Friday, December 31

Australia Zoo's Animal Hospital

Australia Zoo is very active in animal health - and the hospital is one place that injured native animals are taken.  We saw a little kookaburra in a pen - and on the operating table two koalas.  Both had been injured.  One was to be euthanased.

We were impressed with the clean and well organised nature of the hospital.  In a way better than some human hospitals.

In the hospital

In the hospital

Where's my mummy???  Help!

Sick koala on the operating table.

Another sick/dying koala.

Neat cages for sick animals

Australia Zoo

After a rest day, we ventured to Australia Zoo up on the Sunshine Coast at a place called Beerwah.  We travelled by train, and there was a 'courtesy' bus to the Zoo - though as it was a very busy day and some minor roadworks the traffic was hellish.  Still we got there and joined the throng.

This Zoo was made famous by the late Wildlife Warrior Steve Irwin who tragically was killed by a stingray barb in 2006, and his wife and children carry on the work that he was doing.  He was famously known for his work with crocodiles.  All Australia mourned the passing of Steve and I think most Australians watched the moving tribute to him and his work in 2006 not long after he was laid to rest.

His daughter Bindi is the "front girl" of the Zoo - and not only has she taken off from where her father left off with his environmental work, she sings and dances in some of the shows and on the day we were there she and her little brother Robert, also performed with their mother in the Crocoseum.

My friend and I watch the show in the Crocoseum, which was amazing.  "Awesome" as Terri would say.  
The birds flying in and around the stands and returning to their trainers was amazing, and the performance with Graham the crocodile was interesting, scary and worth seeing.

Afterwards we ventured to other parts of the Zoo - which is the cleanest, nicest zoo park that I have seen - the gardens were lush, and little or no rubbish was to be seen.  Lots of zoo staff were around - some holding birds or animals, and always very helpful.

At the end of the day we visited the Animal Hospital before our strange journey home - lots of misinformation about our travel options, but in the end it was OK.

I did meet some lovely people - in the courtesy bus I sat next to a Chinese student - and she introduced me later to her friend and her friend's mother.  The latter are returning to China (Xi'amen) on Sunday, but we all had quite a chat, especially as we waited in the bus stop for the bus.  I had a chorus of  "ni hau" when I got to the bus stop.

The Bronzed Irwin Family

Little Robert practicing swinging between trees

Terri and Bindi

Wes in the pool with Graham (who previously bit him on the bum)

Happy Camel

Snoozy dingoes

Hungry cassowary - see the chunk of food in his neck

In all a good day.  Enjoy the photos.

Wednesday, December 29

Ipswich by train

What to do?  The rain eased - only a slight shower in the morning, but still, with the skies cloud covered it was not a good day for sight seeing - and anyway there are quite a few roads closed.  We decided to go to Ipswich.

Ipswich is a very old place - full of historical Queensland homes, as well as old solid buildings e.g. old banks, town hall, churches etc some 40 kms from the city.  It is a 50 minute train trip from Roma Street Railway Station, so we figured it would be a good day out - out of the rain, interesting things to see.  As it turns out we set off a bit later than we planned, but it was OK.  

Drove to Paddo, and caught the bus to Roma St, and then quickly onto the train.  Had two low life (blokes) in the carriage that played loud country and western music but they got off at Wacol (familiar with the territory - gaol etc?) and on we went.  The scenery was every changing from the heavily populated area of Brisbane, to the beautiful homes over the other side of the swiftly flowing river, and on out through the outer suburbs and bushland that lines both sides of the track.

Once the noisy guys got off the train, we found it more comfortable and on either side of the track could see the old Queensland houses.

In no time we arrive at Ipswich, and as we approached the station we could see the flooding below - the Bremer River had broken its banks. there were no shops (not even a place for a coffe nearby) so we wandered down to the river and took a few photos, before making our way up to Brisbane Street, and wandering a short way past the Town Hall.

On our way back we realised we'd just missed a return train - but they go every half hour, so it was no problem.  As we walked past an old pub we realised they had poker machines, so we entered for a little dabble.   I came out some $18 better off, and we walked slowly to the train.

Again we had low-life on the train - two rough looking guys with their skate boards played loud rap music that had language foul enough to make a wharfie blush, that all on board could hear, as they "sang" along with the rapper.  Luckily they got off after a couple of stations.

Back into the city - bus to Paddo and back again to Ozanne St.  Great day.  (Oh, glad we didn't have to watch the cricket all day - miserable.)

The Bremer River at Ipswich December 28th, 2010

Water over the road

You'd get your feet wet on the pathway here.

Flooding under the rail bridge.

Tuesday, December 28

Rain and more rain

It seems to be that those words above are said frequently here in Brisbane at the moment.  It is our wettest Christmas for many years, and with a cyclone in the far north on Christmas Day the subsequent relentless rain has flooded much of the state.

Here in Brisbane city there has been some flooding - in low lying areas that generally flood when there is heavy rain and high tides.  It has been a miserable Christmas for some.   Not only were planned outdoor events washed out, but many folk, especially those to the north and west of the city are experiencing flooding.  Homes, property, cars, crops - all ruined by the huge downpours and with more rain forecast, there is no end in sight.

For us, it has been a minor inconvenience.  The house here is on the side of a hill - and the likelihood of it being washed down the hill is remote, but we have considered the possibility.  It is hard to believe that there is so much constant rain.

It has dampened our spirits a little, but we've managed to work around it.  We did not go to our daughter-in-laws 40th Birthday last night.  Having had a terrifying car trip three nights earlier when the rain was so heavy on the motorway that visibility was low, and water across the road saw us almost airborne at times.  The news reports list all the many towns around the state where homes have been flooded.  How awful for them all.


So what to do?  My friend visiting from Western Australia is certainly not inclined to remain indoors all the time, but it is challenging to choose a dry spot.  Yesterday we went into the city - the sales are on, and both of us are disinclined to spend at the moment, though I confess I did buy a half-price pretty top, and a simple black singlet top.  We wandered around the shops and then headed for the riverside area.  

View from the Riverside Centre

Story Bridge Brisbane

We had lunch at Coffee Club, and then walked along the river to the City Cat terminal.  We noticed the river was full of debris - clearly washed down the river from upstream but causing quite a lot of concern for the water traffic.  City Cats are still plying the river, though last week the debris caused so much concern that they stopped especially at night.

We sat inside the City Cat right up to the Apollo Terminal.  Just before arriving at that terminal we looked at the darkening sky and braced for more rain.  And it came!  The video above will show you how heavy it was as we approached the Story Bridge.  We went on to South Bank, and though it was raining hard we alighted there and with umbrellas braced against the wind and rain, made our way via the Nepalese pagoda, to the relative safety of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Pacific Dawn at Dockside, Brisbane

The storm is approaching

From there it was all undercover to the bus stop, and a short walk in the rain to the car.  Home safely again.

Saturday, December 25

Rain amd more

It is Christmas Day - so what am I doing on the computer?  My friend and I are having a quiet day.  Yesterday we were very busy and shortly I will roast some turkey and trimmings for lunch, and this afternoon we will indulge in a whole range of nibbles on the deck weather permitting.

How I feel for all those folk who planned outdoor activities today.  While it is not actually raining as I speak, the cloud cover is heavy and you can almost see written on the clouds the message 'watch out - more rain to come'.  LAst night it bucketed down.  Heavy constant rain.  We did wonder if the rain would dislodge the house and drat it into the bottom of the hill.  Luckily it appears no damage is done.

Yesterday, MM was working as Santa at Carrara Markets, so we went with him, and after a wander around the markets we headed for Mermaid Beach and drove along the esplanade right to Southport.

The rain was continuous and hard to see much.  We did pause not far from Main Beach and watch the churning seas, and a brave man set out with surf board and kite to test his skill against the elements.

Braving the waves

The kite

The seas at Main Beach

We went on to the Seaway, but again the weather made it unpleasant, though some brave souls were fishing. 

From the seaway back to Southport
We went back to Marina Mirage - and wandered around the shops just looking really and we set out to find somewhere for lunch.  I wanted a light meal and a view of the marina.  There are so many huge boats in the marina that it would be a shame to sit inside.

Quite by accident we found Rib and Rumps and enjoyed a light meal - we had calamari (so tasty and tender) and garlic prawns. The staff were friendly and looked after us very well, and yes, I will go back again.  The calamari - yummm!!!!

Afterwards we got back to the car (in the car park under Marina Mirage which was flooded - quite scary and strange really but apparently common there!), and we made our way back along the esplanade to the Oasis Shopping Centre at Broadbeach before we picked up MM (Santa) and headed to see the grandchildren.

Another Christmas Party with excited children.

Saturday, December 18

Storms continue

Each day the clouds roll across the sky from the west in a menacing fashion.  Low familiar rumbles bound from the clouds, and as the sky darkens the spectacular lightning flashes pierce the sky.  As the storm comes closes it appears that the lightning is flashing into one's back yard and the loud claps of thunder frighten us, and shake the ground.  The rain comes - sheets of it.  We've had record rains again, and storms with some 12,000 lightning strikes.  Trees crash and crumble - houses and cars are damaged.  It is scary.

We went to Manly Markets today, to look at the goods on sale as well as meet with a friend.  We could see the broken trees along the side of the roads - great gum trees, and others, carted off the roads and piled high waiting for the council to collect the debris.  

The markets were good - the last one before Christmas had folk buying up to fill their refrigerators, last minute gifts etc.  We stayed a while - bought some lettuce, mangoes, and some treats before headed back towards the city.  We'd agreed to meet some folk at South Bank - we found them and went to Ahmets for our lunch.  Four nurses at lunch - though three of them are still working.

After lunch we left - back to the house waiting for some other friends, who reneged and are now coming tomorrow.  Will be a busy day as I have friends coming for lunch too.  Monday is a declared study day.  I must catch up.

Thursday, December 16

A Day Out

A quiet morning with plans for lunch at the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens Cafe, and we left here about 12.15 pm. I'd looked at the forecast and there was nothing to suggest anything likely to happen, and we went straight to the top of Mt Coot-tha and there for all to see was storms racing in from the west.

Brisbane City from the top of Mt Coot-tha (16/12/2010)

Looking west from Mt Coot-tha

Storms approaching

Ominous Dark Clouds
My original plan was to go up to Mt Coot-tha and come down the other way via the tourist drive, but the approaching storm hasten my change of plans, and we headed back down to the Botanical Gardens straight away, and found ourselves a nice table with a view over the lake.  

We hadn't received our meal when the storm hit and our once magnificent view was interrupted by the necessary plastic curtain.  As it was when the wind turned nasty we had to move away as great chunks of water found there way to the table and chairs of those folk sitting there.  Fabulous view one minute - wet and soggy the next.

We managed to find a safe spot at the end of the table and ate as the tremendous storm hit with vengance.  Rain, rain, lightning, wind.  And it went on and on.

Eventually it settled down and stopped.  We set off for the Black Cat Bookshop at Paddington.

Quiet Day

We stayed home yesterday.  My friend B, was not feeling 100% with a mild cold, so we changed plans.  I did go and meet with A at Merlo's Coffee place at Paddington, and called in at Woolworths on my way back to the car.  Nice to chat with A, who is going to China next year.  Quite a funny story as I had sent her info about cheap air fares to China via Air Asia, but without looking at a map and checking her details, she booked to go to Chendu.  Not Hangzhou.  Mmm.  Suddenly realising her mistake she tried to change the flight but could not, so now is flying into Chendu, staying overnight and then getting a flight to Hangzhou.  Luckily all cheap flights and she still does it all, even with accomodation, at very little $$$s.

A line of storms came through last night - one before dusk was particulary dramatic over the southern and bayside suburbs, and MM phoned to say how much the water had come up at Wynnum West.  He had never seen it like that.  I had seen it so many times but not for many years.  Often those things happened when he was at work.  Still, there was no power over that way for several hours.

Later another storm hit on the western side of the city. B and I sat out on the deck first with a glass of wine, and some nibbles, and then having dinner by candle light, so that we could more easily see the spectacular light show put on by the lightning.

Wednesday, December 15

How time flies.

It has been over a week since my last blog post.  I've attended a number of functions - family and community.
This time of year is always very busy.  Last week I attended a meeting of the Bayside South Development Forum Inc, and then a party for the International TESOL College, and the next day the Queensland Writers Centre Christmas Party, and the next day lunch with a fellow uni students followed by a Mix and Mingle with the Chamber of Commerce.  Phew.  On the Sunday was a family Xmas Party - 6 adults, and 4 grand children.  I left the party early to collect my friend Bev from the Brisbane Airport - she'd flown in from Perth to spend some time with me, so we went back to the party to eat, exchange gifts etc before heading back to Paddington.

This week has not been so busy - but we went to a Xmas Party at the Society of Women Writers yesterday (I won third prize for the Annual Writing Competition (Article section) and Bev and I wandered around the city afterwards.  Very tiring day.  Exhausted.  We enjoyed a glass of red, and nibbles on the deck late in the afternoon enjoying the cool breezes, the peace and the time together to chat about old times.

Tuesday, December 7

Family Christmas Party

We celebrated Christmas with our daughter on Sunday - and her family and in laws.  Quite a few laughs - and the kids had a ball.  One funny incident to report.  In the planning M-in-law who was doing the cooking etc declared that there would be no turkey as one of the daughters in law did not eat turkey.  Discussion ensued and turkey was put back on the menu.  Lamb was cooked for the turkey hater.  

On the day - the so called turkey hater declared she hated lamb, not turkey.  Lots of laughter.  We played bowling on the Wii too - lots of laughs with that as well.  

The rain was heavy of course and on the way over I saw people pumping out the lower parts of their houses around South Brisbane, but it did not interfere with our day. 

Sunday, December 5

Success with Lilly Pilly

I'm pleased with my Lilly Pilly jam - or more correctly jelly.  I look forward to trying it on my breakfast toast!  It was messy to prepare - there were all sorts of bits in the bowl of fruit when I picked it.  One tiny worm too which was relegated to the bin.  I hand picked each piece of fruit - threw away some that looked overripe, damaged or with suspicious holes.

I've made just two jars of it - and I think I may make some more before the fruit season is over as there are plenty more on one tree.  I tasted it - rather different taste than I expected.  Rather peppery sweet if that makes sense.  I'll give the small jar to someone as a gift - not sure who just yet - and use the larger one myself.

Saturday, December 4

Making Lilly Pilly Jam

Lilly Pilly Fruit
I've heard about it but not tasted it.  The idea of trying it came to me the other day when I tasted some ripe fruit on a tree near the car port.  It was funny as an old man who lives in the next street was walking around checking out houses and renovations (there are quite a few going on here) and he called out to me.  "Hey lady" - it is funny hearing someone call me that.  Anyway he told me about the renovations and asked about the price of the house next door which was on the market a few months ago (went for well over $1 million) and as I was talking with him I popped a lilly pilly in my mouth.  He was shocked.  "Can you eat those things?"   Yes, I replied.

Anyway we chatted about the houses around here and he wandered off.  Then I noticed the other bush on the property - just laden with fruit.  Mmmm.  I might try to make the jam.

So I found a recipe here.

A Big Day - without my mobile phone!

I set off for Wynnum early - and halfway there remembered I'd left my phone on the charger back at Paddington.  Eeek!!  It had the address of my second appointment!!!  Still I made it to the first appointment and collected my printed book marks, and then asked if they could look up the name of my next appointment in the White Pages.  Mmmm.  Two people with the same surname in the one street.   I can't phone to confirm.

I had a little time so went to Mason's Art Supplies near the Wynnum Station and bought some goo that I need for my paintings.  I've decided to be a little creative and do some art.  Should be fun!! 

Then I went to a house in the street - hoping I'd picked the right one.  Sure did.  I had a coffee and chat and then wen to my daughter's place.  Not home.  I can't phone her. Then I went to our Wynnum West address, and used the phone to call a few folk and try and sort out my day.  No one answered.

So I went to the Plaza and bought a dress and a pie for lunch.  Then went back to the Wynnum West address to eat the pie and the callers caught up with me there.  How funny.

Then I went to daughter Janet's place - chatted a while before leaving mid afternoon after coffee and pineapple.

I called into K-Mart and bought my gift for the Secret Santa on Sunday, and then headed back to Paddington.

There were five messages and missed calls on the phone - but I'd caught up with everyone anyway.....

Thursday, December 2

The Astra is back

Dear Mr B brought the Astra back - a little bit better off than it was when it went - but as he says it is an 'old' car.  Damn.  I would have liked to have the Calais for a while!!  Still, I am certainly not complaining - his offer was extremely generous yesterday, and I'm glad I returned the Calais without a scratch!

The wet season is upon us - the Ashes Cricket match was fortunate that it was not a week later - it may have been washed out.

Christmas is upon us, and in our family we have a host of birthdays. Three of our four grandchildren have a birthday in December. The shops are full of Christmas music, decorations, and great displays in an effort to drag as much money from our wallets as they can.

Mr B's wonderful car !  Holden CalaisV
I've still got Christmas shopping to do, and a lot of preparations, but I have also got some study with a lot of reading and writing to do.  This week is the first week of the semester for Swinburne.

It is so quiet here at Paddington - but today I will venture into the city to do some shopping, return a book to the library and collect another one.

Wednesday, December 1

I drove Mr B's Car

It has been pouring with rain today - really bucketing down, so I had second thoughts about Mr B's car, and eventually took the key thing (it doesn't look like a key - but if you press a button on it, the key springs out!!  It was fear and trepidation that I got in and figured out where all the important things were (traffic indicator, brakes, lights (oh, they go on automatically if it is dark) and set off with great care.

One thing I didn't check was opening the window - a necessity when one is going into a car park and needs to fling the arm out to press a button, and activate the parking ticket.  There was a car in front of me, so I had time to check and worked it out without any hassles. 

It reminded me of the time I was in Ireland driving a Peugot - and could not find the button to open the windows.  I had to open the door to pay at the toll as I left Dublin!!!  

Mr B's car is a Holden (of course) CallaisV - the most wonderful car I have ever driven.  I want one.  There is a slight problem of finances - I certainly can't afford one, but it was like taking the car on a test run - and if there is any chance of me getting a huge sum of money - I will certainly speak with Mr B and see what we can do.

Perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket or two.  It's my only chance.

(now to get it back to Mr B's place in one piece!)

The Car

The car sat in the car port all day - I was hoping to get it easily fixed without bothering Mr B from Beecham Holden. He visited this morning and has taken the car for repairs.  He has given me the key to his car - but I will do anything to avoid using it. It is a very powerful car - and I'd feel safer if I left it where it is!

I may walk up to the bus stop and catch a bus to the city.  I have a couple of tasks to do - and it will be good to get out and walk.

If I go to the supermarket I can get a taxi back to the house.  

I don't even need the car tomorrow, but if I get the Astra back I will go to Coles at the Barracks, Paddington to do some weekend shopping.  I have a few birthdays and Christmas presents to buy, so I should be able to do it all without risking Mr B's flash car!

Tuesday, November 30

What a Day!!

I left early as I had a doctors appointment at Manly West - and I headed there with plenty of time to spare, and was called in early.  All my heart tests showed nothing - got a really good healthy report, so that is good.  My foot is another story - and I've accepted that I will need to see a foot specialist in the new year, but won't worry this year.

Perhaps it is arthritis - or something else. But again nothing showed up on the x-rays.  Then I went to pick up my new sunglasses.  For all the years I have been wearing glasses I've not had glasses with my precription in them until this time.  I now have "Audrey Hepburn" Glasses!!!

Then it was off to visit a friend who is embarking on a political career.  We chatted for a while.  Then I headed off to a friends place for lunch.  After lunch we walked back to the car and I noticed the front end was dangling a bit - the bumper area. Mmm. Nothing I did - and I don't think anyone has done anything to the car while I have been its carer.  I carefully drove to my daughter's place, she was not home, so I headed back to Paddington

I sent a message to my friend - her husband runs the Holden dealership at Caboolture - and asked that he call by and look at the car (it's a Holden Astra), but it is the end of the month and he is busy and was going out to dinner.  She suggested I ask the guy who lives downstairs - he's a mechanic.  Good thought!!  Which I did, and he looked at his mother's car, explained to me how it was done (mother got the blame!), and set out to contact the Holden guy about some bits that are needed to clip the front end back.

I learn this morning that he did not do so - so I am grounded.  Not that I am bothered by this as I had planned a day at home to do my study.  Still......

And the cricket was a draw!!!!!  OMG - I thought after such a good start that the Aussies would win.

My "pet" possum is back living in the gutter, and the lone kookaburra which is continually bullied by the noisy miners is still around.  

I better get back to house work and studying!!!

Monday, November 29

Mt Cootha-Gardens

I had a busy day on Saturday - I went to the Botanical Gardens at Mt Coot-tha (see photos and story here ) to meet a friend from the Society of Women Writers - it had been a while since I'd visited the gardens and I had not been the the cafe/restaurant, which has been rejuvenated recently and looks wonderful.   After our meeting I went for a short walk around the gardens, and took a few photos which you can see here.

Then it was back to Paddington and caught a bus to the city to the Library to collect some books I had put on "hold" and then came back.  Later I went to Wynnum to see a granddaughter perform in a Ballet Concert for the end of the year.  Busy day.

Thursday, November 25

A Day at the Cricket

What a day!  I managed to get two tickets on line - it was strange I couldn't get just one - the website said all tickets sold out - but I found if I booked two, I was OK.  Took MM and off we went.  Free transport to the Gabba - something one of the English fellows on the bus said would not happen in the UK he said.  There was much laughter on the bus from Roma St to the Gabba - and at one stage as we were travelling along between the city and the Gabba the doors swung open dangerously.  There was a Pommy guy and his son standing near the door - and someone yelled out - push the enemy out!  Was quite funny - the doors quickly closed and all were safe!

Picking up the tickets was no problem but when we got to the allotted tickets, we find we are behind one of the big screens with little hope of seeing any cricket action.  We found a vacant couple of seats as did all the others whose seats obliterated a view of the game, but when the folk arrived to claim their seats there was a challenge.  Security came and gave us new tickets, so we had to walk quite a distance to another part of the stadium.

We sat through the opening ceremony, a minutes silence for the victims of the New Zealand Mine Disaster, and the national anthems before moving to our new space.

The new seat was a challenge - within the scaffolding holding up the television cameras.  Clearly not possible to sit there!!!!  So we found another spot.  Security came and gave us more tickets - but we stayed near the television cameras.

But we had a good view - except we had to stand frequently to let guys pass.  They'd head for the bar and return with a tray of beers, and then go back to the bar.  Back and forth all day - more frequently as the day wore on.

Still it was great to be there.

What a fun day!!  The people around us were friendly and there were plenty of laughs.  The outfits people wore were hilarious.  Such imagination.  The Balmy Army, and the Jarmy Army went head to head - blow up balls bunced around most stands and were confiscated by security if they fell into the ground.  There were Pommy flags everywhere, and a few Aussie ones.

The cricket was good too.  It was good to see the Aussies do so well on the first day of the Ashes.  There were some 40,000 people there - and the crowd was well behaved there.  And the rain held off - there was a misty shower for a second or two - but that's all.

I managed to take a photo and send it on to family from my mobile phone.  Wow.  I can do it.

We did leave a little too early - we learned later that we missed the hat trick, and other excitement, but I was happy to get home and watch it on television.

One thing that totally amused me was the long queues at the mens toilets.  One doesn't normally see this - but with all the beer that the blokes were drinking, it was going straight through. The queues snaked right out of the loos and along the walkways. 

Tuesday, November 23

Sandwiches at Parliament House

The Smith Family launched their appeal today at Parliament House Brisbane, with the Premier Anna Bligh, and the girls from Moreton Bay College's Junior Choir sang Christmas Carols for the audience.  

We were there because our granddaughter was in the choir.  A delightful choir that presented their songs very well, and afterwards the girls enjoyed a wonderful cake, and we adults were treated to wonderful sandwiches and a cup of tea or coffee.