A tale of 2 scumbags

Today started badly due to two acts of malevolent vandalism, one personal and one political. I went out to my car to find the driver’s door window smashed. The perpetrator only wanted to do harm, as they did not even open the door so theft was not the motive. On reporting the incident the Police advised there was a spate of bicycle thefts in South Fremantle at the moment. Maybe they tried to steal 2 bikes that were close by, but were foiled by the large locking mechanism. If you live in South Fremantle make sure your bike is locked and out of sight.
The other act will have much more far reaching impacts on my life. In this case I do know who the perpetrator is, Tony Abbott. Australia’s climate reputation has been on shaky ground for quite some time now, but his latest outburst will adversely impact on Australia’s global reputation, global trade and global influence. This will cost jobs and growth.
“Primitive people once killed goats to appease volcano gods, we are more sophisticated now but still sacrifice our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect”…… “temperature rises caused by climate change could be beneficial because “far more people die in cold snaps”. Abbott said all this crap to a Global Warming Policy Forum in London. The two propositions are demonstrably wrong and an insult to all those people who have lost friends and relatives as a result of extreme climate events in recent years resulting directly from global warming.
This vandalism is of course aimed at Malcolm Turnbull who seems impotent to reign in Abbott’s attacks. Well the time has come, Turnbull has to get rid of Abbott, and get rid of him now. I have no wish to be collateral damage in the war between the liberal left and right. If that destroys the federal liberal party, then so be it, they will know whom to blame.
Today I am embarrassed and disappointed to call myself an Australian. So much wealth, yet so much stupid arrogance.

Pic courtesy Mandurah News
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On The Road

Five of WA’s Distinguished Gentlemen left the Maritime Museum today on a bike ride to Sydney, where they will join the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.

They sported a variety of bikes, 2 Bonneville’s, a BMW, a Suzuki and an old Panther.  Fremantle’s Mayor, Brad Pettitt wished them well and officially sent them off, a little late as one had a puncher on his way to the Maritime Museum.  Good to get that over early!

There was also a large contingent of support bikes who were going to ride with them to Mundairing.

The event aims to raise money for men’s health issues, including suicide prevention and prostate cancer.  You can follow their progress and donate via their facebook site /2017ontheroad

Have a great trip guys and watch out for those wombats!

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Power Play #2

This morning’s hot media topic is energy security on the back of AGL’s decision to close the Liddell power station in 2022. The government is blaming the opposition and the same old blame game goes on. The decision was not politically motivated but was made by AGL on financial grounds. The current government are big supporters of the free market and this was a free market decision, AGL do not want expensive stranded assets so decided to close Liddell, much like Engie’s decided to close Hazelwood. The major failing is the reliance on the free market to supply essential, reliable services at an affordable cost.  See Power Plays.
The one shining light is a discussion on adopting an energy policy. Interestingly Fremantle Council is well on that trajectory with the first draft been presented to Councillors earlier this week. This draft demonstrates that a key component missing from the national debate is the need for demand management as well as supply management. The two need to be in lockstep to ensure reliable affordable energy.
Pics: Newcastle Herald & Kev Walker

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Djilba

The Noongar season of Djilba is with us and flowers are springing up everywhere.  Today we took a stroll on Wireless Hill Park, and the wild flowers were putting on a real show.

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Heading North

Tuesday

Bags packed, breakfast eaten then we headed north from the Highlander inn towards Cawdor Castle. This is a truly magnificent castle and home of the Cawdor family for 600 years. The Castle was immortalised as the fictional home of the Thane of Cawdor in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and understandably so because the tower house castle has such gravitas and standing in its location, which includes very large beautiful gardens. The section visitors enjoy is furnished with period furniture and some excellent art works. I found this castle one of the highlights of our trip to Scotland. We ended our trip, of course with a visit to the castle café for coffee and scones!

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From Cawdor we visited the battlefield site of Culloden fought in April 1746. This was a horrific battle with great cruelty and death. There is nothing to be celebrated about war; the monument manages to leave that lasting impression.

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We left in a very different mood to when we arrived. We went from Culloden to a nearby Clootie Well. These are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. I suspect some of the clooties would tell pretty sad stories.

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We visited only one distillery today, but it was one of the best. Glenmorangie started life in 1730 as a brewery, but in 1843 Bill Matheson bought it and converted it to a distillery. In 1977 development pressures put the security of the Tarlogie Spring under threat resulting in Glenmorangie acquiring 600 acres to protect their water rights. In 2009 they increased their Still numbers to 12, this gives them a large production capacity, in modest sized buildings. The Stills are the tallest ones in Scotland, which Glenmorangie claim allows only the lightest and purest spirit to reach the condensers. Good quality whisky distilleries are valuable assets; in 2004 Glenmorangie was sold to French company Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton for a staggering 300 million pounds.

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Their whiskies are very light displaying the cask character more-so than any other distillery I can think of. The first one we tasted was the well named Nectar D’Or, finished in a Sauternes Cask and the sweet grapy character of the wine was very prominent. The nose was jammed full of citrus, and yes orange characters. It was the most interesting, if not best light sweet whisky I have tasted. The next we tasted was the 10YO, which exhibited similar characters to the Nectar D’Or, but the Sauterne characters were replaced with rich vanilla. A really fine 10YO. Last we tasted the 12YO, finished in Oloroso Sherry Butts. Again the backbone was light but high quality, the sherry characters of sultana and cinnamon came to the front. If my desert island had only one distillery’s whisky washed ashore I would probably pick Glenmorangie. Their marketing relies heavily on Celtic runes which gives their top line range a real hint of class.

Tonight we stayed in the Golspie Hotel. The unseasonal warm weather was giving them problems and the place was like a sauna. We walked into Golspie for a beer in an otherwise abandoned pub then went back to our hotel for dinner. The serves were huge, so after dinner we went for a walk. We were well north and were able to sit and watch the sunset despite it being late in the evening.

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Castles, Shortbread, Local Hero & Whisky

Monday

The day started grey and wet as we headed to Huntly Castle, or should I say 3 castles. Huntly started its life as a Motte and Bailey Castle built for Duncan, the Earl of Fife in 1190. In the 1400’s the first Earl of Huntley replaced this with a Tower House Castle. Finally in the 1640’s the second Marquis expanded it to become, according to Heritage Scotland, a Scottish Chateau. The Marquis’s inspiration came from his trips to Europe. His lifestyle and home became so extravagant he earned the nickname ‘Cock O’ The North’.

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The property is famed for the fine heraldic sculpture and inscribed stone friezes and includes two impressive heraldic fireplaces in the Marchioness’s lodging.
We seemed to have got into the habit of coffee and scones, so it came as no surprise when we pulled up outside Dean’s Shortbread factory and visitor centre. We watched the factory at work while we waited for our morning coffee to be delivered. Most of the work seemed to be done by people, but at the back there were these long multi-jointed arms flaying around like a mad robot. No idea what they were doing, probably making boxes or something equally mundane. We ran back to the car, as the rain was getting very hard, it was set in for the day.
Bill Forsyth has produced some wonderfully understated film; his pinnacle in collaboration with David Putnam was Local Hero, released in 1983. Part of the brilliance of the film was the shoot location, Pennan, and that was our next destination for lunch at the Pennan Inn.

The road in is perilously steep, with some very tight corners as you turn onto the small road along the sea front. The place seemed deserted, so we donned raincoats and walked the length of the village and harbor. One of the film’s aspects is the activities in a red phone box, which is still there. We had to have a photo, but there was more, someone had left a copy of the Mark Knopfler theme music record in the phone box. We dashed to the Inn, but disaster, it was closed. We headed onto the village of Knock and the Knockdhu Distillery.
Knockdhu make whisky sold under the anCnoc label. We were the only people taking the tour and the lady conducting it tailored it to our level of understanding. She allowed photography, which was a pleasant change from most distilleries. Their stills were quite small with high necks which would increase the copper contact. We tasted 3 malts, the 2002, the 12YO and the 16YO, they were all impressive drams, and the wall full of awards told us whisky judges felt the same.

The 2002 set the scene with extravagant fruit and spicy flavours, this was an extravagant whisky. The 12YO had a complex nose also driven by fruit and spice flavours, no smoke here. The pallet carried those characters, is quite light and showed some sweetness. The 18YO was similar, but more balanced, excellent. We did not buy bottles when we were travelling as we were all flying, but for anCnoc we made an exception because we enjoyed it so much. I also picked up a CD from the Elusive Highland Beauty called The Elephant Sessions. We walked out of Knockdhu feeling blessed, and the sun was peeping thorough the clouds.
We went a short distance down the road to visit the very scenic Strathisla Distillery. They produce a respectable 12YO, but would be known to most for their production of the popular Chivas Regal. Their stills are dumpy with a large bulge, intended to give a ‘clean’ characteristic to the spirit. We tried the Strathisla 12YO, and two whisky’s from their Chivas Regal range, the Extra and the 18YO. I enjoyed the tasting, but did not feel the urge to buy any.

On our return to the Highlander we took a brisk walk to the Fiddichside for a beer, only one as the clouds were rolling in, so we made a dash back to the Highlander for dinner, arriving just a little damp.

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Tesla Model X

Today, along with 4 friends I enjoyed test-driving a Tesla Model X around Fremantle. This car is a game changer in auto technology. For some of us the technology was of greatest interest, for me the sheer performance that had me hooked. Statistics like 0 to 100kmph in 2.4 seconds look good on paper, but to experience that acceleration was another thing completely.

The Model X was described by the Tesla man as a SUV, and that put me off from the start, as did the SUV body shape, albeit with rear gull wing doors, this is not a car out of an Italian design studio. Maybe in the future we will get to try the Model S, but Tesla chose the Model X due to it having to accommodate 4 big blokes and the Tesla rep.

Brad was first to drive, his regular car is a Volt, so he is familiar with electric cars.  He was very impressed with the performance and quality of finish.

The technology was extensive, but not overpowering, for me it ran in the background, without interfering with the driving pleasure. I was there for the performance, which the Model X had in spades. Not only straight-line acceleration, but also the cornering, which was stunning. All done without fanfare, no roaring of engine or squealing tyres, jut out right performance, oh and G force! I’d so love to get a Tesla on a track somewhere. I had most of the techno turned off; one thing switched on was regenerative braking, which cuts in when you take your foot of the throttle. It took some getting used to, but for a regular driver it would become a useful feature. The car also adjusted the suspension height and stiffness as well as the steering feedback to match your driving style.

Mark took the wheel got to play with the voice commands. The car comes with permanent Internet connection and Spotify. Click a lever and ask for a song or album and in seconds it’s playing. The voice activation also worked on the GPS, Mark asked for directions to the Round House and up it comes on the giant screen, which of course incorporated the best reversing camera I’ve seen. Next was Josh, and this is where it gets interesting. Flick another switch and the car goes into cruise control. It goes at the predetermined speed, until the car in front slows down. We pulled up in a queue at traffic lights on High Street and took off as the car in front pulled away, all using the cruise control. Pull the switch twice and the car goes into auto steer. The diver can take their hand off the wheel and the car navigates itself, as long as there is a white line and curb for it to orientate itself to. The driver came into Freo from Palmyra without having to do a thing except monitor the situation. As we went up Ord Street we arrived at the new very large speed humps and the car raised its suspension automatically, controlled by Tesla central that had picked up from another Tesla that it had encountered speed humps on that section of the road. As the Tesla fleet increases and information is gathered more and more info will be transmitted to the car about the driving conditions you are facing.

Behind the 3 rear seats are 2 more child seats, just push a button and the rear seats move forward and fold.  All doors and boot open and close at the touch of a button.  The test car was extensively optioned, one of which was the ‘Vegan Friendly Leather Seats’, work that one out if you can.

The 2 hours flew by, and all of us were a little dazed about what we had experienced. I do hope Tesla can arrange for us to drive a sports sedan.

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