A Parisian Miscellany

We are in Paris all week for work, and most of the sightseeing we will be doing will be snatched minutes between meetings and venue and site visits. So I’m just posting some of my favourite pictures of all the super recognisable places that don’t need any much explaining into this post and will probably share it at the end of the week. Paris has such a famous skyline that hardly any of these buildings and monuments need a title, let alone a description.

The Eiffel Tower seems to have received a fresh coat of paint in readiness for the Olympics. It’s looking the best I’ve ever seen it. It is however, all closed off around the base, so you can’t walk around underneath it like normal at the moment, and most of the long park behind it (where one goes for that typical long shot of the Eiffel Tower) is all closed off in readiness for the Games also – they are erecting grandstands along the park and we think this is the venue for beach volleyball? But haven’t been able to confirm that – scratch that, it’s confirmed. Beach volleyball is happening in that park.

L’Arc de Triomphe…

Views from the top. Obviously I couldn’t go up with my fucked up knee… stupidly there is an elevator that will get you most of the way to the top, but given the AdT is on the world’s craziest and most notorious traffic roundabout, to get to the base of the monument, you need to go down a significant flight of stairs, go under the roundabout in a pedestrian walkway, and then up another significant flight of stairs to access the lift that goes up the monument. Well, done Paris. Yes, you’re an old city, designed without accessibility in mind, but that’s fucking stupid.

Train station under the Louvre to get to the CBD.

No one ever sends home their happy snaps of the Paris CBD… wonder why that is. Honestly, could be the downtown area of any modern city.

Market stalls lining the Seine… these are so typically, ‘Paris’ to me. I remember them so well from my first visit here in 1995. Back when I had 28 rolls of film to last me for a six month trip and taking photos was done sparingly! So I recall seeing mundane things like market stall and not taking any photos of them because we needed to save our shots for more interesting subjects. I also remember the processing cost when you got home, oh and the stress that the airport security x-ray machines were going to trash all your treasured images. I really should go dig up all my old travel pics and digitise them somehow.

A half hour spent shopping at La Samaritane… went in to see the peacock murals, came out having utterly brutalised the credit card! Spontaneous luxury shopping centres and unmedicated ADHD are a powerful combination apparently. 😉

Nearly bought a Tiffany key to go with my other ones, but it was only in rose gold, and my other two are yellow gold. It would have made a nice collection: Home, Paris, Fifth Avenue in New York, but I don’t do rose gold. When Mr K bought me that first key, I warned him that keys come in bunches…

Love the peacocks.

French jewllers… Van Cleef & Arpels. Beautiful and timeless pieces.

Back outside and heading back to the hotel (not sure which day)… I love that they haven’t modernised all the Metro signage.

More magasins along the Seine, selling touristy bits and pieces…

… and this one stall selling French Michelin guides from every year from the 1960s.

Early morning pics of the Louvre… where only crazy people (and Chinese bridal parties with their photographers and stylists), venture this early.

Mr K taking a selfie.

The Musée D’Orsay from the bridge.

Notre-Dame is still under repair… they were hoping for it to be open by the Olympics, but they’re looking to be six months behind schedule on that one and it’s now aiming to be open by Dec 2024. I wonder how different it will feel once it’s completed.

It’s truly an iconic building and it’s hard to believe that at one point in it’s history, the city considered tearing it down to avoid the cost of upkeep.

I’m not sure about the super modern colour scheme that Paris has chosen for their Olympics, it certainly makes the city look bright and different for the locals, but for visitors? I feel it detracts from the city’s old world charm.

Thus ends our week in Paris.

Only other observation I wanted to make note of, is that the Charles de Gaulle Airport is a full on dump compared to other international airports. It also feels stupidly haphazard with weird exit processes… mostly around VAT tax refunds etc – which all need to be done *before* you check in your suitcases, creating a crazy hectic and illogical situation where you have heaps of people lined up with enormous trolleys to get paperwork processed across two levels of the airport which has elevators barely large enough to put one person and one airport trolley into, and the little guys handing out cash refunds never asking anyone to show them the actual duty free purchases anyway, because who has time for that when you’re processing paperwork?! Weird.

We managed to see quite a bit of the city while we were here. Which was great.

In Bruges

I slept like a dead thing last night – was much needed and much appreciated. Work travel is all good and well, but when the work back home (or in this case, in the Middle East) keeps going and you’re on even more unusual time zones that you’re accustomed to, it just creates different challenges.

We were up early hoping to see a few things in the morning so we could be back to work this afternoon. First up was the obligatory canal boat ride, to see a bit of the city from the waterways. Apparently 8 million people visited Bruges last year and it sounds like nearly all of them did the short boat trip on the canal which takes little over 30 minutes.

What a glorious day! Saint John Nepomuk, patron saint of boatmen, bridges, priests and all men who have something in common on the water.

Gruuthuse Palace named for the wealthiest family in Bruges in the 15thC.

The Djiver Marketplace, where markets are held every weekend in the summer.

This is the Spiegelrei (Mirror Quay) and it sits just opposite the Jan Van Eyck square with its statue (c.1878), and the “Poorterloge” with its tower.

Pelikaan (N°8) is a pediment house which features a pelican feeding its children with its own blood. It is the symbol of charity and these houses were created as social housing in the 15thC – they are still social housing, even though tiny houses along those canals are worth upwards of €800k.

The Church of Our Lady dominates the skyline on this side of town – it’s a beautiful building.

Palais du Franc is a former law court, now turned museum… like most of the beautiful old buildings in Bruges.

So the building below is the one that Colin Farrel jumped out of in the movie, ‘In Bruges’, which is part of the same hotel we are staying it… you can see our hotel window in this picture – it is the left window of the two with the white painted frames, just to the right of the shot. It’s a great little spot, with fantastic restaurants just downstairs, music and a great ambiance all round. It’s always nice to choose somewhere to stay and it turns out nicer than you had even hoped.

Every visitor to Bruges seems to come to this little point beside the canal for a now Insta-famous selfie spot.

Gabled rooflines were used as a symbol of seigneurial housing, and became the fashion of the powerful bourgeoisie of the free market towns.

Bricked in windows were also evident along the canals – for those who don’t know, many European countries established a window tax, as a way of taxing the rich, and for some people, they took to bricking up their windows to minimise their tax burden on their windows. It sounds ludicrous, but it’s true. It’s also where the term ‘daylight robbery’ comes from.

Tanner’s House.

Bruges’ swan population have been seen as a symbol of the city’s power and wealth since the 16thC.

After our short boat ride, we made our way to the Church to see the Madonna.

Bruge’s ‘Church of Our Lady’ is a Roman Catholic church dating mainly to the 13th to 15th centuries. It has a 115m tower that remains the tallest structure in Bruges and is apparently the third tallest brickwork* tower in the world (after two in Germany)… *not to be confused with stone work edifices.

The construction of the church is in a high gothic style with flying buttresses, which were constructed in 1270-1280. It has an impressive black and white marble floor throughout and several baroque style chapels emanating from the main nave.

Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
Philippe Bernaerdt, 1660. Bruges. Oil on canvas.

Confessionals. Jacob Berger and Ludo Hagheman. 1697. Oak.
This heavily ornate row of baroque confessionals is considered one of the most beautiful example of its kind in existence. The figures represent numerous saints – St Jerome, St Augustine, Faith, St John, St Catharine of Alexandria, as well as the Virgin and Child and St Anne and St Peter.

De Baenst Chapel… named after the a prominent Bruges family.

Passion triptych, Bernard of Orley and Marcus Gerards, c1534. Oil on panel.
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy died at Nancy in 1477 and was finally laid to rest here in 1563. This painting was commissioned by his granddaughter, Margaret of Austria for the tomb of her own husband, Philibert II Duke of Savoy. Unfortunately the artist, Orley died before he could complete it and it was instead finished by Marcus Gerards the Elder and was later transferred to this chancel for Charles the Bold. It depicts the crucifixion, and side panels featuring the flagellation, the Way of the Cross, the Harrowing of Hell and the Lamentation. Waste not, want not, I guess.

Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Jean-Baptiste de Bethune. C.1863
*Interestingly, Bethune was the nephew of the then Bishop of the church and scored the job of decorating the sacristy from sheer nepotism. He created this entire space in the English style complete with murals and stained glass. They must have been happy with his work as he scored commissions for two more chapels of stained glass after this one.

Tomb of Mary of Burgundy, createdby Jan Borman and Reiner van Thienen. Gilded and enamelled by Pierre de Beckere. 1490-1502, Bruges.
Mary of Burgundy died after falling from her horse on 27 March, 1482 at the Prinsenhof (Ducal Palace) in Bruges. She was only 25 years old, but had ruled the Low Countries since the death of her father, Charles the Bold in 1477. She specifically requested to be buried in the Church of Our Lady. Her husband, Maximilian of Austria, commissioned this tomb in 1490 in a Gothic design. The side panels show her family tree on both her mother’s and father’s side.

While Charles has lions at his feet, his daughter Mary has two rather stunned looking puppies keeping her company in her skirts.

Coats of Arms of the Knights of the Golden Fleece
Pieter Coustain and Jan Hennecart, 1468, Bruges. Oil on panels.
Above the baroque choir stalls are 30 coats of arms of the prestigious Knights of the Golden Fleece. Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy founded the order in 1430 on the occasion of his marriage to Isabella of Portugal.

From 8-10th of May 1468, the order held its meeting in this church and Charles the Bold presided over that meeting. Usually, a member of the order was retained for life, but could be expelled for failure to adhere to the rules of the order. Charles the Bold’s nephew, John of Burgundy was at one point, expelled. His coat of arms were painted black and removed from the choir stalls – the reason for his expulsion was said to be heresy and straying from the faith.

Tomb of Charles the Bold.
Worked by Jacques Jonghelinck (c.1558-1562), Bruges.
While the design of this tomb is extremely similar to that of his daughter’s, it was made nearly 70 years later and shows many signs of typical the Renaissance style – the style of his armour etc.

I can’t get over the detail on his garments – the textures applied that represent heavily embroidered clothing suitable for the noble classes and the expensive fabrics they favoured.

I found these two beautiful embroideries just outside the chancel that held the tombs of Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy – unfortunately there was no information available on them, and the musuem staff didn’t know much about them either. They are definitely Opus Anglicanum in style (the 3/4 figures and the elongated hands are very typical of that time frame) and the stitch work is definitely congruous with that supposition – but that could mean they are works from as early as the 13thC. Surely, they wouldn’t just be hanging on the wall in regular daylight if they were 700 years old…? Perhaps they are a fairly accomplished but more recent reproductions done in that style. Very curious…

This, second object was also similarly convincing.

The Madonna of Bruges is definitely the highlight of this cathedral. Sculpted by Michelangelo between 1501 to 1504, it is said to be one of the rare few items of his work that left Italy during his lifetime. It is in an usual arrangement for this subject matter – normally the Virgin and Child motif show a pious mother cradling and looking down on her child, but here you see Baby Jee standing unsupported and appearing almost ready to wander off. It has the typical early 16thC High Renaissance pyramid composition style frequently seen in works from the late 1400s onwards.

The Madonna has been removed twice from Belgium, after originally having been purchased by two wealthy cloth merchants (Giovanni and Alessandro Moscheroni) for 100 ducats in 1504… once during the French Revolution in 1794 and citizens of Bruges were ordered to ship it and other valuables to Paris. It was returned after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815. It was again removed in 1944 during WWII, with the retreat of German soldiers who smuggled it into an Austrian salt mine in Altaussee, where it was found a year later. Seems between this beautiful statue and the Ghent Altarpieces, we are inadvertently doing ‘The Monuments Men’ art tour of the Low Countries. It is stunningly beautiful, and most obviously a huge cut above the other statuary in the church.

Procession of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Snows. Anton Claeissens. 1575. Oil on panel.
This painting draws inspiration from the 4thC legend that Mary is said to have caused a miraculous snowfall on Mount Esquiline, one of the Seven Hills of Rome, in the middle of summer. She wanted to indicate that a church should be built for her on that spot, apparently.

This beautiful little random fresco on the actual wall of the church didn’t have any description accompanying it… but I was quite enamoured with the delicate calligraphy and how well preserved the colours were.

Popping back out into the daylight after the somber shuffling inside a cathedral/musuem like this, can often be a bit jarring. Bruges has certainly turned on a beautiful day for us and we wandered around town for a while checking out the architecture and of course, the famous belfry.

Oddly enough, at 83m high and 366 tiny winding steps, I shan’t be climbing it with this fooked knee of mine. All good, just means it stays on my list and I’ll have to come back. Maybe I’ll see if Mr K wants to climb it tomorrow. 🙂

Bruges has more chocolate shops than I have EVER seen in my life. There must be over 50 of them within a 500m radius of our hotel, they are everywhere.

We walked around behind the belfry to hunt for a more out of the way, quite spot for lunch. Everything here is at full on tourist prices, which I don’t mind so much, so long as you’re also able to get something quality for your Euro. We are skipping dinner tonight, so a decent lunch is the plan.

We found a nice cafe called Tompouce – Mr K was exceedingly happy with his large blonde beer that came out in a glass almost as big as his head.

Flemish stew – rich and delicious gravy with slow cooked beef.

Beef meatballs in a tomato sauce with mashed potatoes. There – dinner is done!

After our meal, we wandered around a bit, taking more pics of the architecture and searching out the hidden little nooks and crannies of the back streets. Bruges is super pretty and being a medieval town, it’s a rabbit warren of little treasures around every corner.

Ah, these pics are for Angus – he said he wanted me to bring back Belgian chocolates for him – but tbh, I woudln’t know where to start! I don’t really eat chocolate myself, and there is so many varieties on offer, it’s kinda overwhelming to try and choose something… plus, who asks for a gift from overseas that is 1) perishable, and 2) cost by the 100gms?! Doesn’t he know I have a luggage allowance to consider! 😉

I finally found the perfect chocolate present… though I dare say these aren’t the same quality as the fancy truffles above.

I also stumbled into a tapestry shop, Mille Fleur’s Tapestries, which contained all locally woven products… so many beautiful things in here, though I didn’t allow myself to get too far into the back of the shop where the obviously large and impressive pieces were. Instead, In content myself with a small Cushion Agenda… I found two fabulous designs based on the Bayeaux Tapestry, which of course, Mr K had absolutely no Cushion Opinon on, and so I have bought a couple for our media room at home. There were even Mondrian designs for BigSal, but I resisted… this time.

Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine

After our visit to the Fujisan Museum, we had a few moments to stop at the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine. Situated in Goshinboku (sacred grove) of old forest, the shrine is one is related to the Shinto animistic worship of volcanoes and Sengen branch shrines that encircle Mt Fuji. This is considered the beginning of a traditional climb to the summit of Mt Fuji.

The shrine itself is considered the ‘head shrine’ of some 1300 other shrines that proliferate the region. Konohanasakuya-hime-no-mikoto as the main god that is considered to be enshrined here – she is attended by her husband, Ninigi-no-mikoto, and her father, Ohyamazumi-no-kami who together protect the marital relations and the family. The goddess of Mt. Fuji, she is prayed to for the safe delivery of children and was considered to be ‘incredibly beautiful’ so she is also worshiped as a goddess of beauty, art and entertainment. 

While this shrine has traditionally been the beginning point of a pilgrimage to the summit to Mt Fuji, most climbers in the modern era tend to take a bus to the fifth station and start their hike from there, foregoing visiting this shrine altogether. However it is still considered the spiritual gateway onto the sacred mountain and as such it remains central to the yearly celebrations when the climbing season draws to an end at the end of each August – the Yoshida Fire Festival that we read about at the museum. It is good to see so many water sources so close to the shrine and the forest – some of these tress are 23m in girth and are known to be 1000 years old, as an Australian… holding an annual fire festival at the end of a sweltering summer seems to be tempting fate somewhat, in my humble opinion! Not for the first time, I find myself wishing I could read Japanese to see what prayers and wishes people have written on the votive wooden plaques they have left for the goddess.

These shrines and temples are such peaceful places; a complete contrast to visiting St Paul’s Cathedral or St Peter’s in Rome – the latter feel more like shopping centres in comparison (complete with rope lines, bossy security and cash registers!). I hope Japan never goes this way with it’s religious sites.

From here we had a bit of a drive to Kamisuwa Onsen on Lake Kamisuwa… which was thankfully uneventful! We don’t need anymore time consuming traffic violations, thank you very much. Spotted as we left town:

I forgot how much I love Japanese convenience stores… saké in juice boxes for only 100JPY! Brilliant. 🙂

I have no idea what the koalas are signifying but they seem to be quite a populace motif on confectionery..?

I took a picture of this curry bowl due to its alarmingly plastic/perfect looking egg on top… surely that can’t be an actual food object?

But then I saw this, shrugged my shoulders and thought, ‘Meh? Japan!’ 🙂

Harvey Norman Carindale are useless fuckers

So, the situation with my couches continues.  In January 2011, a friend’s house flooded -along with half of his suburb – and he lost all his possessions.  While many of our friends rallied around to help with the clean up effort, me and my lack of physical capacity for such things, decided to donate to the cause – some couches for them to use until they got back on their feet.  It was a 10 year old corner suite, but in very good condition and I loved that couch.  Obviously this meant, we found ourselves purchasing new ones… a little sooner than we would have liked, but we were happy to help.

And what a cluster fuck that has turned out to be… our old couch was fantastic, these new ones have been dreadful.  They came with eight cushions, which almost immediately began to fray and have threads pull on them in an unsightly manner –  I ended up putting half of them away in the cupboard so I could pull them out when we had guests and they would look nice and not bedraggled.  Then one of the arms of one of the sofas seemed to collapse in on itself and the rest of them have became soggy.  Then, the final straw, which set this process in motion, a broken beam protruding from UNDER one of the sofas, resulting in a collapse under the seat.  Additionally, we had noticed, that that the fabric had been pilling somewhat, so I purchased some nice throw rugs to put on the seats to protect the fabric.  However, over time this does not seem to have helped, and the threadbare/pilled sections now have torn and ripped threads in them.  It seems we have bought couches that are probably meant to be purely decorative… as Harvey Norman have told us that the fabric is not covered under the warranty we purchased if you are OLD OR FAT.  Yes, you read that right.  Read on to see how the saga is playing out… this is the latest in a string of emails, tweets and attempts to contact Hardly Normal head office to have this issue resolved.  🙁

“Dear Jenni Franz,

I am following up on the couch warranty claim that I put in process with you on 27th of April. A representative from Action Upholstery did come and see the couches in question on 8th May, and I feel that more than two weeks is sufficiently long enough for a course of action to be undertaken, or at the very least for your department to have advised me on what is to occur.

To recap, the sofas were purchased at Harvey Norman Carindale for $2,847.00 (Invoice no: 698515), on 30/07/2011 and were delivered in September of 2011. One of the sofas has a beam that has collapsed from underneath it, and has an arm which has likewise suffered a loss of structural integrity. Additionally all four arms of both sofas have become ‘spongy’ and feel as though the sofa arms are going to sink in. Further the fabric on the seats, and to a lesser extent the arms and backs of the sofas are ripped and torn even though they couches have been in use for only 3 years and 8 months and have a 5 year fabric warranty.

You have assured me the structural failure of the frame of the sofas is covered under warranty, however you previously advised that that the fabric will NOT likely be covered. According to your previous email, if the users of the couches are considered ‘elderly or larger sized’ and therefore not agile enough to use the couches in an appropriate manner – then the fabric warranty will be considered VOID, due to persons of this type, ‘shuffling forward in the seat to get out of it’ causing pilling and subsequent tearing and ripping of the fabric. It seems the expected lifespan for this fabric is considerably less than the warranty your company was prepared to sell it with – but particularly if users are considered OLD or FAT. I was aghast at your preparedness to even think this of your customers, let alone put it in writing, as below – and your representative from Action Upholstery was likewise nonplussed at this assertion.

Further, the upholsterer agreed that a consumer should be able to reasonably expect that a fabric, used under normal wear and tear conditions, should reasonably be expected to outlive the warranty period with which it was sold. At no time during the sales process and subsequent purchase transaction, did anyone from your sales team advise that this fabric was not considered dependable for regular domestic use, nor was any indication given that it was not sturdy enough for persons who might arbitrarily be considered OLD or FAT! I am astounded that you would treat your customers in such an ill-considered discriminatory manner.

This entire situation is completely unacceptable. From the lack of communication during this warranty claim process, to your refusal to pass on the name of the manufacturer of these items – I am fairly confident that had I bought a vacuum cleaner at Harvey Norman – you would want nothing to do with the warranty process at all and would be fobbing me off to a manufacturer with all haste.

I have previously lodged my concerns with Harvey Norman Head Office an was advised that the Franchisee and a Regional Manager would be in contact with me regarding this matter – however since those assurances took place at the end of April and I have heard nothing from ANYONE at Harvey Norman, either locally or regionally, I now have as little faith in those assertions as I have in your own store’s customer service capacity.

Please be advised that my expectations are as follows: that these couches will be collected within the week, that the structural damage on each couch will be rectified, that the couches will be recovered in a fabric that is more durable for regular domestic use which might reasonably be expected to last five years regardless of whether OLD, INFIRM or OVERWEIGHT persons might be using the products. Alternatively, I would be amenable to them to being returned for a full refund of the original purchase price as I am completely appalled at this situation and the diffident treatment I have received thus far.

if this situation is not completely resolved in the next four weeks to my satisfaction, I will be taking this matter further on advice that I have already taken from the ACCC.


So pray remember, if any of you are going to purchase anything from Harvey Norman that they have the worst possible post-sale customer service in the business.  The ACCC told me they hear problems about them ALL the time and are constantly trying to advise customers of what to do – however it would seem many customers don’t have the time, inclination or wherewithal to see complaints through.  Well, HN have picked a fight with the wrong girl… I have nothing BUT time, motivation and the wherewithal to turn this into a complete social media shit fight. and as you all know, once I have the bit between my teeth – I never give up.

Oh and do feel free to retweet this ridiculous tale – no one should be discriminated against like this (especially seeing the representatives in question have never seen us, nor have they seen the immaculate state of my OCD like home!)
I would strongly recommend people avoid shopping at Harvey Norman at all costs!


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There’s very little you can’t solve with determination and a credit card.

OMFG.  What a bloody saga and a half.  Late last year, I had the Small Child’s passport replaced – passports for kids only last five years and so he’s onto his third one already (well travelled, spoiled brat of a kid that he is). The bureaucratic hoops that need to be navigated to renew a child’s passport in Australia make you go through the whole kit and kaboodle… effectively filling out an entire ‘new application’ form complete with endorsed photographs and a guarantor and proof of existence from scratch.

So this week, I go to get my passport renewed too. I get online, fill out the online form and print it out (Only two pages?! Immediately worry that I’ve missed something) check the list of shit that I need to take to Australia Post to lodge a passport application – old passport: check… printed form: check… two unsmiling photos, one signed by a guarantor: check.  Rock up to the Post Office just this Tuesday gone, and stand in line for a little bit, thankfully they’re not too busy, but get to the front of the queue with my form and my photos and my passport and get told, “You don’t need a guarantor for an adult passport renewal”.  “Oh I read the checklist for lodging passport applications and it said you did need endorsed photos” (It’s the same checklist for all applications on the Australia Post website btw), but thanks for letting me know.” … “No, these photos are no good, we need ones that aren’t signed on the back”… “You’re kidding right?  I got my Small Child’s passport renewed only two months ago and he needed a guarantor, so why does this application not have this requirement?  And if endorsed photos are considered superior and actually harder to obtain, why then, are these being rejected?”… somewhat sheepishly the customer service lady, Donna, said, “They just don’t want signatures on adult renewals.  Sorry.”

Grrrr!  Is it too much to ask for a bit of bloody consistency? Will have to go home, get some more photos (foolish me for only bringing the 2 with me that I thought I needed instead of all 8 they gave me when I had them taken!) and go later in the week.  What a waste of time.  Le sigh.  :/

Fast forward to today, Friday, and back I go again.  Same lady, Donna, behind the counter.  I hand over my unendorsed photos, my passport and my application form and then watch as she puts some template thing over my photos and says, “These photos are too small, and they have a red tinge to them. They’re not acceptable.”

Hold on a minute, lady.  At this point (after a bad day of poor legal advice and BDM Registry bullshit), I was in no mood for more bureaucratic bullshit and certainly not from Australia Bloody Post.  Unfortunately Donna had just put herself squarely in the firing line! “Excuse me, these are the exact same photos that you rejected on Tuesday because they were inadvertently endorsed, and on Tuesday you said nothing about them being too small or having a reddish tint to them. Is it too much to ask that if the application was going to be rejected, that the ENTIRE application be checked to ensure there is not more than one problem with it?  Why did you not tell me that these photos did not meet the photographic requirements on Tuesday?!  What the fuck, sort of Mickey Mouse operation are you lot running here?!?  To which Donna replies, “I’m sorry, I didn’t check them on Tuesday, I only looked and saw they were endorsed and they shouldn’t be.  Would you like me to take some new photos of you now?” … “You didn’t check them on Tuesday which is going to necessitate me coming back for a third time!  No one has time for crap like that.  And NO!  Look at me?  I’ve been doing housework all morning, my hair is not neat,  I’m not wearing any make up, I’m an absolute mess – and you want to take a washed out ghost of a photo for a document that I have to live with for the next TEN BLOODY YEARS?!  I don’t think so.  So that’s a NO. I don’t want you to take my photo right now, but thanks for wasting my time!” And I stormed out.  Very. Fucking. Pissed. Off.

Grrrr, Grrr and fucking grrr, some more.  Abso-fucking-lutely furious and ready to fucking explode at anyone who looks at me sidewards.  ARRRGGGHH!

Whinge at Mr K and yale that the cunts at Australia Post are completely incompetent and then finally calm enough to switch into problem solving mode.  I am NOT wasting more time coming back for a third attempt to lodge my passport renewal. What to do, what to do.  Spy a discount pharmacy!  That’s a good start.  Walk in, find the Revlon counter, grab a tester of Colourstay Natural Light Ivory and a mirror.  NEVER in my life have I tested make up on my face (too much of a germaphobe for that sort of thing), but desperate times call for desperate measures.  I start liberally applying foundation in the itty bitty mirror when a sales clerk comes past and says ‘Can I hel…” she gets a look from me that very much say, “What of it?” and moves on past me rather quickly.  Next, some eyebrows… have a hunt for some suitable eyeshadow… done and done.  Look at the eyeliner testers and think ‘No way, not now, not ever!’ (my inner germaphobe obviously has limits and was absolutely not going to let me stick a tester eyeliner anywhere near my eyes!). So I grab a nice brown eyeliner off the shelf, and a Maybeline ‘Blackest Black’ mascara.  Sprint to another aisle and pick up some cheap hair combs and head to the register and out with the fantastic plastic to buy some make up I didn’t really want to buy today!

Quickly found the nearest shopping centre ladies room, and finished off my hastily started make up job and combed my hair.   Sigh.  Need to calm down for a minute and let the boiling fury dissipate until my face regained it’s more accustomed non-rage fuelled complexion.  Breathe.  Just breathe.

Back I go to the Australia Post office, I’m sort of hoping I get the same chick at this point… but I didn’t.  One of her colleagues took some more photos for me, and then the damn application, that I was truly sick of the sight of, was lodged within about ten minutes flat.  Now the stupid thing was out of my hands, I realised that I had *maybe* over-reacted towards poor Donna, who kinda also bore the brunt of the fact that I’ve been getting bad info from some lawyers, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry and Monash University this week, and was completely over all types of bureaucratic administrivia bullshit for one week.  I admit that I did go a bit over the top in asking Donna to self assess if she was completely incompetent, and decided to apologise to the poor lady for my reaction to the bad advice she gave me earlier in the week.  Yes, I know. It was a sort of backhanded apology… she gave me bad info, but she certainly didn’t deserve the both barrels of foul temper which I blasted her with earlier.  She seemed relieved after I spoke with her, and I hope she didn’t go home saying to her family ‘Customer are fuckers’… which is what I would have done if I had made a mistake like that, and then copped it big time from said fucker/customer type.

Le sigh.  When did we all become so inflexible.  It’s not like the photo isn’t going to be scanned into a computer then scaled to exact preferred size anyway?  Harumph.  Too many fucking rules governing every little thing we do… or can’t do.  🙁

My anger at the passport renewal cock ups did take away from the usual tinge of melancholy that sometimes occurs whenever I’ve renewed a passport – all those stamps in my passport going into the memories and not still alive and well in my current travel history.  This passport took me to New Zealand (six times), Vanuatu, New Caledonia, UAE, all over Turkey, Pakistan, Canada, and all four corners of the US (Alaska, San Diego, Florida and Maine!).  One thing I won’t miss though is the Pakistani Visa that was front and centre in my passport causing me to be held up by Homeland Security each and every time I went through an airport in the US… oh dear lord did that thing get me some funny looks and a lot of furious tapping at computer terminals by every customs agent and TSA officer I encountered…

Visa Pakistani Islamic Republic of Pakistan