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Posts Tagged ‘water’

Afternoon teaThankfully, in direct contrast to the previous week. The loveliness included:

Afternoon Tea (aka High Tea in Sydney, although I’m told that High Tea is actually much less fancy that afternoon tea) for the lovely flickgc’s birthday on Monday afternoon. I took two hours off work, overloaded on tea and sugary things, met some lovely people and participated in a lot of interesting conversation. Much needed social interaction. I was exhausted by the end of it, as I’ve not needed to use those social muscles in a while. Felt good though, had a wonderful time.

Also, I had my best “tea” voice on, so apparently I didn’t sound at all Australian for a few of the guests. Quite chuffed by this, as it means I still have good accent mimic skills and ability to pick up a language by osmosis, including dialects/variants of languages.

An interesting urgent project at work, which meant I had to rapidly absorb planning, water conservation and biodiversity plans. Got to take on an Us v Them mentality, which often helps me to get work done. Also had fun spreading large (A1) size maps over tables and plotting out major projects in our area, like a war strategy room. No small figurines though.

I’m still working on it, and it’s now becoming a drag, unfortunately. I’ve noticed that this place is very good at inital briefings, and then very bad at ongoing support and follow-up to make sure you’re on track and not having difficulties. This frustrates me as I feel that they don’t care, or that the need has been hyped and the task is actually not ‘urgent’ and then I feel undervalued. This seems to be an ongoing challenge for me.

I was reflecting on this today, what I want is to be trading my dedication and effort for money, not just time for money. Unfortunately at the moment it is most definitely time for money. On the plus side, I’m still waiting on news of the Civil Service job I had an interview for, which should be coming through sometime in the next 2 weeks. Perhaps that will improve my work life.

View over the Thames Dinner with Mikki in Putney for lovely catch-up chatson Wednesday. Photo at right is the view out the window of the pub we randomly found, after walking in the wrong direction for the one I’d found online.

We’re going to try to do these more regularly, as I need social contact, and she’s about to move to New Zealand. I know, I move halfway around the world and end up near my best friend from University and she promptly moves to New Zealand. At least it’s not personal, as this decision had been made before I told her I was moving.

Listening to a couple of bands on Saturday night with friends at the local, tiny pub. They were billed as metal bands, which I could cope with as long as they weren’t screamy-thrash metal, and the venue has an outdoor area if needed for escape. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find instead a more grunge/metal/funk style, which was fantastic. Jed bought the album.

poached eggs on toasted muffinsMy birthday on Sunday (yay!) was just perfect. We got up early-ish and trekked into London to go to brunch at the Pavilion in Victoria park. One of the things I have sorely missed here is a good Newtown style brunch. I’m pleased to say we found it! Picture of the perfect poached eggs at left, and the remains of the coffee.

You know you’ve found a good coffee/brunch venue when you’re told your normal style of coffee won’t work with their coffee blend and perhaps you’d like this other (little known, but actually the one you prefer but never ask for as it’s too hard to explain) style. Also, they had Bonsoy! And moorhens! And tables beside the lake! And people with dogs and children (not always together)! And wait staff who were stylish and cool, but also cared! And! And!

I was in heaven, in case you can’t tell.

Celebrations that evening in Balham with 7 unconnected friends who happened to be free to attend a very last minute drinks-and-dinner. Just the right amount of people. We found a fun Italian place, Cuitto’s, on Balham High Rd, which I’d recommend. Good food, fantastically friendly service, and a surprise piece of birthday tiramisu delivered after a whistle was blown so the entire tiny restaurant stopped and sang me Happy Birthday. Fun, thoughtful, and amusing.

Jed and I were quite gentle with each other all week. Designating quiet nights together, and more space and understanding for the other’s moods. Possibly the week before was our pent up emotions and stresses venting, and hence this week was a lot more even tempered and understanding. This included a lovely Friday evening where I made pork escalopes with elderberry sauce, made from the elderberries we picked on the common the previous Sunday. Very yummy! I’m having a great time with experimental cooking.

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This is probably going to become a regular post, since it’s good to think about it.

NB: I am a firm believer in the phrase “It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just different”. This is me observing the differences in my new culture, not casting judgement on what is right or wrong. Possibly with the exception of number 4, and maybe 5.

  1. The smell of smoke is not a cue to panic, it might be someone legitimately having a bonfire in their backyard. Not that there are not health and environment issues with this, just that it’s NOT A RAGING BUSHFIRE THAT MIGHT RAIN BLACK GUM LEAVES DOWN UPON YOU.
  2. Heels are more common than flats, actually smartly dressed women are much more common. Possibly the result of a colder climate and tailoring being necessary in winter.  Or maybe a more defined class conciousness? Whichever way I am torn between wanting to fit in and my standard impulse to want to be that extra bit stylish and cool, which was much easier in Sydney’s relaxed clothing environment.
  3. Water running out of taps is more OK. Mostly over this one now, but it’s strange to shift from adrought mentality to a mentality that admits it’s not so dire.
  4. Teenage pregnancies and teenage mothers are more obvious, more common. It seems to be seen as a valid lifestyle choice, and no-one really seems to know what to do about it, or accept that it’s a systemic social failure, except from a moralising THEY should know better and SOMEONE should do seomthing about it, but really what can anyone do, it’s in their nature/background/upbringing/education. Sex education doesn’t seem to be as common, or as thorough and straightforward. Not that I have the answers either, I’m just noting it as part of the weird.
  5. Drinking to excess is more normal. I’m starting to feel like a grumpy goody-two-shoes because I don’t drink much. Regualr drinks on a weeknight are normal, getting completely plastered on the weekend is virtually expected and you didn’t have a good weekend if that didn’t happen. Almost as if a large part of the population never got over their early twenties.

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Bay of the Hawkesbury
Originally uploaded by Miss Krin

A friend and I went to Kuringai National Park on Saturday to go on a walk and do some camping, but the closure of most of the walks in the park due to fires stopped that idea.

Instead we had a day of spontaneity which was wonderful.

First stop Illawong Point (the photo) where it was shoes off and stand on rocks in the water time while chatting about the nature of the universe.

Then a drive around General Martin Drive until we hit the edge of the national park and an inviting hillside encouraged us to climb it, sit on a rock for 20 mins and just listen to a whip bird calling his mate. It was a she-oak, bracken fern and cabbage tree palm forest, nice and open, yet a bit lush with hidden pockets. The fact that the incline was essentailly a soft cliff made the climb just enough of a challenge, particularly as we were making our own path.

Just around the corner from there we found a picnic ground with a wharf and people fishing. Better yet we found a medium sized fig tree that was crying out to be climbed. So we did. And then lazed about in the branches for a while enjoying the sensation of doing stuff just because it is fun. Saw some poocackle birds (my family’s name for yellow-breasted honey eaters) having a territorial scuffle, and saw an badly disguised sleepy possum up a tree. Badly disguised as it was a single tree, which was quite bare and he’d wedged himself a third of the way up. We sort of stared at each other for a while but he was too dopey to do much else than move his ears a bit. It’s good to know that he was fearless enough to do that, mustn’t be too many cats in the area.

Stormy weather broke over our heads at one point, which was exhilarating, but as it only lasted for a few minutes we didn’t suffer any consequences.

After describing the day on my radio show later that evening I was sent the xkcd comic below. Sums it all up really. Hurrah for simple, happy days.

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I was reading the paper this morning, and came across the article about drenching rain in western NSW and across Victoria. Hooray! While reading the article I had something tickling the back of my brain and I finally realised what it was. My parents are currently travelling outback South Australia and NSW, of course it’s raining!

During my childhood we spent every Easter holiday and some winter holidays driving through western NSW and NE South Australia. I’ve been to Tibooburra more times than most people (which incidentally had the highest recorded rainfall yesterday, 44 mill. In a place where the kids are sent home from school if it rains) I’ve jumped across all the states at Cameron’s Corner, I’ve mined for rose gypsum on a sheep farm past Broken Hill and I’ve had a semi-tame wedge tail eagle land on my back and give me some serious scratches. I’ve travelled the Oodnadatta track and the Birdsville track, stayed underground at Coober Pedy and almost been bogged in Lake Ayre. I’ve seen more miles of red sand than anyone ever should, and when my department recently insituted a photo based screensaver of some of the work we do, including shots of various national parks I was able to say “been there” to most of them.

The thing we never managed to achieve in all of these trips was to make it to Cooper’s Crossing, where Burke and Wills died. Never. We tried many, many times. Why? Floods.

Every time we went outback it flooded. Really serious flooding.

The Nyngan floods that were up to the second storey? We almost got caught in that. We only just made it out of the town and across the bridge at West Wyalong before they closed it. I can still remember the volume of water splashing up around the car.

My grandfather was a country boy, he grew up in Cobar and lived most of his early adult life in Griffith. He was with us on the trip where Nyngan flooded. This is the grandfather that told stories of catching rabbits during the depression, who would regale us with tales of wongas, fierce creatures that hid in the bush ready to pounce on children while bushwalking unless we carried a strong walking stick with us to beat them off (he even explained the cut out piece in his ear as where some wongas had got him early in life. I later found out it was a skin cancer). He had a tale to explain the flooding. “Someone ran over the Rainbow Serpent” was his explanation, gave it a good squishing and now it was grumpy and was dumping lots of rain on us.

It was a fun explanation. I miss him and his stories.

What did the rest of us think? We just figured that every time the Taylors went outback it was going to rain. The evidence is still holding up. We stopped the outback trips around the time that the drought started in 1996ish, and only started going back in the last couple of years. It’s rained every time Mum & Dad, or my brother have gone out.

I wonder if we could sell our services as rain gods, a la Douglas Adams’ “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul“. I suppose I could do my bit, as long as we don’t have to play “spot the first spinifex” ever again.

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Circular QuayI have a couple of things to write after the busy weekend that just was, but first the post that I penned on the 8.52 train out of Circular Quay last Thursday night. Be warned this is a direct transcribing of my scribble after 3 glasses of champagne and no dinner, it’s a free flowing stream of consciousness.
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There are many things about my new workplace that I love, the respect shown to colleagues, the friendships that exist in parallel to the work that we do and the engagement with the world that is exhibited. This evening’s activity/ adventure was one of these.

5 girls from the office caught the 5pm ferry from Parramatta to Circular Quay then had champers at the Opera Bar and gossiped and people watched.

The ferry ride was lovely, mangroves, the small of salt water, a touch of rain, memories of a Rod Quantock trip that Fitz and I did last year. I finally saw the elephants on the property next to Drummoyne. Pity I didn’t have my camera out.

It was on the train ride home that I remembered why I love Sydney. It is just pretty, especially on a Summer’s evening. There is a sense of relaxation and of gentle light, of trees and old buildings mixing with the new, modern glass ones. It just seems to shine. There is a feeling that you have all the time in the world to absorb the peace of the city, but also to indulge in its activity if you like.

The past few months have found me spending more time around the harbour than the previous 2 years and it’s a bit of a revelation how much the harbour both grounds me and uplifts my spirits. Time for some more ferry rides methinks.

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On the whole not a bad drunken sentimental ramble, I even managed to bring it back round to the early ferry trip. I was hard pressed trying to work out whether to include a photo of the ferry trip, or the city since it rambles around both. Hopefully the best picture won in the end. Now I am carrying a notebook in my bag with me where ever I go there may be a few more of these. Scared?

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Thunderstorms

There was a fantastic storm over Sydney this afternoon, the first of the season. I was caught in it on the way home and got saturated. Which I absolutely loved. There’s something very liberating about walking in a summer rain shower. It’s warm enough that you don’t have to worry about getting cold and it just smells so wonderful.

While walking in the heaviest part of the down pour I felt the most happy and most at peace that I had all week. I was hopeful again.

A storm over Sydney in 2004

There’s a strong tradition in my family of being outdoors during thunderstorms. When we were younger we would all gather on the front doorstep to watch the storm roll across the Sydney basin. Then when we were slightly older, my brother, sister and I would put on our gumboots and tromp outside to play in the gutter. This eventually involved taking off the gumboots and using them as a scoop to throw water at each other. We’d dam the flow of water with our feet and kick water at each other and generally just have fun in the rain, secure that we could wander back inside to a warm house with towels.

The Thais have a very different idea of rain. They are scared of it. In a tropical country that experiences monsoon. It has something to do with catching the flu and something to do with acid rain. They used to think I was mad when I would walk (not run) between shelters when it was raining, usually asking “aren’t you scared?”. Thailand had some fantastic rain showers. One morning the entire school was lined up for assembly, singing the national anthem. Off to our right we could see a cube of dense water approaching, “cube” is the only way to describe the way this rain was behaving. That was the fastest anthem I have ever heard, since we couldn’t move until it was finished. Then we all bolted for the classrooms.

Rain makes me happy. A serious downpour makes me very happy. It’s nice to remember what that feels like. It’s been a dumb week, month, thing.

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