Safety at home

Sometimes I feel the OH &S rules get a bit out of control. There seems to be warning signs everywhere, flashing lights and fluro mesh screens. This over supply of signage desensitises people and they aren’t aware of possible dangers.

Then it comes to trampolines and now we have to have safety fences around them. Sure no one wants to break a neck, but you need to be aware of possible dangers and take some responsibility yourself. If you do happen to have an accident, don’t try and blame or sue someone else.

So in Ballarat on the weekend, just around the corner from my in-laws, I saw this excellent example of parents making the kids concentrate and be aware of possible dangers whilst trampolining. This trampoline is in the front yard of a single fronted terrace house. The kids come straight out the front door and on to the trampoline. As you can see from the spires on the fence, the kids have to really stay focussed and in the centre of the trampoline.

This is just like the good ole days; toughening up your kids. I do have visions of a little kid speared on the top of the fence, just like someone collecting insects and pinning them to a display board.

We need more of this


A city slicker in the country

My wife Lib has had a hard year, she is tired, stressed and hasn’t had a good laugh for quite a while. So we are in Bright for five days of cycling, walking, running, eating and drinking. This should help Lib chill out, as it is our way of relaxing. Because as some of you know, I sometimes think relaxing, is the new lazy.

We have rented a little cabin on the river, it is all we need; walking distance to town, so we don’t need the car.

I have brought my little coffee pot with me, so I don’t have to buy coffees all the time. The trouble is, the trivets on the stove are too big and my little coffee pot keeps falling over. I tried using the rack from the grill, but it wasn’t made for direct heat and it ended up looking like one of those wire puzzles that you had to undo as kids. So we went to the shops and I bought a diffuser. It didn’t melt or warp, which was a good thing, but it diffused too much heat and it took twenty minutes to boil one teeny weeny, shot of coffee. Seeing that was too wasteful, we went back down the street to a different store: the camping store.

We walked past the camouflage hunting gear, the inflatable dinghies and the solar powered GPS, fish finders.

The woman being served at the counter before me, was telling the shop owner about the timber worker that was fatally bitten on the arm by a deadly snake near Orbost. She said it was tragic, but what can you do? The owner agreed as he took another bite out of his beef jerky.

I sidled up to the counter and said;

“Hi, my little coffee pot is too little for the stove and keeps falling over. Do you have a little rack that would help it balance? ”

I thought it was a fair query.

I heard Lib burst into laughter, pointing and yelling “what a wanker” as she fell backwards into the inflatable dinghies. The owner coughed up one bit of beef jerky and a smaller piece blew out of his nose.

He was obviously a caring, sensitive gentleman at heart, as he did show concern as Lib was in fits of laughter, all tangled up in the inflatables dinghies. Even more so, as the increase in static electricity had set off the fish finders. We pulled Lib out, turned off the fish finders and waited until she stopped laughing. I tried to explain about my little coffee pot and the big trivets again, but it was no good. Lib dragged me from the shop laughing her head off.

She said it sounded so funny; the little city slicker with his own little coffee pot asking for help in a hunting and fishing, Rambo style shop.

I’m glad I’ve made her laugh.

So to continue with my manly theme, we went into a thrift shop and I bought this little chip frying basket for $4.00. As you can see it works a treat. Lib keeps thanking me for making her laugh, which is fabulous. We are getting special treatment in town now too, with people pointing at us.

I was a little concerned about my manhood, but Lib says ‘real men are doers Al’; they can build things like you do.

Lib always says nice things.

My first triathlon

My first triathlon by Alan Owen-Jones. Age 55Studley wetsuit

I am standing in the registration tent and it is 6.30am; ninety minutes before race start and apprehension is riding moderately high. The nervous, sweet-smelling sweat has starting trickling from my armpits, the sort of sweat that cattle might experience in the truck, on the way to the abattoir. I take a deep breath and take control of my breathing and centre myself; I am a man in control. All the other competitors are milling around and staring awkwardly at me, maybe they are admiring a proud man, who is standing tall and determined, centre stage in the tent. As my race kit and number are handed to me, I do wonder why I am the only one wearing my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles, at this point in time. I proudly exit, as the laughter back in the tent increases. Yet the only thing that I hear, is the sound of the tyre levers, spare tubes and bike pump that are rattling in my cycling top, underneath my wetsuit.

It is the start of the swim and it is my first, open-water experience. My club member friends tell me that the one thing that could unnerve me, is the lack of the black line on the bottom of the pool, to guide me. I have come prepared and drawn a vertical line with a black, waterproof, permanent marking texta, on each goggle lens.  Halfway through the swim and I start to cramp in the leg, which hampers my kicking. I soon realise though, that it is my bike pump, slipping out of my wetsuit. It makes me wonder how the pro’s manage.

I finish the swim and remove my goggles and swim cap. I pull out my towel from the front of my wetsuit and give myself a damp wipe with it. I put on my helmet and bike shoes, then de rack my bike, almost forgetting to unlock it. I put the heavy chain around my seat post, adjust my rear view mirror, then I am away. Only ten kilometres into the ride and my handlebar radio is playing up. I pull over, put the kick stand down and remove my helmet and shoes so I can easily take off my wetsuit. I rummage around in the Esky on my pack rack and find some spare batteries under the ice, next to the watermelon. I hit the road again and ride the last twenty kilometres, cruising into the transition area, as I am finishing my last rainbow Paddlepop ice-cream.

I lock up the bike and put the wetsuit on its coat hanger to dry. I slip my running shoes on and it is straight into the run leg, after a brief warm up. For the untrained beginner, it is really hard running, straight off the bike; I had so much trouble focussing my video camera, so I gave up and put it in my day pack, with my thermos flask. After eight gruelling kilometres, I round the last corner and enter the finishing straight. I increase my stride, take off my bike helmet and experience a feeling of warmth, as I cross the line.

I had broken my thermos.


I was watching a small swarm of blowflies savagely working over a dead possum. Each fly seemed to be working hard on its own patch, with its own task and not getting in any other fly’s way.  It reminded me very much of a modern jazz band, with each musician playing a different instrument, with a different task, in a different location on the stage.

The only difference was the hum from the blowflies was easier to listen to.

Roy and the hi tech world

Roy loved the  world of hi tech. He was driving in his hybrid car when his mobile phone rang and it automatically switched to voice mail. He was unable to answer it, as he was preoccupied with searching for a public toilet. He was using the National public toilet search app on his dashboard computer and the screen showed the exact location of the nearest public convenience. Roy activated the AUTO PILOT option by voice recognition and the car started to drive itself; automatically. The car navigated and stopped automatically outside the modern public toilet. The seatbelt released and the driver’s door opened; automatically. Roy then got out of the car and walked towards the toilet with a semi-restricted gait and a slight touch of urgency. His stride increased when he saw the green light, next to the closed door, indicating that the cubicle was vacant. As he got closer, the infra-red sensor detected his presence and the door opened; automatically. When he stepped towards the toilet, the door closed and the music started playing; automatically. The turntable on the floor spun Roy around one hundred and eighty degrees. The toilet lid then opened ninety-eight degrees and the toilet seat automatically heated itself quickly to thirty-seven degrees; body temperature. Roy hastily grabbed at his belt and with not much time to spare, undid the top button on his now, very tight trousers. He then pulled down on the soon to be noticed faulty zipper, which came off cleanly in his fingers. The zipper was jammed and his trousers were on for good. The toilet seat was warm and beckoning, the Eagles were singing “Take it easy” in the background and all Roy could do, was fill his trousers; automatically.