Saturday, November 20, 2010

Santa arrives by boat

It's catch-up time as I post an accumulation of columns from recent months (image courtesy microsoft:):

EVERY year, as the tailenders in the Melbourne Cup thunder past the post, Australian society starts its crawl toward the annual Christmas shutdown.
That's why it was not surprising in the Classifieds this week when Santa Claus signed a Boats & Marine for-sale notice offering a 4.6-metre Horizon aluminium dinghy with centre console, a 50hp Evinrude motor and "all the bells and whistles".
One of Santa's helpers has been taking the calls. "If you lose your sense of humour you may as well be dead," Doug Jackwitz, 78, said, adding that he had received visits by three "lookers" but the boat was still in the shed.
He estimated the motor would "be lucky to have done a hundred hours" and he wanted only about about half the price he paid five years ago, or $12,000 negotiable.

HIS ad not only indicated the boat condition as excellent with very little use but extended to that of Santa and said, "old age has caught up".
Doug said he needed his sense of humour right now. His wife, Jean, was battling a serious illness and he had been using a wheelchair for about a year since breaking his hip in a fall, so he was unable to take out the boat.
His son, Bill, had also left the vessel idle, so Doug decided it was time to sell.
Bill and his sister, Christine, were of primary school age when the family moved from the Lockyer Valley to a Cleveland property in 1966.
The family grew "strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and so forth" for several years until the State Government resumed the property for Cleveland High School, Doug said.
He then bought land at Victoria Point for flower production. Doug said he was still kicking himself for selling the property in the mid 1970s because it later became the site of Koala Park shopping centre.

DOUG said he and Jean hunted for a plot with the right sort of red dirt for flowers and thought they found it at Alstonville in northern NSW. "But the ground was hopeless, so I went into the water drilling business."
The couple returned to the Redlands about 14 years ago and have enjoyed living close to the younger generations of their family.
Doug is delighted both his son-in-law, Simon Walker, and Bill both work for the chicken producer, Golden Cockerel, which has the status of an institution of Redland primary production. Simon's father, the late Harold Walker, had been well-known as the operator of the Cleveland-Dunwich ferry, Doug said.
Santa Claus looks forward to especially enjoying Christmas Day with the Jackwitz family this year.

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

Stay alert - stay alive, drivers told

Image from

VEHICLES require essential maintenance, as any motorist knows, but driving instructor Richard Sparks did not get any letters from "the mechanics" when his own body needed a major service. Instead, Richard suffered the rapid onset of symptoms including numbness in his fingers and excruciating pain in an elbow. "I have a good GP; he ordered a CT scan and found discs in my neck were misaligned and were pinching a nerve," Richard said.

THE proprietor of Redlands Driving School has been recuperating at his Victoria Point home after surgery at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, where the surgeon took bone from a hip to rebuild two discs. Richard says the cause of the misalignment is a mystery but he played a lot of soccer and squash when he was younger. His neck, however, must have had considerable work during his time at the dual controls of the Holden Viva sedan he uses for the business that he set up in 2006 after two decades as a driving instructor in the Brisbane region.

THE need for observation is the golden rule that Richard impresses on his students. Richard is not the type of instructor whose passion for driving leads to an addiction to motor sport. He says he simply enjoys working with people and helping them get ready for the challenge of the practical driving test that will decide whether they can obtain a licence. He shares the much-reported belief that higher standards of testing hold the key to reducing the road toll.

"THERE will always be people who do the wrong thing but road safety does come down to attitudes," he says. "If it is is easy to get a licence the person may be less likely to value the process as much. The examiners do a good job but can only work with the guidelines they are given. I do believe that the test should be tougher." Richard says recent changes to the test have not been as comprehensive as he had hoped. He believes the emphasis on observation, for instance when changing lanes, is not strong enough. He says an observant driver can see a risk, take action and save lives.

RICHARD's students, the ages of whom have ranged from 17 to the early 80s, are unlikely to forget this message. He says he has instructed people with many disabilities – including quadriplegics and paraplegics – with modified vehicles, and the deaf, but not the blind. Now, back to Richard's own temporary disability: he expects to be back in action in a few weeks, again teaching Redlanders to stay alert, stay alive and, it is hoped, save other lives through observation.

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

13: lucky number for ducks

Image courtesy The Redland Times.

SHE's a country girl at heart after growing up on a Redland strawberry farm but Birkdale mother Diana Trenerry admits her surprise at the appearance of 13 ducklings in her poultry pen. Spike and Speckles – a pair of bantam ducks that Diana says the family bought at a Lismore market as "pets with an egg bonus" – delivered a baker's dozen of the cutest creatures outside the frames of a Disney movie.

THE new parents made sure the Trenerrys shared their delight over the hatching.
“Our drake usually makes noise in the morning before we feed them but on this morning both the ducks were really quacking away," Diana says. "We went out to see what the racket was about to find them proudly parading their new brood for us. We knew our ducks were broody and the mother duck was sitting on her nest but we had no idea her first batch would produce so many birds. After a few days the reality of having so many sunk in. As we have hens as well the pen was going to get very full. "We were so impressed with these tiny yellow birds that we decided others should also have the opportunity to enjoy them."

DIANA advertised a giveaway in the Classifieds and found homes for all the ducklings within days. "About half went to families whose children wanted them as pets and the others to people on acreage with dams; two were even taken to a new home west of Maryborough," she says. Ducks are "undemanding creatures, less susceptible than hens to some poultry diseases", Diana says. "Some duck breeds will outlay hens, and the duck eggs are bigger. A duck will continue laying for a longer period than a hen; ducks do eat more and tend to be messier than hens, but they are also more efficient scavengers and, if they have access to a pond as well as grazing, will find a lot of their own food. Ducks are less destructive than hens which will scratch up every vestige of plant growth if allowed. Ducks will investigate plants for insects and slugs, but will not usually cause damage in a herbaceous border or on a lawn. They do though absolutely love young lettuces, peas and brassicas."

THE pen is enclosed with wire to protect the birds from predators. "Foxes have been sighted and taken chooks from neighboring properties," she says. "I had a muscovy duck taken about 20 months ago by a fox. The two Silver Appleyard Bantam Ducks I have now were to replace her. I expect to have more ducklings from my two ducks in the future. This was just the first batch. I am unsure of how many times a year they will breed." Readers should watch the Classifieds for Diana's next duckling bulletin.

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

Mowers sing symphony of season

Image by Carl Wozniak

A DISCORDANT symphony has celebrated an unusual season as a chorus of small engines has echoed across the Redland suburbs. Householders and professional mowers, taking advantage of every break in the spring rain, pulled cords, pressed buttons and fired up their machines in a race against the clouds. We are lucky to live in a culture where it's 'not uncool' to talk about the weather; the unseasonal deluge this spring has had everybody talking about 'millimetres overnight' and wondering when the washing will dry.

WE are also lucky to have free access to a damful of information from the Bureau of Meteorology. If the bureau charged for clicks on its website, the consolidated revenue would go a long way to paying back the billions in the government's controversial economic stimulus packages – especially during a season like this. The weather records make absorbing reading. They can soak up a lot of time – and that is just to find the page you need, but patient browsers are rewarded with all the facts and figures they could possibly want.

THE bureau's observations on our city come from Redlands Horticultural Research Station, with records dating from 1953 and featuring in more tables than you'll find in the typical club dining room. The data for the first 18 days of October made a tasty snack, showing that Redland received 224mm for the period. This was almost 280 percent of mean rainfall for the entire month (81mm). Redland had its wettest October in 1973, with 371mm. Back then, the fields grew mainly fruit, veges and pasture but now the suburban lawns have taken over.

SOME lawn specialists who feature in the Gardening Services column have been too busy to talk during the breaks in the rain, but Brad Denham took a short breather between jobs at Capalaba and his home suburb of Redland Bay. Brad, a former real estate agency licensee, said he set up Redlands Mowing about two years ago because the type of work allowed him to be a "Mr Mum", while his wife, Mara, practised as an accountant. Mowing gave him time for household duties. "I was a bouncer for few years but I was doing lot of night work and I got sick of the [troubles with] young ones and the drunks, and I can't handle the doof doof," he said.For the benefit of elder readers: 'Doof doof' means the 'techno' dance music that is popular in night clubs. It's quite different to the harmony Brad enjoys from his Honda self-mulching mower.

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

Designer looks upward for living space

THE past two years have been busy for a young man who has devoted his life to building a better Redland, or at least, ensuring optimal use of space in our rapidly growing city. John-Paul Hartill grew up at Capalaba West, attended St Anthony's Primary School and Villa Nova College, then knuckled down to a career in residential housing design and drafting. The career choice came easy. John-Paul is the son of John and Loretta Hartill, who were the proprietors of Classic Constructions, not only building new homes but also specialising in making better use of existing homes through second storey additions.

JOHN-Paul was in-house designer for the family company for 12 years before his parents retired about two years ago. While mum and dad were still packing for their move to a relaxing lifestyle on Bribie Island, the son set up Urbane Residential Design, which he operates from his Wellington Point home. He has continued the second storey specialty, while also providing 3D design and drafting for other extension projects and new residential construction. John-Paul estimates he has completed 350 to 400 such design projects with both firms over the years, so he certainly would have a special 'feel' for the requirements.

"THE good things about adding a second storey are that you are not using any more of your site, you can live in the house during the construction work and you don't have costs like conveyancing and real estate commissions that apply when you move to a new or different home," he says. "On a typical three-to-four-bedroom home you can usually add three to four bedrooms upstairs." He says the cost of a second storey of that size would range from $2000 to $3000 a square metre, including all standard finishings except floor covering.

AS the flow of international students to South East Queensland institutions has increased, John-Paul has found a market with home owners setting up student accommodation. Such usage generally has involved the addition of three bedrooms and three-way bathroom, with separate shower, powder room with vanity unit and toilet. John-Paul says about half his work has been in bayside districts and he works closely with local builders.

URBANE Residential Design, which has featured on the Classifieds 'Find Us First page, will have its second anniversary in January, but the champagne corks have already popped for another important celebration – the first wedding anniversary for John-Paul and his wife, the former Helen Fletcher, who grew up at Alexandra Hills and is now a nurse at Brisbane Dental Hospital. John-Paul thanks his sister, Sarah, for introducing him to 'the love of his life'. Sarah and Helen studied nursing together and became good friends. John-Paul and Helen married at Guardian Angels Church, Manly, on November 14, 2009.

Thanks for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times. (Image from Microsoft)

Red light race gains pace

Image from Microsoft.

THE Redland City population boom reflects in the heavy traffic on our roads – formerly quick and easy trips have turned into stop-start crawls through queues at intersections. The traffic snarls seem to worsen, week by week, and impatient drivers are keen to make up for lost time – undoubtedly taking more risks. The dangers weigh heavily on the mind of retired factory executive Glynne Butler as he counts the cost of an accident, just a few kilometres from his Alexandra Hills home.

GLYNNE was driving the Ford Focus CL sedan he bought in 2005 to serve he and wife Maureen through their senior years. Maureen was the passenger. At Finucane Road and Cambridge Drive, the Butlers' car was involved in a collision. Glynne says his traffic stream had a green light. "I saw the other car coming and braked hard," he says. "We could have been killed but luckily we weren't injured; neither was the other driver. But the insurance assessor has said our car's a write-off and the insured value won't cover a replacement of the same standard. We have no car at the moment. I want to warn people about the hazards: since the accident we have seen cars going against red lights and others racing to get through the orange."

THE September 10 accident was the first for the Butlers since they migrated from England in the late 1990s. The move followed Glynne's retirement as a director and manager of a packaging company in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Eight weeks after they arrived in Queensland, the couple bought their Gerbera Street home, where Glynne says they could not be happier, living near Maureen's two daughters and son, along with "many grandchildren". "My wife is about to celebrate the birth of her first great-grandchild," Gynne says.

THE couple placed a notice in the Classifieds to thank everyone who helped them after the accident – police, fire and rescue and ambulance crews, witnesses who stopped to help and others who called the emergency services. Glynne has a message for all drivers: "The road rules are there to protect everybody and must be obeyed – please think about what you do and be responsible."

SINCE 1991, the State Government has installed cameras at intersections to catch red-light offenders. The Transport and Main Roads Department and the police jointly manage the program.Program officials say crashes caused by motorists running red lights are usually serious and result in high costs to the community. They base their placement of cameras mainly on crash data, installing them at intersections with a history of crashes.

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