Jul 31, 2007

Coff Coff

Snuggle Last night Nicole went out on her night shift, and when Nicole has night shifts we make real put-hairs-on-your-chest coffee to help her stay awake.

Whilst we were preparing Squeaky for bed, we inadvertently left a cup (yes, yes, I inadvertently left a cup) out downstairs which we found splashes around.

Observing the wild look in Eloise's eyes, we made an assumption.

The assumption was apparently borne out when we said goodbye to N at the front gate, and Eloise legged it up the street at full pelt. Honestly I've never seen her run so fast for so far. She must have covered fifty metres by the time I caught up with her, giggling "Catch Me!"

She wriggled out of my arms by hook or by crook another three times by the time we got back inside, and it took an hour to get her into bed, let alone asleep.

So she hasn't inherited my immunity to caffeine, although I suppose it's something you need to work at.


Story Bridge After we'd been to the beach and all that on Sunday, after getting up at the crack of dawn, and Eloise had had her epic 90 minute kip at lunchtime, we went to the shops and did some grocery shopping which, when I unforgivably deviated from the list, ended up costing 100 bucks, that's about forty quid, if we're trading financial colloquialisms.

Afterwards Eloise demanded Chino again so we stopped in at the coffee shop across the way from Wooly's and had a quick cuppa, then Eloise insisted on helping the waitress with mopping up all the tables in the place and merrily sprayed the cleaner and mopped the tables. Most helpful.

Then home again where she played outside and shouted at Val across the road until she got a response, then emotionally blackmailed her into bestowing a cuddling my crying crocodile tears when she tried to escape.

Later in the afternoon we drove down into town to watch the sunset, in the hope that the Samford smoke still lingering around might turn it a bit spectacular, and it was nice, but low cloud on the horizon obscured the sun. Never mind.

Still we had fun boat-spotting and Eloise enjoyed annoying an old geezer saton a bench nearby who was drinking wine neat from a bottle (though he didn't look like a wino, he was a little cantankerous) by running up to him and saying "Hi! Hiya! Hello!" over and over. We twirled and chased around and said hello to dogs and so on and so forth. It was kind of fun.

Yesterday we had music in the morning. Eloise is really making great steps, sharing toys with Harry, the other kid in our class. Her favourite song seems to be "Up. Down, Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle" which she's been singing all week. In the class we sang it and Eloise did all the movement in time, stretching up and down and beating on a little bongo. It was a proud moment for us. And she didn't soil her pants either.

We met up with Ric and Cate on Friday and re-established some personal contact after all the to-ing and fro-ing with emails. They seemed happy with the way that the house was, and Ric is keen to come around and do some DIY, which seems to be his thing.

It looks like they'll be around for the next few weeks while they sort out their paperwork and visas for Saudi. Reminds me of where we were in England about a year ago.

Jul 30, 2007

Wild Horse Mountain

From Wild Horse Mountain I dragged Her Nibs up to Wild Horse Mountain the other evening and clambered up the hill with her in the backpack, which was a bit of a struggle. It's pretty damn steep in places. Whilst marching up the hill, I recited "Room With A Broom" to her, six syllables at a time, but faltered just past the bit where the frog retrieves the wand, if that makes any sense at all.

I watched the sun go down, while she investigated the platform we were standed on, and decided that it was infested with whales.

I wouldn't give her the car keys, but she got my hanky at one point and kindly dropped it over the side for me.

On the way back, just as we were coming into Brisbane, there were signs warning of a "Smoke Hazard" and as we were coming down the main drag into town, a couple of miles from Grange we started to smell quite a sweet smoke, although we couldn't see it. The smell pervaded right until we got home. Seems there was a grass fire at Samford, to the North West that ignited, got back burned, then ignited again, and a fair bit of central Brisbane has been downwind.

Jul 29, 2007

Early to Rise

Mangroves I got woken up when Eloise woke up at 5.20am and got brought into bed with us to sleep some more. She has woken up early a few times over the past few weeks, but generally due to the cold we've all been suffering from (but are over now).

Nicole's alarm clock went off at 5.30am. And general moving around went on until 6.30am. So sleeping was not done.

I gave in at that point and we got up and made toast and coffee/tea and watched a bit of telly, and we were down the beach for 8 o'clock.

The longest beach visit for quite a while, the tide was getting to be pretty much in so we walked behind the mangroves and picked flowers as we went. Ahhhh.

On the headland/sand spit we - well, Eloise - harrassed fishermen by standing next to them, pointing at their bait and forcefully announcing "Fish." And we met a little miniature(!) dachsund puppy, as well as an Irish geezer who lives in Nudgee Beach (the area that is, not under the sand itself) who, since I saw him when Nicole was back in Blighty, has had a baby boy, and an extra dog.

After footling about up there for a while, we headed back, putting the dogs on the lead to walk past a bloated tropical fish lying at high-tide point, and repaired to the café for, guess what, a Baby Chino. Eloise had been requesting one ever since we arrived at the beach. I think maybe we have a café society girl in the making, all we need to do is move her up-market from fish and chip shops and from frothy milk and a teaspoon. And I took the bold step of buying a Sunday Paper, though I wasn't actually permitted to read it as we ate our Vegemite (Eloise) and Peanut Butter (me) sandwiches.

Then to the playground, well two playgrounds, which are arrayed along the beach where the café is, where swings were swung on, slides slid on, and see-sawed see-sawed on, amongst other things, whilst the dogs lounged next to a bench underneath a tree. Eloise met a "Mine mine mine" Nemesis, which was quite amusing in a "Thank God it isn't only me" kind of a way.

Of course it couldn't last and eventually exhaustion set in, little tempers frayed and we got home for a sleep at 1.

An hour and a half later, just as I was heading out to the hammock with my book (The Portable Door), she woke up again.

It's been a long day.

Jul 28, 2007

Eloise Related Fun

Reach It's a long time ago, but I'm trying to remember what we did at the start of the week, because it's all a bit of a flurry at the moment.

Nicole had three days off, and on Monday we went to music (did I mention that Eloise has started singing?) on the bikes. We arrived and would have been on our own if it weren't for another older kid who had a make-up class (that's a class she goes to because she couldn't make another one, rather than a diversification into cosmetics).

Eloise demonstrated her essential qualities by shamelessly hoarding all the little toys, refusing to co-operate with us, and crapping herself. But she had a great time as we all jumped around and danced in hoops. Nicole had the temerity to mock my horse-trotting dance, which was apparently more like Ska. I ask you.

Nicole had booked some tickets for a kiddy performance art performance thing down at the State Library on Wednesday, and we toddled down to that.

It was an adaption of a book called "Cat," the details of which I won't bore you with except to say it's about a day in the life of a cat, and to be frank I was struggling to see how it could be made into anything approaching entertainment, but in actual fact it was really good.

The cast consisted of two women and a man who, well, pretended to be cats and dogs and mice and so on and sang songs and generally jumped about and danced and sang smiled and all that stuff that kids apparently find engaging.

The set was quite innovative not that I know jack about these things, consisting of a large circular area decked out like a garden with three paths converging at the centre, and the audience sat in the areas of lawn (not real lawn) between the paths.

We went to the café at the Library afterwards for nice sandwiches and coffee and then to the Museum. I had another escalator-related incident where my shoelace got caught at the bottom. Embarrassingly.

Nicole was at work on Thursday so E and I toddled around, walked the dogs, went swimming and went up to Mount Coot-tha for a coffee. Nicole had left me a list of things to do, damn her eyes, and I got most of the stuff done, like chase up the car finance company to see what was going on, wash stuff, blah blah blah. My hit rate was exceptional until we were just about to go out to get Eloise's amber necklace fixed (not on the list, before you ask) when I was appropriated by Paul across the road for some technical support, which turned into an hour-long job, while Eloise played with some little friends that Carol was babysitting.

Then Eloise insisted on calling in on Val, where we had coffee (I should be an insomniac) and I ticked "Envelope for Council Tax" off the list.

The car is looking good for Wednesday. We sorted out the insurance yesterday. It's tremendously cheap here compared with Blighty. We'd pay £500+ for insurance there, here it's about £150.

Go to go. I can hear squeaks from the number two bedroom.

Jul 25, 2007


Light Switches Allow me to bore you shitless with some photographic geekery. Above picture taken on Saturday, when we went down to the city (doesn't that sound very Neighbours) around dusk and I jiggled about while the girls played on the playground.

Plonk camera on tripod. Set to Auto-Exposure Bracket, +/- 2 EV. Ensure tripod horizontal. Working from left-hand side of panorama field of view, take sets of three shots which overlap each other by at least 20%.

Post-process using Photomatix to combine each three-shot set into a single High Dynamic Range image.

Stitch together five (in this case) resulting images using Panorama Factory, then adjust for levels and sharpness using Paint Shop Pro.



Blossm I'm hearing that the winter we've had here is the coldest since 1941 or something. What luck for us. Not that I'm going to whinge again about how perishing cold it is, or was, especially at night; because it's actually warmed up a lot. It's really nice during the day now and not too bad at night neither.

Still Val was saying the other day that in August the westerly winds come in which blow cold air in from the centre of the continent. I expect they'll coincide with James and Jane arriving...

We've been continuing to try to get St Johns Road sorted out for tenancy by proxy, thanks to Mum and James (and Jane) for going over the place. Amazingly the new tenant doesn't want our kick-ass washing machine so Dad is going to store it for us for a while along with some other stuff, thanks to him for that.

Jul 20, 2007

The Week

Fashion Unconsciousness We've been a bit busy on a few things.

Sorting out, by proxy, the house in Ipswich: we have a tenant lined up and thanks to Mr Broughton we have filled in forms granting Power of Attorney so Mum can sign stuff on our behalf, like little things such as the contract of tenancy.

Getting our finances and cash flow here on an even keel by getting salary sacrificing in place so utility bills and childcase and such like things come out on Nicole's pre-tax earnings, saving considerable money.

Buying a car... we signed the paperwork on Wednesday and all things being equal with any luck we'll have the new Mazda come early August.

Mum's also dealing with recovering the car in Ipswich which has been complicated by the fact that Ipswich Mazda has been pranged and is currently with the repairers and won't be back until after the Aussies have left.

The Aussies are landing in Brisbane at some point in the next few days, though we're not sure when We're feeling a little strange, like one chapter's coming to a close or something, and have an urge to do low-grade cleaning.

It'll be strange to see them again, on their territory this time. The ironic symmetry of the situation has struck us - i.e. that they will have to stay at their Mum's house for a few weeks while they wait for visa processes to complete while we're in their house, just as we did back in Ipswich.

So anyway it's busy busy busy, and in between all of this the usual dog walks, swimming, music lessons, etc.

So I haven't had much time to do this... hopefully get back up to speed again soon.

Jul 16, 2007


There Goes the Sun We were just getting ready to go out to walk the dogs yesterday when this appeared line by line overhead. By the time we'd finished chatting with Paul from across the road, it said "Sunday Mail" and had drifted far far away and was indistinct as the wind blew at it.

Jul 15, 2007

Beaches and Stuffed Animals

Azure Nicole's had a could of days off and while Eloise was at nursery on Friday we made the most of it and went to see Harry Pot Pot and the Order of the Pheonix. I must say I thought it was very good, probably the best one yet, but I quite like Imelda Staunton (not in that way, mind) and the action wizard-fight thingummybob at the end was pretty cool.

I am developing a deeply worrying tendency to utter Americanisms like "Awesome" and "Cool." I don't really know why, it's quite distressing. I apologise.

Friday night was crime night as usual and we sat through Taggart and Ghost Squad. I can't believe I've sat through a whole series of Taggart, I never liked it before and I haven't started now. I got some sort of perverse satisfaction from sitting through Midsomer Murders, just for the sake of Nicole's eyebrow-raising, but a new series has started and I sort of came a little bit close to looking forward to it. Worrying worrying.

On Saturday we went to the beach and then to the café as we seem to be doing on Saturdays now. I had a hunger-related sense of humour failure though which was a pity because the weather was nice.

Today I was knackered and Nicole was back at work. I took the remaining ladies down to the brook and we played on the swings etc, before labouring our way back home for lunch. Eloise walked all the way, at an average speed of about 500 metres an hour I reckon. It's getting pretty warm during the day, which lulls you into a false sense of security cos it really chills down at night, but while the sun's out it's really nice.

After lunch I put Eloise to bed and put some washing on before lying down for a nap myself, but she woke up twenty minutes later, rather scotching my cunning plan.

So instead we went to the Queensland Museum and wandered, well ran around goggling at stuffed dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, emus, lions, tigers, polar bears, kangaroos, hairyplanes, frogs, snakes, all sorts of things. There were buttons to push and lights and sounds that came on when you pushed them. Eloise was in seventh heaven, she really had a great time. Of course the hairyplanes weren't stuffed.

Nicole who was on a 12-hour shift today by contrast was ordered to go for a lie down half way during the day and is totally exhausted. Poor dear. And I don't mean that sarcastically before you start rolling your eyes.


Valerie and Eloise We met Valerie from across the road the other day as we were getting ready to go to the beach. Valerie and Eloise get on very well, but it's possible that E stepped over the mark when you thrust her arm down Valerie's shirt. Ear-waggling is all very well... hang on, she's looks like she's enjoying it.

Jul 12, 2007

The Art of Camouflage

The Art of Camouflage Need to work a little on this hiding thing; although she's very enthusiastic, I'm not sure she grasps the essentials of not being seen though around the house she'll hide behind curtains or hanging towels to much better effect.

Nicole's on nights at the moment, and the cold I've been whinging about for the last few days has conventiently come right out in full effect in my nasal passages at the same time so I'm wandering around like a zombie getting through several hankies a day and feeling a bit buggered really.

Still not to let that put us off! We went swimming yesterday for the first time in yonks. Lots has changed; they've stopped doing baby classes in the afternoon and Valerie our excellent previous coach has gone and got herself a "proper job."

So a different day, a different time of day, and a different teacher. Eloise hasn't forgotten her skills though and is still very enthusiastic. And the new coach Judy is actually really good, very enthusiastic, very engaging.

Afterwards we went up to Mount Coot-tha and had a chino and cake there. A couple of girls were sat next to us with plates of chips... they left with the plates almost untouched so I thought why not help ourselves. So we did, Eloise sat on my lap.

Shortly afterwards while we were in our/my feeding frenzy, a strange thing happened as a warm sensation started spreading across my lap and down my legs.

We made a reasonably sharp exit, and not too much of a puddle. Serves me right for keeping Squeaky in pants for too long outside. And for borrowing chips. OK... stealing them.

Still, on the subject of camouflage, my shorts covered up the damp marks very well and I don't think anyone noticed.

Jul 11, 2007

An Afternoon Stroll

Prams We went to the library to take back some books and get some new ones ("New Book! New Book!") and Eloise decided that she didn't want to go on the bikes, although we also had a scheduled stop at the bakery, but wanted to go in the pram. She then went one further and decided she wanted to take her pram too.

All well and good, until two hundred yards away she decided she couldn't really be bothered with hers and would much rather ride in mine. Luckily hers folds up and fits in the back of mine perfectly.

Jul 8, 2007

Gently Lapping Waves

Dusk at Manly Marina Haven't been up to much these last couple of days. Nicole was at work yesterday so Squeaky and I went to the beach with the dogs. She wasn't really up for it though, her cold is still going on and her nose is streaming on an ongoing basis, and she's developing a nasty little cough.

So we cut the beach short and went to Pam's Cafe for a Baby Chino and vegemite sandwich then back home for a nap.

Nicole got back from work and we decided to go for a drive down to Manly and toddle along the Esplanade.

We walked up a jetty and looked at the massive Marina there and Eloise marveled at the fishermen there; one guy had about ten sardines slowly suffocating to death on the side, the flapping about had Eloise fascinated.

We got back in time for a rapid deployment supper of Lentils with grilled peppers and had Eloise in bed just in time for Doctor Who. Result!

Today we went to the beach again, and in a repeat of yesterday, cut it short due to general unwillingness on Eloise's part and had coffee at Pam's Cafe.

After her nap we checked out a nearby playground where we met lots of dogs and indulged in general climbing sliding and swinging.

Jul 6, 2007


Butter Wouldn't Melt We spent all day yesterday doing online driving tests in preparation for our attempt at Aussie Driving License acquisition.

In the event they've changed the rules and UK license holders don't need to sit a test anymore!

So we are now the proud owners of Australian Driving Licences, possible the noddiest driving license I've ever laid eyes on.

Still at least we know now how close you can't park to a bus stop.

This morning we went to Mount Coot-tha to walk the dogs for the first time in an eternity, only to find out that half our circuit is closed for maintenance.

And then we went to see Pirates of the Carribean for want of something better to do. We thought it would be rubbish, so when we were waylaid on the way by a finance problem, and were subsequently late, we weren't that bothered to abort abort abort and go and get a coffee instead whilst making alternative finance arrangements.

Jul 4, 2007

Peace in the Valley

Hula Chris has departed on his travels.

We've had a lot going on what with this and that and haven't really been able to give him the attention he really deserved, which is a pity, but speaking selfishly he's actually been quite useful in looking after Eloise whilst we've been out and about on our business.

Still I think he enjoyed himself and his stay was quite restful, and for us it's back into something approximating the comfort zone of our routine.

I dropped him off at Roma Street Transit Centre this afternoon then went to the College to pay the deposit on the course after having talked to the bank yesterday to sort out the daily spend limited on the account which thwarted me yesterday.

Nicole finished a six-day stint at work today and to celebrate we went to a nearby restaurant called Ragizzi's and had some lovely cakes with coffee (and wine for Nicole). Yummy.

Jul 3, 2007

Another Photo Field Trip

Inside the Dome I'm struggling to remember what we did on Saturday... it was such a memorable day, obviously; I'd like to say it was on the tip of my tongue, but it isn't. The more I think about it, the less it seems we did, although I'm pretty sure when I cast my mind back that Doctor Who was involved, and filling in a form to convert our mortgage in the UK to allow us to lease the house.

In fact Andrew from the Halifax was very helpful, and it needn't cost us a bean, but we're going to go for a fixed rate mortgage so there's a fee involved. Never mind.

We've decided to buy a car, as we'll need one anyway, and we might as well get one sooner rather than later. We're going to get one on a lease which allows us to pay it out of Nicole's pre-tax pay, which works out to be very good value. So over the next week or so we'll set the wheels in motion on that.

Doctor Who was quite good after the frankly appalling Christmas Special which aired here on Thursday night. Chris went and watched the rugby at Crusher's rather than watch it. No accounting for taste.

On Sunday we got up bright and early for a Photographic Field Trip to the Coot-Tha Botanical Gardens again. Chris came along and did a great job of looking after Eloise which left me relatively free for camera-geekery. There was a nice lookout with a great view over forest to the City, then we walked around a bit, encountering some totem poles, then past the Japanese Gardens.

Chris had taken Eloise over to the restaurant when she demanded Baby Chino so I went over there and we had a gluttonous lunch of chips sandwiches and cakes washed down with coffee (babychino for Eloise).

After that we wandered around the Tropical Dome (see pic above) for a bit, meeting up with the snappers again, before they went home or wherever they were going next.

We were pretty tired after all that so mostly we turned in for an early night.

Nicole was at work yet again on Monday, volunteering for another long 12-hour day as the ward is short-staffed, and Chris, Eloise and I spent the morning at Samford Forest before dropping Chris off in town for to book some bus travel and actually see Australia while he's here.

He's bought himself 5,000km of bus travel which should see him right, I don't know if he'll make it to Uluru but he might manage Adelaide then back along the Coast Road. It looks like he'll be leaving for Byron Bay tomorrow.

I had three tasks to complete today. One was to send the form off to the Halifax. Completed successfully. Two was to buy a Queensland Highway Code equivalent. Completed successfully, after visiting five newsagents. Three was to pay the deposit for my Photography Course, which I embarrassingly failed at as there is a $1000 daily spend limit on our account. Bummer! Still I've upped it now so I'll try it again tomorrow.