Oct 31, 2014


But sometimes you just got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?'

Well, do you, punk?

The Witch, The Skeleton and the Zombie Baby

There are people around these parts, you know the "Happy Hallowe'en" crowd, who neither appreciate the genuine historical significance of Hallowe'en nor how to spell and punctuate the word properly, who nevertheless go to a very great deal of effort for the occasion, not only in terms of helping their children to dress up, but of dressing up themselves and their not inconsiderable homes to reflect whatever it is of the spirit of the evening they understand.

Time was when it was all about the banishment of evil in preparation for All Saints' Day but I don't see anyone tearing down the horror movie paraphernalia and dangling plastic angels off their fences and terraces and verandahs the day after. Still, we live in an allegedly multicultural society so we must respect the Americanisation of yet another holiday that goes back many centuries, mustn't we? And further to that, we have to join in, don't we?

And with this spirit of tolerance for what has become the cultural preparation of infants for the delights of the horror film, we wended our merry way after school had finished to procure all the fake blood, wound tattoos, plastic weaponry, goulish makeup and random costume fragments we could lay down our dollars in exchange for.

While Nicole and Eloise perused the costume shop up at Lutwyche (an appropriately old-fashioned witches of Salem type name for a place), opposite the cemetery (I forgot to pack the Theramin) Lyra raided the sword locker and proceeded to find as many places as possible to hide: in the racks of costumes, between the aisles, in the changing rooms. What fun we had, with me tracking her down, and she poking her little head out for another old-yet-somehow-refreshingly-new-and-exciting boo! moment.

When we got back home we set about the business of dressing up. I was simple (yes yes, not that kind of simple): I tattooed a gunshot wound to my head, a slash wound to my cheek and dusted off my rarely-used office clothing and retrospectively dubbed myself Shaun of the Dead.

Eloise was going for the Bellatrix LeStrange look - she had to be reminded of the Harry Pot-Pot's character's name as well - with back-combing, white makeup, lipstick and last year's Hallowe'en dress (disappointingly for her). She could have done more back-combing in my opinion but we did have an eye on potential medium-term adverse consequences of tangling and potential wholesale removal.

Nicole was once again a skeleton with boney jumpsuit, getting quite worn. I had the pleasure of applying black greasepaint to her eye-sockets and, ehem, cocking up her lips.

Lyra was, as they say, "totally up for it," but running low on gas, so the boney top went on fine but when it came to the boney trousers, no dice. No dice whatsoever, and this soon escalated into a full-blown strop of appropriately scarey proportions as Nicole had the practical considerations of cold and insects to consider and Lyra just wasn't seeing things from her point of view at all.

Still there were isolated moments of relative lucidity, such as when I applied her greaspaint eye-sockets with no regards whatsoever to eye hygiene.

I did a perfect job, but then the eye-rubbing started, which actually may have improved the overall grumpy-zombie-teenager-to-be-please-put-on-the-sisters-mercy-again-dad look we can no doubt look forward to in years to come.

Many minutes of food-deprived incandescent rage and angst were to follow as we awaited the arrival of our accompanists on our trick-or-treat extravaganze, and eventually we set off into the neighbourhood, to sample the delights of the local enthusiasts and the streets were indeed awash with little fancy dressers with their sometimes fancy dressed chaperones.

Fear and loathing were exhibited in ascending and descending respectively order of age, by which I mean the youngsters were generally somewhere around terrified, and the teenagers somewhere around contemptuous, but in true hyper-capitalist form everyone, but everyone was out to get as many damned sweeties as they could get their horribly horrid little mitts on.

The Grange homesteads were up to standard again, and I must say that it's always a laugh at Hallowe'en because amongst the milling crowds you do feel that your kids are safe from physical if not psychological harm, and people really do go to a lot of effort.

I baled out early when Lyra started mysteriously starting to kiss parked Utes. It was clearly time to call it an armpit. We trip-trapped across the little bridge and across the oval with her little shoes sparkling in the night.

She ate something and had a bit of a bath when we got home. We had someone to the door: I ignored them. The sight of me in only my underpants would be a truly horrifying sight to almost anyone.

Almost anyone.

No mawari janpu shite geijutsu aikō-ka o komara shimasho

Japanese art exhibition on at the Gallery of Modern Art: I thought we'd have endless hours of fun going up and down on the escalators but instead, equipped with stroller (ha!) I used lifts to visit the now-tired Pattern Bandits, which was mobbed by hundreds of schoolchildren, who wouldn't let me play. Aww!

Tired of that, I antagonised art lovers by running around in the austere upstairs "gallery spaces," screamingly making my presence inarguably known to all and attempting with every fibre of my being to climb onto the raised exclusion zones beneath the oh-so-culturally important suspended objets d'art, pursued by our father. What a hoot!

Afterwards I went and lounged on the nice sofas overlooking the resplendent city views before having a jump around on those as well! Yay!

Oct 28, 2014

Life is Beachy

C&G are indisposed for the next few weeks so a celebratory outing was in order. Interminable Tuesdays call for a little adventure and so we went to Bribie Island, allegedly a fifty minute drive away, although by the time we had stopped to get coffee, stopped to put Lyra back into her seat properly and fill up with petrol, it was more like an hour and a half, and the natives were getting restless.

Well actually that's the opposite of what they were, as G was asleep by the time we arrived at the legendary Lions Park, which we found was being renovated, and was therefore out of action.

We traversed the Island (do Bribie Islanders refer to Bribie Island as The Island?) to Bongaree and stopped off at the playground there, a favourite haunt of yesteryear when life wasn't quite so busy. It too had been renovated, and not necessarily for the better. Still, sleep came to an end and food was consumed and playground equipment utilised, after first making sure that it wasn't hot, as the helpful sign suggested we do.

After a while it felt like time to go to the beach, and having parked the car and unloaded all the food, togs, drinks, buckets, digging implements, etc etc, we headed up the fifty metre access path to the beach.

Lyra and Georgia were much more interested in living in the moment and with sand there, and buckets and spades, set about spading with enthusiasm despite our exhortations to move along to the real sand with the sea and everything.

Eventually we did get to the sea, set up, got changed, messed about with sand. Strangely on the beach it seemed to be my job to build sand towers and toddlers' job to kick them over instantly.

Lyra was strangely hesitant about gamboling in the waves, and insisted on experiencing things from shoulder height. She also seems to have lost her enthusiasm for hats, which is annoying.

A little wave hopping and soon one thing led to another and Lyra and I were wading out forcefully into the surf, Lyra swelling with laughter each time a crest came by. I was relieved (that's a euphemism) when Claire and Georgia braved the mouth-crinkling coolness of the ocean, and Lyra was becoming cold, so we went back to camp where a milk bottle soon had little Lyra snoozing on my tummy and me on my back watching clouds failing to form over Australia.

In Brisbane the weather was hot but by the sea, in the rippling shade under the edge of the forest, with the surf crashing gently ten metres away and the sand gently working its way into every available orifice, it was just nicely warm and life was pretty peachy. Although with Lyra laid out on my poor ribcage there was the slight distraction of my poor still-slightly-broken frame.

I'm not going to talk about toddler escapology on the return trip.

Oct 26, 2014

Wet and Wonky Birthday Fun Times

It's uncertain who it was who thought of the idea of a joint birthday celebration type thingy at Wet'N'Wild for our Suite of Splashing Sproglets but they were born within weeks if not days of one another, and Wet'N'Wild had been a shared experience for most of us before, so the idea - so the consensus goes - must have sprung unbidden from the group consciousness, man, or something.

Originally there were no hangers-on, and ultimately there were no hangers-on for the Gs at least because of various reasons, which resulted in my face being liberally splattered with figurative egg, for the day in question as it turned out clashed with the Hands on Arse Festival at school, which ruled out the Bs, and when I requested the ladies change the day P's sister-in-law had, it turned out she had (reportedly) precociously booked flights from Sydney just to attend our water-based celebration. Which scotched the Bs. Then Hannah decide most unprofessionally to contract tonsilitis, ruling her out too, scotching the Js.

So no Eloise-friends, but Lyra, Georgia and Harlow with six parents and one aunt were in attendance, at roughly the same time, in roughly the same place, for roughly the same reason, sometimes all at the same time, and I have a photograph to prove it, see?

The sun had his hat on, so we felt obliged to have the same arguments we've been having these eight years about sunscreen, hats, and general sun-protection measures.

It was hot too, so perfect day to lounge on the inflatable tubes of Carypso Beach as the slow-flowing rotundoid river of relaxation took us through a Carribean-themed dreamscape along with a cross-section of the Australian public that could only be glanced at side-long, from young to old, from fat to thin, from male to female and everything in between.

Eloise and I had a race, just to spice things up a bit, and I cut my toe open on the light pebbledash floor, pushing on it too hard in my competitive urge to win at all costs. I did win, though, almost.

Lyra spent her day playing with inflatable tubes, water, sand, water, other kids, sand, wheels, and water. She declined the water-slide but was into the head-level tipping buckets.

There were enough grown-ups that with a small cadre of responsible mothers and fathers to provide childcare, the rest could go off and ride on big-people's rides, and even though we were nowhere near Calcutta the Black Hole beckoned, we rode the Sidewinder even though we were actually trying to escape from the heat, and we rode the Constrictor (I went backwards).

Other grown-ups reported that they went on the Tornado and the Kamikaze. We would all (I'm sure) liked to have gone on the frankly terrifying Aqualoop but it was unfortunately closed for "maintenance." Much to everyone's mock chagrin.

In between all of this there was sleep-time for at least but not actually more than one child, whose parents I'm sure are to be commended upon their most excellent mind-control techniques. And some quiet play-time in the general surrounds of our sandy retreat.

Nicole had mysteriously agreed to make a cake, so in the spirit of outdoors birthdays around the world, we attempted to light candles, and failed, then ate it. Then, in the spirit of Newmarket, we sang Happy Birthday, tunelessly. Actually I sang it to the tune of Grand Old Duke of York. I'm not sure anyone noticed.

The Harlow contingent had a date with an airport and had to leave early leaving the rest of us to ride our little hearts out into the twilight, and then, as per usual, be complete laggards in returning to our base camp to retrieve our stuff after the park had closed.

Oct 24, 2014


On the way back from school on Friday. H recovering from tonsilitis, quite rapidly.

Eloise had to rush back to the library when she realised that she couldn't account for all the thirteen library books on the list she'd printed out, but then realised that five of them were previous loans, and the big pile of books in the pram was actually all that she had borrowed. Much to her relief.

Weeny Cleany

If any of you should doubt the levels of excellence routinely achieved in the general cleanliness and upkeep of our household, allow me to introduce my newest trainee. She understands that newspaper and vinegar may be traditional and effective, but glass cleaner and a lintless cloth are just so much more modern and fun.

Oct 23, 2014

Between Two Points in Time

Back from school. A few moments to do some paperwork before we leave for whatever it is that comes next.

An Oasis at Seventeen Mile Rocks

My eye had been malevolently and unblinkingly bent upon Seventeen Mile Rocks since I heard of it from the Bs, and last Georgia-day we wended our actually un-merry and sleep-deprived way there for a day of aquatic fun and frolics.

Lyra may or may not have assaulted Georgia in the back of the car in a conflict over a booster seat, but the latter part of our journey was accompanied by wails of angst from one side of the car and a perhaps slightly self-incriminating and possibly smug half-smile from the other.

The day was hot and sunny and though there was plenty of shade to be had, needless to say Lyra refused point-blank to wear her hat. Some battles just aren't worth fighting so I tried to stick to the shade, unsuccessfully, but sunscreen had been liberally slopped so there wasn't to much to worry about, other than sunstroke and scalp burns and perhaps a cheap non-salon highlights job.

Lots of fun was had in the water, with plenty of marching up and down and splishing and splashing and falling over and all those things you expect from a water park. The water flowed from one pool to another to another in a sinuous stream-linked interconnectedness of oases, shaded by multicoloured sunsails and raided by black crows. People of various shapes and sizes and ages and hues made their way, tentativeness inversely proportional to age, between the rocks, generally in pursuit of stick-wielding tearaways.

Lunchtime was followed by sleep-time, in my case encouraged by pram. Sleeps went on for a while then some playground action, during which it became apparent from infant moodiness that the best part of the day was done and that a retrieval operation and home delivery was in order.

Oct 22, 2014

The Wonderer Returns

I have been flying solo for five days, an experience that has by turns been enjoyous* and enervating, hilarious and harrowing.

The days have been long and the chickens pesky, the children have been fed with Eloise's favourite food. Bedtimes have been hairy, mornings sometimes furry. We did some superb scooting, some pugnacious paddling and some seriously sinister swimming. Sometimes I have found it arduous. I admit it! We have missed Nicole!

We made it for a couple of days out rear-guardless; Lyra has had something to do every day, so I think I have probably done all right, all things considered.

Nicole got back late at night. I tried to stay up to welcome her back, but I sagged, ragged, and dragged myself to Slumber City instead.

I can't tell you what she got up to. What happens at the Conference stays at the Conference.

*yes, I know, this isn't a real word.

Oct 21, 2014

Story Time Dads / Mount Glory Arse

Gloamy though the day was today, with Nicole away "on business" it was going to be a long one with limited and when the flaming chickens woke me up with their crow alert at 6am I counted my blessings as the children slumbered on peacefully.

I had resolved to get out of Brisbane today and have a bit of an adventure. I thought it was only fair to balance it out with some toddler amusements in the morning so after delivering Eloise to school for the start of her epic day, Lyra and I went to Story Time at Grange Library for a best two of three sample.

We arrived earlier than last week and Lyra managed to work a little of her energy off on the huge table-top screen, then on the huge floor-bottom screen, running around like the apocryphal blue-arsed fly before the nice librarians deactivated all electronics so that Story Time had a chance of having someone pay attention.

There were four Dads there. It was easy to count them because we all sat in a corner in the Dad Zone, a self-organising emergent agglomeration of sweaty testosterone maleness (obviously). Lyra sat patiently on my lap as the trainee librarian launched a little nervously into a song I vaguely recognised but don't recall, then read a book I didn't recognise and don't recall. We rousingly, even rumbustiously sang Hickory Dickory Dock in basso profundo before Lyra started to work the room a little. This involved smiling at babies and expecting results; results were not forthcoming and so, losing interest, she (and therefore I) headed for dress-ups corner and soon we were off for some playground action where a little boy was showing far to much interest in Lyra's athletic antics and had to go home, having lost the use of his legs.

Soon we headed home too, for some baked beans which Lyra graciously declined, and fruity bites before she decided that she really needed to be in her pyjamas actually and she would quite like to have the Gruffalo read to her.

She wasn't for sleeping though and the time had come to embark on our jaunt up the D'Aguilar Mountains for a photographic extravaganza of epic proportions. Needless to say, as we wound our way up the mountain road she was fast asleep and as we parked at the National Park, ready for our walk, she was fast asleep, then as we drove to the next lookout she was fast asleep.

She woke up after that and I could then get more than twenty metres away from the car, so we stopped off at the next lookout and trotted up and around the boardwalk, looking up in the trees for the birds that were calling so very prettily, looking out over the epic view, and generally bogling around in a most amiable fashion but I could tell that a rainforest walk was out of the question so we headed on home, down the mountain and back to suburbia.

Oct 19, 2014

Encounters With Some Citizens of the Bird World End In Tears

Lyra, with the aid of Eloise, today picked up her own chicken for the first time, and was very pleased with herself.

All went well until Eloise tried to take young Amy the Chicken away, whereupon she took fright, flapped her wings and scraped Lyra's cheek with her feathers. Lyra wasn't really happy about that, and expressed her displeasure in predictable ways. Cuddles and the administration of her favourite drink soon brought the pain under control, though.

She now has a pretty good scrape mark running up her face, which will be interesting to explain at childcare tomorrow.

Later, in a similar incident, we were visiting some friends who have taken in a stray parrot. Whilst trying to tract down the owners, the parrot is confined to the bathroom. It's a Quaker Parrot, also known as a Monk Parakeet. Eloise was very happy indeed to have the bird perch upon her shoulder.

Her happiness was also short-lived as the damn bird shortly decided to explore the contours of Eloise's collarbone with its beak, in not a very gentle way. Eloise expressed her displeasure, also in predictable ways. Cuddles and the application of a Calamine placebo soon had the pain under control, though.

What a Teralba Pun

We went out on another bike ride, with Eloise this time.

She complained a good part of the way about the antique bike she rides with no gears and just back-pedal brakes. She probably has a point.

We got further than last time, visiting a park called Teralba out in Everton Hills. The bike track runs beside it and there's a playground on the other side that looks very promising when you drive past it on the road.

Two problems: the park is huge, the playground's on the other side, and you have to ride over grass to get there. Yes, that's three problems.

Make that four: when you do get there, it isn't actually all that great.

Still we spun it out for an hour or so. Lyra chafed her knee on a child-unfriendly pebbledash concrete staircase and fell off a ladder. Eloise gave herself blisters on the metal hoopy-monkey-bar-thingy and the metal-flying-fox thingy.

Oct 18, 2014

In Which We Have a Busy Day and Then Nicole Flies Away, Leaving Me Flying Solo

It's been another one of those funny busy Saturdays where we woke up early, lounged around, decided to go to the Market, lounged around, went to the Market, Lyra spilt drink over herself, took all her clothes off, went home, got ready for Eloise's Strings Competition, drove out to Ferny Grove, dropped Eloise and Nicole off, Lyra fell asleep, hung around in a forest glade, Lyra woke up, drove around interminably waiting for Nicole and Eloise to deign to actually leave the Competition, picked up Nicole, drove Nicole home to pack, waited for the now independently transported Eloise, who didn't turn up, drove Nicole to the airport, dropped Nicole at the airport, comforted distraught child, manhandled distraught child back into car seat, drove home, walked down street, met friend, watched remote control car zip around then crash into a tree, discussed quad-choppers and Lucy amongst other things, was reunited with Eloise,  met a parrot, declined a sleepover, walked home, acceded to pizza, collected pizza though not from the branch that I had thought that I had ordered it from, put on a movie, took off the movie due to things a two-year-old shouldn't see and was getting far too excited about, ate the pizza, bathed Lyra, read Lyra a couple of books, put Lyra to bed, put Lyra to bed, put Lyra to bed, put Lyra to bed, put Lyra to bed, put on another, shorter movie because the original wouldn't now have finished until far too late, fell asleep in short movie, woke up during end credits, acceded to Eloise's request to occupy Nicole's sleeping-space after only a short period of resistance, drank some wine, watched a bit of telly whilst actually multitasking successfully, and stayed awake. And then sighed. Ahhhh.

Oct 17, 2014

Jacarandas and Catameringues

Lovely day for a day out, innit, and though I thought Nicole might want to get her nose down into some work on her day off rest prior to, you know, going to work, when I suggested a trip to the city she accepted.

Even though on a Friday Eloise has to be dragged moaning from bed at the very crack of dawn, that is at the time we normally wake up but without the fannying around, by the time Nicole had dropped her off for her pre-school Strings session and we'd flolloped around for a while, it was 10am before we got out of the house, activities having expanded to fill the time available.

We parked down at New Farm Park but on the whatsit, you know the thingummybob that runs around it, not a rotunda, more a road, perhaps a lane? Anyway we parked there, after having driven around it and looked at the jacaranda trees that are blossoming down there; it's rather lovely. New Farm Park in jacaranda season is always beautiful. Did I mention that the jacarandas are lovely? They have these lilac blossoms shaped like little trumpets, like I probably mention every year, and there lilacity, or lilacness if you're less scientifically minded, is truly something to behold. Though when the flowers die, fall off and wilt into sad brown crushed little trumpets on the ground they are prone to pong a bit.

We hopped on the ferry - not all the way obviously, that would be dangerous - and headed upriver to the City where we disembarked at Eagle Street. We hung out (that's something that young people do, I've heard) in a plaza-like area with uncompromisingly modernist aqua-pools, metal-rimmed, flowing uncompromisingly towards a black staircase waterfall. Lyra decided that the Atta in the pool was there to be drunk from.

A nice man pointed out that we shouldn't be letting our child drink from that water: I asked him why, he said that it was recycled and after I'd thanked him, pointing out not-at-all ironically that recycled water is generally triple-purified and probably reasonably safe, he sparked up not-at-all ironically a cigarette which he proceeded to puff away at, next to the no-smoking sign. Ironic!

Still before long it was cruising towards some sort of notional nap-time and we thought to negotiate a nap in the pram, but it was all too exciting with all the car! car! car! truck! car! and other Lyra-words we don't yet understand fully. We made it to a coffee shop and sat down at Anzac Square where a backpacker with questionable dress-sense (according to Nicole) alternately fed ibises with potato crisps (perhaps hoping to fatten them to the point of flight-unworthiness) and remonstrated with her bogan backpacker mate, then proceed to unpack her belongings on the grass.

Lyra, however, even after our flavoursome and ambitious al-fresco lunch of pizza-flavoured Blam! and potato crisps and summer fruit, became suddenly very un-personable, really very un-personable and strangely resistant to mollification. In grave need of sleep, but utterly unwilling to actually sleep.

We considered a nearby playground then thought instead bugger this for a game of soldiers. She perked up as we got back to the ferry, chippered up as we cruised down-river, broke down again at the New Farm Park cafe nappy-change facility, descended further as we forced her mercilessly into the Perambulator of Doom, and fell asleep as we perambulated the life out of her along the riverfront.

We returned to the cafe, borrowed a picnic mat, and drank coffee, laying upon our backs, watching the leaves ripple overhead in the sea breeze.

Slop, Slop, Slop

Here in the Antipodes we Slip Slap Slop which means something along the lines of Slipping on some clothes, Slapping on a hat, and Slopping on some sunscreen.

It must by that, because you can't Slop On a hat, can you, although you can Slip On sunscreen if there's enough of it on the floor.

Speaking of which, this morning we were Slopping away, in fact as far as I was aware we were pretty much fully Slopped, but then I looked down for five seconds, I don't remember why, perhaps movie trivia on the tablet, no actually I think it was to maybe look at the paper, and when I looked up, what did I see?

Oct 16, 2014

Eight Years of Abstinence Comes to an End

I've been going to Stafford City Shopping Centre for eight years now, I think, and the machines have changed a bit over that time, although the machine at the entrance that plays the music from the Cantina scene in Star Wars has always been there. There have been cars that wobble, trucks that wobble, little roundabouts, and machines with claws that fail to grab sweeties and cuddly toys.

And I have never ever put any money into any of them.

Until today.

Lyra loves climbing on these damned machines, and today I relented, shoving $2 into the crack, watching the look of surprise and delight sweep over Lyra's face as the contraption swung into motion, Lyra turning the little wheels, and beaming away for the probably two or even two and a half minutes it turned for.

Then she stood up, gave Audrey the Non-Explorer a kiss, gave the steam train's pressure regulator a kiss, looked at me, and said "More."

To which I said "No."

I'm sure that you can imagine how things progressed from here given Lyra's finely honed negotiation skills.

Book Week Harry Potter Tie-In Aborted in Favour of Fictional Dancing Starlet

In all the flapping around I had to rely on my Loan Phone (my real one is being repaired, hopefully) to take a crappy picture of Eloise after her dancing exams.

Further flapping was in order because she needed to get changed for Book Week, when everyone gets dressed up as a character from a book they have enjoyed.

Eloise had invested precisely no effort whatsoever - there had been no time, leaving the lack of inclination to one side for a moment - and when pushed had decided to go as Hermione or Ginny from Harry Potter, which we are reading together at the moment. She had hoped to avoid tired cliche by going as Hermione or Ginny on their days off, that is in plain clothes, and when I suggested that at least a wand might be in order, she decided that trainee wizards/witches/magicians wouldn't carry wands on their days off.

However given that she was having to take time out of school for the dancing, it seemed only appropriate that she should cut down on changing time by attending Book Week Dress Up as a dancing character. Clearly this would involve going as one of the four Magic Ballerina heriones from Darcey Bussell's unfamous Magic Ballerina Books.

What a decision! Should it be Delphie, whose hair isn't quite the right colour, or Rosa, whose hair isn't quite the right colour, or Holly, whose hair isn't quite the right colour, or the one whose name we can't remember, but whose hair isn't quite the right colour anyway?

On the basis that no-one else knows who these people are, Eloise chose Delphie.

Turned out that almost every single other girl in the school had gone either as Ginny from Harry Potter or as Hermione from Harry Potter, but that every single other girl had tried to make them look like they were studying at Hogwarts. I didn't ask her about wands specifically, but I'm guessing that quite a few wands would have been in evidence.

Turn Your Back For Five Minutes Part 2

Previously on Turn Your Back for Five Minutes

This time on Turn Your Back For Five Minutes, a series that I can't help but think will have many many instalments, it's the day of Eloise's dancing exams.

I may have forgotten to tell you that she scored a Distinction, which I was very proud of her for having achieved. This time she had two exams in the one day: Jazz and Tap.

Anyway logistics had become an issue with the revelation that Eloise wouldn't be done by 10am as previously thought, and this created logistical issues which Claire offered to lighten by taking Lyra under her wing for a couple of hours at Chipmunks, allowing me to pick up Eloise from her exam with a minimum of disruption should examination be continuing and silence be required from the general public.

At 8.20am, five minutes before delivering Eloise to the dancing school, Lyra emptied a bottle of green poster paint over herself and the back deck. This necessitate a Rapid Cleaning Squad effort with the deck scrubbed outside (obviously) and Lyra transported to the bath, washed, rinsed and her clothes consigned to the laundry.

At 9.40am, twenty minutes before delivering Lyra to the Northside Soft Play Centre of Choice, she climbed up to the shelf where the paints are, retrieved the black paint and emptied it over herself and the back deck. I surmise this course of events because I was downstairs, choring.

I came up to find that she had taken herself to the bath and was in the process of rinsing herself off, a black slick of paint draining away beneath her. She had managed not to get the paint onto her clothes. She soon sat down in the dirty water, though, then laid down in it for good measure.

So another rapid cleansing effort was in order, this time solo.

When I picked up Eloise she was pretty delighted with her performance. No mistakes at Jazz, she thought, but some timing issues over the introduction of the Tap Waltz. Again, proud of her.

Oct 14, 2014

Back in the Saddle. Sore.

Warren had lent me some entertainment when I was at the nadir of my powers, and with one thing and another - broken bones and broken phones - I had been unable to return it to him.

With another seemingly endless expanse of Epic Tuesday Time ahead of me, I resolved to return said entertainment. When I found his number (broken phone) I found that he we would be at work, which happens to be in a cycle shop of some repute, and so I further resolved to overcome the final psychological hurdle in my rapid and yet not rapid enough recovery by visiting him at his workplace, and purchasing from him a brand spanking not-shattered helmet of the biking variety, with which I would protect my head whilst getting back on the Conveyance of Catastrophe, the Bone Shaker, indeed the Bone Breaker, that Pushbike of Pain and Perdition.

I got a very schmick Minbari-style number, white with a red stripe running from front to back, and after a trip to the playground and a return to the bike shop to retrieve the milk bottle little Lyra had left there, we returned home to face our fears.

I was a little concerned, I must admit, that Lyra would throw some sort of epi-cadenza at the thought of returning to the gunner's nest but after having some fun with the bike pump and getting the tyres up to pressure she was as keen as mustard, and, strapped in with her helmet on, we activated the hangar door and were off.

Maybe the smile disappeared from her face; I wasn't game to look behind me just yet but she seemed happy enough as we gently at first made off down the road, then down the hill to the bike track by the brook, then out past Stafford City and through Grinstead Park.

Time was ticking on by now so I thought a trip to the playground might be in order, to reward her after our little trip. A Pavlovian Playground you might say.

We got off my bike and my eyebrows were raised a bit (I still can't do just the one) when we saw that young Claire was there with little Georgia, with a picnic mat and everything. It's their local I suppose, but it was a pleasant surprise nevertheless. Lyra played with Georgia and I made off-colour semi-humourous comments about helmets and such like.

On the way back we did have a bit of a wobble when the bike left the path for a while; I don't recall why, maybe my short-term memory-writing algorithms were disrupted by my being temporarily scared absolutely shitless. A gentle application of the brakes and some swearing got us back on track. As pedalled homewards (the Royal we), I replayed our accident over in my mind as a sphincter-conditioning exercise. It's the bit where I hit the ground with my shoulder that really makes the muscles down there work hard.

Afterwards, I reckon we'd probably done a cool 10km. No wonder my muscles ached; I'd forgotten how many groups of muscles cycling, especially uphill or fast, requires.

Story Time, and Musca Copulus Sighted At Grange Library

Lyra and I went to the Library at Grange a week ago for Story Time as an exploratory exercise for a Tuesday morning. Tuesdays are very long, with the older females pursuing their pursuits until well into the evening which leaves Lyra and I with masses of time to fill with our trivial pursuits. Time was, and time will be again I think, that Tuesdays may be committed to more extravagant adventuresomeness but for the moment with my lingering impediments we remain depressingly local.

Anyway, be that as it may, last week I was very pleasantly surprised not only to run into a few familiar faces but also to find that Story Time was immensely enjoyable with Librarian Chris magnificently, and by that I mean surreptitiously sardonically, deconstructing the underlying narrative devices and stereotypes underlying young childrens' literature whilst reading them in a way unconventional enough to actually scare one child away, screaming. I laughed and laughed! Some nannies even looked up from their flaming (not literally) mobile phones to give me funny looks, which is a reward in itself.

I went back this week in order to confirm that this was not some flash-in-the-pan one-off never-to-be-repeated experience of the type that should have been savoured more than it was, but it was not to be repeated. Another librarian, more conventional was on duty, I observed in the brief moments that I could cajole stroke manhandle Her Ladyship into the room. She just wasn't interested. So I suppose I can't really comment.

On the plus side, though, in the playground afterwards, we (of course I mean I) saw some flies having it away, which certainly brightened up my day, in an Attenborough-esque kind of way. I even got my flaming (not literally) mobile phone out to take a picture (not a very good one).

Oct 12, 2014

What the Chickens!

Our three backyard Dr Who companions wear their privations well. While we were in England who knows what went on: before we left they were laying in at least predictable places: in wheelbarrows, chimeneas, even sometimes in their nesting box.

Something must have happened though because when we came back they were laying in the leaf compost, on the shelves in the garage, not very often in their nesting box.

And things only got worse. Now it seems that open warfare has been declared by our local crow, a rather beautiful if large and daunting bird with striking Celeste blue eyes and plumage so black it's almost midnight; and behind that Torresian crow's eyes a crafty intellect; it hangs around until the chickens do their thing, watching them; and when they're done down it swoops to steal our eggs. if Nicole or Eloise go out it'll flap away but then glide back down again as soon as their backs are turned to claim its prize.

Which leaves us on egg patrol for the moment in the hope that we can beat young Colin to our eggs, and maybe he'll (I don't actually know if it's male or not) get the message and squawk off somewhere else.

I went out the other morning and found an egg on the windscreen wiper of the car with a little hole in it. Clucking Bell, I thought, that's a clever crow. It turned out that Nicole had found the egg but couldn't be bothered taking it upstairs, so she'd left it on the car. Obviously really. In hindsight.

Oct 11, 2014

Lyra Language Checkpoint

Let's have a little checkpoint on Lyra's language development, which is at an amusingly potty-mouthed stage. I'll leave the contentious ones til after the break, because now I know how to do a break so I'll do it just for the sake of doing it.

So, we have:
Mummy - Mummy
Daddy - Daddy
Eloise - Aloise
Lyra - Isla
Mary - Mimi
No - No
Yes - Yes (a recent additional and rarely used)
Milk - Mock
Juice - Jus
Water - Atta
Shoes - Shoes
Socks - Fox
Up - Uppy
Hello/Hi/How are you doing - Hello
Please - Mease
Pretty please - A high-pitched squeal with the potential to cause permanent hearing damage
Dog - Woofwoof
Miaow - Miaow
Mouse - Mouse
Roar - Rrrrrr!
Owl - Owl
Plane - Blane
Book - Book
Banana - Nana
Food in general - Nana
Oh Dear! - Oh Dear!
Oh No! - Oh No!
Hug/Cuddle - Cog
Car - Car
Come Here - Mere
Catch-all term covering most objects, translate as thingummy - Fafa

Oct 10, 2014

A Riddle Nestled in a Mystery Hidden Within an Enigma

I'm reasonably confident that Eloise won't acquire the digital nouse to discover this before her disillusion is complete; I would need to be, otherwise, well who knows what the consequences might be. I suppose I should, in the unlikely event that young children are reading this, warn that the content is strictly adult-rated and that if Mummy or Daddy find out you've been reading about this kind of stuff then you'll be in deep doggy doo doos.

So find something else to do. Now.

Oct 6, 2014

Helpless Mirth

Lyra has discovered that not only is she able to climb out of her cot, but that if she pushes a chair next to it then she can climb in as well.

Why she would want to do such a thing she hasn't chosen to explain as yet: perhaps it's to commune with her pantheon of cuddly friends, perhaps she wants to have a few minutes of time just to herself.

Generally she is discovered before long by someone who would dearly love to subvert her plan and replace it with a tickling session. If she objects, she is unable to say so, because tickling has that effect, doesn't it, and little peals of laughter cross each other as they tinkle around the house, escaping the room in a way that Lyra can't when Eloise has her pinned down and helpless.

Cunning Fingers

Oct 2, 2014

Cheltenham and Gloucester Demonstrate the Cinemagraph

My mobile telephone, which is of the Nokia persuasion, not one of your trendy i-Phones or Android thingummybobs, but a Windows Phone which is equally and in some ways more capable, can (as you will have noticed) take funny photographs where parts move and wobble and other parts don't.

It calls them Cinemagraphs, which is a funny old-fashioned sounding sort of name, a bit like listening to a 78 on the phonograph or calling Huey on the big white telegraph, but I suppose it sums up its function.

It would have you believe that it "brings photographs to life" and that is true. It also reduces their colour palette almost catastrophically whilst increasing file sizes phenomenally, if understandably.

Here are Claire and Georgia sitting upon the moving wobbly parts in this particular example while Lyra in the background, though actually moving, is rendered uncharacteristically motionless, almost like a photograph. Hang on...