Dec 24, 2009

Obligatory Christmas Barbie Number One

Christmas in Australia Nicole's had a few days off work so we've been working our way through our savings procuring fripperies for the little un.

Nicole has also been working hard on the Santa fantasy. Last night Eloise got an email from Santa telling her that the elves had sent her something and lo and behold if there wasn't a christmas stocking in the postbox for her to hang on her bed.

Yesterday we picked up the tow-along bike which will be Eloise's conveyance to school in the years to come.

And dare I say it there's a Barbie.

Considering Eloise's draw drops open and gasps of delight are uttered when Christmas cards are opened, we should be in for some excitement tomorrow. Which is not even to mention the presents that other kind people have sent her.

We've been busy this week with all that, and eating.

Today we were casting about for a thing to do and decided to go up to Jolly's Lookout for a barbie. It's a jolly little place which looks out (jolly, looks out, get it?) over Samford Valley and over Moreton Bay. It's on the edge of the rainforest so the wildlife sounds interesting and it's high up so it's cool.

A bit windy today though. Nicole worked hard on the wood-fire she was attempting to light but the barbecue she had selected faced directly onto the valley and the wind was blowing straight into her embers.

A couple of others turned up and they soon had their fire roaring but we were struggling away with a lot of smoke and not a lot of action. Of course I had to call into question the Slimm pyro genes. It seemed like every time I turned my back the fire would go out and I would have to come and sort it out!

Nicole of course blamed the wind, the alleged dampness of the wood, and the fact that she hadn't remembered to bring the hand-axe she doesn't even possess.

Anyway after a couple of hours the fire was sort of going and some sizzling noises were being heard. Oh, no, that's rain.

It didn't really start raining but the light was failing. This was a little concerning as someone had been playing with the lamp that we had brought and it was dead.

But all was well and as dusk settled over the mountains we tucked into our kebabs and salad, then left.

Eloise has left a carrot for Rudolph on her windowsill along with a mince pie for Santa. She's tied the stocking onto her bed. 'Tis the night before Christmas.

Nicole won't go out to the shed to fetch the tow-along. There's animals out there. So there are limits.

Dec 16, 2009

The Infernal Beast

The Infernal Beast So the Christmas Tree went up and festooning with lights and decorations done. Eloise delighted.

Presents have been received through the post and placed beneath tree. Eloise delighted.

Matilda has caught a sniff of something in the air, it transpires. Two presents found in garden, opened. Lindor chocolate box, opened. Chocolates absent.

Presents in cupboard.

The Grand Performance

She's Got Legs The Grand Performance came round on Saturday and it looks like they took some advice from last year - it was vastly improved.

And not just because our darling featured in three wonderfully chaotic nearly-dances to music that failed to be offensive.

But firstly - no epic ballet in the first half. Secondly - it didn't go on for four hours. Thirdly - we had front row seats. Fourthly - classy music... well, Spanish Flea - Tarzan and Jane - Spice Up Your Life to name all that I can remember.

Still with the girls cloned up with identical costumes and make up and hair styles it took a couple of minutes of size-sorting to work through the thirty shuffling pre-ballerinas to work out who was who and which was which.

So it was mildly entertaining, if perishing cold with the fundamentalist air-conditioning going bananas. I only fell asleep for a little while.

Toddler Overcomes Fear Of Santa

Santa Clause It was Eloise's Christmas Party last Friday at the childcare centre (a separate affair from the graduation, please take note).

She is becoming quite the gregarious little creature and we didn't see that much of her. Nicole managed to grab an hour's break for work so she could come and endure, erm enjoy the party with me.

I saved her the trouble and the focus/commitment by queueing for Santa on her behalf. I should point out that clearly Santa's don't need to be that convincing to pass muster in a four-year-old's eyes - I mean check out those eyebrows! and the fake beard!

Anyhow I was almost at the front of the queue when the call went out for the Seahorse kids to go and get ready for their performance. How gutted was I!

Soon we were, um, treated to a set of performances of children speaking in French, singing the twelve days of Christmas Aussie style ("Five Kanga-rooooooooos") before Eloise and her cadre of militants came out dressed up in tiger masks, lion masks and fairy dresses to sing us some strange but strangely cute about animals creeping up on you so you'd better watch out then roaring loudly.

So the tiger mask stayed on while we went to see Santa afterwards and previous episodes of last-minute Santa fear were avoided as she is this year buying into the Christmas mythos (albeit minus the whole R-word thing) religiously. Oh, there's the R-word.

And then the usual but different wankoid clowns, this time Peabo and Bryson or something, came out to perform bad magic badly in a kind of post-ironic-Tommy-Cooper-but-with-ridiculous-wigs-and-make-up way.

Dec 11, 2009


Graduation Wednesday saw Eloise graduate (ahem) from Nursery along with around 40 other kids.

The ceremony was turgid with the threat of extreme cheese but, proud parents that we are, we soaked up the song-singing and hand-shaking and the fromage factor receded, or we became inured to it, or something.

My lovely wife volunteered my services as official photographer and I set up a little studio in the corner where they all queued up to have their family portraits done with their certificates and their gowns and their mortar boards.

Dec 7, 2009

Countdown to Concert

What You Lookin At The countdown to the Christmas Dance Concert is well and truly underway and we have moved from one set of finely-timed contrived activities to another.

There was a rehearsal on Saturday where legions of kids and more legions of parents descended on the dance studios in somewhat heated conditions.

On Sunday we went to a barbeque with some friends who we have met through the dance school too, and straight after that on the way home we were back at the studios today to pick up the costumes.

For the ballet dance Eloise will be wearing a pink dress with babooshka head dress, for tap a finding-nemo type costume with fish eyes and fins, and for jazz a spangly swimsuit type affair with spangles.

Needless to say all the costumes had to be tried and tested as soon as humanly possible.

Today was the photoshoot at the church up the road from the dance school. Legions of kids. Legions of parents.

Tomorrow - dancing.

Thursday - dress rehearsal. We can't make that because if clashes with the nursery Christmas party. Which reminds me - Wednesday, Nursery Graduation.

Friday - day off.

Saturday - concert.

Dec 6, 2009


haramaS It's been a blur of late and non-nights. I've typed 600 pages of photography fact. I've prepared and printed 21 pages of colour photographs and hand-printed 12 pages of black and white. I've trimmed and mounted 40 photographs onto black card. I've mounted god alone knows how many transparencies. The ridiculous minutiae of presentation have been attended to.

My computer has broken. Photos have been chopped in half. Assignments have been forgotten or de-prioritised then completed at the last available minute.

Boxes have been packed, portfolios purchased and assembled.

Slides have been forgotten and delivered at the last minute by Nicole. Reams of printed notes have been drill-punched at the last minute by Will.

And all this whilst maintaining some sort of semblance of regular life with the swimming, the dancing and all that.

On the last day I had no sleep and made it through on coffee-flavoured fumes until handing the heap of stuff in just 30 minutes late.

One of just two people out of the original twelve to do so.

It's over.

I am catching up on sleep.

Nov 23, 2009


An aspect of the portfolio which required attention was Fashion stroke Glamour. Glamour that is as in pretty ladies with their clothes on rather than any other less wholesome styles of tography those of you from the seventies might be making connections to.

Young Stephanie my fellow student, when overhearing my/our desire to take pictures of the abovementioned pretty young ladies, made an introduction to a pretty young lady of her acquaintance by the name of Lucy who is also, as a bonus, fashionable.

So we (we being trusty Will and I) took her to an underground car park and Will helped me to take nice pictures by pointing flashing lights in her general direction and then he took some nice pictures of her too.

Busy Busy Busy

Attack of the Killer Literature Remiss have I been in bloggage, for I have been a busy bee.

The course ends in a not long period of time, and it is time to finish assignments, put together pages for portfolios, take photographs, complete notes.

Of the twelve that started it seems that three or four may complete and hand in the work at the end of the year. Of those who knows how many I will pass.

That is my intention so I am trying to work hard to achieve that thing.

Nov 15, 2009


Reluctant "We're going to go and walk the dogs so go and put some shoes on"
"I want to go to the brook"
"Well last time Matilda ran away and went and stole some bread, so not today"
"Well I don't want to go to the forest"
"Where would you like to go then"
"How about the beach"
"The tides are wrong"
"The beach"
"Nudgee Beach?"
"No, Bribie Island"
"That's too far"
"It's not fair"
..... driving.....
"Where are we"
"Samford Forest"
"This isn't the usual forest place"
"No it isn't"
"Why not?"
"I thought we could go somewhere different"
"Well I want to go to the usual forest place"
... sound of blood boiling

Nov 14, 2009


iKon I took the opportunity of depriving Nicole of her iPod, which she professes undying love for, for a day so that I could make photographs of it on the light table at college for assignments and portfolio.

The tricky thing was to use aperture to control the flash exposure and shutter speed to control the exposure of the LCD display.

Nov 9, 2009

At Last - A Hat She'll Wear

Bushrangers In fact it's a job to get her to take it off....

On Saturday she wore it while we walked around the forest. A different circuit but she walked around it without complaint. Well I say without complaint of course I mean she complained bitterly all the way around. Well I say bitterly I really mean just slightly. Just enough to be polite.

On Sunday she wore it while we watched telly. She wore it on the way to the swimming pool. She couldn't wear it while swimming. Though if she could've, she would've.

She wore it while I mowed the lawn. She wore it while we put together jigsaws.

She never used to wear hats, in fact she objected pretty strongly to them. But I suppose those hats weren't as, um, rakishly stylish as the school hat.

The hat, by the way, fits Nicole. Not that there's any competition for it.

The Grains of Time

We Are All Individuals are flowing through my fingers.

Eloise and Nicole went on Friday to the costume shop, erm school uniform shop.

They came back with a list of items which Eloise can recite but which I cannot recall, owing to the fact that I was quite blown away to see her drowned in her school dress and hat.

The dress was worn to nursery. The hat was worn to nursery. The hat has been worn ever since. It is a symbol of her ascendancy to the next stage of achievement. She is very proud indeed, and very excited about going to school.

She is ready. As we keep saying though, is school ready for her?

Nov 7, 2009

A Remarkable Thing

The Geometry Of Weather Eloise wanted to go to Bribie Island on Thursday.

As there was a storm forecast, we readily agreed. After all, not to labour the point or anything, we do like to go to the beach when it's forecast to rain.

It was sunny when we got there and we set off up the beach. The skies were clear apart from some smoke on the hills in the distance.

Our first interesting moment was when some woman got miffed with Matilda saying she doesn't like dogs. Erm, what are you doing on a dog beach then...?

We walked up the beach, well ambled. Eloise wrote her name in the sand. The tide was going out.

Then I spotted a dolphin's fin about thirty metres out to see. We cooed and aahhhed and decided to go and have a look.

As we watched it became clear that there were several fins out there.

And then one swam right up to the beach, almost leaving the water and beating the sand in the shallow water with its tail. It happened all of a sudden then it came round and had another go.

"It's like David Attenborough!" gasped Nicole as I drew nearer with my camera.

"It's scary!" said Eloise. "Don't go into the water!"

Nicole's feet were irresistably drawn in though and the dolphins made a measured retreat.

She got quite close the next time, wading out on a shallow sandbar as the tide went out and a dolphin rolled around in the water for her a little.

"I just wanted to be near one" she said. I translate that as "I wanted to grab a dorsal fin and be pulled shrieking through the water like on the telly."

When we came to our senses the sky was darkening over the water.

Minus bucket and spade, Eloise and I contented myself with earthworks, bridges and tunnels whilst Nicole nursed her allergic reaction from that morning's injection.

The storm was loud back in Brisbane, but unproductive in terms of rain. South Brisbane got hailed on though with hailstones the size of golf balls, so I am told. We just got thunder that made the whole house shake.

Nov 2, 2009

Soldiering On

Sea Dogs I took the dogs to Bribie Island on Friday. There were showers in Brisbane so the beach seemed the obvious choice.

It turned out to be quite sunny up there. Which was nice. We walked up the beach for a few clicks (that's thriller-speak for ks, which is an abbreviation for km, which is in turn an abbreviation for kilometres) until we came across an icky tidal pool that looked like it was full of paint of some description, the water being coloured weird purple and green in a very lurid and wholly unslightly way.

Around this tidal pool were strange mirage-like shifting blotches of darkness, like a swirling rorschasch of inky somethingness. I wandered tentatively over to discover squads, nay platoons, nay legions, I say whole armies of soldier crabs scuttling around on the sand.

Upon hearing my footfalls they scuttled around, organising themselves into some kind of emergent formation before digging into the sand and disappearing.

I lay on my belly with my camera for a while hoping they'd be daft enough or get bored enough to come out to play. I kept an eye on one little crab in particular, who poked a little eye out of his little pile of sand from time to time, spotted me, and then climbed back into his refuge.

They didn't come out to play again.

Nov 1, 2009

Three Wheeling

Three Wheeling Managed to coax her onto the bike for a bit more practice.

She's finally rumbled that if you go fast, or at least keep pedaling, the bike is more likely to stay upright.

And that, if you lean far enough over to the right, the bike isn't as likely to fall over.

Small steps.

Oct 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

Bubbles Choice quote of the day today:

"Dad, you've ruined my life."

Oct 27, 2009


Study Nicole must now consign herself to her study for protracted periods of time to actually study rather than just surf the internet. She has convinced herself that it is time to panic as her assignment is due in in, oh, several weeks' time.

Isn't she good.

Oct 25, 2009

The Ungrateful Dead

The Lights Are On This guy was funny and reasonably typical of what we saw.

He kind of shuffled past, looking quizically around with his yellow eyes, but never quite looking you in the eye.

Zombie Walk

zPod Just for a laugh today, after walking around the forest this morning with a child who walks at the same speed as the living dead, we thought we would go and see the annual Zombie Shuffle in the city.

The zombies met up and walked through the centre of town and we drove down and watched them shuffle past in their hundreds.

The dead had turned out in their finest and there was grey flesh, rigor mortis and blood aplenty. Eloise didn't quite know what to make of it all, but there were some that she liked and some that she definitely didn't... generally the ones groaning loudly or yelling "Brains! Brains!"

Barbie Weather

Chance of a Shower Decided to go out for a barbie yesterday.

Spent ages getting ready. Food, shoes, clothes, all that.

Left house. Ominous clouds on horizon.

New Farm Park. Nicole cooking. Eloise and I playing. Night falls. Ominous cloud overhead. Strange orange colour. No yellow lights in city. Lightning flashes in the North.

Cooking completes. Eating commences. Spot or two of rain.

Oct 22, 2009

From Four Wheels to Three

Actions, Consequences We've been discussing going from four wheels to two for a while. That is, removing the stabilisers on the bike so a) she learns to ride bikes properly and b) I don't have to push her as soon as we leave a perfectly-levelled surface.

I've opted for the graduated approach of removing one stabiliser so she learns to balance on one side.

So the other day the stabiliser came off and we headed for the brook.

It was a bit hairy at first but by the time we were on our way back she was going at it like a trooper. Admittedly leaning radically over to one side at times.

When we went to the playground later on, she went pretty quickly down some hills which was a bit stomach-churning but she did admirably and didn't fall off. She even turned corners at speed, which was quite impressive.

She hasn't wanted to get on the bike since though. Odd.

Oct 20, 2009

Le Poisson Rouge

Rain or Shine We went for a walk the other day. The usual one around Bunya Forest which takes me about half an hour at a brisk stroll, so two miles? It's a bit hilly, maybe slightly challenging for a four-year-old.

I am now officially over the whole carrying on shoulders thing. So Eloise has to walk the whole way. It will improve her stamina and harden her mettle, I say to myself. And the dogs need the walk. And if I carry her around I get a bad back.

So the first half generally goes OK and then it all goes pear shaped. I have to cajole and persuade to get her to keep going. Especially when she has decided to un-retire the wedding shoes because she's found that with enough tenacity they can be made to fit onto the feet no matter how painfully and that therefore it is her Supreme-Being-given-right to wear the things.

Choice conversational quote of the day, when stopping for a snack at a junction.

E: "Let's go up that track."
Me: "Nah, we'll go up here."
E: "I want to go up there."
Me: "There's nothing up there really. There's a stream but it's dry."
E: "I want to have a look."
Me: "I think it's a bit of a red herring."
E: "There's a red herring up there? I really want to have a look."
Me: "There's not actually a red herring. It's a figure of speech."
E: "I want to hear the red herring speak!"
Me: "Do you know what a herring is?"
E: "No...."
Me: "It's a fish."
E: "I want to go to the beach!"

The walk took three hours.

Oct 14, 2009


Nurture After ballet yesterday where Eloise got to see for the first time her costume for the up-and-coming Christmas Concert, the ladies went to the hairdressers.

I went down to New Farm Park whilst they were there to knock an assignment on the head.

However the heavens opened as a storm blew over so I retired back to the car and after waiting for the requisite hour returned to the hairdresser where Eloise was being pampered by a terribly stylish man who was straightening her hair with those tong thingies.

She was ever so pleased with her straight hair. When Nicole asked her why she wanted straight hair she said "I want to copy your hair Mum."

Oct 11, 2009


Time and the Tide It hasn't rained here for a long long time.

We worked it out the other day, and erroneously made it the time we got rained on at the Ekka though actually it rained on the way up to Noosa for that weekend. That rain may not have come to Brisbane.

It rained a bit last Wednesday, just enough for me to wangle a lift home with the bike in the back of Nat's Ute. But that didn't amount to much.

Today though the rain arrived in a more committed fashion.

So our lightbulb moment was to go to the Sunshine Coast.

It was raining at Mooloolaba too. We sat in the car and ate our sandwiches.

We wandered over the rocks for a bit. It was a high tide and a little hairy.

The girls went up to the lookout for a toilet trip. I heard some sort of vague shout from up there and turned around to have a look from my well-back-from-the-action boulder.

A large wave enveloped me from behind, almost pushing me from my now-submerged-and-well-and-truly-part-of-the-action boulder into the tumult which now coursed around my poor jeans.

Lucky we brought a change of clothes.

Let's Back a Cake

Let's Back a Cake It was Nicole's birthday a little while ago, and I'm not going to pull the usual gag about 21 again, or the one about which base are we counting in (I'm not even sure I can work it out... well 19 or so).

Eloise and I had literally gutloads of fun shopping for clothes for her. Eloise pulled things of racks and I put them back. Eloise looked at shiny things and I attempted to discourage this. Eloise insisted on the pink iPod. I humoured her.

So on the zeitgeist acquisition front young Nicole didn't do too badly.

On the birthday cake front the day was a disappointment really, but was made up for by an evening out at Citron, the local high-class Asian eatery of choice for the classy gourmet punter. Burp.

Eloise wouldn't let it lie though and for several weeks has been occasionally mentioning the need to bake a cake. This morning Nicole relented and cakes were baked.

As you can see Matilda's shiny black food magnet is still operating at full capacity.

Let's Off-Road

The Ageing Bucolic Structure of Eternal Solitude Now according to The Fast Show, which some of you, or less, may not remember, or not, "Off-Road" is in fact a verb. As in "Let's Off-Road" rather than "Let's Drive Our Four By Four [or potentially Four-Be-Four for those amongst us who insist on talking like carpenters] In A Wilderness Setting."

Will has a four by four. At college each year they hold an exhibition for which needless to say there are deadlines. And one of them approacheth. Will did not have anything that he wished to exhibit, but wished to have something that he would.

As a consequence of this and his general lack of solo success he suggested we drive his four-by-four (not four-be-four) in a wilderness setting so as to get some landscapes for to show off.

As the Rim's my thing at the moment, I suggested some RImming, and he knew of a couple of roads-less-travelled that we could travel winding up in a Gorge whose name neither of us could remember.

We toddled off in the afternoon, diverting as we saw fit to hunt craggy peaks down with mixed success.

The first inviting crag we attempted to corner was protected by a Conference Centre of all things, with a security hut and all, but the conservation park at the end of that road was replete with a different crag, in fact a whole rampart of them, and could serve as a future location for surreptitious dog-walking.

As we drove past Maroon Dam, we discovered that it was absolutely dead-tree-tastic. Now remember the funny Aussie thing with the word Dam? There's another funny Aussie thing with the word Maroon. Now you and I (unless you're an Aussie) would pronounce it as though it rhymed with Goon. The Aussies, would you Adam and Eve it, pronounce it as though it rhymes with Bone.

Amazing to have two such little-known Australianisms wrapped up in one body of water, with all those dead trees too.

Anyhow as we "On-Roaded" down the road it turned into a gravel road which wended its way down a rather nice valley with craggy peaks on one side and uncraggy ones on the other.

An entertaining tree presented itself amongst the intermittent cattle for which we stopped a while, and then further up the side of the valley some entertaining but Aged bucolic structure of eternal and intractable loneliness.

Eventually we realised that Will was lost and retraced our tracks to find himself once more and a little more eventually we found ourselves "Off-Roading" in the failing evening light down Cambanoora Gorge, which would have been lovely I'm sure if only we could have seen it.

Dead Trees

Four Oh look! - there's a dead tree.


A Curl of Cloud and a Kiss from the Sun In another evening diversion I decided to visit Moogerah Dam. It's another one of those Scenic Rim places, and I seem to have rediscovered the Scenic Rim. So off I toddled.

No dramas this time punctuality-wise as I set of at three or so, didn't get lost or take any bizarre routes. It probably took a little over an hour to get there.

Dam is an interesting Australian word, in that it doesn't refer so much to the blocking structure containing the body of water as to the combination of the two elements. So the Lake is kind of part of the Dam as well as the dam, if you see where I'm going.

I walked onto the dam (note the little d) and looked out onto the Dam with Mount Greville off on the other side as the sun got lower in the sky.

I great spray of water was greatly spraying down on the dry side, feeding into a creek which meandered away into a gorge of some description.

But I tarried not as I was after dead trees, and I wandered around the edge of the Dam (note the big d) until I found some likely looking candidates.

Now it turns out that during the drought of 1995 Moogerah Dam sunk to a mere 1% capacity and has been falteringly deepening from that nadir of wateriness. This might explain the fact of trees of some size sitting not too far from the water's edge in a state of, well, death.

I spent a quiet couple of hours as the sun sank. The buzz of threatening sounding insects rose in direct un-proportion to the brightness of the day. But they did not bite.

Oct 5, 2009

First Light

First Light The other night young Eloise crawled into our bed in the pitch blackness of the timeless stretches of nether worldly darkness, whereupon she fidgeted relentlessly before falling asleep again, upside down, with her feet in our faces.

Unsurprisingly sleep did not come that easily after that and when I surfaced to a level of consciousness sufficient to allow me to appreciate the dawn chorus I got out of bed and drove to the beach.

By the time I got home an hour later, Nicole was getting ready to go to work and I went back to bed for a couple fo hours before, rather appropriately, the Upside Down Show came on.

Oct 3, 2009

The Scenic Rim is Dark

The Scenic Rim is Dark When we went over the mountains with Will and Janelle, or rather behind them, I was struck by the cragginess and general impressiveness of the whole thing.

It so happens that Nicole had bought a book for me for Father's Day not long ago about walks in South-East Queensland and I've been having a look through it on the odd occasion and seeing places to go around where we crossed the mountains that looked like they might be interesting.

One of which looks to be a nightmare walk of about four hours so not really one for the good light when the sun is low in the sky but has potentially mind-buggering scenery (to quote Douglas Adams).

Another of which looked to be a doddle walk of about five minutes so definitely one for the good light.

So off I went through Beaudesert and down through Boonah and out to the Moogerah Peaks National Park and Mount French.

The traffic in Brisbane was murder and I thought I was doomed but I made it to the lookout a little while after the sun set and the views were pretty far- and wide-reaching with the Scenic Rim of volcanic remnants drifting off into the darkening haze in the distance.

Picture of Health

Training Day I wanted to do some action-type shots of boxing'n'stuff and Paul over the road has Tommo come and visit nearly every day to do training. T used to be a rugby player but retired last year but he makes the effort to carry on with his fitness regime and really puts his back into it.

So I asked him if I could take some snaps, and he said yes, and so I did.

In the Wilderness

Dust on the Clarence River So I suppose I should overcome my ennui and embark upon an account of our night away camping a week ago.

We had arranged to go with young Guillaume, or Will to you and me, and his young wife Janelle. Oh, and their dogs - details....

Pre-arrangement wise Nicole took a bit of a back seat and little old I had the job of packing and provisioning. So with innovation and ingenuity I single-handedly mounted the roof-rack-box-thingy. Packed the mats and tent which Valerie had lent us. Didn't check it first though - details....

Shopping was a breeze. I just bought everything that I could see, within reason. It all fitted into the multiple cool-bags which seem to appear when we - well I - forget to put a cool-bag out for the milkman.

So mostly packed on Friday night, we got up bright and early Saturday for our appointment at the Calamvale Hotel where we were rendez-vousing.

I should point out at this juncture that wilderness camping had been suggested but poo-pooed by Nicole as a bit frightening so we had located a campsite at Woodenbong which was dog-friendly and not too far from our intended destination and had the facilitiies Nicole coveted such as toilets and... toilets.

So we met up with Will and Janelle, a little late, and proceeded down the Mt Lindsey Highway through Beaudesert and on through Rathdowney where we stopped a while to "stretch the dogs' legs."

Then on over the rather spectacular mountains and into New South Wales.

On arriving at Woodenbong campsite, Nicole took a look and said "Let's move on shall we." As campsites go, nestled in a field not far from the centre of town, it lacked promise.

Will's eyes lit up at that point and with a "your car's good for gravel roads, isn't it" we were off into the wilderness.

Through Urbenville and onto a side-road which soon turned to gravel and wound through the countryside for an absolute bleeding eternity. Around an hour's worth of eternity, through Upper Tooloom where the road inexplicably sealed for a hundred yards or so. The 4x4 Ute which Will was sporting left us in fairly short order and we just kind of toddled along at our own speed. When we came to a junction we'd see him in the distance and then he'd disappear again in a cloud of dust.

Eventually we arrived at Paddy's Flat, almost grounded the car driving down a little dip before stopping at our final destination, a little camping spot right next to the Clarence River.

Whilst Will and Nicole went off to collect supplies of local resource, I made some sandwiches and put up the tent. The wind blew down the river valley, bouncing off the crags in the cliffs opposite our spot, and blew the tent away. Owing to there being neither pegs nor guy-ropes in the tent bag. I suppose to look on the bright side there was no mallet either.

We tied the tent using Ute Rope to the Ute and to a tree. Boulders went inside the tent as surrogate pegs. All was good.

The dust storm arrived pretty soon after and visibility became decidedly murky and the air not quite thick with it but kind of smelly in a dry throat-irritating way.

Then we got to feeding the dogs and needless to say food was a flashpoint for conflict as the two packs failed conspicuously to integrate and an open power struggle broke out between Matilda (9 years old, 21kg) and Gipsy (3 years old, less than 21kg).

After pulling them apart I inspected my wounds - scratches to the foot and thumb, bruise underneath thumb nail where I had prised Matilda's jaw from the neck and ear of her adversary - and secretly gloated that our dog had won.

So we, well they, set to cooking and we were shown how to cook on an open Complete Fire Ban. The food, which I take full credit for procuring was not too bad, just a little burnt.

Will and Janelle laugh in the face of tent-users and after a while got out their swags. A swag for you uninitiated is a glamourised sleeping bag which should keep the elements out.

So we were woken up at various points as they had to stoke up the Total Fire Ban in order to avoid hypothermia. It's cold up there in the highlands of NSW. I say cold, but only apparently so as we were dare I say it snug as bugs in rugs or lugs in hugs in our nice zip-together double sleeping bag. Very snug indeed.

The next day we didn't do much, just went for a little walk. Matilda had another fight after pulling the shamelessly provocational trick of sitting underneath the Ute in what I imagine would be Gipsy's spot.

The dogs had fun with some cows, but it could have been a lot worse.

And other than that, it was homeward bound after our little adventure.

Oct 2, 2009

Wedding Shoes

Wedding Shoes The shoes Eloise wore as a flower girl have been treasured at Nursery, walking in the bush, stomping around the house, to the playground and almost everywhere that Eloise's feet have been.

Even when they were getting too small Eloise would shoe-horn - without the horn - her feet into them until the straps left marks like garottes upon her feet.

But no more. Her feet will no longer fit inside. And so it is with great regret that the shoes have been pronounced retired.

Sep 24, 2009

Clear Air After the Dust Storm

Clear Air You'll all no doubt know about the dust storm that blew up out of South Australia and turned Sydney into the heartland of the apocalypse.

I was out walking the dogs on the far side of Mount Coot-tha when it blew up the coast and arrived in Brisbane, and wishing to avoid hyperbolae, it was grey rather than red at that point and resembled an overcast day.

As the day progressed though it got a bit of a reddish tinge and as I was driving home the strange thing was seeing the sun reflected on cars and seeing that it was blue... or to be pernickerty cyan.

My own pet theory on the colour of the sun is that its light was having the red part of its spectrum scattered by the reddish dust, leaving the blue+green (which together make cyan) to reach our eyes. Could be nonsense. Probably isn't.

Anyway visibility was dropping and I got the idea of tripping up to the Glass House Mountains to get some moody shots of mountains poking out of the dust and disappearing into the dusty mist.

No such luck. I looked out from Maleny to see nothing whatsoever. Visibility was down to about 300 metres at that point. The air was very dry, kind of reminiscent of floors having been sanded a couple of days ago but left unvarnished.

So I tootled back to Brisbane thinking visibility might have cleared a bit down there, but it hadn't.

So it was a bit of a washout really.

Today we woke up to find that the air was clear once again, with a light coating of dust prevalent on most surfaces. I drove up to Mount Glorious to see if the sunset would be a blinder, and maybe it was a bit redder, maybe it wasn't. It was quite pretty though.

Sep 17, 2009

Domestic Bliss

Domestic Bliss Cross words today...

Nicole had to go to the doctors for her allergen jabs. If she was lucky and she got seen in good time we might have been able to pick her up on the way to swimming. Time would have been pressing though so it would have been useful for Eloise to be in her swimming costume before we left.

Me: "Can you put your swimming costume on please Eloise because... (simplified explanation of above)"

Eloise: "No."

Me: "It would be really useful."

Eloise: "Don't want to."



Eloise has washed hands with soap, new smelly soap. Hasn't washed soap off.

Nicole: "Can you go and wash the soap off your hands please"

Eloise: "No."

Nicole: "You don't want to get soap in your eyes, it would hurt."

Eloise: "Can't be bothered."



At school where we are attending our induction interview. Eloise is watching the admin lady do photocopying.

Me: "Eloise can you come back to the waiting room please, that's where we have to wait for the lady to come and see us."

Eloise: "No."

Me: "You're saying No an awful lot today."


Getting ready to walk dogs.

Nicole: "Eloise do you want to come and walk the dogs with us?"

Eloise: "No."

Nicole: "But we have to walk the dogs and I want to go and get some fresh air."

Eloise: "No. I want to stay here and I want you to stay here with me."


At supper. Supper eaten. Need to clear dishes away. Eloise is sitting on my lap.

Me: "Eloise, please can you get off my lap and sit on your chair."

Eloise: "No."

Me: "I'm a bit tired of you saying no today. It would be nice if just once you were to say yes."

Eloise: "No."

Nicole: "No ice cream for you then."

Eloise gets off lap. Tears.


Bed-time. Tidying up time.

Me: "Eloise you need to tidy up that pile of clothes please."

Eloise: "No."

Me: raised eyebrows.

Eloise: "Sorry! Yes!"

Tidies up.

Eloise: "Can I have ice cream now?"


Overflowing Drawers

Kid's Stuff, Size 3 She's got more clothes than she can shake a bleeding stick at.

What with presents from Grandparents and bags of clothes that other kids have grown out of - and often it seems never even worn - which turn up from time to time, we have had to re-institute the Star Chart but with a new line requiring a nightly tidy-up.

All this because when she decides, as she does three of four times a day, to change into a new costume, she rifles through her drawers like a dog after a badger and they all end up on the floow.

All this because, not content with what's in her bulging clothes drawers, she insists on sampling the "top shelf" material of clothes that are still too big for her.

Sep 15, 2009

Spring Hill Baths

Spring Hill Baths Nicole is hard at work on an assignment for her Masters thingy, so to help bring the moment of proof-reading doom forward Eloise and I made ourselves scarce on Sunday with dog-walking and swimming.

Spring Hill pool is the venue of choice at the moment for Sunday afternoon swimming. Despite its inner city location, it's a quiet little oasis of Victoriana where you can swim unrestrictedly. The roof lets the sun stream in so you can swim up to the bright end to warm up in the ways if you get cold.

It's lined by little dressing rooms too with gaily coloured doors, so you enter the pool, go and grab a dressing room, get changed and hop straight into the pool.

Sep 10, 2009

Dawn in Noosa National Park

Noosa National Park As you can see dawn was a bit of a damp squib, due to us not really knowing how the sun would come up in relation to the landscape, and due to smidges of cloud out on the horizon blocking it out til it had risen fully.

The Crack of Dawn, Again

Rocks in Early Morning Light The alarm clock went off at 4.30am and Nat and I were soon working out how to use the coffee machine in order to maintain some level of consciousness while Justin "dragged his sorry ass" out of bed.

At 5.00am we were out of the door and stomping up the coast to Granite Bay. We arrived there around 5.30am, bang on schedule.

We spent around 3 hours farting about with cameras from then, as the sun slowly crept up over the horizon, albeit behind a headland.

I saw these rocks on the beach and they reminded me of a painting that we bought once in Cornwall, of rocks and flowing water.

Sep 7, 2009

Mini-Break at Noosa

Sun Goes Down at Noosa My friend Justin invited us up to Noosa for the weekend, where his parents-in-law have a holiday apartment which Justin and wife Anna sometimes use.

Situated a hundred metres or so from the National Park and around fifty metres from the beach, it's pretty big with balconies and so on and so forth and is really rather nice.

Natalie, another student on the course, caught a lift with us up there and we drove through some rain thinking that the weather might not be with us but as we set out for an evening stroll to scout out locations for our obligatory dawn excursion the dark clouds rolled away and the sun made a late appearance.

That's not Justin in the picture, by the way, it's just some guy who was sitting there looking at the sun's rays bursting through the last of the rain clouds.

Sep 3, 2009

Mist on Clear Mountain

Mist on Clear Mountain One of my current projects is to produce a panoramic image, with various ancillary requirements.

Such an undertaking is not realy a big deal, but in order to be distinctive you need to have nice light.

So I hatched a plan to get up at the crack of flaming dawn on Saturday to journey to Clear Mountain and observe the sun rising over 18 stitched frames.

Which I undertook with aplomb, only to find out that it was cloudy.

Still I went up to Clear Mountain anyway, only to discover the Clear Mountain was actually inside the clouds and therefore anything but clear.


(Strawberry) Blonde Ambition Eloise has discovered the concept of secrets.

Her secret today, which I'm not supposed to tell anyone - but hey, I'm a blabbermouth - is that she was briefly with child.

Whilst I was cooking lunch she appeared with her handbag, in her high heels and a large tummy and announced that she was going to work now.

She deferred her departure to take lunch, and very kindly offered to make drinks.

The babies didn't take long to gestate. The labour was very easy and four children were born, all of which were mysteriously made of soft plastic.

Sep 1, 2009


Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun The swimming is coming on. We've been for a couple of extra-curricular dipping jaunts, trying out the outdoor Centenary Pool and returning to the quaint and ancient (by Australian standards) Spring Hill Baths, which Nicole was introduced to for the first time.

A lot of work needs to be done on diving but the Big Arms are coming on for the front crawl and she can keep herself above water pretty reliably.

Although panic almost set in on the streets of Brisbane when she started yelling "I'm sinking! I'm sinking!" with me only about two feet away which brought the pool attendant running and almost gave the poor girl a heart attack.

Dancing and Singing

Strike a Pose Eloise is really very keen on her dancing.

And her singing - she's started bringing songs home from nursery, for instance:

Twinkle twinkle little star
My mum drives a motor car
Pull the choke and press the button
Set off in a cloud of smoke
Twinkle twinkle little star
My mum drives a motor car

She won't accept rhyming corrections under any circumstances.

Aug 31, 2009

The Woods

Eloise in the Woods We've been doing a lot of walking in the woods, as Eloise has decided that she doesn't really like the beach.

She generally decides she doesn't much like the woods either, but once she gets there she usually enjoys it. We've been doing some exploring and finding new paths.

Usually it's fifty-fifty with her between walking and being carried, and for a while I got a bit of a sore neck as she weighs a ton these days, but she's pretty good as our walks are generally a couple of miles long.

She'd much rather go to the brook. I'm only prepared to countenance this on occasion as there's lots of construction work going on up there - the tunnel that going to run under the river from Wooloongabba to the Airport Arterial is running under the brook for part of its length.

Matilda is pretty treacherous up there in the refuse bins that are dotted around. Once she gets the sniff of food...

Seeking Asylum

Nature Draws Its Veil Over Past Suffering I saw some amazing pictures of a disused, derelict lunatic asylum in Brisbane and wrote to the guy who took them to find out the low-down.

Will and I went up there early one morning and had a look around. It was a very creepy place! Mist hung low over the river that early in the morning and despite the chill in the air, high above the banks sun shone into this run-down ancient building which must have lain disused for over forty years.

It was surrounded by a golf course and we could see the smart-casual putters puttering around whilst we tentatively picked our way through the derelict hulk.

Eventually a golf-buggy drove by and we kind of figured out the game was up when we made eye contact with the greenkeepers... so we had a quick final look around before sneaking away past the No Entry sign which of course we had previously failed to see, and through the hole in the fence....

Aug 27, 2009


Forest Lane The heatwave in England which abated on the day of our arrival delivered temperatures of 33 degrees.

The other day here in wintry Brisbane the mercury rose to 35 degrees celcius apparently. The warmest winter day for a long long time.

It was all rather nice while it lasted. Now it's down to just 29 during the day. It's a bit warm at night as well.

Aug 26, 2009


Tiberowuccum Nicole, as you may be aware, is an allergetic. Which is to say that she suffers from hayfever.

In order finally to deal with this problem, she has obtained a referal from her doctor to go and see a specialist.

Which she duly did. After the skin prick test it was ascertained that she is in fact allergic to everything on earth that it's possible to be allergic to.

Especially cats.

Dogs too, but especially cats. And pollen of course. Northern hemisphere pollen more than southern, as it happens. And mites. And dust. Probably air too, but they can't do a skin prick test for that.

The upshot is that a treatment is available which might or might not work which involved pyramid training her immune system with increasing subcutaneously injected doses of nasty things.

One Thursday three Thursdays ago I think, she began on her treatment. One injection in each arm, one of dog, one of pollen, in almost homeopathic doses at this stage.

Still up her arms swelled. If we were cruel we'd be thumping her on the arm. But we're nice.

So instead I made her walk around the Glass House Mountains.

Aug 25, 2009


Evening Light It's taken a while to get back into the groove of warm days and cool nights. It's been pretty chilly from time to time in the nether hours.

The jet lag took about a week to get over. Then the colds arrived. There have been various coughs and sniffles.

But not a drop of rain had fallen whilst we were away and only three drops have fallen since then.

Although whilst those three drops were falling, we were at the Ekka and a load more rain dropped there I can tell you.

Still it doesn't seem that long since we've been back and yet at the same time it feels like ages. James and Jane might even be back by now from the Honey Moon where they've been staying. I imagine it would take a long time to get back from such a distant place. A package is on its way to you.

And I suppose we've been up to a fair bit. The Ekka, which you'll recall is the Queensland Agricultural Show (it blows the Suffolk Show out of the water) was appreciated much more by Eloise this year with the animals and sideshow alley.

Together with all the other stuff we haven't been hanging around here much anyway.