Jun 30, 2007

Boys Day Out

Still Forest Pool Nicole was at work on Friday, and not very happy about it. She had to get up at 5.30am... downer. If she was afraid her alarm clock wouldn't wake her up, she needn't have worried because Eloise woke up at 5.00am with this damn cold that's been pestering Nicole and her these past week or so.

We parked her in bed with me, and she was wriggling about a bit and wondering what was going on what with Mum wandering purposefully around the house at an unGodly hour, but she fall back to sleep again after a while, and didn't wake up until 9 o'clock when I woke her up looking at my watch, wondering what time it was.

So we footled around for a while breakfasting and such-like waiting for Mr Slimm to wake up, and just as I was about to get Eloise on the bike to walk the dogs so we could have a day out dog-free, His Highness woke up.

So Chris looking after Eloise, I frog marched the dogs around the brook and we set off, getting Eloise dropped off at Nursery at the frankly embarrassing hour of 11am.

Then down the Pacific Highway to sample the delights of Binna Burra, where we did mucho bushwalking, down to some "Quartz Caves" which weren't really caves and definitely not made of quartz, but were very sizeable indentations in a massive cliff towering over the side of a rainforest valley. The path led us along the edge of more cliffs, walking right next to the precipice with the strong wind that's been around for the past few days gusting away.

Chris said he wouldn't mind hiking to the bottom of the valley, so we found a path that led down there, and descended down, the wind dying around us as we lost altitude.

Eventually we found ourselves next to a little river which gathered in a beautiful pool in the forest, waterfalls and all. Very nice.

The Seaside

Night Lights We went to Shorncliffe Pier on Thursday. It had been a nice day all day, albeit very windy, but it clouded over nicely for us as we set off and we could see rainclouds in the distance.

We walked up and down the pier and Squeaky again showed huge interest in the fishing activity that was going on.

As it got dark we walked up the beach and discovered a great new playground, awesome in conception, with great bastions of wooden amusement to keep little people happy. Eloise spent a little while playing on the slides there and we all tramped around for a while on the wooden walkways. She made a little friend who helped her around an obstacle course in the gathering dusk.

The pier was beautiful as night fell and the light along it were switched on.


Idyll Chris has been helping out and looking after Eloise while we go out and do our business. We have looked at a couple of cars over the past few days, and things like that.

On Monday night we went out to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to see legendary - well famous - Geordie comedian Ross Noble in an apparently improvised rant about many different subjects which was quite hilarious. You might know Mr Noble if you listen to Just A Minute on Radio 4, he's been on it a few times. You can't miss him... he's the Geordie.

After the last few days of misery it was a welcome relief to be laughing again... and how we laughed. Nicole was crying at one point, with mirth that is.

On Tuesday we test drove a car - Chris babysitting again - and it rained all day, so we did very little else. It rained for 24 hours, near enough, and the brook was looking very full again when I braved the elements with the dogs later on. Not much fun. The car wasn't that great either.

On Wednesday it was the twins' brithday so we went for a day out - quite late in the day, after we'd woken up - to Lamington National Park, down on the New South Wales border. We'd been there before but this time we went to a different section and went for a walk round a little rainforest circuit that took all of twenty minutes then for a longer walk through the forest to a lookout over a beatiful valley with a protuberance by the name of Egg Rock sticking up from it. The path ended up precariously close to the edge of a cliff at one point, so Eloise stayed in her rucksack on Chris' back, which fortunately she enjoyed.

In the evening we went out to a Nepalese restaurant and gorged ourselves silly on Himalayan food. Eloise was a bit manic, running around the place and generally making a nuisance of herself, until the food arrived when suddenly she became a model of good behaviour. It was a big day for her and a late night and she did really well. Chris seemed to enjoy himself too... incidentally.

Jun 25, 2007


Eloise and Nicole Cold on the River Well we did try to go out on the train. The plan was to bike it up to Wooloowin station then get the train down to Manly and ride up and down the Esplanade.

Unfortunately Nicole got a puncture a couple of hundred yards up the road, so we aborted, took Nicole's bike to the bike shop (it was due for a service on Friday anyway) and went into the city on the bus.

We walked down to the riverside, and caught a Ferry up the river. It was very wobbly... they are only quite small boats and of course we had to go on the upper deck. When the sun came out it was nice and warm, otherwise less so.... even though we all had at least two pullovers on!

That night Nicole and Chris went out to a works do with some of Nicole's workmates. I'll leave it up to Nicole to comment on their shennanigans.

On Friday the bikes were in at the shop for a service. In the afternoon we went up to Geebung and picked the repaired Sonata up, God bless it. All seems ship shape.

We made good use of our new-found freedom by going... car shopping. Or rather, potential car scouting.

On Saturday we went up to Nudgee Beach for the first time in three weeks and braved the cold and bluster for a little while. We repaired to Pam's Café afterwards for lunch, which was cheap and tasty.

We were invited across the road for a curry night at Val's to celebrate her Nth birthday. There was a plethora of curry on offer, and we sat out on her verandah munching away while the rain drizzled around us. Chris built a fire... they're pyromaniacs these Slimms. Eloise made herself very busy pushing prams around and playing with cuddly toys, and annoying a chihuahua to the point where it gave her a little nip and a big fright.

Yesterday we went a bit farther afield to the Dog Beach at Bribie Island. The weather was a bit better and intermittently sunny. We walked up the beach some distance then stopped for a picnic.

We got back home an later on an email came through from Ric and Cate offering the house until September, so honouring the one-year agreement, then charging rent, with the car part of the deal whilst we stayed here. We are thinking it through...

Jun 21, 2007


Bamboozled Winter has hit home hard in the past few days and we have had colds and sniffles.

It's been windy windy windy and cold cold cold! We've been sitting around all day under blankets on the sofa watching crappy daytime TV. Not very interesting. We are feeling a little bit guilty that Chris isn't being offered a full-on Brisbane experience, but it's absolutely brass monkeys.

It might actually be colder inside the house than out, since houses here don't seem to be designed with winter in mind, having no insulation and no heating. Brrrr!

Still we should have the car back tomorrow, ending - hopefully - our low-impact lifestyle though I'm sure we'll be minimising the use of the car as we consider what we want to do with our living and transport arrangements.

Today we're thinking that we might go out on the train somewhere, but we're yet to choose a destination.

Jun 19, 2007

Uncle Chip

Uncle Chip Chris has been around for the last few days, enduring our distraction over our now-uncertain living arrangements.

He's been quite tired after his travels so probably hasn't minded too much our inability to ferry him anywhere, though his chum Steve is moving to Brisbane with his girlfriend who only lives about 3km away - small world.

I got a new bike on Saturday after much pressure was brought to bear which freed up the old bike for him to ride, so he's had plenty of exercise.

We haven't really been able to show him much of the sights and sounds, as we've been visiting estate agents and the like, but today we went into the city on the bus and wandered around South Bank for a while. Eloise didn't get a nap so we were treated to a mini-cadenza around 3 o'clock but she recovered well and lasted through to bedtime without too many further dramas.

To our endless amusement, she has started to say "No Worries!" a lot. We need to get her to tack "Mate" onto the end.

Jun 17, 2007

End of House Swap

The phone rang this morning, and I lay in bed nursing a headache, as I listened to Nicole having a worryingly sensible sounding conversation that included phrases such as "so what does that mean for us" and "I feel like I should say congratulations."

Trouble's afoot, I thought.

She came through the room, phone still on, and I could hear Ric's voice on the other end of the line.

What's gone wrong now, I thought.

Turns out that Ric and Cate have only gone and found jobs for themselves in Saudi Arabia. So the house swap is or soon will be over, and we need to think about what we're going to do.

Ric and Cate have offered to rent the house to us, but inner city rents are pretty high so we need to consider our options.

We need to think about renting our Ipswich house out. Apparently next door is being sold so their current tennant might be interested in renting our place.

All change...

I've had a migraine all day, unrelated, and I've spent most of the day in bed.

Jun 16, 2007

Photography Course

Glass On Friday I was a little nervous as I had my interview for the Photography Course at the Brisbane College of Photography and Art.

I walked the dogs while Nicole biked Eloise down to the Nursery, and we got home about the same time.

I spent a little while assembling a portfolio from prints I had picked up the other day. The colour was a little bit off on them - they look OK under sunlight but too red under artificial light - so I was slightly concerned on that score.

A time rolled on, we had lunch then I put on the old M&S suit.

As we set off, I asked Nicole how I looked and bless her she said "your trousers don't match your jacket. Go and get changed."

"Bugger," I said.

I hastily got changed into my cream wedding suit when Nicole came in and said "what are you doing, here are the right trousers."

"Bugger" I said.

Appropriately dressed now, we hammered down the road on the old bikes, coat-tails flying in the wind, and sweat building up in my oxters. I'd forgotten how hot the sun, even the winter sun, can be on a dark jacket! But we only had half an hour to get there so we weren't sparing the horses.

We got there with five minutes to spare, and the interview went fine, and I was told to expect an offer letter in the post in the next three weeks or so, so hurrah!

The course starts next March and runs two days a week for two years. Which is further away than I hoped and slightly longer than I wanted, but never mind. It means Nicole will have to work full time for a little longer than perhaps she anticipated.

Chris flew in from New Zealand later in the day, and we ate pizza, then vegged out in front of the telly to celebrate. Party On...

Jun 14, 2007

Hurray for holidays

It only seems like a moment ago since I was last on annual leave at the beginning of May but I am so tired and glad for the time away from work. Chris arrives from New Zealand tomorrow afternoon which I am getting excited about. I'm not too sure what we will get up to as the motor is atill at the garage. I keep trying to encourage Neil to buy a bike so Chris can have the house one. Neils rules our finances with an iron... can't think of the expression now, but I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. He would make an ideal Chancellor of the Exchequer if the position is still vacant... rod?

The new working week of 2 x 8 and 2 x 12 hour shifts is better on the whole but exhausting for Neil as he is a lone parent whilst I do my long days. All is well if the child is well, but it can get a bit wearing if not.

I am now chemotherapy competent for boluses. My next target I am setting myself is to do a stem cell transplant. I attended my 2 day preceptor course this week. I had to complete a workbook in advance that took about 8 - 10 hours plus several hours of preparing for a teaching session - I chose folding muslin nappies. It was a good course and I enjoyed it more than I expected. I feel motivated in my extended role.

Tomorrow I will be posting off our forms for permanent residency. Finally after 6 months I have collated all the paperwork. I think it is all there but I have got to the point where I can only see words swimming in front of my eyes and they no longer make sense. If it is wrong in any way I am sure the good people from the Immigration Department will not hesitate in returning them.

Jun 13, 2007

Supermarket Strop

Mystery Shopper We went to Woolworth's this afternoon so that I could forget to get new supplies of Pesto. I did remember the baked beans though.

Eloise decided she wanted some butter. We have plenty of butter. She just saw it lying on a shelf where someone had left it, before you ask what I was doing in the butter aisle if we didn't need it. She was in danger of taking the top of and dipping her fingers in it, and, when instructed to replace said butter on said shelf, she just looked me in the eye, and laid down on the floor in the middle of the aisle.

No crying, no histrionics, just lying in the middle of the aisle.

"Let's go and see mummy" I said and she started crawling towards the checkout.

I'm so proud.

Jun 12, 2007

The Potty's The Place

Have a Gold Star We've had Eloise in pants this week, pushing the potty thing again.

And yesterday, whilst cooking I heard whoops of delight from downstairs then cries of "Show Daddy" whereupon the potty was brought to me with a pool of golden water sloshing around in the bottom.

Apparently Eloise had given indications of wanting to wee so Nicole whisked her onto the potty and she did the deed! We were delighted. We danced around the kitchen and got out lots of gold stars which Eloise stuck all over herself.

Onwards and upwards!

Jun 9, 2007

The Feet On My Legs Go Round and Round

Ferry All day long.

Life without car... hmmm. Lots of cycling. Like yesterday, for instance. Eloise had to go to nursery. Can't be that bad, I thought, Nicole does it every day. And actually, it wasn't that bad. It was a bit chilly - and Eloise wouldn't wear a cardigan or a coat, whingeing "I don't like it, I don't like it"- and the wind chill factor was exacurbated by the fact that it's downhill most of the way, but we were down there in about twenty minutes. The last bit was a real struggle, a very steep hill, which I had to walk the bike up, but isn't that why they're called push-bikes?

Afterwards, I had to go and get some photos printed up as I've got another interview for this college next Friday. I decided to go somewhere "proper." And as I was half way there I cycled down into the city. Well, to be slightly more accurate, I had to cycle down then up then down again then up again then along and then up then down to the city. It was quite hard work. And I got sort of lost. A bit.

After visiting the proper printing shop, I rode across Story Bridge and stopped a while to look down at the river and the boats traveling underneath.

Then across to Kangaroo Point where I sat on top of the cliffs, wind gusting, and watched the river down below and the skyscrapers of the city across it.

I pedalled down underneath the Captain Cook Bridge and along the South Bank then across the Victoria Bridge and up through the City, whereupon I became a little disorientated and decided I didn't really know the best way home.

So I made an executive decision and went to Roma Street Parklands and picked up the way home there.

I got back around 1 o'clock, somewhat knacked. Nicole had just done her last night so we'd hatched a crazy scheme whereby we would ride into the City (yes, yes) to a cinema that was still showing 28 weeks later.

So, while Nicole was waking up, I walked the dogs, and soon we were on our way with half an hour to get there and hopein our hearts.

Half and hour later, hope was fading fast as we were nowhere near the cinema, in fact we were realising that we each thought it was in a different place, oh, and we didn't know where we could park our bikes either. A friendly courier chap told us just to find a pole to chain them to, no worries!

So we chained the bikes to some railings and made a token effort to at least find the cinema, a feat in itself, which we duly arrived at only fifty minutes late. Then we retired for coffee, tired, hungry and disappointed.

We picked up Eloise on the way back, after picking up our bikes again, minus Nicole's light which some blinkin tealeaf had half-inched.

We arrived home tired, hungry, dissapointed and angry.

Today Nicole slept in til eleven (yes, eleven) in the morning.

We have had visitors for tea. Claire from Nicole's work and her family have been round. They have two girls, five and nine, and they have had lots of fun with Eloise. Chaos has ruled.

Speaking of chaos, if you're wondering about the storms, they haven't been anyway near here. It's been windy today and brass monkeys. For brass monkeys read probably 15 degrees. It's that wind-chill factor, see.

Jun 8, 2007


Tumult It's been raining a lot, to the point where the day before yesterday we didn't actually leave the house except to twirl in the garden.

Of course poor Nicole has still had ride to work and back, but actually the rain hasn't been that hard, just persistent. The brook is brimming again.

The rain stopped yesterday and today the sun has come out again. Which is nice.

Jun 6, 2007

Life in the Slow Lane...

Henneth Annun, the Forbidden Pool So, no car... I'm preparing to become a low-impact citizen for the next few weeks. Nicole has bought herself a bike seat for Eloise so we aren't tied down to one bike for toddler-portage, and is attempting to encourage me to buy a decent bike for myself. Greg at the bike shop looked at my bike and insisted on doing some tightening up "so it would be safe." He was amazed the wheels actually spun...

It has rained since about six o'clock last night, pretty constantly as far as I can tell. We will go down to the brook in a tic and see how full it is. The rain radar suggests a break in the rain.

Jun 5, 2007

Bike seat

I have been thinking about buying a child seat for my bike since having to use Neil's bike to take Eloise to her music class when the car was in the garage the first time. I felt a tad unsafe as I was unable to touch the ground. So, with the news of the car being an in-patient for up to three weeks I cycled to the bike shop on my home from nights this morning and left my bike with them for the day to have a bike seat fitted. After collecting my bike we cycled to Fresco's for supplies and Eloise wanted to ride with me... it was great, although it takes a bike of getting used to whizzing around sharp corners with an altered centre of gravity. We only had one or two little wobbles.

This evening the heavens are open so I am preparing for my first cycle to work in the rain. I have a spare set of clothes complete with underwear wrapped up in plastic bags. I keep checking the rain radar but am still anticipating looking like a drowned rat on my arrival. Maybe waterproofs are the next on the list...

Jun 4, 2007

Oh Dear

As Old As Time Itself This one is difficult to write...

We had a lovely at Mount Glorious with a picnic and a walk in the rainforest. Eloise walked around 2.5km to the bottom of the path where a waterfall was empty of water that was not falling.

At that point, and this is a pivotal moment in a way, it started raining.

We toddled, well hurried really, back to the car and sought a place to retire to for coffee. Gary congratulated Eloise on her effectiveness as an umbrella. Eloise is very fond of Gary and Julie, shouting "Julie" predominantly but quite often "Gary" to demonstrate this, but I don't know if she'd counted sitting on someone's shoulders all the way to keep the rain off as part of the bargain... only joking.

Everywhere serving coffee was closed. So we headed home.

The road back home is very steep. And it had been raining. I was driving very carefully. But as we were coming up to a corner, running downhill at about 30km/h I applied the brakes and the car just kept on going.

I remember thinking to myself, as the crash barrier slid closer, that the best thing to do in these circumstances was to pump the brakes, but that felt like the least natural thing in the universe to do.

Then I remember thinking to myself, as the crash barrier slid closer, some wordless concept to the effect of "Oh, bugger."

Yes, I'm afraid it's true. We, the Royal We that is, have crashed the car.

Nobody is hurt. We weren't going very fast. There was a crunch as the car bounced off the crash barrier. But nobody was hurt. Over the crash barrier, the hill falls steeply away with its steep forested slopes.

As I stood there, after the event, standing by the road in a state of I Can't Believe This Is Happening, I waved at the next car that came along to tell them to slow down. They drove post very slowly.

A couple of minutes later they came back up the hill and stopped to help us. Nicole was busily phoning the RACQ, Gary was checking out the damage. I wandered over, in a state of disbelief, and had a look at a pretty well dented driver's side front corner bit. The bit with the headlight on. Ah. And the boot. That dripping would be windscreen stuff then. If that wheel arch was pried further away from the wheel it would be driveable maybe.

At this point Mr. French - Nicole is trying to find out his real name - has come over to help, and we look up in surprise as his car starts to roll down the hill, backwards, with Mrs. French inside, shaking her arms perplexedly at her husband in a what the hell's going on kind of way.

"Appuiez le brake de main!" is what I re-translate his words from French to English to Franglais to, he shouts as his car hits the crash barrier too.

Me, I can't believe that just happened, but that's applied to the entire five or so minutes up until now.

Mr. and Mrs. French, once a tow truck is organised via the RACQ is organised by my Excellent Wife, offer a life home to anybody that interested. They are new to Australia and don't really know their way about, but it turns out Grange is on the way to where they live anyway, practically. We decide that Nicole, Eloise and Julie should go back with them.

They drive off, and from what I hear, Nicole was in a daze, quite underdstandably, as they never actually introduced each other. Nicole is trying to track them down so that we can thank them more properly for the help they gave us yesterday.

Gary and I stayed behind, and I stood around also in a daze really as we looked at the damage and I magnanamously let Gary have a go at getting the wheel arch bit further away from the wheel so maybe we could get the chance to cancel the two truck and save several hundred dollars.

It was all looking pretty achievable, but starting to get dark and I got a text message to say that I had a missed call on the mobile - Nicole's new one, mine's broken -- typical! -- after some irrelevant encounter with water. I surmised that this would have been the two company, and I haven't answered the phone, and oh dear there's no signal, we now we don't actually know that they're even coming.

So I wandered round for a bit trying to find a vestige of signal on this heavily forested steep hill side in a mass of heavily forested steep hills about 10km from the nearest mobile mast probably. And heventually got through to the RACQ to ask them what the status is on the tow truck and could we cancel it. And, while they're checking, my call dropped out.

Laughably, in order probably to avoid confronting properly the reality of the situation I found myself in, I found myself wondering how the RACQ PABX might be designed and whether the A-leg dropping from a call on hold might affect the other call in progress. Old habits apparently die hard.

The second time, I gave them a number to call me back on, and hovered around the only bit of good signal I could find giving thumbs up to all the people who stopped to ask if we were OK.

I wondered if it could be a bad place to stand. Clearly there was a patch of oil there or something as I had been driving to the conditions, very slowly, and hadn't braked hard when the car skidded. I wondered whether someone else might repeat the mistake so I did make the assumption that the Aussie hand signal for "slow down" was the same as the English.

When the RACQ called back we - well mostly Gary, to whom considerable gratitude is owed, really - had the wheel good and free and I cancelled the tow truck. In fact the guy had only just left (this was about an hour later) and could just proceed to his next job. No charge to us.

I very hesitantly started the engine and we trundled away. The car drove absolutely fine, in fact we observed when we got back that both headlights were still working.

To cut a long story less long but probably still frankly long, Ric and Cate were tremendously understanding, I am deeply embarrassed in a sort of it-wasn't-my-fault-really and yet it-bleeding-well-obviously-was and yet there-was-nothing-i-could-have-done-differently way. And very, very, annoyed.

The car, the insurance company tells us, will be away at the car hospital for a good while. Maybe three weeks.

I've had to fix my puncture. Today has, by contrast, seemed very mundane. In a sort of "I'm alive" kind of way.

Gah. I'm going to watch the news.


Natural Bridge, Queensland On Saturday Gary and Julie came to visit.

They came and picked up Nicole at lunchtime with their long-time friend and Brisbanite Fiona - Eloise was asleep - and Squeaky and I followed them down later when Herself had awakened to New Farm to lunch at a restaurant whose name I don't remember.

It was a cool, overcast windy day. We were therefore sitting outside.

I dined on veggie-smedgy stuff which was quite nice. Meat was prevalent elsewhere. Eloise was pushed over without provocation by a little boy who then under duress apologised half-heartedly and was then led away by a contrite and embarrassed mother, juggling.

We then went on a CityCat - big-ass motor catamarans used as public transport up and down the river.

Having expended all my organisational time and expertise on Eloise I was dressed in a pair of T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, sorry thongs. I'll repeat that. A PAIR of thongs. Flip flops.

I froze my lower legs off sitting and standing and chasing, outside, on the rear deck as this retro bullet of a ship hurtled up the river.

"We should go and stand at the front" I said. Pure Genius. The eddies formed around the passenger compartment ahead of the deck on which we were standing had made the areas around my knees and beneath the least windy.

Having said all that, it was nice.

Jun 1, 2007

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge Today I decided to branch out a bit and while Eloise was at Nursery and Nicole asleep and take a trip to Spingbrook National Park and its natural arch and try out my new tripod, successfully retrieved on Tuesday!

Oh what a jolly time I had with it, wiggling around its little legs and wobbling around its n-planar gyroscopically non-assisted pan head.

The scenery was pretty stunning on the way up a nice, eeaassy road which led up a valley, Numinbah by name, over bridges with great names like "Black Shoot Creek", past horses and cows and old Queenslanders (um, houses).

The local geological architecture is mainly post-volcanic rhylite wot leads to nice craggy rocky escarpments poking out from above the trees. In fact the whole area is a remnant of a massive volcano 23 million years ago which is now called Mount Warning, or mount danger, or something like that.

The walk down to the Natural Arch was non-challenging and pleasant, crossing the creek via nice wooden bridges before taking you into this deep dark cave, resonating to the sound of a nice cool shower with the sunlight shining down through this nice big rocky skylight with water falling through it.

After I climbed up the other side, looked down to see some starry eyes couple getting hitched yes married there at the mouth of the cave.

Eloise had a lovely day back at the Nursery and was totally exhausted when I picked her up but really enjoyed my short-grain rice which was unpleasantly reminiscent of risotto rice.