Story Blog

Codine's off for the moment, but if you haven't read 'Turning Stones' it's still up there - free read!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Stuff...

LOTS of catching-up to do for Easter but first, breaking news: I just won that competition!

Well, when I say 'I' I actually mean 'you' the readers / voters, of course. Thank you all so much! I'm still reaching for the smelling-salts here, it's quite stunning to be on coveted top of the list, first outright comp win ever, actually. Usually I'm delirious just to be mentioned somewhere. I know it's not the greatest story ever (and I even spotted a typo in there, tut tut) but there we are, you've given me another something to put on my CV, and it's vastly appreciated. Oh, it's at (in case anyone round here isn't all too familiar with the Strictly Shakespeare site by now...)

Now, where were we. It's been a mix of indulgent laziness and exceedingly nice strolls and little outings all over Easter, which is just the way we like it.

One of the earlier things I took the Littles to was the Easter Bilby versus Easter Bunny thing put on by the Parks... hang on I think I wrote about this a while back, didn't I? Well here's a picture of her and the other kids. Lots of finding clues and stuff like that. Lovely setting, and just down the road from us at Kahiba.

There was another similar excursion on 'Bush Art' with an aboriginal ranger. Here she is with her aboriginal hand-print. Luckily we didn't have to blow the paint on in the traditional manner, the ranger just had a spray bottle. Also luckily, we didn't have to paint on rocks because it would have been awfully heavy to carry home. Or a cave. They gave us pieces of cloth instead.

What you do is blow the outline of the hand on first, then take a twig and dob blobs and blobs of rows or paint all round the outline and work you way outwards in a sort of rainbow-aura type effect. Apparently, yellow is a girl's colour, grey and brown are boys, red is for men, white is spiritual. Although he did also say grey is for sickness. Hm.


While we were doing this the guide was talking away about various aboriginal stories, in no particular order or sequence, but it was all quite interesting. It seems that there are so many local variants of even the most fundamental sort of stories (like the origins of the shape of the Southern Cross – he said it was a tree with two cockatoos chasing it, the person at the Observatory had said it was the claw of an eagle, and if you 'go down south they'll tell you it's a stingray') it's almost impossible to get things 'straight', as it were. Also that the rainbow-Serpent is a white man's invention (?? wow). Another curious tidbit: the most heinous crime an aborigine can commit is apparently being greedy. Greed tops the list of no-no commandments, followed by incest at number two, something else at number three and murder at number four. Somewhat surprising, I thought, but fair enough.

It was an absolutely lovely day and the place was lovely. While the Little naughtily skipped off with the others, I saw my first wild goanna when the guide pointed it out. Dear me what must he have thought... he pointed to something with a long black tail trailing off into the bush in an indistinct way, and a bunch of crows following it, and I blurted out 'Oh, is it a lyre bird?' No, it's a goanna, he said dryly. Oh dear, really wish my eyesight would take a turn for the sharper. It was jolly impressive once I got a better look, though: must have been well over a meter long.

The next ones are pictures from when we took Daddy to the fossil place on Dudley beach. Absolutely beautiful day, as you can see, and Daddy turned out a real dab hand at finding super fossils: every other rock he turned over seemed to be covered in excellent leaf-prints.


Then, there was Easter, of course. Needless to say, this was … somewhat early in the morning. The Easter Bunny left a Galactic Bunny of gigantic proportions, a pack of autumn clothes, and of course lots of Easter Eggs... some of which he hid. The Easter Egg hunt was much enjoyed, and you'll see some pics of searching for (and finding) eggs. Here's the first clue, written on the blackboard... and then one egg found in the cereal packet.


Here's Princess Eggington. Her hair is looking even more fantastic after she stayed out all night. And here's Lara checking under a chair in search of eggs.

'Found another one!'

Tubby the Duck Beanie.. been much-desired and finally delivered by Easter Bunny.

Here's another excursion we went on: to the Yueleralbah trail (I think that's how they spell it) where we did the Easter Bilby and the Bush Art, only this time we took Daddy. Again, fantastic day. The two of them spent most of the time running little races in the persona of various Beanie Kids (that'll be the pictures of them disappearing into the distance). The bell birds were cheeping, the sky was blueing, and the air was generally freshing the tender green leaves of the vines sprouting all round and in short a more pleasurable experience would be hard to lay hands on. Here she is strutting her stuff in a new Easter outfit. (Both of them, actually.)





Now, this little piece of picture-narrative has somehow slipped by and lain dormant in my 'drafts' for ages, so I'll just bloody well POST is because loads has been happening since then. See you shortly!
('Don't call me shortly').

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday 20th April 2011

Is there such a thing as Easter Lethargy? I think I may have caught it.

Breathing seems too tedious. Housekeeping, education? Oh dear. As for writing, forget it. Brain mush.

Talking of which, what's that stupid competition, eh? Never heard such a load of twaddle. Not only voting but having to vote EVERY DAY?? I suppose I'm still in the running so I ought to plug it, in the wild chance that there's anyone out there reading this in the next few days who actually hasn't heard of it. Ahem.. 'Vote ye, vote ye for Story Number 5, “CO2” at” Vote ye because I'm never going to send anything there again and this is the one-and-only. It's doubly annoying because my story's by far the best anyway, and should have won in the first place. Load of claptrap. And it's not even such a great story.

Grunt and turn over.

Amid the lethargy, we summoned up the umph to get to the 'Easter Bunny versus Easter Bilby' thing today. Well, it was OK and it got us out of the house for a couple of hours, but it wasn't up to the standard of the fossils or the rockpools. For one, you're not about to get your hands on a bilby so the oooh factor automatically goes down by several notches. It doesn't really matter for kids whether your 'hands on' factor is tigers or earthworms, as long as they can feel something moving and wriggling the interest levels rocket. If it's all paperwork and foraging it's never quite the same. Still, they had an easter-egg hunt and a story, a wildlife quiz and some colouring, so in general boxes ticked and items accomplished. Tomorrow we've got Bush Art, so we'll see how that goes.

Ah, lethargy setting in. I'm off up to bed. Got hooked on Mario this evening, and I'm unbelievably bad at it. My right thumb is aching. Nite nite.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday 18th April 2011

Camping outings have had more auspicious starts. This is the weather we drove out into on Saturday.

 Initially, we were poo-pooing the pattering of rain, but as the whole thing started to turn a bit Biblical on us on the motorway we sat there considering options: if it doesn't stop, turn back, or drive home at the end of the day, or sleep in the car.

Amazingly, there was enough of a let-up when we checked into the campsite to put the tent up with minimal wetting to the inner layer. The Mr was out in the rain hammering in the pegs topless to conserve clothing dryness (hey, let it rain, I say). We just blew up the mattresses (in an inflated sort of way, rather than an explosive one), covered them with tarps and waterproofs in case the tent leaked while we were out, and left the rest of the stuff in the car, toothbrushes and pyjamas on top. Here they are setting out from the campsite.

Went into central Sydney and did the Aquarium/ Wildlife centre run again. She never seems to tire of it. Our annual passes have been fantastic, we've used them again and again but they are coming to an end in June so this might be the last time for a little while we do the run. We almost know all the animals by name by now. Oh, and they still had the Lego exhibits up... and Lara insisted on posing with all the models to have her photo taken.



Disco Bear comes everywhere these days...and poses in diving helmets, too.

... Incidentally, I discovered just the other day (courtesy of Mr Billy Bryson) that Moby Dick initially came out entitled 'The Whale'...

Lara and Disco Bear indulge in a boxing match to emulate the Lego kangaroo.


Frilled lizards, real and not.

The Big Croc

Raining in the kangaroo enclosure so they were all gathered here, they looked as if they were chilln' at a bar.

Snogging a wombat


Once we'd seen our fill (for the moment) of curious creatures, we tromped off through the rain to Chinatown for dinner. And, Oh, hurrah, hurrah, we were able to order three fairly mild but nevertheless interesting dishes, and the Non had some of all of them, and enjoyed them! It's not an absolutely exclusive diet of plain boiled veg and chunks of meat any more! Long may variety prosper. It may be a while before we get her to the Vindaloos but it's a start. Tried both Dim Sum and spring rolls, and declared she liked the former but not the latter... Still, she did try, at least.

It was gone 7 by this time and normally she'd be heading off to bed, but not tonight. It was onwards and upwards (literally) to the Observatory, where I'd booked a tour.

Hmmmm.... How can I put this. It wasn't quite what you would expect it to be. There was almost no-one there, and I'm not entirely surprised. Was looking forward no end to the planetarium, and was stunned to be ushered into a room about the size of an average bedroom, with something like a photographer's umbrella in the middle and beanbags in a circle underneath it. Here they did a projection of the night sky and there was a guy giving a talk. Now, hats absolutely off to the staff for super-friendliness and willingness to please, they were gorgeous. But is was a million-dollar service on a ten pence budget. We also saw the 'oldest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere' (unfortunately the guy here was garrulous as a cockatoo and really couldn't tell a story straight but still, it was interesting). The Non got her face painted with the rabbit in the moon, and made a 'Saturn' with a Styrofoam ball and a CD disc (oh shit, I think the Mr must have driven off to work with that thing still in the glove compartment...) We also saw a couple of 3D movies in their little theatre, which were amusing – it was the first 3D experience for all of us. In short, nice to go to once but I don't think it's going to be a regular port of call.

Painting her 'Saturn' at the Observatory, and bunny-features.

I didn't look what time it was by the time we made our way across Sydney and got to the campsite, but it must have been well past 11. Never have we had so little trouble putting the Non to bed. Dived, she did. Positively dived.

Even more astonishingly, the tent hadn't leaked, despite continual downpours throughout the day. And it had finally cleared up.

Sunday breakfast at the campsite was accompanied by rainbow lorikeets and kookaburras who made no bones about wanting a share of our meal. The Lane Cove campsite where we stayed is really quite amazing for wildlife: it's much more densely populated than a natural woodland due to the superabundance of food... and with all the nice sort of animals you'd want to encounter, not red bellied black snakes and so on. Lorikeets, cockatoos, bush tailed possums (though we didn't see any this time round, we were barely around during the night), and some indigenous 'hopparoo' as the Mr calls them. About the size of a rabbit, hops along on hind legs and scurries, indifferent brown in colour, pointy nose, random length of supportive tail and generally very likely to be concealing a pouch. Didn't see those this time round, either, but the bird population more than made up for it. We didn't offer them bacon and eggs but they sure liked toast and hot cross bun.

Taronga zoo on Sunday. It was a bit of a question whether we would follow through on the plan and go, because there was a certain noticeable degree of … tiredness... but we decided to go for it and it all turned out very nicely. In fact, so nicely that at the end of the day we upgraded our tickets to an annual pass – as long as we go once more by this time next year we'll have almost used the money's worth, and if that doesn't happen I'll eat the proverbial hat off my head.

Komodo Dragon - ridden by the Merewether Beast



 Trust Lara to sniff out the reptile show and get her hands on the python.

The giraffes have the best view for miles around, and so does the bird show ground. Here's the guy with the 'Barny Owl'.

The 'Free Flight' show was great, with the usual owls and other raptors as well as a cleptomaniac gallah, trained chickens and storks, black and white cockatoos, and even and Andean condor, all behaving perfectly in the skies over Sydney.


The condor and a flock of Black Cockatoos


Fundraiser at the end, where you give a coin to the cockatoo and it drops it in a box. And a snog from a gorilla afterwards.

Kid's zoo feeding time, always a favourite.

Tree kangaroo, and some stunning pics the Mr took of the tiger: 'Such a Chospcat!'

Mr Tapier was out and about!

Cable car back up to the top

So here we are, Monday morning, the Mr's gone off to work, the Littles is rolling around the place playing her DS, I'm sitting here uploading pictures, the house is an unspeakable shambles and there's a garage-full of damp camping equipment that needs drying, cleaning and putting away. I guess I'd better get going.