Sep 29, 2012


I will now briefly relay to you the story of our visit this year to Riverfire, the Late Night to end all Late Nights.

You'll no doubt be aware that Brisbane is famous the world over (probably) for its Riverfire Firework Display which rounds off the River Festival in this, the River City. Riverfire has in the past been renowned internationally (probably) for the most excellently exciting flyover by the General Dynamics F-111 bomber aircraft, which pioneered the swing-wing configuration of military aircraft and had the (probably unique) capability to dump its fuel into the exhaust of its jets, creating a spectacle which, bar none (and pas de deux) is the most amazing thing that I have ever seen at a fireworks display, with a jet aircraft flying low along the river, past the high-rises, with a sun-bright fifty metre flame behind it, before executing a reach-for-the-stars power climb into the clouds above, all with the blistering roar of its engines shaking the very bones of the hundreds of thousands over gawkers beneath.

I say "probably unique" in an exploratory way, for having no actual knowledge on the subject, the only other example of jet aircraft at firework displays is the F-18A "Hornet" conveyance which we have now that the F-111 has been retired, having finally confronted the inconventient truth of its ancient rust-bucketiness.

Anyway all this is by way of a whetting introduction.

Nicole was of course drudging at work, as is/was her lot, leaving Eloise and I to brave the sweating throng between us.

Public Transport was our weapon of choice. We drove down to the Hospital to catch a bus from the mega-terminal there, and caught a bus before too long, embarking down the busway, a piece of urban infrastructure whose praises I cannot sing too highly. Under the golf-ball shield to Kelvin Grove and under the city we went then up into the open air and over the bridge where we were jaw-droppingly astonished to see an Apache helicopter rise over the eaves and hover, keeping pace with us, waggling its gun, thwocking its rotors.

"You just keep your eye on the road" I astutely advised the driver.

"Right-o" he said.

We walked across to the South Bank. The Apaches retreated only for some Black Hawks to take their place.

We watched an Artist do Art for a while. He was quite good. We bought a twinkly shiny lighty necklace for Eloise from the Riverfire Tat Stall.

We entered The Throng.

And a throng it was, a congealed mass of a zillion people all wanting the same thing, and all heading to the same place to get it. And we went with it, hand in hand.

I did lose Eloise for a while when she went to put something in a bin. - Do you know where the bins are? I said. - Over there, somewhere, she waved nonchalantly.

We made it down to near to the riverside and hopped up onto a wall behind which was what was once a flowerbed but was now a viewing platform, and joined the Sub-Throng that was using the flower bed as a viewing platform. I hovered at the back, wondering how I was to deploy the picnic blanket. Eloise went down to the front.

There was a certain amount of angst as I struggled with the conflict between:
1) the parental urge to actually have some idea of where one's child is an a huge throng of people and animals, and
2) the English urge to unfurl one's picnic blanket.

The struggle played itself out over a reasonable protracted period of time, with option 2) having the upper hand for most of the time, until I reached a denouement, decided that option 1) might be a winner after all, and issued the Monoversal Whistle of Immediate Return.

Eloise returned.

We sat down on the wall, and then someone plonked their child down next to Eloise, and with her new friend, we waited for the time, as the sea of people washed up and down around us, parting for the paramedics, eddying around the islands of established camp chairs, filling up the available space.

And then the Hornets overhead, roaring a quiet, civilised roar which didn't really shake the bones, and deploying decoy flares which floated prettily, but not amazingly, over the river and the fireworks started, and the lasers.

Adele's Set Fire to the Rain came on the speakers, blaring out beneath the cacophony of incendiary violence, and it started to rain a little, and we existed in a timeless continuum of rain from above, noise and light from around, and the crowd below, for a timeless period that lasted for, ooh, about half an hour.

And then, the fireworks over, and amazement in our hearts, we realised we had no real idea how we were going to get home.

A visit to the busstop revealed it closed with officials pointed in a direction to the temporary arrangements. We looked along their extended arms and moved in that directions beneath our humberellas, coming to a line of buses that did not include our own, but which expanded with new buses, some of which looked like they should have been ours, but mysteriously changed their numbers upon arrival.

Finally, exhausted, our bus arrived, and did not change its number, and we got on, and it was free, and we were delighted, and it left, and we talked, and I delivered a monologue on the subject of something-or-other and we missed our stop.

The next stop on the Busway, Brisbane's fine municipal Public Transport Infrastructure, whose praises I cannot sing highly enough, is about halfway between our home and the Hospital.

With no choice, we deployed sweeties for fortify us, and proceeded to hike.

At one point Eloise said "You know what, I actually really enjoy walking long distances" before we elected to tackle the final hill by elevator by way of taking a shortcut through the Hospital, and home in time for, well, bed.

Changing Seasons

The sun she gets warmer, and having topped up our Vitamin D over the winter months, it is time to re-apply the suncream and make faces at each other to make it seem like fun.

Sep 28, 2012

Holiday Days

The school holidays were somewhat busy for us, what with our ongoing daily commitments to walk the dog and a daily swimming lesson to attend.

Eloise has been promoted another level in swimming and is now a "Shark" which means that she gets to sneak up on unsuspecting children in shallow water and sink her teeth into their dangling limbs. Or so you'd think.

Actually what it means is slightly unclear, but seems to signal that the Powers That Be consider her Ept at swimming and have therefore decreed that she be made ready in this, the Final Stage, for the Fun to Stop and for mindless swimming Up and Down at Maximum Speed to become the goal of all endeavour.

Anyway we surreptitiously requested that she be lined up with Jesse, her favourite swimming instructor, for these holiday lessons, and lo, it came to pass.

And her lessons were in the Big Pool, and she did swim Lengths of it.

And while she swam lengths of it, employing the various strokes, I did swim a Quick Twenty Lengths.

And after I had swum my Quick Twenty Lengths, I did get out of the pool and watch Number One Daughter dive beautifully.

And then she would Meet Up Randomly with Friends and People She Knew, and play with them in the Waters.

And when we had finished in the Waters we would retire to walk the Dog and to pursue our Other Pursuits.

Such as visiting the Roma Street Parklands where there are Beautiful Gardens. Eloise has decreed them so.

Or visiting Michael the Cat, of whom I shall write further on a separate occasion, no doubt.

Or going to Birthday Parties, and Playing With Friends, and generally Having a Good Time.

Sep 23, 2012

School Holidays

The school holidays this time kicked off with an extended sleepover with young Hannah J, our little Eloise's bestest friend. Mother J was taking herself off to Stradbroke Island to get rat-arsed celebrate a birthday with her friends, and we offered to help by looking after Number One Daughter for the weekend.

Oh, and it was Nicole's birthday.

So after some convoluted logistics we rendez-voused with the H at our house after we'd been to the market and she'd been up to whatever it is she gets up to of a Saturday morning, and we went to see The Mummy at the Queensland Museum.

The Mummy is in Brisbane at the moment. Some Mummies from the British Museum have come to visit. There's a 3-D fillum you go to see and then an exhibition with caskets and trinkets and whot not.

Young Hannah unfortunately must have been watching too many horror videos because in the run up to our visit she had convinced herself that she would be absolutely petrified and that it was going to be scariest thing of all time ever and that Mummies were evil etc etc.

And sure enough after - and again I use this word advisedly - literally twenty-two seconds of watching the 3-D file, to be precise the bit where the camera flies between the computer-generated Mummy's feet and aims itself like a remotely piloted drone at the Cadaver's long-evaporated yet tastefully redacted gonads, poor Hannah broke down in tears and had to be removed.

She soon recovered, if not in the actual exhibition, which she turned out not to be really in the mood for, then in the shop, where a mummy-shaped pencil case lifted her spirits most excellently.

Then the fighting began when Eloise discovered some computer screens and the taking-turns artifice broke down, as it always and inevitably does.

Nicole took her leave and set down somewhere to rest her burgeoning birthday bump and I took a hands-off approach to mediation and entertainment as we looked at various things and other things.

Oh, the shock on their little faces when I delicately finger-tipped the tippy-tail bone of the Muttaburrasaurus! The delight when they felt with their own little fingers the difference between twenty-two and twenty-four degrees, or whatever the real number were, and understood the difference between a boy and a girl for the egg of a turtle.

After the Museum we dragged our tired behinds to West End and ate Tibetan food in a restaurant where manners broke down because we were all tired and hungry, but recovered when we became un-hungry.

For want of a thing to do the next day, rather than ponce about in the garden we went to the beach where we collected shells, built sandcastles and jumped over waves, before going in for an actual swim in the actual sea. No dolphins this day though. Little Hannah was missing her Mum and we tried to phone her, but it transpired in later investigations that my phone had bricked itself, which is a story in itself.

Anyway we were at the beach for - and I use this word advisedly - literally hours and totally buggered by the end of it. Well I was. And as I was the only one who remained awake for the drive home, I assume so were they.

Monday meant home-time for Hannah but work-time for Eloise as she went for a three-hour marathon lesson at Dance School to learn the Duet she is to perform at The Concert.

Sep 19, 2012


The weather people are keeping their weather eyes on the Southern Oscillation Index, a number which tells us something about the distribution of heat in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and South America, and telling us to expect an El Nino year, one in which the summer is hot and dry.

Apparently it's been a wet winter, though I didn't notice or can't remember, and out there in the countryside undergrowth and grass has been busily growing as though there is, in fact, no tomorrow.

This leads to the necessity of a program of controlled burning out in the countryside, and sometimes nearerby, where cooler, smaller, fires are set and closely monitored in order to burn the combustible fuel at the base of forests or in the fields and paddocks and reduce the risk of major wildfires.

So from time to time we will see a pall of smoke rising over a distant hill, or sometimes a closer hill. And sometimes the fires do get out of control, such as happened a few weeks ago between The Gap and Ferny Grove where a controlled burn got some legs.


Spring is springing, as it is prone to do, and the trees around the neighbourhood are taking it in turns to get their blossoms out. It's a lovely time of year in Brisbane, when it becomes very colourful with the flowers of the jacarandas, the poincianas, and all those other trees whose names I either never knew or can't now remember.

Sep 9, 2012

Skateboarding, Without the 8

Late afternoon, the sun setting, the neighbourhood quiet, strollers on their way to the brook with their dogs. Running the gauntlet of the Ginger Peril on the Skateboard of Doom. Along with, of course, the Elbow and Knee Pads of Truth and Justice.

Sep 3, 2012


What could be nicer than a tune on the Ukelele, the Piano or the Violin, played by my daughter, the Apple of My Eye, the nascent musical Genius?

A tune on the instrument of your choice played by someone who knows vaguely what they're doing, that's what.

The ukelele and the piano are acceptable I suppose, but the violin. My god.