Dec 30, 2011

Aussie Christmas 2011

Aussie Christmas 2011 So here we are, having our Christmas Barbecue.

Eloise was up bright and early and has rationalised the Spring Hill Santa Claus Busting, and so was delighted that the real Santa, not some cheapskate imposter, had been and eaten his mince pie (yum yum) and Rudolph had clearly enjoyed the carrot.

And, what joy! They had left her a skateboard and the Rosa book she really really wanted.

The rest of us slowly moved into awakefulness and before terribly long we were breakfasting on muffins and poached eggs, and soon we were out on our Christmas Dog Walk which was quite hot.

It's kind of difficult to feel Christmassy when the sun's out and the temperature's in the high 20s, but we struggle through don't we.

So it was back to present opening and Eloise bagged a feast while the rest of us schadenfreudenly unpacked our adult quotas.

I thank you all for your kind gifts.

Especially Faye who afforded us a happy (and I use that word advisedly) hour or so on a star projector kit made from cardboard. Kind of the Ikea equivalent of a planetarium, only damn fiddly, and you have to make your own stars. With a pin. And we lost a bit.

Laters, we went out to the forest for a barbecue. We made Mum just around as we played football and frisbee.

At sunset we returned home, engorged. As is right.

Dec 24, 2011

Clear Springs Cottage

Clear Springs Cottage We have been away for a while.

After Nicole's graduation we decided to take a short break from the hurly-burly of urban life and go and hire a cottage in the countryside.

So we got this place down in New South Wales, near Byron Bay, which was nice, and not actually as far away as we thought.

And it had chickens. Which, given we have a girl and a dog, could go either of two ways.

Mrs Clever

Nicole has been studying for a little while for her Master's Degree in Being a Nurse. More specifically, being a Nurse Researcher.

She has had to write a dissertation and everything. Of course I'd like to take credit for the constructive comments and criticisms I made of her work as it progressed, but as it happens she didn't even ask me to proof-read it. And me with my finger on the pulse of grammatical rectitude and everything.

Anyhow I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Mrs Clever who now has two graduate degrees and a postgraduate degree under her belt.

I can take credit for making her attend her own graduation, as she didn't really want to, what with not being interested in standing up in front of a bunch of people and walking across a stage while dressed up in silly clothes - and who can blame her - but, you know, it's an occasion, isn't it.

So we toddled along and set through two hours of people standing up in front of a bunch of people and walking across a stage while dressed up in silly clothes, after some other people dressed up in slightly different silly clothes made dull speeches and before some other illustrious personage, also dressed in silly clothes, pontificated about something or other.

Luckily Eloise had to go to the toilet and so there was some respite.

Nicole was afraid of falling over, but she didn't. And she is now a Master of Advanced Nursing Practice. So good for her.

Dec 12, 2011

Christmas Cheer

Christmas Cheer Our hand was gently forced into putting up the Christmas Tree and bedecking it with lights and so on and so forth.

We'd previously attempted to buy and Advent Calendar. None was available without some sort of branded tie-in, so feeling that this somehow failed to capture the, you know, spiritual essence of Christmas, we refused to get one.

After all, when it comes to telling the story of the Nativity and all that, does Dora the Explorer really cut it? Or the Disney Princesses? Chuggington?

I mean I'm no Jesus-freak but really.

The Dreaded Carol Concert

We've been treated to spontaneous carol renditions at the dinner table for a while now as school-time rehearsals have been resonating in the proto-psyche.

The other day it was time to reap the fruits of the whirlwind as the class held their carol concert.

Punctual as ever I arrived just as things got underway so I found myself a little spot and pointed my camera in the general direction of the action as we were treated to Aussie Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Whotsit, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc.

It was nice.

And afterwards there was a slap-up buffet type thing. Nicole and Eloise had made some Banana Bread/Cake. It was a little crumbly. I had a few handfuls.

The Dreaded Dance Concert

And so, back to Dance School for us, for the Dreaded Dance Concert.

But with this school, no punishing schedule of rehearsals, costume fittings, photo-shoots, no outlay on tickets for the Queensland Conservatorium.

Just a simple concert at the Dance School.

Not that this was without its drawbacks: the room was big but the crowd was bigger, and there was no room to swing the proverbial cat behind the tape on the floor past which no member of the unsuspecting public could venture without fear of unspeakable injury.

But that was the only drawback really. The concert itself, in stark contrast to previous affairs which lasted for HOURS somewhere in the distance with kids dancing frankly not very well to rubbish music, indistinguishable from one another under layers of stage makeup, this was short with the kids right in front of us, and the dancing was actually OK! Less said about the music though, the better.

Oh, and Eloise got a "high merit" for her ballet exam too. From the Royal Academy of Ballet.

She took the sun away with her

Boat on a waning tide In the morning after school drop-off it was time for airport drop-off, with Mum away on some travels.

And do the weather drew in. As usual bad weather indicates a trip to the beach, though this was more to do with it being near the airport than anything.

Dec 10, 2011


Cultural Precinct, Brisbane It was Mum's birthday then, and not to be discouraged by her injury we frog-marched her from one thing to another.

In the morning, before school, we took breakfast at a local coffee shop and ate unusual things. I had toast with something or other on top, involving honey and some kind of non-cheesy cheese. There was probably salmon and such like things, though maybe not. Lots of coffee though.

Then we had a morning tea to attend at the school, in recognition of the parent helpers, such as our reasonably good selves.

In the afternoon there was dog walking to be done, though the leg conveniently needed to be rested.

In the evening we went out to West End and ate at a Tibetan Restaurant, though none of us chose Tibetan food. It wasn't bad though.

Still fighting off the jet lag, the Birthday Girl was in bed before too long.

We'd seen there was a Matisse exhibition going on. I looked it up on the Interweb and unfortunately "going on" was actually "going to be going on" but we decided to head down to town anyway and have a traipse around the Galleries and whatnot.

Modern Art, hey.

Dec 8, 2011

Inverted Visitor-Weather Correlation

The Path to the Beach I was expecting rain, protracted rain, for Mum's visit, but it was sun, sun, sun all the way, or at least for most of it, as far as Leg One was concerned.

Legs and liquid were however a theme. Legs, and the liquid that leaks from them.

We spent a couple of days trying to keep her awake, successfully as it turned out, by taking her to markets and feeding her with coffee, and making her ride bicycles.

She brought a child-sized violin. That was enough to keep the dead from their slumber.

We took her to the beach on a nicely sunny day and wandered up with the waves lapping at our feet. We gambolled, if that's the right word, in the surf, but Mother did not join us.

That day we were planning some sort of roast something and while "we" were cooking it the rest of "we" went to the playground for some play.

On the way back, on the bikes, a fateful decision for which I feel somewhat responsible, to take the shortcut home across the Oval (that's Australian for playing field, and it isn't oval), was made.

A chain of events was set in motion from which we could not back-pedal.

Eloise spoke of being tired. I held back to give her a push, and ended up saddled with her. Mum pushed on, unstoppable.

When we came to the "easement" (that's Australian for path) that connected the oval to our street, I observed the bike, prostrate and riderless.

I followed the trail of blood across the street to find dear old Mum sat down with red Mum-juice pulsing from a gashly gash on her shin.

Cutting a long story less long, Casualty: stitches: recalcitrance: bravery: stoicism: logistics. Not necessarily in that order.


Lovely weather though.

Dec 2, 2011

Swim Carnival

Things are coming to something of a culmination as far as the school year goes. The other day it was the end-of-year swim carnival for Year Ones, which involves a morning at the school pool, with a hundred and twenty kids swimming in a variety of events and at least that many parents and siblings observing. They should have warned me that I needed my ear protectors for the acoustic levels were challenging and somewhat enthusiastic.

It was a cloudy morning - initially - and Eloise rode to school in her swimming gear and we decamped to the pool as soon as we got to school. Pretty soon things got underway with the Freestyle events.

Events unfolded as follows: for each event an "Elite" event was held where kids who were selected by some means or other - some classes had time trials, others had kids who were already accomplished and members of the swim club - and then the remainder of the children did their thing in rapid-fire races.

Although Eloise isn't a bad swimmer there are several kids who are really very good in her class. One in particular, Lucy, is quite an amazing swimmer, and won every single race in every single stroke. Not only that but she broke every single record there was to break. Quite phenomenal. I don't recall the exact timings, but she completed a 25m freestyle in less that some small number of seconds and left the rest for dust.

Eloise's race came around. At swim school she'd just about got the freestyle looking good the previous week, keeping her body reasonably straight and her arms were getting less windmill-like. The only fly in the ointment really was that she'd lost her goggles and her hat somewhere between, well, somewhere and there. I procured some goggles on a temporary basis; she scored a free hat. Winner.

You can see the events as they unfolded. You'll notice the pause at the finish, where she thinks she's reached the end but hasn't. That's what 2nd place turning to 3rd place looks like. That's silver turning into bronze.

Anyway she did creditable on the backstroke, 4th place of 6, and skipped the breast stroke and the butterfly. They did request that only kids who could actually do the butterfly try it. Frankly I was kind of looking forward to the 25m flail.

Whilst all this was happening the sun came out and my skin turned pink.

Nov 23, 2011

Paws for a moment

A Bath for Aching Feet The temperature continues at several degrees above average. The sun is hot and the very air embraces us like a warm, slightly damp cloth.

Matilda, not really designed for heat, what with black fur and all that, has been shedding hair for weeks, creating drifts of the stuff in her wake. Post-walk she's just flopped down in a corner or a shady spot in the garden and panted. When she finds water, she likes very much to stand in it.

Tomorrow, though, it will rain.

Nov 21, 2011

Almost Summer

Almost Summer It's almost summer, and the temperature is climbing past 30 degrees. So what better time to break out the woolly hat!

Nov 20, 2011

Kids These Days

The backstory here is that we've had a few parties to go to this weekend, and one of them was a birthday party for Jessica who lives around the corner from us and who is in Eloise's class at school.

The Jessica Family wheeze for her birthday parties is to produce a CD for all the invitees which contains songs which are requested by them. So they nominate their favourite song of the year, and all the songs go onto CDs then the partygoers get them back.

Jessica's party was at the Skate Centre yesterday - and yes, I did skate - and Eloise put on her CD today whilst I was doing something or other of a domestic persuasion.

So I heard this song emanating through the house, which I happen to know is a class favourite as well as being totally unappreciated in any context other than being a bit catchy and something that everybody is apparently supposed to like. I have tried to explain who Mick Jagger was/is, but just got blank looks.

Anyway, I poked my head around the corner to see Eloise in action, and whipped out the camera phone.


Jacaranda The Jacarandas have been out in force this year, perhaps reflecting the general moistness and the explosion of vegetation everywhere. It has been a good year to be a flora. Although November is shaping up to be the dryest on record, with the Official rain guage having registered no millimetres, in defiance of the nocturnal emission that awoke me a couple of weeks ago but which had evaporated by the morning.

Notwithstanding all that the blossoms of the jacaranda tree, prone to emerge in October stroke November, evoke cliches of chromatic unrest, striking and rioting as they are and do.

They rain from the trees as they go, leaving magenta shadows beneath the trees which soon fade to a sharp-smelling yellow-brown.

You might observe, incidentally, the monstrous pile under construction behind this tree, an edifice of monumental size which leaves not a square metre untapped for lifestyle exploitation, spreading the identikit tentacles of boutique urbanity with its grey-and-white homoge to build-it-quick and sell-it-fast. The real estate ad features computer simulation pictures.

Nov 8, 2011

Waiste Not

It was the annual rubbish pick-up weekend in our little nook of Brisbane last week. This is a tradition whereby those who don't have the facility to take large pieces of rubbish to the tip can leave them by the side of the road and the Council will collect them.

Perhaps it's an unintended consequence, but what in fact transpires is a mass recycling activity, with people cruising the streets inspecting the stacks of stuff to see if there's anything worth salvaging.

Eloise got a hula hoop, and wasn't afraid to use it.

We took a ride up the street and bagged ourselves an old but functional stereo stack, record player, cassette player and all.

The irritating thing was that some dastardly dastards of debris redistribution thought it would be a profitable enterprise to extract the oh-so-valuable copper from anything electrical. They achieved this by chopping the mains lead off everything they could, thus rendering the appliance practically useless to anyone else.

So we had to forego what may or may not have been a working whipper-snipper and any number of other things that had been crudely emasculated.

Oct 30, 2011


Vampire As Hallowe'en falls on a schoolnight we did our duty this weekend.

We went to the costume shop yesterday. Eloise has oscillated between wanting to be a vampire and a skeleton. She didn't like the skeleton suit at the shop so we were back to vampires, and bought some teeth and fake blood. Eloise scented the chance of some clothes and decided she wanted to be a fairy princess vampire in the hope of securing a pink dress, but that was vetoed at the prices they were charging and unfortunately the op-shops were closed by that time.

A good thing really since as it turned out Eloise and Hallowe'en aren't yet fully on terms intellectually.

She tried her teeth but then decided she didn't like them, and opted for regularly dressed with fake blood. I thought she looked pretty good in her vampire teeth, but she wasn't having it.

I had stick-on vampire incisors but the putty didn't work, and they didn't stick on. So I too was regularly dressed but liberally spattered with fake blood.

We visited a few friends who had been pre-warned. Not for us cold-calling trick or treat rejection.

In other news, Nicole is off to Sydney this weekend for a conference. Having flown with Qantas, she's now stranded, treated with the same casual contempt shown to every other customer as they psychotically took their entire fleet offline in response to some one-hour stoppages and militant red-tie wearing.

So we'll see her when we see her.

Oct 27, 2011

Eloise, Eloise, Where Have You Been

We've been to South Bank, to visit the Queen.

I sort of mentioned on Monday morning to Eloise that the Queen would be in town, and would she like to see her; she seemed quite keen. I thought it might be the sort of thing that memories that really endure are made of, and an opportunity that probably shouldn't be missed, so I cleared it with Anderson the Teach and arranged to pick her up at 11 o'clock when they have "Little Lunch."

And, equipped with the tow-along bike, and a back-pack full of lunch, off we set down the road. No punctures this time! But that tow-along doesn't half make riding difficult, especially the uphill bits going down the bike track from Victoria Park to Roma Street Parklands.

There were some cool downhill bits though where we picked up quite a clip, and going across the Kurilpa Bridge was nice.

As we got near South Bank we started to encounter crowds, and decided to ditch the bike, locking it to a railing, before proceeding on foot into the heart of the human maelstrom.

The sun was quite strong on the concrete apron of the Cultural Forecourt as we ambled around the back of the crowd. We bought some flags and Eloise waved them around my face for a while, irritatingly, before settling down to munch on her food.

We were early and had time to pick a spot where we thought we might get a good view of the proceedings, and a huge TV screen had been installed carrying a feed from Channel 7 showing pictures of the boat carrying the Queen up the river on a seemingly eternal voyage to us.

We couldn't estimate how many people were awaiting her. The crowds were four or five deep around the railings. It soon became clear that Eloise would need to be shoulder-mounted in order to see anything and I would be the blind conveyer.

And so it transpired as, after much waiting, cheers arose in the distant crowd by the river and slowly made their way towards us.

Eloise was given the phone and agreed to make a video. "Can you see her?" I asked - "Yes I can see her" was the reply. "Are you getting pictures of her?" ".... Yes..."

Well according to the ladies nearby, she was wearing a lovely lime green outfit, and didn't it suit her, she wore something similar on occasion such-and-such. I didn't see a thing. I'd thought for a moment that I had a convenient dip in the landscape of headwear in front of me, but then the hands went up with cameras and phones and i-Pads(!), and the Queen is a little old lady anyway, and the potential view was obscured.

Before long the show was over and we headed back, struggling up the hill and stopping for a Mars Bar before delivering Eloise back to school for 2pm, tired out.

Later, she vomited copiously with probably heat-stroke. But she was fine the next day, so it was worth it! Probably!

Oct 19, 2011

Soldiering On

Ballet Exam So poor Eloise hasn't been too well!

She went to bed on Friday night with no apparent problems, but took herself off to the toilet about an hour later and emptied herself orally into the toilet, beginning a cycle of vomiting that lasted most of the night.

Eloise manned the brow on Saturday whilst I did dog walking and market visiting, and Eloise slept for a while but woke up later (not literally) on fire and with a stiff neck.

Apparently this is among the symptoms of meningitis so I got a call from Nicole suggesting a might finish my business at the market and head home, and not being one to second-guess the medical profession, I duly finished my business at the market and headed home.

We hot-footed it casually down to the hospital and within ten minutes we were ensconced in an emergency room with a doctor giving her the once over, noticing inconvenient things like lizard bites and early-stage ear infections before pronouncing her infected with some gastroenteritic thingummybob and proceeding with miracle treatment.

A strawberry flavoured wafer of anti-vomit stuff was placed upon her tongue by way of confirmation and a little later some Nurofen before rehydration was carried out using ice pops and fruit cordial.

The pasty girl soon had colour draining back into her cheeks and was soon exchanging cheeky faces with the nurses and a couple of hours later we were out of there, much happier.

Still not quite right, she was a little distressed when she remembered that she'd missed her practice for her ballet exam on Tuesday and resolved to be better in time for her lesson on Monday. Which was impressive commitment, I thought.

Alas this was not to be as she started soon to complain about a sore ear, so the Paracetamol and Ibu-stuff dosage continued and on Monday morning an appointment with the GP made.

She insisted on going to her ballet class and given how important it obviously was we let her go to ballet but she had to miss Acro so she could visit the nice doctor.

The doctor diagnosed something complicated like Bullisotitis Media - which translates as tons of pus in her middle ear, so we added antibiotics on to the meds list.

She still made her ballet exam on Tuesday.

Hopefully back to school tomorrow. Mum's doing Tuck Shop.

Storm Season

Storm Season With the read on the Southern Oscillation Index showing another La Nina year, and record rainfall in the North (500+mm so far this week), we had a few days of storms last week.

They rolled in from the West in the afternoon. Last Thursday we went to Yoga and the clouds were rolling in as we set off. The heavens opened a minute or so before we arrived and we made it the ten metres from the car door to the front door of the Uniting Church getting only slightly drenched.

It absolutely hammered down for about an hour and there was water lapping at the door for a little while.

We had another on Saturday (Friday's didn't arrive where we were) which was more of a damp squib but it rained pretty heavily for a little while and there was hail mixed in with it as well.

When the hail started I decided to bring the car in and made it the ten metres or so from the front door to the car door getting only thoroughly drenched before bringing the car in, and the rain stopped.

Oct 14, 2011

Drumming for Africa

Drummer We settled down for lunch in the African Zone near a large safari tent. The chaotic rumble of twenty random rhythms from the palms of babes rolled out across the grassland.

We ate then ambled over to have a look, and settled down to bash out some beats. Before long it was apparent that a "workshop" was about to occur as some African Gentlemen came out and started everyone doing some drumming in something approaching a semblance of coordination.

Eventually Jessica and her folks pitched up and soon we set off on the train back to Zoo Central before visiting the Kangaroos, Koalas, Elephants, Tigers, and so on.

We avoided the Crocoseum, thankfully.


We had Eloise's friend Hannah over for a sleepover at the weekend. Like Eloise, Hannah is... spirited.

There was fun and games, especially around bedtime when they got out a huge stuffed toy snake and proceeded to tie me up with it and assault me. I had a bit of a Tom Jones moment when they started throwing underpants at me, but the less said about that the better.

Anyway they were in bed by nine o'clock or so and things were quiet for a while and I thought that the amazing had happened and they had actually gone to sleep.

But my complacency soon found me out and it seemed that Eloise was not for sleeping, but rather for craft-related secret activity, and general frolicking.

I removed her from the room around 11 o'clock and posted her into the "guest" bedroom but she came and looked at me and said "Sleepovers are about spending time with your friends, you know."

"Well you can go back in there but it's time for sleeping now. Sleepovers are after all for sleeping."

At 12.30am I removed Eloise forcibly once more.

Within 30 seconds both were asleep.


Leaves in the wind School Holidays are behind us now.

Week one was punctuated by daily swimming classes, at the end of which Eloise was pronounced to have achieved a level of competence commensurate with elevation from Fish to Little Dolphin, or something.

Which means she's not doing too badly for a little nipper; she needs to work on keeping her body straight whilst doing freestyle and the arms could be less windmilly. Sometimes it all comes together and she swims like a fish - erm, little dolphin - but mostly it doesn't, quite.

We went to see Justine Clarke in concert, which was chaotic. The little girl sitting on my left kept prodding me. Eloise was a bit non-plussed I think. The performance was very far away.

Eloise has spent a lot of time with her friend Jessica. She went over there for a sleepover whilst Nicole and I ate ourselves silly for her birthday. We were going to see a film too but Nicole contrived some flimsy excuse to go home so she could burn stuff in the chimenea that Josie (et al) got for her.

In the second week, we didn't do much, or did we... bike riding, science museum, other stuff... the zoo...

We went to the Zoo with the intention of meeting up with Jessica and her folks. Eloise was very keen, I not so much so. Australia Zoo is a bit ghastly if you go to the wrong places. It's a bit un-Australian to say it probably but last time we went the whole Steve Irwin thing was a bit ghoulish, the exortations to shout "Crikey!" in the "Crocoseum" embarrassing.

To be confronted at the entrance by a life-size bronze of the whole Irwin family was a little disheartening then, but trading messages to found out where Jessica's folks were soon led us away, thankfully, from the heart of darkness and towards the Elephants.

I was flummoxed by the map and came to the conclusion that we should catch a train to the Elephant Area on the far side of the zoo. I became mentally discombobulated! And confused the Elephant Zone with the African Zone! And we got on the wrong train! Without hope of return!

The extremely distant African Zone was quite entertaining, if not for the animals then for the drums.

Sep 25, 2011

Mess Fuss

Today we decided to ride our bikes down to South Bank to go to the Science Museum. Nicole made some picnic nibbles while I went and power-walked the dog, and when I got back we mounted our trusty steeds (Eloise on her tow-along for long-distance riding) and set off.

The ride down the hill at Kedron Brook Road is a bit helter-skelter but we took it easy and free-wheeled down at a cool 40 before Eloise blew her tyre on the junction and the whole trip had to be abandoned, with Nicole riding back up the hill to get the car, loading up the tow-along into the car and driving back whilst I rode up the hill.

We were about to set off again when we realised that Eloise hadn't brought her Science Museum passcard, whereupon it all descended into chaos and acrimony as it turned out she didn't know where it was, or where her wallet was, or where anything was actually and months of simmering resentment over messiness and disorganisation and clutter nestled its way between the family folds and poked its nose out to say hello again. "You're just a mess fuss" she says. "A mess fuss."

And so it came to pass that a nice afternoon at the Science Museum morphed into a not-so-nice afternoon of tidying and throwing stuff we don't want - and she doesn't need - away.

On the plus side, she got a new bookcase. She enjoyed building it too. On the other plus side, her bedroom is nice and tidy. And her downstairs "study" area.

On the minus side, rather like the European Debt Crisis, I suspect that nothing has really been solved and that even though more storage space and scope for organisation has been created, the opportunity will be squandered and stuff will still just be dropped at the very moment and location that attention evaporates.

Crumbs from the Table

The beggar is the only person in the universe not obliged to study appearance While Nicole cooked, cause that's what se enjoys, Eloise and I played ballgames whilst Matilda sniffed around.

Come eating time the dog came back to beg, as is her habit, but had some competition from the local bird-life.

This bird is an Australian Magpie. Nicole here, determinedly unterrified, is outside her comfort zone, for it is Magpie Season at the moment and in suburbia these cute birdies with their melodious song mercilessly swoop bike riders with the temerity to approach their territory.

One drew blood on me a couple of days back down at Kedron Brook. When we go to school, there's one at Lanham Park who must know me by sight. I can see him a hundred metres away eyeball me and then cruise like some demented missile towards me before stretching out his claws to pluck out my eyes.

Eloise thinks it's hilarious of course, she revels in even the possibility of my pain.


Birthday Barbie The seasons are turning and it's getting warm again come evening time.

What more reason does the cuisinically orientated pyromaniac need to light the fire, char the sweet potatoes, and re-learn the art of barbecuing?

Sep 18, 2011

Dog Competition

Eloise, Matilda and Lottie On the catch-up front, a while ago Eloise's school held their bi-annual Fete.

We decided, for better or worse, to enter Matilda into the God With the Shiniest Coat competition, after Eloise decided to put her in for the Best Dressed Dog competition. With the dubious results you see above on her rehearsal attempt, we changed her mind for her.

Coincidentally Lottie the dog moved out from over the road that day, as Lauren has moved out of Valerie's house and taken the yapping little terror with her.

Eloise seems OK, so far.

As far as the Fete went, it rained torrentially (an island of wet in an ocean of dry) and Matilda didn't win her competition, though she behaved herself admirably.

I spent time watching Eloise petting chickens and goats while puddles grew around me, and we exited around 4 o'clock.

Sep 13, 2011


A week or so ago, Nicole's social life took off with a bang as she finished her dissertation for her Master's Degree in Being Very Clever.

She went to the Riverfire Ball, a work thing, at the Customs House in the city. 

Her afternoon consisted of beautification of the follicular tress variety. Whilst she was undergoing her Calypso-like transformation we mortals went and walked the dog up at Mount Coot-tha, achieving a 5km circuit around the Waterfall Walk in time to pick up the new Goddess of Beauty (and I mean that most sincerely) and take her to Marion's house for a spot of off-the-cuff accessorisation.

At home for a little while, I cooked and we mortals ate whilst Nicole dressed herself.

I could tell you an amusing (if you're male) or frightening (for everyone else) story about the dress she borrowed from her beautification consultant, squeezed into, then tested beyond its integral limits through the irresponsible act of inhaling, but I won't.

Anyway, she was due in town around 6.30 so we set off to drop her at the Temple of Fun before attempting to make a rendez-vous across the river with some friends.

With the fireworks due to start around 7, it became quickly clear that we would be rendez-vousing with no-one, as the bridges were closed and traffic was slowing. Oh, the small fact that we (I) got lost in the grid is a mere detail I feel safe in glossing over.

The city ejaculated us in a Northern direction, and with bearings secure, we joined the slow moving traffic which deposited us eventually at a multi-storey par cark where we de-carred and headed into the Valley, a slow trudge that took in many shop windows and interesting diversions.

As we climbed the final hill and the Story Bridge heaved its ironwork and electric bunting over the crest, the river expanding beneath us and the city monolithic behind, the fireworks began.

Normally I despise the badly-edited hotchpotch of so-called contemporary "pap" that seems to pass for dramatic complement to fireworks. In this case it was inaudible, a considerable blessing. Instead our ears were assaulted by drumrolls of explosive percussion, our eyes constricted by coruscations of light spat from every available iron orifice, and our senses tingled by the untuned Ooohs and Aaahs of the crowd.

Eloise climbed on my shoulders and stuck a cuddle toy in my face. Then she climbed some rocks for a better view. Then she went into the crowd to see what she could. Then she came back.

After about twenty minutes of whizzes, bangs, firework flowers, white waterfalls, searchlights in the sky, but no jets, the fireworks finished and off we went home.

Book Week

Rain Starts Play In a reprise of last year's Book Week, Eloise dressed up as Lettice the Rabbit; although reminded that last year Lettice was not well-known or well-recognised, she decided that this year would be different and besides she wanted to wear her rabbit ears and flower girl dress.

As it went, nobody knew who Lettice was. But she didn't care this year.


OHMS Around the time of the Royal Wedding Eloise sent a note of well-wishes to Wills and Kate.

The other day a nice postcard arrived thanking her impersonally for her kind letter.

She was very excited about that.

Aug 18, 2011

Ekka As Usual

Ekka Cowshed After the ride stopped and we were released, we continued around shedding money like dandruff. Laughing clowns, log flumes, dagwood dogs, etc, before we retired to see some animals.

As usual the chick patting and animal petting were popular, and we visited the cowsheds wondering if the daughters would start to ask awkward questions about the bullocks'.... addendums.

The weather began to close in a little as we broke for lunch (lunch! ha!) but we laughed in its face and went for round two of chicken and animal patting before leaving as darkness fell.

We went back via the food hall, where we were to pick up some strawberries and marshmallows, on a stick, innit, when we suddenly noticed Eloise's disappearance.

A dog-whistle soon brought her back though. Good that she knows how to come back when called.

Fairground Contraption

Fairground contraption So it's Ekkatime again.

This year, we went along with some other folks, and the extra adults enabled us to visit Sideshow Alley and the worryingly gravity-defying machines of fear without merely looking.

Eloise, now tall enough to go on the little roller-coaster, was keen to do so, and I went on there with her.

It was only a tiddler, and pretty lame by comparision with some of the other catapults of doom, so I was pretty confident.

But it must be ten years since I went on my last one (I can't even remember it) so when the inevitable chasm of freefall opened beneath us, yes, I squealed like a baby along with the others in our little spinny tea-pot.

Sam, one of our companions, was determined that we should sample the joys of one of the Mangonels of Mirth and we reluctantly acceded. She chose one for us which was like a counterweighted industrial catapult with a centrifugal pin wheel on one end which in turn had three arms upon which were mounted the seats of torture.

As we were strapped into our seats Nicole and I looked at one another as if to say -well, this is a bad idea, but it's too late to turn back now... and as the motors kicked in and we started moving I began to express my predicament colourfully.

I remember a moment when we were hanging upside down fifty metres up in the air, looking up/down at the carpark with the tiny figures beneath us, and experiencing a moment of clarity where any doubts about the mechanical integrity of this ludicrous machine that we had actually parted with money to be strapped to disappeared and the only sensible thing to do was to just enjoy it. Or endure it.

And as the wind started and my cheeks were pulled back past my ears and my legs clung on for dear life and my arms decided they should really be somewhere else and the carpark approached mercilessly and inexorably I just groaned.

Aug 6, 2011

I, Mac

Just Me and Ma Dawg Grandma Shirley and Grandad Brendan sent Eloise a nice mac.

Eloise wore it to school. I told her she needed to take it off while she was in class. I have it on good authority that as soon as my back was turned, it went back on.

We went to yoga. We had things to do so we left her there. I told her she shouldn't do yoga in it. I have it on good authority that as soon as our backs were turned it went straight back on again.

So, all in all, a success.


Safety First And then it was time for us to go home, and escape Sydney's freezing climes to the subtropical comfort blanket of sunny Queensland, school and normality.

Eloise finished off her ant-ear-popping sweets before we took off, but to be honest I don't think aeroplanes pop your ears the way they used to.


Acro I awoke with a blistering headache, the kind you get from inhaling paint and varnish fumes and lack of coffee.

I sought to alleviate these symptoms at root cause by removing myself from the house and its attendant miasmas and heading down to the coffee shop, which I hoped would be at the bottom of the street.

There was also the small issue that I had no idea how to work the coffee machine.

The walk and coffee probably would have helped, and did a bit, but I thought it prudent to topup with a painkiller, and eventually this sorted things out.

In the meantime there was fun to be had by children, and who are we to stand in the way of that, so we headed off to the playground where Jarrah got on his scooter and repeatedly won "The Piston Cup," regardless of his actual position in any race.

Eloise combated his scooter advantage by outdoing him at climbing.

Jul 31, 2011

Sydney Skyline

Sydney Skyline I trained it down to Circular Quay then walked up by the Opera House and round the bay to Mrs Macquarrie's Chair.

There's no chair. Is there a chair? I didn't see a chair.

There's a Botanical Garden, and the city right next to it.

I was back in time for tea.


Newtown Boy So by hook or by crook or by asking some passers-by, we established the road that we were looking for, a whole ten feet from where we were asking, and headed up to take the load off our feet.

Julie and Gary had just that day moved back into their house after extending it upwards so the place was redolent with the fragrance of new carpets, paint and varnish and the chaos of moving-in stuff like boxes and nonsense.

Gary and Jarrah had a pre-existing date with the Newtown Jets so we tagged along to watch the Footie (as they call the Rugby here). Eloise met a boy, only a day younger than her. I think there was chemistry.

The Oval where we went was well-drained and children played around the periphery as the game was played on the field. At half-time everyone piled onto the field for a kick-around. Every score heralded a different version of the Team Song over the tannoy and some guy on a penny farthing tanking around the field with a big flag and a high-five for everybody.

Back at the pad, Nicole pitched up eventually and after dinner Eloise read a story to the kids before going to bed.

The next day was Sunday so we went to the Park, partially flooded, and generally knocked around doing not an awful lot.

Later I took myself into the city to do some photos. Quiet.

The Luggage

22 - 13:12:42 - Sydney Central After gorging ourselves in the pub that night, we retired for our last night in the apartment.

For tomorrow we were going down to Newtown to see Julie and Gary and their sproglets Jarrah and Geneve.

This left us with some interesting conundrums logistically, around luggage.

We weren't due in Newtown until the afternoon, and checkout time was 10.00am. So the luggage had to be left at the hotel while we went seeking breakfast and presents.

We didn't have a particular idea of where we were going, so we thought we'd go the the coffee shop we'd ridden out the rain in for a spot of breakfast.

No ponchos today, the sun was actually coming out!

No breakfast either though, the coffee shop was closed.

So we struck off in a random direction and ended up at a place called Paddy's Market where we managed to kill all birds with one stone.

Downstairs, covered industrial markets, more stalls than you could shake a stick at, presents sorted.

Upstairs, shopping centre, food court, breakfast procured.

Rather than walk all the way home, Eloise suggested that she'd been promised a ride on the monorail, and so it came to pass that we rode the monorail around Darling Harbour, across the Pyrmont Bridge and back to the Convention Centre.

Baggage reclaimed, we headed off to find a train. On foot.

Which in retrospect was a miserly move which may have been counterproductive, as there were many bags, and not many feet, and some distance to go to the nearest station.

So somewhat tired as we got our tickets and traveled to our platform, to find it closed.

And increasingly confused as we struggled to work out where we needed to be to get to Central Station where we would change trains.

But got there eventually we did, then further confusion with platforms there, which were closed also, except Central has literally tens of platforms, so slightly more challenging. And Eloise lost her ticket. Hmmm.

Eventually we got out to Newtown and started tramping down King Street in the general direction of Julie and Gary's house.

I knew I should have written down their address.


Shaking off the ennui of the inclement outdoors, and spying a break in the weather, we donned our larcenous ponchos like the fashion criminals we were and headed off to the nearest Museum available, the Sydney Powerhouse, a mere five-minute trudge away.

Around about the time we/I realised that we/I had taken a wrong turn to land us on the salubrious forecourt of the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, the heavens opened with some seriousness. Ascending some stairs which were in danger of becoming waterfalls, we spotted a coffee shop in which we ate cake and drank refreshments whilst awaiting the abatement of the downpour.

Downpour completed, we made our way onwards past the other side of the Thorpedo's Pool to the Museum, where after a little fuss we were able to book in our ponchos to the cloakroom and proceed into the Powerhouse.

We cruised around in there for a good few hours, exploring the cavernous spaces filled with steam trains, aeroplanes, spaceships and huge machines.

Eloise took it upon herself to draw a picture, so I turned my back for five minutes to look at a nearby exhibit, and she legged it.

A nice Museum lady brought her back. Non-panic over.

Later, in the space-ship hall, she legged it again, and the same lady brought her back again.

Later still, near the Interactive Playground of Electronic Amazement, she hoofed it once more, and the same lady reunited us once more.

Later still, we saw our lady and she just gave the urchin a look that said "No running away, you."

Jul 27, 2011

Heart of Dampness

Heart of Dampness Our apartment (in Strine they call it a Unit) overlooked a wonderfully pictorious motorway. On the other side of the motorway was a railway. On the other side of the railway was the Convention Centre, Nicole's base of operations.

Luckily there was a covered walkway which ran from the hotel directly to the Convention Centre, ensuring relatively dry transit.

Rainy Day in a Strange City

Rainy Day in a Strange City One way or another the ponchos got us back safely to home base, so we went for a swim in the building pool. Another couple of hours of bubbly fun.

Then it behoved us to visit the local shop, which was another poncho-centric paddle challenge. Eloise had to be carried over some of the streams that were flowing over the urban landscape.

Later on Nicole came back with her chum/colleague Julie who was staying in the hotel. She stayed for supper, an unremarkable effort cooked by yours truly.

The next day the rain had failed in any meaningful way to relent. And so we conquered the complexities of hotel TV to get the Foxtel going and watched kiddie drivel and played DS all morning until I could take it no longer.

Jul 25, 2011

Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Aquarium Sydney Aquarium held great promise for us, so much so that we expected a full afternoon's worth of entertainment, and had cut our swim in the hotel pool down to a mere few hours in anticipation.

I say swim, but I suppose that's just slightly dishonest as the water in what's technically referred to as the "lap pool" was far too cold to actually enter, so we frolicked instead in the spa pool with bubbles activated for prolonged periods of time. Very Bohemian.

The hotel was quite odd, apparently a converted woolstore. Presumably there had been a huge internal space because a huge internal space had been left with walkways punctuated by oak beams alternating with dizzying drops to the floor far below and dizzying heights to the roof far above, with the various landings receding into the distance in every direction.

Anyway the Aquarium afforded us a few hours of entertainment, but at the end of the day an Aquarium is an Aquarium and it didn't afford us too many surprises. There were two pools with glass tunnels running through them, which was one more than Mooloolaba, and the whole place didn't stink of fish, which was better than Kelly Tarlton's in Auckland.

But the real plus with a minus concealed inside was the fact that the cafe had blue plastic ponchos for sale. The plus was obvious, the minus could be split neatly into 1) the poncho was too big for Eloise and she kept standing on it and 2) everyone thought would looked like idiots and 3) they were right.


Darling Harbour Nicole had a conference to attend down in Sydney for a few days, so it made sense to go and see Julie and Gary for the weekend, so it made sense for Eloise and I to tag along too. So it made sense to book an apartment, and whoever it is out in Drugsland who mysteriously pays for such things, well it made sense to ask them, and for whatever reason it made sense for them to say yes.

So with all this sense going on, of course it made sense for Sydney to get a month's worth of rain in the few days we were there.

Whilst Nicole was at her conference, a confident stone's throw from the hotel, Eloise and I, without the umbrellas we hadn't packed, since it made sense to assume that the weather in Sydney would be nice, because after all when isn't it, braved the elemental deluge, and made our way to the other side of Darling Harbour to (ironically enough) the Sydney Aquarium.

Jul 11, 2011

Jul 4, 2011

Winter Swims Tend to Shortness

Aquarius The other day, after the habitual dog walking, Eloise and I decided to go to South Bank.

I thought it might be nice to visit the Museum, maybe have a sandwich.

So I thought it a little odd that Eloise was putting on her swimming costume, but she's sartorially individual, shall we say, and was wearing the habitual three pairs of socks, so I took it in my stride and we hopped into the car and set off.

Half way up the road a little voice came from the back: "Oh no, I've forgotten my goggles!"

"And why would you be needing those?"

"Well for swimming of course."

"And what about the towel, then, and the change of clothes?"

So after equipping ourselves (I put on some trunks underneath my jeans, in case of emergency) we set off again to sample the winter delights of the South Bank swimming complex.

It should be said that after the floods, South Bank has been out of action, and the pools reinstated to their full glory only recently. The artificial beach had to be de-sanded, the sand disinfected, and the pool repaired.

But now re-opened, in she hopped up to her ankles before pronouncing it far too cold.

So we headed up to the water park, and she waded around in there, and gamboled in the fountains for all of three or four minutes before insisting that we retire to the changing rooms, then grab an ice cream.

We did make it to the Museum in the end, though.

Jun 27, 2011

Brisbane Winter Festival

Brisbane Winter Festival Nicole has been cock-a-hoop with anticipation over re-living her childhood by going ice-skating.

Over the past week there's been an ice rink set up in King George Square beneath the City Hall in Brisbane.

We went down there with Eloise's little chum Jessica and her family. Nicole procured a nice little package where we all went skating and got cups of hot chocolate afterwards. And we got to keep the cups too.

We sampled Brisbane's public infrastructure while we were at it too, parking down by the hospital and climbing on a bus which whisked us into town on the dedicated busway through the purpose-built bus stations, architecturally more like railway stations, which are hidden away out of sight. It's quite an experience if you don't know it's there, and it ran as smoothly as clockwork, to mix metaphors a little.

King George's Square was a-throb with activity. The ice-skating rink was accompanied by various stalls selling gluhwein, hot chocolate, hot dogs, and european winter fayre of various descriptions, mostly Transylvanian.

We got on the rink pretty smartly, having fitted our skates to our feet, and off we went rather uncertainly. Nicole had arranged some seals (or bobbies as they were inexpicably referred to) which were basically glam plastic sledges that a passenger could optionally sit on. Anyway pushing one of those thingies gets your weight distributed for skating and it's much easier.

Before long I, a debutant at ice-skating, was waltzing around the rink at maximum velocity with the sledge like, oh I don't know, Simon Curry? Or was it Chris Dean? on co-ordination-reducing steroids.

And afterwards, Transylvanian pancakes. Yum.

Nicole was grinning ear-to-ear by the end and it was almost inevitable that the experience was to be repeated yesterday with Marion and Hannah.

Jun 26, 2011

Here's a little video I made with the new camera I had to buy after the last one quite literally hit the dust.

We took Lottie out for a walk in the woods. This was a very popular move. Matilda didn't mind at all and took the puppy in her stride, completely. What fun we had, trying to train that dog to walk to heel. What jolly jolly fun.

Jun 21, 2011

Girl's Best Friend

Puppy Power

Valerie over the road has a new dog, a little puppy called Lottie.

Lottie is Eloise's new best friend.

When she gets home from school, invariably her first request is to go and visit Lottie. This can get a little monotonous, but gives me a chance to rehearse the arguments, to wit: a) she is not our dog, b) we have a dog of our own, c) you can't go into someone else's house all the time.

This generally cuts little ice and sheer pester power usually leads to a time-limited compromise.

So Eloise lets herself out of the gate, crosses the road (very sensibly), opens Valerie's gate, and the yapping begins.

Lottie is very fond of jumping up, and of sticking her tongue up people's noses.

Eloise is very fond of picking Lottie up, and sticking her underneath her arm.

Sometimes Eloise comes back in the allotted time, which is nice.

Sometimes Lottie comes back with her, which is less so.

Matilda kind of likes having Lottie come over, in an aloof kind of way. Lottie likes to jump up, and to stick her tongue up her nose.

Jun 19, 2011

Faking Sleep

Faking It Poor Eloise really hasn't got subterfuge conquered as a strategem yet.

Sometimes it's a mystery what she is trying to achieve, sometimes not, but often you'll be talking away with her in the car three minutes before arriving at the destination, then when the engine is turned off she is mysteriously asleep.

Saturday being a case in point, when we'd been to a birthday party in the morning and had to walk the dog in the afternoon. The intention - to avoid walking the dog - was pretty clear, as well as it's unlikelihood of success given the fifteen minute drive, but there she was, in the back, suddenly asleep, apparently.

The Local Corella Gang

Australian Street Furniture There's a flock of corellas that are hanging around at the moment.

They're like cockatoos - well, they are cockatoos - but a little more high pitched in their squawking than our larger sulphur-crested variety.

They camp out on the power lines at the bottom of the street. There's a house on the corner with extensive bird tabulature. So in the morning and in the evening, the flock of corellas come to visit.

Jun 16, 2011


Reporting for Duty Nicole took delivery of some Ugg Boots today.

They are the mode du saison en Australie, as they are very unlikely to say.

As at is a little chilly in the evening at the moment, Nicole is delighted because they will make a significant contribution towards keeping her feet warm.

I've been wondering whether Ugg means something, or just derives from some caveman exclamation. I've discovered that they're manufactured by UGG Australia, albeit in China.... but Ugg boots go back to the early 20th Century where their story fades into the mists of history. According to wikipedia anyway.

Jun 14, 2011

House Removal

No Fixed Abode Mrs Perry toddled off to a home a little while ago, and her house was sold. We had heard on the grapevine that it was going to be taken away, and a new one built.

Yes, here quite often they don't worry too much about demolishing the old wooden houses. They take them away to a house graveyard and then other people buy them and install them, and live in them. Weird!

Anyway we had a run of reasonable weather this week (no rain) and with some preparations afoot it looked like this was the week.

They started off one day by taking down the stairs and removing some foliage and the fence from the front.

Another day they removed the roof tiles.

We wondered if they would chop the house into pieces, which they sometimes do.

But no, when it came to it, they came along with a bloody great truck which they reversed underneath it. Then they lowered the house onto it. Then the took off the roof timbers.

The council came along and pruned some trees so the power wires would be free.

And, in the dead of night, with a police escort, the house was gone.

Jun 9, 2011

Go Dancing

Lake Samsonvale While Eloise and Nicole were at dancing the other day (Eloise was dancing, Nicole reading a book) I took a quick jaunt up to Lake Samsonvale.

Eloise's class has three sessions - ballet, jazz and tap - and each goes for half an hour. She complains that it's hard work and that she gets bossed around a lot, usually just before going, then loves it when she's actually there.

She had a break last term and she's angling for another next term. She sees some merit in that pattern. In fact she might get a move to a dance school that's a bit closer to home where at least one of her little friends goes.

May 31, 2011

Urban Climb

Urban Climb This weekend saw a birthday outing for Eloise's class.

It was little Daisey's birthday and she was turning 5. Eloise is in a combination class of Preppies and Year Ones which is quite nice as it means she gets exposure to more kids, and as they're younger she probably looks after them, or something, knowing her.

The birthday party was to be a climbing party. A rock climbing party. That raised a few eyebrows...

I volunteered to be a belayer, that would be the chap that ties the ropes and stops the terrornauts from falling to their deaths.

Anyway we turned up at this place called Urban Climb. It's basically a warehouse with some big walls in it, and they're covered in colour-coded hand- and foot-holds.

We goggled a bit at the really impressive overhanging walls, wondering how on earth anyone was going to escape alive, then thought what the hell, presumably if the body count were too high, they'd probably get shut down or something.

After a while the volunteer belayers were taken to one side and training commenced. We learned how to tie bits of rope to harnesses and stuff like that.

And before long we were tying children to our pieces of rope and they were haring up the walls like little monkeys.

Eloise did particularly well. She was initially nervous but pretty soon she was up and down the walls in an inexhaustible cycle of climbing.

She got Daisey's Dad to belay her up the overhang and almost made it up the straight part using the difficult handknobs. Every time she fell off she was determined to try again and she was the proverbial last man standing at the end of the day.

She's agitating for a return visit already.

May 30, 2011

Matilda vs Humanity

Out in Public Somebody had the bright idea of taking Matilda to the market.

Eloise thought it would get her out of having to walk the dog.

Nicole thought it would be amusing. She said that she thought that Matilda would be fine. I don't believe that she really believed that.

I thought it was a bad idea. I put a post-it on the door to say "This is a Bad Idea."

But I was not listened to.

In actual fact, other than pulling us into flower beds a couple of times, she was OK. No dog fights. No stealing food from the mouths of babes, though she came pretty close to achieving a nearby metaphor.

If kids came up to stroke her I would look earnestly at the parent and intone "Don't get food near her."

That did some sort of trick.

May 24, 2011

To Market

To Market The score when we went to the market this week was as follows:

Made a list. Eloise made the list this time. So we ended up with 12 tomatoes.

Collected bags together.

Got dressed (her, not me).

And off we went, to Kelvin Grove. Drove around the block three times looking for a parking space, and began the amble, via the cash machine to the market.

Generally the market is negotiated in two passes: once up the way just to see what might be what and once the other way to perform the actual shopping.

There are distractions that have to be managed: dogs, shiny things, and so on. Eloise generally agitates for flowers and plants (to put in the garden these days rather than in a vase).

The essential shopping for veg takes place at a venue of discretion each week. Fruit takes place with Our Friend from Stanthorpe.

Plants and flowers are at the bottom end, and coffee from the Bunker people always rounds it off.

This time the bags were heavy with food and begonias. The amble back to the car was slow. Eloise had to carry the flowers.

May 18, 2011

A Day at the Races

A Day at the Races This apparent attempt at telepathy or telekinesis or something is actually the Ginger Preparedness Pose in the relay race.

Today was Sports Day at school. By the time we'd fandangled around in the morning eating breakfast in a sleeping bag (sleeping bag is popular at the moment) and putting off actually getting ready and then cycling into school (did I mention that Eloise is now an independent cyclist), which is probably about as quick as walking, Sports Day was about to begin.

I had to leg it home to get my camera and by the time I'd got back Eloise had completed the hundred metre dash and claimed second place.

I say she claimed second place... she claimed to me that she'd been in second place but as there was a ribbon that said "Second" on it for people who had achieved that accolate - a ribbon which she was self-evidently not wearing - I treated the claim with a dash of salt....

A little later, after I'd located her and then her hat, which had been deposited in some random location, and rubbed shoulders with my esteemed co-parents past and present, she ran the relay race as part of a Gordon (her house, red in shirt and claw) team, and lost.

They then had tug-of-war, which they also lost.

Then it was the parents vs Y7 in the tug-of-war. We showed no mercy. They were anni-hi-lated.

May 10, 2011

Cheek by Jowl with Nature

Carpet Python We woke up the other day around seven am, and Nicole went to open the window, then we laid back to listen to the rain and the radio for a while until Eloise woke up.

After a few minutes Nicole gave me a nudge, asked me to put my glasses on and have a look at the window.

"Oh yeah... it's a snake."

And sure enough a carpet python was making its way in through the window to ensconce itself upon the curtain rail.

Where it remained, in its newly discovered hiding place.

After a couple of hours (after dropping Nicole off a work and Eloise at school) I phoned the snake man to get his take on things and he said to leave it until midday or so (ie when he could come round) and see what happened.

At two o'clock it was still there, coiled up and comfortable, and the man came round, lifted it down as calm as you like, gave it a little stroke, pointed out the rat in its belly, popped it in a black cloth bag and that was that.

Apr 24, 2011

Damp Camp

Rainforest Leaves Nicole was fitter for duty the next day so we went on the customary walk while Josie sloped around at Base Zero with a book.

We then reverted to form and played cards and football and read books.

In the afternoon we went on a drive in the forest up to the excellent-sounding Point Pure Lookout.

Eloise was whingeing about this and that. In between bouts of out-of-school Literacy Hour. She forgot her shoes.

Anyway Point Pure was windy, and the clouds daunting.

The road though was better and eventually we found that this led back to the main road so we had found a less harrowing exit route for ourselves.

I was forced to remind the Slimms that the forest was, by law. not to be used as a source of firewood.

We set around the fire, upon our return, beneath umbrellas, the rain sizzling on the embers.

Afternoon Stroll

Brooyar State Forest In between showers, as the "lady-folk" got on with whatever it is that ladies get on with, I walked the dreaded dog once more.

The sun came out for me. Which was nice.

Camping: Fun As a Function of Facilities

Luxury Camping Nicole's cousin Josie came to visit last week, and we decided to go camping.

Avoiding the Easter rush, we pre-empted the exodus by a week. Nicole did a trawl of pet-friendly campsites on the internet and came up with Brooyar or Amamoor; Amamoor's access road had been cut off by the floods and was still incommunicado, so Brooyar it was.

Brooyar State Forest is up near Gympie, a few hours drive North of Brisbane. With an extra body in the car packing was a slight issue-ette so we downgraded our self-inflating mattress for yoga mats, and didn't worry about the duvets, settling for just plain old sleeping bags.

We were considering leaving the table behind but opted to leave that in, but I selflessly packed just the one change of clothes... plus a couple of extras, just in case of rain.

Still with all the optimisation things were still a bit of a squeeze but we made it up to Gympie where we stalled a while trying to find a place to sell firewood.... unsuccessfully.

Putting this pyro-Slimm-disaster to one side we headed off for the campsite and it turned out it wasn't too far out of town, up the Wide Bay Highway then a turn off.

At the end of the sealed road there was a Hallelujah Moment as the last Homely Homestead had firewood for sale. Deep Joy.

Then onto the gravel road, which wound its way into the forest. There were a few washouts and we began to realise the low-riding Mazda 3 once again is not the best for off-tarmac road war as unpleasant noises came from underneath while traversing with great care the washouts and ruts.

But eventually after 10km or so we arrived at the legendary camp site and headed for the facilities, which consisted of some composting toilets.

The tent went up without too much drama and as the sun went down the campfire went up and a glorious repast was served.

The camp site was nestled by Glastonbury Creek in a forested valley. A track led further into the hills and in the morning we headed up it.

Nicole wasn't too well, with a migraine, so she stayed behind to sleep it off, whilst the rest of us inched our way up the muddy track, eventually discovering a hiking trail that led up through a forest of grass trees and gums, across the ridge and back down to the campsite.

As we got back to the tent, the clouds started to roll in.

We played cards and read books for the rest of the day, relaxing. There was the occasional shower.

As the fire went up, the rain came down.

Apr 8, 2011

The Age of Responsibility

In the Woods Put it down to conformism or peer-pressure or whatever you like, but as time marches on, Eloise is asserting her independence more and more.

We're not allowed to pick her up from the classroom any more. Instead we must wait underneath the tree at the end of the courtyard for her to pack her pack, come down the stairs and deliver herself into our care.

She's even starting to carry her own bag, which is a step forward for independence, if not back health.