Thursday, January 31, 2013

Of droughts and flooding rains

So it has been a wild, wild week over here at Betsy's. Let me set the scene. The prolonged six weeks of school holidays are coming to an end. The children have completely had enough of each other. But it is all ok as we have a weekend full of outdoor activities planned for that final few days. And then an ex tropical cyclone, hysterically called Oswald, moves right in. And it rains and rains and rains,  and we try and make the best of it.

Of course that means we have to throw on our swimmers and enjoy our long long driveway with some scootering in the rain.

And we ferret out every last vestige of crafty indoor activities that can be found at the end of an excessively long holiday.

And we collapse in front of the original Disney version of Snow White  and in those scary scenes the howling wind makes us dive under the pillows.

When the power goes out we are thankful that we were prepared and had shopped for batteries and torches. We are relieved that Betsy sits high on a hill and is not at risk of flood. We worry for friends who are not so high on a hill. When the rain clears on that last day, we know exactly what needs to be done, on this Australia Day holiday. We come together with our neighbours, some we have never met before, and we clear fallen trees and debris. Just like two years before, we come together in adversity.

Legoman gets to play chainsaws all afternoon and I get to chat with some lovely women that on a normal day I might only wave at  and say hello. We had no power for two days, Brisbane escaped with much less flooding than anticipated, our friends who were flooded two years ago were spared. Sadly many huge old trees lie fallen, uprooted, in our suburb. The first  picture is the one that took out the power lines to our street.

 Our thoughts go out to all those people in regional queensland who are not sleeping in their own beds tonight, whose possessions are submerged under layers of filthy water and mud. I hope they are all discovering their neighbours and the human goodness that can follow a disaster.

While feeling intense gratitude for our safe,dry house this week we have also packed up the Esky, thrown out all the spoiled food in our freezer, gone back to work, gone back to school and Liongirl has started her first day at four year old kindy. It has been a BIG week.  It seems that January is never dull where the weather is concerned, one minute bush fires, the next floods. This poem sums it all up really.

I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains
I love her far horizons
I love her jewel sea
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me.

Dorothea Mackellar, written in 1904. There are six wonderful verses to this poem,  that despite being over one hundred years old, still resonates clearly today.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


a portrait of my children, once a week every week in 2013 via Che and Fidel

He :  so happy to have a new pair of his favourite yellow shoes. We appreciate that he is always easy to spot in a crowd with this longstanding colour obsession.

She : is always happy to have a go, she shimmied up that rope faster than the professionals.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kindness and a seaside escape

Sometimes the kindness of strangers will take your breath away. A few posts back when I shared the new Nurse Nancy shelf, I mentioned that miss Liongirl was lamenting the missing red phone. A little red phone just like this one.

So, in the comments of that post I received a message from Maureen at Knitgirl 66 that she had a little red phone just like the one in the picture that she wanted to pass onto Liongirl. It had been hers as a child and she wanted to pass it on to a little girl who would enjoy it as much as she had. Liongirl was so excited, she was checking the letterbox four times a day, even on the weekend. When it arrived, we could not have imagined anything as lovely. It has a wind up key, then when you press the buttons it rings until it has unwound.

There have been lots of turns of answering with "Hospital" followed by various emergencies and ambulance requests. It will be thoroughly loved and enjoyed over here at Betsy's and I am still a little overwhelmed by the  kindness of this  gesture from someone I have never met.

She even packed a little gift for Roboboy as well, carefully labelled so not to be snaffled up by the little sister. Maureen, you might like to know that the little lizard had a washer and toothbrush packed with him in a travel case and was taken away on holidays with us the day he arrived.

So once the phone was popped in its proper place on the top of the Nurse Nancy shelf, we were out the door and off on a little mini adventure. We had not been away these  holidays at all and when Legoman was sent away for work for a week, I decided to round up my mum and run off with the kids to the seaside for a few days.

While we had some ordinary (rainy and cool) weather we still managed to enjoy ourselves. We trotted off to Redcliffe which is only about 40 minutes away.

 The beaches are not great for swimming but the flotsam and jetsam was absolutely the best. Never have we collected so much sea glass in such a small area, enough for a whole stretch of crazy paving in the mermaid garden the kids wanted to make. And the blue blubber jellyfish washed up on the beach were prized collectables too. We only picked up the ones without tentacles, even though they not really dangerous, there is a risk of an itchy contact rash. We had no problems, except that once Roboboy starts collecting he has to sweep the entire beach.

There was also an enormous assortment of seaweeds, shells, corals as well as the usual bits of bright coloured plastic we always end up collecting. See, that little yellow plastic lid is a frypan on the stove, behind that was the shower and in the entry are all those bits of sea glass in crazy paving style. What fun we had traipsing up and down the beach loading up our buckets with all these treasures before coming back to a shady spot to assemble it all.

Now as all those jellies were a deterrent to ocean swimming, luckily  Settlement Cove Lagoon is just  a quick scooter ride away. (This pic is from the official Redcliffe site here).

A huge public swimming pool, complete with an island much to Roboboy's delight, all right on the foreshore but with no risk of jellyfish stings.

And conveniently close to a large serve of calamari and chips.

With both the kids on scooters were were able to explore a large area of the foreshore. Finding some red cliffs for Roboboy to scale (now he gets why it's called Redcliffe),

finding interesting wind powered sculptures,

and upstairs art galleries with scenic vistas from their windows.

I was even able to peruse some op shops while mum stayed with the kids but the pickings were very lean, probably a good thing with all this decluttering. I did find this amazing turret  house though, (I have a thing for houses with turret rooms).

It was part of a massive rambling old house overlooking the water at Scarborough. The house had been turned into flats but was spectacular. I snuck into the front garden to take this one. The was only about one third of the frontage, it was incredible.

So, now we are arranging our massive sea glass collection and checking off all those last minute back to school  jobs we have to get done. While I think of it, can anyone tell me how I can add the reply function onto my comments? After receiving so many lovely comments and some that made me giggle (I can never think of iced vovo's the same again after comments on my last post) I would love to be able   to let you all know that I do not intentionally match my sandals to my bike, and I love all the bits and pieces you share about your own lives, so if I could reply to individual comments that would be the bees knees.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

School holiday snapshots

Betsy has an old fashioned wind up doorbell, with every wind it lets out a shrill tring tring tring, for as long as the children keep winding. And the children do so love to keep winding. The other morning, early, that tring tring tring dragged me away from the porridge. I was about to rouse, when I opened the door to discover miss Liongirl clutching this crepe myrtle branch in her grubby paws. For me, as a gift, the little monkey had scaled the tree herself to get it. She insisted on a vase and lucky I have so much milk glass lying around.

Now that I have actually crocheted something to completion, I feel completely justified in starting something new, a stripy cushion for the girl this time. Must say, I do feel like a lunatic sitting around doing this in the sweltering summer heat but it gives me something to do while I supervise the kids when they swim. Now just need to work out where I am going wrong on the ends when some rows are just a bit shorter than others.

This is what happens when very clever people crochet- an iced vovo replica. I found this recently at Handmade High Street, looking forward to wearing my iced vovo on my lapel when it cools down enough to wear something requiring a lapel. For anyone unfamiliar with an iced vovo, they have been around for decades and consist of biscuit, pink icing, strawberry jam and coconut.

And look what my mother in law turned up with. A replica of our burmese Bella. So that when Roboboy has a sleepover he can bring his cat with him for company. I think it is an uncanny resemblance. They are also the only ones in the house lucky enough to be getting holiday naps I might add.

Instead we have been doing pretty much daily bouts of hosing on the trampoline.

Visiting our neighbours for swims, we have open slather on their pool as most of their children are all grown up at uni, sometimes if we are lucky their nine year old is home to play.

When it's too hot and the sun burns in the middle of the day we crank up the aircon and fall back on our old faithful friend mobilo,

and dig out old games for another try.

Sometimes I go to the beauty parlour and get extreme makeovers involving yellow eyeshadow and multiple lip glosses. Roboboy made up a menu for me, so I can order from miss Liongirl's extensive range of options.

and later when it cools off, it's time for a ride. i.e. Roboboy and I ride while miss Liongirl sits in her chariot and stuffs herself with snacks. Ah school holidays, we love you and we also just a little bit love that there is only a week to go.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


a portrait of my children, once a week every week in 2013 via Che and Fidel

He : loves to raid my fabric stash to create scenes for his lego. Brown corduroy is perfect for power miners.

She : will not wear goggles or a cap but does swim like a fish.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The freakish incident of the yellow sheet and the pink cot

So with a vigorous attempt to declutter the house I have been avoiding the oppies for the last month. I think I was having withdrawels though, so it was time for a quick forage. I have become much more selective in my acquisitions it seems, as I came home with quite a small selection.

Much of my milkglass has been packed away carefully, this pile was stacked in the cupboard after Liongirl's birthday. Reminds me of a wedding cake, or perhaps a fountain. The flower plate at the bottom is new, not milkglass, maybe pyrex.

 The candle holder on the top of the pile was from a recent jaunt away, a rather lovely find for $1.50.

I'm not usually swept up by figurines, but these did move me for some reason. Maybe it's the withdrawels.

There are some vintage sheets, still drying unfortunately. Except for this yellow one, which I wasn't even sure about buying as yellow is not my favourite colour. But try as I might, I could not leave this one behind. It all made sense when my mum turned up and did a double take when she saw it in the washing pile. Seems it was the exact sheet on her bed for most of my childhood. It all came rushing back as soon as she told me. Mildly freakish.

The truly, truly freakish incident has a slight back story. I have a bit of a thing for old wooden toy cots. The little dolly ones hand made by doting grandfathers. Just a few days ago, while he was still high on the spoils of his last gumtree sale, Legoman asked me what was the plan for the cots. I think there were four at that stage. Three were in use in miss Liongirls doll hospital and one was in the granny flat awaiting a paint job. All of them were thrifted and probably cost me a total of $20 for the lot. One is white with a tester to hold a canopy, one is a dusky pink and has gorgeous vintage decals, one is ophanage lilac and is a rocking cradle and one is a  two story lemon number. I fobbed him off with some vague conversation involving me possibly having a shop selling vintage toy cots and clothes one day and he let it go. In short, he was on to me and I would need to guard those cots with my life or they would be next.

The next day I happened to be sauntering down to the Woolloongabba Antique Centre (having secured myself an hour or two of childfree time) when I noticed a truck pulled up across the road. It was a skip truck and there was something pink peeking out the top of the load. The pink something looked a little like this.

My vintage-cot-retinal-scanning-template assessed this as a probable match and I paused for about a nanosecond before running across the road to accost the driver. Yes indeed it was a pink dolls cot, yes it was going to the dump and yes I could absolutely have it. I could have hugged the man. The freakish part, ( aside from the image of a crazy woman lugging a huge pink cot for a block down the street with an equally huge loopy smile on her face) was that this truck was outside the scrap metal yard delivering the metal parts of his load before heading to the dump. He had pulled up for a total of five minutes at the exact time I was walking past. Now if that pink cot was not destined to be saved by me then I'll just eat my valance. So now I have five dolly cots to guard while the selling frenzy continues.

Somehow I'm not sure that telling Legoman that they are all different colours and styles is going to cut the mustard for why they must stay. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Holiday playground antics part one

I wanted to share a fantastic  playground discovery we recently stumbled across. Given that there are still two weeks left of the school holidays, I thought it might be nice for some of my local followers to have some fresh options  to exhaust the children make the most of this hot summer weather we are having.

This playground has been built on the site of the old Tennyson power station that was demolished years ago when it was deemed too unsafe to salvage. (It had just the right ambience  for the filming of Scooby Doo Two though).

image from Mirvac

Some small remnants of the original brick walls have been retained as a historical feature right on the banks of the Brisbane River.

And the playground itself has been creatively themed around the structure and function of this historical site. This particular section of riverside land was intend to house a huge apartment building but was flooded in 2011 and subsequently reclaimed by the council for parkland.

It is huge and has a massive climbing area for bigger kids, miss Liongirl would be included now she is four (she would have been all over this at three too).

But the absolute best part, the feature that has had us back there no less than five times in two weeks? Well that would be the tap, in the sandpit. So simple but so, so, so appealing, even when you are nearly seven. Never in all my years of park crawls, of which there have been hundreds, have I ever come across an open slather water option in a sandpit. We are now packing togs with every visit.

There is serious negotiation around that button as to who gets to press, for how long, which trough is being filled next and where to direct the overflow. By the last visit Roboboy had it all sorted. Actually after a good soak I think he and a posse of boys moved onto making concealed traps, as you do.

And if all this is not quite awesome enough, there is a superb cafe 50 metres away. We sampled of course.

So if you fancy some of the above, this brand new playground only opened about three weeks ago so you have advanced notice on the hoards who will no doubt descend when word gets out. It is quite hot due to lack of mature trees so I would suggest early morning or late afternoon . There are some great paths for scootering too.

 You can find the Tennyson Riverside Park on King Arthur Terrace at Tennyson, adjacent to the Queensland Tennis Centre, the closest train station is Yeerongpilly.

Buzz Bistro is visible from the playground, it is partly obscured by a large poinciana tree and is on the ground floor level of the closest apartment block to the playground.

And I have another all kinds of awesome park and playground for bigger kids to share soon.