Spring is letting winter know that it's time to go

I’ve let this blog languish almost as long as it’s been winter. Spring is on its way though and is letting winter know it will be kicked to the kerb for another nine months. Maybe spring will help renew me around here too.

It’s been an interesting few months.

I overheard a conversation in a cafe a few weeks ago which could change my life in a fairly major way even though I’d been heading in that direction anyway. Am not spilling beans on this overheard conversation until things are settled though.

I was on the radio recently. I was approached out of the blue to speak about venting online from an online specialist point of view. While I was being briefed/asked if I would go on, part of me was thinking – no, no no. The other part of me thought, what the heck – take a risk. I listened to the other part and did it. Without having listened to myself I think I did okay. And I didn’t embarrass myself or get stuck for words. I was on the other end of a phone which made it a bit easier I think, and they had another person on discussing the same topic so the focus wasn’t totally on me anyway.

My son is a few months into his 14th year now and it’s an interesting journey. I’m finding I have to let the type of control I used to have with him go. I’m finding that really hard. It’s particularly hard around how much time he thinks he should spend playing xbox, compared to the amount of time I think he should be allowed on it. Overall though, he’s pretty pleasant and seems to be liking high school.

14th birthday

Lunch with Gill and friends

Happy belated birthday to my gorgeous son. His birthday coincided with a visit from his great aunt (pictured bottom right) who was in town for a couple of days. She suggested he take the day off school and when I asked him if he wanted to do this he jumped at the chance. That was before I told him what we were doing.

We drove to Victor Harbor so our aunt could catch up with another relative and a couple of childhood friends and – bless my lad – he went along with it. After all, the choice was to go to school or spend the day with us. A day at home by himself on his birthday was not an option.

He did pretty well sitting at the table playing games on his phone while listening in on our conversations. I took him out for a bit of a stroll and a purchase of some gobstoppers at the nearby lolly shop. I discovered that those things take forever to eat and are really annoying when you’re sitting next to the person sucking on them.

In the evening he had Scouts and I took a cake and some party food for him and his scout mates to share. All in all, he had a pretty good day – I think. He did say that he didn’t mind not having a party because I’d spent a bit of money on last year’s one. Bless him for even thinking that. It’s not something I’d said to him, although I have mentioned the cost of his attendance at Jamboree next year.

Balloon glow

Balloon glow event at Strathalbyn.

I’d heard about this event – the Balloon Glow – a couple of years ago and went to see it but was a day late.

This year, I heard about it again via a photography group I’m in and thought I’d drag the lad out to see it with me. A friend came along as well. I didn’t bother hooking up with the photography group in the end. Once I saw the amount of people I didn’t even try.

We got there about 5pm and realised that it was a very popular event by the amount of cars crawling the area looking for a park. I managed to find a park a few blocks away and walked there. While we lined up a very stressed mum walked past us with her baby in the pram and toddler whinging next to her. We heard her say, ‘Well we’re not going back. There’s so many rude and inconsiderate people in there.’ It didn’t bode well.

We paid our entry fee and walked in and saw queues of people surrounding us. I saw the longest queue for the toilets I’ve ever seen anywhere. We thought we’d get some fresh donuts but saw the queue for that and decided against it. My son and my friend bought a hot chocolate – surprisingly there was no queue for that – but I declined because I didn’t fancy queuing for the loos afterwards.

My first thought was that this event was really badly organised but then I realised that there’s no way they’d expected this amount of people as they obviously hadn’t catered for them. There were no portable toilets anywhere and there definitely wasn’t enough food and beverage stalls to cater for the crowds.

While we waited for the balloons to arrive on the oval and be inflated, the lad decided he was bored and would like to go and get some donuts so I handed him some cash and let him go. Bless him, he came back with some just as the balloons were being inflated.

We were told to not stand on the dog track so everyone moved back off it. Then we were told that we could indeed stand there, so maybe it was a bit disorganised after all.

All that aside, it was pretty spectacular. We had to stand back to start with and then were allowed on the oval to get up close. It’s then you realise just how big these balloons are, and how hot and big that flame is to keep the thing inflated.

There was no reason to hang around after the light show so off we went to buy some food. We went past the busy pub and settled for the not so busy one around the corner. I think they need Gordon Ramsay in there to roust them up. The service was abysmal, and the wait for the food was long. And the choice of food was schnitzel, steak or various forms of fried seafood. The one special – lamb shanks – were all sold out by the time we ordered so I had fish and chips.

So, it was an interesting evening in seeing how bad organisation is done with some pretty lights thrown in.

Customer service silos

The bus

My lad started high school this year which means he catches the bus to and from so I got him a Metrocard to use on the bus.

Not even one school term in he lost his wallet and I had to replace the Metrocard and his student ID card. I didn’t replace the small amount of cash and docked some pocket money for my out of pocket costs.

I’d registered the Metrocard so that it automatically tops up when the balance gets low. It beats buying tickets every week. When you’ve registered your card you can see what usage its had one to two days after the event. You can also report it lost or stolen and cancel so nobody else can use it. I left his for a couple of days just incase it turned up like the missing PE uniform did (embarrassingly it was in a bag in his room).

His wallet did not turn up and as someone had used his Metrocard on the other side of town I figured it wasn’t going to appear in our house or his bag.

I rang up to cancel it and asked how I could transfer the remaining balance on the card to a new one and was told I would have to go to their service centre in the city or the main train station – inconvenient to do either when you don’t work in the city.

Luckily I have a day off a fortnight so at my inconvenience I went into town to organise his new card.

Last Friday night I heard a couple of mums talking about having to do the same thing and I remembered I was going to provide feedback about this. I duly filled in an online feedback form and to their credit they replied within a few hours saying that provided I gave them certain details the replacement card could be done over the phone.

I replied with a thanks, and another suggestion to pass this information onto service centre staff.

I’m taking bets on when I’ll have to replace the card again. At least I won’t have to go into the city to do it.

Joy in the simple things

Birds having a great time frolicking in the rain

The lad and I were driving to go and help with the food shopping for his camping weekend away the other night when we saw and heard all these birds frolicking up on the wire. He got me to stop the car and got out to take some photos (so photo credit to my son on this one). I’m glad I took the time to stop. It was a back street making it easier to pull over and stop. We’d actually left the house a bit earlier instead of the last minute rush as is often the case.

It was raining and the birds were relishing the rain. It’s been a dry summer, therefore we’ve not had too many rainfalls recently.

They were making a heck of a noise and there were even birds hanging off other birds. It was great to see, and to hear. Do they normally hang out together like this around sunset, or did they come together because of the rain?

Too often the rain keeps us indoors but I quite like a walk in the rain. The dog doesn’t mind it either. He doesn’t like a gentle sprinkle with the hose and he definitely doesn’t like being washed, but add a lead and walk into the equation, getting wet doesn’t matter. The rub-down when we get home is worth it too.

One day at a time

Love autumn and I love my walk around the lake on a near-daily basis

I love autumn. I love the obvious changing of seasons. I love how the tree leaves change colour and how the weather is noticeably cooling down even though the warmer weather sometimes makes an appearance.

The days are getting shorter and my walking the dog in the mornings is mostly done while dark, the sun just thinking about appearing as I’m getting home. It’s still not cool enough to wear a jacket outside yet, but I know that’s on its way and I look forward to cranking up the slow combustion wood heater.

I hope this season brings along change for me as well. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately partly due to missing out on a job that I feel should have been mine but isn’t. Dealing with a moody teenage boy isn’t helping me cruise through day-to-day life either. I don’t know what’s worse, having a three-year old or a 13-year old. There are similarities. He would live on junk food if he could. He turns his nose up at 95% of my cooking. He has little tantrums. However, there are up-sides. I don’t have to be on hand as much to tend to his daily needs like I used to.

One minute he can be quite hateful and the next he makes me laugh and we have fun together. I drove him and two other Scouts to camp yesterday evening. I’d had a shitful time with him prior to going to the hall to pack up the last bits and pieces and was dreading the drive but it turned out to be fun. The boys were all excited about going away and they chatted non-stop about school, about teachers, about friends. Despite the warning from my son not to embarrass him, or talk, I didn’t embarrass him but I was allowed to talk a bit. Although I nearly spilled the beans about what him and a female friend used to get up to when they were three. I stopped along the way and bought us all a flavoured milk drink – a road-trip necessity, especially as I had to drive home after dropping them off, and it won me some browny points.

When I said goodbye he gave me two extended hugs so I know that despite his teenage-ness, he still loves me.

So, I take one day at a time and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet this weekend.

Adelaide Festival 2015 – Blinc

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

It can be a Herculean effort to take the teenager out with you, but persist. It’s easier to leave them at home to do more Xbox time, but once they get over the whinging they can be quite pleasant company and actually enjoy themselves.

Mama and son

This time we went into town to see the lights of Blinc before they finish up this weekend.

It’s pretty special seeing Parliament House and the Festival Centre adorned in pretty pictures and lights and the accompanying sound interrupts your thoughts every now and then when you’re close to the speakers.

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

I would have liked to walk through the lights in the rotunda in Elder Park but I hate queues so satisfied myself with a non-interactive look.

The elephant was pretty spectacular and the lad helped out a woman who wondered when the effin’ elephant was going to turn around. You have to go to the other side to see the other end, he informed her.

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

We wandered along the Torrens and admired other lights from Blinc and nearby buildings.

Adelaide Festival - Blinc

Adelaide OvalAdelaide Festival - Blinc

There are probably some we missed either because we were sick of walking or I’m crap at reading maps. But it’s great seeing Adelaide so busy and bustling with all of this activity. Pity there weren’t more regular trams at night-time – we saw our tram pull away just before we got to the stop and the next one didn’t arrive for another 20-25 minutes.