Monday, April 30, 2012

April in review

April 30. Day 121. Hanging on by a thread

Just another manic Monday.
The type of Monday where half the school uniform and the homework can't be found. The type of Monday where there doesn't seem to be anything to eat despite the fact that the fridge and the pantry are full.
The type on Monday where men in harnesses are hanging off the side of your building gluing rolls of paper to your workplace.
Frankly, while I know there is a better than even chance there will be some crisis in the getting out to door routine I am never really sure what I will find when I get to work *.
It's a bit hard to miss the building I work in given that the wall facing the busy Kelvin Grove Road is home to Australia's largest billboard, all 45 metres by 9 metres. Every three months the image is changed and this requires abseilers jumping from the roof and gluing a new piece of artwork in strips to the side of the building.
Then they unhook themselves and take the lift back up to the roof and do it again, 50 times in all to complete the installation of the giant piece of public art.
Today was poster change day. Canadian artist Joachim Froese's Tell Him it is All a Transition was scraped off and replaced by Daniel McKewen's Faces of Vanity Fair..
 About a third of the new work was in place when I snapped this mid morning.
While the billboard is the most visible example of public art around my workplace, it is not the only one.
The creators of the  Kelvin Grove Urban Village had a vision or a new type of community and public art was part of it. In fact, it was mandated that a significant percentage of the development cost went to public art.
There are giant illuminated balls on the side of buildings and stone carved seats, giant rock like sculptures and multi-media projections. Never a dull moment where I work. Most of this artwork you can't miss but some you could stomp on and not even notice.
The footpaths around the Urban Village are home to a quite bizarre collection of inlaid plaques with a fascinating, albeit unconventional, selection of local historical facts.
Did you know that
  • During the Second World War every signpost within 50 km of the South East Coast was taken down in case of invasion
  • The L'Estrange family amongst other feathered pets kept an emu
  • During World War Two a student had his drawing confiscated after his art class wandered too close to the Military Camp in Victoria Park Golf Course 
  • At one time during the Second World War Brisbane was home to more soldiers than civilians
or my favourite
  • During the Second World War the American Troops introduced local women to chewing gum which they told them was a contraceptive
Now that's sometime to chew over on a manic Monday.

* Here I am using work in  the sense of paid employment, not in the sense of labour because as we all know most of that is unpaid and done at home.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29. Day 120 "Suffering" for my art. Part 1 and 2

You can count the number of original artworks I have purchased on the pinkie of one hand.
That's right. Just one. A quite beautiful painting of the Story Bridge by Brisbane artist Starr. Actually it was a gift. A gift in the sense that I went into a gallery, chose it, handed over the credit card, had it wrapped and brought it home for my husband to "give" to me for our 15th wedding anniversary. That type of gift.
Anyway, as a result of that purchase gift, I am on the mailing list of one of Brisbane's top commercial galleries. This means I get invited to dos, rather nice dos with the types of people who do buy art not those who have it gifted to them when they've been married for 15 years.
Sometimes, like today, I attend the dos and pretend. I might as well. I like original art even if I can't afford it and I like champagne and canapes. I consider having to endure smooching and small talk as the price you have to pay, the suffering for your art. Anyway, the arty types tend to be quite amusing. And in 2014, I will have been married for 20 years so I might as well start planning for what my husband might want to "give" me then.

Suffering for my art 2

I can now call myself a great artist because this photo proves I am prepared to suffer for my art. All right. That's a complete load of wank. This photo proves that in the pouring rain my car decided to break down at night in pouring rain at the very busy Vulture Street entry to the Pacific Motorway in the pouring rain and had to be hoisted on to the back of a tow truck in the pouring rain. Did I mention that it was pouring rain?
Which is not to say I wasn't suffering. Yes, I've had better nights. Waiting almost three hours for the RACQ to replace a battery - yes that was the problem - is not my idea of a fun way to spend a Saturday.
But that's not the worst of it. I simply wasn't dressed for the occasion. The clothes a girl wears for a night at the theatre are not the same as one would wear for standing under an awning by the side of the road in the rain. Not even close. I admit I actually shed a tear at about the two hour 30 mark when the second of two tow trucks left me in a 7-Eleven service station to wait for roadside assist to see if the car could be started.
I hate that. I hate being weak. In terms of world suffering this is a big fat nothing, even if I wasn't wearing the right shoes.
And what's more I may have been alone but I had company (and I'm not just talking about the voices in my head here). This is what's smart about a smart phone.
1) You can call for help
2) You can take pictures to prove your suffering
3) You can monitor the unfolding election results
3) You can enlist the wonderful world of social media to keep you company. I love all the people who told me jokes, sent virtual hugs and virtual coffee, who kept checking in to see I was okay and who even offered to come and wait with me.
I could have done with a thick waterproof jacket and sensible shoes but I did feel your warmth I promise you. Thanks
PS.This would have been today's photo but I took it yesterday when I'd already blogged and that would have been cheating.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28. Day 119. Democracy in action

The Returning Officer looked at me like I was insane but agreed that it was my prerogative to vote that way if I so desired. Even my mother told me I was mad but that didn't stop me.
As a voter in the South Brisbane electorate, today I had to vote twice - once in the council elections and once in the by-election for the seat vacated by Anna Bligh after the State election.
Now normal people would have done this at the same polling booth. I went to two seperate booths and this photo of democracy in action was taken at State High where I voted for the second time.
There was no good reason for this behaviour. In fact, given that I don't accept "just because" as a reason from my teenager you could argue that there wasn't even a bad reason.
Perhaps I just wanted to test the system.
Perhaps I just wanted to see where the best sausage sizzle was.
Perhaps I just like seeing deomcracy in action so I decided to drag out the process.
I even told myself it was to because I needed to get a decent walk in and visiting more than one booth would ensure I didn't chicken out in the dreadful weather today.
But in the end it probably comes down to a favourite saying of my late father: "Why does a dog lick its balls? Because it can."

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27. Day 118. You'd have to be kidding me

For most of my life I was convinced that people who said they enjoyed exercise were
a) Mad
b) Lying or
c) Both of the above
People who exercised always seemed to be in pain, or injured or hideously hot and sweaty. There could no possible joy in any of that.
Quite honestly I blame the education system for entrenching my anti-exercise beliefs.
I'm sure it wasn't their intent, but school sport had everything to do with winning and nothing to do with participation. If you were slow and uncoordinated (yep, hands up that was me); if you were always selected last when fellow students had to choose their teams; if you were never in the running for representative sport, the system fully supported the idea that really you were hopeless and should be leaving it to the experts.
And so I did.
Until I was 29, February 14, 1994, to be exact. That's the day I got engaged and at that moment I decided I did not want to be looking at multiple chins in wedding photos for the rest of my life. So that meant diet and that dreaded exercise business.
So I started to walk and I started to swim. Eventually I added the gym and aerobic classes to that. I exercised every day and I still exercise every day.
At some point, and I don't know exactly when that was, I realised I wasn't just exercising because I had to but because I wanted to.
Those fitness fanatics weren't lying after all.
My husband and son still don't get it. They think that the need for daily exercise is just another pressure I put on myself.
In fact, it's quite the opposite. It takes the pressure off. It's me time. The only time when I'm not someone's mother, or wife, or employee, or teacher. I'm just me and I'm alone with my thoughts.
Which isn't to say that there aren't times that I still question the sanity of all this. Like this morning. It was dark when I got up. It was cold and by the time I got home it was raining.
But it's a bit like hitting your head against a brick wall, it's great when it stops.
And let's face it the vision of people swimming at South Bank before the sun had come up was unusually beautiful. You wouldn't be doing that if you didn't love it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26. Day 117. The real story of the Easter Bunny

My younger sister Lisa is, and always has been, an emotional being.
In 1977, she found herself getting very upset and annoyed that our new neighbours John and Clare wouldn't be visited by the Easter Bunny because they didn't have any children.
So she decided to do something about it. She hand made a card and signed it "from the Easter Bunny" and secretly delivered it to their home on Easter Sunday.
The neighbours were thrilled. So the next year, another card was made. And the next year another one.
Cards have been made every year since and Clare has every one of them. There have been collages, paint, pencil and crayon. There have been decorated eggs, cut out bunny footprints up the stairs and hand made baskets.

Lisa hasn't made all the cards. Over the years many family members have had a go and the cards have become more elaborate.
 The cards are a potted history of our family. Cards made by my late Dad, cards made boyfriends and girlfriends long gone are all part of the collection. And now the next generation is involved with our kids now making the cards. And every year, one of the kids will ponder whether John and Clare have worked out it is us not the Easter Bunny making the cards. (I do hope Clare isn't reading this because I would hate to ruin the secret)

Every year the complete card collection comes out. And every year they pored over and there's much debate about who made which card and much hilarity as we look at some of the early examples (especially the first one. Even now, we still think the eggs scattered on the ground behind the bunny look like rabbit poo).

The card collection made its way to my house this week and I was able to check out the latest offering made by my niece Scarlett.

They will be carefully packed up and returned to Clare on the weekend.There they they will wait until Easter 2013 to see if the bunny again decides to visit and wish John and Clare a Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25. Day 116. Lest we forget.

In the lead-up to Anzac Day 1990 in a hotel room in Instanbul I had one of the moments that stays with you forever. There I got to kiss a 94-year-old veteran on the forehead and tuck him into bed as he prepared to travel to Gallipoli for the first time since he had landed there in 1915.

Until a couple of weeks before that Anzac Day I had worked at the Sunshine Coast Daily where we'd had a keen interest in 94-year-old George Svenson of Maleny who was returning to Gallipoli to mark the 75th anniversary of the first Anzac landing.
I'd met George in Australia and it had been arranged that I would follow his journey for the paper while I was on the first leg of my big overseas adventure.
So, as arranged, I fronted to the hotel in Istanbul where George was staying. It was about 6pm and from the hotel desk I phoned his room.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: "George, I'm in the foyer can I come up and have a chat?"
George: "The weather's really nice here"
Me: "Yes I know. I'm in the foyer. can I come up?"
George: "They are looking after me really well"

At this stage the desk clerk took pity on me and let me go up. George was in bed and in his PJs but was happy to chat.
He told me his daughter had just called from Australia and he'd assured her that the weather was nice here and they were looking after him!

He excitedly told me he felt "tip top" but was thinking about the"poor sods" who didn't make it.
He was clearly tired so I said I'd let myself out. He invited me to tuck him in, and so I did.

Two days later we were in Anzac Cove and every year since I think of George on Anzac Day. This year I was at Anzac Square in Brisbane at 4am, finally keeping the vow I made in 1990 to attend dawn services. This photo above is of seven-year-old Stuart of Wavell Heights paying his respects at the shrine.

It's heartening that new generations won't forget the sacrifice of men such as George. It's the least we can do.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24. Day 115. Everybody needs good neighbours

Meet Margaret. She's my next door neighbour and this is where I see her every day, at the window of her home watching the world go by.
At dawn, she takes up her post and she stays there pretty much until the sun goes down. She has her knitting and her books and magazines and the newspaper to keep her company and she greets by name every one of the numerous dog walkers who pass by her window.
She knows everybody and everybody know Margaret which is not all that surprising.
She has lived in that same house for 78 years since her family moved there when she was six. There's nothing that goes on in this street that Margaret doesn't know about. If I get home from my walk late, she notices. If I put out the wrong bin, she notices. I see her as a one woman Neighbourhood Watch not a nosey neighbour.
Not only that, she has seven decades of local history in her very active mind and she's very happy to tell you all about it. I really must sit down and get her story.
I'd hate to think I left it until too late.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23. Day 114. Fog

The Boomtown Rats used to sing "Tell me why I don't like Mondays". How is that even a question?
Mondays suck because we have to go back to work. 
It's not that I don't like my job. I do. It's not that I don't do work on weekends. I do, just about every weekend, quite often for many hours.
It just that on weekends the routine goes out the window. Things happen in Susan time not according to the clock.
And weekends take away the big family stress points - getting out the door on time and getting homework done.
Mondays represent the first one five days of those stresses before it lets up.
So the weather this morning was unbelievably Monday, a deep fog over the start of the working week. 
Now the sun has burned off the morning gloom and Brisbane is back to her beautiful self again I realise life is good. The public holiday on Wednesday might just have something to do with that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22. Day 113. Spreading my wings

The day before I embarked on the Project 365 journey, I bought a new 8GB memory card for my rather nice Canon digital SLR and I had great plans of taking seriously arty photos every day for a year.
The photo on Day 2 was taken on my iPhone as has just about every photo since.
I decided this was a positive. The best camera for the job is the one you have with you and it was very obvious that I wasn't going to be able to cart the serious camera with me every hour of every day for a year.
So I changed focus (pun intended) and decided that the plan would be to teach myself to get the most out of the iPhone camera. My Project 365. My rules.
And then I started typing stuff. Not just an extended caption which was the plan but something that came to my mind when I took each day's picture. Again, my Project 365. My rules. Why not indulge two types of creative output instead of just one?
Anyway just to prove that my rules are no rules, today's photo is not from the iPhone. I decided to take the proper camera on my walk to The Lakes at UQ this morning. A zoom lens can be a very handy thing.
This little fellow, like me, is spreading its wings.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21. Day 112. Well overdue

I hate video shops. There I've said it and that probably makes me a bad mother.
They drive me crazy and not just because they still call themselves things like Blockbuster Video or VideoEzy when they haven't hired out a video in about a decade. It's all DVDs, BluRay and games, obviously. But I digress.
I hate the process of borrowing movies because it takes so bloody long. Honestly how hard can it be to select a DVD? Very hard it would seem.
But that's only half the story.
The real reason I hate video shops is that we never seem to return our borrowings before the due date.
Over the years I am sure we have accumulated fines equivalent to the gross national product of many small African countries. Perhaps I exaggerate just a bit but I am sure that a lot of the time we would end up well ahead if we bought rather than rented the movies.
Despite this I had my arm twisted and agreed to visit the video shop today. Naturally I was greeted with $15 in fines for late returns.
While the hideously long title selection process happened, I roamed the store and took photos. This one of the posters was my favourite.
Now, if someone would care to remind me next Saturday to return the borrowings from the Weekly section I would be most grateful. Thanks

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20. Day 111. Confessions of an online shopper

I have a confession. I am ever so slightly addicted to one-day deals. I haven't counted but I think I subscribe to about 10 of the daily deals services that email, tweet and Facebook you each day with not-to-be-missed bargains.
To be fair to myself, I don't buy everything. I wasn't even tempted by the deal for colonic irrigation. The deal on teeth whitening, not even a flicker of interest.
However, there have been battery pack phone chargers, a portable digital radio, a pressure cooker, photo books, canvas art, a pool bean bag, hammock, wonder bras, ten pin bowling vouchers, window washing, carpet cleaning and oh so many hair cuts and massages.
For the most part I have been entirely satisfied with these deals.
But there was one disaster. There was the cake. The 70th birthday cake for my Mum's big celebration. The cake we never got because the shop closed down between when I ordered the voucher and when we went to collect it.
Less said about that one, the better.
This one bad egg will not dent my enthusiasm for the deals and this means I spend more time at the Post Office than at any other stage of my life. If you are not home when the latest purchase arrives, you get a card and you need to collect your goods from the nearest Post Office.
So I was there just before 7am, having discovered that there is a parcel pick up service that allows you to avoid queues and collect before the doors open.
Today's "score", a brilliant coffee table book featuring some of my photos.
I am already on the lookout for a deal to turn my Project 365 experience into a book.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19. Day 110. What a load of rubbish

It was some time just before 7am when I heard the garbage truck this morning and had one of those "Oh **** I think I forgot to put the bin out" moments. As it turned out, I had put the bin out and it was several hours before the truck wound its way through the maze of streets in our area to my home. Stinking prawn shell disaster averted.
I love our garbage collectors. That they manage to collect bins from the impossibly hilly one-lane section of street I live in really is nothing short of a miracle. But I guess that's their job.
That they always put my elderly neighbour's bin away is, arguably, also their job.
What is unquestionably not their job is stopping to check on 84-year-old Margaret and that's why I love them.
A few weeks back there was a commotion outside the house on bin collection day. The truck was beeping and carrying on and I assumed someone had, once again, parked in a way that made collecting the bins from the dead end section of the street impossible. But the beeping and yelling continued so I went to investigate.
Turns out that when the bin men return Margaret's bin to under her house she always waves and thanks them.
This day she was perched in her normal spot by the window on the front veranda but was motionless. Nothing. When the beeping and yelling still failed to get a response they stopped the truck and went to investigate.Turns out she had taken out her hearing aids and fallen asleep. Mouth open, catching flies, looking dead to the world. When she realised what had happened she gave the bin collectors a mini Mars Bar for their efforts.
What a shame the move from the old bins to the wheelie bins means there's no longer a practical way to carry out the age-old tradition of leaving out a bottle of beer for the rubbish man at Christmas.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18. Day 109. Marking sucks

When my son was very little and they were role playing at day care he would often get a bundle on papers and a red pen and scowl and scribble. Asked what he was doing he would say "marking Mummy's 'signments".
Marking assignments. The bane of my existence. It's week 7 of the 13 week university semester and I'm drowning in assignment hell. I was marking until midnight and again at 5am. I am tired and grumpy and I would stay away from me if I were you. Don't say you weren't warned.
At this exact second I am up to date and I am not due another bundle for 49 hours 16 minutes (yes, I am counting actually). So if you will excuse me for just a second, I think I might put my head down on the desk,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17. Day 108. Opposites attract

I can only explain it as an example of opposites attract.
Packing lightly is not a skill I've mastered. After all, it is just possible I will need the kitchen sink while away and I'd hate to have to make do without it.
My husband on the other hand packs lightly, very lightly, often way too lightly. There was the business trip with no shoes. The trip with no toiletries. The trip with no smalls.
So I wasn't entirely surprised by the frantic text at 6.30am advising of a desperate need of cuff links to be dropped at the office. He was already at the airport about to board the plane when he realised the formal cuffed shirt he'd packed for a function tonight would not function too well without cuff links.A colleague taking a later flight could solve the problem of the missing links provided they were delivered to the office.
After composing a colourful text and then deleting it and replacing it with a simple "okay", I got to raid the cuff link drawer. So many options recognising his many roles. Cuff links for the accountant. Cuff links for the cricket lover. Cuff links for the bridge player. Cuff links for the dad. There is even a pair of cuff links that open to reveal a USB memory stick.
I chose something plain and conservative not having a clue what shirt I was matching. I was tempted to pack them all just in case. Like I said, I don't pack light.

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16. Day 107. The morning after

Nothing says Melbourne quite like grey skies, trams and Flinders Street Station.
For most of my life I just didn't get what people saw in Melbourne. Every time I visited it was cold and wet and people, all dressed in dark overcoats, seemed to trudge stoically to work.
Then a couple of years ago, I visited the week before Christmas and the place was pumping. People were out in the street cafes in the long twilight, the Southbank precinct was alive with markets and street entertainers and the weather was stunning.
That, and the city's very active theatre scene, convinced me that I had been wrong.
I wouldn't want to live in Melbourne but I enjoy a visit.
So the morning after the night before I hit the streets enjoying the signs of autumn leaves we never see in Brisbane.
They were still packing up after the party at Crown and the Today Show hosts were eating hot chips as they went to air.
But elsewhere in the city it was the Monday morning and people were going about their Monday morning business.
Okay it grey and the first dark overcoats of the season were already on show but Melbourne and I are now friends and I won't let a few clouds spoil that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 15. Day 106. The Logies

Life is what happens when you're making other plans.
I never planned to be a university lecturer (but a friend of a friend invited me to tutor when I was on maternity leave. Next thing I knew I was full time and the Masters on Children and TV News was being submitted).
I never planned to be the editor of a parenting magazine (but an internal transfer came up and the job was closer to home and more convenient than being a chief of staff).
I never planned to be a radio regular taking about all things family (but one guest spot led to another, led to a 10- year association with the ABC in Brisbane).
And all of these things I didn't plan have led to tonight, an event I would never have dreamed I could plan.
This year I am a Logies expert judge in the children's TV category and that means I was at the awards ceremony tonight.
How good is that? Phoneswere banned. No-one cared.
Here's what I saw.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14. Day 105. Bowled over

To say I am not very sporting would be like saying Usain Bolt is quite a good runner. Frankly, if there was a gold medal for slow and uncoordinated I would be on that medal podium. This made choosing a sport at school a challenge but rather generously the school included offerings such as ten pin bowling and ice skating for those who find concepts such as catch and throw just a bit tricky.So I signed up for bowling most terms and despite this I never actually progressed past the level of completely useless. But it was fun. It is still fun and best of all when you have children you are able to request the bumpers thus eliminating the gutter ball. Now that I think if it, bumpers at 10 pin bowling might actually be the very best thing about being a mother (ok, I lie - but only a bit).Anyway, it's family games night and we are at 10 pin bowling. I'm still useless and shoes are still ugly. But really a sport that allows you to eat hot chips and drink beer while you play, what can be better than that?

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13. Day 104. Best foot forward

The self help manuals would have us believe that pampering yourself is good for you (at least I believe that's what they say because I have never actually helped myself to a self help manual).
Perhaps if I'd read the books and not relied on the Who Weekly condensed version gleaned in the hairdressers or doctors surgery I might be a bit better at remembering to attend to all the bits and pieces we females are meant to attend to.
Anyway, from time to time I do indulge in a pedicure. I find the whole thing quite surreal. It is really a very intimate procedure to have someone fiddle with your feet, scrubbing, massaging and taking what appears to be a cheese grater to your heels.
It tickles and I giggle. Conversation with the technician/beautician/therapist (take your choice, I have no idea) is almost always out of the question as very few speak English. We all get by with a series of smiles and hand gestures. This works just fine.
I love the feeling of having my feet massaged. I love coming out with brightly coloured toes. I promise myself I will do it more often and then I don't. There's probably a book written about why women like myself deny ourselves this little luxury. I will probably never read it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12. Day 103. The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

It was December 2004. I was in a jet in a holding pattern over London waiting to land. It was bleak, horrible London day raining and obviously cold.
As we circled high above the city I could clearly see the city's famous landmarks through the hideous London drizzle but I was in no mood for sight seeing. On my lap was my then six-year-old son passed out after having suffered a seizure half an hour earlier. Later he was diagnosed as having epilepsy but the first terrifying evidence was on that flight.
It seemed like forever before the flight arrived at the front of the queue at Heathrow and we were allowed to land and were greeted by an ambulance waiting on the ground. Through tears, I was screaming "just land this f***ing thing" to myself.
Bizarrely, one of my clearest memories of that wait was that the whole time a song from the musical Annie was playing in my head:
"The Sun will come out tomorrow so you gotta hang on till tomorrow, come what may. 
Tomorrow, tomorrow I love ya tomorrow. You're always a day away."
I'm pretty sure I'd never even seen Annie on stage at that point but now that song always takes me back to that very, very frightening moment. It was a song of hope that things would get better.
Like Annie, that story does have an happy ending. Eight years later and it appears Mr O may have outgrown his epilepsy and is currently being weaned off medication, touch wood, fingers crossed and all that.
And perhaps because of that I can now see Annie on stage without breaking out in a nervous sweat or feeling like vomiting.
So it is that Mr O and I were in the opening night audience of Annie in Brisbane tonight dressed, as the invitation demanded, in glamorous attire with a splash of red.
Those who don't think you can work with children and animals really should see Annie. It's a delight. And because we live in beautiful Brisbane there is every chance that the sun will, indeed, come out tomorrow. It's just that it's not always easy to believe that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 11. Day 102. There's always one

There's always one. One who is braver or stupider than the rest.
Today we have to head home after a lovely Coast break but there was time for just one last walk on the beach. The wind was howling and the whole scene rather reflected my mood at having to go back to the real world. The beach, which for much of the stay has resembled Grand Central Station in the mornings, was almost deserted this morning but was eerily beautiful.
But even before the sun had risen this man decided to go in for a dip. He lasted but a few seconds and this is him retreating.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10. Day 101. Building sand castles

There was empire building a plenty on the beach this morning.
Everywhere you looked families were constructing forts, castles and moats. Whole towns and villages were being created by many eager little hands.
And then the tide changed. Some let the approaching enemy of the sea do its business. Some built up a levy bank and tried to hold their position. Some took great glee in getting in first and jumping on their creations.
It was a great spectacle to watch and proof once again that you don't need a screen to have a good time (although it often helps)!
Of course I will be discovering sand in just about every body cavity for some time yet.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9. Day 100. She sells sea shells

I have totally failed as a parent. Again.
When I walk along the beach in the morning on holidays I like to collect shells.
On one of the ventures I returned with a mollusk shell which had opened but both sides were attached to each other.
My son, AGED 14, says "hey that looks like the sort of thing some small sea creature might have lived in".
What? On all his time on earth I have never told him what a shell is?  And he's never asked?
Good grief. Anyway, I have no idea what I will do with my shell collection once the holiday ends but for now they make a great addition to the coffee table.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 8. Day 99. You're dumped

You're dumped, possibly one of the least attractive phrases in the English language.
Whether it's a relationship or at the beach, you do not want to be the one being dumped. It's worse when you don't see it coming.
From the balcony of our unit, the sea looked very mild today. Up close it was still packing quite a punch.
But on such a beautiful beach day it was hard to resist. Mr O enjoyed a riding quite a few waves into the shore. Without the protection of a board, Grandpa Simon found the going a bit tougher. The photo below was taken just before he was knocked from his feet at almost the precise moment he realised he was still wearing his hearing aids and probably shouldn't have been. Fortunately both Grandpa and the hearing aids survived the experience no worse for wear.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 7. Day 98. The early bird catches the worm

I was never a morning person. I was the type of person you had to shake to life at 11am but who would still be reading or watching TV into the early hours of the morning. If I was to see a sunrise it was because I hadn't gone to bed yet. Then about 15 years ago I realised that I really had to exercise and if that was to happen it had to be before work. If I had all day to think about it I would come up with a reason I couldn't. So I started setting the alarm. Now I wake up early of my own accord. It would be a lie to say I spring yet of bed but I get up and get at it but deep inside I think the night owl is still there. In any case, I don't agree with those who think the day is wasted if you sleep in. You get the same out if he day just at the other end. However, there are advantages to rising with the sun. It was bloody marvelous at sunrise at Broadbeach this morning.

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6. Day 97. Confessions of a lapsed Catholic

Hot Cross Buns,
Hot Cross Buns.
One a penny, two a penny
Hot Cross Buns
If you have no daughters give them to your sons
One a penny, two a penny
Hot Cross Buns
I was born and raised Catholic but there's not much left of the Catholic school girl (except the guilt thing obviously).
Still there are some traditions that I hang on to religiously (pun intended).
Good Friday traditions lead the pack. Hot Cross Buns must be consumed on Good Friday and only Good Friday. To eat them before then would be unthinkable. To eat them after Good Friday would be impossible as there won't be any left. And it must be a traditional bun. None of these choc chip things if you don't mind.
And then there's meat (or more specifically no meat).
I still won't eat meat on Good Friday, ever, and quite honestly I can't explain why. I just don't, okay?
And in case you are wondering, those eggs are for display purposes only. It would be wrong, quite wrong, to eat Easter Eggs before Easter Sunday.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5. Day 96. In need of an afternoon nap

It's a funny thing how tourists often get to experience many of the things a town has on offer which the locals manage to blissfully ignore. Like David Fleay's Wildlife Park on the Gold Coast.
The park turns 60 this month and despite living in south-east Queensland almost all of my life and having spent a great deal of time on the Gold Coast I had never been to the park - until today. Having an overseas visitor staying with you makes you re-evaluate what you have on your doorstep.
The park was delightful and all the Australian wildlife on show couldn't fail but impress (especially if you are English).
Personally I feel a real affinity with the koala. I mean any creature that grazes all morning and then flakes out in the afternoon gets my vote.
Isn't this little bloke a beauty?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4. Day 95. Can you see what I see?

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.
Dear Weather Gods,
I am on the Gold Coast for a week and if you would keep the weather just like this I would be most grateful.
Simon is from England and he lives right on the beach at Bognor Regis in West Sussex so this should make him feel right at home. Who am I kidding? Broadbeach and Bognor are both coastal towns that start with B but that's about where the similarity ends.
We thought it was about time Grandpa Simon got to see a proper Australian beach. Mr O was happy to show his Grandpa around.
Simon was impressed not least because the beachfront wasn't swarming with pensioners (his words not mine)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3. Day 94. Wallowing in the shallows

This will be me tomorrow - a  large mammal lapping up the sensational weather we are having at the moment. 
We are heading to the Gold Coast for an Easter break and the prospect of imitating a beached whale (yes I know this is a dugong) splashing around in the shallows seems very appealing indeed.
This photo was taken at Brisbane's beach at South Bank early this morning. I loved the light and the reflections but mostly I liked the feeling that there are other bloated-looking creatures not prepared to let a bit of blubber get in their way of having a good time at the beach.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2. Day 93. A hole in one

Q: Why did the Irish golfer wear two pairs of undies? A: In case he got a hole in one.
Yes, even as Irish jokes go that's a shocker.
Still someone in my family is bound to tell it when there's a family putt putt tournament on the go. The idea is probably to put off the opposition. Hard not to be put off by something that dreadful.
Anyway, today the venue for the great golf challenge was the Putt Putt course at the Victoria Park Golf Club and the contestants were Mr O and Grandpa Simon.
We were taking advantage of a thoroughly brilliant Brisbane City Council initiative GOLD'n'Kids which is a program of holiday activities children can do with their grandparents. An offshoot of the Growing Old Living Dangerously program for seniors, it cost just $2 a player and was a great bonding activity for the young man and the not so young one.
Apparently there was more than one a hole in one. I didn't ask whose undies.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1. Day 92. I'm an April Fool

Kermit said "It's not easy being green" well let me tell you something Froggy being born on April Fools Day has its challenges too. Yes, I'm an April Fool. Actually, I believe my mother was the fool because she was the one giving birth but anyway. And for the record I was born in the morning before the fooling deadline of noon. If only Mum had crossed her legs for another 30 minutes....
So I'm a Fool and that meant being the brunt of many a school yard joke. Naturally those nearest and dearest didn't let me off either. They'd tell me my presents were in the lounge and I'd run off excitedly only to hear "Fooled You". The presents were in the kitchen. I'll be sending them the counselling bill.
As I've grown older I've learned to embrace it. The fact is that one of the big advantages of being born on April 1 is that people remember your birthday. Every cloud does have a silver lining.
This year I was fooled again. The boys apologised that there was no present because of the bad Man Flu that had struck the house. I believed this as I had not left out any strategically marked catalogues or bought the gift and had it wrapped for them to give to me. But no. They laughed at me. They called me a Fool and presented me with a beautifully wrapped box with a silver bracelet and ear rings.
It's not so bad being a Fool


It's my birthday and I'll post more than once if I want to. With my train spotting father-in-law in town we decided the Steam Train Sunday ride that travels out of Roma Street might be a nice family outing - and it was.
Now I admit that taking a train ride would not normally be my idea of a top thing to do on my birthday but we did have a very enjoyable hour steaming around the city.
But there was a complaint. About a decade ago we did the same train ride and the young man was fascinated by the hole in the ground toilet which dumped straight on to the tracks. The sign advising not to use the loo at while the train was at a station was most exciting. This time all the carriages had flushing toilets.
Yes, it's not every day a person complains about having to endure flushing toilets but I did rather like the journey back in time