Dec 30, 2007

Sunny Ipswich

rythym Now the thing with this blog thing is that I tend to do it early evening sometimes, in front of the telly so I don't have to concentrate too hard.

With the temporary demise of my computer (the lights aren't on and nobody's home) I am having to resort to Ric and Cate's box of tricks, which is nowhere near the telly. And somehow it just isn't the same as using my lovely laptop.

Oh, and Eloise seems determined never to sleep anymore, having discovered how to switch on electrical appliances (christmas lights in this case) and amuse herself in her bedroom (by reading books and creating chaos) when she should be sleeping.

So between fatigue and reluctance I've not been much good lately have I?

Anyway notwithstanding all that, I will now attempt to recall what has been going on since X Day.

And to be honest it isn't much. The weather has been, how you say, drab, warm but wet and recently windy. Although on the day after Boxing Day Nicole had a day off and thought we'd go off to Sunny Ipswich and visit the railway museum there, as they are doing a Thomas the Tank Engine spectacular at the moment.

So we were treated to the amazing sight of some trains with dodgy grey faces hung off the front of them, deep joy! And having Thomas stories read to us by a pretend Fat Controller who was just that little bit too human to be believable, and seemed to be a Geordie to boot.

For a child I expect it was a tremendous hoot as there were lots of trainsets to play with, which Eloise took enormous care, attention, and time to play with.

And as a museum it wasn't too bad, I suppose, but I just can't help but try to measure it up against the Railway Museum at York. And I was probably only about eight when we went there, so my impressions of that Hallowed Museum of Railway Joy are a trifle skewed. Maybe.

Anyway our drive through Ipswich revealed as we crossed over the David Trumpy Bridge (no, really) that there's a very picturesque looking gorge running through it with a river at the bottom. Looked very nice.

Other than that we've been down to the brook a lot and been to lots of nice playgrounds when the weather permitted.

And listened to the bleeding Justine Clarke CD about a hundred times.

And played the xylophone, sorry glockenspiel, sorry Glock interminable.

And the dolls, yes the dolls. And the books. Musn't forget them.

So you can see that all the Christmas presents have received a very warm reception and are being used, and amazingly none has been broken yet.

But there's still time. Especially for the talking baby.

Dec 25, 2007


Opening Here they are, opening presents, and appreciating deeply each one I am sure.

Quite a cool day, I'm beginning to think these 40 degree Christmases are a bit of a myth.

Eloise slept in til 9 o'clock, but then the combination of roast dinner, Coke, cream and sweeties coupled with a small present-opening last night raised the excitement level to the point where she didn't get to sleep last night until about eleven.

We went to the Brook and had a little barbie while the dogs wandered around, then Nicole went work, whereupon her Ladyship was sent to bed, and I fell asleep on the sofa in front of the Grinch, which was unfortunately the best thing on telly.

Val came round about 4 o'clock and we had a cup of coffee then Eloise had to see the guinea pigs and I whisked her off to the playground before coming back to a lovely Christmas repast of reheated sausages and bean salad. Well we weren't really hungry anyway.

Happy Christmas.

Dec 21, 2007

Royal Rowing

Manumission Later in the day, blithely ignoring the weather forecast, we headed out to the Royal National Park for a spot of rowing action on the Hacking River.

The river was calm and slow moving, flanked by forested rocky escarpments and cliffs and was very beautiful underneath the disappointingly chilly grey sky. By chilly I mean of course that it wasn't sunny, though still shorts weather obviously.

I was first up and rowed for literally miles, well maybe a mile, or less before Nicole took over.

I only rowed us into the bank once but let's face it, Nicole Julie and Eloise were the ones facing forwards and weren't really focusing their fuill attentions on navigating until it was too late.

We stopped at a large rock by the side of the river for lunch. And then it started raining, at which point Gary the Powerhouse took over and we sped back, resting briefly beneath an overhanging cliff for shelter.

Then we went somewhere or other for coffee, and I fell asleep in the car with Eloise.

In the evening we watched videos.

And the next day we flew back home again to where the weather is warm and the sun shines, rested after our lovely little break. I can only hope that we didn't wear poor Julie out too much as she took Monday morning off having only had a couple of hours sleep for the previous couple of nights and was utterly knackered.

5.30am Aargh!

100 Aargh! I woke up mind-buggeringly early on Sunday morning, and lay awake for a while before thinking that this was actually a bit of a waste of time and that I could maybe go for walk, get lost, find a railway station, go to the Opera House and the Harbour, get lost again, find another railway station, get back home and climb back into bed jus as everyone else woke up and pretend that nothing had really happened.

It would be a little like Little Britain except I'm not wheelchair bound.

Unfortunately, I did get maybe a little lost, though not very, but started to have doubts firstly when a couldn't remember having closed the bedroom door and had awful visions of what Eloise might accomplish with a goldfish were she to awaken and be unsupervised, and secondly when all the walking I was doing began to encourage gastro-intestinal movement, then distress.

So I legged it back to find that I had indeed left the bedroom door open although all were stil blissfully asleep.

So I settled down in front of the television, and spent the next hour trying to work out how to work it.


Trumpety Trump Ho Hum. The computer is shafted. Though I and the technician who I was on the phone with assisting me with my LCD Inverter surgery agree that it couldn't have been anything I did. Still a bit of a coincidence eh? So in the New Year it'll be sent off to Adelaide to see if someone who allegedly knows what he (or she) is doing can sort it out.

Never mind.

So anyway, yeah, Sydney was good fun, Paul gave us a lift to the airport and though Eloise I don't think really got her head round the whole high-altitude flight concept thoughtscape, she didn't find it remotely frightening, but then she had loads of sweeties, so why on earth would she?

We had a nice barbie on Friday night though the low temperatures of the southern climes had Nicole shivering. It might have been the two hours sleep she'd had in the last twenty four, what do you think?

On Saturday we went to Taronga Zoo, where Gary as one of Sydney's socialite movers and shakers (ahem) had got us some free tickets. Cool hey?

As you'd expect in a zoo there was lots of animals but not that many humans,as it happens, which was nice. The giraffes conveniently munched from their munch brazier basket thing in front of the Coat Hanger (that'd be the Sydney Harbour Bridge) and the elephants obligingly went for a swim in their plunge pool for us. And shat in it. Lovely.

Other than that we marvelled at the duck-billed platypus - did you know that in the DBP genome their are five X chromosomes and 5 Y chromosomes? Imagine.

And we saw a lot of lizards, and snakes, and kangaroos and lions and tigers and bears.

We all had a nice time, and that Julie, she's got stamina, for a pregnant bird.

Dec 18, 2007

The Information Age

Well we're back from Sydney and it was fun...

But my computer is broken and undergoing unprofessional surgery, by me, which may actually make it worse, and so we're a tad incommunicado at the moment... unless you know our phone number.

Dec 12, 2007

Wet Warm Humid

Sun Sets Behind Grey Skies The temperature has been building a bit this week, getting into the thirties a couple of days, and it's been raining pretty regularly. This makes for a bit of humidity, which, whilst not actually uncomfortable, has led to a little sweating and some complaints from the locals.

Eloise has unilaterally moved into her big bed, which is nice. She has used this as a basis for exploration, and has worked out how to switch on her fairy lights (non-Christmas). She has a toy-bin which she is using as a bedside table to put jewelery and watches on.

Schools are getting towards breaking up and the classes we go to had their final week this week. At music yesterday there was a little party afterwards and in conversation I foolishly mentioned that Eloise had slept in til 9.

This morning Eloise woke up at 4.30am. And didn't go back to sleep. I had her in with me - Nicole is on nights - and tried to get her to go to sleep again. And to be fair she was lying quite quietly, but unmistakeably awake.

Around 6 o'clock it must have been, I was just steeling myself to get up and face the world as it was getting quite light. The next thing I knew it was seven o'clock and Eloise was out of bed. And Nicole's make-up drawer was open.

The floor was covered with some sort if skin-coloured stuff, Eloise was covered in some sort of red stuff. I found a bottle of makeup in the washing machine. So she'd been busy...

She fell asleep for five minutes in the car on the way to swimming and consequently wasn't really in top for it. Hmmmm.

Dec 9, 2007

Carols on South Bank

The Arbour on Brisbane's South Bank Nicole had spotted that there was a Carols concert on at the South Bank and they were showing off their decorated fig tree.

That'll be nice, we thought, and Eloise would probably appreciate it.

So off we set after we got back from the beach, to find ourselves suddenly embroiled in deeply stationary traffic.

It should have taken us twenty minutes on the outside to get there; it took an hour. And then there were no parking spaces.

So we had to park a little way away and, Eloise having developed a proclivity for diving headlong into flower beds, it took a little while longer to get to the Suncorp Plaza where the concert was.

Still we assumed our seats in time for the final song, got out our sandwiches and listened to the Police Commissioner gushing about how well everything had gone.

Then the youth orchestra piped up into a Bing Crosby number. Bum a bum bum.

Eloise then got up and legged it down and forced young girls to dance with her.

And froze in astonishment and fright as the bagpipes began a ruthless sonic onslaught.

Later, we found the legendary fig tree, standing alone with no-one adulating at it. Probably because the decorations on it were a bit rubbish.

Dec 8, 2007

Nothing Much Doing

Pacific 101 We were feeling a bit lazy today.

Nicole did some housework. I did some housework. The dogs stalked around in a "for god's sake give us a walk" kind of way. We thought about going to the beach. We checked the tides. We fiddled around. We thought we'd have lunch. We had lunch. We put Eloise to bed. "Beach?" she said. "Later" we said.

And later on we did indeed go to the beach. And Eloise jumped in and got all her clothes wet, then looked miserable for a while.

She perked up though when she took all her clothes off then jumped into the water again, and started swimming/crawling around in the lovely warm water.

Christmas Party

Meet Monty We had the Nursery Christmas Party yesterday.

Which was reasonable entertaining... Eloise and I danced - I semi-Cossack style - to a Belgian Newbeat Techno version of Jingle Bells. Which pretty much sums up the musical ambience of the affair.

There was a children's entertainer (well he entertained the children anyway) called Johnny the Jester. Eloise wasn't really remotely interested until he produced a dove, when she became quite interested. Then he produced some snakes.

She became very interested indeed.

Dec 7, 2007

Obligatory Riverside Barbecue

Holman Street As you can the view is quite nice from our little barbecue spot by the Ferry Stop at Kangaroo Point down by Brisbane River.

You can almost hear Eloise's giggles of delight as she is twirled to within an inch of her centripetal tolerance over the static hiss of traffic across the river and bridge and the gentle slap of the water against the shore.

Can't you.

Gone in a Flash

Use the Force Mum's last day was last Friday, during which we went for a walk at Bunyaville Forest, got lost, and found ourselves again.

We went down to Paddington and ate lunch and drank coffee at a café cum flower shop then went to a bookshop, where a Winnie the Pooh book was purchased.

We had realised that the poor old dear hadn't experienced the obligatory river-side barbie underneath the Story Bridge, so that's what we did in the afternoon stroke evening after picking up Eloise from the Nursery. Nicole produced her usual fantastic tofu kebabs and chicken kebabs with various ready-made salads and so on. We ate hungrily as the sun set over the city.

Her flight wasn't until around midnight so Eloise was read W the P and after a while the waiting just became too much and I took her to the airport where we sat down to coffee in a gallery overlooking a duty free shopping centre of all things.

So it was with a twinge of emotion that I pumped up the car stereo to 5 and high-tailed it home with ABC local radio blaring.

Since then it's been another crashing return to normality, so nothing much really to report. Tiny's leg is healing up acceptably, though it still looks pretty ugly. She's been on light duties all week really but is starting to regain some enthusiasm.

Eloise's catchphrases for the week have been "I Think Not" and "You're Making Me Cry" interspersed with "Where's Granny" and "I Want a Jelly Baby."

Dec 3, 2007

Number twos

We went off to Dickie Beach at Caloundra today. Eloise was a little wary of the surf and on our way back to the car we passed a salt water river and took a dip. We were bobbing about as happy as larries when Eloise pointed to something floating past us and asked what is was. I said I didn't know and she informed me it was a poo! Five minutes later a group of about 20 school kids got in with their surf boards lucky there was a current and it had floated away under the bridge by then.

Later in the bath she was making splendid efforts at recreating a jacuzzi. I ran to get the potty from the livingroom and we had a major success. Eloise has been complaining of a tummy ache since yesterday evening and I can see why now. After much delight, praise and coloured stars she managed to talk Neil into a jelly baby aswell. Now if that doesn't re-inforce good behaviour I am not too sure what will.

Dec 2, 2007

Happy Birthday to Mum

Ocean View Winery On Thursday 29th November is was my Dear Mother's birthday.

Of course I hadn't got her a present, but then she acknowledged that she's impossible to buy for and generally people just buy her food.

So after a walk at the creek and a very easy taking down of the tents and packing, we stopped off on the way home just past Mount Mee at the Ocean View Winery.

Where a fine meal was consumed by all, al fresco as it were, with the dogs beneath our feet. One of whom was bleeding profusely, but we'll come back to that.

Regular trips were taken down to the vineyards, a mere thirty metres or so from where we were sat, to have twirls or to spot the wallaby -sorry, wobbly - that was hopping around in there.

Occasionally we visited the toilet to perform and performance was undertaken flawlessly.

Now back to the bleeding dog. As I said we went for a quick jaunt down at the creek in the morning. The dogs were quite exciteable and Matilda got herself into a fenced off area and obviously caught a whiff of something as she let out a clarion whoop to which, needless to say, Tiny responded enthusiastically.

So enthusiastically in fact that even though she's an old lady she cleared a four-foot barbed wire fence in one of those "Oh Shit" moments that sometimes happen.

They didn't come back for a quarter of an hour or so, then Tiny trotted back with a cut eye and a gaping wound on her inside front leg.

The thing about dog skin is that it's pretty elastic so if it gets cut, by barbed wire for instance, it springs apart, leaving the flesh underneath exposed.

In her younger days we would have - and did - whisk her off to a vet to get the wound stitched but that would mean general anaesthetic, which is a bit of a risk to take for something essentially cosmetic.

But she won't stopped licking the damned thing...

Anyway, erm, Happy Birthday Mum...


Wallaby Waterhole I think I might have got mixed up with my days because I think that on Wednesday, after our little creek escapade, we went on a drive up to Maleny. Squeaky fell asleep in the car so we proceeded further up to Montville which was rather nice in a touristy kind of way, with chocolate-box houses and the like. We drove through and stopped off at the Mapleton Falls National Park where we walked fifty yards to a lookout overhanging a 120-metre drop over which a rather paltry waterfall fell.

Still it would have been magnificent if it had been in full flow I should think.

We stopped off at Montville on the way back after Eloise had woken up and partook of a walk and then coffee and fruit smoothies etc. Very nice is was too.

And all that means that Kilcoy must have been on Tuesday and Woodford on Monday. Honestly my mind is like a sieve.

Dec 1, 2007

Neurum Creek

Neurum Creek We went for a walk along the creek the next morning, which was beautiful. The dogs rooted around and explored while we made our way along the edges of the creek looking for creepy crawlies and interesting things.

I climbed over the rocks on a little waterfall and scraped my leg when a rock displaced itself.

In the afternoon we went to Kilcoy to get provisions and have some supper. I ordereded two eggs and chips. Two plates of egg and chips turned up. The misunderstanding developed further and soon two more eggs turned up. We quit while we were ahead.

View From Mount Archer

View From Mount Archer

Nicole: "The Most Difficult Walk I've Ever Done"

Grey Man So we looked at the map (not to scale) that we'd be given and thought we'd try a track that took us up to a place called Split Rock.

"Entrance to Twin Gorges" the map said. "Experienced Bushwalkers Only Past This Point" it warned ominously. "Yeah Right" I thought. I'm sure Nicole did too. Maybe I should ask her.

It took us a while to find the entrance to the track during which time the dogs legged it whooping with delight - or bloodlust - chasing after some unknown prey. When they returned we found our track leading up the bed of a creek.

The creek led up towards the mountain with a rocky bed surrounded by thick forest.

Soon the rocky bed began to climb steeply and we found ourselves scrambling, then rock climbing as we made our way up. The way was marked by ribbons tied around the occasional tree trunk or hanging from the odd branch and on several occasions we almost pronounced ourselves lost as we couldn't see the next one.

After a couple of hours of climbing up waterfalls (well they would have been if it had rained, as it was they were trickles) and directing the dogs up routes they could actually manage, we made it to the top to be hailed by views stretching many miles. And a dilemma, because we were on a crossroads of four tracks, and the map only showed three.

So we took an educated guess as to which was the way down and took it, correctly as it turned out.

Later we drove up to Woodford and stocked up on provisions, had some coffee, and brought back a distinctly average Chinese.

Nov 30, 2007

Camping It Up

View from Neurum Creek Bush Retreat Packing was, rather unexpectedly, given that space was at a premium given an extra passenger, a breeze. Possibly because I left the details to Nicole who is genetically pre-disposed to being good at that sort of thing.

We forewent the air mattresses too, taking a risk that sleeping on duvets would be OK. The air mattresses after all are next to useless having both developed unfixable leaks which necessitate reinflation every day. Not good.

So we headed off about 11 o'clock through Samford then Dayboro then up the Mount Mee Road across the mountains and down the other side, along the D'Aguilar Highway. There was a certain amount of consternation in the car, I sensed, as I'd owned up to not actually having printed out a map of how to get to the campsite, and the UBD Refidex didn't extend quite far enough to cover it, but the Force was with me and I remembered the names of the relevant roads.

Consternation became elevated again though as we rolled onto the last road on our journey, which was a dirt track the entrance to which was protected by a cattle grid.

To the uninitiated among you, our dogs and cattle have in the past failed to mix well.

And soon, the dogs, up until now resting quietly, woke up to the herd of bullocks lazily chewing the cud in the middle of the road, and began barking madly.

Consternation receded, for me at least, as we rolled over another cattle grid a k or so down the road, and descended into a dip crossing a little creek that - get this - had flowing water in it, in a verdant valley with forested mountains to either side.

Unpacking and tent-building went well and we embarked upon a walk up the hillside which would have been very quick if it hadn't been for Eloise. Still the dogs were in seventh heaven and we could look out over the valley beneath a slightly ominous-looking overcast sky before descending again to the campsite.

We had been put on the plum spot on the campsite as there was actually absolutely no-one else there, and the site was actually pretty big, probably covering several hectares though I'm not sure I really know how big a hectare is. However be that as it may, both our tents fitted easily onto our alloted space which was reasonably flat, surrounded by trees, at the bottom of the walking tracks, and equipped with a stone fire circle at which Nicole's eyes lit up.

I'll leave it up to Nicole to extol the virtues of the composting toilets which were an easy three minute walkaway unless you had Sproggy with you.

We grabbed a reasonably early night after sitting around the fire for a bit.

And got up in the morning after a somewhat broken nights sleep, punctuated by the trials and tribulations of having had to spend the night with two dogs and a nearly-three-year-old to have a light breakfast of sandwiches and juice and coffee.

Mother did the decent thing and offered to look after Eloise while Nicole and I took a brisk walk with the dogs, so we set off thinking we'd be back in an hour, looking at the map to see if we could maybe get half way up the mountain.

Nov 25, 2007

Full Moon

The Power of the Waves Eloise was awake and in full effect by 6am Saturday morning, so we gave Nicole a lift to work for her early shift then high-tailed it to the beach with no preparation whatsoever, to be confronted by a high tide and blustery wind which was blowing water in pretty reasonable sized waves (for which read several inches high) across the bay.

We didn't make it far up the beach proper before Madam decided this was all a pretty bad idea so off we went for our coffee and chinos and then to the playground where we mooched around for quite a while.

There's a sea wall just ahead of the playground against which the waves were slapping playfully creating the occasional splash of water. Eloise decided it would be great idea to play around a bit with this, which I took to be a pretext to get her clothes wet then remove them, which of course she did.

I may have mentioned yesterday that one of the Chermise stops was a toyshop where we got lots of paint. These were brought out in the afternoon. The end result was masses of mess and a few interesting Rorschasch diagrams. And a dissatisfied Dad who had to clear up, fighting an unquenchable urge to continue which resulted in half a pint of black paint in a cup whilst distracted on the phone.

We picked Mum up from the airport at seven or so and then watched the election, with the super-efficient Australian system delivering a result by ten o'clock or so. So bye bye John Howard hello Kevin Rudd, let's see if Australian Labour bears any more resemblance to Labour than British Labour does. Wouldn't be hard.

As of tomorrow we're off camping for a few days. We're going to Mount Archer which isn't too far from here, up near Woodford. Should be nice. The campsite seems well appointed with on-site walking tracks, mountains nearby and all that jazz.

Happy trails.

Nov 23, 2007

Retail Flagellation

Bichromatic Sitting in the coffee shop in Border's bookshop in Chermside with Nicole today - my day off - I found myself experiencing a perverse enjoyment at my situation.

From the endless, desperate tour of the huge subterranean car park trying to find a space to negotiating the sagging crowds of flabby exposed flesh and faintly bored or miserable pram-pushers in the hermetically sealed other-world of plasma posters and perfect images to the endless racks of "ladies' wear" and XXL cargo shorts to the vague half-hearted struggle to remembering what we were actually there for, it was a deeply, subliminally, soul-destroying experience.

We saw a sign offering nice, guided walks around the safe and comfortable environment of the shopping centre, would you believe, just to get some exercise, for a mere three dollars.

We saw a "gentleman of size" roll up to a counter in the bookshop on his motorised chair/buggy/bike thing, ask what exactly a 3 for 2 offer was, before hopping off, walking merrily to the coffee shop counter before gaily returning to his buggy to extol the delicious virtues of the obviously wonderful milk-shake he was half-mouthedly draining, bright and lurid pink in its plastic straw.

I saw some mothers pushing a pram around Target comparing offers for a few cents off some irrelevant nothing and then getting a Coke from the vending machine outside.

So I suppose I was feeling pretty damned self-righteous to be such a well-adjusted morally correct bastion of non-class and balancing that with a small measure of catholic guilt at the contempt in which I held my fellow human being and the fact that, as opposed to them, the majority of my time is not spent in adding value to anything in any way that can be measured in pounds shillings or pence, an activity which these people seemed to indulge for the sole purpose of being able to exist in that very space precisely in order to perform the exact reverse.

Nov 22, 2007

Little imaginations

What with all the visits we have been having recently we are slowly introducing the concept of connections between people. It is quite a lot for a little brain to cope with me being a mum as well as daughter and a sister all at the same time. When we visited Catherine yesterday I mentioned that her daughter would be there. Eloise couldn't get her head around the fact that Sophia was called Sophia and not Daughter. Oftern if you tell Eloise she is a good girl. She'll tell you quite assertiviely that she is Eloise.

She keeps nattering on about her sister being poorly or sick. Then this evening and yesterday she pointed to my tummy and said I have a baby in there. Apparantly it is going to be a girl as Eloise says she wants a sister. Let us see how far that rumour can go...

Nov 20, 2007

Little Miss Grown-Up

One of the girls from work offered us some household and children's clothes as she has recently moved and needs to have a good clear out. We went around there this morning and filled the car up. Catherine's daughter, Sophia, was off from school so they played together. Eloise has been introduced to Play Station and wall-to-wall pink bedrooms - we are doomed.

After Eloise's afternoon nap we sorted through the clothes and were putting them away as they are too big for her at present. Eloise decided she wanted to wear a size 4 skirt which kept hanging around below her pre-pubescent hips. WhenI tried to take it off her she had a tantrum of mammoth proportions. This was one battle I wasn't prepared to engage in and so she spent the rest of the afternoon hitching it up over her hips.

Week Ending

Mount Coonowrin Mum went into town on her lonesome on Saturday and we went to Nudgee Beach. Due to a miscalculation the tide was in and the flies were out and it wasn't all that pleasant.

We didn't do much in the afternoon. Nicole and Eloise went to a garden centre and bought some seeds. When mum got back we planted up the bed out back with vegetables and stuff. We'll see how they do on dishwater.

On Sunday Mum, Eloise and I went to Northey Street market to mingle with the hippies. It was quite hot and we sent a while drinking coffee, perusing the organic sellers and being performed to by young and brave violin and cello players who were clearly related, and clearly had a lot to learn. Eloise enjoyed them, although I had to conceal my face to hide the twisted expressions the discordant renditions of twinkle twinkle and ode to joy involutarily introduced on my face.

We chilled out in the afternoon, falling asleep on the sofa (well I did) and going shopping, before indulging in a feast of mexican fajitas.

The next day we were pretty adventurous and walked the dogs at Samford Forest. Eloise managed to catch a little lizard which was forced to relieve itself of its tail in order to escape.

Then to the Glass House Mountains where we gorged ourselves on veggie wraps and double chocolate brownies and lashings of coffee at a lovely, and very cheap, café before zanily engaging on a 6km bush hike around the unpronounceable peaks of Tibrogargan and Tiberroowuccum.

Eloise was in no way shape or form helpful in this hike and was consequently carried (thank god i brought the rucksack) around most of the hike, which was more like a yomp for me.

But the weather was lovely and the scenery pretty spectacular. And we didn't get lost, which is always a good thing,

This morning Mum headed off for Cairns for a few days up there. I'm jealous.

Tamborine Mountain

Curtis Falls On Friday we dropped Eloise off at Nursery then headed off to Tamborine Mountain, where we visited Curtis Falls, then headed into town for some lunch.

Town was a twee mock-Alpine architectural schmaltz but lunch was OK.

After lunch we went on a walk down into a rainforest valley where large black lizards proliferated lazily by the side of the path. I'm sure we saw one of whatever they were with the geckoes at the Kids' Day Out a few weeks ago, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were called.

I had an emotionally complicated day compounded by a poor night's sleep. In other words I was in a bad mood. It probably ruined it for everybody. Such, occasionally, is life.

Nov 17, 2007

Rainforest Day

Hiding In a subtly re-jigged repeat of a previous rainforest day, we drove up to Mount Glorious via a rather unfortunately circuitous route owing to needing to drop something off for Nicole at work.

In need of sustenance, we went to the café first and the three of us had the deck to ourselves with Moreton Bay beneath us, at our feet, until something bleeding loud mouthed posh English types showed up and started jawing about nothing whatsoever of interest.

Every time one of them went to the toilet Eloise would suddenly develop a suspicious urge to poo which would mysteriously evaporate when I took her to the men's to perform (the English being of the feminine variety).

We had a nice time in the rainforest at Maiala though, with Mum poking around in logs to see what venomous animals she could antagonise and Eloise looking on agog at all the creepie-crawlies.

Hiding in the nooks and crannies of the massive rainforest trees was a winner too though Squeaky really needs to get her head round the whole concept thing of hiding finding and the nature of surprise.

In another of those I'll-never-forgive-you-for-writing-about-this moments, she dropped an enormous Derek in the middle of the path (having taken her tights off). I'm getting pretty damn good at reading those signs.

Rage Against the (Washing) Machine

Rage Against the Machine Did I mention that the other day, the washing machine turned out a suspiciously dirty load of washing?

Or that, on further investigation, it seemed that the washing may also have been suspiciously dry, on account of the fact that the washing machine isn't working?

Or that it seemed that the door catch no longer engaged with the lock, and consequently the machine wouldn't start?

Or that, when jiggled about, it would, and it washed, but then wouldn't open?

A repairman has been called.

Nov 14, 2007

New Farm Park

Poinsiana Tree in New Farm Park Mum and I escorted Eloise to music on Tuesday morning, and to some extent participated in the chaos. We were on a make-up class and it was pretty crowded, but Eloise got on well for a while before becoming very tired (perhaps not having had a nap for the past two days didn't help).

We then went to the library to top up on reading material and then home for lunch and Eloise slept for an hour and a half or so while I walked the dogs down at the brook.

In the afternoon we camped outside Nicole's work waiting for her to finish then doorstepped her and went down to South Bank again to catch a CityCat up the river to New Farm, taking advantage of the fact that it had actually stopped raining and the sun was shining.

New Farm Park was pretty colourful with the Poinsiana trees in full bloom. The keep-fitters were out in force stretching each others' hamstrings and climbing up and down onto benches, like you do.

We stopped off at the New Farm playground where Eloise made friends with a couple of little boys with whom she played on the climbing frames amongst the fig trees, then off for some coffee (just for a change) or wine (for some) and back on the CityCat to South Bank beneath the twilit city and home by, oh half eight or so, with a pizza.

Milling Around

The Essentials of Capitalism The weather has continued onerous, so we have had to chance our arms a little.

On Sunday we went up to Bribie Island and walked up Red Beach (the quality of sand being a little more to Mother's taste than Nudgee), stopping for a sandwich and one-sided stick games with the dogs.

Sure enough before long the grey skies began to gather across the water and we made it back to the car just as the rain started.

So we stopped off at a nice coffee shop on the Island and indluged ourselves before heading home.

The drive back was not quite what was expected though as the turning onto the Bruce Highway was congested so a snap decision was made to drive home through Caboolture along the D'Aguilar Highway to Woodford then over Mount Mee and back via Dayboro.

The rain clouds hung just over the roof of the car as we crested the mountains. Mum fell asleep.

On Monday Nicole was at work so the rest of us went into the city after lunch. We parked at South Bank and headed across the river to Queen Street where we attempted to get Mum on a flight to Tamworth to see Marissa.

Unfortunately there aren't any flights to Tamworth from Brisbane, what with Tamworth being a little place in New South Wales and all. So we retired to a coffee shop to drown Mum's sorrows.

Then across the city to Eagle Street and a walk down the river and through the Botanic Gardens, then back across the peestrian bridge and through South Bank, by the end of which Mum was quite disorientated and we were all pretty knackered.

We stopped off at a playground in the botanical gardens where Eloise and Mum had a thrilling game of shops with leaves used as currency. I attempted to explain that this choice of reserve might result in hyperinflation, taking a leaf out of Douglas Adams' book (no pun intended), but I think it fell on deaf ears.

Nov 10, 2007

Shops, Beach

On the Beach Well it's Saturday and the weather's looking nice (ish) so it would be rude not to go to Nudgee Beach.

The tides were wrong for the morning so I borrowed the lawnmower from Peter next door and Mum did some housework.

We fixed the clothes drier outside, which had inexplicably fallen apart, using traditional materials with a new twist, to wit nylon rope. At the corners are (were) plastic formers which had sheared. No amount of imagination on my part could understand why this would have happened, although plastic does tend to be weakened by exposure to sunlight.

Anyway, we thought we'd go to Chermside to go shopping and expose the Old Dear to the Mall experience, only realising when we arrived that it was Saturday and this was actually a really bad idea... impossible to park, God knows what it must have been like inside... but we aborted and went shopping in good old Woollie's instead and adjourned home for Baked Beans.

Now she was up at six o'clock this morning and the other ladies didn't sleep so well so we were hoping for a chance for a middle of the day nap before going to the beach to catch the tide, but nothing doing.

After a power nap (probably) of ten minutes she was up again, jumping around and shouting so we sighed and got up and down the beach we went.

Windy it was and fully clad we walked far and wide until Eloise fell over and soaked herself to the skin. She was carried back nice and snug in her Mum's top.

Then a coffee and a chino and home again.

Teamwork ruled OK, or something approaching teamwork as I cooked coconut and egg curry and Mum cooked accompanying sag aloo and raita.

We are now feeling fat. But still looking trim....

Mumsy Wumsy

Brisbane Mum's arrival was imminent so needless to say it had started to rain.

We went and picked her up from the airport on Thursday morning, and were there in time, for a change.

When she came through the gates, I pointed her out to Eloise and the squeaky one toddled to say hello.

We went home and had a cup of coffee, then went and walked the dogs down at the brook. When Nicole woke up I went shopping and we had haloumi and spiced leeks for tea. Yum.

On Friday Mum and I dropped Her Worship off at nursery then went and did the Simpson's Trickle Circuit. And the rain had stopped, though there was a bit of an overcast. The old dear was a bit flushed by the end of the walk, complaining (probably too strong a word) that it was a lot more hilly than she's used to and besides she doesn't do much walking since we deserted her.

So we went up to the top of the mountain and had a cup of coffee at the top. Grey skies hung threateningly over the city in the distance but gradually dispersed to reveal the blue we habtually expect.

In the afternoon we were treated to lunch so we went to Citron, one of these modern contemporary Asian affairs. Which was nice.

We had a couple of hours to kill and Nicole had the bright idea of going to Ascot to check out the fashionably cliquey haute-couture up-yourself shopping experience of the racehorse set on Racecourse Road.

It was a dissapointment really, though there were some pretty nice Poinsiana (I've been prompted) trees.

So with a little more time to go we went to the Premier Shopping Cum Cruise Liner Experience at Hamilton, where an enormous cruise liner was docked. We toddled. I bought some milk. Nicole tried on a dress. It didn't fit. Thank God.

Nov 5, 2007

Big Kids' Day Out

Drummer We'd seen the Big Kids' Day Out advertised around the place so I decided to take Eloise along.

It was held at the Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, and promised rainforest trails, face-painting, kite-making and other such activities which I thought would probably be a little painful for me but fun for Eloise.

When we got there it was immediately apparent from the overspilled overspill car park that it had been popular. We parked up on the verge of a road and made tracks for the gardens.

They've just opened some sort of rainforest walky thing so we got a guided tour of that, which Eloise enjoyed. She followed the other kids and the guide around looking at water dragons and tarzan trees and all those sorts of things, which took up a good hour.

Then we went and had a look at some geckoes and snakes and mice and went to get an ice cream, had a look at some bats and watched a brass band setting up.

Pretty soon an Irish marching band made itself heard with rolling drums and bagpipes and they played quite a few songs and were actually really good.

Eloise enjoyed them too and started bopping around. I don't know if it's genetics or what but she seemed to think she was at a Caelidh and took an Indian girl by the hands and started twirling around with her.

After the band had finished there was a fancy dress competition and a lets-make-animal-noises competition compered by a ridiculous clown which Eloise insisted on climbing up on stage for. "Make a noise" he said. She looked at him, turned around, and walked away. What was she thinking.

Anyway after a while the brass band started up and with the opening number as Copa Cabana, craply played, I knew our time had come.

The complicating factor in the next part of the day was I got a phone call from a woman we met down the beach a few weeks ago inviting us to a birthday party and I'd said that I'd try to make it.

But Eloise was falling asleep in the car, it was two thirty, the party started at three, what to do?

By the time we got home she was zonked out so I gently got her out of the car and into bed, and I was knacked too so I thought I'd have a lie down.

But she woke up again five minutes later, apparently fully refreshed, so after a bit of food and some farting around we made it down to the beach for about four thirty.

Where much chocolate and sweeties were consumed and a pinada unveiled which the kids took turns at bashing until it broke spilling more sweeties, which were consumed. On top of the Coot-tha ice creams.

Sugar High was achieved around six o'clock.

Nov 4, 2007

More Wobblies Than You Can Shake a Schtick At

Good Enough To Eat Under my belt, in my back pocket, and unbeknownst to Eloise, I knew perfectly well we'd see wobblies - damn, wallabies! - one way or another because at the car park there was an enclosed area where I'd seen a couple were grazing. Eloise hadn't seen them what with her eyeline being quite low in the car and I'd parked around the corner in a rare fit of vicious underhand suspense-building incentivisation.

So when we got back to the car we were treated to a fifteen-minute view of these wallabies munching away placidly and quite tamely before I realised what time it was and had to leg it before they shut the gates at 5 o'clock.

We drove back home to the basstastic Massive Attack which I used to drown out the "What are you doing Neils" and eventually she just started to hum along.

Nov 3, 2007

Afternoon Wobbly Stroll

Tingalpa Creek Nicole was feeling a bit poo yesterday. We went for a walk in the morning at Bunyaville Forest and she forgot her hat, and it was pretty hot so we reckoned it was a sort of low-grade sunstroke thingy.

Though in the afternoon we went to the flicks and saw Death at a Funeral which had us both in fits of laughter so it might have been a strain on the mastoids I suppose.

Whatever, she got a headache in the evening and retired to bed early and still felt a bit wobbly this morning.

Off she went to work anyway in the afternoon and after a bit of footling around I persuaded Eloise it was time for a nap and settled down with a book in the hammock.

My ear pricked up slightly after ten minutes or so when I thought I heard her dulcet tones but then I decided it was a power tool or something and went back to reading.

Only for my ear once more to subconsciously scan and alert me to a plaintive, no make that a demanding "NEIL!" being stridently projected at full volume.

I'd left her window open - hot day again - and listened outside for a little while to hear her singing some unrecognisable ditty, so I stretched up and pulled aside the curtain ever so subtly and poked my nose over her windowsill to see her sat in her little bed, singing away into her second-hand karaoke machine. She looked up, saw me and, raising an eyebrow said "Hello."

Recognising that she wouldn't be falling asleep I thought why don't we do something nice and consulted the National Parks book for a suitable destination.

The entry for the Venman Bushland National Park had a picture of a wallaby on which, I thought, could hardly fail to be a winner.

"Let's go and see some wallabies" I said. "You'd like that wouldn't you."

"Wobblies!" she said, and that was that.

So off we set and, of course, she fell asleep in the car. Good job really because I took a wrong turn and we went around the houses a bit.

But we got there heventualleee and embarked on a little stroll which took us down by a tree-lined creek which offered shade and lovely reflections on the still water.

The forests south of Bris where this was (not a million miles from Have-a-Grope Forest) are a bit different from up North, with paperbarks much more prevalent. They're a bit more Bushy, if you catch my drift.

Eloise was merrily toddling along but got a bit tired after a while so elected to be cuddled (her euphemism for carried). "Where are the Wobblies" she asked, then insisted, then demanded. "I want Wobblies."

"WOBBLY!!!" she hooted as we broke into a clearing and indeed there were two, now hopping into the forest at breakneck speed.

The walking songs for the day were "Shoo Fly" and "This Old Man." She hasn't quite mastered the Nick Nack Paddy Whack line yet, but we're working on it.

Later, after getting a little lost, we saw another wallaby. She and It didn't cotton on for a bit, so I whispered "Look over there...." and she followed my pointed finger. If I'd had a free hand I would have stuck my other finger in my ear.


Nov 2, 2007


hi rise windows Nothwithstanding the four years sponsorship we've been granted we still have our permanent residency application in.

Rather than go through another set of medicals for this, we're using the medicals we had done a little while ago in support of this application, but I had to top mine up with a blood test.

So off I marched yesterday, having filled in another Form 26 (did I get the year right for my visit to hospital with tummy trouble of which my lasting memory is being gently explored in the rectal area?) down into twon on the bus to have a lady stick a needle in my arm and fill a bottle with blood do see if they could find any HIV.

Then I met up with the ladies to drink coffee.

Nov 1, 2007

The Ever Onward March of Time

Pent Up Energy Tiny is getting on a bit.

A few weeks ago - I don't remember if I mentioned it - she developed a swelling in a joint on one of her front legs. The doggy equivalent of a knee I suppose. A little embarrassingly it was actually spotted by a fellow dog-walker down at the creek who had some experience with greyhounds, and she said it was probably arthiritis.

And the vet, when I had my panic trip with suspected paralysis tickitis, which he thought was epilepsy, said she felt a little arthritic. In fact I'm leaning towards the theory that that particular episode was her just getting up too quickly.

On walks she can still get together a fair clip of speed for a while, if she has something to chase like a heron or me on a bike, but invariably it doesn't last very long and she's exhausted afterwards.

Sad really, but she is clocking on a bit... when we're asked how old she is we reckon eleven or twelve which in man-years is getting well into zimmer territory so she isn't doing too badly really.

When we go out now we're leaving the dogs outside at the mercy of the elements, not that they're very unkind. This is preparation for crossing the rubicon of leaving them behind in the care of neighbours should we decide to go away. To Sydney for instance. For the second weekend in December. For instance.

Oct 30, 2007

Another Crashing Return to Normal

Can't Eat, Talking Back to the old routine with beach, swimming, music, painting, brook etc the norm again.

Not much more to say than that really... except I took Eloise down to a Kite Festival on Sunday, regaling her with promises of seeing kites flying in the shapes of butterflies and whales and all sorts of fantastic shapes.

And her whoops of delight when my promises were fulfilled were most heartwarming. And, taking pity un us poor kiteless wretches, some kind people let us fly their kite for a little while. It only crashed and burned about six times.

Oct 26, 2007


Caught Exploring Eloise deviated from the track at Mount Glorious to look at the leaves and indulge in a little produire d'eau au naturel.

Visa renewed

It has been two months since I submitted our paperwork for renewing the sponsorship visa and have finally heard that it has been approved. Lucky really as we have a five year lease on the motor. Neil and I caught the bus into the city this afternoon whilst Eloise was at nursery and spent a shorter than expected time queuing in the brand new offices of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to get out passports stamped. To our surprise we have been granted a four year visa as I had only asked for two years to cover us whilst the permanent residency is being processed in Adelaide. Hopefully this means they think we are worthy citizens and grant us residency without any further ado. Then off we toddled to get out medicare cards renewed. During our administrative afternoon we managed to sneak in coffee and cake at our regular coffee shop on Adelaide Street. After all, it is my day off.

Rainforests and Barbecues

Dad Shirley wasn't feeling too hot on Tuesday so we canned Mooloolaba.

We thought about going to Nudgee Beach in the morning then Maiala in the afternoon, but the tides weren't right so we switched around, then canned the beach anyway as we didn't feel it would come up to the exacting touristic standards our visitors might expect, and opted for a barbie down in the city by the river under Story Bridge.

The rainforest seemed to go down pretty well, as it's kind of a unique experience with an atmosphere you don't get in too many places what with the huge trees and gentle calm punctuated by exotic bird calls and a subtle all-pervasive insect buzz coming from some mystery direction.

We walked all the way down to a waterfall, which was actually a-trickling a little bit, surprisingly. I looked after Eloise so we were trailing behind most of the way but we had quite a jolly time.

Then we stopped off at a nice little restaurant in Mount Glorious and had a light lunch thingy on their veranda. A veranda incidentally which offers views down across the D'Aguilar Mountains and the Samford Valley across to Strathpine and Sandgate on Moreton Bay with Moreton Island in the distance.

Nicole's special barbecued kebabs were consumed with relish across the river from the gleaming towers as the sun went down underneath Story Bridge.

On Wednesday morning we took Eloise swimming, I in the pool with the little tinker, the others sipping coffee on the edge. She did quite well, but is developing a distressing reluctance to jump into the water. Instead she employs a safety-conscious turn around and climb gently into the water tactic unless her hands are being held. We'll have to work on that.

When Eloise went to bed I took Dad and Shirley off to a hotel. They had to leave for the airport at 3am and very kindly didn't wish to disturb our slumber at that hour. So I took them down to the Hacienda Hotel in Hamilton and said Adios to them.

And there, dear readers, ended the visit. I think they enjoyed it. They certainly liked Brisbane. Well who wouldn't.

So off they go to New Zealand. It was a bit hot for them here, I hope it isn't too cold for them there!

It was nice to see the old boy, and great that he could make it here. It's a long journey, no mistake, but one that's worth making.

So it was with a twinge of emotion that I pumped up the car stereo to 11 and high-tailed it home with hardcore acid-techno blaring. And got lost.

Oct 25, 2007

Miasma -> Marina

Marina I briefly got out of bed the next day for some supper.

Apparently they had been out to supper the previous night in Wilston, and that day they'd gone to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where they'd coincidentally bumped into Rachel and Gavin. Well they say it's just a big small town really.

Eloise had had a long day and no sleep and was climbing the walls, so the kind offer of a restaurant was declined and Nicole made a roast which with our oven took a long time to cook to an acceptable level of sterility. Still my veggie flan thingy was nice!

The next day, Monday if I'm right, was music day and I physically couldn't stay in bed any longer as my back was starting to sieze up and I'd finished my book.

In order not to overwhelm the music class with Eloise attendants we let Brendan and Shirley go duo and they seemed to get on fine.

In the afternoon they took Eloise out for a stroll and we went off to meet up with Rachel and Gavin at Manly as they were flying out the next day, which was a nice break for us. ABC Local Radio had a hilarious item on about unwanted house guests which we thought might be apropos to them as they'd been staying with Gavin's sister for two weeks.

We stopped off on the way back to pick up some kebabs as we'd decided to go up the coast the next day to Mooloolaba, and the traffic was ghastly on the way back with a big bushfire on the Gateway Motorway which was casting a great plume over the Eastern horizon.

Turned out Eloise hadn't woken up til 4 o'clock anyway and when we got back they were chatting to Peter from next door, who'd brought round my Lottery winnings.

Yes it's official I'm rich... but no begging letters please, I've spent it all already on coffee and cakes.

I'm buggered if I can remember what we did in the evening unless that was the night we went to the Nepalese restaurant...? Oh yeah, it was.

Oct 24, 2007

Tour Guides R Us

River and Road Last Friday - it seems like a long time ago - we dropped Eloise off at Nursery and had a mad dash around Mt Coot-tha with the mutts before setting off for the airport to pick up the old fella and Shirley.

We were a little late owing to the excellent new traffic lights at the airport whose purported safety function has the unfortunate side-effect off transforming even the mildest of traffic into grinding gridlock.

Oh, and we went to the wrong terminal section as I'd forgotten what airline they were flying on.

Anyway we found them without too much trouble and after dropping their caravan of baggage off at home, and conduting the tour of the house and grounds, went up to Mount Coot-tha for some lunch.

You'd think that they'd have changed what with us having been on the other side of the world for a year, but of course we've been video calling on a regular basis so we knew what they'd look like. It was probably nice for them to see us withouth the purple rinse that our webcam washes over us, but I shouldn't think they were too suprised either. I didn't get any comments on my golden bronze windsept outdoorsman complexion anyway.

Not for us the good old café though, it was made clear that we were to be treated at every opportunity, which was nice, and so we repaired to the mountain top restaurant to eat ourselves silly.

The aforementioned jacaranda trees got a good reception, your see I wasn't lying when I said they were very pretty, and they seemed to appreciate the general greenery of the exotic subtropical foliage and all that.

We picked up Eloise from nursery and the grandmotherly and grandfatherly cooing started in earnest, and presents were unwrapped to general acclaim and then early to bed as they'd had a long day.

A tentative itenerary had been discussed and we had various trips on the agenda. Day 1 was the city where we had an ambitious plan of walking up and down South Bank, going on CityCats and all that, and to be fair we accomplished a lot of it, but an en-masse excursion to the brook first thing ate into the time somewhat.

Still after Eloise had had her nap we set off into the city and parked down at the South Bank. I had a runny nose for a couple of days and unfortunately started feeling progressively iller and iller, and when called on to make decisions I was at best inconsistent.

So after the merest sniff of South Bank - no pagoda, no Branded Beach - we were on a Citycat and heading up river past the city and under the Story Bridge, and out past New Farm and back.

We stopped at Riverside and hopped off so we could walk across town, and my whole body had started to ache. I adopted that listless "I'm living partly in the spirit world and have chains around my ankles" walk and was half-talked into going home to my bed, where I was safely ensconced by six o'clock. I did not emerge for twenty four hours and then only briefly.

Oct 18, 2007


Jacaranda The Jacaranda trees are out in blossom just now, and very nice they look too. Brisbane is punctuated by their lilac blossoms along its roadsides and in its parks. It's very pretty at this time of year.

It's been quite hot, but cooling down for the last couple of days, no doubt in preparation to rain for Dad and Shirley's arrival tomorrow...

They are scheduled to arrive at 11.35am and we will pick them up from the airport around midday. Fingers crossed that their bags will fit in the car, eh?

Consequently Eloise and I today did a spot of housework, though we didn't get around to doing any dusting. Maybe we'll have a last minute panic tomorrow. Probably.

And yesterday we built a clothes-hanging-metal-thingy that Janice has let us have. Neil her husband took it apart and pointed out that attention would need to be paid to some little rubber grommits with the screws, but I was buggered if I could find them. Still it went together OK on the second attempt, with only a couple of pieces left over. As Leonard Nimoy said, true perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Eloise's toilet habits are progressing well. We are down to one or two wet nappies a day, after sleeping. Otherwise she is asking to go to the toilet and performing number ones three or four times a day.

Number twos are still being deposited in the garden. There's no hurry.

Today's catchphrase has been "What are you doing Neil." I calculate that, on average, she has been uttering said catchphrase once or twice a minute, taking sleep time into account, and given a six-thirty am start, by eight o'clock tonight I reckon 14*60*2=1680 times I've said "Practising the patience of a saint."

Spoke too soon

Recently I worked a long day on a Sunday and it was so quiet that the most exciting thing I did between 15:30 - 19:30 was heat a hot pack for someone. I prefer to be busy and generally find something else to do when we are quiet, but there are only so many times you can tidy the drug cupboard into correct alphabetical order.

This past week things have got busy again, in the allocation I have been working at any rate. Today I have done things I had never done before which has been really enjoyable. I have given fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate whose clotting factors are deranged and I was involved in a clinical trial of transfusing mesenchymal stem cells to a lady with steroid refractory acute graft versus host disease of the gut. The mesenchymal stem cells repair muscle, tendon, cartilage and skin tissue so the hope is to repair the damage caused post transplant. I understand too little but am learning alot.

Oct 16, 2007


Misty Mountain There it is, as plain as day, looming over the horizon. The storm wot got us.

It was with us in an hour from when this photo was taken. And we didn't even notice it.

Our telly blew up last week and as a result we have had, well perhaps blissful isn't quite the right word, but a quiet time without Thomas the Bleeding Tank Engine on constantly. Also getting going in the morning is actually a lot easier without ABC Kids.

When the whole house-swap-suddenly-over thing was going on we ran into Janice down the brook and she offered us the use of some stuff that's sitting in her cellar.

This week we took her up on the offer to replace the telly with a smaller, less ostentatious number (less ostentatious being quite a challenge) and while we were at it, we relieved her of a double futon.

This is pretty important as what with the imminent arrival of the first parental visitors, they being Dad and Shirley, and imminent meaning this Friday, we need to sort out the sleeping arrangements.

We'd planned on forfeiting the marital boudoir and debunking to the spare room for to sleep on air mattresses procured for the purpose of camping, but the air mattresses have spruing leaks and a plan B was clearly necessary.

So now, armed with a double futon, we may well retain our own bed and Dad and Shirley can slum it on the futon.

I've just got to build the clothes-hanger-thingy.

Acts of human kindness

Last Thursday I was cycling home at break neck speed as Rachel and Gavin were sleeping over before the trip to Lamington National Park. Half way up Kedron Brook Road I heard a thump on the road and when I searched my bag my mobile phone was missing. I walked back down the road to find only my bike lock but no mobile. When I got home I called it from Neil's mobile - no answer. Well, that's the last I see of that then. I got on the phone to Telstra to cancel the SIM. Neil's phone rang and a lovely lady was calling from my phone which she had found on the street by the hospital. I drove down and collected and had to resrain myself from giving her a huge hug. How very charitable.

By complete contrast, this afternoon I was driving back from Eloise's music lesson and decided to pop into the library to collect a book I reserved for book club. I pulled into a space outside the library facing the oncoming traffic (this will become apparent why I am telling you this shortly). As I was getting Eloise out of the car the old boy parked in front of me got out and thanked me for blocking him in. I looked at the space between our cars and the one behind him and said he had plently of room. As I continued he told me that I wasn't allowed to park into the direction of oncoming traffic and pointed out how everyone else was parked in the correct direction. I just shrugged my shoulders and carried on. When Neil and I were studying for our driving licences I do not recall any such rules. He then said "what country do you come from anyway?". By this point I had had enough and ever the diplomat resorted to the lowest form of wit and replied "one where we park on the wrong side of the road apparantly". He had obviously had all his humour removed and didn't see the funny side and started shouting "scum bag" at me! I just grabbed Eloise by the hand and hot footed it into the library. Luckily for me he had managed to get out of the awfully tight spot I had left him in. What a charmer.

Oct 13, 2007

Déja Vu (of the Driving Down a Mountain in the Rain Variety)

Rainbow Yesterday we went up to the Lamington National Park with Rachel and Gavin for a day's bushwalking while Eloise was in nursery.

It took us a couple of hours to get there via Beenleigh and Canungra; the last leg up a winding country road, one-lane in places, reminiscent of the dreaded Mount Glorious road on which we famously came unstuck, quite literally, with disastrous results. Though, to be fair, not as steep.

It was a bright sunny day, although true to form the weather this week has been pretty bad, intermittently at least, with frequent thunderstorms rattling across the Gold Coast in particular... which is near where we were going.

The weather forecast said not to worry though and off we toddled.

We did the tree-top walk, which you'll remember consists of a wooden walkway suspended in the treetops, and a ladder which leads up into a very tall tree from which there are commanding views across the volcanic outriding ridges of the ancient Mount Warning.

Climbing up, my camera knocked against something and my lens cap went sailing down into the forest below. What a bummer.

So Gavin and I went down underneath and looked for it, and amazingly after ten minutes or so I found the runaway lens cap nestled in a rotting log. Result!

We retired back to the picnic area where needless to say Nicole embarked upon one of her gourmet barbecues. Rachel contributed a rather tasty potato salad, and all in all it was really tasty. The local birds thought so too and were raiding us for food; the little bastards were very pretty though, brightly colours parrots and suchlike things.

Our second walk of the day was down to Moran's Falls, and we drove down there a little tentatively as we'd noticed the sky was looking a little angry and grim over that way.

Sure enough as we got out of the car and set off, the odd rumble was making itself heard. We thought we'd make it down as far as we could then turn around, but soon the rumbles were getting really ominous and I was re-living the Mount Glorious experience, thinking hmmmm..... steep roads, winding corners, wet conditions....

So I called a halt after about ten minutes of walking and suggested that we might actually like to cut our losses and leg it.

As we were getting back to the car little splotched of rain were starting to fall, but nothing to worry about. To add atmosphere to our journey I opened my window and almost immediately there was a flash of lightning followed a few seconds later by a most excellent crack of thunder.

And then the heavens, as they say, opened.

Torrential is a word that is sometimes loosely used to describe rain that's probably only really heavy. This rain was torrential. Leaves were knocked out of trees by it.... branches were knocked out of trees by it. With windscreen wipers on full blast, we couldn't see where we were going.

We stopped.

After a while the rain started to let up, so we pressed on. A little further down the hill more cars were parked by the side of the road. They must have felt chicken because as we drove past they decided it was safe all of a sudden.... poor fools.

The second pulse of rain was stronger than the first if anything. Boughs of trees were lying in the road, which wasn't so much tarmac down here as a picturesque covering of green leaves. The rain was broken up by the rainforest canopy to become a fine mist, or at least a fine mist vaguely punctuated the torrent that ran down the windscreen like some designer water feature gone mad. The sides of the road here were white; we realised it was hail and started to count our blessings as we tentatively made our way down... if we'd been caught in the hail the car might have looked like it had been involved in a shoot-out...

Further down a tree had fallen over the road, with the base perched on the hillside, allowing us just enough room to drive the car underneath.

The rain let up after a while and the sun came out. Lovely rainbows. Ahhhh.

We stopped for a rest. I needed to relieve myself.

At Canungra we decided to look for a coffee shop. Gavin and I looked at the sky and saw how quickly the clouds were scudding across... and then we heard the thunder.

And so we set off again.

We saw branch lightning hit the ground by Mount Tamborine. Which was nice.

It took us four hours to get home... Eloise was in Nursery for nearly nine hours! Oooops!

Oct 10, 2007

More Visitors

Aspirational Myopia Rachel, Nicole's old pilates buddy and her husband Gavin are in town. His sister lives in Wynnum and they are here on a two-week holiday.

We met up with them the other day for a coffee and went to Urban Bites in Wilston for a decadent cuppa. I had a mysteriously-named Mochagatto which consisted of an espresso with a dollop of ice cream served with a jug of melted Belgian chocolate, which melted the ice cream as it was poured on.

Needless to say, as someone we know is visiting, soon the heavens opened and there was a cracking thunderstorm.

Yesterday again there was a thunderstorm, and today we had a thunderstorm. I blame Nicole personally.

We went swimming today for the first time after the school holidays. Eloise had a hoot trundling up and down the pool and doing her monkey-monkeys but when it came to jumping in and all that, she seems to have lost her bottle, preferring instead to climb in very cautiously. Hmmmm.

Oct 7, 2007

Binna Buggered

On a Bed of Leaves I phoned ahead to French Nicole and arranged to meet up with the happy snappers an hour late up at Binna Burra, and second time lucky we set off again, down into the city and alongside the river along the Riverside Expressway on a bright morning, singing along to various artists.

Eloise fell asleep after a while and soon I found ourselves in a traffic jam leading up to the theme park megaplex of the Gold Coast at Coomera. Eventually I rubbernecked with the rest of them at some poor benighted soul standing stunned by their trashed car in the fast lane with its side and a good portion of its front missing. But on the bright side we were almost instantly up to 110 again and forging ahead.

Soon we were running up that hill (Kate Bush) at sixty miles an hour (New Order) along the autobahn (Kraftwerk) looking at the big sky (Kate Bush again) with the invisible sun (Police) behind us somewhere.

We met up with French Nicole, Val and Geoff and wandered really very slowly around a little rainforest track. Eloise didn't actually have much to do with the slowness of the affair; the others had been at it since 9.30 and had made it around 400 metres around the track.

Still Eloise made it her business to investigate Nicole's baggage (I should point out that, as usual, we were seriously underequipped) and made off with her car keys, which had an amusing mouse attached to the key ring which vibrated when she pulled on a cord which emanated from its rear end. It had to be recovered by stealth.

After she started begging the others for food, I thought maybe it was time to go back to the car and get some lunch, and was surprised that a couple of hours had passed already. I'd spent most of my time keeping half and eye on the little terror and making sure she wasn't getting her mitts on anything dangerous (in the baggage) or getting her feet on anything dangerous (in the undergrowth). The others had been merrily tramping about taking pictures of god knows what.

Halfway back to the car Eloise decided she'd had enough of this really and did one of those lay down on the floor and withdraw co-operation acts.

Still after a couple of sandwiches and an orange and a packet of crisps she seemed to perk up, to the extent that she started to chase away the brush turkeys and magpies that had their beady eyes on our food.

When the others caught up we decided to go up and do a short circuit up by the coffee shop.

I used the pretext of "toilet" (hopefully implying a nappy change) to take the opportunity to relieve the enormous pressure my gastro-intestinal tract was under by this point.

My eyes were starting to bulge a little as we went into the gents to discover the throne occupied.

So we repaired to the disabled toilet to find a note on the door saying "Please knock before entering as the door doesn't close properly."

My eyes bulged further at the thought of me on the throne squeezing out a monster derek whilst Eloise opened the door and legged it down the corridor into the coffee shop. But there was nothing for it.

In the event, there was no event, and nappies were changed and pressure relieved without incident. And yes, it was a monster.

We went up to the walking track, but having been in the coffee shop, and knowing what coffee shops sell, Eloise was no longer interested in rainforests and refused to participate further. At which point we cut our losses and bailed out.

Eloise slept a bit on the way back home but when we got back around 4 o'clock we were both pretty tired. My bottom hurt (from the three hours of driving) and we still had to go and get dog food and offer technical support across the road.

By the time Nicole got back home at 7.30 or so and Eloise was in bed, I was absolutely buggered after my extremely long day.

The Crack of Dawn

Jellyfish Another photographic expedition today.

The rendezvous was at Binna Burra, a section of the Lamington National Park which sits atop the Northern slopes of the now-eroded supervolcano, Mt Warning, on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. At ten o'clock.

So in order to get the dogs walked and all that I had Nicole wake me up at 5.45am.


We went in to get Eloise up and found her on the big bed in her room, sound asleep, and dead to the world. A little prodding later and all she wanted was cuddles. There was some event or suggestion that kicked her into life after a while, but I can't remember what it was, I was on another planet.

We got to the beach around 7am which I didn't think was too bad considering. The tide was mostly in though, which was a bit annoying, and the heat was starting to build up a bit even that early in the morning. There were shoals of jellyfish stranded on the tideline.

Things were going according to plan until we went to the café for our habitual post-beach coffee and baby chino. They just took ages to turn up as a bunch of cyclists turned up just before us.

Personally I suspect that the café may not be the best oiled catering machine in the world. Still it's a nice place for a coffee.

We got home about 8.30. The neighbours we out on the street conflabbing away so we joined in for a bit. But time was getting tight so we hoofed it around 8.45, at which point half way to town I realised I still had my flip-flops, sorry jandals, sorry thongs on, which is not good rainforest gear considering the ticks and leeches and all.

So back again back again jiggety jig to get some trainers on.

Now seriously late.

Oct 5, 2007

A Winning Smile

A Winning Smile "I want it"
"I want this"
"It's mine"
"My fork"
"My spoon"
"My knife"
"My jellybaby"
"I want Playsicle"
"I want music on"
"I want CD"
"I want painting"
"I painting"
"I drawing"
"I want train"
"Where are you"
"Where's Mummy"
"Where's Val"
"Where's Peter"
"Where's Alice"
"Where's Lexie"
"See Val?"
"See Alice?"
"Want to see Alice"
"Want to see Lexie"
"Walk dogs"
"Not bike"
"I take picture"

It's enough to drive you insane. It has me.

Selective Hearing

Can't Hear You being developed.

Oct 4, 2007

Sunset Over Brisbane River

Sunset Over the Botanical Gardens Nicole had the day off yesterday, but we were both quite tired so had a quiet day.

In the afternoon/evening we went down to the river in the city and toddled around. Eloise met a little boy and she and Nicole sat down and made friends with his mum while I wandered around and climbed the cliffs and all that jazz.

Climbing up the stairs I met a guy I know who works with the chap across the road. I might do some work for him putting a website together.

When I got back down Nicole and Eloise had exchanged phone numbers with their newfound friends and who knows maybe playdates will follow.

Eloise performed once more in a public toilet so the toilet training seems to be going well. She had another success for me today.

Oct 2, 2007

Eloise's recent successes

We have been persevering with the toilet training. This evening I received a text from Neil saying that Eloise had wee-ed on the toilet (not the potty). She received two stars. Yesterday she had a poo on the potty, but I noticed she had been walking with her cheeks clenched so I shoved the potty under her, which is cheating really, but she got a star anyhow.

Eloise can wink. It is a very deliberate concentrated wink. Neil is impressed as his first wink was at 8 years old after weeks of practising. She can also inherited the ability to raise an eyebrow from me.

She is also beoming quite cheeky/literal. We ask her something along the lines of "Do you want to have your nappy off or not?", usually after several attempts falling upon that well known childhood disease commonly known as selective hearing, and madam will reply "not". Most of the time we are unable to contain our laughter - we are doomed as parents!

She is becoming increasingly sociable and spends alot of her time sitting by the gate shouting for Alice/Peter/Val/Carol/Paul. I think she just thinks Neil and I are boring. Luckily the gate is very difficult to operate at the best of times otherwise she would disappear to see the neighbours all the time.

Oct 1, 2007

Back to the Old Routine

Sun Sea Sand With the departure of Chris, and Nicole's return to work, we have come back down to earth with a thud.

And it's the school holidays, meaning no swimming and no music. We have to make our own entertainment.

What a bummer. This means unpleasant things like going to the beach, walks down at the brook with the dogs, going to rainforests and all those unpalatable things like cooking, and napping and sneaking around the house while Mum is asleep during the day.

I have rebooted my repertoire of culinary favourites and we are back to stir-fries, lentils and haloumi. Which is nice, in a way. I haven't quite got back into the groove with the shopping though.

We've started to pay rent also, which is extremely painful to observe on the bank balance sheet. With our unusual spending patterns over the last few weeks, the jury's still out on how this will pan out.

Carol has lent Eloise some videos, and she's grown very attached to Thomas the Tank Engine. This particular video has stories interspersed with singalong songs performed by some school choir or other. If I hear "It's Thomas the Tank Engine/Hip Hip Hip Hip Hooray" one more time I'm going to... curse silently under my breath and wait for Squeaky to lose interest.

Now Nicole has finished nights, and I don't think she enjoyed them much. She's had worse-than-usual hayfever and one day her glands came up rather nastily. Though when mine did the same thing the next day we realised that maybe we've got something else. We have also had delicate tummies, today especially for me. So I've rested today.

Yesterday when Nicole had her bad guts she seemed inclined to feel that the best way to handle them was by doing housework in the morning and going to Bribie Island in the afternoon. We walked up the beach with the dogs as the heat of the day started to dissipate and Eloise borrowed someone's boogie board, though she didn't know quite what to do with it. Perhaps we should get her one and begin her transformation into a surf-chick.

The weather has been glorious, topping out between 28 and 30 degrees the last few days. Cloudless skies and all that. Very nice.

Sep 26, 2007

Over and Out from Uncle Chip

Chris and Eloise On Monday we gave a Chris a lift to the airport and put off the inevitable to the tune of two cups of coffee.

Nicole shed a tear but Chris was very stoic as he purposefully made his way up the escalator after having to go through the metal detector three times.

I'm a bit sad to see him go really as on and off he's been a regular fixture over the past few months and I've met some nice people through him.

And Eloise of course has loved having him around.

She was looking at her inflatable Airbus A380 the other day, pointing at a window and calling "Chrissy!" to it. Isn't childish imagination wonderful.

So life goes crashing back to some kind of normality for the next three weeks or so until Dad and Shirley grace us with their presence.

Sep 25, 2007

Beach Bum

It's Warm What Eloise likes to do when we go to the beach is to hang around at the top of the beach making vague attempts at making sand castles.

Then she'll find some water, sit down in it, complain that her shorts are wet, and take them off.

Then she'll find some other water, lie down in it, complain that her shirt is wet, and take that off.

If we haven't planned for this and slathered her all over in sunscreen, this generally merits a premature end to the beach activities.

If we have, then she'll move onto the hat.

Happy Birthday to Her

At some point after we got back it became Nicole's birthday.

In fact on Friday we kind of chilled out in a let's go walking the dogs at Mount Coot-tha as it's Friday and Eloise is in Nursery kind of way. Then we ate some lunch and had Nicole do a urine test (remember that?) and wandered round town for a bit. Then we went to Paddington and bought Nicole some presents, those being thongs and some short shorts. Not too eventful.

On Saturday Chris and Nicky pitched up and whinged about sandflies, so we went to the beach. Naturally as it was her birthday Nicole chose this and all destinations for the day, although she was unable to keep any of us awake at lunch-time-nap-time. In the evening we were treated to dinner out at Citron in Wilston by Chris.

Eloise was on good form, especially after stealing and necking my Coke. Nicole was attempting to be on our best behaviour as she was feeling rather intimidated by the poshness of it all. I think that certain people got a little drunk.

We watched the last episode of Doctor Who on video. Unfortunately it was awful.

Happy Birthday, Nicole.