Jan 31, 2007

Surfer's Paradise

Surfers Paradise Skyline This afternoon we made our way to Surfer's Paradise. A while ago on the Gold Coast Council's website I was looking for dog-friendly beaches, and there was one here, so with some trepidation on my part (not knowing if it would just be a pile of rocks) we set off down the Pacific Highway and straight into a traffic jam.

It took us a couple of hours to get there, which was a pity, because about three quarters of an hour of that was spent at a snail's pace. Then my eyes started to sting, then sting like blazes, and Nicole had to take over driving while my poor red orbs recovered from whatever it was that was bothering them.

Still as we drew near we oooohed at Dreamworld on the left hand side, I aaaahed (but not so loudly, you couldn't really see it) at Movie World, and we drove straight past our exit onto the Gold Coast motorway. No worries though, we got off at the next exit and that was just as good... only we ran straight into some roadworks.

Soon though we were in Southport and making a right turn down the Esplanade then across the Gold Coast bridge, as the multicoloured skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise rose above us like the laser towers on the Death Star.

Oooooh! Sea World on the left hand side! Aaaaaah! Massive car park on the right hand side! Is that for the beach we're going to?

We got out of the car and walked about fifty yards to the beach. Nicole didn't believe it was there because it looked like the path we were walking up went straight out onto a harbour pier. But no! there is the beach stretching away from us, perfect sand, young surfer types frolicking in the shallows, people walking - with dogs - and the high-rise Surfer's Paradise skyline in the distance.

So down to the beach we went, in the surf we frolicked. The currents were fairly strong and the swell unpredictable. At one point I was looking in the wrong direction when a wave got me and soaked my shorts through. Eloise and the dogs were similarly caught unawares.

We got out buckets and spades and made little sandcastles.

Matilda annoyed picknickers.

The sun went down and we went into town to find a chip shop, but no luck. We got a pizza back in Bris instead. Which was nice.

Jan 30, 2007


Reach and Hold Nicole had the day off so went swimming with Eloise. I sat on the side and took a few snapshots.

Eloise was by far and away the most enthusiastic of the kiddies there, and I strongly resent any aspersions as regards her talent in the water. As far as I'm concerned she can kick her legs and waggle her arms and get around the pool, and those are the skills you need, innit?

She was grinning from ear to ear when she wasn't swallowing water, and I was a very proud dad (ack, ack).

Ouch - the order of my day

It rained quite heavily last night along with thunder and lightning. I was considering getting up and having a look at the weather out of the window but couldn't be bothered to so must have fallen back to sleep. Poor Tiny was quite upset and barked at the thunder. The dog bowl was full of water so it must have rained a good few inches. The brook was swollen and to be expected the cycle ride was a sweaty one as it was fairly humid.

Ouch 1: It was a short lived ride as I had to be at the dentist by 11:15. It was the first use of our MediBank private healthcare insurance. The dentist was good and are very family orientated so next time I will take Eloise with me to start her induction into dental hygiene. I stopped off at the pharmacy to buy some flouride tablets as the tap water here does not have flouride added.

Ouch 2: On my way home I noticed a sign offering eyebrow waxes for $10. I have noticed that my eyebrows have become very unruly recently in the harsh lights of the toilets at work. The lady was able to see me there and then. To offset the ouch her mum makes little cakes for afterwards. Very nice too.

Ouch 3: After lunch we hot footed it to swimming where Eloise was told she had more enthousiasm than talent. No one seems to have that much talent in our class.

Ouch 4: I finally got around to booking myself into a pilates class. Now, I reckon I am fairly fit. Infact, I noticed the other day at work when I tried the pulse oximeter on my finger that my pulse has reduced from 88 to 74 beats per minute. Well, I was warned that pilates was done differently here. The class is run by a physiotherapist so is clinical pilates. He seemed to spend quite a bit of the lesson correcting me. I decided to book into a class next week as I am anticipating that I will not be able to move tomorrow without being in agony and change my mind about doing another session. I walked over the road to buy some leeks for supper and my leg muscles were trembling. Hopefully, by the end of Febuary I'll be getting stronger.

Jan 29, 2007

Path Less Trodden

Treetops Kids go back to school which is good because traffic disappears and we can go take dogs out to nice places where they shouldn't really be!

We romped around Mount Coot-tha and explored a little path that led down into the valley. I lost my footing a few times scrambling over rocks and, needless to say, Matilda found a bone. Again, it didn't look human. Eventually the path became quite overgrown and I started possibly, just possibly to think it was possible I would have to climb all the way back up again in the late morning heat before I reached the other end of track with a whacking great "Path Closed" sign over it.

On the way back up we were treated to a bloke walking up the track near where we were resting next to a still forest pool, cursing roundly to himself and shouting obscenities at the poor trees.


Jan 28, 2007

Ice Cream

Ice Cream When Nicole got back from her early shift, Eloise was still having her afternoon nap. She was tired after the two and a half hours we spent rock-hopping down at the brook, falling into the brook (that was me...) and pushing the pram back. Hard work.

We decided to take a bike ride down to Wilston where there is an ice cream shop on Kedron Brook Road. There we had scoops of boysenberry, ferrero rocher, and chocolate amongst other things. Contrary to the impression you might get from the photo, Eloise didn't really want hers, but dragged me into the shop for bottled water (though Coke might have been what she was really after). Is she turning into a health freak?

Nicole was worried that I wouldn't make it back up the hill as it's quite steep and with a baby on the back and high rolling resistance (that's a technical term) the off-road bike I'm riding might not be ideal but after considerable hammering away in first gear we made it up the hill OK, breaking the trip back up with a stop at the Lanham Park playground where Eloise took a fancy to a little girl's pink pram and pushed it around the park for a while.

Jan 27, 2007

She knows what she wants

Rearranging We spent a jolly half hour today having an amiable non-verbal disagreement over the foot mats at the back door.

There are two mats, one a kind of raffia material, for want of a better word, the other one a softer weave. The former obviously for outdoors, the latter obviously for indoors, unless your name is Eloise, who insisted on switching them around every time she encountered them arranged properly (according to me, anyway).

It was "quite warm" today, that is to say the sweat was rolling of a bit even though movement wasn't really being attempted over and above the usual cycling, housework, cooking.... so I though we would go out in the car to buy some sunscreen which we were running low on.

I was hunting around for the address of the Skin Cancer Charity shop as Nicole was keen on getting the sunscreen from there, but stumled across a reference to a place called "Kidscape" on a piece of paper, and thought "Kiddy Fun" followed closely by "Air Conditioning" and soon thereafter we set off, picking up dog food and new dog bowls to replace the paltry piece (yes, piece) of plastic which remained.

When we got to the legendary Kidscape, it wasn't air conditioned. It was outside. But it was quite impressive. According to the blurb on prominent display there, it was designed in consultation with children and consisted of the large multi-level wooden warren with swings, slides, climbing frames and so on, under large roofs.

Needless to say, much fun was had by both. And a fair bit of sweating done.

Spontaneous fondue

It has been quite warm here today. I don't know that first hand as I have been stuck in an air conditioned building all day. Who said going to work was hard? Anyhow, I came home to a supper waiting for me. I just fancied a chocolate and there are a couple left over from Christmas... it was likely a very posh hot chocolate in a wrapper. Quite nice really.

Last Tourist Gasp

The View from Mount Coot-tha cropped We got ourselves ready and set off up to the lookout at Mount Coot-tha for a last gasp of tourism prior to dropping Sarah off for the next leg of her trip.

We looked out over Brisbane and the view across the Brisbane River to Moreton Bay, pointing out shopping centres, off all things. The hustle and bustle of the city happened below us, in slow motion and on dinky scale.

We took a few snaps then had a cup of coffee. We were due at the Holiday Inn at midday; we set of at eleven thirty and were there at eleven forty-five.

Delivery completed and goodbyes made, we headed back home and had a spot of lunch (baked beans and kidney beans on toast) which didn't go down partularly well as we were full from the café.

Then, back to the old routine... Eloise napped, and we went and walked the dogs later at the brook.

Our little holiday is over. Very enjoyable it was too.

Jan 25, 2007

Another parasite experience

On Tuesday evening we went out to Nudgee Beach with a barbeque in the backpack. Sarah and I had made tempeh and dory (fish) kebabs. As usual, I am incapable of portion control so there was plenty left for Wednesday lunchtime. We trotted off to Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. Sarah wondered how I knew there would be barbeque facilities there. They are everywhere so it would have been highly unlikely if they weren't. Luckily, I was proved right and they were close-to-nature barbeques heated by fire. We found one that had embers still going so was very easy to get going again. I was in seventh heaven. That Sarah is a bad influence upon me so we washed our lunch down with red wine.

After lunch we went for a tame rainforest walk. Sarah spotted some pademelons (very small kangaroos). They seemed to be quite used to people and didn't jump away until Eloise started to walk towards them. Once I had returned her to the path she started to scratch at her right foot. Initially I thought it was a twig stuck in her sandal but on closer inspection realised it was moving. I hurried to get her buckle undone and tried to grab this moving creature but it resisited being removed. At this point I began to panic... "Neil, get it off. Oh my god, get it off quick. It's borrowing into her foot for god's sake" and possibly some other language that cannot be repeated otherwise more of our hits will be from people searching for pornographic sites (ever since Neil entitled one of his entries Wet cam we have been having looking at our site!). Luckily Neil managed to get the leach off Eloise's foot. It was peculiar as it kept jumping into a different part of Eloise's foot each time Neil tried to move it. The leech was about 3-4cm long and was very skinny and incredibly mobile. Once we got it off Eloise's foot and landed on the boardwalk it stuck itself at its mouth end and appeared to wave in the wind. It looked just like a leaf. After that paranoia set in, as it does with those pesky mosquitos, and I kept imagining leeches in the pathway.

Still want to visit?

Glass House Mountains Dusk

Glass House Mountains Dusk It was nearly seven by the time we got to the Mountain. We'd had to wait for the pizza to be cooked, and it was further down the Bruce Highway then we had remembered.

We climbed the Mountain in the gathering dusk, dourly noting the it wasn't going to be much of a sunset, as we couldn't see the sun for all the cloud.

Nevertheless as we reached the lookout, hot and sweaty for the steep climb, and, well, looked out, the view was as spectacular as last time, which the Glass House Mountains laid out below us looking majestic, unreal and unnatural.

The darkness gathered and soon we couldn't see the pizza we were eating, let alone Eloise who was running around and making herself busy in the murk.

Down to the Sunshine Coast

Nicole, Eloise, Sarah All this monkey business took up more time than we'd thought - by the time we got back into the car it was four thirty.

All plans to see Noosa were abandoned and we hot footed it to Mooloolaba to go and frolic on the beach there.

So frolic we did for about fifteen minutes - but the sea air was very nice and the sand soft and fine under our feet.

Eloise slept a little on the way down. Considering how long the day ad been she was doing very well. She was now wearing Nicole's sarong as she had taken a fancy to it.

We went to get a pizza and up to Wild Horse Mountain.

The Rainforest

Hollow Strangler Fig After lunch we embarked on our rainforest walk. The entrance was through a small exhibition space, and when we walked out the back the temperature had already dropped considerable and the soundscape had changed markedly. Now we could hear whip birds and the sounds of strange animals, reminiscent of cats or babies. It was suddenly quite dark, and the forest beneath the canopy was dense.

Occasionally we saw some wildlife - I felt something land on my foot and Sarah said that she say a lizard ran across the path and across it. Pademelons (little wallaby-like things) were foraging around in the thick undergrowth.

We ambled along very gently until the parasite incident I alluded to in last night's post which Nicole can explain as she did all the panicking.

Our pace picked up considerably after that....

Glass House Mountains

Glass House Mountains We decided yesterday to embark upon an ambitious tour of the Glass House Mountains and Sunshine Coast. The plan was to drive up to Noosa via Maleny and the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, which I'd heard was a nice spot, then down to Wild Horse Mountain and home.

I walked the dogs whilst the ladies got a lunch together which we hoped to barbecue either at the Reserve or at Noosa. This would be the longest the dogs had been left on their own in the house, and they needed a good bit of exercise to tire them out. It was a hot day and half an hour later they were dead on their feet.

So we set off and embarked on an interesting drive through Caboolture, through the Glass House Mountains, past Australia Zoo (up Steve Irwin Way...) then up through Peachester into the hills.

The road twisted and turned like the apcryphal twisty turny thing, and occasionally through the trees a view opened up beneath us with the Glass House Mountains set out on the plain below.

When we got to the Reserve the view into the valley was spectacular, as pictured above. When we investigated further we found wood-burning barbecues which Nicole was delighted by, and a playground with swings and merry go rounds which Eloise looked rather interested in.

So Nicole got cooking and we went and played on the playground, and generally hung around, until lunch was ready and we all sat down to an excellent kebab lunch followed by nectarines, while Aussies played cricket on the field behind us. We eyed the forest that lay beyond, getting ready for our rainforest walk.

Jan 24, 2007

Busy Day

Flowers in the Wind We've been on a drive up through the Glass House Mountains, had a picnic and a walk in a rainforest, been to the beach, and watched the metaphorical sun, obscured by cloud, go down from atop Wild Horse Mountain.

We're all tired.

Maybe I will tell you more about it tomorrow, or maybe I'll let Nicole write about barbecueing Aussie style, but on a real fire. Oh, and more parasite fun. And pizza.

Beach Barbeque

Sarah on the Beach After a nap we went up to Nudgee Beach. Sarah and I went for a walk on the beach with the dogs while Nicole cooked the usual Tofu (Tempe?) kebabs with fish for the carnivores.

The tide was well and truly out and it took us half an hour to get to the waves and back. The sands were expansive and the sky beautiful in the gathering dusk.

The barbie was excellent. For pudding we had plate-seared pineapples with caramel and cream. Yum!

Jan 23, 2007

Eloise Poses for the Tourists

Eloise Poses for the Tourists Just after one of the terminal cadenzas, Eloise flounced off and stood sniffling holding on to a tree.

One after another Japanese tourists started to take her picture. Then a girl got down and had her picture taken with her.

That started off a procession of photo opportunities, with a pack of photographers snapping away almost as though Eloise was another zoo specimen.

We thought about charging for photos. But the potential customers had moved on by then.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Feeding the Wallaby Tourism continued today as we headed into town to the South Bank to catch a boat up the river for a day trip to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Unfortunately the timing was a little bit off, ie we were late and we aborted the car park and drove up there directly.

We saw some sheep dog trial demonstration, where Eloise got up close and personal with the sheep and the other spectators, then met some wallabies (as you can see from the photo she got up close and personal with them as well). We saw cassowaries, crocodiles, stroked a snake, ogled a wombat, saw a demonstration of birds of prey, and of course fondled a koala (though we drew the line at cuddling one).

Nicole hates koalas and expected to hate this trip, but actually had a really good time. Sarah enjoyed it too, she said.

We were there for about four hours, by the end of which Squeaky was well and truly into Fatigue Crisis and having cadenzas left right and centre.

At that point we beat a strategic retreat.

Jan 22, 2007


Glass I got a phone call from Ms Smith/Rhodes at ten o'clock or so as I was checking the map again to find my way to the bus station to say that she would be in at twelve o'clock.

That leaves me a bit of extra time, I thought, I'll go down town, park up and mayble explore a little bit around Roma Street before meeting up with her.

So I sets off down the road, and I'm there in ten minutes flat. Pretty good, I thought, as I turned into the Bus Depot car park and shrank with horror at the exponentially escalating parking charges - free for two minutes (!), $2 for five minutes, $7 for ten, etc.... If I'm going to be here an hour it'll cost me a bleeding fortune.

So anyway, in for a penny in for a pound, I set off to find a parking space. On floor 2a my phone went off... "I'm here" says Sarah's voice... odd! Until you remember that New South Wales is on Daylight Saving Time and is therefore an hour ahead... good job I got there "early!"

So we grabbed a coffee in Wilston ("flat white" is of course an inscrutable coffee-making term outside Australia), then back to Agincourt for lunch.

Then back into the city for walk up South Bank - The Nepalese Pagoda and Artificial Beach were met with approval, I think - and back along the other side of the river - skycrapers and the Treasury Casino. The day was hot so cunningly we walked through the air-conditioned Art Gallery and Museum. Which, consequently, were cool.

Agincourt Street by Night

Agincourt Street by Night I took this long-exposure multi-stitched panorama shot last night while waiting for Nicole to bike home. Shortly after I took it the camera's battery ran out then I turned around and saw a little white light approaching me which resolved itself into Nicole who can ride like the clappers.

Jan 21, 2007

S/S/S/R Visitation

Tomorrow we will have our first visitation from Angleterre. Sarah/Sasha Smith/Rhodes will roll into the bus stop at 11am and by George come Hell or High Water I will be there to meet her. Perhaps I will even recognise her... who knows.

She has chosen, God knows why, to punctuate her Australian holiday with a full stop in sunny Brisvegas (and it was sunny today, actually, sunny and quite hot).

I went to school with her for a while, and oddly enough hardly swapped two words with her the whole time. Then she became insinuated with my old possé of school chums and... now she's coming to stay for a couple of days.

What the hell will we do with her?

Anyway I have my route planned in minute detail, by which of course I mean minimal detail, so assuming we manage to actually rendezvous, we'll see what happens, eh?

Of course, Nicole has it planned, blow by blow, and Sarah probably does too. So any planning on my part would probably only confuse everybody.

Jan 20, 2007


Heron Bicycles day today.

Nicole was on a late, but one which started at three instead of one, so there was no need for the usual running around, but the tides were wrong for a visit to the beach, though I think I located a likely looking spot at Surfer's Paradise that maybe we'll visit. Some other time.

We went for the usual fallback of a ride down the brook, which took up a couple of hours. At the far end of the off-leash area, past Lutwyche Road is a little footbridge where we stop for a while. Generally a heron hangs around down there; Matilda will explore down there after a few minutes and the heron will flap lazily down the brook when she gets too near.

Then to bed for Eloise, but she wouldn't sleep so we got her up for a spot of lunch - pasta and pesto with salad AU Neil, very tasty - and Nicole went to work.

I tried to get Eloise to have a kip again, and put her to bed with her Animal Cubes toy, but after half an hour of "The Bear - ROOOAR" Eloise got bored and I got her up. We did some drawing, some computing (consisting of her turning the computer off repeatedly) then played some music and jigged around to Propaganda for a while.

There was a shopping list to attend to so we rode up to Woolworth at Stafford City. It was pretty hot - 30 degrees plus today, and I was sweating when we got there. Eloise is becoming quite adept at trooping through the mall crowd and is starting to show some proclivity for the cinema, for which I suspect her attention span is insufficiently developed.

It was around 4.30 and already many of the shops were closed, which is one of the oddities about Aussie shopkeeping hours; the shops shut early on a Saturday. Don't know why.

The ride back was a bit of a struggle as there are some steep (for me) hills to climb and Eloise enjoyed imitating my grunts of exertion. Hopefully she won't do this at inopportune times. Might create the wrong impression.

Did a stir fry for tea. Was actually going to follow a recipe... but had no cornflour, or at least couldn't find it. Fell back to improvisation.

Jan 19, 2007

Lots to Do

Mischief On Her Face Over the past couple of days we have been to Caterpillar Kids which was a bit of a shock to the system, been on bike rides down at the brook, been swimming at the outdoor pools, where Eloise went down the water slides solo for the first time, and been for a walk in the forest. Amongst other more mundane things like doggy nail clipping, haircuts (not for me), library.

Lots of sleeping has been done at night, by Eloise at least.


There was only one glass of wine left in my box of wine last night which I drank whilst nattering away to Julie in Sydney. I put down the phone and cycled off up the road to get another. It was closed when I got there so I cycled home and exchanged the bike for the car and nipped to Wilston instead only to find that my bank card was not in my purse. The shop was only open for another 10 minutes. My bank card was no where at home either so whilst I stayed behind to cancel the card Neil drove off to collect my purchases. As it had gone 22:00 by this time the shop owner wouldn't let Neil in. I really need to figure out the licensing laws in this country. Like the time when I was walking around Woolworths looking for the alcohol aisle only to be told by a youth that supermarkets don't sell alcohol. That was quite embarassing.

Anyway the point of all this rambling is that Neil and Eloise had to accompany me to my hair appointment this afternoon as I had no means to pay. Eloise had a little trim at the back to get rid of the naturally occuring mullet. She looked a little daunted sat on the high stool in the hairdresser's cape. She ended up on my lap she was unsure. Once she was down she raided my bag, put on my sunglasses and then kissed herself in the mirror.

Another aside... Neil reckons that it is all a conspiracy and that I lost my bank card on purpose to get him into a hairdressers so he would get his mop chopped too. He now has ringlets appearing and denies it!

Jan 17, 2007

NIght duties

I have just finished three night duties. It is always such a lovely feeling on the first evening back to normal knowing that you don't have to prepare yourself for a night of sleeplessness. I am very much looking forward to getting into our freshly laundered bed soon.

The funniest thing happened on my second night. I went to have a break around 3am, which is a horrible time of morning when you started feeling cold, tired and nauseous. I mentioned that I hadn't seen two of the other nurses for a while. I was told that one of them had gone for a lie down and none of us knew about the other. I was a little concerned but not enough to be spurned into action. About 10 minutes later this nurse, who will remain anonymous, returned looking somewhat crumpled. When we asked what she had been up to she said she had fallen asleep on the toilet. Well, I have this theory that nurses use up all their sympathy quota on their patients so we laughed so hard we were all in tears. I said I couldn't wait for this story to filter out. The nurse in charge told me that nights were like stag or hen nights and whatever happened on them stayed with those who were present. I hasten to add that when the early staff arrived she blabbed within less than 5 minutes saying it was too good a story to waste. Needless to say we recounted the story on my third night with great hilarity.


Drowning Flower Going out for a walk with a toddler is more trouble than you might think. It's also probably a lot less trouble for minimalist me than it is for most people.

You have to get dressed, finding a costume that's acceptable (ie pink, urrggh!!) and a hat (hats are notoriously evasive items), make sure food has been consumed, that water is packed, shoes are on, suncream applied (a right old song and dance that is), ball packed, dog poo bags packed, blah blah blah.

No wonder we hardly ever get out before nine thirty in the morning.

Add the complication of a Mum who is on nights and therefore, at nine thirty in the morning, ensconced in her bedroom trying to get to sleep - anathema to a toddler - and trouble can, and did, ensue.

Eloise is very affectionate towards her mum at the moment, perhaps because she remembers two weeks without her not so long ago, perhaps because life with old muggins here is so dull! When Nicole gets back from work it's beams and cuddles all over and "Mammeeee!! Mammeee!!"

It's very touching, and makes me feel a little jealous sometimes.

This morning Nicole made the mistake of letting Squeaky into her bedroom. She climbed into bed beside her mum, stuck her thumb in her mouth and relaxed there. I took advantage my having a shower. When I got out, needless to say, Eloise didn't want to leave the parental bed.

Whilst going through the logistical list above, I found a liquid present beside the bed, so add "clean up pools of liquid" to the above list. And "calm down toddler tantrumette."

Walk at the brook was as per usual. Eloise picked little flowers and dropped them into the water to see them flow away about two feet before running aground as the water is so low.

Jan 16, 2007

Activities Expanding to Fill the Time Available

Little Ripples Nicole has been on nights for the last two days (if that's not too confusing) and I don't know whether it's a result of that or a result of nocturnal discipline, but there's been no trouble from the dogs (Tiny) in the middle of the night and I have been sleeping like a log.

We did wake up a little early this morning, if you call eight o'clock early, and managed to get out for a dog walk shortly after Nicole went to bed at around half past eight.

We walked down to the brook and quite a long way down it. We stopped at a little footbridge and Eloise had the genius idea of throwing her water bottle into the stream. Marvelous. I would have got her to get it but I think maybe she's not quite up to mountainerring yet. So Muggins had to climb down and retrieve it, because the dogs certainly weren't about to.

We walked back then, Eloise insisting on pushing the pram. No amount of cajoling or persuasion would deflect her from the idea that this was the purpose of her little existence for at least ten second stretches. Then she would get distracted, take out the dog leads, inspect a blade of grass or something, and when I went to move the pram onwards, there would be a "Nooo!" and she would run up, push me away and push the pram for another few seconds.

Heventuallee, we got back to Thistle Street bridge where Eloise demanded "SHOES" which were duly removed for paddling. There were lots of little fishes zipping around which Eloise attempted at least to point at, if not actually to catch.

Then back up the brook and a little playground, swinging on two seperate swings before deciding that enough was enough and time was pressing if a nap was to be had before swimming.

All in all that was around two and a half hours worth of fun. An excellent example of Parkinson's Law.

As it happened the nap had to be cut short because time for it ran out.

Jan 15, 2007

Meet and greet Eloise style

On Sunday afternoon we went for a cycle ride with the dogs down to the brook. We stopped off at the large stepping stones on the way back so the dogs could cool down in the water and Eloise could stretch her legs. There were some other people there too. Eloise went over to a little girl and said "hi" then put her hand straight out to touch her tee-shirt as it had glittery stars on it. We established that this girl was called Esme and was four years old. Then Eloise noticed that Esme had a scab on her right knee and pointed at it and said "ouch" then proceded to pick it! We need to move her on to eating other people's scabs as I did when I was a delightful child.

Jan 14, 2007

Christmas Day at the Non-Sunshine Coast

Many thanks to Peter from next door for helping to sort out my video camera woes and Alice, his wife, for lavishing us this morning with an excellent breakfast.

You will recall, by way of a reminder and some background to the video, that Christmas day was a little dingy here, a trifle chilly, and down by the beach out in the open, a tad windy.

The camera ran out of batteries as Nicole was cooking the barby. So no jolly pictures of us munching on the tofu kebabs!

The weather today by contrast was very warm with a nice breeze. Matilda is having discipline problems. She obviously isn't getting enough of it. Discipline, that is.

Jan 13, 2007

Fun at the Beach

Tiny Running We had fun at the beach today. The tide was out and lots of islands of sand were exposed. We waded from one to another whilst the dogs played around us.

The water got a little deep in some places and Eloise was sometimes in up to her armpits, but she didn't mind a bit.

The tide started coming in so we went back to the beach proper and soon heard Greensleeves jingling from the car park. So I went and got three cones which started to melt in my hands as soon as they left the ice cream van.

No matter the encouragement, Eloise refused to eat her ice cream. She had a couple of bites of flake but the ice cream wound up on the beach.

Jan 12, 2007

Eyebrow Wiggle

While we were watching ABC kids his morning, Nicole was splayed out on the sofa with Eloise splayed out on her belly, sorry, tummy.

She said that normally when Bananas in Pyjamas comes on, she has the channel changed by the time the Bananas come down the stairs. Mysteriosly this did not occur this morning.

After Bs in Ps, the Wiggles came on. What a load of rubbish it is. Honestly, they sing songs asking where Jeff is... "Is he going for a ride? Is he in the countrysi-i-i-ide?" and dance around like effete Pontins redcoats (or whatever) with massive suppositories rammed up their unmentionables.

The worst bit was when the odd-looking pirate bloke phoned his mates (mateys?) complaining they'd left him behind but it was OK because he could dance on the shore. Arr Arr Aaaarrrr.

Nicole's eyebrow, I noticed, remained raised throughout the short programme.

The came Playschool. It was presented by Neneh Cherry! Excellent! But where was her Manchild?

One thousand viewers

Has anyone noticed the "site meter" icon on the blog? This monitors how many people visit our blog and where they come from. I should imagine that most of these hits are from me finding out what Eloise and Neil have been up to during the day but none the less it is quite impressive. I am glad so many people we know are reading about what we are up to. Let's make a million by 2008!

Newmarket swimming pool

I had a well deserved day off today. I worked a late on Tuesday, a long day on Wednesday and an early on Thursday so was pretty much at home only to sleep.

We had a relaxing morning watching ABC Kids and having breakfast, then went out for a cycle ride along the brook followed by a snack, Eloise's afternoon nap and lunch time. We visited the local outdoor pool at neighbouring suburb, Newmarket, this afternoon.

When we parked up we walked past the swimming pool to the entrance Eloise was very animated as she could see the swimming pool. She was trying to get in before we had got her changed. There are several pools - a laps pool, a childrens' pool and a toddlers' pool all with slides of varying lenghts and heights. Eloise was absolutely delighted to be there. She loves slides on land and now in the water. There was another little girl there called Esme, whose father was as reckless as we are. We were all sliding on the slides for the older children and both children were beaming from ear to ear. When Neil took Eloise down the very fast slide on his lap she was shrieking with delight and found it highly amusing that Neil lost his glasses when hitting the water.

In the end she was going blue with cold but still wanted to continue. It has been warm and sunny all day today until we arrived at the pool when the clouds rolled in. We got Eloise dried and went off to the play area with the swings and slides on land. Eloise dropped her raisins and dried banana chips over the floor and we marvelled at an ant moving a raisin that was at least three times the size of itself away from the playground. Fun was had by all.

I am not at work until 21:00 on Sunday so who knows what delights lay ahead this weekend. Apart from being invited to morning tea with Peter and Alice next door at 10:00 on Sunday. Sounds good.

Jan 11, 2007


Fast Approach Another dull day in Australia... at the beach; not that dull, really?

Missed Caterpillar Kids because Eloise didn't wake up in time (let sleeping babies lie? Let sleeping Dads lie more like), so we went to the beach instead. Much wading was done; the tide was out-ish and we didn't know whether it was coming in our going further out... much wading later established it was coming in and we returned with my shorts wet and Eloise being carried.

A couple of times prior to that I left Eloise in the water unattended while I went to fetch the tennis ball that Tiny wouldn't retrieve. The second time Eloise fell over and sat there looking at me up to her neck in water, completely not panicking, which is good. But best to carry her I thought.

There were lots of little fishes zapping around in the shallows which provided great interest, not only to the sprog once she'd noticed them, but also to Matilda who spent quite some time chasing them, unsuccessfully needless to say.

For the photo above, Eloise was supposed to pose demurely, hugging the tree like a good hippy. As you can see she had her own ideas.

Lunch: beans on toast. Yum!

Nicole got back from work and we cycled over to Fresco's at Stafford to stock up on veggies etc. Eloise had a mini-tantrum with Nicole over an ice cream which was quite satisfying in a "she's always so well behaved when she comes here with her father" kind of way.

We ate our ice creams at a playground on the way back and Eloise stroked a golden retriever as it cleaned her chocolate-coated lower arm.

Tea: Broccoli with Cashew Sauce on a bed of Rice. Yum.

Jan 10, 2007


Determination We've been to a couple of playgrounds today and I had a strange conversation with a man with an apparently harmless dog who insisted that Eloise shouldn't go near it in case it attacked her, though he didn't think he would, which I thought was a bit strange.

We went to the library and retained Bertie and the Bear and the Pink Lettice books and got a Charlie and Lola book which Nicole is very excited about.

Potty training

My mum often asks how the potty training is going and we always reply that it is isn't. A milestone of achievement may have been reached this evening when we were getting ready for the bath. Eloise skidded into the hallway from her room pointing and saying "poo poo". Neil bravely went to investigate and lucky for him only found a wee. Toilet training may still be a while away.

Jan 9, 2007

Back to the Old Pool

We went back to swimming this afternoon. The counter staff were very impressed with Eloise's neon pink dress which as usual she demanded to wear when she saw it in the drawer. She was too shy to give them a twirl though.

When we got into the pool and Eloise got her floaties on, she was delighted to be back and squeaked and kicked her way around the pool much to the amusement of everyone.

It was all Dads and babes this week which was nice. I got Eloise to blow bubbles underwater by gurgling the theme tune to Monty Python.

Post-Ashes Cockiness

I'm watching the 20/20 match, Aus vs England. The Aussies are so cocky they're actually giving TV interviews while fielding. They're wearing little mikes and chatting away to the commentators.

Jan 8, 2007

Greenes Falls

Greenes Falls Rocky crag over which water is not falling. Judging by the large tree half way down it, it may have, and not in the too distant past... but not today. Today is not a day for falling water.


Fig Roots In the afternoon when Nicole had gone to work I decided to drive up to Mt Glorious and go walking in the rainforest.

I had been looking at a brochure for the D'Aguilar National Park on the way to Coot-tha in the morning seeing of there were alternatives, and saw this but there wasn't time to go in the morning.

I parked in the shade of a little tree and set of down a path which took me through a little rest house into the rainforest. Immediately darkness and silence descended. There were signs warning sternly about disturbing the ecology by doing silly things like for instance taking dogs there, which of course I had not.

The path meandered through the forest then began to descend into the valley. It was quite dark under the canopy of trees and there was a welcome coolness. The previous silence gave way to a pervasive buzzing of insects from some indeterminate place above and the cries of birds echoing through the forest.

Palm trees were intermingled with enormous trees seemingly many hundreds of feet tall supported by widely spread buttress roots. The air was very, very still.

As the descent became steeper steps were carved into the track which was eventually replaced by boardwalk, helpfully the steps were painted yellow for the terminally stupid. The track followed the path of a creek to a mystery destination known as Greene's Falls which I was pretty sure by previous experience would be doing precious little falling, and, looking at the odd isolated and brackish puddle in the bed of the creek - which was decidedly not flowing - I was not to be un-dissapointed.

Indeed as the path came to an end at a lookout overlooking the falls I was privy to that wouldn't-it-be-nice-if-there-was-some-water feeling yet again. Impressive rocky crags fell away beneath the boardwalk into a deep cleft below with tropical trees clinging to the sides all around and above. Impressive crags which should have been veiled in the misty spray of a roaring waterfall, I couldn't help feeling.

Back to the Old Routine

Communications Mast No blog yesterday. Sorry about that... was very tired. Anyway I think I deserve a day off every now and then. You have no idea how time-consuming this is! Which, from my point of view, is probably a good thing.

Yesterday, if memory serves, was Nicole's day off and as she enjoys cooking so much (honestly!) I let her cook us a barbecue for supper. Very nice it was too. I think it was supposed to be aubergines (eggplants to the colonials) stuffed with ricotta with roasty toasty potato wedges, and indeed it almost was, except that the aubergines weren't stuffed and the riccota was mascarpone. But it was tasty, and was followed up by barbecued nectarines with caramel sauce. Me Yum Me Yum as Eloise would say.

Other than that, it's a bit of a blank to be honest... oh hang on it's coming trickling back... we lounged in the morning after a lie in and fussed over Eloise who has developed a rash and her leg and arm. We think it's something she sat on or rubbed against while gardening. But we ummed and ahhed over whether we should expose it sunlight and decided due to pressures of time as much as anything to stick with what we know and bike up the brook for a bit. It was quite hot so we only went as far as Thistle Street and paddled for a while under the bridge there.

And other than the BBQ that was it really. I've run out of books again so I need to go to the library tomorrow... and the old routine, which I vaguely remember will start to reassert itself after the New Year hiatus(or limbo week as they seem to call it here).

This morning we were fairly late to nursery as Eloise again slept in til nine o'clock or so; in fact she had to be woken up.

She has moved up a room now and is no longer a Turtle but a Starfish. The new room has more kids in it and Bernadette told me that the activities will be more challenging this year. She settled back in really well and was sitting down to her morning tea with ten or so other toddlers as we left.

We went up to Mount Coot-tha as it's Monday - the old routine reasserts itself again - but shock horror walked away from the car in the other direction along a mystery road which led up into the woods.

Actually it wasn't much to write home about. After a couple of hundred yards we came to an enormous communications mast which we oggled at for a bit, sniffing the eucalyptus in the air and another strange smell which to Nicole was electrical but to me was more reminiscent of a pudding of some kind with a cinnamon tinge. Hmm.

We couldn't stay long as Nicole had to be at work. I cooked pasta a la Neil for lunch with peppers and courgettes and nuts and stuff. Was nice.

Afternoon exploits later, when I've processed the pictures.

And if you're wpndering about videos, I did point the camera at Nicole today, much to her annoyance. However I am being defeated by the camera which only records in DVD format which doesn't work on the internet. And, when I try to transfer stuff from the camera to the computer, the software crashes.

Jan 6, 2007

Teeth Trauma, Dog Training

Riding the Dogs Nicole was on an early today. She must have been quiet, or I must have been dead to the world, as I woke up at half past eight without having heard her. Eloise too apparently, who slept in until nine o'clock... how lucky am I!

Just for a change, we didn't watch children's TV this morning as we munched on our toast and ate our yoghourt and muesli. My intention was to try to get out nice and early for a dog walk, but it was raining intermittently and best laid plans of mice and men etc.

The first trauma came when it came to teeth brushing time and Eloise decided she didn't want to use the traditional combination of diddy tooth brush and diddy toothpaste. In fact she didn't know what combination she did want to use, and may have been more interested in some other mythical object which lay on the surface by the sink, because she whinged and whinged and whinged no matter what I gave her until the frustration of our inability to communicate became too much.

The electric toothbrush was running very low on steam so I took it through to charge. At this point she decided that the combination she wanted definitely involved that toothbrush, surprisingly enough, and made off with it. Eventually, after other activities, I got her back and tried to show her how to put it on the charger, but she was having none of this. I held on to her arm as she tried to get away and she turned around and sank her teeth into my finger!

I must confess I lost my rag for a moment and barked at her. Maybe that will prompt some learning.

Just one of a string of traumas today, revolving around such activities as putting sun cream on (and when the suncream has been finished with), the proper way to use paint (with a brush onto pieces of paper, rather than straight from the pot onto whatever takes your fancy), and probably other things I have forgotten. "Choose your battles carefully" the say. "Hah" I say. "Easier said than done"

Later, after Nicole got back from work, we took the dogs down the brook on the bikes as we have been doing regularly lately as part of their training regime (ahem).

At the end we were trying to get Matilda back on the lead and she hoofed it - so I rode after her to find that she had discovered a bone in a flower bed and had gone back to fetch it.

Not wishing to reward her for her little rebellion, after having put her back on her lead, I attempted to relieve her of said bone... and in the mini-fracas got a tooth mark on my fingernail - which I'm sure wasn't deliberate, in retrospect, but at the time I was hopping mad!

And, after bath time, we discovered that Eloise had nobbled the recharged toothbrush, and the toothpaste, and we have no idea where they are....

Lumch: Veggie Burgers with sweet potatoes, courgettes and spinach. Supper: Provencal potatoes.

Jan 5, 2007

Self Administration

Self Administration I made the mistake today of giving Eloise a tube of old sunscreen that was sitting around on a shelf. I had assumed that it was old, dried up, practically empty, unusable.

How wrong I was.

She only had it for five minutes, during which time she splurged cream over the table, the floor and herself.

At least she knows what to do with it; she squirted it on her arms and then rubbed it into her skin.

Maybe this is her next step in accumulating the skills she needs for her future life as a cricketer.

In other activities I took the dogs out for a bike ride while Nicole went out with Sproggy in search of a replacement toner cartridge for the printer.

The training regime went slightly amiss as Matilda seemed off her usual energetic form. However we did our 5ks or whatever it is with the only incident being Matilda running off a couple of times.

Later I biked up to the water lookout with Eloise to watch the sunset. Well I biked most of the way, the road was much to steep for my poor little legs! Oh the contemptuous looks my daughter gave me, demanding to get down, with the unspoken subtext being that we would get on better if she were to push.

Jan 4, 2007


Well I must be doing something right because we called in at the pharmacists earlier on, who conveniently have some baby scales. Weighed Eloise who came in at 10kg, which moves her out of the red zone weight-wise on the graphs in her little red book.

Nicole informs me that this means she is now four times her birth weight.

And by Elizabeth she feels it when she's in the rucksack.

Television Age

Television Age In the afternoon we went to the Gallery of Modern Art on the South Bank. They had an exhibition on from artists around Asia. There was a childrens' section where there were various interactive exhibits which were actually very good, especially one which used a matrix of pictures on a touchscreen to switch in instruments of music when playing together made a kind of modernist Indian new-age music thingy.

Eloise ran around the museum shouting at the top of her voice, attempted to get into the restricted and very fragile Anish Kapoor exhibit and smeared toothpaste all over the windows.

We made good our escape before the security guards could catch up with us, and had some yummy New Zealandish ice cream down at the parklands before getting back on the bus.

Jan 3, 2007

Broiling Rapids, Foaming Cataracts

Outflows So when I said yesterday about broiling rapids and foaming cataracts on Kedron Brook, I wasn't so much exaggerating as experiencing some form of clairvoyance it seems.

I made the mistake of drinking a cup of real coffee last night about 10 o'clock, the kind that makes your hair stand on end and create strange odours in the boy's room. Normally, that is to say for the previous me, this wouldn't have been a problem but over the past few months I have cut down somewhat on the old caffeine intake, so at 1 o'clock I woke up needing to ablute and couldn't get back to sleep again.

I rooted around in the dark kitchen for crisps and subconsciously I think I must have wanted barbecue, as it took four packets to sate my nocturnal appetite. I then set to reading my current book (J.G. Ballard) and raised a metaphorical eyebrow (Nicole proudly boasts that she can do it in real life) when it started to rain outside. I metaphorically raised the other when it started to really hammer down.

At five thirty when the dogs did their habitual "time to get up" scratch it was still raining.

When the phone rang at eight thirty and I heard James' voice in the receiver it was still raining.

Nicole had had to get a lift home, or had at least accepted the offer of one.

At nine thirty when Nicole went to bed it was still raining and I was pondering a day in.

At ten thirty it stopped and we chanced our collective arms on a walk down the brook.

Which was frankly amazing. Gone were our chunky rock bridges beneath a sliding torrent of water which much have been chugging along at a good twenty miles an hour. Where previously had been rocky crags which you could easily step across were now either slight dimples in the flow which betrayed the existence of objects beneath, or, dare I say it, and getting back to the point, broiling rapids and foaming cataracts which hurtled over and around the boulders, creating that strange kind of backwards surf.

Not even the three days of rain we had just after Christmas had produced anything like what we saw.

The dogs dipped a paw in, drank a bit, but very wisely wouldn't venture further.

Jan 2, 2007


Sliding Yesterday Eloise successfully identified the colours green and blue, building on pink. Today she recognised lellow (sic).

She has added "Please" to her lexicon, as in "More please." And "Oi!" As in "Nappy! Nappy! Nappy! Oi! Oi! Oi!"

We went over to the brook this morning after our ablutions, and walked up a little way throwing balls for the dogs. Then we went up the hill to the playground and showed that Eloise bears no mental injury from her mishap on the swing a few days ago. In fact she didn't want to come off the swing at all, and went back and forth, back and forth for a good twenty minutes.

She then adjourned to the slide and surprised me by climbing a ladder up to a platform - and I mean a ladder as in with rungs and quite a perilous gradient - whilst I was attempting to keep Matilda out of peoples' gardens.

She prefers sliding down on her tummy to her bottom, for some reason. The slide is quite good at this particular playground, very fast.

After a drink of water we encountered an old biddy who seemed intent on carrying out a developmental assessment of Squeaky and remedying hat fact that she didn't have her hat on at that particular point in time, which I found intensely irritating. However I kept my counsel.

In probably an unconscious attempt to spite the old sow we then went rock jumping down at the brook while the dogs went exploring. Eloise, when undertaking this extreme sport (when in Rome etc) takes gigantic steps from one rock to another with only Dad's thumb to save her from the broiling rapids surging beneath.

Then, paddling, she was saved from falling into a shallow pool to the side of the foaming cataract only by Dad and the hem of her dress, which got a little wet.

What adventure!

I suppose I should come clean and admit the foaming cataract was around two inches deep and didn't actually contain any foam, and that the broiling rapids were what you might term a gentle flow and were only broiling in a quite small way.


Yesterday afternoon Eloise helped herself to the green glitter paint left over from the Christmas card making. She is enjoying painting herself and then left a trail of green glitter. My bedside light shade has been enhanced with green glitter too. She found this highly amusing when it was turned on during the evening and even seemed surprised that the glitter paint was there.

Whilst in the bath with Eloise, washing off the offending green glitter paint, and her Christmas present bath crayons I experienced a proud parent moment... Eloise called the green crayon "green", the blue crayon "blue" and the red crayon (this is for the grandmothers) "pink". We are learning black, yellow and orange too.

Jan 1, 2007

Happy New Year Et Cetera

The Ebbing Tide We lasted until, ooh, at least after midnight last night. Blimey, the revelry that can be had when you can't leave the house and are bone-tired.

Aussie TV on New Year's Eve is just as bad as Brit TV is, possibly even worse if you grew up with any sort of fondness for Jools Holland, which I admit I didn't. Definitely worse if the programme you're watching is punctuated by the most blatant product placement and endorsement you can imagine. I think it's just a fact of life on the commercial channels here; but nevertheless it's pretty annoying.

The Sydney fireworks were impressive though, as one bloke up on the hill last night said, they have to raise the bar every year, soon they'll run out of places to go..?

The best they can do here for terror warnings, apart from Bangkok, is a thirty-year old story that Bob Hawke might have been targeted by some Palestinians.

Today we had a lie in until the princely hour of eight o'clock-ish and decided to go up to Bribie Island. Nicole wanted some fish to cook with the leftovers from yesterday's barbie. We made it up there for about 12 o'clock and parked up, as we walked up to the beach the dogs went mental and we saw this thing climb up a tree quite rapidly. We did beachy things for a while then came back. No fish was to be had on the Island; we ended up getting it round the corner from the house.

Anyway... Happy New Year etc!