Nov 30, 2007

Camping It Up

View from Neurum Creek Bush Retreat Packing was, rather unexpectedly, given that space was at a premium given an extra passenger, a breeze. Possibly because I left the details to Nicole who is genetically pre-disposed to being good at that sort of thing.

We forewent the air mattresses too, taking a risk that sleeping on duvets would be OK. The air mattresses after all are next to useless having both developed unfixable leaks which necessitate reinflation every day. Not good.

So we headed off about 11 o'clock through Samford then Dayboro then up the Mount Mee Road across the mountains and down the other side, along the D'Aguilar Highway. There was a certain amount of consternation in the car, I sensed, as I'd owned up to not actually having printed out a map of how to get to the campsite, and the UBD Refidex didn't extend quite far enough to cover it, but the Force was with me and I remembered the names of the relevant roads.

Consternation became elevated again though as we rolled onto the last road on our journey, which was a dirt track the entrance to which was protected by a cattle grid.

To the uninitiated among you, our dogs and cattle have in the past failed to mix well.

And soon, the dogs, up until now resting quietly, woke up to the herd of bullocks lazily chewing the cud in the middle of the road, and began barking madly.

Consternation receded, for me at least, as we rolled over another cattle grid a k or so down the road, and descended into a dip crossing a little creek that - get this - had flowing water in it, in a verdant valley with forested mountains to either side.

Unpacking and tent-building went well and we embarked upon a walk up the hillside which would have been very quick if it hadn't been for Eloise. Still the dogs were in seventh heaven and we could look out over the valley beneath a slightly ominous-looking overcast sky before descending again to the campsite.

We had been put on the plum spot on the campsite as there was actually absolutely no-one else there, and the site was actually pretty big, probably covering several hectares though I'm not sure I really know how big a hectare is. However be that as it may, both our tents fitted easily onto our alloted space which was reasonably flat, surrounded by trees, at the bottom of the walking tracks, and equipped with a stone fire circle at which Nicole's eyes lit up.

I'll leave it up to Nicole to extol the virtues of the composting toilets which were an easy three minute walkaway unless you had Sproggy with you.

We grabbed a reasonably early night after sitting around the fire for a bit.

And got up in the morning after a somewhat broken nights sleep, punctuated by the trials and tribulations of having had to spend the night with two dogs and a nearly-three-year-old to have a light breakfast of sandwiches and juice and coffee.

Mother did the decent thing and offered to look after Eloise while Nicole and I took a brisk walk with the dogs, so we set off thinking we'd be back in an hour, looking at the map to see if we could maybe get half way up the mountain.

Nov 25, 2007

Full Moon

The Power of the Waves Eloise was awake and in full effect by 6am Saturday morning, so we gave Nicole a lift to work for her early shift then high-tailed it to the beach with no preparation whatsoever, to be confronted by a high tide and blustery wind which was blowing water in pretty reasonable sized waves (for which read several inches high) across the bay.

We didn't make it far up the beach proper before Madam decided this was all a pretty bad idea so off we went for our coffee and chinos and then to the playground where we mooched around for quite a while.

There's a sea wall just ahead of the playground against which the waves were slapping playfully creating the occasional splash of water. Eloise decided it would be great idea to play around a bit with this, which I took to be a pretext to get her clothes wet then remove them, which of course she did.

I may have mentioned yesterday that one of the Chermise stops was a toyshop where we got lots of paint. These were brought out in the afternoon. The end result was masses of mess and a few interesting Rorschasch diagrams. And a dissatisfied Dad who had to clear up, fighting an unquenchable urge to continue which resulted in half a pint of black paint in a cup whilst distracted on the phone.

We picked Mum up from the airport at seven or so and then watched the election, with the super-efficient Australian system delivering a result by ten o'clock or so. So bye bye John Howard hello Kevin Rudd, let's see if Australian Labour bears any more resemblance to Labour than British Labour does. Wouldn't be hard.

As of tomorrow we're off camping for a few days. We're going to Mount Archer which isn't too far from here, up near Woodford. Should be nice. The campsite seems well appointed with on-site walking tracks, mountains nearby and all that jazz.

Happy trails.

Nov 23, 2007

Retail Flagellation

Bichromatic Sitting in the coffee shop in Border's bookshop in Chermside with Nicole today - my day off - I found myself experiencing a perverse enjoyment at my situation.

From the endless, desperate tour of the huge subterranean car park trying to find a space to negotiating the sagging crowds of flabby exposed flesh and faintly bored or miserable pram-pushers in the hermetically sealed other-world of plasma posters and perfect images to the endless racks of "ladies' wear" and XXL cargo shorts to the vague half-hearted struggle to remembering what we were actually there for, it was a deeply, subliminally, soul-destroying experience.

We saw a sign offering nice, guided walks around the safe and comfortable environment of the shopping centre, would you believe, just to get some exercise, for a mere three dollars.

We saw a "gentleman of size" roll up to a counter in the bookshop on his motorised chair/buggy/bike thing, ask what exactly a 3 for 2 offer was, before hopping off, walking merrily to the coffee shop counter before gaily returning to his buggy to extol the delicious virtues of the obviously wonderful milk-shake he was half-mouthedly draining, bright and lurid pink in its plastic straw.

I saw some mothers pushing a pram around Target comparing offers for a few cents off some irrelevant nothing and then getting a Coke from the vending machine outside.

So I suppose I was feeling pretty damned self-righteous to be such a well-adjusted morally correct bastion of non-class and balancing that with a small measure of catholic guilt at the contempt in which I held my fellow human being and the fact that, as opposed to them, the majority of my time is not spent in adding value to anything in any way that can be measured in pounds shillings or pence, an activity which these people seemed to indulge for the sole purpose of being able to exist in that very space precisely in order to perform the exact reverse.

Nov 22, 2007

Little imaginations

What with all the visits we have been having recently we are slowly introducing the concept of connections between people. It is quite a lot for a little brain to cope with me being a mum as well as daughter and a sister all at the same time. When we visited Catherine yesterday I mentioned that her daughter would be there. Eloise couldn't get her head around the fact that Sophia was called Sophia and not Daughter. Oftern if you tell Eloise she is a good girl. She'll tell you quite assertiviely that she is Eloise.

She keeps nattering on about her sister being poorly or sick. Then this evening and yesterday she pointed to my tummy and said I have a baby in there. Apparantly it is going to be a girl as Eloise says she wants a sister. Let us see how far that rumour can go...

Nov 20, 2007

Little Miss Grown-Up

One of the girls from work offered us some household and children's clothes as she has recently moved and needs to have a good clear out. We went around there this morning and filled the car up. Catherine's daughter, Sophia, was off from school so they played together. Eloise has been introduced to Play Station and wall-to-wall pink bedrooms - we are doomed.

After Eloise's afternoon nap we sorted through the clothes and were putting them away as they are too big for her at present. Eloise decided she wanted to wear a size 4 skirt which kept hanging around below her pre-pubescent hips. WhenI tried to take it off her she had a tantrum of mammoth proportions. This was one battle I wasn't prepared to engage in and so she spent the rest of the afternoon hitching it up over her hips.

Week Ending

Mount Coonowrin Mum went into town on her lonesome on Saturday and we went to Nudgee Beach. Due to a miscalculation the tide was in and the flies were out and it wasn't all that pleasant.

We didn't do much in the afternoon. Nicole and Eloise went to a garden centre and bought some seeds. When mum got back we planted up the bed out back with vegetables and stuff. We'll see how they do on dishwater.

On Sunday Mum, Eloise and I went to Northey Street market to mingle with the hippies. It was quite hot and we sent a while drinking coffee, perusing the organic sellers and being performed to by young and brave violin and cello players who were clearly related, and clearly had a lot to learn. Eloise enjoyed them, although I had to conceal my face to hide the twisted expressions the discordant renditions of twinkle twinkle and ode to joy involutarily introduced on my face.

We chilled out in the afternoon, falling asleep on the sofa (well I did) and going shopping, before indulging in a feast of mexican fajitas.

The next day we were pretty adventurous and walked the dogs at Samford Forest. Eloise managed to catch a little lizard which was forced to relieve itself of its tail in order to escape.

Then to the Glass House Mountains where we gorged ourselves on veggie wraps and double chocolate brownies and lashings of coffee at a lovely, and very cheap, café before zanily engaging on a 6km bush hike around the unpronounceable peaks of Tibrogargan and Tiberroowuccum.

Eloise was in no way shape or form helpful in this hike and was consequently carried (thank god i brought the rucksack) around most of the hike, which was more like a yomp for me.

But the weather was lovely and the scenery pretty spectacular. And we didn't get lost, which is always a good thing,

This morning Mum headed off for Cairns for a few days up there. I'm jealous.

Tamborine Mountain

Curtis Falls On Friday we dropped Eloise off at Nursery then headed off to Tamborine Mountain, where we visited Curtis Falls, then headed into town for some lunch.

Town was a twee mock-Alpine architectural schmaltz but lunch was OK.

After lunch we went on a walk down into a rainforest valley where large black lizards proliferated lazily by the side of the path. I'm sure we saw one of whatever they were with the geckoes at the Kids' Day Out a few weeks ago, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were called.

I had an emotionally complicated day compounded by a poor night's sleep. In other words I was in a bad mood. It probably ruined it for everybody. Such, occasionally, is life.

Nov 17, 2007

Rainforest Day

Hiding In a subtly re-jigged repeat of a previous rainforest day, we drove up to Mount Glorious via a rather unfortunately circuitous route owing to needing to drop something off for Nicole at work.

In need of sustenance, we went to the café first and the three of us had the deck to ourselves with Moreton Bay beneath us, at our feet, until something bleeding loud mouthed posh English types showed up and started jawing about nothing whatsoever of interest.

Every time one of them went to the toilet Eloise would suddenly develop a suspicious urge to poo which would mysteriously evaporate when I took her to the men's to perform (the English being of the feminine variety).

We had a nice time in the rainforest at Maiala though, with Mum poking around in logs to see what venomous animals she could antagonise and Eloise looking on agog at all the creepie-crawlies.

Hiding in the nooks and crannies of the massive rainforest trees was a winner too though Squeaky really needs to get her head round the whole concept thing of hiding finding and the nature of surprise.

In another of those I'll-never-forgive-you-for-writing-about-this moments, she dropped an enormous Derek in the middle of the path (having taken her tights off). I'm getting pretty damn good at reading those signs.

Rage Against the (Washing) Machine

Rage Against the Machine Did I mention that the other day, the washing machine turned out a suspiciously dirty load of washing?

Or that, on further investigation, it seemed that the washing may also have been suspiciously dry, on account of the fact that the washing machine isn't working?

Or that it seemed that the door catch no longer engaged with the lock, and consequently the machine wouldn't start?

Or that, when jiggled about, it would, and it washed, but then wouldn't open?

A repairman has been called.

Nov 14, 2007

New Farm Park

Poinsiana Tree in New Farm Park Mum and I escorted Eloise to music on Tuesday morning, and to some extent participated in the chaos. We were on a make-up class and it was pretty crowded, but Eloise got on well for a while before becoming very tired (perhaps not having had a nap for the past two days didn't help).

We then went to the library to top up on reading material and then home for lunch and Eloise slept for an hour and a half or so while I walked the dogs down at the brook.

In the afternoon we camped outside Nicole's work waiting for her to finish then doorstepped her and went down to South Bank again to catch a CityCat up the river to New Farm, taking advantage of the fact that it had actually stopped raining and the sun was shining.

New Farm Park was pretty colourful with the Poinsiana trees in full bloom. The keep-fitters were out in force stretching each others' hamstrings and climbing up and down onto benches, like you do.

We stopped off at the New Farm playground where Eloise made friends with a couple of little boys with whom she played on the climbing frames amongst the fig trees, then off for some coffee (just for a change) or wine (for some) and back on the CityCat to South Bank beneath the twilit city and home by, oh half eight or so, with a pizza.

Milling Around

The Essentials of Capitalism The weather has continued onerous, so we have had to chance our arms a little.

On Sunday we went up to Bribie Island and walked up Red Beach (the quality of sand being a little more to Mother's taste than Nudgee), stopping for a sandwich and one-sided stick games with the dogs.

Sure enough before long the grey skies began to gather across the water and we made it back to the car just as the rain started.

So we stopped off at a nice coffee shop on the Island and indluged ourselves before heading home.

The drive back was not quite what was expected though as the turning onto the Bruce Highway was congested so a snap decision was made to drive home through Caboolture along the D'Aguilar Highway to Woodford then over Mount Mee and back via Dayboro.

The rain clouds hung just over the roof of the car as we crested the mountains. Mum fell asleep.

On Monday Nicole was at work so the rest of us went into the city after lunch. We parked at South Bank and headed across the river to Queen Street where we attempted to get Mum on a flight to Tamworth to see Marissa.

Unfortunately there aren't any flights to Tamworth from Brisbane, what with Tamworth being a little place in New South Wales and all. So we retired to a coffee shop to drown Mum's sorrows.

Then across the city to Eagle Street and a walk down the river and through the Botanic Gardens, then back across the peestrian bridge and through South Bank, by the end of which Mum was quite disorientated and we were all pretty knackered.

We stopped off at a playground in the botanical gardens where Eloise and Mum had a thrilling game of shops with leaves used as currency. I attempted to explain that this choice of reserve might result in hyperinflation, taking a leaf out of Douglas Adams' book (no pun intended), but I think it fell on deaf ears.

Nov 10, 2007

Shops, Beach

On the Beach Well it's Saturday and the weather's looking nice (ish) so it would be rude not to go to Nudgee Beach.

The tides were wrong for the morning so I borrowed the lawnmower from Peter next door and Mum did some housework.

We fixed the clothes drier outside, which had inexplicably fallen apart, using traditional materials with a new twist, to wit nylon rope. At the corners are (were) plastic formers which had sheared. No amount of imagination on my part could understand why this would have happened, although plastic does tend to be weakened by exposure to sunlight.

Anyway, we thought we'd go to Chermside to go shopping and expose the Old Dear to the Mall experience, only realising when we arrived that it was Saturday and this was actually a really bad idea... impossible to park, God knows what it must have been like inside... but we aborted and went shopping in good old Woollie's instead and adjourned home for Baked Beans.

Now she was up at six o'clock this morning and the other ladies didn't sleep so well so we were hoping for a chance for a middle of the day nap before going to the beach to catch the tide, but nothing doing.

After a power nap (probably) of ten minutes she was up again, jumping around and shouting so we sighed and got up and down the beach we went.

Windy it was and fully clad we walked far and wide until Eloise fell over and soaked herself to the skin. She was carried back nice and snug in her Mum's top.

Then a coffee and a chino and home again.

Teamwork ruled OK, or something approaching teamwork as I cooked coconut and egg curry and Mum cooked accompanying sag aloo and raita.

We are now feeling fat. But still looking trim....

Mumsy Wumsy

Brisbane Mum's arrival was imminent so needless to say it had started to rain.

We went and picked her up from the airport on Thursday morning, and were there in time, for a change.

When she came through the gates, I pointed her out to Eloise and the squeaky one toddled to say hello.

We went home and had a cup of coffee, then went and walked the dogs down at the brook. When Nicole woke up I went shopping and we had haloumi and spiced leeks for tea. Yum.

On Friday Mum and I dropped Her Worship off at nursery then went and did the Simpson's Trickle Circuit. And the rain had stopped, though there was a bit of an overcast. The old dear was a bit flushed by the end of the walk, complaining (probably too strong a word) that it was a lot more hilly than she's used to and besides she doesn't do much walking since we deserted her.

So we went up to the top of the mountain and had a cup of coffee at the top. Grey skies hung threateningly over the city in the distance but gradually dispersed to reveal the blue we habtually expect.

In the afternoon we were treated to lunch so we went to Citron, one of these modern contemporary Asian affairs. Which was nice.

We had a couple of hours to kill and Nicole had the bright idea of going to Ascot to check out the fashionably cliquey haute-couture up-yourself shopping experience of the racehorse set on Racecourse Road.

It was a dissapointment really, though there were some pretty nice Poinsiana (I've been prompted) trees.

So with a little more time to go we went to the Premier Shopping Cum Cruise Liner Experience at Hamilton, where an enormous cruise liner was docked. We toddled. I bought some milk. Nicole tried on a dress. It didn't fit. Thank God.

Nov 5, 2007

Big Kids' Day Out

Drummer We'd seen the Big Kids' Day Out advertised around the place so I decided to take Eloise along.

It was held at the Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, and promised rainforest trails, face-painting, kite-making and other such activities which I thought would probably be a little painful for me but fun for Eloise.

When we got there it was immediately apparent from the overspilled overspill car park that it had been popular. We parked up on the verge of a road and made tracks for the gardens.

They've just opened some sort of rainforest walky thing so we got a guided tour of that, which Eloise enjoyed. She followed the other kids and the guide around looking at water dragons and tarzan trees and all those sorts of things, which took up a good hour.

Then we went and had a look at some geckoes and snakes and mice and went to get an ice cream, had a look at some bats and watched a brass band setting up.

Pretty soon an Irish marching band made itself heard with rolling drums and bagpipes and they played quite a few songs and were actually really good.

Eloise enjoyed them too and started bopping around. I don't know if it's genetics or what but she seemed to think she was at a Caelidh and took an Indian girl by the hands and started twirling around with her.

After the band had finished there was a fancy dress competition and a lets-make-animal-noises competition compered by a ridiculous clown which Eloise insisted on climbing up on stage for. "Make a noise" he said. She looked at him, turned around, and walked away. What was she thinking.

Anyway after a while the brass band started up and with the opening number as Copa Cabana, craply played, I knew our time had come.

The complicating factor in the next part of the day was I got a phone call from a woman we met down the beach a few weeks ago inviting us to a birthday party and I'd said that I'd try to make it.

But Eloise was falling asleep in the car, it was two thirty, the party started at three, what to do?

By the time we got home she was zonked out so I gently got her out of the car and into bed, and I was knacked too so I thought I'd have a lie down.

But she woke up again five minutes later, apparently fully refreshed, so after a bit of food and some farting around we made it down to the beach for about four thirty.

Where much chocolate and sweeties were consumed and a pinada unveiled which the kids took turns at bashing until it broke spilling more sweeties, which were consumed. On top of the Coot-tha ice creams.

Sugar High was achieved around six o'clock.

Nov 4, 2007

More Wobblies Than You Can Shake a Schtick At

Good Enough To Eat Under my belt, in my back pocket, and unbeknownst to Eloise, I knew perfectly well we'd see wobblies - damn, wallabies! - one way or another because at the car park there was an enclosed area where I'd seen a couple were grazing. Eloise hadn't seen them what with her eyeline being quite low in the car and I'd parked around the corner in a rare fit of vicious underhand suspense-building incentivisation.

So when we got back to the car we were treated to a fifteen-minute view of these wallabies munching away placidly and quite tamely before I realised what time it was and had to leg it before they shut the gates at 5 o'clock.

We drove back home to the basstastic Massive Attack which I used to drown out the "What are you doing Neils" and eventually she just started to hum along.

Nov 3, 2007

Afternoon Wobbly Stroll

Tingalpa Creek Nicole was feeling a bit poo yesterday. We went for a walk in the morning at Bunyaville Forest and she forgot her hat, and it was pretty hot so we reckoned it was a sort of low-grade sunstroke thingy.

Though in the afternoon we went to the flicks and saw Death at a Funeral which had us both in fits of laughter so it might have been a strain on the mastoids I suppose.

Whatever, she got a headache in the evening and retired to bed early and still felt a bit wobbly this morning.

Off she went to work anyway in the afternoon and after a bit of footling around I persuaded Eloise it was time for a nap and settled down with a book in the hammock.

My ear pricked up slightly after ten minutes or so when I thought I heard her dulcet tones but then I decided it was a power tool or something and went back to reading.

Only for my ear once more to subconsciously scan and alert me to a plaintive, no make that a demanding "NEIL!" being stridently projected at full volume.

I'd left her window open - hot day again - and listened outside for a little while to hear her singing some unrecognisable ditty, so I stretched up and pulled aside the curtain ever so subtly and poked my nose over her windowsill to see her sat in her little bed, singing away into her second-hand karaoke machine. She looked up, saw me and, raising an eyebrow said "Hello."

Recognising that she wouldn't be falling asleep I thought why don't we do something nice and consulted the National Parks book for a suitable destination.

The entry for the Venman Bushland National Park had a picture of a wallaby on which, I thought, could hardly fail to be a winner.

"Let's go and see some wallabies" I said. "You'd like that wouldn't you."

"Wobblies!" she said, and that was that.

So off we set and, of course, she fell asleep in the car. Good job really because I took a wrong turn and we went around the houses a bit.

But we got there heventualleee and embarked on a little stroll which took us down by a tree-lined creek which offered shade and lovely reflections on the still water.

The forests south of Bris where this was (not a million miles from Have-a-Grope Forest) are a bit different from up North, with paperbarks much more prevalent. They're a bit more Bushy, if you catch my drift.

Eloise was merrily toddling along but got a bit tired after a while so elected to be cuddled (her euphemism for carried). "Where are the Wobblies" she asked, then insisted, then demanded. "I want Wobblies."

"WOBBLY!!!" she hooted as we broke into a clearing and indeed there were two, now hopping into the forest at breakneck speed.

The walking songs for the day were "Shoo Fly" and "This Old Man." She hasn't quite mastered the Nick Nack Paddy Whack line yet, but we're working on it.

Later, after getting a little lost, we saw another wallaby. She and It didn't cotton on for a bit, so I whispered "Look over there...." and she followed my pointed finger. If I'd had a free hand I would have stuck my other finger in my ear.


Nov 2, 2007


hi rise windows Nothwithstanding the four years sponsorship we've been granted we still have our permanent residency application in.

Rather than go through another set of medicals for this, we're using the medicals we had done a little while ago in support of this application, but I had to top mine up with a blood test.

So off I marched yesterday, having filled in another Form 26 (did I get the year right for my visit to hospital with tummy trouble of which my lasting memory is being gently explored in the rectal area?) down into twon on the bus to have a lady stick a needle in my arm and fill a bottle with blood do see if they could find any HIV.

Then I met up with the ladies to drink coffee.

Nov 1, 2007

The Ever Onward March of Time

Pent Up Energy Tiny is getting on a bit.

A few weeks ago - I don't remember if I mentioned it - she developed a swelling in a joint on one of her front legs. The doggy equivalent of a knee I suppose. A little embarrassingly it was actually spotted by a fellow dog-walker down at the creek who had some experience with greyhounds, and she said it was probably arthiritis.

And the vet, when I had my panic trip with suspected paralysis tickitis, which he thought was epilepsy, said she felt a little arthritic. In fact I'm leaning towards the theory that that particular episode was her just getting up too quickly.

On walks she can still get together a fair clip of speed for a while, if she has something to chase like a heron or me on a bike, but invariably it doesn't last very long and she's exhausted afterwards.

Sad really, but she is clocking on a bit... when we're asked how old she is we reckon eleven or twelve which in man-years is getting well into zimmer territory so she isn't doing too badly really.

When we go out now we're leaving the dogs outside at the mercy of the elements, not that they're very unkind. This is preparation for crossing the rubicon of leaving them behind in the care of neighbours should we decide to go away. To Sydney for instance. For the second weekend in December. For instance.