On the road again

After five nights in Perth catching up with family and friends, we’re once again back to living ‘The Life of Riley on Wheels’. And let me tell you, it feels pretty damned good.

Firstly, the five days and nights in Perth. We arrived at our favourite Perth caravan park, Karrinyup Waters around lunch time on Saturday. Time to set up and a quick retail trip before Alice called around for a coffee.

One of two lakes at Karrinyup Waters Caravan Park.

The next morning we enjoyed a pleasant walk with Alice and Tim. Up the beach path from Ocean Reef to Burns Beach, a takeaway coffee (in house dining was to busy to even contemplate), and back again to Ocean Reef. With the coffee, approximately 2 hours, without coffee, not much more than an hour – the Burns Beach Cafe gets very busy on Sunday mornings.

Sunday Night we went with the family to a cafe in Northbridge as Josh had a gig there. The lead singer, Amber, was ill. Never mind, the band managed and compensated quite well without her, even though we could clearly see they missed her as the front person. Most songs went off without a hitch. We took photos of the band, but sadly the stage wasn’t lit well enough so none are good enough to post.

Tim and his dad

Alice and her dad.

Monday, Paul’s birthday – a much needed hair appointment for me, then a visit to friends in the afternoon.

Tuesday, lunch out with friends to celebrate Bob’s 65th birthday, and retirement. We stayed the night at Bob and Di’s, along with Marina and Terry. A lovely night was had by all, drinking, eating and playing cards. We had a good laugh, as we always do. We play an assortment of card games, Pontoon, Brag, various forms of poker, and our own made up version of something that I believe is called Acey Ducey, Shoot the Pot or In-betweens..

It’s an hilarious game, but lethal. This is how our version is played.

Each of us put a dollar’s worth of poker chips in the middle to form a pot.

The first dealer is nominated and shuffles the deck. Two cards are dealt face up to the person to the dealer’s left. That person then has to place a bet against the pot that the next card dealt will fall in-between the two cards already dealt. If an Ace is dealt the player can call it high or low. The wider the gap between the cards the higher the bet is likely to be. This, I believe,  is the basic In-betweens game.

In our version though we’ve added a couple of variations. The first is that should the first two cards not allow for a card to fall in-between, e.g. two threes, or a two and three, then the player nominates that the third card will either be higher or lower than the two cards dealt. Instances when two Kings, or two twos, or a two and three, or a King and Ace (with the Ace nominated as low), most cards dealt will win. Most people will bet whatever remains in the pot.

This is where the game becomes lethal (and often hilarious – thank goodness we all have a sense of humour). In our version we have a penalty should one of the first two cards be repeated with the third card dealt – double the bet must be added to the pot.

So, this is how the first round may go:

1st player is dealt an Ace and a two and nominates the Ace as high. The only possible losing cards will be another Ace or another two. There’s six dollars in the pot, so the player bets the full pot – and is hit with another Ace. He loses $12 and the pot now holds $18.

2nd player is dealt a three and Jack, and bets $2 against the pot. A four turns up so he takes $2 out of the middle reducing the middle to $16.

3rd player is dealt a two and three. She nominates any Aces dealt will be high, which means she can only be beaten by another two or a three. With the odds stacked heavily in her favour she bets $10. A three turns up. Amidst much laughter (and cussing) she adds another $20 to the pot. It now holds $36 and the first round hasn’t even finished.

You may think the odds of this happening would be fairly rare. Let me assure you, it happens often. I’ve seen a pot increase from $6 to over $100 before two rounds are completed. Fortunately, we’re all very good friends and try to ensure none of us gets completely fleeced – we always try and leave some in the pot for any big losers to try to recoup their loses. It’s rare for any of us to end up losing more than $20 over a whole night, and we don’t play often. There’s not many places we could be entertained for so long, with so many laughs for $20 or less a person.

The dealer continues through the pack placing all played cards upside against the unplayed cards. Once through the pack the deal passes to the next player. Should the pot be completely won, all players again replenish it with another dollars worth of chips each. Once the deal passes to the last player the play continues until the pot is completely emptied. It’s a game I’d recommend only with caring friends – without a care factor it could be easy to lose the shirt off your back. With caring friends it’s fast game, and a laugh a minute.

Yesterday, our last day we enjoyed a walk through Bold Park with Alice. Bold park is a very bushy park that feels like you’re miles from civilisation, yet it’s smack bang in the middle of Perth’s expensive Western Suburbs. A wonderfully maintained track, good hills to get our heart rates up, and the occasional glorious city view peeping through the trees – it’s a gorgeous place. Then Josh met us afterwards at Clancy’s Fish pub, overlooking City Beach – good food, tasty tap beers, and a view to die for,  a lovely last day in Perth for a while.

City views from Bold Park.

And today – it’s good-bye to Perth and for approximately five months. We’re now approximately three hours north of Perth at a free camp on the banks of Lake Indoon (near Eneabba). There’s flushing toilets, hot showers, and good shelter overlooking the lake for happy hour. And as it’s now just gone five, the shelter beckons….. It’s good to be back on the road. What a pleasure!

Pelicans landing on Lake Indoon.

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Eyes open, smile.

It’s difficult to get reasonable group photos, don’t you think. Firstly you have to overcome everyone’s reasons as to why they don’t want their photo taken, “I hate posed photos”, “I don’t feel like smiling today”, “I don’t like having my photo taken”, “I feel dreadful today”, “Do we have too”!, I’m sure you’ve all heard similar objections.

Today, a simple plea did it. Everyone agreed, albeit reluctantly.

Next, how to get everyone to have their eyes open at the same time. How often is an otherwise perfect group photo spoiled by one person who had their eyes closed (usually that’s me). Today I asked everyone to open their eyes on the count of three. It worked, sometimes to well. But with a bit of cropping I think I’ve managed to get some reasonable photos of us all – and all eyes are open.

Alice, Paul, Tim and Josh

Sometimes the click of the camera comes to soon after the call to ‘open eyes’. I promise Josh isn’t psycho!

Eyes wide open…

Alice and Paul

All of us.

Josh, Clint and Ethan

A day with Alice, Paul G, Tim, Josh and two of Josh’s friends. A shared alfresco lunch in the back garden, gorgeous mild sunshine – and a rare chance to snap some family photos.  What a pleasure!

Raksha at the Beer Farm

Easter – the crowds have arrived and Busselton and the surrounding areas have virtually doubled in population for at least a few days. The beaches are packed, as are the wineries and micro-breweries.

Raksha (grandson Josh’s band) have been down here for the week-end to record a single, and to play a gig at the Beer Farm. Alice, Paul, Tim and Josh are down here camping nearby, along with all the other members of Raksha, and some of their families and friends – quite a crowd.

We firstly caught up with the family at a local beach yesterday (minus Josh – who was busy at the recording studio).

Tim’s first time on a paddle board – he made it look so easy.

Paul had a go in one of the boys canoes, and also checked out another canoe being used for fishing. I think a similar fishing canoe has been added to his ‘wish list’ – perhaps when we return next spring from our upcoming caravan trip.

Alice and Paul enjoying life on the water

Amazingly clear water.

Today we all met up again at the Beer Farm for Raksha’s gig. Paul (Riley) was enthralled at how much the band have improved since he last heard them. He was in the UK in January when the band stayed here with me rehearsing for the Busselton Battle of the Bands, so didn’t have the pleasure of becoming familiar with some of their current sounds. They’re certainly growing in professionalism, and their repertoire is becoming quite diversified. I don’t think they stick strictly to any particular style of music. There’s touches of Indi Rock, Indi Folk, Reggae, Jazz, and apparently they also throw in some Psychedelic Rock (whatever that is), or so I’m told. I don’t have much of an ear for recognition of any particular music type. I only know what I like, and having become familiar with quite a lot of Raksha’s songs,  I’m quite liking what I hear.

Getting in the zone.

Clint on base, Josh on guitar and vocals, Amber on vocals.

It’s hard to get a clear photo with the all of the members of the band in it. The one below was about the best I could manage that included all of the six members together on stage. Apologies Ethan – your face is hidden behind all those lovely curls.

Ethan on Keyboard, Jarrod on drums and Connor on guitar.

They only play their own original tracks. I tend to think that’s a bit of a shame when playing to an audience completely new to their sounds. Something familiar played well will always get ears tuned in the right direction immediately, whereas unfamiliar sounds always takes considerably longer to imprint into peoples consciousness. My thoughts are that if the first song is familiar and then another familiar song is thrown in every three or four songs when playing to a new audience it’ll get the crowds attention earlier, and keep their interest long enough for the band to showcase their own sounds. When it comes down to it though, I guess it’s not about achieving fame and fortune,  it’s about a group of young people together having some fun. They’re certainly having a ball. It brings them a lot of pleasure to stay true to their own original material – so I guess why not.

There was quite a crowd there. Getting served for drinks required considerable patience. The meals queue was even worse. Paul queued for the best part of 20 minutes to place a meal order only to be told as he was nearing the front of the queue to come back in half an hour as they’d run of meal buzzers. We decided going without lunch would be easier than returning to queue again later. Fortunately, Alice and Paul G had ordered to much and took pity on us with a basket of chips.

The following photo of our friends Kay and Brian Love with their daughter and three lovely grandchildren took me back a few years. I can remember many, many family photos with Tim and Josh in them when they were a similar age to Mitch with the same finger pose…. Must be a boy thing!

Three generations of our friends, The Love Family, lending their support.

Tim – lost in the music

Connor’s family

Tim with Clint and Jarod after the gig

I didn’t manage to pin Alice, Paul G, Tim and Josh down altogether for a family photo – perhaps tomorrow when they come here for dinner. I know both Alice and Tim aren’t fond of posing in front of a camera so fingers crossed they’ll all be feeling up to humouring me…. Watch this space.

Easter – and family

Easter’s almost here. School holidays have started, which means son-in-law, Paul is now on holidays. Alice has also taken leave, and along with grandsons Tim and Josh they will be heading for Busselton/Dunsborough in the middle if this week to camp for a the better part of a week.

You may remember Josh won the Busselton Battle of the Bands earlier this year. As part of the prize, Raksha won a recording, and a paid gig at The Beer Farm, a local micro brewery. The gig is to be on Easter Saturday.

Alice, Paul and the boys are bringing their tent and their dogs down to a local caravan park for four or five nights. The rest of the band and their families are also camping there, so I imagine it’s going to be full on. Hopefully, they’ll be able to snaffle some time away to share a meal with us here, but I imagine it’s going to be rather hectic at the camp ground, so it may not be that easy. We’ll see how it goes, and go with the flow….

I am hoping to grab some time with Tim to pick his brains for some help with my blog. I’m having all sorts of problems with posts not staying in order, side bars disappearing, and categories becoming chaotic. It’s all in a bit of a mess, so I really, really need Tims help to get it back on track. So, watch this space for some family photos coming soon I hope, and hopefully, a much improved blog layout.

Raksha – 2017 winners of Busselton Battle of the Bands

I survived the week-end, and so did the band.

They put a lot of effort into rehearsing, even writing a new song for the finals on Sunday. It must have paid off because their performance was brilliant, and they took out first place.

Garage rehearsals.

Garage rehearsals.

Ethan on keyboard

Ethan on keyboard

Jarrod on drums.

Jarrod on drums.

Patrick and Josh on guitar

Patrick and Josh on guitar

Time out - Patrick giving the unicycle a go.

Time out – Patrick giving the unicycle a go.

And Josh showing everyone how it's done - he's multi talented that grandson of mine.

And Josh showing everyone how it’s done – he’s multi talented that grandson of mine.

I can’t usually say I enjoy the band’s performances. I don’t think that’s a reflection on them, but rather on me. Paul, who has a more versatile taste in music usually enjoys their sound. I’m still a bit stuck back with the mellow tones of Simon and Garfunkel. Psychedelic Pop rock is just a tad out of my spectrum. However, even I was blown away by their performance on Sunday night. I enjoyed it!

They were polished, and played to the audience. For Friday night’s heats they played four of their more ‘out there’ songs (my description would be screechy). However, they realised they had a better chance with this audience if they mellowed it down with some contrasting songs to show their versatility. It paid off. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy their performance, the judges did too.

Raksha in the finals.

Raksha in the finals.

They won $250, a $500 recording contract, and a gig at one of the local breweries. I’m not sure when the gig will be, or if it’ll be a paid gig, but they’ll enjoy it no matter what.

So, a great result.

The four boys who stayed with me the whole week-end were brilliant, and four was a pleasant and tolerable number in my little house. When the other two arrived, with a third (boyfriend of singer) in tow, the dynamics changed somewhat, and it tended to become a bit much. But we all survived it, and without any major dramas. I still haven’t caught up with all the laundering of bedding and towels yet though.

So, would I offer up accommodation again – yes, but with a difference. If there’s a next time, my original offer will be the only thing on offer. That is, bring their own air mattress, camp bed or swag, bedding and towel and they will be welcome to bunk down in the garage and use the little bathroom that links to it. Band practice, because they were very good, and very considerate with the volume, that’s a yes, but not three days of it. And definitely band members only. No boyfriends, (or girlfriends). If their lovers want to come with them – ‘rent a room’.

I would still supply some meals for them, but would also set up the barbecue and make sure our little drinks fridge in the garage had space for them to provide some meals for themselves as well.

Alice (Josh’s mum, and my daughter) intended to come down on Monday sometime so as to spend Tuesday, the day of her granddads funeral with me. However, with the band getting into the finals, Alice came a day earlier on the Sunday. So I had an extra person as well, but being another fully matured adult, Alice balanced out the dynamics somewhat.

After the boys went home on Monday afternoon, Alice and I shared some rare ‘girlie time’ together, having a look around the Busselton shops, and then happy hour at nearby Stilts restaurant.

The following day, we played some games of crib in honour of Glyn, then went to a local winery for lunch where we drank a toast to dad/granddad.

Alice looking stunning in a blue dress colour co-ordinated with the blue Hydrangea

Alice looking stunning in a blue dress colour co-ordinated with the blue Hydrangea

Beautiful Hydrangea at Aravina Winery Estate - beautiful meal too.

Beautiful Hydrangea at Aravina Winery Estate – beautiful meal too.

I’ve spent today getting the house back into shape. Paul is now on his way home, so tomorrow I’ll be driving up to Perth to meet him We’ll spend the night at Alice’s celebrating Josh’s 20th birthday, then home again on Friday.

So, having the band stay here and practice here, – a mixture of pleasure, and ‘how did this happen’. Certainly a pleasure to have time with Josh to get to know him and some of the people important to him in his life at the moment.

The band winning – what a pleasure!

Sharing some rare mother/daughter time with Alice – what a pleasure!

And Paul’s on his way home. It’s been a hard three weeks, for me, but much more so for Paul. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’ll be to see him again. Can’t wait.

Goodbye to dad.

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Sadly, Paul’s dad passed away only a few days into the New Year. It was good that Paul was there at the time, and therefore managed to spend his dad’s last few days with him. I’m pleased he didn’t have to die alone. No-one should have to die alone.

His funeral was today, and currently Paul, along with dad’s other close friends and family will be at the wake celebrating dad’s life. There will be tears I’m sure, but also a lot of laughter as humorous stories are shared  of dad’s sometimes infamous pranks and anecdotes. He was a very funny man. He was a really good man. And he was a truly contented man. I loved him very, very much.

I wish I was there as dad’s last hurrah takes place. Whilst his chapter is now over, his memory will live on in our book of life until our turn comes.

Dad, you were a truly good father, father-in-law, and grandfather to Paul, myself, Alice and Kelvin. You may be gone from this earth now, but your memories will continue to enhance our lives. We’ll continue to play crib in your honour, and we’ll continue to recall and re-tell your humorous stories. We loved you dearly dad. We’ll miss you. You were a ‘good man’. And I mean it more than words can express when I say it was a real pleasure to have known you. Rest peacefully dad.

A housefull of teenagers (and just beyond)

I currently have grandson number 2 staying with me, along with three other members of his six member band, Raksha. So, that’s four staying, and the other two are currently visiting for the day, along with the boyfriend of the lead singer.

The band breaking for lunch.

The band breaking for lunch.

How did this come about, I hear you ask? And I’m asking myself the same question.

It went like this:

When Josh came down over Christmas I said,

“The garage would make a pretty good place for the band to stay should you ever get a gig in Busselton, all you’d need is some air mattresses or camp beds”.

The idea of band rehearsals was briefly raised. I said,

“No, we live in an oldies area, it’s a place to stay, but not practice, at least not with any noise”.

However, I think what Josh heard was,

“Look at our garage, wouldn’t it make a cool place for band rehearsals, as long as you only practice at half volume.”

At the time of the discussion Josh was staying here along with Number 1 grandson, and Alice and Paul. The caravan was offered as a place for someone to sleep at that time, but at that time was declined. Now, not much more than two weeks later The Battle of the Bands is on in Busselton, and you guessed it – Raksha entered the completion.

Josh, doing battle.

Josh, doing battle.

Along with having worked out the garage was a perfect place for rehearsals, Josh had also worked out the logistics of the sleeping arrangements for the entire band for three nights. And so, I have four of them staying here, utilising the caravan and the two spare bedrooms. Today the other two band members are visiting, along with the boyfriend of the lead singer. And, there is talk of these other three also dossing down – still to be decided!

So, here’s how it’s gone so far.

What I wanted to say was this,

“Okay, guys some basic rules:
Beds get made,
Towels get hung out to dry,
You all help with dishes,
The toilet brush is to be used should you cause a need.”

However, thinking that might clearly sound like someone speaking in tongues, I decided to only go with two, the dishes and the towels.

Dinner dishes were done last night.
Late night dishes were left for the morning (an act of consideration apparently as they may have made too much noise) – that’s cool.
Breakfast dishes were good.
Lunch dishes with three additional dinners – not a chance…… I could see it clearly didn’t cross any ones mind.
And  two towels have been hung to dry. Goodness knows where the other two are.

I’ve closed the bedroom doors, best not to look! I’ve no idea where the other two towels are, but should they be screwed up wet on a bedroom floor I’m sure the lesson will be learned when they find out this little household of only two people doesn’t have any more spare towels.

So, apart from being shell shocked as my peace and tranquility has been shattered, how else is it going? When there’s only four of them, it really is good, no problems worthy of mention really, and in fact, good company. Manners and thoughtfulness, are in evidence most of the time, and they are respectful. However, when the numbers swelled to seven I was feeling a bit like the intruder. The thoughtfulness previously in evidence diminished considerably. I guess seven people channelling all their energy into their creative talents overshadows all other thought.

They have now gone out for a few hours, so I’m enjoying the quiet, no radio, no TV and definitely no band practice in the garage. Absolute bliss. Before they left, I gave them a gentle reminder about ‘the dishes’. A couple of slightly embarrassed faces when they realised that yes, they had jumped up from the lunch table and rushed back to band practice without a thought to their plates. I think they took it on board.

Oh – and the Battle of the Bands, they had the heats last night. I tried to take some photos during the night but most turned out to blurry. My new friends and neighbours, Kay and Brian came with me. It was freezing and we only stayed long enough to give our support to Raksha. It was great to have had some company, I really appreciated it.

Kay and Brian supporting me and the band - check out the pod Kay is cocooned in against the cold - cool eh!

Kay and Brian supporting me and the band – check out the pod Kay is cocooned in against the cold – cool eh!

We came home before the finalists had been decided. It was good news when the boys came home. They’re in tomorrow nights finals along with three other acts. They seem to think the others are pretty good, so although they’re hoping to win, they know they’ve got to work hard it, and even then perhaps they may need a bit  luck on their side as well. And then if they do win, they have to hope they don’t get disqualified. The competition is open only open to residents of the South West, so they’re illegal entrants. They’re looking on the bright side, should they win, and  their Perth residency status be discovered, they could get disqualified. They’ve decided should that happen, disqualification will only serve to get them noticed even more. Gotta luv ’em.

Watch this space for tomorrow nights results. Hopefully I’ll manage to get some clearer pictures of the band on stage, which I’m sure you’ll all be eager to see.