In the rain

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We had been at the show for about 15 minutes when it started to drizzle. The Tamborine Mountain showgrounds are small, with one pavilion building and one arena; a nice size for making your way around slowly with kids. We had come prepared with a motley collection of raincoats and toddler sized snow jacket, and the rain did little to dampen our enthusiasm as we bought a jar of finger lime marmalade, and a packet of sweets, and watched a snake handler casually display a number of poisonous snakes, and talk about how he goes into anaphylactic shock when bitten. It has been so dry recently that any rain is an exciting novelty, even when it’s dripping down the back of your shirt.

I really love going to little country shows, even the expensive rides and the ridiculous games where you’re guaranteed to win a terrible prize which will fall apart 5 minutes after you receive it. I like walking around and looking at the exhibits, reading names and wondering about the identity of the people who have carefully put together the plate of French jellies (what on earth are French jellies) or a decorated set of commercial biscuits. The artwork is always an enjoyable mixture of the quite good and the rather terrible.

As it rained, a mist descended – the mountain no doubt covered in cloud from the perspective of the lowlands. We sat on wet seats and watched a car-pulling competition, with a good-natured selection of motley teams doing their best to haul a car the fastest over 20 metres, the wet ground causing its fair share of slips and falls.

The kids wanted to go on a deserted and soaking-wet bouncing castle, and they jumped around gleefully shrieking, clambering up the slippery ladder and hurtling down the slide into a puddle of water that had gathered at the bottom. They came off as thoroughly wet as if they’d jumped into a pool, hair dripping in their eyes, both talking at the same time. “Did you see me…” “Did you see when I…”

We drove home on the winding road, through thick patches of cloud, trees looming up dark and imposing on each side of the road against the whiteness, the occasional car’s headlights gleaming up through the mist. The rain had stopped, and the kids were damp and silent in the back seat, listening to the tyres swishing on the wet road.

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Concert

Gold Coast

We sat on the hill overlooking the stage, near the mixing desk. Intermittent lightning of a storm to the south flashed on the horizon, highlighting the scattered clouds above us. People around us talked about whether it would rain, and what songs they hoped to hear, and in tones of mild dawning horror, how many under-aged kids there were sitting around them.

When Hozier started playing we all stood. The hippy chick next to us started dancing and singing ecstatically in a vague circle around her partner. He was Viking-like with long blonde hair and a beard, and stood stock-still while his partner danced, the immobile rock around which she orbited. Slightly in front of them stood a couple who spent most of the concert rhythmically stroking each other’s arses. “They’re engaged,” said my companion in a tone of mild disdain. “Who the hell is that into each other once they’re engaged.”

Hozier was an excellent live performer supported by a great band; many of his songs are recorded with beautiful background harmonies, and they were reproduced so well in concert. The rain held off while we sang and clapped and then streamed out, walking back into the city. It began to fall as I drove home on the highway, the big spattering drops and the rhythm of the wipers punctuating the memories of music playing around in my head.

Brains

While my brother and I live in (roughly) the same city – well, he lives within it, and I live 50ks away – we don’t spend a lot of time together, so it was nice to spend some time hanging out with him on the weekend. I asked for a coffee, which he didn’t have, so he offered me some kava which was steeping away in a coffee plunger looking brown and sludgy. “Is it nice?” I asked doubtfully, and he said it tasted how it looked, which was entirely accurate – gritty and sourly unpleasant. Then he taught me how to play The Decemberists’ Down by the Water, which I hadn’t heard before. We recorded a fairly crappy version of the song through the sophisticated method of lying a mic on a table and sitting around it. Given that it’s a directional vocal mic, I thought the balance and sound were surprisingly good – my slightly out of tune ukulele and the uncertain harmonies I was singing, not so much. I really like how our voices blend together, although I suppose that has a bit to do with genetics, rather than our magnificent vocal skills.

Later I had dinner with a friend at Piaf at South Bank, where we shared snails and lamb’s brains for our entrees. I hadn’t eaten either before and didn’t particularly take to them. Not so much because of flavour, as I thought they both simply took on the flavour of what they were cooked with, but the texture of both was fairly unappealing. Particularly the brains, which were softly slippery, and as I swallowed I kept thinking about my own brain, and people eating my brain out of my skull with spoons. I am not an adventurous eater when it comes to offal. And clearly I am also a drama queen. I don’t feel the need to consider my limbs when eating a leg of lamb.

The rest of our meal was fantastic though, and then we wandered along the river for a while and watched a laser light show, while I checked my phone occasionally and updated my disinterested dining companion on the rugby score as Ireland unexpectedly beat Australia. We then went and found a cafe to order dessert, and a couple of enormous long blacks which were served in bowls, with a cute mini milk bottle on the side. I was rather taken with the novelty of coffee-in-a-bowl, but it was an idiotic choice of beverage, given that it was my first coffee of the day and consequently I was cheerful and brightly alert until after midnight when I forced myself to try and sleep. No more novelty sized bowls of coffee for me. Not at night, anyway.

Sport and baby feet

As the office closed early on Friday, we went and played golf. In hindsight I’m not entirely sure why I agreed to go, as I have very rarely played, and it’s not the most fascinating of games. Thankfully, playing with a bunch of lunatics (ie. my workmates) makes it a little more interesting.

I am not so masochistic as to post a photo of what my golf swing looks like, but in the interest of amusement, I will link to it. I’m not quite sure how my wrist bends like that.

In order to recover from the ordeal of golfing, I went and stole a baby and tickled its feet. Very rejuvenating.

And then after I returned the stolen baby, I thought I’d take a couple of family portraits, while everyone else all leapt around like lunatics trying to coax some smiles out of the subject – with some success.

I think I’m improving at portraiture, although I took way too many shots today trying to get those fleeting smiles – editing down from 600 photos is a lot more painful than snapping them off.

On an island

A few weeks ago, we went boating for my sister in law’s birthday – putting down the Pumicestone Passage and anchoring (ie. beaching the boats, and hurling the anchors onto the sand – does that count as anchoring?) on a little beach on Bribie Island.

There was fishing:

And a grand total catch of one flathead, which was promptly barbecued and eaten. I also made a birthday cake – a Chai Cake with Honey & Ginger Cream. A three layer cake, as ever since making the wedding cake I can’t seem to move away from triple layer cakes for celebrations. It was a nice cake, but it didn’t blow my mind – I thought the honey flavour in the icing was a little strong, and the cake itself was the teensiest bit dry. The chai spices are gorgeous though, and it held up well, despite being transported on a boat and cut on a beach.

The excitement of boating and birthday cake was topped off by the discovery of a horse skeleton.

Isn’t that the most picturesque horse skeleton you ever saw? I presume that there are some wild horses roaming over Bribie Island. It seems more likely than someone galloping romantically down to the shore, having their horse expire under them, and shrugging to themselves, “Oh well – guess I’ll have to walk home.” But I suppose anything’s possible.

Hosanna

Tony Backhouse conducting at a gospel workshop over the weekend. I love singing gospel, and really enjoy his workshops – not only the chance to sing with a big group, but also with such a great choir leader. There’s nothing like that feeling of singing gospel and having the group really getting into the groove in the vamp section, the words and rhythm gradually changing, and everyone moving together. Fantastic.

Birds

Looking back over a year’s photographs, I can usually tell when my mother and her partner have come to stay – I generally take a lot more bird photographs. It’s a lot easier when Mum and Allen are pointing them out for me so I can take the photo, and then identifying them for me. Effortless birdwatching.

Mum was sporting a new camera this time, the Nikon D90 with that beautiful 18 – 200mm lens, which I was particularly envious of every time my birdwatching lens, the budget 70 – 300mm, groaned away trying to focus. I feel a bit sorry for that lens, everything is such an effort for it. But I do appreciate the distance you can be from your subject with the 300mm reach, as well as the $150 price tag. And if I take enough photos, and the light is right, I can still get some gorgeous shots.

That’s a grey fantail in the backyard – a lucky shot, as it was perched so nicely in the light, and flew away a moment later.

One of our kookaburras – we have three that live around the house, which I think are a pair with perhaps last year’s baby. I think the last residents of the house used to feed them, judging by the number of perching posts and feeding spots around the house, and the way the kookaburras like to sit and watch you when you’re sitting on the verandah, slowly turning their head one way and the other but always keeping you in view.

This Variegated Fairy-wren was another lucky shot, at Berrinba Wetlands in Logan. This was about the only clear and nicely composed shot of about 20 that I took as she flitted around from branch to branch. I think I really only got this because she had paused and was trying to eat the moth or insect that she’s got in her beak.

We had a great afternoon in the Berrinba Wetlands, which is a fairly new and busy park – not so much a birdwatching park really, despite the wetlands, but a great park to go to with kids and bikes, as there’s lots of wide paths for riding and picnic spots. I’d like to go walking there again, perhaps in the early morning, and see if there’s a greater variety of water birds (as we only saw a few ducks).

Frozen elk

I went to visit the Asia Pacific Triennial at the Gallery of Modern Art on the weekend. This was one of my favourite exhibits, a stuffed elk, completely covered in glass globes.

I also loved this huge mushroom-cloud-shaped sculpture of discarded metal – there’s even a trumpet stuck in there near the top.

I’m pretty sure I don’t appreciate art as it’s supposed to be appreciated – for example, this installation comments on Chinese history and conformity and so on, but I just think it looks cool.

Also in the it-looks-cool basket – this wallpaper. I think I may need to paper an entire room in the house in lurid blue paper.

In the vineyard

I went down to Thumm Estate this afternoon to celebrate part of Kat’s hen’s weekend – we lunched on bruschetta and smoked salmon terrine, with a sparkling shiraz, then headed over to have a tour of the port barrels.

There was much hilarity.

I bought some coffee liqueur which was just divine, and a sparkling rose which tasted of summertime and honey (and which I am plotting to drink outside, preferably while picnicking).

Venman

We went walking today at Venman Bushland National Park, intending to do the long circuit walk around the park. We did that successfully, but then we tried to do a small additional circuit while in the depths of the park and got lost for a little while. Not so lost that we weren’t on a path, but it wasn’t the path that we intended to be on. Venman is part of several parks that intersect, and at a few times we seemed to be heading in entirely the wrong direction. The signage leaves a bit to be desired.

We found this little echidna trotting through the bush, and promptly galloped after him with, I’m sure, terrifyingly loud thumping steps. He scuttled to a dead tree when he heard us, curling up firmly and waited for us to go away. We stood for a while quietly hoping he would head off again, but he didn’t seem to be fooled, particularly by my loud whispering, and eventually we left him be.

We found the correct path again, after walking around in circles for a little while, and headed back on the last part of the circuit.

This little wallaby dashed across the path in front of us, easily slipping through a barbed wire fence. I think it’s probably a red necked wallaby, as they’re common in the park. We see them around our place too, although over winter it’s too dark in the mornings to identify them – I just hear the thumping in the morning as they move through the bush behind the house.

Our goal next time we head to Venman is to manage to complete the walk we start off doing, without heading off on unintended detours.