Jun 28, 2015

Primary colours consecutively delayed

It's possible that this might not make much sense. That's me in the middle, chimping into my mobile. On the right, Eloise is split into time-delineated primary colours as she moves around.

It's much better when it's moving.


After the delights of the Winter Festival, in search of a toilet, we visited QUT's The Cube, a genuinely enormous interactive screen thingy in a genuinely plush student building.

In a computer-generated coral reef, ocean life teemed. A prod of a fish yielded an information screen. Occasionally a whale shark would amble by.

Lyra danced in front of relayed images of herself, primary colours consecutively delayed, for hours while Nicole and Eloise looked on.

Winter Wonderland Leaves Us Cold

"Dress up warm," the website advised us, "because snow is cold and little feet and fingers can get chilly."

It sounded ever so glamorous, tobogganing down purpose-built slides of real snow at the enticingly named Winter Festival at the Riverstage with Genuine Bavarian Gastronomy to be had and everything.

We were a bit dubious, going down, not because we doubted the undoubtable awesomeness of the experience but because bookings for the day's sessions had closed and we didn't know if we would get to go on.

Still, with trepidation we parked at New Farm and caught the ferry up-river. As we glid down the reach past the Botanical Gardens, through the trees we could see snatches of huge snowmen, and a shiver of anticipation gently cupped the parts that other beers cannot reach.

We walked up to the ticket office to be told, to our relief, that plenty of tickets were in fact still available, and that there probably wouldn't be a problem with getting a go on the slides.

We were anticipating, from the admittedly heavily photoshopped images that the website had to offer, epic slides running from the top of the natural amphitheatre down to the stage where men in shorts would be playing the accordian while simultaneously juggling steins of Jarlsfrager, onlooked by amazed Brisbanites whose every need would be seen to by buxom Bavarian beauties, hair in pigtails.


We were greeted, if that's the word, by a large-ish inflatable slide that wasn't as huge as it could have been, and although it was white, admittedly, it was made of plastic, not snow. It ran from halfway down the hill; the huge snowmen were in fact a large snowman, inflatable also, flanked by mysterious inflatable banks of inflatable not-snow, also white.

There was no snow to frolic in, to make the kiddies' gloves damp with glacid effort, no snowballs flying through the air, the winter tinkle of children's laughter completely absent, replaced by booming pop-hits of the type we are wearily familiar with. Although I do like the one that goes... oh, no, I've forgotten it.

We ascended the stage to sample the Bavarian delights but the serving wenches were absent, the mulled wine unavailable, the stein-jugglers rebranded as work-a-day students with no beer and no shorts.

Still, from the stage - on which were two stalls, one of which sold sausages, the other those Dutch mini-pancakes - we could now see that the actual sliding parts of the slide did have genuine snow upon them, so bolstered by this tepid consolation we embarked upon our Cresta run.

Actually Eloise and Lyra were quite excited as we climbed the short climb to Base Camp One, where we sat down upon our strangely circular plastic "toboggans" and, breathless with anticipation, got ourselves moving, paired up, using the Time Warp method.

And although the ride was far from rapid, after our "sledges" had ploughed into the snow on the way down, rotating gently as they built up speed, we did indeed end up with damp bottoms.

Lyra, at the bottom, being Lyra, decided that the snow deserved to be eaten. And so she ate it. And, even after Dutch mini-pancakes and some Bavarian sausage, she went back for seconds, and thirds.

Jun 27, 2015

Not Just Let It Go

Lyra got a Frozen motif painted onto her face to go with her Frozen dress. Or, she calls it, her "Let It Go."

Jun 24, 2015

She Ain't No Ladybird

After swimming, we had some chores. A school application to deliver and some shopping. Lyra consistently refused to get into the car, which was frustrating but at the same time exasperating but - because she did it with a smile on her face and in a reasonably cute way - at the same time just sort of sighingly put-up-with-able.

Although when we decided to catch a train into town, and missed it because of her shenanigans, it did go back to being frustrating, but at the same time annoying.

All of which was also good fun because she had decided to wear her ladybird outfit, and would not be deterred.

So we trotted around the Sciencentre [sic] and played on all the thingummybobs for a couple of hours with her dressed as Gaston from Ben and Holly. Which was a real pain in the arse when it came to toilet time, at which point she decided normal clothes might be better.

Jun 23, 2015

Choral Fanfare Competition

Eloise is in the school choir, and seems to enjoy it, to the extent that she is prepared to go in before school to participate in it, assuming that she's telling me the truth about that and she's not up to illicit thing-taking behind the bike racks, which wouldn't be a very secret location to be doing illicit thing-taking in anyway.

She probably is doing choir, because she certainly seems to be in it, as evidenced by the Choral Fanfare Competition, a competition that is held between school choirs across Brisbane, perhaps Queensland even, maybe even across Australia or the World, who knows?

She attended some heats from Northside schools at Kedron State High School (which incidentally, by way of high school selection for attending in the future has been now judged as "too twisty-turny") which I could not find it in my heart to disrupt by dragging Lyra along. But by all (both) accounts the choir sang very nicely, and guess what? they got through to the regional finals.

The finals were held in the Old Museum building of a Tuesday evening, rather inconveniently just as ballet class was ending. Nicole picked Lyra up from Nursery - we found it our hearts to disrupt the finals, clearly - while I picked Eloise and Maya up from ballet.

Needless to say, ballet overran as it generally does and I had to over some encouragement in the punctuality department to young Miss Kristin, who after all had denied the girls an early exit, choosing to highlight their lack of dance commitment in the light of what was only the regional finals of a singing competition after all, and as clearly unrelated to dance therefore in no way important to anybody.

So she very obligingly called a halt to dance proceedings five minutes late after my gentle encouragement, whereupon we bundled into the car and drove very slowly to the choral thingummybob, first behind a very careful (and understandably so) learner driver and then behind a cyclist riding hell for leather but not hellishly leatherishly enough for us. However I have sympathy for cyclists, even hellish ones, and chose not to overtake on the three-lane highway that he was valiantly holding up completely.

Girls safely delivered with only minutes to spare, I parked the car nearby then hot-footed it down to the Old Museum, provisions in hand, to rendez-vous with Nicole and Lyra in the foyer.

The place was ram-packed with children and parents, children lining up all in their fancy choral costumes tailored for the hallowed halls of their fancy educational establishments, hair finely tuned, nervously donning their best sanctimonious choristers' expressions before their time in the limelight singing whatever they were going to sing, no doubt very nicely. As a sledging tactic we did set Lyra off on a few of them, but absorbed as they were in the event they were in the midst of they barely batted an eyelid.

Lyra of course, it being the evening and having spent a day at nursery was suffering the sort of emotional and moral crisis that she generally suffers around that time of the day. She managed to lock herself in a ladies' cubicle, which I understand Nicole resolved by scrambling underneath the door like a paratrooper travelling in mufti disguised as a professional student.

A game of hide-and-seek was disrupted when she spotted someone with the temerity to put some money in a vending machine and decided that they required some assistance with the buttons.

After a while, and some coffee, it became apparent that our lot would be on soon (last of course) and they filed through, dressed to the eights in their usual school uniform, putrid yellow and turgid brown, hair in disarray, expressions working their way up to sanctimonious chorister but still stuck on excited and mildly perplexed. Just to be fair I let Lyra loose on them as well.

It seemed that Eloise had landed herself in a spot of bother by disregarding the uniform rules and wearing trousers rather than a skirt, but I think as far as the judges were concerned any minor eccentricities would have been drowned out by the disgusting colour-splurge of the uniforms anyway.

We made our way into the hall and managed to secure ourselves a vantage point that wasn't too dreadful. Nicole let Lyra off the leash again and she found Jessica's family to go and sit with. And then she ran away and had to be chased down by Nicole before she did some real damage.

And then the Wilston Wonders (no, really) came on and began to sing their sings and I was very pleased to hear that they were actually pretty damned good, in tune and everything. The sang a song that went de-de-de-doo do-do-do-doo very nicely, then one that had something to do with singing with nice voices, and then some biblical thing about a bloke called Joshua. That one had hand actions and everything. All very nice.

A Mum thought that the uniform would probably be the clincher and send them tailspinning into the Nightmare of Failure, after a performance she deemed as "quite good" but how she had to eat her words, poor dear, when after an interminable speech from the judges about breathing technique they pronounced that the Wilston Wonders had in fact won, were officially the best choir in Greater Brisbane, and we all (even me) broke out into shrieks of frank flabberghastment and something bordering on joy (let's call it pride) at the amazing, yes amazing achievement of each of our children. In particular.

And so, onto the State Finals at some indeterminate point in the future! Brilliant!

Jun 21, 2015

Hide and Squeak

Oh the happy days of hide and seek with toddlers, to whom the act of hiding is so much more satisfying that the challenge of remaining hidden.

Jun 19, 2015

A Reasonably Decent - but Reasonably Distant - Slide

Welcome to Colmslie Beach Reserve, which boasts some pretty bizarre sculpture-cum-play-equipment in an aquatically themed playground next to the river. And a decent slide. It was good for an hour and a half of Lyratainment anyway, though she was mysteriously reluctant to sample the delights of the actual beach, with its bridge-mungous view of the Gateway Motorway.

Jun 18, 2015

Acrobatic Lyra

Lyra does like to copy Eloise's acrobatic moves. Eloise still hasn't achieved her aerial (that is a cartwheel with no hands) which may be a blessing in disguise.

141 Megapixels of Mist

Mist Over Brisbane

A Blanket of Cloud

We woke to find it misty outside. The radio was waxing lyrical about how it was a "pea souper" and all that but it didn't look that exceptional. Nevertheless I thought we might pop up to Mount Coot-tha after dropped Eloise off at school and Nicole off at work.

As we headed down Lutwyche Road, the city ahead was shrouded in mist, but in a matter of a few seconds it cleared completely away, leaving me with the suitably indistinct impression that we might be wasting our time but as we drove through Bardon the mists began to appear again in the dips between the hills and as we climbed up the mountain to look out over the valley there was a blanket of mist shrouding all as far as the eye could see, with just a few of the towers of the city poking out of the cloud, hard and dark against the soft white ripples. The silence was not absolute but the atmosphere was definitely muted.

I set up the camera on a tripod and my phone on stopwatch and spent half and hour or so taking a photo every thirty seconds, or as nearly as I could as I was spending the time in between chasing Lyra and bringing her back over my shoulder.

As the time marched on the mist rolled away out to sea, evaporating as it went, and the sounds of the metropolis began to make their way up to us again.

Jun 16, 2015

Mount Mee Under A Blanket Of Mist and Cloud

On a moist, semi-rainy day with nothing to spend but time a trip into the mountains seemed a bright idea, and a trip to an amusingly named rainforest venue doubly so.

And so, to Mount Mee, you have to drive through Dayboro then up a winding road that takes you along the ridge of the mountains, through banks of mist, the droplets settling gently before wiping away on intermittent.

As place names go, it's up there with Mount Superbus, named I imagine after a particularly huge and/or souped-up double-decker. The sort that would have a poster or two of Cliff Richard emblazoned upon it.

I walked through some rainforest, the palms thick and dense, the bark on the gums shiny with wetness, the rain a white noise up there in the treetops. No birdsong, no rustlings in the undergrowth, mud underfoot, the ferns trembling as the occasional raindrop fell to earth.

Blossom in the Rain

In a way, it's nice when it rains. It just sort of breaks the monotony of relentless sunshine. You know how it is when the sun shines just all the time, you start to take it for granted, when every day is a shorts day and sunblock is essential. You know that, right?

It's winter here now and while it's lovely during the day, what with the relentless sunshine and all that - which actually I don't really take for granted, coming from climes where winter means perpetual darkness and clammy, clagging, persistent cold - the nights are chilly and the mornings very fresh and the weather very dry.

So a little rain, just a temperate amount, rather than the deluges we have been treated to over the last few months, is welcome. A greying of the sky, a bit of shower in the air, enough rain to get the gutters flowing without becoming rivers, a sheen on the road and a bit less glare on the eyes, that's welcome. A bit warmer at night with the clouds. Very nice, for a while. Maybe a couple of days.

Then we'll have the sunshine back, please.

Jun 15, 2015


I've just watched Tomorrowland, and now I am having coffee ground. It's cloudy and it's cool but the sun is gently warming the skin on my neck.

Jun 14, 2015

Any Two Five Eleveniss?

The tennis racquet got an outing on Sunday even if the sewing machine didn't; There was an enforced bedroom-tidy followed by a visit from Hannah. Tennis stuff was taken to the nearest available court - I mean, car park, and balls batted backwards and forwards.

Lyra and I went to see how they were getting on after a while and we went swinging in the tree.

Afterwards Eloise and Hannah buggered off round hers to watch some flick or other and Lyra and I made ourselves busy, she watching the Octonauts ad bleeding nauseam, me fiddling with belly button fluff or something or nothing. Or housework. Or not. Who knows? I don't remember.

Jun 13, 2015

Just You and Me, Kiddos

Nicole naffed off on Saturday morning to Perth for a Nerdy Nursey Cosy Conflab, leaving me with the girls to look after. Bollocks! Til Tuesday! Double Bollocks!!

We went to the market where Lyra did her usual thing of running completely rampant under only cursory supervision. This time she actually made it into Unwaxed Mark's driving area, much to everybody's consternation. At least she didn't steal any mobile phones this time. Or money.

Eloise did well for herself: Pele the Ham Man had a tennis racquet for her, she having vaguely expressed some sort of interest a few weeks ago in the earshot of some other kindly punter who not-quite-anonymously donated the bat.

And, in a very nice surprise, Bonita the Bespoke Dress Lady, who is moving to Thailand to pursue her dress-making business from a more tropical clime, found a sewing machine for Eloise to pursue her own dress-making ambitions with. Which is a rather fantastic result, I am sure you will agree, without actually expressing it in any way whatsoever.

Eloise has written her thank-you notes. This Saturday we'll see if she's a Completer-Finisher.

Jun 12, 2015

Lack of Actual Rain Need Not Be An Impediment

After a day of science-based funterntainment we returned to retrieve Eloise from school.

Lyra deployed the brolly, for a while, disregarding the absence of actual rain in her attempts to pointlessly hamper progress.

And then Eloise took herself off for a play with a friend, rendering the whole misadventure utterly pointless.

Jun 11, 2015

Rainy Day = Indoor Play

It's winter, brrr! Temperatures have plummeted down to the low twenties, sometimes even down into the high teens. The mercury has fallen and the wind is coming from the sea. Showers drift across the landscape, unpredictable and mostly ineffective, but every now and then there's a semi-protracted drenching.

Not the weather for outdoor fun times, not by any means, and so off to the local indoor play-centre for an indoor play.

Lyra went solo after declining a pre-play pee proposal, and while I nurtured my fortifying cup of joe she went off to do her thing. A few minutes later a Mum came back with her, crotch-dampened and embarrassed. Off to the toilet again, then, and a follow-up release of excitement. You just never know.

A little later my Good Samaritan Mum had egg on her face as her daughter, much to my po-faced amusement, belted Lyra in the face, clearly attempting some sort of egg-sucking educational experience which Lyra mysteriously failed to appreciate.

While I was languishing in the ball pit pondering my lot in life, the little treasure took herself off to the Inflatable Slide of Inevitable Doom. I caught up with her as she looked down - with feelings akin to a learner looking down her first black run, I imagine.


Jun 8, 2015

Books Books Books Books Books

Long weekend - Queen's Birthday. Bless her. How old is she? God knows. Her telemeres still seem OK though. I bet she doesn't get back pain. Although how would you know?

Anyway. In what might be a first we actually caught a train into the city to go to the book festival. We end up doing these sorts of things when I'm the one having the ideas, although Eloise was very keen as books are right up her alley at the moment.

The train was easy squeezy and cheap and clean! Probably even cheaper than driving and parking down on South Bank and the train went straight there. And trains with children, how could that not be fun? Oh... when one of the children can't sit still and climbs over everything and runs up and down the carriage and molests fellow travelers, that's how.

The Book Festival was fun, in a sort of poring over endless, and I mean endless, rows of books, kind of way. We bought lots of books. Lots. Of. Books. Bagsful. Bagfuls?

I put my back out lifting them into the car.

Jun 7, 2015

History Alive

I don't think I really want to go over the whole event-filled day blow-by-blow because there were many blows and many events.

Suffice it to say that we attended, as a family, this History Alive festival thingy down at Fort Lytton, an old sea-defence station, now disused and turned National Park. Not really knowing what to expect, we parked at the designated remote location and caught a shuttle bus that was just like the single-decker buses I used to ride to school those many many moons ago. Eloise was very keen on photographing this historical artifact. The bus, that is.

When we got there we were greeted with the vista of a field of tents from a plectrum of the eras of European history from the Vikings to Medieval Saxons to Florentines to the World Wars. We ate sandwiches while costumed... individuals... wandered around exchanging geeky historical tidbits with one another, slightly bemused as jeeps swept by with American GIs hanging off the back, rifles cradled casually, and Victorian ladies promenaded past on unlikely-looking contraptions of dubious provenance. All, strangely, or not, with Australian accents.

Eloise tried on some armour, as you can see. She climbed on a Penny Farthing, played on a Celtic Harp, tried her hand at weaving on a loom invented by the Vikings, sampled some Medieval Herbs (the cooking variety).

Lyra did her usual trick of interpreting every roped-off section as an invitation. I had to retrieve her from the museum when she broke into a display and tried to get on a genuine WW2 motorbike.

The sun was hot for an Autumn day and we tried to stick to the shade as much as we could but there was precious little to be had, so we headed off up to the actual fort and diddled around there. After a while some people started shooting guns, with big bangs! That was exciting, grown men in pith helmets showing off their weaponry.

We rounded off the day by sitting next to some 64-pound cannons as they shot blanks across the Brisbane River. Those bangs put the previous bangs into perspective. Although the men who let off the cannons also wore pith helmets. Clearly men who wear pith helmets enjoy a bang or two.

Then a short tour around a home-made Portuguese Caravel! What could be funnerer?!

Jun 5, 2015

At the Library

I'd like to return my child please. Sorry, renew, I mean.

Jun 3, 2015

On Her Trolley

The scenario here is that Lyra does not wish to use the legs that Nature gave her to convey her around the shop, and I do not wish to carry her as my neck is giving me effing gip and frankly I'm over it, and have you tried carrying a child and simultaneously pushing a trolley? I doubt that. You probably have a child that doesn't mind bloody rising in one like a normal child does.

So Lyra furthermore does not wish to share cabin space in the trolley with actual shopping, and she does not wish to use the seat, probably because she doesn't want to look at me, who knows I wouldn't, but maybe just because she wants to see where she's going and whether there are any child-height bargains to be grabbed.

So the compromise that she comes up with, if you can call it a compromise, is that she will use the seat, but backwards, with her legs draped over the chromium seat-back and the blood-supply cut off, pins and needles spreading down her legs as we move from aisle to aisle.

Jun 2, 2015

International Student Exchange

One sunny Tuesday I found myself in the company of the surreally tall international student Alex. Marion has students stay with her to improve their English whilst staying with local families as they study English here at some mysterious school called Langports, which seems to be very popular. We know a few people who host students but none seem to do it as inclusively or as well as Marion does.

Anyway, Alex apparently wanted to see some bushy nature, and Marion asked me to act as a guide, which, with a slightly raised eyebrow I agreed to do.

It was a tight fit in our little car, what with Alex's considerable stature, and I thought that perhaps a nearby bush venue might be best but halfway to the general location of Northside Forestry I thought, bugger it, let's show off some rainforest, and so I drove us up to Mount Glorious for a hike through the figs and the ferns and the palms.

With the recent rain I thought it might be interesting to see what it was like and it was drier than I thought it might have been but still pleasantly moist with a few little creeks gurgling away as we made our way down to the waterfall at the bottom of the walk discussing what it was like to be a youth these days.

I remember being twenty, vaguely.

We also discussed the reasons why, when you're twenty, your memory might become a little vague.

It was a pleasant enough way to pass a few hours, and I do like to have a bit of a root around the dark crevices. Alex enjoyed taking pictures of mushrooms, inexplicably.