Sunday, January 14, 2018

I would totally love it right now if Lily just went and ate her breakfast.  It’s been days since she was interested in breakfast, and with her eating very little dinner, and being a very small dog to start off with, it stresses me out.

I mean, the reason she isn’t eating is that she’s sooky, and the reason that she’s sooky is that she is picking up on my body language which probably says a combination of “Hell no”, “stressed to the n’th degree” and “aaaackkkkkk!” And so her little dog self is like “nooooooo, Mum!” But she really is such a very small dog and please, Lily, please eat your breakfast.

I’ve pumped up the bike’s tyres today and will go for a cycle when it cools down.  Maybe a little exercise will bring her appetite back.

Did I mention how small a dog she is?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye, 2017

2017, you suck.

Here I am, on the cusp of a new year - is that the right word? - and I've watched the first sunrise of 2018 and although it was beautiful I just feel this dread inside me of not knowing what this new year will bring.

What do I want from 2018?  What do I expect?  I don't think I know, but I do hope that it's a good year.  

I haven't made any resolutions.  I have hopes, things I want to do - but the inevitability of life keeps happening outside of my control.

So I raise my figurative glass to 2018, and I say Bring It On - but not too much at once, because my basket is already pretty full with Life Things.  So maybe just Bring It On Gently. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


I wasn’t allowed to put butter in the mashed potatoes.  Milk, yes, but not butter, because butter cost money, and money was something that we didn’t have.  It’s not a bad memory, just a memory, something I think of as I make mashed potatoes with heapings of butter, standing at the stovetop, reminiscing.  It’s always strange making food for one.  How many potatoes do you need for one serve of mash?  I always get it wrong.  We used to weigh it: 3oz of potatoes per person, unless it was for roast, and then at least double.  There were plenty of potatoes.  We grew whole fields of them, and during winter they were stored in big piles under hessian sacks in the byre.  There was a field full of carrots, and I am told my brother ate so many one day during harvest that he completely lost the taste for them.  That’s not a real memory, but one I learnt from someone else.

How do you separate memories from stories?  Is it a memory I have of asking my dad for popping paper, or do I know it because I have seen it countless times in the video recorded of my childhood?  “Daddy, can I have some popping paper?” is not a phrase I remember saying, but a little voice I can hear in my mind from the recording.

I do remember some things.  I remember sitting in the car to go to Naas hospital when Jonathan broke his leg.  I must have been around five.  I remember reading Tintin in the lounge and choosing to stay reading rather than take Jonathan to the airport.  At eight, I didn’t realise he wouldn’t be coming back.  And when days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and my brother didn’t return, I remembered reading Tintin and choosing the book over my brother.  Is it a bad memory, reading Tintin?  No, but I did wish I had gone to the airport instead.

I don’t have many memories of my brothers before they left.  I was eight when Jonathan went to Alaska, and around ten for Christopher’s departure.  I remember going to Johnny’s Bay, an inlet of Blessington Lake that my brother “discovered.”  I remember running through a wasp’s nest, and stopping because Pam had told me never to run away from wasps, and I remember one of my brothers shouting at me to run – and stubbornly standing still until they started to sting me. 

Jon and Chris had a chin-up bar at the door of their bedroom, far above my head, and dumbbells that Jon had made and filled with cement.  I wasn’t allowed in their bedroom – I shared one with Sarah next to my parent’s room.  Jonathan smashed my face into the carpet one day because I refused to leave their room, but more vividly I remember being spanked because I continued to pick the scab on my nose – something I entirely blamed my brother for.

That was when we lived at the house.  When we moved to the chalet, Chris’s room was the other end of the building.  I don’t remember whether Jonathan had moved to Alaska by this point.  Sarah’s and my room was painted the most awful pink, with pink floral curtains and a sickly pink carpet.  When Sarah finally moved out, my parents bought me a large blue and cream rug to cover the majority of the carpet, changed the curtains to blue ones, and also painted the walls blue.  I don’t think it was so much the hatred of pink as the hatred of having to have pink.  Pink coats, pink bedroom, all the dresses that I had to wear because I was a girl.

I remember climbing trees.  Jon and Chris climbed higher and with ropes if they couldn’t get up by themselves.  I never went that far, but I remember perching at the very top of the laurels and firs, peeking out over the driveway and yelling at passerbys.  I don’t ever remember being cautioned not to fall, although Sarah got banned from tree-climbing for tearing too many clothes – also not a memory for me, only for her.

We had rabbits’ offal on toast, for lunch, and sometimes tuna, although never more than a spoonful, but if you scraped it thin enough you could spread it over two slices of toast. In those days, it was usually margarine, and once we got free tubs of sunflower spread from a grocer because they were out of date.  Unfortunately, sometimes they had gone off and tasted strong, bitter and rank. Kathy always thought they tasted fine, but she would also drink sour milk and strong butter, when we had it.  There were countless lemon biscuits, as they came by the crate load.  Matthew Beaney saved a packet for years and years as a memento of those times.  Maybe he still has it.

As children, we never had homework.  School started at 0830, and finished at 1530, except for the older children, who finished at 1700.  When free of school, we had chores which included looking after ducklings, chicks and pet lambs in the spring.  My childhood bible lists the names and dates of births of all of my pet lambs under births, deaths and marriages – and yes, it lists the deaths (yum) too!  The rest of the time, we were free to roam, unsupervised.  We played cops and robbers, dammed the stream, climbed trees, and I’m surprised that Mum ever kept up with the laundry.  The outdoors, adventure, and exploring, always held my heart.  Of course, I also spent a lot of time playing with Barbies!

It seems like a long time ago, all these memories.  I spend so much time now going through the motions of life: going to work, coming home, eating, watching Netflix, and often I forget to remember what’s important.  Was it important that we didn’t have money?  No.  Was it important that we ate offal instead of steak?  Well, actually I like offal – Sarah doesn’t.  Chris wrote poetry about it “Offal is Awful” but that’s not a bad memory, to me.  Chicken hearts were my favourite – and bacon rinds!  I don’t know what ever happened to the bacon – I never remember getting any.  We were a family, and we were loved, and that’s more important than owning anything, or having nice possessions.  I mean, yes, I wanted a coat that wasn’t pink, but that’s not what made me who I am.

If you’re expecting this post to have a meaningful conclusion, I guess that’s it.  I was sitting on the couch watching Netflix, and then I started to think about what I was going to have for lunch – bangers and mash – and then I started thinking about butter, and that, your honour, is why I wrote this post.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Not enough time

I feel like I need a thousand days off to get done all the things I want to get done.  Mainly because I spend my actual days off climbing mountains or watching Netflix.  Today is a Netflix day as I ache all over and my neck is feeling particularly dodgy. 

So far today, I have cleaned the guinea pigs' cage - yes, that's my newest venture - and bought them oodles of fresh fruit and veggies.  Mind you, I don't get any fresh fruit or veggies, those are specifically for the wiglets, and instead, I have mince pies, chocolates and Cheezels.  Personal health 101...

Blogging is one of the things that has fallen by the wayside, despite epic mountain adventures such as our nine hour hike on Mt Barney, which was exciting and excellent and terribly wet on the descent.  Narrowly missing a rescue on Mt Beerwah a couple of days ago - a couple fell 20m merely 10 or so minutes after we left the mountain.  A sunrise climb up Beerwah was another thing I have failed to blog about, and of course the entire arrival of the guinea pigs to the household.

If I were a real blogger, I would have told you all about these things.  Instead, I've spent the majority of the day watching back to back episodes of The Crown.  An excellent series, I must say.  This is on top of cleaning out the wiglets, of course.  Lily also got fed, because being a mother comes with responsibilities.

Anyway, I'm already running out of oomph for blogging, so the rest must come later.  In the meantime, YouTube calls...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

So much to tell

Beerwah and Tibro today, just because they were there, although now my knees are saying they are also there. We went as a group from the social climbers FB page, and my new hero is a 69 year old woman who flew up the mountains and says she wants to have her 70th birthday party on top of Beerwah next year.  I want to be like her when I'm old!

Christmas tree we helped to build on top of Beerwah.

Yesterday I wrapped tons and tons of Christmas presents, and went to Albury, but not in that order.  

At the top of Tibro with Tash.

Friday, I climbed Tibro, also because it was there, and Thursday, as we are tracking my week backwards, I conquered Mt Warning.  It just keeps on going on and on, steps ad infinitum, with a scramble at the end but horribly man made due to concrete steps and even a chain along the scramble.  It's a 9k round trip and took me 2h16 so I'm pretty happy with that - 1h19 of constant uphill.  I stayed down in Coolangatta the night before, as Warning is a good 2h+ drive from home, and as I was down south for work anyway, it seemed pointless to go home.  I hoped for some good photos but it was totally in cloud. 

No view on Mt Warning...

Then of course backtracking to Tuesday, I was in Osborne for the day and managed to get a tour of the mine.  It was very cool and I got to learn all about the things they were mining - like bornite and chalcopyrite- and even bring home a couple of specimens.  

The mine: there is actually an underground mine opening that continues down to 1200m.

This is an example of the core they drill to decide where to mine.

Anyway it has been a VERY busy week, and I am about to go to Tamworth, so I should close this post.  Also, on Wednesday we plan to climb Mt Barney - expecting a 8-9hour hike, and I have been told I'll need about 5 litres of water, so that could get interesting...

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Oh Beerwah, you are truly gorgeous.

And the early morning sun reflecting off the dam made the view even more beautiful.  Strange seeing my mountains from the other direction: Coonowrin, the crooked neck at the left, Tibrogargan top centre.  You can even see Tiberoowuccum on Tib's right.  I believe Ngungun is directly behind Coonowrin.

It was a much nicer climb in the dry.

Scrambling up the 'bowl' got us to the cliff face, which was incredible, sheer and impassable although people do climb it.

View straight up the cliff from below. 

We then climbed around the base of the cliff to continue our ascent along one of the ridges, as clearly, the cliff wasn't going to be our route.

We even investigated a bat cave, I have no photos of this but John had a torch and we slipped down into the cave on our hands and knees and crawled along to see the little bats.  So cool - creepy, but cool.

The bare path that looks like a river is our rocky scramble up the bowl: probably about 45 degree slope at a guess?  Definitely not as technical as Tib.

From another angle (the opposite side of the bowl)

Made it to the top!  A cool picture even if John is unable to keep a horizon straight!

Proof that I did not climb alone.  This is John, a friendly climber I met yesterday on Tibrogargan, and who helped me safely navigate Beerwah today.  

It was o so breathtaking and o so beautiful.  Dad, you will truly love this mountain!! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

(Backup) We didn't make it

It rained.

It rained a lot.

Also, Lily threw up in my bed at 0400.  

Also, my plans of climbing Beerwah were scuppered by the rain.  We started off anyway - actually it was dry leaving Mango Hill, so the doubts only set in as we headed on to Steve Irwin Way.  

"It's a bit wet," I commented

"Oh, you noticed that too?" said Ben.

So of course we continued to Beerwah, deciding to see if it got any drier on the way (oh the dreams of fools). It didn't get any drier.  In fact, it got wetter, but that's by the way.  

My doubts started rising, but Ben seemed keen so we started climbing.  It wasn't actually raining at that point, and although the rocks were wet, my "Five Tens" were gripping really well.  When Ben realised his hiking boots were going to make him slip off the mountain and die, he took them off, deciding to attempt to climb barefoot.

It was around that point that it started to rain, the clouds came down to meet us, and the previously wet rocks became rivers and waterfalls.  Climbing up a little further, my heart in my mouth, I decided that especially as I had never even attempted Beerwah in the dry, Beerwah in the wet was not going to happen.  

Yes.  There was cloud BELOW us, and yes, those are Ben's toes.

Cloud above us too, and Ben's bare feet, as proof for Dad.

The main reason I decided not to climb any higher was that Ben told me a story of some guys who climbed up it in the cloud and lost their way and fell off the cliff and broke a leg and couldn't get rescued because the helicopter couldn't fly in the conditions.

Some of what we climbed, with added waterfalls.

A wet and concerned Kate... surely stories of people falling and being unrescuable would scare others too?

When we got back to the bottom I took a photo of Beerwah in the cloud behind us.  The cloud was lower when we were ascending: in fact you can see blue to the left, so the rain was clearly easing!  Maybe we could have achieved it!

So instead, I took Ben up Tiberoowuccum (MY mountain) and got bitten by a thousand mosquitos, all of which seemed to want to come home with us in the car.

And now, I am home, and safe, and dry, and doing countless loads of laundry on my day off to counteract Lily throwing up in my bed on EVERYTHING.