver a personal thank you for our continued EFC membership and passing along a positive message from the Essendon Football Club and coach John Worsfold. Thanks guys! A tough year is ahead but that's the very reason all Essendon supporters need hang tough and tight. Go Bombers!

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Bye for now, BomberBoy

Caribbean Chicken...

Good evening,

A couple of nights ago I broke out an old Caribbean-influenced Humphries family recipe, Calypso BBQ Chicken. West Indian spices and oils, combined with subtly managed pyrolysis via the rotisserie, delivered the traditional coloured exterior and moist, succulent flesh. Yum!

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Blackened chicken - 2016

OK, so I burnt it. The rotisserie got stuck and the infrared burner really did a job on the garlic olive oil basted skin. But in all honesty, the chicken tasted superb and was moist and delicious! Honestly!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Vale - Jean Sheppard

Sadly, my late father's oldest sister passed away peacefully at her care home in Queensland in early January. Aunty Jean was a lovely, hard working woman, wife of Robert, and mother to Beverley, John, Steve and Russell. We were always close to the Sheppard family and while it was a sad day, the banter and chat at the 'wake' was one of joy and fond memories.

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Rest in peace Aunty Jean.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Merry Christmas

Well, it is that time again. Wishing all of our family and friends a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016!

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Christmas dinner was out our place this year with Margaret, Libby, Lani, Jessie, Denise and Monica joining us for seafood and cold meats on what was a pretty warm afternoon.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

2015 Grand Final Eve Lunch

One of my 'old' work colleagues, Xavier Corray, is gracious enough to arrange a Grand Final Eve luncheon at the Melbourne Cricket Club every year for twenty or so high quality individuals. Unable to find a quorum with that criteria, I was roped in to attend…. This is about my six or seventh year and it continues to be special. Just to be at this famous stadium even the day before the 'Big Dance' is pretty special. After lunch, you walk out onto the empty members upper terrace in the full knowledge that in exactly 24 hours there will be 100,000 fans cheering every contest…

More images of the day can be found at our official Facebook page for the event.

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The gang at the 'G on GF Eve - 2015

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Living on the edge...

Launch day for Apple's new desktop operating system OS 10.11. I took the plunge… In for a penny etc etc

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Nearly ten hours later after a 6+GB download and a 45 minute install, I had a working system.

Only one issue to be honest. And it might be a biggie, but the OSX Mail app seems bit flaky or at least Google's Gmail isn't playing nicely with Apple Mail. Otherwise it seems OK if frankly not a heap different to Yosemite on the surface. Changes to the Photo app are nice and integration with IOS seems even more seamless. Will post any other major observations / issues as they come to hand.

All in all I am happy to be an early adopter!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Father's Day 2015

This is the first Fathers Day since Dad passed away, so I raised a glass (and a prawn!) to him on this special day that we always shared together usually with his favourite seafood meal. Miss you old mate.

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Wish I could share it… - 2015
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'Never forgotten' - 2015

There was a regular stream of well-rugged up visitors to the Mornington Cemetery mid morning today to pay their respects and remember loved ones.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Mindshop Excellence - Frankston City Council

At this week's Mindshop Excellence program, I was delighted with, and proud of, the professional presentation of the Elisabeth Murdoch College students responding to Frankston City Council's problem of 'What is the best way to inform and inspire students about the skills they will need for the careers of the future?' The 'consultant' team really impressed the audience of parents, supporters, EMC and council staff with their solution, underpinned by an inspirational futures skills video. Very well done!

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Millicent Bainbridge (FCC), Suzanne Whitmarsh (ME Facilitator), EMC students & GH (ME Facilitator) - Photo by Julie Mason

Bye for now, BomberBoy

An unfortunate hospital stay

I haven't been feeling 100% for many weeks now, but have still been able to get around, enjoy our holiday, do a little motorsport and participate in various social activities. Unfortunately, after a visit to my GP, I was whisked into The Beleura Private Hospital for some urgent treatment, further tests and observation.

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After a few days on a drip getting some much needed fluids in, I was released feeling much better. To date the tests have not uncovered my underlying issues and more examinations are required over the coming days to try and get to the bottom of the problem.

Anyway, many thanks to the fine nursing and medical staff at Beleura for their professional care and support.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Bucket List Trip - Travelling on the Ghan to Darwin

A few placeholder photos. More details to come.

Adelaide

- Australian Wine Centre

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- Discovering the East End

Adelaide to Darwin

- The Ghan

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- Sunrise at Marla

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- Alice Springs tour

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- Katherine Two Gorges cruise

Darwin

- Litchfield Park Falls tour

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- Darwin Harbour Dinner cruise

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- V8 Supercars at Hidden Valley

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15-6-14 HV

- Arnhem airboat wetlands tour

Greg & Air Boat

- Dining Out

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It was certainly a holiday to remember!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

New toy on the block

Good afternoon,

My Apple Watch has landed!

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More to come when I figure out how to use it!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Some concerns about the mighty Bombers

Good afternoon,

After the most recent exoneration of the players by the AFL, I was expecting the side to finish somewhere around mid table but with a good chance of playing finals footy again this year. Those hopes appear to be slowly but surely evaporating.

After the disappointing Matthew Knights coaching era, James Hird, then Mark Thompson and now James again implemented a more structured defensive game plan to attempt to stop the avalanche of goals especially by the stronger opposition teams. To be fair this has in the main been effective, possibly also because it suits the most talented section of our team, which is the defence. Fletcher, Hurley, Hooker, Baguley, Hibberd are especially good at locking down, intercept marking and pretty efficient by foot.

Sadly that is where the positives mostly stop.

The injection of the experience of Cooney, McKernan, Gwilt and Giles over the trade period (partly a defensive measure if the drugs saga decision went against us I suspect) gave us a little more bench strength while some of the kids develop. Apart from Adam Cooney (has played well but a little fragile), the others haven't really been given an extended chance to make an impact. First year player Kyle Langford has showed great promise in a couple games already and Jayden Laverde is close to senior selection as well.

Some individuals are having decent seasons, the likes of Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett, Travis Colyer and Marty Gleeson have done their reputations no harm so far. Apart from the odd shocker, Joe Daniher is starting to look like the player we all expect him to be. And Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton have been most consistent if not as dynamic or impactful than in previous seasons. Likewise Brendon Goddard's excellent form so far has been let down by too many unforced disposal errors. Honorary mentions to Will Hams and Patrick Ambrose who both always seem to give 100%.

Injuries have played a part in our average start - Zaharakis, Chapman, Carlisle, Hocking, Kommer, Myers, Dempsey, Winderlich, Fletcher (he is now 40 yo come on!) to name a few. The biggest loss has been David Myers, yet to play a game in 2015. His penetration kicking has been sorely missed in trying to break the lines.

OK, so who is not going well. I' afraid it is the usual whipping boys - Tom Bellchambers is not impacting the game at the centre bounces or around the ground or up forward as much as he should for his size and talent; Jake Melksham and Ben Howlett have a break out games every three or four then go missing for a month; and when he is in the side Chapman seems to have lost the edge he had even last year and can look pretty slow when in space and while attempting to evade in one on ones.

Is there a solution? I think there is. It will be tough and it might not save us in 2015 but changes to game plan and personnel are required.

Shaun Edwards, Elliot Kavanagh and Ariel Sternberg (depending upon Rookie elevation status) need to be given a bigger chance in the senior side to see if they can hold down a permanent spot. Kavanagh as a mid fielder with genuine pace, Edwards as an elusive goal kicking small to medium sized forward and Sternberg as another swingman forward or back and my best bet to replace Fletcher when and if he finally retires. Sternberg did well in 2014 and was stiff to miss selection early this year (to Gwilt) which didn't seem like an investment in the future to me. Also skill levels across the board by hand, by foot and especially in front of goal needs to improve and the list management guys need to focus on bringing execution skills to the list, not just guys who can nail the beep test at the draft combine…

No sense in bringing in new players, if we don't have a game plan or a method of spreading quickly and getting the ball forward to better options. Too often we kick the ball on the head of the little guys and at the feet of the big blokes. It is frustrating for the fans and it must upset the players as well.

I haven't given up on season 2015 yet but I hope we can turn it around this coming weekend against the Cats.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

RIP Tyson

Sad times indeed in late April when our beautiful dog, Tyson finally succumbed to various ailments and took his leave.

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Rest in peace my little mate.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Not happy with How-old.net!

Good evening,

Microsoft as released some technology that analyses an individuals face from a submitted photo and selects their gender and estimates their age. My result is below. Hot happy Jan! Apple would never release such offensive technology!

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68, bah - 2015

Bye for now, BomberBoy

The Ivanhoe Grammar School Centenary Dinner

Good morning,

OIG
On Saturday evening I attended the Centenary Dinner in honour of Ivanhoe Grammar School in the Buckley Hall at the Lockley Campus, The Ridgeway in Ivanhoe. The evening was organised by the Old Ivanhoe Grammarians Association and I am delighted to report that the Class of 1972 was very well represented with some 22 attendees.

The night started with pre-dinner drinks and canapés generously hosted by Nigel & Freya Preston and it really got the conversation going. It was a real treat to catch up with many of my former student friends, some of whom I haven't seen for about 43 years! The meal, wine, musical interludes and speeches were all well received but the highlights of the evening were a warm rendition of the school song immediately followed by a rousing version of the IGS war cry.

Ego-ya indeed!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

2015 so far...

Good evening,

In analysing 2015, there are major themes, supporting tasks and bubbling undercurrents. Sounds almost like a spy thriller!

The major themes are turning out to be motorsport and music. Last year during the GT3 rebuild, I did commit 2015 to be the year of performance and focus, both in terms of mental and emotional commitment and financial… I am off to a positive, if not stunning start, but my interest levels and passion for success are actually increasing by event. Bring it on!Those of you that follow my hifi musings will know that I am deeply smitten by the awesome products produced by Kyron Audio, and that I have ordered an 'enhanced' version of their Kronos system. As happens with bespoke manufacturing, better options open up, complexity & quality overcomes the players and delays occur. The latest estimate is that our system will arrive late March. All of the proceeding notwithstanding, the communications with Kyron Audio during the purchase and delivery process have been transparent and first class.

One of the supporting tasks is that I am doing more and more cooking at home. The good news is that Robin is a grateful guinea pig bravely trying my creations and even doing the cleaning up afterwards.

And finally, I seem to have found some newfound enthusiasm to seek part time work a little more enthusiastically. One promising lead unfortunately failed to produce a result, and there is at least one other opportunity currently in train. I am really looking forward to helping significant organisations achieve their IT and corporate gaols. Watch this space!

And it is not just all about me. No really, it isn't! Robin is off to a great start to the season with State Championships with 'Lily' and 'Jimmy' at Werribee in early March. Well done her!

There is a flip side for me of course. I have to admit that my interest in, and results on, the golf course have suffered of late. Even though it would help my fitness levels, I just don't have the motivation at the moment. Maybe it will return…

Stay tuned!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Antony Kinnear's 60th Birthday

Good evening,

Well this is going to be a longish and personal post.

Antony Kinnear and I, or more accurately our mothers, met sometime early in 1961-2. Forgive me if my memory is a little shoddy….Antony and I were pupils from Grade 1 at Aberfeldie State School in Essendon and from the above you can get a sense that our parents pallied up quicker than and Antony and I did! But we certainly made up for lost time and were BFFs a good generation or so before the term became famous.

I will now refer to my friend as Ant. His mother called him Antony, his father called him Tony (or Anto) and after starting at Geelong Grammar School, a master there called him 'Gus' after a previous Kinnear family boarder which quickly caught on throughout most of his adult life. All very confusing, but not for me, as my mate will always be 'Ant'!

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As I was arriving on Saturday afternoon for the evening soiree, I was delighted to be asked to stay as a guest of Ant's mother, Phyllis and sister, Judy at a property 'just down the road' from Ants. As Ant told me, it was THE best available accommodation in the area.

Just to confirm our 'status' I drove into Ant' property as he was walking out towards the gate. A quick glance, a welcoming smile and it as like fifty years disappeared. A warm hand shake, followed by very relaxed conversation about everything in general and nothing in particular. Wonderful!

Guests soon started to arrive.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Early New Years Eve...

New Years Eve is always tough for us. By nature (preference) we are not raging night owls, who are willing / wanting to kick on to the wee small hours. That sentiment helps us look after the animals on our property who don't like noise, explosions, flares etc. And I think we righty feel a responsibility to tend to them.

However do we like a life away from domestic responsibilities, so an arrangement was made to meet up with our friends Chris and Julie Mason in Mt Martha for some pre-dinner drinks and snacks to celebrate our friendship and to toast the year ahead.

A loose timetable of 3.30PM to 6PM was assigned to the transaction. As an ominous sign, we were 5 minutes early…. Just to be sociable, I bought along two bottles of wine, and as a decent card player, Chris saw me my two and raised me another! We also bought smallgoods, cheese and biscuits and in turn they were trumped by Julie with gourmet pies, sautéed chorizo and crudite.

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The host and hostess - 2014

After many tall tales, some almost believable stories and laughs it was about 8.30PM. Robin keenly sensed that perhaps afternoon tea was almost over (!) and decided we should leave, much to the chagrin of our hosts. I suspect they had BBQ duck and lobster ready if we had stayed…

Although I put up a modest fight, it probably was time to go home while I could still find the driveway… But what a great afternoon snack! Many, many thanks to the Masons for being such gracious hosts and wonderful friends.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Devil Bend Reservoir Visit

Good evening,

Late in the year we saw a Mornington Peninsula promotion about the Devil Bend Reservoir Park. As it was only 15 minutes from home and we hadn't seen it, we figured we should go check it out.

There are several short-ish (less than 3 kms) walks around the banks with some interesting vistas and flora. The local Park Ranger was in attendance and was chatty and engaging, willing answer any question visitors may have.

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A cliff jumper and a fly fisherman, gotta love diversity! - 2014

While predominantly flat, some nice angles and pictures can be had if you can be imaginative and creative. I can't (!) and these pictures were all taken around lunch time. I am sure the locations would look much better early AM or late PM.

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A secluded bay - 2014

I would whole heartedly recommend a visit to the Devil Bend Reservoir Park for an easy, photogenic walk with excellent facilities. Enjoy, we did!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

The latest toy

Our poor old ride-on mower was getting a bit tired… Dodgy steering, missing headlights, no handbrake, and a cutting deck / spindle on it's last legs…

So a new weapon was required. Despite the above issues, the old workhorse had done a great job on our property for 12 years so we decided on the latest tech from the same supplier, the Australian Greenfields brand.

Now with a V-twin 20HP Briggs & Stratton engine and lots of sensible engineering it will last us anther dozen or so years. Today's first outing was extremely pleasant with the additional power, comfortable seat / steering wheel combo and cutting deck clutch engagement all working a treat!

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Promotional photo only, DO NOT mow in slip ons! - 2014

Robin's Birthday Celebrations

Robin's birthday celebrations kicked off with a delightful dinner at The Rocks in Mornington with Chris & Julie Mason. Great food and wonderful company. Saturday was quiet but we headed off to Trofeo Estate Winery for a 'champagne' breakfast on Sunday morning.

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Robin celebrating at Trofeo Estate Winery, at breakfast! - 2014

On Thursday we enjoyed lunch with Margaret Cleland and Libby Cleland at Veraison Restaurant at Bluestone Lane Winery. The view from the table across the vines was superb as was the food.

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Family birthday lunch at Veraison - 2014
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Happy birthday Sweetie - 2014

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Mt Eliza CFA Open Day

Robin and I attended the Mt Eliza CFA Open Day today, especially to hear a community briefing ahead of the upcoming fire season. The information was very informative and well delivered. I stayed for most of the 60 minute update, only slipping out for 10 minutes to sample the wares at their sausage sizzle!

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CFA community briefing - 2014

In addition, the fire trucks were available for inspection, with the adults asking technical questions about the pretty impressive onboard technology while the children were happy to wear their plastic fire hats and crawl all over the trucks. As luck would have it, in the middle of the update, an emergency call came through and the fire station scrambled their two units which was an exciting sight for all those in attendance.

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The team on the move - 2014

Thanks to the CFA for putting on the day and helping the community to help themselves.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

My 60th birthday celebrations

I guess it had to happen. I got old. Really old. Friday November 21 2014 saw me turn 60. Yep I am now officially a senior…

The big day dawned overcast with the prospect of clearing later in the morning. Robin had organised lunch at my favourite seafood restaurant, Rubiras in South Melbourne, where some crisp white wine and a tasty King Island Crayfish Mornay greeted me. And I reciprocated enthusiastically!

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Yummy, my favourite - 2014

And the evening turned out to be just glorious so we ate on the back patio, more seafood with BBQ snapper fillet and yes some more crisp white wine!

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Snapper & riesling, perfect - 2014

But more was still to come. On Saturday Robin organised a 'surprise' party at The National Golf Club with ten of our best friends in attendance. What a great day. A window table with a gorgeous view over the links, delightful food and wine and superb company. If that wasn't enough, the highlight was my birthday cake, a handmade replica of my Porsche GT3 racing car. Just awesome! Well done Robin for the superbly secretive organisation and to my friends for their wonderful support and fellowship over the years.

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The luncheon guests on the balcony of The National Golf Club - 2014
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Birthday boy and the Flying #48 birthday cake - Photo by Julie Mason 2014

Bye for now, BomberBoy

My new iPhone 6

Good evening,

This story starts a couple of months ago. My trusty iPhone 5 developed a 'stain' on the camera lens that wouldn't go away and my battery performance meant using the after market extender battery almost mandatory. Then came the recall of certain iPhone 5 models for a battery replacement. I checked the serial number range and found mine was indeed faulty. I took it to an Apple Store, who physically tested it and indeed it needed a new one. I wandered the mall for 30 minutes while they swapped batteries and returned to a very glum looking 'genius' who advised that in removing the battery, they inadvertently ripped a couple of cables out so I would actually get a new iPhone 5 rather than just a new battery. Woo hoo!

So I wasn't really in a rush for the '6' as I was flush with enthusiasm for my new '5' that was suitably upgraded to IOS 8 and did indeed feel fresh and new. Robin's old 3GS was started to show it's age so I started to study the specs and availability of the new model more closely.

I finally decided to chase one seriously last week and studiously tracking Apple's iPhone availability tool, and I found a 128GB model in white / silver at the Apple Doncaster store. I staked my claim in the morning and duly arrived to execute the transaction and left the store a hamper camper. That happiness turned to something darker when I got home and tried to swap SIM cards and set the phone up. The screen was DOA. Not happy Jan!

A terse phone call later that day allocated me a replacement but it was a three hour round trip to pick up the device. It had to be done, I did it, stayed in store to see if this one actually worked! Suitably satisfied I returned home and completed the set-up process with minimal aggravation.

Was it worth it, well read on!

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The Panorama function is still effective - 2014

Now that I have it, I love it! Bet you are all shocked by that…

It took a couple of days to get over the increased size (length / width) versus the iPhone 5 as well as get comfortable with the smaller depth, even with the Apple leather cover. I would be nervous about the phone slipping out of my hands without some sort of grippy cover.

The screen appears better but not staggeringly so in day-to-day app usage. I tend not to consume videos on my phone where perhaps the better screen would be really noticeable. A big plus is the Touch Id feature. It took just a few minutes to setup my thumb and forefinger and it has worked flawlessly since. Bye-bye passcode!

Performance is fantastic, very snappy in most apps and a noticeable step up from the 5. It responds more like my MacBook Pro than a 'laggy' phone.

I always believe in getting the biggest, fastest electronic device you can afford as one can't have too much grunt or too much space. So, the128GB option was ticked and I can continue my undisciplined practice of adding apps and any music I like and still have some free space to play with.

The Photo app and enhanced camera are both real highlights. My poor old point & shoot camera is languishing in the bag now. If and when the iPhone gets a semi-decent optical zoom then that will be the death of P&S cameras IMHO.

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Pretty crisp for a phone & the car is uber-cool as well - 2014

With Telstra (my Australian telco provider) I am on a two year plan which puts me on Apple's 'whole number' iPhone release cycle and that seems to suit me just fine. I get a mid-cycle bump with an IOS upgrade and then a two-model bump for the phone hardware which keeps my tech-geek side happy and I don't feel that I am wasting too much money on what is still, just, a mobile phone. Albeit in the case of the iPhone 6 and IOS 8, a very, very good one indeed!.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Vale: John Maxwell Humphries 1926 - 2014

It is with great sadness that I share the passing of my Dad, who died peacefully on Sunday 21 September 2014. He will always be remembered and forever missed.

Dad (JPG)

The following is the text of my Eulogy at Dad's funeral service held at Tobin Brothers Mt Martha on Thursday September 25, 2014.

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John Maxwell HUMPHRIES

My Eulogy for Dad - 25 September, 2014


Good morning everyone and thank you all so much for your attendance and support today.

Earlier this week, I was thinking about what to say this morning and researching the music choices for the service when I noticed that ‘My Way’ was a popular bereavement song. I couldn’t really understood why until I studied the lyrics a little closer.

‘What is a man
What has he got
If not himself
Then he has nought’

Hmmmm, OK, the words ‘If not himself’ led me to thinking about what was the essence of Dad? What were the attributes, the principles in his life that I saw, and felt, and lived with over the last nearly sixty years?

So the following few words are about my Dad. Not Father, not Pop, not the Old Man, certainly not Max, but Dad. He was always, simply, ‘Dad’.

I have distilled everything down to what I have called ‘The Four Pillars’


- The first pillar is ‘Loyalty & Respect’

- Firstly in his working life. Almost everyone in this room would know of Dad’s love affair with the Ansett Airlines company in general and Sir Reginald Ansett in particular over more than 30 years. He gave everything he had to the company and it was a period in history in which those sorts of efforts and contributions were responded to in kind. Apart from the debilitating effects of his migraine headaches during much of this period he loved the job, loved the notoriety that came from his close working relationship with ‘the boss’ and he had a real passion for driving, for the transport industry and for flying. This is certainly where my passion for driving and cars came from.

- He demonstrated loyalty and respect in his social life. As we have heard Dad was an eager participant in social activities especially mid-life onwards. He was an excellent listener with an engaging smile that added depth and breadth to social situations, and to those conversations in which he was involved. In short, people wanted him around their social circle. Dad was non-judgmental, saw the positives in people and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Ever. If he didn’t agree or get on with someone he would just shrug it off with an ‘Oh well, that’s OK’ or ‘That’s just their way’, with no remonstrations or recriminations.

- His personable and respectful style allowed him to mix and move easily through age groups. He related well to small children, teenagers, their parents, people his own age and those more senior. Many of our friends are not only here today to support Robin and I, but for themselves to farewell Dad who they have got to know so well over the years;

- He had respect for people AND creatures. Somebody once said ‘Don’t trust anyone that doesn’t like animals’. Dad was a bit of a pied-piper where animals were concerned. Soothing of voice, engaging in action, he enjoyed the simplicity and naturalness of their responses and behaviours.

- Finally (and critically) he had respect for himself. It is hard to impress, attract or engage others, if you don’t respect yourself. Dad never wavered from his standards of upstanding behaviour, personal grooming and appropriate sobriety. He looked after himself and treated HIMSELF like he would treat others and would like them to treat him in turn.


- The Second Pillar is that of Family

- What I remember of life growing up was really just a ‘bubble’ - safety, serenity, love, food was plentiful, my clothes always fresh and I can honestly never remember it raining as a kid! I didn’t have a care in the world, I knew, with absolute certainty, that if anything ‘bad’ was to happen, Dad would fix it, organise it, deal with it or just generally make it go away. Now I would come to understand later that there must have been plenty happening behind the curtain that I didn’t see to make this idyllic scene function but it was Dad’s (and Mum’s) familial role to make that happen. To my eternal gratitude.

- Dad wanted his family to be happy and regularly made sacrifices so that Mum or I would get what we wanted if there was a ‘conflict’. He was often the peacemaker!

- He was also a teacher, and sadly perhaps there were some lessons I didn’t learn as well as I should have from him. He shared his knowledge with a quiet patience and he would install confidence in me after I had made a mistake or be positive when I was trying new things. Two examples stand out.

One was when I was in my mid-teens in Strathmore. We had a steep driveway down to some parking spots in the rear. Mums old Beetle was at the top of the drive way and I asked if could drive (or roll it) down the hill and park it. That would be OK, so off I went but mis-judged the distance from the passenger’s side door to the retaining brick wall and ‘scraped’ the side of the VW pretty badly. Hearing the noise Mum and Dad rushed out, Mum berating me for probably speeding and being irresponsible, while Dad leapt to my defence, arguing that it was important that I got some driving practice to improve my skills and that I would learn from this mistake while assuring me that the car would be ‘easily’ fixed. Even then I knew that wasn’t entirely true…

Then, later in life I discussed aspects of my working life with Dad from time to time. But as he had a no real clue what I actually did for a living he couldn’t really offer any ‘professional’ assistance. But when it came to me needing help with a decision, he would patiently listen, check that I had had done my research on the subject, made sure that I had considered the wider implications of any decision on Robin, and always concluded with a variation of ‘You seem to have thought it through son, I know you will make the best decision when the time comes. Good luck with it’. I always left those conversations with a clear head and a warm inner glow of confidence to move forward.


- The Third Pillar is Work Ethic

- No one who ever met Dad would be surprised at references to his work ethic, which I am sure he inherited from his father.

- Dad worked hard, he worked long hours and he worked multiple jobs to support his family. He worked with purpose, with skill, with determination and with perseverance;

- He worked diligently to be successful at each task, in each job, for each ‘career’ which subsequently led to the overall success of his working life

It may or may not be true now, but throughout Dad’s life, opportunities existed and the harder you worked, the luckier you got and he deserved all that came his way resulting from his mental and emotional focus and physical exertions.


- The Fourth Pillar is Self Worth


- Dad had a clear perception and understanding of his position in life and was most comfortable with his ‘lot’. He was not a dreamer, perhaps not even an optimist but he was always happy & positive

- He did have modest but definite aspirations for himself and his family. He knew want he wanted to achieve, understood what he was good at and used that knowledge to set, plan and reach his objectives and life goals

- He was predictable in a positive way (not to be confused with boring), and dependable in the sense that people could rely on him for actions or support knowing that he would always follow through on his commitments.


At the end, until his final illness, Dad grew old gracefully - he stayed the same, just got older, a little greyer, a little slower but with the Four Pillars of Respect, Family, Work and Self still guiding his life and clearly on show.

The final musical selection today will be a song by George Harrison titled ‘All Things Must Pass’. It is a moving piece of loss and renewal and of transitioning from the darkness to the light. There is a line that reads:

‘Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey’

Perhaps today will carry our ‘daylight’. While our hearts have been full of sadness and grief over recent times, maybe those feelings can be replaced, and our spirits refreshed and renewed, with happy memories of the joy of Dad’s life. A life that was well lived, and lived well.

I will miss you Dad. Love you. Rest in Peace.

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Many thanks to all those who attended the simple and respectful ceremony beautifully led by the celebrant Nola Coulthurst, and for the wishes and thought of those who could not join in the day. All of your support was of great comfort. And a very special thank you to Bruce Riley, a life long friend of our family and Dad's Godson. Thank you Bruce for the contribution of your very personal and moving tribute and remembrances of Dad. And while we did not want to dwell on Dad's recent illness, Robin and I would like to thank Dr John MacKenzie for his personal and professional and attendance to Dad and to at the management and staff at Somercare in Somerville for making the final years of Dad's life as comfortable as possible.

Attendees

  • Greg & Robin Humphries
  • Bruce & Marie Riley
  • Pam & Greg Hobbs
  • Elaine Sheppard
  • John & Carol Sheppard
  • Russell & Trudy Sheppard
  • Pam Webb
  • Julie Coleman
  • Chris Humphries
  • David Humphries + 2
  • Matthew
  • Pam MacKenzie
  • Denise Banks
  • Monica Clifford
  • Darryl Luttrell
  • Reuben Nicholson
  • Peter & Peta Garriga
  • Rod, Louise & Catherine Prior
  • Julie Mason
  • Linley & Helen Baxter
  • Joyce & Rob Taylor
  • Elva Parker
  • Sue (SomerCare) + 1 (36)

Apologies
  • Margaret Cleland
  • Chris Mason (Flowers w/Julie)
  • Libby Cleland (Flowers)
  • Geoff O’Neill
  • John MacKenzie
  • Beverly & Gerard Goris
  • Margaret Norrish

Dad and Mum will be interred at the Mornington Cemetery in Mt Martha later this year and may they both Rest In Peace together. Forever.

Bye for now, Greg

Bad luck Bombers...

Good afternoon,

Unfortunately the Essendon Football Club's 2014 campaign came to an end on Saturday night with a 12 point loss to North Melbourne. Sadly we were well up (33 points in fact) during the third quarter but unfortunately couldn't go on and close it out. P7 for the season is a pretty fair result. My year end summary and player and coaching ratings will be released piece by piece.

Who was Impressive:

Dyson Heppell was a running, possession grabbing machine all year. Seems 'slow-ish' but is always around the ball with time to use it. His disposal was a big improvement on 2013. A standout performer for the year and should run a place in the Brownlow and will win his first Crichton Medal.

Paddy Ryder's ruck work / palming skills was under-rated by non-Bomber watchers this year. His leap and accurate taps were exciting to watch at centre clearances. Paddy also kicked valuable goals when he went forward.

Michael Hibberd and Cale Hooker were absolute rocks in defence. It is one thing to be negative in defence, but it is a rare skill that combines that with intercept marking and run off half back. These guys were brilliant.

Who wasn't...:

We have a middling (pardon the pun) range of mid-fielders who I don't believe have come on enough. Melksham, Howlett being two who just need to step up and take more games by the scruff. Too invisible for too long in games.

I probably hoped that Paul Chapman would make a bigger impact on the scoreboard than he did. Maybe my expectations were just too high. 'Chappy' did provide leadership and competitiveness however.

Harsh call but Patrick Ambrose didn't seem to be a top four centre half forward to me. Tries hard and is mobile but doesn't demand enough of the ball in the right spots at the right moments.

Another harsh call, but Brent Stanton did not have an impact this year commensurate with his experience and skills. His outright speed seemed down and running distance / patterns appeared to be lessened. Injuries maybe, I don't know but disappointing nevertheless...

Jackson Merrett started the season OK, but was overtaken by his younger brother and will need to increase his work rate and slot more goals from his limited opportunities to be a regular in 2015.

Leroy Jetta sadly sunk without a trace. Disappointing.

Tom Bellchambers year was cruelled by serious ankle issues early, and I hope that this was the only reason that he failed to have an impact in the games that he played.

Who surprised:

Zach Merrett had a sensational debut year. Looked better as the year went on will be even better with another pre-season under his belt.

Mark Baguley continues to be indispensable in defence. He plays his heart out in every contest and leaves absolutely nothing in the tank after every game.

Pass Marks

Skipper Jobe Watson, Joe Daniher (just snuck into this category with his last few games of the season), Michael Hurley, David Zaharakis (almost made the 'Impressive List'), David Myers (was almost surprisingly effective and the only to player to have an appendage with it's own hashtag #leftleg) , Heath Hocking, Dustin Fletcher (his first half of the year was excellent), Jake Carlisle, Brendon Goddard (needs to kick straighter), Jason Winderlich (thanks for your career), Courtenay Dempsey and Travis Colyer (he needs to be given running patterns and a license to RUN as he is just about our only genuine fast runner over distance and line breakers with foot speed).

Would keep

The likes of Ariel Steinberg (showed he wasn't afraid of the big stage after 2+ years in the 'magoos'), Elliott Kavanagh, Orazel Fantasia, Nick O'Brien, Jason Ashby, Martin Gleeson all did enough at senior level to keep them on going into 2015.

Injuries

Best wishes to Alex Browne, Nick Kommer and others who are recovering from serious injuries.

Coaches

Thanks to Mark 'Bomber' Thompson for stepping into the breach at a difficult time and doing an outstanding job of giving the club a rudder and having the ability to steer the ship in a sensible direction in a turbulent year. I really enjoyed the coaches member communications after every game.

However I didn't enjoy our games as much as last year. The defensive structures, limiting our speed going forward was to less interesting to watch than last year. Did it win more games, yes, but ultimately didn't seem to materially move us forward. Especially as the coaching team weren't able to teach / structure our players / game plan to maintain six goal plus leads in games. Something was seriously amiss in our thinking and responsive in-game.

More to come soon...

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Happy Father's Day Dad!

Good afternoon,

Happy Fathers Day Dad! Although up and dressed, he was a bit sleepy and dopey this morning. And he would probably say the same about me if he could! I heard that Roast Lamb and chocolate pudding was on the lunch menu today. Yummo!

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Sleepy on Fathers Day @ SomerCare - 2014

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Sunshine Coast Holiday

Good afternoon,

Our annual winter escape to Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast was again enjoyable.

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Looks like fun - 2014

More details to come shortly.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

A visit to Bomber HQ

Good evening,

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Yesterday Robin and I took a trip out to the True Value Solar Centre in Tullamarine, the new administrative and training home of The Essendon Football Club.

I knew that this new facility was out near the airport and thought it was probably in some wind-blown plain and a bit desolate. Well, to be honest, it did seem a little breezy but there is a lot of development in the area and in a few years it will be surrounded by light industrial factories, business accommodations and various commercial ventures.

The facility itself is attractive in a red and black industrial sort of way, and is especially spacious particularly the indoor training area. I dropped a few dollars in the 'Bomber Shop' and we enjoyed a coffee in the cafe overlooking the two ovals, one the size of the MCG and the other mirroring the dimensions of Etihad Stadium. Interestingly the cafe also is where players get meals and refreshments and the choices are particularly healthy, not a pie to be seen. Sadly...







Bye for now, BomberBoy

JMH - SomerCare Visit

Good evening,

"Visited dad today
Not so great, he’d had a fall
Held his hand
Best of all"

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Bye for now, BomberBoy

2014 AFL Predictions

Good evening,

It is that time of the year again for my AFL and Essendon predictions.

Ladder

Hawthorn
Fremantle
West Coast
Port Adelaide
Geelong
Sydney Swans
Essendon
Collingwood

Richmond
North Melbourne
Carlton
Adelaide
Gold Coast Suns
Greater Western Sydney
Brisbane
Western Bulldogs
St Kilda
Melbourne

Coleman Medal - Mark LeCras
Brownlow Medal - Scott Pendlebury

As for the Bombers season ahead, ASADA findings notwithstanding, it should be reasonably positive.

A new look forward line can't hurt as it has been a bit dysfunctional in recent times. The inclusion of Chapman should be exciting if he stays fit. The ruck stocks look a bit thin with David Hille's retirement but Fraser Thurlow looked promising in the NAB Challenge. The back line looks to be a strength with a solid six plus a couple of backups in case of injury. With Goddard and Watson as A-graders through the middle, Melksham, Zaharakis, Howlett and company need to step up and take the load off and provide some goal kicking threat as well.

As predicted above, my tip for Essendon is around the bottom of the eight. Can't really see them threatening the Top Four.

Go Bombers!

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Canadian Bay Club Visit

Good evening,

On December 30 we were invited to the Canadian Bay Club by the Quinn family to join some of their friends for a relaxed BBQ dinner. Robin and I had not been to the club before and I must say I was looking forward to the opportunity.

Now the CBC is a members-only clubhouse-style environment that provides facilities for self-catered type meals whilst providing all the cooking, cutlery and associated needs to support dining requirements. Balcony seating and dining, boat and kayak storage and the spectacular location are the main attractions of the club.

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The summer afternoon view across Canadian Bay - 2013

The view from the deck across Canadian Bay is of the million dollar variety. Absolute waterfront, private and superb. Sadly I had a bout of camera incompetence and didn't get a decent panorama of the view. Bah.

After plenty of tasty snacks (including some superb organic popcorn) we dined on a delightful BBQ of steak and snags with mixed salads. A sensational lemon tart was the major dessert that only lost marks because it was made by a professional chef ( a guest). It was sensational! Coffee and chocolates rounded off the evening.

Although the environment and food were very good, the conversation was the best part of the evening. Corey and Jane knew everyone, but some of the others were strangers but not for long. Especially with one of the guests, Rowan, fairly giving the female guests the 'third degree' and finding out more information in fifteen minutes than others would have taken three months to find out. With all cards on the table, the gloves were off (apologies for the mixed metaphors...) and information was freely shared thereafter! Great fun.

Thanks to Corey and Jane (and family) for inviting us. We had a fantastic evening.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

The 2013 Christmas Day Wrap

Good morning,

Christmas has come and gone for another year. As I sit here lethargically in my lounge chair on Thursday morning waiting for the Boxing Day Test to start, it doesn't feel like it but it was a very enjoyable Christmas Day. The luncheon feast was at our place again this year. That is not a complaint but a bonus. I can eat and drink what I want and if I need a quiet lie down mid afternoon, I can do that as well.

Preparations started a couple of weeks out. Ordering the seafood, deciding which roast meats to prepare (and where). Crayfish, oysters, prawns and salad greens for starters, followed by Roast Beef, Roast Turkey breast and carved ham off the bone, along with six or seven vegetables. Desserts were plum pudding and possibly a grilled stone fruit pavlova. Well, that was the plan anyway.

After some initial preparations on Christmas morning, I went to visit my Dad. I am pleased to say that he was in good spirits and we shared a small bottle of sparkling wine and after a few sips he seemed to improve a bit more! Then his personal doctor John visited with his wife Pam (both long time family friends) with a card and Christmas wishes and that cheered him up even more.

Dad
Dad enjoying a tipple for Christmas at Somercare - 2013

Our guests arrived a little early, putting the pressure on last minute preparations. While organising the drinks, I managed to smash a champagne glass that added further stress. Aaarrghh. But the seafood was duly served and was particularly fine. Phew, one course down!

M & M 2013 Lunch
Family & friends Christmas 2013 - 2013

It was our first year to roast a full (well buffe) turkey. Robin made stuffing, only to find that there was nowhere to 'stuff' it! The roast veggies were in one BBQ and the scotch fillet roast in the other, and with the turkey from the kitchen oven, everything was now done and were served with the many vegetables and suitably 'thick' gravy. Two courses down. Ah, the day will now get easier. Those of you following closely may notice that I didn't mention the ham... That is because it stayed in the fridge. We forgot all about it! Oh well, maybe next year. Margaret's plum pudding and brandy sauce was the traditionalist's choice for dessert, but I had planned to offer a fruit pavlova loosely based on a recipe that Jamie Oliver was flogging for Woolies on the TV. Lani and Jesse (and me) were keen for the pavlova so I grilled the fruit and assembled the toppings (Robin had already made the base) and it was really good! And if you ignore the meringue base, the full vanilla cream and the crushed 'Flake' on top, it was almost healthy...

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The now 'traditional' Christmas BBQ Stone Fruit Pavlova - Photo by Lani Cleland 2013

After lunch we all retired to the lounge room where presents were merrily exchanged and due to some well organised 'negotiations' most people were very happy, if not totally surprised, by their gifts!

The roll call of the day was Margaret Cleland, Libby Cleland and her daughters Lani and Jesse, Denise Banks and for dessert (of course) Monica Clifford. I hope everyone enjoyed the day. After some cleaning up Robin and I had a very light dinner and a quiet drink to celebrate successfully surviving another family Christmas Day.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Vale: Michael Lee Coleman 1954-2013

We received some very sad news today of the passing of my cousin Michael Coleman. Michael was the second oldest son of Dad's youngest sister Joan and husband Ken (deceased).

For no other reason than our lives took different paths, I had been out of touch with Michael for some time and only caught up with him again late last year at Yvonne Humphries funeral. He discussed his (then) recent cancer scare but was recovering well to the point where he was planning a caravan trip around Australia this year. Unfortunately, he only got as far as the Gold Coast before his disease struck him down and he passed away back in Melbourne this week.

My memories of Michael will always be of a happy kid, a hard working, family oriented man who will be missed by all those that came in contact with him.

Our thoughts are with his wife Carolyn and their children Amber, Kara and Garen.

Rest in peace Michael.

Veraison Restaurant at Bluestone Lane Winery

Good evening,

I visited Veraison Restaurant at the Bluestone Lane Winery recently with a my good friend Rod, to sample the fruits of the vineyard and of the kitchen. And we were not let down on either front.

The view from the deck, even on this cool but sunny day, is very engaging. Looking out over the vines to the trees of the border is most restful and the property is maintained to a very high standard.

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Views over the vines - 2013

The mid week menu is a two or three course, fixed price affair offering flexibility of multi-savoury or traditional savoury & dessert combinations. It was Spanish garlic prawns and Beef Brochette wrapped in prosciutto with vegetables for me and Rod was seen tucking into two seafood courses of scallops and whiting and pronounced both excellent. Not surprisingly, the emphasis is on locally sourced produce and it shows in the freshness and taste. Excellent.

This was all washed down with a delightful 2012 Bluestone Lanes Pinot Grigio. This Italian variety is gaining great popularity with winemakers on the Mornington Peninsula in addition to the usual crops of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And special mention of the service which is knowledgeable and engaging.

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Rod in relaxed repose - 2013

This was my second visit to Veraison, and if you are down Balnarring way looking for an excellent dining experience, I recommend it unreservedly.

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Xavier's 2013 Grand Final Eve Luncheon

Good afternoon,

Another year, another Xavier's Grand Final Eve Luncheon in the Committee Room of the Melbourne Cricket Club. The room overlooks the famous ground where preparations were just concluding some 24 hours prior to the big game.

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The MCG in it's Grand Final Eve glory - 2013

As usual, the day starts around 11AM with some refreshments at the Percy Beames Bar and conversation with, and re-introductions to, some folks that you can barely remember talking to at last year's excellent event… I believe some 18 hardy souls fronted up again, including many familiar faces. It was my fourth year I believe. I can't recall too much Grand Final football being discussed as they were only one or two Hawthorn supporters there (no Dockers of course), plenty of chat about the Essendon crisis and some hard luck stories from the Geelong fans that fell on deaf ears.

Then around 12.30 it was off to the dining room for a wonderful three course luncheon. The caterers do a superb job on the range, quality and value of both the food and wine on the day. The service is also friendly, attentive and efficient. Outstanding all round!

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Xavier (centre left) & Peter (centre right) - 2013

I had the pleasure of sitting next to a Telstra salesman all day. Jeepers, what had I done to offend Xavier last year??? Only joking Dale is great fun and has the distinction of also being an Essendon supporter.

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Scott & Colin - 2013

Around 3.00 we were asked to vacate the Dining Room and it seemed only right and proper that we go back to the Bar for another cleanser (or two) before that also seemed to close and we were officially evicted around 3.45-ish. This is a very clear signal that it is time to go home, for some… The options are to Richmond Station, the train then home; or a short march up the hill to The Hilton Hotel to continue what has been so effectively started. Dear readers, you will delighted to hear that I did take option A, and made my way home fully satisfied by great company, food and wine at Xavier's 2013 Grand Final Eve lunch.

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Happy days - 2013

Bye for now, BomberBoy

Essendon FC - 2013 Report Card

Good afternoon,

Wow, where to start. Fair to say that the entire club, from top to bottom, did not cover itself in glory this year.

The Board, administration, management and coaching staff were clearly too trusting and / or asleep at the wheel when it came to the oversight and control of performance-enhancing substances provided to the playing group. At best it was very, very disappointing, and frankly at worst very irresponsible. And IMHO appropriate penalties have been handed down, either internally or externally, to those concerned. So let's now look forward from a playing perspective rather than dwell on the sports science issues of the past.

The only people who can hold their heads up throughout this entire saga are the players. They almost deserve medals to be struck in their honour for playing the way they did, nearly all year in the face of unbelievable criticism and attention.

So based on purely on-field performance, what were my observations of the year?

The Highs:
Jobe Watson - Class family, quality individual, the perfect captain and did everything possible on and off the field to keep the footy club performing;
Brendon Goddard - The Crichton Medallist, never really dominated but was extremely consistent with his on-field contribution and was an immediate leader upon arriving at the club;
Jake Carlisle - A break out year to be one of the best key defenders in the AFL while being able to swing forward when needed;
Cale Hooker - Looks a little one paced, but showed great judgement, was a leading intercept mark in the comp and made pretty good decisions down back shutting down some big name opposition forwards;
Michael Hibberd - Another break out year player, after a promising 2012. His defensive skills, plus run plus penetrating left foot set up many attacking thrusts through the year;
Tom Bellchambers - Really came of age, with maturity either in the ruck with hit outs to advantage or as a goal kicking resting forward. Delighted that he has signed on for two more years;
Dustin Fletcher - Just because! An inspiration to those on the ground and to the fans in the stands. A real club favourite son, or father or grand dad...

Honourable mentions:
Jackson Merrett (flashes of class mark him as a player to watch), Patrick Ryder, Michael Hurley (still injury prone), Courtenay Dempsey, Jason Winderlich, Mark Baguley (very under-rated), David Zaharakis, Jake Melksham (despite being a bit of a fan whipping boy), Brent Stanton (a previous fan whipping boy), Stewart Crameri (the leading goal kicker despite an injury plagued season)

Disappointing / more expected:
Leroy Jetta, Ben Howlett (after a promising start), Alwyn Davey (also after a promising start), Travis Colyer, Scott Gumbleton (injuries still)

Thanks for the memories:
To two great servants of the EFC, David Hille and Nathan Lovett-Murray. They could not have given any more to the club and they should both be proud.

One final comment - The team / club did a great job to fight nearly all the way to the end of the season under unbelievable pressure. The only on-field coaching failure I saw was a very poor game plan / structure for our forward line. We have excellent performers in that space and our output was well below the players 'quality'. More leadership and direction required up forward in 2014.

It was very disappointing but not unexpected to be dumped from the finals this year. So let's re-focus, hold our collective heads up and prepare for a stunning 2014! Go Bombers!

Bye for now, BomberBoy