Mar 30, 2008

A slim Slimm reunion

Eloise and I landed in a very cold Melbourne on Thursday night. Luckily I had packed jumpers for the air-conditioned plane. Josie (my cousin), John & Ros (my aunt & uncle) met us from the airport. John & Ros are out visiting Josie and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss not to get together. Josie's young man, Adam, had to work the next day so sensibly put earplugs in so he wouldn't hear us crashing around constructing the pod and nattering into the small hours. Josie and I did some hard core catching up that evening and went off to bed about 4am. Luckily, Eloise slept until about 10am.

After breakfast we caught the tram from Kew East into the cultural centre called the Southbank. By the time we got there Eloise was flagging and we were all starving. Luckily, Adam's parents are grandparents and are equipped with spare car seats and buggies. We found a lovely restaurant and had a massive lunch. As Eloise was so tired we thought a river cruise would be a good way to have a slow afternoon. The cruise was about a large boat which was arranged with normal chairs in rows. There was a certain aroma in the vessel that no one could quite put their finger upon. Then the tourist commentary began... the captain said he was experimenting with a recorded version. Basically it was a recored version of the day before complete with coughs and engine noises. It was incredibly tacky and I was crying at one point. After persevering for 10 minutes he returned to his own voice. Then my memory bank of smells recognised the odour. It was the smell of a pub or nightclub the morning after. That is why they were normal chairs as the boat was sightseeing at its finest by day and partying by night with very little cleaning in between the two.

Finally after, and I don't think I am exaggerating, three years I finally met Adam. Eloise went strsight up to him and introduced him to Josie telling him it was her house and her bedroom. Later on that evening in the bath she was washing her face to make herself look pretty, then her arms and her legs. Then she said she needed to wash her hair to look pretty for Adam! By the next day she was calling him Madam or more accurately M'Adam.

On Saturday we went to visit Adam's parents for a family barbeque. Adam's sister, Megan, has a son called Harrison who is 4 years and and a daughter called Charlotte who is 2. Eloise had a wonderful day. I thought Eloise would love all the meat on the barbeque but just ate bread with half a tub of butter for lunch much to everyone's amusement.

This morning we had a massive cooked breakfast and then toddled off to the airport in good time. It was lovely to take my big jumper off when we landed and feel the Brisbane sunshine again.

Mar 29, 2008

The Pyramids

Girraween National Park We loitered in this plateau for a while then continued to the summit where we could see for miles in every direction.

The only drawback to an otherwise reasonably awe-inspiring panorama of mountainous ruggedness littered with giant rocks was that the sun still hadn't come out though the overcast was lifting somewhat and there were distinguishable clouds in the sky.

After a while hunger set in and we decided to cruise down the mountain for my pre-prepared stir-fry surprise (it was a surprise to Val anyway who hadn't had it before). Of course, cruising meant climbing down very carfeully, with very small steps and holding on to any rocky outcrop that might present itself.

Girraween National Park

Balancing Rock A bit of a rude awakening yesterday, and by rude I mean obscene. And by obscene I mean 0520 hours Brisbane Time.

It's alright for Valerie, she's a gardener at Nicole's hospital and she gets up at this time every morning, but for me it means several hours of wandering around in a fog of confusion.

Still given a purpose anything is possible and when the alarm clock went off, after ten subjective seconds of considering just another few minutes of blissful sleep, I jumped out of bed, fed the dogs, had a shower, packed by bags and wondered what I'd forgotten.

I opened the door at around 6 am to find Val parked outside patiently waiting. And then we were off.

We shared the driving on the way there and I had the pleasure of driving an automatic transmission Mazda 4WD with cruise control. Which was very relaxing.

And with no map, only one piece of emergency re-navigation was required, a wrong turn in Warwick.

It was raining unfortunately and the skies were grey but as we drove past Mount Barney its lower slopes were shrouded in clinging mist which was an enthralling sight, and the winding road up to Cunningham's Gap showed us a vista of low cloud trickling over the rocky wall of the Main Range.

We made it to Girraween at around 9.30am and, watched by a wallaby and her joey, limped out of the car with my buttocks as numb as root canal work, and proceeded to have coffee and cake.

The cake attracted the local wildlife before long, and a naughty somebody might have fed a very bold Satin Bowerbird, an amazing creature with plumage of the darkest velvet and eyes that were actually purple.

After eating and drinking and those sorts of activities, we embarked on a walk which took us through a landscape of forests punctuated by otherworldly blocks and boulders of unbelievable size balanced precariously on the ground and one another.

Our stroll took us up to a Granite Arch made of a huge boulder balancing on two other huge boulders, quite a daunting sight, with a sign right next to it - specifically placed to ruin photographs, I'm sure - telling us how amazing it was to see a huge boulder balancing on two other huge boulders.

Apparently, according to the sign, lichens eat the felspar in the granite and then it weathers away. So now you know.

The path we then took led up an increasingly steep rock staircase, which we laboured up with our packs full of stuff resting every ten minutes.... or was it every ten steps....

Just as we thought it couldn't get an steeper, it didn't, flattening out for a while until we reached the tree line only to be confronted with the rocky promontary of the hill, a very steep face of very steep granite which had to be scrambled up.

A path, consisting of the odd white painted mark, led us up through a gully and then the hill got really steep and after several hundred metres of climbing we broached a plateau and a view of the Balancing Rock and the Second Pyramid, a huge (really huge, several hundred metres tall) hill of granite.

Mar 27, 2008

Sparks Don't Fly, But the Girls Do

Shedding Bark We're being re-wired after our little electrical problem of a few weeks ago. Mick was in yesterday and is in today and will be in tomorrow.

He was supposed to come in last week but didn't turn up, as his car broke down - but he's here now and in full flow.

He is leaving nice plugs around the place. It's just a pity that they don't work at this point in time.... the fridge is on an extension lead, the telephone is on an extension lead, the telly's too far away from a plug to go at all.

Still he thinks he knows what the problem is and he'll sort it out tomorrow... fingers crossed!

I am own my own for the next few days, except for the dogs. I dropped Nicole and Eloise off at the airport as they are flying (hence the title of this post, geddit?) to Melbourne for the weekend to see Nicole's cousin Josie and her Uncle John and Auntie Ros, who are visiting Josie at the moment.

What with trips to Josie's (I cheekily assume) parents-in-law-to-probably-perhaps-be, I expect it will be fun-packed.

I am missing them already, sad but true.

Anyway I have a certain amount of ambitious recreation planned. Tomorrow Valerie across the road and I are going to Girraween National Park in her 4x4 and going to see some wicked Granite Boulders balanced on top of each other by the prestidigitatious hand of Mother Nature herself.

And that's it... other than that no plans except for snapping more photos for my assignment (the slides came out quite well, thanks very much for asking; one of them looks a little bit like the picture above).

Mar 25, 2008


Low Tide The first assignment on the course (the Colour part that is) is called "Close Up" and we have to shoot pictures from within a metre on a 50mm focal length, with the pictures demonstrating shape, texture, pattern or colour.

So I'm toddling around with two cameras looking like a right geek at the moment.

I've shot two rolls of colour transparency film and just dropped them in this morning to get processed. Tomorow I'll pick them up and at college we'll learn how to mount the transparencies in slide holders.

Assuming that is that they are any good... it's quite different doing film to digital for abvious reasons, and I'm trying to use the Ansel Adams zoning system to get correct exposures, which takes a little bit of guesswork at the moment.

Still tomorrow we'll see how awful they are, or aren't.

Scary Bear

Scary Bear On Sunday we went on a long walk around Bunyaville forest to let the dogs stretch their legs.

Previously we'd spotted the Bunya off-leash area, which looked overgrown and fairly interesting from a nosing around in the undergrowrth point of view, but when we went back there on Sunday the overgrowth had been cut back to reveal the actual enclosure in all its non-glory. Basically if was just like the off-leash areas around here are in Brisbane, i.e. crap.

So we went around the corner to the proper forest, me taking the last photos for my homework, and losing my lens cap as I found out later.

It's steep going with a windy path going down into the valley then up the other side and round, probably two and a half of three miles in length, and bless her, Eloise made it a good portion of the way round on her own steam. She had to be carried round the rest of the way in turns by Nicole and me though.

And, later on, having discovered the loss of the lens cap, I decided to do the walk again on Monday, with my eyes on the ground.

We had to sit down a few times for Eloise to rest, and she was in a playful mood, particularly fond of the Scary Bear game where she tries to look scary then inscrutably wants to be chased.

So we had fun toddling round there for a couple of hours.

No lens cap was found though.


Equinox ...moments later a large, yellow full moon inched its way above the trees and the sea.

Mar 22, 2008

Full Moon

Elementals Nicole suggested that we go out to see the Full Moon tonight what with it being the equinox and easter and all that, so after umming and ahhing about where to go that had a barbie we realised we only really had one option anyway if we wanted to take the dogs.

So we wibbled up to Nudgee Beach and sat and played in the recreation area, walked on the beach, messed abut in the playground and ate barbecued food while the sun went down and moments later a large, yellow full moon inched its way above the trees and the sea.

Mar 21, 2008

Festival of Sails

Watching the Water We saw the Festival of Sails advertised in the paper. At Easter they run a sailing race from Brisbane to Gladstone, further up the Queensland Coast. The boats depart from Shorncliffe and at Redcliffe, a little further North but still on Moreton Bay, they sail round the headland on a beam (that's a sailing term, not a new method of propulsion) past Sutton's Beach where they hold a festival to cash in on, erm, celebrate the event.

So we decided to go up there and have a look. The weather was bright and sunny and actually pretty hot considering it's now Autumn and the past few days have been ropy to say the most.

We were on the road to Redcliffe when the radio announced to us that the starter pistol - or horn, more likely - had gone off and the ships were underway.

Predictably enough, parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a little spot on a secluded side street not too far from the waterfront and walked at the snail-like pace of the eternally interested towards the beach, where we embarked upon an epic toddle up the boardwalk.

Pretty soon the first sails became apparent, gliding along about half a mile offshore, and as time passed a legion of boats sailed past. And that was that.

It took us about on hour to get up the boardwalk to the heart of the action where there was an arts-and-crafts market of reasonably epic proportions. We stopped off at a playground for a while and generally browsed around before we started to get tired (partly from the sun) and hungry and had to go in search of ice cream.

We procured phenominally expensive ice cream from a chip shop so it seemed rude not to wash it down with chips, so we did.

Then, increasingly irritatedly, we attempted to coax, cajole and finally bully Eloise to get her skinny white ass back to the car so we could go home and fall asleep.

Which Nicole did, blown away as she was by her red shoulders and neck, having caught the sun a bit too much.

However the sensibly-behatted amongst us soon recovered our joie de vivre and took the dogs out walking to the brook as the afternoon sun cooled and gave way to evening.

Mar 18, 2008

In the Fern House

Chair Located rather bizarrely in the Fern House at the Botanical Gardens beneath Mount Coot-tha, where we were wandering on Saturday, is a strange chair that for some reason I have the impression was made for the World Expo which was in Brisbane in 1988.

It has a corner all to itself, strangely with no ferns within spitting distance. Probably a precaution against unwitting - or witting - damage by feral children.

Mar 16, 2008

Photo Trip

Waterfall in Japanese Gardens On Saturday we were up bright and early for a photo trip with my old Creative Photography people, with an 8am start at the Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens.

So we got up to the cafe at the top of the mountain for 7am and had coffee and chinos there to wake up a bit. Eloise has made friends with one of the waitresses (though I think they like to be called hospitality workers these days) and we're all on first name terms now. Well we are regulars I suppose.

Anyway we spent a good three and a half hours wandering around the Japanese Gardens, the Tropical Dome and the bit with the succulent thingummybobs with only a medium-sized break for coffee.

The high point of the trip, parentally, other than the exemplary behaviour exhibited by hers truly, was the moment in which she said "Daddy I need a poo," then held on whilst transported to the nearby toilet, let go at the opportune moment then uttered the immortal line "It's a monster."

Anyone (who knows) will tell you that when we first recruited Tiny all the conversation was about poo consistency. Well nothing changes.

Although a little consistency would be good.


High Rise On Friday, after a no-doubt spiffing ballet lesson during which Nicole chatted to the Mums about things that Mums chat about and I sat outside reading the tail end of the Tom Clancy book (and yes, yet again after 600 pages of very gradual buildup, there was 20 pages where all the action happened and the Americans won on every conceivable front) we went to the ballet dress shop to pick up the purple dress. I'm sure it will become the infamous purple dress.

It had to be made special order because Eloise is such a dot, but it seems to fit OK and I'm sure it will be a favourite, though under no circumstances will it be worn outside of a half-hour window before and after commencement of the class.

Speaking of shoes, which I wasn't, but am now, it appears that some growing has been done and the Havaiana baby thongs (translation: flip-flops) have been outgrown. They fitted earlier in the week, but apparently now were too small and needed to be replaced. So we went off to Paddington in the afternoon to get some new ones.

"These ones" she said.
"You're sure?" we asked.
"Yes" she said.
"Definitely" we asked
"These ones. The blue ones"

Cue sounds of financial transactions completing.

Observe sign "Choose carefully. Refunds are not made for bad choices."

"I don't like them. I want the purple ones."

In the evening on a whim we went and had a barbie down by the river as the sun set. Eloise made friends with some people and robbed them of their chicken kebabs.

Mar 13, 2008

Dilly Dallying

Ripples The general dilly-dallying went on as she waded around looking at the fishes and tadpoles. Luckily we'd put some swimming togs on, because she soon fell in and was sloshing about merrily while the dogs went about their business.

We got back after further procrastination on her part and gnashing of teeth, and yes, I admit, swearing on my part at around twenty past ten.

Of course then I remembered that the car needed petrol and we needed to stop off at a cashpoint on the way so we could pay for swimming, so the heat was on really, but in the event we were only a couple of minutes late.

"I like the penguin on your white tee-shirt" Eloise said to Anne the receptionist on the way in.

"Well I like your necklace" said Anne.

"Thank you" said Eloise.

But that's about as far as polite gentility went as Eloise stared at the bloke getting dressed at the same time we changed and asked me all sorts of impertinent questions about him.

And when we got into the pool, all vestiges of compliance went out of the window.

"One of those days" said the rolling eyes of me and the Mums.

Afterwards we went up to Mount Coot-tha where I bought her a huge milk shake. We then found a nice lady who is a Wildlife Carer and had in her baggage, would you believe, an Eastern Grey Kangaroo Joey and a Wallaby Joey.

There's a Biker About

Watch Your Step Today I made the cardinal error of walking the dogs with Eloise on her bike... on a timescale.

I thought it would be nice for her to get on her bike and ride it to the brook, and she seemed ever so keen, but it all started to go horribly wrong almost as soon as we'd left the front gate.

At that point she decided she didn't want to ride her bike, she wanted to push it, so we inched our way up the road, stopping at almost every point of even the most marginal interest to marvel, with the dogs pulling me in two different directions at the same time.

When we - finally - did get to the brook, a digger was sat there. We've been keeping an eye on the digger, which is clearing the brook of general detritus, for a couple of weeks. So when we saw the driver there cleaning his lovely machine she/we just had to go and have a chat and let him know abut our cuts and grazes and what colour pants we were wearing and look at our bike that we got for our birthday!! and yes, we were seven!

So what with having to be at the swimming pool by eleven we had to be home by ten-fifteen at the latest and it was now nine-thirty (an hour had passed!) when Eloise decided it was actually time to get on the bike, at which point one of the stabilisers worked its way loose and she fell off.

So it took a little while longer to get to the bridge and begin our paddling. And, of course, she fell in....

Mar 12, 2008

New role

I had my first day with the research nurses today. It wasn't quite what I was expecting but I enjoyed it anyhow. I thought I had applied for annual leave cover but it seems that these next four weeks are a trial to see how I get along and if all is well then it will become a permanent fixture to my week.

The morning was spent getting my computer access upgraded and running through my role. It sounds as if I am going to be collating data for the Australian Bone Marrow Registry. Every tranplant recipient has a unique number allocated to them and information about their disease, transplant and any complications from treatment is collected and sent to the national register. It is a case of manually going through medical notes and computer records to find pertinent information.

It is not something you could do everyday but I think I will be learning alot about the classification of diseases, their treatments and outcomes. I think it will definitely enhance my nursing documentation as I will understand kind of information people are interested in. I had no idea that people outside of the ward periphery relied on what is written in the notes.

Okay, you can all wake up now I have finished being a nursing geek!

Mar 9, 2008

A Bit Windy at the Beach

Contours We were just getting ready to go for a bike ride, thinking that Nicole was well and truly out for the count, when she woke up.

So Woozy Wife, Excitable Eloise, and Indomitable I went to the beach instead.

It was windy there and the tide was out, so we refused Eloise's instructions to bring out the boogieboard, as it tends to catch the wind and flap around irritatingly.

And once we'd moved out of the lee of the mangrove trees it got really quite gusty.

The dogs ran around and had a good time and Eloise splashed about until, true to form she got cold and had to be carried back to the car wrapped up in a hippopotamus towel.


Faint Irritation Nicole was on nights last night so went to bed in the afternoon to get herself slept up.

Her hayfever is bad at the moment, and she took some drugs to alleviate the symptoms, but they made her quite drowsy so her sleep was considerable.

Meanwhile I put Eloise to bed in the hope of knuckling down myself to get an assignment done, but nothing doing - she wasn't sleepy and after half an hour the plaintive shouts of "I'm ready to come out now, Daddy" and "Let me, out, NOW" began, and I relented.

So while Nicole gently slumbered we painted, drew, played with Playdoh and so on and so forth.

You'll no doubt be interested to know, and to be honest I can't remember if I've told you already, that Eloise has discovered the word "Why."

As in:

Me: Bedtime
Eloise: Why?
Me: Because if's time to go to sleep
E: Why?
Me: Because sleeping is good
E: Why?
Me: Because it keeps you happy and growing, and me sane
E: Why?
Me: It's not clearly understood, but it's thought that sleep, as well as allowing batteries to recharge, helps the brain to collate information
E: Why?
Me: Well it's good to recharge batteries so we don't get into a bad mood later on
E: Why?
Me: Because bad moods are bad
E: Why?
Me: Because they mean shouting and general unpleasantness
E: Why?
Me: It's just part of the human condition
E: Why?
Me: It's just one of those things
E: Why?

Of course it works both ways, but the other way round is significantly shorter:
E: You have to do it this way
Me: Why?
E: Because you're naughty.
Me: Oh.

Maybe I should try harder and see how she likes it.

Mar 8, 2008


Possum Across the road, in Val's front garden, in an elkhorn (or is it a staghorn) epiphyte living on a tree, a little possum has its nest.

Yesterday we went to have a look because Val said that it had relocated to a new epiphyte, a couple of feet down, to have a baby.

So we went and hide a look, waking up the nocturnal little beastie who looked at us in the vaguely befuddled way we're all so familiar with.

What big eyes she has.

Mar 6, 2008

Home alone

There was quite a lot of hype associated with my first day off in 18 months. I had no exciting plans and wasn't really too sure what I was going to get up to. I dropped Eloise off at nursery and took the dogs for a walk around Mount Coot-tha, chosen as I was 100% certain of the route and 0% chance of getting lost. The dogs were milding excited by a bush turkey but stayed in sight for the entire walk.

I returned home and cooked some lunch as I was starving. It was too strange sitting up to the table alone so I took my plate and ate in front of the telly. I tidied Eloise's clothes and boxed up the ones that are too small to be sent to Esmee. I made a dental appointment for Eloise and me. Did some gardening in between rain showers. Did some studying. I shyed away from looking around the shops as this ran the risk of expenditure. There was nothing on at the cinema that I fancied.

It was all very mundane but enjoyable. I was in bed before 9pm as I was exhausted.


Dusk Skyline Well day two of college is done with, another classroom day, this time on colour photography, where we learned about different camera types (and you wouldn't know what a technical view camera is now would you) and films and all that sort of jazz.

Nicole had the car again (day off) so I was able to ride unencumbered except by my rucksack of equipment, none of which I used. Door to door it was 25 minutes and I went the bike track way this time rather than the footpath way, which was a bit longer but a bit smoother on the old rear end. There are some killer hills though, and my legs were like lead by the end and I was glowing, I mean dripping with sweat, but that was the sun and heat of anything (actually to be honest it was the exertion).

I've now got two assignments to do, and notes to type up and keep in order (we're assessed on them). I am trying not to procrastinate and have typed up some history of photography stuff.

At lunch time I went for a walk around the city for a while trying to raise Nicole on the mobile but she was too busy having what she calls fun to answer, so I blended into the crowd and pretended to be a metrosexual, only to discover that you have to be well-dressed and have "product" in your hair, two criteria on which I fall short. I did have a mobile phone to my ear, which is another key qualification.

Eloise was a bit off colour on Tuesday and spent her music lesson with her thumb in her mouth, refusing to cooperate and feeling a bit flushy, so we had a quiet day and soon she was feeling better. She's back to sleeping quite a lot. As usual, when she doesn't seem well, we attribute it to a growth spurt, so yesterday Nicole went through her clothes and sorted the out-grown ones out to be sent on to some lucky person.

Today was swimming day and the great moment of truth came when Eloise was running the mat - a hilarious activity in which a mat is floated upon the surface of the pool and the kiddies run along it then jump in to the water and swim to Mum or Dad.

Eloise's trick for the past few months has been to run along the mat then come to a dead stop and engineer a safe entrance by climbing gracefully into the pool then push off and swim to me.

Today she ran along the mat, then stopped dead, beckoned to me like Morpheus in The Matrix, and said "I love you!" We all chanted "Jump! Jump! Jump!" (she is famous for her mat abberation) until I held my arms out for her to hold on to my fingers, arms stretched high, and be lowered into the water. She jumped, and at the crucial moment I withdrew my hands so she jumped in and great cheering was had.

And when she did the mat run the second time, she ran along and just jumped straight in.

Mar 3, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Have My Feet Tickled

Put Em Up I was tired yesterday, as I have related to you, after a certain someone woke up around 6.15am and dragged me out of bed.

Later in the day, after our beach fun and all that, and Eloise had had a sleep, Nicole returned from work and decided that she had a craving for meat and cooked a roast.

Part of the process for this involved a modicum of shopping and for this purpose she went out, with Eloise accompanying, as she loves shopping.

Meanwhile I diddled about for a bit, then picked up Tom Clancy as a sure fire way of falling asleep and lay down. Within two pages it had done its job.

A subjective few seconds later, I heard voices running along the lines of

"Where's Daddy"
"I don't know"
"Here he is. I tickle his feet."

Followed by hoots and shrieks of delight as I moved my feet in semi-conscious evasive maneouvres.

First Day At School

BCPA In a break from tradition I didn't skive my first day at school. In fact I was a little bit early.

This was helped by the fact that Nicole was at school today too, learning about hearts and how to electrify them, and so had the car and dropped Eloise off at nursery.

So I took it easy on the way down, with my rucksack full of cameras and lenses and notebooks and pasta, and toddled along the pavements on the direct route in (you wouldn't catch me cycling down that six-lane highway let me tell you) up hill and down hill until I got there, ascending the stairs concealed behind the otherwise fairly anonymous-looking facade up to the fairly anonymous-looking communal nerve centre.

Soon we were in the first lecture and, no surprise, standing up in front of the class to expain about ourselves.

There are twelve in the class, a couple of teachers, a government worker, a printer, a couple of recent high school grads plus others so a mixed bunch but they seem nice enough.

I learned something about the history of photography today, and we had to give presentations in the afternoon on famous photographers after skimming a book about them for ten minutes. My partner and I did.... oh I can't even remember his name. It was pretty shambolic... but interesting.

Eloise arrived home later with Nicole and it seems she had a couple of accident number 2s at Nursery today which given the monumental meal consumed yesterday wasn't that much of a surprise really. She found it upsetting by all account, which is a pity, but probably part of the "journey."

Mar 2, 2008


Temperature Rising Eloise woke me up at 6.15 this morning.....gah.

So we went down to the beach for seven, where we paddled around in the shadows then ambled up to the playground and swung and slid and see-sawed around.

Over the past couple of days although it's been sunny and quite lovely really, the wind has changed and become disticntly cooler.

Eloise made friends with some kids and I made friends with their mum, and we chatted about insect bites and what it's like to live at Nudgee Beach for a while while the kids played together and explored the shallows looking for shellfish and worms.

For budgetary reasons - having paid out for my course, flights to New Zealand and accommodation in Auckland - we forewent coffee and chinos, which I must say didn't go down well. Not well at all.

And, momentously fatigued, we got home for 11 o'clock in the morning, and after lunch she baled out bug timr although she'd claimed she wasn't tired.

Me, I was going to have a lie down but I got side-tracked...

Nicole cooked a lovely roast although the sweet potatoes were tragically underdone.