Wednesday, 24 August 2016

So much to catch up on - and so many photos

I can't believe it has been well over a month since I last posted, but we have been very busy!
My sister came to visit for a couple of weeks and we had a ball.  She drove me all round town to get to places I never normally go now I can no longer see to drive.  We did a lot of window shopping, but i don not really need 'clutter' any more - just need to get rid of lots of it!

 We also went to tourist spots with Bill, the sorts of places you never quite get around to visiting unless you have visitors - or we don't anyway.  We drove up the Pioneer Valley to Eungella, a really beautiful national park where platypuses are readily visible - but I could not manage to get a photo, sorry.  I did take a photo of all these turtles sunning themselves on the dead branch - there had been a platypus near by till I focussed my camera and then of course it vanished.
 Unfortunately the day was a bit overcast so the view from the top looking down the valley was not as spectacular as usual, but still lovely
 These unusual sculptures were alongside the river walk, detailing some of the flora and fauna.
 Broken River at Eungella is a fast flowing river and is VERY cvold, but some visitors still manage to swim in it!
 We had a lovely lunch at the local Pub, this is the rainforest growing right up the the boundary fence.
 On the way home we visited Teemburra Creek Dam, this is the view from t he boat ramp.  The dam provides irrigation for local cane farmers, but also is a very popular recreational fishing area.
 The sun had come out and this another view looking back down the Valley, one I never tire of.
 We visited several of our beaches.  When our children were little and Barb visited, we used to go to a different beach nearly every day, and this was one of our favourites, Cape Hillsborough  - the photo of the beach is below and a lovely wattle growing near the picnic area above.
The tide goes out a long way and the beach goes on forever.  You can't see it in the photo but it often has a golden sheen on it from all the iron pyrites ( can't spell it) on the sand - often called fool's gold - and very pretty.

 There is a wonderful boardwalk built through the mangroves growing at Cape Hillsborough.  One day I will manage to get there when the tide is very high, it always seems to be out when we take visitors!
 The textures and shapes of the mangroves are lovely
 Above is a very old mangrove and below is a Melaleuca (paperbark)
 The bark of these trees comes of in large sheets of papery fibre which is ften used to line hanging baskets, also half a century ago people used to make wonderful bark pictures using it.  That seems to be totally out of fashion now.
 This is part of the wonderful picnic area there.
 Then we visited Halliday Bay and could only recognise the beach, everything else had changed dramatically in the thirty odd years since we had last been there.  It seems sill when the beach is only a thirty minute trip out of Mackay, but there it is.
 In the summer we have very dangerous box jelly fish in the sea so stinger enclosures are built.  This photo was taken at low tide and it seems impossible that the water would come in far enough to make the sea worthwhile going into, but it really does.  The mesh is very small, but I think you still need to say well inside the fence to make sure the tentacle can't reach you - the tentacles are almost invisible and can be nearly three feet long!
 This is a lovely old she-oak or casuarina growing on the edge of the beach.  They are fascinating trees and make a wonderful whispering sound with the breeze blowing through their branches.
 This is yet another beach. much closer in to town.  There are plans to build a special lookout tower from the vantage point where I took this photo.  We can see the whales from here on their annual migration - or others can.  They were too far out for me.
 We have had another trip out to my home town of Goondiwindi for another family funeral - a close friend of the cousin who died a few months ago.  he also had cancer and was nearly 80 so this was more a celebration of his life and a great family reunion.  Bill and Iflew to Brisbane, collecting my sister there - who had only flown home a day before, then we drove out in a hire car.  I sat in the back seat and tried to take photos while we were travelling at 100 km /hr - not always very successful!  These last two photos show you the cultivated country on the Darling Downs where at last they have had some rain.
We really had a wonderful trip with lots of laughs and recollections of past days with all the family. We have all decide we need to do the trip again sometime when we can stay a few more days and it is not for a funeral!
Now I think life will be a bit quieter at home for a few weeks anyway.  Summer seems to have arrived today, but we are told there will be another burst of cold weather next week.  This has been a very strange winter, far too warm, I hope it does not mean we will have a very hot summer.
Now I had better make a cup of coffee for Bill.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Colour in the garden

My pot plants are showing plenty of colour and really brightening up the winter garden.  Yes, the cool weather has finally arrived, but the days are sunny and gorgeous.

 The caladium just keeps on showing off despite being almost totally neglected apart from watering.  The begonias are new this winter so should go on for several years I hope.
 Some of these begonias have been in the pot for over a year - they are so colourful and so easy to care for/
 This garden bed gets almost no sun in winter so I am trying some New Guinea impatiens, they are starting to make a great show now. I really think I will get Bill to dig out the Sasanqua Camellia - our climate is quite wron for them these days. I cut it right back last year but only had one flower this season, I supose it is a lovely shiny green shrub, but that is the best you could sat for it!
 Sorry, this photo taken on my phone is over exposed, but this corner of the garden bed is looking quite pretty at present.
 My eucharist lily survives neglect as well
 Not the most colourful of petunias, but all I could find the day we went shopping and they are flowering well.
I love this zygocactus and it always makes a very cheery show.

The garden is really being neglected apart from watering at present and I am what you might call an interesting diet!  I had surgery to repair a hiatal hernia repair a couple of weeks ago and am on a restricted diet for six weeks - two weeks liquid, two weeks puree and two weeks soft, then we will have roast pork and crackling to celebrate being back to normal!!! Actually it is not as bad as I first imagined.  I can have anything I want as long as I puree it well - I swapped from liquid on Thursday.  I spend most of my days trying to think what I can have which is a bit different, always remembering I still have to cook for Bill.  Several people suggested he should have to go on the same diet as I am having, but I am quite sure he would leave home first. Hopefully I will be slimmer at the end of this and the results are very definitely worth it.
Time for smoko and a fruit smoothie.

Friday, 3 June 2016

An interesting experience

No photos today, but I thought I would share m experience this morning with you.  As usual on a Friday, Bill dropped me off at our local large shopping centre for me to do the weekly shopping.  This involves a lot of walking as I usually need to go to stores at opposite ends of the centre, and the items I want are always at the very back of the large stores!  I have had my day's walk by the time i come home again.

I was congratulating myself this morning that I had finished over half an hour earlier than usual.  i was in the checkout queue in the last store when the fire alarm began sounding.  There are often test carried out, so apart from being mildly annoyed by the loud siren - and the electronic voice calling 'right, the fire alarm is now on' (how could you not know that) Nobody took much notice.  After a few seconds it went off, but came on again a few seconds later.  This repeated several times.  I had rung Bill to ask him to come and collect me.  Usually I stay sitting inside the centre for about ten m minutes before I walk out to the under cover car park, but the noise was so penetrating I went straight out to stand and get away from the noise.
Presumably soon after that a notice was broadcast for everyone to evacuate - there were people arriving out in the carpark in droves. This is a carpark on four levels, with another on two levels at the front of the centre.
It only took about a minute for the traffic to be in complete gridlock.  I don't think there was an actual fire, I heard on the news there was a problem with the sprinkler system in a part of the centre some distance from where I was, but it made me think about how difficult it would be to get everyone away to safety if there had been an actual fire.
Bill sat in a queue for over ten minutes waiting to travel half a block.  There were quite a few people I saw who were on wheelie walkers or using walking sticks, meaning they would have difficulty walking very far very fast.  You would need to abandon your car and your shopping trolleys and walk out as far as you could - I am very glad none of us had to do that!
It has given me food for  thought however.  There are so many small stores in those shopping centres as well as the large department stores that the management must have nightmares trying to train staff for evacuation and fire drill.  I just hope they really are doing it.
Very overcast here today, just a little rain, but we had 18mm overnight which was much appreciated.  South east Qld has dire predictions for tomorrow for strong winds, rough seas and very heavy rain.  Hopefully the predictions will turn out to be an overkill.
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

When will summer end?

The summer season should be well and truly over by now, but i still have every door and window in the house wide open.  As well as that I am still in shorts and short sleeved Tee!
We had two quite cool nights, which inspired me to get out the winter pyjamas and my warm clothes (because they were in the same bag).  Of course the weather warmed up again immediately.  The weather bureau is now saying we may not get a winter, just some wet weeks as the pattern goes from el nino to la nina.

Wandering round the shopping centre is an interesting experience  - all the clothing stores are full of heavy winter jackets, some even having fake fur collars, and thick padded jackets - the sort I would wear in the south island of New Zealand (or Tasmania).  I can't imagine much of that stock will be sold here.  Of course these days the shops are all national franchises and the purchasing is determined in Melbourne (nearly 3,000 km south of us).  They do not seem to have any idea that we have  minimum temperatures higher than the maximum temperatures in the southern states most of the time.  I suppose this happens all round the world with corporate buying - not what I call progress!

 My Nodding Violets are still flowering magnificently  - much later than usual, they are such a cheerful sight to see out my kitchen window.

The Xanthostemon tree is also in full flower and is full of birds.  While I can't see any of them very clearly I always know which ones are in the tree - the rainbow lorikeets adore it and pick over every blossom.  If there is only one or two, the little brown honeyeaters will come into the tree as well, but any more lorikeets frightens them off.  We have also had spangled drongos performing acrobatics in and around the tree, so there is always plenty of activity to keep us amused.  The flying foxes come in at night, but the tree is far enough away from our bedroom so we do not hear the squabbling.  We love having flowering plants for the birds in the area. Since we lost our large rain tree many years ago we have not put feeders out, just water dishes and flowering plants.

There has not been very much to say, but I need to keep in touch occasionally just to let you know I am still here.  Now I shall take advantage of the weather to go out into the garden to do some potting whil it is still warm enough.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What a week - and now for the diet!

Every yea the Sugarcane Technologists hold a conference which we attend, and this year the conference was in Mackay.  Not having to travel is a very mixed blessing - the usual home chores somehow need to get done in between partying!

The  president's wife has to form a committee and organise entertainment for the partners of the delegates - which can be quite a shock, especially if the wife has never previously attended a conference as happened this year.  The comprised of four rookies and they could not have possible done a better job.

 When we registered we were g iven a superb beach bag filled with all  these goodies!
 Next we were treated to a luscious morning tea at this charming cottage in the Pioneer Valley, run by a family with the only advertising a Facebook page and word of mouth - and you need to book to find a spare table!  That says it all.
 We were not done with eating - we had an hour's bus ride - and lots of chatter - to Airlie Beach where we had a wonderful sunch - I forgot to take any photos of the food!
 The day was not sunny so the sea was not blue, but this was the magnificent view from the restaurant.  Before we returned in the bus we were given an hour to shop in Airlie - several of us chatted over a coffe instead, but two hardy souls went on a 10 km run!!!
They undid all the healthy bit coming home in the bus.  The committee produced a large esky out of which came chilled champagne and canapes to be passed around - all highly illegal, they should have been strapped in their seats, but delicious just the same.

We went to a dinner that night, but I did not take any photos.

 Thursday was another day of eating and talking!  A very pleasant morning tea beside the beach, which this cheeky young butcherbird wanted to share.  There were three more, but I was not quick enough with the camera.

 On to the next venue with more food after a fantastic fashion parade of garments designed by a local designer using the colours of the fish on the Great Barrier Reef.  The young girl on the right is carrying one of the beach bags we were all given.  The colours are just forgeous.
We did not need dinner that night, but it was t he Gala event of the week so of course we were there!  Part of the entertainment was these three gorgeous girls - a group called The Diamonds - legs up to their armpits and the most incredible and energetic choreography while they were singing.  One of the ladies at our table was watching the men (about 300) in the room - she said there was a collective dropping of jaws as the singers bounced onto the stage - and they all noticed the legs!

On Friday we visited The Sapphire House, no photos, but very interesting - pursed definitely in pockets however as the prices for the beautiful jewellery on display were definitely not for impulse buying! We learned a lot about the different colours of sapphires and how they are formed though.

 Next door to the Sapphire House was a Craft shop where we had morning tea which include some of the best scones I have ever tasted.
Juliette (above) is not holding a real baby, it is a doll, but feels just like picking up and cuddling the real thing!  Amazingly it only cost $200 and the maker takes workshops there.  Our committee were in stitches the day they were checking everything out - the blackboard outside advertised a class 'for making babies' They all had to have their photos taken beside that!

 Our last port of call was the Old Railway Station Teahouse for woodfired pizzas for lunch.  The owners bought the Marian Railway Station when the line was closed about ten years ago, including the signage on the wall below.
 They added some verandahs and have planted a lush tropical garden for a really beautiful setting.  They host quite a few weddings there as well.

 Sadly all good things come to an end and now we are almost back to normal, I have done all the washing and most of the ironing and am really watching what I eat!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Promises, promises!

Yes, I know I said I would be back soon with some photos, but life got in the way! I am so glad I was able to go out to Goondiwindi for my cousin's funeral.  We saw friends we had not seen for over 50 years, which is what happens at events like that.  While it was wonderful to catch up with so many, it was a bit disconcerting to find that suddenly (?) all the fellows we went ot dances and parties with were in their eighties!!!  I had not grown a day older of course.

 Barb and I had breakfast in what used to be our father's and Grandfather's solicitors' office - now turned into a very popular coffee shop.
 The owner was asking us all sorts of questions about the building, and I started wondering myself about all the questions I should have asked before my father died - we have no idea when the building was erected, some time in the 1920s we think, but that would have been pretty amazing for a brick building.  The soil is heavy, gluepot black soil which moves a lot in wet or dry weather.
This lovely church where the funeral was held was built in the late 1930s and was considered a remarkable building back then as it was constructed on a 'floating' concrete base to prevent cracks from developing!  I am not really very knowledgable about the process, I am only quoting what I was always told.

Since then, I have been to Buderim to look after my sister after her knee replacement.  That was a lovely break, she is recovering well, though not nearly as fast as she would like.  We had a wonderful time reminiscing - and realising how much we have forgotten - and now there is no one left to ask.

I was pleased to prove to myself that I can still travel independently with not much difficulty.  I flew down and back from Brisbane twice with different airlines, and caught the bus to Buderim.  Airports are horrible places at the best of times, but  the staff were all very helpful when I needed it.
In my previous post I was talking about the soggy, soggy weather, but that was almost the last of the rain.  The pattern this year has been most peculiar.  We have had a lot of rain in total, but in about three events - and hot, dry, windy days in between.  We could really do with some more decent rain again, the grass is browning off and becoming crackly again.

We have an interesting excursion next weekend with the Gardens Friends, but I am not making any promises this time to show photos as knowing what I am like, it may be a while.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Soggy, soggy weather

I know I have been very slack about blogging, but I did not mean to let February go past completely!

About two weeks ago Fiji was absolutely devastated by Cyclone Winston, a very severe category 5 system with wind gusts over 300 kph.  That system has certainly packed a punch.
It continued on its way towards the east coast of Queensland, fortunately becoming a tropical low.

The system ripped up huge seas and closed all the beaches on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts last weekend.  Then it travelled  north along the coast, still about 50 km out to sea, but causing lots of storms and heavy showers.  By the time it was sitting off Cairns (over 1500km north of Brisbane) it had embedded in the monsoonal trough.
We were still getting heavy rain and now the low has drifted south again!

 We have had our grandson staying for the weekend while most of his amily has been in Brisbane.  They are due to fly home tonight so we have our fingers crossed that the airport will be open.  We took Hamish home about an hour ago when we thought the rain was slackening off.  This is the view through the windscreen when we were coming home.  I took about 12 photos (I won't bore you with them all) and the windscreen wipers were going flat out all the time.  I can't believe that not one photo was dissected by wipers!  My phone is smarter than I thought.

 All the table drains are full and the low lying fields are lakes.
This was meant to be the first photo and does not look nearly as impressive - our backyard yesterday morning.  Jock hates going out in the rain and only goes when it is essential, picking his feet up and looking quite comical.
We have had over 400 ml rain in the last week, just over 600 since the beginning of the year.  Our total rainfall for last year was only 820 ml.  Hopefully this should mean that El Nino is nearly over.  The sad part is that only the coast is getting this rain.  Most of Queensland is still gripped by drought - the inland areas get their rain events coming across from Western Australia and that has not happened for over three years in some parts.
I planned to write this post a couple of days ago, but seem to have spent most of the weekend on the phone.  A cousin died in my home town of Goondiwindi and I really want to go back for the funeral.  That involves a 1,00 km flight to Brisbane, then I will be collected by my sister and we will drive the 220km west to Goondiwindi.  Just getting flights was the hardest part, but we will be so glad to go out to see so many friends and relatives, possibly for the last time for me.  I should have some interesting pics next week to show you.