Jan 27, 2010

The Big Day

The Big Day The Big Day came and went today without significant trauma, taking onto account various factors which we may or may not go into here.

A significant beneficial contributor was the fact that she'd been and met her teachers and some of her classmates last Friday at an "interview" and made friends with Cassidy, a little girl in her class.

Another plus is that there are several of her little chums from nursery at her school, notable Hannah - though none is in her class.

And there's the obsession with school uniforms, being at school, and all that.

But there was the pool of vomit that she woke up in this morning on the negative side.

We didn't let that minor detail put us off though. We were up bright and early and amazingly weren't late to school, even after negotiating the usual flashpoints of suncream and toothbrushing.

She helped Nicole in the preparation of food and packed loads for the day, and all that was left uneaten was the banana.

We rode up to the school with the tow-along and I found out where to park the thing while Nicole got her settled in class. By the time I got back she was sitting at a table merrily playing with a puzzle.

It wasn't mayhem exactly but the school room was filled with parents and kids milling around for about half an hour. They were all waiting for the bell which meant it was time to go but the bell didn't go off and there were no screaming kids to make things interesting so people just sort of started to wander away. There wasn't any separation anxiety and no tears.

By all accounts, by which I mean the report from Miss Dale (that would be her teacher) that everything was fine, everything was fine. I asked Eloise how her day was and her answer was "I dunno."

Jan 25, 2010

Back to Melbourne

Public Transport After the bumpy four-by-four fun bump ride, we picnicked at the bottom of the mountain by the obligatory babbling brook, in the shade of a big tree of uncertain provenance.

Ros's missing shoes called for Adam to drive back up the mountain to see where they'd been dropped, only for John's shoes to show up on the back of the ute where they'd been left... Ros's shoes were under the tarp on the ute all the time...

Then back to Melbourne via a little town called Yea and the greatest Lamington shop on Earth... they were down to one Lamington left.

Then a quiet evening in in Melbourne. Pasta. Big TV.

Next day John and Ros were catching a plane back to Blighty. Nicole, Eloise and I caught a tram in the City and wandered around a bit, snaffling ice cream and coffee before encountering cute horses pulling stagecoaches and submitting to pester power.

We hopped into the carriage and we were trotted around for a while. People took pictures of us. I tried to give them the finger in a surreptitiously humourous way - Nicole objected for some reason.

I broke the habit of a lifetime and tried a glass of wine in the evening, primarily to make a half-hearted attempt to understand wine-wankery. The French plonk was kind of smooth... at least that was the best I could come up with.

I don't predict a headlong dive into antiabstemiousness. If that's a word... though I didn't have a hangover.

We flew back the next day, back to sunny and not-too-hot Brisbane, where we picked up some dogs who were pleased to see us and went for a walk on the beach, where the water was warm.

Jan 24, 2010

Mount Buller

Mount Buller When the skies cleared the next day and we finally made it up the mountain we found meadow-covered slopes overlooking deep valleys. The view, when extended more than 20 metres from our faces, were tremendously long.

We drove the track we'd walked previously to the summit. At the end of the road we ate sandwiches. Then the main part of the group climbed the remainder of the mountain - a very steep looking undertaking - whilst Eloise and I toddled down a track picking flowers and swatting flies.

After that the high point of the day was all getting into Adam's 4x4 and going off-road across the ranges to Mount Stirling along tracks less trodden. It was bumpy, and spectacular.

Jan 22, 2010

Calling on the Gnomes

Calling on the Gnomes A cool change blew through that night, and the next day came over all rainy and overcast.

Up the mountain we drove and before long we were enveloped in mist and cloud.

We stopped off half way up the mountain to look at this strange tree which some gnomes had carried out some development work on. Eloise knocked on the door but there was no reply.

The drive up to Mount Buller was quite long and twisty, but we were rewarded at the top by a little metropolis for the discerning ski fanatic, all very architectural modern and swish.

The views down the mountain were pretty spectacular as the low cloud swirled beneath us. As we went up to the end of the road and got out of the cars to walk up to the summit, they were secretly creeping up on us and we were soon enveloped in a miasma of white with not much visibility in any direction to take our eyes of the gravel road up and down which hurtled trucks and utes at breakneck speed.

We trudged back down again before finding somewhere to have a cup of coffee... then down the mountain again and home.

Jan 21, 2010

Lake Eildon

Lake Eildon So after going back to bed, and rising again, and eating breakfast, the plan for the day as we can't go into forests or national parks is to drive around Lake Eildon and have a picnic and a swim.

Lake Eildon on arrival is not looking too fresh... although quite picturesque from a distance it is clearly denuded and reminiscent of how our lakes in Brisbane looked a couple of years ago with a ring of dessicated barren ground above the current water line, showing where it used to be in the "good old days."

In fact it's so depleted that in many places dead trees are poking out - we theorised on how they got there and came to the conclusion that they must have been flooded when the dam was first built.

The drive around the lake took is high into the surrounding hills and afforded us views of expensive looking houses dotted around the place as well as panoramic views which stretched for miles underneath a sun which wasn't as hot as the day before. The wind was windy though - as we found out when we descended to try to find a picnic spot.

Spot one proved unsuitable, so we headed further round the lake on some gravel roads before finding a little spot by the lake side for lunch and a meditation in ignoring flies. The wind was blowing the trees behind us quite considerable though we were sheltered by the coppice behind.

Lunch completed we drove around the headland for a bit to find a place for the promised refreshing swim.

Location one was a marina for house boats. I say marina - well it might have been once, and there were house boats, but you had to cross a lunar landscape of dried-up lake bed to get there and the wind was blowing clouds of dust up which kind of detracted from the already sparse natural beauty of the place.

Location two was by the spillway and not that much better in my book but at least you could get to the water and dip your toes in it whilst ignoring the clouds of sandy stuff in it which were probably churned up by the wind.

Determination was in the air to varying degrees however and I watched the others having their little swim before getting out again.

I saved my energies for a swim in the river when we got home. Chilly spring water, mmmmm.

Fire Danger: Catastrophic

Australian Alpine Sunrise What with the bedroom a far cry from a peaceful place for nocturnal slumber, I woke up early in the morning to find Eloise laid next to me looking me in the eye and Nicole on the bunk bed, sound asleep.

I offered Eloise a walk and out we went in the gathering dawn.

"Look!" says the early morning naive. "Sunset!"

"Ouch" I said. "This gravel road is really hurting my bare feet. Why didn't we put some shoes on?"

We looked at the mountains beckoning us in the distance as the sky lit up behind them and the wind started to pick up and the bloody flies started to make their appearance.

Not for us that day the heady heights of the Alpines with the cooling breezes and expansive views. For the forests they were closed. And there was only one road up and down.

So for us a drive around an emptying lake seeking a place to picnic and swim. Fat chance.

(PS: Note to phoners: phone is fixed.)

Jan 19, 2010

High Country Dusk

Victorian High Country Surprisingly the sun doesn't set that much earlier in the High Country, and Eloise got another late night after we supped from the barbecue in the backwash roar of the air-conditioners which were attempting to restore the temperatures in the bedrooms to something vaguely conducive to slumber.

The air conditioners remained set to deafen as bed time approached and sleep proved difficult to achieve that night.

Things were looking a bit grim for the next day too. Total fires bans in force and access to National Parks closed. Hooray.

Victorian High Country

Delatite River We set off for the High Country the next day in a two-car convoy.

Things were a little touch and go after Adam put his back out tending his vegetable patch, but he soldiered through on a cocktail of drugs and we were all systems go.

A couple of hours up the Hume Highway, and we stopped for a road-side convenience break, opening the car doors to break the seal on the air-conditioned haven and allow in the blistering heat of the 43 outside degrees.

We proceeded across ever-increasing undulations until the Alpine peaks came into view, and pitching up at a little place called Merrijig, arrived at our cottage.

Somewhat reminiscent of an isolated cottage in the Dales, we entered the dressed stone building to discover that it was clearly designed for winter. With all the fans in the place on max and all the curtains drawn, it was wickedly hot inside.

It wasn't long before someone realised there was some flavour of wine that had been left behind so an emergency was duly constituted and we had to go back into town for tastings and procurement of wine and managed narrowly to avoid the catastrophic destruction of civilisation as we know it, and have known it these past three thousand years.

Unable to quite get my head around the gravity of the situation, I got a cup of coffee and had a look around town. Mansfield was a little township with some shops. Ski shops. It was very hot. Not much skiing.

We went home after the visit to the Delatite (pronounced "Della-Titty" according to Nicole) Winery. Eventually we went down to the bottom of the garden to swim in the gurglingly chilly Delatite River.

Jan 18, 2010

Victorian Suburban Garden Party

Satellite The men folk spent the morning waking up, then reading books while the women-folk went shopping for food and provisions. Eloise and Ros made scones, nothing went horribly wrong. With the reading anyway. Although, come to think of it, 2012 by Wesley Strieber if that's what his name was was a little unexpected, expecting as I was some kind of environmental catastrophe doom-saga but it turned out to be something to do with the nephilim annexing parallel earths and extirpating the souls of the inhabitants... you'll be familiar with the nephilim.

In the afternoon Adam's family - all of them I think - came around to renew their acquaintance with Josie's parents. Ding, dong, ding, dong. That's the sound of wedding bells that is.

Afternoon spent in garden. Sunshine. Chairs in a big circle. Lots of Australians. Stubbies. Beer coolers. Eskies. Cakes. Nice food. Water pistols.

Full tummies in the shadow of the most ludicrous residential satellite dish in Melbourne as the sun went down.

Third late night for Eloise. Bedtime hid behind sunset again.

Jan 17, 2010

Gas Mark 43

Melbourne On the subject of the phone, which a few of you might be interested in, we found out just before farewelling Brisbane that we had no dial tone and a short investigation revealed that some unsolicited lawnmowing with the blades set to Savage from our next door neighbours had severed the temporary umbilicus linking our telephone to the ether. It was temporary because Telstra couldn't be arsed to do a proper job of fixiing it when it went wrong last time and haven't been arsed to fix up their half-arsed job in the last however long it is. And that's at least a year.

So anyway the phone should be up and running again on Monday.

Anyhow on with the Melbourne story. On Saturday it was stinking hot. Like 43 degrees centigrade hot. I don't know what it is in Farenheit - if you care you're probably from that generation that could actually do mental arithmetic and would know the formula and can therefore work it out for yourself.

We went into the city, parked at Federation Square, an architectural monstrosity reminiscent of a huge petrified square pair of combat trousers. It's shaped like a building but it's covered in what looks like camouflage. Interesting.

There was a book sale on there that wasn't cheap. so we followed Josie and Adam around, past Flinders Street station, across the river, onto the South Bank and into a restaurant where we ate and drank for hours on a covered balcony.

There was a leather sofa in the sun by the path. If you touched it you burned. However the heat abated slightly from time to time as a breeze wafted up the surprisingly dinky Yarra whilst Eloise made friends with the people at the next table and danced to the ho-hum guitar music being played within.

Having eaten and drunk, eventually we left and sort-of-retraced our steps back the car and drove around the bay to a very crowded beach at Williamstown with chilly water. Eloise and I played tennis whilst everyone else dutifully swam. Good for them.

Another late night for Eloise. Perhaps unsurprisingly the sun again did not set until late, though it took us by surprise again.


mobility Couple of things:
1) been away a while. more about that later.
2) phone has been out of order. more about that later.
3) dad's op: hope things went well.

We've been to Melbourne. We flew out some time in the dim and distant past - last Friday - after dropping the poor benighted dogs in at the doggy-hotel.

No problems getting on planes etc. Not much packing to do. Although doubts were prevalent: summer in Victoria is hotter than a hell-boy's hairpiece but we were visiting the mountains where it's quite chilly, even in summer.

So we popped in some things with long sleeves and that was that. No traffic on the way to the airport, Paul had us there in plenty of time. No dramas getting through security. No dramas getting on the plane. No dramas. Get the picture?

We landed in Melbourne with no dramas... Josie and Ros picked us up from the airport. No dramas.

We got to Josie and Adam's house and met up with Adam and John. John and Ros being Nicole's uncle and aunt. Josie being their daughter. Adam her hus^H^H^H erm boyfriend.

They live in northern Melbourne. It was hot. We sat outside and ate food until the sun went down. The sun went down late. It was like an English summer evening.

Notch first late night for Eloise. When the sun doesn't set, bedtime creeps up on you, sneaks past you and runs off into the distance before you even get cooking started. Not that I did.

Jan 7, 2010


Rainforest We went up to Mount Glorious the other day when Eloise went back to Nursery.

It rained. Should've expected it really, what with it being a rainforest and all.

Managed to avoid repeat of driving-down-Mt-Glorious-Road-in-wet-weather catastrophe. Owing to it only really having rained on East side of rainforest.

Still rain was heavy and quite soaking, both Nicole and I wet through, but soon dried out. Remember, it's summer here.

Rain Splashed Country

Sunburnt Country So this cyclone was wandering around over the Top End around Christmas time... it hit land as a category 4 storm if memory serves, which it probably doesn't, since I seem to remember the storm was called Larry.

Anyway within a couple of days of it hitting land it dispersed and soon enough central Australia started getting lots of rain, then it came over here... the Gold Coast has been flooded and we have had lots of rain here with some pretty good storms.

We went for a ride at the brook one day - Eloise insisted - and it looked like the water had been up over the footbridges.

We haven't had as much rain here as some have - even in South Brisbane they've had more than us - but the grass has gone mental and needed emergency mowing treatment.

Needless to say everyone is now convinced that the drought is over, as they are every time rain happens.

New Year

The Moment For New Years, after a week of barbies, swimming, walking, loafing, being rained upon, etc, we went to South Bank in the afternoon, where we swum in the very warm pool next to the artificial beach.

On the grass then amid the burgeoning crowds eating picnic whilst sproglet made a little friend with whom she argued around the playground. Inviegled her way into friend's mother's affections. Seen kissing friend's mother. Positively machiavellian.

Tried to find spot to take photos of fireworks show when 8.30 came around. Crowds thronging riverside. Difficult to find spot.

Found spot but when fireworks went off were up river where I had started! Only two blimmin barges involved - fireworks not scaled for size of crowd at all.

Clearly Brisbane focussing its energies on Riverfire and giving in to competition on NYE from Sydney.

Oh well.

Went home. Watched Lord of the Rings. Watched proper fireworks on telly. Went to bed.

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. End of the Noughties.

(Optional) Christmas Barbie Number 3

Lily the Dog Barbie number 3. on Boxing Day, was held chez Kerry-Lee and Marek's in Eaton's Hill. Their daughter knows our daughter cause they do ballet together, and Marek is an ex-Brit... they came over about the same time we did.

Eloise and I were the first there so we got to help put up the pergola/sunshade over the paddling pool and to tuck into the Xmas snacks, filling ourselves up very nicely and spoiling our appetites for the hot food.

On Christmas Eve, I may have neglected to mention, we went to a market in Kelvin Grove and got food for to eat and there I procured some carrot cakes and a rare bout of forward thinking. I remembered to bring the carrot cakes, though I did forget the togs, however a spare pair of these was arranged and all was happy.

Most of the other attendees to the barbecue were British or Brit-affiliated, so we talked about the weather.... in Britain... brrr, chilly! we though in the 30 plus degree heat.

Eloise and little Aemilia argued away amiably enough and mostly they were left to it. Eventually the heavens opened and things started to wind down.

It was the first serious heaven-opening of a week of serious heaven-opening. Kind of put a dampener on things really.

Obligatory Christmas Barbie Number Two

Eloise on a Log For Christmas Day, in between skypage and so on and so forth, we went out for Barbie Number Two.

The venue for BBQ#2 was a valley, in woods, so no danger of mountain breezes disrupting the fire. The barbecues were the basic variety requiring the combustion of wood beneath a hot-plate. PIne Rivers barbies.

I should mention to those of you without the know that I agreed to dogsit a dog (obviously) over the period of so-called-festive-cheer and said mutt was delivered on Christmas Day.

Whilst the mutt was delivered, Eloise and I were out on our second bike ride of the day with her ladyship riding pillion if that's the word on her new trail-along-bike that was her best christmas present ever.

The barbie doll from Santa that she found in her stocking was a hit too.

Along with all the presents she got from her generous public too, obviously. Those that made it past Matilda that is.

So anyway the mutt, whose name is Lily, is a short-arsed long-haired Spaniel type thing. In the forest we soon found out that the dog likes water. The muddier the better.

Whilst Nicole cooked and Eloise played Barbie, I walked the dogs, which was a successful all-round approach which kept everyone happy.

When I got back the barbie was crackling and soon we were munching on the Xmas snacks, filling ourselves up very nicely and spoiling our appetites for the hot food. Burp.

Nicole was on nights so we had to get home at some point, and complete the skype duties prior to getting the Excited One into bed.