Nov 29, 2006

Thongs

Oh yeah, Miss Julie Seldon, thong enthusiast: these bleeding thongs have given me a bleeding toe! I now have a welt cum blister cum open wound in the inside of my poor little toe number two.

Eloise this afternoon after waking up from afternoon nap, wanted a push in her little tuk tuk truck around the garden. Nap was in afternoon today because she fell asleep in the backpack on the way around the long circuit at Samford Forest, which I was exploring from the other direction. Very steep climbs, quite hot weather. A big thermometer sign on the way proclaimed it to be 38 degrees but that's just nonsense.

Dogs exhausted after walk, Matilda hopped into a trough for feeding animals - horses I presume, arrgh! - but didn't try to get in the boot of the car this time. Water handed out, but Squeaky still downed two glasses of milk when we got home.

Nicole having trouble sleeping today after first night on, got up and I treated her to beans on toast, which delighted her, obviously, and at that point afternoon naps started. I pulled a fast one and went out shopping, planned on rice with sweetcorn and chilli, but unfortunately forgot sweetcorn in my excitement over 36 cans of Coke for $18, and chilli got lost somewhere along the way. Never mind eh! Fell back to Spiced Vegetable Pilau with Cashew Nuts which was quite tasty.

Storm rolled in later on, plenty of low-grade thunder and distant but nevertheless spectacular lightning. Precious little rain.

Little pic from walk this morning:
Contours

Nov 28, 2006

The Pied Piper


101 uses for a straw, number 17: the Penny Whistle.

A Tuesday, Like Any Other

Know Your LimitsJust for a change we went to Nudgee and indulged Eloise's newfound fondness of paddling.

We didn't get up there til about eleven due to one thing and another. It was windy, which disguised the strength of the sun and blew the receding tide back onto the shore along with some foamy substance of dubious industrial provenance. Tiny ran after sticks into the sea; she had a great time. The tide was going out and was at the stage where you could get out onto some of the sandbars with a very slightly courageous paddle, so I took Eloise out and she got water up to her waist - which she didn't mind as she'd already sat down in it anyway - while Nicole snapped away from the shore.

I re-discovered someone-or-other's theory of fluid dynamics as my thongs (flip-flops to you other-worlders) mysteriously remained behind on the sea bed when I moved my feet in any direction other that straight forward. A little helpful hint for you first-time thong paddlers there.

Matilda rolled in something disgusting and had to be dragged into the sea for a wash.

A little nap was had by E in the car on the way back which extended itself past hometime, but she woke up in time for houmous sandwiches in Lebanese bread and then to swimming where again Nicole was the Divemistress. Eloise was somewhat exuberant and yet strangely focused as she performed her tasks very well, in particular the one where she walks along an underwater table, swims to another one, slides down a slide, blows bubbles underwater and swims to the side then holds on until parent comes along. I was a very proud dad.

Nov 27, 2006

Good Verbing

I have discovered that there is an acceptable form of Good Verbing. Specifically the sarcastic form, such as I used earlier today, viz. "Oh, Good Indicating" as some driver, no doubt of the female persuasion, and very possibly from Suffolk, hurtled around a roundabout turning left with no indication whatsoever.

Exploration

Late to bed means late to rise. For the past couple of days Nicole has been working long days and I kept Squeaky up late so that they could see each other so that Nicole wouldn't have to go three days without seeing her.

This was accomplished mainly by going for late afternoon walks down to the Brook where on Sundays chaos rules. There must have been thirty or forty dogs being walked down there last night, which Eloise was delighted by. Also there was a "young man" riding his bike from the raised embankment by the bridge and hurtling straight into the brook making on enormous splash. The water is only about three feet deep so how he did this without hurting himself is anybody's guess. Maybe he didn't.

The happy side-effect of all this was that I had to wake E up at 8 o'clock this morning, get Nicole out of bed at 8.15, in order to get to Nursery by 9.

Bush BathI then took Nicole up the Stringybark Trail, so to speak, which is the name of the circular walk we do up at Mount Coot-tha on Mondays. It wasn't too hot but was quite humid and the dogs became quite hot. By the time we got back to Simpson Falls, sorry Simpson Pools, they were panting like... very hot dogs, and Tiny just laid down in a pool, which was like cool bath. We were a little sweaty by the time we got back to the car, to find a lost, sweaty German student waiting for us by the car. He said he wanted to look at a map to find out how to get back to the City as he'd taken a wrong turn on a walking track. I think he really wanted a lift, so we offered him one and dropped him off in the City. I think I managed to conceal the fact from him that I was actually quite lost when we dropped him off, but it looked built up on the right hand side so I expect he wold have been OK!

Storm DamageWe dropped the very hot and panting dogs off back at home then went to Latrobe Terrace in Paddington for lunch.

We found a nice little café where we sat on a balcony on a hill overlooking the city and ate a very nice lunch. The area was quite oldy-styly and quaint; there were a lot of antique shops, one of which had had its roof blown off in the recent storm, and quite a few boutique type establishments, and a bookshop. It was nice to see a new area in Brisbane, there seems to be quite a variety between the different suburbs like Paddington, Wilston, Fortitude Valley etc.

Needless to say, Nicole decided to check out some shops, bought a dress, and didn't try very hard but succeeded anyway in persuading me to buy some Havaianas which for the terminally fashion-ignorant are flip flops. They are totally necessary for beach activities as I am sick of taking off trainers and socks to go paddling etc. However I am not used to them yet and am currently walking around like a chicken.

Nicole bought a nice dress which I will leave her to comment further on.

We finished the day off, after picking Squeaky up from nursery, by going for a toddle up at the brook at sunset, then tucking in to pasta a la Neil with a modified nutty salad with roasted pine nuts, raisins and cashews. Yum.

Nov 26, 2006

Kedron Brook

Kedron Brook
Looking from the Montrose Street bridge back up Kedron Brook. On the right hand side people walk their dogs "unofficially" off the lead; behind us on the right hand side of the brook is the official off-leash area.

Home is on the street behind Crushers' League Club which is that large building in the distance. You can walk through the car park of Crushers, down to the path and cross the brook on a rock bridge, when the brook isn't at capacity.

Art, Walking and Cricket

I'm Concentrating...

For the past few mornings, Eloise has preferred to paint rather than anything else, including watching TV or eating breakfast. She has signalled this by fetching her apron, marching to the utility room and pointed to the paint pots and bruses, grunting meaningfully.

Her work so far can best be described as Chaotic Impressionism.

We walked down at the brook this morning. It is starting to get quite hot. Matilda found the huge bone she dropped last night, but didn't hang on to it long, I think it was a little sun-baked.

Tiny Wades in the Brook

Tiny and Matilda spent a while wading underneath a little foot bridge. There were quite a few other dogs there, but no-one was hanging around.

Eloise has gone to bed now, and I am making a token attempt to watch the cricket, which with England at 42 for 2 is not making me very enthusiastic. Coupled with that is the presentation on TV, where there is an advert break literally every five minutes. They even play advert tickers across the bottom of the screen while things are going on. Much gloating is going on on the radio which I listen to when cooking and washing up. They get Brits on to bemoan the English performance. Turncoats.

What is a follow-on anyway? Is it like a follow-through?

Nov 25, 2006

Jumping Fridge Monster

Eloise is making great leaps and bounds, if that's not an unfortunate turn of phrase, in the art of jumping. She's got the leg movements sorted out but just can't quite manage 100% of the time to get the momentum required for both feet to leave the ground. I've tried to demonstrate the contribution that arms can make, but she doesn't quite get it.

She has been using the word "toast" a lot this week. She needs to work on "yoghourt," but pronounced in the English, sorry correct, way with the short "o" rather than the Aussie "Yoh-gourt" which I kind of object to, in the same way as Zuchinni and Eggplant. But I digress... you can see her on the left, or can't because of the long exposure time, reaching for the yoghourt pots again in the fridge. Whenever the fridge is open she aims for the yoghourt. Or the grapes. Or the eggs actually.

She's a fridge monster.

She had her top-up jab for Hepatitis B the other day, so we're keeping a close eye on her. Though she's a bit lacklustre on breakfast, she's eating like a horse the rest of the time. Jumping, as you may have gathered, is very popular, along with drawing on anything that moves, me and dogs included, painting, and driving the pushchair into my legs from behind. My pain is very enjoyable it seems.

Nov 21, 2006

Who's sleeping in my bed

Just before bedtime, as Eloise was getting her pyjamas on, Tiny decided to get into her bed. Fifteen minutes of sheer delight it this discombobulation of reality had us all rolling in the aisles as Eloise climbed up the outside of the bed to see what the hell that dog thought she was doing.

Who's sleeping in my bed

Good Verbing!!!

One of the things I despise about these parenting things is the clichés wot get adopted by parents. The ones that have been adopted here from the US of bleeding A seem to be "Good Job!" which as far as I'm concerned is something that's said to sign-language-talking gorillas, and what I've come to term "Good Verbing" which is the one where whatever basic skill it is that your child is performing, you congratulate them by spouting "Good breathing, Gobspot!!" or "Good sweating, Blister!!" or "Good scratching, Knobfoot!!"

I have shared these feelings with Nicole on many occasions and I thought she agreed with me as we snickered along to the "Good sharings" and "Good crawling" horrors it's been our displeasure to witness.

Whilst I was on the side of the pool watching Nicole and Eloise have their fun today, imagine my mixed feelings of delight, terror, glee, and disgust when Nicole's dulcet tones proclaimed "Good Walking, Eloise!!" shortly before she covered her mouth and looked around to see if anyone had noticed...

Eloise's verbal repertoire

Each time we speak to any of the grandparents on skype Eloise is generally very quiet and then waves and says "bye" as soon as we hang up... I know what you are thinking but it is true. Any way after a conversation with my parents at the weekend my dad sent me an email telling me how chatty Maisie was. Maisie is Eloise's 15 month old cousin. The origins of this inter-cousin competition stems from when Maisie was first born and Matthew popped into Gamlingay to show off the photos of Maisie he had on his mobile phone. I received an email from Matthew the next day saying that mum thought Maisie was much prettier than Eloise. Of course, my mum denied all knowledge of this. The second part of Matthew's email said that Maisie had been asked to take part in a photo shoot. So, never one to miss a challenge I emailed him back to tell him that we were already receiving letters from the Oxbridge Universities regarding a place in the future.

Anyway, today I attended Eloise's swimming lesson. I think I possibly had more fun than Eloise. One of the exercises was getting Eloise to sit on the side and slide in, turn around and kick back to the side of the pool where they have to hold on to the edge. She has waterwings on for the health and safety conscious of you. The instructor encourages the parents to say "kick, kick, kick" during the swimming to the side part of the exercise. Eloise was saying "kick, kick, kick" too.

The rest of Eloise's repertoire is (Matild)Da, Tiny, Daddy, toast, juice (pronounced jus and meaning any drink), poo, catch me - has anyone noticed that mummy is not on the list, I feel very left out, I guess I will just have to wait my turn patiently. Despite her lack of present vocabulary she does not fail to make her intentions perfectly clear. We have even noticed that she tuts with disapproval, which I think she gets from me. To Neil's pleasure she can even raise an eyebrow the way I can.

Nov 19, 2006

Birdwatching

We were down at Nudgee Beach yesterday. Over our heads was hovering something I can only assume is a Sea Eagle of some sort, what do you think?

Sea Eagle

We went again today, not very original I know, but it's reasonably nearby and when the tide's not totally in you can walk up from the official offleash area to the beach. This time a Pelican was gliding around about twenty feet over our heads. The tide was just going out and we found that were able to wade out into the Coral Sea onto some sand bars about fifty metres off shore.

Eloise had a lovely time playing in little pools in the sand, where the water was lovely and warm.

Pools on the Beach
We went wading and Eloise was in up to her belly button, hence the clothes got ditched. We are thinking that we will need to get some kind of bodysuit which gives UV protection for the summer, or sooner.

A skype first

Neil and I had a skype conversation with Brendan and Shirley this evening. I was merrily supping away on my red wine for the evening and was joined in an alcohol northern hemisphere drink. Oh, that makes no sense to me either but I have have had a few glasses. Thank goodness for spell check or whatever common sense is left. I'm off to bed before I embarrass myself further.

Sunday roasting

Since Friday morning I have been craving meat. I am struggling to remember the last time meat passed my lips but I reckon it was about a month ago. I have a feeling that I was dreaming about lamb overnight. I had originally thought about barbequing this afternoon but today has not been overly hot so I figured it may be one of the last opportunities of 2006 to cook a roast. Whilst Eloise was asleep I snuck off to Zone Fresh and bought a kilo of delicious lamb which was served with roast potatoes, French beans with tomatoes, onions and garlic, steamed asparagus and onion and garlic gravy. Well, I two incredibly thick slices of lamb and now feel very satiated for iron.

Eloise, to Neil's delight tucked, into the green beans and asparagus over anything else. Towards the end of the meal Eloise was asking to get down. We have trained her, on a good day, to put her knife and fork together and hand us her plate. On a bad day she just throws what she doesn't fancy in Matilda's direction. Anyway, she got down and then asked to come up on my lap and decided she wanted to eat some more off her plate. Neil mentioned that Eloise seems really happy that I am about all the time at the moment. This took me completely by surprise and made me shed a little tear of happiness tinged with a little sadness.

Driving Miss Eloise

Ric and Cate's house is very sensibly all fenced in so we have to go through the gate to get onto the drive. We have been getting into the habit of undoing Eloise from her car seat and she has been climbing over onto the front passenger seat for the final ten metres. This as you can probably imagine delights her immensly so imagine her ectasy as being allowed to sit on my lap and drive! This brings back childhood memories for me of camping trips in Devon or Cornwall and being allowed to sit on my dad's lap and drive to where we had pitched our tent on the campsite.

Nov 18, 2006

Ouch

I am not talking about my sunburn as Neil applied several layers of after sun before bedime. I am sure I will turn a golden brown by the middle of next week. Needless to say, despite my chicken legs sticking out underneath shorts for the past two months they are still ghostly white. Although saying that, I did notice a thong marking across my feet (you see, Julie, I am trying very hard to get into the local lingo and for all of you that haven't read the previous entries I do not mean thing in the English sense of the word).

Anyway, the ouch to which I refer is Neil and his poor back. Here entails a story...

As you might be aware I have just worked a mega stint at work with some overtime aswell. On Monday I was attending to a central line and felt a little warning twinge in my back. Faye recently told me of a good place for a deep tissue massage, so on Thursday I made myself an appointment for later that afternoon. All day yesterday I was racked with post massage pain and hoping for a lie in this morning to aid the recovery. When Eloise woke up she was playing with my watch. I told her to be careful and not to lose it as Neil had given it to me as a present nine years ago. He shook violently and said it couldn't possibly be that long ago and how this made him feel very old. About ten minutes later I heard displays of agony from the bathroom only to discover Neil leaning against the bathroom wall in visible pain and the nappy bucket at his feet. I tried to get a massage appointment for him for today but they were all booked up so he will have to wait until Monday morning. After two 50mg diclofenac and 500mg with 30mg codeine phosphate Neil is in considerably less pain and able to go about his usual daily business.

I sprung upon this opportunity to return to my rightful place within the household. After our dog walk we had a second breakfast of a pecan slice washed down with a strawberry, banana, yoghurt, toffee icecream and orange juice smoothie. I have washed up and hoovered for the first time in weeks! Life is strange. The simple things. Oh well, another three days off and then I return to my new normality.

Domestic Duties 102

Always use two hands when lifting a full nappy bucket. That way you won't wrench your back, incapacitate yourself, and require painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and remedial massage.

Also when adding the Napisan for the pre-wash soak, swish around the bag of nappies so that the Napisan dissolves thouroughly. That way when the detergent mixes in the washing machine, localised concentrations won't react, causing excessive froth and a washing machine overflow.

Here endeth the lesson.

Sunburn

I should add, for the record, that the sunburn was predominantly on Nicole, across her shoulders, and Eloise got some on her shoulder too. Both cases were quite mild. More care to be taken in future with sunblock. If you look carefully you can see some on Nicole's shoulder here.

A Windy Day At the Beach

Sun, Sea, Sand, Wind

Windswept BeachWe had our first cases of sunburn yesterday. We went walking down the Brook and ran into Janice and spent the best part of an hour talking to her while Libby (a d0g) played with Matilda. Nicole did most of the talking, I chased around after sproggy and threw balls for Tiny to keep them amused. By the time we were done it was past Story Time and Eloise was tired so we repaired back to Chez Nous and had Pasta and Pesto a la Neil with a Modified Waldorf Salad which was quite tasty even if I do say so myself, and I do.

In the afternoon we decided to hotfoot it up to Bribie Island and go walking on the beach. Early indications of appalling traffic were dispelled and we made it up there by about four o'clock, sauntering onto the beach and into a biting wind which was reminiscent, if that's the right word for reminding one of a situation one has never actually been in, of standing in a two-foot-tall sandblaster.

Nicole went back and got the rucksack, and safely ensconced, Eloise was considerable happier. We decided to head off into the wind, on the basis that it would be easier to come back. A chap we ran into said that the beach went up round the corner of the island for a couple of ks before hitting the esplanade which was the limit of where dogs were allowed. Mysteriously at some point the wind changed and we found ourselves walking into it... how does that work?

We got round the corner and the wind showed no signs of letting up. In fact it was carving shapes in the sand and sprays of sand were rushing away ahead of us. At one point we saw some tyre tracks, presumably from a 4WD, disappearing into the sea. Otherwise there was the odd jellyfish, but the rest of life had obviously decided to hunker down and wait for better weather.

We decided to follow suit and find a place to watch the sunset while eating fish and chips. After having found a suitable spot, then finding a fish and chip shop, the sun set while we were waiting for our food, making it two nights in a row that the sun has ignored our timetable.

Nov 16, 2006

Weird Weather

After yesterday's super-cell storm that whistled over Brisbane, removing the roof of a Baptist Church (insert God comment here) amongst other things, today was a trifle chilly - in fact the coldest November day for six years.

In South Queensland it snowed! How about that!

It was blowy this morning and our gate has been damaged a little. We had to wake Squeaky up at 8.30 to go to Caterpillar Kids. We're looking forward to a lie in tomorrow. Fat chance.

Thursday is now a Bad Dog Day - there isn't time to walk the woofers before the kiddie entertainment starts. We got round to walking them at about half three this afternoon, going just up to the brook as Nicole had a massage appointment for her chronic duff back.

Eloise insisted on going wading in the stream, even though it was swollen after yesterday's rain. Wifey indulged her in this and an entertaining time I'm sure was had by both.
Later we drove up to Mt Glorious road to watch the sunset. We missed the actual sunset, but fires were burning in the valley and it was very pretty. However it was also blooming freezing! We didn't stay long, but Eloise didn't get in to bed until nearly nine, after my lentil and pepper concoction. Maybe a lie in is on the cards after all.

Parasites

Nicole has pointed out that in my last post I said that there would be more later on parasites. I forgot. My bad. How could I.

The "more later" is that... there are two more laters really.

More Later 1
The first is that I gave the dogs their worming tablets in their food this morning. I knew that Matilda would wolf hers down, doubtless thinking it some rare delicacy to be enjoyed to the maximum possible is it hurtled over her taste buds (if she even has any) on its helter skelter ride down to the depths of her gullet. I was somewhat less sure that the more discerning Tiny would munch everything in her bowl except the medicine, and leave them, but I thought what the hell, we'll give it a go and I'll keep an eye and force feed her them afterwards if necessary.

Needless to say, something happened, the nature of which I currently and probably conveniently forget, to distract me from doggy breakfast time and when I got round to checking the bowls both were empty leading me to the likely conclusion that Matilda had eaten both sets of tablets and was likely as far as I knew to be headed for a Drontal overdose with attendant diar hee ho ha, dribbling, fits and death.

I induced vomiting by putting a teaspoonful of salt on the back of her tongue, but needless to say this had no effect.

To paraphrase the call to the vet I then made, she told me not to be so silly, you can't overdose a dog on worming tablets, don't worry. Silly old me.

More Later 2
The second more later is that I was giving Matilda a frisk for concealed weapons earlier today, and found a strange lump just underneath and behind her front left leg, which on further inspection turned out to be... shock horror a paralysis tick! All that frontline and she still picked it up. Half an hour of restraint, struggle and wussiness on the dog's part and the deft use of Nicole's fingernails removed most of the beastie from the dog's skin.

Second call to the vet for the day led us to apply Eucalyptus oil and hope for the best basically. The first things to go will be the back legs apparently. Or the throat.

Twelve hours later, nothing has gone, she's still bounding about as she does, so we're probably out of the woods... famous last words?

Thunderbolts and Lightning Again

Eloise at Samford
Nicole is relieved to have finished a stretch of ten days working with only one day's break in the middle. She now has six days off... all we need to do is fill the time... cheaply!

Whilst the taxpayer has been at work, the parasite (about which more, later) has been out and about having a good time! On Monday, Eloise was dropped off at nursery and once again bawled when left, which was a little heart wrenching. Reportedly though after five minutes she was fine and "in the thick of things." Kier from the nursery said that for the first few times the kids are generally fine but they soon figure out that they are going to be left there for the whole day and get correspondingly upset at the prospect.

On the RocksWe - the dogs and I - then went up to Mount Coot-tha and did the same circuit as last week, in reverse. Once again the result was very knackered dogs. It was quite a hot day also at around 30 degrees and I too was a bit sweaty by the end of it. However to my amazement when we went down to Simpson Falls there was actually a trickle of water falling over it, making it officially a non-fraudulent name, if hyperbolic.

We hung around on Monday afternoon, had lunch, messed about with photos etc. and dropped in at the Vets to picked up working tablets and check out progress on the diet regime.

The good news as that Tiny is up from 17.5kg to a much more healthy 20.2kg. The bad news is that Matilda has gone up from 25kg to 27kg; I can almost hear the hoots of derision echoing around the world. So some further dietetic adjustment is required, and some additional discipline with E. I have noticed the young Eloise, being the caring, sharing, kind individual that she has been encouraged to be, actively seeks out opportunities to give the dogs food, which can be very frustrating if you've just opened a "nutritional snack" (sarcasm implied by quotes is totally intentional, by the way) and she takes a mouthful and hands the rest over to the dogs, or tips half a cup of milk on the floor for the dogs to lick up. What I previously thought of as purely defiant misbehaviour I now suspect has a softer, more caring side also.

Monday night.... I think we watched Thelma and Louise. Not bad... a bit Eighties, i.e. dodgy American rock music with cheesy synth lines.

EucalyptsTuesday Nicole was on a late so we went up to Samford Forest looking for the mythical longer circuit, but failed to find it. Forgot to give the dogs their worming tablets. Cleaned the house from top to bottom. Well, from slightly above the bottom to the bottom anyway. Went swimming. Eloise needs to hold on to the sides of the pool until picked up.

On Wednesday, it was overcast first thing. I went back to Samford Forest, refusing to be defeated in my search for a reasonably long walk there, and found a previously undiscovered outcropping of track halfway up a hill which looked as though it might be heading in the right general direction for the longer circuit, which is on the map, damn it, so must exist! We walked up it for an hour, and it was very steep, especially difficult with Squeezy in the backpack.


After it crested the path wandered around a ridge so we looked down into the forest and could see the tree tops receding into the distance, then distant hills punctuated with the ubiquitous lowbuild houses.

Continuing round the track, it still seemed to be going in the right general direction, but after an hour I started to lose faith as we approached some houses which I wasn't expecting. I decided to cut my losses and head back. Squeaky had been out of the backpack and done some walking and was getting tired, and the sun had come out now and 'twas getting a bit warm. It was only a twenty minute downhill walk back, but she was drooping and fell asleep for about five minutes.

And that was all the sleeping she did that day. I put her down for a nap thinking she'd be out like a light but she gurgled and squawked for half an hour before becoming more insistent and I thought enough was enough there were beans to be eaten.

Storm LoomingTurned on the radio to do some cooking to hear reports of impending storms and looked out of window to observe large, grey, looming wall of cloud. By the time the beans on toast was done, the storm seemed to be impending and lightning flashes were obvious in the distance. The radio was talking of a humdinger which was dropping bucketloads of rain and hail.

Indeed it wasn't long before the thunder started crashing around us. Tiny was getting very excited so I calmed her down and was just about to give her a treat for not barking at some thunder when there was the most god-awful crack like a hundred foot tall Catwoman on steroids doing her worst with a bullwhip. I thought we'd been struck by lightning and maybe some had come down nearby. All I know was that it was immediately followed by crashing thunder and my treat giving was in vain. The wind was howling now and the hail started to fall.

Then before you know it it was over, the skies cleared and the sun came out.

Today the media are saying the storm was as near to a tornado as they get round here, though I think we were on the periphery of it.

Nov 13, 2006

Domestic Duties 101

For the domestically minded among you, in case you're interested (and I'm not saying you should be) and to give you a little flavour of some of the more trivial differences in the way things are done, here is a picture of one of our Australian Washing Lines.

As you can see, this one is under cover, whilst the other is attached to the side of the shed, meaning that it gets direct sunlight. From these differences, using comparative experimental techniques, I can say empirically that direct sunlight and unimpeded wind have a large effect on drying speed and efficacy, whilst ambient air temperature also has a significant contribution to make. This is the trade-off that housewives have to make against the possibility of rain, where such an option exists.

Fun, isn't it?

Nov 11, 2006

Little Miss Picasso


Eloise spent the afternoon drawing abstract works of art on every available surface, mostly paper thankfully, but also magazines, one of her books, till receipts, the wall, and herself. The background music to this creative activity was Elgar and Vaughan Williams, as well as Mahler and Holst. Punctuating the classical music was the somewhat more contemporary Front 242, Future Sound of London and Groove Armada.

Later we drove out to Mt Glorious to take in the sunset. The lookout we went to has a boardwalk which reaches out over the hilltop. It is "conceptually circular" in that you can walk around it, and come back to where you started. It is probably 100 metres around, and you can't see one side from the other as a hill is in the way. Oh the hilarity as I
  1. snapped off a piccie of the sunset, then
  2. chased the child who had run off in the meantime,
  3. chased by the dogs. We didn't know who was chasing who, but Eloise was shrieking with delight the whole time.
  4. I would escort Squeaky then back to the viewpoint.
  5. Repeat until tired.

Beneath Distant Clouds

We got back to find the fullest nappy it has been my dubious please to empty for some quite considerable time. It's possible it could have been my driving. The Mt Glorious road is extremely hairy.

Nov 10, 2006

Little Miss Bossy Boots

Eloise woke up at what I think was probably a reasonable hour but I didn't check. I brought her into bed with us hopeful of getting some extra snooze time. This was successful for about half an hour. Then Eloise sprang into action and tugged at my side of the duvet with a commanding "up" and the toddled off to Neil's side and repeated her command. So, of course we both did!

Nov 9, 2006

On the Subject of Hats


Doesn't Tiny look fetching in this one?

One of My Handkerchiefs is Missing


Hats have been going mysteriously missing for a while now. There were two pink hats, a grey camouflage hat, a little hat with a red rim.

Yesterday before we went out for our morning constitutional I searched high and low for any hats. None could be found. Problem being that when we go out walking, Eloise goes in the backpack, and if she decided she doesn't want to wear her hat any more than she takes it off, then sometimes gives it to me to look after, but sometimes throws it away. Oh the joy of retracing our footsteps looking for chromatic anomalies on the ground. The camouflage hat ironically was always the easiest to spot. I assume she ditched the hat in the forest the other day while we were lost...

Did I mention that we went to Bunyaville Forest on Tuesday? We meant to go to Samford Forest as part of the ongoing dog exercise venue discovery effort. When we arrived there were horse boxes parked in the car park. We aborted and went to plan B, spotting horses out and about in the forest on the way, the kind of horses the dogs really hate and go mental about - i.e. ones with people on their backs.

So we pitched up at Bunyaville forest after driving around for a while because Squeaky had fallen asleep in the back of the car. We parked in a different place and set off into the woods, and happened across a circular path with signposts and informational placards on conservation, tree types, etc. We walked around the circular walk but peaked too early and tramped off in the direction I thought was back to the car, but things started to look increasingly unfamiliar, and one thing led to another....

Two and a half hours later we found our way out. This mishap needless to say was great for the dogs, but bad for Eloise's routine which was somewhat disrupted - to apocalyptic vomit-inducing effect - what with swimming to go to in the afternoon, and because I assume at least she lost her hat there and I didn't notice.

Which kind of brings me back to the point that there was no hat, so I had to improvise, in a Yorkshireman-going-to-the-beach kind of way.

Stylish, or what?

I said, stylish, or.... Oh, I see.

Anyway E didn't respond well and hated swimming, well the dunking parts anyway, and though she ate enormous quantities of Neil's spaghetti and salad, it all ended up on her bedroom floor later on.

Purveyor of fine foods

Today I made a discovery. There is a little organic food shop around the corner from here. I popped in to have a little look around. Excellent, I have now found a local source of Whole Earth Organic Baked Beans and Green & Black's. Unfortunately, they are at hugely inflated prices, but I am sure we can stretch to a little treat every once in a while even on a nurse's income. Life is good!

Additions to the bedtime routine

From early on in Eloise's life we have sticklers for her bedtime routine... bath, hot chocolate, dressed into pyjamas, book, song and cuddle and then bed. In the last couple of weeks Eloise has decided that instead of getting dryed conventionally in a towel she is going to run around the house naked shouting "get me" or "chase me", neither of us can quite work out what she is saying but the meaning is very clear. The Fiorillo house has an open plan kitchen/living room/dining room with an island separating the kitchen from the front lobby. Eloise runs around this island yelling at the top of her voice with initially Neil in slow pursuit, followed by me and then all hell breaks loose as Tiny joins in barking us at us all and then Matilda jumps about too. I think she ends up doing at least 30 laps. No wonder she sleeps well.

Nov 8, 2006

Batty Boat Cruise

Nicole spotted a Batty Boat Cruise which was run by some local wildlife people, the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. It left on Sunday from Mowbray Park and headed up the river for a few hours, to see a bat colony in full effect at dusk. It looked interesting and she was really keen. At dusk bats wheel around over in our house in what up until Sunday seemed like legions and Eloise loves them.

They aren't your common or garden English bats mind you. They have an apparent wingspan of probably a foot or so, and are flying foxes, fruit bats which are harmless but quite noisy at night as they fight over fruit trees in the neighbourhood.

The boat left from a jetty on the park at around 4.45 and by 4.15 quite a few people were already waiting by the quayside as we whiled away the time in the playground watching some parents mete out discipline to their over-excited daughter. A taste of things to come?

The boat arrived and an orderly queue was formed, which Eloise promptly and contemptuously walked straight to the front of and straight down the ramp. Even if the Aussies were prepared to put up with this, they weren't about to let us get away with it, so we let a couple of people through and then pushed in.

The boat was open-topped but with a hard sun cover on it. We managed to get some seats right at the front. It was quite a hot day but as the boat set off the air passing through kept us reasonably cool. Nicole had had the foresight to suggest long trousers all round, from the insects point of view as well as the coldness, and with the breeze and the imminent onset of dusk this was a bright move. The first time I've worn long trousers in six weeks; quite a strange feeling.

The boat moved West up the river, passing through the city centre. The skyscrapers towered over us as we chugged past under the Story Bridge, and various other bridges. Citycats whooshed by occasionally and the boat rolled in their wake but otherwise the river was very calm.

As we moved out to the West of the city past Indooroopilly we passed beneath the newly constructed Green Bridge. The previously urban river banks gave way to forests on one side and steep cliff banks on the other, on top of which perched some pretty spectacular houses. Soon the sun began to set. We were treated to quite a beautiful spectacle. Some rainy looking clouds had rolled in from the West and the sun shone beneath them creating a lovely yellow glow, which was revealed to us as we rounded a bend in the river.

Eloise was starting to get tetchy as this was around tea time. We bought her off with chocolate, fruit juice, and date and walnut cake.

A commentary had been underway for quite some time, but now we started to pay attention as it became clear that we were getting close to our destination. The odd winged shape moved overhead through the gathering dusk and we could hear the shrill cries in the distance.

It seems that these flying foxes are fruit bats which eat most fruits they can get their hands on, and that continuing urbanisation is a Godsend for them as people like to have fruit trees in cities. Out in the sticks the bats are reviled as they are quite noisy and there have been some health scares revolving around them being carriers of Ross River Virus, a reasonably unpleasant disease, but according to our loudspoken bat expert these scares were just that, and blown out of all proportion.

Now we knew we were getting there as the numbers of bats increased. We could see them flapping around in the trees to our right hand side. Then the sky simply filled up with masses and masses of them, wheeling around in the air. Literally thousands, and I do not use the word "literally" lightly, as a bat person when asked estimated that this colony has a population of at least 40,000. And bats aren't high flyers; they were flapping around literally tens of feet above our heads, though I admit I might be using the word "literally" lightly there.

As the minutes marched on there just seemed to be more and more of them in the air, and the wildlife geeks were goggling at the sight as well, eulegising over the loudspeaker system about how this was the best outing they'd ever seen. We felt quite lucky.

The trip back was hugely entertaining, as Eloise decided she'd quite like to learn how to use my camera and got very upset when we tried to relieve her of it. Nicole's thighs, at least what I think of as thighs were getting quite sore from Squeaky's fidgeting and foot stamping. She had
to be bought off with hot chocolate.

It was completely dark by the time we got back to the city and saw it for the first time nocturnally, as it were. There's a certain je ne says quar (that's my franglais creeping in there) about cities at night. Eloise was delighted by it, though that might have been the hot chocolate. Delighted within the contraints of being very very tired that is.

The boat called in at South Bank for a while with technical problems. We were there for probably twenty minutes while on the spot repairs were made. I was thinking we might have to walk the rest of the way through the South Bank Parklands. Nicole seemed quite keen. But the boat got cracking again and soon we were back at Mowbray Park, realising that to walk it would have been much further than we thought. We made sure we were the first off the boat, and dragging a flagging child up the hill, got into the car. After a twenty minute drive, if that, we whisked a sleeping Eloise out and to bed without so much as a bath or a change into pyjamas.

In the morning she smelt absolutely awful.

Nov 6, 2006

Dogs Tired

Today's recreational activities involved a lie-in - Eloise didn't wake up til 7.45 - frantic breakfast eating and dressing and suncream application and bag packing and dog feeding and car loading and delivery to Nursery by ten past nine which was pretty remarkable by the standards I set myself these days.

Eloise had been, I thought, quite enthusiastic, but when I left her at Nursery she bawled and it was a little heart rending.

Nevertheless onwards and upwards - literally - to Mount Coot-tha where we drove around to the North (I think) side of Samuel Griffiths Drive, which is a very large circular road which encircles the environs of the mountain. We found an anonymous place to stop with a little path leading down into the valley which suggested a circular walk was 520m away. So down we went, and we were down there for about two and a half hours of quite steep hill climbing and general doggy good times. According to the signs the circular walk was 2820m in length, so my maths tells me we must've walked 3860 metres... well it felt a lot further than that, and when we got back and I opened the car boot to get the dogs' water out Matilda leapt immediately into the boot and wouldn't come out - and it's not the sort of boot that has a window; in America they would probably call it a "trunk."

The landmark on the walk was Simpson's Falls. It was as dry as a bone. No falling happening whatsoever. Quite Brazilian, James.

Then up to Camp Mountain which has lovely views over the D'Aguilars to Brisbane and across Moreton Bay.

We got home around 2ish. Tiny retired to the sofa and Matilda had to go an lie down in a darkened room.

Then after some fiddling (lunch) and shopping, picked up Eloise who was very much happier and had a lovely day.

Nicole switched to a long day today but got left over early so got back in time to see something of the aftermath of the Chickpea Croquettes with Coriander Raita and Cucumber Salad wot I cooked. Yoghourt is always popular.

Eloise is become quite articulate in her outbursts. Unfortunately they are nonsense. Words and phrases of the week are, and there is some translation and possibly some imagination going on here, "Get Down," "Shoes," "Juice," "Chase Me," "Poo," and "Go." We're working on "Stop." I think it may be important.

Nov 5, 2006

Name tags

Eloise is enrolled at the Lady Ramsey Child Care Centre every Monday to give Neil a day of rest. At their request all of Eloise's clothes are now named. As they were iron in labels I ended up ironing all her clothes too. They look lovely when they are all ironed, but really life is too short and there are plenty of better things to be doing.

Nov 4, 2006

Time is all messed up

I can't still be jetlagged, but time seems to be moving at a different speed to normal. We have been in Brisbane for very nearly two months but it feels like we have been here for ages. I think it is because everything is still very new. Is it because our English summer was so focused upon the move to Australia that life still feels like a whirlwind? I wander if the season change has anything to do with it as we are moving towards summer again and won't experience a proper winter for a while.

I worked nights last week and still seem to be tired from then. The nights were really hard going as we had some very ill patients. I think three people were transferred to intensive care. I am struggling with this working full-time business. I really miss Eloise and now know what Neil had to put up with last year. At the time I didn't really think about how this was for Neil. I love to hear about their day and what they have been up to and even catch myself thinking about what they are up to when I am at work sometimes. I am about to start a ten day run with only one day off in the middle. I think it is going to be hard going.

Every now and again I have to pinch myself that we are really here. It generally occurs at 6:30am on my way to work. The trees are all coming out into flower and leaf and are so beautiful. The flowers are much brighter and bigger than you would expect on English trees. As I cycle up Jean Street I am usually smiling like a woman possessed whilst cycling hard up the hill. I am just glad that not too many people are out and about at that time of the morning. This is definitely as wonderful time of year for any of you that are thinking of visiting. We have had rain for about 24 hours, although I guess if you were on holiday this would not be very pleasing. But the rain is very impressive as it is hard but the temperature remains fairly warm, although saying that I am in my skiing jumper with an attractive sock and flip flop look going on. I ran about putting the hanging baskets out onto the wooden deck as they are too sheltered where they are hanging. Eloise seems to enjoy the rain. She goes outside and then comes back under cover and rubs her head with a very inquisitive look about her.

Spirits Dampened

Young Eloise wasn't so bad today as yesterday, but woke up in the middle of last night and came into bed with us. Tossing and turning was done in copious quantities, resulting in parental sleeping being done in apparently miniscule quantities. Decision to have quiet day today, heavily influenced by heavy, constant rain.

Oz TV on a Saturday morning consists of chart and music video shows, seemingly dominated by heavy rock and crap cartoons.

Eloise was quite jolly to start off with but tired quickly and after a sleep was quite ill again, mewling away and obviously feeling seriously crook, as they say in these parts. Nicole gave her drugs and after a while she perked up, but after lunch (which she ate in bulk) was getting tired again so off to bed.

I went out to a Photography market, leaving Nicole to study. I thought I would just nip back to get my camera, in case anything came up that I might need to test with it, to find her plucking her metaphorically bleeding eyebrows. Honestly you need to watch that woman like a hawk.

I found my way to Cathedral Village, the mooted venue, after driving round the block a couple of times, then I drove round the block a further four times attempting to locate a driving space. I eventually gave in and parked in the Chinatown Carpark for a flat $8, and immediately turned the wrong way out of the door, walking through a soaking Brunswick St Market in entirely the wrong direction. Across the road some Chinese were protesting about the Communists harvesting body parts from Falun Gong adherents for transplantation. Lovely.

Eventually I realised my mistake and turning around, running across unsheltered zones, dodging meditating hippies, and playing pedestrian crossing in the pouring rain very carefully, arrived at the market only partly drenched to find out that because it was raining noone had turned up.

Marvelous.

So as I had lost another lens cap the other day and really needed a new one, and knew there was a Camera Shop in the Indooroopilly market, so off I went. Not thinking really... what's the ideal day to go to a Mall on the car? When it's raining. I spent a good half an hour trying to find a parking place for a miserable ten minutes shopping. Then home. Two and a half hours later.

Not much else happened today. Lentil and Coriander with Hard Boiled Eggs for tea. Must remember in future to lower eggs gently into water with spoon to avoid hard evacuated eggs. Never mind eh!

Eloise ate like a horse. She is feeling much better. Thankfully.

Still for all the rain they say out in the sticks it's the best rain they've had for fifteen years. Though if experience is anything like England, it won't make any difference to the drought, as it will be the wrong kind of rain or something.

Blog surprise

I have a habit of clicking on the "next blog" icon in the upper right hand (yes, I am right, it is the hand with the watch) of the screen. This button should contain a health warning. I was confronted by a big fat white bottom and a big black erect penis! I don't know for certain but I think it made me blush. All I can say is browse at your peril...

Nov 3, 2006

Squeaky Piquey

Here is a picture to keep you Grannies happy content. The music in question was Basement Jaxx, which Eloise appreciated.

Today Eloise has come down with something or other. She has been feeling increasingly warm over the last day or two and has been a little under the weather for a little while now. We met up with Nicole this afternoon at the optician (Nicole will sometime get round to telling you how she lost her prescription sunglasses, along with her new Composter and the CD she discovered, etc etc) and she had some hot chocolate with a cook ie and cream. When we got back she was starting to feel properly feverish so we gave her some Calpol type stuff and she was promptly yacking up this foul smelling puke. Poor thing. She's asleep now with the window open and the ceiling fan on and feels a lot cooler.

Hopefully she'll be back on form tomorrow as Nicole has found out about an Art and Photography market down in Fortitude Valley which we fancy going along to, and it's our Bat Boat Expedition on Sunday, so young Squeaky needs to be fighting fit for that!

Nov 2, 2006

North


'Twas Nicole's day off yesterday so we thought we would do something nice. We thought we might go up to Bribie Island mit die Hunden fur Sonnen und schwimmen but decided in the end to go up to Moolooloobah to a doggy beach we saw many years ago (weeks actually, it just seems like years) which Nicole remembered as being dog friendly. I had also found out a lookout point over the Glass House Mountains which I fancied a go at, and which we could take in on the way back home.

About an hour later we were there, and the surf was roaring in, with probably a couple of feet worth of breakers. Nothing too extreme.

We walked up the beach a little way and staked out our spot. There was a fresh breeze, if that's the right term, and it wasn't too hot. We were all jolly happy little paddly people and animals. I threw balls for the dogs with my Big Red Ball Thrower and the dogs ran into the sea until a wave came towards them. Then they stopped running into the sea, and ran out of the sea, decided discretion was the better part, etc. etc. and besides I seemed to paddle in and get the ball when it got washed back in anyway. The currents as the surf washed out again were very strong - so we got Squeaky in there.

The moon was high in the sky - and rising - and if I'd put two and two together I would have realised that this meant that the tide was coming in, and that we should probably expect the odd big wave to come in behind me when I wasn't looking and while Nicole and Eloise weren't looking, wooshing up and soaking poor Sproggy, spilling her off her feet, as well as dampening my derriere to boot.

Things went downhill from there as Eloise obviously didn't think we were giving her the care and attention she really deserved. She whinged bitterly until we decided to call it a day (after we'd had some fun games with the dogs, paddled around a lot, and been swimming - well I say swimming, I suppose really it was slightly braver paddling with swimming costumes on).

So we picked up a pizza and some beer (yes, for Nicole) on the way down to the Bruce Highway and we got down to Wild Horse Mountain about 5.45 with the sun getting low in the sky. It wasn't far off the Bruce but a sign informed us there was a 700 metre steep climb to get to the lookout. Ugh!

Off we went and it was hard going I can tell you. I wanted to snappy snap so I was in a bit of a rush, but Matilda was much more interested in sniffing the undergrowth. Nicole offered to take Matilda, which I appreciated as I had Sproggy on my back and my legs were hurting, and I hot footed it up the hill, once hearing impolitenesses from behind as Nicole was pulled off her feet.

Up at the top was a covered gallery. A proper photographer was there with a very nice Panoramic camera was there, I might have to get one of those... a snip at only several thousand pounds.

Looking out over the Glass House Mountains though the view was quite eye boggling. Picturesque wouldn't really do it justice. The mountains were laid out beneath us like, well, steep bumps in the land, but until you see them all together you don't really understand how steep, bumpy, and unnatural they look, poking as they do out of gently undulating flat land all around.

So I took a couple of piccies, and was quite pleased with myself until I realised that I'd lost my third lens cap in as many months, and my lens was not as clean as it could be. Which is to say it probably couldn't have been much dirtier. Still you can't tell that sort of thing in the dark, and I didn't realise until we got home. Oh well!

Still it was very nice looking out over the spectacular vista as the sunsetting, munching on pizza and drinking chahocalola with my wife, my daughter and my dogs. Eloise was running around staring at strange people and the dogs were barking and whining, tied up as they were at the far side of the railings. Nicole was the only well-behaved one out of the lot of them. I gave the dogs some pizza.