A bit of this and that...with added frangipani.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

FYLP - Springtime is Swing Time

I'm just back from a long walk, 6.32 km as the sun rose over the rainforest. We're experiencing our glorious spring weather at the moment, and I just want it to be September all year around. 

Soon we'll be shutting up the windows and whacking on the air conditioner. The rains will kick in, and my morning walks will start to get soggy. But for now, I'm going to take it all in and enjoy every single moment - what's not to enjoy?!

Today, I want to share some electro-swing, because its upbeat rhythm matches my mood, and this time, we get to watch some cool dance moves at the same time! This fellow's emulating a YouTuber called takeSomeCrime, but I prefer this version. I think it's a combination of the apartment with that view, his suit and his fun dance style. The dancer goes by the name of JustSomeMotion, and the song is called Delight by Jamie Berry Featuring Octavia Rose. (Isn't that a lovely name?)

Hope you're enjoying your weekend and are doing all the things you love to do.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We really must take the kids to the Daintree

"We really must take the kids to the Daintree."

It's something that we've said time and time again. We moved to Cairns in 2006, and in all those years, we never made it to the Daintree River, only two hours north of Cairns. Will and I visited the area in 2002 before we started our family, but never had we ventured that far north since then.

I suppose the thought of a four-hour return trip with kids whingeing in our ears just didn't appeal. Now that the boys are older though, there really was no excuse. It had been on my mind more and more lately. I was just looking for the next opportunity to present itself, and I would jump on it.

That opportunity came in the form of a tax return with the bills for this month already paid and a little left over for some fun - a rare occurrence indeed.

The boys were very excited when they heard about our last minute plans to see the crocodiles in their natural habitat. I booked our stay at the Daintree Riverview Lodges & Van Park. A not-unreasonable $110 per couple with $20 extra for each child. We received a discount, because the room with the bunks that we requested was not available so we opted for a mattress on the floor instead of changing the booking to another weekend. 

On the Saturday, we took our time packing and didn't even get on the road until after 10:30 am. There was no need to rush, because we couldn't check in until 2 pm anyway. 

We stopped in Port Douglas for a 'light lunch' at The Tin Shed. Someone was pleased when we said he no longer had to order from the children's menu. The restaurant staff all but applauded him as he left the restaurant, because they thought there was no way he was going to eat all that. He may or may not have had a small amount of help from his younger brother, but he did eat most of it himself.

A rib feast
Graduating from the children's menu with gusto!

Back on the road a little while later, I realised that I forgot the printout of the booking details for the accommodation. All I could remember was that it was the Daintree Riverview and it was on Stewart. As we approached Daintree Village, I saw a sign that said Stewart Creek Road, so we turned left before we entered the village.

One lesson that Will should have learned in our 22 years together is to never let me navigate. I have a terrible sense of direction, and I'll send him on a wild goose chase every time. This time was no different. After more than half an hour of driving on a dirt road, avoiding pot holes and cattle, thinking that they should have mentioned the rough access on the website, we stopped at a private holiday lodge to ask for directions. Turns out it was 9 km back the way we came. The van park was located two doors further on from where I told Will to take that left turn.

We finally arrived at the Daintree Riverview and our hosts Peter and Sally introduced themselves (beware Peter's firm-bordering-on-bone-crushing handshake) and showed us our room. It was small and clean, but the real reason that I chose this accommodation was the magnificent view that was to be had from the verandah.

View of the Daintree River at sunset
View from the verandah at the Daintree Riverview Lodges & Van Park

We explored the surroundings and booked our boat trip for 11 am the next day. We whiled away the time playing pool and our favourite dice game at the hotel across the road; it was more like a restaurant than a pub, and time passed quickly.

I rushed back to the riverside to get some photos of the sunset, which proved difficult with two energetic boys throwing stones in the river right were I was trying to capture the serenity. I did manage to get this one though.

Sunset View of the Daintree
Sunset View of the Daintree River

Later, we enjoyed a tasty roast dinner at the hotel before returning to the lodge's common area and settling in for games of Charades and Celebrity Heads. Will and I retired earlier than we might normally have, but didn't mind as it had been a full day and we were exhausted.

The next morning, I got up just before sunrise and sat quietly on the verandah listening to the morning sounds. The boys were stirring and I didn't want them waking the other guests (the drawback of that lovely verandah was that it was wood, and the layout of the rooms meant that all noise was amplified - kids' noise even more so), so I took them out for a walk. 

I had hoped that I would be able to spot some different wildlife than what we were used to, similar to what I exerienced when we visited Chillagoe in December, but alas it was the same old Kookaburras, Rainbow Lorikeets and Torres Strait pigeons. I did manage to take a couple of good shots anyway.

Morning Mist in the Daintree
Morning Mist


After I prepared a simple Father's Day breakfast of fried egg and bacon sandwiches, it was time to check out of our room and board the Crocodile Express. This is a reasonably priced tour at $60 for our family of four - much better than the $190 one of the other tour operators was asking.

The Crocodile Express III
About to board the Crocodile Express III

Once we were underway, our tour guide told us that we would be lucky to see a croc that day, as the weather was warming up, and it meant that the crocs would soon have no need to sun themselves on the banks of the river. The water would be warm enough for them to stay submerged full-time.

Luck was with us and we managed to spot three crocodiles - a male and two females. Barratt was a 3.5 m croc, which is not as big as they come, and he was named after the creek that they think he came from. 

Barratt - a 3.5 m crocodile

Rusty was so named because of the rusty tinge to her scales. Rusty also had an injury on her hind leg that was healing nicely. 
Rusty - a female crocodile

Archie, another female but named after Archie's creek, didn't smile for the camera like the others, but we could make her out hiding in the low-hanging boughs of the trees.

Archie - a female crocodile hidden by the trees

Our tour operator very skillfully spotted a common tree snake. My photo is grainy, but considering how much it was obscured, I was fortunate to get a shot at all.

Common Tree Snake
Common Tree Snake

After our boat tour was over, we made our way slowly back to Cairns.

It was after noon so we picked up some fish and chips at the servo in Mossman and devoured our greasy but delicious lunch at Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. The boys had a swim, and we finished it all off with double scoops at Wicked Ice Cream on Macrossan Street.

The car ride back was a quiet one, as I think everyone was exhausted by the day's happenings. When we got home, the dogs were ecstatic to see us, and we were content and happy after a full and spontaneous weekend. 

We can finally stop saying "We really must take the kids to the Daintree." - at least for a little while.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Screaming Like Kate Capshaw

For the last week and a bit, I've been prodding my boys at 5:45 am to join me for a walk around the neighbourhood. We've enjoyed the glorious sunrises and local wildlife, and I think the kids are revelling in a bit of my undivided attention. It's a wonderful way to start the day.

Clockwise from Top: Glorious sunrise; Figbird: "I shall sing you the song of my people"; Guinea Fowl

As we usually leave the house before Will's alarm goes off, we have reverted to our old way of writing notes for each other in the A4 diary that sits on the bench. This is reminiscent of the days when I worked days in an office and Will worked nights at the transport company. During the week, we only communicated via scrawls in the diary.

So yesterday, as I has already written instructions regarding releasing the dogs for their morning ablutions and bade him a fond farewell, at the end of our walk, we were surprised to find Will's car still in the drive. When we got inside the house, we learned that he had forgotten to set his alarm and so he slept in; hence he was there to greet us as we arrived home.

Today, as the boys and I were at the beginning of our usual route, I hesitated as we passed a car that was sitting half on the footpath with its door swung open. Someone was sitting inside wearing dark clothes and a woolen beanie on his head, smoking a cigarette. We hurried past and carried on. The bloke was probably just waiting to pick up a mate needing a ride for work, but the situation made me uneasy just the same.

We continued on our way and chatted about astronomy and corny jokes learned on Stampy Long Nose's YouTube channel (if you have Minecraft-mad kids you may know who that is). Anyway, as we were nearing the end of our neighbourhood circuit, we were fully engrossed in conversation as we passed a clump of bushes that were taller than me. All of a sudden, this man leapt out of the bushes, screamed "Aaargh!!" and snatched my children, while I screamed like Kate Capshaw in an Indiana Jones movie.

Apparently, the man left his home and locked the door on his way out only to realise that he had forgotten his keys on the kitchen bench. This left him unable to go to work or back inside the house, so he thought it would be a good idea to sneak up on his family while they were out for their morning exercise. This man may also find himself without a job for being late two days in a row, and in his golden years, he'll be a lonely widower because I think he's just taken years off my life. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I think I may be turning into a Whovian

We set the alarm for 4:45 am. This morning, at precisely that time, I felt a tug on my arm, and I sleepily opened one eye to see my 10-year-old urging me to spring from my bed so that we could all gather in the living room.

The eagerly anticipated movie-length first episode of the new series of Doctor Who was being telecast simultaneously with its release in the UK. With one boy tucked under each arm while we snuggled on the couch, I watched the latest incarnation of the Doctor as he shook off the grogginess of having undergone yet another regeneration.

On Wednesday evening, we watched an interview with the actor who will now play the Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I watched with an open mind, enjoying the personal stories of the actor and loving his Scottish accent just a little bit.

The 12th Doctor and Clara Oswald
Peter Capaldi - Doctor Who; Jenna Coleman - Clara Oswald
Image Source
When it came time to watch him as Doctor Who, though, I have to say that I need to watch a few more episodes to form a fair opinion. This character hasn't endeared himself to me yet, but I am hopeful. Matt Smith was our favourite Doctor, although I must admit, I've always only ever seen the odd episode with bits watched whilst doing other things - but it didn't take much watching to warm to his quirky portrayal of this beloved character. 

I laughed at the funny bits of this newest episode and turned to the boys and asked, "Has it always been this funny?!" They just gave me look as if to say, "Duh!" and turned back to the programme.

So moved was I by the part in the story where Clara struggled with connecting with this new version of the Doctor, that a few tears trickled out of the corner of my eyes when Matt Smith made a small appearance on our screen - I must have had something in my eye.

Even if I haven't wholly embraced Peter Capaldi as the Doctor yet, the first episode has me hooked, and I can't wait until next week so that I can watch some more. I think I'm turning into a Whovian.

If you weren't one of the crazy ones to get up before 5 am to watch the Episode 1 of Series 8, it's being replayed on the ABC at 7:40 this evening, and it's already available on iView.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

We were hoping for rain.

Yesterday, it was our school fair. I'd been suffering with a cold since Thursday, and I was secretly hoping for rain so that we'd have an excuse to leave as fast as our feet would carry us. We had commitments in the early part of the day: I had to help out with the Lucky Jar Stall for an hour, and afterwards MasterTen would wow us with his bass playing in the string orchestra. But after that, I would be free as a bird. This being our seventh year attending the fair, my heart was just not in it.

The weather did not cooperate, and despite a forecast of 'pissing down with rain for the entire weekend' as relayed by my also-hopeful husband, it was a glorious day and my chances of an early mark faded as the sun thumbed its nose at us. 

So rather than lament about the fine weather, we decided to suck it up and enjoy the festivities.

Turns out the Lucky Jar Stall was one of the good ones to help out with because my job was easy; all I had to do was find the lucky jar that matched the winning ticket. In previous years, I've not been so fortunate. Memories of hording children, irate parents, and queues snaking around the school buildings still plague me. Okay, there weren't exactly hordes, there was only one irate parent, and there were just five people in the queue - but it was still stressful.

After I bade farewell to the new shift of Lucky Jar distributors, I headed over to the stage in the assembly area. I watched intently as my boy plucked the strings of his guitar in time with the orchestra. He was mouthing "one, two, three, one, two, three" as he did so, but I found this adorable. At one point he missed a bit, but quickly recovered and wasn't flustered at all by his little mistake. Motherly pride overwhelmed me. Guess he actually has been practising when I thought he was just 'stringing' me along.

With our commitments done for the day, we were free to wander around. In past years, we've taken the kids to each ride, waited in the queue with them, watched them on the ride and then made sure they found their shoes at the end. Lather, rinse, repeat times umpteen turns on the Giant Slide, Reverse Bungy, the quad bikes and all the rest. Now that the kids are older we can let them explore on their own - as long as they are together or with friends. So, this year, Will and I got to watch the dancing, martial arts, dog obedience demos and we even got to have a beer in the beer tent - just the one. The boys just checked in with us periodically.

Our favourite teacher, who left the school in May to have her beautiful baby girl, attended the fair to show off her bundle of joy. The new mum was radiant, as were my boys at seeing their favourite chess opponent once again. Plans for our school holiday day trip to her new hometown are underway.

Another positive outcome of the day is that because of the forecast rain, we decided not to buy the ride tickets in advance as we had in previous years, and after checking my wallet this morning, it appears to have been a good decision, because I still had money in there - bonus!

So, all through the week, I was dreading the day, but it turned out all right in the end. It's amazing what happens when you just change the way you think about something.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

FYLP - Angus and Julia Stone

I've been listening to a lot of Angus and Julia Stone lately. I've got their album, Memories of an Old Friend in the car, and Julia's haunting voice is soothing to me. Angus and Julia Stone are siblings from Sydney. This folk duo is very talented, as evidenced by their two APRA (Australian Performing Right Association) awards and five ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards.

This first song I'm sharing with you today is rather sad, but I like the video and how they tell the story of a relationship has ended due to infidelity. It tugs at the heartstrings as you're pulled into the drama. I was riveted to the screen. Here's I'm Not Yours from their 2010 album Down the Way.

This next song is the hit that was awarded an ARIA for Single of the Year in 2010. It was brought to my attention recently on an episode of a favourite ABC series, Time of Our Lives. I'm loving it so much right now that I have it as a bookmark on my browser toolbar and whenever I feel like it - which is most days - I have another listen.

What do you think of the music of Angus and Julia Stone?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Time to Just Write

A few of the people I know online, who used to blog religiously, have abandoned blogging altogether and have moved on to other interests. It's been quiet here too.

Although I've considered it, I don't want to abandon my blog. It's there for me when I need to vent or when I just want to be creative. Even if I have few readers, the ones who matter to me most are still reading. I've been bogged down in perfectionism, thinking that every blog post needs to be just right, crafted carefully to provide the reader with useful information, to provoke thought or to amuse with witty tales.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to encourage my youngest son to do more drawing. He thinks that he's not good at art, and I told him that it just takes practice. I said that part of the problem is that he's like me and is too critical of his work. He should just do a bit of a drawing on a scrap piece of paper and then throw it away. I told him not to worry about whether it's good or not, because he would just be throwing it away anyway, but he would be practising, and before long, his skills would improve, and it would become easier for him.

I realise that I need to take my own advice. I just need to write a little bit every day, and my writing will improve or at the very least my inspiration to write may come more easily. The same goes for drawing. I enjoy drawing but have always been tormented by the blank page. What to draw - what if I stuff it up and waste a lot of effort - who am I drawing for? The answers to these questions are "whatever you want", "so what?" and "for yourself". So today, I'm writing a few words, and there are no pretty pictures to accompanying them. Sometimes finding/taking a suitable photo, editing it and uploading it is a hindrance to a blog post actually getting published. 

Time to just write.
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