Thursday, December 29

Another day of touring....

Today the itinerary included the Ginger Factory at Yandina, and the Blackall Range - calling in at Maleny.  You really do need to stay up on the mountain for a few days to see all the wonderful places in the area.  Even a week would be better, and we only had half a day.  Still - that's better than nothing.

We left Brisbane early and arrived at the Ginger Factory just after 9 am.  Yandina is the home of The Ginger Factory after it outgrew its earlier factory at Buderim, and the new site rambles through wonderful gardens with various 'pavilions' - which house exhibits, and there is a row of olde world shops beside the railway station.

The train takes visitors (for a small fee) on a long journey throughout the site, with commentary.
Entrance to Ginger Factory

The engine from a sugar cane train - built in 1901.

The grounds are spectacular - tropical and interesting, and so was the commentary.  I remember visiting the old factory at Buderim many years ago, and we have been frequent visitors to the new one and each time there is something new and interesting.

You'll need to go on the boat ride to see these - as you tour 'around the world' looking for the gingerbread man.

After the Ginger Factory, we drove through the edge of Nambour, past the new hospital complex and up to the Blackall Range.  The views are spectacular - not just of the places in the distance from so high up, but the green paddocks and lazy dairy cows, the trees, the wonderful homes and gardens.

We did not stop as we drove through Mapleton, and Flaxton but when we arrived at Maleny we found a parking spot and wandered through the maze of wonderful shops there.  We had a lovely light lunch at a Chinese restaurant, before wandering back the other side of the road to the car. I found a wonderful dress shop - with bamboo clothing - so I WILL have to go back again and soon.

Tuesday, December 27

To Tamborine

We had a more quiet morning on Boxing Day - we visited my daughter and son, and the four grandchildren as they had all stayed overnight at the daughter's house - so there was a lot of noise and laughter.

Returning to Wakerley, we watched a little television - the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and then the Cricket before we had a quick lunch and left just after 1 pm for a trip to Mt Tamborine, in the hinterland above the Gold Coast.

On the way we visited Bamboo Down Under (I am doing some research for something I am writing on Bamboo for uni).  It is such a wonderful place.  We could spend a whole day there.

There is so much bamboo growing and there is a maze, a bamboo tunnel and several places to meditate among the bamboo.

Huge Bamboo growing in Bamboo Down Under

Bamboo Pavilion at Bamboo Down Under

Bamboo Tunnel at Bamboo Down Under

Looking west from Mt Tamborine (sadly there were fires so it is a bit smokey)

The shopping area of Mt Tamborine

Christmas at the House sit

This is the second year in a row that I have been house sitting at Christmas and this year I decided to invite the family to join me for a special lunch.

The two older grandchildren helped me with the entertainment and came to decorate the tree.  There is a great covered area at the back that is excellent for such an event - everyone could be outside in the fresh air and even if the weather was very hot, or even raining, we were protected.

On the menu was ham, turkey, tossed salad, a beetroot salad, a bean and tomato salad, a peach and onion salad, and for dessert a home made pavlova.  All the food was received well!!!

We played pass the parcel - and everyone had a chance to open the parcel and do what was required on the note - sing a Christmas carol, pretend to be a reindeer, whistle, make a kookaburra noise etc.

The family played some carols while others sang, and the girls arranged an amazing parcel game where they had 21 items in paper bags and everyone had to try and work out what was inside the bag.  A great exercise, and the winners were my son and grandson working as a team.

Santa arrived - and chatted with the children before lunch.  Even the youngest was asking - Is that our poppy?  (The secret is out!!!)

The four grandchildren had a lot of fun playing with each other - as two live in Brisbane and two on the Gold Coast, they don't get to see each other often to play.

All went very well - a wonderful Christmas.

Saturday, December 24

All Wrapped Up

Well, almost.  It is Christmas Eve and I still have  few things to do, but I have done my shopping and the parcels are all wrapped.  The Christmas tree is decorated and as it is outside I have not put the parcels under it yet.

As you can see I've wrapped the presents in newspaper.  And I am thrilled with the result.  I think we are quite crazy to spend so much money on beautiful gift wrapping paper, that is more for the giver of the gift - it is we that like to look at our handiwork and feel good about how we have presented the gift.  Hand it to the person who rips open the paper and minutes later someone is trawling around grabbing the torn shreds and putting them in the bin.

I have found The Australian the best paper to use - the colourful pictures can be selected to so that they are at least appropriate - but in any case, unless you planned well ahead, you might be like me - having to use that which is on hand.  I'm happy with it.  No, not just happy - I'm thrilled and can't wait to put it all on display tomorrow.  And yes, I have decorated with my favourite colour - purple.  Purple ribbon and lilac home made card.

Bring on Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21

Eumundi, Pomona and Belli Park

We set off on our journey early, and arrived at Eumundi Markets soon after 10 am.  How busy it was!  Crowds everywhere, and we wandered through the rows of market stalls and bought a few things for Christmas gifts.  Can't say here - just in case some folk read this and learn what their gift will be.   We had lunch at the Eumundi Pub (nice squid) before heading back through the stalls and then back to the car park and the car.  It was then off to Pomona - to a place I saw on TV a few weeks ago - the Two Old Ladies Tea House.  What a delightful place!!!!  We had tea and scones before we headed off for our next visit.

Tea and Scones at Two Old Ladies Teashop, Pomona

In the Teashop

I had wanted to visit the Bamboo place at Belli - to meet Durnford Dart, or Mr Bamboo as he is known.  It was wonderful to see some of the 100 acres of bamboo!  He moved there in 1989 - and bought an old brothel in Maroochydore and moved it to the property and it is his house!  He was a most interesting man, and I know I shall have much information for my uni assignment.

The Driveway into Australia Bamboo Belli Park

I wanted to purchase some purple Bali flags, but he had none left, so I left empty handed, other than a copy of his book.  I must get him to sign it next time I see him.

I walked around and took quite a few photos of the many bamboo plants he has growing.

Monday, December 19


With Bev staying here from Western Australia, I phoned another ex-nurse from Mt Gambier, and surprise she had another from our cohort there, so we were invited to dinner that night.  It was so much fun catching up on news of each other's activities in the past 40 odd years.   We chatted well into the night!!!!

We have decided to try and organise another reunion, perhaps in South Australia, though there are quite a few with connections in Queensland.

A newsletter will be first off the mark.  Bev and I 'created' a committee, with her as President, me as Secretary and Newsletter Editor, and one of the 'team' in Adelaide on a 'sub committee'.  The latter is sending me names and addresses of some of the others, and we have created a Facebook page.

We have a number of photographs of those days as trainee nurses in Mt Gambier.  I've included one here.

Saturday, December 17

Stradbroke Island - North

The Brisbane River flows through the city of Brisbane and out into Moreton Bay, which has quite a few islands, large and small.  One of the big ones is North Stradbroke Island, and this was our destination yesterday.

The weather was overcast, but it did not rain, although on several occasions 'sprinkles' appeared to fall from above, but it was all over in seconds.  Not the best for photography though.

I drove to Cleveland, and parked the car near Toondah Harbour, and we walked the short distance to the waiting area for the Big Red Cat.   Soon the Big Red Cat appeared on its return from Straddie, and we were soon on board.  We went straight into the cafe/seating area, as it gave us a perfect view of the choppy seas, and a comfortable seat.  The journey takes 45 minutes across to Dunwich, but it was a pleasant trip, though certainly would have been better if the sun had been out, and no wind.

When we arrived at Dunwich we discovered that at near midday there were no buses - and there was an hour or so wait, so we negotiated with three young schoolies, who also wanted to get to Pt Lookout, to catch a taxi and share the cost.

At Lookout, we went for a walk around the gorge - which is quite spectacular and has been recently upgraded with good rubberised walking tracks and stairs with safety fences.  Quite an improvement from when I was there 15 months ago.

We did the walk, took lots of photos and then walked all the way back to the Stradbroke Hotel, but were just a few minutes late for lunch.  So we sat and ate our own snacks, while having a Lemon Lime and Bitters, before slowly making our way to the bus stop, and the return journey.

The bus was full on the way back, but we managed to get seats, though they were a little precarious as the bus hurled around some bends in the 10 kms back to Dunwich, where we only had a few minutes wait before the Big Red Cat appeared, and we were on our way back to the mainland.

Friday, December 16

Car trouble

I really am not good with cars - I mean, I look under the bonnet and freak out.  What are all these pipes, caps and strange things????  What does it all mean?  How do I do ....?

OK, it is not quite so bad.  I have not driven the house owner's car for several weeks, and she had problems with it.  When the owner came back to Australia for a couple of days, she drove her Commodore and it overheated.  She filled up the radiator with water and all appeared to be well.

So on Wednesday I decided to use the car - but of course I am smart enough to check the water before I leave the driveway, especially after knowing the story.  The radiator is empty.  In my car (Daihatsu) I add coolant via a cap near the radiator, so I figured the Commodore would be the same, especially as the cap says "coolant".  But the coolant just ran out under the car.

I phoned RACQ - the car emergency association of which I and the owners are members.  The guy came, and filled the radiator with water.  We started the car, and all seemed well.  He tested a few things and suggested I take the car to a mechanic to check.  So I set off to see Mario at Wynnum Mechanical, who looks after my car.  

Dear Mario looked under, in and around the car, put the pressure testing kit to work, and all without finding out what was wrong.  He didn't think it was the thermostat.  So we left - happy to know there was a bottle of water on the back seat of the car - just in case.  I then took the car to Nitro Crew at Wynnum to get the tyres checked.  He said the tyres had deteriorated since I was last there.  I've not driven the car for nearly four weeks!!!  Still, I will pass on the information to the owners.

I did use the Commodore that night - I went into the State Library - in particular to The Edge to do a class on animation with Flash.  I found it really difficult, but did learn a few things.  Would like to have been able to read the screen - it was too far away for any of us to see what the tutor was doing.

I checked the water before we set off on the return journey - with my two friends waiting in the car - but all was well.

Still, we have the mystery of why the Commodore is running out of water in the radiator.  I'll keep my bottle of water handy, and check the temperature gauge regularly.

Sunday, December 11

Me and my electric bike

I do love cycling and I know I 'cheat' a little having an electric bike, but it works for me - especially as it protects my 'dicky knee' - doesn't give me trouble unless I push it.

Living at Paddington with its hilly terrain, I didn't have it with me, but here at Wakerley, it is mostly flat land, with some undulation, but quite suitable for me and my bike.  However, finding a time when the weather was good, has been a challenge, but today I took my bike for a spin.  I initially was going to do a quick tour, and then go to the newsagent to get the Sunday paper, and return home, but on the homeward journey I chose to go further and explore another part of Wakerley.  

I found some new parks - or new to me.  It was a lovely adventure, though I feel I am sunburned on my neck.  Must get and use some sunscreen.

5W - Women Welcome Women World Wide

I have been a member of this organisation (5W) on and off for a while, and yesterday enjoyed their company for their Christmas lunch at Queensland University Women's College.  There was a short meeting prior to the luncheon, and some 60 or so members met to network and hear stories of travelling.  The group is essentially a friendship group, with members all around the world, and those who travel make contact with members in the countries or states they visit.

Often the members are lone female travellers, and there are boundless stories of new friendships and wonderful support for members in trouble through health or accident issues.

I marvelled at the grounds of Queensland University, tucked in a curve of the Brisbane River, on gloriously kept grounds.  I must go back and spend some time exploring the stunning campus.

Clearly there was a big graduation ceremony on yesterday as quite a few students in gown and cap headed towards the main buildings.  Parking was at a premium but I was easily able to find a park near the Women's College.

I found a stand of bamboo on the river bank - actually came away with a view that western suburbs residents grow a lot more bamboo than eastern suburbs residents.

Bamboo growing by the river.

After the function I drove to Brookfield - it has been a long time since I had been in that area, and it was quite a wonderful drive to see how things have developed around Kenmore and beyond.  We did have friends there years ago, so it was not totally unfamiliar to me.  I went to meet a bloke who grew bamboo for a hobby.  Below is a photo of one of the stands of his bamboo crop.

Friday, December 9

New camera

I've updated my camera.  Now have a Canon EOS1100D - and I am looking forward to using it.  I had it with me last night at a function at Griffith University South Bank, for Friends of the Griffith Library   so took a few shots from the event. 

Thursday, December 8

Funny things.............

I am happy in the house - all is well.  I have had a couple of amusing incidents which are worth sharing.

First of all, I collected grand daughter number two from ballet class as her mother was busy.  Her friend was with her, and the friend settled in the back seat of the car.  My old car does have air conditioning, but as the car is some 15 years old, it is not as fast and efficient as newer cars.  

The little girl in the back seat wanted to open the car window.  "DeeDee, how do you open the window of the car?"  I had to laugh as I replied "See the handle, you unwind to get the window open." She struggled - it was not something she was familiar with!  She did get it open.  Later when we arrived at our destination I asked her to close the window.  She didn't know how.  I told her to wind in the opposite direction.  Too hard. 

Her Mummy and Daddy have a modern car - apart from the fact that they would seldom need to open the window for fresh air, it is probably done by voice control, (or at least a button which depressed with open or close the window.)  I had a big laugh about that one.

Then yesterday I was leaving a meeting at the local club, and I found a very concerned women near her 'new' car.  Her friend was stuck in the back seat and they couldn't open the door.  I took a look and put my arm in the open driver's door, and flicked the knob up.  Hey presto.  

The lady joined me in laughing.  She has a remote control, and needs to press once to open the driver's door, and twice to open all doors, and if all else fails, do as I did, just lift the knob up.  :)

Sunday, November 27

Plenty of things to do and catch up with Friends.

It is a good feeling to have most of my major study assignments behind - I think I have done them all, but will do a quick check tomorrow.  I have already started on my project for the next semester, but I know I can have a breather now.  It has been good to catch up with friends.

I've been to Oliver's at Manly twice this week.  They have a good special of coffee and cake for $6.50.  The variety of cakes is quite amazing and clearly this is good value.

I must dine there one day - but I am a bit of a cheapskate and unless I can find someone to pick up the bill for me, I tend to be rather frugal.

It is a fabulous venue - overlooking part of Manly Harbour and the swimming pool and Little Manly Park.  

In the last few years, living in China and then house sitting, mostly to this point in the western suburbs, I lost touch with the local places, and am enjoying having the time to try out the many places in Manly.

Friday, November 25

Lotus Flower growing locally

I've noticed the pond, with the leaves which looked quite out of place in outer suburban Brisbane. I knew they looked like lotus leaves, but until today I had seen no flower.

It is one of the weird things about house sitting - being taken out of your home territory, and showing you how and where other people live and it is highly unlikely that I would have seen this little patch of amazing flowers growing - if I had remained in my 'old stamping ground.'

The Lotus Flower is spectacular - as a bud it reaches to the sky from its murky depths in a pond, often with water heavily polluted.  It makes one wonder how such beauty can develop in such sordid water!  The small bud reaches up, growing fatter all the time, and when it is almost ready to bloom it is a quite spectacular perfect specimen.

As it opens there is more perfection, and even when it is almost 'spent' it has remarkable beauty.

I drove past and resolved to return via this road, which I did, and armed with my little Samsung camera, I took some photos.  I'll go back later with the Canon.

Here are some photos I took when I was in China

A Map of Where I am.

View Larger Map

For any of my overseas readers who want to clarify where I am house sitting - I am in a suburb called Wakerley which is not far from Moreton Bay, which is at the mouth of the Brisbane River.  You can follow the map, and find your way up river to the city of Brisbane, or you can take a virtual tour out into Moreton Bay which has quite a number of islands on which people live.  

Tuesday, November 22

Discovering Parks

One of the benefits (and there are many) of house sitting is the opportunity to explore places that you would not normally visit.  I remembered visiting a work mate in this area back in 2007, and passing an interesting park.  I knew it was close by - I need to take the third exit on the roundabout, and go and see, and that I did.  Yesterday I discovered an amazing park, with quite a large lake with waterbirds lazing around on it.  

It is just such a peaceful place - complete with seat and surrounded by sleeping ducks.

Sunday, November 20

The dog ate

I don't know what I did to upset the dog, but clearly he was not happy with me.  Maybe I had gone out and left him home alone - but why attack my Chinese sandals?  These cheapies are common in China, and I used to use them in the bathroom - when I had a shower.  You have to understand a Chinese bathroom.  Still, I brought them home to Oz and they have been handy.  I am not a thong person, even for my feet!  I used to use these outside when I was watering the garden or trying to keep my feet clean and dry.  But Marti has fixed that.  No more will I be able to wear them.

Friday, November 18

New clothes

I set out today to buy some swimming togs - my 'old' ones were old, and I discarded them recently, so if I am to take advantage of the swimming pools around here (public ones I mean) I had to get new ones and Target had a special on this week, so I thought I'd see what was available there.

However, before I got there I happened to see a display in the window of Noni-B - new range of clothes suitable for travel - don't need ironing and fold up neatly and take up little space in the luggage.  (Have I mentioned my new purple suitcases??)  Anyway soon I was trying on these garments and a lovely lady Jo helped me.  Had a few laughs.  I told her that I had long been an admirer of Liz Davenport garments and I was most surprised to learn that she did not know of Liz Davenport.  Liz is from Western Australia, but has had shops all around Australia and I was a BIG fan a long time ago.  Even had quite a range of garments most of which I ruined in the clothes dryer once.  I still have one jacket left and I love it.  Wear it often in the cooler months (It is long sleeved).

I did buy some black pants at Noni B, and a purple top that I may wear to the Wynnum Chamber event tonight, and then on to Target and the togs.   I took 5 garments into the fitting rooms and came out with a two piece, and looked unsuccessfully for some sort of neck to ankle garment that I could use to hide my increasing adipose tissue that is clinging to my legs, arms, bum etc.  New year goal - lose 10 kgs at least.

And on the way back found this gorgeous purple shirt - so had that with me at the check out too.  Mmmm.  No spending for a while, but I am happy with everything I purchased, but not happy with my body. 

Thursday, November 17

House Sitting and Writing

I knew the connection - a long time ago.  Years ago when I was seeking peace and quiet to be able to concentrate on writing I 'found' house sitting.  My first house sitting jobs were taken so that I could 'shut out' the real world and concentrate on my writing.

It worked - and I continue to do it, especially to help me with study time. I find that few friends and family visit as I am in unfamiliar/distant territory, and I have no one but myself to worry about.  It is a sort of bliss.

Only this week though, the President of the Society of Women Writers passed on to me an email from a House Sitting organisation in the UK, which was celebrating its first birthday, and touting for business by encouraging writers to consider house sitting as a 'writing retreat'  Now, they were offering house sits in various countries of the world - based in the UK they have access to properties and people wanting house sitters in Europe.  Now that sounds like a good idea!

"Perhaps you could gain inspiration from 3 months calm and space in the mountains of South West France, the remote beauty of Western Ireland, 6 months on the beautiful island of Menorca, 2 months on stunning Maui or maybe a relaxing Christmas in snowy Canada. "  says the email from Trusted House Sitters.  

Check the website here Trusted HouseSitters.  There is a small fee to join, and I may consider joining when I am free to do more house sitting, but I may be booked until mid 2012.  Just awaiting confirmation.

Sunday, November 13

Authors Fair at Maroochydore

It was a long time since I  had been to Maroochydore, and I doubt that my 'new' has made such a long jaunt for a while.  (It is Dad's old car, which he bequeathed to me which is still in fantastic condition even after 15 years!)  With two writing friends from Queensland Society of Women Writers, we set off at 8 am for the Author's Fair at Maroochydore.  I'd printed out the instructions for my 'navigator' from the RACQ website, and set off.

Travelling was ok on the freeway - traffic travelled smoothly and we were soon at our destination.  Many authors had stands promoting their books, the Lions Club was there for a sausage sizzle, and CWA provided sandwiches.  It was all well organised, though some aspects of it, we noted, so that we would not do that in the event that we held a similar one.

We spent most of the day there - wandering around, speaking to other authors and yes, buying books.  I met Anne Clark - who is a health consultant and had to buy her book "Lose Weight while you sleep and eat" and another book about Karratha in WA.  I did spend quite a bit of time chatting with Anne, and no doubt will have some contact with her in the future. 

At one stage we walked over to the Maroochydore shopping complex - just to get more money!  

We found the little workshops challenging - mostly information that we knew, and they were held in a corner of the hall - making it a challenge for stall holders to talk with anyone who visited their stalls during the period.  Still it was interesting.

About mid afternoon we packed up for the return journey which was a little eventful.  About 25 minutes after we left we came across a traffic hold up on the highway - fire engines arrived, and drivers climbed out of their cars to see what had stopped us.  It was difficult to determine, but later we discovered a car had caught fire.  The fire was put out, and the traffic flowed again.

We stopped next at a fruit barn, as I was keen to get some water - it had been a hot day.

We made it home in good time - and the old car did well.  Not one unhappy murmur from it.

Is it a record?  All authors reading from their books in a record making attempt, with our own Joan Turnour reading from hers.  (I did not hear if they broke the record.)

Thursday, November 10

Some things

I no longer have a 'base' where my things are stored.  Until just over a week ago I left things at my husband's house - though I have left him some time ago.  Now the house is sold, he's moved out, and has lots of things in storage and I have things here at the house sit.  As it turns out the owners will be away for at least the next nearly three months, so all is well, but if I am going to continue here the following four months, I will need to move the things before they come back for the month break.

As it turns out, one of the owners made a quick trip back to Brisbane - arriving today - just to stay four days for a family event, and I have no need to worry about my surplus boxes, but it does create a bit of a headache for me.

The little dog was funny - didn't really welcome her real 'mother' back - he's used to me.  He actually growled at her at one stage and then came and sat beside me.  

Saturday, November 5

House sitting Challenges

There are always challenges with house sitting and two have affected me in the last week or so.  One is getting away.  It is not so easy to take a few days away - as here I have a little dog to arrange for alternate accomodation, and the other is storage of stuff.  The latter has not been a problem, as though my husband and are separated, we still had the house where much of my stuff was 'stored.' But the house is now sold and I have an assortment of boxes here at the house sit - some of which I have 'gone through' and I'll have to find space for them somewhere.  I don't have my own digs - so, as I say, it is a challenge.

Last week I flew to Adelaide for a few days - had to be there for my Mum's 96th birthday.  She had a lovely time, though her memory is such that the following day she had no recollection of it all.  Sad but true.

Mum on her 96th Birthday

The dog had gone to the Gold Coast to stay with the owner's brother, but I had to drive down to pick him up on my return, and that was the day the house had to be cleared out.  Oh, what a day!  I'm still trying to recover.

In Adelaide we scattered dad's ashes at his beloved bowls club, and I visited a friend in a nursing home, as well, I managed to visit something that I don't ever recall seeing, a famous place in Adelaide - the old gum tree.

My little red car at the Old Gum Tree park

This marks the spot
The Old Gum Tree
I don't recall that as a child I had ever been there - yet it played such a huge part in the early history of South Australia and it is quite possible that some of my ancestors were there on that great day in history.

Now I shall go and pack some boxes...................

Sunday, October 16

Frustration Station

I have had some challenges with Internet connection in the last few weeks which has given me a 'rest' from electronic playthings but very frustrating.

Life is back to normal now, but have some catch up to do.  All's well on the house sitting front but two things have occurred.

1.  We have had some violent storms - thunder, lightning, hail, winds, damage, deaths etc - and while I have been safe and not fearful as the storms passed here with little more than a lot of huff and noise, Marti is not impressed.  Yesterday it was at 4 am and the poor little blighter just crawled closer to me on the bed.  He didn't shake much, not like a couple of days earlier when I did give him a sedative.  He really does get worked up.

Yesterday I was out when the storm came, but I had given him his little piece of pill, and he was ok when I arrived home, though a little wet.  Perhaps he had been hiding under a bush when the rain came!

2.  As this house sit is due to end on January 20th, I am looking around for the next one.  I met a guy at Griffith Uni last week who is going to contact me as he plans to go away, but SB has suggested that she will consider another semester in China and has asked if I will be available.  I have told her that I will stay on, but have asked her to confirm with me by the end of November.  That still gives me time to make other plans if I have to.

2012 should be interesting.  Yesterday I attended the Digital Writers' Conference at The Edge.  Awesome.  I'm not far behind those at the top of their game - though am not earning the dollars they are.

Sunday, October 2

Memories of Dragon Boat Racing

Yesterday I was in Manly (Qld) as there was an Expo on outdoor activities, and I thought it would be interesting to see what was on offer.  Most of them were not for me - though some had appeal.  I remember kayaking on the Bisbane River, and falling out of the two man kayak midst some Navy ships and finding it very difficult to get back in the kayak again.  Perhaps I will do that again, but in Tingalpa Creek or similar.  The big wide river is not for me.

However, I may contemplate Dragon Boat Racing.  When in China, I had an opportunity twice to participate in racing in Dragon Boats, though they were certainly not as sophisticated as the ones at Manly. 

On the first occasion I went with two bus loads of students from a private college at which I taught - to a place called Tonglu.  We climbed up the inside of a mountain - which was quite extra ordinary to say the least, and with a waterfall inside the mountain. My Aussie companion and I, somewhat more senior to the students baulked when up towards the peak of the mountain were vertical stairs, and we went down another route to the 'safety' of the park outside.

After a rather challenging lunch in a small room near the base of the mountain, we boarded the buses and went to a river, which I think is the Fuchun River, and there was a park there.  We wandered around almost aimlessly for some time (we 'foreigners' were often given none or scant information about the activities) and soon we were ushered to the river and onto rather dilapidated Dragon Boats, given and oar and again scant information, as we became one of the crew racing along the river.

At the front of the boat someone beat the drum, and at the rear of the boat was the guy with the long oar, supposedly to guide us in the right direction.   The river was wide, but shallow, and the current was strong, but we travelled in the direction of the current, which made it easier for us.

At one stage the boat ran aground, and the other boats passed us.  Paddling in the opposite direction were large bamboo boats being returned to the park from which we had started.  I'd love to have had more time to take a leisurely look at the interesting scenery, which included concrete gun battlements facing the river and regular intervals.  Long since deserted I'd say, but somewhat discomforting.

The drums beat faster and we paddled faster, and despite our delay during the grounding, we managed to be first in the 'race' and arrived safely at the spot where the buses were then waiting for us.

On another occasion, which was in act Dragon Boat Festival in 2010, I was with a group of fellow teachers on a trip to Ningbo, and we were taken to a lake where they really were celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival - and again I became one of the crew for a short but interesting trip around the lake - again to the beating of the drum.

Now, maybe, just maybe, I will take myself down to Manly to try some Dragon Boat Racing - the boats at Manly certainly look more seaworthy than any I saw in China!

Friday, September 30

What is it with me and trains?

Only last week I had a drama when the trains did not work for some 5 hours and stranded me in the city and I had quite a time getting to my destination.  Last week it was a pigeon the caused the drama.

I did procrastinate as I am not feeling 100%, but in the end I went to the GU Friends of the Library event last night.  I noticed as we passed through Cannon Hill (on the train) that there was a fire - in an old building that was to be demolished as part as a redevelopment. Incidentally the second time in as many weeks that it has been the 'victim' of a great fire.  Vandals maybe - but it was well alight at 5 pm and I estimated 10 fire engines were there. (The Courier Mail were to report later that there were 15.)  So it was a BIG fire.

The Griffith event was the best yet.  The guy from Cork University was a delightful man, with a fantastic presentation about Cork University - and their projects.  One of which is called "The Great Book of Ireland" which was produced in the 1990's.  The University asked writers, artists, poets etc to contribute on page which they did on vellum.  Eventually it was all put together (work by some 120 folk) as the Book of Ireland.  You may have heard of the Book of Kells, which I saw at Trinity College, Dublin when I was there.  The Book of Ireland is a modern take on the old Book of Kells. 

John Fitzgerald, the CU guy, had some DVD's on the project and I have one - I look forward to watching it.  You can watch the video below and learn about the project.

So after some divine food, chatting etc, I headed off to the train for the return trip, and it was announced that the train would not be going to Cleveland, but to Dutton Park and we would be bussed from there to Murrarie.  Apparently the fire caused a lot of smoke and other damage and all the power was cut off in the area, so no trains.

Me and buses?  Having just eaten, I feared my travel sickness would cause me embarrassment, so I managed a seat in a bus that was going direct to Murrarie and in the front seat, just in case.  The trip was uneventful. Actually sat next to a guy from Northern Ireland!

So at Murrarie, we got off the bus, and crossed over to wait for our train to finish our journey - I only had to stations to get to.  We waited on the platform (two busloads of us) for the train that was due in 6 -7 minutes.  We waited.  Then there was an announcement that the trains were all functioning and that 'our' train would be in about 30 minutes.  So we were offered to finish our journey in the buses.  So back across the line and into the bus.

I arrived back at Wakerley at 9 pm - one and a half hours after getting to South Bank stations. Grrr.  What is it with me and trains/buses?

Saturday, September 24

Dinner with a friend

After the drama of the previous day, I needed a rest.  So I decided to have a quiet day.  That "went out the window" when I received an email from my tutor at uni saying I was late with an assignment.  Panic set in and I checked on the Assignment program with deadlines and there was no mention of the document she was seeking. 

I scanned furiously through the Uni website and there it was - a one liner in a spot that clearly I had not seen, asking for a two page document detailing ideas for the final assessment.  Fortunately I had much of it done for the final assessment so within a couple of hours I had sent it to her.  Just a little annoyed that we (a) don't have a newsletter type communication for our course or external students, and (b) that the requirement to do the document was not listed in the course due dates etc.

Still, without too much drama I had it done.  I am trying to rest and get well, so any dramas in my life are unwelcome at the moment.  Tried to have a sleep in the afternoon, but the phone rang a couple of times, and I gave up.

Last night I went to a friend's place for a lovely dinner.  Her MM was away, so the two of us shared a great 'chin wag' along with a delightful meal, and a bottle of bubbly.

She runs a Costume Sales and Hire business - and I had a peek at her new costumes in readiness for Halloween.

Scary folk to have in one's home!!!!!