Feb 21, 2012


Party Bags. So the birthday has come around again, and this time Eloise opted for a rock climbing birthday at Urban Climb in West End down in the City.

Inspired by Ickle Daisey's birthday last year, she decided she wanted a party with kids haring up and down fake cliff faces.

All good, and easily organised.

The catering however was a different matter, and one to which Nicole as ever applied herself with aplomb and devotion, taking Rock as her theme, as you might expect.

We had Rock Candy, aka crystalised sugar sticks, crystalising all week, Rock Scones, Rockmelon, Popcorn Pebbles, and of course le piece de la resistance, the Mountain Cake.

Of course in Australia (as in other places, who knows?) when you have a party all of the attendees must be provided with party bags filled with cheap crap, so there was some cheap crap shopping thrown in there as well.

It was a busy day, with present opening (thanks to all who sent presents), dog walking, cake making, party bag packing, rock-candy presentation and all that guff.

And then the main event itself, three hours of rock climbing which went past in a blur of belaying, a cornucopia of climbing, a festoon of face-filling.

The nice thing was that practically all the kids (numbers were limited to ten or so this year, thanks be to the deity of your choice) had parents who looked after their belaying, so they were all at it nearly all the time, and up and down like the fabled Assyrian Empire.

And it was a hot day, so ten or so very sweaty kids by the end of it all.

We topped it off with an intimate pizza meal. Which was nice.

The next day Nicole was off on a jet plane to fulfil her daughterly role of emotional and logistical support to her mother following the timely but protracted and rather difficult passing on of Grandad Stuart.

Commiserations and condolences to her for her loss. Perhaps the coincidence of the birthday will help in the future to temper the feelings that the anniversary will bring.

Feb 12, 2012

Sunday Tree and Tunnel Fun

We had Hannah visit for the day today, Hannah who is Eloise's oldest and most faithful friend. They have stuck with each other through thick and thin and long and short from Nursery to school.

They are both single kids and have over the years had something of a combustible relationship, both being strong-willed, knowing their own minds, and not afraid of shall we say putting forward their views without let or hindrance.

Hannah dropped around about ten o'clock and being with us all day knew the score. The score being that certain tasks had to be completed before free time could be had. So she didn't mind when she found out that the dog had to be walked. I think she enjoys it actually.

Today we walked up the old disused railway track at Lanita Road near Camp Mountain. We started on the flat and veered up the hill on the right to loop back. Halfway up the hill a tree had fallen across the track, presumably after a recent storm.

Such an obstacle was no mere barrier to the little explorers. It was an opportunity for dangerous death defying devilry.

I spent a resigned half hour in the thirty degree heat, my forearms prickling with sweat as they worked their way up and down the tree seeing how far they could get walking and shuffling along. There was a puddle in the ditch by the side of the path, which was instantly promoted to a creek and then even to a lake, and this presented serious psychological difficulties which had to be surmounted.

Later, challenging the psychological boundaries, we visited a mysterious tunnel which disappears into the side of the hill and which we haven't dared venture far into. It's hewn from the rock and for me is a slight stoop in height but comfortable, if narrow, in width. It's dark, and as tunnels disappearing into hillsides often are for anyone who's read the Wierdstone, scary in a "who knows what could be down there" kind of way.

Hannah launched herself without a care in the world and marched down to the end, an embarrassing ten metres or so in, oblivious to the moths and the bats that started to flap around us.

"It's not scary," she stated. "I don't understand what there is to be scared of."

It bloody was scary. Bats are scary. Tunnels are scary.

Feb 11, 2012

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” ~Leo J. Burke

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” ~Leo J. Burke So by way of congratulations to my favourite brother and his favourite wife, on the occasion of the arrival of their daughter Erin, my new favourite niece, I offer a photograph of the other newborns we're following, the puppies from up the road.

I can't remember their names, but Eloise can.

Their growth has been prodigious.

You may have heard on the news, if you listen to news that's international in nature, that it's been raining cats and dogs in these parts, and that the floods are back in Queensland.

Not in this part, thankfully, though it did rain for a week and the Kedron Brook Floodway was once again living up to its name for a while. But no flooding here, unlike inland around Roma, Mitchell and suchlike places where inundation has been widespread.

Here, the sun is out again, and it has been hot. The Queensland Ladies call it "disgusting" when it gets a bit hot and humid, as though the Sunshine State is somehow treacherous in its delivery of summer.

The sweating aside, I kind of liked it.

Eloise was complaining about the heat on our walk today, and suggested we should air condition throughout the house. We looked on it as an exercise in mathematical education, and though she arrived at some good answers, I can't help but think that the essence of the argument escaped her.

Ironically, she was complaining of being cold later on as we perused the Aisles of Crappy Part Favours in Spotlight in the air-conditioned warehouse of household cheapery.

Nicole and I have taken up swimming whilst Eloise is doing after-school stuff. On a Monday she has a swimming lesson and we take the opportunity for a half-hour swim.

She's doing dancing three times a week now, and two of those are ninety-minute sessions so away we go to the pool and get in a quick bit of up-and-down.

A year ago I would have been, and indeed was, dismissive of the practice of swimming up and down a swimming pool, but now I'm doing it, I find it kind of meditative to watch the bottom of the pool sliding downwards and listen to the sound of bubbles rushing past the ears.

And it's nice to be outdoors doing it in a fifty-metre pool in the sun at a nice relaxed place while the nutty kids in Squad Training go hell-for-leather in the rest of the pool.

I might even start to get a little bit fit and healthy. Underweightness possibly beckons.