Dec 31, 2006

Fireworks

Fireworks The Water Lookout lived up to its name.

It took about twenty minutes to walk up there for the 9 o'clock fireworks. The view of the city was very good. It looks totally different when lit up at night. We could see the hospital where Nicole works in the distance ahead of us, then further on the skyscrapers of the CBD.

We milled about among the 50-odd people there. Eloise managed to make some friends and was given a blue light stick which rapidly got exchanged for... yes, a pink one.

On the dot of nine o'clock, guess what, it started to rain. Not very hard, though, and not enough to get rid of us. We watched the fireworks blossom from above the skyscrapers.

Life is rosie

This morning I dressed Eloise in her purple knitted dress with the lilac star on the front pocket. She was adamant she didn't want her nappy on with a vocal chorus of "no no no". Later, after breakfast I was fetching in the dried washing off the line to make way for the new freshly washed washing when she spyed the dress that Grandma Mary bought her for Chrsitmas and she pointed at this and started taking off the dress she had on already. She is certainly becoming a pink girlie girl against all of Neil and mine best efforts.

Neil reliably tells me this evening that Eloise now says the work "pink".

Okay, you all win... we lose... big time. What have you started? Atleast she has plenty of tomboy characteristics. She will be a pink peril.

Dec 30, 2006

A Tea Time to Remember

It all started to go wrong when the bag of rice split. The water was boiling, the leeks were frying. The peppers were on the grill. The rice went everywhere.

Eloise was emptying out the pan cupboard. Noisily. Matilda was, well, being Matilda, and snooping around waiting from manna from heaven.

The smoke alarm went off. Did I say smoke alarm? I meant heat alarm. It goes off whenever the heat in the kitchen varies by more than a couple of degrees. It's very loud. You fix it by blowing hard in its general direction.

The lentils went on to the leeks, and Eloise decided she wanted some milk. So she hung on to my shorts shouting "Daa'ee!! More!! Pease!" until I relented. With a straw.

The alarm went off.

My concentration hampered, I attempted to get rid of some of the excess rice that was occupying portions of the hob.

Whilst engaged in this I temporarily became, how shall we say, aloof from the peppers.

The alarm went off.

The lentils were doing fine, the rice needed another five minutes. Eloise had put down the milk and was now playing frisbee with trays.

I remembered that the peppers existed.

Peeling peppers is a bastard. It takes me ages because I haven't figured out a quick way to do it yet. Especially when they're hot and you're in a race against time and the other cooking.

The alarm didn't go off.

I put Eloise in her high chair with her milk.

I decanted things, mixed them together, and served up.

I went over to the table. Eloise's milk was no longer in the cup. It was all over the chair, the floor and the dogs.

I vented my frustration on the dogs by banishing them to another room, and fetched more milk for the Monkey. Mopped up the milk, which was all over the place, with kitchen towel, while she giggled at me. Went to put kitchen towel in recycling bin.

Recycling bin had been removed from casing. Had been placed in middle of table and covered with tea towel.

Frustration built to a low growl in the larynx and a slight bulging of the eye sockets.

Sat down, took deep breath, started to eat. Eating went well for a few minutes. Eloise then decided she wanted to pur her milk all over her food. When she decides to do this she slowly tips her cup, looking you straight in the eye with a knowing smile on her face which says "Go on. Stop me. Try it."

We had a tug of war over the cup of milk, with me calmly stating my disapproval through repeated use of the word "No" and her feverishly stating hers through repeated use of the word "No." And squeals.

Something had to give; the cup flew away across the room, milk flying everywhere.

My calm "No"s gave way to a roar of animal rage and frustration and my eyes bulged until they pushed my spectacles off my face. My T-shirt began to stretch across my biceps... oh hang on, you can probably tell I'm exaggerating now.

As I mopped up, underneath the high chair, Eloise patted my head a ruffled my hair, and I couldn't help myself smiling.

The cheeky little bugger.

Scout

Brisbane I spent the afternoon with Eloise strapped into the back of the car scouting out locations from which to espy the fireworks which will light up the city tomorrow.

We mooched around Grange on the city-side of the hill then down to Ashgrove and Paddington to some likely looking spots, and there are some decent views but you need to be camped out in front of someone's house, which wouldn't be ideal.

We were thinking of going up to Mount Coot-tha so we went up there and checked it out, and indeed the view would be very good, but Nicole was talking to some people at work amd guess what, everybody else will have the same idea too. So I checked the possibilities of the road leading up there, but nothing doing I think, too many trees.

When we got back I was talking to the neighbour Peter and he said "I know where you can go that's only 400 metres from here and it'll knock the socks off anything else" and he went and got his keys and drove us up to this hidden-away covered reservoir on a hill not far from where we live. It has 360 degree views of all the city, and we looked up the D'Aguilar Mountains and out across to Moreton Bay, then South to the city.

It looks like a likely spot. 400 metres seems a bit hopeful, but it's definitely walking distance.

Dec 29, 2006

Blossoming

Pink Blossoms Nicole was on a late today, so she partook in the morning routine. She complained about, but I think secretly enjoyed the morning viewing from the cringeworthy "Big, Big, World" with the most incredibly patronising West-Coast American Three-Toed Sloth you can possibly imagine through to Bananas in Pyjamas by way of Charlie & Lola which she (we're still talking Nicole here) loves.

Then we went on a bike ride up the Brook, all 3km there and back with babe and dogs in tow, which was fun. The sun is out again today, hurrah!

I lashed up a salad for lunch to go with some hummus from the fridge and toast, then Nicole went off to work with us waving goodbye from the gate. Eloise ran after her up the road, which was slightly, but only slightly, reminscent of a scottish camping trip in the Tay Forest when Tiny chased Nicole up the road as she went to get supplies one time. Only differences: Nicole was driving, and Tiny caught her. Ahhhh, back in the days when Tiny could run like the flaming clappers for prolonged distances.

Squeaky went down for a nap with only limited "No"s and slept for a couple of hours, then we hopped back onto the bike and went to the bakery in search of bread and croissants, neither of which was on the menu owing to the bakery being closed.

So we (I) cycled back the way we had come, down and across the Brook and back up the other side to Stafford where we went to Fresco's and got the supplies we needed.

We stopped off at a playground on the way back and played on the slides for a while, which Eloise loved, as there was a wood bridge and a metal tunnel there which could be banged and clanged on to great comic effect.

Then I thought it would be a great idea to take the dogs out for another walk and see if Eloise would be more progress-orientated if she was pushing her new pram. This went pear shaped shortly before we reached the front gate as the pram got ditched in the excitement, but it was too late to turn back.

It took us half an hour to get to the Brook, all of four hundred metres, as gates, dogs, ants, kerbs and (tennis) balls all had to inspected and played with where possible.

Similar approaches were taken to crossing the brook, which was frankly a bit hairy as the flow was getting towards being semi-prodigious and any reasonable crossing point was literally hours of travel away, ie 500 metres or perhaps even more.

I don't remember if I recounted the story here about the woman who fell into the brook up to her neck after it was swollen from a storm a few months ago while we were debating whether to cross a tributary, but this same tributary faced us on our agonisingly slow passage back home. Flippy-floppies - sorry, thongs - came off and wading was done at this point. My skill as a forder of inhospitable bodies of water is obviously greater. No harm came unto us.

By the time we got back home (Eloise had to collect some of the flowers fallen from the tree pictured above) two hours had passed and it was tea time.

Now you may have picked up on Eloise having become a little more assertive of late. Her favourite word is definitely now "No." Her favourite phrase is now "No, No, No, No, No!!" It's a little wearing. We are trying to look on it as a gesture of independence. She is certainly becoming more independent, wanting to do everything for herself, and rejecting many apparently reasonable proposals out of hand. For instance, "Would you like some milk Eloise?" (thinks) "No." "With a straw?" (thinks) "No." "Some juice then?" (thinks) "Juice" (thinks) "No." (milk handed to Eloise) Eloise drinks milk.

Another day of amazing accomplishment then.

Dec 28, 2006

The End of the Rain

Waiting The dogs scratched at 5am this morning, wanting out, which is not that unusual at the moment but is still annoying. My normal tactic is to lie there and pretend it isn't happening, eventually my patience runs out. Nicole's patience runs out sooner.

On the bright side it gave her a chance to engage the booster on the hot water, which is solar heated and so not that hot after the last couple of cool overcast days.

I slumbered, vaguely aware of showers happening and breakfast TV, the next I knew Squeaky was squawking to be let up.

She hasn't been eating so well at breakfast recently which we put down to having it too soon after getting up, so we footled about for a while, I can't remember doing what... I may have been in bed at the time. Eloise probably handed me my glasses, shouted at me, pulled my hair, or all three. I could convincingly construct a memory to that effect anyway.

So we got up... watched some telly... played with the random animal cubes... put some croissants on, ladled out some yoghourt... and the croissants went down a treat while we watched Little Princess, Little Robots etc. I switched over the Channel 7 for Breakfast TV but Eloise didn't find that enjoyable so we watched Peppa Pig and Charlie&Lola instead.

After a while I started to attain what might obliquely be referred to as consciousness and observed in a dispassionate way that it seemed no longer to be raining, though the cool and overcast continued.

Then off we went to the forest for what I hoped would be a trek and a half, but Eloise began flagging after climbing up and down too many hills so we opted for the shorter version after all.

After a kip and lunch we tootled off to the library and were joined there by Nicole. We borrowed many books. Which is good, as we were short on fresh reading material.

We played at the playground for a while until Eloise slipped out of the swing whilst in full effect, which was a bit frightening at the time but she doesn't seem to be damaged other than a little bump on the head. Oooops!!

She was well enough to non-verbally chat up a little boy at the playground anyway and play on the slides.

Later, Nicole did experience a tantrumette (which sounds like some Buddhist ritual doesn't it?), which she tells me she failed to take seriously though it didn't look like that from where I was lying.

Other than that it's washing, washing, washing, cooking, washing, hanging, drying, cooking.

Dec 27, 2006

Christmas Lights

Lights I took this while Eloise was happening to the lights. Whilst I was unsnarling them afterwards they ceased to be lights unfortunately.

Rain Falls

Rain Falls It has been raining for the last 48 hours now, fairly lightly, so maybe it's the kind of rain that will go into the ground rather than run straight off.

Yesterday, I gave Nicole a lift into work and she got a lift back. Today she braved the drizzle on her bike.

We went for a walk to the Brook after she left for work today, after a morning of not really wanting to go out, on my part at least. There was a break in the rain which we took advantage of, though it started again later. Eloise has now worked out how to work the taps on the dog water dispensers. This kept her occupied for quite some time! The Brook was, needless to say, practically deserted.

Nicole had hung some Christmas lights over the door downstairs. Whilst I was preparing supper, Eloise happened to them. Oh well.

Dec 26, 2006

Aussie Jingle Bells

Check out this Aussie version of Jingle Bells. We heard it on the radio while we were doing the cooking yesterday. It had us in stitches! Well, I say stitches... it had us jigging around the kitchen. Well, I say jigging... it had us tapping our feet. Well, I say tapping... it had us shouting "OI!" at the appropriate moments.

Oh, what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute!

I'm Dreaming of a Pink Christmas

Presents Eloise, in her new pink pushchair, wearing her new pink dress with accompanying pink cardigan.

She loves pink. She loves pushchairs and dolls. She loves dressing up and dresses. Why?

Dec 25, 2006

Run Silent Run Deep

Run Silent Run Deep We were at Kedron Brook this morning and ran into a couple who were over from Perth.

They had four little scotty dogs who chased Tiny around in the brook; quite slowly, because they had to swim with their little legs whilst Tiny could adopt a stately strategy to her evasive manoeuvres as she was able to walk.

Xmas Barbie

Xmas Barbie After a chilled-out Christmas day of present opening, Skyping, light lunching, and falling-asleep-in-the-hammocking (oh, and cooking) we went out to the beach, and walked up on what's turned out to be a quite warm afternoon with a nice breeze.

On the beach it turned into more of a fairly strong wind, but under cover it was fine, so we availed ourselves of the public bbq, after looking at the imposing looking raincloud which was closing from the west and deciding to have a go at first course even if we couldn't manage dessert.

So four tofu/pepper/tomato kebabs later for me, prawns/lamb/etc for Nicole plus various salads, we laid back as the dogs barked at the ibis hanging around in the car park. Eloise drove her little pram around wot she got as a present today, dressed in her luminous pink dress wot she also got as a present today and I left the video camera wot I got as present today on and ran the batteries out... I think.

Some Japanese people were there, singing along quite badly to a guitar in what seemed like Karaoke only without the synthesiser backing track... but Eloise was jigging along quite merrily. Must work on "taste."

We've had a nice day. We hope you have a nice day too.

Happy Christmas.

Dec 24, 2006

New hope for English Cricket Team

Eloise has been practising her throwing skills for a few weeks now and has a mean over arm. Today she caught a tennis ball and a green tomato. It really is pityful having to use the dog toys and fruit from the garden as sports equipment. We just need to work on her batting and then those Australians will be quaking in their boots, or whatever you wear on your feet when you play cricket.

Dec 23, 2006

Changes

Wingnut Eloise must be growing.

She slept in until 9am again, and has been, or has at least given the appearance of being tired all day.

This evening after Nicole left for work I was the witness of a force 10 tantrum, with screams echoing around the house for the pettiest of reasons - dress coming off, shoes coming off, getting into the bath, hot chocolate. You name it, it was screamed at. I maintained an aloof calmness throughout, naturally.

We went to the beach this morning and spent a pleasant couple of hours there. I waded around, Nicole was going to do some swimming but the water wasn't deep enough. She put on her bikini though I'm not allowed to share any pictures due to some strange body dismorphic thnig going on. Otherwise she and Eloise sat in the shade of a mangrove tree.

On the way back there was a bang and a crash from the back of the car then a deeply unpleasant grinding noise. A tyre had blown out. Whilst I got the tyre changing kit out of the back of the car, Nicole walked back down the road to see what we'd run over. There were all sorts of little pieces of metal by the side of the road, which we figured were because the road is on the way to the landfill site.

Nicole got back after a while and soon after a guy pulls up in his Ute, having seen Nicole walking down the road and asks us if we're in need of help - what a nice chap! No sooner do I ask him whether he thinks I've got the jack in the right place than he says "I love changing tyres" and who am I to deny a not-dying man his wish?

He beavered away for about five minutes and then got up, job done, and drove away back the way he came from! As they say in these parts, but I don't, "Good Job!!"

So in the afternoon I nipped up to Beaurepaires and got a replacement tyre, only just finding somewhere that was actually open on Christmas Eve Eve after lunch.

I can't believe it's Christmas in two days time. It was 28 degrees here today and glorious sunshine. I think I caught the sun on the back of my neck.

We're debating whether to have our Xmas Barby here in the back yard or at the beach. Decisions decisions. Oh, and shopping, shopping.

Dec 22, 2006

First hand tick experience

I think I must have slept for a good 12 hours last night only to be woken by Neil jumping up and down on the bed swatting mosquitos. It is the best nights sleep I have had this month and consequently woke up feeling drunk on sleep. We were sat having breakfast when my right foot started itching. I looked down and saw what I thought was a scab so tried to pick it but it wouldn't come off. On closer inspection I realised that it was a tick! For first hand medical advice I rang the dogs' vet who said to remove it and ring the human vets. There were no morning appointments available but the nurse said if I thought the head had been removed it shouldn't cause me any problems. Nothing like a tick bite to cause major paranoia... I thought the pain in my ankle was the paralysis setting in until Neil told me I had been complaining of the same pain yesterday. I have kept the tick by the front door on a piece of toilet paper in case I collapse and require emergency treatment. When I got home from work Neil asked how the tick site was and I have to admit that I had only given it one brief thought whilst at work.

Knock Knock

Oh the jolly times we have had today. I have sat outside the front door and knocked. Eloise has opened the door, looked around it, giggled at the sight of me, and closed it again. I have repeated from step one.

Isn't learning marvelously fulfilling for teacher and pupil alike.

Insects, Arachnids and Amphibians

Insects
When I went to bed last night there were a couple of mosquitoes doddering around the ceiling. I thought I would squish them, as is normally my habit, but Nicole was asleep and had been for a couple of hours - splayed out on the bed in her pyjamas, where she had collapsed - and I did not want to disturb her as she had been disturbed last night and had trouble getting back to sleep.

I awoke about 3am with very itchy legs. I got out of bed and liberally applied pawpaw cream to them (yes, pawpaw, not a prickly pear) as this apparently helps, and as I came to reeled in horror at the sight of my poor pins looking like they'd been transplanted from a plague victim.

I overcame my reluctance to squish. I squished.

In the morning I counted the damage. 35+ bits on my legs. They ITCH LIKE MAD.

Arachnids
I don't know whether it's prudent for me to divulge this, so I will circuitously hint and leave NICOLE to CROSS? off any questions you might have, and just say that the VET suggested she call a doctor about her foot. (don't worry, it's nothing serious... hopefully)

Amphibians
I saw my first live cane toads, I think it was the day before yesterday, hopping into the undergrowth in our back garden. They're big buffers, they are!

Dec 21, 2006

Libation

Just a Sip Of course, young Eloise's accidents may have had something to do with the bubbly a certain Mrs Gavin allowed her to sample.

Just a sip! Hmmm.

Our Anniversary

Anniversary 'Twas on this day two years ago that Nicole walked down the aisle of the Ipswich Register Office to the tune of the Throne Room March from Star Wars.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then!

Squeaky, Australia...

We went to a Nepalese Restaurant in Paddington to celebrate. I was totally bowled over when Nicole presented me with a new wedding ring to replace the one I lost ages ago and never got round to replacing, for various reasons which I don't need to go into here. It made my present of a Beatles CD to her seem... paltry.

Given that it's our coal anniversary, or water, or dust or something, how is she going to upstage that?

The food was very good, and Eloise was on top form, running around like a pink-arsed fly. All was well until she decided to run helter skelter down a concrete slope and fell flat on her face before she could be caught.

Her other accident was trapping her fingers in the sliding door at the back of the house.

Neither injury is serious.

Today's other milestone was that Eloise managed to reach the door handle of the front door, and open it. Oh dear.

Dec 20, 2006

Just... Keep... Going...

Still Going Well if 4am was a bad time to start your day yesterday, I imagine you'd be pretty jarred off to wake up at 2am and not be able to get to sleep, with a 12 hour early shift as your first day back at work to look forward to!

Poor old Nicole. I was vaguely aware of a text message that arrived about 7.45 and when I got up and read it, it was from Nicole saying that she'd forgotten her cards, keys, and bike lock and could we please drop them off?

So we tootled down to the hospital for around 9am, dialled the wrong number to let her know we'd arrived, making some poor nurse attempt to track Nicole down because after all I insisted she did work there.... never having been (or remember being) told the name of Nicole's ward which I know now has the inspirational name of "5C."

So we met her by the lift, dressed in the height of this year's fashion, viz. Wellington boots, and what I assume were these "Scrubs" things but might as well have been low-cost pyjamas for the criminally insane.

Since we were headed in that direction anyway, we went to Coot-Tha and did the circuit we generally do on a Monday, except with a back-pack and a child in it. I think it's what they call "yomping" although strictly speaking that may involve actual jogging.

Whenever Eloise was let out to walk, progress immediately came to an almost complete stand still, with Matilda exploring, Tiny waiting patiently, and me looking on good-naturedly (honestly) while Eloise performed some obviously essential task like clearing the leaves off the path. With a stick.

Whenever Eloise ensconced in back pack, progress excellent, though legs are feeling it a bit now. Somewhat short of breath at various points. Probably good exercise.

So... two hours later we finished up with some very tired dogs and a very tired Eloise.

Rest of the day spent sleeping, shopping, etc.

Nicole came back at 7.45pm, very tired. In bed by 8.30, after consuming Haloumi with Spiced Leeks w/ Rice. Haloumi fried excellently, I thought.

Dec 19, 2006

Must... Keep... Going...

Nepalese Temple Nicole woke up at some unearthly hour this morning, I vaguely noticed. She took the dogs out for a walk up the brook at 6am and we slept on. Eloise woke up when she got back, and I slept on. I got up about 8 o'clock.

We decided that the best strategy for keeping Nicole awake all day was to leap into instant action, so after thinking about it for a while we decided to cruise into town and go to the South Bank park which is a bit of a tourist trap for the locals and features cinemas, museums, an artificial beach, etc.

We toddled along there, and hung around for a couple of hours. Nicole hadn't been there before (I walked through it one fairly dreary day a while ago) and was quite impressed, with the artificial beach in particular which was in good use, and with a Nepalese temple we encountered after a rainforest walk. Eloise had a nice time playing on pipe-slides and spiral slides at a little playground.

We got back and had lunch then we all went to bed for a couple of hours (I put in a couple of hours kip for the sake of solidarity, obviously) then walked the dogs up at the brook again where we met up with some people we have met.

After supper, yes lentils, which Eloise absolutely demolished, and a bath it was off to bed for Eloise and fairly shortly afterwards Nicole who fell asleep after ten minutes on the sofa.

Leaving muggins... I think I'll go and read Harry Pot Pot.

Dec 18, 2006

She's Back

Nicole "I want my mummy" said Eloise yesterday. I'm sure I didn't imagine it. "Mummy mummy mummy" we chanted in the car. I wanted to train her to say "Are you my mummy" then maybe hawk her out for parts on Dr Who but that proved a little ambitious.

We had to hang around a little while at the airport as the flight was late and Chris tried to smuggle in some Marmite, or at least failed to declare it, but heventuallee out they popped, up we popped, and after some cuddles off we popped home. No text message nonsense this time, there was nowhere to hide behind. We did make some signs during the day, but I thought that would probably backfire.

Anyway she's back and we're all mightily relieved. Eloise took a few minutes to get used to the idea but inviegled her way back into her mother's affections by way of the tactic of gazingly lovingly into her eyes and stroking her hair all the way home.

The real result was, they weren't hungry so I didn't have to cook!

Nicole got up early this morning to get Chris to the airport and off to NZ so he can get back to keeping things green. Eloise went to the Nursery and we matched round Coot-tha. It is Monday after all. Then we popped until Wilston for a low-key celebratory meal with chips, then to the cinema to see James Bond which was pretty good.

She (Nicole) has been on good form but started to flake out around 5, when we picked up Eloise. She lasted til 8 o'clock and is now comatose.

Dec 16, 2006

24 Hours


In 24 hours time I will hopefully be at Brisbane Airport waiting pensively - but probably actually chasing Eloise around - for Nicole to walk through Arrivals and into my arms. Perhaps I will hide somewhere and send a cheesy text for old time's sake.

It seems like a geological epoch has passed since she left and I have missed her terribly from day to day, but I think I can feel reasonably proud of myself as neither Eloise nor I have developed any sort of complaint that can be attributed to malnutrition or neglect... that I've noticed.

Although from the neglect point of view, for logistical and prioritisation reasons the dogs didn't get a walk today. In fact we didn't actually leave the house. It has threatened to rain all day and Eloise was very tired in the morning so daringly I actually put her to bed around 11am and she slept for three hours. By the time she woke up a storm was coming in and it poured with rain for several hours. 50km or so North of here in the Glass House Mountains someone was struck by lightning as a massive storm front moved across the state with 200kmh+ winds. All we got was some thunder and a bit of a downpour. If you're interested, and you're probably not, you can see a Brisbane weather radar here.

Anyway besides all that and the doggy agititation that went with it, we've had a nice day and Squeaky was in bed by seven.

I'll probably do a bit of housework tomorrow and spruce this up a bit. Heaven knows I may even stretch to changing the bed sheets.

Dec 15, 2006

Sleep? Me?

Bad Fetching Today has been a day when Eloise has been quite tired but has adamantly refused to go to bed. Consequently, in retrospect, it has been heavy going.

When we spoke to Nicole she was tired, or seemed to be, but wouldn't go to bed. So we went to the beach, where the tide was out and sandbars stretched out a very long way. We paddled out and walked on the pristine sands... pristine as long as they weren't punctuated by discarded tyres...

She fell asleep in the car about two minutes before we got home, so I thought, I'll put her to bed because her top's still damp... she wouldn't go to sleep and kicked up such a cadenza the situation had to be defused by giving her her lunch early. After that she looked ready, but again, no.

She finally got to bed around 2 o'clock, so I watched England's batting collapse for a bit and did some housework... then distant dumbles of thunder started and of course off went Tiny on a barkathon.

That about sums up the day really.

Ho Ho Ho!

I just saw this story on the Register about Christmas music in shops being tantamount to actual torture for the poor employees who don't have a choice but to listen. How true that must be! It's bad enough for the shoppers!

Dec 14, 2006

Only the Real Thing

Only the Real Thing Caterpillar Kids this morning. Eloise doesn't seem to be getting into the structured routine part of things, though she did enjoy rolling around on the floor and the parachute part appeals to her greatly. She loves playing when all the toys come out though and played see-saw with a couple of children today.

We had a kip at lunchtime - I'm quite getting into these little cat naps - and footled around, recycling last night's veggie dahl thing for lunch today and just catching Monty Panesar getting his first wicket, which was nice in a disinterestedly abstract kind of way.

Then some housework, sweeping and hoovering and washing and mopping. It was only after the mopping was done that I noticed that Eloise had been following me around and squeezing sunscreen over the floor. Grrr.

We took the dogs down to the brook and messed about on the rocks for a while. Eloise really needs to make sure that one of the dogs is watching her before she lobs the ball into the river. Matilda did a sort of run away and won't come back type thing so I cut it off short and then she came back.

We went shopping and spent $100 at Woolworths! Must have been all that Coke and coffee.

Nicole is going to Ipswich today. Say hello to her for me, will you? And look after her, she's feeling a bit hesitant about visiting the new Crime Capital of the UK.

Dec 13, 2006

Seaside

End of the Pier We got up at 8 o'clock this morning (I have now started using "we" instead of "I," which is a bit worrying). Got breakfast started, then on the video blower to wifey for the daily morning briefing which I can't hear.

We went to the Brook and we played on the rocks for an hour or so. Eloise is developing quite a little mountaineering yen. She jiggles - very hesistantly I might add, and not unassisted - from one rock to another, sits down and dips her feet in the water.

We had a kip from about 12.30 until 2, and this time I do mean "we," as last night was disturbed by doggy disruption - ie barking at strange thingies in the back garden and the agitation that followed on from that; Matilda having a splatter in the back garden (and getting me out of bed to allow her the privilege) after eating something unsavoury at the beach yesterday; more barking in the early hours as a thunderstorm rumbled over.

I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do in the afternoon. I needed to go to the library, but didn't fancy it - I've finished 800 pages of Robert Ludlum, which was 790 pages of bonehead buildup to a 10 page resolution, cheesy ending and all. I needed to go to the shops but didn't fancy it.

So I thought we'll go to the seaside instead. So off we went to Shorncliffe and walked up and down the pier. There were sinks dotted up and down the sides, and Eloise likes sinks, so it took us a while to get to the end. She was delighted by a tame heron which was stalking around the top end of the pier. She was fascinated by being able to look through the gaps between the plans of the boardwalk and see the sea swilling around below.

We got back for about 6 and talked to Nicole. Her Nan's funeral is today. I hope it goes all right.

Dec 12, 2006

Private Tuition

We turned up five minutes late to our swimming lesson today to discover that no-one else had turned up and so we got ourselves some private tuition!

It's the last week of term before Christmas which explains it I suppose, but we made the most of it - out came the Mat of Eternal Joy and much walking was done. It was turned with great skill into the Tunnel of Aquatic Excellence and much crawling was done. Bubbles Under was played and the snappily title "Jump In, Turn
Round and Go Back to the Side."

Cross Jellyfish

We then picked up the dogs and went to the beach to round the day off. I saw the pictured jellyfish which looks a bit like it has a shamrock inside so maybe we shouldn't have been surprised when we met up with the Irish bloke we've seen up there a few times who was asking after Nicole and wishing her well.

Dec 11, 2006

Nu Shooz

Nu Shooz ...unfortunately, they give her blisters.

Some wearing in to do, otherwise you won't be able to get within ten feet of her - apart from the fact that her feet may start bursting out of her current ones any time now.

Ghost Mine Bridge

Ghost Mine Bridge
We found a new path off the trail we've been using up at Coot-Tha. It led down from the ridge we were on down the "other side" - Westwards, I think, and the plants were quite different going down this side; I will euphemistically refer to them as umbrella plans and ferns, though I'm sure that wasn't what they were.

The track was much rougher and obviously less used. The birds over on this side were much more vocal. A kookaburra let us know it was nearby. The path led down the hill steeply, crossed regularly by dead wood and punctuated by rocks and boulders.

At the bottom, to my surprise, we came across some benches next to a hole in the ground which a placard proudly referred to as a "gold mine." Further up the trail was the bridge pictured above, across which carts of ore were trundled to the pump house further upstream where the ore was processed.

It was all very, very basic. Very, very disused. And by all accounts very, very unproductive.

Dec 10, 2006

Beach

We went to the beach today and wandered among the mangroves. The tide was coming in and was almost at its full extent. The water was just about covering the mangrove roots which poked out of the sand upwards, and it was as warm as a bath. Little fishes which I don't care to taxonomise darted amonst the roots. Matilda attempted to chase them. She succeeded as well, she just failed to actually catch any.

We waded from one sand bank to another; Eloise got up to her chest in water. We'd taken her nappy off at the car so she only had her swimming costume on. It is UV resistant and gives an SPF of 50+. But it still needs to be washed if somebody has been thinking about number one(s) too much... hence, partially at least, the deep adventurous wading.

Eloise was on good form, throwing the tennis ball for Tiny, who sometimes fetched it, and calling out to Matilda if she got too distracted with her fishing, who didn't pay the blindest bit of attention.

When we got back to the car, there was an ice cream van parked there. We got two plain cones of ice cream which was very reminiscent of Mr. Whippy. Eloise insisted on eating all hers, but took her time about it; most of the time it was dripping down her hand, arm, tum, leg...

I borrowed a lawn mower off Peter next door and sorted out the back yard and front bit. We popped over there later on for a drink, where the Ashes were rubbed in again.

Dec 9, 2006

Summery

Waves BreakingToday: Breakfast. Kip. Beach. Kip. Dancing. Lunch. Painting. Dancing. Games in the Garden. Tea. Party. Kip.

Dec 8, 2006

Party Time

Today we were up quite early and ate our meusli, Skype at the ready, waiting for Nicole to log in. We must have got our timing wring somehow as our paths didn't cross; they were in Norfolk yesterday meeting with Funeral Directors and seeing Nan lying in state as it were, which must have been very difficult and exhausting.

We took the dogs down to the Brook and witnessed grass mowing on an industrial scale, with several sit-on mowers sweeping up and down the sides of the brook followed by a large tractor with foot soldiers following on with strimmers.

We staged a strategic withdrawal and retired "upstairs" to the playground. Eloise gets on the swing, and when you've pushed her what she considers to be hard enough, she points to the adjacent swing, squawks her equivalent of "Get Swinging Buster" and grins inanely if you manage to get swinging in time with her. Some sliding was done also.

Playtime We got back around midday and we were all quite tired so it was off to bed for her, and I read my book for a bit as well as doing some sweeping and general tidying.

When she woke up we made a salad with me chopping up apples and grapes and stuff and her munging it all together with yoghourt (passionfruit flavour) and mayonnaise and spinach (high iron content don't you know).

Strop one occurred after teeth brushing when she decided that she didn't wish to relinquish the toothpaste, and squirted it all over the table when my back was turned.

We prepared for the Christmas party by going up to the new shopping complex at Chermside, which is a monster. At several points we were lost, but by hook or crook we wound up at a kiddies' shoe shop and got some nice pink sandals. Apparently she has thin feet.

Eventually we found our way out of shoptopia and got to the Christmas party, which was hoaching with kids and parents as you might imagine. Eloise set her heart and mind to getting onto the Bouncy Castle which had an enormous giraffe sticking its head into the sky.

Cruelly, I made her eat some food first, and with commendable compliance she sat down on my lap and ate a slice of pizza then assorted junk food which went down very well.

Her bouncy castle methodology was quite discreet. She climbed on, then crouched on all fours near the edge while the bigger kids jumped around like maniacs, apparently just enjoying the way that the whole ground wobbled underneath her. Then she got off again.

Santa Eloisa
Then there was some kind of performance thing where they put little shiny halos on the heads of the kiddies, attached bells to their wrists and played jingle bells. A lady even knelt in front of them and attempted to conduct to this group of ten or so two year olds as they looked at her in great confusion, not singing, and not jingling. They claimed afterwards that they'd been rehearsing all week. At least Eloise has an excuse.

Various other performances of I'm sure marvelous quality if your child was in there ensued, then Santa was wheeled out. I'm pleased to say that Eloise didn't really dig the Santa thing. Not interested remotely. Stands her in good stead, I'd say.

By the time we got all that lot done it was nearly seven o'clock, and time to get home and off to bed.

Dec 7, 2006

Slow Day

We had a slow day today. Eloise started out very listless, but the periods of good humour have grown lengthier and more frequent. We had rice and sweet potatoes for lunch and french onion soup for tea, both of which she enjoyed, as well as some yoghourt and fruit.

She was very tired come bedtime though. Not tired enough though not to insist on wearing her new silly pink hat to bed.

Other than that we had a short trip to the nursery to deliver a present for tomorrow's Xmas party, assuming she's OK to attend as it looks she will be. We stopped off on the way home at Homezone and bought some Jaffa Cakes, some Veggie Burgers and some chocolate croissants for breakfast tomorrow.

Just because Nicole's not here, it doesn't mean we have to miss out on some off the posh things in life, do we?

Dec 6, 2006

The Baton is Passed On

The Baton of Wretchedness and Illness that is.

I was feeling much better this afternoon. As tea was cooked (Broccoli and Cashewnuts) we tried to get in touch with Nicole on Skype, and after some fiddling around at her end we finally got to see her, which was lovely. Eloise was on fine form but flagging; she ate her tea then ate her ice cream but was starting to microsleep so we cut off short and I popped her in the bath with some hot chocolate for five minutes, enough time for a quick wash before bed.

We read a little book about Koalas then she vomited repeatedly all over the floor. I attempted to get her to the bathroom but slipped in something - I prefer not to try to think about what - and we both ended up on the floor. Meanwhile Matilda moved in to "help tidy" the four puddles of puke which were liberally dotted - I say dotted, more poured really - around the floor. At which point I admit to raising my voice - not that it did any good.

Thank goodness for wooden floors!

We think it's a combination of tiredness and whatever viral thing I have had which obviously she has as well.

Her Nursery Christmas party is on Friday. I hope we can go. Certainly Caterpillar Kids is now off the agenda tomorrow.

I think this is what they call a "Baptism of Fire."

Christmas Decorations

Not for Agincourt the tacky decorations so often witnessed en Angleterre. No inflatable santas, or snowmen, or reindeer; no jingles blaring out at the whim of a motion detector; no plastic figures forever scaling but never quite climbing the chimney. Just a solitary Santa watching over the street. Perhaps he needs to be let out.

Go on, see if you can spot him.

Actually there are a few decorations about, but they are seriously low key compared to some of the abominations we used to be the unfortunate witnesses to.

Santa is Watching

Togtastic

Feeling much better this afternoon. Nicole wasn't online this morning, and I didn't want to phone and disturb her, but I missed talking to her. We miss her a lot.

We went up to Target this afternoon and got Eloise some UV-resistant swimming clothes. We tried to get her some sandals as well but they didn't have any small enough.
Tastefully Dressed

Dec 5, 2006

Thanks

We were sitting down to lunch (leftover Tuscan Bean Soup with lashings of buttery bread to dunk) when I heard a call from the front gate. Hurriedly putting on a t-shirt but braving ridicule in my boxer shorts, I went out to find Val from across the road struggling to open the gate, which due to Ric's unorthodox design is a security measure in its own right.

The lovely lady had brought me a gift of food! There were sweet potatoes in there... but unfortunately beef; I was somewhat embarrassed to come out of the closet with my deviant vegetarianism.

Well, never mind, eh? Thanks anyway!

(It turns out that the blog is being read somewhat closer to home than we would have expected - although we have done nothing to publicise it - it's a small world isn't it?)

Uuuurrrrgggh

Well, I've felt better.

I haven't done much today.

We walked the dogs down at the Brook from about 9.30. It took a long time to sort things out. I am moving around quite slowly. I have waves of pressure in my pre-frontal lobe which make my eyes want to water. My nose is dribbling constantly - luckily I have found some hankies. I having a hacking cough. My sense of temperature is up the swanny. My joints ache.

Apart from that I feel great. So does Eloise. We didn't make swimming today as our lunchtime nap finished around 2.15.

We spoke to Nicole this morning, and she looked even worse that I felt. It was about 9pm their time I think and her compis was in no way mentis.

We spoke again this evening - my evening - and she looked much brighter. She had been up since 4.30am and they were off to Norfolk to make funeral arrangements. I hope it all goes well.

Here's a shot of some shennanigans the squirt got up to today.

Dec 4, 2006

4-Ply Cold

I have a 4-ply cold, but I don't know where the tissues are.

I walked the dogs this morning but I didn't enjoy it. I have a headache, dribbling sinuses and a desire to do nothing. To indulge the dogs we went to Mount Coottha as we do now on Mondays, but instead of the circuit we climbed down Simpson's Falls and followed the creek down which was quite heavy going and approached being minor entertainment I suppose, all things considered.



I washed (washed??? watched! I must have washing on the brain) the Ashes from the comfort of the sofa for the rest of the day. That was enough to send me intermittently asleep. A ate chocolate, crisps and Tim Tams and drank orange juice.

I dragged my self off the sofa and picked Eloise up who became quite upset as we left because I arrived and then they changed her nappy which isn't the way it normally works. It took a bite-size muffin to stop her whingeing.

We spoke to Nicole on Skype, and it's official, the webcam is trashed, well the sound part of it anyway. Actually windows has started compaining the the device isn't recognised now so it's time to locate consumer electronics shop and purchase anew. I do believe Nicole has promised me a bumper pay packet tomorrow.

I am going to bed now with a book. I won't say it's good yet.

Jet lag

I feel absolutely shot to pieces this morning... a combination of jet lag and lashings of red wine, whisky and tears last night. I have woken this morning at 07:30am to a dull and drizzly winter morning. I have started reading the most recent Harry Potter book as strangley I haven't got around to it yet. I was laying in bed reading when Chris tiptoed in and turned the light off as he thought I was asleep. I complained of being cold so he lit a fire. I do hope Eloise hasn't inherited the pyromanic gene that Chris and I have otherwise her outlet will be starting forest fires. Maybe we could buy Eloise a chiminea for her birthday.

Web Cam -> Wet Cam

I spoke to Nicole this morning on Skype, after the other end overcame some technical difficulties like having the sound turned off. Eloise as usual didn't really know what to make of it, I think she just thinks of it as a TV picture of someone she knows.

She did say "Bye!" as usual a couple of minutes after the call finished, then as I was getting her clothes together to get her dressed, she unplugged the webcam and dropped it into the dog bowl. It is out on the line to dry at the moment. We will see later if it still works.

Sad departures BNE, Safe arrivals LHR

I blubbed big style at the airport. Eloise would not let go of my hair and had to be forcibly removed by Neil. Chris was consoling me when I received a text from Neil saying "behind you". [Buckets at the ready everyone] I turned around to see Neil and Eloise at the top of the escalators and ran Hollywood style into their arms!

To pass the time Chris and I had a couple of beers before catching our plane. The journey to Singapore was fine. I was looking forward to my swim at the airport. We arrived at 5am only to discover the pool opened at 7am. I remember Faye saying how great the Rainforest Spa was and had my heart set on a foot, leg, shoulder and head massage as to my disgust I was struggling to get my feet into my shoes. The masseuses don't start work until 11am so I was led astray by Chris and we had another couple fo beers.

Neither of us were looking forward to the 14 hour Singapore to London leg of the journey but once we past over India it seemed to go quite quickly. With the assistance of some little white pills and some alcohol we managed to get quite a good sleep. I had my first ever Singapore Sling which I would definitely recommend.

When we arrived in London I was left alone at the luggage carousel as Chris was travelling very light and his need for nicotine outweighed sibling support! Dad met me and we downed a quick expresso and were on our merry way out of the so called road system leaving the airport.

Charlie made a real fuss of Chris and I. After cracking open a beer Chris had a fire lit within 15 minutes. It is freezing here. Thank goodness for central heating. Neil you will be pleased to hear that Anne is wearing her fleecey body warmer thing.

Dec 3, 2006

Funny Old Day

ShellAfter getting to bed quite late last night, Iwas expecting Eloise to have a huge lie in, and if you call 8 o'clock a huge lie in, you would have been delighted. Me, I was groggy.

We pootled around for a while then went to the beach where as usual we paddled. I threw a chewed ball for Tiny precisely three times, on the third time she looked on, deciding if it had gone too far into the creek, as it sank from view not to be seen again.

The tide was quite low, so I hitched Shorty's dress up and we marched over to a sand island about thirty meters from the short, having removed any articles of clothing (from her) which might have come a cropper. The water came up to her tum but she didn't mind a bit.

She showed a very healthy interest in sea shells, picking them up, washing them in the water, then depositing them in my pockets.

Time ticked on, and she started to get tired so home we came, stopping off on the way to get milk, orange juice and (yes, Nicole) ice cream, which I saw out of the corner of my eye whilst looking for the OJ.

Eloise fell asleep in the car, and as usual when this happens, when put to bed at home slept for about ten minutes before waking up again and wanting up.

So we spent the afternoon keeping busy, doing housework, gardening, painting, etc until four o'clock when she started to get stroppy and was put to bed about half an hour later in a foul mood. Soon she was asleep and I finished another Tom Holt book, which again was... odd. Robert Ludlum next, which stands an outside chance of being entertaining.

She woke up about 5.30 and I thought about getting tea in, but the sky was extremely grey and soon we realised that a storm would be rolling in, so we went outside to experience it. As we were waiting we could hear a strange hissing noise approaching from the distance which I assumed was wind, but it dawned on me at the last minute that it was actually rain - I grabbed Eloise and whisked her under cover as the rain went from Zero to Heavy in two seconds flat. Then of course I realised that on washing line number two were the nappies, so I got soaked to the skin (not difficult, I didn't have a t-shirt on) bringing them in.

After tea in the bath Eloise discovered the joy of tennis balls in enclosed spaces.

So it's been a bit odd really in non-routine, disjointed, weeding kind of way.

I am pretending that Nicole is working a long day. A very long day. She texted me this morning from Singapore. I think the swimming pool was closed, so she and Chris are drinking beer instead. Quelle surprise.

Dec 2, 2006

Single Parent

Woe is me, I am a single parent for the next two weeks... we picked Chris up around six, and he turned his nose up at my ratatatatatatouille and pasta (well Nicole's pasta to be honest), claiming he was full, but I reckon he could smell the parmesan that Nicole used - or was it actually curdled vomit? I certainly can't tell the difference.

I dropped them off at the airport about an hour ago. Eloise didn't want to let go of her mum... neither did I really. It was an emotional few minutes. We went down sets of escalators with Nicole standing on the balcony at the top trying to catch a glimpse and wave. I'm so sad to see her go.

Squeaky squeaked for a couple of minutes then clapped eyes on a statue of some strange hybrid of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. That shut her up. She fall asleep on the way home and is now tucked up in her moon unit.

Leaving me all alone...
Eloise stands guard at the mouth of Kedron Brook.

Glad News

Congratulations to Melissa and Chris on the birth of their sproglet, Ryder... as James put it, "Good Pushing!"

Hope everything is OK and Melissa is recovering well from what was, by both accounts, a somewhat laborious labour.

Sad News


Nicole's Nan's health has been deteriorating for the last couple of weeks. Nicole has really been feeling the distance and has wanted to be with her Mum, Nan and Granddad to help them through this difficult time, but it has been difficult because although she suspected the end was near, Nan kept just hanging on, making a decision on going back very difficult.

The signs of the end were apparent over the last couple of days and Nicole booked flights home yesterday for herself and Chris, with the invaluable help of Miss Julie Seldon, Thong Advocate General, to whom she is eternally grateful.

Chris is arriving in Brisbane later this afternoon and will fly out with Nicole later tonight.

This morning we received the news that Nicole's Nan has passed away, which is sad news. I never know what to say in circumstances such as these so I'll just leave Stuart, Anne and Nicole with my best wishes, and hope that the next few days are not too difficult for Anne and that Nicole is as helpful back home as she would like to be.

The flights were very difficult to get hold of; the only return flights available are on December 16th. Until then, the rest of the girls and I are on our own - Parp!! We will miss Nicole terribly. And probably eat bakes beans and pasta and pesto on alternating days.