Aug 31, 2007

What a Fun Friday

Story Bridge Lights We took the dogs to Coot-tha this morning climbed up steep hills which was hard work after a couple of weeks of light dog-walking duty, forced on us by other commitments and weather.

After frolicking - if that's how you spell it - up there for a while we filled the car up with apparently free salary sacrificed petrol, bought with a fuel card. You swipe it, enter your mileage, and off you go. As it comes out of money we never see and we haven't really gotten our heads around this whole sacrificing thing, it's apparently free. Though of course really it isn't... it's just cheaper.

In the afternoon we had the deep joy of having chest X-rays taken, for the renewal of our current visa. The machine that developed the plates was impressive/neat/cool/whatever and the pictures were available practically instantly.

I sneaked a peek and the radiographer was most impressed by my large chest cavity capacity. Well I say "most impressed," I really mean she commented on it. Probably in a "well I suppose I'd better say something" kind of way.

Yesterday Eloise wouldn't eat her supper and was chastised for having eaten snacks too soon before supper (skating over and sweeping under the inconvenient fact that those snacks had been given to her by a certain somebody) so after our chest X-ray we had late lunch at the Coffee Club in Wilston, with two cups of FW coffee for me and so ruined our appetites for supper.

So I've just got Eloise to sleep for the second time after falling for the "Daddy! Wee Wee" trick and - hook, line, and sinker - taking her to the toilet where she clearly wasn't remotely interested in urinating, which wasn't really surprising as she hasn't actually really done it yet ever.

Still second time lucky. I've explained to her the importance of bones (human ones, and hers in particular, rather than dog bones) in growing and standing and jumping, and after she stopped jumping I put her to bed. Although having rumbled her plan, I declined the invitations for cuddles and Twinkle Twinkle/Babylon.

Aug 29, 2007


Totality "We're going to see the eclipse" said Nicole when we met up with her in a time-crisis-panic. "An eclipse of the moon."

"Eclipse in my hair" said Eloise, referring to the butterfly clip she purloined from somewhere or other and likes wearing.

We picked up a pizza and had planned to go to Mt Coot-tha but I'd inferred from the news that there were hordes up there so instead we went to the beach.

A bit of a mistake really as high wispy cloud loitered over the coast making it all a little but blurry and indistinct.

But, as the time approached, the bright arc remaining on the moon disappeared and the moon turned an ethereal red. It was like having Mars in the sky.

It was nice as we munched on our pizza and Nicole and Eloise went to play on the playground in the pitch dark before it got a bit chilly and we came home.

Another late night for Squeaky though.

Aug 27, 2007

Sun Day

Simple Pleasures Yes, it's official, my brother is a Rain God.

Since he left the sun has got its hat on, sing hip hip hooray.

So we have gone to the beach, yes! And Eloise has voraciously collected mangrove seeds and put them into a poo bag before post-ironically paddling in a pool left by the receding tide then pulling down her shorts and crapping in it.

The nice thing about pools left by the receding tide in the late morning is they're as warm as bath water. Makes paddling a real pleasure. An almost unspoilt pleasure in this case.

"Hello!" she said to a couple passing by as a mini-log floated by and I pretended that I didn't really know her.

We were on our own at music today, Harry and his Mum inexplicably didn't turn up. Teena the teacher said that Eloise has "natural ability" as she ran around the room like a dervish and banged on drums and made a half-decent fist of playing the xylophone ineptly then went and sat at a switched-off electric piano keyboard thingy and actually pressed notes instead of just hitting it.

Might we have to think about piano lessons next?

Aug 26, 2007

Bye Then

A Veil of Water So after the Friday washout we were truly expecting the weather to improve in time for James and Jane to leave on Saturday.

And sure enough there were a few breaks in the cloud, although it was still raining.

As we ate breakfast the rain cleared up and the sun came out, so like true Brits we got on our shorts and t-shirts and headed for the beach.

Half way there in the car the heavens opened and a collective groan went up, but soon we were out the other side of the shower and the sun was shining very nicely as we arrived at Nudgee for Nudgee Saturday.

We waded around and walked on the sand and generally appreciated the feeling of sun on skin, then off to the café for a coffee.

Then back for a quick plate of baked beans before we left for the airport, where Eloise climbed onto the luggage conveyer and had to be retrieved a toute vitesse.

After a slightly emotional goodbye, we watched James and Jane disappear up the escalator into the airport netherworld, and with Eloise asked where the hell they were going (I paraphrase) and then appreciating that they were getting on a plane, I realised it might be some time before I see him again and had to suppress a little sniffle.

The stereo was on loud on the way back. Eloise fell asleep half way home.

And back to boring old spaghetti for supper. Which Eloise really liked as Nicole got home and we watched Doctor Who. Every cloud and all that.

Aug 25, 2007

Need Rain Do You?

Natural Bridge On a Rainy Day We were hatching a crazy plot on Thursday to go to Stradbroke Island which is supposed to be really nice, lovely idyllic beaches and all that and just across Moreton Bay from where we are.

If the weather was OK, that is.

Of course, it wasn't... the deluge continued. Now there is flooding just 100 miles North, in Maroochydore where we were the other day and up round Noosa. Still the locals are delighted, we've had two months worth of rain in two nights.

Us, we have mixed feelings about it, for obvious reasons, both starting with J.

So instead of Straddy we ended up going to the Museum, having lunch at the library, and walking round South Bank, which was nice in its way, except it just kept raining.

On Friday, while Eloise was in Nursery, I prayed (well hoped) that we would get a break in the weather is it was high time James and Jane actually got to see some of Queensland instead of just mooching around here and I thought it might be nice to go and see the Natural Bridge.

I walked the dogs for twenty minutes down the brook and came back soaked to the skin.

We went anyway, and when we arrived having driven for an hour and a half through anything between drizzle and showers, we debated whether to eat our picnic at the picnic ground or under the shelter of the information station.

The girls went off to check out the picnic site while the boys confidently started on their sandwiches and sure enough before long the girls were back admitting they were wrong. Ha.

So we wandered down to the Cave where the waterfall runs through and didn't get too wet on the way down. The creek was clattering into the cave, swollen as you might expect it to be with the rain, and creating a din to end all dins. A fine mist was blowing off it and soon my glasses were opaque and my camera obscura.

And when we got out of the cave the rain had intensified somewhat. In fact we were all absolutely soaked through by the time we'd finished the ten-minute hike back to the car.

I drove the car into the information station so that we could get changed in the dry.

We then drove over the NSW border in search of coffee and other hot drinks, which we eventually found in Currumbin, with Nicole trying - and loving - a cherry ripe flavoured hot chocolate.

We were back in time to pick Squeaky up for 5.30.

Aug 23, 2007

Bedtime Story

Bedtime Story Here's a nice picture of Uncle James reading a story to Eloise tonight, taking advantage o the two-minute attention span.

Erm, Crikey

Wallaby It's rained and rained and rained.

Ever since the day James and Jane arrived, it's rained.

On Tuesday though when we woke up it wasn't too bad, so we decided to risk it biscuit and head up to the Sunshine Coast and to Australia Zoo.

Where it was sunny!

So after baulking at the price we embarked upon a tour of the place, taking in the crocodiles for which it's famous, the koalas, the kangaroos, the elephants, the tigers, the wombats, the snakes, the birds, the endless pictures of Steve Irwin and the other Irwins who own the place.

We took in a show in the "Crocoseum," a largish stadium where elephants, birds, snakes and crocodiles were shown off to us. It was unfortunately very much less than enjoyable. Obviously scripted and really quite tired with crap humour and laboured attempts at warming the audience up by getting them to yell "Crikey" (inspired catchphrase of the late Steve Irwin) and do animal impersonations. Probably great of you're ten years old. We aren't.

But notwithstanding the Irwin marketing onslaught, the animals were obviously really well looked after and very happy and the settings were good, and we did enjoy ourselves.

It started raining on the way home.

It then rained all yesterday.

We went to the city and got rained on. We went out for a meal later on to a place called "Tukka" which was jolly tasty.

Unfortunately the side-effect of all the rain is that nothing dries out and we were having a nappy crisis. So the meal was curtailed when Eloise, suffering the hydraulic effects on the gastro-intestinal tract of eating too much and drinking too much, ran out of nappies and energy.

Aug 20, 2007

J and J Visit N and N

Picnic We picked up James and Jane from the airport yesterday. Earlier in the day, as apparently has happened to them everywhere that they have been, it started to rain and didn't really stop for twenty-four hours.

I was in a bit of a state as Eloise had thoughtfully borrowed my mobile phone earlier on, put it in her pocket, then poured a cup of tea afterwards. As a consequence the left hand side of the phone no longer worked; though it's better now.

We hung around the house in the evening and ate stuff and drank stuff.

Eloise was up bright and early and annoying - whoops entertaining - James and Jane first thing. It was still raining.

I took the dogs out to the brook... it was still raining. I was soaked to the skin.

We decided that the best plan was to go for a nice scenic drive then go to somewhere indoors, and settled on Underwater World at Mooloolaba.

We pitched up at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, and miracle of miracles it stopped raining so we went for a walk in the rainforest and had a picnic before setting off again, taking a wrong turn and having a map related argument.

Then to Mooloolaba and Underwater World which was fine. We watched the seal show and Eloise wet herself so thoroughly that Nicole had lovely wet patches on her jeans. Hooray!

Nicole as usual took over cooking so the meat eaters had Spag Bol and I had veggie bol. It was nice. Thanks very much!

Aug 18, 2007

Perpetual Motion

Perpetual Motion We sauntered down to the brook and encountered Alice and her grandchildren there. Eloise and Nicole stayed behind at the duckpond and I walked the dogs.

After Nicole had gone to work and Eloise woke up from her nap she proceeded to drive me utterly insane by being fickle to the point of inanity.

First she wanted a sandwich, then toast, then a banana, then a banana sandwich. When I brought a banana, she insisted her previous choice of sandwich was what I should have brought. And jam on it. So I brought her a banana and jam sandwich, though apparently it should have been vegemite. Or milk. With a straw.

So I thought all things being equal we should go out, and eventually we made it out to Redcliffe where there's a nice playground, which we found eventually after farting round by the pier for a while. The playground had a kind of nautical theme, being by he sea as it is, and Eloise thought it was pretty good. Then she saw the lagoon and wanted her shoes and socks off, but it was plenty freezing and that idea was vetoed by old killjoy.

Though then at the other side of the lagoon we discovered an amphitheatre, inexplicably with a backetball court in the middle. Odd.

Oh, James is arriving tomorrow. Suppose I should do some cleaning? Shopping? Maybe tomorrow.

Aug 16, 2007


Quack Today we went to the Ekka, the Queensland equivalent of the Suffolk Show. We pitched up about 9.30am and somehow made it through the alley of fairground rides and stalls before watching some horses for a while doing dressage (according to Nicole) and wandering around amongst the farm animals which pood a lot, and smelt pretty bad, but were quite cuddly in a sort of stupid way.

There was an incident at a whip demonstration where Eloise went AWOL and had to be retrieved before she was whipped and then some fun and games with a children's entertainer.

All in all the ladies held up well, Nicole had just come off nights and hadn't had any sleep and Eloise made it though til 2pm although things were getting a little fractious.

Aug 15, 2007

Post-Hypnotic Suggestion Backfires Horribly?

Early One Morning After Nicole had gone to work, I put the swollen-eyed one to bed telling her that we were going swimming tomorrow and that she'd better make sure she had her eye fixed by the morning or it would all be off.

I reminded her that the best fixing-room is the one located in the Land of Nod and that you could only go there when asleep.

"Yes" she said. "Swimming."

She got quite enthusiastic about swimming then, as we read our books and got ready for bed.

I sang twinkle twinkle to her and she said "Swimming!"

"Night Night."


We were up at 6.30am the next morning. I don't remember if the S-word was actually the first one of the day, but it didn't come far off it. I had no idea she was quite that enthusiastic about it.

Anyway, the eye was better (which was a bit of a relief given the stakes), so we went swimming. I'm sure Eloise loved it, but it was crowded with make-up classes like ours because of the Ekka holiday today (this was yesterday, in case I didn't make that clear). You'll remember that "make-up classes" are nothing to do with cosmetics.

Anyway what with the early start (down at the brook by 8.30am after a very shaky start from your truly), Eloise was in bed early, and so was I.

So imagine my glee when the dogs got up at 5.45am and woke Eloise up. This morning that is.

I decided to go to the beach with the retinue in tow. We were actually back home before Nicole went to bed. The beach was a bit cold to be honest with a slight wind. And I'd forgotten the dog leads. Still it was nice in a serene calm dogs-haring-around kind of way and we went to the playground afterwards.

At around 9.30am, wishing to keep active and not start to flag and all that, I thought we might go up to the Glass House Mountains for a spot of rainforest mountain fun. "Climbing a mountain" she said. Such insight.

Except fifteen minutes before we arrived, she fell asleep, and the car park for my Glass House Mountain of the Day, Mount Tibrogargan, was full.

So I thought "I'll not wake her" and just kept driving until we (I) took a random turn, drove through Peachester and took another random turn and drove through Woodford and came back via Mount Mee, stopping off after Her Holy Royalness had woken up to go to a playground where she offered a crunchy bar to some children and got the cold shoulder in return.

Still not to be put off we stopped off at a random scenic lookout with cows and said Hello or Moo to Lassie, Blackie and Petra. They would be cows, by the way. We fed them grass, and Eloise find their enormous tongues hilarious.

Aug 13, 2007


Bedtime Reading Nicole starts a set of long nights tonight designed too build up enough excess hours to have a week off next week, for when James and Jane turn up.

I hope she can last the distance... fifty-six hours in one week is a lot of hours and quite a sacrifice to make.

Other than that, it's Ekka day on Wednesday. Ekka is the Queensland equivalent of the Suffolk Show, expect there's a public holiday to go along on one day out of it's week-long-or-so run. So that's the day to avoid then, it'll be horiffically crowded. We'll probably go on Thursday or Friday when Nicole finishes her nights.

However it means we've had to move swimming forward a day and will now be going tomorrow.

Unfortunately this afternoon Eloise has developed an intermittently swollen eye, which may or may not be conjunctivitis (of which there has apparently been a case at Nursery).

So we'll have to see how we go on that one.

Other than that we've been in contact with the bank today, who between them and the police seem absolutely determined not to investigate in any meaningful way the fraudulent use of Nicole's card. They won't ask the police to investigate anything until 1) all the transactions have completed; 2) they've compiled a document; 3) they've sent it to us; 4) Nicole has signed and returned it. By which time any CCTV evidence will no doubt have been deleted by the relevant retail outlets.

Added to which as part of the card replacement policy (in theory, allegedly and reportedly) they have unapologetically double-charged as much as they can to our account for unfathomable reasons with a "don't worry mate she'll be apples" type reassurance.


Aug 12, 2007

Kranky Kids

Waves Eloise was in a bad mood today. She had a bit of a rash earlier on in the week, so maybe she's a bit ill, and there's a molar coming through, so maybe it's teething trouble, and a bit of a late night last night, so maybe she's just plain tired.

Anyway we aborted any ambitious plans we might have had for the day and went to Nudgee Beach. Just for a change.

I walked the dogs as the tide leaked away while the girls sat on the dry bit of the beach and played and ate the packed lunch.

Then to the playground where there were lots of people and Eloise had a nice time.

We skipped the Baby chinos though and got home and got Squeaky to bed. And I had a nice nap in the hammock.

I then went to Woolworths and spent all our money. Hurrah!

I'm joking before you all phone me up and offer me loans on favourable terms by the way.

Oh, and hopefully the contract for the lease on St Johns Road is signed too.

Aug 11, 2007

One small step at a time

I was merrily looking after my patients this morning when the SRN (Senior Resource Nurse) asked me if I fancied being SRN for the afternoon shift. "Is there no one else?" was my quick reply. There was more experienced nurse than me working but she only takes on the SRN role under duress. I agreed. It was nerve racking and was strange being in a slightly different role but I managed to get through the 6 hours without any hiccups... to my knowledge. I was co-ordinating 10 registered nurses and 30 patients. We shall see if I am asked to be SRN again.

Bank Adds Insult to Injury

After a nice time at the beach today where Eloise made some little friends, and the dogs chased a horse which was thankfully about half a mile away, I went to fetch Nicole a replacement bicycle helmet for her broken bonce protector.

Imagine my horror when the card transaction I attempted was declined.

Further imagine my horror when on returning home and checking on internet banking, that our account is $200 overdrawn.

Imagine my confusion when the statement shows four Debit Card Auth transactions whose values match exactly those fraudulently made some days ago on the infamous Chermside Crime Crawl.

So onto Westpac again who claim it's a glitch in their systems "which should sort itself out in a couple of days."

I'm seething!

In an approximation to the words of the Pet Shop Boys: what have we, what have we, what have we done to deserve this?

Aug 9, 2007

You For Coffee

Still Calm Peaceful "Chino" said Eloise as we walked along the beach. "Chino Chino Chino."

"OK" I said "but first we have to walk the dogs."

She pointed at me and said "You - flat white."

And that was me told.

Aug 8, 2007

Bad week so far

Well, egg on our faces. All the fraudulant transactions took place between 09:30 and 11:00 before we had even arrived at the pool. Note to self: ring and apologise to the swimming pool as I told them my card had been stolen from their changing rooms. So, there has been lots of telephonic activity to Westpac Fraud Team and the Stafford Police. I have been given all the transaction times, amounts and shops. We are looking out for a criminal who is dressed very well from head to toe and is bathed in perfume as the six transactions amounting to approximately $800 was spent at a variety of clothing and perfume stores. I am on a 12 hour shift tomorrow so Neil will be presenting my prepared crime sheet to the police station tomorrow.

I had a terrible day on Monday at work. I had been feeling unwell over the weekend and was still under par. I don't need to bore you with the details here or risk breaking confidentiality but it was basically a breakdown in communication. I ended up in tears on the ward which hasn't happened to me since my very early days. Faye told me she was glad I was still able to care enough about my job to burst into tears. Every cloud...

On a positive note I transfused my first ever stem cell transplant a couple of months ago with cells that had been delivered that morning from San Diego. Despite the above paragraph work is going well and I still love it. I have also completed my venepuncture and had two out of two successes on the ward.

My visa is up for renewal at the end of this month. There are delays in processing. I wonder why? So the renewal is a little more stressful than we were led to believe. Go on, bring it on, we are loving stress in this household, lets see how much we can cope with.

Published Photographer

Urban Beach Me, that is.

This photo above has been selected for inclusion in a web-based interactive guide to Brisbane.

You can look at it here.

Oh, and no they didn't pay me any money for it, unfortunately.

Swim Fun Dentist Crime

Showboating Well we went swimming this morning and great fun was had by Eloise and me in the pool with our eyes in blow bubbles and roly-poly arms and kick kick kicking and monkey monkeying around the edge.

Eloise did very well and swam two lengths on her own (with floatation devices naturally) and also some only slightly assisted jump in turn round swim to the sides with no floatation assistance at all.

She had a gutful of water by the end of it though.

Nicole, on her day off, watched from the side, while her handbag containing credit cards sat merrily hidden in Eloise's changing bag in the changing room. Of which more later.

Ric, Jatah and Toby came round about the same time as the tree surgeon ensuring Eloise's nap was aborted (never mind eh) and we haggled over Tenancy Agreements and signed up.

Then to the dentist where Eloise's teeth were checked and we played with fishes and stickers and bird mobiles while Nicole's teeth were hygienically cleaned.

When it came to be time to pay, however.... Nicole's credit card was gone, and her mobile phone too!

We found the mobile phone, quietly charging in our bedroom. But we checked the bank balance, and we've been cleared out. Absolutely gutted. The bank and us both.

So onto the bank and it turns out they'd detected fraudulent activity and blocked the card. When we can see the detail of the transactions tomorrow we'll be expecting to see a flurry of transactions at Indooroopilly shopping centre after 11 o'clock. Though mysteriously the Westpac fraud squad sent us an email at 10.53 to alert us, so maybe we'll be surprised.

So we are crime victim household today.

Westpac tell us we should get the money back, thankfully. Aren't banks marvelous. But it makes you realise that if you've got a bank card in your wallet you might as well be carrying around all of your money, all of the time.

Aug 6, 2007


A Thoughtful Moment While we were having our lunch yesterday Eloise climbed down these steps at Mooloolaba to the water and dipped a finger in.

There was a swimmer nearby who looked and sounded as though she was about to expire with the cold, and the water was indeed a trifle chilly though the day was sunny and hot with a fresh wind.

Still we had our jumpers on soon enough.

Aug 5, 2007

Parks and Beaches

Waterfall Had another field trip yesterday. Nicole had a day off work ill, but was on the mend, so I took the car down to get a new tyre put on.

The diagnosis was that it had been holed by a nail, so we'll just have to put that one down to back luck. Got a massive 200km off that tyre.

I'd spent a good hour phoning around wheel-merchants trying to find someone who stocked the right kind of tyre, and ended up at Chermside so I partook of the shopping mecca whilst the car was seen to, and lo and behold a new branch of the not-really-world-famous David Jones department store outlet was being opened by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, and I spotted a couple of big-wig politicians strolling around in the crowd.

I then grabbed a coffee after having spotted a copy of The Mote In God's Eye, an SF classic from the 70s which I've been trying to track down for years (though not really very hard), then picked up the car and drove down to Roma Street Parklands.

Doctor Nicole, Margaret, Bernice and I wandered around the Parklands for a few hours taking happy snaps of flowers, waterfalls, ferns and the like. The fern garden is in a shady gully, and as we were standing around deciding what to do next lots of little thingummies which I'd taken for tree-stumps started spraying out a fine mist, which was very photogenic.

In the afternoon Nicole rested up in bed while I took the other ladies out for a walk at the brook. We were going to go to the library but time ran out on us.

Today, after mowing the lawn, I went next door to try to sort out Peter's DVD-burning problem, and didn't really get anywhere, while Nicole performed further surgery on re-seeding another part of the lawn we hadn't done very well on up til now.

It's a bit shady over one side of the garden and what with the drought and all the lawn there has become a bit patchy. So we're trying to sort it out. We've already re-seeded one section and it's coming through OK, so heartened by that we're going to tackle the rest piecemeal.

Then we decided to go up the coast to Mooloolaba and had some sandwiches by the canal then walked up and around Point Cartwright, climbing on the rocks and so on and so forth. The sun was shining, it was a lovely day, all in all it was very nice. Eloise fell over in a rock pool and so all her clothes had to come off and the second half of the walk was done either naked or dressed in an enormous adult woolly jumper.

Aug 3, 2007

An Interesting Kind of Day

Paperbark Grove If you call being groped in the woods and getting a flat tyre in a two-day-old car interesting.

Personally I call it crap.

The bit which you'll all think is terribly interesting and are probably really looking forward to in an po-facedly vicarious way isn't all that exciting.

I went for a walk, on my day off, down South to akind of urban forest featured in the Wild Places of Brisbane book (I'll be writing to the editor asking what he means by "Wild." Walking around I got talking to this bloke, as you do. He said he'd show me which way the path went and in a relatively secluded spot and, and pretend-acciedentally touched my you-know-what.

Whereupon, polite until the last, I looked at him and said "Well have none of that monkey business, thanks very much" and stalked off.

And left pretty rapidly.

I drove away to look at a different part of the forest, cursing ad cursing my stupidity at having allowed myself to get into that situation and feeling pretty disgusted at the whole thing.

I parked up and got out of the car to the string smell of aftershave. Good grief.

So I couldn't really concentrate on the walk and decided bugger this I'm going home.

On the way back, sitting in the Pacific Highway traffic jam coming into town, listening to the workingstereo, a couple overtook me waving madly, and opening my window I was told I had a flat tyre.

So I had to get out and change the bloody thing.

Bad luck I suppose.

So interesting, if by interesting you mean an absolute minger.

New Carsville

Badge We are now the proud owners of a new - as in brand new, for the first time ever (for me (not that it's mine)) - Mazda 3.


And, at the same time, Parp!

We picked it up the day before yesterday and yesterday we dropped off the Hyundai off to Ric and Cate after spending a couple of happy, for which read hellish, hours vacuuming the dog hairs that the professional cleaners didn't manage to get off the upholstery.

We took it on a little spin after getting it up round Samford and as Nicole says it feels like coming home from an automotive point of view. No more clunky second gear and no more dogs on the back seat. Having said that, no more Eloise in the middle, the car seat goes on one side, so no more Squeaky in the rear view mirror which is a pity.

But overall we're really happy with it, it drives really well; very smooth, quite powerful (to the point where you really have to keep an eye on the speedo in case there's any cops around) and very very quiet.

Are we exhilerated? I suppose you could say that, not that we would admit it. We're not really the exhilerated type.

And there is the small matter of the debt that we're now in. Ah ha - the debt that Nicole's now in.

And we have to do 15,000km a year to get the tax break as well, which although not high as such in terms of the average mileage we're used to in England, puts us in the ironic position of actually having to do miles so we'll probably have to use the car in preference to cycling or whatever, but we'll see how we go on that one.

So what with two-year courses and so on, and not wishing to put dogs through unnecessary air journeys, it looks like we're here for at least the medium haul.