Sep 26, 2007

Over and Out from Uncle Chip

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

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

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

And Eloise of course has loved having him around.

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

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

Sep 25, 2007

Beach Bum

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday to Her

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday, Nicole.


By now the shortcomings of insect repellents were becoming obvious as people were starting to itch, then scratch, then itch more, then complain, then scratch, then itch, then complain more and more bitterly about the little bastard sandflies that had mysteriously been able to cover us all in a patchwork of little poxes.

It's all a bit hazy as one day flowed into another but I think that this day, which was probably Wednesday, involved a trip to the beach (surprise surprise) and some culinary delights courtesy of the local restaurant which we have frequented when camping here.

We looked at reflections of the moon in the water. "That's a reflection of the moon in the water" Eloise almost said, probably.

Not to mention the grandmother of all fires in which we burned a great deal of what remained of loose branches dotted around the campsite. Environmentally friendly? Ha.

The next day was our last and it was with some regrets that we collapsed the tents, packed them away efficiently and legged it.

We stopped at Maroochydore on the way back and walked the dogs on North Beach. I forgot to put on my sunscreen and was a little pink afterwards. Chris and Nicky decided to hang around and go camping. They followed us up the access road from the beach and we saw them turn off into a hotel.

We exchanged knowing looks.

Long Exposure

Did I mention that, that night at Rainbow Beach I did a lot of messing around taking long exposure photographs... so long that stars appeared as streaks as the sky rotated above us?

Did I also mention that I spent so long taking these that the battery on the camera ran out?

Oh, and that I didn't bring the charger?

Anyway, cursing myself I got up bright and early the next morning and bunged on the deet as the sandflies were being bastards. Eloise got up at the same time as me and within five minutes had a big bite right on her forehead.

We wandered around in a bit of a daze until the others woke up whereupon I made some breakfast for us and we proceeded to spend the entire day doing practically nothing at all.

Chris and Nicky went out ostensibly to collect firewood from the beach.

The rest of us went out to check out Inskip Point. There were lots of little camping grounds dotted along just behind the beaches up there that looked very nice indeed for a little break, nestled as they were in the forests just behind some very nice stretches of sand.

We climbed down onto a beach as the sun was going down but it was pretty damn cold! So we went home again and a huge fire was concocted. The night was cold and we didn't last as long as the previous night although the pyro had built a better fire.

Sep 23, 2007

Rainbow Beach

Tin Can Bay Day Three and we were a bit sick of the campsite at Hervey Bay and the dog-safe areas weren't really doing it for us so we decided to head down to Rainbow Beach where we've been camping before.

We packed everything up and headed off for a couple-of-hours drive cross country through beautiful remote forest reserves and down past Tin Can Bay to Rainbow Beach.

Chris and Nicky aborted their Whalewatching due to expense and not actually having found a trip to go on. Nicky decided to accompany us to Rainbow Beach, then she'd get back to Brisbane to be about her business.

We got there in the middle of the day and the boys had the tents up, no fuss, no nonsense. We went to the beach. Just for a change. The tide was in and we hopped over the rocks and so on and so forth. And very nice it was too.

Our industrial strength insect repellent was on hand and playing its role although the sand flies were still a bother. The campsite was absolutely hoaching with them as dusk approached.

Darkness fell and the Slimm pyromaniacs went about their business, gathering wood and making a fire.

I went off the find some wood and got horrendously lost. In the dark the woods suddenly became quite spooky and a lot larger. It seemed to take twice as long to get anywhere. I took bearings on a little light that looked like our fire but unfortunately turned out not to be...

But when the moon set the sky was amazing, stars beyond counting and not a cloud in the sky, apart from two clouds which strangely didn't move relative the stars around them which I decided were more than likely the Magellanic Clouds, two satellite galaxies of the Milky Way.

Hervey Bay

Life and Death at Hervey Bay We slept in fairly late, even though there were five in and on the bed by the time morning came around. Us three and the dogs that is, in case you're getting any inappropriate ideas, though I grant that some might think that that five would be inappropriate but notwithstanding that it was a bit of a squeeze, and the discomfort was only added to by the fact that the air mattress appeared to have leaked through the night so that when I moved, Nicole would find herself basically on the hard ground and vice versa.

Nicky and Eloise were getting on admirably as the morning went on, and we sat outside the tent coming to terms with our surroundings under the hot sun whilst Nicole fixed some breakfast, thence for a fairly late dog walk over on the West side of Torquay. Which, as it turned out, given the parlous state of our maps, was an absolute bummer to find.

When we got there the beach was actually a bit disappointing with a gravelly consistency, not the perfect beaches of the Sunshine Coast we're used to by a long chalk. And soon under quite a hot sun, Eloise was flagging.

The dogs were having a great time exploring the mangroves and the sea was lapping gently on the shore, the swell taken out by the channel between the mainland and Fraser Island.

We got back and flaked out. I napped for a couple of hours. We relaxed in the afternoon and didn't go very far.

In the evening Chris and Nicky went to look for Whalewatching opportunities and Nicole, Eloise and I headed out East to Toogoom to see what the beaches up there had to offer. We stopped at a nice beach with much superior sand but it was windy and quite chilly and the seaweed at the tide line stunk to high heaven. The sunset was nice though, and we played hide and seek with Eloise in the brush at the back of the beach.

Camping it Up

Night Sky We left around 11am Saturday morning on our little trip. We got ourselves some apparently-but-not-really-free petrol and got on our way, when I realised that I'd forgotten my mobile but we thought bugger it, we're not actually likely to need it, are we?

We'd decided to go to Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast which is apparently very nice. It's the next coastal point up from Rainbow Beach, about level with the northern end of Fraser Island. A good four hour drive we thought.

Nicole had spoken to Chris and arranged to meet him at Eumundi, near Noosa, so we hot-footed it up there and made it there for twelve fifteen or so and stopped off for dog- and person-emptying.

We were in a bit of a panic... well that might be a little strong.... about cargo space as we'd filled every available nook and cranny with stuff, carrying as we were an extra tent for Chris and assorted other bits and bobs, but problem was solved when Chris suggested that Nicky, his (ahem) travelling companion would like to come along with her car.

So off we fetched to Hervey Bay, and we got there after almost getting lost in a roadwork diversion at Mayborough at around four or so, and of course that was when the fun started.

The campsite that we'd selected turned out to be predominantly caravans and semi-permanent chalets. A lot of Aussies seem to live permanently at campsites, for whatever reason, and this one had only two spaces for tents that we could find anyway, which we took to the point of overflowing. It was a bit cramped really. Everything was very close together. Nicole was delighted with the camp kitchen though.

Nicky and I settled back to watch the fun as the Slimms attempted to erect the tents. We laughed and giggled as they put the wrong poles together and didn't get the tents up. Eventually they got there though, and Im not going to take any credit. None at all.

We went out to see if we could find a dog beach and eventually we did, over on the East side of town. We could see Fraser Island in the distance across the wet muddy slurry-sand on which rested some boats and attendant tenders in a most picturesque sunset light. Of course then the sand flies came out and Nicole got the jitters forcing a rapid retreat.

We passed the evening watching a star-filled sky framed against the silhouettes of nearby trees and retired fairly early after a long day's driving.

Sep 14, 2007

Off For A Bit... Maybe

Light Breaking Through We're planning to meet Chris up the coast somewhere and go camping.

Realising that with two dogs, a child and a passenger in the car we are having serious stowage issues, lucky Nicole bagged a birthday present for me early, a very romantic roof rack for her car. Lovely! It's soooo streamlined, very feminine curves, and like a good woman will only reduce the fuel efficiency of the car when loaded by an appreciable but tolerable amount.

So that was today, shopping for roof racks and getting camping equipment together. We bagged a camping stove, a table, some chairs and a magic lantern.

The only fly in the ointment is that when we got home after our financial splurgeaganza the nursery phoned to say that Eloise had conjunctivitis and could we please come and get her as soon as possible because they'd been trying to phone us since three o'clock and didn't have our mobile numbers.

So we fetched our little crusty-eyed girl and later on she went to see a doctor and procured the relevant ointment.

So fingers crossed things should still be ship-shape for camping tomorrow. We think we'll go up the coast to Hervey Bay, and probably be away for a few days, three or four maybe.

Yesterday in a fit of cabin fever exacurbated by Eloise's fickle forcefulness we went for a walk in the rainforest in the afternoon. Which was nice. I didn't attempt the previously traumatic descent from Mt Glorious in the dark, prefering the long way round.

Sep 13, 2007

Medical Attention

Tiny On Monday we went into the city to have our medicals for our sponsored visa renewal.

The permanent visa people took our money several months ago and that's the last we heard from them. What with the Gold Coast doctor visa rumpus they're probably busy taking immaculate care over everything. Never mind.

So we were prodded and poked around, though apparently in different ways, and Eloise got her clean bill of health, which was duly delivered to the immigration people.

I couldn't get mine because I didn't put my passport back in the proper place so Nicole assumed she had it when in fact she didn't. Nicole couldn't get hers because her urine sample was not up to scratch due to ladies' rhythms.

The other medical incident of note (other than Nicole's daily medical extravaganza) was an animal one.

Eloise and I on Wednesday went out to do some shopping and I suddenly remembered I had a library book to take back, so we nipped back in the car to get it.

I let myself into the kitchen and Tiny trotted up the hall to see me, whereupon her back legs gave out beneath her. She dragged herself across the floor using the momentum of her trot before winding up on her back with her legs waving in the air completely unable to get up.

It was two hours after our walk and I thought "Paralysis Tick" and before you could say Jack Black I had her in my arms and out to the car whereupon we legged it to the vets to the soundtrack of Chicane.

Anyway to cut a medium-length story short it looks like it might have been an epileptic fit, and there's not a lot to be done about that unless it happens every day. Apparently it's quite common in whippets.

Unless of course it was just dead legs from sleeping. Maybe that's common in whippets, I wouldn't know.

Anyway Eloise got given a balloon at the vet's, and it was a cracking balloon actually, giving great joy as it was blown around by the wind, before it was burst, of course.

Artistic Inclinations?

Artistic Inclinations

Sep 10, 2007

On the Decks

On The Decks At the park Eloise was grooving away on Chris' iPod. Wiggling her bottom and egging on the admittedly small crowd of three with arms in the air.

Chris gave her a pat on the bum by way of encouragement, at which point it transpired that she had crapped herself.

On the Rocks

On the Rocks On Sunday we went up to Mooloolaba and walked with the dogs on the rocks, around the headland and back to the park where Nicole and Chris cooked up a gourmet barbie which we ate in the shade of some trees, occasionally taking a break to dip toes in the water or to have a go on the swings.

Again it was windy, but hot in the sun. Windy was obviously good for the paragliders as four of them circled overhead as we wandered up the beach.

Stradbroke Island

Rocks at Frenchman's Beach So Chris was with us for a few days and taking advantage of the fact that the rain has now cleared up we kept ourselves busy.

On Friday before meeting up with Chris we went to see the Bourne Ultimatum which was quite good, if headache inducing with the shaky hand held camera style of the film.

We had a quiet time Friday night and on Saturday set off for Stradbroke Island. We only got lost once on the way and that was due to proper attention not being payed to road signs. Actually it's not all that far, but still we were resigned to missing the midday water taxi as we rolled up at 12:05, only to find another taxi company had a service operating at 12.30.

The water taxi was a closed-in catamaran type affair and went like the clappers. Eloise jumped around shouting "This is fun! This is fast!" and the floor bucked and wobbled beneath her.

Half an hour later we were in Dunwich on Stradbroke Island and immediately got on a bus to Point Lookout which was about another twenty minutes.

The weather was lovely and sunny, and out of the wind quite warm. In the wind (which was quite strong and blowing right off the Pacific Ocean) it was pretty cold!

We found a sheltered spot in a cove to eat our packed lunch then went for a little toddle up Main Beach which was aborted as it really was blowing a gale and we didn't much want to get sandblasted.

Our options were to take our chances at Cylinder Beach (where swimming was permitted so it couldn't be too windy could it) or get a coffee and gelato.

So after we'd finished our ice cream we climbed down a rather impressive wooden stair for a few hundred feet to Frenchman's Beach where we walked up a bit, but continued to be sand blasted. Eloise had a hoot climbing the dunes and Chris managed to lose his sandals after chasing her up to the top. He had to go back for them and luckily found them; he'd only bought them the day before.

We made it back onto the bus at 5 and caught the water taxi back at 5.30.

Apart from the wind part it was actually really nice. In sheltered spots it was very warm. The beaches were unspoilt and the sea turbulent and impressive. We'll go back one day when things aren't quite so blowy.

Sep 6, 2007

Quiet Week

In the Bowels of the Big City Skyline On account of us getting another visitor (Nicole's brother Chris) the heavens have opened once more this week for several days and it's due to rain until Saturday.

Consequently we haven't really been up to much, other than swimming a bit, walking the dogs a bit, a bit of music and lots of Playground Radio.

NIcole's been on nights so we've tried to keep quiet... and sometimes succeeded, and managed to stay out of the house by doing things like leaving swimming trunks at the pool and having to return for them.

I have consequently established that Eloise is a Sophie Ellis-Bextor fan and also rates Underworld and Orbital.

Wednesday night I had a field trip out with Dr Nicole in town for some night photography, which I felt duty-bound to attend, unlike everybody else.

We walked up from a lookout on Bowen Terrace and across the Story Bridge but it was windy as hell, and quite chilly and we didn't last long... although I had to be bvack so Nicole could go to work anyway.

Still next time Binna Burra, which might be nice... if it isn't raining.

Sep 3, 2007

Father's Day

Rush They have Father's Day on a different day here. Dad. if I forgot Father's Day, that's why. Sorry.

It was Sunday and Nicole was on an early, so as a special treat to the rest of us I embarked upon a trip to Bribie Island and we wandered along the dog beach there, frolicking in the waves, building sandcastles and not touching jellyfish.

The weather was beautiful, it was nice and warm and a light breeze blew on off the bay. The waves were gently rollicking their way onto the beach, about six inches high (the waves that is, I didn't measure the beach but it was more than that). The odd sailing boat meandered away in the distance and occasionally a Jetskier or two buzz-bzzz-buzzed by.

The sand was light and fine and white and the water as it retreated darkened it then faded as it drained away. The surf line was a wibble-wobble of driftwood, mangrove seeds and twigs as the tide crept in.

As the beach entrance receded behind us, the number of beachgoers declined from not a large number to a considerably lower one. We stopped to say hello to other children, and to stand looking at them smiling sweetly before attempting to imitate and join in with what they were doing. My role (the we above is obviously her) being to prevent the joining-in from being destructive and/or unwelcome.

After a few "G'Day, mate" s, "Erm, hello"s, "How's it goin'?"s and "I'll live"s we stopped and munched on rice cakes and crisps and pineapple flavoured water bought at huge expense, and slid on our bottoms down the sandy ridge at the edge of the scrub/forest behind to enormous exultation and glee, we retired into said scrub/forest and relieved ourselves. Yes, all four of us.

On the subject of toilet training, the dogs are quite well advanced. I'm pretty good too and Eloise, having been instituted in a reward-based some-time but not-very-serious training scheme, is still erratic to the point where's she's still to experience the joy of controlled release even once, never, as she hasn't, having actually performed on the toilet.

She does prefer the toilet to the potty though and for some reason seems to prefer it without the baby-bottom-adapter, and balances there trying to get at the toilet paper before she declares herself done and is given a star for inclination if not results.

Still, when she's ready. No pressure...

Anyway, getting back to whatever it was I was bibbling on about, after a while she got a bit excited in the sea and a wavr came in that was a little suprising and the dress and jumper got wet and we considered it time to return.

Later we met up with Nicole and had a nice coffee and cakes session in the late afternoon sunlight.

I received a lovely book about National Parks and suchlike things, a beautifully and artistically rendered by Miss E. N. Gavin no less laminated bookmark and a nice big memory card for my camera.

I met a snapper the other day on a cliff overlooking the Story Bridge who had a 10-20mm lens. I had a look through it and now hanker after super-for-a-digital-camera-wide-range fun.

So anyway that's kind of the story of Father's Day. And a nice day it was too.

On Saturday I lost my house keys at the beach, which was a bit of a bummer which I won't dwell on except to say that it was a right pain in the jacksy after I had to return to the beach to look for them, then bother Nicole at work for her set, which was actually a nice surprise for her, and great for Eloise to see where this "work" thing may or may not happen, but a little bit arduous overall for me.

Sep 2, 2007

Whoops x 2

When we went to get our chest x-rays done at the Princess Alexandra Hospital on the southside Neil did a nifty piece of parking getting into a tight parking spot but knocked the 4x4 parked behind us and took a small amount of paint off the back bumper. I was giving it all "you've damaged my new car and we haven't even had it a month". Later on that evening I was on my way to my book club at the Jazzy Cat Cafe in West End. My first time out driving by myself into the city after dark. I was busy checking the map at red traffic lights after crossing the William Jolly bridge when I knocked the 4x4 in front of me as I hadn't put the hand break on. I followed the 4x4 into a quiet road to exchange details. No one was hurt and there appeared to be no damage to either vehicle. Today is Fathers' Day here and so I met Neil and Eloise for coffee and cake after work. Neil asked if I wanted the bad news now or later... the bonnet of our car is our of alignment by about 1 cm. I can't believe it. Our poor car is a month old and already has two war wounds.