Sunday, 27 January 2013

Christmas Catch-Up

In early November we said goodbye to Megan and John who had come out to visit us in October, and we haven't stopped since then.

Oscar's kindergarden group put on a concert, with silly songs and carols. Oscar sat at the front and played an energetic part, displaying his Macdiarmid genes when he had forgotten the words by ad libbing along with the rest of the kids. We had an early birthday party for Oscar at an indoor play ("out tunnel slide") centre called Lollipops, so that his kindy friends who were going away for the summer holidays could have one last hurrah together.

Oscar "graduated" from kindy - which just means he stopped going because the summer holidays had started. At this point life stopped flying along, and began to crawl - particularly for Rae who was in charge of the entire entertainment programme. The summer holidays in Australia are 8 weeks long and we weren't used to that length of a break at this time of year. Adding to everyone's frustration and misery (!) was the fact that most of Oscar's friends went away to visit their families. But Rae, ever an engine of creativity and imagination, perservered and found plenty of things for the boy to do and even managed to organise a rendezvous with friends who had moved down to Melbourne in November.

As Christmas got closer the boughs of holly came out. The bulk of our decorations are from Indonesia but Rae, utilising her arts and crafty ways, has been slowly adding to them. Eventually we will ship our stuff over from the UK and have our lovely lights, baulbles and ornaments. That said, there are really only one thing we need to make up a Christmas - "The Boys"!

On the 15th of December we had a break from Queensland and flew south to Melbourne for some cooler weather and a touch of culture. While Jason and Rachel were away in the UK for Christmas we had use of their central Melbourne apartment for a week. Conveniently situated near Southern Cross station and the free City Circle tram route we spent the whole time out and about. The day we arrived we went straight to the Melbourne Museum, which we'd visited in 2009. Oscar was old enough to enjoy it this time and we spent 2 or 3 hours idly ambling around the collections and displays - though mostly in the dinosaur hall. Australia's city of culture also treated us to a six hour visit to the Melbourne Bity Zoo - and for the time Oscar wasn't the first to flake out, but by the time we got back to the flat all three of us were shattered, two trips to the aquarium (thankfully we'd invested in annual passes) that let us catch up with the Gilson's who'd moved from Brisbane to Melbourne a few weeks before, many, many tram rides thanks to the chaotic new digital pass system that patently did not work, a wander through the Victoria Market (where we were sad to find that the hammock quarter was no longer to be found), an afternoon at the Science Works - and interactive children's museum - and a day of parks, ice creams and lazy walks along the bay when we met up with the Gilsons again. December 23rd, our last day in Melbourne, was a 40C scorcher so we finished our city break with a river cruise up the Yarra and a trip to the 88th floor of the Eureka tower.

Aside from seeing his little mate James again, Oscar's highlight of the visit was zombie hunting in the old alley ways in the city. Rae's was making 75 origami wishing stars to say thank you to Jason and Rachel for giving us their flat for the week, while mine was buying Oscar his first Vans shoes.

On Christmas Eve Oscar spoke with Father Christmas on "Skype" to find out that he had made the "good boy" list and Father Christmas would deliver Oscar's presents as planned. The next day, after emptying out his stocking we went to Southbank with Richard, Sophie and their boys Rufus and Harvey who brought bacon butties and bucks fizz. While the adults chatted the kids played in the water until Rufus and Harvey had to go home for their naps. We followed this with a visit to the Gold Coast for a couple of hours on the beach, and then home to open more presents - mostly Oscar's but one or two for Mummy and Daddy.

His real birthday, on Boxing Day, was far more subdued with a boys trip to the cinema to see The Hobbit. Coincidentally December 26th was also the film's opening day in Australia. A struggle of epic proportions ensued because Oscar decided at the last minute that he absolutely, positively did not want to go Charlie. Rae's best diplomatic skills came into play and she ended up coming along, sneaking herself into the cinema to keep Oscar calm. Under the guise of going for popcorn and drinks she slipped out and managed to get some time to herself. Oscar and his daddy managed to have a great time - Daddy's favourite part was seeing the hi-def 48FPS waterfall in the background as the moon runes were revealed on Thorin's map. Oscar's favourite part was when all the dwarves burped in unison. Mine was wearing matching Bilbo Baggins shirts and looking like a pair of Siamese dorks.

After seeing The Hobbit we had Richard and Sophie, with Rufus and Harvey over for afternoon nibbles to mark Oscar's real birthday, and then caught up with them on New Year's Eve and saw 2013 in. Well, Rae did - Oscar and I were asleep.

So that's a wrap - the last few months of 2012 were great fun and we expect more to come in 2013. Oscar starts Prep on the 29 January and he is in full denial mode and will not even try on his uniform. As far as he is concerned, the only good thing about going to school is the gigantic backpack which he proudly wears around the house as it makes him look like a tortoise. Currently trying to get the Pajero (yes, it still lives) up to spec for a trip out to Winton, in central Queensland, for April. With my current form I expect my next post will be to update everyone once we get back from our holiday!

Go Home Weather, You're Drunk

It's been 6 months since my last post (almost to the day) and I'm breaking silence to make a comment on  the weather we've been encountering - not just the last few days as the ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald tracked down the coast and emptied its bladder on us, but the week or so before that when SA and NSW were baking under blazing skies and record temperatures of +47C.

At the same time up here in QLD we've had months of no rains - literally no rains - during the rainy season. And then it all gets dumped on us in a week. Our yellow lawns are now inundated, and the water tanks are full - yay we can flush the toilets again ;)

On this most  British of  Australia Day public holidays we are off down to see what the level of the Brisbane River is, take some photos of the flooding and grab some brekkie.

UPDATE: Just back from our recce run through Hendra, Ascot and Eagle Farm - plenty of trees down and the police are out re-directing traffic where the roads are blocked, Energex are out restoring power and the Brisbane River is already flooding near Bulimba.  Click the photo below to see half a dozen photos we snapped this morning.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Oscar's new passion is space. He lives, eats and breathes it at the moment so when I saw a fact book on the Moon, with pop-out-and-make Saturn V, lunar module and command module models in it I knew I had to buy it. On Sunday afternoon we read the book together, and I found the video of the original Moon landing on Youtube. He was very excited to learn that his Nanna Beckett had watched the first man on the moon, so when we skyped home that night he "interviewed" her. The next day we built the Saturn V rocket while Rae was out, and are both really looking forward to finishing off the last two models.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Happy Solstice

Depending where you are in relation to the equator, last night was the shortest or longest night of the year. In the UK, where it was the Summer Solstice the temperatures were around 14C. Here in Brisbane we had 24C weather, even though it was the Winter Solstice. What a weird world eh?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Oscar's Big Thrill

Last weekend Rae, Oscar and I spent Sunday down at Sea World on the Gold Coast. It wasn't the best of weather, as the dolphins were as dry under the water as they were above it. Still, we had an awesome time, made better by taking Oscar on his real first "you must be this tall" ride - the Vikings Revenge Flume Ride.

Click on the big pic above to jump to the full video (3:19 long). If you want to skip to his hilarious reaction to the drop just drag the slider to the 3:00 mark.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Driller's Droop

No, we aren't drilling a horizontal well. A spot of preventative maintenance meant that the mast had to be lowered for access.

I expect that we will have to pump a (viagra) pill before things get going again though.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Country Towns, AU

I had to go into Roma (out in central south-west Queensland) today and had the nicest of experiences. Firstly I was in Woolworths picking up some essential supplies and ran short of coins. Before I could blink three people were thrusting 50 cent pieces out to me. The overriding consensus was that money was there to be shared. I felt honoured, and it was only the first of three similar experiences I would have today.

The second came when I went to get a chipped windscreen repaired. Leonna at Roma Windscreens jiggered her workload to fit me in, then drove me back in to town while the work was done and then picked me up to retrieve my ute. When I went to settle the bill it was "Nah darl, that's fine." Lovely!

Then I went to pick up the spare tyre that I was getting replaced at BJs Tyres. The work wasn't done when I got there and the guy explained that he had to order the tyre in, and it would take a week. When I explained that I was uncomfortable driving around the tracks without a spare they found a second hand tyre and fitted it. For free!

How's that for country town hospitality?