A Family Lunch for my 50th

My 50th back in May was kept very low key with a nice lunch for the 4 of us at Mt Duneed Estate just out of Geelong.  It has a nice big Barrel Hall for lunch where we just relaxed, ate and talked.

20190520 03 Mt Duneed Estate - David 50th

20190520 04 Mt Duneed Estate - David 50th20190520 08 Mt Duneed Estate - David 50th

The girls caught the train down from Melbourne and surprised me when we picked them up at the station with a huge gift…the Lego Millennium Falcon…the largest of all Lego sets.

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Cake was also Lego Theme with a vanilla Lego Brick cake by Kerrie.

20190520 14 David 50th20190520 21 David 50th20190520 26 David 50th

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Moo turns 22

Dinner at our Ocean Grove for Moos’ 22nd Birthday back in July.  Poor Moo is getting so old that it is no longer a big event but she still gets a cake made by her mum…although in this case it was a smoking Pecan Pie.

20190706 02 Moo 22nd Birthday20190706 04 Moo 22nd Birthday20190706 01 Moo 22nd Birthday

20190706 05 Moo 22nd Birthday20190706 06 Moo 22nd Birthday20190706 07 Moo 22nd Birthday

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Life is Good

Found these little words of advice from Molly from an assignment she must have done for school – she was 13 at the time and such a positive spirit…

Life is Good, by Molly Batrouney, Year 7

Life is good because really life is good. I bet your thinking now, “I failed maths! How does this make life good?” Well think of the positive. At least you have food in your bellies and i bet all of you have some sort of shelter. But isn’t just wonderful when you get something better than what you bargained for.

I had Macca’s some time ago, It was my dinner for the night. Little did I know that inside was a cheeseburger. I didn’t order a cheeseburger nor was on the receipt. FREE cheeseburger, BONUS! After I finished my meal I consumed my free cheeseburger, oh it was nice. I remember thinking that night Life is Good because it is. I got a free cheeseburger out of a multibillion dollar company. Hahaha good times!

I think it’s the little things that make life better. Like a good report. Can’t wait to get mine! I’ve come up with a list of my favourite 5 things that make life great.

  1. Sleeping in on rainy days. Don’t you just love sleeping in your nice warm bed in the winter mornings!
  2. New Clothes. I just love going shopping!
  3. The Internet. I cannot live without the internet. It is such a big part of life.
  4. Music. O o oo oo i love usher!
  5. Playing Sport. I play approximately 3 games of hockey a week! I just love the exhilaration.

It’s also the little things that make life suck. Like my little sister, JOKING! Just one simple thing can turn a good day into a bad day. I hate that! When your expectations of your self aren’t met. Do you sometimes feel as if you could of studied a bit more before the test? I do. But even though i pass the test, i feel as though i could have done better. Pushed myself that little harder. Study the things I thought i already knew.

I looked up life in the dictionary. It came up with the period between birth and death. A good life must mean the period between birth and death is good. The only way to make it good is in your hands. You are the only person who can change your life. People can influence you but it is really your decision. Enjoy life because really life is good.

IMG_0215_2888 Snapshot_20100415_2

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Kerrie’s thoughts on our Japan Holiday in 2012

Found a note from Kerrie where she was reflecting on the awesome holiday we had in Japan back in 2012


Japan was an amazing place, I really loved it! It is nothing like the rest of Asia and nothing like Western countries, it really is like another planet!


The public toilets (and there were a lot of them) are immaculately clean, always well supplied with paper, electronic taps and hand driers. We had a few laughs at the music you could play and the fake flushing noise. Sometimes it took a while to find the flush button!


Somebody has made a lot of money out of making that plastic food – just about every restaurant has it’s menu displayed in the window for all to see. It is so friendly the way you are greeted when entering and leaving a restaurant, we said simply konichi wa on arriving and arigato on leaving – the only two words we know. Other words were used to us, so we weren’t saying the right things but hopefully no-one minded! We all enjoyed the food, much of it was familiar to us from what we eat here in restaurants, what was surprising was that there was very little foreign food around, a few Italian places selling pizza and pasta and MacDonald’s and KFC of course. As always we found the street food to be yummy.



We found we could get by not speaking Japanese, people were obviously used to most tourists being able to speak some Japanese as looking blank and shrugging our shoulders did not stop people chatting to us. The funniest people were the cashiers in the toll booths, they obviously talk to each motorist as they pay, so nice, but we had no idea what they were telling us! Japanese people are all so friendly and helpful that much smiling and pointing could get us what we wanted in restaurants and shops (although most people did have a few words of English to help us). I have to admit that I did panic a few times – there are times when “hello” or “thank you” do not work, I found myself blurting out Tamagotchi!!! – I don’t think anyone noticed!!!


It was cold when we were there, we were given a hot pack one day and bought some more for ourselves, these are little sachets of some chemical, they do not appear to be activated, they just know when they have been unwrapped and we want them to get hot – curious – I am hoping my friendly translator can solve the mystery for me! Hot drinks were the preference in the cold weather – we were surprised to see not only hot drink vending machines but also hot drinks in plastic bottles held in hot “fridges” the way cold drinks are kept in convenience stores. There were cold and hot sections. We did not know what we were buying, Molly was more adventurous and got some interesting drinks!



We went to a couple of markets, one, in Kanazawa, is nearly entirely fish, mostly King Crab, they are huge, I couldn’t believe how much fish was there. The other market is in Osaka, this is more eclectic, there are loads of things I did not recognise and I have to say, loads of things that looked disgusting! We tried a few things which we expected to taste one way and were surprised when they tasted completely different (mostly fish derived!)


Getting around

We travelled around a fair bit, avoiding Tokyo and Osaka this time, we stayed in some smallish towns and saw a lot of the countryside. We got around fine in our Nissan Xtrail (such a luxury to drive in a decent car for a change). The GPS we had did have English (but there was still a lot not translated), this did not actually matter – the software on the GPS was superior, we did not get lost once and it took us to the door of the places we input. The only problem was that it seemed to have an option of “do not use toll roads” at first – this did tend to extend the journey length by a lot (the Japanese do seem to like traffic lights – and everyone follows the road rules!!!!), but meant we got to see a lot more of small towns. Once we changed that option we went on to the magnificent toll roads – these were expensive but very quiet. There were hundreds of tunnels, some very long , just slicing through the mountains. There were also regular rest places, where David could try to get something bazaar from a vending machine.


As we arrived home in Malaysia I realised one of the reasons why I liked Japan so much – it was the stark contrast between here and Japan in so many things. There was the rude, inefficient reception at Malaysian customs, the airport staff chatting and ignoring customers, taking everything slow. Then once on the road there was the general disregard for road rules and basic lack of courtesy for other road users, I was also reminded of the holes and bumps in the roads. It is nice and warm here though!

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Kerrie’s Kuala Lumpur Experience Menu

The following was a list Kerrie pulled together in 2012 after our first two years in Kuala Lumpur.  A bit old but As I skim through it the places and experiences are still the relevant ones to do. 

I tend to recommend nowadays to people that they spend a good week in Kuala Lumpur (including a weekend) with a hire car as the best places are in the suburbs and also a lot to do within 2 hours of KL. Then in the second week fly out further afield to the islands and Penang to relax and recover.

Experience Menu – Kuala Lumpur

  • PETRONAS twin towers, KLCC – Queue at 6am in the morning to get tickets
  • Kuala Gandar Elephant rescue centre – donation, 2 hours drive
  • Kuala Selangor – Fireflies, fish restaurant, monkeys – 1½hours drive
  • Chow Kit market – in town – very ethnic, cows heads available!!
  • Bukit Bintang – in town, hawker food
  • Pavillion – in town, shopping
  • Crab restaurant – Desa Parkcity (this has closed down but many other crab restaurants exist and much cheaper than Singapore)
  • Orchid garden, Butterfly garden, Bird Park – in town, minimal cost
  • Segway around lake gardens – RM150 / hour – great fun!
  • High Tea at Carcosi or Mandarin – RM70 each
  • Pedicure – RM45
  • Manicure and Pedicure – RM90
  • Reflexology – RM60
  • Massage – RM80
  • Central Market and China town – in town
  • Blue Mosque
  • Chinese temple
  • Buddhist temple
  • Malay house
  • Cameron Highlands – 3 hours drive, cool, tea plantations
  • Melaka – 2 hours drive, historic town
  • Ipoh – 1 hour drive
  • Sunway lagoon – water park
  • White water rafting or cave exploring – near Ipoh, RM100
  • Fish Spa – fish eating at the dead skin on your feet
  • Shopping!

Further afield in Malaysia:

  • Penang – 4 hour drive
  • Taman Negara – 2 hour drive, 3 hour riverboat, jungle
  • Pangkor Island – 1½ hour drive, ferry
  • Langkawi island – 1 hour flight

Food to try – Famous Malaysian food, there is lots more!

  • Roti Canai
  • Roti tisu
  • Ais Kacang
  • Cendol
  • Rojak
  • Fish head soup
  • Fish head stew
  • Satay
  • Crab cooked many ways
  • Dim Sum
  • Hawker
  • Chicken rice
  • Char Kway Teow
  • Nonya food
  • Banana leaf
  • Curry Puffs
  • Pandan leaf desserts
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Em’s Holiday Class Talk back in 2010

In cleaning up an old computer from KL I found this simple reflection by Emily, at age 10, to her school class on one our major holidays to the USA.  This was our trip to the East Coast for Emily’s 10th birthday.
I have kept the exact format and structure as to how she originally wrote it.  In a few words she hits what was memorable to her.  You cannot get more direct than the view of a 10 year old!!!

Good morning  4B

1.     For free choice I’m talking about some of the favourite things I did on my holiday, like…..


2.      My birthday – I was in Disney world at that time, I had a hat and pin to wear and had breakfast with the princesses and got a card   from them. The theme park that we went to was magic kingdom, I had lots of fun


3.      Busch gardens – in Busch gardens I went on a ride that went vertically down, I was shaking so much. It wasn’t so bad though, I quite enjoyed it! My Dad and I went on lots of other rides. Mum and my sister did not go, just me and Dad


4.      Washington – in Washington we went on a bike ride around the monuments, I also got a photo with the President of U.S.A   if you believe me


5.      New York – one very popular thing was the jersey boys, this is a show on Broadway, but I fell asleep for half the time so there not much to tell .the boys were Matt , Ryan , Dominic, Jarrod. And also got a pizza from New York and I went to the statue of liberty.



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Collectable Fountain Pens

So being back in Melbourne and home means I have started going through the various items that have been horded over the years and stuck in packing boxes or drawers. 

One of the first things I uncovered are two old fountain pens which I obtained in some way from the Auction Rooms that was the family business as I grew up.  These were either given to me by my grandfather or I talked him into buying them for me at one of the Antique Auctions that him and dad used to have. 

As far as I can tell neither are overly valuable financially at around AUD $100 to $150 each however they are of high value emotionally as a memory of soem of the many and varied things that made their way through the Auction Rooms.

The first pen, a Geha 720, is from Germany and the company primarily made pens for school use.

20190527 14 Geha Model 720 Fountain Pen (1958)20190527 15 Geha Model 720 Fountain Pen (1958)20190527 16 Geha Model 720 Fountain Pen (1958)

This Geha Model 720 is dated approximately 1958 with pistonfiller system and 14 K twotone, broad flexible tip.  There is not much information around and so the following is all I was able to determine.

GEHA – abbreviation for GEbrueder HArtmann – the Hartmann Brothers, who founded the company in Hannover. In 1950 – Geha-Werke announce a new invention being a fountain pen with reserve tank.

Geha’s first model series featured the red and gold Geha logo on the cap ornamental ring. In 1957 After the omission of the Geha logo on the cap, the value of the fountain pens was documented by the number of Klippringe: top model = 3 clip rings, middle price range = 2 clip rings, school filler = 1 clip ring.

My lovely specimen shows 3 clip rings so top f the line!!! It is a nicely balanced pen and a comfortable size.  To fill you loosen the top cap anti-clockwise, dip the nib in ink and then screw the top cap clockwise to close and pull up the piston.

The second pen is a classic being a Parker “51”.

20190527 07 Parker 51 Fountain Pen (1964)20190527 08 Parker 51 Fountain Pen (1964)

20190527 09 Parker 51 Fountain Pen (1964)20190527 10 Parker 51 Fountain Pen (1964)20190527 11 Parker 51 Fountain Pen (1964)

The Parker “51” has a lot of information available as it was one of the most popular fountain pens ever made. The pen was developed in 1939, the Parker company’s 51st year in business, and went on sale in 1941. Since then, it has been altered and revived any number of times, most recently as late as 2002.

The 51 was innovative in a number of ways. First was the design: sleek, modern, and oddly plain. No gorgeous, patterned celluloid, and, most surprisingly, a barely visible, “hooded” nib. This was a pen for use!!!

Second, the hooded nib allowed for an internal ink reservoir (the “collector”) to be located very near the nib. The fin area of the feed could now be filled with ink and it wouldn’t evaporate. Since the 51 was initially intended for use with a fast-drying ink, the issue of evaporation was especially important.

Third was the slip cap (i.e. the cap didn’t need to be screwed and unscrewed). Fountain pens had been made with slip caps before, but not with the secure closing mechanism that Parker developed for the “51.”

My Parker “51” is post 1964 Forest Green model with aerometric filling system and Gold Filled vertical lines cap; the imprint “51” was added to the cap lip only from 1964.

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