Sunday, 29 May 2011

Sunday snake

Picture the scene - there I was enjoying a quiet moment on a Sunday morning...
Two sets of muffins were cooling, the roast beef was prepared ready to go into the oven, Sibs and her cousin were on their way to the park so that I could prepare lunch before we all head off to watch the Queensland Reds this afternoon at Suncorp Stadium.

The house was quiet for about 30 seconds when Sibs burst through the door -

"Quick, you have to get the camera there's a ginormous python outside!!"

They had got as far as the bottom of the driveway, when they spotted this...

It puts the only other little whip snake that I have ever seen to shame! THIS was a snake!

It was sunning itself on the roof of next doors garage. Too close, way too close to my house!
I suppose it could have been could have been sunning itself on my garage!

I know that carpet pythons are supposed to be quite common
 but somehow I didn't apply that knowledge to me and my home. 
I didn't think about the fact too much...

About ten minutes after it was first spotted there was an almighty racket of noise from the birds.
When I went to investigate about half a dozen noisy miners were hovering and swooping around the snake.
It curled itself up and then slithered away into the roof space to escape.

And that was the end of the 'excitement' for the morning.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

State of Origin

It's State of Origin 1st night in Brisbane tonight.

The city is decked out in maroon today, even the public transport buses got into the spirit. Suncorp Stadium and the suburb of Paddington had a carnival atmosphere when I drove past on my home from work this evening.

cup cakes from Vanilla Pod in Ascot

So what is it all about?

State of Origin is a series of three rugby league games. The teams represent the states of Queensland and New South Wales and the players play for the state where they started their senior rugby career - hence the name State of Origin.
The Queensland team are usually referred to as the Maroons and the New South Wales team are known as the Blues. Now I know accents can make words sounds different, but I don't quite 'get' the way Australians pronounce Maroons! They say "Maroans"'s Marooooons!!

Anyhow, whatever the way you pronounce the names of the teams there is tremendous rivalry between these two states and State of Origin is fiercely contested.
Tickets are sold out, parties are held, even some of the local cinemas are showing the game, supermarkets remind everyone of all the 'essential' foods that you need for the evening and pizza take away places make a fortune.

Neil is there somewhere amongst the 52,000 fans cheering on his adopted state. I have the TV on and keep scouring the crowd shots, but everyone looks the same in their maroon tops with a few blue ones dotted around.

Tomorrow's morning tea conversations will inevitably be an analysis of the game, so maybe I should concentrate a little more...

"Go the Marooooons!"

It's Wednesday already, so it's link up with Sarah
Good Life Wednesdays

Friday, 20 May 2011

I can sing a rainbow...

What a rainbow...

This is the rainbow that was in the sky yesterday morning.
It was a grey, dull, pouring with rain kind of morning and in the middle if it all was this glorious rainbow.
This is what it actually looked like - those colours are the true colours, without touch up. I zoomed in, but that's it. I have never seen such a colourful rainbow. Look at how the beams of light have coloured the leaves in the bottom right hand corner. When I looked closely I realised that it was a double rainbow with the dark arc between them, but by the time I went inside to get my camera the second rainbow had faded somewhat.

If you look really closely you can just about see it.

"My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:"

(Wordsworth - My Heart Leaps Up)

Even through the rain, that sight puts a sparkle in your day doesn't it?

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

feeling the cold and fireplace ramblings

I was chatting to my mum on the phone the other night and telling her about our new fireplace, and it got me thinking.
When we lived in the Yorkshire Dales it was cold - really cold....your ears would tingle kind of cold. When I catch myself complaining about the temperature drop here I remind myself what cold really means...

I remember going for Sunday walks along the canal and everything was frozen solid and the ducks and swans were skating! We would head home for milky coffee or hot chocolate and thaw out in front of the fire.
This was the scene at the back of our house.

We had central heating in the form of radiators but during the real Winter months what I really wanted was a real roaring fire.

In one living room we had a gas fire that was supposed to look like a real fire and in the other was a fireplace that was just for decoration.

I couldn't believe my luck when I came to look around the house that we eventually bought here in Queensland and noticed that it had a real open fire. The previous owners told us that they hadn't used it in over ten years, but I wasn't perturbed - it was a fire, a real fire!

Isn't it ironic that I move the other side of the word, to a different hemisphere and to a warm sunny country and I get my sought after fireplace?

We moved into this house during Winter and for some reason or another didn't use the fire that first year. I actually think that Winter came and went before we realised...
The other reason might have been that we had some possums living in the chimney. They would sleep there during the day and then in the evening would emerge. Most of the time they knew that the way out was up, but occasionally we would have a visitor in the room. A little snout would appear upside down and then if he felt brave he would come in to see if there was any chance of food. After we bought the place we found out that the previous family had tamed one of the possums and he would join them for supper each night - honestly! It took some thinking how to discourage this and we eventually put a grate on top of the chinmey. Not as easy as it sounds when possums are nocturnal and going up a ladder after dark was not an appealing thought!

Anyhow, our fireplace is now complete and this year we're really enjoying it.

Here's some before, part way there and after photos.

When we moved in it was grey walls and a brick fireplace. We considered painting the bricks but they weren't in great condition so we plasterboarded  instead. Yes, that is a yucky brown of those painting was worse when you saw the whole wall in all it's muck brown glory, it was such a flat colour (whatever was I thinking?)
As we wanted to actually use the fire, the plasterboard soon proved a problem as the smoke was making it dirty, the plastic trim melted and there was only so much cleaning I could do before the paint began to disappear.
So this year we have a rather traditional cast iron fireplace and mantle. The brick is still there as a hearth and I quite like it as it takes away from too formal a look.

These were some of my insprational shots when I was looking to see if keeping some bricks would work. The fireplace opening was too wide to be able to fit just a mantle so we had to buy an actual insert.The third shot is from the old favourite "Somethings Gotta Give" house, but I'm afraid I can't source the other two.

Some years ago I would never have imagined that I would be living in Australia and sitting in front of a real roaring fire wrapped up in a wollen cardigan with ugg boots on my feet....who would have known??

Good Life Wednesdays
Linking up with Sarah at A Beach Cottage

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

new art and etsy

I have had my eyes opened to so many lovely things since starting this blog.

prints from Driftwood Interiors

There are blogs that I read that delight the visual sense with the most gorgeous images and style, there are others that will often reduce me to tears with their insightful writing, and there are some that will make me giggle...There are writers that I imagine live a similar life to mine whilst other blogs that I subscribe to will be enjoying lifestyles that are planets away from mine! Anyway, I digress...back to what I wanted to post about today.

Through this blogging malarkey I have discovered, I didn't know what it was either, don't worry!

It is an online space where people can sell their homemade creations. There's clothes, jewellery, art, stationary, well, anything really that someone has crafted and put together. I kept seeing this word etsy on the side bar of some blogs and one day decided to click and venture into the unknown...

If you have a spare few, make that can get lost in esty! I thought blog hopping was interesting....I've fancied everything from a Mr Darcy proposal tea towel(!) to some wooden boxes and lots in between.

However, one etsy shop kept on finding it's way onto my screen...Driftwood interiors. I had been reading Kerri's Driftwood interiors blog for a while and had taken a liking to her style. There was a space on my wall that was just perfect for some of Kerri's prints so one day, I thought, why don't I just buy myself some? So I did! (I mentioned something to Neil about it being a Mother's Day gift....)

I chose some charcoal sea ferns, seaweed and sea coral prints - and I love them! It was a bit tricky to take a good shot without the reflection of the glass hence the reason that these photos are taken from the side. I think they look simple and elegant and just what I had in mind for that particular wall.

Talking of art, I have an amazing acrylic canvas that a friend and work colleague painted for me a couple of years ago that hung on that particular wall. It's very striking, but never quite fitted the space. I have moved it above the fireplace for now. I suppose the traditionalist in me figured that a fireplace mantle needed a mirror....and as I have been unable to find one that I like, maybe I should push my ideas out a little and see...?

any opinons...?
keep in this spot or continue with the mirror hunt?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Starting the week with some energy!

It's a Monday and I feel the routine coming back into my life...

I don't know what happened last week, maybe it was just the weather turning colder, or maybe I just had one of those weeks were things just didn't get done.
Anyhow, this week, I feel a new lease of energy and the urge to get going. I have quite a bit to catch up on!

So, the washing machine is on, the house has been given a once over; blogger and my internet connection are actually working so let's go!

I have so much to write today that I fear I will ramble on and on so I'll limit myself to a quick catch up of our day yesterday.

Here in Brisbane the city comes to life on the weekend. The glorious weather brings everyone outside and yesterday we joined in and headed down to the river. After a morning tidying in the garden we went to the theatre to watch a matinee performance of Grease.

 We tapped our toes, clapped, even sang along (only in the loud songs) and thoroughly enjoyed a great few hours entertainment. If you're local and get the chance to go, then grab a ticket...oh and look out for a blow you away version of "Beauty School Dropout"....just amazing!

Grease is being performed by the talented Harvest Rain Theatre Company and is on until May 22nd.

We are creatures of habit here and after the show as per usual took a walk along the river down to our favourite Japanese restaurant Ginga. You can't beat the freshness of the Japanese cuisine.

It was great to see South Bank almost back to it's glory after the terrible flooding in January. One of the pools is still being repaired and there is evidence of clean up still around, but the place was packed out yesterday with families and groups of people enjoying Brisbane at it's best.

Some scenes from South Bank -
the Brisbane wheel, the ibis who follow you around, the fabulous bougainvillea walkway and one of the newly cleaned up and renovated pools.

Just to show off this place that I now call home here are some shots of the river with the city behind.

Very different to the rolling hills and dales that I left behind...but I'm getting used to it!

At the end of a full day when the air turns chilly, what better way to finish off that to put the kettle on, light the fire grab a few Welshcakes from the freezer (it will take a while to get through those!) and put your feet up in front of the fire...bliss

I hope you all had a great weekend
and whether it's the refreshing Autumn or the promise of Summer at your place,
I hope it brings you energy and a good week ahead.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

catching up

I haven't posted anything here for a little while...
I've tried but blogger wouldn't play and my Internet connection has been somewhat patchy too.
Anyhow, it seems to be back in order now so let me catch up...

Last Saturday was school fete day. I think they should re-name it school fete month!
School fete (or Summer Fair as it was known when I was younger) used to be a few stalls selling home made cakes, second hand books and toys, a bran tub with little cheap gifts and maybe some candy floss or ice cream. Here, the school fete has a life of its own. There is a convening committee,  individual stall conveners with folders and files of information , parents, grandparents etc making hundreds of jams, cakes, biscuits, sweets, painting, organising and generally working very hard!
We (and it was a team effort in this house) made buckets full of apple and blueberry jam, some red onion chutney and 200+ Welshcakes.
If you have a minute I'll share the 200+ Welshcakes story...

I prepared the Welshcakes in the kitchen, Sibs was the transporter to the bbq outside where Neil was cooking. After about an hour of this I had finished my part and went outside to view the was dark by this time...there were no lights on...the Welshcakes were burnt!
Some were completely black and had been put in a "for us" pile. On closer inspection about 70 of the 100 were too burnt to sell at the fete!
"At least you won't have to make Welshcakes for us for a while" said Sibs.
Neil (sensibly) stayed very quiet and quietly got on with clearing up.

Later on he offered to help with jam making and wasn't too surprised when I told him that I could manage very well by myself thank you...even it did mean staying up until midnight!

Our freezer is now well stocked with blackened Welshcakes!

(If you want to know how to make non burnt Welshcakes, recipe here)

So fete day was pretty hectic and the kids had an absolute ball. Sibs was allowed to roam with her friends and they loved the freedom and independence. From last year's experience of being spent out by 9.30am, we rationed her money throughout the day. Every time I saw her she had a grin from ear to ear and something sweet in her hand. I spent most of the day helping out with the cake stall and Neil did his bit as MC.
We brought home some home made chutney and cakes (Sibs tried to buy some Welshcakes but the kind stall helper at the time explained to her that her mum had made them, so maybe she wanted something else?!)

That evening I left my lovelies at home with some friends and went out to celebrate a birthday with a friend.

After a few hours in a rather trendy place in Paddington we couldn't hear ourselves think let alone speak so we ventured to a quieter bar. It was full (so the doorman said). We think that a group of six mothers who had been busy baking, organising and generally working silly for a few weeks didn't quite hit the look of the clientele that they were after on a Saturday night!! Funny thing was, each one of us was more than happy to call it a night and head home for a cuppa! Yikees, that says a lot!

Sunday was Mother's Day here and it was also dads and kids clean up morning at the school. This meant a glorious lie in for me. We lazed around and then headed down to the river late afternoon and watched an open air movie.

No prizes for guessing what movie we enjoyed whilst lying down under the stars huddled under blankets.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

'are fairies really real?'

Do you believe in fairies?

There have been a number of challenging questions in this house these last few months.
 Some questions I'm afraid to admit I have skimmed over.  There has been some toe dipping into the reproduction topic and somehow I've handled these questions without a flinch. However, when it came to "are fairies really real?" I stumbled and struggled!

During our lovely Easter weekend break olive picking in the Tamworth Valley (here) the topic of fairies came up again. The children that we were with started telling Sibs about The Fairy Dell next to the olive groves. Each time these children visit, the fairies that live and work there leave them small gifts and treasures.
When there are humans around, the fairies will be as still as stone, but once the humans are out of sight they play and prepare for visitors.

One of the children told Sibs that he would wish and pray that night that if the fairies would leave gifts that they would also leave something for her. What sweetness!

Next morning with eyes wide with anticipation we all took a trek to The Fairy Dell...

I want to hold onto these special moments of Sibs's childhood. The sheer pleasure in her face when she realised that the fairies had listened to that wish and prayer and also left her a treasure....even though she had never been to the Fairy Dell before...

"They've left something for me too! How did they know I would be here?"


Yesterday after school we visited the local library and I quietly noticed that one of the books in Sibs's basket was a story about fairies...I guess that the question has been answered for now...

linking up with Sarah for Good Life Wednesday

Good Life Wednesdays

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Endeavour in Brisbane

This afternoon we touched a bit of history.

The Endeavour is currently docked in Brisbane and being a bit of a history buff I had to take a visit. Well, it's not The Endeavour obviously, but a replica that is on a circumnavigation tour of Australia.
Little Sibs has been learning all about explorers at school and has just completed a project on Captain Cook's first voyage, so when I read that The Endeavour was in town it was just the place to go on a Sunday afternoon.

We decided to make it a bit of a surprise outing and took the City Cat along the river. As we travelled under the Storey Bridge we spotted The Endeavour, and it was quite exciting approaching it from the water. Sibs couldn't believe that she was going on board...

There was a bit of a queue - well actually there was a two hour queue! Seems like it was a popular Sunday afternoon trip for a few others too! At least it was reasonably well organised and they kept us in the shade for most of the time.

There were plenty of guides on board who were very happy to chat and impart their knowledge. All the kids loved hearing about the toilets on deck which essentially were holes in a piece of wood that you perched on over the sea! The other interesting fact was that The Endeavour had 18 miles/29km of rope on board. Can you image getting that knotted up in the storms?

We then ventured down below and saw the kitchen where John Thompson the one handed Scottish cook prepared daily meals for 94 people. We passed through the area where around 60 men would live during the voyage. Each sailor had just 35.5cm in which to sling his hammock at night - it would have been pretty confined.
Towards the stern of the ship the head height was only just over a metre so we all had to crouch down. This area would have been 'home' for the 8 young sailors who were midshipmen and there was also an area for the 12 marines on board.

Up again to the deck where the gentlemen on board had their mess and then through to where Captain James Cook had his cabin. During Cook's first voyage (1768-1771) he shared this area with Joseph Banks and his group.

the mess deck tables, Joseph Bank's desk and library, Joseph Bank's cabin, Captain Cook's cabin and uniform.

It was wonderful to see the table set with the fine china in comparison to the pottery used by the majority of the sailors. Even though the officers appeared to have some luxury, it would still have been a very cramped and difficult place to spend three years.

A lovely way to spend an afternoon,
 and a great experience for Sibs to bring her classroom learning to life.  

(Information about The Endeavour replica and where in Australia it will be visiting - here)