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.

Aug 24, 2009

Early Morning Painting Blues

Early Morning Painting Blues What do you do when you're waking up at 4am, can't stay in bed any longer, but don't really feel like getting up, because you have no bodily conception of what the time actually is?

Eat some breakfast, do some painting, and watch telly, all at the same time.

Fly Away

Butterfly Garden The next day was almost our last, or maybe it was.

The upshot is that we went back to Mum's place after Gamlingay whence to Boreham to return the kindly lent car thence to Heathrow to end our English sojourn and return to warmer climes.

And that was the end of that.

The flight passed uneventually. Eloise was as good as a good thing. The excellent in-flight entertainment kept her amused as she watched the same stupid TV programme about four hundred times.

I slipped my mind into neutral and watched a silly film about the Baader-Meinhof gang, amongst other things, none of which I remember now.

The stopover at Singapore was short and sweet, with time for a coffe and a visit to the butterfly garden.

Eloise slept all the way from Singapore to Brisbane. Wish we could say the same.

And for all that a return to waking up at 4am for no apparent reason and the joys of reverse-jet lag.

Though the trees have been removed properly now and their chippings are mulching the garden now with a nice blonde covering, which is nice.

Who Would Have Thought

And When Bagpuss Was Asleep ....that the product of young Christopher Slimm's stay in Brisbane so many moons ago would result in this?

Violet Slimm

Matthew And Violet "Hiya!"




Aug 23, 2009

Another Day, Another Wedding

Voilet Maisie Eloise Isla Eloise didn't seem too bad the next day, but as time marched on she was up and down with temperatures coming on to be abated by doses of paracetamol. Still we decided to press on with the day's engagement.

We drove down with the Gamlingay contingent to Hampshire and met up with Matt and Sam and their sproglets at the pub that professes to be the birthplace of cricket, where we ate food and drank drink.

We were on our way to the second wedding of our excursion, that of Ben and Lou. Ben is another of Nicole's cousins, and they were getting the church treatment.

Needless to say the heavens opened whilst at the pub but by the time we left the skies had cleared.

Foolishly I was entrusted the job of navigator so it fell on my shoulders to get us horrendously lost and to have to ask directions, getting us to church with mere moments to spare. Which explains why I forgot to change my shoes and was stood there like a lemon in my dapper suit and trainers. Still the bloke in front of me had a suit that was as crumpled as anything so I didn't feel too bad and frankly the youth of today are a pretty scruffy bunch anyway.

The vicar was a pretty liberated type and he just said that to stop the kiddies getting upset and agitated in the bizarre church environment they should jsut be left to wander, so they did, dancing and playing in the aisle, which was actually quite nice.

The reception was at a horsey club type thing and was quite informal, but very hot indoors. But there was plenty to do, with a set of drums for the band later on and a dressing-up box for the kids to play with.

Some nice touches were a polariod camera for the guests to be photographed - they would then sign their prints and hang them up on a big bit of bunting. And there were some custom-made "Ben and Lou's Wedding" slip-on shoes for the ladies with sore feet.

By the time eating had been done and a tremendously protracted set of goodbyes completed, it was ten o'clock or so by the time we set off so we didn't get back to Gamlingay until silly o'clock.

Aug 22, 2009

Eloise and Isla

Eloise and Isla Like I said, lots of cuddles.

"You have got to support her neck, silly."

Audley End House

At Audley End House Back to Gamlingay and more cooing over Isla Grace Slimm, or just Isla Grace if you're Eloise.

Eloise gets in lots of cuddles and Nicky is doing very well at being Mum, balancing pints of suspiciously Guiness-like stuff with breast feeding with the aptitude of a pro.

Our day trip this time is to Audley End House, a stately home not that very far from Cambridge. The weather is fine and sunny as we sit down for a picnic on the lawn by the lake with the house in the distance.

We walk around the rather splendid gardens admiring the greenhouses and organic gardens and the waterfalls and what not before having a look around the "authentic historical experience" of the servants quarters which are well maintained and perhaps even a tad authentic but rather clean and slightly incongruously multimedia-enabled.

As we stop for coffee the sky darkens threateningly. As the rain begins to pour Eloise becomes listless and as I give her cuddles I observe she is boiling hot and clearly quite unwell.


Eloise and I head back to Gamlingay with Chris, Nicky and Offspring as the others make their way around the house - only to find out you have to have the guided tour and the guided tours have finished, so they aren't far behind us.

We are faced with the dilemma of Eloise's illness and whether we can now go down to Hampshire for Ben and Lou's wedding.....

Framlingham Castle

Dad We saw Dad and Shirley for a trip to Framlingham Castle, a castle where in theory the castle-builders hadn't been quite so lazy, and had kept the place in pretty good trim.... from what we remembered.

We were treated to lunch at the pub beforehand, which was nice, and we proceeded to the castle feeling quite fat (speaking for myself, of course).

When we got in it wasn't quite what we remembered.... what we remembered as being a fully working kitchen with medieval atmosphere and all had been reincarnated as a clean-cut kids activities addendum to a clean-cut museum, which whilst admittedly nicely presented, was possessed of geometric perfection at odds with the rough masonry of its architectural host.

Still we climbed up on the curtain wall and walked all the way around, checking out the folly chimneys and noticing that actually the castle-builders hadn't really been on the case here either.

A little museum inside the walls expounded on the history of Framlingham the Town and contained a coffin for some reason which got Eloise prattling on about death again.

Aug 19, 2009

The Day After

Processed Wheat We got up bright and early about nine o'clock and went down for breakfast. A bit of jiggling and generally being polite to people whose names I couldn't remember and it was time to go.

And off we went to Woodbridge where I drank lots of coffee because I was bone tired not having slept all that well.

Nicole and Eloise went shopping to get Eloise some shoes as presents for being such a good flower girl. And I drank coffee.

It was important that I be reasonably alert as it was my dubious duty to transport the happy couple to Heathrow airport for to embark upon the last holiday they will ever have, because of course now they will devote their energies to making babies.

After returning from the airport I went and stood in a field of wheat to relax.

The Bride and Groom

The Bride and Groom Read what you will into the dynamics of this relationship.

Who's a Pretty Boy Then

The Groom He is.

(the one on the left.)

Aug 17, 2009

Wedding Day

Flower Girl I remember feeling a little nervous about the whole photography thing for the wedding, on a few fronts really. What would happen if it all went horribly wrong? After all it's the most important day in my darling brother's life, at least so far, not counting the day John Lennon died.

And with all that "we'll be happy with whatever you come up with" I didn't really fancy testing that coundary too much.

So I'd put together a demanding schedule of things to do because of course they wanted quite a bit of stuff covering - James plus best man at front door, formal and informal, walking in the grounds, Jane getting dressed, coming down the stairs blah blah blah I mean and so on and so forth.

I did have some chasing around to do as people had a lot of clothes to put on and all concerned looked smart and/or beautiful as conditions dictate. Jane's dress was a pretty spectacular affair and Eloise's hand-made number with matching shoes and hairband made her a picture.

Of course it all did go horribly wrong for me with flashes not firing and general technical problems but I adopted the what the hell approach and carried on regardless.

Eloise had a fit of the giggles in the middle of the vows and was generally a disruptive influence, in a nice way hopefully.

All in all it was a pretty busy day, about some people to the event and another lots turning up later. And it was a bit unusual what with it taking place in a tudor mansion and all that. The location was quite sumptuous really and those of us who had bagged rooms had a nice easy walk home afterward tge festivities. Eloise got to bed about ten o'clock and Nicole and I were the last to turn in at whatever time that was.... not very late. James and Jane's friends are a bunch of lightweights.

Congratulations, and all that.

Aug 16, 2009

Curry, Walk, Party

Lola I'm having a little trouble reconstructing events as it was quite a while ago but around this time we had a curry round at Faye's place with Sarah and Sam, and went walking with Sarah and her crazy dogs.

Also we had the party - the one which was supposed to alleviate any need for us to tramp all over the country. Nicole via Faye had organised Martlesham Pavilion and hired it for the day and we had a pretty good turnout as it happened.

I saw some old school friends - surprise of the day was the news that Bella is moving to the Middle East - and Eloise played with lots of kids in the playground at the back of the hall. Lots of food too. And coffee.

A Drive in Suffolk

Skies Over Elmswell Church The ladies had this bright idea that they wanted to visit the Museum of East Anglan Life. As bright ideas go, that didn't really appeal to me so I dropped them off in Stowmarket and headed out in some random direction in the car.

Eventually I pitched up at Elmswell and took pictures of poppies and churches - well a church - and passing trains.

And I didn't get lost, much.

Aug 14, 2009


When Doves.... Fly The drive home is uneventful but we have a deadline to meet.

James is picked up from his place of work en route to Ipswich for to go winetasting at Woodhall Manor, the venue of his impending wedding.

Not being a wino, I stake out the location whilst James, Jane and Nicole sample the bevvies, and umm and ahh over locations for the photography I will be trying to do.

I end up annoying doves in a dovecote and trying to get them all to fly around photogenically, which they don't.

Aug 13, 2009


Train Journey We watched Punch and Judy at Swanage, as previously mentioned. Nicole reminisced about having watched the show many years ago - many many years ago - and nothing much having changed. It might even have been the same bloke working the swazzle stick.

Eloise enjoyed it too but soon it was over and we sashayed to a playground where she had a go on a toy train type thing and then a roundabout etc.

When quizzed later about the highlight of the day - the castle, the steam train, the seaside, she said "the playground."

Apparently the castle hadn't received enough upkeep as the castle builders had let it go to rack and ruin. And once you'd gotten over the chuffing of the train at the start it was much like any other train. Apparently.

So we rode back to Corfe Castle and the ladies had an ice cream while I went and fetched the car.

And so after a pub supper and a further night in B&B, ends our holiday within a holday.

The Train

Corfe Castle Railway Station A short wait at the railway station was rewarded by the arrival of a steam train. Chuff chuff chuff.

A short trip on the train was rewarded by arrival at Swanage railway station. Clickety clack.

A short walk down the high street was rewarded by the sight of the beach on a now sunny afternoon with a Punch and Judy show and everything. That's the way to do it.

Corfe Castle

Out of Time On our one full day in Dorset we decided to visit the choccy-box castle and see what was what. Whilst eating breakfast, we saw a steam train chugging along the bottom of the valley, which as it turned out would take us from the castle to Swanage, a little seaside town where Nicole spent time when a sproglet.

So we drove up to Corfe Castle and walked around its skirt before mounting a frontal assault on its gatehouse armed with nothing but a National Trust ticket.

This seemed to be enough to breach its defences and we wandered amongst its craggy remains under a clearing overcast. There was plenty to see and lots of climbing to be done.

After tea and cakes we went to catch the train.


Durdle Door After arriving back on the mainland we drove in a leisurely manner to Dorset where we had opted for a small break.

We'd ummed and ahhed over camping for a while but then decided to bite the bullet and just go for B&B.

The drive took us through Poole and down into the Dorset countryside. We drove through leafy corridors and through choccy-box villages, one replete with a ruined castle.

B&Bs aren't what they used to be though and we pitched up at what was basically a four-star hotel with rather nicely turned out rooms and a winery in the back garden.

Before supper we took a drive down the coast and visited Durdle Door, a natural bridge on the coast. There was a bit of a hairy descent down which was too much for Eloise and Nicole but I went down there for half an hour and had a wander around down there.

I'd wanted to visit this place for years ever since seeing a big picture of it at the framers I used to frequent in Ipswich which Nicole later bought me for my birthday (the picture that is, not the framers).

It was as windy as a windy day can be, and the water was icy cold but still some nutters were hard at it, frolicking swimmingly in the waves.

We were a bit worried about making it back for supper as it had taken ages to get there, but it turned out we'd taken the scenic route and it was actually not that far by the main roads.

Aug 9, 2009

Isle of Wight

Maisie and Eloise We had a trip to Felixstowe with Dad and Shirley where Fish and Chips was consumed at FBI prior to a sojourn to the beach. The blue colour of the sea, caused by the refraction of sunlight by clear water, is mysteriously absent.

Whilst Nicole and Shirley indulge in a forced march up the shoreline, Dad and I skim stones for Eloise before driving up to Beach Hut Paradise where we sit on the beach some more and listen to the waves.

Continuing the seaside theme, we drive to the Isle of Wight to attend Maisie's birthday party. Originally intended as a beach party, then downgraded due to inclement weather forecasts to a trip to an adventure playground, the rain causes a further abrogation to a picnic. In Sam and Matthew's living room.

However the imagination of a 4-year-old child isn't to be trifled with and the 4 4-year-olds don't seem to mind that Maisie's birthday is occurring indoors. We adjourn to Space Island, an indoor adventure playground whose connection to Space is that there are cosmically-orientated pictures on the walls and whose connection to Islands is that it's on an Island. The playground itself is pretty good though, and the coffee is cheap.

Next day the rain goes away and the sun comes out. We go to Puckpoof Park (or something like that) and wander around on disused gun emplacements before a breakfast by the seaside with coffee and icecream.

Soon afterwards our demanding schedule requires that we retire to the mainland.

For a holiday.

Aug 7, 2009

Isla Grace Slimm

Isla Grace Slimm The new arrival took the occasional break from the breast to sleep and once she even opened her eyes.

There was lots of cooing going on in Gamglingay and Eloise was smitten by her new cousin.

Public Transport

Ascension The tube was pretty rammed on the way back to King's Cross. Eloise didn't mind the crowds even though we were packed into the trains like sardines.

Aug 6, 2009


Natural History Museum Eloise was however taken with the animatronic dinosaurs which were a bit more up her street.

And she liked the human body section. So much so that she wanted to get back into Nicole's womb.

Decent coffee though by the time we were done we'd all done a lot of walking and were pretty much done in.

While we were away Nicky and Chris registered the baby. Isla Grace Slimm.


Sentinels Of the Animal and Human kind.

A trip to Colchester Zoo with Mum. My objective is to take photographs of the Orang Utan. Black and White photographs are taken. Eloise feeds elephants and giraffes. She is delighted. It's a lot of fun. It rains, but this does not bother us.

A trip to London with Nicole's Mum. On her birthday. They go to the Natural History Museum. I deviate to view the Houses of Parliament and walk up the river. The weather varies between dull, threatening, and obliquely sunny. Things are being built on the riverside, stubbornly resisted financial crisis.

I meet up with them later. Eloise was supposed to have been delighted by dinosaur skeletons. She has failed to be so. We go on the Kobe earthquake simulator. It is rubbish.

There was a time when the NHM was a scary and fascinating experience... oh to see the world with a child's eyes. It's a nice building though, which I probably didn't notice when I was ten. Or wouldn't have if I'd visited then, if I did, or didn't.

The Happy Couple

Marry Me At James and Jane's house, oh hang on, Jane's house - James is still just a lodger, don't forget, we had our supper.

The memorable event of the evening was the crescendo of emotional incandescence that erupted when the issue of invitations to the wedding came up.

That is, where the hell is ours anyway? We've traveled half-way across the bleeding world and we haven't even had an invitation.

It seems that it was James' responsibility to send out our invitation, a responsibility which he has singularly failed to discharge. This was a source of some discord in the pre-matrimonial household.

Aug 5, 2009

Tea Dance

Dancing Back to Ipswich.... playgrounds in Christchurch Park and some dancing in the Dance Tent which was there for some kind of festival.

Not really my scene.

Ipswich has become quite multicultural. Lots of East European and Indians at the playground. Sign of the times - and not a bad thing.

Next day, whatever day that was, we troop up to Necton to see Eloise's Great-Grandad Stuart who seems to be doing pretty well.

We're not supposed to be repeating the hell-for-leather driving all over the countryside experience of last time. Hmm.

Jet Lag and Windmills

Windmill It's all a bit hazy.

What I do know is that where I said things were a bit crowded, they weren't really back then because Nicky, the expectant mother, was overdue to lose some weight and was consequently in hospital with Chris and Lynne in attendance.

We were requested to drop in a mobile phone on our way to Ipswich and as it turned out as Mick and I waited in the car for an increasingly long length of time it became clear that things had come to a head and the baby had been borne. By hook and by crook.

By a string of transportation that's mysterious to me now, a bit like a drunken trip on the tube that you can't subsequently recall, we came to be at James' house to pick up the car he was very kindly lending to us.

Some kind of lift had to be given to him at some point and thinking about it we stopped at Mum's on the way to James' where the handover of us from the Slimms to the Gavins took place, but getting back to the plot after the point that I had skipped previously, James was going on his non-Stag Do and I give him a lift back to Ipswich to facilitate this.

After which I went windmill-hunting. And I found a couple too.

Aug 3, 2009

O To Be In England in the Summertime

England in the Summertime I always wished I could get up really early in the morning and feel human.

Well, let's say that I have wished it recently.

A twenty-four hour flight across ten time zones seems to do the trick for a while anyway.

Yes, back to England again, this time in the English summer, with the newspapers ablaze with stories of the heatwave. It's all my brother's fault, I mean how inconsiderate can you be, to announce two weeks before we arrived last time that he's getting married in July.

Anne and Mick picked us up from the Hairport. So back to Gamlingay and the bosom of Nicole's family. A somewhat crowded household as Chris and de-facto-wife-cum-partner-as-she's-totally-like-pregnant to be Nicky - who you'll no doubt remember from such adventures as the time we went to Rainbow Beach with this bird that Nicole's brother had picked up - were in residence, along with Nicky's Mum, who was on hand to handle the soon-to-be-ejected sproglet. There's a bosom reference there which I needn't go into.

So with Anne, Mick, Chris, Nicky, Nicky's Bump, Nicky's Mum Lynne, Nicole, Eloise, Neil and Charlie (the dog) space was at a bit of a premium.

So when I woke up at God knows what time I sneaked out with Charlie and looked at hay bales and admired England's early morning bucolic charm.