Sunday, December 31, 2017
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
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Christmas tree we helped to build on top of Beerwah.
At the top of Tibro with Tash.
No view on Mt Warning...
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.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
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.
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.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
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.
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!
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
I am ever so very tired. I woke up this morning at 0300 feeling wide awake, and ended up doing my budget on my laptop for want of anything else to do. Today is officially my day off, but it started in Townsville - again - and so far has involved a 10k hike including Castle Hill (yes, I was tired to start off with), a doctor appointment, and now paxing home.
I wasn't staying in the normal crew hotel, so it was a nice surprise to find out that breakfast was included. After some eggs, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh fruit - and of course the inevitable coffee - I set off to find Castle Hill.
I was a little annoyed to find that they had closed the Goat Track for renovations. They are putting in horrible man made stairs. It always makes me sad when perfectly good trails are made artificial.
I entered at my own peril, but had to change route onto the main road half way due to the construction. No sign of back burning.
Pano over the bay and magnetic island. Dad, I can send you a full resolution picture.
It was a really hard climb, partly due to the few beers I had last night, partly due to lack of sleep and partly because it was almost 5k to the Goat Track in the first place!
Me, just about alive - but barely.
Some other man made staircase that I did not go down as I ran out of time before my appointment.
I then descended via the main road as fast as I could - half running until the stitch got too bad (thanks, free breakfast) - and half walking. I then got an Uber from the base and made it to my appointment, nice and hot and sweaty but on time. (And then waited half an hour for the doctor). 9k total, plus the 1k walk from the doctor back to the hotel. Not too shabby for a morning in Townsville.
The reason for the doctor was to check that I didn't damage my ears yesterday while flying. We had a rapid descent due to various issues that I'm not going to go in to on the blog: if any one wants details, email me! Everyone was fine, we just had to follow the process and get checked out, and now I'm paxing home to Brisbane, hopefully for days off!
I'm glad I got to see the view from Castle Hill though: maybe next time the Goat Track will be fully open.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Monday, October 23, 2017
"Sometimes, falling feels a lot like flying."
Left base to RWY01 BNE just before sunset
I get that. And, as I'm a pilot in my spare time, I feel I can reserve the right to use any quote I see fit. I do have a few favourites. I also reserve the right to start a sentence with a conjunction as a) it's my blog and b) beer. PS all the best blogs are written with beer PPS not all PSs have to be at the end (my blog, my rules).
Douglas Adams in the "Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" has a good section on flying: there is indeed an art to flying, he surmises, "The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss".
Learn more at
Or read the book, I dare you.
I'm not sure I've really worked out the missing part. I guess I need more distractions.
My dog is demanding more Cheese and Bacon shapes. I think she recognises that once the beer comes out, there is no more Lily-can't-have-anything-more-than-5%-fat rule and Pancreatitis-isn't-a-thing. -#irresponsiblemother.
I have just finished six days' flying - one was a reserve - and have climbed quite a few Things. I'd like to call them mountains but I also hesitate to call anything less than 1000m a mountain. The Glasshouse Hills doesn't really have the same ring to it. I also want to take Lil up Tiberoowuccum tomorrow but that depends on whether I crack open another beer - but given the amount of food I've eaten today, I should get hiking!
BNE CBD from a little bit south of GLENN.
"Sometimes, falling feels a lot like flying."
I just thought I'd quote that again. I really like that quote.
"I balanced all, brought all to mind.
The years ahead seemed waste of breath
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death."
-W B Yeats
Probably my most favourite poem ever. Call me morbid but, it's awesome.
"A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds!"
See? It's not all morbid!
Sometimes you can see the turbulence
Then there's of course Learning to Fly, by Pink Floyd.
"There’s no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, a state of bliss
Can’t keep my mind from the circling sky
Tongue-tied and twisted
Just an earth-bound misfit, I"
It took a long time for me to start feeling lonely. I think I recognise it now. I think that having Things Almost Within My Reach has brought on an attack of the Feels. Maybe the beer is helping, maybe not. Maybe I will die alone - Lily will only last 10-12 years and I hope I have longer than that - but who knows. Can I be happy just being me? Me, and just me, for ever? My father's father used to say that Forever is a very long time. I never realised until now how true that was.
"Sometimes, falling feels a lot like flying."
Sunrise, BNE airport
I have to say that in actual day to day flying, there aren't a whole lot of "state[s] of bliss" or "tumult[s] in the clouds" which, for the benefit of the General Public, is probably a good thing. But at least flying (and climbing Things) gets me out of the house.
Apparently I was mean in my previous post, commenting about someone being slower at climbing than me. I disagree. It's not mean to say what I think on my very own blog. I tone down a lot of what I really want to say - that maybe I would say, with beer - because of who I know will be reading it. I don't say what I think because I'm afraid of other people's reactions. I don't say what I think in Life in General because of Other People. I don't tell people what I like, what I prefer, what I want to do. I don't tell people no, I don't say "actually, I don't enjoy this" because I'm afraid I will offend someone. So yes, someone was slower at climbing than me. So yes, I was bloody slow when I climbed it the first time. So yes, I was commenting that she was slower than I would have liked, and I had wanted to climb the whole thing without stopping. I still want to climb the whole thing without stopping. Would I take her again? Yes, of course. Would I take her again on a day when I wanted to climb without stopping? No, probably not. Is it okay to say she was slow? Well, I don't think it would be nice for me to tell her that she was slow, but for me to comment on my very own blog about how I actually feel? I think that's ok. In fact, I wish I did it more often. I don't, because People, and I don't even think that this will make me start: but I do reserve the right to do so. Maybe that's what got me in trouble in the first place. You know, with life, the universe, and everything. Love, marriage, and the non-existent baby carriage. Not saying how I really felt. There you have it! And now, it's me and Lily and if I decide to say something on my blog: so be it!
And yes, sometimes falling feels very much like flying.
And sometimes, even drinking all of the leftover beer doesn't mean that one feels any less lonely than one did before.
And at times like these, friends saying "but I live thirty seconds away, you could hang out with me" really doesn't cut it. Thanks, and I appreciate it, but wearing my heart on my sleeve and all that, me and Lily just gonna sit here on the couch and continue feeling Lonely.
PS: I'm not an alcoholic
PPS: I plan to hike Tiberoowuccum tomorrow.
PPPS: if it wasn't an enforced day off (day 7) I'd probably volunteer to work.
PPPPS: I'm not an alcoholic Take 2.
Sunset á la Embraer
Friday, October 20, 2017
Shocking photo but it's all I've got.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Friday, October 6, 2017
Thursday, October 5, 2017
(We didn't actually fly the last part)
The second cave. I pretty much stopped taking photos then because, yeah. Fatigue.