Friday, 30 December 2016
The box of cupcakes we received at work (not made by me)
The gingerbread men I made with the kids
Our gingerbread houses
Jon and Zali making pancakes on Christmas Day
and Jett doing the waffles
At the boxing day 20-20 match.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Anyway - I did some browsing at the markets - they had lots of cool stuff, and hippy stuff, and food stuff. And also it had camels.
They were really cool. Next time I’d like to spend more time and climb to the top of one of the houses. Due to time considerations I contented myself with a circuit hike of one of them, and a couple of other lookouts.
There are surf beaches aplenty but also lots of quieter small-child friendly places to play in the water. I also really liked that the beaches and waterways had lots of nice grassy spaces and shade to retreat too (particularly once the sand got too hot!).
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
I was pretty tired this morning but not wanting to waste this opportunity I managed to haul myself back out into the Noosa National Park for a run and quick swim before breakfast.
Actually I think I’ve discovered that without my family or friends to slow me down, I maybe try to do a bit too much on holidays. I guess since there’s no-one to chat and relax with (or talk me down from rushing out to do things), I just move from one activity to the next and don’t prioritise the ‘relax and unwind’ part of the holiday!
Anyway - inspired by yesterday’s paddle I headed off after breakfast and rented a fancy ocean ski from Noosaville. For the next two hours I thoroughly explored the Noosa waterways. The scenery varied from mangroves to very fancy houses with infinity pools (oh so many infinity pools), and of course the zillions of boat hire companies and watercraft. It was quite pricey for 2 hours ($80) but worth every cent.
After almost an hour of riding small sections of bike trail followed by larger stinking hot sections on the sides of roads, and numerous hills (not large but my bike was a clunker so every hill felt big), I was sick of the whole thing. And hungry. And hot. And annoyed that it wasn’t what I expected. After what felt like the zillionth road stretch I turned around and headed back to Noosa Junction the fastest way possible. Hot, sweaty and very bothered I had a restorative banana smoothie and a bit of a rest in the shade. Looking at the map now I suspect I just didn’t make it to the major section of uninterrupted trail. Once I felt better I headed back down to Main beach and sat on the grass and contemplated the error of my ways before spending a short time browsing the shops.
Then I rode back to Noosaville to return the bike and retrieve the car I left there 6 hours earlier. Phew, what a day.
Monday, 12 December 2016
Finally making it across, I entered the beautifully calm canals and smaller waterways which needed to be navigated (thankfully with the help of lots of signage on the river banks), to get to Noosa Narrows.
The Noosa Narrows is where the upper Noosa River winds quietly through rainforest palms and gums. It was really nice. I paddled up the river to a place called Harry’s Hut - 10k from the start point and gave myself a leisurely 1/2 hour break and half my lunch. People come this way for 1 or 2 night trips which would be fun to do with Jon and the kids sometime.
After checking out the local wildlife including a huge goanna I jumped back in the boat and paddled 5k back down river to Fig Tree Point which is where our official lunch stop was. I ate the rest of my lunch on the jetty, relaxing and chatting with the other paddlers.
Back in the boat, the return trip across the lake was even harder as the cross wind had picked up and rainy squalls were passing through. Everyone looked pretty glad to make it back to the launch point - and for those who hadn’t done much paddling before it was a pretty impressive effort to cover at least 14k with 9 of it in trying conditions. My shoulders were feeling pretty tired - it’s probalby been a year since I’ve been paddling but it was really great to get a solid 20k done in such a lovely area.
Back on land there was further stuffing around loading boats and great then everyone headed off while I stayed to go for a run on the track network surrounding the launch area.
It was mercifully flat and easy running so I racked up a very slow 10ish k before scraping my tired self back into the car and driving home, exhausted. Oh - on the way home, in fact just a few kilometres from the launch area, I drove past the kayak I had used lying battered and bruised on the side of the road - it had clearly fallen off the top of the trailer rack that we had loaded it and another 4 boats on to. Thinking back I don't remember seeing the driver tie the straps on that one, and I do remember thinking to myself at some point that there were so many straps and ties on the trailer it must be hard to work out what's tied on and what isn't. I was right. Anyway it was an hour since the trailer left so I drove back to the initial meeting point and let them know about it - they hadn't even noticed it was missing yet.
Sunday, 11 December 2016
After a delicious brunch back at home (scrambled eggs), I did a bit of catching up on my blog then headed out for a walk again, this time exploring the Noosaville area. There are lots of waterways and an endless supply of accommodation and nice looking cafes.
So far the weather had been pretty grey (26 degrees, but not sunny), which meant it was perfect for getting out for a run late yesterday once I’d recovered from the 5am start, two flights, (including missing the Melbourne connection - not my fault), and the 2 hour drive up from Brisbane.
I did discover that my recently re-sprained ankle does absolutely NOT like walking on soft sand, so I'll probably avoid a lot of beach walking on further expeditions.
On Friday I had a hectic day with work and then I had to hire a ute and pick up a big Ikea order from Bridgewater, so when I finally made it home I was really looking forward to relaxing by blobbing on the couch watching another episode of my new favourite scandi crime drama - Trapped.
Jett was home as well - first he was playing outside with his cousins but then they left so he had just sat down watch minecraft videos on the ipad So we were both there. Quietly doing our own things on our own couches.
Then I realised that instead of us doing our own things, we could be having fun together. I've just finished teaching two christmas cake workshops for kids in Kingborough council, and my unfinished 'demo' cake was like a white canvas all ready for decoration.
So alerting Jett to this decorating opportunity, he gleefully cast aside his ipad and threw himself into mass pengiun production. It was so much fun. After we finished the trees and two penguins I had to stop and help Jon unload the Ikea stuff (650kg worth), but luckily Zali had just arrived home and her outrage at missing out on the project was quickly placated by being required to help Jett with the last two penguins and the snowman.
So that was fun. I did think I just wanted to rest and do nothing, but the rewards of being bothered to haul out all the icing and tools and have fun being creative with Jett far exceeded anything that could have been gained by discovering who was knocking off people in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland (at this point I suspect the policeman).
Ok - I'm not in Brisbane anymore but it's time to get it part two of my swim-every-day Brisbane challenge posted before I post about where I am now..
This was my favourite pre-swim jog - down from Spring Hill and through the guts of the city then across beautiful City Park to the ultra cool campus of QUT. It was empty of uni students and just looked fantastic - beautiful gardens and a mix of old and new buildings. The entrance to the nearly new 50m indoor swimming pool was sort of underground which took me a while to find, in fact I’d probably still be looking for it if I hadn’t run into a security guard who escorted me to the entrance (because he was going that way, not because he found me releasing the animals from the science lab or anything). I remarked upon the amazing campus and he agreed with me - saying he could have been assigned to one of a few uni campusses and he was really glad he got this one.
Spring Hill Baths
I could actually see this pool from my hotel room balcony but I’d been saving it to the last day. Built in 1886 they were apparently the first inground swimming facilities in Brisbane - until then everyone swam in the river.
This swimming pool reminded me of the swimming pools I’d tried in London, with funny little change cubicles and an upper deck around the pool. It was really cool. Luckily there were only a few other swimmers so there was plenty of space for laps. It was a charming way to end my tour of swimming pools.
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
For the last fifteen years or so I have slowly been accumulating mosaic tiles - leftovers from various projects they inevitably end up piled in heavy plastic tubs stored in the shed.
More recently, the garden has been accumulating weeds at a frantic rate. In particular the pebbled edges of the concrete pathways and driveway.
These two issues weren’t related until I sat down to weed the driveway edge for the zillionth time and came up with a great idea that could improve both the weed situation AND the leftover tile situation at once. And so the Family Paver Project was born.
My plan was to have each of our Sunday night dinner guests roughly design a mosaic concrete paver that I could complete and lay into the rocky strip, thus reducing the opportunity for weeds to poke through the stones, and also adding some colour to the grey grey driveway area.
Of course I’d never created pavers before. So my first task was to work out how to do it - I really haven’t done much work with concrete - but after a few minutes after a bit of you-tubing I was dangerously ill-equiped and ready to forge ahead with the prototype. I cut down three of those white plastic tubs which can be bought everywhere so I could use them as moulds, Then I had Zali arrange the tiles for one paver, while I did another two. (it tuns out that one 20kg bag of concrete creates 3 pavers).
After transferring the tiles to the moulds, it was time to do the concrete bit.
How not to concrete:
Despite making the first of the above mistakes, the first three pavers came out a ok - they looked a bit rough at first, but after cleaning them up, they looked good.
With the concept proven, the next Sunday I shepherded as many guests as I could down to the craft area to create a design. Under the threat of no dinner for non-compliance, we got some nice results. Unfortunately there wasn’t time and space for everyone to have a go, but I got a good selection of people and generations.
As it took about a week for each batch of 3 pavers to dry, it took about 4 weeks for me to get them all completed, including having to re-create a few due to paving error number 3.
Then, a few trips and adventures later (i.e weeks and weeks), I finally had time to lay them. First i pulled out all the rocks, then put sand and stuff under each of them..
This paver on the right is my favourite - it reminds me of an aurora, it reminded Clare of the earth. It’s actually one of my grandmothers pottery plates. She used to make them to sell at Salamanca for charity. I feel it’s a bit like publishing and album posthumously. I’m sure she’d be cool about it.
And so ended the paver project. It was a long project but I'm happy with how it turned out. And as long as I don't reverse over every single paver with the car, they should last a long time!
It’s also been really nice to be in this semi-tropical environment - there are frangipani trees and lovely jacarandas all over the place. I miss them..
It is at least filled with water, but only up to 1.2 metres deep - which means it feels more like a kmart above-ground pool than a hotel swimming pool. The one star is for the nice views over the city.
Distance Swum 1.2k (slightly pressed for time)
Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Big Green Magna, you’ve been good to us. In 2007, after a cushy year with the Treasury Department no doubt moving the 2 suitcases full of cash (which contain the entire budget of the state government), you went to auction and ended up with us. You were so shiny, so new…so clean..
You immediately had to endure a baby and a toddler and everything that comes with them - strollers, portacots, baby seats, nappy bags and mysterious stains. We’d load you to to the gills with gear, then put the roof-box on top and load you up with even more. Along with the luggage you moved around kilos of crumbs and soggy food, lost socks, moulding water bottles & empty diet coke bottles. As the kids got bigger, the baby stuff was discarded and replaced by muddy, salty, sports items - bikes, boards and of course my surfski - dripping corrosive salt water each and every time I loaded it on. You even survived a trip with the surfski over the bridge in winds of almost 100km an hour (mostly due to good luck, not good sense). You sheltered us in times of heavy rain, and you only needed to get towed out of mud once, although we did once sort of run you aground on a large rock and require a tow. We’ve run down your battery more times that we’d like to remember, but you’ve never broken down on us.
We’ve covered you with dust, driven you through entire states without stopping and floored it on that hill after Bagdad every single time we’ve driven to Campbelltown. We’re sorry.
You've taken us on countless adventures, and lulled kids to sleep during the long drives this has entailed..
You've been a sight for tired legs on the Bruny Island Ultra..
and you've been on the Spirit of Tasmania more than 10 times..
you’ve travelled the backroads and byroads from Forbes to Adelaide and
of course all around Tasmania. You’ve been an outstanding vehicle, more
than a vehicle.. a ship of the road.
But now at 285000 k, it’s time to say goodbye. We’ll miss you, but we’re looking forward to having a car with remote central locking , a non-broken ariel, back windows that can be opened without fear of them never shutting, and not having to tape up the back door to prevent the road noise and rain coming in.
For the 2nd time in two weeks we got fresh new snow on the mountain. We got it on Friday night and although it was a few days later, there was still plenty of snow left when Clare and I attempted to summit Collins Bonnet on a foggy and slightly rainy Sunday morning.
We have to admit that we were both a bit under-dressed for this adventure - we had thermals and jackets of course (as one of the unique things about Hobart is that it's possible to die of hyperthermia while still being within sight of Eastlands Shopping Centre) but waterproof trousers would have been great - not that it rained that much, but all the overhanging shrubs were loaded with water which transferred to our legs as we brushed past them. The trail was a mix of paved rocks, double-planks and rocky ground and the vegetation was just as varied. I really love the snowgums and the speckled dolerite boulders which are abundant just below the peak of the mountain.
When the clouds cleared briefly we could see all the way down to the orchards of Franklin which was cool - I really haven't done much walking over the back of Mt Wellington. This walk started from Big Bend near Lost World, which I have never really looked at either (and I still haven't).
Due to being under-dressed, we did fail our mission, as with wet clothes we were both a bit hesitant to climb up to the summit and be exposed to the strong winds, so it will have to be something to look forward to some other (sunnier) day.
It was a fun trip though - and I think I'm now fully prepared and ready to enjoy the Triple Top Walk/Run next weekend.
Monday, 31 October 2016
When it's quite cold outside, and the trampoline is a bit wet, this is what you should wear on your feet (according to Zali)..
Yes, freezer bags taped to your ankles with painters masking tape. I think it's also worth noting that Zali is also wearing her puffa jacket, and pyjamas. Because why-not.
Mt Wellington is fantastic. I will never stop loving it. Two weeks ago, while Jon was doing his own run on the mountain, I walked from the waterfalls at Ferntree up through the snow to the summit - past a steady succession of soon-to-be-hypothermic-ill-prepared-tourists.
And just last weekend I was up there with Clare, there wasn't any snow and we were in T-shirts. The views were fantastic and we could see all the way to the peaks of the south west. I've said it before but I love how you can walk from waterfalls to alpine & sub-alpine terrain from just a short drive from home.
So as a general instruction to the universe, I think I'd like my ashes to be spread on the mountain (not too high up though, maybe from Sphinx Rock - just check there's no-one below it before you do it). Then I can be forever in this lovely place and I can also keep my eye on all of you.
Whilst neither the Coles or Woolworths websites are perfect (in my opinion the Coles one is better out of the two), I’ve certainly enjoyed NOT going to the supermarket for the last few weeks - In a regular week I would have visited a supermarket at least every 2nd day and twice or more on the weekend as part of family dinner preparations! Being restricted means making do with what we’ve got a lot more - we had the kids make some bread in the bread maker for us last weekend which was great and I’ve baked some delicious treats (from pantry ingredients) instead of buying delicious treats.
Oh - I must also declare that I've also borrowed and begged for more stuff that I would have - both Clare and Paul have provided things we wouldn't have been able to buy (such as chicken wire for the veggie patch, lemons, emergency food..)