Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dogs may howl, cats may meow as pals retire

THANK heavens dogs and cats don’t read. The Redlands would have suffered a chorus of howling and meowing if the canine and feline communities had caught up with the recent public notice announcing the closure of Woofers Kennels and Cattery, Victoria Point.
About 4000 dogs and hundreds of cats of all shapes and sizes have been guests at the Worthing Road kennels that Ray and Cherry Norris opened in 1994.

AFTER 15 years in a "24/7" business, the couple has decided to claim their lives back from those two branches of the animal kingdom.
"It’s like running a farm but someone must be on the property all the time," Cherry says.
"We can’t go out anywhere together. We can’t attend parties or barbecues.
"It’s very tiring and after so many years I’m just about burnt out.
"We want to give some time to the family. We have decided at this moment to close our doors and retire but we will retain the (business) licence and maybe down the track we’ll assess the future."

CHERRY and Ray migrated to Australia in 1981 from the north-west England industrial city of Barrow-in-Furness.
They were escaping a gloomy time in England. "The cold war was bubbling along and there was the possibility the US and Russia would shoot themselves to bits over England; there was economic doom and gloom, with strikes and sackings all the time," Cherry says.
"We came out on holiday to stay with Ray’s brother, who lived at Capalaba. We liked it here and organised our migration."
She says Ray, then a bricklayer, is still very proud of becoming a licensed builder in Queensland while the couple lived at Cleveland.
The decision to open the kennels followed their purchase of the Victoria Point acreage property when Ray began suffering from "bricklayer’s back".
The home-based business was wonderful at first and although the demands have become too much she still loves "all types of animals".

CHERRY’s vast experience with dogs has given her an insight into pet ownership.
She says anyone wanting a dog should consider small- to medium-sized shorthaired breeds with upright ears.
"For practicality in this day and age, these types of dogs generally will have fewer health problems and are easier to look after," she says.
"The pointy ears are less susceptible to infection and the short hair means they don’t get tangled up in grass seeds, for instance.
‘Ticks are easier to find."
The Norrises, who will close the business on April 30, have issued "a very big thank you to past and present clients for their valued support".

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times, a Fairfax Media newspaper.


White-dressed lady watches chairs float out door

Image: Historical picture of the old courthouse that is now a restaurant and function centre. See

MANY thousands of important bottoms have graced the 120 dining chairs that became available in the Classifieds thanks to a "freshening up" at one of Redland City’s premier restaurants.
With new chairs in place, the update at The Old Courthouse Restaurant was almost complete, according to owners Mary and Ross Gibb.
The old chairs, which date from the 1970s, were part of the package when the couple bought the restaurant in March, 1998, Mary says.
The timber chairs have done their job well but they needed continual maintenance after their decades of hard work.
During the reign of the Gidds in the colonial courthouse, the restaurant trade has built up to hundreds of diners, Mary says.

THIS year is appropriate for an update – it is the 20th anniversary of Cleveland cuisine’s introduction to the couple.
In 1988, Mary moved from Melbourne and Ross came from Scotland. From 1989 to ’98, they operated Beaches Restaurant.
Mary believes almost a decade’s experience at Beaches gave her and Ross the management skills to make the Courthouse so successful.
"Beaches was a BYO and that means you must do everything right because you cannot have the benefit of liquor sales," she says.
"We had the basics right."

IN cuisine, that means a traditional style with a European influence and Australian fresh produce, Mary says.
The food style immedately fitted well with the restaurant setting in a courthouse that a district landowner and publican, Francis Bigges, built in 1853.
Mary recalls a rush on function bookings that set the stage for subsequent years. "In my first six months here I had 100 bookings for wedding receptions," she says.
"The venue has always been beautiful – it’s the perfect location for special occasions."

ABOUT that time, Mary had a special visitor who did not need a chair.
"We had been told the courthouse had a resident ghost, Elizabeth, Francis Bigges’ wife," Mary says.
"One day I was on the phone to a friend and she floated past me. She had short dark hair and a long white dress.
"She floated across and through the wall after she seemed to give a nod of approval. It was like she showed me her acceptance of what we were doing."
Mary says she has not seen the ghost again but "I feel her and know she’s there – there’s no mischief or anything like that".

ELIZABETH may have given a silent sigh as the chairs went out the door at $20 each to about 20 buyers.
Mary wonders what the white-dressed lady would think of the restaurant’s changes, which presented some challenges, such as incorporating new equipment without threatening the old-world feel of an historic building.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

Monday, March 16, 2009

All aboard the bus to Fluville!

AS the sun sets on a glorious summer beside beautiful Moreton Bay, the bugs come out to play.
Not mosquitoes and midges -- other bugs fly around this time of year.
We can’t see some tiny organisms that proliferate every autumn but we can hear and feel their presence.
Hear: When coughing and sneezing interrupt pleasant conversations bubbling away on the shopper and commuter buses.
Feel: When someone just behind you lets go with a not-so-waterwise shower from an uncovered eruption of phlegm.

FLU fear can give anyone a bad start to the day. Must you hold your breath until other lungs vacuum up the virus-charged spray?
"The virus that causes influenza is mainly spread from person-to-person by virus-containing droplets produced during coughing or sneezing," Queensland Health says.
"The droplets can be spread up to a metre through the air and enter the body through the nose and mouth.
"A person can also catch influenza if they shake hands with an infected person or touch a contaminated surface such as a door knob or telephone, and then touch their nose or mouth."
The "metre" seems an understatement, according to a television documentary a few years back – a special camera caught a "free and easy sneeze" blasting its microscopic cargo high and wide. On that evidence, the fallout could go at least half a bus length.

ANOTHER observation from the autumn buses: Someone coughs or sneezes into their hand then grabs the same rail you would use to get to the door without falling over. Your trip ends like surfing on Straddie and, when you just get to the door, the bus lurches into your stop. You instinctively grab the last rail near the door and think of all the mucous-drenched hands that have grabbed it that day.
Then, even though you’re half starved, you can’t buy a pie until you find somewhere to wash your hand(s).
Hell, life’s tough in the flu season. I think we should all just stay home. But hang on, someone cares.
Even in the dying days of summer Victoria Point Surgery advertised its flu vaccine clinic. Maybe I can get to work, after all.

FOR the record, QH advises: "Don’t spread it around! If you get symptoms of influenza: stay at home until you are better; cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose of it;
wash your hands with soap and water after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, and before touching other people or objects that others might touch."
That means the flu inflicted, not the flu free, should do the surfing down the bus aisle.

Thanks for joining me in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Redland City, Queensland – on the shores of beautiful Moreton Bay.