Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Patrick Grieve

He has a new show on at Dick Bett's. Click on his name to see them up big. All images © Vincent Grieve.

Aboard the Ida Bay Railway

Monday, January 30, 2006

Tiny railway

We went on the little 2' gauge Ida Bay Railway on Saturday. Its a couple of hours south of Hobart - yes, you can drive south of Hobart. It takes 40 minutes to go 7km each way, through very dense bush. There were bobbly plants with about a dozen long stalks with black spherical bobbles on them - must find out what they are. The carriage was open, with six bench seats, and the engine was a tiny thing with an ordinary car engine inside it. The boys loved the whole thing. At the end of the line is Deep Hole, actually a lovely white beach. We scamped about there for twenty minutes then travelled back again.

There was once a town at Ida Bay, of which little rmains now. The cemetery survives, and the train stopped there for a few minutes. This set Marcus off on another series of penetrating questions about death and dying. We have given him the impression that dead people "look like they're sleeping". He wanted to dig up the dead people to have a look at them. I said there were probably just bones down there. "Why?" At this point Elf stepped in to head off a chat about decomposition.

Later Marcus asked "Can we find a dead person?" I said "No, I told you we can't dig up dead people". "No, can we find someone who has just died and bury them?"

The lady who runs the railway sported a fine moustache. I asked her daughter the way to the toilet. "Just follow the train tracks back into into the bush, and you'll find it behind a big tree".

Farewell Will, au revoir Marta

We had a big lunch at work on Friday to say thanks and bye to two colleagues. Will was on work placement with us for a year and now has to go back to Melbourne to complete his studies. Marta, on the other hand, is moving to Paris with her husband who has been offered a job there. Best wishes to you both - as you are no longer workmates you are invited to read the blog! You'll be disappointed to see work doesnt actually rate a mention all that often.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cascade Rd has been selectively logged

This is not some fancy photo retouching job. Men with axes have started turning our home into a building block.

Tas Fact #01

The first Englishman to sight Tasmania was Capt Tobias Furneaux, one of Capt Cook's offsiders, in 1772. They were circumnavigating Antarctica and he was blown off course.

Australia Day

Australia is really just a series of beaches, with a milk bar over the road and then some houses and stuff that eventually peter out some time before you get to Uluru.

We went to the beach for Australia Day. Once again Nick and Anna and Lily showed us how to do it. Nick dug a large pit in the sand, lined it with a sheet of plastic, and presto - a safe paddling pool right next to the family shade-tent. I missed my chance to actually swim as Marcus had to go to the toilet at that point, and refused to wee in the sea. So I watched Michael from a vantage point on land while Marcus and Elf trekked up to the toilet block - then it was time to pack up.

Marcus made up a tune (played on the special punch-balloon) called "Bellow Hips". He explained after playing it that it was about a farmer who had lost his sheep.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bowling Shanes 23 d Kitties 2

Hunter was on fire. On nearly every end I bowled pretty poorly, Hunter got us back into it and then all Dean had to do was steer his bowls wide to avoid mucking it all up. The Kitties were a bit unlucky, the score flattered us.

It was Superhero night - one person in each team had to dress as a superhero. Many teams decided to all get into tights and capes. Jacinta won first prize for her "Superbowl" costume - she was dressed as an actual lawn bowl.

Quote of the night "Who is the guy in the blonde wig with the sword supposed to be?".

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The unrelocatable house

A house relocation expert who prefers to remain anonymous says our house can't be moved.

A) Nowhere to park the crane; and
B) Lath and plaster needs so much patching at the end its not worth it.

He doesn't really prefer to remain anonymous, I just can't remember his name.

So - demolition it is.

Michael turns two

Its Michael's birthday today - the 2nd anniversary of that wonderful but very scary day when he was born and we were told he needed an immediate heart operation. He's a marvellous little boy and we are so, so glad to have him. I'll be taking him (and Dog no doubt) back to the Royal Childrens for a checkup at the end of March, but all his signs have been good so far.

We had a party for him at Kingston Beach on Sunday morning. It was a very relaxed gathering. We got nibbles from Citrus Moon and Elf iced a supermarket butter cake, so we certainly didnt knock ourselves out with catering, yet everyone was well fed and happy. There was good cloud cover for most of the morning to keep the heat at bay - it got to the high thirties in the afternoon.

Charles, Emma and baby Caoillain (I have to check the spelling every time) from Melbourne were there, on their way around southern Tas on holiday. It was Emma's 30th birthday on Friday and Charles propsed to her on top of Mt Wellington. They came to dinner on Friday and then we saw them again on Monday night. In between they saw more of Tasmania than I ever have - they are tourists par excellence.

Yesterday I heard from John also from Melbourne, (one of the regular readers of this blog) that he proposed to his partner Carmen last week in Tasmania. There must be some kind of migratory mating thing going on. Big good-on-yas to Emma, Charles, Carmen and John.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Big Noses Open Doors

I wrote a story titled this once about three gardeners having their lunch break. The story went nowhere but it was a great title wasnt it?

Impending dadness - from 4 years ago

17.01.02  Week 32
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"If the baby was born now it would open its eyes and look out at the world (except it can't focus on much at this stage and would look endearingly crosseyed" - Kaz Cooke at week 32
We had our first ante-natal class last night. It wasnt too bad, but two and a half hours is a long time to spend sitting on the floor. Louise showed us a muddy 3rd generation video of a lady called Uta having a baby, with her hairy unclothed husband drifting into view now and then. We handed round a knitted placenta. Unfortunately the knitted umbilical cord had fallen off. At one stage Louise demonstrated the opening of the cervix with a life size pelvis, then put it down and absent mindedly kicked it across the room. Instant coffee and beanbags were very much in the vanguard. The boys nervously sat in a circle and tried to think of reasons why we will make good support persons, while the girls listed what they wanted from their support person. We had a midwife visit today as well to check on Singleton's position - he's still in breech. Apparently his feet are either side of his head, flexible little bugger. If he doesnt turn over to be head down sometime in the next 4 weeks, we'll make an appointment for a caesarean delivery, 2 or 3 weeks early, maybe the last week of February. There are lots of things they suggest to encourage turning - Singleton responds to light at this stage, so we are trying to lead him downwards with a torch. That is not even in the top ten of silliest suggestions. Handstands in the pool, massage and stern instructions through the tummy are other things we're trying. Also this week we bought a 2nd hand Emmaljunga pram and big bunch o' nappies, bunny rugs and gro suits. Bathroom now looking civilised, with bath and handbasin clad with pine panelling cannibalised from the front room. Its about 85% finished I'd say. Spare room has been paint-stripped within an inch of its life, and the windows now open. Yay.

Individuals lots d Bowling Shanes not many

I was too busy last week to post a match report on the bowls. And also we were flogged so I didnt have the motivation. It was quite windy and definitely the trickiest conditions I have bowled in. We were up against a team of three more experienced than us, and they bowled well as a team. I find it really hard to bowl tactically as I can't work out whose bowls are whose. From the far end it can be hard to tell if that bowl near the jack has the little doggies or the little sailing ships on it.

We are going into the room of mirrors for a good hard look at ourselves this week in the hope of a better outcome to the process.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tired lions

When someone is going fishing it is customary to wish them "tight lines". I wonder if wildebeestes and zebras wish one another "tired lions"?

I hope so.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Overheard comment 2

(From the same source as Overheard Comment 1)

"Yeah, but why would Bristle even bother doing a diamond-sorting course if he wasnt planning to smuggle some out up his *rse?"

The GSW (Giddy Social Whirl)

We went downtown on Saturday morning, all the family got haircuts except me. The boys and I snuck away to buy Elf the rice cooker and Precious Ramotswe book she had specified for her birthday. There were nineteen different rice cookers in Myer so I let Marcus choose. Then we bought Nice Things for lunch.

John McG and Carmen from Melbourne dropped in to help us eat it. John and I have known each other twenty years but Elf and I hadnt yet met Carmen. We thought she was very nice and until she discovers John is from the planet Neptune they should be very happy together. We certainly won't tell her - but she might guess when John eats her shoes.

Yesterday Sally came over to mind the boys and Elf and I had a lovely morning cruising on the Derwent in a big white pointy boat. We zoomed about at 24 knots - our hair was comprehensively tousled when we alighted back at the wharf. It was a terrific morning, the water was like glass, and Hobart looked very nice indeed from out on the briny.

Back on land we had a very tasty seafood lunch upstairs at Mures, and just enjoyed each others' company for a while.

Sally and the boys had fun together. From the pile of CDs around the kitchen I think they had some kind of hootenanny. Marcus is an enthusiastic and flexible dancer, and Michael loves to join in with his inimitable vertical moon-leaps. Sally on the other hand is walking with a stick at present, after a tumble on her hideously steep but narrow back steps. [Dad built her some new ones as a Christmas present.] It was great to see Sal as we don't as often as we would like, and in fact I was so overcome with filial feeling I fell asleep.

Not long after Sally departed Rob, Mel and Olivia (4) arrived with a ridiculously large pile of gourmet little cakes. "We'll be sending them home with most of these" I thought. Later after we had eaten them all, its seemed a quaint and laughable idea. After initial frostiness and prima-donnarama, Olivia and Marcus hit it off well and toured the house and grounds getting into moderate mischief but letting us chat like grown-ups.

The weekend wound down as it often does these days with a slog until midnight back at work. Sigh.

Empty stubby Monday

Elf and the boys dropped me at work this morning. Its Elf's birthday and I cooked her breakfast, which made me a bit too late to walk. As I hopped out the car in front of our office (an old church) Marcus noticed an empty beer stubby left by the front gate (probably by one of my colleagues).

"Look Dad, they've left you some wine".

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Overheard comment 1

"Catweazel reckons he's never seen the catchment looking so wet"


I have come back after dinner to work until past midnight for the last three nights. The last two nights have also featured Marcus waking up and coming out into the hall to ask disjointed half-awake questions, loudly.

I am officially bleary. I am altering english-langauge annotations and subtitles on each of about 120 little animations into four new languages (translations supplied by SBS). This is for a DVD explaining the rules for filming and photographing at Uluru. There are lots of little underlines on particular letters of the Pitjantjatjara words - you have to remember which T to underline in Kata Tjuta and so on.

Weary, bleary and fuddled.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bowling Shanes 22 d Four Cs 6

The Shanes kicked off the new lawn bowls season with a dominant performance. We eased up towards the end as muscles tightened up and thoughts turned to celebratory beers in the clubhouse. Four Cs are very nice 40-something ladies with a few tatts but no proven criminal connections. They displayed good manners, never sledging until after their opponent had delivered his bowl. Their skip was Sharon and their secret weapon was Bev.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Baling from pool to pool

We went to a free Fun Day in St David's Park today, cruised around that for about 3 hours then put in another hour or so at a Kite Festival at the Regatta Grounds. The RG is a terrific place - it is quite breezy, with a lovely elevated view over the river and the Port of Hobart. I always come away from there feeling refreshed. It was a great day for kites, and the kites responded well, I thought. There were little easy-to-fly kites for sale for just $3, so the sky was thick with big and small snippets of luridly coloured nylon. There was also a teenage rock band belting out covers and the occasional shoe-gazing original. Marcus and I danced to the best of our ability. The main difference is that I don't have the front to call out "do you like my moves?" like he does. Later Michael joined us and pogo'd enthusiastically to Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand.

Prior to that was the Fun Day. There was a Petting Zoo. I prefer to call friendly manual contact with animals "patting" but no-one ever seems to call them Patting Zoos. "Petting" is a word I associate with those books for parents of teenagers about helping them deal with "changes" in their bodies.

I digress. There were alpacas, piglets, fancy fowl, horses, geese who had been infiltrated by a duck, lovely cows, kittens (to give away) and I believe also a mule. The piglets stampeded through their water trough, soaking Michael and I. We agreed this was well worthwile.

There were some children's artistes called the Ticklish Allsorts who did a song about some dancing pants. Marcus thought this was very very good, and demanded to know the Allsorts' names. I didn't know, but Marcus was confident the computer would. I later saw one of the Allsorts up close, who had a head like a robber's dog, but looks aren't everything in live entertainment.

We had neighbours over to swim in our new pool this afternoon. The new pool actually arrived just before the neighbours. Elf noticed (after filling it) that our old one was leaking chronically, so popped down the shops, bought a new one and blew it up. We then baled with buckets. Marcus jumped about in the old one until it was empty then did an amphibious wriggle into the new one. Sharon and Lana (4) came over from town-side and Caron, Mark, Cameron (6) and Adrian (4) from mountain-side. We havent been able to get them together before so it was nice to all natter, get splashed, have a few G &Ts and be neighbourly.

They are very nice folks on both sides, with nice kids of similar age to ours, and that's a big factor in our crazy plan to knock down and rebuild here rather than move. Which reminds me - we met with the Council's heritagey people on Friday and negotiated a simple alteration to the front of the new house that keeps them happy. We will set back one side of the upper storey a tiny bit and put a dear little roofette on the projecting lower storey. Now we are going to start inspecting places to rent while our old house is razed and our new house is raised.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


We accepted an invitation to the beach, Nick and Anna style. Or really just Anna style. Nick is conscripted to attend the beach while Anna is an enthusiast. Elf is also not a beach natural while I have always been fond of a simple swim in the sea.

Anna's family have a shack (called The Cottage) at Dodges Ferry (which is called Bally Park by them for some reason). Anna's sister Rosie, husband Stuart and two kids (why do we ALL have 2 kids?) were along as well. They are hardened beach people.

We however are relative amateurs at Family Beach. I have done a lot of Solo Beach but there is a lot more to consider and plan for with yer nappies, yer hole in the ozone layer, yer picky eaters who pull their sandwiches apart and drop all fillings in the sand etc etc. Not to mention the omnipresent danger of drowning. As Elf said while we were trying to pack up to go home "Tell me again - why do people go to the beach?"

But I had fun, the kids had a ball and Elf did most of the hard work but didn't complain. Marcus discovered "surfing" - lying on a boogie board while someone else works up a sweat towing you. Michael nuded about - definitely the best bot on the beach. I hope we will get better at it all and next time Elf can read one of her wistful-but-confident books while I do the parenting.

The Bergers' cottage is shaded by two immense pine trees. Anna's parents have cordoned off half of their large block and put it up for sale, and Anna told me they need to sell the land to pay for the "management" of the pine trees. An arborist gave them a quote of $20,000 (or it might have been $40,000) to make them safe - at present they are liable to drop a big branch on a kiddie any time.

Friday, January 06, 2006

See Jeff's Show! Please!

I saw Jeff's show Cancelled by Popular Demand last night. It is slightly tightened up from last year but fundamentally the same show. All Jeff's props broke, fell over or stuck to each other last night but he overcame setbacks manfully. It is a great show, everyone within cooee of Hobart should get down to the Peacock Theatre Tues - Sat nights at 8 or Sundays at 4. Book through www.tso.com.au or tickets at the door.

In other news - while driving in the car Marcus raised the subject of Mexico. Its a nation I have never visited but dear to my heart all the same. Its got jungles, I raved. Deserts. Indians. Snowy mountains. "Cheese" contributed Michael.

Circumstantial evidence points to Michael entering the Terrible Twos a few weeks early. He 's generally still charming but prone to increasing bouts of NO! DON'T WANT IT! and MICHAEL'S!

Bad news - Christmas is up 1%

On the news last night a spokesman for Australian retailers announced that Christmas spending was up 1% on last year. They had been hoping for 3%. The figures are just in, and there is a degree of variance with some up and some down. The spokesman decribed the figures as "schizophrenic" and said gloomily "it may take some time to determine who has been hardest hit by this".

I hope someone is starting a whip-round for retailers who have been gutted by this 1% rise.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

By boat to the inland

Speaking of Canberra, that is where we journeyed for Christmas, following a star we had seen in the east. Well, actually we went there because that's where Elf's mum and dad and sister are. Elf's sister is Imp - if I havent talked here about the Fullagar family's thing for names its probably too late to start now. This Christmas they were joined by Fred and Chonk, Elf's brothers who live in Sweden and Switzerland respectively, and also Chonk's Swiss-Texan girlfirend Irma.

As the brothers can't come home very often we made a point of being there too, to eat their chocolates and festoon them with clinging and giggling nephews while we read books and generally lay about.

We caught the ferry Spirit of Tasmania III to Sydney. It was very good, a better ship and more enjoyable route than the Devonport - Melbourne boats. The food is free and excellent quality. It takes 22 hours, leaving Devonport at about 5pm and putting into Sydney at about 3pm. The last few hours, where you steam up the NSW South Coast, through the heads and into Sydney Harbour is just magnificent. On Spirit III punters are allowed on the top deck, and everyone was up there crowding the rail as we went under the Harbour Bridge. That was very exciting, one of my great travel experience to tell the truth. Unlike my visits to other tourism icons this time I had to keep an eye on two freewheeling small boys. We were the biggest thing in the harbour and every other craft was honking and waving enthusiastically. As we cruised past the Opera House I walked bow-to-stern down the vacant middle of the deck and kept abreast of it - which felt very wierd.

Next we drove off the boat (Elf in charge) and launched ourselves into Sydney traffic. They have a neat system for testing new drivers - the lane that leads from the ferry wharf onto the Harbour Bridge merges away on both sides simultaneously, coming to a sharp point. If you survive this you are presumably then qualified to drive off into New South Wales. We found Aunty Finty and her family in Lindfield and had a pleasant visit with them. Finty insisted we sit in front of a huge electric fan.

Then we tried to find our way out of Sydney. Finty wrote explicit instructions. I misread them and we got very close to the northern beaches before I lost patience with the instructions and told Elf to turn around. As we headed back the way we had come for twenty minutes it gradually dawned on me that the error was all mine. We finally found an exit and trundled the 2 1/2 hours to Canberra, getting in about 11pm.

We stayed four days in Canberra, all very hot. The first was 37° but it moderated later. The boys were delighted with their gifts and seemed to enjoy the Whole Christmas Thing. We gave Marcus a red remote-control Mini, and Michael a red ukelele. I missed the moment of opening the uke but apparently Michael was totally, wordlessly thrilled. I was there by the time he started bellowing "GUITAR!!!!!". It didnt leave his side for days. The Mini careered around the loungeroom through piles of wrapping paper, clipping ankles and smacking pleasingly into furniture. When we took it to an empty carpark early on Boxing Day it screamed in wide circles while Marcus pelted after it, too excited to actually use the controls in his hand.

Irma, Chonk and Fred spent lots of time with the boys. Fred is always a big hit. He is a scientist, who still has all the interesting equipment from his scientific youth hanging around the house in Canberra. Marcus was fascinated by his magnets, electric components, paper planes and crystals. We met Irma for the first time and she made a very good impression on us all. The boys loved her to bits, and she spent a lot of time with them.

Elf's mum Felicity has several hundred jars of jam and marmalade around the house. My heart went out to her when I realised that she spent the hottest part of the 37° day sitting at a shadeless market stall and she sold not a single jar. I would like to help her market her product a bit better, if I can think of ways to do it without too much of a jump in her costs.

Elf's dad Bill has new lenses in his eyes and is seeing very well. He's not walking too well though and the garden is starting to get away from him. He has sensibly consigned a large part of it to wilderness is concentrating on a few rows of peas. Sulphur-crested cockatoos are everywhere, and Bill loathes them. He's an old salt living a long way inland, and now he has retired I wonder how long he will stand for the heat and cockatoos. He lent me a wonderful book about Paraguay from which I will blog snippets.

We made regular visits to Imp and Ed's. The boys play very well with their cousins Karri and Miah, and on one visit there was even cricket with the cousins' cousins. Imp catered for Christmas dinner and it was superb. The other big attraction at their place was the pool. Marcus overcame his worries and stood in the shallow end in water up to his chest. Since we have been home we have been to the Big Pool and he has continued to stretch his boundaries, which is great.

Now we settle into a gruelling round of birthdays. 11 days until Elf, then 8 days until Michael, then 34 days until Marcus.

Has anyone seen the Hindenburg Line?

I was back at work today, and it was just as though I'd never left. Before Christmas a historian from the Department in Canberra flew down to sit by my side and watch as I pushed and nudged WW1 front lines about on maps until he was satisfied with their accuracy. Today it became clear I had three towns in the wrong places, and some (but not all) of my lines needed to go just an umph north and a wheeze west. We had one map too many, with the Germans actually arriving before they had set off. It also appears that everyone who has ever drawn a map with the "HIndenburg LIne" on it, has put it wherever they damn well please. We have followed this convention.