Monday, November 28, 2016

The year of the beach

It's definitely the year of the beach, and I'm loving it.  Lily seems to love it too! 

I made a sand crocodile, with Lily in the photo for size.  Amanda made a turtle.

Lily found a cuttlefish bone and it gave her a couple of hours of entertainment.  Unfortunately there were too many bluebottles (jellyfish) washed up on the sand for us to risk swimming, but we still had fun playing in the sand!  

Bluebottles give a very nasty sting which isn't fatal but causes a lot of pain! I've never been stung by one but want to keep it that way.

There were hundreds of tiny sea dragons on the sand also.  We didn't know if these were dangerous so just stayed away from them.  They were about an inch in diameter.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


2016.  There's a lot I could say about this year, and a lot I won't, but what I will say is that God has been good.  I don't usually post anything "religious" on here, I guess I'm usually afraid of people's opinions, and worrying about what they think of me.  At the same time, it's my space, so I'm afraid you're just going to have to deal. 

I started going to church again at about the time that my life began to completely fall apart, and I have made a few very good friends there.  Having people to talk to, people who understand, and people who, strangely enough, don't judge, has been invaluable.  I have lots of preconceived ideas about church, preconceived from my upbringing, my expectations, and so on, and that's been a bit of a struggle in itself, but it's not about that.  It's not about whether or not I read the Bible, or go to church every Sunday, or remember to pray every night before I go to bed.  At least, for me it's not - I've never been good at that, and I'm all done with striving.

In the midst of everything bad that's happened in 2016, in the midst of all my despair and loneliness, God's still there.  God is still good.  God hasn't changed.  I think a lot about Job, and God-forbid that Job's misfortunes ever happen to me, but I want to believe like Job.  I don't want to experience misfortune like Job, because you know, no thanks, but if I did?  Whether what's happened to me is everything I have to go through, or whether it's only the very tip of the iceberg and my house is going to burn down with everything I have inside, I want to be able to say "God is good." 

I don't claim what Job claimed: I don't claim his innocence or his purity in all his actions, but I do claim that I still believe in God whatever the circumstance.  And in many ways, 2016 has truly tested my belief, and yet I have received so much this year. 

I have friends, who have stood by me through thick and thin.  I have family, who have interceded for me daily.  I have Lily, who has given the best cuddles whenever I've been feeling down, and I have the house, which is causing me a great deal of angst in having to organise, but in general is incredibly exciting.  I even have a new housemate who can be slightly annoying (I thought airplanes were boring, but trains are even more so) but who actually cooks me dinner when I get home from work, and cleaned the house, folks.  Cleaned the house.  I also have work, which can get in the way of life, at times, but pays the bills and is much better than sitting behind a desk.

And as 2016 pulls to a close, and as I plan to actually move into the new house, it is easy to be afraid of 2017.  Afraid of how I'm going to feel when I move in - alone - and even afraid of being happy.  Guilty, perhaps?  I guess what I really need to remember is that I'm not alone.  I might be alone from a relationship point of view, but in every other?  I'm not alone, because God.  I'm not alone, because Friends.  I'm not alone, because Family.  And guess what?  You're all invited to come to my house and Be Not Alone With Me. 


Monday, November 21, 2016


Orion made me feel strangely homesick last night, when I took Lily out for her pre-bed walk.  He was hanging high in the sky, but upside down.  He's always upside down, or at best side-ways on, and it feels odd, and makes me think of home.  Lily didn't notice, bouncing around like a mad thing while I shone my torch ahead of her, carefully looking out for cane toads.

The trees made me homesick this morning, in their quintessentially Australian way.  The road to Woollies is lined with flame trees, and I love their burning glory, but they're not Irish.


The trees in the park by the house are gum trees with their peeling bark, and pale eucalyptus.  The birds are angry plovers, screaming their fury at my invading their turf.  

At home, winter is beginning, and Dad's blog is full of the Autumn foliage, frosted fields, and all round coldness.  Here, it reached 37C last week, the summer storms have set in, and even at 0700 this morning, it was too hot to run.

Lily doesn't know any better: she runs anyway.  When we get back to the house she drips water from her bowl everywhere, and then collapses panting on the cold tiles.


This is home, I know, but home is also thousands of miles away, and sometimes it feels even further.  I'm excited about the new house, and looking forward to moving in, but it also feels like it ties me down even more.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Camping: home time

Day 3 started much more pleasantly than day 2, despite Tachi feeling the need to swipe a droolly lick across my face to wake me.  The flies seemed to have dispersed, but we still ate inside the tent just in case.  Pancakes (thanks, Sarah, for the recipe), fresh mango and maple syrup.  So good.  We originally planned to pack up camp straight away but ended up taking a walk down the beach.  The sea was crazily rough, with strong currents clearly seen with tangled white caps, and none of us were brave enough to swim.  We stood in the shallows (which became thigh to waist high with occasional waves) to wash the grime from ourselves, but other than that, steered clear of it.  


High tide soon followed, which we hadn't seen before.  Maybe we were sleeping or maybe we were on Rainbow beach, who knows.  Anyway, high tide formed a shallow (knee deep) pool on the beach, sheltered from the waves by the high sand at the sea's edge.  The pool was formed by waves breaking over this ledge, and it was warm and calm.  

Immediately we decided it would be a great opportunity for the dogs to "learn to swim", or rather, become comfortable with water.  Tachi was having none of it, having been well and truly scarred by her paddle board experience of the previous day.  I had bought Lily a life jacket a couple of weeks ago, and being that she is totally in to playing fetch with her blue massage ball, I started throwing it into the water for her.  

Beginning to thrash a little!

Initially she would only just go in and then stand crying - I then grasped the handle on top of her jacket and held her close, swimming her to the ball - which she then grabbed in her mouth and swam back to shore.

Yay!  Good job, Lily!

Swim, Lily, swim!

Soon she was voluntarily swimming to the ball, wearing the jacket, just making slight squeaks every now and then as she remembered she didn't like the water.  I gave her breaks where I threw the ball onto the dry sand for her to chase, and then I took off the jacket.  Wonder of wonders, with lots of encouragement and me walking close by, she swam out to the ball!  Hurrah!  So proud of her.

Am I there yet?

I got it ! 

After this, we did pack up camp, being thankful of the hired tent that we didn't have to rid of sand!  We stopped for a quick coffee in Rainbow on the way out, and then drove the three hours home.  The dogs slept the entire way.  It was so nice to sleep in my own bed again!  

Sleeping the whole way home

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Camping Day 2

Having survived the first night, and also achieved zero sunburn so far, we got ready for breakfast: a fry up of bacon, sausages, mushrooms and eggs.  J volunteered to be cook, which unfortunately meant that I still had to run around organising everything as he didn't know (or didn't look, anyway) where anything was.  (After this, I cooked, it was the same amount of work!!)  The flies were atrocious, a black cloud of annoyance.  They weren't the biting kind, but we still didn't want to end up eating them.  Every plate was carefully covered with paper towel, but still they managed to force their way around the edges. 

I think this is actually Night 1... 

When the food arrived, we sat down at the camp table and wondered how on earth we were going to eat without ingesting at least one fly per mouthful.  I'm not sure why we didn't think of it sooner, but I made a mad dash for the tent and was quickly followed by the others.  It was so peaceful and fly-free in there that we decided to have all of the rest of our meals there as well - and cooking was moved to the boot of the SUV.

L and I went for a glorious swim, it was so nice to wash the fried breakfast, sand and charcoal off ourselves, even if only with sea water.  The dogs amused themselves on the sand, and Lily guarded L's shorts with her life.  When we came back up to the car, we found that J was now sitting in the car, on his iPad, with the engine running.  He stayed there for at least an hour before we finally tried to extricate him.  Did you really come camping to sit in the airconditioned car?  Is it really a good idea to run the engine this long?  It was the flies, he complained.  By this time the flies had pretty much cleared, so we finally managed to get him to rejoin the party.

A glorious morning for a swim 

We then went to Rainbow Beach, had a look at the surf and decided it was calm enough to hire a stand up paddle board - J wanted to take Tachi out on it.  L and I didn't think that was a good idea, but he was pretty determined.  By the time we had a coffee and hired the board and made our way back down to the beach, the wind had picked up and was stirring up white caps in the sea.  L and I decided to skip paddle boarding but J was still determined.  I got some decent video footage on his phone of Tachi falling off and swimming back to shore as fast as she possibly could! 

Too windy to continue 

Rainbow Beach yellow and white sand dunes 

Rainbow Beach is apparently named that due to the different coloured sands.  If we had a proper 4WD we could have driven along the beach to check it out, as it was, both L and I forbade J from doing so.  We did walk a good kilometer or so along, and there were definitely patches of bright yellow sand along side pale white sand, but nothing remarkably rainbow-ey.  Maybe Google has some better shots.

With a wind-swept Lily

L and the puppies on the walk

Being rather hot at this point, we got thickshakes (what Australia calls milkshakes, because milkshakes in Australia are incredibly runny, like milk) and headed back to the camp site.  We skipped lunch, deciding just to snack on doritos and chocolate chip cookies, and I got started on dinner.  Chicken fajitas: as all the individual ingredients were prepared before the trip, everything just got tossed into the pan and cooked up.  They were then eaten with sour cream, salad and salsa.  All sand free and thankfully fly free in the tent. 

The evening was bitterly cold as the afternoon wind didn't die down at sunset like it did the night before.  We managed to get the camp fire lit but it simply meant that our legs were warm and the rest of us were freezing.  

Campfire number 2

We eventually gave up and went back to the tent at around 2130.  I wrapped up with three t-shirts, a dress, shorts, socks, and two towels, and managed to get a much better night's sleep than the first night!  Despite Tachi deciding half way through to lick me wet and slobbery right across the face.  Bleugh!

J took this of us sleeping ! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Camping day 1

What can I possibly say to sufficiently describe our camping trip?  It was amazing.  I've never felt so much in need of a shower in my entire life.  I'm also getting too old to sleep in a tent.  Lily learnt to swim.  

We were supposed to leave on Monday morning, bright and early at 0600.  Having spent the weekend at our archery club championships, I then spent Sunday evening doing food prep for the camping trip.  I took on my sister's mantel of camping organisation and my mother's list making skills, and managed to forget nothing.  Every meal was organised to the n'th degree, with a big Esky of cold food (quiche, fajitas, mangoes, sausages, bacon, chocolate, picnic stuff, etc), a storage container of kitchen stuff (utensils, paper towel, pans, salt, coffee, tea, etc), and a second storage container of non-kitchen stuff (rope, first aid kit, matches, etc).  Added to that, my backpack of clothes, a camping chair, Lily's life jacket, etc etc etc.  

We actually left closer to 0900.  J messaged the night before saying he was tired, L agreed, and I grumpily gave in.  J brought the hired 4wd so I couldn't really leave without him! He also brought a hired tent and camping stove.  L brought an airmattress for us to sleep on, which was invaluable, as was her frying pan.

It took three hours to drive up to Inskip Point, just south of Frazer Island.  We chose there because it's dog friendly, which was a must.  There were four or five campsite options, so we chose to drive around to check them out before deciding on a campsite.  

Unfortunately, the 4wd we hired was more of a city 4wd than anything else, and on the second sandy track we got bogged.  

Waiting for Dave

Having tried to dig our way out to no avail, I had to run back to the highway (for phone reception) to call for help.  Our rescuer, Dave, arrived in just twenty minutes, and set to work.

Dave getting the winch ready

  It didn't take him long, and he recommended the last camp site which had hard packed sand.  However, once there, we decided we didn't like it at all as it was packed with caravans!  We went back to the very first campsite where, despite the soft sand, we had managed to negotiate the tracks.  It was a lot quieter and we got a site right next to the beach.


Unpacking and setting up the site took a couple of hours, after which we headed for a much needed swim.  The dogs weren't keen on the water, despite our trying to get them used to it.  We had a late lunch, early dinner of quiche, ham and chicken rolls, and chocolate chip cookies, washed down by some cold beer.  

After dinner we walked along the beach and watched the sunset, followed by the super moon rising.

Burying Lily

The sunset was glorious

There were butterflies everywhere

Having been 30+ degrees in Brisbane all week, and forecast the same on the coast, I had decided just to bring a sheet instead of my sleeping bag, and didn't have a sweater or anything else warm with me. It was a windy and fairly chilly evening - the campfire definitely helped - but seemed warm enough when we went to bed.  It soon began to cool down, however, and the sheets and pillows quickly became damp with dew.  I covered myself with the two towels I brought but still shivered my way through the night and was glad when the sun finally came up.  J's air mattress also sprung a leak so he had a very uncomfortable night on the uneven ground !  Add to that the fact that Tachi did not want to sleep - at all - and spent half the night jumping on our faces... Made us a fairly tired and grumpy trio by breakfast time! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Another crazy night of storms.  I just got home from the final Young Adults event at church for 2016, and there was a pretty decent lighting show on the way home.  I was under the impression all of the storms were well south of me, so planned to leave my final load of laundry out overnight as I was too lazy to bring it in.  I took Lily out for a quick run about and toilet.m break before bed (amidst the thunder) and on coming back inside, had a look at the radar.  A mess of red moving fast from the west so I dashed back out to rescue the towels and sheets.  The first heavy drops were falling as I finished and within 30 seconds of shutting the door, all hell broke loose.  Wow, that was close.  Storms here are a lot more interesting than back in Ireland, and can be downright scary at times!


It was really hot and humid today, over 30 degrees and apparently tomorrow will be 37.  I had the air con on for the first time downstairs and almost wish I were working so that I didn't have to cope with the heat ! 

Here is last night's lightning, two screenshots from videos taken on my phone. 


Thankfully Lily has been unaffected by storm terror as yet ! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Medjool Dates

As an experiment I've decided to try to grow a Medjool Date Palm.  I have grown mango saplings before - they were a success, I just never had anywhere to put them - and now this is my new project.

First I soaked the seeds in water for a week, and then wrapped them in damp paper towel and a plastic bag for a couple of weeks.


As you can see, one of the seeds in the middle is just sprouting its first root.  Unfortunately I only thought of taking a picture after planting the first two seeds that had their roots fully germinated.


The two lucky seeds are now in potting compost covered with cling film to hopefully sprout leaves in the coming weeks.  I have two spare pots which will receive the next two seeds to germinate - and the rest will be discarded.

The idea of these palms is purely ornamental: they will go in large ceramic pots down the side of the house and hopefully add a little exotic flair to the block.  I do not expect them to grow into fruitful date palms!

If only the block were big enough for one of my mango trees.


My little tree and other things

I'm going to miss living here.  Although I am really excited about the new house, it is also bitter sweet.  This little house has been my home, and the park down the street the perfect place for Lily to run around in.  It's quiet, homely and if it weren't for the house, I would stay.  

I found the cutest little white Christmas tree in IKEA and decided to put it up early as I could be moving at the beginning of December.  I found mini baubles at Typo and the Japanese shop Daiso provided me a tiny white train.




Apologies for all of the boxes in the background: the packing has begun.  My new housemate H arrives on Saturday and currently the spare room is storage.  I have lots of boxes from L's house move, and I will be filling the garage so that H has somewhere to sleep.  It will be strange sharing this place: it's my own now, but I guess I'm not really here very much! 

Today is the first truly hot day in Brisbane this year, for me at any rate.  I took Lily for a short walk which was altogether unbearably hot, and am now sitting in front of a fan - and it's only 1000.  Lily has collapsed into a little puddle of fluffiness on the tiles - I think I should clip her as it's due to be 37 degrees on Friday.

The hunt for a second housemate continues.  I met a girl on Sunday who was not an option for me.  She spoke a little like a dead fish, was a smoker, had no job lined up and planned to be 100% at home at least until the end of January.  So... No.  She had me switched off at the word "smoker."

I have a quiet week ahead so far which is good.  Two days off then two reserves then I've days off.  The archery club championship is on this weekend and then L, J and I are going camping for three days!  Hurrah for friends :). I'm so excited.  Oh and tomorrow is the Young Adults Finale at church, last catch up til next year and apparently there are Krispy Kremes involved.

In other news, there were mini cup cakes in work yesterday bearing the company logo.  I'm not sure why they were there, but the one I had was amazing.  If that sort of thing continues, I'll definitely stick around !

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Today was so much fun on Bribie Island. 

 I invited Gatsby along, both for company for Lily and so that L had a dog to play with, it being a day out for the two of us.  B dropped him off at about 0730 and we headed off just after 0800.  It was cloudy when we left Brisbane, with promises of "partly cloudy" and "26-27 degrees" on the weather apps.  Once we crossed Ningi towards Bribie Island, however, it began to clear up, and as we crossed the bridge that Pa built, the sky was blue and clear.


We headed down to the dog beach by Woorim (I'm not sure of the name, sorry!) as previously, and the dogs were more than glad to get out of the car - Gatsby having decided to sit on top of Lily in the back, despite wearing a seatbelt, and her uttering loud whingey cries for the remainder of the trip.  Just like having children!


The beach was just glorious, with clear turquoise water and gentle waves.  


Lily once again proved to hate the water, although loving to play in the sand, especially with a ball and Gatsby to chase.  I bought her a life jacket, which we tried out, but she was still much more comfortable on dry land.


We spent a couple of hours on the beach, in and out of the water, and walked down to the southern most tip of the island before packing up and heading to Savige's for a fish and chip lunch.  So good.  

We are going to try to make this a regular event.  It was strange driving past Bracken Street without popping in for a cup of tea, but I thought it would be a little weird for L!  Maybe next time - put the kettle on!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mango chutney take 1

I am very disappointed in myself.

It is finally mango season, and having found mangoes at a decent price, I got all excited and decided to make mango chutney.  Or, for the Aussies in the audience, spiced mango jam.  Same thing. 


So I did.

And then I left it on the stove and went and did banking comparisons and then thought "MANGO CHUTNEY" and leapt towards the stove... but too late.

I burnt the mango chutney.  I could almost cry.

I transferred it to a different pan - but sadly after I started stirring it - and painstakingly fished all of the burnt bits out.  Unfortunately I think it does have a burnt tang to it, but I have jarred it and will wait for my taste buds to reset before tasting it again and seeing whether it is salvageable. 

She did not want to pose next to the chutney. She probably knew it was burnt.

Very, very sad.

So much for multi-tasking.