COVID-19 DIARY – IT’S GOT TO BE KFC

Coronavirus fines issued after Dandenong KFC house party order, as ...

 

July 10

In Victoria there were 288 confirmed cases recorded overnight and 60 fines handed out for breaches since the lockdown came into effect.

Two paramedics getting a feed at a KFC at 1:30am in the morning noted an order taken by two people for 20. They advised police who went to a house in Dandenong where the licence plate of their car was registered.

Police found two people sleeping in the house and 16 hiding out the back.

Those 16 were fined over $1,600 each.

As Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton put it, “That is $26,000 that birthday party is costing them. That is a heck of a birthday party to recall. They will remember that one for a long time.

Tales of this parties were even recounted in the New York Times.

 

 

Meanwhile in Queensland after weeks of mounting pressure the borders with other states were “opened.”

As early as June 25 when only eight days of no new cases in Queensland had occurred there was mounting pressure to open. Since restrictions were eased in early June there had been only 8 new cases and there were all imported from interstate or overseas travellers. There were two active cases on the Gold Coast with one in hospital.

On the 30th of June Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland would go ahead with re-opening on the 10th of July barring with Victoria. Coming through the border you would have had to completed an online declaration form. Anybody coming from Victoria would have to quarantine at their own expense for 14 days in a hotel assigned to them by the government. Anyone found making a false declaration on Victoria would be liable for a $4,000 fine.

Personnel would remain manning the borders, if anything there was talk there would be more personnel deployed to facilitate.

There were a slew of lowering of restrictions announced on the 30th of June while I was on holidays.

Up to 100 people could attend gatherings, weddings and funerals. Night clubs and casinos and food courts were to re-open. Contact sport both indoor and outdoor. Events with 10,000 people if approved as COVID Safe Event Plan. Up to 25,000 spectators at sporting events. 50 per cent capacity at concert venues, theatres or one person per four square metres. Office workers could return to work.

 

Interstate visitors pour into Queensland as borders reopen after ...

 

A week later nobody was really celebrating the lowering of these restrictions, there was a feeling in the air that what was happening in Victoria, would happen in Sydney and then here. The borders were re-opening but it felt like it would only be a matter of time until they would have to close again. That if business might get a boost from this, that it would help them get a little breathing room until they had to shut down again.

It felt like we were getting a little respite before things went bad again.

On the 10th of July, the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 12,108,032 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 228,550. There had been 551,107 deaths with a daily increase of 5,579.

In Australia there had been 9,059 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 173. There had been 106 deaths.

In Canada there had been 106,434 cases with a daily increase of 267. There had been 8,737 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of 26.

In Peru there had been 312,911 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,633. There had been 11,133 deaths with a daily increase of 181.

In Iran there had been 250,458 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,079. There had been 12,305 deaths with a daily increase of 221.

In India there had been 793,802 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,506. There had been 21,604 deaths with a daily increase of 475.

In Spain there had been 253,745 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 705. There had been 28,413 deaths with a daily increase of three.

In France there had been 160,783 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 504. There had been 29,886 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

In Mexico there had been 275,003 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,995. There had been 32,796 deaths with a daily increase of 782.

Mexico City records thousands more deaths than usual, amid doubt ...

In Italy there had been 242,363 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 214. There had been 34,926 deaths with a daily increase of 12.

In the United Kingdom there had been 289,674 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 693. There had been 44,602 deaths with a daily increase of 85.

In Brazil there had been 1,713,160 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 44,571. There had been 67,964 deaths with a daily increase of 1,223.

In the United States of America they passed a milestone of 3 million cases on the 10th fo July. There had been 3,038,325 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 64,630. There had been 131,884 deaths with a daily increase of 991.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – A LITTLE RESPITE

Coronavirus restrictions ease in Queensland's aged care homes ...

 

July 09

Thursday.

Inspired by Sir Thomas Moore I decided I would donate some money to the NHS Fund. However they wanted me to set up a Paypal account and after a half hearted attempt I decided there had to be something else I could do. Their website described how they supported various charities and I went looking for them specifically and found the London Ambulance Service Charitable Funds.

London Ambulance Service publishes review of response to terror ...

Their website informed me “The Fund supports the staff of the London Ambulance Service and its patients across London. The Fund provides amenities and benefits to staff as a way of saying thank you for their hard work and dedication, as well as supporting operational activities such as the Volunteer Responder Group.

Perfect I thought and this was a way I could do something to help closer to where my sister and her family lived and also pay respect to Beetley Pete who had served 22 years in the London Ambulance Service.

https://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/getting-involved/supporting-our-charities/

Ambulance stories | beetleypete

Another episode of the ABC Program Fireside Chat covered the rise of cases in America.

One comforting thought given the inundation of the health care system in places like New York earlier this year.

Daily increase in case numbers were skyrocketing but hospitalisations and deaths were not following at the same rate as would be expected.

There were plenty of hospitalisations and plenty of deaths and those people should be in our thoughts.

However was the lower median age of those infected, the warmer summer months, mask wearing and social distancing  leading to less severe cases?

If the trend held true that would be a welcome respite from that worst predictions.

5 Central Florida hospitals hit ICU capacity, but region still has ...

A respite was on my mind.

I talked to a work colleague about how I had seen my folks and how unlikely that was to be repeated any time soon.

He had a similar story to tell of his father being allowed a visit from a nursing home recently and seeing his grand children for the first time in a while.

On the 17th of June, 2020 restrictions in nursing homes in Queensland had been restricted.

I want you to get an idea of what they had meant to the people who lived there and their loved ones.

They could have two visitors at a time and no limits on how many visits they got in a given day.

Children could visit them.

Intergenerational playgroups reduce social isolation for parents ...

As could hairdressers, legal advisors and therapists.

They could leave the home for exercise, family gatherings of up to 20 people with social distancing, funerals or seeing someone they know at another aged care facility.

A group could go on excursions.

These rules did not just apply to the elderly, it applied to anybody in care facilities. Young people, people with disabilities.

People like my older sister.

There were 13 cases reported in New South Wales that day. It was reported that 11 of those 13 were returned travellers in hotel quarantine. 

Yet I still thought…here we fuckin go. It’s starting and it was.

It’s weird as the days went on and we waited anxiously. No matter the news, good or bad.

Everybody I talked to seemed to agree, it’s coming.

Nobody has dodged a second wave from this thing yet and going off the Spanish Flu pandemic, there wasn’t going to be just two waves. There were going to be several.

This thing was with us and we had to be prepared for it to be with us for a long time.

So in that sense, seeing my parents, others seeing their loved ones. This was a respite for us. We were lucky to have it, some people were still waiting for such a respite, some people weren’t going to get one.

I thought about them, I thought about all the businesses and employees who would struggle to get through another slow down…I thought about a lot of people.

This respite was a privilege to cherish and something to take to heart and use as a bulwark to think of brighter days to come and the need to persevere.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WAVES FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr 1

 

July 06

I was also on assignment with Scenestr magazine for the first time since the pandemic shut everything down in March.

Cinemas had just re-opened in Queensland and I attended a preview screening of Waves with a bunch of critics at New Farm cinemas. There were no plus ones so Karen wasn’t with me.

Waves is an excellent film which would have made my Top 10 last year if it had been released in Australia. You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/waves-film-review-20200708

 

 

There was definitely some joy to be taken that here was another activity back but this one was tempered with some caution.

With developments in Victoria how long would it last?

And until we were really rid of COVID in our lives it was obvious blockbusters and major cinema attendance would not be coming back.

As a film buff people have often asked my feelings on this.

Since this pandemic happened I’ve never really missed movies, I’ve watched some classics and some new stuff on streaming services.

Yes I’ve worried about those who work in the arts.

 

 

But more so I’ve worried about everybody who has lost their jobs in recent months.

I love going to the cinema but I haven’t felt I lost her in these recent weeks.

We’ve lost lives. Hundreds and thousands of them.

We’ve lost jobs.

Millions of them.

We’ve lost good health and good prospects for the future for millions more.

I enjoyed seeing a wonderful movie and being a film critic again on the job. Something I am eternally grateful for.

 

 

But on the 6th of July I found my cinema had patiently waited for my return and was happy to see me again. I know she will wait for me again and for all of us if need be.

The cinema knows we have lost more than her and so she waits patiently as we turn our thoughts to others who have lost a great deal more.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART IV

Gladys Berejiklian says closure of NSW-Victorian border because of ...

 

July 06

Monday I started my secondment and was back in the office.

The biggest news was the announcement that New South Wales and Victoria were going to close their borders from 11:59pm Tuesday night.

There were 127 cases reported in Victoria that day, the largest daily increase since the pandemic began and following 74 cases from Sunday. There were also two deaths in Victoria.

The Victorian Chief Health Office Brett Sutton summed it up well when he said, “It’s essentially a doubling of the numbers since yesterday.”

There were 645 active cases in the state.

The border closure between New South Wales and Victoria was the first time since 1919 during the Spanish Flu pandemic. High initial case numbers in both states during this pandemic had not prompted them to close the border again until now.

It was to be a serious undertaking with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller advising there are at least 55 border crossings between the two states. There were four main arterial roads, 33 bridge crossings, two waterway crossings and many other smaller roads. Aerial drones were also to be employed. Penalties would unlawful border crossings would be $11,000 fines and 6 months jail time.

 

Coronavirus: Queues, chaos as NSW-Victoria border is locked

 

The largest border town is Albury/Wodonga which is also a major Australian army town. The Army Logistics Training Centre is Headquartered in various barracks there mostly at Bandiana, a suburb of Wodonga.

Mayor of Wodonga Anna Speedie advised “We share a health system. We share so many different things.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said there would be the ability for those who lived there to travel to and from both for the purposes of work or essential health services.

Two days later on the first day of the borders being closed a gentlemen slinging a VB let a Channel 9 correspondent know he was not happy about the border closure.

“You try to lock me out of bloody Wodonga and Albury, how the hell am I supposed to get to Centrelink?” he asked. 

His demeanour a good source for our amusement but a legitimate concern. The centrelink office was located in Wodonga and he did live in Albury.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian in her initial press interview looked visibly upset to convey the decision.

Premier Andrews and her are of different political parties but have shouldered the highest case numbers, worked together to push for schools to shut down earlier. endured scandals and criticisms in regards to hotel quarantines for him and the Ruby Princess disembarkation for her.

The storyteller in me would like to read more into this but I humbly submit that she is working long and hard through this crisis and some days like it was for Prime Minister Scott Morrison a few weeks back, it shows a little.

Yet she remained resolute.

“We wouldn’t have taken this step unless we absolutely had to,” she said.

“Please know this is not a decision we take lightly, but during the pandemic I have always said New South Wales will have a no-regrets policy.”

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE SECOND QUARTER

Coronavirus India news summary: Sunday 5 July 2020 - AS.com

 

July 5

It was Sunday and I was due to go back to work having had a very nice time on holidays.

In the meantime the pandemic had been with us in Australia affecting our lives since March. We were now in the second quarter, a second 3 month period of living with the virus.

Numbers in Victoria were going up, as were American southern and fly over states. As part of the West saw a bit of a respite in numbers the disease was accelerating the havoc it wreaked across the rest of the globe.

In Victoria there had been 75 cases reported the day before. There had been 2,536 cases and 20 deaths in the state. There were 543 active cases and close to a million tests had been carried out.

The number of locked down post codes had expanded from ten to twelve.

In those postcodes there are only four reasons to go out, shopping for food, medical care or caregiving, exercise and study or work if study or work cannot be done from home.

Businesses in these areas were back to having restrictions, for example cafes only doing take-away.

The World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 11,128,629 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 204,438. There had been 528,238 deaths with a daily increase of 5,191.

In Australia there had been 8,362 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 107. The number of deaths was 104.

In Canada there had been 105,091 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 319. There had been 8,663 deaths with a daily increase of 21. As July unfolded daily increases in case numbers and deaths would be consistently lower than figures from April and May. They were still too high but it was something to give hope potentially.

In the United Kingdom there had been 286,724 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 579. The number of deaths were 44,198 with a daily increase of 67.

In India there had been 673,165 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,850. There had been 19,268 deaths with a daily increase of 613.

In the United States of America there had been 2,776,366 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 51,933. The number of deaths 129,226 with a daily increase of 745.

I had a really nice week but that was not the experience of millions around the world. I just wanted to take a moment to remember that.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART IV

20200703_094616
The Polish Place. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

July 3

Friday morning we packed up our gear and headed off into the morning for our last brunch and walk of our holiday.

We had made a 10am booking at The Polish place which boasts spectacular views. My in-laws had stayed in the accommodation there previously and were very happy with their stay. It is well known on the Mountain.

We got an early booking because like every other establishment we had eaten at that week they could only make bookings for their indoor area at 50%. Random show-upperers could probably get a spot but booking capacity was limited by COVID. I didn’t run to risk it and just as well. Despite not being a morning person we rocked up at 9:30 with cars parked outside and a few couples waiting in the courtyard outback as it was watered down with a karchered down.

A popular joint.

We were given an option of outdoors and shown to the table we picked. Karen and I ordered Polish coffees (a bit too strong for us) and potato pancakes.

Suddenly two lorikeets popped up on the railing next to our table, they didn’t flinch when I shooed them with my arm. They just stood there for a while before toddling off.

When the young waitress came back, I asked if the birds were going to be a problem. She assured me they absolutely could be known for jumping up on tables while you’re your meal. She did helpfully point out however they seem to be go for the sweet stuff so the delicious cream in a jug that came with our coffees must have gotten their attention.

I’ll put you out of your suspense. We never saw the lorikeets again.

The next bird we saw was The Polish Place’s signature dish a roasted duck for two. Stuffed with Granny Smith apples and marjoram and served with red cabbage, Polish gnocchi, fried apple and cherry sauce.

It was bursting with flavour, I wasn’t used to a savoury dish with lots of sharp tart and fresh flavours mixed in the meat. I quite liked it and again, as tempting as the chicken in creamy dill sauce looked, we were enjoying something that was possibly fairly unique to this place.

As soon as we were done with the duck I looked to a nearby tree where three magpies flew into view and perched themselves. As soon as we stood up they flew down and the waitress did have to push them out of the way as she cleared our plates. Karen was surrounded by the three before she left the table. This amused her as I walked over to her and asked her to come with me.

We hadn’t really bothered been bothered by the birds, the staff was lovely, the views spectacular and the food amazing! Still I wondered if next time I would dine indoors.

 

 

Then we walked up the road to the beginning of Witches Falls, a 3.5km circuit I believe. There was a sign at the beginning that said not to work it during rainfall and as we went along I could see why. The path was narrow, elevated and would be very tricky if it became muddy due to rain.

Thankfully it was a beautiful day and as we descended there was literally a metre where the path was covered in vines and as you walked through it you moved from bush to rainforest. Amazing.

There was a fork in the circuit where you could go on and find the lookout, go back the way you came or continue and finish up the circuit. We went on to the lookout, when we came back we noticed a lot of people pausing and so I offered directions.

I had dressed for the restaurant so with my jumper off I was wearing a dress shirt with suspenders and black trousers.

This amused a lot of people, as a group of older women came by and I offered directions they noted I was very dressed up and one of them even offered “I hope she says yes.”

This cracked Karen up.

We began our ascent and left a scrunchy we found on the path on a post.

 

 

We got back to the car and just started driving back to Brisbane.

I left gifts for my Mum and Dad in their backyard and then called them. To my surprise they offered to talk to me through the window.

Instead when I went to the backyard they set up chairs for us to sit apart and chat.

It was the first time I had seen my mother in person since the 8th of March and my Dad the 15th of March. It was the 3rd of July.

A reminder sometimes you have got to push your luck.

My parents had not entertained visitors as restrictions lowered and active case numbers became single digits in Queensland. The wisdom of this strong stance was only going to bear out as the right call as the situation continued to deteriorate in Australia.

Yet here was a little respite for me, for them, for the country.

The perfect final touch to my very unlikely holiday in years during a pandemic.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART III

20200702_185600
Stonehaven Guest House. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

July 2

If I had ever entertained the idea of going up to Mount Tamborine and relaxing with my spa and backyard my wishes quickly evaporated. Sprung loose from our regular dwellings Karen was ready to seize the day. So Thursday we drove a short drive to Gallery Walk.

Gallery Walk is what a lot of us think about when we think about Mt Tamborine. It is where all the niche shops are lined up on one long street like so many small towns that cater for couples of all ages getting away to a romantic B&B, staying nearby as somebody they know gets married our just hoping to live it up at a winery.

You know the type of strip I’m talking about, there was a German cuckoo clock shop with stein mugs, there was a crystal shop, a leather shop, a retro clothes shop and a few liquer shops.

 

 

Karen and I walked up and down it twice figuring out what gifts we were buying and for whom. Karen’s main goal was to pick up a bottle from the Tamborine Mountain Distillery. Years ago this had been located elsewhere and the owner was a bushy white bearded man who’s wife had come from the former USSR.

I have memories of going up there to get a bottle for my sister and send it to her in the UK. It felt like I had wandered into a garage shed and picked up a Soviet knickknack. The new location and owners lacked this sense of discovery or character. Now it was just another business sadly but Karen liked her liquer and I liked that she was happy.

She also wanted to check out the Red Baron airplane at the Bavarian Cafe which I had gone to by myself years earlier while attempting to go hiking. This is where we saw the beginning of the trail for the Witches Fall circuit. We did see some of the beautiful sunset as well as a crowd gathering but we were hungry.

 

 

That night we had a booking at Belvederes to sit and eat inside where we were served by wonderful staff and ate some great wood-fired oven made pizzas. Highly recommend.

The shop is hard to miss, just look for the place painted in the colours of the Italian flag. I clocked four other couples dispersed across it, every one of them looked like city people on holidays at a B&B. Must be interesting to live in a town where people are constantly coming to your place to get away from their own.

 

 

That night I went down to the backyard again in the evening where a voice called out to me in the dark. He told me not to be alarmed, his name was Quacker and I had met him earlier that week.

A duck came out from the shadows into the light. I said “Hello,” and he replied “How’s it goin?”. After exchanging pleasantries he informed me that he had a couple of mates who were trying to sell their house.

 

20200630_160242
Quacker when I met him earlier in the week. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

I sympathised given the market, I myself was still trying to save up for a deposit. He told me the house wasn’t too expensive because his mates were fairies.

He took me up the creek where I met his friends who had a beautiful home with a stepping stone path. I asked how much and their price was very reasonable.

The fairies set one condition, they were hoping to stay in Brisbane from time to time and would the new owners let them stay overnight during these times. They would be out by morning they promised and would leave the place spick and span.

I said I thought I knew some owners who would be happy to accommodate that. So I bought the house and thanked Quacker and the fairies and handed the house to my niece and nephew the following weekend and asked them to honour the deal which they seemed more than happy to agree to.

It had been a productive day so I went inside to have my spa and go to bed.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART II

20200701_142709
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

July 1

Karen and I awoke Wednesday to enjoy our holiday at Mt Tamborine. We walked down from where we were staying to enjoy a hearty breakfast at a local cafe where a Kookaburra sat outside from a nearby creek.

 

 

The Curtis Falls walk was just outside the cafe.

This set the pattern for the next couple of days, brunch followed by walking so our pants wouldn’t be too tight when we stat down for an early dinner followed by an early dinner and a spa bath.

In fact you can skip the next couple of posts after that paragraph. That is pretty much what happens.

We went up to Curtis Falls which had quite a few people on the track, it was school holidays. We tried to maintain social distancing and it seems most people were on board with that but it is important to note that at the time the number of active cases in Queensland were single digits. There were still some restrictions in my place but we were feeling a little safer.

It was a quick 1.5km circuit walk although we were to find that we are not as fast as we used to be when covering these small distances.

 

 

Next up inspired by Curtis Falls I was keen to check out one of the more epic waterfalls I knew this area had to offer. We ended up at Purling Brook Falls circuit at Springbrook National Park.

This was 4km which involves quite an descent and ascent but it was pretty easy going. For the sights it is quite worthwhile and unlike say Mapleton Falls in the Sunshine Coast this walk allows you to climb down to the valley floor and take the waterfall in from another angle.

As we descended a group of young people came up behind me. Out the front was some gym bunny with a blonde ponytail and tight bike pants that she had probably never worn while actually riding a bike.

There was no “Excuse me,” or a polite inquiry if I could move aside. She just came barreling down on top of me hoping the sound of her voice as she chatted on with her companions about some people she knew right now right behind my head would be hint enough that I should just jump out of her way and let her inherit the world as clearly my time had passed on.

 

 

I paused and turned as the blonde black blur passed me still informing the valley about her latest personal developments. I smiled at her companions who smiled back, they seemed grateful for my courtesy and I appreciated theirs.

I didn’t hear Bunny Girl much after that as I was too busy doing an impersonation of her for Karen’s enjoyment or probably more accurately my own.

We never saw her again but we did take in the beautiful views, listened to the wildlife around us or took time to take pictures of our lovely surroundings.

There was even a moment when I went fairly close to a ledge up high. Just cause.

Down on the valley floor the falls looked spectacular and once we got to the job I went back on the track to the first look-out just to take it in one last time.

It was not lost on me that people were having to isolate home and worse and yet here I was on holidays looking out over a valley. I guess when you’re denied so many things long enough you have a new found appreciation for well..anything..all of it-life!

 

 

On the way back we stopped at the top of Mt Tamborine. Cars all pulled over to the side of the road and people walked over to a lookout hill. We were spread far and wide, metres apart, socially distancing but we sat down together as one and we watched the sunset.

There was something communal and comforting in that small window of time after weeks of being cut off from groups.

Many years ago I worked long hours in a job that stressed me out. On weekends I would go into the office and on a sunday afternoon I would walk across the road to Eagle street pier and watch the sun set over my river.

It seemed to help and it has never been lost on me that perhaps we should take time more often to watch the sun set rather than racing home or setting out dinner which is how it often seems to be.

Anyway Karen and I picked up pizza from a place called Belvederes at North Tamborine, ate our fill from the box and went outside to the backyard which was beautifully lit up.

The night was fairly cold so we eventually went in for our spa and bed.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART I

20200630_184716
Karen and I on holidays with the last days of my beard. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

As the year moved on I was told at work in the strongest terms despite the pandemic or even because of it, I should give myself a break. At the time there was a possibility that people may only be able to travel up to 250 kilometres from home. So I planned around that.

I had not taken recreational work from work in many years. We had gone to Newcastle for a long weekend in 2017, my first holiday in six years. I had attended my sisters wedding in London in country for 58 hours in 2018, there had been stays in hotels for a night or two but this was me taking recreational leave from work for the first time in a long time.

I did not want to stay at home on the couch and watch Netflix but I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

I also wanted Karen to have a holiday too.

So while thousands died across the world, I went on holidays and I am going to write about it. I’m sorry if that seems tone deaf. I guess I was following health advice from my government, maybe spending money in the area was good for some businesses but I went on holidays. I had a nice time and know that is only due to the grace of God.

June 30

Karen and I drove down to where we were staying at North Tamborine.

It was a Scottish themed manor named Stonehaven Guest House, by that I mean there was a lot of wood in it and Scottish themed paraphernalia everywhere. We stayed in a room called Edinburgh. Next day was Balmoral. One day I walked downstairs musing to my wife about the Australian battle Coral-Balmoral during the Vietnam War and wondering how Balmoral related to Scotland.
It’s where the Royal Family holidays of course which my wife reminded me of with the patience of a saint. Damnit and I’m the one with the Scottish heritage.

We loved the place, the staff were great but kind of left us alone which suited us. There was a beautiful backyard with a creek and a gazebo that was lit up at nights.

 

 

Our first night we walked around our up the road and got a layout of our surroundings. Up the road was a series of shops and the local ANZAC Memorial.

 

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Tamborine Mountain ANZAC Honour Roll. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

We went to a nearby Irish pub but they were booked out until later with the spacing required due to COVID-19. Fair enough. I looked around on my phone and made a call to a place called The Fox & Hounds Inn.

The gentleman on the other end said he would be happy to take a booking and asked me what time and I said now was fine. He laughed and told me he still didn’t open for another 8 minutes so we agreed to half an hour.

The pub was cosy on a cold winter’s night and even with social distancing there were a few customers that night. I got some salmon with a thing called bubble and squeak. I didn’t mind but didn’t love the bubble and squeak but my goodness the salmon was amazing. Karen really enjoyed her Guiness pie too.

Some of the pub is made with parts of a pub imported from England contributing to the construction of the inn.

 

 

There were also English ales available with a range more varied and authentic than say what you would get in Brisbane at the franchise Pig’n’Whistle. Nothing against the Pig’n’Whistle which I love but when in Rome you hope you’re enjoying something you can’t get back home.

There is also the Foxy Lady Ginger Cider which is brewed locally and exclusively for them.

We finished off with dessert, I got a Raspberry Eton Mess which basically was a mixture of cream, meringue and raspberries in a glass and my goodness it was good.

I think Karen had an apple and rhubarb crumble but I didn’t care because I had the best dessert after she beat me with the best meal. An even draw.

All night there was one waitress working the floor, taking orders, delivering food and passing good vibes along to every customer as they waited for food or got served drinks.

The owner out the back worked the entire kitchen by himself and the food was delicious and kept coming.

The waitress was so good, I called him out from the kitchen to pass on how much of a credit she was to the place and he agreed advising me he didn’t have her there full time because she was still going to school.

A lot of us will live entire lives without being able to remain that calm and quick under the pressure of a restaurant setting. I think she’ll go far, I wished I had also passed on what a great job he did.

 

 

It could have been being on holidays for the first time in a while but there was a little magic in the air.

The kind of magic you have when you’re on holidays and you find a little place to eat that just fits the bill and the staff are so good and the place is so nice you feel it was almost done all for your benefit.

We had a similar night at a place in Maleny in 2008 called Capriccios and it was nice to have it again.

Now though we made our way back to Stonehaven, our home for the next three nights and the spa we had in our room.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – LOCKDOWN POSTCODES

SES volunteers set up a gazebo in a street on a sunny day

 

June 29

Monday I was on holidays and so didn’t go into work.

In Victoria things were beginning to escalate.

People who were in hotel quarantine who refused to get tested were going to be kept in quarantine for another 10 days.

10 suburbs were going into lockdown in Melbourne with only four reasons for people to move in around or enter those postcodes.

Premier Andrews had also announced that some parents had refused testing for their children for the nasal swab test and so a saliva test would be available.

Ten suburbs received a testing blitz, Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir, Hallam and Pakenham.

There had been daily double digit increases in COVID cases for each of the previous 13 days.

There were 70 Australian Defence Force members deployed to help.

 

June 30

Premier Daniel Andrews announced ten postcodes were going into lockdown for the next month.

There would only be with only four reasons for people to leave their homes, for work or school, for caregiving, exercise or to get food or essentials.

In these hotspots gatherings will be limited to family or two people, cafes and restaurants were back to take-away only and gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, playgrounds and community activities were over.

These suburbs were back in lockdown while the rest of the country enjoyed a different way of life.

Hotel quarantines or people returning from overseas were no longer going to be coming into Melbourne.